This guest post is from Bordy, a veteran player of games and dealer in lethal puns. You can find his unique brand of humour on Twitter @snuffleorc
I have played WoW since the retail release. Gazimoff is the one to blame for getting me into it. It was by no means though my first MMO. That honour goes to Ultima Online. Playing with a dial up connection and (in current terms) an incredibly slow PC, I both loved that game and hated it.
My recollections of the game now are vague, so my apologies for anyone who knows better, but to me the world was pretty standard fantasy fayre, although gameplay was fun. Unlike WoW, the game was classless and you picked and chose skills from across a range, meaning that the ultimate combination became so widespread that the bulk of characters were effectively (as far as I could tell) fighter-mages.
Mages had the ability both to cast offensive magic and to create rune books and thus portal more easily around the world. The biggest threat in the world were PKs (Player Killers) – characters who had turned to murdering others. Once you became a multiple murderer you were flagged ‘red’ and unable to enter towns as the guards would one-shot you. This meant no use of banks. Sure there was a town with no guards, but as the only town where PKs could go, it meant it was incredibly risky to go there as you risked being killed by other PKs. PKs tended to go around in groups of 2 or more to avoid being killed themselves.
The ultimate character set-up for PKs was this warrior-mage combination. I have spoken to some former players of PKs who felt that the game was the best for PvP of any game. As they were the ones ‘winning’ most PvP fights I can see why. What they would do is spot a target, cast a fireball type spell (Energy Bolt) which took a couple of seconds to land, cast an instant spell (explosion) as they raced in and a swing with a halberd as they engaged (first strike on any weapon was always instant). Result: usually death of the target. If caught unaware by one or more PKs you were dead within a couple of seconds. Not exactly fun PvP.
In WoW you can still cast say a fireball, followed by an instant spell, but with the global cooldown mechanism, PvP is more balanced. Of course in WoW the killer PvP functionality is stuns. If you can’t do anything, you’re dead.
Where am I going with this?
I had to ask myself this, but the issue I think I am dealing with is whether spellcasting in WoW makes PvP fun or not. After all, that is the key to why I play the game – for fun. Sure, killing others easily is fun to start with, but if it’s too easy it must get boring for most people, and is certainly no fun for the recipient. PvP at the least should allow a few seconds of casting spells per combatant before one dies.
Blizzard have tweaked and tweaked and tweaked further the mage’s spells and their effects, but what difference has this made to mages in PvP? Are mages any more dangerous, or any less effective? Is PvP more fun as a mage? More fun than it used to be? More fun than other classes?