Casually Classic: Ranking WoW Classic’s capital cities (through Burning Crusade)

    
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Even more so than they are in retail World of Warcraft, WoW Classic’s capital cities are the central bustling hub of commerce and staging for grand adventures. Chances are that your hearthstone is set to one of these, as they offer ideal places to resupply, train, bank, and encounter likeminded players.

For today’s “why not?” column, I wanted to rank all eight of Classic’s capital cities, including the two new ones coming in Burning Crusade Classic. Which are the best, which are the worst, and which are floating somewhere in between?

Worst: Darnassus

For the record, I want to say that this entry isn’t because of my well-known dislike of Elves, nor is it because of the city’s visuals. I actually kind of dig the nature aesthetic of Darnassus. My problem is that it’s a cul-de-sac of a city that you generally visit only if you’re a Night Elf, and only then at the earliest point in your career. It’s a city where you have to use a teleport to get to your flight master, where there’s just a little too much running around, and where some basic trainers are missing entirely. Visuals are a good B+, but convenience is a D.

Exodar

And as much as I really do love the Draenei as a race, their smashed-up spaceship makes for a terrible capital. It’s another question of location and travel, as the Exodar is too out-of-the-way to make it a regular stop. Points for a good clustered design that reduces running around, but once you leave this island, you tend not to come back to it.

Silvermoon City

Pretty much everything I said about Darnassus also applies to its sister-Elf city: It’s extremely pretty, but it’s messy, sprawling, and not very useful as a starting point for a daily adventures considering its extreme northern location on Azeroth. I found it to be a bit of a ghost town every time I visited it back in the day.

Orgrimmar

As the de facto main capital of the Horde, Orgrimmar enjoys privileged status and is where a bulk of that faction’s players tend to congregate. But does that make it a good city? Ehh. It’s nicely located in the middle of Kalimdor and has a full array of services, but for my money, its too spread out and inefficient for when you want to get stuff done quickly. The flight master is also annoying to access, as you constantly have to run up or down a tower. It’s fine, but it’s not as good as its population suggests.

Stormwind

Stormwind is the Orgrimmar of the Alliance, albeit a little more organized. More grid-like, at least. The canals and bridges add to travel time, but the city gets points for having all of the essentials — auction house, inn, bank, flight master, repair vendor — all in the same small section. I do think it suffers from looking rather “fantasy generic” compared to some of the more fantastic and visually evocative designs of other cities.

Ironforge

Ironforge is a serious rival to Stormwind in a way that I don’t see between any two of the Horde’s cities. A lot of players, myself included, prefer this as their Alliance base of operations, appreciating the hub-and-spoke design and more unique theming. It’s also very close to Menethil Harbor, which is helpful when you want to hop over to the other continent.

Undercity

For the theme alone, I adore the Halloween vibe of the Undercity. It’s absolutely incredible and one of the reasons I love playing a Forsaken. The skulls, the underground catacombs, the mad scientist laboratory, the green river… all of it. It’s Nightmare Before Christmas: The City, and it also sports a workable hub-and-spoke design. And while the bridges are a little annoying, another point in its favor is having the zeppelins right outside of the city, which is a huge transportation boon.

Thunder Bluff

By far, the best capital city in WoW Classic is probably the one a lot of players wouldn’t suspect: Thunder Bluff. People, this city is amazing. Not only does it have a faux Native American style, summer camp vibes, and a gorgeous skyline, but Thunder Bluff is the most compact and travel-friendly city out there. In the main area, you’re just steps away from the inn, the bank, a forge, the auction house, the flight master, and even a pond to go fishing. You’ll never be running very far in Thunder Bluff to get to whatever you need to do, and all of that combined for me makes this a winner.

Stepping back into the MMO time machine of WoW Classic, Justin Olivetti offers up observations and ground-level analysis as a Gnome with a view. Casually Classic is a more laid-back look at this legacy ruleset for those of us who’ve never stepped into a raid or seen more than 200 gold to our names.
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Lucky Jinx

I mostly agree with this ranking, surprisingly. Only change I would make is to drop Undercity to the very bottom. It’s amazing how confusing you can make such a small place. I’d actually go as far as to bring Darnassus up to where Undercity is just because it’s beautiful.

What happened to the rest of the capital locations? Dalaran, Ashran, Boralus / Dazar’alor? If we add those to the mix, in my opinion, the list would go like this (from worst to best): Undercity -> Exodar -> Oribos -> Silvermoon -> Stormwind -> Thunder Bluff -> Darnassus -> Orgrimmar -> Ironforge -> Ashran (Warspear / Stormshield) -> Shrine of Seven Stars / Shrine of Two Moons -> Dazar’alor -> Boralus -> Dalaran

Dalaran wins in my book because of its simplicity. Everything is neatly close, and the aesthetics are not horrible. It has a good balance.

Edit: I play Horde, but I do think that generally Alliance has better feel to their towns.

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Bannex

Man I’d have to say Exodar is the absolute worst despite the awesome premise that it’s a crashed space ship. It’s such a forgettable place, clunky organization and useless after you leave the starter zones.

Orgrimmar is also a scattered mess that isn’t terribly interesting imo (I was a horde main)

Lastly, IF is and always will be the best.

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IronSalamander8 .

I hated Stormwind with a passion. Such a mess before you can fly that I made Ironforge my home city when I played an alliance alt (rare admittedly), as it looks pretty cool and easy to find stuff. Darnassus is a dump and only beats our Stormwind for me as at least you can get places, even if it looks like mostly ruins.

My favorite is actually the Undercity as it’s got that dark, gloomy atmosphere I love and being a big circle means it’s easy to find what you need. Orgrimmar is ok but never really felt as grand as the main horde city it should be. Thunder Bluff is indeed a great place and I love the Tauren aesthetic.

Silvermoon City is quite nice and I love that it launched with so many mailboxes! Exodar looks cool but not a huge fan of the layout.

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Loopy

The article should’ve been called “which city is the most convenient” because i feel that convenience and effectiveness of going about one’s business was the main criteria for the rankings.

If the game had an inn in the middle of the map that had all trainers, vendors, AH and flight point in one room with portals to all other cities in the other, would that be the winner?

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aYates

Ironforge for me, although my original main was a NElf.
I tried to avoid Darnassus after I leveled up.
Not much experience in Horde cities, but Undercity looks really cool!

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Vinnie travi

I am glad you said TB. I thought I was alone..

jimthomasUS
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jimthomasUS

Thunder Bluff is the greatest city in any form.

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Bruno Brito

I love Thunder Bluff, but for Vanilla, the best capital is Ironforge hands down because of it’s proximity to all the main endgame places: Near the Plaguelands, near Blackrock Mountain, near the Harbor to Theramore/Onyxia’s Lair.

IF had the best utility as a capital, hence why it was the most populated. TB is absolutely gorgeous but the heights aren’t friendly to afk runners. I’m not really fond of dying on a safe city.

Darnassus really is convenience’s nightmare.

Here’s my rank:

1- Ironforge ( as of Classic. ), Thunder Bluff ( BC forward )

2- Thunder Bluff ( Classic ), Ironforge ( BC forward )

3- Silvermoon, on looks alone. It’s enough for me to forget convenience.

4- Undercity. Convenience galore, everything is near, altho the walking is always droll.

5- Stormwind. Great for RP walks and ambience, and that’s it. Has a great AH-Bank ratio too.

6- Dalaran. Great insides, terrible outside, mages are not good architects and this city was infamous for lagging terribly. No ammount of convenience will make this city good.

7- Orgrimmar. Screw this city. It was bad before the rework, it’s bad after it.

8- Darnassus. Whoever thought of this should never do level design again.

9- Exodar. Pretty, not as pretty as Silvermoon, terrible location, it’s even worse than Darnassus because the FP is OUTSIDE the city, and unlike Silvermoon, the Undercity levels of ramps and stairs are so damn irritating that you can’t even admire the city enough to forget the inconveniences.

10- Shattrath. This city reeks. It looks like dogshit, it probably smells like dogshit, it’s home to one of the most infamous quests in the entire game ( City of Light, “this won’t take long” my snow-white ass ), and considering that this city is projected to work with flying, and flying is really expensive in TBC, enjoy walking through this devastated disgrace of a design.

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Bryan Correll

heights aren’t friendly to afk runners

That sounds like a plus to me. :-)

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Bruno Brito

If i’m changing my music and i numlock my character, i do not want to find him faceplanting 20 meters below.

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Bryan Correll

But it’s fun for the bystanders!

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Bruno Brito

You’re assuming they’re not afk too :D

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Bryan Correll

I read the title and started mentally preparing my arguments that Thunder Bluff was the best, only to find out I didn’t need to. Bravo, good Sir! Its only downside is its location, but even there it’s not as bad as the other out-of-the-way cities.

I even mostly agree with the rest of the rankings, the exception being I would have put Ironforge over Undercity. And I might have called Exodar the worst, despite its lack of elf infestation.

Jaymes Buckman
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Jaymes Buckman

Wowww. Your tastes are almost my inverse. Respect though! XD