WoW: Trying some other races and classes

I spent a little while creating new characters to see if there was anything I liked better than the undead warlock. The short answer: no, not yet. Perhaps my first (and still longest) experiences with the game have colored my perception of how it should be played? Do most people stick with their first choice? I didn’t bother advancing any of my experiments beyond level 5, so I suppose I haven’t really seen the possibilities at their best. But then, a more dedicated and knowledgeable player than myself informs me that the classes only start really playing substantially differently at around level 30.

The first alternative I tried was a troll rogue. That’s one that I pretty definitely won’t be taking to level 30. Not because of the rogue part — I didn’t really play long enough to see it diverge noticeably from vanilla fighter, and will have to try another rogue sometime to see how the stealth mechanics work — but because of the troll part. The characterization of playable trolls came as surprise to me; somehow, it isn’t one of the parts of WoW that’s managed to seep into the public consciousness. Playable trolls in WoW are jungle-dwellers, or perhaps beach-dwellers to judge by their starting area, which is full of grass huts and tiki idols. And they talk with Jamaican accents. Not only that, their Jamaican accents are transcribed phonetically in their printed dialogue. And that gets right up my nose, because it reminds me too much of one of the things I hated the most about Everquest. My primary character in EQ was an ogre, and thus spent a fair amount of time interacting with other ogres down in Ogreopolis 1Not its real name; I don’t remember what Ogreopolis was really called. Ogres were supposed to be dim-witted, so signposts and other written materials tended to be misspelled, and a lot of players took this as a cue to misspell things a lot in their spoken text. And it got worse over time. The signposts were at least comprehensible, but the ogre community left them behind and continually upped the bar in their abuses, seemingly competing to see whose dialogue would take the most effort to decipher. I doubt that the troll players in WoW have taken things to that extent, but the memories make me wince every time I see words like “dese tings” pop up in the dialogue window. It’s something I’d like to avoid, and thus, troll NPCs are also things I’d like to avoid. It doesn’t help matters that they also have gangly frames and long ears, which combine with the accent for a Jar Jar Binks flashback.

The more familiar attributes of Orcs, by contrast, give me nothing other than a thrill of recognition. These are the first things in the game that I’ve felt were clearly modeled on the original Warcraft. They have spiky, thatched watchtowers! They have workers who say “Zug-zug”! They have pig farms! They’re also the only things I’ve heard say “For the Horde”, which I don’t remember from Warcraft, but which is such a familiar WoW catchphrase that it’s nice to finally hear it, to solidify the impression that I’m playing the game I’ve heard so much about. This was pleasant enough that I actually made two orc characters, a warrior and a mage. The only real drawback I’ve found to orcs so far is that they have a certain number of troll NPCs hanging around.

The mage worried me a little, because, unlike the warlock, it doesn’t get an automatic pet, and therefore nothing other than friends to draw the enemies away. Apparently mages eventually get spells to freeze enemies in place, but I didn’t get that far, and had to just overpower them with damage, which they seem to be capable of dealing pretty quickly at low levels. The one interesting mechanic I found for the mage was that for the spell Arcane Missiles, which costs no mana to use, but which you can’t cast at will; sometimes in combat you just see a bracket appear on the screen indicating that your Arcane Missiles are ready now. I’m not completely clear on what triggers this, and all that the various WoW websites seem to say is that it’s a “proc”, without explaining what that means.

The warrior class turns out to have a somewhat interesting overarching mechanism: Rage. Rage is like mana, in that it powers various of the Warrior’s special attacks, but unlike mana, it doesn’t just build up over time. By default, it decays; most combats begin with your rage meter empty. You fill it up by fighting. Thus, it’s a mechanic that forces you to not start off with your most powerful moves, kind of like limit breaks. It also provides a motivation to immediately seek out a new enemy once combat is over, so that all the rage you’ve built up doesn’t go to waste. I suppose this isn’t the only game that has a mechanism like this, but it was nice to see it on a melee specialist, which could be pretty bland otherwise.

One thing that was really striking about the experience of creating several characters in a short span of time was how difficult it was to come up with names. (The character creation screen has a button that will generate a random name for you, but where’s the fun in that?) I mean, it was difficult coming up with the name of my warlock, in that it was a decision I agonized over. But with these new guys, it was different: I just found it difficult to come up with a name that wasn’t already taken. I must have just got lucky with “Pleasance”, which was a first attempt. As I kept failing, I tried sillier and sillier things, eventually realizing that all the silly character names I had seen on other players were a product of exactly what I was going through.

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1. Not its real name; I don’t remember what Ogreopolis was really called

7 Comments so far

  1. malkav11 on 12 Jan 2011

    The fun is seeing what weird things the random name generator comes up with for you. It’s the only way I ever name my characters. I’ve had, for example, a tauren druid named Mokomirnek, an orcish warlock named Erumadall, a tauren death knight (my main) named Autaiun, and a troll druid named Jitzarntok. (I have played undead, but they’ve never wound up lasting long enough for me to remember the names I generated. I do intend to keep one someday, though.)

    A “proc” is a holdover term from MUDding, and I forget what exactly it comes from. The gist, though, is that something you have – in this case, probably another spell – has a chance whenever something specific happens to give you a temporary effect, in this case the ability to cast Arcane Missiles.

    According to WoWhead, this particular “proc” has a 40% chance of triggering whenever you cast an attack spell.

  2. Merus on 12 Jan 2011

    I believe “proc” comes from “procedure”; the etymology is complicated, but it’s essentially that the game triggers a special procedure.

    My naming system is a prefix-suffix combo that relates to the race and class; my main character is a blood elf warlock, so ‘fey’ for the blood elf and ‘liss’ as a fragment of ‘malicious’. I’ve never had much difficulty with character names, which surprises me a bit, although I’ve never had anything that’s been super clever either.

    You may find hunters interesting: they have a ‘focus’ resource mechanic and a pet that’s a little more powerful than the warlock’s demons. (They level up independently, and have their own talent trees.) The other interesting class from a resource standpoint is the death knight, but you can’t make those until you get a character to level 55. Death knights have three types of runes, and they spend their runes (which recharge over time) to use their abilities.

    You may want to try a human – one of the cleverer jokes is that the human starting zone has four farms and a barracks in it. (Stormwind is also the city most clearly affected by the Cataclysm.)

  3. Simeon on 13 Jan 2011

    As the previous two post state, proc is a mudding term for a stored procedure. Back when in a Diku mad a room (and monsters) had the normal exit commands, but to make a monster guard a door, you would add code to the room that matched north (the door exited) then when that command was used to try exit, your (the game designer’s not the players) code ran, thus you could output ‘Blor blocks the path’ and you then add extra commands if Blor would for example except money to get out of the way..

  4. Starmaker on 13 Jan 2011

    The differences between classes are there from the very beginning. With warriors, you build up the bar and try to go as long as possible. Spellcasters, being squishy, are better off attacking a monster when at full HP and MP. When you’re a pure damage dealer, combat is annoyingly swingy. When you’re a tank, a desire to kill “just one more monster, and then I’m eating” can get you killed, but not before a few torturous seconds when you know for sure you’re losing the attrition game and cannot do anything to correct the situation. Healers take something from both worlds: they can play the attrition game, being able to convert Mana to HP, but getting a slow-casting heal off in the middle of a battle is a matter of luck.

    Troll NPCs are hanging around Orgrimmar because Trolls do not have a racial capital. They used to share a starting zone with Orcs too but got their own in Cataclysm. Orgrimmar, I think, is the best-organized capital (the worst is the blood elf capital which has long similar-looking passages and no rhyme or reason to the arrangement of facilities).

    Question: What sort of realm do you play in (PvE, PvP, RP-PvE, RP-PvP)?

  5. Rabs on 13 Jan 2011

    Way back when I was playing EQ, one of the first random names I got was Sillakin and after than I just named all my characters with misspelled elements. Antimonie, Myrrkeurie, Bhoron, Solpha, etc

  6. Carl Muckenhoupt on 13 Jan 2011

    Starmaker: Pleasance is on a PvE server. I just took the one that the system suggested by default. Subsequently, I learned that a friend of mine is on a different server, so the rest of my experiments have been there, and it’s a PvP server. I haven’t actually observed any PvP going on, but that may be because I haven’t left the newbielands.

  7. Robin Lionheart on 31 Jan 2011

    It also provides a motivation to immediately seek out a new enemy once combat is over, so that all the rage you’ve built up doesn’t go to waste. I suppose this isn’t the only game that has a mechanism like this…

    In MapleStory, Aran characters have a Combo system. A combo counter increments with each attack, and resets to zero after a shortish period of time without attacking. At certain combo numbers, additional moves become available to you. This is why Aran’s dash skill to rush at a monster becomes valuable to keep the combo going as long as possible

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