My Little Instance
You know, I think I rather enjoy reminiscing. Allow me, if you will, to take you back nearly two years, to March 2008. I was still a relatively new 80 70 (bad habit, brain!) and was wearing PVP gear that I’d saved for, the Lollipop axe and the AH buyable [Valanos’ Longbow]. To me, it was all just gear. I didn’t understand what Stats were needed for what. I wish I had recount installed then, so I could look back and laugh now, but it was too much of a drain on the system. (Partially because I ran it with all 6 live updating graphs running because it looked pretty. What?) I ended up in a heroic normal Shad Labs run. (Brain! This is not Wrath! Shocking errors in typing…) For those of you who don’t know, or this was before your time, or you never went there, Shad Labs stands for Shadow Labyrinth. It’s the toughest instance in the Hub of Auchindoun. It was about equivalent in difficulty to Halls of Lightning heroic in early Wrath. There’s no difficulty equivalent I can give for today’s standards, seeing as ICC gear flattens every 5 man.
I’ll get one thing straight – I didn’t instance whilst levelling. I was even shyer about talking to random people then than I am now, and was terrified of poking my head into the LFG tool. Nevertheless, I saw a group in trade who asked for about 20 minutes for a ranged DPS for Shad Labs. I cautiously accepted. Once we’d flown there, and summoned everyone, I was relieved to see everyone was on roughly the same gear level. What’s more, the tank had downed Illidan! (I’ll get back to that later.)
It wasn’t an unpleasant experience. By today’s standards, we moved through agonisingly slowly. They were all very forgiving, but cautious in their actions. We pulled each pack carefully, often using Line of Sight. I knew enough about 5 mans to know how to lay a trap (the old method without the ability to fire traps was to shoot the mob a few times to pull him off the tank and over a trap you’d placed. You’d have to be very careful about breaking it, with either autoshot, automelee or pet attacking.) The Mage Polymorphed every pull. We slowly moved through. The whole place is a mass of long corridors, with the same architecture as Auchenai Crypts, Mana Tombs and Sethekk halls. This time however, it’s dominated by Cultist tents, Demon Orbs and bones. Bones is always a popular theme in Warcraft in a bad location. You’d think occasionally you’d meet a foe who, despite being utterly vile and evil, would object to actually leaving skeletons around the place. There’s such a thing as being tidy.
I digress. My strongest memories of this first event was the room with all the worshipping Cultists around the Ogre boss, that had to be pulled one at a time. If a stealthed Rogue mob pulled at the same time, it was chaos. If one of the patrolling Mistress’s of Pain joined in the fun, it was a wipe. We spent a long time in that room. Groups were rare enough in those days that everyone seemed to have the 3-4 quests that the instance offered, and we had to kill all the mobs so everyone could loot their share of drops and pick up their lot of Orbs.
Then the boss came. I skipped over the first one, because he isn’t too interesting. But Blackheart the Inciter was my first proper Mind control fight. He’d shout ‘TIME FOR FUN’ every quarter of his health, at which point the entire group (pets and all) would get mind controlled, and lay into each other. This could be devastating I found out on other later trips when there was a gear difference, but seeing as my first group wasn’t too far apart in terms of gear, we didn’t do too much damage. Going hand to claw with Oliver was particularly alarming for me at the time. An interesting glitch of that fight, not that I managed to find any screen shots of it, was that Oliver walked away after that boss was down with the tag <Blackheart the Inciter’s Pet> which I found amusing.
I suppose now is as gooder time as any to point out the massive mistake I made. I thought, from the misleading tabard that the tank was wearing (In the picture, that’s Adonia the druid) that she had killed Illidan. It was only a few months later, when I was raiding with my priest and my hunter, that I thought ‘That’s impossible, she can’t have killed Illi with that gear!’ and I searched around for why I thought she had. A few months later again, I went and helped my girlfriend to complete the Path of Glory quest chain in Shadowmoon valley. That was no bundle of laughs at the time, and needed 3 of us for the final stage. It also rewarded us both with a [Trophy Tabard of the Illidari]. Go check the link. Read the yellow text. I’ll wait. I think it was a forgiveable mistake for a noob 70.
The third boss is a freaky encounter. He’s basically a warlock that spams shadowbolts until he gets bored. Throughout the fight Voidwalkers pop up in the room; if they reach him he regains health and they AoE damage us. He is kited away from them to avoid this. When he reaches optimal boredom, he teleports back up to his pedestal, taking you with him. He then (cheeky tyke) does Rain of Fire on the spot to AoE you down, so running away is vital. After that it’s a rinse and repeat. He also drops (although he never did whilst I ran it) a very cool 5 barrelled gun. I wanted that a lot when I found out about it, but It only dropped after I’d started getting Kara Epics. Shame. We had some troubles with that fight, but none that we could get past.
The trash leading up to the next boss summons more of them if you don’t kill them fast enough. Joy. We were grinding our way up this final hall when I chanced to look up. And see the massive, rotating form of Murmur. It floored me, it really did. This boss was a leviathan. He was carrying a massive sonic spear, and he was picking off the cultists one by one. He was already down to 40% health as well, which seeing the size of his health pool was no bad thing. I looked him up, afterwards, to see what he was. I got this from WoWiki:
Murmur is an incredibly powerful elemental born when the Universe was created, about whom little is known. The Shadow Council inhabiting the Shadow Labyrinth summoned it for their nefarious purposes, but seem to be having trouble keeping him under control. Its history is briefly documented in the Codex of Blood, which reveals Murmur is the primordial essence of sound.
Ort had slain a near god. I was impressed. But I rush ahead- the encounter itself was bizarre. As mentioned, he starts on 40% health. He’ll randomly throw the ranged up in the air, and Nova the melee as he likes, both of which do a massive amount of damage. He also makes a bizarre cacophony of noises, sounding variably like a bus hitting a wall of rubber squeakers, and a Maraca society after 15 rounds of beer. I enjoyed myself. When he dies, he pops. The weapon he was carrying span into the air and then buried itself in the floor, several times the height of my massive Tauren. It was a cool death.
I ran that place many a time afterwards, mostly for the Sonic Spear. I never forgot the first time though, and I still have several screenshots from it. Whilst researching this Post, I found one of the screenshots I hadn’t hidden the UI on. Out of interest, I followed up my group members on the Armory to see where they are now. Adonia, the tank who I thought had slain Illidan but was probably just a thorough quester, levelled to 74 with heirlooms and stopped playing (at least that character) in January. Tactitious, Undead rogue, no longer appears on a search of Terenas. However, there is a Tactitious on the Draenor realm, Undead Rogue with full ICC raiding gear. It’s probably the same chap. Narix the Blood Elf mage has gone on to be an 80 raider and PVPer according to the Armory. Falasia, not pictured above, a Troll Priest and our healer, is in one of the better Horde guilds on the server, and 80. It’s bizarre to look at all of them now, seeing as I knew them as badly geared, friendly puggers. I seem to recall the Rogue and the Druid were alts.
It took about three and a half hours. I loved every minute of it. We finished at something like half past midnight. I didn’t care – finally reaching the end and killing that monstrous elemental was such a buzz.
Lessons were learnt from that place. My education as a true hunter really started there. I did my first proper 70 5man, and it felt epic. I hope new players to the game will go through a similar positive experience at some point.