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.


  1. This is why SOE/Daybreak (and now, presumably, EG7) developed the strategy of launching new progression servers at roughly bi-annual intervals. It turns out there are a lot of people who aren't just nostalgic about how the game was 10, 15 or 20 years ago - they're nostalgic about their experience two or three or five years ago of re-experiencing how the game was 10, 15 or 20 years ago. You can effectively re-package that nostalgia recursively and re-sell it and it gains a cumulative effect by doing so. Re-rolling and starting over becomes a playstyle.

    At the rate Blizzard proceeds, I'd expect them to get around to farming that market sometime around 2030 but they might just go for keeping a whole nested set of nostalgic experiences in play, with discrete servers for each expansion period. If they like money, they ought to do both. Never underestimate peoples' willingness to pay for something twice - or a dozen times.

    1. There is definitely a portion of the Classic player base that's also already yearning for "fresh" servers as it's called in WoW circles. I haven't been a fan of the idea myself because I'm not a super fast leveller and I wouldn't want to start over just yet.

      I hadn't really made the mental connection to re-experiencing things like special boss kills with a guild though. I can see how that could appeal to people who play a lot more/level very quickly.