Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The First Week

My brother started playing again, so that no longer gives me access to his account. I'm glad he is playing again though, albeit as casually as - if not more so than - me. What this means, however, is that it is best if I don't use his account for my own personal use anymore; and it meant that when Cataclysm hit I couldn't run both accounts to take advantage of doing two things at once. Oh well!

Day 1
I managed to check into the hotel pretty quickly, and got onto the server a couple of hours after the expansion went live. I spent a little time sorting my priest out with mining bags, enchanted gloves and learning the highest skill of my two professions (Mining and Jewelcrafting) before heading to Icecrown. I wasted a little time flitting around tapping nodes before updating my Gathermate 2 Data and integrating it in. After that I managed to get to 470 mining pretty quickly and headed straight to Twilight Highlands.

In the highlands, I followed the mining circuit I already had planned, as seen below on the map. I spent a good few hours gathering Obsidium Ore, and once I hit 520 I was able to also mine Pyrite Ore. I stocked up about 25 stacks of obsidium and 2 stacks of pyrite before calling it a night. I sent them over to my warlock then switched to her to post some stuff up on the AH. This was less than eight hours after the expansion had been flipped on.

Twilight Highlands Mining Circuit
One thing I learned from this is that you don't need four mining bags. One would have sufficed (and saved me a little gold), as it took me literally hours to fill up just one, and there are mailboxes nearby for sending your haul off to another toon. Actually, another thing I learned is that even though the mining circuit shouldn't take you close to angry mobs, if you do stupid things you will die. Three times. :p

Unfortunately, none of my ore sold, and very few glyphs that I had put up sold. However, my priest also managed to get a few gems the previous night and all of the volatiles I had put up sold, so at least I wasn't at a total loss. In fact, even now none of my ore has sold even though I have reposted it twice since then. I will probably prospect the obsidium and turn the pyrite into Truegold, eventually. Perhaps I shouldn't have sold those volatiles after all. :x

Day 2
The next night was dedicated to my main. And every time I have played since then has either been to sort out auctions and mail on my warlock or to play my mage.

I started by handing in 25 daily quests in Icecrown for a nice little xp boost. After that, I uncapped Tailoring, Enchanting, First Aid and Cooking and got my license to fly in Azeroth. Unfortunately, my Fishing is still not high enough to learn Illustrious, but that is something I will slowly work on during the expansion. After I could fly and had a nice little look at Stormwind (absolutely amazing from the air and very easy to navigate!), I went to talk to one of my favourite characters: Harrison Jones.

Professor Jones told me all that I needed to know to dig up fossil fragments and piece together artifacts. The new Archaeology profession is both tedious and enjoyable. I have spent most of my time in-game since that point simply levelling archaeology. It is a hard, long road but the rewards at the end - and on into the future - make it worthwhile. Not to mention the fact that it is interesting, unique and gives you a closer look at the various races and lore within Azeroth and Outland.

So since the second day of the expansion I have hardly done anything but dig dig dig. And aside from the tedium of porting, hearthing and flying all over the place to try and piece things together, it has been fun. Call me boring, but there is just something about following survey markers and uncovering pieces of artifacts that really intrigues me. I'm really diggin' it. *ba-dum-tch*

I hit level 82 last night from just handing in those dailies last week and archaeology since then (plus a quest and its daily counterpart that I stumbled upon while digging). I started out getting about 11k rested xp per piece that I dug up (three digs per digsite), and am now getting almost 19k rested. Unfortunately, after just a little digging each day my rested experience fades; but over 27k per digsite is some nice xp in itself. The biggest timesink here is travelling between digsites, as one location takes less time than the average quest.

Levelling the profession, however, takes a long time. Up to about level 75 you get skill points for digging up artifacts. From 75 to 100 the chance of getting skill points is greatly reduced. At 100, fragments go grey and you can only skill up from solving artifacts. One digsite yields three fragments per dig for a total of nine. As you level up, the amount of fragments required to complete an artifact increases slightly; rares that you randomly discover take many more fragments to complete. You start off needing around 25 fragments to solve an artifact, and by about level 200 you need around 35-40 = four digsites of that type.

The digsites themselves are somewhat random, as are the artifacts that you discover to work towards solving. You can choose what sort of fragments you will collect, but it is still limited to the active digsites that have spawned. Fortunately, there are eight to choose from - four per continent. Once you unlock Outland, that's four more, and then Northrend is another four, for a total of 16 by the time you have a skill level of 375. Unfortunately, Tol'vir digsites (of which there are only four in the one zone: Uldum) currently share spawns with the beginning ones, ultimately frustrating many budding archaeologists.

So far I have managed to reach about 235 archaeology skill and have uncovered one rare: Fossilized Hatchling. For those that uncover fossils more than anything, this is the first one that people get. For the races, there are other "starter" rares that people discover.

It helps to balance as much as you can, but I am saving up dwarf fragments in the hopes of getting Staff of Sorcerer-Thane Thaurissan when I am a high enough level for the possibility of discovering it. I also wouldn't mind the Clockwork Gnome and The Innkeeper's Daughter from dwarven fragments, and the Scepter of Azj'Aqir from Tol'vir. The fossil reward, Fossilized Raptor, will come in time and without too much effort, either. It is the easiest epic to get.

Guild Achievements, Levelling and Rewards
Unfortunately, archaeology doesn't count towards guild experience. With all the effort I am putting into the profession I am not actually contributing to my own guild reputation or to the guild experience as a whole. But we have enough active members to hit the daily experience cap each day. I will just have some reputation catch-up to do.

So far, we have hit level 3 and unlocked two perks: Fast Track (Rank 1) and Mount Up. Since I purchased Master Riding, I now fly at 350% speed. It doesn't feel any faster than 280%, but it is. What I am most looking forward to, though is the Reins of the Golden King at guild level 25 (and personally exalted).

It's a friggin' lion!
I only just decided to start doing the daily cooking quests. I really should have done this earlier, as I need three tokens for each cooking recipe and it will benefit my guild in the long run. My aim right now is to get the two more tokens I need to purchase the Recipe: Starfire Espresso and make thousands of them for a big caffeine fix... no, to both help my guild get Set the Oven to "Cataclysmic", which unlocks Recipe: Broiled Dragon Feast, and to help raise my own reputation with the guild.

Of course, I will have to spread it out over a few days because of the daily guild reputation cap that coincides with the guild levelling cap.

As I mentioned earlier, my ore didn't sell. The market was flooded with all kinds of trade goods as prices attempted to settle and everyone was undercutting everyone else. I have managed to sell a few Netherweave bags at everything ranging from a mere 8g to a nice 25g. I am also still finding my feet with glyphs and will post them up over the next few weekends in the hopes of eventually selling all my stock.

With levelling blues and epics, I have hardly had any bites, but I have managed to sell a few. I don't have the time to cross-check what I paid for them (besides, I'm pretty sure I lost all that data when my entire UI got reset the day before Cataclysm - that's another story), and then set the price for each individual item manually. But what I have been doing is trying to not compete with anyone and simply holding back from posting if there are a few up already.

So far I have stockpiled some obsidium and pyrite ore, made about 13k in sales and spent 4k gold on 310% flying for my main. So my bank is sitting at 11k, up from the 2k that I had sitting in there when Cata hit.

In the long run, I hope to pawn off all of these levelling BoEs, as well as do something smart with my stockpile of enchanting scrolls and Saronite ore. I'm holding back with the ore because I want to see what happens to supply. I also have a few stacks of Northrend herbs sitting around waiting to be useful.

So all in all, it's been pretty slow going for me. With limited time to play I think I'm doing ok, though. Just biding my time and slowly eeking out these bags and glyphs, and the odd items here and there. The gold will come in; I still have to level my professions and quest with my mage, at least. Happy days ahead. :)


Gaiwyn of Proudmoore

Monday, December 6, 2010

Cataclysm Starter Guide

I wrote the following guide for the MMO-Champion forums. You can see the original post here or continue reading.

[Guide] How to Start in Cataclysm (Alliance)
Wondering what to do when Cataclysm hits? Regardless of your intentions, the first thing you will want to do - unless levelling a new toon - is to learn to fly in Azeroth. And unless you intend to farm reagents, you will probably want to learn Illustrious of all your professions, grab Archaeology if so inclined, and then head to one of the two starting zones.

So where do you want to be when the switch gets flipped? Well, for Alliance, Stormwind is a good start, as you can do everything there. For Horde it is Orgrimmar. Grab your Flight Master's License, run a circuit, picking up all of your skills and then head to the relevant NPC to be on your way to your zone of choice.

Unfortunately, I don't play Horde, so I'm going to only focus on helping Alliance get to where they need to be to optimise their first few minutes of playing. Sorry, Hordies!

Here is a summary of all the trainers and relevant NPCs to get started. I simply collected data straight from Wowhead and consolidated it for easy reading:

Flight Master's License
Flying Trainer - Bralla Cloudwing (70.8 73.2). This is where you want to be at 12.01am on the 7th of December, or logged out at if unable to be playing when Cataclysm hits.

Gathering Profession Trainers
Herbalism Trainer - Tannysa (54.6 83.6).
Mining Trainer - Gelman Stonehand (59.6 37.6).
Skinning Trainer - Maris Granger (72.7 62.0).

Crafting Profession Trainers
Alchemy Trainer - Lilyssia Nightbreeze (55.6 85.9).
Blacksmithing Trainer - Therum Deepforge (63.8 37.2).
Enchanting Trainer - Lucan Cordell (53.0 74.3).
Engineering Trainer - Lilliam Sparkspindle (62.8 32.2).
Inscription Trainer - Catarina Stanford (49.8 74.2).
Jewelcrafting Trainer - Theresa Denman (63.5 61.5).
Leatherworking Trainer - Simon Tanner (71.8 62.9).
Tailoring Trainer - Georgio Bolero (53.2 81.7).

Secondary Profession Trainers
Archaeology Trainer - None other than Harrison Jones (85.7 25.9).
Cooking Trainer - Stephen Ryback (78.1 53.2).
First Aid Trainer - Shaina Fuller (52.9 44.9).
Fishing Trainer - Arnold Leland (55.1 69.5).

The Starting ZonesFollowing is a map to see the locations of all trainers and key points to help you plot your path and be on your way fully prepared.

Stormwind Cataclysm Trainers and NPCs
Tip: Remember to have all necessary bagspace, levelling reagents and anything else ready before Cataclysm goes live so that you aren't wasting time flying to the bank or the auction house - even though they are both very cool now.

I hope that this is insightful and helpful to people. :)

As a final note: Personally, I am going to level Archaeology.

Edit: I still haven't actually decided what I am going to do, but it will likely consist of playing both Gaiwyn and Gidaeon simultaneously, as I said in my previous post. Right now, the best thing looks to be levelling Gaiwyn as per normal - or Archaeology as I previously said - and taking Gidaeon to Twilight Highlands rather than getting him to 82 and going to Deepholm (aka Miner's Paradise).

Good luck, whatever you decide to do!


Gaiwyn of Proudmoore

Deepholm at 82

A spanner has been thrown in the works and when that happens, one must consider an alternate plan: create a contingency to jolt your plan back into working order.

My dilemma occurred when I researched how to get to Deepholm. But why would you want to go to Deepholm, Gaiwyn? The answer is simple: Elementium Ore. It is by all accounts the best zone for mining the new minerals. Sure, Twilight Highlands and Uldum are some great high-level zones and will prove to have a good number of node spawn points; but Deepholm is where the serious miners will farm. It's freaking underground!

Deepholm: Elementium Ore Mining Circuit
It turns out that to get to Deepholm you must be level 82. The only other way to get there is to ask for a Warlock summon. Good luck with that in early days.

So my choices are now three-fold: level my chosen miner to 82 before seriously focusing on mining in Deepholm for profit; try to play the auction house - buy as cheap as possible and resell for profit; or simply head to Uldum or Twilight Highlands and grit my teeth at the fewer nodes and higher level mobs with large aggro radii.

Option 1: Level to 82
Gidaeon is the warrior on my second account. Originally, he was on my primary account but I transferred him at the end of TBC to what was then my brother's account. He took him from 70-80 and played him a bit - mostly as a tank - in WotLK. Since then, my brother has quit playing the game and so I inherited his account as my own secondary account; essentially giving me back my old warrior to do with as I please - an entire account to do with as I please.

His second profession is maxed blacksmithing. This could prove to be fruitful also, in the long run, if I put a little time into levelling it for Cataclysm.

My initial plan was to pop 4x Mammoth Mining Bags onto him, zoom around Icecrown until I get mining up to 470 off Saronite nodes, and then head over to Deepholm to do a few mining spirals for Obsidium Ore. But since there is no way to get to Deepholm before picking up the quest from Naraat the Earthspeaker in Stormwind, in order to do this I would have to level him to 82.

This is not entirely out of the question. If I dual-box I can level both Gaiwyn and Gidaeon in tandem. Gaiwyn will definitely have the XP advantage, though, as I have 25 daily quests ready to hand in for a nice little boost on my way to 81. It also means that at 85 there will be a few more quests to complete for extra gold.

So this is one of my options. Once Gidaeon hits 82 I could then proceed to spiral around Deepholm tapping any nodes that I encounter before any of the dozens of other miners out there doing the same thing, while Gaiwyn picks up and levels Archaeology in the old world. A fairly sound plan.

Option 2: Sit at the Auction House
My second option is to sit at the auction house, buy up herbs, ores and leather for reselling, refresh glyphs, and slowly trickle out levelling and twink items for all those people who will have rolled new Worgen and be looking for gear to boost them or deck them out.

At the same time I would probably be levelling Gaiwyn in Hyjal; not too difficult to do dual-boxing, as not much concentration is needed to sit at the auction house on my other account.

The advantage of this is being able to snatch* what I estimate to be good deals as well as getting my goods out there to make a bit of profit as I go. The disadvantage is that Gidaeon will be no closer to 82 and able to go to Deepholm to mine, if I so wish to do so in future. Farming is not my thing; but there is no better time to mine the new ore than the first few weeks of the expansion.

* Turns out that you can set your snatch list for the new materials now. Read this great post by Mike over at Server Fifth: Build Your Snatch List Now.

Option 3: The High Level Zones
Forgoing levelling at all is my final option. I would still get to 470 mining (475 when my old Gauntlets of Might mining gloves are equipped) in Icecrown, but then shoot off straight to either Uldum or Twilight Highlands. I'm currently not sure which is the better of the two in terms of chance of being splattered into the ground by high level mobs camping nodes, but I'm sure they are both equally plausible for doing mining circuits.

The advantage of this is no waiting around and thus very little, if any, competition. Soon as my mining is high enough for the new ore, I can fly straight to one of those zones and go crazy finding nodes and tapping them out for their sweet, sweet juices. The disadvantage is being splattered into the ground by... well, you get the picture.

Twilight Highlands: A Rough Mining Circuit
This is the decision that I have just over a day to make. Come tomorrow I will be leaving very early for the conference out in the city (a two hour drive, at least). It finishes 30 minutes after Cataclysm goes live, and I have to then leave the location and drive somewhere to grab a bite to eat / snacks and drinks for the long night ahead, and head to the hotel to check in to my room.

Here's hoping that tonight I can set everything up that needs to be set up, ready to go, with my toons logged out at strategic locations, and my bags and banks sorted out ready for everything that is going to happen over the next few weeks of play.

Whatever happens, I look forward to everything that tomorrow night will bring. And whatever your plans are, so should you.


Gaiwyn of Proudmoore

Friday, December 3, 2010

Are You Ready?

Cataclysm is just around the corner. How prepared are you? How are you going to manage your stockpiles and goods? Will you power-level professions in the hopes of making rather lucrative profit by taking advantage of high demand in the first few days or weeks of the expansion?

I think that given my limited time to spend in game I have done pretty well for myself. I've got the Netherweave Bags ready to pawn off to the hundreds of new Worgen that didn't buy up beforehand; I've got a nice wee collection of glyphs ready to get dumped at reasonable markup; and I've got a selection of various different items and reagents that should yield various amounts of profit.

It has been difficult to stay patient and not try to just empty my bank tabs or my alt's bank. I have put up glyphs a couple of times since the shattering (patch 4.0.3a) with very little interest shown, and have enchanted a few twink/heirloom scrolls in the hopes of making a little profit from them.

What will net me a good sum of gold, however, is being careful about using items and reagents in smart ways. It's all a big learning process for me, with my dabbling and dipping my toes in to try things out. The next few weeks feel like they will be a make it or break it situation, where - even though I'm not putting all my eggs in one basket by even a long shot - there is the potential to make mistakes and fail to get a decent gold boost.

My battle plan
Here is my situation: I have a family and very little time to spare to give to the game, so I appreciate any time that I am able to find to play. I have been trying to be smart about how I use my crafting and auction time, but it has been difficult to make it feel at times that I am progressing at all. After all, enjoying the game comes first.

When the expansion hits I will be in the city, at a 3-day conference. When the servers flip into Cataclysm mode, I will be at the conference, waiting for it to finish. It will probably be two hours after many other people get to play that I have checked into my hotel and plugged myself in.

The good news is, I will be staying in the hotel for two nights, which means I should get a few uninterrupted hours of play; and at such a crucial time!

My intention is to log the warrior on my secondary account, equip 4x Mammoth Mining Bags, and just go as crazy as I can flying around the new zones tapping nodes. At the same time, I will give most of my focus to playing my main. I want to level Archaeology, but I also want to experience as much of the new content as I can manage over two nights of playing.

One small bit of preparation I have almost completed is to fill my quest log with 25 completed daily quests. I am almost there and should have it all done and ready to hand in for a nice little 5-600k experience boost with just a couple of minutes of flying between Icecrown hubs.

So for me, it will become a matter of juggling between tapping out as much of the new ores as I can manage while levelling Archaeology and levelling my mage through the new zones.

The AH and Professions
I want to play the game, not sit at the auction house. I will level Enchanting and Tailoring as the goods come to me naturally throughout the course of levelling, but my other professions can wait for a bit before I give any of them any real focus. I do have the reagents to boost my Jewelcrafting, Alchemy and Inscription a little, but these are not going to be a big focus for me from the outset.

My only time spent at the auction house will be to do a scan as I sleep and to use Auction Profit Master to throw up glyphs, bags, and some of the levelling blues and epics that I have collected.

For many, camping the auction house and power levelling professions is going to prove to be very worthwhile. For me, I'm not a big gold player (yet). I just want to utilise my time well and keep a keen interest in playing the game for fun.

Flipping Enchanting Scrolls
Turns out that in the shattering, Enchanting Vellum became available for a mere 8s through any enchanting vendor. This made the small stockpile I had collected no longer worthwhile. Or did it?

Firstly, I would have been able to eventually use up all of the scrolls I had made since Enchanting is one profession I want to try and focus on as a gold-maker this time around. I say "would have been", though, because I decided to see if everyone was aware of the change. They weren't.

I worked out that it cost me 40s to make each of the scrolls, so I put them up on the AH at 50s each. Had I bought them from the vendor for 8s each, the profit would have been much greater, but at a profit of just under 9s for each scroll sold, I netted about 18g in profit from the 200 that I put up. Every single one sold.

If I had time to play I would put the rest of them up and simply replenish my stock from the vendor. This is just one example of buying goods from a vendor and putting them up on the AH at minimal cost and risk. If the ignorance keeps up through to next week, this could prove to be a nice little boost.

Buy 1,000 scrolls at 8s each. Put them up for 50s. Take away the auction house cut and the deposit fee and you are left with about 400g in profit from simply vendor flipping. That is provided you sell all 1k scrolls, but with many enchanters out there wanting to be prepared to level their profession, this is actually a low risk endeavour.

Keep an eye out for things that you can turn for profit. With the changes, it doesn't mean that players change. Vendor-bought pets, reagents and other things have the potential to be sold at a decent mark-up. Just a way to boost your reserves.


Gaiwyn of Proudmoore