Friday, April 20, 2012

Preparing for the new Expansion

Blizzard: Pandaren to their customers.
So, I image there are a few of you out there that have never played when a new expansion hit. Even for those of us who have, there are still things to recall from last time and prepare for this time. If you're interested in racing to realm or world firsts, you'll need a very different approach than if you're taking it all at a more mellow pace.

Things to Remember

All current gear is going to be worthless by level 90. This does not mean getting gear now won't help you later, just that it won't be worth as much as if there wasn't an expansion looming. What gearing up alts to Raid Finder levels will do is speed up your leveling, and allow you to queue for leveling dungeons right away. When Cataclysm hit, chain-dungeons were much faster XP than questing, simply due to the sheer number of people who were competing for your spawns. Around level 82-83, the crowds thinned out, making questing more effecting than chain-dungeoning. Mists of Pandaria may be different, but I doubt it. Launch day crowds will likely be as thick as ever.

There will be a lot of new alts around in the weeks and months following launch. There's a new race and a new class, and many people will make one of both. This means that leveling good like bags, glyphs, profession skill-up mats, heirloom item enchants, and maybe twink gear will all see a surge in demand. Monks use leather, so expect demand for leather BoEs to remain high after launch longer than other armor types.

Dungeons and raids will be hard again, (like they are every expansion.)  Almost nobody is going to know the strategies for your leveling dungeons, and when you get to max, still nobody is going to know the strategies for your heroic dungeons. That said, if you get to cap early enough, you'll probably find yourself in excellent groups. I recall pugging into multiple 4/5 Bane of the Fallen King and the Light of Dawn groups. Expect to run into a lot of Saviours of Azeroth in pugs if you get to max in the first couple days. Despite this, dungeons will be hard because absolutely no one will over-gear them. From there, the dungeons will get worse before they get better. Just as the elite are figuring out the fight mechanics, the flood of slower levelers will show up. As you move out of dungeons and into raids, expect normal mode to be a bit of a wake-up call; it won't be nerfed by 15% like it is now, and you won't have all or most of the gear from it.

Current trade mats will change to moderate prices. Very expensive items, like Essence of Destruction, Maelstrom Crystals, Rare gems and Epic gems will likely fall in price dramatically, and stay down permanently. Very cheap items that will be used to level professions through the 450-525 range will likely raise very high in value a few weeks after MoP launches - when the Monks and pandas all get to level 80 or so. After that, those items will probably settle out higher than they are now, but not by a lot. Items I expect to rise include common Cata ores, low-level inks, Cata leather, common Cata herbs, and volatiles. You may be able to turn a profit buying these cheaply now and selling them later.

Things to Prepare

If you're planning to race for a first level 90 (or your guild leadership scheduled a raid for Tuesday night >.>), remember that you won't be the only one rushing to cap. People will have planned out well in advance which quests and dungeons to do or skip on the way to 90. If you don't hop on the beta and do the same, you'll be at a disadvantage. Aside from planning your route, you should prepare your character so you won't be slowed down. Cleaning out your bags and bank now will save you time later when your time is more precious. You could also consider stocking up on flasks and buff food if you're really serious about it. On PvP servers, you can hire bodyguards to gank enemy players competing for your quest targets, and protect you from griefers.

If you're not racing to cap, there are two different things you could do to make your launch experience more pleasant. A lot of what I put in the "things to remember" section were about the massive crowds of players on the first couple days. On of the biggest things you can do to make your leveling experience more pleasant is to either get ahead of the crowd or wait a couple weeks to level to 90 and roll a panda or Monk alt instead. While I expect there to be a ton of panda alts by the end of the first week, on the first day on the other hand, I expect the newbie zones to be much emptier than the level 85-86 leveling zone. If you're not rushing to max, I strongly recommend not trying to level through the crowd of players though; it's downright unpleasant. I would however go check it out. It's quite a sight seeing swarms of players rolling across the zone like locusts, devouring all the mobs in their way.

The other philosophy I can offer to more casual players is this: now is a prime time to become filthy rich. Hardcore raiders will pay an arm and a leg for MoP enchants, food, flasks and BoE crafted gear. Hardcore traders will pay an arm and a leg for trade skill-up mats. If you can provide either of those to them, you stand to make an absurd amount of money. Consider learning two of Skinning/Mining/Herbalism on the character you'll level to 90 first. If you already have a lot of gold, you might take an interest in getting one of your crafting professions up quickly. The mats may be pricey, but if you can be the first person on your server to sell a particular gem cut, or enchant, or flask, then expect the hardcore raiders to be lining up to give you their money.

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