Saturday, August 10, 2019

Seventeen Days : WoW Classic

So... WoW Classic. Soon to be upon us like a speeding locomotive in just a couple of weeks plus change. Will it drive all before it or crash spectacularly into the buffers?

As reported by Massively:OP, subs are up: "Subscribers in World of Warcraft® increased since mid-May, following the release date announcement and beta for World of WarcraftClassic and the Rise of Azshara™ content update.". And as Bree observes "...wouldn’t it be worrisome if they weren’t?".

Well, yes it would, although maybe not quite yet. True, you have to have a subscription to join in the revivalist fun. On the other hand, if all you want to do is party like it's 2004, it's bit early to pull the switch. What are you going to do for the next two weeks? Money wasted, isn't it?

Makes a lot more sense to re-sub just before the launch date. That way you get a full month of Classic play, which I'm guessing is going to be a week or two more than a lot of people are going to need before they discover that subbing hasn't made them fifteen years younger after all.

That's what I'm going to do. I had already decided to do it purely based on the blogging opportunities it's sure to afford but last night I asked Mrs Bhagpuss (in guild chat in Guild Wars 2 because why get up and walk into the next room?) whether she was interested in re-subbing for Classic and she replied with an unequivocal "Yes".

I wasn't sure she even knew WoW Classic was a thing. I don't think we've talked about it before. She's also not much for going back to MMORPGs she's stopped playing. She did return to EverQuest, EQII and Vanguard but all of those were more than a decade ago.

But then, Mrs Bhagpuss did like WoW when we played, possibly more than I did. She made it to a slightly higher level and carried on playing for a few weeks longer. Conversely, I've been back many times to futz about at low levels, whereas she's never played a session since she stopped about a decade ago.
This is where it all begins. Well, after a bit of a jog. Get your snowshoes ready.

The thing is, we both missed out on World of Warcraft when it was a cultural phenomenon and an unstoppable force in the genre. By the time we got around to trying it, sometime around 2009, WoW was mid-WotLK, considered by some to be the zenith of the game. 

I found that version very enjoyable. There was still plenty of granularity. Mobs didn't fall over from a hard stare. Leveling took a while. The world felt open, connected and real.

On the other hand, a lot of the more interesting mechanics I'd read up about had already left the game. I was particularly disappointed to find that pet management for hunters was no longer a thing.

Because of the way I came to WoW, a great deal of my interest in Classic relies not on nostalgia but on a desire to experience something I missed out on first time around. I'm aware it's going to be a recreation but I'm expecting it to be a convincing one.

As we get closer to launch a few questions arise. With Mrs Bhagpuss signed up I know I won't be playing entirely alone but I'd quite like to have a few other contacts, not least so we can do some dungeons. WoW dungeons are quite good fun.

There will, of course, be a huge number of guilds recruiting and Mrs Bhagpuss, who is a lot more social in games than I am, will quite likely end up in one. That said, she's nowhere near as game-social as she used to be. I don't think any of us are, The games themselves have largely removed the need to make that effort. Whether the old social skills will return remains to be seen.

No pandas, space goats or jolly green goblins in 2004 2019!
I'd be interested in joining a guild made up of bloggers from the local blogosphere but so far I haven't heard of anyone planning to start such a thing. Even if someone does, it will either be a European guild on an EU server, where I won't be playing, or an American guild on a US server, where I will play, but mostly when everyone is asleep.

I prefer U.S. servers for a number of reasons. I've played on many EU servers over the years and they tend to be really bad-tempered compared to US or Global servers. U.S. players just seem generally more cheerful. 

More importantly, though, I really don't like playing MMORPGs in their prime time. I like a busy environment but prime time in a successful game isn't just busy, it's heaving. Playing prime time  is like choosing to go and do your weekly shop at lunchtime on Saturday, when you can't get around the aisles for families shooting the breeze with their friends and neighbors and every checkout has a line ten deep.

Much better to play shoulder hours. As a UK resident, I'm five hours behind the East Coast, nine behind the West. That means things are beginning to liven up around the time I get home from work and just starting to get really busy when I log off to go to bed. Weekends are generally comfortably populated from lunchtime onwards and weekdays I have the place to myself, unless the game has a lot of Australian players, which many do.

Blizzard just released their initial list of server names. Most of them are... odd. TAGN has the full list. I'm inclined towards Bloodsail Buccaneers, which has the virtue of a memorable name, almost the only US server that can make that claim, and a PvE-RP ruleset. It's also physically located on the East Coast, which, by dint of the transatlantic cable, generally gives me at least as good a ping as most EU servers.

I don't do a lot of RP (sorry, Psychochild) but I am very much "RP compatible" as Wilhelm describes it. I'm happy to be around people who roleplay, I pick character names that don't offend the lore and I like to talk "in character" if the opportunity arises. Mostly, though, I find that my playstyle just slides by unnoticed on an RP server.

After choosing a server comes faction, race and class. I really don't think there's much of a decision to be made here. I tend to prefer Alliance to Horde. Goblins are a huge draw but there are no goblins in Classic so Alliance it's going to be.
Wrong. Just wrong.

For race I strongly prefer the short of stature. That means Dwarves or Gnomes. My general preference is for Gnomes but WoW Gnomes are a bit creepy, at least the male ones. I think it's the mustaches. That means it's most likely going to be a Dwarf.

Actually, it has to be a Dwarf because my class of first preference is Hunter. As I mentioned, I was somewhat disappointed to miss out on the pet management aspect of the class and I'm very keen to explore that. Also I really like having to manage arrows as  a resource rather than having a magic bow that never runs out of ammunition.

If I end up hanging around for a while I'll almost certainly make a Gnome Warlock. I like the class and it suits a Gnome. I'd entertain the idea of playing a Druid but the only Alliance race that can be one is Night Elf and I'd uninstall rather than play one of those. I might try a Tauren Druid for the Horde if Classic sticks.

That about covers everything, I think. It's tempting to re-sub now but if I did I'd just end up boring myself with the dull Legion content my Hunter is lumbered with or, more likely, not log in at all. I'll have to exercise restraint and wait until sometime around the 25th or 26th.

Nice to have something to look forward to in MMORPGs for once, even if it is a decade and a half out of date!


  1. There was some concern in our group as to which server we ought to play on. Earl will be in Japan, so Bloodsail Buccaneers, our target server for now, seemed a possible poor choice given it is setup as an east coast server. However, I think in this day and age we're probably not going to notice the difference. People all over the world manage to play EVE Online, and it has servers located in London.

    1. My feeling is that if you aren't engaged in PvP it's not going to make much difference. I've been playing on US servers for 20 years and I can't say I've ever had a ping problem that was speficially because of the distance involved.

  2. U.S. players just seem generally more cheerful.

    That's funny to hear, because usually I see people say the opposite, that US players are much more high-strung and EU ones more relaxed. (I haven't got enough experience playing on US servers to judge for myself...)

    1. It is a long time since I played regularly on EU servers so my experience is rather dated. I was on EQ's Bayle servers for a while and the drama was off the scale. There seemed to be no end of people who preferred to mither around complaining how much they disliked the game or how bored they were and yet they'd log in every day to tel you that. I also had a bad time on one of LotRO's EU-RP servers, where I was hassled for not rping when I wasn't even talking - I was just using the bank! There was also a good deal of inter-country bickering that got quite wearing.

      US players tend to be more voluble and there is always the chance that volubility will turn into trolling but by and large the general atmosphere seems to be a bit more positive (provided no-one mentions WoW or politics, of course). US servers are also usually the default global servers, meaning you get a lot of Aussies, Kiwis, South-East Asians and South Americans, which makes for an interesting cultural mix.

      Have you ever seen non-eu/us players, in any significant numbers, on EU servers?

    2. Only the Russians! They tend to keep to themselves though and will be getting their own servers in Classic too, so...

  3. The blogging potential is probably the biggest (and maybe only) thing keeping WoW Classic in consideration for me, too.

    And yup -- looking to sub as close to the day I start as possible if I do jump in again. Annnnd I reckon too that for me, this will be a week or two more than I really need. But I guess we'll see!

    Also: Haha re: Night Elves and rather uninstall over play. Because that's how I feel about Gnomes. Dwarves kinda get a pass. But Gnomes. Man. Why haven't they been removed yet? ;)

    1. Female gnomes are ok, I think. You can make them look quite cute and friendly. Male gnomes are just weird, though. As for Night Elves, I have a problem with all races with very long ears that stand erect - I can't imagine how they can go into combat without having their ears lopped off. It makes them unplayable for me.

  4. "U.S. players just seem generally more cheerful." I wonder if that has more to do with you playing off-prime hours than nationality?

    I like "RP Compatible." That's what I am too. But I have so many fond memories of "vanilla WoW" that I don't think I want to taint them by playing Classic. As someone said sometime, you can't go home again.


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