Tag Archives: Barrens

Claiming Fire Hardened Mail

While we were getting ourselves set for Shadowfang Keep, Skronk had asked if I have gotten Viniki very far along on Fire Hardened Mail quest, the warrior class you pick up at level 20.  I had to admit that, while I had grabbed it, I had not done anything with it as when you get it the quest is “warning danger level” red in your quest log.

He mentioned that he and Ula had managed to finish it off as a duo, though not without some considerable effort, so they could probably help out.

So the next day when I got online I set about making some progress.  Viniki was level 26 and the quest was moving into the range of viability.

The first bit was simple enough.  You need 50 drops from spiders out in the Wetlands.  They were levels 20-23, so it was just a matter of chopping them down.  The main annoyance was that then required drops only stored in stacks of 20 in my bag, and in the current WoW Classic age of inventory management dedicated three bag slots to anything is a big ask.  But I figured I would make due.

After that it was time to travel.  The next stage is out on the Stonetalon Mountains.  I may have forgotten quite a bit about vanilla WoW, but I do remember running the length of that zone to get myself up to Desolace at one point, which ended up taking me something like 45 minutes.  A long trip.  So I was headed that way again.  But the first bit would be short I thought, just a run across the breadth of The Barrens.

Ratchet to Stonetalon Mountains

Of course, I was deceived again by the scale of The Barrens.  It takes longer to run across, even at its short point, than you think.  But I made it and even remembered to not run straight up the road where the zones meet, avoiding the Horde guards at Honor’s Stand.  From there signs would show the way.

Stonetalon Peak this way

Not that there are a myraid of ways to choose from.  The road through the zone has some turn-offs, but my destination was at the very far end in the Charred Vale.

The Stonetalon Mountains

Starting in the lower right I just had to follow the path, bearing right at the lake to go to Stonetalon Peak to get the Alliance flight point.  The way Classic works you may find you need flight points you don’t necessarily travel to as they can provide connections.  While I was on my way there Skronk logged on.  He swapped to his level 22 paladin, who happened to be in Ashenvale, to come join me.

I grabbed the flight point and a quest that was to hand, and headed for the charred vale where Skronk caught up, having grabbed the flight point and the same quest as well.  He went AFK for a minute and I promptly got us killed.  He was on follow and his aggro radius was such that I managed to pull half a dozen mobs when I went to stalk one of the chimeras I needed for my next set of drops.

Oh well.  We got ourselves settled and Ula joined us with her warrior, which gave us more than enough muscle to finish off harpies and get the drops I needed for the quest.

From there we ran down into Desolace to grab the flight master at Nijel’s Point.  That was a bit dicey with Skronk’s pally in tow, as his aggro radius was about max size relative to the mobs there, but we made it to the flight point after a couple of encounters.

From there we wanted to go to Razorfen Kraul, the location of the last item on my list.  We decided to fly to Theramore and run from there.  We’d run through the swamp at a lower level already.

Over those familiar centaur camps

From Theramore we trotted out to The Barrens again and headed south to RFK.  Skronk said that when they did this for Ula’s warrior it took a while and some strategic dying was involved, along with some outright running for the exit.  But with three of us it seemed to go okay.  We were able to take on ones and twos without too much drama.

Fighting in RFK

Skronk’s pally healed while the two warriors got stuck in to tank and DPS.  This mostly worked.

There was one point when we got too many on a pull and had to run for the exit, with Ula’s warrior getting trapped and dying.  That also served as a reminder to put Escape Artist, the gnomish racial ability that gets you out of traps, on our respective hot bars.  Fortunately with a pally along a ress was available.

When we had cleared our way to our target, Roogug, we were able to get just him and one caster.  This was another fight where we thought we might have to take down on mob, flee, then repeat until we could cope with the whole thing.  But with three of us we were able to handle the fight.

Battling with Roogug

A little bit of healing goes a long way in these situations.

With Roogug down I had the last piece of the quest.  But since we were down at the southern end of The Barrens in any case, we decided to extend our trip to pick up one final flight point.  We wanted to get the one at Thalanaar in Feralas at the edge of the Thousand Needles zone, which meant taking the Great Lift.

I had read/heard that with WoW Classic you could only see the positions of the cars of the Great Lift, but it didn’t really strike me until we got there.  The cars just don’t show up the way they did back in the day, no doubt due to the update client/server tech being used.

So we sat there for a bit and discussed possible options.  The two NPC guards mean you cannot just saunter up for a peek.  In the end I decided just to rush the ramp and see what I could see when I got to the end.  Worst case I would simply jump off.   I have done that before.

In running I picked up the near guard and, as I reached the end of the ramp, saw the elevator car just starting its descent, so I jumped for it… and sailed right over it and down to my death.

Viniki at the bottom of the lift

However Ula and Skronk, following on behind, were ignored by the guard as he ran back to his post, so were able to wait for the car to return and take it down to the floor of Thousand Needles.  Again, having a pally around for a ress came in handy.

Once restored we made our way to the east end of the zone to Thalanaar and collected the flight point.  From there we flew back to Stonetalon Peak to turn in that harpy quest that we had finished up, after which we were done.  I recalled back to Stormwind and turned in the quest and collected a nice new bit of armor.

Fire Hardened hauberk

This was another quest line I never did back in the day as I do not think I bothered rolling a warrior as an alt until Warlords of Draenor.  It was a chance to go back and experience something I had missed the first time around.

Wandering the Wailing Caverns

The Wailing Caverns felt like a bit of a let down for me.  I imagine this is largely because, for an Alliance player at least, it comes after the Deadmines in the order of instances run. And if you’re high enough level to get through the Deadmines then you’re likely past the point where WC is going to be a huge challenge.  They occupy similar spots in the level curve.

Wailing Caverns from the Outside

They also make for an odd compare and contrast when it comes to early Blizzard dungeon design.  They both share some similar features, like an open world area before the instance populated by elite mobs complete with its own quests.  But where the Deadmines is a very linear ride… you literally come in the front and exit out the back with no real way to go astray… WC is much more sprawling and open.  You can get lost in there.  You can also create an unrecoverable screw up of a run in there.

But that is all getting ahead of myself.  First you have to get WC, something I started thinking about once we decided to carry on so long as our subscriptions remained active.  We had done some groundwork previously on getting to The Barrens and Ratchet back when we did our run to Ragefire Chasm.  We took the time to get flight points along the way so as to ease our return.

And then we shook up the group so now three of the characters who went to Ragefire Chasm have been replaced by three new characters.  We did a bit or work on that as well, though the fact that my character, Viniki, had been to Ratchet via Theramore had slipped my mind.  The problem with juggling alts… and I have too many now… is that I cannot always keep clear who has done what.  And I was worried that I had not been there with Viniki because I took the boat from Menethil Harbor to Auberdine and got several discovery messages, meaning I hadn’t been there before.

So Saturday morning I got Viniki out and carried on from Auberdine, making the run from there to Astranaar and on into The Barrens where I discovered, upon opening up the map, that I had been to Ratchet already.  Still, I did pick up some flight points and with how classic works, you need some of those to get where you’re going.

I got myself to Ratchet, then decided to make sure I knew where WC even was.  I had a vague memory of it, but decided to explore a bit just to get it on the map.  No point in wandering in The Barrens as a group.  Fortunately I was able to stumble on it without too much effort.

Wailing Caverns, Ratchet, and the Crossroads

I didn’t recall it being quite so close to the Crossroads, but memory is a strange thing.  Then it was back to Ratchet to clear out my bags at the bank and hole up at the Inn for the night.  I knew Skronk could get there, and Obama as well.  They had both been out for Ragefire Chasm.  And with three of us around we could use Obama’s warlock summoning skill to bring Ula and Moronae to us.  I think Ula had made the run, but Moronae would need a summon or have to do it the hard way.  Fortunately Obama had a couple soul shards handy for the summoning.

Warlock utility in action

Gathered, we began the trot over to the instance across the very orange land that is The Barrens.

On our way through the big orange

Our group lineup for the run was as follows:

  • Ula – level 23 gnome mage
  • Viniki – level 22 gnome warrior
  • Skronk – level 21 dwarf priest
  • Obama – level 21 human warlock
  • Moronae – level 21 night elf druid

We grabbed the quests from outside the instance… they are in the left eye (as you face it) of the skull that forms the entrance to the the place.

We were all up a level or so from the Deadmines run the weekend before, which made most of the mobs in the caverns on the way to the instance, the foyer of WC I guess, gray to us.  Still, there was a bit of comedy to be had as I, running ahead of the group, fell into the hole in the final ramp that leads down to the instance.

Seriously, somebody should put up a sign

That never fails to get a laugh.

Once I got out of the hole, we carried on the few yards to the instance where things began in earnest.

I could probably write a detailed, blow by blow narrative of the trek through WC, but I am not sure it would be good for either you or I.  A run consists of a lot of fighting groups of two or three, with the local druids gone bad making up a good portion of the mobs.  Sleep is their theme, as they kept putting a sleep charm on people throughout the run.  But even with that things went okay.  Occasionally we had adds or a bad pull, but even six deep into the trash mobs we managed not to lose anybody.

Having looked up the instance before hand, I knew that the “correct” method was to go west, slaying the two bosses that way, Lady Anacondra and Lord Cobrahn.

Arriving at Lord Cobrahn

They both dropped leather items from the fang set, the belt and the leggings.  Since we only have Moronae who wears leather, he was doing pretty well for openers.

Then you loop back and head east to get into the meandering ways of the dungeon.

The path starts off easily enough.  We ran across Kresh, the turtle who drops a shield that would have been a huge upgrade for me.  But he can also drop a crap shield, and the crap shield is what we got.

Then the way begins to wander.  You get choices in direction and it is not always clear which way you should go.  I recall at some point being told to follow the mushrooms, that they would not steer you wrong.  But at one junction the mushrooms seemed to be going in the wrong direction, so went the other.  And that brought us to Lord Pythas, who looks like just another druid of the fang hanging out in a cave.  He too coughed up an item from the Fang set, our druid continuing to do very well for himself.

From there we had a few paths and both Skronk and I started looking at maps.  There was a momentary threat of wife/mom aggro again, so it seemed like expediting our travel might do us well.  However, WC is a very three dimensional instance and two dimensional maps are not always helpful.  We thought about simply bypassing Skum, the next boss.  However, it looked like we had to pass right by him in order to get to the big boss we needed, so we stopped to take him down.

Die rebel Skum

He dropped the glowing lizardscale cloak, which again seemed like a good druid item.

From Skum it looked like a straight path up to the two bosses at the end of the trail.  We were actually able to bypass some mobs along the way, WC caves being broad enough to just slip by some clusters at our level.  There was a moment of anxiety when we reached the part on the path where you have to jump over a gap in the path.  Everybody made it, but we could all imagine somebody falling and needing to be retrieved.

From there it was just up the path a ways to the big open platform.  At one end was Lord Serpentis, at the other Verdan the Everliving.

On the platform

Lord Serpentis has two mobs near him, but one of them wasn’t even close enough to be bothered to join the fight.  You can see the errant druid at the right side of the screen shot above.  Bringing down Lord S got us the savage trodders, a pair of mail boots that were actually an upgrade for me.

After that we turned to Verdan the Everliving, who is a very big boy indeed.  It was here that we had the most difficult fight.  Verdan isn’t complicated, he doesn’t have any special mechanics, but he does hit hard.  I had to use a heal potion not too far into the fight, which made me a bit nervous.  Later, looking at Recount stats, Verdan hit me for more damage than any other boss by a fair margin.  In fact, he hit me for 3% of the damage inflicted on me for the whole instance, and we fought a lot of mobs along the way.

In the end though, we brought him down.  He dropped the seedcloud buckler, which was a pretty big shield upgrade for me.  It is actually much better than the shield off of Kresh, though it doesn’t have the distinctive look that the turtle shield does.  Still, I was happy to get the upgrade.  We took a group shot at that point since there was some concern that wife/mom aggro might return unexpectedly.

Verdan down after the fight

From Verdan you then have to work your way back to the start of the instance to speak with the NPC, the Disciple of Naralex.  I think one of the reasons that WC brings up memories of drudgery is that back in the day, back in 2006, back during our first run, we turned around from Verdan and walked all the way back the way we came.  And that can be a long walk.

Had we poked around a bit back in 2006 we might have noticed the hole… another hole… in the floor well behind Verdan that drops through into a pool of water not far from where we set out, about where we ran into Kresh.  That shortens the way back considerably.  Fortunately, here in 2019, we had since learned about this exit and so took it directly.

Back at the entrance we found the Disciple of Naralex.  He doesn’t have a quest, which is an odd mechanic, but once you’ve slain the other bosses in the instance you can interact with him to start the big event of the dungeon.

Starting him on his way

This is an escort event… not a quest… which leads you around to the final boss.  Once we started it I remembered that the general no fail plan was to go clear out the path first, then go back and set him in motion because if he dies then the run is over.  You cannot revive him and restart the event, you have to reset the instance and start from scratch.

And the Disciple of Naralex has some of the usual quirks of NPCs being escorted.  He is more in the Sarah Oakheart category when it comes to speed, but with an annoying tendency to ignore mobs the group is fighting around him.  That means he keeps on going while you’re engaged, walking straight into the next group of completely obvious mobs just down the path.  We had him wander off a couple of times and at one point I had to run from the fight we were having to taunt mobs down the way off of him.

Clearing the path ahead of time is clearly the pro tactic.  However, we made it, leaving behind unlooted mobs in the scramble to keep him safe.  He gets down into the final room and starts his ceremony.

Cover me while I do some stuff

That brought us to the final stage of the event, which was actually shorter than I remembered it.  You get two waves of mobs coming at you before the final boss appears.

Mutanus Arrives as we stand amid the viscera of the opening acts

Mutanus has an extra powerful sleep charm he uses during the fight, one that cannot be broken by players, but other than having to wait down the timer on that, things went pretty smoothly.  Mutanus was down soon enough.  He dropped the Deep Fathom Ring, which had the casters all salivating.

And that was the end of that, instance complete.

We still had a bit to clean up afterwards.  There was the Trouble at the Docks quest, which has you looking for the goblin named Mad Magglish.  He spawns outside of the instance, in the elite area, even though the quest is flagged as WC.  But the outside counts as well.  He is also stealthed when he spawns, but we found his corpse in looking for him, so that gave us a clue as to where to camp him.

There were also the quests we had.  We only finished one of the pair from the left eye, and that one sent us back to Ratchet.  Once there Obama and Moronae signed off while Skronk, Ula, and I went to track down the final quest.  We had to head back out into The Barrens to find the final turn in.

Orange sunset over an orange land

One of the interesting things about The Barrens is that you can run all the way up a lot of the hills in the middle of the zone, something you may not even notice if you’re grown accustomed to the “hills are zone walls” methods common in the genre.

The final quest turn in ended up being in a house at the top of one of those hills.

Great view, but a long commute

And with that we were done for the day.

Only after the fact did I go back and check out my posts about our past runs through WC.  They were illuminating to some extent.

October 22, 2006 – We do the whole thing, but with only four players.  Earl was missing, so I am not ever sure who was the tank with a mage, priest, rogue, and warlock.  The voidwalker I guess.

November 19, 2009 – We return to the instance as part of our run on the Horde side.  We fail to clear the path for the disciple ahead of time and he dies, scrubbing the end of the run.

January 13, 2011 – We use the dungeon finder to transport our new all worgen (plus a gnome) group to see what changed for Cataclysm.  We earn the achievement, the guild achievement, and get a special prize for completing the instance.  Also, Kresh dropped his shell shield.  I have a screen shot.

Another round to add to our history with this dungeon.  It is interesting to see what I mention and what I don’t as time goes by.

Next on the list is Shadowfang Keep.  There is probably another travel adventure in that.

Deadmines Preparation and Some More Travel

While we knocked out our first instance, we still are not quite settled as a group.  After running Jeepy the mage in Ragefire Chasm, Bung wanted to try out a druid.  This led to something in a shift of who was playing what.

Basically, what I will call the “small council,” Skronk, Ula, and I, decided that going without a mage would be bad.  Not only is the mage arguably the best DPS in a group, but there is also a ton of utility that comes with a mage, from food to transport to crowd control.  We would feel naked without a mage.

So Scscla, our Ragefire Chasm tank, was sent to the bench as Ula the mage came in for the team.

That meant we needed tank and the feeling is that only a warrior will do.  Until Earl is settled… still in transition to Japan with most of his stuff still in a shipping container on a boat somewhere… I pulled out my fourth alt, Viniki the gnome warrior.  Poor Chad was going to be on the bench as well.  Too bad.  He was feeling like he had a personality to me.

The changes, in turn, meant making sure we were on the right path to the Deadmines in Westfall.  With five active alts having run into the zone I am now a bit hazy on who has been where.  Viniki, it turned out, was reasonably far along.  He was at the Defias messenger stage of the lead in, which meant standing around in Moonbrook until he popped.

Outside the blacksmith’s shop

The first time I did this I ran it from memory.  But my memory was from a less busy time, when there wasn’t something of a queue waiting to kill the messenger, so he would actually have time to wander up and down the road between Moonbrook and the quarry.

There is also a bunch of running back and forth, both to keep you busy as well as to introduce you to another zone, Redridge in this case, before you get back to Gryan Stoutmantle.  At that point you might find yourself in a bit of a pickle if you don’t read his quest text… or maybe even if you do.  He doesn’t give you another quest, he just tells you to go talk to somebody.  But, if you’re like me and it is the last quest you do in the evening before you log out, you might not get what you need to do next.

I had to go do that step with a second character to get the quest text, as once it is gone it is gone.

The Defias Traitor

That isn’t a lot to go on, especially since the Defias traitor is likely nowhere in sight.

Just hanging about Sentinel Hill, nothing special here

It is another quest, like the Defias messenger, where there is one NPC and if somebody else is using him you’ll have to wait your turn.  It just seems odd that Blizz didn’t put in a linking quest from Gryan to the traitor, just to remind you of what you need to do.  I mean, the traitor isn’t too far off.

There he is, back from another walk to the Deadmines

And he does have a quest available marker above his head.  But if you’re like me and you’ve done all the other quests you’ve been handed, your quest log might be empty when it comes to Westfall, and some of us older players need a reminder.

Ah well, Classic is as Classic does.

The plan was to get everybody to the Defias traitor, as that is the lead-in to the instance if I recall right, and you want to be on that quest chain because otherwise Gryan won’t shout out your name to the whole zone.

Having gotten that lined up, both Viniki and Ula needed to get a couple levels as the guild target was level 18 to go forward.  With Westfall pretty much done we headed to Loch Modan with Skronk’s hunter in tow, since Skronk was already set in levels.

It has long been my habit to run both the Stormwind and Ironforge quest zones, and Viniki has a a few on the list there while Ula had a mage class quest in the zone as well.  So we spent some time slaying troggs, finding all of the tools Bingles lost, getting supplies to Ironband’s expedition, which has that odd surprise aspect that triggers an event when you arrive at the quest target, and a few other items along the way.

Then, for kicks, we decided to visit the ogres.  There are a couple of quests flagged as “elite” that involve bagging some elite ogres for one and a named ogre for another.  As there were three of us, we figured we could give it a try.

Flushing ogre brutes out of a cave

It was one of those things that, for the three of us, a single elite ogre wasn’t so bad.  The brutes were a bit brutal, but the others were no big deal.   Pairs of them though… well, when the tank yells “run” you should run.

And then run back to where it all happened

If we had had Skronk the priest along for heals it would have been a walk over, but a tank and two DPS meant getting things done with only a lesser healing potion for backup if there were adds or other issues.  Only one death, but we were dissuaded from going after the named ogre without heals.

We decided to take the path across Stonewrought Dam to turn in the quest, which had us stumble across another quest.  This is the thing about WoW Classic, there are proto-quest hubs, but there are a lot of rogue quests just out and about as well.  This had us checking up on the Darkiron dwarves hanging about the dam, then sent us off to the Wetlands.  So, after turning things in, off we went, letting the game guide our adventure.

At levels 16-18 the Wetlands were not a problem, not for three of us anyway.  I wasn’t keen to go chasing herbs in the middle of the local orc camp that Skronk saw on tracking, but on the road we were fine.

True dat

We got the turn in for the dam quest, which sent us back to Loch Modan, but we had also picked up a quest along the way that sent us to Menethil Harbor.  Since two of us needed the flight point there anyway, it seemed like a good plan to just keep on running that way.  We could always fly back.

Across the Wetlands

At Menethil Harbor we picked up the flight point and turned in the quest, but also found another quest that sent us off to Theramore Island, the Alliance outpost on the eastern side of Kalimdor.  Well, the boat to Theramore was there, so why not keep on rolling?

Once there, we grabbed that flight point, turned in the quest, and then decided to see if the run to Ratchet from there was viable.  Going via Theramore was one of our possible routes to Orgrimmar for our Ragefire Chasm run.

Routes to Orgrimmar

We gave up on that route at level 13 as being too dangerous, but at 17 or so…  well, it was still pretty dangerous.  The mobs were still level “skull” to us, but so long as they picked on Viniki we seemed able to outrun their interest in us.  When they went after Ula though, things were less happy.

That did not go well

We were able to get through with just that one death, though we had to learn the lesson about just sticking to the road in the Dustwallow Marsh, as Ula tried to take a direct route as a ghost and ended up getting funneled the wrong way for a bit.  But we eventually arrived at the Shady Rest Inn, where the sign promised refreshments.

Viniki could go for a short beer

The inn itself however did not live up to the promise of the sign.

Not at all like the pictures on the Airbnb site

I especially like the skeleton against the tree, its skull pinned to the tree with a knife.

There is a quest that sends you to the Shady Rest Inn at some point, that shield on the chimney being part of it if I recall correctly.  But that is for later levels.  We were into The Barrens, just a simple run up to Ratchet.

That was when we were reminded just how big The Barrens really is.  This is a zone on the scale of a couple of the Karana zones in EverQuest.  There is a reason they split it into two distinct zones with Cataclysm.  Running from what was not nearly the southernmost point to Ratchet, which is well shy of the northern end, was a bit of a hoof.  We made it without incident, save for a level 24 hyena jumping us at the southern end of the run, and ran into Ratchet to pick up the flight point there and take the boat across again to Booty Bay.

The boat was pulling in just as we arrived… we missed it

Across the water in Booty Bay we picked up our last flight point for the day, rounding out another travel adventure.  However, on seeing the price of a flight from Booty Bay to Stormwind (6 silver? Am I made of coin?), we opted to use our hearthstone to return home.

Recalling from the roof

Viniki and Ula got far enough along to be in the zone for Deadmines and I was able to work on a bit of the warrior tanking skills.  The hope is to be able to run the instance this coming weekend.

And I still have to get back to Stonewrought Dam to finish off that quest line that sent us off across the world.

The Journey to Orgrimmar and Ragefire Chasm

It could be a three-parter, called ‘Ruler of the Bracelet’. The first part would be called ‘The Brotherhood of the Bracelet’, followed by ‘A Couple of Towers’, with the climactic ending called ‘Hey, the King’s Back!

-The end of the best joke from the /silly command

Like the vision in that joke, this too will be a three-parter, largely because I started writing about the beginning before we had reached the end, and the end ended up being further down the road… both in time, events, and words written… than I expected.  But it all started with a plan.

Yes, we had a plan.

It was a flawed plan, based on incorrect information, assumptions, and some blind optimism, but it was a plan none the less.

In its most simple form, the plan was to get together and run the Ragefire Chasm instance.

We were still fumbling to get ourselves organized, and Earl was still getting set up in Japan, but we were also getting a little tired of just hanging around, working on alts, and holding ourselves back to the first half of Westfall so as not to get to strung out in levels.

In that regard Ragefire Chasm has an advantage.  In the ranking of dungeons by level RFC, as I will call it from now on, comes in before the Deadmines, being rated for levels 13-18.  We figured we could get in and do that and not spoil the level spread.  So I put up a a target in the guild MOTD for people to be levels 13-14 in anticipation of running RFC this past weekend.

That was the simple plan.  The actual requirement to accomplish this was somewhat more complex.

RFC is in Orgrimmar, a Horde city, home of the Orcs and Trolls.  RFC is located fairly deep in Orgrimmar, so getting there is a challenge… and all the more so if you want to get there at level 14 or so.  Still, we had done it before so naturally assumed we could do it again.  Piece of cake, details to be worked out later.  The target to do this was this past Saturday.

Skronk, Ula, and I were on early to start scouting things out.  One of the items that came to mind the night before was one we had overlooked up to that point.  How do we get to Orgrimmar?

A bit of discussion shook out three possible routes.

Routes to Orgrimmar

We were starting from Stormwind, and the first that came to mind was to take the boat from Booty Bay to Ratchet on Kalimdor.  From there is it just a short run up to Orgrimmar.  The problem is that getting to Booty Bay requires running/swimming the length of Stranglethorn Vale.  At levels 13-16, the level range of possible characters in our guild, that was going to be tough.  Not impossible, but the likelihood of dying a few times was high.

The second option was to take the boat from Menethil Harbor over to Theramore.  The run from Theramore to Orgimmar is about twice that of the run from Ratchet, but that still isn’t all that far.  That had two obstacles.   First, there is the need to do the reverse Wetlands run to get to Menethil Harbor.  That isn’t so bad at our levels and once you get there you get the flight point that connects to Ironforge, so you need never do it again.  The second problem was the run through Theramore, which is a higher level zone that Stranglethorn Vale, which to my mind made it more problematic that the first plan.

After hashing those out for a bit, the third route was hatched, to take the boat from Menethil Harbor to Auberdine in Darkshore and run the length of Darkshore, then through Ashenvale, into the Barrens, and finally to Orgrimmar.  That had the Wetlands run again, but as I said you only have to do that once.  But it also had the longest run through Kalimdor, much further than the other two options.  However, I figured it was also the safest.  Darkshore is about Westfall in level range, and Ashenvale is the next zone after that, so not a big jump in levels.  Plus, Ashenvale feeds Alliance players in at one end and Horde players in at the other, so the lowest level mobs are at the ends, with the high levels spread out across the middle, reducing exposure.

While nobody was happy about the longer run, it did seem the most viable path.  We set about scouting it.  Ula and Skronk made the run to Menethil Harbor and then took the boat to Auberdine, taking a side trip to search out a quest for a staff for Ula.

I chose my character for the venture.  Having had another week go by I had run up another alt.  This time I rolled up a human rogue on something of a whim, giving me one each of all the non-cloth caster classes for the Alliance.  I named him Chadwicke, looking for some variation on “Chad” I could roll with, since rogues have something of a reputation so I thought I might play on that with some of the “Virgin vs. Chad” meme stuff.

Honestly, the real reason I made a rogue was that we got a couple of the Defias mask drops in Westfall last week, which is about the first bit of head gear you can get in WoW.  There aren’t many options until about level 26 or so.  For whatever reason, I wanted to wear that mask, but it is rogue only and bind on pickup.  So I had to roll up a rogue to get one.  And once I had one I was in the level range of the group.

Chad Masked

I wasn’t too sure how far I was going to go with Chad.  Rogues have been problematic for me in the past.  But once I did his class quest at level 10 and trained him into dual wield he was destroying mobs one on one. (I was doing that during the Reavers entosis op at one point.)  That sold him for me, so I decided he should go on the run to RFC.

I stripped him down… you put all your gear in your bags to keep them from being damaged if you die, and this trip was going to see a lot of deaths I figured, so I was down to my skivvies the whole way… and sent him on his way through Loch Modan and through the Wetlands, a run made easier by his rogue abilities.

I’ll just stealth by that orc thank you

He was into the Wetlands and on his way, saying the tagline I had picked out for him, for which I made a macro.

Roll on brother Chad

That won’t get old I am sure.

He made it to Menethils Harbor without incident and was soon waiting on the dock for the boat to Auberdine.

Mask bros at the dock

I took the boat, passed by Ula and Skronk, who were headed over to Darnassus as part of a quest or something, and started the run to Orgrimmar.

Darkshore is, as the name implies, rather dark, but the sun began to shine through once Chad made it to Ashenvale.

Sunny days again for Chad

Ashenvale was a hoof, but there wasn’t much in the way of danger.  There were a few ?? mobs off in the distance, but nothing came to get me.  I picked up the flight point at Anastaar, then realized I had forgotten to get the one at Auberdine.  Something to go back for later.  I just stuck to the roads and followed the signs.

This must be the way

Once you get to the boarder between Ashenvale and The Barrens, the road veers right and leads straight into a Horde fortification with guards and such.  Dangerous stuff for a low level Alliance player.

Horde customs and immigration check point

Fortunately, there is an obvious path off to the left that leads to a hole in the ramparts.

They built a wall and tried to make the Alliance pay for it

From there I just cut across The Barrens towards Durotar… dying once because I got a mob on me and forgot I was without my gear… running up to the back door of Orgrimmar, which is across a bridge over the Southfury River.

Bridge to Orgrimmar

Up until that point, everything had been going great.  We had been on for a couple of hours, Bung and his son were set to log in and join us to round out the group.  Ula was swapping out to her warrior alt Scscla to tank for us, Skronk was a dedicated holy priest set to heal, and Chad was there to help DPS.  We just had to get everybody out to where I was to begin the assault on Orgrimmar.

That is the topic for tomorrow’s post.

The Crossroads is NOT Under Attack!

It is understandable that the quest path I have been following since our return to Azeroth has been new.  Cataclysm revamped much of the old 1-60 zones, with only the Blood Elf and Dranei starter zones from The Burning Crusade remaining relatively untouched. (Are they still no fly zones?)

And. of course, that has been part of the point of returning to the game, to play through newer content.  So from Pandaria, if you choose Horde, the big quest board points you at Azshara.

I just go where the board tells me

I just go where the board tells me

Azshara follows the pattern of zones from Cataclysm, where there is a zone-wide store which the quest chain guides you through.  Azshara itself was changed pretty dramatically with Cataclysm.  Previously it was a zone that I think most people spent very little time running through.  I seem to recall there being a hunter class quest in the zone and that being the reason I went there in the past.  While there were other quests there, I recall it being a somewhat barren and sparsely populated place.

Then, with Cataclysm, the Goblins moved in and changed the zone.  That included installing their own transit infrastructure.

Riding the rocketway

Riding the rocketway

The Goblins have left their mark on the zone, though given its previous state, it is hard to object to most of the changes.

The bust might be too much

The bust might be too much

The quest chain through the zone is fun in that “Gnome/Goblin inventions gone awry” sort of way.

So mechs are involved

So mechs are involved

And while it was clearly designed to be solo friendly, it isn’t as completely single player absorbed as Redridge ended up after Cataclysm.  You could run Azshara with a friend or in a small group and feel as though you were being unduly punished.  In fact, grouping up to diminish your xp intake might be the only way to get through the zone before the quests start going gray on you.  I was at 60 of 100 quests done for the zone achievement when the big board was telling me to move on to Ashenvale, the next stop on the trip.

I was debating the idea of making it to the end when my daughter declared for Ashenvale and so we headed that direction.  That seems to be a common choice, given the number of Pandas I saw running around later with the quest related, no stats wizard hat you get at one hub in Azshara.

The flight master will send you there directly if you have the “go to” quest from the big board, but I decided to run there on foot as I had some other plans.

First, I wanted to catch up on some harvesting along the way.  I chose mining and herbalism with the idea of just selling the raw materials on the market.  Herbalism seemed to be quite popular though, so herbs were scarce and I fell behind on that relative to mining.

Second, I wanted a new pet.  While I liked the model for the tiger from the Panda starting zone, I have never really liked cats as hunter pets.  Their special ability is ‘prowl,’ which I find more annoying than useful, so I decided to upgrade to a hyena.  And, according to Petopia, hyenas were available along the way to Ashenvale in the Northern Barrens.

Finding my perfect pet

Finding my perfect pet

And I had a pet battle rendezvous in the area as well.

At the sign of the green paw

At the sign of the green paw

What I did not expect to find was The Crossroads.

Or, rather, The Crossroads sitting there, empty and pretty much unchanged from the last time I was there back in… whenever that was pre-Cataclysm.

The Crossroads still stands

The Crossroads still stands

Blizzard appears to have solved the “Barrens chat” issue by simply making The Barrens a place you do not really play in any more.

But The Crossroads is still there.  The flight point is there.  The buildings still stands as they always have.  The quests givers are all standing around, ready to hand you the quests the same quests they were handing out five and more years back.  It is just very quiet.  The Cataclysm quest path sends you to Azshara and, once you are done there and are headed to Ashenvale, the quests at The Crossroads are probably too low level to bother with.

And given that so much around that area has changed… the South Barrens is on the other side of a fissure, the route to the Stonetalon Mountains has changes, the northern end of the zone has seen some updates, there is the new Ashenvale experience (another zone I never really liked, so change there was fine by me), and the the link with Durotar having been flooded out… I wonder how much questing you can do before you run into a dead end.

But if you want to try, the starting quests are still there.  There isn’t much competition for the mobs.

Flying back to The Crossroads

Flying back to The Crossroads

And you will be left alone.  Nobody seems to be attacking The Crossroads any more.  That used to be the constant refrain on the local defense channel on a Saturday night, “The Crossroads is under attack!”

A Fissure Through The Heart of Chuck Norris

The Barrens.

Home to Ratchet, the Crossroads, and every Chuck Norris joke known to man.

Our Cataclysm Beta correspondent spent some time (under duress) taking some screen shots of the giant crack that has torn the Barrens asunder.

I am waiting for the best Chuck Norris joke that explains how it happened.

The molten crack and the invading jungle

Maybe this will keep the Alliance out of the Crossroads

Lake on the edge of the fissure

Staring into the crack

Trees on the edge

A contrast of green and orange

As always, clicking on any of these pictures will display them in their full glory.