My Raiding History, Part 2: The Burning Crusade

The Burning Crusade hadn't been out long when I rolled a troll priest on a different server. The raiding friend I mentioned in my previous post had abandoned his alt in order to return to his home server and tackle the new raid content with his guild, and my levelling partner had rolled up a tauren druid there to join them. There was a certain amount of peer pressure on me to go along.

Like I said previously, my adventure in AQ hadn't really left me with any particular urge to raid, but I missed the company, especially as our little group of friends that had formed on Alliance side started to fracture and people were around less and less. Seeing things from the Horde's point of view while having some company didn't seem like such a bad option in comparison. And I wasn't really committed to anything.

Being a (relatively) lone leveller in a raiding guild, I didn't have a lot of interactions with my new guildies, but they did seem nice enough in chat, and a couple of them did take a liking to me and helped me out by boosting my priest through some dungeons. I remember getting pretty much all the caster drops from Shadowfang Keep for example.

I also remember a guildie who had rolled and levelled a pally for the guild (new to the Horde back then) running me through Razorfen Kraul and then using Divine Intervention on me at the end. I had never seen that ability before and was wondering whether he was doing something similar to a hunter's Feign Death. When I realised that he had literally killed his character for the sake of a laugh it absolutely blew my mind. I started to become fond of these silly people.

Just as I got close to the level cap, there appeared to be some minor guild drama - I was still too far removed from these things to really know what was going on, but the result was that the old guild/raid leader and some of his friends left the game, supposedly to start playing Lord of the Rings Online instead, which they thought was going to be so much better than WoW. It's the sort of thing that can really cripple a guild - but this one made it out fine. The new guild and raid leader was very good at what he did and determined to mould the guild into a raid force to be reckoned with. And moulding is definitely something it needed.

I think the first raid I joined may have actually been Gruul's Lair, since unlike Karazhan it didn't require an attunement (plus the scaling up from 10- to 25-man meant that there was more of a need for additional warm bodies to fill out the raid). I think it's hard to comprehend for people nowadays just how extremely clueless we all were - not just me, but most people in the guild. In the context of Classic people often mention how things were different back in Vanilla because players didn't have all those resources in the form of guides etc. and at the start of BC that was definitely still true to some extent as well.

This was particularly evident on Gruul himself, who was an extremely easy fight mechanically but involved a bit of a dps check... that we failed time and time again. Many of these people had been raiding casually throughout Vanilla, but in most of the Vanilla raids dps just outright wasn't required. Questions such as how to optimise one's gear or rotation hadn't even crossed people's minds. The raid leader had to tell us to shape up and threatened that people would no longer get invited if they couldn't hit at least 500 dps. This wasn't a particularly high requirement even back then, but for many of us it was still a challenge. I felt motivated to prove myself though, and started to work on things such as improving my gear and achieving my hit cap (also a new concept, as hit rating wasn't even displayed on Vanilla character sheets, even though it existed as a stat).

I also got into Karazhan eventually. Getting attuned wasn't really a problem as there were always people happy to help others through the required dungeons. The bigger challenge was to balance two to three 10-man teams with the consideration of 25-man progression - something of which I was blissfully oblivious at the time, as my involvement was limited to showing up when I was told to, but in hindsight it must have been one hell of a headache for leadership.

Karazhan was another place that taught me a lot of lessons. Again, most of the bosses were laughably simplistic compared to many fights today, but keeping in mind that many of us had little to no clue about anything it was just what we needed. Attumen the Huntsman taught people to watch their threat or die. Moroes taught people to apply, re-apply and respect crowd control... or die. Maiden of Virtue taught healers to keybind their cleanses so they could hit them quickly enough to save people's lives... or they would die. And so on and so forth. I wrote about my memories of Karazhan in a bit more detail previously.

I was having a good time, learning things alongside my guildies, killing new bosses and getting a lot better at the game. People were always happy to have me in their group because shadow priests were this strange new thing that hadn't really been considered viable in Vanilla but was suddenly extremely useful to have around. And we just got along well too. Looking back at screenshots I took during that time, I ended up capturing a lot of silly banter in guild chat.

We cleared Karazhan, Gruul's Lair, and eventually Magtheridon's Lair (even if getting that damn cube clicking right wiped us way too many times). We were somewhat behind the curve, meaning that by the time we were ready to enter Serpentshrine Cavern and The Eye, the attunement requirements for them had been removed (though some of us still did the quests for laughs). That didn't make our journey any less meaningful though, and while there was some turnover in the roster obviously (my former levelling partner left to join a more progressed guild for example), we continued to go from strength to strength. It was a bit of a blow when our combined guild and raid leader suddenly lost interest in the game seemingly overnight, but by then our momentum was so strong that someone with a less powerful personality was able to take over and keep the show running anyway.

We killed Lady Vashj and Kael'thas, and started working on Mount Hyjal and Black Temple (also after their attunements had become non-mandatory). When Zul'Aman came out, a mage friend made it a personal goal to build a hand-picked 10-man team that would practice the instance until we could successfully complete the "bear run" - a timed challenge that would result in a unique mount reward for one person - and I was one of his picks because I was his friend and just that good by then. Beating that challenge as a team was probably the height of my WoW raiding career. I also wrote a post about that before.

We never made it into Sunwell, but didn't really care much at the time either. That instance felt like something that Blizzard had kind of tacked on at the end to keep the super hardcore busy - after all, Illidan was the real end boss of the expansion, right? We were working on Mother Shahraz in Black Temple when the Wrath of the Lich King pre-patch applied a blanket nerf to all raids, but fortunately it didn't completely remove all challenge from the last few bosses. It wasn't quite the same when we finally killed Illidan, but we were still proud and felt that we had finished the expansion on a high note.

Things were about to change, however... (to be continued)

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