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I just play the game

I just play the game
It's human to get upset about things. And sometimes, it's human to get upset about the most trivial things, because they're the safest things to get upset about. I often view World of Warcraft through this lens. Indeed, I view it through a great many lenses, because it's impossible to not apply my life and my experiences to everything I encounter in this world from events of great personal significance or global importance down to the video games I play. And it would be fair to say that World of Warcraft has more than a passing importance in my life, considering where you're reading this.

The recent change on the patch 5.4 PTR changing the Glyph of the Weaponmaster was, in real terms, completely insignificant. A cosmetic glyph in the first place, the idea that it worked with legendaries was nice, but hardly significant. I mean, I play the game now and I can't use my legendaries, so what changes? Realistically, nothing changes. And yet, I wasn't merely disappointed by the change. I was outright enraged by it, far more so than I have been by direct nerfs to my class of choice.

Part of it is due to attachment -- we invest time and effort into these avatars of ourselves, after all. But in the end, much of my anger was rooted in the fact that this was something small (in relative terms, since all of WoW can be considered small compared to many of the shocks and calamities of our actual lives) and harmless, that gave our characters nothing in terms of power or ability, that imbalanced absolutely nothing in terms of gameplay, and yet it was still taken from us. Sometimes, the smallest cuts hurt more entirely because they are small.
I just play the game
Yet their very smallness, their lack of importance, their ultimately trivial nature must be acknowledged. Losing the ability to carry a few legendaries around in my main backpack does not break the game for me - in real terms, I haven't even lost that, I can still carry them, and even equip them while standing around outside a raid portal or in the Shrine. This small change to a completely cosmetic glyph is so unimportant that its lack of importance is in itself somewhat impossible to truly unravel. The world spins on. The game is huge, staggeringly complex, with so many moving parts and variables that it is at times dizzying to contemplate them all. So many class abilities, talents, glyphs to balance, so many art assets, items, armor pieces, weapons shared across eleven classes, thirty-four talent specs. It's no wonder strange artifacts pop into existence like orc shoulders suddenly being tiny, or the original size of the Headless Horseman's helm on a tauren. (Yes, those are terrible old screenshots. And yes, I've been playing forever.) My anger over the glyph being changed is all tied up in the fact that I can't see why it was changed from my vantage point, but that doesn't mean there isn't a reason to do so.

I'm not going to bother to make the argument that it's unfair to players of other classes if warriors get to display their legendaries in current content, because others already have, and also because I don't believe it to be true - it's an argument I expect to be made, but not one I find compelling. This game has plenty of class specific glyphs and perks, from a talent that summons Ashbringer for paladins to druids being able to instantly fly to an entire difficult scenario just so warlocks can change the color of their spells. In the end, allowing warriors to use their legendaries cosmetically while playing in current content would have been a nice, non-balance threatening way to give them a unique perk based on the class lore as masters of weapons and armed combat. But I just play the game. Furthermore, I really just play a few classes - my only max level characters are warriors and shaman, with some hunters and a DK inching their way upwards. I simply cannot see the game for what it is. I can't grasp all the moving parts, and I certainly am aware of the importance of purely cosmetic things like this glyph or transmogrification. I've spent so much time cutting a wide swath through older content, I can't pretend to be unaware of it. It's possible that in this instance, allowing only one class a means to display those rare orange pixels would have an effect far beyond what I can possibly understand.

That doesn't make it less enraging, but perhaps that's because its safe to get enraged about it - it is a trivial change to a trivial part of the game. It doesn't break balance either way. It's very smallness makes it safe to be invested in because after its all over, nothing will have changed. I would have used the glyph. Now I won't. Things progress on. In five years I'll have embarrassing screenshots from the Siege of Orgrimmar to link back to. Like I said, I just play the game.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Transmogrification, Mists of Pandaria

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