Category Archives: Instance Group

Tales of the Twilight Cadre instance group in Azeroth

A Princess of Maraudon

Last time around we jumped into Maraudon without much forethought, choosing to take the experience in as fresh a way as we could.  That led to us taking a somewhat less than optimal route, as we had to double back after clearing the purple side to get a critical question from the orange side.

(Note to self: You can’t be OP is you don’t do orange before purple.)

For our follow up trip we were going to be more direct.  Our group for the run was:

  • Moronae – level 51 night elf druid
  • Viniki – level 51 gnome warrior
  • Skronk – level 51 dwarf priest
  • Ula – level 50 gnome mage

We had a distinct series of tasks to accomplish, which started with some quest turn-ins on our way there.  We met up in Theramore to turn in a quest, then flew out to Nijel’s Point in Desolace and got another turn-in done along the way to the instance.  Then it was through the big doors to get started.

In we go

The next item on our list was Magra, the Third Khan, who held the final jewel we needed for another quest.  That meant going down the orange side of the entry area, as he hangs out in a side tunnel, up some stairs from the instance line over there.

Orange, this way…

It took a bit to find him.  The color/texture/lighting inside that area really messes with my ability to resolve the 2D image into a 3D environment in places, so we ended up taking a rather round about way to him because I was sure the direct route was a dead end.  Instead, it was just a sharp turn in the cave, which I discovered when we came back that way.  But we got him.

Then it was over to the purple side of things again, where we fought our way through to Lord Vyletongue.  He was all we really needed from the purple side.

This time around we pulled the guards outside of his lair first, then took him and the interior pair second, making the fight much more manageable.  He had the second item for the Celebras quest.  After that we just needed to get back to him.  The purple side of the instance does allow you to bypass some mobs, though we did have a mishap with the toxic bubbles.  After last week we knew to kite them as their AOE attack was hard on the melee.  Ula, who was trying to get in one last spell before pulling back sat too long in range and ended up being our first casualty of the run.

Mage down! Mage down!

It was about time to redo buffs anyway, so we rested a bit, then moved on.  Along the way we did get one of the better named drops of the run.

Imposing!

They came off a treant, so I guess he had a monkey living in his branches at some point.

Once out of the purple side and into the center of the instance, we found we could bypass quite a bit of the trash by jumping off into the brackish water and slaying the few mobs that wandered there.  We didn’t need any more drops of quest updates.

That brought us to Celebras again.  We fought him and his mininions and bested them, and this time Celebras had a quest turn-in for us and offered to teach us about the stone of something or other.

Celebras the instructor

That was a bit more of listen, turn-in, listen, watch, and so on.  We got out of sync, but once somebody is finished Celebras is willing to run the whole routine again for anybody who was left out.

Celebras and Ula

So we ended up with the Scepter of Celebras, which those of us who were just clicking through and not reading the quest text then asked, “So what? What  does it do? Can we use it right now?”

I had to go look it up, being one of those who clicked through without reading.  The scepter lets you skip the whole orange/purple parts of the instance and start at the stone, so you can farm the inner instance.  But we were not even sure what the inner instance was about, so we wandered off to see what we could find.

As with the the earlier parts, we found we could bypass quite a few mobs along the way.  We killed what we needed to, bypassed any mobs off the path, and made our way along.  Landslide, the primordial behemoth boss, dropped a helm upgrade for me.

Defense and Nature Resist

I also got a cloak upgrade that also had a nature resist stat, that being the theme of Maraudon gear I guess.

From there we fought our way down to Princess Theradras.  I actually didn’t take very may screen shots on this run.  I find that being the tank keeps me busy and I forget to take screen shots all the time.  But there was a nice vantage of the path leading down to the princess, with the behemoths in pairs spaced out along the route that I wish I had stopped to take a picture of.

But we made it down there to the island where Princess Theradras roams.

Princess Theradras is about

And we sat for a bit and discussed how we sort of remembered this fight and maybe some failed strategies and something about line of sight and being in the water and some other possibilities.  In the end I just looked it up.  I had been up past 3am the night before playing EVE Online and only got about 4 hours of sleep because I am old and seemingly incapable of staying asleep past 7am, so I wanted to get this done on the first try.

The basic info was she hits hard, so the tank needs to endure, and if she runs off after any of the casters the tank needs to grab her quick because she’ll smoosh the clothies.

In the end, we got her in one run.  It went about as described, though I think the fact that, by the time we got to her, we were all level 51 (and I had just hit 52) gave us enough of a buffer to endure any rogue attacks.  She dropped a nice caster item.  We gathered up and took the traditional screen shot.

Down with the princess!

I didn’t tweak the saturation or anything on that screen shot, it is just bright green around there.

After that I was feeling done, but we needed to leave and couldn’t remember if there was an exit path out of the instance or if we had to stone out.  I thought there might be something down in the water below the path to the princess, so we jumped off to check.  While we were there we took down Rotgrip.

Rotgrip under water

That was worth the effort as Moronae ended up with a nice set of boots out of it.

with nature resist

We explored a bit more… there is a whole cave area down behind where Rotgrip lurks… but did not find any likely exits, so decided to just stone back to Ironforge.

Recall in the water

After that I called it a day.  We still had a couple of quests to turn in.  One was back in Desolace, which promised to reward me with a best in slot item for tanks, the Mark of the Chosen.  The other was in Moonglade, which Moronae could just teleport to in order to turn it in.  The rest of us were going to have to get there the hard way.  But for 6,100 xp and a gold and a half I’ll make the run.

We missed at least one boss on our runs, and probably a few more things, but Maraudon isn’t anybody in the group’s special favorite instance, so we may be done there.

That makes the next instance on the list Sunken Temple.  But before we venture into there we need to get our level 50 class quests ready, as they all seem to require something from that instance to complete.

Addendum: Our history in Maraudon

Meandering in Maraudon

Having finished up Zul’Farrak we ended up skipping a couple of weeks due to the real life, but got back together this past weekend.  The next instance on the list was Maraudon.

I know I always say something about hazy memories and having forgotten places, but for Maraudon that was especially true for me.  I remember there being an orange side, a purple side, and the final boss… not the fight, just the boss herself.  Aside from it being in Desolace, that was about it.

Add into this the fact that we do very little research before we head into an instance, preferring to learn on the go, and we sometimes set ourselves up.  The only thing we really look into is the quests, just to make sure we have them all going in.  There were three we needed to grab on the way in, one in Theramore and two more out in Desolace.  Everything else was said to be in the instance, so when we got on, we didn’t know much more than that.  Our group for the evening was:

  • Moronae – level 50 night elf druid
  • Viniki – level 50 gnome warrior
  • Skronk – level 50 dwarf priest
  • Ula – level 50 gnome mage

Everybody was 50 at last, and I think we all have our class quests.  We’ll get to that later, since that involved the next instance.

We picked up our quests, riding across Desolace from the flight point.

Out in the aptly named Desolace

I had scouted the locations up front.  It was a matter of going to out outpost, then finding a wandering NPC in the south of the zone, then turning to the Valley of Spears and Maraudon.

Our path across Desolace

Also, as a side note, I am thinking of doing a series of short weekend posts featuring the in game map of each zone, completely explored, as finding maps for anything classic on Google has been problematic at times.  Just the map and a few notes about the zone, just so I can find them later.

Anyway, once to the Valley of Spears there is a big door, which we found straight away. There is no key or anything required, you just click on it and in you go,  you are in the foyer of the dungeon.  We stopped for a bit there to get ourselves buffed up and ready.

Setting up inside

Inside we ran into the Nameless Prophet, killed him, got his drop, and then ignored it while we went wandering around in the caves.  Unlike some other instances, the “outside the instance but part of the experience” area was not all elite mobs.  Maraudon was a post-launch addition, so maybe that changed their minds.  There was also at least one collect drops quest where we all got to loot a drop rather than only one of us getting the update.  Modern times.

We came to a point where things were clearly split into the orange and purple sides.  We looked at the orange side.

Orange, this way…

And the promptly went off towards the purple side of the caves, finding our way to the instance.

Into the purple zone

Once in, we began our advance, facing off against multiple groups of four or five.  But at level 50 we were well above the level of most of the elite mobs early on, and some of the mobs in groups were non-elite, so we were able to clear and move pretty well.  And well all had a “collect 25 items” quest that was of the old school, with only one person getting the drop, but everything seemed to drop them, so we were happy enough to slaughter everything as we went.  100 drops is a big ask, but we seemed to make decent progress.

We made out way to Lord Vyletongue, the first boss encounter.  We were not fooled by the two minions in stealth at the entrance to his chamber.  However, rushing in to grab him, we were surprised to find two additional stealthed guards in with him.  That could have gone more smoothly, but we managed to muddle through on an innervate from Moronea to get Skronk back his mana.

Lord Vyletongue down, dealing with his minions

Somewhere along there Moronae asked about the drop we got from the Nameless Prophet, a gem that we needed to use somewhere along the way.

The amulet in the bag

After trying to use it in a few likely spots, we happened upon one of the spirit Khans, so used it on him.  That does indeed manifest them in to the physical world… and they are aggro and attack right away.  Fortunately we were prepared.

We carried on into the center of the instance, where the purple and orange sides join and started in on that.

The middle of Maraudon is icky

The mobs started getting up to our level, but we kept on, clearing our way until we found Celebras the Cursed.

Celebras and his droogs

We got ourselves buffed back up, then Moronae and I waded into the green water to start the attack.  We decided to kill Celebras first.  He summons more minions as the fight goes on, but we were able to power though, drop him, and then clear his help.

That left us talking to the ghost Celebras, which something in the back of my head knew was the result, but something was missing.

Celebras, post fight

I believe Skronk asked aloud, “Aren’t we supposed to get a staff or something?”

Yeah, that was the ticket.  But no staff here.  So we started looking up the instance and the quests and found that we had gone the wrong way.  There is an NPC early on in the orange side that sets you up with the quest you need.  Then you need to kill a boss on the orange side and a boss on the purple side to get yourself set for Celebras.

We did not have that quest.  We should have done the orange side first.  Plus, we had already killed the purple side boss, Lord Vyletongue.  We were in a “what do we do now?” situation.

We decided to just go back the way we came, go over to the orange side, get the quest, then see if we could make it to the boss there to at least move the quest along.

Fortunately, not much had respawned behind us, just the first few mobs in the instance.  Unfortunately, getting back was a bit of a maze of bridges and paths, though in our wandering we did wrap up another quest.

We found another khan along the way.  We ended up with four of the five gems from them, and I think the last one we need is right at the start when you come in, so we should be able to finish this up next time.

Eventually we unwound the maze and made it into the orange side and found the quest giver, Cavindra.

Quest obtained

That done, we decided we had time for one more objective, to take down the boss on the orange side for the quest.  On the mini map that boss, Noxxion, looked like he was pretty close by.  But the mini map lies, Maraudon is twisting caves and ramps.  We had a ways to go.  But we managed to move fairly quickly.

The one test on the way was in a room with a bunch of non-elite larvae.  I grabbed a bunch of them so we could do freeze and burn, and in the middle of them an elite showed up.  I hadn’t seen an elite before, but grabbed aggro and focused on him.  Then another showed up, seemingly out of nowhere.  Something was amiss.

I looked up and around the room and saw a large pulsing tube that ran from ceiling to floor, and when I moused over it I got a cog wheel cursor.  With that a little light went on in my head, the tube was the source of the elites.

Moronae worked his way over there as another elite appeared from the tube to prove my point.  He clicked on it, we finished off the last elite, and were set to move forward again.

The deflated larvae launcher in the background

From there it wasn’t much farther to Noxxion.  The fight with him had a mechanic where he divides into multiple versions of himself that you have to burn down, then he reappears to resume the fight.  We had enough power to burn through that and bring him down.  That accomplished our goal for the night.  We lined up for a picture then stoned back to Ironforge.

Maraudon very orange

For next time we have a couple of quests to turn in, the third khan to find, Lord Vyletongue to slay once more, and then a return date with Celebras.  Then we can move on into the end of the instance and maybe wrap it up.

Finishing Zul’Farrak and Returning to Jintha’alor

We were back to finish off Zul’Farrak.  We had made our mistakes, explored the mechanics, and run through most of the challenges, and now we just wanted to punch that “final boss” ticket and get the last two quests out of the way.  It was back to Tanaris for the run.

The general vicinity in Tanaris

Last time Moronae rolled over to level 50.  I was close, so went out and got there as well.  And Skronk and Ula got on during the week to put in some work on leveling, so when we met up our group was:

  • Moronae – level 50 night elf druid
  • Viniki – level 50 gnome warrior
  • Skronk – level 50 dwarf priest
  • Ula – level 49 gnome mage

Level 50 was an expensive one for us.  Moronae and Skronk spent a bunch on new spells, while Viniki upgraded a bit of his gear, including grabbing Julie’s Dagger from the auction house.  It is fast, so my sharpening stones will be all the more effective.

Once we met up, we rode on over to the instance and started moving through it fairly quickly.

Back in ZF again

Being on a mission, we bypassed even more mobs that usual, slipping by the fountain area where the two routes through branch without bothering to clear it out.

The fountain stands unscathed

We did end up getting a patrol while we were on that little hill, but otherwise killed as few trolls as possible as we worked our way around to the stairs once again.

Once again, we cleared out everybody in the area, then ascended the stairs and took down the executioner.  Then we did a round of buffs, got full mana up, then unlocked Sergeant Bly and his companions and started off the event one more time.

Here they come… again!

We followed the same plan as before, concentrating on elites when they came up.  The non-elites threatened to get out of hand for a bit as heals and AOE drew some onto Skronk and Ula, but we managed to keep that under control.

When Bly began the march down the stairs, we followed, and at the base killed off Shadowpriest Sezz’ziz and Nekrum Gutchewer and the few remaining non-elites without much issue.

That done, I immediately went to Weegli Blastfuse and spoke to him, so he would blast open the doors to the final boss.  Skronk and Ula looted Nekrum for his necklace.  And then I spoke to Sergeant Bly, aggroing him for the fight over the Divino-matic Rod.

We slew him and his companions, looted the rod, and were successfully done with the event… on the third try.

Event done, all hostiles down

From there it was over to the big gate, which now lay open for us.

The gates are open

The fight beyond was something I could recall almost nothing about, save a sense that it was a bit of a let down after all the energy of the stairs event.  And that sense was about right.

There are three groups of mobs you need to pull first, then it is time for Chief Ukorz Sandscalp and Ruuzlu.  They actually summon some non-elites during the fight, but we killed them so quickly that the two non-elites they called only managed to get to use after both bosses were dead.  We lined up for a screen shot.

Where the chief once stood

The chief did drop the Ripsaw axe, which would have been a great weapon for Viniki… except that he had already upgraded to Julie’s Dagger, which I mentioned earlier.  Still, a could gold it a couple gold.

The best bit from the final boss was that, on our way out, a couple of stealthed trolls had spawned and attacked us.  An actual post fight surprise mechanic!  I love those!

After that though, we were pretty much done.  We went over to the one area we had bypassed the last three runs, just to see if there was anything to be found… a rare spawn… some loot… whatever.  But there wasn’t much to be had.

The only time we made it to this area

After that we fought our way out, killing a few extra mobs on the way as Ula was closing in on level 50.  Once out we rode back to Gadgetzan to turn in one quest.  Then we recalled and flew on down to the Blasted Lands for another quest turn in.  That, in turn with another quest, sent us up to the Hinterlands again where we needed to go into Jintha’alor once more.

Blue X, Us – Red X, Destination again

We rode on out to finish up The Ancient Egg and Saving Sharpbeak.

The in-game map is still a reasonable guide to getting there.  When we got to the foot of Jintha’alor Moronae was only about 30 minutes from a hard stop deadline he had.  But we felt we could get through in time.  We had just done ZF so quickly, why not?

Well, as we had forgotten, Jintha’alor actually ramps up to level 50 elites pretty quickly, which is higher level than most of ZF.  Still, we were level 44 or so when we last went up, so it was still easier than before.  We were able to bypass a lot of mobs and got to the top pretty quickly, all things considered.

Up at the altar again

We managed to clear around the altar and then knocked out Vile Priestess Hexx and got her key.  That unlocks Sharpbeak’s cage.  We went into the cave to get Sharpbeak and the ancient egg.

Fortunately, the layout for the cave at the top of Jintha’alor is the same as the kobold cave in Arathi Highlands, which I had just been questing in with an alt, so I knew which route was a dead end.  We fought our way quickly into the cave, spotting the egg about where I expected it.

The Ancient Egg!

We managed to collect that… slowly, because when one person takes it the egg has to respawn… but Sharpbeak was nowhere to be seen.  I had to go look up the quest and realized that we needed to get back out and go somewhere else for Sharpbeak.  That was another cave.  Time was ticking down for Moronae.

Unfortunately, things were fast to respawn, so we had to fight our way out again.  Ula hit level 50 along the way in the cave, which was good.  Skronk dying in one battle as we tried to rush was less so, though Moronae’s combat ress came in handy there.

We managed to get out of the cave, away from the altar, and back down the path to the other cave.  Through that and a couple of guards and we were on a plateau where Sharpbeak’s cage was located.

We let him out… everybody gets the update from the same action… and we were able to see him off.

Sharpbeak rescued!

At that point Moronae recalled and logged off, a couple minutes over time.

The rest of us decided to run down the quest turn ins.  From Sharpbeaks plateau you can safely jump off… if you’re careful… and use the terrain to basically climb down the back of Jintha’alor.  That would have been handy to remember previously.

We rode off back to Aerie Peak to turn in Saving Sharpbeak.  The we took the flight path to Menethil Harbor to get back over to Theremore.  It was apparently rush hour on the dock.

Quite the boat crowd on a Sunday afternoon

From there it was back down to Gadgetzen then over to Steamwheedle and Yeh’kinya, where we turned in the quest.  Yeh’kinya then gave us our first quest for Sunken Temple, The God Hakkar.

I think Maraudon is actually next on our list, but we’ll get to Sunken Temple eventually.  Some of us get class quests at level 50 and they seem to all require you to get something from there.

That done, we recalled home once again.

Leaving Steamwheedle

Zul’Farrak is done at last.  Now the four of us are off to Desolace and Maraudon.

Our past adventures in Zul’Farrak listed out:

Sergeant Bly Leaves Us at the Altar

We go together for a Father’s Day run at Zul’Farrak, though we were time constrained with a hard stop time, so when we got online we made a plan as to what we would do in the instance.

ZF is an odd instance in that you have path choices and can bypass some of the bosses.

We met up in Gadgetzan and got lined up.

The stable master there has the same staff as Ula

Our lineup for the run was:

  • Moronae – level 49 night elf druid
  • Viniki – level 49 gnome warrior
  • Skronk – level 48 dwarf priest
  • Ula – level 48 gnome mage

We grouped up and rode on out to the instance where we got ourselves buffed up and ready to go.

Inside the instance

Since we last met up, Moronae had made the run to Feralas and finished up the Screecher Spirits quest, so our first goal was to get him the two tablets needed for the follow on quest.  That meant turning right at the fountain to take that path to Theka the Martyr who holds the first of the two tablets.

While there is some mandatory trash to clear all the way to the fountain, once you get past that you can bypass quite a bit of the mobs.  There is a little set of huts through the first doorway in the wall past the fountain that we have cleared on past runs, but this time we just walked on by.  There were three walkers in the corridor to Theka, but after that there is just him and the scarabs.

Theka and his friends

Theka isn’t particularly difficult, you just have to make sure you don’t do any AOE or the nearby scarabs will join in, so we had the first tablet in no time.

After that we bypassed Antu’sul and Witch Doctor Zum’rah, with all his zombie fun, heading straight for the stairway.

Those stairs again

Finishing the stairs event was our second goal for the run.  We learned last time that we really ought to clear out everything in the area, lest they become complications for us later.  Having a few extra elites pile on us is likely what made us wipe.

Once that was done it was up to the top of the stairs to get Bly and his companions out of their cages.

Bly and friends uncaged

From there we followed pretty much the same plan as last time.  Bly and his crew are pretty strong and the non-elites don’t really do much to them, so we focused on the elites coming up the steps, pausing to drink or bandage at need. That went well and we cleared the lot and started down to the bottom again.

All done on the steps

Down at the bottom we were able to dispatch the two named trolls and their non-elite helpers without much problem, thanks to Bly and his companions.

And then we got distracted for a bit.

Both Moronae and I announced that we had gotten Nekrum’s medallion, which updated a quest we had.  Neither Ula nor Skronk got the medallion.  As it turned out, they did not have the quest.

Only two of us had the quest

So there was some discussion as to where the quest came from, was it shareable, and then some research online as to where to get it.  And while that was going on Sergeant Bly and his companions all went into a crouch and started the animation that one associates with a player using their hearthstone to recall.  And then they disappeared.

They’re gone now

Which left us with the event incomplete.

We still had to kill Bly in order to get the Divino-matic Rod for the other quest… which we all had… and, I believe, to unlock the gates to the final boss.  But the quest remained unfinished and the gates remained firmly locked.

A gnome should be able to get under that!

Had we done this right and killed Bly, we could have closed out Zul’Farrak and been ready to move on.  The final boss, to my recollection, is pretty quick, so we had the time.  But now we will have a return trip.

We then went up the side path to the area around Gahz’rilla and grabbed the mob that dropped the other tablet that Moronae needed.  Then, seeing we had some time left and that Moronae was very close to level 50, we cleared out the area around the pool, getting him his level.

Then, since we were there, we summoned Gahz’rilla again just to kill him again.

You rang?

After that we mounted up and rode on out of the instance… successfully this time… and headed back to Gadgetzan.  Moronae and I both had the Nekrum’s Medallion quest to turn in while Skronk and Ula had to go figure out what they needed to do to pick it up.

In the course of things Viniki was also very close to level 50, so I ground out some mobs until he leveled up as well.

So we will be back for at least one more run at ZF.  We’ll see if we can get it right this time.

Death on the Stairs with Sergeant Bly

It had been almost a month since we had our last outing in Zul’Farrak.  There was just too much going on for a few weeks for us to find the time.

The Tanaris area of operation

But this past Sunday we finally got online together with the time to return to the instance.

Meet up in Gadgetzan

The line up for the day was:

  • Moronae – level 49 night elf druid
  • Viniki – level 48 gnome warrior
  • Skronk – level 48 dwarf priest
  • Ula – level 47 gnome mage

We did a quick check on quest status for everybody and found that Moronae, Skronk, and Ula all still had Screecher Spirits.  However, Moronae still had to go to Feralas to get the drops while Ula and Skronk just needed to turn the quest in for the next stage.  We ran over to Steamwheedle to do the update for them.  It seemed likely that Moronae would have another shot at finishing the quest down the road.

The Steamwheedle Waterfront

From there it was back past Gadget and on to ZF, dodging past the elite mobs that guard the outside of the instance.

A fireball chasing us to the zone line

Once into the instance we buffed up and started clearing mobs, which was nice as it gave us a to warm up a bit on some easy stuff after the time off.

There is, however, a lot of trash to take out, but we managed it, even clearing around the fountain without too many accidental pulls.

The fountain area has plenty of walkers

From the fountain we turned left again, both to pick up the quest objectives for Ula and Skronk for the Screecher Spirits follow on quest and because we totally missed a boss that lives off the path that direction.  As we approached his lair, none of us could recall having ever done this fight.  But we spotted his cave easy enough.

The cave of Antu’sul

Since none of us could remember the fight, all of the details and surprises seemed to get us, like the fact… which I read up on later… that you don’t have to attack Antu-sul, or even get within casting range of him, you just have to get within a reasonable distance of his cave and he comes running out to get you.  Surprise!

Oh, and he quickly summons some elite helpers for the fight as well.  Surprise!

Oh, now he has friends

And he doesn’t just do that once… he keeps doing it as you kill his helpers off… and he keeps rooting everybody as well as dropping totems and healing himself every so often.  We were quickly in over our heads and I was scrambling to remember some warrior skills to help keep me alive.

Somehow we managed to keep going… nobody died… and we got Antu’sul down, which stopped new adds from showing up, and we made it through.

For all that he dropped the Lifeblood Amulet, which was a bit of an upgrade for me, adding +3 stamina over what I had.

From there we moved on, picking off Theka the Martyr for the quest update for Ula and Skronk, avoiding any scarab entanglements, and then heading to the graveyard.

The graveyard again

This is, of course, where we got surprised last time.

We did this again, the right way, digging up all the graves first, then going after Witch Doctor Zum’rah.  All I can say is that there are way more graves in that area than there needs to be to make whatever point some Blizz dev was trying to make.  But we could use the xp and the undead trolls dropped the troll temper for one of the Gadgetzen quests, so there was some upside.

The witch doctor himself wasn’t so tough without the zombies, though he does still summon some help on his own.

He dropped Zum’rah’s Vexing Cane, a staff that I thought might be up for contention between Ula and Skronk.  However, it didn’t seem like much of an upgrade to the Illusionary Rod from Arcanist Doan back in Scarlet Monastery, something we picked up in our low 30s in December, though there was some uncertainty whether the bonus to healing/damage casting was worth the sacrifice of 10 spirit and 5 intellect.  Ula decided to try it out, though the fact that it looks like somebody glued a door knob to the end or a broom stick did not endear it to anybody.

From there it was time to decided whether or not to attempt the stairs.

The stairs loom in our future

We cleared our way to them and decided to give it a shot.  As with other fights, our memories were vague at best and we didn’t stop to look up a strategy, preferring to have at least one go in as raw a state as we could manage.

Up at the top we met the Sandfury Executioner who attempted to live up to his name.

Execute! Execute!

He dropped the key to the cages where Sergeant Bly and his companions are.  Opening those up starts off the big event on the stairs.

Standing with Sergeant Bly

Down below the trolls formed up.

That is where we are headed

The trolls then start coming up the stairs.  Most of them are not elite, but there are a few elites mixed in every so often.  We tried to focus on the elites to burn them down.  Bly and his crew seemed pretty able to care for themselves otherwise.  It was chaotic and nearly got out of hand a few times when healing pulled aggro onto Skronk and there were shouts of “Get the combat ress ready!” but we seemed to get through each crisis.  The Bly wanted to start moving.

Bly gives the command

It was at the bottom of the stairs that things got out of hand.  There are two named mobs that spawn, and we ended up pulling them early, while we were still mixed up with the greater trash at the bottom of the stairs.  We lost control, people started dying, and the last I saw of Sergeant Bly he was in a mass of trolls holding his own until he was polymorphed into a frog and beaten down.

Corpses around as Bly gets pounded

Once that was settled out, we released and ran back to the instance.  Since Bly and his crew were dead the event could not be run again and the remaining trolls were too many and packed too close together to try and finish them off.  So we decided to save the stairs for another time… after some research… and finished off the quest Ula and Skronk had.

That meant clearing out some of the area around Gahz’rilla, and since we started on that, we finished clearing around and then used to Mallet of Zul’Farrak to summon Gahz’rilla again.  This time we fought him from the water so when we got tossed in the air we had a soft landing.

We waited in the deep end of his pool

That worked out well and Gahz ended up being a pretty easy fight.  He doesn’t drop anything we need, but it all sells for coin and we all need more of that.

From there we mounted up and tried to ride on out of the instance, out running the various patrols and respawns between us and the exit.  We almost made it too, but Ula took a big hit right at the zone line.  We went back in and Skronk ressed her.

So close you could feel static off the portal

We got Ula back up on her mount and we road out and back to Gadgetzan for quest turn ins and such.

For next time we need to get Moronae to Feralas for his quest update as well as looking up some tips for the fight on the stairs.  I think I know some of what we did wrong, and we know better what to expect, but after one run winging it I’d like a little more info.  And we can managed that we can get to the final fight and finish off ZF.

The Three-Percent-Solution

The week before we could not get together, but this past Sunday… Mother’s Day… we managed to find the time to take our first step into Zul’Farrak.  Our lineup was:

  • Moronae – level 48 night elf druid
  • Viniki – level 47 gnome warrior
  • Ula – level 47 gnome mage
  • Skronk – level 46 dwarf priest

As we met up at the flight point outside of Gadgetzan it was time for a quest check to make sure everybody was on the same path.

Everybody at the flight point

It quickly became clear that not everybody have wrapped up and turned in the Screecher Spirits quest that was the focus of last post.  What can I say?  People were busy.  And, frankly, I was in a hurry.  I was feeling like I might be on the highway to the danger zone taking some time out to play WoW Classic on mother’s day, so I wanted to get going right away.  So rather than sorting out who needed to just go to Steamwheedle and get the right quest and who still needed and expedition to Feralas, I went with the fact that we were likely going to be making multiple visits and we’d get everybody caught up next time.

Steamwheedle wasn’t on the way, so screw it

So we headed away from Steamwheedle and towards the instance.  Somebody was outside clearing things up for us, no doubt trying for the 20 troll temper drops you need for one of the quests, so we didn’t have to fight all the way to the front door.

The way in

Once inside we started to try to call upon our various faded and mixed memories of the instance.  I think we came up with “it’s big” and “it’s outdoors so we can ride our mounts” and “it really is big” and “I think we messed up this pull and wiped.”

It had been a while.

In the instance so far

Still, we didn’t have much of a problem taking down mobs as we moved forward.  The groups of three and the occasionally singletons and wanderers were not much of a problem, save for those troll hunters who kept polymorphing me into a frog.  But Skronk could cure that, so we made pretty good progress forward.

Trolls just hanging out

We did get a couple of extra adds as we moved into the main junction with the fountain in the middle, but we didn’t mind slaying a few extra trolls as we each needed 20 drops, and the drop rate wasn’t very good, so we were clearly going to have to kill all the trolls more than once.

From the junction we decided to turn north.  I knew that south was the way straight to Gahz’rilla, who was our goal for the expedition.  But we had the a quest for scarab shells, which something in the back of my brain told me was up the northern route.  So we went that way.

And, sure enough, that memory was reliable.  There were tons of scarabs up that way.

Also that way was Theka the Martyr who, true to his name, died.

We make martyrs all the time

Rather to my embarrassment, Theka had one of the drops for the Screecher Spirits follow on quest which I hadn’t let anybody grab, so I was the only one who got the update.  But we will be making another trip here, I am certain of that.

Like the troll temper drops, the scarabs seemed rather reluctant to cough out, and we may have gotten a little bit greed in taking them on as they were non-elites, trying to do the freeze and burn with only four players.  We killed lots of scarabs, but Ula got mobbed at one point and died mid-air trying to mage hop her way out of the mess.

Ress incoming for the floating corpse

Having cleared most of the scarabs away, we moved on to the next area which had a bunch of graves.  Clicking on the graves sometimes gave us some random gray loot and sometimes spawned a zombie or two, which we took out quite easily.

That routine got boring quickly though, and we spotted a big chest in a building close by, and the troll in there was green to us, so it seemed totally safe, so we ran over to get it.  Nobody felt even the mildest twitch of memory about this place, so we were all pretty surprised when the troll, Witch Doctor Zum’rah, turned aggro and started summoning zombies from the graves, a couple at a time.

Oh, this will not end well

You can see above that Skronk was already down, and when Ula fell, the last to go, we got the warning about the place.

Oh, now you tell us!

I suppose it wouldn’t be the complete Zul’Farrak experience if we didn’t wipe at least once per trip.  So it was back to the instance as ghosts.

Running back from Gadgetzan

Back in we mounted up and, aside from a patrol now and then, we able to get back to where we died.  From there we had to carefully pull the zombies, who were all hanging around where we had fallen.  Then it was time to get to work on the remaining graves.

And there were graves all over

At first we thought this was going to be a problem.  Once you get stuck in with Witch Doctor Zum’rah, any further zombies run straight over to the steps in front of his building, which felt like it could go very badly for us.

But the witch doctor didn’t aggro, and once arriving at the steps, the zombies then turned to come after us, all of which just gave the casters an opportunity to soften them up a bit with ranged attacks before they came back at us.  We cleared then and then Witch Doctor Zum’rah, but he didn’t have anything much in his chest.  Kind of a bummer after all of that.

Somewhere in the mix I ended up with an ancient tablet in my inventory, which turned out to be the instructions for summoning Gahz’rilla.  But we had done all that groundwork already.

This? This we remembered.

From there we moved on into the open area below the steps where the big event happens.  But we were not up to the big event.  That was more that we had signed up for that day.  Instead we cleared along the left edge, past the gates that lead to the final fight, and down the back route to Gahz’rilla’s pool.

Pool This Way – No Running

We nearly stumbled into a pile of trolls too.  Just off to the right as you go in there is a group of five mobs, which would have been a bit of a surprise.  Instead, we went to the left and cleared clockwise around the pool, finishing up with the group of five, which we though might be a group of three and a group of two… but which turned out to be a full group of five.  But we were up to it.  And that group dropped the other piece for the Screecher Spirits follow up as well as the drop for the quest from Tabetha out by Theramore.

The area cleared, we set our plan.  We would fight him in the big open area at the end of the pool opposite the gong.  I would go ring the gong and bring him back.  I had remembered the Mallet of Zul’Farrak, which is something we forgot back in the day, so was ready to go.

Of course, he shows up at the far end of the pool, away from the gong, so I had to run back to grab aggro.  And then the fight was on.  It went pretty well, too, though I had forgotten about how much damage can hit you when you land after he throws everybody in the air.

Up I go, and soon it will be down

I think the solution to that is to fight him in the pool where you can land in the water and not get hurt, but we managed it.  We brought him down without loss and were able to loot the scale for the quest that bears his name.  We then posed for the victory shot.

Gahz’rilla defeated

The mission of the night completed, we mounted up to ride back out the route we came in.

Leaving Gahz behind

We stopped only to slay some more scarabs to finish off that quest for Skronk and myself.

And to visit our remains

Then we skirted past a few patrols and exited the instance.  We found the outside still fairly clear, so road off to turn in the most important quest.

Don’t mind that troll chasing us

That turn in wasn’t at Gadgetzan or Steamwheedle, but out at the Mirage Raceway.

Mirage Raceway with the gnomish team

There we turned in Gahz’rilla’s scale for the coveted Carrot on a Stick trinket.

The Three Percent Solution

We then rode back to Gadgetzan, feeling very good that we were moving a full three percent faster on our way back.

That seems like a trivial speed boost, but back in the day WoW didn’t exactly rain trinkets down on you and I recall wearing that item well into The Burning Crusade.  Of course, I think I was also wearing that Argent Commission trinket into that expansion as well, so I might have just been bad at upgrading my gear.

That complete, we were done for the day.  I camped and quit and found my wife, who had been busy with something while I had been playing, so didn’t seem upset.

Now we just have to get back for the return trip.  We missed a boss completely and still need to do the event on the stairs and the final boss.  Everybody gained a level this round, so we’re better prepared.  But first we have to get everybody done with that Screecher Spririts quest.

Screecher Spirits and Feralas

Technically I can make the claim that the instance group got together this past weekend.  We were all logged into WoW Classic at the same time for a stretch and shared some information and made some plans.  But it was otherwise more an afternoon of parallel play than a group effort.

The plan was small.  There was one more quest to run down before we headed on towards Zul’Farrak, one from Steamwheedle port called Screecher Spirits.  We were all going to go do that quest at some point, and Skronk and Ula were going to try and pick up a bit more experience along the way to get to level 47.  We would then be about as ready as we planned for the instance.

I started out at the flight point in Tanaris with Viniki.

Desert air base of sorts

From there the nearest flight point for me was at the far end of Thousand Needles, the little Alliance camp at Thalanaar.

Through Thousand Needles

That borders on Feralas, and from there I headed into the forest mess that is the zone.

Green dominates the palette of the zone, so much so that I almost didn’t see the two Horde NPC guards standing on the road as I rode on, stopping short when I finally saw them.

The rain made it harder to see…

I had forgotten there was a Horde camp astride the main road into the zone, Camp Mojache.  I had forgotten a lot of things about Feralas.  I am pretty sure at that point I had forgotten much, much more than I remembered about the zone.  But being there and riding through revived a lot of them, the ones that had sunken below conscious recall, as landmarks and names and terrain awakened them.

I couldn’t really remember where the vale screechers, the mobs for the quest, were, but the quest text said the south central of the zone.  I made my way around the Horde camp, first attempting to go south, only to find the terrain… difficult.  So I went back around to the north and managed to pass by, picking up a few areas on the map along the way.

In the western of the two valleys, between the ogres and the yeti and in amongst the bears and gorillas, I spotted my first screecher.

The bear invited himself to the party

The screechers were a bit rare on the ground, at least relative to the other mobs that I had to clear though in order to find them.  But I was able to find my quota in not too much time, though it was helpful that I only needed three.  I had wondered if this would be a good quest for the group, but I suspect that the four of us together at once would have needed to find a dozen of them, so maybe we were better off solo.

Skronk had mentioned that he flew into Feathermoon Stronghold, the Alliance flight point on an island off the coast.  I had forgotten that was there, but since he reminded me I decided to exit from there rather than ride back to Thousand Needles.  Being me, I also made a point of trying to get all the map updates along the way.  I think I managed it.

Feralas revealed

I made it to the coast, mentioning I had gotten my screechers.  Skronk said he had found them there on the coast, and sure enough they were about.  Our dozen might have been manageable there as opposed to deeper in the zone.  I waited at the dock for the boat to show up and take me to Feathermoon Stronghold.  I seemed to recall that this was a slow boat and that people often opted to just swim the gap, but I decided to wait.  I was sort of surprised when the boat arrived.

The boat arrives

My memory was of an elven boat model, though on seeing the standard vanilla boat pull up, I seemed to recall that the elven boats only showed up later, during The Burning Crusade perhaps.

I took the boat across the straights to the point where in ran between the two islands, then jump into the water.  You don’t get map updates on griffons and apparently you don’t get them on boats either, and I wanted to fill out the map.

Having done that, I made my way to Feathermoon Stronghold, where the boat was still waiting.  It is a bit of a slow boat I suppose.

The boat docked at Feathermoon

I ran around a bit and scoped out some of the quests.  I wasn’t keen on doing them with Viniki, he was already level 47 and I didn’t want to get too far ahead, but with alts in tow I tend to be on the lookout for quests they can run.

From Feathermoon it was back to Tanaris on the bird.

A straight shot back

From there it was off to Steamwheedle for the quest turn in.

Over at Steamwheedle

That gave me a lineup of seven quest for Zul’Farrak.

My ZF quest selection

Having that all set I got out my hunter, Tistann, and did it all again with him, gathering up some of the quests I bypassed with Viniki.

Zapping shore striders

He also stumbled across the leatherworking quests at Feathermoon Stronhold as well, so he has those to work on as well.

Down Around Gadgetzan and Steamwheedle

Previously our run up to Zul’Farrak moved from the Hinterlands to Booty Bay.  This past weekend we got a bit closer to the dungeon as the group took the boat across from the Eastern Kingdoms to Kalimdor and flew on down to Tanaris.

Tanaris is where Zul’Farrak is located, so we were at least moving closer to our destination.  But our group of four still felt a little light on levels to tackle the instance.  Our lineup as the afternoon started:

  • Moronae – level 47 night elf druid
  • Viniki – level 46 gnome warrior
  • Ula – level 45 gnome mage
  • Skronk – level 45 dwarf priest

So we decided to tackle some of the quests in the area first, hoping to squeeze another level in for everybody across the board.  Gadgetzan was quite amenable to that plan.  There are lots of quests in the area.

Also, it has a Mos Eisley vibe to it

If you can find all the quests… and there are some behind the buildings and two as part of a notice board… you can fill up your quest log pretty quickly.  When I scouted ahead I dumped all the quests I had left from Stranglethorn Vale (all of which I could go get again if I wanted) and anything else I was unlikely to pursue and found that all my local quests, including the ones from down the road at Steamwheedle Port, and all the Zul’Farrak quest I had gathered, totaled up to 17 quests.

That is quite an investment for your quest log.  But Gadgetzan isn’t a bad place to stick around for a while.  It has vendors and supplies and a bank and access to the neutral auction house.  The latter isn’t great, but you can sometimes find a few things you need.

So when we got online on Sunday afternoon and met up in town we had a list of things to go after.  The first tasks were with the Wastewander mobs that hang out between Gadgetzan and Steamwheedle.  Those involved slaying some specific mob types, collecting water pouches, and bringing down a named mob.

We actually went too far into their territory to start with, running into the mobs that are part of the second set to be slain in a follow up quest.  We moved a bit north and found what we were looking for.

Wastewander camps

A few of the mobs in the camps were bugged.  Specifically, the ones under the shelters would suddenly go into “evade” mode and run back to their spawn point and reset if they got pulled anywhere.  You had to go slay them where they stood, but at least you could slay them.  Something in the back of my brain says that this was an issue at some point back in the day as well… authentic experience… but I could be wrong.

We also stumbled over the named mob pretty early on, knocking him over to finish another quest.  We then went back to town to pick up round two, the second check list of mobs, during which everybody also got their water pouch drops.

After that it was on to Steamwheedle Port.

The Tanaris coast has nice beaches

We actually had a quest from last week in Booty Bay that sent us out to the coast.  There we turned that in, picked up a couple more quests which, along with the other wanted poster quest from Gadgetzan, all pointed us toward the Southsea Pirates and their camp a ways down the coast.

The Southsea Pirates are another spot I remember from the history of the instance group as it was where we picked off after the long break when Earl had to move to New York and then Ula and Skronk moved back to California.  We did a warm up round with the pirates before heading off to Zul’Farrak.

My pally back in the day

We all also seemed to share some collective memories of trying to do this area solo with various classes during the vanilla WoW time frame.  They seemed to all involve some pain.  But as a group venture it is a pretty good area to hit.

The checklist kill quest is easy enough to  do solo, but all the more so as a group.

The named mob you need, the vile pirate Andre Firebeard, isn’t impossible solo, but is definitely easier with a group.

But it is Stoley’s Shipment, the follow on quest from Booty Bay, where have a group can be critical.  The quest is simple enough.  You just have to go pick up his missing shipment in one of the building.

It is the pile of boxes in the two story building

The problem is that the mobs are close by, often hiding around corners, so it is really easy to accidentally proximity pull the whole building.  As a group we burned through it pretty quickly, but later we saw a druid go in there solo and come running out shortly thereafter with half a dozen mobs in tow.  We ran over to help him, pulling mobs off of him, but he died.  Still, we cleared out the rest of the mobs, gave him a ress, then ran back in to clear the way for him.

Not everybody in the area was so nice.  We went over to the dock in the pirate camp where the last type of mobs, Southsea Swashbucklers, were located.  As we setup to start picking them off, a mage that had been sitting off to the side mounted up and rode through all the mobs.  I thought he was trying to grab them all for a freeze and burn.  But somehow the all managed to get trained right on to us.

We had a fairly frantic battle for a bit, but managed to tamp everything down and came out the other end okay.

The victims strewn about us

But we couldn’t tell if the mage had done that on purpose or by accident, and if we should be mad that it was kind of a dick move or happy because we pretty much filled up our swashbuckler quota in one quick go.

We made it onto the ships at the port… this is a little out of order, we went there for Stoley’s shipment, thinking “shipment might mean on a ship!” and failed to find it, moving over to the buildings later as bits and pieces of memory floated into our consciousness.  But there was the Captain’s Chest in the far ship, which needs the Captain’s Key, a drop that comes in the pirate boxes that are occasionally found on mobs in the area, along with map fragments for another quest, and some random items.

However, once we got off the ship Viniki got the key in a box, so we had to go back and open the chest.  There was an upgrade for Moronae in it, so it was worth the effort.

The one quest we did not finish involved pirate hats.  Everybody needed to get 20 and they are random drops off of Southsea Pirates.  However, even having to kill about 50 such pirates doing the other quests did not get anybody close to that total.  I think Skronk topped the list with nine.  So we decided to maybe not stay to the bitter end farming for hat drops.

Of course, I went back the next night with Tistann, my level 45 hunter, and did all the quests AND got the 20 hats all in one go, though it was not pretty.   A quest like that with 20 drops favors the solo player.

Anyway, we took down any pirate on our path out of their cove, then rode on back to Steamwheedle.

Time to turn in quests

We turned in our quests, by which point all of us had gone up a level.  There was one more quest line to run down, so we flew up to Ratchet to take the boat back to Booty Bay to turn in the one that originated there.  And that was about all we had in us… or about all I had in me anyway.  But we’re about far enough along that I think next time we’ll just head to Zul’Farrak and start in on it.  There are a bunch of quests we can close out and we have the mallet, so we can summon Ghaz’rilla and maybe get that Carrot on a Stick trinket.

An Interlude in Booty Bay

After our run through The Altar of Zul and Jintha’alor the previous week it felt like we needed a level or two across the group before we should consider taking on Zul’Farrak.

Left with some time to consider this, I did a bit of scouting and decided that Booty Bay might be the opportunity for us.  Down at the southern tip of Stranglethorn Vale it has a flight path, a boat connection to Kalimdor, and, most importantly, a pile of quests, most of which are quite well suited to group activity.

The far end of Stranglethorn Vale

So when we all met up on Sunday, everybody flew on down to get stuck into the many quests out of Booty Bay.

Hanging out in Booty Bay

Our group for the afternoon was:

  • Moronae – level 47 night elf druid
  • Viniki – level 46 gnome warrior
  • Ula – level 44 gnome mage
  • Skronk – level 44 dwarf priest

Both Moronae and I had notched up a level since our last venture, but we needed to get Ula and Skonk further along.

What I had not considered, having done my scouting later in the evenings during the week was that maybe that was not representative of prime time on Sunday afternoon when it came to how many people would be out and playing.

No social distancing order in force in Stormwind

Still, we grabbed what quests we could scoop up and left town to get started.

Outside town

This is where I mention one of the minor annoyances of the good old days of vanilla WoW, which is where you could actually ride your mount.  Booty Bay was not one of those places, so every time we returned to town we got dismounted in the tunnel and had to hoof it the old fashioned way, save for Moronae, who has the minor speed boost you can get with cat form.

Anyway, first on our list was the start of the Bloodsail Buccaneers chain, which you need to get out of the way as it unlocks a few quests.  For that you need to run down to the cove near town and pick up a document.  This is usually complicated by there being a bunch of Bloodsail Buccaneer NPCs hanging around.  However, on a Sunday afternoon they were scarce, so we could just walk up and collect the document.

From there, as were down on the beach already, we headed a bit north for a quest involving the local naga.  We each needed 10 drops from them, which is a pain for a group, but it is one of the few quests out there that requires it, so we rolled in expecting to massacre naga.

And we found the naga were being pretty well hunted.  Ten drops is even more painful when you cannot even get the NPCs.  But we dove deeper into the naga domain and found an enclosed area up at the top of the hill where quite a few would spawn.  There were a couple of people going in and out of there, but the naga were close together, so not easy for the at level singleton.  With four of us though we were able to set up shop and pull everything that spawned.  Our effectiveness sent the occasionally interloper off to find less contested grounds while we built up quite the gut pile of naga corpses.

All the dead naga

The drop rate wasn’t great and we needed to clear quite a few waves of naga, but we managed to pull through eventually.  It speeds up once one person gets their fill.

From there it was back to town where we turned in those quests and picked up the three that unlocked for us.  We needed snuff and a wooden eyeball as drops from the local Bloodsail Buccaneers, but to get down the main quest line we would be killing so many that those drops would come naturally enough. On the main thread we needed two documents, orders and charts, along with ten Bloodsail Swashbucklers to finish the next stage of the main quest line.

That seemed easy enough except the beach where the Swashbucklers hang out was also pretty crowded.  The weather gets warm and everybody heads to the beach.  There was also the matter of the two documents, each of which in my experience spawn in one very specific place.  However, that is apparently only true if you catch them first or during a slow period.  Otherwise each document can appear in a number of locations between two camps, and they move after each person picks them up.  So we spent a bit of time running around figuring that out.

On the up side, when we got to the further camp, we found that Cowardly Crosby, the tailoring vendor, had the tailoring recipe for the Admirals Hat.  Ula, our tailor, snapped that up.  Those will probably make some money on an RP server.

We got the documents sorted, but spent some time fruitlessly trying to nab the ten Swashbucklers.  We took a bit of a break from to go up the main road a bit to take out elder mistvale gorillas for another quest.  Only five drops were needed there, and I had already done the quest, but it still took a lot of gorilla killing to get just those five for each of us.

That done we went back to roam the beach to do our best to find Swashbucklers.  We had a bit of luck, and found a couple on the islands off shore, and eventually bagged our quota.  It was time to head back to town.

At that point we were already a couple hours in and I was getting the feeling that my plan for free ranging quest completion was not going quite as smoothly as I had hoped.  But we were now line up for a three quests well suited for a group.  The first involved slaying Gorlash, an elite giant just a ways north from where the Swashbucklers were being hunted.

Gorlash on the beach

For four of us Gorlash was a doddle.  We brought him down easily enough.

From there is was back down into Bloodsail Buccaneer territory where we had three named mobs to find out in the ships off the shore.

At the first ship

As there were three names and three ships, it seemed to spark a distant memory that we would find one on each.  Of course, we had our own share of minor issues.  On the first ship, as we were clearing the deck, a Horde group ran past us and nabbed the target ahead of us.  Things be like that some days.  We were mostly disappointed that they didn’t get mobbed and slain by the remaining NPCs as they made their escape.  It was close though, and we certainly didn’t lift a finger to help.

So we cleared the ship, got some snuff drops, and setup to wait for the first of our targets.  Captain Stillwater arrived and we knocked him out quickly enough.

Captain Stillwater arrives

Then it was off the boat and on to the next one.  Here we were alone on the ship, so cleared our way in to wait for Fleet Master Firallon.

Firallon spawns

I’ll give Firallon this, he really looks the pirate part.

Having slain him, there was one ship left, but once we cleared our way in for the final target, a warlock showed up looking for the same mob.  So we invited Ketimelt to our group and killed the last named.  But Ketimelt still needed Firallon, so we went back to the last boat and killed him again.

After that we parted ways with the warlock and headed out for the last target of the night, three named zombies up around the Gurubashi arena.  Again, we arrived to find everything dead, so hung around until the first two we needed spawned… and then spawned again.  That seemed to indicate that the third one was somewhere else, so we had to look that up.  Directions to the beach in hand, we headed over there and joined up with a hunter who was also camping the same zombie.  After a bit of a wait, we nabbed him.  It was time to head back to Booty Bay.

Riding back south to town

There we turned in the quests we had finished and tallied up our efforts.  Both Ula and Skonk had advanced to level 45 and all of us seemed to have gotten at least a half of a level of experience out of the effort.  That was less than I was hoping for, but my optimism knows no bounds at times.

That was enough that our next effort will take us to Tanaris.  There are a few quests to be run there as well as at least one prep quest for Zul’Farrak.  And if we run those down quickly we can always go into ZF itself and start in on the quests there.

The Altar of Zul and Jintha’alor

After Uldaman, the next instance on the list for us was Zul’Farrak.  But before we could wander down to Tanaris and start in on that there was some prep work to be done.  ZF is an instance with a group of lead-in quests so we got together to get those done first.  Our group for the venture was:

  • Moronae – level 46 night elf druid
  • Viniki – level 45 gnome warrior
  • Ula – level 44 gnome mage
  • Skronk – level 44 dwarf priest

Moronae had been out working on gold to get his mount, which got him a couple of levels along the way.  The rest of us were about where we left off after Uldaman.

Our destination was the Hinterlands.

Map of the Hinterlands

In the Hinterlands is the hammer that one must transform into the Mallet of Zul’Farrak, which is needed to summon Gahz’rilla, one of the bosses in the instance.  We all still recall the time we went in and forgot to bring the mallet with us.

Otherwise though memories of the Hinterlands aspect of this were vague.  But we would just follow the quests and see where we ended up.

The line starts with the quest Withbark Cages, available in the cave just behind the flight point… the flight point which we all had after I got lost that one time… which was a quick out and back as a group.

Back to get the next quest already

That leads into the quest that sends you out to investigate Altar of Zul.  At the top of the structure, at the Altar of Zul itself, is Qiaga the Keeper, who drops the sacred mallet that becomes the Mallet of Zul’Farrak.  So we headed out to the Altar of Zul to see what we could see.

The steps up to the Altar of Zul

The mobs on the way up, were starting to creep up in levels compared to our group.  They were also a bit close to each other, so we ended up with our share of proximity aggro and pulls.  But they were all non-elite.  However, at the top, Qiaga and Morta’gya were both elites and level 50.

Red level is a warning

However, we met up with Discostuart, a level 47 priest, who was also there for the Altar of Zul.  We joined up with him and went after the elites.  It was a bit of a muddle… Discostuart decided to mind control Qiaga but didn’t mention that up front, which led to some confusion, and we managed to get all the non-elites in the area on us as well… but we managed in the end.  We all got the quest update for investigating the altar and we all got the sacred mallet.

Mallet in hand, it was time to move on to Jintha’alor to find the altar in order to create the Mallet of Zul’Farrak.

Behold Jintha’alor

Jintha’alor is something of an open air dungeon.  Most of the mobs are elite and you have a path to follow up the various walled tiers of the complex.  The altar, from my readings, was somewhere between the two ponds at the back of the complex.

Blue X, Us – Red X, Destination

It started off fairly manageable, with elite mobs being around levels 46-47 and spaced out enough that we were not getting too many accidental adds.  There were even some gaps that allowed us to slip on by some mobs now and then.

Running up the sideline

But that soon started ramping up a bit, and as mobs got to be 48 and 49, our abilities became much less reliable.  That was to be expected, and we have run into that before, but it seemed to get a bit more critical this time around.  Moronae, who has been able to just unleash his DPS so far in our group ended up dying because my taunt, on an 8 second cool down, was hitting maybe 1 in 4 times.

Reviving Moronae after a fight

At our level things are getting a little more serious.  He started using cower, a skill that dumps a bit of aggro, more frequently.  This helped me as I had been blowing all of my aggression on offense that built up aggro.  Now I had a bit more room for damage mitigation.  Things were still close to going off the rails now and then, but we had a bit of luck go our way.

A level 60 player rode past us at one point and on up towards the altar.  I gather they were looking to gain faction with the Wildhammer Clan.  But they cleared a lot of the stuff ahead of us.

Skronk attempting to Mind Vision ahead to check the path

We were able to get pretty far along in the wake of the level 60, though once up at the top we were in among level 50-52 elites.  Those were mobs we could handle one at a time, but there wasn’t a lot of room for error.  A lot of resists meant mobs might go after anybody.  We took out a few of the level 50 wolves up there, but the way in to where ever we needed to be… we were not quite sure beyond the “between the ponds” landmark… was guarded by level 51 mobs that were clearly going to be coming at us in pairs.

About then the level 60, Bootsncats, showed up and asked what we were up to.  I told him we were up here for the altar.

I am for simple explanations

Since I wasn’t sure where it was, and it seemed like we might need to go into the cave just over the way, I added that.

You can see the cave and some targeted mobs

Bootsncats ran ahead and killed a couple mobs, though we chased after and almost managed to get in over our head with a couple of adds.

A level 51 resisting away

But as they went into the cave with us in tow, I started to feel that maybe the cave was too far past our mark.  The altar seemed to be out in the open, there just wasn’t anything to indicate what we had to do.

While Bootsncats was clearing the cave, we went back to the altar and sat around for a bit.

At the altar

One of us clicked on the sacred mallet they had collected and found that would upgrade it to the Mallet of Zul’Farrak.  Objective complete.

We left Bootsncats to his slaying.  As I noted, I think they were up there for the rep grind anyway.  We turned around to play our escape.  The ride out of Jintha’alor is traditionally done by just trying to blow past and out run all the mobs, jumping off terraces and running down wall tops to avoid fall damage.  So we all mounted up and rode off.

There was some confusion as to where we ought to turn.  I just rode down stairs then straight over the next ledge and so on.  Ula fell off the wrong side of a wall at one point and ended up going the wrong way.  Skronk and I were riding all out when we got to the base of the complex.

Nearly there!

However, both Skronk and I got swarmed by mobs at the bottom, dismounted, and killed.  Only Moronae made it out safely.  Skronk and I were close enough to safety that Moronae went to use his combat ress, the one with the 30 minute cool down, to revive Skronk so he could then revive me.  But Moronae mis-clicked and revived me instead.

Oh no, wrong corpse! Skronk was just behind me

There was a quick discussion as to whether or not if I declined it the cool down would go away, but it already seemed to be running.  So I took the ress, Skronk released and came back, and Ula somehow got herself back to us, though I am not sure where she ended up.

We were out and done.  We took a side trip to Skulk Rock to slay some oozes for a quest we picked up.  If Jintha’alor was any guide, we were probably going to need some more levels before we could expect to successfully assault Zul’Farrak.  I figure we probably need be 47 minimum across the board to finish it all.  So something to work on.  But the groundwork has been laid.