Last night, I could not avoid it any longer, and ended up in 5 man Karazhan. 5 flasks and countless foodbuffs later, we made it to Curator.
Look, nobody said I was pro, did they? Oh yeah, and I used flasks, food and augment runes where I could because you people might pull 500k but I struggled with my sub-standard spec and bad gear choices, but let’s just dispense with the passive aggressive crap in paragraph one and cut to the chase. This isn’t just a Mythic, it’s a Mythic on Steroids. It is brutal and completely unforgiving and asks ridiculous amounts from five people. In essence, it’s the casual challenge that people like me have been demanding since things went Easy Mode after The Burning Crusade. In that regard? It’s the best thing I suspect this game has produced in dungeon content for the best part of a decade.
Nowhere is safe in Karazhan. Having to corpse run without pets because they’ll aggro the mobs we left up to save time was only a hint at just how mental this entire place is. It doesn’t even matter that we haven’t seen the ‘new’ content yet, the old stuff was so brutally tuned for five that it was an effort to not only keep focus but bring the numbers required. If I wasn’t prepared via the Opera’s ‘Westfall Story’ for the sheer amount of visual crap to avoid then Maiden and Curator showed me that despite assurances that spell effects would not be a big deal going forward, they so fucking are. Woe betide ANYONE try running this instance with a low spec machine because if you’re not playing with Ultra video card everything and can see beneath your feet, you don’t have a chance. This is a journey which refuses to allow you to stay still, and will kill you pretty much instantly if you’re not a) prepared and b) organised.
If I died and was sent to Warcraft Hell, this is I suspect what I’d be dealing with on arrival.
Last night, after a shade under five hours, I was exhausted, both physically and mentally. I had one item of loot, which wasn’t an upgrade in iLevel terms. I accrued over 1000g’s worth of repairs, and found myself thinking as I lay face down and watched the rest of my group kill Attumen, that this game does odd things to people’s abilities. If you want to win, and it matters that you see the end of an instance, you often become a better version of yourself. However, there is a point that is reached where it becomes preferable just to stop and walk away. I was reminded of nights wiping on Progression back in ICC where I could have gone all night to win but was aware of other people who just turned up to do the job and stop when the raid end was scheduled. Did those people care less about the common goal? Probably not, but their vision wasn’t clouded by a single-minded determination to succeed ahead of everything else, and that’s the key. When ten people lose one that’s still doable with nine. If five lose one you’re done, unless the four’s superlative. Here’s the major problem therefore with 7.1 Karazhan: unless you’re geared to not need it, you can’t carry on without a full group. That means there’s an exploit to be milked, and people already are.
iLevel 900 guys won’t be running this in the hope they catch a break and get a lucky item drop. They’ll be advertising in Trade to make money, pure and simple, selling you Nightbane’s mount that you’d not have a hope of pulling until Legacy, and we’re in a situation which only normally occurs at the end of an Expansion and not before. Karazhan is already a tourist attraction. In fact, thanks to the Moose that came before it, we’re now at a stage where I’d almost beg ActiBlizz to stop sticking mounts inside contentious content. That’s being negated well before it should be in the hope that opportunist Raiding Guilds can make back the cash you took away from them by nerfing Guild Perks. I’m not sure this is either right or fair, that if you buy enough WoW Tokens you can now effectively purchase everything off the shelf, because I bet that is what’s happening. It might not be Pay to Win but it’s pretty damn close, and suddenly this game stopped being about the joy and wonder of new adventures and becomes a wrapper around how much Real Life cash you’d be prepared to drop in order to get yourself Pro status.
It’s okay, I’ll put my cynicism away now.
If you wanted a defining moment in an Expansion, this is probably it because for a large swathe of players, this is what you’re now aiming to say you completed without the carry. Of course, you can brag to your mates/SO that you won that Mount legitimately, that’s totally cool. You can laugh about how this is as hard as the original except there’s only half of you running the instance. You can do whatever the hell you like in Karazhan, but the key is that you went. Content is only successful when people do the work, and last night all the entrances to said Instance were jam packed, both old and new. It really doesn’t matter, when all is said and done, if you just run the place once and never come back. The key to making Warcraft successful is that you stayed to do so. In that regard, Karazhan is the runaway success that the Designers clearly hoped for.
And here we are at the paragraph where I tell you what I thought… except I didn’t. I didn’t go to Deadwind Pass for myself. I went because I was asked to help, because my Husband wants to finish it. I did my best (and will continue to do so) because I respect the people I went with. However, if you asked me if I wanted to be there? Nope. I don’t find stress at this level either fun or engaging any more, and I knew that’s what I’d get. This is not a part of the game I enjoy, and that’s not likely to change any time soon. The bigger problem of course is that if I wanted to outgear this I should be raiding, and that’s a conversation we’ve already had. When all is said and done, this is not a place that I enjoy in a 5 man iteration, which means by extension that Karazhan is an utter triumph, and ActiBlizz should be suitably congratulated for reinventing content yet again with a contemporary relevance.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll go back to fishing.