Ahh, the life of an Iraqi farmer. According to WoW player FallenWolf, currently deployed in Iraq with the U.S. Army (FSC, 7th Engineer Battalion), farming is about all most U.S. military WoW players there can reliably expect to accomplish. Desert sand and insta-cast DoTs have not proven to be particularly compatible for this former (and soon-to-be returning) raiding warlock. We visited with FallenWolf about how he's managed to adapt to being halfway across the world from his guild and his wife (a frequent WoW partner), plus how he copes with an awkward schedule and ugly latency.
Main character FallenWolf
Server US Anetheron-A
15 Minutes of Fame: We hear that a deployment is a long, hard grind for a WoW-playing soldier. How long have you been overseas? When will you be coming home?
FallenWolf: I've currently been deployed for about 11 months now; about a month left of the "sand box."
What are conditions like where you're living?
Currently I'm living in what we call a chu, which is a metal container that has been modified into rooms. I share it with a roommate. It is not all that bad ... Enough space for a each person to have a bed, a wall locker and night stand, plus a little bit of personal space.
What about an Internet connection? What sort of reliability do you have there?
Internet connection is a 128Kbs connection. Reliability is OK; if a wind or a sandstorm comes through, expect for it to go down. Latency is the biggest issue. Honestly, last time I was deployed, I ran off of a 56k modem connection and the latency was a hell of a lot better. But the network is shared bandwidth on this network, so once everyone starts getting off of work, it comes to a grinding halt.
To makes things extremely fun, every time a patch comes out for WoW, it usually takes me all day to download the patch and normally, the Blizzard updater times out. I have moved to downloading the patch off of mirror sites with download managers in case it times out, so I can pick back up where I left off.
(I've) been around to a few different COB(Combat Operation Base)/FOB(Forward Operation Base) in Iraq. Depending where you are, some bases offer up to 512k connection, which is nice; you can actually pull off a few heroics with decent latency. A few people I have met out here that play purchased an AirCard (a 3G PCI card) before they left and found themselves in a populated enough area to get a local SIM card for it. They say it's enough to truly play causally and maybe even pull off a 10-man raid. Unfortunately, I was not so lucky.
Before I deployed, I was hardcore to casual raiding depending on work hours. Primarily raiding with <Unsung> but still floating into a few PUG raids here and there.
What about now -- how has being deployed changed how you spend your time in game? What factors have affected your game play?
Having bad latency with WoW at first sucked, causing a major change in playstyle. I found myself waking up early so I would not see 5k+ latency. Early in the morning, I normally saw about 1.5k latency.
So between my main toon Fallenwolf (warlock) and my alt Fallensorrow (DK tank), I found tanking with 1.5k to truly be a new challenge and was unable to do heroics (but normal instances were OK). DPS affliction spec was weird and frustrating, watching it take 5-30 seconds to cast my instant-cast DoTs ><.
I started to avoid all instances and began the long hours of farming. I maxed my jewelcrafting on my DK and farmed more ore like crazy. I turned all my eternals into rings to be disenchanted by my warlock, then prospected all the ore with my DK. With all these raw materials, I sent them all to my bank alt and put her to work in the AH. With all the gold that was brought in, I managed to buy my wife a motorcycle mount, my warlock the Tundra vendor mount :D and my wife numerous vanity pets. I don't even want to think about how many hours I spent farming.
(As far as guilds go, my former guild) <Unsung> merged with another guild a couple of weeks before I deployed. Instead of putting in a toon that had a chance of being inactive, I dropped guild.
Do you play with other guys there with you?
I have a few friends who play WoW out here with me, though they do just about what I do: farm, farm and farm. One of my friends managed to get himself a Tundra mount and two motorcycle mounts.
Your wife's also a WoW player, isn't that right?
My wife plays a priest, the main reason why I leveled a DK and turned it into a tank. But primarily my wife plays casual to altaholic, so I spend a lot of time running her through low-level instances or going on guild runs with her so she knows the tank. She avoids raiding mainly because of the drama or the failing attempts to down a boss, or listening to the DPS scream for heals 'cause they pulled off the tank. She loves her heroics, though. Since I've been deployed, she moved to a social guild and has been living it up from there.
Currently, playing with my wife does not happen too often unless she is grabbing me on my DK and running through an instance early, early in the morning. It's great 'cause we mainly do it with her guildies, who understand I'm deployed with latency issues -- though it still sucks when I get DCed and come back in to see the group all dead, or extremely funny seeing my tank held the boss while I was DCed and the group killed it. Most of the time when that happens, they do not even know I DCed.
When I get back state-side, I'm building me a new desktop computer. The sand finally took my laptop's life last week, so I'm having to use my work computer to check emails now. Also, the great part is the friends I made during deployment that play WoW are all transferring to Anetheron-A, and we are starting a raiding guild, <AWOL>. We have already created the guild and plan to start recruiting and gearing out by mid-June.
"I never thought of playing WoW like that!" -- neither did we, until we talked with these players. From an Oscar-winning 3-D effects director to a rising pop singer ... from a quadriplegic player to a bunch of guys who get together for dinner and raiding in person every week.