Archive for March, 2008

Breathing New Life Into An Old Game

BlizzBlues got you down? Dreading the login before another farming run on SSC, Mt. Hiyal, or Black Temple? Stuck in Karazhan and no idea why it seems so hard to get 24 of your best friends (to quote Brutalus) to come to Vashj? Seems I am not the only one feeling the BlizzBlues when I am on my main. Sure, there’s Sunwell and with 25 daily quests at hand I could go back and wrangle some more Aether Rays or fly in circles looking for Nethercite. But, all in all, it’s been done zillions of times before, between three alts and a main close to a thousand times, I reckon.

Not quite ready to give up fully, I first got it into my head to get Conqueror on a character rolled after the Burning Crusade came out. Which, given there’s no AB and WSG rep for tokens anymore, amounts to an average 8,000 Warson Gulch games. Even at twelve a day, which is unlikely given the wait times in my Battlegroup, that’s 666 days (and the number is fascinatingly fitting).

So I decided to try my hand at speedrunning. Hunter to 70 in four days six minutes /played, Warlock in four days, nine hours, twelve minutes, Shaman in about ten (it’s what passes for “balance” these days). Three speed runners later and I am sick of that stuff, too … and have barely passed the fourth week into the BlizzBlues.

Enter Achim, my trusty sidekick, former HWL grinding partner, crazy Ice Cream parlor owner, and avid reader of bad 60s tuppence romance novels. Under his guidance and continued pushing we assembled the team (“we’re getting the band back together,” he proclaims on Vent and is seriously miffed that only half of those in attendance get the reference), and re-rolled.

Building a new guild, a new social structure, a new way of thinking and leveling, while setting new goals and thinking about progression in terms of experience, not bosses, prove to be a daunting task. But somehow we did it. We formed and leveled an Alliance guild on a server none of us had ever played on. We suffered, again, through the indignities of low level pugging in Deathmines, Scarlet Monastery, and Stockades. We filled our guild pool with gold extracted from those of us who accidentally clicked Horde Flight Masters and got two-shot by those enraged wyvverns we formerly rode into the sunset of Tanaris, and we experienced, for the first time in years, Wailing Caverns as a challenging instance (In 2005 WC put the L into L2P, to quote Eyonix). At 60 we entered Molten Core, we slew bosses and trash in Zul’Gurub, we wiped on Nefarian and the trash before the Four Horsemen. The game was fun again.

Thusly invigorated, actually looking forward to log into the game and play for an hour or two, we decided to mash it up once more. This time we’d take everything we’d learned from leveling Alliance and make a Horde guild. There was some apprehension at first, not the least in yours truly. My Horde characters and the new Alliance toons had grown familiar and become attached. That epic flight form was hard work, so was the Paladin’s Cenarion Gryphon. But, in the end, we all agreed – nothing would be lost and much could be gained.

Beating the BlizzBlues takes a few simple rules. Here they are, in case you’re interested in trying our adventure for yourself. And if, for some reason, you feel like trying it with us – we just started and will wait up for you (see Rule #1), join us in our next adventure.

  1. Create “stop points”. We suspended leveling at all “nines” (19,29,39,49, and 59), waiting up for those who came a little behind. PvP and tradeskill leveling are good things to do during those breaks. Thanks to the 2.3 leveling speed changes this was never more than two days or less, but it helped us to stay together and experience content as a community, not as individuals.
  2. Re-focus on what’s important in the game. Getting to 70 as fast as possible and farming Illidan might be some people’s idea of the games’ only true purpose, but alas taking a handful lowbies at the lower end of the level requirements into Wailing Caverns or Blackrock Depths can be more exciting and rewarding than farming Lootreaver for weeks.
  3. Observe the story.Your first character might have been a little bit too occupied with getting the hang of the game while subsequent ones tried to level quickly to catch up to the guild. Stop every once in a while to actually take in the story, it’s what you pay your monthly fee for, might as well enjoy it. Do the long but fun chains such as the Tirion Fordring chain, they’re worth it in terms of entertainment.
  4. Play the polar opposite of your current main. I went from a Druid tank to a caster class (my formative roots).
  5. Play without compromise with people you totally, completely, and absolutely, trust, respect, and call “friend”. If this means waiting another two weeks to enter Karazhan instead of recruiting someone whose attitude is just “OK” but who could tank/heal/DPS today, wait the two weeks.
  6. Don’t make the re-roll your new job. You have a main somewhere else, play it. Take time off from the game, as well. As long as everyone in the team observes this simple rule no one will be stuck too far behind.

The best place to find re-roll guilds is in your current circle of friends. Chances are, some are as burned out as you are and can trade the (understandeable) attachment to their mains for a few hours of refreshingly fun adventures a week on an alt. Or that guy/gal you became best friend with, in game, when both of you were already 70? Wouldn’t it be fun to level with him or her from scratch?

I know I will enjoy our next foray into pre-TBC leveling and playing with a new and old set of friends I never had a chance to level or play with. This time the goal is lofty – Kara cleared by May, but we’re confident we can do it. After all, time and levels fly if you’re having fun.

What about you? Got any prescriptions for the BlizzBlues for those of us who still want to spend time playing?

Top Six Guild Names We Could Live Without

Good to be back and writing. To set things off on the right foot, I figured I might as well shoot straight for the big one and bring you my ultimate list of Top Six Guild Names We Could Live Without. So, without further ado I bring you… the LIST:

6. “Cliche of Place” guilds. “Defenders of Azeroth”, “Knights of Stormwind”, “Killers of Hearthglen”. “Heroes of the Horde” are chewed out, cliched, and as unique as Ford F-150s in Dallas, TX. Your guild name should stand for something, not just your inability to think of a good one.

5. Ümløût åbüße – if you can’t spell it without putting accent characters all over the place there’s three reasons. Either the original name is barred from being used, someone else already grabbed it, or you’re just in love with bad 1980’s Amiga BBS jargon. Accent characters stopped being hip when Mötley Crüe sold their second album.

4. Fad names. “Two Draenei one Cup” was funny for a week.  “QQ Pew Pew” for two. Ain’t no more.

3. The “Daddy took me to the movies” guild name. “Spartans” was a good name before 300 was released. “Browncoats” still is, because only insiders get it. It ends there. “House Hufflepuff” is as unlikely to attract players with anything but a two-hour playtime allowance on weekends, after chores and homework, as “Fellowship of the Ring” is.

2. The “what’s so bad about it?” name. “Sapped girls can’t say no”, “Come in the Van”, “Naga stole my bike”, “Your mom is a Horde” are – at best – immature jokes that stopped being funny about a second after they’ve been uttered the first time. Should you find yourself still finding them funny I recommend a deep and long soul searching.

and, finally,

1. Any guild named Drama, Nihilum, Death and Taxes, Aftermath, Premonition, Death Wish or any of the other so-called “bleeding edge” guilds, unless you’re the original. Naming your guild after one of those not only shows a lack of actual creativity, it’s the WoW equivalent of a slightly pudgy teenager wearing a Chicago Bulls 23 shirt and thinking anyone will mistake him for (or think him capable of playing like) Michael Jordan.

So much for guilds. Next time we’ll talk about the top character names that should get their owner kicked in the bee-hind.

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