Warcraft: My Take

In the documentary The People vs. George Lucas there was a statement that nerds compete with each other generally by promoting their hatred for something they love.  Star Wars fans go apeshit with every release, and no I didn’t care for Phantom Menace and my favorite of all time is still Empire Strikes Back (I saw that in the theater when I was a kid).  Warcraft is pretty much like this, everyone reading this who plays the freaking game is a nerd, whether you like it or not, and we can all agree that WoW today is not what it used to be and Legacy servers should be the next release.  Or can we?

So today on the advice and reviews I saw online I decided to give Warcraft a go.  Since I work 6 days a week like a maniac I checked out of work early on Saturday and caught the 2pm showing.  I really wanted to splurge on this one and see it in 3D – and spoiler alerts here I would not do 3D again.  Especially since I wear transitions lenses and it ALWAYS messes with my eyes.  I will eventually learn.

Either way, I didn’t read anything or see anything about the storyline.  I promised myself I wasn’t going to see this movie because I’m still pouting over the closure of Nostalrius and damn Blizzard for their ways.  I’ve also promised myself I’m not going to buy Legion, and I think I know myself – I’ll end up buying 2-3 copies of the fucker just like every other expansion.  But I will NOT read anything about it before I buy it because I don’t want to spoil any surprises that I’ve promised I would not enjoy because I am not buying Legion.  So see you August 30th in Azeroth because I’m a weak willed loser.

The Whole Enchilada

So here’s my take on it, this part being spoiler free.

I’m a big fan of high fantasy.  I can sit through all LOTR movies in one sitting, including the Hobbit trilogy the same day.  No problem.  If there’s orcs or swords, I’m pretty well sold.  My gaming experience goes back to the old turn based games on the Commie 64, so high fantasy has always been a big part of my escapism.

I sat through Warcraft from opening credits to the copyright warning in the closing credits.  The cleaning staff had to wait on me.  I will encourage you to sit through the credits at the end, just to hear the brief fan service with the music.

The theater wasn’t crowded at all either.  Maybe 7 people in a large theater?  I even went to one of the bigger venues here in Phoenix to watch it because I prefer nice theaters.  My only question when the curtain went up was – “Where the hell are the fans?”  Certainly not everyone saw it yesterday.  Us greybeards were in full representation mode though, 5 of us were all easily over 40.  Yes, original fans!

I sat and chomped on nachos for the first few minutes of the movie, just totally waiting to bust the inconsistencies like any good nerd would do.  This being set in pre-First War era, this was a Challenge Accepted moment for me.  I’m huge on the world’s lore pre-Wrath.  What I found?

I was more interested in meeting the characters and watching the pretty CGI.  They didn’t have the best development of the characters, as this is almost exactly like any video game movie or comic book movie – it is assumed that you know who the main characters are prior to seeing it.  Ok, fine.  Overall you’re going to be seeing a movie meant for the average viewer, not something completely developed for fan-service.  If you want fan-service, then you aren’t going to get a big budget movie, they just aren’t going to make them.  You have to compress thousands of pages of lore into 2 hours, and you have to make it make sense as a story.

But this wasn’t Mortal Kombat and it wasn’t like the vast majority of video game to cinema conversions.  They were absolutely faithful to the names and people you meet, with the exception of a few new characters.  You get to see how the world was when humans ruled the EK.  Not enough Ironforge, and after seeing the way Stormwind looks it makes me wish they could make a game world just like that given we have the technology, just not the budget.

The places they visit are awesome and incredibly well captured.  Visually the movie is stunning for CGI.  They did not spare the eye popcorn.  The orcs looked badass with the exception of the human like faces, Elwynn Forest looks awesome, and I found myself looking in the background most often trying to peg the neighboring game zones.

I would recommend seeing it if you are a fan of the franchise, but definitely turn your brain off and slip out of lore nerd mode.  Red Shirt Guy’s head didn’t explode, so neither should yours.

When I go to the theater (which is rarely during the year), I look for the following things to keep me from saying I wasted my time:

  1. Was it entertaining?  Are you not entertained!?
  2. Did I believe the story?
  3. Was it delivered in a way that made sense?
  4. Could I root for the good guy or bad guy or both?
  5. Was it loaded down with filler and garbage tangents that didn’t complete the story?
  6. When I left, was I happy or depressed about it?
  7. (for modern movies) Was it just eye candy or was it just CGI?

Overall I’m giving this a 9.5/10.  It didn’t suck.  Like Cata.  Thank goodness.

Some Spoiler Action Below

Don’t read this part unless you want to know what to expect.  You have been warned.  Skip to the Conclusion.  Stop by again after you’ve seen the movie, see if you disagree with me.

There is some major retcon action going on with the primary characters.  Not going to say exactly but if you know anything about this period of Azeroth lore you should expect things to not fall into place as you know them.  In other words, this movie is about 20-30% faithful to the things you know.

I complained about character development earlier.  They should definitely have gone about this for many of the character actions or explained it better.  For example, we all know that Sargeras was instrumental in corrupting Medivh to assist Gul’dan, everyone who’s run Black Morass knows he was the culprit.  It is more or less implied in this movie that he fell sick with fel corruption due to almost cursory exposure.  So I guess no Burning Legion sequel because those guys are essentially not present – just fel energy did it like the Dark Side of the Force.  Thank goodness they didn’t make someone else the fall guy for this at least, like Khadgar.

You’re going to meet Thrall’s parents, King Llane and his family (Chess Event!), Garona, Medivh, most of the orc clans, and you’re only going to see about 4 of the classes represented in the movie.  They are faithful to the different races that were active.  For obvious reasons you’re not going to be seeing any squishable gnomes, loveable tauren, or night elves dancing on mailboxes.  I was sorta hoping for some fan service with at least one class breaking out in /dance.  I also had no idea that blood elves were mostly Asians.  At least the eye coloring of everyone was spot on.

The deaths of the various major characters were absolutely not faithful.  The alliances between certain characters were not faithful as well.  Certain characters were supposed to be friends but weren’t.  In other words, this was a reboot of the lore somewhat.  Oh yeah, I had no idea that the Green Jesus was actually Moses.  That made me laugh out loud in the theater when it happened.  But he’s incredibly cuddly and he’s awesome, looking forward to the plushie.  Even if he and his family aren’t supposed to be anywhere near Azeroth at this point.

You will recognize some game sound files playing in the movie.  And I really liked sitting through the closing credits to hear the Classic login musical score.  That was actually awesome.

I would very much like Kara to be redone in the image we are presented with in this movie.  And Dalaran is absolutely faithful to the general look.  But it’s floating.  And it still looks awesome.

Sadly, the current playerbase is going to be thinking lots of things are the way they are because they saw it in the movie.  It is definitely going to be like Star Wars where things happened in the books and then you see the movies and ask WTF is going on here?  Even the game has inconsistencies with the books, and we’re just going to have to dismiss this as entertainment and not canon.  Perfectly fine with that.

As a player of the game, I think my favorite part was seeing Black Morass on the big screen.  It was amusing to see how the Dark Portal functioned since I spent hours and hours grinding exalted in that thing back when I was competitively raiding a priest just so I could have the epic bracers.  I think they were bracers.  Amazing what you forget in 10 years.  Further, I immediately thought “Drop your damned enchant” when I saw one particular character.

Spells from the mages and warlocks were executed with visual splendor, I felt like I was watching the original cinematic to the game.  Except I’m trying to figure out why air spells were being cast when mages clearly have no access to those and we have an infernal-ish monster under the control of a mage.  Maybe the fel influence?  And melting faces is real!

Conclusion

Of course, we can nitpick all we want and so can everyone else on the internet.  I remember in 2006 when South Park did their parody of the game and they stuck so much anti-fan service into the show that the players were up in arms for weeks.  Frostwolf tabard on an Alliance!?  What were they thinking!?  Mages can’t summon scorpions!  Shut up nerds, enjoy it for what it is, not what you want it to be.  If you went to the theater just to see what you know played out for you in perfect execution, that would be a pretty dull movie, wouldn’t it?  I think they executed it very well.

Go see the movie, so they can make some money on it and we can have more.  And maybe there will be an interest in old Azeroth again.  Hint, hint.

Thanks for stopping in!

 

August 30, 2016! Hooray!

Good news everyone!  Our long international nightmare is nearly at an end!

This is even more awesome news for everyone who obviously played on Classic servers because WoD was getting tiresome!  I know I was; I was absolutely forced to seek old content and with Legion coming I look forward to a MAXIMUM of 2 weeks of entertainment that I’ll never forget!  And Blizzard is releasing Legion in just over 4 months!  Just in time for everyone to have gotten back and leveled all their characters to 100 and raid the content for all that wonderful epic gear.  There’s plenty of things to do because everyone has had the raid content on farm since last summer, so get on back there and remember the good times!  (Disclaimer: There were no good times, only the first 2 weeks)

Why did Nostalrius go from 0 to 800k accounts from February 2015 (a full 3 months after release of WoD) through closure?  Of course 500k of them were banned Chinese gold farmers and hackers, but more obviously because WoD had such riveting content and new content never before seen in… oh wait.  Maybe it was the lack of new pet battles?  Garrisons were awesome content, totally optional for everyone because there was so much to do out in the game world.  If you didn’t truly get into them then you just aren’t a true WoW player!  And Ash-can, the “Heart of PvP” was DOA after Blizz saw people were having too much fun with it.  Raid content was totally built for everyone, not a single world guild fell apart this expansion.  At least we can still only count them on 2 hands, haven’t gotten to the toes yet.

This company has been the original Zin’Rokh since 2010.  Name a title in their IP that’s engrossing that’s not RTS.  Cataclysm started us off with an aptly named title, and then they had to go through an expansion to fix Diablo 3.  They listened to the playerbase, and the playerbase said we wanted to pay another $60 to get a game worth playing.  I’m sour grapes, because dammit I liked their video games, but anymore I feel like I’m digging a grave of broken titles $60 at a time.  And then the company has the balls to shut down a popular tribute server without so much as launching a lawyer bomb.  No apologies, censorship everywhere in their forums, and possibly the most heavy-handed-shove-it-up-your-ass-fans move a company can make.  At least we know they don’t invest a dime into PR.

This is probably why the only thing I really enjoy in current WoW is pet battles.  Because it is the last part of the entire game that’s actually somewhat interesting, and FFS it’s turn-based RTS.  Gold making isn’t even enjoyable anymore because it’s basically the metagame within the game for everyone.  I remember when goldmaking was considered the oddest thing you could do in WoW, and now everyone (with more than 2 brain cells) is basically doing it.

The reason people were playing on Nost wasn’t because they were bored with WoD, they were bored with WoW’s new mechanics and gameplay in general.  Some of us actually like long, tedious, meticulously designed games that take months and even years to complete.  Diablo 2 was built around this type of design, you would have to log weeks of play time to get the gear you wanted, and then months to years to perfect it.  Classic Warcraft was especially this way, with 40 man raids designed to take months to gear up in.  PvP grinding that took several hundred hours of play to get your pieces and ranks.  Drop rates and farming that didn’t come fast.  You could spend the next two months leveling a character and still not hit level cap.  No boosts or shortcuts, just that thrill when you could leave one zone and go into another after spending several hours every night for a week getting 40 to 45.  Hell, level 1 to 20 took a full day of play if you were doing it right.  There was a true feeling of accomplishment.  Sort of like being given a 1st place ribbon in a contest of thousands, as opposed to a participation trophy for everyone involved.

Enter today’s WoW:  Level 1-100 in a few days played, build a garrison, raid or PvP.  The only fun part about WoD was the questing experience, which seemed to go splat when you hit 100.  And then content releases that were hardly content releases – new raid tiers and one new daily zone.  Oh, and the boat game.  Tanaan Jungle wasn’t even a good attempt at a Timeless Isle, which was actually about the last time they hit paydirt with some content.

Why did I seem to have more fun in Classic?  Or TBC?  Probably because the carrot was always out there.  You were always collecting something between raids, you were always wanting to get better but there was a clearly defined line between average player and excellent.  You had to be SOCIAL in a MMO to get anywhere, and you know what I enjoyed most on Nost?  Finding groups to do most EVERYTHING and making new friends that weren’t on some server I never heard of and could be counted on to help you with things.  Today everyone is rewarded with purples for showing up, everyone has access to gear, there’s no incentive to really try harder.  You can’t unwind this.  As my daddy used to say, “Son, you just can’t put the shit back in the horse.”  We can never truly go home again, because Blizzard won’t let it happen.

Of course I could go nuts and try to find people to do dungeons, but the only people that do that are people interested in speed running and not enjoying the ride to get to the destination.  And of course, there’s no CC required, which is a huge downer.  CC was great because it required you to think about your pulls vs. your group’s makeup.  One of the first things you learned how to do in an MMO was pull properly, to take your time, and not wipe the fucking group because you could get labeled as a bad and never get invited to any reindeer games in the future.  LFG dominates because hurt feelings are bad, and our new generation of gamers cannot be anything but epic looting heroes.  I hate LFG most of all because I cannot kick people anymore.  I think I’ve been on perma-cooldown for Vote-To-Kick because I used to initiate more kicks than anyone else in the US.  As least the ignore feature still works, but then you end up with a full ignore list after a night of playing.  Thank you crossrealm.

Will Legion offer anything up beyond what we have in play today?  Without the obvious clickbaiter kings and queens whose very narcissistic existence relies upon the anonymous attention of thousands of people, and possibly their incomes as well, is there anything that will make this future release last beyond the shelf life of a jar of mayonnaise in the hot sun?  Maybe, but I’m not going to buy into any hype.  I only know one thing about Legion – it’s made by the same people that brought us Cata, MoP, and WoD.

I’m going to call it – by the time Blizzcon comes out you will hear the grumblings of people tired of Legion.  It’s unfortunate that a world I called home 10-12 years ago has devolved into something I don’t recognize anymore.  I also predict that within a month of release, they will nerf/change everything that people find interesting or wildly overpowered in the game.

Actually, that’s too easy, they do that in every single expansion.  As long as they don’t fuck with pet battles.  Then it’s war.  Because I’ll probably only buy the silly expansion for one reason – weekend pet battles.  I sure as hell am not buying it for the content, because we all know what they do with old content.  They burn it, deny it, and tell us we don’t want it.  And the “legion” of real fans tell us the same.

Thanks for stopping in!  – Zerohour

EDIT:  I’m definitely not alone.  Mark Kern of original WoW commenting on the state of the game.

Wait, this wasn’t legit?

Blizz put the kibosh on Nostalrius.org, and as of this writing we’re just hours from it leaving us forever.  I guess it’s time to take your hats off (or whatever you kids wear) out of respect, this was the best run Classic WoW experience of all the different servers that have arisen over the years, mostly because it was operated by real fans of the game that were intent on giving the public the experience that Blizzard long ago said they would never do, and to paraphrase Blizzard’s official position which went something like this: “Fuck you”, and then a mic was dropped.

And while this was not my only Warcraft, I personally flipped and flopped between Classic and Retail WoW, because I have (or had) that option.  Last July I landed my dream job, so anything beyond 4-5 hours of gaming per week is completely out of the question.  To be honest, 1-2 hours per week is more like it.  I work 70+ hours a week because I can, and I love doing what I do, and my income is getting close to what it was pre-financial-world-meltdown.  Coincidentally, it was Warcraft that helped me get through that mess, back when I wasn’t thinking about walking in front of a speeding bus, I was busy raiding.

But now they’re taking it all away, and now we’re left with the other hundreds of private servers like Feenix and Twilight and other pay-to-win style servers.  Seriously, why would they go after the free one?  Simple: It was too fucking good.

Blizzard has long maintained a laissez-faire attitude with the private servers, provided they don’t do something stupid like host their server here in the United States.  Hell, even the bot makers know you have to do that shit in Germany, or at least go to someplace remote where they don’t give two shits and a doorbell chime about intellectual property like say, China?  I’m pretty sure however the government would storm the place and turn it into something like “Place of Happy Fun Goodtimes” and redo all the artwork and give rights to one of their party leaders who would then become another billionaire in the knockoff community.  But, the gang at Nostalrius made the lethal mistake of believing France wasn’t a friendly country when it came to having one of their employer’s backs – I mean Blizzard has brick and mortar operations in that country, I’m shocked they didn’t nuke it down after it started.

But provided you aren’t going into hiding just to rub out your nostalgia, the Nostalrius server made one HELL of a clone to the original, with scripted raids and even original Alterac-fucking-Valley PvP.  Sure I got 200ms latency on the left coast of the USA, but it was worth every second I had to play it.  I took a mage all the way to 60 in about 3 weeks played – my first character ever in the game when I started playing, why not really relive it except choosing the proper race this time (gnome with Chromie appearance).  And then I began leveling rogues and everything else that I missed.  I finished by getting an undead rogue to Level 22 in 24 hours played with another 13 hours dedicated to professions because that’s just the kind of nostalgia whore I am.  Of course given my schedule, this rogue was started at the beginning of February 2016…

The experience was everything I remembered.

  1. Frustratingly trying to remember where to go to get new quests while visiting about every town/city at random levels or otherwise missing out on a giant chain quest worth thousands of XP.
  2. Getting my shit pushed in by level 60s in STV while trying to collect Nessingwary kills.
  3. Having to run all the way to 40, and then run a little more because mounts are not going to buy themselves when the economy is focused primarily on high end mats.
  4. Running into old Org and SW and just taking in the music and sights.
  5. Freaking elite quests scattered in almost every zone requiring social skills that consist of typing in chat to locate others to help.  Outside dungeons we used to call them.
  6. Thousand trolls event that lasted longer than 10 seconds and one AOE blast.
  7. Running through Barrens to the Great Lift and realizing I forgot to pick up a quest.
  8. Standing on the great dam in Loch Modan and watching water spit from the dwarves.
  9. Checking out what WAS at Karazhan prior to the release of TBC.  Just a hint:  Just a bunch of angry ghosts, though I remember wisps.
  10. Actual weekly PVP ranks given for random battleground action and not having to coordinate Rated Battleground groups.  Anyone could see how high they could get through their own efforts.
  11. Being very fearful of opposing faction mounts with glowing eyes.
  12. Being able to gank someone 12 levels below you and still get honor at 60.  Sigh.
  13. Freaking Un’Goro Tyranosaurs patting around eating you at random.
  14. No flying mounts and gank marathons in questing zones.  I loved being hated.
  15. Being able to charge for level 55 water because you couldn’t buy it anywhere else.  Oh man, the coin.
  16. It exposes retail Warcraft’s evolution in a way that makes me sick to my stomach.

Outside of some of these fun memories, I actually got to see them on other servers however.  Private servers are everywhere.  Just Google them for fucks sakes (a favorite saying of my old Classic GM).  So why was Nostalrius different?

Easy.

  1. Quests weren’t broken in random points making the experience frustrating as shit.  You could expect scripting to work correctly.
  2. They had working raids on par with the original.
  3. Twinking was actually a thing.
  4. They offered a PvP and PvE experience and was entirely on par with the original.
  5. They enforced the ever living shit out of hacking, botting, dual boxing, gold buying, and cheating.  Seriously, they made Blizzard GMs look weak by today’s standards.
  6. They actually cared about the community experience, you could tell it was run by fans who were just helping other fans.
  7. Your leveling experience was exactly how it was in the good ol’ days with no cheats or speed levels.  Drops were 99% accurate to the way it was.  You actually were playing Classic.
  8. Allegiance to immersion and good play.

 

And this is exactly what broke it.

 

They thumbed their noses at retail and offered a place for us fogies who enjoyed 2 month leveling experiences a place to remember home, even if the game was over 10 years ago.  The experience was so good that it became the most popular private server in the history of private servers.  Word spread like wildfire that this was the best place to enjoy the game the way it was, and we can’t have that competing with the piece of shit we currently call Warcraft today.  This was the game that actually put Blizzard on the map and having someone outright copy everything down to the most minute detail is bad for business.  Ultimately they showed that a handful of programmers could emulate something Blizzard has been resisting for a decade now… an awesome experience with bugs and all… for free.

You have to remember 12 years ago that prior to WoW, you had 3 IPs over at Blizz – Starcraft, Warcraft, and Diablo.  Of the 3, 2 were their own brainchildren, with Diablo being designed by a subsidiary that came to them to get published.  Otherwise, they were busy making RTS games.  MMOs were gaining steam, and Blizzard even stated that if they got 1 million subs for WoW they were going to be happy.  They ended up quadrupling that and crashing servers due to lag and bad forecasting.  Blizzcon developed out of this monster.  Licensed merchandise.  And now a big budget film due out this summer.  An entire gaming culture with tens of millions of alumni.  Outside of Wrath, this was the game that really put them on the map of the gaming world.

Now this server is illegal of course (by most First World Intellectual Property laws), but as J. Allan Brack stated several years ago – “You think you want to do that, but you don’t”.  I guess he was wrong, tens of thousands of players joined in on the hype and kept playing daily because his game was out of content and it was getting bigger and bigger.  And competing with him and his crew is not going to happen because they’ll tell you how you’re going to be delivered your WoW fix, not you.  Fine, you don’t care about your own title other than the money, why not license it to someone that cares more than you and might make it work?  I mean, it’s not like it’s Star Wars Galaxies or anything, this is a game beloved by fans (note: JAB oversaw SWG before coming to wreak havoc at Blizzard).  Hell I’m sure crowdfunding it would even work.

J.Allen_Brack

What a sad end for the best tribute to the granddaddy of the franchise – Blizzard sicking their attack dogs on something they’ve really never given a shit about in 10 years.  There’s something in this world called good politics and doing what’s right by your base.  This just made a legion of fans realize that it’s now no longer about the game, it’s about what’s up Blizzard’s ass.  Of course, they should zealously protect their trademarks, but after seeing WHAT IS possible, you would think they would maybe approach these guys and see if they could make it work for everyone…  including the fans.

When the Lich King died, WoW died with him

So sayeth my friend Vargas.  But MMOs are dying in general, they are too big budget, take too much time to develop, and ultimately they cost a fortune to sustain.  Everyone that’s tried after Warcraft hasn’t made it big, they’ve merely kept the servers going and gone the way of microtransactions.  Even Blizzard has gone both ways – a monthly sub and micros.  It’s gotten so grim at Blizz they aren’t releasing sub numbers anymore, and probably because they’ve gotten to sub Classic numbers.  The only thing keeping the lights on and the people employed anymore are the micros which make for nice infusions of cash every other month.

And who are the real fans of the game?  The ones that pay for it all or the ones that play it just to play it regardless?  A gamer is someone who enjoys gaming, not worrying about patches and expansions and new content – these are modern day developments.  I play Classic because this is the game I enjoy.  Since Blizzard won’t do it, I’ll seek it out.  I’ll still support their retail version and keep buying into Diablo 3 (which is now bordering on ridiculous; release another expansion please FFS).  But ultimately, what I want are choices, not a story.  The way they release content today is entirely too fast, and since I really lack any time to get anywhere in my favorite title, I enjoy leveling characters and going through the old backstory.

The story was interesting up until Deathwing came along, and MoP was somewhat whimsical even though I wasn’t invested in the plight of the pandas.  We’re playing Time Warp now, which has been a snoozefest for me since about February 2015.  Legion is probably going to end up being the same.  I guarantee that within 6 months of release nobody is going to care anymore except the hardcores and the no-lifers.  Everyone loves the leaks from MMO Champion and is busy buying the expansion in pre-sales, but I just cannot see myself having the same experience because the story is getting stale.  Stop rebooting content and release the trusted content.

Of course I’m probably wrong in everyone’s eyes and a bad person because I enjoy nostalgia.  Guess what, that’s how I like to play my game, I’ll choose to be left behind…  in Classic, or Vanilla, or Old School, or whatever you want to call it.  Just don’t call me a bad person for wanting something that was fun and enjoyable and would give me hundreds of hours of entertainment.  Hopefully one day Blizzard will realize the error of their ways one day.

Thanks for stopping in!

– Zerohour

Goodbye Warcraft! Hello Warcraft?

Long time, no see.  Sorry, been transitioning into a new job out in Arizona.  I left my hometown to embark on a new mission.  No, I’m not stalking our favorite bleggar, either.  Something’s been on my mind a long time, and it was confirmed today.

I chose to name my blog and officially place it on it’s own domain at a time when WoD sorta looked like it had promise.  It was a short time after that I found myself finally throwing in the towel and playing content from 10 years ago…  and loving it.  So outside of relocating halfway across the country, beginning a new job, and messing with a game that was dead I made a big choice to quit Warcraft (even though I’m part of the subs thanks to tokens) and then start playing Warcraft.  Just in a different time.

Since today’s numbers demonstrate that I’m not alone in leaving the game, with 1.5 million people (mind you, this would be considered a major city in the USA) telling Blizz where to stick their content.  And even more humorous to me was this gem:

They were more fucked than 5.6 million prior to the release?  How low?  One can only speculate, but I don’t even want to think about it.  They’ve officially arrived at December 2005 numbers.  The game had 5.6 million players a year after the official release of Classic.  Why?  Because players were joining in droves and telling their friends to get in on the phenomenon or get left behind.  Today’s community is telling their friends to gtfo while the getting is good.  Sad, no?

While I’m playing in a completely non-TOU way to enjoy my favorite MMO my way, that’s also sad.  I’m forced to seek out my favorite content because the manufacturer is busy retconning and hyping their official game, while ignoring that they have players that would like to take in the sights and sounds from years past, even though the toxic community of assholes they’ve developed are busy telling me “nostalgia”.  I dunno, I have a 60 and am about 2 months out from 3 more.  I am taking in the lore of the game and dealing with the bugs like a hardcore, and I get talent trees that actually are somewhat interesting.  I’m not playing nostalgia, I’m playing a game with evolving content by hardcore fans of the game.  Further, my server is packed with between 3500 and 8000 players at any given time.  People are halfway decent to one another because you have to be to get things done, and being a jackhole will land you on a blacklist.  Further, cheating is aggressively sanctioned.  You, on the other hand, get forced into more and more solo gameplay and told “no” more than “yes”, content gets burned through in days rather than months, and your announcements are peppered with new store microtransactions.

I don’t want to slam the game for those that are enjoying it, because I simply don’t enjoy your content.  I enjoy my favorite content.  If we went to an ice cream store and you ordered a banana split and I ordered a fudge sundae, I think we can both agree that we got what we wanted because we had the options.  There are officially 5 expansions and classic content.  How do you make 6 generations of Warcraft players happy and benefit your bottomline at the same time?  Gee, I dunno.  Burn those previous tiers of content and tell your players to adapt or die?  You’re telling a story?  Like it or not, this is a game, a business, and entertainment for millions.  There’s a reason why reruns are shown on TV.  There’s a reason why you change your business paradigm when things aren’t working.

With an announcement of another expansion just hours away from this post, it just makes me wince.  We got royally fucked with this expansion in terms of almost everything.  Price?  Higher than the previous expansions while being told “free 90”.  Content?  3 patches with 2 raid tiers.  Developers outright telling us how to think.  PvP content receiving change after change to very cold reception with the lead developer exiting Twitter.  The gold game was practically destroyed and everyone shoveled into the same funnels.  And now, after years of precedent, the next expansion is being announced at Gamescom, and the rest of us will miss out on seeing it except in YouTube videos and streams.  Woohoo.  Pinky swirl.  And /golfclap.

Blow by Blow

Straight from MMOC’s comments…

  • More developers are working on World of Warcraft than ever before

If I was involved with Warcraft at Blizzard, I’d be pulling a Ghostcrawler/Bashiok.  Bashiok is now a Senior Content Manager over at NCSoft.  Smart move, they keep releasing new IPs and building on them and he was just a CM at Blizz.

I would expect that with the loss of about 1.5 million subs, which at most would be a hit of around 22.4 million bucks per month, there’s going to be some massive adjustments incoming.  You don’t go from 10 million to HALF your income without rethinking the office cubicle layout.  Someone’s got to pay, and it won’t be any of those bloated officer/VP/Executive Director checks.  In these situations, the little guys in the trenches feel the penalties, not the guys at the top.  All those GMs and CMs you like to abuse, they get to pack their desks.  Raises don’t happen.  Careers go stagnant.

It’s not all doom and gloom though, maybe an adjustment is just what they need?  New ideas, new blood, beheaded managers who were stopping innovation get replaced by people who come up with better ideas and paradigms.  When you stare into the abyss, you figure out what’s really important.

  • The Warcraft movie is a chance to expose Warcraft’s lore to new audiences and increase interest in World of Warcraft overall.

This is a year away.  They won’t even show us the trailer unless we attend SDCC, and YouTube accounts showing it get instantly hammered.  So you’re going to show a movie demonstrating lore that was followed up with game content that was destroyed by Cataclysm and the company refuses to re-release.  I’m telling you, if they don’t open legacy servers with this next expansion (and I know how popular they really are), you can count on the same graph as you see right now. If this is acceptable, then the executive management has officially lost their fucking minds and need to go back to business school.

Show me lore from 15 years ago and then put me into a game that doesn’t have anything to do with the demonstrated lore.  That’ll be a nice introduction for those people.  Other issue:  New players coming in?  What will happen to the game as a result?  You guessed it.

  • The subscriber count was down in the east, in part due to Diablo 3 release.

Ah yes, because people often quit Warcraft when Diablo 3 is released.  I assume they are talking about the season that was released shortly after 6.1, because 6.1 was a pile of dogshit and I for one was happy to pay attention to Diablo 3 instead of Warcraft.  Eastern players recognize what’s best, and Diablo 3 kicks ass now – and the game has come light years from the 7 year development period that resulted in another pile of dogshit.  The thing I fear is that they may cut devs from Warcraft and put them on D3 and one of them may be Jay Wilson.  /shudder

  • Patch 6.2 helped to stabilize the subscriber count in the last few weeks of the quarter.

Again.  They were LOWER than 5.6 million?  Third quarter is going to be an A-Bomb.  This explains their actions the past month in three letters…  S.O.S.

  • Blizzard has been listening to players experiences during Warlords of Draenor and thinks players will be excited by the announcement this week

Fanboys will be excited.  Fan sites will promote the news.  Twitter will go nuts with screenshots.  The hype machine cometh.  That’s the biggest no-shit statement I’ve heard all day.

  • Tokens are included in this timeframe, as they launched in Q2.

/Raises Hand.  Yes, I have tokens out the wazzoo. Will I play? No. The account can rot.  I have zero desire to play live Warcraft today.  I log into Classic and I’m excited to see if anything sold for a few silver.  Log into WoD?  Blow CDs, look at mission table.  Check friend list for who’s on?  Noone?  Ok, log out.

  • Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, and Destiny combined now have more than 70 million registered players.

The future of Blizzard and Blizzcon, gang.  Learn it, live it, and love it.  Once Overwatch releases and with all those micros, they’ll have one forum at Blizzcon for the Warcraft people, and then we can all scuttle off and enjoy the rest of our weekend.

  • Blizzard Entertainment had the largest online player community in its history, with Q2 MAUsB up 50% year-over

I believe this, given the new games.  Thanks for making me feel like a Blizzosaurus.  Maybe in two years we can all check into a gamers museum where people can sit and speculate what we died of.

  • Hearthstone engagement metrics nearly doubled year over year, largely on account of the new content and new platforms

See above.  Yikes.  Get me my cane and lawnchair.

  • Diablo III has now sold-through over 30 million units life-to-date globally.

And this was the good news for the day, because Diablo will always be my favorite game universe.  I wish I had a Tyrael hood for my “fun” photo up at the office.

Conclusion

I think it’s great that lots of people still enjoy the game as it is.  5.6 million people?  No other game has that player base, unless you count all the Asian-market-only MMOs.  Or the playerbase of some of these non-MMOs.  It supports a rather large group of people’s lifestyles, which I’m sure they’re thankful for.  Nothing is worse than wondering where your next meal is coming from, so hopefully the bleeding won’t be too bad.  Of course, it will be more challenging for people to get into Blizz, with a looming freeze coming since they have more candidates internally than you can shake a stick at.

Here’s hoping that the next expansion has nothing to do with Draenor, and possibly has content for those of us that like the old stuff (Say it with me… Legacy… servers…).  But this would require lots of resources, and unfortunately it looks like they’re going to be playing that old card moreso in the future.

Thanks for stopping in!

My Lil’ Classic Survival Guide Part 2

There are so many things that are different between retail and the original inception.  Aside from obvious things like “No Garrisons” and “No flying, ever” and “Professions only require one material”.  Here are some additional things to know before you jump in and find out that Warcraft really wasn’t that easy.

Food Costs Money, Water Costs Money

Even for mages.  While they can make their own food, it’s typically 5-10 levels behind what they need during leveling, and they had the largest mana pool of any class – try filling a level 30’s mana pool with level 15 water.  You still buy water.  And since every ranged class uses mana, you’re going to go through a ton of it.

You have to buy these things most of the time, which means you have even less money to buy your skills, and after 40 levels you’ll have no money to buy your mount so you get to hump it all over until you do get the funds.  After 40 however, the coin rewards from quests and vendor trash begin to get a lot larger, so that’s why you’ll see people generally get their mounts in the mid to late 40s.  When you get to level 45, a stack of food is going to run you about 1.6g before discounts.  In a world without dailies and low value vendor trash, this is a small fortune!

For the majority of classes, you need to refill your health pool quickly, because this eliminates downtime and prevents you from hitting respawn timers.  Drinking to refill mana typically takes 21-40 seconds and eating from near death generally takes about 20 seconds.  The average person will need to do either or both every 2-3 pulls.  That’s a ton of future gold reserves when you add it all up.  There are several solutions here.

Eat what you loot.  The problem here is that mobs tend to drop less superior foods, requiring you to have to eat more of it and waste time.

Beg mages for them.  Mages have nothing better to do than cast “Conjure Water” 3-4 times to make you a stack of crappy water, and then drink for 30 seconds after.  While we all treated mages like vending machines back then, you should not ask them for their wares unless you are willing to tip for the favor.  It’s just rude.

Best solution: Learn fishing, cooking, and first aid, because (to quote Roguecraft) that’s what they’re fucking there for.  Fishing can be long and frustrating in this content, because you have a 30 second cast timer and the fish has the opportunity to get away.  The easiest way to prevent missed catches is to be of the appropriate skill level, so use lures when needed.  The zone will also match the fishing skill, so if it is a level 30 zone, then missed catches will be lesser if you have about 150 fishing.  Take the zone’s level and multiply by 5, that’s where you should be to prevent missed catches.

You want to get your fishing to the maximum level for your character level as soon as possible, and since you’re going to probably spend 2 weeks played getting to 60 anyhow, this is a small sacrifice of your time.  At level 10 you can learn Journeyman fishing from the trainer, at 20 you can learn Expert from the book the fishing supplier sells in Booty Bay, and at 35 you can embark on Nat Pagle’s quest line to get Artisan.  Keep in mind Nat doesn’t reward a fishing pole in this content, to get the best poles you either have to win the fishing tournament (good luck with that) or buy underwater breathing potions and spend an hour opening Clacker cages in southwestern Desolace.  Neither are necessary while leveling to 60.

Cooking goes in hand with Fishing.  If you didn’t make that correlation already, you aren’t paying attention.  Fishing will make leveling cooking an absolute breeze, while you can also good the raw meats you will find while leveling.  Cook Brilliant Smallfish to 50, Longjaw Mudsnappers to 100, and go to your respective faction’s vendor to buy Bristle Whisker Catfish because this will be your primary means of leveling to about 170/180.  From 170 to 190 you will cook up appropriate meats until you can make Rockscale Cod.  Mystery Meat will provide you with the means to level to the 240 range, and beyond this you will be cooking up whatever meats you can find until you can fish Azshara for the level 45 foods.  Blizzard did NOT implement level 55 foods that you could cook up, only mages have that stuff and only after they do their class quest for level 55 water and get the drop in Strat for their 55 food.  (This is why mages were vending machines at 60, they controlled the high level food.  Yay for advantages!)

Training cooking will require the same levels as other professions (10/20/35), with the book available for Expert training from a faction vendor (who is always a nice long jog).  To learn Artisan, you get to visit Dirge in Gadgetzan who sends you off to collect materials while questing.

If you keep up with both, you will hardly spent any gold on needed foods saving you a small fortune for things like new spell ranks and your possible mount training at 40.

First Aid is also going to be a lifesaver for you, provided you keep up with it.  You know what to do here, just convert the cloth you find into bandages, and use them every two minutes when you are in desperate need for a quick pickup.  If you have the ability to CC, often times this will mean the difference between a 2 minute GY run and just spending a few seconds drinking/eating.  The books to train to Expert are in Arathi Highlands for Alliance and Dustwallow Marsh for Horde, so don’t run around vendoring your silk because you haven’t gotten to those zones yet.  Further, there is no need to buy them off the AH, they are NOT drops unlike some poison guides.

Bonus: I can’t say enough for potions, they each have 2 minute shared cooldowns but if you are fishing and come across Floating Wreckage, you can retain them from the chests you will fish up.  If you spend a healthy amount of time fishing, you will never need to buy them off the auction house.  Unless you are an alchemist, in which case you can just make your own!  Effective use of them is at your discretion, I often use health pots on overpull mistakes, and I use mana pots while drinking just to speed things up.  Time it right, because the CD can cost you if you make your next pull a bad one.

Class Selection

Part of what made Classic Warcraft insanely fun and challenging was that each class had severe strengths and weaknesses when it came to leveling.  At this point in history, you didn’t have all the signature skills at level 10, and you often struggled to hit levels where you were granted the skills you love today.  Several classes were unfinished and could not perform the tasks like you think they should.  Essentially, this is not your grandkid’s Warcraft!

Hardest to Level

  • Paladin
  • Warrior
  • Druid

Paladins do not get ANY of the toys you know them for today and are essentially auto-attacking with some Judgements and auras helping.  You have to refresh seals after every Judgement.  They stack spellpower, and if you have access to a ton of it you can perform decently in either prot or ret specs.  Paladins were primarily healers in Classic, and if you go to a dungeon don’t be surprised if you have to respec to holy just to get a slot.  If you want to tank you are probably going to get put on ignore.

Warriors are THE tanks of Classic.  Dungeon group?  Tank.  Raid?  Tank.  PvP?  Arms.  They are the most gear dependent class in the game, with their lack of performance being felt immediately when you overpull a group of mobs and getting hit like a train while hitting the mobs feels like you’re gear is broken.  The reason warriors tended to almost always level blacksmithing was because they needed gear all the time.  Getting rage at early levels feels fruitless.  But at 60, they become wrecking balls.  Get ready to sword and board until you can find a 2-hander, but get wrecked because you haven’t got any mitigation or CC.

Druids were almost strictly healers in this time.  Rolling Bear tank required a hotshot healer, Kitty form was a joke and you don’t get it until 20, and Moonkins go OOM in seconds.  Mage have no where the drinking problem that Boomchickens have.  So that leaves you with Resto, which is where you shined.  Leveling will ask you to play an awkward combination of Balance and Bear form, until 20 when you can choose to go Kitty, but why would you since the spec is really weak without gear?  I knew several high ranked Feral PvPers back in Classic, but it takes a ton of patience on your part to get to that point.  If you want a slot in leveling dungeons, always have a Resto spec at the ready, and to be fair you should just stay in it and dungeon crawl.

Easiest to Level

  • Hunter
  • Mage
  • Rogue
  • Warlock
  • Priest
  • Shaman

Outside of the Shaman, the others are pretty well like you know them with the exception of shamans which are dual wielding burst machines, and only if you’re Horde.  Rogues get the benefit of never being seen, Warlocks have unlimited fear, Mages have polymorphs and can burst things to shreds, and priests have the benefit of not needing to respec out of holy to heal dungeons (Discipline is a joke here).  Hunters, outside of AFK Autoshot, simply required a person to have some knowledge of how to spec a pet, while learning the various pet skills out in the world.  They are by far the easiest class to level.  While Shamans still feel unfinished, you will see where the attention to class performance came in with the others.

Dungeon Groups

This isn’t retail.  If you played Cataclysm at release, you saw something similar to what we as Classic/TBC players saw on a routine basis.  Most every class has a responsibility on almost every pull besides “kill the mob”.  Crowd Control (CC) is extremely important, healers were simply not going to be able to have the throughput needed to heal a tank with 3-4 elite mobs beating on a tank.  Non-tanks would typically drop dead if they pulled aggro off a tank and didn’t pay attention to their threat.  These are not sprints, they are marathons.  If you get too far ahead of yourself you’ll wipe the group and everyone will be thrilled with the run back to the instance.

The Tank is considered the party leader ALWAYS.  They tell you who to CC and which mob to kill.  Unless you outgear the content AOE is bad form.  Learn your class (which was performed through the 2 week played leveling process, sigh) and learn the universally accepted raid markers.  Skull means kill, and stop dotting up the sheeps.  Here are the markers for those that are unaware or too old to remember:

Skull:  Kill this target first.  Do not pass Go, do not collect $200.

Red X:  Your second kill target, should there not be enough CC the tank will mark another target with this, indicating that you should allow the tank to have threat on the target and not pull it off as it will be a live mob.  Watch your dots.

Star:  Rogue’s sap.  These will generally be the 2nd target to kill after a Skull dies unless an X is given.  Rogues cannot resap a target in combat.

Blue Square:  Hunter’s trap.  You have to kite the target into the trap, and unlike retail you cannot reset the trap again in combat.  These will generally be a 2nd kill target as well.  You can tell a good hunter just from this ability.

Moon:  Mage’s sheep.  These are going to be the last to die generally, because mages can re-polymorph as long as the have mana.

Purple Diamond:  Warlock CC.  Succubus/Enslave/Banish.  This does not mean fear like it does in retail.  Fearing in an instance is the dumbest thing you can do, as mobs do not stay in place and will fear into friends who will pull and give you a nice 10 minute run-back.  Because the CC is castable again in combat, these targets are also left for the end.

Green Triangle:  Shaman’s Hex, Druid’s Roots.  If both are in the party and one is a healer, the non-healer is expected to do the job.

Orange Circle (the Condom):  Priest’s Mind Control or Shackle.  Rarely will you be asked to Mind Control unless it is a particular pull, but Shackle is used all the time in Strat and Scholo.  It is recastable in combat, and a last kill target.

Remember if you are playing Classic today, there’s not many places to go should you want to be a ninja or play with bad manners and attitude.  When you’re leveling, and want to get groups together, the best thing you can do is be friendly and outgoing.  There are no LFD buttons to push, you will see these people again, and getting blacklisted is about the worst thing you can do because word spreads really fast.  There are no name changes, your only option will be to reroll if you get a terrible rep.  Dungeon groups also take a while to form, and leaving in the middle of them is extremely bad form.

Trash in dungeons typically respawns after 60-90 minutes, so having to reclear is not fun.  People know this so removing people from groups is really a hard process because you have to go back outside and find someone to take their place.  Unless you have a warlock with you, there are no summons, either.  People have to make their way to the dungeon.  This is why blacklists and ignore lists are formed – to remove the rabble and send them back to retail for Blizzard to worry about.

If you are new to the dungeon or need help, always ask.  People are generally wanting to help, because you’re going to be there a while.  As you progress in levels, dungeons get longer and longer.  For example, while Deadmines may only take about an hour and a half to clear, some later dungeons like Scholo, Mara, and Sunken Temple could take as long as 3 hours to clear.  Strat Dead is going to be the fastest dungeon, mostly because it’s a timed run but plan on at least an hour and a half to two hours.

Keep in mind that most people you’ll be playing with haven’t seen this content in nearly 5 years, and this content at this point in time was not refined or changed as in later expansions.  You’re seeing the content as it was presented in 2006, not prior to the Cataclysm where mob health was adjusted.  Best advice, play smart and slow.  Nobody likes wipes and they often destroy parties.

Enchanting Sucks, Unless You Raid

And even then getting the raid recipes will prove difficult because guilds select who will receive all recipes first.  That’s not to say that you shouldn’t have an enchanter so you can disenchant greens and acquire materials for yourself through other means like crafting and world drops.  Those materials will then be used to tip other enchanters to acquire enchants you want.  You will also be able to vendor soulbound quest rewards, thus improving your overall wealth.

Do yourself a favor, spend the hour to roll a character you don’t care about to level 5 so you can acquire the profession.  Enchanters in this time did not have to have a specific level in order to disenchant items, although they did require you to have the levels to learn the different tiers of the profession.  In other words, you can disenchant everything in the game at level 5.  You’ll also level to about 50 just disenchanting pieces you mail yourself.

There are NO vellums, those did not arrive until Wrath with the introduction of inscription.  If you want to sell your wares as an enchanter, you have to spam trade looking for buyers, and then meeting them somewhere in the game.  Further, you were working for tips, so having that Spellpower or Intellect enchant generally meant you were getting 2-3g from cheap bastards, who probably blew 150g on the mats to make it.  It was more a labor of love.  Worse, you were often enchanting your guild’s gear so anytime someone picked up a new weapon, you were running all over the world.  Best to be a mage with the profession because guildies were always in Darnassus for some reason when they needed the enchants.

Learn the needs of the various classes before you disenchant those items.  “of the Bear” was highly desired by Warriors, whereas Gorilla was needed by Paladins.  Visiting the Auction House with certain pieces could be a better place than as dust in your bags.

Professions for Profit

I’ve gone into fishing, but the best profession to have during Classic was Alchemy.  Raiders, PvPers, and levelers want potions, and Classic Alchemy delivered.

Unlike current retail, where the elixirs only allow you a Guardian and a Battle version. There is no cap on the number of elixir types you can have ticking, and people need what you are selling constantly.  Some of the best things to make were through fishing as well…

Free Action Potion – For 30 seconds you are immune to stuns and roots.  Flag carrier in WSG?  No problem, especially if you are a druid with speed boost in cheetah sprinting across the mid with this power up.

Health and Mana Pots – These go without saying, and while it was considered bad form to use a potion in a PvP setting, it’s all about the amount of kills you make per week, not just participating.

Water Breathing – Again fishing wins.  There are so many places to use these things in both leveling and out in the world, they are indispensable. Many of the quests take you under water, and with a 60 second breath timer for everyone but Forsaken and Druids, prepare to find buyers for these.

Buff Elixirs – Strength, Agility, Intellect, Fortitude, Mana and Health Regen, Spellpowers and Armor.  All usable at the same time.  Raiders have to farm for weeks to retain these for their raids.

Resistance Potions – You can’t kill Ragnaros or Huhu unless you’re rolling these potions.  They were considered stronger than health potions and guilds would often buy them and their reagents in bulk off the AH.  Everyone would keep them on hand.  They were also a blast to use in BGs, because you would be immune to most of the casters in the game.  They come in all the different flavors.

Transmutes – How do you get Thunderfury?  By bribing an army of Alchemists.

Toys and Piss-Off-People Pots – Elixir of Dream Vision could take you into areas to look around.  Gift of Arthas would give melee something to remember you by if they touched you.  Some potions detected undead, demons, and stealthed NPCs/players.  If you have no flares, Cat’s Eye was the next best thing and cheap, too.

Flasks – If you are fortunate enough to get into a Scholo run and have a ton of mats, you can make these at a profit almost all the time.  For the most part raiders will take care of themselves, but when you have BGs and weekly honor requirements, many people will take any advantage they can get.

Alchemy is the king of the professions in Classic.  Other professions pale in comparison to the sheer amount of gold opportunity you have otherwise.  The profession is not like the others where a person only needs them every so often, with Alchemy you have a mobile slot machine.

This concludes Part 2 of my Lil’ Survival Guide for Classic.  If you like what you’re reading, please be sure to comment, and if you have any suggestions for future guides please let me know.
Thanks for stopping in!

10 Things You Will Be Able To Do With Flying In Draenor

With the recent news from Blizzard today, apparently you WILL be able to fly around Draenor in a minor patch after 6.2, but only after completing a rather lengthy meta achievement which consists entirely of PvE content.  Don’t worry, no raiding required, no gold dumps, and it applies to your entire account.

As an aside, the debate was a virtual storming of the Bastille and cost tens of thousands of productive hours of lives that will never be refunded.  We all owe these Flying Justice Warriors (FJW) a debt of gratitude, because without their passion and sacrifice, we may not have won the day that will probably result in resubs of about zero.  For my part, I contributed nothing towards the debate, I was busy manning my lawnchair keeping FJWs off my lawn with my rocksalt and bucket of ice cold beer.  Back on track.

People are posting guides right now how to get those achievements done, but I, being the forward thinker that I am, am giving you a guide of things you will be able to do with that newfound flight ability, which will probably only cost you about 5-7 days of your life to retain.

  1. Hover above your garrison AFK rather than in front of the mission table.
  2. Sit AFK on top of the mountains between the zones.
  3. Sit AFK on top of the various houses, huts, inns, and domiciles at the various quest hubs
  4. Fly around completing all those puzzles that required leet jumping and walking skills.
  5. PvP Servers Only: Camp noobs without flying until they log out.
  6. Fly into your raid instances rather than walk into them.  This may destroy the World PvP scene single handedly.
  7. Level alts with flying. Goodbye immersion, hello Pan Am express!
  8. Actually use all those expensive store mounts in Draenor, which were always flyers, but not in Draenor. /confused
  9. Gather Herbs and Minerals faster.
  10. Finally complete Archeology to 700!

Everyone get pumped!

Thanks for stopping in!

My Lil’ Classic Warcraft Survival Guide

Given there’s so much interest in getting on a Vanilla/Classic Warcraft server today (not unusual, the content sucks so people always run for the hills when that happens) and playing the way we used to play in 2006, I figured a little information about my discoveries and findings would be of help to the community at large.  Not the retail fanboys, because they deserve what they get and what they have.

So You’ve Decided To Go Back In Time

I’ve already mentioned in the previous post my favorite server.  I like Feenix servers, which are GMT+2 and hosted somewhere in Eastern Europe the last I heard.  Click HERE to go to the website which requires you to set up an account in order to play.  For whatever reason, the website blocks most traffic originating from the USA, so US users will need to use a proxy.  Don’t have one or know what it is?  Google it.  I’m using Europroxy which I’ve found to be highly responsive and quick.  If you don’t want to play on Feenix, you can also play on the other sites like Vanilla Gaming or Nostalrius.

Revision (June 8, 2015):   Since first writing this article I have also rolled a character on Nostalrius to the teens and taken a look around.  For comparison’s sake, the population on this server would be equivalent to a Medium to High pop realm in retail.  The server was just opened this last February (2015) and doesn’t offer most of the end game like other servers.  Given time I’m sure they’ll work that out.  Questing is a little different from a Low-pop private server, since you have such a large population you will sometimes have to camp for spawns of lootable items and NPCs.  I did experience some latency issues, which is a little strange given I am not that far from the server compared to others.  Attractions include 1x Blizzlike experience, old-school AV, PvP ranking system in effect, and first tier raids are opening as well as Classic high level dungeons.  What I liked most?  Running into Ironforge and seeing the sheer number of level 60s hanging out like the old days, which sort of flies in the face of Classic interest deniers.  I’m coining that.  I also rate this server 4.5/5 stars for the immersion experience.

I personally like Feenix because it supports the game in several different ways.  This server originally started in 2005.  I’m really big on the old questing experience, and like my quests to be working.  Every so often I discover a bug, but it’s usually nothing gamebreaking.  They offer instant 60s, 12 times experience, and the good ol’ 1x Blizzlike experience.  I am currently beating my way through the 1x server known as Emerald Dream, but am converting over to Nostalrius.  If I was interested in actually raiding the content, I would play on one of the other servers they offer as raiding is supported better on them.  Emerald Dream is more a server that supports leveling and lots of PvP.  And since we miss the olden days, 1x it is.  The population of the server has unfortunately waned, as there are only a handful of progressed raiding guilds.  It also sports a large Chinese guild, filled with nice people who always party with you rather than tag-steal the named quest NPCs.  I give them 4/5 stars for the immersion experience, with that missing star because several of the major quest chains are buggy or broken entirely.  I say several, which means about 1 on average per zone cannot be completed.  If you want a leveling experience that is devoid of fighting for mobs and potential world pvp camping, this is the server for you.

I do have experience with Vanilla Gaming, and it’s a rather well run community.  They host a mirrored version of Wowhead from that time (see below).  It’s one of the older servers, started in 2009.  Questing on the server is a bit messed up for my tastes (loads of bugs) and loot tables from mobs are weird.  They tend to drop their entire normal loot table of gear with each kill.  Because this site offers 15 times leveling experience, a full loot table makes sense so you can always get gear off mobs that you might need.  This 15 times speed can be set to 1x speed with a simple command, and reverted.  As for immersion in the Classic experience, I would rate it 3/5 stars because the drops are buggy and quests are commonly broken.  You will often have to swap to 15x experience to make up for quests you cannot complete, and I don’t care for that.

Things to Remember

These servers are moderated and bad behavior is slapped down far better than on Blizzard’s servers.  They’re free to play, but that also doesn’t mean you are free to berate others.  From what I’ve found on my server, the game is populated by people that absolutely love the game for what it was, so prepare to be treated like a pariah if you’re a jackass.  Hey, just like the old days, nobody will want to play with you and you can’t just click a button to join dungeon queues. To make it easy on the eyes, I’ll put the rest into bullet points.

  • Loot ninjas get reported, shamed and actioned, unlike retail.  Toxic behavior generally results in outright bans.  Screenshots are your friends, otherwise it never happened.
  • You should expect people to be rather outgoing and interested in leveling with you if they see you on a quest or in a zone they are in.
  • Server residents are typically older players with experience going back 10+ years, but there are lots of interested people who have never seen this content before.
  • Many people also play retail, but many have left that world behind.
  • These people are serious fans of the game, so be prepared to see lots of people rattling off patches of the game they liked.
  • I’ve forgotten more about the game than you’ll probably ever know, but even I need reminding that certain classes lost an ability or certain things were used more often back then than today.
  • On most servers, the channel World is used as a catch-all general chat and can be read everywhere. This is how you will find groups for most everything.
  • The capital cities are generally vacant for a reason, people are busy leveling.  You won’t find much to do in the cities anyhow.  For Alliance, Ironforge is generally the hangout.  For Horde, Orgrimmar.
  • Questing is NOT linear (more on this in a bit), you will enter and exit the different zones multiple times while leveling.
  • Hit rating is in effect.  If the mob is +4 your level, expect to miss and have spells resisted commonly.
  • You have to level weapon skills along with defense skills again. Defense will level with you while level, but swapping from Axes to Two-Handed Swords will prove interesting.
  • Further, in 2006 we specced talent trees from level 10 in order to hit higher level mobs and bosses.  Perusing your server’s general forums is a great place to get build ideas.  While leveling, go with what you believe would work for you.  Since you will be doing quests with mobs that are +2 or +3 your level, getting hit rating is paramount.
  • Every 2 levels you will need to train new ranks of your skills.  Every level will award you a new talent point.
  • Gold doesn’t rain down from the sky.  Grinding for gold was common, and these Auction Houses are similar to a low population retail server.  Best advice – take up mining and herbalism first.  Don’t waste your money on silly things.
  • Join a leveling guild.  On my server, we have a few and in my guild generally we have 40-60 people on at any given time.  These will come in very handy when you need to do Elite quests.  Did I say Elite quests!?  Oh yeah, Hogger’s there.  Further, posting in world chat is off limits to you until you get to 20 (Feenix) so lowbie dungeons will be harder to form.
  • Back in the day, getting a level beyond about 20 was considered a moment to let people know.  DING!  This is commonly yelled and spammed in chats.  Common courtesy it to “grats” them.
  • Most every class comes with some form of crowd control.  Be prepared to use it while leveling because mobs are usually grouped together.  They usually leash within about 100-150 yards, but not always!
  • There are no heirlooms, glyphs, experience nerfs, and leveling will take you about 14 days played to get to 60.  Expect to see levels like 24-25 or 38-39 take you 3-4 hours to complete.  Your only buff is Rested XP.
  • Remember some classes will need to purchase reagents in order to perform buffs or cast some spells.
  • If you play melee – you have sharpening stones back.  If you are a caster, wizard and mana oil are available.  Hunters use different grades of arrows again!  These can help greatly while waiting on gear upgrades or boosting your character.
  • Share and share alike.  Don’t be selfish.  This was a game about making friends.  If you don’t need a particularly nice green for yourself, give to your friends or offer it to the guildies.  What comes around, goes around.
  • Aggro radii will seem ridiculous.  You’ll pull gray level mobs from 20 yards away.  Watch where you’re going.
  • Respawning mobs are going to drive you nuts. Clear to the center of a cave, only to have everything back up when you need to exit.  Kill quickly, but don’t pull too much because that is often deadly.
  • Drinking and eating will slow you down greatly.  Always have the best possible foods you can find on hand and afford without going broke.  Learn Cooking and Fishing to save on food costs and get stamina food buffs.  Alchemy is great for potions (2 minute cooldowns even in combat yay!).  First Aid should be one of your first professions.
  • When you die, be prepared for runbacks from the other side of the zone.  Flight points are not where you remember them, there is almost always only one flight point per zone, and in some cases NONE.
  • You have to treat this experience with a grain of salt.  It’s “like” playing the old game, it’s not exact.  There are bugs, mobs may act strangely, the server may crash for a minute, and you may not be able to complete all the quest lines as you remembered.  This is free to play, supported by someone else’s time and money.  Please respect that always.
  • While Blizzard currently turns a blind eye to private servers, take steps to try not to have their client running along side these programs.  Just fair warning, playing this way IS against the terms of use.  Odds of getting into trouble?  Pretty low, but one never knows if they’ll get cranky with the way their game is going today.

Addons

Many people think addons are the devil because they interfere with the experience.  The way I remember Classic, I had addons installed from the beginning because they make certain activities easier and you can monitor things better, like durability.  You’re going to die.  A LOT.

I’m not going to give you a complete addon installation guide, but you want to know where the game looks for them so you can use them.  Simply stated, the game looks in the WoWFolder/Interface/AddOns directory for the addons, and then populates them from there.  If there are no addons recognized, then you won’t get the “Addons” button on the login screen.

This should be self explanatory. (o.O)

Back in the time before everyone relied on Curse.com, we actually had to install our addons by hand.  You had to track updates yourself or at least have guildies let you know.  Thankfully, since the game is essentially frozen in time, there aren’t any updated addons to keep up with, and I’ve taken the liberty of hosting the vast majority of them HERE.

Go through and look for your favorite addons from today, they probably didn’t exist back then.  Many of them did exist, but are in states that you probably won’t recognize.  Getting them to function to your liking also required a little bit more knowledge.

Unzip the file, pick your favorite addons, and drop their folders into the Addons directory.  For reference, you should look at your retail addon directory structure if you are unsure how this works.  If you can’t get it working, then ask a friend.  And if neither of you can get them working, then addons aren’t for you!

Keep in mind that addons generally didn’t have fancy bells, buttons, or whistles.  You had to usually type /addonname to configure them.  And most addons came with a Readme.txt file.  Read them.

Questing and You: Can You Handle It?

Outside of the Level 1-5 Starter zones, the quests are scattered all over Azeroth.  The different zones may be familiar, but if you haven’t leveled a character since Wrath this may appear very confusing.  Questing relied on a person to be very inquisitive and curious, so you did a lot of exploration looking for the “!”, and they aren’t going to appear on your mini-map.  Turning them in will also require you to look for the yellow-dot on the mini-map, as the turn-in location is not always obvious.

If you’re going to wing it, my best advice is to go to the various zones and look for mobs to be within your range.  Cataclysm completely changed the playground, but here are the two maps showing you suggested character level maps.

Eastern Kingdoms

Kalimdor

While these show “70” in some zones, realize that locating anything from Classic Warcraft is just nigh impossible anymore, so just use your imagination.

But what if you get stuck on a quest?  Wowhead doesn’t support this content anymore, they’ve long since moved on (besides only getting started towards the close of Classic WoW anyhow).  Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.  A while ago, all that Wowhead data was dumped (or ripped) to another server database, which maintains everything (even the silly comments from back then) to this day.  This can be found at AoWoW, sponsored by Vanilla Gaming.  Pay no attention to the Wowhead graphics.  =)

Years ago, one of the best leveling guides in the game was published by Brian Kopp for Alliance, and Joana for Horde.  Just an aside here, but today’s guides and fansites all owe Brian Kopp a huge debt.  He was the first to take Blizzard on when they sued him over his guide, prevailed, and opened the door for others to publish things about the game at a profit.  The lawsuit was over copyright infringement, and I believe it was because he used photos from the game in his guide.  Could you imagine a world where Blizzard would have won?  No more sites with game graphics, no more anything.  Ahh, our favorite gamemaker.

Anyhow, thankfully I still remember his name, because I can Google it.  For those of you who are looking for a solid walkthrough of the quests and want to experience almost everything in the game from 1-60 without losing all your hair, Valkyrie-WoW published an in-game addon for leveling based on both Kopp’s and Joana’s guide.  In the first link it will lead you to the site you can get it, and you want version 1.04.2.  The guides back then bounce you back and forth between multiple zones, but that’s how the game was played.

At release of Classic, there weren’t even enough quests to level you to 60, they had to be added later!  So finding the best path to get there often took you between (for Alliance) Darkshore, Wetlands, Redridge, Duskwood, and Ashenvale one level after the other and back again.  Unlike today, where you will spend about 5 straight levels in each of those zones before leaving them.  It seemed crazy, but you had to watch whether a quest was actually orange, red, yellow, green or gray.  Stay within the yellows, and you’ll be just fine.

While questing is great and all, often times you will flat out have to grind for your levels.  There aren’t enough quests to get you far enough, or you may encounter a bugged quest (or worse a quest line).  You will just simply need to pick a yellow mob type, and kill them until you hit the next level.  Everyone remembers the parts they liked, but once you encounter little problems like these, you sort of realize why they changed the questing in Azeroth.

Playing In Groups

Outdoor dungeons are a reality for you again.  Elite quests are all over Azeroth, meaning you need to finish long quest chains so you can participate in them. Outdoor dungeons were elite mobs that were available to anyone in the world, and you will not be able to complete them solo.

They offer some of the better rewards and best experience so keep questing.  You will have to be social and locate groups, many times lowbies in your guild will want to knock out all the elite quests in a zone, so that’s the time to do them.  You have to kill quickly, drink quickly, and keep moving because the respawn rate for these mobs is very fast.  They are some of the most fun you’ll have in the game while leveling.

Unlike current Warcraft, CC is hardly ever needed.  So here’s what you need to know so you aren’t screwing up the groups!

Mage Sheep – Half-Moon

Warlock Seduce/Banish/Enslave – Diamond

Rogue Sap – Star

Hunter Trap – Blue Square (be prepared to kite the target, traps aren’t launched nubby)

Druid Root, Shaman Hex – Green Triangle

Priest Mind Control/Shackle – Orange Circle (lovingly called the condom)

Make sure all raid buffs go out.  If you are the lead, make sure you mark so everyone knows their jobs.  If noone is marking, you’re odds of success diminish.  These require coordination.  They’re very challenging because generally the group is always lacking a tank and it’s 4 or 5 dps, and a healer if you’re touched.

Reputation Is Actually Important

Blizzard took mercy on the poor in later expansions, but if you’re playing Classic, your wealth is almost determined by your reputation with the various factions.  You have to buy water, food, reagents, crafting goods, and most importantly your mounts.  The mounts are NOT cheap in this content.

At level 40, your mount training will cost you 90g.  The mount will be another 9g.

At level 60, your epic mount training will cost you 600g.

All of these items can be reduced in cost by reputation.

  • 5% off for Friendly
  • 10% off for Honored
  • 15% off for Revered
  • 20% off for Exalted

About every 15 levels you will have the opportunity to turn in Wool Cloth, Silk Cloth, Mageweave, and Runecloth to each faction.  Best advice:  Turn the cloth in to your racial faction to get your mount out of the way, everything else can wait.

Good Luck, Have Fun

Everyone who plays Classic/Vanilla Warcraft has their reasons.  Some just want to get shoulder deep in nostalgia, some want to see the changes they’ve made to the game, some just want to be ported back to when the game made sense to them, and others are just chasing that free play time.  Whatever the reason, everyone’s choice is their own.  The most important thing is that you have fun while paying homage to one of the greatest releases in the game’s history.

You should now be armed and ready to re-experience, or experience if you’re a newbie to Classic, everything that you’ve forgotten about the unforgiving Classic World of Warcaft.  If you decide to take up the old ways, feel free to send me a PM on Consortium if you’re headed to Feenix.  I may not be here forever, but I’m always up to try to help.

Thanks for stopping in!