26 May 2010

Getting The Most from Refer-A-Friend

If you’re a heavy raider or arena junkie there’s a fair chance that you’ve hit burnout at least once since you started playing Warcraft. Playing the same character, doing the same content week in and week out can make the game feel repetitive and stale. Boredom sets in and enthusiasm wanes. Luckily help is at hand in the form of Blizzard’s Refer-a-Friend system. If you’ve ever fancied having an army of alts, trying out different classes or creating new roleplay characters, RaF might be ideal for you. But when should you use it and how do you get the most out of it?

First, a bit of background. The Refer-a-Friend or RaF system is designed for players to get their friends to try out the game. It offers a range of perks to make the levelling process easier and a couple of bonuses if the friend sticks to the game for a while. Simple enough so far, right? The other great thing is that it’s a great way for players to “buddy up” and work on new alts together. This does mean that either you or your friend will need to open a second Warcraft account, but you may find that the bonuses outweigh the costs.

So what are these bonuses?

  • 300% XP bonus for everything including mob kills, quest completion and even zone discovery. The bonus lasts until you both hit level 60, plus you both have to be grouped and “in range” (about 40 yards or so) for the bonus to be applied.
  • Summon Friend ability – this is great if you’re playing characters of different races, or if one of you wants to sell up junk or get training. Once per hour you can summon your friend (or they can summon you).
  • Bonus Levels – the player on the new account can gift levels to the player that reffered him. Those levels must be to a character on the same realm and in the same faction. You accumulate one gift-able level for every two that you gain normally. It means that if you level a character to 60, you get 30 levels to gift. The character receiving the levels must be a lower level than the one giving them.
  • Free Gametime – if your friend buys the game and pays for a month of play, you get a month’s play free of charge.
  • Bonus Mount – when your friend has paid for two months of gametime, you get a free mount. This mount recently changed to the only two-seater flying mount currently in-game – the X-53 Touring Rocket!

Know The Limits

There are some limitations to the Refer-a-Friend system. It’s worth keeping these in mind, as it’ll have an affect on how you plan to use it and potentially on how you spend your time in-game.

The big one is that it’s only good for getting characters to 60 – after then you’re running on your own steam. This isn’t as bad as it sounds as the quest hubs and paths in both Outland and Northrend are much tighter. There are also many more opportunities to PuG instances when you hit Outland, as you’ll not only find players who’ve emerged from RaF but you’ll also have Deathknights to lend a hand.

The second issue is that the RaF process only lasts for three months. After the time is up, the bonuses vanish. As a result, it’s probably best to avoid starting a RaF account until after any major holidays or other plans that are going to take you offline for more than a week.

The third is that it requires someone to create a new Warcraft account from the RaF invite, upgrade it to a standard account through buying another copy of the game and buy two additional months of gametime once the first month runs out. Keep an eye out for copies of the game being sold off cheaply in your local videogame store, particularly if it’s the Battlechest that also contains the Burning Crusade expansion. For the gametime you might want to pick up a 60-day gametime voucher, and while you can buy this on the Blizzard store you can sometimes find them for sale cheaper at places like Wootloots.

Choose Your Friends Carefully

If you’re still contemplating setting up a RaF partnership, make sure that you choose who you do it with carefully. You’re after someone who will stick with it for the three months that you’re going to be tied together. You also want someone who’s online at the same times that you are and has the same level of commitment to other in-game stuff that you do. The last thing you want is to set up a partnership with a hardcore raider that can’t play with you because he’s in Icecrown 25 every night.

A great way to test it is set up a 10-day free trial. See how your partnership fares over a short time period and get a feel for levelling with someone again. If it all works out then go ahead and shell out for the upgrades. If not you might want to contemplate looking around again.

Real-life friends, family members and so on make a great RaF partner because of the mutual friendship that you have. Just be sure to keep the friendship going when you’re not logged into Warcraft, otherwise the friend might feel that you only want them for their XP bonus.

Plan Your Characters

The RaF system is a great chance for you to try out a new class that you’ve never played before. It also provides a great way of getting around server transfer fees – if you’re thinking of trying out a new server then roll an alt there with a friend.

Before starting your RaF partnership, it’s worth planning out what characters you want to have, and which faction and server you want them in. Try to create a priority list – you might really want to try out a Troll Shaman but aren’t really fussed about another Gnomish Mage. Make sure your friend can work with your list as well – levelling two warrior tanks or holy priests side by side is going to be tricky.

Aim to have about three or four pairs planned when you start to give you plenty to do. Although it only takes about two days of gametime to get to 60 with the bonuses, you want to allow enough time to do your other ingame activities like raiding. You also need to think about who you’re going to give your donated levels to, with four pairs giving you two extra characters that you can get to 60 instantly.

Map Your Routes

If you’re going to be doing a lot of levelling, it’s important to make sure that you mix things up sufficiently. The last thing you need is to be swapping repetitive raiding for repetitive questing, as it’s just swapping out one boredom for another. Try and choose different zones to quest in so that you avoid duplication as much as possible. Swapping factions is also possible, although you’ll find that some quests are repeated on both Horde and Alliance side.

It’s also important to be fairly ruthless with your quest log. You will munch through quests at an incredible rate, with quests dropping from red through to green very quickly. If a quest goes grey and you haven’t completed it, drop it from your log. If there aren’t many quests for your level in an area then look at moving on. You want to make sure you’re in places where there are large amounts of closely packed quests that you can chomp through quickly.

Getting the Gear

A side-effect from the fast pace of levelling is that your characters will rapidly outstrip any gear that they accumulate. Heirloom gear is an option, but it’s not available to the person that created the new account. Plus, because of the XP bonuses on some heirloom gear you’ll end up levelling at slightly different rates.

If you can, try to plan ahead by obtaining gear beforehand. If you can craft suitable gear-sets for certain level milestones then go for it. If not, try to periodically run the larger instances such as Scarlet Monastery and Blackrock Depths in order to pick up new gear. A third person to help boost you through these instances is invaluble, particularly if you plan ahead and pick up all the instance quests beforehand. BRD itself is worth about four levels from both the mob XP and the available quests.

A great way of getting a good gear baseline is to do the last few levels (58-60) in Outland. The quest rewards there are fairly substantial upgrades on the stuff available in Vanilla WoW and should provide you with a solid starting point for life after RaF.

Still Interested?

I’ve used the RaF system a couple of times, and love the freedom it’s given me. I’m pleased with the range of characters I’ve got, especially considering that I’d have really struggled to motivate myself to getting some of them past level 20. I’m now in the position where I have lots of options going into Cataclysm and have characters that can fulfil any role. If you’ve struggled with levelling alts in the past you might find this is the boost you need.

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