Daily Archives: August 11, 2008

Escape from Durnholde Keep – Round 1

Saturday night and time for some new scenery in Azeroth. Or some old scenery. Time travel makes nonsense of tense and grammar, and we did indeed travel through time for this one.

Our group, now all tracking to, or at, level 70, was:

69 Warlock – Bungholio
69 Warrior – Earlthecat
69 Mage – Ula
69 Paladin – Vikund
70 Priest – Skronk

The first order of business was to leave the Outlands and head to Tanaris, a location well known to the lot of us, and get to the Caverns of Time.

At the entrance to the Caverns of Time there is a dragon with a quest. He sends you on a dragon ride through a Pirate’s of the Caribbean-like experience (the Disney ride, not the movie) to main hub of the caverns.

Yo ho! Yo ho! A pirate's life for me!

Yo ho! Yo ho! A pirate's life for me!

There a Custodian of Time-bot leads you around in a big circle, whispering exposition to you. They are all female and wearing the same outfit, though they come from a variety of the Azeroth races. I saw human, blood elves, dranei, and even a gnome represented. No orcs or undead though.

After that bit of story telling, which I imagine gets less readers than the average quest text does, you do get a quest. You are off to the Hillsbrad Foothills of seven years past… so the 2001 verion I guess… to complete the Escape from Durnholde Keep.

Arriving at the edge of the foothills we met another dragon who offered us rides to Durnholde Keep. We quickly figured out that, if you have an epic mount, it is quicker to just ride to Durnholde Keep that to take the scenic flight path the dragons use, but Blizzard no doubt wants to show off their recycled art assets, plus the ride gives you a chance for a bio or to run off for a drink.

Dragons stacked up on approach to Durnholde

Dragons stacked up on approach to Durnholde

Nice now, in seven years it falls to pieces

Nice now, in seven years it falls to pieces

Once at the keep, there are some preliminary tasks to accomplish before you get on with the main mission, which is an epic escort quest with an orc named Thrall. He has to get around the zone and fight a couple of bosses before you are done with him.

In the setup tasks, we ran into a problem that would dog us throughout the session. We were constantly pitted against groups of four elites. Earl takes one, Mezzmon the voidwalker takes one, one get’s the polymorph treatment, and one is left to run around, hopefully picked up by the tank before it starts beating on the casters too badly.

Pre-respect, Vikund would have taken the extra guy as an off-tank. While as a retribution pally, he can certainly hold aggro, he also takes a lot more damage, which puts more work on the healer and divides his attention. So Vikund died a bit more often than usual while picking up that extra mob if it strayed.

Still, we could manage it for the most part because in the setup stage, we had a nice rest between each fight. A group of four with all of us fully charged was doable. Deaths did occur though.

Skronk and Vik re-enact Vik's 1985 New Years Eve Party

Skronk and Vik re-enact Vik's 1985 New Years Eve Party

Once we made it into the keep and to Thrall, things changed.

As is the usual pattern for escort quests, you follow the escortee while he leads you into ambush after ambush. And Thrall was impatient to get where he was going, so he literally ran from encounter to encounter. And all these encounters were groups of four, which meant we died. A lot.

Waiting for another round while Thrall gets dressed.

Waiting for another round while Thrall gets dressed.

You have to get through four of these fights, one right after another before you get to the first boss fight. It took us a while to figure out that Thrall is actually pretty hardy and can act as the off-tank. Plus, when you blow the quest and wipe, you just start over. This is a Caverns of Time quest, so the whole thing is practically on Tivo. Hit a button and jump back to the last stage.

It took us four tries to get to the boss fight with Captain Skarloc, and five tries to get there and actually defeat him.

With Skarloc down, Thrall takes a rest.  Note the repair bot in the background.  We needed it.

With Skarloc down, Thrall takes a rest. Note the repair bot in the background. We needed it.

Thankfully, the major events in this escort quest are milestones, and if you blow it, you only have to skip back to the last milestone. Also, Thrall stops and lets you take a breather at these points, waiting until you say you are ready before he heads out. (Tip, mount up before you send Thrall off after Skarloc, he grabs a horse and rides off.)

Things went a little better after that and we ended up facing the last boss, the Epoch Hunter.

Ugliest dragon yet!

Ugliest dragon yet!

His fight is another event where you have to knock off a few waves of his minions before you get to fight him. The fights were tough, we were tired, and after three tries, we ended up calling it a night. We were going to have to visit Old (young?) Hillsbrad Foothills again another time.

After this though, we did decide that what we really needed was a bit more healing and a good off tank. You know, a holy priest and a protection paladin. Skronk and I dropped another 15 gold and went back to our previous specs.

I am going to bet that, next week, the fights are going to come off with a lot less drama.