[WoW] The mastery curve, holidays, and it came from the PUG


Hallow’s End is my favourite of the WoW holiday events. This isn’t just because the Headless Horseman talks in rhyme like a pantomine villain, but because it’s the only event which feels more meaningful in the game world than in real life.

In real life, Halloween in the UK is a  hodge podge which is currently drawing hugely on American customs. It is kind of taking off, but I think we have a much softer spot for the home grown Guy Fawkes Day with its fireworks, anti government themes and politically incorrect  history. It may not be the world’s greatest festival but it’s all ours, dammit.  In game, Hallow’s End is the holiday on which the Forsaken celebrate their freedom from the Scourge. (A fairly brilliant concept from Blizzard which keeps the spooky feel but fits nicely with the lore.) So as my main is Forsaken, it is quite meaningful to me. This screenshot shows the daily ceremony in the Undercity where Sylvanas walks out and gives a speech/ pep talk in front of the Wicker Man. You can see that there are a few other players standing around, even though I don’t think you get any buffs from watching the event. They just wanted to come and see.

As players, we are probably all used to seeing thinly veiled lore-based excuses for having Xmas events. Players like them. But I much prefer the approach that imagines what type of holidays the in game races might have, what events might they celebrate? LOTRO does a good job with these, tying their holidays to the seasons and harvests. Anyone else have favourite events with game-specific lore that just really works for you?

Yesterday you were the noob, today you are the master

In any MMO, you can imagine a kind of learning curve where you begin as an inexperienced player and end up achieving the sort  of mastery where random strangers ask you for tips about your gear/ playing style in PUGs. OK, in my dreams maybe, but every player takes a journey from feeling new and awkward and unconfident to feeling comfortable with the content, confident, and capable in their role. This includes collecting gear, exploring the zones and instances, learning the fights and learning the class.

In particular if you want to take part in group content at max level, there is a trial by fire where you start queuing for PUGs as a nervous, barely geared level 90. Then as you get more experience and better gear, you don’t feel so nervous any more. Your tanking/healing/dps is fine and you know it.

That learning curve seems to get shorter with each expansion, but I suspect that is partly my being generally familiar with the game. It is, however, one of my absolute most favourite parts of WoW. That sense that every dungeon run is exciting because you can still make daft mistakes, help your group narrowly avoid a wipe, or just barely heal a fight and keep everyone alive. And more than that, the sense that you are still learning something with every run, still hoping for that cool drop, still engaged with the content.

I know not everyone likes excitement or that skin of the teeth feeling, but I do enjoy the learning curve. I feel that with Spinks I’m pretty much at the end of it now, she’s geared for the next LFR when it turns up, is generally top dps in instances, and I have most of the gear I really wanted.  When I run heroics now, I feel far more laid back about it. DPS warriors hinge on the very basic fun of hitting stuff with big weapons and putting up big numbers and that never really pales.

The main alt this expansion is a priest and I’ve ended up taking her down the Holy (healing) path. This was initially because queue times were so short, but I also really enjoy it as a spec. It feels like a spec with a lot of depth, and though I can heal competently, I still feel that I’ve barely scratched the surface which is pretty cool.

Undergeared healers can be challenging to play because they tend to run out of mana very fast. I think the priest has particular issues with this, but since I don’t plan on raiding with her, I am reflecting that this actually makes the instance learning curve rather more fun for me. Or rather, it’s more fun because sometimes I have really struggled with healing an encounter, which makes it so much more rewarding when I can go back later to the same instance with better gear/more experience/better group and see that I’ve improved. I will almost be sad to be over geared on her.

But there are still Challenge modes ahead. I look forwards to more exciting razor edge victories/failures.

It came from the PUG

A couple of positive examples this week, both from instances where I was healing.

I had struggled to heal Shado-Pan Heroic, there are encounters where the group can end up taking a lot of damage without much warning. But I am getting better with practice, and also noticing how much of a difference it makes when players can keep out of the avoidable damage. This is something Blizzard are really pushing with the MoP heroics, and I think healers are in a good place to notice it. I realised I was getting more confident as a healer when after one of the boss fights in Shado-Pan, one of the dps who had died during the fight said “pay attention healer.”  And my kneejerk response was to say “no, you pay attention and keep out of the bad stuff.” And no one in the group complained, I like to think this was because I was right.

Another, similar, healing moment was in Jade Temple Heroic. One of the (dead) dps said to me “where were the heals” and I said “you need to keep yourself out of the bad stuff”. There was a pause, and he said “yeah sorry.” THIS NEVER HAPPENS (i.e. people apologising), BUT IT HAPPENED IN MY GROUP!! Cognitive dissonance follows.

I imagine that once I am overgeared I’ll be better able to heal people who stand in the fire, but I quite like the playing style where it’s just not possible to do that and  healing decisions have to be made based on keeping enough people alive to beat the boss, which means triage on people who just take too much damage.

9 thoughts on “[WoW] The mastery curve, holidays, and it came from the PUG

  1. Sounds like healing as a newly dinged healer in MoP is similar to how it was in Cata.

    I like that your “positive” pug examples both are stories where people moaned about your healing. 😛

  2. Recount death logs are perfect for this. Someone complains about not getting enough heals, you just whisper the log showing how they took 100% of their health in avoidable damage in under three seconds. Tends to shut people up quickly when they realize just how much incoming damage you were up against because they weren’t paying attention.

  3. Favourite holiday: The September 19th Pirate day in WoW, precisely because it’s not a “proper” real world holiday (yet). It’s geek culture taking place in geek culture.

    And as a real-world craft beer fan, the Brewfest is a close second. Given the prevalence of brewing-related stuff in this expansion, based, it seems, solely on a single NPC from WC3 being a brewer, I’m wondering just who in Blizzard is the huge craft beer fan.

  4. I have always enjoyed the Halloween content in wow and while I am not playing currently I’m glad to see it still going full bore! My personal favorite festival with in game lore was the guild wars dragon festival that celebrated the founding of the Canthan empire. It was tied to in game events when a series of demons invaded one year and had to be driven off by players. Now every year NPCs in game dress up in costumes and act out the events that players experienced during the first in game festival. It is brilliantly done and allows players to experience an event without making the first time it happened less special.

    I’m also somewhat confused by how many Europeans I’ve heard state this year that Halloween is a north American holiday when every tradition can be traced back to Ireland and Scotland. If you could enlighten me that would be most appreciated.

  5. ” Guy Fawkes Day with its fireworks, anti government themes and politically incorrect history “

    Ant-government themes? This is wholly pro-government celebration. The anti-government Guy Fawkes is burned at the stake every year. It’s a “kill a Catholic” celebration.

    Shongaqu, Hallowe’en has long been celebrated in Ireland, but not in England. The version of Hallowe’en that the English are now adopting is the version they see in American TV programmes.

    • It’s been fairly common to take the excuse of Guy Fawkes to burn effigies of current politicians who are unpopular. That’s why I say that there’s an anti-government theme, which also got picked up by Alan Moore and Anonymous. You’re right of course that the original was all about the defeat of an anti government plot.

  6. I’ve just barely dipped my toe into healing MoP heroics. Fortunately, the two times DPS died on me was due to them standing in The Bad Stuff — and them APOLOGIZING for it afterwards. 🙂

    Now if I could just get some decent healbot gear to finally drop…

    • This is the same sort of thing that I have been seeing. I’ve really seen far more examples of nice or polite behaviour in PUGs recently than idiots. It’s quite … surreal.

      Also when you have the gear for it, don’t be afraid to try LFR as a healer. It’s really laid back, and no one really pays attention to what you are doing unless you die or the tanks die.

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