Back in February while traipsing through Dalaran on some important errand, I came across something new: a giant statue of Tirion Fordring. ‘What the hell is this all about?’ I wondered, before realizing that it must signify a Lich King kill. I clicked on the plaque on the statue, expecting some kind of written explanation. Instead, I was treated to the video of Arthas’ last moments on earth (included here because I’m sure you’ve seen it by now, one way or the other). I almost closed it without looking, as I wanted to be surprised for the eventuality of my guild killing Arthas, but curiosity got the better of me, and I watched it through. At the time I thought it was a good scene, well-crafted by Blizzard and, seemingly, a fitting end to the story of Arthas (and a surprise to me. I was sure that Tirion would become the new Lich King). While I never went out of my way to watch the video (i.e., I didn’t sit around in Dalaran for hours clicking on the statue), I didn’t avoid it if it happened to come up somewhere else, though I was afraid that overexposure might lessen the impact if we ever did manage to kill Arthas.
Last night my guild finally, finally, finally killed the Lich King. We’ve been extending this lockout since the end of May, when we emptied Putricide’s Laboratory of Alchemical Horrors and Fun (has there ever been a better name in this game?) of the Not-So-Good Doctor and his ‘experiments’. We spent the month of June re-clearing the Blood wing, which actually went much easier than it had the first time, and playing with Sindragosa. Sindy was vanquished on July 8th, and it was on to Arthas.
By my count we spent some 60 attempts on Arthas. We made good progress into phase 2 our first two full nights there; following a week off, we found ourselves set back to dying in phase 1 transitions. Would we never get it? On Monday of this week we actually twice ventured into the previously uncharted realm of phase 3, where we died insanely fast – nobody saw the inside of Frostmourne, nobody even got the chance to kill off or kite or soak vile spirits, that’s how bad it was. But it was a good kind of bad, because we were back to making progress.
Three days later, our first attempt ended in phase 3. We were very positive and hopeful that maybe, just maybe, this would be it, though experience tells me that we’re often very good early and decline over the course of the night. Would this be a case of ‘first, best attempt’? No! Our second attempt yielded a victory. Arthas’ health seemed poised at 11% for a ridiculously long time, and when I died I wasn’t sure if I was killed by his Uber Spell of Instant Death or the bucketload of Vile spirits that were chasing me around.
Once it was clear that we had killed him, there was a lot of chatter in vent. While all of us had read strats and watched videos, nobody was 100% sure what would follow, except that we did not want to release. While Arthas boasted to the still-frozen Tirion about how he was going to create the 'greatest fighting force the world has ever known' out of us, vent was full of chatter: ‘dps and heal’, ‘watch out for defile’, ‘did we win?’, ‘I don’t think there’s defile on this phase’, ‘we’ve won’, ‘I think there’s still defile’, etc. But Tirion broke out and smashed Frostmourne, Terenas brought us back from the dead, and we went to town, unleashing the months of pent up frustration (1650 holy paladin dps, ftw!) on the incapacitated Lich King. The achievements popped up, and there was much whooping and rejoicing, and the cinematic kicked in.
As I said, I’ve seen it before, I know how it turns out. So did everyone in my raid group. But I watched it anyway (and had to turn up the sound for my wife, who must have hit something on her keyboard and skipped the scene). As Tirion picked up the helm and pondered his future as the next Lich King, I had a sudden realization:
Vent was absolutely silent.
Our group had been extremely chattery in vent between attempts, caught up in the excitement and adrenaline no doubt of feeling so close to victory. Defeating Arthas as a guild was the pinnacle of the expansion, literally eight months of sometimes ridiculous levels of angst and frustration. This was the moment to bask in the glory, to revel, to party.
And no one said a thing.
We watched from our computers in New York, Florida, Manitoba, Texas, California as the drama played out once more. Separated by hundreds or thousands of miles, yet completely together. Despite the lust for loot that drives so many to play the game (and soon raid chat was filled with people linking their hoped-for drops from the soon to be attempted heroic fights), the moments of silence as we watched the cut scene told me a lot about my guild members, and why we were there. And it wasn’t for the loot.
The King is dead. Long live the Kingslayers!