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.