Catching Torches: A Handy Guide for Fun and Profit

The Midsummer Fire Festival is upon us once again, and just like every year, frustrated players are already tearing their hair out over the infamous Torch Catching / More Torch Catching quests.

Players tend to find these quests either extremely simple or utterly impossible. And there's definitely plenty of factors that can make it tough. Depending on your location, the torches and their shadows can be very hard to see; you pretty much need to be adept at mouse turning, and fast mouse turning at that (as well as have decent reflexes); and if your lag or latency is too high, snagging 10 torches in a row is virtually incomprehensible.

But, don't lose hope! Here are some tips to hopefully make your torch tossing a little easier.

Adjust the camera angle

The best way to catch torches is make sure you can see their direction and destination, and the easiest way to do this is adjust your camera so you're looking straight down on your character. This way you can precisely track where a torch is going, if it's veering off slightly to the side, and (by watching its shadow) how long until it lands.

Get out of Orgrimmar/Stormwind

One of the biggest problems with torch tossing is getting your torch mixed up with someone else's. When there's a few of them flying about, accurately tracking which one is yours can be a nightmare, so get out of town! Go to a quieter city and enjoy the peaceful, empty streets, as well as the lower lag/latency.

Undercity and Silvermoon are great for Horde players, and Alliance players should have an easier time in the Exodar or Ironforge (though Ironforge might also be crowded, depending on your server habits.) AVOID Thunder Bluff and Darnassus, however. Yes, these cities will be nice and empty, but their unusual terrain can make it hard to track flying torches - Thunder Bluff has some weird grass lumps/lighting issues, and Darnassus has vision-obscuring trees overhead.

(Note: your personal preferences may vary! Some people really like doing these quests in Thunder Bluff, while others dislike Undercity! Try out the different secondary cities and see which works best for you.)

Reverse direction before catching torches

One of the biggest mistakes people make with these quests is waiting until they see where a torch is going before moving. By this I mean catching a torch, and sitting there until you see your character throw it away. This is bad. By the time you spot the torch's movement, quite often you are too far away from where it will land and/or facing the wrong direction, and won't be able to reach it in time.

I have found that the best way to catch torches is to actually be moving back towards them. For example, if the torch is headed North, I want to be moving South when it hits me. This means that I have to run ahead of where the torch will land, turn around, and then run back into the torch as it falls down.

Why do I do this? Because a torch will almost ALWAYS get tossed up in roughly the opposite direction from which it came. So if you catch one that was headed straight North, chances are very high that it will next be tossed South, Southeast or Southwest.

First I run ahead of the torch...

Then I turn and run back into it as it falls. The yellow arrows indicate where the torch might head next.

Since we know roughly where the torch will go, running that way early gives us a valuable head start and eliminates the frantic rush of trying to react quickly and turn/run in the proper direction. Also, because you are already moving in the right direction, snagging the torch is child's play. If it's flying overhead, right in line with your character? Perfect. And if it's off to the side? Just gently adjust your direction and align yourself with its shadow.

Confused? Don't sweat it. It might make more sense to actually see this method in action.

Move and steer with the mouse

If you are a keyboard mover/turner, then I have bad news for you. These quests are WAY harder if you're not using your mouse to steer. You simply don't have the mobility and speed to keep up with the unpredictable torch paths.

It's not impossible - you CAN do it with efficient strafing and planning - but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone.

Try to strafe as much as you can so you can reverse direction quickly if necessary. Do not stop, and do not walk backwards if you can help it. If you can, run gentle curving loops while turning your body to face whichever new direction you are headed. Honestly though, if you ever wanted motivation to learn how to mouse steer, this would be it.

Here is a demonstration of catching torches using only keyboard turning. (Notice that even without a mouse, I try to still catch the torches by running into them heading the other direction.)

Catching torches to hone reflexes

This isn't a tip, but rather a reminder to players who find these quests really easy that there is never a bad time to practice and sharpen your skills. Vidyala recently wrote a post that mentioned how practice was always valuable, even to seasoned raiders. I strongly agree with this sentiment.

For example, I find these quests pretty straightforward, but rather than just speed through them I figured I'd challenge myself by zooming way in and not adjusting the camera. With such a narrow field of vision, it was a test to see how quickly I could react and adjust. It was good practice! Give it a shot, see how you measure up. ;)

9 Responses Subscribe to comments

  1. gravatar

    Great post, Rades! I had more difficulty with this so far this year than I did last year. I'm not sure why. I tried top-down, etc. I actually find I am more comfortable with a more zoomed-in view.

    The funny thing is that even with keyboard turning you are so adept at moving that it's hardly noticeable the difference! You must make a great melee DPS, you have incredible facility with movement. :D

    June 22, 2011 at 12:05 PM

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    I think this year they did a little something to the code which makes the torch harder to track correctly in the air or explode a little above the ground or something.

    Anyway, I disagree on not going to Thunder Bluff. I use Thunder Bluff for all of my alts. The area for the torch catching is pretty small and right next to the flame, and since the ground there is green grass, it's much easier to see the torch shadows than on Orgrimmar's dusky red rock or Undercity's permanently shadowed grass.

    June 22, 2011 at 1:51 PM

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    Hello Rades

    1) you need to update your blog so people can email you.
    2) email me please hydra at twistednether dot net

    I would love to chat with you.


    June 22, 2011 at 3:44 PM

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    It's so frustrating watching someone using keyboard turning. My girlfriend does it and the time lost when turning slooooowwwwly out of a patch of fire then sloooowwwwly turning back to face the boss to continue DPSing is silly, when I know all it would take is a quick sidestep instead.

    Also Rades please please please use proper heading tags :p I usually read your blog in Google Reader and the yellow-coloured font tags are pretty hard to read there on a white background ;-)

    June 23, 2011 at 6:16 AM

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    I agree that getting out of Orgrimmar is a great idea, however I have to disagree with the recommendation to go to Undercity. There are almost always less people there resulting in less lag, but the area into which the torches go is dark and makes it hard to track the shadows. Silvermoon is my personal favorite, the light cream flagstones and the bright sunlight make the shadows very visible.

    June 23, 2011 at 6:14 PM

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    I also had a much harder time this year with this quest. Last year I was quite proud of myself to follow the methods you mentioned (aerial view, go to Silvermoon/Exodar, turn in preparation for the catch and toss), this year lag is killing me! There have been times where the torch explodes and debuffs me before the actual visible torch/shadow has reached the ground. Similarly I've had the torch be tossed in the opposite direction before the original falling torch has reached my toon. Extremely annoying.

    As a combo keyboard/mouse user, what I have been doing is using my forward arrow to run around and holding the right mouse button to ensure quick and accurate pivoting. Pre-turning in anticipation of the catch is key, especially with the weird visual lag.

    June 23, 2011 at 6:17 PM

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    @Anon, @Ikeltu - I guess it's largely personal preference! I added in a little note saying so. Silvermoon is probably the safest bet, I'm thinking. :D

    @Andy - I was bad with the font colors! I always forget about how posts will show up in readers. Fixed now though!

    @redcow - I've had some similar issues, where you can see a torch descending and another ascending at the same time. :| Pretty annoying. The only thing I can suggest is be a few steps ahead of where the torch appears to's weird and confusing but I had some reasonable success doing it that way.

    June 23, 2011 at 8:15 PM

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    Thanks for the tips, aerial view worked great. Also being able to do it in Druid's travel form makes it a bit easier ;)

    June 25, 2011 at 2:04 AM

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    Awesome guide Rades! I'm linking it into my guide - it's better than any explanation I can give!

    June 27, 2011 at 3:09 AM