Thursday, December 30, 2010

Holiday Delay

So my leveling progress has slowed down a bit as I've been a bit distracted by the holidays. We've been out of town visiting family, so my game time has been limited to after bed time and sometimes during naps. My wife has also been using my laptop for her work during some of those times, so I'm experiencing some serious withdrawal.

I have managed to get the warlock to level 84, and just a few bars from 85. Leveling a warlock as affliction has been, without a doubt, the easiest Cataclysm leveling experience so far. I've also had the chance to run a few instances, where the combination of decent dps and a lot of different crowd control options have made them pretty smooth runs.

Not sure what my leveling time on the warlock will be just yet. I have been leveling both tailoring and enchanting as I've been going, so that likely will have taken some extra time. I'm no where close to max on either one, but I've got plenty of time, and seven more toons worth of leveling to provide the mats. I'm guessing it will come out somewhere between the paladin and the druid.

I should hit 85 in the next day or two, and over this weekend, I plan to finish gearing up my druid for heroics and get a few runs in on him. I think I may switch up my leveling plans just a bit and go with the hunter next instead of the shammy. I just need to get him to Uldum so I can start porting there rather than flying to do his alchemy transmutes.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Level 85 #2 - Boomkin!

I managed to get my second character to level 85 yesterday evening. It's an interesting read on how much it slows things down to start leveling on launch day. My total played time to 85 for my first toon, the paladin, was 35 hours. The total played time to 85 for the druid was 25 hours.

Now I think there were several factors at work here:

  • First, the obvious delays caused by competing for mobs and quest objectives around launch day.
  • Second, I leveled mining simultaneously on the paladin and did not move on to Deepholm until I had gotten my mining high enough to mine Elementium. This added probably about an hour to my leveling time, possibly more, as I spent time just searching for nodes which were being heavily camped in the first few days. I leveled skinning on the druid, which is much faster and easier.
  • The first time through, I always tend to read the quest text and just enjoy the lore parts of it more.
  • Sometime mid way through the process of leveling my first toon, my guild received the xp boost perk. That boost was in place for the entirety of leveling my druid.
When I leveled the druid to 80 initially, I leveled him as feral, but this time, I did the trip to 85 as a boomkin, since I was already rocking decent caster gear from my resto set. It was definitely an easier way to level for me, but I think I'm basically a caster at heart. Towards the end, I was getting Starsurge crits of around 40K, which really encourages those Twilight Highlands mobs to die much faster!

The new eclipse mechanic is also extremely easy to use and figure out. Just follow the bar back and forth and switch between Wrath and Starfire depending on which way you're heading on the bar. Mobs died very very quickly for me.

So, next I'm off to level the warlock. My plan is to at least start him off as affliction. Given how hard the mobs hit, I really think the self-healing abilities that come with affliction will boost my leveling speed nicely. While huge Conflagrate and Chaos Bolt crits that go with destruction are fun to watch, they'll tend to pull aggro off my voidwalker and just cause me trouble in the long run. So we'll see how it goes.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Ding! Level 85 #1

I managed to hit level 85 on my Paladin over the weekend. Total played time to 85 was about 35 hours, but that included time to level my mining. Also, the first time through, I spent a lot of time just reading the quest descriptions and enjoying the lore.

After finishing with my Paladin, I started on the Druid next, and have managed to get him to 82.

I started the Paladin in Mt. Hyjal and have been starting the Druid in Vash'jir. On the Paladin, particularly with Mt. Hyjal and Deepholm, I finished the zone before moving on to the next zone. Given that quest XP increases significantly from zone to zone, I don't think that's the most efficient way to do it. So as soon as you hit 82, you should really move straight to Deepholm, at 83 head to Uldum and at 84 head to Twilight Highlands. There are more than enough quests in each zone to be sure you get to the next level.

The other things that slowed me down on the Paladin is that I was also working on putting together a holy set while leveling, which took a lot of time to evaluate gear drops. I will likely have some of the same issues on the druid.

I've tried healing quite a few of the instances on my Paladin and have had pretty decent success so far. It was pretty hard at first, but figured out a few tricks that have helped a lot.

  1. Beacon the tank so that you're getting the extra holy power from Tower of Radiance.
  2. Use Holy Light - particularly if someone doesn't need a lot of healing. Use holy shock on others in the group to top them off when needed.
  3. Light of Dawn or Word of Glory at 3 stacks depending on how much damage the group has taken.
  4. Don't use Divine Light unless you get an Infusion proc.
  5. Judge whenever you can. The mana return becomes really important.
  6. Use your cooldowns - your guardian, hands, avenging wrath, etc. can make an enormous difference - particularly on boss fights.
I've been thinking about working on the warlock for a little bit just because I'm getting a little bit tired of watching out for two sets of gear. Although I will admit, Starsurge on the Boomkin is crazy fun!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Kudos on Darkshore

So as I mentioned earlier, with my Horde toons pretty much ready for Cataclysm, I've been working on leveling a couple of Alliance toons a bit. This week, I've been mostly focused on my Night Elf Hunter, and have gotten him to level 25. As part of that progression, he quested through Darkshore.

I may have done that once before on various Alliance toons that I've tinkered with in the past, but it hasn't been very recently. The questing experience there is really fantastic though. Without giving anything away, you get very involved in the Lore around the Cataclysm itself including helping Malfurion Stormrage directly with some quests.

You also get a couple of really nice blue quest rewards. Overall, so far, I'm really impressed with what Blizzard has done with the early questing experience. Making travel easier with more flight paths and some "nightsaber shuttle" options has also made the zone a lot easier for a player operating "pre-mount."

I've now moved onto Ashenvale with this toon and don't expect to get much further before Cataclysm. I was somewhat surprised to also discover that you can't use glyphs now until level 25. Not sure I remember seeing that in patch notes anywhere. Of course, glyphs have gotten so expensive on some servers now with the essential unavailability of the ink trader, that they're really not affordable unless you have an existing 80 sugar daddy supporting you. If we're talking first character, I could see you very easily getting into your 60's or 70's before being able to afford glyphs - particularly if you plan to buy flying skill right away at 60.

So, I'll be parking the paladin in Blackrock Mountain on Monday to pick up the entrance to Blackrock Caverns and will then start my leveling right away on Tuesday. Until then - more Alliance fun!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Two Whole Months!

Well - it has been more than two months now since my ninth toon hit level 80. I must say, it's driving me nuts. I was able to amuse myself a bit with PvP, and then worked on running dungeons on my various healers a bit, and finally, I've been working on maxing out gathering professions on any alts that didn't already have them. But even with that, the itch to level keeps popping back up. There's only a week left to go until Cataclysm and then I'll have another 45 levels to gain on my existing level 80's, and a full 85 levels to go on my new goblin warrior. You think I could just leave things alone.

But no. So - I snuck over to another server and have been working on leveling my alliance toons. I've been messing with the Death Knight since he was farthest along. I've managed to get him up to level 65, almost to 66. It's been pretty different, since the first time I leveled a Death Knight on the Horde side it was as Blood, and that all seemed to work really well for me.

But with Blood being the new tanking spec, it looks like Unholy or Frost are the candidates for leveling. My initial thought was to level as Unholy because of the advantage of the permanent pet.

When I hit 65, I switched over to dual-wield frost just to give it a try. I was incredibly surprised by how hard this new spec hits. Mobs are going down a lot faster, and as a result, I'm taking a lot less damage - which overall seems to equate to more uptime.

There's essentially no way I'm going to get this toon to 80 by Cataclysm, but I'm having fun at the moment.

Now that I think about it, I'm not real sure why I went with the Death Knight instead of trying out one of the new lower level starting areas - so I might change that and go with another class instead - maybe Hunter?

In any case, it'll give me something to do for a few days before the Cataclysm release.

I'm also making a few tweaks to my planned leveling order for Cataclysm, so here are the latest thoughts:

Paladin (right now, I'm just more comfortable healing on the paladin - so thinking this may be my dedicated raiding toon)
Druid
Warlock
Shaman
Hunter
Mage
Priest
Death Knight
Rogue
Goblin Warrior!

Note - I've moved the Death Knight close to the bottom for leveling purposes, but will still likely work on maxing his Blacksmithing ASAP so that he can craft gear for the paladin. I might still switch the order of Mage and Hunter, but right now I'm feeling pretty good about this list.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Hail Neltharion!

So I was working on mining on my rogue last night, hanging out in Thousand Needles, half hoping that Blizzard was going to do something cool the night before the Shattering patch dropped. Have Deathwing actually come screaming out of the Maelstrom and start messing things up a bit early. So, I was sitting there in Thousand Needles, with my surf board waxed and ready to go.

I was figuring, with the way that place is going to be flooding, once Deathwing does break out, that's going to be one heck of a wave. Would be a shame to miss it!

But, alas. The Earth-Warder, Deathwing the Destroyer, decided to stand me up instead. All I got was dust and scorpions (and a crap load of Tin and Iron Ore).

I was a bit disappointed to see that the requirements for Loremaster were going to be changing effective today. I'm guessing that's going to be off the table for me before Cataclysm at this point, but I guess we'll have to see what the numbers look like once the servers come back up.

My priorities continue to be getting the rest of my gathering professions maxed on my last two toons prior to launch. At this point, I just have mining on the rogue, and then mining and herbalism on the priest to go. If I had any sense at all, I'd just wait until after Cataclysm to do those on the priest. After all, it's probably going to be easier to do when you can fly around to do it.

I may also do a quick race / class change today as well. I will admit that I've never been a huge fan of blood elves, and when I go through my list of toons, it seems wrong for me personally that I have two blood elves and only one Orc - so I will likely change my blood elf mage to one of the new Orc mages!

I've also been debating the order that I'll be leveling my toons after the expansion hits. In case I want to run dungeon content, I will likely do the tanks and healers first, but I feel like Joar needs to be pretty high on the list as my original toon. So here is what I'm thinking:

Druid
Paladin
Warlock
Death Knight (maybe give tanking another try?)
Shaman
Hunter
Mage
Priest
Rogue

Given how much I enjoy both the priest and the mage, it seems odd to me that they're near the bottom of the list, but I guess part of the problem with being an altoholic is I really love all my classes! I could move the Death Knight down, switch to tanking on the paladin and move the priest way up to level as a healer. The only downside to that approach is the priest is the least geared of all my healer toons, so seems a bit risky. In any case, I'll likely be tweaking this list a bit over the next two weeks. The other advantage to the order above is it has all my crafters being leveled first.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Back on Loremaster

So I finished maxing out Mining on my paladin and have now switched to leveling both professions on my mage. I've also picked up working on Loremaster on Joar a bit. Curious to see if I can get it done before Cataclysm launches, although since it doesn't appear that it will be going away, there is a lot less pressure to get it finished up.

Here's where I stand on Loremaster:

Loremaster of Eastern Kingdoms: 218 quests to go
Loremaster of Kalimdor: 74 quests to go.

So 292 quests total. With 21 days left until Cataclysm, that would work out to 14 quests per day. Very doable. I finished up the Fallen Hero of the Horde quest line which was a lot of fun, and have been working through a few of those last things that I had done and not turned in. I was then going to focus on Eastern Kingdoms, as I know a lot of those have you running back and forth.

I also did what I expect will be my last raid pre-Cataclysm on the druid this weekend. I managed to get through Dreamwalker, which for me is very good. Did 21K hps on the druid, which I was very happy with. Was the only one going through the portals and still managed to get her down without any trouble. Had a Healing Touch hit for 122K! Holy pallies eat your heart out.

So, the plan for the next three weeks is to split time between Loremaster and finishing those last few gathering professions on the toons. Have skinning and herbalism to finish on the mage, mining on the rogue and will probably dual gather herbalism and mining on the priest. I might wait until after Catalcysm to do that one since it'll be a lot easier with flying, and I think I'm already adequately set for leveling the professions on my other toons. We'll see though.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Paladin Healing in 4.0.1

As much as I hate to say it, after spending a few weeks now running heroics as a healer on my druid, shaman and paladin after patch 4.0.1, my paladin may be replacing my druid as my favorite 5-man healer. I know all of you shammies out there are going to quickly tell me that I'm out of my mind - so I'm going to caveat this by saying that my shaman is currently grossly undergeared compared to my other two healers. If his gear was comparable, I might have a completely different feeling.

So it took a little while to get used to the new paladin healing mechanics, but I must say, the more I'm using it, the more I enjoy it now. Pre-patch, I used to Beacon the tank, keep Sacred Shield up on him and then just spam flash of light on the rest of the party. Dropping in the occasional Holy Light if damage got intense. I used Holy Shock very rarely, mostly when there was a lot of party-wide damage and I needed a quick "oh crap" heal.

Now, my approach is completely different. I'm trying to quickly judge which of the dps is not going to figure out not to stand in fire / black puddles, purple goop or whatever and I'm putting the beacon on them. I'm using Holy Shock whenever it is off cooldown to build up Holy Power and am then using Word of Glory on whoever needs it the most at that point (not always the tank). I'm only hitting Holy Light now whenever Infusion of Light procs after a Holy Shock crit. Beyond that, I'm using Flash of Light whenever the damage gets a bit heavy - it's a heavy mana drain, so that probably won't be the best approach later on, but for now, mana isn't even remotely an issue, so it works fine.

For the druid, for some reason I'm finding that none of my heals are hitting quite as hard as they did before. My rejuv ticks have lost just a little something and Nourish isn't the monster it once was. Lifebloom has become a beast though, so I'm using that on the tank a lot more aggressively. Regrowth is also more of an instant heal with a tiny HoT, so I'm using that in place of Nourish a lot if someone is getting low. Wild Growth seems to have gotten a lot more powerful, so I'm trying to use that a lot more, even in a 5 man setting. Oh, and I use Efflorescence a lot, just because it confuses people! My overall complaint with the druid is that I am still a beast at keeping an entire raid up, but the druid seems to have lost something in terms of being able to heal up big damage spikes.

I think my plan for when Cataclysm drops is to leave the warlock on the shelf for a bit and level these three healers first. I'm really anxious to try all of these out in Catalcysm dungeons, so I think they'll be my first ones out of the gate.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Shaman Healing Post Patch

So I tried Shaman healing in heroics for the first time post-patch, and for some reason it all now seems to click with me. I think the addition of Healing Surge as a big fast "oh crap" kind of heal just made a lot of difference for me. And for whatever reason, hitting Healing Wave the rest of the time seemed to work just a little bit better. And whatever mana issues I was having before have completely disappeared.

So, I ran a few helping a friend gear up his hunter and it all seemed to work well. I've also been finishing up the Wrathful set on my warlock - just the belt and boots still to go. I also have been putting off finishing up the last few gathering professions on my various toons, so I really need to focus on that over the next few weeks so I get them finished before December 7th so they're all ready to go for Cataclysm launch.

Also ran the pre-Cataclysm quest chain on my warlock. Was very disappointed that, at least for Horde, the quest chain ended with instructions to go tell Garrosh, because he'll be able to fix it. How about I go tell this sign-post, or that campfire instead. I think that might accomplish more. Or maybe I should enlist Gamon's help - seems like that might accomplish more as well. But Garrosh - please! I'd rather sneak into Stormwind and tell Varian Wynn.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

More Than 2 or 3?

One of the things that I'm finding, now that I've reached my goal on leveling my alts, is that it is very difficult to play more than a few of my level 80 characters in a meaningful way. Right now, my druid is generally the toon that I will raid with when the opportunity arises. I use the warlock for PvP and am in the process of amassing a nice wrathful set for him.

For all of my other toons, I've been debating what to do. When I finish completing my Wrathful set on the warlock, it probably makes sense to go ahead and do that on another toon. I've frankly been debating between the Paladin and the Death Knight (I know - very Season 6 of me, right?)

I enjoy playing both characters in battlegrounds a great deal, so we'll have to see how the mood strikes me.

So that leaves me with a whole stable of other toons without much to do with them - Rogue, nah, for some reason, no interest there, Mage - sort of, but if I already have a warlock, do I really need another caster? Priest - I was actually seriously thinking about gearing this toon up next, but then the new talent specs came out, and I just don't get the whole Smite / Evangelism / Archangel thing. Bubble everyone and spam Penance - that I understood, but Smite? Shaman - I've tried resto on this guy as I've mentioned here before and for some reason it just doesn't click with me. Elemental seems good, but again - already have a caster. So maybe I'll try Enhancement. Hunter - I still can't figure out what happened to all my mana and ammunition, so that's out. Honestly, I do really enjoy both PvP and PvE on the hunter, so that might be one that I pick up next. Hard to tell.

I've also toyed with the idea of starting some alts on the alliance side. My gnome death knight is at level 61 and working through Hellfire Peninsula, so I've thought quite a bit about taking him all the way to 80 before Cataclysm. After all, the blog is called Wow Alt Addiction.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Warlocks In Battlegrounds

So, I've been spending the last several days primarily playing in Battlegrounds. I've been mostly playing on my warlock, although I've been toying with the specs a bit. I've traditionally played battlegrounds on Joar as affliction, but I've quickly discovered that relative to the other specs, the nerf bat seems to have hit affliction pretty hard. All the various dots seems to be much more easily dispelled by enemy healers and they seem to be ticking for a lot less than the used to. Drain Soul was working pretty well for a little while, but Blizzard fixed that but cutting its damage in half.

I then tried demonology, and that was a lot of fun. Having a felguard out running around brought back feeling of the good ole days. Of course, it wasn't MY felguard. It was some imposter that I pulled out of the twisted nether, but supposedly my guy was taking a brief vacation to Jamaica and should be back later today. So, I've been rolling with replacement demons for a week, while my normal guys got a bit of a rest. Hand of Guldan is pretty fun to pull a ball of fire out of the sky, but I've found that when I need some burst to get someone the rest of the way down, it's not quite there with demo. So, I've been rocking destruction most of the rest of the time. Good old light them on fire and blow them up destruction.

I've also done a little bit of healing. Both the druid and the paladin continue to be very strong in battlegrounds. With a lot more weapons in his arsenal, if anything, the paladin seems stronger than before. I seem to be running into a lot of battlegrounds that either involve people that don't know what's going on just fighting in the middle, or people that are just interested in farming kills that way. That's the only frustrating part about doing battlegrounds as a healer, is the outcome of the actual battleground is somewhat outside of your control. If you have a good group that is focused on the appropriate goals, you can really help turn the tide. If you're group is completely clueless...well....you're stuck healing the clueless.

In any case, I'm likely going to work on getting a good set of Wrathful gear on the warlock, druid and paladin, and then if I still have time, might work on getting some PvP gear for the hunter.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Battleground Healers - Druids and Paladins

So, I've always found myself to be a big fan of battleground healing. So I'm looking forward with interest to the changes that the incoming patch are going to bring. With my shaman and my priest both being recent level 80's, they have the fewest HK's and the least PvP gear of any of my level 80 healers at this point, so I have a lot more experience when it comes to druid or paladin healing.

On my battlegroup at least, Horde-side, healers are in very short supply, so having one or two good healers in a group seem to be able to turn the tide of the battleground overall. For some reason, I find that a lot more satisfying than whatever HK's I can accumulate on my warlock.

From the standpoint of druid and paladin, there are aspects to both that I've always enjoyed in battlegrounds. For the druid, particularly in those large scale battlegrounds like Wintergrasp or Alterac Valley, the ability to heal large numbers of people at once and keep Rejuv's up on a ton of different people can make an enormous difference. The other advantage to the druid is with a few more instant cast heals, their healing mobility can often make a big difference. If you think about a pocket healer for a flag carrier in Warsong Gulch, Eye of the Storm or the capture the flag style battleground coming in Catalcysm, being able to heal while on the run with a flag carrier can make a huge difference.

As I look to the talent changes coming for druids in Patch 4.0.1, there is quite a mix in there from a PvP healing standpoint. First, the talent tree seems to have shifted a bit towards main tank healing, with more things, like Replenishment, proc'ing off of Lifebloom. Nourish will also refresh the duration of Lifebloom. On the other hand, not being stuck in tree form and having the flexibility to cast Wrath, Starfire, Entangling Roots or Cyclone without having to switch in and out of form will provide us with some interesting variety.

I'd be interested in pairing myself with a couple of warriors, death knights or ret paladins and seeing how many folks I could keep stacks of Lifebloom going on while refreshing them regularly with Nourish. Could be a complete wrecking ball to run into.

From a paladin standpoint, the huge attraction for me on battlegrounds has always been the big heal. Being able to bring someone that is almost dead almost completely back with the press of one button has to be a huge demoralizer for any enemies in the area. Paired with beacon of light, so that you're doing that twice, it's really a huge difference maker.

Where the paladin has sometimes fallen short in battlegrounds has been on AoE heals and on mobility. From a mobility standpoint, we've always been reliant on Holy Shock, and hoping that sometimes generates an instance Flash of Light. Now, our Holy Shock, in addition to being a big, cheap, instant heal, will also generate holy power for us. At three stacks of holy power, we can kick off Word of Glory, another big cheap instant heal. And, as a bonus, Holy Shock also has the chance to generate a free instant exorcism.

Later this week, I'll talk a little bit about Shaman and Priests.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

OMG! Joar is Gearing?

Well, with a complete lack of anything left to do, I've actually been running heroics on my toons and working on gearing them up. Everyone in my guild is shocked. Joar - gearing his toons? Along with the Kansas City Chiefs being the only undefeated team in the NFL, I believe Joar gearing is also one of the signs of impending apocalypse (or Cataclysm?).

After a quick poll on my guild website, I originally started working gearing the shammy. The original thought was that it would be pretty similar to my druid in terms of play style in 5 mans, and so would be pretty natural for me. Boy was I wrong. I quickly abandoned the shammy, getting frustrated by what appeared to me to be the lovely combination of either weak or slow main tank heals paired with an uninspiring AoE heal.

Now, I could certainly go out and buy a whole bunch of better gear for this guy to make it easier, but that seems pretty pointless with Cataclysm so close now.

So, I switched to the pally. I've always enjoyed the paladin and the healing style that goes along with it, so gearing him up has really been fun. I also managed to get the shield out of regular Pit of Saron on my first try which helped immensely. I'm also really looking forward to the changes coming with Cataclysm for the paladin, particularly having more AoE healing options.

I was debating working on the disc priest for a bit, but this whole Smite thing scared me off a bit.

I also started working on the mage a little bit. Looks like fire is going to be a pretty excellent spec once the next patch drops, but for now, I'm sticking with Arcane. I still might switch just to start getting the feel for Fire beforehand, but I can't seem to give up the joys of Missile Barrage right away.

I've also been running good old Coren Direbrew on just about everyone just for the 2-a-day frost emblems and the nice trinkets for my undergeared toons.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Ding! Level 80 #9! Mission Accomplished!

Well, I finally managed to hit 80 on my rogue today. As is typical for my leveling path these days, I did it on the Sons of Hodir chain. This one wasn't nearly as efficient as some of my others, coming in at 6 days, 15 hours. That being said, he is a maxed engineer at this point, which takes a little extra time.

Looking back, I've gained a total of 274 levels to date in 2010 and 427 since I started writing this blog more than a year ago. With those kind of numbers up, it hardly makes the 45 levels that I'll have to take on post-Catalcysm seem all that intimidating, or even if you make it 130 to include my Goblin Warrior plans!

So, I'm going to work on leveling my gathering professions so that I've got an adequate source of supply for my crafters come Cataclysm, finish lockpicking on my rogue, and maybe work a little bit more towards Loremaster on Joar. Not sure if anyone has noticed, but the new Zalazane quests all count toward Loremaster of Kalimdor, which is a huge help!

And, when I have the time, will likely start working on acquiring a little bit of gear for my toons that aren't already geared. I'm sort of leaning towards PvP gear since it looks like the extra stamina will really help come Cataclysm.

Ding! Level 80 #9! Mission Accomplished!

Well - it's been really busy at work lately, so it took much longer than I planned, but I finally managed to get this

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Almost Done

My playing time is going to be somewhat limited this week for various reasons, but I did manage to power through and get my rogue to level 78 over the course of the weekend. So only two more levels to go. And I can put on my bomber jacket, fly onto an aircraft carrier somewhere and stand there and look all happy under a big "Mission Complete" banner.

So the question then arises of what to do next. I do have some very short-term projects that I'm planning to work on - first is finishing leveling lockpicking on my rogue. He's currently sitting at a paltry 135, but has 7 bank tabs full of various lockboxes and junkboxes that I've accumulated. Should be fun. The main piece of work is going to be getting from 135 to 175, and then I think I can power mostly through on boxes from there.

Then, it's off to the land of gatherer, where I have several different gathering professions that I want to level up. Mining on the paladin and rogue, skinning and herbalism on the mage. On the priest, I'm currently debating - I'm thinking about setting him up as another alchemist to have a second transmute cooldown available. That's just been too good of a money maker for me in Wrath. Of course, there's no guarantee that will continue to be the case in Catalcysm. Seems like I need to do some quick research on how alchemy currently looks on the beta.

After that, I will likely alternate between gearing up various toons and finishing work on Loremaster on Joar. Loremaster seems less pressing now that it's more clear that it is still going to be out there come Cataclysm, but will likely still get some attention anyway.

I'm leaning towards focusing on gearing the mage and disc priest next. I was debating the hunter, but I've tried playing it on the beta, and the new focus mechanic just doesn't feel quite right to me. Will likely also finish the holy pally as well.

Then, I have an alliance death knight working his way through Hellfire. I've never seen the Alliance side of Outland or Northrend, so if I completely run out of things to mess around with, I might drive him the rest of the way to 80, just to see things from the Alliance side.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

PvP Fun

So, as is clearly typical of someone with too many alts, I can't decide....

I've been working on the rogue a little bit lately, although given that I've got at least 6 more weeks until Cataclysm, there doesn't seem to be much of a rush. I have managed to get him to level 73, leveraging the Call to Arms battleground weekends a lot for the extra xp.

Part of it too is that I've now done the Northrend quests so many times, I just can't seem to get motivated to do them once again.

So, I've turned to PvP for entertainment and have been having a blast. Just running battlegrounds, but having a great time nonetheless. I've dusted off my hunter, who is glad to be doing something other than sitting in Dalaran transmuting gems for me. I even flew him up to Icecrown to get him a big scary spider pet!

Strangely enough, I still really enjoy healing in PvP - perhaps because there are so few healers Horde-side in my battlegroup - you really do feel like you have the ability to influence the overall tide of battle. My druid is currently the best geared for PvP and does quite well, and I'm working on gearing up the Paladin and the Disc Priest as well.

My warlock basically has all of the PvP gear that you can get without stepping into arena's, so while he is still a lot of fun to play, I tend to be more focused on the toons that I can still gear up. I'm thinking the order from here on out will be druid, then paladin then disc priest then maybe either finish up the hunter or work on the mage.

Wintergrasp on my server continues to be an exercise in masochism. It seems like the Horde wins only about 25% of the time, and then it tends to be in the middle of the night. My son keeps suggesting that I server transfer to a realm where it is more of a faceroll for Horde (or faction change on my own server I guess) but honestly, the overwhelming odds make it that much more fulfilling those few times that we actually do win. Plus, if the new balancing schemes for World PvP in Cataclysm actually work, the constant losses due to being massively outnumbered should go away.

So, that is the plan. Finish the rogue, gear up through PvP, and finish those last few gathering professions before Cataclysm.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

That's a Lot of Quests

So my son asked me this weekend how my quests I thought I had completed across all of my toons. I knew the number was likely quite large. I have almost 3,000 just on Joar, and I typically see the 1,000 quests achievement flash up on most of my toons before hitting 80. So I decided to do some armory work this morning with the servers down and see where I stood on quests and honorable kills.

So here is where we stand - 11,001 quests. That's just such an awesome number I'm tempted to never do another quest again just to keep it there. Or maybe just do 110 more so I leave it at 11,111. Either way, that's basically Seeker almost 4 times. Yikes.

Joar is the most with 2,633 with my druid second at 1,387 and my paladin in 3rd at 1,233.

On Honorable Kills, I have a total of 31,203 across my various toons. Again, Joar has the most at 14,137 with the druid again being second at 6,895 and the Death Knight actually comes in third on this one at 5,570.

Crazy.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Ding! Level 80 #8

OK - this post is actually a bit late as I managed to hit 80 on my shadow priest on Friday night. I actually did a lot of the Call to Arms battlegrounds on Friday evening in order to push him over the finish line. I have dual spec on the priest and have found that discipline is extremely powerful for PvP healing.

I now just have 9 levels of the rogue left to go, and probably two months to do it in. So I may slow down a bit and focus on gearing some of the toons from my existing 8 80's that aren't already geared. Basically, only 2 of my existing 80's are geared enough to be able to run ICC - my warlock and my druid.

The results of my guild poll were very heavily in favor of working on my shaman next, so I started that process and am also working on gearing the pally as holy a bit. There can be a lot out there on the auction house that would let you gear a lot of these toons very quickly - so I'm trying to avoid that temptation wherever possible. Seems like a bad idea to spend a lot of gold on gear that is likely going to be replaced by quest greens in a few months.

So - that is where things stand at the moment. I'll still work on the rogue a bit when my play situation doesn't allow me to run instances, and other than that, will probably be fairly randomly focused on gearing.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Ding! Level 80 #7 and July Leveling Update

So, I managed to get the Shaman to level 80 last night just in time for the end of the month. After making the switch to elemental at level 72, I never looked back. I will say, I do somewhat wish that I had make the switch a little bit earlier as things seemed to move much faster as Elemental. Mana was not much of an issue as higher mana pools and clearcasting kept things manageable. (I bought two stacks of Honeymint tea once I hit level 75, and never ended up using all of it). So I didn't notice any major different in downtime from enhancement. The one thing that I did notice versus enhancement was that things died A LOT faster as elemental. Generally getting three-shotted, and typically two-shotted once I got Lava Burst at 75.

I will caveat this by saying that part of the difference may have been that I was using a BoA caster staff (although not a particularly good one - Staff of Jordan from Wintergrasp) versus no BoA weapon at all for enhancement. So having dual wield BoA's may have made an enormous difference in how fast I was taking things down as enhancement.

Interestingly enough, my levels per day for the month of August were identical to July. I managed to gain a total of 27 levels in 31 days, for an average of 0.87. This brings my year-to-date average to 1.08, and I'll definitely get these last two to 80 sometime in September.

I'll be switching to the shadow priest next since he only has 3 levels to go and then will be finishing up with the rogue. So my plan after getting this last toon to 80 is to spend some time leveling a handful of gathering professions and then working on gearing a few toons up. So the question that I'd like to pose for everyone is which toon should I gear up next, and should it be PvE or PvP?

- Hunter?
- Mage?
- Discipline Priest?
- Resto Shammy?
- Rogue

(notice I'm leaving gearing the prot pally off the last as I'm assuming everyone would pick that if I put it on the list - and I will working on gearing him as well, so never fear!)

Let me know what you guys think!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Bangin' 'Em Straight Out!

So, after the clear failure of my little rotational leveling experiment, I've decided to just bang out these three remaining toons. So, I'm hard at work on the shaman at the moment. He's a Lava Bursting machine and is currently at level 79 and about 6 bars in towards 80. So expect a follow up post shortly.

I'll be working on the priest next. He's currently sitting at 77 and doesn't have far to go. I'll then be picking up the rogue, with all of his nice new engineering goodness, and driving him to the finish line.

After that, I've got about 5 or 6 gathering professions that I want to level across my various toons, and then I'll probably focus on gearing a toon or two. Haven't decided which one yet. For some reason, the answer that I get mostly commonly from my guild is to do the hunter. When did hunters become popular again?

So we'll see. I may work on gearing one through the dungeon finder and another one or two through PvP. We'll see how that goes.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Initial Results on Rotation Leveling

So part of the thought on leveling these last four toons on a rotations basis was a bit of an experiment around whether maximizing the rested xp in this fashion would outweigh the inefficiency that's bound to arise from picking up toons and setting them back down every few days.

So with the mage just hitting 80, I've finally got some data to look at that I wanted to share. Interestingly enough, the mage will actually be the "purest" set of data that I've got to work with. Both the shammy and the priest spent some time as Auction House alts prior to me kicking off their leveling plans. The rogue is somewhat pure, but has been leveling engineering along the way which will add a few hours to his time.

So interestingly enough, the initial set of data is not good for the rotational leveling plan. The mage finished at a played time of 6 days, 6 hours and 22 minutes. This compares to the paladin, which I leveled straight through at a time of 6 days, 4 hours and 33 minutes. Interestingly enough, even aside from what I had hoped were the benefits of rotating leveling to maximize rested xp, I expected the mage to do slightly better than the paladin for two primary reasons - never having to wait for a zeppelin because of teleports and being able to make your own food and water on the run.

So, score one for the benefits of leveling straight through!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Ding! Level 80 #6

Woo hoo! Hit 80 on the mage just a little while ago! Now off to the shammy!

I will likely work on gearing up the mage for PvE as soon as I hit my goals on the other toons. This toon just continued to be tremendous fun and do really crazy dps, so I'm very anxious to see how it does in heroics. But, for some reason I'm in a big hurry to get the rest of these toons to 80, so she'll have to wait for a while.

I've also managed to get my inscription basically maxed on my shammy, so now it's just engineering that I need to finish up, and it's currently at 395. Just waiting for some reasonably priced Cobalt.

I switched back to Enhancement on the shammy. Was getting tired of the caster thing, so thought it would be fun to go up and smash things in the face for a little while. I might switch back again at 75 once I get Lava Burst. Enhancement takes a lot longer to kill things, but seems to be a lot more survivable with less downtime.

The added length of time that it takes to burn things down I would think would drop the xp per hour, but we'll have to see.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Stay on Target

I just realized that this is my 100th blog post. I don't know whether to celebrate or be really afraid. That's a lot of posts about what most would consider a pretty mundane topic of leveling.

This past week has really been about the rogue and the shadow priest. We took a bit of a long weekend this past weekend so that slowed my leveling a bit, although my numbers for the month are still holding up pretty well. I managed to get the rogue to level 71 before switching to the shadow priest.

The rogue continues to be the most challenging of these remaining four toons in terms of overall survivability and leveling speed. I guess part of the issue is that the mage, priest and shammy either take no damage at all or have self healing abilities. The new Recuperate ability being given to rogues in Cataclysm will be a huge boon for leveling rogues.

As I work on finishing him off, I may switch to leveling him in battlegrounds. I have found that particularly in the 70's, if it is a Call to Arms weekend, the xp per hour from doing the Call to Arms battleground is usually slightly higher than what you get from pure questing. And if you're in a battlegroup where your faction dominates so that your win ratio is well over 50/50, it should be as much as 10-20% higher than questing.

After getting the rogue to 71, I then switched to the Shadow Priest and managed to get him to level 77. I've tried doing some battlegrounds on him as well. I've tried as both shadow and discipline. While I've heard great things about Discipline for PvP, I'm not finding it to be as much fun as I thought it would be. It's possible though that it's because I'm geared more for Shadow, so I'm running out of mana way to fast. Something about just bubbling everything in sight that just isn't all that personally satisfying.

I have been really pleasantly surprised by how good the shadow priest's dps has been in instances, though. And that was even before picking up Mind Sear at 75. But it still is substantially less xp per hour, so I'm really just doing one a day to get the Triumph emblems.

So we're still on Target for early September. Current forecast is for September 7th, and I've been knocking out 0.94 levels per day so far in August. I'll be switching back to mage once my realm comes back up from its extended 24 hour maintenance on Wednesday and I likely won't stop until I hit 80 on the mage!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

So Close I Can Taste It!

So after my entry last week, I picked up the mage and really powered through a lot of the Northrend content. The mage continues to be an absolute beast with frost spec for leveling. In addition, I also picked up dual spec and added an arcane spec to give that a whirl in instances.

Tremendous fun overall. So far, it's not an enormous increase in my overall dps in instances though. I do a lot more dps on boss fights, but my AoE damage is lower because I lose all of those awesomesauce buffs to blizzard that comes with my frost spec. So overall, it's a tie. But Arcane is just so much fun. Missile Barrage is one of my new favorite things in the world!

I managed to get the mage all the way to level 76. She's basically done with Dragonblight and headed for Grizzly Hills.

After the mage, I went back to the shammy, determined to give my new elemental spec a try. While it's not nearly as much overall fun as enhancement, I have to say that the mobs are dying a lot faster and I actually have less mana issues with elemental than I do with enhancement. Clearcasting rocks! The only downside is I don't have Lava Burst yet, so my lightning bolt finger is getting a little tired. I miss my wolves a little bit, but my fire elemental and earth elementals have agreed to bark at me once in a while to try to make me feel better.

So, I think I'll be sticking with elemental for the duration.

I'll be moving on to the rogue next and see how far I can get him for the rest of this week. So here's where we stand now:

Joara - Frost Mage - level 76
Joarvyk - Shadow Priest - level 74
Joarbek - Whatever Shammy - level 72
Joarstab - Combat Rogue - level 68.

Soooo close....

Monday, August 2, 2010

July Leveling Update

So with July behind me, there will likely only be one more of these updates before I hit my goal of 9 level 80's before Cataclysm.

The release of the beta in early July clearly took its toll on my leveling progress. I managed to gain exactly 27 levels during the month of July, or approximately 0.87 levels per day. This brought my average for the year down to around 1.1 but even at that pace, I'm still predicting to hit my goal in early September!

Last week I switched to the Shadow Priest at one point and managed to get him into Dragonblight at level 74. He continues to be an excellent leveling toon. It was also an Alterac Valley weekend this past weekend on my server, so I took advantage to add a little spice to my leveling mix. From what I have found in the past, particularly if it is the holiday battleground, it is very possible to maintain xp per hour levels in excess of 500K doing Alterac Valley (and that's with a 50/50 win loss mix). The priest is fun in battlegrounds as both shadow and disc so I did a little bit of both.

I'll be picking up the mage starting today, and we'll see if we can drive her a little further past the priest before Thursday or so. Then it will be off to the Shaman starting on Friday or so.

So here is where we stand:

Joarvyk - Shadow Priest - level 74
Joara - Frost Mage - level 71
Joarbek - Elemental Shaman - level 68
Joarstab - Combat Rogue - level 68

I've also gotten some questions in early posts about my professions and suggesting that one task after I hit this goal might be maxing out all my professions. It dawned on me that I actually haven't mentioned it much here, but I've actually been doing that all along. I have two crafting professions left to have all of them maxed out across my various toons. Those two remaining are inscription and engineering and they are currently being leveled by my shaman and rogue respectively. Both are at level 350 and ready to be leveled through Northrend (oh - and I've already got the mats to finish both off).

I've also laid out gathering professions between all my toons so that I've got two gathering slots feeding each crafting slot (or at least I will once the warrior gets leveled).

So here is the profession mix:

Warlock - Enchanting and Tailoring
Death Knight - Mining and Blacksmithing
Druid - Skinning and Leatherworking
Hunter - Herbalism and Alchemy
Paladin - Mining and Jewelcrafting
Mage - Skinning and Herbalism
Shaman - Herbalism and Inscription
Priest - Herbalism and Mining
Rogue - Mining and Engineering

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Into the Home Stretch!

I managed to get my Rogue the rest of the way through Outland yesterday and have him now safely parked in Warsong Hold in Borean Tundra - all ready to get eaten by big undead spiders out in the quarry!

So all four of this last set of toons have now made it to Northrend and are ready for the final push. I did pick up dual spec on the rogue so that I could try an assassination / mutilate build for running instances. I wasn't finding it particularly effective for leveling, and actually wasn't noticing any difference in my dps in instances either. The primary difference for leveling is you lose some of the AoE capabilities that you have with combat in both Blade Fury and Killing Spree. It is also to your advantage to start all of your attacks out of stealth to get Overkill going and that just takes a little longer. While it doesn't feel quite as rogue-ish, combat has a lot more ability to just walk up and start smacking guys around. So I guess that's 1000g down the tubes for nothing!

I'll be picking up the priest starting today and hope to get him a few more levels before switching over to the mage next week. I've still been debating just doing them one at a time from here on out, but then there's part of me that thinks it would be pretty cool to have four toons all hit 80 within a week or so of each other, so I'll probably stick with the current rotation for now.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Another Toon Hits Northrend

I did manage to get one more toon safely established in Northrend this past week, with the Shaman being the latest to join the club. It now remains just for the rogue to make the final push. He's sitting at level 65 and questing through Terrokar Forest, so I'm really hoping to get him the rest of the way by the end of the day tomorrow.

I've also been messing around on the beta a fair amount and have started to level a couple of toons through Hyjal and Vash'jir just to see the content. The quests so far are remarkably well put together and its very easy to follow the quest chains and breadcrumbs through both zones. The quest rewards seem very good, especially if you're hitting those zones in quest greens and blues from Northrend. It's hard to tell on some of them how good they will be because the mastery stat isn't fully implemented yet, but I did manage to get a staff for my warlock that was a clear upgrade to the Seethe / Shriveled Heart combination that he was rocking.

I've also had a chance to take some initial attempts at two of the new instances - Blackrock Caverns and Throne of the Tides. It looks like both will require some significant nerfing before release if players coming straight out of Northrend are going to have any hope. I have seen a ton of groups wipe time after time with the entire group being in full T-10 / ICC gear. The mechanics of the second boss in Blackrock Caverns in particular seems to get the best of everyone - it seems that folks haven't had to worry about standing in beams since Outland!

In any case, I'm trying to balance continuing to work on leveling my toons with experimenting with the beta. It is getting harder and harder to remain focused on the pre-Cataclysm stuff with so much new goodness out there to try!

So, as a general update. Both the mage and priest are sitting at 71. The shaman is sitting at 68 and has just started questing in Northrend. The rogue is sitting at 65 and will hopefully be visiting the shores of Borean Tundra within the next day or two!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

And The Leveling Slows

So both my priest and my mage are now slogging through Northrend, and I had forgotten what slow going questing through there can be. In reality, because I've been leveling these last four toons simultaneously, I haven't really done much questing in Northrend since early February. While I love how the quests fit together so much more nicely, particularly than Azeroth, I had forgotten how much slower it goes.

I'm averaging somewhere right around 450-550,000 xp per hour questing on both toons, so it's actually a pretty decent pace of a level every 3 hours or so. There are some areas where I can get it up a little bit higher than that, which helps. I tried a few instances on my mage just to make sure that nothing had changed about my xp per hour calculations on Northrend instances and it still consistently drops my xp per hour down to around 300,000 while running instances (and that is generally with rested xp - if you're running without rested xp, expect something even south of that).

While I tend to go back and forth quite a bit, I have to say that right now the mage is probably my favorite and if I had to pick just one to finish the rest of the way, it would probably be the mage. Maybe it is because my original main was a warlock, so the style of play just feels familiar. But I believe it is because of the speed at which the mage just tears through everything in sight.

I've also been distracted by all of the news and information coming out about Cataclysm and tinkering with the new 31 point talent trees. I do think almost all of these changes are going to be a huge benefit to people leveling toons from scratch as the new abilities granted, particularly on what are normally considered good leveling specs, are all things that can make a big difference at early levels. The only one that I'm not so sure about so far is Intimidation for Beast Mastery hunters. I've actually taken a look at the Survival tree, and given some of the interesting new talents in there, there could actually be a case made for leveling as Survival rather than Beast Mastery, utilizing traps to handle multiple mob pulls.

The thought of a bunch of level 10 warlocks running around with their Felguards just seems crazy. And getting Mangle at level 10 as a leveling druid. Be still my heart! I'm also very curious to see how the Holy Power feature works out for Paladins. Having some extra burst while leveling always helps. Plus, it's always fun to have more to keep track of and more buttons to push. I might have to start over with a toon from each class on the alliance side just to experience the thrills! (This is where the men in white coats show up to have a little chat with me).

So, as an overall update, the Rogue made it to level 63 in Outland. My Shadow Priest is at level 71 and is almost finished with Borean Tundra and my Frost Mage is at level 70 working her way through Borean Tundra. I'll be heading back to the Shaman later in the week for the final push to Northrend on the Shaman.

Still on track for some time in late August or early September to have all of these done.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Rogueing Through Outland and Real ID thoughts

As planned, I did manage to get about 5 levels into Outland on my rogue and he's now sitting at level 63, starting to work through Zangarmash. Combat still tends to work very well as long as I only end up pulling 2 mobs or three at the most. Any more than that, and I can still use Vanish to get me out of trouble, but I've still had to corpse run once or twice, which I'm never a big fan of. As it turns out, the xp per hour for corpse-running is the lowest of any WoW activity!

I've actually debated shelling out the gold for dual spec, particularly now that I have access to Envenom and doing a second spec with Assassination for running instances. Given how squishy this toons can be and how careful I have to be with pulls even while soloing, it might actually make it so that using instances more for leveling is more competitive on an xp per hour basis than it has been with some of my other toons. I haven't actually pulled the trigger on that yet, and I'm going to go back to working on the Shadow Priest and other toons for a while, so it may be a while before I get back to that again.

Now that the whole firestorm has subsided, I wanted to add my two cents on Real ID as well. Part of what I think we all sometimes tend to lose sight of is that ActivisionBlizzard's mission is not to create or provide an enjoyable positive gaming experience to all of us. ActivisionBlizzard is a public corporation, and at the end of the day, they have a fiduciary responsibility to make money for their shareholders. They're not a not for profit or charity dedicated to improving the lives of gamers. They have to be focused on profit.

Now that's not to say that creating an excellent product and a positive gaming experience can't be part of that. There are two obvious ways for them to continue to increase their profits. One is to grow their subscriber base, and the more people that love the game and tell their friends about it, the easier that is to do. The second way is to sell more to your existing subscribers. So, we've seen sparkle ponies and pets you can buy and character customization and other features that many of the players want and are willing to pay more for.

From a business and financial standpoint, the Facebook connection is not an unreasonable one. The key demographics for both WoW and Facebook are very similar and it's pretty reasonable to assume that the average WoW player is also a heavy Facebook user given those demographics, so building a connection between those two would seem like something their customers might reasonably want.

I think the part that they missed in this calculations were the obvious privacy issues and the fact that part of what makes the game enjoyable is the escapism and the ability to be someone else. While we may enjoy both, we're playing WoW to get away, and we don't want a connection between WoW and our real world. In some ways, it's a lot like New Coke (I know - I'm dating myself here). While everyone may have thought it tasted better in all their panels and surveys, there was still a huge backlash, because what they thought might be better and what they really wanted were two very different things.

If you read ActivisionBlizzard's annual report that they sent to their shareholders last year, you'll see that they lay out 3 Core Principles that they operate by.

  • Focus their Resources Against the Largest and Most Profitable Opportunities
  • Deliver Compelling Game Experiences to Customer, and
  • Continuously Improve Operational Discipline
In that same letter to shareholder's they laid out the following about Battle.net and why that would be a key part of delivering a compelling game experience to their customers:

Blizzard Entertainment’s ongoing support of its online community is a great example of this. Blizzard expects to launch a new version of Battle.net®, evolving it into the industry’s premier online gaming destination. The service will offer advanced communication features, social networking, player matching and digital content delivery. Battle.net is designed to keep players connected to their friends no matter which Blizzard game they are playing.

While I think they viewed this as something that would delight their customers, they clearly overestimated gamers interests in having their virtual identities linked with their real world identities and may not have fully considered the potential legal exposures. Remember, maximizing your return to your shareholders isn't helped if you get sued by a bunch of people if they get stalked or attacked by nuts that you revealed their real names to.

So, it's a balancing act for Blizzard. Maximize shareholder return, and continue to delight your customers. It was definitely a misstep this time around.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Mage heads North - Shammy and Rogue Power On

So, just returning from a bit of vacation and back to working on leveling my various toons. I did manage to drive the mage into Northrend before leaving for vacation. Since returning, I was able to get the Shaman a little further into Outland - from level 64 to level 66. I've now gone back to working on the Rogue for a little while.

Since the rogue seems to be squishiest of all of these last four toons, I'm working on trying another questing path through Outland - at least for Hellfire Peninsula. I've always hit those demon camps up above Thrallmar pretty early on in Hellfire, and while it's doable, it's probably not the easiest approach, so I'm going to work on hitting Spinebreaker and Falcon Watch a little bit earlier and maybe come back to the Forge Camps later on. We'll see how that goes. I will probably work on the rogue until the early part of next week - likely won't actually get him all the way through Outland, but maybe a few levels.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

June Leveling Update and Northrend Ho!

So June was a pretty productive month from a leveling standpoint. I managed to gain a total of 36 levels across my various toons for a total of 1.2 levels per day. This puts my average for the year at 1.15 and puts me currently on target to finish getting these last four toons to 80 by August 27th. Of course, the Northrend levels will likely take somewhat longer and that combined with various weeks for summer vacations I expect will push that date into mid-September by the time its all said and done.

Of course, with the Cataclysm beta just going live yesterday, if Wrath's timing is any indication, I don't expect a release date until sometime in November for Cataclysm. So I should be more than fine.

I did manage to finish getting the Shadow Priest to 68, so he became the first of the "Joar Final Four" to make it to Northrend. I may be able to get the Frost Mage there this week as well, although I'm leaving for a few days of vacation on Sunday, so that's going to create some significant delays for the Shaman who would have been up during that time period.

Shadow continues to be an excellent leveling spec. I have actually dual-spec'd the priest as Discipline in the hopes of every now and then queuing for a battleground, but so far, the length of the queue has always outlasted my patience.

So here is where we stand with the final four:

Joarvyk - Shadow Priest - 68
Joara - Frost Mage - 64
Joarbek - Elemental Shaman (at least for now) - 64
Joarstab - Combat Rogue - 58

Once these four are done, I'll have nine toons at 80 with one slot saved (a goblin warrior) to level through the post-Cataclysm world.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Little Raiding / A Little Questing

I've continued to make good progress over the last week on my various alts and managed to get in a little raiding over the weekend - and on my warlock rather than my healer no less!

I did a guild run on Friday night and we managed to get past the first wing. For many of you, I know that's like saying I managed to put all my clothes on right side out today. But for my guild, we almost never get past Saurfang. So Friday was a pretty huge accomplishment. We then lost one of our tanks after one wipe on Festergut, so it was pretty much over from there, but it was still a huge accomplishment.

My dps was decent, which I was happy with given that I'm not yet quite fully geared in Joar. I did manage to pick up the Ashen Verdict ring, a Frost Emblem belt and a nice honor trinket. Also picked up the off-hand from Heroic Halls of Reflection the next day, so good old Joar is doing pretty well.

On the leveling front, I spent a lot of time working on the rogue. My big plan for last weekend, besides raiding, was to get the rogue out of Azeroth once and for all. And I finally managed to get there early Sunday morning. So the last of my remaining four toons is now off to Outland, and I was back to the Shadow Priest.

I continue to be very pleased with how solid the Shadow Priest performs for leveling. I managed to hit level 66 on him yesterday, and he's now about a level and a half from being the first of the "final four" to hit Northrend. We'll see if I'm able to push him over the line into Warsong Hold. Because of all of the health restoration and mana regen features of the shadow build, I have almost no downtime at all. I can pull quite a few mobs with ease, dot them all up, and then just wait for them to die. I always have the bubble available if things get a little dicey and get hit Dispersion if mana starts to get a little low.

So, he's working his way through Nagrand now. I'm pretty sure he'll hit 68 somewhere in Nagrand and then be off to Northrend. I'll be picking up the mage after a couple more days on the priest and will be working on getting her to 68 and Northrend as well. She's not far behind the priest, sitting at 64 and being almost done with Zangarmash.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Giving Elemental A Whirl

So, I've been playing my shaman for the last few days, and have done a good sized chunk of the Zangarmash quests and gotten him from 62 to 64. After a day or two of watching him flail away at things with his maces and axes and pushing a steady series of buttons while waiting for Maelstrom Weapon to proc, I decided it was time to do something different with the Shaman.

So, after hitting 64 and turning in a few additional quests, I marched back to Orgrimmar and paid up to respec to Elemental. Maybe I'm just getting a little tired of melee, maybe the rotation is too complicated, or maybe I've just become too lazy to run all the way over to that caster mob plinking his little fireballs at me.

In any case, I decided to go ahead and pick up elemental and give it a try for a few levels. The other method to my madness is that I will likely start running a few normal dungeons once I hit 70 and Northrend just to get the daily emblems. My preference is to do that as a healer, so was thinking it would be more efficient to just dual spec and use the same gear for an elemental and resto set. I know at end game those would be very different, but for leveling purposes, the differences are minor.

The only down side to this approach is that I'm trading my attack power mail heirloom chest piece for a cloth spellpower heirloom piece. So I'm now a cow in a dress. I'm not sure it's worth it to me to spend the emblems on a mail spellpower heirloom piece for the few levels that I have left on the Shaman. I could do a quick racial change to troll, since they seem to look better in dresses, but not sure that's worth it either.

I've also discovered a new addon that I've been using while leveling - Pawn. It helps evaluating gear selection based on your class and spec. It's prepopulated with the Wowhead stat ranks, but those tend to be focused more on end-game, and not necessarily identical to what you would want for leveling. So I'll probably be trolling a bit to find some good leveling Pawn values for different classes. For most classes, it tends to basically revolve around toning down the emphasis on hit just a little bit and adding a little emphasis on stamina, then making sure you're giving enough emphasis to the key damage dealing stat - spellpower, attack power, strength, agility, intellect - those types of things. In any case, I've found it be very helpful in terms of providing solid in-game guidance - no more alt-tabbing out to LootRank or to Kaliban lists.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Frost is the New Black!

I'm still constantly amazed by how absolutely unstoppable my frost mage is when it comes to leveling. Especially with the water elemental glyphed to make it permanent. Not only is the frost spec very mana efficient, but the slowing and freezing effects of the frostbolts make it so that about 70% of the time, the mobs are dead before they get anywhere near me, and for the ones that do get anywhere near me, my Ice Barrier makes me pretty much impregnable and I'll have two instant casts available to take them the rest of the way down in Fire Blast and Cone of Cold. More than enough to take them out.

I did pick up Arcane Barrage at level 64 and tried it out on a few mobs to see how it would do. Obviously I'm not spec'd into Arcane, so it's not at its full potential, but it seemed to be a lot less mana efficient, and wasn't doing noticeably more damage than my Frostbolt crits.

So now I'm putting the mage back on the shelf for a little while and will be going back to my enhancement shaman. I've still been thinking about switching from enhancement to elemental now that I'm higher level. I'm just a bit more of a caster at heart, but we'll see. It's still fun unleashing the ghost wolves on everyone and watching them create mass chaos.

So, the Frost Mage is currently sitting at 64, and the shammy got to 63 last night. Still targeting late August to have these last four toons to 80!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

More Leveling

So I managed to get the Shadow Priest to level 65, and all the way to Terrokar Forest. I'll be switching over to the mage for the next few days, so we'll see if we can get her caught up. It looks like the shadow priest could be the first of the toons to hit Northrend. Dispersion has been an enormous benefit while leveling cutting down very substantially on the time that I need to take to stop and drink and also making it easier to use all my dots on mobs, making them go down faster.

I'm also working on running the daily heroic on a few of my level 80's - particularly the druid and warlock. I'm still a little frustrated with the dps that my warlock does, but not enough to switch over to dps'ing on my death knight or hunter or anything extreme like that!

Gearing up the paladin for tanking continues to go fairly well and he's now got his first piece of T9 gear and is well on his way to his second piece.

Monday, June 14, 2010

I Am A Shadow Fart!

So, in case you can't tell, I'm loving Dispersion on my Shadow Priest. Something about dissolving every two minutes into a dark shadowy fart cloud and having all of my mana restored in the process is just more fun than I can stand.

I have made a lot more progress on leveling over the last week. I managed to get the rogue from 45 to 50, so he's getting even closer to Outland. I then picked up the shadow priest and got him all they way to 63. He's now starting all of the Zangarmash quests, the first of my remaining toons to get that far.

I've continued to work a little bit on gearing both my resto druid and my prot pally. I've got about 12 more frost emblems to go on the druid in order to get the Purified Lunar Dust trinket I've been wanting, and from there I guess I'll be saving for T10.

On the paladin, he's still pretty dramatically undergeared, but doesn't seem to have any trouble tanking any heroic thrown his way. Note that I haven't done any of the ICC 5 mans yet. I did manage to get my first piece of T9 on him next, but will probably go for the iLvL 245 Triumph shoulders next rather than the next piece of T9. The set bonuses for prot pallies seem to be somewhat uninspiring, and the shoulders are a much bigger upgrade since I'm currently rocking the Tempered Saronite!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Top Arena Classes and Spec's

It's always somewhat interesting to me the ebb and flow of classes that do well or don't do well in arena in any given season. Let me start off by noting that I don't tend to do much arena myself as I'm more of a battleground guy, and success in arenas does not necessarily translate into success on the battleground.

It does however provide some insight into what classes are currently performing well in PvP and which are not.

So if you look at the current worldwide player rankings for the current season, here are effectively the top 7 classes and specs represented in the Top 100. I'm listing 7 here because there are three classes and spec's that are tied for fifth.

Discipline priests - 15
Affliction warlocks - 11
Holy paladins - 11
Elemental shaman - 8
Resto shaman - 6
Resto druid - 6
Marksmanship hunter - 6

The other thing on the total list that interests me is that rogues are very underrepresented with only 4 in the top 100, and 3 of those were subtlety spec instead of the normal mutilate / prep build.

There is also only one death knight in the top 100, which is a long way from a couple of season ago which was dominated by death knights and holy paladins.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Finally, A Tank to Call Home!

So it must have just been an issue with me not understanding the mechanics of either bear or death knight tanking, because I've now gone to the trouble of gearing up my paladin a little bit for tanking (and when I say a little bit, yes he is defense capped with a 544 defense skill and unbuffed health of about 32.4K), and the whole tanking thing seems to be making a lot more sense on the paladin than it did on any of the other toons that I've tried.

I did have one rather rough Azjol-Nerub run, but I'm not entirely sure that was all my fault as the dps in the group didn't seem to have a grasp of the aggro reset feature of those lovely Skirmishers.

We can tank if we want to
We can leave your friends behind
'Cause your friends don't tank and if they don't tank
Well they're no friends of mine.
I say, we can go where we want to
A place where they will never find
And we can act like we come from out of this world
Leave the real one far behind
And we can tank.


My sincere apologies to Men Without Hats.

So, I may spend some time working on getting some additional gear for this toon, which will obviously further delay my leveling plans. But lets face it, with the beta version of Cataclysm still not released, and an expectation of Cataclysm being under beta for around four months, I've really got more than enough time to finish leveling these last four toons.

Once I have this tank fully badge geared, I will then have essentially one character from each role more or less fully geared - healer, ranged dps, melee dps and tank. My death knight / melee dps isn't as fully geared as he could be, so that might be a project for after I finish leveling, but he can still roll about 3K dps in a heroic, so it doesn't really seem to matter much in his case.

Leveling has been going well with all of that. I've been rolling along really well on the mage and have her settled in Outland. The Shaman has continued to progress and is now at level 62.

I've spent enough time in instances on all three of these toons now to be able to confirm without a doubt that leveling is much faster questing through Outland than it is running dungeons. The only potential exception is knocking out one Ramps run at level 58 which will get you almost all the way to 59 in one run.

I'll be picking up the rogue for a chunk of this week. He's the farthest behind at this point, having gotten skipped in the leveling rotation once or twice because of real life conflicts, so he's sitting at only level 45 with a long way to go until Outland. We'll see how much progress we can make during this scheduled leveling time between now and Thursday!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Can't....Stop....Leveling

So I really tried to stop leveling all of my alts and focus on Loremaster for a while, but as it turns out, the pull of my various alts is just too strong. I did manage to spend a couple of weeks working on Loremaster and knocked off 300 or so quests, which is good, but I guess I'll pick it back up once I'm done with everything else!

So I've now managed to get my second toon of the final four into Outland - my Shadow Priest. I went ahead and dual-spec'd him as Discipline and figured I'd try my hand at healing a few 5 mans - particularly Hellfire Ramparts. I originally tried Holy, but found it was just way too mana-inefficient in todays environment where no one in these 5 man pugs bothers to listen to your pleas for mana.

So, I changed up to Discipline and that seemed to work much better. So he's now sitting at level 58, and almost to 59. One lesson learned on healing in Outlands is that if you get a group with all Death Knights, it's probably worth it to just drop and wait out the debuff. Nothing good is likely to happen in that scenario.

I'm going to be working on the mage next, with the goal of getting her to Outland within the next day or so. She's currently working through Un'Goro Crater at level 55.

So, with the delay in leveling from my stint with Loremaster, my stats for May don't look very good. I finished the month gaining 20 levels in 31 days, or about 0.6 levels per day. It's brought my average for the year down to 1.13, and the current forecast to have these last four toons to 80 is for August 28th, so a significant slip from last month. Still, should be well in advance of the Cataclysm release at this rate.

It continues to bother me that I don't have a geared tank amongst my toons, so I may go ahead and dig into my piles of gold (you accumulate tons of cash leveling all these toons) and gear up a nice little pally tank to try out. We'll see how that goes.

Here's where we stand on the four remaining toons:

Joarbek - Enhancement Shaman - level 60 (will pick him up again in a couple of days and may dual spec Resto / Elemental and see about healing my way to 80)
Joarvyk - Shadow / Discipline Priest - level 58
Joara - Frost Mage - level 55
Joarstab - Combat Rogue - level 45

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Getting Close on Kalimdor

So things have gotten really busy with real life lately as I mentioned in an earlier post, so I haven't made a ton of progress on Loremaster in the last week or so.

I'm basically at exactly the same place on Eastern Kingdoms - 258 quests still to go. In Kalimdor, I've just gotten down into the double digits with 99 quests to go, for a total of 357.

I've got a few quest chains that I want to wrap up in Kalimdor, and then I think I'm going to hop over to Eastern Kingdoms to make sure that I get the credit for all the quests that have you flying back and forth between continents before starting on some of the instances quests.

The big ones that I still need to knock out in Kalimdor from an instance perspective are Wailing Caverns, Maraudon, Dire Maul and Zul'Farrak.

After Memorial Day is over, I should have a little bit more time to play and continue working on knocking this out.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Loremaster Update

I know it's only been two days since I posted about my decision to finish Loremaster before continuing to move forward with leveling my alts, but just wanted to provide a quick update.

I managed to complete about 100 quests in Kalimdor since Sunday (although granted mostly low hanging fruit like Durotar and Mulgore). I've also started to go back to figure out quests that I missed in other areas and have so far covered Winterspring, Thousand Needles, Barrens (amazing to me how many quests in Barrens I had skipped), Felwood, Feralas, Stonetalon Mountains, and a few in Tanaris.

My quest log is now full, so I have a few that I need to turn in and then I'm going to focus on Silithius for a little while as there seem to be an enormous amount of quests there that I can work on for a while, having never quested there while leveling.

I'm starting to feel like I am going to have to go back and run some of the instance quests that I'd been skipping thinking that those wouldn't really count anyway. I feel like I'm going to come up short based on what I still have to go if I don't knock those out.

So here's where we stand as of today:

Kalimdor - 206 quests to go.
Eastern Kingdoms - 258 quests to go

There have been some great quests that I've done that I never did on any of my toons that have been really interesting. Counterattack! - which you get from Regthar Deathgate in the Barrens after completing Herzul Bloodmark - a great quest where you defend the outpost from waves of centaur attacks. Not particularly hard as a level 80, but would probably be quite epic and difficult at level.

The fun thing about this is it's almost like a puzzle figuring out which quests count, which don't and which you can do or don't have. I'm using an addon called Everyquest to track completed quests which makes things a little easier, and it does display zone quests that you haven't done yet, but it takes a little research to figure out which of the undone quests are ones that you can do and are likely to count.

I'll continue to keep you posted!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Outland Loremaster

So I've seen more and more speculation on various fan sites and other blogs that the Loremaster Achievement may possibly be removed once Cataclysm is released. So I've decided to go ahead and finish it up on Joar now rather than wait until later and run the risk that I won't have enough time to finish it before the release. After all, I will clearly be able to continue to level alts after Cataclysm, so that can always be delayed.

So I spent some time yesterday focused on knocking out the rest of Outland Loremaster on Joar yesterday and finally got it done!

The two final areas for me where Blades Edge Mountain and Shadowmoon Valley. The Netherwing quest chain helped a lot towards finishing Shadowmoon Valley, but there were also three drop quests that were pretty crucial in getting these things done:


http://thottbot.com/i31345
http://thottbot.com/i30579
http://thottbot.com/i32621

A couple of these were pretty difficult to solo, but I did manage to do it on my lock (so a Death Knight or Paladin should be able to do it while afk)

For Blade's Edge, these are some that I've been working on for a while. The Ogrila quests are pretty key here to getting these done.

As near as I can tell, there are two somewhat difficult routes to completing this one. The first is to solo the groups quests that you get from Mog'dorg (who sits on a tower near the Blade's Edge Arena) that have you run around killing Gronn's. I enlisted the help of my son's paladin and knocked these out.

The other is to grind out Consortium rep until you reached Revered, which will open another series of Consortium quests for you at Bashir Landing. If you don't want to group or can't seem to solo the Gronn, this is probably the easiest way to go.

Anyway, I ended up knocking all of these out yesterday and am now heading to Kalimdor to work on the quests there. The main areas that I didn't do while leveling there are Durotar, Mulgore, Silithius, Azshara and Winterspring. But I'm sure there are tons of quests in areas that I did hit, so it should be fun.

What I still have to go is 316 quests in Kalimdor and 258 in Eastern Kingdoms.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A Little Real Life Delay

I've gotten a little busy on the real life side for the last week or so, so my leveling so far in May has slowed significantly. I did manage to get my Shaman up to level 60 after last weeks update, so he's now flying comfortably around Outland. I also managed to get another 3 levels on the rogue, and one more level on the shadow priest (although I'll still be working on the Shadow Priest until at least Thursday of this week, so should be able to knock out a couple of more levels.

The Shadow Priest continues to be a lot of fun. While he's still a pretty heavy mana drain, and likely will be for another 8-10 levels or so, he's great for leveling because all of his abilities are constantly healing him back to full. So as long as I keep myself well supplied with water, I can keep rolling pretty quickly. And Spirit Tap and his other Replenishment talents do cut down on the amount that I need to drink pretty significantly.

The rogue continues to be really strong for leveling. Constantly spamming Sinister Strike gets to be a little old after a while, so I've been tossing in a rupture every now and then just for fun. Or opening from stealth and starting with either a Garrote or a Cheap Shot - again - not because these are particularly more effective or faster - just makes things interesting.

Will likely spend a decent chunk of this coming weekend leveling the mage, so hoping to have her safely deposited in Outland before the end of the weekend. We'll see how that goes. I think my guild has given up on its attempted return to serious raiding, so that should give me a little bit more weekend time for leveling, since my healer probably won't get pulled into anything.

I did switch my warlock main over to demonology. It was certainly my favorite spec while leveling, and I'd seen a ton of data coming out about how demonology was now peforming much better than destro for raiding. Ran a couple of heroics and quickly got the feel back of the demonology rotation. Was really happy with my dps in heroics at least - so there seems to be some truth to the rumors!

So here's where we stand this week on the remaining 4 toons:

Joarbek - Enhancement Shaman - level 60
Joara - Frost Mage - level 52
Joarvyk - Shadow Priest - level 51
Joarstab - Combat Rogue - level 45.

My plan is to finish up Loremaster on Joar as soon as I get these last few toons to 80, so may start providing some data around what I still have to go on that as well. Might sneak in a few quests here and there working toward that goal as well.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Outland Ho!

So after a slight pause to get my profs caught up with my leveling, I finally took my Shaman to Outland. This was the first of my four simultaneous leveling toons to make to the next stage, so I'm really looking forward to the "zone at a time" questing experience of Outland.

Perhaps for the first five minutes or so, I'll forget how much I despise Hellfire Peninsula.

So I normally wait until I hit 80 to worry about leveling the professions on my toons, but for these last two crafters, I've been having my bank alt keep an eye out for low priced mats that they need. I've been amazed how incredibly expensive those mid-level herbs are on my server, so I decided it probably made the most sense to get my herbalism skill caught up on the shammy so he can pick a significant portion of his own for his inscription.

So, he's sitting at 300 on both now and ready to roll Outland.

Not sure how far he'll get before I move on to the next toon. I need to get the School of Hard Knocks Achievement on my main. It's the last piece I need for the meta achievement. So, I'm going to dedicate some time trying to get it before continuing with my leveling blitz. We'll see how it goes. I like to PvP a lot on my warlock, but I've never really seen his role in the battlegrounds as being the flag and node captures that are part of the achievement. He's more of a crowd control / death dealer type. So it'll be an adjustment to my play style, but we'll see how it goes.

If nothing else, it'll be decent honor, right!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

April Leveling Update

Now that April is officially behind us, I wanted to go ahead and post my regular monthly leveling update and see how I was doing against my goal of getting my remaining four toons to 80 by Cataclysm.

For the month of April, I managed to gain a total of 36 levels, or an average of 1.2 levels per day. This was a huge improvement over March, which clocked in at just barely above 0.8 and is pretty in line with my total average for the year of 1.27.

At this pace, I should have the remaining four toons hit level 80 by around August 4th. That added about two days to my estimate from the end of March - still not a significant difference.

It doesn't seem likely that Cataclysm will launch before then given that the beta still isn't out, and the WOTLK beta took a little over four months, so even if they released tomorrow, we'd be looking at September 1st. That would still potentially give me enough time to finish up profs and get Loremaster on Joar as well.

All good goals!

I've also been gearing up both my druid and warlock some more, so that has taken some time away from leveling as well. Can't totally give up on the end game after all!

So, for the remaining toons, here's where they stand:

Joarbek - Enhancement Shaman - level 56
Joarvyk - Shadow Priest - level 50
Joara - Frost Mage - level 50
Joarstab - Combat Rogue - level 42

With any luck, by next months updates, all of these guys (except for probably the rogue) will be questing through Outland!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Warlock Tier Set Pieces

So a little more on the title topic later. First, a quick leveling update. I spent a few days last week focused on my Rogue and managed to get him to level 42. Combat continues to be a great talent tree for leveling and while the class as a whole continues to be a lot of fun, I am getting a little worn out spamming sinister strike all day long. So I might switch him over to Assassination once I hit 50 and can pick up Mutilate. It's probably not as good in general for leveling, but might be a little bit more fun.

I also worked on my Shadow Priest for a bit and he now sits at 49, just a few bars from picking up Vampiric Touch. When I started to level the shadow priest, I really thought it was going to feel very warlocky, but without the benefit of the minion. I've been very pleasantly surprised how different the class feels for leveling and how very survivable it is with all the various shadow talents pouring health back into my toon. Plus, there's a lot to keep track of in terms of different spells in the rotation and different buffs to keep up, so it's generally a fun leveling experience.

I may spend another day or two on the Priest before switching over to the mage. Gotta get to 50 and get Vampiric Touch after all!

So I've also been running some heroics and doing a few Wintergrasps on my existing 80's in order to continue their slow accumulation of gear. My druid is already in a four piece T9 set with a cloak from frost emblems, and my warlock just picked up the badges yesterday to get his last piece of T9.

It's actually quite interesting, because the T9 cloak for warlocks seems like, if anything, it's probably a slight downgrade from the T8 piece that I've been wearing. Seems like very odd itemization on the part of Blizzard. Conqueror's Deathbringer Robe versus Guldan's Robe of Conquest. If you run the comparisons on those two, you'll see that as part of "upgrading" to the next Tier, I'll be losing 1 hit, 2 spell power and 66 crit. In exchange, I'll be picking up 16 intellect, 9 stamina and 72 spirit. I'll also be trading a yellow gem slot for a blue slot, neither of which I'm likely to use for the slot bonus, which is the same on both pieces. Now don't get me wrong - if you run the stat weightings on Wowhead, it does still show up as a net upgrade, primarily because the extra spirit and intellect outweighs the loss on the other stats, but it just doesn't feel like much of an upgrade.

But, I need it in order to keep the set bonus, because as another oddity, the four piece set bonus for warlocks for T9 is the same as the 2 piece set bonus from T8 which I currently have. So since I'll be breaking up the T8 set anyway for the Triumph emblem helm, I need to replace the chest piece in order to keep that 10% bonus to my immolate's damage.

And, it's exactly this kind of nonsense that makes me tend to focus on leveling in the first place!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Maestrom Weapon Baby!

The funny thing about leveling so many different toons, is that somewhere around the mid-50's, where the class starts to get some of their really class defining talents, they start to feel completely invincible to me. I managed to get my Enhancement Shaman to level 56 yesterday, so he has picked up the first two ranks of Maelstrom Weapon. He really feels like an unstoppable force, I don't even have the full ranks of Maelstrom Weapon or Spirit Wolves yet.

But, I tend to feel that way about all the classes that I've played. Feral Druids with Mangle. The Beast Within for my Hunter. For my Retribution Paladin, it was actually Art of War and Judgements of the Wise that started to make him feel like a leveling machine. Crusader Strike seemed somewhat overwhelming as a talent in that tier. For my Warlock, it was the Felguard.

Once you get that top tier talent, everything just starts to feel easy.

So I'm really looking forward to getting those talents on my last three toons. For the mage, it's clearly about getting the Water Elemental (and then Glyphing that bad boy). For the priest, it's all about Vampiric Touch. And for the rogue, the talent in that spot is Surprise Attacks. That doesn't read like much of a game changer to me. Certainly not as much as Mutilate over in the Assassination tree. But we'll see.

So, despite being very very close to Outland, my Shaman is going back on the shelf for a little while and I'm going to pick things back up with my Rogue. He's currently the lowest level of my remaining four toons that I'm leveling sitting back at level 36. He's also tremendous fun - whenever I end up playing him for a few days, I have a really hard time putting him down and moving on to the next toon. But I'm sticking with the plan to 80 with these guys this time.

So here's where we stand on this lovely Maintenance Tuesday.

Joarbek - Enhancement Shaman - level 56
Joarvyk - Shadow Priest - level 47 (and literally like half a bar from 48)
Joara - Frost Mage - level 46
Joarstab - Combat Rogue - level 36.

I'm still projecting an early August completion date to have all of these toons to 80. That might slip a little bit as things slow down once I get all of them to Northrend, but we'll see. I still think I"ll have time to finish up Loremaster on Joar before the release of Cataclysm.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

More Cataclysm Class Change Impacts on Leveling - Hunters, Druids and Mages

A post almost every day from Joar? What the heck? Is he trying to be a productive member of the blogging community or something?

This will cover my thoughts on the proposed changes impacts on the last three classes that have been released so far.

First - Hunters.

There are a number of changes here that I think are going to have a big impact on hunters. First, the removal of ammunition. This change is going to be extremely helpful, not because it was such a hassle constantly buying ammunition, but because of the bag space it is going to free up. One extra bag space just gives you that much more space for loot. The more you can carry while leveling, the more gold you will earn by selling it or auction housing it when you get back to town. Always a good thing.

The change to focus instead of mana will be a good thing at lower levels, particularly before level 20 when you would have picked up Aspect of the Viper to regenerate your mana while fighting. Not so much stopping and drinking up to level 20. After level 20, not having to switch back and forth between aspects is a nice touch, and should have the mobs going down faster as we won't be taking the periodic damage reduction that went with Aspect of the Viper.

Having the ability to hold three active pets will also be a huge benefit to those that like to do a little instancing or PvP while leveling. At least for me, I've always found that a tenacity pet worked best for leveling, but that I probably wanted a ferocity pet for instances and a cunning pet for PvP. Now, I can keep all three with me at once and switch back and forth to fit the situation. Huge plus.

Starting with the pet at level 1 seems like it would be a huge deal, but frankly, if it was bothering you that much for the 3-4 hours that it takes to get to level 10, you probably have different issues. It should in theory prevent leveling hunters from starting some annoying melee habits at low levels, but hopefully folks were getting over those habits in the remaining 150-200 or so hours it took to get the rest of the way to 80. Also, lots of neat sounding buffs to Beast Mastery talents that should help significantly. Strangely enough, unlike some of the other classes, these are all fairly detailed, so it's worth checking out the forum posts.

Next - Druids

There's different things in these updates for you depending on whether you level as Feral or Balance. Ghostcrawler hinted in a follow up post that one of the things they are considering is switching when you get Cat and Bear form. Getting cat form at level 10 would be a huge bonus to the folks that just like to level through questing, but would be an enormous problem for the folks looking to start bear tanking as soon as the Dungeon Finder tool becomes available. Not sure we'll end up actually seeing that one as a result.

"We will be buffing the damage of Mangle (cat) significantly so that when cat druids cannot Shred, they are not at such a damage-dealing loss." Leveling feral was never particularly difficult once you got mangle, but this is going to make it even better. Also, some talk in the updates about providing cats with an interrupt which will help immensely with those pesky caster mobs.

For folks leveling as balance, the new top level mastery bonus is changing the operation of Eclipse:
"Eclipse: We are moving Eclipse from a talent into a core mechanic of the class and making it less random. Balance druids will have a new UI element that shows a sun and a moon. Whenever they cast an Arcane spell, it will move the UI closer to the sun, and buff their Nature damage. Whenever they cast a Nature spell, it will move the UI closer to the moon, and buff their Arcane damage. The gameplay intention is to alternate Arcane and Nature spells (largely Starfire and Wrath) to maintain the balance. " This sounds pretty cool. Not sure it's going to make my leveling life largely different.

Overall, druids have never been particularly difficult to level once you get cat form at 20, and it seems like that's going to continue to be the case. Not seeing much help for those early levels though.

And last, but certainly not least: Mages

Lots of interesting changes that impact leveling mages:

"Arcane Missiles is being redesigned to become a proc-based spell. Whenever the mage does damage with any spell, there is a chance for Arcane Missiles to become available, similar to how the warrior's Overpower works. The damage and mana cost of this spell will be reworked to make it very desirable to use when available. This change should make gameplay more dynamic for the mage, particularly at low levels."

I typically level as frost, so Arcane Missles is just not something that I use at all. To me, this sounds like a good addition just to get me out of mindless Frostbolt spam.

"We are planning to remove spells that don't have a clear purpose. Amplify Magic, Dampen Magic, Fire Ward, and Frost Ward are being removed from the game, and we may remove more."

A little sadness here as I typically use Fire Ward a fair amount while leveling - particularly as most of the caster mobs you come across seem to be fireball fiends.

"The ability to conjure food and water will not become available until higher levels (likely around level 40), as we're making changes to ensure mages generally won't run out of mana at lower levels. Once mages learn how to conjure food and water, the conjured item will restore both health and mana." As long as changes are being made to make sure I don't run out of mana as much at lower levels, not sure I really care about this one. Never been a big user of the conjured food anyway.

The top tier mastery bonus for Frost is interesting as well.

"Deathfrost: Casting Frostbolt places a buff on the mage that increases the damage for all frost, fire, and arcane spells. The only damage spell that won't be affected by this buff is Frostbolt." Anything that makes me push a key other than my Frostbolt key is one that I generally view positively!

So that's it for the last of the classes. It looks like the paladin update will be coming out tomorrow, so look for my thoughts tomorrow night!




Level 100 #23, #24 and #25 are done...#26 in progress

So it's been a while since I've posted because I feel like there hasn't been much to talk about.  I'm running 5 toons throug...