17/09/2019

Classic Dungeoneering

One of the interesting side effects of my current altoholism in Classic is that I've probably run Ragefire Chasm and Wailing Caverns more often in the last three weeks than I ever did them in modern WoW, which is quite ironic considering that modern WoW since at least Wrath of the Lich King has had a heavy focus on spamming dungeons, while Classic does not. However, levels 1-15 go by quickly, and if you enjoy running dungeons, why wouldn't you then jump right into Ragefire Chasm at the first opportunity?

Here are some of the things I've learned about RFC in the last three weeks:

- If you bring someone of level 12 or lower along, when running up the ramp to the lost satchel and Oggleflint, you run the risk of aggroing the entire other half of the trogg area (which most people never go into) from across the gap between the two paths. One of my groups learned this the hard way, but it was kind of amusing at the same time to suddenly be buried under a dozen troggs coming seemingly out of nowhere.

- The quest to collect two books for Varimathras has an awful drop rate, and you're pretty lucky if both books drop in a single run. It's quite possible to kill every single mob in the instance and only get one of the two books, forcing you to do a whole second run just for the second book.

- If you go up the ramp to Bazzalan first, you can then pull Jergosh the Invoker with a ranged attack from up top without engaging most of his trash. He'll run all the way round and up to you while only bringing two or three adds with him.

And some lessons I learned in Wailing Caverns:

- All the quests that require you to collect anything are best started early and can be partially or fully completed among/from the elites outside the dungeon itself, in a smaller group or even solo if your character is of a high enough level. This is a good idea because if you go into the instance with a full group of five that has all the quests, there won't be anything close to enough Serpentbloom, Deviate Hides or Wailing Essence to go around.

- Apparently tremor totem can break the annoying sleep cast by many of the enemies inside the caverns themselves. Unfortunately for me I only found out about this after my own shaman had made it through an entire run cursing about the stupid sleep spell and (as I thought) being unable to do anything about it.

- Even fifteen years later, with all the add-ons and internet resources one could possibly want, people still get confused about which way to go inside WC (including myself). I love it.

In general, all of my runs have been very pleasant. There were a couple of wipes, but people were always good-natured about them.

In general it feels great to be grouping with people again who all clearly want to be there and actively want to take in the whole dungeon as an experience. As soon as a party has fully formed, everyone will make their way towards the instance without prompting, and if someone is delayed they'll make sure to let the others know. Quests are often shared without anyone having to ask for it, and nobody minds killing a few extra trash packs to help with someone else's quest, or to get access to a chest for example. (One RFC group I had even gleefully went on to kill every single mob in the instance, "because XP".)

Who'd have thought that dungeon runs could be far more pleasant when they only involve people who actively want to be there and aren't afraid of talking to other players? As opposed to consisting of people who just want to get their weekly done or who pressed the queue button without necessarily even knowing where exactly it would take them.

Ah, but what about the horrible group forming experience of (in the words of J. Allen Brack himself) having to "spam cities and say 'need a tank, need a tank, need a tank'"? Well, that was never my reality, and it isn't now either.

Belghast made a post the other week about how to group successfully in Classic, and it reminded me a lot of a similar guide I once wrote on my old guild's forums back in the Burning Crusade. I, too, remember being somewhat exasperated at the time with certain groups of players who were forever complaining that it was sooo hard to get into a group while simultaneously being unwilling to make even the tiniest bit of effort to actually make it happen. Long before any developers had dreamed up the modern dungeon finder, there were always people who just expected groups to simply happen to them - and surprise, surprise... that never worked.

If you know what to do on the other hand, if you're not afraid of starting your own groups and starting them in a sensible way (which is to say involving a tank or a healer), and if you're happy to leave a solo quest for later when somone is LFM for something you need, it was always fairly easy to get stuff done and still is.

What makes things even smoother in Classic is that the servers are so insanely big and busy that you can find a group for pretty much anything at almost any time of day right now. Oddly enough, I've had the most trouble finding groups as a healer... similar to my experience on Darrowshire, there was a period where there seemed to be a proper glut of healers in my level bracket and you were actually more likely to find people looking for dps. I'm hoping that this will get better with time though.

Anyway, my own pro tip beyond agreeing with most of Belghast's advice is to join the LookingForGroup channel, which is always abuzz with activity. In fact, on my server I only join it when I'm actively looking for a group and then leave it again immediately afterwards as it otherwise drowns out all other chat that I'm following. As it's a global channel, people can shout about all kinds of grouping requests in there while happily continuing with their questing wherever. Not that I've really had to do that, considering that you can often find a group within mere minutes anyway.

12/09/2019

Life Is Inconvenient Sometimes

Classic continues to roll along and is inspiring all kinds of interesting thoughts from fellow bloggers. Bhagpuss writes about how his play sessions being drawn out and chaotic makes them all the more memorable and fun, while Rohan muses on how to define where Classic's perceived difficulty (or lack thereof) comes from. Belghast tries to explain the reason's for Classic's success and does a pretty great job at it as far as I'm concerned (I'm definitely one of the "embittered veterans" he describes who is back and having a blast).

That's all very interesting, but for me personally the subject of (in)convenience has been on my mind more than anything else. "Just you wait", I've seen detractors of Classic say, "they'll get tired of all the inconveniences soon enough!" And even some people who're generally enjoying themselves find themselves longing for certain conveniences sometimes.

Occasionally I've heard people express the sentiment that it would be nice if all the hype around Classic would result in Retail WoW (I hate calling it that, but Blizzard has pretty much made it official by using that as the folder name...) maybe regaining some of its worldliness without all of Classic's inconveniences. This, to me, sounds pretty akin to wanting to make an omelette without breaking any eggs.

Having played Classic for two weeks now I've been finding it striking how much of a "world simulator" it really is and how much of that has been lost in more modern MMOs.

How do you make a simulation of anything? By reproducing as many of its characteristics in virtual form as possible. What are some basic characteristics of life/the world? That it's damn inconvenient! Humans are weak, extremely sensitive to temperature, need to breathe, eat, sleep and defecate at regular intervals, and going anywhere takes bloody forever without some enhanced mode of transportation.

Now, nobody is saying that any game should strive to simulate all of those things (you can keep your poop gameplay, ARK), but Classic checks a surprising amount of boxes. Our characters don't automatically die without food or drink, but limited self-healing encourages its frequent consumption anyway. If you go underwater, you can only hold your breath for a relatively short amount of time (unless you're undead, which makes a certain kind of sense). And yes, unaided movement is incredibly slow.

While you're moving around, you're also forced to look at the world around you and interact with it. I think the lack of a built-in quest tracking UI is a great example. It forces you to read - and I mean really read, not just skim - the instructions you're given, orientate yourself on the map and figure out where your objective is supposed to be relative to your current position. While moving about, you may find yourself looking out for actual landmarks, such as a bridge, a tower or a large tree. I'm no neuroscientist, but I'm pretty sure that stimulates our brains in very different ways compared to simply lining up our character's movement towards the glowing UI marker, and I don't see how that feeling could be reproduced without at least some sort of push towards forcing the player to take their environment seriously.

It's also worth noting that many players actively enjoy this sort of pottering around and that it only becomes an inconvenience once we decide that we care more about an MMO's "gamey" elements than about pretending to be in a virtual world - when we'd rather finish that quest or complete that dungeon as quickly as possible. And I get why that becomes more of a concern over time, after you've seen much of the world and explored it, but I still think that in hindsight it may have been a mistake for the WoW devs to worship at the altar of convenience as quickly as they did.

Mind you, I'm not saying that less worldly, more gamey MMOs are objectively bad. As Bhagpuss also noted only today, it's quite possible to enjoy both types at different times and for different reasons. Personally I've been playing Star Wars: The Old Republic for the last eight years and while I think many of its environments are gorgeous, I wouldn't claim that it's a particularly worldly game in terms of geography. However, it also doesn't need to be, as I play it for the stories and the characters - a world of narrative, if you will.

In my opinion a big problem in the gaming industry is that whenever something is successful, they seem to immediately jump to the conclusion that this one thing is clearly what everybody wants, all the time, and therefore all major games should be the same. I remember hearing so many times that the way WoW changed over the years was necessary, that it was simply what the market demanded.

From that point of view, Classic's success feels like a triumph and a comfort, as it shows that there absolutely is room and even demand for a different kind of game, for a different kind of audience that wants a bit of worldliness in their MMO but still wants to play an actual MMO as opposed to something like Minecraft.

Now if you'll excuse me for a bit, I'll be back to pretending that I'm barefoot, walking uphill in the snow, and enjoying every minute of it.

08/09/2019

A Cow Goes To Dwarven Lands

I made another alt. I'm kind of surprised by my own excitement about making alts right now, because I don't remember being that much of an altoholic back in Vanilla. On private servers I was even more focused on the moment and on progressing with what I already had, since you never knew how long the server was going to be around.

With Classic though, I guess I feel more secure in "collecting" alts, knowing that the game will be around for the long run. Plus I'm more aware of the benefits of having multiple characters with complementary professions and how they can help each other out than I was back in 2005.

Also, I honestly kind of needed another alt. As I mentioned, my shaman is waiting for my husband to catch up, and my druid is the character I'm using to get him there. What was I supposed to do when he doesn't feel like playing? Play a different game? Pfft.

Anyway, with the whole wide world of Warcraft open to me, two different factions and six different starting zones, I made... a third tauren. Don't ask me why, I guess I just love them that much. And I made her a hunter because hunters are fun and both Bhagpuss and Wilhelm talking about adventuring on their lowbie hunters made me itch for one of my own even more.

The one thing I did in order not to burn myself out on Mulgore was take my newest noobcow over to Durotar to do the quests there instead. All the starting zones are still quite busy, but if you make a point of playing during off-hours you can get quite a lot done in a short time.

The levels up to the big ten, spent sadly pet-less of course, were mostly unremarkable except for that one time when I teamed up with an orc warlock on the Echo Isles and his low level combined with a warlock's typical love for fearing things caused utter mayhem among the voodoo trolls, with both of us eventually running off into different directions with barely a sliver of health left and only just surviving. But that's just another day in Classic, I guess.

I also saved his life once by bandaging him. You can take away my healing spells but you can't take away my urge to keep others alive!

Anyway, at level ten it was back to Mulgore to learn how to tame a pet. I only died once... or was it twice? during the quest, the first time due to the fact that I'd forgotten that dismissing my temporary pet would cause it to become hostile towards me and I did so at a very bad time.

And then of course came the eternal question: Which pet to choose as my permanent companion? As someone with a bit of experience as a hunter I wasn't just going to pick up a common one from the near vicinity; I wanted it to be special. (You can read about my previous history of hunter pets here.)

Eventually I settled on wanting a white bear, a model that's only available from two named mobs until close to the level cap. One of them's a rare, so I discarded that option since I had no interest in spawn-camping him. The other was "just" a named quest mob in Dun Morogh, the shared starter zone for gnomes and dwarves. Let me tell you, for a level 10 tauren that's very, very far away! However, that only made me even more determined to go for it.

So the unknowing target of my future affections was going to be a level 11 bear called Mangeclaw. My own hunter was only halfway through level 10 by that point (and you need to be the same level as the pet you want to tame or higher), but the journey to Dun Morogh was so long that I was confident that I'd be able to fill out the rest of my bar by the time I arrived.

I'd already been to Orgrimmar, so I started by taking the zeppelin to Undercity and hoofing it down to the Sepulcher. At that point I took all my gear off because I knew there was going to be a lot of death in my future and I didn't want to damage it unnecessarily. And then I was off.

I suffered my first death to some wizards in southern Silverpine, and from then on it only got worse. Why are there so many spiders so close to the road in Hillsbrad? I was reminded that if you die too often in quick succession, you actually have to wait a couple of minutes before you're able to take control of your body again. That was quite boring, but I passed the time by watching some YouTube videos on the side.

Arathi Highlands was the worst, with my poor cow often barely being able to run a few meters after reviving before being ganked by a high-level spider yet again. In hindsight though, I could have saved myself some tedium by not detouring to Hammerfall to pick up the flight path there, as most of my deaths occurred on the unsecured path between that and Refuge Pointe.

It was getting quite late in the evening by that point, but to be honest that only served to spur me on even more, as it meant that I was less likely to encounter random Alliance players looking to kill Mangeclaw for their quest.

After all that, getting out of Arathi felt like a breath of fresh air, and I made it through the Wetlands without even a single death. While crossing the tunnels to Loch Modan I fell victim to the dwarven mountaineers a couple of times, but compared to what had come before those deaths barely registered.

And then I was there at last, Dun Morogh and the little clearing with Mangeclaw in it, with no competition! Unfortunately I was still three bars away from level 11, so I had to start off by killing all the other wildlife in the area. Originally I considered going further in to find more hunt targets, but there were so many mountaineers in the narrow pass that I decided not to risk it and waited for respawns instead. During my second round of clearing the area I dinged level 11.

Then I went off to tame old Mangey... and promptly got killed by him. I'd known that he had a ravage attack which was likely to interrupt my first taming attempt, but I didn't have enough health left by the time I started the second cast, so I died shortly before it could finish.

You'd think that one more corpse run was nothing after spending literally more than an hour just to get there, but I did feel a little offended by having been killed by the very target of my hunter's affections. Fortunately I got it right the second time - my first taming attempt was interrupted again, but this time I had a healing potion at the ready to drink up before re-casting the tame, which allowed me to succeed with just a little bit of health left. So I finally got my bear!

I remember my first pet on Kronos being super grumpy and requiring a huge amount of feeding to improve his mood, but it seems that this is another thing that private servers have overtuned, because a single slab of boar meat and a shiny red apple were enough to get Mangey, now renamed to Snowclaw, from unhappy to cheerful, and he stayed there for a while. As it was 3am by that time I hearthed out.

And now every experienced hunter I'll meet will know to just what lengths I'm willing to go for the right pet! Until I get close to the level cap that is, at which point he could be mistaken for any old bear from Winterspring I guess. But knowing me and my levelling speed, that point in time is a very long way off.

06/09/2019

More Classic Moments

My shaman had already made it into the low twenties when my husband suddenly decided that he was going to play too. He used to play WoW back in Wrath of the Lich King, but his history with the game isn't as long and sordid as my own, and he had previously told me that he had no particular interest in Classic and that my giggling fits brought on by how bad some things used to be weren't exactly selling it to him either.

However, he is very much an MMO player, and I think he could only take so many days of me going bananas over Classic until curiosity won out. Me complaining about being unable to keep up with my tank levelling buddy one evening just served as the perfect excuse for him to graciously suggest that he could roll up a character and come tank for me.

So I parked the shaman for now and made a druid to level with him instead. Once they're about the same level, I plan to switch back to the shammy, though to be honest the druid has been great fun as well.

It's amazing to me just how intensely I'm loving the whole Classic experience, even though I've been here before. Even though I've been here before only a couple of years ago on a private server! It just feels magical all over again anyway, and I find myself taking screenshots of all kinds of silly things, like the first time my shaman rode the elevator up to Thunder Bluff.
Or the first time she rode the zeppelin from Orgrimmar. (Reminder: The Thunder Bluff zeppelin connection wasn't actually added until Wrath of the Lich King.)

Or the first time she met Sylvanas Wildrunner in the Undercity. Remember when good old Sylvanas was basically just a nelf in a black dress? In hindsight, I kinda liked her more that way. "Sad goth" somehow seemed like a more appropriate look for a forsaken banshee than "Xena, warrior princess".

Sometimes I take a look around and simply go: "What the hell?" You bet that I didn't remember that the Horde used to make rugs out of centaurs. Talk about savage!

I said in my launch night post that competition for mobs didn't seem too bad in the tauren starter zone, but I gotta say, once basically all four Horde races end up getting funnelled into the Barrens, things became pretty hellish at times. Worst so far has been the quest to kill quillboar leader Kreenig Snarlsnout, who for some reason has a ridiculously long respawn timer.

On my shaman we stuck it out and camped him with a full group of five, competing with several other such groups for the tag. Doing the quest again on my druid and with my husband, we didn't have the patience for the competition at the camp and eventually got it done by logging in briefly in the morning before work, when even (at least our layer of) the Barrens was blissfully quiet.

I'm oddly fond of seeing player skeletons around. In the below screenshot we came back after a wipe in Wailing Caverns and the pile of skeletons was basically like a mark of shame to remind us of how we'd messed up here. When we're out questing, my husband also loves to point out the skeletons everywhere. When they suddenly multiply it's like a warning that you're entering dangerous territory.

While waiting for the rest of my party to arrive at the Wailing Caverns, I went outside to fish. A couple of Alliance players ran circles around the area, presumably also waiting for the rest of their team to show up, one of them a druid in bear form. After they ran past for the umpteenth time, I decided to turn into ghost wolf form and initiated a /dance with the bear, who promptly reciprocated.

It made me think of how little I use fun emotes like that in MMOs these days, even though they are plentiful. I think it's because the most natural situation in which to use them is during downtime in the company of other people, which is something that's consistently been shaved away as "tedious" and "boring". I'm glad Classic is reminding me of how these little moments can still make me smile.

As I play on the server called Pyrewood Village, I of course had to take a screenshot of the first time I discovered Pyrewood Village. I'd totally forgotten that this was the place with the worgen! For some reason I'd thought that it was one of the Furbolg villages in Felwood...

Another noteworthy first: The first warlock summon I participated in. At low levels I've run into quite a few people who didn't remember that meeting stones didn't gain summoning functionality until 2.0 (to be fair, I'd forgotten too until the private servers reminded me) and asked to be summoned places until they were reminded that this was a no-go and they'd have to hoof it themselves. Unless you've got a warlock of course, which does feel like a proper treat when it happens (and also serves to immediately encourage extreme laziness in some people).

While my druid was in Silverpine Forest for her seal form quest, she got assaulted by a Son of Arugal but fortunately got away. Putting a wandering level 25 elite amidst a bunch of level ten mobs is one of those things that no modern MMO would dare to do for fear of frustrating people, but personally I find it quite entertaining.

A bit later I saw a level 24 undead mage fight (possibly even the same) Son of Arugal and he had nearly got him down but only had a tiny sliver of health left himself! So I ran up and spammed all the little heals I had on him to keep him up, and it was enough to buy him enough time to achieve victory. He may have been grateful for the save, but to me he was the hero for successfully ridding the land (at least temporarily) of this bane of many a low-level player. I just love little moments like that.

04/09/2019

Classic World Firsts

I'm not usually someone to pay attention to world first boss kills and such, though Method has been in the news a lot for making an increasingly large song and dance about them in WoW's most recent raid tiers. However, I can't deny that I was kind of curious how quickly people would "beat" WoW Classic once it was released.

The first person to reach level 60 did so less than four days after Classic's launch - which was slightly faster than I would have expected (I was thinking it would be a bit closer to a week), but not hugely surprising. It's telling that the person to achieve this feat, a streamer called Jokerd, did so with a mage on whom he spent all his time AoE-grinding mobs.

That just goes to show again that XP gains in Classic were not balanced around doing quests - you were still supposed to kill mobs above everything else, and the quests were just there to give context to your actions and guide people from one zone to the next as they levelled up.

What was surprising to me was that the world first Ragnaros kill came only two days later, achieved by a former private server guild called APES. I had expected that one to take several days longer, not because of the boss fights being in any way difficult, but mostly because of the Hydraxian Waterlords reputation grind required to douse the runes in Molten Core.

Apparently you can "funnel" rep to specific people though? I'm not sure how it works, but I read that this is what they did, so that a lot of people's work could boost a dedicated "rune douser" up more quickly than the rest of the group. I guess they learnt some tricks in all their years of playing on private servers.

The most shocking revelation though was that half the raid group wasn't even level 60 yet when they got their kill, and only the main tank wore anything resembling decent gear. I would have expected the bosses' damage output to be harsh enough to make this sort of group composition unfeasible, but apparently it's just a matter of bringing enough healers: their particular group setup included 12 of them, or 30% of the raid group.

As a guildie pointed out, none of these early bosses have enrage timers, so as long as you have enough heals to keep people alive you can pretty much keep going for as long as you want. When APES also scored the world first Classic Onyxia kill shortly afterwards, they didn't even go in with a full raid. Then a whole bunch of people died early on, and they finished her off with only twelve characters left alive.

Again, I'm not surprised that these bosses didn't require much in terms of tactics or strategy to be killed successfully; I always thought that was fairly obvious. I was somewhat taken aback by how little it took in terms of gear and individual preparation though, which does make me wonder whether this will have a knock-on effect on how raiding will work in Classic.

I have no doubt that many guilds were all primed to go into this with quite a degree of seriousness, requiring people to acquire pre-raid best-in-slot gear, getting it all enchanted and bringing in stacks of consumables. Now I can't help but wonder though if the average player will be willing to put up with such stringent requirements when APES have shown just how little it actually takes to kill these bosses. I'm curious to see how that will pan out over time.

31/08/2019

A Shaman's Life

Wilhelm writes about taming his first hunter pet and Syncaine is forced to learn how to play a rogue. One of the great things about Classic is that all the classes are very unique both in terms of gameplay and in terms of world view/narrative as it's portrayed through their class quests.

Shamans for example have their totems, and those totems have meaning to them. To you they may just be glowy sticks on the ground that give you buffs, but to a shaman, every totem they've acquired had its price.

I mentioned in my post about picking a class that I didn't actually level a shaman to cap until Wrath of the Lich King, but I did at least dabble in the low levels back in the day. Also, a lot of class mechanics were still intact in early Wrath anyway, though there were additional conveniences such as a decent UI for totem management.

One thing I'd completely forgotten though is that totems took up bag space back in the day. What, these items that my character is supposed to be carrying around with her at all times actually go into my bags? What does this game think it is, some sort of roleplaying game or world simulation? Shocking.

Something I hadn't entirely forgotten were the quests to acquire each elemental totem, though apparently I'd forgotten when you get the first one. I actually made it all the way to level ten without acquiring a single totem and was then surprised when my trainer offered me the quest for the fire totem, which I knew to be the second one. Turns out I'd completely missed the one for my earth totem in the starter area, something I immediately had to go back and rectify.

Shamanism mostly seems to be about imbibing strange liquids and then seeing things that other people don't see. The earth totem quest has you going to a place where all you see is a rock, but then you drink some sapta and ooh, a giant elemental appears! Groovy.

Shamans also like going to weird corners of Azeroth that you wouldn't even know exist if you're not a shaman yourself. For example the fire totem quest has you climbing an extremely narrow path in the very corner of Durotar to visit an elemental shrine on top of a high mountain. I actually thought I might have mentioned that one on the blog when I did it for the very first time back in the day, but I can't find any evidence of it now.

The quest also asks you to steal something from some cultists in a cave in Durotar, and I went to completely the wrong cave at first and spent about twenty minutes killing mobs inside until it started to dawn on me that something might be wrong. Then I googled the correct location, yet still had trouble finding it for ages because again, it requires you to follow a very specific path just to find that one small cave with half a dozen cultists in it who are just there to have their stuff stolen by shamans.

But the worst/most interesting one is the quest for your water totem that you get at level 20. Ask any shaman about their call of water and watch them break out into cold sweat at the mere memory. It's not actually hard... but for some reason it involves a ridiculous amount of running around.

You start just south of Ratchet, then get sent to the Southern Barrens, then to Hillsbrad Foothills (!), then back to the Barrens, then to Ashenvale, then back to the Barrens again, then you get sent back to Ratchet and since that's where you started you think that you might finally be done but nooo, one more detour to Silverpine Forest (!) please before it's back to Ratchet once again. And all that on foot, because remember, in Classic you don't get mounts until level 40. I suppose the fact that shamans also get the ghost wolf ability at level 20 soothes the pain a little, but it's still quite a trek to make for a single low-level quest chain.

Ironically, the call of air is then really easy from what I remember... though I might be wrong, as my tauren shaman hasn't gotten to that one yet.

Anyway, while all that may sound a bit ranty, I actually think that these quests are really neat, and the fact that you have to pay attention or overcome some obstacles just makes them more memorable. That every class gets these little stories that form a shared experience among all members of that class - and that class only - is pretty cool.

29/08/2019

A Cow Goes To Westfall

After two days of binging on World of Warcraft Classic, I've already got so many stories to tell that I hardly know where to begin... but since what I'm thinking of today is a particularly easy post to make, I'll jump right ahead and tell you how my little shaman and friends went to run the Deadmines as Horde.

Basically, Nemi and I were undecided last night: we wanted to run another dungeon but couldn't decide which one. We'd just done Wailing Caverns in the early afternoon (and it had taken quite long), so we didn't want to do that again right away, and we weren't really of a high enough level yet to go for the next obvious targets, Shadowfang Keep and Blackfathom Deeps.

Then she had an idea: How about... doing Deadmines as Horde? It's quite a hike and there are no quests, but it would certainly be an adventure! A quick shout-out in the guild we've joined immediately yielded some volunteers.

After a brief discussion about what would be the quickest way to get to Westfall as Horde, we took the zeppelin to Grom'gol and made our way from there, trying a number of different routes. Personally I went for "trying to swim up the coast", but being too close to the beach I got killed by crocolisks and murlocs multiple times. I should have followed the example of our priest, who had ventured much further out into the water and didn't die once from what I could tell.

 
I found it quite interesting to see this giant gate at the very Northern edge of Stranglethorn - presumably that's where the Defias ship actually goes out into the sea (if you ever wondered how and why there is a ship inside a cave).
We hung out at the meeting stone for a few minutes while some members who had travelled differently had to wait for their res sickness debuff to wear off. A number of Alliance came over and gawked at us, understandably. I'd been similarly surprised when I crossed a group of Alliance players upon exiting the Wailing Caverns earlier in the day.

Our group was quite a nice one, and the rogue amused everyone by insisting that the mage should conjure water for him too because he was thirsty, and then sat down to drink with the casters every time. (We're not on an RP server by the way.)

Also, at one point another guildie noticed our location and basically broke out in giggles in guild chat about what a mad bunch of nerds we were.

Most of the run was pretty smooth (not least because we were on the high end of the level range for Deadmines) but we did suffer two near wipes: one on an accidental pull of Captain Greenskin with loads of trash and one on Van Cleef himself. Someone with a res always managed to escape by jumping off the ship though, which caused the mobs to evade and then the rest of the party could be revived without having to do a corpse run.

As mentioned there are no quests for Hordies in the Deadmines, but I briefly got excited when I could loot the quest item that drops from Van Cleef. It turned out to just be a racist letter though.

Overall, it was a fun little adventure to occupy our evening. It's not something I'd ever done back in Vanilla or on private servers. However, one thing that's quickly becoming apparent about Classic is that it invites people to be playful and that old content is no reason not to have new adventures.