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Zone planning

20.04.2010

You are a math-whiz? You like Operational Research? You have free time to devote to absolutely useless problems?

Yes?

Then this should keep you amused for some time:

Given eight (8) characters, who are all Alliance aligned, find a path through all Old World zones (except Horde Capitals and starting zones, obviously) without leaving a gap to grind in between. And with as few repetitions of zones and quests as possible. While minimising travel time when transitioning between zones, to keep a logical and organic flow going.

So far I’ve got three character paths mapped out up to the step “switch to Outland” and two more characters up to level 40. On one monitor I have an annotated map of Azeroth and a spreadsheet containing my character info, on the other the zones by level guide from the WoW-Wiki. It gets more complicated though, since not all neutral zones have quests for the whole level range for Alliance. Hillsbrad Foothills, for example, is officially a 20-30 zone, but Alliance quests start much higher than that. Others have quests, but not nearly enough to level out of the zone. And then there are the Barrens, which are nominally Horde territory, that I currently use to complement my leveling in Stonetalon Mountains, which in turn lacks the low level neutral quests that the Barrens have.

It’s a kind of mixture between Sudoku and the traveling salesman problem. I know that with 8 characters (and eventually 10 when Cataclysm hits and I hit level 55 for a Death Knight) there will be repetitions. But keeping them at a minimum is my goal, especially since I plan to keep my characters at roughly the same level throughout. If it wasn’t so specific, I think this problem would actually be a pretty cool task for a student of Computer Science to automate and calculate the best possible solution.

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