Given there’s so much interest in getting on a Vanilla/Classic Warcraft server today (not unusual, the content sucks so people always run for the hills when that happens) and playing the way we used to play in 2006, I figured a little information about my discoveries and findings would be of help to the community at large. Not the retail fanboys, because they deserve what they get and what they have.
So You’ve Decided To Go Back In Time
I’ve already mentioned in the previous post my favorite server. I like Feenix servers, which are GMT+2 and hosted somewhere in Eastern Europe the last I heard. Click HERE to go to the website which requires you to set up an account in order to play. For whatever reason, the website blocks most traffic originating from the USA, so US users will need to use a proxy. Don’t have one or know what it is? Google it. I’m using Europroxy which I’ve found to be highly responsive and quick. If you don’t want to play on Feenix, you can also play on the other sites like Vanilla Gaming or Nostalrius.
Revision (June 8, 2015): Since first writing this article I have also rolled a character on Nostalrius to the teens and taken a look around. For comparison’s sake, the population on this server would be equivalent to a Medium to High pop realm in retail. The server was just opened this last February (2015) and doesn’t offer most of the end game like other servers. Given time I’m sure they’ll work that out. Questing is a little different from a Low-pop private server, since you have such a large population you will sometimes have to camp for spawns of lootable items and NPCs. I did experience some latency issues, which is a little strange given I am not that far from the server compared to others. Attractions include 1x Blizzlike experience, old-school AV, PvP ranking system in effect, and first tier raids are opening as well as Classic high level dungeons. What I liked most? Running into Ironforge and seeing the sheer number of level 60s hanging out like the old days, which sort of flies in the face of Classic interest deniers. I’m coining that. I also rate this server 4.5/5 stars for the immersion experience.
I personally like Feenix because it supports the game in several different ways. This server originally started in 2005. I’m really big on the old questing experience, and like my quests to be working. Every so often I discover a bug, but it’s usually nothing gamebreaking. They offer instant 60s, 12 times experience, and the good ol’ 1x Blizzlike experience. I am currently beating my way through the 1x server known as Emerald Dream, but am converting over to Nostalrius. If I was interested in actually raiding the content, I would play on one of the other servers they offer as raiding is supported better on them. Emerald Dream is more a server that supports leveling and lots of PvP. And since we miss the olden days, 1x it is. The population of the server has unfortunately waned, as there are only a handful of progressed raiding guilds. It also sports a large Chinese guild, filled with nice people who always party with you rather than tag-steal the named quest NPCs. I give them 4/5 stars for the immersion experience, with that missing star because several of the major quest chains are buggy or broken entirely. I say several, which means about 1 on average per zone cannot be completed. If you want a leveling experience that is devoid of fighting for mobs and potential world pvp camping, this is the server for you.
I do have experience with Vanilla Gaming, and it’s a rather well run community. They host a mirrored version of Wowhead from that time (see below). It’s one of the older servers, started in 2009. Questing on the server is a bit messed up for my tastes (loads of bugs) and loot tables from mobs are weird. They tend to drop their entire normal loot table of gear with each kill. Because this site offers 15 times leveling experience, a full loot table makes sense so you can always get gear off mobs that you might need. This 15 times speed can be set to 1x speed with a simple command, and reverted. As for immersion in the Classic experience, I would rate it 3/5 stars because the drops are buggy and quests are commonly broken. You will often have to swap to 15x experience to make up for quests you cannot complete, and I don’t care for that.
Things to Remember
These servers are moderated and bad behavior is slapped down far better than on Blizzard’s servers. They’re free to play, but that also doesn’t mean you are free to berate others. From what I’ve found on my server, the game is populated by people that absolutely love the game for what it was, so prepare to be treated like a pariah if you’re a jackass. Hey, just like the old days, nobody will want to play with you and you can’t just click a button to join dungeon queues. To make it easy on the eyes, I’ll put the rest into bullet points.
- Loot ninjas get reported, shamed and actioned, unlike retail. Toxic behavior generally results in outright bans. Screenshots are your friends, otherwise it never happened.
- You should expect people to be rather outgoing and interested in leveling with you if they see you on a quest or in a zone they are in.
- Server residents are typically older players with experience going back 10+ years, but there are lots of interested people who have never seen this content before.
- Many people also play retail, but many have left that world behind.
- These people are serious fans of the game, so be prepared to see lots of people rattling off patches of the game they liked.
- I’ve forgotten more about the game than you’ll probably ever know, but even I need reminding that certain classes lost an ability or certain things were used more often back then than today.
- On most servers, the channel World is used as a catch-all general chat and can be read everywhere. This is how you will find groups for most everything.
- The capital cities are generally vacant for a reason, people are busy leveling. You won’t find much to do in the cities anyhow. For Alliance, Ironforge is generally the hangout. For Horde, Orgrimmar.
- Questing is NOT linear (more on this in a bit), you will enter and exit the different zones multiple times while leveling.
- Hit rating is in effect. If the mob is +4 your level, expect to miss and have spells resisted commonly.
- You have to level weapon skills along with defense skills again. Defense will level with you while level, but swapping from Axes to Two-Handed Swords will prove interesting.
- Further, in 2006 we specced talent trees from level 10 in order to hit higher level mobs and bosses. Perusing your server’s general forums is a great place to get build ideas. While leveling, go with what you believe would work for you. Since you will be doing quests with mobs that are +2 or +3 your level, getting hit rating is paramount.
- Every 2 levels you will need to train new ranks of your skills. Every level will award you a new talent point.
- Gold doesn’t rain down from the sky. Grinding for gold was common, and these Auction Houses are similar to a low population retail server. Best advice – take up mining and herbalism first. Don’t waste your money on silly things.
- Join a leveling guild. On my server, we have a few and in my guild generally we have 40-60 people on at any given time. These will come in very handy when you need to do Elite quests. Did I say Elite quests!? Oh yeah, Hogger’s there. Further, posting in world chat is off limits to you until you get to 20 (Feenix) so lowbie dungeons will be harder to form.
- Back in the day, getting a level beyond about 20 was considered a moment to let people know. DING! This is commonly yelled and spammed in chats. Common courtesy it to “grats” them.
- Most every class comes with some form of crowd control. Be prepared to use it while leveling because mobs are usually grouped together. They usually leash within about 100-150 yards, but not always!
- There are no heirlooms, glyphs, experience nerfs, and leveling will take you about 14 days played to get to 60. Expect to see levels like 24-25 or 38-39 take you 3-4 hours to complete. Your only buff is Rested XP.
- Remember some classes will need to purchase reagents in order to perform buffs or cast some spells.
- If you play melee – you have sharpening stones back. If you are a caster, wizard and mana oil are available. Hunters use different grades of arrows again! These can help greatly while waiting on gear upgrades or boosting your character.
- Share and share alike. Don’t be selfish. This was a game about making friends. If you don’t need a particularly nice green for yourself, give to your friends or offer it to the guildies. What comes around, goes around.
- Aggro radii will seem ridiculous. You’ll pull gray level mobs from 20 yards away. Watch where you’re going.
- Respawning mobs are going to drive you nuts. Clear to the center of a cave, only to have everything back up when you need to exit. Kill quickly, but don’t pull too much because that is often deadly.
- Drinking and eating will slow you down greatly. Always have the best possible foods you can find on hand and afford without going broke. Learn Cooking and Fishing to save on food costs and get stamina food buffs. Alchemy is great for potions (2 minute cooldowns even in combat yay!). First Aid should be one of your first professions.
- When you die, be prepared for runbacks from the other side of the zone. Flight points are not where you remember them, there is almost always only one flight point per zone, and in some cases NONE.
- You have to treat this experience with a grain of salt. It’s “like” playing the old game, it’s not exact. There are bugs, mobs may act strangely, the server may crash for a minute, and you may not be able to complete all the quest lines as you remembered. This is free to play, supported by someone else’s time and money. Please respect that always.
Many people think addons are the devil because they interfere with the experience. The way I remember Classic, I had addons installed from the beginning because they make certain activities easier and you can monitor things better, like durability. You’re going to die. A LOT.
I’m not going to give you a complete addon installation guide, but you want to know where the game looks for them so you can use them. Simply stated, the game looks in the WoWFolder/Interface/AddOns directory for the addons, and then populates them from there. If there are no addons recognized, then you won’t get the “Addons” button on the login screen.
Back in the time before everyone relied on Curse.com, we actually had to install our addons by hand. You had to track updates yourself or at least have guildies let you know. Thankfully, since the game is essentially frozen in time, there aren’t any updated addons to keep up with, and I’ve taken the liberty of hosting the vast majority of them HERE.
Go through and look for your favorite addons from today, they probably didn’t exist back then. Many of them did exist, but are in states that you probably won’t recognize. Getting them to function to your liking also required a little bit more knowledge.
Unzip the file, pick your favorite addons, and drop their folders into the Addons directory. For reference, you should look at your retail addon directory structure if you are unsure how this works. If you can’t get it working, then ask a friend. And if neither of you can get them working, then addons aren’t for you!
Keep in mind that addons generally didn’t have fancy bells, buttons, or whistles. You had to usually type /addonname to configure them. And most addons came with a Readme.txt file. Read them.
Questing and You: Can You Handle It?
Outside of the Level 1-5 Starter zones, the quests are scattered all over Azeroth. The different zones may be familiar, but if you haven’t leveled a character since Wrath this may appear very confusing. Questing relied on a person to be very inquisitive and curious, so you did a lot of exploration looking for the “!”, and they aren’t going to appear on your mini-map. Turning them in will also require you to look for the yellow-dot on the mini-map, as the turn-in location is not always obvious.
If you’re going to wing it, my best advice is to go to the various zones and look for mobs to be within your range. Cataclysm completely changed the playground, but here are the two maps showing you suggested character level maps.
While these show “70” in some zones, realize that locating anything from Classic Warcraft is just nigh impossible anymore, so just use your imagination.
But what if you get stuck on a quest? Wowhead doesn’t support this content anymore, they’ve long since moved on (besides only getting started towards the close of Classic WoW anyhow). Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. A while ago, all that Wowhead data was dumped (or ripped) to another server database, which maintains everything (even the silly comments from back then) to this day. This can be found at AoWoW, sponsored by Vanilla Gaming. Pay no attention to the Wowhead graphics. =)
Years ago, one of the best leveling guides in the game was published by Brian Kopp for Alliance, and Joana for Horde. Just an aside here, but today’s guides and fansites all owe Brian Kopp a huge debt. He was the first to take Blizzard on when they sued him over his guide, prevailed, and opened the door for others to publish things about the game at a profit. The lawsuit was over copyright infringement, and I believe it was because he used photos from the game in his guide. Could you imagine a world where Blizzard would have won? No more sites with game graphics, no more anything. Ahh, our favorite gamemaker.
Anyhow, thankfully I still remember his name, because I can Google it. For those of you who are looking for a solid walkthrough of the quests and want to experience almost everything in the game from 1-60 without losing all your hair, Valkyrie-WoW published an in-game addon for leveling based on both Kopp’s and Joana’s guide. In the first link it will lead you to the site you can get it, and you want version 1.04.2. The guides back then bounce you back and forth between multiple zones, but that’s how the game was played.
At release of Classic, there weren’t even enough quests to level you to 60, they had to be added later! So finding the best path to get there often took you between (for Alliance) Darkshore, Wetlands, Redridge, Duskwood, and Ashenvale one level after the other and back again. Unlike today, where you will spend about 5 straight levels in each of those zones before leaving them. It seemed crazy, but you had to watch whether a quest was actually orange, red, yellow, green or gray. Stay within the yellows, and you’ll be just fine.
While questing is great and all, often times you will flat out have to grind for your levels. There aren’t enough quests to get you far enough, or you may encounter a bugged quest (or worse a quest line). You will just simply need to pick a yellow mob type, and kill them until you hit the next level. Everyone remembers the parts they liked, but once you encounter little problems like these, you sort of realize why they changed the questing in Azeroth.
Playing In Groups
Outdoor dungeons are a reality for you again. Elite quests are all over Azeroth, meaning you need to finish long quest chains so you can participate in them. Outdoor dungeons were elite mobs that were available to anyone in the world, and you will not be able to complete them solo.
They offer some of the better rewards and best experience so keep questing. You will have to be social and locate groups, many times lowbies in your guild will want to knock out all the elite quests in a zone, so that’s the time to do them. You have to kill quickly, drink quickly, and keep moving because the respawn rate for these mobs is very fast. They are some of the most fun you’ll have in the game while leveling.
Unlike current Warcraft, CC is hardly ever needed. So here’s what you need to know so you aren’t screwing up the groups!
Mage Sheep – Half-Moon
Warlock Seduce/Banish/Enslave – Diamond
Rogue Sap – Star
Hunter Trap – Blue Square (be prepared to kite the target, traps aren’t launched nubby)
Druid Root, Shaman Hex – Green Triangle
Priest Mind Control/Shackle – Orange Circle (lovingly called the condom)
Make sure all raid buffs go out. If you are the lead, make sure you mark so everyone knows their jobs. If noone is marking, you’re odds of success diminish. These require coordination. They’re very challenging because generally the group is always lacking a tank and it’s 4 or 5 dps, and a healer if you’re touched.
Reputation Is Actually Important
Blizzard took mercy on the poor in later expansions, but if you’re playing Classic, your wealth is almost determined by your reputation with the various factions. You have to buy water, food, reagents, crafting goods, and most importantly your mounts. The mounts are NOT cheap in this content.
At level 40, your mount training will cost you 90g. The mount will be another 9g.
At level 60, your epic mount training will cost you 600g.
All of these items can be reduced in cost by reputation.
- 5% off for Friendly
- 10% off for Honored
- 15% off for Revered
- 20% off for Exalted
About every 15 levels you will have the opportunity to turn in Wool Cloth, Silk Cloth, Mageweave, and Runecloth to each faction. Best advice: Turn the cloth in to your racial faction to get your mount out of the way, everything else can wait.
Good Luck, Have Fun
Everyone who plays Classic/Vanilla Warcraft has their reasons. Some just want to get shoulder deep in nostalgia, some want to see the changes they’ve made to the game, some just want to be ported back to when the game made sense to them, and others are just chasing that free play time. Whatever the reason, everyone’s choice is their own. The most important thing is that you have fun while paying homage to one of the greatest releases in the game’s history.
You should now be armed and ready to re-experience, or experience if you’re a newbie to Classic, everything that you’ve forgotten about the unforgiving Classic World of Warcaft. If you decide to take up the old ways, feel free to send me a PM on Consortium if you’re headed to Feenix. I may not be here forever, but I’m always up to try to help.
Thanks for stopping in!