Thursday, January 28, 2010

Server Down - Alliance Plans continued

So after doing what I thought was some very early planning for some alliance toons yesterday, the server that I keep all of my Horde characters on was down for some unexpected maintenance for a sizeable chunk of the day yesterday. So I went ahead and started to convert my alliance plans to reality.

I went ahead and set up all of the toons that are currently available (basically everything except for the two worgen toons that I have planned). I then went ahead and leveled everyone through their respective starting areas and parked them in their first available inn to start accumulating rested xp. I also decided to do something a little different on my alliance toons and use a common naming convention for all of them. So after a hard morning's work blasting everyone through their starting areas, here is where my new collection of alliance toons stand:

Melor - Night Elf Druid - level 6
Melbeast - Night Elf Hunter - level 5
Melwand - Gnome Mage - level 6
Melardin - Dwarf Paladin - level 7
Melvyk - Human Priest - level 5
Melwon - Draenei Shaman - level 7
Melarm - Dwarf Warrior - level 6

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Alliance Plans

So as you may have noticed, all of the toons that I have leveled so far have been Horde. I've started a few alliance players and gotten at least one of them all of the way to Outland, but I've never gotten very far on the Alliance side. My level 80 hunter actually started as alliance (Draenei), but I switched him at level 60.

Given the progress that I've been making on my toons, I'm thinking that it's not going to be terribly far into Cataclysm before I get toons of all ten classes to the level cap. So that got me to thinking about what would be next - and the obvious answer is to start the same process on the alliance side.

I've actually started to prep for that a little bit and to lay out the race and class combinations to make sure that I've got at least one of each race as well, just to make sure I'm getting the broadest possible experience.

So here's what I'm thinking so far for the 10 alliance toons:

Gnome Death Knight (I just think that's funny)
Night Elf Druid
Night Elf Hunter
Gnome Mage
Dwarf Paladin
Human Priest
Worgen Rogue
Draenei Shaman
Worgen Warlock
Dwarf Warrior

If I get the time before Cataclysm launches I may actually run all the non-Worgen toons through their starting areas and get them parked in the first inn to start accumulating rested xp there.

I'll also likely level each one strictly with gathering professions just to make it easier - either Skinning and Herbalism or Skinning and Mining.

I have to decide if I want to run one toon quickly to 85 first and then use that toon as a bank alt for everyone else, or use a different approach this time to the bank alt issue. Might form a guild and go that route. We'll see.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Enhancement versus Elemental

So I've been on a bit of a leveling binge lately. Got some of the raiding bug out of my system last week and back to a full fledged case of altoholism. I spent a little bit of additional time leveling my shaman last week and managed to get him from level 28 to level 31. It's really raised some questions in my mind about the best spec to be using for leveling a Shaman. It's odd really, because for almost every other class, their seems to be one fairly clear spec that's most effective for leveling, and that spec works well throughout the entire process, but I'm not sure that's the case for Shaman.

I had been leveling exclusively as enhancement, but particularly in the late 20's was finding it to be somewhat frustrating, particularly in situations where I was pulling multiple mobs. I've seen a lot of articles that seemed to suggest that leveling enhancement doesn't truly come into its own until dual wield becomes available at level 40.

However, particularly early on, trying to level as elemental was very frustrating because it was extremely mana intensive.

What I've been toying with is a rather odd method of switching back and forth, but that I think might provide the most effective leveling path for relatively low level shaman. You start out your toon leveling as enhancement. This involves keeping lightning shield up, keeping either frostbrand or flametongue on your weapon and pulling with lightning bolt, then bashing away till they're dead. I was also throwing in an occasional frost shock just for the slowing ability.

At level 20, once water shield becomes available, respec and switch to elemental. At that point, your rotation changes and you want to keep water shield up and your basically spamming lightning bolt with an occasional flame shock for good measure. Water shield keeps your mana replenished so you don't have to stop and drink after every fight.

At level 40, I think it will be effective to switch back to elemental with dual wield, or you could alwyas continue to level as elemental - your choice at that point. We'll see how it goes.

I've also continued to focus a lot on my paladin, and have managed to get him to level 64 as of the end of the day yesterday. He's almost done with Zangarmash and ready to head on to Terrokar forest. Leveling as a ret paladin continues to be a lot of fun and ridiculously easy. So many weapons in your arsenal to make lots of things very dead very fast.

I also got my priest up to level 30, my mage up to level 28 and my rogue up to level 12. I know I said I wasn't going to mess with the rogue, but my levels per day have increased with my increased focus, so that I'm now more comfortable that I'll be able to get him to 80 as well before the Cataclysm release date. So I'm throwing him back into the rotation.

So here's where we currently sit, besides my four existing level 80's: my warlock, death knight, druid and hunter...

Cador - Ret Paladin - level 64
Mograwn - Elemental (for now) Shaman - level 31
Zinjar - Shadow Priest - level 30
Vindoria - Frost Mage - level 28
Rukai - Combat Rogue - level 12

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Some Actual Raiding

So I have actually had the time and schedule available to do some actual raiding over the past week or so, so I've taken a few forays into ICC. Please note, as I believe I've mentioned in this column before, that I am not a serious raider and my guild is not really a serious raid guild (although they're still trying to decide if they want to start pretending to be at least).

So I get invited into both ICC 10 and ICC 25 and both times caveat it that I'm nowhere even close to being at the appropriate gear level for this instance. But, I'm a semi-competent resto druid, so I'm happy to come in and fling hots around the raid group.

So I've seen a lot of strategies tried on Lord Marrowgar at this point - probably a total of 15 or so different attempts, but so far we haven't come anywhere even close to bringing him down.

It's interesting too, because this encounter very much tends to highlight very much how skills can sometimes mean so much more than gear. Our wipes tended to be almost exclusively because of our inability to quickly focus on bone spikes and everyone's general tendency to ignore the first general rule of World of Warcraft - "don't stand in the fucking fire."

So, despite being 700 or so GearScore points lower than everyone else in the raid, I actually did really well. Was near the top of the healing meters in hps and total for almost every attempt and seemed to be able to stay alive longer than just about everyone else - maybe it's because I'm a tree - so I've got an inherent character based fear of fire that makes me run just a little bit faster. Who knows.

Anyway, despite all the repeated wipes, it's been an interesting learning experience, and I have gotten a decent amount of Ashen Verdict rep out of it. So it's all good.

On the leveling front, I've gotten my paladin from 52 to 60 since last week, so he's now happily cruisingi through Hellfire Peninsula. I also got about another level or so on both my priest and my mage who are at 28 and 25, respectively.

I might take another shot at ICC either tonight or tomorrow, so we'll see how that goes.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Unstoppable

For the last few days, I've been pretty focused on leveling my paladin, so have managed to get him from 42 up to level 50. I've got to say that leveling the paladin is a lot of fun. The guy seems to be pretty unstoppable.

Adding a few core talents like Art of War along with getting Hammer of Wrath has made for a formidable rotation. I also just picked up Crusader Strike which gives me something else to do while I'm waiting for Hammer of Wrath to pop. All in all, it's big fun and seems to make for very fast leveling.

I'm still torn about my plan to switch and try to level through tanking once I get this character to Outland just because he's so much fun to just level through questing right now, and strangely enough, even for the 5th time through, I'm not entirely tired of the quests yet.

When I pick up my shaman next, I may switch him to resto and try the leveling through instance approach with him (although I may just quest from 28 to 40 first - seems like that might be a pain without Chain Heal).

Saturday, January 9, 2010

New Profs

Well, I've been sort of dual-focused for the last few days - I decided I needed to go ahead and max up the professions for my newly minted level 80 hunter. I leveled him with just skinning, but planned to switch him over to Herbalism and Alchemy soon after hitting 80.

So I've spent the last few days working on leveling both of those professions and finally managed to max both of them earlier this afternoon.

That now gives me 8 professions at maximum level among my 4 level 80 toons: tailoring, enchanting, mining, blacksmithing, skinning, leatherworking, herbalism and alchemy.

My plan is to go ahead and level engineering and jewelcrafting on my paladin as soon as I get him to 80 and then finish up the professions by leveling inscription on my shaman.

Despite all of this, I did manage to get a few more levels on my paladin and he's now sitting at level 46.

I'm also seriously leaning towards finishing up Loremaster on my main, Joar, after I finish leveling the paladin. I really want to get that done before the expansion, and I'm less concerned about leveling all my planned toons to 80 before the expansion since the leveling process is likely to just get better post-Cataclysm, but Loremaster might become a bit more challenging depending on how they handle it.

Plus, I just want to make sure I see all of those quests in Azeroth that I may have missed before they may get changed or discarded forever.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Ding! Level 80 #4!

Well - managed to get my hunter to level 80 today! So now I'm off to level the paladin next. He's sitting at level 41 now, so it's going to take me a while.

The final /played time on the hunter was 8 days, 10 hours. Not bad, considering I changed professions on him several times and also did a lot of general messing around.

A few observations - leveling beast mastery with a tenacity spec makes the leveling experience very easy. There were very few points, even with pulling multiple mobs, where things were too terribly challenging. He doesn't kill things as quickly as some other classes, but that didn't seem to have a huge impact on leveling speed. The need to carry ammo did increase the amount of time that had to be spent running back to vendors and mailboxes, so that hurts a bit.

Overall, I enjoy playing the hunter. I did immediately respec him upon hitting 80 to a standard survival spec that will make more sense for doing heroics and also went out and grabbed a wolf to replace my leveling bear. Not really planning to run any heroics, but might give one or two a try just to see. I do eventually plan to finish off his professions, so might q up for a few while I'm waiting on that.

So, now I'm off to the paladin, and back to Azeroth!

Friday, January 1, 2010

2009 Round Up

Well, I spent the last few days of 2009 focused on leveling my hunter through Northrend, but ended up falling just a little bit short of my goal of getting him to 80 by the end of the year. 32 bars short to be exact. So, he finishes the year at level 78, and it shouldn't take me long to get him the rest of the way now. So, in addition to my existing 80's - warlock, death knight and druid, here's where I finished the year:

Tuvalu - level 78 hunter
Cador - level 41 paladin
Mograwn - level 28 shaman
Zinjar - level 27 priest
Vindoria - level 24 mage
Rukai - level 8 rogue

With the holidays, and some distraction from the new Dungeon Finder tool, plus the slower leveling pace in Northrend, I only managed 0.7 levels per day for the month of December, and it works out to a total of 0.83 levels per day since I started writing this blog back in June.

I plan to continue leveling these toons one at a time to pick up 2010 because I just find that to be inherently more satisfying. At that rate, if I'm able to pick up the pace to closer to 1 level per day, I should have the rest of these toons (excluding the rogue) to level 80 by the end of July. If Cataclysm still isn't out by then, I'll start leveling the rogue, otherwise, I plan to delete this rogue and pick up a goblin rogue as well as a goblin warrior to level through the new cataclysm beginning levels.

I've been using the dungeon finder tool once a day to level the hunter and have found the xp per hour to be somewhat competitive with questing. I've been lucky in getting some fairly decent groups, though. I've been pleasantly surprised with how competitive my dps has been with a Beast Mastery spec and a bear for a pet. I was doing about 1,300 at level 77, which seemed fairly decent. I'd be curious what the difference would be with a marksmanship or survival spec and a ferocity pet. I may do a quick respec and retame upon hitting 80 just to see what the difference works out to. Beast Mastery and a bear is still definitely the most efficient spec while leveling, and since it doesn't seem to do badly on relative dps, it seems fine to just stay that way for instances while leveling.