The lead up to World of Warcraft’s Wrath of the Lich King Classic launch is well underway, with pre-patch servers up and running for close to a week now. This, in theory, lets players jump in and gear up a new character in preparation for our adventure to the frozen north, but humongous queue times across several servers have made this difficult for some players to get their adventure started in earnest.
This issue is affecting two types of servers present in Classic WoW. The first are the long-standing servers that have maintained a large population since Classic first launched back in 2019, like Grobbulus in the EU region. However, newly-created Fresh servers are also suffering. These new servers allow everyone to start playing totally empty-handed with others, without inflated economies or pre-existing fortunes muddying things.
Frustration and a healthy amount of joking around the topic can be found in heaps. Looking at the Classic WoW Reddit, numerous posts from players expressing their doomer outlook on the situation are present, listing out exorbitant queue times for their chosen servers, as well as some taking the plunge into less popular servers in order to kick their levelling journey into gear.
But why doesn’t everyone do that? If Blizzard are offering free transfers to less-popular servers, why brave the queue? There are several reasons of course, including the presence of popular influencers on certain servers and the desire to make a home in a bustling community without the worry that it’ll die off down the line, but the main reason ties to an ongoing issue that has been with Classic for some time. Faction Imbalance.
Looking at Ironforge Pro, a website that tracks the Horde / Alliance faction split on separate servers, you’ll see a huge number of once wonderful servers with overwhelming faction imbalance, such as Gehenas and Benediction for EU players.
As a game that emphasises group content, you need players in your faction to complete raids, do world PvP, etc. WIthout that, the game is substantially less fun, causing vast amounts of character migration to greener pastures. The reason why servers like Grobbulus and fresh servers have this gigantic queue is because they remain relatively balanced faction-wise.
So how are players getting around these queues? I jumped into WoW Classic (in the morning during work, a luxury many don’t have) to find out how people are getting in. As you may of guessed, it’s all about logging in early and staying in long before people get off school and work.
“Currently unemployed, so I just join early morning and never leave the game,” says level 70 Death Knight Klizmarqt, who has managed to hit max level by jumping into game at times most others can’t manage. They recommend, if you can, booting up the game and moving your character around every now and again to avoid getting booted from the game for inactivity.
This is especially true on weekends, as Klizmarqt went on to explain: “Yesterday and the day before there was a 14k queue from like 11am… so you get yourself up at 12pm, then you get into the game at 8-9pm…”
Another player, Crupisha, works from home. They make sure to boot up the game a few hours before peak times while at work, log in without queues, then stay online until their shift ends. As for how players away from the house can do the same, they’ve heard of some players logging into their PCs via their phone using remote access to beat the waves of incoming workers.
While writing this piece, at 11AM on a Monday a queue appeared on the Thekal Fresh server all the aforementioned players, and myself, were playing on. Only at around 500 players right now, it goes to show that even those able to log in early are facing barriers to entry, these barriers likely a byproduct of this rush to get in as soon as possible.
As it stands right now, the battle against the queue is a fight every player, regardless of level, has to take on. Whether Activision Blizzard has a solution on the way to solve this, or if this will continue throughout Lich King’s launch, remains to be seen. If you’re reading this right now, you should probably log in…