In November of 2015, I made a discovery that would revert my adult form back to its glorious teenage years. You didn’t have to pay to play World of Warcraft, assuming you didn’t mind playing earlier builds of it. Private servers have always been pretty common, and yet it took me years after quitting retail to realize the possibility of going back to the game that I preferred. After some searching, I stumbled upon Excalibur, a private server that had been running for over five years at the time, had a decent population, and promised a near-Blizz-like coding script. It ended up being the right decision, as while my interest in it waned as time passed by, I would never leave it for good. I elaborated my thoughts in an early 2016 post.
January 10th, 2020. I was alerted to a comment on said post linked above. It foretold the end of the server. Incredulous, I immediately looked to the website’s forums to see if it were true—indeed, Excalibur was on life support. One of the main moderators created a thread detailing the decision to close down the servers after more than a decade in existence, effective February 22nd. Stunned, I began to reminisce. Sure, I hadn’t played on the server consistently since mid-2019, but I always intended to go back when the feeling struck me. It always comes back. The nostalgic noose that World of Warcraft is to me tugs at random intervals. There was always more that I wanted to accomplish, but now that chance won’t come, at least not on this server.
What becomes the obvious question is this: So this private server is dying. Why not join another? Such will likely happen, though I’ll probably choose Wrath of the Lich King next. What makes this all the more depressing is one key quality: community.
Fair warning: the people who played on Excalibur were not what the general public would normally refer to as “decent” people. Well, there were hundreds of people who played on it normally, so I can’t say for sure if that’s the case. What I can say is that there were definitely a number of crazy characters, from ninjas (loot thieves) to trolls (not the race) to vile, toxic shit-talkers. Even the farewell thread referenced earlier had enough self-awareness to provide “special thanks” to the common names that typically spread toxicity and dismay to battlegrounds, raids, and other competitive ventures. Your notoriety grew with each bad public call-out, and some of these people relished in it. For me, that’s what made this server so fascinating.
This may sound sociopathic, but when it comes to an isolated private server where the most disgusting individuals gather and fester like a tumor, I absolutely adore when things go completely batshit. World chat was among the most amusing parts of playing on Excalibur, and moderators were very lenient on the type of dialogues allowed. No racial slurs, nothing non-English (randomly), no criticizing mods (hmmm), and no spam. Otherwise, have at it. The kind of conversations that would arise between obvious trolls made for apathetically dark humor and hours of incessant verbal assaults and horrid scenarios imagined. It was chaos, such that made me cherish this twisted, grimy community for what it was, hoping it would never seep out into the real world.
I’ll share a personal story that paints me as a troll, but it was easy to do within this server. Frolicking along on Bloodmyst Isles with my former Draenei priest, I randomly put into world, “Hey, do you think people would be willing to refrain from saying certain things if you ask them nicely enough?” No one responded, so I left it at that for a little while. Roughly ten minutes later, someone randomly referred to another chat member as a “retard.” My mind churned. Pulling up my messenger, I whispered the individual and told them (paraphrasing), “Hey, dude. Could you not use that word in world? I was bullied a lot during my middle school years and I was called that often, so it’s uncomfortable for me to see it. I’d appreciate it.” Within a minute, they respond with, “Oh, no problem! I’m sorry about that. : )” My experiment bore fruit, and I felt a mix of disgust and elation.
That’s just one instance. I was never that “clever” all the time, but the various community members did what they could to rile each other up through insults, trolling, and feigning ignorance. Almost like a Wild West sort of thing, where the anonymity of the situation allowed for people to be as selfish as they could, and any bridges they burn was irrelevant to their “real” status. Ninjas? Everywhere. Gankers? Absolutely. Familiar names constantly bragging about how great they are at the game? Why even ask? There were all types of despicable people, whom were typically the loudest. Hell, there was an infamous ganker who only shouted the name of their character whenever they killed someone (Note: never confirmed it was after a kill, only assuming). That’s hilarious.
A horrid identity, for sure, it was still a solid identity. There will never be a private server quite like this one, especially under the assumption that chat moderators in other, more populated servers are more strict with hostility and debauchery. And all that I’ve described so far isn’t exactly a flattering image for the place, but it was the truth. A truth that I accepted and ended up embracing. Such great fun being able to interact and throw myself into the chaotic pit of slithering snakes that made up the noisier parts of a late evening playthrough. Typically, I played the enabler/nice guy, always defending those being “prosecuted” by the mob (the troll playing victim), to hysterical results. Otherwise, I’d just bring up random topics of discussion or add a dose of wholesomeness to a decrepit server, with others telling me to shut the fuck up.
If not for the community, it was the game itself. Again, I can always just migrate over to other private servers, yet I’ve always been pretty particular about these sort of sentimental things. Excalibur is the only pirvate server I’ve ever played on for more than an hour, dating back to late 2015 (almost four and a half years!). I’ve changed so much as a person in that time; one constant was Excalibur as my private server. So many names I’ll fondly recall, characters I’ve built from the ground up, and instances I’ll cherish in a “part of the adventure” sort of way. The lack of things to do on Horde between levels 22 and 25. Trying to cross through the Wetlands at level 11-12 as an Alliance race to get to Azuremyst Isle. Being terrified to quest in Stranglethorn because Excalibur is a PVP server, and if someone is there of a different faction and has a clear level advantage, they will kill you. So many memories in four years that I will carry with me, possibly for life.
I will not be sad that it’s gone, but happy that I was able to live within it for such a long spurt. A shame that I never found enough motivation to reach the level cap, the one regret I have. Perhaps another server will give me that long overdue obligation. Even so, the levels accumulated by the multiple characters I’ve created reach well into the hundreds. Excalibur was my home for Warcraft for a long time, and though I was never keen on working with others (never joined a guild, rarely initiated groups), the community ended up being the foundation of what made the server so homely. Disgusting, but homely.
Here’s to you, Excalibur. Thank you for living. Thank you to the mods for keeping it around for so long. Thank you to the players—all of them—for creating an unforgettable atmosphere of chaotic energy. Thank you for the growth you may or may not have given me as a person and player. I’ll log in one last time tomorrow, for old time’s sake.
Thank you for your time. Have a great day.