Back in November, I told you why I think that the return to the Lair of Pitchwing is going to be really cool: We can expect some iconic boss fights with partly unique mechanics, the loot is phenomenal and finally there is the possibility to build the legendary sword Thunder Wrath in Classic. For me personally, however, visiting BWL will also be a nostalgic trip back to 2005. Actually, it's a great pity (and a good thing at the same time, but more on that later) that all the players who missed Vanilla WoW back then will never get to know the Bad Luck Wielding Hoard the way we experienced it from the very beginning.
The Classic version, which will go online at 0:01 on February 13, can only scratch the surface here and reflect a distorted image of the original (in terms of difficulty, for example). And because that's the case, in this article I'd like to bring you closer to what it was like to visit the pitchwing lair for the first time almost 15 years ago.
Hard-fought progress from room 1 on
Patch 1.6 was released on July 12, 2005, and included a raid challenge called the Blackwing Lair that would challenge all raid groups in Azeroth much more than the Molten Core with Ragnaros and Co. had done up to that point. Right at the beginning, players were in for a painful surprise: there was no trash or easy entry boss to warm up to. Instead, all guilds were greeted by two bouncers, Razorgore and Vaelastrasz, who were crisper than the final boss in MC. Especially "Vael" should earn the reputation of the "Guild Breaker" in the coming weeks, who has whole guilds on his conscience.
"Cracking", however, should of course be seen in the context of its time. The raid experience of many players was in many cases based solely on what WoW (buy now 14,99 € ) had to offer to date. In addition, while tactics for the BWL bosses quickly got around, sophisticated guides and videos - as they are now a dime a dozen - were scarce at the time. In addition, Vael could only be "tried" for one hour at the beginning, after which the dragon disappeared until the start of the next ID. The situation was similar with the final boss Nefarian: Once you mastered the add phase, access to the balcony closed for the rest of the week. A wipe afterwards and the wait began (Note: By the way, here we have what are probably the only mechanics that were changed in BWL aside from bug fixing before patch 1.12. So neither will be the case in Classic. So neither will be the case in Classic). No wonder it took 77 days to get to Nefarian's World First Kill.
At the time, my guild used only some of the now-familiar tricks to progress in BWL, which can easily be used to defeat certain boss mechanics. We went to UBRS before Vaelastrasz to get the fire resistance buff. Likewise, we later used Stratholme's Holy Water on Nefarian to bomb away the undead as quickly as possible. But I don't remember, for example, that we threw in Potions of Free Action at Razogore, Potions of Regeneration at Chromaggus, or Potions of Invulnerability when needed....
At that time, however, knowledge of one's class was not as well developed as it is today. For example, many playstyles relied on their pet set without hesitation, after all, the items were epic and from Molten Core and thus necessarily awesome. I myself was "lucky" here only because the pet sets from vanilla WoW were good to use for rogues across the board. With the knowledge of today, I would have the Old Core Leather Gloves for my dagger wielder but probably not left ... I also remember that some of our tanks couldn't do the "Stance Dance" with Nefarian. The specific change into Berserker Stance plus the subsequent activation of Berserker Rage was necessary to safely counter Nefarian's Fear effect. Didn't necessarily need it before, so tutoring sessions had to get the tanks on track.01:21
WoW: Retro trailer for patch 1.6 - attack on the pitchwing hoard World of Warcraft from €14.99
The fact that we were stuck for ages, especially with Vaelastrasz, was not only due to all the points mentioned so far. Another reason was the Internet. I still remember that we had to struggle with a latency of 21,000+ in many attempts and that actually four or more players were constantly kicked out of the game after the pull. And that's with a boss like Vael, where quick reactions are required, such as getting tank changes spot-on or moving a soon-to-explode character away from the party. Worth noting: for some reason, the internet problems in the other rooms of the hoard were never as glaring.
How long it took us to finally get BWL to farm status back then, I don't remember. But the cheers in the TS after the first kill of Nefarian are still ringing in my ears. And what I still remember: We were immensely proud of the kill, also because only a few other players on our server had managed this feat before. When we first placed Nefarian's head in Orgrimmar, the whole guild was there, of course. So were many other players from the server, who congratulated us and celebrated with us.
Waiting times from hell
The long explanatory bear and allocation phase at Razorgore, the Internet problems at Vael, then later the respawn timer of Nefarian (15 minutes!) ... with BWL I personally associate incredibly many and long waiting times. But they were also due to the fact that it wasn't as easy in BWL as in Molten Core to just go "afk" for a round. The trash was quite a bit more merciless, and then there was also the infamous trap room, where no fighter was allowed to stay behind.
Since we regularly spent four to five hours in BWL on raid days, the desire for a break or two could not be avoided. Unlike in MC, our raid leaders quickly defined fixed break times. Nevertheless, there were always unplanned interruptions. Partly technical problems were the reason, but partly it was probably also due to the mentality of some players of that time. I had experienced something like that in Vanilla quite often in mixed groups for dungeons and world bosses. In Classic or BfA (but also in the years before), it comes at least in my WoW environment much less often to such forced breaks.
Something like the trap room of BWL from Vanilla WoW never existed in World of Warcraft before or since. Source: buffed
Horny Loot and DKP madness
Time and again I've heard from vanilla or private server players that the BWL loot has caused a lot of drama in their guild. Sure, some of the weapons and trinkets in particular offer a huge upgrade to items previously available in the game, and some of the loot from the hoard remains relevant until Naxxramas or even beyond. On top of that, the most coveted items in particular show up super rarely in the loot window. For my guild, for example, the existence of the Chromatic Hardened Sword was nothing more than a rumor, the second blade Maladath dropped at least once in umpteen months. Paaarty!
Karsten's Rogue in the Vanilla Era; With Tier 2 Set and Maladath. Source: Buffed Fortunately, there was never any drama in my guild because of this. If other players got upset, it was more about the aforementioned waiting times or about the place on the bench (because we were all just horny for raiding). Oh, and after the release of BWL we had problems to get enough registrations for the Molten Core. But we didn't want to give up MC completely, because the one or other upgrade and of course the shackles or the Eye of Ragnaros could still drop there.
Perhaps the loot caused little trouble because we used a DKP system and so everyone had it in their own hands to earn the points for bidding on the desired items. But in BWL, the way players used the DKP system changed. Suddenly there were agreements in the class chat to pay only the minimum for class-internal loot pieces, so that one has more points for the hard-fought items. For the trinkets and weapons were then sometimes blatant sums on the table. Players who subsequently strengthened the raid actually had no chance to bid here. The disadvantages of DKP systems - at least for us - really came to the surface in the hoard ...
Still, I associate mostly positive things with the loot in BWL. Many tier 2 sets look great, as do the various weapons from the raid. In fact, at the release of TBC, my rogue was still wearing a whole bunch of items from the Tough Luck Hoard, combined with a few pieces of loot from Naxxramas and AQ40. And how silly I thought it was to then have to swap out these cherished items in Outland at the leveling stage. After that I looked at the loot in WoW with different eyes, namely as a pure means to an end. Maladath, the Bloodfang Set or the Dragonfang Talisman were even more than that for me.
Long and frequent waits, bosses that despawned for the entire ID, high latency in combination with regular disconnects and the potential for loot drama - maybe some of you are wondering why I - surely also nostalgically transfigured - think back so positively to BWL. But honestly, overcoming all these hurdles and still having all the bosses at farm status at the end was something special. Especially since you have to remember that the hoard was also a noticeable step up from MC and Ony's home in terms of design. We had not entered such an impressive Raid before.
Today, of course, we look back on a very different resume. We've visited Icecrown Citadel, the Black Temple, and many other impressive places. I'm also afraid that BWL in Classic will be too easy for any reasonably ambitious guild to get more than a satisfied nod out of us - read more in the article How hard will the Pitchwing Hoard (BWL) raid be? No, it won't be a special achievement to have completely mastered BWL in Classic. It's just that you can't just repeat the first time, and that's actually a good thing.Support buffed - it only takes a minute. Thank you!
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Classic: Pitchwing Hoard in retro video - Anno 2006.
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