Friday, November 4, 2022

Wrath Classic Phase One Raids Part 2: How to Make Something Less than Epic

As I alluded to in my previous post, we cleared Wrath Naxxramas over the course of two nights, with plenty of time to handle Vault of Archavon and the Eye of Eternity. While we didn’t get to Obsidian Sanctum this first week of my raiding participation, the raid team did clear it the week before. That means there’ll be a third post on Phase One Wrath raiding when I visit Obsidian Sanctum, so you have been warned.

After dealing with the Uncanny Valley Effect in Wrath Naxx, the two other raids were completely new to me. I mean, I knew of them back in the day, but as I wasn’t a raider back then I never actually saw them. During Mists I considered trying to go in and solo the Malygos fight, but I was vaguely aware that there were drakes involved, and if I were required to use a drake’s abilities for a decent portion of the fight then it would be impossible to solo. But Vault of Archavon? I really don’t know why I didn’t care about soloing that raid, but it just wasn’t something I was interested in seeing.*

After we turned Kel’Thuzad into a puddle of goo at the end of Wrath Naxxramas, we ported out to Dalaran and flew over to Wintergrasp. 

“Everybody should have the flight point,” someone in the raid said. 

“I don’t,” the raid lead said.

“Nor I,” I added. Given that the only way to get to Wintergrasp is via flying, my purchase of Cold Weather Flying the day before meant I didn’t have that flight point. I wasn’t planning on short circuiting the storyline and grabbing all of the flight points available just because riding wasn’t as fast as flying.**

I tried flying over to Wintergrasp –and yes, I got turned around on my navigation and initially went the wrong way-- but because I was also one of the few people without an epic flying mount the rest of the raid made it ahead of us and summoned us over.

“Don’t ask me to navigate,” I grumbled to myself, dismayed at how low my map reading skills had fallen from the days of being the family’s navigator when we went on vacation.*** “Maybe I should reread that book on orienteering that I bought back in high school.”

We went inside and I followed the crowd to the raid entrance. I’d never been inside the building before, so I was surprised to see another location where you could queue for battlegrounds. As if there weren’t enough of them already.


People call Vault of Archavon VoA for short, which gave me flashbacks to my shortwave radio days as VoA is also short for Voice of America, the long running international broadcast of the US Government, in much the same way as the BBC World Service or Radio Nederland or Radio Moscow were for their own countries.

Or it reminded me of a few songs from the 1980s…****

Holy crap is this music video so campy!
And I thought "I Can't Drive 55" was bad...

It wouldn't be an Asia album without
the Roger Dean cover art.

As for the raid itself, there’s not a lot of ‘there’ there.

I knew absolutely nothing about the boss fight, but neither did I die nor did I feel like I was in any sort of danger of dying. It was pretty much a typical spank and tank fight, with an AOE effect that you could move out of, and that was that.

The gear dropped was, well, PvP epic gear. No big deal, but hey, better than I was wearing at the time. I won the pants, so that was worth the fight, I suppose.

Then it was off to Coldarra and the fight I really wanted to see.


Malygos the Spellweaver, despite the very poorly written reasons as to why he began the Nexus War in the first place, was the collision course we’d been on from practically the moment we arrived in Northrend. 

From the “Why doesn’t anybody believe me?” initial quest (on both factions), through your first “don’t piss me off or I’ll eat you” interactions with the Red Flight, the Keristrasza tragedy, and becoming the messenger of the Kirin Tor to the Dragon Queen, everything led to this.

I made the entire Nexus War personal for Cardwyn with that short fictional piece, but it also underscores the genocidal nature of Malygos’ “solution” to the problem of overuse of Arcane magic. When you decide to control the overuse of magic by “limiting the supply of Arcane users” one way or another, you’re essentially authorizing the slaughter of children with a talent for the Arcane. And entire families who may have one Mage in the tree, because talent is inherited. (My interpretation.) 

Despite every valid reason to limit the overuse of the Arcane, Malygos’ solution is far worse. And Blizz’ crappy reasoning for creating the conflict in the first place aside, for a being supposedly as wise as a Dragon Aspect, it feels incredibly small minded to have settled on “Kill them all” as the solution. 

The Lich King couldn’t have cooked up a better conflict if he’d have tried.

When we arrived at Coldarra, I was nervous, having only briefly skimmed the fight, but ready to go.

Except for me almost entering The Oculus’ instance by mistake.*****

Yeah yeah yeah, the old
"I'm invincible!" speech. 

We wiped about 3 times on Malygos before we got all of the mechanics down, but this fight definitely does not play to my strengths. The first phase does, but the second phase has those adds all over the place and my tendency to strike the one closest to me ends up poorly, with me as a dead Mage lying around. Once I resisted the temptation to simply wail away at random adds, I was able to survive that phase and enter into the "Drake Phase", where the ground crumbles beneath you and you're rescued by Red Dragonflight drakes, who then turn and fight Malygos (with you riding them, naturally). 

It was an interesting fight, but not that memorable. What really made it less than epic was the voice acting itself. I described listening to Malygos in raid as being voiced by an Accountant lecturing on tax law; maybe it wasn't quite that bad, but the voice actor was absolutely not what I expected the Spellweaver to sound like. Maybe some reverb or other vocal manipulation would make Malygos sound a bit better, but for a gigantic Dragon Aspect the voice simply didn't fill the space like the Spellweaver himself did. Compared to Nefarian's and Vaelastrasz's voices, Malygos' voice is very uninspiring, which by extension makes the raid encounter weaker for it.

It's not just a problem with the Spellweaver. Alexstrasza and Keristrasza both sound "less than" as well;  although to be fair I thought the acting of Keristrasza in The Nexus good enough, but it just doesn't sound "dragonlike". If this were Keristrasza fighting us in her polymorphed human form that's one thing, but she's fighting us as a dragon. Maybe Blizz is having difficulty making the vocals sound like they're coming from something as gigantic and epic as a dragon in their true form, but my belief is that the difficulty lies in adjusting a woman's voice to make her sound like a woman and yet inhabit the full throated cavernous power of a dragon in their natural form.

Now that I think about it, this is not a problem confined to the dragonflights, but those who are simply gigantic compared to us. The Keepers' and Watchers' vocals in The Storm Peaks are pretty hit or miss, although to be fair they tend to be closer to the mark than a lot of the dragons in their true forms sound. But when you hear the petty shrillness of the Hyldnir's vocals, which are pretty much the opposite of what you'd expect of those who remained loyal to Thorim all these years, it is nothing but grating to the ears. 


It's a shame that the Eye of Eternity was so underwhelming to me, because I'd hoped for an epic battle to close out that chapter in Wrath Classic. Much like how I found Wrath Naxxramas to be "close but not quite" like the real thing, the Eye of Eternity could have been great but just was... pretty good.

*It probably had something to do with that there was no real backstory behind that raid. From my perspective, it was the “PvP raid”.

**Yes, I’m one of those people who would have used the “pity mount” in Storm Peaks rather than purchase Cold Weather Flying. I remember being able to navigate a lot of The Storm Peaks –the Norse Mythos inspired Thorim questline notwithstanding—via a riding mount back in the day, and I realize now that a lot of that is due to what faction I played. More on that in an upcoming post.

***And yes, growing up in the 70s and 80s meant we drove everywhere for vacation. In a station wagon. No, not one with the “gun turrets” in the back, but a mid-sized 1980 Chevrolet Malibu.

This is very similar to the one we had.
The paint is the same, the interior as
well. Only difference is this had the V6
engine, while ours was a 267cc V8.

That wagon became my second car when the old 1976 Plymouth Volare finally kicked the bucket.

****Before you ask, yes, I have both albums from back in the day. Sammy Hagar’s VoA I have on cassette (!), and Asia’s Astra on CD. The latter was one of the first CDs I’d ever bought, and I bought it from a secondhand record store near UD called Second Time Around. 

*****No, I hadn’t been to The Oculus at the time of that raid. It appears to not be everybody’s favorite instance, and I tend to go with the flow in that regard.


  1. Funny enough, I argued recently in guild chat on my supposed main that people who got gear solely from VoA were casuals back when Wrath was released got me a surprising amount of pushback. I mean, it's not hard and it really is the textbook definition of "welfare epics" (sic).

    Secondly, I agree EoE should have been be better. It's not only not hard, it's such a letdown thematically. It hardly feels like a satisfying resolution to what certainly seems to be a huge thread to the story of WotLK. It's almost sad Obsidian Sanctum seems more salient simply because of it's relative difficulty at 3 Drakes, yet I can claim it hooks in to Cata and give it more salience than it should deserve; Blue flight and we both was robbed.

    1. I went hunting around for any quests that lead to the Eye of Eternity --without cheating and going to Wowhead first-- and I simply couldn't find any. After scratching my head over that for a while and burning up my frequent flyer miles covering all of the areas I would think such a quest would begin, I finally relented and read up on it.

      Imagine my disappointment finding out the key to starting the Malygos fight comes out of a drop only one person can win off of Sapphiron in Wrath Naxxramas. There is no quest at Exalted with the Wyrmrest Accord, or with the usual suspects (ranging from Alexstrasza herself down to the questgivers in Amber Ledge, where it all began).

      Just how badly Blizz bungled the pointers to actually getting people to enter these raids --and to a lesser extent Obsidian Sanctum and Wrath Naxx as well-- boggles my mind. I mean, why should I visit the Obsidian Sanctum in the freaking first place if I --in game-- had no idea it existed? Same with Eye of Eternity; outside of the raid entrance being the top entrance in The Nexus, there's absolutely no reason to expect that we're supposed to go there. If Blizz didn't --from a metagame perspective-- tell people that they had to go into EoE or OS, how would they know it was time to go in? Just expect people to blunder through?

  2. Thanks for a perspective that I don't have Red. Levelled at least 100 toons through Wrath, and never once thought about any of the backstory. The micro storylines I have paid attention to, i.e. The Kalu'ak, in terms of going here to do this because that guy wants to communicate with his daughter. Stuff like that. But the macro of the entire expansion... well, just don't give a hoot.

    All to say, I'm glad I don't have any of your issues regarding the why's and wherefore's of playing. I dig it because it is, not why it is.

    As always, thanks for a different perspective!