***Please note: anything in [ ] was a footnote in my word processing document.***
Raiding is endgame content that I’ve poured a billion hours into. Can’t say that I regret it, nor that I could have spent my time more wisely. Raiding can help strengthen the bonds of friendship, or even tear them apart. They strengthen them because gamers learn to work as a team to achieve difficult feats, and they can tear them apart because of either gear or the immutable number of spaces available in a raid.
In BC, raids were either 10, 25, or 40-man raids, depending on what size Blizzard designed them to be. The composition of tanks, healers, and DPSers varied for a variety of reasons I’ll spare you the boring details on, but the important part is that guilds needed a certain size roster, along with a certain degree of maturity, patience, and fortitude, since learning how to kill things in one raid encounter or another took practice, meaning everyone would die a lot. A lot. I mean for weeks on end sometimes. Some people couldn’t handle the learning process and wanted to be rewarded with gear just for showing up. Understanding that one had to earn the gear wasn’t part of their mental process, but oh well. It’s all good. The weak links weeded themselves out more often than not.
Lack of maturity aside, loot drops were another reason friendships were sometimes severed. I was a bit of a loot whore myself at one point, but I fast learned to share and enjoy the sharing. [Loot whore: person who wants every last bit of gear that drops and doesn’t want to share.] If we all geared up at an even rate, that made the boss fights all that much easier, instead of having to depend on a select few to carry everyone else. [Carry: pick up the rest of the group’s slack.] If any of these select few died, that meant the attempt was a bust and we’d have to wipe and try again from the beginning. [Wipe: everyone in the group dies.]
It got frustrating sometimes, especially when a wipe amounted to bad luck or a moment of lag and such. Crap happens. Overall, the frustration was worth it because of the sense of accomplishment. A frustrated mood plaguing the raid could be turned on its head with one major victory, and suddenly all that frustration didn’t matter anymore.
After all that hard work, and it was time to dish out the gear upgrades, some people didn’t know how to share the loot. Only a few pieces dropped per boss. If something they wanted dropped, they wanted to be the first to get it. Waiting their turn didn’t compute. Guilds use one of several ways to hand out loot, like scoring systems called DKP and EPGP, since the default way was to /roll for it and a number from 1 to 100 would be randomly generated by the game, and the highest roll would be considered the winner. [Monsters “drop” loot upon death for players to grab and put to use.]
The game seems to know when a player really wants something, and such a coveted item will rarely drop but, if it does, those who want it the most have a tendency to produce the worst rolls. On the flip side, if you don’t really want it, it’s easy to roll 90+ and say, “Wow, what a waste of a good roll.” I’ve lost track of how many times this has happened to myself, along with how many times I’ve heard my friends express similar sentiment.
To drive the point home, I have the most epic fail of loot roll stories. [Epic fail: terrible/horrible.] I was on my hunter in a zone called Zangarmarsh, a marshy place with giant mushrooms and a huge lake in the middle. Sounds trippy but it was my aesthetically favorite zone of the BC expansion.
Okay, that didn’t make me sound like any less of a druggie…
Anyway, another hunter helped me kill an elite mob called a naga, a human-sized, teal, serpentine creature with a crocodilian head, and a dorsal sail running the length of its body. On its corpse was a rare-quality upgrade for both of us. I don’t remember what it was exactly but I do remember us both rolling “need” on the item. I rolled a 1 and he rolled a 2 and won the loot.
Wow. Just wow. I lost to a 2. I haven’t met anyone else who can say that.
That hunter and I had a good laugh and, like a good sport, I accepted the losing roll and let him keep the upgrade without complaint.
Some people didn’t know how to share loot no matter how fair the system was. Friendships broke on occasion. It got frustrating, but at least you learned who your real friends were.
Bearing all that in mind, I took a stab at raiding in The Burning Crusade. I was decent at using my mage’s cc (crowd control), refused to try tanking since I didn’t want that kind of responsibility, and healing sounded boring, so DPS it was. [Tank: player who specializes in survivability and is the meat shield of the group. If this person dies, chances are everyone dies shortly after.] Successful teamwork was fun and all, but I wasn’t cut out for the constant wiping as a raid team learned fights, a.k.a. progression. It made me grumpy and cheapskate me has always hated repair bills. When you battle, your gear gradually loses durability, but death dealt major blows to gear, thus racking up that bill in a hurry. My real-life frugality carried over to gaming. I liked to raid when I was just about the only person learning a fight. That way it’d take no more than a few tries, and if I died, it was no big deal. Midget me could piggyback on the veterans.
Good lord, I was such a noob back then. But, before I can get de-noobified, I need make some more friends, have life take a hard turn into depression mode, yet find a little romance.
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I have to share one particularly funny story from my BC days, before I move on to the next expansion. It involved me on my mage Midgetofdoom, a hunter friend, and a priest friend, all of us casually chatting on Vent while we three-manned an instance called Slave Pens. The instance is a watery version of its namesake with fishy monsters enslaving dwarfish humanoids that look like a purple version of Davy Jones from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.
We were using the hunter’s pet as our tank, so we were doing very well, until one of the monsters with a mind control power made one pull go horribly awry. The pet died, I died, the priest died, and our hunter friend used his ability Feign Death, which tricks enemies into thinking they’ve already killed the hunter, so they go back to where they were before attacked.
When the coast was clear, he popped back to his feet. “No one release. I have goblin jumper cables.” [Release: in order to recover from death, you either have an ally resurrect you, or you release your ghost to the nearest graveyard and run back to your body. Don’t ask how your body is hale and whole after all that. It’s a video game.]
Said cables are unreliable AEDs. Most of the time they work, and the rest of the time they turn the target into a charred husk. However, the odds of that are small, so they come in handy, especially for non-healing classes, who lack resurrection spells.
Our hunter friend prepped the cables and used them on the priest, so she could resurrect me next. “I love these cables,” the hunter said in a reverent voice that sounded like it was ready to break into song.
“They didn’t work,” the priest said flatly.
“I hate these cables,” he said with the vehemence of a person in need of a sledgehammer.