Category Archives: Instance Group

Tales of the Twilight Cadre instance group in Azeroth

First Peek into the Violet Hold

I’m doing a bit of catch up here, but that is fine.  The last time we left off with the instance group, we had done a run at Drak’Tharon Keep, finishing it off with just four of us… which meant we had to go back and do it again with the whole group.

The group lineup for the afternoon was as follows.

Today’s lineup

Amazingly, we somehow managed to forget almost everything we learned on the first run through Drak’Tharon Keep, so got to relearn a few things, like not standing in the summoned pool of black gunk or you’ll die.

I will contend that the first group of mobs after King Dredd is bugged.  The troll death knight doesn’t patrol like he is supposed to, so you get him and the four other mobs and the death knight heals them up and… we wiped.

Fergorin with the soul stone and the ress

But then after that he starts his patrol path and you can pull the group you started on, finish it off, then pull groups in reasonable numbers until you’ve made your way around to the final boss.

We managed to get through that fight without any major issues… I think it is just an easy fight despite the special mechanics… and were done and jumping down the platforms on the back side of the instance in about an hour.

Drak’Tharon done again

Which gave us some time to do something else.

Next on the list for dungeons was Violet Hold, which is back in Dalaran, so Ula spun up a portal and got us there.

This way to Dalaran

If we couldn’t remember our foibles in Drak’Tharon Keep even a week down the line, what were we going to remember about Violet Hold, an instance we hadn’t run since the summer of 2009?  That was a while ago.  (Also, looking back at that now,  I had forgotten that whole period of time when my client would crash whenever I was in Dalaran.)

The map of the city

Well, I did remember where to get the key, though I suspect that has come up more recently for some reason.  Anyway, the guy in the Violet Citadel across town will help you out.

You speak to him, get the quest, run over to the Violet Hold, talk to a guy outside there and you have the key.  Easy peasy.

After that though, we were a bit at sea… I felt like it was some sort of event, maybe a random boss order… but we weren’t going to look it up or anything.  We plunged right in.

And it was event, with waves… there was a counter at the top of the screen tracking them… and what seemed like a random boss every six ways.  We can do that.

We ran after the different portals that spawned one at a time, hitting the Portal Guardian and anything that came our way, keeping it together.  We made it through six waves and got a boss.  Moragg was coming for us.

Moragg unleashed

Moragg wasn’t a tough fight and when we brought him down he coughed up a nice set of shoulders for me, a pretty big upgrade compared to what I was wearing.

Shoulderplates of the Beholder

After that we carried on with the next wave… and then somebody was shouting something and everything despawned and the even was over.  We were kind of at a loss as to what happened, but Beanpole asked if those guys with the lasers attacking the door we came in through might have had something to do with it.

Oh yeah… up at the top of the screen, near the wave counter there was something about portal seal integrity, which was now at 0%.  A few more memories of the instance came into blurry focus.   I had seen a couple of mobs walk past us rather than attacking us.  Clearly that was bad.

So we stood there for a bit until we figured out how to start the whole thing over again.

Everybody escaped I guess… our bad

Once we got that sorted… the first NPC respawned eventually… we were back in business, this time with an eye out to keep any strays from getting to the door.

We got through the first six waves again and this time around… we got Moragg again.  Well, at least we knew him.  And he obliged by dropping the same set of plate shoulders.  Fergorin could have used them, but passed by mistake.  They went to Ula to disenchant.

We kept up with the next set of waves without too much effort, always on the look out for a sneak.  We managed to get ourselves to the next boss encounter, which was Ichoron.

Ichoron arrives… Moragg’s corpse is still hanging around…

Ichoron turned out to be a bit of a chore.  He has a mechanic where he disappears and a bunch of water elementals spawn, then he shows back up and if the elementals get to him they seemed to be healing him.  We were making headway, but it was slow going.  And that was when we found out that the waves were on a timer.

The next portal opened and some more mobs joined the fight while we were still struggling to burn Ichoron down.  Things were getting out of hand.

We managed to finally get Ichoron down, and I did a quick loot, which yielded yet another pair of plate shoulders, but these much better for Fergorin, our holy healing pally.

Those are some healing shoulders

There wasn’t any time to celebrate that drop however, as another wave had showed up and we started losing people as we got blindsided by more mobs.

We wiped, but then there was the question of whether or not to jump back in, which you could do, or wait for things to end and start over.

We managed to pick wrong, but the afternoon had worn on by that point.  Once things had reset once more, we picked up our stuff and went back out to repair.  It was time for me to go, leaving the Violet Hold as yet unconquered.  But at least we ended up with some sense of how the instance runs.  We’ll see if we remember it when we get back there again!

Drak’Tharon Keep on the Run

I am a little behind in posting, but it has been the holidays and all of that.  So this is from the week before Xmas when we got together to take a look at the next dungeon on our Northrend list, Drak’Tharon Keep.

Drak’Tharon Keep is out in Zul’Drak, one of the zones I have pretty much avoided so far in Wrath Classic.  However, there was one quest in Dragonblight that I did that sends you off to the first flight point in the zone at Light’s Breach, so I had that already.  And, as it turns out, that is also where Drak’Tharon Keep is.

Just into Zul’Drak

However, only I had the flight point, so when Beanpole showed up I met him over in Dragonblight and we rode over from there to Zul’Drak together.  He got the flight point and, together we would be able to summon the rest of the group from the meeting stone.

We were a bit early though, so we ran around doing this and that while we waited.  I was fishing a bit while he was off collecting soul stones.  He burned down enough mobs that there was a Heavy Frostweave Bandage tome in the loot for me.  One of the quirks of Wrath is you can’t just train that, you have to get it as a drop and only in certain zones and only when you’re first aid skill is high enough.

The rest of the crew logged on as we were doing our thing, so we headed down to the summoning stone to bring us all together.

It is just down stairs

We got ourselves together and sorted and walked on in to the instance.

Drak’Tharon is one of those middle-game instances that I didn’t really have much of a memory of doing.  We obviously didn’t have Prince Keleseth levels of issues with it.

Into the instance

Going inside didn’t really shake loose any more memories, though the map of the instance did at least bring something up.

Drak’Tharon Map

The raptor pens sounded like a place I had been, but we had a bit to get there.

We rolled on up to the first boss, Trollgore, and having no memories of the fight, I went to take a look at what WoW Head had to say  There I found a series of dire warnings about Trollgore, his abilities, and how the fight might go wrong.  And then we fought him and won without an issues as all.

Trollgore down

I just kept him on the steps and backed up a bit when he was in an ability wind up, and that seemed to do the trick.

From there it was around to the Temple of the Forgotten and Novos the Summoner.

Arriving at Novos

Novos was another boss I read up on who had a whole bunch of stuff going and who, in the end, went down without a lot of effort.  I don’t think we’re over leveled at this point, hitting the instance at level 75… I forgot to take a pic of the group and levels this time… and all the more so when the hunter DPS is mostly on auto attack.  But there we were.

Novos did, however, drop something nice for us.  Or for the casters at least.

Robes of Novos

Those robes went into a need off between Ula and Beanpole, with Ula getting a new set of threads.  They were nice enough though that Beanpole suggested he might want to re-run this far into the instance for another shot at them.

After Novos we made our way into the raptor part of the instance.

Welcome to Raptorville

And the raptor in chief is King Dred, the next boss, who set us to our first wipe of the day.

That did not go well

That wipe was my fault.  The notes on him suggest clearing out ALL of the raptors in the area as they will come join King Dred during his fight if left alive and two of the raptors are behind where King Dred wanders.  Seeing a gap, I thought I could successfully pull them without getting King Dred… and I was very wrong.

We ended up, on the second try, sneaking past King Dred to get the two hidden raptors, but then had to take the boss when he came back.  But this time around we managed to take him down.  It wasn’t as easy as the previous fights… we weren’t really ready and I ended up laying hands at one point, but that is what it is there for… and he went down.

King Dred, now King Dead

And, like Novos, he has a nice upgrade for the casters.  This time it came in the form of a staff.

Staff of the Great Reptile

That went to Beanpole, and there was an opinion expressed that we might have to come back.

At that point, however, Beanpole was called away and we were left without our Warlock.  No more health stones to heal us or soul stones to revive us.

But the four of us decided to carry on… and got in over our heads almost immediately.  The trash mobs on the way to the final boss mix together in uncomfortable combos if you don’t pull correctly, and I ended up pulling a group that got us to wipe.  We were wondering if we would make it to the final boss.

With some care we managed to move forward, keeping the pulls simple and separate, until we found ourselves at the base of the steps look up to the platform where the final boss lay.

Behold The Prophet Tharon’ja… up the steps

This was another fight with a lot of details, including a whole mid-fight event where your group is transformed into skeletons with a special set of skeleton attacks.  The whole thing seemed like it might be a bit sketch… but then we started the fight and rolled on through with just the four characters.  The skeleton phase of the fight went by very quickly.  I guess we all pressed the right buttons.

And with the death of The Prophet Tharon’ja the achievement popped.  We had finished the instance.

Drak’Tharon Keep Complete

We were a bit surprised to be done, but went and took that final victory shot.

Victory over The Prophet Tharon’ja

Then we took the way out, which involves jumping down the back of Tharon’ja’s tower into a stair step of drops with water landings until we were back in the aptly named Hall of Return.

We may have to go back because Beanpole didn’t get to finish the instance with us… and because of the drop.  We also didn’t do any pre-work to pick up any of the quests for the instance, so that might take some looking into as well.

Our run was about on par with our original run at the instance back in 2009.  We wiped on King Dred then as well.

That was also likely our last Wrath Classic instance run of the year.

We will return once we’re past the holidays.

Rushing Through Ahn’kahet: The Old Kingdom

After getting through Azjol Nerub we took a bit of a break to get everybody to level 74 and Dalaran, so spent some time running the group quests in Dragonblight and Borean Tundra to get the group boosted up.

We managed to get that setup and spent a bit going off to get a flight point off in the Snow Peaks before decided we had a bit of time and thinking maybe we should hit the next dungeon, just to peek in and see what the first boss was like.  Beanpole had a hard deadline which gave us enough time for that certainly.

The next instance on the list was Ahn’kahet: The Old Kingdom, which I would show on the map, but it is literally 50 paces from Azjol Nerub, so doesn’t have a marker on the map.

Azjol Nerub in Dragonblight… complete favoritism in this marking

We flew on down to Stars’ Rest and jumped in the hole where Azjol Nerub is and only got a bit lost before finding the summoning stone that both instances share so we would setup our little pre-run picnic.

The door is down that away…

Our party for the day was, indeed, all level 74.

The group before the Old Kingdom

Once we got ourselves sorted out, it was down the slope to the front door and in we went.

Behold, the old kingdom

The Old Kingdom is mostly undead things, which meant having two paladins along was a bit of a boon, since at least I, as tank, practically radiate holy damage.  There was a bit of a warm up with the trash, but that seemed to be enough to get us lined up for Elder Nadox, the first boss on the list.

Elder Nadox awaits

I had some vague recollection of this fight being a problem back in the day, so I went and looked it up.  However, the guide made it sound simple.  Clear the stuff around him, fight him, when he summons a helper, kill the helper, carry on until he is dead.

And that turned out to be the key.  We managed him on the first go.

That goal accomplished, we had more than enough time to carry on, so we ended up down a ramp and clearing out an open area all in furtherance of getting to Prince Taldaram.

He has a few tricks of his own, but we managed to plow through him as well.

Prince Taldaram getting worked by us

We got a bit lost after that as it wasn’t immediately obvious where to go.  There was a tunnel down to another location that had some quest markers, but there didn’t seem to be much there.

Map of the instance

There is the marker for another boss down there as well, but we doubled back and eventually found our way down to the Desecrated Altar and the next boss, Jedoga Shadowseeker, who we managed to summon inadvertently, which ended up with us wiping.  The second round however saw us managed to win, though it was a bit of a near run thing.

And the clock was running down on Beanpole, he was going to have to leave in about 20 minutes, so skirted past any mobs we could as we headed for the final boss, Herald Volazj.

Herald Volazj awaits

He isn’t a tough fight really, except for his special ability, when he casts insanity on the group and each of us ended up in our own little pocket instance and had to fight and defeat versions of the rest of the group.

That wasn’t too bad for me.  The tank can run over and put down a couple of clothies pretty fast, the finish off the other two.  But the clothies also had to deal with a version of me in their own instances.

Fortunately, once you finish of your own foes you join up with somebody else in the group who who is still working on it, so we ended up consolidating into a bigger and bigger group again until we were back facing Herald Volazj again.

You have to do that twice, but after the first run through it the routine held no terror, and we managed to pass through again and bring him down.  Instance complete.

The achievement

By this time Beanpole was at the hair edge of his time, but he stopped long enough to be in the victory shot at the end of the instance.

The group in victory with Herald Volazj‘s remains

And then we ran out the back door of the instance, found the quest giver out there to turn in the two quests we had been given, after which Ula opened a portal to Dalaran… she had been able to teleport to Dalaran since 72, but at 74 she can bring the whole group… and we called it a day.  It was a rushed run through, but I am not sure we missed anything really.

We did seem to get through it with less issues than we did back in 2009 when we ran it with the group.

That puts Drak’Theraon Keep next on our list.

Making Azjol Nerub Harder Than it Needs to Be

Having finished up The Nexus it was time to get along to the next instance, which was Azjol Nerub.  That got us out of the starter zones at last and into Dragonblight.  Not very far into Dragonblight.  You just have to ride in as far as Stars Rest, grab the flight point, and then the dungeon is just across the way.

Azjol Nerub in Dragonblight

Several of us had already been to Stars Rest as part of the attempt to connect up the flight paths between Howling Fjord and Borean Tundra.  The only one missing it was Beanpole, and he was able to ride out pretty quickly, so we soon had the group together.

The group together

From there it was just across the way to where Azjol Nerub is… though it is down in a pit and you have to wind your way around to find it through some caves without many distinguishing marks.  So we ended up getting lost and spread out in an area probably the size of basketball court.

We eventually stopped going in circles and found the instance and the quest giver hanging around just outside.  There were just two quests, one to collect some spider eggs and another to pick up an item from the final boss.

In we went and, honestly, the first boss is not that far down the path into the instance.  We had to clear a bit of trash, but we spotted Krik’thir the Gatewatcher pretty quickly.

Nobody is ever glad of our arrival

The eggs we needed to pick up… which included shared updates with the group, so only one person had to do it… were scattered about in that room and we quickly completed that.

Krik’thir is an event… I think that is the theme of this dungeon, that every boss is an event… and we weren’t quite ready for it, but once it started we managed to power on through.  One boss down.

The drop was the cobweb machete, which turned out to suit Bjorid as a pair with the fist weapon he took out of The Nexus.

Everything is a hunter weapon… except maces

That done, we rolled on down to the next area where Hadronox, a giant spider and also the second boss, hangs out.  Here is where we got hooked up with problems.

As with a couple of the past runs, Potshot had found a nice video guide to the instance.

And the main thrust of the description of the Hadronox fight was that you could avoid all the problems and pain of the fight with this one simple trick.  Somebody with a skill that lets you disengage and be safe should jump down from the ramp into the event… because, yes, another event… engage the first set of mobs, then disengage, and get safe.

When that happens the whole event will reset and for a short time there are no other mobs to worry about and you can run down, take out Hadronox, and be set.

For our group Bjorid had the right type of skill, feign death, so we set out to use that method.

The ramp to Hadronox

So we gave it a shot.  The first time we went too soon.  The second time we got separated and somebody died before we got to Hadronox.  Then we waited too long.  Once the event didn’t even reset.

That time we made it down to him, then wiped when all the trigger mobs came

We screwed around doing this enough times that we got into paper doll and had to run out to Stars Rest again to find a vendor that could do repairs. (Note to self: Make another repair bot.)

We also turned in the one quest we had finished, which actually got me a gear upgrade.

We got back into the instance that took a break, during which I went back to read up on how we managed this horrible fight back in 2009.  I was sure there was a tale to be found in that post.

But there wasn’t.  The fight barely got a mention in the post.  Potshot and I both looked the fight up on WoW Head and… the alleged “hard way” we were trying to avoid didn’t seem all that hard.  So we went down to try the fight the way Blizzard intended.  We took on the first sets of trigger mobs, then stood around until Hadronox came up to get us.

Hadronox cometh

If you’re patient and just watch for a while, slaying the occasional non-elite rando that runs your way, Hadronox does all the heavy lifting for you.  He stops all the other mobs from showing up, kills off the remainders, and sets himself up for you, practically on a silver platter.

He wasn’t a problem at all at that point.

Dead spider clean up

After Hadronox it was time to go jump in a hole.

The hole in question…

Ula had actually already been down the hole during one of the abortive short cut runs with Hadronox, having fallen through the hole in his web first and then down this hole after.  But now we needed jump through as a group.  I vaguely remembered something about this and went first… or second, really, Ula having already given it a try earlier… and landed in the pool of water several stories below.

It is actually quite a fall, with enough things along the and to deflect you the right way if you don’t have quite the right trajectory.

That got us to the final boss, Anub’arak.

Anub’arak revealed

We had to walk a ways to get to him, but there wasn’t much in the way, and his two guardians were dispatched quickly enough, leaving just him to deal with.

Again, another tickle in the back of my brain said “event” for this fight, and specifically that everybody needed to be on the on the platform with Anub’arak or they wouldn’t be in the fight.

So we got everybody up right on the edge of the platform, just a step from being on it, because we didn’t want to get too close or aggro him early.  Fergorin hit me with beacon, I said I was going, and ran into engage Anub’arak.  As expected, a barrier went up around the platform once the fight started.

Only Ula was on the wrong side.  Ooops.

So with a good fraction of our DPS out of the fight, it turned into a bit of a slog.  At various points in the fight he burrows under the platform and you have to fight some minions, but we managed to hold it together… mostly.  It turns out that, while the webs around the platform keep players from coming in, it does not stop Anub’arak‘s minions from going out and then caught Ula and killed her.

Then, as the fight was about to end we were hit with a poison just as Anub’arak died.  Achievement earned.

Achievement complete

And then the poison killed everybody in the group except me, and I only survived because I was getting healed by Fergorin.

Still, I survived and, as a pally, I could ress everybody.  We got everybody up again and took the final screen shot with Anub’arak‘s corpse.

The group at the end

I don’t think I commented on this back in the day, but this was an oddly short instance, though it had a lot of ground to cover.

Next on the list for us is Ahn’kahet: The Old Kingdom, which is next door to Azjol Nerub, but a couple levels higher when it comes to content.  We will probably take a week to go do some overland questing as a group to get a level or two before we return for that.

Back Filling Enchanting back in Outland

For neither the first time nor the last I am going to go on a bit about the design philosophy that one my infer from the mechanics of The Burning Crusade.

To sum it up, it felt very much like, “OMG how are we going to keep people playing for two years if we only have ten levels of content?  We have to slow them down!” which I am sure is an opinion that would not surprise anybody who was there back in the day, or more recently in WoW Classic.  Though, admittedly, the WoW Classic version went faster all the same because, as with all retro servers, the solved problem aspect makes it so.

So there was stuff left for us to do there.  While the Wrath pre-patch reduced some barriers and we got an xp boost to help us along, that did not really apply to crafting.  Ula was still stuck in the middle of the curve for enchanting for Outland and on her list of things to acquire were 8 large pristine shards, necessary for advancement.

The best way to obtain them was to disenchant blue drops from Outland dungeon bosses, so we got a group of four of us together, Ula, Wilhelm, Fergorin, and Bjorid to try and do a few dungeons.  It was a short group, but we were geared up for Northrend, and had even managed to do some bosses out there with a short group.  How hard could it be?

Landing in Shattrath, we headed over to Auchidoun, where there are a couple of dungeons.  We went into the Mana Tombs to give that a run.

Terokkar Forest

We got in a little bit over our heads at the first boss, Pandamonius because we were in a hurry and didn’t clear the room around him and, of course, every mob in the room comes to assist.

There he is… get him!

Okay, I was in a hurry and perhaps a bit over confident.  I mean, we beat him and all the mobs that came with him, but we did lose Fergorin and I did have to lay hands to keep it going at the end.

However, his drop, when disenchanted only yielded a small pristine shard.  And so did the drop from Tavarok, the next boss.

Didn’t we just see his brother in The Nexus?

And so on through the instance.  Our intel was wrong, or we misread it.  Perhaps only blue drops from bosses for the heroic version would get us the right shards.  But we finished up the instance, got the achievement, turned in the quests (the reward for one of which did give us the right shard) and went looking for the right target.

I figured the dungeons up in Netherstorm might be the right place to go.

Netherstorm

Out there at Tempest Keep there are the three floating instances.  We decided to give those a try to see how we did.  We had to fly up there, then summon Ula, who did not have the flight point, but the meeting stone only takes two to summon.  You do, however, need a flying mount to get into the instances.  I chose one at random.

We’ll try this one

It turned out to be the Mechanar, and so we fought a lot of mechanicals.

As before, we ran in headlong and occasionally got ourselves into a bit of trouble.  I managed to buy the farm as we fought with Mechano-Lord Capacitus, the first boss.

Capacitus strikes me down

However, we were far enough along in the fight to prevail in the end.

This instance was a little more challenging for us to navigate.  The Mana Tombs was very linear, but the Mechanar is not… and we were already used to dungeons having maps, something that came with Wrath, but which was not added retroactively to Outland until some later date I guess.

But, once we were all back up we lurched forward and I ran about, going this way and that, until we found our way to Nethermancer Sepethrea, where we once again had some issues.

Nethermancer Sepethrea wipes the group

She was a bit tougher than we figured, so read up on her while we ran back from the wipe.  The guide suggested tapping and kiting the fire elementals, who are slow but dangerous.  In order to do that we set out to clear some space, going up the hallway on the far side of the room, which triggered the event for the final boss, Pathaleon the Calculator.

We did not calculate on this

We managed to survive that onslaught, defeated him, and got the achievement for the instance with Nethermancer Sepethrea still hanging out waiting for us.

We went back to her, tried to get the kiting thing going with Bjorid, but ended up just getting the fire elementals to run around after the rest of us until Sepethrea went down.  Instance done, and all  the blue loot disenchanted into large pristine shards.

At that point I think we had five of the eight required, so it was time for another run.  This time we chose one of the other floating instances, ending up in the Botanica.

This actually went very smoothly.  We were OP enough to take care of multiple groups of trash… the Wrath paladin “AOE all the things!” tanking method working out very well for me… and we managed to make our way around the instance… still could have used a map… until we arrived at War Splinter, the final boss.

Arrival at Warp Splinter

That fight, like all the others in the instance, went our way without much drama and we were soon done and in possession of enough large pristine shards for Ula to… start working on the next set of ingredients to get enchanting up into the Wrath range.

I am just glad I managed to get myself through engineering in Outland and into the Wrath era without as much effort being required.

A Near Run Win in The Nexus

After last weeks test run we were back in Coldarra and ready to give The Nexus.  We failed on the last boss, Keristrasza, in that first run, but otherwise seemed to stumble through fairly well.  So we were keen to try again.

We had just one problem:  There were only four of us.  For characters, we always only have four people playing.

Beanpole wasn’t sure when he would be able to play on Sunday, so the rest of the group logged on and figured we would get things warmed up.  We went out and finished up one quest line that we had missed last week that led to a quest in the instance and, specifically, to the quest that requires the defeat of Keristrasza.

To defeat the dragon, first you must ride the dragon I guess…

Then, after finishing that up, we figured we could go into the instance and at least clear up some trash.  So we headed into the instance.  There are a couple of single mobs at the start, which we warmed up on.  Then we started the clockwise path around the instance, slaying a double, then the triple with the mini boss, then a few more groups until we were starting to get pretty far into things.

The Nexus Map

And we were doing okay.  We bypassed Grand Magus Telestra, because we barely finished her off last time as a group of five, but past here we ended up into the platforms.

More groups to fight

We managed to get past the first of those and on into the rift section of the instance.  We pushed along, having figured out a couple of things along the way, like the fact that the chaotic rifts don’t move, so you can pull the mobs fighting them to you and leave them for later.  Last time we were diving in and taking everybody at once.

We managed to work our way through to Anomalus, the second boss, up at 2 o’clock on the map.  We were not sure how well this would work out.  His fight is pretty simple.  Fight him, when he summons a rift, fight the rift and AOE the non-elites it spawns, then go back to fighting him.

We decided to go for it, if for no other reason than one of the quests we had required to stand on his platform, behind where he starts, and run a device.

For the quest Postponing the Inevitable

So we dove into it and, while the fight ran long… Beanpole is a big part of our DPS… we managed to hold on, close rifts, switch back to the boss, and stay alive without a lot of drama.  We eventually dropped him, then went and did the quest update.

Questie lets you know when everybody gets the update

From there it was back down the east side of the instance to Ormorok.  We had fought him before with a short group… specifically without Beanpole… and survived… mostly… so we felt pretty good about another run at him.

Eyeing him before we spring

This time around the fight went… better.  Pretty well, actually.  We all jumped out of his special attack and nobody died save the dog.  But, as with last time, we were denied the plate pieces that were two of the three possible drops, getting the fist weapon again.

But, every weapon is a hunter weapon, so this time Bjorid took it to see if the big agility bonus it offered would help… once he trained fist weapons.

After Ormorok we made our way back to the start of the instance and Beanpole still hadn’t arrived.  With no other plan, we went over to give Grand Magus Telestra a try.

This had been a tough fight for the full group last time, mostly due to the chaotic middle section where Telestra summons three images of herself, one casting fire spells, one frost spells, and one arcane.

And this time was no different… we had a plan to crowd control, but then it got pooched when the three images went in different directions and I managed to break CC at least twice.  The burden of pally tanking in WotLK is that I am all about the AOE attacks.  Still, we managed to hold on.  I panicked at one point and laid hands on myself when I probably didn’t need to.  But, in the end we managed to take her down.

We took a victory shot with her because we thought that might be the peak of our run.

Victory shot

She did grace us with a nice bit of loot that went to Fergorin.

Plate wrists for the pally healer

With Telestra down we really only had Keristrasza.

That seemed like a longshot, and Beanpole was nowhere in sight yet.  But we had no other plan for the day, so we headed over to poke the dragon.

Our first run was a bit of a shambles.  I forgot to jump, we were all over the place, and we were quickly defeated.

But we ran back from the graveyard, back to the instance, and got ourselves setup again.  We would give it one more try.

And the second run went pretty well.  We were all on our marks, everybody remembered to jump or move to avoid the build up of the frost DoT, and three of us had the Addon Decursive installed, which allowed a quick click to dispel any debuffs.  The whole thing was going very smoothly.

Until we ran out of mana.

I figured that might be the sticking point if we got our act together, that we wouldn’t have the damage to finish the dragon off.  And so as the mana ran out we went down for another wipe.

Another wipe in The Nexus

We were so close, with Keristrasza down to 20% before we ran out of mana and wiped.  We were wondering if there was anything else we could throw into the mix to get us over the hump when the Discord channel chimed with the arrival of a new person; Beanpole had finally made it.

He wanted to know if he was too late and I practically shouted that he was just in time.

So he got logged in and Fergorin and I ran out to the summoning stone to bring him over to the instance.  Then we had to run around and slay some mobs because he was out of soul shards, the fuel that keeps a warlock going.

Once that was done we set up before Keristrasza, got ready, and… wiped very quickly.

We were clearly not quite ready.  Beanpole needed a warm up and perhaps took the “jump” think too seriously and inadvertently cancelled some of his spell casting.

So we got ready once more.

Ready for the final go

And we got in there and… it went pretty smoothly.  With Beanpole on his game and delivering damage like only a warlock can, we were able to power through and bring down the dragon.  There was a bit of a panic as Keristrasza gets amped up at low HP, but we had enough healing to keep me going.  Dragon down, dungeon complete.

Been there, got the achievement

Keristrasza even gave us a nice loot drop.

The dragon pays out

Those went to Beanpole as a serious upgrade over his current shoes.

We took a picture with Keristrasza to mark our victory.

The team with Keristrasza

And then we realized we still had to get Beanpole a couple of quest updates.  We ran back to where Anomolous was, taking the straight route to 12 o’clock to avoid the respawns that were appearing along our initial route through the dungeon.  We managed to stay ahead, and got to the spot on the platform where Beanpole could get his quest update.

Then we skirted along the eastern side of the instance to one of the mobs we had bypassed.  Beanpole needed one more drop to finish up another quest.

Then it was out and we were done.  Beanpole did miss out on one of the quests, but otherwise we were done with The Nexus.

Coldarra and a Peek into The Nexus

The next dungeon on the list for us was The Nexus, which is over in the Coldarra section of Borean Tundra.  So we left Howling Fjord and headed west.

Coldarra

Though, it was not immediately obvious that The Nexus was our next instance destination.  When we finished Utgarde Keep a looked at the dungeons by level chart over at WoW Head and the second one on the list was actually Azjol-Nerub.

The list as displayed

So I was wondering how deep we might need to go into the Dragonblight zone to pick up quests for that dungeon when Potshot pointed out that the sort order when it came to levels was suspect.

Why isn’t The Nexus, which says levels 71-73, in the second spot?  I do not know, but we adjusted our plans accordingly.

We had made it to Coldarra during our initial push into Borean Tundra when Wrath Classic went live, but then had swapped to Howling Fjord in order to line up for Utgarde Keep.  So the flight point was available to us, but none of the quests in that area had been done.

Beanpole and I were on early and decided to scout some of the quests to see what we needed to do to get quests lined up for The Nexus.  There were a few we cranked out early because they were not shared updates.  Then the rest of the crew showed up and we ran around Coldarra counter clockwise two more times to wrap up quests and get everybody on the same page.

The group for The Nexus

And then it was down into the center of the zone to scout out The Nexus.

Unlike our travels outside the instance, The Nexus runs clockwise in a circle and starts at the six o’clock mark.  There is a mini-boss almost immediately, and a book to pick up for one of the quests we had.

Along the first path

They and most of the mobs along that way were just a warm up for the Grand Magus Telestra who lives between the Halls of Stasis and the Librarium.

Making our way to the first real boss

Our first encounter with Grand Magus Telestra did not go well.  We had cleared all the nearby mobs and, as we got ourselves together for a plan, there was a pet mis-fire and Bjorid’s wolf ran out to the attack and managed to get within aggro radius before he could be called back, so it was on.

We lost, but we got further than we might have I suppose, given the sudden nature of the assault.  So we lined up again and actually made a plan.

Rushing her clearly isn’t enough

The plan did not go… well… as planned.  We had some ideas about using crowd control at the mid-fight venture where she divides into three, a fire, frost, and arcane version of herself, but that fell through.  However, we still managed to power through the whole thing and bring her down.  One boss done.

Sure, call it “luck”

From there it was a zig-zag clockwise though to the platforms and the next boss, Anomalus, at about 2 o’clock on the map.

Always a crowd on the platforms

There was something in the back of my head about an easy way to bypass some of the trash mobs by jumping off a platform at the right point, but I couldn’t recall and we were able to fight our way through the various groups without loss.  A little more time taken, a little more xp earned I suppose.

The fight with Anomalus went surprisingly well.

Anomalus standing tall

I remember that fight being a problem back in the day, but we got it right on the first try, which is a bit of a bonus for us.  Beat on him, beat on the chaotic rifts when he summons them, then go back to beating on him.  Piece of cake.

From there it was down into The Singing Grove and the back half of the lap around The Nexus.  And it was here that we had some problems.

Nothing to do with the game really.  Beanpole got called away from the computer for a while and went on follow.  Standing around with nothing else to do, we started clearing some groups with Beanpole in tow.  That worked until he got knocked off follow while we were fighting some mobs and didn’t notice until he died.

Beanpole left behind

The little mobs around there don’t die until the local boss dies, they just curl up then pop back up after a bit, so Beanpole on his own got mobbed by non-elite mobs.  And he wasn’t even around to take a ress.

With nothing else to do while we waited, we managed to clear our way to the next boss, Ormorok the Tree-Shaper and decided to try him as a group of four… or a group of 3.5 since Fergorin and Bjorid were both being run by Potshot.

It seemed like a good idea at the time.  During the fight though, it was more of a near run thing.

This is getting down to the wire

We managed to pull it off though, which seemed more than a bit unlikely for us.

Ormorok down, but we paid a price

The one real pisser about this fight was that Ormorok was the one boss that had two plate items that could drop, shoulders that would have been a big upgrade for me or boots that would have been a big upgrade for Fergorin, and instead we got the damn fist weapon as a drop.

Of course, it was just after that fight that Beanpole came back.  Finding himself dead and alone, he released and ran back to the instance before we could ress him.  That meant fighting our way to him through the few remaining mobs… which also meant he missed a drop he needed for one of the dungeon quests.  Something else on the list.

Meeting up with Beanpole back at the start of the instance, we cleared out the mobs around the final boss, Keristrasza.

Ready to be awakened

Back when we first did The Nexus back 2009 I wrote something about dragons and dragon fights being special.  That was about a thousand dragon fights ago, and dragons are no longer all that special.  Blizzard has gone so far as to make a whole expansion… launching later this month… based entirely on dragons where you ride dragons, fight dragons, play as dragons… basically all dragons all the time.

So yeah, dragon fight… everybody stands off to the side avoiding the breath cone coming out of the mouth and the area effect sweet of the tail while the tank holds the beast in place.   I did remember, in advance of the fight, that there was some special effect that would build up unless you moved or jumped every few seconds… something I mentioned before the fight then immediately forgot once the fight started, which meant we wiped.

That did not go as planned

Fortunately the graveyard is just a quick jaunt from the instance, so we ran back to do it again…. and failed.

And tried again, and nearly made it, but still wiped.

Close but not quite enough

After a few runs of getting close it was getting down to the end of our time.  We didn’t have quite enough oomph to carry it off, so we will have to return to The Nexus.

But we have to return anyway to get that last quest update for Beanpole… and to finish another quest we totally forgot about while we were in the dungeon… and there is actually another quest we didn’t pick up.

In the mean time Potshot went and researched the fight and has some ideas for getting it right next time.

Returning for Ingvar’s Head

We were back for our third run at Utgarde Keep, and I wasn’t sure we were even going to make it all the way through. It was Sunday afternoon and we hadn’t really setup a time so while I got online and was playing from about 2pm forward, we didn’t get the whole group together and rolling until almost 4pm.

The place where we were headed once again

We generally have dinner by about 6pm at our house and, while time is an illusion and dinner time doubly so, that doesn’t mean that the food is going to stay warm if we are still in a dungeon trying to figure out a boss fight.  So I was a bit motivated to get moving forward.  Potshot and I were the first to the dungeon so went over to the summoning stone to pull the rest of the group in.

Once we figured out how to work the summoning stone

Once the whole group was there we distributed treats and health stones and buffs and got straight to business.  Our group for the run was as follows.

Almost all level 71

Being a tank in a hurry, I led the group through, bypassing any mobs we didn’t absolutely have to take on.  So we left behind that last group in the Furnace of Hate and about half the mobs in the Dragon Flayer Pens and were soon enough in the room with Prince Keleseth once more.

Having defeated him on the first go last time, we were going to find out whether it was skill or luck (or maybe just knowledge) that got us through.

We either had the latter or experienced the former again, because we brought Keleseth down without loss on the first try once more.

Keleseth sleeping on the job again

He was good enough to drop the Reinforced Velvet Helm again, so Beanpole got it this time.

Reinforced Velvet Helm

Then we were off and moving once more, clearing our way up to the second boss set, Skarvald and Dalronn.  We took a few tries to take them last time around but, as with Keleseth, we thought we had the answer to this fight… and it was pretty much the same answered as the once for Keleseth; stick close and burn them down.

Most of us in close with the boss pair

They moved around a bit and Fergorin managed to get just out of melee range, which was enough to earn him a thumping and a knock down from Skarvald, but we managed to hold it together.  We got Skarvald down to 50%, then changed to Dalronn and, with and the AOE going off, we managed to drop them both again within a heartbeart of each other.

They were less rewarding on the loot, offering up a fist weapon.  That went to Ula, our enchanter, to disenchant later on.

Those two down it was time to press on.  We were moving pretty well through the instance.  It was up the stairs and around to the top of the instance and were soon approaching Ingvar once more.

On our way again

We had made good time, though we still had to defeat him, something we failed to do in three tries last time around.

The failure on my part last time was not seeing when his big cone of damage attack was coming so I could step out of the way.  My solution was to get an AddOn to move the casting bars of our target down to a location above my hotbars so I could watch both cool downs and incoming attacks.

It is one thing to get the addon, another to test it our and see how it works.  We ran through the video I linked last week in order to get a refresh on how the fight progresses, and then went in to give it a shot.

The first round went okay, we managed to bring him down though I used my healthstone just at the end, when I didn’t really have to.  I panicked a bit and was now down a heal when I could have just waited and bandaged myself during the interval before the arrival of undead Ingvar.

That was the test.  We had made it through the first half of the fight every time.  The second half was the trick.

As it kicked off I kept my eye on the cast bars and called out each special attack as Ingvar wound them up, jumping out of the way of both the ones I needed to and the occasional one I didn’t.  Better safe than sorry I suppose.

Things seemed to go very well and when he was at about 35% I started to wonder how the wheels were going to come off, how we were going end up losing the fight.

And then he was down and the achievement popped up and we were done, we had slain Ingvar on the first run as well.

Ingvar down

We had made it through the instance with only one death.  Bjorid managed to get offed in a fight earlier in the instance that was an accident.  So we had won and went to loot the boss.

Around the corpse

He naturally had a head for all of us to loot for the dungeon quest.  Ingvar of the five heads, as the joke goes.

Grabbing quest items off of the corpse

The loot drop, however, was less useful.  It was Int/Sta mail, shaman gear.  Something else for Ula to disenchant.

We lined up to take a final victory shot with Ingvar.

Ingvar defeated

Then it was down the shaft back up the way for the easy way out of the instance, dropping down into a pool of water by where we came in.

It smells like wet dog in here

We went back to Valgarde and turned in the quest.

After that we had a bit of time still… my wife was not yet back with take out in tow, so we went on a run to pick up some flight points.  Not all of us had the nearby locations, so we ran over to Westguard Keep to grab that flight point, then Kamagua for the next.  From Kamagua we took the turtle boat to Moa’ki harbor at the southern end of Dragonblight.

Taking the Turtle boat

The flight point at Moa’ki harbor gave us the connection so we could now fly from Borean Tundra to Howling Fjord if we wanted.

The southern flight points

It is kind of a long flight, but it is lower effort than going back to IF or SW then taking the flight between them in order to take the boat to the other side of Northrend.

Of course, what we really need to do is get to 74 and make our way to Dalaran, which would make a lot of our travel needs much simpler.  And it would give us access to a bank.  But we’ll get to that soon enough.

Facing Prince Keleseth for Real This Time

Last time around was just a test run, a warm up, a chance to try out the group dynamics of running instances with our current 4+1 group.  At least that is my story, and you won’t get me to budge from it.

The scene of the… well, it wasn’t a crime, was it?

This time we were going to be ready to face the challenge.  We had the usual group out.

The group… almost all in zone

We summoned Ula, got ourselves provisioned, and headed on into Utgarde Keep once again.

On the doorstep once more

Inside we started off pretty well.  We had worked out the kinks well enough last time… as well as adding a bit more power to our lineup by finding so overlooked spells and training up some others to the current tier.. so were able to work our way through the Furnace of Hate and the the Dragon Flayer Pens without any losses.

Utgarde Keep lower map

We even got a nice random drop that was good for both mages and warlocks.  Beanpole won the roll on it.

Robe of Mendacity

It is always nice to get an upgrade along the way.

Soon enough we were there in the room with Prince Keleseth again.  We got a lucky spawn, there was only one caster in the group of four you have to pull to get to Keleseth.  We knocked them down, leaving just our nemesis before us.

Potshot had found us a nice and surprisingly concise video about Utgarde Keep to help us along with a plan.

The recommendation was to take the fight to Keleseth, bunch up around him inside of AOE range to both take care of his skeletons and to be able to apply some damage to the inevitable ice block issues.  That seemed simple enough, so we went with it.

Fighting Keleseth… is everybody in AOE range?

I couldn’t pay much attention to who stayed in range, but I can see Ula out on the periphery in that screen shot.  I suppose it didn’t matter, and she can blink out of the ice blocks anyway.

Anyway, we carried on with the plan and, suddenly, Keleseth was down.

He’s finished

We had done it, on the first try, without any losses or even much drama.  So we formed up to take a victory shot with the late Prince to celebrate our victory.

Victory over Prince Keleseth

The prince dropped the reinforced velvet as loot.

Reinforced Velvet Helm

The caster roll-off between Ula and Beanpole went to Ula this time, who can be seen wearing the helm in the victory shot.

That done quickly, we carried on, moving through the trash mobs to the next boss… or pair of bosses… Skarvald the Constructor and Dalronn the Controller.

Dalronn and Skarvald… or Skarvald and Dalronn… I can’t recall

They sit at the base of the stairway to the upper reaches of Utgarde Keep.

As a fight the trick with these two is that if you kill one first, they come back as a ghost and are not subject to the rules of aggro, so are prone to run amok amongst your DPS.  So the idea is to try and whittle one down, then swap to the other in the hopes of killing them as close together as possible.  That avoids entanglements.

Our first attempt was not a success.

There I am, dead again

Neither was our second, as things got out of hand.  We killed one way to early and Skarvald has a random charge that stuns the DPS and hits them for a lot, which unbalanced us.

So we went back to the video I posted above and got the bit of the formula to help us through the fight, which was remarkably similar to the Keleseth advice: stick close.  We also decided to change targets sooner, as changing at 20% and 30% ended up being too soon.

We got in close for the third run.

Hugging in close to the pair

Somehow we managed to do the fight just right, with both bosses falling within a breath of each other.

Dalronn and Skalvard are Dead

Unfortunately, their drop was a leather item, not armor that any of us wear and, being bind on pick up, not even something we could share with alts.

From there it was up the stairs to the second story of Utgarde Keep.

The second part of the dungeon map

Upstairs puts you outside in the instance, which makes you feel like you are out in the zone, an effect that works well for me.

Out in the open

We fought our way through the last few mobs between us and the final boss, Ingvar the Plunderer.

Ingvar is out there somewhere

We went back to the video again and tried to digest what we needed to do.  For my part the job was to hold aggro and to step the hell out of the way when he did his smash attack during the first part of the fight, or his dark smash attack during the second part.

And I screwed that up.

I did okay during the first half of the fight, where you slay Ingvar, but during the second half, when he is revived and you face an undead version of him, I missed a dark smash and took it full in the face.  That put us behind in healing and I went down, after which Ingvar ran around and knocked everybody else down.

That’s fine, first try and mistakes are made.  But on the second fight I managed to do the same thing again.  And it was a heartbreaker because we were so very close to bringing him down.

It is on Fergorin to get that last 2% I guess…

Still, we were so close it seemed doable.  And then after the second wipe Fergorin accidentally released from death rather than using the soul stone that would revive him on the spot.  That meant we all had to release and run back.  But when we re-entered the dungeon we found that the mobs had begun respawning.

Not in the mood to fight our way through to Ingvar… dinner was about ready at my end… we called it a day and took our win over Keleseth.

But, afterwards, I was bugged by the fact that I missed Ingvar’s attack warm ups.  Then, playing it through in my head, I realized I was trying to split my time watching my cool-downs on the action bar at the bottom of my screen as well as watching for Ingvar’s casting bar at the top of my screen.

Did I mention I have a 34″ monitor on my desk now?  I think I did.  That is big enough that my peripheral vision can’t catch things at the top of my monitor when I am focused on the bottom of it.

So I went and found an addon that lets you resize and move casting bars.  There were a couple of options, but I went with one called CastBarsEZ which did what I wanted.

We will see if that helps me out the next time around.

Just a Peek into Utgarde Keep

As I said, we were already there, already on the threshold of the first dungeon in Northrend, already inside the tower that dominates the head of Howling Fjord.

It does stand out

And, as I also noted, we had the group together, had the quests, and were all level 70.

The group of the day

It seemed like it might be time for a test run, time to try out some real mobs in an instance, or at least do something that wasn’t going to run Potshot ragged running two characters.  The dual boxing mantra had been “it will be easier in an instance” up to this point.  So in we went.

Inside Utgarde Keep

There were two elite mobs up at the top of those steps, so we were going to have to actually work as a group and cover our specific roles… like I was going to have to actually be a tank.

I had read the section on tanking as a protection pally over at Icy Veins, had use the talent spec they recommended, and was ready to use the rotation they recommended, which largely seemed to mean AOE’ing everything and hope that my mana stayed topped up via spiritual attunement and the fact that Fergorin was going to be dropping a lot of heals on me.

We were not especially geared up.  We just had the first round of green quest gear from the starting zones and a couple of glyphs on people.  Otherwise, we were pretty raw on the preparation front.

But, we managed to kill those first two guys, and the guys behind them and so on until we got out to the furnace of hate where, rather than groups of one or two mobs, we had to take on three.

Viewing the Furnace of Hate

We tried to sheep one guy, but he somehow broke that very quickly, I ended up with three mobs on me, took lots of damage, ran Fergorin out of mana, then died, leading to a scramble for the nearby exit.  Not a full wipe, but a bad fight.

That led to some re-tooling as we realized that we did not have all our buffs up and I had left one Holy Shield out of my rotation.  We got ourselves back together and were successful on the next try, and subsequent groups as we made our way around the furnace to the dragon pens.

It was also about them I realized that Wrath dungeons come with maps.

Utgarde Keep lower map

The dragons in the pens are double size elites, but we managed to take on the first couple without issue.

In the dragon pens

There was a bit of a hiccup mid-way through, but we pressed on and managed to clear that room.

After that we pressed on, clearing the hallway and heading up the stairs until we made to the Reaver’s Hall, the location of the first boss.

Reaver’s Hall and no Asher in sight

On the far side of the room is Prince Keleseth, the first boss of Utgarde Keep and something of our nemesis back in the day.

A funny thing is that my memory of the situation does not match up with the reality of the old posts of our original runs in Wrath.  In the version my memory tells, we failed at Prince Keleseth over and over until we finally had a “git gud” moment and went and read whatever the elite raiding forum was back in the day… the name escapes me now… elitist jerks maybe?

Anyway, we read up, figured things out, came back and wiped the floor with Keleseth and carried on before us.

In reality, we actually managed to bring down Keleseth before we got ourselves straightened out, despite putting up some pretty low DPS numbers.

You call this damage?

It was, in fact, Ingvar the Plunderer that was our nemesis.  We couldn’t get through both rounds of his fight until we had gotten ourselves better.  We even, at one point when Bung was away, did Keleseth as a group of four.

I got in some heat with the group for posting our damage meter output, but that got us feedback that we were very low in our damage output.  That was what got us to look up how to be better.

Anyway, all of that is in the depths of the blog under the Utgarde Keep tag if you click it and scroll down.

Which, of course, doesn’t mean that we were at all ready to face Keleseth with our group of 4+1.  But we were willing to give it a try.

First we had to clear the four mobs that stand before Keleseth, which took us two tries.  We wiped on the first run because we picked the casters as the first targets.  However, they put up damage shields and hang on for a long time, letting the other mobs beat us into a pulp.

The second time around it was casters first and we finished them off.  Then it was time for Keleseth… and trying to remember how the fight goes.  We remembered  the ice block thing, where a random member of the group gets hit by an ice block that puts 400 DPS on the victim until it wears out or until the party burns it down.

But the adds were kind of up in the air.  I knew we got some group that would show up, maybe more than once.  As for where to fight Keleseth, I got it in my head that we should pull him back to the stairs at the head of the room.  I don’t know why.  In hindsight that wasn’t a great idea, just giving him some free shots on me until I line of sighted him to us.

So the first round was a wipe.  Things went badly.  Mistakes were made,

Dead on the stairs

We adjusted the plan, wiped again.  At that point, Beanpole went paper doll on his equipment, which I guess he hadn’t repaired recently.  However, it turned out that I had a field repair bot in my inventory.  So I deployed that and got us all repaired as well as selling some excess items in our bags.

Getting our repairs done

Going through my bag I realized that I had potions and things, stuff that might actually help in a fight.

However, that did not guarantee success.  We gave Keleseth a couple more tries, but could not quite pull it off.

I’ve died here before

I fumbled my own healing a couple of times.  When you die and haven’t used a health potion or your health stone, you have screwed up as a tank.  We got close however.

If only the tank hadn’t died in the first 15 seconds…

It feels like we have all the pieces for a successful run.  We… and especially me… need to get on top of our execution.  But unlike the old days, we have plenty of DPS to hand.  Tanking I was putting out close to 700 DPS, while Beanpole was past 1,100 and Ula past 1,300.

One minor hiccup is Ula being a frost mage, so her DPS won’t hurt Keleseth’s ice block routine.

Yeah, for you… next time!

Our hunter DPS, Fergorin’s second account, which just stands back and shoots, did add to our damage… and seemed to have much higher survivability than some of us.  You can see his pet on Keleseth while there I am, dead on the ground again.

I had to call it for dinner or we might have tried a few more times.  But it was just a test run for the group.

Next time around we’ll position ourselves better.  Fergorin found a nice video on the instance and I read some further items that suggest taking the fight to Keleseth and keeping the group tight so that the skeletons that he summons… and which he revives throughout the fight… don’t get out of control and so that AOE can be used to help with the ice block problem.