16/01/2020

Champion of the Banshee Queen

I've been visiting Nathanos Blightcaller lately. Similar to how it was quite the throwback to be reminded of Tirion Fordring's humble beginnings as a hermit asking the player for maggot stew, I hadn't really thought about good old Nathanos' original incarnation in a while.

An ugly undead who dual-wields meat cleavers, the vanilla version of Nathanos resides at the Marris Stead in the Eastern Plaguelands, where he used to live while he was still... well, alive. There he collects piles of skulls and plays with his plaguehounds. If you hang around long enough, you can even see him throwing skulls to play fetch with them.

He's also what's probably the most cantankerous quest giver on Horde side - and there's some competition for that spot, mind you - constantly insulting you and calling you names. It's hilarious.

Varimathras himself has requested that I send my most 'capable' agents back to the Undercity for a highly sensitive tactical operation.

Unfortunately, my most capable agents were killed over three years ago. In their stead I have a collection of brain dead riff-raff.

[Nathanos stares coldly at you.]

It may be an old joke, but it's still a classic!

After I dispatched Borelgore for him, he had this to say:

Keep this up and I may have to promote you from imbecile to mental deficient, first class.

He's also a raid boss and the Alliance has a quest to kill him. I've never seen it done, but I can imagine this making for some quite amusing situations. I've also heard that this actually makes him quite popular with Horde players, who delight in seeing hapless Alliance get slaughtered with overwhelming force. I imagine that on PvP servers, the Marris Stead must be a pleasant haven of safety for Hordies.

All this did get me wondering though how we ended up with Nathanos' current incarnation: From what I've surmised from watching YouTube videos of cinematics and the like, he's now a pretty handsome man (as far as undead go) who loves to make puppy-dog eyes at Sylvanas. She in turn seems to flirt with him a lot, though with Sylvanas being Sylvanas, I always get the impression that she just enjoys yanking his chain.

I actually went so far as to consult the Wowpedia entry for Nathanos - which is massive by the way - where I learned that apparently his body was restored in some dark ritual, and that Blizzard decided at some point to give him the backstory (established in written supplementary material) that he and Sylvanas had something like a clandestine affair going on when they were still alive (more or less), which seems to have transcended death. I do hope there's a bit more to the whole thing in game, because I have to admit that setup sounds kind of lame to me.

I'm not against the idea of some Forsaken still experiencing romantic feelings, but I honestly preferred the idea that Nathanos simply admired Sylvanas for her skills and willpower, and that she in turn valued his loyalty and ambition. But hey, I guess men and women can't just be friends... even if they're both undead and evil.

(Interestingly, the change to his character doesn't seem to have been all that popular with the currnet player base either - I was clued in on this by Google suggesting that I add the word "self insert" to my "Nathanos Blightcaller" search, which led me to a massive rant thread.)

09/01/2020

Casual Endgame Goals

A few years ago I wrote a post explaining what you could do at endgame in Vanilla besides raiding. I'd like to catch you up on how I've been doing with these goals on my hunter in Classic.

Pet Care

Actually, let's start with a bullet point that wasn't on my list back then because it's hunter-specific. As I mentioned previously, my pets really started to fall behind my hunter's level in the fifties, so one of my first goals was to get both of them up to level 60 too. Boy, did that ever take a long time! Nearly three weeks of real time and more than 40 hours of /played in fact. I suppose it could have been done faster if my focus had been on grinding level-appropriate mobs, which is the one and only way of funnelling XP into my little companions, but I was doing a lot of wandering about and doing quests, which obviously benefitted them very little.

They are however both caught up at last, and I also went out into the world to learn higher ranks of Bite and Claw to teach them. Though the highest rank of Bite can apparently only be learned from worgs in Blackrock Spire... I said bollocks to that and settled for the rank below that. Similarly Lightning Breath rank 6 can only be acquired from a Son of Hakkar in Sunken Temple, though that seems a lot more achievable and I'll need to make some time for it one of these days.

Questing

As mentioned in my previous post, regular solo questing has actually been a bit of a challenge because of my quest log being so chock full of dungeon quests, but I have slowly been chipping away at various solo quest lines, especially in the Plaguelands.

There are a number of quests that unlock interesting quest rewards, keys or attunements that I'd quite like to complete just so I can say that I've done them, though I also just generally enjoy questing for its own sake. My most noteworthy quest achievements so far are that I've acquired the key to Scholomance and attuned myself to the Molten Core (though the latter obviously required a group).

Reputations

Just like on my pally back on Kronos I started off grinding Timbermaw rep because I wanted to get to neutral. Those two quest items you pick up and that you can't hand in before then really bugged me! At times I felt quite discouraged by how overfarmed all the furbolg camps were, but eventually I got lucky when I had some free time outside peak hours... plus I did some farming just after the release of AV, when everything out in the world was a bit quieter than usual. There was no immediate incentive to push beyond neutral though.

My reputation with the Argent Dawn is up to friendly simply because of all the undead I killed with my Argent Dawn Commission equipped while questing in the Plaguelands - this is one reputation that feels like it should mostly take care of itself as long as you stay busy in the area and keep running Scholo and Strat.

I haven't started on the Thorium Brotherhood yet and am not sure if there's really any point in doing so either, but I'd quite like to be able to dump all that Dark Iron Residue acquired during my BRD runs somewhere other than the auction house.

I also did the intro quest for the Hydraxian Waterlords, but I'd have to actually go to MC now to continue working on that rep.

Earning Money

Acquiring an epic mount doesn't feel nearly as urgent as the level 40 mount felt to me, maybe because there is a lot less peer pressure. While it seems to me that epic mounts are much more common in Classic than they were back in Vanilla, there are still plenty of people riding around on the slower mounts. Still, it's a goal to work towards in the long run. I'm about halfway there right now, with most of the money having come from questing. (Classic fortunately already has that mechanic that converts excess XP rewards into gold at max level, something that Vanilla didn't have at the very beginning.)

Professions

I figured that mining would mostly take care of itself, and it kind of did, but I was still surprised by how long it took me to hit 300. I didn't remember Thorium being quite so rare, to the point that even endgame zones like Silithus or the Plaguelands are actually filled with more Mithril than anything else. And even when you do find a Thorium node, small ones are usually gone after a single hit and even the so-called rich ones sometimes already disappear after only two taps.

My engineering is up to 285 and the last fifteen points seem very doable if I could only find some more Thorium (see above). And that's considering the very humble amounts required for engineering! I feel bad for the blacksmiths who need hundreds and hundreds of bars to level up.

In terms of secondary professions, first aid has been maxed out for a while, and cooking and fishing are close. For the latter two it's just a matter of taking the time to actually get that final stretch done.

Alterac Valley

I haven't been back since hitting honoured for the arrows, and I already wrote about what I did before then in this post.

Dungeons

Considering my casual playstyle and that I'm not really aiming to do more than one dungeon a week at max, I'm pretty content with what I've achieved so far. Obviously I've run BRD a couple of times, but I've also done Dire Maul West, Scholo, Strat Live and UBRS. The latter was more of an accident than anything else, since I had joined a guild group to kill an elite quest mob, and before I knew it they'd turned the whole thing into an UBRS run to which I just happened to come along because I was already in the group!

In order to be able to say that I've done it all at least once I still need to do Dire Maul East and North, Strat Undead and LBRS. But of course there'll be reasons to re-run the others too... for example I have a quest to rescue Princess Moira from BRD now - yep, the Horde wanted her alive back in the day too, to improve relations with the dwarves. Who knew?

Addendum

Looking at this list after writing it, I find it striking that "getting gear" doesn't feature as a primary goal anywhere. Sure, a lot of these activities will also yield gear as a side effect, but I feel in no hurry to chase any specific drops. I guess I'm just assuming that better gear will come naturally as part of doing all those other things, and it has worked reasonably well for me so far.

04/01/2020

BRD Quest Run

I commented on one of Bhagpuss' posts a few weeks ago that I quite like the way WoW Classic introduces you to group content in a gradual way by slowly ramping up the percentage of group and dungeon quests as you level. I've seen many more modern MMOs get criticised for guiding you through a very solo-centric levelling game just to have you run into a metaphorical wall when you're suddenly supposed to group up for most if not all endgame content. I don't think anybody can really claim to be surprised in this manner when it comes to the group-centric endgame in Classic.

Now, while I generally think this is a good thing, I won't deny that it has its issues. Your quest log can only hold up to twenty quests, and when you pick up a dungeon quest you're usually not going to go and get it done right then and there; it will likely sit in your log for a while until an opportunity arises to get a group for the dungeon, effectively reducing the amount of slots you have available for solo questing in the meantime.

By level sixty this can become a real problem. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the main thing that's been putting me off playing my hunter most nights has simply been the overabundance of dungeon quests in her log, which had reached a point where she couldn't really pick up more than one or at most two solo quests at a time without dropping something else.

And I did drop some dungeon quests - or declined to pick them up in the first place, usually because I figured I wasn't likely to do that particular dungeon any time soon, or because it was given close to the entrance and I could hope that I'd remember to pick it up at the appropriate time. However, others were handed to me at the end of chains located in a variety of places, and I figured that if I dropped them, I'd likely never remember to pick them back up. And I did want to do them!

The worst offender in that regard was Blackrock Depths. It's an instance with a reputation for being huge and sprawling, and it has the quests to match. At some points literally half my quest log consisted of nothing but missions telling me to go to BRD. Worse, because of the nature of the dungeon, you could well run it once and not get more than one or two quests done, simply because the group didn't want to go to all the places you needed, which are likely located all over the map. For example I joined a run that was advertised as being an MC attunement run - and in fairness, I did get that done! However, part of me still wanted to cry a little, walking right past so many places and bosses that I needed as well but that simply weren't going to be part of this highly focused run.

I did join a run that was advertised as a "quest run" once, which did net me the Shadowforge Key among other things, but just after we'd killed Angerforge the tank suddenly "had to go", dropped group and hearthed out. (In hindsight I'm guessing he'd just viewed it as an opportunity to have another shot at the fabled Hand of Justice.) It didn't do much to alleviate my quest log problems.

Today though! I had the most epic and true-to-its-name quest run I ever could have imagined. Oddly, it actually helped that the group was led by a level 55 dps warrior who had been hesitant to take the tanking role because he was, as per his own admission, not super familiar with the dungeon, and others weren't always completely sure where to go either. This had the amusing side effect that everyone could basically go "over here, we should go over here" whenever they realised they were near one of their quest objectives, and nobody would object. We eventually called it at the entrance of MC, after we'd spent three and a half hours inside the instance and people were getting hungry as it was way past lunch time.

It didn't take us three and a half hours because the group was bad or anything though. We only had one wipe, which was based on me giving bad intel. ("I don't think he calls for help, but I'm not sure" just before we engaged Golem Lord Argelmach...) The rest of the time we just went absolutely everywhere, killing all the things. When I left, every single one of the BRD quests in my log actually said "complete"... for the time being, because there are always some follow-ups.

If you count the money from vendoring loot and item quest rewards, I also made more than fifty gold from that one run alone. I was so elated, I went ahead and finally picked up all those Blackrock Spire quests that I had been avoiding... just to immediately go back to having eighteen of my twenty quest log slots filled up. I'll just have to keep looking for more quest runs in LFG I guess...

31/12/2019

Classic WoW & Me in 2019

A few days ago Wilhelm made a nice post summarising where he stands in Classic WoW after four months, in terms of how many alts he has at which level, with which professions etc. I thought this would be a nice format to copy and would also make for a nice post to finish up the year on this blog. Without further ado, my current character roster in Classic:

Shika
  • Level 60 Hunter
  • 11 days, 12 hours played
  • 300 Mining, 275 Engineering, 289 Cooking, 281 Fishing, 300 First Aid
Originally conceived to be an alt that I could play whenever my friends didn't feel up for playing in a group, this hunter is currently my undisputed main, seeing how everyone else cruelly abandoned me (/cue world's smallest violin).

I have to admit that life at max level doesn't engross me as much in Classic as the levelling game did, but she has been achieving some minor goals over the past few weeks. Talking about some of that will probably be my next post in fact.

Shintau
  • Level 36 Shaman
  • 3 days, 23 hours played
  • 226 Skinning, 203 Leatherworking, 207 Cooking, 225 Fishing, 260 First Aid
Originally meant to be my main; then the friend I played with got so far ahead of me that I felt discouraged. My husband agreed to replace her as my levelling partner, so I got him all caught up and we did spend another ten levels or so levelling together, until he lost interest in the game too.

Yet this is still the character I kind of want to main in terms of class and role, but solo-levelling as a resto shaman is just the pits. Plus I'm still in that awkward spot where part of me is secretly hoping that I'll manage to get my husband back into it, so I don't really want to outlevel his warrior just yet anyway.

Shilu
  • Level 34 Druid
  • 2 days, 21 hours played
  • 198 Herbalism, 189 Alchemy, 151 Cooking, 148 Fishing, 224 First Aid
Originally created to duo with my husband's warrior as I got him caught up to my shaman's level, this little druid is slowly shaping up to become my main alt I think. They are just so versatile: able to solo a lot of pretty tough content, but also capable of filling literally any role in a levelling dungeon as long as the person behind the character is willing to do so, and I absolutely am.

Currently her focus in terms of gear and spec is on tanking, but I started putting together a healing set as well, because Sod's Law says that despite of there seemingly always being a tank shortage for everything, the moment you are on your tank it will be some other role that's in short supply. When I ran RFK on her, our group had no fewer than three tanks in it (I was one of two who agreed to go dps).

Shinny
  • Level 27 Mage
  • 1 day, 18 hours played
  • 185 Tailoring, 109 Enchanting, 148 Cooking, 156 Fishing, 132 First Aid
I originally created this character to have a disenchanter and bag-maker, and most of her levelling has been driven by me feeling that she was a bit too low on money, bag space and character levels relative to the challenge of storing all those bits of cloth and enchanting materials.

Mostly I've found that I don't seem to enjoy playing mage as much as I remembered, even though I know that they are objectively quite powerful. I think they just require a more offensive and mobile playstyle than I'm really comfortable with. Being able to teleport to all the cities and saving a lot of time that would otherwise be spent on flight paths, boats or zeppelins is great though.

We'll see what 2020 will bring for these four and what new alts will end up joining the stable (because you know it will happen eventually, not least because I don't currently have a priest of all things...)

21/12/2019

There's Something About Alterac Valley

About ten days ago, Blizzard dropped the patch that introduced battlegrounds to WoW Classic, or at least the first two: Warsong Gulch and Alterac Valley. I've never been a huge fan of the former, but I did want to get in on the action in the latter. Conveniently I even dinged 60 just in time to not be completely useless.

Now, queueing for battlegrounds doesn't work the same way in Classic as it does in retail and other modern MMOs. There's no convenient button to just enter the queue from anywhere in the world. There aren't even battlemasters in the capital cities yet, though I do seem to recall those being there in late Vanilla... maybe Classic will get them in a later phase as well.

As it stands though, the only way to join a match of WSG or AV is to leg it to Ashenvale or Alterac and dutifully bump your nose up against the instance entrance for the battleground to make a queue prompt appear. And then you sit there and wait.

While queues are cross-server and I'm sure that's good for queue times overall, it also means that Horde being the smaller faction on Pyrewood Village has exactly zero effect on our queue times, as we get thrown in with all those PvP servers with a Horde majority and therefore need to wait for enough Alliance players to line up to make up the numbers just like everyone else. Initially queue times were only about eight minutes, but since then they've increased to about twenty minutes at times.

This is annoying because that's a really long time to just stand around and wait (you'll have to tap your character at least a couple of times to not get logged out for being AFK), but Classic being what it is, it's also not really enough time to go out and do some quests in the meantime. (Not to mention that you need to be back at the door anyway to queue for the next match once you're done.) Worse, sometimes the matches can be so quick that you spend way more time sitting in the queue than actually playing.

Yeah, if you thought Classic was going to be a return to those "epic" week-long AV matches that people always talk about so fondly...  prepare to be disappointed. Personally I had no expectations of that nature myself, based on my experiences with Vanilla AV on private servers, but I was still kind of stunned by how many matches were over in less than ten minutes. The very first "introduction to AV" quest you pick up near the entrance asks you to retrieve a banner from a cave near your base and I failed it several times simply because I couldn't fight my way to the back of the cave quickly enough before the match was already over again, even if I made a straight beeline for the objective the moment the gates opened.

Sadly it's simply a classic case of WoW players needing to be saved from themselves. It was interesting to watch conversations about this in guild chat, as they basically came down to everyone agreeing that five-minute rushes to the end were not fun, but a lot of people still insisting that everyone should be doing the thing that's not fun anyway to optimise their honour per hour. To me, this is the problem with WoW players in a nutshell.

Fortunately AV is too big for the fun police to enforce anything efficiently. While there may be general moaning that "people" should be doing this or that, nobody really cares about any particular individual going off to do their own thing, unless you go AFK in a blatantly obvious spot, so I've spent a lot of time simply trying to get various quests done.

I previously expressed excitement about acquiring the Ice Barbed Spear for example, but I'd forgotten that this very same quest actually also rewards a pretty sweet crossbow, so I went for that instead as it provided more of an immediate benefit. Mind you, I'd never come across a crossbow before during my entire time levelling, so my weapon skill with them was 1. I entered my next AV match without realising that you can't increase your weapon skill in battlegrounds... let's just say that next match was a bit of an oopsie.

Anyway, once I'd got that sorted out, my main motivation to keep playing was reputation, not honour (though I'm up to rank 2, "Grunt", right now - woo). Interestingly, reputation vendors in Classic don't even let you see their wares if you don't have the right reputation level, so there's no window shopping and sighing over the goodies you'll hopefully acquire soon. You've got to look up the rewards outside the game or be surprised.

One thing I had looked up were arrows, because I hadn't seen an opportunity to upgrade my arrows since I switched to jagged arrows at level 40. Research led me to Thorium Headed Arrows as the ultimate endgame ammo, but they can only be acquired by crafting Thorium Shells from a rare schematic and then trading them in at a vendor... not particularly appealing to a casual player like me.

However, you could also get arrows that are slightly worse than the Thorium ones but better than jagged by reaching honoured with your AV faction, so that's what I went for. Simply being able to buy those from a vendor was going to be much more straightforward than the whole song and dance surrounding Thorium arrows, even if they could only be purchased from the AV reputation vendor near Tarren Mill.

I did get that done eventually and was pleasantly surprised that the vendor also had upgrades for another couple of my gear slots at honoured reputation. Not pre-raid best in slot or anything like that, but better than what I had so I was happy.

We'll see whether/when I continue with my rep grind. Looking up the list of potential rewards for revered and exalted, there are a couple more items that would be nice to have as a hunter; I'm just not much of a grinder. That said, every now and then it can be fun to camp in the AV cave waiting for queue pops while doing something else on the side (such as write a blog post like this one).

I'm not the only one resisting the rush-rush meta and while I'm not sure the long wait times are ultimately worth it, my matches have been interesting more often than boring. Even my win/loss ratio hasn't been too bad considering that AV is notorious for favouring the Alliance. And it does fill a unique niche of hybrid PvE/PvP content that I don't really get anywhere else.

11/12/2019

Level 60 Hunter

Yesterday I hit level 60 on my hunter. I didn't quite catch the actual moment of levelling up since the GeForce Experience screen capping functionality has been annoyingly laggy ever since I last upgraded my PC, but here's a shot of the seconds right after.

Just like on my paladin on Kronos three and a half years ago, the big ding took place in Winterspring. In fact, for a little while it looked like it was also going to happen from a hand-in at Donova Snowden again, but then I decided to work on a few more quests in the eastern half of the zone first.

When I shared my endgame woes in my last post, Bhagpuss commented that Winterspring wasn't so bad, and I explained why I hadn't gone there yet (at the time), but actually going there also reminded me of another reason I had avoided it: the furbolgs there are camped to hell and back, even early in the morning, which makes it very hard to get any of the quests related to them done. Since it feels like nine out of ten of the campers in question are Alliance, it's not even like I could have offered to group up either.

My /played time as a freshly dinged 60 was eerily similar to my numbers from Kronos as well, which was actually quite a surprise to me considering that my hunter could run faster, kill things much more quickly, and everyone's been saying the content is much easier on Classic than on your average private server.

I'd love to know where I "lost" the time that I must have saved by playing a different class, but my only real guesses are the gold-making break just before level 40 (since paladins get their mount virtually for free, that wasn't a concern for Isadora) and having to roam far and wide for certain kill quests whereas competition for kills had been pretty much non-existent on Kronos.

Anyway, I shall once again take this as an opportunity to post some random screenshots from my levelling journey. I took a lot fewer of these than expected, presumably because playing on private servers had already used up a lot of my sense of awe and wonder at the simple beauty of Classic.

This little conversation involving people congratulating my pet on levelling up in a pug is - to me - quite representative of how differently pets are perceived in Classic.

Okay, I may not have been as amazed by the views anymore as I could have been, but I still loved to pause and take in my surroundings in Thousand Needles more than once.

I think I did this escort quest at least three times (not all of them on my hunter though).

The Dalaran bubble is also a sight that still amazes me.

This was neither my first nor my last BoE blue, but it was around this time that I started to form the theory that your chances of a blue drop increase drastically the fuller your bags are and the more desperate you are to see a vendor already.

When was the last time you managed to lose a loot roll to someone who rolled a 2?

More Thousand Needles views (I spent a lot of time there).

Here I was just amused to run into another hunter with a white wind serpent. I've since seen more of them, but at the time I found it unusual.

Desolace is not a pretty zone in Classic, but there was just something about this night time view that I found striking.

I like to level all my professions as I go along, including fishing, so here's my hunter doing the Feralas part of the quest to skill up past 225 for Nat Pagle.

Many dungeon tactics are quite different in Classic compared to what we knew back in the day. For example I learned that in Uldaman "the thing to do" these days when fighting the last boss is to pull him out of his room and up to the next floor to minimise add interference.

I've said before that I'm not a fan of Maraudon but I will admit that parts of it are quite pretty.

Another one of those "different in Classic" things: In Vanilla it was quite hard to find people for the quest to kill Shadra in the Hinterlands, since it's at the end of a long chain which has quite an obscure start to boot (from clicking on a tiny item on a table). In Classic people were forming pug groups for it all the time (at least while I was passing through the zone).

Doing Jinta'alor with a mix of guildies and pugs made for a fun afternoon that felt like time well-spent.

In Vanilla I remember being scared of the possibility of a giant devilsaur suddenly coming my way while I was questing in Un'goro. In Classic, everyone knows that gear made out of their leather is great for pretty much all melee dps classes, including warriors, and they are farmed almost to extinction. During my entire time questing in the crater I think I only ever saw two (this one and one other).

Old-school game, old-school scamming attempts...

This is the chest you receive at the end of the Kalaran Windblade chain in Searing Gorge. I just had to chuckle at how it pokes fun at the ubiquity of cheese in open world chests. Also, fun fact: while I was looking up something else about this quest chain, I read in the comments about it that the character name is apparently based on a famous EQ player. Just another one of those nods from early Blizzard to the game that inspired them.

08/12/2019

Hitting The Endgame Wall

My last post ended on a very optimistic note, but as it turned out that optimism may have been slightly misplaced or at least premature. For example I'd forgotten just how much I loathe most of the game's original endgame zones. To quote myself from three and a half years ago when I was levelling my paladin on Kronos:

I just don't really like most of the Vanilla level 50+ zones. The Plaguelands are depressing, the Burning Steppes are dull, Silithus with its grating soundtrack and ongoing bug noises is just freaking annoying. I actually find myself wondering if WoW would have been as "sticky" for me if Burning Crusade hadn't come out relatively soon after I hit max level, sparing me from having to spend a significant amount of time with the level sixty endgame.

After finishing up Felwood and Un'goro, my hunter set foot into the Plaguelands and I barely managed to complete two quests before I was feeling turned off. Ugh...

Attempts to pad my XP gains with a few more pug dungeons weren't successful either. Having hit level 58, which is technically high enough for all of Classic's endgame dungeons, I figured that I should be able to tap into the never-ending stream of LFM requests for max-level content that I'd observed during most of my levelling journey. Unfortunately though, it turns out that level 58 hunters aren't the most popular characters in /LookingForGroup.

The first three people I whispered didn't respond to me at all, just kept spamming their LFG request as if nobody was replying. Another told me that they were already full (quite some time after my initial whisper though) and two other times I was told that they already had a hunter and didn't want another. I mean of course, bringing more than one of the same class to a dungeon would surely be unthinkable!

I'm being a bit facetious here because when damage dealers are a dime a dozen there is some logic to trying to build a diverse group, not least because it increases the chances of everyone getting some loot and little going to waste. But after how inclusive and easygoing most of my pugs had been while levelling up, it was still a bit of a blow. (I ran quite a few levelling dungeons with groups with other hunters and there were never any bad vibes. In Sunken Temple a troll hunter and I even set up trap chains on some pulls since a single ice trap's duration is so short.)

Finally I managed to get invited to a group for Strat live that had already both a tank and a healer but was taking suspiciously long to fill its dps slots - my best guess is that the fact that the group leader and healer was a level 59 shaman was deterring the same kinds of people who didn't want a level 58 hunter in their group.

I was feeling optimistic though as we engaged in some friendly chatter on the way to the dungeon entrance. Unfortunately we were only on the second pull when an Eye of Naxx appeared and since I couldn't kill it fast enough we got adds and wiped. Fortunately nobody took it too badly and we just resed up and continued. Unfortunately we soon suffered more deaths, such as when the tank made a big pull while the mage was busy conjuring water. I'll shamefully admit that I was responsible for some deaths too when a clumsy tab-target sent an arrow flying into an extra group of mobs (though that pull didn't wipe us).

We made it past the gate with the rats, and then wiped again on the very next pull. This time I couldn't even tell what had gone wrong exactly; it felt like the healer just hadn't been able to keep up with the damage on the tank. One of the dps said that he didn't have time for this, left, and before I knew it the group had disbanded.

Just like Vanilla indeed. My first memory of Strat is my nelf priest being roped into serving as a healer for a pug run, us wiping a few times on the first road and everything falling apart soon after.

I'm not sure if this screenshot is from that run, as it looks like we must have got a bit further that time, but you get the idea.

I was starting to entertain the idea of cancelling my sub and giving the whole thing a break for a couple of months when I finally got lucky and managed to snag a spot in a guild run on Sunday morning, also for Strat live as it happened. That experience couldn't have been more different: The run was chill and very successful (we never wiped, though there were a couple of humorous deaths, such as when the undead warlock gained an insane amount of aggro from some Scarlets by cannibalising the corpse of one of their mates), and even better for me personally: I hit level 59 and scored no less than three very good pre-raid pieces of gear that nobody else needed.

So hope lives on.