Thursday, February 4, 2010

My Class Choice

Professor Beej did a nice little guest post over at World of Matticus recently asking ‘why did you choose your healing class? ’ It certainly has sparked a number of stories and responses from the readers, and I was going to add my own response in there, too. Unfortunately, I realized two things: first, that it was a fairly complicated answer that wouldn’t quite fit in the space available; second, I’m overdue for a post here (I could also add a third: this topic has been popping around in my brain for some time; Beej’s post has given me the push I’ve apparently needed to actually do my own. Thanks, Beej!).

I’ve already dealt a bit with how I got started in WoW. That post deals a little bit with my prior computer game experience, which was limited primarily to games like Grand Theft Auto, Indiana Jones, and the like. As far as WoW, I had pretty much no idea of the game and how it worked, beyond what I’d seen as my wife and daughter played. Probably the closest thing to WoW experience I had personally was a brief foray into Dungeons & Dragons in high school. We didn’t play all that much or for very long, and not very well (the most memorable point in it was our party being gang-raped by a kobold king – such is the mindset of a teenage dungeon master). Still, some of the role-playing elements of D&D influenced my approach to WoW and the character creation process, even though I wasn’t going to play on an RP server.

When I sat down at the computer with the intent to play that first time, there was nothing on my mind except knocking around a little bit and seeing what all the fuss was about. I had no real concept of what any class did, except that hunters had pets and mages threw fire around (I knew this from seeing my daughter and wife play, respectively). Unlike Spazmoosifer, who mentioned in his response to Beej that he rolled a priest because the guild he was going to join needed one for raiding, I had no plans for anything beyond that day. So I was ‘stuck’ with the information that Blizzard could present during the character creation process. It was all up to me and my whims.

One of the first things I realized is that I needed to be able to relate to the toon I was about to play. This actually made choosing a faction pretty easy, as I looked over the horde models, they just didn’t do it for me. Orcs, trolls, and tauren just didn’t do it for me. Blood elves? Hah! Undead? No, thank you. I found that I needed my character to be a little more…human. And that’s what I picked. I didn’t investigate the racials, didn’t know (or care) that humans have a passive ability that gains more rep than others. None of that mattered. I just needed to be able to relate to the toon that would be running around in front of me, and I didn't quite connect with what I was looking at.

With the choice of faction/race/sex made I now had to choose a class. As I read through the class descriptions I found that three jumped out at me initially: Paladins, Druids, and Warlocks. Why they appealed to me, and why I made my ultimate choice, is somewhat hard to put down into words. It partly comes from the ability to relate to the character, mentioned above, but it also came in part because of how, despite not being a Role Player, it was important for me to project part of me into the character.

The Druid and Paladin both offered diversity, which was something I liked. The Druid, as a described, ‘command nature’s wrath’ and are ‘masters of the wild.’ I’m a nature guy, a lover of the outdoors, a bird watcher – playing the druid would seem to allow me to express my personality in a particular way. The Druid is ‘who I am.’

The Paladin is ‘a mix of melee fighter and a secondary spell caster.’ Furthermore the Paladin ‘can withstand terrible blows in the thickest battles while healing their wounded allies and resurrecting the slain.’ Wow! They are ‘Guardians of the Light’ who ‘bolster their allies with holy auras and blessing to protect their friends from harm and enhance their powers.’ The Paladin sounded like the ultimate team player, and I’ve always prided myself on being a good team player. When all the other kids wanted to play forward in street hockey, I played defense (of course, my hero of the day was Bobby Orr so I guess it wasn’t that great a sacrifice. Watch this for some highlights of Orr’s ‘Golden Years.’), since we had to have defensemen. It sounded very noble. Like the Druid, the Paladin represented ‘who I am’, but as I read the description, it also seemed a lot like ‘who I want to be.’

Then there was the Warlock. Where Paladins are ‘Guardians of the Light’ and Druids are ‘keepers of nature’, Warlocks are ‘masters of demonic power.’ Warlocks ‘plague their enemies with disease or curses, hurling bolts of fire or shadow energy across the battlefield, and summoning demons to aid them in combat.’ How cool is that? Yet the appeal of the Warlock was not just in hurling fiery damage around (my wife was playing a mage, and I could see for myself how cool that is), it was in the fact that Warlocks seem ‘evil.’ They are the anti-Paladin. Playing a Warlock would be a way for me to live vicariously on the Other Side, to not just flirt with darkness, but to embrace it. Instead of being ‘Mr. Lawful Goody Two Shoes’ (another quote from my old Dungeon Master) I could let my ‘Evil Twin’ run around and wreak havoc – wouldn’t that be fun? In a lot of ways, the Warlock would seem to allow me to ‘get away from myself’ a bit; and after all, isn’t the point of a game to escape?

It actually took me much longer to write those three paragraphs than it did to make the decision. The notion of ‘rolling’ a Druid was discarded pretty much the moment I read the Paladin description. The real debate for me was between the Paladin and the Warlock: Play the good guy that I am/would like to be? Or play the guy that I keep locked away all the time?

In the end I suppose the need to play something that represents both who I am and what I aspire to be overcame the sick thrill of setting your enemies on fire: I chose the Paladin. Given my personality it’s no surprise that I gravitated towards the Holy tree – the ability to help others through healing is one of the things that appealed to me about both the Druid and Paladin (I couldn’t remember why Shaman didn’t appeal to me at the time. Then I reread Blizzard’s description of the class. Talk about damning with faint praise! Perhaps if William Shatner’s commercial had been out then …).I knew early on that I wanted to go deep into the Holy tree – as cool as Avenger’s Shield looked (it was the top of the protection tree at the time), Holy Shock just seemed that much better – even when level 70 was so far away as to be meaningless. Once I started healing I found that I liked it, even when the results were disastrous. Which they often were.

As for my Warlock: when I set about creating him, I admit that I had a vision in my head of what he would be like. I gave him an extra-stern face, and even thought that I’d play him with a different personality – one more befitting a master of the dark arts. Ultimately, I play him just like my Paladin – in other words, he’s like a mini-me. Poor sap!

There you have it. Not quite a direct answer to the question Beej raised, but something of an answer nonetheless. I’d love to hear your thoughts on why you chose the class you did: was it for reasons like mine, or because it looked cool, or because you knew you’d get raid spots? Does your toon represent who you are or who you’d like to be, or have no meaning at all? Let me know!

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