Tag Archives: Dire Maul East

Dire Maul Warm Up before Burning Crusade Classic

With the Burning Crusade Classic pre-patch on us, it was time to go figure out how to play our characters with the changes to our specs.  That seems to suggest an easier dungeon, something we had run before, so we wouldn’t be getting used to a new rotation while learning new fights.

My suggestion was Dire Maul East.  We had done it before, even doing a three person exploration the week before the patch.  We could get in, get the update for Ula’s spell, get a couple of quest updates for my pally, including one with a serious shield upgrade, all while getting into the swing of things.

I got on first last weekend and got myself out to Feathermoon to pick up an additional quests that might be laying about, noticing the elven ship model had replaced the old standard model ship on the run off the Feralas coast.

Skronk got on next and headed out the same way, followed by Moronae.  We all moved on over to Dire Maul to meet up at the summoning stone.  On the long list of things that changed with the pre-patch, the summoning stones are now that rather than being just meeting stones.  Ula was running late, but once she was online we would be able to bring her to us as you can summon party members so long as you can get three people to summon.

Doing a practice summon, just to remember how to even do that

Coincidentally, with the release of the patch a post I wrote back in 2011 that included mention of the Dire Maul summoning stone has suddenly become popular again.  Now that it can summon, people want to use it I guess.  So, just as a reminder:

Dire Maul Summoning Stone Pictured

Approximate location on the map

When Ula did get on and I told her the plan, we found out that with the pre-patch her final conjured water recipe no longer needed a quest, she was able to just get the skill from her class trainer.

Still, since we were already set up and because the run would net the tank a nice new shield, we opted to go forward with the plan.  Our group was:

  • Wilhelm – level 60 human paladin
  • Moronae – level 60 night elf druid
  • Ula – level 60 gnome mage
  • Skronk – level 60 dwarf priest

And once we got ourselves together outside of Dire Maul we pushed on to the eastern entrance.

Everybody is here

Another change with the pre-patch is that most, if not all, of the formerly elite open world mobs appear to have been downgraded to normal mobs, so getting into the instance was pretty easy.

As we started up I will say that I was pretty happy with the changes the pre-patch brought to the protection paladin lineup.  I probably wasted some gold re-speccing before the patch, but at least I got a feel for the before/after.

Righteous Defense, a direct taunt that grabs up to three mobs was a good start, and then Avenger’s Shield, a ranged attack for pulling, made me pretty happy as well.  The shield does hit three mobs, so it isn’t as precise as Viniki’s gun, but it is still better than having to run up and shake hands with every mob in order to pull.

Once inside I was able to get going, with consecrate, holy shield, and retribution aura able to hold groups of non-elite mobs on me even as Ula and Moronae did their AOE attacks to burn them down, a noticeable improvement over my experience with Viniki.

We did get into a bit of trouble early on when, being a bit complacent about aggro radius, we managed to get two single mobs, a threesome, and a pack of non-elites all on us at once.  Even being a bit over level, that came apart… sort of.  I went down, then Skronk did when he inherited the aggro from healing.

Our group in the corner of the first area getting beat down

You can see Ula running for the exit on the right.  Once dead I actually remembered that Moronae had a combat ress, and called for him to use it.  The first thought was to put it on Skronk, but then I called for it to hit the pally as I still had lay hands and a few other tricks that I had forgotten about in the flash of action.  And, of course, I could also ress once we were done.

Once I was back up, Moronae and I finished off the remaining mobs… we had actually killed most of them as the group before the wheels came off… then I ressed Skronk then found Ula, who hadn’t quite made it to he zone line and ressed her.

That was the big dramatic event of the run, and it wasn’t even a wipe.  Moronae lived and his combat ress got us back on track.

After that we were a little more careful about aggro radius and, thus, had few issues.  We managed to do Pusillin in one round, a fight we managed to wipe on both times we did it previously.  Paladin fire resist aura helped out there.

We made it back and around through the satyrs, collecting a few felcloth along the way, past the next few bosses, and into Ironbark’s room in the conservatory.

Just within our draw distance

Thanks to our last run here, we had gotten a feel for getting through the room without having to take on every single group.  You just have to time your advance between the roaming groups.

Ironbark broke down the door for us and cleared the way to the final boss.  There we had another fight where consecrate, holy shield, and retribution aura kept the adds on me.

Lighting up the group with damage

That got us through the instance.  We posed for a victory shot, then I collected my quest item and Ula opened a portal to Darnassus so I could fly from there to Moonglade to turn in the quest.

Done with Dire Maul East again

That got done quickly enough that we decided to go do one of the pre-patch events.  You can see Ula and I are wearing tabards.  Those come from a quest out at the Blasted Lands at the Dark Portal.  All you have to do is kill six invading fel reavers and that is the reward.  So we went out and did that and got one more screen shot with us all in matching tabards, like we are in a guild or something.

Before the Dark Portal

Overall, three of us seemed good with our classes post-patch.  Moronae though, he was feeling like feral druids had taken a hit.  He may revert to form and boost a warlock to swap out into the group for next time.  We’ll lose a combat ress but gain soul stones along with some other options.

Reconsidering My Paladin in Dire Maul

At some point last night we got the Burning Crusade Classic patch on WoW Classic… I think.  The downtime was supposed to be done at 3pm, then 7pm, and then 10pm and… well… some of us have to get up and go to work in the morning.

I suspect that database operations took much longer than expected, which is frequently a thing in my experience.

Anyway, when it it does go live it will be the day of the dividing of worlds and new specs and events and what not.  I’m sure I will have a post about that tomorrow.  This post was actually supposed to go yesterday, but then EVE Online blew up in three directions and that was the focus of Tuesday.  So maybe it is better that the patch is delayed as I can slip this post in now.

As we have run up to the last days of the pure WoW Classic, I have been reflecting on the last 20 months or so of this experiment in nostalgia.  Don’t worry, I’ll have a post about that too.  But one item I was considering this past weekend was my paladin.

He has made it to level 59, so I can move him on to Outland whenever I choose… once it becomes available.

Wilhelm the Paladin in Silithus

But getting him there has been a grind at times, both due to the nature of the class, the nature of leveling in the old system past level 40, and due to my reading too much into various bits of advice.

For example, I spent a stretch trying to level up based on a retribution spec from Icy Veins that was really for raiding.  I eventually found a spec better suited for leveling, which did make things more manageable.

Another bit of information I took to heart was the stated fact that paladins cannot tank in classic.  I read that a number of places and, based on that, I went with Viniki, my gnome warrior, to be the group tank when the group settled down to the four of us.

That was a good decision and it has worked out.  We have been able to manage most instances as a foursome without having to out-level them.  But every time we run into a multi-mob scrum and Viniki is trying to keep aggro on half a dozen non-elites I always think about how that wouldn’t be an issue if I had consecrate.  The pally comes with a lot of beneficial skills, though does lack that single target taunt.  And the tanking thing, like my first spec, was really meant for end game raiding.

So, this past weekend I decided to tinker with my paladin and the protection spec.  I went to the pally trainer and paid to reset my talent points… which was 10 gold because I’ve done that a few times now… and spec’d up the recommended protection talents, which were fairly obvious.  I probably would have gotten them right just doing them myself, starting with the need to spec into consecrate on the holy tree first.

That done, I went to the auction house to buy a sword and maybe a better shield.  The spec pretty much requires a one hander and shield.

As I wandered into the empty auction house… odd and prime time on a Saturday… I realized that this was the weekend when the auction house had been shut down to clear it our for the WoW Classic / Burning Crusade split.

Of course, I had already done the spec change, so I was kind of stuck.  I had a shield in the bank, but not a 1h weapon to call my own.  I had been sending green drops and such to Moronae to use for enchanting.

Trade chat, being trade chat, wasn’t helpful on this front.  At least not with my budget.  So I ended up with the best vendor sword that WoW Head could find me, the Falchion.

A common sword will have to do

With that in hand I went to go train up the sword skill.  I figured I could do at least that much as I was starting out with a skill of 22.  I hit some lower level mobs for a bit, but then went over to Felwood to pick on some mobs in the low 50s, just to see how I would do.

Of course, with a low weapon skill, even when I was hitting I wasn’t doing much damage.  But as the skill built up past 200 I started killing mobs.  Meanwhile, I wasn’t taking much damage.  Skill ups slowed down around 230, but I kept on killing.  I moved over to Winterspring to get some higher level mobs and seemed to be doing okay.

A lot of the pally’s damage is in his holy seals and judgements and I had beefed him up with plenty of +str gear to boost damage as well.  I was doing well enough with that common level sword that I wondered if maybe I shouldn’t have just gone with protection for leveling up anyway.  The kills came a little slower, but I took so little damage that downtime shrank to more than make up for the lower damage.  I wasn’t setting any records, but I was doing pretty well considering the weapon.

When Sunday rolled around we tried to get something going, but Moronae was not available.  Skronk and Ula were on, so I asked if they could help my pally finish up a quest in the Eastern Plaguelands.  Hameya’s Plea was probably something I could manage solo.  I did it with my hunter.  But it can get out of hand if you’re not careful.  So they flew out and we grouped up.  The quest was even shareable, so we could all get the reward.

As it turned out we did get a little sloppy and ended up with a mass of undead trolls around us, but a pally tank loves some undead to slay.

Hameya is on the left there

We were able to get in and out without me managing to mess up too much as tank.  Running back to turn the quest in, it got them an item to vendor for some gold and me a sword upgrade.

An improvement

Confusingly, they both have the same inventory icon, but I got the right one equipped.

That done, the next item on the list was the mooncloth robe recipe, which comes from a vendor in the library of Dire Maul.  So we headed to Feralas and into Dire Maul North.

We had issues doing Dire Maul North as a group of four previously, so going in hard with just the three of us, and with me trying to tank a with a new spec, seemed like a bad idea.  But you can get to the library with minimal mobs to kill.  We took down one ogre guard and then got onto the stairway that goes down to the center pit of the first big area.  Going down far enough that we could jump up on the banister (and waiting until the wandering pack of dogs passed) we were able to avoid the group of ogres in the center.

The stairs behind us

From where we are in the screen shot it is a straight run into the very long tunnel, which fortunately lacks and mobs, that eventually gets you to the library.

Welcome to the Dire Maul library

There Ula was able to able to buy the recipe.  She also picked up the Arcane Refreshment quest, which gets her the final drink spell for mages.  In order to complete it you need to slay Hydrospawn in Dire Maul East.  Since we were already in the neighborhood we thought we might give it a try.  We’ve done DME a couple of times already, right?

Getting out of DMN meant running back up the tunnel to the center area again, waiting for the dog pack to pass, then running up the stairs, which meant getting within aggro radius of the ogres in the center.  Ula and I made it, running for the door.  Skronk got caught and smacked down.  But we just met him over in DME since, as a ghost, you get revived in any of the Dire Maul instances.

There we cleared a couple of mobs then considered our options.  The plan was to avoid fighting our way all the way in to Hydrospawn, being a tough job for a group of three.  Instead, we wanted to drop into the middle area in the main room, the conservatory, which is where Ironbark stands.  From there it is possible to track back to Hydrospawn pretty easily… or so we hoped.

Considering the drop

It took us a few tries to get it right.  There are a couple groups of non-elites down there, but also some solo elites and the usual groups of treants that run back and forth across the area.  By the fourth drop we managed to get in and have a clear LZ from which to work.

There were issues on the first three tries

We then very carefully grabbed any stationary mobs that were in our way, timing our progress to avoid the mobile mobs.

Taking some refreshment while mobs run past

From where I am sitting in the shot above were were able to time it to run past the treants to the fallen column, then to the wall, and then through the archway towards the next area.

Safely through the conservatory

I will say that the draw distance issue, about which I have complained in the past, did not make that run any easier.  The treant groups would appear and disappear and what felt like very close ranges to us.

From there we had to slay a couple of Satyrs, but otherwise were setup with our eyes on Hydrospawn.  There we were able to pull him… and we almost managed it.  We had forgotten that Hydrospawn resists frost attacks, which is a really bad bit of news to recall mid fight when your DPS is a frost mage.  You’d think a water elemental would resist fire and be frozen by frost, but what are you going to do.

We made it through the part where he summons two helpers, but I ran out of heals, pots, and any other pally tricks very shortly thereafter and was down.  There wasn’t enough oomph left to finish him off.

Dead on the rock and Hydrospawn back in his pool

Still, it was a fun run.  We decided that was enough for the day, but we’ll be back again to get Ula her quest reward.  I wouldn’t mind another run into DME.  My pally has the quest the gets him a serious shield upgrade from the last boss and there are some decent drops.

But by the time we try that the Burning Crusade Classic pre-patch should be in place and I will have to roll with the new spec.  Having tinkered with it in beta, I know that at least I won’t have to go up the holy tree to get consecrate.  I can give him a trial run next time to see if I stick with my warrior, Viniki, or swap to my paladin, Wilhelm.

A Return to Dire Maul East

The instance group returned to WoW Classic this past weekend.  Our last run, when we finally wrapped up Blackrock Depths, was back in February.  We have spent most of our time since then in the Viking afterlife that is Valheim.  But the coming of Burning Crusade Classic… Blizz seems set to drop the pre-expansion patch some time this month… stirred us from our resource collection and biome explorations to return to Azeroth.

All of us together again

We had a few goals for this return run, the first of which was to get back into the swing  of playing WoW.  While getting used to how to move passed pretty quickly, I think everybody was pressing the space bar to try and sprint or the Tab key for inventory more often than they would like to admit.  Fortunately, nobody can see you do that and it doesn’t have any real in-game impact.

We also wanted to get to level 60.  That was a low bar goal, as we were all well on our way towards that after the last run.

And we also wanted some felcloth.  Felcloth drops from satyrs in Felwood and is the primary ingredient to make mooncloth bags, which are the 16 slot bags that tailors can make.  To be in WoW Classic is to be in a time when 16 slot bags were a big deal.  Ula, our group tailor, has us mostly covered with 14 slot runecloth bags, but those extra two slots add up.

The coveted mooncloth bag

We spent some time trying for the mooncloth bag recipe drop at one point and eventually snagged it for an acceptable price at the auction house so Ula could start making them.

But to feed the production we need felcloth, and the one place where it drops besides Felwood is in Dire Maul East.  So that set our destination.  It offered xp, we had done it before so it was a probably a good warm up, and there was felcloth to be had.

We got ourselves online on Sunday afternoon and headed towards Feathermoon in Feralas from where ever we last left our characters.  Viniki was out in Gadgetzan for some reason… thorium recipes I think… so was the closest to our destination.

Flying out over the Mirage Raceway

Our group, in the guild window, was all level 59 and looking to level up.

All close to level cap

We managed to find the right instance on the first try… Dire Maul East is on the east side of the Dire Maul complex as advertised… and got ourselves setup.  This is the instance with Pusillin, the little demon that you have to chase down as he has the key to unlock the other wings of the complex.

What if we already have the key?

We started in on clearing our way through, the familiar rhythm of fights coming back to us after not too many rounds.

Viniki was the first to level up.  I had been out mining ore in high level zones, which means killing mobs now and then, so had crept up pretty close to the level cap already.

Hitting level 60 in the first area

We followed Pusillin, not so much because we needed his key or a drop from him, but because he runs off into an area populated by satyrs, and satyrs mean felcloth.

Attack all satyrs!

This was in contrast to our last visit, where we bypassed a lot of the satyrs.  The layout of the instance is such that you don’t need to grab every group.  But if you want felcloth you grab them all.

We made it to Pusillin and managed to wipe on his fight on the first try, the same as we did the last time we came to visit.

Wiped again

Pusillin summons a group of non-elite helpers who hit hard with fire based attacks, which overwhelmed Skronk’s ability to heal.  I heard him say, “Viniki pot!” even as I was going to hit a health pot, but even in motion already I was too late.

We had to run back, but once we got there, the fight was fairly simple.  If you wipe Pusillin wanders back to the far end of the room, but his summoned demons all crowd in at the near end, so you can fight them separately.

From there it was back up through the halls, sweeping up satyrs that we had missed or which spawned after we passed… which is a thing in DME, because I am pretty sure we didn’t miss that one guy in the narrow hallway on our way in… and off into the side rooms with the other bosses and more satyrs.

Lethtendris down

While gear upgrades seemed unlikely, we somehow still managed to find a couple, along with the Frost Ward V tome for Ula, which dropped just after she hit level 60.  And items that were not upgrades went to Moronae, who had taken up the enchanter profession for us, to be disenchanted for materials.

We pushed on, and managed not to wipe again, though we did have a couple of deaths.  Moronae’s combat ress came in handy when Skronk went down in a fight that got away from us for a bit.

Nobody died on Zevrim’s altar this time

Time, however, started to press.  We had been slow to get started and had stopped to slay all the satyrs for a stretch.  As we got towards the end we needed to speed things up a bit as dinner was about ready at my end.

In the conservatory we skipped as many groups as we dared to clear the way for Ironbark to open the last door for us.

Lets get moving there Ironbark

It was in the conservatory that Skronk hit level 60, the last of us to do so.  We were all at the level cap.

Ready for Outland now

We made it through and got down to the final boss, Azzin the Wildshaper, another fight where we forgot that a bunch minions show up to help the boss mid-fight.  It was a bit touch and go for a while, but I managed to keep them mostly on me.

Sudden mid-fight pile on!

We made it through and defeated Azzin.  We had finished the instance.

Victory over Azzin

We had managed to get up to speed, all hit level 60, and even grabbed a few pieces of felcloth.  I think there were five drops, which doesn’t feel like a lot, though the drops per mobs ratio was much better than trying to farm them in Felwood.  And Ula only needs one piece per bag.  Now she just has to turn them into mooncloth at the local moonwell, something that is on a timer, so it will take a bit to process even five.

There are still some instances left that we have not done in WoW Classic.  But even if we do not get to them all, we are set for Outland.  The gear we have will be replaced by the first round of green quest drops once we get to Hellfire Peninsula.

Diversion to Dire Maul East

As I mentioned last time around, after nine runs in and around Blackrock Depths since late October, we decided we could do with a change of scenery.  We’re not done yet.  We still have to get through the Lyceum and not screw up the vault at least once, but a little pallet cleanser seemed to be in order.

The plan was to head to Dire Maul out in Feralas.

Feralas in WoW Classic

Unlike some past instances, there wasn’t a lot of pre-work to do.  We just flew out to Feathermoon Stronghold, picked up one quest from there, then headed towards Dire Maul.  Fortunately the boat to the mainland was right on time for us.

Here come the boat

This is one boat ride where if you just missed it you might as well just swim as it takes its time getting back, swinging all the way around the island.  Our group for the run was:

  • Viniki – level 58 gnome warrior
  • Skronk – level 57 dwarf priest
  • Moronae – level 57 night elf druid
  • Ula – level 57 gnome mage

We headed right up the ramp and around the ogres… many of whom outside the instances were a few levels below us… and towards Dire Maul East.

Arriving at Dire Maul

Dire Maul has three wings, east, west, and north, but you have to do the east wing first as it gets you the key that lets you into the other two.  And you get the come on about the key almost immediately upon zoning into the instance as Pusillin taunts you.

Okay, so it is going to be like this

Pusillin is an imp, small in stature, and he runs off ahead as you clear your way through groups of mobs to catch up to him.

Fortunately, we seemed to be up to the task, with a bit of care.  Again, doing this with a group of four reminds me how bad we must have been back in the day when our group of five sometimes struggled with these things.

We did have a little problem with the packs of non-elites that are scattered about.  I had actually been reading an Icy Veins thread about how you can tank the five person instances as an arms warrior in battle stance using a 2H weapon, which has the advantage giving the warrior some strong AOE attacks with which to grab aggro.  However, the discussion broke down, as these things tend to on the internet, into a series of absolute statements about the pros and cons of the idea, that I wasn’t left feeling warm and fuzzy on the idea, at least not enough to respec right before a run.  Also, since I have gone very heavy on defense up until now, I was a bit worried about over taxing the healer.  Maybe I’ll read up more on that later.

Pusillin leads you around and down a tunnel and through some satyrs, and the whole way is littered with seed pods that spawn poison or groups of non-elite mobs, so that when we followed Pusillin up a ramp onto a platform and saw yet another one of those pods, I walked over to just trigger it and get it out of the way.  I didn’t know that was going to trigger the first boss fight, which is when Pusillin rises up to attack you for following him into his lair.

Pusillin comes alive

We went from causal follow and trash killing into boss fight mode against Pusillin and the non-elites that spawned from the pod.  It was a near run thing.  Ula ended up going down during the fight and I was punching all the back pocket abilities to stay alive as Skronk hit low mana.

Down to the last few hit points

But, in the end, I held out just long enough for us to kill him.  Boss down, Skronk ressed Ula, then we looted the Crescent Key, which was the key we were looking for.  Pusillin also dropped the Runn Tum Tuber Surprise recipe, which Viniki won in a roll-off.  Now he just needs some tubers to cook with it.  It is supposed to be good food for mages.

That done, we traced our way back up the path we had come to head into one of the doors we passed, that being where the next boss lay.

This way to the next target

Another area with groups and wandering mobs awaited us.  We did find here, as we did elsewhere in the instance, that with some planning we could skip by a lot of the fights.  We felt no need to take the Pengail approach and run after every mob in sight, so threaded our way to the end of the room and up a ramp to find ourselves facing Lethendris, the target of our one quest from Feathermoon.

Leathandris and minion walking around the fire

It was a toss up between her or her minion as to whom we should go after first.  I called her and nobody objected, so off we went.  The fight was short and sharp and soon both mobs were done.

Fight over

Looting her yielded a quest item and a wand that went to Ula.

From there it was down a spiraling path to a lower level where, after clearing a few groups we were able to pull the next boss, Hydrospawn, back and take him down.

Hydrospawn is here

We had a little bit of trouble with him as he was immune to cold, which is inconvenient when half your DPS is a frost mage.  He spawns a helper, but we opted to ignore that and just focus on him, which seemed to be the best plan in the end.  The helper washed away when Hyrdrospawn went down.  The boots he dropped were leather and went to Moronae for his alt healer gear set.

After that we found that we could slip across the pool where Hydrospawn was and bypass all the mobs in the room and head out into the conservatory, a wooded area.  We went there, cleared out much of the place, and spoke with Ironbark, who just said something about Zevrim.

Ironbark

We let that pass and kept clearing the area until we arrived at a door at the other end which seemed to be the next place we needed to go, but which was closed without any way to open it up.  We went back to Ironbark and he was on about Zevrim.  It seemed like the plan was to find Zevrim.

The thing we missed was up in that screen shot with Hrydrospawn.  There is a passage visible in the far wall of that picture, that was where we needed to go.  We threaded our way past the mobs we could avoid, slew the few we could not, and headed up the passage.  At the top, around a corner, was Zevrim.

There he is

Standing there looking at him and his altar sparked a few old memories.  He is the one that, mid-fight, grabs somebody and puts them on his altar to sacrifice them.  Good times.  Otherwise his platform is clear, so we made sure we were spelled up and then I went and grabbed him.

I was the first thrown on the altar, which burns you for 300 hit points every second, so Skronk had to be on his toes and ready.  I made it through, as did Ula and Skronk when it was their turn on the altar.  Moronae was the last chosen, at which point Zevrim was about done and Skronk was about dry of mana.  Moronae was sacrificed on the altar as Zevrim went down.

Moronae on the altar

We got Moronae ressed and healed up and headed back to Ironbark, who obliged us by breaking down the closed door, after which he fell over and died.

Though the door we had to work our way down to the final boss, Alzzin the Wildshaper, who was only intermittently visible to us.

Alzzin steps into view

One of the oddities of WoW Classic resulting from the old content being grafted on to the modern WoW framework is that the view distance is often much closer than you might imagine.  As with the elevators at the great lift, Alzzin wasn’t all that far away, but would walk out of our draw distance as he paced back and forth.  It wasn’t like that back in the day.

Alzzin’s gimmick is to change forms throughout the fight and, as we read, on each change he dumps all aggro, so the tank has to be ready on the taunt to keep him off the rest of the group.  And then, when he is about down, a wall breaks open and, instead of the Kool-Aid man, a bunch of non-elite helpers come join him in the fight.  Not soon enough to save him though.

Time to burn them down

After that we were about done.  We paused to take the usual group shot after the final fight.

Done in Dire Maul East

Then we went over and each collected one of the gems that were on the ground behind where Alzzin was pacing about.

Two gems left to collect

These are for a quest up in Moonglade which, among other things, has a shield upgrade for me as a reward.

Then it was out the back door of the instance, through the ogres wandering the grounds of Dire Maul, and back down to the dock for the boat to Feathermoon.

Feathermoon across the way

However, the boat had just pulled up at Feathermoon and the trip around the far side of the island seemed likely to take longer than swimming, so we jumped in the water and started pulling for the island.  Moronae was able to get into aquatic form to get ahead, but then Skronk cast levitate and was able to run over the surface while Ula and I just kept on swimming.

Even for the two gnomes the swim was faster than waiting for the boat.

There we turned in the one quest we all had and called it a night.  We now have to decide what to do next.

 

Dire Mauled

As noted at the end of the post on the last full run we did, we decided to divert from another round in Blackrock Depths to face an set of instance we had not previously done as a group, Dire Maul.

Even with our venture into Runes of Magic last week, the group was still askew, with Earl falling a bit behind.  We kicked off with:

53 Orc Shaman – Earlthebat (Earlthecat)
56 Tauren Druid – Azawak (Skronk)
56 Undead Mage – Bigbutt (Bungholio)
56 Tauren Druid – Hurmoo (Vikund)
56 Blood Elf Paladin – Enaldie (Ula)

Dire Maul is quite a contrast to Blackrock Depths.  Added after the game went live, Dire Maul seems to reflect the philosophy of breaking up instances into discreet runs that became the favored approach for Blizzard.  So while BRD is a sprawling complex that you must visit repeatedly to finish up, Dire Maul is three discreet zones, each with its own flavor.

We started off with the east wing of Dire Maul, which has a theme of Satyrs and nature, something that can be confusing with a restoration spec’d druid in tree form running around.

Make sure you taregt the correct tree!

It is also something of a pain for a shaman who is a bit low on levels and  heavy on nature damage spells.

But it is also the section of Dire Maul which I had visited most recently, so I had something of a feel for where to go.  Sort of.

We started off with Pusillin, the imp you chase around the instance.  We chased him while learning that at least there were more than druid-like trees to kill.

You know those ancient protectors...

We worked our way through the instance, knocked off Pusillin and then lined up for the biggest fight we ended up having in Dire Maul East, the battle with Zevrim Thornhoof.

Zevrim at his altar

During this fight, Zevrim zaps people onto the altar where they are effectively stuck in a damage over time spell.  Azawak ended up on the altar twice, but survived while Enaldie tanked.  Then Hurmoo got yanked up onto the altar and expired before the time ran out.

Fortunately, 4 out of 5 people in our group can ress.

Left at the altar

Aside from that death, our run through Dire Maul East went pretty smoothly, with the final with Alzzin the Wildshaper over so fast I didn’t get a screen shot.

Emboldened by our success, we turned our eyes towards the North wing of Dire Maul.  And there our troubles began.

Sitting in the Dire Maul North Foyer

Through most of Dire Maul East, the mobs were around the level of most of the group, and so a couple of levels higher than Earl.  In Dire Maul North, the mobs were levels 58-60, which made a lot of Earl’s attacks fail.

They were also showing up in groups of four, which meant having to fall back on some crowd control.  That meant Bigbutt was spending time casting polymorph rather than damage.

The latter, of course, meant mobs angry at Bigbutt.  The ogres of Dire Maul North also do a lot of damage, which meant a lot more healing going on, which meant mobs angry at Hurmoo the healer.  Fights started becoming wild affairs and Bigbutt or Hurmoo ended up dead every so often.

Then came the first big fight in the tunnel leading to the big boss, King Gordok.  We were trying for a tribute run, which means avoiding the lesser bosses and just killing the big boss if possible.  At that point, the lesser bosses, are so happy to have been been freed from their current tyrant that they give you gifts.

In the tunnel we were in a pitched battle with four ogres when an eye of Kilrogg showed up, opened a portal, and brought in a few more mobs, which tipped the balance of the fight.  We had our first wipe in a long time.

Dead in the tunnel

Earl, with his shaman self-resurrection ability, was thwarted in his attempt to revive us because he died a little too close to the start point of the ogres.  The penalty of a large aggro radius.

That meant a jog back to the instance in ghost form.  From that point forward, the fighting was tough.  If things went even a little awry, fights quickly got out of hand.

Ogres crushing the remains of the party

And as healer, Hurmoo was feeling the weight of ogre blows, and he ended up getting pounded into the ground with disturbing frequency.

Ogres can flatten unwary Taurens

Which lead as often as not lead to all of us having to run back to the instance as ghosts again.

At least we know the route!

Still, we persisted.  While we were dying a lot than we were have grown used to of late, we were still making progress.  Not every fight was a fiasco, and the door to the final boss was within sight.

And then we were rewarded with the true meaning of the saying, “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.”  Most people just mis-quote that first part, and often in a way that mis-interprets the meaning of the full quote.

A little learning is a dangerous thing; drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring: there shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, and drinking largely sobers us again.

- Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticism, 1709

We knew, through various sources, about the Dire Maul North tribute run.  However, we drank only lightly of that knowledge, and were thus intoxicated into rash action.

In this case, there we were at the King Gordok’s door, and we didn’t have the key.

Neither did we have a rogue handy with locking picking skill up around 300, a blacksmith’s truesilver skeleton key, nor an engineer’s  powerful seaforium charge, any of which would have opened up the doors.

A little bit of research showed up who had the key, Guard Mol’dar.  However, he was at the other side of the instance in an area we have not bothered to clear.  And it was getting very late, ress and release runs having eaten up a chunk of time.  And some of us were wearing armor that was completely out of durability.

Hurmoo's Paper Doll

So we decided to take our lessons and return another night when we would, no doubt, be better prepared for the North wing of Dire Maul.

And while it is annoying to fail (and die so many times!), we did at least feel we were facing a challenge in this instance.

2 Hunters, 2 Strangers, and a Bear

I have been a bit skeptical about the who Dungeon Finder thing that got introduced with WoW patch 3.3.

For starters, I have yet to see any sort of “Looking for Group” tool that seemed workable to me.  They all end up looking like complicated solutions that do not address the basic problem, which is that we’re all suspicious of strangers and cannot really stand each other in general.  Or maybe that is just me.

An early LFG tool prototype

Anyway, for me, there has always been the air of “not joining any club that would have me as a member” about them.

And then there is the whole “too damn convenient by half” aspect of being magically transported to a dungeon, avoiding all that travel and bother.  And this was confirmed by experimentation with the Saturday night instance group.

We found that we could form up our group of five, use the dungeon finder, pick where ever we wanted to go (within an acceptable level range) and be teleported there without any risk.

Here I was worried about travel to Gnomer the other week when it turned out we can be whisked straight to Stormwind Stockades, five horde players on a PvP server, without getting a hair out of place.

So I can see where some people are coming from with their dire predictions of the Guild Wars-ification and death of non-instanced Azeroth.

Well, I certainly wasn’t going to be party to any of that.  I like the fact that the world has size and presence.  I have been enjoying running around “classic” Azeroth both as a horde player on Lightninghoof as well as with some of my alts that are still working their way to the expansions.

And so it was on Sunday with my daughter, my mom, and myself all online and running around.  Our characters are on the cusp of passing through the dark portal and hitting the Outlands.  In fact, I am holding things up a bit.  Their hunters are both ready or a fraction of a level from being ready while my druid is lagging behind.

We were on and talking about what to do when my mom asked if we couldn’t do an instance together.  She reads the blog (Hi mom!) and has seen all the instances I’ve been through with the regular group and is keen to experience a bit of that herself.

Stuck in my old ways, I started doing the mental calculation about what the three of us might be able to handle.  I started saying that maybe we could manage something well below our level since we lacked a real healer.  Something where we would be facing all grey mobs.

Then my daughter, in the tone of voice that expresses exasperation with the parental generation said, “Dad, just use the dungeon finder.”

Hrmm…

Well, why not.  I pulled up the dungeon finder window.

Then I got us all in a group and put us in the queue, flagged as three damage dealers, two hunters and a feral druid, ready to take on a random classic dungeon.

After a bit of waiting, I thought better of that.  I backed us out and change us to a tank and two damage dealers.

Choosing to be the tank

While I have not played my feral druid in bear form for more than a few minutes (I had all of two skills on the action bar for the bear) I figured that DPS is common, but that tanks and healers are rare, so we might be waiting a long time if we needed to fill both of those slots.

With that small change we were offered a dungeon within a minute.  Go us!

Our group was a 58 hunter, a 57 hunter, a 56 druid acting as the tank, an 53 paladin as  the third DPS, and a 52 druid coming in as the healer.

So there I was busily pulling bear form skills onto the action bar while trying to figure out what they all do, but feeling okay because what are the odds that we’ll draw an instance I’ve never even set foot into?

And our instance: Dire Maul East.

If you go back to the post Three Years of the Instance Group, you’ll see there are but five standard instances we left undone.  Dire Maul East is one of them.  (Dire Maul North is another.)

So here we go, I am the group leader, the tank, and in an instance I have never before entered and cannot recall the story behind.  Something about trees I am going to guess, given the initial bad guys.

What could go wrong?  I’ll figure out tanking and how likely is it for me to get a non-linear instance in WoW?

Dire Maul East Layout

Hrmm… not so linear I guess.  It is a good thing I had Alpha Map loaded or I would have been completely lost.

And the whole thing started linear.  Sort of.  We started killing things in any case..

My mother, daughter, and I were all on Skype together, so we were talking.  And it was a good thing too.  It turned out my daughter had been here before, though had never completed the instance.  So she pointed me in the right direction for a while.

Meanwhile I tried to educate her a bit on group etiquette and  best practices.  Things like not opening up on mobs until it looks like I have a bit of aggro established and not running way out in front of the rest of the group.

We wound around the instance, going this way and that, until we had made our way to just about all of the bosses.  We had done pretty well too, with only one death up to that point.  It helped that the three of us were a bit over level.  I’m glad we didn’t pull Statholme or Scholomance.

Anyway, we killed bosses, chased the imp, and were wandering around trying to figure out how to get down to the last boss.  There is a courtyard below the area where you enter and in our meandering about the instance, we didn’t run across a way to get down there.

So as we hemmed and hawed about if there might be a safe place to land if we jumped, my daughter lept down, leaving us to follow her in.

We had our second death due to a badly placed landing, but managed to clear off all of the surrounding mobs and get to the center of the courtyard where you talking to an ancient protector who literally walks over and kicks down the door keeping you from getting to the final boss.

The door down, our was was pretty much clear to Alzzin the Wildshaper.  Just a couple or trash mobs in the way and we stood before the last guy.  I let everybody get back their mana, did a /readycheck, and when everybody clicked “yes,” in we went.

Victory in Dire Maul East

The fight went our way.  We made it.  I managed to play the tank and survive.  Having a pair of beast mastery spec’d hunters and a paladin for DPS meant that off-tanking was had lots of options.  And we all ended up with the experience, extra cash, and the goodie bag for doing a random dungeon, which tossed us all a nice blue item.

I’m still not totally convinced the dungeon finder is the best thing ever, but it certainly has its place when you have a partial group and want to do the dungeon crawl thing.