Tag Archives: Outland

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.