Entering Northrend

24th December 2008 – 12.05 pm

I am finally ready to enter Northrend. I know it has been over six weeks since the Wrath of the Lich King expansion was released, and indeed installed on my system, but I've been busy. I tried out the new death knight class and not only found the starting area to be engaging and interesting but the class itself is a lot of fun to play. Abandoning my rogue for the death knight turned out not to be that tough a decision to make, even though it put me a few levels behind the rogue as well as halting progress on my 70th level warrior, if only because the rogue was feeding her materials for her enchanting and jewelcrafting profession choices. By taking up mining and blacksmithing on the death knight I could still feed the materials to my warrior, but that was where the real delay lies.

Even though the death knight starts at 55th level, and rapidly gains a few levels in the starting area, the professions chosen start from scratch. I have spent far more time than I would have liked mining, and not enough of that was spent simply levelling up my mining skill. Too much excess mining was required to develop my blacksmithing skill, to the point where I visited Northrend to gain the grand master mining training so that all the extra mining I had to do for the blacksmithing profession would not go to waste. My skill in mining hit 400 before I was able to become a master swordsmith at blacksmithing 330, which shows the discrepancy in gathering versus crafting.

Finally, after even more mining and some crafting of adamantite cleavers and rapiers, I reach a blacksmithing skill of 350, enough to learn the grand master blacksmith training and I am ready to leave Outlands. I had taken time out from mining to enjoy questing and reached 68th level the previous day, which lets me start picking up Northrend quests. The only drawback is that Gnomesblight, my death knight, used all her resources of adamantite to develop blacksmithing and Sapphire, my warrior, now needs adamantite for jewelcrafting, where her skill still languishes at 335. I will need to return to Outlands to mine more adamantite at some point, which I am planning to do once Gnomesblight is at least 70th level and has her flying mount, making for much more convenient mining sessions.

A bit of adamantite notwithstanding, both Sapphire and Gnomesblight are ready for Northrend! Gnomesblight goes to Howling Fjord to run through the first few quests there, and to wantonly slaughter some wild turkeys for a pointless achievement. Within a couple of quests I have a new two-handed mace that has over 35% more DPS than the Stoneforged Claymore I spent so long mining and crafting to make for myself. I could be bitter, having only used the Stoneforged Claymore for three levels, but I see it as part of the progression. I was able to craft a weapon I could use that was superior to any I had found and my efforts in being able to achieve that should also ensure I will be able to do so again soon. The main problem with the new weapon is that death knights are not trained to use the two-handed mace by the Lich King or his minions and have to learn the skill later on from a weapon master, meaning that their proficiency starts at zero.

I have to agree with Melmoth that weapon skill is a pointless inclusion that adds nothing to character development and only burdens the player. With my new weapon I can do little more than swing and miss for the first hundred or so uses, and that is pretty tedious with only one swing just under every four seconds. Not wanting to get killed whilst 'learning' how to use a two-handed mace I head back to Stormwind to practice on some convicts in the Stockades. I set auto-attack on and go afk for a while, coming back only to change targets. I have enough armour to survive the attacks and the elite mobs have enough hit points to last the occasional lucky attack whilst being low enough level that I will hit them sooner rather than later, making them good targets. Maybe not as good targets as a target dummy, but at least I get some gold from the time spent. The notion of weapon skill may be well-intentioned but all it is achieving at the moment is preventing me from doing anything meaningful before I've raised my skill enough.

In-between questing and weapon training I find a few nodes of cobalt ore, already conning green to me with my mining skill at 417 gained from mining in the Outlands, and am able to make a couple of bits of cobalt armour for Sapphire. Along with using my small stock of khorium ore to make greater runes of warding my blacksmithing skill is pushed up to 360. A few eternium rods will advance that further quite nicely.

As for Sapphire, I prepare for a guild trip in to the Nexus, to get a winter hat, and start adventuring in the Borean Tundra. The early quests offer some decent equipment upgrades that are probably enough to make running the Nexus possible, if slightly awkward for our healer. However, the instance run ends with no boss kills. I suspect we are a little short of DPS, perhaps through inexperience, because Sapphire, still 70th level and protection specced, is top of the damage meter that is shared with a 75th level hunter. Even so, it was fun to tank in an instance for a guild group again and I had great time in my first Northrend dungeon. Now that I am firmly ensconced in Northrend I look forward to some new and exciting adventures and further expeditions in to dangerous dungeons.

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