Just Another Dread Palace Pug

I was happily PvPing away by myself tonight when a guildie asked me whether I wanted to come along to a 16-man Dread Palace pug. Since it had been a while since I had done a 16-man, or a pug operation of any sort, I agreed to come along for a change of pace. Not to mention that it promised a chance at finally completing the Oricon story chain on my Scoundrel alt (who had already done the Fortress part, but not Palace).

As these things pretty much always go, it took a while to get a full group together, but having anticipated as much, I made good use of that time taking care of a couple of things away from my keyboard. Once the group was full, we started clearing trash with a very optimistic attitude... just to run headfirst into a metaphorical brick wall in the form of the first boss. This wasn't a good sign as she's pretty easy on story mode, at least compared to some of the other bosses.

After two or three wipes people started to drop out in annoyance, but my guildie, who had somehow ended up with leadership of the group, kept refilling the empty spots quickly, pulling in more friends and acquaintances in place of complete strangers and handily improving the average skill level of the group in the process. Eventually we got the first boss down, and the next three followed without too many issues, which completed everyone's weekly quest as well.

But then came the last encounter - the council fight - and it was still as manic as I remembered it. We wiped, we dithered, we wiped, we had to replace more people, we wiped again, and the mood in the ops group was growing increasingly restless. With how long it had taken us to get the first boss down and to rotate people in and out, we had been at it for three and a half hours already. Some people wanted to go to bed, and others questioned whether there was even much of a point in wiping to the last encounter when it wasn't needed for the weekly. I was a bit torn myself, feeling increasingly tired myself but also hating that feeling of "giving up" so close to the end.

In the end we agreed on one last try, with the group down to fifteen people already. Initially we seemed to be doing alright, with only one or two random deaths, and overall we were more in control of the fight than during previous attempts. Then the Dread Masters all jumped to the middle, a bit earlier than we would have liked, and massive AoE began draining away people's health faster than the healers could replenish it. One by one people dropped and there were still too many bosses alive.

Eventually there were only four players left standing, two dps and two healers, still facing two bosses doing damage to them.
Then we were down to three players.
Then two players.
Another boss went down, leaving only Dread Master Calphayus up, but still draining away the last two players' health.
Chat was filling with mixed messages as people were expressing disappointment about us wiping while others were still hoping that we'd manage to win somehow. And then...

It was just a story mode pug, but those of us who were on voice chat together laughed and cheered as if it had been a hardmode kill. It was an epic ending to an evening fraught with the typical difficulties brought on by pugging raids, and that ending alone managed to make the whole experience worth it. Don't get me wrong: completing my story quest and getting some loot was good too, but honestly, I would have done it just for that screenshot. If only I had had the foresight to record the whole thing...

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