As I continue leveling my Hunter on Azuremyst, it’s certainly giving me a perspective on the game I haven’t had before, or at least in a very long time.

My Hunter dinged level 60 last weekend, and with only a little messing with the Auction House, I had 1007 gold at the moment that little Achievement spam lit up.

That seemed pretty amazing to me, because I had that gold even after paying to learn all the recipes for Jewelcrafting and Mining up to the max levels you could reach before hitting 65.

More than that, though, was running and gunning through old Azeroth without a sugar daddy, or Heirlooms, or any other support except the emotional support I had from my new guildies.

That… and also the benefits of being in a high level guild.

I’ll touch on that again in a bit, but for now I wanted to say that once I hit Outlands, everything changed.

I do not like leveling in Outlands. Northrend will be bearable, but even so, too many alts too recently. Just, do not want.

I’ve reached the point where I have a system that has worked like clockwork to minimize my time in zones I hate.

I do 100% of Hellfire, which is usually good enough to reach level 63. I go to Zangarmarsh, and go directly to Orebor Harbor, where I do every quest that gives Kurenai rep. That should get me to Friendly, and once Friendly and 64 you can get a quest introducing you to the Kurenai in Nagrand. If I’m not quite 64 yet, I’ll go putz around in Terokkar Forest just long enough to ding, and then it’s back to get the Intro to Nagrand quest, and off to Nagrand.

From there, I milk Nagrand for all it’s worth. It’s the only zone in all of Outlands that I still like. In fact, I’ll find myself just hanging out there, tooling around and seeing the wonderful lush scenery.

Blizzard I think could benefit by taking a poll of players concerning our favorite zones… based not just on quest flow or story, but also on mood. On appearance. I’m sure I do NOT represent all or even most WoW players, but I much prefer playing in zones that feel comfortable and healthy. Zones that have a warm and inviting lighting scheme and a feeling of welcome.

Nagrand fits that bill, as does Un’goro Crater and Northern Stranglethorn. Even Duskwood, to a certain extent, is nice once in a while for that dark emo vibe. The wastelands and deserts and plague-ridden marshes, not so much. Again, that’s just me. I’m curious what the results of a poll like that would be.

Anyway, I hit Nagrand and take my time through it, and then it’s time for the tough choices. I’ve done Blades Edge, Netherstorm and Shadowmoon Valley too damn many times. No matter where I go, it’s gonna be a drag.

I think this time I might go to Shadowmoon as soon as I can, and see if I can grind a Drake. I haven’t done that on anyone except my Druid Main during the early days of BC. I haven’t walloped a peon with a Booterang in a long, long time.

Too long.

Getting back to my point, when I hit 60, everything changed.

I didn’t want to grind through Outlands or Northrend. So, I server transferred my 85 warrior over to Azuremyst. Along with him came… yeah, my Hunter Heirlooms. The shoulders, vest, bow, two daggers with Agi enchants, the works. That’s certainly sped things up.

I’m now level 65, and I’m in trouble, because Nagrand is starting to feel tiresome. If I lose my enthusiasm for Nagrand, that doesn’t bode well for any more alts in my future, yo.

Here’s the biggest strange change I’ve had in my playstyle, though.

The guild I’m in on Azuremyst, Band of Misfits, is a very large guild.

Like, large. They’ve got three 10-person raid teams on three different schedules. Some are more aggressive on the calendar than others, but all of them are very successful. The guild is a hair’s breadth away from dinging the last boss kill they need to get the Cata Raiding mount.

They’re also guild level 21. They might even be 22 by now, I was pretty sick last night.

I… I feel strange being in such a high level guild.

On the one hand, the rewards, even if you’re only Neutral on a level 1, are very helpful to you.

If you’re dead, your spirit moves it’s ass. That’s very nice. You’re hearth has a 15 minute cooldown. That’s pretty sweet. You get a bonus 10% XP gain, which I might have liked to have been able to turn off in the old Azeroth world, but that I’m loving now.

Even more… you get +10% to Reputation gains.

Therin probably lies the secret behind my relatively painless Exalted with both Stormwind and Darnassus.

Potentially cooler, if I get in a party somewhere with another guildie, we could summon each other to where we are. I haven’t tested it, maybe there are level limits preventing a guildie in Northrend from joining group with me and summoning my level 65 butt there, but hey… that’s still pretty cool. It’s not just for raiding.

So, lots of nice rewards just for being in the guild and leveling, right?

The thing is, I haven’t done anything to deserve any of these benefits. I still haven’t played with anyone in the guild, I’ve been leveling solo. Sure, someday I will, but not yet. And if I were to leave the guild before I reach 85 and run with them, I’ll have gotten something for nothing.

On the surface, it seems like a strange system.

It does make sense, of course. The benefits help a low level character level up faster, gain rep for rewards needed for raiding faster, and move where needed quicker so as to get in the groove with the other, long established guild members.

The neat stuff that doesn’t actually work to get you into the upper levels faster or help in raids like a quick run speed while dead, things like pets and mounts, require rep with the guild.

What it leaves me wondering, though, are two things.

First, if it’s divided amongst what gets you to the raiding level, and what is a fine but essentially useless perk, then why do the guild-only Heirlooms require guild rep? By the time my Hunter will be able to buy them, she won’t need them. Maybe they’re specifically for your alts in the guild, and alts only. But then why the built-in 10% XP bonus available without guild rep? It’s just wierd. But that’s cool, I can’t afford them anyway, I gotta save for fast flight.

The second thing is, it really does feel as if it’s been solidly thought out for raiding guilds to advance… but for leveling guilds, and friend and family guilds, I can’t really see why the system chokes the guild rep gain so badly based on level. 

I know intellectually that Blizzard has had comments published before, stating that the point is to be part of a large community. To be in big guilds, to take part in what makes the game “Massive”.

I get that.

I also know that there are plenty of folks that don’t WANT that.

What WoW has excelled at, for me, is being a cooperative game.

Sure, I’ve felt a huge thrill at big raids, at the Massive element. I still remember with fondness 40 person raids on Onyxia and Molten Core. Raids so big, in such an early age of the game, that it was nearly impossible to tell who was doing what, or in some cases… who to blame for that massive screw up that wiped the raid.

Moar dots? Whelps? Many whelps? DEAL WITH IT!

But to counterbalance that feeling is the more frequent pleasure of having a game world that you can play in cooperatively, just you and a few friends, or with the significant other in your life.

When you think of WoW, is your mental picture of the game about something that you play with huge gobs of people, is it a solo experience in a huge world, or is it a cooperative game?

For me, when I think of it, the draw has never been to play with gobs of people (gob = new word of the day. It pays to enrich your goofy word power.) It’s been to have a deep, rich, engaging game world to explore cooperatively with my friends and significant other.

Some programs Blizzard has implemented has seemed to reflect an understanding of that. Recruit-a-friend, for example. Come to glorious Azeroth, and bring a friend to play with you!

As much as I like the guild leveling concept, and the rewards are neat, and all that… it makes me sad to feel that the people who play the game in a purely cooperative way with a limited number of friends, friends who may have limited playtime, will never get the chance to experience those rewards.

Guild Levels have been out for a while. I imagine most folks have already made their decision. They’ve chosen to either stay with their small guild and accept no rewards because they don’t raid or play enough, or split and join a larger guild.

I don’t feel that I’ve made that decision, myself. I’ve still got my main characters in our small guild, just Cassie and I. These are new characters in a new land, and I’m doing what Blizzard seemed to want; meeting new people, developing new friendships. All that good stuff.

I’ve never been opposed to meeting new people, making new friends, or being part of a large group. It’s been a lot of fun. Blackbear the Warrior (no, really, I’m serious), Matheo, Hedwig and Crosshair all seem like really nice folks, and I’ve been getting to know some others as well.

I just think it’s unfortunate that when making your decision, it comes down to saying, “You don’t HAVE to join a big guild… but then again, we don’t HAVE to give smaller guilds any benefits, either.”

If this seems particularly unreadable… I am sicker than hell at the moment. It feels like my head is going to explode. And I’m holding crisis at work together as I write this in spurts, so I can’t just leave. I apologize for the blargh.
23 Responses to “Playing with the Big Leagues”
  1. adgamoirx says:

    I look at the guild bonuses as perks – not rewards. I suppose if I had to deal with a big guild I might look at it as a reward though – who knows. A reward for sticking it out with a bunch of people I don’t know, don’t want to know, and don’t care about. We do fine with the perks we have and nobody around mucking things up.

  2. Thing says:

    I recently finished the grind from 1-85 on my little goblin rogue-lette. I did both the worgen and goblin starting zones and found that I just flat out enjoyed the writing and questing horde side.

    I completely agree that it was extremely fun doing the 1-58 grind in zones. I also had issues leveling out of zones barely half way in and wishing I had the gumption to finish out he story. Stonetalon Mountains horde side was an absolute joy and I forced myself to finish most of it. Even low level instance queues were speedy (under 15 minutes and often less than 5 as a dps). Quest givers were standing right there at the entrance or showed up at the end of boss fights for you to grab the chunk of XP. The little crap-shoot of a blue every run in the bag of awesomeness really was fun and normally very rewarding. I stated to 58 because in came the influx of DKs still wet behind the ears and mashing every button whether they were tanking or not.

    However, once I got to outlands, I felt the air just leak out of my sails. I soldiered on hoping to see some gem of storyline I had never encountered being that I had only low level horde. It wasn’t long until I was mashing my accept button without reading in the hopes of getting out of there. The joy didn’t return until I got into Northrend and stayed almost as strong up til the Wrathgate where it bogged back down into rubber stamped sameness(I’m still bummed I will never get to do the battle for Stormwind at the end of wrathgate). The only reason I finished to 85 is that it seemed a shame to leave her at 78.

  3. Xew says:

    I’m in a moderately large guild on my main – we’ve been doing 10 mans twice a week with 7 steady people and 6 others that can attend one night or the other. We hit 21 last week, about halfway to 22 now. I’ve gathered all the perks from it and have been leveling my 4 alts (clothies and a rogue) quite quickly because of it.

    This weekend, I started a DK on a new server, joining some friends, but not their guild. I don’t have heirlooms or cash – just my DK, a mining pick and a skinning knife. And I’m having the time of my life. I’m tanking dungeons for xp, I’m farming ore and skins for cash – After 3 days, I’m halfway to buying my DK undead griffon (so excited). On the rare occasion I’m in Orgrimmar, I listen to Trade for guild recruitment – I’m half tempted to join a huge guild and get all the perks… but only half.

    I don’t know how long my fascination with this DK will last – and once I get my mount, I don’t know if I’ll find other personal quest to keep me interested; plus there’s all that Main character obligation… but yeah, I totally get what you’re saying. The people I followed over, their guild is level 2, and they have little interest in leveling it other than at it’s organic rate as they do quests (highest guild member is 78). I’m sure some, or perhaps even most, would like the perks for a non-raiding guild… they’re just playing the hand they were dealt with.

  4. Fleabag says:

    I like to be in Thelsamare also … nice hills, lakes, and small critters to kill. I am in a small guild and won’t leave. I stink at PVP but i play in a pvp realm. Those are the choices and breaks we make. Thank you as always for the blog, and get well soon.

  5. Herr Drache says:

    Rep gains, XP gains, Pets, Mounts, Heirlooms – they’re all pretty neat. I’m still looking forward to leveling through the low levels with my wife on our (quite dusty) alts with as few XP enhancers as possible, just to be able to actually LOOK at all the new stuff there is.
    On the other hand, my “main” (in a lvl20+ guild) did buy two heirloom pieces for my lvl 82 alt – who’s in another near-empty low-level guild. Seems that the pieces transfer to alts outside of the guild quite nicely, but I have not verified their +10% XP bonus. I’m just happy to have 2 pieces with nicely high stats, XP or not.
    I should probably get 2 caster pieces for the lock, too, trying to avoid as much of Outlands as I can.

  6. Elladrion says:

    Blizzard has stated over and over again leading up to cataclysm that guild leveling was meant to be balanced around both large and small guilds, so you didn’t feel like you HAD to be in a huge guild. In practice, not so much. My large raiding guild was hitting the experience cap every day, usually by early morning. At first, so was my alt’s casual guild. Then the nerfed XP to 25%. Takes longer, but we were still hitting daily cap. Time goes on, new hotness of the expansion wears off and people stop playing as much, large guild still hits cap but suddenly the casual guild isn’t, in fact it isn’t close to cap after a while. 5 months in, big raiding guild is level 20 and casual guild is only 13. Feels kinda punishing not being able to corpse run faster, just becuase I chose to play with good friends and family instead of complete strangers. Thats’ not a raiding perk, thats a quality of life change once you have it. Working as intended?

    • theanorak says:

      A fair point, but only once you’ve experienced life *with* the perks, and even then I’d say it’s not something you couldn’t adjust to pretty quickly if you moved your mains from a high-level guild to a low-level guild.

      Regularly flipping between playing characters in a highlevel guild, and playing characters in a low level guild: I’m guessing that’s a bit frustrating though.

  7. Tesh says:

    I joined the Raid From the Heart guild last year, and there I stay. It’s as much of a home as I want; a place to play with nice people I don’t really know well at all. I’m not looking for a commitment, I’m not looking to be part of a massive herd, I’m just looking to play with some fun people now and then.

    The reward is the play and the people. *shrug*

    I do think the guild level system and rewards aren’t well thought out, but they don’t bug me, since that’s not why I play the game.

    Oh, and Nagrand is awesome, as is Un’Goro. I’d definitely be interested in a study on zone popularity, with clear demarcation on why zones are chosen; feel, pace, story, look and so on. I’m not sure I have a favorite, not having seen some of Outland and most of Northrend (and all of the 80-85 stuff)… but Darkshore feels good, and I really miss the old Thousand Needles.

  8. FaceTank says:

    It’s funny because I have alot of the same feelings you did. I had started on a new server with no money or heirlooms and no one to lean on. This is my 5th druid on various servers hehe. I was very much enjoying the low level content. Once I hit 60 I was dreading going to Outlands. The only thing that helped me I think was that I was a dual gatherer. The additional xp boost from mining and herbing (especially when doubled from rested bonus) got me close to 65 at the end of hellfire. I then went straight to Nagrand. There is a guy in Telaar that you can get one quest from that has you get the ogre plans (all the other Kurenai are unfriendly). Once I got the plans (or it might have been the quest right after that) it boosted my rep enough so that it opened up all the other quests. I am not if/when they changed that since I seem to recall always doing the Zangarmarsh quests first but that means you shouldn’t need to go to Zangarmarsh anymore. Luckily I ended up being about level 69 when I finished Nagrand but I went to Netherstorm anyway because the herbs and ore sold for really decent gold on my new server. Besides which I couldn’t stand the thought of going back to Northrend (I have over 20 alts at 75+). At some point I hope that they allow you to start a new alt higher than level 55

    Hope you feel better soon BBB!

    • Tesh says:

      I went through Hellfire Peninsula last month, and yeah, I never actually needed to quest in Zangarmarsh. I totally bypassed it by completing almost all of the HP quests… but that was Horde-side. Still, the Mag’har orcs seem to function the same way as the Kurenai, and they liked me well enough after HP to let me quest in Nagrand without a fuss.

  9. James says:

    hey…sorry to hear that you’re not feeling well. I noticed I hadn’t talked with you for a few days and was hoping things are going well. Also, I dislike outlands as well. My hunter is still stuck there. My priest and mage will eventually get stuck there. My pally only made it through because I only tanked.

  10. Rush says:

    I was in a medium-sized guild when Cataclysm dropped. We rolled through the guild perks up to level 17, then raid drama cause the whole thing to implode. There are now fewer than ten active members and our leveling has come to a complete halt. It’s so discouraging to see those rewards that are no so far out of reach.

    Also as an altholic I wonder at the way that almost all the guild rep is focused at the high level. My main was friendly with the guild long before completing the 80-85 journey, but my new alts? Barely halfway through Neutral at lvl 60?

    • bigbearbutt says:

      that’s exactly what I’m talking about, that disparity. I’m only halfway through neutral at 65, and i’ve been in the guild since level 1? Really?

      • Tesh says:

        Indeed, and it seems that the only guilds that really benefit from this are the big raiding guilds. That sort of undermines the whole “we want you in guilds” presentation. Or at least, it’s just another silly bit of design weighted toward the endgame, which again runs contrary to the “Cataclysm makes the old world relevant again” spiel. I tell ya, the WoW Live Team is schizophrenic.

  11. Ngita says:

    I noticed they nerfed the profession achievements to more realistic levels in 4.1, I imagine guild xp will be played with in time to make sure everybody can see some progress. At the moment if you can run 1 5 man guild heroic a day you will at least creep along. As for guild perks, just wait for bountiful bags, its nice. As for once you reach 25. As a hunter alt, hwipe incoming, feign death, afk while everybody runs back.. Now its wipe incoming, feign death. MASS RES. omg:)

  12. theanorak says:

    That bit about the zones you avoid in Outland made me think how much I *need* the zones and dungeons I don’t like: to remind me how good the things I *do* like are.

    If you don’t drink the milk, you might forget how rich and delicious the cream is. ;)

  13. WoWMidas says:

    Ironforge. Ironforge in the days when we all hung out in the plaza between the bank and the AH. The center of my universe.

    Going back there, long after the world’s pulse had left Shattrath and moved onto Dalaran, the memories were haunting. The place seemed so empty. Echoey. The pounding music was still there, but no players. Just quiet NPCs, subdued, with far fewer people to sample their wares. I miss the place, and am more attached to it, than many places I’ve spent time in IRL – this side of the screen.

    I remember toons climbing up in the AH rafters. I remember when that giant demon ran through Ironforge over and over and left hundreds of people dead – there were bones everywhere (I still have pictures!). But most of all, I remember guildmates, friends who are long gone.

    I remember times when we’d light a fire right there, sit in a circle, and tell each other stories.

    Thanks for the post.

  14. Bloodshrike says:

    “First, if it’s divided amongst what gets you to the raiding level, and what is a fine but essentially useless perk, then why do the guild-only Heirlooms require guild rep? By the time my Hunter will be able to buy them, she won’t need them. Maybe they’re specifically for your alts in the guild, and alts only.”

    From what I understand, you have your high level toon on that server buy them, and send them to your low level alts. They don’t have to be in the same guild.

    “Guild Levels have been out for a while. I imagine most folks have already made their decision. They’ve chosen to either stay with their small guild and accept no rewards because they don’t raid or play enough, or split and join a larger guild.”

    Not necessarily. I have my own guilds on 3 servers, and have a system in place to level the guilds, without raiding. After I leveled my guild on my main server to level 2 by MYSELF, I said “screw it,” and outsourced. Since then I’ve gotten to almost level 7 on Demon Soul, almost level 3 on Daggerspine, and almost level 2 on Darrowmere. I want the guild rewards, but I don’t want to have to raid to get them, at least not until I’m ready.
    http://aboyandhisdeathrays.blogspot.com/2011/03/dirty-little-secret.html

    • Kay says:

      Nor do they go away if you leave the guild. We had a few people join us at the start of Cataclysm, work their way to Revered (contributing quite a lot of XP, flasks, etc along the way, mind you), buy everything available at Revered, then deguild for a larger/more progressed group. Not sure how I feel about this. On the one hand, it’s their gametime and if it can be better spent elsewhere, more power to them. On the other hand, damn, that’s kinda…mercenary.

      • Tesh says:

        That’s inevitable when you inventivize guild membership with loot and perks. It’s no longer about playing together, it’s about using each other. If anything, the whole system is a further strain on the social fabric of the game.

  15. Jey says:

    I generally agree that the perks form the guild leveling are just that but there are some of them that dont seem to make sense. Like the Cauldrons that you get for flasks that you work pretty hard to earn and then you get them and have to get to level 20 before you can even have everyone get one out of a single cauldron.

    Also if you are getting annoyed with the questing in outland and northrend then try going back and doing some of the low level zones as a high level characters. I have been working on Loremaster (only the Hinterlands left yo) and there are some really cool zones. Silverpine Forest if you are horde moves into a battle between the forsaken and the Gilneans, and hillsbrad is really funny. You already mentioned Un’goro, the maximillian(spelling?) quests there are golden. Ive found it really relaxing and a lot of fun to go back to those zones and see all the updates.

  16. vinetail says:

    When you think of WoW, is your mental picture of the game about something that you play with huge gobs of people, is it a solo experience in a huge world, or is it a cooperative game?

    I see it as a mix of the three.

    When I started playing WoW at a friend’s insistence, I joined his guild, which was HUGE. It didn’t just span WoW, but was a collective of a few hundred players who played many games. First-person shooters, real-time strategy, MMORPGs — if it was out there, these folks played it. It’s a meta-guild. To give you an idea of what that’s like, the WoW province of the meta-guild was so large, that there was one WoW guild for Alliance characters on one server, and two WoW guilds for Horde characters on another.

    When a guild gets that massive, it’s inevitable that small groups form. Say you wind up playing with the same 50-75 people for years, because they’re on the same schedule. Of that 75, you’ll get along decently with ¾ of them, and then really well with about ¼. You effectively make your own tiny guild within the larger one, and have the cooperative experience with your friends and family that way. While I started playing so that I’d actually interact with my friend who’d disappeared into Azeroth, I started making friends with my guildmates. Some of those friendships have lasted for six years. But it definitely took months to hit that sweet spot, where I knew enough people and had spent enough time there to break the ice.

    I got the solo experience, when I came back to WoW at the tail end of Wrath, and had to level from 70-80 on my own. That was strange, to only be occasionally joined by someone’s alt. I still talked with everyone in guild chat, and on Vent… but man, catching up 10 levels was damn lonely. Not my bag at all.

    As far as the guild perks… I sure wish that guild rep was tied to your rank in the guild.

    (Btw, sorry to make my first comment so freaking long!)

    • bigbearbutt says:

      NO worries, and great comment. It probably SHOULD be all three, if you’re lucky enough to have that kind of relationship with people to play with.

      I’m almost there now. In a huge freaking guild, but with only a few people I’m getting to know, so circles within circles. And I’m leveling solo. :)

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