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.

duo

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.

Dire Maul West

Still undefeated...
Still undefeated…

Only Prince Thortheldrin was left, an optional boss with a crazy amount of hitpoints (double of the actual final boss of the instance, and other dungeons that are of higher level) and an equally crazy damage output.

Alas, we weren’t able to kill him before the Legion prepatch. With the balancing of the patch completely uncertain, we would have to come back after patch 7.0 to see what, if anything changed.

Dire Maul North

Couldn't get past him
Couldn’t get past him

Unfortunately we didn’t make much more progress after the last entry. We wanted to try the tribute run, but were stopped by the inability to pass by Guard Slip’kik, as the quest to trap him isn’t available at our level. We had to level to 37 to kill him…actually to even get to him. The trash packs before him were too difficult at 36. After that we didn’t stand a chance. The previous difficult trash packs were now 50% larger and we couldn’t get past them.

With the prepatch at our doorstep, we couldn’t level up any more, so all we could do was wait.

Dire Maul was brutal, right from the start. It’s probably the most difficult instance yet and the one we spent the most time in. Some other dungeons had single roadblocks in form of one boss or mechanic. Dire Maul, especially North, is one huge roadblock.

Stratholme: Main Gate

Before Patch 7.0 hit, we actually did two weeks of progression in Stratholme. Unlocked at level 37, we jumped in at the first chance we got, after seeing no progress in Dire Maul. Hoping for a change of pace, we gave it our best.

The first trash packs were brutal, so business as usual. A lot of patrolling mobs, huge packs with ranged and melee mixed, fast respawning neutral mobs that can be aggroed accidentally and the Eyes of Naxxramas that spawn mobs, respawn themselves and patrol…you get the idea. Some of the patrolling monstrosities could deal over 50% of my HP in a single hit, making healing and cooldown timing quite interesting.

Let’s move on to the first boss, actually he’s just an optional boss:

Hearthsinger Forresten
This is just dumb, look at my dps, doubled by a lucky Touch of Death!
This is just dumb, look at my dps, doubled by a lucky Touch of Death!

What a shitty encounter. Seriously! This is by FAR the most annoying and boring fight we had so far. He doesn’t really do anything special. We had to figure out some positioning to avoid line of sight from the boss to the healer or else Forresten would put him to sleep.

Damage isn’t spiky, but constant and high and if we don’t position him correctly as well, he won’t get into melee range, as he’s normally using a bow.

What makes this boss the dumbest encounter ever is an invisible buff he has, that increases his dodge chance by 50% when he’s in combat. We are 10 levels lower than him, so our hit chance is already really really low. This results in the following:

-my chance to hit him is probably at around 5-10%

-my dps in turn was about 15-18

-a single fight would last about 20+ minutes

During combat, the previously killed Eye of Naxxramas would respawn. This was the biggest danger, as we had to react fast if we didn’t want to wipe. But moving to the eye was also quite hard, because of Forresten’s specific positioning requirements. After a while we figured everything out and after several tries and a very lucky Touch of Death we could finish him after 19 minutes.

This wasn’t a fight I enjoyed or understand. The 50% dodge buff serves absolutely no purpose other than to drag out an already boring fight with no challenge at all. In our case, the 50% buff almost made it impossible to hit him.

I really don’t want to kill him again. Luckily he doesn’t drop anything special.

Next up:

The Unforgiven
I'm not sure if they were supposed to do anything...
I’m not sure if they were supposed to do anything…

Umm, yeah, a ghost with a bunch of adds. I have no idea if there is any strategy involved. They died very quickly and didn’t do anything. Quite underwhelming.

Timmy the Cruel
Ouch!
Ouch!

TIMMY!

Hoo boy, not a chance. He’s Tortheldrin on Steroids, capable of reducing my health by over 60% in a single hit. Mana isn’t a problem, but it’s just impossible to stay alive, even with movement and cooldowns. Luckily we can skip him and reach:

Commander Malor
That was easy.
That was easy.

Who died in the first try. Great.

Next!

Willey Hopebreaker
This one is not that easy
This one is not that easy

Another gimmicky fight, this time with spawning adds, cannons and cannonballs. The fight is really chaotic and over within seconds. I suspect that even without the cannon gimmick, we wouldn’t stand a chance, as the boss hits very hard…much harder than we can handle at this level. After a number of tries we gave up and moved on to:

Instructor Galford
Easy again...
Easy again…

He died in the first try, without any movement or skill whatsoever. I’m beginning to see a pattern here. One unkillable or incredibly difficult boss, followed by a loot pinata. That means…

Balnazzar
And hard!
And hard!

should be unkillable. And damn right he is. We got him down to about 75%, but he uses so many annoying spells like sleep, fear or charm, while dealing a lot of damage, that it’s just pure chaos. With little room to evade anything or distance myself, we eventually gave up.

Well, that’s it with the pre-Legion part of our adventure. Unfortunately we couldn’t make any more significant progress. Stratholme proved to be quite difficult and we were unable to kill the endboss and two optional bosses. Not a total success in my book, but at least some progress. At level 37, when everything else is 8-20 levels higher than you, a dead boss is nice, especially after the long drought we experienced in Dire Maul.

Legion

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I didn’t much care for the information available about Legion, as most of it would be quite useless for our specific project. Everything is tuned around the endgame, and leveling is so quick, especially at lower levels, that balancing doesn’t matter. At all. With that in mind, a buff for a level 110 character can be a significant nerf for us and the other way around.

But: It didn’t look promising. Blizzard made very significant changes to all classes and specs across the board, removing many skills and talents as well as sometimes even overhauling the whole class/spec idea as well. What troubled me further were the intentions to change Tanking and Healing completely, with tanks becoming less self reliant and healers playing a bigger part in the survival of tanks. Surely that might be reasonable at higher levels, but in our little world I felt by no means too self sufficient.

In any case, we would continue our project. We were hoping that we didn’t get nerfed so hard we had to repeat the previous 5 dungeons, but at the same time we would also feel uncomfortable to skip ahead. Staying at our current level and pace would be optimal.

Turns out it would be neither and we were faced with an unexpected change of pace.

Our journey ended on July 19th, at level 37 with 18 of 26 dungeons (almost) clear. It would continue in a new gameplay environment the next day.