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Warlock Leveling Part I: 1-29

Psynwise

The Warlock is one of those four classes that I’ve always wanted to level but just never could bring myself to get excited about the class enough to really take it anywhere. I spent the last two months playing on a wide variety of my characters from new toons to twinks to DK farmers on new servers and on up to my Alliance Mage who hit level 80 a few weeks ago.

Last night (last night as of about…4 weeks ago when I started writing this) I flew my Mage twink into Loch Modan to turn in a quest and as I landed at the flight master I saw a Warlock there with his Voidwalker out. I don’t know what in the world caused it, but I had a sudden desire to level the Warlock and nothing else. I turned in the quest since it was just right there and then relogged over to my Warlock who’s been sitting idle for weeks at level 23 and who hadn’t even bothered getting her Succubus yet.

In this bit of leveling bloggery I’m going to cover the first 29 levels of being a Warlock in one go, and I’ll be offering advice on both Affliction and Demonology specs. I have no experience with Destro, but considering the fact that literally every single Warlock I have grouped with in low level LFG this year have been Destro it’s apparently a viable spec as well.

As we move on into this guide let me say for the sake of doing so, that this guide expresses my own personal experience with the class. There very well could be better ways of doing things, there could be information that I’m missing because I wasn’t aware of it, or something that I have “wrong” according to another lock with more experience than I. That being said, I have soloed instances at level with the Demonology build and tactics I mention in here, and I have soloed group quests and instances slightly below my level with the Affliction build, so I know they work.
Turn the page to find out more…

 
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Posted by on March 1, 2010 in Caster, Guide, Leveling, Play Styles, Warlock

 

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Review Patch 3.3: Looking For Dungeon

One of the most frequently talked about subjects here of late in the World of Warcraft community is the new Looking for Group (or Looking for Dungeon) mechanic that was added in Patch 3.3. A lot of people love the new system and can’t see how they ever manged to level without it. Other people completely hate the system and refuse to use it ever again.

A lot of bloggers happen to be talking about it right now on their own blogs as well, but rather than reading their posts and then essentially responding them in my own post, I am going to simply post my own thoughts here and then any responses I have to them will be left in the form of comments on their blogs.

Initial Impressions
When I first tried out the new LFG I absolutely fell in love with it. Groups were fast, people were nice and cooperative, people who didn’t know the dungeons took advice and guidance from others, people didn’t mind spending a few minutes constantly clicking the icon to teleport into the dungeon after getting smacked around by the “Door Boss” repeatedly with messages of “Additional instances cannot be launched. Please try again.”

For the first week or so I didn’t have a single problem with any aspect of the new system. Sure, I might get thrown into a dungeon I didn’t really feel like running, but even then it wasn’t all that big of a deal. It was about the same as having a friend ask for help in a dungeon I didn’t care for; I might not have the most fun, but at least somebody was enjoying it.

And the loot! Holy cow, when you’re talking about level 15-25 characters the BoP items that drop from the satchel for doing random dungeons are actually Best In Slot gear if you get the right random enchant for your class/build.

Current Impressions
Now that I’ve had more time to play around with the system and have had a chance to do it not only on my low level characters, but also on my mid and high level characters I have a slightly different opinion.

Overall I still very much enjoy using it and any time I’m not caught up in the middle of doing something else you can pretty well count on me either sitting in queue waiting for the next one to pop or already running through one that recently popped for me.

However, I have had my fair share of horrible groups now too. At first they were just small things, like a low level tank that couldn’t hold threat on more than one mob at a time, or a healer that had only a dps spec but was the only one in the group that could heal, or a hunter who thought he was 60 levels higher than he actually was and then blamed the tank/heals for not saving him from his own stupidity.

As time went on though, things got progressively worse and progressively better at the same time. I have found some excellent groups that fit together perfectly and ones that actually stayed together to requeue for another random dungeon after the first. But I’ve also seen a group with a single bad player progress into a group almost entirely made of morons.

The first time I really doubted whether or not this new LFG system would hold out was when we ran into our first ninja looter. Cynwise and I found ourselves in a group with a mage who rolled need on absolutely everything that fell. After the third case of stupidity we kicked the guy from the group and replaced him almost right away. Not long after that though we found the hunter in the group decided that he had to roll Need on a shield because he was “going to use it when [he] level[ed] up”. We went on to other groups finding hunters and mages who thought they could tank, healers who didn’t see any reason in stocking up on drinks to restore their mana, trial accounts who “miss rolled” Need on boss drops and then couldn’t trade them to anyone else in the party, and so on. And I thought that was a bad day, until last night.

I started off last night by queuing up with my 19 twink mage in a few randoms and having a blast. If you care to read about the good times, then please refer to Blastoph: Adventures in SFK which you can find on my twink blog. After a few good runs with him I decided to switch over to my new Rogue Twink for a bit and go for some Deadmines and Wailing Caverns runs to finish off her gear (no luck) and finish leveling her up to 19 (got that one).

The first dungeon that came up was Wailing Caverns and the group had already cleared all but three bosses, and while we were there I got the Armor of the Fang (3rd best in slot) the Leggings of the Fang (1st) and the Gloves of the Fang (1st) so I was pretty happy just from that, and then my satchel for completing it held a belt with “of the Bandit” on it which just happens to be exactly what I was looking for. So it was very much a successful run. The one minor flaw was that Venomstrike dropped and a hunter with a crappy white bow rolled Need on it and I couldn’t bring myself to roll against him. My Throat Piercers are a bit better with their +2 Agility bonus, but Venomstrike is amazing for switching over and dealing damage when you need to.

The next run took me into Deadmines and we had a pretty good time in there. VC dropped the Blackened Defias Armor which is the second best armor for my Rogue. I rolled Need on it of course and watched as other people passed and offered grats, except for one. I noticed the Warrior tank hadn’t rolled yet, and just as I was about to say something I saw him click Need and he got it. So, no luck for me there.

The next queue took me back into Wailing Caverns, and that’s where things really went to crap. I filled in for a DPS that they kicked out of the group so I went to join them where they were. I saw as I was running to their location that most of the mobs on the top ring were still alive on both sides, but I just shrugged and assumed the tank wanted to save Lady Anacondra for the last. I also saw that the group was split up with the tank and hunter on the west side and the healer and warlock on the east. From that I assumed that the healer had gone to resurrect the warlock so I went for the tank.

When I got there I found the tank fighting mobs while the hunter yelled at him not to fight the serpents. I saw people dying so I jumped up there and started killing things off so the tank would live. The hunter yelled at me then too. To make a long story short, the hunter had been dragging the group to various places in the instance for the sole purpose of taming a serpent that he didn’t know where to find and had caused multiple wipes. Eventually he got his pet and the group formed up to actually run through the instance. I thought it particularly fitting that the hunter would fire a single shot at a mob, let the mob come to him, engage in melee combat, and then have his pet join in and never leave melee himself.

With that group and that moronic huntard as the group leader, we went through three tanks and four healers before I convinced everybody to just break the group and requeue. Luckily I managed to put the hunter on ignore and will never have to see his stupidity on my screen ever again. He was a perfect example of one person blackening the good reputation of the LFG system for several different people though.

I had such a horrible time in that last run through WC managing to kill only a single boss that I absolutely had enough with LFG for the night and had to go into WSG to kill people. I imagined every horde toon was that stupid dwarven hunter and went on a killing spree completely ignoring the whole concept of WSG all together. People had to die, and they had to die as soon as possible and in as large a quantity as possible. I didn’t do all that great in that run, but at least I got to vent some frustration.

Desired Improvements
The biggest issue I have with the new LFG system is the same as so many other people out there – I want to be able to queue for both Dungeons and PvP at the same time and take whichever one comes up first. I don’t mind getting kicked out of one queue if I accept an invite to the other, I just don’t want to sit there waiting for 30 minutes in one queue while the other is popping every 5 minutes.

Next up has to be more uses of Vote to Kick. When you’ve got a real bad player in the group you either have to deal with them or vote to kick them out of the group. But you can’t kick anyone else out after the second or third use of VtK. Instead you just get stuck with whoever you have there with you and your only option then is to deal with them or leave the party yourself. I don’t mind running with people that don’t know what they’re doing, are new to their spec, are new to the game, have never been to the dungeon before, or anything else so long as they are willing to accept advice on how to do things. If you suck and you refuse to let people help you not suck, then I make no hesitation in voting you out of the group. Come on Bliz, there are more than 3 people in each level bracket that suck, give me more chances to get rid of the morons.

And finally, I’d like for them to retool the Dungeon Deserter debuff (I can’t remember it’s actual name right off) . In fact, I’d like to see them get rid of the thing all together. I’ve only had it applied to me once and that was when the tank and one of the dps rushed right into combat before the healer had even zoned in, died, and then refused to run back and the healer hadn’t bothered to learn how to resurrect people yet. None of the votes to kick would pass for some reason so I had no choice but to leave them behind and I got flagged to not be able to queue again until the debuff went away. It was a whole new level of annoying.

 
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Posted by on December 28, 2009 in Patch Notes

 

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LFG: (Ab)Using the System

I must say that so far I absolutely love the new LFG tool. With a couple of minor exceptions I’ve had almost nothing but pure win with using it. Granted, I’ve only done lower level instances with it since I haven’t touched any of my high levels in quite some time, but it’s been great. My wife and several people I talk to on twitter have come across the darker side of it where you would have been better off condemning yourself to a known fail-pug, but as with anything else that’s done “randomly” you never know what you’re going to get out of it.

There are a few things that I want to talk about in particular concerning the LFG though, one which should be obvious but may not, and two which are presented as a question about the LFG quite a bit both on twitter and in game.

Recruit A Friend
Here’s the one that should be obvious to you. Using LFG in conjunction with RAF is a new level of awesome. My wife and her brother are doing RAF right now since they have similar sleep schedules where I do not, and they consistently gain 2-3 levels per dungeon run.

The biggest problem that people faced with RAF was outleveling their gear, where you found yourself in your 30s or 40s still wearing white gear that you picked up back in your starting zone because things just haven’t dropped for you. The next big problem was that people had a tendency to never bother learning how to play their class because it was just so darn easy to level.

The first problem there is easily addressed simply from the gear that drops inside the instances. Generally speaking, the best gear you’ll find for your level will come from instance. You can generally find better pieces that are rare world drops, and you’ll stumble across the occasional crafted item as well, but mostly the good gear will be in dungeons.

The second part is also somewhat lessened because it takes more effort to work together as a team against mostly elite mobs than it is to fight random mobs out in the world. This is especially true for tanks and healers as their roles at end game.

Can Alliance Queue RFC and Horde for Stocks?
The answer to both of these is yes. You can queue for any instance which you meet the level requirements for. So you can take your level 15 Gnomes into RFC, and you can take your level 20 Orcs into The Stockade.

You are teleported inside the instance, so you don’t have to bother running through an opposing faction’s city. Instances are not specific in which factions can use them, they just happen to be located in areas that are typically off limits to the opposing faction unless you’re willing to brave a run through very hostile territory.

The minimum level to queue for any instance is 15, so while you can enter RFC at level 8 and used to be able to queue for it at level 13, the minimum requirement for instance queues is 15. As long as your level is appropriate for the instance that you want to run then you can queue for it, no matter where it is or which faction supposedly guards the door.

Can I (Ab)Use LFG to Teleport!?!?
Yes, you can.

Now, most likely this is a glitch, so don’t get your hopes up too much just yet as it could be hot fixed at any time. I found in running RFC with my level 15 Mage that after a stupid paladin decided to agro as many mobs as he could and then bubble and laugh as we all died, I had to run back to the instance to get my body and then teleport back to Stormwind. After I died I didn’t want to listen to all the arguing and such so I just left the group. I thought at that point that I might be teleported back to SW the easy way and not have to bother running back to Org from Razor Hill, but no such luck.

When I got back to the instance I jumped inside, the loading screen came up and the progress bar went across the screen, and then I found myself alive and right outside of the instance with Neru Fireblade staring at me (luckily he didn’t agro me). I then used my hearthstone to get over to Dalaran and went about my business.

So if you want to abuse the LFG system to teleport then you have to join the group, get teleported to the instance, die inside the instance, release your spirit, leave the group, and then walk back to the entrance. At that point you can walk back outside and essentially teleport yourself to the zone that the instance is located inside of. Every other method I’ve tried so far has resulted in just being thrown back to wherever you were when you joined the group.

As I noted in the section above, you can only queue for instances that match your level. So don’t expect to have a group of 80s queue for RFC and then go pwn Thrall because it’s not going to happen.

 
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Posted by on December 15, 2009 in Patch Notes

 

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Mage Leveling: Part I-B

I was chatting on twitter with Cynwise the other day and they mentioned that Human’s racial ability set them up so much higher than rolling a Gnome Mage was out of the question. Despite my dislike for the gnome race, I don’t mind using one as a twink so I took that statement as a challenge and rolled yet another twink named Blastoph. I had a good bit of fun with the Gnome last night and got the chance to see the new leveling mechanics with the changes in 3.3. When I saw Cyn’s post this morning on Green Tinted Goggles I decided I should probably post a bit about me new leveling experience as well.

Blastoph: Gnome Mage
This post isn’t going to be about Blastoph quite so much as the last two posts have been for my other twinks because he’s only level 7 and I have a couple of other blogs set aside to start monitoring my twinks anyway, which I’ll introduce to you later when I have their designs and such finalized.

What I do want to do though, is share some of what my experiences last night showed me with leveling new characters. So here are some examples of what I did with Blastoph:

Killing Spree: No, not the achievement, just the literal performing of such. I took the mage into the troll cave in the starting area, positioned myself right in the middle of all of the mobs (which are now Neutral instead of Hostile) and starting casting Fireballs one right after the other on every mob in the entire cave without taking any breaks until they were all dead. More specifically, I cast 40 consecutive Fireballs without running out of mana. Every mob in there died to two casts or to two casts plus the extra little bit that comes from the dinky DoT effect of the Fireball.

Frostbolt Sucks: Actually it doesn’t suck, but with the changes made there’s really no reason to bother casting it in the starting zone. Fireball now has the same cast time, costs only 1 more mana point to cast, and does significantly more damage. With all of these changes you might as well consider Frostbolt a thing of the past while you’re rolling your new toon and just Fireball everything in the face. That’s what I did this time.

“Free” Quests? Yoink! Now that none of the mobs in the starting areas will agro you before you attack them you can do all of those otherwise annoying little gather quests with no worries and little effort. Just run right up, grab what you need, and then run back and turn in the quest. Collecting Felix’s items for him was easier than ever this go around.

Details on 3.3
With the new changes in 3.3 the leveling of a mage has taken a whole new twist. Here are the main reasons why:

  • Reduced Mana Cost
  • Reduced Casting Times
  • Increased Mana Regen

Reduced Mana Cost
First on the list we have probably the biggest contribution to the changes in the reduced mana cost. A level 1 mage in 3.2 had to spend 18-25 mana (if I remember correctly) to cast a Fireball. In 3.3 through, using a Gnome in my case, Fireball costs a whopping 8 mana to cast a level 1. That’s more than a 50% reduction in mana cost, and that’s flipping huge.

One of the main trade offs in 3.2 and previous patches between Fireball and Frostbolt was that Fireball cost quite a bit more mana, so you could cast for a longer period of time by leaving the Fire alone save for pulling. At level 4 my Fireball required 9 mana to cast and my Frostbolt required 7; I think I can handle an extra 2 mana for higher damage.

Reduced Casting Times
Previously Fireball had a base cast time of 2.0 seconds, which made things move a bit slower than you’d like (sort of like a Warlock from that day and age with their Shadowbolts). But now our Fireball (Rank 1) has only a 1.5 second cast time. That was the second big difference between Fire/Frost in 3.2 was that you could fire off Frostbolts with a lower mana cost and also a faster casting speed, but that’s no longer the case.

The casting speed does jump back up to 2.0 seconds when you get Fireball (Rank 2), but it still hits harder than Frostbolt does, and with the next point below you can see that the mana issues are no longer a problem.

Increased Mana Regen
When they nerfed regen in previous patches it really screwed low level toons to the point where I actually had to start drinking between fights in my starting areas. With 3.3 they have increased regen by 200% which is a very noticeable rate now that we’re back to having some decent regen.

The removal of food on starting characters didn’t bother me as I don’t think I have ever used the starting food for anything but a few spare coppers in my pouch, but the removal of drinks made me wonder a bit about casters.

Other 3.3 Changes
Another new little feature I want to bring to your attention is that any time you learn a new spell now it will auto-assign it to an open space in your action bar. While this feature actually bothers me due to my planning out my action bars ahead of time and reserving slots for future use and such, it does provide a benefit to a lot of people making it almost impossible for you to miss the fact that you learned a new spell unless you just never bother looking at them for some reason.

A really big change that I saw in starting areas also is that now all mobs in starting areas are Neutral, meaning that you aren’t going to have to fight anything you don’t want to until you get out of the starting zone. The little mini-bosses of sorts, everything you have to kill for a quest, every mob all together in your starting areas are now Neutral, meaning that you will not draw agro from anything unless you attack it. So you can move at your own pace no matter where you’re at, and with the big boost to regen rates you can get a lot more done with a lot less hassle.

You’ll also find the new build in quest tracking features to be very helpful. As Gordon over at WeFlySpitfires.com discussed yesterday, this new feature potentially removes the need for questing addons such as QuestHelper. Your questing is going to be made easier with all of these changes whether you use addons or not, but this is just one more change that’s going to impact the speed at which you level early on.

I think the only thing they could have done to make leveling any easier would be to give us some bags to start out with and/or put a mailbox in the starter zone so that we don’t have to run to the next town to pick up bags, gear, or gold that we mail to them.

New Leveling Rotation
When it comes to the new starting zones you can write off everything I said in the old mage leveling post and stick to this rotation right here:

Fireball, Fireball, Fireball, Fireball

That’s it, just spam Fireball at everything until it’s dead. Once you run out of mana, go collect all of your loot and by the time you finish clicking all of the sparklies you’ll have a full mana bar and will be able to jump right back into that rotation again.

Sadly, I’m completely serious about this. I don’t mind the fact that leveling is a bit easier now, the sad part comes from the fact that using Frost isn’t even the least bit necessary any more. Just spam Fireball 2-4 times and whatever you’re fighting will be dead unless you keep missing for some reason.

 
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Posted by on December 10, 2009 in Guide, Leveling, Mage

 

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