Classic WoW & Me in 2022

I love that this end-of-year summary post has become a tradition, because every year I look back at the previous ones and every year so far my situation has been totally different 365 days later, in ways I never would've been able to predict.

Last year I was - after some struggles - quite happily playing Burning Crusade Classic, and hopeful for the near future, though I said even then: "Blizzard seems to want to push us through all the phases pretty quickly, so I reckon we'll either be in Sunwell or might even already be looking at a Classic Wrath of the Lich King by the end of the year. And what I'll do when that happens, I genuinely don't know."

What ended up happening in practice was that my guild fell apart in early spring, and Blizzard announced that there weren't going to be any BC era servers, which killed any and all motivation I had left to play BC Classic. I bummed around in retail for a bit until I made the decision to give Classic one last try by investing into Classic era, and I've been playing that ever since.

Giving an overview of my era characters is going to feel a bit weird when looking back at previous year-in-review posts, since their stats will be based on where they were at when era split off from BC one and a half years ago plus whatever time I've invested in them now, which means that Alliance characters in particular might look like they've effectively regressed since I last played them... but it is what it is.


So, thanks to the fact that I found myself invited to a friendly Horde guild soon after I started playing on era, my focus shifted back to Horde side for the first time since 2019.

Shika - Pyrewood Village

  • Level 60 Hunter
  • 25 days, 11 hours played
  • 300 Mining, 300 (Gnomish) Engineering, 300 Cooking, 300 Fishing, 300 First Aid

The tauren hunter I originally created because all my friends abandoned me about a month into Classic has returned to being my main, and she's also the character that made the most progress this year, going from the hodgepodge mix of greens and blues pictured in my 2019 year-in-review post to a mix of tier 2 and 3.

I'm not sure she'll stay my main in the long run, but for now she's not going anywhere.

Shilu - PV

  • Level 60 Druid
  • 9 days, 20 hours played
  • 315 Herbalism, 300 Alchemy, 300 Cooking, 246 Fishing, 300 First Aid
Not much to say about this one, considering that I just wrote a whole post about getting her to 60! She's a feral/resto hybrid since I like being able to tank dungeons and heal in raids without respeccing. I expect to have some fun next year gearing her up a bit.

Shintau - PV

  • Level 41 Shaman
  • 5 days, 2 hours played
  • 275 Skinning, 232 Leatherworking, 263 Cooking, 282 Fishing, 260 First Aid
My original Classic main, the resto shaman. Being part of a guild now, she might actually have a future, but levelling as resto is very meh when you're mostly playing solo and there are no dungeon pugs to speak of. Still, I continue to make progress in baby steps - levelling her leatherworking in particular has been fun. And at least she reached 40 and got a mount (which was graciously financed by my hunter).

Shinny - PV

  • Level 36 Mage
  • 3 days, 1 hour played
  • 254 Tailoring, 121 Enchanting, 235 Cooking, 172 Fishing, 255 First Aid
My troll mage is back to having the same job she had in 2019: disenchanting stuff and making bags. I level her a bit every now and then when it feels like her bags are too full and I really need to make some sort of progress. Sometimes I wonder whether it would be good to get her to max level solely because there are very few mages in the guild for some reason - it's not unusual to have a 40-man raid with only a single one.

Gemba - Mirage Raceway

  • Level 19 Warlock
  • 16 hours played
  • 65 Herbalism, 94 Skinning, 2 Cooking, 34 Fishing, 98 First Aid
This is the orc warlock I made to store gems and other valuables - it's in the name! However, I've also levelled her a bit just for fun. I'm actually kind of excited to do the incubus quest line soon, one of the few pieces of content in era to completely deviate from #nochanges.

Fooba - MR

  • Level 16 Warrior
  • 14 hours played
  • 84 Mining, 75 Skinning, 20 Cooking, 1 Fishing, 81 First Aid
My bank alt for food and consumables - again, it's in the name! Also done a bit of levelling but not much.

Tir - Nethergarde Keep

  • Level 9 Rogue
  • 3 hours played
  • 30 Herbalism, 25 Skinning, no secondary professions yet
So I moved/renamed my Alliance characters before Blizzard had finished purging the old clones, which meant that Tir had to become Tirr and Fali became Faly - but then they actually did free up the old names eventually and I had this sudden anxiety about someone else getting "my" name. So I created new characters with names like Tir and Shintar just to hold on to the names. This is the only one I've levelled a bit, because I thought that having a rogue on Horde side as well would be neat.


Aside from the little night elf rogue I created to re-familiarise myself with era, my Alliance characters have seen very little play, but I'm still glad that they're there, so I'll at least list them all this one time to note down where they're at. Who knows what the future will bring?

Tirrona - MR 

  • Level 34 Rogue
  • 2 days, 21 hours played
  • 208 Herbalism, 154 Mining, 175 Cooking, 197 Fishing, 144 First Aid

My night elf rogue turned into a rarely-played side project once I moved to Horde side, but I still love her for being the character that helped me get back into era. Starting over really helped with familiarising myself with the culture and environment of era from the ground up instead of (unsuccessfully) trying to jump straight in with a cloned character at max level.

She's also in a super-casual guild led by an older guy who actually used to play on Hydraxian Waterlords too. I didn't really know him there, but just having that little tie to my past still makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Tirr - NK

  • Level 60 Hunter
  • 36 days, 6 hours played
  • 300 Skinning, 300 (Dragonscale) Leatherworking, 300 Cooking, 300 Fishing, 300 First Aid
I actually joined a guild called <The Old Raiders> on Tirr (my old Classic main), when I still had this idea that I could maybe casually join for the occasional Naxx run or something, but while guilds are clearing Naxx on era, it's not an easy thing to do and understandably they don't want to take any old random who might jeopardise their chances of success. So I thought about how I'd first have to attend x number of other raids to build up a reputation, on top of mainly playing on Horde side and doing other things, and... I just gave up because it sounded like too much effort. I just log into her every now and then to check her mail (I got some arrows crafted "just in case" which I keep sending back and forth between Tirr and Sarelle because I never end up using them) and to use her salt shaker.

Sarelle - NK

  • Level 60 Paladin
  • 20 days, 13 hours played
  • 300 Mining, 300 Weaponsmithing, 300 Cooking, 284 Fishing, 300 First Aid
As my other Naxx-raiding character, Sarelle was subject to similar considerations as Tirr, especially since she had several T3 pieces in her bank that she never got to trade in back in the day due to a perpetual shortage of plate scraps. However, ultimately she's in the same boat as Tirr. I healed a ZG on her and went and won the fishing contest, but that's about it.

Jehna - NK

  • Level 60 Mage
  • 7 days, 13 hours played
  • 295 Tailoring, 250 Enchanting, 281 Cooking, 122 Fishing, 300 First Aid
My mage was that character that hit level 60 just before the expansion pre-patch who never really did anything at max level, and she's still that. About the only thing I did on era was buy her an epic mount, since I realised I had enough gold between my other characters to afford it. Oh, and one time I went and randomly farmed satyrs in Felwood for an hour.

Faly - NK

  • Level 57 Druid
  • 8 days, 21 hours played
  • 300 Herbalism, 300 Alchemy, 292 Cooking, 225 Fishing, 300 First Aid
My night elf druid became one of my favourite alts in Classic BC, but on era she's not even 60. Sadness. I did a few quests and a bit of flower-picking in the Plaguelands at some point, but not enough to make her level.

Shintar - PV

  • Level 30 Priest
  • 1 day, 17 hours played
  • 121 Mining, 141 Engineering, 146 Cooking, 114 Fishing, 142 First Aid
I cloned this one but basically did nothing with her. The memory of how much fun I was having playing priest in Classic BC just before everything fell apart still lingers.

Razorr - PV

  • Level 30 Warrior
  • 1 day, 20 hours played
  • 130 Mining, 178 Skinning, 150 Cooking, 61 Fishing, 150 First Aid
I did do a bit of questing on this one, and played the tank in a three-person Stockades run. Her biggest "achievement" however was being handed 500 gold by a random level 60 in Stormwind who said that he didn't really need it because he wasn't playing anyway. 😅

Tirutak - PV

  • Level 20 Warlock
  • 23 hours played
  • 132 Herbalism, 150 Skinning, 32 Cooking, 27 Fishing, 78 First Aid

This was my little summon alt back in Classic, and also a bit of a silly RP idea as I levelled her purely by farming mobs in the Barrens. I originally left her behind on Hydraxian Waterlords "just in case" anything ever happened over there but eventually decided to just move her as well, because what's the point of a summon alt who's got nobody to summon?

As for what'll happen next year? I do think we'll get a full year of Classic Wrath of the Lich King, but after that: who knows? Either way this hopefully shouldn't affect me too much as I hope that Classic era can continue to just chug along in peace. It would be nice if for once, I won't find myself in a situation a year later where everything's changed completely yet again.


Did the Cloning Service Harm Classic Era?

A few weeks ago there was a bit of a kerfuffle on the Classic era Discord during which a lot of people ended up airing various grievances they had with Blizzard's handling of Classic era. One subject that came up multiple times - very much to my surprise - was the cloning service. As far as I could tell, people had two main complaints about it:

  1. That it cost money to begin with
  2. That it was eventually shut down and all the inactive/unclaimed clones were deleted

Specifically, people seemed to think that those two things put together had a massive impact on the size of era's population, as in: it would be much more active if everyone who ever played the original Classic could return to clones of their previously created characters at any time, for free.

I was honestly pretty surprised by this because I always thought that the cloning service was a pretty decent compromise, and based on my personal experience, I don't think that unlimited, free cloning would have made a significant difference to era's population at all.

To address the second point first: I just don't think that money has been the primary obstacle to Classic players returning to era. Playing any incarnation of Classic requires a subscription to begin with, so Blizzard already has these people's credit card info and they have enough disposable income to afford it. Sure, there will always be that edge case that can just about afford the sub while any extra expenses would be too much, but most people aren't going to be like that. In fact, I think the whole debacle with Classic's server populations - which was largely brought on by paid transfers - showed that people are quite happy to give Blizzard extra money for any perceived advantage.

I also know people who paid to clone their characters to era and then never even played them. In fact, of all my old guildies who I know cloned characters, I'm the only one who actually ended up playing on era. Money was never the problem; time and investment was. MMOs are quite time-consuming as it is, and playing several of them at the same time requires a pretty large investment. It was always clear that the majority of players were going to choose to move forward into TBC, and the idea that more of those players would have also played era on the side if only they didn't have to pay for their clones just seems totally unrealistic to me.

I say this because I was one of the few who wanted to be that person, who paid full price for two clones early on and thought she'd check in on them every now and then even while focusing on Burning Crusade Classic. However, the truth is: it wasn't really feasible. BC (and other games) were already eating so much of my free time, there was precious little left to even consider spending on era, and whenever I did log in, I didn't know what to do with myself. So much of Classic's original appeal was about community, and if you cloned a kitted out level 60 like I did but none of your friends had any interest in playing on era, it wasn't as if you could just randomly log in on a Saturday afternoon and jump into a Naxx pug. With the "mainstream" moving on, Classic era had to build its own community, and getting to know that takes time. Unlimited, free cloning would've just increased the number of people randomly logging in to stand around in Stormwind or Orgrimmar for ten minutes while wondering what to do, but I don't think it would've done much for era's true activity levels.

Now, I'll admit that even that little bit of extra activity still wouldn't have been a bad thing, and in a world with unlimited resources - yeah, sure why not. However, it's worth noting that when Blizzard was first testing the waters for how to handle the transition into Classic Burning Crusade, cloning wasn't even on the table as an option; they were thinking about a straight-up split that forced you to choose one over the other or else start over from zero on a brand-new server. I said back then that in my ideal world, they'd just clone the entire server, though I'm not surprised that didn't turn out to be feasible. When they announced the paid clones, I was just glad that they'd listened enough to at least make character copy an option.

Honestly, knowing what I know now, I think the only reason we got even that much was that Blizzard overestimated how many people would choose to use this feature. I mean, I obviously don't have any numbers, but considering that millions of people signed up for Classic in 2019 and looking at the size of the Classic era community now - it's gotta be a minute number. Even if we consider people like my old guildies who bought clones and never played them, I reckon the service saw minimal use. Even though the creation of Classic era was announced right there on our character selection screens, I think that the vast, vast majority of players didn't give a fig about it.

So again, I'm not at all shocked that Blizzard decided to shut the whole thing down and clear out their database. Yes, I get that this sucks if you played Classic two years ago, never paid any attention to era or any of the news around it and suddenly realise now that you would have liked to clone - but you've got to admit, that's at least partially on you. And yes, in an ideal world, Blizzard would have preserved all those millions of inactive clones somewhere just in case (though I would've still liked them to free up all those inactive character names) but again, if you think about the effort involved just to appease a teeny tiny number of players, I can't blame them for not doing that.

Basically, I'm not saying that there aren't things about Classic era that Blizzard could've handled better... but in terms of the cloning service, I think they did a pretty decent job when you consider player interest and resources, and I think it's quite alright that the feature is gone now. For Classic era to live and successfully continue to develop into its own thing, it needs people to create and level new characters in the here and now - not to forever sit on a pile of abandoned clones in hopes that people will maybe come back to play them one day.


Classic Era Milestones

The other night I hit level 60 for the first time on Classic era. It's not as exciting as it sounds, considering that I already had four 60s from transfers/clones, and this one didn't start era at level one either, but still... the character in question is my tauren druid, who was level 42 when I made the decision to activate her on era, so she "only" had 18 levels left to go, but those did take me quite a while. Considering that I both raid and still want to limit my time spent in Classic to a casual amount of hours, there just aren't that many opportunities to spend time on levelling alts. I'd usually do a bit of questing on an evening here or there, but then I'd go for pretty long periods of time without any progress whatsoever.

What has levelling on Classic era been like compared to OG Classic? Well, in terms of speed it seems to be about the same, as my druid's /played was a bit over nine days, which is about on par with other characters I levelled in Classic. It did feel a lot more... quiet though. The higher-level-but-not-quite-endgame zones are always less populated than the lower-level ones, and with era's lower population that was even more pronounced.

This had both pros and cons: As someone who enjoys gathering, I loved that there were herbs everywhere, and it wasn't unusual that all the yellow dots distracted me from actual questing for a while. Selling some of those spoils on the auction house was a good money-maker too. Competition for quest mobs was never an issue, and I ran into many rares.

The downside of course is that it's much harder to find people to do group quests with, and it's easy for your quest log to become quite cluttered with them. The ones that were important to me I usually managed to get done eventually by asking guildies for help after a while.

Dungeons are in a similar place and I didn't get to run as many of them as I would have liked, though I did heal Zul'Farrak once and tanked both a Sunken Temple and a BRD run. People are running dungeons, at max level too, it's just that on an individual level, the lower population kind of requires the stars to align in just the right way, especially if you have limited time to play. It's not unusual to ask whether anyone's interested in a dungeon in guild or LFG and get no response, or to encounter the even more frustrating opposite: meaning that you finally see a group setting out for a dungeon you need, but you yourself can't join at that particular moment because you need to log off in ten minutes. Basically as I've said before, there's nothing you can't get done in Classic era, but it often requires patience.

I will note that despite the slowness and frequent solitude, I didn't find the fifties to be a drag or struggle at all. I remember mentioning in the past that I used to not be a fan of this level range as I don't particularly love many of the vanilla endgame zones, and when the solo quests start to dry up, everything feels increasingly grindy in general. However, I've also noted in the past that if you do have an interest in grouping and your eye on raiding eventually, it goes a lot easier as there are things like attunements to work towards that provide you with alternative goals to simply gaining XP. For example my guildies let me tag along to an UBRS at level 55 which allowed me to get my BWL attunement done early, and nobody minded me signing up to heal AQ20 at level 58/59 either.

There was a particularly sweet bit of synchronicity to my druid's first raid at level 60 as well. When I joined the Warriors of Sunlight back in July, Garr dropped a Thunderfury binding in one of my first MC runs and I remember that being one of the first really exciting moments I experienced with the guild. Well, this week I decided to switch to my druid for our weekly binding run, and Geddon's binding dropped... meaning that the guy who got the Garr binding back in July could finally complete his Thunderfury.

I've written in the past about how the creation of a Thunderfury is always a special occasion: how it made me feel connected to my first Classic guild even when I didn't really fit in otherwise, and how similar yet different it was when the Forks serendipitously managed to finally get a Thunderfury just in time for the release of Naxx. In the same vein, it made me feel all warm and fuzzy to help with and bear witness to Tefflar of WoS getting his Thunderfury - it's not the guild's first one and it won't be the last, but it was my first with them and felt like a nice way of putting a capstone on my first few months spent with the guild and in Classic era in general.


A Little MC Adventure

Raid nights with the Warriors of Sunlight are often full of surprises. The only fixed destination is Naxx on Sundays, which I usually can't make, so you never quite know what's going to be on the menu on the other two main raid days. I guess in an ideal world we'd be able to knock out MC, BWL and AQ40 every week, but we don't live in an ideal world, and neither sign-ups nor group comp are always what we'd like them to be, so we do whatever seems feasible at the time.

This is why we found ourselves entering Molten Core with just Ragnaros left alive at the start of last week's Tuesday raid. The idea was to knock him out quickly and then move on to AQ40 for the remainder of the evening. However, as soon as people started stepping into the instance, there were disturbed mutterings about all the trash being alive again. I tried to remember whether I'd previously had any first-hand experience with this but couldn't recall for sure. Was this even abnormal? Either way I wasn't really worried, as I had been there for the rest of the MC run the previous Thursday and had seen all the other bosses die.

While we were carving our way through the same bunch of giants, elementals and so on for the second time, there was some amused commentary about the fact that someone from the PvP cluster had decided to advertise for their Naxx speed-running guild in our LFG chat. I mean, good for them, but considering that nobody on Horde side on our cluster is even clearing Naxx right now, it gave off vibes of the advertiser not really knowing who they were talking to.

We made it to Ragnaros' Lair and... it was empty. As in, Majordomo Executus, the NPC that's required to summon him, wasn't there. This immediately gave rise to confused speculation.

"Oh no, I hope we didn't miss our chance to summon him this week. There was this rumour that you only had a limited-time window to do so after killing Majordomo..."

"Did we forget to douse one of the runes?"

"No, we did douse all the runes, and we did fight Majordomo..." [The boss doesn't even spawn until all the other boss's fiery runes have been extinguished.]

A druid and a rogue volunteered to sneak to where Majordomo's boss fight took place, in case we had just forgotten to talk to him and he was still hanging out there. This seemed to be working okay until...

"I'll just distract that one..."

"You pulled!"

And then they were both dead. The ranks were surveyed for new stealthers to send to their potential doom and a rogue played by an officer was picked next. However, even as he was happily ambling along and assuring us that he was going to be fine, more discussions ensued about how it was clearly impossible to stealth the whole thing and that we needed to help him! I wasn't really fully taking this in since I was just idling near the raid leader's holy priest, but over time a trail of people started to follow in our rogue's steps... so it wasn't until I looked up at my raid frames and saw a lot of people rapidly losing health and dying that I really noticed what was going on. Same for the raid leader, incidentally:

"I said to wait! Why did you all follow him?"

"Well, the tanks were going and my job as a healer is to go where the tanks go and heal them..."

While people recovered from the partial wipe I had to chuckle to myself thinking of that Naxx speed-running advert again, trying to recruit people who were dying in MC. Around this time the rogue made it to Majordomo and confirmed that he was indeed there... however, he couldn't just talk to the big lizard as apparently the boss had used the four-day break between raids to revive all his minions from the boss encounter as well.

So in the end, we did all have to fight our way to Majordomo together, kill his cronies again, and then send him to Rag's Lair. Some people were hopeful that he'd drop loot again at least, but his loot chest was gone of course.

Raggy himself was fast and smooth after that, but instead of the "quick kill" we'd hoped for at the beginning of the night, it took three quarters of an hour to get to that point. Still, I can't claim that I minded, because the whole situation had just been too funny. I'm still not entirely sure whether it was a bug or something, but I found this forum thread from September 2019 in which someone else also expressed confusion after running into this situation, and several people claimed that you only have an hour after defeating Majordomo to summon Ragnaros or else he's known to reset and respawn his adds. The more you know! Who says you can't run into surprises and have novel adventures in an old game?


Dragonflight Is a Vibe

So Dragonflight launched a week ago now, though it barely took two days for the first "I'm 70 now and here's what I think" posts to show up on my timeline. While I was excited to dive into it as well, the husband and I were slowed down by the fact that we took turns suffering from a horrible cold last week that left us too tired and ill to even spend much time playing video games on some days, but we did get there in the end.

While the husband decided that evoker wasn't really for him and went back to maining his demon hunter, I opted to venture forth into the dragon isles on my new dracthyr first. I still like my monk too, but it just seemed thematically appropriate to take a dragon to the Dragon Isles (and I quickly came across some dracthyr-only side quests too). Plus I'm not gonna lie: the thought of being able to start a new expansion with completely empty bags was very appealing as well.

If I tell you that I've been having a pretty good time so far that won't really say much, considering that I also thought Shadowlands was okay from a casual point of view, despite of the many ways in which people seemed to end up hating it in the end. However, I will say this: Dragonflight is definitely different. There was a nice quote in a recent Taliesin & Evitel video that I sadly can't find right now but which went something like: "Dragonflight made me feel more nostalgic than Classic Wrath of the Lich King". Now, Taliesin is always excited about new WoW content, no matter what, but that particular sentiment struck me as interesting and stuck with me.

I thought of it again when I read about Kaylriene's launch day woes with the boat (something that we were spared, coming into the whole thing several days later) and it hit me that Dragonflight is the first expansion since Wrath of the Lich King where going to the new zones does not require you to do a painfully on-rails introductory quest chain or scenario; you can literally just take the boat and be there. Sure, on the Isles themselves, there's still a main storyline to follow and all that, but you don't feel quite as boxed in from the get-go.

The mood set by the quests and NPCs also couldn't be more different from the start of Shadowlands with its world-ending threat coming seemingly out of nowhere and requiring you to go to literal hell. Sure, there are threats to deal with on the Dragon Isles too - we know about the Primalists from the pre-expansion event for one thing - but they feel much more "manageable" for lack of a better word. To go back to the nostalgia comment, it reminded me how Elwynn Forest has gnolls and Defias, but you also help out a couple in love and feed a naughty kid a pork pie. The general vibe upon landing in the Dragon Isles is one of curiosity and optimism, and many of the side quests are downright wholesome. At one point I was joking to the husband that I was fine with leaving the dragons under attack a bit longer (as part of the main storyline) because we had frogs to save.

The complete lack of an Alliance vs. Horde conflict also plays into that. In fact, I squealed with delight when I met Captain Garrick and her son from Exile's Reach in the starter camp, and she gives you a short quest to introduce yourself to her Horde equivalent and there's some dialogue about how they're gonna have a meal together some time.

You get the feeling that Blizzard really wanted to use this expansion to slaughter a bunch of cows that had become (unnecessarily) sacred over the years. The Alliance and Horde always need to be at war? Nope, let's just not bother this time. No flying until you've "worked" for it? Nope, you gain dragon riding a few mini-hubs in and can then use it freely across the whole Isles. There must never be an auction house in a new hub city, to make sure that people are forced to go back to the old world and keep it alive? Nope, they just put an auction house in Valdrakken without much fanfare.

It feels refreshing and nostalgic at the same time, in the sense that it's reminiscent of a time when the devs used to be more daring and didn't seem to have quite so many self-imposed rules about how they can never do X or Y because of some past complaint that they never want to hear again - it's just been such a long time since that was the case that it almost feels like an entirely new concept.

I can't speak for what the endgame will be like of course... though the fact that it's been simplified to focus on gear and rep again for the first time in many years actually encourages me to at least give it a try. At least I "get" those things as opposed to conduits or whatever. I also like the renewed focus on professions, because even though I haven't yet really figured out how it all works and whether it's any good, as someone who enjoys both gathering and crafting, it's just been nice to see Blizzard give those systems some love again.


Why It's Rude to Suck at Warcraft

Dan Olson's Folding Ideas channel has become one of my favourite destinations for watching long-form philosophical videos about random subjects, from flat-earthers to online grifts involving audiobooks. He also plays WoW though, and today I found a new video of his in my recommendations that I knew I'd love: Why It's Rude to Suck at Warcraft.

To be honest, the title alone was kind of enlightening in a way, because as much as I've chafed against some of the modern WoW community's social norms, it had never crossed my mind that their annoyance at people not following every meta is rooted in them perceiving it as "rude" when you don't play the way they expect you to. I mean, the opposite seems obvious, someone saying "you suck" is rude no matter the context. But being offended by others not following certain norms - even if the result has no practical effect on you whatsoever - is something I've always considered strange and off-putting.

Anyway, I won't talk too much about the content of the video itself; just watch it yourself. It approaches the topic from several interesting angles, such as how it's actually quite odd that WoW has become so competitive, considering that it's not really designed for it and allows addons that in most other competitive games would be considered "cheating".

The thing that really hit home for me personally though was when at 2:37 he starts showing screenshots of comments (presumably in response to a previous video) that criticise him clicking on his abilities instead of keybinding them, because this has been a personal bugbear of mine for literal years.

You see, I'm well aware that keybinding your abilities is more "optimal" in the sense that it increases your reaction time and actions per minute. However, it's also objectively more demanding in that it requires setup and memorisation, as opposed to just being able to click whatever button is in front of you. Naturally, the latter is much more appealing to new and casual players, and that's fine. I'm not in an arena or mythic progression team. I play WoW Classic, where even the hardest PvE content only really requires me to press two or three buttons in combat while occasionally taking a few steps to the left or right. Speed and split-second reactions are not really required.

And yet, ever since I started uploading the occasional WoW Classic video to YouTube, I started getting comments that had nothing to do with the actual content of the videos but would instead focus on my UI and mouse cursor, condemning me for clicking instead of keybinding. Even if the video is me on a level fourteen warlock, killing four zhevras. How dare I do that non-optimally?!

Even the Forks weren't immune to this, which was so weird. Here was a guild that was super casual, never talked about dps and happily carried multiple ret paladins through Naxx that (due to the limitations of their class) struggled to out-dps the tanks. Yet I'd post a boss kill video on the guild Discord and people would ask me whether I'd heard of our lord and saviour, keybindings, as if this must be an entirely new concept to me.

No matter how many times I told them that I simply didn't care to keybind, no matter that I was one of our better damage dealers regardless, people would bring it up again and again with an almost religious zeal. It almost makes you feel gaslit after a while, when you know it doesn't matter to the way you play, and yet people keep telling you that it does because even just knowing that someone is questing in the Barrens on a low-level alt without keybindings is somehow strange and offensive to them. It's utterly bizarre.

Dan doesn't come to any real conclusion in his video, merely commenting that all of this has been a natural evolution of things and that trying to fight it (e.g. by removing addons) has its own pitfalls, which is true. However, I would argue that game developers do have an interest in fighting back against the most extreme manifestations of this sort of maths-based elitism. Players who are in favour of it will often argue that everyone's allowed to self-select, and if you don't want to play with people who are too demanding, you can simply create your own group/guild or whatever. Never mind that certain types of gaming prescriptivists will actively hound you day and night with their attempts to make you play their way as mentioned above.

However, the more important thing to keep in mind is that if the whole point is to play casually, to not go beyond a certain kind of effort to appease other players, then saying you should simply work harder to isolate yourself from the rest of the community is missing the point. If the only solution to being "allowed" to continue to play casually (in whatever way) is to work harder on some other aspect of the game, it's much easier to just quit and do something else. If a lot of people are not great at WoW and this mere fact is considered rude and "offensive" by a very vocal subset of players, then a lot of people are going to find some other game to play (even if the gameplay itself would be perfectly accessible to them). Having a community that's constantly raising the bar for what's considered an acceptable minimum and then antagonises its fellow players about this does not make for a healthy game in the long run.


More on Dracthyr and the Pre-Patch Event

I'm still playing Classic era primarily, however things are just kind of quietly chugging along there at the moment, so the new and (partially) time-limited stuff happening in retail is more interesting to talk about for now.

I've had opportunity to practice playing my evoker some more, and it's turned out to be pretty fun. I finally seem to be getting the hang of soaring, and it's fun to ride a flying mount up to the nearest elevation and then shoot like an arrow across multiple zones.

I also ended up healing the new Uldaman dungeon twice - both times we four-manned it with my husband and two friends. The first time around we went in without a tank as well, which was a bit chaotic and resulted in quite a few deaths, though we did successfully complete the instance anyway. It was certainly good healing practice! The second time around my husband played his demon hunter so that we would have a proper tank, and that just made it super easy.

The only times I really struggled with healing were when there was AoE damage going around and the group was spread all over the room, but I guess that situation is awkward for any healer. In general though I've been enjoying figuring out how to heal as an evoker, with lots of dashing about and trying to aim the different shapes of AoE heal correctly. It's a bit more "action-y" than I'd usually like and actually reminds me of some videos I saw of Wildstar back in the day - I could see that being quite stressful in harder content, but in the context of an easy dungeon it was certainly fun.

I'm also liking my dracthyr's look more over time - I particularly like how her visage form turned out, and dracthyr get this cool ability called "Chosen Idenity" which when activated, automatically puts you into your visage form whenever you're not in combat. Certainly feels a lot less weird to be riding a dragon mount as a humanoid than as a dragon person for example! They really should add that feature for worgen too - would make it a lot less awkward to shapeshift into humanoid form more often that way.

We've also been checking out the pre-patch Primalist invasion event. In the run-up to the pre-patch I'd heard people express hope that these would feel similar to the Legion invasions that preceded the Legion expansion, and which seemed to be quite popular at the time. I wasn't playing retail back then, but I do remember people talking about that event quite fondly. It always sounded like those invasions were quite ubiquitous too, though I just checked and in this post by Bhagpuss from back then he clarified that the Legion invasions also only happened in six zones - still, that's three more than the current event.

My own closest point of comparison are the elemental invasions that preceded Cataclysm, which I also remember with some fondness. The current invasions are okay, but nothing to write home about in my opinion. At first there's something fun to the zerg, but the longer it goes on, the more boring it gets. You basically just spam AoE onto endlessly respawning opponents until you get bored; there's no real ebb and flow to things other than the occasional boss event. Plus I guess it doesn't help that the three zones chosen for invasion are the Badlands, Northern Barrens and Un'goro. I mean, who gives a crap about the Badlands? Let the Primalists have them. Rewards aside, I can't say that I feel very inspired to defend the place, not like I was when elementals invaded the capitals pre-Cataclysm. I'll just keep going there a few more times to earn a few more of the rewards before the event goes away I guess.


D(ragon) Day

So, the release of dracthyr evokers in the run-up to Dragonflight has been... interesting. I was honestly pretty hyped about it. It's been a long time since I was part of this kind of event in retail WoW, and I had pretty fond memories of the community buzz in the days immediately after the Shattering for example. Things didn't entirely turn out the way I'd hoped though.

First there was the confusion about when exactly the unlock would happen. Blizzard had been advertising the 15th for ages, and I already had the day off work for unrelated reasons, so it didn't even occur to me that this might not be one of those world-wide launches - as it turned out, there were no dragons yet for EU players on the 15th, and of course the next day was an office day for me, which left me with minimal time to spend on anything other than commuting and work.

Still, I managed to at least log into the game early in the morning to create my evoker. I had actually done some preparation for this, as I found a tool on Wowhead that simulated the dracthyr character creator. I know that I can get pretty caught up in character customisation, and with the dracthyr having more customisation options than any previous race, I wanted to familiarise myself with all the different options in advance. I was just confused because when I tried to use the option to save my creation, Wowhead kept telling me that my dragon needed more clothes, which made me wonder whether it was mandatory to equip a minimum number of the cosmetic armour pieces that are available for the class (it was not). In the end I just took a reference screenshot manually.

Anyway, thanks to this I had a picture to speed up my decision-making on Wednesday morning, though since I hadn't yet looked at the visage form options at all, the process still took me more than twenty minutes. Still, I managed to at least finish my character before having to dash off to work. Thus, "Shindragosa" was born.

The husband and I then sat down to play together late in the evening, but again things were not off to a good start as I was greeted by the error message "cinematic not available" upon logging in, so I had to immediately set off to YouTube on my second monitor to figure out what the hell my character was supposed to have seen before even starting. While I was doing that, the husband was struggling with a different dilemma - for him the cinematic had played - at least partially - but then he got stuck in the room you spawn in and found himself unable to get out. I googled that issue as well, and the common advice seemed to be to "restart your game five or six times". This did work eventually, but basically, just getting both of our characters out of the very first room took us something like ten to fifteen minutes.

After that, things continued somewhat more smoothly, though the area felt very quiet. I'm guessing this was done intentionally via phasing, as we did see more players once we got out of the first building, but if there had been a big rush earlier in the day, we had clearly missed it.

The Forbidden Reaches were fun enough as a starter zone - mostly WoW standard questing fare interspersed with a few (working) cut scenes, but our real focus was on our soar ability and using it to fly around a bit whenever it was off cooldown. There's a quest at the very start where you can practice soaring with no cooldown and I would have liked to spend some more time on that, but the husband just wanted to move on so I did too, without ever really getting the hang of it. The two times or so when I got it to work properly after that it felt great, however most of the time I just lost momentum way too quickly and dropped like a rock. Needs more practice.

Towards the end of the area quest line there was another "cut scene not available" failure, this time affecting both of us, and we were very confused as a battle we'd been fighting just phased around us and things had clearly gone to shit in some way but we didn't know how or why. Again I looked it up on YouTube and that one was definitely a very important cut scene!

Eventually we made it to Stormwind and did the intro there (I thought Wrathion's introduction was laugh-out-loud funny, not gonna lie), but we felt it was too late to look at the elemental invasion event or do the dungeon quest we'd been given. Guess that one's for another day.

In terms of play style I don't know yet whether evoker will be for me or not. The pacing of skills in the starting zone felt very good, but then you come out of there and the game's like: "Here, have fifty talent points or so and another ten abilites to place on your action bars! Hope you enjoy reading tooltips!" and I really can't judge that without actually trying some of those new skills properly first.


Some #WarcraftStories

Okay, so technically the hashtag is #WarcraftStory, in the singular, but that's an unimportant detail.

This morning I checked my Twitter timeline to see people responding to the official Warcraft account with Tweets in the format of:

Character name
Server name

Because apparently Blizzard put some sort of bot in that would respond to your Tweet with an image of your character and two paragraphs of text characterising you in some way based on selected stats from your Armoury page. Rohan wrote a little post about it as well.

This looked fun and I immediately had to try it for myself, inputting my current monk main, which resulted in this:

I'm not a pet collector so I didn't think my number of pets owned would be remarkable in any way, but maybe it is? I also actively avoid killing critters generally, so I was a bit surprised to see that get called out. Damn AoEs I guess. (I also wonder if mawrats count as critters.)

Then I decided to do my husband's demon hunter:

Note that neither of us raided in Mists of Pandaria, so I looked at that and went, "You been farming those MoP raids, huh?" to which he responded with an amusingly embarrassed look.

Then I put in a friend who's kind of hapless when it comes to WoW and whom we just drag around a lot:

We all had a good laugh at him being labelled as a "dungeon specialist" when he's barely done any (though 52 is more than I would have expected). The only reason he's got four Vault of the Wardens runs is some bad RNG when we took him timewalking one week. Also, you can tell that neither my husband nor said friend care about transmog. It always offends my eyes a little.

Next I decided to put in my old main from original Burning Crusade to Cata, wondering whether she would throw up some raid stats. But no, this one focused on PvP and emotes:

I kept trying more alts, but sadly after that the bot's creativity seemed to run out, as they were all more or less repeats of the pet/critter combo. Those 307 pets must be really extraordinary... or maybe all my alts are just considered very boring, and since the pet counter is account-wide, it overrides everything else.

Looking at some of the other images posted on Twitter, the bot did seem to favour stats for the harder Shadowlands content somewhat, using those to go into more detail when available. When I told my husband about that, he asked that I do some of his alts, since he didn't have impressive numbers of mounts or pets and expected more character-specific results. However, what we really got out of the exercise was that he can't remember the names of his own alts.

"Do my warrior! It's Jogern, J-O-G-E-R-N!"

"I don't know what that is, but it's not a warrior. Is it a priest?"
"Oh, it's my warlock!"
"And he's a supporter of public transportation, apparently."

Ultimately his alts weren't much more interesting than mine though, as they were all labelled as "dungeon specialists". Still, it was a fun little exercise, and I had a few more friends ask me to "do the thing" with their characters too. This is the kind of silly fun that works really well on social media. I was reminded of how we used to call this sort of stuff "memes" back in the aughts, before the word took on the meaning it has today. ("I just did this WoW story meme and got this result! Let's see yours!")


The End of Season of Mastery

I only really talked about Season of Mastery once on this blog, which was when it had just been announced. I was still focused on Classic Burning Crusade back then, but even if I hadn't been, nothing about SoM really sounded appealing to me. I like the pace of levelling in Vanilla, why would I want permanent double XP? I like that the large raids aren't that difficult and allow for a fairly laid-back and relaxed atmosphere, why would I want harder raids? I like to take my time playing casually, why would I want to play on a server that will rush through all the content even faster than Classic did? I enjoy the community aspect of Vanilla/Classic, why would I want to play on a temporary server that's destined to be shut down after only a year and whose community will be dispersed? And so on and so forth.

That said, with my move to Classic era, SoM has somewhat come back into focus for me, not because I suddenly wanted to play it, but because SoM is also based on vanilla Classic (if with modifications) and there's overlap between the two player bases. Specifically, with SoM rapidly approaching its natural end point, some of the people playing there have expressed interest in transferring their characters to era.

Interactions between the two groups haven't been without friction, mind you - as one of the moderators on the Classic era Discord put it very aptly: "They might be that one cousin you never quite liked and your preferences might differ, but they’re part of the family." While not all era players love the exact same things about it that I do, the divide between era loyalists and those coming from SoM has certainly been noticeable, with many SoM players constantly balking against what they perceive as the "staleness" of era and already yearning for the next "fresh" server - whatever it may end up being. As a result, era players can feel torn between wanting to welcome the influx of fresh blood and being annoyed with the newcomers seemingly not appreciating era's value proposition.

At the same time, I've been finding some of the things that SoM players have been talking about quite interesting. Since I didn't really follow what was going on on those servers, I've been learning a lot. Did you know that in SoM, Baron Geddon in Molten Core dropped not one but three bombs at a time, and also left fire puddles behind on the floor that required him to be kited? Or that in AQ40, C'thun tentacles could show up on all the bosses? It certainly sounded interesting in some ways - just not really like something I'd personally want to invest time in.

WillE posted a good video summarising Season of Mastery the other week as well, and in it, he referred to an interview with Classic producer Aggrend, in which he supposedly called SoM a success. I wanted to watch the whole thing for some more context, and SoM actually doesn't come up until very close to the end, starting at around 26:36, when Aggrend goes off on a tangent in response to a question about splitting the player base. He says that SoM has been "near and dear to [their] hearts", that it was great for what it was and that they learned a lot about what does and doesn't work for a seasonal server like that. It didn't sound like they had any immediate plans to launch another project like it, but like they were keen on doing it again, assuming there was enough demand for it.

And that's the question really, isn't it? What does Blizzard consider enough demand? They didn't think there was enough for permanent BC servers. Presumably their goal is to score extra subscriptions that they wouldn't otherwise get from other versions of Classic, but how many is enough to fund a special rule set? There was a decent amount of buzz around SoM when it launched, but even with that in mind I'm a bit doubtful whether many of those players wouldn't have subscribed and played another version of the game if SoM hadn't existed.

According to a guildie who played on SoM, the population there dropped off very quickly, to the point that "soft consolidations" aka free server transfers to a single server were already happening around the time BWL was released. And I guess in a way that's expected with a seasonal server like that, but again, how quickly is too quickly?

I know this whole temporary server thing was Holly Longdale's big trick while running Everquest and apparently worked well for them there, but I can't help but feel like the effect it has on WoW is that it's just cheapening the brand. I know Blizzard has fallen from grace in recent years, but in many ways WoW has still been that MMO that's always there and provides a solid experience with (relatively) few bugs, and where you can always come back and pick things up again where you left off. Littering it with temporary servers that die off after a couple of months and whose characters get deleted if you don't transfer them off in time kind of seems to go against that. Then again, that might just be me.

But yes, if you did play on SoM, consider this your reminder to take a free character transfer off to era or WotLK Classic if you care about your characters at all. Assuming the feature is up and working when you read this, because as it turns out, transferring characters between different "versions" of the game is a process the Blizzard devs have yet to fully master, which was evidenced by the transfers off SoM originally going down again almost as soon as they had launched. From reports that I heard, characters that were transferred during this period retained part of their SoM status even on era and could for example cause items to drop in raids that could only be looted by them.

For now transfers seem to be back up again though, and while no closing date for the SoM servers has been announced as of yet, I recommend getting it over with sooner rather than later to avoid any annoyance later on. I expect that a lot of forgotten SoM characters will end up in the bin and that there'll be some wailing and gnashing of teeth from their players when they return and find out, since Blizzard hasn't really been in the habit of deleting people's unplayed characters in the past.


Talent Turmoil

In retail news, this week saw the launch of the first of two pre-patches for Dragonflight, with the major features of this one being the new default UI and the new talent system. I avoided logging in for a few days because I had other things to focus on, but also because talent revamps are always kind of off-putting to me, even if I think that this particular talent redesign looks pretty good on a conceptual level. I just hate that feeling of logging in and suddenly not knowing how to play my character anymore and having to read a hundred tooltips to figure out what's going on now.

The new UI took some getting used to as well, though it wasn't too bad. The new user interface editor reminds me a bit of the one that SWTOR has had for about a decade (yes, I'm throwing shade) and was intuitive enough to fiddle around with, even if the new default layout with three action bars in the centre of the screen will take some getting used to. There are also some items that look like they can't currently be changed - for example the bag UI and its adjacent buttons are absolutely tiny now, even on my old 21" monitor.

I did eventually bite the bullet and took some time going through the talents for my monk, holy priest and feral druid at least. I like that the new talent UI makes it easy to change your choices around (and apparently also makes it easier to share builds with others) and that there are a lot more abilities that are optional. I know there'll be a best build for raiding as usual, but for me as a casual, I quite like the idea of being able to skip something like a snare or a survival cooldown if I never really use those things, and instead being able to invest extra points into a bit more hybridisation, e.g. to have more healing power on a dps or more dps on a healer. Though I do wonder how they decided on the default talent distribution for returning players - I was rather baffled when I found that my feral druid suddenly had moonkin form for example.

Either way I reckon it's going to be a slow process to get used to all the changes, especially as someone who doesn't play retail that much or that often. Sadly trying to practice my new spell setup in a live environment didn't work out very well either - I queued for an epic battleground on my holy priest and got into a Wintergrasp match which then proceeded to crash my game every two minutes (and supposedly did the same to everyone else in the battleground). Looking at the forums this is apparently a known bug. Nice to see that the old mantra of "Happy Patch Day" and having to be ready for stuff to break in very random ways still rings true even in 2022.


Roguish Charm

One thing that makes playing my little rogue so appealing is that it feels very fresh and new to me. I've never had a rogue at the level cap at any point in the game, and even the mid-levels are something I didn't reach until later expansions, by which point a lot of quests and class mechanics had already been changed.

For example, I'd kind of forgotten that Ravenholdt was a "thing" for rogues - by which I mean: if you'd asked me about it I would have been able to tell you that it's a faction that's associated with rogues somehow, but it hadn't occurred to me that I should be visiting the place or anything. It was only around level thirty that I noticed that my class trainer had gained an extra dialogue option which hands you a letter telling you to visit Ravenholdt Manor. (Apparently that had already been waiting for me for about six levels.)

It took me ages to even find the place again, because for some reason, that particular mountain path is not one I generally come across in my travels. I happily followed the instruction to pick the pockets of the locals, which resulted in me cleaning out the entirety of Durnholde Keep in one go, but after that the next step asked me to fetch lockboxes of a level for which I was still too low. Not the most exciting piece of questing, I've got to say. Nice place, though.

The other notable adventure my little rogue had in the past few weeks was a visit to the Dor'Danil barrow den. I was finishing up the last few quests I had in Ashenvale when I was sent to this network of caves that I recalled as being a very unpleasant place. In fact, it was even more unpleasant than I remembered because I'd forgotten that it's filled both with mad druids and forsaken rogues - the presence of the latter means that it's actually not so bad to visit as Horde since the rogues at least are friendly, but as Alliance it's just a very claustrophobic place sporting an extremely high density of hostile mobs.

I'm a rogue though, I thought to myself, and the quest is just to kill three guys. I can sneak in and bypass most of the annoying trash! Now, if you're thinking "I bet it wasn't that easy", you'd be right, but my plan did work in principle, and I suffered no deaths. What happened though was that - somewhat to my surprise - it ended up being an extremely immersive and satisfying experience.

I could sneak past a lot of mobs, but the tight corridors - combined with the fact that the undead rogues liked to lurk in stealth themselves sometimes - meant that I still had to do a fair amount of fighting as well, sometimes because I aggroed something by accident, sometimes because I felt I just needed to create a bit of breathing space in a certain spot by removing the mobs from it. This made me feel like a proper assassin, and it felt oddly in-character to view the narrow corridors through my night elf's eyes and imagine her unhappiness at having to kill those poor druids.

The gameplay was also really interesting, because rogues have so many tricks! On most classes, pulling unexpected extra mobs is something that I find very alarming and that often gets me into trouble, but as a rogue it was surprisingly easy to stay collected and calm, even in the confines of a densely populated cave. I just had this mental checklist of steps I could take every time something like that happened (hit evasion, drink health potion, gouge and bandage, vanish if worse comes to worst); it always felt perfectly controlled. You'd have to mess up pretty badly to find yourself in a situation where none of your cooldowns are up.

It's just been surprising to me how much enjoyment I've been getting out of this character, when rogues have always been firmly on my "not interested" list when it comes to WoW's available classes. To be fair, I think in a group context I'd still largely prefer to play almost anything else... but for these occasional solo adventures I've been undertaking, it's been working out surprisingly well.


Three Months of Classic Era

It's now been three months since I started playing on Classic era. Tirrona, the little night elf rogue I created to (re-)familiarise myself with the lay of the land, is level 31 and I'm still levelling her in small fits and starts - after all, there is no rush to achieve anything in particular.

Mostly I've been playing on Horde side though, where I serendipitously ended up in a very friendly and laid-back Horde guild. And there my progress has been pretty significant! In that first AQ40 I joined on my hunter, I was still BM spec, wearing a mix of blues with no hit rating and using vendor ammo. My damage output was near the bottom alongside the tanks, and I could barely even remember how to feed my pet.

I ended up respeccing to Marksman after a few raids because I was soon spending more time raiding than questing solo anyway, and the damage output for BM wasn't just poor but abysmal. Ever done Twin Emps as a BM hunter? You literally can't do anything but auto-shoot because Vek'nilash is immune to the magic damage from arcane shot...

Getting my hit rating sorted wasn't too hard once I actually started paying attention to it, and nowadays I can also make my own thorium-based ammo. I have a good relationship with the head mage, who knows to trade me a stack of bread for my pet at the start of each raid without me having to specifically ask for it. And with my epic bow and seven out of eight pieces of T2 (oddly enough it's the gloves that have been eluding me), my damage is solidly in the top half of the logs now unless something goes majorly wrong.

I've also been levelling my druid (who's my herbalist and alchemist) to not be completely reliant on the guild bank for consumables, and as she's currently level 55, she should soon be ready to tag along to the easier raids as well.

All in all, Classic era has been a really pleasant surprise. Even as I was looking at the smaller population as a positive thing, I was slightly concerned by how quiet things seemed during my first few days as a fresh leveller. However, there are people around, and my interactions with other players have honestly been nothing but delightful. Classic era has a very passionate community; it's just not very "in your face". You have to go out and find it.

There was also an adjustment period in terms of how things roll compared to how I experienced OG Classic. The smaller population means that everything's much slower and more deliberate. You can't always rely on finding what you need on the auction house; you may have to ask around and/or do some farming yourself. You can't always get group content done immediately because there isn't an infinite supply of people to form groups with, so you need to be patient and adjust to when others are both available and interested in doing the same thing as you. With the awkwardness of the Horde Onyxia attunement, it took about two months from me first winning the leaf in MC to me completing my epic bow, but I did get there in the end!

Ultimately everything is still achievable; you just have to appreciate that most people playing on era aren't in a rush, as they view it as more of a place to hang out than a game where they need to go through a checklist of tasks to finish and be done as soon as possible. Which, to be clear, is exactly what I wanted, but even so it took a bit of mental adjustment on my part as well. It's very easy to get frustrated when you're excited about a new drop and want to instantly take whatever the "next step" is (e.g. doing the next part of a quest chain, getting an enchant etc.) but it's simply not possible because the right items or people are not available. However, the goal posts aren't constantly moving either, so you've got time and simply have to learn to be patient. It always makes me smile when we do Garr and Geddon in MC, they don't drop a binding, and someone says "don't worry, we'll get it next week". It's partially a joke, but in a way also an expression of that sentiment. Your Thunderfury will still be cool whenever you do get it.

Oh, and finally, I've learned that playing on era servers means that the rest of the Classic community will largely ignore you and/or treat you as some weird kind of hipster. For an example of the former, look at this Wowhead article from yesterday about Season of Mastery coming to an end and opening transfers to era, which of course has the headline "Season of Mastery to Wrath Classic Transfers Now Available for NA" - yep, not even a mention of era, instead it's entirely about the additional option to transfer to Wrath that Blizzard agreed to add upon request. I've also seen e.g. reddit posts where someone specifically asked about vanilla Classic servers and would be told outright that those are dead and that everyone plays Wrath now.

The other day someone logged on in my Horde guild whose name I hadn't seen before and expressed huge surprise at seeing us in AQ40, because they too (despite of previously joining the guild?) thought that era was dead (oh yeah, get used to hearing that one repeated a lot too). Before logging off again, they asked incredulously whether we all just hated Wrath, which raised some eyebrows. Basically, you have to be cool with not being the popular kid doing the popular thing.

I'm really quite loving Classic era myself, even more so than I expected. Since Blizzard isn't actively promoting it, and most people aren't paying attention to it, it kind of feels like a hidden gem at the moment. I'm kind of hoping though that more people will end up discovering it eventually, especially once the shine of Wrath starts to wear off - and yes, I know Classic WotLK only just launched, but as I just laid out: playing on era is all about playing the long game.