According to the folks at WoW.com it has been one year since the Scourge Invasion. This time last year, the denizens of Azeroth got to experience World War Z in it’s least destructive form.
But to truly discuss what happened, we have to step back even further, to the introduction of Zul Gurub, better known as ZG. ZG was a new raid instance for max level characters. It revolves around trolls attempting to call up Hakkar, an evil god and bring him into life in Azeroth and essentially take over the world. Heroes had to go in, kill his followers and eventually kill him as well. Part of the final battle was a disease, called Corrupted Blood, that would inflict a few hundred damage on the carrier and pass it over to others standing nearby. This made for an exciting and challenging boss battle. But then something happened that the designers at Blizzard did not intend. The pets, minions of the Hunters and Warlocks, could also get Corrupted Blood, but unlike players, they could be dismissed, banished to a place where their state is saved and any diseases on the pet is retained, timers paused, until at such a time as they are called forth by their masters again. In places like Ironforge. Ironforge, that was filled with hundreds of lower level characters that could not survive the several hundred points of damage each second inflicted by the disease.
Within hours the major cities were covered in skeletons. The game ground to a halt as GMs worked feverishly to cleanse the disease from players. Oddly, the events made national news, drawing the attention of the CDC, who suddenly became very interested in the possibility of studying the effects of an outbreak without needing to deal with it. Strangely, the virtual world mirrored the real one in the fact that people reacted in similar manners to this threat. Some hid, running to the far corners of Azeroth, hiding from any player who might have the disease. Many flocked to the cities, to join in the revelry, especially those of a high enough level to withstand the disease, they came to watch the “show”. The unscrupulous intentionally went and contracted the disease to bring it back to uninfected locals and spread it around, gleefully watching their fellow adventurers die.
In the end it took a hotfix and dozens of server resets to purge the disease. But the memory lived on. Many players, even those inconvenienced by the plague, looked back and remembered the sheer terror and fun that had reigned those few days. So of course, when planning what Arthas would do to usher in the age of the Lich King, what else but a controlled, planned version of the Corrupted Blood Plague?
The Zombie Invasion was brilliantly planned. The first day there were just a few crates in the neutral cities and if you did get infected you had 10 minutes to cleanse it off. The second day there were crates in the major cities and plagued critters in the neutral cities but now the plague only took 5 minutes to turn you into a brain hungry zombie. By the third day there were few places in Azeroth without Zombies and if you were infected you had a minute to get it off, before you would change and become one of Them.
When it first started I sought out a crate, then turned back to my city to create more zombies. It was sadly unfulfilling. There was too great a chance of it getting cleansed. Other people were able to kill me too easily. In short, not that much fun.
By the second day however, it was much much easier. Suddenly there were dozens of zombies instead of a handful. Enough of the ground cover to keep us alive. Enough of us to nom someone to death quickly. While alive, I fought the good fight. I tried to kill zombies, I cleansed the disease, I healed those fighting the horde. But once I died… Oh, you wouldn’t heal me? NOM. You! You undercut my auctions! NOM. Idiot who always spams trade??? NOM NOM NOM. the sweetest revenge in a horde of not so mindless zombies. By the third day, all semblance of the game had broken down. It was a challenge to find someone *alive* much less do anything once you found them. Needless to say, I was not helping matters any at this point. I lurked near common log-in locations, leaping on the fresh meat as it appeared. We formed a massive raid and stormed Stormwind, killing NPCs and players indiscriminately.
There are some who look back at WWZ as a time of griefing, bad gameplay, and are still annoyed at the loss of time. I look back and think, I was a part of something amazing. I remember this historic event. Say what you will, but I was *there*. Four days of normal ho hum grinding traded for days of excitement, uncertainty and memories I fondly look back on a year later? Can I remember what I was doing two weeks before the WWZ? Of course not. But I remember this week with clarity.
I can only hope the Cataclysm event is as much fun.