What's the best way to avoid lengthy WoW Classic queue times? With a wave of nostalgia lifting vanilla servers to record levels even before launch, the only legendary items most players will see on day one are the queues.
It’s not possible to avoid all waits in Warcraft, but there are ways to reduce the amount of down time you’ll experience, particularly if you’re flexible about which server you choose for your characters. Keep in mind that your choices will affect not only your queue experience and login times, but also how healthy your server is months down the line.
So, if you want to minimise the time until you can relive the 2004 glory days, consider these tips for picking out the right realm for you.
Avoid any server that Blizzard has specifically warned against
Blizzard has encouraged players to skip servers that are already overpopulated, based on early character creation. They’re not joking. 'Low' now is more congested than 'Full' in 2006, according to official Blizzard posts. Some of those realms are not only expected to have queues, but to exceed previously set queue caps of around 30,000 players.
Currently, Blizzard is warning players against any server reading 'Full,' but has issued dire warnings specifically about Herod, Faerlina, and Whitemane in NA and Shazzrah and Golemagg in EU regions.
Consider PvE servers if you don't care about world PvP
In general, PvP servers have been leading the WoW Classic queue times, though plenty of PvE servers are also 'Full'. That's partly because, unlike live World of Warcraft, players can’t opt into or out of world PvP.
To battle other players in the open world, you must either choose a PvP server (which has combat enabled in every area not labeled as a sanctuary), hang out in areas where PvP or player-versus-anyone combat is enabled (few and far between) or initiate endless duels.
Players on PvE realms still have access to some organised PvP combat—including battlegrounds starting in Phase Three of Classic content releases—but none at launch. If this doesn’t matter to you, PvE servers will almost always be a better choice.
Streamers are likely to increase the population of any realm they’re on, particularly when they’re broadcasting. They’re also likely to have an impressive impact on the activities happening on those realms, and how easy other players find it to tackle content.
If you want to play with a particular streamer long-term, you’re more likely to do so on a Classic realm (where gameplay is limited to players on that server) than one in live WoW, so the trade-off might be worth it to you. If not, you’ll want to avoid realms with high-profile streamers on them. Fortunately, there’s a site to help you with that.
Consider 'Day 1' servers
Blizzard recently announced the creation of a number of new servers in NA and EU regions that won’t open until launch day. If you’re not planning on playing Classic with an existing guild with existing plans, this may be a good option.
Also, consider how long you plan to play: these servers are less likely to be inhabited by hardcore players who reserved their names early and flooded established realms.
From Monday at 10 a.m. Pacific Time (18:00 BST), or about five hours before launch, you have the ability to create characters on Incendius and Bigglesworth (for PvP) or Old Blanchy and Westfall (for PvE) in the NA region. In the EU, new servers include Flamelash, Gandling, Mograine, Nethergarde Keep, and Razorgore. (All are PvP except Nethergarde; all are English servers.) There’s a possibility that more are added later on.
Your best NA server options
If you're all about getting online fast, 'Medium' servers are your best bet, and they tend to be the newer servers of the bunch. There are no 'Low' servers in either NA or EU regions.
For North American players at time of writing, Medium servers include Blaumeux (PvP), Grobbulus (RP-PvP) and Skeram (PvP). Skeram is home to at least one streamer. High population servers might offer a queue, but you’re still likely to get on and play. Those include Bloodsail Buccaneers (RP) and Myzrael (Normal) servers.
Among 'Full' servers, if you must choose, consider Atiesh (Normal), Fairbanks (PvP), Mankrik (Normal), Stalagg (PvP) or Thalnos (PvP), as these haven’t received specific warnings yet and don’t have announced, high-profile streamers playing there.
Your EU server choices
EU servers offer more 'Medium' options, but you’re also more limited in your choices due to primary languages. 'Medium' options at time of writing include Auberdine (Normal, French), Chromie (Normal, Russian), Hydraxian Waterlords (RP, English), Razorfen (Normal, German), Venoxis (PvP, German) and Zandalar Tribe (RP-PvP, English.) Note that Zandalar Tribe is the home of streamer Nixxiom.
High servers, which are probably still usable, are Firemaw (PvP, English), Flamegor (PvP, Russian) and Mirage Raceway (Normal, English.)
Full servers should be avoided. If you must, consider Everlook (Normal, German), Gehennas (PvP, English), Lucifron (PvP, German), Pyrewood Village (Normal, English) and Sulfuron (PvP, French), which have not received specific warnings.
Think carefully about your race when you reserve your character
One last note if you’re hoping to avoid crowds: even after you get online, you’re still wading through hordes of players on the realm you’ve chosen. After you choose a server, you’ll be creating characters there and reserving your names, so now is the time to think about your race.
While Blizzard is using layering technology to create multiple copies of Azeroth on each realm to handle launch day crowds, there will still be thousands of players with you as you start your adventure, Hazzikostas said. The highest concentrations of those players will be in the starting areas for the most populous races, particularly when those areas overlap. If you don’t care which race you play, it might be worth picking a less popular option.
For Alliance, this probably means avoiding humans—Northshire Abbey is going to be a veritable zoo. Dwarves and Gnomes have combined hunting areas outside Ironforge, doubling their impact. But, historically, Night Elves have been second favourites.
For Horde, skipping Orcs and Trolls - which are not only popular but also share the Valley of Trials starting area - is wise. Tauren and Undead are roughly equal in historic popularity, but Tauren share Orc and Troll areas for later leveling, making Undead a better choice.