Haves and Have-Nots

The first vestiges of Gearscore

I remember my very first instance with my very first character. It was my night elf priest, and it was a big deal! Voss and I had been leveling and leveled along with a druid for awhile. He said, “I’ve been thinking of getting some people together to go to Blackfathom Deeps.”

Long before the days of LFD, I had only read of this mythical place, Blackfathom Deeps. (Confession time: When we bought WoW, we also bought the printed WoW Guide. And the DUNGEON COMPANION. Because I wanted to prepare myself for the dungeons!)

We told him cautiously that it sounded like fun. I started gathering quests to go, but this guy disappeared for a few days, we ended up organizing our own run. Voss and I were both nervous. We didn’t really have much clue what we were doing. We were terrible newbies, but we successfully conquered BFD with our group of adventurers. One thing that I remember very vividly was a remark someone else in the group made at the beginning.

“Lol, you need to get better gear,” he said to me.

As it happens, I don’t remember what my gear was but I’m pretty sure he was right. I shamed him thoroughly though, by replying, “This is my first character.” I knew about the auction house, but I didn’t have much of value to sell. I didn’t have a “big brother” character to send my newbie gold, bags, or items. Most greens my level on the auction house were selling for way beyond my means, and all the herbs I picked went towards leveling my alchemy.

Still, that was a long time ago. Now when I level an alt, they level in style. They start out with bags quickly filled with animal parts and herbs, sometimes appropriate-leveled greens and definitely heirlooms, where applicable. I own pretty much every armour type of heirloom there is. It’s no secret that I like alts. But what happens when you start a character on a different server? It can feel like starting all over again from the beginning.

"I have just one question. What's in the crate?"

Depending on the kindness of strangers

I’m actually pretty fortunate in the fact that my latest alt obsession does have some heirlooms. When I faction-transferred my shaman, I sent her Hordeside on another server loaded down with cloth, herbs, and anything else I thought my Horde alts could make use of – including some heirlooms I bought with Stonekeeper’s shards and what spare emblems I had at the time. (My shaman has since become a draenei again, incidentally, but that’s a whole other story). So my mage has heirloom shoulders, an heirloom weapon, and one of the heirloom trinkets. She’s really not THAT poorly off. I didn’t leave her with any gold when I took the shaman away – I didn’t really think I’d play her that much.

Except now, I have the leveling bug, and she’s getting pretty close. Level 77! I try to log in each day to do a random and earn a few Triumph emblems, because she’s going to need them. There are things that you just need for leveling professions, and if you don’t have a means of providing them for yourself, you have to either buy them or hope someone will help you out.

It doesn’t help that her professions are enchanting and tailoring – pretty self-sufficient, I thought – she crafts gear that she wears, enchants it herself, and disenchants it when she is done with it. But it’s not great for moneymaking because I need all of my own enchanting mats. It isn’t until I need something that I realize how much I take my home network for granted. I have most of the professions covered among my plethora of alts. The ones I don’t have, someone in the guild definitely does. I am fortunate that Rades and his friends have been really helpful to me. One sent me a bunch of Frostweave he didn’t need, as well as some enchanting mats and DEables. Rades gave me some Armor Vellum to enchant so as to not waste my mats (also a means to make funds!)

A crazy (but nice) group of people on that server also took me to the Forge of Souls… at level 75. It was fun being in a place I had no right being, but at the same time I knew I was being carried. I don’t really like being carried, I like to hold my own – but I know that in this situation I often do need a hand. I can’t be too proud.

Secretly, in times of duress, Jikali hides behind her hapless water elemental.

You are more than the sum of your gear

So all of this to say, what? Feel sorry for me? Not even remotely! I’m having a lot of fun leveling a character who can’t lean on my others, or as Rades might say, she doesn’t have silver spoon syndrome. Somehow I find it fitting along with the lore of the Horde and other feelings I’m getting from the experience. Very little is handed to this troll, she has to scrape and save and eke by to earn her existence, but by gosh when she gets to 80 she’s going to have earned it!

She just learned to fly in Northrend the other day – and even though it’s slow flying, it’s flying! If I can get the mats together to make her a flying carpet she’ll be sailing on a rug in no time. I have no idea what she’ll look like when she hits 80, it sure won’t be anything like Vid did. Perhaps the RNG will favour her with drops. Otherwise I think I’ll be doing a lot of farming for crafted gear.

Meantime, if you encounter someone who:

  • doesn’t have heirloom gear
  • is leveling their first character (there are some tell-tale signs, things like asking questions that ‘everyone knows the answer to,’ etcetera
  • is playing on a server other than their own, that you know of
  • or even just doesn’t have awesome gear for heroics

Remember, sometime that person could be you! Help them out however you can, even if it’s just a few bags you’re able to make. Something that is a relatively small investment for you might be proportionately huge for them. Bags alone make a huge difference, and even twenty gold could be a fortune to a lowbie. I suspect my own friends of being too proud and accomplished to take gifts of gold, but have managed to foist a few other small things off on them. Perhaps not as much as I should, though.

Don’t assume that someone is a terrible player just because they don’t ding eighty with ilevel 245 and 264 crafted gear. So the tank has 23K hp…that used to be plenty for heroics. With a good healer, Vid tanked heroic Halls of Reflection with less than 30. Sure, the healer and I both had to work for it, and I’m sure it was more due to her expertise than mine, but it was okay. Give people a chance; you need to go to instances to get the gear in the first place, or the emblems to obtain the gear.

Playing on another server has been an eye-opening experience for me. I intend to be more generous on my server where I have an embarrassment of riches – I can’t forget my homely troll mage scrimping and saving to earn her ugly windrider. I think I actually sort of love the thing now, if only because I know I earned it!

A warm welcome! Actually, it was sort of cold. Because she's a frost mage, get...nevermind.

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27 responses to “Haves and Have-Nots

  1. I remember once I was on a low-level alt, in the process of scrapping it (vendoring everything, mailing out heirlooms and gold, etc.), when I came across a new player in general chat. Something inspired me to talk to him and help him out; I must have talked to him for a good 20 minutes about questions he had and the like. I kinda stopped what I was doing and just sat in Fairbreeze Village and talked to this guy in tells. Sadly, he had to leave or something, so I resumed what I was doing and absent-mindedly deleted the alt, and for the life of me I can’t remember his name. I hope he’s still playing.

  2. Note to self, the Draenei Mafia Banker is open for business….

    Actually, I’ve been surprised at the prices on the Ysera and Moonrunner AHs. Either A-52′s prices are depressed, or those others have pretty inflated prices for mats. An hour or so of farming copper and/or tin in Elwynn, Dun Morogh, and Loch Modan will net you over 50 gold on the AH in either server.

    (And because of the prices, I’m glad I chose Blacksmithing on both servers.)

    • Bwahaha. I should have made that my bank alt guild’s name. I did intend to send you some bags, though. ;) Sounds like you don’t need any gold, maybe you’ll front ME a loan. I should have been a gatherer, it’s true! Moonrunner has an economy like most other PvE servers I’ve seen, at least Alliance-side. Most people are raiders and there aren’t as many gatherers at all. I’ve found Drenden to be quite similar. Before I transferred to Moonrunner I made a DK and mined some Mithril – 250 gold before I’d even transferred and I said, “Hmm, I think I like this place!” ;)

      • Rule #1 of Character Leveling: When someone offers you stuff, you say “Thank you!”

        Rule #2 of Character Leveling: If unsure what to do when someone offers you stuff, see Rule #1.

        I think it a cruel hoax that the single best Alliance place for farming copper is in Elwynn, and not Dun Morogh. You’d think that the Dwarves would have an advantage over that, but no….

        The Horde have issues mainly getting from tin up to silver/iron, given that you have to go to either Arathi, Desolace, or the Badlands before you get beyond the tin deposits.

      • Haha. I actually really like Azuremyst for copper mining, truthfully. http://www.wow-professions.com/images/mining_maps/Azuremyst_Isle.jpg
        Please poke me the next time you’re on and I’ll find and make you a port to Dalaran so you can move about freely. Plus a mount in only two levels!

      • Please poke me the next time you’re on and I’ll find and make you a port to Dalaran so you can move about freely.

        Oh, you want to watch the Hordie try to walk past the Sunreaver Mages, eh?

        That map pretty much matches my mental image of where to go in Azuremyst. Bristlelimb is great, but for some reason the spawning in Elwynn was quicker between Goldshire, Redridge and the river. (It definitely was much quicker than Dun Morogh, for sure.) Ironically enough, the area around the Ogres and Farstrider Lodge in Loch Modan spawns quickly too, and I’ve encountered little competition for resources as well.

      • Actually, I prefer Darkshore for mining copper. You just follow the mountain range to the east all the way up and come down near the beach. And since very few people go to Darkshore, it’s often pretty full.

  3. It’s really too bad, but people always seem to forget where they came from. Everyone started out with one character once. Not everyone had help from people. And certainly not everyone had the highest tier gear the second they hit 80.

    I really feel sorry for people that come into the game and are thrown bags and gold from a friend, because they can never learn what it is to play the game relying on themselves, to be proud of their ability to get their character what they need based on effort and learned skill.

    (You don’t want to know how long it took me to learn what should and shouldn’t be vendored and how the AH worked. Really. You don’t want to know.)

    I’m glad that you’re settling in on your Troll and that she’s doing pretty well for herself!

    • You don’t want to know how long it took me to learn what should and shouldn’t be vendored and how the AH worked. Really. You don’t want to know.

      Oh, I can imagine. It took me months before I realized that constantly relisting things was costing me lots of gold.

    • :D On the flip side though, I think it really is made pretty brutally hard at first. For example, when we rolled Hordies on Moonrunner – I didn’t have enough silver to train all my new spells. I’ve had the same thing in the draenei starting zone, even with selling all the trash. I get that you don’t want low-level mobs to be farmable or anything, but seriously give me a break. It’s not like a low-level priest has much to choose from, my next rank of “smite” is kind of important.

      I can’t say I’m doing well without any help, naturally. But I did raise enough money to get cold-weather flight on my own so that’s all good. It’s interesting to consider the “teach a man to fish” angle, though.

  4. My first dungeon run was so bad, I didn’t try again for months. :(

    • That bad? :-/ Well, at the end of ours one guy said “I thought you were new, you didn’t seem to know how to play your classes,” but I guess he was sort of right. I hope your subsequent ones have been better.

  5. I just finished leveling a second dk on an alt server and it’s been eye opening as well… Achievements that matter to do on my main server don’t matter anymore… Leveling cooking can wait until Thanksgiving… First Aid doesn’t matter – I can sell the cloth for a profit to get things I need more…

    I don’t have epic flying [all my max level toons on my main server do]…

    This toon however has the kind of luck with gear that I’ve never seen before… She’s already got 2 piece sanctified [voa25 drop, icc25 token] and got a battered hilt within a week of hitting 80…

    The people of that battlegroup seem to have more patience. I always try to be patient… well… except for the non def capped tanks in ICC heroics… that’s just bad and painful.

    I did get an amazingly patient group on my main server the other day. Our tank dropped mid instance, [I was on my pally using her offspec -dps]. I hopped to prot spec and queued us up… accidently requeuing us for a new instance, which I tanked without complaint. On the first boss room in DTK, I had a hunter run in [lag or on purpose I don't know], and I shield threw to try and pull the mobs off him, but the shield hit one and bounced to a far group, pulling the whole room. We managed to get through the pull… barely… lost the hunter and the boomchicken who went ape on the mobs immediately before they even all got to me…

    The healer was a bit upset because she was a new disc priest who’d lost 2 people in the party, so I apologized for the overpull [I really had not intended to pull the extra... just trying to save the hunter] and the healer apologized for deaths… Everyone sorta laughed it off and we continued. The warrior didn’t want to do Dred, but everyone else wanted to, so he suggested doing the achievement and explained how to do it… done and done… I didn’t realize my pally didn’t have it. We finished the instance in good spirits despite the mis-steps of several people :)

    • She’s already got 2 piece sanctified [voa25 drop, icc25 token] and got a battered hilt within a week of hitting 80…

      ::jealous:: I still haven’t seen another battered hilt drop since that first one.

  6. Antigen’s story reminds me of when I was leveling an alt in wetlands years ago during vanilla and came across this obviously green rogue who was on the same quests, so we teamed up. A flagged tauren came by to try and cause trouble (pve server) and the rogue didn’t realize he shouldn’t attack him and got himself smashed, much to the baiting tauren’s delight. I hopped on my epic’d out hunter and came back to wipe the guys face on the floor until he logged. Back then epic gear was pretty epic and this rogue thought I was the coolest thing since serrated daggers.

    We continued leveling together a bit, and I started answering every sort of question he could ask the entire time he leveled. I dunno why, I just took him under my wing. It was cool to see him hit 70 in BC and join a prominent raiding guild, end up becoming an officer eventually and well known on the server. He always used to thank me for showing him the ropes.

    On the other hand, I remember my first instance run and it was a nightmare. My first toon was a warrior, and I was beyond clueless. My friend took me to deadmines, and looking back I was probably supposed to be the tank but I had no idea what a tank was then. My friend was a druid, and there was a mage and a priest, I don’t remember the last one. If a bunch of mobs would attack me I figured that was bad so i’d try to run away from them or stop attacking them so they’d attack somebody else, so you can imagine what a good tank I was being. I can’t even take a guess at what sort of gear I had on or what my spec was, but i’m pretty sure it was asinine.

    I was looking at my warrior earlier that day and thinking about how I needed to try and find a helm, a necklace, some rings, and whatever those trinket things were. So here we are somewhere in deadmines and, hey look at that, a ring drops… lavishly jeweled even, and it was a different color whatever that meant! We were still fighting something; somebody had looted early I think. I remember chaos and having to try and pay attention to fighting, I remember the roll box coming up and only being able to glance at it back and forth, and I remember thinking.. well, I need this ring, I don’t have any rings. As to what stats were on it, I didn’t really know what that meant, but whatever they were, it was better than no stats since I had no ring I figured. Somebody had told me int helped me learn my professions faster, and I knew agility wasn’t as good as strength but was still maybe somewhat useful for something, so it seemed like a good item as far as I could tell.

    The mage and the priest went BERZERK. I mean, they had probably had it with me as it was, but now I take their ring? They were yelling at me like crazy and I couldn’t even understand why… I just kept saying “But I need the ring, I don’t have any rings!” which seemed perfectly logical to me, but I reckon they thought I was just being a jerk. I think we finished the run, they kept asking the leader to kick me the entire time who was luckily my friend and kept trying to explain that I was new and he was not kicking me. I don’t know how long it took me to understand why they were so mad, but it bothered me for days how mad they were. To this day i’m really weird about taking loot and about doing instances with people I don’t know.

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  8. Boy, I remember my first instance well. Deadmines, it was. I had read stuff about what the roles were in instances and I was *ready*! I took it very, very seriously. Hee…good times. I also remember what it’s like to have nothing. When I first started playing WoW, oh so many years ago, I didn’t have the best luck earning money. When my first friend in WoW gave me a gold to help me be able to train, I was gobsmacked and extremely thankful. Nowadays, 1 gold isn’t all that much, but back then….woah, I was rich! When she stopped playing, she sent me all her gold and again, I was gobsmacked.

    I didn’t have things handed to me on a silver platter, I barely had addons, I didn’t use thottbot or wowhead….and that’s stuck with me. I’m quite willing to offer advice or lend a hand to others who are new to things, I try not to harshly judge others with not as good gear/health, they might geniunely be new to things or have come back from a long break or whatever. Not everyone has an 80 already who can funnel money and heirlooms to them. I’ve said it before, but a good attitude goes a long way in my book.

    And Askevar, I hear you on insanely good luck. My priest got a really nice staff in reg FoS I don’t remember seeing drop before and the trinket from reg ToC in one day and then a lovely robe from H ToC a day or so later and I remember thinking, wow, none of my other toons have this kinda luck. She’s also rocking 3 pieces of T9 and she’s only been 80 like, not even 2 weeks. >.<

  9. This is a topic I’ve been wanting to write about, too—and I think you put it all together much better than I would have. :)

    It sounds like lots of people have had the same experience I did when first starting to play—I remember having to choose which things I was going to have to train, I remember equipping greens with Strength and Spirit on them because they were upgrades for my warrior (despite the Spirit), and I remember running on foot to locations to avoid the cost of taking flightpaths. As someone who’d only ever played single-player RPG’s before, I thought that these were natural sorts of choices: In many games, you do have to pick which skills and abilities to train, and you can’t get them all. And, in many games, gold is not an unlimited resource. So, although it was hard to make these choices, I didn’t see them as all that surprising or unusual.

    In retrospect, I understand that WoW doesn’t take this approach at all. There’s a built-in assumption that you will use the Auction House, and the costs of things are chosen with that in mind. You’re not expected to get enough gold from doing quests to finance your progress. If you don’t have a benefactor (either a more-experienced friend or a higher-level character), you simply won’t have enough money to obtain respectable gear, keep up on training, perform repairs, and so forth, unless you auction. The Auction House is simply mandatory.

    I think everyone experiences that at some point, and it’s a pain—so when we first start to level alts, we’re quick to supply them with the best we can afford from our higher-level characters. Ultimately, that’s what makes Heirloom gear such an attractive proposition—it’s like the distillation of many levels worth of careful twinking captured in a few pieces of shareable gear. It’s easy to forget how big a deal it was the first time around.

    Once I started levelling an alt on a truly new server, I rediscovered the whole problem of how to afford a good life. This time around, though, I knew what I had to do, so I intentionally gathered extra vendor greys to get enough money to post things on the Auction House, and I very deliberately picked up gathering professions early so that I could get valuable things to sell. No longer did I see the random greens that dropped as a reliable source of upgrades—but instead as items to be sold at auction, or disenchanted for valuable dust. On a whole, it wasn’t such a burden—if anything, it was kind of fun! Having to live within your means is kind of a minigame in itself, sort of like how it’s fun to try to write a good poem while respecting the rules of a very strict form. The only down-side was that most of the people you’d run into were the beneficiaries of high-level twinking. Even if you know what to do, it’s hard to keep up with that.

    Overall, I feel that the designers of this game didn’t really plan for the new-player experience very well. I imagine almost all of the original WoW designers had come from other multiplayer games like EverQuest, so they already understood many of the MMO conventions about grinding, selling, auctioning, and so forth. Of course you sell things to other players—that’s just how it works! Of course you get new bags as soon as possible! For those of us who are new, and may be more accustomed to single-player games that provide you with all the things you need as part of the larger story line, it can be more of a struggle. When the quest givers said things like, “quickly, Hero, you must save me!” I thought I really had to drop everything and do it now! And I didn’t realize at first that you really aren’t expected to finish all the quests in an area before moving on. Questing, to the designers of vanilla WoW, was just a means to an end; there are a few threads of lore that persist, but most of it is a tangle of undeveloped potential that bears the same relationship to the larger game that a pile of film splices on the cutting-room floor has to the finished movie. I think they improved a lot with the expansions, but new players don’t get to see that till it’s far too late for a first impression.

    I just hope that the lessons Blizzard has learned will make that new-player experience a little nicer in Cataclysm.

  10. My first instance was regular Utgarde Pinnacle, at level 80…haha. I too had the special books and manuals that came with the Burning Crusade pack, but they were confusing and I didn’t want to get people killed. So I avoided dungeons until I HAD to go into one (for Orphan’s Week).

    I try to let newcomers to the game go at their own pace. I’ve seen people (friends) start tutoring and “teaching” new players about talent points, and how they should be leveling, and etc., but in my opinion that is one of the most enjoyable, memorable times in the game! Especially examining your talent trees, trying to figure out where to put your precious points. Taking that away is depriving a new players of some great memories.

    The only things I DO always teach new players is about item rarity (please don’t vend that BoE blue you just found just because your class can’t use it) and that the AH is a scary, but marvelous, tool.

    As for people who are new to a server but experienced players? I help out as much as they want. Some people don’t mind some nice bags and a few hundred gold to get them going, while others are fiercely independent and insist on nothing but the rusty, grey-quality chainmail on their back. Both are fine!

    Personally, I don’t mind a little help to get going (and I don’t want to seem ungrateful by turning down well-intentioned offers of assistance) but I like doing the majority of the work myself. Like earning enough to buy a stack of Bloodstones and then asking your JC friend to cut them for you. My little dwarf DK on Vid’s server has churned out hundreds of glyphs and made himself a tidy little few thousand gold, and it feels so much more satisfying than if someone had just given it to me. :D

  11. I still remember the joy of having a 6 slot bag drop on a new character on a new server.

    Also your mage is on my server and I friended you and Rades. What’s that guild like? I see you all over the place but never seen you recruiting in Trade (I am bad at finding good guilds but I got lucky with my current one).

    • *edit* “you” meaning “the guild you and Rades are in that I can’t spell”.

      • Is this the Katherine in Journey to Nowhere? If so, that’s my brother’s (and our close friends’) guild. :D TTGF is mostly made up of people that know each other in real life, so we don’t really actively recruit. Any new people are usually friends of guildies or people we’ve pugged with who express interest in joining (this was the case with me, I don’t know the others IRL.)

  12. Ooh. I remember levelling Laana through Gnomeregan. Such fun (grindy in Mara, but a different story) times. I grind levels because it’s fun to go around healing the tank in ret-spec who is a cross server alt. I grind levels because I’ll enjoy dinging 40 and actually doing nice DPS for the first time ™- I’ve never played DPS toons! My old GM once said that “The journey is the enjoyable part, rather than the destination”. While I love raiding to bits, I’ll have to squeeze Corr into the mix some time. Shamans are fun!

  13. Someone who isn't Rades

    What a cool looking orc in that last screenshot! He looks like an awesome person.

  14. “But what happens when you start a character on a different server? It can feel like starting all over again from the beginning”

    I know exactly what that feels like. I’m currently level 15 on my Warlock over in Single Abstract Noun (Argent Dawn) and I have no gold, no BoAs, nothing except a guild tag and a mining pick.

    I have some questionable quest rewards (did you know that Hogger doesn’t give clothies *anything*?!) but mostly I’m wearing +10 armor white and grey items.

    I’m see-sawing back and forth on two points of view:

    1. I’m too useless to join a Dungeon Finder group and need to farm some ore, sell it, and try and find some decent items from the AH

    2. I’m entitled to join a Dungeon Finder group as I am: I have some skill and the rewards the game has already given me.

    The day that I equipped my last bag slot (after saving 6g to buy a Netherweave bag) was such a big achievement I felt there ought to have *been* an achievement for it in the achievement system.

  15. My druid is currently heirloom-less. He’s geared in dropped blues and I think everybody assumes I’m a complete noob, and consequently has been really nice to me. Win :)

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