The year was 2005 and Kristen was playing Half-life 2 while I was playing random games on my PC. She was in a Staples looking to upgrade her RAM to play Half-life 2 when the clerk mentioned she needed to play World of Warcraft (WoW) not Half-Life. She purchased the game and it sat on her desk for a while. I noticed it one day and she mentioned I could test it with the trial account, which I did, rolling a human mage because it sounded more like good vs. evil when I first launched the game. I was blown away by the quests and difficulty of the game. It was fun and massive. I had never experienced games like this, having only played Everquest for a short amount of time, not really finding it of interest. I found that I was limited by the trial account, so I ninjaed her main game code and kept playing. I told her she had to play this game; it was incredible. She was none too thrilled about me taking her game code, so we went out and got another copy of the game.
She ended up loving the game as well and we leveled up toons. I was a human paladin and her a night elf hunter. It took what felt like months to level to 60. There were no locations of where quests were, so we had to figure it out on our own. We eventually found a site called Thottbot that helped us find the locations of quests. Classic WoW, which had become known as Vanilla WoW, was notorious for sending you all over the world to complete quests. The immense distance was annoying, but extremely painful due to the lack of a mount until level 40. This meant you walked around zones, making it take days to level up. Keep in mind the level 40 mount was expensive and not always obtainable for most people because of course, gold was hard to come by in WoW. The mount at 40, if obtained, was extremely helpful, but also only 60% increased movement speed. The eventual epic mount at 60 was 100%, but cost so much money that most would not obtain it early on or even years on.
After reaching 60, we ran some dungeons, me thinking I could go retribution and dps (damage per second) my way through places only to find out I was terrible at it. The game didn’t really have a retribution build yet. Even though class trees had the ability to spec into multiple trees, early Vanilla WoW really built classes to be strong in one tree. For Paladins, this meant I was supposed to be a healer. I did not want to be a healer, so was quite annoyed that it was the only way people would ever take me to instances. I worked on it, becoming better at healing and begrudgingly doing what I didn’t want. Over the years I’ve fallen in love with healing but at the time I was all about doing high dps. We were getting bored of our Alliance toons and a new server was opening as a PVP (player vs. player) one.
We decided to switch to the Horde faction as it seemed to fit more with who we were. We didn’t like the self-righteous Alliance feel and started over on a fresh PVP server called Scilla. I rolled a Troll Hunter named Eshu and Kristen rolled a Troll Priest named Kalai. We leveled up much quicker this time around even though it was a slog. Our skills improved as it was a PVP server and you would be ganked by the opposing faction. We did better in dungeons at 60 as I chose a much better dps class and Kalai became a go to healer for many groups we would form. Her healing got me into a lot of groups as we came as a package deal. This also led us to our first raiding guild. We had tried raiding on the Horde side and did some Zul Gurub raiding, downing a few bosses but never getting to do the huge 40 man raiding. This all changed when Drae, a friend that liked Kalai’s healing, asked us to join a guild he had just joined, called Requiem. We joined and started raiding Molten Core right off. It was much harder but more rewarding.
One of our biggest struggles was keeping up on the materials we needed to raid, or mats. Acquiring mats meant we were spending money on the Auction House for potions (both of us needing mana potions by the stacks for raiding). We would also buy the mats and have other guildies make potions for us. Buying mats and the repair costs of raiding had us both broke. We already couldn’t afford an epic mount so were slow getting around the world. In order to meet our potion demands I had to go into alchemy, crafting our own potions to sustain us. This saved us a lot of gold and as we started to figure out ways to make money; things stabilized. A guildie, Irkath, was super nice and farmed up money for Kalai’s epic mount and I got lucky and won two boe (bind on equip) epic weapons that I sold on the Auction House to pay for my epic riding. We were living the dream, having LAN parties at our house to raid with guildies that lived nearby and hanging out with our online friends for fun.
The downsides of raiding were that we no longer saw the outside world that often for a couple of years. Farming mats for raids, raiding for several hours weekly, and just enjoying the game took a lot of time away from things we might enjoy. At the same time, we formed long lasting bonds with members of Requiem and enjoyed hanging out with them. Videos of our accomplishments are posted on Youtube, which you can view here. We were one of the top guilds on the server, having BWL on farm and working on AQ40. Unfortunately, our timing was off as the next expansion was coming out and there just wasn’t enough time left to complete AQ40 and Naxx. This was a bummer to us and has been for many years.
The guild fell apart as raiding changed in the expansion, The Burning Crusade. People were doing different things, moving on, or trying out new raiding options as the numbers changed from 40 man raiding to 20 or 10 man. The elimination of 40 man raiding drastically changed the game. Whether for good or not is debatable. Either way, we moved on as well and raided with other guilds in various expansions. I switched to a rogue, Aesha, from TBC on to the current expansion BFA. I love my rogue now but will always have fond memories of my hunter and how difficult it was to get Rhok’delar and Lok’delar. I know Kalai had the same fondness over her Benediction. Downing bosses in Vanilla was epic, rewarding, and meant more than it does today. Epic situations happened like our first downing of Vael, where I remained the last person standing, killing the boss with a crappy talent all because I was low on mana and the debuff slot was available for me.
There is a fondness for Vanilla, a remembrance of something lost, something now forgotten…until now. With the launch of Classic WoW, people are once again able to experience all that Vanilla WoW has to offer. They can finally see how the game was extremely difficult and rewarding. Private servers have been trying to mimic Vanilla and it has shown Blizzard that there is a community of people that want to play Vanilla. Luckily, Blizzard listened. Private server players have had a similar experience but are missing out on the true Vanilla experience. No longer.
The game has been dumbed down for players over the years, made easier in so many ways with each successive expansion. Those of us that played Vanilla remember how much more rewarding the game was because of this difficulty. You had to form bonds with people because there was no automated system to form a group and teleport to the instance. Instead, you had to form the group through chat and walk or ride yourself to the instance location. The dungeon itself could then take hours to complete. These were massive time commitments, which formed bonds with other players. Today’s WoW is doable all alone, without communication with others. This is impossible in Classic. People will have to form bonds and learn to communicate with others, which is rewarding and helpful in real life.
For us, the reward is even bigger. Our Vanilla guild Requiem is reforming with most of the players that were its core. Many players are returning who have given up on WoW over the years. We are older; nearly 15 years older. Our lives have changed radically. The college kids who used to post about getting trashed now post pictures of their toddlers while K and I are full time travelers. This gives us the opportunity to explore off-grid gaming.
The comradery and bonds that were formed in Vanilla have remained even though people have aged and gone separate ways. The return of Classic WoW has brought with it the nostalgia of something that we didn’t even know we missed. Kalai, the priest, hasn’t healed in a couple of years (except irl). She didn’t like the way the game was dumbed down. Kalai, the warlock, is coming to a Classic WoW near you. The nostalgia has hit her hard and she has been ready to come back with a vengeance. For me, I’m going to heal this round, taking a step back from the dps classes I’ve played throughout the years. I will be Eshu, the Troll Priest, instead of a hunter this time.
Our guild, Requiem, reforming, thanks to the hard work of Drae, our future Thunderfuy, Blessed Blade of the Windseeker wielding tank, who has brought a long-bonded group back together that have picked up right where they left off. That says something; something powerful. Classic World of Warcraft is a battle cry for things lost but never forgotten. Nostalgia for the existence of a common goal that draws people together. Today, more than ever, the World could use more of this. Let the epic launch begin.