It’s been a tough week levelling wise for my groovy troll fire mage, Elirac. I’ve had my parents-in-law here since Sunday but thank the sweet honeysuckle bears they left this morning. It’s not that I wasn’t ‘allowed’ to play WoW – I’m not the sort of person to let anyone have the power over me to say or pressure me into what I can or cannot do, it’s just that I had to put my energy into them which didn’t leave much time for Elirac the troll of trolls. I love trolls, I think they are da bomb. Before the Undergeared Project I had always played Alliance, just because I’m an old D&D freak and that is what I felt most comfortable with. But playing the Horde, oh my, trolls are cool. I walk cool, I ride cool, I wipe my nose cool, and I cast pillers of flame cool. And now I am in Outland. I have been disparaging in the recent past about Outland. I think I said something along the lines that it is a pile of steaming turds and should be nuked. But now that I’m back there, it’s not that bad. I’m finding Hellfire kind of fun, groovy even. And oh my, I had forgotten how much of an upgrade the greens are over the Old World stuff. The new tool-tip that lets you compare stats really puts it into perspective. I got my first item, a staff from a quest, and I clicked on it to see if I should equip it and I dumped my old staff faster than my first girlfriend did to me when she saw that new French kid in school, the little whiny weasle.

Now my plan has always been to level using Fire until I got to level 60 when I would change over to Arcane, as that is when Arcane turns into da bomb. But the new patch notes intimate that Fire is back. I’ve been waiting for a mage blogger to go over the notes and finally Critical QQ did that for me. What I’m probably going to have to do is go dual specs and have them both. The problem with this is I haven’t been playing the auction house much. There is one slight drawback to being in a guild full of people who follow Gevlon – they’re all fricking auction house players. I have a bit under 1000 gold, but seeing that I’ll need to get my epic flying and other bits and pieces I think that I’ll need to pull my finger out on this one and start being a playa myself. The guild cleared Naxx 10 man last week in blues, which isn’t that surprising as it is designed for that gear level. They hit Sarth tonight and hopefully in a couple of weeks my cool troll will be joining them. For the Trolls!

The undergeared project, of which I am a member, cleared ICC 5 man on normal mode in blue gear this weekend. Here is the link so you can check out the details. The top DPS pulled 3000 DPS. Now remember, that was done wearing only blue gear. So as Gevlon says in his post, if someone does damage below 1.5K it is not because he is geared in Blues, it’s because he’s useless.

I was not on the run, since my mage has now reached the dizzying heights of level 36. My leveling progress has been slow for a number of reasons:

1. I haven’t had that much time to play. I had five days off where I managed to get about 14 levels done, but that has been the most time for me so far.
2. This is my first ever time playing Horde, so all the content is new. And considering the fact that a good deal of this content may well be lost come the next expansion, then I am wandering around, ‘smelling the roses’ so to say.

I suppose that I could level quicker if I followed a guide or something, but I am enjoying this leveling process. Some of the instances are new to me, and I am discovering areas that I had no idea even existed. And dawn at the flight point in Thousand Needles is pretty darn amazing. What isn’t that much fun is the PuG’s. Last night I ran the Scarlet Monastary Armory for the first time. I felt for the tank. After the first pack of mobs were cleared he promptly sat down and went on strike. The reason? He objected to the fact that the rogue was pulling everything. I objected with him, in the beginning, but the other three party members went right on pulling. The tank had made his point but they had made a point as well – who needs a tank? If I hadn’t talked him into continuing he still would be sitting at the end of the hall now. Which is very strange. Years ago, when I leveled my main, I remember these 5 mans as being hard. We had to use a little device called crowd control, and we needed it a lot. Now it seems that we sprint through this stuff without even pausing for breath, (I have a serious problem with mana, but I never get a chance to drink – goddam you fire spec!).

Has this content been nerfed in the interim period? Have low level players been buffed? Or has the play mentallity evolved to a higher level? It’s an interesting point – players today decry Blizzard as making instances just sprint affairs, but it seems to me that this is not Blizzards fault; it is the consequence of a development in playing style. Taking your time, thinking things through and smelling the roses is no longer acceptable. I ran ICC5 heroic the day it was released. It was the first time for all of us and we just sprinted through it. Nobody took the time to work out what was going on. We didn’t even wipe. Sure, we were all mightilly geared, but still …

Anyway, Gevlon doubts that we will get 25 raiders with our present bunch of guildies. He has already seen a bunch of people join, start leveling and then not log on for a while, and he is removing these players as necessary. We seem to have a lack of warriors in the guild, so why don’t you join us? I think if we manage to clear end game content in 25 man raids wearing blues that this will be pretty big news.

Don’t think it can be done? Just remember that in previous 25 man raids, a good percentage of players would always be carried. I remember that we usually had something like the first 8 or 9 DPS performing really well, while the other ten were being carried. 3 healers would be doing a good job but at least 2 weren’t pulling their weight. And there was always a tank that wasn’t effective somewhere. But in this group, nobody will be carried. Every single DPS and every healer and tank has to pull their weight. The DPS who is last on the recount chart should have a DPS score very close to the first ranked DPSer. This will make a huge difference on the bottom line. I think that it is doable. I wouldn’t be leveling this mage if I didn’t think so.

A word of warning on the guild: the rule is no morons or socials. If you say grats when an achivement is automatically announced in guild chat, then you will be lucky to not be kicked. This is not a guild to hang out and chat with the members. We’re there to get the job done.

So I’ve hit level 20 on my troll mage over on the undrgeared blue challenge at greedy goblin. Big deal, I hear you say. Level 20, wow, you’re really going fast. Well, in my defense, it is the freaking Christmas holiday period. I mean, the good goblin could have picked an easier time for this. Still, I have a few weeks off work so I should be able to dedicate some serious time to this over the next few weeks.

Playing a mage is quite fun, even though I am somewhat of a glass cannon. As long as I can keep the mobs away from me I am awesome. If they manage to get up close and start actually touching me, I am buggered. At the moment I have a fire spec but I’m probably going to switch that to arcane and have a play around with that for a bit. So as I was saying, playing a mage is quite fun. Group questing on the other hand, not so much. You know what it’s like – you take a seemingly ordinary looking go out and kill ten rats quest, and before you know it you’re up to the 8th quest in a long line that has taken you all over the planet, and you get to the culmination of the dreaded group quest.

“Go and find some worthy comrades and slay the dreaded monster of the five heads. If you manage to do this you can pick from one of these 5 awesome loot blue pieces!”

It’s the rewards that bugger this up. I could just leave it but after all that traipsing around I really want those nice blue legs or whatever. They would be perfect for me. They would be perfect for me right now, not in 5 levels when I could come back and take out the horrible 5 headed whatever by myself. By that stage the awesome blue pants will be the suck. So I have to group. I have to group … and I hate having to do stuff. Okay, no biggie, I’ll use the LFG system and have it running in the background and in a few hours someone will surprise me by wanting to do that quest.

Oh, not anymore. The brand new awesome LFG system has cancelled out grouping for quests or zones. Well, it might do this but I haven’t figured out how, (before I get horribly flamed). So what do I do? Ask my guildies? I hate doing that. Apart from the fact that we are spread all over the world so anyone around my level is going to have a hell of a time getting to me, I don’t want some higher level guildie to come in and run me through it. Because that’s not fun, it’s just lame. I could spam local chat but once again, that is not fun. It is also lame and will often result in getting grouped with a bunch of loser bed wetters. I don’t know why MMO’s still do this, the group quest thing. Come to think of it, that’s when I stopped playing Age of Conan, when I got to around level 18 in Tortage and started seeing all my quests have little figures of three people next to them. I was like, oh man, are you kidding me? I have to group quest now? I have to talk to people?? I’m in a game to get away from talking to people!!

I think I might have an answer though. Hiring henchmen. What did you do in a Dungeons & Dragons game when you were short a priest or needed a couple of brawny local lads to come and give you a hand with a bit of old fashioned dragon biffo? You’d head off down to the local inn and see who would be there. So why can’t we have the same thing in our MMO’s? You head into Goldshire, walk into the inn and see who’s having a drink. They could make it random every day, so there’s not the same dudes sitting there every time. You walk up to one of them and ask for his services. A tab screen drops down where you can choose from your current quests. Then the cost of his services comes up, and maybe also another tab of other hirlings that he knows in the area who might be interested. Then off you go. They could scale for level, so the ones hanging out in the Goldshire inn are a random mix from levels 5-10, while those down in Booty Bay would be from 35-40 etc. And you could make it so they remember what they’ve done with you, so the next time you come in you can’t do the same stuff twice. They could turn around and say something like,

“Dude, yo we’ve taken out that Hogger guy already.”

You could also have a random generator that decides how good they are. So you could get someone who is awesome, someone who is passable and someone who just plain sucks. And I wouldn’t have to talk to anyone. Lovely.

A long time ago, when I was a little level 50 rogue, I ran the Sunken Temple. It was my first time in the instance, and I ran it with friends that I had made over the course of my slow leveling progress. We took our time in the instance, as only one other of the group had been in there before. He was a paladin tank, and he was excellent in that role. We finally got down to the Shade of Eranikus boss, and got him down after one wipe.

Then this dropped, oh my god.

It was the first epic that I had ever seen in the game, and it was a sword. I used swords. I was a combat sword rogue. This did great damage, had okay speed, and it called forth up to three dragon whelps at a time to fight for you in battle. There was much excitement in the group but we managed to stay calm and then the paladin and I rolled on it – and I won.

My first ever epic. I had The Hanzo Sword as my off-hand and the two together made not only for a righteous fury type damage/speed/proc combination, they also looked amazingly cool. I was a level 50 rogue and I would get stopped in Stormwind by level 60 rogues complimenting me on my weapons. I was proud of my swords, as any good rogue would be to have these equipped at that level. And having an epic was, well, epic.

Not anymore. We’ve all heard this argument before, too many epcis, welfare epics, blah blah blah. And I agree. So why am I writing this now? Well, the new patch 3.3 has ushered in a new era of players getting gear. It’s extremely easy to have epics. Everyone has epics. My mum has epics and she doesn’t even play wow. The point is, epics don’t mean anything anymore. Raiding isn’t high end, hell, with the new LFG system you can get geared for raids and do raids without being a member of a guild. I know, I’m doing it.

But now that I am fully geared in epics, do I feel more epic than when I got that first epic drop? Nope, not one bit. That first epic felt special. Epics that I earned in Burning Crusade felt special as well. I came into Northrend fully geared in epic 70’s, but holy damn did I earn those things. I think that my last one remained until about level 76. But now everyone has epics. It has been the great social leveling crusade in WoW. We’re a communist game now, comrades. Epics for all. You all deserve epics, you are all special little flowers.

Well, I’ve been running with some people with epics in these LFG groups that are most certainly not special little flowers. Special little retards maybe, but not flowers. How can you have epics equipped in every slot and put out 1200 DPS? That requires sincere and lasting commitment to being a retard.

Which leads me to my next point – if epics are not special anymore, what is?

I have the answer – Blues. Yes, you heard it right, blues are the new purples.

I have joined the Greedy Goblin on his quest to raid in blues. I rolled a new toon on that realm, gave him a whisper and got an invite to the guild. The guild is interesting. For a start, it’s an instant demotion if you write, “lol.” You are demoted to “lolled” rank. As some of my regular readers know, I really hate the use of lol, so this sits very well with me. Another nice aspect – nobody says “grats” when an achievement pops up in guild chat. I really, really like this. There are about 50 of us in the guild, and we are all running around leveling and helping each other. No doubt some regular retards have snuck in, but for now everyone is doing their level best to not stick out as a moron. Time will get the better of some of them of course.

I will periodically post updates of how this is going. I hope that it will be epic.