I didn't think that I considered the daily emblem grind on my various alts a chore, since I still enjoy running instances despite of the repetition - but it's funny how quickly those emblems became (at least for now) uninteresting when I was suddenly presented with a fun-looking alternative way of spending my in-game time, also known as Tamarind's guild experiment. In other words, as soon as I read about it, I hopped over to Argent Dawn and created a little tauren shaman there to join Single Abstract Noun.
The guild, so far, feels like one of those unique social environments that you only seem to get on the internet - where people know each other yet don't, and it's mind-boggingly easy to have a good time with people who for all intents and purposes you don't really know, but you know that you all like WoW, and you know that you like to think and write about it, and you know that there are real people behind the avatars - and somehow that's enough.
It's also been a long time since I created a new alt, and even longer since I did so on a server where I didn't have any higher-level characters yet. As such I was quite surprised by a lot of things that I vaguely recalled skimming in recent patch notes but that I then didn't pay further attention to, like the new and improved tutorials for new players. I didn't need them of course but I couldn't be bothered to find the option to turn them off, plus I thought it was vaguely interesting to see what Blizzard had to say to new players these days. Most of their "tips" seem glaringly obvious to someone who's played for a while, and my boyfriend and I spent some time gently mocking some of the advice we received ("What, I can use the WASD keys to move while swimming too? Amazing!"), but I do think that they are a good addition for people truly new to the genre, and they tend to pop up at the appropriate moments. For example I got a warning that my bags were nearly full when I only had two or three free slots left, and another when they actually were full, advising me to see a vendor soon.
Another noticably useful change is the increased mana and health regeneration for low levels. I can actually move from one mob to the next without having to pause most of the time, and if I get in trouble by over-aggroing and find myself forced to run, I actually regenerate enough mana while running that I'll often be able to get one more spell off while running, which has saved my little shaman's life more than once already. It's easy to forget how difficult life can be at low levels, when you only have a two or three abilities in total and no cooldowns to use to compensate for mess-ups. The increased regen definitely helps though.
And finally... the neutral mobs! This was a funny issue that I saw get brought up by someone in guild chat literally every other hour (myself included). There has always been a bit of a "safe zone" around the spawning points for new characters, with the first and second level mobs in the area being neutral, so nobody ends up stumbling to their death before they've even figured out the movement controls. However, many of us didn't know that this "safe zone" had been expanded to include whole starter areas - which isn't a problem per se, but felt very strange when superimposed on stories that were originally written with hostile mobs in mind. Go slay those evil quillboar that threaten us! Except... they totally don't, they are minding their own business and bother no-one. In fact I felt pretty evil wandering into the middle of their village unharmed and then assassinating their leader. Aren't we supposed to be the good guys here? Other starter zones drew similarly bizarre pictures, with those magically transformed mobs in Eversong not actually harming anyone, and the Burning Blade being a bunch of nice chaps that are just fond of hanging out in caves in Durotar. One more thing for the "I hope Cataclysm will fix this" list, I guess!
Man Up or Manual - Comparing Diablo-clones
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