Monday, May 26, 2008

Ding 57, 58... hello Outland!

I did some testing and went back to a tried-and-true formula in order to finish up the Scholomance farming. The elemental shaman as a level 70 tank for the mid-50s group worked pretty well, though it slowed the pace even more than normal, which is already pretty slow. It was enough to get them to level 57, though, and that was fine. Then I changed the talents for the paladin to Protection and the priest to Shadow, in the hopes of trying out the conventional setup I plan to use in Outland instances. But that didn't work, because if I limited the shaman to healing, the overall DPS was slow enough that his heals would eventually generate too much aggro. Using him to provide DPS led to the same problem, he would take aggro from the paladin, this time very quickly.

So I decided to spec my shaman back to enhancement long enough to grind out to level 58. Thanks to recent changes, the shaman is dual-wielding two Wicked Edge of the Planes. With the group at full rested experience for the entire level, it took a full clear of Scholomance and another room or two of respawns to get them to level 58. From there, I got them over to the Swamp of Sorrows and headed to the Dark Portal. There I got the starter quest that takes them through the portal and into Hellfire Peninsula. Going through that series of quests generated around 13,000 experience for them. Thanks to the recent changes which lowered the experience requirements for levels 30-to-60, they only need around 165,000 experience to get to level 59. Getting nearly 10% of a level simply for clicking on a few NPCs is pretty nice.

Having made it to Thrallmar, I took the three quests that are available there. Monday morning is Memorial Day here, and I was off from work, so I took the opportunity to get up early and see about questing with the group. To be honest, while I am leery of having the group ganked while questing outside, I am generally more concerned with horde characters. I try to keep as low a profile as I can in order to reduce the amount of interaction with gawkers and idiots. Thankfully, my experiences on Bonechewer have been pretty positive overall. As I was questing, one person rode up and watched us for a moment before moving on. The only other horde I saw out there was apparently dual-boxing as well, and we stayed out of each others' way without a word.

I completed three quests, and the group has a couple of upgrades as well as being nearly halfway through level 58. The Bonechewer Blood quest will prove to be a bit of a grind, but the upgrades will be useful for the characters and it isn't a difficult quest. The mobs you need to kill are very close to Thrallmar and they respawn quickly. Collection quests are the bane of multiboxers, since the number of items to collect is multiplied by the number of accounts. In my case, I am not trying to collect 12 Bonechewer Blood-- I'm trying to collect 48. And the drop rate seems to be about 30-40%. Ugh. Some collection quests are not so bad, such as the quest to collect metal and wood from the ground. There are lots of the items on the ground and the mobs you must kill to get to them are the ones you are killing for the blood quest. Still, it was 64 items to collect...

Other quests, such as this one, are very easy to complete. As long as one character performs the action and the others are within range, they all get credit for it. It was easy to complete and came with some nice rewards for the group. It was on the 'alliance side' of the Path of Glory, but there was only one alliance character there and she appeared to be busy gathering herbs. And of course, quests that require you to kill a specific mob or number of mobs are very easy to complete for the same reason-- each member of the group gets credit for each kill, thus there are no multiples involved. And the faster you can work through a quest, the better. Even with the group bonus and rested exp, the experience from killing non-elite mobs is not very good. But the quest reward exp is very good, and the bonus experience from quests in Outland was increased recently.

However, questing outdoors really isn't the reason that I formed the group. Running instances is what I want to do. My approach to questing with the group will be to find quests that provide rewards that are worthwhile to the group, and skipping the rest. I will probably complete most of the quests in HFP and Zangarmarsh before getting to level 70, since those quests will not provide much of a gold bonus at that point. Otherwise, I will save most of their questing for level 70, so as to reimburse the costs of leveling them this way (primarily, the costs related to their mounts, which will be around 1700 gold each by the time they have their 225 riding skill).

Other than that, I will be running instances as often as possible. I still want to try and run Stratholme with the group in its more traditional setup. But it may simply be easier to whip through the zone behind the shaman instead. With the large bonuses to experience from the early quests in HFP, they will be level 60 very soon and have the gear they need to get started in Hellfire Ramparts, the first Outland instanced zone. At that point I will switch them over to their proper roles, with the priest as Shadow spec and the shaman as a healer, even if it means that progress will be very slow. That's where the fun really begins. :)

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