This close to the end of an expansion, my mind always starts roaming back over things I’ve enjoyed in the current and previous incarnations of the game so today I want to talk about my favourite five man vanilla and TBC dungeons. It’s a combination of things, the atmosphere (scenary and any storylines/quest chains) and the mechanics of the fights which draw me to specific dungeons over and over again.
You never forget your first, whether that was your first kiss, first shot of horseradish vodka, first lover or first ever WoW dungeon. Good or bad, it doesn’t matter, it was your first and that makes it special. It will colour your views of everything which comes afterwards.
We got lost finding the instance and then spent ages wandering around the tunnels before the dungeon proper thinking we were awesome because stuff was dying. When we finally made it through the loading screen there was this sense of WOW…. and that was before we even got close to the the whole boat in a cave bit. The fights were varied and fun, the loot was the best we’d see up until that point and the fact that you could get a rolling pin and two mini-pets made it even better.
The story line behind the instance has always struck me as a fairly poignant one too. I spent much of my childhood not far from Hamelin, the town immortalised in the tale of the Pied Piper and there are definite similarities between that and the story of the Defias, one which could serve as a warning to anyone planning on not paying for services rendered.
The Scarlet Monastery
When I rolled my first Priest, we were levelling as a threesome. Me, the now Mr Harpy on a Druid and a friend playing a Rogue. We had picked a server at random and so were levelling quite happily by ourselves. This involved ganking as many fellow questers as possible (If a Troll Shaman called Ada is reading this.. sorry) and seeing if we could three man most of the levelling dungeons at an appropriate level. This worked like a charm until we encountered the final wing of the Monastery, where Whitemane and co really didn’t want to go down easily.
Whitemane has remained one of my favourite dungeon bosses and I’m really glad that the revamp didn’t see her replaced with a pale imitation. There is something endearing about her fanaticism, her eye makeup and her love for Mograine that makes me feel slightly bad every time I kill her.
Plus she has a Benediction which clearly makes her awesome! Also every time I cast resurrection, a gleeful little voice in my head yells “Arise my champion”.
I love horror movies despite the fact that I have an over-active imagination and am prone to nightmares even if I’m not watching people being slaughtered in inventive ways by homicidal maniacs in haunted houses, thus Scholomance and I were always going to be a match made in heaven. Again it’s an instance I encountered fairly early on because I needed the mana potion recipe which was only obtainable by completing the quest chains there. Then it became a staple of my pre Molten Core farm as I and my guildmates worked on collecting our dungeon sets. The arguments as the warlock in the party always wanted to do Jandice and the tank didn’t, people getting locked out of the Kirtonos fight and the yell of “Schools in session” which always sent a frisson of excitement down my spine as I prayed I wouldn’t be the one getting portaled into a room full of skeletons.
I wrote about my love affair with Scholomance back in 2009 and reading back over that post, my feelings haven’t changed at all. In fact whilst I like the re-make (although it’s bit like beloved films, a part of me is yelling “WHY WHY WHY!!!!”), I feel the spirit of the place has gone. The Eva Sarkhoff quest chain was both chilling and heartbreakingly sad at the same time and I feel it’s removal lessens the Scholomance experience.
The Burning Crusade
Caverns of Time: Old Hillsbrad
Saving Thrall and wandering about in the past, what’s not to love about Old Hillsbrad. Now that Southshore is destroyed, I make pilgrimages to the dungeon to sit in the Inn and mingle amongst the villagers listening to their chatter. I watch little Sally Whitemane running around, carefree and happy not knowing what the future will bring. I’d also love to make a human character who looked like this:
The story is a good one too, trying to stop someone messing with the time line and of course, I love the “disguise” element of the dungeon, seeing my Nightelves and Draenei turning into humans. Thrall versus the armourer never fails to make me smile either even though I know it’s coming.
My favourite board game when I was small was called Labyrinth and of course, I loved the the David Bowie movie too (he was my second ever crush after Daley Thomson) so my excitement towards Shadow Labs was building long before TBC was actually released. The first actual run was a little disappointing but as I healed run after run helping my guild attune themselves to Karazhan it grew on me. I particularly enjoyed the second boss, Mr Mindcontrol because of the chaotic nature of the fight. It was like a smaller scale precursor of the Faction Champions. Shadow Labs was also the source of one of my greatest triumphs when myself, Mr Harpy on his warrior and a warlock guildmate managed to three man most of the instance in the first few weeks of the Burning Crusade (at a time when most people were complaining about the difficulty of the instance and the randomness and nastiness of the 2nd boss in particular.
Next time I’ll be explaining why my favourite picks of Wrath and Cataclysm probably aren’t everyone else’s cup of tea.