Level 30 Hunter And Other Tidbits

One month into Classic's lifetime, my hunter has been my first character to hit level 30. I still think of the shaman as my "main", but I'm trying to keep that one in sync with my husband right now, whose enthusiasm for Classic has greatly diminished and whom I can therefore only get to play every couple of days. Meanwhile the hunter is always available for a short play session here or there during the week, so she was bound to get ahead in levels eventually.

Level 30 meant that I got my favourite of all hunter abilities:

As you can see in the screenshot above, I also went ahead and tamed that second pet I'd been thinking about. I opted for a plain old cloud serpent from Thousand Needles this time, no rare skin or anything. I'm hoping for distinction through species for this one, as I don't see many hunters running with cloud serpents, most seeming to prefer cats. It does remain funny to me how due to this, even "rare" cat skins seem way more common than whole other species.

For example I've seen about three different night elves with the Ghost Saber already, and I ran into a multiboxer who was playing five identical hunters who all had Echeyakee as their pet. Comparatively, I haven't even seen a single hunter of either faction with a spider pet so far... but then that might change once the PvP system comes in and people have an incentive to conduct psychological warfare against arachnophobes in battlegrounds.

Hunter may well be the most fun class to play solo in my opinion, to the point that I don't even mind grinding mobs. There's just something very relaxing about sending your pet in and then just plonking away at the enemy from range.

Belghast had a good post about farming spots up a few days ago, and I spent several nights in that vein killing furbolgs in Thistlefur Hold in Ashenvale. It's a place that wouldn't meet all of Belghast's criteria for a good farm spot, not least because the nearest vendor for Horde characters is miles away, but it's pleasantly unpopular with the crowds and offers a dense mob population that's easy enough to kill if you're high enough level.

I remember back in Vanilla I didn't even find out about its existence until I levelled my first Horde character, since it's so easy to miss as Alliance, and it being basically one big cave crammed with furbolgs doesn't make it a particularly pleasant place to be in general... but I didn't find it too much of a problem. I only died once in there, and that was due to such a hilariously out of control overpull that it was at least as amusing as it was frustrating.

While farming those furbolgs I got my first blue BoE world drop in Classic. I paused and took a screenshot, just like my first blue drop on Kronos was among my highlights of levelling on that server. Rare items in Classic live up to their name.

It was an off-hand called Antipodean Rod and while spell damage is generally a good stat, I wasn't entirely sure what to make of it. According to Wowhead comments it's a very good twink item for mages, but of course there is no real market for that yet with no battlegrounds.

I tried putting it up on the auction house for three gold anyway, but it didn't sell and the next time I checked someone else had put one up for a single gold. I decided that I didn't want to part with my first blue for that little money and sent it to my lowbie mage instead.

Yes, I made another alt, why not? (Not a cow this time, simply because they can't be spellcasters.) This one's main purpose was actually to become my disenchanter, since I was recently reminded that disenchanting had no level requirements back in Vanilla. Doesn't mean I'm not going to play her at least a little bit.

And so it goes, as everything I do in Classic quickly sets me on the path towards something else, and it feels like I have endless goals to pursue. This is why I expect that it's going to keep me busy for a while.


Blackfathom Adventures

My last few posts have all been very theoretical, so let me tell you a story involving actual gamplay for a change, to mix things up a bit.

This past weekend I decided that I wanted to go to Blackfathom Deeps on my hunter. After keeping my eyes peeled on both general chat and the LFG channel while questing in Ashenvale for a while, I eventually managed to join a group.

It was a pretty pleasant and uneventful run up until we got to the area with the Twilight cultists. First our tauren warrior tank asked if we minded taking a smoke break for him. It's one of those rather awkward questions to ask in a pug, because realistically most of us were probably thinking something along the lines of: "Ugh no, this is taking long enough as it is, and you want to make us sit around for another ten minutes just so you can smoke a cigarette?"

On the other hand though, you also want to keep everyone in the group sweet and the last thing you need is the tank getting grumpy due to nicotine withdrawal. So we all agreed that he could go while the rest of us tried to use the break in other constructive ways (getting drinks, going to the toilet, that sort of thing).

He came back and we cleared the way to the temple, but we hadn't been underwater yet, to pick up the quest item from there and kill the thrasher boss. The troll shaman and I kept urging people to come over and get into the water, but the tank and feral druid seemed oddly reluctant.

Suddenly the druid sat down, said that he had to go and logged off. We were a little taken aback by the suddenness of this, but it's not like BFD is cutting edge content - I figured we'd be able to continue just fine with a dps down.

However, then the tank suddenly said that he also had to go. "Really?" asked one of my remaining group mates, somewhat incredulously, to which the tank replied that his mum was in the hospital and logged off.

It was one of those awkward moments where you don't quite know what to think, because the timing sure made it seem like a lie concocted on the spot to ward off any criticism or damage to one's reputation for leaving people hanging like that, but on the other hand it's the sort of thing that makes you hesitant to call someone out because if it's true they are of course completely right and deserve nothing but sympathy.

Either way, the troll shaman, undead priest and I were left at a loss. Getting a replacement of any kind this close to the end of a dungeon is rarely feasible.

Still, not wanting to give up I suggested that we should press on with the three of us to see how it'd go with my pet tanking. Unfortunately poor Snowclaw didn't stand a chance at keeping aggro off my level 29 group mates, being only 25 himself, but the shaman didn't seem to do much worse at tanking anyway, so he equipped the dagger that dropped off Old Serra'kis, strapped on a shield and we continued like that.

The temple is probably one of the toughest part of the instance, with all the trash requiring careful pulling and some of the mob waves spawned by the brazier doing quite brutal damage. However, our shaman bravely did as much kite-tanking as he could, running enemies in circles around his earthbind totem, and the priest gave it his all, contributing damage with his wand after he ran out of mana to heal.

Slowly but surely we managed to whittle down the remanining enemies that way until only Aku'mai herself remained. She was tough, especially since I could contribute only relatively little damage, what with being three levels lower than her. Again, we all ran ourselves out of mana by the end, but the boss eventually collapsed at the same time as my pet and with our shaman only having a smidgeon of health left as well. Victory!

I felt very warm and fuzzy at the end, pleased with how the three of us had worked together all the harder after our other two group mates had left. These are the moments to remember and that plant the seeds for new friendships. I'm not really looking for new friends right now, but I added both of them to my friends list anyway, just in case.

Also interesting: The next day I ran BFD with my husband on my druid, and there we also had a dps quit in the run-up to the temple. To be fair he'd pretty much said that he was only there for the one quest item, so I guess it wasn't entirely surprising that he closed the game shortly afterwards.

Still, when you're already this close to the end and everything's going smoothly, why not just finish the run and have a shot at loot from the last two bosses? I get that real life can always interfere, but three out of seven pugs quitting at around the same point in the dungeon sure felt odd. Am I missing something here?



As we're approaching four weeks since Classic's launch, I have three tauren ladies in their mid-twenties. It's not how I expected things to go at all (I very much expected to be much more focused on my main), but I'm having fun. I do want to level up, but I keep feeling the pull of other attractions.

One thing I've found very striking about playing Classic is how well-balanced everything feels. Expressing it like this may raise some eyebrows, since balance is usually only associated with things like raid dps and PvP, and I certainly wouldn't claim that Vanilla WoW was all that great in those areas.

But when exactly did we decide that those two aspects of an MMO needed to be balanced above all else? What about things like levelling speed, difficulty of soloing or profession rewards? Why should these be treated as also-rans?

Almost everything in Classic's levelling game feels extremely thoughtfully balanced against each other. One-on-one combat is not difficult by default, but you can dial the difficulty up or down not by selecting some sort of UI toggle, but by choosing to engage mobs that are above or below you in level. Soloing is comfortable, but the world is threatening enough that grouping usually feels beneficial anyway.

While levels are your primary progression mechanic, they are far from the only thing to care about. There are flight paths to unlock, weapon skills to level, professions to work on, class-based progression mechanics like a shaman's totems, a hunter's pets or a rogue's lock-picking to consider. All of these matter and everything feels logically tied together.

Take something as simple as money. Having gone through the same starter zones multiple times in quick succession, I found it notable how they are designed in such a way that as you complete that very first handful of quests, you should - on average - have just enough money to afford your new spells as you level up, but nothing else. You may have a few copper left, or be just a little bit short of an upgrade, but you'll likely be close.

And this continues as you level up, as you'll probably find that for a long time you'll only have just enough money to get by, and always find yourself longing for more - again, on average. If you spend all your time grinding mobs you'll probably be somewhat better off financially compared to someone who's trying to level a crafting profession as they go along.

Also, something as simple as which class you play can make a difference: For example I noticed that my shaman has a much harder time with money, being expected to upgrade a bazillion different totems every other level, than my druid or hunter, who'll often have less than half a dozen new spells to train. Still, the trend is clear that you're given enough to get by but are always left longing for more.

As another example of balance, let's look at something like fishing. It's a secondary profession, purely optional, and I'm sure many people skip it altogether because they consider it boring. However, it does have benefits that make it worth your time: It's an easy source of food, both to level your cooking and just to have something to eat if you're a class that doesn't have any healing abilities. Most hunter pets also eat fish, making it a great source of free pet food as well. Alchemists need certain rare fish for a couple of their recipes, and if you seek out fishing pools you can also dredge up kelp (another alchemy reagent) and crates full of money, leather and cloth bolts for tailors.

Nothing feels bolted on and like it's just intended to be busywork: all systems are interconnected in ways that make them extremely engaging. It's something that I haven't seen done this well in any more modern MMO that I've tried. Seems that the original dev team weren't just lucky with their timing and all that, but also actually knew their craft very well. Who'd have thought it?


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.