Low-level dungeon soloing: an Unconventional Leveling project

For over a year now, I’ve had the desire to level a toon unconventionally.

I’ve toyed with the idea of doing some iteration of this, whether it be perma-death, Ironman, or something else along those lines. However, doing a perma-death toon has never seemed to keep my interest for long. I’m not sure why, but there was a lack of focus for some reason, and so my unconventional leveling itch has remained unscratched.

However, recently I got the itch again – call it pre-5.2 doldrums, or something – and one day at work, I was inspired to start another hunter. Yes, I know… but hey, another hunter: that’s good, right?

Bresmaster Hadlun: a transmogger's delight, am I right?

Brewmaster Hadlun: a transmogger’s delight, am I right?

From that moment of inspiration came the idea of low-level dungeon soloing.

I’ve got to be honest: the rules aren’t set in stone. However, I did come up with some standards that I’m following at the moment.

– No BoA/heirlooms used during solo dungeons. Any other gear is acceptable, including dungeon sets, BoEs, quest rewards, crafted gear, Auction House items, etc.

– No pre-buffing by other players.

– Professions are in full effect!

– As are consumables!

– Any other buffs are allowed, including scrolls/elixirs, potions, profession buffs, foods, enchants, bandages, buffs from pets, racials, etc.

– Addons are allowed. I’m mainly using NeedToKnow to keep Mend Pet rolling on my tank.

– As this isn’t perma-death, there is no death penalty other than that which is already in the game.

– – –

Leveling is insanely easy at lower levels of the game. I donned the heirloom shoulders, chest and cape early on this time, because I wanted to get to the level 15 dungeons ASAP, and the levels flew by. I was in Deadmines before I knew it, and I capped XP after that run, because I was already 17. I’ve run several dungeons since then; at 17, Deadmines, Ragefire Chasm, Shadowfang Keep, and Wailing Caverns – which the Dungeon Finder seems to love to put me in – are available, and I’ve been able to put together a nice set of mostly blue pieces. On Sunday, I uncapped XP until I hit 19, and that’s where I plan to stay for a short time. I’ve also done a little questing to supplement a piece here and there, and will likely continue to do so as I progress.

Hadlun (armory link) – click to enlarge:

Hadlun - Armory

Hadlun – Armory

This past Sunday, with a few lesser pieces equipped than what you see above – some of them unenchanted – I decided to tackle Deadmines by myself. I’m specced into Beast Mastery since I want the pet to have a DPS/threat ability.

It was scary, at first!

At level 19, hunters don’t have many key abilities and features that make extreme soloing so great for them. Here are some pertinent ones that are unavailable:

  • Pet: Thunderstomp
  • Glyphs, including Glyph(s) of Marked for Death, Mending, Mend Pet, Animal Bond, Revive Pet, etc.
  • Any talents other than Tier 1
  • Any real AoE
  • Misdirection
  • Deterrence
  • Feign Death
  • Any traps, other than Narrow Escape
  • Any DPS cooldowns
  • Any stuns or silences, other than Scatter Shot
  • Kill Shot, Tranq Shot, Distracting Shot, Master’s Call, Camo, Stampede

So, without all of that (and more), why even do this? Well, because it’s fun, and it’s a challenge.

As I said, I stepped into Deadmines on Sunday, at level 19, to see what I could do. I took my pet bear – the same one I had when I made the toon – as my tank.

The worst thing is definitely the trash. I made the decision early on, knowing that I didn’t have all of the power from gear that I wanted, that I would go until things just got too rough. And I did die a few times along the way, but I managed to make it to the pirate ship.

Glubtok, Helix, and Foe Reaper, the first few bosses, were actually pretty easy. Stay out of bad stuff, keep heals on the pet, shoot/KC until dead. The trash before Foe Reaper was pretty tough, as was the trash after. The trash before Admiral Ripsnarl wasn’t bad at all, because you can use the cannons to kill most of the pirates. However, Ripsnarl was where it all came apart.

I made three attempts. At my level and with my gear, I didn’t quite have the firepower… or the Stamina. Ripsnarl hits hard, meaning that it’s imperative that Mend Pet stays up. Additionally, the Vapors can become overwhelming. So I didn’t complete the dungeon, but I got quite a bit further than I thought I could.

– – –

The plan is coming together. I plan to gear up my character at certain levels and see what I can solo. It makes a nice change from what I’ve been soloing recently on Mushan, which, since I’m not that good of a player, has been Naxx-25, Onyxia-25, Sarth-10 3d, and the like.

I also have a small list of dungeons that I haven’t ever completed, like Dire Maul. I’m hoping that this will give me some incentive to finally run places like that.

I have to say, I’m pretty excited about this project. It’s a pure-fun challenge to take on, and I’ve always enjoyed the gear game, so the ‘no heirlooms’ rule gives me the opportunity to do that.

It’s difficult to look at the things that become available soon and not salivate. Intimidation and Go for the Throat at 20, along with Thunderstomp! The gear I can get out of Stockades and Blackfathom Deeps! Plus, I’ve rolled Engineering, so I can level that higher at 20 for better bombs and so on… but no, I’ll wait. This is why I’m doing this, after all. Starting a new toon certainly lends to an appreciation of certain abilities a bit more, particularly in a situation like this. But I’ll take my time doing it, since time is not of the essence.

I’ll check back in periodically to let you know how it’s going!

– – –

Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!


5 Comments on “Low-level dungeon soloing: an Unconventional Leveling project”

  1. Felspar says:

    How’s this going??

    I’m doing pretty much the same thing and loving it! Must have started about the same time as you – around the beginning of April. No rules as such – I”m allowed heirlooms in dungeons – just aiming to have fun and actually enjoy the game rather than getting consumed in the rush to 90!

    In terms of aims, the main one is to solo every dungeon / instance at as low a level as possible. I’m also trying to do as much pvp as possible – something I’ve done very little of before.

    One of the first things I enjoyed was the Silverpine Forest questline – there’s a big story that the vast majority of people will never have seen. You even have to keep going for a number of quests after you get the questing award.

    I’m now level 30 and have settled into a routine – only ever have xp gain turned on for pvp. Otherwise xp is always off.

    So far have solo’d RFC (13), Deadmines (15 apart from Admiral Ripsnarl who I needed to level to 16 to get), WC (17), SK (20), BFD (23), Gnomeregan (28 – should probably have tried this a level or 2 earlier).

    Just been trying SM Halls, but can’t work out how to do the archer part! Might have to level a bit, but the mechanics of the fight seem tricky to solo past! (I found your blog when looking for inspiration on-line)

    Keep hunting,


    • Mushan says:

      I haven’t done much with it since I wrote this back in January, to be honest. I did manage to solo Deadmines finally at level 19 with an ilvl of 18, but have otherwise been preoccupied with my 90s and other distractions. The hunter is still 19, and I haven’t progressed any further than that since then.

      I’m not using heirlooms at all, which has been a very limiting factor in my ability to have enough power to overcome certain fights at ‘the earliest possible level’ – and Ripsnarl was a prime example of this!

      Awesome to hear about your progression! Keep up the great work. You may have just inspired me to pick up this project again. :)

      • Felspar says:

        Particularly at earlier levels, heirlooms must make a massive difference. Even by the time you get to 30 though, there seem to be comparable blues around most of the time. Once enchants start getting better (iLevel 35 and 60), I think I’ll need to ditch the heirlooms anyway.

        Do pick it up again – even though you’re Alliance, I’m preaching to the Horde here to try it! I have 6 characters at or near 90 and yet there must be 80% of the game that I’ve never seen – and I would guess this applies to most people who haven’t played each expansion as it came out. So far I’ve cleared 7 zones – think this is the maximum for one faction. I probably won’t clear every zone all the way, but want to do most.

        One of my complaints when levelling other alts was that the whole concept of getting good kit was pretty much irrelevant – the best way to improve your gear was to level as rapidly as possible. As a result of this, you never bother finishing zones / taking the time to do difficult quests / thinking about gear at all / thinking at all really!

        The key thing for me is doing things ‘at level’ (ie rather than coming back 10 levels later just to get the tick in the box) – and ideally at as low a level as possible. We’re hunters after all! I completed the Durnholde Challenge at 23 (you can’t get it any earlier), but solo’d 2 of the creatures earlier at 21 (could probably have done all of them, but got killed by the one who messes with your threat – Infernus? – and couldn’t be bothered to try again when I wasn’t on the quest. hmmm, probably should have tried anyway.

        Let me know how things progress – would be great to have some to compare notes with!


  2. Unconventional leveling is always fun when you need some way to keep the game fresh. I’m a raider at heart, but I’m quite the alt-whore with a collection of Warlocks. I tried to level only by gathering professions, but once you underlevel the herbs and ore you need to get significan XP, you move along at a snails pace. Solo’ing dungeons on the way up actually sounds like a lot of fun and it’s not something I had ever considered.

    Sorry to reply on such an old post, but I just stumbled on to your blog recently looking for Hunter tips about a week ago. Sad to see you didn’t stick with this, but still a neat concept.

    • Mushan says:

      Yeah, I did finally succeed in completing Deadmines at 19 with no heirlooms, but then let him sit for months. I’m now bringing him up to 29 in order to do some different instances.

      There’s usually so much other stuff to do in-game that this little guy – a low priority – is on the furthest-back burner. Ah well. He’s 25 and still alive now, though, and I like working on him when I’m bored with my other toons. And that fun is what it’s all about, I guess… although it doesn’t make for much in the way of interesting, consistent blog posts. :)

      And no worries, a comment about any post is fine by me!

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