Tag Archives: Burning Crusade Classic

Going Rogue from Outland

I am not sure if it says more about me or the Burning Crusade content that I seem to be spending as much, if not more time, screwing around in old Azeroth as I do in the expansion content.

First, with the coming of the Burning Crusade Classic pre-patch I started working on my druid, who I managed to level from 36 all the way up into Outland.  Then there were trade skills to catch up and thorium to be mined.  And then, faced now with four characters in the expansion that I could work on, I turned around and picked up my rogue Chad.

Chad, or Chadwicke to give his full name, was part of the first group mix early on in WoW Classic.

Group 1.0 – Obama, Skronk, Chad, Jeepy, and Scscla

He was there for the run to Ragefire Chasm in the middle of Orgrimmar, the first instance we took on.  That was almost two years ago at this point.

Inside the instance

I was actually kind of invested in him at the time and had even given him a Chad catch phrase, marcro’d with an emote and sure to annoy everybody before too long.

Roll on brother Chad

However, it was not to be.  We ended up shifting characters and I ended up being the tank with my gnome warrior Viniki.

I worked on him for a little bit longer.  There was the possibility of another regrouping with Earl, but that never came to pass.  So he ended up at level 21 before I moved on to other characters.

When I returned to him last month he was still in the Santa’s Helper guise, from Winter Veil 2019 if I recall right.  That change has a 60 minute timer on it, so he hadn’t been logged in long during the intervening time.

I have also had a problematic relationship with rogues in WoW over the years.  It isn’t always a play style that suits me, so I wasn’t sure I would stick with it once I got him out again.  However, things seem to have gone well as he is already up to level 37.

I am glad I gave him a try for a few reasons.

First, it was nice to remind myself that the rogue isn’t as much like the cat form feral druid as I tend to think.  Sometimes I equate the two, forgetting some of the extras either class brings to the party.  Having buffs and heals makes the feral druid feel very different out in the field.

Second, which goes along with the previous one somewhat, is how complicated a class rogues were back in the early days of WoW.  I remembered lockpicking, which is a skill you get early on with your rogues, though I had forgotten the effort needed to go out and keep the skill up to date.

And then there are poisons.  I had totally forgotten that poisons were a thing and hadn’t really reached the point where I could unlock them before I let Chad slide.  Once I did the class quest to unlock those I had a whole new aspect of the game to play with.  There is a poison for every occasion and two weapons to coat so I can mix and match.  Also, poisons are both something that unlocks as you level up and a skill you have to keep up with, though the latter is pretty easy I suppose if you just make enough poison to keep your weapons coated at all times.

Finally, it has been interesting to see how much the game changed between the build chosen for WoW Classic and the build chosen for Burning Crusade Classic.

I got a bit of that with Alioto, my druid, going from 36 to 60 back in May and June.  But he was already at the start of the great dead spot for WoW Classic quests, so while I could see some improvement, he had to work a bit to get back on the center of the path forward.

Chad, at 21, got to enter his 30s and experience the fullness of quest options available.  Partially because there are more quests and partially because quest givers are on the mini map now so you don’t miss as many quests by accident, Chad hit level 36 and I felt like his quest log wasn’t big enough.  There is now almost an embarrassment of quests available, though I am trying to do them in order of level… I need that addon that puts the quest level in your quest log… to make sure I don’t gray out a bunch by mistake.  It doesn’t help that the WoW Head leveling guide is a bit off on which zones fall into which level bands.

If I play this through right I should vault Chad into his 40s with lots of options still available.

And then there are the quality of life improvements.  I mentioned the quest givers on the mini map, but there are also a few key new flight points.  At Chad’s level the new flight point at the Rebel Camp at the north end of Stranglethorn Vale is a huge help.

A new flight point has appeared

That means that the half dozen quests that require you to run back and forth from Booty Bay and either the Rebel Camp or Nessingwary’s camp are much easier to deal with.  I look forward to avoiding some similar runs when I get to Felwood, where there is also a new flight point.

And, with all that, I also got to enjoy getting a mount at level 30.

Riding through Redridge harvesting

Fortunately I have enough gold on my alts that it was now a no brainer to buy a mount for Chad.  It doesn’t seem like that long ago when we were working to scrape together the 10 silver for a guild charter.

Anyway, I am having fun with a rogue… whether or not that means I am avoiding Outland will likely be decided when he gets to 58.  Do I just roll up a shaman then?

Addendum: This post was written over the weekend, before the news broke about Activision Blizzard, so this might be the last post about their games until they do something.

Skulking in Frostwhisper Gorge for Thorium

I mentioned previously that our group, having arrived in Hellfire Peninsula, was still trying to catch up some lagging trade skills to keep up with our transition from vanilla content.

That was easy enough with some things.  Tistann, my hunter, was already at 300 for skinning and leather working.  Wilhelm, my pally, was up to 300 mining and closing in on 300 for engineering.  Viniki, past tank for the group and my weapons specialized blacksmith crafter, was in a bit of a bind though.

The path from 280, where he stood, to 300, requires a walk through a rich field of thorium veins… and he was hardly the only character in that situation.  The competition for thorium veins was pretty fierce.  So I was feeling kind of content at letting him stay behind for a while.

And then Ula succeeded in getting up to 300 in enchanting and needed a fel iron rod for Outland enchants and the market was alternating between empty and highway robbery on that front.  Suddenly a blacksmith with a 300 skill level seemed like a very handy thing to have around.  The rod is one of the first Outland recipes available for one.  I just needed a pile of thorium.  Fortunately, I had figured out a plan.

In farming for thorium for Wilhelm, I had noticed that at the south end of Winterspring, in Frostwhisper Gorge, there was a regular rotation of rich thorium vein spawns.

Six rich thorium veins

Unfortunately, the gorge is also home to a bunch of Frostmaul Giants, level 59-60 elites.  That makes getting into the gorge a bit of a challenge… unless you can stealth your way around.

Alioto, my recently level 60 feral druid had managed to get t 300 mining and could stealth around in cat form pretty well.  So I sent him there to farm the thorium veins.

Slipping by the giants

The next problem was the spawn rate.  Once you harvest a node it takes 20 minutes of so for another one to appear.  It is kind of dull just hanging out waiting for spawns to show up.

So I hit on the idea of just logging in every half hour to hour, depending on when I had the time, scooting along to find the current node.  Then I would mine it, go back into stealth mode, and log out again.

Sweet thorium vein spotted

This was pretty low pressure and something I could do throughout the day.  The joys of working from home.

In fact, logging in during the day was more fruitful than in the evenings.  Once the server hits prime time there starts to be some competition for the nodes.  There are a couple of level 70s who come in and farm the giants… they must drop something of value… and harvest the nodes.

But during the day things tend to be quiet.  Not perfect… you get a truesilver spawn every once in a while, which isn’t as useful… but pretty good.

A truesilver spawn

I had to hang out there for a while.  For Viniki to get from 280 to 300 blacksmithing, he needed to make 20 Imperial Plate bracers, which take 12 thorium each.  That is 240 thorium, which at 4-6 ore per spawn, takes a while.  But I just left Alioto parked in the gorge all week, logging in every once in a while to grab a bit more thorium.

Eventually I collected enough that his bags were full.  But when I sent it all to Viniki he went to work on the bracers and made it to 300.

300 the hard way

The fel iron rod was the next thing he made.  Op success!

Then I sent Alioto back to the gorge to help out Ula’s blacksmithing alt Scscla.  More thorium harvesting.

Swinging the pick again

One thing I did find out was that rich thorium nodes continue to give skill ups when you harvest them all the way to the Burning Crusade maximum.  Alioto hit 375 mining mostly on rich thorium.  (I did take hit to Hellfire Peninsula for some gear upgrades and he mined a bit of fel iron there.)

The whole thing has also made Alioto my wealthiest character.  Truesilver, and the gems from rich thorium veins, sell pretty well at the auction house.  He isn’t out buying an epic mount yet… but he is pretty close to that being an options.  Of course, that is in part because the expansion rewards pumped a bunch of gold into the economy, so everything at the auction sells for more.  But that is the way to get to a flying mount eventually.

What I Have Played so far in 2021

2021 is past the half way mark now and, as usual, the months seem to have slipped by.  But it did seem like a good time to maybe stop and look at what video games I played in the first six months of the year.  Thanks to ManicTime I have a handy list to work with.

Unfortunately, ManicTime can only tell me what I have played.  It cannot make my list longer or more interesting.  Still, let’s see where I spent my play time budget.

  1. Valheim – 40.18%
  2. WoW Classic – 39.50%
  3. EVE Online – 17.89%
  4. War in the Pacific – 0.97%
  5. Burning Crusade Classic Beta – 0.43%
  6. World of Warcraft – 0.39%
  7. Runes of Magic – 0.31%
  8. MMO Tycoon 2 – 0.24%
  9. LOTRO – 0.09%

Not even an even ten games, though these are just games on my PC.  We can add Pokemon Go if I need the round number I suppose, but I don’t have times for that, so we’ll skip it.  Anyway, looking at that list we have:

  • Valheim

Proof that I do play new games now and again.  It came out of nowhere in February and distracted the instance group from WoW Classic for more than two months.  It is actually in second place now in my Steam library based on hours played, just barely ahead of RimWorld and out in front of Age of Empires II and War Thunder, but still quite a ways behind Civilization V.

  • WoW Classic

The title I expected to be in first place, though it isn’t far behind Valheim.  If you’ve been reading this blog for a while it making the list is probably no surprise to you

  • EVE Online

I am sure it is a sign of the current state of World War Bee that my time spent in New Eden is less than half of the time played in either of the first two titles.  Still, it is in the top three that together make up about 97.5% of my PC gaming time so far this year.  I do wonder sometimes if I should give EVE a multiplier for play time because there is no other game I spend so much time playing while tabbed out in a browser looking something up, and ManicTime only counts the time when the game has focus.  Then again, I do also sit docked in a hangar doing nothing a good chunk of time too.

  • War in the Pacific

My apparent attempt to prove that I no longer have the patience to get into a complicated war game title.  22 year old me would have managed it.  Even 35 year old me might have made it.  But far side of 50s me isn’t getting there it seems.  I blame the tiny text and the lack of a zoom feature.  And even as a failed experiment it makes it into 4th spot, so I tried!

  • Burning Crusade Classic Beta

You can argue that this ought to be under WoW Classic, but it had its own executable and was tracked on its own line.  Plus, given how little time I spent in beta, about which I have posted, there is a statement on how little I played anything below this.

  • World of Warcraft

Oh retail WoW, I was so into your Shadowlands expansion right up until I got my first character to level cap and decided I didn’t want to do dailies and grind anima or whatever it is.  I was seriously excited about some of the zones.  I’ll probably come back next year when the catch up mechanics kick in and make everybody who did it the hard way feel like a schmuck.  I mean, unless you enjoyed the journey.  I don’t want to take that away from you.  Anyway, my time spent here is mostly the monthly Darkmoon Faire login… and I even missed a month of that.

  • Runes of Magic

This isn’t a bad game, and it even works on my big monitor.  It suffers from the fact that there are just half a dozen other games at least that I would rather play.  I got hooked up into it for its anniversary for a bit.  Actually, it is probably for the best I didn’t carry on, because I never got as far as having to rent bag space or the dreaded $10 horse, which would have made me pissy about them having converted my account somehow causing me to lose all my diamonds.  Maybe it is a bad game.

  • MMO Tycoon 2

A single player game?  Whaaaaa?  Purchased this on a bit of a whim at the end of last month.  It seemed like it might be a bit of a laugh.  How meta, the one game on my list that has no MMO characteristics is about simulating the creation of an MMO!  Me so crazy!

  • Lord of the Rings Online

Grumble, grumble, monitor size and UI scaling.  I do log into the game once in a while, though I suspect if I went back into ManicTime and added up the time spent in the launcher patching and added that to the list, it would push LOTRO down another position.  Some day SSG will get around to supporting large screens.

What an entirely predictable list!

The good news, I suppose, is that I have picked up a couple items on Steam so the list ought to be a bit deeper before year’s end.  Everything won’t be “the siege of 1DQ carries on” and “the instance group rides again!”

Friday Bullet Points about Things Old and New

Here it is, another Friday bullet points post that future me will curse as I try to write up a month in review.  But I live for the day, and there are some things I wanted to mention but couldn’t really work up into a stand alone post.  How have I not made this a blog category yet?

  • Crowfall Ships!

Holy crap!  Color me shocked!

Seriously, I was interested enough in Crowfall to have created a category for it… something generally reserved for regular features and titles I play a lot of here on the blog… back when the Kickstarter campaign launched… which was in February of 2015.  So, its been about six and a half years.

Is this even still their logo?

This was back when I had stopped backing MMO Kickstarter campaigns but still held out hope that something might come of them, before the great cynicism fell on me after every date offered by an MMO Kickstarter campaign winded up being as much a fantasy as their IP.  The ship date projected during the campaign was December of 2016, and it featured in a number of my annual prediction posts as an easy “this won’t ship” call.

But here it is.  Live.  That puts it well ahead of titles like Camelot Unchained, a title that has helped sink backer confidence almost as much as Star Citizen by this point.

Anyway, congrats to the team.  I have no idea what they ended up shipping or if it is anything close to the “Game of Thrones meets EVE Online” catch phrase they were bandying about, but at least I could find out if I had even an ounce of inclination left in me.

  • Burning Crusade Classic Beta Stats

Blizzard sent out an email to those who participated in the Burning Crusade Classic beta back in April and May.  I was invited a bit late to that party, and honestly wasn’t all that into it, but I logged in long enough to find a few issues and to feel concerned about whatever Blizz was up to.  The beta felt pretty wonky in a way that belies the stability now that it has shipped.  But I apparently reported seven bugs… mostly related to hunter issues.

What I did in the beta… not much

Overall the community reported quite a few things.

The stats for everybody

It seemed to do some good I guess, because Outland has been pretty stable, at least on our server, though I am still a bit annoyed at the whole draw distance thing, but that was in WoW Classic as well.

  • The Next 6 Month Mount From Blizzard

Those of us on the six month subscription plan for WoW got a new mount for being such dedicated customers.  This time around it is the Sapphire Skyblazer.

The latest in a series

Part of me isn’t all that impressed. I have a few hundred mounts now, so another blue bird… eh.   Then again, at least it isn’t some cosmetic pajamas this time.  I am pretty sure Blizz learned their lesson on that front.  I’ll take a mount every time, thank you.

Six month subscribers also got a special prize in Burning Crusade Classic, the Imp in a Ball.

Available at an Inn near you

The Imp in a Ball toy actually went into the game with the Burning Crusade Classic pre-patch, so I have had one on my characters for quite a while now.  They come from a quest that the city innkeepers have, and are basically an Azerothian Magic 8-Ball… ask it a question… say it out loud or whatever… then activate it for a comically indecisive answer.  Your mileage may vary.

  • New Switch Disappointment

Rumors have been floating around about Nintendo possibly launching a new Switch model with 4K or a faster processor or whatever.  So there was some disappointment apparent when Nintendo announced a new model with an OLED screen.  Yay higher quality screens of the same size?

The Switch line up

It does have double the RAM built in and some other improvements, but it was very much an incremental upgrade to the product line… which is a very Nintendo move, really.  But it does mean that demand has slowed down enough since the pandemic rush on units that they feel they can tinker with the new models.

  • RimWorld Ideology

It was announced earlier this week that the survival game RimWorld, number three on my list of Steam titles I have played the most, will be getting a new DLC package soon.

A new drama generator

Called RimWorld Ideology, it will allow your colony or clan to create a belief system, allowing the configuration of things such as rituals, veneration, dress, adornment, and social roles.  You can play as a tribe of tree worshiping cannibals if you want.  I am sure this will crank base drama up a few more notches.

  • Minmatar Liberation Day

It feels like we just finished up Gallente Federation Day and we’re already on to Minmatar Liberation Day.  They always have the cards and decorations out so early.

Have a Brutor Libre, the official drink of Minmatar Liberation Day!

As is the usual pattern these days, there are login rewards (12 days worth), in game events, SKINs in the New Eden Store, and some SKINs you get as an add on when you buy some PLEX.  There is a full run down of events and rewards over at The Nosy Gamer.

Unfinished Business in Azeroth

It isn’t as though I am avoiding Outland, I am just having a bit of trouble letting go of Azeroth because there are still things to be done there.

Out with friends

I mentioned last week that I had run my druid up from level 36 to 58 since the pre-patch hit, which enabled him to head on through the Dark Portal.  And through he went.  But after doing the first few quests and getting some gear upgrades, he was back in Azeroth again.

He was back in part because I wanted to see how the gear upgrades would fare in places like the Eastern Plaguelands.  But mostly he was back because I needed thorium.

I needed thorium because my druid had picked up mining and herbalism as trade skills and, while I managed to get the latter up to 300 long before I hit level 58, mining was another story.  You cannot mine fel iron in Outland until your mining is up to 300 and his was still 280.

So there was mining to be done and thorium was where the skill ups were to be had and that was all back in Azeroth.

A rich thorium find

I do sort of wonder why there are Azerothian herbs in Outland… you find them all over Hellfire Peninsula… but no thorium.  Hellfire and the Blasted Lands look similar enough, at least at a glance, so tossing a little thorium into the former seems like it would fit the pattern.  But no.  Or at least I’ve never seen any thorium.

I also needed thorium for Wilhelm.  His trade skill is engineering and to make that last run up from about 285 to 300 he needed a bucket or two of thorium bars.

And then there was Viniki, who took up blacksmithing.  He too needed thorium… about 400 bars of it to go from 270 to 300, since the path forward for him needed about a dozen bars per skill up if he followed the least resource intensive way of leveling up.

That is a lot of thorium, and all the more so when a small thorium vein might cough up 3 ore if you’re lucky, while a large vein could be good for as many as 6.

This was all complicated by the fact that everybody and their dog has been out hustling for thorium nodes because they also need the skill ups or because they want to make some gold.  That hot market I mentioned last Friday?  It is still going strong with a huge demand for mithril and thorium.

If I didn’t desperately need the thorium for trade skills I might be making even more gold.  Still, I picked up enough mithril along the way to have something for market.

And I was not the only one in the group our working on that sort of thing.  Fergorin decided to go with jewel crafting as a profession, a new one that came in with Burning Crusade, so he too needed to mine himself up into and through thorium.

Ula was also out working on enchanting, which she took up in addition to being our tailor, in order to get herself up to 300.  Viniki managed to get far enough up in blacksmithing in order to craft the arcanite rod, which covers the last tier of enchanting.  Fortunately Skronk was able to transmute arcane crystals into arcanite bars to make that. (The transmute also required thorium, so add that to the list.)

I did managed to get Alioto up to 300 mining (along with hitting level 60) and Wilhelm up to 300 engineering, but Viniki is still stuck at 280 blacksmithing, so there is some work to be done there.

In addition to all of that, Potshot (who plays Skronk and Fergorin, keeping the names straight is a chore all around I guess) also took to heart a comment about Hellfire Ramparts having encounters that suited a shaman.  So he rolled up a Draenei shaman and started working him up through the levels this past weekend as well.  Alioto took some time out to shepherd him trough the Deadmines, which was fun.

Blowing the door in the Deadmines

It is a long climb from character creation to Outland, but it isn’t impossible.  I managed to get most of the way there with Alioto.  Still, we might not have a shaman healer in the group for a while still.

Then there is the epic mount question for Wilhelm, Fergorin, and Beanpole.  We still have things to take care of on the Azeroth side of the Dark Portal.

Friday Bullet Points from Outland

Bullet points posts are often tidibits of news that I want to mention.  This time around it is mostly just about me and Burning Crusade Classic, with a couple of news items mixed in, just to get them all into a single post.

  • A Druid for Outland

I have somehow managed to get my druid, who was level 36 when the pre-patch hit, all the way to level 58.

Level 58 out in Silithus

I will say again that the leveling path from 36 to 58 has been smoothed out considerably with the 2.5.1 patch.  The dead spots seem to be taken care of with new, or newly visible, quests.  I know the stuff in Theremore is new, but the fact that available quests appear on the mini-map means I probably picked up more quests that I likely missed the fire couple of times through the content.

This now gives me four characters available for Outland.  I suppose that means I should stop screwing around so much and go play in Hellfire Peninsula.  I do wonder if my druid should bother at level 58 or wait until 60 to go through.  There are still plenty of quests for him in Azeroth.

Plenty of quests at Lights Hope Chapel still

On the flip side, there is a lot of hugely improved gear if I go through the portal.  We shall see.

  • Hot Market

I mentioned previously that the pre-patch before Burning Crusade Classic was clearly pulling people back into the game, with my primary evidence being the number of pages of auctions that were coming up in Auctioneer.  That number had sagged down into the mid-to-low 200s towards the end of WoW Classic, but jumped into the 600s with the pre-patch.  And now with the Dark Portal open and Outland at our feet, that number can reach into the mid 700s over the weekend.

There is a lot of economic activity going on, at least on the Bloodsail Buccaneer server, with demand for commodities that aid in leveling up trade skills being particularly in demand.  As such I have managed to make a bit of gold in the game for once.  Not a ton.  I am just not that invested, so to speak, but before the pre-patch I was worrying about scraping together the 350 gold for the Paladin Charger quest, thinking I would need to loot my other characters.  Now, a few weeks later, I have that much gold just on my pally, so I am happy with that.

  • Fast Market

For a bit there after the patch, and even more so after the opening of the Dark Portal, the auction house was starting to drag quite noticeably when it came to searches.  People were complaining and Blizz looked into the issue, applying the following hotfixes:

  • Implemented settings changes intended to lower the time it takes to search the Auction House.
  • Players who list, bid, buy out, or cancel a very large number of auctions may now incur a delay between consecutive actions.

The latter is one of those annoyances that keeps coming up.  I am not sure what advantage is bestowed by listing dozens of the same thing, often a commodity that would sell fine as a stack, as a bunch of singles, aside from maybe trying to obscure your competition by driving them off the first page of results.

Anyway, Blizz says they are monitoring the situation.

  • Falling for Shattrath

I have already fallen to my death in Shattrath trying to run for the elevator out in front of the inn in the Aldor area.  This is one of those “seriously, why did I just do that?” recurring events that I remember from the expansion back in the day.

I’ll step out of the Aldor inn, get on my mount, and as I ride towards the elevator, it will already be at the top so that, just as I get close it starts to drop and I instinctively jump for it.  The descending platform and my forward motion then carries my over my  target and I fall to my death.

I did this often enough back in the day that with my pally I got good at hitting Divine Protection to save myself.  But this time I did it with my hunter who has no such option.  A passing priest ressed me, which saved me the run back at least.

As for “Why Shattrath?” that is where the portals back to the main cities are, which include the auction houses.  Shat isn’t one of my favorite cities in the game, but it is the transit hub for Outland.

  • Arena Season 1

Finally, Blizzard announced the start of Burning Crusade Classic Arena Season 1 for those who were waiting for more PvP options.  Available to teams of 2, 3, or 5 players, rewards include gear, titles, and even a special mount.  Not my thing, but everything doesn’t have to be about me.

Blizz did make a mistake and enabled some season 2 rewards, then had to track down the 81 players who cashed in on that.  The transactions were reversed and the honor refunded.

On the Edge in Hellfire Ramparts

After last week’s run the group spent a bit of time going out and running quests out of Honor Hold in order to gear up a bit.

The place is a bit of a mess

That did, of course, get us some experience as well, and by the time we formed up again for another run this past Sunday, the group looked like this:

  • Ula – level 61 gnome mage
  • Beanpole – level 61 gnome warlock
  • Wilhelm – level 60 human paladin (protection)
  • Fergorin – level 60 human paladin (holy)

Potshot had also been busy with Skronk, the guild alchemist, who was out gathering herbs and creating potions for us, including a fire resist potion for that last boss fight.

We managed to get right into the instance… we ran back enough last time to not get lost… and into the first few mobs.

Starting off strong

We did have a couple of minor mishaps on our way to the first boss, as we mis-timed a patrol and forgot that when you hear the announcement about hounds, you had best be prepared for even more adds.

Whoops

Fergorin also accidentally lit off a consecrate in the midst of some adds, which brought him down as well.  But we successfully made it to the first boss, Watchkeeper Gargolmar.  After clearing all the groups from where he wanders, we followed our previous successful strategy and killed off his helpers first, leaving him vainly calling for healing as the fight went against him.

But no healing came as his healers were dead

After Watchkeeper Gargolmar we cleared the rest of the opening area and went up the ramp in the tower to face our biggest non-boss nemesis, that group of five at the top of the tower.

Those guys again

We made sure the soul stone was up and went at them.  This time they resisted Ula’s polymorph and seemed to deflect all of her frost damage.  We thought we were going to wipe and then we wiped.  But at least we brought three of the five down in the attempt.  Once we revived we gave it to the other two.

Not so tough without all your buddies, are you?

We managed to get through the open area at the top of the tower and to Omor the Unscarred.  Last time around it took us four tries to bring him down and I wasn’t sure if we really learned much about the fight after the first two tries.  But we tried to harness what we knew, spreading out and getting ready to go all in.

And it was a near run thing.  Ula got popped trying to remove Omor’s curse and Skronk fell to that as well.  Beanpole and I held him for a bit before the curse got him as well, but Skronk had a soul stone up again… we had waited until it was ready again before we started the fight… and got in some heals on me and some damage before going down again.  That left me alone with Omor, who was down to the hairy edge of hit points, but so was I.  I had used everything besides lay hands up to that point, so hit that as I got low, which gave me just enough to bring him down.

It is for you

I had just a bit of health left.

Just 21% left in the tank

Unfortunately his last words were prophetic as he had left behind three fiendish hounds that were still on me.  With no mana and everything else on cool down I went down before I could finish them off.

Omor lost and defeated us in the end

So we beat him on the first try AND we wiped.  We had to run back to the instance, but his corpse was still there to be looted when we returned.  That was good, as he had the Tenacious Defender, a nice belt upgrade for me.

That just left us with Vazruden and his dragon mount Nazan.

Vazruden and Nazan waiting for us

This fight we felt we had learned something from.  We had some fire resist potions and had read up that the tank, if careful, can nestle up to Nazan when he is down on the ground, getting under his head, which will cause him to miss with his big fire breath weapon.  So we kicked off the event by killing the guards, then tackled Vazruden, and finally I went in and grabbed Nazan.

And the plan of keeping under his chin seemed to work.  Nazan steps back every so often when you get that close, but I kept pressing up to him with each retreat until I had him up against the edge of the platform where the battle takes place.

Nazan breathing fire over my head

It went well right up until it didn’t.  While I was avoiding his breath attack, he was still hitting me and dropping fire bombs on me, which added up to a lot of damage.  I used my health stone, but didn’t have a health potion up because my fire resist potion was on the same cool down.

I died.

But we were so close and, while Fergorin was clearly next to go, both Ula and Beanpole were still in the fight and if seemed like we would get there.

Nazan must die, he is almost there

But once Fergorin went down Nazan turned on Ula and his breath did her in, which left Beanpole alone to whittle down the last 2% of Nazan’s health.

Beanpole alone

He didn’t make it.  We wiped.  And, furthermore, while we had the soul stone up again, Fergorin couldn’t ress me, way out in the open area, before the event reset and the guards reloaded.  He just got off the spell before being attacked.  I ran past him, hitting myself with Divine Protection, which somehow kept me out of combat, so when Fergoin went down I was at least able to ress the party.

Still, we were feeling good about how close we had been to victory.  It felt within our grasp.

And then we did the fight two more times and came nowhere close.  On the next fight I forgot to take the fire resist potion and got caught in the open between Vazruden and Nazan as I was trying to go grab the dragon’s aggro and took the fire breath weapon full on and died instantly.

The next time I took the fire resist potion and managed to grab Nazan successfully, but on his first hop back he launched his breath weapon at me before I could step forward and I was down again.

Dead again

After that Beanpole had to go as RL was calling, so that was the end of our second attempt at Hellfire Ramparts.  We will have to look into what else we can do to mitigate Nazan next time around.

Where Does WoW Classic End?

Just last week we launched into The Burning Crusade in Blizzard’s WoW Classic experiment.  We will likely spend close to two years playing that.  Maybe less.  The thing about doing a retro server is that everybody who doesn’t already know the dance steps can find them online, so a lot of people move at a much quicker pace.  I’ve already gone from “Hey, that’s the first level 70 I’ve seen!” to seeing them all over.

Still only level 60 still as I head to Hellfire Peninsula

After Outland I fully expect that we will move into Wrath of the Lich King Classic, just to finish off what I will call The Classic Trilogy.  That probably gets us out into 2024.

But then what?

I would argue that “classic” ends with WotLK and that Cataclysm, though it is more than a decade in the past at this point, marks the “modern” era of World of Warcraft.  And while there are descisions to be made about WotLK… it was during that era we got Dungeon Finder and achievements, both of which remain of debated value… Cataclysm really represents a leap.

Which isn’t to necessarily say that Blizzard couldn’t or shouldn’t roll the classic train on into Cataclysm, but it does represent some issues.

First off, unlike EverQuest, which is ever the model for these sorts of plans, and all the more so since Holly Longdale is driving the WoW Classic team at Blizz, Cataclysm went back and changed old content.  This differs from the EverQuest model where they just piled on new content by adding zones and maybe adding an NPC here or a teleporter there to the past world.  Cataclysm represents the destruction of vanilla WoW yet again and a lot of the push behind the whole WoW Classic experience was from people, myself included, who were somewhere between annoyed and filled with white hot rage that Blizz did this.

Does Blizzard want to re-ignite those memories of betrayal?  And, probably more importantly, is there demand for a fresh start for Cataclysm?  If there is enough money on the table, I have no doubt that Blizzard will try to claim it.

And I have softened a bit on Cataclysm over the years.  Some of the content was good.  The instances were all interesting.  But none of that has changed over the years and when Blizz already has the post-level squish, fully scaling, parallel paths experience available, do they bother rolling to Cata?

The Shadowlands level squish parallel experience

I suspect there would be demand for a fresh start for any expansion with a rush of people all together and all the content to re-explore.  But the hitch for Blizz is that it isn’t as easy as it is for EverQuest.  Over at Daybreak these sorts of things are done on one or maybe two servers at a time.  It is easy to handle and contain.  WoW Classic went live with more than 150 servers.  And then they had to add some more when Burning Crusade Classic hit and they had to split out the people who wanted to stay in the land of vanilla.

So it isn’t a trivial exercise moving forward.  And they have to make the decision about whether or not to move everybody forward.  I suspect that there is a faction at Blizz that believes you progress or you die off, that this classic ride ends with a whole bunch of people at whatever post-Shadowlands expansion they’re at  when and if they catch up.

I expect, however, there will be a loud group in the community that won’t want to go past WotLK.  Will Blizz off another era split?  Will they offer one for Burning Crusade Classic as well?  Will the classic experiment require Blizz to create a whole pantheon of expansion locked, never to progress, special snowflake servers?

I know that seems ideal to some, but I suspect that it won’t be as nice as it sounds, that some expansions will be more favored than others, that the overhead will be large and confusing, and that Blizz will need to make transfer/clone forward options available all the way along at a price lower than even $15. (Also, how many versions of WoWHead and Icy Veins will we need?  One for each expansion?)

But the flip side of all of that is what do they do if they just stop at WotLK, that “classic” really is just the first three seasons of the game and everything after Cataclysm is ignored?  I suspect that Blizz just re-rolls WoW Classic again and launches into that hype again.  It will have been at least five years since the first rush to old Azeroth, and the EverQuest team has demonstrated that nostalgia is an evergreen source of money.

Will it be another 150+ server event that has a big impact on the company financials?  I don’t know.  I suspect that it won’t be that popular, but the draw of WoW is not to be discounted.  And what happens with the previous classic servers if this hits?

Those are a few options and I am sure I could come up with more.  Blizzard has time to think about this.  As I noted above, I expect that WotLK Classic is a given and that we’re at least 18 months away from that being a thing.  But at some point they’re going to have to make a call on direction and plans.  I am already curious as to where they will go.

Where do you think the classic experience is heading?

Stumbling Into Hellfire Ramparts

When we got together this past weekend for our first run after the opening of the Dark Portal the question came up as to where we ought to go.  There had been some talk of staying pure and not going to Outland until we had finished up the remaining Azeroth instances.  That was our idealism speaking.

But with shiny new content just on the other side of the portal we ended up deciding to go through to give the first instance a try.

On the way to Honor Hold

We had all done at least a couple of quests in Hellfire Peninsula and had upgraded a piece of gear here and there… I had a new shield and new pants, both of which were basic first quest green gear that were markedly better than the dungeon blue gear they replaced… but were mostly going in with Azeroth gear and our new group composition, with which we still had some learning to do.

But we didn’t really talk about all of that, we just wanted to try the first five person instance, Hellfire Ramparts.

The first thing we had to do was find the place.  I did what I expect we did last time, which was go out to the wall where the instance is, ride up the wrong set of stairs, and then wander around for about 20 minutes until I finally thought I had found the right place.  There was a crowd there, so I just asked.

This looked like the right crowd

I got an affirmative.  It turned out that I had ridden past the ramp that goes here to go up onto the wall.  I’m pretty sure I’ve made that mistake before.

Once we had assembled at Honor Hold we rode on out to the instance.

Crag Boars Assemble!

Our group for the run was:

  • Ula – level 60 gnome mage
  • Wilhelm – level 60 human paladin (protection)
  • Fergorin – level 60 human paladin (holy)
  • Beanpole – level 60 gnome warlock

We managed to navigate successfully navigate to the right spot and, once inside, found ourselves facing the first encounter.  Two mobs.

There they are

We managed those two without issue, and then managed to nearly wipe on the next pair.  To be fair, a patrolling group came around the corner and the wheels came off… and we only “nearly” wiped because the exit was a short distance from the fight so once I went down people were able to run for safety.

Down already

We were still getting used to the new group composition and learning things about our classes.  Beanpole’s Felguard took some getting used to.  The Felguard is a big part of his damage output, but it has some quirks.  He has to be careful about when the Felguard gets sent in, as its first attack is always a charge with a stun, which can be awkward when I am trying to pull a mob back to a safe place to fight.  The Felguard also has an AOE attack that goes off every so often that will break polymorph if the mob is too close.

So we used that run up to the first boss to hone our play.  We tried to work it so that I would pull the main group away from whichever mob got sheeped so it wouldn’t get whacked by the Felguard… and so I could use consecrate to help build up aggro when I needed it across multiple mobs.

There were a couple more deaths before we made it to Watchkeeper Gargolmar, the first boss, but we made it.

Watchkeeper Gargolmar wanders

That fight wasn’t so bad.  He doesn’t hit too hard and you just have to kill his two companions first, as they heal him otherwise, and then it is on to him.  He called out for heals, but none were coming for him.  He also dropped a very nice item, the Light-Touched Breastplate, which arguably should have gone to Fergorin, but which was such an upgrade over my chest piece that I got it.

Past Gargolmar is the tower up to the next level, where we had more problems than we did with the boss fight.  There is a group of four casters and a melee mob at the top of the ramp which brought back bad memories from runs long ago.  We ended up wiping on that group, but not before we had taken down three of them, so the clean up afterwards was easy.

At the top of the tower a doorway leads out into an open area with patrols and groups standing around.  A bad pull on my part got a patrol and a group, which led to another wipe.

Down again

During the fight Ula was knocked back and landed behind some barrels, where she was stuck until she died.  We were able to spot her skeleton once we were all back.

A gnome sized skeleton

After that though, we were able to clear around the open area and make our way to the next boss, Omor the Unscarred.

There he is

This fight was a challenge.  I expect if we had either spent time gearing up in Hellfire Peninsula or if we had brought a fifth person for some additional DPS, this wouldn’t have been as much of a challenge.  But we were on the hairy edge of being able to handle this with only two DPS, our gear, and our skill set.  We wiped a few times.

Dead on the ground

Three times we came back and were still willing to give it another go.  We were close on the second and third tries.  On the fourth we were very close as well, but this time on the right side of victory.  Fergorin and I were left standing after the fight, but we had done it.

We took a victory shot with the fallen foe, thinking this might be the pinnacle of our run.

Victory over Omor

And that was a pretty accurate estimate.

The final boss pairing, Nazan & Vazruden, turned out to be a bit too much for us.

The pair of them are an event where you start off with two guards, then Vazruden jumps down off of Nazan, his dragon mount, and you fight him.  Nazan shoots fireballs while you’re fighting him, and you have to move away from them.  Then Nazan lands and joins the fight.  That was the point where things went bad for us each time.  Nazan pretty much one-shotted me with his breath attack three times running.

Nazan burninating again

After the third run at him I was red paper doll on about half of my gear, so we were about done.  Later on we read up a bit on how to fight Nazan, but that was going to have to wait until next time.

While we didn’t finish the final boss, we learned quite a bit about how our group works now and we got a few nice drops along the way.  Still, we need to upgrade some of our Azeroth gear for Outland gear before we go back.

Stratholme with The Replacements

The Dark Portal might be open, but we still have some work to do back in Azeroth before the instance group travels to Honor Hold.  One of the things on our list is get used to the new composition of the group.

The joke on Monday when we were playing is that Ula had fired the old group and hired some replacements for dungeon runs.  Last time around I had substituted in my paladin, Wilhelm, for Viniki, my warrior.  But, with the level 58 boosts available, we ended up getting two more substitutions.

First in was Skonk our priest, who dropped out in favor of a boosted paladin spec’d to heal named Fergorin.   That was the group’s first experiment with the WoW Classic character boost, which gives you gear and skills and a basic mount and a bit of gold. (30 gold seemed to be the amount.)  The gear didn’t seem bad… Fergorin got something for every slot, which might make a solo leveling player jealous, as trinkets are kind of rare outside of instance content… though the look of the gear might have left something to be desired.

When a Dwarf cosplays as an Ogre

With two paladins in the mix we could double up on auras and blessings and not lose a resser.

The Moronae, dissatisfied with the changes to the feral spec on his druid, went for a boost as well, choosing a gnome warlock whom he named Beanpole.  That lost us a combat ress, but got us soul stones and health stones along with warlock DPS.

The weekend was busy, but Monday was a holiday in the US, so we met up that afternoon to give the new team a try out.  The group was:

  • Ula – level 60 gnome mage
  • Wilhelm – level 60 human paladin (protection)
  • Fergorin – level 60 human paladin (holy)
  • Beanpole – level 59 gnome warlock

The new group met up for the first time out in the Eastern Plaguelands at Light’s Hope Chapel.

Welcoming everybody onto the new team

We were out there because we had decided on Stratholme as our next target and warm up run.  It had the advantage of possible gear upgrades, several quests that had decent rewards both in gold and gear, and both paladins needed drops from the instance to get going on the charger mount quest.

From Light’s Hope Chapel Stratholme is just a modest ride to the northwest of the zone, where we found the meeting stone and went in.  Going in we were reminded how much we had likely forgotten since we last visited.  Going through the main entrance leaves you locked inside the instance.  The only way out… discounting portals or hearthstones… is through the instance.

Looking into Stratholme

We got into the instance and cleared the first couple of groups, but it quickly became clear that it had been a long time since we last did Stratholme.  Going back through the blog I have one run from January 2008 and another after the Dungeon Finder was put in when we were doing Horde alts in mid 2010.  We eventually had to go dig out an old map online to figure out where we were and where we ought to go.

Stratholme of old

On that map we came in where the blue “A” is and worked our way around to the courier and the first mailbox, managing not to wipe even when we did things like open the mailbox immediately after the first fight, before we had healed up, something that triggered another fight.

The mobs were in groups of elites and non-elites, so for me tanking was getting in there, casting consecrate and holy shield and then keeping them up.  That was mostly enough to keep everything on me.  Fergorin quickly got in a cycle of healing that seemed pretty active.

Beanpole had gone the demonology spec route, so his Felguard was in there doing melee damage.  We tinkered around with having its taunt on or off and seemed to do better with it off in most circumstances.  And then there was Ula, still the mage queen of burst DPS.

We made our way north, through the gate that traps you and releases mobs, only opening when you kill them… we remembered that much about the place, until we got to the Y intersection at point 2 on the map, where it was a left or right choice between the living and undead portions of the instance.  We decided to go right, into the undead.

We seemed to do pretty well and made it to The Unforgiven, who is 3 on the map, and defeated him.  There was a nice upgrade for me at the end of that fight.

New Shoulders

That was an upgrade for me on all stats.

We made our way around to the open area around the fountain, which is where the 2s are on the map.  That is where our first mishap came.  We pulled one group from around the fountain and, during that fight, Beanpole’s felguard went running past me through another group, and into a third, pulling everybody back on to us, causing our first wipe.

Down by the fountain

We did manage to kill a lot of the mobs, so some progress was made.  And Fergorin had the soul stone, so was able to revive and ress us.  But more importantly, as we sat there getting ready to return to the fight, we spotted a shadowy figure somewhat hidden off to the side of the road.  You can just barely see him by a barrel off to the left of the screen shot above.  That was Hearthsinger Forresten, a rare spawn.  He is not aggro and just hangs out off to the side, so you can miss him.  Our pause there made sure we saw him, and we slew him in turn.

Forreseten finished

He coughed up another big upgrade, this time for Ula, the Magister’s Boots.

From there we cleared the rest of the fountain and moved into the next area, where we found Magistrate Barthilas, who drops the key to the side door of the instance.  But only one key, so Fergorin got that.  From there we pressed on into the mini-boss section, marked 10, 11, and 12 on the map.  There we started having some problems.

Into that section of town

There are a lot of mobs, often in groups very close together, along with some flying mobs that move around the area and who can fear you into other groups.  So we got in over our heads at least once before we had made it very far.

A bad pull will do you in

We cleared as carefully as we could, and did okay, but our first run at the first of the mini-bosses, Baroness Anastari, ended in a wipe due to a proximity pull of nearby mobs we had sought to bypass.

Baroness Anastari survived

We had been lucky with the soul stone previously, but with a 30 minute timer we were eventually going to end up in the gap between casts, so we had to run back from the graveyard this time around.  Fortunately, the run from there to the side door is very short and we had obtained the key to it already.  Magistrate Barthilas sometimes spawns further in the instance, so we were happy to have found him early, if only to avoid a longer run.

From there we did okay.  Another wipe on trash getting out of hand caught us, but we had the soul stone up by then, and were able to carry on and slay the other two bosses.  So we went towards the final area, 14 and 15 on the map, only to find the gate locked.  Something sparked a distant memory about the three bosses we had just killed, so we ran back and checked the areas behind them, slaying the mobs there.  Clearing those areas opened the gate and left us facing the final challenges.

Facing the patchwork undead

This is an event, though it starts off slowly.  Once you start pulling the mobs around the courtyard some start wandering your way, so if you aren’t killing them fast enough you can end up overwhelmed.  We figured that out the hard way, wiping once more.

Our second try got out of hand as well, though this time Fergorin had set up a Divine Intervention macro as we were once again on the soul stone cool down.  As we got too many mobs and started losing people, he hit the macro and put DI on me, as the soul stone was on cool down still, which takes you out of combat for three minutes, sacrificing the caster.  I waited until all the mobs reset back in the courtyard and ressed Fergorin and then we ressed the other two.

Getting everybody back

I had also managed to go red on my shield during that fight, so part of the reason I started losing aggro is that you cannot cast Holy Shield if you don’t have a shield equipped.  Ula had picked up a green loot shield and traded that to me for another try.

We got ourselves set up for another run, and this time managed to slay all the patchwork horrors, drawing out Ramstein the Gorger.  We finished him as well.  Success.

We then sat down to drink and heal as another group came out of the central building.  We had not even looted Ramstein when they were walking towards us and in aggro range and suddenly we had to fight again.  We fell apart and wiped again.

Another wipe

We didn’t have a soul stone again, so it was another run back from the graveyard and in through the side door.  But once at the gate we found that mobs we had passed a while ago had begun to respawn.  The loot on Ramstein was lost as we decided to call it a night there.

That room and beyond looks full again

So we did not get to the final boss on the undead side of the instance, so we still have that left to do.  Fergorin and I also did not come up with the Strathome holy water vials we needed for the paladin charger mount quest, getting only two each.  So we’ll have to come back for that as well.

On the upside, we did get some nice drops, Beanpole made it to level 60, we did complete at least one of the quests, and I made it to honored with the Argent Crusade, largely because Wilhelm was still wearing the Argent Commission in his trinket slot.  I was eyeing the trinket that Ramstein dropped, but that was not to be.

And, most of all, it wasn’t a bad warm up run for a group of four, three of which are playing new classes in the group.  At least it seemed like we did okay to me.  We’ll see if Ula keeps us or fires us and looks for more replacements.