Okay, so I started playing WoW last August, due entirely to my good RL friend Yttrium called Ava (her first main was Avalei, and it sort of never wore off), who has since abandoned me and gone to live in a state Far, Far Away. We used Recruit-A-Friend, and Ytt started a druid called Deciduous (cause druids can be trees, see? C'mon, it's clever!) and I began the descent into madness known as Kialesse.
Now, the thing about RAF is that your accounts are linked, see, so whenever you play together, you GET THREE TIMES THE XP. Groovy, yes? Plus, since it's RAF, you're almost certainly playing with someone who has a high-level if not max character and who kind of knows what's going on. This was terrific for me. I didn't have a clue. When I started playing, if you were to look up "clueless" in the WoWtionary, you would find a picture of Kia, looking... um... clueless. So Ava, who was at that time a core raider with LOKI, shook her head, laughed at me, and then proceeded to haul me around various ports of call and tell me things like, "You're a hunter, Kia. You need to go get a pet. Like, now." And, "You're a hunter, Kia. Stay out of melee, for the love of everything that is decent. Shoot things in the face. Let Jake do the hard work."
So we start parading around Azeroth, kicking low-level mob butt, and we worked our way up the leveling ladder wicked fast, because of the aforementioned triple xp. I remember skipping level 55 entirely. Not kidding. I had finished about eight or nine quests, got Ava to pop on Deciduous and meet me to turn them in, and I went straight from 54 to 56. After 60, the triple xp wears off, so then I had a nice grind on my own to get to 70 before Wrath came out. I made it with three weeks to spare, and spent those three weeks on the Isle of Quel'Danas, desperately trying to make some money and getting ganked out of my mind. To this day, I still detest PvP. Anyway, by the time Wrath finally arrived, I had been sponsored into LOKI, had had my first and only Kara run (BOTH the gun and the bow dropped for me ON THE SAME RUN. TOTALLY EPIC), and had a whole group of people (OP Black Temple raiders, no less) to run with.
So, what's the point to all this nonsense? Just this.
I had no clue what it was like to really level by myself.
Now, I hear what you're saying.
"But, Feathers! You're a whining pansy! Do you know how much they've nerfed since I leveled my first toon! Blizz has all but handed you the first sixty levels! Back in my day, you had to walk until level 40!" /shake cane and scowl.
Yes, I understand that. However, this is about me, not you, so stuff a sock it in. I've started a new character on a new server. Of course, she's still a hunter, and I actually named her Kialesse again, but that's irrelevant. The point, which I am desperately driving towards, is to chat idly (read: whine) about some of the idiosyncrasies (read: sucky parts) of leveling that I missed realizing the first time around. Baby Kia is only level 25, as of an hour ago, so I imagine there will be a couple more (whiny) posts as I fumble my way toward 80 again. So, I begin with:
Bag space, and it's equally rare companion, Money. No, not Shaft. I'm not talking about the Money. I mean coinage. You know, currency. Gold, people, for the love! That which one pays out to trainers and people who sell you Ice Cold Milk and Sharp Arrows. Seriously, the first thing Ytt did when we started our characters was to hop on her tailor and make us a slew of these and send them in the mail along with I can't remember how much cash. Enough that I didn't need to worry about whether I could pay to learn how to Track Beasts. Ever since then, for every alt I've started (I think it's in the area of mayhap a dozen - there are currently 7 alts living on Darkspear) the first thing I've done is jump on Big Kia and send New Alt a bunch of bags and money.
When one is starting on a new server and one doesn't HAVE a maxed out character with a couple thousand gold just gathering dust in one's bank, one is Out Of Luck. One must therefore actually go out and, like, earn the money to pay for Track Beasts and Sharp Arrows and Ice Cold Milk. Which becomes a horrifying balancing act along the lines of that which is frequently seen in Cirque du Soleil. "Oh noes!" one is heard to cry. "I have but fifteen silver! It will cost me twenty-two to learn Scorpid Sting! GAHHH!!!"
Second, Traveling. Seriously, Blizz. Did you have to make the zones so bloody large?
/waits for the outcry of "Feathers, you're Alliance! You don't have to deal with THE BARRENS!" to die down.
I submit for your perusal the following:
See that arrow way, way at the top of Darkshore? That's me. See the little QuestHelper question mark way, way at the bottom of Darkshore? That's where I'm going. Sweet mercy.
Yes, I KNOW that Blizz JUST nerfed the first mounts so that you can get them at level 20. I'm very well aware. However, it still costs 4 gold to train and buy a mount. When I dinged 20, I had 37 silver. I intentionally went to Bloodmyst Isle, just to blitz through content that would give me enough money to buy the bloody thing. And it did, eventually. After I ran around like crazy, a mad killing machine slaughtering everything in my path for the 97 copper which it dropped. I learned that my favorite NPCs in the game are the Flightmasters.
In my screenshots folder, that picture is seriously titled "Thank God, A Flightmaster". 'Cause, darn it, the run from Auberdine to Astranaar is LONG.
Finally (for now, there will be other things to whine about later. I haven't made it to Stranglethorn yet, see?), weird questing patterns. This is totally a vanilla WoW thing that I didn't know the first time around, because as I've said, I was young and naive and completely clueless. It doesn't apply to the lands added for either BC or Wrath, presumably because by then, the designers had learned their lessons and neatly organized the questing in the new zones. Seriously, the draenai starting zones? LOVE THEM. Everything goes in gorgeous concentric circles around well-stocked villages. This is probably why I love draenai SO. FREAKIN'. MUCH. and have at least four draenai alts that I can think of off the top of my head. Bloodmyst Isle is like heaven. I even like all the red.
Once you hit 20 and tie up all the ends in Bloodmyst, then you have to go to Azeroth proper, and then all hell breaks loose.
At one point, Baby Kia had quests in Ashenvale, Stonetalon Mountains, Wetlands, Dun Morogh, Elwynn Forest and Darkshore. Simultaneously. Really. It was enough to make me want to weep. It takes days to get anywhere, and once you do get there, then you have to take days to get back again.
Oh, fine. You're still going on about how much worse it used to be. I know, I know, I know. Cut me some slack, yeah? In a way, this is the first time I'm doing this alone. I reserve the right to whine about leveling. I will continue to do so until I get to 80, and can find a whole new world of things to whine about.
Oh, and apologies for the Wall of Text critting you for 9000. Go visit Aertimus, she's a wicked good healer and will make it all better. Plus, she hardly ever whines.