I have decided to do something new and different while playing World of Warcraft. I have decided to group with other people.
Now there is a novel idea! I bet you never thought of it!
I have the alt disease, or alt-itis, or whatever you want to call it. I like to make and experiment with different characters. Rarely is the first character I roll the one I end up enjoying the most.
I have been playing WoW continuously on the Eldre’Thalas server since January and I have five characters that are level 40 and above and a couple more in the 20-39 range. The last character I started went from creation to level 40 in a little over two weeks, 99% of which was done solo. (I grouped with another player to knock off two elite quests in Duskwood.) It was done completely via following the standard quest paths. I usually do both the quest paths that start off new players outside Stormwind and Ironforge as well as picking up the quest thread that starts in Ashenvale a little further on. This means I end up doing a bunch of quests that have gone green at points, but in the end it keeps me right in the sweet spot for quests. I always have plenty to do and I always know what I am doing next.
This is very efficient. It also sounds a bit boring, more so than it actually is. (Changing character classes changes the way you do things.) I obviously did not follow this exact path from my first characters, but I think after my last one it won’t vary much any more. I made an effort to finish every quest, seek out ones I missed or dropped in the past, and generally tried to maximize my exp gain and reduce my travel time. (I am not so well tuned on the horde side, but I am getting there.)
I have not avoided groups in the past because I am anti-social. I am in a guild, I chat with my friends online when I have time while I am leveling away, though that tends to lead to somewhat disjointed conversations.
I have avoided groups because they make leveling take longer in WoW. Solo play, for levels, is rewarded in WoW. When you group, your exp per kill is reduced, time taken to finish drop related quests goes up dramatically with each person you add to the group (so you do kill more, which mitigates the exp per kill loss somewhat, but a lot of the exp is in finishing the quest, so your exp/hour is still taking a hit), and unless your group all has the same quests, somebody is usually waiting for everybody else to get to their quest.
This is one thing that EverQuest II had over WoW. While normal quests are worth a lot less exp for your level when compared to WoW, in EQ2 you could get a two or three person group together and grind for some excellent exp. (Once you deciphered “The Fiendish CON System of Dr. Fu Manchu” and figured out what you should be killing.) I had some phenomenal exp runs with just my templar and a friend’s guardian slaying moderately difficult mobs. (Of course, Sony kept changing the exp table while I was playing EQ2, so this happened when they were boosting small group experience. They may have reversed course on the whole idea since then.)
My alting ways has also contributed to my lack of grouping. I generally avoid pick-up groups under all but the most dire or compelling circumstances and the people whom I know and share a guild with are more restrained in their character creation, so there tends to be very few occasions where people I know are online and playing a character with whom it would make sense to group. (They all have at least one level 60 character while I have not managed to hit 50 yet.)
Still, I am reasonably happy playing WoW as I do. The game is fun. Why should I change?
First, I have found that I do actually miss grouping. I grouped a lot more in EQ and EQ2 and it can make the game much more enjoyable. When things go right, you get to share your victory and when things go wrong, well, misery loves company!
Second, I feel I am missing a lot of the game content. I have a system, but that system never leads me into dungeon.
A week or so ago an opportunity came up. I got in touch with a friend from high school who plays WoW. (Oddly enough it was because we went to high school with the woman mentioned in this MMO item.) [Well, that link is worthless now. I meant her.] Last time I exchanged email with him I was still playing EQ2 and was annoyed that WoW looked so much like the Warhammer. (I am not a fan of the whole “ugly dwarves with huge feet” thing.) He said he was playing WoW and was not really interested in EQ2. This time we were both on the WoW page together.
After some back and forth he, I, his wife, and a friend rolled up new characters (making my 12th alt I think) with the intent of grouping together, staying in approximately the same level range, and doing instances together. The last item is key. We want to do instances as a group at the appropriate levels. I’ve been towed through Deadmines and the Stockades by a level 60 guild mate, but that hardly counts.
So I hope get to experience some different content in WoW and I will get to hang out and chat with friends who are experiencing the same things in-game I am. As an added bonus, I might possibly learn how to play a new character class. I chose a rogue, a class which is not well represented in my list of alts, so we shall see.