The past month has seen relatively little WoW play by me. Between WBC West, deciding to sell my house, buying a house, and all of the work associated with prepping our house, I've put in relatively few hours until the last few days. However, it's been a while since I updated how things were going, so here we go!
First, my Alliance characters, all on the Drenden server. My main, the rogue HVAC engineer gnome Leonadril (Leo), has been progressing well. I try to rotate characters so that I can get double the XP for killing critters, and when you're in the low 50's it can take a *very* long time to get through a couple of levels. Early 50's are very cool, as you are breaking into a *lot* of new areas that you've never seen before (at least for me): Plaguelands, Winterspring, Moonglade, northern Felwood, Un'Goro Crater, Silithus, all sorts of places. After spending a very big chunk of my 30's in Stranglethorn Vale, it's nice to have so many options.
Even better is that I'm only a few levels away from being able to hit Outlands and all of the new areas introduced by Burning Crusade. Given how well Blizz did with the new early areas for the Draenai and Blood Elves, I'm very excited to see what's there. There is a new expansion announced, but I'm guessing we'll see it several months from now at the best, and I wouldn't be able to go there for a while anyway as it starts near level 70. Yikes.
One of the other interesting things about Leo is that he was recruited into a guild called The Grand Order. There are about 200+ members in it so far, so at least 15-30 people are on at any given time. One of my early experiences was a trip into the Troll city near Gadgetzan in Tanaris (starts with "Zul", but all Troll cities start with "Zul"), one of the few dungeons I've actually spent time in and finished off. We had an awesome level 70 druid who helped us run it, and I only died once or twice in the process. Not sure how much help I was, but at least I didn't get anyone else killed. I think.
So now Leo has his mechanostrider, as well as his ultracool riding turtle, and all is going well. I have a feeling I'm going to have to do another dungeon pretty soon to get over the low-50's hump, but so far I'm quite pleased with my progress with my original character.
Of the rest, I'm most enjoying Altaama, my Draenai Paladin. Part of that is the awesome intro areas (through level 22 for this character), and she's just gotten to Astranaar in Ashenvale so now I'll start seeing quests that are at least a bit familiar. Interestingly, I was recruited into Leo's guild by someone I'd played with a couple of days before while I was waiting at the dock to head to the mainland! Funny stuff. Isolde, the Night Elf druid, is in the low teens, and going to run around in the area around Darkshore until I get to the high teens before I make a run through the run from the Wetlands to Loch Modan to get to Ironforge and the other good Alliance areas. Given how dull I found Redridge and Westfall with my warlock (who I haven't played in months), I may enjoy the Night Elf areas a bit more. I did run much of Darkshore with my Night Elf warrior (long since killed off), but I just wasn't digging that character either. Finally, my dwarf warrior Igon just went to Loch Modan, but I'm not quite sure if/how I'll proceed with him.
Understand that a big part of why I use so many characters is twofold. First, if you spend time on one character, the others are earning levels where they will gain double the XP for kills. Second, and perhaps more important, is that if you have multiple characters you can leverage different trade and gathering skills. For example, Isolde is an herbalist/alchemist, so if anyone scores herbs they send them to her, and she sends them back potions (mostly useful for the lower levels, of course). You can also recycle bags and other items between professions/classes, and having a sugar daddy like Leo means that no one will need to wait past level 40 to get a mount (Leo took until level 48, *way* too long).
On the Horde side, things are a bit simpler. My main on The Scryers is Chanya, an orc shaman that I also enjoy playing quite a bit. I haven't seen her since early August, though! She's right on the verge of level 40, and I'm strongly considering running battlegrounds with her for a little while, although I have no idea how they work. I will take her up to Warsong Gulch when her turn comes around in a week or three. I definitely like the mix of combat and spell skills that Shamen and Paladi possess, although I have to admit that the sneakiness of the rogue is *very* cool, and I'd definitely play a rogue were I to give PvP a shot.
Only two other characters on the Horde side, one a Tauran hunter named Taurson with a wolf pet named Spot. This character is somewhere below most of my Alliance characters in terms of my enjoyment of the character, but part of this is because I seem to spend a lot of money on bullets. This is kind of strange, as one of the classes I really wanted to play when I first got into the game was a hunter because I'm such a dog person in real life. People talk about what the best pet to play is, but I have to say that don't know that I'd ever get rid of Spot. For me, the game really is about the roleplay rather than the levelling, and discovering new things in the world, so having an optimal character goes against my nature as I like characters that have flaws. Perhaps that's why Leo is my favorite, because he's an engineer and really likes building wacky and occasionally functional toys, like the Shrink Ray and the Goblin Jumper Cables.
The final character is my Blood Elf mage, who I haven't played in so long that I don't even remember her name! She's in her early teens as well, and another jewelcrafter as the new races have teachers in their home areas. Being a mage has a lot of advantages, and I think they even get an automatic mount at level 40, but while I've enjoyed the starting areas to some extent, and I find myself looking for the best looking outfits for her (they are a vain race), at the same time it's just not a character I care about like I do some of the others. I'll probably put together a couple more Horde characters to leverage off of each other (I still don't have a real priest, other than the one on Hydraxis that was intended to quest with my friend Laurent - it never took off, I'm afraid), but probably not for a little while.
Two other things; First, why I like playing female characters, and second why I think my WoW hours will start to drop like a rock even after we move.
I like the female characters for a few reasons, but mostly because I think they look better than most of the uber-masculine male characters. Leo is an exception, being a gnome, but in general I like the size. Plus, I'd really rather look at a nice female butt running around the landscape for hours at a time than a guy's. :-) I have *not* noticed any sexism in the game, which is nice, and there is no effective difference between the sexes other than appearance. I *almost* like this, and while I do believe that women should be given the same opportunities as men (in the real world), I also recognize there are significant biological differences between men and women that result in different life strategies and goals. It would be nice to play an RPG that recognized this in a positive way, but it's not going to be WoW.
As for my online time dropping, I have two words - Game Room. Having the ability to leave a game set up for months, that's right, months, will mean that I'll be spending more time playing things like Great War in Europe and Red Star Rising, things I'd never be able to play other than using VASSAL or Cyberboard given my current living situation. Not only that, but I'll be able to save games for long periods of time, so I can have several wargames going at once, all stored away nicely until I decide to play them. Given that I've really been enjoying wargaming more and more over the past year and euros less and less, it just makes sense that WoW time will fall off.
Of course the other factor is that I'm only a few months away from Leonadril making it to level 70, at which point I may start losing interest in WoW as well. While I'll probably keep playing, I suspect that my seratonin levels will finally start dropping during play, which doesn't happen so much now (unless I'm doing a quest for a drop that requires *far* too much grinding, as with Gaelen's Amulet in Bloodmyst Isle). Regardless, I consider my investment in WoW, both monetarily (including the CCG) and temporaly to be one of the better gaming experiences I've had. Thank the Spirit that this game wasn't available to me while I was in grad school, or worse before I got out of high school as it would have been a huge problem for me. Even the first Civilization game took up way too much of my time back in the early 90's, but having a computer or video game when I was 15 would have really been a bone of contention between me and my parents!
Anyway, that's my thoughts on WoW for now. I'll do another update in a month or three for those of you who care (Laurent).