I also promised myself I'd ease back into this by getting Ragefire Chasm first.
For a Horde player, Ragefire is the first instance you go through, although Wailing Caverns is a close second. For me, Ragefire typically wins out because it's so easy to get to: there's no "just how do I get there?" moments while trying to traverse the hills in The Barrens. (Alliance players take note: Ragefire is smack dab in the middle of Org: you see a path heading down, you take it.) You also don't have a 8-10 deep quest chain that takes you into Ragefire, either. You can pick up a one-off quest in The Undercity, or if you go about 4-5 quests into a chain started by Thrall you have your excuse as well.
So, I dialed up Ragefire before it disappeared from my radar, and away I went. (I'm used to queuing as DPS, but instant gratification has it's advantages too.)
I was admittedly overpowered for Ragefire, but I was perfectly fine with that. This was the perfect intro for me, since the last time I tried healing any instance was that ill-fated Trial of the Champion --with four or more wipes on Confessor Paletress without so much as denting her armor-- before I dropped healing for good.
Ragefire went as smooth as possible: the pulls were one at a time, Flash of Light was my mainstay, and I hardly had to drink at all. The tank told us to yell at him if he got lost, but I didn't need to say anything. For the first time in Ragefire in a group and not as a loot monkey, the instance was as easy as pie. I breathed easier, knowing that I could handle this.
Thus emboldened, I just decided to let 'er rip on the LFD tool.
An unfamiliar instance picture popped up on my screen. Okay, I thought, Deadmines or Stockade, which is it?
It was Deadmines.
Before I even got my hello out of the way, I confessed this was my first time through Deadmines. "I typically play Horde, so this one is new to me."
"Not a problem," the tank said. "This is my favorite instance."
"I play Horde too," one of the two (!) Gnome Warlocks said. "This is only my second Alliance character."
(Note to Souldat: You were wondering about the friendliness of the Alliance side? It's the Battlegroup. I guess the others we've been on are more cutthroat.)
We started in through the Deadmines, and I have one thing I'm grateful for: there's a single path through the instance. No multipath instances like Halls of Stone here. However, that first set of trash set my teeth on edge: one after the other after the other. I had to keep Judging Wisdom on the first trash pulls just to keep my mana up. Once the room was clear, only then could I drink.
This was more like what I was used to; the Watcher sequence in A-N, but quicker.
After that first room, things got easier. I settled into a pattern: Judging Wisdom once the tank had aggro to keep my mana up, and using FoL on everyone who needed it. When someone dropped around 50%, I brought out Holy Light. (I'd made a point of picking up the Holy Light Glyph, so the extra spam heal it gave was a godsend.)
I pulled aggro by healing more often than I preferred, but the tank was typically able to yank it back.
However, things weren't all sweetness and light. With not one but two Gnome Warlocks, I kept having to heal them because they'd use me as their gas tank when they swapped health for mana. Yes, I know that's a class perk for Warlocks, but I'm a Holy Spec Paladin Healer. My specialty is in healing tanks, not every single caster who decides I'm his meal ticket and doesn't have to stop and drink. I don't have AoE heals. (Yet.)
The Locks also ran OOM frequently during a fight, and I made a point of laying down Consecration when my mana pool could swing it so we weren't down to one DPS on those longer fights.
We survived fairly well until we got to the bottom of the spiral slope before you get to the boat areas. We not only had the regular trash mobs but the Overseer mob as well, and I could see things were pretty bad. I kept up spamming the tank with everything including the kitchen sink (Gift of the Naaru), but it was just too much. The tank bit it, and I did shortly thereafter.
You want to know who survived? The Gnomes, naturally.
Anyway, I discovered the joys of running back to get to The Deadmines. "Where the hell is the entrance?" I asked, frustrated.
"It's in the barn," the tank told me. "Go upstairs and head down into the mines."
I went to the barn. Looked pretty open to me; only one floor too. Oh. He meant that barn over there. I followed his instructions and found myself in the caverns before you get into the Deadmines. "Naturally, the entrance to a set of mines is in the second floor of a barn."
I then got lost in the caverns before the instance entrance itself. "This is worse than Uldaman," I said.
"No, Uldaman is still worse."
Finally, after about 10+ minutes trying to find the darn place I got back inside and we hooked up with the rest of the group. In the intervening time the most annoying of the two 'locks split, so my life was instantly made easier. We then proceeded through the instance, wiping only on the plank heading to the top of the ship. The comedy of errors continued on the runback, not because I didn't know the way, but because the hunter and then the tank kept wiping on respawning trash, thus necessitating further runbacks. We lost and gained several DPS in the process, one at least asking why I couldn't Rez the tank.
"He already released."
The Van Cleef fight was almost anti-climatic at that point.
So, what did I learn?
- That Blizz figured out how to make instances easier to find by the time the two expansions hit.
- Low level Warlocks can be just as annoying as their high level Boomkin counterparts.
- That I see a male Night Elf, and the first thing that pops into my head is "Where's the Weed, man?"
- That the entrance to a major mining and processing operation is through the second floor of an abandoned barn.
- The ICC 5-man instances are nice and straightforward compared to this.
- I'm going to need more mana potions if I'm going to do this.
- Oh yeah, one more thing: that I can heal instances.