Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Northrend gives you wings!

At level 77, that is (unless you utilize the new option that allows your flight-capable character to purchase account-bound flying tomes for your alts). The group is level 78 now and using their 150% flying speed mounts now. The change in flight speed for the "slow" flying mount is a welcome one. The slower mount is tolerable for flying from one location to another, unlike the painfully slow 60% increase that you used to get. Most of my gathering characters have the 280% mounts, so I may not bother to get the faster speed training for the group.

It is possible that I will do so anyway, simply because there's little for the group to spend any gold on. Aside from updating spells and abilities, the costs for training flight skills were the last "need" item for them. The guild bank has close to 21,000 gold now, and a few minutes spent at the auction house each day adds between 100 and 750 gold each week. After training their level 77 skills, purchasing the cold weather flying ability, and training for level 78, the group members have between 1,500 and 1,800 gold each. The exception is the shaman, who has around 650 gold, having spent 1,000 to activate her dual-spec ability. Another exception was that I spent something like 200 or 300 gold on heavy borean leather, for reasons I'll explain below. It was probably an unnecessary expense, but it was small enough that I didn't worry about it.

I did this because I decided to run the quest line that begins when you loot a necklace near the Ebon Watch camp in Zul'Drak. Because of the nature of the quests (where you wear a disguise that will periodically drop) and the fact that they're pretty simple (and quick) to complete, I decided I would run it solo with each character. Since they are level 78, the quests are even easier and faster than they would normally be. At level 78 your aggro range is much smaller in that area, and being able to fly also saves you a lot of time. The final reward is a good upgrade for the hunters, and is not easily replaced via outdoors questing. I must admit that the quests are also a lot of fun, especially the ones where you mind-control an NPC and set it against an elite.

Anyway, the initial quest in the line requires killing some mobs the traditional way, and the resto shaman was doing so in customarily slow fashion (or at least, relatively slow compared to the hunters). Since I want to keep open the option of running a multi-shaman group in the future, getting the dual spec for her would have probably happened at some point anyway. And from now on if I want to solo her for any reason, she has an effective DPS spec for doing so, without even needing to swap out any gear.

Thus the group, with the exception of the paladin, has completed the quest line and received their rewards. I may complete the quest line with the paladin next, or wait for a later time, as his current necklace is pretty good for his tanking role. Also, running the quests on the others has brought them much closer to him in terms of experience gained, which means the group will hit their next two levels within a shorter amount of time. That probably shouldn't matter to me, but it bugs me nonetheless. However, I've been taking it a bit easier lately so I'm not sure what I'll do.

I don't think it's burnout, though I did play a lot recently as I made the push from level 75 to level 78. I used the paladin to create several pieces of crafted mail for the hunters. A number of the pieces have resilience on them, which is useless for my group. But they also contain a good amount of agility, intellect, and crit rating. This has allowed the hunters to get into the 3,000+ range in attack power and a bit more than 27% in critical strike rating. By replacing leather armor with mail armor that has intellect, they increased their mana from ~6,100 to just over 10,000. This has provided the group with a nice increase in both burst and sustained DPS. The paladin has also been using crafted tanking gear and is at ~22,000 health and just over 20,000 armor when buffed.

I even ventured to Utgarde Keep and finally completed the quest to down the first boss. This was trivial at the group's level and gear, and the boss died on the first attempt with the loss of one of the hunters, which served as a reminder to polish my healing macros. With my expenses taken care of and just two levels to go, I may start hitting the dungeons more often, mostly to clear up quests. If a usable upgrade also happens to drop, that's great too, but won't likely happen in the lower-level dungeons.

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