Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Better stats or leveling speed?

So I followed the advice of my readers, created a night elf warrior, and tested that yes, I could buy heirloom plate items with my Horde characters and mail them cross-faction. Then I leveled that elf to level 10 in 2 hours, and paid for a server transfer, so now the heirlooms are with my level 62 paladin, cross-server *and* cross-faction, for a single 20 bucks payment. And I got rid of the now useless emblems of conquest, valor, and heroism I still had.

Now the heirloom shoulders are just great for my paladin. About the same stats as the ones I was wearing, but now scaling up automatically, and giving +10% bonus to both killing and quest xp. But I'm still not so sure about the chest piece: It does have the same +10% xp bonus, but it has 3 gem slots less than the chest I was wearing. With me having put epic gems into those slots, the heirloom chest has only half the stats of the gemmed chest piece.

Now for soloing the choice is easy: You don't need great stats for solo questing, thus the xp bonus and higher leveling speed is certainly better. But for dungeon groups I'm not so sure. What if the added stats make the difference between a clean clear and a wipe? Wipes tend to lose you a lot of time, especially in PuGs, where some people leave groups after the first wipe and have to be replaced. Wearing the chest with the better stats would make me gain slightly less xp, but certainly improve my performance and success rate.

And then of course the question is whether the fastest leveling possible is automatically the best. I'm opposed to the idea some people have that World of Warcraft starts at level 80. I'm playing alts *because* I enjoy the leveling game too, enjoy visiting content which at the level cap would be too trivial to enjoy. Not to an extreme that I would turn off xp gain or something, but at least enough to make me think whether a 10% xp bonus is worth 30 strength and 45 stamina, which is a lot of stats at level 62.

I'd be interested to hear your thoughts: If there were more items in World of Warcraft which had low stats but each gave some bonus to xp gained, would you try to maximize xp bonus, would you try to maximize stats, or would you go for some compromise?
In my opinion, using multi-socket items with gems of a vastly higher quality is a limited situation.

In the classic game, no sockets. In Burning Crusade, you can get nice multi-socket items from the first instance onward. In Wrath of the Lich King, they were very stingy with sockets. Almost no multiple socket items are available in the leveling content.

So outside of the Burning Crusade level range(generally), I think the heirlooms are good quality, not 'low stats'.

If the choice really is power vs. xp bonus, even if the overall effect is even, I lean towards power rather than xp. Being more powerful means you can do things more quickly and therefore earn xp more quickly. Bonus xp means you can(or have to) skip more content, while extra power means you'll get it all done more quickly.

I think the current situation in WoW at most levels, however, is that the heirloom items are pretty good for the level and provide the xp bonus.

I do have a hunter alt who is 65 and has as many multisocket instance drops as I could find, leather or mail, just so I could put nice gems in the sockets. That's certainly fun, but I think it's the last time we'll see it happening quite that way.
I think you need to consider this: The heirloom items already make you vastly overgeared for the content you are in, compared to the first time anyone levelled around in TBC, so you are already more than geared to anything you might encounter. So to me the choice is simple: the xp bonus.
I have the same problems on my paladin, when tanking in the beginning of Northrend: Defence shoulders or my Xp shoulders. In the end I ended up using my Heirloom shoulders, remembering blizzards statement about the leveling dungeons being designed for an arms warrior to tank them.
Given that we've had naked punching warriors reach the cap in WoW, I'd take the exp over the stats just about every single time. In fact, I view the caster cloth and melee leather heirlooms as the best deals because those four items can be used by every potential alt class.

(Technically, you could make your melee classes wear the caster shoulders and at least get some stamina and resilience out of it, but that's where I personally draw the line. Losing a bit of armor rating, not so much.)
Personally I never bother with getting items while leveling. Blue items you get only last for a couple of hours. Having good greens is more than enough for leveling. Plenty of time to get gear once you get to the maximum level.

That being said, the XP bonus will get you further. But it does raise the question why you want those? You enjoy leveling you say, why make it faster?
I am using for my shamy the melee shoulders. But never changed them while beeing the healer in instances.

The xp bonus is far to good to deny. Even the melee shoulders have some int so it is not such a bad loss.

Sure I could get better healing stats with other items. But it was never a problem to heal with to melle slots used.

Definitivly I will maximize the XP.
I use heirloom items not just for the exp bonues, but also because it saves me from having to worry about up to 5 item slots, depending on class (shoulder, chest, trinket and weapons). This is especially true for the weapon slots, since weapons are the biggest upgrades.

This might change though if I ever decide to hit instances on my alliance paladin, but I have found instances to be rather pointless at the current state of the game. Doing instances isn't "needed" until the level cap, and staying away from them has the potential to save me quite some frustration.

I don't think Blizzard dropped the ball on the instance issue though, after all they're an alternate playstyle, just like battlegrounds are. I am happy that I am not forced to either.
1st, the emblems are not useless, you can buy gems with them.

2nd, 60 AP isn't going to be noticed by a pug dungeon group at levels 62-79 anyway, wouldn't sweat it. Also, are you gemming 3 slots with 10 str/15 stam? What's the reasoning there?
The reason I used 3 gems of +10 Str and +15 Sta was that I had them, from a triple transmutation success from an alchemist, and the JC of my wife having the recipe. I figured it wasn't a bad compromise for gear which I wear both for retribution and protection spec. I'm leveling so fast, I can't have two complete sets of gear for the two different specs.
Keep in mind that a good portion of XP comes from quests that involve little or no combat. The 20% bonus applies to those too.
Even if a 1% increase in DPS resulted in a 1% increase in leveling speed, does that extra 30 strength increase your DPS by 20%? Absolutely not. If the heirloom items were only white quality gear with no stats, you would probably still have a net time savings with regard to XP.

As for the 450 extra health saving you from a wipe, it's possible. But compare the time it takes to recover from a wipe (say 15 minutes max) to the time it takes to get 4 bars (20-30 minutes without rest state).

I also think you're looking at this from a slightly skewed perspective. BC leveling, although tedious, is quite fast. WoTLK is not. It will save you sooo much time in Northrend.
I would absolutely use every item I could find to reduce my leveling time, BUT thats because I'm one of those people who can't stand the leveling part of WoW.

It's funny because I have 3 level 80's, a level 71, and multiple level 60's and they have all been leveled since Blizzard implemented heirloom items and recruit a friend. Without those two I would most likely only have two leveled up characters.

I look at gear at lower levels as just a means to an end. Ignore pure stats for a second and think about the pieces in terms of how much time each piece will save you. On those terms nothing beats out the 20% exp bonus you get from both the shoulders and chest.
If you were starting from level 1 I'd say go with the heirloom. Since you are getting close to the level cap I don't see a problem just keeping the better gear. Also think 20% increase in exp from mobs and quests is basically 20% quicker leveling. If it would normally take 10 days to get from 70-80, it now takes 8. Are those extra two days worth much to you?
Totally understandable, however usually, and especially with the WOTLK 5 mans, you can faceroll them in full DPS gear. I was just curious, It's not a terrible gem decision for someone leveling, since you didn't spend money or honor on them. I was just curious if you were going for a silly socket bonus without looking at your armory. Cheers
Well, you said it yourself Tobold - the heirloom is great for soloing, but what you have now is better for dungeoning. Keep both - and wear them in the appropriate situations.
I have a lvl 42 Paladin that I have leveled from 35 using nothing but instances (and 1 or 2 quest turn ins to get from the end of 39 to 40). She has the heirloom shoulders and chest for the xp bonus.

It's my opinion, based on what I've seen so far, that a pug is much more likely to stick with you if they can see that you have those heirlooms. Sure, they could check your gear and see that you have everything where it needs to be, but by now, most players know what the heirlooms look like without needing to inspect. Knowing that somewhere, the person taking hits for the group or the one healing or even dps has a lvl 80 capable, not just of getting enough badges to gear themselves, but a surplus that they can send to a low level toon, is, in my experience, more reassuring than some epic gems that they may or may not see. Will you tank better with the epic gems? Most likely. But I don't think it will make as much difference to the mental state of group members as seeing that you are an experienced player just by eyeballing your shoulders.
I do think there is an issue of perception. For example, I had the idea that I would use my heirloom items on cloth because then I could use them for all classes. Well, leveling my Pally in cloth shoulders and chest in solo content is no big deal. It really doesn't effect my downtime at all.

But walking into a PUG with cloth gear on a tank will, to put it mildly, get you strange looks. Normally you get kicked without question.

So it's like gearscore. Perception is often more important than reality. If I were just soloing I would care. But if you are a tank and walk into an instance with cloth gear, except problems.
It ultimately depends on what it is you wish to do with the character. If your goal is to level to 80, the better stats pretty much are there for the leveling speed anyway.

From a purely optimization standpoint (and by optimization, I mean the goal is to minimize the time spent leveling), you just have to compare: Will the added stats of the gem slots equate to earning you 10% more exp from kills and quests? Will the 30 strength and 40 stamina allow you to quest and kill sufficiently faster to earn an additional 10% exp in the same amount of time? If not, I'd go with the heirloom item.

If the goal is *not* to minimize the time spent leveling, then it's just a question of what that goal is and which of the two helps you meet that goal faster.

It probably takes something like 20million xp to hit 80.

10% bonus then is like 2 million free xp.
i'm leveling a druid and wear cloth heirloom shoulders and chest (only bought one set so these will work on any toon I ever create in the future), lvl 28 arathi basin boots (with spurs so its +8% run speed AND +4% mounted speed), and lowbie gloves with riding speed.

i plan on keeping the same gloves and boots equipped until lvl 69 when i can use a riding crop.

when i go into a dungeon, i'll put on the better gloves and boots that i have in bags, but i won't put on leather chest and shoulders until i'm at a boss.....

so imo, +XP gear for trash. stats for bosses.
You could get a pair of socketed pants instead. Link
Since you get more xp from the dungeons for wearing the BOA gear you should stick to the heirlooms. The loss of stats doesn't even compare to the saved time from using both chest and shoulder BOA gear.
I always choose leveling speed increase for myself. If it increases XP, it's a no brainer for me. Oddly enough, that's because I enjoy the 1-80 journey. Only problem I have with it is the time it takes when I am doing it casually.

What I mean, is that when I am levelling an alt casually I play it just like I would any RPG I picked up at the store. The story for me ends when they hit 80. Each time I roll an alt I'd like the story to be different, with different quests, locations, and experiences. I've found that with every XP increase Blizzard has added that my 1-80 journey gets more and more diverse. When I first levelled it was difficult to level an alt via quests without repeating almost all the quests you had done before. Now I find that I can go 1-70 with a large percentage of my quests being ones I had not completed the prior time.

For myself a RPG CAN be too long. I'm shooting for an experience and a goal, while wanting to enjoy the journey. I found a game like Baldur's Gate entirely too long for me t finish... while Diablo 2 was just right. I like the increasingly faster pace in WoW that makes for an interesting varying experience every time I level an alt.

So, I like the journey... I just prefer a shorter, and more repeatable, jorney ;)
I enjoy leveling as well but with 80 levels to go through it's getting a little ridiculous so I tend to favour the bonus XP. If they had an entire set of gear I could get I would buy it all. I think this is what will eventually happen.
Well, I levelled my rogue wearing the cloth (stam/int/spirit/spellpower) heirloom robe and shoulders, because I deemed it worth having two pieces with no useful stats at all, for a +20% xp bonus, so that's where my preferences lie.
I have to agree with a few folks here. Don't sweat the items, go for the exp gains and get your groove on.
If possible, I'd do both, and switch things around as needed. Like, I would wear the +xp when I was soloing, and maybe while killing trash in a dungeon, but then definitely switch to +stats when fighting a boss, and maybe also if fighting difficult trash.

That's what I'd do as a power gamer anyway. Considering I don't play any more, if I did play, I'd probably enjoy running low lvl dungeons as much as you are, and subsequently, I'd have no real interest in speeding up my leveling.

Considering that, I'd say just stick with the stats. No need to level out of content faster.
Depends on what I'm doing. If I'm leveling an alt, I'd go for the XP bonus but if I was doing my first character through new content, I'd go for the stats.
Part of the decision here is the "journey" aspect of MMORPGS - that is that most people dont really even see a character as legit until they are at the level cap. Thats why when I play characters that arent level capped, I dont even really bother to worry about gear until they are capped because once you are maxed stats are so much easier to come by. As much fun as Sunken Temple groups were, at this point your time is so much better spent just killing mobs and levelling quickly.

Of course, all of this is from a definite "achiever"point of view. If you can enjoy the journey (which I have really failed to do in 10 years of MMORPG gaming), then you can simply plow through and enjoy having stats at level 22, but for me its just not worth it.
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