Pre-ordering the Warlords of Draenor expansion gives your account the ability to boost any character on your account to level 90. You can boost a level 1 character all the way to the top, or you can level them up to 60 and then apply the boost. Additional boosts may be purchased for $90.
Why bother leveling a character all the way to 60 when you could just apply it right away? One word: professions. If you choose to boost a level 60 character who has already learned two professions- even if they’re sitting at 1/600 skill points- those will immediately max out to 600. Professions can be very lucrative, but leveling them can cost you thousands and wipe out the tidy profits associated with them at end game.
I pre-purchased the Warlords of Draenor expansion as soon as it became available, and after an awful lot of hemming and hawing, decided to use my free level 90 boost on my Paladin, Acima, who had stalled out while leveling in the 40’s and never really recovered. I already had all the professions leveled on other characters, so I wanted to choose the best ‘overlap’ profession for money-making cooldowns. After asking around on Twitter and doing a bit of research, I decided to make her an alchemist/herbalist. I already had a Transmutation-specialized Alchemist on my Shaman, and many Twitter friends suggested Acima should pick up the Flasks specialization.
Click on the images to enlarge.
Level 60 to Level 90 Character Boost: An Illustrated Case Study
Class Specialization: The primary specialization is chosen at the loading screen; secondary class specialization (dual spec) was reset.
Reputations:No reputations change. No Pandaria reputations are learned if you did not already know them. Talents: All Talents reset and all were opened to level 90 Glyphs: All glyph slots were opened and all glyphs reset. No new glyphs are learned.
Professions: I chose Alchemy and Herbalism; no new recipes are learned. Profession Specialization: If you choose Engineering or Alchemy, you will not learn a specialization. Secondary Professions: Cooking, First Aid, and Fishing Secondary Boosts: Only First Aid was boosted to 600. Cooking and Fishing remained at 1/600.
Quests: Your account-wide quests remain active, and the quest A Flash of Bronze, which gives your character access to the Timeless Isle, is added to your log book.
The Boost Process: Once your character is level 60, if you’re choosing to get her there for the profession boost, you may click on the gold shield to the left of your character list in the WoW character login page. From there, the level boost process moves forward. Your character is deposited in the Eternal Vale at either the Shrine of Seven Moons or the Shrine of Seven Stars, depending on your faction.
Pet battles, Warcraft’s new game-within-a-game, is not only fun but a great way to get a lot of achievement points for the Achievement Hunter within your soul. I wanted to figure out how to quickly get to the Pandaria pet battle dailies while getting as many achievement points as possible.
There are plenty of ways to get your pets to 25, but here’s the way I ended up doing it quickly while knocking out a ton of achievements. It took me two days starting with three level one pets (and two level 20 pets in my roster), and my priorities were:
Knock out as many of the pets as possible for the [World Safari] achievements
One of the great things about pet battles is that you truly can build whatever team you want. Three mechanical dragons? Fine. A ghost, a broom, and a sentient turnip? Knock yourself out. There are plenty of places to go to debate what the ideal 3-pet rotation is, but this is not that place. We do so much min-maxing for raids and even just dungeons that I personally relished the chance to simply go with my favorite pets and leave it at that. I even ended up leveling an [Enchanted Broom], just because it has the finest attack illustrations in the game.
First, I purchased two level-20 battle pets on the Drenden auction house and went in search of a level 15-16 pet area (Note: You’ll need to have leveled at least one pet to level 20 the hard way before you can purchase a level 20 pet on the AH). Un’Goro Crater is a good choice, but I went with Burning Steppes because flying through treetops makes me insane.
Equip your pet-to-be-leveled in the first slot of your pet journal
Equip your two purchased level-20 pets in the next two slots
Challenge a level 15-16 world pet to a battle
Hit the world pet once with your level 1 pet, then swap it out with one of your bigger pets
Kill the challenger.
Repeat (4 to 5 battles, in my experience) until your desired pet is level 7, then do the same with any other level 1 pets you want to bring onto your team before you…
Move to a level 20-21 pet area and repeat the above process until your desired pet(s) are level 15. It only took me about an hour to level all three of my desired pets to level 15.
Once I had my desired team of level 15 pets, I went back to Orgrimmar (Stormwind for Alliance) and picked up the quest series to defeat Kalimdor Trainers and Eastern Kingdoms Trainers.
I chose at random to start in Kalimdor, and worked my way from north to south. I went to each zone and flew around until I saw a pet that was unique to that zone – I personally used the simple and useful PetBattleArena.com to find unique pets, though there are lots of resources, including the profoundly weighty WoWhead Pet Map– then flew down to battle it.
If the creature I was fighting was green or blue, I captured it. If not, I killed it quickly and moved on. This was just my own personal desire not to fill up my pet journal with grey or white creatures, or with more than one of the same creature. However, my OCDness tripped me up a few times; for example, I fought a white Tiny Bog Monster in the Wetlands and killed it, thinking I could do better- then, of course, spent an hour looking in vain for another spawn.
When I came to a zone with a Master Pet Battler, I fought them until I won. In Winterspring, I wasn’t able to defeat the Master Pet Battler and so walked around close to the battler picking fights with world pets until all of my team was level 17. I had to do the same thing in Terrokar with the Shattarath pet battler (curse you, aquatic pet team!), and then again in Dragonblight. However, it only took about 20 minutes to level my whole team each time, and was fun, to boot!
After moving through all of Kalimdor, I went through Eastern Kingdoms- north to south again- and then flew back to Orgrimmar to pick up the Outlands Tamer quests. Capturing a pet and winning a pet battle was much faster in Outlands and Northrend, though by Northrend you’re really starting to feel the complexity of your team choices. In Northrend, I actually leveled a fourth pet (my boss broom, yo) to make the battles a little easier.
World Safari Achievement
Certain pets, like the Snowy Owl (Winterspring) and Qiraj Guardians (Silithus), only spawn at different times of year (the owl in the winter and guardians in the summer), so I knew I wasn’t going to get all of my World Safari achievement accomplished in a few days.
However, if you use PetBattleArena.com, or whatever resource you like the best, to pick up rare pets as you move through each zone for the Continental Tamer meta-achievement, you’ll make a huge dent in your Safari achievement list (and we all know filling in the blanks of an achievement is a lot less daunting than starting from step one)!
While we’re working on perfecting the technical side of the experience, I thought it would be fun to open the process up to the community, getting your feedback for the next set of wallpapers.
Just email email@example.com a screenshot from World of Warcraft, Skyrim, or Star Wars: The Old Republic that you think would make a good moving desktop background. We’ll take a look at all the submissions at noon on Sunday, July 1, and turn one (or possibly several) into animated wallpapers.
I found the most beautiful Skyrim wallpaper from Dead End Thrills and put it on my Mac. It was great; I could almost see the trees blowing in the breeze, or maybe the occasional dragon hurtling past a distant mountain top.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful, I thought, if you could have a desktop wallpaper that did move a little- not just annoying fish flying past, but maybe the slow sunrise over Mulgore in World of Warcraft, a wintery day outside Solitude in Skyrim, a Tython waterfall in Star Wars: The Old Republic? A wallpaper with just the tiniest bit of movement would make a computer monitor seem so much less like a computer and so much more like a window.
Huge thanks to intrepid beta testers and technical wizards Rezznul (he’s a Mac) & GayGeekDad(and he’s a PC).
As always, if you’re experiencing technical difficulty or know of a better way to run these backgrounds (especially for Mac users), drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org . We’re working hard to make them perfect for everyone.
If you have any suggestions on how to make the wallpaper playback better, please leave them in the comments or email me at email@example.com
It’s not always possible to log into your WoW account. If you’re trapped in a drab cubicle, on vacation, stuck on a bus in traffic, or just plain don’t have access to the internet, time can drag.
Your iPad saves you from all that. You can read or draw or play Sudoku to your heart’s content. If you’re a hardcore gamer, though, you’ll find yourself missing Warcraft, eager to fill the void with a game more complex than Words With Friends (not that there’s anything wrong with Words With Friends).
It’s hard to separate out the wheat from the chaff in the ocean of apps, but after extensive (and expensive) testing, three apps stood out. These three games should offer you some solace when WoW is not an option.
Note: I’d like to make special mention of one additional game. I was sorely, sorely tempted to add Aralon to the list of recommended games.
It has extensive character selection and customization, a crafting system, a good story, and a great camera and movement engine. I left it off because it just isn’t of the graphical quality it ought to be at this point. It was ported from an iPhone app, and not enough effort went into upgrading it- which is a shame, because it’s really an excellent game but for that one (albeit major) flaw.
However, if you have money to burn and really love crafting or exploration, I’d recommend trying it out.
So what do you like about Warcraft, and what apps would best suit you?
If you like Questing, try Dungeon Hunter 2.
If you like Raiding, try Battleheart.
If you like Combat, try Pocket RPG.
If you like Crafting & Exploration, try Aralon. See above note
The glossy vector animation style of Battleheart reminded me of a nouveau-Final Fantasy, but the fighting style is pure Warcraft. You play not one character, but the unseen battle commander of a party of four: a tank, a healer, and two DPS. As you progress, you recruit additional party members- whose entertaining backstories are rife with Old Gamer jokes- and swap them out at will to fill your fighting roster. Multiple classes are available for play, including rogues, knights, witches, wizards, clerics, bards, barbarians and monks.
Each party member has his own four-slot gear panel with gear that can be upgraded or purchased outright. An ‘Academy’ window allows you to choose the spec of your party member, right down to a miniaturized talent tree that borrows heavily from Warcraft.
Fighting is fantastically simple: Tap a party member and drag towards the enemy you want her to demolish. Special abilities, each on their own cooldown, appear in the upper left corner. Tactically, though, you’ll have to keep your wits about you. The tank has to protect the healer and pick up all the adds; the healer needs to move away from adds and target the necessary team member; the DPS frequently stare off into the distance instead of targeting new adds and must be brought back to task.
The main drawback to combat is the clunkiness of selecting each team member in the heat of battle. When everyone piles in to fight it can be difficult to choose the correct party member. Also, rather unusually, the healer can’t heal herself. I’m unsure if that’s a combat design choice or just an oddity of coding. Greater attention could have been paid, too, to the flow of battle; you’re often not sure if you’re fighting a boss, or hold off on blowing your cooldowns just to find that the battle is, mysteriously, over.
Of particular interest is the addition of an ‘Arena’ section on each map. The Arena pits your team against endless waves of monsters, rewarding you for the number of kills you’ve achieved before your team’s inevitable demise. It makes a fun addition to the usual level-by-level crawl.
Special Note: The healer has a Power Word: Shield ability. What more is there to say?
Pros: Deceptively simple, Battleheart is graphically appealing and heavily influenced by Warcraft. The story is entertaining and lighthearted, and gameplay moves forward at a good clip against cute, ever-changing backdrops.
Cons: The simplicity of the graphics pall after a while, and the fights themselves are not terribly challenging. Multiplayer support would be an welcome and fun addition.
The two-thumb controls of Pocket RPG reminded me instantly of , which I use to play World of Warcraft on my iPad on my home network. Perhaps because I’ve gotten so used to that control system, Pocket RPG felt wonderfully easy to operate. Slashing and hacking through gelatinous cubes and monstrous trees with my dual blades was exhilarating, not unlike a .
A health and mana/rage bar on either side of the screen are easy reminders of your stats, and purchasable talents guide your lone combatant down his path of personal improvement. Trees, bushes, benches and treasure chests- along with nearly every object you see- can be hacked to pieces for a gold or item reward.
Combat with the Blade Master character is instinctual and easy to control. His satisfying swings and special maneuvers are beautifully scripted to respond well to your thumb controls. Desultory exploration of the mage and hunter classes went nowhere, as I couldn’t get either of them past the first level and soon got sick of the unending deaths and appalling lack of control.
The creepy, skeletal guards you’re relieving populate the dungeons and caverns of your adventure like creatures from Alice; bobble-headed and jittery, their hints of a greater evil is surprisingly effective. Boss fights are extremely challenging and require tactical thought- exploding barrels, objects that grant temporary bonuses, and the like all need to be used in thoughtful succession along with your attacks to successfully down a boss.
After death, you have one opportunity per level to respawn near your last point of death (after several hours and many, many deaths, I still was not able to figure out how this respawn point was chosen). After that, you have to restart the whole looooong level. Once you complete a level, you have your only chance to upgrade your stats; your gear, on the other hand, disappears into oblivion once the level is over.
On the one hand, it was interesting to focus on personal stats solely, rather than stats and gear acquisition. On the other hand… I wanted my gear! I wanted to improve it! I wanted to level it and craft it lovingly! Without the ability to improve your gear, the game has a half-finished air about it.
The graphics are well done without being staggering (the exception being the Main Menu screen, which is top-notch). Not as vectorized as Battleheart, nor as realistic as Dungeon Hunter 2, the graphics are in line with the feel of the game, adding to the ambience of the game and supporting the story and combat style.
Pros: Combat is seamless and perfectly integrated… for the Blade Master. Though the levels are long, the sub-levels are well laid out and build to more difficult monsters particularly well. The rhythym of fighting is seamless, though the fights themselves can be extremely challenging.
Cons: The respawn and saving systems are bizarre, and threaten to ruin a game that’s otherwise highly entertaining. The lack of gear persistence is disconcerting, and the ranged classes need work to become real alternatives.
The first thing I noticed about Dungeon Hunter 2 was the price tag. The second was how long it took to load. The third was “AMFG THE GRAPHICS AMFG!”, which explained #1 and #2 instantly. (That said, the goofball ‘HD’ in their app icon is horrifically ugly. Let’s put it down to an upper management decision.) The only game I’ve seen with superior graphics is the sublimely beautiful but deadly boring Infinity Blade.
Let’s just say right now that if you like the classic Bioware RPG series (Fallout, Icewind Dale, Baldur’s Gate, Neverwinter Nights, Dragon Age), then this is the iPad game for you.
You begin your journey as one of three classes: a mage, a warrior, or a rogue. You view your world in typically Biowareish top-down fashion, though this detracts not an iota from the richness of the environment.
A selection of companion fairies follow you around, an excellent map is integrated into the character panel, character improvements are made in the classic D&D fashion, your avatar visually changes attire, and regular cutscenes help the action feel much more computer game than iPad.
Side quests are included along with the main quest, but feel nicely integrated and add to the main theme of the game rather than detract with unnecessary distraction. The story itself could’ve been better, but for a $7 app, I wasn’t expecting epic storyline (yet!).
The multiplayer feature is great, and works particularly well when you’re playing with friends or- better yet- with someone sitting in the same room. The random multiplayer groups I joined were a little chaotic (think mid-level BGs and you get the idea), but those with friends went off without a hitch. The only major multiplayer problem I found is that you can lose sight of your character as monsters pile on up.
The major drawback to DH2 is the number of times you catch yourself thinking, “Why isn’t there a Warcraft app?! Why isn’t there a Baldur’s Gate app?! Why isn’t there an app for every game that’s ever existed?!” Dungeon Hunter 2 pushes the limits of the graphic, control, and story limitations of iPad gaming, and gets you salivating for future possibilities.
Pros: A finely polished, sweeping RPG story set against a great soundtrack with solid controls and good character progression.
Cons: Zero character customization (who wants to play a girl, anyway?!). The story is less engaging than it could be, and cutscenes feel less polished than the rest of the game. Occasional bad pathing issues.