Tuesday, May 26, 2009

how not to suck at powerlevelling

Let me say before I start that while this post is inspired by two twink runs through Stratholme last night, it is not meant as criticism of those involved. I actually had a bit of a laugh despite the numerous, numerous deaths, and the points below are as much for me as for anyone. So please take it as intended :)

To begin: You may find yourself, dear reader, at a point where you are levelling an alt or indeed levelling your first main on a server with some high level friends. With the XP rate boost as it is, you may also consider that running high level instances (as high as you are permitted to enter) is a good idea. You may also realise that having one of the said high level toons along may make said instances rather quick and, quite frankly, a loot and XP pinata.

All good and sound thoughts.

What you may not have thought of is that this run has the potential to be one of the more frustrating, demoralising and painful experiences in your WoW career to date.

For the purposes of the exercise, let's look at a typical twink run of a single level 80 toon and one or two lower level toons.

Your twinker pretty much must have a strong AoE attack. Until recently, that meant no rogues; however with the advent of Fan of Knives, rogues are now viable twinkers. It would also be extremely useful if the twinker were survivable and has a rez ability. Pallies probably make great twinkers. Make no mistake though: twinking is not the same as soloing. When soloing, all you care about is your own progress through the instance. When twinking, you've got one or two utter aggro magnets along for the ride and if they keep dying due to proximity pulls you will have an abysmal time of it. You must:

  • Destroy everything in the instance
  • Keep everything off the twinkees
  • Keep the twinkees in XP range
  • Allow the twinkees time to loot
  • Not let anyone die (except maybe twinkee DPS/tanks in emergencies, if you have a rezzer in the party)
Finding the balance between speed through the instance and time for looting can be hard, especially in a loot-heavy instance like Stratholme. Furthermore, depending on the relative levels of the twinkees to the mobs, the aggro radius may be fairly close to the XP radius, which is challenging. The twinkees have to stay close enough to you to get the XP, but not so close that you're constantly pulling mobs off them. They also have to loot FAST and they will be watching their bags more than they're watching the mobs. Generally speaking, closer is better, especially if the mobs use stuns, roots and disarms, which can affect you no matter how high level you are and keep you from intercepting mobs wailing on your twinkees.

You may also be dealing with inexperienced twinkees, who will pull aggro in all sorts of unforeseen ways. A typical twinkee will be two- or three-shotted by trash, and one-shotted by bosses, so you haven't got much time. Make sure your twinkees know that they are not to do anything offensive (including healing and buffing) when anyone is in combat.

Looting is a hard one. You'll really want Free For All set on in the interests of speed, but your twinkees have to understand that they mustn't take BOPs that are useful for another twinkee. Even with Free For All and autoloot, they will get a warning when they try to loot a BOP blue and they must stop and think before they grab it. This might be different to what they're used to, especially if they've done a lot of soloing and are in the habit of blindly taking whatever drops. It's easy for experienced raiders to be critical of this looting instinct, as our instincts are now to immediately stop when we see blue or purple; but I remember a time when I did the same thing.

As the twinker, you may need to brief the twinkees on loot etiquette, especially if there are multiple twinkees and/or an enchanter along. Anything DE'd can be used to immediately enchant the nice new blue drops after the run! You might also want to consider flicking master looter on before a boss pull. BoEs aren't an issue, as being picky about those will just slow things down. Sort out BoEs after the run.

For the twinkees, your role is both simple and complex. You must:
  • loot as fast as you can
  • do not mis-loot
  • do not pull aggro
  • do not die
  • stay in XP range of the twinker
  • know and use all of your survivability abilities
  • know and use all of your buffs
  • heal the twinker when out of combat
Learn your proximity pull range in a safe environment at the start of the instance. Burn it into your brain. If you get aggro - run to the twinker and don't actively defend yourself (with heals and DPS), you will just make it harder for the twinker to pull them off you. Burn your passive defensive/threat wipe abilities (PW:S, Fade, Evasion, Vanish, FD, bubble etc) and stay alive.

There are also slight role differences as a twinkee. Any twinkee with a rezzing ability should give first priority to their own survival. DPS and tanking toons: I'm sorry, but you are the sacrificial lambs. If your death will save a rezzer, even briefly, do it. They can rez you. You can't rez them. Your intervention may save a corpse run, which saves time and frustration. Die, get rezzed, move on.

And my final tip: use voice. Vent, Teamspeak or ingame, it will help immensely as your twinkees will get aggroed and will need help right away.

When it's done right, the rewards are astounding. My 55 and 3 quarters priest (fully rested) went to 57 and a half from one run through Stratholme (with quests) and took a fistful of nice blues as well, and picked up about 40 stacks of Runecloth for Cat's Gnomeregan rep. Even when it's done wrong, you'll level fast but the angst factor might be higher. Hey, the more you do it, the better you'll get and it's sure as hell better than doing "fedex and kill-x" out in the world.

Enjoy your twinking!

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