Saturday night and we were back at it in Azeroth after a week off for illness. Last time we wrapped up a quick jaunt into Deepholm, running the initial quest line and then jumping into the Stonecore to just to scout, but ending up finishing the instance. That left the group all around level 83 and ready to look into Uldum next. The state of the group was:
- Earlthecat – Level 83 Human Warrior Tank
- Skronk – Level 83 Dwarf Priest Healing
- Bungholio – Level 83 Gnome Warlock DPS
- Alioto – Level 83 Night Elf Druid DPS
- Ula – Level 84 Gnome Mage DPS
Uldum meant getting down to Tanaris, the nearest flight point available to me. Unfortunately, after nearly 9 years at this game, I still don’t know an expedient way to get there from any of the major cities. Being a druid, I used my free pass to Moonglade skill and took the bird all the way down, which took a while. (Didn’t there used to be an addon that showed the flight time between points? Anyway, it took long enough to make me wish for the faster travel guild perk.) Anyway, the distance shown on an out-of-date map.
At least we are long past the days where you could only go between two flight points before having to select your next point on your way to your destination. And this problem pretty much goes away once you are into Uldum, as you get a direct portal from Stormwind thereafter. But we had to do it the old fashioned way once.
Some of us did, in any case. Skronk had pre-positioned himself at the summoning stone for the Caverns of Time and I joined him there once I arrive, so we were able to summon in the rest of the group without them having to make the trek.
From there we moved to pick up the flight point at the southwestern part of the zone, as it is the one that links Uldum to the rest of the world. I am sure many an adventurer has figure that one out the hard way. Then it was time for the entry event into Uldum. You get on the cart and ride.
More after the cut.
I was a bit worried about this part, that it would separate the group for a stretch. In my mind, the whole event from getting on the caravan to the arrival in Ramkahen was a solo affair. I had not done this since not too long after Cataclysm shipped. My memory was incorrect however. After the caravan cut scene, you are in a special zone, but it is shared with other people. The whole group was there, along with a couple of strangers, so we were able to run through it together, savoring some of the more amusing dialog.
We stumbled through that and ended up at Ramkahen, the main faction inn/base/hub location in the zone, where we started off on some of the quests. There was a push to get us up to a friendly standing with the Ramkahen, as that would allow us to buy their tabard which, in turn, would apportion faction gains from dungeon runs to them.
Basically, we all want a camel mount.
And none of us have one because we are not exalted with the Ramkahen because Cataclysm is the great neglected WoW expansion in our group. We took a break shortly after it launched and only came back after Mists of Pandaria was nearly a year old. And upon returning, Cataclysm, being only five levels deep, has become something of a “fly over” expansion… or, at best, a quick tour of the highlights… before Pandaria becomes the focus. So there is still lots to do/back-fill in Cataclysm when we have time.
So we got ourselves to friendly, bought tabards from the Ramkahen quartermaster, who is right next to the inn building, and headed off for the next instance on our list, the Vortex Pinnacle.
The instance itself is way up in the sky at the south end of the zone. I somehow remain surprised that Cataclysm zones assume you have a flying mount. I don’t know why. I guess Cataclysm is the odd duck in that you were able to fly in all of its zones from day one, unlike Outland, Northrend, or Pandaria where you had to soldier through on foot before getting to fly… at least back in the day for the older ones. Up and in we went.
The instance itself keeps with the “up in the sky” theme, being made up of three groups of floating platform areas, each with its own boss.
Likewise, the mobs were very much of the insubstantial wind and dust nature.
The instance is very good looking and is well tied together visually. Plus travel between platforms was a hoot.
But otherwise, the bits you might expect to be hard seemed a bit easy. I couldn’t tell you who the first boss was from memory, and the second was a dragon of some sort, if I recall right. Some fights with trash mobs were harder than either of those two.
I realize that this is a combo of instances getting tuned to be a bit easier by Blizzard over time along with us simply not being as bad as we once were. (Not that I am claiming we’re skilled. Even with the Droodfocus addon that Helistar recommended a few weeks back, I am still down with the tank in DPS.) But a lot of this particular instance seemed fall without too much effort.
It wasn’t bad. It didn’t feel like a complete faceroll. We wiped on trash despite the first two bosses being lackluster. And then there was the final boss.
Enter Asaad, Caliph of Zephyrs, which is a hell of a title.
There were, of course, the expected references to the current Syrian leader.
Asaad is all about electricity it seems. Our first fight with him was a complete, insta-wipe when he set off his big attack. The fight started off well enough, and when he started casting his Grounding Field, we all stayed clear of that. Why would you stand near something a boss laid down? And then he set off Supremacy of the Storm and we all died. Zap.
That was bad. There was clearly something we missed. So we got ourselves ressed, buffed ourselves back up , and considered what we might do differently. The whole idea of his Grounding Field, which didn’t really seem to do anything during the fight, kept popping up as an unanswered question. Finally, we decided to go stand inside the field this time rather than avoiding it. What the hell, right?
So we started off the fight again, and when the time came, we stood inside his Grounding Field.
Thus situated, we waited for Supremacy of the Storms to hit. And when it did, we were all still alive. We had clearly found the answer. Not that it wasn’t sort of obvious in hindsight, but sometimes it is nice to figure something out, or at least guess right, early on.
And so the fight went predictably from there. Asaad went down, the instance was complete, the achievement was ours.
The last drop was a three way need-out between the cloth wearing casters. At least it wasn’t a mail armor item like a few of the blue drops. And then it was time for the end of instance group picture.
Getting everybody positioned, looking in the same direction, and the camera oriented correctly can be a challenge. That is Earl behind the turban.
By that point most of the group had rolled over to level 84, setting us up for next time. Skronk was a bit shy of the mark, so we went and ran a few more quests as a group out in Uldum. More faction for all of us.
Now we have a choice of instances as we are in the level range for The Lost City of Tol’vir and Halls of Origination in Uldum as well as Grim Batol in the Twilight Highlands. I suspect we will take a run at one or both of the Uldum instances next time (more Ramkahen rep), leaving Twilight Highlands for our final objective. After that it will be PandaVille all the way.
As a final bit on The Vortex Pinnacle, I will toss in some of the screen shots I took of us traveling between the platforms. At each platform there is a whirlwind of sorts that shows a green arrow when you mouse over it, indicating that you can mount it. Upon clicking, you get tossed about through the air until you land on the next platform. Hardly the most exciting thing in the world, but I found it engaging and well animated. And it looked like fun.