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An epic journey: Zero Twenty

26.03.2010

Preface

Of the eight base classes available for starting characters, I now have six on level 20 or higher. My rogue is a bit lagging behind, simply because I started that class very late – never was a rogue fan in other games. I haven’t yet started a priest, and most likely never will.

So, with all starter zones behind me, and abilities starting to get interesting, I thought it would be nice to do a comparison how the gameplay varies between the classes. As a casual soloist, I look for three things:

Ease of play – how easy is the character to play solo? Are the abilities intuitive? How did I do on group quests (i.e. Hogger)?

Style points – does the character have a certain flair to it? Are the class quests fleshed out and interesting? Does class membership offer some additional benefits?

Fun factor – does the class occasionally make me go ‘Woah!’? Is it fun fighting enemies as this class? Can I pull off feats that I originally deemed impossible?

Since I like statistics, I’ll rate each class out of 10 points, with the hypothetical average, somewhat bland, not quite entertaining class rated 6.0 each.

Ease of play

Druid – 5.5

Druid was one of the last classes I started on, and that was a good thing. Spells aren’t really hard to manage, and until level 20 you basically only have to manage switching to bearform. However, this is a classic example of trying to do two things at once – spellcasting and tanking. I usually couldn’t decide if I should blow out mana or switch to bear and spam maul.

Hunter – 8.0

The first ten levels are a bit harder, but once you get the first pet, the difficulty changes. It becomes more about managing your pet between defend and passive with manual attack commands. It is a bit like playing a classic party based CRPG, if you can handle that, you can handle the hunter.

Mage – 8.0

Fragile, handle with care! That said, the mage spells are really intuitive – you get frost to slow the enemy down and fire to burn them to ashes. The amount of damage you can deal out is staggering, and with Frost Nova you get an early panic button should you get surprised by more mobs than you anticipated.

Paladin – 8.5

A warrior. Who can also heal himself. That’s basically the gameplay of a low-level paladin. Pretty straightforward, not many difficult choices. High survivability thanks to heavy armour.

Rogue – 6.5

As I said, I’m lagging behind on my rogue. Deals good damage, but can’t take much. Unfortunately, I haven’t yet found a panic button like the mage’s Frost Nova, which can make group fights dangerous. Distributing the various stunning abilities helps, but can be quite frantic.

Shaman – 7.0

On the surface, the shaman looks a bit like the druid – long distance spells and close combat viability. However, the shaman totems add another variable to the mix that can make a huge difference in fights. Shaman was one of my earliest classes and surprisingly one with the fewest deaths so far.

Warlock – 7.5

A bit like the hunter, only without having to feed your pet. As soloist, the choice between minions isn’t really there, you need the Voidwalker as a tank. The damage you can deal out with various DoTs and direct spells is huge, and unlike the mage you have your minion to keep aggro off you.

Warrior – 7.5

Straightforward combat. Stance management can be tricky, especially as during the first twenty levels you’ll find yourself switching weapon sets often to utilise the latest quest reward.

Style points

Druid – 6.5

Major bonus points for shape-changing. Running along a street in travel form, switch to bear for a mob, back to travel, jump in river, switch to aquatic, jump out, travel… However the combat is repetitive and not very flashy. Limited offensive spells during these levels, although alternating between Wrath and Entangle is quite funny.

Hunter – 8.0

Pets are a status symbol, even at low levels. Jump-shooting is possibly one of the coolest tactics in the game. Did I mention pets?

Mage – 9.0

Arcane Missiles. Firebolt. Frostbolt. Nova. Blast. The mage does battle with pomp and circumstance.

Paladin – 6.5

Smiting enemies in the name of your gods is fun, but not very flashy. The armour adds major points, but just from looking at a battle, you get more special effects from a warrior or a rogue.

Rogue – 7.0

Accumulating combo points to blow away your enemies with a finishing move is simply cool. Backstabbing is fun. All that’s lacking is a bit of light show to go with it.

Shaman – 8.5

This class pulls nearly all the tricks of a mage, can intimidate by plopping down totems and healing statues and still wield a mean mace to pummel their enemies. If that’s not style, I don’t know what is.

Warlock – 8.0

A bit more understated than the mage or shaman, the warlocks have their minions. Unlike hunters, they can’t be named and aren’t really anything special – they’re just spells you get at a certain level. You get the Felsteed, though, and later on the Dreadsteed.

Warrior – 7.5

Again, pretty straightforward. But a wide choice of weapons and armour can add a lot of personal style and flair, with a few abilities that are not quite flashy but certainly not dull either.

Fun Factor

Druid – 6.5

Sadly, the initial Woah factor of shape-changing doesn’t hold up until you get to the next form. You have a limited arsenal of spells and an equally limited arsenal of feral abilities. As fun as exclusive access Moonglade sounds, it’s a pain to get back to where you were before, and there isn’t much to do in Moonglade to begin with.

Hunter – 8.0

Hunter is not without reason one of the go to classes for soloists. A hunter with a good pet can clear out enemy camps like it’s no ones business, and solo instances earlier than other classes – and that is definitely a fun thing to do. The wide variety of shots and stings available also liven things up.

Mage – 9.0

You just get so many toys to play with. So many different ways to do damage. Just when you think you got a good rotation, you get a new spell or a new rank and start experimenting again. Lots of bang for your buck.

Paladin – 8.0

Although not very stylish, the paladin adds some kind of feeling righteous that makes them fun to play. Standing in the middle of a group of enemies with my Dwarf, I often felt like Gimli in Moria – and which RPG player can argue with that being fun?

Rogue – 7.0

Playing a glass cannon can be fun, but the rogue shines mostly in one on once combat. Add more enemies, and it becomes hard work. Satisfying, but not always fun, since the big effects that the mage gets are missing.

Shaman – 7.5

Managing your totems is fun, since you can either plan the encounters all out and prepare or place them in an emergency. The class quests are about the best in the game so far, with long spiritual journeys.

Warlock – 8.5

You get a minion. Not a pet, a minion. You steal souls. You drain life. Never mind the lack of flash, you simply get power crazed – which is what the Warlock is supposed to be all about, isn’t it?

Warrior – 7.5

Old school hack and slay. Experimenting with different weapon sets and stances is fun and I still haven’t figured out which is best given my current talent tree and gear.

Final ranking

Mage – 26.0

The master of special effects wins this by quite a margin. Only the low survivability on the first levels drag him down a bit. If you want to have quick fun, roll a mage!

Hunter – 24.0

Not surprisingly, the definite solo class is in the top three. The hunters pet offers not only great strategic depth and lots of fun but is also vital to surviving encounters that would be fatal to the other classes. If you want to do some serious soloing in addition to having fun, choose hunter!

Warlock – 24.0

Even less surprisingly, the other pet class – sorry, minion class – is also in the top three. A bit more limited in minion choice, the ‘lock makes up for it with lots of magic. Can’t decide if you want to fling spells around or have a loyal servant to tank for you? The warlock is your class!

Paladin – 23.0

The first ‘plain’ class, the paladin narrowly misses the warlock and hunter. Sheer amount of choice when it comes to weapons and armour and the ability to stand toe to toe with mobs, get the face bashed in repeatedly and yet still come out alive is the staple of the paladin.

Shaman – 23.0

A bit an odd sort, not a pure mage, not a true melee class, not quite a pet / minion handler, the shaman opens up lots of possible playstyles and keeps the game always varied and entertaining.

Warrior – 22.5

If you like hitting things, choose a warrior. Simple, direct, no questions asked.

Rogue – 20.5

A glass cannon, the rogue deals out a lot of damage and has fun special attacks, but lacks easy methods to get out safely if ambushed himself. However, ff you have quick fingers and a good sense of timing for your ability, you’ll be amazed what a rogue can do!

Druid – 18.5

Sadly, the only one with less than 20 points combined is the only shapechanger – until we get the Worgen, that is. Until level 20, the forms are nice, and initially great fun, but lack of choice gets boring soon. You can do an awful lot as a druid, though. Spell DPS. Bear tanking. Healing. If you like having your choice of role wide open and don’t mind being limited in your tools, go druid!


Verdict

Despite coming dead last, the druid isn’t as bad as it looks. It’s just that I have more fun and could do a lot of things easier with all the other classes. My guess is that in a group or guild environment, the druid would gain a lot of points for sheer flexibility.

Also keep in mind that this holds true only for levels 1-20. I’ll do the next ranking at 30, and then every ten levels. Let’s see which class ends up on top!

3 comments

  1. Having leveled quite a few of these classes, I’d say that my opinion is more or less in line with yours here. I loved my mage from the very beginning, and quickly traded her for my priest at level 40. (Is there a reason you omitted the priest?)

    Leveling my druid was painful until gaining moonkin and tree forms, the shaman was pretty fun after about level 10 or so and just gained in entertainment value as I went on. Being a low-level warrior was a blast! I didn’t really start to like paladins until level 20 or so, though, to be honest.


  2. Never was much of a healer. I know that priests have Shadowform for DPSing, but… *shrugs* it just feels like a more group orientated class than I want to play at the moment.

    I’m looking forward to Moonkin on the druid in fact. As well as Tree. Having more than one form that’s suited to what you’re doing opens up choices – instant fun.


    • freak 😉



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