Tag Archives: Borean Tundra

The Persistent Death Knight in Northrend

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, my Death Knight, Irondam, has become my main “level through the game and see all the things” character.  There are some advantages to having a DK in that roll.

This is why they had to give us that water mount in Pandaria

One of the aspects of him being in that role is that I have held him to finishing up the main quest lines to the point of getting the quest achievement for each of the zones he has worked his way through.

You don’t have to do ALL the quests in a zone for the achievement, but you end up doing most of them, usually leaving off the group quests, and the total rings up at a hundred or so for some of the zones.  So, while he has gotten himself to 75, he has really only worked in three zones so far.  They are:

Borean Tundra

This is kind of the lesser of the two starting zones.  It certainly feels like the zone where you should start if you’re running into the Northrend at level 68… like I did with four characters.

Welcome to Borean Tundra

There is a lot going on with the Borean Tundra map and you run into a few different groups, each with their own sets of quest lines.  With each little area pretty much sticking to itself and the various story threads not really intertwining, the place feels like a bit of a patchwork.  That isn’t bad, but aside from Coldarra perhaps you don’t come out of it feeling like “well, there was a story!”

I mean, there are stories there, some even related to the main thread of the expansion.  But they are a bit jumbled together.  Mostly it feels like the zone you show up in dressed from the last expansion and leave with all your gear updated to a new look and an appreciation into how to play your class.

I made my way through and didn’t have any problem finding enough quests to get the achievement.

So you say

It has its moments, but isn’t as memorable as later locations.

Howling Fjrod

While you can start in Howling Fjord, unless you’re in a hurry to get to the first dungeon, there isn’t a lot of advantage to it.

Welcome to the Fjord

Having played through both the start of Borean Tundra and Howling Fjord on three of four characters, you don’t get any especially different gear.  I sent my hunter over there hoping to get a gun rather than the bow that is the first ranged weapon in the tundra quest chain, but found myself offered a crossbow instead.  There is a gun further down the line in Howling Fjord, but there is also one in Borean Tundra, so whatever.

And the initial quests are a bit of a trial.  They aren’t hard, just kind of a pain and maybe a bit opaque in description.  But you have to run back and forth through a gauntlet of mobs to keep reporting back in.

Once you get through that though and out of the pit that is Valgarde, it is also where you start getting into some of the meat of the story as well as getting to experience the new vehicle mechanics that Blizz introduced.  You are flying around in planes, playing sky crane with a helicopter, shooting harpoons at dragon riders, and riding a flaming harpoon across the Fjord.

Never did this in Outland

There are also some goofy mechanics and some quests with rather unhelpful descriptions that kind of just assume you’re going to go look it up I guess, because I had to in the end.  Still, I made it through without having to beat the bushes for additional quests.

I've been all over

I’ve been all over

I am glad I started into the expansion at 68, because even though those first two levels were quick, they did burn off a layer of quests so that Irondam didn’t get ahead of them too far in levels.

Both of those zones converge into Dragonblight.

Dragonblight

These feels like the zone that Blizz said, “Here, here is where we will dig into the story and play with some of our new ideas.

Dragonblight in the middle

It is also where you run into many more quests with some dubious quest text descriptions.  Also, there is the whole Winterguard Keep series of quests where you have to run back and forth through fields of mobs to get to various quest objectives.  It isn’t too bad if you steer your mount around things, but err in that and get dismounted and you end up having to take down the half dozen mobs that were most recently chasing you.  Again, DK for the win with just enough self healing to keep going.  My druid would have been toast.

But it is also story time and in a big way.  It is here, in Dragonblight, that the devs are suddenly ready to tell you all about Arthas and his army and how he gave into his need for revenge at any cost.  You see his ghostly army still haunting the shores where they landed.  You also follow a vision of Arthas as he picks up a handy sword he found just sitting in a cave.

Frostmourne? Cool name for a cool sword

And then there is the foreshadowing event at the Wrathgate, where you get a cinematic in the middle of a zone that includes the steamiest chemistry between two WoW characters outside of the Goldshire Inn.

Get a room you two!

The Wrathgate is a big enough deal that you get an achievement for just being there to see the cinematic.

Veteran of the tour, in anyway case

But as I wound up the various quest lines, I found myself coming up nearly 20 short of the 115 quests needed for the zone achievement.  Eventually I ran down one quest that sent me to Stormwind to the king who had Jaina portal me around and then we ended up outside of the Undercity, ready to run in and figure out who was behind… something… I sort of lost the thread of the tale as I was trying to keep up.

Anyway, you’re outside the Undercity with the king, ready to attack.

Whenever you’re ready Varian

This was actually a bit of a slog, not helped by the vague quest description, the need to wait around for five minutes before anything happens, and the ongoing fights where you’ve been given a buff so you likely won’t die unless you AFK, but is just one empty fight after another until you reach the guy at the end deep in the Undercity for one last big fight.

Then the king sends you back to Dragonblight and you get a reward with a serious gear upgrade, and an easy dozen or more quests because the whole event is a series of short milestone quests.

After that I was still a couple of quests shy of the mark, but realized I hadn’t done any of the quests in Mo’kai harbor yet.  So I flew down there and was soon over the mark.

It is quite a fright, especially at night

A lot of the quests I recognized, though I have no memory of that assault on the Undercity.  But it was both a discreet and slightly dull event, so maybe my memory just let go of that one.

That put me ready for the next zone.  I wasn’t sure whether Sholazar Basin or Grizzly Hills was the right choice, but I was closer to the latter and had picked up the flight point from that one quest in Winterguard Keep that basically throws you on a bird and flies you there without warning the moment you accept it.  So that is where I am headed next.  I don’t remember much about it, besides some bees or something and maybe chasing a heard of horses.  I guess I’ll see when I get there.

On the Beach in Borean Tundra

The Saturday after Wrath Classic launched we were able to get the whole group together at Valliance Keep in Borean Tundra for our first group venture into the expansion.

Actually on the beach

Strictly speaking we were not doing anything that was really a group activity.  It was more of an attempt to get us all aligned and pointed in the same direction on the right path and maybe a bit of a teamwork exercise.  And it was a chance to dig into the new zone… or old zone.

Borean Tundra so far

So our group on that first day of October was:

Not everybody was there when I took this

Long time readers and astute observers of the blog my notice that there are five names on that list, rather than the usual four that we had been running with since we were not too far into WoW Classic a couple of years back.

Running into Prince Keleseth in the Death Knight starter area reminded us that the very first dungeon, Valgarde Keep, features him as a boss, and his was a fight that nearly broke the group back in 2008.

As Cataclysm is the point where the “classic” era of WoW fully ends, the Prince Keleseth fight was where we as a group finally had to stop half-assing our runs and actually learn to play our classes.

I’m not sure how we got through so much of Outland the way we were playing, but back in vanilla things were loosey-goosey enough that you could get away with all sorts of odd groups and still power through.

Anyway, that got us discussing how to fill the empty slot in our group.  This is where not having the dungeon finder in Wrath Classic comes back to bite us, because the easiest solution would be to just use that to fill the DPS slot and wing it.

Alas, no dungeon finder… nor any pals who played with us previously.  It is not that we’re against making new friends, but we’re kind of a tight knit group who all know each other IRL and who play together as a group for maybe three hours at some random, last minute time frame on any given weekend, so we would be annoying to try to group with.  We all have different and often shifting play time budgets.

Among the possible solutions came the idea of somebody running an alt, some form of ranged DPS that could put out some damage without needing constant rotation attention.  So Potshot stepped up, created a second account, rolled a survival hunter, and boosted him to level 70… which made him the highest level character in the guild when he did it.

Some of us have too many alts already.

Anyway, how that will fare has yet to be determined.  It certainly would have been easier before Blizz banned broadcast inputs and broke all the remote control addons.

But it was our chance to try to stay together as a group of five and to learn about our classes a bit since the big pre-patch re-spec.

One of the first new items was Beanpole’s healthstone dispenser, which you have to summon as a group.

Summoning the dispenser

We ran around, getting everybody together and onto the same quests, which meant some of us running back into town to do some remedial work.

Hi, my friends spoke to you earlier…

We ended up all on the first of the Farshire quests which, ironically, is just outside of the keep, so not very far at all.  We managed to rumble through that series of quests together, only occasionally losing Bjorid as we got used to having an alt along.

Beanpole had to go after that… as I said, our play time budget is not very consistent… so the rest of us carried on, heading down to the beach at Riplash Strand, which might be the very first place you run into phasing as it was introduced in Wrath.

You stand talking to the quest giver in the normal tundra, then as you walk down onto the beach you phase into the mist shrouded area that the Kvaldir are running all over.

Me doing my Mage impression in the mists of Riplash Strand

That was a bit of a pain because, while it is annoying that you can see people in your party when the phase onto or off of the beach… even when they are literally just a few feet from you… phasing also appears to break follow, so it was a bit of a pain every time Bjorid had to cross the line.  And you have to do that a few times.

Some swimming was also involved.

In the chilly waters

Swimming does not dismount you in Wrath either.  I am learning about a lot of changes I had forgotten about.

We did that, made our way around to Amber Ledge, did that quest line, got the flight point at Coldarra, then went back and did some other quests near Amber Ledge before calling it.  The D.E.T.A. quest givers were also nearby, but you need to be level 70 to get on that quest chain and we were just pulling up through 69 still.

On Sunday we found some more time in the afternoon.  At that time I had my Death Knight out and decided to see if I could quickly catch up to where Beanpole had left off, so I ran through many of the same quests.

The other, other group

After getting him through Farshire, Beanpole and I ran down and did the Riplash Strand quests.

I wanted to get Irondam caught up because I am considering swapping my pally out for him as the group tank.

So Beanpole and Irondam caught up and the whole group ran together again to do some more quests.

During that time there was a question about what the DK brings to the group.  The pally gets a lot of buffs and healing as a tank.  The DK, with the right spec, gets a lot of its own powerful self-heals.  New classes are always OP.  If they weren’t we wouldn’t all play them.  But he doesn’t get auras or other party buffs.

He does, however, get path of frost, which I got to demonstrate was a group buff of its own utility.

Riding on water

Now, how useful will that be when we’re in a dungeon is certainly a question to be asked.  But we’re not close to a dungeon yet.  In fact, that first dungeon, Utgarde Keep, is on the other side of Northrend, in the other starter zone.

We’ll have move on over there before we test ourselves against Prince Keleseth again.

Coming to Northrend with the Wrong Weapon

While I was getting my two lagging alts to Northrend, I also had two characters ready to go.  They were level 68 and it was time for them to start in on the new old expansion… or old new expansion… or Wrath Classic.

They had already been there on day one.  My paladin made it into Borean Tundra on the first boat.

First view of Northrend

I didn’t do much immediately.  The crowd was washing through town and the first few quests like the annual flood of the Nile.  It was probably best to just stand back and let the tide subside.

However, I didn’t wait too long and came back later that evening when things were a little more calm to get started on the first few quests to get those first, all important, gear upgrades.

Yes, people bitch all the time about the fact that your gear essentially resets with each new expansion, that those first green quest rewards and drops will be better that the purple raid gear you may have been sporting as you arrived.  I mean, I know I have complained about it.

But it is also invigorating, this great gear leveling.  For a very brief time the top tier raiders and the half-assed scrubs like myself will be using the same items.

Of those gear upgrades the one I am always the most interested in is that first weapon.  There is nothing like a huge boost in your damage output to make you feel good.  Yes, that tends to be more of melee DPS thing, but that is where I live.  So I got through the first couple of quests, finished the one that had a weapon reward for completion.

And the one I could use was a one handed mace.  The Soldier’s Spiked Mace to be specific, which is actually a nice looking, if brutal, weapon.

Fine, right?  I am a protection pally, a one handed mace should be good, right?

Except that I spent most of original WoW Classic as retribution paladin, only swapping over to protection as we neared level 60, taking over for Viniki, my warrior, who had been the group tank for most of that run.

And once my pally became the tank, he apparently only used a one handed sword for his limited career in Outland, because my one handed mace skill was 55 out of a possible 340 at level 68.

So it was out onto the beach for remedial weapons training.  I picked on some of the close by mobs and just sat there swinging my weapon, doing very little damage if any, as my skill counter ticked up one point at a time.

Fortunately, being a paladin, I was in no real danger of dying.  I would just heal myself now and then.  If I got low on mana I would use a few spells to finish off a mob then go eat and drink to refill, starting over once more when refreshed.

My biggest problem was people seeing I was having trouble slaying a mob and coming along to help me.  The crowd on Bloodsail Buccaneers is very nice… expect for that line cutting Poncho!  I had to keep telling people I was training up a skill.

Not in trouble, just working on a skill with my quest

Eventually, as the skill points climbed up, I reached a point where I was killing mobs the same day I started attacking them and things settled down and I felt I was able to take on Northrend… or at least Borean Tundra.

But I had noted that on the list of weapons for that quest, the ranged hunter option was a bow.  My dwarf hunter has run with a gun since day one of WoW Classic, as any self-respecting dwarf would.

So, having seen that, when it came time for him to head to Northrend I flew him to Menethil Harbor so he could take the boat to Howling Fjord.

The boat at the dock in Howling Fjord

He wasn’t going to use a bow, so maybe he would have better luck at the other end of Northrend.

Off the boat and into the first quests he got his options for a first weapon… and the hunter choice was a crossbow.

Well, all melee weapons are hunter weapons, so I took the two hander they were offering, but will have to wait for a drop or a later quest in order to get him the weapon upgrade he really wants.

I did, however, luck out with my two late comers to Northrend.  The initial weapon quest rewards had a two handed sword and a feral druid compatible staff, so they were set.  In the end it was only my hunter left out in the cold.