Last time out for the instance group we finished up the last of the normal mode instances, Grim Batol, and then decided to try our hand at Cataclysm heroics.
The Deadmines, ever the favored dungeon in Azeroth, was our target and the fact that we couldn’t use the Dungeon Finder because the item level of our gear was too low did not deter us in the slightest. An item level of 329 seemed too much to ask.
In hindsight, we might have paid a bit more attention to that last bit. While we managed to get in the door and through the first couple of bosses, we were clearly in over our head and called it a night after too many wipes in the foundry.
Thus stopped mid-instance, we decided to remedy the gear item level situation in Pandaria. Four of us went to visit Silkweaver Rul in Pearlfin Village.
While we had all picked up at least a few items in our first foray into Pandaria, where we stopped at Pearlfin Village, we clearly did not pick up enough. The four of us each ended up buying 8 or 9 items from the vendor.
The gear is kind of interesting. There is something there for everybody and it is all item level 372. It is also all bind on pick up and you cannot disenchant them. This is clearly the “catch up” vendor for those entering the expansion.
Earl, on the other hand, decided to press on into Pandaria to gear himself up. He didn’t get to read the discussion in last week’s comment thread about the balance between health and main stats versus secondary stats as you level up in Pandaria, which was probably a good thing as it was more than I really wanted to consider, and just leveled up to 86. He also came up with an item level 450, account bound (which means you can mail it to your alts), sword to wield.
So the group was all at item level 372 or above and ready to go.
- Earlthecat – Level 86 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
The question was, where should we head with our new gear? Ula was AFK when that discussion started, and when she returned she flatly stated that we were going to go back to the Deadmines and that was pretty much that. The decision was made. Having walked there last time, we felt entitled to use the Dungeon Finder to get us there.
Did all that gear make a difference? More after the cut.
Into the Deadmines.
And, yes, the gear upgrades made a huge difference. Knowledge gained from the previous week’s run helped as well. We knew what to expect from at least the first three bosses and how to deal with the slave monkey population.
For example, not only were we ready for Glubtok’s bag of tricks, but we spent a lot less time exposed to his special attacks because our damage was up enough to burn him down pretty quickly.
Likewise, the Helix Gearbreaker fight, which we won on the first try last time, went down much quicker, letting us move on to the lower level of the Deadmines, starting with the Goblin Foundry, where we were stymied previously.
The Goblin Foundry and the Foe Reaper 5000 was pretty well known to us at this point. We gave it enough tries last time around that we passed our threshold for looking things up no the web and had the suggested strategy, we just didn’t have quite the skill/power to execute.
This time around we were able to knock it out on the first try. After clearing the trash from the room, I got in the prototype reaper and headed down to the base of the ramp to catch adds, while Earl and the rest of the group took on the big guy. It worked, and we even got an achievement.
Not that I did not say that we “earned” this achievement. You get it by getting through the fight with the prototype reaper still at 90% or greater health. I actually lost the prototype reaper near the end of the fight, but remembered that it respawns back up at the top of the ramp. So I ran back up and jumped in a fresh unit and headed down the ramp just as the fight ended. Boom, achievement for being in an essentially undamaged prototype reaper.
With the third boss out of the way, we were able to move deeper into the instance, down the halls and to the big door with the now booby-trapped cannon that we always get on and shoot because that is how things have always been done in the Deadmines.
There is a little ambush there at the door and then it is up to the ship, avoiding the explosions and the occasional rogue parrot. We made it to the ramp where we took a moment to remember Mr. Smite, the old first mate of the ship who once guarded the ramp and who used to be the big test as mobs jumped up a couple of levels when you got to him.
We also had to wonder at the decorations on the ship.
Blizzard is big on injecting their holiday events into everything, so love was in the air even way down in the Deadmines.
Then it was time to clear the decks. We did the traditional clearing around the back first, where Cookie used to be, before heading up the ramps to the higher levels. Aside from occasional tense moment where we got a couple of adds, or where I was shooting the cannons a bit too enthusiastically at anything that moved. Eventually though we arrived at the top and were able to look back at our path in.
Then it was on to the main deck of the ship to face the various bosses, with Admiral Ripsnarl being the first on the list.
His fight has its own special “lost in the mists” flavor, but in the end it is just “kill Ripsnarl.” And so we did.
Then it was time for “Captain” Cookie, ostensibly the commander of the ship since the demise of Edwin Van Cleef back before Cataclysm. We actually had some trouble with Cookie. He runs out and jumps in a cooking pot, then proceeds to throw bad food all over, which is the stuff you need to avoid stepping in during the fight. Way back when we did this in normal mode, it was pretty easy. In Heroic, Cookie gets a little more ambitious with his food fight tactics.
We ended up standing too long in the wrong things and wiped the first time around.
For round two we decided to be a little more mobile as some of the food was clearly aimed. That seemed to do the trick and we managed to slay him on the second try, something that got Alioto a double achievement.
Apparently I never ran the Deadmines when leveling Alioto up. The second achievement is for not standing in too much bad food… allowing only one debuff to stick to you.
That, however, did not get us the Heroic Deadmines achievement. For that there is one final boss that you do not get in the normal dungeon; Vanessa Van Cleef, daughter of of Edwin and the power behind what remains of the Defias these days. She gets summoned when you click on a little sparklie piece of paper that shows up on the deck once Cookie is down.
We had to say, “Don’t touch it!” aloud on coms because the temptation to click the sparklie can be too much for some of us at time. We wanted to heal up and be ready before we started on the final event.
Once sure of ourselves, Earl clicked on the paper and Vanessa appears, seated above the doorway.
She then proceeded to drug us, causing all of us to be stunned and stuck in place, and then started us off on the hallucinogenic part of the event, which I must say started off in dramatic fashion.
Once the first bit was solved, we were thrown by Vanessa into the nightmares of various bosses in the instance, starting with Glubtok.
This requires you to run to the bottom of the ramp through a barrage of fire and ice. Earl, having done this before, said “Follow me!” and off we went.
In the wrong direction.
About the time we got back to Glubtok’s original spot, we started to feel that things didn’t look quite right. We decided to turn around, and by the time we got to the ramp it was literally ablaze from top to bottom. Earl made it through and went after Glubtok while a couple of us died on the ramp. People were being ressed up the way when Earl managed to succeed and trigger the next stage, Helix Gearbreaker’s nightmare, which involved a lot of spiders. Spread out and freshly ressed as we were, we managed to hold together long enough to wipe in a nice tight pattern.
A soulstone was ready and we were able to get back up and finish of Helix before advancing to the next stage, which involved running past some rotating electrical death thingies.
We managed to fail on that. Well, Earl made it through, but the rest of us had to get a ress. But Earl was far enough along that he triggered the final nightmare event, which we were totally not ready for, what with four out of five of the group still being up at the start of the lightning round. And then the event, which involved saving Admiral Ripsnarl’s family, failed we were all killed.
With no soul stones handy and all of us dead, we had to release and walk back into the instance. We figured that, with the knowledge we gained about things like running the right direction and avoiding spinning rods of death lightning, we would be able to get through the event on our second try.
However, when we got back in, healed up, put up buffs, and took the teleporter to the far end of the instance, Vanessa seemed done with the whole hallucination thing. Her thinking was probably along the lines of, “These guys can barely go 10 feet without dying, I’ll just finish them myself and save the drugs for somebody else.”
And so the final fight began, which was chaotic and involved adds and grabbing ropes to jump off the ship to avoid explosions and which kept me so busy that I failed to take a single screen shot during the fight. I even missed the achievement when we won.
But win we did, and on the first try. So we took our traditional group shot there on the burning deck of the ship.
Then it was over the side and out the back door to declare ourselves done. A pity all the loot was item level 350 or so. Nothing worth putting on.
I often think of exits being something of a Burning Crusade invention, as the instances there were pretty good about having a way out that didn’t involve walking all the way back through the instance, unlike the instances in vanilla WoW. And then I do Deadmines again for some reason and go, “Oh, yeah, an exit on the first instance most people do!” and I wonder what happened for the rest of vanilla.
So we did it. And it did not even take the whole night. We had enough time to go after a short adventure. After batting around a couple of ideas, we decided on the heroic version of Shadowfang Keep. We queued up to save time, as we were all still out at Pearlfin Village.
For some reason, I always think of SFK as a long instance, and a tough one at that, based on memories from early WoW, with an endless series of trash fights and the horror on gnomes hidden in the straw inside the keep. But since then I have always been surprised at how short it has become, all the more so with the changes that came with Cataclysm.
And so it was this time. We weren’t sending Earl ahead to round up all the trash to AOE it away, as you might reasonably do in normal mode, but the fights with individual groups were not tough. We advanced through at a brisk pace, to the point that I took very few screen shots.
It was sort of the opposite of the Vanessa Van Cleef fight, where I was too busy fighting to take screen shots. Here I was too busy just moving forward to bother.
Even Lord Godfry at the end, with his dual pistols, didn’t stand up against us for long. He was down in a trice and we had the achievement.
Again, Alioto had never done SFK. I think I only started him on instances in Wrath of the Lich King content, which I pushed him through by healing for Dungeon Finder groups. Another group shot and it was time to call it a night.
Flush with that victory, we pretty much decided to dedicate our next outing to the level 85++ rated Zul’Aman and its 24 slot bag quest reward.
The lure of storage space is strong. Plus the transmog potential of the troll gear is pretty good as well.
Zul’Aman, and its converted-from-raid-format partner Zul’Gurub, are sprawling outdoor instances where I expect we will have to devote the full evening in order to complete them. We shall see if we are up to the task with our store bought item level 372 gear.