Leveling is probably one of the most satisfying events while playing WoW. Not quite as satisfying as letting a jerk dps die when they pull a pack of trash without waiting for tank, but still pretty satisfying. Pretty much every new level there is a talent point or new spell enticing us to reach the next plateau.
My mage reached level 80 and started Cataclysm content just recently. Which, I must say is a nice change of pace from previous content. Wrath of the Lich King content was great when it was relevent. Now it seems slow and clunky like BC content once was – not just because I’ve done it so many times on other alts - but also because the questing system and layout for this expansion is that much better. Reaching 78 was actually the biggest jump in “power” for my mage though, because of the Cataclysm quality greens. My spell power doubled and stamina tripled going from 77-79 because of the massive item level difference. After that, the power growth jumped again upon receiving mastery at level 80. It took only slightly longer than an hour to reach 81 but here I noticed something. My DPS didn’t really go up. A couple of upgrades had only a tiny effect. Level 82 and a couple more upgrades and my DPS remained constant. How can I gain a few hundred spell power, more haste/mastery/crit rating and not gain DPS?
Diminishing stat ratings for Cataclysm. This is the only place where Cataclysm leveling loses a little bit of fun. My fire mage is going to likely see a significant DPS loss upon reaching level 83 and finding my beautiful crit chance even lower in spite of more crit rating. Increasing spell power from 3600 to maybe 3800 (maybe a 5% increase) won’t make up for what is likely to be a loss of 25% or more of my crit chance (not losing 25% total crit chance, but 25% OF it). My haste will be seeing a similar loss, though is less important to me. When I leveled my frost DK though cataclysm, his DPS didn’t increase between 81-85 even though the gear was dramatically improved.
I am a little bit wary of the next couple levels, at least until 85 and I can start picking up heroic blues and raid quality gear. For the first time in the life of this toon, I can’t look forward to character growth from leveling or gearing up for a while. I will, though, supplement the stat loss by making sure I’m wearing the best gear possible. Only weeks ago did I get my first tailor to max level quality gear. Each level I’ll find the pieces I can craft and keep my mage as buff as possible. As a class that can’t do anything other than pewpew, making sure my pewpewkungfu is strong is key to success and actually is one of the most fun parts of a pure DPS class. So while I’ll have a fight a head of me to keep my damage growing for a few levels, I’ll enjoy a level 82 mage that can put out as much damage as half of the mages I see in Baradin’s Hold.