Back to the more comfortable (for me anyway) world of five person instances.
We all got together again on Saturday night wondering what we should do. We had all reached the magic level of 85.
- Earlthecat – Level 85 Human Warrior Tank
- Skronk – Level 85 Dwarf Priest Healing
- Bungholio – Level 85 Gnome Warlock DPS
- Alioto – Level 85 Night Elf Druid DPS
- Ula – Level 85 Gnome Mage DPS
We had all at least poked our noses into Pandaria for a few gear upgrades. So the question was where to head next? The only normal mode instance left undone by us in Cataclysm was Grim Batol. Kicking off the quest line into Twilight Highlands and doing that was the default plan for the night. We could also attempt Grim Batol in heroic mode, try one of the heroic only instances, or really roll the dice and try one of the two converted raids which were ranked as 85++.
We decided to go with the default. That would complete our minimum plan for Cataclysm content and then we could mess around with whatever else afterwards. That meant picking up the opening quest for Twilight Highlands and heading over to Stormwind Keep to chat with the king.
You can sort-of see the enchant on Alioto’s staff, which Skronk made for me with one of his alts. It is the agility enchant, but it is green and has an animation of leaves dropping from it, making it about the most perfect druid weapon enchant ever.
As we hung out waiting for everybody to get ready, we watched what seemed to be a continuous stream of people show up and speak to Major Samuelson over in the corner, at which he would transform into some sort of Ganesh-esque monster which had to be slain. Clearly a popular quest line on a Saturday night. We weren’t sure what lead to that, but we had our own tasks to work on. Once we were all together, we spoke to the king, got our one version of the destined to be troublesome Prince Anduin (nicely, everybody’s copy of the prince was only visible to themselves) and off we went to unlock the way to the Twilight Highlands.
More after the cut because of the usual group nice verbosity.
The quest line lead us around the docks, through a farm, and over to SI:7 and finally back to Stormwind Keep where, lo and behold, we had to go speak to Major Samuelson. He, of course, did the same transformation trick we had watched at least a half a dozen times earlier, ending up dead as always.
That done, we were sent back to Stormwind Harbor for a flight out to Twilight Highlands by one of the usual Gnomish flying machines. If you look closely, it seems like it spawned a version of the flying machine for each of us, as there is some odd graphics overlap.
We boarded the craft and took off. As is often the case, this was played for comedic effect, with the flying machine sputtering, falling out of the sky, then launching into overdrive only to land somewhat unceremoniously in the Twilight Highlands. Gnomes.
Once there, we launched into the initial Twilight Highlands quest line, doing just enough of it to phase ourselves into the main version of the zone, allowing us to pick up the flight point at Highbank.
At that point we thought about continuing on the quest line in the zone… for about two seconds… then dropped the quests and flew pretty much directly to Grim Batol, a location neither subtle on the map or in person.
Eyeballing just the door, I figure that the average human wouldn’t need a fifth of the height it offered, and even the most portly and overgrown ogre I have seem wandering the land probably wouldn’t reach half way. Nothing exceeds like excess. There, we decided to stick with the default plan and hit the normal mode version of the instance.
Grim Batol is sort of a zig-zaggy instance. While a straight line on the map might not seem very far, there is no straight path to where you want to go. We had actually done Grim Batol with our level cap alts group at one point as part of our faction grinding, so several of us were familiar enough with the instance to not make some of the mistakes we had made in the past. We were able, for example, to quit effectively use the bombing dragons you arrive at early on to soften up the road forward. We also managed to not fall through the rather large hole in one of the bridges and didn’t jump on the dragons again on our way out, only to find ourselves deposited back at the main boss and not the exit.
Add in a smattering of Panderia gear and… well… it was easy.
Bam! Erudax, the Duke of Below down, instance complete, achievement garnered, done with Cataclysm
Or we could claim to be done in any case. We achieved our minimum goals for what has become something of a fly-over expansion at this point. Five fast levels and you can move on to Pandaria.
And certainly Pandaria has many things to offer us as a group. Instances, scenarios, Timeless Isle, and whatever else could clearly occupy us for quite a while. But even with all that and the inevitable summer hiatus for the group, there was some thought toward dragging out the Cataclysm experience for a few weeks. After all, who know when we will see Warlords of Draenor?
With that in mind, we decided not to push further into Pandaria quite yet, and to give Cataclysm heroics a shot instead.
It was here that we approached that line which separates the amateur from the professional.
When it comes to this sort of thing, we are amateurs. We aren’t kidding ourselves. We know this to be true. I won’t claim we take pride in it, but we have clearly, consciously decided on this path.
This means we do not pay that much attention to gear. Better and upgrades can be somewhat arbitrary terms. How a weapon enchant looks can be as important, if not more so, than in what it does. We do not look up fights or instances in advance, we just roll on in and try to solve our problems once we are already knee deep in them.
And, apparently, we think that the Dungeon Finder is just yanking out collective chain when it says we cannot use the tool to enter Heroic Deadmines because a couple members of the group do not meet the minimum iLevel recommended for the instance. The magic number was 329 and we were not all there.
Dude, Dungeon Finder, you used to be cool. How can you suddenly lock us out of this stuff?
Psssh, silly Dungeon Finder! You cannot stop us. We have been walking to the Deadmines since before you were a prototype. Look at us back in 2006!
So off we went. Ula threw up a portal to Stormwind. We took the bird to Moonbrook… so we didn’t even have to ride across the zone like way back when. We went into the caves, following the right wall, to the entrance to the zone… a journey totally nerfed with Cataclysm. There are no more aggro mobs down there any more, much less elites. The place is full of homeless people. I get that this is part of the Cataclysm storyline, but still.
And we were promptly murdered.
Well, maybe not promptly, but it did not take too long. The first boss, Glubtok, isn’t all that far inside the instance.
We managed to work our way through the trash. It wasn’t hard, but it was a workout. We were clearly not going to be sending Earl up and down tunnels to collect all the mobs and then just AOE them down. And then there was Glubtok.
We managed to slay Glubtok on the third try, once we figured out his various special attacks. That line of flame shoots out of him, will kill you in a couple of ticks, rotates so you have to stay on the move, and is long enough that the ranged DPS was not exempt from the fun.
And the third attempt came down to me getting out of cat form and panic healing Earl as everybody else lay dead, so as to finish off Glubtok’s last few hit points.
It was about at this point that I started to consider that the five of us, as a group, had never even once done a heroic instance at level. Never.
We did a couple of heroics from The Burning Crusade when we were about half way through Wrath of the Lich King. But we were pretty well geared up by that point, having finally conceded that we might need to put away the Carrot on a Stick trinket and actually pay some attention to our gear. (Wish I had that trinket now though. They took it out of the game.)
So this looked like it was going to be something of a challenge for us, the iLevel warning from Dungeon Finder still crystal clear in my short term memory.
Still, we pressed on. We headed to that little side passage past Glubtok because there is a chest there, right?
No chest there, only death.
I think we wiped three times finding out that there was no chest. We did, however, finally figure out the monkeys at that point!
There are a bunch of neutral worker monkeys all along the tunnels, each with a ball and chain on their ankle. It turns out that if you click the cog wheel that comes up when you mouse over the ball, they turn friendly and won’t mob you and kill you when you attack something in the vicinity.
That helped us not die until we got to the Helix Gearbreaker fight, back where Sneed and his shredder used to be. And we even made it through that boss encounter on the first try, with only a couple of deaths and a rather large number of bombs left sitting about.
We managed to move forward from there with only the occasional random death, making it to the ramp down to the Goblin Foundry and the lower portion of the instance.
And there, as they say, our troubles began.
We managed to clear all of the trash around The Machination, the boss in the room. But dealing with him did not work out for us. We did a couple of straight up runs at him and wiped. We decided that maybe we should use the conveniently places and eternally respawning Defias Reaper at the top of the ramp as part of the fight. We wiped a couple more times.
We went to the internet and got some tips on how to use the Reaper and where to position the fight. And we wiped a couple more times.
I did find out during one fight, where I was the sole survivor, that running up the ramp and out of the room resets the encounter. This is, no doubt, to keep you from kiting him around the instance, but is also saved me from yet another death. And since I was already showing paper doll from damaged gear, that was a good thing.
We gave it another shot, but clearly were not getting close enough to warrant further effort. If we had the boss down to the last few hit points, it might have been encouraging, but I don’t think we ever got him past the 25% left mark. So we stood together for a group shot and called it a night.
We submitted our repair bill expense reports to the guild bank and went off to sleep.
To sleep and to ponder how we proceed.
I think we might gear up a bit more in Pandaria next week. As was pointed out to us in the comments on last week’s post, we can grab iLevel 272 gear at Pearlfin Village. That might be a start. And since the heroic instances are actually rated as level 85-87, we might even indulge ourselves in a level before we try another run at the Deadmines.
All I can say is that it was probably wise we didn’t go with my suggestion to head right into Zul’Aman or Zul’Gurub. 85++, likely too much for us right now.