New Expansion, New Mains – My Struggle Selecting a Main for Battle for Azeroth

With Battle for Azeroth fast approaching, I feel like I am not alone in my thoughts of what am I going to play come next expansion. Naturally a new expansion is the best time to change your main as all of your gear will soon be outdated and often there’s more than just a new level cap that could affect your decision, with class and gear changes aplenty often coming with a new expansion.

I was a paladin main this expansion, specifically a holy paladin for the extra thicc crit heals, but I find myself willing to try other classes and figure out what I want to play in Battle for Azeroth. I believe I will likely main a healer again, as healing is what I have mained in MMOs since vanilla WoW in 2004, but a few ranged dps classes have stealthed into the equation.

My current plans, as I have most classes I want to 110 (on the Alliance side), is to finish leveling my rogue to 110 as she sits at level 79 currently and hasn’t been played since the Legion pre-patch, as well as leveling a warrior from scratch to try to overcome my incapability to do melee dps. I don’t know what it is, but there’s something about melee dps that I just don’t like. However, the real journey will begin once Battle for Azeroth launches, as I will likely seek to level all of my 110 characters to 120 and then choose to main the one I enjoyed the most.

However, this is only looking at things from a mechanical perspective and I would be lying if I said that was the only draw to a class that I have. There are two more aspects: class fantasy and roleplay affinity. There is a difference, though these aspects are fairly intertwined. Class fantasy is the whole “this is what I identify with and want to pretend to be” where roleplay affinity is “who do I want to pretend to be.” I will be looking at all of these when I finally decide what I want to main in Battle for Azeroth.

Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. The following are the classes and specs that are on the list:

  • Paladin – Holy / Retribution (for solo content)
  • Priest – Holy (might try learning Discipline)
  • Mage – Arcane / Fire / Frost
  • Hunter – Marksmanship
  • Shaman – Restoration / Elemental
  • Druid – Restoration / Balance
  • Rogue – Outlaw / Subtelty
  • Warrior – Arms

The last two are likely not going to make the cut unless I fall in love with melee dps as I level them, and even then they’ll struggle to compete with retribution paladin, as I prefer the utility that retribution can bring to the table. Also, the druid is likely a character I will level from 1 to 120 in Battle for Azeroth, or whatever level Blizzard decide to start Kul Tiran humans at as I really liked the whole wicker element to it and the animal forms look FANTASTIC! (even if I don’t plan on being Guardian or Feral… They’re still lovely) However the others are already level 110 and ready for Battle for Azeroth.

So first I will look at the class fantasy. This is actually where the biggest issue comes up: I love the rogue class fantasy. In D&D you will usually find me playing a rogue or a bard (or a combination of the two), so the sneaky rogue class fantasy is what I love. I will do my best to rank the above classes by class fantasy for an overall look at it:

  1. Rogue
  2. Mage
  3. Hunter
  4. Warrior
  5. Paladin
  6. Priest
  7. Druid
  8. Shaman

This is a problem. My top three are literally all pure dps classes, but I enjoy healing the most. Out of the top five there is a single class that can heal. Furthermore, the top class is melee dps! Oh the horror! I have a problem with melee dps at the moment that I am trying to overcome by leveling both a rogue and a warrior, but as it stands right now I still don’t seem to click with melee dps. Now that I’ve said this, let’s extend the issue by going to roleplay affinity. I’ll do my best to list them in order:

  1. Elise Dawnsinger – Musician and freelance agent from Lordaeron. Was adopted by a high elf fleeing south to avoid political intrigue in Silvermoon. (Hunter and Rogue)
  2. Lyra Dawnsinger – Apprentice mage and small business owner. Again, adopted by a high elf but this one was actually living in Stormwind. Was a homeless beggar girl in Stormwind and now owns a small tailoring business. (Mage)
  3. Wicker-medicine-lady – Not yet made because I need Kul-Tiran humans to release. The idea I’m going with is a natural healer and alchemist with some wicker vibes. More on this once I get my teeth into the Battle for Azeroth Alliance side campaign. (Druid)
  4. Clarinne Wakefield – Former farm girl and member of the Westfall Brigade. She’s… poorly educated, but has a heart of gold. Very simple and direct. Family was killed by Defias who burned down her family’s farm when she was a teenager. (Warrior)
  5. Kailyn Moore (not 100% set on surname) – Former Scarlet crusader. Was turned against the crusade in Lordaeron after a group of crusaders and the forces of the Alliance they were fighting were cornered by undead and had to work together. Saw the horrors of the crusade and turned her back on them. Now a scholar and a priest in Stormwind. (Priest)
  6. Meliaa – Shaman from Draenor. Bit of a spiritual guide to her people, but failed them when her people were killed by rampaging Orcs (after having learned shamanism from one of them). (Shaman)
  7. Tilaara – Lightforged vindicator and veteran of the Army of the Light. DEUS VULT. (Paladin)

Once again, the top two comprises of three pure dps classes and the bottom three are all classes who can heal. At this stage I feel like I’m painting a picture of who I would main in Battle for Azeroth. Clearly I should play either Rogue, Hunter, Mage or Druid. They are the top roleplay affinity characters as well as being the top for class fantasy. It feels like a no-brainer. However, it’s this last list that throws everything out the window… Let’s rank the classes in terms of mechanical enjoyment…

  1. Priest
  2. Paladin
  3. Shaman
  4. Hunter
  5. Mage
  6. Druid(?)
  7. Rogue
  8. Warrior

Yep. We’ve pretty much turned the previous tables on their head. Damn you, Blizzard. Making me love the mechanics of classes I have no class fantasy with or will to RP. I don’t really have time to dedicate to too many characters, so there have to be cuts. I’d love to be able to play all eight, honestly, but with work, tabletop and other responsibilities I won’t be able to pay attention to more than maybe three characters. Now, I’m a numbers nerd, so let’s put this into a table…

Character Mechanical Enjoyment Class Fantasy Roleplay Affinity Average Position Overall Position
Hunter 4 3 1 2.67 1
Rogue 7 1 1 3 2
Paladin 2 5 8 5 5
Priest 1 6 6 4.33 4
Mage 5 2 3 3.33 3
Warrior 8 4 5 5.67 7
Druid 4 7 4 5 5
Shaman 3 8 7 6 8

Which gives a final list of:

  1. Hunter
  2. Rogue
  3. Mage
  4. Priest
  5. Druid
  6. Paladin (5th equal, really)
  7. Warrior
  8. Shaman

Again, no healers in the top three when we look into it from a purely mechanical perspective. It would be an easy choice if I wasn’t interested in PvE and, given War Mode coming in Battle for Azeroth, trying my hand in PvP. Honestly, I think it’s going to take some time to decide when Battle for Azeroth comes out and I will seriously have to consider which character I get the feel for, because going through this has only told me that I have literally no idea what I want to do in Battle for Azeroth. It could be druid, as one of the limiting factors of druid was low mechanical enjoyment, but it has been a long, long time since I have played druid (we’re talking The Burning Crusade levels of a long time ago). At the end of the day, it’s all rather inconclusive.

And here I was hoping I’d find some answers… Well, what do you plan on having as your “main” in Battle for Azeroth? I hope you’ve had an easier time choosing than I have!

The Pain of Loss, The Agony of Reunion

It had been a while since Elise had visited the Arathi Highlands. She was working as a freelance scout for the Alliance military and both met her adoptive sister and was almost disemboweled by an Orc with a rather large axe in the same night. It wasn’t a pleasant memory and she didn’t feel ready to be back here, but the opportunity was too good to pass up; it was almost too good to be true. The Alliance had been in talks with the Horde and had organised a meeting for humans and members of the Forsaken who, in life, were previously related. Elise hated the undead. She saw them as abominations that needed to be put down and she needed the closure. The memories of when the Scourge swept across the Kingdom of Lordaeron were forever imprinted in her memories. She was hiding under her bed when she saw her parents massacred by the endless tide of undead. She needed closure. She needed to know her parents had been granted the peace of death. She needed to attend this meet up to confirm that her parents were truly dead.

When they reached the location of the meet up, Elise immediately flared her nostrils in disgust. The Forsaken had gathered near the wall and the Alliance had gathered up near Stromgarde, but Elise could smell the foul stench of undeath on the air. She would hold back her desires to destroy every last one of these abominations for the sake of her King and his orders, but should the Forsaken strike first she was ready to fight, having strapped a sheathed dagger to her belt, though she had left her armour behind. There was some hesitation, as many saw the undead in the same way as she did and it was likely that nobody present on the Alliance side trusted the leader of the Forsaken, Sylvanas Windrunner, to not pull something here. Slowly, but surely, the two sides met in the middle and started to mingle.

Elise wandered through the crowds, seeing humans and undead talking as people appeared to find long lost loved ones. She saw some speaking briefly before parting ways, unable to accept their differences; Elise thought they were the intelligent ones. It was clear that they could not coexist. It disgusted her to see some pairs and groups rekindling long forgotten relationships; these Forsaken were no different from the Scourge that had destroyed their homes in the first place. Nevertheless, she continued to make her way through the crowd, looking for her own parents and feeling rather content that she hadn’t found them.

That’s when she noticed it. It had been so long since she had adopted the Moreau name. She had fully taken on the Dawnsinger name since Arinella, a ranger fleeing from political strife in Quel’thalas, rescued her from the decaying Lordaeron and brought her south to Stormwind. She had almost forgotten what the family crest looked like, but seeing a ring with the crest clearly depicted caused a tirade of emotions to flood through Elise, primarily fear and anger. She took a deep breath, frowning heavily and making her way over to the Forsaken wearing the ring. She reached into her pack and pulled out her own ring that had been gifted to her minutes before the Scourge murdered her family as she stormed over to the pair of Forsaken.

“That ring. Where did you find it?” Elise demanded, pointing at the ring on the undead woman’s hand. The pair looked at her, a brief moment of silence as they looked into Elise’s rather angry eyes.

“Lisette?” the woman asked, her initial offense at the human’s approach melting away in an instant as she looked at the blonde young lady.

Elise’s eyes widened. She had hoped that they were simply grave robbers and that she was going to need to demand that the ring was returned to her. She had always feared this possibility and simply stood still, staring at the pair of Forsaken. She was at a total loss for words.

“Lisette? Is that you?” the male Forsaken asked as well as they both looked upon her. Even though they were dead, Elise could see the hope in their expressions. It tore at her; she hated all undead for what the Scourge did to her parents. She refused to believe that these monsters were her parents.

“It can’t be…” she muttered, taking a step back from the pair of Forsaken.

“You’ve grown so much since we last saw you,” the Forsaken woman said, taking a step towards Elise. “We always hoped you escaped. It was the spark of hope we clung to all these years.

“No, you’re not my parents,” Elise said, shaking her head and recoiling from the woman.

The woman visibly sunk. “I know it’s hard, but-…”

“No! It can’t be. I won’t believe it,” Elise said, looking away from the pair as tears started to flow from her eyes, streaking down her cheek and dropping onto the grass. She refused to believe that these two Forsaken were Charles and Lilyne Moreau, her biological parents.

“It’s us, Lisette,” the male Forsaken said, taking a step forwards and placing a hand on her shoulder. She recoiled from his touch initially, but then let his hand rest on her shoulder as the woman made her way to Elise’s other side.

“Why?” Elise asked, her head now in her hands.

“We didn’t have a choice. The Scourge raised us against our will, but we broke free when his power waned,” Lilyne explained.

“But you’re…” Elise muttered, raising her head to look at the pair of Forsaken through tear-filled eyes.

“Abhorrent crimes against nature? I know, Lisette, but I still believe the Light has a use for us in this world,” Lilyne answered, cutting Elise off.

“How did you escape?” Charles asked, a look of curiosity, but also concern on his face.

“A ranger fleeing south saved me. She took me in,” Elise answered, sniffing and wiping tears from her eyes as she tried to regain her composure, battling an ever rising tide of emotion that welled up inside her.

“That explains the dagger,” Lilyne said with a smile, “you’ve grown into such a beautiful, strong young woman. We’re both so proud of you.”

“This ranger that took you south, I’m guessing she was a high elf?” Charles asked, examining the necklace that Elise wore, an arrow wrapped in a vine, blooming in a flower native to Quel’thalas at the base of the arrowhead.

“Yes. She’s been good to me. Taught me what I needed to survive.”

“You mean elocution and singing lessons didn’t teach you how to defend yourself?”

Elise smiled, chuckling quietly and shaking her head. “No, I suppose they didn’t. Oh, and call me Elise; I dropped the name when I thought you were dead. No sense in getting caught up in politics when our lands and business was destroyed.”

“I agree. Our family had enemies who could still be out there. It’s safer this way,” Charles responded with a nod.

A loud horn interrupted the conversation, originating from the wall.

“Well, that’s our cue. Sorry we can’t stay longer, Elise,” Lilyne said with a smile, “but that’s the signal to return and we dare not disobey the Warchief.”

Elise looked at her parents, tears once again welling in her eyes, until she noticed some undead making a break for the Alliance lines. She turned back to her parents.

“Why not come back with me? You can’t trust Sylvanas, but we can be a family again in Stormwind,” Elise pleaded, holding her mother’s hand as she turned to walk away.

The pair of undead hesitated, looking back to Elise. “I don’t think we would be accepted back in the Alliance, much like you would not be accepted in Lordaeron any more,” Lilyne replied with a soft smile. “I’m sure we’ll see each other again.”

Elise let go of her mother’s hand and watched as the pair of undead started to walk away. However, she caught the sight of a one of the undead running for the Alliance lines collapse, an arrow through his frail form as he lay still in the dirt. Then another fell. More and more started to fall as she saw Sylvanas’s dark rangers open fire on the undead, indiscriminately firing on both the ones who were fleeing as well as those who were returning.

She turned to face her mother and father again and opened her mouth to yell at them to run, but she was too late. Her father took the first arrow straight through his head, the force of the impact knocking his head clean off his body as he tumbled to the ground. Her mother took an arrow to the torso shortly afterwards, crashing to the ground under the hail of fire from the dark rangers. Elise grabbed her dagger and unsheathed it, ready for one to attack her, but nothing came. In fact, no member of the Alliance was attacked at all. Sylvanas was simply slaughtering her own people.

By the time Elise came to realise this, the dark rangers had fallen back and the Forsaken were quitting the field. Dagger in hand, she started to make her way to the Forsaken lines. She wasn’t thinking rationally; unarmoured and barely armed she marched towards the wall, however she almost tripped on her way. Something had grabbed her ankle. She looked back to see Lilyne, barely moving, grabbing onto her ankle.

“Let go!” Elise screamed, wrenching her leg free, although instead of pulling her leg free of the hand, she ended up pulling Lilyne’s arm out of its socket. A look of horror spread across her face as she did and she immediately turned to kneel next to the body of her mother.

“Live,” Lilyne muttered, managing to shake her head in her final moments before she became still.

Elise burst into tears once more, kneeling between her fallen parents. She couldn’t look away from the sight of them.

“Why? They were returning. Why would she do this to her own people!” Elise screamed, stabbing her dagger into the earth in anger. She couldn’t contain the mix of emotions any longer as the mixture of sadness, rage and frustration came to the surface. She looked up to see the Forsaken one last time as they disappeared from sight, her eyes full of hatred. “If I ever get my hands on you, I’ll make you suffer for what you’ve done, Sylvanas,” Elise muttered as she watched them vanish, white-knuckled fists clenched tightly.

 

The Elf Problem – A World of Warcraft Battle for Azeroth discussion

With Battle for Azeroth only around 3 months away, Blizzard have been slowly but surely releasing which allied races will be included in at least the early days of Battle for Azeroth. So far, we have immediate access (with a pre-purchase) to Void Elves and Lightforged Draenei on the Alliance, and Nightborne and Highmountain Tauren on the Horde side. However, we also have confirmed Kul Tiran Humans and Dark Iron Dwarves for the Alliance, as well as Zandalari Trolls and Mag’har Orcs for the Horde for when Battle for Azeroth launches, whether immediately or slightly later on.

However, there was a big debate surrounding these allied races, or more accurately surrounding the Void Elves and their place as an allied race. Now, just being a lore nerd for a moment I feel like I need to clarify a few things. The Quel’dorei, or High Elves as they were called by other races, were brought to the brink of extinction by Arthas when the Scourge invaded Quel’thalas and corrupted the Sunwell to resurrect Kel’thuzad. Around 90% of their race was wiped out by this invasion and then 90% of the survivors renamed themselves as Sin’dorei, or Blood Elves to others, to honour their fallen kin. After doing some very simple maths here, we can see that would leave only 1% of their original population continuing to call themselves High Elves. As you can probably see, this is not a large number of remaining High Elves and the argument to bring them in as a race can easily be countered by simply saying “there aren’t enough of them to justify them as a race,” however we then have to look at the Void Elves that were introduced. Again, being a lore nerd, the Void Elves were a small collection of Blood Elves who decided to dabble in the void and it almost consumed them. Saved by Alleria Windrunner, who was the first of her people to really learn to harness the power of the void without it consuming her, and the player character during the quest chain to obtain Void Elves as an allied race, there was a very, very small number of resulting Void Elves. Considering High Elves have played a relatively large part in the recent Legion expansion, headed by Vereesa Windrunner and the Silver Covenant, I think most people can turn the argument of “there aren’t enough High Elves left,” against the Void Elves.

We can combine this with the fact that Void Elves seem to be shoehorned into the story. The transition feels clunky and unnatural, like they came out of nowhere. Let’s compare the allied races we have right now:

Nightborne

  • Major rep-grind faction is the Nightfallen
  • Literally fight an insurrection alongside them
  • Established in the lore: were Night Elves who relied on the Nightwell when they closed Suramar off from the world
  • Establishes strong relationship with Blood Elves as they suffer similar addictions
  • Shunned by Tyrande (for no real reason, but that’s a whole other rant) so faction choice makes some sense.
  • Full of major NPCs from the Nightfallen quest line

Highmountain Tauren

  • Have an entire leveling zone in Legion
  • Help the player characters attain one of the Pillars of Creation
  • Deep background and lore revealed in Highmountain quests
  • Lots of familiar NPCs from the expansion
  • Share obvious culture and beliefs as vanilla Tauren
  • Independent people who have survived and thrived for generations

Lightforged Draenei

  • Fought alongside us on Argus as the Army of the Light
  • Has a link to the Alliance already as regular Draenei have fought alongside the Alliance for years
  • Natural link to the Light worshiping Humans
  • Turalyon was a champion of the Alliance
  • T’PAARTOS (seriously, T’Paartos is the greatest)

and then… Void Elves

  • Only really familiar character is Alleria Windrunner
  • Never see any other Void Elves until quest to obtain them
  • Try to harness a power that literally everyone else hates
  • There’s like… 20 of them? Maybe less?

All of the other allied races we receive have established links, rich histories and large enough populations that the concept of “players being the special ones” still holds true. Void Elves just seems like a concerted effort to never produce High Elves for Alliance players, without any other real meaning or purpose; it feels like “nope, this is your Blood Elf mesh on the Alliance side and that’s all you’re getting.”

This is all a shame, because I feel like, at least for female characters, the voice acting for the Void Elves is fantastic. I really liked the voice given to the female Void Elf characters for their various voiced emotes and I feel like their jokes are also great, on the same sort of level as the jokes the original Blood Elves and Draenei got in the expansion, The Burning Crusade. I just can’t bring myself to play one as I just feel like they aren’t as rich or varied or interesting at the other playable races of Azeroth. You could argue that they share the history of the Blood Elves, but in that case I’ll just… play a Blood Elf?

In combination with the Nightborne this leaves us with no less than four different types of elf that we can play as. With the recent rumours that San’layn may be another allied race for the Horde (San’layn are literally just vampire elves), that would bring us up to five and at this rate it’s going to become a bit of a meme. Considering the original Warcraft games were about Orcs and Humans, the fact that the number of Orcs and Human options added together will only equal the number of elves we have by the time Battle for Azeroth starts… Well, World of Elfcraft just doesn’t have the same ring to it, honestly.

War Mode – Why it is exactly what World of Warcraft needs

War Mode is the new PvP mode in World of Warcraft that is coming with Battle for Azeroth and now that a bit more is known about it I will say that I am actually looking forward to it.

When it was initially announced at Blizzcon 2017, the new PvP mode in Battle for Azeroth sounded pretty awful and came across a bit like “so, we’re removing PvP servers and only having servers where you can opt into PvP,” which sounded a lot like how normal PvE servers are today; the thought was that they were just getting rid of PvP servers and lumping everyone onto PvE servers. However, having seen War Mode in action, I have done a complete 180 degree turn from hating it to loving it.

The first reason is that War Mode isn’t server specific; if you opt into War Mode, you are matched with other people in War Mode in the same zone as you, regardless of server. This is a great idea as it brings the numbers that you need for world PvP to feel alive into the game. Zones will actually feel contested, rather than just having the tag of a contested zone, as walking around and doing quests will likely bring you into contact with enemy players, who will likely try and kill you for conquest points. Not only this, but due to the buff provided for player who quest with War Mode enabled there will be a large incentive for players to quest with War Mode toggled on (it’s not a small buff. 15% XP and damage is no joke. All associated buffs from War Mode work for the PvE content too!)

On the topic of conquest points, I also really like the bounty system. Essentially, a player who gets (I think) 10 kills on the enemy faction without dying will become an assassin, giving them a further buff, but also (I think) marking them for death for the enemy faction, giving players increased rewards for dropping an enemy player with this assassin buff. I think this is a fair way to both reward players for managing to get this PvP killstreak, however also makes it dangerous to do so. However, I believe the types of people who will get this buff are likely the kind of people who want the attention anyway and would like the idea of more PvP coming their way and rising to the challenge of the increased attention of other players.

I do think it incentivises PvP a lot; even I will be giving War Mode a try, but I feel like it might get traditional PvE players in a bit of a knot as the experienced PvPers will likely dominate the PvEers when it comes to clashes. I know that I am a great PvE player, but in PvP I am about as threatening as a squirrel. I think that War Mode is great, but I think it will be rough for PvEers who are toggling it on who may not be used to how PvP works, as it’s a very different beast to dungeons and raiding. I also think that some people will complain about getting killed with War Mode toggled on, as stupid as that sounds. People will toggle War Mode for the 15% XP buff and the ability to use PvP abilities on PvE mobs, but will then get upset when another player actually kills them. Don’t lie, you know this will happen; people will complain about anything these days!

Overall, I love the idea of War Mode and strongly support the implementation of it. After Warfronts were revealed to be PvE, I think PvP needed a bit of a boost, and this War Mode is just the boost I think it needed.