Tag Archives: Outland

Back Filling Enchanting back in Outland

For neither the first time nor the last I am going to go on a bit about the design philosophy that one my infer from the mechanics of The Burning Crusade.

To sum it up, it felt very much like, “OMG how are we going to keep people playing for two years if we only have ten levels of content?  We have to slow them down!” which I am sure is an opinion that would not surprise anybody who was there back in the day, or more recently in WoW Classic.  Though, admittedly, the WoW Classic version went faster all the same because, as with all retro servers, the solved problem aspect makes it so.

So there was stuff left for us to do there.  While the Wrath pre-patch reduced some barriers and we got an xp boost to help us along, that did not really apply to crafting.  Ula was still stuck in the middle of the curve for enchanting for Outland and on her list of things to acquire were 8 large pristine shards, necessary for advancement.

The best way to obtain them was to disenchant blue drops from Outland dungeon bosses, so we got a group of four of us together, Ula, Wilhelm, Fergorin, and Bjorid to try and do a few dungeons.  It was a short group, but we were geared up for Northrend, and had even managed to do some bosses out there with a short group.  How hard could it be?

Landing in Shattrath, we headed over to Auchidoun, where there are a couple of dungeons.  We went into the Mana Tombs to give that a run.

Terokkar Forest

We got in a little bit over our heads at the first boss, Pandamonius because we were in a hurry and didn’t clear the room around him and, of course, every mob in the room comes to assist.

There he is… get him!

Okay, I was in a hurry and perhaps a bit over confident.  I mean, we beat him and all the mobs that came with him, but we did lose Fergorin and I did have to lay hands to keep it going at the end.

However, his drop, when disenchanted only yielded a small pristine shard.  And so did the drop from Tavarok, the next boss.

Didn’t we just see his brother in The Nexus?

And so on through the instance.  Our intel was wrong, or we misread it.  Perhaps only blue drops from bosses for the heroic version would get us the right shards.  But we finished up the instance, got the achievement, turned in the quests (the reward for one of which did give us the right shard) and went looking for the right target.

I figured the dungeons up in Netherstorm might be the right place to go.

Netherstorm

Out there at Tempest Keep there are the three floating instances.  We decided to give those a try to see how we did.  We had to fly up there, then summon Ula, who did not have the flight point, but the meeting stone only takes two to summon.  You do, however, need a flying mount to get into the instances.  I chose one at random.

We’ll try this one

It turned out to be the Mechanar, and so we fought a lot of mechanicals.

As before, we ran in headlong and occasionally got ourselves into a bit of trouble.  I managed to buy the farm as we fought with Mechano-Lord Capacitus, the first boss.

Capacitus strikes me down

However, we were far enough along in the fight to prevail in the end.

This instance was a little more challenging for us to navigate.  The Mana Tombs was very linear, but the Mechanar is not… and we were already used to dungeons having maps, something that came with Wrath, but which was not added retroactively to Outland until some later date I guess.

But, once we were all back up we lurched forward and I ran about, going this way and that, until we found our way to Nethermancer Sepethrea, where we once again had some issues.

Nethermancer Sepethrea wipes the group

She was a bit tougher than we figured, so read up on her while we ran back from the wipe.  The guide suggested tapping and kiting the fire elementals, who are slow but dangerous.  In order to do that we set out to clear some space, going up the hallway on the far side of the room, which triggered the event for the final boss, Pathaleon the Calculator.

We did not calculate on this

We managed to survive that onslaught, defeated him, and got the achievement for the instance with Nethermancer Sepethrea still hanging out waiting for us.

We went back to her, tried to get the kiting thing going with Bjorid, but ended up just getting the fire elementals to run around after the rest of us until Sepethrea went down.  Instance done, and all  the blue loot disenchanted into large pristine shards.

At that point I think we had five of the eight required, so it was time for another run.  This time we chose one of the other floating instances, ending up in the Botanica.

This actually went very smoothly.  We were OP enough to take care of multiple groups of trash… the Wrath paladin “AOE all the things!” tanking method working out very well for me… and we managed to make our way around the instance… still could have used a map… until we arrived at War Splinter, the final boss.

Arrival at Warp Splinter

That fight, like all the others in the instance, went our way without much drama and we were soon done and in possession of enough large pristine shards for Ula to… start working on the next set of ingredients to get enchanting up into the Wrath range.

I am just glad I managed to get myself through engineering in Outland and into the Wrath era without as much effort being required.

Outland Zones Ranked

I threatened to do this a while back and decided to run with it.  I am going to give you my rankings of the seven zones that make up Outland in The Burning Crusade expansion.

Outland

This is, of course, the subjective view of a single person and you are welcome to argue for a different ranking.

My ranking is based on how the zones work as a play through at level before you have your flying mount.  I am (trying) not to allow some of the post-flying content to influence me, nor do I want to allow the fact that specific dungeons or raids live in these zones.  That would get me trying to rank those as well, and that way lays madness.

I am also going to leave out the two starter zones that came in with the expansion, but I think I have expressed my opinion on that already.  The blood elves win that round for sure.

The rankings are based on my memories, both new and old, though I did go out and do a quick refresher on the zones just to bring them to mind, grabbing the Explorer achievement for Outland along the way.

Down in Shadowmoon Valley

With that said, here is my ranking from best or most enjoyable zone to worst or least enjoyable zone.

1 – Nagrand

Nagrand

Everybody loves Nagrand, right?

One of my criteria involved how much needless running back and forth do the quests in the zone ask of you, though that is a hard one because they all do that.  The design philosophy of the expansion no doubt included the idea that ten levels and seven zones had to last at least as long as vanilla content did.

Every zone makes you schlep back and forth, but Nagrand is at least a size and shape that makes that a bit less of a chore.  And the scenery is nice, the quest lines are kind of fun, it has one of the inevitable poop quests, and the local faction has some very pretty Talbuk mounts for you if you put in the effort.

The downside is that it only has the one flight point in an expansion where Blizz decided that they could break the “one flight point per zone” rule they had in vanilla.  That and the “kill 30” quests speak against it, though given the competition those aren’t that big of a hit.  And it has the mob population to support those quests.

As top pick, Nagrand was pretty easy.  The next five though… kind of tough to rank.

2 – Zangarmarsh

Zangarmarsh

Zangarmarsh wins out in part because it is a nice change of scenery after Hellfire Peninsula.  You do end up running back and forth a lot, and the fact that the zone is somewhat stretched along the east/west axis exacerbates this.  But it does have two flight points, though the fact that there isn’t one at the first main quest hub is still a bit of a kick in the crotch.

It doesn’t have the kill 30 quests of Nagrand, which is good, but it also doesn’t have the mob population to support some of the kill 15 quests as well.  Still not a tough zone to get around, the quests are decent, it is a great zone for herbalism, and it connects to four other zones.

3 – Shadowmoon Valley

Shadowmoon Valley

These next three are a tough call.  I could be convinced to rank them in the reverse or other order.

Shadowmoon Valley gets the nod for me right now because it is just kind of a cool looking zone.  It has some fun and interesting quests and three flight points… though you have to do quests to gain faction to unlock access to two of them.  But sure, that is part of the story of the zone.  There are memorable quests and visuals as well as the requisite amount of traveling back and forth between locations for quests.  It is another mix of the good and the less good that makes up the expansion.

4 – Hellfire Peninsula

Hellfire Peninsula

I struggled a bit with this one because, after coming off the end of vanilla, Hellfire Peninsula can be a bit of a slap in the face about how the game is going to be structured for the next ten levels, with every kill quest being 12-30 and drop rates being lower than low and collection quests taking up multiple inventory slots and that you’re going to have to run through the same group of mobs over and over for each successive quest and mobs not always being easy to hand in the numbers needed to support more than a few players on the same quest.

But it is an intro because that is the way it is going to be for the rest of the expansion, so it can be tough to find fault for the zone there.

It is also a stark and barren landscape.  And I get why, it is the was zone over which groups have been fighting.

Basically, in the context of all zones in WoW, it is way down the list.  But in the context of the expansion it is a bit bland, a bit harsh, and I am always happy to move past it… but it isn’t the worst.

5 – Terokkar Forest

Terokkar Forest

Terokkar could have been 4th… and was 4th on my first path, but then fell to 5th spot because… it is kind of bland.  It isn’t bad.  It doesn’t have you running around as much as some zones, but you still spend a lot of time going back and forth.  The forest part is foresty, the wastes are wastes.  There is that great big spider, which was a fun surprise.  But aside from going back to Skettis over and over again for dailies, it is a zone I usually move on from as soon as possible.

6 – Netherstorm

Netherstorm

Netherstorm is down this list because it is a zone that really never clicked with me on any level.  I can find something good or fun to refer to when it comes to most of these zones, even Blade’s Edge Mountains, but Netherstorm is just kind of bleh.  I’ve been through it.  I eventually got the achievement for doing all of the main quests on my retail WoW main, yet I can’t tell you about a specific quest I remember, which separates it from all the other zones.  In my head it is a lot of purple and pipes and a pain to get around until you have flying.

7 – Blade’s Edge Mountains

Blade’s Edge Mountains

I don’t know, did you see this coming?

I put in the criteria at the top in part because I had already picked the best and the worst and was kind of sorting out the middle, to explain why this was at the bottom of the list, my least favorite zone in Outland.

It is a pain in the ass to quest in, even when you have flying, and if you’re working your way through without flying it is a series of long treks back and fourth through the few connecting routes within the zone.  Ever the quest in Zangarmarsh which sends you to the zone is a slog.

This is the zone that killed my attempt to get the loremaster achievement title.  Even with flying and above level I eventually hit the wall and felt I had better things to do with my time.

I realize that this zone is probably some designers pet project, the culmination of all their dreams… there are some good and fun bits within the zone and I am sorry to crap all over your hard work… but as a total package, well, here it is at the bottom of the list.  It is the zone I will never finish, and if you did finish it my hat is off to you.  You have more patience than I.

So to sum up, my ranking of Outland zones is:

  1. Nagrand
  2. Zangarmarsh
  3. Shadowmoon Valley
  4. Hellfire Peninsula
  5. Terokkar Forest
  6. Netherstorm
  7. Blade’s Edge Mountains

Dissenting opinion are welcome, supporting evidence is appreciated.

Left Behind in Outland

I mentioned in my Wrath Classic launch post that I logged on during my lunch and found that the 50% xp buff was still active, so went and played my Death Knight some more, getting him a half a level closer to Northrend.

I am very glad I did that, because you know what made Outland tolerable during the run up to Wrath Classic?  That 50% xp buff.

And believe me, I felt its absence once Northrend opened.  When that happened I had two characters already to level 68 and able to start on their frozen adventure.  But I also had two character that fell short, my druid who was securely into 67 and my Death Knight who was just shy of 66.

For whatever reasons I was determined to get all four characters up into Wrath Classic.  That was my commitment to the Lich King.

So it was back to Outland with those two characters.

I am trying not to over emphasize the struggle here.  It is, after all, just Outland.  Literally millions of people have been through these quests and zones.  Objectively speaking, the bar is not really that high.

Subjectively however… whooo boy!

The the xp boost gone I could see and feel the slow down in my progress.  Those quest turn ins that were worth almost a whole chicklet of your exp bar, they dropped from about 16K to 11K in rewards.

Also, I had been pushing both of my remaining characters through the content, so that when they had some blue bar… double xp for mob kills… that quickly ran out.

Then there is the fact that I ran them both out of content in Nagrand, which is such a nice and happy zone to play in, which meant they were headed to the Blade’s Edge Mountains.

The Blade’s Edge Mountains

The only mitigating factor there is that at least I had splurged for flying for both of them.  That zone is designed as a maze so you cannot fly you spend a LOT of time running back and forth and going up this ramp, down through that tunnel, across the bridge over there, and along the winding path between spiky outcroppings.

At some point I will likely write a post ranking the zones of Outland, and The Blade’s Edge Mountains will get what is coming to them.  Nagrand will be on top.  That will be the easy choice.  There will be a bit of a fight for second place.  And then it will be the struggle to stay out of last place.  Look for that post some day.

Finally, there is the context of all of this, which was the desire just to get to Northrend and be done with Outland.

All of which threatened to turn me into a whiny six year old in the back seat of the car on a trip asking constantly, “Are we there yet?  When are we going to get there?  Why aren’t we there yet?”

My druid got through it fairly quickly.  He had gone through almost all of Nagrand with the xp bonus in play, so only had to play through the first two quest hubs in the Blade’s Edge Mountains before he hit 68 and was able to sail to Northrend.

On the boat, styling into Valliance Keep

My DK however… He had done some of Nagrand before the bonus went away, but finished it up after it was gone, leaving him having to go deep into the Blade’s Edge Mountains.

Which includes being launched around the zone

I will say that the quest chain that throws you around the zone from Toshley’s station is a pretty cute idea… so long as you do it at exactly the right time.  One of the interesting/odd aspects of TBC as an expansion is that you can see, usually after the fact, that certain quests were meant to be done along side other ones, or in conjunction with another series… and that it is completely possible, if not totally likely, that your typical obsessive quest finishing MMO player will screw that up.

And I am that typical player.  But, as I said, flying helped mitigate that issue.

Bypassing complications

I ended up flying all over.  Just to repeat yet again, without flying it would have been quite a walk.  After quite a bit of back and forth.  It was enough that when my DK hit 67 I took the boat to Northrend just to see if I could get any quests.  But no, they were not talking to anybody under level 68.

But I am a DK, I am totally OP, I can handle it!

I even toyed with the idea of just grinding mobs on the beach in Borean Tundra.

See, I could totally finish those quests at 67

But without any blue bar that was going to be a grind on its own.  So I went back and ran from Death’s Door to Raven’s Wood and places in between until I finally turned in a quest on a bridge in the middle of somewhere and hit level 68.

There should be an achievement for 68 instead of 70

Then I got on my mount, hit the nearest flight point, and headed to Shattrath to take the portal to Stormwind so I could make it back to Borean Tundra.  Along the way I deleted all the Outland quests from my journal, which ended up showing me something I cannot recall seeing before.

No quests listed

When your quest log is empty it has little cobwebs on it.  When has my quest log ever been empty in the last 16 years except when starting a fresh character… and usually the first thing you do is grab a quest.

So that was it.  I managed to get my fourth character to level 68 and into Northrend.  Now I just have to get on my way to finding out what the Lich King is up to.

Nether Ray Mounts Obtained

I think I started working on Burning Crusade factions at some point after we had mostly wrapped up Wrath of the Lich King but before I had beaten the Argent Tournament to death.  It was a transitional age, where achievements were still somewhat new, mounts no longer took up bag slots, and collecting one of each seemed to be encouraged.  The hunt for mounts began.

The first stop for me was Nagrand.  I do not really remember why at this point… it might have been to harvest netherweave for Ula… but I wanted to get the Talbuk mounts that the Kurenai will sell you when you hit exalted.  The Kurenai faction grind is pretty manageable, something I was reminded of with my latest look into Nagrand.  Slaughtering ogres for netherweave also gets you war beads that you can turn in for a faction bump, plus every ogre is worth a few points of faction with the Kureani.  I was on a talbuk mount in no time… just about five years back. (See, this is why I blog, because I’d never remember when I did this otherwise.)

Talbuk in the Snow

Talbuk in the Snow

That also got me to the 10 mount achievement and made me think about getting more mounts.

From there I went on to the Argent Tournament.  That was the easiest way to get to exalted with the alliance city factions and there were a number of special mounts to be had, including my long time favorite, the Silver Covenant Hippogryph.  I spend a lot of time on dailies at the Argent Tournament and in other parts of Northrend.  I even made the chopper.  Eventually Northrend began to peter out and I looked back to Outland for more mounts.  I even made a start with the Netherwing and the Sha’tari Skyguard, but by the time I was working on those Cataclysm was just around the corner.

And after Cataclysm, well… there was the long break from World of Warcraft.

My daughter an I returned to Azeroth last summer, and with the Warlords of Draenor announcement, the full instance group team was back in the game and working our way through the content by basically picking up where we left off with our group in Wrath of the Lich King.  A return to form and good times.

And I got myself invested back in the game and started doing all the little side activities, including hunting for mounts again.  That got me back to Outland again where, after some fumbling about, I was finally able to pick up where I left off and finish the Netherwing faction and pick up the netherdrake mounts.

Down at Crazy Barthamus' Netherdrake Dealership

Down at Crazy Barthamus’ Netherdrake Dealership

And once I finished that I turned my eye to the Sha’tari Skyguard and their nether ray mounts.  I started in on that and then… stopped.  I went looking for other things to do.  I started on the quest for the Loremaster achievement.  It wasn’t that the faction grind for the Skyguard was difficult.  It is actually pretty doable, as you are not as dependent on daily quests as with the Netherwing and if you can buckle down and just hang around Skettis for a day, you can plow through it.  (Earl did that.  He is an iron man on grinds.)  I just had other things I wanted to do.

Eventually though, as the summer passed, I started looking at where I stood and what I wanted to get done before Warlords of Draenor launched… or even before the 6.0 patch dropped… and saw the Sha’tari Skyguard sitting at revered on my faction list and said, “Time to wrap this up!”  So I headed out to Skettis in the corner of Terokkar Forest and buckled down to work through the 10K faction I was shy of exalted.

Skettis, where the bird people are

Skettis, where the bird people are

And while progress seemed like it should be slow… you get a big 12 faction points for popping Arakoaa… but with the little quests and the drops you can turn in adding up, it ended up going by pretty quickly.  And it is a pretty good low attention task, so you can listen to a podcast or an audio book while you work through it.  So, before long I hit the mark, made it to exalted, and the achievement was mine.

NetherRayAchievement

Two achievements down with that, as it was also my 35th exalted, which is about 34 more than I would have told you I expected to get back in vanilla WoW.  And then, of course, I had to go buy the five nether ray mounts (bumping my mount total to 138), the nether ray fry pet, and the tabard that are all unlocked with exalted status.  I think the red nether ray is my favorite.  It stands out amongst pack.

Red Nether Ray

Red Nether Ray

Another item to check off my list.  And this might even count as a Bragtoberfest item as well… I think.  It is an achievement and all.

And now, with the 6.0 patch looming, I am wondering what I should work on next.  At some point I want to get a set of battle pets up to level 25 so I can finish up catching all the ones in the wild.  I am past the 250 mark for pets caught, but my top three pets are only level 21 at this point and I haven’t even started on Northrend, Cataclysm, or Pandaria, and it might be nice to wrap up there before all the new zones roll in with Warlords of Draenor.

 

Sliding Down the Blade’s Edge

Last time around I found my progress towards the Loremaster achievement in World of Warcraft… well… if not thwarted, at least delayed.  While I did a lot of quests in Nagrand, I found myself 12 quests shy of the achievement, and for 11 of those 12 quests I need a group or to be level 70.

Not the end of the world.  It isn’t like I will lose that progress if I run off and do something else.  But I had hit a stride of having racked up at least one more achievement each week as I pressed forward towards my goal, only to have my streak broken.  It was a minor hit to my morale.

But what are you going to do?

I wasn’t going to give up, so the only thing to do was to press on to the next zone.  For Outland, that would be the Blade’s Edge Mountains.

Blade's Edge Mountains Map

Blade’s Edge Mountains Map

I did not have an intro quest for the zone, and I do not think I had actually run a quest in the zone since maybe 2008.  So the first thing I did was head off to Stormwind to turn my experience bar back on.

I had turned the bar off at Nagrand so as to not out-level all of the content into complete triviality.  Now, with Nagrand behind me and the zones ahead pretty much okay for up to level 70, it was time to resume leveling.

Then it was back through the Dark Portal to Outland.

Coming soon: A DARKER Portal

Coming soon: A DARKER Portal to a new Outland!

It was time to find my way to the Blade’s Edge Mountains.

More after the cut.

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Slammed in Nagrand

After finishing Terokkar Forest last week I was feeling a bit optimistic about the next zone on my Loremater project checklist.  I was headed to Nagrand.

Nagrand Map

Nagrand Map

I was optimistic for a few reasons.  The first was because Nagrand is a zone that I seem to carry some fondness for in the back of my brain.  I remember doing the Kurenai faction grind, which is pretty easily accomplished if you have a yen for slaughtering ogres and collecting their war beads.  I finished that effort and have all of the talbuk mounts to prove it.  And while Hemet Nesingwary was lurking out there in the zone, what could he possibly do to me that he hadn’t done a dozen or so times before?

Hemet's Camp/Crash Site

Hemet’s Camp/Crash Site

The second reason was because I was already underway in the chase for the 75 quests needed for the Nagrand achievement.  Finishing up Terokkar required me to start in on Nagrand to pick up a quest line that would lead back to Terokkar.  So I was starting 10 quests up.  Go me.

Finally, Nagrand is kind of a pleasant zone, made up of rolling green hill with some rivers surrounded by hills, which keeps you from thinking about the color of the sky.

Flying in Nagrand

Flying in Nagrand

There are only a few ogre mounds and floating rocks and other oddities that mark much of the terrain of Outland.  And even the floating rocks are covered in green turf.

What could go wrong?

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Two Shy in Terokkar Forest

The chase for the Loremaster title continues in Outland.  Having decided to go through the unfinished zones the hard way, at level with a character new to each zone, it was time to get started.  My rogue, Trianis, ran through some of Hellfire Peninsula in order to gear up a bit and get to level 62 so that quests would be available, then headed into Terokkar Forest.

Map of Terokkar Forest

Map of Terokkar Forest

I will start off by stipulating that everything I bitched about while doing Bloodmyst Isle is present in Terokkar Forest as well; too many “kill 12 things” quests, the “kill 12 things” quests where there are only 15 things so if two people are trying to do the quest you start to hate each other, horrible drop rates for quests that require drops, having to run back and forth across the zone, being sent to kill minions and running back to the quest giver only to be told you now have to kill the boss behind all the now respawned minions, too many quests available to the player at one so that any story thread gets lost, and at least three escort quests where the NPC seems to actively seek out hostiles.

It is all there in the Blizzard of 2007, “People like quest? Then we will drown them in quests!” vision of how to make an MMO.

As I have said before, I have pretty much bought into Blizzard’s more recent vision of how to do a zone, where they limit you to two or three quests at a time to keep the story clear, pop up the “kill the boss” quest right then and there once you have killed the minions (or at least put the minions in combat with some of your allies so you don’t have to clear the field every time you need to pass through), and do not rely quite so heavily  “go kill a dozen foozles while we figure out where to send you next” mechanics.

And before you ask, no I don’t hate The Burning Crusade.  It has/had some of the best dungeon content in the game.  The instance group had quite a time there.  It is just the solo, overland quest philosophy that aches now even more than it did back then.

Anyway, all of that is there and… at least from this point forward… I will try not to dwell on those aspects of the zone.  They were at least mitigated by having access to a flying mount (though I started to yearn for the faster mounts after a few round trips) and playing through with a rogue who could at least stealth through bad guys at need.

So on to the zone… after the cut.

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Whither Outland?

After finishing up the 1-60 achievements for my Loremaster project, culminating with the Bloodmyst Isle run, I hit a bit of wall in my effort.  I can be a very goal oriented person, but once the goal has been achieved I sometimes drop right off.  So while I had a lot of fun going through all of the zones I had not previously finished after Cataclysm, I was now facing a new goal in the form of another set of zones in Outland.  Five of the seven level 60-70 zones from The Burning Crusade,waited for me.

Outland Map

Outland Map

Those five zones held a total of 434 quests to be done.

  • Terokkar Forest  62-65 – 63 quests
  • Nagrand  64-67 – 75 quests
  • Blade’s Edge Mountains 65-68 – 86 quests
  • Netherstorm 66-70 – 120 quests
  • Shadowmoon Valley  67-70 – 90 quests

After Bloodmyst Isle I was not ready to face that, so I slept for a bit.  My WoW play time pretty much dropped off a cliff.  If it had not been for Darkmoon Faire, it might have dropped to zero.

But this week revived my spirits a bit.  With the release date announcement coming, I knew it would also put a limit on how much time I had to screw around with old stuff before the fresh, new expansion fun began.  So the question had to be answered: How was I going to deal with Outland?

The easiest path was to just dig through some of my higher level characters who had already made it through the expansion and use them to finish up whatever zones they were close to being done with.  I have characters that are within 25 quests of being done for the first three of the zones listed.  That would rush me through some of it, but would leave me two zones I left to run.

The downside of that plan is the fact that running zones with a high level takes a lot of the fun out of things.  One shotting mobs gets old… and annoying when you have a quest that requires you to get them down to 20% health and apply a gizmo to them… and is a sure fire way to turn the whole thing into a numbers game.

The other option was to draw from a set of characters I had ready for Outland… I ended up my 1-60 run with a level 58 Monk, a level 59 Warrior, and a Level 61 Rogue… press through the early bits… I already have Hellfire Peninsula and Zangarmarsh done… and take on the zones at level.

The real upside to this plan, beyond doing the quests at level so as to feel some connection to things, is that it feels like it might be a perfectly timed review of the Outland content before Warlords of Draenor shows up and presents a different view of these zones.

A Better Draenor vs. Outland map

Draenor vs. Outland map

To test this out I brought my level 61 Rogue, Trianis, through the portal… soon to be “the old portal” I suppose, though with time travel it might just be “the other portal” or some such… to see if I was really ready.

On a bombing mission before we had the whole vehicle thing...

On a bombing mission before we had the whole vehicle thing…

Things went okay, though my good feelings were mitigated by a couple of factors.

The first was that Hellfire Peninsula is literally the most familiar place in Outland for me.  As the starting, kick-off zone, I have been through at least the first half of it with every single character over 60, just to gear up some before running instances if nothing else.  So I knew the story, I knew which quests out of the big pile to do in which order to avoid retracing my steps repeatedly, I knew where the named mobs hung out even without the little skull on the mini-map,  and I knew exactly where to find those damn prayer beads for the exorcism.  (Not to mention what to do during the exorcism, which is confusing even if you have read the quest text.)

Plus, having hit level 60, I had the skill and access to a wide selection of flying mounts, so I was able to avoid pounding back and forth through the same mobs.

And, being a rogue helps.  The whole stealth thing lets you bypass trash and get straight to the point.  Plus, at level 60, I got the “I Win!” button… or skill.

Cloak and Dagger...

Cloak and Dagger…

I chose this skill after hitting level 60 because… well… it is yet another reason why people who don’t play rogues hate them.

I just have to stealth myself within 40 yards of my target and activate one of my “Hey, surprise, gotcha!” skill and I am teleported directly behind the mob and get that first attack pretty much for free.  And with at level mobs, my pair of heirloom weapons, and a crit, that can be a one-shot kill.  Even I hate me for having access to that sort of skill.

So I was able to carve a path through the zone, upgrade his gear, and get him to level 62 in fairly short order.  Now I have to find my way to the starting quest for Terokkar Forest, the first zone on the list.  My memories are pretty sparse when it comes to that zone.  There are some blood elves and a big spider, right?

Yeah, that one...

Yeah, that one…

That screen shot was taken back in 2008.

We shall see if I have a pre-WoD tour of Outland in me.  If I can get on that bicycle, there will be a few more zone touring posts.

Three Zones Through the Outlands

The Outlands occupy a strange place now in World of Warcraft.  They represent a hurdle between classic Azeroth and the current destination location of Northrend.  Most people, it seems, don’t want to get to the Outlands, they just want to get past them.

Put me on that list as well, I guess.

My daughter, my mother, and myself have been lingering in the Outlands for a couple of months.  This slow progress has been mostly because my daughter spends a lot of her time distracted making alts, figuring out how to get on top of buildings, and taming new pets for her hunter.

Once in a while though she is driven to actually concentrate on her main character for a bit.  And so it was, a couple of  Sundays back, when she suddnely declared she had hit level 68 and was now ready to venture into Northrend.

That meant there was some catching up to be done!

I was not horribly far behind, sitting around level 65.  I had been through the Hellfire Peninsula quests and was working my way through Zangarmarsh.

A diligent weekend afternoon got me through Zangarmarsh, after which I jumped to Nagrand, which seemed most appropriate for my level.  And then another couple of focused hours in Nagrand got me to 68 and ready to ascend to Northrend.

So three zones worth of content was about enough.

I did divert into Terokkar and the Blade’s Edge Mountains for a couple of “go talk to…” quests, but never ran down the follow-ons.

I also ran one and a half instances with the dungeon finder.  And the half instance was barely that, as I got kicked because, as healer, I couldn’t keep the level 61 tank alive when he pulled full rooms of mobs in the Steamvault.  The group did me a favor on that one.  Good luck to the next healer, I thought, if a level 67 resto spec’d druid running HealBot can’t keep this guy alive.

So there were some other sources of experience, but not enough that I would have had to visit another zone.  I left Nagrand with quests left on my plate.

And so I left The Burning Crusade for Wrath of the Lich King.

I knew the Outlands had more content than needed to get you from 60 to 70, but when you only have to get to 68, you pretty much shave off a whole zone or so worth of content.

And when you can fly at level 60, even the run through those few zones goes pretty quickly.

Now just another seven levels until I can fly again.

Hellfire Ramparts

The weekend before last, while I was sitting in the warm Ka’anapali sunshine, drinking lava flows, and advising on Pokemon, the instance group went back to Stratholme for episode 97 of “The Baron’s Revenge – No Pants for You!” They were rewarded with the now familiar ironic drops of mail and leather items for a group that wears cloth and plate armor.

Last weekend, returned and refreshed, I rejoined the group as we decided to head someplace new.

We decided to step through the portal as a group and begin the Burning Crusade instances.

As a group we were all heading into the back stretch of level 62 and were starting to worry that we might be out levelling the new content while we mucked about in the old world. So, as a group, we moved on. We went in as:

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

We got on Saturday night and, once to Honor Hold, the first thing we had to do was actually find the instance.

Not noticing exactly how close it was to Honor Hold, we ran right past it and to the Southern Rampart.

We climbed up on that and ran around for a bit until we spotted a dungeon meeting stone far below us.

Looking for a short cut to get to it, Skronk hit Bung with power word shield and Bung jumped over the edge of the rampart… and went splat.

Undeterred, and seeing a ledge part way down that I thought might save me from a similar fate, Skronk hit Vikund with power word shield (even though we were pretty sure it wasn’t going to help by that point) and over the edge I went.

And splat I went as well.

Ula floated down past our corpses using slow fall and looking like a gnome in a glass elevator while Skronk found a safe way down for himself.

And once they got to the meeting stone, they found out it wasn’t the one we were looking for. We were too low level to even use it.

Eventually, after more running around, but no more dying, we found the right location.

Once in, things went reasonably smoothly. The instance is very linear. There are only three boss fights. They were:

We just happened to need to slay all three of these for the quest Weaken the Ramparts.

Getting to these fights was work, but not a huge challenge. There are lots of closely arrayed groups in the instance, with patrols wandering through, so we were kept on our toes. It wasn’t as hairy as Stratholme was for us, but we had to be careful. Here we are, a few fights in, sizing up the next set of groups:

Ramparts Lineup

And our care paid off, as we knocked off one group after another without much in the way of drama or sudden intakes of breath.

First we made our way to Gargolmar, who walks a patrol with two minions not far inside the instance. We cleared out all the groups along his beat, then pulled his little group over. Earl tanked Gargolmar while the Ula sheeped… pigged… polymorphed one of the minions, then we all piled the other minion. He went down fast, then we cleared up the other one, then went in with Earl and finished of Gargolmar.

One down.

There was more clearing of mobs until we got to a choice of directions. One way lead to Omor, the other to Vazruden. For no particular reason, we chose to go with Omor first. I guess he seemed a bit closer. We could certainly see him from where we were standing.

Like Gargolmar, he has two minions, so we did the exact same routine. We were not quite as successful this time around. Here we are in the fight. You can see some additional minions in with us, Omor summons those throughout the fight.

rampartomor.png

A bad hit killed Earl late in the fight and Ula went down as well, but we won in the end.

Two down.

That just left us with Vazruden. Here was the challenge.

There is a bridge to him, with a pair of guards at either end. The pair at the near end went down easy. The pair at the far end though trigger the battle event with Vazruden and him mount.

His mount proved to be the trick.

We went straight in and killed the two guards. That gets Vazruden, who is just flying around in a lazy circle on his dragon, to come in low, dismount, and attack. Here he is coming for us:

rampartherecomesvazruden.png

Earl and I went in and things were going well until we got him down to about 30% of his health. At that point, his dragon mount joins in the fight, and he has a killer breath weapon.

We managed to kill Vazruden, but Nazan did in Earl and Vikund almost immediately, then rounded up the rest of the team.

We felt we were close. Skronk used the soul stone and ressed us up. Fortunately, the encounter resets itself if you fail, so we got another run at it.

The second time around we did not even kill Vazruden. And we did not have a soul stone.

Fortunately, as I wrote above, the instance is very close to Honor Hold and the graveyard therein. Also going our way was the fact that nothing in the instance had respawned yet, so we had a clear run back to the encounter.

The third try also went awry. We had learned to stay clear of Nazan’s breath weapon, but the transition between Vazruden and Nazan was putting so much damage on Earl that he died again, and the battle with Nazan needed all five of us.

After running back for a fourth try, we started in again. As we approached the point when Nazan joins in, I decided to pull Vikund back and use up his mana helping Skronk heal while Earl was enduring the high damage phase of the battle.

This turned out to be just enough. Vazruden went down and Earl was still well stocked with hit points. After running down my mana, I ran in to melee with Earl and Nazan went down at last. Here we are in our hard earned victory shot.

rampartvazvictory.png

Three down.

You can see skeletons from our previous attempts in the picture.

We nearly missed the chest that sits on the far side of the area that Vazruden and Nazan patrol, which had a couple of very nice items, the Ironsole Clompers, which Vikund won on the roll, and the Mok’Nathal Clan Ring, which Earl won.

After that, all we had to do was run back and turn in the quest. Now, from the instance, it looks like you can just hop off the rampart and run to Honor Hold.

rampartshhviewsmall.png

It is, however, an illusion. You have to run back through the instance, which still had not respawned for us, exit, then run to Honor Hold.

After the quest turn in, we were all closing in on level 63.

I had read at some point that the five person instances in the Outlands were going to move away from the giant monstrosities, like Wailing Caverns and become doable in a more reasonable time frame. We started in on Hellfire Ramparts at 9pm and were done by midnight Pacific time, which is pretty reasonable indeed.

Next week we should be looking into Blood Furnace.