On Iterative Twinking



So I’m doing the Shattered Sun Offensive dailies on my level 70 druid twink, Cynli. I’m doing them for a very specific purpose – she’s an alchemist, and pretty much the best trinket she can get at level 70 is the Redeemer’s Achemist Stone, which requires SSO exalted rep. (One of the material components requires revered with the Shat’ar, which is the next grind.) So I’m running MgT and doing SSO dailies instead of PvPing on her, which is kinda boring but whatever. I can do it for +10 Intellect and +40% more effective Mana Pots.

And I’m thinking, you know, there’s a cheap and easy to get Alchemy trinket at 75. I even know how to make it already. But to get it I have to go to 75, which totally defeats the purpose of playing a level 70 twink. I’m killing all these demons and all these blood elves and all these naga (stupid naga) to get something that’s totally replaced in 5 levels.

I probably shouldn’t forget the really great engineering goggles, too. Though Cynli isn’t an engineer – it’s hard for me to remember that I have toons who aren’t.

So I’m thinking, you know, I wonder how many people did this back in the day. The BC day. You know, when this was endgame content and you had to sweat for it and getting this trinket was actually a BFD and having gear like I have was a BFD and not just the key to being one of those supremely irritating Resilience-stacking unkillable healers in battlegrounds, not like that’s a bad thing or anything, go ahead and Healers Have to Die me, I’m the one back here fending off your little tickly rogue daggers and you better bring Cataclysm tinkers because otherwise I’m leafing you in my dust.


Endgame content is it’s own game. It constitutes 1-2 years of playtime for players at max level during the expansion. That’s a significant amount of time spent making your character as good as they can be during that period of time. At the end, they’re fucking ROCK STARS.

But as soon as they level up, they start to suck. Little by little, hour by hour, level by level, they suck. Their combat ratings degrade. Their epic gear gets replaced by shitty quest greens that were formerly lining a birdcage. I seriously think I wore a gryphon’s feed bag for a while on Cynwise’s head, WHAT THE FUCK.

Then they get to the next endgame, and it begins all over again. New shoulder enchants. New helm enchants. New reputations to grind. New dungeons to run.

All the old accomplishments, wiped out. The time spent making that character a work of art – gone.

What good is your SSO reputation now, in Cataclysm? What value does it have to your character? At most, it might confer a tabard and a title. There’s no in-game benefit to it.

But for a level 70 twink, it probably does have value. It’s an endgame reputation with viable rewards.

So I’m on the Isle, firebombing a ship, getting ready to kill more blood elves with my LEET RESTO DAMAGE (do not fuck with me, I am a badass healer who will heal myself through everything you throw at me and then oh hi THORNS HURRICANE DOT DOT DOT), when a few things click.

  • Cross-realm retro raids are coming. People will want to do raids both with their mains (at 85) and with alts (leveling) or, possibly, with their at-level twinks (at the usual levels.)
  • With cross-realm raiding, PvE twinks become viable entertainment for raiders who would like a side project with some nostalgia thrown in. Kara is a faceroll at 85, but it requires some work at 70. (It’s not as hard as you remember, though.)
  • Players with expansion twinks at a variety of levels – 60, 70, 80, 85 – will be able to play with friends who like to level alts without having to level an alt to join them. You need someone to run through early Northrend? I have a 70 twink healer, let me come join you! Need a tank for Wrath Heroics? I’ve got a geared 80, let’s go!
  • Expansion twinks allow you to go through an expansion at the intended level at your own pace, If you didn’t finish all the Wrath quests? Go back and finish them on your 80 twink, get the reps all finished up! Want to do Silithus at 60? Go for it!

All of these ideas coalesced into the idea of iterative twinking.

You spend all this time making your character a badass, only to have that undone when the next expansion hits.


What if, instead of carrying your character forward each expansion and negating the work you put into them, you … don’t.

Lock their XP. Leave them be, play them in the endgame environment to which they have adapted. PvP with them, raid with them, do holidays with them, run dungeons with them. But leave them be. Leave your Wrath toon in T10. Leave your BC toon in Brutal/Sunwell gear.

(Maybe improve their skills and enchants, because, you know. twink.)

Say: this toon a testament to my efforts during this expansion.Β And reroll a new one for the next one. (Or promote an alt.)

Same class, same race? SURE. You have a good thing going. Try something new? OK!

Each expansion you create a new iteration of your main character. Here is what she was like in Vanilla. Here’s what she was like in BC. Here’s Wrath. Here’s Cataclsym. Maybe they’re all the same character, just with different outcomes. Maybe they’re radically different.

But each one allows you to retain the value you earned by playing at the endgame for that expansion. Iterative twinking keeps you from taking all that effort – all that time – and saying, it is for naught. 70, after all, is just a level you pass going fro 69 to 71. 80 is just a waystation to 85.

And soon, 85 will be a stopping point on the way to 90.

You can level a new toon to 85 in, what – about 2-3 weeks of casual, focused play these days? Let’s assume that holds true for getting to 90, too, if you have heirlooms and the assistance of a main.

You have an exceptionally well-geared level 85 character. You’ve spent months making him or her this good. Maybe you have a legendary (which you can’t transmog.) Maybe you have a really cool raiding title. And now, with cross-realm everything, you might, just might, have need to do some stuff at-level in Cataclysm again.

I’m not saying this is for everyone. Pet collectors are wringing their hands at me right now. Acheivement point collectors are going CYN YOU ARE OUT OF YOUR GOURD. Role players are going THIS SCREWS WITH MY STORY ARC but wait it has some possibities for alternative history DAMN YOU CYN. If you don’t have a lot of altoholic friends, or have no interest in revisiting old content, or you want to make sure you get to 90 as fast as possible for progression raiding? Ok. This might not be for you.

But for everyone else… I’ll just put this out there.

Think before you ding 86. πŸ™‚


Filed under Cynwise's Field Notes

11 responses to “On Iterative Twinking

  1. soetzufit

    Very neat idea, and – I’ll admit – I’d probably never have considered locking my priest at 70 if I hadn’t been reading your blog posts on twinking. It was incredibly satisfying to hit 70 on her and immediately purchase an entire set of epic PvP gear. While she’s not “done” in the sense that there are still upgrades I could find for her in some slots, I do love that she just *looks* epic every time I log onto her. Beyond the cosmetic, I didn’t get to raid during the brief time that I played in BC and I’d love to get a chance to do some of those instances with an at-level group. Obviously we’ll still have more health and gear than anyone who raiding when the content was current, but the experience would certainly be closer than going in with a handful of 85s.

  2. Poneria

    I’d have to level Ponerya up everytime. She’s me, damnit. But I wouldn’t mind taking some other alts and twinking them.Including my little ones I have scattered over other persons’ realms. (Durotan & Drenden to name two.)

  3. Dang Fool

    I had an 80 char when Cata dropped. What I should have done was have a second 80 that wasn’t twinked, but rather ready to explore the new Cata zones in Wrath greens. But I also wanted to level a new toon in all those Shattered zones that had been changed. Plus I wanted to try out a goblin or worgen.I remember when leveling a new toon how I considered stopping at 60 to explore all the vanilla end-game stuff, but LFD at the time was horrible in finding others to raid. With the new changes, I suspect it’ll be much easier to find a good group.Is it likely that folks might lock XP at 65, 75 and 85 to raid in Vanilla/BC/WotLK? I think the level ranges allow it. This assumes you are focussing on the PvE Raid side and not the PvP side so much.

  4. Cynwise of Stormwind

    @soetzufit: I still have an upgrade here or there on my 70 twinks, but I am okay with slowly working towards them. I mean, they’re literally endgame content, so I’m okay with it taking a few months to grind out the reps and farm the badges. πŸ™‚ I’m glad you tried out 70 twinkling – have you been enjoying it?I’ve been doing 70 content at level, sometimes undermanning it – (2-man MgT) – and it’s a lot of fun. You have to work!@pon – This is one thing I thought about after I’d published – self-identification with a single toon. If that toon is you, of course, keep her going. But leave your alts! :)@dangfool: Generally folks will lock at the end of expansion to gain the favorable stats and gear available at those levels. If you go to 65/75, your gear isn’t that great and the combat ratings are subpar. Going from 70 to 74 drops all your secondary stats by about 25%, without an appreciable increase in gear. It’s only around 77-78 that you start getting Cata gear which makes you more potent. 😦

  5. Bones

    I’d love to have left my PvP rogue twink at various lvls, but with locked xp I just couldn’t get ANY BG’s, I’m in Blackout EU BG group and all I got was “BG unavailable”.My last attempt was at lvl 80, again, no good.Any suggestions for a battlegroup that may actually have BG’s going for locked xp chars. ?

  6. supremelydisappointing
  7. supremelydisappointing
  8. Lara

    “Kara is a faceroll at 85, but it requires some work at 70. (It’s not as hard as you remember, though.)”Maybe it will become difficult again with the new expansion, when all the talents get changed around. Right now, however, you can do it with four players at level 70 (I wrote a little about our experiences doing just that here http://wp.me/pZM6H-af). Probably to make it a real challenge you’d also have to not be using any gear from the next expansion zone.Although, if as Ghostcrawler has been talking about, they do a big “gear squish” at the beginning of Mists of Pandaria, it could be a really exciting time for people wanting to play the retro-raiding PvE twink game.Another side to what you’re saying here is that you can experience the benefits of playing an old-world “end game” without having to feel like you are stuck in that grind. When you get tired of the level 70 grind, uncap, play up to 80, and cap again. When you get tired of that tier, move on. One could even make the case that the game would have more aggregate replay value if they required completion of each tier of raids before you could level past that tier’s intrinsic level cap. :)When they first introduced the ability to disable experience gain, I was a little skeptical about its value, but I think you’ve shown us all that there is far more value in it than they ever could have imagined. πŸ™‚

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