So there we were with time still to play and sitting in Lakeshire, Redridge, having just completed the new version of the Deadmines.
We decided to immediately hit up the Dungeon Finder for a random dungeon, just to see what we would get.
So from Lakeshire we were transported to The Wailing Caverns.
And there was an audible groan at being transported to this instance. If there was an instance that was the opposite of the old Deadmines, which was tight, linear, action packed, and very story driven, it could be argued that Wailing Caverns (WC) was it.
WC was long (3 hours easy, making no mistakes), meandering, packed full of trash which would respawn by the time you had to get back to the entrance, and while it had a story, you could easily lose it in the vast expanse of the place.
In some ways, WC was probably more like what one would imagine as a real dungeon. You could get lost, or disoriented very easily, especially since there were no built-in maps for the place. I am sure it is an instance a lot of people tried once. People fawn over the Deadmines and grumble about WC. We say we want a dungeon until we’re really given one.
That was the pre-cataclysm WC. The one we failed to finish our last time through.
WC has been revamped some as well with the coming of Cataclysm. As discussed at BlizzCon, WC was targeted for a trim in order to make it a more manageable dungeon experience. Unlike some of the other instances, WC does not have special areas for a number of its bosses, so they could be moved around so as to allow Blizz to trim down the size of the instance.
And trim down they did.
It is hard to tell. I will have to get out an old map somebody made of the instance to compare with the new map.
But the whole thing took us a lot less than the standard 3+ hours it used to.
It starts the same old way, at the foyer with a few quests, one for deviate hides, one for some flowers, and one to kill four of the key bosses in the instance, the four corrupt druid leaders. This ends up taking you on a tour of the instance where you run into a series of bosses in addition to the four in the quest.
Lady Anacondra was right up front for us in one of her old spawn locations. If the map is to be believed, and I have no reason not to believe it, she sticks to that one spot now. Like most of the fights for us, this one went quick. I am beginning to note the ascendancy of the importance of DPS in these early dungeons. We seemed to be able to just burn stuff down quickly as opposed to needing to tank and heal as much as before.
Of course, with a boomkin-in-training druid and a priest on hand, there was some doubling up on healing when it was needed, so it is hard to tell how our group is going to end up playing as we get into tougher instances.
One ability that the numerous druids in the instance have is the ability to put players to sleep temporarily. With the other races, this ends up with a standing posture with the “Zzzz” graphic and a wobble similar to the dazed posture that Prince Duncan used get in Dark Castle. (Those who remember the game are probably, even now, making some of the sound effects from the game.)
However, Worgen have different posture. And so, when they get put to sleep, they pitch forward on all fours in a manner that made me immediately announce to the group, “I’m driving the porcelain bus!”
Yes, Worgen posture makes them look like they are about to throw up. So, of course, throwing up metaphors were thrown out by certain individuals every time they were put to sleep.
Lady Anacondra out of the way, we turned around to see Kresh the turtle scurrying along. We lit out after him and managed to snare him and take him down in quick order. The drops from Lady Anacondra and Kresh ended up being two big items for Xula, our tank. There she is with the worn turtle shield and and a snake themed mace of which I cannot recall the name.
Our tank armed, we continued on through the instance. It feels about the same. There does seem to be considerably less yard trash to wade through, which probably explains the fact that we finished up in well under three hours. Just under two hours, actually. And, of course, the new in-game map of the instance, with the boss locations marked on it was a big help. I think this might have been the first time we didn’t get lost or end up having to back track or otherwise find our way to some location we missed.
And so we made our way through the instance, ending up at Verdan the Everliving. He certainly always seems to be alive when we get to his location. He is also one of the first truly giant bosses you are likely to run into when doing the instances.
Note the tiny gnome who is barely a third of the way to the giant Verdan.
Verdan went down fairly easily. He is big, but he is straightforward.
In fact, all of the boss fights up to that point were pretty easy. In addition to trying to balance the fact that we’re experienced in working as a group without our taking on new roles, we were also leveling up pretty quickly.
By the time we hit Verdan, we were all level 20 and out of blue bar double experience. Quite a jump from most of us, with the exception of NB, being only a short way into 17 when we headed for the Deadmines earlier in the evening. I thought Blizzard cut the experience for dungeon mobs to keep people from leveling out before they were able to do the zone content.
Anyway, being a few levels stronger no doubt added to the ease of things.
Verdan down, all of our required druid bosses slain, all of our deviate scales obtained, and all of our flowers picked, we had to do what you have always had to do in Wailing Caverns, walk back to the front door to Naralex and turn things in.
This was always the turning point. Dealing with Naralex was just an interaction, not a quest. You had to escort him through the likely respawned yard trash, get him to his location, then defend him while he summoned the final boss, Mutanus the Devourer.
However, now your interaction with Naralex is through a quest, which implies that you might get a redo if he dies, rather than having to reset the whole instance and start over again… which is what happened to us last time.
He did not die on us this time though.
The fact that we spent much less time getting to this point meant that we didn’t have to battle through respawns. Instead we just had to follow him… or, rather, chase him to his destination. He has to be the fastest escort mob I have seen to date.
Once there, the event began. It was a bit more challenging than the previous boss fights, but not dramatically so. Again, we were close to out-leveling the instance, which no doubt helped. Mutanus was soon down and there were achievements all around.
And the whole thing was done in just under two hours. There was a time when doing Wailing Caverns was an all-evening affair. You could do WC AND go to bed, but not much else. This time around, we did the Deadmines and Wailing Caverns in one night.
Which I am sure says something. You tell me what.
Of the two, WC is certainly more true to its old self and probably the most improved. It is still a huge, sprawling place, and you could still get lost if you don’t pay attention. But it has been retuned to be less of a slog, less of a nightmare.
While the new Deadmines left me longing for the old version, the revamped Wailing Caverns is really what the instance probably should have been from the start. There are no instant quests pop-ups, no new gimmicks, just some changes to iron out some of the slog and suck.
Experience-wise, the group is all levels 20 and 21 now, which means that next week we will probably want to start off with Ragefire Chasm, since the cap for that in Dungeon Finder is level 21.
So we’ll tackle that, and maybe another instance. We shall see.