Why I almost skipped Cataclysm and the reasons I changed my mind

WoW: Cataclysm.

As of this past weekend, my mind was made up. I was going to skip Cataclysm altogether. I wasn’t going to try it, play it, think about it, nothing. I hadn’t seen anything wild or crazy that would make me want to come back and I was perfectly content with the other games that could fill my free time. I was so convinced.

But lo and behold, I ran some errands today and came home with a copy of the game. It wasn’t really an impulsive decision – I had done a decent bit of research about the expansion so I knew what to expect. I really went for it because, well, why not? I hadn’t been a part of an expansion launch yet. I missed Burning Crusade because I had started playing shortly before it came out. I missed Wrath because I had taken a break and didn’t feel compelled to come back at the time. As someone who writes about games for a living, it seems appropriate that I should see at least one launch.

So far, things have been pretty good. I’m playing a Balance Druid, something I’ve never really messed with before. The new zones are certainly bright and colorful and there is plenty of new content to see. I am pretty disappointed, though, by the lack of time spent in the old world. The whole point of this patch was a shattered Azeroth, a world we used to know being torn apart by this big, evil dragon. So why am I swimming around underwater? Why not send me back to the barrens to do some leveling. The old world place I’ve spent most of time is Orgrimmar, but that’s not really different from previous expansions. I’ve always had to go to Orgrimmar for various things, mostly the Auction House. It’s really cool that it’s been redone, but I want to see more of that in other parts of the world.

For now, that’s my one big criticism. I’ll be playing over the next several days if anyone feels compelled to join in. I play on Archimonde under the name “Milkstout.”


All Roads Return to WoW: The death of complexity

Feral Cat Druid.I’m back with my old raiding guild, and even though I’m not raiding I do like to be prepped in case a few people are out of town for a raid night and people still want to go. It’s a nice way for me to see the content without committing too much time and I’m not burdening any guildmates with my wacky schedule.

I asked the raid leader what they tend to be missing when they’re missing people and it turned out to be DPS with the occasional healer. As a druid, I can fill both those roles, which is pretty cool. After gearing up my cat stuff a bit, we talked again and he asked if I was going balance because of the ease of use over feral dps. It struck me as a bit of a weird question. For a game like WoW, I would think complexity is a good thing. The complaint I hear most often about the game is that it gets boring, that everything feels like playing whack-a-mole, regardless of your role, spec, whatever.

Whatever the reasons, it seems complexity has had to exit stage left, at least as far as PvE is concerned. I’m still impressed by the amount of fun I can have in arenas, despite the constantly shifting meta-game from one toon to the next. I’m happy to have stumbled into one of the more complex DPS roles, even if it was by accident.


All Roads Return to WoW: Kicking off a PvP set

Moonkin druid.I’ve transferred back to my original server and finally convinced a friend to do the same. We’re going to be starting up an arena team over the next couple weeks, so I’ve been working on kickstarting my PvP set. If you’ve just hit 80, there are a couple things to consider.

First, you can get really nice PvP stuff with heroic badges. Playing a tank means I have free badges whenever I want them, pretty much as fast as I can get them. That’s a good thing, especially because the gear is more expensive than the T9 set pieces. You can also considering using some badges to get trinkets for your DPS spec or healing spec if you’ve been doing something other than that in the heroic runs. Heroics also get you lots and lots of Stone Keeper’s Shards for picking up the cheap PvP gear from the Wintergrasp vendor.

Next, make sure you’re running Wintergrasp. I still think the design behind Wintergrasp is fairly crappy, and when I was just getting started I had no idea what I was doing. Frankly, I still don’t really know, but I try to contribute as best as I can. My time in LoL has actually given me better sensibility about when to fight and when to get out of dodge. Racking up your HKs in Wintergrasp gives you good honor and more importantly bonus WG marks, which you can redeem for some nice trinkets. I was shocked to find so many quests offering up honor when I first joined. I came out of my first WG with 35k honor and a few marks. I bought my set pants on the spot. Not a bad start.

The last thing I’ll have to start doing is dueling. Dueling is at the heart of PvP in WoW, and can actually be a lot of fun. It always helped me learn to manage my pet, my traps and my cooldowns when I was playing my hunter, and I’m hoping it can provide the same insight on the druid.

If you’re in the Stormstrike battlegroup, keep an eye out for “The Wugglers.” We’ll be wuggling fools from coast to coast.


All Roads Return to WoW: The people are still the important part

Keep your people close.

I know a lot of you don’t enjoy WoW, or at the very least you’ve burnt out, but I’m still having a lot of fun playing, and I can only see that going up. The main reason: people.

I got back into WoW basically because I knew that a buddy who plays League of Legends was around. I didn’t think – not in a million years – that I would be back with my old raiding guild just a month after I started playing again. It’s actually pretty exciting and has turned out to be the thing I missed most from the game experience on the whole. It’s really nice to have a group of people consistently around for a game. I have that to a smaller extent currently in LoL, but I spent hours with these guys (and gals – hi Ishi!), for good or ill, and it’s been fun to reconnect.

If you find yourself bored or disinterested in any game, I’d recommend one of two things – get to know some people in game, or get to know some people in real life. Either way, you win and win big.


All Roads Return to WoW: Playing the Auction House

Hoarding your gold.

It had been a few weeks and I was starting to lose interest in WoW. Well, I thought I was starting to lose interest. What was really happening is that I was only playing the few parts of the game I had yet to experience. I was running heroics – a lot of them – and kinda doing little else. I did go through a crafting spree, leveling jewelcrafting from 1-450 over the course of a few days, but I wasn’t doing all of the things I used to love about the game.

The crafting was a start, but one of the things I really enjoyed in WoW was the Auction House. It seems a little see, and frankly there are a lot of games in the world with in-game currency houses, but nothing has gripped me quite like WoW. I love digging around to find deals, trying to find the hottest items, figuring out where sellers are over and under charging. For whatever reason it feels like a safe way to feed that gambling itch everyone seems to have (at least everyone I know). I’ve made thousands of gold over the past few days alone, and sure, it’s just pixels on a screen, but it does provide a simple thrill of success I find truly enchanting.

There are other aspects of the game I’m slowly remembering to return to. More on that later.


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