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Auchindoun or Auchindoun't?
Ugh, that pun is horrible.
Last time, I quested my blue Troll ass off in Terokkar forest. During this time, I started to track down the culprits of a massacre in the Cenarion Thicket, followed the trail of a kidnapped Orc merchant, killed some wolves to get in touch with the Wolf Spirit (???), and participated in the most anticlimactic PvP event of possibly all time. After assaulting a rogue Blood Elf stronghold with a warlock buddy and killing their leader due to pure leetness, I decide that I should probably check out this "Auchindoun" thing down in the Bone Wastes.
Those of you who played the Warcraft 2 expansion pack may remember the fortress of Auchindoun as a Bleeding Hollow base that you were asked to destroy in the Human campaign. Well, they destroyed it all right-and it looks more like an explosion ruin than a ruin created by lots of little soldiers hitting it over and over again, to be honest. Still, Auchindoun is pretty damn cool-looking (especially the sky above it... the Terokkar clouds break revealing the usual Outland sky, so that's nifty).
There are four wings to Auchindoun, like there are in Hellfire Citadel and Coilfang Reservoir. However, unlike those two, all four wings are 5-man dungeons. The lowest dungeon is the Auchenai Crypts, then the Mana Tombs, followed by the Sethekk Halls and finally the Shadow Labyrinth. However, due to the fact that nobody has this figured out straight for the moment (and the official Blizzard map contradicts the real order) we're kind of confused.
I join a group for the Mana-Tombs, believing it to be the first wing of the zone. To be fair, it's not too far out of my level-I'm 64, approaching 65, and the mobs are all around the same-but I think all of us are expecting something far easier than what we get.
While we wait for the rest of our group, I get some quests. Auchindoun, from what I've seen, has two primary quest centers. The first, outside the Auchenai Crypts, is a group of Draenei who are mourning for their dead kin inside the Crypts. The only quest I can get at the time is from a young Draenei child named Ha'lei, whose quest is titled "I See Dead Draenei."
Sigh. What's next, Brus Wil'lez?
(Incidentally, this starts a chain where you deal with an NPC named "Dirty Larry." Double sigh.)
Outside the Mana-Tombs, I first encounter the Ethereal faction known as the Consortium. From what I've been able to gather thus far, they're like international businessmen of some sort-an interplanetary Steamwheedle Cartel, if you will. Though it might sound strange, I'm actually more mistrusting of them than I am the goblins. Perhaps it's because I know the goblin motive is purely money. I can't shake the feeling that the Consortium is up to something a bit more sinister, but I can't put my finger on it. Anyway, they give me quests with rewards, so I'm willing to temporarily shelve my distrust!
So... yeah. This is a tough zone. Apparently, the Mana-Tombs are full of renegade Ethereals who broke off from the Consortium, and set up a "portal" which Ethereals can't pass through. I... think this actually may be the first time there's actually an explanation given for an instance portal. Go figure. Since they can't go through, we have to!
My party is myself, two priests, a warrior, and a rogue. We're all level 64, all have good gear (MC quality or better, plus what we've gotten in Outland so far). As far as I can tell, we're all competent in our class. This is a tough zone.
We go on, and there's a mob that likes to attack people with mana for... well, I don't know if it varies or what, but it hit me for almost 5000 damage. Ouch. Being that we're a primarily mana-based group, these things totally suck. I do not like them, Samwise I Am.
After only a few pulls, we find ourselves staring the first boss in the dungeon in the proverbial face. Pandemonius is a gigantic armored Voidwalker, and looks pretty cool. He's got a nifty voice, too. The five of us figure, "ok, let's go... we don't exactly know what this guy does, but it can't be too bad, right? We'll wipe a few times and then get him down."
Um, yeah... our plans didn't QUITE go as we'd hoped.
Pandemonius is rough. Real rough. We spend about an hour wiping to him, going back to repair, attemping more times... and we just can't beat him. This guy is freakin' tough.
He has two skills that really make the encounter hard. The first is his "Defense" mode where he reflects all spells done to him and deals 750 damage to anyone who hits him in melee. Currently, there's no graphic for this so you pretty much need to bring a Mage for Detect Magic, but I sincerely hope they'll fix that. This means that everyone needs to stop DPS while it's active, and he does it totally randomly, it's... annoying. Also, your tank needs to stop attacking, which means YAY HEAL AGGRO.
But that's okay, and you can deal with it. His second skill is called "Void Blast." Every 30 or so seconds, he'll unleash five of these, which do anywhere from 2000 to 2500 physical damage and send you flying back. Now, if this were just a volley, it'd be fine. You'd use a lower rank of Prayer of Healing or whatever and be ready to go. However, it's five randomly targeted blasts. Which means that you can get hit by two or even three in a row. Two is survivable, and means that at least one person isn't getting hit. Three is a death sentence for anyone wearing leather or cloth.
Now, we hypothesized that he gets stronger whenever he kills someone like the Twilight Corrupter, but it doesn't appear that way. Instead, just think of it like this: when someone dies, there are only four targets left for Void Blast... which increases the odds tremendously of someone getting doubled or tripled. So if any one person dies, and Pandy ain't almost dead, you're fairly boned. Triple Void Blasts are just random bad luck, and it's an aspect of the fight I don't really like.
We end up giving up on Pandemonius for now, and try the easier Auchenai Crypts.
We do fairly well, but it's getting pretty darn late, and we're exhausted. It doesn't help that every pack past a certain point spawns non-elite Draenei ghosts... including some Priests that have a nasty tendency to Full Heal each other. I hate the ghost priests, I really do.
Before the boss (Shirrak the Dead Watcher, who uses the exact same model as Broggok in the Blood Furnace... sigh... Blizz, you give us these awesome new models, don't go over-using them, please!) there's a long bridge called the Bridge of Souls.
There are these little sparkly... ball...things... that charge you and explode, knocking you back. One of our party members is almost knocked over the edge, and then our tank says "Don't worry, there's an invisible wall, you can't be knocked off."
We're skeptical, so he-being extremely confident-says "Watch, I'll show you," jumps towards the edge... and plummets down to his doom.
I really wish I'd been Frapsing that. I was laughing for a good three minutes straight.
Shirrak the Dead Watcher isn't nearly as hard as Pandemonius, but because it's late (or early, rather) and we're all morons due to lack of sleep, we wipe twice before calling it a night.
The next day, I decide to finish up with Terokkar by tracking down that pesky merchant. According to our Horde Scout (when they say he's right by the edge of the world, they really mean that he's right on the freaking edge of the world... don't look down!) the Arakkoa settlement has some weird mystery defense system, so we've gotta go find someone who can help us get around it.
Thankfully, there's a crazy Arakkoa guy who, for some unexplained reason, is willing to betray his people. They really never do tell us why, but let us assume that he's just a fruitcake. He asks us to prove our friendship by killing the nearby Ogres, and then by getting some various items for his magic.
I get a little group together, and we go to save poor Dugar the merchant!
That... was a lot easier than I thought it would be. The quest text, naming this particular Arakkoa settlement as the largest one, makes it seem like it'll be a big fight to get to him. But he's just, like, up the first freaking tree you see. That was kind of anticlimactic... oh well. XP and Lewt is XP and Lewt. I shan't complain.
With that, I'm done with Terokkar Forest! There's but one zone remaining: Nagrand, home of the Orcsies. I've got a quest in my log indicating that Garadar, the Mag'Har town, is under assault and needs my leet Magey help. Avengers assemble!
First impressions of Nagrand: pretty. REALLY pretty. It's these gentle rolling grasslands with some mountains and gorges, and I guess I can see why the Orcs find themselves at home in Durotar, even if Durotar's a bit more red and barren.
The sky is Outland-crazy, though there are puffy white clouds floating through it, which is really gorgeous. There are these Clefthoof animals wandering around that are even bigger than kodos and kinda look like Star Wars Banthas. There's lots of cool wildlife around these parts.
And guess who's here to hunt 'em? Hemet Nesingwary, big game hunter extraordinare, at yer service! Oh Hemet, how I've missed you. I wonder if Nesingwary's Safari will become as big a death trap as the Expedition was back on Azeroth. Hm. The corpse run sucks a lot more, so I certainly hope not.
I go to Garadar, where I meet up with the Greatmother of the Mag'Har tribe, who is slowly dying (aww... sadness.) and Garrosh, the son of Grom Hellscream, who is right now all emo because of the Greatmother's impending death and nowhere near as badass as his pappy.
Wonder if someone could kick his ass into gear? I guess... we'll find out, eh?
Next time: THE MOST AWESOME EVENT EVER.
See ya then!