The Mighty Boost

With the announcement of BfA came the inevitable news that we would all be receiving a free level 110 boost along with the release. This is now expected with every increase of level cap, theoretically to allow a new player to jump in and start playing the new content immediately. Or maybe it’s for luring lapsed players, tempting them back with the offer of immediately playing with their still subbed friends.

Neither of which makes a lot of sense. If you’re a new player, than you would be much, much better off starting from the very start. MMOs have an overwhelming number of systems and mechanics to learn, and the idea that a brand new player could – or should – start close to level cap seems counter productive. The most likely result is feeling lost, confused, and unlikely to continue. Compare that to levelling from scratch, discovering the world and your class as you quest, and experiencing the wonder of the MMO genre. I can’t imagine playing GW2 or LotR or SWtoR, games I’m far less familiar with, and starting anywhere but at the beginning.

Similarly for lapsed players, the rust takes a while to shed, and chances are you would be better served rolling a fresh character and feeling your way back into the game. With levelling pathways so streamlined and rapid, even without heirlooms, there’s no reason not to. And if you are playing with friends, the recruit-a-friend mechanic should be tempting enough to get them to help you speed your way to the top.


Which leaves us with existing players. Perhaps that’s who these boosts are targeted at? A bonus auction mule, or crafting specialist, or gathering bot. That’s the only reason I can think they might be tempting. If you’re already playing, you’ll have favourite characters and are unlikely to want to roll something brand new.

I’ve had boosts for the last few expansions, and used them eventually, but found that as soon as I boost a character I never play it again. During Warlords I developed a plan to level a couple of alts in order to have a full complement of crafters. The boost mechanic meant that if you were level 60, and had any level of profession, your profession level would be boosted to max along with your character. So I dutifully levelled a Herbalist/Alchemist Druid and a Mining/Blacksmithing Paladin, and boosted them to 90.

The problem was that once I logged on to them I didn’t recognise who they were. Weird armour, strange abilities, meaningless action bars.

I have a feeling we’ll meet again

I think the problem is I tend to invest in the story and mythology of each character I level, so skipping 30-40 levels of those experiences means the characters become strangers. I don’t know them, and they don’t know me. Compare that to all the many alts and several max level characters, who are all someone in my head, and who I can’t face deleting even though many are long parked. A level 10 Rogue who server transferred several times just to snatch some twink trinkets. Two stalled level 60 Paladins (hello, Hellfire Pennisula!), a Tauren and a Blood Elf, each seeking their own interpretation of using the Paladin’s light.

You could argue that these are pointless characters given they’re not playing endgame, nor ever likely to, but I agree with Bhagpuss: “Sometimes the sheer fun of doing something is all it takes to make something worth doing”.

Preparing for a cataclysm

Like Syp, I would often level tanks through dungeons, enjoying the low level leadership and fast pace of levelling. And it does give you some sense of story, even if it’s contained to instanced events. But I recently decided to take a Bear Druid via the same less travelled path, eschewing heirloom armour, choosing levelling zones to play and finish, and avoiding dungeons.

It’s slower, but not terribly much, and far more interesting. You meet characters of great lore and history (note Sylvanas and Deathwing above, both encountered through levelling), and many of the quests are extremely well designed – Garrosh Hellscream’s story in Stonetalon manages the nigh-impossible feat of making him seem like a reasonable fellow. Most of the zones are beautifully crafted, especially Northrend where I’m up to now. Bonus things like capturing unique battle pets as you travel and levelling gathering skills through each zone makes the whole exercise relaxing and entertaining. And I understand my character perfectly: the rotation, which gear to use, which skills to add to the hot bars and which to ignore.

One of these things is not like the others

Maybe the best use of a boost character is to park them near some old world rare spawns, or outside Karazhan to try for the horse each week, and treat them like the strangers they are.


After all the anticipation for Legion, and two weeks after release, I’ve managed to get to level… 100.

Yup, not a single level in two weeks. I’ve hardly logged on, and when I do it’s more to potter around Dalaran fishing and avoid making decisions. Thinking back, this seems to have happened to me for every expansion since WotLK: the xpac drops and I get totally paralysed and barely play. And each time I wish I knew why.

This time around the BM weapon being a gun really threw me. Which is patently ridiculous given transmog. Nevertheless, wanting a bow, I spent time testing a MM spec, but don’t find it that compelling and don’t like the proc-based rotation.

Next I thought maybe I should change class altogether, so I tried my Warrior in Fury spec. That was pretty fun, and the animations are top notch. Nothing like a plate-wearing huge-weapon-wielding Tauren to get the blood boiling. But melee? Healers have enough to worry about without more melee. And he’s always been a tank.

Meanwhile I lost interest in my Paladin and Druid once they boosted to 100. That’s a strange phenomenon too, though I guess it’s explained by the fact max level means you have to start grinding, unlike the constant gratification of levelling. Plus dungeon tanking at max level means a sudden escalation in expectations and low-patience from LFD queuers. I feel like the only way to play a tank is to take it from 1-100 so you know the class backwards. Bampfing to 100 has made me lose touch with the rotation and playstyle. Whoops.

A couple of friends who left back in the WotLK days have also (almost) returned, throwing more confusion into the mix. I’d like to be able to level and group with them, but they play far less frequently so there’s a waiting game there.

One other issue, which I’ve seen others express too, is not wanting to rush through the new content. I’d like to see it all, rather than sprint to 110 and start gearing. But if I want to raid then that’s pretty much the expectation, and fair enough. I guess the solution is to have a raiding main that focuses on just that (rather than on exploring the content), and a stable of alts who can meander their way to the top.

So. We finally get new stuff, and reportedly great new stuff, and instead of playing I’ve been actively avoiding it: experimenting with Project Gorgon, installing and trying The Witcher for the 4th time, playing Overwatch, speculating about Crowfall. Guild chat is alive with links to epic gear and flavour items galore, and I’m standing paralysed in Dalaran clutching my Mastercraft Kalu’ak Fishing Pole.

Totally stalled.

There’s no way I’ll be ready for raiding when it opens in a week. Which is ridiculous given my stated goal of being there at the start for once. I guess I’ll just have to wait for this malaise to pass, and join in if and when I can.


Thanks to the generosity of my guild, Frostwolves, tonight I mounted Ghostcrawler’s long promised Moose.

A moose
A moose

In a pleasant surprise, it’s also a flying moose.

As Navi said, that’s that for HFC and Draenor: Legion awaits. Really looking forward to being able to start raiding at the start, rather than at the finish.

It’s already incredibly refreshing to be camped in Orgrimmar instead of isolated in a garrison. New Dalaran should be even better!

Demonic training wheels

One of unexpectedly nice things about the Legion invasions is they give your characters – particularly alts – a great way of trying different builds and rotations in a low stress environment.

Legion invasion of Tanaris
Low stress

My boosted Paladin and Druid tanks, and neglected Rogue, can all venture out into the thick of battle and start getting a feel for the New Ways without the self inflicted fear of letting down a dungeon group or raid. And as a bonus the less geared alts pick up a full set of iLvl 700 gear, ready for the Legion levelling.

If this was part of Blizzard’s plan they deserve a round of applause.

In related news, 7.0 also introduced a new level 100 boost tutorial, making my recent post about the now antiquated level 90 boost, well, antiquated. The new method of a scenario that introduces your key abilities sounds much better, as does the new Class Trial feature that lets you play around with a class before committing.

I’m guessing Blizzard would have liked to have all this stuff in place to be ready when the movie launched, but given it wasn’t the mega success hoped for it probably didn’t matter too much that it’s being delivered late. At least the existing players get the benefits.

Boost Planning

Yesterday I finished levelling my Druid tank to 60, all through LFD runs. It’s a fun way to level, with not many repeat dungeons until the 50-60 Stratholme/Blackrock Depths/Blackrock Spire zone.

Spire is a great run – it’s long, complicated, some interesting pulls, bonus bosses, pet drops, the works. It’s a marvel of 3D mapping too, with lots of bridges and fissures where you can see the lower levels you’ve already traversed (and fall if you’re not careful). And it’s the first Dungeon where the bosses might actually kill you even in these days of OP Heirlooms – namely Vosh’gajin who likes turning everyone into frogs.

So I now have two level 60 tanks (the other being a Paladin), and two boosts to spend. I’ve still got the level 90 Boost from Warlords, and a level 100 from Legion. Beyond the enjoyment I get from low level dungeon tanking, the logic behind getting the toons to 60 was to take advantage of the ‘free’ profession levelling that comes with the boost.

I have Engineering, Tailoring, Leatherworking, and Skinning already maxed, and I want to add Alchemy, Blacksmithing, Mining and Herbing to the mix. I dropped Mining during Warlords as there was no point in having a dedicated gatherer with the Garrison Mine, but it sounds like we’ll need gatherers again in Legion.

The main decision to make is whether to go dual crafting/dual gathering, or mix and match the appropriate skills. Because crafting is so much slower, I’m tempted to go Alchemy/Blacksmithing on the Paladin and boost him to 100, which will give full 700 profession skills. Then put the gathering skills on the Druid, boost her to 90, and easily grind the professions from 600 while she’s out levelling herself.

Having said that it’s nice to have self sufficient crafter/gatherers, so maybe I’ll just have to knuckle down and level Alchemy the slow way.

There’s also the matter of the BoP Blood of Sargeas crafting mat to consider. Similar to the MoP Spirit of Harmony, the Blood being BoP makes a dual gatherer less attractive.

Decisions, decisions! I might wait for the next Legion Q&A, which will focus on Professions and may make the choice more obvious.

Back on the horse

After a long hiatus, I spent the last two nights running an actual, current, relevant raid – Hellfire Citidel. Some may argue that two year old content is hardly ‘current’, and that’s true but it’s the most current on offer!

The last time I properly raided – so not LFR – was waaaay back in WotLK when I was main tanking Naxx on my Warrior. Since then guild implosions and lack of direction has meant just LFRing my way through endgame. LFR is great for seeing the denouement of an expansion (I really liked finishing off Deathwing and Garrosh that way), but it is in no way comparable to raiding with a guild.

Luckily for me, my new guild Frostwolves decided on a one-last-time Achievement run through Normal HFC, and I’d just managed to edge over the 690 gear score limit. So I was kindly invited along and it was a blast.

My main focus was not dying and getting my rotation and the fight mechanics right, as I realised my DPS output would be pretty lowly. Even knowing that it was kind of staggering to see Mythic geared people putting out at least 5x the DPS that I was. So I guess you could say it was a carry – but at least it was with Guildies!

We rolled through the first 6-7 bosses, and I stayed mostly alive (only dying early to Reaver). Probably largely to Guild Leader Navi’s healing generosity, but I was pleased to be more or less coping. The sheer power of the DPS meant trash was being obliterated which is fun to watch, and many of the bosses seemed easier that on LFR thanks to the lovely control from the tanks and smooth blanket of healing from the, uh, heals.

I was kind of surprised at how the mechanics of the fights were more or less clear, despite my not having seen any bosses after Gorefiend. I had the advantage of being able to focus on mechanics more than contributing a huge DPS output, but I still felt it was mostly clear what was going on and I think I managed to keep my rotation pretty clean. DBM and Wowhead research helps enormously, as does the occasional instruction and whisper from the more experience team. Some of who managed to whisper mid fight – amazing skillz!

It wasn’t until Xhul’horac that a major challenge arrived, with the complexity of the debuff mechanics meaning we were forced to wipe repeatedly in order to keep the achievement alive. On around the 12th attempt we managed to just scrape through, literally by the skin of our teeth.

That unique and thrilling feeling of having accomplished something tricky with a group was palpable – hoots in Discord and many !’s in raid chat. I suspect that feeling is why people keep raiding – working as a team to overcome a challenge is a magic feeling. Even if for me that challenge was mainly about doing the right thing more than contributing a huge amount to downing the bosses, it still felt great to get the achievement done.

We got all the way to Archimonde, and had two attempts at the achievement before having to stop for the night. Hopefully we can pick that last one up next week.

I was treating these runs as a bit of a test to see if raiding in Legion was something I could invest some time in. Come Legion I will be able to start on a vaguely level footing, so given how fun this was it seems worth trying to earn a spot in Normal Raiding.

I’m also super pleased that Frostwolves seems a good fit – there was no finger pointing and a generally good and constructive atmosphere. It was really nice to hear some of the invited guests (from other guilds and servers) give a special shout out to Navi for organising the runs – a sign of respect and a nice reward for hard work.

Fun to be back on the horse, or in my case the toy-pony.


My hunter has made the leap over to the Frostwolves of Saurfang, thanks to the kind invitation of Navimie. They’re a very welcoming bunch and it seems like a great place to be come Legion, and during the tail end of Warlords.

Unfortunately the name Knive was taken, but I’m pretty happy with Orbit as the alternative. This toon started as Space, so there’s a nice symmetry there.

I’m also charging through the levels on Threat1, a Prot Pally. I’ve always found Paladin tanking entertaining and intuitive so it’s a fun project. The only problem with tanking is the expectation that you’ll know the dungeons backwards, but I guess that just comes with the territory. I make sure to have at least a quick skim of the Dungeon Journals for any instances I don’t know. The new layout for Blackfathom Deeps caught me a little off guard, but so far it’s working out pretty well.

  1. Name get win! 

Three hundreds

Three characters to 100 now, the Rogue & Warrior both benefitting from the bonus objective strategy. I used Gorgrond and Talador for the Warrior which shot me from 94 to 98, then treasure hunting in Nagrand finished it off. Zero quests!

I kind of missed questing though, given how good the Draenor zones were. My next project is to level a Prot Paladin, so maybe they’ll take the traditional path.

Also seriously pondering looking for a raiding guild for Legion. I can only really do one night a week though, and that makes the choices very restricted. I’d love to be back in a guild that are progressing and working together though, and don’t mind being months behind current raids1.

Being in Australia further limits the choices. I found a few one-night candidates but they mostly seem to have gone quiet in the pre-Legion lull.

I did stumble upon the Frostwolves of Saurfang, and really enjoy reading Navimie’s excellent blog. It sounds like they may have a couple of raid tiers, including some that aren’t 2-3 nights, so maybe that’s a possibility.

  1. I remember Lore (now of Blizzard and once of Tankspot) used to be in a guild called ‘Months Behind’. Always loved that name. 

Ding ding ding – power levelling an alt in Draenor

Just as I started levelling my Rogue, I stumbled upon an article on Blizzard Watch that asked how best to power level an alt. Now I had no plan to power level her, but there was an intriguing strategy outlined that involved using the 300% XP boost granted by an Elixir of the Rapid Mind in combination with having all Gorgrond bonus objectives one step short of complete.

Having found two Elixir’s as part of Winter’s Veil, I decided may as well give it a go. The article comments1 also tipped to polish off an Excess Potion of Accelerated Learning for an additional 20% boost – making it 320% total. Gorgrond is particularly great for this plan as it has nine bonus quests and they’re all relatively close to each other.

And the whole endeavour is only possible if you can fly in Draenor, so this only really works for your alts.

I was already level 93 heading to Gorgrond thanks to treasure hunting in Frostfire, and in the process of getting all the bonuses to tipping point I levelled to 94. One tip is that some bonus areas only unlock after opening your Gorgrond Outpost, so get that done first.

The Elixir lasts 15 minutes, so you need to make the most of it. I decided to also prep the three Frostfire bonus areas, in case I had time to spare. This turned out to be a bit of a waste, as there are only three bonuses, they are spread out, and because they are lower level it wasn’t worth as much XP. If you have the level or skill, maybe try the Talador bonus quests instead.

With everything ready, I checked the most efficient flight route, rehearsed the finishing move for each objective, took a few deep breaths, and went for it.

When I started I was level 94.
11 minutes later I was 97!

It was great. Approx 300k XP per bonus area, and the levels flew by. Very entertaining, the only frustration was finishing everything with four minutes to spare and nowhere to spend the XP. A small price to pay.

In summary, if you want to try this:

  1. Acquire an Elixir from the AH & Potion from your Garrison Quarter Master;
  2. Get your Outpost built in Gorgrond to unlock all nine possible bonus objectives;
  3. Complete all but one item for each bonus – I’d suggest leaving the easiest possible thing waiting (normally a ‘click once to do something’ chore instead of a kill);
  4. If you get over level 94 doing this, go and grab some bonus objectives in Talador (instead of Frostfire/SMV).
  5. Drink down your potions and fly like the wind!

Good luck and good levelling.

  1. Amazingly the comments at Blizzard Watch appear to mostly be safe to read. Good job BW moderators! 

Picking all the Pockets

Levelling my Rogue alt – and first ever toon – I’ve rediscovered the joy of pick pocketing. Stealthing through Ogre camps and picking the pocket of each and every mob is enormous fun, especially now you loot fun flavour items like Magma-Infused War Beads as well as a few loose silver coins. And discovering that in the entire camp, only the loincloth sporting Ogre Chef didn’t have pockets made me laugh out loud.

For the Rogues out there, just create a simple macro that adds a pick-pocket to all your stealth attacks and you’ll be looting your way to glory in no time. For example, here’s an Ambush macro:

#showtooltip Ambush
/cast Pick Pocket
/cast Ambush

I have no idea if you can ever pick things like pets and actual loot, but it’s entirely fun and a great class perk for the lonely & misunderstood Rogue.