Progressing to become a hardcore raider
As you might have guessed I passed my trial in Nilbog and became a veteran raider. Instances back then weren’t cleared after 1 week like we see today. End bosses could stay up for months until someone finally beat them, but the endgame mentality was different back then. No one took a day off work to raid. Everyone was raiding from 19.00 to 24.00 or so. However, in Vanilla you didn’t get things handed to you. If you needed potions you had to go farm some herbs, if you needed materials for gimmicks you had to go farm them as well. In Vanilla there wasn’t a 1 potion cap, you could use a potion whenever. And some classes could use up to 5 different potions per fight (later in the expansion). Farming stuff for a raid was definitely half of being a hardcore raider back then. There was no quick way to get loot, no Looking for Group system. You had to build up your reputation on the server to get invited to the good groups or the good guilds. You had to farm attunements to enter raids and hard dungeons to get the best loot, and the first dungeons like Upper Blackrock spire were considered 15 man raid instances with 1 loot per boss. I remember doing 53 UBRS runs to get my beloved weapon, Blackhand Doomsaw. The thing about reputation also made a lot of people more loyal to their current guild because no one wanted to be known as a guild jumper and you couldn’t just leave your server once you emptied the invites you could get from high end guilds. This also, imo, made people try harder to be a part of the guilds because there weren’t endless options like today where you can just leave the server if you get unpopular or kicked.
|In Vanilla endgame instances like Upper Blackrockspire, Lower Black Rock spire, Blackrock Depths, Stratholme and Scholomance were often done with 10 or more people as a raid to make it easier and also sometimes took up to 3-4 hours to complete. There were attunements there, but also quests for epic items (which were a huge deal back then), such as the Breastplate of the Chromatic Flight.|
Stormscale-EU was a mecca for guilds who considered themselves top PvE. Together with Magtherion-EU, 15 out of the 30 top 30 guilds were located on these 2 servers. Just to give a few high end guild names that used to be on Stormscale: Nilbog, Curse, Perfection, Mannel, Core, Soul of Eternity, Glamour, Paragon (Later in the expansion) Closure (later) are just some of the big name guilds who competed for realm first honors. Shoutout if you were playing in of these guilds during Vanilla! Nilbog had an amazing group of players who dedicated themselves extremely to the game and wanted the server first kills so badly.
Leadership and raid Organization
Do names like Tanari and Paladia ring a bell? They should if you played in Vanilla; back then these names were as big as Kungen and Sco today. Tanari was the Main tank of Nilbog and an amazing one at that, even though he had the usual “I’m Main tank and way better than you” mentality like all other good tanks in WoW history. He was certainly one of the best warriors I've played with and a player who was in his mind years ahead of any other Melee in Vanilla.
The famous Tribute movie to Tanari including fraps from MC/BWL from his PoV
Nice mouse clicking btw, Tanari!, pretending that I never did that myself :> (lies)
Paladia, together with Rocksteady, was the leader of Nilbog at the time I joined. Mostly Paladia did all the raid leading, but he was also the brains behind most of the clever use of game mechanics tactics that were used all through MC and BWL. Raiding with Paladia was like being held by your hand on the first day of school. Everything was mapped out for you. The Haste stat today you can pad Paladia on the back for because already at the start of Blackwing Lair he had a 2 page A4 post on the official forums about why Blizzard should introduce haste as a stat for spellcasters. As I recall it had over 135 pages of people who signed or agreed with him (before Blizzard started forum banning people for signing a thread!)
In a 40 man environment most guilds had class leaders who could help the officers organize class roles during raids and make sure that everyone from the same class knew exactly what to do. You probably don’t see that so often anymore in these smaller raid environments, but it was kind of needed when you had 45-65 raiding members in each guild. Today most guilds only have officers and maybe a role officer for range and 1 for melee.
|Have you heard the name Waterboy?
Well, Waterboys (I mean mages) had to spend the first 20 minutes of the raid making water and food for all the other classes, crafting 4 waters per cast. There was nothing called tables or anything like that and you had to trade each person to hand it out. The same goes for Health stones which weren’t really used that much because warlocks couldn’t be arsed mostly.
The Race for Ragnaros
Eventually as the weeks went by most of the top guilds had reached Ragnaros and the race to beat the hardest boss in the game had begun. The encounter basically worked like this:
Once you defeated the Majordomo encounter he would teleport away and appear in Ragnaros' Lair. You tell him to spawn Ragnaros and some epic role play started. After a while everyone started saying it on Ventrilo when we spawned the boss because we knew it too well. :> When the boss spawned you had to spread out the ranged people around the boss and spread out and use max melee range. There are 2 phases.
Phase 1: you had to stand there and dps and try to survive the knockback that happened on the melee and tanks, and then you had to survive the Magma blast that dealt 6000 damage to the tank which was almost a full health bar back then. And the Elemental fire damage over time.
Phase 2: Sons of Ragnaros came in from all directions, I believe about 12. If they came in contact with mana users they almost instantly drained all the mana from the guy and he was pretty much rendered useless for quite a while. As these sons spawned from all directions and aggroed healers as soon as they spawned, this mechanic would wipe the raid big time over and over again. You can compare it a bit to Lei Shi from Terrance of Endless Spring, it spawns up to 6 targets and you have 20 times more CC available on pure abilities. You were also required to handle 8 of them and had to make sure they never got in range of a healer.
We had been wiping to this quite a lot. Both Phase 1 and Phase 2 wipes. The mentality of how to beat encounters back in Vanillia was "How do we abuse abilities, items and whatnot as “clever use of game mechanics” - If there was a bug out there, I have tried it and done it.
On Ragnaros we tried a few interesting things that unfortunately didn’t work out so well:
1. Having melee logging out and then logging back into the encounter when P2 was about to spawn (avoiding deaths to knockback)
2. All melee used their bows (as you had ranged bow attack as melee in Vanilla)
3. Using Lower Blackrock Spire Scarshield Spellbinder to buff tanks with 81 fire resistance to help reduce the damage taken.
4. Ornate Spyglass worked so if you used the spyglass while standing and attacking Ragnaros at max melee distance then he didn’t knock you back but just gave you the damage. So you were free to dps all the time while healers had more freedom and mana for the tanks.
5. Really sticky Glue (Use: Renders a target unable to move for 10 sec. (1 Min Cooldown)). This was an item you got from a level 10 quest in Durotar and it gave 10 stacks of the Really Sticky glue item which was not soulbound, so we used over a week standing in Durotar at the quest offering the low level players good gold to give us the sticky glue. We then used this glue to render the Sons of Ragnaros immobile for 10 sec when they spawned while we handled them.
6. Target dummies to help pick up the adds and give healers time.
During our attempts we had absolutely no idea how the 5-6 other guilds were doing on the encounter and they could basically kill it at any moment so you had to push yourself every try. We used the Ornate Spyglass, target dummies and really sticky glue to make our kill happen, we always had great dps and were ahead of the timers constantly. The only problem was the sons, and on our kill try we managed to instantly handle all the sons as they spawned so the kill was kind of easy. But I was shaking all over my body when we got him around 10% and it looked like a kill. You wouldn’t think that you can have a pulse of 160 and adrenaline in your body when you are just pressing execute for 1 min, but I can tell you with first-hand experience that is it possible! I remember screaming so loud my mom thought I had a heart attack. It's definitely worth watching this movie and hearing the eagerness towards the end of the kill.
The kill happened around 15 May 2005, the World first was by Ascent US, 25.04.2005 so only 20 days later considering US World of Warcraft was released on 23 November 2004, while European World of Warcraft was released 11th Feburary 2005. Unconfirmed, then it was a EU 3rd kill.
Addons and Raidhelpers
Today you have addons that pretty much tell you what to do but back then there were only a few addons worth having. Pretty much everyone used CTraid which provided basically everything you could ask for back then: movable bars, raidframes, bag info, personal DPS calculator and so on, but not Boss mod timers. All ability timers and enrage timers were done by stopwatch next to the raid leader's monitor. :) Damage meters could only show you where you were placed, not how much DPS you did. For healers there were some really dumb-it-down addons that you could bind 1 key to heal the target that was lowest always, and Decursive so you just could spam 1 button to decurse targets with harmful spells instead of clicking on them and choosing.
Competition and e-fame
One thing that hasn’t changed from Vanilla until now is the DPS competition between classes. Today it's just way easier to pad the meters compared to back then where it was pretty much raw useful DPS you did as there were fewer abilities. Most DPS classes had 1 or 2 abilities they spammed because it was just the best DPS. Today they would all be considered arcane mages (sorry!).
Once you beat an encounter like Ragnaros, you stood in Orgrimmar with your guild for hours while hundreds of people stood around you inspecting you and congratulating you on the achievement. That’s a very special feeling and it’s differently growing your own E-peen.
Drama and the biggest Bug exploit in WoW history
Back when Nilbog killed Ragnaros for the first time we discovered that Majordomo respawned every 12 hours, meaning that you could re-kill him, get the priest and hunter epic quest for their weapons + respawn Ragnaros and kill him. Together with Soul of Eternity we used this exploit for 8 days, gaining 2h axes on all warriors, daggers on all rogues and holy priests, and pretty much all fully equipped in best weapons from the boss. It was bound to cause major drama on a server so competitive as ours. And the server had its own realm forum where people could say what they wanted without getting banned by Blizzard. We thought that it was funny that we could kill a boss most other guilds were progressing on and get free weapons for all our dps. But when a holy priest stood in Orgrimmar wielding a Perdition’s Blade (rogue dagger from Ragnaros) our reputation dropped with the rest of the server. Looking back now I feel like the discussion over this topic pretty much grew all the hatred between the top guilds on the server as the other guilds rightfully felt Souls of Eternity and Nilbog gained a major advantage on progress in the upcoming Blackwing Lair, and I do understand their hatred. I would have been pissed as well, probably burned a flag or something. Then a Gamemaster contacted us before we were about to go to the instance once more and said we weren’t allowed to do it anymore, however, we were allowed to keep the loot we had collected the past 8 days. In general, I was most likely one of the worst on the server when it comes to showing off and taunts, which is something that I’m not particularly proud of today though. Sometimes the taunts became too much for the others to take and they paid some of the pvp guilds/players to hunt me down and corpse camp me, so mean Soulez and . ;<
As for the last words of the Molten Core part of the series, I would like to thank pretty much everyone who had anything to do with Nilbog during MC and Blackwing Lair, they was epic times even though it was almost 9 years ago. Some of the stuff we did together is still clear in the mind, too bad most of the people from back then are not playing anymore. And if you missed out on Vanilla you missed out on a learning progress that you will probably never see in an MMO anymore. If Blizzard released Vanilla WoW today, I doubt it would survive, to be honest.