Category Archives: WoW Classic

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:

June in Review

The Site

I think I fixed the MMO Blog Feed in the side bar that shows the blog name, though I am keeping the alternate one on hand at the bottom of the side bar in case my changes do not prove resilient.

I also had an odd call back to the past via Twitch this month.

Twitch is Twitch

A bunch of things have been going on around Twitch, including them… Amazon… selling the game mods part of Twitch (which used to be Curse) to another company, their competitor Mixer basically giving up, a Twitch blackout protest, Trump’s Twitch account getting banned (he had a Twitch account?), and Twitch getting sued.

It is that latter that came up here as I noticed a sudden surge in hits on a post about Erik Estavillo, from when he sued Blizzard because World of Warcraft was too difficult.  As it turns out, he is also the person who is suing Twitch because they allow women to use their sexuality to exploit sex addicts like himself.  First WoW was too hard and now he is too hard.

It had been a decade or so since his name popped up and you think that maybe people change and get on with their lives.  But I guess not.  Now I wonder who will pop up next?  Is it time for another Jack Thompson headline?  Who will 2020 inflict upon us next?

One Year Ago

I had declared that there were three problems MMORPGs were never going to solve.  I remain pretty solid on that.

I was also mocking the purity of leveling.  People be mad if you don’t do it right.

After waiting for it to finally drop, the Rise of Azshara update finally hit, bringing the flying unlock to Battle for Azeroth.

Over on the WoW Classic front, Blizzard had a load test that went pretty well.

In EVE Online the CSM14 elections kicked off.  The results were probably not surprising, though the last candidate squeaked into the tenth spot by a mere dozen votes.

New Player retention was very much on CCP’s mind.  I am not sure selling skill points in the Starter Pack was going to fix that, though it looked good to old handsThe June update though was more about shadows and putting repair services in every NPC station.

Actually in the game the Imperium was well into its plan to “glass” Pure Blind, Tribute, and parts of Vale of the Silent and drive PanFam from those regions.  I have a series of posts about that campaign:

We were poised to keep pushing, with The Mittani suggesting we might go as far as Malpais, when there were suddenly reports of Drifters attacking null sec citadels.  The Chaos Era was about to arrive.

The Spring FML season ended and we rolled into the Summer FML blockbuster season with a few new rules.  Remember back when we had movies and theaters and such?

I was also trying to figure out where the Age of Empires II Definitive Edition fit into the scheme of things.

There was a Steam Summer Sale.  There always is.

I had a Friday Bullet Points post about Stadia, Google, esports, and something Blizzard cancelled.

Five Years Ago

There was a cheer for the NBI class of 2015.

I was wondering what Turbine would do after they cancelled Infinite Crisis.  I was also looking for a summer game to play.

After waffling before a live audience, Blizzard finally caved and said there would be flying in Draenor.

Remember that time we killed a Mordus Angels Revenant?  It seems like everybody has killed one by now.

Also in EVE Online we got the Carnyx expansion, which had some of the initial Fozzie Sov features.  So we were out sov-wanding station services, though Dominion sov quirks still ruled the day in our fight at ED-9LT.  We then headed back north thinking maybe our friends in Querious would come visit us some day… *cough*

The coming of Fozzie Sov also meant further consolidation of holdings to make sure we could defend our space.  TNT got pushed out to Tribute to share space with the Circle of Two.  Tensions between the two alliances started almost right away.

And then there was Burn Amarr.  I took some screen shots.  And I splurged on ship skins.

Over at Daybreak they were talking about special servers for EverQuest II at last.  It looked like we might get some sort of progression server, for which there was a poll.  And then another poll, looking for a name.

Meanwhile, over in EverQuest, they were still working on how to deal with raiding on the Ragefire server, and the Ruins of Kunark unlock vote was upon us.

I was playing Neko Atsume on the iPad… back when it was only in Japanese!  I was also going on about 64-bit OS requirements finally coming to video games and an old grievance of mine.

My daughter suddenly wanted to play The Sims.  That lasted for about three days.  This is why I make her wait a week on any sudden new fad she want to follow.

The Steam Summer sale came and went and I bought nothing.  That turned out to be the last sale with the traditional daily specials format.

I brought up the F2P business model yet again based on a quote over at Massively OP which, if nothing else, got a long comment from Brad McQuaid on the subject.

And, finally, I played Minecraft with my daughter for Father’s Day, which led to a whole new adventure in gaming.

Ten Years Ago

Warhammer Online, whose game tips I previously mocked, was out soliciting user written game tips with the most boring video game related video ever.  Really, I was embarrassed for them.

Meanwhile, there were comical tips to be found in another game.

CCP was telling people that the steep learning curve in EVE Online was just part of the game, and Hulkageddon III was on the way.

FrontierVille came along, evoking the whole Oregon Trail thing… for which they recently were sued.  And a good thing to, as they are a bunch of lying bastards there at Zynga.  They never sent me my FarmVille magnet.

There was the big news from Turbine with Lord of the Rings Online going Free to Play.  I wondered is Lifetime Subscribers like myself would get the shaft in this transition.  But Turbine made me a perm VIP instead and put out one of those charts that seems to accompany these multi-level subscription scams structures.  But I was winning LOTRO lotteries, so I was happy for the moment.

In Pokemon SoulSilver I had beat all the gym leaders, but we were having Pokewalker problems.

Then there was Blizzard.  Where to start?

They were selling WoW Gold straight from the main page.  Really.  It just isn’t what you think.

They screwed up the parental controls interface… in my opinion… along with compromising the security of it.

The whole RealID thing was just getting warmed up.

One of the accounts in our guild was compromised and the guild bank was looted.  That has happened so many times to so many people that isn’t news any more.

And during all this, the instance group was working its way through The Burning Crusade content with our Horde alts, but we weren’t really feeling it.  Ennui had set in and our only hope was Cataclysm.  And there were plenty of offers to get us into the beta.

Fifteen Years Ago

In EverQuest II we got the Splitpaw Saga adventure pack.  Those of us with Station Access got it as part of the package, while those without had to pay… ten bucks I think.  I actually ended up playing through that quite a bit.  As early experiment with content that scaled with your levels, it was good from level 20 to level 50.  Unfortunately, it never progressed and now every time I end up in the Thundering Steppes with my newer characters the intro quest pops up.

In EVE Online the Cold War expansion hit, bringing freighters, dreadnoughts, and player owned stations in null sec.  The latter are gone, but remembered via special faction Fortizars.

Twenty Years Ago

Diablo II launched. It enlarged on its predecessor with more classes and a four act storyline that played out over different environments.  A pre-digital distribution title, it was awarded a Guinness Book record as the fastest selling video game ever, having shipped and sold one million boxes over the course of the first month.  For comparison its 2012 successor, Diablo III, sold 3.5 million copies in the first 24 hours, also setting a Guinness Book record.

Shogun: Total War launched, setting down a template that would become the Total War series that is still getting new titles.

[I mistakenly put these two in the May post, but the anniversaries are actually in June.]

Most Viewed Posts in June

  1. SuperData and Wavering WoW Subscriptions
  2. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  3. EQ Aradune Server Remains Over Crowded
  4. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  5. EQ Aradune and Rizlona Servers off to the Usual Rocky Start
  6. Top 25 EVE Online Corporations Graph – The End Number
  7. Darkpaw Announces and Adjusts Plans for the Rizlona and Aradune Time Locked Progression Servers
  8. EQ Aradune Server and Trading One Problem for Another
  9. Why We Had Asset Safety in the First Place
  10. EVE Online Gets New Ships and COVID-19 Research with the June Update
  11. Hints of a Diablo II Remaster
  12. Ruled by Discord

Search Terms of the Month

play eve the way it’s meant to be played “eve online”
[Good luck with that!]

eq full servers wtf
[IKR!]

rizlona vs aradune server
[boxing versus queues]

heritage quests everquest 1
[Not so much]

jintha’alor altar solo run
[Be level 60]

Game Time from ManicTime

WoW Classic turned out to be the game of the month, though it was off to a slow start.  Even two weeks into the month it was in no better than third place.

  • WoW Classic – 37.41%
  • EVE Online – 31.81%
  • Minecraft – 14.62%
  • Minecraft Dungeons – 8.58%
  • EverQuest – 7.07%

EVE Online

The GEF deployment ended as we began ramping up for war in null sec.  The other two blocs, PandaFam and Legacy Coalition, might be coming for us.  Or maybe just Legacy.  We shall see.

We also got those new EDENCOM ships.  I’m training up the skills.  We shall see if the ships are any good.  And CCP finally made it so you can swap characters without exiting the game and logging back in.

EverQuest

I let my Daybreak Access account lapse.  I wasn’t doing anything that required it, except checking to see if the Aradune server still had a queue.  But I have still been logging on to play with the Overseer feature.  It does not require a subscription and I just log in once or twice a day for a bit to check up on missions.  I’d play this as an iPad game I guess.

Minecraft

The month started out strong on Minecraft.  I think in the first week I played much more of that than all things combined.  Then things started to pop a bit in EVE Online and I started getting back into WoW Classic outside of the instance group and Minecraft began to slip.

Minecraft Dungeons

This was the other game I started off strong with early on.  I played through the story and started playing through it again at the harder level… and then I sort of stopped.  As I said, the game isn’t bad, but unless you want to play the same content through over and over, there is only 4-7 hours of game there depending how you play.

Pokemon Go

My wife and I edged ever closer to level 40.  The remote raid pass option has meant we have been able to catch a few Pokemon that we might have otherwise missed out on.  But the social distancing and the hot weather have combined to make our Pokemon walks somewhat rare.  Nobody needs that when it is 95 degrees out.

Level: 39 (38% of the way to level 40)
Pokedex status: 545 (+4) caught, 576 (+7) seen
Pokemon I want: Some of these Unova Pokemon where I only have one
Current buddy: Fraxure

World of Warcraft

I did Darkmoon Faire on my main to get my trade skills up a bit and that was pretty much it.

WoW Classic

Old Azeroth was resurgent this month as the group got back into dungeons once again.  I also started working on alts once more.  After a bit of a break it was nice to get back into the old game again.  There will no doubt be more posts coming on it.

Coming Up

It is going to be a long, hot summer, made agonizing by a presidential election failing presidency and we won’t even have NBC’s Olympics coverage to complain about as a distraction.

So staying home will remain a thing.  Fortunately, we have video games.

We will see if there is to be war in EVE Online between the Imperium and Legacy Coalition.  We still have a few days of prep.

The instance group might actually run a dungeon besides Zul’Farrak.

It remains ever a temptation to go back into WoW and Battle for Azeroth to play through the Horde story while the double xp lasts.  It doesn’t seem likely, but it could happen.

There is another weekend of the Steam Summer Sale.  I might buy something.  It is always a possibility.

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.

Blizzard Goes After WoW Classic Bots and Warms up for AQ

This week saw some WoW Classic news related to bots and cheating as well as a stress test on the public test realm.

Classic is as classic does

The big announcement was that Blizzard had banned 74K accounts for EULA violations.

We’ve recently completed a round of actions against players who were found to be cheating in World of Warcraft.

We rarely communicate publicly about this, because we’ve found that describing our sources and methods can make it easier for malicious actors to work around them, but we feel that it’s worthwhile to expand on the subject today, as many players have recently asked us for more details.

Including today’s actions, over the last month in the Americas, Oceania, and Europe regions, we’ve closed or suspended over 74,000 WoW accounts that were found to be in violation of our End-User License Agreement 68. The majority of these were found to be using gameplay automation tools, typically to farm resources or kill enemies much more efficiently than legitimate players can.

While today’s suspensions were applied in a batch (often referred to as a “banwave”), it is a top priority for us to identify accounts that are botting and remove them. Our team works around the clock, every day of the week, and many of the suspensions and account closures over the last few months have gone out in the middle of the night, or on weekends.

Like you, we play World of Warcraft. We understand what it’s like to spot a player in-game who appears to be botting. We always want to eliminate the botting player, if it can be proved that they are indeed cheating. And that raises a big difficulty in addressing this issue – we have to prove to ourselves that the accused player is not a person who’s actually controlling a character with their hands on a keyboard.

We use powerful systems to determine if the suspected player is using an identifiable cheat, and our heuristics (which we do not outline publicly) are constantly improving and evolving. But when we examine a suspect and these measurements aren’t out of line, we have to manually gather evidence against the accused player, which can be very time consuming and complex. It’s worthwhile though, because we never want to take action against a legitimate player.

Yes, there have been cases where a legitimate player appeared (to another player) to be botting. In those cases, where a legitimate player is reported and then cleared of wrongdoing, it can be very frustrating to the reporting player to again see what they think is a bot. We’ve also seen examples where the reported player was caught exploiting the game, and was removed from the game, and then quickly returned to doing the same thing on a new account with the same character name. That’s an infuriating sight for the players who initially reported it. We greatly appreciate your reports, and we understand how you feel about this.

We’re ultimately working to unravel a challenging circumstance. Real money trading drives third parties to put an enormous amount of effort into circumventing our detection systems. As much as this is a very high priority for us, it is the only priority for profit-driven botting organizations. The bans we issue are simply a cost of doing business for them.

We’re working on further improvements to every part of the game that might address cheating issues more swiftly and completely, and we’ll continue to let you know as those next steps are taken.

Thank you very much for your feedback on these issues, and thank you for your reports!

Ars Technica even did a story about the “bot mafias” that were present in WoW Classic. and how they have messed with the economy, all no doubt in furtherance of illicit gold sales.

I know I have seen a bunch of gold seller spam email messages showing up on my characters lately.

I have multiple screen shots of similar messages

I have been using the “Report Player” button to respond to these, so hopefully I helped target a few bad actors.

In addition, Blizzard made a change to the number of instances a player can access during a single day.

As part of our ongoing efforts to eliminate exploitative and automated gameplay, with scheduled weekly maintenance in each region, we’re implementing the following change to our settings on all WoW Classic realms:

  • You may now enter a maximum of 30 unique instances (dungeon and raid) per day, per realm.

This restriction complements the current limit of 5 instances per hour. Now, when a player enters a dungeon or a raid, the game checks to see if they have entered 5 instances in the last hour or 30 instances in the last 24 hours, and if they have, they cannot enter the instance until enough time has elapsed. This check is across all of your characters on your realm.

These limits only apply to dungeon and raid instances, and do not apply to PvP battlegrounds.

I had run into the old “five instances per hour” limit while trying to get the Hydrocane to drop in Gnomeregan, but the overall cap will now close that out a bit more thoroughly I suppose.  (I didn’t need nearly that many instances to get the drop on multiple characters.)

And then, in a note about things to come, Blizzard also did a stress test on the PTR on Thursday to test Silithus and the Ahn’Qiraj (AQ) opening event.  They have already posted a summary of how that went.  We shall see if they do anything with the information they collected.

Finally, layering, which Blizzard had to turn on again for a few realms recently due to queues, has been worked on to make sure that it will function correctly when these events hit the live servers.

Fifty in Searing Gorge

I had been poking around with my hunter nearby where the instance group had been working, running down quests in Tanaris and Feralas, which got him into level 49.  But as those started to dry up I was looking for a new place to make that final push to 50.  In Tanaris you get that first lead-in quest to Ungoro Crater, but I did not want to get started too early there.  WoW Classic does not reward getting into quest lines too soon.  My pally committed the sin of getting quests done out of order and I’ll be grinding mobs for a level or three to get him out of that.

My memory failing me… I remember levels 1-30 no problem, but after that it is blur… I decided to consult WoW Head and their leveling guide for classic.

For levels 45-50 they suggested:

  • Tanaris
  • The Hinterlands
  • Feralas
  • Searing Gorge

I had pretty well worn out the first three, but Searing Gorge, that one had promise.  I even remembered there was an outhouse quest there.  I guess bathroom jokes stick.  And it is a short flight from Ironforge, once you have the flight point.  To get that you have to get there, and how to do that stumped me for a bit.

There is a tunnel, but it is locked and I don’t have the key.

The gate needs a key I do not have

There is also a path into Searing Gorge from the Badlands, but I couldn’t quite recall where that was.  So I went to Loch Modan and searched around the edges of the zone.  There are a couple of places that look like they might be a path through the hills around the zone, but are not.  I did eventually find the path though, at the west end of the zone, just south of the Horde camp.

Path from the Badlands is here

Once in I ran to Thorium Point, where the flight point is located, grabbed that, then loaded up on the quests there abouts.  Then it was time to get into the zone.

Surveying the zone from the flight point

One of the first things I saw when I was getting started was a mass of level 60 players on mounts landing at the flight point and then riding off.  There were a few dozen of them in a minute or so.

Riders passing by

I suspect that was a raid group (or two) headed off to Blackrock Mountain and the raids therein.  Thorium Point feels like the closest flight point to that.

Searing Gorge Map

Meanwhile, the zone offered me just about exactly what I was looking for.  I find grinding mobs with my pally to be tedious, but with my hunter it is light and easy, so when I was handed a couple of “kill 20” quests along with a few more that needed drops, I got stuck in to the grind.

Pausing for a light snack now and then

That kept me going though until level 50 and beyond.  I even got the key drop that starts the quest chain around the outhouse.  First you rescue the occupant, then get revenge for him… and fetch him some toilet paper… silk cloth for that.

Free from the privy

The outhouse is behind the Dark Iron dig site that is along the road that runs down the east side of the zone.  There is also an escort quest down in the dig as well which has the usual “NPC walks straight into mobs and every time he stops you know an attack is coming” mechanic to it.

I still have a couple more quests to finish up there, but my goal was achieved.  I made it to level 50 at last.  And I was the first in the guild too, though only just barely.  Moronae is very close to level 50 at this point I am sure.

Level 50 hunter

Of course, with an even numbered level came skill upgrades to buy.  He was closing in on being able to buy a mount before he hit 50.  Now he has a ways more to go.

It is also about time to go hunt down some skill upgrades for my pet.  I am a bit behind on that.

After I am done in Searing Gorge, my level 50 to 55 options are:

  • Blasted Lands
  • Un’Goro Crater
  • Azshara
  • Felwood

I have a quest for Un’Goro already, and the skinning there would be good, but I also got the level 50 hunter class quest, which sends you to Azshara.  I feel like I should peek in on that first.

Either way, I am going to have to step up the pace a bit if I want to have a level 60 character before WoW Classic turns one years old.

WoW Classic Gets Summer Bowl and Future Hints on the Test Server

Another look at what is up in WoW Classic, with this past week seeing Blizzard bringing something new to the mix in the for of the WoW Classic Summer Bowl.

Sign ups start soon

This is a 10 v 10 Warsong Gulch double elimination tournament that will take place on the WoW Classic live servers using the “war game” feature that was recently added.  There will be North American and European versions of the tournament.

Warsong Gulch is the capture the flag battleground loved and loathed by many, scene of many an epic run or heinous stalemate.

You can sign up your NA team here, or your EU team here.  EU signs ups close on June 18th, while NA sign ups close on June 25th.  In addition, there is a full set of rules for both NA and EU players.

Meanwhile, the Public Test Realm patch notes from last week give us a hint as to what is coming up for WoW Classic.  That includes:

  • The 20-player raid zone, Ruins of Ahn’Qiraj, will be available, but the the 40-player raid zone, Temple of Ahn’Qiraj will only be available on live realms when unlocked
  • Tier 0.5 dungeon questline, items, and vendor are now available
  • WoW patch 1.10 Dungeon loot table adjustments, increasing the drop chance of epic items, and many new caster DPS items
  • Alterac Valley fixes
  • Authenticator Bag Slots

That last one, with Blizzard giving players four extra slots on their default bag if they have the authenticator hooked up to their account, is clearly something that came in well past classic, having shown up in January of 2018 with the 7.3.5 patch for the Legion expansion.

Four more slots

My guess is that Blizzard is trying to incentivize people who came back for just WoW Classic to secure their accounts.  My hunter won’t complain about getting four more bag slots, that is for sure.

Since these updates are just landing on the WoW Classic PTR, it isn’t clear when they will be coming to the live servers, but I would guess that some time after the Summer Bowl would be likely.

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.

Layering Returns to WoW Classic

With the boost in popularity of online games that came with the pandemic and everybody staying home more, queues for some WoW Classic servers have become a reality again.

Classic is as classic does

After riding this out for a bit, Blizzard decided to take some action.  Four US servers, Herod, Whitemane, Arugal, and Faerlina, have had layering reactivated in order to allow more players to log in.

Layering was the tech that Blizzard introduced to meet the expected initial surge of players hitting WoW Classic when it launched. (Explained in detail in this post.)

Blizzard viewed layering as a temporary solution and removing it was a gating item for the company to unlock Phase 2 of the WoW Classic plan.  But now it is back.

In addition, Blizzard has also disable realm transfers to a list of EU servers in order to keep people from changing to servers where login queues are an issue.

May in Review

The Site

I managed to break the blogger feed on the side bar.  It actually stopped working on its own and as I dug around I noticed that Pinboard said I had 32,768 entries there, which is exactly 2^15, which I suspected meant that I might have hit an upper limit on entries.  So I cleared all entries and… then nothing there has worked reliably since.

So I have an alternate feed now in the side bar which was, honestly, much easier to setup and get going, and seems more reliable.  However, I have less control over the feed so I cannot, for example, inject the blog name into the feed, so it is just post title, date, and author.  There will no doubt be a blog post about this when I get it settled.

Meanwhile, the blog has seen a bit of a traffic boom this month.  As usual, this traffic bump appears to be completely based on the whims of Google search, which suddenly doubled in impressions and clicks for my site.

Google’s own graph

Things were about normal in March, then there is the usual big April 1st spike, after which traffic and impressions taper off.  And then, suddenly, on May 6, they about double and I couldn’t tell you why.  It might be related to the Activision Blizzard financials.  There are a bunch of searches for “wow subscription numbers.”  But that should have tapered off after a few days.  Instead things appear to have kept going.

Also, in the usual post-Blaugust tradition, I have carried on after Blapril and posted every single day in May as well.  I am not sure that has an effect, but historically the September after Blaugust is usually a pretty good month for traffic as well, so maybe that plays into it.  Mysteries of the internet.

One Year Ago

Back in May of 2018 there was a rumor leak about Daybreak, so a year later I went back over them to see what came to pass.

Blizzard revenue margins dropped considerably.  As if to prove the point, WoW dropped off of SuperData’s digital revenue chart.

To hide that in the news cycle Blizzard gave us a date for WoW Classic. I wondered if the Cataclysm expansion was a necessary prerequisite for WoW Classic.  I also was speculating as to what would happen with WoW Classic as it aged.

The beta for WoW Classic had been up for a while, but they decided to do a stress test, so they let everybody in for a bit.  Of course I went!  And I did the following week as well.

In what we now call retail WoW I was off collecting the Children’s Week pets.

Blizzard also gave us a peek at their 15th Anniversary Collector’s Edition.

The Mittani uttered the words, “Gevlon was right” in a public forum.

EVE Online celebrated its sixteen year anniversary with a sixteen day login campaign.  The Invasion expansion was slated for the end of the month.  Its arrival brought more Triglavian fun to the game as well as the big revamp of The Agency interface and some war dec changes.

CCP Peligro Tweeted out a chart about who gets banned for botting in New Eden.  CCP had also been trying to nerf ratting and mining, so that was the focus of my MER review that month.

The CSM14 election was coming up and Jester did a Reddit AMA about his time on the CSM as his NDA had finally expired.  I also had a bullet points post about CSM14 candidates and rewards and a coming war and such.

Out in Delve I got to undock my dreadnought.

With Liberty Squad I went on ops to Amamake and into Etherium reach that resulted in explosions.  I also got to drop on some Rorquals with Black Ops.

But people were focused on the coming Imperium attack on the north and where it would land.  Even as we formed up and moved vast fleets to the north of null sec, our target was still speculation, though once we set up shop in the east of Pure Blind it looked like Tribute was the target.  There was a rush to see if we could kill the PanFam staging Keepstar, but when that failed we settled in to burn down the region.

In Minecraft I was growing bamboo and looking for the new village types that came in with the Village & Pillage update.  The I went looking for pillagers.

Connor at MMO Fallout announced that the site was winding down… and then he changed his mind.

And I watched the Catch-22 miniseries on Hulu.  I liked some of it, but there were issues for me.  There always are.

Five Years Ago

A bucket list item achieved.

There was another Newbie Blogger Initiative, for which I wrote a post.

The whole World of Warcraft “flying in Draenor” explosion started when Blizzard announced that they probably wouldn’t allow flying in that, or any future, expansion.  Lots of people spoke up.  I linked to a bunch of them.

It was not a good month for World of Warcraft.  Subscriptions were down to 7.1 million… and then they banned 100K accounts, so make that an even 7 million.

In the Warlords of Draenor expansion itself I was mostly going garrison stuff and pet battles.

Carbine announced that WildStar would be going free to play after continuing poor financial performance.

EVE Online turned 12 years old.  CCP was offering fan site the option of a free account OR receiving a PLEX every month.  I actually attempted to opt-in for the PLEX, but never heard back.  Was that option ever really a thing?  Did anybody get PLEX?  Is the fan site program still around?

The war in Fountain and Delve was over, NCDot had been pushed back yet again, and we were moving back north as our empire contracted.  Entosis stuff was looming.  Black Legion caught us taking a badly planned convoy through KVN-36.

Meanwhile, down in Querious, the Reavers were playing with Ravens.  Up in the north, TNT was moving out of Deklein and into Tribute as part of our Fozzie Sov plans.  And I hit 140 million skill points.

Then Daybreak went for a crowd pleaser by launching a new time locked expansion server named Ragefire. It was such a crowd pleaser that it couldn’t handle the crowd.  In addition to some first night problems, you simply couldn’t log in most of the time.  They worked on a login queue and some zone instancing technology from EverQuest II and eventually opened up another server named Lockjaw to take care of the crowding.

TorilMUD, the MUD on which EverQuest was largely based, softened its death penalty.  A sign of the times.

There was word of Warhammer Online private/pirate server for those who missed the departed game.

And I was playing LEGO Star Wars on the PlayStation 3 while the freshly minted Imperium was going to try and play H1Z1.

Ten Years Ago

I was unemployed thanks to the great mortgage meltdown, which you would think would leave me a lot more time for gaming and blogging.  But the anxiety of looking for a job for the first time in 12 years… and the first time in 20 years where there wasn’t just one out there waiting for me… made for a quiet gaming and blogging month.

Yes, I did start to poke my nose back into LOTRO.  A game where I didn’t have to pay a subscription seemed about right. (I have a lifetime subscription.)  That meant getting back into the swing of the game and figuring out what had changed.

We actually got THE DATE for the release of StarCraft II.  How did that turn out for everybody?  I skipped the whole thing.  Maybe when the StarCraft II warchest version comes out with all the expansions I’ll look into it.

The Agency came to Facebook, in the form of The Agency: Covert Ops.  A Mafia Wars-like game, without the multi-level marketing aspect, it had its good and its bad.  I liked the puzzles.  The dogs with guns… and the submarine fight… not so much.  Who knew that would be all of The Agency we would ever get?

Meanwhile SOE was transcending bad taste with their EQII PWNZ marketing campaign.

EVE Online got the Tyrannis expansion, though I wasn’t paying much attention there.  Something called EVE Gate was introduced… later closed and now being proposed again I think… as well as integration with DUST 514… also later closed and effectively proposed again with Project: Nova. Pattern here?

There was some Pokemon fun going.  I was twinking the Pokewalker while our cats worked against me.  The cats won in the end.

We also went to see the Pokemon Video Game Championships in our area.

And the Horde remix of the instance group was wrapping up Dire Maul and Stratholme.  Then, having hit 60, we let the Dungeon Finder guide our way into the Outland.

Fifteen Years Ago

Sony unveiled the PlayStation 3 in a pre-E3 announcement while Microsoft announced the XBox 360 on MTV.

Pokemon Emerald, the final third generation Pokemon game and the last GameBoy Advance Pokemon release, arrives in North America

Forty Years Ago

The Empire Strikes back, arguably the best movie in the whole series, debuts.  Or, as I sometimes think of it, the last great Star Wars movie.

Most Viewed Posts in May

  1. SuperData and Wavering WoW Subscriptions
  2. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  3. Darkpaw Announces and Adjusts Plans for the Rizlona and Aradune Time Locked Progression Servers
  4. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  5. Getting Upper Blackrock Spire Access
  6. LEGO Star Wars The Skywalker Saga is Coming
  7. How Many People Play EVE Online?
  8. EQ Aradune and Rizlona Servers off to the Usual Rocky Start
  9. New Servers and Server Merges and More with the EverQuest Anniversary
  10. Where is the Scenario Mod for This?
  11. Burn Jita 2020 Seems Unlikely
  12. Hints of a Diablo II Remaster

Search Terms of the Month

iowa wooden deck
[You’re far from Iowa friend]

robert jordan wheel of.time repetitive writing
[Clip that and you’d lose a book worth of text]

eve online auction house no more undercut
[Well, no more .01 ISK undercut]

how to make bamboo grow faster in minecraft
[You’re kidding, right?]

wve onlune mist active cirporations
[Your fingers are on the wrong keys]

mmo when you can play as kobold
[Uhh… I don’t know]

where’d holly windstalker go?
[Blizzard]

Gaming Time from ManicTime

A bit of a surprise for times this month.  If you had asked me on the first I would have probably guessed that EVE Online would be at the top, with WoW Classic maybe not too far behind.  And then I launched Minecraft.

  1. Minecraft – 43.20%
  2. EVE Online – 32.22%
  3. WoW Classic – 16.58%
  4. EverQuest – 6.65%
  5. World of Warcraft – 0.69%
  6. RimWorld – 0.66%

It is really easy to put on a podcast or an audio book and while away the hours with Minecraft.  Meanwhile, WoW Classic has languished a bit as the group has been busy so hasn’t had a chance to get back to Zul’Farrak.

EVE Online

With the Goon Expeditionary Force deployed, there has been some opportunity for fun in space.  I am definitely in a mood where I only log in for fleets and not much else.  I have gone on some fleets, but perhaps not as many as I thought I would.  But we’re still out there in Cloud Ring.

EverQuest

I have been mostly poking along with the Overseer feature here, though I did log in and make a character on one of the new progression servers.  The Overseer got some updates, and there is a post about it in the making.  It remains, to my mind, superior to the EverQuest II version of the feature.  As for the progression servers, I am likely going to give this round a pass.  I poked my nose in for a first day glimpse, but without a group already stood up and ready to go it is more than I care to take on.

Minecraft

I mentioned Minecraft and a new world appeared.  My post about exploring our old world inspired Skronk to roll up a fresh on on Minecraft Realms, so we’ve been playing with that for about a week or so now.  I guess I had best move it up into the “games I play” list again.

Pokemon Go

Having hit level 39 at the end of last month I am still in the midst of the long climb to level 40.  Niantic’s quality of life changes to support pandemic play, like remote raid passes, have helped out.  I caught my first raid legendary, the Terrakion.  However, for every legendary I catch, four more seem to get away.  Oh well.

Level: 39 (19% of the way to level 40)
Pokedex status: 541 (+10) caught, 569 (+9) seen
Pokemon I want: Some of these Unova Pokemon where I only have one
Current buddy: Axew

Pokemon Sword

I made no progress this month.  I didn’t even pick up the Switch Lite except to move it when it was in the way of something.  I think it is a nice little unit, but I haven’t worked in where it fits in my play time.  I used to sit on the couch when nobody was home, turn on a TV show I had seen before (reruns of The Wire FTW) and play, but now there is never a time when nobody is home.

World of Warcraft

I thought at the start of the month that I would totally get my Horde alt out and to level cap now that I have unlocked flying and there is double XP available until the next expansion.  It should be easy mode, a quick tour of the Horde story.  And then all I did was a bit of Darkmoon Faire.  I guess I can recycle that plan.  Maybe next month.

WoW Classic

Things slowed down some in WoW Classic, mostly due to the group being busy with other things in life.  We managed to get started in Zul’Farrak, but haven’t managed to get back for a return trip.  It is still on our agenda though.  Maybe next month.

Coming Up

A preview of June’s month in review: I will no doubt be complaining about the new editor WordPress will be forcing on us.  I’ve been using the old editor for over a decade and have heard little good about the new one.  But the old one may be dead tomorrow, so expect some curse words. (They say it will still be there, but in the past they have broken things like that on purpose to force people to change.)

It seems likely that, should I be able to still write posts, there will be some updates about the deployment in EVE Online, something about the instance group in WoW Classic when we get back to ZF, and maybe a further thought or two about Minecraft.

The CSM15 elections start tomorrow for EVE Online.  I bet you can already foresee that post coming.

I did buy a copy of the new Minecraft Dungeons, which I will probably try out later today, so perhaps something about that will pop up in June.

Otherwise, summer is coming, my daughter is graduating from high school, the weather is warm, and we’re coming up on three months of “stay at home” and even I am feeling like I need to go to the mall or something.  We shall see how we manage.

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.