Heirlooms And Servers

When the notes on Patch 4.1 were released, people were elated since Blizzard was finally making BoA items exactly that – account. Unfortunately, reading it closer brought that dream crashing to the ground again.

Courtesy of mmo-champion

Instead of finally being able to help out our alts on other servers, Blizzard instead gave us the opportunity to transfer BoA gear to toons on other accounts that are under the same battle.net ID.  So, unless you are a boxer, you’re really not benefitting from it.  Blizzard’s official comment is they are “working on it” when it comes to server transferring of heirlooms.  That means we could have the feature next week or never, and I would honestly buy into the latter.

Don’t take this as a tinfoil hat conspiracy, because it’s not.  I just thought about the process rationally today and it makes sense not to make this feature available.  A great source of income for Blizzard is character server transfers.  People change servers for a myriad of reasons and many want to take their toons with them, one of which is the idea of 1-85 all over again having no appeal (largely because of the time factor).  Using a close friend of mine, he says he would level his Alliance alts on my server (his main Horde toons are elsewhere) if he could give them all the heirlooms he acquired pre-Cata.  You can probably see now where I’m going with this.  If BoA items are able to be moved to characters on other servers, it reduces the desire to pay to transfer characters.  Sure, those 85’s are quite often still going to pay to leave regardless, but there are a good number of people who will not.  From the model of a business, why would you shoot yourself in the foot like that?

Now, if Blizzard really does want to make the cross server dream a reality, there is another option.   All but never happening is to treat them like the sparkle pony and vanity pets from the shop.  If you buy the item on any server, any time you have a single character on a server, it receives those BoA’s in the mail just like vanity pets do.  Or, make it really easy by having them show up on any Death Knight you roll (since you can only have one on a server).

Am I just fantasizing at this point?  Absolutely.  I can’t imagine Blizzard ever adopting that idea.  But as the days go by, I find it harder to believe Blizzard will truly adopt (and implement) the phrase BoA when it comes to gear.

Fast & The Furious (Or How To Level The Fastest)

There are a number of folk who can’t stand leveling characters.  I’m sure even with all the new content, there are many out there who would love nothing more than to be sitting at 80 with a new toon, and then reach 85 for the end game content.  I’m not one of them, but for those who want to basically get leveling “out of the way” it has never been easier.

There’s the obvious reduction in XP needed to get through Northrend (20%), and that happens to the previous leveling bracket every time a new one arrives.  More importantly than that, though, is a simple combination:  heirloom items and gathering professions.

People have always said to take two of the three gathering professions on a new character because they will generate money for you.  This is true, but I argue you can make money faster by not gathering.  However, this column isn’t about that.  Instead, I’m urging any of you “burn through leveling” folks to take gathering professions -specifically mining and herbalism.  Earlier this year Blizzard changed things a bit by offering experience for picking flowers or mining nodes (sorry skinners, Blizzard figures you got the XP in what you killed in the first place).  So, while booting around you get extra experience just for grabbing what’s in front of you.  The problem people had with the combo I’m suggesting was that you only ever had the ability to track one or the other on your minimap.  Queue another recent change by Blizz that allows you to mark several things on your map.  That includes both Ore and Herbs.  Hello!  Again, you’re only grabbing what’s already in your path.

The other part of the formula is heirlooms, which should be a no-brainer.  Currently you can obtain XP granting gear for shoulders and chests.  There’s more to come in Cataclysm, but let’s focus just on what we have now.  As it stands, two items will grant you 10% each.  That’s 20%, or needing a fifth less time to level.  That’s on quests, kills, exploration, and…you guessed it, gathering. 

To make it even easier for you, Blizzard has now placed questgivers in the instance they need you to go, either at the start or during.  So the first time you hit a new dungeon using the Looking For Dungeon finder, you’ll be able to knock off some quests as well.

Whether you hate level grinding or just have that one toon you want endgame and raiding, Blizzard has made it incredibly fast and easy to do so.  Start now and you’ll be at 85 before you know it and ready for the good stuff.

Cataclysm Preparation Part II: New Characters

This is my BOOMSTICK!

Yesterday we looked at things to do with your existing characters prior to the expansion’s arrival.  Today, it’s the characters you’ve yet to make.

1. Bookmark Your Name(s)!
For some people, this isn’t really that important. For others, the name of your toon is very important. So, roll a placemark toon with that name so that no one else takes it on you. Then, you can delete the toon and immediate roll the new one you originally wanted to have that name. For example, the day Cataclysm was announced, I took Horrux for my Worgen. He’s currently a level one Draenie Priest. I considered Weethrall for a Goblin Shaman, but ultimately passed (even though it was available). Bottom line is if name is important to you, you should already have it.

2. Netherweave Bags
Whether you have a tailor that can make them, or you have to buy the mats yourself, start stockpiling now. To begin with, bag space is brutal when you’re starting out so having bags readily available is a huge boon. You might be thinking Frostweave Bags hold more and that is quite true. However, for an extra four slots you’re paying five times the gold. Speaking of gold, another reason to stockpile these is because people will be buying them off the proverbial shelf if they don’t have a tailor. Consider it an investment if you will.

3. Avoid New Hotness
If you were around for the launch of Wrath of the Lich King, you know the new leveling zones drew out the worst in people. It was shiv your ally when they weren’t looking…just to get that much further in leveling. In short, it was chaotic. I decided when it was late at night on my server to go roll a Death Knight. It was a wise move then. This time around, Worgen and Goblin zones are going to be insane with people. The new leveling areas won’t be any better for the first couple weeks. If you don’t want any insanity, I’d suggest taking one of the new race/class combos and trying that out.

4. Roll One Of Every Race
Even if you don’t end up playing them, roll every race once. The start zones have been completely overhauled and are said to be amazing. Even the narrations have changed. You owe it to yourself to experience each one once.

5. To Heirloom Or Not To Heirloom
I talked briefly about heirlooms yesterday, but applies more to future toons. Should you get them or not? Personally, I am going to have at least one character that won’t use them because I want to take my time through the new content. Each of us is different in this regard, and the choice is ultimately yours. But if you want to level somewhat faster, then you need to be considering heirlooms now.

6. Money
Another repeat idea, but it applies for new characters as well as existing ones. It could be Azeroth flying when they’re ready, a regular mount, or even professions. Simply put, it wouldn’t hurt to have a little gold set aside for your new characters to have to play with.

7. Server Space
I mentioned server transfers yesterday in terms of your current characters, but also consider whether you have room on your current server to roll that new character you want so badly. For some it might not matter, but others might want their new Goblin playing with their main’s guild. Whether you need to make a transfer or delete a toon you should still be thinking about it. If you do delete one, be sure to sell off and transfer the money to one that’s sticking around.

8. Purpose Planning
It sounds odd, but think about what this new toon is going to be for. Are you planning to raid with it endgame? PvP? Some professions you don’t have? What spec might you be leaning towards? Answering these can allow you to do some things prior to the expansion to make it easier. If your Worgen is going to be a Scribe, then getting some cheap herbs (or farming them) will help you on that road faster. Or perhaps some crafted twink gear for that Undead Hunter.

9. How Will You RP?
Much like yesterday’s column, a suggestion for the RP folk. New characters to play means new characters to become. Again, how did they get to where they are and where are they headed? This is the biggest in game event to date for World of Warcraft and the roleplaying opportunity of a lifetime.

10. Stop And Smell The Roses
This applies not only to your new toons, but anything you do in the new expansion. Take your time with it, if you can. Blizzard has gone to great lengths to overhaul the game and world as we know it. From quests to new character options to blowing up the landscape. There’s just so much, and slowing down to “experience” it rather than just having it in the background is something everyone should do at some point.

The new expansion is officially less than two months away now.  These are just some little things you can do to get that new toon (or toons) off and running on December 7th.  Like kids in a candy store, we want to try it all and thinking about what to try first can make it taste that much sweeter.

Cataclysm Preparation Part I: Existing Characters

Some of this has got to go!

Today is the first half of things to consider as Cataclysm approaches.  Tomorrow we’ll look at planning for new toons, but for now it’s the ones you already have.

1. Clean up your bank(s).
Take it from me, at least one of your toons has items in their bank that make you wonder why they’re even there.  In the case of my 66 Hunter, it was a level one cooking recipe.  He doesn’t even cook.  Sure, that’s a drastic example, but you are bound to find things that have gathered too much dust or simply shouldn’t be there in the first place.  Now is a good time to sell those items, either on the Auction House or simply a vendor.  You’re going to want to check out the new goods come the expansion so a little housekeeping now means less or none later.

2. Don’t respec.
It’s only a matter of time before the next big patch before Cataclysm hits.  With it will be all the new talents and talent tree systems.  It could come next week for all we know.  Even if it doesn’t, it is an eventuality and that also means your talents are going to be reset when that time does come.  So why pay for it now?  This is especially true for Hunters who are really seeing changes coming down the pipe.

3. Stop checking your gearscore.
Unless you really, really, really, really, really, really want to down Arthas before Catacylsm hits, the gear your toon has is a moot point. Just as in its predecessors, this expansion’s greens are going to outweigh some purples. If you’re going to do anything with Emblems, I’d actually suggest heirlooms or waiting to see how many Justice Points you get when they’re converted.

4. Heirlooms
This is a tough one. Depending who you talk to, you should get them now. Others say wait. Me? I say get them now if you’ve got the emblems. Again, you may end up with less value in doing it now…but isn’t that better than ending up with less after?

5.  Server Transfers
Some people like Feats of Strength and more importantly “server firsts.” If that matters to you, I’d suggest transferring to a low-population one to increase your chances. From a different approach, if you happen to be on a server where queue times exist just think how much worse they’re going to be when the expansion hits. Amidst all of the chaos you can be assured character transfers won’t be as high of a priority for Blizzard at that time.

6. Achievements
I mentioned a couple yesterday, but there are plenty more that will no longer be viable come Cataclysm. Scholomance, for example, is going to become a level 35-40 instance. Unarmed skill points are being removed so the Knuckle Sandwich achievement will be gone too. If this is an aspect of the game that’s important to you, get cracking.

7. That Money, Money…Yeah, Yeah.
If there’s one thing you really should do before December hits, it’s build a little gold coffer for yourself. Sure most people have some set aside, but how much? Personally, I’d recommend 500g for each character you want to be able to fly in Azeroth.  It’s being hyped through the roof, but you can bet it won’t be free.  Do I think it will be that much?  Not likely.  But I’d rather have more than enough, than be short.

8. Evaluate Your Professions.
This one’s pretty simple. If you’re over 400 in a skill, I would suggest maxing it out. For one, people will be dumping supplies (which you should not be doing when you’re cleaning your bank up) and that means the cost will be lower. Add in the mats won’t be farmed as much come Cataclysm and it’s just more cost and time efficient to do now. If you’re below 400, I would simply wait. Profession leveling is going to be made easier in Cataclysm because you can get multiple points from making the harder recipes. Thus less mats and time needed.

9. What Do You Plan To Do When Cataclysm Hits?
A little planning for your character is important, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this in the first place. But really think about it. Are you going to quest? Fly around? Personally my miner is going to farm the new mats like crazy and profit off the people who have to have the new recipes and gear immediately. I might even keep some for my Jewelcrafting, but that’s the secondary plan. Sure, it sounds trivial, but everyone tries to get the most out of things that they can and in the early days that’s what you’ll want to do. So thinking about that now helps.

10. How Will Your Character React?
This is one for the RP players. The world, and the people you know in it, are all about to change. Where will you be when it happens? How will you react. This doesn’t even begin to discuss changes that are coming in the factions and races. A good RP person will have some ideas but it’s easier to play out when you’ve rehearsed the part a bit.

There you have it.  Ten things to think about for your existing characters as Cataclysm sits on the morning horizon.  None of these are must do ideas.  They are merely things to consider between now and then.  You might like them all, or you might only think one is worth your time, but remember hindsight is 20/20.

Wielding The Light With Tumunzahar

Holy Priest, Tumunzahar

Ah, my fun-lovin’ Dwarf Priest. Remember the song from Toy Story? Randy Newman singing away? That’s what I hear when I boot around with my original toon.

Tum was originally rolled on Maelstrom, an RP-PvP server. This was my introduction to the game. A couple of friends were talking about their guild and trying to run Deadmines (this was ALL jibberish to me at the time), but they only had 4 guys. After some talk, I agreed to give it a try (which is the first mistake we all make). They told me I could roll anything, so long as it was Gnome or Dwarf. From D&D days, the Dwarf was the better choice for me.

I looked at classes and was immediately frustrated to see the Dwarf race did not have Mage as an option…but could be a Rogue. To this day I say WTF???? Second option, for me, was healing. I had no problem with the fun of playing a healer. In fact, I kinda relished it.

I started him up and as the overwhelming sensation of the game slowly subsided, I grooved into Holy. I read Shadow was better for leveling, and then doing a respec later. This was not for me. When I roll a character, I put my creative juices into it and play it a certain way (you’ll see this more as I discuss others). Tum has been, and always will be, Holy. Right to 80.

The reason I changed servers with him, was actually a couple of reasons -nice explanation, I know. Clear as mud. I started Siori around this time last year (more on her later) and she quickly got more play time than my little buddy did. Tum got booted from the guild, even though I made a point of being on at least once a week. I was invited back twice. No one ever game me an explanation as to why it happened, and I still don’t know. After I got kicked the third time, I stripped him down and sold everything he had. 54g. Not much, but it made a world of difference to the level 4 Gnome I walked up to and handed it to.

In modern times, unfortunately, he’s at the same level as Liouxpold and Elcombe, so I try to only bust him out when I can get into an instance and Heal. Of course, now that Siori snagged an Heirloom that all my toons can use, I might grind him a bit more.

The only tough thing about Tum was that I rolled him as a Miner/Jewelcrafter. If you haven’t taken Jewelcrafting with a toon I’ll tell you right now it’s a pain in the ass in the middle stages. Most of what you make, you take a loss on. However, Blizzard has done a tremendous job of making Jewelcrafting a profitable profession come end game. Now I just need to get his mining up…