Despite having first played World of Warcraft when I was very young, I’m still pretty new to the game.
To elaborate, I’ve come and gone over the years. The first time I played World of Warcraft was after the release of Burning Crusade. That was all the way back in 2007 when I was just 13 years old. My best friend’s entire family was playing, so every time I went over to her house I had to sit in agony watching her play hour after hour of it. So, I begged my parents to get it for me so I could play. But I had to share the account and the computer with my sisters. A fair trade, if you ask me.
Like a normal kid, I got bored of the game eventually and we cancelled our subscription. I went back every now and then, usually when there were free weekends or free monthly trials. This was way before the free trial version of the game that’s available now for anyone.
My point is, I wasn’t a regular subscriber. I didn’t stand in line outside of Wal-Mart each time a new expansion came out. Sure, I played quite a few hours of Burning Crusade, but didn’t progress past level 30 before giving up. I only recently picked it back up in anticipation of Shadowlands, World of Warcraft‘s newest expansion.
In order to play the Shadowlands content I had to fully level up a character through all of World of Warcraft’s expansions. So, without a level boost, I spent a few weeks levelling my character from 1-120. As I levelled, I completed hundreds of quests and dozens of dungeons I’d never done before. I also completed my first raid, which was far more complicated than I was prepared for.
For the uninitiated, raids in World of Warcraft are longer dungeons with more bosses. These bosses are much harder and have multiple phases. Players will enter the raid with a much larger group of people consisting of up to 30 players. Once you’ve got your group together, you can head into the dungeon to take on your first boss.
Because there are so many people involved, so many different mechanics you have to remember, and multiple spells you have to avoid and interrupt, things can (and do) get complicated, and fast. Much more so than I could have ever imagined. Thankfully, I have a group of much more experienced friends to help me out – but I can’t imagine going into a raid fully blind without someone telling me what the heck I’m meant to be doing.
Castle Nathria, Shadowlands’ first raid, consists of multiple bosses all with their own phases, spells and moves to learn. Huntsman Altimor is one of the first bosses who stands out most vividly to me. This boss has a few hounds that aid him in his battle against you and your fellow players. Each hound has their own set of abilities, and the Huntsman himself will be attacking your group at the same time. While my team and I failed on our first attempt, we excelled on our second. At that point, I figured raids perhaps weren’t so tough after all. But then we took on The Council of Blood.
When we first went into The Council of Blood boss battle, I was confident. In fact, I was overly confident. So far my raiding experience had been a successful one, so I was sure there wasn’t much to worry about. I entered what looked like a large dining hall with vampire-like people around the outside looking in at us. In Discord, my raid members were explaining the three different bosses and different phases we’d have to focus on. Here’s some of what I picked up on during the discussion, keeping in mind this was my very first time and I had no idea what was going on. It felt very much like walking into the middle of a biochemistry lecture and it was my first day.
- There are three bosses: Freida, Niklaus and Lord Stavros. There was an argument about which we should kill first. We decided on Freida.
- The tanks would be distracting Lord Stavros so that the damage dealers (i.e. me) could focus on Freida.
- Freida sends out a powerful attack called Dreadbolt Volley every few seconds that someone has to interrupt, or the entire Raid Party gets damaged.
- We were separated into groups and each group would be responsible for interrupting Frieda.
- “No, that’s no good – let’s kill Stavros first.”
- “No, never mind; Frieda it is.”
- Four markers were placed on the ground the show where people would need to stand during the raid. The blue square indicated where the tanks would be standing with Stavros; the yellow circle indicated where the damage dealers would be attacking Freida; the green triangle is where the healers should stand; and the red X is where players should move from one side of the room to the other with their partner should they be attacked by the “Dark Recital” move.
Have you gone cross-eyed yet? Yeah, me too.
During our first couple of attempts, it was evident that we weren’t rotating our interrupts on Dreadbolt Volley in the right way. A player was chosen to call out when interrupts were required and each group would take turns interrupting so that we could be sure to always interrupt the Volley’s on time.
After losing and regaining players – and going through and explaining all of the rules again – we got a little further each attempt. Then, a new boss move was introduced. The Dance of the Macabre.
In my opinion, we should have known about this ahead of time, but it is what it is. In the dance, you have to move to your designated square and dance up, down, left or right according to directions. This wiped us out the first time it happened. Eventually, after getting through the volleys and the dance we were able to kill Frieda no problem. From there, DPS were instructed to move on to killing Stavros.
The problem there is that there is another new move we weren’t warned about: the Waltz of Blood. During the Waltz of Blood phase, dancers literally DESCEND from the ceiling and you have to try and avoid them while still attacking the boss as much as you can. For me specifically, the hardest part is keeping track of where I should be standing to avoid taking harsh damage. Stavros has a particularly painful “Evasive Lunge” move that does significant damage if you are standing directly behind or in front of him.
Once you kill the first two bosses, killing the third is a much simpler task. It’s getting there with most, if not all, of your raid party intact that’s the difficult part.
What I find really interesting about raids in World of Warcraft is that every member of the team matters. It may seem like it’s not important if just one person dies, but everyone has their role to play, so each death does mean something. Tanks are in charge of keeping the attention of the bosses on them, while the DPS work on whittling down the health of the boss as quickly as they can. And, of course, the healers are focusing on trying to keep people from dying when they’re able.
Even though I’ve been playing World of Warcraft off and on since 2007, there are quite a few things (uh, more than a few) that I’m still learning about. And that includes how complicated raids can be. You really have to be in-sync with your group and know the ins and outs of the game in order to come out on top. It isn’t the same as the rest of the game where you can, usually, just hit random buttons (i.e. my strategy).
I’d like to say that after my experience with the Council of Blood, I’m ready to head back into Castle Nathria to take on the next boss, but honestly, it’s a nightmare I don’t know if I ever want to revisit. And not just because there are terrifying vampires who force you to dance.