Ever wondered what it must be like to level every last character slot on your character select screen to the level cap? It's not unthinkable for players who enjoy devoting a lot of time and energy to the game, but it's not exactly a project most players have the mental stamina to grind through. Shiver in fear, then, as we bring you the story of a man who's leveled characters to 85+ not only for an entire realm or even two but in every possible slot of his WoW account. That's five realms: two with 11 characters, two with 10 characters, and one with eight, hitting the hard cap of 50 characters on a single account, all told.
And that's just the Cataclysm-era installment of this altaholic's leveling efforts. Bluemain of Darkspear (EU-Alliance) is still ticking along. That's right: This herd of 85s is still leveling. Since we began our interview process, Blue's replaced and scooted a couple of characters here and there, but they're all 85 again as of this week, and he's working on his 19th level 90 character.
Could this guy be the prototype for Insane in the Membrane?
Main character Bluemain, worgen survival hunter
Realm Darkspear (EU-Alliance)
WoW Insider: So you're playing along, having a great time, and somehow you decide you need to have a level 85 character in every last slot that the game will permit. That's insane! How does that even happen?
Bluemain: Roughly about, ooh, a year and a half, maybe a bit more, about six months prior to Mists of Pandaria, I had four or five toons leveled and I was just chatting to a friend of mine, Geebs on Darkspear, about the idea of leveling every slot that an account would allow. We both thought that after about 15 characters, that the repetitiveness would become too much, but I thought what the hell, I wasn't raiding anymore. Why not give it a try?
It was about 25 or 26 done when Mists came out, and I'm still debating whether to carry on to 90 on all toons. But therein lies dangerous precedent: With another expansion on the way, why not all 95, then 100? All I'll say there is we shall see.
Tell us about all the class/spec combinations you play.
Crikey, all of them? Let's see ... Well, my main is a hunter as hunters (at least for me) are the best class and not just for leveling, although they're great at that. There's quite a few of them dotted about. Definitely my most levelled class; there are 12 of 'em on various servers.
After that in order of likes: Warriors are cool; worgen fury warriors look about as mean as it's possible to be so there's a few of them. Rogues are fun to level, a very fluid class. I usually level as assassination. There's also a few druids too. My preferred leveling for druids is feral, although I did level one as balance, but never ever again. There's something off-putting about hooting at people when they're smacking you in the face with a giant axe. I saw it through to 85, but it was slow and painful.
I have a few shaman lying around and a few pallys, monks, warlocks, the odd priest here and there, and one very solitary death knight who is not long for this world. I'm thinking of leveling another warrior in his place.
I did until very recently have a mage on Darkspear, but he got the chop five days ago and has been replaced with a prot pally. Prot leveling is a new thing for me. I'm very surprised how fast they level and the amount of damage they can dish out and take. They're a lot of fun. Oh, and locks -- destro locks are great fun to level, lots of damage, very little downtime and great survivability.
It sounds like you set some very specific leveling rules for yourself. What were your guidelines?
Heirlooms were allowed, but definitely no Recruit-A-Friend or other shortcuts. Help was permitted for things like Ring of Blood and Champion of Carnage, etc. -- quick XP with the help from my missus' (yes, I have one of them!) high-level toons -- but other than that, almost always solo. I had breakpoints in a char's levels where he would get rested and I'd level another. When the prior toon was ready, I'd level him to the next breakpoint, which were 60-70-80 and now 85.
From the start of BC, I would run one dungeon per level from 60 to 68 and then in Wrath of the Lich King, that would change to one dungeon per two levels. In vanilla, it was just do some when I felt like it, and from Cata onwards, I found dungeons just slowed the leveling down too much.
Other than that, I just pretty much kept to myself, toddled along quietly leveling away.
How well-rounded are your characters? Do they all have professions and current gear-outs? What proportion of your characters would you say have simply been raced up for the sake of getting them to 85?
Most of the current toons on Darkspear are geared to some extent. As you can imagine, there's no time for organised raids, though I do occasionally pop my head into LFR. I think the majority have ilvls between 480 to 505, Bluemain being the highest.
As for professions, I kinda pick at them as I go. I have a 600 leatherworker with a very impressive recipe list. Also capped are a blacksmith, tailor, and scribe. There's an upcoming enchanter -- she's around 400 or so -- and all gathering professions are maxed on a number of toons.
Although I'd say roughly 30 toons were just leveled as quick as possible, chucked onto servers and left there. Some don't even have any gear on anymore. Although that may be rectified if I do carry on to 90 ... maybe.
What's the typical time /played on each character? Who has the most? The least?
Wow, that varies, a lot. I have I suppose what you'd call a main, Bluemain -– that's Bluemain Darkspear, not the other Bluemains on the other servers; I'm not hugely inventive with names. He has far and above the most played, very close to one year now.
Then there's my alt mains. They have, ooh, I'd say between two to four months played. Then there's the alts; they go from weeks to days.
One of things I'd do is challenge myself to beat my fastest 1-to-85 time. My best time (pre-monks with their major leveling buff) was an enhancement shaman who got to 85 in 2 days 10 hours played. My best monk was my first (Drunkmonk). They level like they're on fire. stack up the buff at certain points and get them tons of rested, and nothing can level as fast. His time to 90 was under 2 days played.
Let's talk about the method to your madness. What's your preferred style of leveling? Does it vary by character, or do you like to follow a set pathway to the top?
The style changes depending on the class, but the route is pretty much fixed. ... I once tried one of those leveling addons -– Zygors, it was -- but its route disagreed with mine, so that got the chop. Very briefly, my route is Darkshire (10 to 23), Ashenvale (23 to 27), Stonetalon (27 to 32), Southern Barrens (32 to 36), down to Ratchet for the boat to Booty Bay, then portal to Western Plaguelands (36 to 42), Eastern Plaguelands (42 to 47), then the "uncrashable" goblin rocket down to Badlands (47 to 49), back to Stormwind, then boat to Darnassus and then fly to Felwood (49 to 52), Winterspring (52 to 58), then finish off all the way back in Eastern Kingdoms for Blasted Lands (58 to 60).
For BC, Hellfire's a biggy (60 to 64), Zanga (64 to 66), then ask the missus (still got one of those!) for help with Ring of Blood, then Terrokar (66 to 67) and Blade's Edge or Nagrand (67 to 68), then off to Northrend and Borean Tundra (68 to 70),Howling Fjord (70 to 74), Dragonblight for Wrathgate (74 to 76), Grizzly Hills (76 to 77), Zul'Drak (77 to 78), Sholazar Basin (78 to 79) and finally Icecrown (79 to 80). Want more? K ... Hyjal (80 to 82), Deepholm (82 to 83.5), Uldum (83.5 to 84) and finish nicely in Twilight at 85 ... Always the same, apart from the DK, who missed the first bit –- oh, and the very few Horde take a different route at the start, but mostly that's the route.
Is there particular content you always cover or consistently avoid?
I always cover two things, Wrathgate and the Bridenbrad chain, the first one for its cool (even after 50 times) and the second ... is a quite moving story, and I feel an homage is nice thing to do.
It's like on every Horde I've done, I always stop by Kyle the Frenzied/Friendly and bow or salute to Ezra. I dunno, I just think it's the proper thing to do, so I do.
There's not many Horde though; I'm Alliance through and through. I have Alliance dog tags, Alliance shirts and Alliance tattoos . Cut me in half and I'd have "Alliance" written through the middle (once you cleaned up all the blood and purple wobbly bits and so forth). In my mind, the Horde I have are actually Alliance spies keeping an eye on Warchief Womble. That's not to say I don't like Horde races. I love troll druid forms. The colours are really nice, especially cat form. I have troll hunters, orc shaman and even a blood elf rogue. But Alliance leveling is nicer for me.
How would you compare your enjoyment of the leveling process versus playing at endgame? Do you strongly prefer one or the other?
I love leveling -– well, you'd have to, really -- but I do enjoy watching a character grow and learn as he goes from a level 1 guy who can barely tie his boot laces to a level 85 to 90 hero with loads of talents and spells to take down anything that crosses said mighty hero.
The trouble is, is finding time. I do like raiding. I used to raid properly back in Wrath and a lil' bit in Cata; got a few nice achieves, too. Unfortunately, finding the time to raid and do this wasn't possible, and since I started this, raiding got put on the back burner. I do LFR, and it's nice to see the content, but it's not the same. Maybe I'll look back into it for the next expansion. With flex raiding, that might be fun.
Obviously, your schedule must allow you to put in a fair amount of game time. How much time do you devote to WoW during a typical week? And what do you do when you're not playing WoW?
You mean, when I'm not playing WoW or reading about WoW or reading WoW novels or buying mounts for WoW from the pet store like Sparkles the star pony or Brian the flyin' lion? Well, school is way behind me now (40 now -- /sadface ), so I play when I want to play really. I can devote quite a fair amount of time to play. When I'm not playing or reading WoW sites, I'm doing regular things: shopping, cooking, sleeping, killing mogu -- oh wait, that's the other life -- but you know, that kind of thing.
The one thing that never gets old is the people. I always meet new and interesting people. Met one guy who's touring the world, no set route, just going round as he sees fit. He's currently in Vietnam, no idea where he'll be next week. I met my missus (still got one) on WoW. Got talking one day, I got very dru -- I mean, a little unsober one Christmas and asked her to marry me over and over till she finally caved. Then left England and flew to Sweden with a one-way ticket and haven't left since.
Those are two of the more bizarre examples, but you meet some pretty bizarre people. Leveling is a lot of fun for me. Heirlooms are not a prerequisite, but insanity might just be.
"I never thought of playing WoW like that!" -- and neither did we, until we talked with Game of Thrones' Hodor (Kristian Nairn) and a 70-year-old grandma who tops her raid's DPS charts as its legendary-wielding GM. Send your nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org.