Keys: Keepsakes from Another Era

When I started playing World of Warcraft, I had no idea what I was doing. I strongly suspect that a lot of people were, or even are, in the same boat. Over time, I educated myself about the game and what I, personally, needed to do in order to advance myself in the game. As I started playing in Vanilla, that meant getting attuned to Molten Core, Onyxia’s Lair and Blackwing Lair.

Along the way, I picked up a bunch of keys. The quests involved in forging the Scholomance key were great experience and fun, if a bit lengthy and, at the time, pricey. Back in those days, keys actually took up precious bag space and it was not at all uncommon for people to not actually own the key to an instance like Scholomance or the undead entrance for Stratholme. Even more common was the single person in the group (a group you had probably painstakingly assembled over the course of over an hour) who had the key had almost certainly left the key in their bank.

The keyring was excellent. No longer would we forget keys in the bank!

I always liked my keys. I even had the key to Searing Gorge on more than one character! The one key that eluded me was Gnomeregan and I picked that up shortly after 3.0 dropped so that I would get the Keymaster achievement when I got the key to Violet Hold in Wrath. I was so, so sad when they removed a bunch of the keys for Cataclysm, like the Scarlet Key and the Key to the City.

It must seem foolish to speak so fondly of an old, antiquated system, to many readers who are newer to the game or who remember all the keys we needed to do heroics in Burning Crusade. But key quests and attunements were bonding experiences.

I can hear the scoffing from newer players. I suspect the older players either think I’m certifiably insane or they’re nodding their heads in agreement.

One of the all-time longest attunements that people regularly did (no disrespect to AQ gong ringers!) was the Onyxia attunement in the original WoW. I’m not sure how bad it was for the Horde, mind you, but for the Alliance, it consisted of something like 16 quests. And we’re not talking easy quests, either. A lot of them had to do with group content and instances.

In particular, the sticking point for a LOT of people was this one quest called “Jailbreak!”. In it, we are tasked to go to Blackrock Depths and free Marshal Reginald Windsor from the prison there. Sounds easy enough, right? Wrong. Not only did you have to form a group of people willing to help you out with this task, but you had to be at the right part of the quest chain to benefit from the pain that was freeing Marshal Windsor. You also needed to have the prison key from the boss in that section of the instance. (Possibly a rogue would also work, but as I was a hunter at the time, I needed the key.)

Then, you had to be really good or really lucky to free Windsor without pre-clearing all the trash along the route Marshal Windsor wants to take, once he’s freed. And guess what? He wanted to exact revenge on several people in the prison (and free someone else) before he would save his own skin.

Not only that, but he would trudge so slowly through the instance that you just wanted to kick him in the ass to speed things up. At one point in time, although this might have been fixed, later on, if you went too far ahead of Windsor, he’d despawn.

So we had to:

– form a group of like-minded individuals (either willing to do Jailbreak! or on it themselves)
– get to the instance
– know what you needed to do once you were there and likely clear both rings in the prison section — possibly killing the prison boss as well
– then free Windsor and wait for him to catch up to you every few seconds

Finally, at long last, Marshal Windsor would run for the entrance of Blackrock Depths.

But were you done?

Hell no.

THEN, you had to go back to Stormwind and WAIT for Windsor to show up. (Sometime AFTER I’d done the attunement, they brought in “Squire Rowe”, who stands by the gates of Stormwind. You talk to him and that essentially triggers Windsor’s arrival.) Then you walk with him through Stormwind (again, he used to despawn if you went too quickly) where he would confront Lady Katrana Prestor and accuse her of being Onyxia and then Bolvar Fordragon (SOB, I miss that guy!) would open a can of whup ass on the guards — who were all disguised dragonkin in service of Lady Katrana Prestor.

That was a cool part actually, but then we return right to more suck. We then had to go to Upper Blackrock Spire (never you mind that this required a whole other epic quest chain itself AND ten people!) and kill General Drakkisath for the Blood of the Black Dragon Champion. They eventually changed it so it was lootable by anyone with the quest, but for YEARS, it was a green item that only one or two people could loot (more than one could drop). That meant multiple UBRS runs.

Once you got that taken care of, you would receive the Drakefire Amulet — a fire resistance necklace that you needed in your bags in order to enter Onyxia’s Lair.

Epic-sounding, right? No doubt this is why they started out with such things. It quickly loses its appeal, however, when you’re on your third or fourth toon who you decide to attune.

Speaking as someone who was an officer in a Vanilla guild, attuning people was a pain in my ass.

Hell, attuning people to Black Temple in Burning Crusade (even after the attunement was lifted, just so that we could get the Medallion of Karabor for the shadow resistance!) was a pain in the ass.

As much as it was all a pain in the ass, though, it was what you had to do to get into 40-man raid content back then. So people did it. There was a never-ending swarm of people who applied to guilds and needed their attunements done. I can’t tell you how many times I ran Jailbreak or ran people through BRD to get attuned to Molten Core.

But there was something about that shared suffering that bonded people together. No, I’m serious!

To this day, I will always remember getting attuned to Molten Core. I was in BRD for six hours that night. We had a paladin (!) tanking, a paladin (!) healing, another hunter and a mage. It was me and the healing paladin who were there from Fated Heroes. The tank and the other hunter (who was survival! That was SO rare then!) were from another guild and we picked up a mage to help because we were doing what was called an “emp run” — that’s to say we were going to clear the last boss.

That night, I got attuned to the core, got my Shadowforged Key, did an Emp run (which is where the T0 paladin gloves used to drop until they moved them to an easier-to-kill boss), knocked out a ton of quests… it was epic. The only thing we didn’t do was Jailbreak, because no one had gotten to that point in their quests.

And it was FANTASTIC. It was great!

I don’t remember the name of the puggers, but I do remember we were, collectively, awesome.

To this day, I will always remember running with Majik to get his Jailbreak done. We had to do it TWICE. We went in, did it (it took about 45m-1h back then) and then realized that since Majik had died during a pull, he had failed the quest. So we had to reset the instance AND DO IT AGAIN.

To this day, I will always remember getting Toga and a couple of his cousins attuned to Molten Core. We pugged a healer who then joined the guild. (Granted, he guild-hopped on us TWICE in as many expansions, but it was still a great attunement run.)

My own Jailbreak run had my brother on his druid, a dwarf (!) priest from our guild, another hunter from our guild and … someone else. We didn’t know to pre-clear first. We had to blow my brother’s half-hour cooldown Rebirth (battle rez) on the priest at some point and my brother even blew Tranquility at some point. Totally epic!

I will always remember that I essentially soloed a 5-man portion of the Black Temple attunement. I killed a bunch of adds and was well on my way to killing some elite quest mob all by myself, because my guild (love them!) essentially all said they were “too busy” to help me out. So I did this part of Shadowmoon Valley all on my own until some wonderful shaman from another guild whispered me with “invite!” and I invited him and he HEALED ME and we both got credit for that mob.

Going through steps of attunements was a GREAT bonding experience.

Keys were a way that you could show people you cared about your character and its progression — particularly the more difficult keys. Attunements were a way that you could show people you cared about your character AND that you could get through the difficult challenges most of these involved. It also usually proved that you could work as a member of a team and what is raiding if not working together as a team?

So as we anxiously await Firelands and 4.2, let’s take a moment to remember the countless hours spent on getting keys. Let’s take a moment to remember that, once upon a time, we couldn’t just stroll into a raid instance without being attuned, having an amulet, doing a huge number of quests or even paying gold.

Attunements are already a thing of the past, but I’ve held on to my keys all of these years. I’ve been proud of having them, all of them, and so, as I download 4.2, I will take a moment to think about all these entry barriers I successfully navigated and the crazy shenanigans that usually went along with those runs.

Goodbye, my dear keys. I don’t regret a single moment I spent getting any of you.

(Pictured, from left to right, top to bottom:
Prison Cell Key – BRD, Key to Searing Gorge – Quest, Relic Coffer Key – needed for a portion of BRD, Jump-a-Tron 4000 key – Nagrand quest, Boulderfirst Key – Nagrand quest, Coilskar Chest Key – Shadowmoon Valley quest, The Violet Hold Key – Quest, Zuluhed’s Key – Shadowmoon Valley quest, Flamewrought Key – Heroic Honor Hold key, Key of Time – Heroic Caverns of Time key, The Master’s Key – Karazhan key, Reservoir Key – Heroic Coilfang Reservoir key, Auchenai key – Heroic Auchindoun key, Warpforged Key – Heroic Tempest Keep instances key, Gordok Shackle Key – Nagrand quest, Rusty Prison key – fished up in Dalaran.)

Heroic Chimaeron x2 and other fun stuff.

So we’ve been working on knocking out some of these initial heroic modes.

We got Heroic Chimaeron on Thursday, April 28th.

We did that during patch week, with people dropping offline like FLIES, man. So I was thrilled to get him down after just a couple of nights of work. 35 wipes all-told, then a kill on try 36. Woot!

Since, on the night that we killed him, we had 16 wipes before the kill, I was not expecting an easy second kill. Particularly given the comp we had.

This Tuesday’s signups were absolutely abysmal. We had 20 confirmed, 3 who hadn’t accepted or declined, 2 declined and then something like 7 “tentatives”.

I got a hold of the three who didn’t sign up for Tuesday and confirmed they would all be there. I got a confirmation from a tentative and decided NOT to cancel the raid ahead of time. It was a risk — I knew I might have to call the raid or split into two groups of 10 and I seriously hate both of those ideas.

Lo and behold, we had 26 on at start.

We went to BH, knocked that out and headed to BWD. I hadn’t done any raid rosters and I didn’t even make a raid PLAN because of all the different variables in who was going to be there. So we did Magmaw and ODS and swapped out a healer who was lagging and disconnecting (who had been DPSing for us on those bosses) for Fog, to come in as ret. So we did normal Atramedes and did it pretty damn cleanly. Two deaths total and we finally got to use heroism at the END of the fight instead of the start. Atramedes is my guild’s worst fight, I think, but we’re seeing improvement.

So then we’re looking at heroic Chimaeron. I had swapped the healer who was lagging crazily, remember, so we had 7 healers instead of the 8 that we got it with last week. However, last week, one of the healers was one of the people dropping offline frequently, so we basically did it with 7.5 healers as it was.

I figured “what the hell” and decided we’d give it a shot with the 7 healers.

We lost one of the tanks very early, but popped him back up ASAP. Then we lost a rogue and basically just ignored that. I figured that if we had any battle rezzes left towards the end (remember, we have a maximum of three on 25-man) we could pop him back up.

Then, with, oh, five seconds to go before Massacre, I have three people in my group with Low Health. Including me. I’d given the healers specific instructions, since we didn’t have a dedicated “floater” healer, to watch for 2 or more Low Health people in any given group as we approach a Massacre and to start from the right (or bottom) of the frames to help out that group’s healer.

I’m the bottom-most person in my group with Low Health, so I start healing the shadow priest — get her out of danger. Then I heal the disc priest in my group, who’s a tank healer and is more important than I am for the moment. And through it all, I’m praying someone, ANYONE, sees that I have Low Health. I probably should have ASKED for a heal over Mumble, but I didn’t.

Dead me!

(Part of me thinks my healers thought it would be funny to let me die like that, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t pre-planned. Mostly sure.) (I think.)

So I blow a battle rez on me by asking for a Raise Ally and am basically tapped out of mana for the next while, but everything ends up being fine but unfortunately, the shadow priest in my group died because I was running back to my spot and didn’t even see she had low health. ><

Two battle rezzes down, did I want to blow our last one NOW? I held off.

We got to the fourth feud and after that Massacre, I got our feral druid to pop up the shadow priest. We pushed, got another Massacre/Feud, which was very poorly timed and we got to P2 when most people were at about half-health. Eesh.

And then, Chimaeron/Mocking Shadows killed a total of six people before falling over.

I was sort of like “what the eff just happened?”. We one-shotted Heroic Chimaeron with one less healer than we generally have for this fight and had a minimum of issues.

“Well, I’ll take it!” I muttered to myself.

So by 10:23pm, after one hour and 23 mintues, we had done BH, Magmaw, ODS, Atramedes and H. Chimaeron.

We took our break and reconvened afterwards and decided to go play with Heroic Maloriak for the rest of the night.

We’re doing a LOT better with the dark phases! Not so good with the green phases. I’m going to have to go digging through the logs, but I’m pretty pleased to see us living through red phases, blue phases and dark phases compared to our work on him in mid-April. Basically, if we got a red phase first, we were screwed, because the sludges were still up for about 15ish seconds. Last night, they were mostly still up when we transitioned but only for a couple seconds, enough time to finish them off and get into position for the Scorching Blast. Amazing what a couple of weeks’ worth of gear will do, eh?

So it’s Heroic Maloriak on the menu for the next raid night and some more work next week, if need be.

Then… Magmaw? Atramedes? Should be interesting, at any rate.

I’m really pleased with the group and the progress we’re making, though. The repeat kills are HUGE and totally make my night when we manage a relatively easy repeat kill. That was something we were really bad at doing back in Burning Crusade. One week, we did 5/6 SSC in a single night and never did that again, I don’t think.

“Fun” stuff includes the targetting reticule bug. Being a paladin in raids, I don’t really have this issue.

Except last night, I did.

We’re there before Magmaw and I drop a feast.

Except my Raid Buff Status didn’t give out a raid warning.

“That’s weird,” I thought. And then I realized I couldn’t click my feast.

“Anyone see the feast?” I asked.

“What feast?”
“No…”
“There’s a feast?”
“I missed the feast?”

And the like.

“RETICULES!” my holy priest cried.

“Holy shit,” I responded. “Is THIS what you’re dealing with?!”

“YES!” came the replies.

“Wow. That is shitty.”

So here’s a screenshot of what LOOKS like two feasts, but the one on the right is NOT clickable and is ONLY visible to me. (Mostly to prove to my guild that no, I was not hallucinating.)

And in lowbie paladin adventures…

My lowbie paladin has caught up to my lowbie mage. Both are level 52.

I don’t know if I’m horrified or really pleased about this.

I do know that the XP is just insane with all the heirlooms and the guild XP bonus. It’s absolutely out of this world. I was level 50 for 45 minutes, I think it was.

Me, Fog, Maj and Entropia (another guildie) ran a bunch of dungeons today. Zul’Farrak, a ton of BRD (detention block) and a few Sunken Temples.

I have to say that I’m glad they redid ST so it doesn’t suck so bad, but I’m sad they covered up the hole in the center of that room. :(

BRD is glorious and delightful as always. I can’t wait to do the REST of the instance and not just the detention block. (Majik hates it, but he’ll tank for me anyways.)

I’m almost looking forward to Outlands stuff, though. I’m eagerly awaiting LBRS and UBRS runs, too. I think the Outlands anticipation is just because I’ll be THAT much closer to WotLK stuff, which I can practically do blindfolded after two years of running those dungeons.

My lowbie pally is a dwarf, but as soon as I hit 80, I’m going to race change to a human for the rep bonuses to the reps I’m actually going to need.

I feel like I’m on my shaman as a dwarf, anyways, especially with the heirloom shaman shoulders.

SPEAKING of which, wtf. I have Plate Specialization at 50, but there’s no heirloom plate healer helm? Ugh. I’m just going to stick with the mail, I guess, and be a scrub for quite some time, yet. Bonus experience trumps any and all stats.

So that’s what I’ve been up to. How about you fine folks?

The New Adventures of Old Azeroth

I don’t know how he does it, but my brother is responsible for the fact that I have so many alts. And on Thursday, I rolled another.

My mage is hanging out on Skywall with Choice because they’re awesome. Similarly, my druid is over on another server with my RL Friend the Resto Druid. My hunter, paladin, shaman and priest are all on Eldre’Thalas, guilded in Apotheosis.

My brother, Majik and our friend Tia were all in their early 20s on some alts earlier this week. Fog’s levelling a warrior, Tia’s levelling a pally and Majik is also levelling a pally tank, as he mentioned on the first episode of Blessing of Frost, our brand-new WoW podcast.

They were all at about the same level and were encouraging me to roll something and “GTF” to my 20s so we could all instance together.

I thought about it. A lot. I didn’t want to be a rogue. A death knight moved me out of their level range, obviously. I also didn’t want to be a DK. ;) I didn’t want to be a warlock, either. I then thought about my mage. I really like my mage. I haven’t gotten to play her much at all during Wrath, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like her.

So I decided I’d level another mage on ET.

But what race? There’s human, the old standby. And gnome, but, uh, no thanks. Then there’s the new combinations of dwarf and night elf. Dwarf was very tempting, since I love the male dwarf casting animations and I love their emotes… but I just race changed my shaman to a male dwarf. Which left night elf? Ugh. I HATE the night elf casting animations. Like, so much. I hate when I have to rez my pet or hearth on Kurn. Makes me cringe.

So I stuck with human. I know. I’m boring. But I’ve found that when in doubt, 10% extra rep is never a bad thing. I’d also get to go through the human quests again (probably the quests I’m most familiar with) and really get a good idea of how things have changed.

So my new mage was born and was promptly given the Tattered Dreadmist Mantle, the Tattered Dreadmist Robe, the Discerning Eye of the Beast and, best of all, the Dread Pirate Ring. Hello, 25% extra experience. How are you this fine day?

Well, I rolled her on Thursday and when I went to bed on Friday, she was 28.

I’ve done:

– the vast majority of Elwynn (LOVE the Hogger change! ADORE flight points everywhere!)

– just about all of Westfall (OMG, Hope! Loved the return of Gryan!)

– all of Redridge (and while it was a little long, it was FAR less tedious than the old quests. And yay for the bridge!!)

– 1 Stocks run, 1 Deadmines run, 2 Blackfathom Deeps runs, 1 SFK run and a few minutes of a Gnomer run — I really dig most of the changes (BFD seems mostly unchanged to me, but I never did run that place much) and the Deadmines was fun because I’ve done the heroic version on beta and it was nice to see it at level. SFK seemed okay. A little faster than previously.

So the mage is having fun.

On Tuesday night, I was exploring the new world a bit on Kurn and went to Strat Undead.

So different! I mean, most things are the same — I recognized a lot of my same, old pulls and even Stonespine is there! — but the chapel’s being rebuilt and Aurius, our friend the paladin to whom you give the Medallion of Faith, is no longer there.

You also no longer need a key.

The bosses are the same, for the most part. Just lower level. And while they don’t seem to drop T0 gear any longer, there are some familiar drops, such as the Chitinous Plate Legguards. There’s also no more 45m run/debuff given to you when you open the gate to the gauntlet. RIP, 45m Baron run.

I also think there are fewer aboms to kill outside of the Slaughterhouse.

Anyways, I hadn’t spoiled myself or done any research about Strat. Spoilers ahead!

The Baron’s gone. In his place is Lord Aurius Rivendare. Without a doubt, this is that same paladin who would come to our aid after giving him the Medallion of Faith. I didn’t even realize it until after I killed him. I suspect I’ll have to quest around EPL to find out what happened to the Baron and why Aurius is now the Lord of Stratholme.

The good news in all this is that I got Rivendare’s Charger.

The funny thing is that I haven’t even tried for it. Sure, I’ve probably killed Baron about 150 times, all told. Probably more, really, when you count Madrana’s kills. I’ve never even seen it drop. I’m certainly not someone who went farming for it daily or even weekly and probably not even monthly. I just lucked out. :)

Thus far: Baron Rivendare – 200+, Kurn – 0. But Aurius Rivendare – 0, Kurn – 1. Heh. I like that record. :)

Weekend Update

(without Kevin Nealon, Norm MacDonald, Tina Fey, Jimmy Fallon, Amy Poehler or Seth Meyers or anyone else who ever hosted SNL’S Weekend Update)

The update is this: I have done nothing on my paladin this weekend. I have been being a GM over on Eldre’Thalas. Trying to organize the ranks all pretty-like, trying to make sure all the toons are at appropriate ranks… It doesn’t help that apparently each character’s authenticator timer only starts when they log in for the first time since 4.0.1, since I wanted to get my guild bank officer (my brother — since I can track him down and beat him if he screws us over) to the proper rank, but his bank toon hadn’t logged in until Friday or so. So I have yet to implement the authenticator requirement for any ranks, which is annoying.

I helped a guildie get Incendius and the BRD key last night before finally doing the Moira Bronzebeard quest/Emperor run in BRD last night with Football. I did it for the achievement (hi, I killed the Emperor at level 58, thanks) and the quests and for nostalgia. I really do love Blackrock Depths. I just know it so damn well. Football and I also did a step in his Tier 0.5 questline, although it appears he’d already done that one before. I loved and hated that questline, culminating in the death of Lord Whatshisnuts (Valthalak).

Today, I did Sunken Temple and got lost. I didn’t remember I had to kill the six guys up top before killing dragons and then undeads and THEN the Shade of Eranikus. Go me. Eventually I got it done, though.

Let’s see, what else? Oh yeah. I’m pleased to announce the return of the Q&A posts, effective this coming Tuesday. You would not BELIEVE the amount of search engine hits I got after 4.0.1 launched…

And in the interest of pimping out some blogs:

Daritos’ Food for Thought – a long-time member of Apotheosis (and Fated Heroes before that!), Dar will be a first-time officer for Cataclysm and will be playing her resto shaman for us.

The Stories of O – Oestrus has been hanging out with the Apotheosis folks for a few weeks now on her holy priest. I was introduced to her blog via Codi’s and it’s been nice getting to know her, whether she decides to stick with us for Cataclysm or not. She’s also just started co-writing over at Divine Aegis again, so be sure to give that blog a peek for various healy-priest needs.

Things I still need to do:

– finish up responding to comments

– get my screenshot project finished

– finish a lawn dart video for my current guild

– write that requiem for Zul’Gurub

– clarify my feelings about hunters and hunter pets

All righty. Off to go do stuff “in real life” for the evening. :)

Kurn's Guide to Lower Blackrock Spire

Okay, after much hemming and hawing and many false starts and far too long spent in the editing stage, I think I’ve pieced together an okay two-part guide to Lower Blackrock Spire. It’s done the way we used to do LBRS back in the day and is still a really efficient way to clear out the instance. Included are Warmaster Voone, Shadow Hunter Vosh’gajin, Mother Smolderweb, Urok Doomhowl, Halycon, Gizrul the Slavener, Overlord Wyrmthalak, High Lord Omokk and how to obtain and complete the quests Bijou’s Belongings, Urok Doomhowl and how to get you started on the Seal of Ascension questline. Note that there are other quests in here, including the one for the Worg Pup and Mother’s Milk, neither of which are covered here.

Apologies for how dark the videos seem on YouTube. On my computer, they’re both much, much brighter, so I’m not really sure how to deal with that. I would try re-rendering them and re-uploading them, but I know if I don’t post these now-ish, it’ll be another couple of weeks before I bother trying again.

So, here we go. :)