10×85 Analysis: An Introduction
No, no, I haven’t suddenly completed the challenge. I’ve been thinking for quite a long time about how to write about it, though, and I decided on writing a series of posts reflecting on the classes I’ve leveled. I don’t want to push it all at once, though, as I suspect there’ll be a fair share of similarity between some of the posts and classes. I figured I’d break them down like this: An introduction, hybrid classes (druid / paladin), other healers (shaman, priest), pet classes (warlock / hunter), pure dps (rogue / mage), other tanks (warrior / DK, which has to be last since the warrior will be last), and a conclusion of some sort. I’d expect to see them maybe once every week or two over the next couple of months.
For this correspondence, I mostly want to talk about my motivations and provide a little background. The when of some of my characters is certainly as important in the analysis as the where or how. More on that later, though. First, my motivations. I came to this challenge, honestly, as a way to keep WoW on life support. The challenge was first mentioned here just under a year ago, on July 18th, 2011. I had already finished a few characters and was on my way to finishing several others. I wanted to keep WoW around because my wife was still interested in it, despite our difficulties finding a guild where we really fit in. Since then, we’ve moved servers twice and tried two more guilds, neither of which really worked, and one of which was the straw on the grey camel’s back for my raiding life.
There were two huge stalls in the process; I had a really hard time pushing through after my 6th 85. I had just hit a point where doing the same cata content again wasn’t in the books, and I had just gotten my shaman to 85 and was ready to try raiding again. I had my DK, rogue, hunter, and warrior left, and all of them needed a fair share of work, and it just felt like enough was enough. I took a break for a while after that.
Once I came back to it, I stalled again after two more: the rogue and the DK. The rogue was a lot of fun to level in PvP, but I mostly enjoyed the stealthy ambush, and there just wasn’t going to be any more of that for me. To top that off, MoP had been announced, and Blizz had suggested it wouldn’t be on the normal expansion schedule (once every 2 years). I simply didn’t think I had to the time to get the last 2 to 85, so I dropped it. The hunter,after all, was only in the 60s, and the warrior, of course, vastly lower than that. Now, with the extra summer I didn’t think I’d have, I think I’m in the final push to finish, and I’m excited about being done and getting the analysis started.
On that note, let’s start with the whens, wheres, and hows for each of the characters. It’s hugely relevant because some of them were leveled to “max” so long ago that their really wasn’t a possibility for the “how” to be anything other than questing. Here’s what I mean.
My first “max level” character was Paladi, my … yes … paladin. He hit 70 during BC. He leveled up to low 60s as ret, which I hated; then, I decided that if I was going to end-game tank, I should get some practice, so I went ahead and paid quite a lot (for the time) to respec into prot. There wasn’t nearly as much information out there for “efficiency” as their is now (thank god), so I’m sure I bungled it up, but I spent the remaining 8 or so levels mangling large packs of mobs and loving every moment of it. I think that sold me on prot, and he’s been prot ever since, with a few stints after dual spec into healing.
My second and third were also BC maxes, my priest and my warlock. It made sense to have a character of each role back then, since there were no dual specs. There was a guy in our guild who had three paladins, one of each spec. I’m sure he wasn’t pleased with dual speccing. I leveled the priest as holy until the mid 60s, which was a ridiculous mistake, but that goes to show how little information there really was back then. To be fair, I mostly leveled him with my wife, who was a hunter, so it’s not that I had to dps everything to death in holy spec; I just kept her and her pet alive while she did the work. In mid 60s, spurred by the change to the paladin, I tried shadow, and things went much faster. The lock I spent most of my time with in affliction, including the very few level 70 raids he went on. As more and more expansions appeared, each continued to level in the same way. It strikes me now that there is probably some deep psychological message there, that I found my comfort zone for each of them and stuck to it. Who knows?
Stubborn, the druidic namesake of this blog, was my only Wrath toon. I kept up the other three, but only Stubborn came of age while Arthas sat in power. He was my first fully horde toon, too. The remnants of our previous good guild went to a new server to refound and restart without the troublemakers (it’s a surprise I was invited, then, since some still hold me solely accountable for rocking the boat). The guild never really reformed, though, despite the plans, and I found myself with a max level character, mostly alone on a server. I finished up leveling to 80, then joined up with the best guild I’ve probably ever been in. My remaining characters on that server still sit in that guild (including my hunter that I’m finishing up). Questing was still the only way to really level back then, and I did so in feral, though I had every intention of being whatever the guild most needed, which turned out to be resto. I spent a lot of time as a tree on Stubborn and enjoyed probably the pinnacle of druid healing. By the time Cata came, though, things had gone south with that guild – through no fault of my own – and it was Paladi who went first to 85 to form the guild with old friends that hadn’t materialized during Wrath.
The other six toons are all Cata kids. I leveled a frost mage on a new server to test it out. I leveled through questing, even though LFD and PvP leveling were available, entirely with my buddy there, as goblins, specifically to see the new starting area and the changes to Azeroth. It was well worth it, and was probably the last character I was really excited to level. The shaman I leveled mostly through dungeons, practicing resto healing, until the healing became too much of a pain and I switched to enhancement around 81 and just quested. The DK I leveled through questing as frost; the rogue in PvP as subtlety. I was able to push through those (after a break midway) specifically because I leveled each a different way. I look forward to talking about how those different types of leveling affected each character and my perceptions thereof.
That leaves the hunter and the druid. The hunter I’ve pushed mostly through questing, and within the most recent content patch. The warrior, I assume, I’ll push through dungeons as prot, though I’m not 100% sure I want to expose myself to that. We’ll see.
So as you can see, I’ve tried each core type of leveling (questing, dungeons, and PvP). I’ve leveled in many different styles of specs (healing, prot, ranged dps, and melee dps). I’ve leveled in extremely different conditions due to the expansions (quest indicators, for example), the people I leveled with, and the types of servers I leveled on (PvP, RP, and Normal).
In our next installment, we’ll take a look at the hybrid classes, the two toons I’ve spent the vast majority of my play time on, the paladin and the druid, and we’ll discuss how each’s leveling experience has informed my play in the years that followed.