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A Chance, Late-Night Encounter in WoW’s New Mega-Dungeon Restored My Love for the Game

Finding the fun in failing.

Modern gaming is a funny thing. What was once the Wild West – a new frontier that nobody fully understood or could explain – is now a neatly dissected, by-the-numbers, known quantity. It’s been said before, but the days of true discovery in online spaces are long gone. Where games like Elden Ring or Tears of the Kingdom offer surprises due to strictly-enforced embargoes and spoiler-wary consumers, MMOs are a different beast entirely.

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In an MMO, the biggest commodity is game knowledge. Dataminers pull away at the smallest threads on test realms or new updates, streamers give lectures on mechanics before average players even get the chance to see them. This isn’t a bad thing, necessarily, but it has transformed the play space: something explored entirely too well in Folding Ideas’ “Why It’s Rude to Suck at Warcraft” essay.

All this is to say: I can’t remember the last time I sat down with a few friends or strangers and really “hashed it out,” so to speak. Figuring out new mechanics is for the nerds, right? Doing by failing means.. well, failing. And failure is frustrating.

Last week (Tuesday, to be precise; the day the newest patch went live), I signed on to do a pretty standard-fare “Mythic+” dungeon. But me and the rest of the group quickly discovered that all those people talking in chat about how Mythic+ dungeons were bugged weren’t just lying for fun. So we sat there a minute, and someone suggested it:

“Wanna do Dawn of the Infinite?”

For context, I was trying to run a +8 key. To those who couldn’t care less, this is a pretty low-level dungeon all things considered. Dawn of the Infinite, however, was brand-spanking-new, aspirational content that had been released all of four hours prior. The difference in difficulty was staggering. But still, with nothing better to do, we all agreed.

So we flew to the new dungeon, made our way inside, and began fighting trash mobs. Things were going pretty well, then it was time for the first boss. We all sat down, read the Dungeon Journal (the in-game guide which offers some idea as to the boss mechanics), and talked it over.

Image via Blizzard Entertainment

“I think you want to soak the jumps she does.”

“Move the sand outside the arena.”

We pull. We wipe. Nobody leaves, because nobody is surprised.

We all regroup and talk over the mechanics some more. Some of us think we know what went wrong, but we’re generally just kind of going off vibes. We pull again, and we wipe again. Only this time, we wipe a little later into the fight, and everyone is paying more attention to what’s going on.

After a few more tries, we down the boss. I get an incredible upgrade – almost 30 item levels higher than my current piece of gear. We move on, our spirits high, and try the second boss.

I wish I could tell you we went on to clear the rest of the dungeon, defying the odds, but the truth is we got trounced by the second boss. But the most miraculous thing happened: nobody got frustrated, once. We all added each other to our friends lists, and agreed that it was a nice change of pace to figure things out on our own, rather than regurgitating strategies laid out by someone whose full-time job is to play World of Warcraft.

Image via Blizzard Entertainment

After a long break and a general aversion to interacting with the community more than necessary, this was exactly the spark I needed to reinvigorate my love of WoW.

Once again, I’m not suggesting there’s a “right” way to engage with new content. I’m certainly going to do my homework when I raid with my guild or push high keys with my friends. But this doomed dungeon run brought with it a deeper appreciation for the often untapped potential that lies in both the game and the community alike.

So the next time you and some buddies want to tackle a new dungeon, try asking them, “Wanna fail a few times, just for fun?”

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David Morgan
David is a pediatric asthma researcher at Cincinnati Children's Hospital by day, and Prima Freelancer by night. He always finds time for the games he loves, and then some more to tell you all about them.