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.
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.
At 36 we could progress further, although we didn’t expect to get anywhere. Dire Maul, and especially DM North, shows again the difference between the old and new dungeon design from Blizzard. DM was mostly left alone with no gimmicky redesigns. The mob levels, health and damage was adjusted, but that’s it. Compare it to something like the Razorfen Downs, which were more heavily overhauled. As a result, RFD became incredibly easy with a focus on movement and other stuff, that didn’t really matter because the damage was so low.
DM:North on the other hand doesn’t have that. It’s just brutal. Mobs hit hard and have abilities that have to be interrupted, especially if you’re just two players. While the modern design might be more complex, the old design is actually more difficult. Complexity doesn’t necessarily beget difficulty. If mechanics can be ignored, there’s no difficulty. If there are no mechanics, but you have to know your character well and have precise timing in order not to die, there’s difficulty.
In those instances it always starts with the trash and DM:North is no exception. The trash here is brutal. The Ogres, even a single one, hit extremely hard and at 34 we couldn’t survive one of them after they enraged. But of course there had to be packs of two, sometimes three enemies. The result? Frantic kiting, rolling around and waiting for the Touch of Death cooldown to come off. There was no way I could face tank more than one mob at a time, so we had to be a little bit creative.
In case you’re not familiar with stagger: It works as a damage delay that slightly smoothes out incoming damage by absorbing 20% of the incoming damage and putting a DoT on you. A stagger amount of 574 means, that there’s almost 6000 damage in the DoT, which means during that fight the incoming damage was almost 30.000. This is just a trash mob pack and I was trying to avoid damage. So my shield that absorbs roughly half my HP every 30 seconds is not even in there. And those were just two mobs!
Boss 1+3: Guard Mol’dar & Guard Fengus
These bosses were surprisingly easy. They have an enrage, charge and supposedly call for help, but once the healer had the right distance not to be charged and I was up against some kind of wall, it was mostly a tank&spank fight with heavy incoming damage.
Actually all guards have the same abilities so if we could beat the first boss at 46, we could beat the second boss at 46.
You might notice that there’s actually three guards in the instance. I’ll get to that in a minute.
Anyway, the trash was much harder than the two guards, even if the guards get a bit dicy once they hit their enrage (+60% attack speed at 50% health for 2 minutes)
Boss 2: Stomper Kreeg
This fight was very interesting and I’m sure we didn’t do it the way it was intended.
Let me give you a quick ability rundown:
Booze Spit gets me drunk and reduces my chance to hit for 8 seconds, no big deal.
War Stomp knocks back players within 5 yards. The healer has to stand away from the boss and I have to position myself well, because the knockback is pretty far.
Whirlwind deals damage in an 8 yard radius. Nothing to worry about.
You made me spill my drink: This is where it gets interesting. At 50% he enrages, attacking 60% faster for 2 minutes, but also entering Drunken Rage, which increases his movement speed by 100% AND resets his aggro completely whenever he hits anything.
That meant funny aggro ping-pong. He’d hit me and do a mad dash to the healer. If I didn’t taunt him, or in the likely case of taunt still being on cooldown regain aggro in some fashion, he’d tear the healer apart very quickly. I could deal damage to him, albeit slowly due to him being out of range often and the healer could top me off.
We’d stand at almost max range to each other so the boss would have to walk pretty far. The 60% attack speed frenzy buff was actually not a big deal and it was easy to keep me healed, because I’d only get hit once and then the boss would turn away and run to the healer. I’m sure in a 5 man group this ability would make for a hectic fight if the boss would live that long.
We were already thinking about the upcoming fights when suddenly the aggro didn’t reset anymore and he’d bash my face in with 60% increased attack speed. Turns out we overlooked that the two enrage abilities had different durations. I’m sure the aggro reset was deemed more difficult by Blizzard and thus it had been set on jsut 60 seconds. For us it was a lifesaver and once the 60 seconds were up, we still had 60 seconds of insane incoming damage ahead of us. Fortunately we got lucky with Touch of Death and I killed him -just- before he’d kill me.
Now that was one encounter we wouldn’t have been able to clear without Touch of Death. The healer was almost out of mana (a rare occasion) and almost everything I had was on cooldown.
Trashmobs are often hard, but rarely to the extent that we can’t beat them.
Well, the trashmobs after the second guard were just that: Unbeatable. Super high damage, high hitpoints (so ToD was not an immediate option) and a polymorph that had to be interrupted while keeping my distance from the melee. Easy! We did a number of attempts but eventually the incoming damage was too high. It was quite weird to be stuck like that on a simple trash pack and we decided to call it a day and return when we got a bit stronger.
How that turned out will be a story for the next post about Dire Maul North!