Celebrating the Lunar Festival

It's time for another seasonal holiday in WoW, and while I completely ignored Christmas even in its Classic incarnation, the Lunar Festival has long been a favourite of mine. To be honest, I was kind of surprised myself when I read that old post of mine, because I thought I remembered not being all that impressed by this event in my early days. I guess I came to appreciate it more when everything started to become "achievified" during Wrath and the Lunar Festival hadn't been too badly affected yet.

Fun fact: While the Lunar Festival is obviously inspired by the real life Chinese New Year, I was completely oblivious to this for the longest time. After all, the event is centred on Moonglade and I thought it made perfect sense that the night elves would worship the moon and have a whole celebration dedicated to it.

Anyway, I initially wasn't too excited to be accosted by an event NPC in Darnassus (I was playing my new nelf hunter at the time) but after having visited a couple of elders it occurred to me that in Classic even the "measly" 50 faction rep you get per visited elder is not a bad reward. After all that's how much you get for handing in a full stack of Runecloth to a quartermaster, and I do have this distant dream of my tauren hunter riding a wolf one day...

So I've started taking her on a bit of a tour. I even rode the boat to Darnassus to visit Elder Bladeleaf in Dolanaar! I was quite nervous riding through Darnassus (so much so that I completely forgot that there was also an elder in the city itself), because while I tried to be inconspicuous, a kodo with a big red nameplate above its head is kind of hard to miss. Several Alliance players ran along with me but didn't do anything other than emote at me (much to my relief) but just when I thought that I'd made it, a human rogue rode up to me and killed me. Because it's always a rogue, isn't it? However, as that remained my only death during that particular trip, I still considered myself lucky.

I also travelled to Moonglade to take down Omen. He's kind of a proto public event, as completing the quest doesn't require you to have the tag for him, only to bask in the moonlight that comes down after his death. That said, even that is deceptive, as it's apparently buggy or something and doesn't always give quest credit. You may have to click off the buff and allow it to be reapplied multiple times, like I did. Still, since you can just run along with a friendly Alliance raid and let them do all the hard work, it wasn't too much of a hassle to go back and do it a second time.

Like Hallow's End, all of this is reminding me that I wasn't always as cynical about seasonal events as I am now. Just another reminder that in many ways the good old days really were more to my liking than many of the game's modern innovations.


For the Alliance!

I'm surprised it took me this long to start playing an Alliance character, considering my long history of playing both factions... but last week I finally caved and logged into the night elf hunter whose name I had reserved on the RP server Hydraxian Waterlords before launch.

The most immediate culture shock was that HW seemed positively deserted compared to Pyrewood Village. It's actually classified as being at medium capacity, and I'm sure it's busier in places like Ironforge and the higher level zones, but I could still hardly believe my eyes when I only met a single person during my entire time in the immediate starting area.

The thing is: It actually felt really nice, too. Big populations have their advantages when it comes to finding groups, but at the same time I have to admit that when it comes to simply enjoying the feeling of being in a mystical forest, hiking across snowy mountains or crossing a vast desert, jostling elbows with five other players every other step is detrimental to the experience more than anything. It's more magical to have the wilderness mostly to yourself, with the passage of other players actually being something noteworthy instead of so much background noise.

I was a bit worried that I'd feel tired of Teldrassil, considering that it's a zone I've done on private servers twice in recent years, but the questing didn't feel repetitive to me just yet. Of course it helps that to me, Teldrassil just feels way too much like home. I get that the night elf aesthetic isn't everyone's cup of tea and would agree that the quest flow is far from the best, but I still love it anyway.

It's also been an interesting reminder of the funny way in which memories work. For example I had completely forgotten that there is an actual group quest to kill an elite called Oakenscowl, even though after getting it, the memory of doing it on the private server came back to me... but I think on my first trip through the area as a genuine noob elf, I must have done it when I was already way over-levelled, or maybe I even abandoned it going: "Screw this, I'm not going back to that lake again!" Either way I have no memory of doing it back in the day, and it seems that because of this, its existence still surprises me every time.

The barrow with the Relics of Wakening quest in it on the other hand I always recall being a pain, so I always make sure to save it until I'm almost done with the zone and somewhat over-levelled for it.

Trying to make my nelf a bit different from my tauren hunter, I made her a leatherworker and tamed a cat. For a brief while I was actually pondering whether I should make some sort of death run again to get a skin that's rare among lowbie Alliance players, but then I kind of fell in love with the spotty saber I had to tame for my level 10 quest and simply got another one of those once I was able to tame my permanent pet. The most cliché of cliché nelf hunter pets: the saber right out of the starter zone. Then again, with how keen everyone in Classic seems to be on having rare pets, my common choice might well end up being unusual in its own way. Or I might just get a different cat when I'm higher level. We'll see.


Champion of the Banshee Queen

I've been visiting Nathanos Blightcaller lately. Similar to how it was quite the throwback to be reminded of Tirion Fordring's humble beginnings as a hermit asking the player for maggot stew, I hadn't really thought about good old Nathanos' original incarnation in a while.

An ugly undead who dual-wields meat cleavers, the vanilla version of Nathanos resides at the Marris Stead in the Eastern Plaguelands, where he used to live while he was still... well, alive. There he collects piles of skulls and plays with his plaguehounds. If you hang around long enough, you can even see him throwing skulls to play fetch with them.

He's also what's probably the most cantankerous quest giver on Horde side - and there's some competition for that spot, mind you - constantly insulting you and calling you names. It's hilarious.

Varimathras himself has requested that I send my most 'capable' agents back to the Undercity for a highly sensitive tactical operation.

Unfortunately, my most capable agents were killed over three years ago. In their stead I have a collection of brain dead riff-raff.

[Nathanos stares coldly at you.]

It may be an old joke, but it's still a classic!

After I dispatched Borelgore for him, he had this to say:

Keep this up and I may have to promote you from imbecile to mental deficient, first class.

He's also a raid boss and the Alliance has a quest to kill him. I've never seen it done, but I can imagine this making for some quite amusing situations. I've also heard that this actually makes him quite popular with Horde players, who delight in seeing hapless Alliance get slaughtered with overwhelming force. I imagine that on PvP servers, the Marris Stead must be a pleasant haven of safety for Hordies.

All this did get me wondering though how we ended up with Nathanos' current incarnation: From what I've surmised from watching YouTube videos of cinematics and the like, he's now a pretty handsome man (as far as undead go) who loves to make puppy-dog eyes at Sylvanas. She in turn seems to flirt with him a lot, though with Sylvanas being Sylvanas, I always get the impression that she just enjoys yanking his chain.

I actually went so far as to consult the Wowpedia entry for Nathanos - which is massive by the way - where I learned that apparently his body was restored in some dark ritual, and that Blizzard decided at some point to give him the backstory (established in written supplementary material) that he and Sylvanas had something like a clandestine affair going on when they were still alive (more or less), which seems to have transcended death. I do hope there's a bit more to the whole thing in game, because I have to admit that setup sounds kind of lame to me.

I'm not against the idea of some Forsaken still experiencing romantic feelings, but I honestly preferred the idea that Nathanos simply admired Sylvanas for her skills and willpower, and that she in turn valued his loyalty and ambition. But hey, I guess men and women can't just be friends... even if they're both undead and evil.

(Interestingly, the change to his character doesn't seem to have been all that popular with the currnet player base either - I was clued in on this by Google suggesting that I add the word "self insert" to my "Nathanos Blightcaller" search, which led me to a massive rant thread.)


Casual Endgame Goals

A few years ago I wrote a post explaining what you could do at endgame in Vanilla besides raiding. I'd like to catch you up on how I've been doing with these goals on my hunter in Classic.

Pet Care

Actually, let's start with a bullet point that wasn't on my list back then because it's hunter-specific. As I mentioned previously, my pets really started to fall behind my hunter's level in the fifties, so one of my first goals was to get both of them up to level 60 too. Boy, did that ever take a long time! Nearly three weeks of real time and more than 40 hours of /played in fact. I suppose it could have been done faster if my focus had been on grinding level-appropriate mobs, which is the one and only way of funnelling XP into my little companions, but I was doing a lot of wandering about and doing quests, which obviously benefitted them very little.

They are however both caught up at last, and I also went out into the world to learn higher ranks of Bite and Claw to teach them. Though the highest rank of Bite can apparently only be learned from worgs in Blackrock Spire... I said bollocks to that and settled for the rank below that. Similarly Lightning Breath rank 6 can only be acquired from a Son of Hakkar in Sunken Temple, though that seems a lot more achievable and I'll need to make some time for it one of these days.


As mentioned in my previous post, regular solo questing has actually been a bit of a challenge because of my quest log being so chock full of dungeon quests, but I have slowly been chipping away at various solo quest lines, especially in the Plaguelands.

There are a number of quests that unlock interesting quest rewards, keys or attunements that I'd quite like to complete just so I can say that I've done them, though I also just generally enjoy questing for its own sake. My most noteworthy quest achievements so far are that I've acquired the key to Scholomance and attuned myself to the Molten Core (though the latter obviously required a group).


Just like on my pally back on Kronos I started off grinding Timbermaw rep because I wanted to get to neutral. Those two quest items you pick up and that you can't hand in before then really bugged me! At times I felt quite discouraged by how overfarmed all the furbolg camps were, but eventually I got lucky when I had some free time outside peak hours... plus I did some farming just after the release of AV, when everything out in the world was a bit quieter than usual. There was no immediate incentive to push beyond neutral though.

My reputation with the Argent Dawn is up to friendly simply because of all the undead I killed with my Argent Dawn Commission equipped while questing in the Plaguelands - this is one reputation that feels like it should mostly take care of itself as long as you stay busy in the area and keep running Scholo and Strat.

I haven't started on the Thorium Brotherhood yet and am not sure if there's really any point in doing so either, but I'd quite like to be able to dump all that Dark Iron Residue acquired during my BRD runs somewhere other than the auction house.

I also did the intro quest for the Hydraxian Waterlords, but I'd have to actually go to MC now to continue working on that rep.

Earning Money

Acquiring an epic mount doesn't feel nearly as urgent as the level 40 mount felt to me, maybe because there is a lot less peer pressure. While it seems to me that epic mounts are much more common in Classic than they were back in Vanilla, there are still plenty of people riding around on the slower mounts. Still, it's a goal to work towards in the long run. I'm about halfway there right now, with most of the money having come from questing. (Classic fortunately already has that mechanic that converts excess XP rewards into gold at max level, something that Vanilla didn't have at the very beginning.)


I figured that mining would mostly take care of itself, and it kind of did, but I was still surprised by how long it took me to hit 300. I didn't remember Thorium being quite so rare, to the point that even endgame zones like Silithus or the Plaguelands are actually filled with more Mithril than anything else. And even when you do find a Thorium node, small ones are usually gone after a single hit and even the so-called rich ones sometimes already disappear after only two taps.

My engineering is up to 285 and the last fifteen points seem very doable if I could only find some more Thorium (see above). And that's considering the very humble amounts required for engineering! I feel bad for the blacksmiths who need hundreds and hundreds of bars to level up.

In terms of secondary professions, first aid has been maxed out for a while, and cooking and fishing are close. For the latter two it's just a matter of taking the time to actually get that final stretch done.

Alterac Valley

I haven't been back since hitting honoured for the arrows, and I already wrote about what I did before then in this post.


Considering my casual playstyle and that I'm not really aiming to do more than one dungeon a week at max, I'm pretty content with what I've achieved so far. Obviously I've run BRD a couple of times, but I've also done Dire Maul West, Scholo, Strat Live and UBRS. The latter was more of an accident than anything else, since I had joined a guild group to kill an elite quest mob, and before I knew it they'd turned the whole thing into an UBRS run to which I just happened to come along because I was already in the group!

In order to be able to say that I've done it all at least once I still need to do Dire Maul East and North, Strat Undead and LBRS. But of course there'll be reasons to re-run the others too... for example I have a quest to rescue Princess Moira from BRD now - yep, the Horde wanted her alive back in the day too, to improve relations with the dwarves. Who knew?


Looking at this list after writing it, I find it striking that "getting gear" doesn't feature as a primary goal anywhere. Sure, a lot of these activities will also yield gear as a side effect, but I feel in no hurry to chase any specific drops. I guess I'm just assuming that better gear will come naturally as part of doing all those other things, and it has worked reasonably well for me so far.


BRD Quest Run

I commented on one of Bhagpuss' posts a few weeks ago that I quite like the way WoW Classic introduces you to group content in a gradual way by slowly ramping up the percentage of group and dungeon quests as you level. I've seen many more modern MMOs get criticised for guiding you through a very solo-centric levelling game just to have you run into a metaphorical wall when you're suddenly supposed to group up for most if not all endgame content. I don't think anybody can really claim to be surprised in this manner when it comes to the group-centric endgame in Classic.

Now, while I generally think this is a good thing, I won't deny that it has its issues. Your quest log can only hold up to twenty quests, and when you pick up a dungeon quest you're usually not going to go and get it done right then and there; it will likely sit in your log for a while until an opportunity arises to get a group for the dungeon, effectively reducing the amount of slots you have available for solo questing in the meantime.

By level sixty this can become a real problem. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the main thing that's been putting me off playing my hunter most nights has simply been the overabundance of dungeon quests in her log, which had reached a point where she couldn't really pick up more than one or at most two solo quests at a time without dropping something else.

And I did drop some dungeon quests - or declined to pick them up in the first place, usually because I figured I wasn't likely to do that particular dungeon any time soon, or because it was given close to the entrance and I could hope that I'd remember to pick it up at the appropriate time. However, others were handed to me at the end of chains located in a variety of places, and I figured that if I dropped them, I'd likely never remember to pick them back up. And I did want to do them!

The worst offender in that regard was Blackrock Depths. It's an instance with a reputation for being huge and sprawling, and it has the quests to match. At some points literally half my quest log consisted of nothing but missions telling me to go to BRD. Worse, because of the nature of the dungeon, you could well run it once and not get more than one or two quests done, simply because the group didn't want to go to all the places you needed, which are likely located all over the map. For example I joined a run that was advertised as being an MC attunement run - and in fairness, I did get that done! However, part of me still wanted to cry a little, walking right past so many places and bosses that I needed as well but that simply weren't going to be part of this highly focused run.

I did join a run that was advertised as a "quest run" once, which did net me the Shadowforge Key among other things, but just after we'd killed Angerforge the tank suddenly "had to go", dropped group and hearthed out. (In hindsight I'm guessing he'd just viewed it as an opportunity to have another shot at the fabled Hand of Justice.) It didn't do much to alleviate my quest log problems.

Today though! I had the most epic and true-to-its-name quest run I ever could have imagined. Oddly, it actually helped that the group was led by a level 55 dps warrior who had been hesitant to take the tanking role because he was, as per his own admission, not super familiar with the dungeon, and others weren't always completely sure where to go either. This had the amusing side effect that everyone could basically go "over here, we should go over here" whenever they realised they were near one of their quest objectives, and nobody would object. We eventually called it at the entrance of MC, after we'd spent three and a half hours inside the instance and people were getting hungry as it was way past lunch time.

It didn't take us three and a half hours because the group was bad or anything though. We only had one wipe, which was based on me giving bad intel. ("I don't think he calls for help, but I'm not sure" just before we engaged Golem Lord Argelmach...) The rest of the time we just went absolutely everywhere, killing all the things. When I left, every single one of the BRD quests in my log actually said "complete"... for the time being, because there are always some follow-ups.

If you count the money from vendoring loot and item quest rewards, I also made more than fifty gold from that one run alone. I was so elated, I went ahead and finally picked up all those Blackrock Spire quests that I had been avoiding... just to immediately go back to having eighteen of my twenty quest log slots filled up. I'll just have to keep looking for more quest runs in LFG I guess...