It’s always worthwhile taking a step back from World of Warcraft and remembering why you play. It’s a game, you play it for fun. It is worth stating at this point that fun means different things to different people, but we’re all united in a quest for it. There are surely some universals, for instance none of us like to have our time wasted. Due to this under-geared, under-skilled, under-performing people are not fun, they actively sap our enjoyment.

Under-geared means by definition not enough gear for the content we’re trying. It’s easy to fix, go away and complete lesser content for upgrades to gear and come back when you’re ready. Under-skilled is also easy easy to fix. Ask your guild, people you trust, visit a website and find a reasonable talent spec, glyph selection and something like a more optimum rotation. Under-geared is less of an issue these days as ilvl caps exist to enforce a minimum acceptable level of gear for encounters: if you can get in you should be able to do your job. Skill is simply practice, once you’re on the right track. Under-performing is the real problem.

Under-performing occurs when you don’t try. It manifests itself in several ways and it’s always disrespectful. Essentially what you’re doing is not taking into account the other people you play with, you’re not concerned with impacting on their fun. You reduce other people’s fun if you don’t try to optimise your gear with gems, enchants and by balancing your key stats. You keep trying to get better gear from more difficult instances where your current set doesn’t allow you to perform at a average or above level. Go back and farm appropriate content before stepping up. You want to engage the cooperation of four strangers, through the dungeon finder, to get what you want in instances, but you don’t see why you should learn anything about the best way to play your character’s class by visiting a website, learning a rotation or changing your intuitive talent build. Under-performing longer term simply boils down to a little selfishness and that has no place in a game where you have to enlist the help of others.

It’s like joining a tennis club and not knowing the rules of tennis and turning up with a cricket bat to play. Then you argue that the rules are too rigid and why can’t you use a cricket bat if you like, it’s just a game? Then you complain no one wants to play with you because you couldn’t be bothered to learn anything about tennis and everyone is so elitist. If you turn up having done a little research and being eager to listen and learn people will accept even the worst novice players.

So having fun in Warcraft demands you’re sensitive to other people’s enjoyment. Beyond that WoW offers many ways for the casual gamer, casual or even hardcore raider to enjoy themselves.

For me, when hitting 5-mans, all things are never equal. Unlike a raid, buffs are inconsistent, some buffs favour one class over another. The skill of each member of the party will effect your ability to do your job. I find fun in chasing my own DPS numbers not other party members. Getting a new piece of gear and incorporating it into the set is fun. So I love the process of reforging lesser stats to more important ones to squeeze out maximum potential. I like to rank my max level characters in terms of quality of gear against my other max levels characters not other people’s. As long as I can feel that all my chars are doing at least average damage in most encounters I’m happy, it gives me a contented feeling. I don’t wish to be exceptional at playing all my 85s.

What gave me a warm feeling the other day is a very personal thing. I logged my favourite char, the Warlock, and discovered that I hadn’t given her any attention since the patch dropped and the new tier of gear was released. I had pretty much all the best gear (available to me) from the last tier. My Hunter meanwhile had had a large burst of play and attention right over the patch period and was now actually now much better geared than my ‘lock. Ooops.

So I paused all work on my Hunter, Priest and Warrior and committed to polishing gear and farming Valour rewards with my favourite the ‘lock. What gave me the warm, pleasant feeling inside was the ease and familiarity of the Warlock play style. I struggled even with the my better gear to actually hammer out good numbers with the Hunter and Priest, my Arms Warrior, well Bladestorm is nuts how can anyone be expected to heal through the damage that much threat will cause? Not only did my (slightly) under-geared Warlock out DPS these other chars. I also regularly topped the meter in 5-man instances. Having learned the ‘lock ‘rotation’ bone deep and having the spells in my fingers allowed me to really watch the fight, get myself in good positions, move when it suited me, trigger cooldowns at optimum moments, be ready to react to phase changes in fights and not stand in the fire. In other words my Warlock is the character I play that I know so well I can come close the maximising the potential DPS of my gear more of the time. Honestly, no one could get much more DPS out of my gear on Patchwerk.

Still, no one is perfect. I got questioned about poor DPS in ZA one morning waiting for my first coffee of the day to cool. I took a drink and typed “Get me to the boss.” So my sickly looking 7.4k DPS on trash was really under the spotlight. I managed to turn in a very average and third place 14K at the boss but I did stay in the group which is nice since on the last boss I got to hit all my cooldowns peak at 26k and roll and win some more gear. I typed “Thanks for the run sorry you had to carry my sorry-assed DPS.” Moral, try not to judge an affliction ‘lock’s DPS after 3 packs of trash. In fact the measure of anyone’s instance performance is their performance on bosses. It’s called trash clearing for a reason.

I do most things competently, but it gives me a warm feeling to see that I actually do one thing well. I love warlocking.