Welcome back, and I hope you had a great New Year's Day. I have gotten my workload at work back to manageable, although there will be some long hours in the front of January to keep on top of it all. I'm not complaining as I'm well ahead of my pace last year which led to stress all year long. But that's neither here nor there. I initially took the new Looking For Group interface as I always do, which is beat the crap out of playing the game with Ekat and then eventually come around to the other characters. Ekaterinae zoomed right up to three pieces of tier 9 and a couple new triumph badge rings as well as over 50 frost emblems in a hurry by doing the daily heroic. However, running out of triumph badge purchases (I have maybe 3 more upgrades I can make) and the slow grind for frost badges has me turning back to my main goal before Cataclysm, which is to level the team ASAP. Well one problem is I never really want to sit and quest, especially because I have to learn cat form on Arielae or Enhancement on Clarissae. But then I'm not prepared when I jump into a rare instance. But now that all has changed.
So this weekend I dusted off each of the healer alts and queued them up. It had been a long time since we cleared out the rested time, and it usually takes a long time now to clear even 2 of the rested time bars. However, Arielae goes to SM's graveyard a few times, Biancae goes to SM's library a few times, and Clarissae shows up in a Gnomeregan run where we actually cleared the place like a machine. Sure, there were ups and downs because each was geared and spec'd not to heal, but each did an admirable job once I got my healing legs underneath me. Admittedly it is not that hard with only 2-3 healing spells, but you have to be real careful with mana which is something I pretty much ignore on Ekat now. So now it appears totally possible after burning through rested time on all three that I will be able to reach my goals by abusing the LFG system with toons other than Ekat from now on. I will still try and collect my frost badges, but I'm not much of a raider and that will not be changing.
A quick recap. Arielae is totally talented Feral, and she has three healing spells. One of these is a HoT, which I hear is the big deal for druid healing. This turns out to be true as she is much more mana efficient when she does not have to use one of the big heals. The first run she went on the tank picked up way more than she could handle and ended up dropping group after complaining about not getting heals (while I was drinking after the pull!). While I was a bit offput by this, I tried again and had much better success with a tank that did not pull lots of mobs at once. In fact, I went to another instance beyond rested time and got my first Uldaman experience. I now have a couple of healing pieces waiting for me to ding 38 and 40, and some other healing gear I've picked up to make things tons better. I actually regenerate mana now! Arielae sits well over halfway through level 37, dinging twice on the weekend.
Biancae found a bit of help in an Illuminati guildie of all places. You see, someone I'd never seen before in the guild was asking for money alliance side in trade for money horde side, because they have an 80 mage and an 80 priest on Horde. As it turns out, I've had to beg my one friend who plays Horde for netherweave bags and have struggled to build up 5-6 gold. So I jumped on the opportunity and we may do more trades in the future...but Biancae finally has over 100 gold and little bit of breathing room. Her experiences were all in Graveyard and most were as DPS (she's still talented Retribution and apparently we're not as hard up for healers Horde-side). I actually like the melee DPS on her so I don't have any problem doing that for now, especially with only 2 healing spells and of course the major cooldown heals. Biancae also dinged twice over the weekend to hit 31 and got another major help from my new Horde-Alliance leveling business partner by getting a port to Dalaran. Now she can jump around the world a lot easier than before.
Clarissae currently has three healing spells, but one of them is Gift of the Naaru which is on a 3 minute CD. Nevertheless, at this level it is very nice to have a HoT available. She also struggled a bit with the mana in Gnomeregan, but the tank was god and realized the problems I was having since I was building up some intellect-type gear. She has some more work to do on that front, but I never felt completely helpless which is good. After the run I respec'd her over to Resto and need to figure out the water and fire totem quests to have access to more totems. she also dinged once up to 26 and is within a few mobs of 27 if I remember correctly.
So that's where the team is. I believe I will continue to grind off rested time on Navar so that I can get the plate heirlooms over to Biancae so she can move even faster. He's grinded past the ding 76 and is trucking along now mostly in Violet Hold. While I was beginning to wonder if I would ever play these others enough to get them towards endgame, now I just want rested time to build up ASAP so I can get them in there more!
Also two questions come to mind, one of which I titled the article by and may get into more detail on later. First, should I take the plunge and respec to Holy and Resto now that it's clear I can level while healing instances? I really have no need for questing except for maybe gold, but Ekat has a nice business going for that. I guess the real question is whether questing is now obsolete for me and other leveling characters like me. It seems so much faster to just jump in a queue and get going on bosses, plus the game is more fun that way. Perhaps if I hit a really bad instance I'll go questing for a while, but when Gnomeregan is fun...is anything possible? I think maybe questing becomes obsolete, which means I can respec to my Holy and Resto without being terribly slow at leveling.
Also just noticed that Lunar Festival got moved from this part of January back into February. Plus Love is in the Air will run for 2 full weeks, the second week at the same time as Lunar. So we'll have a bit more time to focus on Icecrown or leveling or whatever before we get back to the achievement hunting on Navar. Welcome 2010!