Classic WoW & Me in 2020

Last year I ended the year with a sort of summary post listing all my characters and the progress they'd made since launch. I thought it would be nice to do the same thing this year to see how much things have changed over the course of 2020.


And boy, have they ever changed! I already suspected at the end of 2019 that I would probably make some more alts, but I could not have foreseen just how different my character roster would end up looking a mere year later. My first night elf was originally just supposed to be a little distraction but soon ended up taking up more and more of my time, to the point that my Horde characters were more or less abandoned and forgotten. Me joining an Alliance guild in summer only sealed the deal.


  • Level 60 Hunter
  • 26 days, 18 hours played
  • 300 Skinning, 300 (Dragonscale) Leatherworking, 300 Cooking, 300 Fishing, 300 First Aid

I seriously could not have predicted that the little nelf I started playing late one rainy January night would end the year as my new main, decked out in full tier two gear and raiding Naxxramas with a guild. The power of social interaction...


  • Level 60 Paladin
  • 9 days, 23 hours played
  • 300 Mining, 272 Weaponsmithing (quest for mace specialisation is in her log but not yet completed), 300 Cooking, 204 Fishing, 300 First Aid

My first Alliance alt, created to get a break from my hunter main, it seems fitting that this one also ended up being my first alt to reach 60. I was additionally motivated by the guild experiencing a shortage of paladin/healer alts during my last stretch of levelling, but of course the moment I hit cap we suddenly seemed to have pally healers coming out of our ears and it's been a bit awkward getting into runs and gathering gear without taking away from other people. A friend in guild has been levelling a tanking alt and I'm now kind of holding out for him to hit 60 as he indicated that we could end up tag-teaming some dungeons for mutual benefit.


  • Level 35 Druid
  • 3 days, 8 hours played
  • 261 Herbalism, 225 Alchemy, 204 Cooking, 169 Fishing, 204 First Aid

I like druids, so of course I had to have a druid alt eventually. I also felt that I needed a herbalist since it seems like everyone has their personal herbalist alt these days to supplement their consumable use. I got her into an alt levelling group with some guildies, which was very fun for about thirty levels but lately progress has stalled as there are never enough people with characters in the right level range online and willing to do a lowbie dungeon, which has been bothering me as I'm really itching to push this character further. I've been wondering whether I could maybe replace her in the levelling group with...


  • Level 31 Mage
  • 2 days, 3 hours played
  • 136 Enchanting, 163 Tailoring, 105 Cooking, 80 Fishing, 150 First Aid

... my mage alt, whom I created pretty much to serve the same purpose as Shinny the troll on Horde side, to make bags and disenchant things. Like Shinny's, her bags are always overflowing, but I do kind of like the idea of continuing to level her, and I have noticed that I find playing mage much more enjoyable in groups than solo.

I also honestly can't remember whether the name was supposed to sound similar to Jaina when I created her or if I had been trying for something else and then ended up replacing letters until I found a name that wasn't taken and the similarity of the final product was merely a coincidence. A guildie told me that "oi jehna" means something like "oh noes" in Finnish, which amused me greatly.


  • Level 18 Priest
  • 17 hours played
  • 111 Mining, 106 Engineering, 116 Cooking, 105 Fishing, 80 First Aid

Yes, I finally created my namesake in game, and as a priest too. I made her a dwarf mainly because I already had two nelves and two humans at that point, less so for Fear Ward. Also, my profession roster needed an engineer. If I feel an urge to take up shadow priesting again in Classic BC, I guess I at least have a starting point.


  • Level 13 Warrior
  • 7 hours played
  • 84 Mining, 47 Skinning, 23 Cooking, no Fishing yet, 59 First Aid

I know warrior was on my "definitely don't want to play" list, but... I've had too many warriors help me out with quests, gleefully smashing through absolutely everything with a speed I can only envy that it's hard not to feel a certain attraction to the class and wonder whether I could maybe make it work too this time. Plus she's a bit of a wink and nudge to the hunter class leader, whose favourite alt is a warrior called Occam.


My poor Hordies on Pyrewood Village are so neglected, I don't think it's even worth going through them all as they basically all look the same as they did at the end of 2019... except for the druid I guess, who did replace at least a few pieces of gear, so here she is:

For the rest, I just logged them all quickly to check their stats and jot down what changed compared to last year. I guess the hunter and druid did see a little bit of play time early in the year, but the other two only really did a bit of crafting.

  • Shika, hunter: +2 days played, +14 Engineering skill points, +11 Cooking (maxed out), +9 Fishing
  • Shilu, druid: +8 levels, +1 day, 11 hours played, +64 Herbalism, +51 Alchemy, +85 Cooking, +77 Fishing, +8 First Aid
  • Shintau, shaman: +2 hours played, +12 Leatherworking, +56 Cooking, +9 Fishing,
  • Shinny, mage: +1 level, +3 hours played, +8 Tailoring, +1 Enchanting, +2 Cooking, +9 First Aid
We'll see where things stand by this time in 2021 - for all we know Classic Burning Crusade could already be out and maybe I'll be raiding Karazhan on a brand-new Draenei shaman! At this point anything seems possible.


Playing the Previous Expansion

While everyone's talking about Shadowlands, I've slowly been making my way through Battle for Azeroth for the last couple of months. As I expected, the endgame didn't really hold my interest on a personal level after hitting 50, but the husband got really into playing retail again so I've been putting some time aside every week to play with him and we've been making our way through the old BfA content together. We're not fully "done" yet, but let me give you a brief overview of my thoughts so far:


The BfA zones are all pretty enough, but I feel like I've rarely had time to look at anything properly as the intended content pacing is quite quick and the husband is always rushing me from one place to the next. I also have mixed feelings about Boralus as the main hub for the Alliance. It's a lovely, sprawling city, and the music there is very catchy, but trying to navigate it on foot does my head in, what with all the weird walls and stairs. I'm not good with three-dimensional cities. (Though I heard the Horde capital is even worse.)

Base Quests

I liked the three Alliance zones well enough. The side quests were mostly easily digestible fast food that entertained in the moment but was quickly forgotten afterwards, but the overarching storylines were more engaging. I really loved the story of poor Lucille Waycrest: There's a young woman who's had absolutely everything go wrong in her life and yet is still going strong. The story arc focused on Jaina and her family was also very touching. Blizzard's writing (rightly) gets accused of often feeling like characters only take certain actions because the plot demands it, not because it really makes sense for them to do so, but this was a good example that shows that their writers are capable of character-driven storytelling if they really put their minds to it.

War Campaign / Ongoing Story

The ongoing story after that has felt a bit... scattered. Coming to the party late, it can be hard to tell in what order certain quests are supposed to be done in, though this isn't a problem unique to WoW. At least they are finally adding indicators for easy identification of the main story quests in Shadowlands from what I've read. It's also my understanding that there are parts of the story that kind of rely on you having played the content for both factions for it to really make sense. I can only guess that's the reason why some plot points seemingly appeared out of nowhere at times.

Nazjatar & Mechagon

These new zones added in the mid-expansion patch were a big deal at the time, but honestly, based on everything I'd heard about them I kind of expected... more. Neither map is particularly exciting, but I like the tone and more open-ended structure of Mechagon much more than the dreary underwater dailies of Nazjatar. When I was dragging my feet particularly badly at one point, the husband decided to acquire the Sandstone Drake mount, which allows him to turn into a dragon and carry me around on his back. This has been very handy as he's already unlocked flying in BfA while I haven't. As he whisks me away over various obstacles in Nazjatar in particular, I can only imagine how unbearably annoying that zone must have been to deal with on foot. 

There's also this mechanic in Nazjatar where you level up some bodyguard companions that accompany you during your questing, but this seemed like a terribly wasted opportunity to me. While you get some different dailies based on your companion choice, the quests don't really have any logical connection to that companion so it feels like just another layer of randomisation.

World Quests

I had no first-hand experience with world quests before BfA, since they were introduced in Legion and I hadn't played retail since MoP. From hearing other people talk about them though, I'd kind of assumed that they were similar to dynamic events in other MMOs. Very wrong! As it turns out, world quests are just like regular daily/repeatable quests, only you don't have to remember where to go since they are shown on the map, and you don't have to find and talk to any quest givers as they'll basically yell at you as soon as you're in the vicinity and the objectives appear on your tracker automatically. You never have to worry about doing hand-ins either as everything just auto-completes. In a nutshell, they are like regular quests but for people with short attention spans and bad planning skills. I kind of fail to see what was considered so revolutionary about this.

Borrowed Power Systems

Unlike when Legion turned into BfA, Blizzard didn't actually get rid of the expansion's big power systems this time around, so the Heart of Azeroth and Azerite continue to be a thing. Once we started on Nazjatar we also unlocked essences, and I'm guessing corruptions won't be far behind (unless those were removed). On a casual level, none of these actually feel too bad, and the Azerite rewards from questing have been sufficiently generous that my Heart is already past the effective max-level of 80. It does however all feel incredibly unnatural and bolted-on. I joked about the whiplash I got from being summoned by Magni the moment I hit level 50, but this only continues as you progress through the story as you keep getting sent back to the Chamber of the Heart for NPC exposition about why you should care about this or that new upgrade. So my totally-not-expert opinion is that maybe people would have hated all this stuff less if it had made more sense in terms of the game world instead of feeling like you're being pulled out of the overarching storyline in order to do homework, but what do I know.

Warfronts & Island Expeditions

Two of BfA's major features, yet nobody seemed to care about them much from what I could gather. They weren't exactly hated, people just found them boring and couldn't really be bothered. I did each one twice and can only concur after that experience. Island expeditions are just a random rounding up of mobs and clicking on stuff on the ground in an instance, exactly the same way you would do in the open world. Warfronts felt like they had some depth that could potentially be intriguing if you actually took the time to learn how everything works, similar to the side quests in old Alterac Valley, but with no real threat or fear of losing there isn't much incentive to perform and I basically just ran around exploring most of the time until the match was over and I got kicked out.


WoW being WoW, there have been quests sending us to dungeons. The first of these was for Freehold, which we did with three pugs through the dungeon finder. We promptly got grouped with some guy who kept yelling at the husband and called him an idiot for pulling an extra trash group or something (it wasn't even clear what was getting him so worked up as we weren't having any issues). After that I refused to pug more. The husband was actually less offended by the whole experience than I was and kept saying that it didn't matter, but I say there are so many more fun things to do both in this and other MMOs than put up with that kind of crap. The husband ended up coaxing two of our SWTOR guildies into trying the game, and with how quick and easy it is to level nowadays they were soon drafted into helping us out with our dungeons quests. (I filled the fifth spot with various people from my existing friends list.)

Most of these runs were fine, if easy. Then we had to do Siege of Boralus, which is only available on heroic difficulty. Now, my understanding was that heroic is still supposed to be relatively easy as there are still several steps above it in the form of mythic and M+ but we found it quite a struggle and wiped a lot. The last boss fight in particular, where you have to run around and nuke down different types of tentacles while also staying out of bad stuff, took us quite a few tries. We got there in the end and felt quite accomplished to be honest, but at the same time we were also exhausted from what was supposed to have been a fairly easygoing and casual dungeon run. I don't know if it's just that we didn't have enough of a clue, were undergeared, or maybe we're just all bad players based on modern WoW's standards. (Edit: Just today we four-manned Operation Mechagon and didn't have nearly as many issues there, so maybe it was just that dungeon.)


Despite of having been given some quests telling us to do the BfA raids, we haven't done any of the them so far, as LFR is locked to the new max-level. I don't know if there's even a way to see the BfA raid content now if you aren't able to outlevel it to the point of being able to solo it. But eh.


Fresh Classic Server Rumours Abound

Ever since the leaked Blizzard survey about Classic Burning Crusade from March, a lot of Classic players have pretty much taken it for granted that Classic TBC is bound to happen, even though nothing's officially been confirmed by Blizzard. The big unknowns are "just" how the transition to the expansion is going to be handled and how "original Classic" will continue to be maintained.

Apparently Blizzard themselves aren't entirely sure yet... because this week people started talking about another survey going out, this one trying to get a feel for how many people would want to focus on TBC over Classic... and not just any form of Classic, but new servers starting from the ground up.

There's no denying that the concept of such progression servers is a popular one. Everquest has managed to make an art form out of it, and let's not forget that Everquest's Holly Longdale joined the WoW Classic team earlier this year, so she's probably been sharing details about just how well this stuff works with Blizzard by now.

The WoW private server scene also has a history of getting very hyped up about the release of a new server, leading to it being flooded on launch day before the population invariably drops off again. That said, with private servers this tends to be at least partially a result of the practical realities of that scene, which is that servers are prone to shutting down after a couple of years, meaning that players are more or less forced to start over repeatedly if they want to keep playing and have to accept that their characters are only ever going to be ephemeral.

Keeping all that in mind, I suppose it's no surprise that there've been calls for Classic to have fresh servers every so often almost from the beginning. I've not been a big fan of this myself, because it doesn't really match my own play style. Sure, I can absolutely appreciate the appeal of starting over on a new character, maybe even on a new server... but I don't need everyone else to do so with me at the same time. Also, I was not a huge fan of the ephemeral nature of private servers when I played on them - questions of legality aside, for me it's been a major appeal of Classic that it offers stability, with me knowing that my characters won't just disappear in the foreseeable future and that I have time to level at my own pace, not just a main but also alts. I get the impression that the biggest proponents of progression servers are fairly hardcore players who view everything as a bit of a race, "complete" the content fairly quickly and then just want to start over again to do better next time.

Now, the Blizzard survey doesn't confirm that we'll get Classic progression servers, it just kind of throws them out there as an option to gauge people's reactions. It also pits Classic TBC and progression servers directly against each other, forcing you to choose one or the other, so there isn't e.g. an option to say that you'd like to just keep playing Classic on your existing server. A community member created a copy of the survey in Google forms so that we as players can also get an idea of what sort of data Blizzard might be getting from this. You can take the survey here if it's still open by the time you read this, or go straight to the results page.

The community copy of the poll does somewhat affirm my suspicion that while there absolutely is an audience interested in the concept of fresh start servers, it would be a mistake to think that this includes the majority of players, as even when completed by a fairly hardcore audience of people that follow out-of-game developments about Classic, only about ten percent of respondents state that they'd make a new progression server their main focus in the game. (At the time of me writing this, the Google version of the survey has received a little over 4k responses.)

You could say: Well, what's the problem? It doesn't have to appeal to the majority of players to be viable; why not just launch a couple of fresh Classic servers for those who like them?

I suppose I'm not completely against that, but what does rub me the wrong way about the whole concept of adding Classic progression servers is that it would introduce the idea of planned obsolescence to Classic. You can't just keep adding new servers when the player base isn't constantly growing - you'll just spread the number of players thinner and thinner until you're forced to merge servers again.

You could argue that this is likely to happen anyway if/when Classic TBC comes out, but the point is that I still think that it's something that should be avoided where possible, not actively encouraged. Retail WoW doesn't have to deal with any of this stuff because almost everything is cross-server nowadays, but this has also led to a decline in things like server identity and community. Bringing those things back was one of Classic's stated goals, which is why it has a more old-school server structure to begin with. If the populations of some servers fall below the point of being viable and would benefit from being merged, so be it - but to put it simply: Personally I don't want to see my server's integrity suffer because Blizzard is syphoning off players to start over on a new server just for the sake of it.


Level 60 Paladin

Last week I hit level 60 in Classic for the third time. In what's not much of a shocking twist, my third character to reach this milestone isn't actually the same as the third one to hit 40 (which was my Horde druid) but rather the paladin alt that I created in June. For once I managed to catch the flashy level-up animation in all its glory too - here she is, hitting the level cap from handing in a quest in Felwood.

This time I haven't even really started on Winterspring yet, nor on Eastern Plaguelands for that matter. Despite of paladins having a reputation for being slow levellers, she got to the cap about ten hours faster than my hunter main (which is almost exactly nine days /played in total) - I suspect this is partially because she spent more time being rested, but also because I spent less time bimbling about randomly.

Looking at the screenshots I took during this one's levelling journey it's very apparent what a dramatic shift occurred in the way I play once I joined a guild. Before that I was kind of struggling to find a reason to keep playing - having levelled to cap on both factions I had rediscovered all the zones and refreshed my memories of (most of) the quests, so there wasn't really much left to stimulate my inner explorer.

However, as I refocused on playing with other people, dungeon runs and other group content became more meaningful to me and I ended up taking shots of memorable pugs rather than of me doing a particular quest for the third time.

Anyway, as is becoming a tradition for me here, some shots of Sarelle the paladin on her way to 60:

The first shot I ever took of her, fresh out of Northshire Valley.

Here she is, handing in a timed quest in Loch Modan with literally mere seconds to go. I had somehow managed to start it at the most awkward time when a bunch of other people had just been through and had already killed seemingly all the buzzards in the area. Felt good when I made it though.

Watching Verigan's Fist being crafted - that was a special day that got its own post here.

Sarelle escorting Corporal Keeshan with a friendly warrior - another great day that got its own post.

Hiding from Stitches in Duskwood as she was way too ickle to take him on at that point.

An action shot of Sarelle tanking the Stockades. One thing I love about paladins and druids in Classic is how they can literally slip into any of the three trinity roles while levelling without having to respec (even if their performance obviously won't be optimal). I stopped tanking soon after as I just didn't feel that confident in my performance with the lack of a taunt, but I continue to keep a few pieces of tanking gear in Sarelle's inventory to this day - you never know...

At around this point was the biggest break/slow-down in Sarelle's levelling journey, as this was when I joined the guild and playing my main suddenly became that much more interesting again, what with raiding and so on. I wasn't quite sure where an alt fit into that now. Here I somehow ended up in a Scarlet Monastery pug though.

Another Scarlet Monastery run (the thirties are long, okay?) ended up being very memorable for featuring two guildies and two pug paladins, one of whom had a Ravager and a macro to yell "Blades of Light!" like Herod. (The joys of being on an RP server!) We started off conservatively with the graveyard and library, but things went so well that we ended up doing both the armoury and cathedral as well, despite of being somewhat underlevelled for the latter in particular.

Eventually I slid into a sort of routine of selectively choosing some favourite zones to quest in when fully rested and waiting for an LFG request of the appropriate level to pop up. The view of old Dalaran never gets old to me.

I also learned that some of my guildies were big altoholics and got to know some of them better during alt runs. Here I was in Razorfen Downs with the priest class leader tanking on his druid alt and trying to get his girlfriend's priest levelled up since he wanted her to get into the game too.

Moody shot of rain in Desolace.

The glorious free horse moment for the level 40 paladin.

Doing the Stromgarde elite quests in Arathi with a pug.

There was one quest left in that lot that I had trouble finding a group for (it was the end of a chain) and I got into a sort of funk about having that and the elite quests in Alterac Mountains clog up my quest log. I didn't quite want to abandon them either; I just wanted to get them done! Eventually I bit the bullet and accepted some help from the hunter class leader, who showed up on his warrior alt and smashed the place to bits. I actually hate asking for help with stuff like this, but sometimes it's really good to have friends.

Uldaman with two guildies and two pugs. This was one of the rare occasions when a dungeon pug joined us on Discord voice chat as well, and it turned out that he was the alt of the raid leader of another guild that we're kind of friendly with.

Here I am healing Maraudon at the very, very low end of the level bracket for that dungeon. I wasn't sure I was going to be good enough but the guildie who invited me along thought it was going to be fine. It was the priest class leader on his druid alt again and he heartily approved of my healing performance, which made me feel all warm and fuzzy.

Postcard from Zul'Farrak (which I ended up fully pugging twice).

Now this screenshot commemorates the somewhat bizarre occasion of my pally being gifted an epic BoP axe that she couldn't even equip yet due to being too low-level... for no particular reason. The guild mistress just popped up on Discord one day to say that she was in a cleared Dire Maul tribute run with an epic axe in the chest and whether anyone wanted it. I happened to be online and spoke up of course, but it was still weird. The dwarf in the picture was the hunter who (I think) cleared the run entirely on his own - he's in the server's top raid group. I actually ended up playing with him on a later occasion and his pet micro-management skills are awe-inspiring. I felt like a favoured student being given a boost.

As I got into the right level range for Blackrock Depths, I kept an eye out for BRD pugs to get started on my Onyxia attunement. I ended up joining a group that advertised for "the early bosses" but then we ended up being so awesome, we actually did a full clear of the instance (yes, really, the whole thing) and got the entire BRD part of the Ony attunement done as well. I think this was because it turned out that our entire pug was basically alts of raiders from five different guilds and we all wanted to get our alts ready to raid as well, hah.

Here I am healing UBRS at level 58 to complete my Ony and BWL attunements. I'd already been on an UBRS run before that at level 52, when I was utterly useless but I guess people took me along... because? Having connections leads to being oddly priviledged that way!

Finally, Sarelle healing a Scourge invasion in Blasted Lands - she ended up getting about halfway/two thirds from level 59 to 60 that way, clearing out literally the entire zone with a friendly farming group. (After the initial rush, interest in these has dropped a lot and anyone wanting to farm them gets them largely to themselves.) She also hit honoued with the Argent Dawn already, before even hitting the level cap. Naxxramas calls...


Classic Players on Retail

I'm still logging into retail occasionally but somewhat irregularly. There might be a couple more posts worth of content in that at some point, plus the husband is also threatening to gift me Shadowlands for Christmas, which he's been playing and enjoying.

The subject of the expansion has been an interesting one to observe in my Classic guild. A few weeks before its release, someone asked in the general chat channel on Discord whether people were planning to play it and the responses were more or less a mix of lukewarm "I might go and check it out just for the story" reactions and staunch Classic fans declaring that they were done with retail and weren't planning to ever go back. Except for that one officer who was hyped to get fairy wings and pre-ordered the Shadowlands collector's edition and was promptly made fun of.

However, once the launch day came around, it turned out that somewhat more people were interested than had originally spoken up, at least based on Discord's little status messages about what people were playing and general commentary. My impression is that people prefer to keep it on the down-low if they play retail as well, due to the generally more negative skew of publicly expressed opinions about the modern game in guild.

That said, even if they do play and enjoy the story, retail doesn't seem particularly sticky for them and is more treated like a single-player game that they dip into every now and then. Anecdotally, one person told me that he ultimately wasn't that impressed with the story ("here I am, the great hero, on cleaning duty") and another seemed to drop the whole thing like a hot potato while stating that everything was too fast and confusing for him.

The latter point was really driven home one night in November when I logged onto Discord in time to listen to several members of the leadership team logging into retail together to scope out the retail version of Naxxramas for some classic Naxx planning. However, as it turned out, one of them didn't have a character of a high enough level to enter the instance (I forget what it is after the squish, 30 or 35 I think). Everyone else assured him that it wasn't a big deal as he was only a couple of levels off and levelling is so fast these days, they were going to get him there in no time!

They started doing some quests in Borean Tundra together, and what followed was a comedy of errors unlike anything I'd ever seen or heard before. I didn't exactly keep a log, but issues that occurred included:

  • Repeated trips to Stormwind to turn Chromie Time on or off to get everyone into the same phase
  • Attempts to level-sync the party resulting in quests suddenly disappearing and becoming unavailable
  • When they finally got the party sync to work correctly, the result was that the one quest they had just managed to complete in the chaos became available to do again
  • When someone meant to temporarily leave the group they instantly vanished into thin air as the game decided to put them into a different cross-realm zone or whatever they're called now

The poor guy trying to level - who is one of the kindest and gentlest souls I know - became increasingly frustrated and even started considering buying a level boost purely to get out of this predicament, while simultaneously complaining that maybe this was Blizzard's business strategy now: to make levelling so confusing and annoying that people just boost to get away from it. (I think he was at least partially joking about that, but he was genuinely pissed off to a degree I'd never seen before.)

I asked why they weren't just running him through a couple of dungeons since there were five of them and that seemed to be a bit of a lightbulb moment. After some additional UI wrangling with the dungeon finder they ended up doing Azjol-Nerub together, which gave the lowbie enough XP to tick him over the threshold from what I remember.

It just made me glad to know that I'm not the only one who finds retail WoW confusing and that in fact I haven't got it quite so bad. Overall it just doesn't feel like retail is very welcoming to returning players that haven't played in a few expansions, even if they want to give it a chance.


Slay the Undead or Be Slain by Them

Sooo... Naxx is out and the undead are invading. What have I been up to?

I mentioned previously that I'd bought the materials to buy the raid attunement at honoured level with the Argent Dawn, but I'd heard that the Scourge invasion event was pretty good for reputation so I wanted to give that a go before actually completing the attunement quest. It wasn't really as good as I had hoped, but killing the mobs does give reputation until you reach revered, and teaming up with a bunch of guildies the rep gains kept coming in pretty quickly. I ended up grinding like mad with a rotating roster of guildies for about one and a half days until I hit revered, at which point I bought the attunement for a reduced price and was properly pleased with myself.

The next best thing about the whole event was helping out a guildie who plays a priest and who had been very downtrodden about only having just hit honoured, at which point the attunement was still too expensive for him. I coaxed him into coming along to farm invasions and before I knew it he was farming them harder than I was, meaning that he also managed to hit revered and get attuned just in time for our first Naxx run on Monday. That just made me happy in a "knowing I actually made a difference" sort of way.

In general, the event brought back a surprising amount of memories. I always say that I don't recall anything about the much-praised zombie invasion event that occurred in the run-up to Wrath, but floating citadels and mobs dropping runes? I remember seeing those at the end of BC and farming them in Blasted Lands. Funny how people rarely talk about that part of the Wrath pre-expansion event replicating the original Scourge invasion.

Monday night we went to Naxx for the first time and it went... okay-ish I guess? My guildies had all been going nuts farming herbs for potions in the run-up to the patch, especially with an eye on Loatheb, but I was saying to one of the raid leaders that I considered that premature because we definitely weren't going to get to Loatheb on the first night anyway. I was told not to be so pessimistic. If you'd asked me to bet, I would have hazarded that we'd maybe clear the spider wing on our first night and possibly kill Noth as well. Four of the easier bosses out of a total of fifteen seemed pretty reasonable for our level of casualness.

As it turns out though, that estimate was still too optimistic, as we finished the night with only two boss kills under our belt. I guess it's a plus that we avoided dying to the first trash pull (after this hilarious video made us all super paranoid), but Anub'Rekhan still took us five attempts to down, and was then followed by more wipes on Faerlina's trash. The Grand Widow herself was a one-shot, interestingly enough, but then we didn't have that much time left by the time we got to Maexxna and just wiped on her twice before calling it a night.

Tonight we returned to a freshly reset instance. Anub only took two tries this time, but Faerlina was suddenly a major struggle for some reason and we wiped twice before getting her down with only a handful of people left alive. The raid leader decided that since we were somewhat short on healers it was better to try Noth instead of Maexxna, and we got him down on the second try. The rest was more dying to trash.

And.... I don't know how I feel about all of this!

I know I don't quite share the excitement of some officers who seemed to be having the time of their lives, but I didn't exactly have a bad time either. The company was enjoyable as usual and the general mood positive, and I'm not someone who minds wiping (or else I wouldn't be running the endless progression reset treadmill in SWTOR). Frankly, that one time when one spider patrol after another respawned right on top of our heads after we were only just trying to recover from the last one was friggin' hilarious, and our struggle with the gauntlet to Heigan was pretty epic as well.

Buuut... I hope this doesn't come out the wrong way, but I guess I thought we were a little better than this? I suppose since I joined the raid group with AQ40 already on farm I didn't really know what to expect on progression and my expectations were a bit too high. Seeing us wipe so many times on bosses like Anub and Faerlina does make me a bit worried when it comes to the more difficult fights in the instance. Plus I'm not a huge fan of 30-40 gold repair bills per night. Yes, I'll fully admit it: I'm spoiled as a hunter and used to being able to avoid a lot of repairs by using my feign death ability, but the fights in Naxx make it hard. I just don't like the idea of having to start farming purely to keep up with my repairs. Finally, I'm a bit worried about the general health of the raid group - the roster seemed to have recovered to a pretty healthy level a couple of months ago, but lately it's been feeling somewhat anaemic again, leading to us permanently undermanning things, which isn't helpful when it comes to progression either.

Sooo... I guess we'll see how things go from here. One thing that stuck with me was a conversation we had on the way to Maexxna when we were talking about some of the more hardcore guilds on the server putting in crazy hours in order to be able to claim realm firsts, when the guild mistress said that the difference between us and them was that we were used to wiping. This elicited some chuckles, but there is a truth in there in that familiarity and generally being comfortable with wiping makes it less of a problem in a way, whereas in a guild of min-maxers expecting smooth kills it's more likely to create resentment and drama. Looking at how Naxx has been going so far I guess I'll soon find out how resilient the Forks really are.


I've Been Here Before, and Yet

Considering that WoW Classic was a project whose creation was heavily fuelled by nostalgia, it's kind of strange to notice feelings of nostalgia for Classic itself creeping up. Wowcrendor had an interesting video about that earlier this year. I've certainly noticed it myself on occasion, when I think back to those first weeks after launch and adventures such as running the Deadmines as Horde or running my lowbie tauren hunter to Dun Morogh at level 10. The other day I found myself thinking back to Group Therapy's first Thunderfury, on the occasion of Order of the Holy Fork finally getting one too... but let's back up for a moment.

When I started raiding with the Forks, I soon learned that they were somewhat bitter about never having acquired their own Thunderfury. Yes, it's a legendary item that requires rare drops to create, but it's 2020, we all know how it works, and if you keep at it long enough even rare drops are guaranteed sooner or later, right? Well, the Forks had been raiding Molten Core pretty much every week since launch (being a casual guild, I doubt they started on week one; but still, it had definitely been a long time) and still hadn't seen more than one of the two required bindings drop.

When I joined, they weren't raiding Molten Core "properly" anymore but were doggedly going for "binding runs" every week, meaning that twenty-odd people went in after BWL to kill just Garr and Geddon for a chance at a binding, but never with any luck. It didn't seem like the best of experiences... if you actually still wanted a drop from one of the other bosses, you were basically wasting your weekly lockout, and if there wasn't even a chance of anything useful dropping for you anymore... then you were just coming along for the main tank's benefit but still never saw any results for that either.

As these runs became (understandably) less and less popular, they were eventually converted to "community runs", meaning that we'd invite pugs and do the whole instance, only reserving any potential binding drops for our tank. In one of those runs (when I wasn't in the group), a social member who plays a protection paladin was charged with bubble-pulling Garr but forgot to actually bubble himself, meaning that he just ran in and died, much to everyone's amusement. On this of all occasions Garr ended up dropping his binding, which immediately led to the superstition that a paladin sacrifice was clearly the way to go when it came to appeasing the loot gods. It was a fun little thing, but unfortunately still didn't help with the Thunderfury, as Garr's binding was the one we already had, so now we just had two of the same but still no matching set.

Last Friday we were going to MC again, with the sub-headline of it potentially being the last run of this kind with our focus switching to Naxx soon. I'd personally even stopped thinking about the bindings, and while I'm sure the main tank at least hadn't forgotten, it felt like a certain sense of resignation had long settled over everyone on the whole matter, and with it an acceptance that it just wasn't going to happen.

Our pally tank was with us again and offering to sacrifice himself on the pull again but was told that it was fine and that he'd died enough. Then he stood in Geddon's inferno ability and died anyway. ("I'd completely forgot he does the circle thing!") Simultaneously, I got the bomb for the first time ever and ran into the corner to do my little bounce, but since I still had the "increased fire damage" debuff as well I died pretty much at the same time as the pally. When the boss went down only a few seconds later I was momentarily confused why our deaths were eliciting so much joy, but there was of course something else going on: we'd finally had a Geddon binding drop.

We finished MC, killed Onyxia and then proceeded to Silithus to fight Prince Thunderaan. Which brings me back to my point about nostalgia, because as I stood on that little hill in the ravaged Twilight Camp, I thought back to being in that same place with Group Therapy. I later reviewed the video I'd made of the occasion and it's funny how many of the general vibes were the same: making fun of the boss's appearance, joking about how Thunderfury is clearly a hunter weapon, suggesting that it should be enchanted with intellect or spellpower... we're not as original as we think!

However, I did feel very different in one way: I was part of the team this time. I had been excited and happy for Xedos to get his sword as well, and I had contributed my three arcane crystals after all, but ultimately the event didn't manage to bring me any closer to the guild than before; I remained an awkward hanger-on. This time I looked at the characters around me and knew them, to some degree even the people behind them, and knew that I had truly been along for the ride. And it was good. Nostalgia is a powerful force, but the present can still get better.


The Naxx Waiting Room

Back in Vanilla I remember joining an Alterac Valley and seeing people from another server in my raid group that were in a guild called "PVP SUX WHENS NAXXRAMAS". At the time I had no idea what Naxxramas even was, but the odd name with the double x certainly drew my attention, plus I was intrigued by the fact that this was a thing people were apparently waiting for. (Considering that I started playing WoW in late 2006, Naxxramas had actually already been released by that time, but I guess nobody felt the need to petition for a guild name change.)

I was reminded of this when I saw a conversation in the LFG channel the other day in which someone was once again bemoaning the lack of groups for whatever it was they wanted to do, and someone else responded that we were all "in the Naxx waiting room". It certainly seemed like an apt description for how the last few weeks have felt.

You may remember that I wrote about having to prepare for the Naxx release a few weeks ago. In practice... I was already honoured with the Argent Dawn, so I just bought the materials needed to pay for the attunement at that level, sent a few consumable materials to the guild bank and called it a day. It's just not the sort of grind I enjoy.

However, as it turns out a lot of my guildies are the complete opposite. Outside of raids, it's been nothing but "anyone for Scholo" or people farming herbs or ore night after night after night, and it's been a bit disheartening. Of course wanting to be prepared is laudable, and it's not my intent to tell anyone how they should play the game, but while I personally like a good dungeon run, I only do so in moderation and as part of a varied diet, not the same dungeon ten times a week. As a result I haven't been interacting with people as much outside of raids, and it's felt a bit odd. I know I said I could do with some more time to pursue my solo goals, but I didn't mean for things to go completely the opposite way! So I've certainly been feeling like I'm sat "in the Naxx waiting room", waiting for my guildies to return to some sort of normalcy and hopefully have time for some fun adventures outside of raiding again.

I guess it doesn't help that I'm personally not all that excited about Naxx. I mean, I'm sure it'll be cool and exciting to go there with the guild, not to mention that it's full of shiny gear drops, but I'm not part of the demographic for whom playing Classic has been all about achieving that mythical goal of clearing 40-man Naxx because they couldn't do so back in the day. Remember, I didn't plan to raid in Classic at all! I'm sure it'll be interesting to spend two nights a week going there, but I don't care for it seemingly being the centre of everyone's thoughts at all times whenever they're logged in. 

This self-enforced retreat into more solo play to avoid the Scholo farms hasn't been all bad, mind you. It's been a great time to level my alts (especially their trade skills) and have adventures with strangers again. For example there was the time my priest (yes, I finally made a priest in Classic after more than a year) befriended a druid playing under self-imposed hardcore rules in Loch Modan. This meant that they would have to delete the character if they died and weren't allowed to formally group up - but we started chatting in whispers and took turns tagging troggs and killing them together. It ended up being quite an adventure and I received the amazing compliment of: "I don't know why, but I quite like you" afterwards.

Meanwhile my paladin repeatedly healed her way through Uldaman and Zul'Farrak, and my hunter pugged Onyxia and made friends with an orc rogue in Winterspring (limited communication through joint fighting and exchange of emotes is such a beautiful thing). Fortunately there are always interesting things happening in Classic if you know where to look, guild or no.


New Old Levelling

When I fired up retail for the first time in years last month my main goal was to check out the revamped levelling experience, but then our trip to 50 through BfA ended up being so quick that you could blink and miss it, and the husband got all caught up in continuing to play at endgame, so I haven't really been giving the whole levelling thing as much attention as I'd originally wanted to.

However, I've greatly enjoyed reading about both Bhagpuss' and Wilhelm's sometimes very confused experiences with levelling since the level squish, so I thought I should really go back and have another look at it myself as originally planned. So I returned to the random Draenei shaman I created a month ago and continued levelling her through Azuremyst and Bloodmyst Isle.

The Draenei starter zone has been a really interesting place for me to observe the changes, as I'm very familiar with it due to it being one of my favourites, and it's currently the oldest starter zone in the game, dating all the way back to 2007 - minor updates not withstanding (I keep being surprised by how many old and common creatures, such as bears and naga, have received graphical updates since I last played).

I finished Azuremyst Isle at level 15 and Bloodmyst at 27, and it was quite an interesting journey. Bloodmyst in particular used to have a very carefully designed flow, with higher-level quests gradually unlocking as you completed the lower-level ones first. With the new system, I was immediately greeted by a forest of exclamation marks on arrival, as I was instantly eligible for most quests bar a few that are part of chains, and it didn't matter what order I did them in as all the enemies always scaled to my level anyway.

Initially this felt pretty liberating, and I found myself forced to return to town due to the bag space needed to carry all the quest items more than anything else. However, towards the end it actually got a bit annoying as those quests that were parts of chains ended up sending me back and forth all over the place. In the old levelling flow they would have unlocked at just the right time to combine them with other quests of the same level so that you could clear out each area in one go, but this guidance was missing now. (And while I'm very familiar with the zone, it's not as if I had every single quest's original level and order perfectly memorised or anything.)

After the first ten levels or so, combat moved away from the boring "two-shot everything without losing mana or health" model and I actually found myself starting to use different abilities, which was nice! However, I also felt like I was getting weaker as I levelled up, with mobs seemingly taking off larger and larger chunks of my health and forcing me to use my heals more often, which felt less good, especially if it was the same mobs I'd fought before and they'd actually put up less resistance earlier. I guess it didn't help that useful quest rewards were pretty sparse in these zones, meaning that my gear fell pretty far behind after a while.

Still, I only died twice - once to fall damage after a badly judged jump (d'oh), and the second time after my first encounter with a Myst Leecher. I immediately remembered Rohan mentioning that the damage from some bleed abilities felt off to him in the new level scaling, and I can only guess that these spiders' poison falls into the same category as I soon learned that I had to keep spamming heals on myself for the remaining duration of the poison debuff even after the mob was dead. (I don't know how you're supposed to survive these if you don't have self-heals...) Also, this was when I learned that shamans in retail apparently can't cure poisons anymore; FML.

Leaving Blood Watch, I followed the old breadcrumb that gets you in touch with the night elves and used to send you to Auberdine, curious to see what had been done with that, but it just... dies. This huntress tells you that sure, she can send you to Auberdine, and then nothing. However, there are Hero's Call boards everywhere, and I used one of those instead to pick up a breadcrumb to see Chromie. Fortunately there's a portal to Stormwind in the Exodar now, and the guards even point it out if you know how to ask the right questions. I suppose I'll be off to Outland next.

Another subject I just wanted to mention briefly were professions. I noticed that for all the hand-holding the game tries to do in Exile's Reach when it comes to many aspects of the game, any mention of professions is conspicuously absent. I trained skinning, leatherworking and the still available secondaries anyway, but boy is it all a mess. There are different tiers for every expansion now, which makes some sense I guess, but the UI for keeping track of what's what is pretty horrid. I also don't know how you're supposed to farm the right type of skins now as the mobs level with you, so once they are high enough level to drop medium leather, you're just out of luck if you still needed light leather I guess? And here I thought the regular levelling was confusing...


Shadowlands Pre-Expansion Patch

Hey, since I'm currently still dipping my toes into retail I can write about the same stuff as all the cool kids are talking about: the pre-expansion event for Shadowlands.

So far it consists of three parts (though my understanding is that more will be added this week):

Part one has you talking to Genn Greymane in Stormwind and he tells you in the form of a cut scene that King Anduin was abducted by some weird flying creatures. As a sort of afterthought it transpires that other faction leaders were captured as well. It's all a big plot by Sylvanas! I'll admit that I've only been following the storyline of the current expansion from afar, but this all feels kind of ham-fisted and disconnected. I did like how you had the option to trigger additional conversations between the NPCs though if you're interested in that kind of thing (which I am).

Then you get sent off to investigate and deliver some reports about a Scourge invasion in the area, which involves slaying a couple of zombies but doesn't really feel very exciting.

Part two gives you a quest to kill Nathanos Blightcaller at the Marris Stead, where he just happens to hang out, waiting to be attacked. Doing this results in a cool cut scene, though it was a bit weird/buggy for us in a group. The husband and I got separated so he actually got his kill before me, but we were still grouped so I suddenly got thrown into a cinematic while flying over Arathi Highlands. I quickly escaped out of it so that I could watch it again later in the proper context, which fortunately worked. The husband on the other hand never saw the cut scene at all and had to go to YouTube to watch it. I thought that one was pretty neat, even if it involved an NPC kill-stealing from the players once again.

Nathanos also dropped an ilevel 115 weapon, which was more than double the strength of what I had. I'd read somewhere that you could kill him repeatedly if you wanted more than one (e.g. if you were dual-wielding, which my monk is), so returned later for another go but had no luck, as the two additional kills resulted in no loot whatsoever. However, at least this gave me an opportunity to try out the pre-made group finder feature, which was functional but weeeird.

Part three of the event has you flying to Icecrown and doing a couple of dailies there as well as the option to visit a world boss every twenty minutes. (There are twenty different ones on a rotation.) Doing so rewards you with a currency that you can trade in for some catch-up gear, which once again more than doubled my ilevel in those slots.

The most common opinion of the event from what I've seen is that people tend to find it okay but underwhelming. I actually kind of like it though, but then I'm probably not a good judge - once I started thinking about it, I only really remember the Cataclysm pre-expansion event and no others, as I have no memory of taking part in either the BC or Wrath ones.

Anyway, I do wonder whether this isn't intentionally designed to appeal to players coming over from Classic or more generally returning old-school players, because it certainly ticked several boxes for me:

  • Killing Nathanos at the Marris Stead is something Alliance players do in Classic as well, so it's a nice tie-in.
  • It's hard not to get the feels when returning to Icecrown. I always say that Wrath wasn't my favourite expansion and was when things first started to go downhill (in my opinion), but that doesn't mean that I don't have plenty of good memories of that expansion too. The bosses are all revived versions of Wrath dungeon bosses as well, uttering familiar quotes, so there's a lot of "a-ha, I remember you" going on. There's nothing quite like watching Falric fear several dozen players around an Icecrown rampart.
  • I've seen people complain that the twenty minutes between boss spawns are too long/slow, but personally I appreciate the somewhat slower pace. I'm not a completionist who's there to camp all the things, and I agree with Rohan that the timing encourages you to use the bosses to bookend other activities. In general I feel that retail is too much of a rush-rush game these days, but that's a whole different post to be honest.
  • The bosses also actually encourage some friendly community interaction as people will always helpfully share spawn times and locations in general chat (the new map ping system is really cool by the way). People being friendly and helpful to strangers in retail? Perish the thought.


My Rhok'delar Story

It seems I'm on a roll with success stories, and I haven't even posted about my guild finally getting Viscidus down... nonetheless, let's add to the good vibes with this story about me getting to complete a very challenging and fun quest and finally becoming a "real" hunter.

Rhok'delar, Longbow of the Ancient Keepers is an epic hunter bow that can be acquired via a quest chain in Classic. It starts from a drop in Molten Core and requires the hunter to really live up to the class's reputation as a capable soloer, as it involves killing a bunch of elite demons that you have to challenge on your own - without your pet even, and certainly without getting any help from other players.

I'm guessing that back in Vanilla, seeing a hunter with Rhok was impressive and made that person stand out as someone who really knew their stuff. In Classic... not so much, as years of study and optimisation have not just led to a number of guides being written, but also to the discovery of some very what I'd call "cheesy" strats - not literal exploits perhaps, but ways of using the terrain in such a manner that it basically completely circumvents the demon's intended mechanics. A social hunter in my guild told me that it was basically super easy now, and any noob could complete the quest even in greens if they followed the right tactics.

Considering that I started Classic raiding when I did and got lucky with the crossbow drop in Blackwing Lair, I kind of circumvented the whole issue anyway... but I have to admit it kept nagging at me a little. Getting that bow still felt like a sort of coming-of-age ritual for a raiding hunter, and it was so ubiquitous as well! Literally everyone who'd ever brought a hunter alt to raids seemed to have the damn thing. Even as some of the other hunters told me that it didn't matter since the crossbow was better anyway, my personal pride was dented. How would I ever know if I was a "real" hunter if I never did that quest?

Cue a social Molten Core run last Friday. My main mission on the evening was to collect some lizard hands, and while part of me was still hoping to maybe get the Ancient Petrified Leaf one day, I'd also kind of made my peace with probably never getting it, especially as our Molten Core runs are "community runs" with pugs and open rolling. I figured there was probably always going to be some newbie hunter in there, and I couldn't abide the thought of potentially taking the bow away from someone for whom it was actually an upgrade, pug or no.

Well, as it happened the leaf dropped and nobody else wanted it. Even better, when we did Onyxia right afterwards, the sinew for the bowstring dropped as well! (I remember some guildies taking ages to get theirs...) Well, that was clearly a sign. I didn't immediately run off to get started on the quest as I had other priorities that evening, but I was on a mission now.

Two days later I visited the Ancients in Felwood and read the Wowhead guide covering the quest chain to give myself an idea of what I was up against. (I was hoping to do the fights "properly" to actually test my skills instead of relying on terrain exploits or anything like that.) I noted that there were several mentions of having to go into melee and wanting to have maxed-out weapon skill in your melee weapon, plus that a big two-hander was preferrable to dual-wielding for these quests. So I decided to start by slowly killing some furbolgs in Felwood with my Zin'rokh (really glad I greed-rolled on that in my last ZG run now) but I didn't even manage to get a dozen kills before I got distracted and agreed to join a guild group doing the Fallen Hero of the Horde quest chain instead. It wasn't complete loss however, as I at least raised my two-handed sword skill from 216 to 260. Later in the evening I killed some more furbolgs and got up to 282.

After that I didn't do anything for several days, until I decided to spend some more time killing furbolgs by meleeing them to death, also in order to hit neutral with the Timbermaw and finally get rid of those two quest totems in my bags. After I'd achieved this, my two-handed sword skill was up to 292, which I deemed sufficient, so I decided to have a go at the first boss, Artorius the Amiable in adjacent Winterspring.

On my first attempt I died pretty quickly - the guide had mentioned a dot that caused "high" shadow damage, but what's "high" exactly? I thought that maybe you'd be able to survive it by chugging a potion or something... let's just say that's not how it works, as the debuff will eat your entire health bar several times over. Despite of that, I found it a very promising attempt, as the boss lost about a quarter of his health even during the short duration of the fight, which I took as a sign that I just had to be more careful.

The guide had suggested that Aspect of the Cheetah should be enough to comfortably stay ahead of the demon, but as that wasn't really my experience I made sure to also use Concussive Shot on cooldown in order to stay at max range at all times. This time he went down right quick! Though he did manage to get the dot on me at the end, which meant that I just about had enough time to loot his head before I died as well. Still, a win's a win!

Emboldened by my success I continued down to Un'goro to meet Simone the Inconspicuous. She patrols quite a large area and to be honest, the most annoying thing was simply finding her and then waiting for her to wander towards the hot springs (which were recommended as the best place to kite her). This one wasn't all that deadly, but very fiddly and involved a lot of feigning and starting over while I was refining my strategy. Things went wrong in a lot of ways, from the pet running into the freeze trap instead of her or getting a resist on the freeze trap, to running out of mana and having both of them catch up with me, or killing the pet too far away from her so that they both simply reset.

Once again patience was a virtue though, and I got it down in the end by once again modifying the recommended strategy and not worrying too much about trying to nuke the pet quickly but instead putting Aspect of the Cheetah on and running in circles for a really long time, as Simone could never catch up that way anyway. When her pet was near death I intentionally slowed down to let her catch up so that she wouldn't reset, and once it was just me vs. her, I chugged a mana potion and the rest was an easy game.

I was hopeful that I'd be able to finish off all the Kalimdor demons in one night, but Nelson the Nice eluded me (somewhat literally). After dying on my first try, the subsequent ones all felt like they were going pretty well overall, but I tended to either run out of mana and health, or the boss decided to reset because I hadn't attacked him in too long after bandaging or being feared.

The next morning I returned with some consumables in my bag, confident that they would be what would tip me over the edge. Spoiler: I just ended up wasting them all. The expensive shadow protection potion I bought was gone after the very first try, where it ate up the damage from one fear, just for me to have the boss evade shortly after. Damn it!

Funnily enough I actually ended up killing him on what I can only call the "famous last try", when I was all out of even basic things like drinks and telling myself that if I didn't get him this time I would have to take another break. Initially I tried to follow a recommendation that involved making use of a nearby ramp to kite the bug swarm he summons in a more manageable manner, but to be honest I only ended up doing worse than the night before that way. On the attempt when I was finally successful I just gave up on trying to control the bugs in any way towards the end and simply ran like hell away from the ramp (they are really slow and won't catch you if you keep running). I got the boss down with a sliver of health left myself and about a million bugs closing in on me, but they were easy enough to reset with a feign.

After a bit of a break I moved on to the last target on the list, Franklin the Friendly in Burning Steppes. I was curious about this one as I'd heard very mixed things about him, some stating that he was the hardest of the lot while the guide I'd read stated the opposite. I'm more inclined to agree with the latter, as the basic tactics are really easy: Scorpid Sting, melee twice, Wing Clip, run away and shoot once or twice until he enrages again, repeat until boss is dead. It's just quite a long fight and the hardest thing is basically sticking to your plan and not getting bored/tempted into trying to get an extra melee attack in before he's about to enrage again, because that almost always goes wrong.

The area where you fight him is the most active of the four demon's spawn areas and I was glad to see that none of the players that passed me by tried to interfere, as that would have killed us both. I was just a bit annoyed when a random mage stopped to stare and whisper me random advice about how I could exploit the fight - I mean, I'm sure it was well intended, but the last thing I needed was some stranger observing and critiquing my performance. I was actually kind of glad when Franklin chose that moment to despawn for a while, as it gave me an excuse to log off.

When I came back later, I got him down on the first try, with the only consumable used being a health potion when I found myself low. This was caused by the one thing that I've seen mentioned in some comments but that wasn't really explained in the guide I read - that if you ever end up using Concussive or Scatter Shot on him, he seems to gain a kind of immunity to the Scorpid Sting debuff for a few seconds, which can mislead you into thinking that it's safe to melee as he's got the sting on, but then he swings once and still takes half your health off.

Anyway, with all four demon heads lopped off I returned to the Ancients in Felwood and got my bow! It was a satisfying and educational experience. Lessons learned:

  • Guides are a good starting point but never be afraid to adjust tactics to something that works better for you
  • I suck at precision kiting but am happy as long as I can keep running forever
  • Nelson the Nice and his bugs can eat poop
  • I'm not entirely sure what's supposed to be so hard about Franklin as playing melee hunter was honestly kind of fun
  • While I was way overgeared, it kind of felt like this mainly negated/reduced the need for consumables, and I think I am in fact a "real" hunter now

Now to see if I can get in on an Azuregos kill for that quiver...