The full group has not met up for a couple of weeks, though we have somehow managed to form a secondary “alts” group from an unlikely set of characters. We have two DPS spec’d warriors, a rogue, and a restoration druid in the level 71-75 range, and the four of them together managed to do some instances. We had trouble with Burning Crusade heroics, but normal mode dungeons in WotLK seemed to be possible.
So now I have two night elf druids in play in guild groups, one DPS and one healer.
As a four person group we have to actually fly/walk to the dungeons we want to run, but that is part of the charm. It is all manual mode, so to speak.
Anyway, that was what we were up to in the off weeks after Blackrock Caverns.
Last weekend though we managed to get the whole group together again and pointed in the same direction. Our lineup was:
- Earlthecat – Level 82 Human Warrior Tank
- Skronk – Level 82 Dwarf Priest Healing
- Bungholio – Level 83 Gnome Warlock DPS
- Alioto – Level 82 Night Elf Druid DPS
- Ula – Level 83 Gnome Mage DPS
And our destination was Deepholm.
More after the cut.
A new zone for us.
Deepholm is one of the two really visually unique zones that came with the Cataclysm expansion. Uldum, Mount Hyjal, and Twilight Highlands all look like… well… Azeroth. There are some new models and such, but they blend right into the old world. So do the Goblin and Worgen starter areas. Deepholm, along with Vashj’ir, are the bold new locations for the expansion and, as far as I can tell, the bits that people like the least.
As with our run into Vashj’ir, our goal was to get into the zone as a group and run through a bit of the quest line and see the sites. The bar was set pretty low. Only one of us had run the initial quest, so we all got to hang out with Thrall for a bit before jumping into yet another spiraling vortex to enter the zone.
Deepholm is actually a visually striking zone. It is not as pretty as Vashj’ir, which is delightful to simply look at, so long as you don’t suffer ill effects from motion sickness, video bloom distortion, or general disorientation in a 3D swimming environment, but it does have its own look. If Vashj’ir is “under the sea” then Deepholm is “under the earth.” Only, instead of water, you have to have a flying mount to move about. But at least everything you find or fight ends up being on the same plane as you when you arrive.
It is also the location of a giant support system that staves off disaster and which is under threat from the Twilight Hammer cult and their whole deal with the old gods or something. There is a problem and we’ve been dispatched to solve it.
We set off on down the quest chains, which showed the usual Blizzard dichotomy when it comes to overland grouping. On some quests they made sure that groups kept together and got updated in ways that made sense. I always like the ones where if the “1 of 5” quest item drops on a mob, we either all get the update or are all able to loot that corpse for the update. And on other quest we were back to the traditional “if five of you need five drops each, then you will have to slay at least 25 mobs” outlook on the matter.
As with Vashj’ir, I had only been through Deepholm once before. But I recall it being a place where moving in a group made things a bit easier, and so we progressed pretty quickly through the quest chain, making it up to the big alliance gunship and Stormcaller Mylra, who has a way with ogres.
Unfortunately the gunship, which is in distress, has a tendency to lurch about the sky and change its list from port to starboard with a rather disconcerting suddenness, leading to some concerns about motion sickness. Still, we got through that and got back to the central quest hub… which also the temple of the earth at the center of the very circular zone and which is also at the base of the whole support column you are trying to save. Hub indeed!
While there, we ended up trying to find a quest marker on the map that kept eluding us. In chasing this around we ended up discovering the instance in Deepholm, the Stonecore. It is another “flying mount required” location, being located way up the central pillar in the zone at about 9 o’clock on the map.
Once we got up there, complicated by my saying the whole thing was at 3 o’clock on the map (I blame lingering disorientation from the lurching gunship!) we found that the elusive quest icon on the had to be inside the instance. The evening still being young enough, we decided we might as well go in and take a look. And once we turned off the “heroic” flag for instances, we did just that.
We picked up the quest we had been seeking and considered our goals for the evening. We decided to move in for a reconnaissance in force.
Interestingly, one of the NPCs in the dunegon was Millhouse Manastorm who I had seen recently in The Arcatraz during some of our alt group runs in Outland. This time though he wasn’t on our side, so we chased him on into the instance and through the first boss, at which point I sort of lost track of him. I can’t recall offhand if we cornered him for info or what. But we seemed to be doing well and moving ahead pretty quickly, so we carried on into the second boss, Slabhide.
That was a good fight with lots of telegraphed “here comes bad stuff” blows to keep us running about. We made it through without loss. No mount drop, but we were clearly feeling confident. And then we worked our way around to what I will call “the encampment,” which is in the little kidney-shaped area on the map above.
This is a series of tents, buildings, and lean-tos featuring groups of mobs in close proximity, with more wandering around from group to group. This became the part of the night where we started to wonder if maybe we started too late, as working through this successfully… at least without being totally over-powered, and we were not totally over-powered… meant a Pick-up Sticks-like of pulls after carefully considering how many mobs you would get, and then killing the right ones first.
This took us a while.
On the bright side, we managed not to wipe. But we came damn close. One fight ended with me having to pick up the tank role in bear form after we failed to kill the casters who summoned a bunch of help that killed Earl. Then, in another huge brawl where we clearly did not choose wisely (Skronk said it was a bad idea, and he was right!) we ended up with me having to take up the healer role to keep Earl alive for the last few mobs. Utility druid for the win I suppose, but it was all quite a workout.
After that, the rest of the instance went fairly smoothly. We made it through the next boss, Ozruk, without any drama and picked up the next quest in the instance… which did not require a big exclamation point sticking up from the floor… which required us to slay 101 bad guys. Fortunately, they seemed to be in plentiful supply.
They were non-elite, so we slaughtered them in droves. We found more standing in ranks before the final boss, High Priestess Azil. Pulling each of the three formations before her did not aggro her, so we were able to bring our count up to 99. And then we couldn’t find any more. We ran around to see if we missed any, but no more were to be found. We were two shy of our goal.
Which pretty much meant that we were destined to see some in the final boss fight. I think Skronk called it first, and it came to pass.
The last fight was a good one, one of those fights where I wish I was the healer or ranged DPS so I could get a bigger view of the fight. As melee I was in too close to see everything, though it still wasn’t as bad as Earl, who says his view of most boss fights is a screen filled with some huge mobs foot and shin. Guys were running in, pools of harmful gunk showing up, and big rocks falling out of the sky were just part of the fun. And we won.
We came to Deepholm just to get the lay of the land and we ended up finishing off the instance. The combo of doing a bit of the quest chain along with the instance did give us a full evenings worth of entertainment. We lined up for the traditional group shot and then headed out.
Next on the list would seem to be Uldum. We will likely follow the same plan, get everybody to the zone to do some questing and see what is up and run with whatever we find. If I recall right, the Uldum intro sequence is solo and takes a bit. We shall see how that works out. Maybe we’ll get a camel.