Eversince I started playing MMORPGs during the Open Beta days of Ragnarok Online’s Philippine servers, I’ve always been kind of a lone wolf. My reasoning was party-level operations would require quite a decent amount of cooperation and coordination between players who had no better way of communicating other than typing. In the middle of combat, especially against difficult mobs, this can be fatal, particularly when what you have is a “pickup” group.
It was different, of course, when I became a member of E.C.O. Unit in the Nexus Server of the Philippine’s RF Online, but my family in E.C.O. are unique people, like many of the players in RFO-Ph, with its tight-knit pre-F2P community. In all my WoWing days, I enjoyed only the one party op, and I never sought membership in my brother’s all-Pinoy guild back in Bleeding Hollow (considering I knew many of them from college).
So, there I was, sitting in Sentinel Hill’s Inn, taking my own sweet time in entering Deadmines, solo, knowing full well why its called THAT in the first place.
And not for the first did I wonder at the way Jordan Stillwell looked at life. He and Daphne must have… different perspectives; what woman would deign to face three waves of Defias with only a poor little lowbie Paladin as tank? Jordan, too, was a Paladin-candidate until he took up his father’s trade, and was highly regarded by the other Paladins.
I mean, look at this: Jordan put Deadmines as first in his list. In my opinion, this was the hardest of the four. What made getting his father’s smithing hammer back from Shadowfang Keep harder was that, of all four quests, not only was it held inside an instance but it was in enemy territory to boot. Still, back in Bleeding, I only took about three tries with getting the hammer, and only because I was such a noob then. I only got through Deadmines alive because my older brother swept away everything with his level 70 Gnome Wiz.
Still, I knew the “lay of the land” quite a bit by now. I’d run the non-Instance part of Deadmines solo before with Larsion, and it went quite well. But then, getting to the goblins who dropped the Lumber would mean getting past mazes full of aggro mobs who were too close to each other, keeping elite mobs in the Instance at bay, and going toe-to-toe with a big yellow-dragon elite boss.
Everything was going bad at the outset. In the non-Instance area, I was luring mobs the wrong way, ending up managing more than three of them at the same time, which kind of taxed the mana. Then, I got lost, which entailed clearing up corridors of mobs I cleared away previously that had respawned because I ended up almost at the start again. I even ended up in the dead miners portion of the mines because I just couldn’t remember how to get to the Instance area (I followed my brother the last time around and was busy looting corpses to notice the scenery).
Eventually, I got to the Instance. Everything still wasn’t going right, as I made a wrong pull and ended up fighting three elites at the same time. I had to choose the better part of valor, shielded myself, and ran screaming back to the Instance entrance.
After doing better in mob management, I managed to get to the door where the first boss, Rhahk’Zor, was. Thankfully, his two assistants were looking the other way AND were sufficiently far enough that I could pull him away safely.
They weren’t kidding about this guy. He was already colorless when I faced him, but it was the longest fight I ever had in Anetheron. Grueling, too. He had this attack that lifted you off your feet, literally, and his damage was just… amazing. And I was already drugged to the gills in Guardian pots and other augments. I don’t think I would have been able to kill him solo if his assistants were also in the fray. But after a long time of whacking each other with blunt objects, the big bad ogre finally falls, and I loot his two-hand hammer from his corpse (its an ok weapon, but even the +11 to Stamina still fails to make it match the sheer utility Verigan’s Fist offers to Paladins).
The guy who made the excellent run-through of Deadmines in Allakhazam had a warning about a patrol of elite Defias that WILL hit your back in that last area before the Goblins. It was very, very stupid of me not to heed that. So while I was juggling two Defias already – one of which was an elite caster – the patrol, on cue, springs up from behind me. After a spirited brawl where I managed to kill two of the non-elites and an elite or two, I fall for the first and only time in this run for the Deadmines.
You can understand my frustration at this point. I was irritated that, even after all my supposed careful preparation, I was still going about this (part of the) quest like some noob. I even contemplated doing it all over again, but decided otherwise, since I was already close to the goblins. Persistence – or is that stubbornness? – won through and I ran the long way back to the Instance. Thank God the mobs hadn’t respawned by then.
The ill-luck turned by this time, and after a few minutes of mob-management later I was looking at a couple of Goblins doing something. Almost screwed up here, too, as I was intently targeting a Goblin for a pull but almost didn’t see the Goblin covered by the doorway to the left of the entrance. I pulled him instead.
Wonder of wonders, at this first kill, the evil midget already dropped the Whitestone Oak Lumber.
Laughing in sheer relief, I cliked on my Hearthstone and ported back to Sentinel Hill, the third ingredient for Verigan’s Fist in tow.
Now, all I had to prepare for was a storming of an Instance full of crazy elite lupine and undead mobs, in the middle of Horde territory.