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Valor-capping a realm's worth of 90s every single week

Altaholic valorcaps realmful of level 90s every single week
And you thought the guy with 50 level 85+ characters was crazy.

Last week, we met a player who's packed his entire account (five realms and 50 character slots, all told) with level 85+ characters. This week, we visit yet another plane of insanity: a player who's valor-capped every character on a realm (11 level 90 characters) in a single week -– more specifically, every single week, because Bluespartan of Lightbringer (US) has been valor-capping his entire crew like clockwork every week for the last four weeks in a row.

"Didn't really set out to do it, but with the changes to patch 5.3, it became viable despite working full time," he muses. "Under the pre-5.3 options for capping valor on the first toon, I would have run one heroic dungeon and one normal scenario for 80 + 50 valor. But now, a single heroic scenario gives about the same valor as both of those, plus better gear rewards."

Is this the dawning of the Age of the Altaholic? Maybe it's the fact that both of these altaholic players play characters named with forms of the word "blue." Or maybe it's just that Bluespartan is a college math teacher and enjoys figuring out a formula for success. Whatever it is, let's take a look inside the week of the player who just might be WoW's reigning King of Valor.
Altaholic valorcaps realmful of level 90s every single week
Main character Bluespartan, human frost mage
Guild Forgiven
Realm Lightbringer (US-Alliance)

WoW Insider: Having spoken with Bluemain last week about his 50 level 85+ characters, I think we all get that some people like leveling a lot of characters. But valor-capping a whole realm of characters every week? What does that kind of a play schedule look like?

Bluespartan: It took a while for two things about Mists to sink in. First, that because capping one toon gave a 50 percent valor buff the rest of the week, I should do that as early as possible. And second, that it wasn't really worth running LFR without bonus coins. So I began to think about the strategy and order of my runs. I wasn't even capping the mage for the first patch or two. But then I got the 6,000-valor quest from Wrathion. I still didn't cap ... and suddenly, it was only two weeks until the next patch. I was going to be way behind if I didn't kick it into gear.

So I started capping the mage and noticing that if I saved most of my LFRs for the weekend after my mage capped, my alts started getting decent valor for just a few runs. Isle of Thunder made capping much easier. A druid in the guild noted he usually capped on Tuesday, since he had the day off. I had a Tuesday off between semesters and there was no maintenance, just restarts. So I tried it.

Yes, it could be done, but took a long time:
  • Champions of the Thunder King for 150
  • Kill 12 rares for 180
  • 12 daily PvE quests for 60
  • Daily dungeon/scenario for 80 + 50
  • ToT LFR x 4 for 360

Total: 880 in one day. The remaining 120 could be made up from normal raid boss kills, the next day's dungeon and scenario, more rares, or old LFRs. So I would have the Valor of the Ancients buff for 50% more XP almost all week.

But I still had no ambition to cap even one of the alts. But soon a plan came into focus ...
Altaholic valorcaps realmful of level 90s every single week
So let's look at the first point of your capping plan.

Push alts to 480+ ilevel ASAP. At a ilevel below 460 or even 470, your options for valor are limited. But it only takes me about two weeks from fresh level 90 to 480. Here's a strategy to follow.
  • Level through Townlong Steppes and/or Dread Wastes starting at level 88. Quests give 429 or 437 gear. Supplement with greens your alts win in LFR or daily quests. Try to have everything 429+ by the time you hit 90. Run each dungeon at least once for the quest rewards and XP.
  • Run enough battlegrounds as you level so you have 4,000 honor the moment you hit 90. AV is always good XP, and the Call to Arms BG can be quite good. Queue up while you quest. That's two to three upgrades of 476 you can buy on day one. Run Tol Barad for 800 valor (pick up the weekly quest behind the portal in SW first). Convert justice points to honor. Maybe one to two more upgrades. Focus on cheaper items that you need to raise your ilevel quickly, but also be sure to replace poor items first. Bracers count as much in the average as chest pieces. Maybe save some of these points to spend later based on what drops from world bosses and your first LFR.
  • Run the Arena of Annihilation scenario for a guaranteed 450 weapon.
  • Go to Isle of Thunder. Save the intro quests, except the first one, for when you have time. Go kill a rare and win a key. Run the Treasure Trove scenario and try to find about 10 Elder Coins. You want to make every roll count.
  • Run Sha of Anger for the 476 boots (and eventually get the 502s from the 5.3 quest line) and maybe a tier drop (use a coin). Run Galleon and use a coin for a chance at a 496. Run Oondasta and Nalak, even though you may not have those coins yet.
  • Run heroic dungeons if you are still shy of 460, but usually I end up skipping these. You can also buy 458 gear at the AH to fill in gaps (hint: you don't have to equip them to boost your ilevel, but you may need to anyway if your character is weak), or run more BGs for the honor points.
  • Run the first two LFRs and use bonus coins. You should hit 470 soon. Next Tuesday, get another key from the Isle and run as many LFRs as you qualify for. Run world bosses. Run BGs and spend honor points. Buy the 522 necklace from Shado Pan Assault with your first 1,250 valor points on week two. 480 comes surprisingly fast!
Altaholic valorcaps realmful of level 90s every single week
OK, so that gets us started. What's next?

Cap a short-queue character on Tuesday or early Wednesday. As the mage's gear matured and he needed fewer drops and upgrades, I realized I didn't need to cap him first. In fact, he was a bad choice, with his long DPS queues. So I made my shaman healer my Tuesday toon, since he could still kill things well in elemental spec.

Something else helped me, too -- patch 5.3 arrived. Heroic scenario for 120 valor. Bonus valor in ToT. And 200 valor for a simple turn-in quest. I could gather these in advance, leaving my shaman in place to turn in first thing when I logged on Tuesday. And a funny thing: For that first action, I always seemed to have the 50 percent buff left over from the previous week.

So now my Tuesday cap didn't require a day off. It only takes about four hours of game time and looks like this:
  • Barrens Battlefields for 300 (10 minutes or less, not counting material gathering for next week to be done later)
  • Daily heroic scenario for 120 (20 minutes)
  • Champions of the Thunder King for 150 (30 minutes)
  • Kill 12 rares for 180 (60 minutes)
  • 10 daily PvE quests for 50 (between rares)
  • ToT LFR x 2 for 210+ (2 hours)

And how do you wrap it all up?

Work through the team to earn valor efficiently. All the other alts can assume the 50 percent buff is available for everything. For them, the most efficient thing to do is run one heroic scenario per toon per day on Friday and Saturday. For some, I get an early start on Thursday evening, and some continue to run on Sunday. But this way, each gets three, now worth 180 each (or average of 200 when bonuses are sometimes achieved).

So the cap for alts takes about two to three hours each and looks like this:
  • Barrens Battlefields for 300 (10 minutes, plus 50 minutes to gather materials for next week)
  • Daily heroic scenario x 3 days for approx 600 (20 minutes x 3 days)

The remaining 100 or so points can be obtained via any of these:
  • Champions of the Thunder King for 225 (30 minutes)
  • Kill 4 rares and do 6 daily PvE quests for 135 (30 minutes)
  • ToT LFR x 1 for 135+ (1 hour)
Altaholic valorcaps realmful of level 90s every single week
Note that LFR is not the most efficient way to gain valor, but when I need a lot of drops, I may choose those over scenarios. I only focus on tier drops from LFR, as everything else usually gets replaced by valor or scenario gear. Normal raiding can be even less efficient for valor, but if you have that opportunity, mix that in too, since those drops are keepers.

End result: 11 90s valor capped in about 30 hours of game time, much of it on Friday through Sunday when I am not teaching class. Obviously, this can be scaled down to fewer characters or only 500 valor per alt, depending on how much time you want to play. But it is nice when every alt can afford some valor gear and spend 500 VP to upgrade good gear as they get it. Weak alts are for the birds! I keep thinking I won't have time for them all, but it keeps working out.

Even so, that's a lot of time playing these characters. What's your typical /played on each character?

The max is Bluespartan, 194 days. Second highest is Holychampion, 86 days. Median: Littlepriest, 32 days. Minimum: Bluechi, six days.

Is there particular content you always cover or consistently avoid?

In PvP, I avoid Warsong and Twin Peaks, as the capture-the-flag-type games tend to run longer and are just less fun to me. In PvE, I just focus on what meets my goal. If I need coins, daily quests are better. For pure valor, rares on the isle or heroic scenarios are best. I don't really run dungeons anymore, since 463 drops are useless now (as are justice points). And though fun, pet battles give no valor (I'm not at level 25) and very few coins, so those aren't part of my routine.

One other thing I avoid is doing any activity at a reduced reward. I would rather run five alts at full points than to run my mage five times for half as much. Anyhow, you only get a chance at an scenario epic once per day, and some day my mage will get an offhand to drop. Some day. Soon, maybe?
Altaholic valorcaps realmful of level 90s every single week
Do you think you'll ever spend all those points on everything you could possibly want? How long will this go on?

At this point, all my alts end the week with around 2,000 valor, so I have to spend 1,000 each week to avoid hitting the 3,000 total. If nothing else, I can upgrade two items per week by 8 ilevel. My mage has upgraded everything, but the other 10 still have stuff to buy or upgrade.

If I don't run out of things to buy, I think this cycle will last until 5.4. Then gearing becomes more time-intensive with new fights to learn, and I will probably have to focus on just a few characters until I get a new routine down. As time allows, I'll move down my "list" and include more of my characters.

Bluemain, the account-filling player we met last week, chose his name based on the blue hair of an early characters. What a bizarre coincidence that your characters also frequently use "blue" in their names! What's your "blue" all about?

Blue is my favorite color and has become part of my mage's identity. I was struggling to find a unique name as I started on a very full server. I had just started teaching at a new high school, and the colors were blue and white.

Some characters I named by the spec I wanted to play. But later, I wished my names had more of a theme. Everyone called my mage "Blue" for short, so I used that in my shaman's name and monk's name. And my hunter has a collection of blue pets -- wolf, hawk, turtle, wind serpent, spider. They look pretty cool during a stampede.
Altaholic valorcaps realmful of level 90s every single week
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?

Except for mornings before work and Tuesday/Thursday evenings, most of my play is Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I log about 30 hours a week. I multitask and answer my students' emails and such while I'm stuck in a queue, although with coins to earn and quests and rares to do, I don't have as much downtime as I did in the Cata days. Back then, I would literally have to look for something to do or watch until the queue popped! I did take a few breaks from WoW, one during BC, one to play StarCraft II, and another to play Diablo 3. But WoW keeps providing new experiences patch after patch, and I continue to get better at my alts' rotations as I play them. So who needs TV, anyway?

What do you do when you're not playing WoW?

Believe it or not, I do find time for outside interests. I'm a full-time college math teacher. I'm also very active in church and sing in our choir and on our praise team.

Also, at least once a week I have a date night with my wife of 22 years. She doesn't play my type of game any more (I enjoyed our Diablo 2 and WoW days together, even if she often accused me of running ahead too quickly!), but we do enjoy spending time together. And though she is a bit jealous of the game, she does understand my introvert ways require task-oriented recharge time. My 12th-grader and 8th-grader also keep us busy at times with band concerts, youth events, and such ... and an occasional assist in game.

Just like all the common distractions of everyday life, one day the giant power switch at Blizzard HQ will be pulled to "off" and WoW will just be a memory of virtual characters in a former fantasy realm. But it is fun to spend time with online friends throughout the week, earning a few valor points along the way ... even if they aren't "treasures in heaven."
"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 lisa@wowinsider.com.

Filed under: Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame

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