No, I’m not playing WoW (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but I realized as I’ve had no motivation to play my Runekeeper that I’m really just more into melee classes.  After all the ribbing and trashing I’ve given Champions I figured I should give them a fair shake and actually play the class.  Plus I haven’t been through the starter zones in a while so I figured it would be good to check them out again since all the revamps.  If I had known we were so close to the F2P launch I might have waited until then, but oh well I’m too hooked now to go back.

Below is a shot of me warming up in Trestlebridge in my new level 18 heavy armor.  As an aside, I don’t remember it looking as good when I leveled my Captain but maybe it just shows that I prefer looking at females.

Why doesn't the Grocer have Marshmallows?

I’ve made it pretty much through all the Bree-land content which by far is still my personal favorite starter area.  The zone certainly does flow much better and they’ve eliminated some of the more annoying random out-lying quests.  For instance, tweaking the quest outside of Staddle such that you kill bears for the trader’s item and not neekers is MUCH better.  I always hated that quest as it just didn’t seem to work very well in the general flow, but there were a number of other similar quests that were tweaked as well.  The Barrow Downs stuff seemed to work much better as you didn’t have to run around to find the quest-givers not to mention that you don’t have to run back to Bree to turn-in.  The quest givers in general are all in much better locations and definitely vector MUCH better then they used to.  I found myself wondering at various times when I would go to a particular zone, and sure enough in a few quests I would get sent that way.  Even with the changes, my general approach to Bree really hasn’t changed.  I go through and do every quest there except for the Old Forest – not because I don’t like the area, as it is one of my favorites, it just takes a while to do and overlaps level wise with some of the other areas.  I like the new change to the “go see so and so somewhere far off quests” as they now also offer a return port to where you started from.  This allows you to go to that far off place, grab one quest there as a place-holder such that you know what level range that area is.  I know there are lots of resources out there (like MMorsel’s Level Chart), but having it in your quest log is a pretty good reminder.  The re-working of the quest lines to remove fellowship quests is nice while you’re playing like I am but I’ll admit I’m not sure it is good to have the Great Barrows as the only fellowship quest.

As of now, I’m about mid-way through 21 and am probably going to do some of the Trestlebridge quests as those are level 21s while the Epic line and Forsaken Inn quests are level 22.  So I probably will be bouncing back and forth but since I’m mapped in Bree (where you need to go to train) I think it won’t be too bad.  I’m probably going to continue to proceed through the Lone Lands and North Downs in this fashion such that I can maximize the experience and not get burnt out in either zone.  I’ll be curious to see how far into the 30s this will get me as I know there are some tough level pockets in there.  However, with the Champ being pretty DPS heavy, I’m hoping that I’ll be able to do some of the higher level quests such that I can jump up to a zone even if I’m not quite at the right level.  One thing I’m haven’t done on this toon is crafting as I just wanted to focus on actually playing the class.  But maybe I’ll change my mind and pick up the Armsman profession (that would be the logical thing to do) or possibly a Scholar (but that sounds painful).  Having high-level alts I can pretty easily purchase mats off the AH so it wouldn’t be nearly as painful of a grind, but we shall see.

As for Champion class, I have to admit I’m really enjoying it.  Granted, in the teens all classes are fun to play but I think the Champ better fits what I enjoy.  I imagine that I’ll be playing my Champ similar to my Warden in that I try to grab as much as I can and pray I can survive :)  That certainly does get me into a bit of trouble as Champs are a tad squishy, especially in medium armor, without much in the way of oh-crap buttons.  I expect on-average the Champ will be faster in this methodology then the Warden, but I will have higher repair bills (and more travel time) as I will die often I’m sure.  I have no idea when I died first, but I have quite a few times which hasn’t been a big deal as I usually out level my gear before I need to repair it.  For the most part, I’ve been focusing on trying to build Fervour up before AoE’ing as that way I can get my self-heal off if I need to.  I not using the skill that adds 3 Pips up front as I’m thinking it is better to save that for when I need it, but maybe that’s a bad idea.  Mostly I’ve been running in Fervour stance, but I’m starting to play more in Ardour as it seems to be more survivable for my style.  I’ve mainly been dual-wielding as I’ve always liked the look of that fighting style, plus I do have my Captain if I feel the need to wield a big stick ;)  After hitting 20, I’ve noticed it is a bit easier as I can better pull with the bow as opposed to body pulling everything since you can’t control adds nearly as well that way.  This is my first DPS class I’ve played in an MMO so I’ll be curious to see how I enjoy it, and if my Warden experience is any indication (that was my first tank) I may have opened up a whole new can of alt-aholic worms :)

I wasn’t sure how I’d like the class, so I haven’t yet set up my Strategic Commander for it but once I get that rolling I’m sure I’ll have a much better rotation going and use more of my skills.  I notice I have a hard time using everything on my tool-bar as I really struggle finding things unless I get used to where they are.  For those who are curious, the Strategic Commander is a left-handed mouse that has programmable buttons on it.  I don’t use it for macros (although it can) I just use it as a more convenient way to use skills and movement controls.

As for gear, I did craft myself a set of Heavy Armor that I could wear when I hit 20, and I have another in my vault for when I hit 22 as I’ve heard (and can appreciate) that gear makes a pretty big difference for a Champ and especially with my kamikaze attitude.  I haven’t been worried about trying to crit on the armor, but I’m sure when I get into my 40s and 50s I will start to care.  Around that same time is when I’ll start out-fitting her with better jewelry and cloaks as I have Guilded SMs in those professions.  I’ll probably start to stock-pile some of the guild items such that I can have some critted sets all ready to go.  I don’t have a weaponsmith (or a woodworker) but I’m not too terribly worried about it quite yet as I’ve been able to find some reasonable things off the AH.  And I do know a few so when I get higher I can bug them for stuff.  I haven’t really decided what weapons I’m going to shoot for long term but I really like axes and I’m thinking a main hand spear with an axe off-hand would be cool, but perhaps sword and axe is the best combo.  I know I do need to pick up a horn and a rune, I just haven’t had a chance to find one on the AH or have someone make me one.

I’m pretty sure I’m going to bring this character up to the level cap, so you’ll be hearing a bit more about Champions as I progress, and certainly feel free to toss out pointers!  I did pick up some good tips from Merric in this post and discussion but I know I have lots to learn.  And don’t worry, I’m not shelving my other 65s I just haven’t had as much night-time availability for un-interrupted group play and there’s only so many dailies and skirmishes I can do, even though my Captain does still need quite a bit of work…