Classic WoW & Me in 2019

A few days ago Wilhelm made a nice post summarising where he stands in Classic WoW after four months, in terms of how many alts he has at which level, with which professions etc. I thought this would be a nice format to copy and would also make for a nice post to finish up the year on this blog. Without further ado, my current character roster in Classic:

  • Level 60 Hunter
  • 11 days, 12 hours played
  • 300 Mining, 275 Engineering, 289 Cooking, 281 Fishing, 300 First Aid
Originally conceived to be an alt that I could play whenever my friends didn't feel up for playing in a group, this hunter is currently my undisputed main, seeing how everyone else cruelly abandoned me (/cue world's smallest violin).

I have to admit that life at max level doesn't engross me as much in Classic as the levelling game did, but she has been achieving some minor goals over the past few weeks. Talking about some of that will probably be my next post in fact.

  • Level 36 Shaman
  • 3 days, 23 hours played
  • 226 Skinning, 203 Leatherworking, 207 Cooking, 225 Fishing, 260 First Aid
Originally meant to be my main; then the friend I played with got so far ahead of me that I felt discouraged. My husband agreed to replace her as my levelling partner, so I got him all caught up and we did spend another ten levels or so levelling together, until he lost interest in the game too.

Yet this is still the character I kind of want to main in terms of class and role, but solo-levelling as a resto shaman is just the pits. Plus I'm still in that awkward spot where part of me is secretly hoping that I'll manage to get my husband back into it, so I don't really want to outlevel his warrior just yet anyway.

  • Level 34 Druid
  • 2 days, 21 hours played
  • 198 Herbalism, 189 Alchemy, 151 Cooking, 148 Fishing, 224 First Aid
Originally created to duo with my husband's warrior as I got him caught up to my shaman's level, this little druid is slowly shaping up to become my main alt I think. They are just so versatile: able to solo a lot of pretty tough content, but also capable of filling literally any role in a levelling dungeon as long as the person behind the character is willing to do so, and I absolutely am.

Currently her focus in terms of gear and spec is on tanking, but I started putting together a healing set as well, because Sod's Law says that despite of there seemingly always being a tank shortage for everything, the moment you are on your tank it will be some other role that's in short supply. When I ran RFK on her, our group had no fewer than three tanks in it (I was one of two who agreed to go dps).

  • Level 27 Mage
  • 1 day, 18 hours played
  • 185 Tailoring, 109 Enchanting, 148 Cooking, 156 Fishing, 132 First Aid
I originally created this character to have a disenchanter and bag-maker, and most of her levelling has been driven by me feeling that she was a bit too low on money, bag space and character levels relative to the challenge of storing all those bits of cloth and enchanting materials.

Mostly I've found that I don't seem to enjoy playing mage as much as I remembered, even though I know that they are objectively quite powerful. I think they just require a more offensive and mobile playstyle than I'm really comfortable with. Being able to teleport to all the cities and saving a lot of time that would otherwise be spent on flight paths, boats or zeppelins is great though.

We'll see what 2020 will bring for these four and what new alts will end up joining the stable (because you know it will happen eventually, not least because I don't currently have a priest of all things...)


There's Something About Alterac Valley

About ten days ago, Blizzard dropped the patch that introduced battlegrounds to WoW Classic, or at least the first two: Warsong Gulch and Alterac Valley. I've never been a huge fan of the former, but I did want to get in on the action in the latter. Conveniently I even dinged 60 just in time to not be completely useless.

Now, queueing for battlegrounds doesn't work the same way in Classic as it does in retail and other modern MMOs. There's no convenient button to just enter the queue from anywhere in the world. There aren't even battlemasters in the capital cities yet, though I do seem to recall those being there in late Vanilla... maybe Classic will get them in a later phase as well.

As it stands though, the only way to join a match of WSG or AV is to leg it to Ashenvale or Alterac and dutifully bump your nose up against the instance entrance for the battleground to make a queue prompt appear. And then you sit there and wait.

While queues are cross-server and I'm sure that's good for queue times overall, it also means that Horde being the smaller faction on Pyrewood Village has exactly zero effect on our queue times, as we get thrown in with all those PvP servers with a Horde majority and therefore need to wait for enough Alliance players to line up to make up the numbers just like everyone else. Initially queue times were only about eight minutes, but since then they've increased to about twenty minutes at times.

This is annoying because that's a really long time to just stand around and wait (you'll have to tap your character at least a couple of times to not get logged out for being AFK), but Classic being what it is, it's also not really enough time to go out and do some quests in the meantime. (Not to mention that you need to be back at the door anyway to queue for the next match once you're done.) Worse, sometimes the matches can be so quick that you spend way more time sitting in the queue than actually playing.

Yeah, if you thought Classic was going to be a return to those "epic" week-long AV matches that people always talk about so fondly...  prepare to be disappointed. Personally I had no expectations of that nature myself, based on my experiences with Vanilla AV on private servers, but I was still kind of stunned by how many matches were over in less than ten minutes. The very first "introduction to AV" quest you pick up near the entrance asks you to retrieve a banner from a cave near your base and I failed it several times simply because I couldn't fight my way to the back of the cave quickly enough before the match was already over again, even if I made a straight beeline for the objective the moment the gates opened.

Sadly it's simply a classic case of WoW players needing to be saved from themselves. It was interesting to watch conversations about this in guild chat, as they basically came down to everyone agreeing that five-minute rushes to the end were not fun, but a lot of people still insisting that everyone should be doing the thing that's not fun anyway to optimise their honour per hour. To me, this is the problem with WoW players in a nutshell.

Fortunately AV is too big for the fun police to enforce anything efficiently. While there may be general moaning that "people" should be doing this or that, nobody really cares about any particular individual going off to do their own thing, unless you go AFK in a blatantly obvious spot, so I've spent a lot of time simply trying to get various quests done.

I previously expressed excitement about acquiring the Ice Barbed Spear for example, but I'd forgotten that this very same quest actually also rewards a pretty sweet crossbow, so I went for that instead as it provided more of an immediate benefit. Mind you, I'd never come across a crossbow before during my entire time levelling, so my weapon skill with them was 1. I entered my next AV match without realising that you can't increase your weapon skill in battlegrounds... let's just say that next match was a bit of an oopsie.

Anyway, once I'd got that sorted out, my main motivation to keep playing was reputation, not honour (though I'm up to rank 2, "Grunt", right now - woo). Interestingly, reputation vendors in Classic don't even let you see their wares if you don't have the right reputation level, so there's no window shopping and sighing over the goodies you'll hopefully acquire soon. You've got to look up the rewards outside the game or be surprised.

One thing I had looked up were arrows, because I hadn't seen an opportunity to upgrade my arrows since I switched to jagged arrows at level 40. Research led me to Thorium Headed Arrows as the ultimate endgame ammo, but they can only be acquired by crafting Thorium Shells from a rare schematic and then trading them in at a vendor... not particularly appealing to a casual player like me.

However, you could also get arrows that are slightly worse than the Thorium ones but better than jagged by reaching honoured with your AV faction, so that's what I went for. Simply being able to buy those from a vendor was going to be much more straightforward than the whole song and dance surrounding Thorium arrows, even if they could only be purchased from the AV reputation vendor near Tarren Mill.

I did get that done eventually and was pleasantly surprised that the vendor also had upgrades for another couple of my gear slots at honoured reputation. Not pre-raid best in slot or anything like that, but better than what I had so I was happy.

We'll see whether/when I continue with my rep grind. Looking up the list of potential rewards for revered and exalted, there are a couple more items that would be nice to have as a hunter; I'm just not much of a grinder. That said, every now and then it can be fun to camp in the AV cave waiting for queue pops while doing something else on the side (such as write a blog post like this one).

I'm not the only one resisting the rush-rush meta and while I'm not sure the long wait times are ultimately worth it, my matches have been interesting more often than boring. Even my win/loss ratio hasn't been too bad considering that AV is notorious for favouring the Alliance. And it does fill a unique niche of hybrid PvE/PvP content that I don't really get anywhere else.


Level 60 Hunter

Yesterday I hit level 60 on my hunter. I didn't quite catch the actual moment of levelling up since the GeForce Experience screen capping functionality has been annoyingly laggy ever since I last upgraded my PC, but here's a shot of the seconds right after.

Just like on my paladin on Kronos three and a half years ago, the big ding took place in Winterspring. In fact, for a little while it looked like it was also going to happen from a hand-in at Donova Snowden again, but then I decided to work on a few more quests in the eastern half of the zone first.

When I shared my endgame woes in my last post, Bhagpuss commented that Winterspring wasn't so bad, and I explained why I hadn't gone there yet (at the time), but actually going there also reminded me of another reason I had avoided it: the furbolgs there are camped to hell and back, even early in the morning, which makes it very hard to get any of the quests related to them done. Since it feels like nine out of ten of the campers in question are Alliance, it's not even like I could have offered to group up either.

My /played time as a freshly dinged 60 was eerily similar to my numbers from Kronos as well, which was actually quite a surprise to me considering that my hunter could run faster, kill things much more quickly, and everyone's been saying the content is much easier on Classic than on your average private server.

I'd love to know where I "lost" the time that I must have saved by playing a different class, but my only real guesses are the gold-making break just before level 40 (since paladins get their mount virtually for free, that wasn't a concern for Isadora) and having to roam far and wide for certain kill quests whereas competition for kills had been pretty much non-existent on Kronos.

Anyway, I shall once again take this as an opportunity to post some random screenshots from my levelling journey. I took a lot fewer of these than expected, presumably because playing on private servers had already used up a lot of my sense of awe and wonder at the simple beauty of Classic.

This little conversation involving people congratulating my pet on levelling up in a pug is - to me - quite representative of how differently pets are perceived in Classic.

Okay, I may not have been as amazed by the views anymore as I could have been, but I still loved to pause and take in my surroundings in Thousand Needles more than once.

I think I did this escort quest at least three times (not all of them on my hunter though).

The Dalaran bubble is also a sight that still amazes me.

This was neither my first nor my last BoE blue, but it was around this time that I started to form the theory that your chances of a blue drop increase drastically the fuller your bags are and the more desperate you are to see a vendor already.

When was the last time you managed to lose a loot roll to someone who rolled a 2?

More Thousand Needles views (I spent a lot of time there).

Here I was just amused to run into another hunter with a white wind serpent. I've since seen more of them, but at the time I found it unusual.

Desolace is not a pretty zone in Classic, but there was just something about this night time view that I found striking.

I like to level all my professions as I go along, including fishing, so here's my hunter doing the Feralas part of the quest to skill up past 225 for Nat Pagle.

Many dungeon tactics are quite different in Classic compared to what we knew back in the day. For example I learned that in Uldaman "the thing to do" these days when fighting the last boss is to pull him out of his room and up to the next floor to minimise add interference.

I've said before that I'm not a fan of Maraudon but I will admit that parts of it are quite pretty.

Another one of those "different in Classic" things: In Vanilla it was quite hard to find people for the quest to kill Shadra in the Hinterlands, since it's at the end of a long chain which has quite an obscure start to boot (from clicking on a tiny item on a table). In Classic people were forming pug groups for it all the time (at least while I was passing through the zone).

Doing Jinta'alor with a mix of guildies and pugs made for a fun afternoon that felt like time well-spent.

In Vanilla I remember being scared of the possibility of a giant devilsaur suddenly coming my way while I was questing in Un'goro. In Classic, everyone knows that gear made out of their leather is great for pretty much all melee dps classes, including warriors, and they are farmed almost to extinction. During my entire time questing in the crater I think I only ever saw two (this one and one other).

Old-school game, old-school scamming attempts...

This is the chest you receive at the end of the Kalaran Windblade chain in Searing Gorge. I just had to chuckle at how it pokes fun at the ubiquity of cheese in open world chests. Also, fun fact: while I was looking up something else about this quest chain, I read in the comments about it that the character name is apparently based on a famous EQ player. Just another one of those nods from early Blizzard to the game that inspired them.


Hitting The Endgame Wall

My last post ended on a very optimistic note, but as it turned out that optimism may have been slightly misplaced or at least premature. For example I'd forgotten just how much I loathe most of the game's original endgame zones. To quote myself from three and a half years ago when I was levelling my paladin on Kronos:

I just don't really like most of the Vanilla level 50+ zones. The Plaguelands are depressing, the Burning Steppes are dull, Silithus with its grating soundtrack and ongoing bug noises is just freaking annoying. I actually find myself wondering if WoW would have been as "sticky" for me if Burning Crusade hadn't come out relatively soon after I hit max level, sparing me from having to spend a significant amount of time with the level sixty endgame.

After finishing up Felwood and Un'goro, my hunter set foot into the Plaguelands and I barely managed to complete two quests before I was feeling turned off. Ugh...

Attempts to pad my XP gains with a few more pug dungeons weren't successful either. Having hit level 58, which is technically high enough for all of Classic's endgame dungeons, I figured that I should be able to tap into the never-ending stream of LFM requests for max-level content that I'd observed during most of my levelling journey. Unfortunately though, it turns out that level 58 hunters aren't the most popular characters in /LookingForGroup.

The first three people I whispered didn't respond to me at all, just kept spamming their LFG request as if nobody was replying. Another told me that they were already full (quite some time after my initial whisper though) and two other times I was told that they already had a hunter and didn't want another. I mean of course, bringing more than one of the same class to a dungeon would surely be unthinkable!

I'm being a bit facetious here because when damage dealers are a dime a dozen there is some logic to trying to build a diverse group, not least because it increases the chances of everyone getting some loot and little going to waste. But after how inclusive and easygoing most of my pugs had been while levelling up, it was still a bit of a blow. (I ran quite a few levelling dungeons with groups with other hunters and there were never any bad vibes. In Sunken Temple a troll hunter and I even set up trap chains on some pulls since a single ice trap's duration is so short.)

Finally I managed to get invited to a group for Strat live that had already both a tank and a healer but was taking suspiciously long to fill its dps slots - my best guess is that the fact that the group leader and healer was a level 59 shaman was deterring the same kinds of people who didn't want a level 58 hunter in their group.

I was feeling optimistic though as we engaged in some friendly chatter on the way to the dungeon entrance. Unfortunately we were only on the second pull when an Eye of Naxx appeared and since I couldn't kill it fast enough we got adds and wiped. Fortunately nobody took it too badly and we just resed up and continued. Unfortunately we soon suffered more deaths, such as when the tank made a big pull while the mage was busy conjuring water. I'll shamefully admit that I was responsible for some deaths too when a clumsy tab-target sent an arrow flying into an extra group of mobs (though that pull didn't wipe us).

We made it past the gate with the rats, and then wiped again on the very next pull. This time I couldn't even tell what had gone wrong exactly; it felt like the healer just hadn't been able to keep up with the damage on the tank. One of the dps said that he didn't have time for this, left, and before I knew it the group had disbanded.

Just like Vanilla indeed. My first memory of Strat is my nelf priest being roped into serving as a healer for a pug run, us wiping a few times on the first road and everything falling apart soon after.

I'm not sure if this screenshot is from that run, as it looks like we must have got a bit further that time, but you get the idea.

I was starting to entertain the idea of cancelling my sub and giving the whole thing a break for a couple of months when I finally got lucky and managed to snag a spot in a guild run on Sunday morning, also for Strat live as it happened. That experience couldn't have been more different: The run was chill and very successful (we never wiped, though there were a couple of humorous deaths, such as when the undead warlock gained an insane amount of aggro from some Scarlets by cannibalising the corpse of one of their mates), and even better for me personally: I hit level 59 and scored no less than three very good pre-raid pieces of gear that nobody else needed.

So hope lives on.