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!

Trash

The trash is mostly harmless, but sometimes there are interesting mechanics, like spiders that put either me or the healer in a web, quillboars that buff nearby spiders or throw meat onto the healer making him attractive to ghouls that ignore my threat etc.

Except for one instance where I accidentally pulled half of the instance due to our ridiculously high aggro radius, we neither died to trash, nor was it actually difficult. Compared to Dire Maul or Maraudon, where some of the Trash was actually a huge threat, this was a bit disappointing.

Wasn't me...wait, yes it was.
Wasn’t me…wait, yes it was.

It’s always fun to say “I have aggro? Why?” and wondering for a good minute what’s going on when suddenly you get swarmed by a bunch of mobs. Surprisingly enough, we stood our ground against them for quite some time. I’m sure at 36 we would actually survive that.

Boss 1: Aarux/Aaurx

"Great" name by the way...
Great job with the name by the way…who messed that up? The mob name is “Aarux” but when we defeat it, the popup says “Aaurx”. I guess nobody has noticed yet…

Well, that was disappointing to say the least. Seeing the bosses start at +10 levels scared us a bit, but with this one we didn’t have to worry. Basically it didn’t do anything except constantly trying to pull the healer towards itself, not succeeding, not doing anything else besides dealing pathetic damage to the tank. If the healer blocked line of sight and thus getting pulled towards the boss, the damage on me was significantly higher and I suppose if Aaurx/Aarux succeeds in pulling someone towards him/her/it, something might happen. I wonder how in the world a group of 5 players can wipe here…10 levels higher than us…with heirlooms.

FYI: The original boss here was Tuten’kash, also a big spider with a different model.

Optional Boss: Sah’rhee

"Me Sorry"..."Sah'rhee"...get it? Ha...
“Me Sorry”…”Sah’rhee”…get it? Ha…

This fight was slightly more interesting as we had no idea a boss fight was ahead of us. There was no mention in the dungeon journal and neither of us had visited this instance since the Cataclysm. Shows how much we know about the game. *cough*

The fight was really boring until the boss decided to mind control the healer. You had to deal enough damage to him to break the mind control. Later in the fight I got mind controlled. Fortunately the mind controlled version of me didn’t deal too much damage. Actually it wasn’t really mind control, it seemed more like Sah’rhee’s spirit possessed the player, changing the model to him. Fortunately again, the possessed characters did use a bunch of cooldowns, but Blizzard seems to have been reasonable about it. For example while I was possessed, Sah’rhee could’ve easily one shotted the healer by using “Touch of Death“, but never did. So the portion where the healer had to do thousands of damage to the boss who had my powerful shield cooldown up almost all the time was mostly time consuming. We probably won’t kill him again unless we need some loot off of him.

Boss 2: Mordresh Fire Eye

rfd-mordreshfireeye

Mordresh is one of the bosses that was already in the original version of the Razorfen Downs, but he was updated visually and got new abilities.

He summons Blazing Servitors which do constant AoE damage, spread randomly around the boss (static) and link up with a damaging line of fire while the boss occasionally also has an AoE directly around him.

At first the adds seemed quite difficult, as they were elite and had too many hit points to kill them faster than they were summoned. After a minute or so it turns out, that they despawn/die, so their number was usually limited to about 5-10 at a time. With the area being more than big enough, we had no trouble moving the boss around without getting hit by anything the adds were doing. I think someone stepped into the fire beam -once-.

The damage from the boss wasn’t high so there was not much to do except to tank&spank him.

Now, on paper aka the dungeon journal, this fight sounds really nice. You have adds that you have to kill while avoiding their AoE and connecting fire beam, the tank has to position the boss to avoid the adds from stacking unfavorably and also avoid the boss AoE as well. But if the execution of those abilities is so badly done that it doesn’t pose a threat to a severely downsized and underleveled group, that’s just sad.

I’m sure you’re already noticing a trend here, but let’s continue with:

Boss 3: Mushlump

rfd-mushlump

Replacing the old Glutton encounter, he has three abilities.

Smackdown: This deals moderate damage to the tank

Tummy Ache: A frontal AoE, easily avoidable, but you don’t really have to, because the damage is pretty pathetic.

Putrid Funk: He vomits on the ground and it stays there. Very easy to move out of…but again, not really necessary, because it doesn’t do that much damage.

Boring fight, all avoidable abilities could be ignored. Even if they did significant damage, they are all very very easily avoided.

I can’t stress this enough: The boss is 10 (!) levels higher than us and a regular group probably does about 500% more damage than us (that’s probably not even exaggerated…maybe it’s even more).

Help from above

rfd-kori

By now we were quite disappointed with the dungeon, but had hope for the last part. Here Koristrasza helps the group fight the mobs and bosses by putting down healing circles on the floor as well as casting the occasional damaging spell. So we thought the encounters were designed in a way, that required you to utilize that support. For example damage that’s too high to heal without the tank standing in the healing circle or stuff like that.

Boss 4: Death Speaker Blackthorn

rfd-blackthorn

Well, at least for the trash we didn’t need the support of the red dragon. Who would’ve thought…

We explicitly avoided her support during this encounter, as we wanted to see if it was possible without any aid. Blackthorn (heyho Ultima Online) occasionally summons three adds and does some other crap, but honestly, it didn’t matter. The only time we had a little surprise was when I misaligned the boss and his Shockwave ability hit the healer for a huge amount of damage. So unless the tank actively tries to kill his healer, the boss doesn’t pose a threat. Boring!

Boss 5: Amnennar the Coldbringer

rfd-amnennar

But looking into the dungeon journal, things seemed like they were getting more interesting (about time, we’re at the final boss).

He casts Soul Leech and the dungeon journal explicitly mentions that you have to move into the healing circles to cancel the ability and stun him. With the ability healing him and damaging basically everything, we were curious to see just how strong it actually was.

So naturally we completely ignored all help and never interrupted the ability with the healing circle.

His other spell is Frozen Bomb which would get interesting if there progressively were more and more of them, but at most there’s two and even if you don’t move and let them stack, it’s not really an issue.

Oh back to Soul Leech and the healing circle…did we need any of that? Of course not! We ignored all boss abilities and avoided all help from friendly NPCs and easily beat the final boss of the Razorfen Downs.

Aftermath

Holy poop on a stick, what a tremendous letdown.

Oh shut up you...we didn't do anything and we certainly didn't need your help.
Oh shut up you…we didn’t do anything and we certainly didn’t need your help.

The fights all were interesting in theory, most of them anyways, but this was so far a low point in our adventure. The first instance where we beat the final boss at the level we were allowed to enter. We were a stunning 10 levels lower than any of the bosses in this dungeon, we didn’t have any heirlooms (some of my gear is still from about 8 dungeons and 10 levels ago, there’s nothing better yet unless you use heirlooms) and we lacked 3 damage dealers. Furthermore (this is also a first) we completely disregarded any and all boss abilities throughout most of the dungeon.

And not only didn’t we wipe once to a boss or trash pack (except the half-instance pull) we didn’t even have any trouble at any point.

So now I’m wondering: Who the f*ck (pardon my french) was this dungeon designed for? There is most likely not a single 5 man random group in the world that ever cared about any of the abilities in the whole dungeon. Nothing poses a threat to a level 40+ group. Not even remotely. And we didn’t even make use of Koristrasza’s support either. If you’re with five players you’re bound to use it at least a little bit, even if just by accident.

I’m really looking forward to this dungeon being unlocked in the dungeon finder and queue as DPS so I can see if there’s a way a random group can wipe here. I really want to know.

Seriously, this dungeon design is just the worst. Maybe they forgot to tune the mobs and bosses to the new level, remember, the original encounters were of a much lower level.

Game Changer?

But how in the world do we make this dungeon challenging? I think we’re already trying our best. Just a Tank and Healer…and unless we incorporate some shady Warlock ports, we can’t enter the instance at a lower level, as Blizzard seems to think nobody would want to enter a dungeon more than 10 levels lower than the bosses. So the only option left is to purposely make our gear worse by either getting crappy items or removing some slots and to be honest: I don’t really want to do that. Getting better gear and building your character to face new challenges is still a huge motivation. If I have to remove even that part to make a 5 man boss of level 45 actually challenging for 2 players of level 35 that’s just not my problem anymore, that’s Blizzards messed up encounter design and their philosophy to make everything easier more accessible.

You can actually often see a stark contrast between old dungeons or new/updated dungeons. The old dungeons are usually much tougher, but boss fights are less complex and the difficulty comes from managing your own abilities and gear. Properly tanking and healing is key. Modern encounter design is much more lenient on incoming damage and focuses more on dancing around a bunch of seemingly threatening abilities. In theory this is a better preparation for later raids, which require you to move out of the fire an things like that. But if the early encounters are so trivial that you can ignore the encounter itself, you’re left with boring fights that don’t offer a challenge to anyone and don’t teach anything to anyone. Great job Blizzard, this is one of the reasons why your subscriber numbers are tanking.

So now I’m a bit wary of the upcoming dungeons. If this trend continues, we might have to be more creative and switch to green/white/grey items or do everything solo, use abilities only from the spellbook, disable keybinds, play without the interface or so. But I don’t want to do that, I just want to enjoy a challenge without jumping through more hoops than I already am.

Not all is lost

But just in case you’re thinking we don’t have any challenges left:

tortheldrin

This is a level 44 optional boss. We first encountered him at level 31. This screenshot was done at level 35, we try to beat him after every single level up. Absolutely and utterly insane! I have no idea when we’ll be able to beat him and I love it.

One more thing about the monks Touch of Death ability: In some cases this is almost overpowered, but boss HP are so high, that we have to do almost every fight properly and for several minutes. My current HP are around 7000 (which btw is completely ridiculous if you’ve ever tanked at level 60 during classic) and bosses usually have about 35-40k HP. Also considering the level difference, it quite often misses, triggering the cooldown. Most of the time it makes the very slow fights a little bit more bearable…our dps is crazy low, so scraping a minute of a 7 minute fight is quite welcome. In fact, the most difficult fight so far, Alzzin the Wildshaper, was done without Touch of Death because I messed up when the fight got crazy with the adds and triggered the ability on some trashmob. It’s mostly a time saver and so far there hasn’t been an encounter which we couldn’t do without it.

Outlook

So right now we’re struggling with the final and optional bosses of Dire Maul West, we haven’t progressed in Dire Maul North yet (but that’s our next step) and the next dungeons are Stratholme at level 37 and Zul’Farrak at 39. That’s 9 dungeons in classic to go (counting all wings as separate dungenos). Also: Legion is around the corner, at least the prepatch will come next month, and we have absolutely NO clue how it’s going to impact our project. Either it won’t change anything, make it easier or much more difficult if not impossible. Personally I’d welcome the last outcome. Even though I won’t be that happy if I had to go back to, say, Scarlet Monastery or Maraudon (which would be level appropriate now), I’d appreciate a new chance at a more difficult Razorfen Downs. We’ll see, there are certainly going to be blog posts about the Legion changes concerning our project once we’ve tried it out on the live servers (not going to spoil anything on ptr).

See you hopefully soon with an update on Dire Maul and maybe even Stratholme.