Bootstrapping, WoW style.

wow_p2Back on WoW after taking four months off because the game had felt a little stagnant. In that time, they’ve made some QoL changes that have reduced the grind a little and made the central goal (your character has numbers, and those numbers could be bigger) a little easier to work towards.

I had a long bit in here on the details of that, but if you’re already playing WoW then you’re probably familiar with the addition of the “Valor” currency and if you are not playing WoW then you probably do not need several paragraphs on what that is and how good it is.

Moving on.

The last time I posted anything about WoW, I had made the career change from being a healer – the guy whose responsibility it is to keep the green bars full – to being a tank, or the guy whose responsibility it is to make sure that the green bar that is generally being emptied is his.

There are red bars. Those belong to the Other Guys. I don’t worry about red bars much.

I had also spent a far amount of time raving about how I’d been able to gear up via PVP battlegrounds, as opposed to running dungeons and raiding. I stand by my opinion there, by the way. It’s great that you CAN get gear via PVP, and it’s very similar to the system in Final Fantasy XIV where the bulk of your equipment comes from repeating content to earn currency to buy just the specific piece of armor you want, rather than relying on randomness and luck.

On the other hand, much like FFXIV, it means that gearing is boring as all get-out. It turns out that I really ENJOY the dopamine hit that comes with a lucky drop, and with WoW’s transition to Personal Loot, where the loot is handed out by the game as opposed to being distributed via any sort of player-determined system, the dopamine hit doesn’t come with the guilty feeling of depriving someone else of a new toy.

So, since my first tank had geared up via PVP, the action of running dungeons could never come with the glee of a new shiny. And I love dungeons and I love new shinies.

So I started a new tank. By which, I mean that I started a character of exactly the same class and specialization as my existing tank, but on the opposing faction since WoW is holding steadfast to its ridiculous two-faction system and by doing so there was no possibility of feeding my new character items from my existing character.

This tank has gone through a much more reasonable path. I got them to level 60, which is the current cap, and I did the introductory quests in Shadowlands until they had a suit of armor that was enough to get them into the very lowest-level dungeons, and I ran a bunch of dungeons until I had maybe half a set of dungeon gear?

At that point, I hadn’t had great luck on dungeon drops and wanted to move on to Heroic, so I bent my rules a little bit and did some PVP to buy low-level PVP armor for the slots that I had missed. Mostly this was my two “trinket” slots and a shield, because shields are one of the most important items a tank can have and I wasn’t having much luck looting one.

After that, I ran every one of the Heroic dungeons in Shadowlands once, and my luck improved nicely. I didn’t actually replace either of the trinkets OR the shield from Heroics but I got enough pieces for other slots that I was able to supplement with some purchases from the in-game auction house and sneak into LFR, which is WoW’s lowest tier of raids.

I managed to pick up two pieces of gear from LFR. One I looted, one pity piece handed to me by someone who had gotten it as a drop and wasn’t going to use it.

Then I started Mythic Dungeons. These aren’t as easy to get into with lower-end gear, because you can’t simply queue for them. You need to either start your own group or apply to an existing group, and all the group you are applying to sees is your name, your class, and a number that represents how good – or, in this case – how bad your gear is.

I applied for a bunch of groups. I got into a couple. I actually got some loot. My tankiness was slowly improving.

Then I started making groups. I advertised every one with the tag line “Newbie tank. Expect death.”

wow_p4

It was astonishing how quickly they filled up, and how mellow the people who joined them were. For the toxic reputation WoW players get, there are some pretty relaxed people mixed in, and those are the sort of people who will join a group advertised like that just to see what’s going to happen.

wow_p5

After enough of this, I was starting to get almost completely geared from Mythic dungeons, with a couple of pieces from Heroics sticking around just to be annoying, and I had done it without relying on the PVP grind to get there.

wow_p3

At this point, I felt like I had proved my point to myself sufficiently, so I went and logged back on to my original tank, with the intention of moving them over to the other faction and retiring my experimental tank as redundant.

…but, it turns out that I really can’t give up how GOOD my original character looks as an Alliance space goat, and faction-changing them would mean changing their race. So, it looks like I am going to have an Alliance tank and a Horde tank and I just get to decide which I am going to play based on my mood of a day.

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