A little while back, I figured the new sub-level 20 “free” World of Warcraft to be a way to get a taste of the vaunted “endgame” of an MMO, since a level-capped free trial character is effectively progress-locked on the ol’ leveling treadmill. Their only progress comes from gear hunting, reputation grinds, PvP honor grinding, collecting, achievements and other assorted busywork. Since then, I’ve been playing intermittently with my new Dwarven Paladin, Thumpin.
Perhaps ironically, Thumpin’s best weapons have only rarely been maces. He has gotten the most use out of axes, and indeed, his present weapon of choice is an axe; either the Cold Iron Pick or the Razor’s Edge. It’s been fun having a Dwarf whose apparent “best in slot” two handed weapon is a mining pick. It just feels so right.
At any rate, perhaps half the time I’ve been playing this character has been when he’s at level 20. I’ve been chasing incremental upgrades to his gear, some from quests, some from world drops, some from dungeons. It’s been an interesting scavenger hunt, driven by the Wowhead database, inspired by Psynister’s “Trial Account Twinking” commentary. It’s been interesting… but ultimately kinda, well… dumb. I could never persist in the real“endgame” raiding scene.
It’s all about the ends; finding the stuff that make my numbers go up. I’m just not all that motivated or entertained by that quest (though I’ll readily concede that it’s a perfectly valid way to play, it just doesn’t do much for me). The actual gameplay hasn’t been anything inherently different from just playing the game (including occasional dungeoneering as I usually do), except that it’s a bit more targeted now instead of just playing as the flow takes me.
One notable exception has been hunting for the “best in slot” Foreman’s Leggings. It’s been pretty mindless, as they drop from one baddie hiding in an armpit of the pre-dungeon Deadmines. That’s where I got the Cold Iron Pick (and a Petrified Shinbone and the Skeletal Gauntlets, several copies each, actually, as well as a fair dose of ore that the ghouls drop… a potentially viable alternative to mining, actually), but since the ‘Leggings only drop from one unique, semi-rare foe, it starts to feel like a quarter of Thumpin’s life has been in that little pocket of the world. I gave it a good shot, I really did, but I can only do that for so long.
So, I’ve gone back to my world-traveling ways. I’m making the rounds in Darnassus and Darkshore, then I’ll go to the Exodar and the neighboring islands. I kinda want to get a Night Elf kitty to ride (hence the Darnassus tabard for reputation grinding in dungeons), as I love absurd mount/character mismatches. I feel like I’m adventuring again, going where the action takes me, rather than hunting for numbers. Of course, I’d rather be flying, but hey, free players can’t have it all, or so they say.
I also almost wish I’d done this on a Role Playing realm, so I could really play the “one-eyed miner Dwarf” schtick to the hilt. Then again, I have a lot of other games I’d rather play, so I’m really going to just leave Thumpin in limbo and imagine that he’s off, having grand adventures, making his way through the world with his pick in hand, belting out a hearty drinking song as he crushes skulls and collects ore. What more does a Dwarf need?