The Green Hills of Stranglethorn

While I had found unexpected enjoyment in questing in Duskwood, I was also keen on moving on to Stranglethorn Vale. STV, as it is sometimes shortened to, is a place with a very mixed reputation. Personally I have mostly fond memories of it, but I also know people who absolutely loathed that zone. One of the friends that levelled with me when I first started playing WoW used to call it "Ganklethorn Vale". Since we played on a PvE server I didn't really get this whole world PvP thing at the time and it didn't really mean anything to me. Seeing Horde players for the first time was simply exciting.

Now that I'm actually getting to re-live the experience (sort of), I'm being reminded of both the good and the bad about this zone:

The Good:

- After the gloomy atmosphere of Duskwood, the sunny tropical beaches of Stranglethorn really lighten your mood.

- There are loads of quests by Vanilla standards. I mentioned before that while WoW gained fame for having more quests than any other MMO at the time, by today's standards they were actually pretty sparse, and you were constantly running from zone to zone to find new ones (or submit to the grind for a couple of levels).

The Bad:

- Especially as Alliance, there is so much walking. I'd forgotten that the Rebel Camp didn't gain a flight path until Burning Crusade, so the closest Alliance hub is Darkshire. Then it's all the way down the winding road to Booty Bay and it takes freaking forever because you're still on foot for another ten levels or so. No mercy or consideration for the fact that you didn't actually get a mount until level 40.

- As this is one of the first zones where Horde and Alliance are forced into some proximity, it's a popular spot for gankers on PvP servers. So far I've only been affected by it once though, and I guess I was kind of asking for it by fishing near Nesingwary's camp...

The Neutral:

- Mob density is high and many of them also make pretty worthwhile grind targets (animals for leather, humanoids for cloth and cash). On the other hand: mob density is pretty high and you can't take two steps off the road without being attacked. In a couple of spots you are likely to be attacked on the road as well, plus it's often hard not to get adds while fighting in many places.

- The zone covers a huge level range, from about 30 to 50. In some ways this is good - see the aforementioned positive about lots of quests. On the other hand you'll find yourself coming back to the place again, and again, and again (because this being Vanilla, of course there aren't enough quests to level in STV alone) and you'll probably get pretty tired of it after a while.

- The mobs start to get more interesting in terms of abilities, and since combat is so much slower than in modern day WoW, they actually get to use them. In some ways this is interesting, because it trains you to - for example - save stuns until the caster mob tries to heal, as they will otherwise heal to full. (Kurzen Medicine Men, anyone?) On the other hand, it makes certain mobs plain annoying to fight depending on your class. For example combat as a pally is already slow enough as it is, I don't need a stupid basilisk stunning me for three seconds twice per fight on top of it.

- The Green Hills of Stranglethorn clog up your bags. On the other hand, if you have the money, you can actually buy a chunk of XP, which is pretty neat in my opinion.

- Samantha Swifthoof patrols the road. That lady scared the crap out of me when I was an Alliance newbie and before I realised that she didn't aggro. It was weird to find out later that she never actually had a purpose in the live game... (She was originally meant to teach Tauren Plainsrunning.)


  1. I just wanted to drop a line to say I love this series. I played *a lot* during vanilla and up until the end of Mists (when I walked away for FFXIV) and I miss the old world that I knew. Warts and all.

    Quick memory: The general chat where people would trade pages all day in STV building sets. Sometimes you'd get 3-5 people together and it would be a giant swap meet.

    1. Thanks for the comment! It's definitely a walk down memory lane, even if it's not entirely the same...