Scholomance: Beaten!

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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.

Boss 0: Trashmobs

scholo-trash

In the first room after the bridge at the entrance, there is a lot of trash. Clearing that one in vanilla took some time and you had to be a little bit careful as well. Now, there are a lot less trash mobs and you can actually bypass all of them pretty easily, but we wanted to try and kill them first. We almost stopped Scholomance right there, because we wiped several times on the caster trashpacks. They were summoning adds almost non stop and we quickly got swarmed. Lacking the dps to down the adds as they were summoned, we had to rely on low damage AoE abilities. After a couple of tries, we made progress and could kill them reliably, albeit slow and with a lot of awkward movement and rolling around on the small bridge.

Boss 1: Instructor Chillheart

scholo-chill
The healer had 97% mana at the end of the fight.

According to the dungeon journal, this boss should have been our first roadblock and not beatable until we were at least level 40+. The first ability in the list is “Ice Wall” which is a wall of ice, spanning the entire room, starting at the back and moving forward slowly. You can’t stop or remove it and if you touch it, you die instantly. If you kill the boss before the wall reaches you, it disappears. So this is a dps check, clearly. Since the boss is 43 and there are usually 5 people around level 40-45 in the group (usually), the health of the boss should be tuned around that, to make the Ice Wall dps check meaningful. Unfortunately it isn’t. Not even close! At level 33, with just me damaging the boss, we were comfortably killing the boss before the Ice Wall came close to us. It’s a complete joke. Phase 2 has some stupid jar and flying books. The damage is completely avoidable. I won’t go into any more detail since it’s not worth talking about it and I’m very disappointed by that. Two level 33 Characters should under NO circumstances be able to pass a dps check intended for FIVE players about 10 levels higher than them. Next!

Boss 2: Jandice Barov

scholo-barov
92% Mana

A very easy fight. Of course the dungeon journal let us to believe otherwise. Twice in the fight she disappears and summons a dozen or so clones of her, spread across the room, doing ranged damage to the party. The dungeon journal had pretty high numbers and we thought we would die quickly in that phase. But that wasn’t the case. In fact the incoming damage is almost negligible and the clones die in one hit. The other ability is a frontal aoe, which is easily avoidable. A joke, killed on the first try.

Boss 3: Rattlegore

81% mana (almost oom)
81% mana (almost oom)

The original Rattlegore was nasty. First of all, the way to the boss was often a wipefest because some idiot pulled the two million whelps in the room above. Rattlegore spawned adds that had to be focused down. He himself hit crazy hard and the healer had to focus on the tank, which meant that crazy dps pulling aggro were in trouble.

Now the boss has changed from a fight focused on high damage, aggro management, healing and focused dps to a movement intensive, time consuming joke. There are no adds in the fight and the boss doesn’t hit hard at the beginning. He has an ability called Bone Spike that causes “high” damage an knockback, but can be nullified by picking up an item in the room each time you get hit by one. His other ability is called “Rusting” and it is a stacking buff that increases the damage he does to his target. If you let it stack too high, it actually becomes dangerous and since it takes us a while to kill a boss, we thought we’d be in trouble. But the buff also slows Rattlegore down more with each stack and it only lasts for 15 seconds, so it’s not a dps race, as you can kite him through the room. This fight is mostly just time consuming and our first successful try took us almost 8 minutes. The next try only lasted around 5 minutes and after one level up, we were down to 3,5 minutes.

Boss 4: Lilian Voss

97% mana ;)
97% mana 😉

Her story begins in the undead starting area and continues through several zones and instances, culminating in the finale in Scholomance. It’s quite well done and interesting if you follow along. The fight itself isn’t difficult, but fun as there is a bunch of movement involved. The movement at Rattlegore was boring since I was just kiting him, but here it was more varied. Avoiding her while she followed you (Run away little girl, run away!) or carefully moving through the room, while avoiding the pools of fire you created during the debuff. Staying in the pools of fire or getting hit while she was focused on you, did high damage. The first phase was the fire pool phase, the second phase was her soul following you and the third phase was both combined. The last phase was fun but a bit short.

Bonus Boss: More trash

Every vanilla player remembers the room with the students where one mistake usually meant a wipe. “Don’t talk to them!” people said. Well, it’s a little bit easier now, since the students are spread in hostile groups around the room, but hoo boy do they deal a lot of damage both with spells and in melee. Due to our low level it also happens that I sometimes pull two groups and that’s a 100% wipe. There’s also a mini boss in the room, but he’s not really worth mentioning.

Boss 5: Darkmaster Gandling

scholo-gand

This fight is somewhat close to the original one. He summons adds and teleports random players in adjacent rooms. Luckily you don’t have to actually clear those rooms prior to the fight anymore, so that saves time (and challenge and fun).

At level 33 we died several horrible deaths at his hand. The damage he deals isn’t really that bad, but he summons a ton of adds over a long period of time. This is actually correctly tuned for a bigger group as I wasn’t able to kill the adds quickly enough resulting in very very high incoming damage. That alone would’ve been doable, but the kicker is the teleport. If a random dps is teleported away, who cares, right? But here it’s either the tank or the healer. And both scenarios are quite devastating. Getting out of the room for the healer is a bit tricky, he has to pull the hostile mobs in the room and destroy them by triggering an AoE by dispelling a debuff on another type of mob in the room. It took some practice to get it right. In the meantime, the tank gets swarmed with mobs and staying alive was impossible for me. If I got teleported away it was even worse. All the adds I had on me followed me into the room so I had to clear the adds inside, deal with the ones that followed me and had to try and stay alive. Impossible. We tried a couple of times and the only damage we could do to the boss was in the very first phase before he teleported or summoned anything.

So we leveled up to 34 and discovered something interesting. Since we were never able to survive long enough to kill the first wave of summoned adds and the boss still had 80%+ of his HP left, we were sure we weren’t able to beat him at 33…or 34. But we tried anyway at 34, we got a couple of new gear pieces and hoped for the best.

scholo-win
100% mana, heal plx!

We got lucky with timing, I got teleported away but got out quickly and the adds didn’t follow me but swarmed the healer who could ~just~ survive long enough for me to get back. Adds were still being summoned and then the healer was teleported away. With some movement and the increased stats by the level up and gear, I could also survive long enough for the healer to return. Finally we could deal damage to the boss, but hopes weren’t high. I had used my healing potion for the fight and I was dreading the next wave of Zombies or teleport…or both.

But they never came. It seems he only teleports each player once, at least on normal, and only summons adds once as well. I guess Blizzard didn’t expect the fight to last longer than two, erm, I mean five, teleports. Of course it normally doesn’t but we’re not quite normal, are we? So after we survived the initial summon/teleport agony, the fight was pretty much over in less than 3 minutes. I was happy that we could finish Scholomance 9 levels lower than the final boss, but the final challenge was a bit brief. And I also thought we ~might~ have been able to beat it at 33 with some luck.

Apparently he doesn’t summon OR teleport if you’re not in a group. Maybe I’ll try it solo some day.

After we beat Scholomance, we tried some of the other bosses we were currently stuck on, but didn’t get anywhere. Not even close. So we decided to level up to 35 and call it a day. The second wing of Dire Maul is already in progress, but things are looking quite grim. Razorfen Downs is next…maybe.

Overall I liked Scholomance if I don’t compare it to the original and get all nostalgic about it. The Lilian Voss fight is fun and Gandling was a formidable foe for a while. The other encounters were sometimes promising, but turned out to be a disappointment (Chillheart and Jandice Barov). I’m looking forward to Stratholme and the Blackrock.