I’m a Wrath-baby.  Although I leveled my first toon during Burning Crusade, I was a complete and utter WoW-noob. I don’t think I ever even finished all the BC dungeons (and I certainly didn’t do any of the heroics) before Wrath came out and everyone migrated to the new adventures in Northrend.

Despite the fact that Naxxramas was a pretty colossal disappointment to a lot of Vanilla WoW-players, it was pretty damn interesting for me. When almost everyone in your group had never set foot in a raid before, even the simplest mechanics felt challenging because we were still learning what it meant to be a raid group and how to work as a team. Learning that, as well as the nuances of my class and what I was capable of as a player felt really good.

I really wanted to get Glory of the Raider back when it had a shiny mount as a reward, but it wasn’t meant to be. Between our consistent Eye of Eternity fail (oh vehicle combat, how steep your learning curve), and the fact that we only had about 50% of a dedicated 10 man group and then a handful of folks who we rotated in an out, we just … we didn’t have it together.

About the time that Ulduar was released, our guild was going through some major shake-ups. We had a handful of decent, but still learning, raiders, and we’d made friends with a couple other folks, and some of the time, if the stars were aligned just right, we could go poke around in Ulduar for an hour or two a week. Needless to say, we didn’t make rapid progress.

Shortly after that, my boyfriend and I applied (and were accepted to) a 10 man guild who were focusing on hard modes. They were at that time 10/14 in Ulduar and it was a huge step up for us progression-wise. We made the decision for a lot of reasons, but I’d be lying if I said one wasn’t the fact that I really really wanted a shot at the drake this go around.

We were 12/14 – and already going through some pretty major turmoil as a guild – when Trial of the Crusader came out. Suddenly, despite the guild’s “hard mode” pretensions, no one showed up for Ulduar runs anymore. I kept expecting the announcement of the removal of the Ulduar drakes, but it never came. We ran Trial of the Crusader until we sucked the one-room loot pinata dry, but we just didn’t have enough capable people to give the heroic version a shot. And with the final major raid of Wrath on the horizon and the winter holidays just around the corner, we got lazy.

I pushed hard enough that we went back to Ulduar long enough to finish off Yogg-Saron, but I knew my “hard mode” days were over before they’d even really begun. This bothered me a lot because I knew I was good enough. What I couldn’t do was find a group of individuals who were also good enough and dedicated enough and interested enough in doing Ulduar hard modes for the fun and the challenge, and sure, the shiny mount.

But as of last night, the Ulduar hard-mode achievement run which was a big part of the decision to move to our current guild and server really seemed to find it’s legs. Sure, our comp isn’t ideal, and I’m flip-flopping between heals and DPS every other fight, and DEAR GOD what I wouldn’t give for a druid.

But no one is crying because the content is obsolete and yet still somewhat challenging. We’re laughing and reminiscing, and killing bosses and racking up nerd points. Most of the easier achievements have been done – and mostly they are easy because we outgear the content now. But I’d forgotten just how much coordination Ulduar requires on some of the fights. Sure, you can technically “outgear” Mimiron, but that’s not going to save you if you can’t stay out of stuff that hurts.

Having seen (although not beaten) every encounter in ICC normal, I appreciate Ulduar even more now than I did when it was shiny and new. Having seen so many people who think the MMO revolves around them, I’m really enjoying feeling like part of a team who is working together towards one shared goal.

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