Gank ‘n’ Spank: 80+ Levelling In Cataclysm

More Azerothian adventures from our WoW correspondent Bickers – earlier installments are here.

I honestly don’t know whether to blame my initial frustration at Cataclysm’s level 80+ starting zones on the design decisions involved, or the fact that I willingly joined a PVP server.

With depressing frequency, yet another group of opposing-faction players rolls into the zone and picks off solo levellers like myself. We’re easy meat, and easy honour-points for such groups. I suspect they’ve done the local quests already, and are simply grinding out honour-points as currency for their new endgame PVP gear.

I enjoy PVP, generally speaking; the risk of random encounters can offer real flutters of excitement, although I’m a bit of a wuss and rarely instigate fights myself. But the utter gank-rampancy going on at the moment is just crackers.

This is, of course, a problem specific to being a solo leveller on a PVP server, in a cross-faction zone. Cataclysm’s early 80+ levelling areas are compact, linear, and unlike WoTLK’s 70+ areas, they’re not faction-specific. They throw Horde and Alliance together, to pick up quests from the same NPCs in the same territories. The immediate portal-in areas funnel the two factions into pea-pod proximity, and for me, it’s been pure carnage.

I know, I know, if you don’t want PVP, don’t join a PVP server… Still, I preferred Lich King’s approach of faction-specific starting zones with natural crossover points.

After some hours of trying to throw myself into the quests against a backdrop of endless interruption and corpse-runs, I quit the verdant, ganky hills of Mount Hyjal for the sub-aquatic charms of Vashj’ir, off the coast of the Eastern Kingdoms. I’ll stress again that is a problem peculiar to people in my position, and is no kind of issue on PvE servers. That’s precious little consolation when you’re a ghost with a group of corpse-campers hovering nearby, however.

Since coming to Vashj’ir, I haven’t looked back. The zone presents a more expansive starting area and, as a result, you come into contact with the opposing faction with less frequency. As an alliance character, your journey here begins with a quest in Stormwind (although once you’ve done the initial boat-and-cutscene trip, you can portal directly there, as you can to Mount Hyjal, from Stormwind itself). Sent by a Stormwind recruiter to fight the horde at sea with a band of local soldiers, your boat pulls up alongside a capsized alliance ship off the coast. Giant tentacles rise from the waves to grip the rigging, and your ship is dragged under.

You’re flung into the water, and just as you’re sinking to a watery grave, a friendly NPC casts a breathing bubble around you. You pass out, and awake in the air-filled hold of a sunken ship. It’s here that your sea-floor adventures in Vashj’ir begin in earnest.

It’s a more thematically interesting zone than Mount Hyjal, and I found it immediately charming. Your first quest sees you collecting reagents for a fantastical SCUBA device, which also confers speedier swimming and enables you to bound along the sea-floor like Neil Armstrong after a particularly calorific space-meal. The scenery is lush, complex, and insanely colourful.

Where you might see one flavour of critter in a land-zone – a vole, or a rabbit, say, scampering across the ground – the sea teems with creatures of all descriptions, darting in and out of bellying kelp-beds, skittering over brain-corals or playing hide-and-seek with giant licky tubeworms. A word of warning: the colossal Whalesharks care not for your tier-10 gearing, and will knock your block off with one flick of the fluke.

In Vashj’ir, the world works in three dimensions. This doesn’t make combat as irksome as it sounds, as mobs tend to adjust exactly to the height you’re at, which saves you the bother. The quest-chains soon lead you to the taming of your own seahorse, a super-speedy underwater mount. At this point, the sea’s your oyster.

I’ve enjoyed the progression here considerably, although there doesn’t seem to be the level of tucked-away variety that you find elsewhere in the world. You get the sense that you’re doing all the quests there are to do in the area, unlike the rest of Azeroth, where you almost always have a choice of districts in any given area that dole out quests for your level.

That said, I’m loving the quests here. I’ve filled leaky oxygen-tanks from sea-floor bubble-streams for a narcissistic Gnomish geologist. I’ve gone snail-hunting for a botanist who’s investigating how animals gain access to the titanic mollusc that forms the central terrain feature of the entire zone; it’s as big as St Paul’s Cathedral. I’ve ridden a killer shark around at breakneck speed to perform darting attacks on the Naga, whose activities have upset the ecosystem and left the sharks without a food source. There’s something enormously fun about gobbling them down in a cloud of chum. In short, there’s a lot of colour down here, both literally and figuratively.

The gear-drops are interesting. When my first Green item dropped, excitement warred with a sense of dismay. It had taken me so many hours of instancing to get where I was at level 80, then suddenly… the first bit of trash to drop was higher level (272 over my current 264 set). After a sit-down with a cup of tea and a ciggie though, I did the calculations and realised that, actually, this gear isn’t a patch on what I’m wearing.

The item level may be higher, but the stats on my current set – gemmed, enchanted and re-forged as it is – far outweigh those conferred by Cataclysm’s early drops. The greens aren’t even socketed of course, so no gem-action there. Phew – trader trash after all. My hard grind in the six months before the launch of Cataclysm hasn’t been in vain, and that’s immensely pleasing.

I’ve just begun tackling Cataclysms level 80-85 instances to see what they offer. More thinky-thunks on those soon, when I’ve rinsed them over a few times.


  1. The Juice says:

    I’m one of the people who camps care bears like you.

    • Jhoosier says:

      He doesn’t sound like much of a care bear, more like he was out by himself and kept getting ganked by groups.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      He plays a Death Knight.

      There shall be zero mercy.

    • Danarchist says:

      In my experience people that regularly use the term “Carebear” are themselves asshats. The same people that spam trade chat with childish references to body parts and crap talking about gear score. I think carebear more comfortably hangs around the necks of any woosie that needs 4 buddies to take out 1 guy.

      These people flock to pvp servers for some reason, which I find annoying as I love to pvp. Thankfully Darkfall has bled quite a few of them away from WoW

    • CoffeeBean says:

      Carebears, eh?

      I started playing WoW in Dec. 2004 on a PVP server (Laughing Skull), and had been a consistent and steady PVE and PVP player until last summer. Finally, after all the years of attitudes like the ones on display in these threads, I just got sick of it.
      – Corpse campers that do it for hours at a time not for honor or for the thrill of PVP, but just to be completely and utterly malicious .
      – Squads of bored angst-factories that kill quest NPCs over and over again just to deny people the ability to level. Sometimes these were even coordinated across zones, so the usual just-corpse-run-and-move-on strategy didn’t help.
      – The playerbase became increasingly uncivil as the average age appeared to approach Junior High. There was no courtesy left in anyone regardless of faction or if you were even on the same side of the fight.
      – The inability of Blizzard to ever really, truly, and finally fix population imbalances on PVP servers left one side in such a position of domination, that the losing side would all transfer somewhere else or just change sides and contribute to the problem.

      After all of those years…. My entire guild just packed up and moved on to a PVE server. Yes, we do occasionally miss the thrill of PVP “in the world”, but the atmosphere and the attitudes are so much better. The game became fun again, like it was before.

      Blizzard has a problem on their hands with the PVP servers. The breakdown in any form of civility and the utter callous ruthlessness of the younger playerbase is a real issue. These kids are weaned on the endless chum factories of FPS shooters where anything goes in a consequence-free environment. They come to WoW as young, angry, and without remorse, a sense of balance, or empathy. The older players with anger issues that egg this behavior on don’t help. I have no idea how to begin addressing this callous disregard for humanity with gamers, but it has to start somewhere.

      In the meantime, I will play on my Carebear server and confine my PVP to the battlegrounds and the auto-enabled world zones. Maybe I am just getting too old, but it seems like the per capita douchebag percentile is increasing exponentially in Warcraft with each passing year.

    • ffordesoon says:

      Of course it’s on the rise. More people playing the game necessarily means more douchebags playing it. Because, in my unscientific estimation, ten percent of any group of people who are on the internet will inevitably be douches.

    • Merc says:

      As CoffeeBean says, Blizzard has let PvP realms deteriorate to the point that many of them are essentially unplayable as the low-population faction, which in every single case I know of is Alliance.

      According to (the best source of population data available to players, since Blizzard doesn’t release this information) there are 1.8 horde players per alliance player across all PvP realms. Since 2 on 1 is almost never a fair fight, that means Alliance on PvP realms rarely ever get a fair PvP fight.

      WoW is, as far as I know, the only PvP title where teams aren’t forcibly balanced. If you join a Team Fortress 2 game, you can’t just see which team has more players and join it, however in WoW, you can. They made the problem worse a couple of years ago when they actually allowed you to transfer factions, so Alliance players on a PvP realm, tired of getting steamrolled can pay a small fee and join the Horde, making the problem worse for everybody left behind. In virtually every case, the incentives to switch to the dominant faction are much greater than the incentives to switch the other way. As a result it’s a positive feedback system, where the worse the problem gets, the more incentive there is to make it worse.

      Worse still is that Blizzard won’t acknowledge there’s a problem. It’s unclear if they don’t think there’s a problem, know that there’s a problem but refuse to admit it until they have a solution, or (as some think) are just happy to make money off people being forced to switch factions or realms. In statements in the forums, Community Managers say things like a 2:1 Horde to Alliance ratio is a “pretty decent” ratio.

      It’s clear that nothing lasts forever, and eventually something will dethrone WoW. I’m convinced one of the big selling features of that replacement will be properly balanced factions.

    • malkav11 says:

      I think a fair bit of that simply comes down to the fact that WoW is not a PvP title. It has PvP as a feature, not as its reason for being. And especially not in the form of PvP servers. I see PvP servers as Blizzard simply saying “hey, we know some of our players want this, so, here, have a bone.” They’re almost certainly not the focus of game design because they are not the default server type and their population is a fraction of that of the overall subscriber base. You’ll note that the controlled PvP environments – battlegrounds, Wintergrasp, Tol Barad – *are* forcibly balanced (something which has drawn the ire of people playing on faction-imbalanced PvP servers due to recent changes in how that balancing plays out). And I daresay they draw a lot more developer attention because they exist on every server in the entire game and are the primary way most subscribers will involve themselves in PvP, should they ever choose to do so. (I think it’s fairly inarguable that even then, the PvE questing and raiding content is the primary design focus, and if anything, I but wish it were the only.)

    • Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:

      He can’t be a sociopath, he’s trying so damn hard to justify his outlook that he just can’t be as emotionally unattached as the word implies.

      But yeah, despite what he believes there really do exist people who don’t need to be threatened with physical harm or imprisonment to Not Want To Kill People. It’s weird, I know. It’s like empathy’s one of many innate social-animal survival mechanisms or something.

    • Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:


      Hey, you there. Learn to reply properly you nitwit! This is the wrong thread!

    • Antlerbot says:

      @ffordesoon: You don’t really understand what “per capita” means, do you?

    • Stephen Roberts says:

      Said it for years while I played the game ‘PvP and PvE should be split down the middle’. There have always been hints of this with certain abilities like sheep and sap, hints that are totally unacknowledged in tooltips (talking from WotlK dunno about recent changes). Blizzard have mysteriously been reluctant to do this division of design and I’m not sure why.

      It’s also worth pointing out that all the PvP the game has is essentially a grafted on feature as my understanding goes. The engine was never made with the intention of that sort of combat and consquently it’s not really suited to it. That’s why you can be caught in cyclone with a live grounding totem next to you (or any other ream of impossible events).

      World PvP always seemed utterly pointless. It was always just a quickly escalating game of ‘who’s got the most friends’.

      Oh lord I ramble. Also, Ffordesoon, I recon ten percent is a very forgiving number. Try ninety. My experience of WoW. 9/10 people… douchgasm.

    • Carolina says:

      I love campers. They’re usually bad at PvP against even forces and it’s a pleasure to kill them again and again when your friends come to the rescue.

      Ganking is annoying, but sudden bursts of World PvP makes it worth it.

    • Ghiest says:

      Aren’t you the digital hero…

      Our server the balance of horde numbers vs alliance is around 10:1 so you can imagine the fun we had trying to level up being constantly outnumbered and flattened. If it was balanced numbers I wouldn’t mind so much but the decision had dire consequences for our server as our progression is probably the slowest of any alliance server out there now.

  2. ChaK_ says:

    YaY RP PVE servers

  3. Faldrath says:

    Blizz just announced a hotfix to beef up item levels in starting areas, by the way. So the quest gear should be more enticing now.

  4. Lipwig says:

    I like to leave these things for a few weeks. I’ll also be playing on PVE, heh.

    I’m a care bear, the thrill of being ganked by an endless line of frustrated teenagers does nothing for me.

    • The Great Wayne says:

      Funny how picturing the pvpers as “frustrated teenagers” is always a reflex people have to comfort themselves.

      Which is wrong BTW, the grand majority of pvpers are older than the average mmo player. Well, except maybe in WoW where you can be actually right, considering everyone is a frustrated teenager, anyway :]

      But go to a proper pvp game like EvE or Perpetuum and you’ll see. Playing with sixty years old people isn’t unlikely. When you play pvp, it’s not about willingness to kill, it’s about not caring too much to die repetedly. Which requires maturity. A lot.

    • Nalano says:

      Having been one of those gankers, I can assure you we’re not teenagers, and we like doing it because we can.

      Given the power to beat your co-workers with a wooden stick without repercussion, you’d do it too. And as victim, all it costs you is your ego: You don’t lose your gear or your cash, and you lose very little of your time.

      It’s the carebear MMO – the lowest common denominator, where getting the best gear is not a function of skill but time. And in this theme park of a game, you call us teenagers?

    • panther says:

      *goes and reads arena junkies*


    • Handsome Dead says:

      Doesn’t matter if they’re frustrated teenagers or disgruntled balding 30 somethings they’re still spineless, cowardly jellyfish.

    • Nalano says:

      Your tears fuel me.

    • Lipwig says:

      I’m still not sold on having my time wasted.

    • panther says:

      was just thinking, gankers are closet (actually they could be openly) sadists

      it’s basically going out of your way to inflict suffering on another person with no reason besides enjoying it. Says a lot about a person.

    • Nalano says:

      Lumpen-psychoanalysis notwithstanding, if you play a multiplayer game, you’re likely to have to deal with people occasionally.

    • Lipwig says:

      What’s worse, that style of play is idealised, as if the notion of random, arbitrary death is an interesting and meaningful part of playing World of Warcraft. As far as PVP servers go, I’d transfer a max level character. I’m sure magic happens, and maybe the angry office workers give the world a sense of danger.

      As I like to play solo and experience the world and the supposedly excellent work Blizzard has done reworking Azeroth, I’d never level on a PVP server. I hate being ganked, meh.

    • Nalano says:

      I reiterate: It’s a carebear MMO. You have that choice.

    • Panther says:

      It’s ok dude, if ganking makes you feel like a bigger man, all power to you. “you can’t ignore getting killed” lmfao

    • Chris D says:


      “Given the power to beat your co-workers with a wooden stick without repercussion, you’d do it too.”

      No. I really wouldn’t.

      I don’t think most of us would.

      If that’s what you really think then that says something and it’s not “I’m a great guy and people like me.”

    • Nalano says:

      Chris D, I am thoroughly of the opinion that a great many people are alive solely because it is illegal to kill them. I am also of the opinion that general decorum is maintained primarily by mutual understanding of repercussion, filtered through an emotive lens of morality, which is man-made and largely arbitrary.

      And furthermore, unlike hitting my co-workers, killing your avatar does not – contrary to popular belief – actually cause you physical harm, or even momentary discomfort. If anything, it’s a passing inconvenience and a timesink, but then so is most of the game.

    • Lipwig says:

      Is ganking your way of inflicting that kind of thinking on the many millions of people enjoying the gameplay otherwise? It seems largely ineffectual.

      But yes, thankfully Blizzard has made the distinction between PVE and PVP, and I’ll happily continue playing PVE if I re-activate my account in a few weeks when everything dies down.

    • Panther says:

      What a disturbing insight into the mind of a ganker

    • Chris D says:


      As if physical harm is the only kind there is. You don’t even believe that. It’s why you do it.

    • undead dolphin hacker says:

      Gamer’s Mantra:

      Anyone worse than me is a total noob,
      Anyone better than me has no life.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      What’s with this? If you’re taking a game so seriously that you rage about it in a forum, it may be time to take a break. I myself never freaked out when I got corpse camped by Pals4Life, and I figure I was pretty immature at the time. So what’s the deal? You get ganked, roll with it. I was pretty famous on the server I stayed on for the second and third expansions, and I didn’t proclaim that all gankers were hitler even when I got corpse camped on my alts a lot.

      You made the concious decision to be on a PvP server, so play like it is one. If you didn’t, then we get it, you don’t like it, move on. Any person on the opposite faction could come and kill you at any time. STRIKE FIRST!

      I really love how you all piled on, though. You ever thought about stepping back and looking at the big picture? Any of the three of you?

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Nalano: “Given the power to beat your co-workers with a wooden stick without repercussion, you’d do it too. ”

      Strikes me as the core of the issue. This simply isn’t true.

      Some people would and some people wouldn’t and the people who wouldn’t think the people who would are tossers.


    • bob_d says:

      @Nalano: “Given the power to beat your co-workers with a wooden stick without repercussion, you’d do it too.”
      No I wouldn’t, since I’m not a psychopath or a sociopath. For most people, morality is based on empathy, not fear of punishment. The dynamics you describe may help keep people who, like you, have antisocial personality disorders in check, but it’s simply not true for most people. This is also, of course, why many people dislike PVP – it allows sociopaths to act with impunity, and social arenas that allow that to happen just aren’t pleasant.

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      phuzz says:

      I am a sociopath (well, a bit), and I don’t feel like hitting people with sticks (I’m not above hurting them with words though I suppose).
      Mind you, my general dislike of people means I’ve no interest in playing an MMO anyway.

    • Nalano says:

      You do everything either to avoid pain – emotional or physical – or to gain pleasure – emotional or physical. Empathy is an emotional tool that can be unlearned as easily as it can be learned – after all, we would not need layers of law and force to maintain order if people were incapable of overcoming brotherly love. Empathy is merely a concept forged through internal logic working out social norms – You do things for other people because it makes you feel good: You can call yourself moral, honorable, etc, and you get paid in social dividends in kind.

      The fact that you ascribe layers of social control to various actions implies two things: That humans are malleable animals, but that they are not infinitely so. If we were totally satisfied with our situations as they are, we would not need social control and social pressure. In this demand for catharsis comes games, which exist so we don’t drink ourselves into stupors or hit our coworkers or worse. And this game in specific is so careful to determine how one’s character can or cannot interact with other characters (mostly cannot) as to devolve all meaningful interaction into one true act: Short of blocking you from appearing on the screen, there is nothing you can do in this multiplayer game that cannot be wholly ignored by all other players, yet the game must still have – as advertised – a PvP element.

      One that, consequently, can be almost entirely avoided.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Nal: Alternatively, the vast majority of people would function perfectly fine without actual laws and they’re needed to whip the 1% of people whose empathy programming doesn’t take properly.


    • Burc says:

      You don’t need to look far into modern research into social psychology to find findings that disagrees with your statements.

      Without morals and altruism a society could never arise, and the embryo of our morality can be seen clearly in chimpanzees.

      Look it up.

    • Nalano says:

      Even diehard anarchists are afraid of total lawlessness.

      And while society functions largely from the idea of order more than its enforcement, its enforcement is quite necessary.

      Burc, you don’t need to look very far to realize that morality and altruism are concepts invented by us, for us.

    • bob_d says:

      @Nalano: What you’re saying is demonstrably untrue. The concept of morality may be a human invention, but the discovery of what we’d call “moral” behavior amongst social animals of all types indicates it’s a necessary, and biologically based, element of group living. Ok, you don’t understand empathy, we get it, but your self justifications simply sound absurd for the rest of us who can feel empathy for others. Of course even anarchists like laws – without them the sociopaths would run unchecked; this doesn’t mean we’re all just like you.

    • sebmojo says:

      Nalano: you don’t need to look very far to realize that morality and altruism are concepts invented by us, for us.

      Nonsense, it’s just game theory. Altruism is a more successful survival strategy.

      The point Kieron is making is that it’s a bit broken to get your fun from other people’s misery as a regular thing.

    • World One Two says:

      “Empathy is merely a concept forged through internal logic working out social norms – You do things for other people because it makes you feel good.”

      We conceptualise the world to hold it in our minds. The concept may be “merely” an idea, but what it points to is not. For example, the concept of a dining table is ephemeral and empty, as are other concepts like “oak” and “large” and “sturdy”. But what those words refer to, sitting there in front of your eyes in all its thusness, is very much tangible and real.

      So too you can say empathy is a man-made idea, and give a few reasons for the birth of the idea, but the experience of closeness to others, the realisation that we depend on each other and are made of the same atoms and are /in this shit together/, cannot be dismissed so easily.

      Give someone a cuddle and maybe take a bit of ecstasy. You’ll be right as rain.

    • Wulf says:

      Oh fff. I was going to say what KG and bob_d said, but I guess I can’t do that, now. >_>

      Really though, I have to wonder: Nolano, are you trolling RPS in an extremely talented way, or are you just a sociopath? Of course, the former would also imply that you’re a touch inclined towards sociopathy in and of itself, so let’s assume that was a rhetorical question, considering that we get the same answer either way.

      No, I wouldn’t beat people unless it was absolutely necessary and I had no other choice according to my personal codex of ethics. I’m a wuss, and I’m incredibly proud of being a wuss. Doctor Who is the phenotype of the wuss, and that’s actually a pretty good label to have attached to oneself. But what then is the phenotype of the person who believes it’s okay to kill if it’s legal? If I were feeling less charitable, I’d suggest that perhaps New Vegas’ CookCook character is a really great fit.

      I don’t blame you though, Nolano. I think that a large number of people are born into life with the distinct inability to comprehend and form their own understanding of ethics, and rules thereof to live by. Each person is their own person, but I do find it kind of sad that the laws are the only things keeping you in check. I don’t have any aspirations towards actually being a higher being, but I try. Each and every day is about that effort, and to make the world a better and more interesting place because it has you in it. That should be the raison d’etre of every human alive.

      Sadly it isn’t.

      Perhaps one day you’ll realise the necessity of ethics, or maybe you’ll live your whole life and never actually see the [i]need[/i] for ethics. Either way, you can’t assume that all people are the same.

    • Nalano says:

      Sebmojo, you do realize that in a competitive environment – one so zero-sum as PvP – for someone to win, someone else must lose, correct?

      Wulf, you concede that, for all the claims decrying my sociopathy, the game was designed for just such a practice, and that it is accepted gameplay? That you do not actually die, in the end? That your so-called “suffering” is all in your own outlook?

      We live in blessed times, where our own personal safety and well-being is meticulously cared for by an onion-like layering of social control, but for all the infrastructure involved in keeping us polite (largely by keeping us separate – spacially, socially, etc) it is merely a patina of civilization over greater humanity.

      I’m something of a Hobbesian subscriber, I admit. But I dare say I hold a better explanation as to the inevitability and utter suffusion of that which you call antisocial in what is clearly a social game.

    • Anonymousity says:

      Nalano Is so clearly a sociopath it’s hilarious, sociopaths are often also quite funny because their whole attitude is at odds with them carrying a recessive gene.

    • malkav11 says:

      There’s a difference between losing a fair contest and being deliberately harassed by assholes.

    • World One Two says:

      Thing is, in my eyes corpse-camping and the like are essentially dumb because they prove that as a player you’ve become more obsessed with the end goal than the experience itself. A sports player would always rather face an opponent who’s going to give them a tough ride, someone they can test themselves against, than a walk-over. Even if they lose, they’ll be the more enriched for it, and an easy victory is a hollow one.

      Competitive gaming should be like this. Playing for the sake of racking up easy honor points or causing malice is just going to leave you feeling empty at the end of it all.

      Which is the major problem I have with MMOs in general. So much of their approach can be summed up with the philosophy “do something crap now for a great reward miles down the line.” Except the reward turns out to be crap too. You grind and grind, and at the end you’re left with this bloody elephant mount that moves two percent faster and wears a shiny saddle and has not made your life better in a single meaningful way. And you’ve not enjoyed any of the time you spent getting it, you’ve just switched off your brain and got on with it, and you’re left thinking about all the books you could have read and walks you could have taken and how happy your life could have been if you’d just paid attention to what was happening /as it happened/.

      Or maybe I’m just playing these things wrong.

    • malkav11 says:

      If you’re playing an MMO for the carrot of the fun you might be having 3 months down the road, you are definitely doing it wrong. Hell, that’s true of any game – MMOs are just particularly prone to eating a lot of hours.

    • Suo says:

      you would make sense if people weren’t decrying the practice of corpse camping specifically

      there is no marginal utility from the second kill, or the third, or the fourth. in fact, blizzard has created diminishing returns in order discourage exactly that kind of behavior — PvP in that case isn’t zero sum, because there is nothing gained by the aggressor

      and no, blizzard did not design the game for ganking, that would be almost as sociopathic as you seem to be. Like I said, diminishing returns on honor are proof that corpse camping and similar activities are a design flaw, not a design goal

      addressing your reductionist mish-mash of hobbes and bentham, neither of them would agree with you. Hobbes hated the so-called “antisocial” behavior, even if he did think it was natural — he wanted to avoid it at all costs, in fact, even if it meant embracing a tyrannical autocracy. Which would seem to indicate that being a “hobbesian subscriber” demands that you shy AWAY from such behavior rather than openly embracing it. Bentham, on the other hand, would determine that the imperative of the WoW community as a whole is to maximize the sum total “pleasure” (to use your term). Given the somewhat obvious disproportionality of pleasure to pain that abuses of PvP system entail, the only option is to reduce it as much as possible.

      not to mention that pretty much every modern political theorist backs away slowly when someone starts talking about hobbes

      as for the explanatory power of your view of humanity, its pretty much utter bullshit. Leaving aside the fact that a very very small portion of the player base participates in corpse-camping, Occam would dig my explanation more: antisocial behavior is caused either by immaturity, psychological deficiency, or stupidity. Potentially all three.

    • Burc says:

      This quickly turned into a great read.
      I feel like a smarter person now, and I thank you all for spreading your wisdom.

    • Dajaki says:

      I approve of this use of Occam’s Razor.

      Secondly, all I really got from all of the comments is that Nalano is a sociopathic dickhead.

  5. Mnaz says:

    My own levelling has been refreshingly gank-free. I was ganked all of twice between 80 and 84, and I was afk for one of those so I was kinda asking for it.

  6. bonjovi says:

    you didn’t change any gear yet? anything with mastery on it is definitely better than what you have farmed in icc, and white stats tend to be better on green cataclysm items as well. So anything that drops with higher strength and mastery should be your choice above all else, you will feel the difference.

    • Mnaz says:

      The value of mastery varies a lot from spec to spec. It’s complete trash for some people.

    • Loopy says:

      I agree. Right now mastery is absolute trash for my holy spec paladin, and the starting area greens don’t even begin to compete with my ICC gear.

      However, I’ve started to pick up a few blues now (from rep and quests mostly) so things are looking up a bit. Up to level 83 and just started the Deepholm quests, so plenty to do still.

    • Simon says:

      My character (non-raiding Retribution paladin) was in 245-264ish gear including 4-piece Tier 10, and the only thing I replaced in Vashj’Ir and Hyjal were my rings and Libram. I didn’t upgrade anything else until Deepholm and Uldum, at which point more or less everything was an obvious upgrade.

    • Lipwig says:

      My character is level 80 in TBC T5 :D

      Leveling Wrath was great not having to replace much. Going from BC to Cata, wow, it’ll feel like the Old World -> BC gap again, yay!

    • yns88 says:

      By the time you reach 85, you’re likely to have changed all of your gear except for the ring you get from exalted with the Ashen Verdict in ICC. For everyone I know, that was the last thing they replaced.

      In order to queue for heroic 85 dungeons, you need to have an average item level of 329, whereas the best you could get at level 80 was item level 277. It actually takes quite a while of running normal dungeons before the heroic ones become available, since the best quest reward greens are only item level 318.

  7. Cyber Rat says:

    The underwater zone reminds me of Lemuria in Champions Online. I know that was awful if you were melee instead of ranged…

    • malkav11 says:

      A friend tells me it was a pain taking a warrior through Vashj’ir – charging enemies is apparently vital and the pathing has trouble handling the third dimension. As a death knight (melee except for two spells), it was not an issue.

  8. Catastrophe says:

    I’m on a PvE server so I don’t get this issue really, though the other day I accidentally left clicked on an alliance Paladin who had PvP turned on in Mount Hyjal.

    Hit her once, realised and stopped and continued to quest.

    She healed herself and came running after me- I think she under estimated an enhancement shaman, I purged her and ripped her to shreds :)

  9. the_fanciest_of_pants says:

    I’ve kind of gone underground since cataclysm’s release, just hit 85 a couple of days ago on my rogue.

    The new zones really are great, and get progressively better as you go. The introductions to Uldum and the Twilight Highlands are particularly great.

  10. Ian says:

    I realise I’m a non-PvPing cupcake but I’ve never really seen the allure of corpse-camping somebody who hasn’t already provoked you with cuntery of their own. And even then it sounds less like hilarious/awesome revenge and more like snore-inducing wankery.

  11. Brumisator says:

    I love the irony of getting “honour points” for murdering lonely helpless lower level people.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      You don’t get points for characters that are too low level.

  12. Unti Magi says:

    Same old, same old… Lovely world, terrible gameplay. Better to look at screenshots than waste 40$ on this time vampire.

    • GHudston says:

      Oh god, why did I spend three days reading that novel?! What a time vampire!

  13. malkav11 says:

    Hyjal is non-faction specific. Vashj’ir is for the most part faction specific, although it sounds like you’re doing essentially the same stuff as an Alliance member that I did as a Horde member, with gnomes swapped for goblins. And there’s only one Whale Shark – you get an achievement, if nothing else, for killing it. Finally, while in Hyjal I got the zone quest achievement while simply following area progression, I didn’t in Vashj’ir. You might find it’s got more tucked away than you think.

    • Simon says:

      Nah, there are at least two Whale Sharks doing the rounds- I remember seeing two alive at the same time on opposite sides of my screen. Needless to say, I got the hell out of there pretty damn quick.

    • Faldrath says:

      At least as Alliance, I got the quest achievement in Vashj’ir without any problems at all. There were breadcrumbs to all the quest hubs.

      Also, the whale shark doesn’t seem to aggro until attacked, I literally swam through it by accident once and nothing happened.

  14. Straste says:

    If you are planning on doing any instances, item level initially is all you are looking for with gear. To access the first 2 5-man instances you need only to find them and be 81. After that you need to average an item level of 272 to access the next batch of instances and it goes up from there Heroics req and avg of 329. All cata instances are gated with item level reqs, it seems like the noticed the popularity of gearscore and integrated it. With the new gear drops you are going to lose almost all of your hit,crit and haste. I assume this is to normalize everybody as they enter the dungeons where everybody will start building their gear sets again.

    • skalpadda says:

      It’s not about the new gear having less stats per se, it’s that you need so much more of the secondary ratings to reach the same percentage of crit/haste/mastery as you gain levels. My shaman went from 30% haste to 8% despite having significantly more rating on gear at 85.

      Luckily, quest rewards from the higher level questing zones are quite good, most people will have some justice points from level 80 and reputation is easy now that every faction has a tabard so getting geared for heroics isn’t very hard at all.

  15. misterk says:

    I literally don’t get ganking. The rewards for it are usually quite pathetic, so its really just for rather pointless griefing of people, ruining their experience. As factions can’t communicate (which, incidentally, is such bullshit. I didn’t notice language being a problem in WC3), you can’t even insult each other, so their tears of pain have to be imagined. I joined a pvp server because my friends were all there- I don’t like pvp servers because they allow conflict like that to occur- if I fancy fighting I can always tag myself as such on pve…. If someone did start ganking me I’d just log out and go do something else. Frustrating, but hardly the end of the world.

    • Nalano says:

      It’s the only meaningful way to interact with people in a game policed in so draconian a fashion it makes kindergarten look like Lord of the Flies.

      You can ignore chat. You can ignore people, because you phase right through them. You can’t ignore getting killed.

    • panther says:

      Stroking your ego in a video game? feels good man.

    • Nalano says:

      It’s a call for attention.

      Not unrelated, consequently, to posting on a forum or comments board.

    • panther says:

      Yeah this is almost as good as ganking.


    • skalpadda says:

      “It’s the only meaningful way to interact with people”

      You know there’s a chat function, and you can even emote to the opposite faction :P

      To be serious, I suppose cooperation, socialising and seeking out actual challenges (PvP or PvE wise) isn’t as meaningful as chain-killing someone who can’t fight back?

    • Thants says:

      @Nalano: Have you ever considered not playing this game that you seem to hate the basic concept of?

    • Nalano says:

      I don’t. I’ve played it for four years – raiding, battlegrounds, world pvp, the whole nine. I don’t now.

      By “meaningful,” I mean it’s the only thing you can do as a player that some other player must respond to. Everything else – chat, emotes, etc – can be ignored. There are a fair number of people who run around with custom chat channels just so they don’t have to deal with, well, other people.

    • Suo says:

      you know what else gets attention? slinging around your poo like a demented monkey.

      in real life, no less!

      still probably shouldn’t do it

  16. Stephen Roberts says:

    Opposite ganking is more fun. That is, to take on someone much bigger than you and win. Or to be started on by many and win on your own. Ganking is just a reminder that some people will be pathetic little wieners whenever the opportunity is present.

    Don’t vend those greens man! Disenchant!

    Edit: Good lord I want to come back to the WoW. No. No. Can’t let it happen. Dammit.

    • The Hammer says:

      Dooooooo it.

    • Wulf says:

      Don’t give in! D:

      Guild Wars 2 is just around the corner, and that’ll have more observationally-biased gameplay, a stronger story focus, and it’ll be free of subscriptions! If you need for such a game, then hang on just a few more months, I’m sure GW2 will satisfy.

  17. Psychopomp says:

    Is anyone else finding themselves really liking a few songs in the soundtrack?

    I absolutely adore the music in Grim Batol, and Battle for Gileas

    • ChampionHyena says:

      The Gilneas tunes are marvelous.

    • The Hammer says:

      I’m a huge fan of Blizzard’s music and art, and I think this expansion’s offering is the best ever.

      The night-elf and tauren pieces are the highlights, I think: they both perfectly portray the new themes of the two races.

      The cinematic music was entirely forgettable, though. Wrath’s was far more haunting.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Yeah, it’s not that Blizzard has any individuals that are bad at their jobs (save maybe most of the writers…!) but that the assets they make are poorly applied, as the music and art generally have been.

    • Deccan says:

      The piece that most impressed me (and it had scads of strong competition) was one of the new Ashenvale themes; sounded like it was right out of a Terrence Malick film.
      Which is quite subtle for Blizzard, given the prevalence of Halo and LotR homages.

    • skalpadda says:

      Yes, the new Tauren theme fits amazingly well, and set the tone wonderfully when I arrived to Southern Barrens from Stonetalon to find what had happened to the poor cowpeople. Some of the Tanaris music is also absolutely gorgeous.

      Had to turn off the Deepholm music though. I don’t want brass instruments blaring at me when I’m trying to chill out and quest, it may be dramatic and all the first time you hear it but it gets tedious fast.

  18. jd.c says:

    I’m enjoying the underwater business as well. They’ve done a nice job.

    In regard to the ganking, it’s almost assuredly not about honor points. Joining a battleground nets honor points hand over fist by the second, even if you just stand there and do nothing. Seeking out lone players in the world is not an efficient approach.

    They’re simply murdering you for kicks.

    • po says:

      Probably because they can’t handle BGs, where they’d have to face equal numbers.

  19. HeroJez says:

    Got to 85 fairly swiftly (although I read most quest text, etc) and unfortunately after that it’s just another gear grind. Are you sure you want to spend another year collecting gear just so you can be in a position to collect more, better gear?

    It just takes such great investment for so little reward. Like “Yay! I got this blue dagger which is better than the one I have.. and it’s blue, so I’ll put a decent enchant on it!”

    And then you’re like: “Hold the phone. I was here in 2007 and 2008 doing the same thing entranced by the same ratio of upgrade years and years ago. What’s changed?”

    I kinda blame achievements. They’ve made everything so completionist and time-sink-crazy.

    • jd.c says:

      MMOs have induced this kind of behavior since long before the advent of achievements, though I have no doubt that they make it even worse.

      Personally, I’ve never been caught up in the end-game gear grab. When a new expansion comes out, I run through the quests and level up the rest of the way, and then I cancel my subscription and wait for the next update. I recommend playing this way! Nobody is forcing you to do anything you don’t want to.

      I’m lazily progressing, spending a lot of time helping lower level people who never got around to hitting 80, and exploring the world to see what the Cataclysm has wrought. It’s fun.

    • Psychopomp says:

      The new 5-mans alone are more than good and challenging enough to be run *for their own fun.*

    • Nalano says:

      I’d like to +1 HeroJez’s analysis: WoW burned me out on MMOs altogether. The moment I discover that some new MMO is using raids or any other endless run for gearing I quit that MMO.

      I understand gear’s prominence in WoW and how its primacy will never fade, due to the way WoW is organized. Thus I can never return to WoW.

      That said, I must disagree with jd.c: The difference, for me, between MMOs and open-world SP RPGs like STALKER or Fallout is the social interaction. I may play a badass in the latter, but I’m famous in the former. Far above all else, that’s what kept me in WoW so long. Too bad the game went stale long before the community did.

    • Eversor says:

      You don’t suddenly get access to the rest of the questing content cut off after hitting 85, you know. There are some storylines that are an absolute must to go through, so stopping questing altogether after the max level is reached is quite silly. Not to even mention that if you just quested, it is very likely you missed out few, if not all of the dungeons. Heroic Deadmines and Shadowfang Keep are also very much worth seeing.

      That’s not even speaking about raiding. Yes, the gear is the motivator, at the end of the day. But it’s just one of many. Overcoming challenge would be a major one just as important (if not more so) as getting that gear. Challenge was severely lacking in the previous expansion for the most part, and the rewards given for running 12 minute “heroics” were incomparably grand. THAT was a grind.

    • HeroJez says:

      Of course, if YOU were in charge of an MMO, how would you run things? It’s so easy for me to say there’s only 600 quests and I’ve caned them all… WTB more. BUT where does that stop. I’d much rather bore underground and go at lightning pace to a boss, unearthing half of Deepholm in the process, that killing 10 rats and then tranquillizing 10 deer. I guess there’s only so much they can put in… and how would it be fun for anyone to keep playing with the same gear? Perhaps, to my detriment, gear meant more than it should have.. but having been mocked and ridiculed by the masses regarding my gear when trying to get into heroics in TBC (which is when I started) maybe it’s a valid soft-spot? Maybe it isn’t.

      Ultimately, millions are happy with WoW, and while iFame and iFortune are things most people might look towards, maybe it’s just an extension of us wanting to save face and be appreciated in general, in real life? That’s all a bit Psychology, I guess. Perhaps one of the greatest hurdles regular gamers struggle to overcome is that WoW can’t be completed. Even if you’re short a Shine, a Star, a Chaos Emerald.. you still have a feeling of completion when you get to the end. I guess the people who got to the Lich King were so enthused and satisfied with their efforts in Northrend that they more than welcomed the challenges of new Azeroth and the Elements.

      More than anything, perhaps I’m just bitter that WoW doesn’t fit my pick-up-and-play, Battlefield-loving, frag-and-forget model. I’m annoyed that I could top a Team Deathmatch scoresheet but not Recount (numbers addon for WoW.) At least not without solid gear, a favourable encounter (boss) mechanic. Perhaps those of us brought up on competitive multiplayer don’t belong in PvE wow. And if you’re going to PvP, why not play a better game?

      Anyway, excuse the rant.

    • Carra says:

      You can still do the new starting zones. Plus the entire 1-60 leveling experience is refreshed. I hope it’s enough to make leveling a new character refreshing again.

      But I’ll probably spend some time in the 5-men instances and end up canceling my subscription. Only to reactivate it in a year and start levelling a new character.

  20. Meneldil says:

    I played one the hardcorderest french PVP server and never got ganked while leveling in BC or WotLK. Nothing like Strangleronce. Now that was nasty, with people with a 10-levels difference being in the same area.

    And bastardly-sneaky-nasty-horrible rogues and droods.

  21. jonfitt says:

    I’ve only played GuildWars and LOTRO in the way of modern MMOs. Can someone explain how death works in WoW? It sounds like he’ describing a situation like Everquest’s old corpse runs?

    • Faldrath says:

      Death only costs you a little bit of time (your “ghost” is teleported to the nearest graveyard, and you have to run back to where your corpse is to resurrect) and money (since your gear takes a bit of damage when you die, unless you’re killed by another player).

    • Al says:

      Nothing in life will ever be as painful as EQ’s corpse-runs. Makes me shudder just thinking about them.

  22. The Hammer says:

    “which is man-made”

    Uh, yes? As opposed to what?

  23. Burc says:

    Fuck… My PYAPAL account just got frozen…

  24. hitnrun says:

    “I know, I know, if you don’t want PVP, don’t join a PVP server… Still, I preferred Lich King’s approach of faction-specific starting zones with natural crossover points.”

    This. I (and I assume, you) chose a PvP server because they played to the fullest capacity of how WoW was originally designed – factional PvP. Horde vs. Alliance. The original world was meticulously constructed to best support this game experience. Not the equivalent of the old antisocial dunce-corner servers from EQ and DAOC.

    The existence of PvE servers does not excuse the lazy, piss-poor level design in the Isle of Quel’Danas and now this expansion. “Horde vs. Alliance” was not supposed to mean “Horde and Alliance on the same side, doing the same quests in the same places for the same people, except they’re constantly stopping each other from completing these vital missions by ganking each other when they’re low on health.”

  25. Q says:

    I don’t think I could switch to a pve server. As it’s been said, I really like solo questing out in Northrend and having that chance to come accross someone from the opposing faction who’s doing the same quests. And in that moment, we can either decide to fight or just chill and finish our quests. Believe it or not, sometimes we choose to quest instead. And sometimes it’s more fun to try and take each other out X3.

    The only thing I really REALLY dislike is when high level players come into the newbie starting zones and off all the quest npcs. And then just sit there, waiting for them to respawn so they can do it all over again. =\ I don’t understand how this is even fun. It takes no skill whatsoever and all you’re doing is being an asshat. It’s an utter waste of time.

    That being said, I haven’t gotten to 80-85 yet, but I was watching my boyfriend quest and there were probably 3 little green alliance names in a sea of horde. =\

    Doesn’t that seem a little broken?

  26. GHudston says:

    I cannot wait until you write up the new instances!

    The normal dungeons have forced everyone to make use of things like crowd control again and I have yet to actually complete a heroic. The heroics especially are more like 5 man raids than dungeons, they are near impossible right now and I love it!

  27. nichevo says:

    PvP is alright.

    Mind you, I rarely play alone, so anyone wishing to inflict harm on me has to contend with between one and four others. Safety in numbers is improved, but not guaranteed.

    The best thing about PvP is baiting the gankers. I’ve tried many variations of this, but it usually revovles around presenting an easy target to the opposing faction (in my case they’re Alliance) and having others hide nearby (either in stealth or mounted up just out of sight-range). The Alliance who emote and muck around have the same visited back on them. The ones who kill are killed in return, and often camped.

    It’s also very satisfying to come to the rescue of other players who ask for help with gankers. (Though I wonder how many of these are actually gankers themselves who just failed? I like to think they’re the minority.)

    To anyone out there who likes PvP, but would prefer it to be occasional rather than constant, I can suggest a few things. Play with low population servers — either ones that are low population anyway, or play during off-peak times (considering that all servers are in the US anyway, leveaging the Oceanic/US difference can help with that without affecting ping). Or play on an RP PvP server — the RP part scares off PvP sociopaths and the PvP part scares off RP nutters.

    • skalpadda says:

      The server time thing won’t work in Europe though, as the servers are located in France, Germany and Sweden, and we’re all in the same time zone, give or take an hour.