Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Challenges in WoW

It's no surprise to anyone that I've way too many level 70 characters. It also might not be a surprise that my altoholism didn't stop with the fifth 70. In fact, of the 10 character slots on my realm, it breaks down like this:

  • FIVE level 70's
  • ONE horde hunter, level 63, will probably transfer him (see below)
  • Level 53 Shaman
  • Level 44 Shadow Priest
  • Level 25 Paladin
  • Level 28 Mage
Yes, that's all ten full (and no room for a deathknight, thus the transfer.

Anyway, I'm leveling the alts (yes all of them) with people also afflicted with serious altoholism. We're all good players, all have characters that regularly raid (at least to the point we're at in guild. That is, dipping the toes into SSC), and we've run every instance in the game more than we probably should have.

So, now, to keep the instances fresh, we're breaking the standard procedure for completing instances apart. We've run non-standard groups, we've done things under level. Recently we started our biggest challenge. Running things short people, under level and non-standard.

Sunday we four manned the bulk of Blackrock Depths (everything this side of the bar at least). We did it with four characters - Two 48s and two 52s. My cartographer suggests a level of 48 to 53 for BRD. Prior to Burning Crusade, I'd have not taken much less than a 52 in there at all. Even if the 52 was just filling a seat in an otherwise all 60 party. But, four of us did quite well and didn't have any nasty wipes. Okay, maybe an ankh or two was burned, but anything you can recover from isn't a wipe right?

Last night was the stiffest challenge to date. Wait for it..


Yeah, DM/VC. But here's the thing we had a group of 20 hunter, 24 hunter and 24 paladin. Wowwiki recommends a group of 18-23.

We cleared down to the foundry (about halfway in) when the 24 hunter had to go suddenly. The other hunter and I (obviously the paladin) decided we wanted to see how far we could get. We basically had only the hard half of the dungeon left.

Trash is trash, and I'm not going to talk about that. In fact, I'm not really even going to talk much about the how of what we did. I don't think it's really important what strategy we followed for dealing with Captain Greenskin. Or VanCleef himself.

What I'm thinking about now is breaking down some of my own preconceived notions. Five man dungeons take five men, right? Well, I'm beginning to think not. I certainly wouldn't recommend that a new player who was just learning the game and the instance attempt a two-man of the instance, but for us "oldbies" it really adds some additional challenge to what has become a stale instance.

Some of the things that really helped us out were our usable trade skills and classes. The hunter is an herbalist/alchemist (go figure) and my paladin is a miner/engineer. The buff potions and healing/mana potions that the hunter could pass out were indispensable. The dynamite and bombs allowed me to do damage while still healing, and properly placed target dummies saved my bacon on a number of occasions when my bubble was cooling down.

The frost trap on the hunter was a godsend. Even though level 20 hunter traps don't have a habit of hanging around forever, every little bit helps when Smite is laying the smack down. Seal of Judgment and stuns also helped with some CC and prevented running. And honestly, without a class who could heal, I wouldn't try it at all.

Thank god there is a forge and an anvil right in the center of the zone. It allowed me to turn tons of mined material and drops back into more target dummies.

Next time (and there will clearly be a next time somewhere), I'd probably pay more attention to my bags and what not. I ended up carrying around bits and pieces of in-progress quests and uncooked meats all through the instance. And I had a grand total of five mana potions. And they were the baby ones (i.e. restore 140 to 180 mana). Next time I do this I'm having a full stack of appropriate level potions and elixirs.

So, what's next? I have a quest hanging about in my Paladin's quest log. I need to hit both Blackfathom Depths and Shadowfang Keep. Wowwiki lists them as 18-25 and 20-27 respectively. The other thing to do would be hit the Stockades. That's like 23-28. And Wowwiki (again) suggests a team of well geared 27-ish characters.

So apart from end-game, I'm making the game challenging by doing things I shouldn't be able to. As time goes on, I'll probably keep trying new things to keep making WoW different.

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