I have a seemingly simple decision to make about Warlords of Draenor, which is, to put it bluntly, “Who goes first?”
Who will I push through the dark portal into Draenor, which character of mine will be the first to see what is to be seen in the new expansion?
In the past, there has not been much in the way of a decisions. I had a level cap character that was part of the instance group and a level cap character for solo play. The instance group character would wait for the group while the solo character would head off on his own. That worked through vanilla, The Burning Crusade, and Wrath of the Lich King. My paladin, Vikund was part of the group and my hunter, Tistann, was my solo character.
And then came Cataclysm, which screwed up so many things. The group tried new characters, quickly grew bored at the fast pace of the revamped old-world content, where epic dungeons like Sunken Temple were carved down to fit the “30 minute or less” run time that the Dungeon Finder seemed to demand. We ran off to play other games after not too long, though if we had gone back to our old group and picked up where we left off at the end of WotLK, things might have gone better.
In the mean time, I ran my instance group character to level cap in Cata along with my solo character and then stopped playing.
Until I returned about a year after Mists of Pandaria, where I again ran my instance group character, Vikund, to the level cap along with Tistann. And then the instance group returned to Azeroth and I had to get in there and level up one of my druids so I would have somebody to play in the group. That druid, Alioto, is now level 90, as is my insta-90 character, a Death Knight named Tokarev.
So I have four level cap characters from which to choose, and potentially one more character on the way. My rogue, Trianis, is level 83 already. He won’t make it to 90 by Thursday (though weighed down in heirloom gear, he’ll be 85 tonight given 90 minutes of play time), but he could be an option for the instance group give our bad attendance of late. He could be level 90 by the time all five of us are online at the same time.
This is basically the first time I have had this wide of a choice.
The Draenor Contestants
Who should I send off to do what?
My oldest character in the game and the one I tend to think of a “me” in Azeroth and beyond, the character I most identify with. He was a pain to level back in the day when Paladins had no ranged attack except versus undead and no sort of “charge” substitute like warriors. I still remember being out in the crowded fields of Westfall having to run up to melee range of each mob only to have some mage or hunter tag the mob just before I got there. Vikund represents both identity and ~effort~ of a sort. So it is somewhat of a big deal to me where he goes.
My gut response is to use this moment when the whole group is back to the same level to trade him back in as a regular member. His glory days… my glory days… were from when he got swapped into the group at level 40 to replace the rogue I rolled up. The rogue was not working for me. So Vikund stepped in and went through the back half of vanilla as well as all of The Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King in the instance group. There was a point when I was almost actually good at playing him. And he is in a lot of those memory screen shots.
Through the years in Azeroth
The flip side of this is that the instance group has been moving slowly of late. Despite a blitz by four of us, the full group hasn’t finished Pandaria yet… and WoD is tomorrow. I am not sure if I want to I want to leave him loitering while the group gets its act together for the expansion. Furthermore, since the end of Wrath of the Lich King, Vikund has been my “do all the things” character. He is the one who has the most exalted reps, who ground out Argent Tournament, who got the explorer achievement, and has basically become my “achiever” in Azeroth, as limited as my achievements might be.
So despite my desire to have him rejoin the group for old time’s sake, I think he will remain my trail blazer. He will be the first one into Draenor, the first with a Garrison, the first to complete it, the one to do all the faction rep, the one who runs down every quest line, and so on.
Besides which, with him in the group we end up with two plate and three cloth wearers. It would be nice to have somebody there to big on leather or mail.
Tistann was my second character on the Eldre’Thalas server, and is second in my heart only to Vikund. He was a hunter back when the class was complicated, awkward, and didn’t quite fit into the whole tank/healer/DPS scheme of things. For quite a while, hunters were the odd class out. But if there was a class that was completely unlike playing a paladin, the hunter was it. Plus both classes were generally reviled for group play back in 2005.
But a hunter could solo like no other. You lacked bag space because you had to devote a slot to a quiver or ammo pouch and you had to keep track of ammo as well as keeping food not just for yourself but also your pet. I have a level 40 orc hunter sitting around that I will never delete because he is still equipped from circa 2006, with a quiver full of arrows and stacks of food for his pet. However, your flexibility with a pet to cover for you made up for that.
So through the years Vikund has blazed the trail, worked his way up to level cap first, and then Tistann comes bouncing up to the cap right behind him, generally taking about half the effort. Even at level cap in Pandaria, Vikund still has to work at soloing elites on Timeless Isle while Tistann and the right pet can blow through them non-stop without breaking a sweat, with a lower gear score to boot. Part of that is me being bad at the game, but I am universally bad, so it also says something about hunters.
With that in mind, I think Tistann will continue on in his role of second to the summit solo. I could bring him into the instance group. That would give us a mail wearer. But then we would end up as all ranged DPS. Not that I am in love with melee DPS, despite the fact that is pretty much every other character on this list, but sometimes it is good to have somebody else on the boss even though running around and positioning yourself can be a pain.
The real reason to make a druid is to get flight form, which may be the single best argument for having flight in World of Warcraft. I used to think my default go to class was the hunter… until I counted characters and realized I had more druids than anything. I have two druids on the alliance side of Eldre’Thalas. If you are a true fan of druids, you have to have two because it is the only class that has four specs. And there isn’t even a spec that really sucks. Well, I’ve never warmed to Boomkin, but it gets play in the game.
Alioto is spec’d feral as his primary for DPS and whatever the tank spec is as a backup for evenings when Earl can’t make it and we want to go do something silly. My other druid is spec’d healing and boomkin… I know these specs have actual names, but I never remember them… and is level 82, so could in theory make it to group level with some effort. But DPS and backup tank actually fits well with the group, and actually being able to jump into bear form while in feral spec has saved us a couple of times.
So Alioto staying with the group is the default choice. The easy choice.
That said, I am not exactly thrilled with feral DPS as a class/role, and doubly so after having played a real rogue up to level 83 already. Feral spec has its moments, but it pales in comparison to a rogue. But it is the spec that works with the group at the moment.
This is my insta-90 character. Death Knights have always been somewhat interesting to be, but not enough to devote the effort to leveling one up to cap. Tokarev has been around for a while, at least since WotLK, but has remained down the list when it comes to what to play. So I decided to boost him. So I went from having a level 68 that I played now and again to having a level 90 that I played now and again. I also got a level 600 jewel crafter. I ran him around a bit. He is mostly equipped with Timeless Isle gear that he earned on his own. He does a lot of damage. So he might make a decent character to swap into the group. A melee DPS who can take a punch and hold a boss for that last few seconds until he dies has some value.
I am not sure where his name came from. I think it was a name generator pick. It certainly wasn’t from my collection of often re-used names.
But he was going to be a throw-away character in any case. I rolled him up specifically as part of the summer Loremaster project. He isn’t even on Eldre’Thalas, but on Korialstrasz, which might be the one server name more difficult to say that Eldre’Thalas. The two servers are now joined, so he effectively plays in the same world as my other characters on Eldre’Thalas, but I have to change servers to log him in. But he was just a temp, so no big deal.
And then, as I ran him through the 1-60 game and into The Burning Crusade, I really started to enjoy playing him. I think was due to the fact that I did not go with the subtlety spec, which is what I have always picked in the past because rogues mean maximum stealth in my book. This time I went with the combat spec, which ended up being a better play style for me.
And so, when I finally gave up on the Loremaster project at the end of Summer, I kept playing him. I went slowly at first, getting him into WotLK. Then I sped up some, using the Dungeon Finder to level him up through Northrend, which was both easy and showed that the combat spec worked well in a dungeon group. I let him sit at 80 for a bit while I farmed materials for his tailoring and enchanting trade skills, which also made Vikund a tidy sum of gold. The gray drops alone from WotLK and Cata heroics add up. Then I piled on any herilooms I could buy/find on him and sent him into Cataclysm, where he has been good for a level a night with just about an hour invested.
The heirloom gravy train will be over soon, and which point I’ll send all that gear to my monk, but even leveling through Pandaria wasn’t a huge chore in past runs. That is the blessing/curse of the five level expansions. You can grind through them pretty quickly, but they also don’t provide as much substance.
So the question will be, can I level Trianis up in time to swap him in for Alioto in the instance group? And should I? I found the combat rogue more fun to play, even in groups, than the feral druid.
Other Last Minute Items
Who ends up doing what will be one of those things that will only be truly decided at the moment it is required. I suspect Vikund will be first into Draenor.
But there are other things to think about, as in what to do with this last evening before the expansion.
I have been tempted, for example, to pay the 5K gold (saw it as low as 3.5K over the weekend) to go on a “Garry Carry” raid, where a guild sells you a spot on a normal mode Downfall run so you can defeat Garrosh and get that guaranteed bind on account heirloom items. That will go away as soon as the expansion drops, and there is a minor compulsive feeling within me to “get it” before the opportunity is lost.
I also haven’t bothered to queue up and finish that special, pre-launch UBRS run, for which there is an achievement as I recall. I did get in one group a while back, but it was a very bad group running all over the place. So the second time we wiped on trash because the tank ran ahead while the healer was AFK, I left for other tasks.
Is there anything else I should do on the eve of the expansion? By the time I get home from work tomorrow, Draenor will be open, people will be flooding through the Dark Portal in a reverse invasion, and there will be long lines for all the rides in the fun new section of the amusement park. I will have to go in, just to see. But after the first look, it might be worthwhile to go back to Trianis and get him a little closer to 90. The only thing that has been slowing him down up to this point is that all of the Cataclysm zones seems to be quite active, full of players also driving to level up before the expansion. Maybe they’ll all go away and I’ll have a bit of peace to move ahead.
What will you be doing on the eve of the expansion?