Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Dual-boxing with recruit-a-friend in WoW
I would like to start this post with an apology to the World of Warcraft multi-boxing community: I know that multi-boxing can be far more advanced and complex than what I am going to write about. This is not a post about how to control 5 characters at once and run heroics; this is a far simpler affair with just 2 characters and not much yet in specialized software. My interest in dual-boxing started with 2 unrelated things: Blizzard changed the reward for the recruit-a-friend program from the single-person ground zhevra to the two-person flying rocket mount; and I noticed that my project to level a druid had gotten stuck. The druid had been started at the same time as my paladin, but the paladin made it to 80, while I never got around leveling the druid further than 29, so he really could use a boost. Thus I recruited myself as a “friend”, got the rocket mount, and started leveling characters at triple speed.
The whole process of using the recruit-a-friend program to dual-box two characters at triple speed starts with creating a second e-mail address, if you haven’t already got one. Then you go to the World of Warcraft account management page on Battle.net and find the recruit-a-friend option there. Using that, you send your second e-mail account a 10-day trial invitation to World of Warcraft. This is the *only* way this works; do not first create a second WoW account and try to connect it to your first account later, it won’t work. You need to go via a trial account created using the key sent out via the recruit-a-friend program.
Up to here this costs nothing, but as the trial account is limited to level 20, this also isn’t all that helpful yet, and you won’t get a rocket for this. To lift the trial account restrictions you need to upgrade the account to a regular account for $15, which includes 30 days subscription. To get the rocket you need to add at least a 60-day time card on top of that, which will cost you another $30. So for $45 you get the rocket, a trial account with 100 days of play time, which for 90 of these days is linked to your original account, plus a 30-day bonus play time for your original account. Assuming that you would otherwise have paid $15 for the 30 days on your main account, the rocket and triple xp dual-boxing for 90 days thus cost $30. Which actually isn’t all that overpriced compared to a $25 sparkly pony. Note that you’ll want to pay the subscription for the new account with a game time card, as then you’ll get the rocket reward immediately; if you use a credit card, you’ll only get the rocket once the second monthly subscription is paid, which is 70 days later, and you have to remember cancelling the account afterwards. I do not recommend upgrading the new account with the Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King expansions, as the triple xp are limited to level 60, and the expansions are relatively expensive for an account which is fundamentally throw-away.
Now the triple xp feature comes with severe restrictions, the two characters on the two accounts must be very close in level and within 100 yards of each other for this to work. Thus I couldn’t use the feature to boost my druid yet, I first need to level a character from the trial account to 29. First choice to make was to choose a character class. Now my 4 existing level 80 are priest, warrior, mage, and paladin. The character I ultimately want to boost is a druid. I want to play a hunter and a warlock with the two new races in Cataclysm. And I just played a shaman for the Single Abstract Noun project. So I went for a rogue. I’m not saying that this is the best possible choice, but hey, I’m new to dual-boxing, and I figure that a high dps character with a druid backup for buffing and healing could work. Until the rogue is level 29 however, I need a different character to group him with. Now I just happened to have a level 2 warrior bank alt, from my glyph selling project. That’ll do for the moment.
Now as I mentioned at the start, hardcore multi-boxing is a complicated science, using specialized software and a setup which makes that if you press for example button 1, *both* characters do the action on hotkey button 1, which enables you to have all your characters act simultaneously in a fight. I might look into that much later, but for the moment I went for something much, much simpler: I twinked my warrior to the max, and set the rogue to autofollow. I don’t need the additional damage from the rogue to do low-level quests, a twinked warrior can do the quests for both. Thus the only additional software I’m using now is the Keepfollowing addon. The computer I am using is a quad core with 6 GByte of RAM and two screens, which has no problems running two copies of the World of Warcraft client at once, one on each screen. I just need to move the mouse over to the second screen when I want to control the second character, which isn’t all that often, just to accept and hand in quests, and sometimes to loot.
Looting actually turned out to be the biggest problem. Trial accounts that you upgrade to a regular account do not lose all the trial account restrictions immediately. For 72 hours you are still unable to trade, or use your mail, or the auction house. Thus I was running around in a group with a bank alt with 3,000 gold to his name, and the rogue who didn’t have enough silver to pay for his training cost, as he had no bags, and him doing the looting on the second screen was kind of tedious. In the end I logged off the warrior, logged on the level 80 priest, went to some level 60 zone, summoned the rogue over (using the recruit-a-friend summoning function), and blasted a bunch of mobs with holy nova, then letting the rogue loot. That doesn’t give much xp, but the trash loot is worth a couple of silver to a NPC vendor, so I could buy some bags and pay for the training.
Back to the warrior / rogue team, I got them to level 14 already, in a few hours, questing in Durotar and the Barrens. Unlike the rest xp bonus (which doesn’t apply if you are already at triple xp), the recruit-a-friend xp bonus works for both kill xp and quest xp. Thus questing is the way to go, but with triple xp you don’t need to do all the quests in a quest hub before moving on. The trick here is to select quests that ask you to “kill 10 foozles”, and skip the quests that say “collect 10 foozle horns”, because the latter takes twice the time even if every foozle drops a horn, because every horn counts only for one of your two characters, while the kills count for both. The autofollow method isn’t sophisticated, but it works at the low levels. When the rogue reaches level 29, I’ll switch to a rogue / druid team, with the rogue in front. By that time the trial account restrictions should be gone, and I can twink him, using the druid for healing. And if it isn’t too complicated, I’ll look into the software which would allow me to control the two characters with one keypress, so that for example the druid could cast a healing spell on the rogue every time I press button 1 for the rogue, and a damage spell on the rogue’s target every time I press key 2.
Fortunately leveling is fast, because the clock is ticking. The two accounts are only linked for 90 days, and I shouldn’t forget that at the end the rogue at level 60 will be able to grant up to 30 levels to the characters on my main account which are below 60. As I mentioned yesterday, it is a bit annoying that this might end me up with characters at level 60, when what I really want would be level 70. Or at least level 65 for being able to learn professions to 450. I don’t know yet what I’ll do with the rogue. If I really like him, I could pay for a character transfer to my account, otherwise I’ll just let him lapse when the second account runs out. After the 90 days the second account becomes a whole lot less useful, as he loses the link to the original account. If I wanted more triple xp leveling (and another rocket), it would be better to let the second account lapse and just start over with a new trial account.