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How I Gave In To Temptation And Started Boosting In World of Warcraft Classic

#Months ago, I wrote an elegy for the lost traditions of #World of #Warcraft #Classic for #Kotaku. #After a long hype cycle touting it as a perfect recreation of the game’s provincial culture in the mid-2000s — those halcyon days before it was thoroughly brutalized by #Blizzard’s egalitarian approach to server identity, difficulty scaling, and mobile game-like progression — I was disappointed to see that the dreaded #Hustle #Mindset had too taken root in my alleged safe space. The levelling zones were bereft of fellow players, and finding a group for most dungeons was nearly impossible. #In their place was a legion of profiteering #Mages all at level 60, offering to power-level groups of hapless lowbies through instances for a small fee.

#This felt like such a desecration to me. I’ve been playing #World of #Warcraft for most of my life (now that’s horrifying to think about), and I didn’t remember these uber-capitalist services taking root in #Vanilla’s original expanse. The idea that you could pay a dude to do the hard work for you felt like both an insidious scam and a complete misinterpretation of #World of #Warcraft’s original intention. I came to #Classic to be an old-school elitist, and I was indulging in those instincts with gusto.

#That is, of course, until I purchased one of those boost runs myself. #Now I’ve been fully radicalized. The institutions are dead. #Embrace the chaos.

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#My brother and I were up late, trying to score a group for #Maraudon, a beloved dungeon added to #World of #Warcraft in its first-ever major patch. #We drafted a healer and an additional DPS caster, but couldn’t scrounge up a single tank despite hours and hours of LFG spamming. I wrote about that dichotomy in my previous piece; the 1-60 experience in #Classic has been decimated over the past year. #Everyone is thoroughly focused on the late game and nothing else.

#However, we did see a gnome in trade chat promoting #Maraudon boosts for the approachable fee of 16 gold. I really wanted to do the dungeon again in any capacity possible, so screw it, I said. #Let’s give it a shot. #We messaged the guy, and within minutes, he opened a portal and summoned us to the mouth of the instance. I had no idea what to expect, but considering how thoroughly the boost economy had gripped my beloved #World of #Warcraft, I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.

#So I was there with my brother and two other players, each of whom also bought their way into an express, passive-XP funnel. The gnome told us to pay him after he was finished, and swiftly disappeared around the corner and into the fray. #Maraudon is a big dungeon — the halls contain 11 bosses, with multiple entrances and a sizable bounty of quests — and I was completely new to this routine. #Were we supposed to follow him? A few minutes ticked by and still, no sight of our trusted guardian. I tapped my foot and threw out a /dance. #Maybe we were all being scammed.

#And then…the universe tore in half.

#This is what it looks like when a mage #AoEs down an entire dungeon. (#Screenshot: #Blizzard / #Kotaku)

I took some screenshots to show you the carnage, but nothing comes close to witnessing the bedlam of a boost run up close. #Suddenly the gnome reappeared in the cavern followed by every other minion in the entire dungeon. #Well, not every minion; he didn’t aggro the bosses and I’m sure he passed over some of the trash, but the train of baddies on his tail was still a bewildering sight to behold. They chased in lockstep, stacked on top of one of one another due to #World of #Warcraft’s lack of collision detection. #One million arms, legs, and heads in fluid motion, like #Ravana from the #Ramayana. The gnome nimbly bounced up a stone ramp, ensnaring the mobs in a confused animation loop, and began to #AoE them all down. The gambit was sealed.

I can’t begin to tell you what happened with my XP bar. #It was unlike anything I’ve ever seen in any RPG, ever. #You’re used to small steps in #World of #Warcraft. #Killing a bandit outside of #Gadgetzan might inch up your progress a few pixels. #Turning in a quest might net you a quarter of a bar. #But in #Maraudon on that fateful night, I gained half a level in a matter of seconds. The game client hitched and sweated as it attempted to comprehend the sheer magnitude of progression I was earning in an instant. #If this was #Vegas, a pit boss would’ve been called over to throw me in a dumpster. #Within the endless, hardscrabble grind of #Classic #WoW, this felt like a wondrous, immaculate exploit.

#And then it was over. The corpses strewn out in front of us, vendor trash shimmering off their death animations. #We zoned out of the instance, I paid the man for his hard work, and then asked for one more run. #Back into the gauntlet we went; and the gnome showed us once again how anyone could hit 60 in an instant as long as they had the coin.

There are videos on #YouTube detailing how any mage in #World of #Warcraft can master the #Maraudon hustle. #Obviously nobody, not even someone at the level cap decked out in high-tier raiding sets, should be able to survive a mugging from the denizens of an entire dungeon. #So this kind of game-breaking business asks for a specialised suite of ingredients. (#If you’re curious, that includes nature damage resistance gear, iron grenades, and a grip of health and mana potions.)

Ill-gotten (?) gains. (Screenshot: Blizzard / Kotaku) #Ill-gotten (?) gains. (#Screenshot: #Blizzard / #Kotaku)

These runners have every nuance down to an art; they’ll jump over a railing to scratch out just enough time to regenerate their mana, or they’ll intentionally use low-powered spells to pull mobs and conserve their resources as much as possible. The whole thing is a hilarious perversion of #World of #Warcraft #Classic’s intended premise. #People came to this game because they missed running dungeons like #Maraudon with the sense of wonder and abandon they had as first-timers. #Instead, we’ve inherited a generation committed to breaking down all of these circa-2004 gauntlets on a molecular level — utilising nuclear-grade cheese tactics — as an easy way to profit off those who don’t want to make the journey to 60 the old-fashioned way.

#And you know what? I’m good with this fate. I know I expressed a melancholy about the state of #WoW #Classic earlier in the year, and I do still kinda wish that admission to its servers were bundled with a free lobotomy, so that we could truly stomp through the #Azerothian wilds as if they were new all over again. #But frankly, I’ve come to appreciate how impossible that dream was. #World of #Warcraft #Classic wasn’t ever going to possess the same culture as retail #WoW, nor was it going to perfectly replicate the intrepid vibes of the game on its release date.

#Instead, #Classic scratched out an arc of its own; this atemporal blend of warm, role-playing nostalgia and hyper-mechanization; a bizarre mish-mash of priorities and objectives; an MMO at the end of time itself. I can spend an evening solo-questing in The #Hinterlands, high on the wash of old joy, before dropping a bundle of coin on the black market to sit through the last of a levelling plateau that I don’t feel like accomplishing myself. #World of #Warcraft #Classic contains multitudes, just like the game always has.

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