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Wormie's Classic Vanilla: The Gates of Ahn'Qiraj

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Article originally posted at Manaflask

Hi, it’s been a little while since my last entry, been busy preparing up for the upcoming Heroics and loads of IRL work. Today I’ll be talking a little about Patch 1.9 which includes the release of the AQ40 Raid instance. There were some major changes in this patch which both applied to the World environment and to the feel of gameplay.

One of the changes that will forever be remembered is the AQ40 Gate event. An event that required the whole server to work together to complete quests and hand in materials to open the gate and gain access to the two new raids. Alliance and Horde together in their respective cities had to go do quests and hand in stacks of cloth, meat, metal, rocks, you name it, to bolster the Assault on the Ahn'Qiraj Gates.
 
We are not talking about small stuff here, on some servers it took several months to gather enough materials, the amount was kinda ridiculous and it would be hard to make a similar event today because people just don’t farm so much stuff anymore For example, you needed to gather 250,000 x Mageweave Bandage, 250,000 x Wool Bandage, 96,000 x Peacebloom, 600,000 x Silk Bandage, 800,000 x Linen Bandage, 10,000 x Lean Wolf Steak, 28,000 x Iron Bar just to give you some of the extreme numbers. The problem was also that you couldn’t just be 1 faction, both factions had to chip in since they had their individual gathering targets. A total of 3.297.000 materials had to be handed in to allow you to open the gates.  Once you hand in 20 farmed materials you got a box which mostly contained green items that you could either sell or disenchant. Not very rewarding, especially when you have to hand in so much. Because these numbers are so enormous the Gate opened on different dates for different servers. Luckily for me our server was very populated on both Alliance and Horde sides, and we were among the firsts to get it open. However, there could easily be weeks between servers opening the gates which also affected the progression race to really only include the “server first” race. C’thun was “blocked” in the start to allow more top guilds to catch up, but it wasn’t really a solution. Later, Blizzard did mention that they most likely would never do an event like this again.  

Mist of Pandaria Patch 5.2 has included some similarities with the gate opening system in 5 stages. However, it's way easier and it’s done by daily quests and what not. So it will automatically open even though it looks a bit like the AQ40 way. It also seems to be capped by daily efforts, So no server can open all 5 gates before others.   

Paladin Blessings and a New Totem
Some of the bigger gameplay changes in the patch were Paladins getting Greater Blessings - allowing  them to buff a whole group of classes with 1 spell instead of having to buff each and every one in the raid individually, and on top of that they increased the buff from 5 to 15 min to allow Paladins to do something other than just buff the whole time. This patch also saw the introduction of the Tranquil Air Totem which is the Shaman's counterpart to Paladin's Salvation (reduction of threat).

 The Scepter

Like It wasn’t enough to gather this amount of resources there was 1 final piece you had to get done to open the gate for your server. One guy on the server had to complete the huge quest chain for The Scepter of the Shifting Sands. This person did get a huge reward with a 1 per server Mount. This is probably the most rare mount to-date since there was only ever 1 per server. I wasn’t the one doing the quest and I actually never could be bothered doing it, it gave me no item that I could use. I did help a guy in my guild get it though; the quest requires a huge amount of time, since you need to grind a huge amount of mobs. Then you need to kill a ton of raid bosses in different instances + outdoor world bosses and a 1 time event in Druid heaven (Moonglade). I remember going to bed at night seeing my friend farming in Silithus, and when I came home early from school he was there again. Constant 24/7. I personally couldn’t do it, especially with all this additional grind to open the gates. It was kind of a race as well, because there was obviously a few people on the server that wanted this honor + the mount and title. So not only were you fighting against the major quest objectives, but also other guilds to become the guys who could open the Gates (this made the World bosses simply insane). There were some jokes about that you could take a whole server hostage by having the secpter but not opening the gates when the gathering had been completed. I haven’t heard about it happening anywhere but it could be the ultimate troll.

 
Stormscale opening

On Stormscale the server was informed that the gate would be opened in the evening at a set time. No one really knew what would happened but up until this point there had been plenty of world events and therefore most of the server's population gathered in Slithus to see what would happen when the gates opened. I had no idea what to expect when the gate opened but with the whole server at AQ40 gates, and half of Stormscale was PvP guilds, obviously the PvP guild warders couldn’t help themselves trying to attack the rest! When people were clumped up the most just before the gates should be opened they arcane explosion everyone on the stairs and the server crashed. It took like 10 min before it was back up. The time had finally come and the Gong was rung!. Once the quest was turned in, major NPC’s and dragons spawned outside the gates fighting each other. For a little while everyone stood there and then realized that bosses had spawned all over Silithus. Quickly we gathered a 40 man group and started roaming SIlithus for bosses, it was a fight to the last boss between the 10-15 top guilds on the server. The bosses dropped different epics - some useful, some not so much- but it was a cool event. Once all the bosses had been killed the event was pretty much “over” and the Temple of Ahn'Qiraj was opened.

Overall I’m very pleased and proud to have been a part of this legendary event. But for the future of World of Warcraft I do not hope Blizzard do anything like this again, times have simply changed and it would not be a success.

Warlock Soul Shards
Warlocks also got Soul Shard bags to hold on to their Shards. This is a mechanic I haven’t mentioned earlier, but for a long time both in Vanilla and the later expansions Warlocks had to farm soul shards before raids to use different cooldowns - like summon or Soulfire, which cost a Soul Shard. You could carry up to 32 on you at the same time and when you ran out you had to go farm more. This meant that often during raids you had to take a little break to allow your Warlocks to go outside to farm up 32 new shards.

The Temple of of Ahn’Qiraj

Something that was very prevalent for this instance that you learned pretty much from the start is that trash in here is pretty hard and pretty annoying!
From mobs where you need to spread out on, mobs you need to stack up on, to Griffons who go bananas if you don’t keep them mana drained, it actually took time and some coordination just to bring down the trash. And there was tons of it. Rumors say some people still have nightmares of the trash after the Twin Emperors! Although the first boss in this instance was an easy one that no one really could have any trouble with, I do want to mention an aspect of raiding that I miss. The special thing about this boss is you fight on different levels. A lower floor and a upper floor, with stairs on the side. Today’s raids are almost always a huge amount of space, often a in a circle with different graphical layouts. No objects are really used. I’m not sure why Blizzard is afraid of going into designing the “fighting platform” as well as the boss, but I guess they are afraid of the countless ways to fight the boss in “unintended” ways or clever use of game mechanics. However, I do feel like it would be more fun and fighting on platforms is more exciting. It would also allow a ton of new ways of doing bosses. There are some bosses that have different platforms like Ji-Kun in Throne of Thunder, but that’s not really the same. 10 of 12 bosses in Throne of Thunder could effectively be moved to whatever room in there and the outcome of the encounter would be pretty much the same.  

Heart of the Swarm is the Zerg expansion?

Battleguard Sartura was the zerg boss of this instance. The boss is a kamikaze that spins around the room and killing people who get close to her. And when you are on your first pull ever it’s not really easy to dodge. She is also accompanied by 3 adds that are relatively easy to kill off, so you are only left with the Main boss. The room is really big so you could spread out quite a bit, but if you wanted to get in close to dps you risked dying - especially when she went frenzy. But she moved relatively slow and she would spin off in random directions. Back then there was nothing called “You cannot enter because boss in progress", and there weren’t doors closing behind the boss room. However, Blizzard did fix that after this boss. In good old Oonstaa graveyard zerg style, you could die to the boss, run back in and mount up then then run to the boss. This is what we did for like 8 min - a stream line of people just rez zerging the boss until it died.

I don’t think it was us who caused Blizzard to fix this as I’m sure a lot of guilds did it since it was the easiest way, but the next week this boss had a door that closed behind it. The boss itself only had like 2 abilities so it’s like the most simple fight ever. She would whirlwind and sundering cleave. That’s about it. Did anyone do this type of graveyard zerg before Battleguard Sartura? Write a comment if you did!

For next time I’ll be covering the rest of AQ40 and going more into the raiding part of this tier. But now, back into Throne of Thunder. Hope you follow me and the other raiding guilds right here on Manaflask.