Does a private server count as "Playing WoW"?

Just a quick question for my readers today. Do you think that playing Vanilla WoW on a private server counts as "playing WoW"?

What I mean is this: If someone else asks you "Do you play WoW?", do you say yes or no? Or do you launch into a lengthy explanation?

It's just something that I've been thinking about, since in the past couple of weeks there were several occasions where this happened to me and I automatically made it very clear that I wasn't playing WoW anymore and hadn't done so in a long time. Yet strictly speaking that's not true, because I've been playing Vanilla WoW on Kronos for months (if very casually)!

It just seems to me that Vanilla WoW on a private server is such a different and niche activity compared to Blizzard's World of Warcraft as people currently know it that to talk about it as if they were one and the same would be even more misleading.


LFG Sunken Temple

My interest in playing on Kronos is currently faltering again, which is a real shame considering that I'm only three dings away from sixty. However, I've once again hit the "grouping wall", which is not a hard-coded obstacle to progression but certainly a psychological one. I think I may have mentioned it before, but I can't remember for sure now.

It's that point when your quest log is full of group quests that prevent you from enjoying playing on your own because you can only pick up one or two new solo quests at a time, which really sucks when you know that there are more things than that to do in the area you are in. On the other hand you really, really want to do that group content, so you don't want to abandon those group quests either... which means that you log in, idle in Ironforge for a bit while keeping an eye on the world channel, and then log out again when no opportunity arises quickly enough.

The culprit that's causing my current dilemma is Sunken Temple. I have five quests for it, and it's one of my favourite Vanilla instances, so I really want to do it. However, at level 57 I'm quickly approaching the point where I'm going to outlevel it, so I want to get it done sooner rather than later and not detour to higher-level places like BRD too early.

Two weeks ago, an LFG call for it went out shortly before I had to log off, meaning that I couldn't join because of time constraints.

One week ago, I saw a group that was looking for a tank but wanted a "fast run", skipping many of the bosses in the process, which wouldn't have helped with getting any of my quests done. The irony was that said group spent at least an hour spamming "LF1M, need tank" in /world and I don't know if they ever found one. Could have been killing some bosses already in that time if the group leader hadn't been so opposed to it.

This week, there was another group looking for a tank and a dps, but I was told that they didn't want a pally tank. Sadface.

I still like the old-fashioned way of looking for groups for its community-building aspects, but I won't deny that it makes life as a casual player much harder. I never had issues like this back in original Vanilla, because I had lots of free time, meaning that I was online for several hours a day, pretty much every day. (Not to mention that I was playing with friends, so forming a group was made easier by that as well.) When you're only on for a few hours each weekend though, being able to find a group for the content you actually need is very much a game of luck.

EDIT: It's worth mentioning that as soon as I posted this, I ran into a certain level 60 paladin who has commented on this blog before, and when I mentioned my plight with this instance, he immediately offered to run me through (with some pugged dps). Is there a word for the opposite of jinxing it (which is to say: complaining about how bad something is, and then the issue immediately goes away)?


War Effort Time!

Two days ago, the war effort to open the gates of Ahn'Qiraj went live on Kronos.

I have exactly two memories of this event on live servers.

First, there's me running around Ironforge as a lowbie night elf and encountering this apparent quest giver who wanted me to bring him some Rainbow Fin Albacore. I had some from trying out fishing, so I gave them to him. And it gave no XP! WTF! I don't think I donated anything else after that.

The war effort must have taken a few weeks to get sorted out, because I was in my mid-forties or so when I landed in Tanaris and there were giant Anubisaths all over the place, wrecking Gadgetzan! A friend reported seeing some in Feralas as well. We had no idea what was going on at the time but we did our best to help with fighting them off, as far as we were able to at that level anyway.

A friend also used to tell me how he was there for the opening of the gates on his server and how everything crashed.

Screenshot property of my friend Matje.
With how casually I'm playing on Kronos, I can't see myself making much of a contribution, but I'll try to keep an eye on how things develop. It would be cool if I could attend the opening of the gates, though it's unlikely that I'll be so lucky for it to happen during a time when I can actually be online.

It was interesting to see that some of the high-level targets, like 24,000 thorium bars, were already full up after only two days. From the looks of it it's going to be the low-level items, like the aforementioned Albacores, that will form the bottleneck to progress.


The Art of the Armorsmith

One of the amazing things about playing Vanilla WoW is being reminded of just how much more involved professions used to be. I mean, as far as I can tell, the system was still primitive compared to any MMO that actually cares about crafting, but compared to modern day WoW, Vanilla WoW's professions are a bloody goldmine of creativity.

Even the secondary professions required a minimum amount of work. I've written about having to trek across continents to buy the books to level my cooking, fishing and first aid past 150, and at 225 a quest awaited for each of them. Who here remembers when Triage was actually a requirement to level first aid? I remember that this was the quest that taught me that you could turn on friendly NPC names in the UI.

However, my biggest profession-related adventure on Kronos has been levelling blacksmithing. I made Isadora a blacksmith because that's what the original Isadora was, however the original Isadora never made it past level 22. I don't think I ever levelled blacksmithing to a high level on any of my alts, but even if I did it must have been very late in the game, by the time they had removed all the barriers as well as everything that made things interesting.

My only memory of encountering the madness that was the original blacksmithing grind is from when my (now ex-)boyfriend rolled a paladin in Burning Crusade and I helped him level his blacksmithing by spending hours upon hours grinding mithril and thorium on one of my miners. (The things you do for love...) But I didn't really know what he needed it for. I'm finally getting an idea.

It started innocently enough: At some point around level 40, I noticed that two dwarves at the great forge in Ironforge were giving me the option to specialise in either armour- or weaponsmithing. I decided to pick the former, which was probably not a good thing from a min-/maxing point of view but I always tend to think defensively when given a choice like this.

Then I immediately felt lost. It might be that I missed something, but I have a suspicion that this is where the Vanilla WoW simulation is imperfect and missing some clues, as I remember that the trainers in original WoW tended to have dynamic dialogue that would change to direct you towards the next trainer once your skill got too high (e.g. "I have noting more to teach you, [name], you should seek out [NPC name] in [zone].") All the armoursmithing guy on Kronos had to say to me after I had picked up his quest was "hello".

I decided to let the internets help me but went about it in a terribly haphazard manner, which would quickly come back to bite me in the butt. The armoursmithing quest wanted me to create some "ornate mithril" thingamabobs. So I googled "ornate mithril" in Kronos' own database and found that a dwarf in Stranglethorn, located just south of the entrance to Zul'Gurub, teaches several of those recipes as part of a quest. I remembered running into him back in the day without really knowing what he was good for.

So off I went... but the jungle dwarf didn't want to talk to me. I did some more research and realised that I had missed a breadcrumb quest from Stormwind. Back up I went to pick up the breadcrumb quest, then back down to STV. Now the dwarf would talk to me... and wanted me to bring him one hundred and twenty metal bars in exchange for three recipes (forty iron and eighty mithril bars). Needless to say... that took a while. I never set out on a single dedicated mining spree, but mostly tried to squeeze some more mining out of my questing experience by doing extra loops around areas where I had seen mining nodes spawn before. You also have to remember that ore nodes were much, much rarer in Vanilla than they became after the Cataclysm, plus they would spawn in wild mix across zones, so you couldn't just go to one place to farm one thing.

Eventually I got there and accumulated enough iron and mithril. At last, three recipes for ornate mithril wotsits were mine! Except... this is where I realised that I had learned how to make the wrong ornate mithril doodads, not the ones for the gear slots actually required for the quest. D'oh!

More research was needed. Apparently, to learn how to make the right items I would have to talk to that night elf guy by the forge in Gadgetzan. I knew him well, because even as a non-blacksmith I couldn't help but notice his popularity back in the day. Nelf guy (also of Troll Temper fame) offered to teach me the three recipes I needed if I brought him some of the orante mithril thingies I could already make (phew, at least that wasn't a complete waste of time) as well as some "heavy mithril" stuff.

Now I had to research where that came from. As it turns out, it comes from a trainer! But not one I had been aware of. I had thought that armoursmithing was intrinsically connected to master blacksmithing, but this was not the case. A goblin in Booty Bay of all people is apparently one of the most accomplished blacksmiths in all of Azeroth and could teach me what I needed to know... if I increased my skill enough. More mining was needed because I needed more mats. (Most items required 10+ bars of anything to make, not to mention additional materials like leather or gems.)

Eventually my regular old blacksmithing was up high enough that I could learn how to make heavy mithril gear. Once I'd made that as well as the ornate mithril thingamajigs, I finally had all the knowledge needed to complete my armoursmithing quest. Only about fifteen levels or so after I'd originally required it.

After I was finally declared an armoursmith... the dwarf had a total of two recipes to teach me. What the hell?

Grasping at any kind of straws in regards to how to proceed, I remembered that I'd heard people talk about using the Imperial Plate armour set to level their blacksmithing at the higher levels (the same set that all the Stormwind guards wear). Once more I had to consult the database for information on how to learn it. First I had to increase my skill by a few more points, which meant more mining.

Then I had to revisit Tanaris, this time to talk to the dark iron dwarf next to nelf boy. Turns out he's willing to sell the recipes for every single piece of Imperial plate gear... for thorium bars, about two hundred of them. This is where I finally had a minor windfall though, because with all the time I had spent hunting for mithril, I had incidentally built up enough of a thorium stockpile that I could buy all his recipes at once.

Now I just need to acquire another couple hundred thorium bars to actually craft the damn things. It's kind of annoying, but also something of an achievement - in Vanilla, professions simply weren't for everyone.