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Blizzard bans an undead army of 120,000 Death Knight bots in WoW Classic

Developer reintroduces restrictions on which accounts can create the class

Two Death Knights, with dark armor and glowing eyes, stand back to back in World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King Classic Image: Blizzard Entertainment
Oli Welsh is senior editor, U.K., providing news, analysis, and criticism of film, TV, and games. He has been covering the business & culture of video games for two decades.

In Warcraft lore, the Death Knights are a formidable legion of undead warriors, raised from death to fight forever more. So it’s sort of thematically appropriate, if still annoying, that they’ve become bot-farmers’ favorite class in World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King Classic, flooding servers with their mindless grinding.

The reason? In both the original and Classic releases of Wrath of the Lich King, Death Knights start at level 55, only 15 levels shy of the level cap. Originally, you needed another character at the same level or above to create one. But in Wrath Classic, Blizzard waived that requirement — presumably hoping to tempt back players who were nostalgic for one of WoW’s best classes (and expansions), but didn’t want to grind to get there. That made the Death Knight an ideal shortcut for bot farmers on fresh accounts, looking to get to endgame grinding as quickly possible.

Blizzard has been forced to act, reinstating the restriction on creating Death Knights from the original game, and banning up to 120,000 offending accounts in a special wave.

“Over the past few weeks, we’ve taken actions that removed almost 120,000 malicious accounts from the World of Warcraft ecosystem, including both Wrath of the Lich King Classic and Classic Era. This is in addition to our usual, ongoing banwaves, which often include actions against tens of thousands of accounts per week,” WoW Classic producer Josh “Aggrend” Greenfield wrote on the game’s official forum.

Explaining the decision to reinstate the restriction on creating Death Knights, Greenfield said, “We felt it was very important for the launch of Wrath of the Lich King Classic to give anyone who wanted to hop into this iconic expansion the ability to do so with as few barriers as possible. Allowing every account access to Death Knights — even if they did not meet the historic requirements — was important. However, now that the initial launch period has passed, we no longer wish to allow the unrestricted creation of Death Knights on brand new accounts. It’s a tempting vector for malicious actors to use to get into the game and start exploiting very quickly.”

The decision seems largely to have gone down well with the WoW Classic community, although for some it was too late, if not too little. “I’m going to be frank they’ve been ruining a large portion of the game for months now,” said one player on the official forum.