Tol Barad is Cataclysm’s Wintergrasp, a dour archipelago holding regularly-scheduled pvp, a Vault-of-Archavon-style raid instance and many, many foxes. However, it’s also Cataclysm’s Argent Tournament, replete with numerous dailies and all sorts of rewards. It is this second side of Tol Barad that this post will focus on, offering a guide to taking advantage of the dailies as a hunter.
Tol Barad is not a friendly place. It was sterilized by war, rebuilt as a prison and repopulated almost entirely by things that want to kill you. As you roam its rocky, fog-ridden landscape you’ll find hordes of undead, a forest with more giant spiders than trees, a village where even the fishermen are evil, and a huge ***hole of a shark. Every step you take across these islands you come across another thing that wants to kill you.
Yet, you still might want to go there regularly. As a daily quest hub it is an inexhaustible source of gold. And the gold is substantial; some of the dailies reward 18 gold apiece. As much as that makes it like the Isle of Quel’Danas, it is perhaps more like the Argent Tournament because its dailies reward an additional currency that can be used to purchase Heroic-dungeon-quality gear and status symbols (mounts, pets, tabards). Of note for hunters are some weapons (including an ilvl 346 crossbow) and an ilvl 359 trinket. These items are great at this point in the expansion, particularly if you aren’t up to running heroics yet. However, you can find as-good or better gear in Heroics and so you may decide the Commendation grind is not worth your time. This kind of choice is especially important when it comes to the trinket, which costs quite a lot but appears to perform worse than trinkets obtainable in Heroics.
I think the tabards are also worth mentioning because they provide a port to your faction’s base on a four-hour cooldown, which in turn puts you just a few steps away from a portal to Ogrimmar/Stormwind. This makes a Tol Barad faction tabard worse than Wrath’s Kirin Tor rings but certainly serviceable as an second hearth to your faction’s primary city.
Unfortunately, the Tol Barad Commendations used to purchase the gear and status symbols are both slower to accumulate and required in greater number than the Champion’s Seals of the Argent Tournament. So what can be done to speed things up?
Do more dailies. When you port to your faction’s base camp on the Tol Barad Peninsula for the first time (why they call it a peninsula I don’t know), you’ll see about six daily quests (selected out of of many possible dailies) ready to be accepted. At the rate of six a day it’ll take you over two weeks to get enough tokens to buy a weapon, let alone the trinket. You can increase this rate by doing the dailies that become available when your faction gains control of Tol Barad’s prison. Three of these (killing Problim, crocs, and the leftovers) appear every single victory until you complete them that day. Nine others (those related to the prison riots) appear on a rotational basis, with just three appearing after any given victory. This allows you to complete three after one win, and another three after a subsequent win, and so on. Victories on your faction’s part can leave you with up to 12 additional dailies (the three standard dailies and the nine rotating dailies).
Win. Winning Tol Barad nets you three commendations (and a huge chunk of honor if you didn’t hold Tol Barad before). Losing gets you 75 honor and no commendations. If you’re willing to take the risk, participating in Tol Barad battles has the possibility to increase your number of commendations per day. Many servers have already begun to engage in collusion between factions, trading wins so that each side gets 1890+ honor every other battle. If your server is doing this, you are just about guaranteed to see all three rotations of dailies become active in a given day.
Eighteen dailies sounds arduous and time-consuming. I attempted it once and can say that it is. I found I can knock a set of 12 out in under an hour, though. And regardless of how many dailies you have time for, there are ways to make them go faster:
- Use Camouflage. Nowhere have I used Camouflage more than in Tol Barad. The spawns are so thick and rapid that having even a weak form of stealth is a huge advantage. It is particularly useful for running past ‘trash’ to get to quest objectives
- Take Elixirs of Water Walking with you. They’re cheap and very useful for this place. They allow you to get to a guy out in the water like Captain Harris quickly and without agro. They’re also nice for simply getting around. Being able to ride on water allows for many shortcuts in the Tol Barad Peninsula (look at the map and you’ll see what I mean), and these shortcuts have no spiders or ghouls or demons on them. Remember that any damage will break the buff, and that includes any fall damage you take jumping onto water with the Elixir active.
- Use Glyphs of Mending and Misdirection. If you don’t have these already from leveling, pick them up for Tol Barad because cooldown-free MDs and a boosted Mend Pet are very useful there.
- Don’t stand on spawns when possible. If you’re within agro range of several spawn locations and you’re doing dailies at a peak time, you may end up in an endless and sometimes overwhelming stream of spawns. This is particularly likely within the prison wards.
- Quest with a friend. A lot of these dailies are easier and faster with another person (or two or three or four). Some, though, are just tedious no matter who’s with you (or because of who’s with you).
- Take advantage of your pet and traps. You don’t have to kill everything. If you get waylaid, you can trap the mob or leave your pet on it and just keep moving. With enough distance, your pet or the trap will despawn and the mob will reset.
- Avoid the pet summon bug when you can. Hunter pets, when summoned via Call Pet or a dismount, initially have substantially lower health than they should. Tol Barad mobs are strong enough that they can kill a pet before its health adjusts back to its appropriate level. This sucks. But it can be avoided by holding agro yourself until the health adjusts or minimizing the bug’s occurrence by moving around on foot within objective areas.
- Edit: As Darkbrew notes in a comment below, Tol Barad can be a good place to level up a pet. This won’t speed up your questing (it’s more likely to slow it down), but it will save you time leveling a pet up elsehwere and so can be a net gain.