Friday, July 8, 2011

Wow, I Like It!

Yesterday, I took a trip to Wow Insider and read their Breakfast Topic.  The title read, "What have you tried in WoW that you never thought you'd enjoy?"  It got me thinking.  But, rather than give them a free two-paragraph blurb buried in their comment section, I decided to write about it here, instead.

For me, the answer which immediately springs to mind is "Battlegrounds".

"Growing up" in Vanilla WoW on a PVP server with an active Horde population determined to kill any Alliance which wandered into view, I had a tainted view of PVP.  To me, that was all PVP was:  the constant effort to kill other players for sport.

It reminded me of the hour-long foray my husband and I had made ages and ages ago in Dark Age of Camelot, when they first opened up a PVP server on which anyone could attack anyone, regardless of faction.  (And steal some of your cash.)  We realized quickly this kind of playstyle was not for us and returned to our normal server for the duration of our time in DAOC.

True, I had tried a couple of times to enter the DAOC faction vs. faction battleground areas, but when I had taken the time to go, nothing had been happening.  I mean nothing.  The few other players in my faction stood around, reinforced the doors to our keep (I had raised my woodworking), and twiddled our thumbs until I got bored and left.

So whenever someone mentioned PVP in any form in WoW, I got a bad taste in my mouth.

But you'd be surprised what people will do for money, or to save money.

When my Druid reached level 60, I immediately spec'd her into Restoration, only because Innervate was the end talent in the tree and one I felt was just too cool to pass up.  I had no real intentions to do instances or raiding.  In fact, I wasn't exactly sure what I was going to do, and realized if I was going to play at all, I needed a goal.  I decided I wanted my epic ground mount.

I had worked hard to get my first 100 gold for my regular speed ground mount at level 40 by fishing, but I knew if I tried to fish my way to 1000 gold for my epic mount, it would take years.  (Remember, the value of gold was much greater in those days.  Not only were the mounts more expensive, but there was less currency floating around the economy, so prices on the Auction House were lower.  For a non-raider, 1000 gold was a lot of money.)

That's when I learned that one of the rewards for gaining PVP rank was an epic mount for less than 100 gold.  The real cost:  time in the Battlegrounds.

The PVP ranking system was actually based more on time than on any skill a person might have.  Each week, on each server, by faction, players gained or lost rank by the number of honor points they had racked up the previous week.  Players gained honor points whenever you helped someone in a kill, as well, so a healer could gain honor by tossing a heal on someone actually beating on an enemy player.

The ranking was not done strictly by the raw amount of honor.  Someone couldn't just come out of nowhere and gain the highest rank by a dedicated week of PVP, and a player couldn't be dropped from rank 10 to rank 1 in a single week.  There was a progression by which people would gain or lose rank once they reached it, depending on their PVP action that week.  Of course, the higher a player was in rank, the more that player would have to play to maintain that rank or gain the next.

At certain levels, rewards were available.  As you gained in rank, armor was made available for purchase, and at rank 11, the epic riding mount became available.

Although I had never had a desire to set foot in a Battleground, and although I had avoided all forms of PVP to that point, that Rank 11 epic riding cat became my goal.

With the support of my family, I took a deep breath and started on the path, determined that, no matter what, I would pay my dues.  I learned pretty quickly not to worry about dying in a Battleground, because I would not lose points.  I also learned to stick with a group whenever possible, because as a healer, that was the way I gained my honor the most quickly.  (Tab-targeting and spamming HoTs on anyone in the area taking damage made for a lot of assists in kills.  I didn't know what addons were at that point in my play.)  As Battlegrounds were restricted to a single server at the time, people started recognizing me and enjoyed having me around, as I was a healer who actually *gasp* healed, and I was happy to be appreciated.

As I learned more about the various games, I found I was actually having fun.  With the exception of Warsong Gulch, which I avoided like the Plague after my first few runs, it was a thrill.  I learned something of the strategy required for Arathi Basin and Alterac Valley.  I discovered the sideline quests which could be done in epic AV battles to give one's team an edge (which nobody ever does anymore, because Blizzard made them irrelevant).  And, because I was not terribly concerned about dying or even horribly worried about winning, I could enjoy the dance of the battle with little to no pressure, knowing that as long as I kept healing people in the thick of it all, I was gaining honor and getting closer to my goal.

That's not to say I never got competitive.  If the Alterac Valley was at a stalemate, I would join the other stealthers to go capture unguarded towers or kill wolves in Horde territory for the skins needed to make bridles for ram riders.  A trick I learned later on, after the honor system was changed, was to stealth into the Horde encampment, sneak up to a tower, cap the flag, and hide in various locations which will not be disclosed in this blog to wait for the Horde to come cap it back.  As soon as they got bored and left, I'd cap it again.  If they started guarding the tower, I'd cap the graveyard to get them out of it.  And if they started guarding both, I'd sit tight and eat a snack until they got bored and left.  It usually ended up keeping four or five people out of the main battle, because they were too busy running around looking for me.  I felt very powerful, in a sneaky, annoying sort of way.

I got that cat.  And even though a few weeks later, it was made available to anyone who came up with enough Battleground marks (a new implementation), I still ride it.  It represents weeks (*ahem* months) of fun and hard work, a hurdle crossed, and a goal reached.  Because, you see, those people who got the cat with marks still had to pay 1000 gold, to learn the 150-level riding skill, which was implemented at that time.  If you look at my cat, you will see it has a riding skill requirement of 75, which was Blizzard's way of not completely trivializing the reward for those who had earned it the hard way.

I don't run Battlegrounds much anymore, but when I do, I usually choose Arathi Basin.  And even now, I get a thrill in the middle of the action, as I use my healing skills to prop up other players in the face of Horde attackers who think they can just roll over us.  I can't help but giggle in delight when a dps player and myself manage to somehow defend a flag against a slightly larger force of attackers and figuratively high-five each other as we sit to catch our breath.  It's also great fun to use a wider array of my Druidic skills than I usually use while raiding.

And I would never have learned how much fun Battlegrounds are if I hadn't been short of money.

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