I was raiding with my guild in Dragon Soul recently. We killed Deathwing, the Aspects channeled their energies into the Dragon Soul, and Thrall fired the artifact off. Deathwing exploded into a poof of fireworks—rather anti-climatically, actually. All that was left behind was an Elementium Fragment.
Our loot rules are as follows: main spec rolls beat off-spec rolls; anyone who hasn’t won gear yet gets priority over those who have won something. Simple, except the Reins of the Blazing Drake dropped. It’s not a piece of gear, so main spec and off-spec don’t apply here. What was our raid leader to do? Open rolls, of course!
All ten raiders rolled. I was the fourth person to roll, and rolled a 93. I was so excited even though the last 6 people had a chance of beating my roll. I couldn’t contain myself! I started celebrating early, with a giddy laugh barely coming out through Ventrilo—Carmelo was the only one to hear me, I think.
And I won.
Carmelo and I waited until everyone got off of Vent. I stood up, cheered, danced, and squealed with complete and utter glee. Maybe not in that order, but I was excited. I let the ecstasy wash over me. I can’t recall a time I had ever been so jubilant from playing a game. It was an amazing feeling.
Everyone had hearthed back to Orgrimmar, and I was asked to show off my spoils. I was more than happy to oblige. About ten minutes everyone got to see my new mount, the power went out. I was so excited that I didn’t even care I couldn’t see anything.
As I sat in the candlelit darkness for the next two hours, I had a disturbing realization. It was the first time in over 4500 hours that I was truly excited about an accomplishment in World of Warcraft.
A small selection of my Feats of Strength
I’ve done some pretty incredible things during my tenure on Azeroth.
I’ve killed Kael’Thas Sunstrider in Magister’s Terrace. My party was dead and I was the last one standing. As a lowly priest, not even level 70, I brought the crazed blood elf down with Smite. It was the first time I ever tasted being awesome, and that might have gone to my head just a little bit. (I’m totally awesome, though.)
I’ve solo healed Grand Widow Faerlina in Naxxramas. At the time, it was not an easy task. There’s poison damage, and since Priests can’t dispel poisons, I had to heal through it. There’s raid damage from Rain of Fire. I did what three of our healers couldn’t, and we won. Again, being totally awesome probably went to my head just a little bit.
When I switched guilds, I was there to help my new guild defeat the gatekeeper of Icecrown Citadel, Deathbringer Saurfang. It was the guild’s first kill of that boss, and Carmelo and I had been in the new guild for less than two hours. We’re totally awesome, which is why we were recruited.
I bore witness to the death of Arthas Menethil, the Lich King, atop Icecrown Citadel. Sure, the guild had pugged PUG’d it the week before and so it wasn’t our first kill. (Technically it was my first kill.) We didn’t have to wait until Cataclysm to do it, though; we beat the clock on patch 4.0.1 by a few days.
I’ve slain Cho’gall, master of the Twilight’s Hammer. It was a tough fight, enjoyable to heal, but just another boss. I’ve slain both Nefarion and Onyxia in Blackwing Descent. Another tough fight, but we managed just fine. I’ve slain the Firelord in his own domain, ending his reign of terror once and for all.
I slew mighty Deathwing, Big Bad internet dragon of Cataclysm and former-Aspect-of-Earth-turned-minion-of-the-Old-Gods. It’s not as exciting as it sounds. The next week, I slew him again, and won a Blazing Drake for my efforts. Or lack of, depending on who you ask; if a healer doesn’t have to try to be awesome, does the healing they do still count as effort?
She’s a beauty, by the way.
It’s strange. I’ve won many pieces of gear. I’ve won many mounts. I’ve collected numerous things of value, but none of them ever brought me joy. I’ve done things I had considered improbable, if not impossible. Nothing was as exciting as winning the Blazing Drake, though. Winning loot has never excited me before.
Skadi doesn’t know I have requisitioned Grauf as my mount. It’s a Blue Proto Drake. I beat Carmelo for the roll, the one time we ever saw it drop.1
I have a kick-ass leather dress for Cecilia. There’s nothing terribly exciting about buying a vanity item off of the auction house. Although, it did amuse me to see another rogue outfitted with a dress while raiding Dragon Soul this past weekend.
I have a Kirin Tor Familiar. I might have spent more time camping book spawns in Dalaran than I did trying to find the Time-Lost Proto Drake (which still eludes me!) I even had an edge over the competition, as I could use Mind Vision to see each and every book I was missing; I didn’t have to run around town.
I’ve come across full sets of tier gear. Completing my first set of tier gear was an accomplishment, but hardly exciting. I had obtained countless epic-quality items before that point. I still have some of these sets simply because they look fantastic. Transmogrification adds such value to otherwise obsolete equipment.
I earned the Violet Proto Drake the first year it was available. Dutifully participating in world events is certainly festive, although Children’s Week might have ruined things for me. (I will say that Alexstrasza sent the mount to me. I think she likes me!)
From Kael’Thas in Magister’s Terrace, I have both the Phoenix Hatchling and the Swift White Hawkstrider. While I did cackle maniacly2 at the sight of the Hawkstrider, that was more because I had found it after only 10 kills compared to Carmelo’s 70. And it dropped the day after I looted the Phoenix Hatchling, wherein Carmelo and I discussed my obscene luck with mounts and how people should bring me along to guarantee a mount drops.
I have an Onyxian Whelping, a Baby Blizzard Bear,3 Mr. Chilly, Grunty the Murloc Marine, and countless other pets of similar value. The same goes for many other mounts, such as the X-53 Rocket, Grand Black War Mammoth, and Swift Zhevra. I had a Swift Zulian Tiger, but I gave it away; aside from the mammoth, none of these can be obtained anymore.
My point is, I have many things, many things of prestigious value, be it real or imagined.
Why did it take me 4500 hours and countless drops before I found something that truly excited me? How has nothing else generated this level of giddiness? Perhaps it has something to do with the 4% drop chance. Loot rules for the mount weren’t clearly defined at any point before the roll, so perhaps it has something to do with how the raid leader could have ninja-looted the mount.
Eris Havenfire tried to save the peasants fleeing from the culling of Stratholme. Many were cut down, and she failed. Her spirit lingers on outside the ruins. If I were to bring her piece and secure a splinter of Nordrassil, then I had to do what she could not. I had to relive the event.
“They will walk towards the light, you must ensure their survival. Should too many fall, our cursed existence shall continue – you will have failed.
Every ability, prayer, and spell that you have learned will be tested. May the Light protect you, Adam.”
This terrifying conflict appears to be taking place somewhere in Lordaeron.
You can barely make out a lone female figure, standing amidst a thousand corpses, fending off a sea of Scourge. She is hopelessly outnumbered.
Tendrils of light escape her hands, cutting through undead by the hundreds.
All for naught, it would seem. Moments later the priestess is swarmed by the corpses of the peasants that were surrounding her… The fallen have risen.
The Balance of Light and Shadow was the single most epic thing I had ever done in World of Warcraft, and I had to do it alone. I had to cleanse diseases, use triage to keep all of the the peasants alive, and shackle the undead assaulting the peasants. It was a true test of priesthood. The Balance of Light and Shadow is a crucible wherein one finds the true knowledge of the Light. It forges great (and totally awesome) Priests. It’s the quintessential Priest class.
Alas, Benediction can no longer be obtained. And while owning a truly prestigious item is a source of pride, it doesn’t excite me or bring me joy. It is as much a trophy of accomplishment as it is a symbol of mundane treasure, grim reminder of the journey that followed.
Yet the Blazing Drake is special. It’s mine. I still get giddy when I mount up. I make small, excited claps when people comment on it. She’s a beauty, and she’s mine. Here’s another image of the Blazing Drake. You can even see Benediction strapped to my Priest’s back!
It’s an amazing feeling.
Crow’s Nest: How two birds learned to fly over a lake
Carmelo and I used to speedrun Halo 3.4 For the longest time, there weren’t any appreciable differences between solo runs and co-op runs; times differed by less than five seconds. There’s one level that we were particularly fond of, Crow’s Nest, which is an old UNSC base. There is a section in Crow’s Nest featuring an underground lake. Above it is the base’s landing pad and the only way up is by elevator, which is on the other side of the lake. To get from one side of the lake to the other, players must go through the barracks which are occupied by Brutes. It’s a difficult section to speedrun in co-op as it is an enclosed area packed with enemies. Grenades are deadly and plentiful, which is more often a curse than a blessing.
I was messing around in a multiplayer session on my own; I had created a Forge layout that essentially gave me unlimited gravity lifts and a gravity hammer. I was launching myself higher than was normal, making things go further than they were supposed to, and everything just clicked. I brought Carmelo in, showed him what I was thinking, and then once we were on the same page we started practicing in campaign.
That same week, a trickjumper—DJ Maluu, I believe—managed to find a way across the lake alone. He first jumped onto the steel beam structure next to the barracks entrance, then climbed it as high as the game would allow. He worked his way over to the end, and through trickjumping, he managed to land next to the elevator. He had subverted the barracks, but the process took more time than it saved—the trick wouldn’t be viable for a speedrun. More importantly, once he got to the elevator, he discovered that it could still be activated. Thus, the barracks could be safely subverted, and Carmelo and I had proprietary knowledge for doing such a thing in co-op.
A few attempts later, and he was on the other side. We were ecstatic. We had just pioneered a technique that cut 60 seconds off the run time. Every co-op Crow’s Nest run has to use our trick from that point on and we knew it. It is our legacy to the game.
What do the Blazing Drake and Crow’s Nest have in common?
The raid was unaware that the majestic Blazing Drake could drop. As soon as I saw it, I was excited. I have an uncanny ability to win every single mount that drops; between that and the low drop chance, I knew I was going to have something amazing. And, considering that it was a reward for completing current content at the end of the expansion, I knew it was unlikely that we were going to see another one drop. The Blazing Drake is the culmination of many hours of raiding in Cataclysm.
When Carmelo and I started speedrunning, we knew that co-op runs should be faster than solo runs because we can kill Covenant faster and abuse loading zones. When I figured out that combining a gravity lift with a gravity hammer could propel another player a great distance, I knew that I had stumbled upon an amazing shortcut. Seeing Carmelo land on the other side of the lake and summon the elevator was just an amazing feeling. Many hours of practice culminated in that one moment.
Before each scenario there was nothing, and then there was something.6 And then, be it through a stroke of genius or plain luck, that something was mine. But at the same time, the nebulous something could also have been obtained by another party, so there was a competitive element to it. So what makes these things exciting for me is that I was the first to have something truly prestigious: in Halo 3, pioneering a speedrunning trick; in World of Warcraft, a mount that most of our server is unlikely to own.
In other words, things are special when only I have them.
- You’ll notice the recurring theme that I win all the mounts. ↩
- That’s what assholes do, you see. They wait until an opportune moment presents itself, and then they gloat. No one is sure why assholes do this, but leading experts believe it has to do with being a complete asshole. ↩
- Baby Blizzard Bear will plop its butt down and just stare the raid boss down while everyone else kills it. Baby Blizzard Bear does not give a fuck. Baby Blizzard Bear does what it wants and you will find it adorable. ↩
- I tossed up the idea of doing a speedrun recently. Turns out file shares for Halo 3 have been taken offline, so even if we broke our still-standing records, we wouldn’t be able to send each other the saved films to record both perspectives for the video. ↩
- “A few pixels” is not an accurate measure of distance in a video game with 3D graphics. It’s a wholly relative term. What may be 2 pixels from my viewpoint may actually be 32 pixels by Carmelo’s viewpoint. In “world units” (which is a more accurate, albeit technical, term), that might be 0.30 meters—assuming that Halo 3 uses meters as its world units. Thing is, we don’t know how to measure distance in a video game. So while pixels is inaccurate, it conveys the idea quickly and without confusion. ↩
- Like a magic fart. ↩