I was wondering what to do next when I read Nogamara’s post about levelling Rogues (amongst an army of others) and got inspired to finally work on my original Rogue character, who had been idling at 100 since Legion launched.
The first decision was which spec to use. I’d always run as Combat (aka Outlaw in the modern parlance), but didn’t really enjoy the pirate-style of the Outlaw in the brief time I tried it during the Legion invasion events. Outlaw seemed less a Rogue and more a swashbuckler, and I wanted to play a classic stealth killer with daggers, not swords. Nogamara also rated Outlaw pretty low on the enjoyment scale. So I changed to Subtlety, recalling various people seemed to say it was fun to play, picked up the Legion artefact weapons from the excellent atmospheric Rogue class hall underneath Dalaran, and started adventuring in Stormheim.
And had a riot of a time. It’s fantastically entertaining being able to stealth around, pickpocketing everything you pass, sapping one mob while you take care of the other, and vanishing in times of trouble. Legion had a great Rogue pickpocket sub-game which allowed you to pick various items as you adventure which could be cashed in for Coins of Air. The Coins in turn could be used to buy Rogue specific items, like pets and a Barrel of Bandanas for you and your friends. A simple addition to the game but it makes every mob a fun experience.
I ended up changing to Assassination pretty quickly, finding Subtlety to be a bit too obscure (or should I say, subtle. Ahem). I used generic daggers for the first few levels and picked up the Assassination artefacts at level 102 (when you can swap to new artefact weapons). Assassination was much more fun, and exactly the class fantasy I imaged Rogues to be - daggers, stealth, poison, and garottes.
The biggest improvement to the levelling experience was having Legion flying. Each zone seemed to complete in incredibly quick time, largely because the traversal of terrain is trivialised by flight. I understand a bit better now why Bhagpuss defended flight so vigorously when I suggested a ground mount was in some ways superior. I think I still like the idea of being forced to the ground for the first run through (the awful ground design of Nazjatar notwithstanding), but once you’re levelling alts and paying no heed to the quest test and lore, flying is a godsend.
I don’t have stats, but it feels like I raced from 100 to 110 in about 10 hours, and I enjoyed every moment. The freedom to jump around to anywhere, race through the quests overpowering or outstealthing everything, and revelling in an instinctive understanding of the game is incredibly satisfying. At 110 I considered swapping to a Paladin alt, but the Rogue is so much fun I think I’ll push through to 120 - hopefully the dreaded BfA power drain as you get closer to max level isn’t too punishing.
- Eagle eyed readers will notice this post is only a day after the ‘I can fly!’ post. I reached the flying achievement about the same time as the Blizzard political censorship debate exploded, which took some of the sheen off playing and certainly off celebrating flight. Hence the ~1 month delay in posting. ↩
In completely unexpected news, Blizzard broke the internet today with the news that the wonderful Vulpera race is coming with patch 8.3.
The foxes revitalised my interest in BfA when I first encountered them, and while were an obvious choice for the next Allied race, it seemed like if it did happen it would be with the new expansion. Happily not!
I’ve never liked Goblins (too mercenary, and environmental criminals), and Gnomes too seem pretty wanton about destroying any land they settle on (see: Mechagon). Thinking back, the Vulpera also seemed pretty interested in treasure (why is it that Blizzard’s diminutive races all being greed-motivated?), but at least they were living in harmony with their homeland.
It will be fun to be playing a gigantic Tauren one moment, and a tiny Fox the next.
The other obvious conclusion with 8.3 being announced today (and the final boss revealed) is that Blizzcon will definitely be the announcement for the next expansion - they’ve cleared the BfA decks now. So that’s exciting too - if the rumoured PVE Overwatch 2 is also revealed (and Diablo IV?) it will be a great year to be attending. Almost enough to drag people away from Classic?
So far I’ve dithered about on Classic by creating far too many characters and not really committing to any. Doing a quick tally, on three servers (two PVP, one PVE) I have Hunters at 12/11/10/7, Warriors at 12/10/5, and a Rogue at 6. Plus bank alts on each. So theoretically I would have an (impossible) level 73 character if I had stuck to one. Obviously that’s not true given the slow down in levelling, but none-the-less I am well behind the curve as a result.
As usual it’s probably because the first levels are the most fun, with quick progress, rewards, and levelling routes burned into subconscious effectiveness. But now I’m trying to knuckle down and just play a single Hunter and Warrior, and actually move beyond the starter zones.
On the Hunters I was finding that even once they got their pets, mobs would still come at me rather than the pet. I put this down to Classic being different, until finally realising recently that I had neglected to train Growl on any of them. I happened to notice text something like ‘You have learned a new skill: Growl’ when I handed in a Hunter class quest, and as soon as I trained it on my Wolf the Hunting game became a lot easier.
Something else that made things easier was tracking down the rare wolf Ghost Howl in Mulgore. I searched around Thunder Bluff for an hour or more until finally finding him amongst the Windfury Harpies west of TB, and it was quick work with my tamed Prairie Wolf Alpha (I’d seen him earlier at level 7 but was no match for him then). Killing him led to a quest which rewarded an amazing gun upgrade.
I love finding Rares in Warcraft, particularly when you find them just by noticing something different in the scene in front of you. It’s not only that they look slightly different - maybe bigger, maybe an odd colour - they also move differently to the normal creatures. It’s almost like they have a swagger about them - slight slower, nonchalant, and much less predictable.
Next up is to venture into the Barrens, where I hope to eventually find and tame Humar the Pridelord with his unique black coat. A friend once camped out his spawn point for days during Burning Crusade - might be a nice tribute to do the same. Petopia has a nice unique looks gallery for those wanting to track down a standout companion.
For reference, this is how I’m running my Hunter at level 10. I’ve developed a default key mapping with some macros behind each button to make the Hunter attack sequence easier and more effective:
- F1: Apply Hunter’s Mark and send the pet in to attack
- F2: Start Autoattack and Fire off a Serpent Sting
- 1: Arcane Shot: standard mana burner
- 2: Raptor Strike: for emergency melee use only
So the opening sequence is to press F1 to send in my pet, wait briefly for it to engage, F2 to start firing, then 1 to weave an Arcane Shot in between Autos. If there is more than one mob (please, no!), then F1 again will redirect the pet to the next tabbed target. I can refresh Serpent Sting with F2 (rarely required as regular mobs die before the 15 sec. debuff drops off). F3 is reserved for Concussive Shot to slow down runners (and pets I might want to tame).
For F1, I use the following macro:
#showtooltip Hunter's Mark
/cast Hunter's Mark
And for F2:
#showtooltip Serpent Sting
/cast !Auto Shot
/cast Serpent Sting
(The ! before Auto Shot ensures that spamming F2 won’t turn it on and off accidentally.)
I borrowed these from Icy-Vein’s Hunter macro guide. Their pet guide was also very useful for jogging my memory on pet feeding, classes, training, etc. And to complete the trifecta, their excellent Beast Master levelling guide includes a very handy level slider that shows you the recommended build and rotation at each level.
Playing around with your own style rather than going by the book is definitely recommended, especially when levelling, but it’s good to have some kind of starting point reference.
Keeping track of my pet happiness was also difficult for some reason - maybe some add-on was hiding the status. I got around that by installing TitanPanel and this Pet Happiness broker. Now I can easily see when my pet needs feeding, and TP itself is useful in other ways (like making it obvious when I’m low on ammo).
Having polished off all the Vanilla dungeons (I want to say Classic but that now means something entirely different), our motley Alliance crew ventured into the first Outland instance, Hellfire Ramparts.
I was super pleased to see our Hunter had already managed to piece together a classic Outland outfit, with some truly ridiculous ‘pants’, clashing gloves, topped off by a fantastically wrong helmet. His gormless face was icing on the cake.
I have strong memories of this dungeon being somewhat difficult, especially the tricky early trash pulls which can easily go horribly wrong, and the final boss, the netherdrake Nazan. Those memories were confirmed when I looked up the Ramps blog entry from our old guild, Midnight’s Children - it sounds like a nightmare, even bringing a rare rallying cry from our Guild Leader:
Midnight Children do not believe in rank or status. As such their guild leader has never issued an order. But I do now. This Dragon must die. All the forces of this Mighty Guild will be bent to this end. No sacrifice is too much, no labour too strenuous. One Horde. One Guild. One Victory.
So it was with some trepidation that we entered, especially as we were reduced to four players. How could we get through this alive, let alone short handed? Incredibly easily, as it turned out.
Blizzard either nerfed the living daylights out of Ramps at some point, or else our years of playing meant that it was a walk in the park. Somehow I suspect the former. We had no trouble with any trash or bosses, with Nazan falling with barely a whimper. He also dropped a super nice looking weapon called Hellreaver for our DK.
Our biggest challenge ended up being trying to tame one of the excellent Shattered Hand Warhounds for our Hunter. We accidentally killed just about every single one via my Consecration Aura, our Death Knight’s Death and Decay, an accidental auto attack, etc., before our veteran Priest designed a strategy that allowed our Hunter to pull a solo wolf while we distracted its companions.
It was silly but also great fun, a reminder of how the best gaming moments tend to be unscripted and spontaneous.