Greetings from the Timeless Isle… of DEATH!

I am not sure what I expected to Timeless Isle to be.

When it came into the game with patch 5.0.4 one of my higher level friends who had been playing with us on Garnoa, leveling up a new character, ran off to try it out and was never seen again in the 1-60 area of the game where we were playing.  She would occasionally link some purple item that dropped with stats that seemed impossibly high to somebody rolling around doing level 30 content.  But I figured it must have been fun since it occupied all of her game time.

Then the instance group made its way back to Azeroth, I actually rolled on into Pandaria and made it to level 90, and suddenly the Timeless Isle was a possibility.  I could actually go there… once I figured out how to get there.  There is a quest.  Chromie sends you there, though she is hiding.  Her “?” on the mini-map shows up over an instance entrance, but she is actually behind a parapet above that and not visible unless you are above her.

Chromie at rest

Chromie at rest

I found her, eventually, and she sent me off… to die.

Like I said, I hadn’t actually read anything tangible about the Timeless Isle, so I did not know what to expect.  A number of people have discussed the rewards. But the content?  Not so much.

I guess that I expected it to be something like Ember Isle in Rift, something of an additional area to occupy level cap players that was incrementally more difficult, but still primarily solo in focus.

Instead I wound up on an island consisting of extra tough normal mobs, extra tough elite mobs, and named mobs that a simple group of five would be hard pressed to dent.  The first real quest on the island, which just send you on a tour, had me running through groups of hostile elites which killed me repeatedly.  And the island is a “no fly” zone, so you cannot avoid all those hostiles wandering the grounds.

I managed to finish that and the next quest before I had died so many times I was getting the paper doll warning that my equipment was in danger of running out of durability.

Timeless Isle may be many things, but it isn’t a solo playground for those with quest drop gear.

Being clearly out of my depth, I sought professional help.  More rambling and some silly pictures after the cut.

Well, maybe not professional, but far better at WoW than I am.

Basically, I asked my friend Piacenza, who ran off to the Timeless Isle as soon as it went live, for a tour of the place.

Pia is much more hardcore than I when it comes to online games and has been since I gave her a copy of Diablo with a second hand computer I sold her way back when… well… Diablo was a thing.  Since then she went to Diablo II, EverQuest, and World of Warcraft, with stops in various other MMOs.  She was one of the raiders in EQ I knew how tried EverQuest II at launch, hated it, and moved on to WoW.

Anyway, she seemed more than qualified to show me around.  Only she plays on a different server.  So the first thing we had to do was create a cross-realms group, which, to my surprise, actually worked.

My amazement shows...

My amazement shows…

I know that RealID and BattleTag friends have been able to do this for a while, but theory is different than practice.  This, along with Blizzard’s soft server merges and cross-realm Dungeon Finder, battlegrounds, and LFR is starting to make the whole concept of isolated servers… less solid?  I had to report this back to Potshot and the rest of our guild.

I am a trail blazer

I am a trail blazer

Of course, for this to work you need to be RealID (turned off) or Battle Tag (okay) friends with people, something I haven’t bothered to do much.  I am linked up with a couple of people because it was a friend’s list requirement with Diablo III, and I have my daughter linked up to keep an eye on her, but other than that I haven’t gone out of my way to do that.

Anyway, once there Pia, who is a collector of all things in the game, had one of the mounts that lets a group member ride along with you, so I got the completely guided tour.

Riding through the Timeless Isle

Riding through the Timeless Isle

She got me set up with some of the must-haves, like the Crystal of Insanity, which you get as a random drop from the crystals in the cave northeast of the main NPC area.

TI01_CrystalOfInsanity

I understand that there are flasks out there that will boost single stats by up to 1,000 points, but for me a 500 point boost… on every stat… seems insanely huge.  A matter of perspective, I know, but my particular perspective is that of a non-raider.  She also took me around to some of the likely locations of the bosses that spawn.  I was unsure of the etiquette on these during my first visit.  I didn’t want to start hacking on somebody’s boss mob as people can get pissy about that sort of thing.  But the bosses are open to all and everybody who joins in the fight gets some sort of loot, so joining a pack going after one seems to be encouraged.

And, of course, the drops can be very nice.  Our first run at a boss kicked off a series of these sorts of comments from me.

And another, and another...

And another, and another…

The purple items that drop were all huge upgrades to what I was wearing.  And they were not all that uncommon.

Our guild log shows I was busy...

Our guild log shows I was busy…

That list shows the basic items looted, which are things like “Timeless Plate Chestpiece.”  Those are actually account bound items that, when activated, become a wearable item appropriate to your class and spec.  So, while it does not show it there, I received several dupes for plate items.  I activated the first drop on Vikund, and ended up with purple gear appropriate for a retribution spec’d paladin.  I saved the dupes in case I wanted to change specs, say to healing, at which time I could activate them and they would become gear appropriate to that spec.

And, since the those drops were account bound, I was able to mail the leather drops to Alioto, my druid, and the mail drops to Tistann, my hunter, so that when they hit level 90 they will have a few nice pieces of gear waiting for them.

So the Timeless Isle is an account gearing extravaganza.

Of course, you may well wonder what the impact of a lot of high item level gear raining down on the game is going to be.  And what will become of it with Warlords of Draenor and the impending gear squish.  It doesn’t seem to have killed the auction house completely.  I still seem to be able to sell green gear drops there pretty regularly.  But I would guess that it has put a damper on the high end trade skilled items.  Earl, who got his blacksmith to 600 over the weekend was asking what gear, if any, we might need.  But anything he could make wouldn’t compare with a purple Timeless Isle drop.

On the flip side, there did not seem to be as many people on the Timeless Isle as I might have expected, especially during peak hours.  I suspect that this has to do with the fact that this is not at all a solo friendly zone.  If you want blue gear upgrades, you can do daily quests in Pandaria and earn valor points for those.  So maybe TI purples are not as wide-spread as I might think, and the valor gear would likely kill off the the trade skill professions in any case.

There were a couple of amusing moments during the tour of the island.  Pia took me to one of the spots where you can summon a special boss event, the Dread Ship Vazuvius.

The lantern spot

The lantern spot

And as we stood there, somebody ran up and summoned the ship as indicated.

The ship appears

The ship appears

Of course, we got stuck in with the rest of the people who showed up.

Fighting the dread ship

Fighting the dread ship

That is a lot of hit points.

And, as was ever the case, I died.  I did managed to run back in time for the finish… though I died once running back.

Death remained ever present.  The isle is a dangerous place.

Even following a guide I died a lot.  I even managed to die in new and interesting ways, like getting tagged and blown off a mount when Pia didn’t get a scratch.

Fell off dead...

Fell off dead…

But death is like dying in a battleground.  You can run back to your corpse if you want, or you can wait for the timer to run down and respawn at the graveyard without and ress sickness.  You do, however, take a durability hit.  I was glad the guild had made the level that reduced the durability ding by 10%, because I died a lot.

The main difference was that I did manage to get things done between deaths, so overall it was a much more profitable venture, even if I did end up spending over 200 gold in repairs over the course of the run.  And I got a lot of upgrades.

Happy ending...

Happy ending…

I ended up the night with a pile of upgraded equipment, some nice consumables and buffs, and even a few toys. (My inventory problem is now worse than ever.)  Recount shows that my DPS went from about 15K sustained up to 25-30K sustained if I could press the right buttons for the ret pally rotation.  Doubling your DPS is good most days of the week.  But then Pia was doing 65-70K DPS and a guild mate of hers joined us for a while and he was doing even more than that as sustained DPS.  Warlocks.

And while my DPS boost was impressive… to me at least… it did not make the Timeless Isle any less dangerous.  The next day I wandered back and decided to test out an elite mob.  I was not up to that task yet.  But I could grind away at the non-elites pretty well.  I still got in over my head though, and death was a regular thing.

Timeless Isle is an interesting place.  It is open world with all hard mobs, which distinguishes it from the rest of the game.  If you want loot rewards to gear up yourself and alts, it seems like the place to be.  I am not sure how the drops compare in the grand hierarchy of equipment, but they beat anything from the quest rewards.

If our group was all up at level 90, it would be an option for us on a Saturday night.  Maybe it still will be by the time we get there.

20 thoughts on “Greetings from the Timeless Isle… of DEATH!

  1. Piacenza

    Don’t forget you can use any Burdens of Eternity on any of that Timeless stuff before you unpack it for an instant item boost to 535!

    After you get timeless stuff in all your slots you can pretty much run wild on the island and not die every five seconds. I can solo most of the elites and some of the rares, but need help when I go up the hill past the first tier of Yak men, or whatever they are.

    There are dailies and weeklies there, too, and some of the chest spawns are weeklies, as is the Ejector Seat Crane up there on Scary Hill of Fiery Death.

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  2. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Piacenza – “Don’t forget you can use any Burdens of Eternity on any of that Timeless stuff before you unpack it for an instant item boost to 535! ”

    I have to know something first before I can forget it… unless I forgot it completely.

    Anyway, you’ll have to let me tag along again at some point to fill some more equipment slots.

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  3. Talarian

    A lot of folks don’t run Timeless Isle anymore because they don’t get much from the gear there. With Siege of Orgrimmar LFR being 528 ilvl, and Flex being 540, even the 535 items aren’t that attractive anymore. It remains a great place to gear up alts, however, to get you into the SoO LFR runs in the first place.

    However, I do enjoy running around every once in awhile and whacking a few elites. Most of the mobs require some amount of movement to dodge attacks, like the giant tigers. In theory you can get through a fight with one of those without taking much damage because most of the damage is avoidable, but it’s not necessarily easy. I still die horribly to the bigger Yangol by Ordos’ Sanctuary if my DPS cooldowns aren’t all available (whereas if they are up, I can burst down something with 7 million HP in less than 30 seconds).

    Actually, I think I’ve died more often on the Timeless Isle than I had outside of raiding ever. And it’s stupid fun. :D

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  4. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Talarian – I noticed that there are some mobs in Pandaria that do require some movement to avoid attacks. I picked up on the tiger thing and was able to solo the non-elite ones pretty well, even before the big gear boost, so long as I did not attract any adds.

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  5. Matt

    Use the shrines as well. There are 4 (mutually exclusive) buffs, three of which are ok and another which is total god mode.

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  6. cuppy

    You are basically exactly where I am in your WoW ‘career’ but I haven’t yet ventured to the Timeless Isle. I have a level 90 Boomkin, but I only just bought Pandaria Flying yesterday so now I can finally access the Timeless Isle. I didn’t know it was so hard and unsoloable! Now you have me scared to go there….whereas before it sounded like an easy loot pinata!

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  7. Piacenza

    @Wilhelm – whoops, I thought I’d told you about the Burdens of Eternity. Brown things with wavy lines = Gooooood. I think you got one out of that big fiery chest, no? Also can be purchased for 50K timeless coins. I’m saving my coins for a mount – 100K. I currently have 70K.

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  8. bhagpuss

    Interesting read. Most of my previous knowledge of the Timeless Isle came from Prinnie at That Was An Accident so as you note there wasn’t a lot of of hard detail, just a lot of highly amusing anecdote.

    I’d kind of gathered the idea it was like a zone full of WAR-style Public Quests or even Blizzard’s take on GW2’s Dynamic Events but it sounds more like they took some of those mechanics, particularly around the shared credit and co-operative play and welded them onto a bunch of boss mobs. I do get to a point with this sort of thing sometimes where I start to wonder why they don’t just put in a vending machine that punches you in the face.

    Is that a zebra you’re riding in pictures 2 and 3, by the way?

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  9. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Pia – I left myself an out with “unless I forgot completely.”

    @Cuppy – Not a loot pinata, but fun in groups or with people who can actually put out some DPS. There is that element of danger since stuff will kill you… at least until you become completely resigned to it, then you’re just the bowl of petunias.

    @Bhagpuss – That is the Swift Zhevra from the first Blizz refer-a-friend program back in 2008. I got it for referring my friend Scott back in the day. The Zhevra is a horned zebra that lives in The Barrens and tells Chuck Norris jokes in chat.

    Pia’s mount is more interesting. It is a later refer-a-friend reward that transforms the user into a flying mount that can carry a group member along for the ride. However, since TI is a no-fly zone, we just loped along on the ground.

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  10. Eric Schoneveld (@ericscho)

    It was way more crowded on the Isle when it came out. It has died down a little, but if you do a /who, there is always quite a few people still there. Upgraded my hunter quite a bit there, having a pet helps a lot and send the purple stuff over to my alts :).

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  11. Aerynne

    Cuppy,

    The gear is not all mob-dropped. You can get a lot of it from chests sprinkled all over the Isle. Many of these you can grab without engaging mobs, if you are fast and or stealthy. As someone else noted, once you get the gear, the Isle becomes much more survivable. There are several maps available to all the chests on the Isle.

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  12. Asmiroth

    Thoughts on bypassing a year’s worth of content? LFR will still require you to do the basic raids to get to the current ones but you’re so over-geared, it should just be a pass. Timeless Isle is great in concept but as an integrated system…it purposefully destroys other content.

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  13. Piacenza

    There is also a nice addon that I like called Lost Treasure Check. It tells you all the treasures of Pandaria that you’re still missing, and for those on Timeless Isle, actually tells you where to find them with coords and a short description of the location. I found some even after I got the achievement “Finding All The Stuff (And Having No Life To Speak Of)”

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  14. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Asmiroth – I guess. I had no plans to use LFR in any case, and even if I did, I was never going to advance beyond that since I am in a small guild with friends and not part of any organization that would raid. Is that content bypassed if you were never going there in the first place?

    The history of MMO updates and expansions is chock full of examples of content being bypassed or trivialized. And WoD will likely trivialize all of MoP and all those purples people got in whichever way. We can only hope that the new content is enjoyable enough to make that bearable.

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  15. rimecat

    It’s kinda of interesting but I still think of it as loot piñata island. Still, nothing new for end of expansion from Blizzard and MUCH less annoying than the Barrens last patch.

    As others have said, solo depends on your character and how much you like moving. No real issues with a Blood DK or either of the pet classes. Elemental Shaman and Feral Druid could be a bit of a pain if you missed the mob tells. Retribution was very m’eh, but I’m terrible at Ret so I’m taking the blame on that mess.

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  16. Helistar

    Interesting read. My point of view is completely different, I rushed to the Isle to complete the Legendary quest hours after the patch went live, then ignored it for some time. As I raid, all the stuff which drops there is completely irrelevant to me, and I’ve never really felt much in danger when fighting those mobs…. a 1.5m mob doesn’t live long when you do 300k+ dps.
    They added “Neverwinter-like” mechanics to several mobs, either the tigers doing the frontal cone attack, or the giants which do the stomp (if you’re close) / throw boulder (if you’re far). I think I prefer the WoW graphical approach compared to the “red zone” used in NW, while I don’t care much about immersion, I expect more a raid addon to give me red zones, and not the mobs themselves.
    In time, I’ve started to go to the isle for the pet tournament, and did some killing also, raining purples on my alts. For a fresh 90 character, they really are all massive upgrades on the quest gear. Since I don’t really play any of my alts, it wasn’t really useful, but it’ll come in handy when to level 90-100…..

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  17. Asmiroth

    @wilhelm I agree expansion packs overwrite existing content. It’s just a weird model where a patch does it, only to have the same thing happen the next patch (being the expansion). Essentially all the group content is irrelevant. But that’s another can of worms

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  18. Gripper

    I have always enjoyed the timeless Isle, I will agree working with a pet class makes it a lot easier to try and farm mobs etc, but it does make a great way for a group to work together there.

    In regards to the gear being overpowered – I disagree, its a great method to get alts ready for the next expansion and a stepping stone to get into the next LFR so you can see content.

    Just my $0.02

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  19. R

    The 496 TI gear is nice for catch-up purposes but isn’t end-game breaking… it’s worse than ToT LFR gear and barely equivalent to the best gear from the first tier of the expansion. Do a full run of ToT LFR with bonus rolls a couple of times and chances are you’ll end up with most of a better set of gear than from TI… and possibly a weapon and second trinket, too. And tier.

    I just tailor my TI experience to my toon’s gear and my skill level on it… with crappy gear I stick to the elite cranes and bulls, as I gear up I’ll start to take on more difficult mobs. I died a TON in the first week (probably spent 2K+ on repairs across toons) and a bit less every week since… toons get better, I get experience. These days I rarely die to anything that doesn’t involve some level of griefing, which is a bit too easy to pull off over there, in my opinion. I can’t recall the last Ordos fights that didn’t have at least one add pulled into it.

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