Next week, World of Warcraft: Legion launches. I am extremely excited. I want to dive back into WoW, to explore new lands, complete quests, level up and explore the many storylines I’m sure I’ll find on the Broken Isles. I want my Artifact weapon and I’m keen on relearning how to play my Balance druid—because they change the mechanics every expansion, so ever Boomkin has to relearn the class every single freaking expansion!
As we launch date approaches, I find myself thinking back to the best and worst of times in WoW. Yesterday I wrote about my favourite RPG systems and today I’ll do another soppy post on good memories and good times with a game by telling about these wonderful Warcraft moments.
By the way, the screenshots may or may not have anything to do with the stories. But they’re all full of nice memories!
Kingslayer: Arthas, The Lich King, is to this day one of the hardest World of Warcraft raid bosses I’ve ever fought. His mechanics were fair but also unforgiving and a single mistake could take down your entire group. You had to be on point, perfectly coordinated and making sure you cranked out every single shred of damage and healing your character was capable could muster.
I was with another guild back then, not Integrity, my current one. We raided Icecrown Citadel for months, overcoming every boss, farming Rotface and Festergut in both 10man and 25man modes for the best items. Slowly we made our way through the entire fortress and eventually came to the Lich King.
It took us months to down the final baddie of the expansion, months of attempts and frustration and near kills. I mean 11% wipes—the boss fight effectively ends at 10% health—that almost drove us to tears.
But then we did it, that one attempt where everything went beautifully, where no one died save at the end and we killed him, the cinematic hit and we all cheered. I was so happy I posted it on Facebook. We had finally conquered the Lich King!
Aggro-Magnet: One of my last raids with this guild was Blackwing Descent and that big worm Magmaw. The fight isn’t complicated but it has one particular feature: at one point in the fight, the worm will attempt to eat the character tanking it. Now, normally you’re supposed to have a second tank pick the boss up then, to make sure it didn’t lash out at some poor healer or damage dealer, but with our composition we had this second tank taking care of some annoying and highly damaging parasite worms the boss spits out every once in a while.
At the time, I had some of the highest DPS (damage per second for those of you who don’t know) in the group, the highest in this particular boss. Without the second tank to pick up the boss during the munching stage, Magmaw would turn on the next in line for highest threat aka aggro…me. It became a point of frustration and eventually a running joke that the moment the tank took a bite I would instantly die.
At the time, druids had a spell called Cower. This spell lowered the character’s aggression. We decided that when the munching time approached, I should stop doing damage and cower. I did and still died. I wasn’t even the highest threat in range, but the boss still went for me first.
When that happens, you have two choices: get angry or laugh your ass off.
I chose the latter.
Press the Damn Button! This is an Integrity story, but it started some time before I joined, though I had the opportunity to experience a sequel of this story.
Picture the scene: The group is in the Dragon Soul raid, fighting Deathwing’s forces when the Destroyer announces that his greatest creation will kill them all and usher into the Hour of Twilight, the moment all life ends in the world.
Then they hear this intro: “I am the beginning of the end, the shadow which blots out the sun, the bell which tolls your doom. For this moment alone was I made. Look upon your death mortals and despair. Now is the hour of twilight!”
And then they get a new magical button in the middle of the screen. They need to press it at the right time, before the boss unleashes its most powerful attack, to survive the blast. The boss charges up, the raid leader calls out for the button and most of the raid dies because they pressed it too late.
Fast forward hours and night and this still happening and you get the raid leader, furious going “It’s a button! Press the button!”
When I came in, the group was attempting the highest difficulty at the time, Heroic, while we all waited for the next expansion. In the heroic version of the fight, some people have to stay behind to take the blast and can only do so once. Everyone pairs up and people call out when it’s their turn. If there aren’t two people to take the blast, it’s game over.
Guess what happened, and continued to happen for several nights? That’s right: “Press the button!”
Psychotic-Breakwing: I will never forget the experience of fight Deathwing. Not only is he still one of my favourite Warcraft lore characters but also one of the most disappointing expansion end bosses. I think the boss design was terrible, consisting of minion fights only, without really fighting the big baddie himself. The last one is ridiculous. Then again, the thing was freaking massive and you were half the size of his tiniest claw.
When I joined Integrity, very soon we were making attempts at the Heroic Deathwing fights. These were hardcore in difficulty, but mostly because the fights were extremely gimmicky and you had to do some insane amount of burn dps. What this means is that instead of constantly dealing high damage over the course of the fight, you had to push out insane amounts of it over 30-second periods. You had to do this a couple of times in the first fight and a few times in the last one, particularly during the last phase where it’s a burn raced against increasing damage.
It was a monumental pain in the ass and every attempt brought us closer to quitting and to be honest, it wasn’t fun. It wasn’t enjoyable for me to get to that level of frustration, to let a game affect me that way. It happens to all gamers once in a while, but this was every night for weeks.
When it finally ended and we killed the boss, I didn’t want anything to do with that boss ever again.
And I wasn’t alone. But you know, working through the frustration I got to know my fellow guild members a lot more, so some good came out of it.
Death Room: In the Mists of Pandaria expansion, during the last raid Siege of Orgrimmar, you start the raid in the Vale of Eternal Blossoms in Pandaria before invading the Horde capital. One of the early bosses in the raid is the Sha of Pride—the Sha being physical manifestations of dark emotions, such as Anger and Fear—but before you can face this big baddie you have to clear the room of trash mobs, the normal enemies.
In this room there are dozens of the same little enemy, some little sha minion that enchants players with a damaging spell that detonates in an area when cleansed or kills the player if it stacks too high. In addition to this, bolts of energy blast from the centre of the room with clearly visible markers on the ground so you know where they’re landing and exploding.
When you combine the sheer number of enemies, the stacking debuff and the area of effect damage, you can see how this room just kills raids faster than any boss ever could. For us this became another of those things that is in part frustrating but also funny as all hell, particularly the first few times we entered the room and just wiped almost instantly.
Most guides tell you about the bosses and don’t worry about the normal enemies, but this room had its own guide in most major WoW strategy sites. It was that common to die miserably in there.
A few weeks ago we returned to Siege of Orgrimmar one weekend just for the kick of it and had a good laugh when we reached this room and reminisced of all the failures and constant deaths in there.
Overtuned: During the last raid of Warlords of Draenor and for the short period I could play the damn thing, the first couple of bosses kicked on Heroic—the new “normal” difficulty—kicked our asses so thoroughly we felt the pain outside of the game.
The first boss, yet another in a long line of minion fights, was just too hard. Even with our best players in the team pumping out ridiculous amounts of damage, we didn’t even come close to clearing the enemies and they overwhelmed us every single time.
Then after a week of frustration and feeling down because we, competent players, couldn’t even take down the first boss in this raid, we get the news that Blizzard was going to patch some changes in, because they had overtuned the boss from its stay at the Public Test Realm, making it as difficult as it was in the next level of difficulty.
In essence, we had fought a Mythic-difficulty boss with gear meant for the Heroic version. It was a moment of great relief to learn that we weren’t the screw-ups. It had been Blizzard’s fault all along.
Ignorance is Bliss: This one is a short story but it happened very recently and gave me a few giggles.
Over the past couple of years I haven’t played World of Warcraft as much as I wanted to. Between moving to Ireland and now England and figuring out new time zones, commute schedules and all of that, it became almost impossible for me to play consistently.
As such, I didn’t have the chance to fully experience the Warlords of Draenor garrisons as much as everyone else did. I popped in once in a while, sent my minions to do my bidding, farmed a few things and left. I did grow tired of the daily grind for plants and the mine, but other than that, I saw my garrison once every full moon.
So a couple of weeks ago I log in and it suddenly hits me that I’m going to miss the Garrison. I loved watching the followers walk around, saying hi when I walked past them and chatting among themselves. I really like it. I also love how this mechanic made me feel important in the world, in the expansion, with a cinematic for the building of the last tier of the garrison telling me I had become a General in the Alliance. I thought that was cool.
I tell this to the guild leader and good friend and he replies something like, “Yeah, that’s because you didn’t play much of the expansion. The rest of us, we hate this thing. I won’t miss it and I can’t wait to be rid of it.”
I couldn’t help but laugh at the sheer garrison hatred coming from him. It was too funny for me. Here I was, blissful in my ignorance of how tedious, simple and grind-worthy the garrisons had turned the game, almost killing all social aspects entirely, and said I was going to miss it. I almost felt like I was in one of those series where someone says something bad and the whole room goes quiet and red burning eyes turn towards the speaker.
I love moments like that!
There are many more moments, but those are some of the best for me. One of the things I love about playing World of Warcraft is playing with my guild friends, all of them amazing people and I can’t wait to make even better memories this time around.