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Alts X 2

Because it is not possible to have too many alts, and because the rocket is too freaking cool, we have recruit-a-friend going right now. We had been planning to do it since the rocket announcement and were just waiting until after kid’s weeks. So now Approximate has a new two person flying mount and we are grinding up soon noobies in Singal Abstract Noun.
Profusion and Invariant (mk2) are the pair, a mage and a lock. The times I tried a mage they always felt too squishy in contrast to my hunter. Dying a lot gets old. It helps to have the levels fly past with the RAF bonuses though. Still, we did find out the hard way on Sunday that that this pair simply can’t AOE level mobs 3 levels higher. Our last leveling pairs have been bear/tree, pally/boomkin and warrior/priest so we got a bit spoiled. Still, we are finding the right pace for two glass cannons.
We just dinged 26 over lunch. The plan this time is to grind to 60 just about every class we don’t already have alts. It will probably take a second RAF pair (getting Analogue the rocket too) in order to get them all. But we do have it for 3 months so we might as well make the most of it.
Last time we did RAF was with our druid pair (Reversion and Analogue). That time we were too pumped druiding to go back and use RAF on any other pairs. This time we will do better and get the most out of it. I am still not sure which classes I will use level granting and which I will actually grind.
Fortunatly on the SAN server we had already leveled a few characters to between 7 and 14. That is not much, but by using gather professions and a good auction addon we already had 50 or 100 gold (not sure how much. She keeps the checkbook).
Getting all the new 60s to 80 will be a chore. We certainly will not do them all at once and we are sure to be more sick of the Outlands than ever before. At least the instances anyway. The warrior I most recently ran though there only actually did something like 26 quests in the whole place. That was without even running Slabs, Dark Portal, any of the tempest keep 5 mans or magister’s terrace.
It goes pretty fast if you don’t grind without rested. With multiple alts at 60 that should be easy.

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Orphan Achievements, done. Got the EotS flag cap last night. Approximate the Hunter and Invariant the Mage ventured in. Approx got his cap in the first bg; the Alliance played pretty well and we always had at least two bases and usually the flag. He actually then managed to get the flag and bring it to me twice; the first time I managed to hit Ice Block instead of clicking the flag (don’t ask) and the second time it bugged and wouldn’t cap. With only 8 seconds to go we didn’t have time to try anything else.

The next two EotS were utter fail; in one we agreed on a strategy but couldn’t accomplish it. There was a really skilled shaman who kept knocking our offense off the cliff to our death.

Finally we got a group of Alliance that knew what they were doing. I tried to get the flag several times but just died; my lousy pvp gear and fire spec give me the survivability of a snowball in hell. I went on defense and kept watch at the Draeni Ruins and Approximate ran the flag; he dropped it just outside the cap point, I picked it up and scored. Some of the others in the bg were confused about what he had done so he explained he had to get the achievement for his wife and had a couple “aww, that’s nice” type comments. And one “Darn it, I’m going to have to burn badges and get an entire pvp set just for this one achievement” comment. I don’t think that guy was having fun.

In summary, bring a friend or three with you. Let whoever is most durable and has the most tricks run the flag, while the others watch his back, and get that thing done. It took me a total of 7 EotS bgs to do; 1 AB, 1 WG, 4 AVs. Not too bad at all. Barely enough honor for one piece of gear. It was annoying while doing it at times but not as bad as I’d feared.

After that we went to Stormwind, turned in our orphans, and then headed to Shattrath to look after a cute like Draeni girl who has a great destiny. Wonder if we’ll see her again sometime? Apparently these underprivileged youths have a surplus of pets, because they gave us one. Of course Invariant has 63 noncombat pets right now so it’s not like she needed another but hey, that’s two closer to the Pet Fawn!

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L2P Nub

So there we were in POS, Analogue in tree form and Reversion’s second bear tank, the undergeared one. Soon as we saw the loading screen we knew we were in for fun. His second bear is lightly geared, has some holes, and was running with an experimental high-agility build. That’s why I bring Analogue along when we want to run instances with that tank; she’s usually able to keep things up just fine, but I know some of the POS pulls are fun..

We get a warlock, a dk, and a paladin. The warlock hasn’t been here before on this character; he asks people to “share quests” and we remind him to talk to Jaina at the portal in. This is halfway through the first pull. He says “Ok, can I brb?” and we give him permission, starting in on the next pull. Then I notice his health bar is going down… and down… he’s managed to aggro the caster mobs that everyone always skips these days. So Reversion and I go back and res him. Well now he’s got the quest, so we keep going.

First boss is fine. Then we wipe after that because I’m careless and not looking where the tank is and run into the ambushers. Oops. That was dumb. We get back, clear to Ick and Krick, kill them, and start up the hill. It takes all my button spamming but the first two groups go down and everyone is alive. The paladin seems to have a broken cleanse button so we have to wait around after the fight for the diseases to wear off, but it’s going ok.

The next set of mobs, Reversion tells the DK to run to one caster and death grip the other caster on top. Wonder of wonders he listens, we take out that group. We go to do the second group – and wipe; I have no idea why. Everyone runs back, except for the dk. He didn’t run back last time either and this time he’s under the mobs and I couldn’t rez him if I wanted to. We tell him to release, wait for him to do it or reply or… nothing. So he gets kicked and a mage joins the party. A mage with a gear score higher than mine and an ego to match.

The first pull wasn’t bad; Reversion kept aggro, we’d already killed one caster and the mage’s blizzard didn’t pull off. Now it was time for the tunnel. Reversion gave the standard rundown; get to the middle, don’t dps till then, don’t get ahead of the tank. We run to the plate, kill everything. One of the dps goes down; I have just enough time to rez before we’re in combat again. We start off up the tunnel but it’s taken long enough there are a lot on the bear. Since this alt only has 29k hit points in bear form, Reversion stops to kill a few adds. The mage and paladin, however, don’t stop. I sigh as their health bars go down, and then ours go down, and it’s a wipe.

“???” says the mage. “You don’t stop in the tunnel nub”.

“You do if the tank needs to kill the adds,” Reversion points out.

“You fail as a tank. L2P nub.” And he quits party, just like that.

Needless to say we finished the tunnel and the boss fight without any trouble at all.

I think the problem is that for a lot of people, unless you’ve played a role it’s hard to tell the difference between “bad” and “undergeared”. You can tell good geared players easily. You can tell bad ungeared players really easily. You can even tell bad geared players – they’re the ones with a 6k gearscore and 2k dps. But it’s hard sometimes to tell if a player is bad, or just lightly geared. If you wipe on hard fights, sometimes it’s just because you’re short on health. I’ll point out that Reversion’s second bear is better geared than his primary bear was the first few times we ran H POS; gear inflation is insane these days.  But the mage wasn’t willing to stick around to see which was the case. We’d deviated from his knowledge of “how you do the tunnel”; he couldn’t see that the reason why was a good one, so he left.

Still, who’s the bigger idiot, the tank who stops or the mage who keeps going?

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This weekend it was time for some BC dungeon pugs with my disc priest and Reversion’s warrior. Thursday afternoon I had run around and gotten us attuned for Old Hillsbrad so we tried queuing specifically for that and got a party right away, to our pleasant surprise.  There was a paladin, a hunter, and a shadow priest. Reversion and I hopped on the dragon, the shadow priest right behind us, and took off. As we start in on the first guards at the gate the hunter says “We can’t make the dragon work”. So we tell them to get a new pack of bombs first and they make their way to us. I glance at the paladin and hunter – same server, different guilds, but I was betting they were friends or relatives in RL. Sometimes you can get that vibe.

We start clearing stuff, I ask the shadow priest for some tips on a face-melt rotation (thanks! It worked, I killed quest mobs most painfully) and then I notice something odd. When we’re fighting, Reversion is the only one in melee. The hunter and priest are staying back, as they should, but so is the paladin. And he’s… casting… Exorcism?

Yes, we had just encountered the melee hunter’s opposite number; the ranged Ret pally.

I let it slide. He’d occasionally run in and consecrate, and he seemed a bit awkward at the game. When we made it to the keep to get Thrall, he could not find the basement and the hunter reminded us that he wasn’t there yet before starting the escort phase; I was more convinced than ever that they were a dad and kid, or something similar. The paladin said nothing the whole run. His exorcisms hit pretty hard, actually, and things died well. So it didn’t matter.

Next there was an Auchenai Crypts run, not notable except that we got three hunters as our dps. It’s bad enough trying to convince one hunter that his pet is growling; trying to track down and identify which two out of three are doing it, especially when two are white corehounds, is just not fun.

That was Friday; Saturday morning we queued up and got Steam Vaults. I was thrilled; I’ve been in there perhaps twice before. It’s great fun running instances you don’t really know. We got a mage, a DK, and a hunter. We fought our way to the gnome mekgineer boss – then were stumped. Where was the other boss we had to kill? We backtracked and started clearing. Suddenly the mage said “I was right we just need a key” and takes off for the other side of the instance where the locked door is that the final boss is waiting behind. We ignore him since Reversion has already said he’s pretty sure we need to kill the boss over up the ramp from where we are.

“Guys I gtg” the DK says suddenly, and leaves. The mage follows suit without a word, and we queue for dps. We finish clearing trash and we’re still waiting, having found the naga lady boss and her elemental pets.

After six or so minutes in the queue we agree we have nothing to lose by trying, so we start in three man and wipe. No problem; I identify two things I did wrong, we note boss mechanics and discuss strategy as we run back. Reversion is explaining to the hunter how he wants to have the hunter use Distracting Shot and freeze trap one of the adds on one side of the room. As we’re plotting strategy we get just a tiny bit too close to the boss – oops. The hunter goes down fast, Reversion and I try until I get silenced, and we wipe again.

Back again, and we’re ready to try. Reversion charges in. The hunter pulls out an add, but it resists the trap. Reversion taunts it back, and then the hunter pulls it out again. They ping pong it for a few rounds as they’re dpsing down the other add. For an ad-hoc strategy it works great. They kill the first add then focus on the second one. I’m healing away – she keeps silencing me so I have to play catch up rather than dps – and then suddenly I notice my combat text: “Berrysnatcher has died”.

Berrysnatcher? Is that the hunter’s pet? Nope! In the middle of the fight we’d received our two new dps friends, a rogue and a shaman, who commendably had run straight into the fight and gotten creamed. Vuhdo, like most raid frame addons, can’t update during combat and I had not even noticed the two new guys were here before they died.

We took the boss down, I rezzed and apologized to the new folks, and we ran to the end boss and killed him down fast. It was great fun – I love strategizing kills rather than just brute forcing them.

And then after lunch and some baby play time (Nomster dinged one yesterday and I guess she’s not really a baby any more!) we queue again and get Sethikk Halls. Ah, yes…

So we get a hunter, a mage, and a dk. The mage is very “go-go-go” but I’m having mana problems so Reversion takes things at my speed. The hunter has to be told twice to take his pet off growl. He’s not very good and he keeps a constant stream of banter going that tells us he’s probably about 12. In fact, after some particularly inane comments, I ask him if he’s twelve and he eventually after some “lol” and “guess”  says he’s 11. Well, we’re warned.

We get all the way to the end and on the final boss wipe; I got polymorphed and couldn’t get around the pillar in time to avoid the arcane explosion. The mage says something rude and drops group; the rest of us run back and a nice shaman joins us halfway through. “Oh, that boss,” she says when we explain what happened. “Ugh. But why drop now?” Exactly my thought. I share the instance quests with her even though she can’t complete them since we’ve killed a boss she needs, but now she’s got them, and she thanks me. We drop the boss. The hunter dies; I don’t think he understands the need to hide behind the pillars even though we told him so. Reversion’s been whispering with the shaman, who wants to know if we’ll re-queue with her once the others drop. We agree and wait. The dk drops – and the hunter starts popping up the “requeue” screen. We decline and decline and decline. “Come on pick a role” he says. “You’re not very good at taking hints are you?” I ask. Finally, since we’re not getting rid of him, we take the queue.

Of course the last slot is a dk. He sets out immediately proving that he is less mature than the hunter; death gripping mobs to himself, being a jerk in chat, and finally bragging “Wow! I’m getting 1k death strikes!” which makes us all notice that his damage is, in fact, abyssmal. We point this out – he’s doing 125 dps. The idiot hunter is managing close to 500 – and he gets abusive, so we kick him.

His replacement is a paladin. A paladin who apparently thinks he is the tank. “Go go go” he says. I explain again that Reversion is catering to my mana. He doesn’t think much of this. He keeps over-pulling, grabbing other groups – and finally he runs into a room, aggros everything, I am sitting and drinking and we just decide to let him die. We end up wiping since he pulled three groups and didn’t kill anything before he died and on the way back from the graveyard he starts giving me crap about “you need to say something if you’re afk”.

I explain that I was not afk, I just wasn’t putting up  with that sort of behavior, and he tries to vote kick me. Reversion laughs at him and says “good luck with that, since I’m married to her, no way”. Apparently he tried again several times and then he tried to kick Reversion, with the same luck.

Unfortunately since we kicked the dk, we cannot kick this idiot, so I tell the shaman not to heal when he does his nonsense. Sure enough when we get back he tries it again. We ignore him, Reversion tanks the mobs he was planning to pull, I heal people who aren’t the paladin, the paladin dies, we clean up, and we leave him lying dead on the floor and head in to kill the boss.

The guy didn’t bother releasing. Why do that when you can pile invective on peoples’ heads? I guess low level instances are srs bznz and that my job as the healer is to heal people regardless of whether they are doing their job or trying to get me killed. Also I guess things like “doing what the tank says” or “paying attention to healer mana” are overrated.

Anyway, great weekend. I learned a valuable lesson about the difference between jerkwad behavior and “I’m 11″ behavior. I’ll put up with 11 year olds but people who are just annoying and mean get to suffer.

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The secret to getting the most out of leveling with someone else is in understanding exactly what your class brings to the duo. For a pure dps class, one with no pet and the survivability of a cloth-wearing snowball in hell, the mage can be a powerful addition to a pair.

First, the obvious utility spells. Conjured food and water mean you can avoid spending gold on these. Time between fights is reduced when you can recharge your mana-batteries quickly and easily. The portals you won’t get until 40, at which point you can get from Kalimdor to the Eastern Kingdoms a lot faster than a group with no mage, making Fedex quests a breeze. Dampen and Amplify Magic are almost totally useless spells – unless you’re leveling with a warrior and receiving no healing anyway, in which case reducing the magical damage you might take is great. And Feather Fall is situationally useful.

Second, crowd control. These days nobody uses it at high levels but you can and should use it as you level up. Convince your partner to let you sheep things at the start of a pull. Frost nova and blink away from mobs. Use frost bolts to slow things down. You’re more likely to survive when one of the six gnolls that want your spleen is suddenly a fluffy sheep and the rest are struggling across frozen ground while pelted with shards of ice.

Third, sheer firepower. It’s hard to match a mage for damage as you’re leveling up, and if you’re leveling with someone specced into healing especially you’re going to be doing the lion’s share of the killing. Just remember that especially in the first fifteen levels you are going to pull aggro off your partner even if you’re teamed up with a tank class, and be ready for it.

Tips for Leveling

First, do not spec Arcane. Arcane is not viable until you get Arcane Blast at level 64. Your choices are to level Fire or Frost. A mage who is planning to do a lot of soloing should level Frost. This is also a good spec if you are leveling with a healer or with some other squishy dps class. You can slow things down and kite them while taking little damage yourself.

However, if you’re leveling with a tanky class, you might spec Fire instead. Let your meat shield pick up aggro while you lob balls of fire at the kobolds’ heads. There are plenty of sites out there with leveling mage builds and I won’t replicate that here, but here’s a fire and here’s a frost that are pretty cookie cutter.

You and Your Partner

If you are paired with a warrior, hunter, enhancement shaman, ret paladin (at early levels, or prot later) or feral druid: Spec fire, let your partner or partner’s pet keep aggro on the mobs. Kill things. Don’t pull aggro; cast fireballs and pyroblasts at one mob as a time as long as the tank isn’t dying. This can work with a warlock with a voidwalker out too but warlocks and mages are bad pairs. One second you’re questing, the next second you’ve destroyed two or three countries and your hair is missing.

If you are paired with a priest, balance/resto druid, some sort of shaman that isn’t enhancement (I don’t think they’re doing it right. Unless she’s a resto shaman and you’re doing a lot of LFD), holy pally, or rogue: Spec frost. Plan your pulls carefully. Sheep things, then use frost nova to trap them, empowered blizzard to slow them. Kite ‘em, shoot frostbolts, don’t let them near your partner if he’s healing you.

Either way, things are now dead. Sit down and have some conjured bread and water. Steal the kobold’s candle. Profit.

Other things to consider: Try to get your partner to role a class that does not wear cloth. If you’re teamed with a warlock or shadow priest, you’ll be fighting over gear. You aren’t likely to find a wand until level 15 or so, unless you get lucky, so you might have an enchanter make you a low level wand (the mats are pretty darn cheap). You’ll want a wand; at low levels your mana can disappear fast and leave you no way to kill the mostly-burned-to-death boar that suddenly isn’t dying. Do a little research as you level up to learn real details; this is supposed to give you a feel for the flavor and fun that a mage brings to a pair.

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Did a lot of different stuff in WoW this weekend, mostly on my 60 Draeni priest and my 25 Tauren shaman. Healing on both, even though the shaman is supposedly leveling Enhancement. More on her another time, this is about Hellfire and damnation. Or death knights, anyway.

Anyone who’s run dungeons in the low 60s level range know how many dks seem to be lurking there just waiting for you. I needed two levels on Verdandi, the priest, to catch up to Reversion’s warrior gnome so I queued her up and got Hellfire Ramparts. The good news is that you have a pretty fast queue as a healer; all the dks waiting to be healed make things snappy.

This group had two dks, a mage, and a balance druid. DK tank starts out by overpulling and I heal like crazy, then sit and drink (this group was very good about letting me drink and the mage thoughtfully made me water that was better than the stuff my still 59 priest was forced to use). Meanwhile I checked the dk tank… level 59, wearing the starter gear, all the points in frost, in frost presence. I mentioned that if he put a couple points in the other trees he could get really nice talents that would make him a little less fragile. No response.

Another pull and we barely survive, thanks to the druid going bear and growling things off the mage and the dps dk tanking two creatures.  We asked why the tank wasn’t using Death and Decay. “Dont have it”, he said, and I later looked up and saw that you train it at level 60. Which means he was trying to keep aggro with… not much of anything for tools.

The next pull we wipe. We run back in, I rez the dps dk who has been making suggestions to the tank dk. The mage has been complaining about how bad dk tanks are at this level and how you should level a warrior or paladin as a tank first, not switch right from hunter.  It probably annoyed the tank dk but since he said nothing, I don’t know.

We wipe again, and again, and we kick the tank. Sorry, maybe you didn’t have all the tools yet but that’s a good reason not to queue as a tank. The other dk offers to try tanking for a while and we get a rogue. All goes well up to the first boss. We down him – and then the rogue stealths forward and manages to pull three packs of mobs. We wipe, the rogue drops group. Now we get another dk, this one level 64 when the rest of us are barely 60, so we ask him to tank since our tank dk can’t hold threat off him. He launches into a lecture to our dk about not queueing as tank if you’re not willing to tank – we cut him off with agreement but add a “Dude, you have no clue what we’ve been through”. We finish the place off and drop group with relief.

Now Reversion gets on and will tank for me, we get Hellfire again and this time a dps dk of the “Death Grip is leet funz!” type. First four pulls he grips a mob out of the pack to him and stands there and dpses it. Reversion gives him the “You yank it you tank it” warning after pull 1.  The first few times, the other dpsers help him. Then I think they noticed that he wasn’t getting heals and the tank wasn’t taunting it off him, and realized what we were doing. The next time he came close to dying. “I’m not taunting it off you if you Death Grip it over there,” Reversion says, and I add “and I don’t heal anyone who is making the tank’s life harder.”

Oddly, he got the message… and I didn’t even have to let him die. He slipped up once or twice but his health bar going to 30% seemed to keep him on the straight and narrow.

The next three dks we got all knocked our socks off! Every one showed knowledge of when to use DG. They’d pull casters into the melee and let Reversion get them, and one even pulled back a runner that was about to aggro the patrolling boss! We gave each of them kudos. Is there something in the water?

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An encouragement to anyone out there with alts you’re grinding to 80, wondering if you’ll bother gearing up at top level: it really is easy these days.

With Analogue and Invariant things were hard. I had a list of BiS from each dungeon, then each heroic dungeon, then Analogue ventured into Naxx or OS once in a blue moon and sometimes got a drop.  Analogue was pretty well geared up when Triumph badge gear became readily available; it took her very little time to fill the last few slots and since then she’s slowly but steadily been adding gear improvements from Frost badges, ICC drops, whatever happens her way.

Invariant had about half Triumph gear, half lesser, when I got into a GDKP TOC 25 man run with 8k gold and walked out dripping with epics. For whatever reason, everything that dropped was useful to a mage and nobody else was bidding hardly at all. I got literally a half dozen drops plus a pattern for Bejeweled Wizard Bracers that I used as a license to print money for a while.

So then I get little Divergent up to 80, buy her the made chestpiece and start tanking heroics. Wow. She got drops in the top end heroics pretty fast. I put her away for about two weeks and then the last two days got her out again. Quick rundown:

Patch 3.3.3 dropped, and on our server at least crafting mats dropped too. I picked up the stuff and had the Saronite Swordbreaker wrists (plate tank 245 wrists) made, and bought a Titanium Earthguard Chain for a lot cheaper than I’ve seen it before (actually below the cost of the dragon’s eyes, someone was selling low). I then ran normal HoR once and the shield dropped. Yay! Don’t tell some of the alt tanks in my guild who have been grinding that place for weeks only to lose roles to off-specced dps. And I had enough Triumph badges to buy her pants. So that was four upgrades on Wednesday night.

Thursday we did FoS and PoS on heroic. Got a pair of boots out of FoS, closing out one of my weak spots, Ick’s Rotting Thumb trinket, and finally a weapon to take the place of the Lucky Old Sun. That thing was really ugly and I’m glad to drop it. Spent a few hundred gold on enhancements and bam, all of a sudden she could tank raids. Not ICC, but the rest, sure. I’m hoping to get her into the weekly raid as a tank this week, our server has Patchwerk and it should be easy mode.

So yeah, between badges, made gear, and the new top end heroics, gearing up is easy. If you’re not a tank, buy one for fast queue times and go crazy.

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I love heirlooms. They make leveling alts so much more fun, I considered the chest and shoulders mandatory for an alt and a weapon almost mandatory, until we rolled alts over on Argent Dawn to join Single Abstract Noun. Now I know that heirlooms are threatening the game and need nerfing, fast.

Why do I say that? It’s not the XP boost, actually; I miss it dreadfully but I can live with the only-slightly-less breakneck pace of leveling that we have these days. Let me relate a little story first.

Analogue the Druid went into Deadmines with three others from SAN; Reversion the Rogue, and a warlock and druid. The other druid wanted to heal so in the interest of a fast queue, I signed in as a tank. I had never bear tanked before (except dropping into bear to growl quest mobs off other people) but I’m a pretty good tank these days, so I didn’t think it would be too hard.

As expected, we wiped a lot; we were low level for the instance and lost three random dpsers before we finally decided to just to finish 4 man. I kept aggro, mostly, things died, mostly, I stayed alive, mostly. All four of us were on a pretty similar level for gear and power, and we had fun. It ended with most of us dead, Van Cleef dead, and too many respawns to run back for his head, but oh well.

After that I got on Annalogue the Paladin, who like Analogue the Druid was 17, and queued up to tank. The first run was a Ragefire Chasm ten minute affair that left a bad taste in my mouth due to a jerk of a hunter who tried to wipe us twice and then took the tank sword from the boss, so I queued again and got Wailing Caverns and the Twinks of Doom.

A Rogue and a Priest (the healer) both four levels higher than me and wearing at least five heirlooms each (priest had both trinkets, rogue had two daggers). And so began my hour and a half of being useless.

It didn’t help that I don’t know that instance; I had to let the priest take the lead. But even when it came to fights, I could not hold or get aggo. The rogue did – literally – close to three times as much damage as I did. I didn’t have any aoes yet, which was bad enough, but the priest kept running over and aggroing more groups and bringing them to us to kill. And I couldn’t call the pair out over this behavior, because their gear allowed them to act with impunity. The healer stopped to drink twice. We wiped once, when someone else aggroed a group and we got too many sleeps cast on the healer. The rogue ended up doing over 50% of the overall damage. I relegated myself to keeping whatever mobs he wasn’t killing off the healer, occasionally taunting off him just to keep my hand in.

If I didn’t already have a max level paladin it would have been even worse. Those two could probably have two-manned the instance alone, and they knew it, and they let us know they knew it. The rest of us, dressed in quest rewards and random drops, were peons to their royalty.

If we could mail heirlooms across servers, I wouldn’t have had that problem, but what about brand new players, or anyone without a max level character to grind badges on? I don’t even remember what the other two players in that pug were, because they mattered so little. We were frustrated, useless, and bored. It’s not a good thing.

Blizzard needs to reduce the stats on heirlooms a lot. They should be fractionally better than the gear you’d naturally have at that level, not 3 times as good. Doing 10% more damage than anyone else? Fine. Doing triple damage? Not so good.

I will add that the level ranges for those dungeons doesn’t help; I was 17 and one of the other guys there was, I think, 25; hard to keep aggro off him at the best of times. But even so, it was the level 21 rogue in heirlooms that made life impossible for me.

This is not QQ; this is to point out a flaw that will only get worse as the game ages more. If Blizzard has given up on getting real new subscriptions, then it’s fine. Otherwise I think heirlooms may become a serious problem..

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As mentioned previously, Reversion and I have rolled alts on Argent Dawn to be part of Single Abstract Noun, the blogger guild. I started a druid, and he started a gnome rogue, and as we levelled 1-10 in separate zones, we  started having similar complaints.

“Where’s the quests? I’m level 6 and all the mobs are level 8.”

“I know I need to go here next, but there’s no quest telling me that.”

“All the quest stuff is filling up my one bag”

“Wow, you die easy without heirlooms.”

It had been a while since we had levelled without heirlooms, or not together, or not as draeni, and while it was not really difficult, it got us talking. So this morning I rolled a draeni paladin and compared the experiences I had with my night elf druid and my draeni paladin.

Parameters:

Classes I know well

No heirlooms, no help beyond my addons (no quest help beside the built in quest helper)

Same level range

Darnassus versus Azuremyst Isle

Experience:

Both zones start off with a “kill some of these critters” quest. Nice and easy – the critters are right there and Blizzard puts your abilities right on the action bar. After that you get a few more quests. I found the Azuremyst quests very nicely sequence, where I could complete all the quests I could pick up at the same time. On the other hand, the Darnassus quests often had me covering the same ground three or more times.

Equipment: in the first five levels, my draeni quests gave me a four slot bag and a fishing pole. I know they’ve increased the drop rate on small bags, and in fact both my alts have full sets of 6 slot bags, but awarding one as a quest reward is a nice touch, and the fishing pole was awesome.

Where to go next:  Azuremyst led me by the hand. Darnassus took figuring out.

Mobs: All critters in the 1-5 area are now yellow.  The first red mob for my draeni was at the fishing quest when a murloc popped out! I could see a complete newbiew being very surprised by this. Darnassus has several spots where the mob respawn rate seemed bugged and I was hard pressed to get out.

The Cave: All the 1-10 zones seem to have one or two cave complexes where you’ll go in, kill a named guy,  and come out. In Darnassus you have a cave full of demons where you kill a guy who turns into a cat, and a barrow where you wander around for eight years looking for four relics. In Azuremyst you have  a  cave full of nagas where you kill the boss, and a cave full of furbolgs where you kill the named boss, 9 others, and the Kraken hound. The Azuremyst versions were considerably easier and less frustrating. I never did finish the Darnassus version.

Quest rewards: About the same, slightly better (and better named!) gear in Azuremyst

Professions: Most professions could be learned at Azure Watch. About the same for the Darnassus hub, There’s no ore in Darnassus of course, while you can learn anything at Azure Watch.

Summing up:  a brand new player is going to have a much easier time in the draeni area compared to old world zones. I had some guild members talk about Azuremyst being “hand holding” or “spoonfeeding” and they’re right, but I think Blizzard has realized just how many players come to the game with NO previous MMO experience, heck, often no game experience at all. Before WoW, my major game experience was in Civ II. Not hardly the same. I’d have had a much easier time if the draeni area had been there.

In fact I think they need to make the first ten levels even more user friendly. If you’re still getting used to cameras, looting, and using your abilities, there are a number of things that can be annoying. Even experienced players can miss things when they roll a new class. For instance, we ran with a player last night who didn’t have her paladin res; there’s a quest you have to do at 12 to get it, and if you don’t know that, it’s easy to miss the quest.

After I get to 20 on both alts, I’m going to come back and finish comparing the two sequences. I don’t think it’s as drastic but I do have some really nasty things to say about Loch Modan, designers, and getting eaten by many many mobs at once.

(My two alts are Analogue the druid, and Annalogue the paladin, both on Argent Dawn-US)

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Need More Alts!

Or something. Like my last brief post, Rev and I rolled on Argent Dawn (US) to join Single Abstract Noun and after some pondering, I rolled a druid. I’ve levelled enough classes since my druid that it’s really interesting to be a lowbie druid again. I’m managing some stuff I could never have done the first time because I know what my abilities do, cold.

Rev and I did our first ten levels separate; he rolled a gnome rogue and I was in night elf land, and we both discovered that those zones have some really bad cases where you just aren’t sure where to be questing next; you’re level 7 and all the quest mobs are level 10 and want to eat your brain. And then you randomly wander across some dude on the mountain with a quest to kill a yeti in a cave. Our recent alts have either been run as pairs, where you don’t notice that it’s sort of hard to level a new character when the mobs are three levels higher than you and you only have two abilities, or we were in the draeni zone which is far better organized and laid out. Hopefully Blizz will clean up the early leveling experience even more in Cataclysm, because I can see why some people give up after five levels.

We’ve grabbed gather professions and I have a goal of getting all riding skills on time and being able to buy dual spec at the point where I can actually use it, without having to spend hardly any time grinding.  I’m personally convinced that buying gold is stupid and absolutely unnecessary and I want to demonstrate it yet again. We have no high level alts on this server. I have already accepted one “help” though; the guild’s bank vault had a number of 6 and 8 slot bags there for new members to take. Since they don’t soulbind, you can put them back as soon as you’ve got better ones, and I’ve already picked up one random pouch to add back, but it makes carrying stacks of herbs and fur much easier.

Haven’t seen any RP yet but I have been told to avoid Goldshire in the evenings…

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