Monday, August 3, 2015

A Day in the Past: The TBC Story

While I started as feral and fought tooth and claw to succeed and have my ability be recognized, at the end of Vanilla, a friend convinced me to go balance.

just add moonfire

He wanted to play my character late at night in WSG (don't tell Blizzard), so I let him. He raved about how amazing balance was in PvP and sent me many screencaps of impressive scoreboards. I think he was just a very good PvPer, but he did get me exalted with the Warsong Outriders, so there's that.

Because I was "stuck" as balance, I got adjusted to it, to the point where I realized, hey, I kinda like this. I stayed balance into TBC where I kept it while leveling and for the first three or four months.

In terms of socially being a subhuman low life hybrid spec, I definitely took a step backward. Feral got a lot better in TBC, while already ahead of balance in the first place. If I had stayed feral, I'd have achieved being a "real spec" a lot sooner, but as I've said before, I never back down from being an underdog.

The beginning of TBC also marked the first time I took a break from raiding. Something about the new open world content in TBC led me to want to just do stuff without being obligated to stop in order to go raid on a predetermined schedule.

you wouldn't even know if this was actually an old screencap

I farmed my Ogri'la rep, my Skettis rep, I farmed mobs and herbs, explored, did dungeons, raided Halaa, Hellfire towers, and the Auchindoun spirit towers, and leveled alts.

they still remember me after all these years

My guild, with which I had cleared six bosses into AQ - the first five non-optional (cleared twins) and the bug trio - and two bosses into Naxx - Rasuvious and Anub'rekhan - was still raiding full force and brought me into a Karazhan or two here and there. When I did go, I topped a few meters on bosses in my regular dungeon blue jeans.

While I wasn't raiding, some insidious guild drama was going on full force within our ranks. I didn't learn until basically after it had all happened, but due to splitting our guild into two main groups because of Karazhan's limit of 10 people, one group had decided that they were way better than the other group.

Once we were charging into actual 25 man raiding content, the group that saw themselves as better were constantly scrutinizing and belittling the other group. A rift split the guild apart, and the members that were left started to scrounge around for raiders. This included asking me to raid with them again.

Except, obviously not as balance, since it wasn't a real spec.

queue tree form

I went resto and started raiding again. I was brought into Kara and went to multitudes of heroics to get my gear up, and as my hybrid tendencies would easily predict, I ended up stacking spirit so that I could be a healing buff.

everyone who didn't play in TBC right now

If you don't remember, resto druids in TBC gained permanently necessary Tree of Life form. It went through many changes until it was decided that needing to always be in a form to augment healing abilities was unnecessary and clunky, but in its original incarnation, tree form gave an aura that increased the healing done to the affected targets. This healing increase was based off of a percentage of the druid's own spirit rating, and as with buffs back in those days, it was only party wide. This meant that I wasn't in the healer group with the shadow priest mana battery or shaman's mana spring/tide and I had to manage and maintain my mana all on my own in order to give the tank group this healing buff.

authentic vintage screencap of a Gruul's Lair raid

dat spirit doe

Yup, even as a "real spec", I managed to put myself in an underdog situation. Without mana regen and other healer group party buffs, I had to perform at the top of my game in order to maximize my throughput. I met many resto druids who disregarded their healing buff capabilities in favor of healer group privileges. At least with all my spirit, innervate basically gave me two mana bars. Using it while completely out of mana pumped me back to full.

authentic TBC era Andro

The guild that asked me to make the resto switch eventually fell apart one A'lar kill into Tempest Keep progression. Luckily, we had been well known for being pretty great and my search for a new home was the easiest I had ever had. I didn't even have to apply - I was a strongly desired spec from a successful guild. I spoke to the GM and was told to apply as a formality, but was invited almost immediately after submitting it.

I stayed resto through almost all of TBC until around Sunwell's Brutallus. The guild was interested in a balance druid for the hybrid buffs they provided, considering the DPS output required to down Brut. We even had a paladin that went retribution for the fight (hint: ret was the "worst" hybrid spec in TBC, also one of my alt's specs) for the buffs to melee. We had another druid go balance instead of me, but he was... well.

the worst. he was the worst.

He was rockbottom on the meter and dared to excuse his abhorrent behavior by saying it was because of his spec. He was a hybrid, of course his DPS would be awful. I'm sure you can imagine how irate that poor excuse made me.

I pleaded with the GM. I was our only resto druid, and if I did go balance, the other balance druid would probably class swap or quit. It would leave us without my healing buff and without a hotbot entirely, but I knew I could blow it out of the water. I guaranteed him that I would pull more than acceptable numbers and I would perform a thousand times better than our "other balance druid".

He let me swap. I can't stress enough how much I did indeed blow it out of the water. As a poor, defenseless hybrid class, I was never out of the top five on any boss, closer to top three on average. With 25 people including two tanks and 4-6 healers, that means I, a simple lowly hybrid, was outdpsing between 13 to 17 people on any given fight.

I wish I had a screenshot so I could say this without being discredited by the majority of people, but when I went back to balance, I was ranking on World of Logs as the 4th best balance druid in the US and 12th best in the world. This was of course helped by there being about 20 balance druids total as well as having the absolute best gear available, but it was a proud time for me. TBC was the highlight of my raiding career - it all went downhill from there.

WotLK: the harbinger of my guild's downward spiral
Stay tuned!

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