Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Twanking with a Tink

Or what to do after going from level 1 to max level in 3 days, only it's not a paid account, it's a trial account, and there are many restrictions and so, many considerations.

While I'm on my honeymoon, you my lovely readers get to enjoy the following guest post with the ridiculously long post title by my blogging buddy Revoemag. - Jed

Ok, first thing’s first.  My name is Revoemag, or as most call me, Rev.  While Jed is away, he was kind enough to ask me to write a guest post in his corner. (on his corner?) Anyway, I’ve been an off and on WoW player for a few years. Right now, I’m really an off WoW player.  My main account has been down for nearly a year now. A month or two ago, I was craving to play again and happened to read that trial accounts were free to play up to level 20 indefinitely, or until blizz changes that.  I thought, why not, and created a rogue, a class I was familiar with.  I had known Jed for a while, hanging out in the Blog Azeroth chatroom, and decided I would roll my lowbie on the Ursin server, where Jed and his Avengers were located.  I had also never really played on Alliance side and so I made a frightening little gnome named Plazlo. (as a side note, I’m not really convinced gnomes can be non-frightening despite what Jed might claim) Plaz was a fun little experiment and if you’d like more information on him, you can find it here on my regular/irregular blog.
Now then, this post is not about my scary pedo-looking gnome who Stop and Jed think is better-suited to driving a white van and offering candy to children.  No, this post is about the second and third trial toons that I rolled, Revwyn and Revys.  Rev and.... well.... Rev are both Pallies, one Horde and one Alliance, Revys the prior, Revwyn the latter.  After rogue-ing for a while on my last toon, I was really wanting to learn to tank, and the trial account was a good opportunity to do this.  I also thought it might be fun to play each Rev and compare each faction, so here we are. Anyway, part way through the process Revwyn has become the main toon that I’ve been playing, possibly because she progressed quite a bit faster than Revys.

Plazlo and his big white van, er...ram
Revwyn made it to level 20 probably in about 3 days of playing her.  Really, if one so desired, a new toon could be taken to level 20 in probably 1 day.  She started running dungeons at level 15 and getting into some battlegrounds, some meaning Arathi Basin or Warsong Gulch, the two that are available at by level 20.  After she was maxed out level-wise, I thought I would gear her up, and twink her out as I had done with Plaz.  I really didn’t know what to make of twinks at that point.  I had heard of people paying gold to turn off xp-gain and maxing out their toon at a lower level, or making a twink.  Many people choose to do this at level 19 which puts them at the top of the 15-19, formerly 10-19, battleground bracket.  19 is very common, though there are other common twink levels.  For a trial account, you can turn your xp off any time, just like a regular account, though it does cost 10 gold I believe. You could roll a 19 twink; however, if you are going to do Battlegrounds, you will be placed in the xp off bracket with paid account 19 twinks, which have a huge advantage that I will speak of later.  What most trial twinks seem to do though, is go ahead and let their level cap out at 20.  This puts them in the 20-24 Battleground xp off bracket.  In theory, people could roll a 24 paid account twink and roflstomp level 20 trial account twinks.  In my limited time in Battlegrounds at this point, I’ve seen very few 24s.  By and large, I saw mainly level 20s, and I’m guessing by what I saw and what would make sense, that they were all trial accounts.  Anyway, I thought I would make a sort of trial twink at level 20 out of Revwyn and as I searched around the web, there is a whole community of people doing this.  I found guides and forums dedicated to trial twinking, so apparently I was far from alone.

People twink characters for various reasons, some for battleground competition, some for battleground pwnage (booooo), some for running dungeons, and other reasons.  I suppose I did this for various reasons.  I wanted to spend some time getting familiar with tanking and it worked very well for this.  At level 20, you can queue up for 6 dungeons, RFC, VC, SFK, WC, BFD, and Stocks.  WC and SFK are the fairly level appropriate options at level 20 and once you are geared pretty well, as a tank BFD and Stocks work just fine.  Bosses in the latter two are 5 levels higher than you, but as a tank if you have at least a mediocre amount of hit, have a good health pool, and generate decent threat, they are fine.  If you queue for a random, really you’re going to get put into WC or SFK.  It’s never put me in any of the others once I hit level 20.  I can’t tell you how many time I’ve run those two, but it’s been too many.  You might ask why would you run these over and over, and the main answer to this is rep.  Once I discovered that the Ambassador title/achievement (gaining exalted reputation with the 6 home cities of your faction) was possible, it’s been Donkey Kong on running dungeons.  

Really I think the most efficient way of gaining rep is probably doing the starting zone quests until you reach Honored with each city (city A will gain spillover reputation while you are gaining rep for City B until city A reaches Honored) and then throwing on a particular city’s tabard to gain rep for that city while killing things in dungeons.  Doing the quests in Dun Morogh is particularly rewarding as you get 250 rep for Gnomerregan and Ironforge each for each standard quest and then spillover rep for the other cities.  Once at Honored with the cities, then running 5s is a pretty speedy way of gaining rep.  SFK rewards a little under 3000 rep per run and takes a little less than a half an hour with a decent group.  WC yields a little over 3000 rep per run and takes a little more than a half an hour with a decent group.  Really good groups move a bit quicker. This works well so you don’t feel like getting put in one dungeon gimps your gain by a significant amount.  At least I didn’t feel that way, plus I think I’d go nuts only running WC or SFK.  The variety helps.  The longest stretch of running these dungeons is of course between Revered and Exalted.  It takes about 8 runs to get from one to the other.  As it stands now, Revwyn is exalted with 5 of the 6 cities, with Gilneas being the last city, currently at Honored for her. The downside is that she now hates SFK and WC.

Another bonus of gaining rep as a trial twink is for the bags.  Once you hit Revered rep with a city, you can then buy that city’s 16 slot bag from their quartermaster.  This is a very good idea, as bag space for your character and the bank become necessary.  Why is bag space necessary as a trial twink? The answer is simple, professions and only 3 bag slots in the bank.  Technically, you have the ability for the normal amount of bag slots in the bank, but your gold is capped at 10, so once you need to pay 25g for your fourth bank bag slot, you’re done.  Now, back to professions.  In twinking your little butt-kicker, you are going to eventually (most-likely) want to have some nice buffs for your toon.  These buffs include things like Tasty Lion Steak, Heavy Crocolisk Stew, Course Weightstones, various pots, maybe little stone statues, etc.  Keep in mind, with trial accounts, you cannot trade with other players, use the AH, or receive mail, so anything you want that comes from a profession, you have to make.  

You will change your career path often, so having plenty of room to store various mats, enchants, and buffs is a good idea. Along with this, in choosing a profession, it is good to plan ahead.  Take that statement as far as you can go.  For maximum efficiency, think of what professions you will want to end with.  Mining, Skinning, and Herbalism have very nice benefits in Toughness, Master of Anatomy, and Lifeblood.  This all depends again on what you want to do.  Are you a tank wanting to pull multiple bosses at once in WC, (say for instance someone, somehow “accidentally” pulls Kresh the non-aggressive turtle mini-boss in WC and brings her up to your Lady Anacondra fight. Don’t ask, it hurts too much.)(or say in BFD you want to survive if someone lights all four candles to open the door to Aku’mai)(or when someone pulls Gelihast before clearing any of his room in BFD), are you wanting to pump out big numbers as dps, (OH! or someone pulls Baron Silverlaine and his entire room in SFK), are you wanting to carry the flag in Warsong Gulch? (Did I mention someone, somehow pulled Kresh from the stream in the middle of the instance up to Lady Anacondra?) All of these things factor in to where you want to end up with professions.  On a trial account, all profs are capped at 100, though as it stands, you can take secondary profs above 100 even though it says you have reached the cap.  

Another thing to consider, is racial bonuses to profs.  For instance, blood elves get a 10 skill point bonus to enchanting.  This allows you to get at least a couple more enchants.  For a tank, it would give you an extra stamina enchant to your shield, which Revys is currently flexing.  In Revwyn’s case, she gets a 10 skill point bonus to jewelcrafting, which is good because she likes shiny things and little stone men. *shrugs*  It would allow her some additional shinies and Heavy Stone Statues, which would come in handy for self heals.

Revwyn learning about shinies
There are some key things that most trial twinks, and full account twinks shoot for.  The Lucky Fishing Hat, the Arena Grand Master trinket, and PVP BoA gear.   Most are comfortable enough to state that the LFH is hands down the best headslot item for any twink at low levels.  It’s a little trickier for Alliance though.  The hat has +15 stamina and 84 armor, which in regards to health, makes it the best head slot item over anything.  The nearest Alliance piece is the Rifle Commander’s Eyepatch which has +11 stamina, +8 hit, +8 agility and 110 armor. Most would take the LFH over the RCE, but as with most gearing decisions of twinks, it’s situational. The RCE is a really great piece for a set of +hit gear for times when you’re taking on higher level mobs. Anyway, to get the LFH, one needs to fish up Keefer’s Angelfish, a rare fish, during the Sunday fishing derby.  Revys has tried this once and failed and I’ve yet to have Revwyn try it since she has the eyepatch.  She’ll get there though.  

Now the Arena Grand master trinket is considered by most to be the all around best trinket to get as a lowbie twinkleton.  It has +12 stamina and upon use gives you a bubble which absorbs 1000 damage over 20 seconds. First of all, 1000 damage is huge at level 20 for any purpose.  It’s a fantastic emergency button for any role and either PVP or PVE.  The health bonus alone is also very hefty.  Now for the crappy part.  To get one of these, you need to turn in 12 Arena Master trinkets to Short John Mithril in the Gurubashi Arena.  The Arena Master trinkets are looted from the chest that Short John leaves in the center of the Gurubashi Arena every 3 hours at 12:00, 3:00, 6:00, and 9:00 server time.  Looting the chest takes 8 seconds (I think) and the arena is a free-for-all PVP area.  This can and does suck depending on your server.  Sometimes multiple level 85s show up as getting the AGM is an achievement.  Sometimes other twinks show up.  Sometimes nobody shows up (\o/).  Ursin was very kind to Revwyn as she was able to get 2 Arena Grand Master trinkets in less than 2 weeks.  I would check most mornings before work, most evening slots, and day slots when possible.  She also hit up a couple of the 2:00AM slots. (my actual time is 2 hours ahead of server time)  Most of the time on Ursin, nobody would show up.  So, for any of you thinking of starting a twink either paid or free to play, Ursin is a great place to get going and you could always server transfer later.  PVP BoA gear is really something that I’m not all that familiar with yet, but if you’re on a server where competition for the Arena Grand Master trinket is fierce, then you might want to shoot for getting these first for the stat help, including resilience.

Currently, Revwyn is at a good point of relaxation.  She’s got pretty good pieces in every slot, at least for most situations.  Since her activities are varied, she’s got a few different gear sets she’ll go between.  It depends if she’s carrying a flag, tanking big pulls, taking on high level mobs, it just depends.  That’s one I wish I would have been better at, gear selection.  There were many times where quest rewards wouldn’t really give me a decent mail item with appropriate stats for say tanking.  In retrospect though, there were several times I just randomly picked a quest reward when nothing notable was there and later learned I could’ve picked up say a leather piece with huge stamina.  Now ideally, Revwyn wouldn’t ever wear something like that, but being a twink isn’t always ideal for what gear is available and so wardrobe issues are common.  There might be situations where I would forsake the armor and strength loss and really need to push stamina.  

So, if I started a new twinker, I’d try to be better at thinking about situational circumstances.  Another thing I might try to do is to plan my race better.  The racial abilities that certain races have can really make a difference with your gameplay and gearing.  The big one that comes to mind is the human racial Every Man for Himself. With that, humans can forsake the Insignia of the Alliance and pretty much equip 2 Arena Grand Master trinkets all the time.  With Revwyn, she has a nice HoT racial, but for PvP, she has to equip the Insignia.  Though, once she uses her Insignia, she can then quickly equip her second AGM and have the extra 120 health.  For dungeons at her level though, she just runs with 2 AGMs all the time.  She can still get locked up, but as a pally, she’s got enough ranged abilities that I’ve never had it be a problem.

Well, that’s the long of it.  Is playing on a trial account as fun as a normal paying account? No. Is it fun? Sure.  It really works well for filling in the gaps when you really don’t feel like you’re going to play enough to pay for an account.  Also, it’s free and for free, it’s pretty fun.  The nice thing is, if I feel like not playing for a few weeks, I don’t even have to think about the money side.  It will be there waiting when I do feel like playing.  It wouldn’t be for everybody though, I understand.  Also, when comparing trial twinks to normal twinks at the same level range, normal paying account twinks statwise kick the crap out of trial twinks every time.  With BoA gear and much heftier enchants, paid twinks hit harder and are much healthier.  

Anyway, for the immediate future Revwyn will be running 5s with her Gilneas tabard, fishing for Keefer’s Angelfish on Sundays, queue-ing up for some BGs (not Bee Gees, though Jive Talkin is pretty sweet), enjoying holidays, and finishing up some gear.  Not looking forward to farming for the Diamond Hammer as a world drop or the Foreman’s Leggings from Foreman Thistlenettle.  BTW, Revwyn’s killed that bastard a terrible amount of times, and he will not drop his pants.  One nice thing about horde, they have pretty good pants. (in the form of Kalecgos Pants from a quest chain) The next long term project for her could be getting enough honor points to buy some PvP BoA gear, but I haven’t decided if I wanna take the time.  This was not intended to be a guide, but I know it got a little preachy.  Anyhow, It’s what I’ve been doin.  For more information on twinking and trial twinking, just snoop around on the web.  I particularly like Cynwise’s Green Tinted Goggles, Psynister’s Notebook, and  Any thoughts or suggestions, just send ‘em my way.  Oh, and if anyone has a lowbie they’re leveling or otherwise and need a twank to run them through some of these instances, feel free to give me a shout.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Guest Post: Life on the Other Side

While I am off getting married and enjoying my honeymoon, I have decided to treat you my loving readers to a few guest posts written by some very nice people that I totally suckered were nice enough to write a post for me.

Today's post was written by Stop of several blogs across the interwebs. So without further ado...

Life on the Other Side

First off, I blame Jed for everything.

Ever since quitting World of Warcraft back in March, I’ve never really gone MMO-less for any period of time. I went from WoW to Rift, then rode the Rift wave until I died of endgame boredom and/or got into the SWTOR beta, then played that gleefully until it went down for a week or so to do a new release and I decided to cut back on my beta-ing - enough to get a good test experience and data for Bioware, but not enough to burn myself out on the game before the game even comes out. So that left an MMO-shaped hole in my life.

Around this time, 4.3 news started leaking out. I can safely say that I feel that for 4.1 and 4.2, Blizzard pretty much phoned it in, but 4.3? 4.3 looks, well, at least better. The new instances aren’t rehashes (although Murozond, really?). The new tier gear looks like some work was actually put into it rather than “take armor, add fire, lather, rinse, repeat.” But the one feature that started to rekindle my interest in the game was Transmogrification, especially time spent in Blog Azeroth Chat with Ratshag trading costuming ideas and coming up with the most horrifying plate costume ever for a Death Knight, to commemorate BC-era clown suits, and that’s when the urge hit to resubscribe, which I accidentally mentioned to Jed.

I’m not sure if it comes across to his usual readers, but Jed is a very persistent person. Once I had mentioned even briefly considering resubscribing, neither rain, nor sleet, not worries about playing on a PvP server would stop him from getting me into his guild, and so, one server transfer later, I found my death knight leveling on Ursin, a member of the Avengers of Azeroth, and me getting used to two big changes:

  1. Playing on a PvP server, and
  2. Playing an Alliance character.

It’s actually been less of an adjustment than I expected but there are a few big adjustments for a mostly-lifelong Horde PvE-server player.

  • I still don’t like Stormwind. I’m not sure I ever will. Say what you will about Orgrimmar’s aesthetic (Neo-Brutalist architecture), but they at least had the sense to put every facility in every part of the city outside of the goblin slums. Stormwind, to the best of my knowledge, has two auction houses, neither of which is terribly easy to find from the air. On the other hand, at least Stormwind color-coded their roofs to make it easier to get around. But seriously - give me Ironforge anyday. I think I might be a dwarf at heart.
  • The Alliance NPCs are starting to get more likable. I came up in an era when Thrall was everything the Horde should someday aspire to be - wise, brave, and willing to talk instead of throw down - and our opposition was Varian “The Chin” Wrynn, his weepy sidekick Jaina, and a bunch of pissed-off dwarves who’d stop a father from retrieving his own son’s corpse. Nowadays, with Garrosh leading the Horde to its own inevitable self-destruction via infighting, the complete disappearance of one faction leader, and Sylvanas making deals with devils of all sorts, suddenly The Chin doesn’t seem like such a bad guy, and I definitely have grown to like Anduin and Moira (especially after reading The Shattering - this is my first time interacting with them after reading the book).
  • Having to take the credo “if it’s red, it’s dead” seriously. Now, I’m not exactly flying around ganking lowbies or anything. But I have had to get used to the fact that if I see a Horde character in a contested zone, they’re considered hostile to me and I’m considered hostile to them. This is new to me - I kept my flag off at all times on all my old servers, and on Rift I even toggled on the option that disallowed me to accidentally flag myself. But the net change? I’m just a little more wary of that troll druid across the way - I don’t ignore him like I used to, but I don’t go out of my way to smash him into the ground.

There are other changes, of course - accidentally flying into the wrong tent or part of the city when in Northrend areas, for instance - but I’m slowly discovering the side of the game that I never really got around to before.

Well, discovering it until December 20th, anyway.