Thursday, March 9, 2017

Road to 7.2 Class Pets: Personal Experience and Insights


I wanted to share my experiences with leveling and preparing a character for the upcoming class pets, so I'll be breaking down the process into sections with some personal insights. Note that this is all based purely on my own testing or observations; other players' experiences may vary.

TLDR; The entire adventure isn't a short one, and shouldn't be seen as something to quickly grind through. I think this is very much meant to be a long-term goal, much like the Argent Tournament pets took weeks to months of dailies (for some collectors, even crossing into multiple expansions).

It's a slow-going task, but it's absolutely doable. These pets will not be removed and they will be waiting for you. Don't let the length of time discourage you from these pets! (Not enjoying the class playstyle is an entirely other matter though...)

Disclaimer: Although though my personal opinion is that collecting the 7.2 class pets is a lengthy task yet doable, I would still advocate a different way for collecting these pets. Even if it's just a slight change. I still think there are some collectors who will feel discouraged and/or left out. That being said, I accept whatever decision Blizzard makes regarding these pets.

Here's a break down with my opinions and commentary to help explain my point of view. Walls-of-text, ahoy!

For a preview of the requirements for Patch 7.2 class pets, see here.

Pre-7.2 Content:

1. Leveling to 110
For me, this was the most tedious part of this project. I simply didn't find it that interesting as I've seen the quests and RP multiple times already.

Even from a different class' perspective, I didn't find it very motivating or enthralling. I see basic leveling as the most time-consuming and mind-numbing part of this entire collecting process.

My main take away during my time on lowbie alts: think of it as a side-project for now. There's no rush. Collecting doesn't have to be a race if you don't want it to be. Find fun/interesting ways to earn experience on a character, such as Pet Battling or dungeons or find motivations like leveling up a profession. It helps break up the monotony.

My Monk, for example. I'm kind of hitting a wall with questing, so she is currently stuck in her 60s. However, I have her parked at the Darkmoon Faire for the carousel buff and easy experience from the DMF Pet Battle dailies. Just a small breather from the same-old grind.

I do recognize that some may not have time to invest in leveling a new class to 110.

But again, view leveling as a side-project. If you only have an hour or so a week to put into a new toon, that's ok! If you only want to spend a couple of hours leveling each month, that's ok too. Level in whatever way suits your lifestyle and playstyle. There's no rush.

The task of leveling can be reduced if you use in-game gold to purchase a character boost to 100. Spend the majority of your time on your main, and collect enough gold to purchase a character boost for an alt. It's not cheap, but it's an option if you want to bypass the majority of the levels and get to more current content. This is how I'm approaching my Rogue alt, as I don't think I could stomach another 1 to 110 so soon after my Monk.

Leveling doesn't and shouldn't have to be your main focus if you don't want it to be. If we collectors can undergo the Argent Tournament and other similar lengthy grinds, leveling another character should be just as feasible. ;)

2. Class campaign
This part was less mind-numbing and tedious, but on the flip-side it was somewhat more challenging for me.

There really is no speed-up for this part, and it requires stepping into some in-game activities that might be (waaay) outside your comfort zone. But again, take it slow and go at your own pace. Who knows, you may come to enjoy a new class.

At first I was extremely uncomfortable taking my Death Knight into dungeons and other activities other than basic questing or World Quests. I wasn't very familiar with the playstyle, the spec, and just about everything involving DKs. It took time to learn how to play, and how to perform well-enough so that I could feel comfortable enough to progress.

While learning how to play, I geared up via WQ rewards, one or two dungeon pieces, and whatever came out of the weekly quest reward. My Death Knight isn't very geared (~860 item level), but it doesn't take a whole lot to be able to complete the class campaign (or WQs or emissaries).

I didn't have the luxury of having a group of friends to help with my Death Knight's class campaign (my guildmates are all alliance-side). But if you have acquaintances that are willing to lend a hand, great! Call on them and then return the favor later.

A bonus to having to go through the class campaign: I got to see some interesting lore behind a class I never really paid much attention to before. It was new, different, and largely unique from other class campaigns. A refreshing experience in-between grinds.

If you truly don't enjoy how a class plays, that's perfectly ok. You can put this side-project on hold until additional catch-up mechanics are put into place that will hopefully make the process more bearable.

3. Leveling weapon(s) to 35
Initially, I was very opposed with yet another AP grind. Especially 3 grinds for Death Knight. It seemed unnecessary and exhausting. And although I still view collecting AP for 3 different weapons as boring and uninspiring, it's not as long an undertaking as it seems.

Out of all the concerns about collecting the DK/Monk pets, this part of the collecting process was discussed the most among collectors - grinding enough AP for a level 35 weapon, empowering it, and then collecting more AP to reach level 43.

For the most part, I agree that this doesn't exactly seem like it MUST BE a necessary requirement. I wouldn't be upset to see this part removed.

However, Blizzard feels it's integral to the class experience, which I can also understand. Unlocking each artifact trait grants your class an additional ability or power. You really do notice the increase as you're playing and leveling your weapon up.

It seems like an endless grind, but take it from someone who has (and still is) ground up multiple level 35 weapons - it's not that bad. Time-consuming? Yes. Requires dedication and patience? Yes. Achievable? Also yes!

At Artifact Knowledge 25, my DK's Blood artifact went from weapon level 1 to 33 in 6 days. She only completed the daily emissary and any "easy" AP WQs. This week, she participated in 5 Timewalking Dungeons as well. Nightfallen quest line, class campaign, etc. played no part in leveling up her Blood weapon, but the massive amount of AP earned from those would have probably made the leveling go faster.

I estimate maybe one more week at an emissary a day plus at least three 50k AP WQs, for her to reach weapon level 35. This time will probably be less, depending on how much AP each WQ grants.

Keep in mind that this is all just RIGHT NOW. AK 25, roughly 2 weeks for one level 35 weapon, playing fairly casually.

Come Patch 7.2, AK will climb even further, all the way to AK 50. This will help immensely.

Main characters that reach high enough AK will be able to purchase compendiums to send to alts for an instant boost to an increased AK level.

It will still take time for main characters to earn high enough AK, but I see this as motivation to work on my main character first. Which is what many collectors want - to play on their main.

It's ok to put alts on the back-burner initially. Personally, it seems to me that that's the intent. Work on main toon, alt takes a small vacation, and when the latter returns to "work" they have a significant advantage thanks to mains.

Alts that are instantly boosted to AK 45 will still need to earn 5 more levels in order to reach the maximum, but that just gives us more time to play on our main characters. Once at AK 50, think of how much AP each token will award. An insane amount! It should make leveling up weapons (3 for DK) relatively quick.

I do understand and empathize that the simple act of completing emissaries and WQs on an alt takes time. Time away from mains and time out of our daily lives. Not everyone has this luxury.

The only thing I can say to this is to go at your own pace. It's not a race. Don't feel disheartened; the end goal isn't as far away as it seems. Collectors are no strangers to time-consuming tasks. This is just another long, yet completely doable activity (if you can tolerate the class/role, that is...).

Post-7.2 Content:

Broken Shore quests, Pathfinder II (to access the class mount quest line), empowering your weapon and leveling it up to 43, collecting 1k Order Resrouces to purchase the pets.

  • The Broken Shore quest line - It's relatively short. Compared to leveling to 110 and the pre-7.2 class campaign, the Broken Shore story is a drop in the bucket. I completed it in less than a couple of hours on the PTR.
  • Pathfinder II - The downside is that this will take much longer, as it has multiple requirements, many of which will be gated. However, the upside: I believe the overall achievement is account-wide. You should be able to complete this on your main toon, granting access to flying (and the class mount quests?) to any 110 alts. Another reason to focus on your main and put alts on hold temporarily.
  • Empowering and leveling your weapon to 43 - With the focus on our mains at the start of 7.2, I see alts easily taking a break while waiting for their AK levels to accumulate. At high AK (45+), the amount of AP earned per token will significantly speed up the weapon leveling. Will it still take time? Yes. But there's no rush. :)
  • 1k Order Resources (per pet) - Originally the 10k resource price tag was a relatively large obstacle. But the price was reduced to 1k, making it much more reasonable. It's likely you'll "accidentally" save up enough just by doing daily emissaries and WQs. If not, you can always farm up Blood of Sargeras on your main character, purchase Order Resources Cache (1 blood per), and send these caches to your alt.

In closing, I know that none of this addresses the fact that some collectors simply DO. NOT. WANT. to play a certain class. The playstyle, lore, or whatever aspect of that class does not appeal to them and may even turn them off. Additionally, not all collectors have enough time to keep up on MAIN characters, which makes collecting these class pets seem less likely for them.

These reasons and more are why I'm very much in support for either an adjustment to the current process of collecting these pets (remove the weapon level 43 requirement), or extra catch-up mechanics. Or, dare I say it, making these pets cageable in the future.

Blizzard has stated that they will re-assess how players will obtain the class pets, so I remain hopeful that Blizzard will take into account the MANY different types of collectors and their circumstances, and will implement a helpful way for more to gain access to class pets.

In the meantime, with the added increase to AK, focus on mains, reduced Order Resource cost, and some persistence and patience, collecting the DK and Monk pets in 7.2 is not as out of reach as it sounds.

It's been a while since such a time-consuming pet-activity was implemented. Whether "right" or "wrong" design, we shouldn't completely shy away from it. There's no harm in getting started and just trying it out.

It will absolutely take a lot of time. There are new skills and playstyles that you'll need to learn. It won't be for everyone. A few pets for all of this might not seem worth it to some, and that's ok.

Think of it as a long-term investment/side-project, so go as quickly or as slowly as necessary. It's your adventure, you choose how you want to approach it, if at all. :)

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