Monday, November 30, 2009

Pre-Cataclysm Goals

So as I've stated before here, my primary goal pre-Cataclysm is to get at least 8 or 9 of my toons to 80 before the expansion hits, leaving me with one or two toons to level as new goblins. I've tried to do a lot of math here before around the number of hours it takes to level in each bracket and how many hours I can play, but I've recently been catching up on another blog http://noobding.blogspot.com/. In that blog, Captain the First lays out his leveling plan with a very simple approach - one level per day.

My initial reaction to that was that one level per day was ridiculously low - particularly at early levels, they can be knocked out in an hour or two. Even in the 70's, it rarely takes more than 4 hours or so. But then I realized that doesn't factor in vacations and other times you just can't play.

So, being a numbers guy, I went and pulled the data for my toons and looked at what my levels per day have been since I first started posting this blog back in June. 0.8. All of a sudden, that one level per day isn't looking so ridiculously low!

Now I have to caveat that by saying that I've been doing a lot more than just leveling alts during that time period - I've been doing some achievement whoring on my main, gearing up two new level 80's for both heroics and PvP (including a def cap heroic set for my DK). Maxing out professions on those new 80's and doing a lot of instance runs and a few raids on my main. Oh, and I also had about four weeks in there where I couldn't play at all either because of vacation or work related travel.

So now I'm wondering if I really focus on leveling, how high can I get that level per day number? We'll see. Based on my calculations for the 5 toons that I still have to get to 80 to reach my magic goal of 8, I've got a total of 223 levels remaining. So at a rate of one level per day, I'll have hit 80 on all of them in July of next year. There's a ton of prognosticating going on out there about when Cataclysm will be release, but mid-Summer seems as good a guess as any. And if it ends up being later, that'll give me time to max out professions on a few more of those toons and I can go ahead and power level that rogue if I've still go time. Or work on Loremaster on Joar.

I've done a little bit of leveling over the last few days, mainly on the priest, but also got a level or so on the mage, shaman and hunter. So here's where we sit with the non-level 80 toons right now (excluding my level 80 warlock, druid and death knight):

Tuvalu - Troll Hunter - level 69
Cador - Blood Elf Paladin - level 38
Mograwn - Tauren Shaman - level 27
Vindoria - Bloood Elf Mage - level 24
Zinjar - Troll Priest - level 19.

The Value of BoA pieces

I've been debating the value of getting the BoA chest pieces for the toons that I'm still working on leveling to 80. My original main, Joar, is about 65% complete with the Argent Tournament dailies needed to get to Crusader. I've also got Exalted with 2 of the 5 factions needed and am at least half way through Revered on each of the other 3. Even thought that doesn't sound like much, I'm still debating whether Crusader is worth finishing from a sheer time value standpoint.

Of the toons that I have remaining to level, the same BoA chest piece can only be optimally used on a maximum of two toons. Assuming an average leveling time now is around 8 days, or 192 hours, an additional 10% xp bonus should save me around 19 hours on each toon, or 38 hours total for each of the toons.

Doing the Argent Tournament dailies takes at most an hour and a half each day to finish and with 8 days worth left, that works out to 12 hours invested. The only remaining question is how long it would take to get the remaining three factions to Exalted. If I could do it in less than 26 hours, it seems like it would be worthwhile.

If I only had one toon that would be using the chest piece, the value becomes less clear.

After patch 3.3 drops, I think badges will actually be the preferred route for acquiring these items rather than Champion seals. If the average heroic conservatively takes an hour and drops an average of 4 badges, it should only take 10 hours to accumulate 40 badges, which should be less than the questing time it takes to accumulate 60 Champion Seals.

So my conclusion is that it's worthwhile to continue to work toward Crusader on Joar until patch 3.3 comes out because the time saved in leveling my mage and priest should more than offset the time invested on Joar. After that, I should be able to get by with just acquiring the plate BoA chest piece for my paladin and warrior and just have the the shaman use the leather piece that my druid used.

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Pilgrim's Progress

So, I'm not going to finish this Thanksgiving event on Joar - my main and resident achievement whore. Oh well. We're heading out of town for the RL Thanksgiving holiday and my play time this week was pretty much limited to today. So I'm about 5 rogues short of the Turkey feathering achievement, and I started too late in the day to have much luck with the Turkinator achievement. And I don't think I'm going to have the chance to complete either before the holiday finishes up.

The stuff that I did get done was a lot of fun though!

Not much to report on the leveling front since I spent most of my playtime today working on the Pilgrim achievements and also using the holiday event to welfare level cooking on a few of my alts.

I actually don't feel too bad about the ease of leveling cooking using this event - because I did it the hard way from the very beginning on my main - and because as someone that is very involved in preparing my RL family's Thanksgiving meals, it is essentially a huge part of how I've "leveled" my personal cooking skill - so somehow it all makes sense to me.

The only thing missing from the holiday is some of the leftover booze from Brewfest to make spending time with those family members you haven't seen since last year a little bit more tolerable.

Oh, and for those of you with some Northern Spices stashed away, Tracker Snacks (helpful for the Turkinator achievement) have been going for an obscene amount on my servers Auction House (10g each). So farm up some quick Shoveltusk Flank in Howling Fjord, cook up some tracker snacks and watch the money roll.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Hunter to Northrend!

I managed to ding 68 on my Hunter on Friday, so he's off to Northrend, where a shiny new Tome of Cold Weather Flying will be waiting for him.

Also managed to get the Paladin to level 38.

Last, I decided to go ahead and start leveling a Rogue. While the plan was originally to wait for Cataclysm and level a Goblin Rogue, I've already got all the BoA gear from my Druid, so I figured, what the heck. So enter, Rukai, Undead Rogue. Currently level 8.

A quick side note - the name Rukai is from the guildmaster of the first guild I ever joined on my first toon. He's since transferred to a different server, so the name was available.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Cloth Prioritization

I've got a very specific strategy on what to do with cloth drops for my toons while I'm leveling them that I wanted to outline here. There are two things to consider first when deciding what to do with your cloth drops: is this the first toon that I'm leveling to 80, and is the toon that I'm leveling a healer.

If the toon that you're leveling is not a healer, you should definitely be leveling first aid skill while you're questing, so using cloth for first aid skills up should be your first priority.

For your first toon, any excess cloth other than linen (after first aid needs, if any), should be sent to a bank alt and stored. The reason that I suggest doing this is to use for reputation for your first level 80. One of the easiest way to speed leveling for later alts is to get the two BoA armor pieces for each subsequent alt - shoulders and chest. The shoulders are easily obtained by doing the Wintergrasp quests once a week (it will usually let you do them twice a week, actually, if you do them early enough on Tuesday or Wednesday). In order to get the BoA chest pieces, you're going to need the Crusader title, which means running about a month and a half worth of Argent Tournament dailies, but also being exalted with all of your factions home cities. And the easiest way to get to exalted, other than questing through each of the starter zones, is by doing the cloth turn in quests for each city. And that means wool, silk, mageweave and runecloth. So save it up, so that you're first level 80 can get to Crusader that much faster and equip all your later alts with BoA chest pieces for a nice 10% boost to xp.

After you've got one level 80 at Crusader, you could either work on getting a second level 80 there as well to make it that much easier to accumulate chest pieces for your alts, or barring that, I would just sell all excess cloth on the auction house.

Netherweave cloth and frostweave cloth can't be used for faction rep turn ins. If you've got a tailor and enchanter, I'd make Netherweave bags with all your excess Netherweave. Keep enough to stock out all your alts and bank slots and sell the rest. Frostweave can be used to craft gear which can be disenchanted, or can also be made into Frostweave bags, although these are significantly more expensive to make than the Netherweave variety.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Only Professions to Get While Leveling

For those of you interested in rapidly leveling up your toons, while adding a little gold to your bank, there are really only two professions to get while leveling. As you might expect, both are gathering professions. The materials that you gather should generally be mailed immediately to your auction house alt and sold so that you have more than enough gold for mounts, riding training, buff food, scrolls, potions, etc.

Skinning

Skinning is a great gathering profession to pick up simply because it is so quick and easy to level. Simply hit the mouse one extra time to skin the beast that you just had to kill for some random quest anyway. The mail all that leather to your alt to sell. It does also give you a bonus to your critical strike rating, but that's not going to make a huge difference to you while leveling.

Herbalism

This one requires you to go a little more out of your way than skinning, but it's still easy enough to keep the tracker up and stop by and grab the herbs that you see. Plus, as you level it, it will give you a healing ability than can help immensely while leveling.

So why not mining, you ask. I think mining is a great gathering profession to have, but I wouldn't bother with it until you've got at least one or two characters to 80, and here's why - Thorium.

With the massive increases to leveling speed today, chances are pretty good that you'll never see any of the zones that contain a decent amount of Thorium. Winterspring, Silithius, the Plaguelands - most toons hit 58 and head for Outland before visiting any of those places - so it'll require you to go signfiicantly out of your way and spend a lot of time traveling around in places in order to get it leveled to 300. So, I'd skip it and come back later.

Once you start getting toons to 80, you can then start to pick up crafting professions on those toons, which will be much easier to quickly level with all that gold you made from your gathering professions while leveling.

Some of the professions that are particularly helpful to pick up on your first 80 for your leveling lowbies:

Enchanting - not so much for creating enchants for your leveling toons, but to disenchant all of those BoE greens which you pick up while questing. The mats tend to sell more easily on the auction house than the greens themselves.

Tailoring - bags baby. All your alts should be kept stocked with at least a full set of Netherweave bags. Plus, these become a great source of income with Netherweave cloth after your other toons start questing in Outland.

Alchemy - keep your lowbies stocked with pots and also for transmutes later on.

Jewelcrafting (thanks to Fish for pointing out that I initially forgot this) - Jewelcrafting can be a huge benefit while leveling alts. Keeping your alts well gemmed vastly increases the benefit from their gear and makes it serve much longer before you'll need an upgrade. Plus, the crafted rings and necklaces from jewelcrafting are far superior to what you typically find from drops along the way. And lastly, particularly when paired with a transmute spec'd alchemist, this can be an enormous money maker. Prospect blue gems from Saronite, transmute to epic gems, cut and sell. Rinse and repeat.

Also, I always recommend picking up both cooking and first aid (unless you're a healer - can still come in handy then, but not as needed). Cooking is fabulous for creating various buff food that will make leveling faster for you (more on this in a later post). First aid obviously helps with up time.

In terms of a leveling update, I wasn't playing much last week because I had the family in Disney for the week. Had a pretty productive weekend though. I was able to get my hunter to 66 and my paladin to 36. I also did a series of pug chain heroics on my resto druid that was an absolute blast and tanked my first successful heroic on my death knight - and Gundrak no less.

Guild Angst

Well, it's been a while since my last post, primarily because I was in Walt Disney World with my family all of last week and my wife conveniently positioned our 21 month old's porta-crib right next to the only internet jack in our room so that I wouldn't be able to play WoW in the evenings after the kids went to bed. It is supposed to be a vacation after all.

I did end up having an extremely productive WoW weekend though. I ended up chain running about 10 heroics with my resto druid without any problems at all. I'm still geared mostly in PvP stuff, but did manage to get enough badges for a new Emblem of Conquest neck piece and a new idol. Also got the Superior achievement which was nice.

I also tanked my first heroic on my Death Knight. After looking for two weeks, I was finally able to find a Titanium Earthguard Chain on the Auction House, which was enough to get me defense capped for heroics. I ended up doing the daily, which was Gundrak. It ended up going fine. We had a few deaths, but mostly from some of the standard mistakes - standing too close to the Poison Nova - that type of stuff.

All the heroics that I ran on my tank and healer over the weekend were PUG's. Can you believe that? And they were great. I had one group that we did around 4 with that was a particularly good group. Their dps was frankly not particularly good and so the runs weren't as fast as they could have been - but it was still a lot of fun. It of course helped that I was healing and my son was tanking sitting right next to me, which made the communication easy - and pugging dps is pretty easy. It gives me hope for the new LFG tool in patch 3.3.

I also did a little bit of leveling on my alts. My hunter is now sitting at level 66 - only two more levels until Northrend! I played a little bit on almost all of the other alts, but didn't really seem to make any significant leveling progress on any of them - just tinkering around mostly.

I'm really struggling with what I want in a guild. The guild that my three level 80's are in is a top level raiding guild on our server. It's really very interesting being part of a guild like that, seeing how they work and how they think. I'm not a raider - but it's still interesting seeing how that whole part of the endgame works. Those folks are just so focused on maxing out every possible stat on their toons, they spend a lot of time and gold to do it and I feel like a learn a lot just watching them. Plus, it's just nice to sport that guild tag.

But I don't really end up doing much with the guild. They raid three nights a week at times that I can't ever make - and even if I could, they're down to doing just 25 man ToC hard modes, which I'm not even remotely geared for on any of my toons. They don't really do much in the way of heroics either because no one in the guild needs any badge gear anymore.

Also, the raiding guild that I'm in doesn't really have much in the way of altoholics in the guild. It's almost all level 80's, so I'd feel pretty out of place asking to have a bunch of lower level toons invited. I really feel like it would be good if I could find a guild that did some casual raiding, but also had a lot of lower level alts and leveling toons, but not sure if such a thing exists on my server. My old guild was like that before it disbanded and merged with another guild, but after deciding to not go with the merger, it would feel strange to go back there. It would just be really nice to have all of my toons in the same guild, so that I could do my alt leveling thing, but then when people were looking for folks to run heroics, I could do a quick toon hop.

Of course the other thing that I ask myself is why I don't focus exclusively on leveling. I enjoy running heroics, but I'm not sure why I'm doing it. I like getting new gear, just like anyone, but it's not like I need it. I'm not going to be raiding, so it's really not all the important for me to have those fancy pieces of T9 gear. And I can generally find groups to run instances while leveling just as easily as I can for heroics - and it continues my leveling progress while doing it. Plus, I think it would be really satisfying to have all 8 of my alts nicely planted at 80 before Cataclysm drops so I can run all of them to 85 and then level my shiny new Goblin warrior and Worgen rogue through all the new low level content.

Finally, I also decided to finish going for Crusader on my main. I just really want to get those BoA chest pieces for leveling my alts, and I'm really very close to having it - should just take about two more weeks.

I promise to stop whining about my "what game to I want to play" angst any day now.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

5 Man Love

So towards the end of last week, I was really showing some love to the 5 mans. Ended up running tons of stuff on both my warlock main and my druid healer. I even managed to finish up Oculus on my warlock to finally get him Northrend Dungeon Master and the ability to make the Wispcloak (which I promptly made for my druid!) I've managed to get the druid geared up enough now that I'm pretty comfortable running pretty much any heroic with him other than maybe ToC - although I haven't tried that yet in my new gear set.

In any case, running all those heroics did end up putting the alt leveling on the back burner for a little while. I also ran my son through two old classic instances - Uldaman and Maraudon, which was big fun. I love both of those instances.

My heroic spasm did manage to get me my first piece of T9 gear on my warlock as well as the second piece of T8 gear. Everyone keeps telling me that if I'd get off my ass and run some VoA every now and then I could have a lot more T9 gear, so I may spend some time on that over the next few weeks. Of course, I could also just wait for the next patch and go nuts on the new looking for dungeon feature. I figure, if you're completely insane about, you could accumulate as much as 140 or so badges in a single 12-14 hour day, which means you could outfit yourself in complete T9 in like...two days. So why bother with those annoying VoA pugs - no, no, no - you want to stop dps'ing the boss and kill the one he's charging or we're all going to die ...AGAIN...Oh, and I know this rule doesn't occur anywhere else in all of WoW, but if you're standing in fire...MOVE....yeah, I think I may wait for the patch.

Oh, and I also managed to help my son level up his hunter to max in Alchemy. So I provided all the mats to max it out in exchange for all the epic gems I want going forward. Hooray.

Even with all of that, I did manage to get my hunter up to level 63 - he's now having fun questing in Zangarmash and glad to be the hell out of Hellfire Peninsula. I also managed to get the paladin to level 33, but haven't really done much with any of my other toons. So, we'll see what the rest of this week brings! I really should push my priest those last 4 levels to 20 so at least all of my alts will have mounts!