What kind of WoWer are you now?

World of Warcraft has evolved a lot in the 6 year life of the game. I started playing with Burning Crusade, I wasn’t a vanilla wow baby but even in my 4+ years of play, I’ve gone through lots of phases of the game. Heck, in Cataclysm I seem to be going through the most swings of styles of play.

Lately it got me thinking about the way that people play the game and how it has evolved over the years.

The lifespan of a game as big as World of Warcraft, and with such a huge playerbase is fascinating to me. It’s evolved like it’s players has evolved, and continues to change.  People come and go, and they shape the game more than Blizzard does. Wow isn’t just a “mmo” it’s a social game too.


I never played in vanilla wow. But I can imagine that the game was new to everyone. WtfISdisMMO? Wow defined the mmo genre and it all started 6 years ago.

Raids were huge, 40 man, and beyond epic.  I wonder how many were afk and on follow of that 40 man team? Did guilds ever have 40 of their own raiders? Raiding was new, playing with thousands of players was new. Guilds were new. It was all new. How did you heal back then?

Getting an epic purple was a truly EPIC experience, wasn’t it?

I think Blizzard learned a lot from that and at the time of the first expansion, they started to shape the game with structure.

Burning Crusade

I recently asked Twitter what favorite tier you guys had in raiding, the vast majority said this that TBC was and I suspect I know why.

I started playing at the start of TBC. Back then, I was a super casual player, I came from Guild Wars where I was also a casual player.

Epic 40 man raids from vanilla transitioned to manageable 25 man/women teams that guilds could actually fill, and Blizzard also introduced 10 man team options. Raiding flourished like crazy!

If I remember back I saw the game as really only a few different ways: You were either a hardcore raider or a casual player (or pvp’er) who didn’t really raid. We didn’t have arena yet then I think, and battlegrounds lasted for-freaking-ever. I hated pvp and wouldn’t touch it. Know what? I was a keyboard turner then…. true story. Don’t tell anyone this is likely why I sucked at pvp then.

My extent of raiding was fun Friday nights in Kara with my friends guild’s “fun non-progression raid drinking night” .  They were SSC raiders, overgeared, and normally drunk. We had a blast in Kara and I learned how to heal drunk tanks there and keep them alive through their stupid ;-)

To raid in this first expansion, you had a ton of atunment to go through. The raiding progression was an epic journey that you had to be WORTHY of to continue through. And I remember envying the raiders, it was serious business and the horror stories of Lady Vashj who I never saw. I played the game for social reasons mainly, and had a ton to learn. But the feeling of ‘being a raider’ is what hooked me.

Wrath of the Lich King

Wrath introduced a ton of new features that catered to opening up the game to more of the general public. Storylines were great.and questing was very much improved.  For casual players:

  • Dungeon Finder was introduced, it was a blessing and a curse at the same time. Yes, it became easier to get groups, but groups also quickly filled with asshats.
  • Achievements were introduced, that was a game changer and created a new way to play for some people.
  • Dual spec… also known as OMFG I CAN HAZ A DPS SPEC TOO?
  • Yes you can haz new “hero” class that was super OP at the start and continuously nerfed ;-)

Epics were a dime a dozen, and no longer seen as epic. Legiondaries were the new purple.

I feel that this was the worse expansion to be a healer. Healing transitioned to be a joke of spamming single buttons. oh hai bubblebot.  oh hai holy light. Mana was infinite.

In terms of raiding, 10 man raiding became even more popular due to 2 versions of major raiding content, while 25 man teams stayed huge.  Many teams did both, they didn’t share a raid lockout.  Personally, I did both throughout the entire expansion with my main and even though healing was simplified, I loved it.  I matured as a raider in this expansion. I learned to tank heal with my disc priest and my holidan. I became a real raider.

Raiders who wanted to something harder no longer had to clear a raid tier and then continue to the next tier in their progression line, nope. Instead, they flipped a button to make the same bosses they have  been doing for 3 months a tad bit harder. Hit harder. Throw a new puddle on the ground. Or smell different… well but my point is that they were the same damn bosses. In the Ulduar raid it was nice because you had to do something to trigger hardmodes, you didn’t have a button. That hardmode was also an achievement. I was one of my favorite ways of raiding.

Again we had several types of players…but they classified into clear buckets.

Raiders  – 10 and/or 25 teams. Hardcore teams had the option of toggling “hardmode encounters” for more shiny epics.

Casuals  – altaholics blossomed, “achievement whores” were born, everyone leveled a death knight

Pvp’ers – crept into their own classification due to arena, pvp guilds formed

In Wrath Blizzard also started to simplify the game, some stats were removed entirely.  Who remembers + healing as a stat? *smirk* They added additional things for people to level additional characters, heirlooms. Made it so that you only had to go through Northrend ONCE by ground.

Yet people got bored..


We were promised a nearly new game! Full of excitement and content galloor! So they tore up the entire game and rebuilt the old world. Everything once “vanilla’ was pretty much gone. Old zones were all revamped, quests were redesigned and easier (and more fun too!),2 new races were added (horde got a gnomelikething and alliance got a scary beast with four legs rawr), the game itself was arguably “dumbed down” a bit with the removal of a lot of different stats like armor penetration, block, spell power and mp5.

Raiding changed entirely in Cataclysm.

Guilds had to choose between 25 and 10 man, they shared a lockout now. Most guilds went for 10 man. Several 25 man guilds still exist on each server, but they are the vast minority now. Casual guilds cropped up all over the place and they raided the same content using their shiny epics they simply bought from points or the previous tier that was in Blizz’s words “nerfed so it could be pugged”.

Atunment for raiding, even dungeon keys, all disappeared.  It became EVEN EASIER (as if it could) to toggle hardmode bosses.  Now there’s a switch in the UI!

None of this is good for the serious raider. Many raiders left or found other things to do or played alts. More casuals. More altaholics. More pvpers.

We even got in-game dungeon and raid journal with nearly the entire contents of each boss fight and loot. The only thing missing is “go stand on the x we draw for you”. I know I  know, don’t flame me.. It’s actually been helpful sometimes but I’ve never yet opened it.

New players LOVE the game.  Old players/raiders mostly don’t. It’s a shift in thinking. Some of the social elements also disappeared with the advent of douche-bags in the dungeon (and soon to be raid oh god) finder.

The player buckets expanded:

25 man team raider  – 25 / team. Hardcore teams cleared all content on the PTR then toggled “hardmode encounters” for more shiny the same day as launch.

10 man team raider  – 10 /team. Hardcore teams had the option of toggling “hardmode encounters” for more shiny epics. They call themselves progression, but some can clear the content in 2 days per week. 

Altaholic Casuals  – altaholics blossomed even more!  Some people who have 10 lvl 85 mains on a server. 

Achievement / Collector Casuals – those who collect pets, mounts, or achievements. Some people raid only for the achievements. 

General Casual – this is the person who plays a few hours a week.. the one wearing cloth as a resto druid.  Never raided. Some not even guilded. Really treats the game as a “game” and not a lifestyle. 

Hardcore Pvp’ers – crept into their own classification due to arena, pvp guilds formed. They scoffed at pve content.

Most players fit into the one of above classifications, yes some parts of others can be included but they tend to focus on one single minded aspect of the game. I know plently of each of them.  The hardcore pvper who looks at my gear like “wheredyagetthat? that in some pve place?” the hardcore raider who scoffs at having a pvp second spec. Altaholics can also have a raiding main, but they are also easy to change their main like they change their underwear.

Everyone plays the game differently and it’s always shifting. It’s unique with a game so big as World of Warcraft but I am enjoying it less and less these days. I’m not a new player, I am an “old” player and I don’t like some of the changes but continue to play the game. I’ve done it all, I’ve been “addicted” to each of the player-styles. Right now, I really only want to raid. Progression. Raiding.  In this expax I’ve realy tried to do a few things perfect, fit into a few buckets full time. But I always fail. I ALWAYS come back to wanting to be a hardcore raider. If I could raid 5x week I would. If I had to go through atunment, I’d be happy!

What kind of player are you? DO you fit into a particular style or spread yourself into multiple buckets? Are you enjoying the game?

  • Xarlanther

    I miss the old days!
    Wiping months on Lady Vash and Kael Thas was terrible back then but still feel as so much bigger accomplishments then LK or Raggy.

    Karazhan still my personal favourite, so yeah agree with the TBC best expansion! :)

  • Chloe

    I think i’m the old fogie here :-) I’m 26, I played since I was 19 in college. I went from a casual, entranced little noob to a progession raider in BC and WotLK and now I think I am content to sit back, relax, and not raid. New focus is career and boyfriend…and hopefully eventually marrying said boyfriend. I can’t do it all as much as I’d like to. I think I will probably transition into RP somehow, and just do old worl dungeons/raid content after it’s been nerfed. So, add another category of player emerging jn Cataclysm-The ones who have played for 5, 6, or 7 years and are slowly transitioning from raider out to casual, rather than the other way around. However, great job on recording the changes with each expansion–great read!

  • http://www.cannotbetamed.com Jasyla

    I’ve always been a raider.

    TBC was my favorite raiding as well, but I’m not as hard on Cata raiding as a lot of people are. UI toggled hard-modes don’t bother me too much. The raid journal really does nothing that wowhead doesn’t. If you’re a raider, you come to fight prepared – it doesn’t matter whether you read a strat online or read boss abilities in game. There was also a sizable increase in difficulty between Wrath and Cata which was much appreciated.

    I raid 25s on my druid in one guild and 10s on my priest in another. I’ve never been on the PTR to test bosses though.

  • Kro

    Firstly gotta say i love ur site. Helped me a lot with firelands since i just started again after taking a break from raiding.
    Having said that, i started as a pvper back in vanilla, heck i didnt even know what MC was back then. All i remember was the endless AVs , hours and hours spent, i just couldnt have enough.
    I started taking raiding a bit more seriously in Woltk and become a raider at heart over those days.
    Now in Cataclysm , after 5-6 years of playing , i just cant seem to find the will to raid in 25man , so basically what me and some baddies of mine did, was to transfer to a new server . start a guild, and get a go into 10 man raids casually (like 2 days a week 2 hours each). Having a blast with them , and i must admit the game seems more fun now rather back in my 25 man guild.

    Needless to say my first char ever was a paladin , a Dwarf male paladin! Time passed , dps, tank, healer, rotation in specs and talents was always there. By i value Healing more than the other 2. Been a holy paladin for like 4 years now and still goin. I do have other char ofc (lots of them tbh) but thats another story.

    Anyway gz again on this great site, and definitely will check it out over time.

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