Blackfathom nostalgia

The other day I decided to log onto my level twenty-two troll warrior and queue up for a low-level random instance, as the scattered posts I read about other people's experiences with the dungeon finder at low level and even a whole blog dedicated to the experience had piqued my curiousity.

The meagre amount of talent points that my troll has at the moment are all located in the arms tree, but since tanking at low levels doesn't even necessarily require you to wear a shield or the highest armour type for your class, I ticked the "I can tank" box as well and got a group popup instantly.

The instance I got ported into was Blackfathom Depths Deeps, and immediately a wave of nostalgia washed over me. Blackfathom remains one of my favourite low-level instances and I'm not even sure why. It wasn't my first; the Deadmines hold that spot and I quite liked them as well... but Blackfathom appealed to my sense of adventure in a different way.

First off, it was pretty damn annoying to get to as Alliance. To this day I'm not sure whether it's faster to run down the beach from Auberdine or to fly to Astranaar and then walk from there. I always preferred going via Darkshore, but I can see the addition of low-level mounts make the Ashenvale path more appealing. Either way it was always quite a pain to assemble a whole party for the instance and then actually get everyone there.

Then there's of course the whole unadultered dungeon feel of the place: It's a dark, humid hole in the ground with winding tunnels to get lost in. I remember my levelling partner asking me for help with Researching the Corruption (back when the mobs outside the instance were elite as well), and I thought that it was scary as anything.

In all fairness though, while it was certainly a group building experience back in the day, I can't claim that I really missed the long walk towards the instance entrance and people inevitably getting lost in the tunnels before even reaching the swirly portal.

My little warrior's group consisted of a rogue in full heirlooms, a hunter, a warlock and a paladin healer. Apart from the rogue and me none of the others had any heirlooms, but I don't think any of them were genuine newbies either, judging by the way they played, never got lost and managed the bridge jump flawlessly.

Oh the bridge! As far as I know there's a spot where you can just climb up onto the other side straight from the water, but back in the day I didn't know that and we always spent ages getting everyone across the gaps in that bridge. I was particularly fail at it, only surpassed by a druid with whom I grouped repeatedly and who always complained about his old computer making well-timed jumps impossible. Let it be known that my little warrior leapt across flawlessly and with particular glee.

Despite of what I said about low-level tanking having very lax gear requirements, I did actually strap on a one-handed mace and a shield, simply because I have too many bad memories of having to heal completely clueless tanks with two-handers and it would have made me feel very noobish.

So far, so good - though I was quickly reminded of something that I had experienced before on previous warrior alts: tanking in a dps spec sucks because you never have any rage. I hit Bloodrage whenever it was off cooldown, but that wasn't nearly often enough. I tried to preserve rage by using Rend instead of Sunder (lol, I know) on single targets, but I swear in the end I still mostly just held aggro by auto-attacking. My heirlooms helped a lot with that though, as the equally geared rogue was the only one who kept ripping aggro off me, and considering that the mobs didn't hit very hard anyway it wasn't a big deal.

I thought it was interesting that nobody commented on my tanking either way but happily followed me wherever I went, even when I dove down into the underwater caverns to kill Lady Sarevess and to find that injured Argent Dawn dude. I guess they were all relatively experienced, decided that I was acting sufficiently like a tank was supposed to and left it at that.

Our healer also did well, even though his mana bar appeared to be empty all the time and he had no drinks. Most of the time he just managed to squeeze out enough healing anyway. Only once or twice did he ask for a mana break, which due to his lack of drinks simply meant that everyone was sitting around and waiting for his mana to regenerate. Talk about old school! During one such break he also announced that he "had to go to WC", which momentarily made me worry that he was about to drop the group to join a Wailing Caverns run, until my brain made a reality check and realised that he just wanted to go to the loo.

Overall it ended up being a very smooth run. About the closest we came to wiping was when we entered the cavern containing Gelihast (aka the murloc boss), I ran in to shield bash the first caster mob and forgot that the murlocs are arranged in a complex pattern which means that if you attack even a single mob where it stands, all the other mobs in the room will aggro in a domino effect, and the next thing I saw was the boss running past me with a fear icon over his head as he had aggroed on the warlock. Everyone played well though and we managed to survive even that.

On a related note, what is it with pulls in many low-level instances? You don't really appreciate how clearly visible it is in higher level dungeons which mobs belong together unless you go back to tank a place like Blackfathom. The mobs are literally scattered all over the place, and chances are that if you pull one, at least one other will come but you can never know for sure. And then you have places like said murloc room, where you can't seem to take one step without aggroing yet another mob and it's all too easy for everything to spiral out of control.

Anyway, after the madness surrounding Gelihast we made it through the rest of the instance without another hitch. I remember the platforms just before you get to Kelris' room being quite wipetastic back in the day, but this time I made sure to pull all the casters back using line of sight (which wasn't too hard with all the pillars) and no further chaos ensued. I'm also proud to say that nobody had the bright idea to light all the candles at the altar at once, because I remember all too well when some people did do that...

I'm looking forward to my next run like this, though I don't know when it will happen, considering that my obsession with getting lots of emblems for all my level eighty alts takes up most of my WoW time these days.

1 comment:

  1. I fully believe that most pug members (myself included) would have happily followed you if you'd been swimming circles around the turtle boss' island - if when you encountered actual mobs you were tanking them. I'd follow a halfway decent tank off a cliff...actually I have, in Gnomeregan!

    Thank you for the mention, it's also fun to read that you've been enjoying yourself. The biggest obstruction to my pugging is the same dilemma - I'm already raiding 9-12 hours a week, it doesn't always leave a lot of time for the wee characters. It can be a fun break, though!