Saturday, May 11, 2013

Rumbling along in Mists of Pandaria

I have been playing on and off, as I usually do.  I played very little in February and March, and started up again in April.  My hunter team is level 90, and my warlocks hit 90 this afternoon.  I have been questing in the world and nothing else.  My hope is to have at least three teams to 90 before the next expansion hits, and perhaps more than that.  The third team will be my mages, which are level 85.  Then perhaps my team of shaman, although their levels are scattered somewhat.  86, 86, 85, 78... and 7.  I had originally grouped a shaman with each of the other teams to provide healing, but for my purposes that's pretty much unnecessary, so I figured I'd start building a shaman team.

I do have some other teams that are low level and can run dungeons pretty effectively, and I may work on those as well.  One team has a paladin and four shaman, but I'm not sure I want to level an additional shaman on each account, so I may nuke it.  Another has a paladin and four priests, which seems like a good challenge because the priests are so unfamiliar to me.  The third team is a level 87 paladin and four level 62 death knights.  I may look to level a paladin to 62; otherwise I'll be spending too much time powerleveling the DKs, and that doesn't seem very enticing.

Blizzard continues to make it very easy to accumulate gold.  Getting a team from 85-90 through quests will earn them around 22,000 to 23,000 gold in quest rewards and junk sold to merchants.  Subtract the 12,500 required for Pandaria flying, and the team walks away with a net of around 10,000 gold.  This is before they start questing at 90, if they choose to do so.  With the additional gold from that, the sky's the limit.  The guild sits at 95,000 gold now, having hit 107,500 shortly before the warlocks hit 90 and bought their flying skill.  I would expect that when the mages are done, the bank will have more than 105,000.

I leveled the hunters mostly as Beast Master.  It's a pretty easy way to level, as the pets have good amounts of health and very good damage output.  I have been running Marksmanship since they hit 89, because it's nice to watch stuff blow up in one or two global cool-downs.  I don't think I tried Survival this time around.  I have no idea if it's good or not for five-boxing, but I'd assume that it is just fine.

I leveled the warlocks mostly as affliction, using a void lord and four shivarra.  The upsides are numerous, especially the fact that I have three damage spells that can be cast without having to face the enemy (Agony, Corruption, and Unstable Affliction).  Being able to drop fifteen DoTs on a mob within a few seconds without worrying about positioning is convenient!  The DPS rotation is clean and simple and is tailor-made for a /castsequence macro.  I used two macros most of the time.  One would have each warlock cast one of their debuffs (Curse of the Elements, Exhaustion, and Weakness) and send the pet to attack.  The other would use a cast sequence of Agony, Corruption, Unstable Affliction, Haunt (it does direct damage and also increases the damage from the other spells for eight seconds), Malefic Grasp (a channeled spell that does damage every second and increases the damage of the other spells for four seconds), and finally Drain Soul. Drain Soul, like Malefic Grasp, is a channeled spell that does damage.  If the target's health is under 20%, Drain Soul does double its normal damage and doubles the damage of your DoTs.

The main downside is that the shivarra can do a lot of damage to a mob at the start of a fight.  If the mob dies before your DoTs get a chance to do any damage, you don't get credit for the kill.  This stopped being an issue once the team was level 88 and moved on to tougher creatures with enough health that they didn't keel over from the opening pet salvo.  Affliction was a bit problematic when dealing with rare and elite world mobs, especially those that required the group to move a lot.

I switched to the Demonology spec around level 89 and found it much more effective, particularly against those rare/elite mobs.  There was one in the Dread Wastes who walks around with several "normal" mobs, and he wiped my team pretty easily as affliction, but died almost as quickly when I used demonology spec.  The "extra" pet you get from that spec is quite tough and has a very effective spinning AOE ability that is perfect for large groups.  They are also quite resilient.  There was another elite in that zone, a large worm that drops a quest item.  He wiped the affliction-spec team after a tough fight, but I clobbered him as demonology spec.  It is almost too effective; I almost never use the transformation ability that makes the warlocks much more formidable for short periods of time.

And so next up are the mages.  I am anxious to get them started, though I may wait and see how long it will be until patch 5.3 goes live.  Blizzard is planning to reduce the amount of experience required to get from 85 to 90 by a staggering 33%!

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