While playing, I have been spending much more time these days on my alts and yet oddly, I still only have one 85. My lowbie Shaman and the other Fannon have been keeping my attention these days at the expense of my higher level alts. Fannon the Second is about to hit level 40, and Thallie the Shaman just dinged 30 last night.
I must say that the levelling experience after Cataclysm is superb. The pace seems fine tuned; it's quick and fun, but doesn't overreach the level of the zone unless you use heirlooms or run dungeons. The quests themselves are executed better as well, with a vast majority of the tedious and time consuming running back and forth between quest-givers and quest areas removed. Duskwood in particular has benefited from getting rid of the need to run back to Darkshire from the Raven Hill graveyard every 10 minutes.
The two alts that I am levelling up simultaneously are both using a different approach: Fannon, my Protection Paladin on Azuremyst, is questing and trying to amass as much gold as possible, while Thallie, my Shaman on my main server is in full heirlooms and levelling up through the random dungeon finder.
FANNON THE PALADIN AND THE QUEST TO GET STINKIN' RICH
Firstly, I am finding it damned confusing to have two characters the same name. Normally, all of my characters have unique names and, while I don't do any roleplaying, in my head at least they are all unique individuals. When I created a new character on Azuremyst, I named him Fannon because the guild I was joining is full of people from the Blogosphere and Twitter who know me by that name. However, I'm finding it annoying when referring to the two Fannons in writing, and calling the Paladin "Fannon 2.0" kinda ruins the immersion for me.
Anyway, attempting to put aside my own mental problems, I am astonished at how quickly Fannon of Azuremyst is progressing through the levelling content. Obviously, starting on a new server means that this Fannon doesn't have access to any Bind to Account Heirlooms or any help other than the perks that being a member of a Level 11 guild will bring. However, even lacking heirlooms I am plowing through the levels.
Same-level quest mobs get mowed over like tall grass in front of a riding mower piloted by a cocaine fiend. Quests are turned in by the bunch. Quest hubs are squeezed and used up like limes during a tequila drinking contest. The quests and the levels just fly by.
In what seems like very little time (in fact it's a little over a day of actual playtime), my little Effin' Paladin is about to ding 40. All of these levels were done with questing; he hasn't stepped foot into a dungeon yet. It's a little hard to believe he's that high, because the levelling process has seemed completely effortless.
The other bit of interest with Azuremyst Fannon is my goal of becoming wealthy by level 85. This isn't going as fast as the levelling, unfortunately. As of this writing, he is sitting at 440g with another 100g or so on the Auction House. I'll talk more about this in another post (hopefully this week) and give some more details on how I've gotten to where I am.
THALLIE: THE DUNGEONEERING SHAMAN
|Note: I was too lazy to take another screenshot of her.|
Over the past week or so, any chance I get I log onto Thallie and hop into the Dungeon Finder. I must say that I am pleasantly surprised with how well these low level instances have gone. Admittedly, some of the lowest level dungeons go by extremely quick and they sometimes remind me of the final days of Wrath when Tier 10-wielding 10-man PUGs would storm into Naxxramas for the weekly raid quest and steamroll over the bosses in 30 seconds.
She has seen more low level dungeons than any of my other characters ever have, and I've done a few that I had never seen before. Ragefire Chasm, Wailing Caverns, Stockades, Gnomeregan and most recently Scarlet Monastery Graveyard have all been conquered by this intrepid little braid-wearin' healer. Oddly enough I have never got Deadmines or Shadowfang Keep. Go figure.
With full purchasable heirlooms - Cloak, Shoulders, Chest, Hat and Weapon - in addition to the experience bonus that comes with being in a level 24 guild, each dungeon is easily a full level or more. And with the way Blizzard has restructured the dungeons, most of them are very quick runs. And her gear is fantastic. She has gained seven or eight levels in the past few days with 5 or 6 dungeons and very little effort.
The biggest problem I've seen is just trying to keep the same group throughout the dungeon. People drop out after defeating a boss, finish a quest they need or dinging the level they wanted then leave, and new people quickly take their place. Maybe I'm just lucky, but I have had very few long waits for a group, and most of the tanks I have had have known their stuff well enough so as to not cause any problems. Running all these dungeons has been quite enjoyable.
QUESTING OR DUNGEONEERING: WHICH IS FASTER?
It's not exactly a fair comparison given the heirlooms, but even so there is no question in my mind that levelling through questing is much faster than levelling through the dungeon finder - assuming you are playing a non-healing spec. Mobs melt like butter in front of my Protection Paladin, but are not surprisingly quite a bit tougher to my Restoration Shaman.
The questing zones are just so incredibly well designed that there is virtually no downtime while questing. The quests are varied and fun, and proceed in a logical, story-driven manner which is completely engrossing. I have not felt as if I were grinding once since I started taking Fannon 2.0 through his journey.
The biggest advantage to running dungeons during the levelling process is the same as it always was: gear. For a minimal investment of time and effort there is a whole lot of great, blue quality gear available. Thallie's gear is a lot better than Fannon's paladin gear was at the same level. On the other hand, having great gear is far less important during questing than it was (or it may be that Protection Paladins are just ridiculously overpowered), and the mobs die just fine in quest greens.