Plans for Burning Crusade Classic’s prepatch

I really don’t have super-exciting adventures to share with you from WoW Classic these days. For the better part of a week, I’ve parked my Gnomey butt off the shores of the Hinterlands, hunting and skinning turtles as I ground my way to 49… 50… 51. Just nine more levels to go, and at this point I’m most likely to just grind my way there.

It’s working for me, to make Ironforge my base to store up rested XP, sell my goods, and repair before flying to wherever I’m grinding that week. Then I get into a mode and knock out a few more bars while I listen to an audio book or watch a movie on my phone.

I think all of us in WoW Classic have the pre-patch forefront in our minds these days. As I’ve heard it said, the TBC pre-patch is going to be a mini-expansion in its own right, at least if you look at the features it’s bringing: Two more races, four more zones, a talent tree revamp, and a leveling revamp.

My plans for the pre-patch are, I’m sure, a lot like many others’. As soon as it hits, I’m rolling up my Draenei Shaman and starting a new climb to 60 (or, at least, 58). I’ll look forward to the better starter zones and the faster overall leveling, not to mention the earlier mount acquisition. But all I can do for her right now is gather together some bags and get a whole lot of gold ready.

I have been thinking about her professions, too. I think I might actually try my hand at leatherworking, which will help gear up my Shaman. And skinning, of course, to make a self-sufficient package.

At the pace the beta’s currently going, I think an early-to-mid May pre-patch is likely. The question is past that, how long will it go on for? Everyone assumes one month minimum, but two months isn’t out of the question. I wouldn’t mind two, to be honest, because it’s going to be at least that long in getting my Shaman to Burning Crusade levels. But if it’s just a month, well, then the crowd will have moved on by the time I get there. That works too.

WoW Classic: The 40s leveling blues

When you get into the 40s in WoW Classic, it does all sorts of psychological seesawing in your head. On one hand, hey, I’m actually getting there. I’m level 47 and chugging along with the end goal in sight. I have most of my full range of skills and a pretty good build going on.

But on the other hand… man those levels come so… so slowly. Thanks to the exponential leveling curve design of most MMOs, especially in the older eras, it was like the game makes you crawl and scrabble for every inch of XP bar progress. You work, and sweat, and bleed to make it another level. And when you get that done? An even longer level lies waiting.

At least I can console myself with four facts:

  1. As simple and lengthy as it is, I’m still enjoying it. And I’m further now than I’ve ever been in WoW Classic, by a LONG shot.
  2. I’m using Joana’s leveling guide to be as efficient as possible (I used this back in the day too, and appreciate the streamlining that it offers today).
  3. I’m making a lot of money. Well, making some money. I’m up to 600 gold, so I can feasibly afford an epic mount once TBC’s prepatch drops. No, don’t start talking to me about buying a flying mount just yet. That’s a whole ‘nother story.
  4. I can get a lot of other stuff done — podcasts, audio books, movie watching — while I level.

And as I keep having to remind myself, at least once TBC’s prepatch arrives, leveling will be considerably faster, so my future Shaman won’t be quite so painful.

These days I’m rocking a full Demo build right down to soul link, and it’s working really well for me. The succubus makes the best pet, IMO, for this build in Classic because she has enough health to help with the soul link transfer, does a good amount of damage, and automatically crowd controls humanoid mobs if I aggro more than one.

So I continue to take pictures and make my way through zones like Azshara, Searing Gorge, and the Hinterlands on my quest for the elusive level 60 ding.

Random gushing about World of Warcraft’s Druids

Over the years of playing World of Warcraft, I’ve settled into a set stable of classes that I like the best and roll the most often. Death Knight and Warlock would be the two most played, I think, while Shaman and Hunters got some good amount of time in the past.

But the class that’s grown closest to my heart has to be the Druid, especially over the past half-decade or so. I’ve kind of developed a love affair with this class for many reasons, and I’ve played one in both Classic and Retail. It just *fits* me in a way that is perfect for my playstyle and personality.

For starters, there’s the fact that Druids are the most flexible hybrids in the game, able to essentially swap out four roles or mini-classes. That’s perfect for when you want a different playstyle or have a situation that class for one class over another.

And their toolkits are amazing, with heals, buffs, snares, a combat rez, and all sorts of other goodies. Lots of movement assists. I even really like the spellcasting animations and the heal-over-time nature of Restoration.

However, what really makes the Druid stand out to me is that above being a hybrid class, it’s also, in effect, its own faction. Way before Blizzard was yammering on about “class fantasy,” the Druid really had it going on. It was the game’s semi-hidden third faction, bridging the gap between Horde and Alliance. It had its own home base (and teleport) and strong identity.

When Blizzard tried to spread this to other classes in Legion with class order halls (which was a pretty good idea in retrospect), Druids still came out ahead with a fantastic hidden warp room that contained ports to all over the game world.

So yeah, nothing profound other than a geeky guy saying that he really, really likes the Druid. There are a few drawbacks to the class — the limited race choices, the clunky bear models in Classic — but I’m thinking that one is probably going to be my main going into TBC.

Pet classing without pets in WoW Classic

I don’t do a lot of tinkering around with my build in WoW Classic because of that exponentially increasing respec cost. I’ve done it only twice on this character, and I have promised myself that I won’t again until Burning Crusade launches and I can get my Felguard.

But in the last respec, I did invest down into the Demo tree and I got to a talent that I’ve never, ever used in my entire World of Warcraft career — demonic sacrifice. The idea here is that you can hit this button to kill your pet and gain a beneficial trait. Of course, the thought of deliberately killing my pet kind of goes against the whole concept of a pet class, so I’ve just never looked at it.

Until recently.

I was in Swamp of Sorrows and my Voidwalker was failing to hold taunt, as he normally does. He’s like the *worst* pet tank in Classic, I swear. So I’m getting railed on, and without a healthstone up, I was going to kill my VW for its shield. Instead, in that moment, I hit demonic sacrifice instead, expecting a short-term heal-over-time. What I got was so much more.

I guess I’ve never really read the tooltip closely, because this buff lasts for a whopping 30 minutes (or until you summon another pet). And when it’s the VW who does, the buff returns something like 4% of your max health every four seconds. It’s not insubstantial, let me tell you. In a game where the health and mana regen is so painfully slow, suddenly I’m watching my health soar right back up in practically no time at all.

That opened a whole new world for me, a world where I would just adventure without my pet — which wasn’t a good pet anyway. I started playing with this buff on, and let me tell you, it’s been FANTASTIC. I’m doing normal DPS, but I’m very hard to kill thanks to my health regen. I don’t have to sit for food, and since I can life tap this ever-increasing health bar for more mana, I don’t have to sit for drink either. I’m just always going.

Sure, I’ll respec and get my Felguard for TBC and that’ll be that, but for now, this is a really enjoyable way to play Classic. Maybe it’s subpar in a way that I don’t see, but I’m having a great time, so I don’t really care what the min-maxers say.

Trying to make bank in WoW Classic

As I’m nearing level 40 in WoW Classic, I have come to realize how much I’ve bungled this character. Oh, my warlock is fine, but she’s almost always broke at a time when I should be saving up a whole lot of money for epic and flying mounts, not to mention bigger bags, training, and other niceties.

This is most definitely in part by my choice to go Engineering, which has generated no money whatsoever. Initially I was fine with that: The Warlock gets a free mount at 40 anyway and the appeal of Engineering trinkets is a big one. And I may well continue down that track. But anything I’ve mined I’ve been saving or using for recipes, so there’s no gold generation there.

So I decided to at least take a break for a while from questing and settle down to simply farm stuff. I did a lot of research on different farming areas, although any of those tended to be over-farmed by level 60 mages zipping about and snapping up all of the mobs.

It was fine for a while. I actually like just grinding and farming, especially in WoW Classic. It’s relaxing, I can put on music or a movie while doing it, and I’m generating XP and money without having to worry about running here and there and everywhere. But of course it does get tremendously boring after a while and needs to be broken up by some other activity.

Honestly, I just wish that the pre-patch was here so that I could get started on my Draenei Shaman already. I feel that there’s all this time I have right now I could be doing that, but I’m going to have to wait until perhaps just a month before Burning Crusade comes out to start that process. And while you may be an amazing leveler with scads of time, I am not, and I know it’s going to take a whole lot longer than a month to get a character to level 58.

My farming has definitely helped my gold income. In a week or so, I’ve gone from 18 gold to 116 — and I got a rare pet drop that will go for about 225 gold when someone actually buys it on the auction house. At the very least, I tell myself, I can be earning money to funnel into my Shaman when the time comes. Because in WoW Classic, money really does make the world go ’round.

WoW Classic: Treasures in the toilet

These days I feel like I’m gaming with one foot in WoW Classic and the other in Burning Crusade Classic. I’m invested in the journey of my character in the old Azeroth and all that that entails, but I’m also preparing mentally and otherwise for BCC. Honestly, the pre-patch with Draenei can’t come soon enough. I need my space goat!

But I’ve got miles to go before I can sleep at level 60. I’ve hit 32, which isn’t nothing, and I’m starting to get hopeful for seeing an actual mount in my lifetime here. Meanwhile, my pets and I have been crisscrossing the world in an attempt to get those XP-rich quests done and maybe make a buck or two along the way.

Since I’ve been doing so many quests, I’ve noticed that these weren’t as boring or static as my memory once told me. I’ve been surprised on many occasions by quests that throw a wrench into the regular formula by triggering scripts or tossing challenging fights at me that I wasn’t prepared for.

Quests of all varieties really felt novel when WoW originally launched. I’d never really experienced an MMO with them — at least, not with interesting stories and personalities behind them. Some of that, not all, but some, holds up in 2021.

And of course, the best sight in WoW Classic is always a treasure chest just hanging out somewhere on the landscape. You never know what these bad boys hold! I know, mostly it’s nothing really that great, but I still get so excited about them even so.

That’s why you must always check the outhouses and bathrooms, boys and girls. Toilet treasure is no joke.

WoW Classic: Alliance’s Tirisfal Glades substitute

Lately in WoW Classic, I’ve spent a lot of time questing and grinding my way through Duskwood. In relation to all of the original zones of the game, Duskwood is very high up on my personal favorites — a top five, for sure, and maybe a top three.

There’s so much I like about this zone, but I’ll start with its theming. While Horde has its pure Halloween zone in Tirisfal Glades, Alliance has an equivalent in Duskwood. I have to imagine that it’s designed as a sister zone in a lot of ways, sharing the music and a whole lot of art assets.

It’s just a wonderfully gloomy zone, especially after the sunny and welcoming Human starter lands of Elwynn, Westfall, and Red Ridge. Plunging into Duskwood always felt like taking a significant step deeper into the frontier of the game, even though it does have a full-fledged town going on there.

There’s some nice lighting, a whole heaping of horror monsters (ghosts, werewolves, skeletons, ghouls), two cemeteries, and a crypt. It was always a hoot to see Stitches going on a rampage toward the town, and I liked — and still like — that it’s a good zone for general mining and grinding. Some of the mobs drop a whole lot of stuff compared to many others in Classic, and I needed to save up anyway.

I’ve been trying to make some progress on Engineering as I’ve leveled, but it is slow going. I am at 136/300, making bombs and decoy traps and some nice goggles, but I’m still a long ways away from my true goal, which is to build devices that I can keep and reuse. I’ve taken breaks from questing just to grind ore and build up a supply, but that’s also put a huge burden on my bank space. I’ve shelled out money for three bank extension slots, but at this point that’s it — I need to build up a big cash reserve for the future.

Another thing I’ve been doing is some guild shopping. I was in a nice enough guild, but it was one of those mega-guild dealies where the focus was more on numbers than relationships, and I felt lost in the crowd. So if you hear of anything worthwhile on Alliance Mankrik, give me a call!

Battle Bards Episode 188: World of Warcraft Shadowlands

While the Battle Bards tend to agree that World of Warcraft: Shadowlands isn’t as strong of an expansion soundtrack compared to the last few, it’s still WoW, and it still has some gems worth uncovering. Join Syl, Steff, and Syp as they journey into the afterlife and see what the freshly dead listen to in their eternities!

Episode 188 show notes (show pagedirect download)

  • Intro (feat. “Bastion Kyrian,” “Ardenweald Nocturne Mischief,” and “Revendreth Decadence”)
  • “Through the Roof of the World”
  • “Oribos the Eternal City”
  • “Only Human”
  • “Ember Court Band”
  • “Revendreth Venthyr”
  • “Ardenweald Nocturne Melancholy Dream”
  • “Bastion Steward Hoot ‘n’ Doot”
  • Which one did we like best?
  • Listener note from Michał Korniewicz
  • Jukebox picks: “Login Theme” from World of Warcraft, “Celebration” from Greedfall, and “Testing the Passionate Bonds” from Tales of Zesteria
  • Outro (feat. “Death is a Battlefield”)

A wild Burning Crusade appears!

Well, the world’s worst-kept secret is finally out of the bag, and now we have confirmation that Burning Crusade Classic is coming this year. Sometime this year. Leave it to Blizzard not to give us any firm dates or even a more narrow window, but that’s how that studio rolls.

Since we all anticipated it, there’s little surprise here, but it is pleasant to hear even so. We do know that all of the current servers will be converted to Burning Crusade while those who want to stay in Vanilla can transfer to special shards just for that purpose. Not me; I’m ready to move on, and I’m only level 25 as I write this. It’s been a lot of fun adventuring through old Azeroth, but I have zero desire to stay here.

So now I have extra motivation to get my character up to 60, although if Blizz isn’t giving a launch window, I have to assume that I have plenty of time even if I’m just leveling during lunch breaks.

The biggest wrinkle that Burning Crusade threw at me back in 2007 — and the same one that it does today — is the issue of rolling up an alt to take advantage of the new races (and the new race/class combo). When TBC launched, I nearly split myself in half taking my Warlock into Outland while also trying to power-level a Draenei Shaman, and I feel that I might just do the same again in 2021. There’s a big appeal to both prospects, although I do wish there’d be a way to instantly create a level 58 Shaman instead of going all the way back to the start again.

BlizzCon certainly showed me how little I’m interested in Shadowlands, even with the announcement of Patch 9.1. I simply don’t feel that excited about what they’re offering. But I don’t feel like I’m missing out, because I’m still getting my ‘Craft fix from the classic servers.

WoW Classic: Finding purpose in the slog

I’ve found that once I’ve gotten past the initial 10 or 15 levels of WoW Classic, there’s a definite drop-off in that “fresh start feel” that drives a lot of the initial engagement and enthusiasm. After all, this isn’t a new game to me, nor is it right at the beginning of the WoW Classic craze. If anything, the atmosphere feels dormant and in semi-hibernation, waiting to be woken if the Outlands emerges through the Dark Portal this spring.

So to continue my journey, I’ve had to find something to replace that fresh start feel in order to keep my engagement up. Once you’re just going through the motions, it’s just a matter of time before you quit. Or I quit.

I’ve grasped several things that keep me logging in over my lunch break every day to continue my crawl up in the levels (now level 20 and counting!). In no particular order, they are:

1. Being an observant tourist of old Azeroth. WoW Classic continues to unlock those little nostalgia-loaded memories at the most surprising moments, and so I do enjoy just puttering around the landscape and trying to remember what it was like to see all of this the first time around.

2. The slower, more deliberate pace is very relaxing and familiar, and whether I’m questing or grinding, I feel like I’m “farming” an MMO rather than trying to rush to the next objective or get dailies done or whatnot. I’m on a long journey (with guide in hand), and I’m cool with that.

3. I celebrate over small milestones and acquisitions. A new green item that gives me +2 more spirit than I had before? A new level with its precious talent point? A questline that gives me an additional pet? Something drops I can sell on the auction house? These things matter all the more because of how slow and stingy the game can be with them.

4. I’ve gotten plugged into a very vocal and supportive guild. Everyone is quick to help each other out or share loot that they don’t want but someone else might need. I’ve never been in want for bags, for example, because I’ve had 12- and 14-slotters tossed my way with no expectation of recompensation.

Of course, it’s still a long road from 20 to 60, and unless Burning Crusade Classic offers an easy onboard to level 58, for example, I still have a ways to go. I kind of hope that TBC won’t come too soon because it’ll really ramp up the pressure to get to 60.