The Latisha Experiment, Update #4
At roughly 7:15 pm Eastern Daylight Time last night, the Latisha Experiment reached the conclusion of its first stage when Miss Latisha Morganson, twenty-year-old disowned rich daughter of a noble and unscrupulous Stormwind merchant family, hit level 80. She did it while talking to a dead gnome (Arly, the gnome DK questgiver at Blackwatch in Icecrown). Despite being level 80, Latisha is still squicked by dead gnomes, and still washes her hands frequently after interacting with them. (She’d totally be carrying around a giant bottle of Purel, if the stuff had been invented by fellow dead-gnome-germophobes yet.)
Regular readers of Achtung Panzercow know that I rolled Latisha last year as an experiment to use my own So You Want to Be a Prot Warrior guides to actually level a warrior as hardcore Protection all the way from 1 to 80. The goals were to validate my own guides; to prove that it was not only viable, but fun, to level solo as Prot; and so I had a tank Alliance-side on Feathermoon just in case I ever needed her.
Based on the results, I’d say all three goals were fully met and then some. I used my own talent suggestions with only two minor variations (taking Improved Disarm early and not shifting out of it to pick up Vigilance until the mid-60s, and shifting the two points in Cruelty over to Shield Specialization to end up with a 15/3/53 build instead of 15/5/51). She actually required virtually no outside money from Beltar while leveling. I gave her some gold for bags to start with, and funded one 30-40 gold AH buying spree in her 20s, but other than that, she’s been completely self-sufficient, getting by on quest rewards, drops, and the money from mining and skinning auctions. She arrived at level 80 with about 2600 gold to her name, and that was without really trying to stop the leveling process just to make gold. She’s still only got a slow flying mount, and no dual-spec, but those were personal choices–I could’ve easily ground the money for either one, but I wanted to save the maximum amount to kit her out once she got her special present in the mail from Rhonin Sue.
As for leveling her, it was easy. Yes, there were bumps, and yes, I’m still hearing the female human “not enough rage!” in my sleep, but quite honestly, I found it much easier leveling her than I did leveling my enhancement shaman Sakula last year. I don’t know if that means I’m really good at Prot warriors or that I’m utter fail at enhancement shamaning (more likely the latter), but getting Latisha to 80 was really pretty unspectacular. I borrowed some help from friends at times to hammer out group quests like the ones in Dragonblight (teaming with my wife’s 80 Draenei enhancement shaman to do every group quest in Dragonblight, Grizzly Hills, and Zul’Gurub in one run) and used the LFD tool extensively once she got into Northrend. In terms of leveling, it’s still far faster to grind quests than dungeons, but the dungeons are where the loot is.
Actually, by level 79, thanks to the LFD tool and some trips to the AH, she was pretty well set for tanking normal instances. She had several pieces of Tempered Saronite crafted armor off the AH, a Riot Shield from Violet Hold, various other blue bits from dungeons, topped off with a Crusader’s Resolution from questing in Icecrown, and the Crescent of Brooding Fury from killing Ragemane in Zul’drak. She could get herself over 21,000 health with Commanding Shout up and had around 505 Defense. I never had any significant issues with her tanking a Northrend regular dungeon.
Heroics, however, are quite another matter. So as soon as she dinged 80, I immediately headed to Ironforge on a spending spree…and spend I did. A Titansteel Shield Wall. A Tempered Titansteel Helm. A Tempered Saronite Belt to replace her Cobalt Belt. Some gems (and thanks a ton, Arrens, for sending me those Enduring Eyes of Zul–a big help!) and enchants. Then I flew around and picked up all of the faction tabards I’d need and did more shopping–grabbing the Special Issue Legplates from the Argent Crusade, and swapping that very slow (speed 2.60) axe for a nice fast (speed 1.50) Fang of Truth from the Wyrmrest Accord; even though it cost me Defense points, I’m far more used to tanking with a fast weapon and very much prefer it in instances. (Plus, she desperately needed the +hit.) By the time I was done, she’d gone from 2600+ gold to less than 10…and still only 527 Defense. Not the 535 she needed to be crit-immune in heroics.
Accepting her non-heroic status, I ran a normal Utgarde Pinnacle to get some money. Interestingly, from doing the quests in there, I picked up the Silver-Plated Battlechest. Between that, and her raw Defense skill finally hitting 400…she had 537 Defense. Y halo thar, magic number.
Unbuffed: 21,251 health. 22,450 armor. 537 Defense. 17.1% dodge, 15.46% parry, 14.48% block. A Gearscore well south of 2900.
So of course, I queued to tank a heroic.
And the Wheel of Suck came up…Halls of Motherfucking Stone. Oh great.
Now I freely admit, I expected what sometimes happens when a low-geared fresh 80 tank shows up at an random instance…a chorus of “wtf?? u tank?” from DPS or healers with 6000+ Gearscores and egos to match, followed by some insults and group-dropping (or kicking). Instead, to my utter astonishment, I found that my group was perfectly cool with me being there. I had more health than everybody but the death nugget, and he only beat me by about 1200. We were all roughly around the same gear level, give or take a bit. For once, the LFD tool actually matched five people who realistically belonged in the same instance!
And thus, we ended up taking a 45-minute jaunt through Halls of Stone…but we did it. Killed all four bosses with just one wipe (totally my fault when I screwed up a pull and got three groups) plus one extra death on Sjonnir. No deaths on the Tribunal of Ages. Let me tell you, I don’t work that hard when Linedan is tanking Arthas. It was crazy, it was hard work, and it was stupidly fun to tank that place on a character that could’ve rolled need on half the loot that might drop.
So there you have it. A tank, with no heroic or badge loot whatsoever, who bought her own gear and got herself to the point where she could tank heroic dungeons with very little outside help. The only “gift” in all that loot are two of those Eyes of Zul from Arrens. The rest, she’s earned via questing, drops, or bought on the AH with her own gold.
I know that life is harder for a tank at 80 than for a DPS or healer. DPS can walk straight into heroics and get carried to an extent and gear up that way (I’ve done it, several times). A healer needs to work a bit harder at it but can still move into the world of badge collection with not a huge amount of effort. But a tank, at least a warrior tank, takes a lot of effort to get ready for heroic tanking. But here’s the proof, guys, you can do it. Don’t despair if you’ve got a baby tank in the 70s and you don’t know how you’re going to get her into Badgeland. I’ve done it. Here’s proof. It takes a bit of a judicious eye about loot, minimal faction grinding, and some gold (or friends willing to help you out).
At this point, life for Latisha diverges into two separate paths. On Feathermoon, I will continue to tank with her, probably normals and heroics, and gear her up a bit. In fact, she’s got 28 Badgers of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, so she’ll be able to get a piece of T9 very soon. (Had I run more instances while leveling in Northrend, she’d already have at least one.) Her “other” life will soon find her on Lost Isles, in the Cataclysm beta, just as she is right now as I write this, with no tier gear, no badge gear, and nothing over ilevel 200. I already know how leveling is over there with a highly-geared raider…let’s see how it is with a fresh-faced 80 who’s never set foot inside a 10- or 25-man.
Maybe I can slow down and even get some roleplay in with her now. We’ll see. One thing’s for sure, I’ve grown attached to my six-foot-one poor little rich girl. She may be my sixth character to level 80, but she’s definitely a keeper.