Instance #32 Lady Vashj and Instance #34 Malacrass and Zul’Jin

The last three weeks have been the pinnacle of my World of Warcraft experience to date. Amazingly, our guild has downed the end bosses of both Zul’Aman and Serpentshrine Cavern. Both of these conquests I never thought possible (too hard, too much coordination, not well enough geared, not enough patience) – just a whole raft of reasons really, so I’m ecstatic at our progress. It’s no different to a football team going up against last season’s premiers; they beat you again and again, and pretty soon a certain percentage of your team get down in the mouth about it, so a victory or two boosts everyone’s confidence.

Lady Vashj (Serpentshrine Cavern)


 Click here for a bigger shot.


I think it was our 4th entire night of Lady Vashj attempts and we finally got the 25 man team balence right – more ranged equals good. People got better and better at spotting the tainted elementals and looting the cores. In particular, Tedebear was fantastic at standing next to the generators and closing them down. I wish I had recorded the audio of our conquest because communication was frantic and the roar after MethosNZ hit shield wall, last stand and finally received a Lay of Hands, with Vashj on 1% and only 1 tank, 2 healers and 6 dps alive and she dropped was incredible. People were screaming with pleasure. It was the proudest moment of my WoW career without question.


Hex Lord Malacrass (Zul’Aman)

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As for Zul’Aman, being only 10 man, it’s been a bit easier to organise runs, and we’ve had a blast now that we have better knowledge of the various fights in there and are better geared. Hex Lord Malacrass is enormously challenging for both healers and for the tank, being described as a “Moroes on steroids”-type event. I think he took us 3 or 4 dedicated days of attempts also, but eventually, we learned to recognise the different event syphons and prepared for them beforehand. I really love this fight now, but I would hate to be a healer in it.


Zul’Jin (Zul’Aman)

 Click here for a bigger shot.


Zul’jin, the final boss in Zul’Aman was surprisingly easy to deal with in comparison. He has 5 phases and the 3rd is an excrutiating tornado-phase where he does 1250 damage to anyone casting a spell (including healers), and the whole while you have tornadoes chasing you around. So melee dps are kings here. I wasn’t there for our first guild kill, but when I did give it a go the following week, we took 4 healers including 2 restoration druids in, and did it easily.

Instance#33 Al’ar

A short entry because CotF killed Al’ar last night after quite a few nights of angst in there. It was our second time to be successful on this WoW boss. The screenshots are the original ones from the end of January (was it really that long ago?) when we managed to take the female Phoenix down on our first night of attempts. Click here for a bigger shot.
I think the breakthrough was when we decided that despite the temptation of being able to knock 3% of her health off with each Ember killed, it was distracting, and bunching up our dps too much and we just tanked all the Phase 2 embers and held them so the entire raid could dps the boss. We did it with 2 minutes to spare, so there was general relief all round. Sounds like there’s a good chance we can try attempting Solarian in a week or so. Should be fun looking at a new encounter.

Instance #32 Leotheris the Blind

You ripper. We downed another Serpentshrine Cavern boss a couple of nights ago. I had a bit of a premonition that it would happen after looking at our 25 man group makeup. We had 4 shaman, some evil dps’ing warlocks and our #1 hunter. My only disappointment is that my friends Sian and Michael weren’t with us that night. Click here for a bigger shot.
Apart from the last 10% of his health or so, Leo came down so effortlessly and quickly, that the problems that we’d had over the previous week or two seemed puzzling. There is an enrage timer that kicks in after the fight goes beyond 10 minutes, meaning that everyone is dead by 10m 30sec. but this time, we just burned him bad! The last 15% of his health went down a lot slower due to his continual whirlwinds, meaning that our melee-heavy group lost a lot of time running away in fright. Once you get affected by a Whirlwind debuff, you just have to pray a nearby healer can keep you alive. Usually you’re dead. Hence our need to be so careful. A fellow guild member captured a 9 minute video of the kill (including what Kim called a surprising lack of audio) to a techno backbeat, with excellent picture quality. I was so excited to hear the dumb things I said and watch my little Cat run in and attack, that I watched it 3 times. My favourite part is when Kim says “Bridei has her inner daemon”. Bridei was the main healer for Humus our warlock – who happened to be the main target of Leotheris at the time, and that means that Kim is going to be totally proccupied for 20 seconds, trying to kill something instead of healing others. 15 seconds later you hear the fateful “Humus is down”. Talk about essential to our raid is my wife 🙂 I then tried to resurrect a dead priest and told everyone the wrong person. Doofus! Luckily there are a limited amount of player resurrections available. Here are the stats for the group. I am Jsbach. Kim is Bridei. Hetheria is the mage who captured the video. Humus has a green triangle over his head. We handed out the Tier 5 Gloves loot to worth recipients Abstruse and Humus, and went and killed an easier boss in Tempest Keep as consolation. The last boss in SSC (Lady Vashj) is supposedly terrifically hard, and we didn’t want to undo all the euphoria of our boss kill too soon. Here’s the link to the .avi file. Warning 225MB. It needs the Xvid codec.

Instance#32 Morogrim Tidewalker and Fathom-Lord Karathress

Oh man. I’m buzzing from this week’s awesome sudden progression through Serpentshrine Cavern. It’s remarkable how when you stall on an encounter for a week or so, it dampens the spirits and you wonder why you bother. Magtheridon comes to mind. I swear that fellow has just out-psyched us. But his time will come. I don’t know why things have suddenly clicked this week. We finally seem to be getting enough signups for the raids, and have started to focus on SSC a bit more seriously. Once you get a new boss down, the next night can be completely devoted to learning the new encounter, so we walk in fresh and willing to wipe, and (so-far) we’re managing to do it. As a guild with quite a few Paladin tanks, Tidewalker seemed like he would suit us, and as soon as we mastered the fine art of murloc attraction, it became a lot more manageable. Who’d have thought that having warlocks life-tap, and paladins heal them would be the most crucial part of this fight. We still have to work out how to get our Tankadins out of range of the Wattery Graves for this to become an “automatic” fight for us, but to one-shot this boss on Friday was amazing. Click here for a bigger shot.
As for the Karathress fight, it’s remarkably like the High King Maulgar one, in that you decide which of the bosses minions is the most awful and eliminate it first. Only – the boss himself gains that ability once the minion is down. Oops! We had a lot of problems with the healers going down when the combination of a spitfire totem and a 50%-of-health bolt struck. So, healers had to heal healers. I remember Kim saying that it was the most heal-intensive fight she could remember doing, and we had a record of 9 in the raid last night. Click here for a bigger shot.
Such a great feeling to be moving forward and looking at new challenges ahead. From a tanking point of view, both these guys are very straightforward, and nowhere in the league of the sensitive Hydross or the fast spawning ZA spirit bosses.

Instance#32 Hydross the Unstable

It’s been ages since we took down a new boss, so it was lovely to completely destroy Hydross and his elemental friends on Friday night. I had been feeling pretty tense about it because I was main tanking the Frost Phase and a couple of times on Wednesday, I completely lost him and he crossed that damn invisible line and turned green again. For the uneducated this means the group is about to wipe. Sighs all round. After a sleepless night thinking about all the things I had done wrong (the worst thing is that sometimes there’s nothing wrong, but you never really know – all it takes is a warlock dot or a shaman totem left on the ground), I decided to employ a slightly radical technique to ensure Hydross hated me the most of all. Click here for a bigger shot.
When all the Elementals are down, and he’s not far away from being transitioned from Nature to Frost, I run over the line and cast a rejuve and a regrowth on myself. The gives me healing aggro. Then, as he’s coming towards me – I moonfire him. Another DoT. Then I pop into bear and enrage (my new 3 points into the Intensity talent give me 10 instant rage as well as the Furor shapeshift rage points). I then hit auto-attack and start lacerating and backing up until he changes colour to Blue. Then I try a Mangle or Maul and hope I don’t get a parry. Meanwhile, all dps creep over the line so it he goes for them, it won’t cause another transition. It’s all sweat inducing stuff and I was very relieved when I only had to do 2 Frost Transitions before we dropped him. Our paladin tanks did a fantastic job on rounding up the elementals, and we AOE’d them down beautifully. Disappointingly all that’s left on the ground as a corpse is a couple of large rings form his belt. I didn’t give a toss about the loot – it was just sweet to take down a new bad guy.

Making cash in a hurry

I think it hit me about 3 weeks ago, when I realised I had only 7 gold pieces on my World of Warcraft character. Sure every piece of my gear was gemmed, glyphed and enchanted, for both tanking, dps and for frost resistance, and all my bags are Imbued Netherweave ones which cost a bundle, but I really had to drag myself out of the poo with money. When we raid, typically we spend about 30 to 50 gold on flasks and food, and 25 gold on equipment repair, so at 3 nights a week, I was in deep trouble. As I had already maximised most of the gear I could possibly get without the need for 24 other people, I was beginning to lose motivation and direction and I wanted a new goal. The thought of an ultra fast flying mount that meant you could fly anywhere as fast as a normal gryphon was supremely exciting. I liked the idea of a long chain of quests to prove you were worthy of Epic Flightform. It captured my imagination. But it cost 5000 gold. I had a week off work over Christmas and no raids for 3 weeks – the perfect scenario. This is how I did it. 1. Took up mining. Admittedly I had dropped 375 Herbalism about a month before and had my mining around the 300 mark, but I’d never seriously endeavoured to “farm” the mining nodes. So, on the advice of the ever-clever Humus, I donwloaded Cartographer and it’s various modules (including Routes). I then ran a little wizard to setup optimised routes that included all Fel Iron and Adamantite Ore nodes. I made it a habit to finish off my evenings with 30-45 minutes of zig zag flight over areas in Blades Edge and Nagrand. I’d scoop up all the Motes of Fire I could from the Fel Iron and gleefully count each mote as 2 gold in my pocket. I sent all the Ore and Primals to my bank character and would put up auctions every day when I had a stack of 20. Adamantite goes for about 23 gold a stack and Fel Iron about 9 gold. 2. I looked up the best place to farm Elementals for Motes. Pretty quickly I discovered the Elemental Plateau in Nagrand (as had everyone else it seemed) and I’d spend 45 minutes there when I was bored, seeing how long it took to kill the Fire and Air ones. Note: Air ones drop more and they go down quicker, but they are worth slightly less. If I discovered this place empty (rarely) I could make about 6 primals an hour or maybe more – thats about 120 gold. 3. I went back and did the 6 daily quests for the Ogri’La and Shatari Skyguard factions. Not every day but every second or third. I didn’t really want to do this, being Exalted for such a long time now, but doing it with guild friends made it quicker and more bearable. It’s an easy 50 gold for 45 minutes work. 4. I disenchanted a bunch of “maybe oneday I’ll use this” items and sold the materials on the Auction House. Within a couple of weeks I’d reached 3000 gold. Kim said I’d be able to make money quicker if I had a fast flying mount, so she loaned me 2000 and I bought my 300 Riding Skill the same day. Then I looked at the 14 step quest chain and took a gulp. But it was easy! Within 3 hours I was up to Step 11, but I became stuck on a nasty hunter boss that I could supposedly solo on an island South of Terrokar. A few guildies jumped to the rescue here and then we polished of Heroic Sethhek Halls shortly afterwards – luckily it was the Heroic Daily quest that day – an omen for sure. My epic flightform is even better than I thought (280% speed increase over walking and 10% faster again with a trinket) – I love it. I made the 2000 gold back to Kim in a week, as it sped up my mining by more than double. Hmmm suppose I need a new goal now. Time to get my Herbalism and Alchemy up on my other character, and the 5000 gold for that one (sigh). At leasts the flasks and elixirs will be cheap to make then.

Instance#33 Void Reaver

Last night CotF downed Void Reaver on our second attempt. It was third night we’d scuttled our way past the first boss in The Eye to have a go at the second (Void Reaver), who we defeated last week too, but only after about 5 goes, and we were much more impressive last night. I knew things were looking good for a serious attempt when I could barely get in the top 12 on the damage meters for much of the night, when usually I’m around the top 5-7 mark. We had 6 warlocks, 2 Shadow Priests and 2 Mages in our 25 man group, and boy, did we pump out the damage. We had a few hapless newcomers in our raid last night and they copped a hammering for either trying to talk over people who knew better or for neglecting their primary roles. Our raid leader was more brutal than usual in cutting them off – he was in a foul mood! When you’re new, you need to earn respect by deeds, not by asking how big everyone’s crits are. I realised last night that we are becoming a reasonably serious raiding guild now, and there are fewer and fewer laughs in the 25 man runs – people are afraid it flags them as flippant or not serious about it. Click here for a bigger shot.
There’s not a lot to it when you’re tanking VR, or melee’ing – all the action is with the healers and ranged spellcaster-types, who have to run around avoiding Orbs that get cast their way. We rely on the healers keeping us topped up, and having a new Resto Shaman in our group made life very comfortable inside VR’s “Pound” range. Afterwards, we gathered next to his tiny head and took screenshots whilst people wondered if maybe we’d try something else, seeing as it was not even 10pm, whilst the New Zealanders made noises about it being great to have an early night.

Instance# 32 The Lurker

Every week brings distant goals that little bit closer, and a huge barrier was overcome last night with our first boss kill in Serpentshrine Cavern. The fantastic part about Lurker (a huge fish) is that he is effectively unfightable unless you have a person with 350 fishing skill in your 25 man raid group. And even then it can take 5-10 minutes to catch him. Sitting around a deep pool with 3 fishing lines out, waiting quietly for a hook up can give you heart failure the first time when he leaps through the air and splashes down again. In fact one of our tanks confessed he was too afraid to fish for him in case he couldn’t put his fishing rod away and equip his weapon in time before the fight started. Last night was our second night attempting Lurker. Apart from a 360 degree slow moving water spout that kills anything it hits, he dives deep into the pool every few minutes and spawns 9 Naga that you have exactly 1 minute to take down before he emerges and does another spout. That’s 6x30k health and 3x60k health creatures to obliterate without them killing you first. We had an awesome technique last night for the first 6. 3 hunters would drop freeze traps on them and use their pets to tank their twins whilst warlocks and mages took them down. The nastier other three were tanked and spanked, often with only seconds to spare before Lurker emerged. If you lose a melee dps or two in this fight you are going to have serious problems. Sorry – no fishing shot. Click here for a bigger shot.
Then there’s the water which does 500 damage to you when you jump in it, and 500 every 3 seconds whilst you’re swimming/floating (which is the main way to avoid the spout). And then there’s the regular melee knockbacks (Whirl) and (Geyser) that make life as a healer so tough. When it was over at just after midnight and I won the Boots of Effortless Striking, I was buzzing so much I couldn’t sleep for an hour or so. All day I’ve been thinking about it. We are awesome!

Instance #30 and #31 again: Nightbane and Gruul

I know this might be getting a touch repetitive, but I’m enjoying documenting the death of these bosses that have in some cases caused so much pain. Nightbane, pretty much the last boss in Karazhan, is an unusual case because you have to complete a pre-quest to summon him. Then there’s a lot of drama whilst he flies a few graceful circles over your group before landing on a balcony (and preferably not on top of top of your head as happened to Kim and I on separate occasions). Then you have a 10 minute fight where your healers are screaming for mana, you have people being feared into charred earth, and worst of all, the Rain of Bones with spawned skeletons. Ugh! So, we got him down with not a great deal of fuss a week or so ago, and here is the proof. Click here for a bigger shot.
Gruul the Dragonkiller is a different proposition, and in so many ways a more fun fight. This one is a 25 man raid, and every 30 seconds he grows bigger and stronger and once every minute or two, there’s a fun random element started by Gruul doing a Ground Slam which throws you around the room, only to Shatter you about 5 seconds later. The fun part is that between the two effects, you are progressively slowed to a halt – like running through thicker and thicker honey. And if you’re even close to any of your fellow raiders? Kaboom! So half the time, you’re yelling out “sorry” on a microphone to friends that you’re just about to kill. By the time Gruul is down to 10% of his health, your Main Tank is copping an absolute pounding, and he has at least 3-4 healers on him full time. I love this fight! Click here for a bigger shot.

Instance #30 continued: Shade and Illhoof

It’s been a big, big week or so for the Blue team in Karazhan, where the unthinkable occurred. We downed the outright horrible Shade of Aran, who has put us through gaming hell for too long. And a fella called Terestian Illhoof and his friendly bunch of imps followed in rapid succession. Finally, on Sunday, we conquered Netherspite, and succeeded on the 4th go. But I’ve posted a pic. of him before. So, I think Blue is feeling pretty strutty at the moment, as some psychological hurdles have been overcome. Click here for a bigger shot.
Click here for a bigger shot.
But as I say this, perhaps it’s the cold and headaches I’ve been caught up in this week, but my enthusiasm has begun to wane. I’ve been into Karazhan more than anyone else in Blue, and it’s starting to wear a little. So, my tactic now is to drop out a few nights when possible, and so it feels like more of a treat than an obligation. We have some great capable folks around who will take us onto bigger and better things.