Izz from our guild (a level 42 Priest) and I went to Arathi Highlands where I managed to close a couple of elite quests. First we killed the stone giant Fozruk (he was easier than I thought) and then we entered Stromgarde Keep to get the artifacts in the tower. Here we found a Paladin and a Warrior had just wiped. I resurrected them both, and as thanks they helped us both get the artifacts. It’s in situations like these that the game really shines and shows when an online game can be really fascinating.1 May 2005
One thing I have skipped so far is that I wanted Bricaard to be a great enchanter. I had increased this skill meticulously by disenchanting a lot of gear and buying materials from the auction house.
I managed to buy the final reagents at the auction house and was ready for a trip to Uldaman to reach the enchanting master. Degaul and Sebastianus from my guild lent me a hand, and we quickly found the inconveniently placed woman. I bought the artisan level and trained from 225 to 250 using the reagents, thereby squeezing all the recipes available out of her. Nice keeping it to just one trip.3 May 2005
After a few short visits here and there in Azeroth, I went to Hinterlands and picked up quests. The town Aerie Peak used new building prefabs I hadn’t seen before. There were planes and tanks inside. I killed trolls and found a lot of feathers. After delivering the quests I dinged to level 51 and was finally able to get the new buff spell Blessing of Kings. It could increase all the attributes of a player with 10%.
I also did a weird quest about taking a snapshot of an elite turtle. It was dangerous so I ran up close, stunned it, took the snapshot, then sprinted out again. I actually had a brown photo of it in my inventory. Another quest gave me Noggenfogger Elixir that temporarily turned me into a skeleton. It was good fun until I discovered that I couldn’t ride in that condition.
Bulwai, Aunion and I were all promoted to actual members of The Phoenix Order today. There was a lot of nice guild chat that I ardently participated in myself. Later that evening one of the leading guild members, Arathon, suggested a raid in Stratholme tomorrow. Stratholme was actually designed for a bigger raid (more than five players) and close to level 60, but Bulwai and I (both level 51-52) was offered a spot anyway as “edge” healers. It was really exciting and I was of course all fired up.4 May 2005
The raid didn’t happen the next day, but we knew it was just a question of time.
To the far east in Hinterlands there was sort of a staircase of big ruins swarming with enemies – Jintha’Alor. I was invited into a group with two kids from The Danish Order, but their pants were on fire and they rode through masses of trouble as if being dazed was never a thing. That playing style was a little too immature for my liking. As Degaul from my own guild arrived in Hinterlands, I joined up with him instead. Degaul impressed me with a lot of talk about the math behind XP versus levels while we killed slimes.
I also went to Feralas and Un’Goro Crater. In Feralas I killed a lot of nagas and later ogres. Un’Goro Crater was a green jungle with tar poodles and level 50-55 monsters. Some of them were dinosaurs. One of them was a big “T. Rex” elite fellow at level 55 that loved to sneak up on you. I killed walking flowers in the open and collected vividly colored crystals from caves. They were a sheer explosion of color.
Up through the level 50’s I was also frequently in a duo with Sino from our guild. He was the sensible type and would later turn out to be an excellent raid tank. We killed a princess in Arathi Highlands and later eradicated elite trolls in Jintha’Alor in Hinterlands. The latter took a while as we had to be careful. We managed to get the key to free a baby gryphon after which its parents picked it up.
Later that evening at 21:00 we had an unusual guild meeting in Shimmering Flats. It was literally right on the racing track. Both The Phoenix Order (Alliance) and The Obsidian Order (Horde) met up to have a few screenshots taken, after which there were PvP fights. At first it was one on one – later it was chaos. Not too surprisingly The Obsidian Order went crazy and started “ganking” a lot of players in The Phoenix Order. Especially Arathon, the prominent level 60 Paladin, was outraged by it. Personally I kept out of these fights and instead grabbed a lot of screenshots. I even posted three of them in our forum.8 May 2005
I was together with Aunion in Un’Goro Crater about escorting a robot ape out of a cave, and we killed the raptor Lar’Korwi. On my own I also killed fire elementals in the middle by lava streams, gorillas, prehistoric lizards, tar monsters by their sticky poodles, and I discovered three crystal poles in the crater edges.
And then I stumbled upon one of the most annoying quests in the entire game.
I had to escort a fellow back north from the middle of the crater, and it quickly became one of the most disgusting quests of its kind yet. He often fainted and had to be helped up with a a bottle of water, but the tall grass often made it impossible to find him at all. At the same time there was of course a timer on this quest, and to top it off we frequently got aggro for good measure. Close to the damn camp in north he even started to get bugged too, blinking in and out of gaming existence, but I managed to deliver the quest anyway. At least the reward was something that was actually useful for once – it was a pair of plate leggings that gave me 1% additional chance to dodge hits in a fight.10 May 2005
Strange, those leggings doesn’t sound all that cool when I read it today.
I installed a nice add-on called Titan Panel. It was a bar in top that could show information such as latency, loot type, empty slots in my inventory, my coordinates in the world, and how much money I had.
The rest of the day was spent with a trip to Temple of Atal’Hakkar, also known as The Sunken Temple. This time the team was Aunion, Bulwai, Melanie, Arathon and I. It went quite well – not just because Arathon was a seasoned level 60 Dwarf Paladin, but also because he knew the place inside out. We only wiped once, and that was just because Melanie’s tiny robot yeti made a bad pull. We just made fun of that in party chat afterwards, and the rest of the run was pretty much flawless. We even killed the green dragon at the end without too much trouble. Personally I got two nice plate items out of this visit. On the new chest piece I later enchanted +3 for all attributes.11 May 2005
I continued in Un’Goro Crater where I had unexpected trouble with a level 56 queen bee in a cave. That it wasn’t signified as elite must have been a mistake. It spawned a lot of level 54 minions and I couldn’t take them down in spite of using all my spells, shields and potions.
Then a series of visits to BRD (short for Blackrock Depths) began. It was a tough dungeon in Blackrock Mountain, a dark and sinister place inside a mountain between Searing Gorge and Burning Steppes. The mountain had multiple dungeon instances for both parties and raids and it was usually a long run on multiple walkways and enormous chains above hot lava to get in there.
The first run in BRD was with Aunion, Bulwai, Melanie, Stovamor (guild leader) and my character Bricaard. We killed a big spider in an arena, and opened safes in a bank area with four stone giants in a stasis.
Then Stovamor came with the incriminating comment that “now I bet we’re going to wipe” – which we then did indeed. Still, I’ve never been a fan of that kind of that admission of failure. It’s like saying “I don’t think you’ve got what it takes” – but later he did admit that it was probably a politically incorrect thing to say. But other than that, Stovamor was actually very knowledgeable and helpful, albeit perhaps a bit more dry and taciturn than e.g. Arathon.13 May 2005
The first bout of guild drama happened. It was something that would occur from to time to time. There was a lot of devoted players in the guild that took things very seriously – conflicts were unavoidable.
Trouble in the guild. The player Degaul started questioning Arathon and Stovamor’s dedication towards helping others, which they of course found completely unwarranted. I logged off for a nap before things got heated, but in the meantime a surprisingly long discussion took place in the forum. It was sometimes maligned, although they still kept it at a decent level. In the end, Degaul left the guild.14 May 2005
I jumped around in zones around my level. In Searing Gorge, I closed a quest about tower lights together with Bulwai. Collected dirt in Un’Goro Crater for herbs. Found feathers in Winterspring, a zone covered in snow. In the desert zone Silithus, I killed undeads only to be annoyed by a few wasps spawning on top. Discovered areas in Felwood. Then did quests in Burning Steppes.
A lot of traveling around Azeroth.
Melanie headhunted me for a second trip to The Sunken Temple. I noticed two things this time about how the other classes played. Alize, a Human Mage at level 60, impressed all of us by using a new kind of AOE spell that was truly devastating. It really shortened the duration of the fights there. Melanie and a player from OLD BOYS named Bound were both rogues and they often went ahead in a partly invisible stealth mode to sap a few enemies first. It opened my eyes for the importance of good CC.
We also had room for a hilarious situation. Melanie was turned into a small frog by a magician, and when I cancelled the curse she was stuck behind two stone tablets leaning against the wall. She couldn’t get out and had to use an “auto-stuck” feature in a help section. As a result of this she popped up in the harbour town in Wetlands which was several zones way north on the continent.
Lots of laughs while we waited for her to travel back to the instance.
We killed a lot of dragons including Avatar of Hakkar, a skeleton dragon where we had to take blood from his minions and distinguish four fires. I only died once – it was in a fight where Bound was temporarily an enemy and starting hitting on me. Holy shamoka he could dish out some serious critical damage.
This evening – and again unfortunately past midnight – we were five guildies in BRD. Apart from Bulwai and I it was Sebastianus and two mages; Orchid and Pookyi, both level 60. Unfortunately BRD was quite long and challenging, even though we were three level 60, one level 58 and one level 57. We spent a lot of time killing enemies in long corridors with prison cells, and later we also escorted a Marshal out while killing his enemies or releasing friends in other cells. Some fights went south, like the one against four hard-hitting fire elementals.16 May 2005
I went back in the next day, this time with Aunion, Melanie, Arathon and Pookyi. We went for the emperor at the end of a long string of halls and corridors, many of which were occupied by really tough bosses. Even though we had better discipline and quality pulls this time because of Arathon, we still wiped three or four times. Nevertheless we got the emperor in our second attempt.
Sino and I joined forces and killed a whole lot of teddies in Felwood in order to get friendly with a northern faction. Usually the first trip through a tunnel from Felwood in west to Winterspring in east was always in a fight with members of this faction. I imagine it caught most players off guard. Killing these teddies repaired the damage, but boy was a massive genocide necessary to get access to their good vendor stuff.
Bricaard dinged level 58 in the process.
The rest of the evening was spent in the sickly green Felwood. First solo, but later Sino joined up again. He was always such a great companion – knew when to hit the same monster I was hitting, and his chat comments were short and sensible. After a trip around Barrens for a step in a quest, we killed more jaedenars. This brought us down into a big cave system that looked liked a study for a bigger instance dungeon. The enemies were mixed (for the most part not a problem) and mini bosses. But especially a boss fight against a succubus and her minions was quite the adrenaline rush. We also had to escort a lady out of a cage twice (because of a key drop) but it was manageable – unlike similar escort quests lately it wasn’t unreasonable this time. After Sino and I had killed three mini bosses further inside, we decided to go all the way. This brought us to a big demon with wings, an elite level 59. We gave it a shot and even brought down its health a little, but unfortunately it could do hits of 750 damage and we bit the dust. Then we revived at the cemetary as we didn’t have any quests for it anyway.19 May 2005
We got a few new members in The Phoenix Order, and then we got into talking about how old we were. Sebastianus was the biggest surprise here – he was only 19 years. I imagined him to be much older than that. Melanie was 26 years and Stovamor 28 years. I refrained from mentioning my age as I was wary of how they would react to the fact that I was 39 years old at the time.
The brown coast ruin zone Azshara didn’t really have a ton of quests, but I still went there to fight a few level 53 elite giants for a quest in BRD. It was tough but still doable. I joined with Sino in Western and Eastern Plaguelands to kill undeads. Here I discovered that my Turn Undead ability actually sucked. In a town full of them, using it on one just made it return later with a few more friends of his.
Sino and I also helped Sebastianus and Alabrin kill a reddish level 60 elite giant in Burning Steppes. They wiped in their first attempt, and even in the second I had to use Lay on Hands on myself to succeed. It was a disaster spell that used all of my remaining mana to heal someone up completely.
Not only was this the day where Bricaard finally joined a 10-man raid for the first time, practically the entire day was also spent in Stratholme – a level 55-60 instance dungeon in Eastern Plaguelands. The detailed add-on CT_RaidAssist was confusing at first, but I quickly got used to it. The first visit was a mix of guildies and various outsiders. One of these was an anything but diplomatic leader (a level 60 Night Elf Warrior) that easily rebuked the other players whenever he felt they procrastinated too much. What an idiot. But we did get to the end of the section of undeads and killed the baron.21 May 2005
The second trip that day was all guildies. The fights were a bit mixed, but at least we had a jolly and civil tone. A good indication that we were a guild of mostly friendly players. We reached an area with hallways that looked like it used the exact same architecture from Scarlet Monastery. It was even possible to use the same key to get in. After a break we went back to the undead section. This time we had the Priest Mynta with us, and she was a fantastic healer. Even Bass had plenty of time to remove poisonings instead.
From then on we had many repeated visits to Stratholme, typically with Arathon as the raid leader. Riding to the Stratholme instance entrance from the camp in Eastern Plaguelands was dangerous since an elite mob was sometimes patrolling the road. We always had to keep our eyes peeled on the way.
And then finally on the 24th of May 2005, I dinged level 60 in Western Plaguelands while killing parasites in silos. The command
/played showed me that it had taken me 21 days and 13 hours to get this far.
I went back to Un’Goro Crater and finally killed that blasted queen bee that once handed me my ass when I was level 54. Now it was doable, but I still didn’t feel like I was able to dominate the fight.25 May 2005
Then it was time for the second 10-man raid instance – Scholomance in Western Plaguelands. Back in 2005 it was pretty much equal in size, difficulty and level range to Stratholme, i.e. again for level 55-60.
Bricaard had his first visit in Scholomance today, another instance dungeon for level 60 players that I will probably visit frequently in the time to come. We were only guildies and with Stovamor as the raid leader. It went well for the most part with just one wipe and minor deaths. The part of Scholomance I visited seemed longer than Stratholme, but other than that I just can’t understand the criticisms in the European and American forums. The halls and chambers were placed logically and most of the groups were also positioned well and could be pulled without too much trouble. However, the enemies were indeed tough. Especially some greenish smoking ghouls had the same acid-like damage system as the nasty slimes in Maraudon. Just as in Stratholme there were a lot of undeads, which gave us Paladins the chance to dish out extra damage and also pull from a distance with our Exorcism spell. Sino was in the lead as the tank and pulled most of the time, and he was quite good. But what impressed me the most was Bass, a Human Paladin at level 60. He usually managed to heal and cleanse before I did, and I didn’t consider myself a slouch at that in the first place.26 May 2005
Around this time I started doing one of the controversial things in MMORPG – grinding. I went to Silithus and killed a ton of Dust Stormers in the hopes of acquiring Essences of Air, a rare reagent for a good enchantment. However, after about two hours of killing I only got one measly essence out of it. Luckily it turned out that another type of drop earned a good sum at the action house, so it wasn’t all in vain.
I went back there the next day, but I was disconnected in a fight and when I logged back, the bastard had finished the job. Just five minutes later I got a very suspiciously timed epic item as a drop. Hmm.
Apart from Sino, I also sometimes joined up with Cinick. He had a system going where his name “Nick” was always part of his character names in one way or another. We joined up to fight Onyxia’s minions in the throne room in Stormwind, but the King’s right hand kicked their asses almost single-handedly.
The rest of the evening was spent by most of the level 60 players in my guild going crazy raiding BRD. The goal was to get Lightforge Gauntlets for all Paladins. Unfortunately fate would have it that all four (very long) trips to BRD dropped all kinds of mostly useless items than these gloves. It was just so typically this game, and for that reason I was silently “grinning” for each failed drop, while Arathon, Bass and Alabrin was cursing strongly. I just knew it would be like this. At one point I did win a pretty good chest piece, but as Arathon politely asked for it, I gave it to him. Because it was a raid of 7-10 players each time there were no wipes and only a few deaths (except from one brawl in a inn halfway through). Arathon and Stovamor were both competent and knew exactly what had to be done. But truth be told, I was about to throw up from looking at BRD in the end.28 May 2005
We had a couple of more runs in Stratholme, both undead and scarlet side, and this time we reached the end boss Balnazzar. It was a normal human being at first but he transformed himself into an enormous demon, and he could do all sort of tricks like scaring players away in fear. We got him, but the fear effect would later turn out to be one of the prevalent things in the later raid dungeons.
I got faster at healing in the next run, and I used a new add-on called BuffAhoy to distribute my buffs on the same key. I also won the Lightforge Belt and now had the two (easiest to get) items in this Paladin set.
Below is a general gallery from this month.
That was the end of part 4. I’m pausing for a bit now – I might continue later, not sure yet.