Thursday, December 2, 2010

At the End of an Era

If I were starting a wow account for the first time, with all the information I know now, I wonder if I would have picked the same class/race combination to start with.

This thought strikes me from time to time. On the whole, I think the answer is no. As much as I enjoy playing my warlock, it's not what I would now recommend for my younger self if I could step back in time and advise myself on what my first character should be. I would have told my younger self, "Listen. You're going to have a lot of alts. A lot, a lot of alts. And what you will learn to call altoholism, is really just another way for you to say 'sometimes I get bored'. Save yourself some grief and start with a hybrid class." Regardless of the fact that my younger self would not have understood much of that.

This is not to say that there is no value in altoholism. My discovery of hybrid classes has not made me any less likely to create new characters (of both the hybrid and the pure variety). I would like to acknowledge that my use of the word 'altoholism' - sometimes I get bored - may not be the same as another usage or even the generally accepted use of the term. Perhaps it is simply that my use of the term 'altoholism' is lacking in definition.

It would also have been nice for someone to discuss with younger-me the Tank-Healer-DPS triangle. I doubt very much that I would have found the idea of a tank very appealing. But I might have thought that picking a class that could dps and heal would be beneficial. Having the option to switch later if I didn't enjoy my current role should have been a powerful motivator in picking a class.

Why wasn't it?

As much as these thoughts occasionally plague me, I would not actually trade my warlock or my first leveling experience for anything else. If I were given the option to do it all over again (three years ago, of course) I wouldn't take it. I learned and leveled at the pace that I learned and leveled at and that's all it is.

It does, however, generate some other interesting questions.

Does caster dps feel natural to me because my first character was a caster? Or was my first character a caster because caster dps feels natural to me?

I've always favored the mage stereotype in video games. Disciples, Lords of Magic, Final Fantasy... whatever it was, if I played it I played a caster. It wasn't uncommon for me to dabble in the dark side even then. My first character that I ever played in a tabletop RPG was a "Dark Cleric". I'm not sure such a thing even existed at the time, but my DM assisted me in putting a "dark" twist on each of my spells. Grant Life became Steal Life, Cure Poison became Poison, you get the idea.

So, perhaps a warlock was not such an impetuous choice for a first character after all.

Which makes my decisions for Cataclysm that much more difficult.

I'm extremely proud of what I've accomplished with my warlock this expansion. Marariel killed the Lich King. The dungeons I wasn't able to see while leveling - namely everything but Scholomance, Hellfire Ramparts, and the Northrend Dungeons - Marariel solo'ed. It may have been out of order timewise, but after hitting 80 Marariel visisted Karazhan, the Black Temple, and Magtheridon's Lair. Marariel befriended the Netherwing dragonflight. Marariel became an Ambassador of the Alliance.

In many ways, Marariel will always be my main.

But in a week's time, it won't be Marariel powering through the levels to 85. It won't be Marariel racing through the dungeons and quests to start the next gearing race. It won't be Marariel farming loot, experience, and reputation to get ready for raiding all over again.

Marariel will be taking it slow. Exploring a shattered world takes time. The fact that Marariel leveled and learned slowly in the beginning is not something to look back on with regret, but rather a learning experience for the future. Everything I learned about warlocks in that way I learned by doing. Not by reading the forums, Elitist Jerks, or any other guide. I'm looking forward to getting that experience back.

As for rushing towards the level cap, the heroic dungeons, and the shiny new raids - there's an alt for that. Aioka will be running the race - questing as shadow and queueing as discipline - to, hopefully, be in place as a healer whenever Memento is ready to start raiding again.

I know a lot of people are switching their mains for Cataclysm. I am... reluctant to call it that. Warlockery is near and dear to my heart and being a Shadow Priest is not always comparable. However, as I evaluate my experiences I am starting to recognize that flexibility in raiding is important to me. I want that.

Cataclysm is here. Whatever it is that you want, pursue it with everything you have.

Good luck.

I'll see you on the other side.

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