Slowly leveling, very impressed

I’m about 5% away from level 93 now, and still loving Shadowmoon Valley. As a zone it is well put together. The rares spawn often, they drop interesting and sometimes useful things, the monsters are squishy enough (especially if you overgear the zone), and the travel time between hubs and quest locations is enough to get you “into” the zone and exploring without being tedious. There are the odd special things found along the way, like the quest to kill animals for steaks, or the special events for the garrison.

It is also a little morbid to look at this zone and think about what we know of the alternative from our character’s own timeline. I can see parallels in the geography and that helps make the story’s impact stronger. I wish I was able to level faster, but not at the cost of missing the experience.

ShadowMoonValley-Draenor

Background Music – Blog Azeroth Shared Topic

The current Blog Azeroth Shared Topic – Background Music is on now (8th to 14th Feb), and its something that factors into how I play.

  • When leveling the first times through anywhere I’ll have the sound off, unless I’m totally solo’ing. When solo’ing I like the music.
  • As above for instances, when in them for the first few times I won’t use the sound so I can concentrate.
  • Solo’ing old instances I try to remember to turn the sound on.
  • If I’m not listening to the music, I’m listening to Podcasts, both WoW related and all the other odd podcasts I like.
  • If I’m on vent I’ll not have the sound on, but sometimes will have both my earbuds from my phone in so I can hear podcasts or different music, and also my gaming headset. It means there are a lot of cables around, but during a heavy wow session I don’t move much.
  • The music I’ve been listening to recently is some of Wagner’s Ring Cycle (an opera), and some 90s grunge music. Both styles are the music of my youth.

Happy killing, TyphoonAndrew

Third 90 and more to come I suspect

My Druid ding’ed 90 in WoW last week, which makes a tally of three level ninety characters: a Death Knight, a Warrior, and a Druid.

Next will be my slowly leveling Shaman who is now level 71 (the toon in the top left if the image below) and a long time lost Shadow Priest who is level 82 (bottom left character).

In my character list I also have a handful of 85s and then each class smattered down to a lowbie Monk at level 13. I do not really want to repeat the 85-90 grind so many more times, but the leveling path in Pandaria is so fixed there is little choice. Perhaps I could level by only queuing in Dungeons and just farm my way through the Pandaria starting area for materials to sell. That will only be moderately dull as well but will ensure my lowbies have the ability to increase their professions.

The Wrath of the Lich King content on the baby Shaman is sensational by comparison to 4x more Pandaria zones and a Cataclysm story.

Mortigen, Raze, nagarj, Arkham, Aurac and Yeirah head shots

If I cannot raid regularly in 5.4 due to work & life, then I might as well start working on these alts. Getting through the levels is something I can do whilst also being interrupted, and it is not “hard” content to do. Continue reading

What a few nights a week can do? A lot actually.

Recently…

I’ve been happily playing through the Mists content with my Death Knight, and so far the questing has been excellent. I am now level 88 and getting close to the end of the second zone. By the level of the other players around me I get the impression that others are moving faster through the zones, and having rested XP might be a good cause for that – I am getting more xp per quest because I am generating more rested due to time not playing. Hey, not bad.

If given the choice I would be playing 16 hours a day and not in rested XP at all, but you can’t have everything. If I get to 90 without completing all the zones then I am sure I will get the opportunity over the next year or so to see them fully. Or I’ll complete them at max level and horde all the gold and drops.

The gear from questing is darn good – far better and specialised for the roles of a DK than any other expansion and this is by design. For some classes it might seem odd that they get given two dps options, but each of the plate melee classes/specs has slightly different needs for stats and this gives flexibility.

The Voice of the Deeps heroic two handed sword is ilevel 410 and still far better than any quest drop (at the moment). I guess that eventually I’ll see a weapon that is better, but so far the ilevel 415 greens and blues are not as good. VotD has a damage buff per mastery and the buff in mastery at for the gear above ilevel 400 is huge. I get the impression that it is not meant to be this good. I love it.

…and then last night…

I had the pleasure of playing for a prolonged period and was able to get through level 88 and I am now level 89. This was my stretch goal as I really wanted to get the dps and tanking trinkets from the Brewfest encounter before is ended.

After din’ing 89 I was fortunate enough to have a few guildies online who joined me in killing Direbrew a few times, and grabbed the dps trinket and one of the tanking trinkets.

Stoked!

One alt down, four to go

I’m on a leveling mission: Get each of my toons to the highest level possible before the expansion.

I recently ding’ed 85 on my Warlock – Arkham, which is the second character I ever rolled in World of Warcraft. Now I move onto the remaining four: Priest, Mage, Rogue, and Shaman. For leveling I am using only dps style, and only infrequently doing the 5-man dungeons. As while I know the Dungeons are fantastic for gear and XP, I cannot commit to playing very long due to kiddlet interruptions. I don’t want to be that guy, who goes AFK for ages and needs to be kicked from the team.

As far as the Warlock goes the updates for the class in Mists of Pandaria look very appealing from a cosmetic perspective. It is tempting to fusk around and see if they still play as ruthlessly as they did in The Burning Crusade.

Next highest character is the Shadow Priest at level 81, which I created toward the end of TBC and has almost (a brief journey into Ulduar) always been an alt for Alchemy and Herbalism. Yeirah, you’re up. Get to the face-melting.

Such a silly silly wow’er

World of Warcraft

My wow’ing has increased recently, and as I’m playing more I find that my memory is flawed in some aspects of the game, and an optimal approach is somewhat harder than it used to be. I’m becoming a silly wow’er. As a positive I am enjoying wow a lot again, just in time for the expansion.

For example:

I remembered too late that Normal mode dungeons can be run many times each day, as they do not have a 24 lockout. This means that I could run the Stonecore normal many times a day for the rare mount, rather than once as I was. Doh.

As running normal for mounts is easy I was also doing Heroic UP in Northrend for the Blue Protodrake that drops there too. Imagine my joy in finding that I did not change the difficult after running Stonecore on Normal, when the mount only drops in Heroic mode. Doh, back to the entrance I go. It did seem a little easy.

The weeks activity was not all silly though, as I’ve started alt’ing around again. This time I am concurrently leveling a Mage (51), Warlock (83), Shaman (46), Rogue (50), and Priest (80). My suss is that I can cycle through these characters using the rested experience boost and then switch toons. So far with so many characters I am always playing in rested. Its great.

The reason that I chose these classes is because all my other class characters are already 85. I do get slightly disinterested with some content when you have to play it three times. Often though doing the same content with three perspectives give me an idea for the differences in the class. The squishy factor of a Priest and Warlock are concerning when compared with how tough and mean all the plate wearing classes are (yup, all my plate wearers are max’ed out, not a surprise really).

During the leveling I can sometimes (if the family don’t need help) queue up for a instance and smash monsters in a team. The times when I do this with guildies I get a very quick reminder that I’m a scrub when it comes to playing multiple classes. However when I play in randoms I find that I smash the charts and perform well. That might mean my guildies are very powerful (true), and also might mean that even a total scrub who stays out of the fire is valuable.

It’s a nice reminder of the golden rule: you do zero dps when you’re dead. Happy killing, alt’ing, and noobing.

TyphoonAndrew

A strategy for leveling the Archaeology profession

Here are a few quick thoughts for leveling the Archaeology profession.

  1. Get all the flight paths which have been added in Cata. Many old characters will not have the new flight points, so check your map for flight points you have missed. There is a correlation between the new flight points and the archy nodes.
  2. Grind any and all nodes, trying to stay with a narrow range of racial types, and trying to stay localised to the nodes which are close. I do them in batches of north and south, and use my teleports to switch between north and south as infrequently as possible.
  3. Stay on one continent for each grind session, or even for all the leveling you do.
  4. Remember to use your hearthstones, class teleports, etc (moonglade & ebonhold), so that you port quickly up and down the continent. There are also teleport capes from Guild vendors.
  5. As you can only have a max of 200 fragments for each type, don’t bother to stockpile them past around 150, but as you approach skill 450 you should start stockpiling the fragments you want the rewards from so you hit skill 450 with around 200 fragments.
  6. Get a good podcast or some great music to pass the time. I use the gryphons as much as possible so I can do other things like house chores and read while traveling.
  7. Learn which dig sites are smaller, and do them as a priority. The smaller sites are faster to resolve, so you’re on you way faster. I sometimes skip the large ones, as that makes for the most efficient fragments per minute.

the survey tool for archaeology

Get used to seeing this little tool, and never trust how far it tells you. It lies.

These have been garnered through rolling into the Internet and through my own frustration in the archy grind.

Also the best advice I could give is to grab a mod to assist. The Archy mod allows you to filter the sites by their racial source, making it far easier to target your fragments. This is a must if you’re trying to farm for a specific drop – like the beautiful two handed sword from the trolls. More on that later.

Happy digging people, may all your fragments arrive in batches of 100.

A guide to learning how to gear a character

I’ve started thinking about one of my alts as the next character to play a bit, and realised that my knowledge on the class mechanics for almost all of them is well out of date. In digging for answers across many classes and roles, it turns out that I follow a set of very similar steps regardless of the character.

So here is my cheat-sheet / guide for learning about a class.

Start with the EJ forms landing page for your class.

This will be initially an overload of information, but it is best to jump into the deep end. Sometimes printing the first post and reading in spare time is better to get a grip on the information presented. Go to Elitist Jerks, click the class mechanics. Find the thread for the spec that you’re interested in. These will usually have a leading 25-30 lines of basic information on stats, gems, specs, and rotations. Skip any of the comments after the first ten.

 http://elitistjerks.com/forums.php

 Then jump into the class specific forums on the official forums. Generally you’ll not see anything as useful or detailed as in the EJ forums, but there is still sometimes a post that is “how to”, or “introduction” based. Generally skip the comments, as they will be less and less useful as you get further through them.

Things to establish first are: How to select a Talent Tree.

 Pick the tree which is suitable for the way you wish to play in a broad way of speaking, and confirm that it is useful for levelling by doing a quick Google search. Each class will have many ways to level, but one spec which is considered better than others. For almost all cases this means picking a tree which has high dps particularly if it is burst dps, and potentially either a good set of defensive or “oh-shit” buttons, or a spec which gains a pet.

Examples of the really solid levelling talent trees for classes are:

  • Demonology Warlocks,
  • Beast Master Hunters,
  • Unholy Death Knights,
  • Frost Mages,
  • Shadow Priests,
  • Ret Paladins,
  • Feral-Cat Druids,

Basically any dps role if the class only has one dps talent tree. There are also very viable ways to level in almost any tree, these are just the most common, or easy.

For spending your points use the spec listed in some forums (below), but remember to only spend a maximum of 5 points per level. You do this so that you can select powers deeper in the tree, as the powers generally get much better the further down the tree you select. Be careful not to select abilities which are focused on either a lot of survival or reducing cool-downs on stuns and such, as they are generally for PvP, not for levelling. You’ll have an opportunity to grab some of them later anyway.

Continue reading

1-85 with no quests or kills? Yup

An insane player has leveled a character to level 85 without killing a mob or completing a quest in Warcraft. So there you hve it, we have found one of the top 10 greatest insane players of WoW. And it was done in good time too, started in November 2010. That is faster than some other players who play normally. After all that gathering the character probably also has a fair amount of money or a huge stockpile of materials for enhancing professions.

Who is this person – Everbloom of Feathermoon-US, as reported by Pc Gamer. Great name selection for that task, and I guess he chose well, by selecting a Druid – at least you’d not have to come out of Bird form to herb, and having Stealth and Shadowmeld would have helped too.

“Being on the ground and sneaking around mining and herbing and eventually archaeology, going everywhere to get every single point of discovery xp that you can, really gives you a chance to see an amazing world up close and personal. I spent hours swimming around reefs and flying to the farthest reaches of the maps… I have been playing since day 1 on other characters and I even have an original Loremaster (you know, back when it was hard) and I saw so MANY new things with Everbloom that it really made it worthwhile for me to continue on with this character, and each level was a major achievement!”

A very serious congratulations for sticking to it.

AFK, Real World Crit my Gamming

Its been a long time since I posted regularly, and by golly gee its been busy – both in game and out.

I’ve been planning a huge life event (because you can’t say wedding without somebody charging you a 200% bullshit surcharge), changing to a new and exciting job, and also burning time on trying to find a house to buy. By comparison a Sarth 3D kill will a tank and healer AFK, and 3 screen-lickers is easy.

But you don’t read a wow blog to ponder my real life ramblings, so straight to the wow goodies:

A new Guild

After much nashing of teeth and requests, I’ve moved 3 toons into Insidious of Nagrand. The members are almost all people I knew before joining, and it is great to have a few of the wow circles I know combine into a guild. Darn good people really help the game stay fun.

I am a very happy player at the moment with the guild.

General Instance Grind is dull

I am sick of running heroics. Period. Five level 80 characters means a heroic is dull and old content. That goes double for OCC due to the suckage of players and stupid fight mechanics, and triple for HOL and and HOS which just take too damn long.

That said, I’d do any of them with a good set of players and enjoy it; just wish that the Pug system could allow some team matching based upon likes as well as dislikes.

Warlock love

I dusted off my Warlock recently and in the free time I had between jobs, I now have a Level 80 toon who is hopelessly under-geared. It is frustrating to be a solid level 79 who can top the damage and scream flaming death at everything one day, but at 80 then be reduced to a total scrub again.

Thus begins the gear grind on my 5th level 80 character. He has over 100 recent achievements, but the good ones are:

  • Level 80 (duh!)
  • 1500 quests (when did that happen?)
  • The regular Dungeon Master (all the LK normals complete)
  • Heroic UP: Girl Skadi and Lodi Dodo at once – which is easy now with 264 epic toons to run with.
  • First item of the T9 badge set – and the dread that all the others will take months to get.
  • Looking for Many award.
  • A stack of H runs, gear updates, and wasted money on ilevel 200 gear.

Death Knight, still darn fun

  • DPS gearset is looking OK. T10 in four places now, with three items the “Santified” upgraded T10. Just need to replace my Helm, Neck, and Ring – and I’m golden.
  • Tank set is a little more work, but still ok. I have a T10 Glove from VoA that is altogether pointless unless I also grab another T10 item – which will be soon. T10 Shoulders for Tanking look average, but will at the very least get me the first set bonus.
  • Took the time to actually get the Weekly Raid, Daily quests, and the VoA all done in one week – which for me is a twice a year thing given the time that takes and the amount I play.

Druid, Bear is for Tank, but Boomkin is feathery fun.

  • Also got VoA and weeklies done, and slowly bumped my Boomkin set to mid 4.5ks, which is ok.
  • Then got into my guild’s ICC 10 man run, and replaced 4 items in one night. Now the Boomkin set is in the health 5250 range, and the Tank set ios around the same level. So in one or two runs my Druid has comparable gear to my DK (dk = 5.45/5.1 vs Druid = 5.25/5.2).
  • Boomkin is fun, and the form is so cool that it makes me behave like a stupid kid. Silly jokes in raid chat, bouncing while dps’ing, and altogether strange behaviour is what the CritChicken does to me.
  • I love the Starfall change.
  • I can’t wait for a UI element that will make detecting the procs faster. I know it won’t help my dps (as I have been known to faceroll when tired), but will certainly make me feel guilty about it.
  • I think getting runs will be easy now should I choose, as 5.2 seems to be the sweet spot for getting invites at the moment.

Next update will either be really soon. or another month away. No idea – we’ll see.

Hope the bosses drop all the good stuff for you, and you find a game ticket on the train.

Downranking Paladin Tank stats

kid in a toy tankWhile you’re leveling you’re always hunting for the best gear, and IMHO good Tank gear is not as common as other stuff. As you get to 70 that gear continues to improve well past the pre-70 items.

But I’ve noticed that as a Paladin Tank you need to swap gear out if you’re doing a lower level instance (downranking gear rather than spells). This is so that you’re not as tough as you are normally.

You’ll actually take damage, so you can get healed; and continue to load threat where you need to.

Q. How rare are pre-70 Paladin tanks, and what can we expect? Continue reading

Gearing Attitude

Finding gear on your toons is a constant goal while leveling, and then becomes the primary target for the way to differentiate yourself from other players at 70.

Class dependency and spec choice will help determine what upgrade path is best, and many specific class sites, blogs, and forums will help with this (but please keep reading).

However a key point I have noticed in the change from pre-70 to 70 is the realisation that the upgrades, patches, and enchants for gear is critical in improving your gear.

I like to think about it like the player is taking responsibility for the condition of their character and the manner that character affects the world.

Spending the materials and time in getting it properly setup may be seen as a waste, as the gear might change; but that gear may also stay static for several weeks. Over those weeks you are reaping the reward of applying the enchant. I agree to a point that you should not waste enchant mats, but simple armour kit or enchant can help your team not suffer as much.

The effort to carry your character through an instance that has not applied some simple upgrades can be noticeable to the other players. And the good news is that these upgrades can also have a reverse bonus affect, they can increase your gear to a level well above basic performance. By enchanting and buffing your gear everyone wins.

Honestly there is no excuse when you have a 70, as money from daily quests will allow you to purchase most simple updates. The exception to this is Rep Reward upgrades which will be a while away for recent 80s, and most players can appreciate those being missing. The next time I see a toon with no enchants and no patches, I’ll be speaking out immediately.

Lastly as a rant on the side – Why then can my enchanter not be used to advantage on my other characters?

It is a totally broken aspect of the game, and while I suspect Blizzard will fix this eventually, I think the fix will only be in response to an external force (such as game feature comparisons). I don’t care if these were Bind to Account (BtA) so that only alts could use them; and imagine how cool it would be to scan the AH for Enchanting Kits the same way we can Armor Kits (Leatherworking), Scopes (Engineering), Spell Weave (Tailoring), Gems (Jewelcrafting) etc.

Please Blizzard, allow us to create Enchanting Kits, to swap between our characters.

Toon Update

Heya all – time for another toon update…

Paladin “needs more rage”

After a good few afternoons of questing and grinding, I’ve dinged level 66 on my Paladin and now thinking of a Protection respect. I’ve played a Holy pally through the some of the 60 end-game (MC, ZG), and a Warlock into 70 (early Kara); so Healing and DPS are things that I understand pretty well. Thus I’m pretty nervous about Prot, as tanking is the skill that skill that I’ve tried to avoid till now.

As example of why– I’ve never tanked more than SM on my lowbie 38 Warrior, and I made a dog’s breakfast out of it (bad pug, and my lack of understanding made it worse).

However the Tankadin looks like a winning tank IMHO. If what I read is correct they can multi-mob tank very well, and their TPS (threat per second) is based upon holy damage which only gets better with +damage gear. Being bad at multi-mob tanking is the thing that kept we away from Tanking in the first place, and if being a Tankadin makes this easier to do, then I’ll try it. That nifty ability to grab aggro for 3 seconds from anyone will come in way handy, especially once I grab a macro that makes targeting it simple.

Being a tank will also make getting groups easier, as almost every LFG tell I see is looking for a healer or tank. I’ve got no intention of trying to split between Prot and Holy, and on first look the Prot + Ret looks the way to go, and I’ll leave the healing to somebody else. I figure I can always bubble + heal / bandage when solo, and in instances it shouldn’t be my problem.

Tankadin – good for tanking, but what about levelling?
Although this all looks fantastic, a fear I have is that the capacity for levelling after a respect will go out the window. I’ve been told that killing one mob, or killing 3 is about the same for a Prot paladin. So the question comes – when is best to make the switch?

Another part of my brain is saying “stay Retribution man, you’ll get to 70 faster”. Gear will be replaced, and keep levelling as Ret, but pick the Tanking quest rewards, so that I have good gear when finally switching over.

One of the guides that I’m reading has a good discussion going; especially for the pre-60 path.

And a tank build linked from there, which looks sensible for a full time tank, but I’m not sure about it for levelling.

The reason I say this is that Seal of Command is excellent for quickly dropping casters, especially when you have a good two hander. And I know you shouldn’t have a 2h weapon while Prot, but there are times that maybe SoC might be handy. Warlocks especially frustrate me, Shamans a bit less, then Druids, and then other Paladins. When I’m grinding I want some plain mobs, that hit like trucks and have no special abilities which I’ve got to try and stun/stop.

I’m thinking that the 5pts in Holy which gain 10% extra Int might not be worth it. I can add 3 more points in Ret and get SoC, a bonus to Parry, and still get a 2 pts in Holy for a minor Int bump. I was thinking of this build as an alternative. This spec is 2/46/13 which means that I can skip the 2 in Holy and 2 in Ret, while at 66 – and add them in as I level.

Finally I suppose that if I really suck at tanking I can always re-spec back to Ret (gold cost aside); and then be a Ret-nub in the LFG channel till the WotLK is released.

A great fun Run – Blood Furnace
DPS from the Blood Furnace A side note for the weekend was my run in Blood Furnace. The pug was great, we didn’t wipe, and handled the mobs well. A good reason for this was the 70 Priest who was healing us, and the tank who didn’t mind when I stole aggro. Being a 65 and the instance is for the 62-63s helped too, but we honnestly did communicate well, and were patient with each other. A few times we took our foot of the pedal to take a break, and still the tempo was maintained. I also dinged 66 during the run, and the Warlock dinged 61.

Warlock is now friendly with Ogrilla-la-la-la
This weekend the guildies also finally got my Warlock friendly with Ogrilla, which means I have access to a stack more daily quests. This is great for the gold generation, especially as the Bombing run is far easier when you have an epic flyer. A guild-mate on a standard flyer was having a bit of trouble getting dismounted, while I was able to duck-and-weave through most of the cannon fire. I’m sure once he gets some practice, he’ll be showing me up, and then when he gets an epic, all be handed my arse (he’s a pally so goes pretty fast once he has a good flyer).

How to raise your weapon skill

Update: As Weapon Skills have been removed from the game, this post is moot.

Feel free to continue reading for the hell of it though, and please comment, and/or just send cake. I like cake.

When leveling an Alt, I often ignore the weapon skills that are not in use for the leveling build. However sometimes you change weapon skills, and need to raise them. And that is a pain – so here is some advice on leveling weapon skills.

General.

  • Read the comments on this post – some of the best information is in them, and you’ll get regular updates as folks comment.
  • The level of the mob has nothing to do with how fast your skill will go up. If you swing 100 times at a level 1 mob you’ll gain the same amount as swinging at a much higher level mob.
  • Find mobs that will gain you XP – if you don’t want your time to seem like a complete waste. This means you’ll get some XP, but will also be at a much higher risk. Maybe 2 levels lower is good.
  • Or pick mobs that have no chance of killing you, say 25-30 levels lower. This way they have enough HP to survive more than 1 hit, but not be any danger at all.
  • Use junk or normal (gray or white) weapons, as they will do less damage per swing, and you’ll get more time with the mob before moving on.
  • Choose a weapon with a fast attack speed, as this means more swings per minute.
  • New: The Argent Tournament weapon does 1-2 pts per swing, so it has to be considered for this, although I’m not sure what weapon skill it would apply for. Pole arms?
  • An excellent and easy source of junk weapons is starting toons. Make a character, send its junk gear to your character and delete it.
  • Don’t wear your best gear, as repairs can be expensive (epic repair bills are no fun). Either wear junkier gear, or none at all.
  • Get an +Int buff to help your character learn quickly. This was quasi-confirmed by a community manager in late 2007, but may have still changed. As long as the buff is free, its no waste to grab one just in case. (edit: I had this backward/wrong, thanks Benny)
  • Have healing planned, or have somewhere to run to – as you might end up low on health.
  • Apparently this also affects Trade skills, if so that is legendary for power-training (see the comment below)

Class Tips:

  • Warlocks should banish the mobs, or get a warlock to banish the thing you want to fight.
  • Paladins have an Attack Speed buff, so use that too. More swings is what you’re after.
  • Dual wield if you can – it will increase the swing rate.
  • Some class special attacks count as swings or attacks too, so use these. These are sometimes best on mobs that are immune to the attack, like using Rend on Undead.

Where to go?

  • Pick an instance, as the mobs are tougher and won’t die as quickly.
  • Stockades is great as it is close to a vendor to sell the junk drops, and can get some Twink gear that sells well. Re-spawn is also very fast in the Stockades.
  • Dire Maul is apparently the “new black” of weapon skill raising. Big Bear Butt even created a video showing how to get there. He is a god in fury clothing.

Who to kill?

  • Servant of Allistarj, in the Blasted Lands. This mob about 54 or 55, and is immune to attack unless you’re on the quest, or attack the Orb near him. Grind away. [update: apparently they nurfed this]
  • Corrupter of ??, in Shadowmoon Valley, are immune to attack, and should not aggro till you attack the totems.
  • Dr Boom in Netherstorm is good for ranged attacks, as his bombs will not reach you.
  • Boss 1 in Shadow Labs, if you can get behind him without activating the mobs near him.

Happy skill raising.