Tobold's Blog
Monday, February 02, 2015
A lupine change of plan

I got my second character in World of Warcraft to level 100, the frost mage after the fury warrior. Now my original plan was to now level the shadow priest, but I feel no desire to do so. The priest just isn't fun to play! By necessity you have to do some quests with all your characters, and there it really becomes painfully obvious how much less fun the priest is to play than the warrior or the mage.

Now there often is some confusion in MMORPGs between difficulty and time requirement. I found that my characters leveled a bit too fast for my preference, I would have like leveling at half the speed. But that doesn't mean that I want to play an underpowered character who struggles with fights that other characters can do easily. If I say I want slower leveling, I mean I want to do more quests before I level up, not that I want to lose time in slow fights or by getting killed.

Weirdly enough my warrior has better in-combat self-healing than my shadow priest does. The priest can shield himself and do desperate prayers with a long cooldown, but as he takes far more damage than the heavily armored warrior that is barely sufficient. The real healing spells are too slow for combat, and drop my priest out of shadow form. So in direct comparison the warrior deals more damage, resists damage better, and has better in-combat healing through victory rush and enraged regeneration which heal him without stopping his damage output. The frost mage on the other hand just deals far more damage than the shadow priest, and has better means of keeping the enemy at a distance. Both the warrior and the mage in combat frequently get bonus spells, which makes the combat a bit more lively. The priest rarely ever does, and is often reduced to having to use an ineffective Mind Flay spell because all the good spells are on cooldown. Even in isolation the priest isn't much fun to play, and in comparison even less so. I need a different third character.

I am using an addon (Wholly) that tells me which quests I haven't done yet, as this expansion has some quest-givers in not obvious locations. As the addon doesn't work very well and can't tell that I am Horde and can't do Alliance quests, I see that the Alliance has a somewhat different main story line. I'm being told the Horde story is better, but I've already explored that one on two characters, so for a third character an Alliance character would be better.

Now I do have a level 85 human paladin on a different server. But after some consideration I was thinking that I would prefer a ranged dps class. So I made a worgen warlock and started leveling him. The idea is play him at least through the worgen race content, and maybe a bit beyond, to see how I like the warlock class. But as I positively hate the Burning Crusade content, I'll probably either abandon that character or buy him a level 90 upgrade if I really like him. That way I could experience the Alliance quest lines of Warlords of Draenor.

As I didn't want another underpowered character, I looked up whether a warlock was any good in this expansion. Unfortunately the only information of that type available is about raid dps performance, where demonology warlocks are doing quite well. I'll have to get a feeling myself for how the character performs in solo questing and leveling content. I'd be grateful for any comments on which character classes / specs you liked or disliked leveling in Warlords of Draenor.

Hunter. It's doing pretty well in this expansion: great dps, mobility, stuff to do.

If you never played one, I'd strongly suggest to try it.
Warlocks and hunters both perform well in solo quest content cause of additional survivability through pets.
Warlocks are no longer interesting for me to play. Feel quite weak in comparison with MoP. Mobility is bad. My spec is destro.

The class I have enjoyed the most so far is my hunter. Everything feels good about this class.

Retribution paladin also feels nice.

Not sure why your shadow priest doesn't feel good for you. Never had any problems with healing myself while questing but then I tend to have ilvl 640 crafted gear from level 91 in addition to BOA weapons from Garrosh Hellscream.
additional survivability through pets

I was wondering in how far that is still a big difference in WoD content, now that *every* class has a bodyguard "pet".
I am not 100% sure about it but I guess hunter pets still outperform any other personal bodyguard/pet when it comes to solo tanking/aggroing/farming.

But the truth is... what kind of gameplay are you looking for? That's what makes the difference between a class or another. I personally don't like spells and cloth. I love bows (hunter was my only possible choice) and big swords/shields (my alt is a warrior, level 85 and frozen since Cata).
Pet classes are always great for levelling. The biggest issue is that rares become trivial since your pet have huge mitigation against the mob's special abilities. For those fights I take the sacrifice talent so bump up he difficulty.

Destruction warlocks are a bit turret-like.
I always like to use demo as my levelling spec, but I have not tested it this expansion.
Affliction gives good movement but can feel similar to shadow priest when going single target. That should be infrequent since you'll be multi-dotting mob groups and have your own pet.
Dot-dot-dot, soul swap to each target, then drain soul as each dies (to build up shards). My only gripe is the lack of AoE suitable for low health mobs.
The tank bodyguard is a lot more fragile than your pet.
a) Pet classes have decent pet healing abilities (especially through passive)
b) Bodyguards are very good at pulling extra packs and getting themselves killed. Pets can be moved, forced to stand down and resummoned when dead.
My priest was the 3rd character I took from 90 to 100, purely so I could provide a healer option for guild heroics/ raids. I found I preferred Holy to Shadow - there's some talents/glyphs which help with DPS for questing purposes. It was slower and harder work than my rogue and Blood DK, both of which I actively enjoyed levelling. Not played any other classes in WoD so can't comment on those.
I've started leveling my warlock but to be honest, I find it a bit boring. I played affliction and I find it's always the same thing. Dot Dot Dot drain. Rinse and repeat. Other specs might be more fun. Its fairly good however and you won't die easy.

I'm having much more fun with my DK but it's not a ranged dps and might feel a lot like playing a warrior.
I remember I gave up on warlock during vanilla because it seemed to complicated, but it's probably much more streamlined now. Of course I was also quite inexperienced then.

Back in those days I enjoyed the challenge of levelling with a mage, though it was probably one of the hardest classes to do it with. If you faced 3 mobs, or 2 if they weren't a sheepable type, things were never going to be easy. Of course the other thing was that although I came late to trying a mage, she eventually became higher level than the other alts, so all the quests were new and I didn't mind if they went slowly.
"Fun" is relative, so I can't really speak to that, but I can give my questing/leveling power rankings for all the classes.

Hunters easily stand alone at the top. Their pets are the strongest, and they have the most tools at their disposal. Most of the time I can solo elites without even using Mend Pet (the Spirit Bond passive is enough). Soloing two elites at once is no big deal. Even if you get in over your head (which for a Hunter means a LOT of enemies), you still have Feign Death to get out without dying.

I would rank Warlocks second. I play as Affliction, so I can't really speak to the other specs, but they seem like Mages plus a pet that can tank for you. Your pet can handle plenty of aggro, although not as survivable as a Hunter pet, and a mere fraction of the damage. I'm sure it would be boring fighting one thing at a time, but Affliction is built to take down multiple targets at once. If you get into trouble, Drain Life heals for abusive amounts right now.

Death Knights are probably third. They used to be close to Hunters before a heavy nerf to Blood Boil, when they could do 95% the single target DPS and the most AoE DPS, all while in the tank spec with the most self healing. Now you pretty much have to choose between unkillable or high dps, but that really just means going into tank spec to solo elites (or large pulls).

Druids, Paladins, and Warriors are next on the list. Solid classes with decent survivability, soloing elites is sometimes challenging but perfectly doable.

I don't have a good gauge on Monks. I suspect they are either with the above group, or the below group.

Mages, Rogues, and Shamans are a step down. They are capable in ideal circumstances, but have problems dealing with tougher situations. Soloing elites is a gamble.

Shadow Priests are almost certainly the weakest questing class. I consider Mages to be one of the weaker classes as well, so you can see just how weak Shadow Priests are in comparison to that.

The tank bodyguard NPCs are problematic that they take a lot of damage, and only regen at something like 1% per second out of combat. So unless you are a healing class, or are willing to wait a long time between pulls, they will never stop taunting and will eventually die.
I am not a elite player so I am really enjoying my Hunter. Pets make leveling so much easier. I just listened to a Convert To Raid where they mentioned that a WoW dev had said locks were fine and the community was in uproar. Someone did the numbers and affliction was essentially the average (but since they were near the top the players were not happy.) The other two specs were a bit below that. But for raiding, the best specs were 6% above average and the worst 6-9% below so pretty tight. But that really does not impact leveling much; 6% is huge to epeen meter people but still only 6%. IMO, pets, armor and self-heals matter more. (Or there is rogue; not as slow to sneak/kill as they used to be but still relatively more xp from quests-via-sneaking than killing mobs. If you want to kill mobs, get skinning on a lock/hunter.)

Historically, lock+pet was convenient to level. Certainly I found BM Hunter fun/easy.

Note that in 6.1 (soon) there will be heirloom changes, including tab, which might help some if you feel your choice could use some help.

tl;dr: hunter. although I have not played it this expansion, pets make lock #2. Too slow for the cool kids but Blood DKs don't feel underpowered since they don't die.
I would agree that hunters are veddy nice in WoD. I sometimes forget to take my pet off passive (needed for trapping furs) until mobbed or halfway through an elite battle.

My monk is down at rogue/shaman survivability, content my hunter slaughters and my protadin chews through is a struggle for him.

Discipline priests don't do badly in WoD. Shield, dot, solace, penance, smite, smite, repeat. Dps is a bit low, but I've never felt in danger.
Like other people have said, the pet classes (hunter and lock) have generally been the strongest levelers for many expansions. Personally I did an affliction lock up to BC content a few expansions ago, and the fun was mostly in seeing how many mobs I could keep feared with dots ticking at once. The biggest headache was running around looting all the corpses after clearing out a field.

Speaking of BC... keep in mind that after the revamp you pretty much only need to do HFP and a bit of Zangarmarsh to level out of it. Not too painful at all.

Now, if you want to do some grouping, my leveling advice is to roll a tank, any tank (though I've heard monks are kind of rough at low levels). Tanks are pretty much unkillable while out questing, their damage is close to DPS classes, and you get Instant LFD queues. You can sit in the capital city and just chain instances for a day if you get bored of soloing.
Were you using the Glyph of Mind Harvest?

Being able to Mind Blast -> DPx3 -> Insanity -> Insanity on each mob seemed to completely wreck them...and I have two priests at max level.
Prot pallies are fun as hell to solo with. They're basically super-powered. Same goes for Blood DKs: functionally immortal while questing, no matter how many higher-level patrols you accidentally pull at once. I've really loved playing both those classes.

You don't have to put much effort into a Beast Hunter (just a sensible macro and glyph combo to make sure you're always MD'ing your pet for free with no cooldown and unnecessarily high mend up-time, along with a reduction in revive cost which brings them back in-combat to full health in almost under a second) to be virtually unkillable as well. And high damage. But you'd be locked into DPS forever, which is shit.

I wouldn't necessarily worry too much about hating Outland, either. I'm fairly confident a couple dungeon runs while wearing heirloom gear and a couple hours clearing relatively-condensed quests out of Hellfire Peninsula should see you Northrend-ready pretty quickly. Especially if you put off your visit to Hellfire a little bit by doing some Azeroth content that you enjoy more.

Another incentive to roll a tank/heal capable class.
Oh, and no matter which class you roll, get yourself a loot-a-rang. Put it on a bar and bind a close-at-hand key to it.

You'll be amazed how much that improves quality of life.
I've had a great time levelling as an enhancement shaman. Burning through mobs, with great self-healing.

Alternatively, you may wish to consider simply changing your priest to discipline. It's (slightly) slower than shadow, but you are near-indestructible and can take on many mobs / 3-man elites with relative ease.
My information may be outdated as last time I levelled shadow priest in Cataclysm.

At that time, at least, dots and mind flay were not to be used on solo levelling content. It was something like mind spike-mind spike-mind blast-mob dead.
BTW, I think 6.1 PTR is open atm. You can transfer a char for free and idk this time but there is usually an autolevel to max in case you want to test drive the destination of a class.

The icy veins leveling for demon has "Thanks to your Voidlord, which you should always be using, you can easily pull several mobs at a time and are encouraged to do so."
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