My plan for Cataclysm is no different. As I did for WotLK, I will race to realm first, follow strict guidelines I’ve set for myself. Several realm first attempts end up in a crash & burn. This is the result of a careless and reckless approach to leveling, one that is both unhealthy and sub-optimal. Players often omit mental, physical and nutritional preparations in their plan. I happen to know a little bit about health and nutrition, and today I’ll share with you what brainwork I’ve done on the subject.
Realm firsts require serious dedication and preparation. It is very likely that several players will gun for realm first – but expect most of your competition to drop out of the race early due to fatigue. My goal is to help my readers overcome the challenges involved and (hopefully) earn that coveted realm first.
Cataclysm will probably become accessible at midnight of launch day, as did WotLK. You must have Cataclysm installed and activated by midnight to have any chance at realm first. In the case of WotLK, a digital download was available through battle.net days before launch. Cataclysm should be no different. Activating Cataclysm on your account is a different story, though. CD Keys were not immediately available off battle.net last year, and suppliers like Shattered Crystal www.shatteredcrystal.com were instantly out of stock. The solution? Foreign CD key suppliers. I won’t be doing any promoting here, but you can PM me for more info. It’s important to place your order ahead of time, as these CD key websites get hammered on release night.
Where actual in-game strategy is concerned, here are several tips and tricks:
- Park your character in Stormwind near the flight master. Here, you can purchase Azerothian Pilot’s License (100g) from a trainer. This is the skill required to fly in the old world and Cataclysm zones. 310% flight costs 5000g and can be purchased here too.
- Set your hearth to Stormwind – Dalaran portals are gone. Stormwind acts as a portal to all Cataclysm zones.
- Druids can teleport to Moonglade and go straight to Hyjal from there.
- Clear your bags of anything you don’t need for leveling.
- Loot nothing (besides quest mobs).
- Use bare-minimum addons.
- Avoid stacking proc trinkets like [Fury of the Five Flights] or trinkets with long-lasting buffs. Trinkets with short buff times are best. [Deathbringer's Will], for example, lasts 30 seconds – far too much - and odds are you’ll end up wasting 15-20 seconds of the proc after your target dies.
- Gear and spec for burst damage.
- Glyph properly, and know which glyphs will be optimal in Cataclysm. See El’s inscription.
- You may need to relog at midnight to enable Cataclysm zoning. This was the case in WotLK.
Preparing the Player
According to Blizzard, the grind to 85 will take “about as long” as leveling from 70 to 80. I hit 81 and 82 within 6 hours each. The grind to 83 took longer; about 8 hours. For a skilled and dedicated player, I think 38 hours to 85 is a safe estimate. Now, staying awake for 38 straight hours is clearly inadvisable. First, it’s not healthy. Second, even if you do stay awake for this long, you won’t at full mental capacity for the last 18 hours (or so). Indeed, doctors report that “sleep deprivation can have some of the same hazardous effects as being drunk” (link). Have you ever played WoW drunk? I have, and I guarantee you that playing like that is not optimal.
This means we’re splitting the grind into two sessions. I advise a 22 and 16 hour block. The average player will begin to feel tired after 14 hours of waking time. This can be remedied with caffeine – stick with coffee (no added sugar) or tea. Avoid energy drinks, as they are loaded with extrinsic sugars. Don’t go overboard on the caffeine either – a single cup will do. On average, the half-life of caffeine is 2 hours, so you should be ready for sleep at the 22 hour mark. Lighter individuals should be aware of their caffeine consumption; a 120lb woman would require nearly 10 hours for caffeine to dissipate enough to allow quality sleep. Where sleep is concerned, 7 hours is the magic number. This should allow you to get 2-3 hours of REM sleep toward the end of your sleep cycle (REM is the portion of your sleep that rejuvenates the mind). Anything over 7 hours is “wasted” sleep, for our purpose.
*Tip: Cut out coffee for 10 days prior to Cataclysm release. This diminishes your system’s tolerance to caffeine – effectively allowing you to get the full benefit of it on Cataclysm release.
A Proper Diet
To put it simply, don’t eat junk. Gamers are notorious for devouring greasy foods by the bucketload and crushing sodas all day long. Besides contributing to your death, excessive sugar intake will result in a crash and concentration lapses down the road.
Stick with natural sugars: berries, fruit, honey and nuts. A small pasta salad won’t hurt either, as it will assist with long-term mental awareness. Drink water too, lots of it.
And that’s it for Realm First 85 – Part 1. If you have your own leveling tips and tricks, feel free to join the discussion!
In Part 2, we discuss specific leveling paths and zone selection. We’ll examine quest hubs by zone and pick out optimal leveling routes. Some have asked me whether gathering is worthwhile for leveling. I will analyze the experience bonus of mining/herbing and hopefully reach a final verdict where this is concerned.
I look forward to hearing the tips and tricks others may have to offer. Do you plan on rushing to 85?