I've been quiet lately, but making progress in WoW. Alaurai is 3/4 of the way through level 75. Last night she finished with Dragonblight and moved on to Grizzly Hills. Thank you to Sthenia for helping me complete three difficult group quests in Dragonblight last night!
Even more exciting is the fact that Rakkael is closing in on level 60 and being able to fly. Woohoo! She reached level 59 last night.
Actually Rakkael blew all the way through level 59 in one evening, thanks to Jame's guides and the WoW-Pro add-on - and to some excellent coaching by my friend Orzu. (That's the same evening in which Alaurai also did those three group quests with Sthenia. Such efficiency!)
In the past couple of weeks Orzu has been giving me a lot of terrific advice through the WoW chat. He recommended that I switch my hunters from Beast Mastery to Survival, and the other night he showed me his Survival talent build and let me copy it, and in the beta he showed me where to get a terrific dog.
Orzu has also coached me on what shots and spells to use, and in what order, and convinced me to replace my beautiful elegant cats with big, clumsy-looking, but very useful bears. Ferocity cats are fine against a single enemy, but Tenacity bears are much better tanks and can cope much more effectively with mobs of mobs.
The result of all this help is that Rakkael is easily hammering through the quests suggested by Jame's Horde leveling guide. Last night I soloed a couple of quests in Shadow Hold in Felwood that Jame recommended doing only if I was able to find a group. I just walked into the cave and started killing things. Went all the way to the very bottom of the cave and back again with no problem; never came close to getting killed.
(Orzu, I'm sorry I wasted your time helping me the other night in Shadow Hold! Now I know I could have easily soloed the quests you helped me with. But I still really enjoyed playing with you. Thanks!)
I'm planning to get Alaurai an exotic pet, again thanks to Orzu's advice, and also plan to get one for Rakkael (love those white Devilsaurs!) as soon as she reaches level 69. Orzu says that having an exotic pet makes Beast Mastery a much more effective specialization. But to keep things simple for now, I'll probably stick with Survival most of the time.
It seems like the more I learn about this game, the more there is to learn. Orzu's coaching has led me to look for web sites with info about how to play hunters more effectively. I feel like I'm just scratching the surface.
Oh yes! One last very cool item. The other night I was in Stormwind with Alaurai, getting ready to do that incredible final Dragonblight quest with the King of Stormwind. Someone asked in the trade chat for a mage portal to Dalaran. I offered to fly him to Dalaran on my rocket instead. Turned out he had a lady friend who wanted to go too, and I flew them both.
I'd been planning to offer to do this once I got the ability to fly in Northrend. I'd been thinking that some people might enjoy the trip, even though the flight would take a lot longer than a mage portal, and that I might collect some small tips now and then. But after Blizzard removed the Dalaran and Shattrath portals to major cities in the Cata beta, I'd more or less forgotten about my plan, because access to those cities by lower level toons will become much less worthwhile when Cata arrives.
But while flying these people I realized that, contrary to being a poor man's alternative to a mage portal, a flight on the rocket to Dalaran is actually far more desirable. This is because you gain XP for every area you discover as you ride over it on the rocket. Both of my passengers leveled from 28 to 29 just on the XP gain from the flight!
After I'd gotten them to Dalaran, they asked me if I would fly them around to get the Hallow's End Tricks and Treats achievements. I ended up rocketing both of them to the various inns around Outland - and they both gave me nice tips for this. (They also leveled to 31 on the Outland discovery XP!)
All in all, I made 120 gold for a couple hours' fun, and did the achievement myself at the same time. Also got XP for discovering some areas I hadn't flown over before.
I hope to do more of this kind of thing. I think even after Cata comes and the portals in Dalaran go away, there will still be a lot of opportunities to make gold by giving people rocket rides to various places all over the world, not only for achievements but for access to flight points and other useful locations. And when Rakkael hits 60, I'll be able to do it (in the Old World and Outland) for Horde characters as well.
I think the dawning realization of rocket ride potential as well as my growing understanding of hunter play are good examples of the kind of expansion of possibilities that have and are coming with Patch 4.0.1 and Cataclysm. Also, a lot of things which were small annoyances (such as, for hunters, having to buy ammo and drinks all the time, and not being able to switch pets in the field) are being ironed out, which is making the game overall more fun.
The game is really changing - and the more I learn about them, the more I feel that these changes are (for the most part) very good things.
Thanks again to Orzu and Sthenia for making my WoWing a lot more fun!
PS. Add-on happiness is back. All of my most crucial add-ons which were broken by Patch 4.0.1 are now fixed, including Bartender, TomTom, Auctioneer, and Altoholic. Gatherer and Addon Control Panel never stopped working. QuestHelper is gone, but the WoW-Pro add-on is working so much better for me that I do not miss QH at all.
The only other add-ons I used which are still broken are FlightMap and MapNotes, and, while I miss these, they aren't essential.