On October 9th, 2005, I started my subscription to World of Warcraft. That’s when I created Kurnmogh, my night elf hunter.
What many people don’t know is why I started playing. I was never a fan of the Warcraft real-time strategy games. I’d played some Diablo and Diablo II, but never really spent a lot of time with either of those games. I was not one of those target people who already knew about Arthas and Jaina and Illidan and Tyrande and Malfurion. Everything was completely new to me.
So why did I start?
Zul’Gurub is why I started playing this game nearly five years ago.
Actually, it was the “Corrupted Blood” incident that happened in September of 2005 that got me started playing.
You see, I read this article about it and, being someone who’s always liked the fantasy genre along with being a sociology student, I thought this was absolutely fascinating. People deliberately diseasing each other? Killing each other? Even though the behaviour was all within a game setting, I was completely fascinated at the idea of people deliberately infecting others with this plague-like thing. (As an aside, I was THRILLED at the launch of 3.0 because of the zombie plague. It was the ZG plague all over again, but deliberately built into the game and I got to experience it firsthand! My inner sociology nerd had a blast.)
So I first started playing this game due to Zul’Gurub and a buggy game mechanic.
It was only on April 1st, 2006, that I first set foot in Zul’Gurub. Imagine my panic when I read the following words:
Your callous disregard for the sovereign might of the Gurubashi Empire has been noted. The inhabitants of Zul’Gurub has been alerted to your presence.
I could regale you readers with tales of defeat and victory against all the beasts in Zul’Gurub. I could tell you how Axe Throwers were chain-sheeped to deal with them at the time or how falling off the bridges were actual issues. I could tell you how, once, some of us ran the hell out of ZG from Jek’lik’s area when we called a wipe. Turns out that she resets, but bat riders don’t.
But I won’t.
Quite simply, what I want to tell you is that Zul’Gurub was my first real raid instance. My little guild actually cleared the instance fully, including Jin’do. We totally took the Jin’do kill in stride, too. Only a handful of guilds on the server had killed him and here were the lowly Fated Heroes, completely clearing ZG.
It took us a long time to get to that point. We went from three-hour nights on Venoxis (April 1, 2006) to 20-minute “Venoxis runs” on the reset we didn’t plan to fully use. (“Venoxis runs” were led by Majik, primarily so he could get his hands on the Fang of Venoxis so he could replace his Hypnotic Blade while still using his snazzy Tome of the Ice Lord.)
We went from 8/20 people being guildies to doing all-guild runs, with people on standby.
We were once robbed of our first-ever Jek’lik kill by virtue of PTR lag. Back in the days before battlegroups, Eldre’Thalas was on the same server as the PTR realms and this meant that, occasionally, while the PTRs were up, we would experience intense lag spikes. One such lag spike happened on our best-ever Jek’lik attempt, causing her not only to heal without being interrupted, but also causing her to then go forth and kill 80% of the raid. (Similarly, years later, we discovered that Vashj also does not lag.)
We killed Mar’li for the first time while I was on vacation in Italy. I had brought my laptop and nothing was going to stop me from raiding with my crew when we were making progress through ZG. (The raid lasted from about 2am Italy time until about 5am. And then I went and did touristy things after 3 hours of sleep. But Mar’li had died, so it was TOTALLY worth it!)
Arlokk never dropped Will of Arlokk for my brother, Fog, but did give it up to Crypt, our priest officer and healing lead. She also dropped Arlokk’s Hoodoo Stick, snagged by Egop, one of our healing paladins (and later, I snagged this on Madrana). It’s great because it looks like we can dual wield. :D
Thekal’s timing was initially tricky, but we mastered burning the three of them down together, thanks to awesome interrupts by people like Kut (who usually ended up dead on the floor somewhere, but that’s his gift to us!) or Football (who is, and let’s face it, awesomesauce). With the heals not a worry, it was like burning down Core Hound packs in MC, at which we were becoming quite adept.
Mandokir was my favourite fight for a while, if only because we once saw him gain so many levels from all the deaths of the players that not only did Mandokir start yelling “DING!” whenever one of us died, but at one point, Jin’do yelled out “Grats!”.
Obviously, he’d gained too many levels for us to finish him off and we called for a wipe, amid a collection of giggles and laughter.
Gahz’ranka, also known as the fish boss, was entirely dependent on Toga, the only one crazy enough at the time to have levelled fishing. He was also a night elf hunter so one night he and I went to scout out Pagle’s Pointe with some creative feigning and shadowmelding. We even crept up to Jin’do’s area using these methods and took great pleasure in sneaking around Zul’Gurub. We saw a couple of Tome of Polymorph: Turtles. I remember some drama around that — mains vs. alts and the like — but all that really matters is that Majik got his and has shunned every other form of Polymorph since. In fact, I would imagine that he will instruct all mages to acquire this tome so that they will all turtle things in Cataclysm, rather than “sheep” things.
When we finally faced Hakkar, I was more excited about it just because he was considered the “end boss” of Zul’Gurub and my little guild was on the brink of killing him. It only dawned on me later that the Corrupted Blood we all had to acquire in order to kill Hakkar was the same thing that had made me decide to pick up the game. When we got him down, I felt accomplished and felt a bit of a thrill, knowing that I had experienced the mechanic that had brought me to the game in the first place.
Zul’Gurub was the site of many, many, MANY wipes and quite a few victories. It was the place with the bugged out fish. It was a place with two mounts that we never, ever saw. It was even the spot where my brother, who had left the guild shortly after I joined, came back to us and the place where he showed off his new tree form as Fated Heroes’ very first Tree of Life.
When I learned that Zul’Gurub was being removed for Cataclysm, I went back there on my hunter. I got exalted with the Zandalar, from about midway through revered. I fished up a new Tome of Polymorph: Turtle. I farmed Mandokir and Thekal for mounts a few times (still no luck!), finally tamed a tiger cub like I’d been meaning to do for years and then, together, four years after we had first done it by each other’s side, my brother and I killed Hakkar and got the achievement for Zul’Gurub.
Being exalted and having the achievement for ZG doesn’t make it any less sad that this raid instance is being removed. It doesn’t even really make me feel all that much better about it. What it did do, however, was let me say goodbye to an instance that, even all these years later, is still as familiar to me as Stratholme is, or Dire Maul, or Blackrock Depths.
Without ZG, I might never have picked up this game and met some truly amazing people. I certainly wouldn’t have had all the experiences I’ve had over the last five years if not for that instance and its buggy Corrupted Blood. So here’s to you, Zul’Gurub, and your inhabitants. I will miss callously disregarding your sovereign might.