Because coming home did not feel as fabulous as I would have liked, my glorious homecoming blog has been squished. This does not bother me too much, but only because I have been delaying my geek blog for a couple of weeks now. It worked out in my favor, it seems, as I did not have to write about speculating on pandas (Mists of Pandaria). I get to write about experiencing it.
After seven months away from the game, not only did I have to relearn the basics, but I had to learn class changes, game changes, and expansion changes too. The talent specialization system stands out the most for me, although specific class changes are part of that too. The old idea of min/maxing a spec for the benefit of the raid/dungeon/quest is still there, but the new system reduces that need by a lot. There is still a benefit to this spell over that spell in some cases, but a lot of the choices now are based on play style rather than the previous need to eek out every last bit of DPS, HPS, or threat a player can.
Gone are the times when a quick look at someone’s talents can tell you how rough the dungeon or raid is going to be. There are some other means to know there are many deaths in your future – like checking for PvP gear or browsing achievements – but the spec was usually a defining point for me. Anyone can skim the Internet, find the most effective spec and copy it. While there is some room for creativity in talent selection (as I have seen on multiple occasions), the effort a player put into their toon was generally told by the spec (or gems/enchants/reforges).
With the release of MoP came two very significant additions to the game: pet battles – think Pokemon – and the monk class. They might not be significant to others, but they are part of what inevitably drew me back to the game I had boycotted for so long.
If you have ever played World of Warcraft before, you either are – or know – the rabid achievement junkies, mount hunters, and pet collectors. These relentless fools (myself included) beat their heads against a wall for something as minor as ten achievement points or a shiny new critter pet or mount. In WoW to this point, the critter pets were cosmetic and only sometimes did they come with any sort of bragging rights. Now the pets have been given their own battle system.
If you have never played Pokemon, then it might be hard to accurately describe. On the other hand, if you have ever played any trading card game – Magic: The Gathering is another great example – or Final Fantasy on the console systems, you will understand well enough the turn-based, numbers game that is the pet battle system in MoP. Speed will dictate turns, weaknesses and strengths between various classes of pet can decide the end of the fight, and buffs and debuffs to pet and player can hinder an easy win or prolong a difficult loss.
I am having a blast.
I got to play with the monk a bit at BlizzCon in 2011 and I was more than a bit impressed with it then. In that raw form, it was not unlike playing an enhancement shaman – which will always be my one, true love. Leveling a toon from 1-90 may not sound like fun to anyone has ten or more characters at level 85 already – or “had” if you are me and started deleting the ones you did not like. Because of the recruit-a-friend bonuses and the inkling of how much fun a monk could be, it was an easy choice for me.
Now that I am in the 80s, I can safely say that I was not wrong in my assessment of a monk’s play style. They are like an enhancement shaman, but there is a large part of a rogue’s resource system/combo point tracking in there as well. I have not yet tanked or healed with him, but being a face smasher has always made me happy and the monk has not disappointed me in that.
The drawbacks to leveling from start to finish are the dungeons. Blizzard implemented a cross-server dungeon find system in the last expansion and it has made finding a group much easier than spamming trade looking for a tank or healer. The downside to a faster dungeon is that you get a lot of two kinds of players: the new guys who need to be taught, and the jerks who think they know everything. Littered in with those two types are the players who know what they are doing and who can treat each other with a little respect, but finding a full group like that is rare.
I had a pleasant group just before I logged off to blog tonight. My buddy Blossomz (also referred to as “C”, in case there is confusion later) leveled a monk from the beginning with me, and has taken the healing spec. It is because of this that our queue times are much shorter than if I were going by myself. He asked how long I would be online tonight and I mentioned my self-imposed blogging obligation. It was after this that two group members requested that I talk about them.
Pfft, those are easy requests.
This was one group that I consider a rarity. The tank – Truckz from Malygos – pulled at a comfortable speed. Tanks that are timid bother the hell out of me, and tanks that are reckless bother the hell out of C – which, naturally, bothers the hell out of me. Truckz was a comfortable mix between the two, utilizing caution and ferocity in equal measures. Warrior tanking is something I only dabbled in previously, and I will admit that my warrior did not make the cut during the toon deletion this time, but Truckz made me think that there might be hope for me yet.
The other player was a kitty druid – Aubii from Maelstrom. For a while in BC and Wrath, I played a kitty druid with some fervor. She was never my main or even close to that, but I did not stand in ow, applied proper mechanics, and understood the utility of playing a druid. Aubii was lovely to watch. With any melee class, there are certain deciding factors that separate a good one from a bad one, but I did not see any from Aubii. My druid – who did make the cut, by the way – will be one of the first three or four toons I level, and playing a kitty again will be a joy.
I will not presume to think Aubii or Truckz will actually Google their names to find this blog tomorrow, so make sure and tell them that Dragon says hi if you cross their paths in game. If they have found the blog, thanks again for the smooth, polite, and very comfortable run tonight.
Next time I would like to get a bit more specific on the monk class, how I am learning to not be stupid with my spells, and my plans for Dragonfury (who will always be my pride and joy). As I cross the 1200 word mark, however, I will call this a success for tonight.
Happy playing, ladies and gentlemen.