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!