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A look back:Vanilla WoW

Posted July 23, 2011 by Staff in Editorials

Do you remember a time when a 2k crit was something to get excited about? Before the blood elves and the draenei entered the game? There was a time when a casual gamer would crap his jorts just thinking about leveling those last ten levels to 60. The game was harder, more hardcore, and often times a hell of a lot more inconvenient than the current version.

But that was how the game was and we liked it, damnit. The game may not have been as easy but there are hordes (no pun intended) of people who would love to take another swig of that murky vanilla WoW air. Let’s look back at all the great features that made classic WoW a hardcore MMO-er’s wet dream.

How can I not start off with the fact that there wasn’t any legitimate quest helper addon or in game feature? Quests back then were actually fucking quests, meaning some asshole told you what he needed from you and you figured it out from there. It was not time efficient unless you’d already done it before. Often times you’d have to consult your trusty friend Thottbot or Allakhazam. Quests were so tedious, in fact, that I actually opted to just grind out most of my levels and levels were not easy to come by. Admittedly levels 58 to 60 were some of the unhealthiest days of my life.

On the more sunny side of the leveling aspect of the game, there were almost always open ground PvP battles erupting (on Pvp servers which you should have be playing on). I distinctly remember jumping into colossal raids often in the Hillsbrad region between Southshore and Tarren Mill. The raids would start small with a few level “thirtywhatevers” cutely exchanging shadowbolts and the like, but they would always end in one way: with everyone jumping on their main 60s to slaughter the groups of underlings interrupting their leveling.I would not be exaggerating when I say this was a daily occurence in Azeroth.

The leveling instances in Vanilla WoW were a completely different experience then they are today. Your character didn’t level up 12 times in the during the run, and gathering a group for some of the specific ones were a pain; none of this cross server instance running. Back in the early days of the game, a majority of people in WoW had no idea what they were doing. I remember running Uldaman for my first time with a party of three mages and two warlocks. That was about the time when the term “tank” first gathered meaning for me. “Oh. So like, we need someone who will take a lot of hits then.” Ya, Rob, you will need one of those people. And maybe one of those guys who can replenish everyone’s health would be nice, too.

Do you remember epics at level 60? Chances are you didn’t have any unless you played the game hourly. I probably hit level 60 with mostly greens with a few blues left over from Zul’Farrak and Sunken Temple, so my first thought was not epics but get me some damn blue items. I remember getting kicked out of a few groups for not being geared enough to attend a spot for a UBRS raid. That’s about when I realized I had a long way before I would ever see an epic even drop.

Getting rares from your PvP effort was no walk in the park either. There was no points that you turned in for gear. To get PvP gear you had to whore yourself out to the battlegrounds for hours to hope that your PvP bar would ding you up to the next rank every week. The highest I got was rank 8 and I played for an unhealthy amount of hours. If you wanted the top two of three ranks, and in effect the best epics of the PvP world, you had to play battlegrounds every day, all day. And when you slept? You’d find someone else to play your character for you. Easier epics could be attained by getting exaulted with WSG, AV, and AB, and most likely, these epics were your first taste of purple.

The greatest aspect of the vanilla days that will truly be missed for me is the raids. The day my guild finally got 40 MC attuned players together for our first MC raid will be one to remember though we only killed two groups of mobs after four wipes. The power of purple beckoned us though. We spent 80% of our waking hours from that day on marauding our way through the depths of Molten Core until that big heap of fire Ragnoras was slain. Things I learned? 40 people is a lot of people to control. Twenty five will always pail in comparison to controlling forty. It only takes one sleeping troll to ruin a big fight, and when you think you’ve got everyones’ action in your raid accounted for, the troll blows everyone up on Baron Geddon cuz he “didn’t know he was the bomb”.

Vanilla WoW will be remembered for the great parts about it and that’s how it should be. Forget that grinding sucked and every aspect of the game was much harder, and just remember. You were there, man, you contributed in the rise of the best MMO to date. Before I end the article, let me cover a few other nostalgic key points.

Class Balance

Rogues- Were the armpit of the classes. Pretty underpowered and the hardest to keep alive in raids. Dagger build or gtfo.
Druids- Absolutely the most underpowered class at the time. They were the jack of all trades but master of none. They couldn’t legitimately tank or do damage and were usually restricted to the healing role in raids.
Shamans- Horde only. Amazing for Pvp, but pretty bad for raids. Enough said.
Paladins- Alliance only. The kings of the auto attack. Were very good to have for PvE, so much so that usually Alliance guilds were the first to down major bosses. Bubble hearthing started here.
Mages- When PoM pyroblast was at its prime. A very powerful class although could never hope to kill an evenly geared warlock.
Warlocks- A patch changed warlocks from one of the bitch classes to one of the most overpowered. Did you know death coil used to have no fear effect and a ten minute cooldown?
Warriors- entirely gear dependent. Usually would get smacked around until they had a few epics.
Hunters- Hunters were still annoying as hell. Did a lot of damage and took very little.
Priests- The only real healing class. Shadow priests were laughed out of raids daily.

The most memorable zones

Molten Span- ever watch an epic PvP video? Most likely most of the scenes were from here. UBRS, LBRS, BRD, MC, all here.
Hillsbrad Foothills- so. much. open world pvp.
Stranglethorn Vale- Made the list for the wrong reasons. Usually consisted of lowbies getting ganked then getting camped. But almost too valueable to pass up because of the experience.

The best and worst of Vanilla WoW

The best
Having to work your ass off to get epics.
The worst
No arenas =(
What did you love and hate from the original version?

About the Author


  • David

    Nice article… points out the allure of WoW from its inception. Instant Grats, then took the world by its gonads. yeah, I remember cruising the barrens clueless. or should I say, constantly rereading the quest log to figure out how to accomplish a specific goal.
    When you think about how vast Azeroth was before you got a mount, you had little choice but to experience every nuance.
    It took many hours to achieve levels, constant attempts at instances and such.
    I’m thankful for the enduring story that I had for 4 years. I probably would have continued if the pressure to level so fast didn’t override everything else.
    It really was fun.
    …quit 2 years ago…
    Thanks for the article.

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