I’ve been levelling an alt lately, mostly keeping a friend company while he tries out a new class. We haven’t been following any levelling guides, but we’ve still managed to belt through the levels very fast – I did nearly sixty levels in less than three weeks of real time, which is pretty good for someone not playing twelve hours a day. And it’s especially good for me, who gets bored easily and is possibly the Slowest Leveller Ever.
I’m far from a pro at speed-levelling, but here are some tips. Note that they generally assume you a) have a level 70 main, with reasonable resources, b) have friends who’ll help in your endeavours, and c) are interested in levelling fast (trying to be ready for the next expansion, or catching up to a friend’s character, or even just Skipping All These Zones I’ve Played To Death Before).
This is far from an exhaustive guide to how to level faster than previously thought possible; for that, you want to look for a levelling guide (Jame’s guide for Alliance or Horde is available free, and may be a good starting point). This is just a list of tips learnt while levelling – either things I’ve learnt the hard way, or things I’ve been taught by those wise in the ways of fast levelling.
- In Azeroth, do instances once each, for a complete run-through of the quests, and repeat-clear a select few for excellent grinding XP
- In Outland, do instances once each if you want to, but they’re much less attractive.
- Don’t do drop quests.
- Buy quest items any time you can.
- Know quests that work together well.
- Use time wisely.
- Don’t burn out!
Do instance quests whenever possible, as soon as the instance quests open up, and make sure you have all the quests before you go in. Instance quest XP is huge all the way to level 70; an old-world instance plus its many quests is likely to be worth an entire level, probably more. Check WoWhead, or Google for instance guides, or look at blogs like this one for instance quest checklists.
However, it’s not worth going into an instance multiple times just to do one or two quests each time.
Don’t take repeat trips into instances, unless they’re easily and quickly grindable. Two premier candidates here: The Stockades, which you can do from mid-teens through to high twenties, and Scarlet Monastery Cathedral, which you can do from level 25 through to level 40. Beg a 70 friend to AoE grind you through – your best bet is a mage (preferably frost for the added control and survivability, but fire is fine too) or a paladin with decent tanking gear.
As a guide: a 70 paladin with reasonable tanking gear can clear SM Cathedral in three pulls (the bottom, the top, and the Cathedral itself), or four if they’re feeling delicate. If they’re prot, they won’t need help; if they’re holy in tanking gear, they’ll need heals and some DPS from one of the alts they’re powering through. You can do four or five full clears of SM Cathedral an hour, which will net about a level an hour for all four alts in the party. (This is assuming a party composition of: level 70 mage or pally, lowbie healer, lowbie DPSer, fill the last two spots with any friends who need the XP.)
You can apply the same sort of farming principle to Stockades, or similar instances. What you’re really looking for, when picking an instance to farm, are: not too many caster mobs (as they’re a pain to bunch up for AoEing down), lots of mobs in close proximity, and preferably a layout that makes it easy to gather up large swathes of enemies and bring them back to your party for convenient disposal.
Looking at other instances where you can do this sort of thing, Shadowfang Keep is a decent alternative to Stockades, and is more convenient for Horde players ;) Wailing Caverns is way too spread out, Blackfathom Deeps has too many casters, I can’t even remember what’s in Razorfen Downs or Kraul but no-one ever goes there anyway, Ragefire Chasm is a wee bit inaccessible for Alliance (and Horde players will outlevel it fast), everyone hates Gnomeregan (although the mobs are probably a pretty good choice for AoE farming), Uldaman’s not a bad choice but it won’t last much longer than SM anyway, and Zul Farrak mobs are way too caster-heavy and have a nasty tendency to poly the tank (thereby getting the rest of the party killed). Around the Zul’Farrak level the XP-per-hour rate starts dropping as mobs take longer to kill, so it’s not really worth “farming” somewhere like Maraudon or Sunken Temple for XP.
Don’t Do Drop Quests
Drop quests can be okay if you’re soloing, but if you’re grouping, it just takes way too long to kill the number of mobs necessary to get drops for everyone. Outside of instances, quest XP far outstrips kill XP; you’re much better off doing two kill quests in the same space of time it’d take you to do one drop quest.
The exception are those drop quests which have a near-100% drop rate, and/or lead on to a really valuable quest chain.
Any time you get a quest which requires items purchasable on the AH (or from vendors), do it straight away. Don’t farm for drops, just buy the items if you don’t already have them stashed on a banker alt. These include, but are not limited to:
- Cloth handins. Five cities, three stacks of cloth per city; wool in the mid-teens (I think you can get it around level 12-14 now), silk in the late 20s (I think level 26), mageweave around level 40 and runecloth at level 50. Each type of cloth handin is worth a good half-level, and it’s a quick and easy boost to run around all the cloth quartermasters while you’re on the phone or waiting for dinner to cook. Make sure you don’t skip a cloth type, because you have to do each type to be able to do the next one, and they are worth it for XP.
- Recipe quests. For example, on Alliance side there’s a recipe quest or two in Westfall, one in Redridge, one in Duskwood, one in Southshore. Buy the meat, hand it in; it’s XP for no work at all.
- Ore collection quests. You can hand in bloodstone ore in Booty Bay to fix a cookpot, and there are others like it. Do it!
- The Green Hills of Stranglethorn. Don’t farm, or wait to see if they drop while you quest in STV – just hit the AH and buy a complete set of pages. They’re really not all that pricey. One daily quest on your 70 will pay for all the pages you need (and probably cover half of your levelling buddy’s pages as well).
- Argent Dawn handins in Light’s Hope Chapel. Available at 55, these involve handing in 30 Savage Fronds, Dark Iron Scraps, Crypt Fiend Parts, Cores of Elements or Bone Fragments. You’ll probably have to buy at least some of these, but it’s worth it; these five handins are another half a level between them, and at 55 that means something.
- Pristine Ivory Tusks and Oshu’gun Crystal Fragments to the Consortium at Aeris’ Landing in Nagrand. Available at level 64 or 65 until you reach Friendly reputation, having 10 fragments and 3 tusk pairs in your bag when you hit Nagrand is a quick boost over over 20K xp, and they’re easily bought off the AH.
Identify Fast Streams of XP
There are certain areas in the world where you can combine multiple quests for really quick XP, where the quest progression flows really smoothly and you really don’t waste much time in transit or pointless killing at all. Some examples:
- Chillwind Camp, for Alliance; the first half-dozen Western Plaguelands quests around Andorhal and the Scourge cauldrons.
- Un’goro Crater. Just kill anything you see; odds are, you’ll have a quest for it.
- Nagrand, ditto.
- Duskwood (for Alliance); there are multiple simultaneous quest chains.
- There are plenty of others; what are your favourites?
Make Use of “Dead Time”
There’s a fair amount of timewasting we all go through in front of a computer. Keep a WoW client open in the background and do stuff that doesn’t need attention – Fed-ex/delivery/message-bearing quests are a perfect example; you only need to pay attention to WoW for fifteen seconds (to hand in the quest, pick up the next quest, and get back on the griffon) every five minutes or so, but some of these quest chains are absolute goldmines of XP for no real work at all.
Note that for optimum XP return, this sort of thing should be done when you wouldn’t otherwise be playing – while you’re cooking dinner, or on the phone, or watching a DVD.
Don’t Burn Out
Playing this “hard” can lead to fast burnout, which is worth avoiding. WoW isn’t supposed to be work, after all. Work out times at which you’re going to stop and smell the flowers, and for those select brackets, quest in the relevant zones. Perhaps you particularly like the Wastewander quests in Tanaris (though I can’t imagine why you would), or you love the quest chains in Duskwood, or some such. Pick a few brackets like this throughout the levelling curve, and make sure to play through the quests properly. This helps you learn your character as you go, and also helps provide a bit of a relaxation break from the go-go-go pace of three levels a night.