Saturday, January 23, 2016

Bored? Check out the WoW Iron Man Challenge(s)!

"What doesn't kill you makes you stronger."
Are you a veteran WoW player who is tired of garrison chores? Raiding got ya down? Leveling alts just not holding your interest right now? Well, I've got just the thing for you - the WoW Iron Man Challenge!

Let's face it, these past several years we've gotten used to running from one quest objective to the next as quickly as possible. Pulling as many mobs as we can at a time, mowing everything down in our paths with no real sense of danger. Between the addition of heirlooms, talent changes and the world around us things have gotten so easy that leveling has become (at least to me) a bit of a bore.

Well this challenge will turn that experience right back around. It is quite difficult, and adds a real sense of danger back into the world of leveling. Clearing paths to a named mob, carefully planning out routes of escape, feeling your heart beat rise as you make your way through a cave (hoping nothing respawns in your face), wiping the sweat off your brow as you make it through another fight with only 27hp left - these are all things commonly experienced by iron man challengers. As difficult as this challenge is, I have always found it fun and very rewarding, both from a gameplay perspective, and for the community formed around it. It'll also really make you appreciate the small things in game. ;)

That being said, the WoW Iron Man challenge is still around and thriving. Since I last posted regarding the adventures of the Iron Steves, there have even been two new challenges created in addition to the original. :D

What is the Iron Man Challenge?

For anyone unfamiliar with the WoW Iron Man challenge, it is a player-created challenge with the ultimate goal of trying to make it to max level in only grey/white gear, with no spec and without dying. (See link for full set of rules.)

The two new challenges, which have evolved from the original, are the Pacifist and Blood Thirsty challenges.

  • The Pacifist challenge, which I refer to as the "hardcore pacifist", has all of the same requirements as the original iron man (no gear above white quality, no spec, no dying) with one major difference - NO KILLS. Not even one. Professions are allowed however, making it possible to level via flower picking, mining, exploring and doing whatever non-kill quests you can find.
  • The Bloodthirsty challenge also has the same requirements as the original challenge, but is essentially the exact opposite of pacifist. Level to max via killing mobs for experience with as little questing as possible. (Basically the few quests to unlock certain zones/content are allowed.)
Where can I find more info?

All three challenges are being tracked at the new WoW Challenges site, and links to the full list of rules for each challenge can be found by following the above links.

Although the iron man challenge is a personal one, there is a vibrant community which has formed around it. On the WoW Challenges site you'll find a forum with helpful tips & tricks for leveling an iron man and people's awesome stories of triumph and defeat.

Are there any WoW Iron Man Guilds?

There are several dedicated iron man guilds for both factions on multiple servers. For those playing on US servers, there is an exceptionally friendly and active guild on Wyrmrest Accord called Wowironman. Simply do a who /wowironman and whisper any member for an invite. For those playing Horde, there is a (less active) guild on Wyrmrest Accord called Horde Ironman. There are other active iron man guilds on various servers, most of which can be found on the WoW Challenges Forums.

For a while, guilds were not permitted because of their xp bonus perk, and the few that did exist had to be disbanded and re-formed after leveling past 1. Now guilds are permitted once again, as there is no more +xp perk. A word of advise - leveling an ironman character in a guild with others trying to do the same thing is a lot more fun than doing it by yourself.

I've never done this before - what class should I try?

Not all classes were created equal in regards to the iron man challenge. Personally, I believe hunter and monk to probably be the easiest (currently) for an ironman to level. Granted everyone has their own opinion, but the pet to take hits + feign death definitely make hunter nice for first timers. A lot of iron man newbies and seasoned alike also roll night elf for their shadowmeld ability (hence so many Alliance participating), leaving two options to get out of combat if things go bad. Monk (at least at lower levels) are also pretty strong due to their Touch of Death and Paralysis abilities.

If your looking for a real challenge within even the iron man challenge itself, roll a warrior. They are hands down the toughest irons to play at the moment. Without talents they have almost no abilities, and it only seems to get tougher the higher you level. A close second to warrior (in my opinion) is shaman. I have also heard that pally is pretty tough, but I have yet to roll one, so I can not attest to that.

Helpful hints

Always be on the lookout for treasure chests when leveling an iron toon. Most treasure chests give a hefty amount of xp. For the easier iron classes, seeking out rares can get you a lot of additional xp as well. I pretty much covered every low level rare on this blog a few years ago - except I think Dustwallow Marsh (hey, I didn't have time to finish with the new baby and all). I even have videos of my ironman toons killing them, so for anyone participating, those might come in handy. Tougher classes such as warriors should avoid most rares (maybe not the super low level rares, but as you level they'll become more difficult to nearly impossible).

The state of my irons ~

As for my own ironman toons. All the Ironsteves are still "alive". Ironstevo (my main iron warlock) is currently level 91 and slowly and VERY carefully making his way to 100. He's pretty much the only horde character I'm focusing on, as leveling horde side tends to be a bit lonely. He's creeping his way around Pandaria at the moment picking and choosing quests that look safe and exploring. As he has no "get out of combat" abilities, I don't use the word "careful" lightly. If I am even remotely uncertain about a quest, I walk away.

"Look! I dinged 91 in a giant bleeding heart plant!"
On Alliance side I'm focusing mainly on my warrior and shaman. I've also started an iron monk (which didn't exist when I initially started the challenge), and WOW is he fun! All of these characters are in the level 30 - 40ish range.

Naturally, I couldn't help but create a pacifist when I found out about that challenge. Getting to 100 without killing a SINGLE thing? Sounds impossible. Sure, sign me up! I've gotten Pacifisteva here to level 10, and I'd like to point out that getting those first few levels without killing anything and not being killed yourself is NOT as easy at it sounds.

Now that I don't agro everything in a ten mile radius I can relax a bit as I run around armed with a Red Wine Glass and Mining Pick, putting every plant and rock I see into my impossibly large bags. I'm even vowing to finally complete those darn achievements for being all lovey with animals, you know the ones... To All The Squirrels I've Loved Before, and the rest of them. What better character to do it on? I don't know how far I'll ultimately get this character, but so far I'm enjoying it. The first few levels were very intense, followed by a nice calm.

I haven't started a bloodthirsty challenger yet, but I probably will in the future. Now that death knights are participating in the challenge, I may start one of those as well. I hear getting through the starting area with no gear is extremely difficult.

So to anyone brave (or crazy) enough to give any of the challenges a shot, come join in on the fun (insanity)! :)


  1. Oh, I like the sound of this. I've heard of Pacifist before, but not Ironman or Bloodthirsty. I just may give it a try! Thanks for this, it is a very well written and informative post. Great blog!

    1. I wish you luck if you decide to give it a go. Oh, and have fun! :)