Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Double Coupon Tuesday!

Life, as usual, got in the way yesterday. So I'm going to make up for the lack of post with two - count 'em, two! - posts today, all for the same low, low price of free.

Aeven's about halfway to level 68 now. Yep, in the time since my last post - a mere few days - she's picked up almost two levels. She wrapped up all the soloable quests in Nagrand, and when all she had left in her quest log was group quests, she bailed and headed for Terokkar Forest. A few quests there let her ding 67, and a few hours later, she was more than halfway to level 68.

That's not with any amazingly long sessions, either. I'd estimate that it represents about 10 hours playtime over the course of 4 days. Additionally, remember that Aeven is leveling without the benifit of XP-bonus heirloom items; neither does she have the advantage of recruit-a-friend XP.

So what gives? Why's she leveling so quickly? My first time through the Outlands, on my Human mage, was just prior to Wrath. It took me about 6 weeks, and I didn't hit 68 until I had run through most of Blade's Edge and Shadowmoon Valley. My second trip to the Outlands was on my Dwarf priest, fully tricked out in heirloom items. That 20% XP bonus let him tear through there quickly - a month in Hellfire/Zangarmarsh/Terokkar/Shadowmoon, and he was ready for Northrend.

Aeven's time from level 60 to level 68? Eleven days. Given the pace she's going at, I'd expect her to hit 70 and head for Northrend in less than two weeks total real world time in the Outlands. That would be about 35-40 hours total playtime.

I've been thinking about this, and there's a couple of explanations.

Buffs! While I can't find a reference, I'm pretty sure that Blizzard mentioned something about adjusting things to make leveling through BC content easier when Wrath was released. So that's one factor, although probably not a huge one. Bumping XP gains from leveling by 10% or so in Outland is a nice bonus, but it doesn't account for halving the time it takes to reach 68.

Rest! Because she doesn't have any XP-bonus heirlooms, I've made sure that Aeven gets a good night's sleep in a city or an inn at the end of every day. Sure, it's a minor buff to XP gain from killing critters and creatures... but I think you'd be surprised at how long that buff lasts these days. Yesterday, after about 2 full real-time days of rest, Aeven kept earning rested XP for just about three hours of play time. That was pretty much my entire session for the evening. Most of her XP gain came from turning in quests, but when she did get XP for killing mobs, she was getting the bonus XP for being rested. Beauty sleep really does help, apparently.

Flight! One huge difference between leveling my mage and priest and leveling Aeven is that, once she hit Hellfire Peninsula, she was able to train for and purchase a flying mount right off the bat. Being able to fly as soon as you enter Outland makes for a vastly different leveling experience.

Remember all those times you had to slog through umpteen-zillion hellboars, uphill, in the lava, just to reach your quest objective - then fight your way back through them to turn in the quest? Just fly over them! Those mountains and walls and other obstacles you had to detour around every time you went from one place to another? Fly over them! Overall, I think I've used my charger once or twice in Outland, and that's been purely by accident.

Knowledge! Here's where I think the real advantage is. I've been through Outland twice already. Well, two and a half times - my Human death knight alchemist is sitting in Shattrath at the moment. Thanks to that, I know where the quest hubs are. The last two times, when I hit a zone, I did the quests at the first hub. Somewhere along the line, I'd get a breadcrumb quest leading to a second hub... and so on, and so on.

With Aeven, when I hit a zone, the first thing I do have her hop on her griffon and buzz about like a maniac, picking up every quest she's eligible for. Fifteen minutes later, she's got a quest log jam-packed full of all the things to do in the zone. Take Nagrand, for instance - she immediately hit Telaar, Aeris landing, the Throne of Elements, and Nessigwary's camp. She ended up with a total of about 18-20 Nagrand quests in her log. At that point, pretty much anything she kills, collects, or does in the zone is helping her complete some quest, which means she's racking up the XP about as quickly as she can kill things. A few hours of running around, and instead of 3-4 quests completed, she's got a dozen to turn in at once. At which point she picks up whatever follow-on quests there are, keeping her quest log full, which keeps that questing XP rolling in steadily.

The frantic pace of leveling has had one significant impact: Aeven has yet to step foot in a BC dungeon. Quite honestly, I'm a bit tentative about it. She's still not assembled a full set of tarnished plate, which means that - aside from the minor armor upgrades that new plate would provide - most of her gear can't carry BC enchantments. So she's operating at less than peak potential, which is rather important when your gear is all vendor trash.

Given that, once she hit's level 68, she'll loose LFD access to some of the initial Outland dungeon instances, I'm thinking that it's time to bite the bullet and take my chances on a random dungeon group. Before I do that, though, I may try to pull together a group myself, just to see how hard tanking in an Outland dungeon might be before I inflict Aeven upon the inevitable pack of unsuspecting blood DKs that LFD will pair her with.

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