At some point last month I decided to roll up a Panda monk just to give that a try. So I used my last free character slot on Eldre’Thalas and created Makawao.
[Note to Blizzard: You want something to sell me? Sell me more character slots for my main server. I am all out of slots, but still want more alts.]
My initial plan was basically to abuse every aspect of the game I could to see how fast I could level this monk up to 90. I already have three characters at level 90 and expect that number to grow to five by the time Warlords of Draenor ships, not counting this new guy. So why not add one more.
So I got him through the starter zone, loaded him up with all the heirloom pieces I could scrounge, let him build up some rested experience, and then off I went.
And it was fun for a bit, zipping through levels. An instance run through dungeon finder could be work a couple levels. I think I got three full levels running Shadowfang Keep after getting the daily panda monk buff that gives you another 50% boost to experience for an hour each day. I was quickly up to level 40 and my “this is what passed for epic back in the day” mount.
I wasn’t there as quick as I could possibly be. Certainly not as fast as Nic, a guildie who went from fresh panda to level 50 in an afternoon. My problem is that I always get distracted. I have to do trade skills. Usually I stick to gathering skills, but for some reason I thought this guy ought to be a blacksmith. So that got me side tracked at various points.
And I had to get first aid, cooking, and fishing up to at least 75 a well so I could do Darkmoon Faire every month. During the long, quiet time during Cataclysm, practically the only thing I would do was Darkmoon Faire, which kept a few trade skills advancing and left me with a pile of prize tickets, which I used to buy things… like all the heirloom armor my monk now sports.
Still, between bouts of distraction, I kept on plowing through content, out-leveling zones long before I was done and following what I suppose one might call the “official” path through the game, going where the Hero’s Call board sends you. And then, as I was out-leveling the content in the Eastern Plauguelands, I started feeling like I ought to finish off some of these zones. There is, after all, a bunch of “new” content in post-Cataclysm Azeroth that I have never seen.
So rather than setting off for where ever the Hero’s Board was going to send me, I went to Theremore and the Dustwallow Marsh.
Back in the day, that area used to be the sad alternative to Stranglethorn Vale for level 40-ish characters and home to that one quest I mis-read for so long. At one point, when leveling through the 40s used to be a thing that people worried about, rather than just a blink of the eye, Blizzard upped the ante in Dustwallow, adding in some more quests in Theremore and Tabetha’s farm as well as a new quest hub called Mudsprocket. It was an attempt to make the zone a viable alternative to those of us sick to death of STV and to give people a reasons beyond Onyxia and “I’m lost” for visiting the area.
It worked and, despite the whole “Fall of Theremore” thing, which banged up the town a bit, the whole Dustwallow zone is pretty much as it was… I think. That alliance built causeway through the zone seems new, but I couldn’t tell you if that came before or after Cataclysm. But the quests all seem the same, so I buckled down, determined to actually “finish” a zone, or at least get the achievement for doing most of the quests. (There seems to be a 2-5 quest buffer in zones, just in case you miss one off the path, so I am willing to accept the achievement as being done.)
It was actually kind of nice to change focus and concentrate on a more immediate completionist goal. And I ran down and did every quest I could find, got the achievement, and knocked off the three quests I had left.
Yes, quests and mobs quickly went green and then gray… I didn’t take off the heirloom gear because, if nothing else, it keeps me from having to worry about gear at all until level 85… but that just reigned in the experience some and kept me from getting too far ahead. I did end up vaulting over what I thought would be the next zone in levels, Thousand Needles, and decided to drop into Tanaris instead.
I kept to the same routine in there, following up each quest line and finishing all I found. The only ones I was not keen on were the old “horrible even back in the day” cross-zone escort quests that were triggered from random drops. I ended up having to do one of those to get the achievement. And then I seemed pretty well lined up to hit Ungoro Crater.
I think this has given me my plan for at least the near future, playing through zones to their completion. I still have a couple more zones my panda can finish before he has to turn to The Burning Crusade. At that point I might be more likely to just dungeon finder my way through zones. We shall see. But collecting these zones does put me a little further down the path to the Loremaster achievement and title. With shared achievements, I can run through the old Azeroth zones at level rather than having to pound through them with a level 90. I will have to look into how far away that is.