We had already poked our collective noses into Mists of Pandaria in order to get some gear upgrades to help us deal with the 85++ heroic dungeons, so we had a foothold in the expansion with a few flight points. Now the time had come to invest ourselves fully in the land of the anthropomorphic plushies and to take on an instance in the Jade Forest. Our group for that was:
- Earlthecat – Level 87 Human Warrior Tank
- Skronk – Level 86 Dwarf Priest Healing
- Bungholio – Level 86 Gnome Warlock DPS
- Alioto – Level 86 Night Elf Druid DPS
- Ula – Level 86 Gnome Mage DPS
And, as it turned out, four of us had already hit the first instance, the Temple of the Jade Serpent.
The previous week I was out, but the other four members of the group were on, so they decided to give the instance a try short one DPS. And with considerable effort, or so I understand, they figured out each boss and made it through. So the first order of business was to drag my ass through the instance, expecting that with an additional DPS and all the fights now a known quantity, things would go quickly.
And so they did.
More after the cut.
So we rode (or flew, for those with the flight path) out to the Temple of the Jade Serpent.
We actually started in on the trash without Earl, who was getting himself ready… something about getting rid of a house guest… so I went bear form for a couple of pulls. Then summoned Earl in via whatever convoluted summoning spell warlocks have now… Bung had to summon a thing, from which we had to summon Earl, but which took us a few cuts before we actually got him to us… I think it has been a while since we did a warlock summon… to start plowing through to the first boss.
In a way, it was a bit like LFR, in that I was chasing a group around that pretty much knew the routine while I was still trying to figure things out. We were together on voice coms, so if I had been totally confused I could have asked… we do maintain coms discipline pretty well during fights, reserving comments mostly for the necessary, but it isn’t a hard and fast rule… but I was content enough to follow along as we made our way through the temple.
In what seemed like no time at all, we had made our way around to the final boss, the Sha of Doubt.
As with the rest of the instance, the Sha of Doubt proved quite unable to withstand us. He was soon sent packing and I was caught up on achievements.
We took a group shot out on the terrace where we fought the last boss.
All of that took about 45 minutes out of our 3 hour play budget. It was time to find something else to do.
The natural thought was to find the next instance, which turned out to be Stormstout Brewery. Looking at it in the Dungeon Finder interface, it was in our level range, so we headed off to find it. Since we are still avoiding using Dungeon Finder for anything but information… such as what instances there are… finding it meant traveling overland. However, both Earl and I were pretty familiar with its location, so off we went.
Stormstout Brewery is in the Valley of the Four winds, which I once described as “The Shire of Pandaria” when recalling the various themes of the zones in the expansion. It is lush and green, the quest lines are charmingly prosaic and mostly deal with the immediate problems of the local farming population, and it is a zone you will likely spend a good deal of time traversing as the harvesting is easy and, once you complete the right quest line, you get a farm of your own next to Halfhill which you can expand as you gain faction with the locals.
There was a road for us to follow the whole way, and we stopped off to pick up flight points as we went. We stopped for a bit at Halfhill, then headed southwest down the road to Stormstout Brewery where we found the entrance and headed on in… after summoning Earl again, as he had to AFK back at Halfhill.
Here at least we would be on equal terms of ignorance.
When you enter and grab the couple of quests, one of the first things you notice is a counter than comes up at the bottom of your screen. This increments every time you take down a hozen monkey, who are the trash mobs early in the instance. They have broken in and begun to have a party, leaving many of them drunk on the floor… meaning they are not aggro unless you attack them.
The counter itself represents the trigger to bring out the first boss, Ook-Ook. We managed to wander into his room before we hit the magic number. Like a lot of boss events that have given us problems (and continues to, but we will get to that) you can get locked out of the fight if you trigger the boss but are not yet in the big room where the fight takes place.
Once triggered, the fight itself seemed fairly straightforward, though with normal mode dungeons being fairly easy these days, it might have just meant we were overpowered compared to what was required. At various points the monkeys on the sidelines would hurl barrels at us. If they hit you or rolled into you, they exploded and caused you damage. However, you could also jump on them and roll them into Ook-Ook for some extra damage on him. Beginning to tire a bit of the feral druid cat form (I may trade out my group character yet again when we hit 90. I’m thinking hunter this time, just for comedy pet error potential.) I took it upon myself to roll barrels into Ook-Ook early and often, hopefully helping to bring him down just a little faster.
At that point the Hozen floor show cranks up at the back of the room and the monkeys keep up this dance routine from that point forward. You can see the behind Ook-Ook in the screen shot.
We pushed ahead through the brewery, things going smoothly enough until we spotted the next boss, Hoptallus, through a doorway. He is one of the large… erm… bunny-rats that represent the vermin in the Valley of the Four Winds. He is out on an open platform on the ramp around the outside of the brewery. There is a large, and no doubt stolen, carrot blocking the way past him and something of a peanut gallery of his fellow vermin up above the platform.
Earl and I went through the doorway and close enough to Hoptallus to get aggro, at which point the door to the platform closed leaving the rest of the group on the other side and out of the fight. Earl and I gave it a go all the same, just to see what the fight was about. Sometimes that works, as I have a bit of healing to help him out and his own self-healing skills, but this time we didn’t have it in us.
Due to an unusual amount of simply not paying enough attention, getting Earl and I ress’d and the group all on the right side of the door managed to turn into a wipe of comedic proportions. After that, we all stayed together on the far side of the door until we were at the keyboard, buffed up, and otherwise ready to go. They we moved through.
As with the last fight, this one had a special mechanic that was suitable for the melee DPS to take on, since I was at the bottom of the DPS damage list. (Gaff claimed that feral druids are broken after he went from that to a fury warrior, so that is my excuse now!) For this fight, every so often a mass of vermin from the peanut gallery jumps down and joins the fight. As you kill a couple, they drop hammers you can pick up that gives you the ability to smash them en masse, so I busied myself taking care of that while the rest of the team burnt down the boss.
Once we were all together, the fight went past in a reasonably smooth fashion. Hoptallus was defeated, his carrot carried off, and we were free to advance to the final boss.
This turned out to be a challenge. Yan-Zhu the Uncasked, the last boss, is the product of a brewing experiment gone awry. The fight is full of events and mechanics to which the group must adapt, and I am not sure we ever quite got things straight. We finished him off on the first try, but it was not pretty. We lost Skronk part way through one event, but I managed a combat ress to keep things going. Then we got stuck in a loop where carbonation bubbles would show up and we would take a ton of damage, but were not sure what to do or how to mitigate the effects. We lost Bung and Ula, along with Skronk again, before we Earl and I managed to figure out that we had to get into the carbonation bubbles to fly around and avoid the worst effects of the event.
At least I think that is what we did. The fight was so full of things I am not really sure how we ended up defeating Yan-Zhu the Uncasked except through luck, perseverance, and probably more blind luck. Earl and I managed to stay alive until the boss went down and the achievement popped.
But we might have to go back and do that one again just to figure out everything that happened.
We got ourselves revived and took our victory shot.
And then walked back out of the instance. At several points there were broken casks spilling out streams of beer (or I hope that was beer) which we found would make your character drunk if you stood under them for too long. That made for an interesting ride back to Halfhill. I stood far too long in the stream and could barely stay on the road as we headed back.
Back at Halfhill we called it a night.
Now we have to decide where to head next. There are four more normal mode instances ahead of us, plus the usual selection of a few heroic versions of old instances. But we might take an evening and just crank out the quest lines around Halfhill, which will give everybody a farm and start our characters (in my case, a fourth character) on the road with reputation with The Tillers.