Category Archives: Instance Group

Tales of the Twilight Cadre instance group in Azeroth

Running to Ragefire Chasm Again – This Time For Sure!

Part three of our Ragefire Chasm tale, in which we return to the scene of the crime. (Parts One and Two if you are so inclined.)

1pm rolled around… it is actually a bit of a boon that we’re all in the same time zone I suppose… and Bung and his son showed up and, surprisingly, seemed okay with the idea of making the run to Orgrimmar.  It looked like we might get a crack at Ragefire Chasm after all.

Of course, they had to start the run again.  I hadn’t left Booty Bay, so I sailed back over to Ratchet again and ran up the left bank of the Southfury river again to park myself at the west gate to Orgirmmar yet again.

This screen shot appears in all three posts!

I began to consider that it might have taken us less time and effort to run this instance if we had just rolled up a fresh group of Horde characters on Saturday morning, got them up into the level range, and just sauntered into the Cleft of Shadows in Orgrimmar.  But the sunk cost fallacy is strong with us.  We were committed.

Skronk got us all in a group and they began the run across the Wetlands while I went out into the back yard to grill myself a burger.  Lacking hamburger buns, I used a plain bagel, for which crime my daughter said I should leave and not come back. (A plain bagel makes a perfectly cromulent substitute for a bun in my book.)

They made their way to Methenil Harbor, then took the boat to Darkshore and began the run down the coast then across Ashenvale and into The Barrens, eventually arriving at my perch where we grouped up for another set of rushes and deaths.

Obama, Skronk, Chad, Jeepy, and Scscla

Everybody was down to their skivvies again as we tried to describe our past experience and possible tactics to the two new members of the team.  We also described the route and, having already made the map from the last post, I dropped that in Discord so they could see where we were headed.

The route to Ragefire Chasm again

There was some hope that with more of us there might be more distractions for the guards leading to greater leaps forward and perhaps fewer deaths.

Then I stepped up with Chad to once again lead the charge.  I remained optimistic that somehow my rogue skills would help me.  I eschewed stealth, that doing nothing save slow me down the last time, and plunged in, setting off evasion as the guards started to move.

I don’t know if that worked, but a good old fashioned side-step dodge seemed to go well.  The guard was mid swing and I just went around him and fired off my sprint to get well onto the bridge before being cut down.  The numbers did seem to help and Scscla passed through all of us, making it way down the line before dying.

At least I got into the city on the first run this time

Only Skronk had a bad rush, getting whacked by the guards as they ran back from slaying me, leaving his corpse not too far past mine.

Still, it seemed like an auspicious start for most of us.  And the second and third runs seemed to go very well as Obama and I made it to the end of the long ess valley to die at the first sharp corner.

After that it became a bit of a slog.  There are a lot of guards and other NPCs about, not to mention a few players keen to take a shot at us.

At least there were signs to point the way

There were a number of times when we had to take solace that even a two or three step rush moved us forward thanks to the radius in which you can revive.

Eventually we made it within sight of the instance.

It is just over there…. one or two runs left

I had a good run this time around, having made it in only eight deaths.  I think Skronk hit ten this time around due to some bad luck at the start.  I think with some very good luck you might be able to make it in six or seven, but you’re still going to be running from the graveyard quite a bit.

So there we were, in our first instance.

Through the portal at last

That probably means I should introduce the full group in the style of the posts from the old days.  We were:

  • Scscla – level 16 warrior
  • Chadwicke – level 15 rogue
  • Obama – level 15 warlock
  • Jeepy – level 14 mage
  • Skronk – level 13 priest

And after all of the work and words getting everybody to this point, I wish I had some riveting tales from Ragefire Chasm.

Time to kill worms I guess

The problem is that it is something of a low-to-middling dungeon that doesn’t really have any standout features.

Granted, I am sure that is part by design.  It is the first dungeon in the game by levels and as something players are supposed to take on in their mid-teens when most classes do not yet have all of their skills yet, it has to be somewhat simple.

It’s main theme is many mobs standing around in groups with some patrolling mobs scattered about.  It teaches players how to pull (with some fun line of sight options possible), do crowd control, maintain situational awareness, and generally focusing on burning down targets one at a time.

And graphically, well, it isn’t bad.  It is better looking than any Lost Dungeons of Norrath instance I suppose.  Put there isn’t a lot of “there” there.

Still, for us, a mechanically simple dungeon was probably what we needed.  With Scscla a new tank and Obama new to the whole WoW dungeon thing (he was born about when we formed the instance group) and me learning how to play the very positional rogue class and Jeepy with a fresh mage. I guess only Skronk was in the same place as before, playing the dwarf priest to heal the group.  And I am sure even he needed a warm up.

The run went pretty well.  Things went wrong a few times, with aggro getting pulled off the tank or people running around trying to grab the right target.  But we only had a couple of deaths and one wipe.  The wipe happened when Obama’s void walker, which we were using to off-tank extra mobs on pulls, got a wild hare up its backside and ran off for no apparent reason into the middle of some mobs.  We were standing there after a fight and way off to my left I saw a void walker flash on by, heading into some mobs off to the side.  Given that some of the NPCs here were warlocks and had void walker pets, it could have been nothing.  But then Obama’s void walker was nowhere to be seen and we knew we had a problem.

The void walker died and soon all the mobs it had aggro’d came running straight at us.

Here they come

We stood and fought and brought down a few, but ended up dead.

But what is one more run from the graveyard on Razor Hill?  At least we knew the way.  In fact, we were all pretty familiar with the layout of Durotar and Orgrimmar by that point I think.  You don’t get that sort of on the ground knowledge with the Dungeon Finder.

Ready for another go

We finished off the final boss and took the traditional end of instance group picture.  Well, that is actually Jergosh the Invoker, who is the next to last boss, but we did last boss, Bazzalan, before him, because we missed a turn-off, so Jergosh was the last boss down.

There we are again

There were a few decent drops, but nothing spectacular.  We all gained a level along the way, but in the mid-teens it would have been hard not to gain a level killing that many mobs.

Viewed objectively, there wasn’t much reason for us to go to Ragefire Chasm.  There was no Alliance quest that sent us there.  The rewards were paltry.  And the time spent… well… we pretty much burned our entire weekend play time budget and then some setting up this venture.  We could have probably just focused on leveling up in Westfall on Saturday and some of Sunday and maybe been set for the Deadmines.

But we had never done it before, at least not at level.  When I looked back at our previous pre-Dungeon Finder run at the instance, it was during Wrath of the Lich King and four of us went in mostly to get the achievement.  We had some problems on that run… that was back when Blizz was having issues spawning dungeon instances.  But this time we did it the hard way, at level, with a real group, because we wanted to say we’d done it.

Which is the sort of opportunity WoW Classic gives you.

The instance done we decided to use this as an opportunity to lay down some groundwork for future efforts.  We ran back to the entrance and took off our gear again.

That was a bit of a problem for some, as our limited bag space had filled up, but we managed even if some people had to trash their goo collections.

Then we stepped out into the Cleft of Shadow again and ran around and danced and cavorted with the somewhat stunned Horde players who were hanging around the portal.

Just time for a catch phrase

Eventually they decided to kill us, but we were hanging out there for longer than we probably should have.

That put us back at the graveyard at Razor Hill, where we had the angel revive us, taking the ress sickness and the durability hit.  Then we made the run short run to Ratchet and picked up the flight point. (And got dressed and maybe sold some stuff to a vendor.)

From there it was down to the dock to take the boat to Booty Bay so that everybody could get the flight path there before calling it.

Waiting at the dock

That was a long effort, and by the time we were ready to take the boat I was ready to log off.  But we were now setup to get over to Kalimdor and The Barrens, something that will become useful with the Wailing Caverns on the list of upcoming instances.

But next up is the Deadmines.  The level target is 18 and I have to get Chad caught up on the quest line in Westfall as he was absent when we were helping Jeepy along there on Saturday night.

Our Ragefire Chasm Plan Falls Apart at the Meeting Stone

This story carries on from yesterday’s post.  If you need context, you should start there.

We left off with my rogue, Chad, sitting outside of the west gate of Orgrimmar, having scouted our route to the city with an eye towards our group running the Ragefire Chasm instance.

Bridge to Orgrimmar

We just had to get everybody together with me so we could begin working on getting to the instance.

Skronk and Ula both had characters on and were ready to go.  The Bung and his son logged on and we started to finalize the group.  Bung’s son, who I will call Nuget since that is his handle on Discord, had a level 13 warlock ready to go, which was perfect.  Bung on the other hand had been uncertain about which class he want to play.  In the face of that he apparently rolled up on of each option and played them to level 8 or 9.  He had decided on a mage, but he was only level 9 as of when he logged in on Saturday, so was well shy of the suggested level range of the dungeon.  Moreover, at level 9 he would be something of an aggro magnet trying to make the run to Orgrimmar.

We had to change up our plan.

We decided that three of us should run to Orgrimmar… I was already there… and get to the instance so as to use the meeting stone to summon Jeepy, Bung’s mage, to us once he had leveled up some.  Obama, Nuget’s warlock would help him with that while we got in place.

Now, before you rush to the comment section to tell me what was wrong with this plan let me get that out of the way.

The meeting stones in WoW Classic do not allow you to summon players.

That is probably the most direct comment on their functionality you can find on the internet right now.

Figuring that out, however, was not straightforward.  The meeting stones are there in their long standing locations outside of each instance.  They had been there since WoW 1.3 or so and had been used for a couple of things on the way to the WoW Classic version of 1.12.

However, the actual “three players can summon somebody to the stone” aspect of them was not put in until The Burning Crusade launched.  I have distinct memories of us using the stones to summon people in the group, but we formed the group in September of 2006, just a few months before TBC launched.  So we were able to summon as we worked our way though the instances in vanilla.  Given that was more than a dozen years ago, all of that has blurred together in the mix of time in my own brain.

Finding something that definitively stated whether or not you could summon was something else.  There is a lot of stuff out there about the meeting stones, but not so much specifically about WoW Classic.  People in General Chat said the meeting stones were there and I visually verified this.

Meeting Stone outside the Stockades

But we didn’t try summoning anybody to make sure that feature was in place.

So cool your jets on that and just smile knowingly as I tell our tale.

Skronk and Scscla (pronounced “shizz-la”) made the run and caught up with Chad.  We were levels 13, 16, and 15 respectively, stripped down with our gear in our bags, and ready to take our first run at Orgrimmar.

Ready to go

Here is how you get this done.  You run into the city until the guards kill you.  Your ghost runs back from the graveyard (which is way down at Razor Hill in Durotar in this case) until you get with in resurrect range of your corpse.

Paths back to your corpse

For the first part of the run you want to go back via the bridge you came in over.  After a you get into Orgrimmar proper it becomes easier to just run in through the front gate… though you do have to know a bit about Orgrimmar to find the spiral ramp up to the level where your corpse hopefully is.  Also, watch out for that canyon area along the Southfury River in Durotar on the run back.  Falling in is annoying, requiring you to run out the end of the canyon.  Also there are gaps that humans can clear in a jump that gnomes and dwarves cannot.  Some gnomes and dwarves at least.

Once back to your corpse there is a circular area in which you can resurrect which is generously sized… you can laugh at the locals standing right on your corpse… so you go to the point the furthest along your intended path, hit the button to revive yourself, and start running again until you die or get to your objective.  In our case that was the Ragefire Chasm instance portal in the Cleft of Shadows in Orgrimmar.  Through that we were safe.

The route to Ragefire Chasm

Being a rogue with all my rogue skills, I volunteered to be the first to run at the guards, hoping that some combo of stealth, evasion, and sprint would get me at least across the bridge.  While I attracted the attention of the guards Skronk and Scscla could get past and get some distance in.

That didn’t quite go the way I thought.  Stealth did nothing for a start, save for slow me down.  The guard quite obviously saw some human in his skivvies hunched over and tip toeing up to his position, so ran right at me swinging his axe.  But at least I provided the distraction.

First corpse of the assault

After we were dead Scscla and Skronk both said they had gotten flagged PvP, which is what happens automatically when you enter an enemy home city.  I did not get so flagged.  You can see my corpse behind the guard on the right, which fell just shy of the bridge.  I didn’t even make it into Orgrimmar on the first run.  Skronk at least made it onto the bridge, while Scscla managed to scamper over the crown and down the other side a ways.

And with each death we had to come back from the graveyard at Razor Hill in Durotar, which was a good five minute run.  But at least that let the cool down on my perhaps less than completely useful rogue skills run down.

But with each death, even if we only made it a few steps, the revive radius let us get somewhat more forward.

Over the bridge!

We just had to keep going until we made it into the Cleft of Shadows and the instance, so we revived, ran, died, returned to the scene, and did it all again.

Running back as ghosts just to die again

Sometimes we made a good run.  Sometimes we died just a few steps from our last corpse.  But every death carried us forward.  There was a nice moment at that button-hook turn where we found that you could go up the path, get out of revive range, turn the corner and come back, only to be back in range again.

It took Scscla 8 deaths before she made it into the instance.  Skronk took 9 deaths, while Chad had to die 10 times before he made it in.  That last death was a heartbreaker too, coming pretty much on the one yard line.  But on revive he was able to jump on in.

Into the instance at last

There we were, in the instance at last, ready for the next step of the plan.

Commemorative “We Made It!” screen shot

Jeepy was already level 11 at that point, so we figured we might as well try to summon him.  Our plan was to step out of the instance, take the few steps to the meeting stone, and try to do the summon thing as quickly as possible.  We hashed out the dynamics of how to do that aloud, refreshing and correcting our flawed memories of the days before the Dungeon Finder.

As we recalled, one person had to select the person to be summoned, then click on the summoning stone, after which the other two people had to click on the summoner in order to complete the process to bring the person to the stone.  We repeated that a few times, Skronk said he would be the summoner, we got Jeepy and Obama in the group, and we got ourselves right to the edge of the portal back into town.  Then Skronk said “Go” and we stepped through.

And nothing happened.  We were there, the meeting stone was in front of us, but we couldn’t summon.  We ran back in the instance.  We thought maybe Jeepy was too low level.  If you moused over the meeting stone it said the instance name and the level range, but the cursor did not change to the expected activate cog wheel.  We decided to try Obama instead, who was 14.

We stepped out again, but we couldn’t summon.  no cog wheel.

Meanwhile the locals, hanging around on the city side of the instance portal, started to take notice of the three Alliance characters in their underwear stepping in and out of the instance.  On a third try a couple of the names out there went red as they took shots at us, flagging themselves PvP.  We were already flagged ourselves, since you get flagged the moment you step into a hostile city.

More research ensued as we tried to figure things out.  In the end I finally found a definitive “no summoning” statement mixed in amongst the many opinions about meeting stones and out of date references concerning their behavior or functionality.  Summoning was not a thing.  So what to do?

Reluctant to give up our hard won gains, we stepped out of the instance and let the locals have a free kill.  That made us ghosts with corpses right on the instance line.  Then we logged out.

Ghost character

We were set so that we could run back to the instance if we wanted and jump back in.  Our corpses would stay there.  I wasn’t sure if they would stay forever, but I seemed to recall we were good for a few days.

Then we logged alts back in and went off to Westfall to go help Jeepy the mage get a few more levels.  If he was going to make the run we figured more levels would be good.

In a group of five you can take on many gnolls

And if we were going to give up, well, the next instance was the Deadmines, and we would need to be around level 18 or so in order to go after that… plus we would want to get to the right spot in the main Westfall quest line in order to be sent there… so more levels would, again, be good.  After doing that for a while we called it a night.  We had been playing WoW Classic pretty much all day and into the night at that point.

The next morning Scscla ran back to the instance and recalled home, either to help escort our two missing group members if they wanted to make the run or to just get on home if they were not.  Skronk and I decided to revive at the graveyard there at Razor Hill in Durotar, take the durability hit (hiding gear in your bags doesn’t help if you let the angel revive you), wait out the PvP flag, and make a run to Ratchet.

Chad stealthing away from the graveyard

However, I managed to stumble over a guard and get killed, so had to do the revive at the graveyard twice, for a double hit to my gear.  Eventually though the ress sickness passed and the PvP flag dropped and we were able to trot safely across Durotar to the Southfury River and follow it south to Ratchet, which ended up being closer than I imagined.

We grabbed the flight point there, figuring that might be useful in the future, then ran down to the dock to take the boat to Booty Bay.

Skronk was still wandering around in a state of undress

After sailing to Booty Bay we were able to run up and grab the flight point there.  Since that connects directly to Stormwind we now had a way to get directly to Ratchet without having to run the gauntlet of Stranglethorn Vale or the long way around from Darkshore through Ashenvale.

Now we just had to decide what we were going to do next.  Bung said he and his son would be on around 1pm the next day.  We decided to figure it out then, which is where the next post will pick up.

The Journey to Orgrimmar and Ragefire Chasm

It could be a three-parter, called ‘Ruler of the Bracelet’. The first part would be called ‘The Brotherhood of the Bracelet’, followed by ‘A Couple of Towers’, with the climactic ending called ‘Hey, the King’s Back!

-The end of the best joke from the /silly command

Like the vision in that joke, this too will be a three-parter, largely because I started writing about the beginning before we had reached the end, and the end ended up being further down the road… both in time, events, and words written… than I expected.  But it all started with a plan.

Yes, we had a plan.

It was a flawed plan, based on incorrect information, assumptions, and some blind optimism, but it was a plan none the less.

In its most simple form, the plan was to get together and run the Ragefire Chasm instance.

We were still fumbling to get ourselves organized, and Earl was still getting set up in Japan, but we were also getting a little tired of just hanging around, working on alts, and holding ourselves back to the first half of Westfall so as not to get to strung out in levels.

In that regard Ragefire Chasm has an advantage.  In the ranking of dungeons by level RFC, as I will call it from now on, comes in before the Deadmines, being rated for levels 13-18.  We figured we could get in and do that and not spoil the level spread.  So I put up a a target in the guild MOTD for people to be levels 13-14 in anticipation of running RFC this past weekend.

That was the simple plan.  The actual requirement to accomplish this was somewhat more complex.

RFC is in Orgrimmar, a Horde city, home of the Orcs and Trolls.  RFC is located fairly deep in Orgrimmar, so getting there is a challenge… and all the more so if you want to get there at level 14 or so.  Still, we had done it before so naturally assumed we could do it again.  Piece of cake, details to be worked out later.  The target to do this was this past Saturday.

Skronk, Ula, and I were on early to start scouting things out.  One of the items that came to mind the night before was one we had overlooked up to that point.  How do we get to Orgrimmar?

A bit of discussion shook out three possible routes.

Routes to Orgrimmar

We were starting from Stormwind, and the first that came to mind was to take the boat from Booty Bay to Ratchet on Kalimdor.  From there is it just a short run up to Orgrimmar.  The problem is that getting to Booty Bay requires running/swimming the length of Stranglethorn Vale.  At levels 13-16, the level range of possible characters in our guild, that was going to be tough.  Not impossible, but the likelihood of dying a few times was high.

The second option was to take the boat from Menethil Harbor over to Theramore.  The run from Theramore to Orgimmar is about twice that of the run from Ratchet, but that still isn’t all that far.  That had two obstacles.   First, there is the need to do the reverse Wetlands run to get to Menethil Harbor.  That isn’t so bad at our levels and once you get there you get the flight point that connects to Ironforge, so you need never do it again.  The second problem was the run through Theramore, which is a higher level zone that Stranglethorn Vale, which to my mind made it more problematic that the first plan.

After hashing those out for a bit, the third route was hatched, to take the boat from Menethil Harbor to Auberdine in Darkshore and run the length of Darkshore, then through Ashenvale, into the Barrens, and finally to Orgrimmar.  That had the Wetlands run again, but as I said you only have to do that once.  But it also had the longest run through Kalimdor, much further than the other two options.  However, I figured it was also the safest.  Darkshore is about Westfall in level range, and Ashenvale is the next zone after that, so not a big jump in levels.  Plus, Ashenvale feeds Alliance players in at one end and Horde players in at the other, so the lowest level mobs are at the ends, with the high levels spread out across the middle, reducing exposure.

While nobody was happy about the longer run, it did seem the most viable path.  We set about scouting it.  Ula and Skronk made the run to Menethil Harbor and then took the boat to Auberdine, taking a side trip to search out a quest for a staff for Ula.

I chose my character for the venture.  Having had another week go by I had run up another alt.  This time I rolled up a human rogue on something of a whim, giving me one each of all the non-cloth caster classes for the Alliance.  I named him Chadwicke, looking for some variation on “Chad” I could roll with, since rogues have something of a reputation so I thought I might play on that with some of the “Virgin vs. Chad” meme stuff.

Honestly, the real reason I made a rogue was that we got a couple of the Defias mask drops in Westfall last week, which is about the first bit of head gear you can get in WoW.  There aren’t many options until about level 26 or so.  For whatever reason, I wanted to wear that mask, but it is rogue only and bind on pickup.  So I had to roll up a rogue to get one.  And once I had one I was in the level range of the group.

Chad Masked

I wasn’t too sure how far I was going to go with Chad.  Rogues have been problematic for me in the past.  But once I did his class quest at level 10 and trained him into dual wield he was destroying mobs one on one. (I was doing that during the Reavers entosis op at one point.)  That sold him for me, so I decided he should go on the run to RFC.

I stripped him down… you put all your gear in your bags to keep them from being damaged if you die, and this trip was going to see a lot of deaths I figured, so I was down to my skivvies the whole way… and sent him on his way through Loch Modan and through the Wetlands, a run made easier by his rogue abilities.

I’ll just stealth by that orc thank you

He was into the Wetlands and on his way, saying the tagline I had picked out for him, for which I made a macro.

Roll on brother Chad

That won’t get old I am sure.

He made it to Menethils Harbor without incident and was soon waiting on the dock for the boat to Auberdine.

Mask bros at the dock

I took the boat, passed by Ula and Skronk, who were headed over to Darnassus as part of a quest or something, and started the run to Orgrimmar.

Darkshore is, as the name implies, rather dark, but the sun began to shine through once Chad made it to Ashenvale.

Sunny days again for Chad

Ashenvale was a hoof, but there wasn’t much in the way of danger.  There were a few ?? mobs off in the distance, but nothing came to get me.  I picked up the flight point at Anastaar, then realized I had forgotten to get the one at Auberdine.  Something to go back for later.  I just stuck to the roads and followed the signs.

This must be the way

Once you get to the boarder between Ashenvale and The Barrens, the road veers right and leads straight into a Horde fortification with guards and such.  Dangerous stuff for a low level Alliance player.

Horde customs and immigration check point

Fortunately, there is an obvious path off to the left that leads to a hole in the ramparts.

They built a wall and tried to make the Alliance pay for it

From there I just cut across The Barrens towards Durotar… dying once because I got a mob on me and forgot I was without my gear… running up to the back door of Orgrimmar, which is across a bridge over the Southfury River.

Bridge to Orgrimmar

Up until that point, everything had been going great.  We had been on for a couple of hours, Bung and his son were set to log in and join us to round out the group.  Ula was swapping out to her warrior alt Scscla to tank for us, Skronk was a dedicated holy priest set to heal, and Chad was there to help DPS.  We just had to get everybody out to where I was to begin the assault on Orgrimmar.

That is the topic for tomorrow’s post.

A Week into WoW Classic and Nascent Group Work

It seems like it has been more than a week since WoW Classic has been live, but here we are just past the seven day mark since opening night.

Classic is as classic does

Crazy queues welcomed people the launch, and even Blizz had to know they were in for a rough time when the name reservation land rush kicked off and servers filled up.  They started with just 25 servers, 13 US/Oceanic and 12 EU, but started slowly adding servers to the list.  And then the launch hit and I saw an estimate that at one point there were more than 200K people queued up to get into the game.

Blizzard added more servers, and then more servers, and then even more, to the point is was getting tough keeping up, until we reached the current count of 71 servers, 34 US/Oceanic and 37 EU.

And even that wasn’t enough.

Blizzard made a change before the weekend that doubled the number of players that could be on a realm, basically punting on their careful plan, detailed in the Reddit AMA, to keep populations down to a point where the layering tech would stop being needed and we would all be in a single layer.  That cleared things up on our server, but still there were queues over the weekend, some close to 10K deep for some servers.

Sorting by population…

Probably for the best.  I am sure some purist will be spitting mad about layering and server populations being beyond a certain size, like they could know 10K people personally, but 20K is just too much, but I imagine that for most people it will mostly go unnoticed… save for the reduced queues.

In the game a gnome named Jokerd made to level 60 in three days and seven hours, the first player to do so.  That was well past my 48 hour estimate.  I assume people will race faster than they actually can I guess.  And along with that Ragnaros and Onxyia have both been slain.  Serious progression raiders are going to raid early and often.

At the other end of the spectrum, the nostalgia tourists like our little guild have been pottering along at a much more leisurely pace.  I have at least kept myself to three characters, not letting my usual bout of alt-ism take control.  Not that I haven’t thought about it.

Right now my three are a dwarf hunter, a human paladin, and a night elf druid, allowing me to run through each of the three alliance new player areas.  Each are in the low teens, all past 12, which is probably a brisk pace compared to the way I went back in the day.

But that is the ongoing theme of these sorts of servers.  Unless you’re completely new to them, unless you have no history, you are going to come into them a lot more informed than you were the first time around.  Even a on a winding path where you dawdle over every point of interest, the pace will likely be quicker than when you were lost and trying to figure out what was going on.

Ula and Skronk have been on quite a bit as well, getting important tasks accomplished.

White kitten acquired!

They have also been doing some of the alt thing.  When we formed the guild we had 16 names in it across the three of us.  Earl, who is about to move half way around the world, got on with us over the weekend and started his character, but Bung and his son were away over the holiday weekend.  So we haven’t quite got things together for an attempt at Deadmines or Ragefire Chasm yet.

Still we found some time to group up and at least get used to working together again.  Wilhelm got through Elwyn Forest, killed Hogger, and had the quest that opens up Westfall, at which point I took the tram to Ironforge and ran out to Loch Modan to join up with Skronk and Ula.

Spider Ichor was on the shopping list…

There we teamed up in some zones that got us working together.  First up was the quests with the troggs that you get from the first tower in Loch Modan.  It is a deceptively simple pair of tasks, kill some specific troggs and collect some of their teeth, because we’re going out in the world now so we’re going all Deer Hunter and taking trophies and the like.

The thing with the troggs, and zone design in early WoW, is that placement and spawning can be… deceptive.  You trot into the valley where the troggs live and a bunch of other people are slaying them so you run further in and maybe find one hanging about and the the wave of respawns start sweeping over the zone and suddenly you find yourself cut off from the zone exit with a few more troggs on you than you might have expected.  If you’re solo, it might be time to run for the exit, but we were there in a trio of priest, mage, and paladin, so we stood our ground and practiced actually working as a group.

And it worked.  Wil was swinging a 2h club rather than wearing a shield, and had yet to get a taunt skill, which made things awkward at times, but we persisted through as we watched other people flee past as they found themselves neck deep in troggs.

The trogg valley wasn’t too bad.  It is wide open for the most part, so you can find a spot to sit and have a drink to restore mana before getting stuck in again.  While we had a couple of close calls when we waded in too deep, we got through it and finished off both quests.

We declined the next round of troggs, opting instead for the quest from Thelsamar to collect ears from kobold tunnelers.  We were very much in the heart of darkness then.  It was a busy night out and the kobold camps in the open were all heavily trafficked, so we decided to set up shop in Silver Stream Mine.

In the mine

There we settled down into a side room to pick off spawns as they popped.

As Bhagpuss points out, there isn’t really a tradition of spawn camping in WoW the way there was in EverQuest.  The quest driven nature of WoW never led to the development of a set of social norms and rules of etiquette because people tend to just get their quest ticket punched and move on and because there isn’t the sort of discreet and obvious camp sites the way there were back in West Karana or The Commonlands back in the day.

Still, it did irk me a bit when we setup in a side room as a group only to have people run in and grab a spawn as it popped.  But there was plenty to go around and you just roll with it and throw them a buff because expecting them to know the social niceties from another world is asking way, way too much.  And it wasn’t happening too much.  We were also sitting in a room where some mining gear boxes would spawn, so most of the time people wandering through had a reason beyond spawn competition to be there, and it a kobold is sitting next to the boxes you want, of course you take it down.

When we were left to our own, it did end up being another round of good training as a group.  As with the valley of the trogg, the respawns seemed to come in waves not necessarily related to how quickly or slowly you took down the previous one.  We would get two spawning on top of us, then once we were engaged, two more would spawn and it would become a mad rush to take them down to limit their damage.  Ula got in some crowd control practice, sheeping a kobold when we were falling behind, while Skronk got to work on mana management for heals.

It all worked pretty well and we were just a couple ears shy of being done when we got hit by the big spawn.

It had been quiet for a couple minutes so I was out in the hallway, where I pulled a pair of kobolds.  As I was bringing them back Ula called out that two more had spawned, so we had four to deal with.  But we had done that a few times, no big deal.

Then two more spawned and were on us so it became a race to start knocking them down.  And then two more spawned and the wheels came off the wagon.  We did okay to start with, dispatching the first couple, though one managed to run off and I am pretty sure he brought back another friend.  But mana and potions and hit points were all being worn down.

Ula was the first to fall, then Skronk, both out of mana.  I was down to the last three and, while my hit points were dwindling, I managed to slay two of them.  But they had both been worn down.  The last one though, he had a full health bar while I was getting down to a sliver of health and was out of mana.  I went down swinging, but down I went.  Our first group wipe in WoW Classic.

When we got back and resurrected we had a field of corpses around us to loot with more than enough kobold ears to finish off the quest.

So that was our weekend workout in anticipation of doing dungeons at some point.  We just have to get the rest of the group together so we can try it for real.

Crag Boar Rebellion

The instance group had been discussing a guild on Discord for a few days.  Well, we knew we had to make a guild, but we had to resolve the primary question when it comes to guild creation: The name!

Various ideas had been pass about, things like “The Nethergarde Choir” or “The Candle Takers” or “Blood of Heroes,” the last being a reference to everybody’s favorite Plaguelands death trap.  But none of them were really clicking.  And then Ula came up with “Crag Boar Rebellion.”

It is difficult to explain why that stuck.  I guess it is kind of snappy and sounds impressive when you first hear it, but becomes somewhat silly when you think about it.  Also, we had been slaughtering many crag boars out in Dun Morogh, which I am sure added to things.  So, while we did not have a majority around to consider it, the guild naming steering committee decided we should just go ahead and pull the trigger on Saturday.  It was time to make a guild.

And then came the awkward part; who was going to go buy the charter and ask people to sign it?  We gathered together outside the bank in Ironforge and both Skronk and I offered up half the cost of the 10s charter, opening up a trade to hand over our half.  That went about as well as you might expect.

Enthusiasm!

Nobody wanted to be the one holding the charter.  But I wanted a guild already, so I ran over to the Ironforge Visitor’s Center and bought the charter, resisting the temptation to name the something else.

Then it was back to the front of the bank where each of us signed the charter.  However, there were only three of us, which meant we had to collect seven more signatures.  This is the part I always dread, asking strangers for things.  I didn’t feel too bad about it, as I had already signed a couple charters for other people, including one random, no ask spam request.  Still, I felt we had to have a plan.

That always works!

Unfortunately, we were a bit on the poor side for bribery, the 10 silver representing not an inconsiderable percentage of our combined wealth.

So I stood outside of the bank and, when I saw a few unguilded people about… you can’t sign a charter if you’re already in a guild… I would ask aloud… not shout, not whisper, but just say… if people would please sign our guild charter.  Skonk and Ula worked the general channel looking to raise support from there.

And together it seemed to work.  We were up to six then eight and then nine signatures before too long.  People were very nice about it and seemed to generally want to help us out.  It was indicative of the behavior I have seen for the most part on the server.  In my experience retro servers like this tend to be friendly as most people really want to be there and have a good time.  On top of that, RP servers tend to be the most chill of servers.  So we were nearly there.

With one more signature needed I just started spamming some passers by with signature requests… and somebody signed right away.

And with the 10th signature I got up and ran back to the visitor’s center and registered the guild.  I have learned to be quick.  I recall one guild registration fiasco where I got the signatures down on Goldshire then had to run up to Stormwind, during which time two people signed another charter… people I had paid no less… which took them off of our charter.  So I was taking no chances.

Guild successfully registered, I thanked everybody in guild chat and said they could /gquit.  Most went right away.  A couple had logged off before we were done, so I kicked them.  And so we had a guild.  I made people officers and we logged in all of our alts and got everybody in the guild.

Alts in the guild… or is he a main?

So our guild is set.  We just have to wait for everybody to get back from their Labor Day excursions to get them on board.  And if they don’t like the name… well, they can stand outside the bank next time.

WoW Classic First Night Fun Complete with Queues

I will be the first to admit that my own WoW Classic first night experience may not be representative.  I know a bunch of people who saw this on their screens.

Taken from Asmogold’s stream at 9pm PDT last night

Blizzard even opened up more US realms, a couple of more EU realms, and even a new Oceanic realm. (And another)  We’re now around 50 WoW Classic realms.  Demand was high.  Time to update my realms list post.

But there were no queues for me.  Not right away.

I got home from work about 15 minutes before the servers were set to unlock.  I booted up my computer, switched into shorts (because it was 95 degrees out and we have no AC), and got myself logged in.  Skronk and Ula were already online and logged in and we got onto a voice channel in our Discord.  Our first choice, Bloodsail Buccaneers, still looked good.

US Server Choices

I made a character on Old Blanchy as a backup, but went back to BB and got on the character screen, where the “Enter World” button was still gray.

The promise was there…

Skronk and Ula were a dwarf and a gnome respectively, so I set aside Wilhelm the human pally for a bit and went with Tistann, my dwarf hunter, so we could all start off together.

And then the “Enter World” button went live right on time… give Blizz some credit there… and we all hit it. After a moment or two, we were dumped into a mass of dwarves and gnomes.  It was a sea of new characters.

Like a casting call for the Wizard of Oz

We quickly grouped up and were pulled together into the same layer.  We managed to find each other for our first group selfie of WoW Classic.

Arrival in Azeroth – Priest, Hunter, Mage

Then we got ourselves oriented, made the usual changes to the settings… must have fast quest text or die… and launched ourselves into the game.  And it was a crowded game, with everybody right there in the starter zone.

We’re all in this little valley

It was time to look for mobs.

Oh man, that is a lot of dead wolves

Wolves, the first of the stock bear/boar/wolf quest trifecta to hit us, were being slaughtered en masses and for a few minutes it was a tough call to tag one before somebody else grabbed it.  The slight delay as a hunter in getting a shot off felt very long.

But the edge of the wave of new players passed beyond the wolves pretty quickly.  Not that the wolves were not still being hunted like crazy, but after not too long it became fairly easy to pick off a wolf now and then to advance our quests.  During that we leveled for the first time, as a group, about 22 minutes after the server went live.

Leveling together

We turned in that quest and got sent to Anvilmar to meet our class trainers for the first time, to get our first new skill.  Mine was track beasts, which was not all that useful, but you take what you can get.

Then it was off into the zone again for some boars… naturally… and a delivery quest which led use from camp to camp.  While the dwarf/gnome starter zone was the one alliance area I had not done during the stress tests, all of this was still oddly familiar despite it having been years since I had been here.  As Skronk noted, our memories of a lot of this very old content was better than more recent expansions.

We were given a few more tasks, including picking up the lost belongings of Felix Whindlebolt.  In searching for those we ran into our first server queue… a queue in the game.

There is a line! Maybe they have toilet paper!

The gear Felix was missing were all items you had to click on the retrieve, after which they would disappear for a moment before appearing again.  Old WoW tech.  In order to facilitate everybody getting their quest item, people nicely queued up and waited their turn.  So we joined in.

Waiting in line in the snow

I don’t know if this was simply RP server behavior… lots of people in line had set themselves to walk rather than run, so we did so as well…or if this was a manifestation of what I have observed in other retro server experiences, where everybody is simply so happy to be there that they feel cooperative, but we were willing to go along with that.

No so Poncho, whose legend began right there before our eyes.

Poncho cut the line.

And at that point people began booing Poncho, shouting shame at him, and generally haranguing him.  As soon as could be, Poncho because the byword for a bad player and for the rest of the evening Poncho would remain a topic of conversation in general chat.  There was even a guild formed with the name “No Ponchos” in response to his actions.

We carried on.  The first line was long, the second was shorter, and there was no line for the third item Felix was missing, so we returned that, hit level 4, and ended up heading back to Anvilmar again.  There we were treated to the an aspect of the classic WoW experience, not having enough coins to buy all your skills.  We all had two skills to buy, at a price of 1 silver each, but we didn’t have even five silver all combined.

27 copper short

Ah well, living the WoW Classic lifestyle.

Then it was time for our final queue.  The big quest in the zone is The Stolen Journal, where you have to go slay a named troll in the troll cave.  That meant another queue.  But this time people queued by groups, as one of the early innovations of WoW over EverQuest was making sure everybody in your group got the drop for certain quests.  If you had to bring back somebody’s head, then all five of you got a head from the kill.

So groups, standing abreast, lined up, one after another, to take their turn to slay Grik’nir the Cold in order to retrieve the journal.

Our group in the line of groups

A couple of times people looked like they were going to try to cut in line, but they were shouted at, advised not to be a Poncho.  We only had three in our group, so invited a couple of singles to join in.  It was like being at the ski lift on a busy weekend.

We got the journal and headed back out to Anvilmar.  The quest reward was enough to buy us all our missing skills.  The next steps sent us out of Coldridge Valley, through the trog cave… which seemed a lot shorter than I remembered it… and into Dun Morogh proper.

On the far side of the cave we saw Syp standing AFK, so we took a quick passing selfie with him and moved on.

Random picture time

Out in Dun Morogh things remained crowded, but never quite as crowded as it was in a few of those opening quests.  The queues seemed to act as a meter to dole people out into the world in little groups, spreading them out just enough that we ran into no more queues.  Or maybe Blizz added more layers.  I saw some people disappearing for a while.  Maybe they were grouping with people in other layers, or maybe Blizz was evening out the load.

We hit the old points out in Dun Morogh, remembering some quests in full, forgetting steps in other quests.  We ran all the way to Rumbleshot before we remembered we were supposed to pick up a box of stuff for him along the way.  And we spent some time in the Wendigo cave competing for mobs, though the spawns were plenty.

So many unskinned wendigos

We ended up at level 7 then took a bit of a break for dinner.  My wife had brought me something, so while Ula and Skronk idled I ran up to Ironforge and trained skinning and leatherworking, the went back to the wendigo cave and quickly got my skinning skill up past 50.

When they got back Bung and his son, who hadn’t even been born when WoW came out, got on Discord with us and said they were in the queue for the server.  It was a few thousand deep, but the estimate was only 20 minutes or so, though that did bounce around quite a bit, like they had hired the person who did the time estimate for Windows file copy to do the queue time estimate.

They got in, but rolled up humans, so were over around Northshire Abby.  We logged out our dwarves (and gnome) and grabbed humans as well to go hang out with them.

The human starter area was crowded of course, but as with Dun Morogh, it felt like the big wave had passed and we were in the midst of a those behind the wave.  There was competition for mobs, but not like the first ten minutes we were out there struggling to tag a wolf.  I even saw a familiar name.

Didn’t I see you in Norrath before?

We wandered about, grouping up to go take on the Defias in the first of the bandana collection quests.  I was on as a pally, and I did sorely miss the ranged ability of my hunter.  But we got through the Northshire Abby quests.  There was barely a line for Garrick Padfoot, the named Defias whose head we all needed.  There were two other groups hanging around him, so we waited our turn for his spawn, then went on our way.

The only problem of the evening occurred while we were out among the Defias.  Word was that Blizzard was having some problems with layers crashing now and then.  There had been reports of BB being down while we were on and happily questing away.  But then it came time for our layer to crash and we were kicked out.  But the queue was “only” about 3,500 deep for me, which only took a few minutes to work through until I was back on again.

I stuck it out until we got to Goldshire, then I decided to call it a night.  I had been on for more than five hours straight on a week night after a full day at work and with another looming in the morning and this blog post to finish up.

We still have a lot ahead of us.  We have to form a guild… because, of course we must… and we’re still working on a name.  We have to sort out our group a bit.  And we have a determination to go and do Ragefire Chasm at level, which means getting through Orgrimmar naked at around level 15 or so.  But there is plenty of time for that.  We had what I would have to consider a good first night, which hopefully portends more.

So did anybody get to level 60 yet?  I am going to have to score myself on my predictions.

Others writing about the first night:

All I want to do right now is Play WoW Classic

I’ve been in the for the four load tests, seen the game overcrowded and behaving badly, sat in long queues, been logged out multiple times, worked with the odd and archaic mechanics, and none of that has deterred me.  I am simply craving WoW Classic.

Why isn’t it the 27th already?

I had a Blaugust post planned for today, a lightly cautionary tale about how thinking you know somebody… and then acting on that… simply because you read their blog can be a mistake.  Something a bit contrarian for “getting to know you” week I suppose.  But I just can’t make that come together right now because I am a bit obsessed about WoW Classic.

If you are a long time reader here you might well be fully justified in thinking that of course I am all in about WoW Classic.  I can be tedious at times in my attention to the past, so you might be right to think this is just another nostalgia trip where I will get all worked up about the good old days yet again.

Didn’t I do enough of that for the EverQuest 20th anniversary already?

And you wouldn’t be wrong to think that I am, in fact, wallowing in nostalgia about now.  I have watched that video I made back in 2012 about the instance group and its first year in WoW more than a few times.

 

There are a lot of old sights in that video.  (I wrote a whole director’s commentary about it back when I posted it, if you are interested.  That would be a way to get to know a lot about me and the group.)

So, yes, guilty as charged on the nostalgia front.

But there is more going on here.  I am also in something of a gaming slump, and all the more so on the MMORPG front.

I feel like I should be logging in to Battle for Azeroth to work on unlocking flying and to see the new content that came with the Rise of Azshara update… but I don’t.  I have barely logged in at all for more than a month now, and the last time I did it was just to do some Darkmoon Faire stuff and a few pet battles.  I am just not feeling it.

There are, of course, lots of other MMORPG options.  I have a bit of a yen to go play something else, maybe get back to LOTRO for the Legendary Server to finish off Moria or perhaps some EverQuest II.  I just don’t feel the drive.  And starting a new game just makes me look at the choices then go back to binge watching Veep and Bob’s Burgers.

EVE Online is still there, but I feel like I am in a slump even in space.  To start with I have been continuously subscribed and playing since late 2011, the longest I have ever gone with any online game without a serious, six month or more, break.  But now there isn’t a war going on, our play battle deployment isn’t thrilling me, so I am feeling a lack of purpose.  I’ve been playing with some alts, but as with other titles, it isn’t holding me.  And the whole Chaos Era thing is hitting a point where I want to step back and let things settle down.  Chaos does not encourage commitment, it just becomes exhausting when it doesn’t stop.

And then I went and played in the WoW Classic load test last weekend and it felt so right.  Simple, fresh, familiar, easy, difficult, slow, fast, crowded, and homey.  I just want to run around and fight over kobold spawns or pick that first hunter pet and start working on skills or spend a silver on the skinning skill and skin all the corpses around the wendigo cave.

I mean, I might be singing a different tune out in Stranglethorn Vale some weeks down the road, trying to collect all those pages, or when I hit that level 40 quest gap.  But those are future problems.   I want the kobolds now!

But wait, there’s more!

I am also pretty excited that we’re getting the band back together for this.  There are still details to work out, like when we can all be online together to play, but we’re together on Discord making plans.  And, honestly, I miss having a regular group.  EVE Online gives me a sense of belonging, but I am always happiest in small groups.  And everybody in the old instance group seems pretty jazzed up about the idea.

And, finally, I really want to see how we do.  It has been a long time since the group first came together back in 2016… at the exact patch level that WoW Classic will be using… to roll up some characters with intent to do the five person dungeon content in World of Warcraft.

There are a lot of posts on the site about the instance group… it has its own category… but at one point I threw together a “summer reruns” post that collected the timeline of our journey through vanilla WoW.

It took us quite a stretch to get through from the Deadmines to unlocking access to Upper Blackrock Spire.  There was a six month gap in our narrative, which extended our time, but we were also pretty bad at doing instances.

Our being bad didn’t stop us back in vanilla.  Honestly, it didn’t really become an issue until later dungeons in The Burning Crusade, finally coming to a head during Wrath of the Lich King where our struggles to slay Prince Keleseth caused us to evaluate exactly how we were getting things done.  We actually took it upon ourselves to read some class guides over at Elitist Jerks, which improved our performance dramatically.

And while we are now about four and a half years out of practice as a group, we likely haven’t forgotten everything, so we won’t regress back to our 2006 selves.  That makes me want to see what experience has taught us.  Back in 2006 we took four runs at the Deadmines before slaying Van Cleef.  In Uldamon it took us three trips and multiple fights to bring down Archaedas, and it was a near run thing when we did manage it.

The Moment of Victory

Then there are the things we missed.  I don’t think we even did any of Dire Maul back then. (Okay, we did some of it for Bung’s epic mount and mine as well.)

So there is a question of “how hard were those dungeons?” versus “how bad were we really back then?” to be tested.  How much have we learned over the years plays up against how much have we forgotten and how much has more than a decade changed us.

There are probably more threads in the weave that is my longing to get stuck into Azeroth of old, and they are all bound together and making the wait difficult.  The proximity of the launch, just a week and a half off, seems so distant that I can’t stand it yet so close that I don’t want to distract myself with anything else.

This is going to be a long wait.