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Shadowlands

Shadowlands
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The Shadowlands Alpha is now up. There are no "keys" involved so don't fall for any scams. For me, the "Alpha: Shadowlands" program just started downloading and it wasn't until several hours later that I got an email invitation.

Character copy isn't enabled yet, but you can start a level 1 character in a new zone called Exile's Reach. It takes less than two hours to reach level 10 (much faster than Classic), at which point you are transported to Stormwind.

Alternatively you can create a level 50 template character which starts on Bastion in Shadowlands.

There will be a level squish from level 120 down to level 50 when Shadowlands pre-patch goes live. There will also be an item level squish. See the wowhead article. The level 50 template characters are given a full set of item level 75 gear. Based on that and the wowhead article, anyone with a current item level of 398 or higher shouldn't have any trouble questing and leveling in Shadowlands.

As you might expect from previous expansions, if you are already well-geared from BfA, the gear that's awarded from quests as you start leveling won't be of much use. That likely will change as you get closer to the maximum level which is 60.

The Shadowland zones are shown on the map to be:
  • Bastion (50-52)
  • Maldraxxus (52-54)
  • Ardenweald (55-57)
  • Revendreth (57-60)
  • The Maw (50-60)
Recently they have opened up Revendreth to template characters. These characters start at level 57 and are given a full set of item level 120 gear.


So what is Shadowlands? See the Wowhead article and be sure to watch the YouTube video.

One new feature of Shadowlands is Covenants. Once you have reached level 60, you will want to join one of the four Covenants, either Kyrian (Bastion), Necrolord (Maldraxxus), Night Fae (Ardenweald) or Venthyr (Revendreth). Each of the Covenants offer different abilities for different classes so, as we approach the launch date, you might want to read up on the latest information and try to decide which Covenant you will want to join.

One nice change that they made recently is that, once your first character has reached level 60, any alts will be able to choose their covenant at level 50 as soon as they reach Oribos. Furthermore your alts will be able to choose from one of the four starting zones where the difficulty scales to your character level and they can return to Oribos and choose a different starting zone if they wish.

There appear to be Covenant-specific armor sets (shown in the above links). There is also Legendary Armor which can be farmed in Torghast, which is a new type of dungeon for 1 to 5 players.

They have just announced that the Shadowlands release which was originally scheduled for October 26th will be delayed until November 23rd.

Ardenweald is now up for testing. You can create a level 55 character which comes equipped with item level 110 gear. Ardenweald is the home of the Night Fae covenant.

Maldraxxus is also up. Created characters there are level 52 and are given item level 90 gear.


The Shadowlands pre-patch is now up and includes both the character-level and item-level squish as well as the removal of corruption.

See the 9.0.1 Survival Guide.

If you'd like to create a new character, it's now possible to level from 1 to 50 in as little as 12 hours with the help of Chromie Time.



Currently on the Alpha, the Intro Experience for Shadowlands starts in Acherus in the Icecrown Citadel/Frozen Throne and then moves quickly to the Maw which is the Shadowlands starting zone.

They have announced that the Shadowlands Beta will start the week of July 13th and that there will be a new wave of invites going out.

About two weeks later, character copy will become available on the Beta.

The announcement featuring Ion Hazzikostas can be viewed here.

Shadowlands Beta is now up and a new, larger wave of invites will be going out. Note again that there are no keys involved so don't fall for any scams.

Level 60 template characters are now available to test covenants. The level 60 characters are given a full set of ilevel 138 gear.


Character copy has been added to the Beta. As expected, all level 120 characters are squished to level 50.

Corruption still shows on your gear but it's greyed out and hence no longer active even in BfA zones.

My rogue's item level was squished from 471 to 124, but if I equip some higher item level gear that I had saved in my bags, it goes up to 127. Considering that level 50 template characters are equipped with item level 75 gear and that level 60 template characters are equipped with item level 138 gear, anyone with similar gear should be in good shape.

My Heart of Azeroth went from item level 519 to 147. It looks like the Azerite effects are disabled while within Shadowlands but still active in older zones. My legendary back went from item level 500 to 155. Other typical gear with an item level of 455 goes to 110, similarly 460->115, 465->120, 470->125, 475->130 and 480->135. Azerite gear (helm, shoulder and chest) have the Azerite effects greyed out or inactive while within Shadowlands.

By way of comparison, the gear that's awarded from quests while leveling in the first zone, Bastion, ranges from item level 84 to 115 and isn't scrappable.


So what should you continue to do in BfA until the Shadowlands expansion arrives? It might make some sense to continue to farm Corrupted Mementos for the "We Have the Technology" achievement. Once you have that you could then buy the Gouged Eye of N'Zoth which would allow you to add a socket to a piece of your gear or maybe buy the Wicked Swarmer mount. Note, however, that it's likely that you won't be able to apply the Gouged Eye of N'Zoth to Shadowlands gear and, whatever piece of your current gear that you apply it to will be replaced by the time you reach level 60 in Shadowlands.

You can certainly continue to run raids, mythic dungeons and 5-mask horrific visions to acquire better gear as it will help you to progress through Shadowlands. Beware, though, that you will likely replace most of that gear by the time you reach level 60 in Shadowlands.

With the removal of corruption effects like Twilight Devastation, mythic dungeons and raids may be somewhat harder during the pre-patch but, for mythic dungeons, they've announced that they are scaling mythic difficulties to compensate for the loss of corruption effects. They subsequently announced that damage in the Ny'alotha raid will be reduced by 25%.

Should you work on Rajani rep so that you can buy the Lightning Forged Augment Rune for 50,000 gold? Probably not. The effects of the augment runes are nerfed from 60 agility down to 6 and I've seen Veiled Augment Runes in Shadowlands which grant +18 agility, etc.

Note, however, the agility that you get from gear is nerfed even more. Looking at 4 different pieces of my gear, the total agility went from 2163 down to 96. Flasks and potions are a little better by comparison. For example The Greater Flask of the Currents went from 360 agility for one hour down to 38.

Plan to spend your Titan Residuum before Shadowlands goes live because it gets converted to silver (1 TR = 1 Silver).

You might as well use up any bonus rolls that you have left since they won't be useable in Shadowlands. In fact, they've announced that they are eliminating bonus rolls in Shadowlands.


Getting ready

Important: they have increased the minimum and recommended hardware requirements to run Shadowlands (and likely the pre-patch). So check out this article to see if you need to upgrade your PC and/or Laptop.

Clean out your bags. Are you ever going to go back to Nazjatar or Mechagon? If you're not sure, at least put all that stuff in your bank and clear out your bags. And, after the pre-patch, you should know what gear to wear and you can scrap any lower-level corrupted gear and get those out of your bags.

Clean out your quest log. You probably have some dungeon and raid quests that you're never going to get back to and you may need the space for Shadowlands.

Stock up on healing potions and food. For food, I would just carry a few Tiragarde Sharp to hold you over until you get to Oribos and you can visit the Innkeeper there to buy a couple of stacks of Ethereal Pomegranate (restores 30k health and 24k mana over 20 seconds and scales with your character level). Note: The Ethereal Pomegranate now requires level 55 to use so maybe buy a stack of the Tiragarde Sharp to start with.

For healing potions, BfA's Abyssal Healing Potion is pretty good (restores 6,400 health at all levels). Eventually you will want to stock up on Shadowlands' Spiritual Healing Potion (restores 6,000 health at level 51 and 10,000 health at level 60).

For stat food, you can carry something like BfA's Baked Port Tato (14 haste for one hour). Cooks in Shadowlands will be able to make Tenebrous Crown Roast Aspic (30 haste for one hour) but it requires getting your cooking up to level 55/100 and all of the large meals require you to be level 55 or higher to use them.

BfA flasks like Greater Flask of the Currents (+38 Agility for one hour) are pretty good if you can afford to stock up on them (but you likely won't need them for leveling). Shadowlands Alchemy has a general purpose Spectral Flask of Power that gives +30 in a stat for one hour and scales with your character level.

If you are low on Darkmoon Prize Tickets, you might want to visit the Darkmoon Faire during the week starting the first Sunday of each month and do some quests there to build up your supply. It takes ten Darkmoon Prize Tickets to purchase one Darkmoon Top Hat (see below). But don't buy the top hats until you are ready to use them as they only last until the end of the Darkmoon Faire week.

Goblin Glider Kits and Comfortable Rider's Barding can be quite useful at times.


So what happens on day one of the expansion? (No real spoilers here). When the expansion hits, you'll get a quest, "A Chilling Summons", to visit Darion Mograine outside of Stormwind Keep. From there you will be thrown into the Shadowlands Maw and, after about an hour of questing, you will be ported to Oribos which is like a central hub.

Once you get to Oribos, I would visit your profession trainers (including Cooking and Fishing if that's your thing), to learn level 1 of the Shadowlands professions. Also pick up the Flight Point there and consider setting your Hearthstone to Oribos by visiting the Innkeeper.

If you haven't already done so in the pre-patch, check out your Spell Books (plural!) for some new spells for your class and specialization and move them to your action bars.


Professions

There are some nice changes for professions in Shadowlands. See the Wowhead article and Relics of the Past. Starting in the 9.0 pre-patch the Relics of the Past can be learned from the trainers in Boralus. If you have a lot of older materials and patterns, even as far back as Vanilla, you can use the Relics to adust gear during crafting to change the item level and character level required to equip it.

If you are considering changing professions, doing so at the start of Shadowlands makes a lot of sense. Everyone starts off on an equal footing (Shadowlands level 1) and, from what I've seen, none of the professions rely on materials from previous expansions.

For crafters, one of the biggest changes is that they will be able to create high-level BoE gear. For example, Tailors, Leatherworkers and Blacksmiths will be able to craft 8 or 9 different pieces of level 151 BoE gear. The crafted gear comes with either random secondary stats or the crafter will be able to add two specific secondary stats (haste, critical strike, mastery or versatility) to the gear. Crafters can also adjust the item level up to 168 or change the gear so that it's available to character levels 50 or 55 instead of level 60. Unfortunately you need to get to Cordial rank with Ve'Nari before you can learn Crafter's Mark II which allows you to upgrade the 151 gear to 168.

Scribes are needed to make the secondary stat addons and, as usual, Enchanters will be able to supply various enchants to the gear after it's crafted.

The 168 crafted gear compares favorably with heroic dungeon gear which is currently shown to be level 171.

In addition crafters will also be able to make 8-9 different pieces of level 190 legendary gear which can be upgraded to as high as level 235 (see the Icy-Veins Guide). And check out the upgrade mechanism. Note that, when you create a level 190 base item, it isn't really of much use until it's taken to the Runecarver and turned into an actual Legendary. That is, if you equip the base item without any primary or secondary stats, about all it does is increase your item level.

If you are crafting legendaries for your own use and you are interested in Mythic+ and Raiding, check out this article for the best spells that can be applied to specific pieces of legendary gear. This may dictate which legendary you should craft. This article shows where the spells can be found. The only problem is that you can only equip one piece of legendary gear at a time. This will likely change later in the expansion.


Dungeons and Raids:

Currently there are 8 dungeons shown for Shadowlands (see the Blizzard preview):For most of the dungeons, the gear that drops is shown to be 158 for normal, 171 for heroic and 183 for mythic.

There is also one raid at this time: Castle Nathria in Revendreth. The gear drops for the raid are currently shown to be 187 for raid finder, 200 for normal, 213 for heroic and 226 for mythic. The Castle Nathria raid is scheduled to open December 8th, starting with Normal and Heroic difficulties.

Factions:

I got my hunter up to level 60 while questing through less than half of the last zone of Ravendreth. It took a while as expected. I started receiving usable gear at around level 58. At level 60 my gear was 140 and I had replaced all of my BfA gear except the neck, back and one trinket.

At the completion of the Ravendreth story line, my gear was up to 144. My best piece of gear was a 158 chest which dropped from a rare.

You may want to save your BfA neck, back, helm, shoulder and chest if you ever plan to travel back to Azeroth for their azerite effects which are disabled in Shadowlands. At some point your Shadowlands gear will probably overpower your azerite gear and you can then get rid of them. But, quite frankly, there will be plenty to do in Shadowlands so you may never have any reason to go back to Azeroth.

The next (easiest?) step in gearing up would probably be to acquire the 151 item level crafted gear. Tailoring is fairly easy to level and everyone will probably want to equip the 151 back, although for Tailors to learn that pattern, it requires them to get to Honored with The Undying Army.

Another source of gear is from your Covenant. Completing campaign quests with them will award you special covenant gear which ranges from 155 to 197. This gear can also be purchased and upgraded using anima.

The crafted 151 gear is available for all slots except weapons. The best crafted weapons are currently level 100 (upgradeable to 117). This compares to random weapon drops from killing mobs which tend to be level 113 to 146. The other exception to crafted gear is trinkets. Scribes will once again be able to make Darkmoon cards/decks. The Darkmoon Decks are level 200 but they are unique-equipped so the other trinket slot will probably be filled by drops from mobs. Jewelcrafters will be able to make 168 necks and rings, all with gem sockets. There's a vendor in the Maw, Ve'nari, that will sell gem sockets that can be added to helms, rings, necks, bracers and belts.


They have just announced that the new Shadowlands release date is November 23rd. Prior to that, there is a scourge invasion scheduled to start on November 10th.

During the scourge invasion, some of the quests taking place in older zones award Argent Commendations which is listed as a Shadowlands currency but, as far as I've seen, they are only usable to buy level 100 gear (equivalent to 445 pre-squish gear) from the Argent Quartermaster in Icecrown. So this is a catchup mechanism if you're somewhat under-geared. Anyway, I guess the pre-patch is supposed to keep us entertained until the actual Shadowlands release.

So, what to do on the day that Shadowlands is released? If you have alts, make sure they are parked in a rest area so that they can build up the 200% rested XP bonus. You could rotate through them as the bonus on your main wears off. Note that the 200% bonus applies to the XP gained from killing mobs, mining, and picking herbs but not quest awards. Also note that the other gathering professions, skinning and fishing, don't award XP.

You can also turn on War Mode for a nice 30% XP bonus. But you might want to wait until the crowds thin out a bit otherwise you could be wasting too much time killing Horde.

Once Shadowlands is released, I would visit the next Darkmoon Faire and buy some Darkmoon Top Hats. These give you a 10% XP and reputation boost good for one hour. But be sure to visit your profession trainers in Oribos first. The quests at the Darkmoon Faire will help boost each of your Shadowlands professions by 5 points.

Note that you will encounter two different types of quests while leveling in Shadowlands. The first is Campaign quests that lead you through each zone and ultimately let you know when it's time to move on to the next zone, so it's important to finish these. Then there are other random quests that you will come across. It's still somewhat important to work on these as well as I've seen complaints in the Blizzard forums that people have trouble getting enough experience to get to level 60, likely because they concentrated on the Campaign quests.

You may also want to finish exploring each zone before moving on to the next. You should gain XP from the exploration (and you may find additional quests). And, of course, if you level up in the process, it will make the next zone that much easier. Furthermore, since the item level of the gear that is awarded from quests is based on your character level, it may help you gear up. But beware, there are level 60 areas in each of the zones.

Also, if you reach level 60 while questing in Ravendreth, you need to go on and finish the Ravendreth Campaign quest line. The last step includes an introduction to Torghast. A number of the Campaign quests also award gear that's likely to be useful.


So, you've reached level 60 and you've chosen a covenant. What do you do now?

See the Ion Hazzikostas interview and scroll down to "A Day in Shadowlands".

And here's a good overview from Wowhead.



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