Category Archives: World of Warcraft

Running to Ragefire Chasm Again – This Time For Sure!

Part three of our Ragefire Chasm tale, in which we return to the scene of the crime. (Parts One and Two if you are so inclined.)

1pm rolled around… it is actually a bit of a boon that we’re all in the same time zone I suppose… and Bung and his son showed up and, surprisingly, seemed okay with the idea of making the run to Orgrimmar.  It looked like we might get a crack at Ragefire Chasm after all.

Of course, they had to start the run again.  I hadn’t left Booty Bay, so I sailed back over to Ratchet again and ran up the left bank of the Southfury river again to park myself at the west gate to Orgirmmar yet again.

This screen shot appears in all three posts!

I began to consider that it might have taken us less time and effort to run this instance if we had just rolled up a fresh group of Horde characters on Saturday morning, got them up into the level range, and just sauntered into the Cleft of Shadows in Orgrimmar.  But the sunk cost fallacy is strong with us.  We were committed.

Skronk got us all in a group and they began the run across the Wetlands while I went out into the back yard to grill myself a burger.  Lacking hamburger buns, I used a plain bagel, for which crime my daughter said I should leave and not come back. (A plain bagel makes a perfectly cromulent substitute for a bun in my book.)

They made their way to Methenil Harbor, then took the boat to Darkshore and began the run down the coast then across Ashenvale and into The Barrens, eventually arriving at my perch where we grouped up for another set of rushes and deaths.

Obama, Skronk, Chad, Jeepy, and Scscla

Everybody was down to their skivvies again as we tried to describe our past experience and possible tactics to the two new members of the team.  We also described the route and, having already made the map from the last post, I dropped that in Discord so they could see where we were headed.

The route to Ragefire Chasm again

There was some hope that with more of us there might be more distractions for the guards leading to greater leaps forward and perhaps fewer deaths.

Then I stepped up with Chad to once again lead the charge.  I remained optimistic that somehow my rogue skills would help me.  I eschewed stealth, that doing nothing save slow me down the last time, and plunged in, setting off evasion as the guards started to move.

I don’t know if that worked, but a good old fashioned side-step dodge seemed to go well.  The guard was mid swing and I just went around him and fired off my sprint to get well onto the bridge before being cut down.  The numbers did seem to help and Scscla passed through all of us, making it way down the line before dying.

At least I got into the city on the first run this time

Only Skronk had a bad rush, getting whacked by the guards as they ran back from slaying me, leaving his corpse not too far past mine.

Still, it seemed like an auspicious start for most of us.  And the second and third runs seemed to go very well as Obama and I made it to the end of the long ess valley to die at the first sharp corner.

After that it became a bit of a slog.  There are a lot of guards and other NPCs about, not to mention a few players keen to take a shot at us.

At least there were signs to point the way

There were a number of times when we had to take solace that even a two or three step rush moved us forward thanks to the radius in which you can revive.

Eventually we made it within sight of the instance.

It is just over there…. one or two runs left

I had a good run this time around, having made it in only eight deaths.  I think Skronk hit ten this time around due to some bad luck at the start.  I think with some very good luck you might be able to make it in six or seven, but you’re still going to be running from the graveyard quite a bit.

So there we were, in our first instance.

Through the portal at last

That probably means I should introduce the full group in the style of the posts from the old days.  We were:

  • Scscla – level 16 warrior
  • Chadwicke – level 15 rogue
  • Obama – level 15 warlock
  • Jeepy – level 14 mage
  • Skronk – level 13 priest

And after all of the work and words getting everybody to this point, I wish I had some riveting tales from Ragefire Chasm.

Time to kill worms I guess

The problem is that it is something of a low-to-middling dungeon that doesn’t really have any standout features.

Granted, I am sure that is part by design.  It is the first dungeon in the game by levels and as something players are supposed to take on in their mid-teens when most classes do not yet have all of their skills yet, it has to be somewhat simple.

It’s main theme is many mobs standing around in groups with some patrolling mobs scattered about.  It teaches players how to pull (with some fun line of sight options possible), do crowd control, maintain situational awareness, and generally focusing on burning down targets one at a time.

And graphically, well, it isn’t bad.  It is better looking than any Lost Dungeons of Norrath instance I suppose.  Put there isn’t a lot of “there” there.

Still, for us, a mechanically simple dungeon was probably what we needed.  With Scscla a new tank and Obama new to the whole WoW dungeon thing (he was born about when we formed the instance group) and me learning how to play the very positional rogue class and Jeepy with a fresh mage. I guess only Skronk was in the same place as before, playing the dwarf priest to heal the group.  And I am sure even he needed a warm up.

The run went pretty well.  Things went wrong a few times, with aggro getting pulled off the tank or people running around trying to grab the right target.  But we only had a couple of deaths and one wipe.  The wipe happened when Obama’s void walker, which we were using to off-tank extra mobs on pulls, got a wild hare up its backside and ran off for no apparent reason into the middle of some mobs.  We were standing there after a fight and way off to my left I saw a void walker flash on by, heading into some mobs off to the side.  Given that some of the NPCs here were warlocks and had void walker pets, it could have been nothing.  But then Obama’s void walker was nowhere to be seen and we knew we had a problem.

The void walker died and soon all the mobs it had aggro’d came running straight at us.

Here they come

We stood and fought and brought down a few, but ended up dead.

But what is one more run from the graveyard on Razor Hill?  At least we knew the way.  In fact, we were all pretty familiar with the layout of Durotar and Orgrimmar by that point I think.  You don’t get that sort of on the ground knowledge with the Dungeon Finder.

Ready for another go

We finished off the final boss and took the traditional end of instance group picture.  Well, that is actually Jergosh the Invoker, who is the next to last boss, but we did last boss, Bazzalan, before him, because we missed a turn-off, so Jergosh was the last boss down.

There we are again

There were a few decent drops, but nothing spectacular.  We all gained a level along the way, but in the mid-teens it would have been hard not to gain a level killing that many mobs.

Viewed objectively, there wasn’t much reason for us to go to Ragefire Chasm.  There was no Alliance quest that sent us there.  The rewards were paltry.  And the time spent… well… we pretty much burned our entire weekend play time budget and then some setting up this venture.  We could have probably just focused on leveling up in Westfall on Saturday and some of Sunday and maybe been set for the Deadmines.

But we had never done it before, at least not at level.  When I looked back at our previous pre-Dungeon Finder run at the instance, it was during Wrath of the Lich King and four of us went in mostly to get the achievement.  We had some problems on that run… that was back when Blizz was having issues spawning dungeon instances.  But this time we did it the hard way, at level, with a real group, because we wanted to say we’d done it.

Which is the sort of opportunity WoW Classic gives you.

The instance done we decided to use this as an opportunity to lay down some groundwork for future efforts.  We ran back to the entrance and took off our gear again.

That was a bit of a problem for some, as our limited bag space had filled up, but we managed even if some people had to trash their goo collections.

Then we stepped out into the Cleft of Shadow again and ran around and danced and cavorted with the somewhat stunned Horde players who were hanging around the portal.

Just time for a catch phrase

Eventually they decided to kill us, but we were hanging out there for longer than we probably should have.

That put us back at the graveyard at Razor Hill, where we had the angel revive us, taking the ress sickness and the durability hit.  Then we made the run short run to Ratchet and picked up the flight point. (And got dressed and maybe sold some stuff to a vendor.)

From there it was down to the dock to take the boat to Booty Bay so that everybody could get the flight path there before calling it.

Waiting at the dock

That was a long effort, and by the time we were ready to take the boat I was ready to log off.  But we were now setup to get over to Kalimdor and The Barrens, something that will become useful with the Wailing Caverns on the list of upcoming instances.

But next up is the Deadmines.  The level target is 18 and I have to get Chad caught up on the quest line in Westfall as he was absent when we were helping Jeepy along there on Saturday night.

Our Ragefire Chasm Plan Falls Apart at the Meeting Stone

This story carries on from yesterday’s post.  If you need context, you should start there.

We left off with my rogue, Chad, sitting outside of the west gate of Orgrimmar, having scouted our route to the city with an eye towards our group running the Ragefire Chasm instance.

Bridge to Orgrimmar

We just had to get everybody together with me so we could begin working on getting to the instance.

Skronk and Ula both had characters on and were ready to go.  The Bung and his son logged on and we started to finalize the group.  Bung’s son, who I will call Nuget since that is his handle on Discord, had a level 13 warlock ready to go, which was perfect.  Bung on the other hand had been uncertain about which class he want to play.  In the face of that he apparently rolled up on of each option and played them to level 8 or 9.  He had decided on a mage, but he was only level 9 as of when he logged in on Saturday, so was well shy of the suggested level range of the dungeon.  Moreover, at level 9 he would be something of an aggro magnet trying to make the run to Orgrimmar.

We had to change up our plan.

We decided that three of us should run to Orgrimmar… I was already there… and get to the instance so as to use the meeting stone to summon Jeepy, Bung’s mage, to us once he had leveled up some.  Obama, Nuget’s warlock would help him with that while we got in place.

Now, before you rush to the comment section to tell me what was wrong with this plan let me get that out of the way.

The meeting stones in WoW Classic do not allow you to summon players.

That is probably the most direct comment on their functionality you can find on the internet right now.

Figuring that out, however, was not straightforward.  The meeting stones are there in their long standing locations outside of each instance.  They had been there since WoW 1.3 or so and had been used for a couple of things on the way to the WoW Classic version of 1.12.

However, the actual “three players can summon somebody to the stone” aspect of them was not put in until The Burning Crusade launched.  I have distinct memories of us using the stones to summon people in the group, but we formed the group in September of 2006, just a few months before TBC launched.  So we were able to summon as we worked our way though the instances in vanilla.  Given that was more than a dozen years ago, all of that has blurred together in the mix of time in my own brain.

Finding something that definitively stated whether or not you could summon was something else.  There is a lot of stuff out there about the meeting stones, but not so much specifically about WoW Classic.  People in General Chat said the meeting stones were there and I visually verified this.

Meeting Stone outside the Stockades

But we didn’t try summoning anybody to make sure that feature was in place.

So cool your jets on that and just smile knowingly as I tell our tale.

Skronk and Scscla (pronounced “shizz-la”) made the run and caught up with Chad.  We were levels 13, 16, and 15 respectively, stripped down with our gear in our bags, and ready to take our first run at Orgrimmar.

Ready to go

Here is how you get this done.  You run into the city until the guards kill you.  Your ghost runs back from the graveyard (which is way down at Razor Hill in Durotar in this case) until you get with in resurrect range of your corpse.

Paths back to your corpse

For the first part of the run you want to go back via the bridge you came in over.  After a you get into Orgrimmar proper it becomes easier to just run in through the front gate… though you do have to know a bit about Orgrimmar to find the spiral ramp up to the level where your corpse hopefully is.  Also, watch out for that canyon area along the Southfury River in Durotar on the run back.  Falling in is annoying, requiring you to run out the end of the canyon.  Also there are gaps that humans can clear in a jump that gnomes and dwarves cannot.  Some gnomes and dwarves at least.

Once back to your corpse there is a circular area in which you can resurrect which is generously sized… you can laugh at the locals standing right on your corpse… so you go to the point the furthest along your intended path, hit the button to revive yourself, and start running again until you die or get to your objective.  In our case that was the Ragefire Chasm instance portal in the Cleft of Shadows in Orgrimmar.  Through that we were safe.

The route to Ragefire Chasm

Being a rogue with all my rogue skills, I volunteered to be the first to run at the guards, hoping that some combo of stealth, evasion, and sprint would get me at least across the bridge.  While I attracted the attention of the guards Skronk and Scscla could get past and get some distance in.

That didn’t quite go the way I thought.  Stealth did nothing for a start, save for slow me down.  The guard quite obviously saw some human in his skivvies hunched over and tip toeing up to his position, so ran right at me swinging his axe.  But at least I provided the distraction.

First corpse of the assault

After we were dead Scscla and Skronk both said they had gotten flagged PvP, which is what happens automatically when you enter an enemy home city.  I did not get so flagged.  You can see my corpse behind the guard on the right, which fell just shy of the bridge.  I didn’t even make it into Orgrimmar on the first run.  Skronk at least made it onto the bridge, while Scscla managed to scamper over the crown and down the other side a ways.

And with each death we had to come back from the graveyard at Razor Hill in Durotar, which was a good five minute run.  But at least that let the cool down on my perhaps less than completely useful rogue skills run down.

But with each death, even if we only made it a few steps, the revive radius let us get somewhat more forward.

Over the bridge!

We just had to keep going until we made it into the Cleft of Shadows and the instance, so we revived, ran, died, returned to the scene, and did it all again.

Running back as ghosts just to die again

Sometimes we made a good run.  Sometimes we died just a few steps from our last corpse.  But every death carried us forward.  There was a nice moment at that button-hook turn where we found that you could go up the path, get out of revive range, turn the corner and come back, only to be back in range again.

It took Scscla 8 deaths before she made it into the instance.  Skronk took 9 deaths, while Chad had to die 10 times before he made it in.  That last death was a heartbreaker too, coming pretty much on the one yard line.  But on revive he was able to jump on in.

Into the instance at last

There we were, in the instance at last, ready for the next step of the plan.

Commemorative “We Made It!” screen shot

Jeepy was already level 11 at that point, so we figured we might as well try to summon him.  Our plan was to step out of the instance, take the few steps to the meeting stone, and try to do the summon thing as quickly as possible.  We hashed out the dynamics of how to do that aloud, refreshing and correcting our flawed memories of the days before the Dungeon Finder.

As we recalled, one person had to select the person to be summoned, then click on the summoning stone, after which the other two people had to click on the summoner in order to complete the process to bring the person to the stone.  We repeated that a few times, Skronk said he would be the summoner, we got Jeepy and Obama in the group, and we got ourselves right to the edge of the portal back into town.  Then Skronk said “Go” and we stepped through.

And nothing happened.  We were there, the meeting stone was in front of us, but we couldn’t summon.  We ran back in the instance.  We thought maybe Jeepy was too low level.  If you moused over the meeting stone it said the instance name and the level range, but the cursor did not change to the expected activate cog wheel.  We decided to try Obama instead, who was 14.

We stepped out again, but we couldn’t summon.  no cog wheel.

Meanwhile the locals, hanging around on the city side of the instance portal, started to take notice of the three Alliance characters in their underwear stepping in and out of the instance.  On a third try a couple of the names out there went red as they took shots at us, flagging themselves PvP.  We were already flagged ourselves, since you get flagged the moment you step into a hostile city.

More research ensued as we tried to figure things out.  In the end I finally found a definitive “no summoning” statement mixed in amongst the many opinions about meeting stones and out of date references concerning their behavior or functionality.  Summoning was not a thing.  So what to do?

Reluctant to give up our hard won gains, we stepped out of the instance and let the locals have a free kill.  That made us ghosts with corpses right on the instance line.  Then we logged out.

Ghost character

We were set so that we could run back to the instance if we wanted and jump back in.  Our corpses would stay there.  I wasn’t sure if they would stay forever, but I seemed to recall we were good for a few days.

Then we logged alts back in and went off to Westfall to go help Jeepy the mage get a few more levels.  If he was going to make the run we figured more levels would be good.

In a group of five you can take on many gnolls

And if we were going to give up, well, the next instance was the Deadmines, and we would need to be around level 18 or so in order to go after that… plus we would want to get to the right spot in the main Westfall quest line in order to be sent there… so more levels would, again, be good.  After doing that for a while we called it a night.  We had been playing WoW Classic pretty much all day and into the night at that point.

The next morning Scscla ran back to the instance and recalled home, either to help escort our two missing group members if they wanted to make the run or to just get on home if they were not.  Skronk and I decided to revive at the graveyard there at Razor Hill in Durotar, take the durability hit (hiding gear in your bags doesn’t help if you let the angel revive you), wait out the PvP flag, and make a run to Ratchet.

Chad stealthing away from the graveyard

However, I managed to stumble over a guard and get killed, so had to do the revive at the graveyard twice, for a double hit to my gear.  Eventually though the ress sickness passed and the PvP flag dropped and we were able to trot safely across Durotar to the Southfury River and follow it south to Ratchet, which ended up being closer than I imagined.

We grabbed the flight point there, figuring that might be useful in the future, then ran down to the dock to take the boat to Booty Bay.

Skronk was still wandering around in a state of undress

After sailing to Booty Bay we were able to run up and grab the flight point there.  Since that connects directly to Stormwind we now had a way to get directly to Ratchet without having to run the gauntlet of Stranglethorn Vale or the long way around from Darkshore through Ashenvale.

Now we just had to decide what we were going to do next.  Bung said he and his son would be on around 1pm the next day.  We decided to figure it out then, which is where the next post will pick up.

The Journey to Orgrimmar and Ragefire Chasm

It could be a three-parter, called ‘Ruler of the Bracelet’. The first part would be called ‘The Brotherhood of the Bracelet’, followed by ‘A Couple of Towers’, with the climactic ending called ‘Hey, the King’s Back!

-The end of the best joke from the /silly command

Like the vision in that joke, this too will be a three-parter, largely because I started writing about the beginning before we had reached the end, and the end ended up being further down the road… both in time, events, and words written… than I expected.  But it all started with a plan.

Yes, we had a plan.

It was a flawed plan, based on incorrect information, assumptions, and some blind optimism, but it was a plan none the less.

In its most simple form, the plan was to get together and run the Ragefire Chasm instance.

We were still fumbling to get ourselves organized, and Earl was still getting set up in Japan, but we were also getting a little tired of just hanging around, working on alts, and holding ourselves back to the first half of Westfall so as not to get to strung out in levels.

In that regard Ragefire Chasm has an advantage.  In the ranking of dungeons by level RFC, as I will call it from now on, comes in before the Deadmines, being rated for levels 13-18.  We figured we could get in and do that and not spoil the level spread.  So I put up a a target in the guild MOTD for people to be levels 13-14 in anticipation of running RFC this past weekend.

That was the simple plan.  The actual requirement to accomplish this was somewhat more complex.

RFC is in Orgrimmar, a Horde city, home of the Orcs and Trolls.  RFC is located fairly deep in Orgrimmar, so getting there is a challenge… and all the more so if you want to get there at level 14 or so.  Still, we had done it before so naturally assumed we could do it again.  Piece of cake, details to be worked out later.  The target to do this was this past Saturday.

Skronk, Ula, and I were on early to start scouting things out.  One of the items that came to mind the night before was one we had overlooked up to that point.  How do we get to Orgrimmar?

A bit of discussion shook out three possible routes.

Routes to Orgrimmar

We were starting from Stormwind, and the first that came to mind was to take the boat from Booty Bay to Ratchet on Kalimdor.  From there is it just a short run up to Orgrimmar.  The problem is that getting to Booty Bay requires running/swimming the length of Stranglethorn Vale.  At levels 13-16, the level range of possible characters in our guild, that was going to be tough.  Not impossible, but the likelihood of dying a few times was high.

The second option was to take the boat from Menethil Harbor over to Theramore.  The run from Theramore to Orgimmar is about twice that of the run from Ratchet, but that still isn’t all that far.  That had two obstacles.   First, there is the need to do the reverse Wetlands run to get to Menethil Harbor.  That isn’t so bad at our levels and once you get there you get the flight point that connects to Ironforge, so you need never do it again.  The second problem was the run through Theramore, which is a higher level zone that Stranglethorn Vale, which to my mind made it more problematic that the first plan.

After hashing those out for a bit, the third route was hatched, to take the boat from Menethil Harbor to Auberdine in Darkshore and run the length of Darkshore, then through Ashenvale, into the Barrens, and finally to Orgrimmar.  That had the Wetlands run again, but as I said you only have to do that once.  But it also had the longest run through Kalimdor, much further than the other two options.  However, I figured it was also the safest.  Darkshore is about Westfall in level range, and Ashenvale is the next zone after that, so not a big jump in levels.  Plus, Ashenvale feeds Alliance players in at one end and Horde players in at the other, so the lowest level mobs are at the ends, with the high levels spread out across the middle, reducing exposure.

While nobody was happy about the longer run, it did seem the most viable path.  We set about scouting it.  Ula and Skronk made the run to Menethil Harbor and then took the boat to Auberdine, taking a side trip to search out a quest for a staff for Ula.

I chose my character for the venture.  Having had another week go by I had run up another alt.  This time I rolled up a human rogue on something of a whim, giving me one each of all the non-cloth caster classes for the Alliance.  I named him Chadwicke, looking for some variation on “Chad” I could roll with, since rogues have something of a reputation so I thought I might play on that with some of the “Virgin vs. Chad” meme stuff.

Honestly, the real reason I made a rogue was that we got a couple of the Defias mask drops in Westfall last week, which is about the first bit of head gear you can get in WoW.  There aren’t many options until about level 26 or so.  For whatever reason, I wanted to wear that mask, but it is rogue only and bind on pickup.  So I had to roll up a rogue to get one.  And once I had one I was in the level range of the group.

Chad Masked

I wasn’t too sure how far I was going to go with Chad.  Rogues have been problematic for me in the past.  But once I did his class quest at level 10 and trained him into dual wield he was destroying mobs one on one. (I was doing that during the Reavers entosis op at one point.)  That sold him for me, so I decided he should go on the run to RFC.

I stripped him down… you put all your gear in your bags to keep them from being damaged if you die, and this trip was going to see a lot of deaths I figured, so I was down to my skivvies the whole way… and sent him on his way through Loch Modan and through the Wetlands, a run made easier by his rogue abilities.

I’ll just stealth by that orc thank you

He was into the Wetlands and on his way, saying the tagline I had picked out for him, for which I made a macro.

Roll on brother Chad

That won’t get old I am sure.

He made it to Menethils Harbor without incident and was soon waiting on the dock for the boat to Auberdine.

Mask bros at the dock

I took the boat, passed by Ula and Skronk, who were headed over to Darnassus as part of a quest or something, and started the run to Orgrimmar.

Darkshore is, as the name implies, rather dark, but the sun began to shine through once Chad made it to Ashenvale.

Sunny days again for Chad

Ashenvale was a hoof, but there wasn’t much in the way of danger.  There were a few ?? mobs off in the distance, but nothing came to get me.  I picked up the flight point at Anastaar, then realized I had forgotten to get the one at Auberdine.  Something to go back for later.  I just stuck to the roads and followed the signs.

This must be the way

Once you get to the boarder between Ashenvale and The Barrens, the road veers right and leads straight into a Horde fortification with guards and such.  Dangerous stuff for a low level Alliance player.

Horde customs and immigration check point

Fortunately, there is an obvious path off to the left that leads to a hole in the ramparts.

They built a wall and tried to make the Alliance pay for it

From there I just cut across The Barrens towards Durotar… dying once because I got a mob on me and forgot I was without my gear… running up to the back door of Orgrimmar, which is across a bridge over the Southfury River.

Bridge to Orgrimmar

Up until that point, everything had been going great.  We had been on for a couple of hours, Bung and his son were set to log in and join us to round out the group.  Ula was swapping out to her warrior alt Scscla to tank for us, Skronk was a dedicated holy priest set to heal, and Chad was there to help DPS.  We just had to get everybody out to where I was to begin the assault on Orgrimmar.

That is the topic for tomorrow’s post.

WoWCraft and Classic Queues

Carbot Animation appears to be jumping on the WoW Classic train along with a lot of other people.  They revived their WoWCraft series of videos with the launch of WoW Classic and have another video up in the series about queues.

The joke isn’t about the queues to get into the game, but the queues that appeared in some parts of the game as players swarmed in and ended up at bottle necks for various objectives.  I was witness to some of those on the Alliance side of the game.

Everybody will get their turn

While I was not a witness, I did hear that on the Horde side of the game polite queuing was much less of a thing.

And, of course, there are still queues to get into the game.  However, Blizzard has opened up more free character transfer options for both US and EU servers which are expected to be available through the weekend.  If you want a free move, you should get on that quickly.

Everybody Comes to Westfall

We are now past the two week mark for WoW Classic and I feel like I haven’t gotten very far along.  People are moving along, I see people past level 30 in Stormwind regularly and “that guy on the horse” has become a regular feature. (Was it Ethic who named that concept, the person on their mount in town sitting there to show it off?)  Beside that I feel like I am poking along so slowly.

This is somewhat self-imposed as the instance group hasn’t been ready to ride yet, with moves, business trips, and end of summer vacations keeping people away.

And moving slowly isn’t all that bad.  I am not in any crazy race, nor was I ever likely to be in contention for any “world first” in the game.  There is lots to explore and see and do while keeping characters down in the level range for the first dungeon, Ragefire Chasm.

Plus, there are always alts.  I’m prone to making too many alts to start with, so keeping in the right level range has gotten me to four characters now in the level 14-16 range.  I have all four alliance races covered as well, as I now have:

  • Level 14 gnome warrior
  • Level 14 human paladin
  • Level 16 night elf druid
  • Level 16 dwarf hunter

That warrior might be my first gnome character in WoW.

So I have not been idle.  And they have all stepped into the zone where we’ll be headed, the zone where most people end up in at some point or another; Westfall.

Westfall – This Way

Westfall is one of the quintessential zones of Azeroth.  For the Alliance it is where a lot of players converge as the quest lines there lead to the Deadmines instance.  If you want to have Gryan Stoutmantle shout your name out to the zone you have to get on board the quest train.

He’s just hanging out waiting for you to show up

And, of course, Horde players have to find their way there as well if they want to do the instance.

While some of the starter zones have calmed down quite a bit… they are not dead, but I got my gnome warrior through the Coldridge Valley part of the dwarf/gnome starter zone in about 20 minutes because there were no more lines… Westfall feels like it is still full tilt crowded a lot of the time and very much alive with players.  And NPCs of memory.  Running into the zone you are greeted with the first quests right away from familiar faces.

Welcome to Westfall! How about a few quests?

Those are the Furlbrows, with Old Blanchy, who features in a couple other places in the game, including an appearance in the Old Hillsbrad dungeon in the Caverns of Time.  It was a bit of a shock when Blizz killed the lot of them for Cataclysm.

But there is no time to hang about there.  There are so many semi-overlapping quests in the zone that you might as well get them all.  One of the quests sends you to the next location anyway, Saldean’s Farm, where you pick up a few more. (And maybe stand around clucking in hopes of getting a chicken pet.)  Then it is off to Sentinal Hill to turn in the quest from Goldshire sending you to check in with Gryan Stoutmantle, who also has a quest for you, as does a couple of other NPCs.  Don’t miss the one down the hill by the inn… and don’t forget to grab the flight point.  Running is all fine and dandy, but sometimes you just want to get places.

The list of quests alone brings up a small wave of nostalgia.

Some of the early Westfall quests

Here the game starts to stress your inventory management.  Half of those quests need you to collect things.  You need four stacks of ingredients for Westfall Stew, another stack for Goretusk Liver Pie, gnoll paws for another, Defias bandanas for yet another, bags of oats for Old Blanchy, and a pocket watch for Ted Furlbrow.  It isn’t quite Green Hills of Stranglethorn level of inventory management, but when you are likely rocking six slot bags, things start to fill up fast.   And that doesn’t even start to count the random drops you’ll get.

Then you have to find the mobs for the drops.  That isn’t too hard.  They are often in handy camps.  The problem is that the camps are often well camped by players.  But the pick up group cooperation spirit of WoW Classic, or at least the Bloodsail Buccaneer server, continues on.  With a couple of characters I was able to find groups to hunt with.

Slaughtering the Defias at one of their camps

Grouping up is a great way to knock out the quests where you have to kill 15 of this or 20 of that, since everybody in the group gets credit.  And a group can hold and wipe out a camp that might be a bit much to take on solo.  Mobs, especially the gnolls, spawn close together so you often cannot pull just one.  With a group you can do the whole village.

Waiting for gnolls to pop again

The problem is the quests that require drops dole them out one at a time.  A good group will swap to free-for-all looting and people will stick around until everybody is covered.  Or mostly covered.  Sometimes somebody leaves and another joins and they’re just starting and there is a cycle through the group that could last all night if you stuck around.

And some of the drop rates kind of suck.

Welcome to the gnoll hunt

I get that maybe every Defias isn’t following dress code or maybe left their bandana on the dresser at home in the rush to get out to Westfall, but Gnolls would seem to have four paws, and boars at least one liver per.  Yet we ran across many a pawless gnoll or heavy drinking goretusk whose liver had decayed to the point of being useless for cooking.

I remember a late 2004 Lore Sjöberg article over at Wired from back in the day that spoke of the “kinder, gentler” ways of World of Warcraft (which is a bit of a time capsule point of view you can find here), that included a reference to how, if you slew a named mob for a quest that required you bring back their head, the corpse would nicely provide a head for everybody in the party.

And that is the case certainly, for a specific named quest mob.  But for a run of the mill Defias or gnoll, it is a maximum of one per corpse, not guaranteed.

Not that it is a huge burden.  I have always toyed with the idea in the back of my mind that this was on purpose back in the day, that in order to off-set the reduced experience you get for grouping Blizz makes you slay more mobs.  And, in the end, when you need eight or fifteen drops and you have none it feels like it will take forever, but it never takes too long until you’ve just got one left.

Anyway, I am through that first wave of quests in Westfall on a couple of characters, and into it with the others.  The hope is that we’ll be able to get a group together to try Ragefire Chasm this weekend.  That it is located in the back end of Orgrimmar will make this comedy gold I am sure.  But if we need to stall some more I am going to have to start another alt, and I am well down the list of options.  I only have rogues and cloth wearing casters left.  Or I could go Horde I suppose.  We’ll see.

Addendum: I noticed that I used the title of this post before.  I cannot resist an obscure allusion I guess.

WoWCraft and Layering and other WoW Classic Tidbits

Carbot Animations, which has made a business out of doing cute parodies of various Blizzard games, including having plush versions of their characters in the Blizzard Store and that re-skin of StarCraft from earlier this year, has returned to the WoWCraft series, which launched back in 2014, to celebrate the launch of WoW Classic.

 

I suppose we shall see if the foibles of classic become fodder for the series.

As previously announced, Blizzard launched some more servers and allowed free character transfers in an attempt to alleviate the queuing issues that were still plaguing some servers.  That brings the total server count up to 77, 39 in the EU and 38 in the US and Oceania.

Blizzard had previously also doubled the amount of characters allowed on a given server, letting their layering tech soak up the extra load.  However, this was not only against their plan to get every server down to a single layer as time went on (see the Reddit AMA), but has led to concerns that people are exploiting layering in order to harvest resources from the same node in different layers.  Tales of harvest riches have been making their way around the net, with Icy Veins tweeting a screen shot of a player alleged to have 3,000 arcane crystals, declaring that layering was destroying WoW Classic.

Arcane Crystal Panic!  At least they said “alleged”

They have since deleted that tweet and calmed down a bit, though you can still find the screen shot in their forums as part of a thread discussing this issue. (Discord nicely had a version of the tweet for me.)

They have drawn back a bit because Blizzard says the screen shot, and others like it, are fakes.  In a forum post Blizzard says they are monitoring the issue and have some options should this turn out to be a serious problem.  No realm has layers into double digits and Blizz says that most realms have layers in the low single digits, but they may still put a delay into moving between layers.  To address any lingering aspect of this Blizz has a patch that will increase the amount of time you need between layer swaps, which increases the more you do it.

Over at Polygon there is a piece up about WoW Classic which concludes that no matter how popular this nostalgia ride remains, the focus it has brought back on to WoW as a whole has been a pretty big deal.  Certainly a lot of people were at least watching WoW Classic being streamed.

For those wishing to run dungeons, Belghast has a post up about the realities of dungeon groups that is worth a read.

And, having opened with a video I will close with one as well about the lurking menace that is WoW Classic.

 

WoW Classic gets a DDoS Attack

All I wanted to do was play a little WoW Classic while I ate my lunch on a Saturday afternoon.  But this was what I got.

Should I try again?

A group calling themselves UKDrillas on Twitter decided to go after WoW Classic today.  They had started against against Wikipedia yesterday, but moved on to WoW Classic, seemingly to go after streamers on the US PvP servers.

Asmongold always seems to be on that list

As of my writing this I seem able to get into the game on Bloodsail Buccaneers, however I end up getting dropped fairly frequently, no doubt a side effect of the attack on the PvP servers.  Overwatch, which shares the same data center, is also down.

There hasn’t been much word about this outside of the Classic WoW subreddit.  No doubt Blizzard is working on the issue, while the WoW news sites seems a bit behind the curve. (They have a post but they aren’t saying much.)  But for a bit we were able to see WoW Classic servers showing up with low population counts.

A rare site these days

Not that things were getting better as time went along.

Now the servers are gone!

As for the attackers, they are free to disrupt things for now.  Groups like this have popped up before.  I remember LulzSec hitting EVE Online and other sites back in the day.  I also recall a bunch of them ending up arrested eventually.  It happens.  We’ll see how this plays out.

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