What Other Pains will WoW Classic Bring?

Over at Massively OP Syp published a Perfect Ten column about the perils of getting what you ask for in the form of WoW Classic.

WoW Client from Days Gone By

The list he came up with is almost charming in its scope, featuring things some people have been literally clamoring for in a vanilla server, like no Dungeon Finder and old school talent trees and new skills that don’t magically appear in you skill book.  And believe me, inventory space is still at a premium in WoW Legion today.  We have three damn hearthstones to start with.

So I started trying to come up with other aspects of vanilla WoW that people might have forgotten or actively suppressed from their memory.  So, to steal Syp’s idea and add to the list, here are a few that stick out for me:

Just Being Poor

Gold was scarce and you would collect every bit of gray trash to vendor just for the few silver coins it might bring.  One of my earliest memories of World of Warcraft is going to my class trainer and realizing that I did not have enough coins to train all of my skills.  This got a little better as time went on but, like so many things, it seemed to be especially burdensome for new players.

Expensive Epic Mounts

Even when you think you’re no longer poor you end up running into this.  I don’t even remember the price of the level 60 fast mount, but you had to buy the skill, which was expensive, and then you had to buy a mount, which wasn’t cheap either.  And then there were the paladin and warlock mounts, both of which had long quests, needed the skill, and cost even more to finally acquire.  Our little group did both of those.

The instance group all mounted up

Mounts in Inventory

And if you are worried about inventory slots, then you might have blotted the fact that your mount took up a spot in your bag.  You kept your favorite mount with you and, if you had others, you left them stashed in your bank… which was probably also full.

You Are Mounted

It seemed like any mob that tagged you would dismount you.  But if you went to a flight point and tried to get on the bird while still mounted, you would just get an error message flash on your screen informing you that you were still mounted.  At one point Blizz tried to go through and automatically make you dismount when a task required it, but there are still a few corner cases in the game where you can get that message.  But back in the day you had to manually dismount for damn near everything.

Point to Point Flight Paths

While we’re on the topic of travel, flight points were different back then.  While being able to fly past flight points you hadn’t visited is a more recent change, back in the day you couldn’t even automatically fly through multiple flight points.  Sitting up in Darnassus and want to fly to Tanaris?  It didn’t matter if you have the whole route on your map, you could only fly to a flight point directly connected to your current location, at which point your trip would stop until you talked to that flight master and picked the next connecting flight point.  Non-stop flights eventually came, but for a long stretch you had to get off the bird to catch your connecting flight.

Still, it probably wasn’t as bad as taking the tram from Stormwind to Ironforge, getting distracted, and then finding yourself heading back to where you started again.

Hunters with Ammo and Quivers

I still have a few old hunters I rolled up back in the day on various servers that still have quivers or ammo pouches with ammo in them.  Hunters were really this strangely different class back in the day, which I think explains some of the love/hate relationship people have with the class even today.

So yes, you had to have ammo for your ranged weapon.  And you had access to better ammo as you leveled up, and getting that was pretty much critical to remaining effective.  And then there was player made ammo, which was a bit better… and also came in various levels.

And all this ammo had to go into your inventory, taking up precious space.  And if you wanted to draw ammo from inventory you had to keep it in a quiver or an ammo pouch, something that took up a whole bag slot.  Basically, hunters had four bags of general inventory while every other class had five.  Whoever thought that was a good idea had never done The Green Hills of Stranglethorn.

Hunter Pet Skills

This was one of those neat ideas that became awkward as you progressed.  Like every other class, Hunters had to go back to their trainer to get and upgrade their skills.  But not all of them were available to the trainer.  Some pet skills you had to learn in the wild.  What that meant was putting your pet in the stable (three slots only, no epic collections of pets back then), running out into the wild without your essential combat buddy, finding a mob with the skill you wanted to learn, taming that mob, then fighting along side it for a while before you would finally learn the skill, at which point you would abandon that pet and head home to teach your pet the skill and then carry on with your adventures.

Hunter Pet Levels

Hunter pets had their own independent level back in the day.  If you liked the model of a level 10 lion… like The Rake in the Barrens, with its special fast attack speed… but were level 30 already, you would have to go level up your pet to catch it up to your level.  And the only way to do that was to grind mobs.  You had to be really dedicated to a particular model to level up a pet more than a few levels.

Hunter/Pet Relationship

Again with the hunters… I know, but they were special and popular and helped make Azeroth what it is today.  But first they had to suffer.

So hunters also had a relationship with their pet based on being fed and letting them die and just fighting together.  A happy pet did more damage, so you wanted to keep them happy, which primarily meant keeping them well fed.  So in addition to having a while bag slot roped off and dedicated for ammo, you also had to keep a stack or two of pet food in your bags.  And not just any food, but the RIGHT food.  Some only ate meat, some only dairy, others a variety.  There was nothing like being out in the field and finding you were short of food and the only vendor around only sold something your pet wouldn’t eat.

And it was possible that, if neglected, you pet might run away.  I never had that happen, but the thought of it was enough for me to pack an extra stack or two of food… because stacks were only 20 units back in the day.

The Elf Run to Ironforge

If you made a Night Elf back in the day, you were probably found yourself pretty much alone over in Darnassus while your friends we all over having fun in Stormwind and Ironforge.  The reason you were alone was that Westfall was one of the best early zones and led to the Deadmines instance, so nearly every night elf before you had already gone there.  Getting there meant taking the ship to Menethil Harbor and then making the perilous run across the Wetlands to Dun Algaz and the tunnel that would bring you to the zone with Ironforge.

The Elf Run

Of course, the Wetlands was a level 20+ zone and you were likely level 10 tops… so everything could kill you and your aggro radius was huge.  And then, if you did make it and were a druid… well… you class trainer was back in Darnassus, which could be awkward.  But at least you had a travel form.  You did train the travel form, right?

Strange Dungeons

The current design philosophy for dungeons in Azeroth is like the old slogan for Dominos, “30 minutes or less.”  New ones are designed in that scope while older ones have been mostly trimmed back to that goal.

But back in vanilla WoW the design philosophy seemed to be… hrmm… more like, “We’re just doing something that seems cool!”

So instead of being configured for one run, some instances seemed to be designed for multiple visits.  Everybody’s favorite early instance, The Deadmines, had a level split from the start to the end that was wide enough that if you were set for Van Cleef the start of the run was all gray to you.  The Wailing Caverns were a long and confusing crawl.  Uldaman was another with a wide level gap designed for multiple runs… and the worst death respawn location ever.  There were three wings to Scarlet Monastery, but just getting there as alliance was a chore.  Then there was the epic puzzling majesty that was the original Sunken Temple.

And many of these had quest lines that tied them to the zone they were located, so you would have to do at least some of the zone in order to get the quests. (Otherwise, for example, Gryan Stoutmantle wouldn’t shout your name to the whole zone after you defeat Van Cleef.)  I look back at our instance runs through vanilla back in the 2006 to 2008 range and times were a lot different.  (Also, if you want to wallow in nostalgia I have a video from our first year and another one devoted just to Sunken Temple.)

It was, when it came to five person dungeons, a very different time.

The Great Stranglethorn Quest Gap

One of the things Syp mentioned was quests not filling in the experience gap to keep you advancing.  But that one is a lot deeper.  The thing is, quests were fine, you just had to make sure you did them all across a couple of zones.  For example, I would move back and forth between Stormwind and Ironforge, each of which had their own early zones, and do all the quests in both areas.  Doing that would keep you moving into appropriate level content and was easy enough to find.

Eventually though you were funneled into Stranglethorn Vale, with quests both odd and annoying, crowded with the flow of players, and unable to provide the experience boost needed to get you past it via questing alone.  There was a reason I had a number of characters sitting levels between 35 and 40 unplayed for ages.

If you went and did some research you could find Desolace as a possible alternative, though getting there from Menethil Harbor would take you an hour or so, if you didn’t get lost.  And there, in the pre-Maraudon days the quest chains were… odd?  You could end up running around trying to quest there, Arathi, or in the Swamp of Sorrows and still find yourself coming up short.  Or that was how it felt.  But once you got past that hurdle to about level 45 or so, more options started to open up, and from 50 to 60 there was almost an embarrassment of choices.  This was one of the reasons that Blizzard went back and filled in the Dustwallow Swamp with a bunch of additional quests.


There are many others.  Useless trade skills, no quest locations on the map, dancing for tips, restricted class roles in raids, five minute pally buffs, Addons yet to be imagined, and more swim in and out of view in my brain.  But these are the ones I wanted to put on the growing list of what to possibly expect from WoW Classic.

Addendum: I case it is not clear, I embrace all of these items as part and parcel of the original experience and, in case you haven’t read any of my past posts about wanting something like WoW Classic Blizzard, I will be there on day one when it is launched,

24 thoughts on “What Other Pains will WoW Classic Bring?

  1. Hirvox

    The uneven distribution of quests was one of the reasons why it felt like a world. Even outside low-level zones, some areas clearly favored one faction over the other, and sometimes the other faction didn’t even have a flight master there, let alone quests neatly available in a hub. Even if you had a flight master, hostile zones were often lacking in services, so you had to make trips back home to off load vendor trash, return quests, drop off gathering materials and stock up on supplies. For example, getting to Badlands as Horde sure felt like an adventure when both ways were blocked by Alliance-only zones. And if you took the southern route, you not only had to dodge endgame mobs but also hostile dungeoneers who were gathering their party before venturing forth.


  2. Skarlarth

    Oh the memories of trying to do Green Hills of Stanglethorn as a hunter back in the day… having to keep a post-it note of what pages i had sitting in the bank down at Booty Bay so I knew what to keep and what to sell, and what to put on the AH…


  3. Bhagpuss

    My six months in WoW was solidly in WotLK. To date it precisely, my six months ended within a week of the introduction of the Dungeon Finder. That was five years after WoW launched and two expansions past what we’re calling Vanilla but even then a lot of what both you and Syp list is largely how i remember things.

    The one really major difference is the Hunter pet system. I played a hunter and early on I read up a lot of information on how the class worked, which was all as you describe…and then I found almost all of it had been changed. Or some of it. I actually can’t recall now what was still in and what had gone – I know the whole pet taming and feeding was out. But it had only just gone before I started, I think…

    Arrows were still in though, I’m pretty sure of that. All of which suggests to me that whatever version of “Vanilla” Blizzard settle on is going to annoy as many people – almost certainly a lot more, actually – than it pleases. I just want to play a hunter with the full pet taming in operation – not really bothered about much of the rest of it.


  4. Jenks

    Hunter was my first character at launch, and what hunters were vs what they are now is really sad. They stripped everything that made them unique. I loved leveling up fishing and cooking to feed my pet, mining and engineering to make myself guns and ammo, taming pets to learn skills to teach my main pet. The hunter kit today is pretty pathetic by comparison all in the name of accessibility.

    And for long dungeons, I’m pretty stoked about revisiting the greatest dungeon of all time, BRD. They don’t make em like they used to.


  5. Shintar

    I’m not sure whether to write this comment in the past or present tense, considering that some memories are still very fresh from my private server adventures. It’ll probably be a mix of both.

    The scarceness of money in the early levels is really quite striking. The worst thing is when it feels like you’re finally accumulating some gold, then you hit an even level, and literally all of it goes down the drain for skill training. I get the impression that it wasn’t quite the same for all classes though, with some definitely having more and more expensive skills to pay for. Also, choosing the right gathering profession and selling the accumulated results on the auction house could do wonders for your wallet.

    I had totally forgotten about the “You Are Mounted” thing until I re-encountered it on the private server. It makes me want to yell at the screen every time I fail to take a flight because being on a horse while talking to the flight master is clearly too much of a strange obstacle to overcome.

    The hunter/pet relationship was definitely something else. It was actually worst at the beginning, when your pet was unhappy right after taming and wanted to be fed all the time just to retain some level of contentment. Could be quite panic-inducing to run out of the appropriate food in the middle of nowhere.

    Going back to Darnassus as a druid wasn’t actually so bad because they got a class-specific spell to teleport to Moonglade, from where it was only a short and free flight to Darnassus.

    And it’s nice to see someone speak out against the “there weren’t enough quests in Vanilla” myth! I never quite understood that myself. Yeah, the 30s were a pain, because how many times did you really want to travel between STV, Arathi, Desolace and Shimmering Flats, but the quests were definitely there. You just had to know where to look.


  6. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Hirvox – I remember being alliance and sitting at the south end of The Barrens trying to get on the elevator down so I could get to a flight point further down the line. The one at the edge of Feralas served, if I recall right.

    @Jenks – I will, without a doubt, roll another dwarf hunter when WoW Classic rolls around and he will have engineering and mining as skills. Some things are worth the effort.

    @Shintar – The economy is going to be hilarious. People will be coming from current WoW, where spending 1,000 gold is something you probably don’t think that much about… you might pause before you buy, but likely it isn’t an agonizing choice… to an auction house catering to people who might not have enough gold scraped together to buy their skills. People will inevitably list way, way too high and then rage when they get under cut and so on. I look forward to a stretch of self-sufficiency, at least until I hit the Green Hills of Stranglethorn Vale quest.

    I’ll be glad to see the raceway running out at Shimmering Flats again.


  7. SynCaine

    My argument, which hopefully vanilla delivers so I can test, is what while on paper all of what you list can be seen as ‘bad and should be fixed’, when combined together into one actual game, it all oddly worked to make something that was memorable and actually rewarded the work you put in.

    Completing an actually-good quest felt better in vanilla because not only did you do the quest itself, but you also dealt with all the other stuff listed above. If all that is streamlined, you consume the actually-good quests at a much faster pace, and all of it meshes together into one meh mess.


  8. Hordling

    Hunters: the whole immersion thing with hunters having to do stuff with their pets was unique and the watered down version available now is sad. A gem from the day; we were running a 30ish level dungeon, maybe uldemun, maybe razorfen downs, something with a special bat in it. The hunter with us tamed this special bat, then he found bats need fruit food and he didn’t have any, and no way to get it in the middle of the dungeon. By the end of the instance the bat had wandered off because it was hungry, and that hunter was pissed.
    Warlocks: while the hunter ammo bag was a space hog, warlocks were worse. As a raiding lock in BC, I had two bags devoted to soul shards for our BT raids. I had to get on a half an hour before raid, hit the lake north of shatt to drain the souls of the worms in the lake to fill those bags up. You could just drain anything, it had to have a high enough level that it would drop a soul shard. The lake worms were the perfect density of enough mobs, spawned fast, and didn’t pull too large a group.
    General: my biggest beef about early wow vs now is that in early wow I felt like I was always in danger out in the world. Step the wrong way and you’d pull three mobs and die, just like that. In current wow, I can just charge around, if I get to many I can just run off from them, or pop a few cooldowns and kill them anyway. In BC, the instances could be brutal. You HAD to use crowd control. I ran a warrior tank and I became quite skilled at building a party with the required 2 types of crowd control to get through dungeons. Going to a place with undead… better bring a priest, humanoids, where’s my mage with sheep, etc. There was one pack in shattered halls, where 7 elite mobs descended on you at once, that I was never able to get through with the single target aggro that a warrior provided. Rather than looking back on it as a game defect, the fact that such challenges existed in early wow made it a better game. Current wow is kind of washed out and uninteresting by comparison. The magic of wow is gone, now it’s more like going to a movie you’ve seen before.


  9. Pallais

    Ah, Uldaman. I helped so many run that instance because Blizzard decided to put the Enchanting upper level trainer in there. ^_^ I think I could still run back from the graveyard in my sleep.


  10. Ngita

    100g and 1000g for the mounts.

    Hunters had ammo. But Warlocks had soul stones, Our warlock would walk into MC with every slot filled as destruction. Mages would sit casting max level waters at 3 per cast. Even as a pally I might have 4-5 stacks of reagents.

    I don’t think i ever experienced the STV gap. I would head off to desolate, pick up the precursors for Scarlet dungeon quests and generally by the time that was all wrapped up be 40. But I tried to spread around how I leveled, so I did Ashenvale->Stonetalon mountains->Desolace->Feralas for example at least once, I even did the pitiful few and quite broken alliance quests in Aszhara.

    Their are still a lot of people with rose coloured glasses about classic. What can you do when someone is sure that anniversary dragons are harder and more annoying then the originals…


  11. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Ngita – I did a quick Google on the price and came up with 1000g (with faction discount depending on your standing) and that just seemed so ludicrously cheap by today’s standards that I couldn’t bring myself to put it in the post. It just seemed like it had to be wrong. Yet that was so much gold that a lot of people purchased illicit RMT gold to get theirs.


  12. Krumm

    Wilheilm, oh the memories…I was a Hunter as a Main during vanilla. I took my Dwarf as a lowbee up that same road from ironforge through lockmoden throught the wetlands (Dyeing every 10 feet to orcs, spiders, gators, and raptors) to get to the ship to sail to the elf lands. I actually did all my leveling with the elves as I wanted to be able to ride that giant cat. Remember racial faction reps you had to be exalted with that race to ride its mount. I grinded the elf rep and got exalted with them about level 45…perfect as I had just gotten the ability to ride some 5 levels ago and still far from the 60 cap. Its do’able you run throught all of teldrassil/darnassus island then move to darkshore, ashenvale, desolace and then feralis.
    Your memory on taming various mobs for the ability to learn higher level hunter pet abilities is spot on. I’ also speant all day waiting in the tree outside of ratchet….as a dwarf to tame Humar the Pridelord. Oh that’s a long spawn time. I am so looking to redo that journey.

    I want that vanilla server experience….pretty graphics are something they can work on later for it (I’m undecided on if it would ruin the experience or not…or make it better),


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  14. Telwyn

    My first thoughts were:
    -scrolling quest text
    -so many deaths to normal mob overpulks
    -the real threat of drowning if underwater
    -back to everything taps: competing for all the things.

    Honestly I’d love to experience classes as they were again, especially Shaman. But I doubt new Classic servers will achieve server communities and with all the old-school issues with kill stealing, resource and chest stealing etc I wonder just how pleasant these servers will actually be to play on…


  15. Space Noob

    Ah, the Wetlands run. It sounds bad and yet down the years is one of my great nostalgia moments from playing the game. There’s nothing like yelling at a screen because a six legged crocodile leapt out of a ditch and chased you halfway across a zone.

    On a side note, let’s hope world boss kiting is back too.


  16. Gevlon

    Desolace was my GFs favorite zone, with Maraudon her favorite dungeon, so we always went there. The night elf zones were my favorite, with BFD favorite dungeon, so the run was done backwards.

    What is that nonsense about being poor and expensive epic mount? I had the money for it before I had the levels for the normal mount.


  17. Kryss

    Lists “why vanilla bad” are cute and all, of but ppls making them tends to forget there is already hundreds of thousands players on private classic wow servers, who live now with all that badness and still love it.


  18. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Gevlon – You consistently suffer from the fallacy of thinking that if something was easy for you, then it should be easy for everybody. And yet, if you read other blogs, and I am pretty sure you do, it should be pretty obvious that other people don’t always play the way you do. It is a leisure activity. There is a lot of variety in how people play. The “right” way to play is the way that you enjoy.

    @Kryss – If you had been a follower of my site at all you would have known I am a huge fan of the whole WoW Classic idea. I didn’t say these were bad… and I even have a comment above saying I am totally rolling a hunter when these go live… so maybe don’t just go from site to site spreading your own brand of bile without reading and understanding. Trying to police the internet is cute and all, but shows a lack of depth. This was much more a “back in my day” “uphill both ways in the snow” endeavor.


  19. Anon

    @Gevlon: yeah http://archive.is/feBee , most people are terrible compared to low level botting.
    I’m sure that was the first time you ever thought of doing that, and that you never let it move the mouse. puts a lot of your station trading and action house stuff in perspective.


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