I dithered for a while about writing about this because the blog was certainly never meant to be a space for the airing of personal grievances. But then I thought ‘what the fuck.’
M’Pocket Tank and I have a couple of alts in the early-to-mid sixties, a boomdruid and a warlock, a combination that makes getting any instance just about impossible. Tank + Healer looking for DPS will usually shake a couple of guys out the woodwork but 2 DPS Looking for Tank, Healer and Maybe Another DPS – well, you might as well give up and retire to Hillsbrad. I can, of course, off-heal a bit but he’s a boomdruid to the depths of his little cow heart. He doesn’t want to be healing. He wants to be blowing shit up for nature. I did try to respec him but he was a small, sad cowtree and didn’t like it much.
The sensible thing, I imagine, would be to give up and simply levl to 80, noob, but M’Pocket Tank and I are really into instancing. It’s our favoured way of playing. We have a long and not entirely glorious history of attempting instances in a fashion other than the generally prescribed one so we looked at the problem from all possible angles and decided to embark on an experiment to see whether it was actually possible to DPS our way through an instance, with a mixture of heavy firepower, off-healing and, of course, pretty major crowd control.
(For the record, the conclusion is very definitely with the right team, a modicum of intelligence and enough care – and it’s an experiment I’d like to try again someday)
Two of us definitely weren’t enough and, rather than trying to a recruit a random who would likely find the whole premise as mad as box of hair, I convinced a friend of mine to bring the frost mage he’s currently levelling along for the ride. The same friend who poo-pooed my Magister’s HELP I HAVE NO ACRONYM Terrace run. Not, perhaps, my brightest ever idea. But, “we’ll have all the cc and all the DPS in the world, the voidy can tank, it’ll be fine,” I promised, glibly, “it’ll be fun.”
We settled on BF as not likely to be impossible and, after one humiliating wipe, found our rhythm. But what really killed the run stone dead, put a stake through its heart and then spat on its corpse was the fact my friend kept banging on and on and on about how BF had been horribly nerfed and this was way too easy.
“We’re 3-manning a 5-man instance,” he kept sneering, as if the fact we could rendered the whole experience beneath contempt. “I remember when this was challenging.”
Well, gosh, is there any more fun you’d like kill to while you’re at it? Here’s a balloon animal, why don’t you pop it? (M’Pocket Tank did some research afterwards and it turns out that BF has been mildly nerfed but ultimately it’s always going to be quantitatively easier than it used to be simply because players now have access to additional tiers of talents.)
The thing is, M’Pocket Tank and I weren’t attempting to 3-man BF at level with 3DPS classes because we wanted to add length to our WoWcocks. It was never going to be the kind of thing you take a video of yourself doing, and send along to the Website Formerly Known As WoW Insider. We were doing it for the interest, to see if we could and because it struck us as being fun way to spend a couple of hours in Azeroth. Having a member of the party constantly undermining the value of what we were doing, well, put a bit of a damper on things to say the least. Eventually all pleasure had been ruthlessly sucked from the experience so we gave up.
I suspect a part of the reason we took against his whinging as badly as we did was connected to the fact the run fell right in the middle of the great divide between PUGs and friends. Usually I go into a PUG with no expectations whatsoever. I’m anticipating moronity. Any advance on that is a blessed bonus. But you expect to be able to relax with a group of friends. In short, you acquire standards. Confident of not being pissed on, you put down your umbrella.
I genuinely don’t know what he was trying to achieve by constantly wanking about how doing BF Meant Something In His Day, other than making us feel rubbish I mean. It wasn’t like we were going to immediately fall to our knees in worship of his mighty WoWcock. All it did was reinforce the idea that he wasn’t in any way interested in playing the game with us, preferring instead to use it as opportunity to insist upon his superiority.
Also, I can’t help but think he’s rather missed the point of instancing. It’s always been easy. It’s designed that way. It’s not raiding. The point of an instance, surely, is that any sensible five dudes should be able to walk in there at level, wearing what they’re wearing, and do it. The hardest thing about instancing is assembling the five sensible dudes. Instances fail because people can’t play their class or work as a team, not because of the challenges within the instance itself. The other thing, I think, that speaks well for the design of instances across the Old World (I am less impressed with Northrend, as we know) is that they’re flexible enough that you can essentially substitute 3 guys who know what they’re doing for 5 guys who don’t. We 3-manned our way through most of the Old World – and in some ways I actually prefer it.
The other thing I think this mess illuminates is the fallacy of WoW machismo. The things for which one tends to rack up WoWcock points are often the things least earned. For example, being 80 is an automatic extension to the WoWcock but any doofus can do that just by walking across Azeroth, whacking pigs on the head. Similarly, face-rolling instances because you’re either over-level or over-geared: sign of WoW potence. Using CC in instances that might otherwise be challenging for you: sign of wussiness.
Where BF was easy for it, it was easy because we were using heavy cc. On our first attempted pull, I didn’t spot an imp and we got mullered in less than twenty seconds. In fact, the whole tragic wipe could be encapsulated in: “mind that imp, what imp, splat.” Essentially BF was either impossible or simple depending on whether or not we applied very basis strategy to it. But to my (ex?) friend being able to suceed through care, attention and liberal deployment of cc was somehow less skillful, less worthy than whatever he’d done the first time round to make it feel difficult.