The Rogue Question

One type of item that drops in Classic but not in the live game - and that isn't common in more modern MMORPGs in general - is the lockbox. And I know that as soon as you read that word your mind probably went to what gamers have come to associate with the term in recent years, which is microtransactions with uncertain outcomes, but I'm actually talking about old-school lockboxes, which is to say items that are simply locked containers that need opening in the world, either via the lockpicking skill or use of a key.

I'm always a bit conflicted when I end up finding/winning one of these, because I know they are a hassle to deal with that probably won't be worth the reward, but at the same time I hate to vendor anything that has a use, not to mention that vendors only pay an absolute pittance compared to even the cheapest drop you're likely to get if you were to actually open the box (presumably to give you an incentive to open them).

Keys are technically accessible to all (though they require crafting by blacksmiths), however the way the material cost of crafting them works out compared to the rewards from the boxes they can open, it doesn't appear to be a good business model to buy or sell them.

Ideally I'd love to just put every box I find on the auction house - presumably some rogue somewhere would be quite happy to make a profit while levelling their lockpicking skill - but alas, "you can't auction lootable items".

So that just leaves the option of finding a rogue. I used to just wait until I'd end up in a dungeon group with one, at which point asking them to please pick a lock while the mage distributes water or whatever feels like a natural part of the grouping dynamics. The only problem with this has been that rogues don't seem to like dungeoneering very much and I only encounter them in my groups quite rarely compared to how commonly they are played, which means that any lockbox can end up sitting in my inventory for quite a length of time before I get to open it, taking up precious bag space in the meantime.

More recently I've taken to just doing a /who rogue Ironforge whenever I'm in town myself and then looking around the Commons for a suitable target, which never takes very long. I then politely whisper them to ask if they would mind opening a lockbox for me, and I've actually never had a negative reply to this (though I think a couple of times I've whispered people who were AFK).

It still makes me somewhat unreasonably anxious though. I'm not at all shy when it comes to approaching people about grouping up, but something about bothering a rogue about a lockbox just feels... different. I can never help but remember having read one too many rants from people feeling pestered by strangers wanting to use their class's services (also see mages re: portals and water). To make up for any imagined transgressions, I try to always give an appropriate tip (appropriate to my level that is... if I'm on a lowbie alt I just don't have that much money to give away). Of course what happens then is that I open the box and the contents are actually worth less than the money I just spent on opening it; though I've got a little better at judging how much of a tip I can reasonably give without going negative even if the drop from the box is not great.

I do remember all of this being a non-issue back in the day when I had friends who played rogues - they were usually happy for me to just send them any boxes I found in the mail, and they would unlock and return them to me free of charge. I remember one rogue in my old guild also tended to include funny little RP-style notes about how each lock had been challenging in particular ways.

Ultimately, I don't know how I feel about this mechanic playing as more of a loner these days. It is interesting in many ways, but in others I also find it bothersome. What about you?


A Quiet Month & Arathi Basin

As you may have been able to deduce from the fact that I haven't actually posted about anything Classic in over a month, I haven't been playing it very much recently. It's not that I lost interest in the game or anything, but as I've learned in the past, I'm just not really able to devote time to more than two MMORPGs at a time, even in these exceptional times of having extra gaming hours available. I may still try to play as many as three simultaneously, but ultimately something always slides onto the back burner, and for the past month this has been WoW.

Right now its fortunes seem to be on the rise again however, as I recently finished the latest campaign in Neverwinter and don't currently feel motivated to spend all that much time on alts there, meaning that my playtime in that is likely to drop off again soon. Plus with all the (sometimes quite hectic) running of group content I've been doing in SWTOR, logging on my hunter to just grind some mobs in Tanaris has been positively relaxing in comparison.

That said, the only really noteworthy thing to report about my Classic activity in the past month or so has been that I tried out Arathi Basin. My hunter was approaching the end of level 49, and this seemed like a good time to have another go at a bit of midbie PvP, especially since I had fond memories of AB.

I'll admit that I was thoroughly wrong about that one. Or as someone in my most recent instance pug said in a completely different context: "Your opposite faction memories are bleeding through." Just like the map design of the original Alterac Valley quite clearly favoured the Alliance, classic AB gives an advantage to the Horde because of how much easier it is to defend the farm-blacksmith-lumbermill triangle than the corresponding Alliance mirror. In fact, I did have flashbacks to happier days in Cataclysm and how my rated battleground team would stand poised at the crossroads between the three bases to rush to the defence of any of them at a moment's notice.

This is not Cataclysm though, and I'm not playing Horde. Or in other words: With Alliance already having a reputation for being rubbish at PvP in Classic, having that situation exacerbated by the map design just resulted in a complete shitshow. We didn't simply lose all three matches that I played, but got completely roflstomped every single time. I think at one point we were even five-capped. It was... not very fun and left me with no desire to queue for AB again.

For all the things I love about Classic, I really don't think that PvP is one of its strong points, and I think I'll continue to scratch that particular itch in SWTOR instead. In Azeroth, I'll be back to chilling out while grinding bug parts.