WoW Classic Hardcore – Full Survival Guide

Crossroads printscreen

No matter how experienced player of WoW you are, the community WoW Classic Hardcore challenge is really a challenge – probably one of the most difficult ones in the MMORPG world. Facing permadeath is not something that players of MMORPG games are used to so this type of challenge makes you look at the game from a different perspective. Honestly, ever since the Burning Crusade, leveling was just one big grind – most players just looked for the quickest way to hit the max level in order to join in the raids or PvP events.

The hardcore mode puts you back in what essentially the game was about – the journey. And like every other epic journey, yours will be filled with perils and dangers – so we decided to list all the things that can help you hit 60 and not end up in a hardcore death channel log.

Hardcore WoW rules

String of ears, reward for wining a duel to death
Image credit: Blizzard Activision, WoW

As of August 24th, official WoW Classic Hardcore servers have been launched. The long wait is finally over and you can create your characters right now – by selecting the “hardcore” server from the server list. Before we get into general tips and tricks, let’s take a brief look at the rules that WoW Classic Hardcore mode entails. Note that these are the new Official Hardcore rules, not the ones that are used in the addon. 

  • Death is permanent – If you die, your character is gone for good (well you can leave it as a part of your “ghost collection” but you can’t release spirit)
  • Auction house is available and you can trade. Unlike the addon HC, on official servers trading is back, for better or worse. 
  • Shaman Ankh, Warlock Soulstone, Light of the Elune + Hearthstone, and Paladin Bubble + Hearthstone do not work.
  • You can’t be flagged as PvP unless you type /pvp or attack enemy faction NPC. This rule was mostly implored because of the griefers. 
  • All Battlegrounds are disabled, you can only enter premade Wargames. 
  • Dungeons have a 24-hour timer set and once you hit 60, you won’t be able to enter them with lower levels. 
  • Monsters have been leashed – kiting Lord Kazzak to Stormwind is no longer an option! 
  • Duel to Death – Makgora is available – You can challenge a player to the duel and whoever loses – dies permanently. Whoever wins – gets a cool “String of Ears” trophy.

Choosing a class and race


Image credit: Activision Blizzard, WoW

Obviously, the first thing you need to do is to choose the right class and race for your hardcore challenge. The general advice here is to keep in mind that your journey will be long – much longer than you are used to when playing regular retail WoW so choose what you desire to play the most. However, if you are just thinking about completing the challenge and you want the safest option, Warlocks, Mages, and Hunters are good picks. We won’t get details why this is the case but having a pet and being able to mass DPS mobs is a huge advantage.

Keep in mind that most of your XP will come from grinding and regular quests – you are only allowed to do once in 24 hours. So if you are thinking about picking a warrior and tanking your way to level 60 that’s not going to work – choose wisely and think which class suits your style the most. Think about race as well – don’t forget, AH is available but probably the prices won’t be as you were used to back in days when you were playing vanilla – probably your gear will be greenish, and you want to have as many racial benefits as you can. For example, choosing a Tauren because of a War Stomp ability might save you from a tricky situation. Check out our WoW Classic Hardcore tier list if you are still in doubt about what to pick.

Staying away from “Deathtraps” in WoW Classic Hardcore mode

In order to stay away from the deathtraps in WoW first you need to identify them. Obviously, since it’s a “trap” you won’t be able to see it easily. However, based on our experience, this is the list of things to stay away from in order for you not to fall into a deathtrap.

1. Stay away from mines and caves

Stay away from mines and caves. All sorts of mines and caves. Especially mines with Kobolds and caves with spiders. Note that in these areas, mobs usually spawn faster. Sometimes they spawn weirdly close one to another or even one on top of another. If you are deep in a mine, chances are that escape is not an option as probably mobs from the beginning have respawned. Do not run unless you think there is no way to survive the encounter. If you feel that you are in danger and out of combat, use Hearthstone and get to safety. If you pulled too many, do not run, try to fight – running will get you killed in a mine or a cave for sure. Use Fear only as a last resort – chances are the mob affected by it will pull another group of mobs.

2. Watch out for patrols and roaming creeps

Aliance patrol in Barrens
Image credit: Activision Blizzard, WoW

There are numerous Horde and Alliance patrols roaming the territories and you should always be ready to encounter one. This is why you always need to have an escape plan ready – like a swiftness potion bound to an easily accessible hotkey or a similar ability. Besides faction patrols, there are several elite mob patrols that will kill you if you are not ready for them – like Son of Arugal in Silverpine Forest or a Stromgarde Keep cavalry patrol in Arathi Highlands. Note that roads are safe but not 100% safe – tread lightly and always zoom out when traveling. When you are fighting in the open world, try to take the high ground as much as you can and not stay in areas that are patrolled for too long – zoom out and fight while checking the surroundings constantly.

3. Carefully engage Elites and Rares

Spider Besseleth in Vanila WoW
Image credit: Activision Blizzard, WoW

Some of the elites and rares can be deathtraps. If you see that you only need one elite mob to be slain in order to finish the quest, that is probably a red flag. Another red flag is spiders and goblins – the first usually have a nasty web and poison combo followed by summoning additional mobs (like Besseleth in Stonetalone mountains) or a nasty explosion burst (like Engineer Whirleygig with OP “Explosive Sheep” ability – check out the video ). Before you engage any elite or rare unit you encounter, always be sure to always have an escape route. Remember, Classic WoW was not as balanced as later expansions – some creeps are much much stronger than others, elites and rares included.

4. Elevators are deadly

screenshot of the elevator in Undercity
Image credit: Activision Blizzard, WoW

Elevator bosses” – this one is self-explanatory – please, do not rush when you go into Undercity or when you exit Thunderbluff. It’s better to wait for the next elevator ride than to start over just because you were hasty. Be sure to hotkey Levitate, Parachute, or similar ability or a consumable that you have just in case this happens. Also, note that in Undercity an elevator can crush you so don’t jump around too much.

5. Falling damage is a tricky one

Mage using Slow Fall spell in WoW classic screenshot
Image credit: Activision Blizzard, WoW

We have seen many players dying because of the fact that they misjudged how high they actually were. Falling damage is not always so easily predictable and especially if the fall is not straightforward, you can’t be sure if your character will slip and continue falling. The same goes with jumping while climbing stairs, you can always “slip” through the graphics and end up dead from a simple fall. In order to avoid this, always take the longer but safer way – and if there is none, wait for the Hearthstone cooldown and use it. It’s much faster than leveling up your character again.

Think about your professions carefully

Before you choose a profession think about this for a second – you are surrounded by several mobs and you can’t fight them off. What will help you – more stats on your chest, an enchanted +5 stamina on your head, an Elixir or Wisdom for extra intelligence, or a Target Dummy? Your solo goal in this game mode is survival – leveling will be slow anyway but the slowest possible way to get to complete the challenge is to keep dying and keep starting over – choose the profession that offers the best chances of you surviving the tricky situations. 

Some viable options are Alchemy + Herbalism and Engineering + Mining. Optionally, you can also take Skinning + Tailoring. The problem with Alchemy is the fact that the Swiftness Potion recipe is a drop item – meaning that the most useful escape won’t be available to you unless you get lucky and get it (or probably spend a lot of money on AH for it). On another hand, Target Dummy is something that engineers early on can make – and something that is incredibly useful when things go south. Our advice is to pick engineering and mining – that is the safest way.

Find useful consumables and potions

To state the obvious, you need to have health/mana potions ready – there are vendors that sell them everywhere, so just check out the ones in major cities. Besides “regular” potions that you will have, there will be quests that will give you useful items that can save you from tricky situations. Be sure to do all these quests, especially the low-level ones, because these consumables might make a difference in a life-or-death situation. Depending on which faction you are playing, here is the list of the most useful consumables that you can easily acquire:

Using Add-ons in WoW Classic Hardcore mode

When it comes to add-ons, based on what we saw in WoW classic: Hardcore Death video section, the general advice is that you should not use too many add-ons. We saw Hunters forgetting to use Feign Death because the player’s screen was filled with unnecessary information. We saw warriors forgetting to use a simple Hamstring + Run combo for the same reason. Use only what you need – you won’t be raiding, you won’t be doing high-end dungeons, you don’t need to know all the stats all the time – most of the time it’s just going to be you, perhaps your pet, and the mob that you are fighting with. You need to have a clear vision of your health and the mob’s health as well as the surroundings – you don’t want to miss out on seeing a patrol coming because your screen was covered with buff stats.

Spiders in a cave in WoW classic printscreen
Image credit: Activision Blizzard, WoW

Our advice is to use only Questie for easier questing, VoiceOver for a more immersive Warcraft experience, and RareScanner in order to find some rare units. Again, when it comes to survival in a fight, one of the most crucial things is to always be aware of the surroundings – a patrol might come by, a mob might start to run toward another group of mobs, you might pull another group by moving backward – and because of all these things, do not use too many addons as they will block your vision of the screen.

Final thoughts on WoW Classic Hardcore mode

As we mentioned previously, WoW HC mode is all about the journey – once you hit max level, you basically finish the game. Of course, you can proceed with additional challenges such as HC raiding but for most players, the true difficulty is leveling – we hope that our guide gave you some useful info on this matter. On a side note, maybe the most important tip is that you should try and enjoy the game as much as you can – World of Azeroth is filled with wonders so be sure to explore as many as you can even if it means making more than one character in the process.


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