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?

Trash

Trash was no big deal, at all. This was the first huge surprise after getting our asses handed to us by the trash in DM:North. The incoming damage wasn’t high, they didn’t have any noteworthy abilities and their HP were ridiculously low, so they died fast.

I didn't take any other trash screens, the fights were over too fast
I didn’t take any other trash screens, the fights were over too fast

There was one annoying mob that would polymorph without casting time, so we couldn’t avoid it, but that was really more annoying than dangerous.

The trash had a higher level than DM:North trash but less HP, so they died very quickly, which was good, because unlike encounters in Dire Maul, the trash fights were very uneventful.

The Bosses

Okay, here is the point where I usually list the bosses one by one and talk about their abilities, what challenges we faced and what unique tactics we used to overcome everything.

We had more deaths from accidental trash pulls, than from boss fights. In fact, we wiped -once- on Gahz’rilla and that’s it. We didn’t even check the abilities in the dungeon journal beforehand and still we basically oneshot every single boss.

The boss HP were about the same as the (lower level) DM:West bosses, so with our increased damage they died somewhat quickly.

I took a bunch of screenshots, but I can’t for the life of me remember anything noteworthy about any of the fights. We were scared of the event on the altar stairs, but that was unfounded as it turned out.

The whole run took about 60 minutes, which is crazy considering our level, group size and roles.

Here’s a bunch of boss kills, I don’t remember what they did:

WoWScrnShot_080916_204246 WoWScrnShot_080916_204749 WoWScrnShot_080916_205012 WoWScrnShot_080916_210539 WoWScrnShot_080916_211211 WoWScrnShot_080916_211616 WoWScrnShot_080916_212308

Progress

While it was nice to finally see some progress, the overall experience was quite underwhelming.

There was basically nothing to watch out for, nothing important to react to and everything seemed quite pointless and trivial.

I really don’t want to know how a fully equipped 5-man group with 3 damage dealers rushes through here. It must be ridiculous. No wonder there’s no discipline from players anymore in dungeons if THAT is what they have to deal with.

Changes

Shortly after we completed ZF in a single evening without any preparation, the HP of a lot of low level instance mobs was increased quite drastically.

So of course we decided to see what actually changed and after realizing we couldn’t kill older bosses like Immol’thar anymore, jumped into ZF.

The experience was again very disappointing. There was exactly zero added challenge. The mob HP was greatly increased and the fights took much longer, but that’s it.

On a number of occasions we accidentally pulled several trash packs and it never resulted in a wipe. While we sometimes can’t kill three mobs in DM:North, here it’s a no-brainer, even though they’re several levels higher.

So the increased HP only resulted in everything taking MUCH longer than it should. It was so incredibly boring. While we did spend more time on a single fight, there wasn’t more to do during that time. We fought, and easily, killed two bosses but ultimately decided that it was just way too boring to continue and not worth our time. Maybe there would’ve been a challenge later on, but we would’ve been in there for hours with nothing interesting.

So that’s the point where we decided to change things up. We leveled up from 40 to 42, thus unlocking BRD. Right now it seems that the window “challenging but doable” doesn’t exist anymore. There used to be a sweet spot between “impossible” and “boring”. There was content that was almost impossible, but by properly using the abilities provided by our classes, we could often find interesting ways to deal with those situations. Now, because our toolset has been reduced so significantly, we don’t really have any means to creatively deal with any “almost” impossible situations, making them also “impossible”. The trivial content is all that remains, but especially with the higher HP on all mobs, it’s just crazy boring. We could do something like speed runs in trivial content, chain pulling everything and trying to see how many mobs we can survive, but again, the high HP still makes every fight last so long without any challenge.

We will now level up faster, check dungeons less frequently and see if there are any more challenges ahead. We’re thinking that there’s no challenge anymore in leveling content and the only challenge will lie in endgame content. Since there are multiple endgame phases ahead of us, in theory there’s still lvl 60 raids, but the first notable one should be the TBC heroics, we are hopeful.

With the content becoming more current and our abilities and talents getting more diverse, expansion packs like Cataclysm or newer should become interesting again.

Maybe we will eventually change our strategy to just level to each expansions cap and see what we can do in that expansions endgame.

If everything fails, we will end up at the Legion endgame, where things should finally be balanced again, and then we’re going to check out what can be done with properly balanced content, because without the artifact weapon, all talents and skills, there’s no “real” balance anymore.