Sapphire breaks 40th level

4th August 2008 – 8.05 am

Having recently mused about getting my neglected tank in World of Warcraft levelled up quickly so that I can enter the Outlands I logged in to see what I could do. I was concerned about running through the same content yet again, particularly as I had neglected Sapphire because of the over-familiarity of the content before me. I found myself in Stormwind, with just one item in my mailbox. It had been quite a while since leaving that spot, and I was sure anything mailed to me would have been acquired by the post office, so I was intrigued by what could have been sent to me. It turns out to be a message from the Elekk trainer pointing out that I am now eligible for riding lessons, despite not being 40th level yet. That's good to know, but I wasn't travelling back to the Exodar just yet, as I was only on for a short while and was more keen to get some levelling accomplished.

Examining the contents of my bags shows me all the items I had previously rescued from my mailbox, knowing that I might not be back for a while, so it is after a quick trip to the auction house that I start working out where it would be best to go for some quick experience point gains. My quest log points me to Arathi Highlands as the closest place with a few quests that could be completed quickly, so I jog over to the Stormwind flight master. And then I go AFK for ten minutes, as my gryphon takes me passively north. This is a barrier I hadn't experienced in a while, as both City of Villains and EVE Online don't seem to have the problem of needing me to return to a central zone regularly that then requires significant travel time to get back to the action. I suppose World of Warcraft has lessened this problem a little with Shattrath in the Outlands, but the cities in Azeroth become increasingly further away from quest zones with level.

With the gryphon flight over, I jog to where my current quests can be completed, adding a bit more time wasted. I get in to battle and fight through Stromgarde Keep to get the head of Marez Cowl, who is hiding behind a house. The hiding place is one that has been set up since I completed the quest with other characters, years ago, so takes enough finding that I no longer have time to head in to the main building for the other bounties. All I have time left to do is run back to Refuge Point to hand the head in, then use my hearthstone to take me back to the Exodar where I rest in the inn, ready to get riding lessons the next time I log in. I entered Azeroth about half-way through 38th level, and end it having made little apparent progress. This is not a good start to trying to get twenty quick levels, and is a little disheartening.

The quick levelling doesn't progress in the next session either, as I head from the Exodar down to Thousand Needles and ride through the Shimmering Flats on to Gadetzan. I pick up a few lower level quests at the Mirage Raceway and start on them to get some quick experience gains whilst easing myself back in to the abilities of the warrior. I end up the second short session picking up the flight point at Gadgetzan before resting in its inn, still only 38th level. It feels like getting to the Outlands will be a long slog. Still, part of the malaise that I had previously felt was likely caused by running the content almost side-by-side with my rogue. With Knifey now in the Outlands and Sapphire twenty levels behind him there looks to be enough of a gap not to feel fatigued immediately from repeating quests.

The weekend sees me running around the Shimmering Flats with more dedicated time, and it's not long before 39th level finally greets me. It still doesn't seem like much progress, considering how long it seemed to take to gain less than half a level, but that meant gaining the level seemed like an accomplishment. Getting more in to the swing of things I complete quests in the Shimmering flats and get sent to Stranglethorn Vale afterwards. Few people seem to like Stranglethorn Vale, and I certainly have bad memories of enough quests there to think twice before returning, but I have a handful of quests to complete there and a high concentration of quests in one area is a good way to pick up quick XP. There are more quests to pick up in Booty Bay, on the southern tip of Stranglethorn Vale, and I decide to try as many as I am comfortable with.

One of the quests I have left from some time back is Kurzen's Mystery, locating troll legends. I may have completed this quest once or twice in the past, despite having many more characters have it in their quest logs at one point. The troll temple where a couple of the legends are are rather too full of mobs, making it difficult to fight in and almost impossible to escape should the need to run present itself. Another of the legends is underwater, and used to be guarded by elite murlocs. Murlocs are nasty at the best of times, worse when fought underwater in their natural habitat, and downright evil when made elite. Luckily, I had a potion of underwater breathing handy, having got fed up of trying to catch my breath whilst fighting, and the murlocs had been demoted to normal mobs. Through luck and judgement I get perilously close to completing the quest, and decide to try to my luck in getting the final legend from inside the heavily populated troll temple. With some cunning, surprisingly dinging 40th level near the entrance, and having a mount on which I can ride out past the respawned mobs, I manage to complete the quest! That was quite positive, and not just because I had gained another level really quite quickly.

I get some training for being 40th level, including being able to wear plate armour. A quick trip to the auction house gets me some upgraded armour and then I'm off again, back to continue my progress quest. More quests are completed for Shimmering Flats folk as well as going back to Stranglethorn Vale and, to my surprise, I reach 41st level. I progress two full levels during the evening's questing, which is a much more positive experience than not making half a level during a couple of shorter sessions. I chewed through plenty of my rested XP bar, but that can be regained. It will still take a while to get ready for the Outlands, but it looks like I could have some fun getting there.

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