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15 Minutes of Fame: The most untalented player


15 Minutes of Fame is our look at World of Warcraft players of all shapes and sizes – from the renowned to the relatively anonymous, the remarkable to the player next door. Tip us off to players you'd like to hear more about.

We admit to developing a soft spot for hard-headed, level-80-by-hook-or-crook metagamers like Noor the pacifist and Gweryc the melee Hunter. How can you resist this much sheer creative enthusiasm? These guys undercut their own characters just to see if they can manage without: without killing anything, without wearing any armor – and now, without training any talents.

Lithiumflowr of Bronze Dragonflight-EU started making plans for his second Hunter not long after dinging level 80 with his first. But this time, he had an investigation to conduct: At a time when epic-length forum threads split hairs over moving a single point between trees, what would be the effect of going 0/0/0? How could he compensate for a lack of talents? Could he compensate at all?

Evidently, he's compensating rather well. Lithiumflowr is humming right along, moving into Burning Crusade with an eye on level 80. He may be the most untalented player you've ever seen – but he's definitely no Huntard.

15 Minutes of Fame: Ok, Lith, you've got some 'splaining to do. Why level all the way to 80 with 0/0/0?
Lithiumflowr: The thing that originally set me off on the project was wondering how much difference talent points actually make. Sure, there're comparisons and discussions of different specs, but nothing that answered that for me. So I decided to find out the hard way. I chose a Hunter because I enjoy it, but also for fair comparison.

To begin with, my goal was to see how far I could get 0/0/0 before it became unplayable. I hit level 35, realized I was still doing fine and changed my goal to "How fast can I make the level cap?"

I knew it was going to be hard and only get harder as I got further. The blog rose out of that, to help me focus on the task and, with support, keep going. Without the support I've had from guildmates and others, I'd have quit a long time ago. (On that note, thanks to Terminal Velocity Gaming for taking me on, following the collapse of my previous guild. A good guild really helps.)

So how's BC content coming along?
58-60 went insanely fast, what with the pre-BC XP requirements and the BC quest/kill XP. Hellfire Peninsula's a good zone -- not the best, but it does have the Fel Reavers; I like the horror movie eek moment when you hear that metallic noise.

What would you say is the most remarkable aspect of playing without talents?
That no one's done it before. There's Noor the pacifist and Gweryc the melee Hunter as hard ways to play it, and then there're hundreds of sites for spec comparison/discussion -- but not only couldn't I find anything saying just how much difference talent points make over base spec, there's no one actually tried it out.

An additional, related thing: It isn't part of why I'm doing this, but I've started to hope that by playing this way, I'll be really good at the fundamentals of playing a Hunter so that when I do spec, I'll be uber. I'll still need practice playing in groups, and my PvP will suck, but that'll come later.

What talent do you miss the most?
I've always preferred the Survival tree. I know it's not a popular spec, but it suits my play style, particularly with the Wrath changes. So in Wrath, definitely Lock and Load. I based a lot of my tactics around it on my other Hunter.
Pre-Wrath, it's hard to say, as I can't find a BC talent tree on the www and have a memory like ... what was I saying?

What talent do you miss the least?
I expect some people would strongly disagree, but Scatter Shot. I even respecced without it, because I had a better use for the point.

Have you found yourself having problems accomplishing any specific tasks?
Surprisingly, not really. This time, I've got the benefit of having done a lot of the things before and knowing what to do, which probably helps a lot. I seem likely to hit 70 much faster than my first Hunter (at approx 14 days /played).

Tell us about pets. What issues does not training pet talents bring up for you?
Actually, I probably miss pet talent points more than my own -- in particular, the speed increases such as Charge and the like, mainly for the time I have to wait to start a fight. I notice that more than most anything else. I mostly work around it by sending Archie (my Black Widow) in before I'm rested, to save time.

Until I was high enough level to get Archie, I had a bear, but he was just something to fill the job of pet. Now it's like Archie's an important part of the whole thing, and I don't want to swap him out. I expect I'll still have Archie when I'm 80, though when I spec he may have to visit the stables. I'd really like one of those hairy worm/caterpillar things and a rhino.

Do you instance or do group quests more or less frequently with this character?
Instances I don't do much of. I feel I pull my weight, but I ain't got so much weight to pull, so it seems a little unfair on the rest of the group. Group quests, I occasionally team up with random players if they're on the same quest, but that's the same on my other characters.

What effect does having a special spin on your play process have on your whole gaming experience?
I don't have as many toys to play with, which limits the fun a little. The spin does add to the motivation; I feel I've got a reason to get to the end of the level quickly, though I'm not out to set a world record. Otherwise, I'd have skipped the occasional mining node hunt; Uldaman with strangers when the trash was grey to me; training Engineering; and most related to this project, forgetting to take a photo for the blog, logging back in and wandering around for five to 10 minutes to get something good for it (this I do on almost every entry).

Do other players usually perceive that there's something different about your character? Does it come up in casual group conversation?
I've only had one person notice and comment on my 0/0/0 spec without my saying anything first, and they were a complete stranger. I guess most people don't look (I never have). I usually only mention it if it comes up in conversation, and even them I'm a bit reticent. I've never been one for self-promotion and generally feel embarrassed about doing so.

As it happens, most of my new guild doesn't know at this point (I wimped out on explaining why a level 60 Hunter has 6.75% crit, which did come up in conversation). When I brought it up in guild chat at my previous guild, I got a wide range of reactions, from "Hey, that's great!" to "Why would you make the game harder? That's stupid." I think the latter came around when I explained, and it doesn't worry me, as I'm doing it for myself. Support does help to keep it going, even if a lot of it is people in guild chat who don't know I'm talentless congratulating me on another ding.

Keep up with Lithiumflowr's progress on his blog, Without Talent.

"I never thought of playing WoW like that!" -- neither did we, until we talked with these players. Check out a whole year's worth of player profiles in our "15 Minutes of Fame: Where are they now?" retrospective.

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