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The Neutered Deadmines

World of Warcraft

A long time ago, in the World of Warcraft, a man named Edwin Van Cleef tormented players that dared enter his Deadmines. “Lap dogs, all of you!” and “Fools! Our cause is righteous!” are token lines he’d exclaim as you, and four of your comrades, battle him and his four blackguards. That’s assuming you survived the perilous journey to get to the top of his ship. There were many tough fights separating you both. It wasn’t just how much damage was dealt, but also how the enemy was engaged.

There were many rooms where things could go wrong, but few quite like the goblin refinery. Goblin engineers loitered there, capable of spawning equally powerful robots. All it took was a single poor shot or a runaway goblin to attract the attention of a horde and disaster was inevitable. This was the first dungeon for the Alliance, and it didn’t just test up and coming players. It punished them, and their mates, for even thinking of slipping up.

“now was an appropriate time to start again”I have an off and on relationship with World of Warcraft, so when I heard that the Mists of Pandaria expansion was coming out, I figured that now was an appropriate time to start again. I created a priest, as every party needs at least one healer, and I set off to heal and/or kill everything in Azeroth and beyond. My return to the humble beginnings within Elwynn Forest and its neighboring Westfall territories was quite entertaining, mostly because of the amount of changes that tumbled through. Quests were rewritten. Monsters had been shifted around the map.

Westfall was especially delightful as most of the old content was gone, and in its place was a murder mystery. And while it provided a much different experience than the long lost discovery of the Defias uprising, it still lead to the same location: The Deadmines. The Defias Brotherhood, assumed to be dead, still thrived in the mines below Westfall. And it’s up to a healer, a tank, and three damage dealers to disrupt their operations.

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I had entered with quite possibly the most unorganized group. No one talked to each other. All four of them were Pandarian monks. I don’t know who was supposed to keep the enemies attention and who was supposed to dish out the damage. My theory was all four. Then the connection dropped me out. When I got back in they had gone on in the fight, disregarding that I might not be there to heal them. One of them then lost their connection, and yet we proceeded onward. He caught up later, but we didn’t care. And with all of those problems, none of it held us back. Like John Romero might have put it, we made the Deadmines our bitch.

And that was without even trying. If any of those things happened once during the old days, the all or nothing days, the entire group would by dead. Fighting without a healer? Dead. Only two players there to deal damage? Dead. Somewhere along the line the Deadmines turned from a harsh proving ground into cake, and while there’s a good reason why, it kind of bothers me that this experience is gone.

I can understand that Blizzard would want to make these beginning dungeons easier. For long time players, nobody wants to suffer through 85 levels of experience grinding in the old fashion just to get to the new content. For returning players, there’s more incentive for them to buy an expansion if they’re actually going to be able to play the damned thing. And for new players? The faster they complete the classic portion of World of Warcraft, the quicker their need to upgrade to an expansion will be.

“it devalues the experience of classic Azeroth”The problem I have is that it devalues the experience of classic Azeroth. By funneling players through large portions of the game just to get towards the end it makes everything in between level 1 and level 85 irrelevant. These places you see, these worlds you travel through will not challenge you, but merely take up your time. The better loot won’t be acquired for another sixty or so levels, so there’s no reason for you to care about some level 20 dagger you found in a starter dungeon.

I don’t entirely know what’s the solution to this so called problem of mine. My patience isn’t quite what it used to be, and it’s quite likely that if I did have to suffer through the old style of World of Warcraft, I’d never take the time to see the expansion material. I just believe that some sort of meaning should be attached to the hours and days you spend playing through easy versions of challenges from years past. Otherwise there’s no reason why Blizzard couldn’t give you the option of starting at level 85, ready and able to go directly to the new content.

Of course, when you reach level 85, The Deadmines opens up again as a heroic dungeon. So yeah, a challenging version of it still exists within the game. You just have to fight through days worth of cannon fodder to get to it.

The author of this fine article

is a Senior Staff Writer at Thunderbolt, having joined in July 2011.

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