Nostalgia’s a dangerous thing. At the weekend, someone on my Twitter feed mentioned Dire Maul, and I was transported back to a time in my life where confidence was in limited supply, yet my desire to learn pushed past the shortfall. I was beginning to grasp the vastness of the world that Azeroth was, and possibilities for me as a player within it. The dungeon hub in Ferelas was where I would learn to be a better player, and I should this morning thank the woman responsible for making that happen. I was taught to play by a Night Elf Priest called Elene (see her video below) whose influence still remains in my mind (and play style) many years after my first journey into those five person instances.
The first time through Dire Maul East is etched into the memory, mostly thanks to the amount of effort it took to get inside that instance alive. Once there I was taught the first rule of dungeons: kill the mana users first. These guys have less armour, but do more damage, and therefore their swift demise is what matters most, and as was the case with all of those three instances, the first run was as hard as the most punishing raid encounters I’ve ever fought. Inside the East Wing a number of important things could be farmed: Run Tumm Tubers (one of the best ways to max your Cookery to 300 back in the day) and Living Essence (which used to be the only reliable farming spot for some time) plus a number of lovely items for those who loved to dress up. It also had possibly one of the scariest rooms to cross to access a last boss that ever existed in game, and if you never did it at level, you never lived.
I find myself thinking a lot of DM runs as I go about my Broken Isles gathering tasks for Professions: there are a great many parallels between these and (as an example) the Warlock Mount quest: the hand of the past remains on present’s shoulders even now. You travelled to Dire Maul West for the Paladin mount too, and I think of the three instances this is the one that remains fondest in memory. That’s where you took class books for the trinkets that they rewarded, plus where one needed to go to have the best chance (so I was told) at seeing Foror’s Compendium of Dragon Slaying drop. This book, snagged by one of my Guildies in an evening that will never dim from memory, starts the journey to what was at the time one of the most desired items for anyone tanking.
Ah, Onyxia, Before the Cataclysm. That was a mental fight with 40 people. It also gives me an excuse (if one were needed) to stick in here the best You Tube video ever made about playing the game. If, like today I am feeling sad, this is pretty much guaranteed to raise a smile:
Finally, there was Dire Maul North, and as a Leatherworker that meant a Tribute Run that was more complicated than any of the stuff you’ll ever get asked to do currently, but rewarded a Cache of goodies that also held a choice of cloak recipes that were the best crafts in game, period. In fact, the Hide of the Wild became the de facto back slot item for healers doing Molten Core and beyond. A particular Guildie managed in the space of six months to become the wealthiest person I had ever seen, by doing nothing else with his time but farming the mats for these and selling them, often without the things ever touching the Auction House. When the TBC Expansion was announced he realised his market would vanish and sold the account to a random person who stripped him of gold and then vanished.
Ah, those were the days.
Patch 1.3 was deployed to the Servers on March 7th, 2005, which means it will be 12 years old on Wednesday. I still owe a massive debt of gratitude to Elene, and if she comes here because suddenly that old You Tube channel gets some love, I’m still beyond grateful for her help and assistance in learning to play. There’s not a visit to the Eastern Kingdoms that goes by without a thought to Feralas, which remains my favourite zone even now, and when the servers finally are disconnected for good, that’s where I’ll send my characters to die. Dire Maul was a great place to play in, and Legion owes a great deal to those early five mans for a great many things, not simply the need to play well to complete an objective.