The first Saturday night for the instance group after the launch of The Wrath of the Lich King found us wondering what to do. With a brand new continent to explore and ten more levels to grow, plus as yet unfinished content in the Outlands, the options were wide open. The line up for the night was:
70 Warlock – Bungholio
70 Warrior – Earlthecat
70 Priest – Skronk
70 Mage – Ula
70 Paladin – Vikund
We thought we should stick with our usual mission, though in the new lands of Northrend, so we decided to take a look in the first instance, Utgarde Keep.
This was a bit presumptuous of us, given that we had only upgraded some of our gear so far and we were struggling a bit back in the Outlands. But the new expansion smell was intoxicating, so we thought we would give it a try.
We met up in Valiance Keep in the Borean Tundra and started digging around various information sources to figure out just where Utgarde Keep really was. The expansion being fresh, information was somewhat sparse, but we eventually figured out where we needed to be.
Northrend is shaped somewhat like Australia and we were in Valiance Keep (Perth) and needed to be in Utgarde Keep (Canberra).
(The above image was taken from Wikipedia who in turn took it from the CIA World Fact Book.)
Which, frankly, was a bit out of the way. But, again, the spirit of adventure was upon us, so we decided to follow the roads east and see where we ended up.
That is very much the way we used to do things in the old days, in EverQuest; just saddle up the horses and ride… except we didn’t have horses back then. All we had back then was Spirit of the Wolf, and we were happy to get that!
So on we rode!
We ended up on a very nice tour of… south Northrend? … Southrend? … the landscape. As we went, we tried to pick up the flight points so we would not have to make this long ride again. We did very well at first, but we missed one or two in the middle, so we do not have cross-country, non-stop service as yet.
The ride was a lot of fun, and my reference to the days of EverQuest and seeing new things was not idle.
There was the Borean Tundra.
There was a beautiful snowy area that looked something like the night elves might end up with if they got snow.
There were areas of icy tundra with great fissures running through it and a giant tower in the snow.
And, in the usual jarring environmental change common to Azeroth where deserts and tropical forests exist mere steps apart, we ended up in a lush green forested hills, beautiful scenery and fjord turkeys.
As usual with our navigation, we ended up around on the wrong side of the place, at Utgarde Pinnacle, which you need to be level 75 to enter. A few minutes and only two falling deaths later, we made our way to the right summoning stone and portal.
Once we were there… and revived… there was nothing for it but to get into the instance.
Again, more great artwork. I have not been a huge fan of the Tesla-inspired electro-plasma dungeons that you find in the Outlands, but here, in Utgarde Keep, I felt at home. Skronk said it felt very much like a D&D location, and I could not help but agree. There was even Vulcan’s own forge there to warm us when we got going.
Warily, we started to work our way into the instance. And things went surprisingly well for a while. Our only wipe before the first boss due to line-of-sight issues when trying to heal. Things were looking good.
And then we hit the first boss, Prince Keleseth, and he just worked us. Not enough equipment upgrades, not enough hit points, and probably the wrong tactics meant that the prince wiped the floor with us five times running.
By that point, after the cross-country travel, we were tired and decided to call it a night. Soundly thrashed but having had a good time all the same, we left the keep.
Looking for a way out, we headed south a bit and ran almost immediately into Valgarde which, from the looks of it, is the OTHER starting zone for Northrend.
We grabbed the flight point then saw a ship pull up at the dock. It turns out that ship runs between Valgarde and Menethil Harbor.
So the right path for us would have been to take the boat from Menethil Harbor to Valgarde in Howling Fjord, then run 30 seconds to Utgarde Keep.
That information was not on WoWWiki on Saturday night.
Of course, not having that information made the night an adventure.
I think there is a lesson in that for all of us.