Too Much To Do

One reason I was originally hesitant to join a guild in Classic was that I was worried that I might end up liking it too much, leading to me wanting to spend more time in game than I realistically have available for this particular endeavour. This pretty much happened. D'oh! I sort of already wrote about it back in October, though I focused on the pull of wanting to be social with my guildies back then. However, another dimension that I haven't really talked about is that - once you get into the group content - it feels like there's just so much to do in Classic at max level, especially right now.

I've often expressed my disdain for the way Blizzard changed retail WoW to basically always be just about the latest patch, with any and all content from previous patches being obsoleted almost instantly unless you're into farming cosmetics. I will admit though that I hadn't considered just how exhausting it could be to on the other hand have everything be relevant to your power progression almost forever.

Just looking at the raids, Classic WoW has six of them at this stage of the game, with all the original content released: Molten Core, Blackwing Lair, Zul'Gurub, Ruins and Temple of Ahn'qiraj, and finally, Naxxramas. You'd think that if you're clearing most of Naxx, there wouldn't really be any reason to go back to any of the older raids unless you want to gear up an alt or something, right? Weeeell...

Molten Core is probably the closest to being truly "obsolete" at this point except for fresh sixties, however the legendary Thunderfury remains alluring, giving warriors in particular a reason to keep dragging everyone else through the place regardless.

Blackwing Lair drops some much better pieces of gear than MC, but still, most of them are superseded by Naxx gear, right? Again, weeeell... most of them, but there are some rare trinket drops that are Classic best in slot forever, giving people chasing their BiS incentive to keep coming back for a shot at those rare drops if nothing else.

Zul'Gurub was introduced as a smaller-sized catch-up raid for fresh sixties, so you'd think it would be in a similar position as Molten Core by now, but something that I didn't immediately realise was that it's also the source of the only real worthwhile enchants for the head, shoulder and leg slots. Head and legs require idols, of which you can only ever get two per run. Shoulders require exalted reputation as well as a lot of tokens farmed from trash drops. Basically, have fun farming this place forever until you've got your final BiS and got lucky with rolls often enough to enchant it all.

AQ20 is another easy raid in a similar vein as Zul'Gurub, but here the perpetual draw is that it drops max-rank spell books for three spells for all classes. At least these can be traded between players, so you don't necessarily have to go there yourself to get them all, but someone's got to keep running the place to supply the market. Those books don't appear out of thin air.

AQ40, being the last raid before Naxx, is another interesting one because while for some classes it's pretty pointless to go there if they can get Naxx gear instead, there are sets in there for certain classes and specs that don't really get superseded by anything else, meaning you'll have a particular niche of your raiders forever clamouring to re-visit this raid as well. I guess I've got to give those Vanilla game designers credit for succeeding at keeping players interested in all the raids.

Now, lest you get the wrong idea, I'm not actually raiding all these places every week, and neither does my guild as a whole. We haven't been to MC since just before Naxx release for example. But everything else... people do go back to at least sometimes, and I in turn feel a certain pressure to come along if I can, both to work on still improving my pally's gear to help with our Naxx progression but also just to simply help make up the numbers.

So in addition to everything else I'm now actually also looking forward to Burning Crusade for the simple reason that we'll only have one tier to work on to begin with, leaving a lot more "free" time to spend on alts or dungeoneering. And any character copies that I keep on original Classic realms will simply have forever to achieve their goals there, with no more changes coming after that. I guess right now there's just a sort of unique pressure to "finish off" as much as we can, as anything achieved now will benefit both characters moving forward into Classic BC and those staying in the Vanilla world.


A Shadowlands Achievement

While discontent bubbles in the retail WoW-sphere due to the longest content drought following the launch of a new expansion in the game's history, I'm actually having a pretty good time with Shadowlands. I've long found retail WoW's "expected" content cadence unpleasant, not because getting new content is inherently bad (duh!) but due to it also always involving a relentless push to forcefully consign everything current to the dustbin of obsolescence at the same time.

The big project the husband and I have been working on for more than two months now are Torghast's twisting corridors. Initially I wasn't too thrilled by the idea, because while I liked normal Torghast well enough, our runs tended to last up to an hour as it was, and with the twisted corridors being three times as long, the thought of repeated play sessions requiring an uninterrupted three hours seemed a bit daunting. The game mode grew on me however, with the additional floors allowing for some truly ridiculous power combos by the end that set it apart from normal Torghast and made for a varied and entertaining experience.

I was wondering whether setting our eyes on the ultimate goal of completing layer eight was maybe a bit ambitious for our casual weekly adventures, considering that the recommended item level for the final layer is 225, while the husband and I are both capped at 200 or less due to the solo/duo-centric nature of our gameplay. As it turns out, it's perfectly doable with a lower item level though, and today we finally became the proud owners of our very own corridor creeper mounts. Since 9.1 appears to still be a couple of months away, we'll even get to enjoy the prestige of being able to ride in the Maw for a short while, before that patch turns that into business as usual for everyone.

I do suspect that going in as a duo meant that we had it relatively easy in terms of scaling, and I also haven't heard anything about either prot warriors or mistweaver monks having a hard time in Torghast in general. Not to mention that we'd also already maxed out our reputation with Ve'nari and bought all the possible power-ups for Torghast... still, it felt like an achievement, if nothing else for the sheer amount of time it took, and we did have to fail on the final layer twice before getting it down.

The first time we'd already lost several lives on the way to floor 17, at which point we got an awkward layout in Mort'regar where two elite deadsouls with particularly nasty abilities got the drop on us at the top of a staircase, causing us to die repeatedly and run out of lives, leading to our first and only encounter with the Tarragrue. The second time things seemed to be going smoothly until floor 12, where we ran into Patrician Cromwell, who absolutely destroyed us with one-shot abilities. I tried to look up some strategies and tips, but the comments on the Wowhead page I linked above mostly consist of people complaining about how overtuned that boss is and that they couldn't get him down either, so we eventually gave up before we'd even run out of lives as we just couldn't see a way of dealing with him.

Conversely, our run today was among the smoothest we've ever had, with only two deaths in total, both of which happened on the Coldheart mid-levels when I fell victim to ambushers from above. The final wing we had to contend with was Fracture Chambers and actually felt oddly chill in comparison, with the last floor before the boss consisting of more pottery than enemies. Such is the luck of the draw, but it still felt great to get it down. Now we'll actually have to start thinking of some new goals to pursue!


Four Horsemen and a Paladin

It's been two months since I last wrote about my guild's Naxx progression, which is really kind of surprising considering that I spend two nights a week in there right now. I guess I just don't have that much to say about the day-to-day of it, but after two months an update certainly feels in order.

Monday night was a good night not just for Redbeard, but also for the Forks as we got the Four Horsemen down for the first time. This brings us up to 13 out of 15 Naxx bosses killed, compared to the 8/15 we were at when I last posted at the end of January.

Gluth was really just about figuring out a kiting strategy. We eventually ended up going for a paladin spamming Blessing of Kings as the kiter, with mages and some warriors helping to slow the mobs. It still feels messy every time though, and the kiter is usually dead by the time the fight is over.

Thaddius took a few attempts for everyone to get comfortable with the polarity shift mechanic but wasn't as bad as I had feared.

In regards to Loatheb I mentioned last time how we wiped at five percent or something - well, eventually we got there. Ironically, we then had another two or three weeks of failing on him again due to healing screw-ups that needed sorting out, until we finally got him to something you can fairly call farm status.

Gothik, for me, was a lot of boring waiting around while people endlessly discussed what to CC and what to kill and when, none of which was anything I could help with. Eventually something was figured out that worked, or maybe it just took us that long to actually get it right.

But then, the Horsemen! The fight known to give guilds of all levels pause and put their skills to the test. As I told Red, this was actually one challenge I wasn't worried about, because we've spent so much time failing on easy stuff, failing on a harder fight for a while should be a piece of cake in comparison. And it was... fine.

We started off using an addon that's supposed to show everyone where to move during each part of the fight, but it conflicted with some things so eventually dropped it, though it was a good tool to get a grasp on the basic mechanics of the fight. By Classic standards, it's a relatively unforgiving one with quite a lot of personal responsibility, and losing a single tank or healer usually meant a wipe, which meant that as a dps I barely got to practice one or two rotations before the call to mop up went out on most attempts, but eventually we got there. I made a kill vid too!

Next it's onwards to Sapphiron. We had some attempts on him so far and the main takeaway from them was that we should probably get some more frost resist gear than we brought originally, as well as some more healers. Speaking of healers...

At the end of January I paid to attune my paladin to Naxx. It was with an eye on Sapphiron, where we knew we'd need some dps to go on healers at least during the learning phase, but as it happened we actually found ourselves short on healers quite a few nights before that. Theoretically we have enough of them on the roster, but sadly a number of them have pretty poor/irregular attendance, which threatened to throw many a night into disarray if some people hadn't changed to healer alts.

I'm one of about four people who've been doing this regularly and it's been... alright. It's no secret that I enjoy healing, though I have to say that healing in a forty-man raid is comparatively boring, as it rarely feels like you make a difference being one of three to five people spamming the tank. Also, if you think grabbing and retaining world buffs on one character is already a pain in the butt, let me say that doing it on two (when you're not sure which character you'll be needed on for which fight) is worse.

Ultimately though, I'm glad that I put in the work to gear up the pally to help out as I know that on quite a few nights, me and others having these healing alts has probably been what made the difference between being able to kill Patchwerk or Loatheb or not, even if you don't really feel your personal impact as the twelfth healer during the fight itself.

Two bosses to go, and while the beta for TBC Classic has started, we still don't have a release date, so I'm hopeful. We can kill ten bosses on our first night pretty consistently now, which then leaves the second night to clean up the remaining three and work on progression. While I didn't even plan to raid when I started playing Classic, after coming this far, I'd really quite like to see Naxx through to the end.