Azuarc's leveling guide for Alliance, Act 3: Ashenvale (levels 20-23)
At the end of Act 2, we quested throughout Darkshore and some of Bloodmyst Isle. We finished that act by traveling south to Ashenvale, hopefully getting the quests at Maestra's Post, and then continuing along the road to the town of Astranaar. In Astranaar, you should collect every quest there that you can find, get the flight point, and set your hearthstone to the inn in town.
You ought to be level 20 to start because certain quests will require it, so if you weren't already, go grind or quest to 20, and then take a break and train. (Think about buying bigger bags, too!) You will have to travel a little farther to reach a city now, but your hearthstone should be up for the return. Warlocks have farther to travel, but then again they should be making a trip to Stormwind and then Ratchet for their succubus quest anyway. Shamans also have a level 20 quest that they should go claim from Exodar. It, too, eventually comes to Ashenvale to an area we will visit later.
You will also not be returning to Darkshore or Bloodmyst, so feel free to drop any remaining quests you have from those zones besides The Tower of Althalaxx. (The Tower series is mostly an Ashenvale chain, and so that will be brought up throughout this section of the guide. If you are just joining us, and do not have that quest, you can either return to Darkshore for it, or ignore those sections of the guide.)
And here is the map of Ashenvale:
Aww...why wouldn't you want to quest in Ashenvale? It's a large zone that's got all kinds of stuff to do as you move across the zone from west to east, many of which are annoying without the right approach. All the while you're quite likely to be getting ganked by Horde if you're on a PvP server. It's also out of the way, not that that should be a point of contention if you were just questing in Darkshore, and the transportation in the zone isn't great either, with one narrow road beelining down the center of this large zone.
In honesty, it's really not that bad, even if you're on a PvP server, but we only intend to be questing in Ashenvale for a couple levels before making a trip to Duskwood, which is truly the optimal zone at this level range. Duskwood has a lot of quests that all run together quite nicely if you start at level 21 or 22, but you will hit gaps in questing if you go there at 19. When designing the human zones, Blizzard expected you to alternate between Duskwood and Redridge, and you do not want to set foot in Redridge except perhaps just to get the flight point.
Stonetalon Mountains is also in this level range, however the questing for Alliance is minimal and directly associated with Ashenvale. As such, we will also be venturing into Stonetalon for one quick trip and considering it an extension of Ashenvale.
And that leaves Wetlands. Wetlands is a perfectly good zone. I just don't like it. Nonetheless, if you decide you don't want to go to Ashenvale - and if you play on a PvP server, I can't blame you at all - go to Wetlands for a while before heading down to Duskwood. You should be able to hit up the crocolisk and murloc quests, then the easier excavation site and orc quests, and have most of the ground covered that you need to.
Your first trip into Ashenvale is a long one.
The quests we care about right now are The Tower of Althalaxx, Bathran's Hair (requires level 20), The Zoram Strand, and Raene's Cleansing. Two of those are from Astranaar, and the other two are from Maestra's Post. Incidentally, we'll be starting from Maestra's Post, so head down the road to the west, as it turns north down a big hill, and grab the quests there if you haven't already.
Leave Maestra's to the north, where a large number of Dark Strand Fanatics are hanging out. Approach with caution, and kill one at a time. If you find yourself fighting a warlock with a voidwalker pet, kill the owner and then consider simply running from the pet. The drop rate is low, but eventually you will get a Glowing Soul Gem from one of them, which means you are free to move on.
Warlocks: This area is the Ruins of Ordil'Aran, where you will be instructed to head for your succubus quest at level 20. The item you need is by the tall tree along the east wall in the center of the area.
Continue north into Bathran's Haunt. This area is inhabited by Forsaken, and there are Bathran's Hair on the ground that look like small clumps somewhere between a small haystack and a brown bag. They show on your mini-map if you are an herbalist. Grab 5, watching out for the two-man patrols, and cross the road to the west to head out to the shoreline. But if you need to break or hit a vendor, you'd want to do that now.
There isn't much shoreline in Ashenvale, but the beach that is here, called the Zoram Strand, is teeming with naga. You have a quest to kill 20 naga and loot their heads, but there is a second task to do here along the way. Once you reach the beach's edge, go south along the grass. There is a small encampment with a Night Elf named Talen there. (Or his corpse will be. Ashenvale is the only place I ever see Horde consistently killing questgivers.) Talen wants you to find the statuette that was left in his shipwreck further north up the beach. Do not go any further south or you will hit a Horde outpost. Instead move northward from naga to naga. Eventually along the water's edge will be a boat by some minor ruins, guarded by 2 or 3 naga. The statue is on the ground here.
Note for those who care: the larger ruins here, away from the water, are Blackfathom Deeps, an instance that you can reach by jumping into the hole in the square building in the back and diving under the water. As Alliance, it's unlikely you will want to go there, but there are a couple quests out of Auberdine and Darnassus for it, as well as one from the warlock trainer in Ironforge.
After grabbing the statuette and collecting your fishheads, return to Talen. He will have a follow-up quest if you care to wait for it, but it's not a very doable quest at 20, so it's not worth worrying about. Head in-land and turn south. In the southwest corner of the northwest part of the map...er, that is, due west of Maestra's Post...is Lake Falathim. Lake Falathim is a mildly annoying spot guarded by murlocs, that unfortunately guard the start of the biggest quest chain in the zone. Approach this area with caution. There are mobs under the water, and there is a very slow patrol. As long as you keep in mind that murlocs run, use tab-targeting to find the mobs you don't see, and don't begin any fights you aren't prepared for, the area isn't too bad, but it can be hell if you don't. Especially since after you finally reach Teronis' corpse on the island in the center of the lake (which is more of a pond, really,) one of the murlocs is holding the quest item you will need. The drop rate is not especially good, and you're probably out of inventory space already, but suck it up and finish this one unless you want to make another trip out here.
When you finally acquire the Glowing Gem, run back to Maestra's Post and then Astranaar. Warlocks should feel free to fly back to Ratchet to finish their Succubus quest.
Take a glance at the Ashenvale zone map. In the south wall, west of Mystral Lake is a tunnel that leads clear into the next zone. The Talondeep Path will be our next stop, heading into Stonetalon Mountains to clear out the three quests we have there. This will be our only trip to Stonetalon for the time being.
The creatures in your way as you approach the tunnel will be level 22-23, so it's your choice to clear or to avoid, but do not fight the stags unless you can remove curses. Fortunately there should be nothing *in* the tunnel, so once you get there, it's a clear run into Stonetalon.
Here's the Stonetalon map:
You will be in the northeast portion of Windshear Crag. You need to cross to the other end of it, but use the eyes in the back of your head as you do. There are lots of creatures all over hiding behind the local scenery. Do try to kill any wyverns you see. The spiders and wyverns will be at the two corners of the area, with nothing but goblins and other Venture Co. staff in-between.
In the southwest corner of Windshear Crag is a goblin house, and inside is Ziz Fizziks who has a quest. Continue south toward the road and circle around to the ridge above his house to find Kaela Shadowspear and her gnome friend, Gaxim Rustfizzle. Gaxim has another task for you.
With both quests in hand, head back into Windshear Crag. Wander about aimlessly, killing loggers and deforesters, and if you come across any Venture Co. Operators, kill them too. The operators will drop the plans for the Super Reaper quest from Ziz, and while there are a bunch on the defunct reaper toward the entrance of Windshear Crag, you will find them in other areas where there appears to be anything man-, er, well, goblin-made. Stay away from the buildings and the mine in the southeast.
When you are finished, head to the western-most point in Windshear Crag. High in the hills is a vendor named Veenix. Use him to sell off. You'll need the space. Then go back south toward Ziz and Gaxim and finish your quests. Both will give you follow-up quests, and we will actually do those follow-ups even though they leave the zone. Just not right now.
If you do not have the flight point for Stormwind as suggested in the prologue, you should go to Ratchet now, get the flight point there and complete the quest, hop the boat to Booty Bay and get that flight point quickly, and then return to where you are now. This will save you a trip running completely across Stranglethorn Vale later.
Venture northwest to Mirkfallon Lake. Around the southeast portion of the lake are wyvern nests. There is a small crag that is circled by them, and another to the west of the road. There are other wyverns, but unless you're really pressed for targets by competition, stick to these two spots since they are mostly level 22. Poison aside, they're pretty easy kills.
Finally, continue the journey north out of the lake area, and up the winding path to Stonetalon Peak. Stick to the road and go north at the end; lots of annoying creatures linger in the side areas that we have no business dealing with. Talk to Keeper Albagorm and you will get a quest we will do NO time soon. A guide only concerned with pure brute leveling would probably tell you not to even pick it up or to come here, but there are reasons to take Reclaiming the Charred Vale.
More importantly, however, get the flight point here. This is often considered the least important flight path in the game, however we will make use of it at least one time, so don't ignore it while you're here. Afterwards, you can return to Astranaar.
Fortunately, this trip is much shorter.
When you returned to town with the cure from Bathran's Hair, the father administered the cure, and then offered another quest about 15 seconds later. It's quite likely you missed it, but you need to go get that quest.
Leave Astranaar east, and look for a small path to the north just in front of a stream. Follow it, passing by Iris Lake, into Thistlefur Village. Carefully move between the camps looking for Dal Bloodclaw. He roams the whole village, but he's easy to spot since he's blue. You do NOT need to head up the path that goes into the den. These mobs are slightly above level, so it goes without saying you need to be cautious.
Return to the path you came in on, until you reach Iris Lake once more. On the island at the center of the lake are the orbs you need for the follow-up quest for the sick child. Grab one and return to the road.
Your last order of business leads you further east, about halfway to the road that leaves the zone to the north. (Refer to the map at the top of the guide.) Our goal is to reach the area to the north marked "Moonwell". There isn't much of a path to reaching the moonwell, but there are a few ruins right at the start of a clearing on the left side of the road lined with lanterns that leads straight back to the moonwell. I'm not big on coordinates, but since those descriptions aren't very exact, the moonwell is at (54,46), and you will approach it slightly from the west. A dryad there named Shael'dryn continues the Raene's Cleansing line. She sends us off on another errand that we'll do much later on, but remember where this moonwell is.
Return to town, either on foot or using your stone.
Following the Elune's Tear quest, the father will once more pause for a while to tend to his daughter and then give you another quest. Do not leave without this quest, The Ruins of Stardust. Head out of Astranaar by way of the east exit and then go immediately south to the area by the same name. Move slowly through the ruins. Adds are all over. But the glowing bushes on the island have the quest items you need.
Shamans: The small pavilion in the center of the island with the tiny fountain is where you will need to right-click your bota bag.
Leave the area as though you were running back to town, but hook a left and turn west. (There is no west exit from the Ruins themselves.) As you progress to the west, you will reach a hazy demon-filled area called Fire Scar Shrine. Ikrud Magthrull is here, although it might be tricky finding him. The area loops around a central hill, and if you aren't watching for the path that leads up onto that hill where he is, it's very easy to clear your way completely through Fire Scar Shrine and never see Ikrud.
Regarding fighting Ikrud himself, though, he summons pets including the succubus he starts with, and may be difficult to fight and survive, depending on your class. He will not, however, be difficult to kill. Clear around him thoroughly, and then focus on bringing him down rather than dealing with his minions, and then maybe try to survive if you're able to. If you die, just run back and loot him. This step is for the next leg of The Tower of Althalaxx, so if you don't have that quest, you could skip all this pain. Remember that the Althalaxx series goes to Maestra's Post to turn in. And you can go do that now.
We will eventually return to Ashenvale, so don't drop all the quests you've got for here. However, we have other goals for now, since most of the other Ashenvale quests are a nuisance. Shamans will want to return their Call of Water quest now if they haven't already.
We will conclude this act by traveling to Duskwood.
If you have the Stormwind flight point:
We have a quest in Ratchet to do. Head down the road in Ashenvale, and take the southern split to the Barrens. When you reach the rampart at the zone edge, be sure to take the LEFT (east) portion of the wall, which is unguarded. Ratchet is east and a little south of the Crossroads, which is a bit of a hike, but we want to make this trip for future purposes. Be careful to avoid contact on a PvP server. When you get to Ratchet, be sure to find the flight point to spare yourself this trip in the future, and then find Sputtervalve. We won't be returning to Ziz right now, but at least you can finish up this portion of the quest. Take the boat at Ratchet to Booty Bay. The flight point in BB is at the very top of the town back by the top floor of the inn. Fly directly from Booty Bay to Stormwind.
If you do NOT have the Stormwind flight point:
You should have already completed the quest in Ratchet and grabbed the flight points there and in Booty Bay. Fly to Auberdine and take the boat there to Stormwind Harbor.
But either way, get to Stormwind.
In the mage quarter in Stormwind, you will find Mauren for the first of Gaxim's quests. Talk to him, but don't bother grabbing the follow-up. We don't care to be tracking down dust devils in Westfall. Do, however, get his other quest.
Then hop on a bird or a tram and go to Ironforge. The other of Gaxim's friends is right where you come out of the tram entrance, and will give you an alchemy-based quest. If you're an alchemist or can find the potions at a reasonable price, feel free to do the quest. You will, after all, be going to the Auction House now anyway, as will be explained in Act 4.