A Gnome's Life

Every now and then the WoW blogosphere is good for some in-game laughs. First there was Single Abstract Noun, the bloggers' guild (is that still going?), then there were the Real ID heroics (which I didn't write a separate post about, but I did participate), and now the latest craze are gnome clones, originally inspired by a nostalgic post by Alas.

Since I had yet to try out the new gnome starter area anyway, I decided to join in the fun as a gnome clone "impostor" (copying the look but rolling up a warrior, so I won't be able to be a fully armoured clone). While I've been playing a lot of alts this expansion, I mostly used already existing characters that had simply been sitting around at level twenty or so pre-Cataclysm; I haven't actually done a lot of levelling from one to ten. But holy crap, Nils wasn't kidding when he said that those first ten levels were hardcore!

I started off being confused by what was only the second or third quest in the gnome starter area. After I'd just made my way out of a gnome refugee camp, I was told to save some more survivors that couldn't make it on their own. "Okay, that makes sense!" I thought and went back to save all those injured gnomes that were lying on the floor. Nope, couldn't target them or they came up as "invalid target". Turns out that I was supposed to "save" some perfectly healthy and only slightly scared gnomes that were standing around outside. O-kay?

Not much later I was told to ask for a teleport to the surface. Why teleport when there's a perfectly serviceable elevator right next to me? Fortunately a vague memory reasserted itself to tell me that taking the lift would not be a good idea before I could do anything foolish.

At level three a warrior quest rewarded me with a Very Light Sabre. Yes, I know... cheap joke. But I really loved it!

In a cave full of troggs I had my first death as early as level... was it four or five? A rogue in full heirlooms had just mowed everything down in front of me, and then all the mobs respawned at once and I was buried under a pile of troggs. It's as if the game wanted to teach me early on that the presence of other players was only going to cause me headaches.

Getting Victory Rush at level five increased my survivability a lot, though I learned quickly that its use is limited when it comes to casters. Nothing like dying at the feet of the second Frostmane Seer that's attacking you a mere second before you manage to run over and hit it. That was death number two. On a side note, I'm impressed that the Frostmane trolls have survived as long as they have, considering that they appear to live on nothing but weed and fight by throwing snowballs at you.

Then there was the cave with the wendigos. I managed to overlook one of the quest NPCs near the entrance and (unnecessarily) went all the way to the back of the cave in search of him. However, I found something else there, a rare! Acutely aware of my vulnerability, I made sure to clear the mobs around him before attacking, but once I charged him I found to my dismay that he still had quite a lot of health relative to my puny damage output. So I died, again.

Since it had been quite a close affair, I immediately ran back in to try again, and this time managed to get him down with literally one hitpoint left on my own character. More exciting than any raid boss kill these days if you ask me!

I had one more death when I was asked to kill a yeti called Vagash. Non-elite, no adds... no biggie, right? Well, maybe if you have heirlooms, but as a warrior in whites he kicked my arse, and in a very thorough fashion. I went back to my trainer to pick up Thunder Clap, which I hadn't done yet, in hopes that this would help - though I'm not sure it would have, considering how I hadn't even come close to killing him before. Fortunately I was saved from any further embarrassment as I ran into a random gnome priest upon my return to the cave, who tentatively threw a heal on me and looked at me in what I interpreted as a hopeful manner. We grouped up and it was easy peasy. I couldn't help but wonder whether he hadn't got his arse kicked before as well.

Then I hit level ten, picked up prot spec, and the next cave I went into seemed to hold no threat to me at all. I also dinged eleven before I even knew it. I guess the really exciting levels are over. Still, I'm looking forward to seeing where the project as a whole goes.

On the whole, this starter zone was amazingly fun! The only thing that marred the experience ever so slightly for me was the how-to-use-the-flight-master quest line, which still told me that I couldn't fly anywhere where I hadn't been before (flat out not true anymore), and the quest text couldn't seem to decide on what exactly it was that I was transporting for the dwarves, as it alternated between cleavers and mining picks every other sentence. Okay, it's kind of fun to joke about dwarves cooking with mining picks, but really? That's one of those things that I would have expected them to have fixed nearly a year after release.


  1. One of the reasons the first levels as Warrior (and eg Rogues) are comparatively hardcore (hardcore compared to the rest of the levelling game) is that they've made some alterations over time that don't mesh up anymore.

    Besides a batch of Gnomes, I recently levelled this Undead Warrior to 10 http://eu.battle.net/wow/en/character/earthen-ring/Makhilda/simple

    Even when pulling more than one mob, I only died to the Needler (lvl 9 rare) at level 7 (killed him at 8, where I got the cloak). I didn't use nameplates, addons, macro's, sticky targetting or anything else (including Herbalism, which now grants Lifeblood even at skill 1)

    What has changed:
    - the starting mobs don't drop Armor as much as they used to do (compare the new starter zones with the Belf/Draenei, and one should notice the difference), meaning fewer slots with armor unless you visit the Vendor.

    Note that the faster XP rates also mean less incentive to kill a few mobs in hopes of getting Armor drops.

    - since late WotLK, Warriors start with a two-hander instead of the more defensive 'sword-and-board'.

    This worked when late WotLK removed Hostile mobs from the starter zones (no risk of pulling more than one mob), but Cata brought Hostiles back.

    Add to this that, unless you visit the Vendor, your Warrior will be walking around in only a few pieces of Mail and no armor in the other slots, and you end up with a 'glass canon' and hence high mortality.

    Be glad btw you didn't run into the Rare Troll in those Trogg caves, he kicked my Gnomees but good :P

  2. I had a similar experience as I levelled up my gnome clone as a Mage. With no heirlooms the game suddenly is a lot more difficult. I've not played a starting zone without heirlooms for a very long time, and I was somewhat surprised by how difficult it is.

    I still get my ass handed to me if I pull too many at level 15. But at least by now I can freeze them and run off!

    I ran into a rare troll inside those caves at early levels and died probably 5 times before he finally patrolled away so I could get to the quest mob.

    Later on I went to Elwynn, and the murlocs still gang up on you and kill you. It's like you've not had the "real" newbie experience until you've been killed by a posse of murlocs.

  3. It's more like Heirlooms are grossly OP, and seem to have made people careless, especially as sadly too many aren't that aware of the 'twink-in-a-can' factor they bring (and that with eg the huge chunk of spellpower looms bring, perfectly normal geared Tanks can have threat issues that aren't their fault) and what power they actually carry.

    In level-based games opponents of a similar level are supposed to be a threat, certainly in numbers. That's nothing odd or too difficult.

    Pre Cata, twinks could very comfortably engage mobs five levels above them (more with weapon types as Miss% on spellcasters ramps up more quickly), post-Cata this got much worse (I pretty much stopped paying the game because the new Talent builds meant e.g. my lvl 10 loomless twink Warrior could solo the whole 'Barrens beastmastery' Questline including the named 'Rares', and my then-level 19 similarly geared Paladin could even comfortably engage the melee Bloodsails in STV due to the broken WoG mechanic; the destruction of The Shattering was basically the final straw).

    So in Cata, loomed toons could/should actually comfortably engage opponents at least five levels above them to be at the 'right' balance point (esp. considering the extra Hit the Head/Back looms bring) - but most don't do that, and thereby get odd expectations about mobs and the game.

    TLDR: the game isn't hard, it's just stupid easy if you play twinked toons vs simple on-level content iso appropriate content

    most people in 20-24 run F2P toons, meaning that 24 P2P toons have access to gear and levels that most don't. That puts kind of a stinker on the only justification that exists for twinking ('everybody can get this gear').
    And GL on the Charged Gear, it isn't as awful as the Dark Iron Relic Coffers but not exactly as easy as getting looms on a capped toon.

  4. @Anonymous #1: That might be it, though I find it hard to imagine a few points of armour making that much of a difference. My own gnome wore her starter cloth chest until level 9 because she didn't get any mail from drops or quest rewards. Also, maybe more importantly, when I hit level 10 and switched to sword and board, I realised that the white one-hander I had picked up had twice the dps of my green light sabre. If you don't replace weapons quickly during the first few levels, it shows.

    @Saga: Wow, that rare troll sounds like a real monster! And I'm glad to hear that murlocs still make a newbie's life hard, I think they've become a bit too friendly in the past couple of expansions. That's exactly a post idea I've been considering, the changing face of murlocs throughout the levels!

    @Anonymous #2: The problem is, the game doesn't really support engaging higher level mobs anymore as orange and red difficulty quests don't exist anymore. If you want to level by questing at all, you simply don't get a choice other than to fight same-level mobs or lower.

    Also, I've mostly levelled characters without heirlooms since the Shattering, and from 20-60, same-level mobs still fell over easily even in random levelling gear. The 1-10 experience on a new character does feel significantly different in that regard.

    I believe the 20-24 bracket was chosen intentionally simply because the presence of the F2P players would decrease queue times. That aside, I don't think that unfair domination is the goal; it's more about being silly together at low levels.

  5. Sounds like you had a great time leveling recently. I agree with what someone else said as per warriors and rogues. They are still a little iffy at low levels until you get some gear.

    I said to a friend while leveling a new troll druid on Area 52 last week, there are so many dead bodies all over the place.

    Perhaps it is just because of my experience in the game that makes it so much easier for me. Even with no heirlooms I find it nearly impossible to die unless I do something wrong.

    Looking at all the troll bones all over the starting area I can't really say the same for everyone else.

    Every starting area I have been to seems to have bones and dead bodies of people that never released all over the place.

    I would love, for the sake of curiosity, to know if they are new players that gave up or alts that where doing something because they where bored and just ended up deleting the character after they died.

    Your story was humorous. I remember the times when leveling when you would be standing at the entrance to a cave with some huge bear in it and hoping that someone on the same quest would come by because that pile of bones in front of the bear where all yours.

    When someone popped by you where so happy. You made a friend. In some cases someone that you kept in touch with and still remain friends.

    The bonding over that dead bears body, even if you never talk to that person again, lasts forever in your mind.

    Those where some great quests and thanks for the reminder that leveling can indeed still fun, in the starting area at least.

    The sad part is, once you enter the open world, you will rarely ever see another person again.

    Do all those people really quit after doing the starting area? Because I don't see them when out questing.

  6. I rolled a gnome holy priest not long ago, mainly because I've never played the holy tree and I was curious about the chakra mechanism (although seems a bit of a headache deciding which chakra to use). Also I wanted to check if playing as holy out of a dungeon was as hard as it seems. I don't remember the starter area that hard, maybe because I'm ranged and with a good survivality, but being holy priest the dps arsenal is rather limited, although at low level everyone is in the same situation pretty much.
    I feel anyone who didn't play the Operation: Gnomereggan may be a bit lost. And after completing the starter quests it's depressing to go back to an almost empty place, but aside that it was pretty ok. What I found horrible is the item rewards from quests, specially weapons. I was running at level 40 with the staff you get at low level... and getting something decent from AH was nearly impossible: either no weapons posted or with crazy prices (50 or 100g for a shitty level 30 staff!)

  7. I rolled another F2P Undead Warrior, same as the previous 'sword and board' except for sticking to the two-hander option (the Herbalism I only used for tracking Quest items, the missile weapon - normally used for pulling - I didn't use this time, either)


    The game definitely got more lethal, especially the moment two mobs engaged me at the same time, I died once on normal mob (groups)(the Rotbrains) and groupfights could have easily resulted in another death (literally one extra hit - or a previous crit - would have killed me). Sadly the Needler was slain a minute before I could engage him so I couldn't test this.

    I am unsure wether you start out with Block, but it seems to be, and in general at low levels scaling is tremendous (one of the reasons level 10 Twinks used to be able to take on level 19 Twinks even before the resilience boost of 4.0) so ostentably a few points of Armor can make quite a difference (which is one of the reasons Heirlooms are too effective, especially because the Plate/Mail ones and the Mail/Leather ones provide the higher armor value of the 40+ armor type, ie level 10's in Valor walk around in Plate Armor numbers)

    I hear you completely on the removal of Orange+ 'world' Quests, and as I suggested elsewhere, lowering the minimum level of 'old World' outdooor Quests (including the fake Class Quests; the iLevels of the rewards are way too low for the min level atm) by five levels would allieviate a lot of issues with Cata levelling ('out--Greying', lack of challenge, lack of choice) and early level PvP (Quest rewards would matter more). Nils however isn't quite convinced ;)

    You don't have to play in 24 Twink premades to participate in BG's were 99&% of the people are level 20's constrained by Starter Edition limitations:
    - max level 20;
    - no AH (so BoE's have to be farmed & Craftables self-created);
    - no Trading;
    - no Professions above 100 (so stuff like +15 Health, +1 Weapon Damage is the highest attainable) ;
    - no /say with level 30+ and chat functions;
    - no self-inniated Grouping (obviously affecting the ability to premade);

    'Old-skool' twinking was at least in theory possible for the other participants, 24 Twinking obviously isn't.

    Running lvl 20 P2P premades would already give a lot of advantages compared to others and allow for running a bunch of Gnome premades (even though my Gnomees don't need premades to be fun) , going level 24 'just for fun' is deterimental to others and only 'fun' and 'necessary' if you want to dominate.

    (And I couldn't help but notice the 'Punt This!' screenshots didn't show any similarly geared Gnomes - wasn't that the prime idea?)

    Look, you seem to be a nice person, I wouldn't bring this up if I thought you were the typical 24-running douchebag and hence explaining things would be no use.

  8. Almost forgot:

    Starter Edition toons can't use Mailboxes.

    This includes preventing things like recieving Quest items (eg the Bloodmyst 'ghostcaptain quest'letter), Satchels of Usefull Goods send by the Postmaster because of lack of Bagspace, even recieving stuff Battlenet-accoutn wide items you've already paid for (Sparkleponies, Collector Edition Pets, etc.).

    (and of course obviously affects item-acquisition in general)

  9. NetherLands, I really appreciate your insights, but I've been struggling to think of a good way to respond to your comments since you seem very set in your opinion that anyone who locks XP at 24 must be a jerk who just wants to pwn poor trial account players, and I get the impression that there is nothing that I can say to convince you otherwise. I'll probably write another post on the subject eventually. In the meantime let it just be known that I've been joining 20-24 locked bgs on my own - in unenchanted gear - all the 20s have about as much health as me, and I'm the one who's getting pwned a lot because hunters and mages can keep me at range forever and I have no interrupts to prevent people from healing. But that hasn't stopped me from having fun. ;)