Ding! :Spending Valor in MoP

Having stayed a way from the Beta for the last few weeks, I finally patched up and finished leveling Nemain, my fury warrior up to 90.  While I had read about the changes to Justice and Valor point gear in various fansites, I was not prepared for the shock of not finding a Valor vendor in the Alliance shrine in the Vale of Eternal Blossoms.  Valor points can be redeemed on reputation vendors for ilvl 489 epics, requiring Revered reputation to purchase.

The pieces that offered by faction are as follows:

Golden Lotus: Shoulder, Chest, Finger
Shado-Pan: Head, Back, Trinket
Klaxxi: Neck, Legs, Waist
The August Celestials: Wrist, Hands, Feet

What this means is that hitting 90 doesn’t mean switching from quests to dungeon grinding immediately.  Instead you will want to balance out dungeon runs with daily quests from the faction of your choice and also work on finishing any quest lines with those factions which give you rep.  For example, Completing the entire Kalaxxi quest line (which is basically the entire Dread Wastes zone) will take you well through honored and just a few days of dailies away from Revered.

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Ding! – Quick Tips for leveling alts from 80 – 85

Ogre Ambush

Ogre Ambush

Ding! is a column focused on alt leveling tips.  Do it faster the second time around!

With more free time during the holidays, are you starting to level again?  Or perhaps you have leveled your first character through to 85 and want to relax and level a second alt.  Why level a second character?  If you read this blog, you probably already know.  Whether its about leveling a character for a different experience, to level a profession or to see how much faster you can do it a second time.  Whatever the reason, I am here to help you level up quicker the second time.  Lets take a look at some tips after the break…

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Nemain – Hitting 85!

It has been a week since Cataclysm launched and what an awesome week it has been.  I started out leveling my Warrior, Nemain as I had mentioned in the last post and leveling with my Rogue friend hit 85 in four days.  We didn’t rush much and took time to read all the quests text going through.  However, in the chaotic frenzy of the first few days, having a small group to work on kill quests and save your ass with the insane respawn rate made leveling a lot quicker.

Camping a named Quest Mob in Vashj'ir

Camping a named Quest Mob in Vashj'ir

I really liked how the leveling through questing experience has really been refined this expansion.  The flow from quest to quest is consistent.  There are numerous scripted cutscenes that show rather than tell us how the story progresses and there are a liberal amount of “blue” item rewards peppered throughout the quest chains.  The instant quest complete window that shows when you finish some tasks help to reduce the time needed to go back to the quest giver to turn in the quests.  For some quests like the new Crucible of Carnage chain, the Cataclysm version of Ring of Blood, it prevents a lot of the anguish of not completing the quest before the next round begins.

There is also a nice ramp up in normal creature difficulty which builds a foundation for dungeon grouping.  From the start at 80, the health pools of the creatures triple from the 10.6k health from Icecrown mobs to about 30k.  This truly lets you work more of a rotation in before they fall over.  By the end gear levels in WOTLK, even heroic dungeon mobs were dropping like flies, giving the game an almost Diablo 2 zerg mentality.  By the time you hit Deepholm at 82-83 mobs start using abilities that were previously exclusive to dungeon bosses.  you’ll see mobs that use void zones, spells that should be interrupted, and spells that can be avoided by moving.  All important for the dungeons.

Naga Visions Chain

Naga Visions Chain

Speaking of dungeons, they are now much harder.  No more watching the Daily Show on the second monitor while you faceroll heroics.  Forget heroics, even the new dungeons are challenging.  All of the creatures have deadly abilities to be aware of.  The general rule of thumb is this; If your class can use crowd control, you need to know what it can be used on and have them on your action bar in a easy to use spot or if you can find the place for it, keybinded.  If there is a spell with a long cast time (more than 2 secs) that can be interrupted, interrupt it if you can.  In most cases, the longer the cast time, the worse its going to be when it gets off.  Finally, if you see pools of stuff on the floor don’t let the mobs stand on it and if its on fire, you should get off it too.

In what must be training for raiding, dungeon bosses are more complicated than ever and in lieu of voice communication requires everyone to know the fight mechanics and some planning.  A sure sign of a bad group is one in which the tank just charges into the boss without a ready check and the dps charges pass him after the first taunt on the boss.  Most bosses use modified mechanics from WOTLK raid bosses, so veteran raiders will have an advantage.  For example, General Umbriss from Grim Batol uses Blitz, an attack similar to Icehowl’s charge attack from the Argent Tournament.  They also use new unusual mechanics like needing to position yourself up wind of Altairus the new dragon boss in Vortex Pinnacle.  The key to learning the dungeons is to read up on them on other websites and also to check your combat log when you die to figure out what killed you.  If WOTLK was defined by the mantra, “stay out of the fire”, Cataclysm is going to be the expansion of “stay out of the fire that follows you.”

Ragnaros Awaits...

Ragnaros Awaits...

So finally at 85 what is there left to do?  Lots!  There is a great sense of elation upon hitting 85.  But its also like climbing to the top of a long flight of stairs to see a huge chasm with another flight of stairs beyond it.  Unlike what many experienced in Wrath, hitting the terminal level does not mean its time to start doing heroics, rather, you’ll need to gear up in regular dungeons to get your gear up to snuff before doing heroics.  As a consequence of the new stat system, it has never been clearer how much better or worse an item is.  Items of the same level with have identical primary stats.  So if you are a warrior like I am, any blue level quality 333 ilevel chest will have the same amount of strength and stamina.  The only variation will be which two secondary stats are included from the list of critical strike rating, hit rating, expertise rating, haste rating and the new boy in town, mastery rating.  You’ll notice your health climbing rapidly as you replace your precious purples from WOTLK.

Level 80 gear will match ilvl 251 gear for stats if you have epic gems and enchants.  Once you get to level 82 greens, they will completely overshadow 2264 gear from ICC 25.  They only reason to keep those would be for an awesome 2-piece set bonus.  By level 83 greens you’ll want to switch, mainly for the raw increase in primary stats. you’ll start having 50-60k of health by this point and it only goes up.  A fresh 80 in quest greens and blues will have about 80-90k health and when you are ready for heroics, 100k and more.  This applies for dps and healer classes too, not just tanks.  Even with this massive stat and corresponding health increase, you will notice your dps drop as you level.  This is painfully true for Fury Warriors.  The stat formula changes each time you level, requiring larger and larger amounts of the secondary stats like hit, crit and haste to give the same percentage increase in accuracy, critical hit chance and speed they once provided.  As a fury warrior it amounts to about 5-6% hit lost per level if you do not increase your hit rating.  It is a noticeable lost of rage generation.  Basically with upgrades, you will hit harder, but hit and crit far less often.  If you use a dps meter, it means your dps stays mostly the same or for warriors, slighty lower than what you were doing at 80.

So sitting at level 85 now, I am slowing down slighty, taking time to level my professions, do the dailies for reputation and finish questing in Twilight Highlands.

PS.  The picture above comes from standing in the fire in Twilight Highlands for the Deathwing achievement.

PSS.  Amusingly I hit 85 doing the uncovering the conspiracy quest in Stormwind as part of the chain for the call to arms to Twilight Highlands.

Cataclysm is Here!

Cataclysm is finally here.  Its also my 100th post on this blog.  When the changes go live, my plan is to log in and start working on Nemain again as my main character for Cataclysm.  She’s logged out at Ebonhold and will start off by turning in the 22 daily quests I have saved for a bit of an xp boost and then learn all my new profession levels.  Finally I’ll hearth back to Stormwind to learn Azeroth flying and then discover the Blackrock Caverns entrance so I can queue for it in the LFD Tool.  Then its a quick decision of whether to start off in Vashj’ir or Mount Hyjal.  I am leaning towards Vashj’ir as it seems everyone on my server is going to Mount Hyjal.

Ding! – Don’t Hoard Chef’s Award Tokens!

Ding! is a column focused on alt leveling tips.  Do it faster the second time around!

Cataclysm is almost here and what better time to revive this old column.  As new players get a rare opportunity to play a “new” MMO from the start and veterans reroll new class and race combinations, there has never been a better time to start leveling again.

Today’s column highlights one of the best new features of Cataclysm, secondary profession leveling.  One of the hardest things to keep leveled on alts had been cooking and fishing.  Cooking was made much easier since last year with the introduction of the Pilgrim’s Bounty cooking quests which made leveling from 1-350 cheap and easy.  Fishing however has not had any holiday help and remains one of the most tedious to re-level on alts.  Thankfully this has been remedied with the new cooking and fishing daily quests in Stormwind and Ogrimmar.  These quests which can be done with minimal skill award 1-2 skill points in addition to xp and gold; Ensuring that you will max out your secondary professions if you take a little time to do them each day.

But a huge warning for the cooking dailies.  The Chef Award tokens awarded by the quest only stack to 10. So don’t hoard them up, always check your currency tab before you turn in the quest.  I hope this is really an oversight on Blizzard’s part as it is a ridiculously low maximum for the stack.  It’s fine for cooks that are at 450 skill and can buy and use half of the recipes immediately but for cooks just starting out, they must buy and store recipes until they reach 450 skill.

Another note is as of writing this article, the recipe for Feathered Lure is not learnable so don’t bother buying it or sell it back to the vendor for a refund.

Preparing for Cataclysm

With less than a week to the Cataclysm launch, what steps are you taking to prepare yourself for the expansion?  I’ve taken the time to prepare both in-game and out of the game for the expansion.  How does your checklist compare to mine?  Find out after the break.

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The Blues – Dungeon Quest Experience Reduction

The Blues highlights important “blue” posts from the World of Warcraft official forums.

We are applying a hotfix today to all level 1-60 dungeon quests for Kalimdor and Eastern Kingdoms dungeons which will significantly reduce the amount of experience they award.

While dungeons should remain integral to our evolving storylines, and great places to collect gear in cooperative environments, we need to make sure each player’s questing progress remains relevant as dungeon quests are completed. In many cases we’re seeing players enter dungeons to complete quests, only to come out ahead of the leveling curve for the zones they’re in.

This change should allow players the opportunity to reap the benefits of running dungeons, while not outpacing the leveling flow from levels 1-60. At this time there are no plans for making any adjustments to dungeon quest experience for Outland, Northrend, and level 80+ Cataclysm dungeons.

You can find a list of all of the latest hotfixes here: http://us.battle.net/wow/en/blog/1232869

Maruk – Glyphing for Growing Arms Warriors

I had a sudden thought as I logged out on Maruk last night, what about glyphs.  Its been some time since I had to re-glyph a character and I had completely forgotten to do so for Maruk.  So I made a mental note and the first thing I did today was to log on to Maruk and buy some glyphs.  You get your first glyph slots (one major and one minor) at level 15 so I had really dropped the ball going twelve level without glyphs, a major oversight, kind of like not assigning talent points whenever you level.  Choices and decisons I made after the break.

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Ding! – Medic!

Ding! is a column focused on alt leveling tips.  Do it faster the second time around!

I’ve been doing a review of categories and columns and came across the old 1Up column that was focused on leveling alts.  The column name was a Super Mario Bros reference, but the more I thought about it, the less it made sense, getting a 1up mushroom was more about getting an extra life than leveling.  So that name is gone!  Henceforth, the column will be called Ding!  Its a classic MMO RPG reference back from when I was playing Dark Age of Camelot and leveling produced a Ding! sound.  There is a swooshy sound for WoW but I am certainly not calling the column that.

While of the subject of extra lives, (emm yeah smooth transition) today’s topic is about leveling first aid alongside leveling up.  A secondary profession, it takes almost no extra time to level.  Just hit the First Aid trainer whenever the recipes turn green/grey and it should keep pace with the cloth drops you are getting from humanoid type mobs.  I used to horde my bandages and ended up having to toss them when they became redundant.  However this time round I find myself using them often to avoid downtime.  The in-game regen is often quick enough at the lower levels. but by the time you start getting to the 50s, it won’t be quick enough to avoid downtime to eat or drink between groups.  Shave off downtime by using bandages often and keeping on trucking.

The tip for alt leveling is not to use the bandages you can make, but get your main to make the bandages for you.  For example you can train to use at 290 skill, but you can use them with only 225 skill.  This is important, especially if you are powering through the levels with heirloom items and First Aid just isn’t keeping pace.

Finally, remember that first aid is not just for non-healing classes.  For example, even though you could switch and heal yourself as a Shadow Priest, mana is precious when leveling and using it for heals would mean less damage and more downtime.   With the announced change to first aid in Cataclysm, this will be even more true as you don’t have to channel the bandage.  In Cataclysm, you’ll be able to cast a quick bandage and move off to the next mob as the HoT ticks away.

Until the next column happy leveling.