No, I don’t mean that as an acronym for the game about which I blog, or journal, or whatever this is. No, I mean wow as in wowsers, I can’t believe I did it.
What is “it” you might ask? Well if you have to ask you haven’t been paying attention. Also, welcome to my blog-thing person who is showing up for the first time. At the beginning of October, I started leveling a Mage. Why, you might ask? Well there was a few reasons. My day consisted of garrison and ship missions (which actually didn’t involve me doing anything at all) and running Tanaan jungle quests to improve gear for no real reason. I had completed an LFR raid because I was more desperate than intimidated (coincidentally the same reason I got together with my current fiancee).
After killed my first raid boss ever, I wanted to try something totally new. I’d never leveled a cloth-type character before, so my new task was to take a class I’d never played before, level it to 100 by playing through all the content, then get him raid-ready and kill the final boss in the game. This appealed to me on a number of levels – I was learning a new class, a new style, and use him to do things I’d never done before. It gave me something to do. Productive, or as productive as you can get in a video game.
There was something fulfilling about taking a character from the lowest of levels to the very end content of the current game. Maybe a little too fulfilling.
November 16th, I queued up with my Mage and killed the final raid boss in Warlords of Draenor, Archimonde. I got no loot, wiped four times, but still managed to get the kill in the end. Hooray!
After that, Odingreen walked back into his garrison and I… well I logged off. For over a month, this was my goal. I’d never done any kind of raiding before, and I’d never played a Mage before. Once I did both, I had the immediate sensation that I had done what I had wanted to do so there was no point in continuing. I’ll have more to say about all of this, but for the moment…
I think I can safely say that I’m done with leveling for a long time.
Odingreen, the Swole Sorcerer, has become the fourteenth character I’ve taken to the promised land of level 100. But what makes him different is that he was the first mage I’d ever played, and the first character that I powered through from the first level of one, all in a few hours a week. I didn’t play often, but when I did I was solely focused on leveling him up. Zone by zone, expansion by expansion, each had it’s highs and lows.
Oddly enough, Warlords of Draenor was just more of the same.
There’s a reason I held WoD at a different standard going into it. For all intents and purposes, this should have been the easiest stretch to level through. There are ample posts describing fast and easy ways to knock out those levels in about two hours. There’s videos too, like this one –
Leveling from 90 to 100 in Two Hours
As you can see, the key to this speed leveling process is prep work. The formula is simple to follow: enter a zone, find each bonus objective in the zone and complete the required kill/collect tasks except for one (one kill, one item to be collected), then move on to the next bonus objective. Drink an Elixir of the Rapid Mind, finish off each objective, gather some treasures in between, and watch the levels fly by.
Sure, seems easy enough when you look at it like that. Actually it is easy enough. I’ve used that very same strategy with Hunters, Warriors, and Death Knights. Here’s where I became frustrated with Mages, and the process in general.
- Lack of gear. Heirloom items are great to have, but when you have a character with a mix of gear that fluctuates between iLevels 100 and 500, your performance is going to suffer. This can be a problem because…
- Mages are glass tanks. I’m used to using classes that are either Hunters with tanking pets, or melee dps classes that can stand in the pocket and throw down, face-to-face. Mages have to try and burn down the mob before it gets to them, because if they don’t they’re going to get torn apart. Bonus objective mobs tend to hit a little harder than regular mobs, which makes completing them quite painful when you can’t take a punch.
This process was painful. There were many deaths. Many, many deaths. Odingreed died more in this expansion than he did in Wrath, Cataclysm, and MoP combined. This could have been a result of me being a raw rookie when it came to Mages, but the fact that he had to take punches from giants wearing nothing but the same items you’re probably wearing when you read this.
But in the end…
As good a feeling as that might be, Odingreen’s journey wasn’t over yet. Step One was to take a class I’d never played before and level him from 1 – 100. Done and done.
Step Two was to get him raiding, and to kill Archimonde, the final raid boss in Warlords of Draenor. Odingreen was going to go from killing boars outside Goldshire to killing giant World Beaters on other planets, all in a couple of weeks, just to show that it doesn’t have to be intimidating to get into the raiding scene. But the next step is going to involve gearing up, since he’s going to need an iLevel of 650 to get into LFR for Archimonde.
Now before any of the elitist raiding community comes down on me by saying “LFR isn’t real raiding anyway”, I’d like to direct your attention to the general direction of my dick. LFR is a tool, a gateway into a more committed raiding mindset. Or at the very least, just a way to see some cool content/mechanics/find out what the hell everyone keeps talking about.
Is LFR raiding? It’s right there in the acronym – Looking For Raid. There’s philosophies regarding this, but I’m not sweating that right now. This isn’t about labels – it’s about killing. And isn’t that what gaming is all about?
Out of the entire leveling stretch, Mists of Pandaria was the expansion I was dreading the most. I HATED leveling in MoP. I know hate is a strong word, but it’s the best I could come up with without getting too colorful or graphic. It gets the point across without me telling you that leveling through Pandaria was the drizzling shits. Back in the day, just the thought of questing through MoP gave me a frustration headache, a stress-clenched jaw, and the sensation that I’d just swallowed a swarm of bees that had dined on nothing but tequila and bad intentions. It was during that expansion that I actually walked away from WoW for an entire year. Unsubbed, never looked back.
It was that bad.
I tried to put my finger on what exactly red-lined my stress when it came to MoP. The quests were… fine, I guess? I think it was the sheer distance to get from point A to point B by land that made the whole procedure feel like it took sooooo long. Riding from hub to hub felt like someone slowly dragging their fingernails across a chalkboard. Even after the xp squish that comes with old content, I only leveled two characters through the content. Luckily they’d already started the grind, so it was less of an issue to get them through.
But Odingreen had to get through Pandaria from start to finish. Even with a few Elixirs of the Rapid Mind, it still wasn’t a walk in the park. It probably took twice as long as the Cataclysm stretch did. There were a few times when minutes of travel ticked off the Elixir of the Rapid Mind without anything happening except travel. There were a few good quest hubs, followed by saddle sores.
Odingreen’s Tips for Leveling From 85 to 90 Using the Elixir of the Rapid Mind
- Patience, Grasshopper. Pandaria was not RM friendly, that’s for damn sure. It took three RM, with questing in between to fill in the gaps between hubs, to get from 85 to 90. With no flying, and quite a bit of space between hubs, the time dragged like an anchor. Kun-Lai was a beast to get around. Avoid that piece of property if you can.
- No Dungeons. If you’re going lone wolf, stay away from these dungeons. There’s too many cute little mechanics going on that seems to befuddle groups. If you really want to enjoy the experience then run them solo once you get to 100.
Yeah, not much to sing about when it came to Mists of Pandaria. The best part was leaving it in the rearview mirror when Odingreen flew to Timeless Isle, went for a swim, and took the shortcut to Draenor.
As with most things I do, it isn’t until after I finish something that I realize there’s something more there to discuss. Sometimes I’ll backtrack, sometimes I’ll address it in the future. I mentioned things in the last Alpha to Omega post that I should have put a bit more focus on. I feel there were topics that just didn’t get their due attention.
Take now, for example. Specifically the Elixirs of the Rapid Mind. This is great for leveling when you’ve been through the process a few times, give or take a dozen. I was actually starting to get to that leveling burnout point with Odingreen once he’d reached level 73. I was so tempted that I mentioned my dilemma on Twitter, hoping to stir some kind of conversation or at least get some feedback.
The retweet was nice at least.
So to help to get through the leveling grind, Odingreen bought a few of these elixirs from the AH and put them to work. As I mentioned in my last post, they really helped me push through the burnout wall.
Now that Odingreen had jumped into a new pool of content, the question became how to make the most of these elixirs in Cataclysm content. We’re talking five levels here. How fast could Odingreen get through those levels using the Elixir of the Rapid Mind?
Answer: Less than an hour.
There are guides on Youtube, quite a few in fact, for leveling quickly through Cataclysm. The key to them, so they say, is by grinding dungeons under the influence of the Elixir of the Rapid Mind. But those videos, for the most part, are a bit misleading. What these videos forget to mention is that for the dungeon crushing to be effective, you also need a level 100 friend to carry you through them. He (or she) kills the dungeon while you either stand at the entrance, or follow behind at a safe distance.
Of course, if you have a well-geared friend who is willing to subject himself (or herself) to this, then by all means go for it. However if you’re solo for whatever reason (we’re all friends here, we don’t judge), then just pop an E of the RM and quest. It might not be as OMG WFT BBQ fast as being carried repeatedly through dungeons, but it’s still pretty damn silly fast.
As far as Cataclysm content goes, well here’s some “sage” advice from the Muscle Mage himself, Odingreen.
Odingreen’s Tips for Leveling From 80 to 85 Using the Elixir of the Rapid Mind
- Avoid Dungeons when using The Elixir. “It’s just not worth risking your time. Sure you can drink it just as the final boss is about to die, but if you’re in a PuG then you definitely don’t want to risk wasting the elixir (and gold, cause these damn things aren’t cheap) by chugging it when you first start your dungeon run. You may have facerolled through Outland and Northrend, but in my experience there are more people who tend to, how should I put this, have their head stuck up their ass as they push content. They wouldn’t know hard work if it jumped up and bit them in the ass. Adversity, for them, involves whining and kicking people who don’t overpower the content and can’t carry their lazy asses. There’s no leveling gainz to be made that way. Don’t waste your buffed time and precious gold on Johnny Waddafak knowing how to work the boss mechanics. If you want to run dungeons for loot, achievements, or whatever, then do it without wasting an elixir.”
- Quest hard and often. “This is where you make fast and sizeable leveling gainz. I took a hit of the RM just as I was about to hand in four quests at a group hub, and just bounced from there. There’s plenty of questing hubs available in Mt Hyjal, Deepholm, and… well I can’t speak for the other places because I didn’t have to go there. Yeah. Five levels, two zones, fourth wall be damned.”
- Finish off your RM before leaving the zone. “Cataclysm is the Land of the Song and Dance. There’s cutscenes for the cutscenes, for Chrissake! Every new zone you go to involves a production of some kind. The last thing you want to do is have RM rolling while you watch video roll, and you have to knock off a quest or two before you even get into the zone. If you’ve got plenty of time left, then risk it if you want. But generally I’d suggest sticking around and getting more quests done until the RM wears off rather than waste precious time moving from zone to zone.”
- Pull the pin at 85. “That thing I just said? Yeah, about that. I did 80 to 82.5 in Mt. Hyjal, at 82.5 to 85 in Deepholm. Once you reach 85, the experience from quest rewards drop off a cliff, headfirst. I went from around 50,000 xp at 84, to 14,000 xp a couple of quests later at 85. As a mage my transition from Cataclysm to Mists of Pandaria was pretty quick because teleports. Also, I’m good like that. It probably took me about five minutes from the time I ported to Stormwind to the time I completed my first quest in Pandaria. Granted there were a couple of quests that I had to complete on my way to Panda Land, but those rewards easily offset the low xp I would have earned had I stayed in Deepholm to finish off my RM.”
Elixir of the Rapid Mind + Heirlooms = powerleveling in a bottle.
There was exactly zero point zero hesitation when everyone’s favorite supervillain-looking mage, Odingreen, finally dinged 68. I say “finally” as if it took a long time. It didn’t, really. But as soon as Odingreen hit 68, he ported to Stormwind, put on a parka, tore the sleeves off, got on a boat, and headed straight to Northrend. With all the snow, trees, mountains, and snow, it was like taking a ship to Canada only with fewer Tim Hortons coffee shops and fewer apologies.
Not that his time in Outland was terrible or anything. To be fair, he really wasn’t there long enough to form an opinion. He landed in Hellfire Peninsula, with its red sky, red dirt, and red pigs. So it was probably less depressing to spend more time in dungeons, which he did on the regular. Most of his Burning Crusade leveling was through dungeons, and according to Recount OG kept finding himself right in the middle of the road as far as the damage he was doing. He was never kicked from a group for having what some might consider sub-par damage, so he must’ve done a decent enough job. Then again, when the rest of the group is doing double your DPS, they’re killing things too fast to notice that you’re even there.
Was it frustrating? Kinda, but really as long as the XP kept flowing at a constant rate, then his damage output and reasons for lack thereof, was secondary. Besides, sometimes you need to bang out a few pushups between pulls. Always finish your set, regardless of how many mobs get pulled. They’ll be there when you’re done, or they won’t. But that pump is totes worth it. #ProTip
Poor Zygor got a workout during this whole ordeal as well. He had to constantly update his questing path becauses Odingreen was tearing through the the alien world faster than, well, something really fast. He’d get a handful of quests done, run a dungeon or two, then move on to a new zone because he was already bored (and had outleveled the zone). In fact, he’d just gotten the quest that took him into Blade’s Edge Mountains when he dinged 68. He blew by Nagrand entirely. Never looked at Shadowmoon Valley. Missed many ugly zones, and not so ugly. He got a good tan though, so that’s something.
It was much the same thing when Odingreen hopped off the boat in Howling Fjord. Quests were done between dungeons, and zones were skipped. He did some business in Howling Fjord, had a cup of coffee in Dragonblight, then got a flier in the mail that told him the Argent Tournament was the cat’s pyjamas and he should go there ASAP.
He flexed at the mailbox. “A tournament?” he asked. “Too easy, baby. I’m the guy who brings guns to a joust fight.”
The mailbox said nothing, being a mailbox and all.
But Odingreen wasn’t dissuaded by silence from non-sentient beings. He kissed the peak of his bicep. “Lich King better start sweating! Odingreen’s a-comin’!”
Clearly the mage was stoked. He also had some leveling tips so I thought I’d add them there.
Odingreen’s Power Pro Leveling Tips
- Don’t run Recount. “I know it’s tempting to see what kind of damage you’re doing in dungeons. But shut that shit off. Recount is an end-game addon to show where you are in the raid’s pecking order. Gear, level, there’s plenty of things that are gonna make a big difference in digits. And if you do run it, don’t link it in group. Bragging about your Recount numbers while you’re leveling doesn’t mean you’ve got a big dick. It means you ARE a big dick.”
- Use a leveling addon. “There’s free ones out there. But I’m leet, so I use Zygor’s Leveling Guide. It’s got a bunch of other built-in functions, like auto-equipping upgrades as you get them. If you’re the kind of person who likes reading quest text, or enjoys wandering around picking flowers while you’re killing twenty of something for their ears or teeth or whatever, more power to ya. But it’s like when I go to the gym – I’m not getting paid by the hour. I’m there to do work and get going. Wasting time is stupid.”
- Elixir of the Rapid Mind. “This tonic is like Viagra for your XP – it makes you uber buff for fifteen minutes. So if you’re going to take one of these, you probably want to do it when you’re in a dungeon that has a few quests in it, and a few bosses. It’s also nice to have some quests finished outside the dungeon before you drink it. Basically you want to pop this before you hand in quests. Don’t use this for grinding – that’s what spit is for.”
- Get flying ASAP. “I don’t give a swollen turd what anyone says – flying is the best. You get places faster, you don’t have to deal with zombies or crabs or whatever is between you and your quest reward. If you want to pick flowers, stay on your pony. I’ll mount up on my dragon and fly, and look damn good doing it, thank you very much.”
- Know your role. “Whether you’re using macros or facerolling, have an idea what your spells, talents and abilities do. Got a group buff? Know that shit at least so you don’t look like some kind of fool when you’re asked for it. Check out Wowhead or Icy Veins if you’re not sure. People will tolerate shitty damage, but if you don’t know your buffs, you can get bounced from a group. The moral of the story is that buff is good. I’m buff, I’m the stuff, and I’m flexing right now to show my appreciation for your attention. You can’t see it of course, but imagine it. There. Now’s it’s a gift for both of us.”
Charming. The road to Archie-Mode continues.