I’m back writing this series after a big break pondering whether to continue it. Turns out that it’s a great way to condense my diary sessions and combine them with the relevant screenshots, and it also had a few readers as well, so I’m going to continue writing the parts. However, one thing I’ve decided to do this time is reducing the amount of screenshots as that really got out of hand in the previous parts.
But don’t worry, there will still be plenty.
I started this month with various quests in Felwood and Winterspring, notably those about the lady by the warm pond, killing a patrol of white furbolgs, and getting ten rare pelts from yetis.
I did something to a meddlesome quest in Winterspring, I probably should have done some more – I cheated like the worst scoundrel. I had to traverse a deep cave with loads of elite dragonkin monsters. It was another one of Blizzard’s stupidly difficult quests. On the nice web site, Thottbot, they recommended that I took off all my equipment and then just ran inside, expecting to die a few times on the way. So that’s what I did. Soon I came to a symbol in the floor at the end that teleported me out on a mountain top where a lady was standing that I needed to talk to. Back in Everlook I put on all my gear again, and as a result of the “naked” trick I didn’t have to pay to get it repaired. In your face, Blizzard!2 June 2005
I was back in Scholomance where I tried a new AssistHelper add-on that made it easier to hit whatever the main assist was hitting. It made attacks more coordinated, killing groups of monsters more efficiently.
Nick, who had already been very helpful on several occasions, offered to help me level up enchanting by donating a lot of his enchantment materials from his horde character, Pannick.
In order to exchange this between two hostile factions that couldn’t use the mail system, we both traveled to Gadgetzan to use the neutral auction house there that both factions had access to. Chat also wasn’t possible between alliance and horde either, so before relogging we agreed that he would put up various materials for just one silver and then jump up and down. As soon as I had bought it, I was supposed to use a joyous emote of shouting. So we jumped and shouted several times in the empty auction house, and sometimes a third player came down to see what all that shouting was about. After this I just picked it all up in my mail. I was completely flabbergasted at the amount of stuff, Nick had given me. There were enchantment materials for more than 300 gold! I ran my enchanting skill up a bit, but then hit another wall. Later at the auction house in Ironforge I found a new formula for using the many eternal essences, and then things got moving again. I topped it off with a few illusion dusts, and hey presto, I had finally hit the cap of 300. I immediately enchanted my 2H mace with Icy Chill and also did the same for Bass. Cinick also came by and got himself some enchantments.3 June 2005
Both Nick and I was missing the rare and expensive enchantment called Crusader, and he knew exactly where we could farm it. There was an isolated tower in Western Plaguelands where a few mages spawned that might drop it. However, the chance of this happening was 1% and even though we spent an hour or two there, we never saw a shred of it.
It was obviously going to take a lot of farming until we got lucky.
But especially around this tower I got a good taste of how my new Icy Chill enchantment worked, and I must say that I was very disappointed. Each hit on an enemy had a chance of lowering its movement speed to 70% as well as attacking 20% slower. This sounded good in theory, but in practice it was all hat and no cattle. First of all, the effect was pretty rare and when it finally did occur, it only lasted for a measly five seconds. Because it was a melee effect, the 70% reduction was for the most part completely useless – you were already hitting on it, so there was no running around. Left was the 20% reduced attack speed, but it was so insignificant that I could barely sense it at all. Whether an enemy ends up hitting me 57 and 55 times doesn’t really matter at all. All in all a very disappointing enchantment, and I looked forward to this!?3 June 2005
I tried farming the tower alone the next day, but it was hard work. The 4-5 spellcasters were officious and I had to use shields, mana potions and bandages just to keep up. It was too troublesome farming this place alone and decided to wait for Cinick. We then tried again later but still to no avail.
About ten days later, Cinick had managed to acquire the Crusader enchantment while I had been offline and gave it to me for free. What a guy. Niknak, another helpful guildie, made me the Arcanite Rod needed for enchanting it, and I immediately enchanted my 2H mace with it. I tried it out in Searing Gorge later, and it was good. It activated reasonably often, and it gave me a whopping 100+ strength for 15 seconds.
Definitely way better than the preposterous Icy Chill enchantment.
With my main paladin Bricaard I uncovered all of the maps of several areas, including Deadwind Pass and Blasted Lands. I also acquired a key to Searing Gorge so future visits to Blackrock Mountains would be easier. I helped Tamako with quests in Azshara, and later I won a pair of Lightforge boots in Stratholme. It was the third part in the blue paladin set, and it gave me the first set bonus – a measly +11 healing.
But then I experienced two new and exciting things. The first thing was a visit to UBRS which is the upper part of Blackrock Mountains. It actually required a key from LBRS, but someone came along from another guild that already had it. The second thing was that we were a raid of 15 players. It seemed a bit frenzied to begin with, but I soon got the hang of it by setting up AssistHelper to hit whatever Arathon was hitting. I also used the BuffAhoy add-on to make buffing 15 players more bearable. UBRS was swarming with nasty dragonkin, and we also passed through the chamber with eggs where the cult video with “Leeroy Jenkins” took place. During a few of the bosses I turned to healing at a distance instead.
The very next day, Arathon gathered ten players for our first run in LBRS – the lower part. It was long and meandering, sort of like a mix between Scholomance and Maraudon. I actually liked UBRS better. Enemies were spiders and enormous wolf parents. Because of having two priests along it went smoothly without any wipes, but I wasn’t entirely satisfied. Someone came with an arrogant statement to my announcement about whom to main assist, the drops were completely useless, and when something finally dropped that I wanted, someone I thought didn’t need it rolled for it and won.
There was also a lot of chatting during LBRS, especially by Pookyi and Melanie, and somehow it annoyed me that Stovamor was capable of typing such long sentences in the midst of battle. I had this thing about separating fighting and chatting, but a lot of the other seasoned players obviously didn’t have a problem multitasking. And I was also already starting to get tired of raiding – it felt like eating the same soup.
I was starting to miss the “good old days” as a solo player, adventuring in the wide Azeroth.
Back in Winterspring I returned to the lady on the mountain top using the same equipment cheat as before. This time something most unusual happened. After our talk she zapped me in an enormous arc away from the mountain, across the ocean from one continent to the other (a loading screen appeared) after which I dumped into a lake in Western Plaguelands, close to the entrance to Scholomance.
It was one of the biggest gawking moments yet.
Back in this period of time in the vanilla game, most quests were contained within the zone – but not always. A few went into neighbor zones or cities. One that required the most traveling across zones was Linken’s chain of quests, which had a boomerang as a reward in the end. It was interesting for my class since paladins weren’t exactly known for pulling monsters at a distance. The quest started by finding a boat close to a pond in Un’Goro Crater. Linken’s sword then had to be enchanted, I had to lure a gnoll away from some ruins with some bait, and I even had to die in order to chat with a ghost at a cemetary in Tanaris. It was a quest chain I wouldn’t complete until the middle of July – more than a month later.
I uncovered maps in more zones in the distant corners of Azeroth, and I had another trip to Stratholme where Alabrin was indignant that everyone pulled apart from him. But in spite of this he still did a good job and we got through without wipes. And I was in BRD again, this time Bass, Sino, Melanie, Fudnor and of course myself. We were in a jolly mood and did well, especially because Bass was such a great healer.
It was around this point that Bass told me in a whisper that he actually didn’t really like all the rules and choreography of the boss fights at this level. It was a bit too strategic for his liking. But the most surprising thing about Bass was another whisper I got in Ironforge, where he asked if I happened to be that legendary C64 musician JCH. He had figured it out after he saw the e-mail address I had used for the guild site.
Never expected that one. I wonder who Bass really was? I never discovered his identity.
Apart from being talkative in guild chat, Arathon was also the spontaneous type that sometimes wound up an impending doom. He started talking in chat and in the forum about how utterly useless paladins were at level 60 and seriously considered quitting the game because of it. I couldn’t help thinking how big a loss it would have been if he had left at this point.
Luckily, he didn’t. His time as a proficient raid leader was still to come.
Bricaard started quests for Thorium Brotherhood in Searing Gorge. A lot of the quest work for these kinds of factions was about getting reputation filled up in a dark green bar, wrapping it around in steps for increased access to their merchant goods. This would be a theme for many expansions to come.
I also installed a new add-on called Gatherer to see where I previously found herbs on the map. Tamako and Nick then told me about a program to import a database of detected herbs in the world. This spawned a dense field of dots all over my maps that was almost too good a thing.
And I spent some time in Western Plaguelands with Kregorine, Grolschelm and later Sino. We tried to get the four crystals in Ruins of Andorhal with the tough lich, but the quest was still bugged. Too bad.
A really pleasant event this evening was an official nomination by Stovamor. He promoted Sino and I to Knight in the guild. He held a speech about being impressed how skilled and helpful we had been, and that we had understood the spirit of the guild. After the promotion we got access to a new guild channel for officers only – a channel with a darker green text that was accessed with /o. Tamako received an even bigger promotion after having arranged guild fights across guilds and written several useful guides in our forum. Tamako is a really nice guy and the promotion was certainly well deserved.17 June 2005
Next guild run in LBRS went really well. Lots of controlled sapping and sheeping, and only hitting whatever the main assist was smacking. My rolls was pure bad luck, however. Bass won a pristine black diamond, Alabrin some gloves, and later where Sino and I was playing in Eastern Plaguelands, he won a roll for the same gloves that also happened to drop there. I then helped a guildie killing scorched guardians in Badlands, which were sort of black teenager dragons.
But by far the most interesting thing that day was a visit to Azshara.
I was in my very first 40 man raid today. The target was the big blue dragon Azuregos in Azshara, and Tamako had arranged a shared raid between The Phoenix Order and Dawnguard. It took a long time to gather all people and set up orders and tactics with CAPITAL LETTERS to filter out the rest of the chat. We then tried to kill the dragon three times, but we didn’t do well enough. The farthest we got it down to was 65% health. However, I surprised myself and many others from my guild by being #2, and in the last fight #1, on the list of the best healers – even in front of many priests! That being said, I did manage to keep myself alive longer than these priests which of course affected the result considerably. Still, I couldn’t help feeling a little smug about it. If only the rest of the raid had done a good job too. Unfortunately the big dragon waddled all over the place, and it could do a lot of tricks like teleporting its attackers below itself and do a lot of harm. Some strategy was necessary. The mages were not allowed to cast anything on it whenever it was blinking, as it would only send it right back in their faces. Whenever your were teleported, you had to be careful about running away to avoid stealing aggro from the main tank. Unfortunately not everyone was good at understanding whenever to attack and not attack – one by one, everyone inevitably died. After three attempts, Stovamor and the others concluded there were too many fools in Dawnguard that didn’t understand how to play their characters properly and follow orders. I received a remarkable whisper before the first fight from Kentsu, a player from Unseen Legion, which was probably the most serious guild on the server regarding skilled level 60 players. He was very doubtful about this attempt, but he also thought at first that it was just a pick-up raid. I tried to deliver diplomatic answers to him, but I guess he got the last laugh. Nevertheless, I still had a lot of fun. I didn’t count on us being able to kill this dragon anyway, and a lot of players had their first experience with such a raid boss, including me. That we were so many players also watered down the feeling of frustration about having lost. It was truly a fascinating experience to be part of this.18 June 2005
Unfortunately, the next day also showed how utterly ruthless the vanilla game could be.
Late that afternoon and all of the evening was spent helping Stovamor and Arathon getting their paladin class mount. This took place in Scholomance just five players, fighting our way down to a cellar with tough level 61 elite undeads. It was hard only being four paladins and one mage, and we were even exposed to a peculiar paradox as the boss was chained together with a tough guard. We just couldn’t manage them both at the same time. We tried all sorts of odd tricks. One of the most inventive was letting Hermanni run upstairs using his explosive turbo boots and then drop back down to the cellar through an alcove hole. It almost succeeded too, but then Hermanni’s boots exploded and he was instantly killed, after which the boss returned to also deal with the rest of us. Unfortunately Hermanni had to leave shortly thereafter, but back in the beginning (after yet another wipe) we invited a priest from Ordo Lucis called Hohoho, and he was absolutely worth the trouble. He was experienced and cunning, often used shackle undead and shields, healed really well, and he had a lot of funny comments and voice emotes. It also went better when we finally got back to the cellar. We even managed to clear the cellar of the boss, the guard, and all their minions. Then Stovamor started a foolishly cumbersome event with waves of ghosts that each had to be stunned with various types of seal judgments. Some of these seals wasn’t even ready in my action bar and I had to temporarily make room for them. It was not a fan of this design. But the worst part was that Stovamor had to go down and “pick up the ghosts” and then drag them up to our corner, so that we could stun them and let Pookyi use area of effect spells on them. In the second wave Stovamor had some bad luck and died, and soon after we all wiped. Then came the most frustrating discovery of all. The entrance closed, all of Scholomance had respawned and we had to start all over from scratch. At this point we gave up and I was furious. This was by far the most inane quest I had yet seen in this game, and I had already seen quite a lot of crap already. Shame on you, Blizzard!19 June 2005
I had another 15 man visit to UBRS together with Blades of Oblivion and Ordo Lucis, and we played quite well – at least until we reached an edge and a bio break (which is MMORPG jargon for visiting the toilet). In the meantime some of the remaining players jumped around excessively, and suddenly one of them fell down to the plateau further down. We then all decided to jump down, but the badly timed appearance resulted in a wipe followed by a respawning of enemies that forced us to abandon the raid.
The next day, Stovamor, Arathon and I went back to the cellar again – for better or for worse.
While Bricaard was fishing I was invited to another 5 man attempt in Scholomance, trying to get the pesky epic mounts for Stovamor and Arathon. I accepted a bit reluctantly, and this time we were accompanied by Orchid (mage) and Izz (priest). It actually went a lot better this time, although we did wipe once in the cellar with the strong undeads. But we fought back and tried again, and even the arduous event with the ghosts (that had to be collected and stunned with judgments) were decimated in a cool and disciplined manner. I tanked the death knight in the end that was riding on a mount like baron’s in Stratholme. In the exact moment it died I accidentally hit the Windows button, causing the game to drop to the desktop and then crash. Luckily Arathon and Stovamor had their mounts as I logged back on again, and they were of course happy. We immediately traveled to Ironforge where Arathon and Stovamor proudly displayed their new horses. They looked like the normal level 40 mounts, except they had a ridge of “Unicorn”-spikes on the mane. They were also more golden rather than silver. But the most important difference (apart from the prestige of course) was the 200% speed increase compared to the 160% that the normal mount was only capable of. I wonder if I will ever to get the same mount. It takes a lot of expensive materials, quite a lot of gold, and I also have to get hold of a very rare pristine black diamond.21 June 2005
June was also the first time I visited Dire Maul, a very hard 5 man level 60 dungeon.
We were Sino, Tamako, Orchid, Izz and Bricaard – a warrior, rogue, mage, priest and paladin. Apart from one wipe in the beginning it went well most of the way, and the place was refreshingly different from most other instance dungeons. It had enormous temple ruins in a slightly sandy shade and housed primarily big, hard-hitting ogres. As was typically Blizzard, there were peculiar rules and ideas – for example, Tamako had to disguise himself as an ogre to cheat a superior, and he had to repair an ice trap so that one of the ogres were permanently frozen inside an ice block. We met a king in a large throne chamber with a sky and stars where I had to off-tank a right-hand man while the others thrashed the king. The right-hand man was invincible but became friendly as soon as the king died. Unfortunately, the place started annoying me with a few dumb design failures. After checking out a big chest for rewards, we had to become the new kings by talking with a minion. At this point Sino and I assumed that it was enough if just one in the group talked to him – then we all became kings – but Blizzard didn’t do that this time. As a results of this, Sino and I were beat up and killed on the way back while the other three mates could do nothing to prevent it. The enemy was benign to them now. Sino and I had to run all the way back and click the king icon as well. Another source of irritation was an ogre that offered a quest. I clicked him and saw that I could also click sections for a story. I thought, maybe it was a good idea to wait with his quest in case it activated an event. So I started reading his story to begin with. Suddenly the bloke just ran off with the words that he had to do something or other! In fact, it seemed as if the design team behind Dire Maul didn’t always use the rules of the game in quite the proper way. All these mishaps dragged on until it was so late that Tamako suggested we repeated the visit to Dire Maul the next day.26 June 2005
I also learned that killing the king and opening the chest was called “DM Tribute” in general chat.
In between dungeons and Blackrock raids, I spent time riding around in Hillsbrad, Arathi and Wetlands picking up herbs. I put the herbs I found for sale at the auction house. Especially Kingsblood sold quite well and were bought out fast. That meant about 4-5 gold into my pocket, but then it did take an hour or two farming them. Gathering money in the vanilla game wasn’t easy.
We had a final visit to UBRS on the last day of June. It wasn’t the best run yet – we wiped and sometimes procrastinated – but we did manage to kill General Drakkisath in the end. I only got one piece of loot, but at least it was important – a pristine black diamond for my epic mount quest.
Finally I could get started with this extraordinarily expensive quest series.
That was the end of part 5.