Another weekend of adventure in the World of Warcraft Burning Crusade beta. I hit level 62, got my jewelcrafting up to 315, and spent a lot of time exploring the Outlands. But I didn't play all that many hours in the beta, because most of Saturday I spent doing Real Life ® stuff, including the first christmas shopping, being a firm believer in starting that early. And Sunday afternoon I spent raiding on the real servers, although our BWL raid was again cancelled, and we ended up doing AQ20. Still, playing in a guild is fun, and makes a good change from exploring the beta, which is fun too, but of a more lonely kind.
Leveling in the Burning Crusade isn't quite as fast as in the original World of Warcraft, but that was only to be expected. From level 60 to 61 I needed 415 kXP, to level 62 473 kXP, and now to 63 I will need 504 kXP. That is a strange series of numbers, the difference between 61 and 62 is bigger than that between 62 and 63. Anyway, leveling up didn't *feel* slow, and I'm not even trying very hard, I have so many other things to do in the beta. I gain most of my experience points just by doing quests, most of the time solo. But this weekend I also did several elite quests in a small group of first 4, then 3 players. There is a series of elite quests involving killing elite giants in Hellfire Peninsula, and the first quest already gives a very nice wand (or other rewards for other classes), with 84 dps and good caster stats. The other quest rewards I currently get are usually about as good as the tier 1 and tier 2 gear I'm wearing, and it is always difficult to decide whether to switch or not. And that is just the green quest reward items. The expansion will level the playing field in equipment after 2 to 4 levels, making all the current raid epics obsolete relatively soon.
After having level 62, and a mining skill sufficient to mine adamantium, the basic ore after fel iron, I started to explore the zones around Hellfire Peninsula. That was enourmous fun. I ended up exploring two zones, Terokkar Forest and Nagrand. The forest is okay, but except for harboring the big neutral city of Shattrath it isn't really special. With Nagrand on the other hand I fell immediately in love, this is probably the most beautiful zone on the whole World of Warcraft. The encroaching demonic threat to this pretty lush landscape is very well done, creating a great atmosphere.
In the middle of Nagrand is the village of Halaa. This village can be either under the control of the Horde or under the control of the Alliance. To capture the village, the side not currently owning it must kill the villages 15 guards. That is insofar fun as you can take control of one of the 4 wyvern flight points around the village. Clicking on the wyvern gives you 10 aerial bombs, and puts you on the predetermined flight path, crossing the village twice. So you can kill the guard by dropping bombs on them, as long as there aren't any defenders destroying the wyvern posts and killing you when you land. Aerial bombardement seems to be one of the fads in Burning Crusade, there were already quests with it in Hellfire Peninsula, but I do like the idea. I would have liked it even more if Halaa hadn't been bugged. Me and two other Horde players tried to take the village with a combination of bombardements and ground combat. We got the guards down to 1 out of possible 15, but the last guard was bugged. First he evaded all attacks, so we couldn't kill him. Then he despawned, but the display still showed 1 out of 15 possible guards, when in reality there wasn't any one left. So as we couldn't do the final kill, we never got the village under control, which was annoying. Blizzard will have to still work on that feature.
Speaking of work left to do, while exploring Terrokar Forest I also crossed the zone border to Shadowmoon Valley, which resulted in me being teleported back into the forest. Shadowmoon Valley isn't currently accessible, presumably due to not being finished yet. The zones of Blades Edge Mountains and Netherstorm are likewise not yet open, not yet finished. You begin to see why Blizzard couldn't have released the expansion next month.
While exploring all these zones, I kept mining all the ores I could find, and thus maxed out my mining at 375. That allowed me to mine khorium, the final rare ore. The other rare Outland ore, eternium, doesn't have its own ore nodes. It is found sometimes when mining any of the other Outland ores, fel iron, adamantium, or khorium. You also have a small chance to find a cuttable gem when mining. The one thing you don't find any more is stones, except for the dense stones in the rich thorium veins that can be found in the Outlands. There doesn't seem to be a stone level after the dense stones.
Jewelcrafting after 300 is slow going. Your chance to find a cuttable gem while mining, or as a mob drop, is very low. Thus you have to prospect fel iron ore to get the cuttable gems, adamantium can only be prospected at 350 skill, and eternium and khorium can't be prospected at all. Prospecting destroys 5 fel iron ore, and either gives you nothing, or one cuttable gem, with an about even chance. So on average you need 10 fel iron ore for one gem. You can then either cut the gem, which is usually a yellow recipe, giving you a skill point half of the time, or use two gems and some metal in an orange recipe for some jewelry. Thus you end up with 20 ores per skill point, which is a lot. So while I was doing this, cutting gems to skill up, I had a nasty surprise: Once cut, the gems don't stack any more. Which means you will have to sell them fast, or use up a lot of storage space. As in the beta people can buy gems from a temporary NPC vendor, I ended up selling the cut gems for 1 gold piece to a vendor, destroying a lot of value in the process. And up to now, with 315 skill, I haven't made a single piece of jewelry good enough for me to wear, although the green +16 int ring with some +healing bonus is coming close. But as so often in tradeskills, I had just found a blue ring in a dungeon which was better.
Glyx just posted in a recent comment here a link to a jewelcrafting guide, which has a shopping list what you need to reach level 300 in jewelcrafting: 240 copper, 120 bronze, 40 iron, 60 mithril, 255 thorium, 110 gold, 30 truesilver, 50 flask of mojo, 10 large fang, 30 malachite/tigerseye, 30 lesser moonstone, 100 shadowgem, 35 jade, 40 citrine, 45 star ruby, 35 aquamarine, 40 large opal, 20 azerothian diamond, and 20 huge emerald. The cost for this will vary widely, depending on whether you are Horde or Alliance, how old your server is, and whether you buy the stuff now or after the expansion, when everybody wants to buy it. And that is just one possible way, I personally went a route which used less shadowgems, but a lot of silver bars. But you can see how the total cost will be several hundred gold, and as high as 1000 gold under the worst circumstances. I will probably end up skilling up jewelcrafting again, just because I already gathered most of the materials for copying them to the beta server. But for people who find themselves with nothing stocked on the day the Burning Crusade comes out, I don't think I would recommend this new tradeskill, it is just too expensive for too little effect.
The good news in that is that if you are bored right now, and worrying how you are going to pay for a flying mount in the expansion, especially if you want the 5000 gold epic one, you might want to do a lot of mining, storing all the metals and gems on some bank mule, and selling them shortly after the expansion comes out, when prices will presumably go up. And of course you could speculate and buy gems now, although that would bind your money for a long time, and if too many people do it, it could backfire. One tip: if you want to hoard metals, you can store the noble metals like silver, gold, and truesilver as bars. But the base metals might be worth more as ores than as bars, even if that takes twice the storage space. Especially thorium ore might be useful to have, as the high-end gems can be prospected from that.