After our peek into the Armory in Scarlet Monastery the previous week we were feeling a bit under-level to consider trying to finish off the instance. The gut feeling was that we probably should be level 36 as a group of four to have a hope of getting through the Armory to finish off Herod and the Scarlet Monastery floor show.
We were all in and around level 34 when we wrapped up that run, so there was between a level and two levels of extracurricular activity that had to happen to get us back there.
The question was where to go?
Having crossed over the level 30 threshold, we are now in the timeline of no fixed zone for leveling. If you’re working through solo from 30 forward you optimally end up bouncing between a few zones like Thousand Needles, Hinterlands, and Desolace.
I do not know if it was a deliberate design choice, but in these zones you find that the levels of quests increment, often jumping a level or two with each step in chain, so that you can quickly find yourself bumping up against red quests and mobs where an accidental add means death.
But as a group that might be a more manageable proposition. So in looking for a destination for us I wanted a zone that had a bunch of quests, the more the better, that we as a group could burn through.
Having run through pieces of those zones solo with my hunter, Stranglethorn Vale seemed like the obvious choice. It has the series of quests from the rebel camp at the north as well as the first “slaughter the local fauna” Hemet Nesingwary quest hub, something that has become a tradition in WoW expansions since.
And the quests, for the most part, seemed about ideal. For a group, killing a set number of mobs, as Hemet would ask, is about ideal. Likewise, the rebel camp sends you off on a series of quests that almost require a group. Both the Kurzen camp and the troll areas are teeming with mobs, packed in tightly and with sprightly respawn rates. And the last quest in the Kurzen quest chain sends you after a level 40 elite.
Also in its favor is that most of the early quests are pretty well contained to the northern bit of the zone around the rebel camp and Hemet Nesingwary’s setup.
That compares favorably with, say, Desolace. I’ll get to Desolace later.
So that was our plan for the weekend, to dive into Stranglethorn Vale.
It was just a matter of getting people on together. And getting there. STV has a flight point, but it is down at the southern tip, at Booty Bay. While I appreciate the sparse flight point aesthetic of early WoW, where every zone gets one flight point whether they need it or not, I have to admit that the later addition of the flight point to the rebel camp in STV was sorely missed more than a few times over the weekend. Even a mailbox would have been appreciated.
Instead you have to hoof it from Darkshire into STV.
I set Viniki up down there ahead of time. Oddly, of my alts in their 30s, I think he was the only one of the bunch that had not started on any of the quests there. I camped him with Hemet so he would be ready when the time came.
Saturday evening Skronk, Ula, and I were online, but Moronae wasn’t expected. Skronk had his hunter out and was just starting in on the Kurzen quest line. I grabbed my pally to join him, while Ula came along. She was the furthest behind in experience, needing a little more than two levels to get to 36. Skonk and my warrior, Viniki, were much closer to the group goal so we kept to our alts.
I was kind of glad to get my pally out. While he had done some of the Nesingwary stuff, he was still early on in the rebel camp stuff.
Specifically, he was a bit stuck on the quest Bad Medicine. That requires seven drops, which are, of course, rather sparse. In addition, the easiest source of the drops, the medicine men in the Kurzen camp tend to be both heavily hunted and a bit of a pain to solo with a pally. They self-heal at a cycle faster than my interrupt, so each fight becomes a protracted event.
While we couldn’t do much about the competing groups… STV on a Saturday night had people running all over… we were able to press on into the caves where the headhunters also drop the jungle remedy potion needed to complete the quest. So we were able to press on and finish that up.
Bad Medicine unlocks a couple of quests, including the first foray into the trolls. That run was… interesting. I had done it with my hunter a couple weeks back, so could guide everybody to the four tablets on which you need to click. The challenge is more that the population density in the troll areas is pretty high. It is easy to get way too many adds. Even with other players around, getting through can be a challenge as the respawn rate is also very quick. We had a duo wipe just ahead of us… horde, so we could only mourn… while we were fighting a group that had just respawned after their passing.
But running the troll circle also brought us through areas for three of the Nesingwary quests, so we picked up various flavors of tigers, panthers, and raptors before finally circling back to turn in quests.
It is especially easy to see the quest levels ramp up with those kill quests. The tigers are the easier of the trio as they start doable at 28 or so, with the final task of slaying Sin’Dall, a level 37 non-elite being soloable at 35 without much fear.
At the other end are the raptors, which are level 40-41 when you are only on the third round. We managed that at the end of the night, with a group that was 5-7 levels shy of the mobs. A group of three can handle that, but the level difference means that the raptors resist spells regularly, and an add can be fatal. We did have one death, though that was mostly because I had to remember that paladin’s can heal. Fortunately they can also ress.
We also sorted out pages from the Green Hills of Stranglethorn quest. I had been to STV already with my pally and, after collecting most of the pages, I bought my way through the quest at the auction house. So I was able to hand over needed pages for Ula and Skronk, though in the end they too used the auction house to collect the last page or two. I think I did this the hard way back in 2006.
The next afternoon was to bring Moronae on the scene. However, some of us were early and so Skronk and I worked with a different set of alts, his pally and my restoration druid, while we waited for Moronae to show. We dropped our alts when he logged in and started out with out mains.
Like Saturday evening, Sunday afternoon saw other groups hunting out in the Kurzen camp.
Having learned our lesson the previous night, we passed through the camp and into the caves and back down to where Sgt. Malthus lives to fight the mobs there that also drop the needed jungle remedy. Needing seven a piece and with low a drop rate, we were down there for a while.
Aside from the occasional lost player, we had the place to ourselves for a while. The spawn rate was rapid enough to keep us mostly engaged, while adding in the occasional surprise.
It took us a few cycles of spawns, but we eventually came up with seven jungle remedy potions for the three of us that needed them. And then, on the way out, jungle remedy potions pretty much dropped off of every possible mob. There were enough between us that I collected seven and set them aside to mail to one of my alts just to get past that stage of the quest.
What wasn’t dropping were pages for the Green Hills of Stranglethorn. Unlike the night before, when we were getting quite a few such drops, this time around we all came out with one page. And that was all I would get for the night. Some times it rains those pages and overflows your inventory… usually when you’re on with you hunter… and some times they just don’t drop.
We went back to the rebel camp to turn in quests and pick up the next round. Ula took a break while Skronk, Moronae, and Vinki went to go do the troll tablets run, which has the previously mentioned benefit of swinging through areas for raptors, panthers, and tigers.
We circled back from that to Nesingwary then to the rebel camp, where we happened to catch Private Thorsen doing his patrol, which allows you to get another quest chain going. Unfortunately, Ula wasn’t back yet so missed out on grabbing that.
After a bit of a break we made out final run of the evening at the Kurzen camp. We made a quick venture to the camp to knock out one last preliminary quest, then picked up the final goal. We were after Colonel Kurzen himself.
I remembered this vaguely enough to know that we had to go all the way to the end of the cave to find him. We found a solo druid who was trying to go that way as well and asked if he could join, so Skronk invited him. We had the room.
And then we were into the caves and clearing our way to Colonel Kurzen. That wasn’t particularly tough as the mobs are not elite, but there are a lot of them and you have to plow through row after row of them to advance and even non-elites can pile on if you pull too many.
We had made it through most of the cave and were just down the path from Colonel Kurzen himself, literally right outside his den at the end of everything, when a level 44 night elf hunter ran right past us as we were mid-fight and into Kurzen’s room.
I wasn’t going to let that stand. I abandoned the mob I was finishing and ran into the room after him and tagged Colonel Kurzen with my gun. It was on.
We were, of course, still involved with a couple mobs and Kurzen had a couple more with him, while the colonel himself is an elite with his own special routine. It was not a guaranteed slam dunk at that point, and the hunter was content to let us work this out on our own.
Getting thing under control was… a challenge. Things looked bad when Skronk went down before I could pull mobs off of him. But we had two druids in the group, so there was a combat ress to be had. Our guest druid got his off, putting Skronk back in the fight as we eventually got a handle on everything. Kruzen went down, we looted his head, and that was that.
We had to fight some of the way back out of the cave, the respawn rate being what it was, along with stopping to get the the contents of the locked box that was on the quest chain that Private Thorsen set us on. But from there it was back to the rebel camp to turn things in.
At that point Ula hit level 36, the first in the main group to do so. Viniki was very close to 36, and managed to get there with a few kills later on. Skronk likewise managed to get to 36 shortly thereafter. And Moronae is very close to 36 and will likely get there soon enough; if not before out next run, then probably not too many mobs into it.
So we look to be set up to make another run at the armory in Scarlet Monastery.