So – one of my ALT-er-ego’s is a Tauren Shaman. He started life as a 10-19 battlegrounds twink on Thorium Brotherhood (US) way, way back when that server first launched. Back then, his name was “Remember” and he was my first attempt at leveling – or PvPing with a shaman.
Well, a lot of time went by and for much of it, Remember was played little. I managed to get him up to “Grunt” rank in the old PvP ranking system before it was shelved (the equivalent of a Corporal for you Alliance folk) and he had decent gear for a level 19 battleground brat. I enjoyed PvPing with Remember – but was burnt out from getting my main into the officer ranks. As a result, Remember spent more time cooling his heels than tossing out heals.
Ultimately, Remember became one of my support alts – a well geared bank that could gather herbs and brew speed potions for my other characters. In time I finally decided that my other toons had more to benefit from Remember’s alchemy skill growing than I did by having (yet another) semi-twinked level 19 in my stable. So – with a resigned sigh, Remember headed back out to the barrens – hit level 20 in about an hour – and promptly got shelved for several months.
Now – over a year later – enter a new server – and a forced name change.
Remember is now Skychaser on Moon Guard. I rerolled over there a while back and hooked up with a guild full of alting battlegrounds geeks like myself. Having a good time with this new crew, I decided to bring my old potion maker over from Thorium Brotherhood in order to shill pots for my current toons and guildies alike. Eventually – out of a desire to learn more about the Shaman class and to try something new, I leveled Skychaser/Remember to 29 and camped battlegrounds again until I snagged my usual belt, boots and baubles from Arathi Basin and Warsong Gulch. I enjoyed pvping with the shaman at 29 – but the road had been hard. Worse, in PvE, I always felt that soloing with the big white Tauren had proven tedious and awkward. Skychaser ended up dead a lot and I spent a lot of time reading forums and trying to understand why this once formidable class was so hard for me to wrap my head around.
Finding few answers other than the angst over on the official Shaman forums about how massively the class had been nerfed – I finally turned to instances and grouping. Now – by nature – I’m a solo player. I love instances and love raiding – but rarely have time or patience to endure the endless waiting for pug groups to form, or the disastrous outcomes that most pugs seem to enable. The new guild had good people in it though and I managed to hook Sky’ up to various low level runs through several instances. What I learned while doing this, was that while I felt like four-thumbed failure in solo-PvE and PvP, I felt like a small gawd in group play.
Running Skychaser through instances was a revelation in rediscovering the strength of hybrid classes in group play. He could tank, he could dps, he could heal and cleanse. Groups that were having problems with an instance immediately seem to find a greater deal of success with the shaman in tow. His totems provided low cost healing and mana – gave supportive buffs or purged negative spell effects. When things went pear-shaped his ability to rez or (better yet) self-rez after a wipe extended his value in groups from “spare war-stomp with h33ls” to “invaluable multi-function tool.”
Intrigued with the class – I broke out of the 20-29 bracket and discovered Windfury. While still suffering from a past nerf, quintessential Shaman melee trait was the fuel I needed to propel Skychaser through the long and still somewhat awkward climb through the 30’s. Sky’ was still having to work for his levels – but the additional melee prowess was noticeable and appreciated. Somewhere after level 35 though – and finally being able to advance his capped alchemy skill – Sky’ stalled and his progress lagged. Quests in the 30’s seemed to be harder to find – the task of leveling easier – but still arduous for the enhancement Shammy. I started to wonder if he was doomed to be a cast-off potion maker forever.
Then 2.3 hit.
With higher experience for kills and quests as well as easier leveling, post 2.3 Azeroth is likely to become the saving grace of stalled alts everywhere. In an afternoon of questing in STV, Skychaser saw level 36 come and go in a blink. Later in the same week, questing in Desolace and a run through Scarlet Monestary’s Library and Armory wings brought 37 and 38 in rapid succession. A few odd clean up quests and a daily battleground quest or two and suddenly 39 was attained. Shocked with how fast the last 4 levels had come I took time at 39 to dive back into Arathi Basin. Again – Skychaser proved a revelation in the battlegrounds. A well geared 39 – the vigor and force of his windfury crits – the speed of his improved ghost wolf – and the versatility of his heals, totems, and purge ability put Sky at the top of charts in game after game. In one long evening of back to back play – he collected over 50 tokens and became the focus fire target of every alliance group that he crossed paths with.
Last night, with my 30-39 battlegrounds aspirations complete, I left Arathi Basin and headed off to Duskwallow Marsh. Starting two bars into 39 – I muddled my way around from quest giver to quest giver in the refreshed zone. I took my time to discover these new adventures and to farm herbs. Before I realized it, I had cleared out the first half of my quests in the zone and rather unexpectedy watched Skychaser disappear in a flourish of golden light as he dinged 40.
Holy cats that was fast.
A quick trip back to Thunderbluff allowed Sky’ to train. Packing stormstrike now – and an amazing chain-heal ability, the one time potions alt is now quickly becoming a favored main. I still have a lot of work to do with this toon, after all, there is a mount to buy, rep to gain and 30 more levels to discover. But I’m excited about leveling him, confident I can get him to outlands, and eager to see the world through his eyes while in the game.
I can safely that the leveling changes of 2.3 are going to provide a new lease on life for stalled alts. For all the raiding guilds trying to replace lost healers and tanks by slowly leveling alts on the side – they now have hope of actually bringing some of these toons into play in reasonable time. It’s going to be easier to move from bracket to bracket in the PvP arena – perhaps creating a bit more life in some of the less played battlegrounds. All in all – I have to rate the leveling change in 2.3 as my mvp – (most valuable patch.) Time for many gamers is sparse and the ability to fill what hours we *do* have with achievable and entertaining goals is by far the best bang for the buck I can hope for.