Do You Know the Way to Blackrock Caverns?

We had something of a double session of instance group fun last Saturday night.  As noted in the first post on the topic this week, we got on early and went to the Throne of Tides.

What you first see through the whirlpool

Previously on “The Instance Group”

By the time we finished that up and were back in Stormwind, we were just past the time when we would normally start playing, 9pm.  So we decided to scout out the next destination, which according to the instances by level guide, was Blackrock Caverns.

In hindsight, I supposed if you had asked me where Blackrock Caverns was, without any preamble or other data, I would have placed it in Blackrock Mountain, that well known location between Searing Gorge and the Burning Steppes.  Easy answer.  We’ve been there before many times to visit Blackrock Depths, Blackrock Spire (upper and lower), and to assault Coren Direbrew during Brewfest any number of times.

However, it appears if you mix in a zone in a new(-ish) expansion that is nowhere near that location, add in a quest in that zone that some of the group isn’t sure they have, add in our usual disdain for any pre-run research of any sort, then the obvious can become the obscure.

And so it was that, on arriving back in Stormwind after the Throne of Tides, we headed off to the portal to the Mount Hyjal zone on Kalimdor to search for the next instance.

More after the cut.

Yes, we went to Kalimdor.

Thanks to our diversion to Mount Hyjal the week before, we all had access to the portal and could jump right through.  From there though, plans sort of broke down.  Some of us were looking for a quest, or a quest update.  Others were looking for likely instance locations in the zone.  I certainly espied one of those.

Cool, but not Blackrock Caverns

Cool, but not Blackrock Caverns

We managed to reign in the chaos a bit and began to focus on the quest lead-in for the instance.  This was confusing at first, as the quest apparently has… for lack of a better term… a couple of states of being.  So Bung would try to share the quest and it would show somebody on the quest, somebody had completed the quest, and that two people were ineligible for the quest.  But, as it turned out, we all had the quest.

Once we arrived at that last bit, that we were all on nearly the same page quest-wise, we started in on the “where in Mount Hyjal is Blackrock Caverns” idea for a bit, until somebody actually clicked the map icon that is above the quest description and noticed that it was pointing us to Searing Gorge.  Where, you know, Blackrock Mounatin… the place full of Blackrock Orcs and other locations with the prefix “Blackrock”… is located.

So we got ourselves back in one spot and had the mage open a portal to Ironforge.  From there we got on the gryphon transit system headed to Thorium Point, which was actually a bit annoying to pick out of the various options on the flight map.  The number and density of flight points in the old world has grown quite a bit since the days of classic WoW.  From Thorium Point we were able to find the doors, though not before discovering that there was actually another, closer flight point in Searing Gorge.

The Doors to Blackrock Mountain

The Doors to Blackrock Mountain

Then we were into familiar tterritory.  Sort of.  We knew where all the old instances were, but where was Blackrock Caverns?  And so we began to search, and effort made easier by the fact that you can now fly inside of the open area under Blackrock Mountain… which, if I am honest, just seemed strange.  Too many years of running (not even riding) all around that area, up and down the giant chain links, and through the tunnels I guess.

Eventually we stumbled upon it.  It is co-located with the Blackrock Spire entrance, but instead of pushing on straight ahead, you take a right after the first orc barricade.  Once that was discovered and we were able to corral everybody into the same location again, we jumped on into the instance to see what we could see.

We enter the instance

We enter the instance

It was at about that point that somebody read the quest text… trying to figure out why we were all suddenly wearing diving helmets… and discovered that there was some sort of mole machine back at Mount Hyjal that would have just delivered us here.  It was just going to be one of those nights.  But we were there.  And the since we had arrived, we decided to see how far we could get.

Starting off in BRC

Starting off in BRC

There was some trash to kill, but the first boss was not too far off.  We cleared everything we could around Rom’ogg Bonecrusher, the first boss, and then decided to get stuck into him.

The fight started off well enough, looking to be on the way to a tank and spank when Rom’ogg dropped some chains on us and began winding up for for some big attack.  About the time we noticed that the chains had a health bar and that we should probably be attacking them, Rom’ogg delivered on his wind up, killing everybody but Earl.

Earl and Rom'ogg

Earl and Rom’ogg

On the bright side, because we had all pretty much kept on hitting Rom’ogg while in the chain, he was not left with much health and Earl was able to finish him off.  Earl was then able to revive Skronk with his jumper cables and we were all soon back amongst the living.

The death of Rom’ogg released a giant NPC, Raz the Crazed, who was green to us and who proceeded to clear something of a path for us before disappearing down the far end of the first floor.  Off we went in pursuit, down the ramp, and to the second floor.

Downstairs at Blackrock Caverns

Downstairs at Blackrock Caverns

That set us up for the next boss, Corla.

Facing Corla

Facing Corla

As before, we attempted to clear everything in the vicinity .  The fight itself was a bit confusing, as she has two minions with her who are initially invulnerable and then transform.  I am sure there is a recommended strategy for the whole thing, but we managed to bumble through.  I did drop out of cat form a couple of times to throw around some extra healing, and got killed for my troubles, but the rest of the group survived and Corla was slain.

We pressed on the the ramp at the far end of her chamber.  At the bottom of it was a dense array of mobs that brought out a groan from the group.  How were we going to tackle this?  And then Raz the Crazed showed up again, knocked them all aside, and ran off again.  The way was clear and, I am going to guess, the setup got exactly the reaction the designer expected.

As we approached the next boss, Karsh Steelbender, we were offered up the next quest in what I thought was an odd manner.  The same method was used before Corla and again later, where rather than an NPC handing you a quest or a quest being offered up in your quest tracker UI, an exclamation point was just placed in the middle of the floor, which brought up the quest when you walked over it.

What strange beast is this?

What strange beast is this?

If I were working on Cataclysm QA, I might have opened up a ticket about incorrect use of user interface elements.  Exclamation point means “click on this NPC or object for a quest.”  Only now it means “walk through the big yellow punctuation mark.”  Minor quibble, but it stood out for all of us after so many years of playing the game.

Anyway, we got past that to the next boss, Karsh Steelbender.  We were able to pull all the mobs around him so that the fight would just be him versus us.  So we went after him.  We started the fight, did our usual stuff and… noticed that things seemed to be going kind of slow.  Karsh has a buff on him that basically reduces all damage by 99%.

That'll slow things down

That’ll slow things down

On the bright side, he didn’t seem to be doing much damage to us either, so we had some time to figure this out.  I disengaged from the fight and ran around the room looking for anything that might help us, but nothing stood out.  Well, nothing but the big orange circle of stuff in the middle of the room.

Karsh up close

Note the orange thingy next to him

Without any other options, we had Earl drag him over into the orange stuff.  Earl managed that easily and we soon had Karsh planted in the circle of blazing fire or whatever.  And it worked!  His buff faded and we were able to lay down real damage on him.  Unfortunately, that also unleashed a massive and repeated series of AOE attacks on us which killed us pretty quickly.

Lacking a soul stone and with the jumper cables still on cool down, I released to run back to the instance.   That brought back a lot of memories, as you are ground bound in spirit form and have to follow the path up the giant chains and such.  My guess is that you will fly in spirit mode with some future patch.  Why should it be easier to get somewhere alive than when you are a ghost?  Anyway, I made it back, everybody was revived, and we pondered what to do.

Pondering on the steps

Pondering on the steps

We settled on the plan of Earl kiting Karsh into the orange blaze just long enough for his buff to go away and then getting him the hell out of it before we all died.  That seemed solid and it actually worked.  With just a little bit of moving around, he became the easiest boss in the instance and we knocked him down in nothing flat.

Later, when I went to WoWHead to look up the boss to see what I might have missed, I found this this comment on the fight which I thought was pretty funny.

After 16 wipes trying to find out his tactics, we ended up killing him without doing anything, leaving his 99% damage reduction buff on. Took 2 hours. Only reason healer didn’t go oom was because she was pally, meleed the boss for mana.

Two hours to take him down? Ouch!  I have to guess that they were doing it in heroic where the solution isn’t quite as simple.  But in normal mode, we were past Karsh and on to the next floor quest, the take down of Beauty.

Beauty, eh?

Beauty, eh?

Beauty is a big core hound with some pups around.  After getting out our own core hound puppies from way back when, we managed to pull off the pups and slay them one by one, then took our Beauty on our first try.  Staying out of the molten dog drool seemed to be the key to the battle.

Then it was time for the final boss, Ascendant Lord Obsidius.  Another frenetic fight with adds and positional changes and running around and the feral druid dying.  Ah well.  Somehow we overcame without me, Obsidius was slain, and the achievement was ours.

BRC-Achi

And that was about that.  The instance was done.  We managed to bump the guild up a level along the way.

BRC-TClevel11

It was also kind of nice to be back in a familiar feeling dungeon.  As was noted more than a few times during this run, it certainly had a familiar feel to it.  Yet another instance done in the Blackrock Modern style.  There was, of course, the final group picture.

Greetings from Blackrock Caverns

Greetings from Blackrock Caverns

We got ourselves back out to the main area in Blackrock Mountain and grouped up again for portal back to Stormwind.

Flying under the mountain

Flying under the mountain

In Stormwind we had a quick planning session for what would come next.  It looks like we should just plunge into Deepholm next time, as that appears to be where the next instance is located.  We took a quick swing by experience NPC again to turn exp on again.  The new group goal is to rise up to level 83.

And, as is becoming part of the pattern, additional snap shots from the journey.

4 thoughts on “Do You Know the Way to Blackrock Caverns?

  1. Shintar

    Haha, I’m glad you mentioned the mole machine eventually because I spent the first ten paragraphs or so going: “But why didn’t they use the mole machine?!” Though it’s not like I’ve never been guilty of picking up a quest in WoW and not really reading it until later…

    The exclamation marks floating in space are a bit silly, but I suppose it’s better than the alternative they used in some of the low level dungeons (Maraudon comes to mind), where there simply isn’t any kind of marker where a quest pops up, and if you don’t happen to run over exactly the right spot on the ground you simply won’t get the quest.

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  2. R

    Yeah, the yellow exclamation mark in spaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaace is a mechanic that comes up again here and there, it isn’t exclusively used in that instance. Still not exactly common, though. And unfortunately, if you run a quest mod that makes it hard to notice when you have a quest auto-turn-in, there isn’t a big-ass grey exclamation mark in spaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaace to warn you that you might have missed something important, there’s just nothing there. I think I ran that place 4 times on different toons before I actually had one finish the quest in one run.

    Are you planning on running through any of the heroic versions once you hit 85? Almost all of my (generally bad) experiences with those Cataclysm 5-mans were of the heroic variety so I can’t gauge how much easier the normals were while leveling (from your explanations, sounds like a lot easier, I don’t recall many “… and the tank soloed the boss the rest of the way down” events from my past). It’d be interesting to me to hear how different your experiences are with heroic vs normal, most of the mechanics that you seem to be able to ignore or blow through aren’t so ignorable on heroic… the MoP heroics were somewhat scaled back to more of a Wrath difficulty level but they’re now talking about making WoD heroics closer to the Cataclysm level of difficulty again, I’d be interested in the opinion of someone who’s seeing the Cataclysm heroics for the first time in terms of their difficulty and if it’s something you’d want to see again. I prefer easier heroics personally.

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  3. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Shintar – It was just one of those nights when we got fixated on something being the answer without double checking. It has happened before. It will happen again. Read twice, portal once or some such should be our plan.

    @R – There is no official plan as yet, but I imagine that we will likely just float on up into and through Pandaria after doing what is essentially a tourist run through some of Cataclysm. How soon that comes about will then dictate how much time we spend trying Pandaria heroics alongside the other options that come up at level 90. We do have an alt group still starting off in WotLK which could see some action as well.

    I don’t think we’re as hardcore as we used to be, and we have the whole varied play times aspect of the group. We shall see.

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  4. gwjanimej

    Dunno if you’d read up on it or not, but the trick to Corla is to have someone tanking the beams, swapping out before they get transformed.

    As for Karsh, in addition to dropping his buff, melting his armor actually debuffs him as well. It’s a balance between not running your healer OOM from AoE and allowing the DPS to race him down. Very fun fight, probably one of my favorite 5 man bosses from Cata.

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