Thanks for checking out this retrospective / introspective recounting of my World of Warcraft experience. If you’re looking for Part I of this journey, check it out here. In terms of timelines, this section covers between hitting level 60 and nearly the entirety of World of Warcraft’s first expansion, Burning Crusades, lifespan; approximately January 2006 – July 2008.
Preparing for Molten Core
The following time between hitting level 60 and going into Molten Core was honestly pretty short. Getting your Tier 0 class set was important back then for two reasons. First, it at least made your character viable for raiding in terms of stats. Second, it showed that you were dedicated and played the game enough to get your set pieces. For Priests, that was the Devout Set.
I purchased the belt and bracers from the Auction House (thanks again to herbalism) then went about acquiring the other pieces. Multiple Devout set pieces were found in Stratholme and I really disliked going there. The two pieces I focused on were found in Scholomance and Upper Blackrock Spire; the robe and crown.
Keep in mind, these weren’t guaranteed drops and took time to acquire. The crown had a 12.24% chance of dropping from Darkmaster Gandling and the robe a 11.36% chance from General Drakkisath. Each of these drops were the final bosses in their dungeon. Each dungeon took approximately an hour with a good party, and occasionally your group would just fall apart before the final boss.
I did eventually get those two drops which gave me the four piece Devout set bonus and at the very least, a spot in a raid group. Out of our original group of five, four of us went on to join a raiding guild and started the Molten Core experience.
By the time my friends and I got around to raiding, it was early 2006. I had graduated from high school and was attending college out of state. I was still in the same relationship, which led to us being at the same college, and played World of Warcraft at least a few hours a day. This would eventually lead to some issues after the call of the raid came forward.
Leading up to the 40 man Molten Core / Onyxia raids, I had participated in a lot of team sports. I had ten years of baseball under my belt along with a few years each of track & field and basketball. I knew that succeeding in a goal meant that teamwork was absolutely necessary. Did that understanding from playing team sports translate over to raiding in World of Warcraft? Not at all.
Raiding was completely different for me at that time. The logistics of putting together 40 dedicated raid team members in itself was a task, but then they had to be classes you needed, competent and motivated enough to acquire the correct gear, enchants and potions for raiding.
I imagine that the raiding guild we had joined was very much like most guilds at that time. We had a lot of people for a limited amount of raid spots, we were motivated to kill bosses for that sweet loot and we had no real idea what we were doing.
Like I mentioned in the earlier post, us four real life friends were able to be a part of this raid group. We had a warrior tank, a paladin healer, a mage DPS and myself, a priest healer. Looking back, it was pretty easy to shop ourselves around. We came as a package deal, and tanks and healers were always needed.
Our guilds raid schedule was Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights from around 7:00pm – 12:00am. In hindsight, dumb on their part, and on mine for willingly accepting without any care or worries to my relationship. Factoring in all three nights, we spent somewhere between 12-15 hours raiding each week between the nights.
That first raid night is largely forgettable with the exception of the pre-raid anticipation. Everyone in our 40 man raid group gathered at Thorium Point in Searing Gorge, waiting for the confirmation from our raid leader to begin the trek to Blackrock Mountain and Molten Core. When we got the go ahead, the surge of energy that flowed through me is one of my favorite video game memories. We all took off and as a group of 40, jumped on mounts and dove into Molten Core. It’s was always fun running into Horde during this trek and seeing our group just descend upon them immediately.
Sitting at the entrance to Molten Core with the first two Molten Giants in front of you always flipped a switch for me. As a healer, it was time to get your stuff figured out and focus. If you failed, the entire raid group could wipe. This was really a double-edged sword. On one hand, being that responsible and succeeding providing quite a rush. On the other hand, if you missed a heal, or clicked the wrong skill, or lost focus for one second, you could cause the death of a tank or other raid group member which starts the domino effect of wiping the group. This would really end up crippling my motivation to raid in the future, but for now I was living in that moment every raid.
That first raid I was paired up with my friend who was the secondary tank and off we went. Molten Core is composed primarily of this spiral shape. The first two bosses, Lucifron and Magmadar are off to one side and typically the first that raids take on. That night, we did kill Lucifron but failed miserably at Magmadar. I guess rotating groups and not standing in the fire was out of our groups ability at the time. I believe we killed Magmadar the second or third week, and off to the races we went into Molten Core.
Finding Friends in Unexpected Places
After raiding with the same group for at least a few weeks, you start to get to know your raid team. While leadership was trying to do their homework mid-raid, we found that there was a lot of downtime before bosses.
One particular raid, we were waiting before Gehennas when a conversation struck up between guildies. The conversation involved people saying the states they were from, and a Dwarf Hunter popped in and said they were from the same state as myself and the three other friends I play with. I’m sure you know where this is going. Turns out, I had been raiding with an old friend of mine that I played baseball with as a kid.
At the time that I was venturing into Molten Core, World of Warcraft had approximately 95 servers live split between PvP, PvP and RP and somewhere around 2 million subscribers. I have no idea how many guilds were active at that time, but the fact that we ended up on the same server, same guild and same raid group is still shocking to me and fun to think about.
Our friend group officially expanded, but really wouldn’t come to fruition until Burning Crusade which released in January 2007.
Raiding was a lot of fun, but there are certain factors that go into raiding that are required, good leadership is one of them. The raid leader in our case, was a Night Elf Hunter named Foxdie.
None of us really liked Foxdie. He was not prepared, he didn’t give clear direction on what needed to happen and he just had one of those smug personalities without any of the clout to back it. During downtime, while Foxdie was hopping around as that Night Elf, my friends and I tried to start sprucing things up.
During the winter events in World of Warcraft, you could receive snowballs as items. If you target something and click on the snowball, the expected happens and you throw the snowball. If you throw it at a player, it would knock down that player, animation and all. If that character was jumping, they would do this crazy mid-air worm contortion and it was hilarious. The combination of Foxdie having a terrible Night Elf model, him jumping all the time and us not respecting him as a raid leader really led us to one conclusion; we would throw snowballs at Foxdie during the worst possible times.
We would hide behind the spires near Majordomo Executus in Molten Core and toss those snowballs and hit him as he mounted and ran across bridges in Zul’Gurub as two examples. He would shout into Ventrillo at the guild wondering who kept throwing snowballs at him, having no idea it was three different people. Meanwhile my friends and I were on our own personal Ventrillo channel at the same time and would be laughing constantly.
The capstone came when the guild finally reached Ragnaros for the first time after months of raiding Molten Core. Ragnaros’ battle arena is a spiral of lava and walkways. While he spawns in the center of the spiral, the players need to position themselves carefully around the spiral so that they don’t get killed by the lava.
Again, Foxdie was always jumping around with his annoying looking Night Elf Hunter. While he was explaining the fight, then taking a break to watch kill videos, then re-explaining, he would jump in and out of the lava within the spiral, damaging himself in that lava.
My friend happened to be in Foxdie’s group when this was happening, and snowballs were at the ready. In the middle of explaining Ragnaros to the raid group, my friend pelted Foxdie as he was crossing the lava. He was trying to time it to cause a death, but that didn’t happen.
Foxdie did eventually find out who was throwing those snowballs, which was fine to us.
Beyond Molten Core
Our guild took a particularly long time to progress through Molten Core. We were late to the game in terms of boss kills and we weren’t clearing Molten Core every week, which led to us not being geared very well. I did however finally get a lucky drop from Majordomo Executus and was able to create Benediction/Anathema, the best in slot Priest weapon at that time.
Blackwing Lair was added as the next raid in July 2005, though I expect that we didn’t actually kill the first boss, Razorgore, until somewhere near the middle of 2006. Worse, we weren’t able to continually replicate that kill, causing a real standstill in progression. Because of the struggles with Blackwing Lair, the guild ended up hemorrhaging players. It was common to join a guild, gear up, then leave for an even better guild, we were no exception.
The failures of Blackwing Lair kind of led me to an impasse. I enjoyed raiding with my friends, but felt that there was this great pressure associated with me being a healer. Whenever wipes happened in raids and dungeons, it was almost ritual to just blame the healer. Even if there were clear signs that things just went wrong, you were silenced at the exact wrong moment, or a tank charged right into a group of enemies we really couldn’t handle, still the healers fault.
I started to not enjoy being a healer, already in PvP, but now in PvE as well. The natural thing was to join another guild and continue to raid and progress in terms of gear, so we did that. We joined another guild as this, now larger friend group and sign ups for raids began to start. I started to shy away from them. I did at times get called in to raids during Blackwing Lair and Ahn’Quiraj, but I just wasn’t interested anymore.
It also felt a bit pointless to keep trying to get better gear for your character when the level cap would increase to 70 in a few months time and all that gear would become obsolete. I opted to put more effort into other characters and bide time until the release of Burning Crusade in January 2007.
For this being half of my World of Warcraft experience at that time, I feel that I have very little to say about Burning Crusade. It was fantastic. I loved the zones, the dungeons, the raids and the friend group we had was stronger than ever. Honestly, Burning Crusade acted as more of a conduit between discovering this amazing thing, and it’s destruction four years later.
Before we get to that point, I feel I need to shout out Karazhan. Raiding had changed since the original release of World of Warcraft. Those massive 40 man raids were now downsized to 25 man raids and the 20 man raids that were present, had been downsized to just ten. This was perfect for our friend group. We had that amount of real life friends, so we got to work.
Outside of Molten Core, Karazhan ranks as my other favorite social experience in game. The raid itself is a large tower that holds twelve boss fights, but honestly that hardly matters. It was just fun going into this raid every week with friends that took the game seriously. We cleared it week after week.
I made a change as well. Neurotica, my priest, was now exclusively a shadow priest. I was also able to bring in my Gnome Rogue, Doink, that you’ll hear all about next, into the raids when we needed him.
The success of Karazhan within our group took the natural progression towards wanting to tackle 25 man raids. This meant a lot of different things. We would need to bring in outside players that we didn’t know and go through all of the throes included with running a guild. We were able to take on Magtheridon and Gruul easily enough, but 25 man raids like Serpentshrine Cavern and The Eye were something else entirely.
We got into a false sense of security. We were able to kill Gruul and Magtheridon every week without fail. We even got as far as killing Hydross the Unstable and Lurker Below in Serpentshrine reliably, then things just started to not work out and it felt like Blackwing Lair all over again, but this time with more real life friends involved. The kicker for me was not being able to kill Gruul, the easiest 25 man raid boss in Burning Crusade. Here we were, over a year into the expansion, and we were struggling to kill Gruul again, months after we first downed him.
Before continuing from this point in Burning Crusade, I’ll be taking a bit of a detour for Part III. Being on a PvP server, fighting other players is inevitably going to happen. Next Sunday, I’ll publish my thoughts on that experience, and the fine line between bullying and ganking.
Thanks for reading.