So I got "there" (which is to level 70) almost two months ago. But any veteran will tell you that the game really starts at max level in an MMO.

World of Warcraft, which sits at the head of this particular table, is no different. Once you get to level 70 in TBC, you've got a long list of chores to complete. Of course, it's up to you to find entertainment in what is a large, multi-layered skinner box. If you break it down completely, which is what some people do. Then they're surprised when they're so unhappy.

I want to keep this introduction short, because I have a few significant events I'd like to cover before digging into the game properly.

Critical Information Summary

Class: Shaman
Race: Troll
Specialisation: Elemental
Current Playtime: 472 Hours
Professions: Leatherworking (375) Skinning (375)

Context is important before I tell you my first story.

This article series has always been about recording my journey. Of course, it's a lot easier to write when the journey is intertwined with tangible game progress. Levelling is a handy framing device.

So, you'll have to forgive me if this column is a little rough.

It's critical to understand that TBC Classic is a social game. World of Warcraft retail is highly advanced in how it handles servers and players. You can meet and play with players cross-server, which is very cool and convenient. But that isn't present in TBC.

This means you play with the same players a lot, even outside your guild. You have minor server celebrities, reliable people from other guilds you can ask to join your cause and of course, notable villains who steal loot and you cannot trust. It's all part of the fun, like being part of a big office building.

I really enjoy bantering with people late at night. I'm not a server celebrity, but I'm not entirely unknown. But there's a reason that I appear on people's radars at all.

In all versions of World of Warcraft, players organise themselves into guilds. It's more important in TBC because there's fewer people who organise so-called pick up group (PUG) raids. Whereas in retail that's very common because it's so easy.

Whilst levelling and for a small portion of the end game, I was a part of a guild. The Lost Marbles, operated by Gandrayda and Tearyal, Americans who had transferred there with the rest of their guild. I worked my way up from no-one to someone and eventually scored a slot. I did some Karazhan runs and we eventually tried Gruul's Lair.

Then, one morning, everything changed.

I woke up to find the guild's discord had been deleted. I then logged in to find the guild disbanded.

People had already moved guilds, others were asking what happened. It was chaos.

What happened next, I cannot explain. I had never felt such clarity in my mind, nor pureness of purpose. Like it was my duty to carry on the good work of the Lost Marbles and carry on their memory.

So I bought a guild charter, gathered up some signatures, and just like that, I was a newly minted guild leader.

I spent the rest of that Saturday putting the guild back together. Fortunately due to the circumstances of the guild implosion, people were enthusiastic to come back. I started a campaign in looking for group with a tag line of #nomarbleleftbehind. I rebuilt the officer corps and we raided the next night - scoring a guild first in the process:

To say I was proud is an understatement.

At the start of June I picked up The Burning Crusade Classic. If someone had told me that two months later I would be the guild leader of a middle-tier raiding guild and a raid leader, I wouldn't have believed you. But somehow, when the remnants of my last guild needed a leader, I was there.

I can scarcely believe it myself.

I didn't do it alone, however. I have had immense help from Barri, Blackened and Hell, my loyal officer corps. With a lot of help, we have rebuilt the guild and we're gearing up to go tackle phase 2. Hopefully I'll be able to publish some raid reports before then.

So, feel good stories about putting the band back together aside, what else is there to do in phase 1 TBCC?

Well, to start off with, there's finishing off my leatherworking, involving killing lots of Clefthooves in Nagrand to make drums:

I then farmed up a whole bunch of materials to craft my first epics - the Netherstrike set, which is really good for an Elemental Shaman:

I also tried to sell some Nether Dragonscales, but they did not sell well past the first stack. Woe is me.

Then there's fishing, which is important for phase 2, because there's a boss that can only be summoned by fishing it up.

There's also a fishing daily, which is good to get some extra gold. And some fish hooks, I guess.

There's also cooking, which is important for me because I can save a lot of gold by making my own buff food for when I raid.

In addition to that, there's also a daily quest provided by Ethereals from the Consortium for both a normal and a heroic dungeon. Yes, that's right - the first heroic dungeons started in TBC.

Before taking on Heroic dungeons, you first have to unlock the key to each set of heroic dungeons. There are a number of factions that you have to reach revered with, which is the second highest reputation in the game.

The only way to gain reputations with most of these factions is to run dungeons that give you reputation with that particular faction.

So for Thrallmar, it's the Shattered Halls:

For Cenarion Expedition, it's the Steamvault:

For the Lower City, it's the Shadow Labyrinth:

For the Sha'Tar, it's all the dungeons in Tempest Keep, where you'll find the Mechanar:


and the Arcatraz, where you'll find Milhouse Manastorm:

There's also the Keepers of Time, but I don't care about them. Yet. Also, none of their heroic dungeons grant attunements for any of the raids.

Of course, once you unlock heroics, next you've got to start getting geared enough to actually complete them. Some heroics are not too difficult, but then there's Heroic Shattered Halls:

Some of the raids require you to complete Heroics in order to be part of them, which I hope to touch on when I publish my raid reports, because some of them are quite in depth, indeed.

World of Warcraft, even at this early stage, is filled to the brim with content. There's lots of different things to do - provided you're prepared to set goals and pick a direction.

And, of course, the burning (crusade) question.

Am I still having fun?

Yes. Yes I am.

I also picked Scryer. Mistakes were made.

I'm really enjoying being a senior member of my guild. I'm really enjoying raiding, bantering on the server, doing quests and dailies - I like it all. I think TBC's small world experience really adds a layer of investment to proceedings, because you know everyone you're dealing with. Very rarely do I deal with strangers any more on the server.

It's fun to get loot. It's fun to make loot. It's fun to kill bosses with your guild. I've made lots of psuedo-friends along the way and I'm still really enjoying life as a Shaman. The slot-machine gameplay of throwing lightning bolts, despite being so simple, is somehow so satisfying to do.

Especially because in dungeons, the key to a successful run is also about managing threat. Threat was never really a thing in Shadowlands, you were always free to go nuts on enemies. Also concepts that have largely been retired, like line of sight pulling and a real tank and DPS meta.

Each of these little things makes the game feel unique, even though concepts like rotation complexity have yet to be added into the game. Most often I don't press more than a few buttons. But yet I'm still engaged the whole way through.

So that's a very brief update of what I've been doing in the World of Warcraft since finishing levelling. Kind of. I've been raiding and hope to publish some Raid reports soon, so you can see the real meat of TBCC endgame content.

Catch you next time,

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