Dungeon Duo Continues: Zul’Farrak Clear?

Zul’Farrak is weird

This week we tackle Zul’Farrak. Actually we’ve already went into the dungeon a couple of weeks ago and did some re-testing after the post-Legion HP adjusting hotfix.

The Loading Screen
The Loading Screen

As usual, if you’re not familiar with the dungeon duo series, we’re two gnomes, Brewmaster tank and Discipline healer, trying to complete dungeons at the lowest possible level, without damage dealers, because that’s apparently the only way to get a challenge while leveling. Click here to read more.

So, Zul’Farrak, or ZF for short, unlocks at level 39, with the mobs ranging from 47-49, bosses are 49. We entered at 39, with very low hopes. We had bashed our head at Dire Maul: North and also West for countless weeks now, leveling up, not progressing and the idea of tackling higher level mobs seemed outrageous at the time. But we were in desperate need of some diversion, so we wanted to try our luck.

This was after the Legion prepatch, but before the HP increase, so we had a massively reduced toolset and much lower survivability, but higher DPS.

Let’s start with the trash and continue with the bosses, shall we?

Continue reading Dungeon Duo Continues: Zul’Farrak Clear?

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Dungeon Duo Brewmaster Monk before and after Legion

The Brewmaster Monk

The Brewmaster is a fun spec to play with, movement heavy and a little bit different from other tank classes. I picked this spec for the project for no particular reason other than that I didn’t have a monk yet.

I played the old brewmaster from Level 1-37 and the “new” overhauled Legion one until Level 40.  Doesn’t sound much, but that’s about 200 hours /played consisting almost exclusively of tanking. I did a little bit of questing and some random dungeons, but for the most part I’ve played together with the Priest.

I guess Pandas make for more convincing Brewmaster Monks than Gnomes
I guess Pandas make for more convincing Brewmaster Monks than Gnomes

I don’t know anything about Monks in endgame and how they’re “supposed” to be played, but most of that doesn’t really apply to us anyway and probably the way I play the Monk seems a bit weird, but it actually works, or is even required, in our special case.

In this post, I’d like to explain the old playstyle and abilities and then compare it to the way Legion works, while explaining the difficulties I’m having with the new gameplay style.

Continue reading Dungeon Duo Brewmaster Monk before and after Legion

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Post-Legion, first steps…

The Legion expansion launched today, so I might as well transition to the Legion content with our little project. If you’re new here, click here to read about our little project and what we’re trying to accomplish.

Note, that this article is only looking at Legion from the perspective of our little project. On max level, the changes and additions to the gameplay have a very different effect than they do at our lower levels.

Still getting used to the new and "improved" gameplay...
Still getting used to the new and “improved” gameplay…

Changes, so many changes

Often new expansions are all about the new content and the new abilities and items you get when you level up through the new zones and clear the fresh dungeons and raids. Of course there are always some tweaks and adjustments to existing mechanics, abilities and items, but usually it’s nothing major.

Even bigger changes, like the complete overhaul of the old talent tree system, kept the gameplay of the classes mostly intact and every now and then Blizzard would try to reinvent a class that had gone a bit stale over the years.

Legion is different. Warlords of Draenor already introduced a slight reduction of class abilities and spells, but for the most part, everything stayed similar to Mists of Pandaria. It seems that wasn’t enough and now they took it a couple of steps further. In order to simplify gameplay they radically reduced the number of available abilities across the board. In addition to that, almost every single spec of every class had their gameplay overhauled and simplified in some way. But that’s not all. While abilities were reduced, specs were changed and class identity reinvented, Blizzard also specifically targeted healers and tanks and changed their role to some degree.

Continue reading Post-Legion, first steps…

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Pre-Legion roundup: How far we got…or didn’t get.

First I want to apologize for the lack of recent updates, but I had a lot of issues with my webspace provider. A simple transition to a “better” package turned into an almost two month ordeal during which I didn’t have any access to my eMail, databases or FTP. Now everything should be ready again and I can continue with my blog.

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And it’s about damn time, a lot has happened since I took an involuntary break. We tried a bunch of additional instances, that I haven’t reported on, then the Legion prepatch hit, almost a month ago, and with it a ton of changes to dungeons, classes and balancing. Recently even more changes were made and there is a lot to talk about.

In this posting I’ll summarize what happened in the weeks before the Legion prepatch. Next time, I’m going to talk about our first steps with the Legion changes and then continue with our current progress. For this summary of the remaining progress of Warlords of Draenor, I’ll be a bit brief, even though there have been a few successful new boss kills. Due to our inability to progress any further with the WoD gameplay, we will return to more detailed explanations when continuing with Legion.

Continue reading Pre-Legion roundup: How far we got…or didn’t get.

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Dire Maul North Part 1

This week we start work on Dire Maul North, the last and most difficult of all three wings. In case you’re new here or want to catch up, here’s the project overview.

The old DM North map. The lower part used to connect to DM West, but now the door is closed and you can only access it from DM West.
The old DM North map. The lower part used to connect to DM West, but now the door is closed and you can only access it from DM West.

Dire Maul North Overview

Dire Maul was introduced in Patch 1.3 as a level 60 instance. It was huge and challenging, there was a lot to do, tons of quests, class quests, a new faction, three wings and an optional challenge called the tribute run. With the Cataclysm prepatch, 4.0, the instance was slightly redesigned, the wings separated, mob levels lowered and a couple of things simplified.

Technically Dire Maul North is available from level 31, which is ridiculous and a technical limitation. All three DM wings are on the same map file and it seems the minimum level to enter is hard coded to the map and not the entrance portal. 31 is the minimum level tuned for DM East, the easiest wing, where the final boss is 41. DM West’s final boss is 44 and North 47. So at +16 levels (+15 for the first boss) we did NOT attempt anything here. There are some challenges that are beyond the scope of this project.

If you’re familiar with the old Dire Maul, the tribute run still exists in the new version of the instance and we are absolutely going to attempt doing it.

We did a small test at 34 and were quickly dispatched by a single trash mob, so we waited until 36, because 35 didn’t bring any gear or skill upgrades.

This did not go well. The trash was ?? level ;)
This did not go well. The trash was ?? level 😉

Continue reading Dire Maul North Part 1

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Dire Maul West: Clear…kind of…

New readers and everybody else, click here to check out what this project is all about and see the current status: Dungeon Challenge Overview.

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Dire Maul West, as well as East and North, are technically one dungeon. That’s why you can enter all three wings at the same level, even though they vary vastly in difficulty. The East end boss is level 41, West is 44 and Norths is 47 and everything is available from level 31. Well, in theory.

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We got to the end boss of East at 31 (+10) but didn’t manage to kill him until 34 (+7). We entered West at 33. Eleven levels below the final boss. Yikes! We didn’t go at 31 because it seemed, well, stupid, even for us and we chose 33 because that was our next Step Up (Scholomance became available) and the level difference to the bosses was still a new record.

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Actually we didn’t expect to make progress at this level difference, but as usual, this challenge is full of surprises.

Continue reading Dire Maul West: Clear…kind of…

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Razorfen Downs: What the…?

In this episode of the WoW Dungeon Duo project, we step into the Razorfen Downs. If you are new here, check out the Introduction to our little adventure.

This post is a bit longer than usual. Enjoy! Or: Sorry! (If you don’t like reading.)

Razorfen Downs Loading Screen
Razorfen Downs Loading Screen

Well then, after successfully finishing Scholomance at 34, testing our other current roadblocks and deciding we couldn’t beat them yet, we leveled up to 35, thus unlocking the Razorfen Downs.

Razorfen Downs has been redesigned with the release of Cataclysm and contrary to the other updated dungeons, this one had the level range increased by about 8 levels. Originally you could enter at Level 25, now it’s 35, with the mobs being 43/44 and the bosses 45. Naturally we ignored the recommended level range and group size and went in 10 levels below the final boss, not knowing what to expect.

The instance has 4 bosses and one optional boss. Let’s get to it!

Continue reading Razorfen Downs: What the…?

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Scholomance: Beaten!

New readers, check out what this project is all about: Right here.

Scholomance

Ah, the School of Necromancy. Much has changed since it was overhauled for Mists of Pandaria and I don’t like it that much to be honest. I’d go on a rant here about the shortcomings of the new version, but I’ll just describe quickly what changed:

Upon release of WoW, Scholomance was one of the toughest Dungeons in the game. Designed for 10 players around level 58-60, it was quite challenging and not to mention huge, with over a dozen bosses. In 2006 the instance was nerfed slightly, mob numbers and hit points were reduced, but so was the maximum number of players and now it was a regular 5 man dungeon, so it stayed quite difficult. There were also a bunch of quests (naturally) and other events like the fight for the Paladin mount and a special summoned boss for level 60 players that needed to complete their Dungeon Set 2 quest chain. It was great!

scholo-gand2

But ever since the Burning Crusade, less and less people actually entered the dungeon and it became more irrelevant as leveling speeds increased. Most players hit Outland at 58 and the Scholomance gear wasn’t that great to the quest rewards in Outland…or compared to heirlooms. So the instance was mostly forgotten. So with Mists of Pandaria, Blizzard wanted to overhaul the dungeon, so more players would be able to see it again.

Instead of being an end game dungeon, it is now for players from 38 to 48. The dungeon was drastically resized and all branching paths were removed, along with most of the bosses, to allow for a quick, straight and smooth run through the instance. Of course the difficulty was adjusted as well so now you typically rush through the dungeon in a couple of minutes without anyone dying. The special encounters were removed as well. There is a heroic Level 90 version of the dungeon, but it’s still the same, smaller instance. Bosses are slightly harder and there is an additional (trivial) rare spawn. That’s about it.

Why they didn’t split the dungeon into two wings, like they did with so many others, it beyond me. It would work perfectly and they didn’t have to shrink the dungeon that much, keeping everything intact. Maybe some people like the new Scholomance better. If you do: Tell me why, I’m very curious to know.

Okay, enough rambling, let’s get on to the challenge.

The Scholomance bosses are Level 43 and the minimum level to enter the dungeon is 33. You can queue for the dungeon from Level 38 and I believe using the random dungeon finder offers you the dungeon at 40+. Of course we went at Level 33, just the Healer and me, the tank. We really didn’t expect much, still having the original Scholomance difficulty in our heads, but to our surprise, we made progress.

Continue reading Scholomance: Beaten!

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Finally!

The first time I set foot into the Black Temple was in August of 2008, a few months before the big 30% nerf for the WotLK 3.0.1 prepatch in October of the same year. We didn’t clear the raid, but it was quite exciting and even if it wasn’t current endgame anymore, it was a real challenge for the whole raid.

The fashion of soloing raids wasn’t really a thing back then, not like it is today. An ill prepared raid of lvl 70 characters could still very VERY easily wipe in lvl 60 raids like AQ40 or Naxx. Soloing raids was made more difficult by the fact that you couldn’t enter them solo, so you needed a friend or second account so you could make a raid group.

In the older expansions the power creep wasn’t that huge as well, so the Black Temple wasn’t soloable at level 80 and even at level 85 depending on the class and your gear, it was impossible to get past the first boss. Later bosses were also impossible for other classes.

My first Black Temple run (as a healer)
My first Black Temple run (as a healer)

I didn’t get to solo BT on my Rogue until level 90 and even then it took a while until I got enough gear to pass the DPS check on the first boss. I slowly improved my gear and checked regularly if I could kill him. Later bosses weren’t pushovers either. The Essence of Desire at the Reliquary of Souls fight was very tricky and Illidan as well as other bosses killed me regularly as well.

Continue reading Finally!

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Four levels for one boss: Alzzin the Wildshaper

New readers, check out what this project is all about: Right here.

Alzzin_the_Wildshaper

This was quite the epic journey. The Dire Maul portal lets you enter the instance at level 31 and we progressed, with some difficulty, to the endboss: Alzzin the Wildshaper.
You can read about the first bosses and our troubles with Alzzin in the previous post.

Alzzin is without a doubt the toughest bossfight in the game we encountered so far. We had roadblocks prior to this, like the Houndmaster who was really strong due to a debuff where we had to get lucky or Rooguk in Razorfen Kraul, who was just ridiculously unbalanced and not actually difficult.
But Alzzin has it all. High damage, multiple phases, shapeshifting, adds, tons of abilities, movement, mana and aggro management…it’s a shame that regular dungeon groups basically kill him before anything happens.

I already spoke about the boss in the previous posting, but let’s recap the fight in detail and with what we’ve learned while leveling up.

Continue reading Four levels for one boss: Alzzin the Wildshaper

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