Alts in Outland

Considering that I went into Classic BC with four characters at the old level cap and how gung-ho I felt about the expansion at first, I didn't think it was going to take me this long to level more than one character to 70, yet here we are. On Saturday I finally hit level 70 on my mage.

One reason I struggled to work up enough enthusiasm to level my alts was that I'd forgotten just how samey the 60-70 experience feels in BC. Sure, there's enough content there that you could technically mix it up a bit by e.g. skipping straight ahead to Zangarmarsh and mostly ignoring the quests in Hellfire Peninsula, but it's most of those quests that give the best rewards to help get you started in Outland, so do you really want to skip them? But then doing the same few quest chains over and over within the course of only a couple of months gets old pretty quickly.

I would have expected that my natural tendencies would push me towards getting either a tank or a healer up next, for their utility in group content but well... that turned out to be more complicated than expected - more on that in a bit. The mage had the advantage that I could farm and quest with ease even while keeping an eye out for dungeon groups, but more than anything else, her professions were an incentive to work on her before any of my other alts. Specifically, I really wanted to level her tailoring to be able to upgrade my bags across all my characters without having to pay anyone any money, and while her enchanting is still very behind, I at least got it high enough to be able to disenchant Outland greens and blues and keep myself supplied with my own enchanting materials.

Even so, her actual progress in terms of levels happened in fits and spurts, meaning big pushes followed by periods of complete inactivity, the latest of which had set in just after she'd hit level 69. Interestingly, what ended up finally motivating me to get that last level was the fact that last Thursday, on her 13th Prince kill, my hunter finally got her Sunfury Bow of the Phoenix - meaning that in terms of loot, she's now more or less done with Kara. But I want to have an excuse to keep running it without contributing to all the loot getting sharded! So I ground out that last level on my mage at last so that she can be my replacement in tier four going forward... after all, Blizzard went ahead and took out the Kara attunement early (yes, even though we're only in phase two you can already get in there by having someone else open the gate for you), so it really was just about hitting the level cap, not even necessarily about completing my own attunement.

My holy pally and feral druid are both still level 62 and in somewhat of a weird place. Since Sarelle was the alt on which I raided Naxx, I naturally assumed that she would be my next priority after Tir, but healers were actually somewhat in overabundance right after the Dark Portal opened. I blame the 40-man raids... because if you look at their group make-up and then were to split them up into nothing but five-man groups, you'd actually end up with about the right amount of dps, but too few tanks and too many healers. That's why our little dungeon group on launch night ran with not one but two healers... so there really was no demand for healer alts on top of that.

In addition, the nerfs to holy paladins and buffs for all the other healing classes meant that they also feel somewhat less fun to play than in Classic, relatively speaking. I mean, you look at something like a healing druid getting tree form and compare it to holy pallies getting a mana cost reduction cooldown that only slightly compensates for the fact that their mana regen was hit with a massive nerf bat to begin with, and... yeah.

My feral druid on the other hand has had very different but no less interesting problems. Tanks are always in demand, right? The thing is, I tanked one dungeon for my guildies and it was strictly speaking a success... there were no wipes and I'm not sure we even had a single death, but aggro was all over the place and my health kept bouncing up and down like a yo-yo because I was so badly geared. (Having only hit 60 during the pre-patch, my druid was the least geared of all my alts.) This ultimately left me feeling bad about the whole experience and I vowed to myself to not tank another dungeon until I'd got some gear upgrades from Outland quests, plus I also specced out of my hybrid spec into full feral to get the extra threat generation from Mangle.

And that's... where I'm still sitting now. Her gear is much better already, but I'm still hesitant to tank again. I'm not afraid of tanking in principle, but tanking roles in BC have also shifted from how they were in Classic, and at least when it comes to dungeons, paladins are very much the flavour of the month expansion. It's not that warriors and druids can't do the job, or even that I'd think a group that has been "LF tank" for a while wouldn't be happy to take any class, but warrior and druid tanks have to work so much harder than pallies to keep aggro and of course the dps don't like waiting two seconds to give you time to build threat, so it makes for an unsatisfying experience all around and I'm actually not sure I want to deal with that.

Maybe you're reading these last few paragraphs and find yourself wondering: Why not just swap roles? Make the druid my healer and the paladin my tank? And indeed, why not? It would certainly solve a lot of my gameplay issues... but at the same time it doesn't mesh with the identities I envisioned for either of these characters, and that's still something that matters to me too, so I don't know. It's a slightly awkward situation.


  1. I had always intended to level my main (Warlock) through chain running instances in TBC. But, because I was 'late' getting into the content (by which I mean I started only a week or so after launch), all others in my guild and friends group had outlevelled me and were already in the mid 60s range. So I ended up doing a fair share of questing.

    In the last few weeks I finally got my Blood Elf pally up to level 60, mainly boosted with rested XP all the way. Now dipping my toes into Outlands and it has been really refreshing being able to get a dungeon group usually within 5-10 minutes as a pally tank. On my lock I would often have to wait 30 minutes or more just to get a group as DPS.

    I think you are right that pallies are on a different level early on in TBC. They hold aggro much more easily with Consecrate, and despite not being all that geared (obviously no raid gear from Classic), my health doesn't seem to dip all that much in the dungeons so far. Admittedly I've only done Ramps and Blood Furnace. I think Warriors and Druid tanks probably catch up as they progress towards 70 and especially with some decent gear.

    1. What I'm talking about has nothing to do with gear though. Both warriors and druids are perfectly capable of tanking all the dungeons, but the lack of AoE abilities means tabbing through and hitting every single mob, which is a lot more work and inherently limits your aggro generating abilities. The way paladins can just hit consecrate and instantly have snap aggro on everything is just on a completely different level.

  2. I completely understand your thoughts about the identities your toons had versus your current needs (tanks and whatnot). How is Tir doing, anyway?

    1. Well, like I said in the post she finally got her bow, which is nice. Thursday Karazhan has made a return for now and I might keep going on my mage.

      Otherwise Tir still has quests to do in Netherstorm and SMV which I'm slowly chipping away at. And I've done a few more of the Ogri'la dailies despite of the complaints in my last post.