User:Eirik Ratcatcher/Notes on Insanity

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Greetings, and welcome to my insanity!

These are specifically, my notes on grinding away at  Insane in the Membrane.


I call it 'preparation', but really, it's just my OCD playing out; things I had done before I knew there was an Insane in the Membrane achievement to be had. There are several things that turn out to have been highly useful to have done.

  1. Private guild banking - Some time ago, I preserved a guild; the guild leader and most of the members were moving to a different server. Having a vast array of alts, and RL friends on MY server, I was one of those who stayed behind. I coerced my friend to join the guild, and arranged to use it for my alts. (My main later joined a different guild.) This has allowed me to 'create' vast amounts of bank space in exchange for sums of cash that would otherwise go to buying (effectively) two more inventory slots on one character.
  2. Leveling a scribe - the Darkmoon Faire reputation grind is all about darkmoon cards. I don't care how much money you have, you won't find enough cards on the AH to cover grinding Darkmoon rep. And if you DO buy from the AH, you'll be spending vastly greater sums to do so. Money = Time. So, my own little darkmoon card generator. How convenient!
  3. Card Alt - found an alt that I wasn't playing, loaded him up on bags, and have used him for storing darkmoon cards. The fair only comes around one week a month, and even then I often miss the window. Individual cards stack. Decks don't. And where are you going to store all those partial decks, anyway? So... 12x 8card decks = 96 cards. +17 more for the <60 decks. Call it 6 16 slot bags for the 8card decks. (I can still transfer Mooncloth Bags and Traveler's Backpacks, if I tire of this alt. Show me a 20/22/24-slot bag I can transfer once equipped.) Most of a bank-alt's storage.
  4. Leveling a picker - The cards need  [Eternal Life] and  [Primal Life], as well as inks made from herbs. The fact that the same character is an alchemist means I can (slowly) convert other eternals/primals to Life. Which solves some of the question of "what do I do with these excess mats that I've been saving up?"
  5.  Pony Up! - The ability to access a mailbox at need is so very handy. Get the  [Argent Squire]/Gruntling, get the  [Argent Pony Bridle], and you're set. Yes, this does mean you have to grind Argent Tournament quests until your eyes bleed, but hey, that's 100+ gold just in quest rewards. Each Day. Gold is good. It lets you buy things.
  6. Leveling up a Rogue - Nobody picks 'em like a Rogue. More than that, leveling to about 70 is par for making him useful.

The Grinds

It was quickly apparent that there are actually three independent grinds involved for this achievement. The Darkmoon Faire, the Ravenholdt, and the Bloodsail Buccaneers + Steamwheedle Cartel + Shen'dralar. Well, MOSTLY independent.

I'll point out that going insane is largely a solitary occupation. While you can occasionally get other nutzo folks to go grinding rep with you, most of the time, you're on your own.


This is the most isolated of the grind elements, and it has two distinct phases. And note that, with how little it interacts with the other grinds, I save this grind (currently phase 2) for a "change of pace"

Phase 1

The key to starting off Ravenholdt Rep is to kill as many Syndicate as you can. Where to find them? Well, there are isolated pockets all over Hillsbrad Foothills, Arathi Highlands, and Alterac Mountains. I sampled all of them, and found that the ruins of Durnholde Keep had enough mobs and fast enough respawn times to allow me to grind 1-2k rep per hour. (Yeah, I'm slow. I'm a warrior, I have to reach out and fricking TOUCH them to kill them. Okay?) Stromgarde Keep was tempting, but it's hard to keep a continuous run going. That, and there are spots there where you have to backtrack.

This is one of those grinds where you CAN benefit from having friends along. It's several hours worth of grinding, though, so don't be surprised when you find yourself dancing solo. Oh, and don't bother looting, unless you're REALLY anal. Or need linen, wool, and a little silk. It takes longer to loot a body than it does to kill the mob.

This grind is until you hit Revered. And don't mind the loss of Syndicate rep. You can't get it back, and you start in their bad graces anyway. They're bad guys. Get over it.

Phase 2

Once you hit Revered, the only way to go is to turn in 5 Heavy Junkboxes at a time at Ravenholdt Manor. Remember I'd mentioned a Rogue? Yeah. You're looking for level 54+ or so mobs. Blackrock Depths barely qualifies. While there are several zones that have critters you can hit up, Lower Blackrock Spire is an instance that has LOTS of pickable pockets for the Heavy Junkboxes. Being an instance, you go in, and you can't get ganked by wandering (hordies/ally) dorks.

You want to go in with as light a load as you possibly can, to have as much space as you possibly can. Unless the rogue is the toon who is going Insane (in my case, not), then you are limited by how much you can carry, or how much time it takes out of your day to hit up a postbox. Not an engineer, and not 80 means "go back to town" for me. Currently, I manage about 60 boxes a run.

Also, I set my interface to "autoloot" by default, and set up a hotkey for pickpocketing.

Running Lower Blackrock Spire

Having put almost everything that's not soulbound into the bank or the mail queue (lots of mail marked "Care package") - including poisons, food, just about everything but the hearthstone, I run in, [Stealth], and take the shortcut to the Firebrand Legion area. For those who don't do this instance ad nauseum, that's:

  • take the path that leads to the main instance area, dodging the two-orc patrol to where you come out into an open area. Couple groups of orcs ahead of ya, Ogres to the right.
  • jump off the right-hand wall onto the ledge.
  • go to the end of the ledge and jump down to the next ledge. (That one runs along the wall below the ogres.)
  • go to the end of THAT ledge, and jump down... across the blazing river of lava, to the area with the pretty red pavilions.

Minimal damage, I'm still stealthed. Important, because every mob you have to kill is one you can't later pick the pockets of. Okay. Off to the far end, near the Skitterweb Tunnels. Start picking pockets. One in 5 or 7 has a junkbox, maybe a bit more. About as many have exotic cookbooks.

I work my way back from Skitterweb back up topside where I had earlier jumped down. By that time, 10 minutes or more have passed, and the first mobs can be picked again. Jump down, repeat. While I keep the Star Rubys I pick up (they occasionally sell for something worthwhile), pretty much everything else, I toss. At 60 slots, I fill up, toss junk, fill up a second time, and toss junk a second time, then grab a few more until inventory is full again. By that time, I've only got a few slots with junk in them, and it's not worth the time deleting the junk each time I pick up more. Off to town, then. 12 junkboxes per mail item, and I'm ready to go again. By that time, I'm usually up for a break, though.

Turning junkboxes in.

"Some time passes". The junkboxes aren't going anywhere. Eventually I get tired of seeing them in my mail queue and go up to Ravenholdt. A pal of mine loads up in Southshore (you hordies can use the closer Tarren Mill), runs to Ravenholdt to turn in; rinse, repeat. Me, I don't have vast amounts of space - or patience - so I cheat a bit.

The NPC you turn boxes in to is on a porch on the upper floor of the manor. Each turn-in, you get a unique throwing knife, worth a bit over 1g.

I'll have loaded up at some convenient mailbox for the first set of boxes. Out on the porch, I'll mount up on my [Traveler's Tundra Mammoth], start turning in boxes, then selling the knives each time. You're turning in a vast number of boxes. The gold adds up. Other options include the ever popular pony-endowed squire/gruntling, an engineering bot (say,  [Jeeves]?), or simply running to the basement of the manor and selling to the vendor there. The last option is too much like work for me (I did say a LOT of boxes, yes?), and I had the mammoth handy. And no cooldown on the mount. Kewl!

I'm an engineer, so in addition to the squire, I've got  [MOLL-E] available too. If you've got an engineering friend, bribe him to help ya out. It's a real time saver.

Bloodsail and Steamwheedle

I know, I said that the library is involved here too, but I'll talk about that separately. ... mostly.

When I had started this, I'd already gotten  Loremaster, and in so doing had gotten to revered with most of Steamwheedle Cartel. I went into this thinking, do a little bloodsail grinding, go back and repair. Repeat.

Uh, uh. By gaining Steamwheedle rep by questing, I'd pretty much toasted my Bloodsail rep. So it'd be a grind from near the nadir of Bloodsail to ... bottom of Honored. I counted it out. At 350 rep per DM run, I'd be doing on the order of 1,000 Dire Maul runs, if I kept my goblin rep intact, or 200 runs if I didn't. At about 3-4 runs an hour, you do the math.

Up with Pirates, down with the establishment

First step is getting the pirates to like me by toasting Booty Bay Bruisers night and day. Throughout Booty Bay, there are places where Bruisers will appear out of nowhere, one after another, until the point is apparently 'exhausted' after 5 or 10 or 15. I do mean "one" at a time. I found that if you are hostile (or worse), they'll spawn if you just pass by. If you are neutral or better, you have to set Booty Bay faction to "at war", and grab a peaceful citizen to drag with you, to get them to spawn.

Mind, you want to be VERY careful to keep that citizen alive, so you can take him to the next spawn point. Otherwise, "it's nothing but work, work, work."

If you've a buddy along (whether he is working on Insane, or just wants his  Bloodsail Admiral hat), the spawn points spew out one for each of you. You'll want to take care to limit how many of the spawn points you are nearby, especially in a group, or they could overwhelm you. ... or if you have lots of AoE damage and don't care about the collateral damage, you might WANT that.

Overall, this was the dead-easiest grind I've ever done. And since my Steamwheedle rep had already hit bottom, I figured why not, and ground the last bit through Honored, THEN did the [Avast Ye, Admiral!] quest, to pop me a little into revered. Maybe some day I'll grind that. ... but that's a slow enough grind anyway I might as well do the "preserve goblin rep" thing. If I decide to do that.

Saving one stinking goblin, time after time

Having gone through all that effort, I'm not about to blast my new Bloodsail Buccaneers rep, even if (I'm told) you don't have to KEEP it at Honored while raising Steamwheedle to exalted. So, how do you do this?

Two ways, and they're both in Dire Maul.

First, you need to find a  [Gordok Shackle Key]. It'll be on any of the Ogres in the north wing of Dire Maul. I've most often found it on

  1. one of the guards (Guard Mol'dar, Guard Fengus, or Guard Slip'kik)
  2. one of the Ogre warlocks or ... reapers? in the area past the door you open with the  [Gordok Courtyard Key].
  3. anyone else except the named critters (Captain, King, Vizier, and the drunk).

Then, you go back to Knot Thimblejack, talk to him (option only available with the key), then do the quest N [60D] Free Knot!. 350 rep with all Steamwheedle factions, and no hit to Bloodsail. AND, you get Knot Thimblejack's Cache, with various leatherworking and tailoring goodies inside. ... most importantly, sometimes  [Rugged Leather]. The spare  [Ogre Tannin] isn't bad either.

The second thing is, there's a basket with [Ogre Tannin] in it on the middle deck in the area where Knot is found. Gather that on a regular basis, and gather ... [Bolts of Runecloth], [Rugged Leather], and buy some [Rune Thread]. Have Knot make a Gordok Ogre Suit for you, for 75 more rep each tannin.

The runs, though. There's the trick.

Running Dire Maul North

  1. Kill every ogre you find until you get a shackle key. They're unique, you can only hold one. If you've already got one, go to step 2.
  2. Once you have one, go to Knot. Go directly to Knot, do not slay ogres between you and him.
  3. Free him.
  4. Now... Go back to Killing ogres until you get ANOTHER key.

Why? I did say they were unique. The bodies won't last forever. You can only free Knot once per run, and once you do, you'd need to run back to the nearest key-laden body you left around to pick up another one.

Why is it important? Because some runs, you will find 2, 3 or many shackle keys. Some runs, only one. And some runs, none at all. So save yourself time and have a key when you go in, if you can.

For me, assuming I start with a shackle key, I...

  1. Free Knot, collect the cache.
  2. go upstairs and get the Ogre tannin.
  3. continue killing ogres until I get another shackle key, making my way towards the entrance all the while.

As I want to burn through my unpopularity with the goblins as fast as possible, once I have the key and the tannin, I typically head fairly directly back out, killing more ogres on the way. (Why? Librams. See the next section.) As I've gotten my reputation with Steamwheedle higher, I've been taking more time out to kill ogres, to collect more librams. Still, the more times you free Knot, the faster your rep gain is.

Note: the shackle key often drops off of the guards (Fengus, Slip'kik, Mol'dar, or Captain Kromcrush) Failing that, it occasionally drops off of other ogres, notably those in the Halls of Destruction. If you don't care about finding librams, killing these specific mobs may suffice for a quick in-and-out.

I'm firing my tailor

 [Ogre Tannin] stacks to 20, and I've got lots. The Cache has  [Rugged Leather] fairly often, and I collect  [Runecloth] in job lots from the ogres. Every now and then I send some runecloth to my tailor to make into bolts and get those stored away. The leather goes into storage too. Every so often I grab out bundles of rugged leather, get enough runecloth and  [Rune Thread] to match, and get bunches of ogre suits made.

Through the Argent Squire Pony Express and  [MOLL-E], I mailed some off to alts, to put on the auction house. But lately, I've mailed suits to whoever whim dictates at the time. They're unique, and it's either mail 'em off or destroy them. And since I've got postal service available, I take the opportunity to unload: BoE rares to my enchanter to make Large Brilliant Shards, cloth to my tailor, leather bits to my leatherworker, etc. Anything that isn't soulbound can be mailed off to make space for more loot. (Yes, not only am I cheap, but I'm greedy, too!)

Every now and then I send my leatherworker out to get more rugged leather the hard way, since the cache isn't keeping up with the amount of Tannin I'm collecting. But it isn't a high priority. 350/run vs 75/turn-in. It makes a difference, but it's not Azeroth-shattering.

Shen'dralar, the library

The only way to gain reputation with Shen'dralar is to give them books. From [Foror's Compendium of Dragon Slaying] to [The Light and How to Swing It], they'll take lots of books. Foror's compendium aside, you only get reputation for one of the class-linked books. You can turn in more copies of it, but you only get rep that first time.

Aside from those, there are these three:  [Libram of Protection],  [Libram of Focus], and  [Libram of Rapidity]. And these only drop in Dire Maul. Not just the ogres of Dire Maul North, but also the spooks and such in Dire Maul West. Maybe some in Dire Maul East, too, but that's a bit less convenient.

So all the time I'm grinding for Goblin rep, I have to be grabbing up as many librams as I can find. Which means that once I get the shackle key, I still have reason to be killing yet more ogres.

But wait, there's more!

The Librams of Protection, Focus, and Rapidity each grant 500 Shen'dralar rep when turned in. However, turning a libram in requires... 2 or 4 Large Brilliant Shards, a  [Pristine Black Diamond], and some exotic component from Scholomance, Stratholme, or the Plaguelands (east or west), depending on the libram.

The key here are the Pristine Black Diamonds. Those suckers are rarer than snot. Well, "Very Rare", then. Sheesh, you kids. Never heard an idiom in your lives. You find these diamonds - sometimes - in FULL runs of Scholomance or Stratholme, ... or in Dire Maul. I've not yet done the grind for those in any quantity, but have it on good report that every 2-3 FULL runs of Scholomance, you might pick up ... one. Yep. Have fun! Me, I've been haunting the auction house, spamming trade, asking all my friends, etc. I've got maybe a dozen I've not turned in.

Occasionally, you'll find some naive victim (read: The Razza, Skarr the Unbreakable, or Mushgog) in The Maul (the arena in the center of the Feralas part of Dire Maul). These guys have a BoE blue or two on them. Snap them up, have them disenchanted, and you save a portion of your budget. If you disenchant on your own, you might want to save some of those Ogre suits from Knot for Dire Maul Tribute Runs, and disenchant the low-value goodies you get in the tribute chest.

And the other parts. Well, those you find at the end of Scholomance ( [Skin of Shadow]), ( [Frayed Abomination Stitching]), or on the ground in the plaguelands ( [Blood of Heroes]). You can pick up 2-4 each run of the instances, and you just have to keep searching (the  [Gatherer]-like addons help) for the blood. It's the diamonds that are the choke point, I tell ya.

And if you order now...

Turning in Librams gets you arcanums. They don't stack, so I've been doing my libram runs separate from my goblin rep runs. I COULD just throw them out after turning in the quest, but there's a further use for them.

Hie thee to Zul'Gurub. There's an NPC in there who you turn these arcanums in to, for 500 Zandalar Tribe reputation. You'll need a buddy to help you form a raid so you can get in, but you're a popular guy, right? Well, okay, your gold is popular. Whatever.

Check it out. You're going from Neutral to exalted with the library, at 500 rep a pop. You're going from Neutral to exalted with Zandalar Tribe, but you're likely to also have done some questing or killing in ZG. It's like getting a whole 'nother reputation, basically for free!

If memory serves, you have to be friendly or Honored to turn the arcanums in, as well. But ... "free rep". What more can I say?

Darkmoon Faire

I've been saving this for last. Like Ravenholdt, it's largely independent of the other grinds. And it's mostly a picking-and-scribing nightmare.

Talk with Bob, the Barker

The first part of this grind is comparatively easy. There are bunches of quests of the "find stuff/make stuff, give them to me" type. There's Engineering flavors, Blacksmithing flavors, Leatherworking flavors, and "animal parts" types. The quests come in various ranks, and stop being offered as you get higher in reputation with the faire. If you have parts for more than one set of quests (say, blacksmithing stuff and some animal parts you've collected), you want to turn in the lowest level stuff first, and work your way up as they stop being offered.

Me, I'd already ground my way to the top of that ladder before I went Insane.

Turning in decks

If you like, you can skip the 'turn in crap' quests and go straight to "turn in decks". The decks are generally harder/more expensive to come by, so make your own choice on that.

There are three entry points on this:

  1. Buy decks off the AH: Really fricking expensive.
  2. Buy cards off the AH, make your own decks. Much less expensive, but still costly. And you are still at the mercy of the AH.
  3. Level up inscription and herbalism and make your own cards. When you're out scavenging for parts, remember the quote "ask me for anything but time". It'll take a bit.

Since I already had a scribe and a picker, I chose the last of those. I also beg, steal, or (if I must) buy cards. My price point is fairly low currently, so I don't buy many of them.

There are two ranks of deck: 60+, and <60. The under 60 decks are all 3-5 card decks (depending on rank) and get you 25 rep per turn-in, plus a green or low level blue item. The 60+ decks are all 8 card decks, and get you 350 rep per turn-in, plus a darkmoon trinket card. The trinket can be sold, since it is Bind on Equip, which will let you make some of your money back.

Looking at that (1 deck + resellable item vs 14 decks and some enchanting mats), my current strategy is to try for the level 60+ decks. The cards for these decks require ingredients like  [Primal Life],  [Eternal Life], and ... er, well, things my scribe doesn't yet have the skill to worry about. All the decks (high and low) require 'rare' pigments/inks, in various quantities. Since one can fly in outland and Northrend, I reason that gathering herbs will be quicker in those areas. Which means more cards, more decks, faster rep gain. Higher level cards it is, then.

As well, during the Dire Maul runs, and perhaps the Scholo/strat runs as well, there'll be the occasional Darkmoon card drop. While it happens in the BC/Wrath dungeons as well, we're not talking about a "farming" drop rate, really. It's just sort of an incidental bonus sort of thing.

The Darkmoon Grind

While you CAN farm for Pristine Black Diamonds, they drop so rarely, you should be sure that your "grind" sessions coincide with other purposes - gaining reputation for alts, getting the stitchings or skin of shadows, grinding for the [Baron's Deathcharger], etc.

But meanwhile... grinding for the Darkmoon fair decks seems more soul destroying than any that have preceded it. And it seems so banal, too! Consider:

  • You need to earn 37k rep (4k friendly to honored, 12k honored, 21k Revered).
  • Each (main) deck is 350k rep, so 105 Big Decks, or 840 darkmoon cards - that complete sets.
  • It only takes about 40 minutes of circling Sholazar Basin to get enough herbs for a card or two.
  • 40 min * 840 = 554 hours ... assuming that all the cards you make fit in decks. They won't, the law of averages will ensure that.
  • For me, an average of about 10 sessions a week. Let's be optimistic, and say that the extra cards (beyond the 1/session) and the Cards I Can't Use balance out. Looking at perhaps 2 months of grinding on just this. Gah.
  • The bright side is that I can balance out some of the cost by trading through the AH.

Which all means... I should have been at least passively grinding this rep for a long, long time.

My own progress

I have:

Yes, this is enough information for the more adroit of you to discover who and where I am (if I haven't told you outright). I leave that exercise to the reader. Feel free to crow your success on my talk page if you like. It'll do you good. Smiley.gif