AQ and Paladin Update

It's been about ten days since the war effort started and as I predicted, the rate of progression slowed down a lot after the first day on both of the servers that I play on. If it had stayed the same, Pyrewood Village would have been done after four days and Hydraxian Waterlords after seven. Needless to say, neither server is actually there yet.

We get all these headlines about how some streamer/super hardcore server got everything done within hours but I'd be highly dubious of any claims that this is the sort of pace at which the average player experiences the game. Things may go faster than they did back in the day, but I suspect that most people who choose to play Classic still play at a much more casual/old-school pace than those reports would have you believe.

Anyway, I plugged the numbers into my percentage calculation spreadsheet, and as it stands Pyrewood Village is three quarters of the way towards being done, while Hydraxian Waterlords is almost halfway there. I like that the two servers' progression rates are so different, as it means that I'll have not one but two chances at potentially seeing the gate opening event!

One thing that was interesting to note was that despite the faction imbalance on both servers, the war effort progression percentages are now almost identical for both factions. Since both servers are PvE, I wouldn't be surprised if some Alliance raiders had made an effort to even things out a bit - it's not like it's difficult to roll up a Horde alt and farm some wool cloth in the Barrens (or transfer things via the neutral auction house if you want to be more organised I guess).

In terms of material progress, the low-level hand-ins continue to be the bottlenecks, with linen and wool bandages sitting at 18 and 31% completion respectively on Hydraxian Waterlords. On Pyrewood Village it seems like someone made a concerted effort to get bandages up - while they still have a long way to go, they are not the least provided items anymore. That honour now goes to light leather on Alliance side and Peacebloom on Horde. Alliance is actually 100% finished with herbs, well done!

All the extra demand for low-level materials actually makes this a really good time to play lowbie alts, because you'll get a lot more bang for your buck than usual when putting stacks of linen and the like up on the auction house. This inspired me to spend some more time playing on my human pally, but for some reason it's just not clicking this time and I don't know why. Everything just feels so slow and I keep dying! 

Which is all the more ridiculous considering that when I levelled my pally on Kronos (which was supposedly much higher tuned than Classic), she didn't even die once until a Defias Pillager got her in a cave in Westfall. Though now that I just went back and looked at that post in its entirety again, I did mention dying a lot around that level range too. Anyway, in one play session about a month ago I died so many times to fireballing dragon whelps in Redridge that I eventually just logged off and didn't log that character again in weeks. This time around things have felt a bit better, but casters are still a major pain and I just feel weak. I fear that levelling two easymode hunters in a row may have spoiled me a bit for difficulty.


The Time Has Come (for the AQ War Effort)

For someone who's "into" MMORPGs to the degree that I am, I'm surprisingly rubbish at keeping up with what's happening in Classic in terms of tweaks and patches. I guess that makes for a more authentic experience, considering that I had no clue what was happening to the game as a whole back in Vanilla either. Back then, every change came as a surprise to me.

Fortunately for me Wilhelm pointed out in a post that the AQ war effort started yesterday - I would have been disappointed if I had missed that. I wrote about my memories tied to the opening of the gates when the event first started on private server Kronos.

After reading that some guilds are apparently super prepared and have stocked up on enough materials to basically complete the collection pretty much instantly, I was curious to see how the two servers on which I have characters would fare in comparison. As a reminder, I play Horde on Pyrewood Village (PvE), and Alliance on Hydraxian Waterlords (RP-PvE).

 I could hear the sound of lots of people making bandages when I arrived.

I checked progress on both this afternoon, at which point it must have been about 24 hours since the hand-ins started, and while they were nowhere near done they were well underway. Pyrewood Village was about a third of the way there, while Hydraxian Waterlords had only handed in about 15% of the required materials - but then it has a notably smaller population.

One thing that was interesting to me was that even though both servers have an Alliance-Horde ratio of about 2:1, Horde on Hydraxian Waterlords isn't far behind the Alliance in terms of progress, while on Pyrewood Village, the Alliance has already done almost twice as many hand-ins.

On both servers there was a similar pattern of the high-level materials being provided much more quickly than the low-level ones - on both servers the Alliance was already full up on Thorium bars for example, while the bottlenecks on both appear to be linen bandages for Alliance and wool bandages for Horde. Those materials may well be easy to come by, but which raider wants to spend their time farming linen for hours?

My initial reaction was a brief surge of delight when I visited the Ironforge military ward on my night elf hunter and realised that one of the hand-ins was Spotted Yellowtails - I had just been fishing the day before to feed my pet and had several stacks of them, but was happy to donate them to the war effort instead. Of course, then I realised that all I'd get in return for my hand-ins was a piddly bit of rep, which I don't really care about, so...

I might just see if I can make a bit of money off people keen to do more hand-ins by farming materials. I had already been wondering why prices for Runecloth and wolf meat were suddenly noticeably higher than they'd been previously (before I had realised that the war effort had started).

And of course it would be cool if I could be there for the actual opening of the gates. On Kronos it was a bust for me due to the open world PvP, but fortunately I'm on two PvE servers this time around. Of course, the question remains of how soon we'll get there. The initial progress seems to indicate that the gates should open quite quickly, but then Kronos was full on Thorium bars on day one too and then ended up taking more than five months. While I don't think that things will be this slow on either of my servers in Classic, I do expect progress to slow down as people get rid of their stockpiles and find themselves having to do actual farming of otherwise fairly useless materials to advance the cause.


I Kind of Want to Play Retail Again

No, not BfA - and not really Shadowlands either. But I'm intrigued by this giant level squish that's supposed to come with the Shadowlands pre-patch and that's supposed to allow people to level (close) to the level cap in a single one of the old expansions. Plus there'll be a new starter experience too, and I'm always up for checking out one of those.

I could make a Draenei and level her through Outland, to get a refresher for how it feels in the live game before encountering in Classic TBC (whenever we'll get that).

My husband said he'd be game for levelling a pair of alts through Wrath (not a particular favourite of mine, but an opportunity to play with him again would be worth it).

The worgen druid that I levelled in MoP never finished all the zones there - after the squish she should be level 37 or so, so I could actually level her up by completing any remaining quests.

And of course I've never played through any of the expansion content that came with WoD and after.

I'm not sure I'd actually want to do all these things - but dipping my toes in and trying a couple actually sounds interesting, and it wouldn't require any additional purchases beyond the subscription I'm already paying for Classic. Plus you know that whenever that pre-expansion patch actually drops, all the blogosphere will be playing and writing about it, and it's always fun to be part of that sort of zeitgeist.


Level 60 Hunter, Round 2

My night elf hunter hit 60 today, hurray! In real world time, it took me a while to get there (almost six months), but in terms of /played the journey was actually about 16 hours shorter than on my tauren hunter. I guess not worrying about mount money this time around really paid off?

She dinged from handing in a quest in Eastern Plaguelands, though she hasn't actually done anything in that zone yet... the quest in question originally came from Winterspring and I only handed it in because the quest items took up four bag slots and I really wanted to get rid of them. Silithus is also still completely untouched. Once again, I can't really relate to people running out of quest content at the higher levels (though being rested a lot of the time definitely helps).
I already did a partial review of my levelling journey when this one hit level 40, so I'll just post a few more screenshots that I've taken since then:
I am easily amused, as evidenced here by me feeling the need to screenshot mine and another hunter's pets being shrunk by a curse in Uldaman. I'm pretty sure I have a similar screenshot of characters being affected by this in my original screenshot folder from Vanilla, because some things never get old.
In southern Stranglethorn, in the hills with the Venture Co. miners that throw explosives, I ran into a priest called Love who got herself into trouble with an accidental overpull. It was a situation I could relate to very well, so I quickly swooped in and saved her, which resulted in several grateful emotes. Being loved by Love tickled me.
Still the best escort in the game. Also, I actually managed to get my mechanical chicken this time around! On my tauren I remember the Tanaris beacon dropping once when she was still very low level and I was low on bag space, so I didn't pick it up at the time, figuring it would drop again soon enough, and then I could never get it to drop again, meaning I missed out on the third chicken escort you need to complete to get the pet. You bet I didn't make that mistake again.
Just as I was starting to wonder whether everyone's just that good in Classic and that's why we never wipe in any of the dungeons anymore, this Zul'farrak pug managed to wipe to Antu'sul in a pretty spectacular manner.
I remember this quest in Azshara being quite a pain back in the day because - being unsure of just which island I was supposed to go to - I spent a lot of time swimming around the coast in confusion. Fortunately I knew what to look for this time around. Also, while I recognise Xiggs Fuselighter as an obvious Star Wars reference now, I totally didn't get it back in the day and that makes it okay and not annoying in my book.
After the poor show I was treated to after saving Sharpbeak on private server Kronos a few years ago, it was nice to see him get rescued properly this time around.
Speaking of things that Kronos got wrong: Rexxar doesn't aggro on Alliance players! I'll never forget him and Misha chasing me halfway across Desolace on Kronos and how annoying that was...
In the ruins of Andorhal I found my first epic of Classic, but it was sadly underwhelming. I think I ended up selling it for twelve gold or so...
Wilhelm commented on this the other day, but it's always funny to get stuck in "rush hour" when you end up on the same boat as some guild on its way to Onyxia's lair (presumably). Makes the server feel very alive.
Talking about my tauren's levelling journey, I noted that Un'goro had been strangely devoid of devilsaurs, presumably hunted to extinction by keen skinners and leatherworkers. I don't know if this is less of a thing now with even better gear in the game or whether it's just because Hydraxian Waterlords has always been a bit quieter, but either way Un'goro wasn't nearly as empty there and I had to dodge out of the way of roaming devilsaurs more than once. One time I even ran into King Mosh himself.
Flying up and down the coast of Kalimdor I got to find out what happens if you get disconnected mid-flight - I thought you would appear at the nearest flightmaster or something, but nope - I reappeared in mid-air without a gryphon upon reconnecting and ended up plummeting onto what I think is an otherwise unreachable plateau in Stonetalon Mountains. I had a bit of a look around and then hearthed out, since I was nowhere near where I wanted to be and there didn't seem to be a safe way off.
I had virtually no memory of this escort quest in Felwood; I suppose I might have done it back in Vanilla but I'm pretty sure I didn't run into it on Kronos. Pretty sure I would have remembered the giant tree...
We'll see what I'll decide to focus on next.


Quo vado Classico?

In case your Latin isn't up to scratch (or in case mine isn't, hah), that subject line is meant to say: "Where do I go in Classic?"

My night elf hunter is slowly but surely approaching the level cap, and I finally gave in and rolled up another Alliance alt as well, a pally. I don't know what it is with me and paladins...

Nonetheless, I can't deny that I'm feeling a bit of ennui in regards to Classic. I've had a great time casually levelling to sixty on both factions, and I certainly wouldn't mind doing it again either - but probably not immediately, or with much haste. Maybe I should let my subscription lapse for a bit once my nelf hits sixty?

More than anything I've been feeling lonely in the game as of late. The other day I found that I had been kicked from my Horde guild for inactivity. That probably sounds more dramatic than it was, but still... Basically, I always knew that they had pretty strict activity requirements, so when I first started playing my nelf I still made sure to log into all my Horde characters at least once a week - but eventually I forgot, and was therefore removed. They didn't boot me from their Discord, where I'm still tagged as "guild friend" so there are no hard feelings or anything, but it still made me a bit sad in a way I hadn't anticipated.

I hadn't chosen this guild myself and just kind of ended up staying there after the friend who'd got me in stopped playing, and I never really got that tightly integrated due to my casual play style... but I did run a few dungeons with people, during all of which everyone was friendly and helpful, and of course being there when the main tank got his Thunderfury was exciting and memorable. I guess that despite of my limited involvement, I liked the feeling of belonging that being a member of the guild gave me. Playing completely on my own, without any attachments whatsoever, just makes me feel unmoored.

But do I have it in me to get attached again in Classic? I don't even know. For one thing I'd have to choose a faction/server to focus on - and despite of having more Horde characters, I find myself leaning more towards Alliance when given the choice. Horde has always been the faction I played because other people asked me to.

I'm just not sure I can bring enough value and regular activity to a guild to be a worthy member. I only really know how to be part of a guild in a pretty hardcore way, the sort of person who "lives" in that particular MMO and logs in every day, which is not how I've been playing Classic. I have of course observed other players being more casual members, but the kick from my Horde guild has been a harsh reminder that it's all too easy to be disposable when you're not around often enough, and as someone who gets pretty invested in guild matters I don't want to set myself up for more heartache if I forget to log into a particular character for a few weeks.


Night Elf Hunters Everywhere

A few weeks ago my night elf hunter had just landed in Searing Gorge and was about to go off in search of some incendosaurs when a call in general chat caught my attention: Someone was looking for exactly one more for the quest Overseer Maltorius, which I knew to be a pretty tough group quest. The request for exactly one more struck me as slightly odd because it seemed to imply that they already had four people, and surely that was enough to take him down, pretty tough or not?
Never one to pass up an opportunity for easy group content completion however, I asked for an invite and soon found myself partied up with two other night elf hunters, who were both dead, causing me to deduce that they had tried to take him on with the two of them and failed. I guess they figured that just one more person was going to be enough to tip the scales and that "LF1M" sounded more enticing than a generic "LFM".
After reviving near the boss, they partially fought their way back out to meet me on my way in. We felt pretty powerful: Three hunters with their pets is almost like six players! We hatched a plan to use ice traps and our pets to distract all the adds and nuke down the boss. We executed it pretty well too, but unfortunately it wasn't a good plan: the boss had so much health that he was still far from dead when our traps ran out and our pets died, resulting in another wipe.
After we had revived ourselves and all our pets, we decided to take the weakest of the adds on first on the next try. I think the boss then ran into one of our traps kind of by accident so that we ended up killing all the adds first... and suddenly we were able to finish the whole thing smooth as butter, with nobody dying at all.
We then proceeded to run out of the area and kill other mobs around Searing Gorge for other quests for a bit before saying our goodbyes. Hunters for the win!
The other night I had another amusing encounter of a similar kind. Having just landed in Un'goro I saw someone call out for help with "the elite elemental quest". I asked if they meant It's Dangerous to Go Alone and they replied in the affirmative. I threw them a group invite... and they were dead by the elemental's cave. I couldn't resist joking: "I take it you tried to go alone?"
Once again it was another night elf hunter with a cat. In fact, she couldn't help comment on how similar we looked: not twins exactly, but we were both girls with green-ish braids and wearing several pieces of identical gear. Together we managed to make short work of Blazerunner - though my newfound friend managed to die again in the process - and after she'd revived I took a quick picture of us together before once again saying my goodbyes.
It's funny to me that there seems to be a theme here of all the soloers levelling nelf hunters and then coming together to help each other with the elite quests. Classic can be quite peculiar that way.


The Rogue Question

One type of item that drops in Classic but not in the live game - and that isn't common in more modern MMORPGs in general - is the lockbox. And I know that as soon as you read that word your mind probably went to what gamers have come to associate with the term in recent years, which is microtransactions with uncertain outcomes, but I'm actually talking about old-school lockboxes, which is to say items that are simply locked containers that need opening in the world, either via the lockpicking skill or use of a key.

I'm always a bit conflicted when I end up finding/winning one of these, because I know they are a hassle to deal with that probably won't be worth the reward, but at the same time I hate to vendor anything that has a use, not to mention that vendors only pay an absolute pittance compared to even the cheapest drop you're likely to get if you were to actually open the box (presumably to give you an incentive to open them).

Keys are technically accessible to all (though they require crafting by blacksmiths), however the way the material cost of crafting them works out compared to the rewards from the boxes they can open, it doesn't appear to be a good business model to buy or sell them.

Ideally I'd love to just put every box I find on the auction house - presumably some rogue somewhere would be quite happy to make a profit while levelling their lockpicking skill - but alas, "you can't auction lootable items".

So that just leaves the option of finding a rogue. I used to just wait until I'd end up in a dungeon group with one, at which point asking them to please pick a lock while the mage distributes water or whatever feels like a natural part of the grouping dynamics. The only problem with this has been that rogues don't seem to like dungeoneering very much and I only encounter them in my groups quite rarely compared to how commonly they are played, which means that any lockbox can end up sitting in my inventory for quite a length of time before I get to open it, taking up precious bag space in the meantime.

More recently I've taken to just doing a /who rogue Ironforge whenever I'm in town myself and then looking around the Commons for a suitable target, which never takes very long. I then politely whisper them to ask if they would mind opening a lockbox for me, and I've actually never had a negative reply to this (though I think a couple of times I've whispered people who were AFK).

It still makes me somewhat unreasonably anxious though. I'm not at all shy when it comes to approaching people about grouping up, but something about bothering a rogue about a lockbox just feels... different. I can never help but remember having read one too many rants from people feeling pestered by strangers wanting to use their class's services (also see mages re: portals and water). To make up for any imagined transgressions, I try to always give an appropriate tip (appropriate to my level that is... if I'm on a lowbie alt I just don't have that much money to give away). Of course what happens then is that I open the box and the contents are actually worth less than the money I just spent on opening it; though I've got a little better at judging how much of a tip I can reasonably give without going negative even if the drop from the box is not great.

I do remember all of this being a non-issue back in the day when I had friends who played rogues - they were usually happy for me to just send them any boxes I found in the mail, and they would unlock and return them to me free of charge. I remember one rogue in my old guild also tended to include funny little RP-style notes about how each lock had been challenging in particular ways.

Ultimately, I don't know how I feel about this mechanic playing as more of a loner these days. It is interesting in many ways, but in others I also find it bothersome. What about you?