Sunday, April 06, 2008

Ding 52 and... oh, my!

The team hit levels 51 and 52 this weekend. I ran two full Scholomance clears sandwiched around a clear of Dire Maul east. I managed to FRAPS the fight against Zevrim Thornhoof and will try to have a video available at some point**. The second attempt was actually funnier than the first one, because for some reason the searing totem was not destroyed this time, and continued blazing away at Zevrim from the sacrificial altar!

The highlight of the second Scholomance trip was easily the final boss kill. I had actually considered not bothering to clear the final room because the team had already hit level 52, was out of rested experience, and I wasn't particularly interested in killing the last eight bosses. But I figured it would be a shot at loot for the team, so I went ahead with it. By the way, you know those set pieces that drop only in Scholomance? There are five piece sets with set bonuses for most classes in there, and for their time they were a very nice alternative to the "tier zero" dungeon blues. Most of the mini-bosses in Gandling's area can drop a piece.

Today I finally got a piece to drop. My warlock was the winner of a Necropile Robe. With what appears to be a very low drop rate on the pieces, I'm not holding my breath for any more. The set bonuses for the Necropile gear are a bit odd, as well. +5 defense rating on a cloth set?* Oh well. But that wasn't the highlight. After dutifully clearing the mini-bosses, Gandling spawned. I ran out to him and killed him with little trouble. My mage was teleported into a room with two level 60 mobs in it, but they were stationed out of aggro range, so when Gandling died I simply had the warlock summon her out, and then turned to the corpse to check for loot.

Darkmaster Gandling dropped the Headmaster's Charge!

So my warlock walked out of Scholomance with a new chest piece AND a new epic staff. I honestly hadn't even considered the possibility of getting any of the rare epic drops, since they drop so infrequently, even after the changes that increased the drop rate. The truth is that I'll probably have replaced it by the time she is level 60 and I am ready to run instances in earnest, but it was a treat nonetheless.

My long term plans (which, as ever, are subject to change) are to get them to 58 via old world instances, then get them to Hellfire Peninsula and have them do the early quests for the gear upgrades. Then I will finish up their leveling to 60 in the old world, possibly trying out the setup that I plan to use in Outland, with the paladin as the primary character and the shaman providing healing and DPS support. Then again, the shaman will probably have his 103 DPS "store bought" weapons by that time, and it would probably be a lot faster to simply have him DPS stuff with the rest of the group in support. But I've got to learn the new setup at some point...

In any event, after they get some gear from the initial Outland quests, I will spend the rest of the time leveling them in Outland instances until they are level 70. At this point, I'll go back and complete outdoors quests with them so that they can start to accumulate the gold that they will need in order to purchase their epic land mounts and their normal flying mounts. While my rogue and shaman have generated enough gold to handle that, I'd rather let the group remain self-sufficient (actually, this setup has been quite profitable).

Eight levels to go, and then the fun really starts...

*footnote-- I should point out that the two-piece bonus is the same for all of the sets (as is the four-piece bonus, +15 to all resists), but that still doesn't make sense. If the three-piece and five-piece bonuses are tailored to the armor type, why not the two-piece bonus? +15 to all resists is somewhat universal, but +5 to defense is useless for any class that isn't tanking mobs most of the time. Ah well, it's mid-50s armor. *shrug*

**Additional footnote-- you can see the Zevrim kill video here.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Ding 50!

With the group so close to 49 I decided that it was time to leap that hurdle and get 50 as well. Earlier in the week I soloed the key to Dire Maul so that I could enter the zone through the side entrance that is very close to Camp Mojache in Feralas. I did a run through Dire Maul East, and it went well (no deaths!). One very funny thing occurred when I engaged Zevrim Thornhoof. One of the things he does when you battle him is to "sacrifice" a random member of your party. The person chosen is teleported onto a small altar in his area, and is rendered immobile while a DoT drains his/her health. In order to deal with this I used a tried-and-true tactic-- I kept the group out of combat range so that he treated me as the only target. This worked, with a twist... when the time came to select a target for his sacrifice, he chose my Searing Totem! The totem was actually teleported onto the altar and destroyed by the first tick of the DoT. The next time I kill him I'll remember to FRAPS it, it was a really funny moment.

The run through Dire Maul got them to 49 and several blocks towards 50. So I went back to Scholomance, where I still intend to do a good amount of experience grinding. There I got them enough experience to ding 50, and then decided to call it a day. I got them their new spells and abilities and left them in Undercity, where they can soak up more rested experience.

I re-did their talents as well, trying to keep in mind their roles in a multi-boxed group. For the time being, I have the paladin and priest spec'ed Holy, allowing them to provide excellent heals as needed. The mage and warlock are spec'ed mostly for damage and group support, or at least what I consider to be those roles. Because I am just leveling them and not actually playing them, there is still very little that I understand about how their classes work. But I've got a crash course coming once they are level 60.

In the meantime, I've learned that I can't dawdle when I am running Scholomance. On the one hand, I have to be careful when I am clearing rooms with large concentrations of mobs, as that can lead to one or more deaths. But I can't go through at my normal pace, which is very lazy and leisurely, as some areas respawn very quickly (Jandice's room, for one). Well, maybe they don't spawn all that quickly, but when I last ran it I was going very slowly and the room respawned shortly after the group hit 50, and I decided that it wasn't worth it to go through another tedious clearing. Ah well, I will clear the place a good half dozen times (at the least!) before I'm done with it...