Sunday, November 5, 2017

Vanilla WoW Is Coming Back!

If you ask me, the only interesting news we got from Blizzcon, which I only know anything about since pretty much every one on my Twitter won't stop talking about it, were the news that Blizzard are launching Vanilla servers. For the uninitiated (and if you are I doubt you're much interested in this post), "vanilla" refers to WoW before expansions. They've existed all along as unofficial "pirate" servers without any kind of support from Blizzard, now they are coming legitimately with all that entails. This blew my mind. As you may or may not know, I started playing WoW around April 2005 and played it until somewhere around April 2013. That is 8 years of my life invested and some of my fondest memories, not just gaming memories, are from that game. I met my bf and we have our child thanks to WoW. I can not overstate what an impact it has had on me and I still think about it  anecdotally pretty much every day. Although I didn't start playing it seriously (as in more than 1-2 hour a day and with raiding) until Burning Crusade, Vanilla WoW is where I started out. Breaking the news to my bf we just stared at each other, memories coming rushing back.

After I had gone past the initial amaze-balls feeling of just hearing about it, my first thoughts were - which kind of Vanilla? Vanilla was around for about two years before we got Burning Crusade and a lot happened during that time alone. Will we get early-Vanilla or late-Vanilla? Which patch are they going from? And are they going to do it hardcore, no Quality-Of-Life-Changes from later patches/expansions added whatsoever? It made me and the bf reminisce about what all that could mean. What was Vanilla all about? Here are some completely random memories from back then;

  • Horde didn't have paladins and alliance didn't have shamans.
  • Shamans had totem quests! I wrote about them several times on this blog, and I particularly hated the Water Totem Quest.
  • Shamans had several talents and skills as if they were meant to be able to tank, which I wrote about here. I even wrote a guide on how to do it!
  • Most classes required consumables to be able to do their best buffs and/or certain skills. Symbol of Kings of 30 min Blessings for Paladins, Candles for 30 min Prayer of Fortitude for Priests. Rogues still needed ingredients to do different poisons and had to carry around those poisons. Warlocks needed a ton of Soul Shards for Healthstones which had to be summoned one by one. Imagine that when you want to give your raid of 40 people a Healthstone each. Mages also had to summon their food one by one, although they required no ingredient to do it. Instead they needed materials to open portals and to teleport.
  • Spellpower was based off Intellect and mana regen off Spirit. This means most classes had a spellpower gear for when being in combat and a spirit gear to swap into when out of combat, to regen mana in.
  • Every skill had ranks and they all scaled about equally with spellpower, but had a very different cost in mana. This means Paladin rank 1 Flash of Light cost basically no mana but could heal for a lot anyway if you had enough intellect.
  • You couldn't have dual-specs. You had to pay to swap and you had to buy all your ranks back. I forgot to do this several times and ended up tanking end-game instances with rank 1 skills.
  • Tanking as a warrior was pretty damn difficult and required a lot of cooperation from your team or quick reflexes. As a warrior you started each fight without any resource which meant you either needed initial rage or needed to keep the pace up so that your rage never went down to zero. I wrote a lot of guides on warrior tanking, they are from later points in the game but warrior tanking regarding this point hadn't changed much then. Things that annoy me when tanking. Tanking heroics nice and smooth.
  • Classes had class quests, some of the best ways to see if someone knew their class or not because they were genuinely some of the most difficult ways to obtain a certain item. I did the Anathema/Benediction quest on my Priest, but I think that didn't hold a candle in difficulty compared for instance to the Rok'Delar/Lok'Delar Hunter quest.
  • Obviously Blood Elves, Draenei, Worgen and Goblins didn't exist yet. Introducing Blood Elves and Draenei in Burning Crusade was how Blizzard explained Alliance getting shamans and Horde getting Paladins.
  • No flying mounts!
  • You didn't get your first mount until level 40 and getting enough money to afford it was not easy. I think it cost some 90g.
  • There were no Looking For Groups or Looking For Raids. Originally there weren't even Summon Stones or game-wide channels that allowed you to find people, but you had to stand around in a major city to collect enough people for an instance. Then get everyone there. And if anyone left mid-instance, someone had to travel/hearthstone back to a major city to find a new player and get that new player to the instance. This meant just making any old instance could take hours. HOURS!
  • Some instances were hell just to get to let alone get through. Maraudon was infamous for having people lost and confused long before they even entered the instance. If you died you had to corpse-run from outside the instance back in if no one could resurrect you. My brother was known as "Luzi the lost" in his guild because he could never find his way back into Maraudon.
  • There was no roll for "Need", "Greed" or "Disenchant" system. You could only roll to either take an item or not. Initially this was one system I wish they didn't bring back, but my bf pointed out that this was the best way to find out who was worth grouping with again or not. You could find some really nice people based on how they treated the rolls, although it also meant a lot of frustration from people treating everything as a potential weapon for them, even when it clearly wasn't *cough*Hunters*cough*.
  • Some instances that are now instances were initially raids. Scholomance and Stratholme come to mind. They were first 10-man raids and then 5-man raids if I remember correctly. I recall priests being the go to healer for those instances because we could remove both magic and disease debuffs, had Shackle Undead and that buff that protected from fear.
  • Paladins had Judgements and Seals, they only lasted a few seconds. I remember having a macro where I would rebuff my Seal every time I used Judgement.
  • Rogues could still open Lockboxes, that was a big thing actually. I loved leveling up my lockpicking skill and offering up my services to people in big cities.
  • There were still chests around the world. I really miss those, although they were pretty heavily exploited.
These are just off the top of my head and as soon as I post this I am going to think of a ton of more ones. But I could do this all day and both me and the bf realized that we would love to go back to an unaltered experience of Vanilla WoW. It was harsh, but absolutely amazing. My personal favorite expansion was Wrath of the Lich King, but maybe Blizzard intend to make it slowly through the old expansions again? That would be so, so cool.


  1. A few others that most people probably forget about -

    1) It got dark. For reals.
    2) You had to carry a torch to see in the dark.
    3) Areas outside of instances were populated with elites. Getting TO the entrance of Deadmines, for example.

    I miss the challenges from those days (or even BC, which is where I spent most of my formative years in WoW). Whether I have interest in returning ... depends on my friends, I guess.

    1. Oh yes! The elites!
      The elite one brings back a memory for me in fact. I am running around in Barrens on my wee priest and someone asks if I want to come heal Wailing Caverns for them. I run there only to encounter loads of elites I have no chance of getting past and everyone else were already inside and couldn't be bothered to come get me. Teamwork was forced on you at every turn, but I miss that tbh.

  2. Me, I'm looking forward to it. I cut my teeth on Wrath, and while I knew the Old World quests, I realized that the difficulty was completely different 4 years worth of changes in.

    1. Oh yeah they've changed so, so much. Just between Vanilla and BC there were a ton of changes so it'll be really interesting to see which version they go for.

  3. Actually you didn't get spell power from intellect in vanilla as far as I remember, only increased spell crit. Spell power on gear was incredibly rare until the higher tiers, which is why random greens with +shadow damage or whatever were highly coveted.

    I've been playing on private vanilla servers on an off for the past couple of years and was amazed by how well the gameplay still held up after all this time. Many things weren't worse, just different. I will definitely be playing this when it comes out. :)

    1. Yes you are probably correct about the spell power! I just remember that Paladins had such an easy time healing by downranking their spells. Also if I recall correctly it was initially healing power and spell damage or something like that - at least two different stats depending on which type of spell it affected.