Saturday, September 21, 2019

Savage Silk: WoW Classic

People who don't get it sometimes ask why, since some of us claim to be so very keen on leveling as slowly as humanly possible, we still pounce on double xp weekends and don't hesitate to use whatever in-game xp buffs we receive as rewards. It's a question that deserves a detailed, serious and considered answer.

It's not going to get one here. Not today anyway.

I will, however, offer up for consideration one specific occasion when this apparent paradox might be seen as nothing less than sound, logical sense. That would be when you've made a character with the intention of having them become a craftsperson, only to find that the game demands they reach specific levels in their adventuring class before anyone will train them.

It's a design choice that I've never liked. As a habitual player of multiple characters I don't strongly object to limiting the tradeskills each character can learn to two or three, although I'd prefer a system where any character can learn all the skills, perhaps with a penalty in terms of efficiency or rate of progress as the number taken increases.

I'm also fairly sanguine about whether the developers decide to make crafting into its own mini-game or just go for a click-and-watch progress bar. I do like a good mini-game, if it really is good. Vanguard had the best I've ever seen. It could have held its own as a standalone game. EverQuest II's is decent. Anything that involves me trying to hit a moving point on a pendulum can bite my axe.

I sense a sea voyage in your future, young gnome.

World of Warcraft, either flavor, favors the progress bar and rather well, too. I like the way the bar gets slower and slower, the higher level or rarer or more complex the recipe. I abhorr the way some games do the exact opposite, speeding the process up as your skill increases, so that making a Level 80 widget takes a fraction of the time it did at Level 5.

Even worse is accelerated batch processing. Rift was the first MMORPG I played that did this and I hated it on sight. Guild Wars 2 also does it. Blehhhhhhhhhh! It should take ten times longer to make ten widgets, not a tenth of the time.

Obviously I don't want making a hat in a game to take as long as it takes to make a hat in real life, which is several hours. I can tell you that because Mrs. Bhagpuss has been making felt hats recently, along with a plethora of other felt products. She came in to show me her latest cloche about five minutes ago.

That doesn't mean I want it to take no time at all. I want it to take just long enough that I feel I've "done something". Classic does a very good job of that. What it doesn't do a very good job of at all is tell you where to go to learn your craft or how you'regoing to have to kill a few thousand monsters before anyone's willing to show you how to stitch a prettier shirt.

Only another 18 bandits to go. At least I'm going to max out dagger.
It's all very well when you're just starting out. The guards in Stormwind and Ironforge will cheerfully tell you who to speak to to learn the basics. They'll even add a flag to your map to show you where they live. After that you're on your own.

Your second trainer, the "Expert", is usually in the same building as your first, the "Journeyman", but after that you need to find the "Artisan" and he or she could be anywhere. As far as I can tell there is nothing in game to tell you where that might be.

Weaponmasters are good enough to give you directions to people they know of who can train you in skills they themselves don't have but crafting trainers have no conversation whatsoever. (Incorrect! See Footnote 1). Guards don't help and there's no hint in your own crafting "book".

At this point most people would tab out and google the information or go to their favorite bookmarked WoW site. For good or ill I have chosen not to use any out-of-game resources while leveling up in Classic so that's not an option for me.

Which is how I came to be running my Level 13 Warlock from Stormwind to Darnassus last night. She's been 150/150 Journeyman tailor for a while now, able to make Silk Bags but not able to get any skill increases for doing it. My Hunter had acquired another couple of stacks of Silk Cloth and I thought it was about time the Warlock visited the Artisan Tailor and learned the skill.

The Hunter mailed the Silk, along with 50 silver pieces to pay the fee and the Warlock hopped a griffin to Loch Modan and began the run through Wetlands to Menethil Harbor. The trip passed without incident. Well, the voidwalker died, holding back a crocolisk that wandered to close to the path and aggroed, but that doesn't count. It's what he's there for.

Seated at a table in the bar area, table chosen so I can look out the door and see when we reach port. I am on a roleplaying server, after all.

The trip to Darnassus was straightforward. I got on the right boat and remembered to get off before it turned around and came back. I also remembered to go and get the griffin point before I took the boat to Teldrassil and to get the point in Teldrassil so I never have to use that ship again.

It all went wrong when I got to the combined Leatherworker and Tailoring emporium. I had assumed that, since the Leatherworker Artisan was there, the Tailoring equivalent would be too. You know what they say about assumptions.

The Artisan Tailor is not in Darnassus. I was pretty sure I could guess where he was. I didn't think there'd be much chance of him being in Ironforge. Sod's law dictated he'd be in Stormwind, the very place my Warlock had woken up about half an hour earlier.

Rather than assume, wrongly, yet again I did what I've taken to doing in lieu of googling; I asked in General Chat "Anyone know where the Artisan Tailor is? He's not in the Tailor shop here". In seconds someone replied "Stormwind".

What's the catch?
This, I recall, is how we used to do it. For years in EverQuest most questions were asked and aswered in /ooc or /shout. I used to answer dozens some days because I'm one of those annoying people who like to share their knowledge. It's a bonus if someone actually asked for it.

There used to be a lot of that sort of thing but after a while the practice seemed to fall out of fashion. Time came when, if you dared to offer up a practical query to the wisdom of crowds, instead of helpful replies you'd get a chorus of "Google it!".

I found that condescending and fatuous and still do. It's not as though Google is a secret known only to a few. If someone's asking in game they probably have a good reason for not googling it.

I used to challenge the google enthusiasts with the concept that part of the point of MMORPGs is the multi-player bit and that talking to other players should be encouraged not stamped on. Never went down well. Eventually I gave up.

Classic, I'm very happy to say, is not like that. I have yet to see anyone reply to a query with "Google" or "WoWHead". People answer promptly and helpfully. Often a discussion follows. I've learned a good deal by listening to player conversations in open channels after a question's been asked.

I journeyed back to Stormwind. Didn't take long. I Hearthstoned to Ironforge and got on the griff. Didn't take me more than a few minutes to find the Artisan Tailor. I offered him my fifty silver and he told me where to go. Out into the world to kill and kill until I could come back and show him my Level 20 badge.

All my own work. Well, mostly.
I was not best pleased. I did have it in my head that there was a level requirement but for some reason
I thought it was Level 16. I was ready for that. Another seven levels, though? That seemed like a mountain to climb.

So, yes, at this point, had some means of accelerating my experience been available, I would have taken it. The journey and those smelly roses are all well and good but I have stitching to do. And, as it happens, I did have one source of double xp to hand.

My Warlock has been slacking in Stormwind for the best part of a week. She's been on and off making this and that but mostly she's been chilling in the Inn. As a result she'd built up the maximum rested xp, a level and a half's worth.

I took her to Westfall, where she had quests to kill thirty Defias and collect eight gnoll paws. By the time she had that lot she'd not only finished Level 13 (she was about 80% in to begin with) but the next level too, almost all of the xp coming from double xp kills.

She went around hoovering up quests and by the time I logged out for lunch she was Level 16. I plan on playing her for the rest of today and most likely tomorrow as well. I will make that Artisan Tailor eat his words and give me the respect I'm due! Even if I have to appear before him caked head to foot in the dried blood of a thousand enemies!

Ahem. Well, she is a Warlock. Part-time.

If they'd just let her sit quietly and sew there's be no need for any of this malarkey!

1. In fact, as Shintar points out in her comment below, Profession Trainers do tell you where to go next. It's not a clickable dialog option but they have static text at the top of their dialog window that explains where the next trainer you need is located. Of course, I just blanked that, thinking it was whatever had been there before!


  1. Trying to avoid spoilers, but there's another profession trainer that can be annoying to reach. She's hidden in a special place, that if you don't do a certain thing you'll never know she's there. She's still there to this day, in Retail, often confusing non-Vanilla/Classic players. You don't need her in Retail, but it is a nice bit of left-over nostalgia.

    That said, I do like how the original game made you go out into the world to find things. Various vendors with limited recipes in odd, out of the way places, trainers sending you all over the world to complete quests, etc. really breathed life into the game world in a way that Retail has removed in an effort to streamline gameplay. Ah, well.

    BTW: It's Teldrassil, not Tendrassil. :)

    1. Oops! I'll just correct that...

      Yes, it's that convenience vs inconvenience thing again. At the moment I find the inconvenience fascinating and intriguing but I understand how people did get fed up of it after a few years. Still, I'd rather have it this way.

      At some point I might have to start looking things up but as long as i can ask in chat and get answers I should be okay.

  2. As far as I can tell there is nothing in game to tell you where that might be.

    There is... once your skill becomes high enough to advance to Artisan, the Expert trainer's dialogue will change to something along the lines of "I have nothing left to teach you. Go see X in Y if you want further instruction". Not sure how and why you ended up with the impression that crafting trainers have no dialogue...

    1. OMG! I just logged in to check and he does - but it's in the block text at the start of the window, not as a clickable option! I'd been to the trainers so often I just blanked that completely.

      I did put that part into the post in the hope - and really the excpectation - that someone would correct me in the comments so thanks for that! I'll just add a little note...

  3. I'm on the cusp of love/annoyance with Classic on many things but I do love the lack of generalisation of vendors/trainers in the world. Yes it's inconvenient that you can only buy arrows in Teldrassil, and only buy bullets in/near Ironforge but as a Hunter it feels like there's a good reason for that and the idea of swapping from bow to gun feels so much more of a quest in and of itself as a result (plus the need to train the skill over there as well).

    I see this to be part of the same broad idea as your post on crafting skill trainers. Also as mentioned in comment above the fact that there are unique recipes out in the world to be found is something I always liked and really miss from retail. Why should all crafting trainers all know everything?

    1. I like the way Classic distributes recipes - training, unique vendors, quest rewards and even drops. I have a whole load stashed that either my crafters aren't yet high enough to learn yet or for which I haven't even got crafters for. The granularity of the whole experience is excellent, I think.

      Also, as Shintar's comment suggests, you do need to pay atention when you;re playinmg and not just click through everything. That's good, too.


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