Sunday, September 15, 2019

Jog On! : WoW Classic

The sheer amount of footslogging required by Classic WoW has made for a theme of sorts on a quite a few blogs I follow. Some people approve of it, some, like me, even profess to enjoy it. Others find it's getting on their nerves.

I spent a good deal of Friday night running. Saturday afternoon I ran some more. On Friday, most of my roadwork was voluntary. Saturday, it didn't always feel that way.

Midway through Friday evening I popped into Ironforge to train. Some dwarf (or was it a gnome?) asked me if I'd deliver a package for him. So far so typical. Only he wanted me to drop it off at the Raceway in Shimmering Flats in Thousand Needles.

Let's get real here - that's hardly a trip to the corner store. Thousand Needles is on another continent!
But he was paying thirty pieces of silver (where I have heard that before?) and even at Level 28 that's a purse. Anyway, I fancied a run. I said I'd do it.

The quickest way to Shimmering Flats would probably be to get the ship from Menethil Harbor to Theramore. At least that's the right end of Kalimdor. I would have done it that way too, only circumstances conspired. I ended up taking the scenic route.

I got on the griffin to Menethil. Didn't take long, over the mountains.  As I jumped off I saw a ship just pulling in to the dock. Even though I'd already taken both ships for previous quests I couldn't remember which dock  went where.

I sprinted for the ship and just managed to leap aboard as it pulled away. No time to stop and ask the harbormaster where it was headed. Naturally, it was bound for Auberdine. (Curiously, not one of the half-dozen Classic websites, wikis and info pages I've just checked has been updated to show that this route exists).

There was some quest in my book I'd never bothered to finish. It wanted me to go speak to an Elf in Ashenvale or some such name. (Astranaar, in fact). When I'd got it a few levels back I didn't know where that was and I'd decided it was too much trouble. Now it was on my way so I thought I'd knock it out. Why not?

Looking at the map, it seemed all I needed to do to get to Thousand Needles was start heading south and stop before I fell into the sea. I set off through the dismal, dark forests. Why Night Elves are in The Alliance and Taurens in The Horde mystifies me. Surely no nature-loving race could live in that eternal gloom? I think Night Elves might be no more than vampires with good P.R.

The "quick sidetrip" to finish the green quest did not go well. It was in some chapel I couldn't find, even though I took every track and side-road I saw. I even cut across country a few times. After about twenty minutes I said "Sod it!" and headed due south again

Due south lies The Barrens, the zone with both the worst reputation and the most misleading name in Azeroth. The infamous Barrens Chat isn't much of a thing when you can't even hear anyone from The Horde speak. I think I heard about three Alliance players pipe up in the whole time I was there.

As for the name, I can only imagine it was thought up by some fool Night Elf. Probably lurched out of  that miserable forest, got blinded by the glare of the sun, couldn't see a thing and assumed that meant there was nothing worth seeing. Couldn't have been more wrong.

The Barrens is a gorgeous zone. Wide, lush plains under a baking sun, spreading banyan trees for shade, wildlife worthy of a Safari. Why Hemet Nessingwary (of whom more later) is holed up in Stranglethorne when he could be here is yet another mystery.

It's also i n c r e d i b l y vast! I timed my run from north to south. I didn't stop once. I stayed on the road, heading in a straight line down the middle of the map, except for a couple of minor detours around Crossroads and a guard post or two. I had Aspect of The Cheetah up, giving me a 30% run speed bonus.

It took me almost twenty minutes. That's five minutes longer than crossing Norrath's West Karana at base run speed! It might be the biggest single, named zone I've ever run through. I loved every second!

Didn't love the abrupt halt at the sheer drop at the end so much. The Horde have a nice cliffside lift to take them down to Thousand Needles but they don't sell tickets to Alliance scrubs. They kill them.

They didn't kill me because I went for the Butch and Sundance option. I ran staight to the edge. The lift was at the bottom and two angry Taurens were at my back. I jumped.

I landed on a ledge halfway down and exploded on impact. Kidding! I'm a dwarf. I just made a dent in the rock. Still died, though.

Thankfully, my ghost arose in a graveyard in Thousand Needles. I ran back, got the lift, rezzed on it as we passed my broken body, rode to the top and then back down. Job done!

From there it was simple jog south, through canyons filled with centaurs and nasty mountain cats that pounce unexpectedly out of stealth. Everything was a handy two or three levels below me so I dealt summarily with anything that had the temerity to try interrupt a messenger in the course of his duties.

Finally, I emerged onto the blinding sandscape of Shimmering Flats. Well, it would have been blinding if it had been daylight like it had been when I started. By then it was night. Everything, including the sand was a luscious, moonlight blue. The mobs wandering the sand were a tad higher than me - some of them more than a tad  - so I picked my way carefully between them until I made it to the Raceway.

I used to love this area back when I played Retail (as, of course, no-one called it back 2009. What would they have thought?). I spent many happy afternoons and evenings hunting there and further south in dunes around Gadgetzan.

The Raceway is one of WoW's absolute highlights in my opinion. It has races, anouncements, demented gnome engineers, a friendly ogre and Daisy, The Race Girl. There's a wealth of amusing detail everywhere, should you care to take the time and trouble to look.

By then, though, it was time for bed. I settled down in a well-appointed, empty hut and logged off. If I hadn't been so tired I might have carried on to Gadgetzan, probably my favorite town in all of Azeroth. They have an Inn there and I don't like to miss my rested xp.

As it was, I felt almost as exhausted as if I'd done the actual running myself. All told, the trip must have taken more than ninety minutes. An hour and a half in which I killed nothing except a few mobs that got in my way and completed precisely one quest. One of the best sessions I've had so far!

This tale has grown a little longer in the telling than I expected so I'm going to split it in two. Read on next time for the journey to Stranglethorn in search of the great hunter Hemet Nessingwary. Another package to deliver...

SPOILER!   It took even longer but didn't go nearly as well. And I still have the package.


  1. Hehe. I don't know about in WoW Classic, but I love the freedom to run and explore in Asheron's Call.

    It is helped of course by the fact that at higher levels, assuming you're unencumbered (or at least not to any significant degree) your character does a really good impression of the Flash.

    But even at those speeds a straight run from one end of Dereth (or Ireth Lassel, as it was known before we turned up) would take *hours* upon *hours* if you were to forgo the portal loops setup by the Empyrean.

    So my theory is that it is less about the time it takes to do the travel and the speed and freedom of movement you experience throughout. My follow-up hypothesis being then that I think I'd fall into the camp ultimately frustrated by the on-foot exploration experience of WoW C.

    As for your story though, I can already imagine STV. xD That area is *brutal*. Look forward to reading your retelling.

    1. Anarchy Online, which I played at launch for a few weeks, was as you describe AC, only without the Flash speed. The zones seemed never-ending. I remember running for what seemed like hours. It was fun at first but the thrill of exploring a vast world that was mainly empty but occasionally extremely deadly wore off after a while.

      I feel quite differently about run speed in general, though. I find the base run speed in Classic very comfortable and with the 30% buff it's about as fast as I would want it to be. Ever since I started playing MMORPGs I've had this theory that base run speed for the character should be the exact equivalent of run speed in real life. I frequently find myself mentally estimating the distances my characters are travelling and then guesstimating how long it would take a fit cross-country runner to cover tehm (I assume our characters are all pretty fit, given their adventuring lifestyles).

      Mostly it seems to me that the base run speed is already five or ten times what it should be. Not that I think we should all move at that speed all the time but I think that mounts (sensible ones, not silly ones) should be standard at much lower levels and that there should be on-road fast travel, the exact equivalent of griffins but with horses or camels or even carriages. For several expansions EQII used this system and it works very well.


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