I decided to revive yet another one of my Alliance characters, namely my night elf druid who has been hovering around the late Outland levels for ages. She had no talents when I first logged on, but gear for several different roles was packed in her bags so I specced her feral and decided to do some randoms as a tank.
After tanking Sethekk Halls for the third time in a row (not on the same day, I'm not that insane), I ended up with three people staying in the party and asking me if I wanted to do another run. Since I did fancy it and had actually had a pretty long queue beforehand (as a tank, what is the world coming to) - an experience I wasn't too keen on repeating - I agreed. After some discussion we decided to queue for one of the old level seventy instances at random. We ended up in the Mechanar.
I knew that it would be challenging because we were all one to three levels below seventy, but I also felt a pleasant wave of nostalgia wash over me immediately. I had run the Mechanar so many times back in the day, first for Sha'tar rep, then for people wanting Sun Eaters, then again for badges of justice. I knew every pull, I knew every patrol, I knew which mobs had to die first, I knew which special abilities to watch out for - and it was good because I don't think anyone else did, and they appreciated me confidently taking the lead and explaining things.
My healer was a night elf priest who said that it was first time doing this instance and who had no visible heirlooms, but from the way he played I got the impression that he wasn't really new to the game either. He apologised all the time when people died, even if it wasn't his fault at all, which made me very sympathetic towards him. I don't think healers should beat themselves up too much over people dying (regardless of whose fault is is actually), but I have this theory that all really good healers at least go through a phase where they feel that they should be able to save everyone, all the time, and feel bad if they can't pull it off. Be grateful when you get a healer like that; you know their heart's really in it.
Our mage was in the same guild as the priest and didn't talk much, but I found him likeable for the simple quality of being what I'd consider an "old-school mage", meaning that he had about half as much health as everyone else and ended up hugging the floor a lot, while being completely stoic about it and never saying a bad word. I love me a mage who knows his place. (/joke)
Then there was the dps warrior, who was a bit of a numpty to be honest - needing on everything he could use in any way, always dpsing the mobs from the front or body-pulling things by accident... but we couldn't really hold it against him, because he was also friendly, patient, and genuinely enthusiastic about kicking boss butt.
Lastly we had a hunter from my server, who was also clearly a bit inexperienced, as it turned out when she wanted to know how to display statistics about damage done and so on and I struggled to explain the concept of addons to her. She was clearly still learning and her pet wasn't always attacking what it should, but overall she was very well-behaved and did her job.
So our little group ventured into what used to be endgame in Burning Crusade, while being one to three levels too low for it really. When Gatewatcher Iron-Hand "raised his hammer menacingly" both the warrior and the hunter got mashed into a pulp, leaving just the level sixty-seven mage to slowly whittle away at the mini-boss's health. After a while the healer asked if we should just give up and try again, especially as he was running out of mana, but I managed to throw him an innervate and we successfully pulled through. I was proud.
We had one wipe on Capacitus as the healer ran out of mana and I didn't think of trying to innervate him until it was too late. I promised that I'd do better on the next try, and he said that he'd make an effort to heal with more mana efficiency. In the end he didn't even need that innervate. Everyone complimented him on his healing and he was positively glowing.
We killed Gyro-Kill for the second piece of the legion key - I was worried that we might be in trouble if people from different servers looted the two halves, but fortunately one went to me and the other to the hunter, so we had no problem trading them. Just out of curiosity though, does anyone know if they adjusted this for the cross-server LFG? I know they made adjustments for the item to summon Ironaya in Uldaman, but I don't know if anyone remembered to do this for the Mechanar as well, considering it probably sees less traffic than Uldaman these days.
Nethermancer Sepethrea was as much of a bitch as I remember her being in the old days. Our first attempt was pretty good though, with us getting her to about twenty percent before we wiped. Just as we were about to pull her again, the warrior suddenly needed to go AFK because his girlfriend was on the phone. Now, this is the kind of thing that can easily be annoying for everyone in the group, especially in a pug, but as it was I felt incredibly laid-back and patient. We were all in this together, working together, fighting together, communicating... it's funny how quickly you can become more understanding of people's little quirks and flaws if you're only sufficiently invested in the group itself. Unfortunately invested is exactly what many people aren't in heroic pugs these days, and that's why you get all these rage-quits and demands for kicks as soon as someone does as much as look funny.
Anyway, so our warrior was practically AFK. He was still bouncing around however, which confused our priest, but by the warrior's own admission he was only doing that randomly while holding the phone in his other hand. I couldn't suppress a wry grin at the thought of the kinds of things I tend to do on the PC while talking to my mother on the phone and going "mm-hmm", "yes, Mum" and "really" at irregular intervals - let's just say that I could relate. Eventually the warrior told us to just pull without him. I was getting bored enough to give four-manning it a try, but the warrior doomed us when his random bounces led him into the next tunnel and triggered the first wave of the gauntlet mid-boss fight. Again this could have been massively annoying, but somehow we just laughed it off.
I think we had one more wipe after that, but eventually we got her down and much cheering was heard across the land. Seriously, you'd have thought we downed a raid boss or something. She dropped Stellaris (which the warrior needed of course) and someone commented: "An axe?! How anticlimatic."
We managed to get through the gauntlet reasonably well, until I missed a mob running loose within all the AoE on the last wave, and everyone but me and the hunter died. I tried to res people up quickly but Panthaleon was already coming for us, so we made a run for the elevator to reset him. Just like old times! The actual boss kill was a piece of cake in comparison.
Even though it was a pug that included lots of wipes, that run left me feeling extremely happy and satisfied. It was nice to feel somewhat challenged in an instance again. We didn't go as far as using crowd control, and some abilities being more powerful these days than they were in Burning Crusade was very noticeable (I remember when it was impossible to expect a tank to pick up Panthaleon's adds... nowadays one swipe at the right moment will pretty much do the trick), but it still felt much more engaging than most WOTLK instances do these days. So many abilities to watch out for, so many pulls that require care... sometimes I think my longing for the good old BC days isn't just nostalgia. As far as mechanics go, it seems to me that the instances really were more interesting and challenging a lot of the time, because they still play differently these days, even as you AoE things instead of focus-firing.
And of course, the camaraderie. I had almost forgotten how much fun it could be to actually bond with a bunch of strangers, to chat, laugh and work on a challenge together, as opposed to just being grouped up for what might as well be random mob grinding for how engaging it is.
I think I'll stay in Outland for a little longer.