February 22, 2009

An Epicked Out Mage Begins The Journey To 80

When Burning Crusade came out, I had a Hunter at level 60 who ventured into Outlands long enough to reach level 61, but because of the lag, competition and instability of the Outland servers at release and for weeks afterwards, I gave my attention to my Mage, who was level 23 at the time.

I continued to play my Hunter, but leveled her largely through quests and by helping friends, and avoided all the new instances along with the rest of my social guild friends. She was still the first to hit 70, even without being my main attention.

And of course, as usual, I had a handful of other lowbies that were getting leveling attention at the same time, so nobody really leveled very quickly.

My Mage, however, was the one that really broke me into running dungeons regularly, and finding a mindset that let me enjoy the contrast that PUG groups brought to me, instead of feeling negatively about them (like most of my friends at the time).

Becoming A Hardcore PUGger
When the Mage hit Outland, I PUGged like crazy. Everyone wanted DPS/CC in their groups, right from the first Hellfire Citadel instances, all the way through the heroics and even into raids. Even though I was DPS and had no real Tank and Healer friends to start with, I had no problems finding groups and then making long-term Dungeon-running buddies because my type of DPS was in such hot demand.

The Mage turned out to be the toon I took first into Heroics, ten months after the expansion released and Heroics were originally introduced. I was the first amongst my peer group to have a toon that well geared, and the first to get into raiding.

Frost Spec Raider Beating Fire Mages
I had a BALL with my Mage in the time that I used him as my main raider. I remained Frost spec even though that was seen as an inferior raiding spec to Fire, too. Why? Because in the raiding guild I landed in, I was beating out most of the Fire Mages, and therefore, there was no real evidence to support me having to change.

I raided on this toon with my first raiding guild for 6 weeks before joining their ranks. As a long-term committer, I wanted to make sure I enjoyed the raiding environment before I joined.

Frost Mage Raider Retires
My exit from my first raiding guild inspired me to work on another toon for a while for a change of pace, and I had both a Rogue and a Holy Priest coming up through the Outland levels, so I chose one - the Priest - and increased my commitment.

Now that I’m in Northrend, I decided to leave my Mage to be third amongst my level 70 characters to make the progression through Northrend, its quests, instances and raids, and for the most part he’s been sitting quietly, benefiting from the Priest and Hunter’s travels and monetary gains, and leveling only occasionally.

Mage Re-Awakens For Leveling Experience
Now that my Priest and my Hunter are both at level 80 and both geared well enough for raiding that Heroics runs aren’t “required” anymore, it’s time to turn my attention more fully to my Mage (and other “lowbies”) again.

The Paladin and Shaman are coming along nicely, progressing into their 40s and with the Shaman two levels from 50 and a whole new level of professions extension of both Skinning and Leatherworking.

I haven’t begun gathering materials as of the writing of this entry, but you know I’ll be starting soon, because I love parking toons in cities at those key levels (20, 35, 50) and cranking their professions right up to max while they gather rest bonus. I enjoy the challenge of finding cheap materials I can use to level, while turning them into things that are saleable for more than the materials cost… actually turning my professions leveling into profit!

Making The Journey To 80, Quicker
One thing my Mage and the rest of my lowbies now benefit from are, in effect, hand-me-downs.

Like how I used to create a special “newbie leveling set” using non-soulbinding white gear with big enchants that were useful for multiple classes, and pass the gear from lowbie to lowbie to get them through the first 20 levels without having to worry about death nor gear, there are special items in-game to help speed leveling more.

These days, there are Bind on Account items available for purchase using tokens of various sorts: Heroism and Valor badges and Stone Keeper’s Shards being the three main types.

The various Bind on Account items cover different slots of a toon’s gear, and while they each have stats on them that your leveling toons will benefit from, they’re also magical in that the stats on them scale with your level. Meaning, they’re not as powerful on your lowbies as they are on your level 80 toons, but they will “grow” with your toon and not need replacement either.

The main stat I’ve looked for on my Bind on Account gear is the 10% experience gain stat. Also, having this stat on a Shoulder slot is great, because real lowbies don’t get to fill that slot for many levels in their initial advancement, and therefore the rest of the damage-related stats in that slot are huge bonuses, nevermind the 10% bonus for anything killed.

Where To Find Bind On Account Gear
As a simple closing to this entry, I’ll let you know where to go to check out the various types of gear available to those looking to purchase Bind On Account gear that can be used and re-used by lowbie toons.

First, within Dalaran you can find your Emblem of Heroism and Emblem of Valor Quartermasters (in Sunreaver’s Sanctum for Horde), and peruse their selection of equipment available for purchase using emblems.

Second, you can head to Wintergrasp when your side controls it, and visit the Quartermaster there, who sells various types of gear (more suited for PvP due to the resiliance, but still not bad) using Stone Keeper Shards that have been gathered from Wintergrasp PvP or dungeon-running while your side controls Wintergrasp itself.

If you run dungeons enough, you can get specialized equipment for each of your lowbies, making it so re-gearing is not required throughout most of the journey towards 80.

If you don’t run dungeons enough to buy that many sets of gear, consider buying the Shoulder slot at the least, and note that if you buy cloth, any toon can wear it and get the 10% experience bonus while leveling.

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