Yeah – my first 70 – go figure. Sure, most of you have had them for a while now – hell – I have friends that are on their 3rd or 4th. I guess what makes my first 70 so odd and yet so entirely gratifying is that he came from such humble and unexpected origins.
The Story of Skychaser
/cue dramatic music
::sound of needle dragging across a record::
Right – none of that. First off – Skychaser for anyone that knows his history was an accident – an experiment in level 19 shaman twinking – and a potion vendor for my more *serious* toons. The homely white cow started life out on Thorium Brotherhood as “Remember” and what I tend to “remember” from those days was that being a level 19 shaman in a warsong gulch full of twinked rogues and hunters was a pretty painful experience. So it’s probably not surprising that I put him away in favor of my more easily accessible twinks. He languished like this for a long time – churning out speed and free action pots for my main of the month and letting dust build up on his Twisted Chanters Staff. It wasn’t until I migrated off of Thorium B. and onto the newer RP server Moon Guard that Remember (renamed Skychaser after the server move) saw the light of day again.
I dusted Sky’ off and put him to work initially because I needed better potions. The surprising thing was that I really started to enjoy playing him. Like all good things, Sky required time and patience to really learn. Shammy – like druids – are hybrids and not quite as easily accessible as the average primary color toons that make up the most played classes in the game. One thing lead to another though and the levels really started to fly by. Once the great leveling patch came along, adding extra 30’s and 40’s quests and reducing the required experience to level and pumping up quest and mob-rewards things went even faster. In no time, Sky caught up with and passed – my name sake toon (Growl) and all of my original alliance characters.
At 60 – Sky emptied the banks of all my other characters and picked up epic mount training. A long Alterac Valley grind later brought him a Frost Wolf Howler and a Warlord’s Bludgeon. As a strict dps character, Sky’ was free from having to do anything in instances other than watch his aggro and support his tank. I started running instances with abandon and in no time I was absolutely hooked on the whole “progression” thing.
Over the Xmas holidays I found myself with more game time than usual and Mrs. Growl much more pleasant about me tromping off into Azeroth for hours at a time. Skychaser pounded his way through Hellfire Peninsula and Zangamarsh – grabbed up his heroic keys for both locations and moved on to Nagrand, Terrorkar and the Bone Wastes. Over a few particularly great gaming days, Sky’ cleared the Crypts, Mana-Tombs, and even Setthek Halls – picking up his Shadow Labyrinth key and swaddling himself in loot.
Around 67 and the Blades Edge Mountains, things started to get hard. I was enjoying the questing and enjoying my character, but I learned during the holidays that I was gaming on borrowed time. As an Army Reservist, I’m slotted to deploy early in the spring and this news cast a haze of immediacy over everything I did. While my guildies continued to play alts and cruise through levels on relaxed mode, I lit my afterburners and ground on. Finally – a day or so after Xmas, Sky was burning through one of the many kill quests in Shadowmoon Valley. I was burnt – toast – the drag from 68 to 69 had truly been a long one and I was getting tired. I literally dinged 70 on some random mob and didn’t even realize it for a few moments. It wasn’t until a guild-mate who had just logged on popped open her social interface panel and noticed.
“Wow Sky’ – grats on 70!” She said. I blinked a couple times and looked up to my unit frame…well I’ll be damned. A chorus of congratulatory “woots” rolled across my chat pane. I thanked everyone and promptly let myself get caught up in the excitement. The guild had a new 70 – the level grind was over – now for a taste of this vaunted “new” end game. Arena’s – more instances – the flying mount thing.
Well, it’s been a couple weeks since I dinged and things are…odd. First off – I think I pushed a bit too hard over the holiday to hit 70. All the play time and the sudden burning need to progress toasted me up a bit on the whole enhancement shammy thing. The bad part was that I figured this out after heading (under geared of course) into the 70’s battlegrounds. Wow. What a wake up call. After destroying all comers from 40-60 (the peak of enhancement shamanic power apparently) – I rolled into my first BG’s and watched as my vaunted crit % and old-ass 60 dps maces whiffed off of gladiator geared 70’s with more resilience than Sky had INT. I was target #1 for everyone – hit with every CC imaginable and dropped in seconds. Determined to do better (and tired of questing) I dedicated myself to the battlegrounds again and in a few days had my first piece of S1 gear. A few days later I had another piece – an expensive one too – the Gladiator’s Pummeler. Things were still going poorly though and the thought of getting drubbed for days on end to get even more gear just wasn’t all that appealing.
So I blew 5G and respecced.
To resto. What the hell – I was pretty much reduced to healing my way through BG’s anyway – I might as well be *good* at it. The respec went off just fine and the added heal-ly power (in crap-tastic gear I should add) was welcome. I put away all of my considerable enhancement goodies and built a lousy resto +healing set that had me sitting around +450 healing. Back into the BG’s I went.
Lasted about a week.
Don’t get me wrong – resto shammy rock. I healed my ass off. I saved countless lives. But I also got focus fired and annihilated over and over and over. I also got zero thanks – or damn near. Finally – after being abandoned to die by one too many noob rogues in a late night Eye of the Storm – I filled my guild chat with venom and headed off to Ogrimmar to respec. To hell with healing and to hell with my team-mates. It was time to nuke something.
Reality sinks in…Dude – your gear *sucks*. Even if you *do* respec you’re still going to be a gimped ass shaman in a mix of enhancement S1 epics and left over quest rewards from level 65. Either get back to instances and hope for some good drops…(more fighting with hunters for the odd mail piece that works for us both.) Or stay resto. Or try being a caster.
Kinless once said that he felt it was really obvious that Blizzard wanted Shaman to be either resto or elemental based on the quest rewards and drops they’d made available for them post 60. I have to agree with this. Short of the Aldor/Scryer stuff that is spec specific – the rest of the drops are full of +mp5 and spell damage and +healing. Still burnt on enhancement I did some reading and walked away with a 40/0/21 elemental pvp build. I’ve never been a caster folks – so this was serious weird water for me to be wading in. I shuffled some gear around – changed some basic enchants and queued up. It was different I have to say. Used to playing a melee class for so long – I went back to my hunter roots and remembered to get some stand-off distance and nuke. Kiting became important and I spent a few uncomfortable Arathi Basins getting my macros in place.
Things finally came together as my crew and I hit the Alliance flag room in Warsong Gulch. I rolled in at the back of the pack to see my team-mates already mixing it up heavy. Epic weapons were hacking out great carnage while our kick-ass paladins and healing priests kept the warrior up and the rogues from blowing away in red mist. I hit my cast cycle macro for the first chain lightning – a second later it arcs downrange and chains a series of lightning overload crits as it arcs from target to target – almost on top of it another lightning bolt fires downrange and crits the same plate-wearer – I get hit and suddenly clearcasting procs. I pop natures swiftness and elemental mastery and an instant cast chain-lightning rips into the mass of alliance, lightning overload procs again suddenly my screen is filled with “Killing Blow” – “Killing Blow” – two heavy targets drop to the ground – one of our pallies grab the flag and we’re back out the door, hauling ass for the horde side of the field.
I don’t remember much of that run – suffice it to say I healed a lot and dropped a lot of annoying totems to slow down pursuit and nuke the odd-passerby. We won the game (of course) and I logged off that night with the realization that spell damage truly does rock when it comes to dealing with nasty plate wearing brutes. Sure – the lightning overload crits were a bit of happy chance – but nothing quite lights my eyes up like scrolling combat text tossing those big numbers up in bright orange for me. I was hooked.
So – tonight I’m back at it. I have two full pieces of elemental gear so far and a third piece is on the way soon. I doubt I’ll be fully kitted out before I deploy – but I’m having fun and trying something new.
70 is cool – I wish it hadn’t taken me so long to get here.