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Behind the Curtain: The role you play

Craig Withers

This week, I'd like to talk a bit about how taking a look at how you play a game, and which class you play, and maybe choosing to change one or both can pay dividends.

Before I do that though, I would just like to mention that I did finally manage to get hold of Baron Rivendare's mount after 68 runs - my thanks to all of you who shared similar stories in the comments of last week's column. Or at the very least, my thanks to whatever Blizzard GM read my whinings and took pity on me, if that's what happened.

Apart from Keith. Ten runs, two mounts and one sword? Keith, I'll be hunting you down to kill you in your sleep, I just wanted to give you fair warning.

If you've been paying attention to any of my columns of late, you'll have noticed that I'm playing a level 80 Protection Warrior in World of Warcraft just now.

I may not have Matthew Rossi's deep, rather touching, love for the Warrior class, but I do love being a tank. Which is something of a surprise, because it was never something I thought I would enjoy being.

My first character in WoW, away back around patch 1.9 was a Tauren Druid. I won't lie, the whole idealized Native American feel of the Tauren sucked me right in. The serenely beautiful rolling plains of Mulgore certainly didn't hurt my choice either. As for the Druid class itself, I can't quite remember what drew me there. I imagine it was that the theory and lore behind the class match up well with that of the Tauren race itself – they seemed to go well together, so I guess I just went with it.

Levelling up, of course, I specced Feral. I knew the Balance and Restoration trees were there, but I avoided them. I avoided Balance because it didn't suit the way I wanted to play, and I avoided Restoration because I wasn't yet comfortable speccing into a tree which required regular PUGs to get the most out of it.

Eventually I joined a guild, and followed the tried-and-true WoW staple of levelling to 60, then immediately jumping into raids. Of course, Druids being what they were at that point, I was expected to spec Restoration if I wanted to get anywhere.

Lo and behold, I found that I thoroughly enjoyed being a healer. I remember back when the guild was struggling with class balance, just prior to the release of The Burning Crusade. We'd been hit with the usual pre-expansion slow-down, with people dropping out or choosing to concentrate on alts. A change in the guild leadership hadn't helped, and morale was pretty low.

Concerns had been raised about how the guild was going to manage with the new end-game content once we reached it, with particular focus on the healers in the guild. I jumped on our forums and posted up a semi-rant about how we weren't completely lacking in capable healers. I ranted, quite eloquently, about my love for being a healer. I believe I spoke about us being the 'calm in the eye of the storm', about our ability to monitor the group's health, our aggro and whatever the mobs were doing, all at the same time. Trust me, it was much more literate and eloquent than I make it sound here.

Things change though. The tone of the guild started to change as the new leader ended up forging the guild into a place for raiders, and raiders alone. If you weren't raiding five nights a week, you weren't a 'real' member. It wasn't the guild I'd joined in the first place, so I said my goodbyes.

Feeling the desire for a fresh start, I chose to go Alliance, picked Draenei to try out the new starting areas, and had a think about the classes available to me. Priests, Paladins and Shamans were out. I'd levelled a Priest as well as Druid, and the healing side of the other two put me off, given that I was looking for a change. I'd tried a Hunter for 20-odd levels in the past, but the class never clicked with me, so they were out as well. It was down to a Mage or a Warrior.

As I mulled things over, I thought about my playstyle over the years. Despite my desire to get in on the occasional raid, I tended to avoid grouping up, at least outside of my guild. Despite that, I enjoyed healing – I was good at it. I kicked myself when I let people die, when I over aggro'd (rare) I couldn't apologise enough. I enjoyed healing, and I took pride in doing it well. For all that though, I still tended to avoid groups like the plague.

I resolved to do something about it. While Mages wee always welcome in groups, they're ten-a-penny (sorry Mage players) but people are always going on about the tank shortage. My decision was made – a Warrior I would be, Protection spec'd from the off, and willing to jump into any group that would have me.

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