Tag Archives: Joy the Nerfed Hunter

The Auschwitz of Azeroth

I wanted Joy go to Hillsbrad Foothills for one reason only. I wanted to know what was up with the Sludge Fields and I knew this could only be done by someone of the Horde faction.

I’ve marked the place that I would call an Azerothian Auschwitz on the map below.

I had passed by this point a few months earlier on my draenei shaman and what I saw truly freaked me out. I’m sure we all remember this place as a Horde quest area in the old world, but the town, a human settlement previously known as Hillbrad Fields, has now been turned into an internment camp for the captured human prisoners.

It’s not just that, it’s also a horrific experimental lab for … I don’t know – judge for yourself.

The journal of Clerk Horrace Whitesteed, a prisoner of war held at this camp, can be read here and it gives a chilling picture of what happened to this place. I’ve included some of the passages below:

Whitesteed before Hillsbrad Fields was taken over

Day 20
The Hillsbrad Fields are no more. Those that did not flee were captured. The Forsaken have declared us as prisoners of war. We are to be laborers at their new plantation.

Day 25
They incinerated our farms and made us watch. Construction begins tomorrow.

Day 40
Construction of their plantation is nearly complete. This place resembles no farm or plantation that I’ve ever seen.

Day 45
We’ve started laboring in the sludge fields. They grow poisonous mushrooms in fetid water and muck.

Day 50
I hear screams coming from the Warden’s manor. People are starting to disappear.

Day 52
I overheard that some guards talking about the farmers, Ray, Getz and Kalaba. Something terrible has happened to them – of this I am certain.

Day 60
Those of us that remain are scared for our lives. Some of the farmers claim to have seen ghouls running amok at night.

I wrote my article on what I thought were the 10 most creepy things in WoW before Cataclysm was released. Had I written it today, I would have put this place at the same level of creepyness as Thaddius or even Karazhan Crypt. If the Crypt didn’t have the Upside Downs Sinners, which admittedly is the main reason the crypt is so nightmarish, this place could easily have topped it.

Speaking of Upside Down Sinners, the Sludge Fields did in fact have one more sample for the horror hungering: hanging corpses of the same model as the ones in Karazhan Crypt.

Poor Joy, she didn’t enJoy this place although it had moments of sillyness too. What she did like was the opportunity to “do the right thing”.

The quest is given by a shovel – the shovel of mercy. Notice how save is wrapped in inverted commas … fishy. It turns out this quest can be solved in two different ways.

Use the shovel to smash in the human seedling’s heads.
OR
[Right Click] the human seedlings to free them from the dirt.
Do the right thing.

Aha! Interresting. How often do you as a Horde figure get to act on your own accord and not as a tool of the Horde war machine? (this goes for Alliance too) When I made Joy I imagined she was barely loyal to the Horde, rather she’d go her own way, but of course this is not something I often got the chance to see relfected in her questing, except now.

I didn’t know about this choice when I completed the quest, but I’m happy that Joy at the time saved the human seedlings instead of “saving” them and so Joy did do the right thing, at least what was right for her.

I want to be a part of the WoW Ironman Challenge too!

This is what I found when I googled "Ironman Challenge". Look at that proud man standing at the foot of this monstrosity of a bouncy castle.

Joy was created before I read about The WoW Ironman Challenge. She was heavily inspired by Thriftee, but I never made a guideline for myself on how I wanted to level her. I’m pretty close to the Ironman Challenge rule set, primarily on the points of exclusively using crappy gear, not using xp enhancers and avoid grouping/LFD.

Joy’s only role was to be a fun character to play – whatever it took. She’s currently lvl 32 and I felt she was leveling too quickly, so I’ve paused her xp gain for a while. I was originally considering going for the Loremaster achievement, completing the zones while at the right level bracket, but now I have a new plan!

I want to be a part of the WoW Ironman Challenge too!

I don’t feel like I can revert Joy to fit the rules, she already broke them and starting her over is not a very appealing choice either. I’ve therefore decided to make a new character who will follow the rules strictly, a character who is less of a hippie than Joy is, in fact yuppie is probably a better description of him. When I say “him”, it’s because playing a male character is also part of the challenge for me. For unknown reasons, I’m less likely to gender-bend my characters (in any game), probably because I tend to identify quite heavily. As a personal test, I will see how I feel about playing a dude.

This will also meet my need to level slower as I can level two characters at once and more importantly, I get to cover more quest zones and both factions. It means I can now safely take Joy’s xp block away and won’t have to worry about her blasting through content, I have a second character to cover what I want to see now.

I’m not a fast leveler, never have been, so I’m not playing along as a race, this also means my updates on Joy and dude will not tick in like daily news, especially because I will be dividing my time between the two.

I have some future updates on Joy waiting, including laying out her rule set. I will also be introducing the dude soon, the at-the-moment-anonymous character I will be playing the real Ironman way.

The Overlooked Heroes of WoW – Unconventional Ways to Level

Wow has reached an age where a lot of players have tried almost everything, we have plenty of alts of all classes, we know the ins and outs of leveling and generally have extrapolated enough knowledge about the game to get around smoothly.

But the WoW-era we’re in currently has also made leveling not just more linear, but also more efficient – in my opinion too efficient. Killing mobs, completing quests, even picking a flower, will award you xp in generous amounts. Don’t be surprised if you out-level the zone you’re in, before you’ve even completed the main storyline. That’s why this also is the best time to really try something new, something unconventional, something that will make you rethink how you play the game, re-analyse the challenges that come your way and see WoW from a new angle.

My own little challenge, Joy the Nerfed Hunter is an attempt of just that – self-nerfing to the extent it’s harder to level, that I can’t always take the easy choices and most of all, I wanted to learn to play a hunter and experience the true strengths of this class. But I am in no way unique, nor is my not-so-clear-cut challenge original.

So here I bring to you, the players that challenge the cookie-cutter-whatever, that think outside the WoW-box, that I find a great inspiration and maybe they can inspire you too. They don’t come across as the obvious WoW hero, they “lack” a long list of raid and arena achievements, they don’t seem to be too bothered about the straight and paved road of leveling, instead they aim for the uncharted and rocky pathway.

I like to think of these players as the overlooked heroes of WoW.

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Naked Troll Project

We’re starting back in vanilla WoW, and the player behind who became Jumba the Naked Troll, was already getting bored and figured he could make the game interesting again by … well, by being naked.

Still wearing his underpants, he is not completely naked... you know.

“As it stands right now the only armor I will wear are gloves and shoes because not even total badasses wander around without shoes on.”

Jumba therefore kept shoes and gloves on, but would go on for the next 59 levels without pants. He made “The Naked Troll Project” to document the leveling and even made a short video that shows the exact moment of dinging 60. It took him 14 days and 10 hours of /played to reach level 60, and when he hit the mark, he wasn’t sure where he wanted to go next, especially as not everyone thinks pantsless hunters are jolly good news.

On Saturday, October 14, 2006 Jumba posts “Operation Tinfoil Armor” discussing the possibilities of getting into a raid while still obeying his own rule of nakedness. As far as I understood, he managed to get into raids wearing either lvl 60 broken armor or low level white armor with no stats, that gave the impression that he was wearing something useful.

The trend spread and more people began leveling naked alts of all classes, fx Gutrot the warrior who put down his weapons and leveled without anything, except, opposite Jumba, covering up his behind with a loincloth.
Later during The Burning Crusade we began seeing new ways of pulling off similar feats as the naked trolls, fx Noor the Pacifist who’s up next.

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Noor the Pacifist

Noor back in 2008

Being a pacifist for Noor means that she refuses to kill mobs and other players, or at least tries her best to avoid it. Her allowance includes undeads, demons and mechanical targets, but killing everyone else is against the deal.

This post is focused on the leveling sides of unconventional gameplay, so Noor’s ways sound absolutely ludicrous given the time of The Burning Crusade expansion. How on earth was this even possible in a world where everyone seems to be at war with everyone?

Well, Noor comes in two versions, the more obvious class for a pacifist play style, an undead priest named Reinisch, which opened up for an even harder option, the gnome rogue Noor.

“As a rogue is a sort of “spy” class, I Googled for a pacifist spy and found Noor Inayat Khan, a woman who was also executed by the Nazis for aiding the French resistance, so I named my rogue after her. She was the daughter of a well-known pacifist in India.”

Noor lvl 80 anno 2011

By using cunning engineering devices, such as target dummies, she was able to complete some quests that would otherwise force her into battle, despite her fate as a rogue making this a bit of a contradiction.

She quickly found herself stuck around the lower twenties and had to think of new ways to get xp other than exploration and non- aggressive quests, which quickly became a depleted source. Daily battlground quests were the answer, and while Reinisch the undead priest could easily heal his way through this, Noor the gnome rogue had to find another solution.

“In battlegrounds, my rogue will throw bombs to interrupt flag captures and stun people and may even accidentally kill players low in health or nearby critters”

Noor has showed us the limits of this type of leveling, as you will still get honorable kills even when you don’t use real weapons but whack others with a fishing pole, which at the time didn’t give you any weapon skill. Noor’s proof was in the lack of skill in weaponry, which today doesn’t exist any longer. As we shall see later, there are new ways of being a pacifist and being able to prove it.

Noor still runs a blog called “Pacifist Undead Priest/Gnome Rogue/NightElf Druid/Tauren Shaman“, where she keeps track of all her pacifist extentions. She has given several interviews to WoW Insider’s 15 minutes of fame theme: The first one on her pacifist playstyle, and another one on her journey to 70, including information on which other methods she used, such as fishing and profession based quests – a glimpse into a very deliberate and considerate approach to leveling.

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Gweryc Halfhand, the Melee Hunter

It sounds like the worst stereotype of a bad player, but it isn’t. Especially not when you consider that this challenge was carried out during the Burning Crusade and that Gweryc did reach level 70 in the end, without ever using a ranged weapon.

He has also off-tanked Karazhan, joined a raid in Black Temple killing the first three bosses (this time as dps) and done battlegrounds, still without using a ranged weapon. Like Jumba, he pushed his nerfed character as far as he could go, putting the concept of the melee hunter to the test.

Gweryc  exemplifies not just that it can be done, but also how it can be done and provides on his blog “Out of Range” a lot of numbers and calculations around Gweryc’s gear, stats, everything you would want to know about this niche of hunter playstyle. It’s a funny hypothetical scenario to think of, and most of us would never dream of actually carrying it out, yet Gweryc pushed this from the fantasy into the reality and it’s a noteworthy experiment indeed.

Gweryc also did an interview with WoW Insider, and he, like Noor, was met with the harsh surface of that audience (something I will discuss further at the end of this article).

Someone went as far as to create an alt on his server just to send him this in-game mail:

Gweryc’s attitude to this really amuses me, as he writes in the accompanying post:

“While it’s largely blather in the vein of a frightened goose honking at something it doesn’t understand, I concede that there’s a valid challenge to my logic in there. Was Mongoose the wrong way to go for an enchant on my Felsteel Reaper?”

And then he goes on with great enthusiasm to discuss choices and options with regards to gear and enchants. Even though Gweryc was self-nerfed, he still had a penchant for theorycrafting around the obvious obstacle of fighting as melee.

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Everbloom the Gatherer

I gave her the postfix “The Gatherer” and with the way Everbloom leveled, she surely deserves that title.

Now that you can get experience from gathering materials, Everbloom the resto druid did just that and continued until she hit level 85. This of course includes exploration as an xp source as well, and if done flawlessly will grant you a statistics page with 0 quests completed and if you’re also a pacifist, 0 killed mobs. Everbloom died 25 times in the process, but if you’re stellar and have a good connection, you could make that a 0 as well. Someone is in fact working on that feat right now! – Maedra is up next.

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Maedra’s Challenge 

Maedra was lvl 47 when this picture was snapped from the armory.

I was alerted in the comments about a player who did in fact play under the rule of permadeath (permanent death). It simply means that when your character dies, no matter how, then you are not allowed to resurrect and can not resume playing him or her.

It takes nerves of steel to carry this out, and Maedra the gnome warlock, must have plenty, as she is on her fourth incarnation – that’s four times she died, had to reroll and start over again.

“I’ve always been a fan of hardcore mode games, where death is final. It adds an extra edge to a game that is hard to replicate in any other way. I played a lot of Diablo 2, and once I found Hardcore mode, I couldn’t play anything else. Similarly, in Torchlight, I was straight into Hardcore mode. It isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, for sure, but I love it.”

Players usually carry out this exercise as it introduces an element of realism, the immediate effect on the gameplay, is a step-up in intensity. You are more likely to think about your choices in the game, as you literally cannot afford to take many chances. Combat, of course, carries the immediate threat of critical loss, which only increases as you reach even higher levels.

As I am writing this, Maedra is level 47 by which time I would have died a few times already. I checked her armory, and yes, 0 deaths it says. How far will she go? You can follow her progress here.

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The Thriftee Challenge

Thriftee is also a more recent leveling experiement, rooted in the linearity and flight heavy land of Cataclysm.

“Thriftee was always an all or nothing guy, and now finds that he cannot bear to part with a single copper – for anything!”

Thriftee and his pet Bear

Thriftee is a dwarf hunter, whose only rule was to not spend any money, this included not accepting gifts from others.

A simple rule with huge consequences, as this meant Thriftee couldn’t train new skills and had to make the best out of the gear he earned as quest rewards. So the trainer was off limits, the auction house included, but also things we normally take for granted, such as riding skill, taking flightpaths or even getting repairs. What Thriftee did utilise, was the talents as they are free and so Thriftee became a beastmaster hunter, despite the irony of having a limited control over his pet Bear.

Thriftee has since dinged 85, documented his entire journey, made a video and was featured on WoW Insider. Not bad for an independent and slightly greedy old dwarf.

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The WoW Ironman Challenge

And now we come to the last bit, a challenge that has similarities with the previous stories, but is still unique. It was concieved recently between several people, where the bloggers Vrykerion and Psynister have both posted about the concept in detail. This one is still in the making and inspired me to dig all of these stories out which dates back to vanilla.

The challenge is to level a character while wearing white or grey items, no enhancers (enchants, glyphs, heirlooms etc), no professions (except first aid), no talents, only training your skills is allowed.

The Ironman Challenge is yet to unfold and a new Cataclysm chapter of the overlooked WoW heroes is about to play out. You can do it too, Vrykerion and Psynister invites everyone, who wants to try out this kind of gameplay, to join them.

Being Unconventional can have Backlashes

As I mentioned earlier, some people don’t see neither the point nor the entertainment in these adventures. All of the players I’ve featured above (I’m not sure about Everbloom though) have been verbally attacked, called stupid and clueless. Gweryc’s in-game mail is a pretty good example and he, problably due to his raid and battleground activity and flirt with a notorious stereotype, had a lot of anger directed towards him, so much that WoW Insider featured him again, but this time in what they called “The Non-Conformity Backlash.

The article is an interview with Gweryc, where he goes indepth with design issues, player motivations and the animosity towards himself and Noor:

“I think the really violent reactions come from highly competitive players who can’t reconcile themselves to the idea that I am, in essence, playing a different game than they are. They mistake my own meta-game of optimizing Hunter melee for fun as a serious effort at excelling as a melee Hunter on their own ambitious turf.”

Maedra states the same philosophy behind her challenge:

“I’m not doing this for the prestige (if such a thing exists for playing a game in an unintended way) but rather for the enjoyment.”

Thriftee (the player who’s also behind Döra the lvl 1 explorer) has also had some belittlement thrown her way, and reading about Gweryc helped her understand the opposition as she wrote her reflections on the topic in a post she called “Odd Bods“.

I have not received any hatred yet with my own nerfed hunter project, but I am expecting it to happen one day, especially as I have just put on a low level pair of intellect pants (for the looks, not the stats!) But to others my gear must look utterly ridiculous, so I consider this a matter of time.

If you plan on participating in the Ironman Challenge, just remember that not everyone “gets it” and some players will tell you that you’re the one not getting it. Do remember that playing unconventionally and nerfed are completely valid playstyles.

If you’re having fun leveling, however you do it, you’re doing it right!

Updates!

The Ironman Challenge has since been completed by the blogger Tome of the Ancient, who documented her entire arduous journey. Here’s her post about finally hitting lvl 85 with her Ironman warlock named Ironsally.

I also made my own Ironman character and embarked upon a sporadically updated story about the mage Elford the (former) Executive. You can read his latest update here.

And I thought I was being Pranked!

Yesterday I received a suspicious whisper on my hunter named Joy:

“Joy!”

“The Tribe has found you at last”

I didn’t know this person, so the first thing that popped into my mind was that someone was pranking me. It didn’t make it less suspicious that the name of this person’s guild was “Joy Tribe” and they were only two levels above me. That was a lot of coincidences, so many that I couldn’t make sense of it. Who were these people and why were they setting all this up, or was all of this just a really obscure chance of events?

I was then invited to a group with a few of them and asked where I had been and that the Tribe had been missing me. Still being utterly confused with my mind racing trying to figure it out, I started to wonder if it was someone who had read my blog who was now teasing me, or one of my study mates.

This person (I’m calling them V here*), who was being really nice, proceeded to ask me if I wanted “to return home“.

And I accepted… I don’t know why, I guess I was just too damn curious, so I went with the flow of the situation, this despite my plans for Joy isn’t raiding nor anything big, but rather relaxation and random unobligated playtime.

But now I was a member of Joy Tribe and was even promised a special rank, as I was “the essense of the guild“. It felt like being caught around a flash mob, your ability to read the situation is challenged for a while, as you slowly start to realize that everything was a set-up, actors in a real time Truman Show.

So was this a set-up?

When I joined the guild, V enthusiastically told me about the other members and we joked around a little. He then stated that this was just a small social guild with a “predilection for exploring dungeons in a joyful manner” and that they were very selective with picking their members. He had himself tried to make a character named Joy, only to find out it was unavailable (cause lucky me took it!). He didn’t say it, but I assume this made him curious to whom Joy was, put the name on his friendslist and then whispered me when I came online.

Here's my first meeting with the guild master "F".

I’m both thrilled and in doubt. See, Joy was meant to be a solo character, a character for me alone, where I can just log on and off without any consideration, no hi’s and bye’s – just me, Joy and Azeroth. I’m not shy of guilds and do in fact enjoy membership, but guilds don’t have a “show as offline” button or any way to seamlessly be invisible without a neon DND (“do not disturb”). Sometimes it’s nice to play WoW not as a social game, but as a solo game.

My old main, a night elf shadowpriest, was initially conceived as a secret character. I played low-level Warsong Gulch with her without any of my online friends knowing, later I brought her out into the open. Secret characters don’t have to be secret forever. Joy is not secret per se, but it does put me in a dilemma.

What’s worse is that the dilemma is double edged. With so few members in this guild, it’s likely that I can easily continue my solo adventure without too much guild chat attention, and maybe this is the kind of guild I should stay in, just because they seem like really nice people, basically the kind of guild you’d never find your way to, unless they approached you. BUT! I have consciously avoided all types of level enhancers, all heirlooms. This guild is still level 1, but the level 2 perk is “Fast Track”, that’s 5% extra xp, a boost I very much want to avoid.

So on one hand the solo issue might solve itself. When the guild hits level 2, I could leave it. On the other hand, is this an adventure I should explore more, see what fun opportunities come out it? It was a curious and entertaining beginning, the kind of beginning that predicts well for the future perhaps?



* As I don’t have a permission from them to use what is actually a private conversation, including guild chat, which is also a sort of closed venue, I’m blanking names out. Even though the content is not harmful in any way, I’m doing it out of principle.

Self-Nerfing for the Sake of Joy

What do you do when the challenge is gone and everything is too easy?

That’s how leveling feels right now, and even though I’m playing a hunter, a class that I’ve struggled with in the past, killing mobs can be done by pressing a few buttons – random buttons that is. I hadn’t been playing my hunter Joy for a while, and now when I turned back to her, she couldn’t live up to her name.

It wasn’t because of the hunter class, in fact she could have been any class as it is right now, things drop by the evil glance of my kitty. Joy’s pet Froy can easily solo anything, actually I think Froy would be able to carry Joy, given she was lazy enough and didn’t want any loot.

I also accumulate experience too fast. I’ve purchased one heirloom, the dagger “Balanced Heartseeker”, but nothing increases my xp gain, as I didn’t want to be level 85 in a week. I want to finish off a zone before going to the next one, I want the whole story of the place and I want to see all the quest-lines. I have just been in in Azshara and I outleveled and outgeared the zone completely when I left. Where’s my challenge?

Yesterday I aquired my first chestpiece of rare quality (blue) “YEE….eesss…. meh”. Under normal circumstances I would have been thrilled, equipped the gear and headed out to enjoy the increase in dps and survivability. Times are different now, random buttons kill mobs, I’m overpowered in my quest-greens and this way I will never learn how to play a hunter.

What do I do?

Then I thought about Thriftee, the brave and self-reliant hunter, who never spent a dime while leveling, who never bought skills, nor gear, and never took a flightpath.  Thriftee had himself and Bear to count on and he would have to make it work as well as he could (and he did). So I thought “here’s my answer, I need to nerf myself!”, so I spent some time finding some suitably crappy, but neat gear that would lower my stats and keep me on my toes. It won’t be a challenge similar to Thriftee’s, I’m allowing myself full freedom to twink her in the future, if that’s what I want. Joy’s challenge is simply for me to have a good time, that’s all.

So the rule is, I can upgrade my neck, trinkets and rings. I’m sticking with my heirloom dagger, and I am allowed to upgrade the offhand as well. The rest has to stay the same. I chose the Tattered set, which is common quality (white) cloth clothing with no stats and around 9-21 armor – OH YEAH!

Joy's nerf gear - bad but good looking. Am I being admired from the back there?

I’m wearing:

Chest: Tattered Cloth Vest
Shirt:  White Linen Shirt
Wrists: Tattered Cloth Bracers
Hands: Tattered Cloth Gloves
Waist: Mortar-Slinger Belt (low-level quest reward, I liked the look of it)
Legs: Simple Linen Pants
Feet: Tattered Cloth Boots

A Hunting Bow for a hunter... that'll do!

The bow I’ve stuck with so far, is the “Hunting Bow”. It’s pretty crappy, and depending on how hard it will be later on, I will replace it. However, right now it’s not an issue.

I’m unsure about my cloak, I’m still waiting for a good looking one to come along, one that will match my set, so right now I’m just wearing a low-level quest reward.

OMG I HAVE AN ITEM NAMED AFTER ME!

I also have this cloak, and even though it has a much suitable name, I’m not happy with it’s blue and gritty looks, it’s ugly! What a shame.

I’m not sure about the headpiece either. I’m unlikely to have it displayed, so I’ll probably upgrade that itemslot too.

For the sake of Joy

Some would probably shake their heads in disbelief – “what is she doing?”. I’m still waiting for someone to whisper me that my vendor bought cloth set, is not a very good choice, or perhaps I will just become a notorious huntard on my server without ever knowing.

The thing is, there are different ways of playing the game: some play it to win, to figure out how to be the most efficient and then execute it perfectly, to be top-notch. Others play it with a more process-oriented mindset, it’s not about the result, it’s about the journey. Sometimes we switch between them depending on what plans we have for our character. I don’t really care about gaining levels on this character, it’s the travel, the experiences along the way. Joy is all about the joy, not the speed nor efficiency, I would have named her that then!