Archive for the 'alts' Category


Race to the Legendary Cloak, updated again

On October 20, I posted that I had decided to pursue a legendary cloak for an alt, since they had removed the Test of Valor quest.  My concern was that I wouldn’t have enough time to do all the collection quests before WoD.

Here’s how it has gone so far:

October 14-20: started collecting Secrets of the Empire.  Got 6 in the first week through LFR.  I ran all 6 available LFR raids (20 bosses) that can drop the Secrets

October 21-27: got 6 more in my second week of the quest through LFR, giving me 12 out of 20.  Again, I ran all 20 bosses that can drop Secrets.

October 28-November 3: Got the last 7 Secrets that I needed from 16 LFR boss kills.  Did the Forge quest on the Isle of Thunder.  Ran my one remaining LFR raid to try and get some Titan Runestones, but got none.  Tried to use the Premade Raid Finder tool to do some normal-mode raids, but none of the groups I was in killed even a single boss.

November 4-November 10:  After a week of running all 14 LFR bosses that drop Titan Runestones, I had 6.  Then I spent a whole weekend signing up for premade groups to do the raids on Normal.  That was… unsuccessful.  The premade groups were generally awful.  After something like 10 hours of signing up, forming up, replacing people who dropped, etc… I got all of two more Runestones.  I was not able to find a premade group that was coordinated enough to kill Lei Shen.  Out of the 14 bosses I could have killed on Normal, I think I only killed 9 or 10.  I now have 8 Runestones out of 12.

This now leaves me with two nights – Tuesday and Wednesday – to get 4 more Runestones, complete a Celestial’s challenge, kill the four Celestials on Timeless Isle, and then kill Garrosh.  Depending on queue times, that could easily take 5-6 hours over two nights.  I don’t really have that time, so I will have to decide how late I’m going to stay up in order to finish this.  How important is it to get my 3rd cloak?



Two and a half months into the expansion, I finally ran LFR for the first time.  I ran on my resto druid because that is who I am raiding on, currently.  Just did the first three bosses in Mogu’shan Vaults.

It is a cakewalk, but not a total faceroll because a lot of people don’t know the fights.  Our LFR group didn’t explain the fights to anyone.  The tanks just ran up and pulled.  For the first fight, that was not a problem.  Everyone can clearly see stuff not to stand in.  On the second fight, it was a little tougher as people didn’t know what to do when they got the fire debuff.  The third boss actually caused a wipe, as no one knew to go into the spirit realm.

My druid healing is not great these days.  The priest and paladin in the raid totally blew away my healing numbers.  I can’t tell if its me or the class – I’ve heard people saying that druid healers are not too effective right now.

The loot system was disappointing.  On all three fights, all I got was a bag of gold.  I would prefer to see what dropped so I had some sense of closure on the boss.  That’s the way boss fights go – we show up, we do our thing for five minutes, then the boss dies and there is epic loot.  Without the loot at the end, it seems so anticlimactic.

So I got nothing from my run, and I didn’t see what other people got.  This does not inspire me with excitement to go back again.  I guess I will, but not with any real excitement.


Professions covered? Check.

I got my sixth toon to the level cap this weekend.  I really had no desire to level through Outland, Northrend, and Cataclysm zones again.  I did it because I needed one more toon to complete my set of tradeskills.

Now I have these toons:

  • 85 rogue (main) – skinning, leatherworking
  • 85 priest – herbalism, tailoring
  • 85 paladin – mining, engineering
  • 85 rogue – jewelcrafting, alchemy
  • 85 mage – inscription, enchanting
  • 85 druid – mining, blacksmithing

Blacksmithing is the last one I was missing.  At the moment, I might be able to scratch out some profit on belt buckles, but I don’t expect much in the tail end of Cataclysm.  Since the main focus of my playtime is now goldmaking, this puts me in a position to take advantage of whatever markets open up when Pandaria comes out.

As a side note, I leveled my druid almost entirely as a healer with short queues in LFG.  I found druid healing to be more fun than priest healing.  Most of my alts are just bank/crafting toons that never leave Stormwind.  However, I do think I’ll actually play the resto druid and get it geared.


raid tank?

My protection paladin so rarely gets called into service.  I keep him in reserve in case the guild needs a tank for a raid, but I don’t try to make him a primary tank.

Why?  Laziness, I suppose.  I learn all the fights from a dps perspective on my rogue.  Its completely different from a tank perspective – especially if you have to mark targets and determine a kill order as a part of tanking.  Its not that I can’t do that.  I just have a long-time habit of focusing on the dps side of things.

Still, my tank toon has managed a few accomplishments.  I tanked a significant portion of Ulduar back in the day when that was current.  I tanked Arthas in our first ever Lich King kill.  In Wrath tanking was easy.  Gear flowed like water and threat was a non-issue.  It was easy to gear up with badges and farm content.

Not so in Cataclysm.  Gear does not fall into your lap as rapidly.  Due to my aversion to tanking heroics  I have not accumulated enough Valor or Justice points to be of use.  And yet, I need this character to be ready in a pinch if the guild is short on tanks.

So I geared through the Auction House.  Ring, both trinkets, gloves, epic boots, epic belt, relic, cloak, sword, and neck were all BoE items purchased from the AH.  My last few pieces were filled in by quest items, and I made my helm with engineering.  That investment (about 25k or so gold) got me to a 340-ish item level… good enough to start raiding.

Admittedly, I am a bit squishy for a raid tank.  My raid-buffed health is 152k – good, but not great.  I’m not so concerned about that.  What concerns me is that I have not tanked a whole bunch since Cataclysm started, so the abilities have yet to become second nature.

This week we brought a new raid group into Bastion of Twilight.  One of our tanks bailed, so I stepped in on Derence.  I got the job of tanking the drakes (Nether Scion and Slate Dragon), along with tank swaps on Halfus due to the stacking Malevolent Strikes debuff.  (Its not the first time I have tanked this raid, but this time was harder due to the drake combination)

Despite my relative lack of practice, everything just clicked for me.  I managed to use every cooldown in the paladin’s toolkit to stay alive.  The timing was great.  Every time my health dropped to 15% or less, I had a damage-reduction ability that was available just in the nick of time.  I even threw out Lay on Hands on a dps when the raid damage was making things dicey.

My healers probably don’t feel as good about it as I do, since they had the job of propping up my yo-yoing health bar.  Still, I’m really happy with the results.  Tanking in Cataclysm is more challenging than it was in Wrath, and it was an enjoyable experience.  My cooldowns were not a luxury, but were a necessary part of survival, so it was important that I knew when and how to use them.  (answer:  whenever they are available!)

Most importantly, I got to help the guild by filling that important role.  If I hadn’t been willing to step up to the plate, the raid would have been canceled and a whole group would have lost the change for their first raid boss kill.

And the best part is that I didn’t have to slog through heroics to get there.  It makes me glad that I pulled in all that profit on inscription back in the good old days.

At my gear level there are limits to how far I can go as an emergency tank.  I could certainly hold my own through Magmaw and Omnitron, but I don’t know if I could get much farther than that without some more gear upgrades.  And without tanking raids my gear upgrades are limited.  Time to check the auction house again…


Using the LFD to level part 2 – the home stretch

I made an earlier post detailing my project to level using only the LFD system. Its gone well up to this week.  However, I’m now concerned that I won’t have the persistence to finish.

What changed?  Two things, and I’m not sure if they are related.

  1. I hit level 70 and am now queueing in Wrath instances
  2. Queue times have spiked up to 30-40 minutes

Now that I’ve reached current content in Wrath, the amount of XP it takes to level has jumped.  To get from level 69-70 took a little over 700k XP.  To get from level 70-71 takes over 1.5 million.  Twice as much XP means twice as many instance runs needed to level.

Yesterday I did a clear of UK, and it earned me 12% of a level.  At that rate I would need around 8-9 instance runs to gain a level, compared to 3-4 runs per level previously.

This was not unexpected, as the XP needed to level is not a secret.  However, in the past few days I have seen the queue time go from 15-20 minutes up to 30-40 minutes. Why has this happened?  Are there fewer players in the 70-72 range?  Or has this happened across all levels?  I’m hearing from people that queue times are high all over.

If I need 8 instance runs to level, and each run involves waiting 30 minutes in queue, that is four hours of downtime sitting in Stormwind doing nothing just to get one level.  Whew… what a great way to make use of my $15 per month.

The obvious solution is that I should go out and quest during the downtime.  That’s not the point of this project, though.  If I give in and quest to fill the time, then I will consider this project a failure.

For the moment I’m sticking with it.  I’m going to make sure that I only play when I’ve got a lot of rested bonus built up.  That means a couple of days off in between each attempt at running instances.  Also, I’m going to try and latch onto a level 72 tank in my guild and see if I can queue with him for faster times.  Still, at this rate I cannot imagine how long it will take for me to get to 80.  I think it may take as long to get from 70-80 as it took to get from 25-70.


The Fun of Showing Off

Backgroud: I never raided in vanilla WoW, and I was behind the progression curve in BC.  My gear was never the best.

Back in the days when epics were rare, I used to like to inspect people in Stormwind (in vanilla) and Shattrath (in BC) and check out their epics.  In those days, the higher-tier gear really stood out from the normal quest/instance blues.  You’d be running through Shattrath City and say “Whoa!  Look at those cool shoulders!  They have eyes looking around in them!  That’s awesome!”  Then you’d /inspect and see what they were and get a bit envious.

I’m not advocating for the people who /afk on the bridge in Ironforge just to show off.  That kind of narcissism is a little sad.  But still, it was always neat to see something unique that jumps out at you.  Do you remember the first time you saw someone with Terestian’s Stranglestaff?  Or, if you go back far enough, seeing a rogue in full Bloodfang armor?

I had the fun of this experience this week.

With the current powerleveling that is going on, players have very few opportunities to pick up epics on their way from 1-80.  Going through instances with the LFD system you have almost no chance of seeing epics (unless you do some BC heroics at level 70), and there are very few quests that give epic rewards.

Last week my guild did a quick run through Blackwing Lair for some people  who had never seen it.  It was fun (except the Suppression Room, of course) and quick.  Since we had 10 level 80s doing it, they let me drag along my level 64 mage for some XP and loot.  In the course of the run, I managed to pick up the Ebony Flame Gloves from Ebonroc, Ringo’s Blizzard Boots from trash mobs, the Netherwind Belt (T2!  woot!) from Vael, and the Staff of the Shadow Flame from Nefarian.

The next day, as I went through my pug instances using LFD, I got repeated comments about my gear.  The staff in particular is cool-looking, with a nice purple glow and so it attracts attention.  I’ll admit, it was enjoyable to get oohs and aahs for my gear.

Maybe I should go /afk on the bridge in Ironforge now.

Seriously – it makes me hope that in Cataclysm the epics might be a little harder to get, and maybe a little more rare at first.  In Wrath, with people running Naxx within the first couple of weeks, epics flowed like water.  I no longer even notice people’s gear because its all epic and all blends together.  I like gear that stands out, even if I’m not the one who has it.


Using the LFD to level

I’m down to about a post every week and a half.  Sorry about that.  I’ve been busy lately, and when my time is short and I have to choose between playing WoW or blogging about WoW, I’ve chosen playing.

I mentioned in a previous post that I was leveling my mage using only the LFD tool.  I’ve done no quests except the occasional “talk to this guy” or to turn in a “This Item Begins a Quest” drop that I picked up in an instance.  I started this project in January with him at level 23.  He’s now at level 60.

Pros and Cons –

The best part about this is that I have not had to spend any time running back and forth across zones.  Also, since this is my fourth toon, I don’t have to do the same quests that I have already done three times already.  Most importantly, I won’t have to level through Outland again.

I”l be honest.  There are plenty of downsides to this method.  First of all is gold.  Without running quests, my income is severly limited.  If I didn’t have a main with a lot of gold it would have been a problem.  I’ve needed to get gold from my main for training, leveling professions, and my mounts.  If you’re leveling your first toon then this is not the way to go.

Its also not as fast as questing.  My friends in the guild who started their toons around the same time as me are already at 80.

Another problem is gear.  Since my only source of gear are boss drops and greens from trash mobs, upgrades are few and far between.  At level 60, I’ll still running around with a couple of pieces I got in my 30’s.

Here’s my rundown of the instances that I’ve done so far:

When I started this project in my mid-20s I got Razorfen Kraul repeatedly.  This was pretty easy, so the runs went smoothly.  Gnomeregan, though, was terrible.  If anyone left the party, the replacement couldn’t get to us from the entrance because of random respawns, so we would give up if a single person dropped.  I only finished Gnomer once in about 8 attempts.

In my upper 20s and low 30’s I got Scarlet Monastery Graveyard many, many, many times.  That was fast, but it got old.  A couple of levels later and I got SM: Library and Cathedral a few times.  Cathedral was fun… a good tank could round up about 30 mobs and we would AoE them down.  I never got Armory in the random dungeon.  All the SM instances were great.  We rarely wiped, and when we did the wipe recovery wasn’t too bad.

In my late-30s and early 40’s I got Uldaman a few times.  This was a blessing and a curse.  It was so big that a single run could give me almost a full level of XP.  Unfortunately, it was so hard to nagivate that a single wipe usually meant the group would disband rather than recover and restart.

Early level 40s brought Zul’Farrak – one of my all-time favorite instances.  Those runs were good.  Again, we rarely wiped.  Wipe recovery wasn’t terrible because you could mount inside the instance so the run back was quick.  I completed every ZF run that I got in the random LFD, and they gave a load of XP.

The mid-late 40’s brought Maraudon and Sunken Temple.  Both of these are HUGE.  They are terrible for LFD.  Every wipe resulted in the group disbanding.  No one wanted to run all the way back.  For Maraudon, most people can’t even find the instance entrance because of the maze of caves before it.  Sunken Temple is even worse.  The multi-level layout makes the minimap useless.  Both of these instances were a real chore to finish.  Fortunately, I only got assigned to Sunken Temple a few times.  Maraudon, though… I’ll have nightmares of that for months.

The 50’s got even worse.  Blackrock Depths is a great instance, but not with LFD.  The run back from the graveyard is tremendously long.  A wipe resulted in a 20 minute recovery, and so people would drop group.  There is tons of trash and inexperienced tanks could really get themselves in trouble.  Further, if no one has the Shadowforge Key then you are limited in what parts of the instance you can do.  I drew BRD in the random dungeon dozens of times, but only completed it once.

The late 50’s brought Dire Maul, which is not too hard but no one really knows where to go.  We only did DM East, which was OK.  DM West was much harder.  I liked DM, especially when compared to the horror of pugging BRD.  But then in level 55-57 I got Lower Blackrock Spire a bunch of times.  LBRS had the same problems as BRD… really big, hard to navigate, and really far from the graveyard.  In all of my LBRS runs I never got to more than one boss.  Eww.  (funniest was when one tank ran into UBRS by mistake.  Oops!)

Other than Dire Maul, level 50-57 was terrible for pugging.  Just when I was starting to despair and consider giving up on the LFD leveling method, I hit level 58.  It all gets better at level 58.  Why?  All the Death Knights join the game at level 59.  Sure, they are often noobs and sometimes can’t play the game worth a darn.  But the shortage of tanks goes away, and the queue time drops from 20 minutes to about 6-10.  Also, you get to start the Outland instances, which are better designed and easier to recover from wipes.

So far I’ve done Hellfire Ramparts several times.  Its quick, easy, and even a noob DK can tank it.  And that’s where I am now.

Edit:  Since I wrote this post, I have made it to level 69.  The Outland instances were a breeze compared to the late vanilla dungeons.  Most runs went well, until I started getting Sethekk Halls and Auchenai Crypts, which are obnoxious.  I’m a little sad that I only got to see a handful of the Outland dungeons on this toon.  I never drew Shadow Lab using LFD, or any of the Mechanar=Botanica-Arcatraz trio. That’s a shame.


Dinaer - 100 Assassination Rogue (US - Sen'Jin)
Derence - 92 Prot/Ret Paladin (US - Sen'Jin)
Metius - 91 Shadow Priest (US - Sen'Jin)
Liebnitz - 100 Arcane Mage (US - Sen'Jin)
Fastad - 90 Subtlety Rogue (US - Sen'Jin)
Darishin - 100 Resto/Balance Druid (US - Sen'Jin)
December 2018
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