Saturday, July 18, 2009

RL Intervenes

Well, the leveling process is going to be a bit slower this week as I'll be heading to the mountains on vacation. My wife was wise enough to book us into a cabin without Internet access to avoid the possiblity of me and my thirteen-year-old son spending the entire vacation sitting at our laptops playing WoW! So, needless to say, I won't be either playing or posting much for the next week or so.

I did make a little bit of progress this past week, although being out of town for three of the days, plus a maintenance day slowed me down quite a bit. I did manage to get my alliance hunter, Reladaar to 58 and safely ensconced in Outland. Woo hoo!

I also got the Paladin to 16 and in the process decided to abandon my experiment with Team iDemise's QuestUp product. I can only take so many quests where I'm being told to kill mobs 2-3 levels higher than me. Too many corpse runs for me to think it's going to be all the efficient or speedy for leveling.

Finally, I've been working hard on my Shaman, Mograwn and have him up to level 22. I plan to get him to level 24 before I switch to working on another toon.

I think I'm going to go with a rotation of four toons for leveling, rather than the full 8. So it will be the hunter, paladin, druid and shaman until one gets to 80 (will obviously be the hunter first) and will then throw another toon into the mix. I'm thinking about leaving the priest for last and trying to level him strictly through PvP post-patch just to see how that goes!

Anyway - off to a relaxing week in the mountains!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Recent Warlock Q&A

For those of you that haven't seen it, the World of Warcraft development team recently went through a Q&A session about upcoming Warlock changes.

While most people seem to be pretty down on warlocks at the moment, as my original main class, it remains the class that I love the most. So I was pretty excited to read about some of the developers longer term plans for the class.

Sounds like they've got some interesting plans in store for the use of soul shards that will change them from being something that needs to be farmed to something that is a lot more fun and impressive when the warlock decides to burn a shard. They're looking to "make shards fun and remove the hassle" having them "provide a combat boost when needed without becoming a resource that needs to be farmed". From the sounds of it, it seems like the need to use soul shards for summoning or for creating soulstones or healthstones might go away, but they'd becoming more a part of the warlocks combat rotations ala Soulfire. As long as warlocks maintain those utility features, it should be a great change.

There were a few questions in the Q&A about the level of threat that warlocks generate in PvE and how vulnerable warlocks are to stuns and to melee classes (rogues in particular) in PvP. Both of these questions got a dodge that would have made a politician proud. At the end of the day, I'm guessing that the current view of the development team is that both of these things are just part of the trade off for playing the class.

There's also a discussion about increasing pet survivability, particularly for PvP, including a mention of giving pets resilience!

Finally, the last piece of the Q&A that had me particularly excited was the mention of the possibility of warlock class specific flying mounts. Flying demon riders anyone? They did mention that we'd have to go back to Dire Maul to get it, but then said they were just kidding - but honestly, from a lore perspective, that's actually not a half bad idea, especially now that most warlocks haven't had to do the Dire Maul runs in the first place in order to get their epic mounts.

There's a few other things out there that are also pretty interesting including a discussion around giving warlocks green fire (they're thinking about it), the ability to customize the way your pet looks (maybe my felguard would be in a better mood and stop insulting me so much if he had a better hairdo), and providing a little more burst for afflicition (via Haunt).

All very interesting stuff and worth a read! http://www.wow.com/2009/07/02/warlock-qanda-with-ghostcrawler-and-pals/

The changes to soul shard mechanics could have an interesting impact on leveling if things like soulstones and healthstones no longer need shards. Also, improving pet scaling and increasing their survivability will only further increase the ease with which warlocks can level.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Weekend update

Well, it was a pretty productive weekend for leveling, although not as productive as I would have liked. I was working on grinding out honor to get some more PvP gear for a couple of my existing level 80's, as well as doing a few arena battles with my son - just the bare minimum 10 to get points for the week - although we went 6-4, which I consider wildly successful!

Beyond that, I also ran him through Scarlet Monastery a couple of times to help him level his pally, all the while complaining to him that he'd never learn to play his class if he didn't do the leveling himself.

Besides that, I did manage to get my Shaman, Mograwn to level 20. That doesn't sound like much of an accomplishment, except when you factor in that I did complete the level 20 Shaman quest for the Water Totem. All that running around literally took several hours!

I also got the Paladin, Joaridan, to level 15. This is the first toon that I'm trying to level using TeamiDemise's leveling guide, QuestUp. My initial reactions to the guide through level 13 were pretty positive - seemed very fast - but then upon initially heading to the Barrens and completing the first few plainstrider / quillboar quests there, it then had me head over to kill harpies for Witchwing Talons. Even for a ret pally, killing mobs 2-3 levels higher than me is a little tough and doesn't seem to be the most efficient way of leveling given the time spent dead. We'll see. I'm not ready to stop using it yet, but that one little quirk in their questing path has me pretty turned off.

Branwyn the druid is also now a happy level 38!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

To Raid or Not To Raid

I really enjoy raiding. I enjoy working with a group to conquer difficult challenges, overcoming obstacles and most of all, seeing new content. I enjoy learning more about my class from other players. And I enjoy the whole group dynamic - getting to know more people in the game.

And the best way to get involved in actively raiding end-game content is to join a raiding guild. And I enjoy being part of a fun, active guild. Chatting with members of the guild while questing and helping out where I can.

But here are the parts of the game that can frustrate me a bit. Guild politics. You invest the time getting to know a group of people, learning to work with their play styles and then people get upset and leave over loot or some perceived slight or just move on to what they believe are greener pastures. And it feels like you have to start all over again. Like you just lost 10 levels somehow.

Waiting around drives me crazy. That's why I very rarely pug anything. If I'm all your looking for and the group is ready to go, sign me up - but the last thing I want to do is spend an hour waiting around for people to buy consumables, repair, or just find other roles to fill in the raid. I could have done something a lot more productive with that hour.

So is PvP the answer? That little queue button is always there, guaranteeing a group whenever you want and giving you access to high iLevel gear, if you're just willing to invest the time. Or is WoW solo / WoW alone the answer - just doing your own thing, leveling your toons, working on achievements or collections and generally focusing on your own goals in the game.

I think it's a balance. I enjoy the social aspects of the game and the interaction with other real people. It's part of the reason I'm playing WoW and not a console game. And I still do enjoy raiding and want the opportunity to do raids when I can make it work with my schedule (which is not often!) - and that generally means belonging to a guild. But I'm generally very happy with the challenges that go with leveling and learning a new class. It does raise the question of what to do once you've got a player of each class to 80, but I think I'll happily cross that bridge when I come to it.

I often hear from other in-game friends with multiple toons that they're done with leveling alts. That they just couldn't stand doing the quests in Azeroth again. For me, they're always a little different attempting them with a different class. The different mechanics and the different way to approach each quest with a new class still makes it engaging, even if it's a quest that I've done 10 times before.

That does also argue in favor of splitting my 10 toons between Alliance and Horde, because at least that way there are certain quests you'll only be repeating 5 times rather than 10. The downside of that approach is that you lose the ability to stay in touch with a single group of people throughout the process of leveling all 10 toons. If you're truly flying solo, I'd recommend splitting them up. If the connectivity is important to you, go with all one faction (or maybe only one toon from the other faction so you get to see at least one time through of the other faction's content).

I've been a little short on play time this week for various reasons, so no real progress on any of my leveling toons to report. The next several weeks are going to be a little light on play time with vacation schedules and various other travel obligations.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Maximizing rested xp when leveling alts

OK, so I decided to go ahead and do some math to figure out what the best way was to maximize rested xp when leveling alts. My original assumption, which I posted earlier, was that doing about 6 levels per character should about do it, but when I run the math, it comes out significantly less than that. One quick caveat - there are a couple of assumptions in here that are specific to me - one being that I play around 40 hours per week, and I'm also looking to level 8 more toons to 80, rather than a full 10. If your play time is higher or lower, or if you're leveling a different number of toons to 80, you should be able to adjust this math accordingly.

First, I'm starting with the fact, per Blizz, that rested xp accumulates at 5% of a level per 8 hours and is capped at 150% of a level, which takes 10 days.

Then assuming an 8 day played time to 80, it should take about 2.5 hours per level, so if I'm playing 6 hours per day on average, that also works out to 2.5 levels per day. So, between working on each toon, I want to advance a total of 25 levels. If I'm leveling 8 toons, then for the 7 characters that I work on in between, I need to do 25/7 or about 3 1/2 levels per toon. So let's call it 4. Note, that I'm using even numbers because that let's you go get training and park your toon in a major city for the rested xp.

Now, if you're starting from scratch, and the early levels tend to fly by, you may want to adjust this a bit. The total 10 days, works out to about 60 hours of playing time, divided between 7 toons is 8 1/2 hours per toon. Interestingly enough, that should work out to taking each toon to approximatley level 18 at first, and then starting the pattern from there. It may even make sense to increase it to 6 for the first pass after level 18 since the levels still go pretty quickly at that low level.

If you're starting from scratch and doing 10 toons, I don't think the math really changes all that much because of the Death Knight factor, and because I've rounded pretty significantly here.

So, to sum it all up, you'd take you're first toon to 18, park him, then move onto the next one until you get them all to 18, then go back to the first one and level him to 24, park him, and move throught the others, then go back to the first toon, level to 28 and then continue in 4 leve increments. At some point, it will probably make sense to switch to every two levels - either in Outland or Northend. Just keep tracking of your leveling time. If it starts getting closer to 5 hours per level, then switch to every two levels instead of every four.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Toon Updates

I've been making some decent progress on several of my toons lately, so wanted to post a quick update:

Branwyn - Tauren Druid - is now at level 35! woo hoo!
Joaridan - Blood Elf Paladin - to level 13
Mograwn - Tauren Shaman - level 17

At the moment, I'm basically alternating leveling the druid and the paladin to maximize the rested xp and leaving my alliance hunter on the shelf for a little while. I want to get to healers leveled up since it's one of those things I don't have at the moment and haven't done - and think it would be fun to try.

The druid has been pretty easy to level so far, although at least at the lower levels, the paladin seems to carve through everything, even without any particularly meaningful talents at this point. I think the druid gives me more options for healing in the long run, so I think I'm still going to stick that one out. I'm leveling as feral of course, but will switch to resto once I get to 80 (or maybe before...).

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Leveling Guide Reviews

During the course of leveling my various characters, there are two things that I find to be invaluable. The first is Carbonite - it's a great add on for questing - showing the locations on the map for various quest objectives and lots of other things. I even find it helpful after leveling, just for the ability to set a goto point with corresponding arrow anywhere on the map.

The second thing that I have found to be very helpful is a leveling guide. I've now used three different guides. For my original character, Joar, I leveled him all the way to 80 using Joana's guide. I found Joana's to be easy to use and seemed to generate an efficient leveling process. Some of the quests were difficult for me as a warlock and seemed to be more geared to a hunter. Also, at the time, there was not an in-game leveling guide available for 1-70, and the constant alt-tabbing did make that difficult. Joana now has an in-game mod available for the full 1-80 run.

On Tormal, granted it was only from 55-80, but I used Zygor's. I found Zygor's to be much easier to use than Joana's with the in-game mod being less obtrusive and the arrow always helpfully pointing the way. The inclusion of class quests was also a huge plus. The leveling path, though, particularly at early levels, can be a bit frustrating as it seems to involve a lot of running back and forth between Kalimdor and Eastern Kingdoms, all the name of avoiding grinding. Joana's didn't involve that back and forth and still seemed to successfully avoid the grinding.

I've now started to use Team iDemise's new guide, QuestUp Horde, to level my new paladin. This guide works similar to Zygors in that it is a fairly unobtrusive addon with nice arrows pointing the way. It doesn't appear to include class quests, which is a definite negative. It's leveling path is apparently based on data gathered from thousands of players who have leveled to 80 the fastest. I've only used it to level 8 at this point, but so far it works pretty well. Some of the initial routing in the blood elf starting area didn't seem quite as efficient as Zygor's, but I'm willing to forgive that if it doesn't have me running back and forth between Undercity and Orgrimmar later on. I'll keep you informed.

For now, if you're not rolling a hunter, I'd recommend Zygor's. If you're rollign a hunter, no one knows hunters like Joana, and I'd do it her way! I know iDemise is working on a new version and I'm hoping it'll include class quests. If you're rolling a class were there just aren't that many class quests, the iDemise product may be a good way to go. All seem very good and all will help improve your leveling time.