HoTs and DoTs: A Restoration Druid and Shadow Priest

Leveling in Pairs

Jumping ahead while Pixii (Lathere) is falling behind

Jumping ahead while Pixii (Lathere) is falling behind

Caesandra (my Mage) and Pixii (Lathere’s Warlock) are actually the first two characters we’ve tried to level together. I started playing World of Warcraft about one month or two after Lathere and her boyfriend started and not only could I not close the level gap – I was always about 10 levels and two zones behind – I didn’t feel any need to. I think I can confidently say that I leveled all on my own the first time.

I started the Shaman, Xata, because my brother also wanted to roll a Shaman. We had a terrible time of the early levels and I honestly don’t think I could have done it on my own. We were codependent: we both tended to die ridiculously fast if we tried to go it alone. I lost interest around level 55 and eventually told my brother – level 58 and waiting for me to catch up – to just go on without me. That was the end of that leveling duo.

Caesandra is level 46. Pixii is level 42. This leveling duo is falling apart.

I started playing Cassandri when a friend of mine was leveling a Warrior. That was the closest thing I’ve had to a perfect leveling partnership.

We tended to log in and play at similar hours of the day so it just started making sense that we would quest together. So that our Quest Logs didn’t get too far out of sync, I got into the habit of questing through two similar level zones at once – one I would complete on my own (eg. Un’goro Crater), the other together with my questing partner (eg. Felwood). It wasn’t until we reached Outlands that I started putting in more play time than my friend. I hit level 70 when we were still questing in Nagrand and he was level 67.

You’d think a Shadow Priest/Warrior combination would be ideal – someone to take damage, and someone to kill stuff then heal everyone back to full health – but in practice it wasn’t. The melee/ranged DPS pair was quite irritating. I was forever waiting for my Warrior friend to get into melee range, else he’d be running all over the place trying to catch the mob heading towards me. And if I let him start DPSing before me, the duration of my DoTs was pretty much wasted. He would try and gather a couple mobs in sequence, but I still usually pulled mobs off him and the whole threat-juggling thing was more annoying than just soloing playing the Shadow Priest was. Sometimes we’d just each pick a target in the same general area – really just sharing the kill XP – and this seemed to work out best for everybody.

Of course, this was back in the day when threat was harder to gain (and drop, for Priests), Warriors took ages to kill stuff on their own and Bind on Account gear didn’t exist.

A Mage and Warlock, two ranged casters, both cloth wearers at that, sounds like a bad idea. But it’s actually turned out to be quite compatible. We can both open up on our target simultaneously from a safe distance without rushing in and accidentally pull additional mobs. I bring a good CC and Pixii brings a decent tank to the mix. Our only real problem is that neither of us can heal – I do get a lot of mileage out of Dampen Magic though – and more importantly: neither of us can resurrect. Lathere has tried to overcome this limitation by picking up and leveling Engineering for the Goblin Jumper Cables.

Now that we’re hitting the Dungeon Finder pretty much non-stop, the lack of a resurrect isn’t a real problem. The new problem is that neither of us are playing hybrids. If ever there was a time to play a tanking or healing hybrid, this is it. Instead we’re stuck with frustratingly long queue times as a pair of DPS. And we watch in frustration whenever we come up against a tank or healer that’s doing such a bad job we can’t help but wish we could take over the controls ourselves.

Occasionally we’ll be paired with an ambitious group that think the Mage/Warlock duo is ideal. You’d be surprised at how often I see:

“Pull more we’ve got a Mage and Warlock. Pull more!”

in our Party chat as the third DPS or healer tries to see how fast we can clear the entire Scarlet Monastery Cathedral. I have to say, these are my favourite types of groups – the ones where the tank and healer are keen to push the limits on how many mobs they can keep under control and how much damage they can heal through. And what DPS doesn’t enjoy seeing scads of yellow numbers popping up all over the screen? I’ve never leveled with an AoE spell before.

Outside of experience gains from the Dungeon Finder we’ve been doing very little questing. I like to do all the individual class quests – the Shaman and Rogue quests were essential. And that’s where it started to fall apart. I out leveled a Mage quest by mistake and only realised that I was meant to pick something up in Scarlet Monastery Library when the Dungeon Finder wouldn’t even let me choose that dungeon as an option. In an effort to ensure that didn’t happen again I headed over to Tabetha in Duskwallow Marsh and became her slave for a night, completing anything tagged as Mage in my Quest Log. And to break up the monotony of questing, I queued myself in the Dungeon Finder.

A couple dungeons later, Mage quests complete, I had somehow gained a few levels on Pixii. I wasn’t worried, I was sure Lathere would catch up soon enough. After all, or so I reasoned, I had used up all my rested experience gains and she hadn’t. A day or two later, because I wanted to finish my Uldaman map and guide for the blog before I out leveled it too, I queued and completed Uldaman a couple times too.

Caesandra is level 46. Pixii is level 42. The Dungeon Finder wants to send me to Zul’Farrak and Pixii to SM Cathedral. I got in a lot of trouble for creating a level divide. And for causing technical difficulties: we can’t queue using the Random Classic Dungeon option anymore.

If this partnership is going to work and take us to level 80 (or 85 as the case may be) I need to take a break from Caesandra. And not just until Lathere has time to play her Warlock, I need to wait until she’s had time to run a few dungeons without me. It’s not just about play time, I need to wait until she wants to play the Warlock without me.

I’m convinced that a month from now I’ll have all but given up on the Mage and forgotten how to play it when Lathere will be mad keen to play the Warlock again and then she’ll out-level me. I guess we’re not mentally in sync.

Because really, any leveling duo will work, regardless of character class, resurrection or not, hybrid or not, if the two players behind the characters feel like playing the same amount of hours and at the same time. Equally motivated with near-identical play schedules? That’s a heck of a lot more difficult than it first sounds.

What sacrifices have you made in order to level up with a friend? Tips?

5 Responses to “Leveling in Pairs”

  1. CarinaNo Gravatar says

    I do level most of my characters in a pair with a buddy and we have a rather simple rule: The characters we level are only played together – each of us has solo characters for solo play. Our solos get more play, true, but it’s fun nonetheless.

    Works quite well so far. :)
    .-= Carina’s last blog … The single most important dietary rule for all desk jockeys: =-.

  2. RadesNo Gravatar says

    My friend and I just started leveling a pair of lowbie chars together using the dungeon finder, myself a warrior tank and him a holy priest. Gotta love those instant queues. I too found myself two levels higher at one point (I did a couple random dungeons without him one night) and what I did to get us back on equal ground was just turn off experience for a run or two so he could catch up. We don’t do ANY questing or leveling on our own because, especially with heirloom gear, it’s waaaaay too easy to suddenly find yourself a whole level up and then not able to use the dungeon finder. ><

  3. AilineaNo Gravatar says

    My fiance and I level characters together all the time. His paladin and my mage tore through quests because it was one big AoE fest. He’d round up mobs, I’d let him build threat, and then I’d AoE them down. Our most fun pair was when we leveled two rogues together. It was such a change because instead of blasting our way through quests, we were sneaking to our target, assassinating them, and sneaking out. It cut down on the time wasted killing trash to get to our goal. i can’t explain it, but it was way more fun than the in-your-face pairs.

    However, we have our own solo characters as well, and that keeps us happy when we’re too busy to play one of our duos. You need to have an outlet somehow.

    Another friend and I also finished our last 10 levels together. I got caught up to him, then a few days later he went into Arathi Basin and got some extra XP. So I caught up again and managed to surpass him by about 10k XP (mostly from discovery points as I leveled herbalism). I think he was a little upset, but thankfully that was just one quest turn-in behind.

    It just takes some communication to maintain being equal in level, and is definitely worth it. Even if they’re just solo quests, leveling with another person is just more fun for the social aspect.
    .-= Ailinea’s last blog … Reflections: The "Catching Up During Maintenance" edition =-.

  4. NatarumahNo Gravatar says

    Me and my girl level alts together currently in an exact role opposite; we used to three-man heroics with the unholy trinity of a friend’s resto druid, my shadowpriest and her paladin tank. Now I play the paladin tank and she the (Shadow/Disc) priest.

    We level generally through instances, which are easy and quick when you are a tank/healer combo. Her playtime during the day is generally longer, but we both leave that toon untouched unless we play together or discuss a level range. (Like: level 58-60 sucks in instances, let’s do the outland quests until 60 and do TBC dungeons from then on).

    Us basically swapping role and class has the advantage of always having advice and criticism on hand, and you can discuss each other’s tricks of the trade. The only disadvantage is that at a point the toon grows on you and you want to level on, but have to wait so as not to level apart too far.

    A great tip is not to do too many randoms; some dungeons like ST and BRD take hours, and doing 2 of each in a row will sap your willpower. Do a random classic and then select a shorter instance, possibly a lower-level one you are secure in doing and knowing well. That prevents “new place” anxiety to a great degree, which is especially dangerous as a low-level tank.

    And always imagine your toon wearing level 80 gear, soloing molten core or some other achievement you want to achieve. It gives you a sense of purpose and dedication that helps in times when leveling – another – character makes you feel dizzy.
    .-= Natarumah’s last blog … Icecrown bosses and you – small tips =-.

  5. ErclesNo Gravatar says

    I’ve tried leveling as a pair or in a bigger group, but it’s never worked out. Being a one character at the time-guy I want to be able to play that character whenever it suits me.

    Though, I have always loved playing with others so I should really try getting it to work some time.

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