Tag Archives: Wrath of the Lich King

Arrival in Dalaran

Citizens of Dalaran! Raise your eyes to the skies and observe!

I have arrived!

Okay, maybe I’m not up in the skies yet, but I made it to Dalaran with my first character.

The map of the city

A problem with showing up on day one for Wrath Classic attempting to play four characters, none of which were higher than level 68 at the time, is that you tend to be a bit behind the curve when it comes to leveling up.

By the time I had my group of four all up to level 70 I was already competing in the two starting zones with level 72 alts on flying mounts zipping between objectives and dropping down on harvesting nodes as I slogged around on the ground.   You see, while you need to be level 77 to unlock cold weather flying in Northrend for your first character, you can buy it and pass it on to your alts as long as they’re level 70.

Anyway, that wasn’t the big problem.  The big problem was that Northrend is kind of an annoying place to play when you’re stuck in the first few zones without easy access to a real city with a bank and all the other facilities.  I left my hearthstone set to Shattrath on my characters because it has the basics and portals back to the major alliance cities.

So visiting the bank generally means stoning back to Shat, taking a portal to either Stormwind or Ironforge, then taking the boat from there to get back to Northrend, a bit of a trek at times.

Because of this I decided to push forward with one of my characters and get to Dalaran.  That means getting to level 74.  Irondam, my Deathknight, was my choice.  Despite having been barely level 66 when Wrath unlocked, he is fun and hilariously OP for overland questing solo.  I made him the glyph that removes the cool down on the death grip skill on a kill than generates honor or xp, so he can basically run around grabbing mobs he needs, chain yanking them away from their friends, who don’t notice half the time.

With that I managed to work my way through Borean Tundra and Howling Fjord and well into Dragonblight before I finally hit 74.

On leveling it was time to recall to Ebon Hold to train up skills.  Then the hearthstone and portal route back to Stormwind to take the boat to Borean Tundra to start looking toward traveling to Dalaran, because I honestly had no recollection about actually getting there back in 2008.  With Cataclysm‘s arrival you just got the Dalaran flight point by default so there was no issue.

So I opened up the map and was wondering the best route to take to Crystalsong Forest, above which the city floats, having some idea that maybe there was a quest down there that would unlock the teleporter gem down in the forest that brings you up to the city.  That was going to be some travel and probably some sort of quest… I was settling in for what I expected to be some effort.

And then I noticed a guy at the Inn had a new quest for me.

Pssst… hey, you wanna go to Dalaran?

The quest was to go to Dalaran and speak to somebody.  I didn’t bother reading the quest text… because of course not.  And then, wanting to document this epic journey I clicked on him again to get that screen shot and got this dialog from him,

I guess there will be no epic trip

So I clicked on that and I was in Dalaran.  I have no memory of the whole thing being that simple… though there is a distinct possibility I somehow did it the hard way back in 2008.

Yes, there was a little quest to run to unlock the teleporter from Crystalsong Forest, but the first thing I did was get the flight point, connecting myself to the rest of the places I had been so far, and ensuring I could get back in case I messed things up somehow.  I have that ability.

All flight points lead to Dalaran

Meanwhile, being in Dalaran was… just kind of normal.  Unlike the ongoing, “Oh yeah, I remember that!” experience I have been having out in the zones so far, Dalaran itself was completely familiar.  That is likely because I have probably spent more time in Dalaran than any other city in the game.  Hell, they moved Dalaran so it could be the main city in the Legion expansion.

There were certainly some old school bits to it, like the portals back to the main cities.

These get taken away with the Cataclysm pre-patch.

And now my Death Knight needs to carry on.  The next goal is 77 and the unlock of Cold Weather Flying.

Soon it will be Zoidberg’s turn to fly!

Then, if I can scrape up the gold, I can be the guy with lower level alts able to fly… and then they can fly on up to Dalaran and get the flight point there on their own.

Addendum: I wrote this and then later in the day we went to Star’s Rest and Ula got teleport to Dalaran at level 72.  Them mages.  But she won’t get portal to Dalaran until 74, at which point alts can jump in.

A Near Run Win in The Nexus

After last weeks test run we were back in Coldarra and ready to give The Nexus.  We failed on the last boss, Keristrasza, in that first run, but otherwise seemed to stumble through fairly well.  So we were keen to try again.

We had just one problem:  There were only four of us.  For characters, we always only have four people playing.

Beanpole wasn’t sure when he would be able to play on Sunday, so the rest of the group logged on and figured we would get things warmed up.  We went out and finished up one quest line that we had missed last week that led to a quest in the instance and, specifically, to the quest that requires the defeat of Keristrasza.

To defeat the dragon, first you must ride the dragon I guess…

Then, after finishing that up, we figured we could go into the instance and at least clear up some trash.  So we headed into the instance.  There are a couple of single mobs at the start, which we warmed up on.  Then we started the clockwise path around the instance, slaying a double, then the triple with the mini boss, then a few more groups until we were starting to get pretty far into things.

The Nexus Map

And we were doing okay.  We bypassed Grand Magus Telestra, because we barely finished her off last time as a group of five, but past here we ended up into the platforms.

More groups to fight

We managed to get past the first of those and on into the rift section of the instance.  We pushed along, having figured out a couple of things along the way, like the fact that the chaotic rifts don’t move, so you can pull the mobs fighting them to you and leave them for later.  Last time we were diving in and taking everybody at once.

We managed to work our way through to Anomalus, the second boss, up at 2 o’clock on the map.  We were not sure how well this would work out.  His fight is pretty simple.  Fight him, when he summons a rift, fight the rift and AOE the non-elites it spawns, then go back to fighting him.

We decided to go for it, if for no other reason than one of the quests we had required to stand on his platform, behind where he starts, and run a device.

For the quest Postponing the Inevitable

So we dove into it and, while the fight ran long… Beanpole is a big part of our DPS… we managed to hold on, close rifts, switch back to the boss, and stay alive without a lot of drama.  We eventually dropped him, then went and did the quest update.

Questie lets you know when everybody gets the update

From there it was back down the east side of the instance to Ormorok.  We had fought him before with a short group… specifically without Beanpole… and survived… mostly… so we felt pretty good about another run at him.

Eyeing him before we spring

This time around the fight went… better.  Pretty well, actually.  We all jumped out of his special attack and nobody died save the dog.  But, as with last time, we were denied the plate pieces that were two of the three possible drops, getting the fist weapon again.

But, every weapon is a hunter weapon, so this time Bjorid took it to see if the big agility bonus it offered would help… once he trained fist weapons.

After Ormorok we made our way back to the start of the instance and Beanpole still hadn’t arrived.  With no other plan, we went over to give Grand Magus Telestra a try.

This had been a tough fight for the full group last time, mostly due to the chaotic middle section where Telestra summons three images of herself, one casting fire spells, one frost spells, and one arcane.

And this time was no different… we had a plan to crowd control, but then it got pooched when the three images went in different directions and I managed to break CC at least twice.  The burden of pally tanking in WotLK is that I am all about the AOE attacks.  Still, we managed to hold on.  I panicked at one point and laid hands on myself when I probably didn’t need to.  But, in the end we managed to take her down.

We took a victory shot with her because we thought that might be the peak of our run.

Victory shot

She did grace us with a nice bit of loot that went to Fergorin.

Plate wrists for the pally healer

With Telestra down we really only had Keristrasza.

That seemed like a longshot, and Beanpole was nowhere in sight yet.  But we had no other plan for the day, so we headed over to poke the dragon.

Our first run was a bit of a shambles.  I forgot to jump, we were all over the place, and we were quickly defeated.

But we ran back from the graveyard, back to the instance, and got ourselves setup again.  We would give it one more try.

And the second run went pretty well.  We were all on our marks, everybody remembered to jump or move to avoid the build up of the frost DoT, and three of us had the Addon Decursive installed, which allowed a quick click to dispel any debuffs.  The whole thing was going very smoothly.

Until we ran out of mana.

I figured that might be the sticking point if we got our act together, that we wouldn’t have the damage to finish the dragon off.  And so as the mana ran out we went down for another wipe.

Another wipe in The Nexus

We were so close, with Keristrasza down to 20% before we ran out of mana and wiped.  We were wondering if there was anything else we could throw into the mix to get us over the hump when the Discord channel chimed with the arrival of a new person; Beanpole had finally made it.

He wanted to know if he was too late and I practically shouted that he was just in time.

So he got logged in and Fergorin and I ran out to the summoning stone to bring him over to the instance.  Then we had to run around and slay some mobs because he was out of soul shards, the fuel that keeps a warlock going.

Once that was done we set up before Keristrasza, got ready, and… wiped very quickly.

We were clearly not quite ready.  Beanpole needed a warm up and perhaps took the “jump” think too seriously and inadvertently cancelled some of his spell casting.

So we got ready once more.

Ready for the final go

And we got in there and… it went pretty smoothly.  With Beanpole on his game and delivering damage like only a warlock can, we were able to power through and bring down the dragon.  There was a bit of a panic as Keristrasza gets amped up at low HP, but we had enough healing to keep me going.  Dragon down, dungeon complete.

Been there, got the achievement

Keristrasza even gave us a nice loot drop.

The dragon pays out

Those went to Beanpole as a serious upgrade over his current shoes.

We took a picture with Keristrasza to mark our victory.

The team with Keristrasza

And then we realized we still had to get Beanpole a couple of quest updates.  We ran back to where Anomolous was, taking the straight route to 12 o’clock to avoid the respawns that were appearing along our initial route through the dungeon.  We managed to stay ahead, and got to the spot on the platform where Beanpole could get his quest update.

Then we skirted along the eastern side of the instance to one of the mobs we had bypassed.  Beanpole needed one more drop to finish up another quest.

Then it was out and we were done.  Beanpole did miss out on one of the quests, but otherwise we were done with The Nexus.

Coldarra and a Peek into The Nexus

The next dungeon on the list for us was The Nexus, which is over in the Coldarra section of Borean Tundra.  So we left Howling Fjord and headed west.

Coldarra

Though, it was not immediately obvious that The Nexus was our next instance destination.  When we finished Utgarde Keep a looked at the dungeons by level chart over at WoW Head and the second one on the list was actually Azjol-Nerub.

The list as displayed

So I was wondering how deep we might need to go into the Dragonblight zone to pick up quests for that dungeon when Potshot pointed out that the sort order when it came to levels was suspect.

Why isn’t The Nexus, which says levels 71-73, in the second spot?  I do not know, but we adjusted our plans accordingly.

We had made it to Coldarra during our initial push into Borean Tundra when Wrath Classic went live, but then had swapped to Howling Fjord in order to line up for Utgarde Keep.  So the flight point was available to us, but none of the quests in that area had been done.

Beanpole and I were on early and decided to scout some of the quests to see what we needed to do to get quests lined up for The Nexus.  There were a few we cranked out early because they were not shared updates.  Then the rest of the crew showed up and we ran around Coldarra counter clockwise two more times to wrap up quests and get everybody on the same page.

The group for The Nexus

And then it was down into the center of the zone to scout out The Nexus.

Unlike our travels outside the instance, The Nexus runs clockwise in a circle and starts at the six o’clock mark.  There is a mini-boss almost immediately, and a book to pick up for one of the quests we had.

Along the first path

They and most of the mobs along that way were just a warm up for the Grand Magus Telestra who lives between the Halls of Stasis and the Librarium.

Making our way to the first real boss

Our first encounter with Grand Magus Telestra did not go well.  We had cleared all the nearby mobs and, as we got ourselves together for a plan, there was a pet mis-fire and Bjorid’s wolf ran out to the attack and managed to get within aggro radius before he could be called back, so it was on.

We lost, but we got further than we might have I suppose, given the sudden nature of the assault.  So we lined up again and actually made a plan.

Rushing her clearly isn’t enough

The plan did not go… well… as planned.  We had some ideas about using crowd control at the mid-fight venture where she divides into three, a fire, frost, and arcane version of herself, but that fell through.  However, we still managed to power through the whole thing and bring her down.  One boss done.

Sure, call it “luck”

From there it was a zig-zag clockwise though to the platforms and the next boss, Anomalus, at about 2 o’clock on the map.

Always a crowd on the platforms

There was something in the back of my head about an easy way to bypass some of the trash mobs by jumping off a platform at the right point, but I couldn’t recall and we were able to fight our way through the various groups without loss.  A little more time taken, a little more xp earned I suppose.

The fight with Anomalus went surprisingly well.

Anomalus standing tall

I remember that fight being a problem back in the day, but we got it right on the first try, which is a bit of a bonus for us.  Beat on him, beat on the chaotic rifts when he summons them, then go back to beating on him.  Piece of cake.

From there it was down into The Singing Grove and the back half of the lap around The Nexus.  And it was here that we had some problems.

Nothing to do with the game really.  Beanpole got called away from the computer for a while and went on follow.  Standing around with nothing else to do, we started clearing some groups with Beanpole in tow.  That worked until he got knocked off follow while we were fighting some mobs and didn’t notice until he died.

Beanpole left behind

The little mobs around there don’t die until the local boss dies, they just curl up then pop back up after a bit, so Beanpole on his own got mobbed by non-elite mobs.  And he wasn’t even around to take a ress.

With nothing else to do while we waited, we managed to clear our way to the next boss, Ormorok the Tree-Shaper and decided to try him as a group of four… or a group of 3.5 since Fergorin and Bjorid were both being run by Potshot.

It seemed like a good idea at the time.  During the fight though, it was more of a near run thing.

This is getting down to the wire

We managed to pull it off though, which seemed more than a bit unlikely for us.

Ormorok down, but we paid a price

The one real pisser about this fight was that Ormorok was the one boss that had two plate items that could drop, shoulders that would have been a big upgrade for me or boots that would have been a big upgrade for Fergorin, and instead we got the damn fist weapon as a drop.

Of course, it was just after that fight that Beanpole came back.  Finding himself dead and alone, he released and ran back to the instance before we could ress him.  That meant fighting our way to him through the few remaining mobs… which also meant he missed a drop he needed for one of the dungeon quests.  Something else on the list.

Meeting up with Beanpole back at the start of the instance, we cleared out the mobs around the final boss, Keristrasza.

Ready to be awakened

Back when we first did The Nexus back 2009 I wrote something about dragons and dragon fights being special.  That was about a thousand dragon fights ago, and dragons are no longer all that special.  Blizzard has gone so far as to make a whole expansion… launching later this month… based entirely on dragons where you ride dragons, fight dragons, play as dragons… basically all dragons all the time.

So yeah, dragon fight… everybody stands off to the side avoiding the breath cone coming out of the mouth and the area effect sweet of the tail while the tank holds the beast in place.   I did remember, in advance of the fight, that there was some special effect that would build up unless you moved or jumped every few seconds… something I mentioned before the fight then immediately forgot once the fight started, which meant we wiped.

That did not go as planned

Fortunately the graveyard is just a quick jaunt from the instance, so we ran back to do it again…. and failed.

And tried again, and nearly made it, but still wiped.

Close but not quite enough

After a few runs of getting close it was getting down to the end of our time.  We didn’t have quite enough oomph to carry it off, so we will have to return to The Nexus.

But we have to return anyway to get that last quest update for Beanpole… and to finish another quest we totally forgot about while we were in the dungeon… and there is actually another quest we didn’t pick up.

In the mean time Potshot went and researched the fight and has some ideas for getting it right next time.

Returning for Ingvar’s Head

We were back for our third run at Utgarde Keep, and I wasn’t sure we were even going to make it all the way through. It was Sunday afternoon and we hadn’t really setup a time so while I got online and was playing from about 2pm forward, we didn’t get the whole group together and rolling until almost 4pm.

The place where we were headed once again

We generally have dinner by about 6pm at our house and, while time is an illusion and dinner time doubly so, that doesn’t mean that the food is going to stay warm if we are still in a dungeon trying to figure out a boss fight.  So I was a bit motivated to get moving forward.  Potshot and I were the first to the dungeon so went over to the summoning stone to pull the rest of the group in.

Once we figured out how to work the summoning stone

Once the whole group was there we distributed treats and health stones and buffs and got straight to business.  Our group for the run was as follows.

Almost all level 71

Being a tank in a hurry, I led the group through, bypassing any mobs we didn’t absolutely have to take on.  So we left behind that last group in the Furnace of Hate and about half the mobs in the Dragon Flayer Pens and were soon enough in the room with Prince Keleseth once more.

Having defeated him on the first go last time, we were going to find out whether it was skill or luck (or maybe just knowledge) that got us through.

We either had the latter or experienced the former again, because we brought Keleseth down without loss on the first try once more.

Keleseth sleeping on the job again

He was good enough to drop the Reinforced Velvet Helm again, so Beanpole got it this time.

Reinforced Velvet Helm

Then we were off and moving once more, clearing our way up to the second boss set, Skarvald and Dalronn.  We took a few tries to take them last time around but, as with Keleseth, we thought we had the answer to this fight… and it was pretty much the same answered as the once for Keleseth; stick close and burn them down.

Most of us in close with the boss pair

They moved around a bit and Fergorin managed to get just out of melee range, which was enough to earn him a thumping and a knock down from Skarvald, but we managed to hold it together.  We got Skarvald down to 50%, then changed to Dalronn and, with and the AOE going off, we managed to drop them both again within a heartbeart of each other.

They were less rewarding on the loot, offering up a fist weapon.  That went to Ula, our enchanter, to disenchant later on.

Those two down it was time to press on.  We were moving pretty well through the instance.  It was up the stairs and around to the top of the instance and were soon approaching Ingvar once more.

On our way again

We had made good time, though we still had to defeat him, something we failed to do in three tries last time around.

The failure on my part last time was not seeing when his big cone of damage attack was coming so I could step out of the way.  My solution was to get an AddOn to move the casting bars of our target down to a location above my hotbars so I could watch both cool downs and incoming attacks.

It is one thing to get the addon, another to test it our and see how it works.  We ran through the video I linked last week in order to get a refresh on how the fight progresses, and then went in to give it a shot.

The first round went okay, we managed to bring him down though I used my healthstone just at the end, when I didn’t really have to.  I panicked a bit and was now down a heal when I could have just waited and bandaged myself during the interval before the arrival of undead Ingvar.

That was the test.  We had made it through the first half of the fight every time.  The second half was the trick.

As it kicked off I kept my eye on the cast bars and called out each special attack as Ingvar wound them up, jumping out of the way of both the ones I needed to and the occasional one I didn’t.  Better safe than sorry I suppose.

Things seemed to go very well and when he was at about 35% I started to wonder how the wheels were going to come off, how we were going end up losing the fight.

And then he was down and the achievement popped up and we were done, we had slain Ingvar on the first run as well.

Ingvar down

We had made it through the instance with only one death.  Bjorid managed to get offed in a fight earlier in the instance that was an accident.  So we had won and went to loot the boss.

Around the corpse

He naturally had a head for all of us to loot for the dungeon quest.  Ingvar of the five heads, as the joke goes.

Grabbing quest items off of the corpse

The loot drop, however, was less useful.  It was Int/Sta mail, shaman gear.  Something else for Ula to disenchant.

We lined up to take a final victory shot with Ingvar.

Ingvar defeated

Then it was down the shaft back up the way for the easy way out of the instance, dropping down into a pool of water by where we came in.

It smells like wet dog in here

We went back to Valgarde and turned in the quest.

After that we had a bit of time still… my wife was not yet back with take out in tow, so we went on a run to pick up some flight points.  Not all of us had the nearby locations, so we ran over to Westguard Keep to grab that flight point, then Kamagua for the next.  From Kamagua we took the turtle boat to Moa’ki harbor at the southern end of Dragonblight.

Taking the Turtle boat

The flight point at Moa’ki harbor gave us the connection so we could now fly from Borean Tundra to Howling Fjord if we wanted.

The southern flight points

It is kind of a long flight, but it is lower effort than going back to IF or SW then taking the flight between them in order to take the boat to the other side of Northrend.

Of course, what we really need to do is get to 74 and make our way to Dalaran, which would make a lot of our travel needs much simpler.  And it would give us access to a bank.  But we’ll get to that soon enough.

Facing Prince Keleseth for Real This Time

Last time around was just a test run, a warm up, a chance to try out the group dynamics of running instances with our current 4+1 group.  At least that is my story, and you won’t get me to budge from it.

The scene of the… well, it wasn’t a crime, was it?

This time we were going to be ready to face the challenge.  We had the usual group out.

The group… almost all in zone

We summoned Ula, got ourselves provisioned, and headed on into Utgarde Keep once again.

On the doorstep once more

Inside we started off pretty well.  We had worked out the kinks well enough last time… as well as adding a bit more power to our lineup by finding so overlooked spells and training up some others to the current tier.. so were able to work our way through the Furnace of Hate and the the Dragon Flayer Pens without any losses.

Utgarde Keep lower map

We even got a nice random drop that was good for both mages and warlocks.  Beanpole won the roll on it.

Robe of Mendacity

It is always nice to get an upgrade along the way.

Soon enough we were there in the room with Prince Keleseth again.  We got a lucky spawn, there was only one caster in the group of four you have to pull to get to Keleseth.  We knocked them down, leaving just our nemesis before us.

Potshot had found us a nice and surprisingly concise video about Utgarde Keep to help us along with a plan.

The recommendation was to take the fight to Keleseth, bunch up around him inside of AOE range to both take care of his skeletons and to be able to apply some damage to the inevitable ice block issues.  That seemed simple enough, so we went with it.

Fighting Keleseth… is everybody in AOE range?

I couldn’t pay much attention to who stayed in range, but I can see Ula out on the periphery in that screen shot.  I suppose it didn’t matter, and she can blink out of the ice blocks anyway.

Anyway, we carried on with the plan and, suddenly, Keleseth was down.

He’s finished

We had done it, on the first try, without any losses or even much drama.  So we formed up to take a victory shot with the late Prince to celebrate our victory.

Victory over Prince Keleseth

The prince dropped the reinforced velvet as loot.

Reinforced Velvet Helm

The caster roll-off between Ula and Beanpole went to Ula this time, who can be seen wearing the helm in the victory shot.

That done quickly, we carried on, moving through the trash mobs to the next boss… or pair of bosses… Skarvald the Constructor and Dalronn the Controller.

Dalronn and Skarvald… or Skarvald and Dalronn… I can’t recall

They sit at the base of the stairway to the upper reaches of Utgarde Keep.

As a fight the trick with these two is that if you kill one first, they come back as a ghost and are not subject to the rules of aggro, so are prone to run amok amongst your DPS.  So the idea is to try and whittle one down, then swap to the other in the hopes of killing them as close together as possible.  That avoids entanglements.

Our first attempt was not a success.

There I am, dead again

Neither was our second, as things got out of hand.  We killed one way to early and Skarvald has a random charge that stuns the DPS and hits them for a lot, which unbalanced us.

So we went back to the video I posted above and got the bit of the formula to help us through the fight, which was remarkably similar to the Keleseth advice: stick close.  We also decided to change targets sooner, as changing at 20% and 30% ended up being too soon.

We got in close for the third run.

Hugging in close to the pair

Somehow we managed to do the fight just right, with both bosses falling within a breath of each other.

Dalronn and Skalvard are Dead

Unfortunately, their drop was a leather item, not armor that any of us wear and, being bind on pick up, not even something we could share with alts.

From there it was up the stairs to the second story of Utgarde Keep.

The second part of the dungeon map

Upstairs puts you outside in the instance, which makes you feel like you are out in the zone, an effect that works well for me.

Out in the open

We fought our way through the last few mobs between us and the final boss, Ingvar the Plunderer.

Ingvar is out there somewhere

We went back to the video again and tried to digest what we needed to do.  For my part the job was to hold aggro and to step the hell out of the way when he did his smash attack during the first part of the fight, or his dark smash attack during the second part.

And I screwed that up.

I did okay during the first half of the fight, where you slay Ingvar, but during the second half, when he is revived and you face an undead version of him, I missed a dark smash and took it full in the face.  That put us behind in healing and I went down, after which Ingvar ran around and knocked everybody else down.

That’s fine, first try and mistakes are made.  But on the second fight I managed to do the same thing again.  And it was a heartbreaker because we were so very close to bringing him down.

It is on Fergorin to get that last 2% I guess…

Still, we were so close it seemed doable.  And then after the second wipe Fergorin accidentally released from death rather than using the soul stone that would revive him on the spot.  That meant we all had to release and run back.  But when we re-entered the dungeon we found that the mobs had begun respawning.

Not in the mood to fight our way through to Ingvar… dinner was about ready at my end… we called it a day and took our win over Keleseth.

But, afterwards, I was bugged by the fact that I missed Ingvar’s attack warm ups.  Then, playing it through in my head, I realized I was trying to split my time watching my cool-downs on the action bar at the bottom of my screen as well as watching for Ingvar’s casting bar at the top of my screen.

Did I mention I have a 34″ monitor on my desk now?  I think I did.  That is big enough that my peripheral vision can’t catch things at the top of my monitor when I am focused on the bottom of it.

So I went and found an addon that lets you resize and move casting bars.  There were a couple of options, but I went with one called CastBarsEZ which did what I wanted.

We will see if that helps me out the next time around.

Learning Inscription

The new trade skill that came into the game with Wrath of the Lich King back in the day was inscription.  So, when the Wrath Classic pre-patch hit, inscription was once again introduced to the players.

The classic comes to classic

When the pre-patch hit I was tempted to pick up inscription with my druid, who had previously specialized in just mining and herbalism.  Back in Wrath inscription was an OP trade skill, the way Death Knights were an OP class.  Both got nerfed into the ground eventually… I don’t even remember what inscription ended up being about after Warlords of Draenor… but at introduction they were pretty cool.

However, we were busy working on getting our characters, mains and alts, up to the level range of Wrath initially, so taking time out to harvest a bunch of herbs back in old Azeroth was low on the list or priorities for most of us.

So we managed to get ourselves to level 68… mostly… and within range of Northrend for opening day.

Then came the discussion of how we were going to handle instances.  Being a group of four didn’t work out very well for us in Outland, so Potshot stepped up and got a second account rolling with a boosted hunter to add a little low effort DPS to the mix in the hope that would be enough to get us over the hump.

Wanting to do something with his second account alt to support the group, he took up herbalism.  As he was ill and in isolation and thus had a bit more free time on his hands he went at leveling that up at a pace.

He then asked if anybody could use the herbs.  His alchemist alt didn’t need low level stuff.  And that was the moment of opportunity.  I said I was thinking about running with inscription but needed herbs.  So he put what he was collecting in the guild bank… for some reason we have a guild bank despite nobody remembering when we bought it… for me to use.

Inscription was off and running for me.

Here is the thing about inscription:  You get useful recipes almost right away.

I hadn’t gone very far before I was making glyphs and sending them through the in-game mail to everybody’s characters.

There are a lot of different glyphs and most of them are pretty good.  The difficult bit is often choosing which ones are the best choice since you can only have two major glyphs and two minor glyphs until you get to 80.

With a supply of herbs to hand, leveling up inscription was pretty fast.  There was a bit of a flat spot around goldthorn and herbs in that range, but I went out and harvested some of those to help fill the gap.

There are a range of other things you can make, like scrolls for various stat boosts, vellum that allows enchanters to apply enchants to so they can sell them at the auction house (so I sent a bunch of those to Ula, our enchanter), off-hand items for casters that aren’t all in on staves, and a few other odd items.

A scroll of recall

That scroll of recall seemed a bit odd to me.  Can you even go to Shattrath at level 40?  Is that some artifact of the level squish, a string that didn’t get changed?  I don’t remember if that was a level 40 or earlier thing.

So glyphs for the whole group.

On the other hand, as a money making venture, it was a bit of a bust.

Lots of other people were leveling up inscription as well, so the market was flooded with most glyphs.  Unless you manages to get an uncommon one through research, or happened to make a very popular glyph at the right time, you were not going do much beyond break even on the trade.

And once I hit Outland herbs the price of the parchments… the vendor sold raw materials that are required for each glyph… began to take its toll.  Alioto, my druid, was my most well off character, with 900 gold in his pocket when he started on this venture.  By the time he made it to the point of needing Northrend herbs her was down to about 650 gold.

All Northrend herbs going forward

Finally, the other gotcha about inscription… and the flip side of it being useful even at low levels… is that you have to keep ink around for the early tiers in case you want to make something in that range.  So it takes a bit of bank space for all of the different inks you make.

But it is nice to have glyphs on tap.

In a redundant twist, I went with my druid Alioto for this, which happened to be the same name and same class of character that I learned inscription with back in the day in retail WoW.

Alioto (left) with a close cousin or something

I guess I am replaying Wrath even more closely than I thought I was.

My Current Wish for Wrath Classic

We’ve been into Wrath of the Lich King Classic for a few weeks now and I haven’t really gotten that far.

The classic comes to classic

There are a few reasons for that.  I haven’t had a ton of free time, I am playing four characters, I have been doing some remedial work on trade skills, and the group is trying to move together with our mains.

As such, I have two characters at level 71, two more at 69 still, and haven’t done anything beyond the first two starting zones, Borean Tundra and Howling Fjord. (On launch day I had to level 68s, a 67, and a 65, so I have done some work.  That 65, my DK, is now 71.)

But that slow start… I’ve seen level 80s riding around on their fast flying mounts regularly for a couple of weeks now… does not mean I am not enjoying the experience.

Wrath is good.  Advancement in levels is slow, but that is the way of things and there is a ton of content to cover.  The story and quests are a nice balance, still a challenge at times but not as grindy as their Outland cousins.

Likewise, all the classes I am playing feel like they are in a good place.  My protection paladin is a bit awkward out in the field, since pally tanking is a lot of AOE, but he gets by.  The Death Knight is overpowered, but not so much as to make him a face roll.  He is fun to go out with.

My druid and hunter also feel like they are in good places.  I like the classes as they are now, which is why I am trying to play four at once.

Even trade skills feel like they hit that point where Blizz found a balance between drudgery and reward.

So things are good and I am enjoying myself.

My worry is that level 80 in the fast flying mount.

Retro/nostalgia servers run at a faster pace than the originals.  With any MMORPG, unleashing the crowd on the same content a second time means that everything is already a solved problem, there is a strategy or three for every dungeon, raid, class, or whatever online, and all of that will inevitably move people more quickly through the content.

And once they are through the content… well… they want more content, a story we have seen over and over again in the EverQuest nostalgia servers, where the leading edge raiders tend to mark the pace of content unlocks.  There “more content” means the next expansion… but there are a lot of EverQuest expansions and the next one doesn’t always break the mold of the previous ones.

Here, in the WoW historical timeline, “more content” will mean the Cataclysm expansion, and that breaks a lot of things.

I don’t want to move to Cataclysm with this set of characters.  Not now.  Not six months from now.  Not ever.

I don’t dislike Cataclysm so much that I never want to see it revived in a classic version.  I have a vision for that I might get to in another post.  It is more a matter of it being the line, in my mind, between classic and modern WoW.  The breaking and remaking of the old world marks the point of no return.  When you get to Cataclysm, classic is no more.

The problem is that Blizzard won’t sit around and let Wrath go stale.  They won’t want to let players wander off because they’ve finished all the raids and the fastest possible speed, collected all the achievements, and are bored now.

Back in the day we got 754 days from the launch of Wrath to the launch of Cataclysm… a little over two years, or about 25 months… which was enough for me to do all the things on a couple of characters… no raiding, but all the factions and trade skills to max and all of that.

This time around, given past history, we might have 15 months to play through Wrath.

And maybe that is enough time to be done.  As I said, everything is accelerated the second time through.

But I also know what is coming next and I would really rather not go there.  I’d rather stick in a classic world and tinker with alts and trade skills and faction once more.

When the pre-patch came I was a bit down on the introduction of achievements because I had done all of that before.  Was I going to fish for coins in the Dalaran fountain again?  It didn’t seem likely.

Right now, however, a few weeks into Wrath, I feel like maybe I will do that.  That maybe committing to Northrend a second time would be fun.

Of course I say this now, with the first blush of enthusiasm for the expansion.  How will I feel in six months, a year, or however far down the road?

And naturally, whatever I think now, or in six months, or in a year, will have no bearing whatsoever on what Blizzard’s plans are.  They didn’t leave us with a permanent TBC server once we moved on to Wrath, so it seems unlikely that they will leave us a permanent Wrath server when the time for Cataclysm comes.

But all of that is at least a year down the road.  By then I may feel different, Blizz (or Microsoft) may feel different, or, as the joke goes, maybe the horse will learn to sing.

Just a Peek into Utgarde Keep

As I said, we were already there, already on the threshold of the first dungeon in Northrend, already inside the tower that dominates the head of Howling Fjord.

It does stand out

And, as I also noted, we had the group together, had the quests, and were all level 70.

The group of the day

It seemed like it might be time for a test run, time to try out some real mobs in an instance, or at least do something that wasn’t going to run Potshot ragged running two characters.  The dual boxing mantra had been “it will be easier in an instance” up to this point.  So in we went.

Inside Utgarde Keep

There were two elite mobs up at the top of those steps, so we were going to have to actually work as a group and cover our specific roles… like I was going to have to actually be a tank.

I had read the section on tanking as a protection pally over at Icy Veins, had use the talent spec they recommended, and was ready to use the rotation they recommended, which largely seemed to mean AOE’ing everything and hope that my mana stayed topped up via spiritual attunement and the fact that Fergorin was going to be dropping a lot of heals on me.

We were not especially geared up.  We just had the first round of green quest gear from the starting zones and a couple of glyphs on people.  Otherwise, we were pretty raw on the preparation front.

But, we managed to kill those first two guys, and the guys behind them and so on until we got out to the furnace of hate where, rather than groups of one or two mobs, we had to take on three.

Viewing the Furnace of Hate

We tried to sheep one guy, but he somehow broke that very quickly, I ended up with three mobs on me, took lots of damage, ran Fergorin out of mana, then died, leading to a scramble for the nearby exit.  Not a full wipe, but a bad fight.

That led to some re-tooling as we realized that we did not have all our buffs up and I had left one Holy Shield out of my rotation.  We got ourselves back together and were successful on the next try, and subsequent groups as we made our way around the furnace to the dragon pens.

It was also about them I realized that Wrath dungeons come with maps.

Utgarde Keep lower map

The dragons in the pens are double size elites, but we managed to take on the first couple without issue.

In the dragon pens

There was a bit of a hiccup mid-way through, but we pressed on and managed to clear that room.

After that we pressed on, clearing the hallway and heading up the stairs until we made to the Reaver’s Hall, the location of the first boss.

Reaver’s Hall and no Asher in sight

On the far side of the room is Prince Keleseth, the first boss of Utgarde Keep and something of our nemesis back in the day.

A funny thing is that my memory of the situation does not match up with the reality of the old posts of our original runs in Wrath.  In the version my memory tells, we failed at Prince Keleseth over and over until we finally had a “git gud” moment and went and read whatever the elite raiding forum was back in the day… the name escapes me now… elitist jerks maybe?

Anyway, we read up, figured things out, came back and wiped the floor with Keleseth and carried on before us.

In reality, we actually managed to bring down Keleseth before we got ourselves straightened out, despite putting up some pretty low DPS numbers.

You call this damage?

It was, in fact, Ingvar the Plunderer that was our nemesis.  We couldn’t get through both rounds of his fight until we had gotten ourselves better.  We even, at one point when Bung was away, did Keleseth as a group of four.

I got in some heat with the group for posting our damage meter output, but that got us feedback that we were very low in our damage output.  That was what got us to look up how to be better.

Anyway, all of that is in the depths of the blog under the Utgarde Keep tag if you click it and scroll down.

Which, of course, doesn’t mean that we were at all ready to face Keleseth with our group of 4+1.  But we were willing to give it a try.

First we had to clear the four mobs that stand before Keleseth, which took us two tries.  We wiped on the first run because we picked the casters as the first targets.  However, they put up damage shields and hang on for a long time, letting the other mobs beat us into a pulp.

The second time around it was casters first and we finished them off.  Then it was time for Keleseth… and trying to remember how the fight goes.  We remembered  the ice block thing, where a random member of the group gets hit by an ice block that puts 400 DPS on the victim until it wears out or until the party burns it down.

But the adds were kind of up in the air.  I knew we got some group that would show up, maybe more than once.  As for where to fight Keleseth, I got it in my head that we should pull him back to the stairs at the head of the room.  I don’t know why.  In hindsight that wasn’t a great idea, just giving him some free shots on me until I line of sighted him to us.

So the first round was a wipe.  Things went badly.  Mistakes were made,

Dead on the stairs

We adjusted the plan, wiped again.  At that point, Beanpole went paper doll on his equipment, which I guess he hadn’t repaired recently.  However, it turned out that I had a field repair bot in my inventory.  So I deployed that and got us all repaired as well as selling some excess items in our bags.

Getting our repairs done

Going through my bag I realized that I had potions and things, stuff that might actually help in a fight.

However, that did not guarantee success.  We gave Keleseth a couple more tries, but could not quite pull it off.

I’ve died here before

I fumbled my own healing a couple of times.  When you die and haven’t used a health potion or your health stone, you have screwed up as a tank.  We got close however.

If only the tank hadn’t died in the first 15 seconds…

It feels like we have all the pieces for a successful run.  We… and especially me… need to get on top of our execution.  But unlike the old days, we have plenty of DPS to hand.  Tanking I was putting out close to 700 DPS, while Beanpole was past 1,100 and Ula past 1,300.

One minor hiccup is Ula being a frost mage, so her DPS won’t hurt Keleseth’s ice block routine.

Yeah, for you… next time!

Our hunter DPS, Fergorin’s second account, which just stands back and shoots, did add to our damage… and seemed to have much higher survivability than some of us.  You can see his pet on Keleseth while there I am, dead on the ground again.

I had to call it for dinner or we might have tried a few more times.  But it was just a test run for the group.

Next time around we’ll position ourselves better.  Fergorin found a nice video on the instance and I read some further items that suggest taking the fight to Keleseth and keeping the group tight so that the skeletons that he summons… and which he revives throughout the fight… don’t get out of control and so that AOE can be used to help with the ice block problem.

Entering Howling Fjord

Wrath of the Lich King is a bit of an oddity in that it seemingly has two starting zones, not counting where Death Knights kick off.

I mean sure, vanilla WoW had more starting zones than that, and depending on how you want to count them, The Burning Crusade had either one or three.  But I am not really talking about new character zones, but zones where you enter the core content.

For TBC that was Hellfire Peninsula in Outland.  But Wrath has both Borean Tundra and Howling Fjord that seem to be similar, parallel entry points.  You get to Borean Tundra from Stormwind Harbor or via the Zeppelin in Orgrimar, and you get to Howling Fjord from Menethil Harbor or by taking the Zeppelin from Undercity.

Valgarde and vicinity in Howling Fjord

I guess this was possibly a way to divide up the first day crush of new players.  And, because we happened to be around Stormwind we went to Borean Tundra.  But if you want to get to the first dungeon in Northrend, Utgarde Keep you eventually have to get over to Howling Fjord.

Back in 2008 we did that the hard way.  We rode from Borean Tundra across country to Howling Fjord.  I guess we didn’t know about the boat from Menethil Harbor, or maybe we just sought adventure, but it was quite a ride.

Our first run across Northrend, old style map

If that post from 14 years ago is correct we figured out the whole boat thing when we got there.

As back then, we decided to move from Borean Tundra to Howling Fjord in order to get ourselves along the path to that first dungeon.  The group, this past weekend, had already made it to level 70.

The group of the day

And perhaps it is the job of Borean Tundra to get those lazy level 68s their first taste of Northrend, as it is a zone with a bit of an easier intro.  Farshire is nearby, as are the beaches and the shorelines with quests.  Howling Fjord, or at least Valgarde, feels a bit more under siege and under the menace of the keep built at the head of the fjord.

The McDungeon in your suburban neighborhood

It does kind of dominate the local area.

Even the ride in on the boat is a memorable experience, sailing as you do up the fjord and under a burning hull suspended above the channel.

That tends to stand out

The beginning quests are also, if you’ll pardon, a bit more of a pain in the ass.

As a group, however, we were hoping it might be a bit of a smoother ride.  Also, both Potshot and I had run an alt through the area, so it was not completely unknown.  So we gathered together in Howling Fjord to get started.

Ula was the last one on, so we set about trying to summon her, but managed to botch that and she got in via the dockmaster instead, riding up to us on her shiny new cobalt talbuk mount.

Ula’s new ride… also, Tim Burton’s TV

All being level 70 there were new spells and skills to be brought to the table, quite literally in the case of Ula, who had gained the ability to summon a refreshment table to supply us with a food and drink combo.

A party tray for the party

No longer will she have to hang out and conjure food and drink over and over.

As expected, running around in a pack did make most of the quests outside of Valgarde go a bit more quickly.  There was that unfortunate quest in the catacombs that required each of us to pick up 10 items that did not share updates, which meant we had to find 50 as a group, with the burden falling on Potshot, running two characters as he was.

Otherwise the catacombs was a bit of a breeze as we ran through as a group, zapping undead and what not.

The five of us smoking out the scourge

The other hang up was probably the under water aspects.  We saved the dive until we had the quest that sent us down there, diving into the fjord with some NPC helpers from a previous quest still in tow.

Here we come!

We avoided another unfortunate drowning incident because Beanpole was able to hit us all with Unending Breath, the water breathing spell which lasts 10 minutes.  (Longer than my usual attention span, but still not unending in my book.)

We grabbed the first under water objective, then grabbed the quest from the NPC in the diving suit, who required us to grab 10 waterlogged crates for him.  Each.  So 50 crates, with Potshot again doing double duty.

Waiting for everybody to be done

Fortunately, 10 minutes turned out to be more than enough for all of us to finish and get back to the surface to turn in quests.

Of course, as we ran around, we found ourselves running past the stairs up to the keep.

The dungeon is just up the steps

And after that last round of quests, we were actually sent to find the quest giver who hands out the quests for the dungeon itself.  And from him it was just a short stroll to the swirl marking the entrance to the dungeon, Utgarde Keep.

It is just on the other side of that

So we figured, since we were there already, and we had the whole group, maybe we could just take a peek inside.  You know, just to try out the dynamics of the group to see how it would play out.  No commitment… just a test.

I’ll get to that in another post.

On the Beach in Borean Tundra

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

Actually on the beach

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

Borean Tundra so far

So our group on that first day of October was:

Not everybody was there when I took this

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some of us have too many alts already.

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

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

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

Summoning the dispenser

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

Hi, my friends spoke to you earlier…

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

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

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

Me doing my Mage impression in the mists of Riplash Strand

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

Some swimming was also involved.

In the chilly waters

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

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

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

The other, other group

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

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

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

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

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

Riding on water

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

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