A Tale of Three Early Game Experiences

Starting WoW, my intended main character was a Night Elf Druid. Good damage, heals, and tankability, I had read. They turn into bears and cats and sea lions and trees, which is all the awesome I need. I connected with my triple-xp partner, and we rolled to Darnassus the first night. I messed with trade skills, then we rampaged across Darkshore later that week. The weekend saw us questing to the Deadmines, where we hit a technical outage. That was almost enough to cancel my account, not because I was outraged about inconvenience, but because it stopped the forward momentum. If the game does not get a chance to sink its claws into you, you never form the habit, and I have a dozen “meh” options before me. I always harp on the new player experience because it is essential to hook new players now. As it is, his courses re-started and he has not logged on for a week. If I had been depending on that, I would be done with WoW by now. She is parked at level 22, waiting for her sempai.

My intended alt was a Gnome Mage. I already had my support class covered, so I could go with my other great love: ranged damage. Let’s be direct: Mages are horrible at low levels right now, and Loch Modan is a horrible second zone. My primary mage problem was mana consumption versus recovery: killing an enemy took half a bar of mana plus a few staff whacks, and recovering half a bar of mana took about 18 seconds. The majority of my combat time was downtime. I am told that this is due to formula changes intended for the late game, and maybe it all works out with heirloom gear and such. Next mix in the poor second Dwarf zone. The starting template is pretty simple: newbie town, first real town, bounce off the capital and head to a new zone. Humans get Westfall, Night Elves get Darkshore, and Dwarves/Gnomes get screwed. The content has little variety, is far too spread across dead space, and calls for visits to other zones. Strike two.

On a whim, I made a Paladin. This is the edge of my comfort zone: I do not play meat shields, but this one also heals. I always wanted to like the Captain. And let me tell you, this has been a glorious experience. There needs to be a big sign on the character selection screen telling people to start as a Paladin. After playing a Mage, the survivability is ridiculous. I actively over-pull and try insane things because I usually survive them; my only bane is casting enemies, who tend to run in packs and can get line of sight through wagons and trees. There is nothing quite like discovering adds when three fireballs come through a solid object. Other than that hurdle, being over-powered is nice. I have traded off as much defense for damage as possible, and it really is satisfying to crush your enemies with a giant hammer. I was amazed to see that she out-nukes the Mage: the damaging taunt does not activate global cooldown, so I can Exorcise immediately after starting the pull. Drop a magic hammer as it arrives in melee, get that big first swing in, and the enemy is usually around 25% health. That takes less than a quarter of my mana, and the blue magic hammer gives me mana for hitting the enemy. Average downtime: ~3 seconds per fight, during which I sort out loot.

The night I hit 20 was when it all came together. I joined a guild, tagged along for the Deadmines, and realized I had forgotten that Paladins get free magic ponies. The perfect newbie class: how else will you afford those gold pieces at level 20 on a first character? Probably by not spending what I do on trade skills. A guild tailor gave me four frostweave bags; doubling your pack space is effectively god-moding the inventory management mini-game I hate so much. I got rid of every problem I had: almost 0 downtime; return to town when I run out of quests, not pack space; ride with ease and speed when I do; survivability with new ranged damage; quest dense zones; and people to chat with in /g. My only disappointment is that her current best weapon is a big axe rather than a comically huge hammer. I like its numbers, and she gets huge crits all the time due to Retribution talents, but hammertime was both cathartic and classically Warcraft.

Oh, and I have a few other alts, including Horde. My Horde friends have been even less present than the one who referred me, so I may take a while to get back over there.

: Zubon

16 thoughts on “A Tale of Three Early Game Experiences

  1. Yeebo

    When playing a WoW clothie, as soon as you hit level five, head to the AH and pick up a wand. You can get one that’s nearly OP for less than two gold (enchanters make tons of them to power through the lower levels). One stack of 20 copper ore should more than cover it on the majority of servers.

    Warlocks, Priests, and Mages are arguably underpowered at low levels without a wand. Smacking things down with your feeble beat stick damage when you go OOP just doesn’t cut it, imo. Also be sure to upgrade the wand again at level 14, another very nice one becomes available. By 20 or so you can stop worrying about your wand so much. On most builds you’ll rarely be using it by that point.

    And agreed, the second dwarf area bites compared to the three other alliance 10-20 zones (if you can even get that many levels out of it).

  2. Jemre

    Agreed that loch modan is hell. also agreed with Yeebo’s wand suggestion.

    And you’re correct; the mana calculation changes high levels really screwed up how priests/mages work at lower levels. I’m levelling a priest with three heirlooms and my mana still takes ages to refill, even with Spirit Tap, the mana-restore function.

    One more thing I’d advise is that if you’re a herbalist, miner, tailor or in lesser cases blacksmith or leatherworker, check the AH for the stuff you’re making – some greens go for really good amounts at low-mid levels.

  3. Katherine

    Seconding the “if you can use it, get a wand” suggestion. They should be giving you one as a quest reward option in the newbie zones now to make up for the obvious suckitude you have informed us of. I mean everyone else gets several upgrades to their main weapon before a decent green drops, why not casters? (I class the wand as their main weapon, not the staff because staves suck for damage).

  4. Ikew

    I do expect them to give away more wands in cataclysm :)

    And yes, pally is the new hunter.
    (for non-wowers, hunter was the class of choice for newbies – overpowerd, very pleasant, hard to mess up bad)

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  7. bonedead

    I’m back in love with WoW. Played on and off since release and just last weekend finally reached 80! I don’t get all of the Loch Modan hate, that place rules. I do die there a lot, or remember doing so at least, but it really is a great zone. Just trogg all the troggs and crocodile the crocodiles while also bearing the bears and such. If you’re playing one of those few super awesome classes, you can even solo the elite ogres. Even if they don’t drop much better stuff than a non elite humanoid, you’re soloing elites, so it is totally worth it.

    I second the Wand notion. That really is one of the most important pieces of advice for a low level caster.

    Back to Loch Modan though. I know there are like 4 places to get quests, well, 5 or 6 mebbe. If that is your problem with it (besides the fly to Ironforge for one second ones) then I’d have to say that I’d blame quest helper. Once you get used to its perfection (which is very questionable at the high 70s I’ve recently discovered) you start to notice the zones that weren’t designed to be completely convenient. Now is it a bad thing that some zones aren’t convenient? Some would say yes. But think about what Loch Modan has in it for a newb. Ever been to that big waterfall thing? That’s a pretty sight to see as a newb, I remember it really standing out in my newb mind. The giant lake with loch ness monsters in it, come on, that is awesome and you know it. Bingles crashed gnome plane, awesome. Oh noes our mining excavation got overrun by these monster things that you fought in that cave already, HALP! Sure thing master dwarf, I’m on it!

  8. NBarnes

    Loch Modan does kinda totally suck. One can really see why the devs looked at the old zones and thought to themselves, ‘We can do better than this swill. Let’s blow up the world.’

    1. Zubon Post author

      37 and still haven’t finished that one. I got myself 3 pieces, but I need to hit that last dungeon.

      I am currently rocking a one-handed axe because of a blue (quest reward, I think). So far, no two-hander I have found has beaten it by more than 1 DPS (after the stats and such on it), and I am not trading a shield for 1 DPS.

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