Survival Tips for Classic Hardcore WoW

I’ve been keeping busy the last year playing Classic Hardcore World of Warcraft. So far I’ve had one victory (a level 70 mage), and many deaths.

Here are some basic tips for staying alive.

  • The three things that will kill you: heights, caves, unknown content. Cultivate a healthy sense of acrophobia, claustrophobia, and neophobia.
  • Remember your ABCs — Always Be Clearing. Kill everything in your way, with an eye on always having an escape path.
  • Keep your head on a swivel. This is incredibly important in Hellfire Peninsula and other zones where boss elites roam freely. Get in the habit of looking behind yourself constantly, and maximize your camera zoom.
  • This is especially important in Hellfire Peninsula, Silverpine Forest, and other zones with high level roaming elites.
  • Visibility in general is critical. Be careful going up hills, around corners, or through clumps of heavy vegetation. Some creatures blend in surprisingly well with the terrain. Listen carefully for the sounds of creatures aggroing.
  • Actually practice your escapes. Every class has an array of tricks for getting away. Fear, Hamstring, Wing Clip, Totems, sacrificing a pet, Vanish, Engineering toys, etc. Make sure you have all these abilities hotkeyed, and practice using them in safe situations.
  • Run early, or don’t. You can almost always escape, if you run early enough. And you can almost always stand and win a tough fight, if you’re prepared and stay cool. Indecision will kill you.
  • Caves, fortresses, and other enclosed areas are dangerous due to limited visibility, limited escape paths, and respawns. In caves, lean towards standing and fighting.
  • Likewise, know which enemies that slow or immobilize you, and lean towards standing and fighting.
  • Most popular PvE leveling specs are for multilifers and are not optimal for survival. Look at the talent trees and cherrypick talents that affect your durability and your ability to escape, even if that makes leveling a bit slower.
  • Beware other characters leveling in your area — they will cause surprise respawns, which will get you killed. If you’re in an area that should be dense with mobs but is currently empty — that’s a very bad sign. Go somewhere else.
  • Be cautious around that you haven’t done as a non-hardcore character. If a quest has a very compelling reward, research it carefully ahead of time. Will it spawn a bunch of enemies? Will it flag you?
  • Be very very careful about content that you haven’t already gone through as a non-hardcore character. The Hardcore WoW challenge isn’t a test of your reflexes; it’s a test of your very particular knowledge of this very particular game.