Dig, death knight, dig

12th January 2011 – 5.37 pm

One archaeological dig and I lose two years' worth of rested XP. I'm sure that can't be right. I wake up my dormant death knight not so much to make myself even busier but to kick-start my Cataclysm professions. Getting my warrior in to Hyjal and adventuring, after sorting out her dual-talent builds, makes me more confident that I can pick up where I left off, despite all the changes. But I realise that her jewelcrafting and enchanting essentially relies on my death knight's mining to feed them. Rather than have her stall, I thought I may as well have Gnomesblight active too.

I also was thinking that my death knight would be the better choice to explore archaeology more fully. Jelica, my new worgen warlock, picked up the skill, but catching gryphons to points spread out over the continent is a little tedious, particularly when they are essentially the budget airline of Azeroth, stopping a long stagecoach ride from your actual destination. Gnomesblight has her own bird, and now that flight is available in the old lands I can go point-to-point as the crow flies, which will be much quicker. Being ignored by the mobs, being fifty levels below me instead of five, is just a bonus.

Before I get to do any of that I need to get my bearings. Gnomesblight is in Dalaran, naturally the place to stay in Northrend, but now the portals are gone and I need a new home. Stormwind is the obvious choice, for being open, central, and a city. I can also catch a ship there from Borean Tundra, which is a short flight away. My first surprise is that I have only the basic death knight flying mount, no others. Indeed, I have the death knight's horse, the flying mount, and the black bear as a reward from killing all of the Horde's leaders, and no other mounts. Sapphire, my warrior, has a veritable menagerie of ground and flying mounts, from all of the factions' basic mounts, to those gained by reputation, and even a heroic dungeon reward. Sapphire aspired to reputation, Gnomesblight did PvP.

Having only one flying mount doesn't really matter, I can still fly. But seeing the crazy gear inflation occurring again with Cataclysm shows that at least Sapphire's reputation building has more tangible benefits, all the mounts and pets remaining with her, whereas Gnomesblight's epic PvP gear will be replaced within a handful of quest completions. Never mind, it's the journey that's important, not the destination, and I certainly enjoyed my battles in Wintergrasp.

Heading down to the coast to catch the ship I take a quick look at my death knight talent options. I notice that the blood talents are now defined as the tanking option, whereas I considered frost to be so before, and frost is now specifically a damage role. Because I could tank and deal damage as a frosty death knight I didn't bother with dual talent builds with Gnomesblight, and I think I'll stick with frost and be happy with my damage build. Sapphire can learn to tank again, and if I get in to the heart of the action I can consider getting a second build for Gnomesblight. And even now I will leave my talent choices for later. I am only planning to take a look around, not commit to anything.

The boat ride ends in Stormwind and I am thrown off my boney bird. Oh, of course, I can't yet fly in Azeroth, I need to throw more gold down the training drain to do that. My first visit is, well, actually, it's to see innkeeper Allison, not wanting to forget to set my hearthstone here and be stuck with returning to Dalaran. Then I go to the flight trainer. With my new flying access to everywhere I can soar above Stormwind—which really is much more impressive than I had imagined it would be—and visit more trainers. I get blacksmith training and mining training, to let me gather and craft the new ores unearthed, quite happy to be reminded that I actually managed to get both skills to their maximum levels before I went on sabbatical.

Another skill I have, but didn't think I needed to train, is runeforging, a death knight skill that lets us forge runes on our weapons to give specific bonuses. I see that my current weapon, a titansteel mace, has the rune of the fallen crusader, but apparently I need a runeforging skill level of 300 for it to be active. Opening up the runeforging pane shows that I only have 1/300 skill, making me worry that I will have to needlessly reforge my weapon 299 times. I also remember that I have a death gate spell, letting me return to the Ebon Hold, the only place where I can reforge my weapon. Now that I have my hearthstone set to Stormwind City, and haven't used it to get here, I quickly open up a gate and wander over to a runeforge. One quick forging later and I have skill 300/300 in runeforging. I suppose changes to the runes' powers necessitated my having to reforge the weapon for the power to be effective, but it was a little unclear from the interface.

Back in Stormwind City I seek out the archaeology trainer. Archaeology is the new skill and, like I mention, I have dabbled briefly. Armed with a flying death knight, I now hope to explore it more fully, although time is brief tonight. Opening up my map shows the regions with dig sites, and it is easy for me to zoom across to them and drop down directly in to the area. It still takes a little while to travel, but I can stop to admire the scenery, particularly in areas hit by cataclysmic changes, and I don't need to run the last two miles. As with Jelica, I activate the surveying equipment, but unlike with Jelica I don't have to guess how to use it, if only because Jelica put in the work for me.

The survey tool points in the direction of the artefact, with a light signifying how close you are to it. Red means you're distant, yellow indicates you're getting closer, and green has you standing almost on top of it. Running off in the direction the tool points and surveying again narrows down the location of the artefact until you dig it up, at which point you can collect it. This can be repeated a few times in each dig site before having to move on to another, and with a flying mount at my disposal I can move swiftly to the next region. I haven't quite got enough artefacts yet to 'solve' whatever it is that can be solved, but I imagine something shiny results. But, for the moment, I am happy flying around and digging up fossils and troll artefacts.

And, somehow, after the first dig the rewarded XP—which is quite generous for a bit of digging—uses up my entire alotment of rested XP. Maybe that's a bug with some characters, maybe it's a bug with archaeology, or a combination of the two. It's unfortunate, and a little disappointing, but hardly a problem. I ought to sort out my frosty talents and rediscover my optimum spell rotation, getting back in to combat, but I am not about to rush headlong in to it now. As such, I have no doubt the rested XP will creep its way back to maximum before I know it, and probably stay there until I reach the new level cap. I have enjoyed the death knight class since its introduction, and I particularly liked the versatility of the class in PvP, being a great mixture of physical and spell damage. Needing to mine ore has encouraged me to get Gnomesblight active again, and now that she is I think I'd like to immerse myself in her world once more. I just hope I have time to juggle all my hats.

  1. 2 Responses to “Dig, death knight, dig”

  2. Archaeology completing the survey missions will award close to or just about as much XP as completing regular quests. Tobold over on his MMO blog reported that in his blog since he had a interest in Archaeology and leveled the skill entirely and almost got his character to 85 by doing just that mostly. So the profession does award a bit of XP. However i have yet to try it myself.

    Was unaware that DK reforging was changed to a skill point system for Cataclysm. I guess you just had to reforge the skill at least once to bring the skill up to bar for Cataclysm. Since i haven't done anything much on my own DK haven't noticed it myself and was unaware.

    Mining wont be that hard to level up if you mine nodes wherever you find them leveling up. I actually got to max skill on it before I was even in the very last zone by just mining wherever i found nodes. New change is that with any profession which includes gathering profession you will gain XP also for gathering or mining nodes as well.

    It won't take long to replace any lvl 80 gear from WotLK era either.

    By Ardent Defender on Jan 12, 2011

  3. Yes, I read about the good XP gains from other blogs, which is part of what made me want to explore it on one of my high-level characters. What I have no found out is that the XP gain is not quest XP, but mob XP. It benefits from rested XP, doubling the gain, but as a result eats through the rested XP. I may not actually end up with a full rested bonus if I go out digging most days.

    I don't know yet if runeforging will require skill point gains, as professions do, and I suspect it won't, particularly as the pointless and grindy weapon skill system has been thankfully abandoned. I suspect the runeforging skill will automatically level with the character.

    I've noticed with my warrior that the few quests she's completed has replaced her gear with far superior items, which is inevitable with the new expansion but disappointing. I may write more about that at some point.

    By pjharvey on Jan 13, 2011

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