Friday, February 26, 2010

Shammy Leveling as Resto

So, after a couple of weeks spent agonizing over the enhancement versus elemental decision and not feeling completely comfortable in either spec, I decided to try a different route and respec'd and gear for resto and tried leveling strictly through the dungeon finder.

I've finally found my groove as a shaman! Leveling through the dungeon finder as a resto shaman has been incredibly fun for me so far. I have no trouble at all keeping the tanks and the rest of the party up - even the bad ones! lol When things do get a little tricky, a quick shot of Nature's Swiftness quickly restores calm to the group. Instant massive heal for the win.

Mana isn't much of an issue so far courtesy of my totems and watershield. So far I've actually found it's better for my mana to keep the healing stream totem down rather than the mana spring totem. The reason being is the healing stream totem easily takes care of the little bit of damage the other group members take, so I don't end up using a cast on them. I'd definitely be interested in anyone's advice on whether this is the right way to go.

I've also been thoroughly enjoying the rogue. With poisons running now, he's a lot of fun in groups and doing really amazing dps generally. Almost always top of the charts, which I still don't even remotely understand for a toon with absolutely no AoE capabilities at this point. So I may focus on these toons a bit this weekend rather than taking the priest of the shelf to level with my son. Although we'll see what he feels like doing. Also planning to run some things on my level 80 druid to get him his last piece of T9 and also hopefully the first level of his Ashen Verdict ring. We'll see how that goes. My original warlock main is feeling rather neglected with his measly two pieces of T9, and he's still seething a little bit that I blew a bunch of his Emblems on a BoA chest piece for the mage rather than a nice shiny set of T9 legs to replace the Valorous Legs that he swears are getting itchy he's been in them for so long. How undead can itch, I'm not sure, but he's been giving me funny looks lately.

Strangely enough, the warlock is really my least favorite toon right now to play in heroics. For dps, I'd rather run either the paladin or the hunter even though they're both extremely undergeared compared to the warlock. Just more fun for me at the moment.

So that's the weekend plans. Will also report out at the end of the weekend on February's leveling pace and whether we're still on track for 9 level 80's by Cataclysm.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Fun of Random Content Discoveries

So after finally hitting 80 with my fifth toon last week, I actually took a day or two off to just mess around rather than getting fully back into the swing of hard core leveling. I've been very focused on doing the dailies on my brand new maxed out Jewelcrafter, since a jewelcrafter without enough epic cuts is just no fun at all.

Also, my new paladin / jewelcrafting has been having to do a lot of kissing up to my transmute alchemist spec'd hunter, since he's keeping him stocked in raw epic gems to cut and filling up his bags with raw gems for when he finally does get those cuts.

And last, the price of some eternals on my server has gotten so ridiculous that I've actually spent a little bit of time just farming up the few eternal fires that I need for the cardinal ruby transmute. Transmutes and epic gem cuts are really insanely profitable when you've actually farmed up all the mats yourself.

When I finally did pick up with leveling, what I ended up deciding is that I can't decide, so rather than focus on just pounding the next toon through straight to 80, I'll just take the remaining three and level each of them a little bit at a time. After all, there really is no hurry at this point. Based on all my data and projections, I should get my 9th toon to 80 sometime in early July, which still seems likely to be long before Cataclysm comes out at this point.

I've probably spent the most time lately on the rogue. Primarily, because I wanted to get him to 20 for his mount (woo hoo! no more unmounted toons!) and also for poisons. I've never had a toon that got to play with poisons before, so that's been a lot of fun. I've also really been enjoying the class quests on the rogue. As near as I can tell, there's really no reason to do them anymore. Seems like one of them was probably ended to get you the lockpicking ability and the other was intended to give you the ability to use poisons, but both of those are just abilities you get for "free" now. All that being said, these are really fun class quests and really give you more of a feeling for being a rogue. So even though there's no ability-based reason to do them anymore, I'd encourage everyone to go back and do them if you haven't.

That pretty much goes for all of the class quests. Some of these are really epic and fun quest chains that should really be completed and experienced in order to fully round out your understanding of your class. The warlock epic mount quest and the druid epic flight form quest both come immediately to mind.

Also, with Jewelcrafting now maxed, that leaves me with only two professions still to max out before I have all of them - Inscription and Engineering. I've already started Inscription on my Shaman, and I'm thinking about taking Engineering on the Rogue just for fun. Seems like it would add some neat tools that seem rather appropriate for the class.

I know this topic has been discussed a lot lately, particularly over at Big Bear Butt Blogger (http://thebigbearbutt.com - if you're not reading this blog regularly, you're really missing out, whether you're into bear tanking or not!), but I think Blizzard needs to bring back the emphasis on class quests, particularly adding them on at later levels. I also understand making the endgame more accessible to players, but I also really miss some of the attunement quests that used to be required in order to unlock certain dungeons. The Onyxia and Karazhan quest chains in particular took a lot of time and effort and you really felt the payoff at the end.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Jewelcrafting 450

So after hitting 80 this afternoon, I delayed focusing on my next alt in order to level Jewelcrafting on my fresh 80 Paladin. Let me caveat this by saying that I've been keeping an eye out for mats on my bank alt for several weeks, so while I didn't have absolutely everything, I already had a lot of what I needed. So, I managed to get my paladin maxed in Jewelcrafting in the course of an afternoon. Started at about 2pm and had it completely done by 6:30pm or so.

This will be a nice little source of funds, particularly when paired with my Transmute spec'd hunter. I'll just need to remember to get out there and hit those dailies every day, and maybe do a little mining on the Death Knight to keep him stocked in basic gems.

So, only two professions to go. Engineering, which I also plan to do on the paladin, but will probably save for later, and inscription, which will be the primary profession of my next toon.

Ding! Level 80 #5!

Hit 80 on my paladin today. As near as I can tell, this is my fastest to 80 ever by a lot - 6 days, 38 minutes played time. (So close to being under 6 days too...)

I'm now debating the next toon to level to 80 - either mage, rogue, or shaman. I did a little poll of my guild, and they're vote seemed to be for the rogue, but I haven't actually leveled a caster since my very first toon, so personally, I'm sort of leaning toward the mage.

Feel free to vote in the comment section!

Everyone keeps telling me how much massive fun Rogues are though, so it's tempting.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Questing versus Random Dungeons

So I finally managed to get into a situation on Saturday evening that let me pull a little more comparable data on the xp to be gained from running random instances versus just questing. What actually caused this is that I was able to get into a very good instancing group, and everyone wanted to stay together and just keep requeuing for randoms each time we finished. As a result, I was able to continually run instances on my paladin for about 3 solid hours on Saturday night.

The end result, interestingly enough, was about 300,000 xp per hour. Note that in general, I did not have any quests related to the instances that we were running, so I didn't get any additional xp from quest turn ins on the instances, which would boost that number a little bit.

On the questing front, I'm able to consistently maintain an xp per hour of between 500K and 600K per hour. So, the end result is that it does significantly slow you down to do a significant amount of instancing while leveling.

Now - that being said - let me offer two very major caveats to this. This only really applies if you're planning to level a toon to 80 and then move on to your next alt to be leveled. If this is a toon that you're planning to use for end-game raiding, then there are significant payoffs to using the leveling by LFD method. First is that it's easily possible to accumulate enough triumph badges for 1-2 pieces of T9 gear that can be purchased as soon as you hit level 80. The second point is, if you never run any instances while questing, you actually won't have decent enough gear at the point you actually hit 80 to even queue for a random heroic, so you'll be stuck running regular instances for a while after hitting 80 in order to get the gear to be able to run heroics. And you may as well get xp for doing that while you go.

So, the choice is yours. If you're looking for endgame, it'll be somewhat slower overall leveling, but you'll be much more ready to jump in as soon as you hit 80. If you're just looking to hit 80 and move on to the next toon, you're better off questing.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Hunter PvP and Some Name Changes

So, as I mentioned in an earlier post, I'm easily distracted by new shinies, so I'm back to doing daily battleground quests and Wintergrasp quests on all of my level 80 toons. This is old hat for my warlock, druid and death knight, who all have basically a full set of last season's honor only gear (Deadly and Furious combinations).

This was however, the first time I was trying PvP on my fresh level 80 hunter. So, I quickly put my druid to work crafting him a nice set of PvP blues to get him started, and off we went to Wintergrasp. I checked out the player rankings on Arena Junkies to figure out what appeared to be the spec and glyph's of choice for the savvy PvP hunter. (And yes, I know, Arena is a lot different than battlegrounds or world PvP, so the specs don't tend to be completely ideal for what I'm doing, but until I get the feel for things, it certainly works better than my leveling spec!).

I've been really pleasantly surprised by how much fun I've been having with PvP on this hunter. This was a class that I enjoyed leveling, but I wasn't completely wowed by it. Just something I felt like I needed to finish since I got the character so far. And he did well in instances, but, again, not something that was really knocking my socks off.

But PvP with this guy is just a ton of fun. And he seems to do really well even in his crappy blue PvP crafted gear. So I'm really anxioius to see how he works once I get him some decent PvP gear. I enjoy PvP healing on my druid, because I feel like you can really do a lot to turn the tide of an entire battle with some good PvP healing. What you miss is some of the satisfaction of being in on the actual kill. The warlock is fun from a sheer power standpoint, but can be awfully squishy once two or more people get you in their sites.

The Death Knight has probably been my least favorite toon from a PvP standpoint. Strange, because they have so many tools at their disposal, but I think I'm more of a ranged guy at heart, because I just hate having to chase people down to beat on them.

The hunter seems to combine a little bit of extra survivability and a neat bag of tricks with some of the ranged power that I like on the warlock. So I may give the hunter a little extra PvP love over the next few weeks and focus on gearing him up more than the others. They're pretty far ahead of him anyway, so they can wait!

In other news, while an altoholic and someone that doesn't raid much, I'm still a member of a very large guild and enjoy the social interaction that goes with that. After months or confusing the crap out of my various guild members with all of my alts, I decided to go ahead and go on a renaming spree to make all of my guilded alts names some variation of my main - Joar.

I've been less than creative with some of them, but here are the new names for my level 80's and the paladin that I'm leveling now (who dinged 75 yesterday!).

Death Knight - Joardk (I know, creative huh!)
Druid - Joarwyn
Hunter - Joarshot (more creative juices flowing there)
Paladin - Joaradin

I haven't renamed the shaman, rogue or mage yet because they're currently unguilded, but I was thinking of the following wildly creative alternatives for those once I finally pull the trigger:

Shaman - Joartotem
Mage - Joarwand (or maybe Joarcane?)
Rogue - Joarsap

Friday, February 5, 2010

Oooh Shinies!

My whole determined progress in leveling can always be interrupted by new shinies! Now, I've said here many a time, that I'm not a raider, so new ICC gear and new Lich King drops isn't going to do it for me, because I'm never going to get any of that stuff. Even emblem gear doesn't really do it for me, because that's only really good for raiding, which I don't do.

But, with the start of Season 8, there's a whole bunch of new PvP gear available, and that I can get! They've also made some higher level PvP gear just a little bit more attainable than it used to be. There are four different pieces of Season 8 Wrathful gear that can be purchased just for honor now - cloaks, necks, rings and bracers.

Wintergrasp also has some nice new gear including some cloaks and shoulders.

You can also get the core Season 7 set (Relentless) just with honor and arena points. If you don't feel like knocking out the 10 arena battles a week to get some points, you can also get arena points now for completing the daily battleground quest. While that sounds great, you only get 25 points for completing the daily, so it would take you more than two weeks to accumulate enough points for a single piece of gear, so might be worth knocking out those 10 arena fights anyway.

So, I'll probably be diving my four existing level 80's back into Wintergrasp on a regular basis in an effort to start accumulating some new shinies for them. Which will of course slow down my leveling.

Oh well. It's just a game, and all about having fun anyway.

It might actually get me to go back to doing the LFD since I can get nice PvP gear with emblems too, but we'll see about that.

Monday, February 1, 2010

January Update and Low Level Warrior Tanks

So I ended up doing a fair amount of leveling of both my paladin and my priest this weekend, so ended up finishing the month strong from a leveling perspective. I managed to hit 70 on the paladin last night which still makes me feel really good, even though it's just another milestone now on the way to 80.

Anyway, in addition to my four current 80's - warlock, death knight, druid and hunter, here's where I finished the month of January:

Cador - Paladin - level 70
Zinjar - Priest - level 34
Mograwn - Shaman - level 31
Vindoria - Mage - level 28
Rukai - Rogue - level 12

This pace worked out to 1.58 levels per day for the month of January which is closer to what I thought I could achieve when more focused on leveling. If I'm able to maintain this pace, I would be on track to get the rest of these toons to level 80 sometime around the 3rd or 4th week of June, which puts me on pace to have them done before my expectation of when Cataclysm comes out.

So leveling the priest this weekend, I ended up queuing for a lot of instances with my son on his priest. They generally went fairly well with me serving as dps and my son healing on his priest. We did have a few tanks that seemed to have some issues though.

Now, let me preface this by saying that I completely suck at tanking. Said that before here. I've tried it on my death knight, and I'm an epic fail at it.

That being said, even with that, there are a few things, particularly for low level warrior tanks that I feel are worth pointing out.

  1. Just because you're a warrior, doesn't mean you can naturally tank.
  2. Having some, if not most of your talent points in the protection tree is a real plus for tanking. Arms spec'd tanks are not the new cutting edge thing.
  3. Try using a shield. I'm not an expert on block mechanics, but I'm pretty sure it's a good thing for tanking.
  4. Defensive stance anyone? And no, it's not a spell you needed to pick up. It's a quest. Again - I'm not an expert, but just reading the tooltip, anything that decreases damage taken and increases threat is probably good to use - at least every now and then.
  5. Auto attack is probably not going to be enough - go ahead and feel free to hit that Heroic Strike, Thunderclap or Cleave button every now and then. Even Sunder Armor. I know you're a big ugly warrior, and that generates a lot of threat on it's own, but these other things help too.
  6. When your healer says "please wait, I'm out of mana" that's not secret code for "go ahead, pull the next several trash groups."