Tuesday, October 2, 2012

And I Danced on Your Graves!

I once wondered how on earth the two factions in WoW could have Warlocks as a playable class, given the history of Azeroth.  Given the perceived wickedness of Warlocks by both factions, how both could tolerate Locks in their midst was a puzzle.

However, that was the in-game perception of a specific class.  Metagame-wise, Locks are Mages with funkier pets, more DoTs, and lots of fears.*

But you want to know who are the real metagame bad guys?  Rogues.

Having spent some time playing my new Rogue, I can feel the seductive tug of being just so bad.  See that straggler lowbie bringing up the rear of the pack in Warsong Gulch?  Sap and kill.  Players respawning at the rez points?  Sap sap sap, wait for a good juicy lowbie, then kill.  A pair of the enemy trying to reach the flag?  Sap them both repeatedly until they blow their trinkets and chase me, wasting precious time.

Yesterday, in WSG, I was checking the scoreboard when I realized what I was doing.  I'd never checked the scoreboard until now.  But I was becoming the sort of player that I hated.

And yet I loved it.

And that I really liked WSG after all.

That thought gave me pause.  I've had a low opinion of WSG pretty much since the day I set foot in the place, and my experience leveling a Lock through battlegrounds only reinforced that dislike.  I can't count the number of times I'd been ganked by a Rogue while in that BG, swearing that if I ever decided to start a Rogue I'd never do any of this stuff.  And yet there I was, roaming around in the rez zone, waiting for toons to respawn so I could gank them before they could buff themselves.


Does the class make the player, or the player make the class?

It's a little bit of both, I'd imagine.

As my example above showed, the Rogue's gameplay is tailored to striking from the shadows.  It doesn't have the magical or spiritual abilities that other classes have, and it doesn't have the get-down-and-dirty-in-the-trenches that the Warrior has.  It doesn't have the send-in-a-pet-and sit-back-and-CC/damage that a Hunter has.  For a Rogue to be effective it has to get up close and personal, but it also has to avoid getting into a slugfest as much as possible.  That means slinking around and striking from the shadows when conditions are optimal.

Because a Rogue can do this, it also means that a Rogue can operate behind enemy lines.  Causing death and wreaking havoc is a Rogue's calling card.  In WoW's PvP environment, Rogues aren't Robin Hood.  They aren't even Han Solo.**  They're a bit more brutal:

Kids, don't try to imitate Tony Montana when you
grow up, k?  Or at least not the Rogue at the end.

But at the same time, Rogues have their admirers as performers of (un)official activities in groups such as SI:7.  I look at that as WoW's attempt to put lipstick on a pig, because no matter how you dress it up, Rogues are involved with the so-called dishonorable jobs.

This sort of class attracts a certain type of player.  And that attraction is seductive, promising the thrill of the well executed backstab in exchange for glory atop the scorecard.  A single backstab can be the difference between victory and defeat, and the trick is knowing when to take it.


Ironically enough, I've found it more difficult to be an evil player when the storyline explicitly gives you the option to do it, such as playing a Dark Side character in The Old Republic.

When Yoda talks about the Dark Side being "quicker, easier, more seductive," he could have been talking about playing a Dark Side character in The Old Republic.  Anyone of either faction can play a Dark Side character, but certain classes (::cough:: Sith ::cough::) are better suited than others.  The temptation to click on that side of the wheel, to KILL! MAIM! TERRIFY! and explore the dark path, is a valid game option.  And when I pull up an Imperial player, I often am drawn to that selection.  But in my case, I find that I can't make my characters take Dark Side choices very often.  In spite of my best efforts, I'm still me when I play.

This even goes for the Sith classes, the Warrior and Inquisitor.  Perhaps it is the story, and the over-the-top evil that the Sith wallow in that turns me off, but I find myself playing more Light Side Sith than anything else. I have chosen some Dark Side selections on the wheel, and they do register approval with some of the NPCs, but more often they register fear.  (Of course, that's what the Sith want, but I digress.)

My son explained it best when he tried and gave up on an Imperial Agent.***  When he saw me noodling around on a Sith Inquisitor, he mentioned that he'd deleted his Imperial toon.  "I just couldn't do it," he said.  "They kept asking me to do all these bad things, and I just couldn't do it."


As for my dilemma, I'm going to continue to play the Rogue, but be mindful of what sort of player I can be.  Is the victory worth the price?  Do I want to be an asshat?  All's fair in love and war and BGs, right?


Bueller?  Bueller?

*Yes, I still love playing a Frost Mage.  No, I've not drunk the kool-aid.

**Although they do shoot first.  Take that, George Lucas!

***The kids have their own free account; this is done deliberately so they don't interfere with my account.


  1. I never thought of it like that, you can't really be a good Rogue unless you're sneaky.

    Yes, all my Empire characters were a complete failure in the dark department, even when I was trying to get in character I only managed to nudge it to the middle.

    1. Sneaky is just the tip of the iceberg. You'd think that with Orcs talking about Honor (well, until Garrosh seems to have lost his mind) that they'd not have any Rogues in their stable of playable races. After all, Rogues are pretty much the polar opposite of "honorable" when it comes to in-game behavior.

      But that's all water under the bridge, trying to figure out something that was decided upon for gameplay reasons, not game world reasons. When I used to create homebrewed worlds for my RPG campaigns, Rule #1 was always "be internally consistent". If you've got a race that prides itself upon honor, as GM I'd restrict playable classes by that race to those that it could consider "honorable professions". If a race/nation looked askance at magic, I'd restrict playable classes to "non-magic wielding" professions. If a player wanted to play a Wizard of that race, they'd have to build a good, legitimate reason why their backstory would allow that combination. In an MMO, you can't provide for exceptions like that because the admins aren't supposed to be the arbiters of who can be in a particular class or not.

      You want to know what's funny about my Sith toons? They're both pure blooded Sith, and yet I play them as (mainly) Light Side Sith. Well, my Inquisitor has to deal with her current companion, and he's much more evil than even other Sith, so she has to compromise and throw him a bone every once in a while.