The rituals and practices of warlocks have always unsettled me, and my companion's are of no exception. I've trusted my life to Ressengan more times than I care to admit, yet I still avert my gaze from the eerie darkness and unnatural forces that boil behind his blood elf eyes whenever he brings forth his summoning portal. "Beck, come channel." he requests in a familiar friendly voice. I comply, eyes squarely focused on my roots. A welcome change from that lock darkness is the mojo toting troll who so frequently emerges from this portal. Fresh from picking flowers in various corners of Northrend, we refer to this enigmatic shamman as Whippet... when we're not calling him more colorful names. "Who needs flasks?" he advertises shaking a bottle of endless rage at Kwaggmire. Our once scattered group gravitate in to greet him. Now that Whippet has arrived, we stand ready to begin our siege on Ulduar.
The expedition camp we find ourselves in is riddled with salvaged war machines. Demolishers to the east, siege engines to the west, Choppers enticing us straight ahead, all of which just begging for a test drive. We each take turns stealing glances at the beckoning vehicles while we await instruction from our fearless guild master. Akulu, as mysterious as he is unassuming, speaks privately with Brann Bronzebeard before addressing his faithful followers. Several of our group huddle around Whippet and his wares while I inch closer to a demolisher, hoping no one takes notice. My progress is halted with Akulu's return to our ranks.
His instructions are clear and concise.
Siege Engine Driver – ram down buildings, knock back enemies, and boost speed to move into or out of harm's way.
Siege Engine Gunner – bring down pyrite ammo, assault air borne enemies and assists in shooting targets on the ground. Ignite oil slicks with the anti-air missile as well.
Demolisher Driver – fire long-range fireballs and special pyrite barrels that deal massive damage. Catapult a passenger on to the tank that awaits us when the time comes.
Demolisher Gunner – salvage pyrite ammo and refill your demolisher, fire long-range fireballs and anti-air missiles, and boost speed to move into or out of harm's way.
Chopper Driver – create flammable oil slicks behind you and quickly pick up any players on foot to protect them from danger.
Gear ultimately affects the durability of the machine we choose to captain, but the talent of this group is such that all are capable of filling any role in this skirmish. The choice, as so often is the case, is left to us. My inching pays off as I make haste to the nearest demolisher and await the soul brave enough to ride along side me. Pothek is equal to the task and I quickly comment on how orcs make such wonderful projectiles. As we maneuver into position he promises to use me as a quiver should I over shoot with my catapult. The visual barely has time to form in my mind before the archmages drop their shield and I have my first glimpse of the gauntlet laid out ahead of us.
As sobering as it is vast, this awe inspiring courtyard is occupied by a sea of Steelforge Defenders and Ulduar Colossi... further than the eye can see. Storm beacons dot this expanse acting as control centers. My eyes widen at the sight of the first fireball being hurled from Akulu's war machine. I roll forward deliberately and poise my cannon to fire one of my own. We certainly have them stirring now... and this terrible gauntlet scrambles to action.
Straight ahead, we lay siege to this courtyard with reckless abandon. Waves of defenders flow out of nearby storm beacons until we reduce them to rubble. Colossi approach us slowly but methodically and we do not hesitate to give them our full attention. To the east, a tower of a different sort challenges us, guarded by more steelforge and an oversized mechanical spider whose stare cuts through our steel armor like butter. The machines we pilot are built for war, however, and much like exterminators we purge the courtyard of these pests, leaving more rubble in our wake.
The trip across the now cleared bridge offers a moment to rest my trigger finger and to take in the wide open battle field. Brann’s voice crackles over my radio with the sound of whirling propellers behind it. His voice goes silent a moment later, but the background noise lingers. “Must be an echo.” I think to myself as I continue over the bridge. Now growing louder, I straighten up in my seat. “What is that?” “Choppers to the left!” Akulu calls out. This takes a moment for me to register. “... the hell did he just say?” I mutter to myself unbelieving before I turn to look. Teams of helicopters swarm on us from above firing a barrage of missiles at my broad side. “Son of a…!” Panic is replaced by exhilaration as Pothek is already returning fire and proving convincingly he knows how to handle a turret. “I just like to shoot stuff” he reports modestly. My eyes focus forward now as we leave broken air ships behind and take aim on the second tower to the west.
Glowing discs on the ground deep into the court yard repair our worn tanks instantly, and after leaving our mark on the fourth and final tower we suspend our siege and wonder what manner of terror awaits us behind the steel gate taunting us from the back of the room.
Our wonder would be short lived as Ulduar's first big surprise makes its grand entrance...