Carve your name into my arm
Instead of stressed I lie here charmed
Cause there’s nothing else to do
Every me and every you
– Placebo. For destructive emo relationships, accept no substitutes.
My dignity, I has lost it.
Bugged guildies off and on about trying challenge modes for a while now, after our initial distressing attempt at Scholomance back in the days of <463 gear. So it turns out a guild group tried a couple after their sunday LK run – which I didn’t join, because fuck having cool mounts; I’m all aloof and shit. Like, what-eveeerrr.
Monday night most of the same group decided to go for a couple of the challenges they hadn’t done on sunday. An invite descended upon my pally, and there was a faint chiming of bells in the distance. Or maybe I’m just remembering that because of the subsequent aneurysm.
We started with Scarlet Halls which is, according to the guide that our one and only prepared party member had consulted, the easiest of the instances in which to pick up a silver. Seems legit, I mean it’s not like the chained dogs in the hallway didn’t chew us into pieces a couple of times running back from wipes. Seriously, if you get dazed, you will die. Let us not speak of the joy of resetting the instance, starting the timer and discovering one of the roaming packs of dogs + master right up next to the party.
We might have actually picked up a silver if it wasn’t for a party member dying miserably in the underground section just after the dartboard event. Doubling back to get him through again cost us a lot of time. There may or may not have been other adventures where mobs mysteriously pulled from the corridor just before Tornado McAxeFace and the healer somehow managed about 3 million healing in around half a minute. Disclaimer: That sounds like hyperbole, but it isn’t. This is our champion healer, a guy who has been pretty unfazed by anything since Firelands, pulling somewhere around 100k hps in gear scaled back to 463. I had never heard him actually say “wait, I need mana” before.
In the end, though, we’d figured Halls out pretty well and figured we could make silver on another night. Full of vim and vigor, we headed out toward Scholomance. After the sheer horror that was Halls, we expected the site of our former humiliation to be an undead-themed rollercoaster through the amusement park of our repeated gruesome deaths.
Not so much. Not even all that memorable, really. Well, right up until we pulled the final boss… see, in Normal and Heroic modes, Darkmaster Gandling is a bit of a joke. He hits like a bag of stoned kittens, and his adds fall over if you look at them funny. For Challenge, he hits like a train. A desecrated, burning train with a grudge about being called ‘a bit of a pussy’ by anyone who’s done the previous difficulties. His adds explode violently and do terrible, terrible things to anyone in aggro range in general. Being catastrophically unprepared for this, we ended up forfeiting our chance at a silver while running back through the entire bloody dungeon for the third or so time. C’est la vie.
Thus emboldened by our victories, we headed out to Nizuao Temple. Where I promptly brought disgrace to my family and my dojo by managing to asspull just about every skippable trash pack in the entire place. Whoops. On the plus side, the instance doesn’t seem terribly different from the HC version – no trash casting mass fears, no sudden and unexpected stuns, just a whole pile of damage and more damage. Which is not to say that it’s not difficult. The challenge in this one is more managing to get through the place quickly and efficiently rather than dealing with brave new mechanics. So yeah, my lapse in concentration cost us what would probably have been a shoe-in for a silver there as well. GG.
Overall impression of Challenges? Well, they’re on the polar opposite of Scenarios, with standard HCs basically acting as the creamy bland filling in this suddenly geologically inappropriate metaphor. Where Scenarios are easily overgeared, basically soloable and tuned for low co-operation, Challenges are all about teamwork and synergy. They’re a callback to Cataclysm, where a single bad player in your HC suddenly turned it from VP farming into a hell without end. That’s their strength. There is no gear. There is no gold. There’s… pretty much a mountain of VP, actually, if you’re doing the daily challenge. But for the most part, the reward of challenge modes is the challenge. It’s overcoming something genuinely difficult through class knowledge, ability and concentration.
Okay, and a bit of research. And maybe a few potions of invisibility.
Still, It’s immensely satisfying to feel like you’re good at this game. And I like that. I really do.