Once I installed Cataclysm, the first thing I did was to get Old World Flying trained on my Hunter. Then I hit up the Mining and Engineering trainers for the Cataclysm level stuff. I had an old pair of green "of the monkey" gloves enchanted with Gatherer (+5 Mining, Skinning, Herbing), and I made the Engineering Goblin Mining Hat (+5 Mining). Then I used my Wormhole Generator: Northrend and ported up to Shoal'azar Basin. In order to mine Elementium, the Cataclysm equivalent to Saronite, I would need just 465 mining. Elementium requires 475, but with the Gloves and Hat, that will give me 475 skill.
The plan was to use Shoal'azar because the completion would be minimal. The whole strategy for this opening night was 'hit 'em where they ain't'. Everyone was going to be in Mt. Hyjal, and Vash'ir fighting over Obsidium veins (the Cataclysm equivalent to Cobalt).
This plan worked out better than I could have ever hoped. I was getting skill ups even off regular Saronite mines (which were green). That meant I would need just one lap to get the skill ups I needed. Just like I thought, there were only a couple of people in the zone. But as I came around the first turn, SilverDragon went off. What? Could it be? I blinked twice to make sure I wasn't imaging things, but there he was, Loqen'hak, the first Spirit Beast introduced to the game. I quickly switched from my leveling MM spec to a BM spec and started a tame only to receive the message "You already have a pet, nummnutts!" (You get 'special' error messages as a Hunter, true story.) I dismissed my lion, Aslan, and again started the tame. A few moments later, Loq was mine.
Off to a great start, I finished my circuit at 469 Mining. Then I flew over Wintergrasp and picked up another couple of points on my way to Howling Fjord and Vengeance Landing where I took the Zeppelin to Undercity. From Undercity, I fired up the Turbo-Charged Flying Machine and flew down to the Twilight Highlands. It felt like I was the only person mining. For the most part, I didn't agro any mob when I started mining. The one time I did, they made quick work of both me and Aslan(Lion). I switched Aslan for CocaCola (my Polar Bear). He took a beating much better from the mobs when I aggroed them, but it I still had to use Last Stand to get him through alive.
I missed the first Guild run of Blackrock Caverns, but the guys said it wasn't too tough. There will be many, many opportunities to run it with them later, and we'll be sick of all the Cataclysm dungeons sooner than we like. I've got to remember our groups form via vent rather than guild chat, and hang out there more.
I made two circuits and then the Illustrious Grand Master achievement dinged. I always thought it strange you didn't get an achievement for completing a profession. I see now they fixed that in Cataclysm. I sent some ore off to a guild mate who had helped me farm up Khorium for the Flying Machine, Area 52 Teleporter, etc. and hearted to Ogrimmar. I mailed the rest of the ore to my banker. Elementium had already dropped from 90g per stack to 60g per stack in just a few hours.
At this point, I was already 20% through level 80, but it was time to start leveling in earnest. Keeping to the 'hit 'em where they ain't' I pulled out my Goblin Communication Hyper Attuned Transmitter (G.C.H.A.T). The chatter seemed to indicate that Hyjal was the more crowded zone, so I boarded the boat for Vash'ir.
It didn't take long to get used to the 3D environment, or to remember how much I hate leveling on a PVP server. True story, when I first rolled my characters, my friend who introduced to the game insisted rolling on PVP servers. I had no idea what the choice meant at the time. Now I have my guild and all my in-game friends on PVP Server, but if I were to go back and start over, I'd be on a PVE server all the way. A group of 4 Alliance characters were leveling in the same area. Knowing Blizzard, they were probably after the same quest mobs. I was never that good at PVP to begin with and even if I was 4v1 wasn't something I was going to win. The Hunter of their group decided to kill me, and kill me again. I guess they got bored because the next time I rezzed they had moved on. The rest of the night, I saw Horde and Alliance within spitting distance of each other, but not fighting. We even shared the quest hub in the cave about halfway through the zone.
I enjoyed the quests, but none really stood out to me, other than the innuendo laced quests from one of the human females in the cave. I can't imagine how tough it must have been in those first few hours with everyone in the zone needing the same conch shell to get the permanent water breathing spell. What stood out to me more than any individual quest was the extensive use of Voice Over to accompany the quest, and the many cut scenes, both using the in game engine (like when you board the boat for Vash'ir) and pre-rendered like the Pirates of the Caribbean inspired 'inciting incident' that starts you on your heroic journey. It seems Blizzard wanted to strengthen their 'Fourth Pillar' a bit in this expansion. Gee, I wonder why? ;-)
I finished the night about halfway through 80. Unfortunately, I couldn't find an inn in the area of Vash'ir I was in, so I won't have a ton of rested when I get back online. Our Druid Main Tank, Blue, was very close to being our first 85 when he logged off. I'm sure he'll get it tonight. I saw Realm Firsts for Paladin, Alchemy, and First Aid during my time last night. Apparently the first Realm First 85 went to a Death Knight.