Sunday, January 18, 2009

Update on Level 80 Priorities

After I hit 80 on my mage, I wrote up priorities for what I'd be working on at 80. I've spent a bit of time since working on a two part Gear Guide, and I even formalized a set of New Year's Resolutions on the topic.

So, a month or so after the fact (longer on the calendar, but I was out of town for a week in there), how is it going?

Reputations and Daily Quests
Through the combined modern miracles of daily quests and tabards, Green is now exalted with Wyrmrest, the Kirin Tor, and the Argent Crusade. He's a day away from exalted with the Oracles, and was already exalted wih the Kalu'ak when he hit 80.

I deliberately chose to put off the Hodir and Ebon Blade reps to help ward off daily quest burnout. I'll go as far as I can on the Ebon Blade front via dungeon rep, because I find most of the dailies are on the tedious side. Hodir I will have to bite the bullet on, but I'm going to wait for the oft-delayed patch 3.0.8 to see how the new repeatable quest for [Relic of Ulduar]. There's also the matter of the Argent Vanguard - I'm not even sure off-line where my rep is on that front because it's a meta-faction not reported in the armory. Either way, I'm getting pretty close to finished with reps.

Unfinished Quests
I'm pretty sure I've managed to gear up beyond the level of any remaining non-repeatable quests in Northrend, but I do still want to finish enough quests in Icecrown to finish up Icecrown: The Final Goal so I can get Loremaster and craft my own [Deathchill Cloak].

Wintergrasp and PVP
I actually obtained my first heirloom item, and am well on my way to a second. The bad news is that, in my view, Wintergrasp is nigh impossible to defend. We'll see how the poll turns out, but the current stats have definitely dampened the enthusiasm I had for the zone a month ago.

Though I said at the time that I was not not all that interested in PUG'ging dungeons, I have wound up doing PUG Heroics for the excellent rewards. I'm halfway through my newly revised goal of finishing all twelve heroic dungeons.

On hold til patch 3.0.8 due to pending material cuts.

I'm considering taking my rogue for a spin once I get the 80ish shards I need to get her a heirloom dagger (an unusually big deal for a Rogue because they have dagger-required attacks, and it's irritating to choose between sticking with an out-dated dagger and losing several key skills). How far that project goes will depend on whether the novelty of literally burning through levels outweighs the fact that I've done all the old content multiple times. Not feeling much interest in taking the Ret Pally through Northrend just yet.

Misc Achievements and Cash
The cash is piling up as a result of day to day activities, and I haven't decided if I want to save it, spend it on misc projects (e.g. dropping Tailoring and powerleveling Jewelcutting, etc), buy raid BOE's (I'm never fond of that much money for incremental upgrades, but I suppose I'd reconsider if a best-in-slot BOE came along for a price I can afford), or burn the cash on fluff money sinks (e.g. mounts, pets). I do still want a motorcycle for my Hunter, but that is NOT something I'm going to be making a top priority out of.

As to misc achievements, those are getting closer to the top of my list because I'm running out of other stuff. We'll see how far I decide to go on that front.

Newish item: Gearing up
Since I wrote my gear guide, I've actually obtained a good 10 items off my shopping list. Right now, the major holes remaining in my gear are the hat (solved with 3.0.8), the pants (Heroic Loken or Archavon), and maybe a wand (Heroic Azjol Nerub?). I will also need to juggle some items to stay at the hit cap on my hit set, and to meet meta gem requirements, and there are a few slots with some minor upgrades, but, at the moment, nearly half my gear is what I consider best-in-slot for my status as a non-raider.

New item: Experimenting with specs?
I'm currently running with an unconventional Water Elemental/Critical Mass Frostfire build. I wasn't very interested in Deep Freeze at the bottom of the Frost tree, and I REALLY wasn't interested in removing the snare from my main nuke with the [Glyph of Frostbolt]. Meanwhile, going with a 24 point investment in the Fire tree gets me Impact, Burning Soul (works on Frostfire Bolt), and some other goodies. The catch is that it's very clear in group settings that I'm doing significantly less damage than I should be based on the quality of my gear, while often literally being unable to spend my mana fast enough.

The real question is where to go from there. I tried the cookie cutter Fire/Frost Frostfire build back when I first got the spell but it felt like being a Frost mage without two of my key frost tools (Ice Barrier and the Elemental). Euripedes has a 2-part post up on the Arcane Barrage + Shatter Arcane/Frost build. I find this intriguing for PVP (lots of burst damage and instant casts), but I'm not looking to formally adopt a PVP-focused build until dual specs come out.

One alternative I'm considering is the currently less-than-common Fire spec that actually still casts Fireball over Frostfire Bolt. (Broadly speaking, it's something like this build, though apparently Molten Fury and Torment the Weak are currently incompatible due to a bug). This appeals to me because I dislike total cookie cutter builds. The big major catch is that there's no room in that build for 8 points in the Frost tree, which means that I would lose 3% hit rating from Elemental Precision. I haven't decided how much this bothers me - I'm still near 6% in my everyday gear, which means I can hit cap 5-mans without it, but it could be a problem for my raid boss hit numbers. Then again, this build may be good for more than a 500+ DPS upgrade over my current numbers, so a little hit rating may be the least of my concerns.

Either way, I'm probably keeping my 50% uptime Elemental til I finish those Icecrown quests, but, after that, it may be time to experiment.

How is the length of the expansion doing?
As I predicted/feared, I'm getting pretty close to done with all of the non-raid things I can do in the game that will advance my main's gear after a month at 80. That's the same boat everyone is in, raider and non-raider alike, but it's unfortunate. Unless there's some treasure trove of stuff I haven't done and never knew I wanted to, odds are good that I may be playing a second game on the side (most likely EQ2) by the time I hit 2 months at 80.

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