Learning through Leveling
I have a confession that will probably sound strange to many long-time WoW players: I love leveling.
I should be more exact. Questing is quite fun since the Cataclysm changes to the 1-60 leveling experience, or at least it’s fun the first few times through any given zone. The random dungeon finder is extremely helpful for knocking out dungeon quests and getting a chunk of XP in a hurry, even if the quality of the groups can range from completely pro to completely not. Really, though, what I enjoy the most about leveling a new character is learning a new spec with a new compliment of spells … and therein lies my problem.
I have this (completely irrational) belief that if I want to learn how to play a new spec, I need to play that spec from the ground up. This means that when I got it into my head that I wanted to learn how to play an Elemental Shaman, I didn’t go respec my level 85 Enhance/Resto shaman – I rolled another one. When I decided that I wanted to learn the ins and outs of Atonement healing, I didn’t give my 85 priest an Atonement spec – I made a second priest.
This is probably a druid problem. I’ve known plenty of players with druid mains who actually have 2 druids because our class legitimately has 4 specs, 2 of which focus on caster gear and 2 of which focus on Agility gear. That makes it pretty simple to share (at least some) pieces of gear if you have a Resto/Boomkin druid and a Bear/Cat druid. My problem is that I’ve extended this logic to every class in the game.
I absolutely despise changing a character’s spec at max level. My original priest is a good example of this. I had this masochistic idea to level her as Holy during the tail end of BC. She got to level 60 and languished there until the advent of dual specing. At that point I got her a shadow spec, of which I had absolutely no understanding, and pushed the rest of the way to 80 so that I could go back to healing full time. At level 80, and even today after leveling her through Cataclysm, I have no freaking clue what I’m doing as Shadow. At all. I am probably the worst Shadow priest you’ll ever see. I should sell tickets to the rare occasions when I agree to DPS a heroic on her. Thank Elune I’m usually needed to heal.
My theory is that learning a spec from level 1 up means that you’ll learn how the talents and the spells weave together, and that you’ll come out a better player because of it. The problem is, the talent specs themselves disprove my idea, since they often include talents to strengthen or supplement spells long before you’re actually at a level when those spells are trainable. There are plenty of cases of this in the resto talent tree: While leveling, resto druids would begin to put points in Revitalize beginning as early as level 29, and into Empowered Touch sometime in the mid-40s. These are required talents for a level 85 resto druid, and there are few better options while leveling that will allow you to get down the talent tree, but Lifebloom isn’t even trainable until level 64. My theory has failed.
And yet I keep doing it. I keep telling myself that this is a good way to learn things, and that I’ll appreciate the time I spent thinking through my spec and abilities when I get the alt to max level. So, bearing all that in mind, consider my current dilemma: I would really like to learn to PvP as a discipline priest (on the same little gnome priest who is currently experimenting with Atonement healing).
You can see where this is going already. Battlegrounds, as far as I can tell, are not friendly for low-level casters. We are too susceptible to gap-closers followed by one-shots. There’s hardly a point to running a healing spec in the early battleground brackets, because everyone dies too quickly too even attempt to heal them. But I have it in my head that this is how you learn all the things about a spec.
This is a plea for help and advice, blogosphere. Should I completely give up on the idea of leveling a caster through PvP? Is there a level range at which doing so becomes more reasonable? Does anyone know of a good guide that will help me figure out what the hell I should be doing? Anything at all would be extremely appreciated!
While we’re asking questions, what bizarre leveling habits do you have? Do you see any point to leveling more than one character of the same class? What do you think is the best way to learn about a class and spec, aside from external sources?