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Signature Abilities

There are certain things in the game that scream: “THIS IS WORLD OF WARCRAFT!” Each class has their own special thing that people think of when they picture the class in their head. Some have changed over time, being iconic when the game came out and all but vanished now. Some have emerged over time, starting as a thought and finally being realized.

One good thing is that I couldn’t think of one specific ability that is recognizable for the entire game. There are a few front-runners, but there are many that define each class. Blizzard has done a great job of making each class very individual (with a few exceptions), and you know who you are playing by what you can do.

Shamans get two picks from me: Frost Shock and Bloodlust. Sorry Alliance, but it will always be Bloodlust and not Heroism. In Vanilla PvP, Frost Shock was one of the biggest abilities that the Horde had in their arsenal, as it was a good snare on a short cooldown that did a decent amount of damage. There used to be an addon that would have an audio file of “FROST SHOOOOOCK!” when it was used. Bloodlust, including the roaring-murloc-style sound, is such a great feeling. The very first time it was used in game for my character gave me goosebumps.

(The above is my son being a good PvP Shaman in training)

Druids are pretty straight forward, being that their forms truly define who they are. Not as much as previously, with the removal of a permanent Tree Form, but I believe that Bear Form & Cat Form are truly iconic (and of course the laser chicken). There’s no mistaking what you’re fighting when you have a cat tearing up your face. Being able to be a warrior, rogue, mage, and priest all in one is a nice feeling.

To me, the Warrior’s signature ability was mainly visible in Vanilla as it was before big nerfs. Mortal Strike was a high damage move that also caused the target to receive 50% less healing as a debuff. This was in place for a very long time until it was nerfed to be only 10% less healing, as it was very overpowered for PvP. Many tanks were Arms spec in Vanilla mainly for this ability, so mobs that healed themselves could be mitigated. Close second is Titan’s Grip – being able to wield two two-handed weapons is just awesome.

Rogues are mainly known for one thing: their stuns. They have close to fifty thousand of them (or so it would seem at time in PvP), and used well they can completely lock out someone for a good period of time. By the time the stuns wear off, the target’s health is low enough that they’re as good as dead.

Warlocks also have two great abilities to cause grief to people: Fear and Death Coil. Both mainly in Vanilla again, but the combination of the two spells were great to keep a player or a mob out of the way for a good period of time. The only problem with PvE use of them is that they have a very good chance to pull approximately one thousand other mobs who are close by.

Mages have two things that I believe is their signature, which is Polymorph and the ability to blow stuff up. Polymorph’s history goes back to the early RTS games, and thankfully stays in the game today as a great crowd control device. Being able to have different animals other than sheep is nice for groups or raids with multiple mages, but the sheep is still awesome. Plus, mages can blow stuff up, including Living Bomb. How can you go wrong?

Hunters are definitely known for having their pets and their traps. The removal of Eyes of the Beast, allowing direct control over the pet, is definitely a big loss – it was also the way our guild pulled Baron Geddon in Molten Core back in Vanilla. When pets had their happiness system or needing to tame specific pets to learn specific abilities, or basically how pets were before they were all made generic are what truly defined hunters for a very long time. The traps have become a lot better, as rather than having to place them where the character is, they are now able to be launched to a location without having to sacrifice yourself. Coming close behind is feign death, which is also useful in real life.

I had a difficult time coming up with a specific priest signature ability. Eventually I decided on Shadowform and the ability to be a very flexible healer. Unfortunately with all the specific heals that a priest has, there are too many to narrow down to one signature one, apart from Greater Heal. Bread and butter healing. Shadowform is very different in the fact that it gave priests a way to do very good damage and still be a priest at heart.

Death Knights are pretty easy, as Death Grip is one of the first things that a player uses after rolling one. Being able to yank someone right to you, also acting as a taunt, is a tank’s best friend. Plus, a lot of fun in PvP. Army of the Dead is a close contender, as there are few things more awesome than an army of ghouls rampaging on your behalf.

The Paladin signature ability was the easiest one to come up with. Divine Shield, or the infamous “Bubble”. Unfortunately not being able to last long enough for a full bubble-hearth, it still has the reputation that it definitely deserves.

In conclusion, each class has things that truly make them feel unique. Even the Druid, which “borrows” the styles of other classes, still makes the playstyle their own. Even though they use rage like a warrior, they are not warriors (parrying with their faces takes skill).

As a signature ability for the game? I don’t think there needs to be one. The closest “iconic” one that I can think of would have to be Bloodlust. It is synonymous with the Orc culture, and every time I hear the sound effect I can’t help but think of the Warcraft series.

Melee state of mind

For the longest time, I was always the same type of character when I played any game. If there was a magic-dealing ranged class, that was me. I was your typical “mage”-class player, for my gaming career up until about three years ago. It was then that I seem to have had a bit of a shift in my mindset of what I enjoy, and I learned to love melee classes.

My very first MMO was a game called Nexus: The Kingdom of the Winds (which is pretty much dead by all accounts now). It’s a standard 2.5D top-down RPG where you do the normal stuff: you level up, you kill stuff, you quest, you gain levels, you grow in power. My very first character was a healer, and when I got bored of that, my main character ended up being a mage. I got fairly powerful (by standards of the day), but never near the top of the power listings. I enjoyed being able to blow things up from afar, trying to stay away from those who would tear me apart.

When I started World of Warcraft, my first character was a Druid. I had no clue how to properly play the game at the time, and somehow ended up speccing into the Balance tree. This was back in Vanilla, while the trees were still very broken, and I stopped playing for a while. When I came back, I re-rolled as a Mage, and once again was loving it. I could shoot stuff from my hands, blow things up, and still be far enough away that I (hopefully) shouldn’t die. When we re-rolled to Vek’nilash, my first Horde character was an Orc Warlock, and the time of bliss continued.

It was when Burning Crusade released that things started to change. I had decided to re-roll as a Paladin to help the guild out with class balance, and through the process of leveling up I found out that being a melee class wasn’t so bad after all. I may get hit more often, but there were ways to accomodate that. Once I had hit level 70, I did my time as a healer, so I returned to the back of the raid with my healy hands.

I forget when exactly through Burning Crusade that my wife started to play, but it was at that time that I rolled a Druid to level up with her new Shaman. I specced into Feral, since I read that it was the best one for leveling, and thus began my time as full-time melee. We did quite well while leveling, as long as one of us reminded the other when our health or mana was low. All in all, the process to get to level 70 was quite fun and easy.

I tore things up as a cat, and I got hit in the face as a bear. Through Wrath, I’ve been able to be near or at the top of the charts for DPS, while mastering a very complicated rotation (JFM, anyone?). It gives me a great deal of satisfaction that I can do something well, while still having fun. Going from 70 to 80 was a breeze, and I rarely had to get help for group quests or elite mobs.

To this day, I still have my Feral Druid as my main character, and I plan on keeping it that way for a while. Until the class isn’t fun anymore, I finally found something that I can enjoy and stay competetive in a raid environment.

It’s amazing what happens when you give something a try, isn’t it?

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