After nearly eight years of covering World of Warcraft from the same old character, I'm taking next month's Warlords of Draenor expansion as an opportunity to start fresh with a class I've never played before. Meet Prachok, the rapidly-leveling Draenai Shaman.

My Mage, Rande, has served me well over the years. He started off undead. He switched to Alliance as a Worgen when the wolf-folk came into play. He gender-changed and became a female panda with the Mists of Pandaria expansion. He's been through a lot. It's time for him to rest.

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Instead of getting Rande his last few levels to 90, I'm going to use the free level 90 upgrade offered with Warlords of Draenor pre-orders. All I need to do is get my new guy to level 60, use the upgrade, and bam — I've got a set of cool armor, a free flying mount, some more gold to play with and my two primary crafting professions (plus First Aid) automatically maxed out.

I've never played a Shaman past level 20 or so in World of Warcraft. I've always figured the class was too complicated, what with all of the totems and the like. I've played some pretty complicated classes in the past — EverQuest's Bard, Anarchy Online's Bureaucrat — but that was when I had nothing but time. Now I need something much more streamlined and simple.

Luckily for me, the Shaman has changed greatly over the past few years. In fact, all of World of Warcraft's characters have been pared down to the bare essentials. There is no skill training — you get skills at the predetermined level. They just appear on your bar. And there's no real worrying about your class' role. At level 10 you're given three well-defined choices.

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In Prachok's case I went Elemental, because it seemed the most straightforward. I don't want to worry about healing people (yet). I just want to hurt things in helpful ways. A quick search online showed overwhelming support for the spec for leveling up, so I went with it.

Not only are the various specs well-defined, there's a cheat-sheet right in the interface. It tells me to do these things. I do them, and I seem to get by.

I've been leveling pretty quickly. In a little under a day — much of that spent dicking around — I'm already at level 38, thanks to the game's handy Dungeon Finder.

I started leveling up by questing, doing the normal grind, but once I hit level 15 or so I started doing random dungeons and haven't looked back. With a ripe queue I can level up twice in an hour. It's kind of ridiculous, really.

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But I'm having a good time. With the game's Hallow's End Halloween event in full swing, there's plenty of side quests to distract me from leveling.

Plus I rolled my character on the role-playing realm of Moon Guard, home of the filthiest town in all of Azeroth, Goldshire, home of horrible people looking for passable role-playing sex. Sometimes I just sit there watching the chat roll by, cringing fiercely.

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I'm mostly staying on task, and I should reach level 60 far in advance of Warlords of Draenor's November 13 release date. Well, if I can stop getting distracted by pet battles.

Are you getting ready for the expansion, or is World of Warcraft a cold, dead thing to you? Let us know in the comments.