Day Forty Eight - 31 Jan 2011

Level 59

Would you like a quick means of knowing the difference in leveling in the Outland compared to the redesigned questing experience in Azeroth?

Ding 85's Alliance Hellfire Peninsula Guide: If not yet 59, return to the The Legion Front and kill demons until you reach Level 59.

This is the definition of Grind and was once very common as the means for quick leveling, but has disappeared from the 1-60 experience. For most of us, we're perfectly happy with that.

As I did my grind this morning, dinging 59 with about 15 minutes of effort, I was reminded of a "pro" I'd forgotten. I had accumulated a stack of Netherweave cloth! Different grinds in the past could reward good farming materials. There was always the possibility to select a grind target for rewards you needed, a double dip of sorts. There will be a crop of new players that won't learn this lesson as quickly.

Kallixta didn't get much attention this weekend, but I did manage to sneak in one quick level.

Day Forty Seven - 23 Jan 2011

Lunar Festival

Kallixta is not supposed to be about achievements, but doing things I haven't done before. Still, my current mode is all about leveling quickly and seeing an easy quest confused me. So I did an elder and had the Coin of Ancestry achievement surprise me!

Blasted Lands

I like the changes in the Blasted Lands. I felt there was too much grind before and I like how the new quest storyline works. I also like the use of many new "mini-boss" mobs that have names yet aren't full elites. There's enough trepidation before the fight and accomplishment after. I'm not sure how much of that pleasure is dependent upon my running a protection paladin. Would these be as fun as a fragile mage?

The big moment in this zone came with the completion of the Razelikh quest chain. First, I hadn't read the text carefully enough, so after killing the body, I didn't realize I needed to use the knife to seal the soul. Instead I fought the mob down to zero, yet he didn't go away. Eventually the quest failed and I was stuck on top of the Rise of the Defiler without a means to teleport down. I'd recently used by hearthstone, so decided I'd just jump.

I thought I'd found the best place to jump, and in one sense I did. After all, I survived. Still, I was shocked at seeing the Going Down? message pop up! Everything went correctly on my second try, although this time I actually read the quest text and consulted with wowhead for comments. They mentioned that things had changed so if the boss tossed you off the Rise, your buddy cast a spell that saved you from the big fall. I had killed him too quickly before and had never been tossed on my first try. This time he tossed me twice!

I dinged level 58 with only 28 / 35 Blasted Lands Quests. I could have finished up with zone's quests, but both of today's achievements reminded me that's not my objective. I had the satisfaction of completing the big story line and earning the Band of Noble Deeds for myself. That was the last rare I got from the LFD and everything I wear now are quest rewards or crafted. Since I'm at least 16 levels higher now than when I ran a random dungeon, it shows the sacrifice. Do you want quick XP or great items? Anybody else notice this difference?

I allowed myself the chance to enjoy running up the stairs and walking through the Dark Portal, committing myself to the Outland. I don't remember it as being that special when it happened for Martuska. Her hearthstone was already saved to Shattrath before that. One of those consequences of the loss of convenient portals was to make this moment a bit more special for me. So the next time you bitterly grumble about paying for a mage portal, here's something to think about.

Hellfire Peninsula

The contrast in quest design shows up right away. The Outland was not redesigned for good quest hubs and storylines. I was soon running to a quest hub west of Honor Hold yet needing to run east of Honor Hold to accomplish them. In fact, I was riding a LOT and deeply regreting arriving out here before level 60 and the joy of flying mounts. I didn't particularly notice the lack of flight on Kallixta while in Azeroth, because the game design was geared for it. Once in the Outland, the difference was obvious and I'm unhappy. Luckily XP still drops quickly enough and I anticipate level 60 on my next session, which might not be until next weekend.

One last thing that happened before finishing up was that I hit 500 Quests. All three of the achievements today caught me by surprise. I think that's unusual.

Day Forty Six - 22 Jan 2011


Despite being only level 54, Kallixta wanted to make a visit to Shattrath. Someone answered my portal request promptly and BAM, there I was. I confirmed I didn't need to pick up the flight path. I could fly to Honor Hold and the Dark Portal itself. Asking a guard got me to the Blacksmith Trainer. I needed 5 more skill levels before I could train up. Luckily I had a bunch of Thorium from mining in Un'Goro, so I popped out some Imperial Plate items to reach the necessary minimum. Done.

There isn't a Mining Trainer in Shattrath and I wasn't close on First Aid or Fishing, but I found the cooking trainer. I now recall leveling up to max on Pilgrim's Bounty.

I took the flight to Honor Hold and confirmed I couldn't get flying early. I'll need to wait for level 60 as expected, but I did train in Mining, opening myself up to leveling that while picking up more Thorium in Azeroth.

Un'Goro Crater

After the server reset, Kallixta finally managed to get back to the Hot Springs and the crazy Maxmillian of La Mancha or whatever. I followed the storyline, dinged 55 and completed Explore Un'Goro Crater and Un'Goro Crater Quests, so it was time to return to find a new Call for Heroes!

The Blasted Lands

I've finished 12 /35 of Blasted Land Quests and dinged level 56 in short order. I've more Rested XP that should see me through another level or two. The plan should see me hitting level 58 once I've finished here and I'll move back through the Dark Portal.c

BA Shared Topic: Were 5 Levels Enough?

Ringo Flinthammer provided the Blog Azeroth shared topic:

"For the first time, WoW's latest expansion, Cataclysm, only raised the level cap by 5 levels, in addition to the other content it added. Was Blizzard right to make this call? All other things being equal -- the same number of high level zones and dungeons, for instance -- should they have raised the cap by 10 levels? Should the fourth expansion be a 5-level or 10-level jump?"

All prior expansions, all two of them, provided 10 levels. If the only measure of an expansion's worth is in levels, this is clearly only half an expansion. Or maybe less? With the proliferation of heirlooms that speed experience gain, things can take even shorter time. We saw folks ding their 5 levels in a day, including a guildie of mine that earned a Server First for his class. My own casual play only needed a few weeks.

With the new leveling environment and revamped quests in old zones, far more folks will be able to reach the level cap than ever before. I remember tedious grinds of mobs for their XP and that just doesn't happen anymore. Tedious grinding still happens, but not for leveling purposes. Now it's for reputation or gear. This has become welcome to folks that enjoy leveling alts. I no longer feel locked in to my one main and don't feel guilty as I now neglect her while leveling what I hope to be my new main.

A surprising disappointment to me: there isn't a new Hero class! Will there never be another? Is that the lesson taken from Death Knights?

I know there are other current disappointments, especially Tol Barad, but most seem to be something Blizzard is actively fiddling with.

As plenty of others note, levels aren't the only measure of an expansion, and there's plenty of value in Cataclysm. My overall subjective impression is that I'm perfectly happy. I'm very pleased with what I'm getting out of it.

Martuska hits Level 85

16 Jan 2011

Day Forty Five - 16 Jan 2011

Un'Goro Crater

The day started and ended in Un'Goro crater for Kallixta, but in between she managed to earn another couple of levels, reaching level 54. All the prior leveling had eliminated the accumulated rested XP, but quests and mobs still rewarded well. Somehow the crater doesn't feel as crowded. Has anybody else noticed it seems easier to run in some direction without gathering too many dinosaurs chasing you?

I deliberately spent more travel time close to the crater wall where Mining Nodes were plentiful. It was no trouble mining up to my level cap. I had a lot of trouble with one mini-boss. It killed me three times before I realized how bad some of my habits had become. I wasn't taking advantage of things like Lay-on-hands! My positioning was obviously bad, so I tried concentrating on that, without noticing perfect positioning wasn't needed. It's a little scary to think of how much I'm not using and will need to retrain myself in before long.

Burning Crusade

As a reminder, up to this point there have been two accounts in the household. Martuska has been on the old same account as Syylia which was upgraded to Cataclysm, but Kallixta and Aldonza were on a second account. I've now upgraded that account to Burning Crusade. The spark for this was two-fold. First, the price has dropped drastically and it made an easy late Christmas present to myself. Second, Kallixta is close to the top. I considered what it would be like to keep her level capped and explore things like Vanilla raids at level. I'm not sure of everything that has changed in my thinking, but using Kallixta to explore Cataclysm end-game content has become a stronger interest. I don't think it'd be practical to try things like Molten Core without the strong intentional support of a like-minded crew.

With BC, I could now add a Draenei, Budgie Elf, Death Knight, or Jewelcrafter. Of those, I'll probably roll a Death Knight first, but probably not for a few months. I'll probably need to include the Wrath expansion before I do that.


The shift from LFD to Questing has finally caught up to Kallixta's equipment. She's no longer earning blue upgrades and the final few Un'Goro quests rewarded her with some greens that actually were improvements on her existing choices. So during one break, due to frustration over that difficult mini-boss, I took the time to switch her equipment. Chest, Wrist, Hand, Mace, and Shield were all replaced. I realized how used to seeing that shield I'd become. I'm going to miss it. When Kallixta upgraded to plate, many changes weren't seen, being under the tabard, and I don't have the helm visible. The shield alone makes a big difference in my perception of her. I imagine I'll adjust, but I haven't yet.

One consequence of this change underscored that not only were the blues of superior value, they were also of high item level. Everything but my current bracers is flagged as "low level". I don't believe them to be too low level, but I expect it means things like Rugged Armor Kits actually are providing a bigger relative improvement than before. It'll be something to keep an eye on.

By the way, I finally discovered how to resync Kallixta on wowhead. It was another habit I was too lazy to push. It's not like it was some big secret, just different than how I used to do it.

The Short Term Plan

Do y'all spend much time plotting out where you will take a character next? I'm mostly following Ding85, which will probably get Kallixta to level 56 in Un'Goro Crater, but next it suggests Swamp of Sorrows, before hitting the Blasted Lands. The intention is that this plan gets you to level 58 at which time you head to Outland, but I'm leveling faster than the plan. I'll probably skip Swamp of Sorrows, but as long as the Blasted Lands aren't boring and grindy, I'll complete it instead of heading out as soon as I ding 58. However, I will probably jump to Shattrath early so I can train up my Mining and Blacksmithing. Sound good?

Day Forty Four - 15 Jan 2011

Searing Gorge

     Kallixta found plenty of time to play on Saturday, flying to Thorium Point to start some quests. Martuska never spent much time in the Plaguelands questing, but I could still remember running around Searing Gorge. I would be able to compare the changes from the Shattering. One of those changes was the added fun of Lunk's search for adventure!

     While silly, it didn't really make the quests easier or harder, just more fun. I noticed that while terrain and random mobs were mostly familiar, the quests were vastly changed. I managed 22 / 35 towards Searing Gorge Quests before deciding I wanted to follow Ding85's quest guide in Tanaris. So I finished what I needed for Explore Searing Gorge and moved on.


     This was another location where I still had memory of questing, so I could see the minor differences in all those pirate quests. The layout was enjoyable it is seemed to take little time to complete both Tanaris Quests and Explore Tanaris! Again there were some quests that were just fun!

     Before I logged off for the day, I had the Level 50 achievement, level 52 without any achievement, and settled in at the new Marshal's Stand camp in Un'Goro Crater.

Day Forty Three - 14 Jan 2011

I measured my interests in pursuing Classic Dungeonmaster at level versus just leveling asap. I'd already missed Maraudon and I discovered that leveling by LFD just isn't as quick anymore. The revamped quest story lines from Cataclysm made fast leveling fun and it was all still new to me. It doesn't preclude visits to the LFD queue in future, but I thought I'd give PvE a stronger try. This weekend sure was an eye-opener!

Eastern Plaguelands

It really didn't take long to finish Eastern Plaguelands Quests and I was a bit puzzled why Full Caravan didn't pop. I ensured I got Beezil, the last missing caravan member and looking saw that all characters were checked off. Consulting wowhead's comments showed there were bugs. As of now, I'm missing Fiona despite having her earlier! There is an outstanding known issue, so I won't worry about it. It's not like Kallixta is that worried about Achievements. Where to next?


Kallixta had earlier followed the call quest that gave her a rocket ride to the initial Badlands questing hub. She ran through a few, including the hilarious Goat Nudging quest! I didn't notice the timed achievement before moving on. I was already out-leveling the badlands and wanted to move on. I managed to finish Explore Badlands before continuing west.

Searing Gorge

Kallixta didn't bother completing any of the quests at the initial hub on the Badlands border, but just hurried on to Thorium Point. She had leveled to 48 and I wanted to fly to Ironforge and do a bit of administration, like training. I actually continued on to Stormwind and did the fishing and cooking quests, picking up 5 Daily Quests by accident. It all made for a good stopping point for a Friday Night.

Day Forty Two - 8 Jan 2011

Dire Maul - East

     I had hopes that my research had prepared me for Dire Maul - East, aka Warpwood Quarter. The group wasn't much for talking as we gathered all those initial quests. The second quest giver was far enough over that someone drew a mob and before I was really ready, we were off and running. I think that must have been how we missed the imp.
     Just as we rounded the next corner, the healer stated he needed to go AFK for a few minutes, but I didn't notice and I don't know that anybody else did, until the next mob pack hit us and I died faster than I could hit 'lay on hands'. The healer was far enough behind that he survived the wipe. Since I had missed the message, I didn't want to complain too much. I hadn't finished recovering my mana before we were back to fighting mobs. This and the time since my last dungeon are my excuses for forgetting about Righteous Defense for the next couple mob groups. That was even more embarassing than the death.

     I was still trying to find the Imp, Pusillin, but it was clear nobody else had bothered to research the dungeon. They were all set to go on and already complaining about how long the dungeon was taking! We got to the dead end of the Hidden Reach without finding the Imp, as I tried to explain how we should have been following him. Nobody remembers talking to him. I led the group back to Hydrospawn and the other middle bosses, who all seemed to fall quickly enough to me, but not quickly enough for some puggers that dropped group.

     Nobody else knew that we needed to chat with Old Ironbark to get him to break down the door. We backtracked to the courtyard, somehow missing the stairs that led there. We dropped down into the courtyard and I found the old Ancient and got him pointed in the right direction. It didn't take long after that before Alzzin fell. I had gotten Waveslicer from Hydrospawn, which will help with my PvE questing, but nothing dropped for a tank.

     I was trying to run back to the quest givers, but the route wasn't obvious. Luckily the last party member hadn't dropped group before reminding me that I could just "Leave Dungeon" and return back at the beginning! Doh!

     Hopefully, I'm learning from all these little mistakes. And finally, I didn't get an achievement for this run, merely one step in the King of Dire Maul achievement.

Eastern Plaguelands Questing
     With the dust cleared off and the reminder of the importance of a tank to research a dungeon before I queued for something else, I decided to do a bit of questing. I ran through the first half of the Eastern Plaguelands storyline, getting to Light's Hope Chapel and level 46! It's much, much faster to level by questing now. I need to dungeon to ensure my tanking skills stay current, but my interest in running to 85 is by most any means right now.
     Partial Achievements:

     Besides the levelling, Kallixta also did a bunch of crafting. Aldonza managed to pick up a bunch of very cheap mithril ore and with the level change, I knew I could improve some of my crafted armor. After smelting the mithril, and with Aldonza help, I also grabbed some cheap Thorium and Truesilver. This resulted in my Mining improving up to 288 / 300. As a reminder, Kallixta is currently on a vanilla WoW account and can't train Master Mining until I buy Burning Crusade.
     With all this mithril and thorium, I also improved my Blacksmithing. I knocked off a bunch of inexpensive mithril plate items that I don't expect to get full return on the investment. Aldonza did pay 200 gold for the Mithril Shield Spike plans and I pumped out a few of those, albeit not for skill leveling. I wanted at least one spike for myself foremost and I think I can probably pay back the investment in the recipe. With the Truesilver bars, I produced a bunch of enchater's rods. I expect a profit there as I post one or two at a time. Finally, I've started making some of the Thorium items. I equipped the belt and chest piece already and have another piece crafted, but banked until I ding again. This all led me to level Blacksmithing up to 265 / 300. I shouldn't need to tinker with this much more until after I upgrade the account.
     I've already mentioned the Thorium Belt and Armor plus the Wyrmslayer Spaulders before. I recently picked up Omarion's Gift on one of those Eastern Plagueland quests, filling in my second trinket. She qualifies as 'all plate' now, something I hadn't paid close attention to until now. The new Armory tells me she averages equipment level 41 and only 3 items are unenchanted: head, shoulders and 1-hand weapon.
Kallixta with her new equipment, not that you can see the armor and belt
Next Steps
     I want to complete these and the other two wings of Dire Maul, but I need to remind myself, they are mandatory. Kallixta isn't the completionist! Meanwhile, I'll research the other two wings of Dire Maul, plus Scholomance and Stratholme. I'm looking forward to playing with Kallixta after all this time!

Days Thirty Seven to Forty One - December 2010

Day Thirty Seven - 26 Nov 2010

Kallixta managed a brief appearances for Pilgrim's Bounty. The show was not for the purpose of achievements, although she did manage Sharing is Caring. The purpose was to take advantage of the unique opportunity to increase her cooking skill. Just by bouncing between the capitals, I managed to run her cooking up to 300, the highest she can get at this time. To learn Master level cooking, I'll need to upgrade her account to include Burning Crusade.

A side effect of accomplishing some of those Pilgrim's Bounty quests was to ding level 42!

Day Thirty Eight - 6 Dec 2010

Kayyos cycled through most of our characters to ensure they got the WoW's 6th Anniversary achievement, including Kallixta.

Day Thirty Nine - 21 Dec 2010

I had been researching the new Protection rotation and some macros to support the change. Until these were done and practiced, I'm avoiding Kallixta. With the holiday time, I thought I'd give it some time. While logged on, I realized she's riding slower than needed, so I grabbed Fast and Furious, journeyman riding.

Day Forty - 25 Dec 2010

Merry Christmas! While the kids were playing things like Epic Mickey, noone was on the laptop this afternoon. It gave me a chance to do things like open presents online! He knows If You've Been Naughty.

Day Forty One - 27 Dec 2010

After practicing with the new macros and rotation, I wanted to put it to use. Reviewing Kallixta's equipment and enchants, I realized I still had mail on her Wrist, Waist and Feet! While working at correcting this, I spotted Wyrmslayer Spaulders for cheap on the Auction House.

Ready for adventure, I discovered I've levelled out of Pristine Waters! I needed to research the other dungeons before attempting to tank.

Ragefire Chasm, but not a Guild Run

Breasal, Rainshine and Kallifornia went to Ragefire Chasm this weekend. It had been too long since my shaman had exercised, but now the dust has been brushed off. Trying to be accomodating, I went as a DPS while the feral druid was the healer and the ret pally was the tank.

Something about that is just wrong, yet at this level it didn't give us much trouble (as long as we didn't do anything stupid). I think I threw one heal when Breasal needed a bit of extra, but it probably wasn't really necessary. Instead I spent most of the run trying to improve my DPS. I know I managed to greatly increase it by the end of the run as I remembered things that had rusted over. The circling balls of Earth Shield and Lightning Shield also provided some fun as the kitty druid wanted to pounce on the shiny ball. She's actually pretty good at. That probably is an important skill to practice for RP!

Ragefire Chasm, Defeat Taragaman the Hungerer.

About the others that joined us, I'll spend a few words about the hunter. He didn't have a pet and seemed, I don't know, proud that he didn't? It seemed to me that he stole threat from the tank far too often, and then kited the mob away. It never killed him, but it struck me as a terrible habit to get into. Maybe Breasal can tell me his impressions.

That Hunter did manage to get us to the optional bosses, which we might not have without him, but there was no way we should jump off the balcony into the final boss fight. I think we did those two as a four man and still didn't really have much trouble. Why can't I remember that? It seems like something that I should still recall after only a couple days.

So big thanks to Breasal and Rainshine for a fun run and a good opportunity to return to my shaman.

Communal Laptops

I'm part of a large household of computer game players. We have a total of 3 working laptops, 2 working desktops and a few more computers that for one reason or another aren't working, but could. We have a total of 5 family members and a few close friends, any of which might be on one of these computers.

There isn't one computer dedicated to my WOW play.

The best computer right now is Syylia's new laptop. I love playing WOW on it, but it'll disappear in another month when she goes off to teach in Korea for a spell. And she'll be taking the laptop with her and play WOW there. And Skype home and all that other stuff. This means I must not let myself become dependent on her machine. I recently installed Ventrilo and now realize I must take it off. She doesn't use it or like it.

My older boy is the one that got us into WOW, but his interests have moved on. WOW is on his laptop, but the machine is up in his room, as is one of the desktops. Those two machines aren't easily available to me.

The old desktop ran WOW until 4.0.1 came out. Now it no longer meets requirements. The old graphics card is at fault, I think. It shouldn't take much to upgrade, but I can't easily justify elevating that in all the priorities.

That leaves "the old laptop". It was a leading edge machine a few years ago, but y'all know what that means. It now overheats easily; the power cord is fraying; the battery won't hold a charge; and the hinge is dying. So it isn't so much a laptop as a small desktop with a flat-screen monitor that can flop down. This was Syylia's old laptop and sometimes we'll refer to it as my younger son's, but it's like an embarassing hand-me-down shirt that's out of style. He really deserves a better machine. That's one of those budget items with higher priority than the desktop graphics card upgrade.

Kayyos plays WOW. He's a 13 year old boy that loves playing his Death Knight with friends. He may reach 85 soon, but he won't be ready for Heroics, never mind raiding. We compete over computer time, although we'd like to play a pair of characters together. He's going to miss Syylia's laptop even more than me.

One of the non-working machines is my wife's laptop. Her machine technically runs, but the hinge broke and the frame around the screen has fallen apart. It can't be used or repaired. A replacement for it has even higher priority in the budget.

So for now, I'll be using "the old laptop", despite the loud noise from it's hard drive. I can put any add-on I like on it. If I want to re-map the keyboard, I could, although then Kayyos will complain, but in theory I could do that and might yet.

I've noticed other folks talking about the problems with their machine and upgrades, but you don't read too many blogs talking about fights over machines. I'm guessing most folks have clearer ownership of machines. In our house, they're a bit more community property. The gaming systems here have a similar status. The PS3 and Wii are officially my older boy's, but they're set up in the family room and everybody wants game time. The XBox is Syylia's, but of similar status. My wife's games tend to run on the Wii. Animal Crossing and Harvest Moon are her favorites. The older systems, like the GameCubes, have drifted to individual's bedrooms. Since Christmas, the most popular game has been "Plants vs. Zombies", more even than Epic Mickey, and they've left the laptops much freer in schedule, but that won't last.

Well, enough rambling.

Return to Ulduar

The holidays didn't provide me with a huge amount of extra time on WOW, just a more relaxed time, so Martuska is at 84.75. Without finishing Twilight Highlands, I've only got a few of the top-end quest items. It all looks so much better than Tier 10, I hadn't realized I wasn't keeping up on my Hit cap. How many of you have discovered that old WOTLK raids aren't as easy as you remembered?

For New Year's eve, my guild wanted to try something fun and easy, considering it likely some folks were likely alcohol-inhibited. There was debate about were to go and interest centered on Ulduar. We filled the 10-man, but didn't quite make it to 17 or 18, whichever the number needed to make it an official Guild 25 man run.

I'd done the weekly to Razorscale twice before, so I had some experience, but it was my first time on top of the Flame Leviathon. So now I got the turret achievement, Shutdown and Unbroken for 25-man! Since prior visits turned for Razorscale, this was my first visit to XT-002 and we managed Nerf Gravity Bombs. Kologorn was surprisingly easy under the careful instruction of our raid leadership.

That brought us to the crazy cat lady. The fight is complicated and plenty of us made mistakes. I spent a lot of time ensuring I was in the correct place and targetting the correct target. I found out just how squishy I could be. The wiped once, but managed our Auriaya kill correctly on our second try.

Finally, we got to Hodir. And that's were we ended our night. The first wipe was amazingly quick. We tried shifting those DPS with Healing off-specs to help us live longer. The second wipes made it clear that with only 15 or 16 in the raid, we just didn't have the DPS.