Monday, May 16, 2005

Byte: So bad, so good

Inspired by the hilarity of Leroy, I spent a considerable amount of time on World of Warcraft at the weekend.

I'm still only a fairly lowly Level 22, however, which makes me very easy prey in Contested Areas. After spending quite a lot of time on Sunday being "ganked" (i.e. killed by characters of much greater level), hitting Level 22 was a particularly sweet moment. You see, Shareth (my main character) is a Druid. At Level 20 they can shapechange into the Cat form (essentially a huge black panther), and at Level 22, you can buy the Prowl ability. At 27 Silver, it's not particularly cheap, but last night it proved to be worth every Copper. Prowling is a stealth ability, which reduces your movement rate to 60% of normal, but makes you invisible unless you attack something.

I'm doing a couple of quests in the contested Stonetalon Mountains, and I'm having to be wary, because it's crawling with Level 30+ Horde and I don't want to spent all night retrieving my corpse. I'm just killing off a huge rock lizard, so that I can farm some leather, when suddenly I see this Level 28 Tauren Shaman. He sees me, and comes charging in to attack. I'm no fool. I know I don't stand a chance, so I scarper behind a tree, shapechange into Cat form and Prowl. He comes charging around the tree and... just stops. I can see him thinking "WTF? Where did he go?" I wait around for a couple of minutes, keeping my distance, and I see he's called in friends. An Undead Warlock and Troll Rogue (both around Level 30) turn up, and they start hunting for me. Of course, I'm Prowling. They can't see me, and I'm having a chuckle to myself whilst they scour the area for something they're not going to find.

I slink off after about five minutes of watching them scrabble around fruitlessly, and start to head back to safer territory, because this place is just too hot to be in alone, and none of my guild or other friends are online to team up with. On my way, I stop off at the logging yard in Windshear Crag, to polish off a quest I started earlier, and things start to get really busy. A Level 19 Tauren Warrior is hammering away at a Pridewing (a bizarre cross between a lion and a flying squirrel) and taking quite a lot of damage. I decide to give him a helping hand. To the graveyard, naturally. I wait until he finishes off the Pridewing, and then ambush him before he can heal. A quick shapechange, Starfire, Wrath and Moonfire later, and he's gone. I feel justified in that I had the same thing done to me less than an hour earlier (by a Level 30 Rogue), and boy, does it feel good. I don't get an honour kill for it, but then I didn't really gank him either, so I didn't get a dishonour point either.

A few minutes after that, and the whole logging yard is Horde Central. Just as well that I'm already prowling again, because there's a dozen of the buggers going about slaughtering the goblins in the logging yard, on a huge rampage. They've come back through the tunnel from the Ashenvale Forest, and they look in a bad mood, moving slowly and killing everything in sight. Presumably they've just had their arses kicked in Astranaar, which is the major battleground in my part of the Warcraft World at the moment. Earlier in the day, I'd gotten 19 honour kills in an awesome hour long fight outside Astranaar, with about 30 players on each side. Not bad, considering I was a good 10 levels below most of the Horde characters.

Anyway, I've still got about 4 Deforesters to kill, so I stay stealthed and bide my time, waiting for them to move on. Leaving a carpet of dead bodies behind them, the Horde make their way slowly down the valley, moving off into the distance. Somewhat relieved, I give the place a quick scout to see if any Horde are still about before resuming my quest. There's still a Level 18 Rogue and a Level 21 Mage lurking around, sensibly sticking together, because Contested Territory is a dangerous place. They're too much for me to take on alone, so I play a bit of hide and seek, using my stealthed Cat Form to sneak around and off a couple of Deforesters out of sight of the two Horde players.

I'm working my way around the logging hut in the middle of the valley, keeping an eye on the Rogue and the Mage, when I see two other Alliance Members (one a Paladin and the other a Warrior, both at Level 20) on the opposite side of the hut from the two Horde. I stay stealthed, but whisper a warning to one of the Alliance players, that there are two enemies of levels similar to theirs' in the area. Within seconds, my two allies run off to engage them. They've just about got the balance of power, and battle is joined. The Horde Rogue lays into the Paladin, with a couple of high damage combos, and the Pally starts to feel the heat. It's a this point I give the Rogue the surprise of a lifetime, and start laying into him, coming out of my Prowl right behind his back. Three against two, and the battle's a foregone conclusion. I shapechange back to my normal form, so that I can cast spells again, and the Rogue gets a fatal Wrath blast right in the back, as he scarpers for cover. Then I turn my attention to the Mage. A quick blast of Faerie Fire takes down his armour, and the Night Elf Warrior just hacks him to pieces in short order.

Much exchanging of smilies ensues.

Of course, I don't get any honour points for it, but I can at least finish off my quest and head back to safer environs in peace... I did feel a little evil, suddenly leaping out and surprising this pair of poor Horde, but not for long. It's not like they wouldn't have done the same to me. It may be quite bad and on the boundaries of social acceptability for an MMORPG, but when you get your own back like that, boy, it does feel so good.
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