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Oh, level 67. The top of the top (for now). Although... unlike level 60, and what I expect from level 70... there's not much to do stuck here. No ranked Arenas, no Battleground rewards... the high-level dungeons are fun but there aren't any quests I can get for them, and I can't use any loot from them. No raids! What is there to do but sit around and look pretty?!
This is the quandary facing the Mage They Call Jayne(z) right now. What is there to do? Well... time to do what he hasn't done. Finish it up! A clean slate, so to speak-when they raise the level cap, he'll be ready to head straight into the new content (to write about it for you all, beloved readers). New dungeons, new zones, new quests, and finally the emergence of... dun dun dun... flying mounts! (Thank you, 1.3k gold. I love you, my shinies!)
So! What haven't I done?
Er, well, it turns out there's actually quite a bit I've not done. Bunch of quests in Nagrand to finish off, and then there are the Auchindoun instances that I haven't actually got a chance to complete. So, why don't I start off with those?
Sigh. We need more people on Blade's Edge (PvP). Never a good tank on when you need one, I swear!
After getting a party, it's time to go to the Auchenai Crypts. Technically, the Crypts are a higher level than the Mana-Tombs, though it's a significantly easier instance and might as well be lower-level. The Crypts are filled with Draenei ghosts, as well as some living Draenei seeking to use the spirits of the dead for their own gain. I'm not entirely sure what use the spirits of the dead actually have... I mean, they're, y'know, dead. Deceased. Ex-Draenei. Unless you're planning on scaring the tenants off the land so you can buy it real cheap and get at the hidden diamond mines underneath...
And you'd have gotten away with it, too, if it weren't for those meddling kids!
I really enjoy running the Crypts, because... well, when you're fighting, you'll often get some non-elite ghosts that spawn nearby, from healers to mages to warriors. It really adds a sense of chaos and excitement to the mix, and even if it's not actually too difficult, it feels quite chaotic and hectic and fun, like you're always on the line between a wipe and a successful pull.
We fight our way through the crypts and meet Shirrak the Dead Watcher-I mentioned him before, but it was late and we didn't beat him. Shirrak is an... interesting fight. He puts a debuff on everyone that cannot be cleansed, that triples your cast time. Fireball is now a 9 second cast, Scorch, Flash Heal, and other 1.5 second casts now take four and a half seconds to complete. Which means, of course, that healing is a bit wonky in this fight. It's mostly HoTs and stuff like Power Word: Shield that get used, because anything else takes too long.
Thankfully, channeled spells aren't affected by this-so I can spam Arcane Missiles and not feel completely useless. Shirrak likes to spit a 4k AoE fireball at people, and it takes me by surprise the first time. I'm the only one to die in the fight... for shame. I cannot live with this failure!
Actually, um, I didn't live. Okay, problem solved.
There's a teensy bit too much trash in this zone. A room after Shirrak is annoying because it has a bunch of skeletons that are all very social, all elite, and hit like Donkey Kong. You pull one, you get five or six. Kinda like Murlocs that plan ahead. I'm not a fan of those pulls, to be sure.
Fortunately, though, it's a relatively short zone. Just after the elite skeleton room, there's a much bigger room with many, many more skeletons. They're all nonelite, and you know what that means! Time to validate my existence as a Mage!
Hurray for Arcane Explosion spamming. Oh, Arcane Explosion... nobody must ever know of our forbidden love-crap, you're still reading. Forget what I just said, please.
The final boss, Exarch Maladaar, waits at the end of this tomb. He's the Draenei behind this whole ghostly plan, though I doubt it's really Old Man Thompson wearing a mask. That would just be hokey. Once we've cleared the room, we engage!
Maladaar isn't a particularly hard fight, but he's a fun one. He'll occasionally do an ability called Dark Side, which is on a random target and cuts their damage/healing output by half. It also creates a double of them created from shadow, who starts attacking you/healing him. You have to kill the Dark Side in order to restore the person's DPS / Healing to normal levels. At low health he summons a giant thing, but it's simple to just offtank it while you burn him down and then kill the shade afterwards.
A Naaru floats out of the sarcophagus in the middle of the room after Maladaar falls, but I can't talk to it. Hm, probably a quest. Something tells me I'll be returning here...
My group isn't up for doing any of the other dungeons yet, though. Oh well. Let's see what quests I've got on the plate.
While I'm getting on the whole "Auchindoun" thing, I've got that Book of the Dead questline sitting in my log. It was supposedly bugged, but now that I hear it's fixed, I should continue it! Long story short-there's a Auchenai Death Priest outside the Crypts who talks about this thing called the Book of the Dead, which he believes is being used by EBIL FORSES to control the spirits in the crypts. I wonder if Exarch Maladaar has something to do with it? Good thing I killed him, then! I'm sure he won't trouble them anymore!
...damn, forgot about the whole "respawn" deal.
The quest line takes me to Shattrath, where the Draenei who last had the book tells me about a group of ruffians who bought it from him-he didn't particularly care what happened to it. The ruffians are in a corner of the Lower City, and there are three of them: "Dirty" Larry and his two friends. (I remind you that the quest that began this chain was called "I See Dead Draenei" and given by an NPC named Ha'lei. Oh, Blizz...)
I'm testing out Frost spec currently, so I decide to give it a shot. The three are all Elite, but I'm a kiting expart, yo.
I ask Larry what happened to the book, he tells me to bug off, I tell him "Nope." So, of course, he decides to try to kill me. It turns out that they're a bit harder to solo than I'd anticipated, though I think it's definitely possible if you know what you're doing. I'm still rather shaky on the whole Frost-spec deal at the moment.... And I quickly find out exactly how little health my Water Elemental has when it gets two-shotted for being too close to a Frost Nova'd hooligan. Ouch.
Luckily, if I run far enough away, they reset. There's a Paladin eyeing them right now... he engages, and I decide to give him a hand. Once Dirty Larry is almost dead, he backs off like the coward he is and... surprisingly, I get credit for it too, even though I'd let the Pally tag them first. Sweet.
Dirty Larry spills the beans and lets me know that a Draenei bought it from him and headed over to Nagrand. So, to Nagrand go I! I've got some more quests to do there-but those can come later. The Draenei in question is holed up in these ruins, and he feels quite guilty about... something. Apparently, his apprentice is the one who stole the Book of the Dead, and is now binding the souls of the dead to do his nefarious bidding-to drive the opposing carnival out of business so he'll hold a monopoly!
Insert your own "Scooby-Doo" joke here. You know you want to.
Apparently, the only way I can really fight this Levixus guy is to gain the ability to see the dead. The Draenei sends me to gather some stuff from mobs around Nagrand, and I do so because hell, I ain't got anything better to do right now. When I complete the quest, he warns me that he wasn't entirely truthful-this potion will make me see the dead FOREVER. While I think if it were reality I'd be a bit more nonplussed before drinking the thing, virtual ghosts don't really give me the heebie-jeebies. Plus, there are phat lewtz at stake.
I drink it... and well, don't see much of a difference right away. The final task is to kill Levixus the Soul Caller, right outside Auchindoun. Looks like Levixus got in touch with his roots, because he's a big Eredar warlock surrounded by a bunch of spirits. Doesn't look like I can solo him, so I get some help-another mage and a priest. We pingpong him around until he's dead. Yay for us.
We take the book and give it to the Death Priest outside of the Crypts for rewards! I notice that there are some spirits here as well, including one who thanks me for getting rid of Levixus, and asks me to go into the Crypts and kill Exarch Maladaar, who was the guy in charge of the plan all along. Yes, the guy I just killed an hour ago. Damn you, respawn. Damn you to hell.
I can't get a group for the Crypts, though-but there are three other wings of Auchindoun. Shadow Labyrinth is for level 70s, and I don't fancy wiping on Pandemonius for another hour, so I think I'll try the Sethekk Halls. I get a quest from an arakkoa (bird-guys, remember?) in Shattrath to head down and see what's up, so I figure... hey, why not?
It turns out that the Draenei and the Consortium aren't the only groups having their own problems in Auchindoun. An arakkoa (arakkoan?) named Isfar standing outside the Sethekk Halls tells me the story. A group of the arakkoa called the Sethekk have made their home in the ruins... one of them, his brother-Talon King Ikiss-has pilfered the relics of the ancient arakkoan hero Terokk, and is proclaiming himself Terokk reborn.
They aim to subjugate all their people under the Sethekk banner and rule the world. Isfar's brother, Darkweaver Syth, has joined Ikiss in his evil plot. Apparently, Syth also kidnapped his and Isfar's sister, whom I'm asked to rescue along the way to smash the birdie's head in.
Now, I really don't care much for the arakkoa. They did the whole Missing Merchant thing, after all. So, whether or not they're being ruled by a phony isn't much concern of mine-but there are phat lewtz at stake and the "ruling the world" thing doesn't sound all too pleasant. So! Get a group, and into the Sethekk Halls! Kill Darkweaver Syth and Talon King Ikiss, get the Relics of Terokk, get rewarded.
Like the Auchenai Crypts, there are only two bosses. However, the mobs are higher level and it's a longer dungeon overall. There does seem to be a teensy too much trash, and I hope they'll remove some of it when this goes live.
But, you don't care about the trash, do you?! You want the good stuff. The bosses.
I aim to deliver.
A little ways in, we run into Darkweaver Syth. Since nobody in our group has run the zone before, we aren't exactly sure what to expect. Oh well-it'll be an adventure! Let's check it out! We engage Syth, he doesn't seem to be doing anything special... we're waiting for him to do something.
Verbatim, on Ventrilo: "Ok, he's at 80%, pay attention, maybe he'll do something soon, keep payin-OH MY GOD ELEMENTALS."
Syth, without warning, summons four Elemental guardians: Fire, Frost, Arcane, Shadow. They all have debuffs that increase damage taken by that element, and are of course all immune to that particular element. Not expecting this at all, our tank dies and we wipe... but as we wipe, we notice that Syth's health is going down from the two people still alive. He's got no HP whatsoever. Hm.
We come up with an ingenious plan: there are two priests, a warlock and myself as the people who do magical damage... actually, that's everybody but the tank. Nevermind. So, I'll burn down the Shadow elemental that they can't touch while they take care of one of the Fire or Frost eles, and then it's child's play.
At least, that would be the plan... it turns out, though, that he spawns the elementals every 25% a la the Prophet Skeram or one of the Green Dragons. So, we're barely done with the first spawn when we get four more. Our tank looks like he's going down, it's a wipe-
To hell with this. Trinketbomb time! We try and Fear/CC the elementals as best we can and burn Darkweaver Syth's very low HP to nothing. Surprisingly, it works pretty well-and all the adds despawn once he dies. I do wonder if PUGs will have the DPS needed to down the bugger, though. I mean, I know I'm leet as all hell, but what about the newbs of the world (of Warcraft)?
We continue on, free Isfar's sister (and though we expect an escort quest, are pleasantly surprised when we fulfill the objective just from opening the cage) and kill some more enemies. There are some Wind Serpents that like to use Chain Lightning, and some annoying arakkoans that have studied under the ZG/Temple Trolls... when they die, they leave behind an unkillable ghost that hits hard. They move slowly, though, so you can just get out of the way.
Talon King Ikiss, as we approach his room, keeps screeching about "Trinkets." Yes, I have Trinkets. I like my Trinkets, thank you very much! I doubt he's referring to my Talisman of Ephemeral Power, though.
Ikiss... well, he's like a 5-man mini-Shazzrah. He does a fairly powerful Arcane Explosion and teleports to the corners of his chamber. However, the teleport doesn't switch aggro like Shazz's does, and he really... doesn't do anything. The lock in our party and myself go down fairly quickly into the fight due to us being nubcakes, but our warrior and the two priests do just fine. Very anticlimactic.
He does drop a nifty axe that's better than Dark Edge of Insanity, though. I do find it amusing that he drops the last item for the relics of Terokk quest that yields a polearm that's equal in quality if not better. Why put a powerful 2H weapon in as a random drop that requires level 70 when people are required to kill the same boss to finish a quest with a guaranteed, no-level-requirement polearm that's arguably better?
Sometimes I don't get you, Blizz.
Now that I'm done with the Sethekk Halls, I've got one more non-level-70 wing of Auchindoun to complete. With a party at my side, I head back into the Mana-Tombs to face off with Pandemonius, Round 43.
Wow. Uh, did they nerf this guy? Does the fact that we're all level 67 instead of 64 really make that much of a difference? Did we just, um, learn to play? Though it's still a fun fight, Pandy goes down our first try like the big blue bubble he is. That was actually... really anticlimactic. I ain't complaining, though.
There's not much unique trash to speak of past Pandemonius. You've got your typical healers, your mages, your warriors... there are those guys that like to hit mana users for 5k, but we've seen them before. The only real trash mob that takes me by surprise are the Mana Worms. They're small, non-elite floating thingies that Mana Burn and come in packs. Since I see they're non-elite, my inner Mage tells me to go ahead and AoE.
I'm doing fine, they don't hit too hard, they're almost dead...
...wait, I'm dead. WTF just killed me?
Apparently, when they die, they explode for 2k Arcane Damage. I'd killed four of them nigh-simultaneously. I decide that AoEing them is then a Very Bad Idea. Whoopsie.
We move on and encounter boss #2, a gigantic Crystal Giant named Tavarok. There are people in the party who've done him before-he's apparently, pretty hard. He'll do an AoE called Earthquake that does several ticks of 1k physical damage while stunning you for 3 seconds, as well as a single-target Crystal Prison that does 10% of your health every second. The range on Earthquake is pretty far-at least, I can't outrange it.
I think for a bit. We pull him to try him, and of course wipe. But during the fight, I decide to test something and hide behind one of the pillars in the room. I don't get hit by Earthquake.
"So... you guys familiar with Firemaw?" I ask. For the readers who aren't familiar-Firemaw is a boss in Blackwing Lair, with a stacking Fire Aura that quickly adds up in damage. The way to beat him is to use Line of Sight. The tank positions Firemaw in such a way that while the healers are in line of sight of him and can heal him just fine, they aren't in line of sight of Firemaw, which means they don't get hit by his fire nova. DPSers run in and out, doing damage and then going to hide if they start to take too much damage.
The tactic works, though I feel it ultimately trivializes the encounter. By fighting Tavarok behind one of the pillars so that our tank can be healed but our healers don't get hit by Earthquake, it cuts down on a lot of strain on their mana pool. In addition, since it's mitigated by armor, the only squishie in danger is me.
Tavarok falls and I get myself a nice little staff with plenty of Spell Hit for fighting higher-level enemies. Wish I'd had it in our Magtheridon's Lair attempt... I really do like the fact that they're adding some raid-level strategies into 5-mans, because it makes them more interesting than simple tank-n-spank. Still, I can't help but feel that we're not supposed to use LOS in this way, because it really does trivialize the fight.
Continuing on, we find ourselves face-to-face with Nexus Prince Shaffar at the end of a long room. Of course, we also see the familiar-by-now yellow text: [SERVER]: Shutdown in 15 minutes. This is immediately replaced by [SERVER]: Shutdown in 30 minutes, and then [SERVER]: The Server is shutting down. While we puzzle over our server's indecision, it seems to settle on 30, as the next message gives us 29 minutes.
This is doable, of course. We clear the room, and with 15 minutes to go (glad it wasn't 15 minutes originally) engage Shaffar. He's cake compare to his two minions. Every so often he'll spawn a wisp-type-thing that, if not killed, will transform into a rather dangerous add. But if you keep the wisps dead, there's no problem at all.
After this, the Consortium enters the Mana-Tombs to do their thing, and one of them asks if we can escort him while he gathers some magical energy from Shaffar's collectors. Though our Druid had to leave, we decide we can four-man it-how hard can it be?
I don't actually know what happened, but when we suddenly had nine elite mobs attacking us, we decided that maybe we should try it when we WEREN'T rushing like mad to make it before the server shut down.
We run back, get out of the place through whatever means we have, and it's time to log.
It's also time to stop writing. See y'all next time!