Let’s just be honest here. Anytime I pulled off that move in Street Fighter II, it was a complete frickin’ accident. I had no skill at that game whatsoever. While my buddies were effortlessly rattling off combos like they were going out of style, I mashed buttons. If I pulled off some kind of miracle once in a while, inadvertently nailing a combo, it only prolonged my inevitable defeat by about 1.5 seconds.
To a certain extent, Northrend makes me feel like a button-masher all over again. There are elements of confusion, frustration, and a complete lack of control. When I first hit the Borean Tundra, I was questing to beat the band. I just couldn’t wait to ding again. I was probably about 30% of the way to level 71 when it occurred to me that the last time I got repairs was in Stormwind before taking the boat to Northrend. My durability was down to 76%. I even had to ask where to get repairs in Trade Chat. Ya know what? I’m not above rehashing old material to get a laugh, even if it is only from Vonya and Hannelore. It made me feel like a cow-punching noobtard. There! I said it.
By the time Wrath came out, I finally got a handle on all of the BC factions, their rewards, and how to increase reputation with them. Now, I’m back to being clueless. As Predatore cruises across Northrend, I’m constantly tabbing out to see what my reputation gain just went toward. I’ve spent more time reading WoW Insider than ever before. After reading the Lichborne column Reputation Rewards for Death Knights in Wrath of the Lich King, I decided to start grinding Kalu’ak rep so I’d have a Whalebone Carapace waiting for me at level 76. The item required Honored with The Kalu’ak, so I figured I’d just grind a little bit before moving into Dragonblight. Before researching what quests would make nice with the little tuskarr, I decided to log in to find out where I stood with them. Much to my surprise, I was already Honored. Oh snap!
I also find myself more dependant on Thottbot lately. I’ve never hidden the fact that I use QuestHelper. As I’ve acknowledged a number of times, I am, in fact, a noob. But even after reading the quest text and galloping off to QuestHelper’s little dummy marker, sometimes I still don’t know what’s expected of me. Again, I tab out and do a little reading. Like a complete moron, I frequently forget to relocate to a safe place before doing so. I’m usually welcomed by an ass-whuppin’ already in progress or a corpse run when I return to gameplay. Doh!
OK. So figure out how to complete the quest. Check. Figure out what the associated reputation does for me. Check. About half the time, there’s some type of reward other than gold and XP that comes with the turn-in. But what are these new stats and why have the ones that I’ve come to love become so… random? Equipping the right combination of items is like hoping for a button-mashed Shoryuken. Well, it was at first. I quickly accepted the fact that Blizzard hates Mages. Why? Stamina + Spirit? You bet. Intellect + Spirit? Of course. But Stamina + Intellect? No way in Hell. Why, Blizz? Why?!? Predatore had slightly better luck with Strength and Stamina-rich plate items dropping like snow in Northrend. That’s probably the biggest reason I’ve chosen to level Predatore over Devv.
Every time I log in, I learn a little bit more about the subtle nuances of Northrend. It’s a good feeling to answer questions for fellow players going through the same growing pains that I experienced. But I’ve got a long way to go before I reach the comfort level I enjoyed in Outlands. When I finally ding 80 and enter my first endgame raid, I won’t be surprised if The Archlich Kel’Thuzad busts out a Sonic Boom!