Tag Archives: Caverns of Time

Caverns of Time and the Botanica

Another foursie group on Saturday night sent us back to the Outlands for a bit more instance backfilling while Earl got some rest.  It is tough to blame him for missing once in a while since we start playing at midnight his time every Saturday.  He’s the young guy in the group, but nobody stays young forever.

So that left the Left Coast Quartet to carry on:

76 Priest – Skronk
76 Warlock – Bungholio
77 Mage – Ula
77 Paladin – Vikund

A check of the Instances by Level list showed that Shattered Halls was the next instance in our queue.  But it also requires a key which has a quest chain behind it which we have not yet run down.  Wanting to get straight to the action, we moved on to the next instance, The Caverns of Time: Opening the Dark Portal, also know by its location, the Black Morass.

I suppose this wasn’t exactly going back to the Outlands since the Caverns of Time are in Tanaris.  But it is Burning Crusade content.

We had been to the Caverns of Time on more than a couple of occasions, so we knew how to get there.  We did not, however, do any reading up front so were not sure how things were going to play out.

We grabbed a quest for the instance on the way in, found the right instance swirl, and then spent 10 minutes trying to get in.  We were back to the old “Additional instances cannot be launched, please try again later” routine, only it seemed to be worse than usual.  A busy night for instances I guess. Eventually though Blizzard relented and let us in.

Once in, we spoke to the quest mob at the door… he must have been the butler… and then headed towards a likely looking portal thing we could see in the middle distance.

There we spoke to a guy named Medivh who said something that essentially seemed to mean, “Cover me!”  We stood around for a minute or so, waiting for something to happen. Then some dragonkin began wandering in from one of the flanks.  We killed them while looking for the source.  There was a swirl in the air and a mob called a “Rift Keeper” standing next to it, so we figured that must be the target.

Upon killing him, a counter at the top of our screens incremented.  It seemed that we would be doing this at least 17 more times since we had just advanced to 2 of 18.

It turned out that at every sixth rift came with a boss.  We did well enough against the first one but had a rough go with the second, with Bung and Vikund getting killed.  Fortunately there is a fairly long delay after each of the bosses, so Skronk was able to bring us back before the next rift came along.

Rift Count and Shield Status

Rift Count and Shield Status

Back up we got through the next six battles including the last boss and… well… we were done.  Achievement.


There we were, standing before the portal.  A host of orcs came wandering through, but they turned around and left.  I would have too, the place was a dump.  But when we tried to follow them, we just ended up at the backside of the portal.

Defective Portal

Defective Portal

Out of that the only look worth mentioning is the Mask of Inner Fire, which dropped off of the first boss.  And the only reason it is worth a mention is because it just looks cool.  Vikund won the roll for it and I am keeping it as part of his ever growing hat collection.

The Mask of Inner Fire!

The Mask of Inner Fire!

That done, it was still early for us, so we decided to go for two.  Ula opened a portal to Shattrath for us, and while we were there, it was decided that those who did not have the Going Down? achievement should pick it up.

I showed everybody where I had done it, jumping of the Scryers area and landing on an awning below.  It turned out though that only Ula was missing that achievement, so it was gnome free fall time.  Unfortunately she missed the awning.  Twice.

Ballistic Gnome

Ballistic Gnome

And then when she did hit the awning, she didn’t get the achievement.  So, once we stopped laughing (you should have seen her bounce off of that structure in the picture above) we decided to shelve that achievement for the time being and move on to the Botanica wing of Tempest Keep.

The Botanica did not turn out to be that hard for our group of four.  We hand’t picked up any of the quests for the instance, so we just burned our way through to Warp Splinter, the final boss, without slowing down.  There were four bosses in before him, but none were that tough.  We’ll have to go back and do this one in Heroic mode at some point.

Warp Splint and his minions in the last fight faded before our damage and soon another achievement was ours.

The loot, just for Coppertopper, was:


And that brought us to the end of the evening.  We just had to take our traditional victory shot.

Warp Splinter Down

Warp Splinter Down

This coming weekend, if we’re all available, it will be time for Violet Hold.

Escape from Durnholde Keep – Round 3

Once more back in time on a Saturday night to try to rescue Thrall and finish up the Escape from Durnholde Keep.  Our line up for the night was:

70 Warlock – Bungholio
70 Warrior – Earlthecat
70 Priest – Skronk
70 Mage – Ula
70 Paladin – Vikund

I have been listing our levels in every post about the group as a method of recording our progress.  For the first time since we began the instance group and did our first run, nearly two years ago, we were all at the level cap.  Even at our slow pace we have caught up with Blizzard.

So back to Tanaris, back to the Caverns of Time, back to the Old Hillsbrad Foothills, and back to Durnholde Keep.

Last time around we had it going on until the last fight and would have been done completely but for releasing from death too soon.

This time around we started off well again, feeling confident after the last run.  We blew through, set fire to the barracks, killed Lt. Drake (who dropped Uther’s Ceremonial Warboots for the third time running), made our way into the keep, released Thrall, fought our way back out, and defeated Captain Skarloc (who coughed up Durotan’s Battle Harness for Earl), finally coming to rest at the first waypoint in the set of encounters.

Skarloc Victory Party - Now With Totems

Skarloc Victory Party - Now With Totems

Then it was time to mount up and blaze through the next set of encounters.  I remembered to catch the “second horse” that appears when Thrall mounts up.

Thrall 'Two Mounts' Jackson

Thrall "two mounts" Jackson

We rode off, fought the battle of the stable and the battle of the altar without issue, and were thus again lined up for that final encounter with the Epoch Hunter.

Our first run did not go so good.  We got a bit too spread out and wiped before we even done with the Epoch Hunter’s minions.  As luck would have it, the soul stone expired during the fight, so we had to release and run back.

In place again, we started off, doing much better until the last set of minions when Bung went down.  We finished off the group and Bung got a quick ress, and then it was in to the Epoch Hunter fight.

It was not one of our more well executed battles.

The Epoch Hunter’s “Impending Doom” DOT made things difficult and soon we were starting to fade.  Earl went down and we began to despair.  Then Vikund, then Skronk, then Bung went down.  Only UIa was left.

She summoned her ice elemental minion and roared into the attack.  We had the Epoch Hunter down to just a couple percent of health, and Ula carried it through to victory.

Ula Survives!

Ula Survives!

The Epoch Hunter was down.  Skronk used the soul stone to revive, then ressed the rest of us.  The quest updated, we turned it in to Erozion as quickly as possible, lest some other complication arise, and stood for the victory picture.

Mission Accomplished!

Mission Accomplished!

And so we were done at last.  Thrall can get on with his life and we can get on with ours.

Of course, all that running through the instance meant that some of us were honored with the Keepers of Time.

This required a side trip to the faction vendor in the Caverns of Time to see what goodies were available to us.  Vikund picked out the Crusader’s Ornamented Chestplate, a decent upgrade from his old chest armor.

And now we have to decide what to do this coming weekend.  Should we stick with the Keepers of Time, now that we’re well into honored and some of us are drooling over a bit of the revered equipment, and see what is behind Dark Portal #1, should we head over to Auchindoun and the Sethekk Halls, should it be back to Coilfang Reservoir and the Steam Vault?

Escape from Durnholde Keep – Round 2

So there we were again in Tanaris on a Saturday night.  With no cage match scheduled in Gadgetzan, we headed off to the Caverns of Time to fulfill the destiny of some orc named Thrall. (No, I’m not big on the Warcraft lore when it comes right down to it, at least not the Horde side.)

Assembled for the evening’s fun were:

69 Warrior – Earlthecat
69 Mage – Ula
69 Paladin – Vikund
70 Priest – Skronk
70 Warlock – Bungholio

Our last trip to Hillsbrad Foothills of seven years ago was something of a fiasco.  We were not working well as a team and our tactics, relative to our specs, were questionable.

The first thing we did was reverse the great respec we did a few weeks back, with Skronk changing from shadow back to holy and Vikund giving up retribution for protection again.

While those changes worked well against Exarch Maladaar, it did go against the group dynamic we had built up since I substituted Vikund the paladin in for Blintz the rogue way back in January 2007 when we were doing Razorfen Downs.

Then Bung followed one of the suggestions given after our last run at Durnholde Keep, which was to drop the voidwalker and use his succubus pet.  That gave us additional do crowd control using succubus seduction skill, plus provided and an endless stream of humorous quips from the succubus.

And, finally, there was the thing that I am sure made the real difference in our attempt this time.  Vikund went out and got himself a big piece of wood with a nail through it.

I call it "splinter"

I call it 'splinter'

Look at that thing.  Buford Pusser would be proud!

Anyway, we headed back in time and were soon standing before the keep.

This again...

This again...

The first group of four we went after was a little bit rough.  Skronk bought the farm.  But after that we seemed to hit our stride pretty quickly.  We plowed through the barracks area and took down Lt. Drake in no time.

Can I pry that sword from his cold, dead fingers?

Can I pry that sword from his cold, dead fingers?

Then, the barracks ablaze as a distraction, we headed into the keep itself, clearing a path to Thrall.

Now the challenge would come.  It is one thing to fight groups of four at your leisure, but to get them one after another proved a tough task last time.

With Thrall in the lead, we started out.

There was a little bit of confusion at first.  Since the encounters keep coming, there is no time to stop and pick who Ula is going to take out of play and who Bung is going to tackle, so the first group of four spent a bit of extra time beating on us before things got straightened out.  Vikund helped this process along by running ahead with Thrall while the casters were taking a quick drink to call out the potential targets.  With that, things went well.

We made it to the Captain Skarloc fight and, despite a bit of running about and getting focused on the right target, we took him down as well.  No deaths.  So there we were with Thrall at the gates to the keep again, this time victorious on our first try.

Together again in victory!

Together again in victory!

Skarloc was nice enough to drop a shiny new axe for Earl, the Amani Venom-Axe.

Go with the glow!

Go with the glow!

Not as good as a board with a nail through it, but it will do.

We rested up, got on our mounts, then sent Thrall along to the next stage, with us in tow.

A few easy fights and soon we were ready for the last set of encounters.  Again, more prepared than last week, we sliced through all three of them without issue.

Which left us with the Epoch Hunter.

A tough fight it was too.  Bouncing back from his minions, Earl grabbed aggro and we went to work.  The Epoch Hunter has a nasty damage over time attack that he spreads around, which is what killed Skronk.

Vikund fell back to heal and Bung went down as well.

By that point though, the fight was very close to victory.  Skronk used our soul stone, revived, and took up healing again just in time, as Vikund went down.

Finally, the Epoch Hunter was slain, but not before hitting Skronk with that DoT again, which slew Skronk.

There we were, Bung, Skronk and Vikund dead, Earl and Ula still standing.  With nobody left to ress, we had to release.  Of course, we had learned the hard way at some point past not to release before the boss has been looted.

The loot was the usual ironic finish, the Mantle of Perenolde, a leather item for a group with no leather wearers.

Epoch Hunter down, along with three of us

Epoch Hunter down, along with three of us

That settled, we sat for a bit longer, then Bung, Skronk and Vikund released.

(Somebody reading this must know what is going to happen next… somebody is going, “Noooooo!”)

Just after we released, the quest updated for Earl and Ula.  The quest giver, Erozion, showed up, they turned it in, everything was good.

For them.

The quest did not update for Bung, Skronk, or Vikund.

We released about five seconds too soon.  The quest was incomplete.  We have to do it all again.

AAAGH! (note the lack of “w” in there.)

We stopped and did some research, but found that other people had run into the same situation.  We were borked.

It was too late to start over again, but as you can see from the above screen shot, Vikund was very close to level 70 and Earl was not far behind.  So we reset the instance and went back to get a level for the two of us.

This time around we managed to wipe a couple of times on the very same mobs we had so very recently rolled over like cement truck.

Somebody on the team was tired.  Actually, more than one person.  So somebody did a Leeroy Jenkins on us once.  Somebody bumped into a group early another time. All in all we were dragging by this point of the night.

Eventually though, Earl and Vikund hit level 70.

Next week will be our third and, I dearly hope, our final run at Durnholde Keep.

Escape from Durnholde Keep – Round 1

Saturday night and time for some new scenery in Azeroth. Or some old scenery. Time travel makes nonsense of tense and grammar, and we did indeed travel through time for this one.

Our group, now all tracking to, or at, level 70, was:

69 Warlock – Bungholio
69 Warrior – Earlthecat
69 Mage – Ula
69 Paladin – Vikund
70 Priest – Skronk

The first order of business was to leave the Outlands and head to Tanaris, a location well known to the lot of us, and get to the Caverns of Time.

At the entrance to the Caverns of Time there is a dragon with a quest. He sends you on a dragon ride through a Pirate’s of the Caribbean-like experience (the Disney ride, not the movie) to main hub of the caverns.

Yo ho! Yo ho! A pirate's life for me!

Yo ho! Yo ho! A pirate's life for me!

There a Custodian of Time-bot leads you around in a big circle, whispering exposition to you. They are all female and wearing the same outfit, though they come from a variety of the Azeroth races. I saw human, blood elves, dranei, and even a gnome represented. No orcs or undead though.

After that bit of story telling, which I imagine gets less readers than the average quest text does, you do get a quest. You are off to the Hillsbrad Foothills of seven years past… so the 2001 verion I guess… to complete the Escape from Durnholde Keep.

Arriving at the edge of the foothills we met another dragon who offered us rides to Durnholde Keep. We quickly figured out that, if you have an epic mount, it is quicker to just ride to Durnholde Keep that to take the scenic flight path the dragons use, but Blizzard no doubt wants to show off their recycled art assets, plus the ride gives you a chance for a bio or to run off for a drink.

Dragons stacked up on approach to Durnholde

Dragons stacked up on approach to Durnholde

Nice now, in seven years it falls to pieces

Nice now, in seven years it falls to pieces

Once at the keep, there are some preliminary tasks to accomplish before you get on with the main mission, which is an epic escort quest with an orc named Thrall. He has to get around the zone and fight a couple of bosses before you are done with him.

In the setup tasks, we ran into a problem that would dog us throughout the session. We were constantly pitted against groups of four elites. Earl takes one, Mezzmon the voidwalker takes one, one get’s the polymorph treatment, and one is left to run around, hopefully picked up by the tank before it starts beating on the casters too badly.

Pre-respect, Vikund would have taken the extra guy as an off-tank. While as a retribution pally, he can certainly hold aggro, he also takes a lot more damage, which puts more work on the healer and divides his attention. So Vikund died a bit more often than usual while picking up that extra mob if it strayed.

Still, we could manage it for the most part because in the setup stage, we had a nice rest between each fight. A group of four with all of us fully charged was doable. Deaths did occur though.

Skronk and Vik re-enact Vik's 1985 New Years Eve Party

Skronk and Vik re-enact Vik's 1985 New Years Eve Party

Once we made it into the keep and to Thrall, things changed.

As is the usual pattern for escort quests, you follow the escortee while he leads you into ambush after ambush. And Thrall was impatient to get where he was going, so he literally ran from encounter to encounter. And all these encounters were groups of four, which meant we died. A lot.

Waiting for another round while Thrall gets dressed.

Waiting for another round while Thrall gets dressed.

You have to get through four of these fights, one right after another before you get to the first boss fight. It took us a while to figure out that Thrall is actually pretty hardy and can act as the off-tank. Plus, when you blow the quest and wipe, you just start over. This is a Caverns of Time quest, so the whole thing is practically on Tivo. Hit a button and jump back to the last stage.

It took us four tries to get to the boss fight with Captain Skarloc, and five tries to get there and actually defeat him.

With Skarloc down, Thrall takes a rest.  Note the repair bot in the background.  We needed it.

With Skarloc down, Thrall takes a rest. Note the repair bot in the background. We needed it.

Thankfully, the major events in this escort quest are milestones, and if you blow it, you only have to skip back to the last milestone. Also, Thrall stops and lets you take a breather at these points, waiting until you say you are ready before he heads out. (Tip, mount up before you send Thrall off after Skarloc, he grabs a horse and rides off.)

Things went a little better after that and we ended up facing the last boss, the Epoch Hunter.

Ugliest dragon yet!

Ugliest dragon yet!

His fight is another event where you have to knock off a few waves of his minions before you get to fight him. The fights were tough, we were tired, and after three tries, we ended up calling it a night. We were going to have to visit Old (young?) Hillsbrad Foothills again another time.

After this though, we did decide that what we really needed was a bit more healing and a good off tank. You know, a holy priest and a protection paladin. Skronk and I dropped another 15 gold and went back to our previous specs.

I am going to bet that, next week, the fights are going to come off with a lot less drama.