Tag Archives: Insta Levels

The Level 70 Boost Question for Wrath of the Lich King Classic

As we move inexorably towards Wrath of the Lich King Classic next week I have been running down what it is I need to do between now and then.  Really, with the launch at 3pm on Monday local time for me, anything I want to do needs to get done by Sunday night.

Monday afternoon is not far away

I have met my basic goal… the whole group has… of having a level 68 character ready to go into Northrend.  Op success on that front.

In addition, my hunter has also made it to 68, so I have an alt that can run off into the expansion on his own, which is generally how things go for me.

I have also managed to get my druid alt kind of close.  He’ll probably be level 66 or 67 by Sunday night, so not quite there for Northrend, but close.  I will be able to get him there without too much effort, though I am trying to get him as far along as I can with the experience boost still running.  Make hay while the sun shines and all that.

There is also my Death Knight… I am not sure what I’ll do with him, but he and my warrior are level 60, so stuck in Outland and unlikely to get very far before the experience boost falls off.  The downside of no Dungeon Finder is that before character boosts, it was the fast way to level up alts.  I went through Outland with a couple of alts solely by queuing up for dungeons.  Fast and easy.

Which brings us to the level 70 character boost on offer.  If I really, really want another character in Northrend, that is an option.  The thing is, I am not too sure I would play more than my main and my hunter alt in the first place.

I am trying to balance my expectations and abilities when it comes to Wrath Classic.

On the one hand, Wrath is the only WoW expansion that I played from launch to end.  I was clearly into it.  Short of raiding, I did all the things, played through with alts, ran Wintergrasp regularly, and was basically logged in almost every day.  So there is clearly something in there I enjoyed.

On the flip side, and I have brought this up before, am I willing to do it all again?  As I noted with my post on Thursday, I already did a lot of this.  My main character in retail WoW has the titles and achievements and faction rep and artifacts to prove it.  And I do not regret having made the effort to get, for example, that Kalu’ak fishing pole.

But do I really want to do that all again?

Yes?  Maybe?  I don’t know.  We’ll see how it goes.

I mean, I might be really into it.  It is quite possible that I might want to do, for example, the Argent Tournament dailies again until I am exalted with every faction and have all the special mounts and tabards and whatever.  Maybe I will want to run multiple characters through the content.

Which brings us to the level boosts… or the Wrath of the Lich King Classic Upgrades, as they are called over on Blizzard’s site.  If I want a level 70, I can have one.  I just have to be willing to pay the price.

How much is a boost worth?

The base price for that instant level 70 is fifty bucks.

Did I even pay that much for Wrath of the Lich King back in 2008?  I can’t remember.  It was a long time ago.  But $40 seems to ring a bell.  I know I didn’t buy the collector’s edition, because I don’t have the frosty pet.

So I am kind of torn on this.  One part of my brain, bouncing and enthusiastic for Northrend, is all, “Yes, buy it! No, buy the $80 version!  Go all in!  You know you want to!”

But another part of my brain… the part that not only feels that lack of commitment to the retro experience I pondered on Thursday, but also the skepticism that Northrend is going to be nearly as much fun the second time through… that part of my brain says it would be a complete waste of money.  Am I really going to play more than three characters?

Finally, there is the question of which character I would boost in any case.  Three characters are already in or so very close to Northrend as to be not worth the effort.  I have a couple of level 60s, but one is a DK which can’t be boosted, while my warrior… just doesn’t thrill me.

What class would even be worth boosting?  What character do I have that is far enough back to be worth the effort.

Roll on brother Chad

I’m still trying to figure that one out.

Level 100 Heroic Upgrades are Coming to EverQuest, but Level 85 Upgrades will Remain

Another item from the roadmap posted back in January, EverQuest is getting level 100 heroic character upgrades in the cash shop next Wednesday.  At last!

Something to evoke heroism I think

If you’ve been around here for a while reading my commentary about EverQuest, you may have noticed my impatience at times with the state of heroic characters up until now.

Introduced back in 2014 as part of the game’s 15th anniversary celebration, it was of immediate interest to me because “insta-levels” as I called them were starting to become a thing.  At about the same time Blizzard was giving us details about the level 90 character boost that was going to come with the then upcoming Warlords of Draenor expansion, so it was kind of a topic of the time.

Anyway, at the time I was a little bemused about level 85 being the target.  The booster came out during the reign of the Call of the Forsaken expansion (#20), and the level cap at the time was 100.  85 hadn’t been the level cap since the Seeds of Destruction expansion (#15) and seemed a more appropriate level boost for something during the House of Thule expansion (#17) when the level cap was raised to 90.

But, whatever.  What was fifteen levels?  I couldn’t even find my way to the recommended zone after boosting with one of the free heroic upgrades they were handing out.

However, unlike other titles in the genre, including its sibling EverQuest II, the heroic character boost stayed at level 85 even as the level cap rose to the level 120 mark where it stands today.

Fifteen levels, maybe, but 35 in a game where the level cap rises by 5 every other expansion or so?  I suppose it depends on what the goal of the booster is, but that goal can’t be “get me up to the current expansion.”

And that question doesn’t get much better with the level 100 heroic character boost.  I mean, you do get some nice things for you 4,000 Daybreak Cash ($40 real world value):

  • 25,000 Platinum
  • Selyrah Mount
  • One Extra Mercenary Slot
  • Two 40-Slot Bags
  • Spells
  • Thousands of Auto-Granted Alternative Advancement Abilities (AA’s)
  • Full Set of Equipment, including weapons, armor, Power Source and Charm
  • Food, Drink, and Ammo
  • 200 Bayle Marks

But you’re still level 100, which as I pointed out, gets you to the level cap of the 20th expansion, but the 28th expansion is the current content, and the 29th expansion will be coming out by the end of the year.  That doesn’t leave you as far back as the first level boost attempt by Lord of the Rings Online, that stopped at level 50 when the level cap was 95, but it isn’t exactly putting you in the thick of things either.

And LOTRO at least fixed that later.  EverQuest is putting you behind the curve for $40 again.

And then there is the really odd part, which is that the level 85 heroic boost won’t be going away.  You will still be able to buy that for 3,500 ($35 real world value) and receive:

  • 15,000 Platinum
  • Jungle Raptor Mount
  • Two 24-Slot Bags
  • Spells
  • Thousands of Auto-Granted Alternative Advancement Abilities (AA’s)
  • Full Set of Equipment, including weapons, armor, Power Source and Charm
  • Food, Drink, and Ammo
  • 100 Bayle Marks

I don’t get who this is really for, but there it is.

I guess I shouldn’t worry about it.  I have always been a bit dubious of character boosts, which tend to plop you down in high level content with little or no clue how to play your class.  And that is especially true of EverQuest, where a caster can have hundreds of spells that the game is bad at telling you about and which you must pick through the awkward spell interface.

Seriously, I played a cleric up to level 50 for the 20th anniversary of the game, then got a free level 85 heroic boost and applied it to him, and pretty much made the character unplayable.

So I shouldn’t care about the boost only going to 85 or 100.  Even if it went straight to the level cap I’d be lost all the same.  But I am sure it will be of some benefit to somebody out there.  I wish them well and hope it works out for the game.

Do You Need a Level Booster for Shadowlands?

Almost exactly a year ago I wrote a post comparing four MMO expansions that were all available for pre-order.  Three of them, the expansions for EQ, EQII, and LOTRO, shipped back in late 2019.  The remaining one, Shadowlands, is expected to go live later this month.

There is probably an interesting discussion to be had comparing Blizzard’s longer horizon versus Daybreak’s ability to get an expansion… or something pretending to be an expansion… out every single year.

But I won’t be going there today.  Instead I want to pick up on one of the aspects of the pre-orders that I noted in that post from a year ago, the presence of character level boosters.

The level boost, or insta-levels, or whatever you want to call them, were seen as a solution to the “too many damn levels” problem that a relentless history of expansions… EverQuest will be going live with expansion number 27 this year… had created.

And level boosts were a quick and easy way to get characters into the latest content, the “good” stuff where most of the long term players were.  At least if you did them correctly.

LOTRO introduced one that only got people to the first expansion when there were already two more beyond that.  Not exactly into the “good” stuff.  They later changed that, but for a stretch their boost seemed hardly worth the price.

EverQuest had a decent boost that got you close to the current content.  But that was back when level 85 was good enough.  More than six years later their boost inexplicably still only goes to level 85 while the level cap is up around 115.

The EverQuest II side of the house managed to keep their boost up to date, so it would get you close to the latest content.  The main problem was that boosting up into a high level character left you with mind boggling array of skills and spells to sort out.

And then there was the team at Blizzrd which diligently updated their level boost concept with each expansion, throwing in such a boost with each purchase.  They even put together a little tutorial about your skills and how to play your freshly boosted character.

But that has changed with the coming of Shadowlands.  Blizzard decided to try and solve the levels problem by resetting everybody to level 50 as part of the big level squishShadowlands… and if my theory is correct, every expansion going forward… will get you the 50-60 experience while all of the old content exists in parallel 10-50 tracks.

I’m just going to keep using this graphic

With this change, the level boost option fell out of the basic expansion.  Blizz also knocked $10 off the price, reducing it from the $50 mark that they charged starting with Warlords of Draenor, back when the level boost idea was introduced.

Digital versions of Shadowlands

The question is whether or not the base edition needs it any more.

With the level squish there are certainly fewer levels between a new player and the “good” stuff, the new expansion.  And those levels come fairly quickly.  I had three characters at level cap before the squish and now have seven there with not a lot of effort.

WoWHead reported that the optimum route for a Horde player could get you to level 50 in under six hours.

You can also use an addon like Azeroth Auto Pilot to guide you quickly through.  You’re probably good in about eight to ten hours there as the addon tries to save you every second, to the point of auto-accepting quests as soon as you open them up.  Screw quest text, go go go go!

An old hand at the game can get there in under a day’s play time, so I am sure a new player could get there in two days or so.

But that still represents time and effort.  Blizzard knows this, which is why the level boost isn’t going away.  It is still there in the store if you want it.

Still seems expensive

Furthermore, if you want to spend just $20 more on the expansion and opt-in for the Heroic Edition, you get the character boost plus a new mount and a transmog set.  That is a hell of a deal, if you assume that the store price for the boots ($60) and the store price for mounts ($25) represent their actual value.

If you’re into that, then you’re probably already eyeing the Epic Edition, which for just $40 over the base package gets you all the stuff from the Heroic Edition plus a few more items.

The hard core though, they already know what they’re buying.

Shadowlands Collectors Edition – Physical Items

As the time for the expansion approaches and my need to grab a copy with it, I am leaning towards the base package.  If the character boost was the only factor in my decision, it would be done.  I have more than enough options at the level cap and, unless Shadowlands is really alt friendly, I will probably only end up pushing three or four characters through it total.

My Horde Battle for Azeroth Boost Plan

As has been a thing with the last few expansions, I was wondering how I should use the level 110 boost that came with the Battle for Azeroth expansion.  And, as I suggested in that post, I decided to go the Horde route.

I already had a level 110 Tauren druid, but wasn’t happy with the druid thing in Legion.  The only class with four specs and still I wasn’t happy, eh?

And while I thought about something new, like maybe a monk, in the end I copped out and went with a class I knew I would enjoy.  So now I have a level 110 Blood Elf paladin.

My new pally out in Uldum

Even the name was less than original.  I was running through names to see what I get and I put in the name of a friend who still plays on TorilMUD… and that name was available.  So now I have Nilan the Blood Elf pally.  I’ll have to apologize to the original if he finds out.

I had started working on a different pally with an eye towards getting to level 60 so I could get the trade skill boost along with the level boost… but then I found out that the trade skill boost went away with the 8.0 patch, when they redid how profession skills are distributed.  I was bummed on that.

On the other hand, during my nosing around to figure that out I ran across a suggested plan for how to boost a character.  Apparently if you roll up a fresh character and use the option to try it out at level 100 and then boost from there, you get more stuff.  An extra set of 22 slots bags is always appreciated, but better still you get a level three garrison in Warlords of Draenor if you go that route, with some key buildings already setup and a suite of followers.

This, and the changes to professions so that they are now served up per expansion rather than as one long, 800+ point single continuum, made up for the lack of trade skill boost.  The only reason I wanted the boost was to be able to make some 30 slot hexweave bags.  I am pretty much on track for that now.

All I need are the materials and I am set

Covered on that front I, ran him through the pre-expansion events in order to see them from the Horde side then, when the expansion actually hit, I ran off with Vikund, my alliance paladin and the oldest character I still play, and went to Kul Tiras with Jaina.

Having gotten stuck into that a bit, and impressed with the lay of the land, I decided I wanted a peek at Zandalar.

There are some spoilers about the Horde starting event past this point.  Not a lot of details, but key events are covered.  If you want to stop here, just know that if you’re going to run them both and you want to do them in chronological sequence, you should do the Horde first, then the Alliance.

That starts off the same way on the Horde as it does the Alliance.  You have to run off to Silithus to wrap things up and get the Heart of Azeroth so you can play with azerite.

Still looks like a magic pocket watch to me…

Then you’re back to Orgrimmar where Sylvanas has a new task for your.  She wants you to go on a raid to Stormwind to break out some prisoners from the stockades.

In the Stockades you visit Saurfang who, like many players, is still bitter about what happened during the pre-expansion events.

In Saurfang’s cell

He won’t escape with you and talks on about honor and seems prime to be the resolution to the Horde Warchief problem at the end of the expansion.

Also on the list of prisoners of interest are a couple of high ranking Zandalari trolls.

They don’t stand out at all in Stormwind…

Sylvanas wants the Zandalari as allies, just as Jaina went to Kul Tiras looking for allies, so these two were a bargaining chip.

As we broke them free we were discovered and ended up in a running battle with the 7th Legion, who dogged our every step as we tried to slip down to the docks where a boat waited to carry us off.

Eventually even Jaina stopped by to say “Hi” to as as we tried to get to the docks.

Not the Jaina I remember from Kul Tiras

However she had other fish to fry… or fires to put out.  It seemed that Stormwind was having a flammability issue.

Seriously, is there anything the Horde won’t try to burn down?

That gave us the breathing room… sans smoke inhalation… to make it on to the boat and set sail.  However the locals set out in pursuit of us.

Stormwind Navy is in hot pursuit…

However, as we sailed through a fog bank and closed in on Zandalar, we met their navy.  They made short work of the Alliance ships, with only one surviving to escape.

The Zandalari open fire

This I recognized from the Alliance starter story.  As you speak to King Anduin Wrynn he is interrupted by a report from the surviving ship about what happened here.  This is what sends the Alliance looking for allies in Kul Tiras and has Jaina back home with her very unhappy mother.

So yes, as I noted above, if you want to do this in chronological order, you should do the Horde starter first, then the Alliance.

After that I was into Zandalar and… and… it was everything I hoped for.

Welcome to Zandalar!

And when I say, “everything I hoped for,” what I mean is something like a Blizzard homage to The Emperor’s New Groove, one of my secret Disney favorites.

I mean, it isn’t blatant… and the city is amazing and beautiful… and it takes itself as seriously as an Azeroth setting can.

With King… and I am not making this up… Rastakhan

But the city is also very over the top, with stairs and giant carvings and images, and when the possibility of the King throwing me out the window came up if he was displease, I will admit I laughed.  It is very much an Andean civilization setting in its way… only with dinosaurs.

Even flying dinosaurs

Anyway, you get yourself setup in the city without the inconvenience of having to escape from jail or anything.  Portals are opened to the Horde cities so you can get back home, you get a tour of the location and can check in with the profession trainers to get the current starting level for the expansion.

Then it was time to choose a zone to start in.  As with Kul Tiras, there are three zones on Zandalar to choose from.

The zone choice map

I did not make a choice yet, though there is a story for each zone.

This is the reason I wanted to boost a level 110 Horde in a class I enjoyed, so I could see all six of the initial zones and run through the stories within.

Of course, it turns out that just because you’re Alliance it doesn’t mean you won’t be running around on Zandalar.  Vikund had already been for a visit.

Warning: Heart of Darkness references ahead…

But that is a tale for another post.

The Battle for Azeroth Character Boost Question

Another one of those now traditional points of transition between expansion. I purchased Battle for Azeroth a while back, so I am wondering what I ought to do with that level 110 boost that comes with it.


With Warlords of Draenor I boost a death knight to level 90 and with Legion I eventually ended up boosting a mage to level 100.

The death knight was a success and is one of the character that stands ready at level 110.

The mage… was less successful.

I mean, I guess it depends on how you define success. Said mage is also level 110, so clearly got some play time. But I found playing the mage not very fun and, while I got in there and got him his artifact weapon and all that, I eventually just used him for pet battles for a while until he hit level 110.

I also did that with both druids and my rogue. I played them more than the mage, but I found the druids under powered as feral and the combat spec rogue a little too squishy. The latter was a bit of a surprise as I had played him up to 100 towards the end of Warlords of Draenor, using the pre-Legion events to get him lined up for that expansion. (Remember that one time when pre-expansion events gave good experience?)

I mean, it may be just how the classes played out in Legion, but I really only enjoyed playing the heavily armored melee classes. Just jumping into the fray and beating on baddies was clearly my thing. The retribution pally was my main for the expansion, while I also did quite a bit with the death knight and a warrior.

The main exception to that was my hunter, always my primary alt. But hunters are special.

So given my experiences in Legion, what I enjoy, and that my ret pally seems even more badass in 8.0 than I expected (at least up until today’s patch nerf), my predilection is to boost something that is similar, or possibly the same, as the classes I enjoyed in Legion.

The first one I am thinking about is a monk. I have a 60-ish Panderan monk sitting around from back when we all made pandas because we could, but I never really got into it. I think he is only past 60 because of the Legion pre-expansion events. The upside of the monk is its paladin-like “be all the things” three specs. I would likely only go DPS, but that I could be a healer or a tank is something of a draw.

The downside is that by this point I really don’t have a good feel for monks as a class and, having felt let down by the way feral druids played in Legion, I do worry a bit about expending a boost on another leather wearing melee class.

The monk fits the model from the past, bringing a new class into the mix on the Alliance side. But with Battle for Azeroth I wonder if having a class I like on the Horde side of things might be a better plan.

For all the angst about the Horde vs. Alliance aspect of Battle for Azeroth,  It does sound like there might be significantly different paths for players on either side of the divide.  One of the disappointments with playing the opposite faction is discovering just how quickly both sides merge into essentially the same quest line.  It sounds like my Alliance characters will be heading to Kul Tiras, while the Horde side will be headed to Zandalar, and I don’t want to miss out on the Zandalari trolls.

Battle for Azeroth map with the new islands

The trolls have the best architecture… “more spikes dammit!” is not their primary design philosophy… so I don’t want to miss out on that side of things.  So a Horde character seems like a good option for a boost.

While I already have a 110 druid there, I have been down on the druid thing for most of Legion. So another class is probably in order.

The primary one would be a Horde paladin. If a pally is/stays hot to trot for the Alliance, then it ought to be likewise for the Horde. That just leaves the question of which race? A blood elf feels like the right answer, but I also like tauren and could go either regular or Highmountain on that front.  Alas, the Nightborne don’t do the pally thing.

I could also go with a deathknight or a warrior on the Horde side to boost. The DK would have the advantage of starting at level 55, so I could just get up to 60 quickly enough, select a trade skill, then boost and get both the level and the trade skill up to 110. On the warrior side, I already have a Highmountain tauren warrior. I could boost him I suppose.

Moose on moose action outside Orgrimmar

An alternate Horde plan could be to go with a hunter. Again, a special class, and I have an Orc hunter that has been slowly leveling up over the years. I managed to get him to level 40 back in 2007 so he could have a mount.

Wolf mount doesn’t look happy

Things were different back then.  He sat neglected for quite a while and was likely the last hunter I had on my account that still had a quiver with ammunition in his inventory. I have dragged him out every so often just to do things on the Horde side. He is level 61 now, so would have the trade skill thing going for him like the DK. He even holds the Horde guild we put together back in 2005 or so.

But I have never really had a lot of affection for the Orcs, aside for that quest where you beat the napping peons in the starter area. I think I would be happier with another race.  Or at least the upright Orc model that has been promised.  That might help.

Anyway, I don’t need to get the boost decision set right away.  While Battle for Azeroth is just over six days away, since it launches in the US at 3pm Pacific Time on August 13th as part of the world-wide launch, I suspect that it will be a few days before things settle down and, once that happens, my Alliance paladin will be first over the top and into the new content.

Eventually though I will want to start in on alts and will want to see Zandalar, so it would be good to start getting any potential alt up to 60 for the trade skill boost benefit… if that is still a thing.  Given how much trade skills have changed, I had best read up on that to see if it is worth the effort.

How to Level Up in EverQuest II the Easy Way

There are three easy steps:

  1. Create a Daybreak account
  2. Wait until they offer a free character boost
  3. Profit!!!

For the last few years I think I have only leveled up in EQII when Daybreak offers yet another free character boost, like the one that they just made available:

Offer good through May 22, 2017

The information is also in the release notes for this week’s update:


  • All accounts created before April 20th 2017 will be granted a level 100 boost item that will increase a single characters level to 100 and grant a set of equipment appropriate to playing within the Proving Grounds, or beginning their adventure in Kunark Ascending zones.

  • Accounts created after April 20th may obtain the level 100 boost item by subscribing. Only a single boost will be granted per account.

So you can see why I suggest you make an account in advance.

My account was created on November 12, 2004, so I think I am safe.  With this I think I will have a level 85, a level 95, and two level 100 characters and I think I only ever played any of them up to level 70 back in the day.  I think this time around I decided to level up Reynaldo on the Halls of Fate server.  He’s been hanging around in the Revelry & Honor guild since 2008 at about level 50.

To get the level boost you have to use the /claim command to bring up the claim window.  The boost bauble is in the Promotions section.

Level 100 Boost Bauble

When you activate it, hey presto, you are level 100.  You also get a package of gear.

Gear for you

I could not open up the packet of level 100 equipment because Reynaldo’s bags were full of junk, because of course they were.  But I think I will leave his cosmetic gear set to the rusty armor he has been sitting in for most of the last decade.

Reynaldo in the Sinking Sands

Maybe some day I will get around to playing him again.  However, my luck with Daybreak level boosts has not been so good.  I boost up and then tend to find myself lost in uncharted territory.  Ah well.

But if you do boost yourself up, you will find that they are also running a double currency event in the game as well, because who cares about inflation!

Time to Log into LOTRO

Since the Standing Stone Games announcement Lord of the Rings Online has been in transition from one company to another, including tapping Daybreak to be their publisher. (Still wondering on that one.  A follow on from SOE publishing the Asheron’s Call 2 expansions?)

This month we get another change.  It seems that the billing system is moving over from Turbine.  In order to charge VIPs… subscribers… they have to log in and agree to new terms.

This is a dangerous time, financially.  There are always a group of players out there who just stay subscribed even when they are not playing.  SSG stands to lose subscribers unless they can get people to log in and click the button enabling the new terms.

So they are offering up a free horse.

Also, thank you for paying your bill!

Also, thank you for paying your bill!

To get this special mount you will need to log into LOTRO between today… once the maintenance period is over… and March 13th.  According to the small FAQ on the announcement page, you must log all the way in to a character in order to receive the mount.  All of your characters, and any future characters you create, will then have access to this mount.

Lifetime subscription VIPs also get the mount if they log in a character during the February 6 through March 13 time frame.   That lifetime subscription I bought back in 2007 might be the best MMO deal ever for me.

A great deal even discounting the fact that I bought the next three expansions (Mines of Moria, Siege of Mirkwood, and Rise of Isengard ) and have only really played my way into Mirkwood.  I left off over a year ago in Mirkwood which, true to the books, was a dank locale, if somewhat more densely populated that I recalled.

Sure, that must be it...

Sure, that must be it… delusional dwarves

Nothing like a bleak zone to kill your appetite for a game.

I still log in about once a month, if only to keep the clunky patcher from having to work forever should I decide I want to play and, of course, to make sure I get my 500 LOTRO points every month.  That stipend has collected over time, allowing me to purchase both the Riders of Rohan and Helm’s Deep expansions.

So I am as up to day on purchased content as I can be.  I am just stuck in motivation-sucking Mirkwood, so any hope of catching up to the tip of the story is vanishingly remote.

What I need is something like that boost that SWTOR gave players at one point where you could level up at the right rate just playing through the story line as opposed to having to do all of the side quests and grinding a bit on the side.

An epic-only path through the game being unlikely, I am considering the finally useful

Two blessings, depending on your need

Two blessings, depending on your need

A little over a year back the LOTRO team finally got on board with the insta-levels idea and upped the boost from level 50… which seemed comically low… to level 95.

The blessing comes in two flavors, one for a character under level 50 and an upgrade version for character over level 50, some of whom may have used the previous version that only got players to 50.  Fortunately, I have plenty of LOTRO points and a selection of characters over level 50, so I can go with the upgrade.  It offers:

Instantly become level 95! Includes many extra boosts and buffs.

Receive a blessing from the Valar that makes your character powerful enough to pass through the Paths of the Dead and beyond. After using the Blessing of the Valar, your character will instantly be raised to level 95! Delivers a package that contains the following: *Blessing of the Valar Item, *A set of level 95 gear, *3 Third Age LIs, *Instant access to Mounted Combat and Legendary Items, *1 Gold piece, 800 Silver pieces, *4 ranks of each virtue, *The Riding skill, *A Steed of the Citadel, *A 25-stack of food that scales with your level, *A 25-stack of Morale and Power potions that scale with your level, *5 +100% XP Boosts, *Three single-use maps, one each to Rivendell, Aldburg, and Snowbourn, *25 Mithril Coins. This offer is discounted and can only be used by characters that are already level 50 or higher.

That will at least get me the hell out of Mirkwood.  The question is, where will I end up?  As I have noted, not all insta-levels are equal.  If you get a level 100 boost in WoW, you are guided into the latest content and can start there without concern as to what came before.  However, if you get that level 100 (or 95) boost in EQII, the game pretty much laughs at you as you press your nose against the glass separating you from the new stuff.  Go back and do the prerequisites loser!

So I will be interested to see how LOTRO handles the level boost transition.  Will I be pointed in the right direction or left standing at a stable master… the Middle-earth equivalent of a bus station in the bad part of town… in some random settlement?  Either way, I might as well give it a go.  I am sitting on a pile of points and am unhappy where I am, and at least I’ll have a new horse to tool around on.

Subscription Deals and Free Level Boosts and Bad Timing

Oh EverQuest II, you are forever off in your timing.

Daybreak is doing a big push this week to get players invested in the game.

The latest game update introduces a Fabled version of the Fallen Dynasty adventure pack from mid-2006.  There are some special, limited time public quests running.  Several zones have been added to the level agnostic list.  And the content of 2014’s Altar of Malice expansion has been been made available to all players, subscribed or not, leaving only last year’s Terrors of Thalumbra as content you must purchase. (I am not sure what happened to the Hunter S. Thompson inspired Rum Diary adventure pack that came out a while back, when they weren’t going to do expansions any more.)

More would be the Altar of Malice expansion I guess...

More would be the Altar of Malice expansion I guess…

In addition to that, the insta-level program has been bumped up a notch, so when you buy a Heroic Character upgrade, it now boosts your character up to level 95.  To celebrate this, they are giving players a free Heroic Character upgrade, which you must collect before noon Pacific Time on Tuesday, September 6th. (Details at the link.)

Heroic dude is heroic... and sort of looks like Thor from the movie

Heroic dude is heroic… and sort of looks like Thor from the movie

And, just to top all that off like a sweet, glistening, unnaturally red maraschino cherry on top of a too large ice cream sundae, Daybreak is also offering a special deal on All Access subscriptions.

Good through August 29

Good through August 29

$71.99 for a 12 month subscription is a decent deal.  That works out to, as the Daybreak copy reads, less than $6.00 a month, though only if you live in a world that allows transactions at 1/12th of a penny.  Still, minor quibble aside, that is less than half price over the month-by-month $15 rate, and $4.00 a month less that the usual discount for subscribing for 12 months at a stretch.

All of which would be awesome news… if it had come in August of 2015 when I was disaffected by World of Warcraft and garrisons in Draenor and there wasn’t even a war going on in New Eden and all that.

But now?  Daybreak is laying this offer down with just a few days left until the WoW Legion expansion hits?  I mean, I love you guys down in San Diego, but I’ve already sent a card to Gul’dan letting him know to expect us in the Broken Isles come August 30th.

You can't always find hearts in fel green on cards

You can’t always find hearts in fel green on cards

It does seem to be the fate of EverQuest II to forever be in the shadow of World of Warcraft.  They launched less than a month apart, leading to five years of “What if…” articles and posts wondering how Norrath would have fared had it not launched straight into the teeth of the Azerothian juggernaut.

So, while I don’t have a lot of WoW specific activities penciled in on my calendar for the weekend… my Tauren warrior is already level 58, so my goal to get him to 60 is nearly done… from Tuesday forward I look to be pretty well booked in Azeroth and the Broken Isles.

And by the time I want a little break from that content, Pokemon Sun & Moon will be out and I will be able to flop on the couch with my 3DS and play that as a break from Azeroth.

So Daybreak… maybe you could run this offer by me again in maybe 9-12 months?

Pondering That Legion Level 100 Boost

We just entered the second week of pre-Legion events.  I have been running through them just to make sure I do not miss anything.  Last week’s, the opening of the invasion, was pretty fun.  This weeks seems to mostly involve listening to Khadgar talk.

Have shovel, will... listen to some old guy talk and talk...

Have shovel, will… listen to some old guy talk and talk…

Okay, it wasn’t all talking.  I had to travel to Dalaran’s new location… though it is still in its old location as well, though I am sure somebody will tell me the lore says that there are not two Dalarans… and there was something about retrieving and overdue library book.  It was hard to tell, as Khadgar is not voiced, so his monologue is all in the chat window in a yellow/tan colored font that blended right into the background colors, rendering it illegible to me.  I could only really follow when people were shouting… and people did shout… though I felt like I missed something in between shouts.  However you just have to follow Khadgar around, click on whatever sparkles, kill whoever is red, and you are about set.

I assume next week we will have a new chapter in the pre-Legion events.

My daughter was doing the invasions with a low level character once she discovered that they scaled to your level.  She was out there with a level 32 paladin fighting shoulder-to-shoulder with level 100s and everything worked perfectly, plus the exp was huge, allowing her to level up.  So Blizzard nerfed that.  The cynic in me says that you can’t have people catching up too fast when you want to sell level 100 boosts.

Which brings us to today’s pondering.  When the WoW Legion expansion finally arrives at our home, it will include a level 100 boost as part of the package.  As I wondered what to do with the Warlords of Draenor level 90 boost, now I wonder what the upcoming level 100 boost.

The choice ought to be easier this time around.  I already have five level 100s here at the eve of WoW Legion, compared to just three level 90s before Warlords of Draenor.  So I can drop the following from the list:

  • Paladin
  • Hunter
  • Druid
  • Deathknight
  • Rogue

Add in the fact that I will also get to roll up an effectively level 100 Demon Hunter and that will be six characters ready for Legion covering half of the available classes.

Which leaves the following to choose from for the boost:

  • Mage
  • Monk
  • Priest
  • Shaman
  • Warlock
  • Warrior

At this point, with half the classes at level cap currently, I have to start wondering which class would even add anything to my play experience.  I have rolled up all of the classes and, aside from the warlock, played them up to at least level 40.

My gut is to go with the warrior, another plate wearing melee class, which is more my style for solo play.  I haven’t really enjoyed the cloth wearing caster classes in WoW over the life of the game.  That would leave Monk or Shaman as alternatives, though the Shaman has always been a strange bird as well.

On top of all of that, we just had the WoW 7.0 class revamp patch a few weeks back that made some people unhappy.  I am certainly unhappy with my Hunter, and doubly so because I was looking forward to having three viable Hunter specs.  Instead I feel like Blizzard just wants people to stop playing Hunters.

I am also a bit cranky still with my Paladin.  I have gotten somewhat used to the retribution spec at this point, but it still feels awkward.

On the other hand my Druid(s), at least in feral spec, seems to play just fine.  I like being able to cast moonfire… along with a bonus healing touch now and again… when in cat form.  Works for me!

So I might have to throw out what I know about some classes and ask which of them actually got better after the 7.0 patch.  I have noticed  of late that in any group, the top damage output always seems to be some arcane missile throwing Mage.  But I have also heard people bitching about the Warlock changes.

And then there is the wildcard in the equation for me.

When it came to the Warlords of Draenor boost, I eventually went with a Deathknight, mostly because he was over level 60 and so also got me trained up on a pair of primary professions with the boost.  However, given the state of crafting in Draenor, that was less of a bonus than I thought it might be.  I did play him through to level 100 and I did get him a level 3 garrison, but I didn’t do much else with him.  He hasn’t built a shipyard or been to Taanan Jungle or anything.

In hindsight, however, I feel as though I made an error.  And not just an error in choosing a Deathknight, but an error in choosing which faction.  After my third or fourth time through Draenor as an Alliance character, I began to wonder if perhaps I ought to have gone with a Horde character so I could at least play through their version of the story line and maybe play with their (pointy) version of a garrison.

In fact, one reason I did not boost a Horde character is that the ones I have are all still in their 60s and one of the things on my long term “To Do” list is to play the Horde side of the story in… basically all the expansions.  And I haven’t done that yet.

So I am thinking that this time around I will boost a Horde character… and get back to the previous expansions at some later date.

Of course, that just throws the gates wide open on class choices.  If the difference is going to be storyline, it doesn’t matter so much if I do it with another Druid of Paladin I suppose.

And then there is the question as to what server I should roll up my new character.  Again, without a guild or any Horde pals, I am not exactly tied to Eldre’Thalas.

So I have a couple weeks to figure that out.  What are you doing with your level 100 boost?  And what would you do in my position?

Turbine Finally Figures Out Insta Levels, Will Send You to Level 95 in LOTRO

About two years back we hit the era of the insta levels, at least in MMORPGs.  It was an attempt to fix the “levels” problem, where the distance between the core player base and any new players grows increasingly daunting over time.

SOE was out in front with level boosts, first in EverQuest II and later in EverQuest.

Blizzard first offered an insta level boost as part of the Warlords of Draenor expansion, then as a separate $60 options.

Star Wars: The Old Republic came up with their own twist on the whole thing later on.

And then there was Turbine and their Gift of the Valar plan.

The Valar aren't what they used to be...

The Valar aren’t what they used to be…

In the face of their core population being distant from the newbies and seeing their competitors offer options to grant direct access to their latest expansions, Turbine chose to offer a boost that would bring people to level 50 and their first expansion, The Mines of Moria.

For 4,995 Turbine points, or somewhere between $38 and $75, depending on discounts and bonus points, you could jump past the 2007 content and straight to the then five year old 2008 expansion.  Specifically, you would get:

  • Character boosted to level 50
  • A set of level 50 gear
  • 1 Gold piece
  • An LIXP rune, worth enough XP to bring one LI to level 10
  • 4 ranks of each virtue
  • The Riding skill
  • A Dusky Nimblefoot Goat
  • A 25-stack of food that scales with your level
  • A 25-stack of Morale and Power potions that scale with your level
  • 5 +100% XP Boosts
  • A single-use map to Rivendell
  • 25 Mithril Coins

Some nice stuff in that.  And sure, it would get people past those first 50 levels.  But, in my opinion, it really did little to solve the “levels” problem in a game where the level cap was at 95. (The cap is 100 now, isn’t it?)  Turbine’s major innovation seemed to be to make the Gift of the Valar only available at special times as opposed to being a regular item in the LOTRO store.

The only real excuse I could see for this was that Turbine’s business model involves selling content, so boosting somebody close to the level cap would leave them without all the content and expansions between the starter zones and where they landed.  Of course, they were not exactly slick on that front either, as boosting people to 50 means that they immediately need to buy the Mines of Moria expansion.

Life with Turbine.

I have no idea if the Gift of the Valar was a big success or not, it was just an option I would never consider, feeling very much like a half measure as it did.

Well, apparently something… slow sales, customer complaints, a need to boost revenue… changed Turbine’s collective mind on the insta levels front.  In their current patch notes for update 17.1, the following two line items sit:

  • Blessing of the Valar – Level your character to 95, catch up to your friends, and jump into the Epic Quests to help defend Gondor!
  • Blessing of the Valar Upgrade – Already over level 51? Level your character to 95 with this option.

There is no elaboration in the post, just those two items, but they seem like a step in the right direction.  And since Turbine has gotten out of the expansion (and presumably the level cap boosting) business, this will be a solid offer to get people into the latest content additions without much effort.  Turbine’s plan this year has been focused on consolidating their population after all.

We shall see what they end up offering with this new Blessing of the Valar when it goes live.  There is a video up (hat tip: Massively OP) that shows the price (5,995 Turbine Points) and what is currently offered on the test server, but that may not be final.

Of course, here is the point in the post where I generally poo-poo whatever Turbine is up to lately.  I personally disliked the Gift of the Valar in part because I thought that at least to 1-40 experience in LOTRO was both smooth and swift as well as being something of a necessary introduction to how to play your classes.   Maybe there was a bit of shaking my fist at kids these days skipping past content I quite enjoyed on multiple passes, but not much.  It was more that the whole thing was, as I said, a half measure.  It didn’t jump you far enough ahead to be worthwhile.

With the level 95 boost, this seems like a much better plan.  I’m not sure I would buy it, but I wouldn’t completely rule it out as I did with the level 50 boost.  And I would sort of like to see the new stuff in LOTRO.

That said, I still think they have the wrong plan.  Here is what I would do.

First, I would go back and make sure that all of the book quests were really doable solo, and add in a solo option where there is none. (There were still a couple of those the last time I passed through.)  And not just a half-assed checkup, but a real deep look to tune the whole thing so that an average player can do it solo.

Then I would steal the SWTOR twist… I don’t know if a 12x experience boost would do it, or maybe just auto-level you up to the same level of the book quest you are on… and put a package in the LOTRO Store that would allow you to level up a character by running just the story line book quests.

That’s it.  You start at level 1, buy the option, start in on Volume I, Book I – Stirrings in the Darkness at one end and finish up where ever they are in Volume III (Book XIV?) or wherever, after which they are at or near the level cap and free to carry on from there.  No side quests, nothing blocking your way, all travel between areas worked into the package, and no need to buy the additional content.

The standard arguments against any insta level scheme apply to this as well.  But, as with other such offers, the most likely buyers are people who have already done the grind, or a good portion of it, already.  The core player base is much more likely to buy this sort of thing for an alt than a new player trying the game for the first time is.

Anyway, that is my thought.  If nothing else, I am glad to see Turbine coming to grips with the reality of their current insta level situation.

Others opining on this:

(I will add more, if I see any, as they appear)