Monday, August 22, 2016

WoW Weekly: That's a Wrap

The shot above is one I didn't imagine seeing on my own login screen. Prior to this weekend, the top six characters sat at max level, most of them decently geared due to Heroic HFC alt runs and the occasional LFR. So last week when it was announced that XP gains for completing invasion stages had been massively nerfed, I abandoned any dreams of having a full roster of max-level characters.

Then, the weekend came early: I decided to take Friday off from work in order to check off some to-dos that had been on the list for too long. Right before heading out to run errands, I saw some interesting chatter on Twitter indicating that invasion mob XP had been hotfixed in the players' favor: experience from shared non-boss kills would be more rewarding, and there were massive amounts of XP to be had from the various bosses (skulls & named) across the map.

Long story short, I spent the better part of Friday and Saturday night (my sometimes-idea of the perfect weekend) working on alts 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12. Most of these characters were sitting between 90 and 93, though one began this journey at 80 and another at 84. It didn't take much time at all---roughly an hour played-sans-prep per character---to level from 90 to 100. As of right now, players have about a week left before Legion launches and the deluge of XP will cease. Below, I'll describe the method I used.

Legion Invasion Power-leveling Tips

In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that I began this journey with a bit of an advantage: gold. Gold made it so that every single one of my characters could be in the best shape possible when it came to XP gains: in addition to being max-rested, they all had full heirlooms and access to the most lucrative leveling potion: Elixir of the Rapid Mind.


You'll need to dust off those old heirlooms for these fights. Ideally, you'll have the helm, shoulder, cloak, chest, legs and ring slots covered. This will give you a +50% bonus to experience gains. You may find additional heirlooms to be an overall power increase for your character, and that's fine---they just don't actually give a bonus to experience. Remember, heirlooms can be upgraded to function up to level 100 through a token purchased from a vendor found in Undercity.

Mandatory Potions

There are two potions you should have in your possession before you start on this journey; both are relatively simple to get. 

The first, Excess Potion of Accelerated Learning, can be purchased from your Garrison Quartermaster for 100 Garrison Resources. This provides a 20% boost to experience gains and lasts for an hour. Most players should have a garrison and plenty of resources left over to make this happen. However, I did mention two of my characters started sub-90, meaning they hadn't yet set foot on Draenor. So did I spend the time to establish my garrison once they hit 90? I did. 

Here's why: it's easy. I'm not sure it's worth it, as I haven't done the math, but it's easy. Remember, you can completely skip the Tanaan Intro by porting to Gorgrond from the Timeless Isle. Alternatively, a mage port to Warspear and a quick flight to your garrison area will also do the trick. Once there, a half-dozen short quests (about 10 minutes) end with you seeing the construction of your garrison; when it's all over, you'll be left with 105 garrison resources---just enough to buy one potion.* The one catch: you must be level 91 to purchase said potion, so I waited until each character was 91 to set up their garrison.

Most importantly, you need a few Elixirs of the Rapid Mind, but this one's going to cost you. And here you thought all that Warlords gold was for pets and sniping items off the Black Market Auction House! There was a good amount of elixirs on my server's auction house at the start of the weekend; by Sunday night, the supply was but a fraction of the original count, and the price had gone up 50%. These potions will give a 300% boost to experience gains, but the catch is they last a trifling 15 minutes. Across the six characters, I probably purchased just under two-dozen, which amounted to roughly 250,000g. So there is a bit of investment in this method, but I feel no regret and only need to scroll up to the header image for a reminder that I made the right choice. 

*If you are using 300% elixirs in addition to the 20% potion, you should reach level 100 before you need another 20% potion.

Choosing Your Invasion Point

In my opinion, there are four invasion points that are the most attractive to attack, two per faction. For Horde players, these are Azshara and Northern Barrens; for Alliance, it's Dun Morogh and Westfall. It's mainly because they're near faction capital cities: this provides quick travel to invasion sites, and also somewhat guarantees that a large factional force will be present. The latter point is more important on PvP servers, of course, as it means you'll in theory spend less time getting ganked as a lowbie. If you can, ask in general if there's a raid group to join, or start your own. I found it's much easier to become a healer's target when in-group, which can aid in death prevention.

Invasion Strat & Potion Use

Your first order of business is to survive. Yes, you'll be fighting and tagging stuff, and may have to be wary of the opposing faction, but if you're dead you cannot take advantage of all that XP (aside from phase transitions, which I'll touch on below)! There's nothing like having a 470% XP boost---both pots, heirlooms, rested---only to watch all three Phase 2 bosses die while you're a ghost in the graveyard.

Secondly, you'll want to tag everything that you can, especially in Phase 1; the bigger mobs tend to give more XP, with the named bosses and skulls found across the map providing the greatest time spent per XP gained. You'll see in Phase 3 that there's a predictable flow to how/when bosses will appear across the map. It's another big reason why I chose the zones I did in the previous section.

In terms of potion use, I use the 20% when entering the very first invasion of the day, waiting to pop the 300% until just before Phase 1 ends. This way I'm not losing too much potential XP in Phase 1 if the mobs are too scattered or if I'm slow, but still allows me to take advantage of the boost when awarded XP at the phase transition. The potion will be up for all of the Phase 3 zone bosses and will provide bonus XP at the transition to Phase 4. If you do this successfully, you should only need three 300% potions---four at most---on the journey from 90 to 100.

But I'm getting ahead of myself, because this is where you're going to reset the invasion.

Invasion Resets

As we all know, invasions currently rotate on a two hour timer. However, what people may not know is that these invasions can be run as many times in that two hour window as a player wants so long as they don't kill the Phase 4 boss.

Since the meat of the XP gains are found via killing bosses in Phases 2 and 3, the idea is to spend as much time in those phases while under the influence of XP boosts. If you log your character out after Phase 4 begins, and then log back in, the invasion will reset and most times will start you somewhere in Phase 1---a handful of times it started me out in Phase 2. Granted, you only earn phase change XP and chests the first time through a specific invasion, but you're not in this for gear, and the XP to be had by repeating Phases 2 and 3 in quick succession absolutely dwarfs what you'd see if you simply went around completing fresh invasions. Not to mention travel time is a huge waste of a 15,000g potion that lasts for 15 minutes.

General Tips

Live to fight again - can't stress this enough: don't die. There are several graveyards that do not act like a PvP graveyard, i.e., you'll have to run back to your corpse in order to resurrect. And let me tell you, these graveyards are not conveniently placed. In almost every instance this happened to me, the boss I was fighting was long dead once I finally got back to my body, meaning I missed out on roughly 1/3 of a level of XP.

Re-potting - You should reach level 100 prior to your 20% XP potion running out. However, you'll have to reapply the 300% potion up to three times; like the first application, I've found it best to apply it right before Phase 2; however, if you find yourself in an unusually long Phase 3 and a couple of boss kills might fall outside of the buff window, it might be best to reapply then. That's your call.

Tagging - You only need to hit a mob once to get its XP; however, don't stray too far away when you're tagging. I learned you can be too far away from a tagged mob in order to benefit from its XP. Again, don't get too zealous as much as you want to practice your rotation. Being alive when that tagged boss falls is the ultimate goal.

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