The Dark Portal might be open, but we still have some work to do back in Azeroth before the instance group travels to Honor Hold. One of the things on our list is get used to the new composition of the group.
The joke on Monday when we were playing is that Ula had fired the old group and hired some replacements for dungeon runs. Last time around I had substituted in my paladin, Wilhelm, for Viniki, my warrior. But, with the level 58 boosts available, we ended up getting two more substitutions.
First in was Skonk our priest, who dropped out in favor of a boosted paladin spec’d to heal named Fergorin. That was the group’s first experiment with the WoW Classic character boost, which gives you gear and skills and a basic mount and a bit of gold. (30 gold seemed to be the amount.) The gear didn’t seem bad… Fergorin got something for every slot, which might make a solo leveling player jealous, as trinkets are kind of rare outside of instance content… though the look of the gear might have left something to be desired.
When a Dwarf cosplays as an Ogre
With two paladins in the mix we could double up on auras and blessings and not lose a resser.
The Moronae, dissatisfied with the changes to the feral spec on his druid, went for a boost as well, choosing a gnome warlock whom he named Beanpole. That lost us a combat ress, but got us soul stones and health stones along with warlock DPS.
The weekend was busy, but Monday was a holiday in the US, so we met up that afternoon to give the new team a try out. The group was:
- Ula – level 60 gnome mage
- Wilhelm – level 60 human paladin (protection)
- Fergorin – level 60 human paladin (holy)
- Beanpole – level 59 gnome warlock
The new group met up for the first time out in the Eastern Plaguelands at Light’s Hope Chapel.
Welcoming everybody onto the new team
We were out there because we had decided on Stratholme as our next target and warm up run. It had the advantage of possible gear upgrades, several quests that had decent rewards both in gold and gear, and both paladins needed drops from the instance to get going on the charger mount quest.
From Light’s Hope Chapel Stratholme is just a modest ride to the northwest of the zone, where we found the meeting stone and went in. Going in we were reminded how much we had likely forgotten since we last visited. Going through the main entrance leaves you locked inside the instance. The only way out… discounting portals or hearthstones… is through the instance.
Looking into Stratholme
We got into the instance and cleared the first couple of groups, but it quickly became clear that it had been a long time since we last did Stratholme. Going back through the blog I have one run from January 2008 and another after the Dungeon Finder was put in when we were doing Horde alts in mid 2010. We eventually had to go dig out an old map online to figure out where we were and where we ought to go.
Stratholme of old
On that map we came in where the blue “A” is and worked our way around to the courier and the first mailbox, managing not to wipe even when we did things like open the mailbox immediately after the first fight, before we had healed up, something that triggered another fight.
The mobs were in groups of elites and non-elites, so for me tanking was getting in there, casting consecrate and holy shield and then keeping them up. That was mostly enough to keep everything on me. Fergorin quickly got in a cycle of healing that seemed pretty active.
Beanpole had gone the demonology spec route, so his Felguard was in there doing melee damage. We tinkered around with having its taunt on or off and seemed to do better with it off in most circumstances. And then there was Ula, still the mage queen of burst DPS.
We made our way north, through the gate that traps you and releases mobs, only opening when you kill them… we remembered that much about the place, until we got to the Y intersection at point 2 on the map, where it was a left or right choice between the living and undead portions of the instance. We decided to go right, into the undead.
We seemed to do pretty well and made it to The Unforgiven, who is 3 on the map, and defeated him. There was a nice upgrade for me at the end of that fight.
That was an upgrade for me on all stats.
We made our way around to the open area around the fountain, which is where the 2s are on the map. That is where our first mishap came. We pulled one group from around the fountain and, during that fight, Beanpole’s felguard went running past me through another group, and into a third, pulling everybody back on to us, causing our first wipe.
Down by the fountain
We did manage to kill a lot of the mobs, so some progress was made. And Fergorin had the soul stone, so was able to revive and ress us. But more importantly, as we sat there getting ready to return to the fight, we spotted a shadowy figure somewhat hidden off to the side of the road. You can just barely see him by a barrel off to the left of the screen shot above. That was Hearthsinger Forresten, a rare spawn. He is not aggro and just hangs out off to the side, so you can miss him. Our pause there made sure we saw him, and we slew him in turn.
He coughed up another big upgrade, this time for Ula, the Magister’s Boots.
From there we cleared the rest of the fountain and moved into the next area, where we found Magistrate Barthilas, who drops the key to the side door of the instance. But only one key, so Fergorin got that. From there we pressed on into the mini-boss section, marked 10, 11, and 12 on the map. There we started having some problems.
Into that section of town
There are a lot of mobs, often in groups very close together, along with some flying mobs that move around the area and who can fear you into other groups. So we got in over our heads at least once before we had made it very far.
A bad pull will do you in
We cleared as carefully as we could, and did okay, but our first run at the first of the mini-bosses, Baroness Anastari, ended in a wipe due to a proximity pull of nearby mobs we had sought to bypass.
Baroness Anastari survived
We had been lucky with the soul stone previously, but with a 30 minute timer we were eventually going to end up in the gap between casts, so we had to run back from the graveyard this time around. Fortunately, the run from there to the side door is very short and we had obtained the key to it already. Magistrate Barthilas sometimes spawns further in the instance, so we were happy to have found him early, if only to avoid a longer run.
From there we did okay. Another wipe on trash getting out of hand caught us, but we had the soul stone up by then, and were able to carry on and slay the other two bosses. So we went towards the final area, 14 and 15 on the map, only to find the gate locked. Something sparked a distant memory about the three bosses we had just killed, so we ran back and checked the areas behind them, slaying the mobs there. Clearing those areas opened the gate and left us facing the final challenges.
Facing the patchwork undead
This is an event, though it starts off slowly. Once you start pulling the mobs around the courtyard some start wandering your way, so if you aren’t killing them fast enough you can end up overwhelmed. We figured that out the hard way, wiping once more.
Our second try got out of hand as well, though this time Fergorin had set up a Divine Intervention macro as we were once again on the soul stone cool down. As we got too many mobs and started losing people, he hit the macro and put DI on me, as the soul stone was on cool down still, which takes you out of combat for three minutes, sacrificing the caster. I waited until all the mobs reset back in the courtyard and ressed Fergorin and then we ressed the other two.
Getting everybody back
I had also managed to go red on my shield during that fight, so part of the reason I started losing aggro is that you cannot cast Holy Shield if you don’t have a shield equipped. Ula had picked up a green loot shield and traded that to me for another try.
We got ourselves set up for another run, and this time managed to slay all the patchwork horrors, drawing out Ramstein the Gorger. We finished him as well. Success.
We then sat down to drink and heal as another group came out of the central building. We had not even looted Ramstein when they were walking towards us and in aggro range and suddenly we had to fight again. We fell apart and wiped again.
We didn’t have a soul stone again, so it was another run back from the graveyard and in through the side door. But once at the gate we found that mobs we had passed a while ago had begun to respawn. The loot on Ramstein was lost as we decided to call it a night there.
That room and beyond looks full again
So we did not get to the final boss on the undead side of the instance, so we still have that left to do. Fergorin and I also did not come up with the Strathome holy water vials we needed for the paladin charger mount quest, getting only two each. So we’ll have to come back for that as well.
On the upside, we did get some nice drops, Beanpole made it to level 60, we did complete at least one of the quests, and I made it to honored with the Argent Crusade, largely because Wilhelm was still wearing the Argent Commission in his trinket slot. I was eyeing the trinket that Ramstein dropped, but that was not to be.
And, most of all, it wasn’t a bad warm up run for a group of four, three of which are playing new classes in the group. At least it seemed like we did okay to me. We’ll see if Ula keeps us or fires us and looks for more replacements.