Why did you want to get Realm First Level 90?
Why? Mainly because I had never done it before and lots of people in my guild were getting really excited about Mists and all the hype... It was hard not to get all wrapped up in the excitement! Besides, it was something I had always wanted to do and just wanted to see if I could do it. And I'll show a little bit of hubris here: its always nice to see your name go across the screen in realm spam.
What did you do to prepare in advance?
Well, I had leveled to 90 on the beta. That said, I did that leveling very early on in beta so I knew there was going to be a number of changes (as well as bug fixes) that i didn't experience. I was familiar with all my class changes, so I knew I was going to be comfortable with both healing and DPSing in Shadowform.
Perhaps the two best things we did to prepare was to formulate a strict strategy with our 5 man team and to plan our dungeon time. Our 5 man leveling team had a rogue, Torima, who had quested a lot on beta and has a phenomenal memory so he somewhat became our de facto guide through the maps and quest chains -- he actually remembered some quests that were dead ends or particularly painful in getting RNG quest drops: if the quest was skippable, and ate up too much time we didn't do it -- such as the Yak quest out in Dread Wastes.
Secondly, my 5-man team did a test run to 86 on beta purely by chain-running the Dungeon Finder. Beta dungeoning scaled our iLvl down a number of points, so we knew going in in our raid gear from Dragon Soul, we'd be doing better than we did in those test runs. After a few trial runs we were able to get our dungeon runs down to sub 10 minute run which increased our XP per hour notably.
We all had maxed out our dailies in Tol Barad, and had our profession dailies ready as well. Anything to get a kick start to 86... we needed to get out in front of the pack, as to not be fighting over tagging quest mobs and quest hub bottlenecks.
We even went so far as to make targeting macros and keybound the "interact with target" command for the daily quest-givers. We did this so people who were griefing (and there were plenty thanks to CRZ) by standing on the quest NPCs with large mounts were of no consequence to our turn-ins. Additionally, we all had the mod Leatrix Plus installed to quickly accept/turn-in quests for us when talking to NPCs.
As far as real life changes or preparations, I didn't do all that much except go to bed early so I would get a good chunk of rest prior to launch. I had my snacks and food all prepped as I mentioned before.
What was your plan for the launch?
We all were sitting in Molten Front to turn the Protectors of Hyjal daily valued at 94k XP (more than any other daily). We then used our Tol Barad tabards, turned in the quests there and portaled back to Stormwind for the Pandaria Quest in the Keep. Once we landed on the Skyfire and made our way to Pandaria we all hearthed back to Stormwind (as we were worried about lag/disconnects/world server crashing) and immediately queued for LFD and ran Non-Stop to 87.
At 87, we mounted up and ran to Kun Lai Summit and started the quests there skipping Jade Forest and Krasarang Wilds since we did not want to fight for quest mobs. Our guild's other 5 man team was shortly behind us in Kun Lai. We did Kun Lai, then headed straight for Townlong Steppes and onward to Dread Wastes and 90!
As you were on the Alliance side, how did you deal with the difficulties suffered by others on the earlier quests such as the Gyrocopters and the like?
We all remembered the quest from beta, and knew it was going to be a complete mess -- it was notoriously buggy on the beta -- so we didn't do it at all. We zoned into Pandaria (so we could get the portal back!) and immediately started running LFD -- nonstop until we hit 87. Gyrocopters? What Gyrocopters?
You mentioned your guild had some interesting approaches to dealing with bottlenecks etc. could you share those?
Simply avoid them, or get ahead of the pack so that the bottle necks were simply a non-issue. Anything that delays you in getting quests done was a danger -- unless it was a quest that phased another quest hub, but we had a list of those "critical" quests already planned out.
Any interesting alternatives to questing that you did?
We didn't enter Townlong until 88 as we would have run into quests we were ineligible for, and didn't want to be in Dread Wastes until 89. So to push over those, we did wind up running 1 or 2 instances to push over the hump. (And remember the first time you run an instance, you get quests worth a good chunk of XP). Unfortunately, our random dungeos was Shado-Pan Monastery -- which as you know, has a fairly lengthy chunk of RP and trash that grants ZERO xp... we were not pleased with that.
Did anything go wrong?
One of our party disconnected once during the leveling process for a couple of minutes, but then caught up shortly after -- however he unfortunately disconnected a second time but for 10-15 minutes. This was during the long 89-90 crawl and we had no idea how close (or far) the other 89's on the server were to finishing.
In the final 1,000s of XP we realized that our XP amounts were not synched up and we needed to do SOMETHING together to push us over... quest mobs were too valuable. So we all jumped into an LFD, and slowly killed trash mobs. As each one of us got closer and closer to 90 you zoned out as to not push over 90 accidentally. Myself and Omegal, our Protection Warrior, cleared a whole room of trash up to the first boss in Mogu'Shan Palace... the kill pushed us all over 90 -- with exception of our Protection Warrior who somehow landed a few thousand short. So we then scrambled to kill trash to get him the few extra XP within the time buffer to share the Realm First! 90 Feat of Strength. Unfortunately, he didn't get the XP in time and missed the Feat of Strength, but still was Realm First! Warrior.
Tell me about Esoth -- what did he do differently that put him 40 minutes ahead?
Esoth was part of the other 5 man that dungeoned to 87, but instead of questing with a group (when group questing, mobs killed grant less XP) he was questing solo. He eventually outpaced us in Dread Wastes due to the fact that very few quests in Dread Wastes actually "shared" quest drops to all those within a group. So while we were collecting drops for 5 of us, he only needed to do that for himself. (And many mobs had finite spawn numbers). Where he really gained time on us was during the Shark Week quest, since we had issues with AOE looting and killing multiple sharks at once since the shark jaws did not stack (and were unique), but you had to "use" them to get the quest item (teeth). So there were a lot of quest items that were "lost" due to AOE looting. We unfortunately probably wasted a good additional 30-45 minutes on that one quest.
Since he is a good friend and a guildmate, Esoth waited to turn in his final quest until we were 30 seconds away from hitting 90 and we shared the Feat of Strength for overall Realm First! 90 and we all gained Realm First! [Class] achievements as well.
Were there any other contenders outside Something Wicked?
There were a few contenders both on Alliance side and Horde side. There was a Horde druid that finished just as we did, so it definitely was close. He shared the Feat of Strength too, I believe. However, after it was all said and done we were a way ahead of the other folks racing -- so some of our preparations may have just been a bit unnecessary, but still fun!
Within our guild we nabbed 6 Class Realm Firsts, and a few were within a couple of percentages from getting it themselves -- overall we were quite proud, and the shared strategies we did on our forums seemed to be helpful.
What would you recommend to people looking to hit 90 in the shortest time possible?
Ooh, good question. Well first of you need to do it in such a way that you're having fun. For me the fun was doing it with 4 other guildies (but in reality it was far more since mumble and guild chat was pretty busy). If you aren't enjoying it then why are you playing the game? However, just simply have a plan and stick to it... know your path. Most of the quests and zones are really linear and walk you through the zones really nicely, so its not too hard but if you decide on skipping zones or quests at least know the major quest hubs and where they are located.
Would I do it again? Maybe... I had a real blast doing it with my guildmates, and it was a way for us to bond and prepare for raids. It was a different launch experience, but there is just a certain something about the rush and excitement of a race, isn't there?
Derevka is a Holy/Discipline Priest raiding with the 25-man guild Something Wicked on the US-Whisperwind server. He writes regularly at his website Tales of a Priest, and is a Moderator and content creator at the priest-dedicated forum site HowToPriest.com.
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