So... Culling of Stratholme. I mentioned before that my opinion of that instance has changed over time, but as it is now I dare say that it's one of my favourite WOTLK heroics. I don't even mind all the talking at the start, which a lot of people seem to hate. For me it's just a good opportunity to inspect the other group members' gear (out of curiosity, not that it changes how I treat them) and fetch a drink.
As a result I felt pleasantly surprised when my shaman's last random dungeon on normal mode before she hit eighty turned out to be Culling. Hurrah! We had a death knight tank, a rogue, a warlock and a druid for dps.
So, as usual I go off to set everything in motion all by myself. On a side note, what is it with that? I mean, I can kind of forgive it on normal mode because maybe people are new to the instance and genuinely don't know what to do, but why does nobody ever help with revealing the plagued grain crates on heroic either? Does everyone honestly think that Arthas will show up on his own if only they stand around picking their noses for long enough? Giving people the benefit of the doubt and assuming ignorance instead of laziness, let me tell you: Arthas' appearance is not tied to a timer! You have to get an Arcane Disruptor from Chromie at the start of the instance, regardless of whether you've done the quest or not, reveal the five plagued grain crates, and then talk to Chromie again in front of Stratholme. Only after she (he?) says something along the lines of "here comes Uther now", the introductory event starts. Not that difficult, is it?
Anyway, that was just a tangent really... so I had this group, and we were all set up to go, just waiting for Arthas to do his thing, and about thirty seconds before the first wave spawns our tank suddenly says "brb". The dps mostly decide to ignore this of course, and the rogue and the warlock charge in and get splatted.
"Where is the healer?!" one of them demands to know.
"At the back, with the tank," I reply, "he said brb."
"Oh," they reply, get ressed/run back, and we wait.
We wait for a couple of minutes, then the warlock demonstrates an amazing lack of short-term memory by asking: "What are we waiting for?" I explain again that we're waiting for the tank, and he goes "oh".
Eventually the tank disconnects and a vote to kick him gets initiated and passes. The dps druid decides to leave as well at this point, but we get both a replacement tank and dps (a hunter) pretty quickly.
"Hello there," I greet them enthusiastically.
Tank has left the group.
Meanwhile, wave one of Mal'Ganis' Scourge minions must have completed their third round of the city, admiring the scenery and possible chewing on some flowers.
Several of us ported out to do a couple of dailies while we waited for the LFG tool to find us another tank, as it couldn't even give us an estimated wait time. After about fifteen minutes a warrior tank finally joined us, and we quickly ported back into the instance and hurried back to Stratholme. I eagerly kept an eye on the position of our tank on the map but he just stood at the entrance for several minutes, until eventually he asked someone to come back because he didn't know the way. I facepalmed.
Once we actually managed to get him towards the mobs he managed to do some tanking, but only sort of. He seemed to have never done the instance before as he kept running after random zombies all over the place, forcing the rest of us to gently coax him towards the next wave of elites every time, which would then proceed to beat people up left and right and make my job as a healer very un-fun.
Somehow we managed to make it through to Meathook, and it really made me realise how spoiled I've become by all the faceroll heroics. Every wave felt as if it took ages to die compared to the way people AoE them down in heroic mode, and uh, Meathook himself? He's that guy that dies in twenty seconds or so, right? Well, when he's level eighty-two and your tank isn't even eighty, things start to look slightly different. I tried to stay close to the boss to avoid his chains, but still got hit by them eventually and the tank died during the duration of the stun. Good times.
I got a chiding for this as expected, defended myself by saying that the tank died while I was stunned, and we moved on without further comment. I guess the tank didn't really care for my explanation but decided to graciously forgive me this once. On our next try I didn't get stunned by the chains once and we managed to down him, which then enabled us to stumble through a few more waves of trash (with tanking still being very sloppy).
"I hate zombies," the hunter commented after a while. "Yeah, they look like my mother-in-law," was the warlock's response. And no, I'm not making this up. I tried to screenshot it but for some reason I currently can't seem to take screenshots in WoW. Anyway, by this point I was laughing so hard that my boyfriend asked me what was going on.
Maybe the laughter made me lose my focus or what, I don't know, either way one of the next waves contained an abomination that hit the tank pretty hard (though in fairness not so hard that he should have died), other mobs were all over again and I frantically failed to target things correctly, so we wiped again. Under different circumstances I might have apologised, but considering the tank's overall performance so far, I didn't feel like doing any public self-flagellating over one mistake from my side. The tank left without another word anyway.
My boyfriend had been looking over my shoulder for a few minutes by this point, and offered to tank the rest of the instance for me on his paladin. Getting a bit tired of waiting for yet another failtank, I agreed. So we got an uber raid tank and sailed through the rest of the instance without a hitch (if a bit slowly still due to rather low dps).
Until we came to Market Row... and realised that we had lost Arthas somewhere on the way. He hadn't died or anything, it's just that nobody had talked to him after we reached the gauntlet and he was still standing where we left him, twiddling his thumbs.
So me and the hunter ran back, my boyfriend stayed where he was, I don't know what the other two dps did... all I know is that I ended up feeling very foolish soon afterwards, since a rogue from our guild who had once made a similar experience had actually warned me that this would happen - in short, we talked to Arthas to get him going and the entire gauntlet respawned at once, while our party was spread out over the whole area. Needless to say that we went splat very quickly and very painfully, as not even our overgeared paladin tank managed to survive the onslaught of the entire gauntlet at once without a healer.
We did finish the instance in the end, but I guess it was a good lesson in some ways: no matter how silly you think your fellow puggers are acting, that doesn't mean that you can't still top their foolishness.
Also, after that experience I ended up getting Culling about three times in a row as my random heroic. I still enjoy it, but now it also makes me twitch slightly.