I’ve leveled fourteen characters to 100. I’ve done Heroic dungeons, PVP, and even pet battles. I’ve farmed for mounts, pets, transmogs, and gold. I’m almost at the point where I’ve got the Brawler’s Guild on lock. So it’s s safe to say that I’ve dabbled in pretty much everything WoW has to offer. But Blizzard is all about the raiding. Dungeons? A means to gear up for raiding. Storylines? The plots get wrapped up in raids. Legendary items? Raid or GTFO (which is actually quite helpful, that’s a future reference to something I haven’t discussed yet stay with me here people).
I’m actually no stranger to raiding. Back in my Everquest days, my guild often raided numerous World Bosses and Planes of Existence. In those days though, raid zones weren’t instanced. Every guild had a rogue alt parked where the various bosses spawned. When you got the word that a boss was up, your entire guild had to race other guilds to be the first to clear to – and pull – the boss when it was up.
That, boys and girls, is hardcore raiding. The ability to mobilize a raid with whoever you had, rather than the optimal raid configuration that guilds like to push for encounters today. You had to make due with whoever your guild had online, knowing you might only get one shot at the boss. Making that pull while another raid parked itself just around the corner, waiting to move in if and when you wiped. The PLP (Play Nice Policy) extended just far enough that guilds wouldn’t try to get you wiped (unless you were on a PVP server, which I assume is a special kind of Hell that plenty of people still manage to get off on).
But that was then, and this was now. Raid comps had become more stringent on their requirements, even in LFR. For a tourist mode style of raiding, there were still groups that expected a certain level of performance out of raid members. Some of it was reasonable, some of it was not. Mythic aspirations out of weekend warrior raiders.
I’d heard the horror stories, and it kept me away for the longest time. But one day I finally took the plunge (out of desperation and boredom), not caring what mistakes I happened to make. I had to give this raiding thing a try. If LFR was as easy as everybody claimed, it would be a learning experience. And if I didn’t measure up and got kicked, screw it.
So I did some researched, queued up, and drew Archimonde as my first raid. I may not have performed as great as I could have, but after we wiped and the raid leader went through the roster to cut dead weight he didn’t cut me. I’d tried to prep myself as best I could. And you know what? Things pretty much turned out ok. Well, for me at least. But other people… damn folks. Come on now.
Now that I have run a few LFR’s, I am something of an expert as far as raiding goes. Because of course.
Experience bragging aside, there are a few things I’ve noticed in the raids I’ve been in. Some faux pas, so to speak, some that I was guilty of myself. It’s not necessarily a WoW raiding thing, because I’d seen the same kind of issues when I raided in Everquest. These issues also seemed to be some of the reasons that many people try to avoid raiding altogether. I was one of those people, so again, experience talking here.
As I said, some common mistakes kept rearing their ugly head, and the sad part is that they’re easy enough to fix. So what kinds of mistakes do us rookie raiders make?
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?