Friday, September 30, 2022

You Could Call it My Preseason

Back when Cataclysm first dropped, I was in the middle of leveling a Draenei Paladin and the original Nevelanthana. Both were in Outland at that point, so I decided to rechristen their leveling process the Convoy to L85. Complete with a song from 1975 filled with CB radio lingo:

Doing both toons, it took me from December 7, 2010 to January 19, 2011 for them both to ding L80 and then head for Cataclysm zones. Getting to L85 took a bit longer, the first week of March, but still that was also not going totally gangbusters either.

Mists was a bit different. I decided on Azshandra as my new main not too long before Mists was released, and I leveled her all the way straight to L90, mixing up Battlegrounds with questing out in the field. That misadventure took from August 2012 until June 2013 to complete. Of course, I was also heavily playing SWTOR and LOTRO at the time, so that also contributed to the slowness in leveling.

Why do I mention these things? Because I have a history of not rushing out and heading straight into the new expac. That contributed to my thought process in deciding to start from scratch in Mists with a new toon --Az, in this case-- because I figured there'd be no way I'd enjoy the chaos up in Pandaria. 

Looking back on it, I think the only time I logged in for a brand new experience and actually followed through on it was the release of WoW Classic itself.

The scene in Teldrassil on Myzrael-US,
August 2019. I wonder how many of
those toons are still being actively played?

I logged in, looked around, got a few screenshots, and then logged for a couple of hours, figuring that there'd be no way in hell I could complete any quests with that crowd around. (Plus it was dinner time.)

Hmmm... I do recall checking out the Cataclysm pre-patch on the night it went live, but I also recall making a ton of gold on Neve porting people back to Orgrimmar from Dalaran.

So imagine my surprise when I was heading to Zul'Farrak to farm some greens there to disenchant* and my questing buddy --who I was grouped up with-- said "we're kidnapping you".


Now, you have to also understand that allergies have been killing me all week, and I finally gave in last night and took some Benadryl, so I wasn't exactly in a very lucid state. Still, my brain completely fizzled out when suddenly two more people popped into our group and they decided on running Utgarde Keep.

"Uh... I was actually feeling tired, because I took some Benadryl."

I believe somewhere in the responses to my declaration was my questing buddy saying she was having none of that, and since she'd already joined me in Zul'Farrak I began waking up because I had a hard time keeping up with her and killing things.

So, away to Northrend I went.

I told my questing buddy on the ship to Valiance Keep that "this doesn't count" as far as me going to Northrend. I only collected a flight point --force of habit-- and then we did the same for Howling Fjord and away we went.

Somewhere in the middle of all of this I completely woke up and briefly thought about fleeing --the old fight or flight response to a surprise-- but I suppressed it. My questing buddy was looking out for me, and I'd be a pretty damn poor friend if I went and hid.

Although I'll be completely honest in that when I switched my Details meters from Threat to Damage, I wanted to hide from embarrassment: Deuce was barely doing more damage than my questing buddy, who was healing on her Disco Priest. 

The warlock, who was also a good friend, was doing about 80-85% of the damage in every single fight.

And it's not like Deuce is totally undergeared, as she has the full Brutal set from running Alterac Valley, plus the PvP Staff. None of those pieces are terrible, and they fit in roughly with a range from T4 through Zul'Aman to T5 gear from TBC. So, roughly middle of the pack epic gear but with Resilience, that classic PvP stat that keeps a body from being one shot in Battlegrounds. The difference was that the warlock had at least T5 --and in some cases T6-- gear, so he was running with easily some of the best stuff out of raids in TBC Classic. You know, stuff I would have had a shot at getting if I'd not had to drop progression raiding back in January.

Which then reminded me that I was once again on the outside looking in, and that I was essentially being carried through this instance.

So in the span of an hour, I went from surprised/stunned to reluctant to grateful to happy to embarrassed/humiliated. 


Oh, how was Utgarde Keep itself?

Like riding a bike, really. After a few minutes you remember the cadence. 

Although to be fair, I know more about interrupts and how things tick for a Frost Mage than I did back in 2010-2011, and that probably cost me a bit on the damage meters. I would interrupt and use Spell Steal to keep the additional damage off of the tank, who, being a Bear tank with a lot of T5-6 gear himself, didn't really need the help.**

I'd have completely enjoyed myself if it weren't for that constant reminder that I was not pulling my weight. Even the mage table is totally useless for Northrend, since the mana and health pools are so much larger than those found in Outland.

Someone shared a couple of quests along the way, and I accepted the first one strictly from muscle memory and then I realized what I was doing. I then refused the second quest and deleted that first quest from my log. Not until I officially go to Northrend will I do any quests up there.

And that concluded the first night in my "preseason" before I officially head to Northrend. 

I was extremely happy to be back in Outland by myself this morning.

*Long story, but in order to progress in Tailoring, after a certain point you need items such as Imbued Netherweave. To make THAT, you need Arcane Dust, which is found by disenchanting TBC Classic greens. But in order to get to the Enchanting level to disenchant THAT, I need to get to 275 in Enchanting. Deuce, being 230-ish, needed to get up to 275, which meant targeting green gear for disenchanting so I could then turn around and use FOR enchants to raise my skill level. And to find the green gear that would disenchant properly, the best places to look are in Uldaman and Zul'Farrak.

See? Clear as mud.

**It's still good practice, though, like using Frost Nova and then Deep Freeze to keep a caster in a mob from healing/casting.


  1. Just uninstall Details, man. You can have a threat meter without a dps meter and you'll be so much happier. Your friends are trying to include you and you're using fretting about dps in normal Utgarde Keep as a way to make yourself an outcast...

    1. I wish it were that easy, Shintar.

      One of the big selling points for me on SWTOR and FF XIV was that there were no DPS meters out there, so you simply didn't know how you were doing. As you found out with the changes to Legacy of the Sith, knowledge is not necessarily power. If only I knew --or I opted in-- that'd be one thing, but with logs and addons anybody can see it.

      It's just like Gearscore: you can ignore it, but it's still out there (and yes, it is, I checked to see if the addon exists for Classic when I was writing this post). And both feed my neuroses as to how I'm doing.

      I've thought about this for a long while, because the need to know how you're doing and to compare yourself is found throughout our lives from sports to school to work, and it's hard to simply turn that spigot off when you go do something else. I wish I could, but I never want to be seen as "that guy" who shows up and half asses his way through anything. As much as I can intellectually explain it away, deep down it's an emotional matter of self worth, knowing I'm meaningfully contributing to the group. And that is compounded by the knowledge that I have been putting the effort in so that I not suck --a big part of the reason why I ran Alterac Valley on Deuce was so that I wouldn't go into Zul'Aman and Karazhan in mere quest greens-- and despite all the effort the results were as if I was in little better than quest greens. That's what stung the most, I believe.

      Removing Details and just going with a threat meter would be nice, but I'd still be totally ignorant about how I was doing until there was a rude awakening in a raid log or a random pug where I'd get called out for being piss poor at my role. (And yes, that has happened, hence the presence of Details on my system.)

    2. I know I was being a bit flippant and it's not that simple, but at the same time it's not like I'm suggesting you shouldn't care about your performance in raids (aka where it actually matters and where you can review logs after the fact without constantly fretting about your moment-to-moment performance).

      You've just written so much about the evil of slavish adherence to metas in situations where it really doesn't matter, you shouldn't let these people live in your head rent-free. By making up your own "normal Utgarde Keep dps meta", you're playing by their rules even when no-one else cares.

    3. "Living in my head rent-free" is a good way to put it. I'm going to have to put a post together, because there's a LOT of thoughts I need to put my head around. (Well, see my response to Bhagpuss' comment for that.)

  2. So much of this (And much of other posts you've written) reminds me of how I used to play mmorpgs more than a decade and a half ago. I used to make up all kinds of restrictive rules for myself and then apply them regardless of cicrcumstances. I particularly remember the issues I used to have in groups in EQ when, as a Druid, I refused to heal anyone who attacked an animal because Druids don't do believe in that or the time I had a major blow-out with my guild because I refused to accept any loot when we raided for some reason I can't now begin to imagine.

    It might have been consistent with my internal value system of the time but it sure didn't make me any friends. Over time I learned to loosen up, not take any of it so seriously and generally pay more attention to the people I was paying with than the characters I was playing. Much though I love to project onto my characters, I do know they can't actually get upset by anything I do. Other players can.

    The ironic thing is, having learned all that and having found I had a lot more fun playing with others in a less intensly character-focused way, in the end I drifted away from playing with other people anyway. It's been a long, slow trip from taking the entire thing far too seriously to realizing none of it has any gravity at all. Nowadays I just play what I want, when I want, how I want, trying not to let my characters get in my way and trying not to get in anyone else's. It may not have the emotional heft of the old ways but it's hella more relaxing and stress-free.

    1. Your comment made me think a bit more in depth as to where all of this behavior came from, and it did make me wonder whether all of this isn't just a defense mechanism to not open myself up too much.

      After all, I do keep friend groups separate, because people I know who are sports fanatics aren't part of the same crowd who are RPGers. The friends I know from work are kept separate from friends I know from MMOs as well. I'm also pretty guarded with who I discuss certain things with, as anybody who felt the sting of gossip about topics that you thought were told in confidence knows.

      But my MMO career is pretty much filled with people I've gotten to know decently well enough, and then suddenly they're gone. Sometimes it's a "here today, gone tomorrow" vanishing act, sometimes there's a huge blow up in a guild and everything splinters, and sometimes they just decided they had other priorities so they moved off server or something akin to "moving away".

      Or sometimes you discover that what you thought was a big friend group or guild is actually a bunch of cliques who rarely reach out beyond their groups unless they need something.

      But asking the question and pointing out the obvious --like both you and Shintar have done (Hi, Shintar!) means that I'm going to have to dig deeper, because there's likely something rooted deep down inside me that encourages this sort of reaction from me. Even my response to Shintar's comment is a defense mechanism --I can see that now having stepped away from the comment for a few hours and am now coming back to it-- so the question "why am I doing this shit?" is a very valid one.

      I don't think I can simply say "eh, fuck it" and just play as I want. The big lie --for me at least-- is that when I say "I don't care" is that I do care, often far too much.

      Alas, I believe that there's going to be another one of those "what goes on in my head" type of posts for me to explore this further. If nothing else, talking about it out loud may help not only me, but someone else who could also be struggling with this issue.