This might all seem really very obvious to a lot of us, but I know for a fact that there are a few people out there who don't have the first clue about camping rare spawns.
The most important thing to remember is patience. Yes, I know how annoying that is to hear, especially when you're waiting for something you really want - for example, people telling me to just be patient when I am waiting for responses from literary agencies is really annoying. I know I have to be patient, and I know that complaining about it won't make anything happen any sooner, but I still can't be blamed for getting fed up. But you do have to be patient.
What Does Camping Mean?
Camping simply means finding a spot and waiting there, with your character doing nothing else - unless they happen to need to level their cooking and you've brought aaallll the necessary ingredients along with you. Having Jeeves helps at this point, too.
Otherwise, camping does just simply mean 'waiting'.
How Do I Camp?
To camp successfully, you'll want to do your research. Typically, you'll want to wait at your quarry's spawn point. If you go onto Wowhead, you can typically find out its spawn point either by the concentration of dots on the shown map, screenshots, or from hints and tips given in the comments section. Alternatively, there are any number of WoW rare spawn-related websites that can help you.
If you download NPCscan Overlay, the routes taken by your chosen rare will be displayed on your minimap (in varying colours and opacities) and if you start to get a little bored, you can always fly around its routes if there are more than one spawn points. However, if your rare has only one spawn point, just wait there.
Now, camping can take a very long time. A very few people get lucky and only have to wait a few hours before their rare shows up, but for the majority of us, it takes a very long time, and the higher rate the rare is sought after, the longer it'll take because more people will be competing.
Most people go and do other things, leaving their WoW account open, sound muted, with their computer volume turned up quite high, and NPCscan set to 'Unmute for alert sound'. Don't turn the sound up all the way if you're going to be by the computer constantly anyway, or, if it does go off, you will have a heart attack. This way, even if they're not in the room, if their rare spawns (or another rare spawn passes by, which can be VERY disappointing), they will hear it.
Will It Really Take That Long?
Yes, it probably will. You can read any number of comments on Wowhead and elsewhere from people stating how long it took them to get a particular rare, which are usually posted as a helping hand for those still hunting for it. You also have to note the spawn times. Some spawns appear within half an hour, others take a few hours, and others still a few days. Find out how long, on average, you should expect to be waiting. But don't expect it to go the same way as it has for others. You may end up waiting a lot longer, or a lot less.
A lot of rare spawns don't have fixed timers. The Time Lost Proto Drake, for example, takes between 6-24 hours to pop up - though, apparently, since The Shattering, its spawn time has decreased and pops up more often. And just because it may only take 12 hours for this rare to spawn, doesn't mean you'll get it. Others are probably after it, too, and if there are 5 of you waiting, only one of you can tag it.
So, it is best to assume that camping will take a long time.
What Should I Do While I'm Waiting?
There are plenty of things you can do. Seriously. Just because your WoW account is now occupied, doesn't mean there's nothing else to do, and it's greatly advisable that you do actually do something. So long as you can come back to the computer every half hour and hit the forward button, you're fine. You don't need to sit by the computer constantly until it spawns. If you do, you're only wasting your own time and driving yourself mad. Trust NPCscan to pick it up. If you're worried it's not working, hit the test button. It will prove the sound is working, the addon is working, and that you're worrying over nothing. Just trust the addon and get on with your day. You don't need to do anything but hit W every half hour, and react when you hear the horn.
Try not to consider yourself as waiting for anything. Try to ignore it. Here are a few things you can do with your time:
- Surf the web. I don't advise this option, really, as alt-tabbing can prevent NPCscan from making any sound at all until you switch window, by which point it may be too late, and be lying dead in front of you. Ouch. Instead, only do this if you have another computer or laptop that no one else is using. Afterall, you'll be occupying 2 computers this way, so you had better make sure no one minds.
- Watch a movie. This is only really useful if the spawn time is relatively low, and on a rare spawn no one really pays attention to. Movies (except the Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit) don't tend to last longer than 2 hours, so in the end, you'll just end up watching movies for the sake of it, and waste your time.
- Read a book. This is far more advisable. It's not likely that you'll start and finish a book within a couple of hours. And some of you might scoff at reading (what is wrong with you?) but I urge you to try it. Paper won't kill you. If you're dead set on sticking with WoW, though, you could read one of the Warcraft novels. There are about 13 of them, not counting Vol'jin, which isn't out just yet, or any of the comics, and you can get them on Amazon or through Blizzard, all over the world: Amazon UK • Amazon US. Otherwise, if you read a lot anyway and are out of books, just hit up your favourite genre and pick a new author to try at random. I know how hard it can be to read an unfamiliar author, but after the first few chapters I'm sure you'll grow to love them. There are many other fantasy worlds out there beyond Azeroth.
- Get creative. This is a lot of fun (don't give me any of that 'I'm not creative' crap, don't be such an idiot, it's impossible to have no imagination, and if you're not good at something it's because you've not practised enough) and you can make anything. You could draw, you could write a short story, you could craft an item from your favourite game, you could cook/bake something. This is one of my favourite options. While camping the Time-Lost Proto Drake, I created a lot of new jewellery for my little online shop. I got a lot of good work done, and made myself a nice little bit of money, too.
- Get fit. (No, I'm not referring to stereotypes, I'm just offering a suggestion.) Don't scoff at this. Sitting at a computer all day - be it for work or leisure - is not good for you. Sitting down slows your heartrate, it decreases your metabolism, and it just generally isn't good for you. Head on over to Amazon, or Sports Direct or something, pick yourself up a fitness DVD (you can get so many different kinds - dance, aerobics, kick boxing, etc) or a set of weights and use them. You can use your weights at the PC if you must, but if you're not using the computer, or doing what you would usually be doing at that point such as playing WoW, then you have no excuse not to try. It makes you feel great afterwards, too.
- Clean the house. Seriously. It can count as exercise, too, if your house is a real mess. This will either please your partner (or your mother, depending on your age and/or living arrangements) and get yourself some brownie points, or it will finally get rid of that pile of dirty laundry and clear away those plates, which are now more like oversized petri-dishes. Either way, it's a good idea to do this.
- Play something else. If you have a console, just jump on that and play something else. Have you completed Skyrim yet? I mean, it is a pretty big game. How about replaying Knights of the Old Republic as a Jedi? Most of us only really played it as a Sith, anyway.
Whatever you do, just keep yourself occupied, and try not to see whatever you're doing as just something to pass the time. Try to enjoy it, or put effort into it. Just lazing around and waiting to hear the sound of NPCscan delivering great news is just a total waste of time.
A Few Other Things:
There are a few other things to keep in mind while camping.
- It's only a game. You get nothing out of this other than enjoyment. If you miss your rare's spawn, don't worry about it, better luck next time.
- If it spawned at a point you weren't camping, well, that happens, don't worry about it. Picking one specific spot out of four might seem useless, but it means that, if it spawns at your point, it's yours, especially if you're camping at a lesser-known spawn point. For example, just about everyone camps Bor's Breath. Flying around the routes doesn't hurt, though, and it's unlikely that it will spawn at your point just as you leave it, but, if you stay at one spawn point, sooner or later, you will get it. No one spawn point is intentionally more common than the others.
- If you were alt-tabbing, or couldn't get to the computer quickly enough and someone else got it first, try to think of the positive side: that person is now really happy, and they won't be coming back to camp any more. With account-wide mounts and achievements, no one has much need to continue camping on other characters.
- Don't put off starting something 'just in case it spawns'. Like I said about, find out what the average amount of time spent camping before success is for your rare, and just accept that it will be similar (not the same, though) for yourself. Just set up your NPCscan, sort out your sound, and walk away.
- Don't get angry if the person who just killed it learns and mounts up right away. They're only 30% showing off. Chances are, if you had been the one to kill it, you would learn and mount it right away, too, and probably just fly/swim/run around on your new shiny mount because you finally got it. If they point and laugh, or get really cocky, then, well, you can be forgiven for being irritated. No one likes a Richard Hammond. The same goes if someone has just tamed the rare you were hunting to tame. If they keep it out then they're just proud. If they go to each spawn point and summon it, then they're being dickish, but ignore them.
- If someone announces that they killed/tamed it, take it as a positive. People announce in general usually if they killed a highly-sought-after rare, or if they saw someone else kill it. They're not (necessarily) boasting, but whether they are or not, take that fact and leave with it. If the TLPD has spawned and someone killed it, well, I'll log off and play on another character. I got my day back. I'd rather they announced it than kept it to themselves. Well, no, that's not true: I'd rather I killed it.
- Don't be put off by the number of other people camping. Remember that the majority of them aren't at their computer, watching and waiting, and a few others are probably just fickle individuals who will give up after twenty minutes. I often see the same people camping in the same locations, and every now and then I fly past to see the rare spawn they were doubtlessly after lying dead beneath them. And they're still there. And they're still there the next day. People can be right on top of the spawn point and miss their rare. Don't let it put you off.
[This was written while camping the Time-Lost Proto Drake. I know I said alt-tabbing was a bad way of camping, and it is, but I'm waiting for paint to dry so I had to do something else.]