Azuarc's Leveling Guide for Alliance, act 0: Prelude
Welcome to Azuarc's leveling guide. I wish you the best of luck in leveling your characters, and hope that this guide is able to help you make it to the level cap at an acceptable and enjoyable rate. I decided to write my own leveling guide because most leveling guides are at least one of the following:
My hope is that this guide will be none of those for you. This is actually the second version of the guide. The original guide was written before version 2.3, which made experience gains at lower levels much faster. What this meant is you would often level too quickly for the old guide, and I've been able to take out some annoying stuff you don't really want to do anyway. Also, with the impending expansion, I've taken out the sections for Outland that focused on how to have the reputations and gear you would need at 70 since you're going to keep on leveling into Northrend.
Ultimately, a leveling guide is used by people in three categories: 1) People who want to just power to the level cap. This guide will work fine for you folks, although you might get tired of all the reading since I do like to make sure that this is a guide and not just a checklist. I've managed to level very quickly simply using my guide, however. With a Draenei hunter, I was able to beat Team iDemise's so-called "world record" fairly easily. 2) People starting a new character, and don't want to mess around too much. Maybe you're a Horde player going Alliance for the first time. Maybe you just want to see some new stuff, or have a guide that will keep you from moving too slowly. This guide is perfect for you. 3) Brand new players. If you are a brand new player, I do not recommend using a leveling guide. Learn the game first, see the world, enjoy everything World of Warcraft has to offer. Once you've done that, I have no qualms about using a guide to level. But if you insist on using a guide, this one's at least as good as any because it's very explicit in what to do.
The best part of this guide is also the worst one. I write a lot. For those with short attention spans, the hitlist of quests to watch out for is at the beginning of each section, and I am going to try to write a condensed form of the guide when I'm done the rewrite completely.
That depends on how hard you work at it. On my first real run through the guide after it was written, (which did contain some downtime as I made notes and did a few things that I revised the guide not to do,) I hit level 70 in 4 days, 12 hours, 45 minutes, and 8 seconds, as can be seen here:
How close you will come to that depends on how diligently you work at nothing but leveling. You might even pull it off faster. A warlock can probably finish faster than my hunter. However, you won't come close if you don't follow a few rules.
There are basically four ways to level.
The policy of most leveling guides is to use tactic #4, although they typically cut out all instances, recommend you do no tradeskills because it's "easier to wait til you get to max level to do one," and proceed from quest to quest and camp to camp with extreme efficiency. I don't completely agree with this. You do actually want to have some fun while you're leveling your character, or you won't enjoy him/her at 70.
However, you will need to be efficient. Time in World of Warcraft is spent in three ways: Fighting, Travelling, and Support. (Support is things like buying/selling in town, working on tradeskills, etc.) Ideally, to level quickly, you want to do as little Travelling and Support as you can, and you want to end fights as quickly as you can without being wasteful. This means you should be prepared to do certain things as you play:
1. Kill your way through
Don't shirk, don't avoid, don't be dainty. Not only does it mean less experience, but it also sometimes makes things harder for you when the mob you avoided sees you later and joins a fight. Fight anything that gets in your way, and attack everything in a camp.
However, know what is worth killing. Obviously there will come a point when you *don't* want to kill everything. If you are level 11, you don't need to be fighting level 6 beasts that decide to nip at your heals. Likewise, you don't want to be consistently fighting things over your level, or more than one at a time, unless you have very specific reason. The previous rule applies to anything between your level and 2-3 levels below it. Anything else is usually not worth the time invested. You also don't want to clear out hundreds of guys that just happen to be in front of you. I do not expect you to grind.
2. Stay out in the field as long as possible
Empty your bags COMPLETELY when you can. Do not tote something you "might" need or that you are saving for the bank. That's what mules are for - create an alternate character you sit next to a mailbox and just return the mail as you want those items. You will need all your bag space, especially if you don't use a higher level character's money to buy yourself big bags.
Instead, organize your bags. Put all your permanent supplies like your hearthstone in the first one, put all your tradeskill pick-ups and other items you want to send to your mail alt in the second, keep all your quest items in the third. If you're fortunate enough to not need the fourth bag for something specific (like a quiver of arrows,) consider it an extension of your backpack. And use your backpack for all the random vendor junk you pick up. You should avoid leaving stuff rotting - if your bag space to carry more stuff is running out, that's often how you know it's time to go find a vendor. If you do have to destroy though, make sure you keep all weapons that drop and preferably armor as well. Past about level 10, they're easily the most valuable drops other than items that should obviously be worth money.
Let me reiterate that for one other point. Pick up EVERYTHING. There's no reason to leave it behind unless your trips become huge marathons. (Some of them will be.) And as a result, when you loot, hold shift while you right-click the body. I recommend turning Click to Move on in the options menu. This way you can just click from afar, scoop, and keep moving. Don't stop and analyze what you've got; you have time during fights or while running places for that. But pick up everything so you can sell everything, as that will lead to having more money.
Regarding money, do not spend it on anything that is not training, flights, combat supplies, or bigger bags. You'll get gear along the way. There is no need to shop for it, or worse, monitor auctions. You want to have the money for your mounts at level 30, 60, and 70.
3. Just because you want to do something doesn't mean you should RIGHT NOW
You do not want to return to town the instant you finish a quest, just because you finished a quest. Some zones are so large that travelling well across them, only to realize the next quest you were going to do wasn't far away can cost you over 10 minutes. Why waste two trips back and forth to town? And why repeat this process for 10 out of every 20 minutes?
And, of course, plan out your quest order. The guide should do that for you, but if you decide to deviate from that, consider that you want to be doing quests that are in the same area at the same time, and if you know that one quest leads to another somewhere else, keep that in mind when deciding what to do -now-.
The other side of this is that many people will often say that a zone starts at a certain level. For example, Un'goro Crater starts at level 49 ot 50. Quite honestly, if you go to Un'goro at that level, you will find it VERY difficult, and only for the VERY limited set of things you can actually do. Don't run off to Duskwood at 18 or Stranglethorn at 30.
4. Maximize your downtime
Yes, that's right, maximize. As in maximize the benefit you get from it. Traveling back to town, or worse, to a city, is usually a waste of time you want to avoid. Never stop, drop and roll to town unless you need to stop playing. Just because you hit level 14 doesn't mean you need to instantly run off and train; you'll be quite disappointed at some levels. Don't forget to train, but don't do it immediately.
You generally need to go to a vendor when your bags are full. You need to go to *town* when there are no other vendors, when you have quests to turn in, or your bags are overflowing with stuff you don't want to sell. If you do happen across another vendor outside of town, use him. There will almost never be anything you need to buy from that guy, but it does give you a chance to unload the six or so slots of gray items in your backpack that you might need later.
When you get to town, hit all the questgivers you need to. Check your log to make sure you don't miss anything that's complete. The synopsis at the top of the quest description will indicate if the quest finishes somewhere else. Also, every time you return to town, you need to do three things from the vendors there - you need to unload, you need to reload, and you need to repair. Mail, vendor, equip, adjust, do everything you need to or can do in town. Don't leave without being fully prepared to go out on another week-long safari. Ever. You should extend that last statement to beyond the leveling guide. (I get very irritated at players who show up to instance groups, die twice, and need to leave to repair because their equipment is all broken.)
So you'll want to avoid unnecessary trips to places, but sometimes trips are necessary. Returning to town, flying to Stormwind or Exodar to train, hitting up an out-of-the-way questgiver...any time you are traveling, make use of that time! Plan your next moves, your talent points, or anything else. Get a drink, change your CD, or use the bathroom if you can. But never just sit there looking stupid. God gave you the auto-run button for a reason! Learn to do your chatting on the move and steer with the arrow keys.
When you do finally go back to a major city, that is when you should think about quickly logging onto your mule, return every mail you might be able to use, and make use of those supplies. All those herbs, ore, and cloth you've got piling up? Now's the time to put them to use, while you're going to be near a trainer anyway. Of course, don't forget you have bank space as well, if you don't feel like mailing everything back.
5. Plan your log-outs and heartstones
Your hearthstone is a free ride back to the nearest inn no more than once per hour. And as a result, it should be set to take you to the closest inn. You will NEVER need to hustle back to Ironforge or Shattrath or Dalaran. So long as you are leveling, set your hearthstone wherever you are working so it can be used as a quick trip to town.
Keep in mind, the intended purpose of the hearthstone is to get you to a safe place to log out. Do not use it to save yourself a 30 second walk back to town. Do use it to save yourself a long trip, especially if you're feeling weary and ready to call it for the night. **You can easily stop the guide at the end of any scene.**
However, before you log out, ask yourself if there's any little side trips you need to make. One of the best times to use your hearthstone is to return from a trip to the city. If you're in Desolace and you need to travel all the way to Ironforge to train, that's not a trip you want to make in both directions. Likewise, if you find yourself making such a trip and your hearthstone isn't ready, but you aren't likely to need it right away the next time you're playing, find an inn near where you are and hearth when you come back the next day.
But always make sure you are getting rest experience when you log out, unless it's for a half hour to eat dinner or something else quick. There's basically no reason not to, and it's like earning experience while you're not playing. You might not go the full 10 days without playing your character, but even 10 hours is enough to make a noticeable difference.
6. Play smart
Develop yourself a battle plan that you use for fighting most creatures that kills them fairly quickly without consuming a ton of health or mana. A priest might start with a Smite from the edge of range, followed by a Mind Blast, and then back-up while casting Shadow Word: Pain and Renew on themselves before their opponent reaches them. This will not only mean your opponent is at least a third dead before reaching you, but you are also well-fixed for the battle. Compare that to starting with the instant spell Shadow Word: Pain that immediately makes your opponent come running as you stand there waiting for the global cooldown before doing anything else.
Casting spells or using abilities throughout an entire battle is a surefire way to end up with no mana. There is a game mechanic called the "five second rule" that applies to all mana-users: your spirit regenerates mana, and that regeneration turns off for 5 seconds after every spell (or other mana-using ability, hunters,) that you finish. This is why the quick burst in the beginning of the fight I describe for the priest above, and then wanding to death, is actually very smart. Mana is a limited resource, so save it for when it genuinely helps or when it will otherwise go to waste. It might be fun to finish off your opponent with a big instant attack, but unless it saves you much time, health, or aggravation, it's not worth it. Drinking time is downtime! (Obviously, rogues and warriors need to think about this a little bit differently.)
7. Plan ahead
Some people multi-task better than others. But if you aren't distracted with RL things at the same time, think ahead to the big picture when you can. On top of your basic battle plan, you don't want to just sit and watch your character auto-attack. While you are not intent on doing something else, you should probably be looking around you with the mouse. You never know what patrol or hostile player is sneaking up behind you, or what quest target happens to be passing by.
However, if you have some extra thought power to spare, think about where you're going after what you're doing now. Think about what that will require. Do you have the bag space or will you need to return to town? Do you have any other quests in the area you're in that you haven't completed yet? Where do you intend on putting your next talent points? How much longer are you going to keep playing today? There are plenty of other questions you can ask yourself as you play.
And it's probably needless to say, but you should probably use the best leveling spec for your class. A protection warrior is just a wee bit slower than fury. Healing builds are for running instances, not getting your level up.
8. Avoid Groups. Do not shun them.
Contrary to what some leveling guides tell you, you should not never ever get into a group, but don't work with other people unless it's someone you know that is very solid and reliable, or you genuinely need groupmates for a particular task. Once you finish what you're doing, unless you're feeling generous, say goodbye to your groupmates. While the human contact is sometimes nice, other people tend to only slow down a determined person.
90% of the time, you will end up in a group as a marriage of convenience. If you need to kill a named guy that's about to spawn, and someone else does as well, team up and both get credit. However, if that person says, "do you need (fill in the blank) as well?" or "could you help me with (whatever)?", try to find a way to polite excuse yourself unless it truly is where you are going next.
9. If you're going to have a tradeskill, then have a tradeskill
Let's start with a basic statement. Tradeskills will slow you down, and cost money. Many would argue it's better to do the tradeskills at max level rather than worrying about it as you go. This is perhaps true, but it also makes your profession pretty worthless. Depending on your goals, you may want to have your profession as you go so you can make use of all those mining nodes you find along the way.
If you are going to level with a tradeskill, start it from level 5, and keep up with it for whatever good it can do you. Don't let your alchemy hold you back as you carry around 8 different types of potions, eating up bag space. But if you can make yourself some nice leather armor if you take the time to do so, that's usually a good idea. If you're doing herbalism or mining, it's perfectly acceptable to work your way toward a spawn, but the same rules as before apply - clear your way to it. Don't rush past.
Even if you avoid all other tradeskills, make sure you work on First Aid unless you're a tailor that can heal. Bandages are very nice for saving time eating (or drinking if you can heal.) Tailors need the cloth for making clothing, of course, but even then I still recommend you invest some interest in making band-aids.
Remember to mail off materials you accrue to a bank mule so you don't have to deal with them immediately or limit your inventory slots.
10. Breaks are good in moderation
So are snacks. Don't play for 8 hours straight without getting up once. It's more likely you'll have to worry about the other side, of taking too many breaks, but it's still important to mention. It's very easy to exhaust yourself by pushing too hard. Although the guide is broken up into sections and sub-sections called Acts and Scenes, sometimes a single scene will be longer than you intend on spending in one sitting. Don't be afraid to break it up. This is a guide. It isn't a formula for success, that you will go horribly wrong if you deviate from it.
Oh, and please send me your feedback! I can only make the guide better when I know there's something wrong. Even though this is a wiki page, I ask you not to change the guide except to fix minor errors. If you have comments or suggestions, send them to me. Even if I don't agree with them, I will include them in some fashion.
This guide starts at level 12, in Darkshore. You are welcome to depart from the guide as you like, but that is where it begins. Get yourself to level 12 or 13 in your starting area, and get to Auberdine.
Additionally, because Dwarves, Gnomes and Humans will already have to travel to reach here, I'm recommending everybody gets their flight points for each of the major cities. In other words, have the flight points for Stormwind, Ironforge, Auberdine and Darnassus. Yes, Night Elves and Draenei, too. Having that Stormwind flight point will pay off later. You don't even have to run through Wetlands any more, thanks to the Lich King rerouting of the boats. There's really no excuse not to get your flight points first. (If anyone finds any inconsistencies in travelling due to the change in boat paths, please let me know.)
I do not take the stance most guides and probably players do about mods. I personally feel there should be no reason you should feel like you need a mod in order to play the game. As such, you will never hear me reference anything using one and I will almost never give you coordinates. You're welcome to use them, but I'm not going to tell you to check TitanPanel to make sure you're getting 6000 xp/hour, or that Quickloot will help you move from mob to mob quickly.
If you play on a PvP server, you will need to plan accordingly. Some of my zone choices are downright wretched on PvP servers, as I do thrust you right into Ashenvale, Thousand Needles, and Stranglethorn. But for PvE, I actually think it is the best course, so you'll just need to read my alternatives at each level if you can't stand the ganking.
And you *should* know how to get to Auberdine already, but if you're a Horde-for-life player that just rolled Alliance, remember the Deeprun Tram will take you from Ironforge to Stormwind, and the harbor in Stormwind departs for Auberdine from the left-most dock. In reverse, Night Elves and Draenei will need to take the southern dock in Auberdine to Stormwind, get the flight point in the southeast corner of the trade district, and then enter the Deeprun Tram in the Dwarven District to reach Ironforge.
Finish your starting area, and make the trip no earlier than level 12. Some classes have things that open up to them at level 10 or level 12 in their home area that you don't want to miss, such as priest racials, paladin rez, shaman Call of Fire, warlock voidwalker, etc. You actually should be able to get to level 13 in your starting area, but get to at least level 12.
And now, with all that said, I'll see you in chapter 1 in Auberdine.