My Raiding History, Part 3: Wrath of the Lich King

The last post ended on a more positive note than it had started. Raiding was going fine and in November 2008 Wrath of the Lich King, WoW’s second expansion launched after 22 months and we were really eager for the new stuff. It’s a bit of a shame that I didn’t blog already back then (this doesn’t count). As with the launch of The Burning Crusade, I was still studying and working at the same time.

I faintly remember that it was supposed to launch at midnight and I’m also pretty sure I started to level my Warrior in Borean Tundra and was quite ahead of the curve, but not really rushing it, so I went to bed after a few hours and not pulling an all-nighter. This would be the first expansion where I was leveling 2 characters at the same time, the warrior and my Rogue Main. Anyway, back to raiding. We cleared Naxxramas, The Obsidian Sanctum, The Eye, Ulduar and Trial of the Crusader, at least as far as I remember. Heroic raids weren’t a thing yet, but there were hard modes. While I’d say WotLK was raiding at a high level for me there are not a lot of distinct memories of the early raids. I know we struggled a bit with 10man vs 25man because we were more than 10 but not exactly 25, I think we ran 2 10man groups at times, sometimes with well-geared alts standing in. It was also the time where I nearly managed to get one of each class to max level (2 missing at 73+78). It was also a time where I managed to raid on all 3 roles, DPS, Tank, and Healer. Naxxramas was ok, Ulduar was really fun (except Yogg-Saron) and Trial of the Crusader wasn’t so great.

So far I left out the grand finale of WotLK raiding, Ice Crown Citadel, which came into the game roughly a year after the expansion had launched, in December 2009. This coincides with another guild change, but I’m also a little hazy on the details. Again it was a re-form of most of the old folks of the guild we had raided with since TBC. It might be that was some disagreement, it might be that we wanted to focus on a mostly static 10 man group in the upcoming instance. The only thing I can tell for certain is that all my characters went to the new guild in January 2010.

I loved Ice Crown Citadel, I think it might be my favorite raid instance ever. I DPSed, I tanked, I healed. All the fights were kinda fun and doable. Well, ok, Sindragosa was hard, but we did it. Also there was the final fight, The Lich King himself. We had chased him all over Northrend, seen him in cutscenes in quests, 5mans, and raids, taunting us. And boy did we take long to take him down on 10man. It was the classic “no single mistake allowed” fight. When one person died we could as well wipe if we didn’t need to practice this exact phase anyway. I don’t know how long we wiped, or how often. I just know that up until that day that was the biggest achievement we got.

In early 2014 I would come back to level a Dwarf Shaman on a German server to do a locked-xp-at-80 Algalon run, I wrote about it: one, two, three.

It’s Blapril and this is post number 17.

My Raiding History, Part 2: The Burning Crusade

The last post ended with our first full clear and the tail end of Vanilla WoW. The Burning Crusade, WoW’s first expansion launched on January 9th 2007, if Wowpedia is to be trusted. We had our guild, the band of ex-battleground players and the raiding game was to be changed in a major way. Before it was 40mans (that we didn’t do) and 20mans (that we did), and now suddenly there should be 10 man Karazhan and then 25 man mini raid instances, Gruul’s Lair and Magtheridon’s Lair. As we had raided together with another guild the logistics of 10 man dungeons shouldn’t be as much of a problem as it would be for larger guilds, who suddenly needed like 8 good tanks and 8-10 good healers out of 40.

But first things first. The attunement quests in Vanilla were mostly tedious, but even with bad players(us) the MC attunement could be done easily if you coordinated a group. In TBC, getting the key to Karazhan was quite a bit more challenging, as the Heroic versions of the dungeons proved to be a lot harder than all the Vanilla 60 dungeons. We didn’t have major problems, but there were some occasions (Heroic Black Morass for example) where we simply had to retry a run after getting a few pieces of gear more or switch the composition of the group. Nothing drastic, but it still took a while to get 15 or so people the key to Karazhan. Then we started raiding and for some reason everything went horrible. We killed Hakkar, we still had all the same people, and while we hadn’t carried them, the people from the other guilds weren’t our star players, they were average, so it’s not like we had lost our best players. Still, progress was damn slow, people were fed up that we had 15 for a 10 man dungeon, and so on.

Now the details get a bit murky in my head, so I don’t know if we ever managed to kill Gruul and Magtheridon in this group, but I’m reasonably sure we killed Karazhan’s last boss, Prince Malchezaar, after too many wipes and too much time. Along the way we had already lost a few people who were fed up with the group, which was a shame after over a year. At some point we got an influx of 2-3 players that came together, this had improved our raiding a little but the tone and morale was at an all time low and that’s when we had guild drama for the very first time. It ended with our guild leader and the new people and 3-4 others (so 7-8, half of the active raiders) simply leaving, that must have been in the summer/autumn of 2007. With the exception of one of the latter ones I haven’t spoken to any of them since because most of them publicly laid blame on about half of the rest of us who remained, mostly on raid performance. I still don’t know what I have to think about this, because they also took two of our worst players with them (which we sometimes asked to be benched for a particularly hard fight, instead of just telling them they can’t raid at all or kick them – I know this is also not very nice, but we wanted to progress AND let them be part of raiding, especially some of the leavers had in the past argued for demoting them to purely social…) – anyway, with just a few of us left at some point I disbanded the guild as I, as one of the remaining 2-3 officers had taken over guild leadership for this sorry pile of rubble. That kinda sucked.

Most of us took a break from the game over the summer (at least a few weeks) and in autumn I applied to one of the non-hardcore guilds on my server and even raided with them twice before there also was some internal conflict, but they solved it like adults. The current guild was a very old one and the guild leader didn’t want things to change or give up leadership, but also didn’t want to raid, not even casually – so most of the raiders left (on friendly terms), to form a raid guild with a defined purpose (but put most of the active remaining players on their friends list).

Of course I joined them because I was here to raid, after all. Everything worked out nicely, and after a while I brought most of the remaining people from my old guild (that had failed in Karazhan) on board and unsurprisingly it worked out just fine with them raiding and they weren’t bad at all. We still weren’t hardcore, we still weren’t fast – but with the slowly improving gear we actually managed to clear Tempest Keep, Serpentshrine Cavern, The Battle for Mount Hyjal, and even The Black Temple (just not Sunwell Plateau, but that’s ok).

The Burning Crusade is also the expansion where I stocked up on alts, even up to leading alt raids to Gruul and Magtheridon on my Prot Warrior, and clearing Karazhan in alt groups also didn’t seem to be a challenge anymore – I think I even healed on my Druid on our first kill (or just while learning) of Archimonde. Nerf HoTs.

And while raiding in Vanilla was fun, Hakkar was the only memory I actively still hold, whereas for TBC there are a lot of memories. The moment Malchezaar still went down, when we cleared SSC, when we cleared TK, the Archimonde fight, and most of Black Temple (which was my favorite instance in that expansion), being on main interrupt duty on Reliquary of Souls, and when our raid leader called the Illidary Council “the superbowl of not standing in things”. And being a main tank in alt raids, of course. Also I don’t remember if I was an officer in this guild. Certainly not at the start, maybe in the end. Not that it matters a lot.

To this day I am confused how Karazhan could go so badly for this original group where 20 man had been fine and the others raided successfully without us, and we did without them…

It’s Blapril and this is post number 9.

My Raiding History, Part 1: Vanilla WoW

Shintar wrote a really cool blog post about her raiding history and I thought that would be a good topic, so here it goes.

When I started playing WoW (which is a story for another day) I had only played Ragnarok Online, an MMORPG that doesn’t have the concept of Raids. So anyway, I leveled along with my girlfriend, starting in summer 2005 and finally reaching level 60 in late spring 2006. We didn’t know a lot of people on the server, basically just one friend from university, and he had stopped playing already by then, because he had already been 60 when we started and got bored. So we leveled as a duo (Rogue + Prot Warrior) and also did some PvP. On a PvE server that meant battlegrounds. So we played, and because we did that a lot in the 50-59 bracket at some point she was approached by a guild if she wanted to join. Apparently Prot Warriors made decent flag carriers in Warsong Gulch and were also kinda hard to take down when guarding a flag in Arathi Basin. So she joined and after a bit I joined as well. We got to 60 and did mostly battlegrounds, every day. At some point we got to rank 11, got our mounts… and then a few things happened. We’d been playing from my room and I moved out, and because of the horrible honor system in vanilla and this one week offline we stopped progressing and also didn’t want to continue to fight our way back up, so rank 12 was kinda not a goal anymore.

At the same time some people in the guild who had only ever done PvP, just like we did, wanted to have a look at the 20 man raids, and so our guild leader (who had raided before, either on another character or maybe even on Alliance) took us to Lower Blackrock Spire for “training”. Yes, some of us hadn’t even done all the 60s 5 man dungeons like Stratholme, Dire Maul, Scholomance. The result was kind of hilarious. I don’t remember everything, but I’m pretty sure you could still enter LBRS with 10 people, so were probably 8-10 and I think we made it through, but it wasn’t pretty. And yes, some of us probably hadn’t run a 5man in a while (I remember doing a few UBRS runs for the dagger that never dropped and one other Rogue in our guild had 2 of them…)

So because not everything was hopeless we started to do Zul’Gurub and AQ20. I don’t remember the specifics, but for some reason there was a falling out between the guild leader and nearly everyone else and because he didn’t step down, 90% of the people left and reformed the guild under another name, with the same officers, and a few more, including us two. We continued to raid weekly now together with another small guild whenever we got the numbers, but it wasn’t easy. At some point we had the luck (still feels a bit like cheating) that our (new) guild leader somehow got hold of a friend’s fully Tier 2 equipped Protection Warrior, and suddenly we had a really well-geared Main Tank and I’m pretty sure that helped us a lot. Although in the end, ZG gear wasn’t so much worse than Tier 1, so we had 1 person out of 20 who was a full gear tier ahead…

First kill of Hakkar in Zul’Gurub

We downed Hakkar after a while and that was the first of those moments where everyone’s just screaming on voice comms because you finally managed to clear the instance after working hard on the last boss. I don’t even remember if we cleared AQ20. We did 1 or 2 nights in MC, but as we were only 20 we needed some other folks and the overhead of keeping DKP for this made us stop very soon, also The Burning Crusade was drawing near… But we still clearly felt like the underdogs – we were late to the party, but it was basically still the same PvP guild that had decided to try PvE and it had worked out. I don’t care if Blackwing Lair was a lot harder (I really have no clue, I can only assume it was), but we were kinda happy the way it went.

It’s Blapril and this is post number 4.