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Posts with tag vanilla

The Difficulty Trap

The beautiful thing about twitter is how it can engender conversations you might never get to have otherwise. Last night (thanks to my perpetual insomnia) I was up and scanning when Bashiok made a series of tweets I just had to respond to.

What I really took away from this discussion is, frankly, just how difficult it is to compare the difficulty of WoW's vanilla epoch and today's raiding (and raiding to come). There are at least two kinds of difficulty to discuss, when talking about raiding difficulty - the difficulty of putting together and keeping a raiding group going, and the difficulty of actually executing the content. These are wildly disparate.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Raiding

The mistakes of the World of Warcraft

It's been a long time, hasn't it? World of Warcraft has lasted ten years, and in that time things are bound to go wrong. It's inevitable. Things fall apart, the center cannot hold, I make references to William Butler Yeats and then talk about video games. No game lasts as long as World of Warcraft without making some bad steps along the way. Like Indiana Jones stepping on the wrong tile, all we can do is clamber back up.

Some of these were completely unforeseen, others in retrospect were pretty obvious, but at the time not so much, and others you have to wonder how they managed to make it live in the first place. We're going to talk about them now.

Vanilla WoW: The PvP ladder

Before the ladder, there was mainly world PvP. Spots like the Crossroads in the Barrens (close to a convenient neutral port so Alliance could get there easily) and Tarren Mill/Southshore were hotly contended for almost no good reason at all besides simple factional hatred and a desire from players to kill players. All of that changed with the introduction of battleground and honor rewards, the best of which required a player to achieve a certain rank to attain. What happened next was simple - some players hit upon a means to achieve that high PvP rank, namely, play in shifts.

The ladder was abused from the moment of its introduction. People formed groups who hit the BGs together, sure, but that wasn't the abuse part. The abuse came in the form of people sharing their account information and playing a specific character in shifts, literally keeping said character in the BGs for days at a time. If you were trying to play your character fairly, you simply couldn't compete with the five people who were playing that one warlock nonstop until it had all the high ranking PvP gear, and then shifting to the next player's warrior or paladin. I knew people who tried to stay awake for two solid days doing nothing but hitting up Alterac Valley and Warsong Gulch. It was painful to watch. The ladder ended up being removed before the end of vanilla, and it was the best change they could have made.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, The Burning Crusade, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria

Level 60 vanilla guild 5-mans Razorgore

Yes, we know -- level 90s can solo Blackwing Lair's first boss, Razorgore, with ease, but we still think it's an impressive feat for five at-level players. The guild Molten Core Veterans is focused on vanilla-era raiding, with no death knights or monks; no characters above level 60; and no gear or enchants over level 60, either. With the mechanics of the fight -- more about managing adds than damaging the boss -- Razorgore may be one of the only vanilla fights that can be done with such a small at-level group. The next boss, Vaelestraz, takes a lot more DPS to down -- and so a lot more players.

As someone who fought through learning this fight during vanilla, I salute these guys. For all that vanilla raids have gotten easier over the years -- and power creep has even hit players trying their hardest to get the vanilla WoW experience -- the Razorgore fight isn't easy to master.

Filed under: Raiding

Know Your Lore: Lore summed up part 1 - Classic WoW

The World of Warcraft is an expansive universe. You're playing the game, you're fighting the bosses, you know the how -- but do you know the why? Each week, Matthew Rossi and Anne Stickney make sure you Know Your Lore by covering the history of the story behind World of Warcraft.

A while back I did a history of the Pandaren Campaign that just gave a bare bones overview of what exactly happened between patch 5.0 and 5.4 in terms of the story. I understand that nine years of World of Warcraft can't be easily summed up. I don't expect I'll be able to do more than a cursory retelling of the major events, and I'll probably miss and leave out quite a few. So why do it at all?

I have a few reasons. The first is that some of this stuff is gone in game - it happened, but you can't go back and experience it any more. That makes it a part of the game that needs reminders from time to time, in my opinion. The second reason is because all of this lore shapes the game as it evolves - everything that has happened - it helps place things into context. And the third reason is because this stuff is all pretty awesome. It deserves to be retold.

We're going to try and do the game at launch this week, and come back to it on a regular basis.

So let us retell it.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Lore, Know your Lore

WoW Archivist: Two weeks as a noob in 2004

A tauren in Mulgore
WoW Archivist explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold?

When I took on the WoW Archivist mantle last year, I wanted to tell some personal stories as well as provide in-depth looks into the game's past. My first column talked about an early but extraordinary world PvP experience. Today I'd like to tell you about my first weeks of WoW in 2004, in a very different Azeroth than our modern version, with a very different incarnation of the hunter class.

A hunter will rise

In December 2004, a hunter stepped forward in Red Cloud Mesa. He was new to the ways of Azeroth, but eager to learn. What followed would be painful. But when the narrator shut up and the hunter proudly accepted his first quest from the Navajo minotaur guy with giant punctuation over his head, this new hunter set forth. He had nothing but a bow and a hope that his trials would forge him into a hero.

He would become a hero, many months and scars later. His first two weeks, however, were marked with terror, failure, and shame in roughly equal parts.

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

Blood Pact: Speccing for old world raids

Blood Pact Speccing for old world raids MON
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Blood Pact for affliction, demonology, and destruction warlocks. This week, Megan O'Neill harvests all the songbells ever in the search for more Imperial Silk, but slaughtering masses of Horde NPCs for reputation also works.

Patch 5.1 introduced pets to the vanilla-era raids. Patch 4.3 introduced transmogrification, which brought old raids back. Before that, some players would solo or duo old raids just for the challenge giggles. Every new expansion has raised the level cap and opened another expansion to soloing.

Whether you're soloing for a look, for improved familiarity with your spell toolbox, or for bragging rights, warlock is definitely a great class to jump into soloing old raids. At level 90, even before you're decked out in tier 14, most of the Wrath of the Lich King raids are fairly easy. But let's start with the basics -- speccing and playstyle.

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Filed under: Warlock, (Warlock) Blood Pact, Mists of Pandaria

WoW Archivist: How forum trolls broke a CM

A Tseric post from 2006
WoW Archivist explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold?

Last week, I included some passionate but mostly reasonable discussion of debuffs on the official forums from the earliest days of WoW and beyond. The official forums have always been a rough and tumble part of the game -- an area that Blizzard has always wanted to improve.

Trolls invade

One can speculate about a dozen different reasons for why WoW's official forums have been so full of jerks. Is it because there are just so many players and thus so many people with forum access, raising the statistical jerk demographic? Does the game's immense popularity encourage people to demand more of the company that makes it than any other in gaming? Does the ongoing passion for WoW simply make the forums the best place to troll on the Internet?

The forums have become gradually better over time, but the vanilla and Burning Crusade eras were completely out of control. Caught off-guard by the game's explosive early popularity, Blizzard's first team of community managers found themselves overwhelmingly outnumbered in their own forums. They couldn't possibly hope to keep up with the sheer volume of threads being generated. The CMs did what they could, but it was a losing battle from the start. The trolls took the forums by storm, and Blizzard never fully ousted them.

Then, in May 2007, one community manager simply couldn't take it any more.

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

WoW Archivist: The long fight for debuff rights

Warlock casting corruption
WoW Archivist explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold?

Debuffs help us beat bosses, but not all debuffs are created equal. Over WoW's eight years, debuffs have dealt extra damage, prevented damage, healed us, given us mana, slowed boss attacks, sped up our own, and helped us to hit harder.

Some are more powerful than others, but today those concerns are meaningless. Applying every possible debuff and keeping it active is a critical component to success.

Believe it or not, however, there was a time when your raid leader would yell at you for doing exactly that. Your weaker debuffs weren't just considered useless -- using them was a dire liability.

Eight is not enough

Vanilla WoW had an interesting, longstanding, and highly criticized technical limitation. A raid of any size could only apply a maximum of eight debuffs to a boss. As you can imagine, forty-player raids had many, many debuffs at their disposal, but only eight could ever be active at one time.

To make things worse, the game didn't differentiate between debuffs. The latest one that was applied would knock off the oldest one, regardless of type or power. It's not difficult to figure out how this could become a huge problem.

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

WoW Archivist: Strange choices behind WoW's earliest talent trees

Vanilla druid talent trees
WoW Archivist explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold?

It's strange to think that players who first start playing in Mists might have no idea what the old talent trees looked like. To them, the new talent system is simply the status quo and the image above conjures no memories. The status quo has never lasted very long for talents in WoW. Through the years, talents have changed possibly more than any other aspect of the game. It's a good thing, too, because the earliest talent trees needed a lot of work. Let's take a look back!

The first beta talents

It's not easy to find solid information about the first iteration of talent trees from early beta. From what I can gather, WoW's original talents were more like spell ranks (which have also since been removed). You could invest talent points into particular spells to give them more damage/healing, longer range, etc. These talents were also tied to stats. By investing talent points, you gained stats relevant to your class.

These talents were generally considered workable but lackluster. They were removed from the beta in patch 0.6. Blizzard promised to "make them even cooler than before," and players speculated heavily about what the new trees might look like.

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

Blog Azeroth Shared Topic: Flavors of WoW

Blog Azeroth Shared Topic Flavors of WoW
Each week, Blog Azeroth hosts a shared topic for bloggers to answer on their own blogs and then link to in the forum. Last week, Cymre from Bubbles of Mischief asked:
It would not be uncommon to hear about the initial release of World of Warcraft as Vanilla or Classic. In terms of ice cream or gelato (which is my preference), Vanilla was once considered the most popular flavour of it's time. So if Vanilla represents Classic WoW, what flavours could represent the following expansions?
Mmmm, ice cream.

The crusade for deliciousness

When I think of The Burning Crusade, I think of brightly colored to the point of garish. I also think of things that I wouldn't necessarily have thought would have gone together -- like outer space and Azeroth. While I really liked the expansion, being forced to go back there in order to get through to the next content gets a little old.

Ice cream flavor: The Creamsicle. It has a garish orange outside and is vanilla ice cream on the inside. Orange and vanilla? I never would have chosen those two tastes together, but it was a favorite treat from the ice cream truck in days of yore. I eat one now and it tastes good, but I definitely don't want to fill the freezer with them.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

WoW Archivist: Vanilla WoW's most hidden quest line

Faldir's Cove
WoW Archivist explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold?

The southern coast of Arathi Highlands is mountainous and all but impassable. Most players leveling through the zone in vanilla never bothered to explore beyond the steep ridges. Yet if you were curious, you might have discovered a tucked-away area known as Faldir's Cove. To find it, you either had to swim along the coast or discover a small cave tucked away in the hills southeast of Stromgarde. The area wasn't labeled on the map, and no NPC sent you there. Explorers were rewarded with perhaps the least-known quest chain in vanilla.

Other secret quests such as Message in a Bottle were "hidden" in plain sight in high-traffic areas. You were bound to notice The Matron Protectorate if you ran Blackrock Spire enough -- or someone would helpfully point it out to you while you were grouped. The only one that might be more obscure was Sully Balloo's Letter, but that wasn't really a line of quests, and you didn't do anything but talk to some NPCs. Therefore, I give the title of most hidden quest line to Faldir's Cove.

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

WoW Archivist: Strat 45 -- the original challenge mode

The streets of Stratholme
WoW Archivist explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold?

Mists of Pandaria will introduce a new feature to WoW called challenge modes. Challenge modes are timed heroic dungeon runs offering rewards based on how fast you complete them.

What newer players may not know is that vanilla WoW also had a timed dungeon run. It was known as the 45-minute Baron, Strat 45, or sometimes simply Baron run. This "challenge mode" was actually just a quest (called Dead Man's Plea) to engage Baron Rivendare within 45 minutes and then kill him, or he would execute his prisoner and you'd fail. Why 45 minutes? That's just how Rivendare rolls.

The timed run was perhaps the most infamous step in the quest line to upgrade vanilla's rare-quality Dungeon 1 set into a mix of upgraded rares and epics known as Dungeon 2 or "tier 0.5." The quest line was added in patch 1.10, but it was removed entirely with Cataclysm's Shattering.

Because it was a part of that quest line (occurring roughly a third of the way into it), everyone wanted to complete a successful Strat 45 run. Trade chat in cities was full of "LFM 45Baron must know pulls!" However, very few PUGs in that era ever finished the run on time. It really was that difficult.

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

Does World of Warcraft need to be more difficult?

The above video is a bit lengthy, but it's well worth the watch simply because it does raise a few valid points along the line. And lest you think this is yet another player whining about the endless hardcore vs. casual debate, it's not -- this is simply a player who is incredibly passionate about the game we all play. In that passion, he's decided to talk about the direction that raiding in WoW has taken and how it has gone downhill, in his opinion.

On the one hand, he has a point. There is a stark difference between the feel of raiding back in the days of vanilla, The Burning Crusade, and now. There's a stark difference in numbers, which any graph can illustrate. More and more people can complete raids now from one degree or another, which leaves people barreling through content at light speed and doesn't really give that same feeling that raiding had in years past.

On the other, is changing the difficulty in WoW really the way to accomplish that goal? I don't think so.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Raiding

Breakfast Topic: Back in my day

With the Mists of Pandaria expansion comes many quality of life improvements. All expansions add little details to improve our experience in some way. Players who have only played since the latest expansion take these changes for granted. And veterans cringe every time newbies complain about something that is so much better than how it was when we began playing.

For example, MoP has AoE looting: just one right-click and all the nearby corpses are relieved of their valuables (or organs as the case may be). I have seen some people in general chat confused by this change. "I can only loot one body!" But once this change goes live, all new players will consider AoE looting the norm.

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Filed under: Breakfast Topics

Tipster unearths treasure chest of classic WoW raiding memories

Do you ever wonder what you missed by not playing WoW back in the early days? You've seen the classic instances, of course, as you've swatted aside their bosses during mining expeditions for transmogrification gear -- but what were these viragoes like back in the day when conquering them took 40 players at the top of their game hurling themselves against the storm, before modern levels, gear, abilities and game mechanics reduced them to mere echoes of their former fury? Screech "rose-colored glasses!" all you like -- WoW classic and The Burning Crusade were far and away the eras that pinned me most devotedly to my keyboard, smitten by the game. (Others think very differently, as demonstrated below.)

You can't really relive the classic experience today; there's simply been too much water under the bridge. Still, I'd love to be able to give newer players a taste of those old raid instances in a way they just can't get from muscling through the instances today. But if playing through won't do the job, neither will videos from the past. Boss kill and strat videos cast an analytical eye on the proceedings, remaining aloof from the atmosphere and focusing more on the spray of combat text and special effects. On the other end of the spectrum are roleplaying epics that, while entertaining, represent the particular personality and experience of a specific group of players.

If you've got time to burn, though, you might enjoy sinking into these vanilla-era flavor films by Order of Watchers on Ragnaros (EU). WoW Insider reader Karol discovered these old-school gems ("Maybe it just found me in a nostalgic mood, but I think both of them are masterpieces from the old times and worth a mention" -- we agree, Karol, so thanks!), tipping us off to this abstract of one Hungarian guild's march through classic encounters and The Burning Crusade. Somewhere between a guided tour, a roleplaying narrative and guild memory book, these videos attempt to preserve a glimpse of the wonder the guild felt on the path through the earliest endgame content in World of Warcraft.

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Filed under: Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame

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