WoW Classic: Reminiscing about the old raid days
With the announcement of WoW Classic, the editors put out a call for anyone on the team to reminisce about their experiences over 13 years ago when Onyxia, Nefarian, and C’Thun were some of the most historically challenging bosses ever in existence. At first, I categorically refused to do so. I went on a long-winded rant to the internal team about how frustrating the game was. Why would anyone want to go through that again?
20 minutes later, I realized I had already written a thundering outline of my raiding experience. I may as well do my best to clean up the language and add more anecdotes. Below is a short collection of raid stories from the staff during our raid experiences back in 2004 and onward.
A Tale of Class Stacking
Blizzard Watch writer and Senior Warrior correspondent Matthew Rossi had this to say about his first legendary:
“I have a lot. One raid, for example, we had so many Warlocks and so few tanks (me and one other) that we just banished every single add on Garr and kept rebanishing them until he was dead. We raided with (and I am not kidding here) 11 Warlocks at one point. And despite the raid being a quarter Warlock, so much Warlock tier dropped in MC that they all had their tier before either of our Warriors did.
Later, when we were working on Nefarian, we’d gotten up to six Warriors (four of these were ex-Warlocks who’d rerolled) and we went back to MC to get some folks their pants and the Eye of Sulfuras dropped. I had the most DKP among the Warriors (it was an Alliance group) and so I was expected to get it, as I often DPS’d in raids when we didn’t need six tanks. I was actually close to top DPS when I did it, I had an awesome Slam 2H fury build that literally no one reading this will care about.
So when the Eye dropped, I bid… and then one of our healers, a paladin, outbid me for it. I said “Oh well” and began daydreaming about maybe getting Ashkandi someday when our healing lead, that paladin’s best friend in the guild, said “If you can bid on a weapon you’ll never use, so can I” and he outbid the pally.
This led to a 26 minute debate and in the end that druid insisted I get the Eye and that’s how I got my Sulfuras. The Paladin got Kalimdor’s Revenge that night. I don’t think it ever saw use.”
A Tale of Creative Use of Ingame Mechanics
Lore Watch co-host and Senior Resto Shaman correspondent Joe Perez on appropriate raid music and ambience:
“This story is from Classic, specifically Naxxrammas. We were working on the original Instructor Razuvius, but server lag / interrupts kept the mind control orbs from being usable for more than 2 seconds at a time. It was quite annoying. So we hatched a plan to do something to get through the fight and move on. Tanks would pick up the students and we would burn them down.
While that was going on, the 4 hunters in the raid would take up positions around the room and cast Distracting Shot on Razuvius. When he reached the hunter, they would Feign Death and then the next hunter would cast Distracting Shot. Repeated this while ranged slowly worked him down. It was incredibly funny and the entire time Razuvious was running around someone piped in the Benny Hill music.”
A Tale of Guild Philosophy
WoW Archivist and Officers’ Quarters Scott Andrews on learning lessons of leadership:
“In classic I led a relaxed, casual raiding guild. We had been progressing through Zul’Gurub but couldn’t quite down Hakkar. At the time, we had a first come, first serve policy for raid spots, which encouraged people to show up on time. ZG was a 20-player raid, but since we also ran the 40-player stuff we always had to leave people behind. We would often swap people in for the bosses with loot they needed. One week I finally made the decision to bring our best 20 players in so we could finally beat Hakkar.
We went in there and we got him. It was a huge moment for the guild. The old ZG was my favorite raid from classic and I was so pumped. However, it was a bittersweet victory because of the drama I had caused by changing our policy. Most of the people who were left out were unhappy with me and with the guild. They felt like I had broken their trust and changed the guild around them, and in a real way I had. But I also knew that if I didn’t do something, we were going to lose our best raiders out of frustration.
That night I realized that every guild needs to choose: Are you going to be all-inclusive and just have fun, or are you going to bring your best people and make progress? By trying to do both, I had put myself in a lose-lose situation.”
A Tale of Speciality
Senior Paladin correspondent Ted Atchley about the diversity of class specializations:
“Guilds were stringent on their applicants. Gear checks were mandatory, and often they would require a run through a dungeon to trial you. Cutting edge guilds wanted applicants in AQ40 and BWL gear. Guilds running AQ40 and BWL, wanted you to have all of your Molten Core gear. Nobody wanted to run ‘old’ instances just to get you geared up to their level, but there was literally no other way to attain that gear. I was trying to catch on with a guild raiding Molten Core, Zul’Gurub, and Ahn’Qiraj 20. Back then, if you wanted to raid as a Paladin, you had one choice, which was Holy. If you were Holy, you were doing one of two things:
- Spamming Flash of Light
- Spamming Cleanse
Decursive was a wonderful little addon at the time. By pressing the button, it figured out who to Cleanse and Cleansed them for you. For certain fights, it was the only button I needed to push. Magmadar, Garr, and Lucifron can all die in the firey pit from whence they came. Debuffs go up, Debuffs get cleansed. While it wasn’t exactly the most exciting game play in the world, I went through most of Ahn’Qiraq, ZG, and MC. Once people saw the Outland greens from Hellfire Peninsula, raiding pretty much came to a halt.”
A Tale of Preparation
Hearthstone correspondent and aspiring Karazhan Opera singer Matticus about raid preparation:
“Does anyone else remember setting up drinking rotations? Or healing rotations where a group of healers stopped and a second group of healers went in and started healing? Or when Shadow Priests were only in the raid for the express reason of being mana batteries (that Loatheb kill with three Shadow Priests at the end comes to mind)? Farming Dark Runes, Demonic Runes, Tubers? When consumables didn’t have a one use per combat limit? Literally waiting for Sunders before you could do anything and praying that your Warrior tanks didn’t suck and lose threat?
Priests would drop two Flash Heals and instantly die because the AI was smart enough to go after the healer immediately — AND having 4 copies of the same spell at different ranks to optimize mana efficiency. There was that period in time when doing Garr (who had 8 Earth Elementals in Molten Core) and you had to have like 6 Hunters individually Hunter’s Marking and coordinating with their respective tank so that no one pulled the wrong elemental because in game marking tools weren’t added into the game yet?
Dwarf priests were the best Alliance Priests in the game just due to Fear Ward and were a premium going into Onyxia. Only getting 2-3 items per boss drop and taking forever to gear out a 40 player raid in Molten Core or Blackwing Lair. Hunters having to learn how to actually kite just to get Rhok’delar or do the Razorgore encounter properly? And only one unique buff per player — So if your raid had five Priests in raid? Only one of your Renews will actually be applied instead of all give on a player! And I’m sure the Hunters loved carrying 1600 rounds of ammo in bags. In my case, 200 Sacred Candles. Don’t even get me started on C’Thun and the difficulty level it originally came out as. It was literally impossible.”
In fact, Gurgthock, former guild leader of <Elitist Jerks>, then one of the top raiding guilds and pillars in the raiding community, had this to say about the nigh-impossibility of C’Thun:
Dares’s post above basically nails it completely. I don’t agree that Phase 1 needs to be toned down, honestly — on our better days, we’d consistently get to phase 2 in about 6 minutes, with 38-39 alive (40 if we wanted to use battle rezzes), and good mana. It’s fine. In theory there are unfair and unlucky ways to die in phase 1. In practice those “unlucky” things seem to happen to some people a whole lot more than others, and never happen at all to still others.
Anyway, phase 2. Basically, I don’t think many people really care much about “trade secrets” anymore. I just want to see C’Thun killed, and I don’t really care remotely as much as I once did if we’re the first to do it. Some further insight into C’Thun phase 2:
Every 30 seconds, 8 small eye tentacles pop up, spread throughout the room. They immediately begin mind flaying a random target in the room for 750/second, unresistable. Each has 2300 hp. If all 8 don’t die within a couple of seconds of spawning, people are taking some serious damage. On two separate 40-second timers, C’Thun summons two types of giant tentacles. He randomly targets players and summons the tentacles under them. Anyone with a spawn beneath them, or near that spawn, takes 3k-4k damage and goes flying across the room.
Both types of tentacles melee for > 1.5k on a t2-geared tank. They hurt. Giant Claws thrash, and will one-shot anyone who is not a tank. If untanked, they will burrow and reemerge beneath healers, doing that fun 3k-4k damage + knockback effect. This means a dead healer. The other type of tentacle is a Giant Eye, which repeatedly uses the same Eye Beam attack that the Eye of C’Thun uses in Phase 1. The Claws have >90k hp, and the Eyes have ~40k. There is no cap on the number of Giant Tentacles that can be alive at once. We’ve seen 5 Claws and 2 Eyes at the same time, which is fun, let me tell you. Throughout this all, every 10 seconds, C’Thun eats a player, teleporting them into his stomach, where they have other hazards to deal with.
Basically, over the course of every 60 second period, the encounter requires your raid to do roughly 230k damage in order to keep up with the various spawns. Now, a 40-man raid can certainly accomplish that on a single target. But when some people are in C’Thun’s stomach, and the targets of that DPS are spread throughout the room, and when clustering at all (i.e., to melee burn down a specific tentacle) means that you get destroyed by a spawning tentacle or a jumping eye beam, the end result is simply impossible.
I would love for someone to prove me wrong.
Quote: Been tried. Basically, anything you might think of, it’s been tried. After a couple of weeks of beating our heads against phase 2 head-on, we came to the conclusion that there had to be some gimmick because the fight was impossible otherwise. We tried basically everything, and if we didn’t, I can guarantee you that one of the hundreds of other creative tacticians working on this fight across multiple continents did.
By the way, whatever happened to Gurgthock? He went on to work for Blizzard and eventually became an integral part of the World of Warcraft team. You might’ve heard of him. His real name is Ion Hazzikostas.
I predict most of the playing population will jump on WoW Classic servers for a few hours before escaping back into the modern day luxuries of Battle for Azeroth and beyond. Yet, there will be those who’ll stay behind and go through the trials of making it their new home. Old school World of Warcraft had so many problems and issues with it. Compared to more recent expansions, it had zero quality of life and none of the features. It was one of the most downright brutal versions of the game ever in existence.
If I had to go through and experience it all over again for the first time, I’d do it in a heartbeat. After having gone through it, I’m going to pass. But that’s me — what about you guys? Will you be playing WoW Classic? What kind of raid memories do you have from the early days of WoW?
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