Altaholism & Versatility

originally posted on 1-18-17

I mentioned in my last post that I’m an altaholic. I love seeing the world/story of WoW from both factions perspective, and I feel switching up classes/playstyles/races can sometimes help alleviate that feeling of borderline creeping monotony that can sink in at varying points in the leveling/grinding process. Some people who play WoW find their niche – a class they love to play and stick with until the end, or they branch out and explore other options, but always go back to their preference. Probably one of my biggest issues is I’ve been playing WoW off and on since 2008 and have yet to find that for myself.

I started my WoW tenure as a Human Combat Rogue. The idea of striking from the shadows and picking locks and whatnot appealed to me at the time. But that just didn’t stick. Since that time frame I’ve played/dabbled in (and not in this order) a Rogue, a Warrior, a Death Knight, a Hunter, a Priest, a Druid, a Mage, a Monk, a Paladin, a Warlock, and a Demon Hunter. Wait…that’s almost all the classes isn’t it? Some of them I committed to for periods of time, other got parked at varying low levels and never really touched again.

It’s strange what keeps my attention in WoW. Sometimes it’s that a class has cool looking spells and abilities (Mage/Warlock) that give the game a good aesthetic flair that a class like say a Warrior or Rogue lack. Sometimes it’s that I can create a transmog outfit that I really like (cloth/leather wearers win in this category). But recently I came to realize a key factor: versatility. I really enjoy classes with versatility. I don’t mean that like a full toolkit of abilities for any given situation, or a Mage who can choose to destroy their foes with the power of Arcane, Fire, or Ice (ok, ok, Frost). When I say versatility, I mean a class that can fulfill multiple roles, a class that gives me the ability to, on any given day, choose to wreck havoc on my enemies, or buff/shield/heal my allies. Obviously enough, this means that my favorite classes so far have all been ones that can heal (extra points for being able to off-heal while doing damage).

A Druid, a Priest, a Monk, a Paladin, and a Shaman can all fulfill both roles with varying differences. So far, out of those choices, I’ve put the most time into my druid. The result has been potentially the most fun I’ve had playing WoW since I started.

In terms of sheer versatility (by how I defined it earlier), the druid wins out by a landslide. Druids have something unique to the WoW experience – they are shapeshifters – they shapeshift into different forms that fulfill different roles. This caters to my love of game aesthetics, and interesting/engaging game mechanics that offer a diverse and well rounded playstyle that offers freedom of choice. Their Tank form is a bear, their DPS has TWO forms depending of what type of damage dealing playstyle you desire (cat form for up close rogue style stealth->combo builders melee/moonkin form for casting from afar), and a travel form that replaces the need for a mount (which includes a flying form AND an aquatic form that gives you the ability to breathe underwater with faster swim speed). Druids used to have a tree form for healing, but that was replaced by a talent that is more like a buff that turns you into a tree for the duration. The permanent tree form can be learned, but does not give you any benefits like it used to back during the old talent tree days.

So you can imagine it makes playing a Druid a very interesting experience. I chose to specialize in the casting spec (moonkin form, or “boomkins” as they’ve been nicknamed) for damage and Restoration (the healing spec) and you better believe I bought the permatree spell for shits and giggles.

Battles are engaging and entertaining: I start in Moonkin form and blast away with damage dealing abilities and dots, building Astral Power (my primary resource) until I can unleash my big hitting spells (starsurge/starfall), or if shit hits the fan I can heal myself, root or daze my enemy if need be, and dash away in cat form until I lose aggro then stealth away until I’m in a safe area and regroup myself.

Or if I feel like it, I can run with a group in tree form and be the healer, throwing down a healing mushroom and some hots and watching big green numbers fly, instilling my party with the confidence to know they’ll make it through the encounter. Being a healer for me is much more rewarding and favors group play (solo leveling as a healer can be slow), but that’s what I enjoy about playing classes that can fulfill multiple roles – having the ability to play multiple styles or adapt to the encounter. Now it’s not advised to switch specs on the fly mid raid/dungeon, but just purely having that ability to switch playstyles whenever I so choose appeals greatly to me (back in the day, when you could dual spec at level 30 I was so happy it’s stupid).

When you’re a tank or melee dps you’re up close and personal and you’re basically just wailing on your enemy. A tanks job is to keep the enemies attention on them, and a dps’ role is primarily just kill kill kill. Not that I’m knocking those roles/classes, nor the people who enjoy playing them (and I’ve tried both), but I personally find them to be quite boring.

Bow wielding Hunters that pewpew from afar and can run with or without their trusty pet (pets if you’re Beast Mastery) after sometime feel boring and stagnant for me. A mage at their core stands back and blasts purple, light blue, or orangey red at enemies. Yes, each spec plays differently in terms of mechanics, portals are simply amazing, and the effects of all three are totally cool and eye catching, but all that pizzaz can only hold my interest for so long. Sure a rogue can choose to specialize in assassinating their opponents with poisons, live the life of an outlaw pirate, or be a ninja and do the subtlety shadowdance, and to some that’s enough and totally fun, but to me it’s the inability to fulfill multiple roles that makes a pure dps class feel…limiting.

On the recommendation of a friend, former coworker, and fellow altaholic I’ve started trialing a Shaman. A Shaman is perhaps the only class in the game I haven’t played at all. I tried one a long time ago (right during release of WOTLK), and couldn’t find a flow, I’m guessing because it was still early in my WoW career and maybe they were too complex for me then with all the totems (which have now all but a few been removed) and I was coming off playing a Rogue.

Versatile like the druid (without the shape-shifting…although I can turn into a spirit wolf to traverse territories where mounts aren’t allowed), a Shaman can stand back and blast foes with lightning, lava, and the earth itself (elemental), get up close and personal to hammer on foes with weapons imbued by the power of the elements (enhancement), or sit back and thrown down healing rains (restoration). So far it’s offered a winning combination of what I enjoy most in a class: I can play different roles (healer or damage dealer), and it’s got a nice aesthetic – the abilities have nice visuals. Transmog right now is the only issue, but that’s because Shamans wear mail armor, and all the mail I’ve collected is for my Hunter, so that’s subject to change. I see myself being able to invest time into the Shaman and enjoying it on the same level as the Druid.

So while I’m still 100% an altaholic, and that will probably never change, I’ve found two classes that really fit what I look for most and provide me with options in terms of game play. I could see myself taking both of them for the long haul, and that’s saying something. It’s possible I’ve found my top two, and for me that’s a good thing I think.

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