Tuesday, January 29, 2008

35, and a peek down the road.

Yes, the group is level 35 now, which means they've earned 10 levels in approximately two weeks. If that pace seems slow, it is. I normally play them every few days, allowing them to accumulate 30-50% rested experience. Levels 33, 34, and 35 were gained over the weekend. Having come close to level 33 entering the weekend, I ran the group through Razorfen Downs. Once they had level 33 under their collective belts, I got the quest to kill the four bosses in the Scarlet Monastery, a quest which provided them with 7200 experience as a reward. Prior to the recent patch that increased quest reward experience while reducing leveling experience amounts, quests in this range typically gave 2500-4000 experience as a reward. Many quests at level 60 used to provide 5000-6500. I will need to keep instance quests in mind as I level the group.

A friend told the guild about his attempts at soloing Scholomance with his level 70 mage. He was able to kill all of the bosses he attempted (which was all of them save for Jandice Barov). This led me to thinking. From the start, I had assumed that I could solo through the pre-40 instances without any problem, and that I'd want to have the rest of the group participate once I reached zones such as Uldaman and Zul'Farrak. But I decided I'd give Scholomance a shot just for the sake of it. There were other considerations, as well. My shaman is an enchanter, and Large Brilliant Shards are a nice way to make (or spend!) gold. To make a long story short, my shaman had no problem clearing to Rattlegore, and the boss went down on a second attempt very easily.

Therefore, it's possible that I will not have to get the group involved at all until the level 58-60 dungeons (Stratholme, Scholomance, Dire Maul), and even then they will only be required to a limited degree. I would mostly need the heals from the paladin and priest, since my DPS is high enough to down the level 61+ bosses pretty quickly. Many of them have around 30,000 hit points and won't be able to do enough damage to me to make me concerned, what with two healers behind me to split the aggro.

In any event, they are level 35. My plan is to run the Scarlet Monastery (with the exception of the graveyard, which is lower level and populated primarily by non-elites) and Razorfen Downs until the group is level 40. At this point I will get them mounts, and run them to a number of flight paths, including the ones at Tanaris, the Badlands, and the Swamp of Sorrows. Being on a PvP server, getting to those flight paths can be a painful experience (well, the latter two anyway, Tanaris won't be bad). The faster I can get to them, the better.

Once there, I will have Uldaman, Zul'Farrak, and the Temple of Atal'Hakkar (ie, the Sunken Temple) within easy reach. I will look for any related quests, and start clearing a path through those zones. I am actually eager to head to Uldaman; my past experiences there as I was leveling up weren't all that pleasant (with server instability at the time being a major culprit) and so I was only able to reach the final boss two times, perhaps three. The Sunken Temple may present some interesting challenges. Having my level 70 shaman get mind-controlled could be very very bad for the rest of the group...

Monday, January 14, 2008


I had decided on my leveling path when I saw a forum post (on the WoW General Forum) about a paladin who had been power-leveled by a friend. As I had not really done any long range planning, it hadn't occurred to me to do anything aside from take their leveling path at face value. So I dutifully slogged my way through Razorfen Kraul from levels 20-24 and intended to get to 25 there before moving on to the Scarlet Monastery. Then I happened to do a quick check and realized that you can zone into SM at level 20! This changes things...

Mind you, RFK is not a bad instance to grind out with my small group, but the Scarlet Monastery provides a change of pace and a nice dash of variety. It has four separate wings, and each one is short and linear. And since the group can zone into all of the wings, the experience is excellent. The graveyard is the poorest in this regard since many of the mobs are non-elite. But it's also a very short and very quick clear. The relatively poor exp, small selection of useful loot drops and fast respawn on trash makes it likely that I will not spend much time in there. But there are three other wings.

A full clear of the four wings and a second run through the library got the team to level 25 and about 30% shy of level 26. I will run SM a few more times and then give Razorfen Downs a shot just to mix things up, and perhaps even run Blackfathom Deeps once or twice. BFD is in contested territory and the instance portal is inside a winding and confusing series of tunnels, so I am not sure it's worth the potential headaches just for a quick run or two. RFD may give me the opportunity to experiment with involving the whole group in the fights. But I get the feeling that I won't really have anything to worry about until the group is in the low 50s.

I will try to remember to get some screenshots of the team. I would also FRAPS a movie or two but I think I'll wait until I can get the entire team involved before doing that. Otherwise it's just a video of a level 70 enhance shaman plowing through instanced zones that are 30-40 levels lower than he is.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

A new instance, the same old plan.

The crew is level 21 now. Once they got to level 20 I left SFK and WC behind and zoned into Razorfen Kraul, a large and relatively linear instance with small groups of mobs and a handful of bosses. My shaman can still tear through the zone quickly and safely, and I expect this to be the case for a while. The downside to this is that my characters do not get to increase their weapon or defense skills, but this is mostly a concern for the paladin. Once we get to the point where I will have him tanking, I'll probably need to spend some time getting his skills raised to a point where they're useful. But that is still a ways off.

One nice thing with a group this diverse is the various means of debuff removal and crowd-control available. The shaman, paladin, and priest can remove poison and disease. The priest can remove magic effects. The mage can remove curses. And between the priest, mage, and warlock, I can crowd control beasts, humanoids, demons, elementals, and undead.

Point-blank AE abilities will probably be of limited use, and targeted AEs even less so, since I have to go to each window individually with the mouse. I'm still working on macros and am a long way from having a finalized and effective set of them. The hope is to be able to bind each classes' macros to a specific set of keys that allow some synergy. The ideal setup will allow the group to focus DPS on each target in turn, while the paladin keeps the mobs occupied and the healers provide enough healing to keep aggro manageable.

Another area where I will have to learn as I go is talent points. Talent specs that work for a solo character, or for a character in a group/raid, may not be as useful for a class that is being run as part of a multi-box setup. And since they're not really doing anything but standing still and soaking up experience, the expenditure of talent points right now isn't guided by anything aside from what I think may be useful in the future. My paladin has his points in the Protection tree, since I intend for him to serve as the group's tank in the future. Plus for now, the Blessing of Kings buff is very useful for the shaman. The others have points invested primarily in trees that promote DPS, with a focus on any talents that allow their spells to stun a target (to make up for the limited mobility of the group and make it easier for the tank to reacquire mobs that switch targets due to aggro changes). I figure that once they get to 50 or 60 I'll have a better idea of how to spec them for my particular needs.

Getting to level 25 in RFK looks as if it will require six or seven runs...