Friday, June 18, 2021

Friday Thoughts: TBC Classic Edition

By the time this posts, I will most likely be sitting at L66, somewhere between 1/2 and 2/3 of the way through the Terrokar quests, and will have gathered enough playing time to get a better feel for TBC Classic. It still feels distinctly weird to see a crowd in Shattrath City* or at the Inn at Honor Hold, but I'm getting used to it.

So without further ado, here are my thoughts about The Burning Crusade Classic, 18 days after launch.


It takes a lot of effort to NOT level in Outland.


I get it, I get it. This is kind of my thing.


Running instances will net you XP. Questing will net you XP. Exploring will net you XP. And all of that adds up.

Quests back in the Old World? Yes, you get XP for them. I actually got 4 bars' worth of XP just going back and forth, finishing up about 5-6 old questlines still in my quest pile. So even if you do NOT go to Outland but instead pick up, say, Silithus quests at L60, you can get a surprising amount of XP. 

About the only thing that does not net you XP are the gathering professions, but you end up with "surprise" XP simply because you have to kill the occasional mob standing on top of a gathering node.

So the fact that I'm almost L66 means that I've been logging in and actually doing things in game. It may sound like a lot, given that I'm 7 days into Outland by now, but really it isn't.


TBC Classic brought in quite a few retail players, and it shows.

The most obvious flag that you've encountered a retail player is their casual disregard for politeness when out questing. You see, in retail, as long as you get a hit in, that enemy counts for you as well as anybody else. In WoW and TBC Classic, that ain't the case. Here, it's "first hit gets the reward." And since the Retail crossovers frequently can't be bothered to discover those little quirks of the system, they come across as colossal jerks. Especially when you politely whisper about grouping up to take down mobs. 

I recently was questing in Zangarmarsh when an Ally toon ran past me and pulled about 6 Naga in the surrounding area, and once they DPSed the large pack down the toon threw me an invite. I honestly don't know what the fuck that player was thinking --maybe that I'd be grateful that I'd have such a badass that I'd be grouping with-- but I immediately turned it down. A few minutes later, I met up with a Mage who suggested we group together to finish the quest we were both on, and for the next 15 minutes we had a pleasant time, talking about Magecraft while killing Naga.

In fact, I received more assistance at times from Horde toons out farming/questing than my Alliance counterparts, such as just this morning when a Horde Warlock and I each traded turns killing Torgos over on the western edge of the Bone Wastes. Since the quest is a 2-person one, he went first and pulled aggro, then I came on and helped. On my turn, we reversed the order but after initial aggro I let the Lock's Felguard take aggro from me, as it's a more natural tank. I had to do it twice as Brig pulled aggro back and died, but that's the breaks. And the Horde Lock stuck around while I had to go get another bloodied kill to lure Torgos in, which is more than some of my fellow Alliance players would have done.


Gold does come quicker in Outland, but never quick enough.

If you're like me, who was gold poor due to the constant need to farm for mats for Naxxramas, heading to Outland was like Mana from Heaven.

Within 2 days I had over 100 gold, enough to splurge and buy a pair of Fist of Reckoning maces off of the Auction House, which should last me through most of my leveling time in Outland. 

But in spite of the influx of gold into my bank account, the amount of gold needed for Fast Ground Riding remains just out of reach. I now have just enough for the riding skill itself, but I'd also need enough for a mount and the wait has been annoying the crap out of me.

Oh, and repairs cost quite a bit more than before, too. So my first (and so far only) foray into Slave Pens and Underbog netted me a nasty repair bill, higher than any I experienced in Naxxramas on Cardwyn.

So more gold != flush with cash.


While not everybody is following the Meta, enough are that it will have an impact on Auction House prices for quite a while.

One of the "side bonuses" of following the Meta of spam running dungeons for rep is that you'll get to L70 with a lot more quests to run. And instead of XP, those quests will yield extra gold instead. This has been the case with the original WoW Classic, so it's not a big surprise. People are using the extra gold to try to get Epic Flying trained (at the cost of 5000 gold), but there will be enough extra gold pumped into the WoW economy that it will impact prices on the Auction House.

People can afford the higher prices, particularly on items they need for professions or raiding, so they'll pay more. And that will keep the prices higher, just like how inflation works in the real world. Eventually all that gold will get depleted, but it will take quite a while for that to happen. And it may not happen at all, depending on just how many alts people will take into Outland. So if you're not following the Meta, maybe it's time to go into farming some mats to help out your gold situation.


Respawns are hell.

I can't tell you how many times I've killed a mob only to have it immediately respawn and attack. I'd say about 4/5 of the time it's not a big deal, but if you kind of really need to drink or take a short break, that instant respawn is a major problem. Most of the times that I died when I was out questing an instant respawn was to blame.


I am outleveling zones.

I still don't understand why she didn't just
kick me into the next county.


As I mentioned I'm somewhere between 1/2 and 2/3 of the way through the Terrokar Forest's quests, and it was the first zone where I entered it being slightly overleveled for the zone. I have since caught up in quests to level appropriate ones (~L65 or so), but when I move on to Nagrand (probably Saturday at this rate) I'll be slightly over the targeted level for over half of the zone itself. And at this rate I'll likely ding L70 somewhere in Blade's Edge Mountains.

That has good effects (access to better spells and gear) and bad ones (finding said gear).


I should probably look into doing a few more dungeons.

As of this writing, I've run 9 dungeons.


Compare and contrast those who used the Meta, who likely saw the inside of 9 dungeons in less than 2 days in Outland. 

In my case, over half of the dungeons were Hellfire Ramparts, with a full breakdown as follows:

Hellfire Ramparts: 5
Blood Furnace: 2
Slave Pens: 1
Underbog: 1

I ran Ramparts 4 times that Sunday after I arrived in Outland, not because of the Meta but because I was hoping that the Bracers of Finesse would drop. (They did, once, and the Hunter won the roll.)

While I don't feel like I'm missing out here, I ought to run them just for the chance at improving my gear set, which hasn't budged much in the past couple of days. However, most of the LFG entries I've been observing have been for the "endgame" and "attunement" 5-person dungeons, which don't help me at all. With the current state of things, I expect that by the time I'd be ready for, say, the Tempest Keep instances a lot of people would have moved on to Heroics.


I have not forgotten what it took to get to Outland, and I still carry a lot of resentment.

I mean, there's a reason why I've
been on Neve quite a bit. Also,
Farstriders FTW!


As you may have noticed from the previous musing, I have been utilizing the in-game LFG channel for a lot of my dungeon running. 

That is not an accident.

While two of the Leveling Shamans and I have been to Blood Furnace, Slave Pens, and Underbog together, I have been taking advantage of LFG where I could. I've pugged most of my MMO career, so unlike other people who dislike pugs I actually prefer them.

Plus, I've some issues right now that will take quite a while to work their way out of my system. If ever.

The other day there was a post in the Guild's Discord LFG channel, asking if people were still leveling at all. That brought a pretty swift response from Guild Leadership, pointing out that many of the Shamans are still leveling, and the Healers are way behind too. Normally I'd have ignored that exchange, but for some reason it incensed me. The total lack of awareness that a significant number of people --all of whom are critical for the 25-person raids-- were still leveling in Outland made me get up from my work and take a short walk to cool off.

To add fuel to the fire, it's only now, after people have gotten themselves leveled to L70, attuned, and have entered into Karazhan, that I've started to see posts on guild Discord saying that they can help by running instances with people. 

Thank you, Dana Carvey.
I was thinking the exact same thing.

Right now, I'm not certain whether this altruism is motivated by a desire to help or the reality that these people finally have reached the point where they actually need the rest of us, but either way I'm planning on taking a hard pass on any of these offers. If they weren't around when we needed them, how can I count on them helping out if a better offer comes along?

The current set of guild dynamics reminds me a lot of the old Twilight Zone episode, The Shelter**. A family is hosting a dinner party when it is interrupted by news of what looks like an impending nuclear attack. The family hosting the dinner party goes to the shelter they'd built in their backyard, while the other families, none of whom had built a shelter, try to claw their way in by any means possible. Just as the other families manage to pry open the shelter door, the news calls off the alarm, saying that it wasn't a nuclear attack at all. The other families try to return to a semblance of normalcy, saying "hey, let's hold a block party so that we can get back to normal." But the husband doesn't think so:

Jerry Harlowe: Hey that's a great idea, block party, anything to get back to normal, huh?

Dr. Bill Stockton: Normal? I don't know. I don't know what normal is. I thought I did once. I don't anymore.

Jerry Harlowe: I told you we'd pay for the damages, Bill.

Dr. Bill Stockton: Damages? I wonder. I wonder if anyone of us has any idea what those damages really are. Maybe one of them is finding out what we're really like when we're normal; the kind of people we are just underneath the skin. I mean all of us: a bunch of naked wild animals, who put such a price on staying alive that they'd claw their neighbors to death just for the privilege. We were spared a bomb tonight, but I wonder if we weren't destroyed even without it.

I don't think anybody will know the true long term effect from what happened after the Dark Portal opened, but I do think a lot of people won't like it in the end. 

As for me, I will honor my immediate commitment, but I also will take a long hard look at whether I want to continue raiding in this situation. Knowing that I am less valued for me and more valued for the body I bring to the raid has been eye opening for me.


There are people in game who do read my blog, but I also know that there are very few in guild who do so. I've kept my blogging quiet because I don't want to necessarily draw attention to myself, but there are a few guildies I have mentioned to --in a private manner-- that I do blog. 

However, I do know that of those people who I have confided in, only one actually reads Parallel Context. 

How do I know? Because nobody else has mentioned to me about the content of the TBC Classic posts. And believe me, my opinions would generate a bit of heat right about now.

*Yes, I have finally arrived in Shattrath, taken the tour, and selected Aldor. I passed through a couple of times when helping my leveling buddy with a quest chain that yielded a nice piece for her, but I never considered it an actual "arrival". I still haven't taken the portals back to the Old World yet, either, preferring instead to leave via the Dark Portal; but that's because I'm thumbing my nose at the expectations surrounding the expac.

**In his book Danse Macabre, Stephen King has a very insightful view of The Shelter, as "rarely has any television program dared to present human nature in such an ugly, revealing light as that used in 'The Shelter', in which a number of suburban neighbors along Your Street, USA, are reduced to animals squabbling over a fallout sheltere during a nuclear crisis." Thanks to Twilight Zone Vortex for jogging  my memory about both the King book and the quote. I'd forgotten I'd read the book, and that was before I saw the Twilight Zone episode itself. Only much later did I realize the connection.


EtA: Fixed a few grammatical mistakes. That's what I get for writing/editing while sleepy.


  1. On the subject of retail players in TBC Classic: During the pre-patch, our bear tank and I on my druid alt joined a group of three dps that were looking for a tank and healer for LBRS. We figured with him in Naxx gear it would be a breeze. After we'd (near-)wiped for the second time within the first few pulls, I inspected the dps and they were all wearing communal gear. "Uh, so you're all boosted characters?" I asked, and they loled and responded that they were retail players. Then the mage ran ahead to make the next pull ahead of the tank and died again. It was such a cliche it was comical. For the record, one of them was actually nice and trying to learn how to play, but the other two kept doing dumb stuff like making dps pulls, letting runners get away because they were too busy AoEing or yelling at a druid for a res after dying in a stupid way. It was just... wow.

  2. Fascinating. I just hit 65 on my Druid after killing 180 mobs for Nesingwary and I'm nearly out of 65 quests, only 66+ left in Nagrand (having finished the first 3 zones already) because I started at 58 and didn't do a single instance - so while your overleveling is mostly on the one end of the scale, I'm at the completely opposite end. And everything feels kinda slow, I am surprised how fast other people seem to be able to level :)

    1. I'm almost completely sure the difference is that you went at L58 while I stuck around until L60.

      Well, almost.

      I have totally abysmal luck at getting drops in any quest that requires it, so while others will get their drops and move on I'm stuck grinding mobs. For example, the leg drops from the Fen Striders should have been fairly quick: 4 legs were all that was needed. However, it took me over an hour and a half to get just 4 freaking legs. Because of that, I grinded somewhere between 2-3 bars just killing Fen Striders (and anything nearby that was in aggro range). All of that bad luck adds up.

  3. Expecting people to behave pretty much like characters in "The Shelter" has been most of my WoW experience but in all fairness IRL too so I am so used to just being a loner and missing all the dungeons and stuff except for Legion where I had to.

    There have been encounters with really nice people along the way that sadly stand out as they were so infrequent. TotA

    1. Yeah, I get what you're saying, but I was... Well, I was hoping that this guild would be different. Let's say that I was very disappointed, and that I might have been better off not joining and having the inner workings remain a black box.

      I do still want to join up with you, Ancient. I haven't forgotten.

  4. Reading both your and Shintar's accounts of how things have been in TBC pretty much confirms everything I thought about raiding guilds back in my EQ days. I had my taste of these kinds of behaviors very early on and I decided immediately I wasn't going to have anything to do with it. Mrs. Bhagpuss was determined to raid at one point (around Planes of Power when raiding really started to settle into the format we all now recognize) and she did a lot of work to get into one of the main raiding guilds on our server but when she actually did get in she hated it for exactly the kinds of reasons you are both describing. I think she lasted less than month.

    It took me while to sort it all out in my mind but eventually I realized that the euphoria that comes when things go well absolutely does not compensate for the depression and anger that comes when things go badly. In a real life situation that's a deal you have to take, sometimes, but to be able to play a subset of the content of a video game? I don't think it's proportional.

    1. I can't speak for Shintar, so I won't, but the thing that disappointed me the most is that while it's not like middle school with the backbiting and whatnot, the guild does have its cliques and subgroups. I know that every large group will have that sort of thing, but I was disappointed in that management is colored by these cliques.

      Yes, I know, I work at a large company, and stuff like that goes on no matter where I go, but there is no path of concern for certain behaviors that others may feel are toxic if the person involved is one of those favored by management. That's MBA speak for "there are people acting annoying, and when someone complains to guild leadership they're either ignored or told to go talk it out with that person." Well, the former goes without saying, and the latter is just another way of "we're going to support that person, so go away." And neither response is what I'd call proper management at all.

      I get that it takes a lot of effort to run a guild. However, guilds should be run by people who are good at managing others, not just anybody who happens to fall into the role. My father was a good manager; he wasn't the brightest person (his high school and college transcripts will show that), and he and I frequently did not see eye to eye at home, but he knew how to manage people in a work context. The employees on his team would run through a brick wall for him. I, however, am not. I kind of fell into my current position at work, and I have to improve on things, such as patience with others, in order to manage effectively. But recognizing you have blind spots is half the battle, because I'm not certain most of guild management (from any guild, for that matter) knows that they likely have blind spots and need people who will be honest with them and not be merely 'yes' people.

      If I knew that there were such mechanisms in place, I would feel more comfortable about this. But having had the covers peeled back like I have, I don't believe that's the case. And that's my biggest disappointment about this, because these are a group of otherwise bright people, who should be able to recognize that they have limitations, but they don't. Now, that's not totally true, because I do know one person is a manager in real life, and I do trust that person, but they are just one person in the overall guild leadership.

  5. A lot of this reminds me of the old saying, "Everyone that plays more than me is an Elitist Jerk, and every one that plays less than me is a Filthy Casual. I'm just a Normal Gamer". People get so focused on reaching "the Endgame" that they lose sight of the fact you need the team to get there. This is where the guild leadership needs to have a meeting or an announcement about the situation. Acknowledge the extra effort folks have put in to get a character from 1 to 70, not just 60 - 70. Then have a concrete plan to help folks get the rest of the way to 70, attuned, and geared. Make it clear that if it comes to choosing between two people to raid, the person that helped others and thus helped the guild would have an edge over folks that didn't.

    Yes, this is likely to cause a different sort of guild drama, but sometimes you need to blatantly remind folks that raiding is a group effort. It's not like they can solo these raids.

    1. Errm, what I meant by my first sentence was that people lose sight of the effort it takes. They start to assume everyone else has as much time or opportunities to level as they did. This mindset shouldn't happen, but it does expansion after expansion. :sigh:

      This is what I get for getting interrupted in my comment. My response was much more muddled than usual. Mea culpa.

    2. Nah, you're good, Pallais. I interpreted your comment correctly. And yes, that mindset does happen expac after expac.

      For my mind, I like your idea about making a concrete effort to reward helping others --as opposed to that being a reward in and of itself-- it's just that that ship sailed once the Pre-patch dropped. It was at that point that they should have tried to emphasize this, but the thing is all of the raid slots were assigned before the Pre-patch dropped, so there was (theoretically) no competition for slots. Everybody supposedly knew who was on which team, and who would need help in leveling. THAT was the big miss, thinking that everybody would help somebody out, when people rarely reach out beyond their own internal friend group.

      I've heard more than one of the L70s in the guild express their opinion about sprinting ahead with the Meta as "it was really hard and exhausting, but it's worth it for [insert reason here] AND I got to do it with my friends!" I just grind my teeth every time I see that, but one of the other leveling Shamans once responded with a quip "Good, now try that starting from L1."

      And then it got real quiet and people moved on to another topic.

      I'm pretty sure that quite a few guildies now know how they left people behind and that wasn't right, but they don't want to be reminded of it either. Our (and the Healers') presence serve as an uncomfortable reminder of that.

  6. Hi Red, still reading and enjoying, thank you! There's similar things in our guild going on, with people motoring ahead in smaller groups. That's all fine and dandy, until they start asking 'When are we going to run Kara?".
    Shit hit the fan last weekend when the issue became 'you're not levelling fast enough'. My comments in reply were more along the nature of what you'd expressed, but also included 'the door is that way, feel free to use it'.
    I'll still be levelling my alts long after they've gone on to the next new shiny thing in the gaming world, as I have for the past 15 or so years.


    1. Yeah, the "you're not leveling fast enough" hasn't made an appearance (formally), but I for one am going to get attuned at my own pace. I still have plenty of time. And I fully intend to re-evaluate my commitment after Phase One. It may get better after we get settled in, but we'll see.