Monday, September 21, 2020

The Classic Dungeon Experience

 So far Classic WoW has been pretty much exactly the way I remember it, i.e amazing. There has been one notable difference though, at least to me, and that is the dungeon experience.

While I do recall having fun with dungeoning back in the day, I struggle to remember why or how that was possible, because most of my memories are of it taking way too long and people both playing and behaving very badly. The playing badly part I don't mind so much as long as there is a level of effort put in, and I know for a fact I was far from great myself. And to be fair, it was to be expected. Back then the game was completely new to all of us and even those with previous MMO experience (unlike me) still didn't know anything about tactics, best gear or best talents.

Unrelated picture of a scared priest.

This time around though I rarely find a player who seems to be completely new to the game. Either they have played a lot of retail, Vanilla or both. And in either case they mostly know what needs to be done and I've had a blast going through dungeons so far. I don't need people to play perfectly and I don't need people to be social geniuses, as long as everything is done in good effort and politeness.

So I managed to play a year of Classic and umpteen low and mid-level instances before I ended up having one of those experiences. One of those that took me right back to all the memories I have of everything taking just too long and nothing ever really clicking. Like, I can't even point at any one person and say "this failed because of you" but the group effort failed all together.

Ok, in this particular case there were definitely some warning signs early on. The fact that it takes almost an hour to assemble a group is not one of them though. A lot of instances are literally half an hour of running away and without Dungeon Finder Tool you're left to having to wait for the right person to show up at the right time, that's just the way Classic works and I'm fine with that.

I found a group for SM Graveyard and Library on my alliance priest (whom I have a lot to say about by the way, but that is matters for another post) and had to run myself from Wetlands, through Arathi, Hillsbrad and Tirisfal to get to the instance. I was the last one there and everyone had patiently waited for me without complaining. Off to a good start. 

Unrelated picture of a priest in Darnassus.

Except that when we were going to start our hunter wasn't present. Well, that's fine. He had probably gone afk without telling us while waiting, that's understandable. We cleared the first boss in SM GY before the hunter finally shows back up, at this point we had waited at least 15 minutes for him so that's a pretty long afk, but ok, we had done fine without him.

It was going to turn out there was a reason for that as he was ending up to be more of a hassle than gain for the group. He would stand around just not doing anything for minutes at a time, often not going in to action until prompted by someone asking for his attention in party chat. "Bad lag" he says. With lag that bad it's a wonder you can play this game at all, I think. But then again, he was playing a hunter.

Fortunately SM GY is not a difficult instance and we get through it without trouble. Off to SM Library, and the first half is fine, except for the hunter still being mostly afk. He runs around with Aspect of the Cheetah until I tell him and has full mana after every fight he actually does engage in... but I choose to keep my mouth mostly shut, and so does everyone else. We're still doing fine, after all.

After the first boss problem starts to arise though. The hunter starts "lagging" in to extra mobs, pulling more than the tank can comfortably handle. We have our first wipe. No one is complaining, but we're telling each other to be careful not to pull extras. The warrior turns out to be one of those who doesn't bother corpse running but just waits for someone to res him instead. The mobs in SM Lib are fairly tricky actually, with a mana burn I try to hide from as much as possible and a nasty kick that will silence you if you're not careful.

Unrelated picture of a priest running.

That kick will be the cause of our next wipe, just before the final boss. No one is to blame really, it is one of those breakdowns of team effort I described earlier. Or maybe rather an accumulation of mistakes that breaks the camels back. Even though I use Fade I get aggro from mobs throughout the instance, and getting my spells silenced means the tank dies. The first problem might be that the tank doesn't pull the mobs in to a safe spot, but forces us to fight them where they can more easily aggro more mobs. This also means the hunter often stands in places where he more easily aggros more mobs. The paladin or warrior don't use their cooldowns to save us when shit hits the fan and I forget not to cast a heal when I have aggro from one of the kickers. So we wipe.

We all made mistakes, any one of them miniscule but all together too many to keep the group alive.

The second time we wipe we come back to the instance fully respawned. We had literally been about three mobs away from finishing it, and now we have to clear it all over again. But we decide to do it. And through everything we manage to somehow keep our calm and not start yelling things. I just get mildly annoyed when the tank druid starts needing on cloth caster gear. I mean come on dude, that's just not cool. But I also remind myself that this mid-level gear is a drop in the ocean and it doesn't matter. It really doesn't.

But in the end everything took way longer than it needed to and some have been very much carried by the efforts of others. While it didn't leave me angry, sad or even particularly frustrated it definitely left me extremely mentally drained. And I don't know, was it even fun? In the end I probably feel like I could've been without that experience and that is probably a first in Wow Classic for me.