Friday, February 13, 2009


A few weeks ago (after almost 2 months exactly of Wrath), my Rogue was level 80 and the only available upgrades are located in the 25-man instances.

Even those upgrades are few and far because most of my non-tier pieces are iLevel 213. My current guild runs 25-man content on Saturday (we full cleared Naxx 25 last Saturday for the first time), so my Rogue really only has the opportunity to “progress” one or two days a week.

That’s pretty unusual. In Burning Crusade, I ran a lot of Heroics. The badge gear was good and it seemed I could never have enough badges for the gear I wanted to buy. But in Wrath, Heroics are quite a bit less important.

In fact, the Emblems are so useless to me nowadays that I haven’t even bothered to do any 10-man or Heroic content outside of Sarth and Malygos in several weeks.

The Mage
And so about three weeks ago, I decided to burn all those excess emblems (and Stone Keeper shards) on some of the Bind on Account items that you can mail to an alt on the same server.

The problem was that all I had on the server was a level 58 Deathknight and a level 2 Bank Alt. I also have a 70 warrior I could have transferred, but I really had no interest in playing another melee class.

Ironically, I fell back to my Warhammer days when I dual-leveled an Archmage (healer) and Bright Wizard (range DPS). The Archmage was my “main” in Warhammer, but if I was being honest with myself – I kinda sucked as a healer. I’m a bit hard on myself, but my good buddy has been playing a healer since Everquest and compared to him I was pathetic.

But on the Bright Wizard... Well, I was epic DPS on the Bright Wizard. And nasty as hell to fight in the Warhammer Scenarios. I loved simply loved playing Range DPS.

The only problem is that WoW doesn’t really have a class exactly the same as a Bright Wizard. Particularly since I was DoT-specced and the closest thing that WoW has to that spec is an Affliction Warlock. And honestly, the idea of playing a Warlock didn’t have a lot of appeal to me. The pet seemed like a pain in the ass and even worse, you need to carry around and collect all these stupid soul shards. Ick.

And so I decided to cash in all those Emblems for gear for a newly created mage. And I have to tell you, with the BoA shoulders and a BoA staff at level 5, I was a pretty badass little mage. I’d like to say that I had the gear at level 1, but I picked up a few quick levels before making it to a mailbox. Eventually, my little mage got the BoA trinket as well, but not until about the mid-30s.

That was on January 12th. One month later, I’m just shy of level 74.

Early Levels
I didn’t use any refer-a-friend tricks for leveling, so outside of the 10% exp bonus from the shoulders, leveling has been fairly “normal” for my mage.

Surprisingly, the old world leveling didn’t bother me that much. In part, I think this is because I specifically focused on NOT doing any of the Neutral faction questing. I had a goal to get the wolf mount for my blood elf by level 60 (since I hate all but the birds except the black one), so I pretty much avoided any Neutral quest that wasn’t really convenient.

Basically, this amounted to doing the Ratchet quests and ignoring Shimmering Flats, Mudsprocket, Gadgetstan, Everlook and Booty Bay. I actually hit Exalted with Org well before 60 (around 51 or 52) in part because I also started picking up Coins of Ancestry which provide +75 faction to all five major Horde factions.

Burning Crusade
I made the transition to Outlands at level 58. Perhaps the most fascinating part about leveling this mage is how completely insignificant the whole BC expansion felt to me. It was just something I tried to level through as quickly as possible.

On previous characters, I painstakingly completed 80-90% of the quests in each Outland zone (usually before going to the next zone). In large part, this was because I wanted the faction. And more importantly, I wanted to save some of the higher level quests for when I hit 70 and could use them to farm some gold for my flyer.

But with BC faction and quests irrelevant at level 80, I tackled the content instead with the objective of getting through it as quickly as possible. That meant skipping any lengthy or pain in the ass quest or chain. I only did about 50% of those zone I quested. I didn’t even visit Blade’s Edge Mountains or Netherstorm (I still don’t even have the flight paths).

At level 68, I left Outland and went to Northrend. It reminded me of how you skip all the old world Level 60 content to jump into Outland at 58. Likewise, I just skipped all BC level 70 content (including entire zones) and just hopped over to Northrend.

Northrend – The Hell Levels
Entering Northrend at level 68 with what amounts to level 65 gear from Nagrand was a bit difficult for about half a level. Once I started getting some quest rewards, things got a lot easier and by the time I hit 69 I was pretty well geared with iLevel 134 or higher items. Tier 4 epics in BC were around 128, so that’s good enough gear to be decently equipped.

Then a really startling thing happened at Level 70. The game sloooowed down.

I mean I was really leveling quickly. I think on average, when I look at the achievements, I was pretty consistent and gained about 10 levels every 4 or 5 real life days. That’s better than 2 levels per day.

I hit 70 maybe a week ago and I’m only now turning Level 74. That’s a bit better than half a level a day. If you think of “progress” as levels earned, my average gain decreased by 75% from my pre-Wrath leveling average.

On the plus side, I do know that things will speed up again at or around level 77 when I get the flyer. Still, these levels in the 70s are a pretty big and unwelcome change.

Wrath Gear
One thing I "am" enjoying about leveling up my badly geared mage is that I actually *do* find upgrades. Pretty frequently too.

On my epic geared Rogue, it really bothered me that my level 70 gear was better than almost every piece of gear I could find until level 80.

It really sucks to watch your gear degrade due to itemization scaling and being offered no replacement gear. I'd rather my "epic" just go into the bank at level 72 than to see it go through a slow, painful, and ultimately desperate death.