Why play World of Warcraft as a Loner
Playing Warcraft as a loner
This hub is dedicated to Warcraft loners everywhere. I know there are many of us, some proud to be so, some forced to whether they wish it or not. The aim of this hub is to offer some insight into the experience of being a loner on Warcraft and a few tips on how to enjoy it.
I did not set out with the intention to play World of Warcraft as a loner. On my first sign-up, I joined a role-playing (RP) server. My first character was created with much thought. She entered the Warcraft world with a story and with great eagerness to interact with the people she met. Unfortunately, her expectations were never really met. Four other characters, of different races followed, and again were disappointed.
Personal issues stopped me from playing Warcraft for almost a year. I then decided to sign up again. I deleted all my original characters for a fresh start. I am now on two PvE (player versus environment) non-RP servers, with six Alliance characters on one and six Horde characters on the other. At the time of writing, they are all very to fairly low level (7-32).
Not a typical Warcraft player?
Perhaps some of the difficulty and disappointment I experienced initially stems from the fact that I probably do not fit the typical Warcraft player stereotypes. I am a woman in her late 50s. I work in an intellectually demanding job, so am not stupid. However, I am not good with computer-related stuff and, frankly, not interested in it. A topic such as "Best macros to create for your warlock" makes my eyes glaze over with a mixture of incomprehension and boredom. I have no sense of direction in dungeons, and get confused at times at which button to press. I am also not in the least interested in any form of PvP, from simple duels to battlegrounds to arenas. I play Warcraft to escape from work and life and see it as an extension of my love of fantasy literature.
Reasons for being a loner: the Warcraft downsides
Searching round the Net for comments, it soon becomes apparent that the same few reasons drive many people into playing as loners on World of Warcraft.
Unpleasant experiences in Random Dungeon Finder
Many people are forced to use the Random Dungeon Finder if they wish to complete dungeons. Although this can be a useful feature if it is otherwise difficult to find a group, it can result in very negative experiences.
It is my experience that most random groups rush through the dungeon at top speed. Probably this is because they are using the experience to level as fast as they can, because they simply want to get to maximum level and participate in raids. The problem is that this often makes it impossible to succeed in dungeon-based quests, especially those which involve gathering a certain number of objects. Even if this succeeds, everyone disappears from the group immediately after killing the final boss. It is not always possible for a single player to get back to the quest giver at the dungeon entrance, apart from queuing to play the dungeon a further time.
This is the prime reason why I personally have decided never to use the random dungeon finder again. About 90% of my 30-odd attempts at being in a random group have been unpleasant and stressful. It finally got to the point that I was feeling physically sick when entering a dungeon with a random group. Since I play for enjoyment, I stopped imposing this on myself.
I have been sworn at and harassed because I won some equipment wanted by someone else, even though it was also a valid upgrade for my character. I have been left unresurrected, forced to make a corpse run, and then kicked out while trying to get back to the group. I have had a heap of statistics, which meant nothing to me whatsoever, shoved at me and then been kicked from the group. Yes, I get lost. No, I do not have top-grade equipment. No, I do not know how to use macros in a fixed rotation to maximise my dps (or whatever). However, this is a game to be enjoyed, not a statistics competition!
Fortunately, once you reach a sufficiently high level, it is possible to solo some dungeons. Although the equipment drops will no longer be useful at that level, except possibly for selling in auction, the experience and the satisfaction of completing the dungeon will still be there. In fact, some players spend much of their time on such activities. I look forward to my first solo dungeon!
Very young frost mage solos heroic level dungeon
Playing with others involves a time commitment that is not always possible. This is particularly true for high-level players participating in raids, who are expected to be on-line at fixed times for several hours at a time. Even at lower levels, guild membership sometimes involves committing to attendance at meetings. Those of us who play for relaxation and fun do not necessarily wish to make Warcraft appointments in our diaries. Moreover, some of us have jobs that involve working all hours to meet deadlines or family commitments, which can make such regular appointments impossible.
Disappointing role play
Apparently, there are excellent role players around on Warcraft. However, it seems that they play in select groups in isolated areas of the Warcraft world! Despite being in a guild that was supposedly all about role play, my own experience was very disappointing. There was little character development and dialogue was wooden and uninspired. What finished it totally was when the guild leader, whom I knew to be 19 years old in real life, wanted to role play with me, whom he knew to be well over 50 years old in real life, in a sleeping chamber at an inn. There is no need to spell out what sort of role play was in question! I am not a prude, but found this situation ridiculous in the extreme!
If you are interested in serious role play, you may wish to use the various Warcraft-related forums and blogs to find groups that might potentially give you what you are seeking. You can then create a character on the server used by the group and try them out.
Reasons for being a loner: the joys of solo play
Playing alone on Warcraft is not just about avoiding unwanted situations and pressures. It can also be a lot of fun. Whether you will enjoy it really depends on what you want out of the game.
The world is yours
World of Warcraft offers a massive environment with thousands of quests, locations and sights. As a loner, you are free to explore as much as you like of the world accessible to your level. If you want to spend time doing quests well below your level, because you want to find out more about the lore, you are free to do so.
Since Cataclysm, a lot of new low-level quests have been introduced and some old ones changed beyond recognition. In my experience, this has made the game a lot more loner-friendly, at least at lower levels. Some of the new quests offer a group-like experience with the aid of NPCs. Others are just pure fun. I used to hate Westfall and its quests; they were depressing, dull grinding for the most part. Now I really enjoy the area, especially the quest to take over a harvester and use it zap other harvesters!
Sometimes, I just let my characters visit new places so they can marvel at the sights. The art of Warcraft is stunning in places. Fishing in a beautiful pool at sunset is a relaxing way to spend half an hour after a hard day at work. Doing daily quests can be a bit of simple-minded and undemanding fun. I specially like the fishing quests in the capital cities, because there is always the chance of getting a random goody in the reward bag.
Being who you want to be and the delights of alt-itis
Playing alone means there is no pressure in how to do things. You are free to develop your character exactly as you wish and choose the professions you want, rather than being ordered to follow a set path as happens in some guilds.
Some lone players like to set themselves personal challenges. For example, one player has achieved a name for himself by levelling a priest to maximum without killing anyone or anything. Another player decided she wanted to see whether she could level up a character without doing any quests and without ever upgrading her armour and weapons.
Because I love the stories and experiencing the different regions in World of Warcraft, I have created a number of characters. It is fun to see how each has a specific psychology and attitude! It is also interesting to see how different classes have to use different approaches when questing. Since there is no pressure to level fast, I can play each character as and when I wish, and even ignore some for longer periods.
Guilds and the lone player
Many lone players choose not to belong to a guild at all. That way, they ensure that they stay free of commitments and other people's expectations. Tight-knit, small guilds are also prone to drama, which is unacceptable to many loners. Under the current guild system, not being in a guild means losing out on a few perks awarded to guilds and their members. However, these are of no major significance for play.
There are some soloist guilds operating on some servers. These cater specifically for lone players. Being a member means being able to receive the automatic perks without being under any commitment whatsoever.
Another option is to join a very large normal guild. Since guild perks are won in various ways, including levelling, questing and other activities performed by members on their own, many guilds want to recruit lots of members. In my experience, they can be very anonymous, with little or no guild chat going on. In addition, some of them open their banks to all members. A guild bank can be a useful source of materials and equipment that would otherwise be difficult or expensive to obtain. However, loners should use these resources responsibly, being sure to replace stuff taken with other materials or equipment of comparative value.
It is easy to leave a guild at any time, if necessary.
One major advantage of being in some sort of guild is it offers protection from endless requests to join other guilds. These, together with duelling challenges, are often "offered" in a highly intrusive manner. With respect to duelling, if someone challenges me more than once, I immediately put them on "ignore".
The vexed question of Warcraft gold
Being a loner can be difficult in terms of obtaining certain items, particularly without access to guild resources. It is possible to use the Trade Channel to ask if anyone is selling something that is needed, or to hire the services of a crafting profession. Otherwise, the Auction House may provide a solution. However, these can be expensive approaches.
Do not be tempted by the many ads to buy Warcraft gold for real money. Firstly, this is strictly against Blizzard company's terms of service and you risk having your account banned if found out. Secondly, the people who sell this gold often get it by hacking into other people's accounts. I was victim of a hack recently. Although I lost nothing (my characters were fairly poor at the time!), it was a stressful experience because my account was suspended and I had to jump a number of hurdles to get it back. Incidentally, you can protect yourself somewhat by using the Blizzard authenticator. I downloaded the authenticator to my Android phone (no cost) and was given a cute core puppy companion for each of my characters as a reward.
A number of guides exist which tell you how and where to earn gold on Warcraft. You may choose to buy one of these. Alternatively, you can make your own notes on good earning places and possibilities.
The simplest approach is to have at least one gathering profession and put up most of what you gather for auction. Also try to auction any decent non-soul-bound equipment you find. You can also try speculating on auctions, buying things you think are underpriced and reselling them.
Having a severe case of alt-itis can be useful. Having many alts means you can distribute various professions among them. The alts can send each other materials and make things for each other. This can save quite a bit of money. Unfortunately, thought, Warcraft is very skewed with respect to the crafting professions. It is not possible to make many useful things at low levels. In order to level the profession, many useless items have to be made and vendored off. I mentioned alt psychology above. For some reason, I've found herbalist priests not only make a lot on their herbs, but also seem to do well at speculation! Mysteriously, shamans and druids tend to stay poor!
Is it worth being a loner on Warcraft?
The answer to this question really depends on why you play. My answer is a definite YES. I enjoy being a loner. I love exploring the world. I enjoy the different feelings I have with each of my alts. I like finding out the lore of the different races.
The main issues with being a loner centre around equipment and around the end game.
A loner will find it difficult if not impossible to obtain the best equipment if they also decide not to engage in PvP. On the other hand, this is not such a terrible thing if not participating in groups for high-level raiding.
A greater issue for some is that the end-game content is purely group-based. However, having experienced Warcraft a little prior to Cataclysm and now a little after, I note that much new content has been introduced, which is accessible to and even targeted at loners. I predict that the same will happen if further similar changes are made to the game. If not, then I will continue to enjoy as much of the World of Warcraft as I can as a loner. If at some point, I find no new experiences are possible, I will leave with happy memories and look for pastures new.