Instance #31 – part 1 High King Maulgar

Last night was my first proper experience in a 25 man raid and it was utterly brutal. Fourteen times we tried to execute the difficult 5 way pull (3-4 false starts) and whilst it started looking much better after attempt number 5, there was the issue of the King destroying our main tank and then running amok, plus the warlock Olm fearing our tank and slaughtering his enslaved hounds far quicker than we expected. Kiggler the Shaman was doing nasty things to healers who were trying to get line of sight on folks dps’ing the Priest. Our mage was trying to tank 9k fireballs. It was tough. So, we all surprised ourselves on what was going to be our last attempt for the night – our first time in Gruul’s Lair, and it was amazing to see. I hope someone caught it on video. My role switched from doing dps on the Priest in the first half of the attempts to assisting MethosNZ in dual-tanking Olm whilst Bridei healed us both. This worked a lot better, and before I knew it, the dps guys were helping, and both were down. Then the melee guys went to Kiggler, and the range dps were on Krosh – they both went down together, and it was stacks-on the King. I died towards the end of Kiggler, but was able to watch the rest of it and was cheering from the sidelines, as was my mystified little sister, who happened to be staying the night. Click here for a bigger shot.
This morning I woke up with a big grin on my face because we’d just done a great group thing, and I’d scored a lovely cat-form headpiece from the King, which has done glorious things to my Hit Rating. Enough of that. All day I’ve been humming and singing. Can’t wait to get in there again and see if it wasn’t a fluke.

Instance #30, and some momentous Karazhan boss kills

I was rumaging through a screenshots directory and came across a couple of firsts, which I feel duty bound to report. Beginning with the least impressive, I can finally report a downing of the last Arcatraz boss Harbinger Skyriss on 9th June. I’m a touch embarrassed to say that this was after a nerf which made her / him a little easier. Boy it dropped crappy loot. Click here for a bigger shot.
Looking at this shot is like a trip down memory lane – my first downing of the Curator on 18th June. I guess I was a little spoilt, because we had some good dps in our group, which made life a lot easier. Later attempts were not so straightforward, and I think this was the first week of the second Kara team, before we abandoned attempts to balance the teams, hence 3 folks from Red team in here. Click here for a bigger shot.
Lastly I have a Netherspite kill that I don’t deserve to post because I had little to do with the 5+ attempts at him before Hadion had to leave to go to work. So, I was hurriedly swapped in, and whallah, we had him down in 2 goes – maybe 3. Without going into all the silly tactical stuff, I was assigned the GREEN BEAM. So, I was deeply grateful that said beam spawned in the same place each time, as occasionally I had trouble spotting the difference between blue and green when they first spawned. Even Blizzard aggrees with me, and in the next patch these differences are being magnified. I am not colourblind. I love how Thainabox is so generous with his kisses in this shot. Click here for a bigger shot.
Otherwise I am working with the third team in Karazhan now, and it’s more casual, though it has its issues with the “me me me” folks. Generally, a lot of fun, though progress is slower.

Being a Karazhan raider

When I first joined a guild playing World of Warcraft with my semi-abandoned level 27 alliance druid, I noticed that folks seemed to talk in hushed, serious tones about raiding. I had no idea why it was even called raiding (I still don’t really, except that its what Blizzard software calls bunching up with 9 or more other individuals to conquer foes). I quickly got the idea that others saw it as the pinnacle of the gaming experience. Only fairly hardcore (desperate?) types did it; I knew another couple who spent 4-5 nights (or more) playing and raiding, and I couldn’t imagine myself doing that. Then, somehow over the last year things evolved so that Kim and I are now involved equally heavily (and happily?) in organising and raiding the 10 man Karazhan dungeon for Crusaders of the Flame. What is it like you ask? Well, when you’re regularly around reasonably serious players, you soon figure out your weaknesses, whether they be strategic, organisational or straight-out playing, so by surrounding yourself with a bunch of others that DO have those skills, you stand the best chance of general success. Somewhere along the line, when you’ve done many of the things possible to reach the level 70 cap, you look at the alternative which is to begin another character and you look at the 25 x 24 hour chunks of playtime you’ve invested into your hastily chosen and named avatar, and you decide that the loot and raiding is a better choice. Well I have, mostly.

So, whilst things around me suffer (music practise, dogs, house maintenance, general outings) JSBach continues to hold back the undead foes of Karazhan with his furry hide and does it respectably. It’s surprising how enormously satisfying it can be to group with others and defeat a boss that you consider way out of your league. Then there’s the downside of sitting down for another 4 hour stint, and crawling to bed exhausted, with a typical headache the next morning. I guess some folks handle the stress of it a little better than I do. To finish off, I need to mention a few significant in-game events which occured last night which I will oneday look back on and gasp in disbelief that I was so serious about. Firstly, a fellow guild member won me an incredibly rare and frankly dull-looking tanking trinket called the Badge of Tenacity. I had dedicated many hours over the past 2 months trying to get it, and had given up, so 1000 gold was a small price to pay for it. I am an unremarkably geared druid-tank and I wanted something that would set me apart from the usual druid. Now am I am one of the 1% who have it. And my armour is mysteriously 2500 points higher.

Then, a Tasmanian druid comrade Serein was able to get a much coveted Terestian Stranglestaff, otherwise known as the Octopus on a Stick, which deals out a fair chunk of damage for a cat druid. Now she just has to play a cat oneday.

So, our guild has just begun to run three separate 10 man teams into Karazhan, and Kim and I organise a team each. It’s been fun meeting people and getting to know the personalities. We pretty much see them more often than our families and friends, so I’m glad we mostly get along fine.

Slave Pens Heroic

In what I think may be a guild first, tonight we ground our way through the Slave Pens in Heroic mode. I probably didn’t have the greatest night, but with MacDougal double-Freeze Trapping, and some great firepower from the others, we managed to take down Quagmirran on the second attempt, after my PC locked up and rebooted on the first. Not good when you’re tanking and the beastie is spraying poisonous green stuff at your party, requiring a taunt every 30 seconds to get it off them. We died quite a few times (and repaired), but really started to hit a groove near the end, and finished full of confidence. After all the jubilation, we shared out the loot, took our Badges of Justice and grabbed a screenshot. It was disappointing to see that Heroic instances look identical to normal ones except when you enter the portal. See the second screenshot below. Apparently many heroics are going to be toned down in the coming weeks, so it’s particularly pleasing to claim this scalp at a time when they are at their most fearsome. Click here for a bigger shot.
McDougal takes down Quagmirran! See Combat text.

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Behold the bear! Click here for a bigger shot.
And the loot, you ask?

Instances#’s 19-29 a catchup…(some photos missing damn it)

Ok,ok, it’s going to seem like I’ve done nothing more than play WoW lately (and that’s partially true), but I have had some serious satisfaction playing these instances. For a number of reasons – firstly, I didn’t think I was a very good player, and after consulting The Uber Druid in our guild, I realised it was partly because I really didn’t know what stats to aim for. Within a few weeks I was rapidly gearing up for a tanking role thanks to the best darn gear listing around (thankyou druidwiki). Second, Kim and I got in cahoots with the dreamteam couple of Thai and Tardin, who could make anyone look pretty good. Lastly, Kim and I are finally the same level (yes, I hit 70 – screenshot below), so we’ve been able to play together a lot more. So, what follows is a summary of events from 24th Feb to the 7th April 2007 in order of occurence…(not recommended to non World of Warcraft players). I HIT LEVEL 70:

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How utterly appropriate that I hit level 70 in Shadow Labs. I remember it feeling more like a relief, and not the triumphant feeling I expected.


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First up, the raid that I missed out on when only level 55 and the too-cool-for-school brigade were going through it weekly. After a guild bikini-run from Stormwind to Booty Bay (how appropriate), a few folks thought it would be fun to go back in and decimate the fiends that had made their lives a misery over previous months. So, I went, and we conquered all…


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OK, on to Outlands again. I have a screenshot here of Mana Tombs, an instance I think I’ve done twice now, but can remember little. I was only a wee level 65 and just starting to realise that I was going to be playing a bear quite a lot in future. I believe it was shortly after this point that I discovered how to taunt. That is incredibly embarrassing.


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I’ve only done it once, and perhaps the loot was bad, because I’ve never been back. Is this the least done instance in the whole of BC or what? Only two bosses and now I look up the loot table and discover there’s an awesome cat-form trinket from the Exarch. I’m going back in soon then! This seems to be the beginning of the Thai and Tardin team photos, and signals a time that Morlucia was not played by son Alex.


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I remember this one – we had a new guildie who named his character after a VL Calaigh car. Hmmm. This was his first guild run, and we did it pretty well. I haven’t seen him online a lot lately, but he was a “player”.


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Without doubt, the most hated of all the instances, perhaps because of the necessity of running it to get your Karazhan key, and because of the mind-controlling second boss, and the healed-by-voidwalkers third boss. Plus, there are some 6 mob pulls in here that are downright scary. Eventually we worked out that if Tardin mind-controlled the first character, then dps’d down the fel hound, I would try and tank a couple, and Thai would alternately fear and seduce two more, we could do it. It still remains the instance requiring the most strict group makeup to succeed. It’s a heartbreaker! And I never want to run it again (but I will).


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Are we on to Netherstorm already? Oh no, the Shattered Halls pics are also missing. Aargghhh! What was I thinking – why didn’t I just copy the whole screenshots directory for safety. Anyhow, this is the beginning of the “beautiful instances” as Kim likes to call them. All purple and white. And pretty tough unless you know what you’re doing. Around this time, we found not a lot of other guildies on this part of the Arcatraz quest chain, so Diablos started to become a regular fixture. His trademark “instance cleared” guild message is in the shot. Do you like the loot? I got the Moonglade piece, but next time, I’d love to have a crack at the rogue trinket (The Abacus). How about the great name of the boss – Pathaleon the Calculator. I must must must go back in here soon – there’s a nice cape also.


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The dream team does it again – on the next night? Diabs does
his signature thing, and Kim and I must have just become officers because there’s some pale green officer chat (before we changed it to blue). Interestingly Menicatros signals that he might raid with someone else because of the healing pallies/druids (which healing druids – I can’t think of one), and a month later, he’s gone to another guild.


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To get everyone back into raiding practise, the officers organised a run into that most famous of tough 40 man instances. With about 27 of us. We wiped a couple of times, and some harsh words were spoken on the Voice channel when less disciplined folks did their pew-pew at the wrong time. I remember being assigned the orange disk to tank (3rd tank) and being very stressed about it, especially when my target was the first to be taken down with dps. On a couple of pulls I spent some time trying to regain threat/aggro, so it was a little humiliating at times. We did all bosses except the last two, because we hadn’t completed a quest sequence. I just love how you can see everyone’s names in my “Grid” utility at the bottom right. Those that hadn’t left by this stage of the night anyhow.


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I look upon this fondly because I was so open-eyed and innocent at the time. I had no idea it was an outdoor instance, and somehow thought the portals were physical holes in the ground. Thank goodness Kaellan came along and directed traffic. When I died with the final boss at 5%, Kaellan jumped into bear form and finished things off. He loses points for not wearing the CotF tabard though. Since then, I feel like I’ve run this countless times, with a hit rate of about 70%. Reminder: Never take a protection pally in here unless you have uber-dps. I have never failed it when Thai and Tardin came along. This is another instance that shows up the weaker part members, as if you don’t take the elites down quickly, the poor warlock has to mop up as best he can. My greatest nightmare is being asked the “take the adds” in this fight, so it was hilarious to see Antheriel squirm when asked the same a few night back.

Instance#’s 15,16,17,18 Hellfire Ramparts, Blood Furnace, Underbog and Slave Pens

Since the release of Burning Crusades on January 16th, apart from levelling from 57 to 64, I’ve happily ploughed my way through a bunch of quests and early instances, the final of the easiest four being completed last night in a desperate fight against Quagmirran. It didn’t take long for me to realise that my much loved catform druid shape was just too risky for the bosses (or even the trash) of these dungeons, and despite little kitty-cat being in the first screenshot here, I had to play the unfamiliar and scary world of bear-tanking for the other ones.
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Hellfire Ramparts was a real ground-breaker for me, as I’d never fought bosses with so many strategies before. The dragon Nazan would breathe fire on you from the air whilst you tried to get Vazruden’s health down. Luckily we had Huunter (who was a Hunter strangely enough) to take him right down in health, so when on the ground he was only about half health. After suffering a scorching cone of fire, I found myself buying some fire resist rings in the auction house, and went back to try again a few days later. He seemed just as hard then also! Click here for a bigger shot.
Blood Furnace I remember very little of, having only done it once. It was probably more remarkable for the three druids in our group (two bears and one cute Moonkin). There was also a priest called Tardin who discovered the dark side and was comfortable with that. This is the beginning of the “Bridei is the most appropriate person to heal” phase. Click here for a bigger shot.
I was seriously scared about the Underbog, which is reached by swimming down a long pipe in Coilfang Reservoir, but I needn’t have worried. We had the careful, managerial experience of Antheriel to work us through this potential nightmare, and we only wiped once when I was thrown off a ledge into some water by a druid-enslaving hunter who kept yelling “Obey Me” – I thought it was “Oh baby” when I first heard it. Again, it felt like a momentous series of boss fights – the bit where I had to turn the nasty green hydra sidewards to stop his tail from flicking people, and absorbing all the poison breath myself. I love this screenshot because right near the end of the fight, I was levitated, I shapeshifted into a caster and continued from the air. The boss died whilst I was up there, and I am just starting to fall to earth again. Click here for a bigger shot.
This was the hardest thing I’d ever done in-game. On a 38 degree day, with the cooling on full tilt, we struggled our way through The Slave Pens with a resolute web-cafe hosted mage Duderino, for nearly three hours when you include the wipes, and the loss of Vyeper for the always obliging ScienceLady. But we did it, and I was jubilant and tired (and sweaty) afterwards. On our third and final attempt, with three of the party dead, the Quagmirran went down – I was able to resurrect Bridei and we all lived happily ever after. Saved by having two mages who would sheep everything in sight, it was a masterpiece of strategy to keep the nasty mobs from shredding us. And plenty of good herbs to pickup along the way.

Instance#14 Blackrock Spire (UBRS)

Finally we’re getting to the really scary dungeons, where no matter how well equipped you are, your strategy is everything. And we were VERY well equipped generally, having a couple of 64’s, a sprinkling of 61-62 characters and then there was me sitting on 59. The junior.

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Venek, Teryiane, Bridei and I needed to kill the nasty General Drakkisath (called Drak by his friends) so we could potentially go on to do the Onyxia instance at a later date. Whether or not anyone will want to do it is not the point. We managed to get a group of 9 together (our very funny guild warlock had a bit of a headache and had to bail), which is remarkable because I was sure everyone would be hellbent on levelling in Outland – so, many thanks to those who volunteered their time for us.
There is little to say about the Drak fight (I got to off-tank one of his minions – yippee a real job! 10 person parties are a mash of bodies and spells, so I welcome the (physical) separation of roles) which was skillfully organised and choreographed by the ever-helpful-and-knowledgeable Antheriel. When finished, since we had conquered all before us, Kaellen wanted to have a go at Lord Valthalak who is one of the Tier 0.5 quest bosses. This proved to be tricky business – he would regularly spawn near-invisible Spectral Assasins and has nasty Shadow Wrath spells, plus he could heal himself by 10,000 using something weird called an Energy Siphon. First time around, our tank was dead in 5 seconds and we all died in the next minute. Second attempt, we did a lot better, but only got him down to 50% health. It was getting late and everyone decided IT WASN’T THAT IMPORTANT, but it made me realise that none of these fights are easy, even with lvl 64’s hanging around.

Instance# 13 Scarlet Monastery

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Scarlet Monastery sounds a lot more exciting than it actually is. One of things that newcomers soon learn is that from the nearest Alliance flight-point, you have to run the gammut of some nasty beasties around the Anderhol Ruins, so by the time you arrive, it feels like a relief to mount the stairs and go in. Apart from the novelty of being able to work through 4 bite-sized mini-instances instead of a potentially gruelling 3-4 hour chunk, it’s a pretty linear affair. Probably the most commonly done area is called The Cathedral, where acolites fill a huge church, and if you attempt to kill the inexplicably named Commander (not priest?) Mograine before dealing with his buddies, basically everyone in the place runs to his aid – i.e you will all die. So then, you finally do kill him, and what’s this? A sexy sounding high ranking lady (High Inquisitor Whitemane) comes out of a secret chamber and resurrects him – then you have to kill them both.
So, I’ve probably done the Mograine fight 3-4 times, and always in strong, confident company, and the resurrection bit was explained to me beforehand, so it’s not a big deal now – especially at my level, but I can certainly remember my first few times doing The Armoury, because it frightened the pants off me. The boss at the end of that section is called Herrod, and once he dies, about 20 loyal Scarlet Trainees run down and give you the shock of your life. This is the time that players use group spells like Hurricane, Frost Nova and Rain of Fire. Amidst the confusing array of weather effects, these poor devotees all seem to crumple and die quickly when we do this. First time though – I thought we were gone!

Instance#12 Wailing Caverns

Ash convinced some of the folks from work to play some Horde characters and form a guild (Renascent) so we could actually play together occasionally. Despite being a bit lukewarm because I’m so close to 60 on my Alliance character, I’m happy to play once a week, and the upside is that I get to finish off some of the lower level dungeons that I didn’t complete or skipped.

Click here for a bigger shot. So, this screenshot is from my Mage character. We only had 4 of us, but were powerful enough to plough our way through and defeat all bosses including the fairly hairy wave-upon-wave-of-bad-guys before the white albino murlok Mutinous the Devourer at the end (only 2 minutes before the server rebooted). This was an instance where our priest tanked (!) and Toby’s Voidwalker fell off a cliff and we all feared that it might be the end of us. Playing my mage again after 3 months off was really difficult at first, but things got better after each fight. By the end I was freezing everything in sight and AoE’ing all the little snakes like a pro.

Instance#10 and #11 Maraudon and Sunken Temple

Over the past few weeks, I’ve gone through Maraudon about four times and the Sunken Temple twice. These shots are from the first time for each, despite on both occasions me being a bit low level, and relying on some great players in our guild to get the job done. In the Princess fight (the green one) I died half way through and had to be resurrected – how embarrassing. I thought it was wonderful how the Princess was a large chubby giant who farts poisonous gas everywhere – in fact that’s how she got me.
Click here for a bigger shot. I was really thrilled to go through Sunken Temple again a few days ago and actually tank (as a bear) the mini-bosses on the upper ledges, and I don’t think our party wiped (out) even once. Talk about stressful. As I recently learnt – just because you tank, it certainly doesn’t mean you do the most damage. There’s something wonderful about having to activate pillars in a certain sequence that appeals to my nerd factor. As usual I got lost all the time, but at least it isn’t as scary to me anymore. sunkentemple1.jpg
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