My quest to level 5 World of Warcraft characters at the same time.

2007-04-04

Level 70

Wow, I have been neglecting this blog for a while it seems. First news, I'm now level 70 and taking a break from 5-boxing to do some PvP. Eventually I will go back and 2-box my warlock (with Paladin heal-bot) from 30-60 and then 5-box the remaining classes from 60-70 but that probably won't be for some time.

After Ramparts I moved on to Hellfire Blood Furnace which went surprisingly smooth. After Blood Furnace I went to Coilfang Slave Pens where I started to run into trouble. While I have to give a kudos to Blizzard for making instances more then just tank'n'spank, they don't do well for a 5-boxer. :/ After Slave Pens I went on to Underbog which posed even more trouble with fears, AoEs, etc. Around that time I decided to try and clear out a few zones worth of quests, including collections, which didn't go too bad but the xp/minute was still fairly low overall. At around level 67 I went into Mana Tombs, after capping the Terrokar towers, and farmed Spirit Shards from the first boss up to level 70. I ended with the PvP Helmet, the PvP Meta Gem in it and the Epic PvP ring.

Now that I'm 70 I'm not really 5-boxing anymore since my only goal with 5-boxing was to get 5 classes to 70. It took me under 18 days played to do 1-70 5-box which I'm happy with since it likely would have taken 50-100 days played to get 5 level 70s one at a time.

As mentioned earlier, I think I will use my level 70 Paladin to follow my level 30 warlock around until he hits 70. Once there I will likely level on rest XP alone my other 5 characters, most likely just farming trash from Outland instances or doing quests that yield good rewards.

2007-03-13

Questing

After leveling from 60-62.5 in Hellfire Ramparts I can say that I am completely burnt out of that instance. I never was able to kill the last boss but I have come to the acceptance that Outland instances are not designed for a 5-boxer and there will be some encounters that are simply too challenging for me to beat at the appropriate level. For a regular group the fight wouldn't be nearly so hard but with my setup I can't effectively avoid fire spits and his front cone AoE attack.

At 62.5 I decided I couldn't take anymore Hellfire Ramparts so I decided to go questing. I ran over to Zangarmarsh and started doing every non-collection quest available. Doing that, I was able to bring in the rest of level 62 and hit 63 plus some. Hellfire Peninsula had a lot of collection quests but luckily Zangarmarsh has very few which is very nice for 5-boxing. I think I'm going to finish up all non-collection quests in Zangarmarsh and then head off to Hellfire Blood Furnace until level 64 at which point I will hit Coilfang Slave Pens.

One of the nice things about Burning Crusade is that there is a new instance at every level and the creatures in the instances are within 3 levels of each other. I have found that I level the fastest when I'm at the top end of the level range for an instance so now that I'm 63 I get a new instance every level which should help keep things interesting and keep the amount of disenchanted loot to a minimum. (http://www.wowwiki.com/Instances_by_Level)

I will probably take a break from instance grinding to do all the non-collection quests in each zone as well but due to running around with 5 grouped characters, I don't expect to be able to level off of non-collection quests alone. Instances are also better xp/minute though they can become quite repetitive.

On the macro/control front I respecced my Paladin to Protection/Retribution and my shaman to Restoration/Enhancement. I was finding that with my Paladin being the leader I needed someone else to be healer because anytime I was healing meant that was time I couldn't also be moving all my characters around. Now the shaman is the healer and when in-combat his follow-macro doesn't work. This means that my shaman will follow me into battle and start swinging but I can move the other 4 characters around freely without interrupting his heals. I do have an in-combat follow macro bound elsewhere so I can move him back into the fight where necessary but for the most part he stands still and heals/swings wherever he lands. With this new setup I am killing slower (only 2 real damage dealing classes) but I have found that my overall efficiency has gone up because I wipe less now and I can handle more pulls with less setup then I could before.

2007-03-01

Hellfire Ramparts

Outland instances are great. 710xp per kill in there while in a group of 5 which means once I get the instance down to the point of chain-pulling the whole thing (still learning the pulls at the moment) I'll be able to easily pull in 1500-2000 xp/minute, compared to the 500xp/minute I was struggling to maintain in mainland (for comparison, my priest/hunter solo leveled would pull in about 1000xp/minute grinding to 60 pre-BC).

In regards to Ramparts trash, there are a few groups that are very tricky to pull due to patrols plus spellcasters but I am able to use line of sight to get them where I want. I have to take a number of short "breaks" during the instance in order to wait for a patrol to show up or leave but for the most part it can be chain-pulled front to back.

The first two bosses in Hellfire Ramparts are pretty easy (orc and demon), the orc I can chain-pull right through now if my blessings are up and the demon I can kill reliably as long as I go in full health/mana. The drake + orc at the end is another story though and I have yet to even get to phase two.

The main problem is that all my characters are melee which means when he drops a fireball they all get hit. This in turn means I have to drag my characters out and then reposition them so they are facing the orc again. Once that is done I can usually get one heal off before another fireball hits everyone. In the end I just can't keep up on the healing, not because of mana or DPS but because I spend too much time running around dodging fireballs.

The next time I clear to him I think I am going to try putting all my characters except the Paladin into melee with the orc and then run away from the group with my Paladin. If all goes well my Paladin heals should keep me as the only one on the dragon threat list so I only have to move him around and heal the rest of the group. When the drake lands the Paladin should have aggro and he can stay alive until the orc drops at which point I can commence phase 2. Once there we'll have to see how things go before I determine how I will handle it.

Level: 60.5

2007-02-26

Outland

I apologize for the lack of updates lately, I haven't been playing much due to getting a little burnt out of WoW. I continued to do BRD up to level 56 when I finally went to Dire Maul. BRD has too many patrols. While you can pull them out it really slows down a lot having to stop and wait for patrols. Because of this I would always pull and just try to deal with the adds mid-fight but that would often end in a run back from the graveyard.

Dire Maul East, while better, still had patrol problems and unfortunately the instance is full of non-elite low-experience creeps which aren't a challenge at all and serve no purpose other then to slow you down. I was able to kill every boss in Dire Maul East except for Hydrospawn, mainly because he requires a good bit of positioning and movement so I can't just melee him down. :/

At 57 I got a warlock to summon me to Outland and things finally turned around. Grinding outdoor non-elites until 58 I was able to pull in my xp/minute then in Dire Maul. Once I hit 58 I started questing which was a nice change of pace from the grind and I have started to get my characters nicely geared up in Outland greens. I plan on finishing up some of the Hellfire quest lines (mainly the ones that end with a group quest) and then hitting Hellfire Ramparts, likely at level 60.

Again, nothing new on the macro front really, things have gotten into a pretty regular routine now and I'm looking forward to getting into the winged instances of Outland.

2007-02-07

Level 54

2 weeks vacation = 50 levels.
1 week back at work = 4 levels.

As expected, working has severely impacted my leveling speed though I am still chugging away towards level 70. I managed to get Sunken Temple down and deal with the Hex spell. What I would do is have my warrior charge in and demoralizing shout spam to tank everything until all of the hexing creeps in the group were dead. If all goes well I can usually at least get the last one targeted before the warrior needs a heal at which point the Paladin is no longer a target for getting hexxed (Paladin is lowest threat against the primary target most of the time). Once that heal went off on the warrior the Paladin would usually pull aggro and proceed to tank everything but the main target for the rest of the fight.

One thing that annoys me about Sunken Temple, and almost every pre-BC instance, is the fact that the level range of creeps is so vast and often you have to kill the low level creeps to get to the boss. Take Sunken Temple for example. In order to fight four of the bosses you first have to clear the top floor and kill the trolls holding the shield. The mini-bosses are level 52 which isn't too bad but the trolls around them are as low as level 48. Meanwhile, down in the mid floor the creeps around the last boss are as high as level 52 and the final boss is level 55! So if I go in at say, level 53, appropriate for killing the final boss I have to wade through creeps 5 levels below me just to lower the shield then wade through creeps 2-3 levels below me to actually get the last boss opened up. Only towards the end of the instance do you start getting good experience/loot for a level 53. :(

I did try BRD out and while I had a bit of trouble it was mainly due to me not being patient. I would constantly let runners get away (too lazy to judge justice on everyone because it eats my mana which means downtime) and I would routinely pull when I knew that there was a patrol nearby that would likely add. I just hate waiting around for a pull just to get a patrol first. In the end it would have been smarter to do that as I wouldn't have died so much but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. I ended up killing the first couple bosses (level 51/52) several times until they no longer dropped anything good for my characters and then I went back to Sunken Temple as the experience per hour was better there. Now that I'm 54 a lot more of the instance will be opened up to me (many bosses are 56) and the pulls should be simplified now to the point where an add group won't be so much trouble.

On the macro front I don't have anything new really, just more of the same style macros I have been using all along. I am getting much better at positioning and whatnot which is nice as I'm able to handle some bosses that I can't just charge and spam.

2007-01-31

Level 50 and back to work.

My 2 week Burning Crusade launch vacation is now over and I go back to work in... 4 hours so my leveling will likely slow down a lot. :D

I did manage to pull off level 50 before my vacation ended however and I cleared all of Sunken Temple except Eranikus (level 55). I would like to take a moment and comment on how much I hate Maraudon. First off, the instance is *incredibly* difficult without ranged or AoE damage. Specificly, those slow moving slimes that do massive AoE damage to anything in melee range and the huge packs of non-elite larva and snakes. While I was able to do the larva and the snakes just fine those slimes would usually wipe me unless I carefully kited them for 5 minutes shooting with bows/guns/lightning/wrath. Unfortunately none of my characters are geared/specced for ranged damage so it took me forever to drop enough of them to get past. To make matters worse though, you can't farm Maraudon from the portal. If you zone-in via the portal there is no way to get out of the instance except A) dying and running back to a different entrance or B) clearing all the way back to one of the other entrances. Yesterday I went back to Maraudon to finish the Princess quest and spent about 30 minutes clearing up to and including her and then I spent an hour running out of the instance clearing trash far below my level and getting loot that was already outdated and very little experience. By the end I was so pissed off at the instance I finally just got myself killed and spirit resurrected.

Sunken Temple is far better in my opinion. The one problem I ran into in Sunken Temple is the hex spell. My Paladin is usually off-tanking all but the primary creep so he is usually the target of any hexes that go off. Unfortunately he is also the only class that can dispel the hex. On top of that, all my other characters movement is based on his movement so when he gets hexed the other characters finish what they were doing and more or less stand around. To make matters even *worse*, when you get hexed target of target stops working for those around you so my other characters can't even pull a target off him. This means I have to manually control each character which is about 5x less efficient as controlling them all from the main computer, especially since I have most of their movement keys unbound (have to move with the mouse exclusively). Asside from that though the instance overall was pretty easy. I had to do a little bit of cheese to kill the green dragons when they conned red to me that involved tanking in a corner to avoid knockback but in the end I dropped them without too much trouble. I also had a little trouble with the charm that the Prophet does because he would take over my Paladin and, like the hex, that really impacts me heavily (more so then a normal group).

Next up is Blackrock Depths, the first few bosses in there are only level 51, which should go over quite smoothly since it's a fairly open instance (easy to get into/out of for quick resets).

2007-01-28

Level 47

After Scarlet Monastery Cathedral I moved on to Zul'Farrak where I just cleared up to the graveyard and witch doctor (skipping the overseer) and reset. I repeated this several times to get to level 43 where I did the stairway event for the first time which was a lot of fun. At about level 44 I was able to kill the last boss, whatever his name is, after the stairway event and with a little luck I could kill the overseer. At 45 I was able to reliably kill all the bosses in Zul'Farrak and clearing to the final boss took about an hour.

A couple of notes about these last few levels. One, I got 3 epics, each at a 0.25% chance per ZF run. :D
Jang'thraze the Protector + Sang'thraze the Deflector = Sul'thraze the Lasher

I got 3 of each half putting a pair on my warrior, my paladin and my rogue. Unfortunately the rogue already has a better main-hand so it's just for show, especially since he can't use the two-handed epic. The warrior currently dual wields them since I can't equip the epic until level 50 and the paladin has converted it to an epic since he has a better main-hand already.

Another neat item in Zul'Farrak is The Hand of Antu'sul, a little newbie version of Thunderfury. :D It has an almost identical proc as Thunderfury, just less of a slowing effect and lower damage. I have two of them, one on my rogue and one on my Paladin and between the two of them it procs fairly often.

After farming Zul'Farrak until I got all the loot I wanted (a second set of Big Bad Pauldrons was the final item) I went back to Uldaman. I only cleared Uldaman once, mainly so I could say I did it but unfortunately the instance isn't any higher level then Zul'Farrak and the drops were none too impressive. :( I have now moved on to Maraudon and will be making my first attempts at it today. I have gone through the loot from the instance along with the levels of the creatures in there and it looks like I will be doing Maraudon for some time yet. The final boss is level 51 and there isn't much in the way of instances after that until Sunken Temple so my guess is I'll be doing it until about 50/51.

2007-01-25

Level 43

Scarlet Monastery was great. I did my first Cathedral clear at about level 37 and at level 38 I was able to clear Cathedral, including both bosses, in under 30 minutes (though I did skip some pulls in the outdoor areas). Compared to Herod, the Cathedral bosses are a piece of cake because they don't do any AoE, just tank and damage deal, healing a couple times as necessary. I finally did manage to get Herod down without cheesing him but it takes a lot of effort on my part keeping everyone alive and out of his AoE.

After SM Cathedral... nothing. I went over to RFD and farmed that for a bit to get a few specific drops but it is the same level as Cathedral. Then I went over to Uldaman and cleared the first half, up to Lady Ironaya which is also the same level as Cathedral. I tried to push through to the second half of Uldaman and I was able to clear all but the last boss who is simply too high level. So, there I was level 42 and stuck. Uldaman is too high, SM Cathedral is too low. I ended up going to Zul'Farrak just clearing up to the first boss until level 43 and now I'm clearing up to the stair event which I will say is a lot of fun.

As to my character development, the class makeup I have is crazy in terms of damage output. Leader of the Pack (+5% crit), Battle Shout (+131 AP), Blessing of Might (+115 AP), Improved Leader of the Pack (+4% life regen on crit), Strength of Earth (+41 strength), Grace of Air (+49 agility), Flametongue Totem (+9 to +28 fire damage per swing). In the end I have about 700 attack power on each character and 20% crit chance on all but the warrior/paladin (no crit talents on them). The rogue, druid and shaman dish out a ton of damage and the paladin and warrior make for some great tanks together (warrior holds primary creep while paladin holds the rest).

2007-01-22

Level 36

After RFK I moved on to Scarlet Monastery graveyard to see how things went in there. I was able to clear it without any problem so I gave SM Library a try next which actually wasn't so bad either... until Arcanist Doan and his Blast Wave he does at 50% health. What would happen is I would work him down like normal and when he got to 50% health and started his Blast Wave warning I would run out and tell my guys to all follow me. Unfortunately due to latency they were all about a second behind and that second lead to them getting hit by the blast wave and my paladin not getting hit. At that point I would work him down with the paladin only which is painfully slow. The strategy I ended up coming up with is just having the paladin melee Doan with the shaman/druid standing back healing the whole time. After his blast wave goes off I would then send everyone in to finish the job. While this worked well, in my opinion it's a bit cheesy of a strategy and I would rather figure out a real way to handle things.

After farming Library until about 35 I moved on to give the Armory a try because I was painfully bored of Library. The armory went surprisingly well up until Herod. The problem with Herod is two fold. First off, he has his whirlwind attack that suffers the same problem as on Doan, I just can't get my guys out fast enough due to latency and /follow. Also, because he is 5 levels higher then me he gets crushing blows almost every hit which destroys most of my characters in two hits, the paladin and warrior in 3-4 hits. After a lot of practice and work on my micro-managing I was able to get him to 20% but he has a 2 minute enrage that he does at 30% or something which increases his damage output significantly.

Currently I am working on Herod and trying to master the micro-managing but it's going slow. I have improved a few of my macros to make things easier such as creating a heal macro for each party member on my shaman so I can quickly heal any of my characters without having to target them. I think with a little more practice I should be able to take out Herod, though it will take a lot of effort compared to clearing trash that I can almost do in my sleep now.

On the plus side, except for Herod and Doan I can clear SM Library in about 25 minutes and SM Armory in about 30 minutes at level 36, chain pulling the whole thing and rebuffing (blessings) on the run. This is far faster then any SM PUG I have done which is quite nice. The down side of course is that clearing an instance that easily makes for a really boring run... especially when you have to do it 6+ times to level.

2007-01-19

Level 31

It's been a couple days since my last post but I'm still grinding away on my 5 characters. All have just hit level 31 and I'm having a blast in RFK. RFK is the first instance that is "winged" which really makes leveling go faster. By winged I mean that you can enter the instance and skip right to the hard stuff without clearing through a bunch of trash. In BFD, for example, you had to clear through level 20 creatures to get to the boss who is level 28. This made it so if you were appropriate level for the last few creeps (level 26/28) you would get very little to no experience for the stuff in the beginning. With RFK I can jump right into the second half (right path) and be getting good experience for the whole thing. I think I'm going to keep doing RFK for another level and then move on to SM, which is the first truly winged instance.

As for technique, I have been trying to get better at fully utilizing my characters. The shaman, paladin and warrior are pretty solid and I'll be working on the druid next, trying to do more with multiple forms and whatnot (right now he is permanently in cat form).

Rant: I hate class quests. Shaman quests have me running all over the world to complete and the rogue quests aren't much better plus I had to grind out my lock picking skill which was not fun. Luckily, all my class quests are done except the water totem quest which I'm slowly doing piece at a time.

2007-01-17

Level 23

I caught my Blood Elf up with the rest of my characters yesterday and did my first Wailing Caverns run with all 5 characters. While they were a little high level for the instance I was expecting it to be fairly rough for my first run but it actually went very smooth. I think I died once or twice due to too many adds in a couple pulls but I'm really starting to get the hang of things.

Once the Paladin was in the group with the rest of them I completely redid all of the macros for all of them. I set it up so that the target everyone is following is the focus for everyone and all the macros are based off that. I did it this way so if the Paladin (current leader) ever dies I can just switch focus (with a macro) and everything will continue to run, just short one character. I also cleaned up a lot of my macros and tried to fully utilize the new macro functionality with patch 2.0 to get everything working smoothly with as few buttons as possible.

On a note unrelated to 5-boxing but related to WoW, Paladins are over powered for group tanking. All I have to do is put concentration aura up and have 5 points in the talent that lowers interruption from getting hit. Then I have my warrior tank the primary target with the other four characters beating on it while my paladin just swings and heals. Once the first heal goes off he picks up all aggro except the primary target but because he is in plate with a shield he can tank it all just as good as a warrior. For the rest of the fight the paladin mostly just heals himself while auto-attacking the creep the warrior is on. Meanwhile, the other 4 just peel targets off the paladin one at a time until everything is dead. Using this strategy I have been able to take on a number of double or tripple pulls and chain pulling is easy.

Back to WoW, at level 23 without looting anything but bosses I was able to do WC in 1 hour netting me 10,000xp. At that rate it's under 3 hours per level which isn't too bad at all (just over twice as long as it would take solo questing/grinding). I'll be moving to SFK after one more WC run and hopefully my XP gain will increase noticeably (WC is almost all green to me now).

2007-01-16

Level 22 + Blood Elf

After much frustration in Ragefire Caverns and Wailing Caverns I finally figured out why my druid wouldn't switch targets. Apparently, "/startattack focus" won't change targets if you are already attacking. Instead you have to put "/target focus" followed by "/startattack focus". Once I figured that out (about level 20) I was able to clear Wailing Caverns on my own with my 4 guys. It took a while the first time but I am now to the point where I can easily clear the whole thing in about an hour. The XP and money income from it is far better then questing 4-box so I have switched over to farming that instead.

I ended up getting my 4 characters to level 22.75 before the expansion came out and I created my Blood Elf Paladin, the 5th class in my combo. In the first night I got him up to level 15 and I'm hoping to get him to level 22 and in with my 5-man group by the end of the day. I must say, leveling in the Blood Elf starting area is so easy compared to the other starting locations. Without intimately knowing the quests I was able to beat all previous leveling time records by a long shot and I had over a gold by level 12, even with buying a weapon off the auction house (something I usually never do).

2007-01-12

Level 10

I hit level 10 last night and got my druid his bear form. It's actually the first time I have trained since about level 4 on most of the characters and the first time I have trained on the druid so I spent quite a bit of time setting up my macros for abilities.

I am trying to really utilize the new macro commands to optimize my play. For example, I have one action button on every character dedicated to the "I'm in combat and spamming one key". The rogue does sinister strike 5 times then eviscerate, the shaman does totems then a shock, etc.

I also have the macro change stances to the appropriate stance to cast a spell so for my druid if I press my thorns macro and I'm in bear form it will shift me out first then cast thorns. For targetting everything has a [target=party1target] in it so every ability will be directed at the taraget of the leader. I am thinking about changing this to be [target=focus] instead and then having a macro to set focus for each character.

2007-01-11

Day 1

I picked one of the new realms to start over on and created 4 out of my 5 characters (the fifth is a Blood Elf Paladin which I can't get until Tuesday) and leveled them up to 6 together.

Character Makeup:
Orc Warrior
Tauren Druid
Troll Shaman
Undead Rogue
Blood Elf Paladin (not created yet)

The technique I'm using at the moment is to have everyone follow the druid (this will change to the paladin once I get him up and running). When they are within range the warrior charges while the druid drags the other characters around behind the creep. Once behind the creep the rogue backstabs and the shaman earth shocks. At this point everything is dead by the time the backstab, charge, earth shock and autoattacks go off. Long term the druid will likely be in cat form doing shred with the paladin just healing everyone and dragging people into proper positioning with auto-follow.

2007-01-09

MultiBox

My software, MultiBox, is finally to a point where it's ready for a little bit of public consumption. It's got a couple bugs and I still have a short To-Do list for it but it's to the point where I can now play WoW using it instead of Synergy. The main things it has that Synergy doesn't is keyboard/mouse broadcasting (natively, not a cheesy hack like I made for Synergy) and more importantly, relative mouse movements all the time. With Synergy you have to move your mouse to the other screen, then press a hotkey to lock to screen, then you can start mouse-looking. When done, press the hotkey again then move off the screen. With this software you can simply move to a screen and start mouselooking immediately.

I wrote up a little thing about it at http://www.dual-boxing.com (a new multi-boxing website/forum) and in order to consolidate the comments, feedback and questions I'll just link to that here: http://www.dual-boxing.com/forums2/viewtopic.php?t=29.

Over the upcoming weekend I will beging working on adjusting and tweaking the software while putting it through a sample run of probably levels 1-10 using the class makeup I intend to start out with in the expansion.