It has been more than half a year since Blizzard developers put the WoW Classic servers online. And what an entertaining, stirring, inspiring, but also frustrating six months it was. We were stuck in long queues far too often during the launch week, battling with the wobbling mass of players for quest mobs and annoyed with one or the other layering problem. At the same time, we were also happy about the decelerated level phase, the motivating character progress and the many positive experiences with the Classic community. We reached level 60, got blue clutter from the high-level dungeons that outshone many an epic, and finally wrestled Ragnaros in the Molten Core and Onyxia in their hoard. The fun was accompanied of a lot of drama: Ninjalooter here, one-sided open PvP slaughter there, bot users (felt) everywhere.
• Zul'Gurub (20-player raid)
• Green dragons (world bosses)
• Arathi Basin (battlefield)
• Ahn’Qiraj – opening event
• Ruins of Ahn'Qiraj (20 player raid)
• Temple of Ahn'Qiraj (40-player raid)
• Tier 0.5 sets
• Scourge Invasion (World Event)
• Naxxramas (40-player raid)
• World PvP content in Silithus and the Eastern PlaguelandsNo, it's boring in the classic version of the World of Warcraft (buy now for € 26.99) now certainly not. Also because the developers have all the content of the Vanilla era already prepared lying around somewhere and only have to bring it online and thus have to make it accessible to all players. In addition, they do not adhere inflexibly to the originally announced 6-phase plan. The dungeon areas in Gloomy Break, for example, opened their doors on October 16, 2019, well before the official start of phase 2 on November 12 and the associated introduction of the honor system and the first two world bosses Azuregos and Lord Kazzak.
Likewise, the Alterac Valley and the Warsong Gorge were preferred as a kind of snack. Certainly also to defuse the frustrating situation on the PvP servers at the start of phase 2 and to lure players from the open world to the instanced battlefields. On February 13, 2020, the remaining contents of phase 3 followed with the blackwing lair, the level 50 class quests, new reputation rewards as well as the dark moon fair. So we almost reached the halfway point: three phases are online, three phases are yet to come. And the good news for all Classic enthusiasts out there: The hottest challenges are still waiting for us!
Phase 4: Back to the green hell of Zul'Gurub
In the first half of the Vanilla era, the guilds and alliances fought not only with the Molten Core and Blackwing Bosses, organizing a raid squad of 40 or more players was a tricky challenge. For a long time, many communities had to bake small rolls and concentrate on PvP or the dungeons, for example, because there simply weren't enough people to be mobilized to fight Ragnaros or Nefarian. And it was precisely for these players that the Zul'Gurub challenge was intended, which had two special features compared to the previous raids: Instead of 40, there are only a maximum of 20 players in the home of the Gurubashi trolls. In addition, Zul'Gurub is an outdoor instance, similar to Zul'Farrak, so you can use your mount there.
If we add the comparatively low level of difficulty (without the necessary access quest or resistance equipment) and the good, but by no means outstanding loot, Zul'Gurub at the time blossomed into a great raid alternative for beginners, laggards or guilds with too little manpower for them Blackrock raids. In WoW Classic there is actually no need for such an entry-level adventure at the moment, since the level of difficulty of MC and business administration has so far not been mentioned. As a fun nostalgia trip for old vanilla veterans, for more variety on the raid evenings and an additional source for nice loot, strong enchantments and another world buff (spirit of Zandalar: increases the movement speed by 10 percent and all values by 15 percent. Holds 2 This snack is always good for hours.
Especially since the bosses play again more varied than in the previous raids and the jungle setting forms a nice contrast to the black rock gray black red. And hey: just because of the Fast Zulian Tiger from Thekal or the Fast Razzashiraptor from Mandokir, many players will want to pay a visit to Zul'Gurub again and again.
The Hakkar plague spreads
A little over fourteen years ago, a bug almost paralyzed World of Warcraft. Whoever logged in ended up with the spirit healer. Blood god Hakkar from Zul'Gurub and the hunters were to blame. But let's start at the beginning: the final boss in Zul'Gurub is a certain blood god Hakkar, who is only too happy to debuff Corrupted Blood on his enemies. This weakening effect not only caused damage to its victim and nearby players, it also jumped to allies who were too cuddly. What nobody knew: With the introduction of the raid, a bug also came into play, which ensured that the animal companions of the hunter kept their debuff even after leaving the instance.
You surely suspect it: The debuff subsequently jumped from the pet to all players within reach. Youngsters immediately bit into the grass, high-tier veterans had to believe in it shortly afterwards. While some players tried to cure the afflicted and cleanse the effect, others made fun of spreading the disease throughout Azeroth. It took Blizzard about a week and several hotfixes to get the situation under control. This was enough time to spread the "Hakkar incident" beyond WoW's borders. News sites reported the first online epidemic in history, and epidemiologists and even terrorists were also involved in the event. If you now hope that something comparable will also happen in Classic, we have to disappoint you. The Blizzard developers will certainly not release the bug on the servers again.
Phase 4: The hunt for four green dragons
With Patch 1.8, the developers of Blizzard supplemented the world boss offer from Vanilla-WoW with the four green dragons Ysondre, Smariss, Lethon and Taerar, which – like Kazzak and Azuregos – had some great loot pieces in their luggage. The ambitious guilds fought around the large scale lizards for one reason, however: All four dragons drop pieces of equipment with natural resistance that were life-saving in the temple of Ahn'Qiraj near Huhuran. So far, resistances have played a much smaller role in WoW Classic than at that time in Vanilla WoW.
Nevertheless, many Classic guilds will already want to prepare optimally for the upcoming raid challenges, and that includes getting a natural resistance set just in case. The world bosses previously available in Classic have also shown that a few guilds invest an enormous amount of time to claim the villains as often as possible. Many players may not even have seen Kazzak and Azuregos. No problem: You are not dependent on the loot of these two bosses. However, we suspect that the Green Dragons with Phase 4 will then be much more competitive. Because many guilds have great respect for the temple of Ahn'Qiraj.
Phase 4: Classic's best battlefield
As much fun as the Warsong Gorge is, it has one huge disadvantage: If two perfectly defending teams with the optimal class composition meet, a game like this can drag on endlessly. In Vanilla-WoW there was no maximum term for the flag hunt, and accordingly the rounds in the new edition can take a long time. Almost 15 years ago there were therefore many PvP fans who preferred the Arathi Basin. Here two teams of 15 players each compete for a total of five resource points; Whoever can first collect 2,000 raw materials by conquering the smithy, mine and Co. wins the match. After half an hour the fun is over and you can register for the next battle.
Regular visits to the pool are not only worthwhile for the honor, you can also unlock great rewards by calling the associated faction, including epic shoulder boards, a good cloak with agility, endurance and attack power, as well as a purple staff and a dagger for magicians. It will be exciting to see how PvP players who are looking for the highest ranks will accept the Arathi Basin. In Alterac Valley, you quickly get honor without much effort. In the Warsong Gorge you can send teams backing up with a well-rehearsed home group very easily and quickly with a 3-0 victory, which also promises efficient honor collecting. Time will tell whether the Arathi Basin can find a place between these extremes of the honor system. However, many casual PvP players are certainly looking forward to the new battlefield.
Phase 5: Who will get the black Qirai tank drone?
14,000 rainbow fin tuna, 90,000 copper bars, 400,000 rune cloth dressings and 600,000 silk dressings – these are just a few of the supplies that Vanilla players had to get after the release of Patch 1.9 in early 2006 to open the gates in the Ahn'Qiraj beetle stronghold, and with them the two make associated raid challenges accessible. We will come to the ruins and the temple later. Before that, we want to emphasize again how much effort was involved in opening Ahn'Qiraj at the time. All of these supplies had to be procured on every single server.
At the same time, the players battled their way through an epic quest line to ultimately get the Scepter of the Sandstorms. Once the server had completed all war preparations and a player was ready with the scepter, the obstacle could finally be removed. As a reward, the coveted black Qiraji tank drone mount waved for the Scepter-Schwinger. The opening was accompanied by an event that brought the server to its knees with spawned silithids and Anubis fighters everywhere, who met hundreds of combat-ready players despite the lags and disconnections.
In WoW Classic, this epic and hitherto unique event will be repeated for the first time in almost 15 years. If we lump the knowledge, competitive mentality and experience of today's players together with the large populations of Classic servers, one can assume that the stocks on many realms will be available after a comparatively short time. Probably dozens of guilds are already farming the associations, tuna and bars, and the professionals are certainly already planning on their private servers how they can complete the quest series as efficiently as possible. In other words, a sprint and no marathon is likely to await us in phase 5. And as the mass booths in Schwarzfels impressively showed on the release day from the Blackwing Lair, the servers will very likely reach their limits again when Ahn'Qiraj opens. But whether with lags or not: Nobody should miss the event in Classic!
Phase 5: It gets really crisp for the first time
Most Classic players will certainly agree with us: The raid content is not too difficult yet. Well, Onyxia is known for her bitchy behavior from time to time, and there are also bosses in the Blackwing Lair, where many raid groups will wipe here and there. The bottom line, however, has never been a Classic Boss, which is actually a major challenge. And of course there are many reasons for this: The talent, class and item balancing of Patch 1.12, for example, which ensures that characters in Classic from Day 1 onwards experience significantly more than in the first months of Vanilla-WoW Case was. If we add today's knowledge, experience, faster and more stable Internet and better PC hardware, it is no wonder that the well-known adversaries have so far had the lifespan of mayflies.
But that will change for the first time for many raid communities in the ancient Egyptian temple of Ahn'Qiraj. Well, the professional guilds will cut themselves like a hot knife through butter to the old god C'Thun and celebrate the World First Kill – so our tip – about an hour (maybe one and a half, the instance is big) after the raid opens. They have also cleaned the temple of Ahn'Qiraj on private servers hundreds of times and will certainly train the raid on their own realms until the start of phase 5. However, "normal" guilds will feel for the first time in the temple what it is like when the patch 1.12 balancing just mentioned no longer has a quite as positive influence on the strength of the characters as has been the case so far. Of the nine bosses residing in the temple, the twin rulers, Viscidus, Ouro and, of course, the final boss C'Thun were hard chunks.
In addition, the instance is very extensive and trash groups are waiting for brave adventurers everywhere – in the best case annoying, in the worst case fatally. After all, you can find qirajid drones in the raid that can be used as mounts within the instance. The drudgery is also worthwhile: The five-piece armor sets from AQ40 are among the best for many styles of play, which you can wear in phase 5. The same applies to the other loot pieces, with which you prepare yourself perfectly for the finale in Naxxramas.
Phase 5: Ruin raid for casual guilds
Zul'Gurub was so well received by many players that with Patch 1.9 Blizzard not only implemented a new 40-player challenge on the servers (the temple of Ahn'Qiraj just discussed), but also an alternative for 20-player groups : the ruins of Ahn'Qiraj. These ruins are more compact compared to the temple and offer a total of six bosses a home. The level of difficulty is a bit above the level of the troll raid with the varied mechanics, but the challenges of the ruins are far from being as difficult as in the temple.
As a reward, you will find books for all classes that promise you new ranks for skills you have already learned. Warlocks improve their Shadow Bolt to around 10th, priests improve their Great Healing and Prayer of Healing to 5th, and villains optimize Assassination, Deadly Poison, and Ruse. These upgrades alone make the ruins a must for all Classic groups.
Phase 5: The Tier 0 set in really good
The Blizzard developers introduced the second dungeon set, often called the T-0.5 set, with patch 1.10. With this set, the designers wanted to offer casual gamers, who had not previously been able to join a raid group, the opportunity to upgrade their T-0 equipment to a level that outshines some raid alternatives. In the course of a long, but also expensive quest series consisting of 25 steps, you exchange your previously earned T-0 items for versions with higher attributes and bonus values, some of which are rare (blue) and some are epic (purple) quality .
Some sections of the questline can be done solo. However, some tasks also take you to the high-level instances of Stratholme, Scholomance, Gloomy Break or Blackrock Depths. Since the T-0.5 class sets have their very own look, you can see at a glance who has mastered this challenge completely. If you want to be one of the proud owners of the second dungeon set, you should start getting the eight parts of the T-0 set now.
Phase 6: New incentives for World PvP in Azeroth
With patch 1.12, the developers of Blizzard introduced not only the cross-server battlefields about 14 years ago (which have been activated in WoW Classic from the start), but also new content that should fuel PvP in the open world. The dusty beetle home of Silithus was about collecting crystal dust from geysers protruding from the ground. Those who brought this dust to the local base of their own faction not only received honor, but also a useful buff that increases melee and spell damage by five percent for 30 minutes. As soon as a faction released a certain amount of the dust, they even activated a world buff for all allies in the zone and the two associated Ahn'Qiraj raids, thanks to which they gained 25 percent more reputation for the Cenarion Circle by killing opponents received. After that, the competition for dust started again.
In the Eastern Plaguelands, on the other hand, the battle for four towers was in the foreground. The owners of all towers were rewarded with a region-wide buff, which was also active in the Stratholme dungeon and increased your damage against the local undead and your health. Each tower also unlocked additional benefits, such as an exclusive flight point or support troops. Certainly these Open PvP incentives in Classic, especially in Silithus, will cause one or the other fight between the factions – in the Temple of Ahn'Qiraj every buff is a welcome help. But don't expect Open World PvP to reach a whole new level. Especially since many PvP servers now suffer from such a blatant faction imbalance that there is likely to be a faction dominating the two zones anyway.
Phase 6: WoW's first world event
Yes, the opening of Ahn'Qiraj was an impressive event at the time. And the Hakkar plague swirled Azeroth upright at the time (see the relevant section above). But the first real world event, planned by Blizzard, took place a little later, on June 20, 2006. On that day, the developers released Patch 1.11 of the scourge on the players to announce the opening of Naxxramas, the final raid challenge . The event was omnipresent because necropolises suddenly floated through the air in different zones of Azeroth – similar to the alien spaceships in the Emmerich strip Independence Day.
From there, the Scourge troops attacked the Eastern Kingdoms, the Burning Steppes, and other areas. The heroes of Azeroth again drew their weapons to repel the undead near broken pieces. In this way, the splinters were deprived of their energy until finally four cultist engineers appeared who wanted to repair the broken glass. The recovery process could be interrupted with a so-called necrotic rune, but the cultist then turned into a powerful shadow creature. It was only when the four shadows were defeated that the necrotic shard was done. And only when the players had destroyed all the broken pieces in the respective zone did they succeed in driving the associated necropolis out of the area.
This struggle was supported by the Argent Dawn, which had established a headquarters in the Eastern Plaguelands. There you also found merchants with items that were particularly efficient for the fight against the Scourge (such as the necrotic runes mentioned), enchants for frost resistance, 18-place bags and much more. Of course, all of this also awaits us when the developers start Classic Phase 6 and let go of Naxxramas on the WoW Classic players. Speaking of …
Phase 6: The only true Naxxramas
In 2006 it should take about two and a half months until Nihilum defeated Kel'Thuzad, the first guild, and thus mastered the final vanilla raid Naxxramas. Until the start of the first expansion, only a very few WoW players repeated this feat. Most vanilla veterans have not even set foot in the necropolis. Many of the (few) guilds who tried the bosses of Naxxramas at the time could only defeat some of the 15 (!) Meanies. And even if Naxxramas should make a comeback with the second expansion, Wrath of the Lich King, numerous Azeroth heroes should still have an account with the much heavier Vanilla version.
An invoice that in all likelihood also wants to be paid dearly in Classic. Because in 2006 there were adversaries like Loatheb, the four riders or Sapphiron blatant "gear checks", for the top equipment and an – sorry – ass full of consumables and world buffs. The version of the new version of Vanilla will certainly not be that crisp. After all, we continue to benefit from the faster, stable Internet, the knowledge and experience of 15 years WoW, oh, and one or the other fixed bug should make the fighting easier. Even on the more balanced private servers there are well-established guilds that clean up the entire raid in just over an hour. Of course, one of these groups will still get the World First Kill in the first ID in Classic Phase 6. Normally raids without private server experience will certainly be much more difficult. Well, after all, this is the very last challenge in WoW Classic.
At the same time, the raid itself with its design, great atmosphere and varied bosses is one of the most iconic instances in the entire WoW history. The rewards include not only many of the best items from the vanilla era, but also the stylishly designed Tier 3 class sets and the legendary Atiesh staff. The guardian staff has to be laboriously assembled, for which you not only have to find 40 fragments of Atiesh, but also the villains C'Thun and Kel'Thuzad. The weapon is also special because its values and effects depend on the class of the owner. Yes, mages, warlocks, druids and priests each get their own version of the legendary staff. How cool is that, please ?!
Blizzard developers have only recently launched Release period for the content of Classic Phase 4 announced. The Arathi Basin appears with associated factions as well as the battlefield bonus weeks on March 10th. Zul'Gurub and the four Green Dragons will then be submitted sometime in April (a concrete release date has not yet been determined).
Release of phases 5 and 6
As far as the last two content phases are concerned, which Blizzard has not yet commented on, we can at least draw some conclusions for the future from the publications of the previous content:
1) So far, the developers have published the core content of a new phase every two to three months. The Devs have often followed the original release plan from the vanilla era. If you stay true to this cycle, the release of phase 5 awaits us in July or August, phase 6 will follow in November or December 2020.
2) Since the developers have not strictly followed the phases so far and have always preferred individual content, it is very likely that they will continue to do so in the future. It could be the case that the Tier 0.5 sets are made available on the servers before the actual start of phase 5.
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