In the last couple of weeks most folks talking about World of Warcraft have been focused on the new expansion, Mists of Pandaria. PANDAS! PANDAS! PANDAS! I will say, this is an awesome expansion and I’m having a lot of fun with it. However, that’s not the topic of this post. No, readers, I have to be different.
In the lull after leveling my goblin priest to 85 (FINALLY) and MoP dropping, I was bored. Really bored. A few months ago I learned of a guy on Reddit that had leveled a character up to 85 entirely by gathering professions. I even wrote about it, if you recall. I know a few folks that have done this too and it intrigued me enough that I wanted to try it. So since I was bored, I rolled a new toon to do just that. I thought I’d write up a little getting started guide in case anyone else decides to do this as well. It’s not easy, and you die… a lot. But if you’re looking for a challenge or something different, it’s worth a go.
The basic premise is that you level entirely by not doing damage. You can’t hit anything, you certainly can’t kill it, and you can’t even group with someone else killing something, because that will also give you kill/combat credit. (You can find your combat stats by opening the achievement window and going to the Statistics tab) No PVP, no killing, nothing.
Gaining XP: Your options for gaining XP then are gathering professions such as Mining and Herbalism. Skinning also gives XP, but you could only skin other people’s kills which would take awhile as you’re not always around people who are out killing things. Non combat quests are also an option, these are usually quests of the nature “Go take this there” or “Gather me 10 cords of wood” or “Deliver this to Whatever Town.” These aren’t something to rely on though, so you’ll have to pick up the two gathering professions. Exploration gives XP, but not nearly enough to level you significantly. Holiday quests are a nice bonus, for those quests that don’t require killing anything, but still give XP. Some dailies are also an option such as cooking and fishing dailies, though those can not be obtained until level 10 for the newer Cataclysm dailies.
Race: Tauren. I chose this because Taurens have Cultivation, a racial that gives a +15 to Herbalism as well as a speed bonus. This has helped me gather many a time while something was deciding I looked like lunch. Taurens also get War Stomp, a stun that does not do damage, and Endurance, which increases base health by 5%. I primarily play Horde, so this wasn’t a difficult choice for me. If you are Horde-averse you could choose Dwarf, who have Explorer, which is a bonus to Archeology, giving you extra pieces for every dig and a faster survey.
Class: Druid. This is a great choice for RPing if you happen to enjoy that. I affectionately refer to this toon as my “Dirty Hippie” and what’s more hippie than a Druid? But I actually chose Druid because once you get travel forms, you can gather while in those forms. Which means flying down, picking flowers, and flying away before some baddie can choose how well done he wants his Tauren burger. Take note: Dwarves can not be Druids.
XP Bonuses: Whatever you can get, take it. I have my toon in a guild that has Fast Track, level 2 which gives a 10% bonus to killing monsters and completing quests. Sure I’m not using it on the monsters, but now and then when I do quests, it’s helpful. I also have heirlooms on my toon. I had some cloth ones left over from leveling my mage and priest, and since I’m only using it for the XP bonus and not the item stats, I just sent them to her to use. I did not previously have a helm heirloom as my rep with my guild wasn’t high enough, but now that guild rep gains have been nerfed, I have it and I did buy her a leather helm heirloom. I don’t care if she matches! Lastly for XP bonus is of course RESTED XP. Do not discount this. It’s 200% and when you can’t kill stuff or do most quests (because they all involve killing stuff) missing out on that extra XP is very noticeable.
Tips: I would recommend obtaining a Gnomish Army Knife which you might find on your auction house or get an engineer friend to make for you. You no longer need a mining pick, however having one gives a +10 to Mining. A Gnomish Army Knife gives +10 to Mining and Herbalism. (And also Skinning, but again, not really an option). Herbalism will give you Lifebloom, a healing spell. Put it on your action bar and use it, it’s better than nothing. If you’re playing a Druid (or another class that can heal) you’ll eventually get other healing spells as well, remember to put them on your action bar as well. Remove any combat spell that auto-adds to your bar, best not to even be able to accidentally hit it. You can smelt the ore you mine which will increase your Mining skill, but it will not give you XP. I wouldn’t bother unless you have managed to out level the area you’re currently gathering herbs in. Unsmelted ore will still sell on the auction house. Think about where you’re leveling. Most levels have multiple zone options on both factions, but not all are equal. For instance I found that my survivability was MUCH higher in Durotaur than it was in Mulgore. In Durotaur it seems to be a lot easier to avoid things that come after me. I have not tried out Tirisfal Glades or Eversong Woods yet.
Finally I would say, again, this is a very challenging way to play. You die. A lot. By level 3 I had died 21 times. No kidding. I’m now level 8 and that death rate has slowed down, though that is thanks to changing zones and Brewfest giving me “free” XP for dailies. Still while I was dying a lot I thought I was nuts for trying this and considered quitting many times. Keep playing though, it’s not a challenge for nothing.