I’ve been feeling the call of leveling on a PvP realm for a long time. I know many people who say they’ve tried it and did not like it. On the other hand I know some who don’t want to play at all unless it is on a PvP realm.
I started WoW in the end of Burning Crusade with a very good friend of mine and we both rolled hunters. It was the first time playing an MMO for the both of us. I rolled a night elf and he a dwarf. I made the run from Teldrassil to Dun Morogh to join up with him. We had wonderful adventures. We went into Deadmines at level as a group of two hunters and were amazed that “green level” mobs hit us so very hard and yellows were so damn hard to beat. We almost downed the first boss, or maybe we actually did. I just remember us trying to hard to drop the two bouncers outside his door before they killed us. We did not know that there were tanks in this game or that there were healers. We thought we’d take turns bandaging ourselves while the other fought. We stood far apart and tried to make the mobs run between us to give us a chance to heal up. When a mob started chasing us, we’d run from it so the other one could hit it – without knowing what it was, we learnt to kite. And that was where I started becoming aware of the beast that is aggro.
Outside the game, we cracked wife aggro jokes with our wives (who themselves are the very best friends with each other) and they rolled their eyes at us.
I think back then you could use potions more than once in combat. Perhaps that is how we finally downed that first boss.
We picked professions and vendored our skins and ore until level 35 when I saw the Auction House. We did battlegrounds and we used to get demolished but it was fun. Like most people new to PvP, I hated Warsong Gulch. Now, its one of my favorite maps. I remember getting my first mount how amazing that was. And then my epic mount and gallivanting all over AV because wow, I was going so fast!
Then one day I discovered addons, installed recount and we began to obsess over beating each other in damage. Hunter vs hunter – it was only fair. We didn’t know any other classes or what they could or could not do. But we knew what we could do and we’d rub it in each other’s faces. We’ve known each other for over a decade so we could be downright obnoxious to each other. We knew that hunters couldn’t do jack at melee range so it was critical not to pull aggro off our pets. I think that taught us to walk the fine line between doing maximum dps but not getting aggro. In Blackrock Depths, we got a compliment from a tank and healer duo on being “the best hunters they’d ever seen” – this was the era of the huntard maybe, I don’t know. We had never raided, but we were just trying to do as much DPS as possible without pulling anything we’d need to tank. And yeah, we would drop traps if a group of mobs started heading towards the tank – habits learned as hunters. Those people were impressed with our ability to do high damage yet not pull off the tank and not tunnel vision. To not hit stuff until the tank picked it up. It was high praise and we basked in it.
Anyway, the point I am building up to is that the game was so fresh and new, there was so much to learn that it was exciting. It was unpredictable.
We went on to reroll Horde, found the Horde community to be far more mature and friendly (on that realm) than we’d seen as Alliance and so I leveled a blood elf frost mage that my wife named for me. My friend did some research, found Paladins were overpowered (in the pre-WotLK 3.0 patch Rets were destroying the BGs) rolled a belf Ret. While leveling, I felt the pull of altitis and rolled a druid, then a warrior, priest and rogue. My feral druid hit 80 as a cat. Found BBB’s blog and he used to blog about bear tanking and did a post or two on healing too. My social friendly guild at the time was always full of DPS but never had healers or tanks. So I started druid healing in Naxx and did really well. A highlight for me was tanking one of the rear bosses in the 4H fight as a resto druid. But then we had an abundance of healers all of a sudden. So I tried bear tanking. It was fun and not too difficult – aggro was no new concept for me. There was so much to do, explore and learn. A few guild hops later, I killed LK in 10 man when it was current (though nerfed). I did it as a main tank. I did it as a warrior and it was awesome.
I’ve now been playing for two full expansions and on the PvE front, nothing seems groundbreaking anymore. I have 7 85s on the realm I moved to when Cataclysm launched. With the exception of the most recent one, all have raided in some capacity. I have healed on 4 classes, I have tanked on 4 and done ranged and melee dps. I do not raid anymore, I found it took far too much time away from my wife and son to do it and for me, that sacrifice just was not worth it even if WoW was the best darn game I ever played. This meant that I was not going to raid unless they were asleep or otherwise occupied and so I didn’t want to sign up for scheduled raids. I didn’t want to leave 9 or 24 other people hanging in case I had to drop.
That left 5 mans which got boring after a while. LFR was interesting a couple of times but not really a challenge. Or if it was a challenge, it was challenging in a form in which my personal contribution mattered very little. So I started to PvP more and more, and I got hooked.
PvP is the only fresh content left in game for me. Every skirmish is different. Your opponent learns and adapts, you can’t use the same strategy each time. It is dynamic. Raids can have new bosses, new mechanics and graphics but in the end it is a choreographed dance. The dance gets ever more complex and while interesting the first few times, in the end it is static. It is hard to find a fight unpredictable when DBM can call out boss abilities down to a tenth of a second. Once the boss dies a few times, its the same thing over and over. Yes, its exciting to reach the next haste break-point etc but its nothing “new”. The fact that Dragon Soul has been out for SUCH A LONG TIME right now probably contributes to this jaded feeling.
So, PvP. Battlegrounds are fun though AFK bots and randoms vs premades can make them a lot less fun. Rated BGs are awesome fun but my guild’s leadership has chosen to place raiding stale content ahead of Rated Battlegrounds and we have ceased RBGs for this season. The guild’s second raid group is trying to score their heroic spine (3%!) and madness kills. I wish them luck but its a damn shame that had to move raiding to the same time slots as the rated battlegrounds. Our server’s population too has nosedived recently and there are hardly any RBG pugs happening.
So I did what any normal person does, I decided to roll an alt. I already have 10 toons on my main server, so I decided to shop around. Since PvP is what I really play for now, I wanted to look at PvP realms BUT I wanted to be able to pug into a raid once in a while too. So I went and looked at wowprogress. What I saw BLEW MY MIND. This is a listing of US servers by progression.
Yes ladies and gentlemen. The top ten servers in the US, ordered by PvE progression ARE ALL PVP SERVERS.
I don’t know why this is so. Maybe it is because to survive on a PvP server you need to play your toon at a level above and beyond what you’d need to while questing on a PvE server. Maybe the more competitive types flock to PvP servers. Maybe its just an anomaly. But wow, not ONE PvE server in the top 10? That is odd.
So I checked out the forums for Illidan. And I found an exceptionally well organized thread listing all the guilds that raid on Illidan, their raid times, their culture, type of progression and well, I was impressed.
So I rolled an alt on Illidan and went questing. Soon enough, I hit Ghostlands (belf zone #2) and came across the Luzran and Knucklerot quest.
You get this quest at very low level, I was 12 when I picked it up and it is to kill these two level 21 elites that roam through the zone. They hit really hard and a geared 20 tank type can maybe solo them. A level 12 warlock bereft of heirlooms certainly can’t. So I picked it up and went about my merry way of visiting the trainer etc.
“LFM for Luzran and Knucklerot” was a message in general chat.
I jumped on the offer. To my amazement, we had a full group within a minute or two. We then set about hunting these elites and dispatched them. Meanwhile, the group was polite with each other, conversing and generally behaving decently. I was amazed. This is what WoW had been like such a long time ago.
I did a /who in the zone just to see how many “at-level” people were in there.
So I’m enjoying leveling on Illidan right now. I expect once I leave the safe starting areas, I’ll get ganked a lot or maybe not. For me, the thrill is in knowing I can be ambushed at any moment.
Illidan is dominated by the horde and cross realm zones coming in 5.0 (next week!) should even things out a bit. Hopefully I’ll see some alliance. Hopefully we’ll be the same level and hopefully we’ll fight. I don’t gank but I am under no illusion of that principle being upheld for me in return. Between mining and skinning, I already have about 25g at level 12 and that is comfortable enough for my needs at this point.
Not all is rosy with Illidan though, trade chat is insanely busy and is quite impossible to follow. PUGs are likely to be a lot more impatient, after all they’ve been pugging 8/8 H-DS for a few months now.
I’ve not given up on my old server or guild, but until they return to their senses and engage in PvP, Illidan is an exciting new frontier for me. When Mists launches, I expect there will be massive login queues.
I never thought I’d play on a PvP server when I started WoW but now, I find myself looking forward to it greatly.