11/05/2021

A Night to Remember

The Classic Crusade cometh... for sure now, on the 1st of June. The announcement about the release date, accompanied by the news that we'd only have two weeks of pre-patch, filled me with a mix of excitement and anxiety. Less than a month's notice meant that I pretty much had to say goodbye to my dreams of booking a whole week off to binge on Classic BC, but also, my guild still hadn't killed Kel'Thuzad, the last boss in Naxxramas.

We did actually kill Sapphiron a week ago, after some strategic readjustments. After several nights of wiping and making (what felt to me like) very little progress, I was chatting to one of the raid leaders one day and we both independently came up with the thought that being the hopeless casuals that we are, we clearly needed more micromanagement, as the problem was always that people started running around like headless chickens during air phase, with everyone trying to dodge out of everyone else's way at the same time. We had been given vague positions in the form of a dedicated "slice" of the room, the way many guilds do it on C'thun as well, but clearly that wasn't enough. We would need to be assigned spots within each slice as well.

Once that plan was hatched, we spent some time discussing it in the Four Horsemen's room the next Monday, and it ended up working like a charm. It still took us a few tries to iron out the last few kinks of course, but it immediately went much, much better. The "Chronobooner" (as our druid class leader likes to call it) was a huge help as well, as it allowed us to stow our world buffs away while we were learning, and then unleash them once we were reasonably confident in what we were doing for that extra bit of "oomph". The kill vid I recorded makes it all look surprisingly easy, not once betraying the huge amount of predetermined co-ordination involved. (And yeah, I was healing on my pally again on that one:)

We only had enough time left for one try on KT that night, but we were so excited to even be there that we agreed to put in an extra raid day on Tuesday in hopes of killing him before the reset. Sapphiron had felt so tough, more than one of us was probably worried whether we'd even be able to kill him a second time. That extra raid night on KT was interesting and did teach us a few things, but we didn't get him down.

The farm raid on Wednesday was a bit meh after that. The previous week we'd set a new personal record by clearing out twelve bosses in a single night, but that evening was a lot less good and we only ended up killing ten, meaning that we had Loatheb, Gothik and 4H left to do this Monday before we'd even get to attempt Sapph and KT again.

The Monday raid was off to a good enough start with Loatheb and Gothik going down quickly and smoothly, but the Horsemen were quite a mess. I was killed by an early meteor and then accidentally released spirit, so I didn't even see what was happening other than that more and more people were showing as dead in the raid frames and I was sure it was going to be a wipe, but somehow they managed to eke out a win with the last few people standing.

Then it was time for Sapphiron. More core healers had shown up that evening than on any previous night, so I was hopeful that maybe I'd get to dps the fight for a change, but I got conflicting responses from different officers. Eventually it was settled that I could stay on the hunter, but there was clearly still some confusion going on among the leadership as I found myself moved back and forth around the raid repeatedly, and there was vocal disagreement about who should be standing where and whether we should immediately use frost protection potions or not.

We'd stored our world buffs away in the chronos again, which was good as the first try was quite messy, with some people in the raid who hadn't been there on the kill night and were therefore not yet familiar with the tactics, and others maybe just not being properly focused yet.

In guild chat, our bard said that he'd managed to lose his mini map and asked what the keybind was to restore it. "Alt+F4," replied our mage class lead, which was immediately followed by a notification about our bard going offline. People howled with laughter, barely able to believe what had just happened. A minute later our bard came back online and was asked whether restoring his mini map had worked. "Yeah, but isn't there a less drastic way than restarting the game?"

Everything seemed to be going well enough except for some continued confusion about the exact group setups (while the hunter class leader had tried to prepare them in advance, our actual raid comp on the night deviated from the plan and that was causing chaos). Suddenly the raid leader said: "Sorry, I have to go" and started hearthing out. As I've come to consider him a good friend, I was instantly filled with concern. Had something bad happened to him IRL?

But then he continued, saying something about how he was the raid leader and people should accept his calls, but that the other officers continued to argue with him regardless. He logged off moments later, leaving us all in that befuddled and slightly concerned state you experience when that sort of drama occurs and you're not quite sure what just happened. I'd not seen a proper rage-quit like that in years!

The other members of the leadership team were clearly taken aback, but quickly recovered and tried to keep things going. We had one more "dry run" on Sapph, which went quite well despite of being two people down, and then took a brief break to fill those two empty slots. Fortunately there were people available, though after what felt like an eternity of waiting, they both arrived in Sapphiron's Lair realising that they'd forgotten their frost resist gear. "Whatever, let's get out those world buffs and go," was pretty much the reaction from leadership, so we pulled him with two people wearing zero FR gear but killed him just fine anyway.

Then it was on to KT once more. We re-bottled our world buffs and had one attempt without them that was kind of "eh", as we didn't even make it to phase three. Then again, we'd already established that KT is a much more forgiving fight than Sapph, one where you can still win even with half the raid dead. As we realised that we only had about fifteen minutes of raid time left, it was agreed to get the buffs out again and just go for it.

The result was an absolutely glorious mess, but we powered through somehow. I have yet to review the video footage but I think I got mind controlled twice and wasn't crowd controlled once (I ended up killing one of our priests too). Once the guardians spawned, they seemed to be all over the place. More and more people went down, including me, with just a sliver of health left on the boss... and then he died, with eleven people left standing (mostly paladins, unkillable bastards that they are).

The coveted crossbow dropped and went to the hunter class leader, but aside from that I didn't even pay much attention to the loot. We'd beaten Classic in time for the pre-patch, and that was all that mattered. I just wish our raid leader could have been there too; he certainly would have deserved to be part of it with how much work he put into herding these cats week after week.

All in all though, it was a night to remember with a little bit of everything that makes Classic Classic: guildies trolling each other, drama, near-wipes and an exciting first kill of the last boss of a raid (and in this case, also the whole of Classic).

01/05/2021

Time Waits for No Man... Or Does It?

Even though we still don't have a release date, the Classic Crusade looms ever closer. Last week's patch added a big badge to the character selection screen to make sure players who don't follow outside news sources wouldn't be caught by surprise by what's coming.

It also was a big patch in another way though, in the sense that after one and a half years of (mostly) #nochanges it introduced what I consider the first big deviation from Vanilla to Classic by adding the Chronoboon Displacer to the game, an item intended to address the worst issues with the world buff meta.

It's a consumable that's available for purchase from Chromie in Andorhal at ten gold a pop (if you've done the quests for her), and what it does is bottle up any world buffs you have on you at the time of using it and safely preserves them in an item inside your bags. For PvP servers, this means no more griefing by dispelling or otherwise causing people to lose their lovingly gathered world buffs, and for us PvE carebears it simply means that we're freed of the pressure of having to plan so much of our play time around just when to pick up which buff and then making sure to stay logged out until raid start. Now we are able to pick them up early in the week even, bottle them up, and then go about our business grinding, running dungeons or what have you, without having to worry about losing buff duration. Once we're actually ready to pull the first boss, the buffs can be unleashed with the click of a button and we're good to go.

The thing is, I really don't know how I feel about it. I've written about my changing relationship with the world buff meta, and honestly from a practical point of view I absolutely love this change. Especially since I often used to gather buffs on both my hunter and paladin, just to watch one character's go to waste if that one wasn't actually needed (much) on the night. Now I can just pick up the buffs whenever it's convenient and then just not worry about them anymore until they are actually needed. I don't even need to get fidgety about wasted buff time anymore if the raid leaders get caught up in some sort of discussion at raid start. The ten gold price is worth it but simultaneously encourages you to think about when you want to use it, so you don't just mindlessly capture and release buffs all the time.

On the other hand though... this is a pretty big change. I've mostly been on board with the #nochanges movement, never mind things like tweaking the spawn rate of herbs to adjust for larger server populations. This item didn't exist in Vanilla and it introduces a whole new level of gameplay for raiders. Sure, it feels good now, but I've been playing these games for long enough to know that there are always long-term consequences that may result in the final experience not being quite as expected. For example I've started picking up the songflower buff now, when previously I usually didn't bother since it was the shortest, most fickle and most out of the way of all the world buffs. If I can pick it up at my convenience and then bottle it instantly until I'm actually at the boss though... there's no real excuse not to get it now, is there?

It also changes the way raids can approach certain bosses. People might argue about when they think it's best to use or preserve their buffs. A friend got quite cross when he died and lost his own buffs in Naxx after pulling aggro from the main tank, who'd quietly decided to bottle his own buffs after Patchwerk and was therefore suddenly generating a lot less threat. On the other hand, the very same friend was able to stow his buffs away before Vael in BWL, correctly predicting that he was going to die from the boss's unavoidable kill mechanic, and could then whip them out again for the later bosses.

Our last Naxx farm night we managed to hit a new personal record by clearing twelve bosses in one night, largely due to the Chronoboon Displacer allowing us to use a different kill order and strategy. Usually we'd start fully buffed at Patchwerk and then just keep going, with more and more people losing their buffs to deaths etc. as we continued, so that we had to save Loatheb for the next night or else we wouldn't be able to approach him sufficiently buffed. This time around we banked our buffs safely, started by doing Noth and Heigan without them (so we wouldn't randomly lose them to dancing fails) and then got them out for Loatheb and proceeded to Patchwerk right afterwards.

New buff release animation

It just feels a bit like the end of an era, as it's Blizzard more or less acknowledging that purity of vision and accurate preservation of how Vanilla used to work is less important to Classic now than keeping the game fun for the current player base, which simply isn't approaching WoW the same way as people did back in Vanilla. I'm not saying that's wrong, but it does make you wonder where they'll draw the line, and what other changes may end up being implemented later on. Retail-style connected servers seem almost inevitable already, considering that the game keeps trying to add the server name to character names whenever you whisper or mail people since the patch (e.g. "Shintar-HydraxianWaterlords" instead of just Shintar). I just don't want to watch history repeat itself.

19/04/2021

Too Much To Do

One reason I was originally hesitant to join a guild in Classic was that I was worried that I might end up liking it too much, leading to me wanting to spend more time in game than I realistically have available for this particular endeavour. This pretty much happened. D'oh! I sort of already wrote about it back in October, though I focused on the pull of wanting to be social with my guildies back then. However, another dimension that I haven't really talked about is that - once you get into the group content - it feels like there's just so much to do in Classic at max level, especially right now.

I've often expressed my disdain for the way Blizzard changed retail WoW to basically always be just about the latest patch, with any and all content from previous patches being obsoleted almost instantly unless you're into farming cosmetics. I will admit though that I hadn't considered just how exhausting it could be to on the other hand have everything be relevant to your power progression almost forever.

Just looking at the raids, Classic WoW has six of them at this stage of the game, with all the original content released: Molten Core, Blackwing Lair, Zul'Gurub, Ruins and Temple of Ahn'qiraj, and finally, Naxxramas. You'd think that if you're clearing most of Naxx, there wouldn't really be any reason to go back to any of the older raids unless you want to gear up an alt or something, right? Weeeell...

Molten Core is probably the closest to being truly "obsolete" at this point except for fresh sixties, however the legendary Thunderfury remains alluring, giving warriors in particular a reason to keep dragging everyone else through the place regardless.

Blackwing Lair drops some much better pieces of gear than MC, but still, most of them are superseded by Naxx gear, right? Again, weeeell... most of them, but there are some rare trinket drops that are Classic best in slot forever, giving people chasing their BiS incentive to keep coming back for a shot at those rare drops if nothing else.

Zul'Gurub was introduced as a smaller-sized catch-up raid for fresh sixties, so you'd think it would be in a similar position as Molten Core by now, but something that I didn't immediately realise was that it's also the source of the only real worthwhile enchants for the head, shoulder and leg slots. Head and legs require idols, of which you can only ever get two per run. Shoulders require exalted reputation as well as a lot of tokens farmed from trash drops. Basically, have fun farming this place forever until you've got your final BiS and got lucky with rolls often enough to enchant it all.

AQ20 is another easy raid in a similar vein as Zul'Gurub, but here the perpetual draw is that it drops max-rank spell books for three spells for all classes. At least these can be traded between players, so you don't necessarily have to go there yourself to get them all, but someone's got to keep running the place to supply the market. Those books don't appear out of thin air.

AQ40, being the last raid before Naxx, is another interesting one because while for some classes it's pretty pointless to go there if they can get Naxx gear instead, there are sets in there for certain classes and specs that don't really get superseded by anything else, meaning you'll have a particular niche of your raiders forever clamouring to re-visit this raid as well. I guess I've got to give those Vanilla game designers credit for succeeding at keeping players interested in all the raids.

Now, lest you get the wrong idea, I'm not actually raiding all these places every week, and neither does my guild as a whole. We haven't been to MC since just before Naxx release for example. But everything else... people do go back to at least sometimes, and I in turn feel a certain pressure to come along if I can, both to work on still improving my pally's gear to help with our Naxx progression but also just to simply help make up the numbers.

So in addition to everything else I'm now actually also looking forward to Burning Crusade for the simple reason that we'll only have one tier to work on to begin with, leaving a lot more "free" time to spend on alts or dungeoneering. And any character copies that I keep on original Classic realms will simply have forever to achieve their goals there, with no more changes coming after that. I guess right now there's just a sort of unique pressure to "finish off" as much as we can, as anything achieved now will benefit both characters moving forward into Classic BC and those staying in the Vanilla world.

13/04/2021

A Shadowlands Achievement

While discontent bubbles in the retail WoW-sphere due to the longest content drought following the launch of a new expansion in the game's history, I'm actually having a pretty good time with Shadowlands. I've long found retail WoW's "expected" content cadence unpleasant, not because getting new content is inherently bad (duh!) but due to it also always involving a relentless push to forcefully consign everything current to the dustbin of obsolescence at the same time.

The big project the husband and I have been working on for more than two months now are Torghast's twisting corridors. Initially I wasn't too thrilled by the idea, because while I liked normal Torghast well enough, our runs tended to last up to an hour as it was, and with the twisted corridors being three times as long, the thought of repeated play sessions requiring an uninterrupted three hours seemed a bit daunting. The game mode grew on me however, with the additional floors allowing for some truly ridiculous power combos by the end that set it apart from normal Torghast and made for a varied and entertaining experience.

I was wondering whether setting our eyes on the ultimate goal of completing layer eight was maybe a bit ambitious for our casual weekly adventures, considering that the recommended item level for the final layer is 225, while the husband and I are both capped at 200 or less due to the solo/duo-centric nature of our gameplay. As it turns out, it's perfectly doable with a lower item level though, and today we finally became the proud owners of our very own corridor creeper mounts. Since 9.1 appears to still be a couple of months away, we'll even get to enjoy the prestige of being able to ride in the Maw for a short while, before that patch turns that into business as usual for everyone.

I do suspect that going in as a duo meant that we had it relatively easy in terms of scaling, and I also haven't heard anything about either prot warriors or mistweaver monks having a hard time in Torghast in general. Not to mention that we'd also already maxed out our reputation with Ve'nari and bought all the possible power-ups for Torghast... still, it felt like an achievement, if nothing else for the sheer amount of time it took, and we did have to fail on the final layer twice before getting it down.

The first time we'd already lost several lives on the way to floor 17, at which point we got an awkward layout in Mort'regar where two elite deadsouls with particularly nasty abilities got the drop on us at the top of a staircase, causing us to die repeatedly and run out of lives, leading to our first and only encounter with the Tarragrue. The second time things seemed to be going smoothly until floor 12, where we ran into Patrician Cromwell, who absolutely destroyed us with one-shot abilities. I tried to look up some strategies and tips, but the comments on the Wowhead page I linked above mostly consist of people complaining about how overtuned that boss is and that they couldn't get him down either, so we eventually gave up before we'd even run out of lives as we just couldn't see a way of dealing with him.

Conversely, our run today was among the smoothest we've ever had, with only two deaths in total, both of which happened on the Coldheart mid-levels when I fell victim to ambushers from above. The final wing we had to contend with was Fracture Chambers and actually felt oddly chill in comparison, with the last floor before the boss consisting of more pottery than enemies. Such is the luck of the draw, but it still felt great to get it down. Now we'll actually have to start thinking of some new goals to pursue!

02/04/2021

Four Horsemen and a Paladin

It's been two months since I last wrote about my guild's Naxx progression, which is really kind of surprising considering that I spend two nights a week in there right now. I guess I just don't have that much to say about the day-to-day of it, but after two months an update certainly feels in order.

Monday night was a good night not just for Redbeard, but also for the Forks as we got the Four Horsemen down for the first time. This brings us up to 13 out of 15 Naxx bosses killed, compared to the 8/15 we were at when I last posted at the end of January.

Gluth was really just about figuring out a kiting strategy. We eventually ended up going for a paladin spamming Blessing of Kings as the kiter, with mages and some warriors helping to slow the mobs. It still feels messy every time though, and the kiter is usually dead by the time the fight is over.

Thaddius took a few attempts for everyone to get comfortable with the polarity shift mechanic but wasn't as bad as I had feared.

In regards to Loatheb I mentioned last time how we wiped at five percent or something - well, eventually we got there. Ironically, we then had another two or three weeks of failing on him again due to healing screw-ups that needed sorting out, until we finally got him to something you can fairly call farm status.

Gothik, for me, was a lot of boring waiting around while people endlessly discussed what to CC and what to kill and when, none of which was anything I could help with. Eventually something was figured out that worked, or maybe it just took us that long to actually get it right.

But then, the Horsemen! The fight known to give guilds of all levels pause and put their skills to the test. As I told Red, this was actually one challenge I wasn't worried about, because we've spent so much time failing on easy stuff, failing on a harder fight for a while should be a piece of cake in comparison. And it was... fine.

We started off using an addon that's supposed to show everyone where to move during each part of the fight, but it conflicted with some things so eventually dropped it, though it was a good tool to get a grasp on the basic mechanics of the fight. By Classic standards, it's a relatively unforgiving one with quite a lot of personal responsibility, and losing a single tank or healer usually meant a wipe, which meant that as a dps I barely got to practice one or two rotations before the call to mop up went out on most attempts, but eventually we got there. I made a kill vid too!

Next it's onwards to Sapphiron. We had some attempts on him so far and the main takeaway from them was that we should probably get some more frost resist gear than we brought originally, as well as some more healers. Speaking of healers...

At the end of January I paid to attune my paladin to Naxx. It was with an eye on Sapphiron, where we knew we'd need some dps to go on healers at least during the learning phase, but as it happened we actually found ourselves short on healers quite a few nights before that. Theoretically we have enough of them on the roster, but sadly a number of them have pretty poor/irregular attendance, which threatened to throw many a night into disarray if some people hadn't changed to healer alts.

 
I'm one of about four people who've been doing this regularly and it's been... alright. It's no secret that I enjoy healing, though I have to say that healing in a forty-man raid is comparatively boring, as it rarely feels like you make a difference being one of three to five people spamming the tank. Also, if you think grabbing and retaining world buffs on one character is already a pain in the butt, let me say that doing it on two (when you're not sure which character you'll be needed on for which fight) is worse.

Ultimately though, I'm glad that I put in the work to gear up the pally to help out as I know that on quite a few nights, me and others having these healing alts has probably been what made the difference between being able to kill Patchwerk or Loatheb or not, even if you don't really feel your personal impact as the twelfth healer during the fight itself.

Two bosses to go, and while the beta for TBC Classic has started, we still don't have a release date, so I'm hopeful. We can kill ten bosses on our first night pretty consistently now, which then leaves the second night to clean up the remaining three and work on progression. While I didn't even plan to raid when I started playing Classic, after coming this far, I'd really quite like to see Naxx through to the end.

23/03/2021

My Classic TBC Plans

It may seem a bit early to make detailed plans for Burning Crusade Classic when we don't even have a release date for it yet, but there's a lot of context to this already and I thought I might as well commit my thoughts to writing. If nothing else, they will be interesting to look back on in a few months' time to see how many of my plans actually panned out.

I've explained in the past why Burning Crusade was my favourite expansion, and even when work on Classic had only just started I was already dreaming of a Classic Crusade.

In the run-up to Classic's launch, there was a lot of sneering from many corners of the internet about how Classic fans were all just blinded by nostalgia, how the game was actually pretty bad and people just viewed it through rose-tinted glasses because they associated it with a time when they were younger and more carefree. I already knew that this definitely wasn't true for me, as my experience on private servers had reminded me that vanilla WoW was indeed simply a damn good game and an extremely enjoyable virtual world to spend time in.

However... I have to admit that I had some doubts about Burning Crusade Classic at certain points last year. Sure, WoW's first expansion objectively expanded the game world and improved class balance in major ways, but at the same time all the things I really loved about it back in 2007 were heavily tied up with meeting people, playing with friends and overcoming challenges as a group. Around the time when I felt at my lowest and loneliest in Classic, I was starting to doubt what a Classic Crusade could really offer me. Just questing through Outland on my own and maybe running a few dungeons with pugs was unlikely to be all that thrilling.

Of course, then I got recruited into a guild and that changed everything, including my outlook on Classic BC. Now that I will have a friendly group of people to run dungeons and raid with, I'm ecstatic. Sure, it won't be exactly the same as it was back in the day, but I do expect the content to still be as fun, and with some good company (even if it's different company) I'm likely to have an excellent time.

This shift in focus also means that I'll be approaching the expansion's launch in quite a different way compared to Classic. While I did binge a bit on Classic at launch and spent some time playing with my friends (even if they didn't hang around for long), my focus was largely on exploring the world and re-familiarising myself with its quests. Comparatively, Outland is more like a giant puzzle waiting to be unlocked with all its reputations and attunement quest chains. The land mass is much smaller and all relevant to endgame to some degree anyway, so there isn't as much of an incentive for me to slowly enjoy my journey through Zangarmarsh or whatever, because I'll continue to spend time there at max level anyway.

So I'll be going what you could call the min-maxer's route to puzzle-solving, by focusing on running dungeons with my guildies to maximise my early reputation gains and avoid the literal hell that is going to be Hellfire Peninsula on launch day. (Even with layering, Classic's many starting zones were packed at launch - now picture all of those people piled into a single zone instead...)

This wasn't my own idea, mind you... my guild's main bear tank just happens to be an absolute TBC junkie, and many months ago already it came up during a half-joking conversation that some of us should form a levelling group once Classic BC comes out. That half-joke eventually turned serious and I was like: Sure, why not? Let's do it. Though with no launch date we obviously haven't been able to hash out all the details in regards to time investment etc.

I'm planning to level my hunter first, who'll go from being a middle-of-the-pack class with underwhelming profession choices for Classic to a top dps with almost perfectly min-maxed skills. I expect to do a lot of hipster-style complaining about how I was a hunter/leatherworker before it was cool. I also expect that chasing various attunement and profession goals will keep me busy for a while, but should I need a break from all that grinding at some point, I'll probably be levelling my pally and my druid (who should hit 60 before the expansion's release) next - perhaps in a less min-maxed manner, but we'll see how I'll feel about that closer to the time.

Wish me luck! And if you're playing Classic yourself, have you given any thought yet to how you're going to spend your time come Burning Crusade?

17/03/2021

Building My Legacy

From what I understand it was extremely uncommon back in Vanilla to have more than one max-level character, what with how long it took both to level and to get things done in max-level dungeons and raids.

This is another area in which Classic is very different - while you still get people who just don't like levelling much or simply prefer concentrating all their efforts into a single character to make that one the best it can be, I think it's far more common for players to have more than one character at the level cap after one and a half years of Classic than it ever was back in the day.

While I've been playing since launch as well and have been levelling characters at what I feel is a decent clip for a casual player, the fact that I started on Horde side and then switched to Alliance on a different server has made me feel somewhat behind compared to my guildies. I have to admit I'm rather in awe of the alt stables that some of them have.

Especially when it comes to professions, having multiple max-level characters is a significant boon in Classic, as characters will need the services of most professions at some point, and many professions rely on materials provided by other professions, so having all of that unified under your own roof so to speak allows for an impressive degree of independence. There are limitations of course: For example an enchanter can only enchant their own gear and that of other players; there is no way to transfer an enchant to an alt character. On the whole though, there are a lot of synergies.

This really hit me when I got into raiding properly and started to require a steady supply of certain consumables, mostly potions and crafted arrows. For the arrows, you need a close-to-max-level engineer with a rare-ish schematic or you'll have to buy them on the auction house every time. Fortunately the hunter class leader's rogue alt is an engineer and he offered me early on that I could just mail him the materials and he'd craft the ammo for me for free.

Potions and elixirs make for an even bigger expense and highlighted my dependencies even more as it seemed like absolutely everyone had at least a herbalism alt. Grousing about the prices of potions on the auction house would pretty much inevitably get me the reply that I should just gather my own herbs and send them to a friendly alchemist - as if everyone automatically has that option!

If I sound a bit envious that's because I am, but at the same time the goal of strengthening my own alt stable has become a major motivator for me, even more so with an eye on TBC. Having my paladin at max level has allowed me to do my own mining at least, netting me ore, stone and the occasional Arcane Crystal without having to buy it from the auction house. And part of why I've been so enthusiastic about getting my druid levelled up has been the fact that she's a herbalist and alchemist. She's level 47 now but already has both of her primary professions maxed out. I just need to get her a few more levels before she's able to visit zones where she can pick her own Dreamfoil and I'll be close to having gained independence of the auction house for my potions as well.

My mage who is a tailor and enchanter isn't too far behind at level 44, and while enchanting is a major pain to level she hasn't been doing too badly on that front either. I like the idea of being able to craft my own bags come TBC, and if I want to create my own enchanting materials she'll need to be levelled up too. In Classic you can disenchant gear of any level with an enchanting skill of 1, but in TBC they introduced skill requirements for disenchanting different levels of gear as well, so once again, that's going to come in handy.

I guess if you really dislike professions all of this could be seen as a lot of annoying busywork, but I really like the way this slow and steady investment of time and money really pays off after a while. There are still reasons to go to other players for certain rare or specialist recipes, but being able to cover a lot of ground via DIY is nonetheless extremely valuable.