Hitting level 80 on Stormshaper was easy. No, really, it was simple. Also, she hit 80 despite doing no quests in Zul Drak, Grizzly Hills or Scholozar Basin. So there are still swathes of Northrend for her to explore still. Nor did she do anything in K3, so the enormous Sons of Hodir quest chain is still to come.
At 78, Halls of Stone opens up for you in the random dungeon feature, and Stormshaper did several runs of this dungeon which added a fair bit of XP as well as getting her a few Relics of Ulduar for the Sons of Hodir rep grind. At 79, Halls of Lightning and Utgarde Pinnacle are available, and the random dungeon feature is where your XP gain goes through the roof.
I continued questing in Icecrown and, at queued in the dungeon finder, teleporting into dungeons when the groups were ready, then when complete, returning. Doing this, the XP required to go from 79 to 80 simply vanished.
As soon as Stormshaper reached 80, I tried to queue in the random heroic and was presented with heroic Utgarde Pinnacle (after running it on normal four times previously). The step up between normal and heroic is huge – especially if you’re in blues – but the group I was in were welcoming and didn’t seem phased that this ‘scrub’ (to use the current parlance) was being ‘carried’ through the dungeon. What a nice, refreshing attitude to see.
In the end, I didn’t finish bottom of the DPS meters. I’m not really a fan of those creations, but it was nice to see that Stormshaper could handle her own in a heroic run. Sadly no gear drops at all. Everything that dropped was plate/tank related – but that’s okay. Gear will come for Stormshaper – it’s just a matter of grinding out the heroics, gathering the emblems of frost and triumph and spending them wisely.
I can’t really compare levelling Stormshaper with my other characters. The game, with the addition of the random dungeon feature and nerfed dungeons is considerably easier now than it was when the expansion first came out. And, remember WoTLK 5 man instances are in turn considerably easier than the 5 man runs in Burning Crusade.
In previous times, you really required a guild so that your character could run instances with so that you could get gear and progress. With the random dungeon feature, this is no longer a requirement, and indeed, I levelled Stormshaper all the way to level 80 without ever joining a guild. Being guildless allowed me to focus entirely on levelling Stormshaper and learning about playing the Shaman class. I can say for absolute certainty being guildless definitely helped me level Stormshaper quicker than being in a guild and having to contend with the myriad distractions that gives you.
I’m not saying being in a guild is bad – it absolutely isn’t – but they can present you with distractions, especially if you join a “social” guild or a guild that’s “fun”. Invariably this means the guild is packed with low level characters who want a “boost” from higher characters. Nothing in it for the higher character, the lower character runs along behind you, as you kill everything before them. You don’t need any of the drops, so they fill their bags with low level greens, cloth and food and they get the boss drops.
I’m all for helping people, but in World of Warcraft today, you don’t need to “boost” anyone. As long as they meet the requirements of the dungeon, they can queue in the random dungeon finder and find a group in next to no time. Sadly, in my experience this isn’t the case. People don’t want to quest to get to level 16 and start running Dead Mines, Blackfathom Deeps, Shadowfang Keep or Wailing Caverns. They want to be dragged through at level 10. This will continue all the way through their levelling process, until you either level them all the way up to an acceptable level, and they then leave the guild, or, they leave the guild as they don’t get their own way.
Stormshaper didn’t have any of these issues to contend with. I basically played a zone until I had done all the quests available, and moved on to the next zone and the next, and the next. The random dungeon feature ensured that I played all the dungeons at the right level. I had some dreadful experiences, but I also had some good laughs.
Now Stormshaper is 80, and I basically have to learn how to play the class all over again.
I have subscribed to a number of shaman forums, blogs and various other sources of valid information so that I can learn from other people’s experiences. I have checked out Stormshaper’s talent trees, and already I can see some things that need to be adjusted, but bearing in mind I was selecting her talents without any reference, I don’t think I did too badly.
This is Stormshaper’s current talent tree spread (16/55/0): http://www.wowhead.com/?talent#hVbhqZhxxIoxdIhuoRuVo
I’m going to adjust the talent tree slightly so that this will be the new talent spread (8/58/0): http://www.wowhead.com/?talent#hV0hZhxxIoxdIhusRuVo
Once I’ve run a couple of heroics with the new talent build, I’ll get a better feel for how much it has increased Stormshaper’s DPS.