Classic WoW offers the promise of a nostalgic trip back in time, but many are worried — and some are certain — that they won’t have the same discretionary time that they had 15 years ago. So, if you’re a casual dreamer or formerly hardcore player hoping to participate in the most dangerous adventuring and most formidable raiding efforts, your focus should be centered on being very judicious with the limited time you have. This probably does mean leaving behind some aspects of Classic WoW that you’d otherwise enjoy on an unlimited time budget. But, far more importantly it prioritizes the truly favorite experiences and triages out the expendable. Below are 5 principles that would make your time spent purposeful and productive, and would enable a casual player with limited time to remain in the hardcore milieu.
Settle On One Single Server.
There are few more costly mistakes than rolling on the wrong server. Unless realm transfers, which have largely gone unmentioned, are offered at the player’s discretion, you won’t have a way to recover gold, experience, and gear accumulated on a server you wish to walk away from. Like quantum dimensions, they are entirely separate universes sealed off from each other… except for the occasional wormhole.
There are a number of ways to ensure you’re rolling on an ideal server for you, or at least, avoiding a server choice so poor that you’d consider throwing away your entire time investment. Talk with your friends ahead of time, and reconcile time zone differences if they exist. Remain vigilant of which streamers are settling on which servers, and choose carefully to join or avoid them. You could also choose a server that isn’t necessarily designed for your time zone, but allows you to align your free time with the typical, predictable raid time for that server population. Server stability and bandwidth have come a long way in 15 years, so this is a much more viable option that it used to be.
Of the many costly and consequential decisions in Classic WoW, your choice of server is arguably the one of highest consequence, and it’s often made arbitrarily or with little consideration or knowledge. Don’t lose hundreds of hours on the roll of the dice; use what information you have to make an informed decision that protects your time investment.
Only Gather; Don’t Craft.
The time commitment for tradeskills is larger than you think: farming recipes, farming lesser materials to advance your crafting skill level, buying and selling craftables and materials in the auction house, and farming gold to commit to your professions. It’s tough time commitment for a casual trying to hang with the hardcore. Crafting is hardly part of any Classic WoW adventure into the unknown; it’s often done within arm’s reach of a mailbox in a safe city.
Luckily, with very few exceptions, you can purchase craftable items without committing time to the respective profession. Even some of the absolute best items in the game, such as the Lionheart Helm and Titanic Leggings, are craftable but transferable to anyone, armorsmiths or otherwise. So, you could simply accumulate gold through the normal course of play and eventually afford these spectacular craftables without having dedicated any time directly toward obtaining them.
So, if you’re looking to spend your time more wisely and enjoyable, seriously consider trimming out crafting and choosing two gathering professions instead. You’ll never spend your limited time hunting for rare recipes or assembling strange combinations of crafting materials, and you can still make gold and participate in the tradeskill process without committing a lot of time. Although you can only track one resource at a time via the standard vanilla user interface; there are great addons that can help you track two at once. And, if you truly are a vanilla veteran, you’ll be able to spot a mountain silversage or a thorium node from a mile away.
Make No Time and Effort for Alternate Sets and Offspecs.
There’s nothing wrong (and no time involved) with picking up offspec gear that appears through the course of developing your character’s primary role and purpose, but make sure you are never committing time solely and specifically toward a secondary role. PVP sets, most often won by hours of ranking, is certainly a timesink comparable to raiding at higher levels, and is for many classes a secondary role that requires entirely different equipment.
One way to avoid the temptation of farming and perfecting many sets of gear would be to choose a purebred class that can only really serve one role. Rogues and mages, for example, do not have materially different roles within the game; they are always damage dealers. So, the differences between their ideal raiding gear and their perfect PVP gear are marginal, especially compared to warriors, shaman, or druids, who have dramatically different equipment needs depending on their role and specialization.
In other words, invest all your time into a purebred class, and enjoy the power you’ve earned in all areas of the game.
No Formalized PVP Ranking Efforts
It almost goes without saying that climbing the Classic PVP ladder is one of the most daunting timesinks in the game (or in any game). If you’re seeking the rare, rank-10 PVP set, you may be able to attain it with limited time, but keep in mind that your fate is in the collective hands of other competitors. If they play more than you, you plateau and slip down the rankings, falling painfully short of your goal. If you have limited time and Grand Marshal or High Warlord aspirations, the hard truth is that you should consider a game where playing more intelligently and more skillfully — not just playing more — is a better choice for both your prospects and your game-life balance.
It’s important to note that PVP items won with exalted reputations, while still a staggering time investment, can be done at your own pace and independently of other players’ participation in the hotly-contested PVP leaderboard.
No Alts Above Level 5
Most veterans would advise that you get your bank alt to level 5, so that they may learn enchanting and be able to disenchant BOE gear of any level. Getting a character to level 5 is quite easy, even for someone with extremely limited time; you could do it in less than an hour. However, don’t be tempted to level it beyond 5. One way to discourage yourself would be to choose your least appealing class for your bank alt, and give it a name (perhaps involving the word “bank” or “mule”) that makes for a moniker under which you’d never want to play.
The tiny time investment in a bank alt, which is effectively an investment in additional inventory space, can pay off in spades. Players underestimate the time they spend sorting and sifting through their own inventories. If you’d rather run a dungeon than pack your bags perfectly, consider funneling non-binding items to a bank alt and handling it next time you’re waiting to find that rare tank or healer for your party.
Classic WoW is known for being time-intensive, but that doesn’t mean you have to indiscriminately dump time into the game, especially if it’s your most limited resource. Put in some though ahead of time about what you’d give up (professions, PVP, alts) if you had to and stay true to those decisions. If you do, no matter your constraints, there will be no corner of Azeroth that’s out of your reach.