Last Updated: 2016-08-19
I decided to write a little overview I can link in every new blog post to summarize what this is all about for new readers. Hope you like it! I’ll also keep this posting updated with our overall progress and links to previous blog posts. We’ve started the challenge in 2014, but took a break in 2015 and returned in 2016 and I’m glad that we did, because it’s awesome and the most fun I’ve had since TBC 5 man heroics.
Okay, WoW is boring nowadays, way too easy, there’s no challenge and especially dungeons are just a way to get fast xp and good gear if you’re not already fully decked in heirlooms, blah blah blah. I’ve been playing since Vanilla WoW and fondly remember the time and challenge throughout the game and also in TBC (early heroic 5 mans anyone?) and that’s why I really miss this level of difficulty in the current iteration of WoW. So a friend and I came up with the idea to try playing dungeons with just a tank and healer.
We already knew you could solo early dungeons while being at the level of the endboss, so we decided to start a little bit lower than that. Honestly, we were still in the wrong mindset of vanilla dungeons and thought there would be a challenge. We remembered the dreaded “crushing blows”, that appear when bosses are of a much higher level than you are, which deal a significant amount of damage and wanted to avoid that (because in vanilla it was deadly). So we originally started just 3 levels below the final boss of the dungeon…that wasn’t enough by a long shot. Turns out we need the crushing blows to make it more interesting.
We gradually increased the level difference and eventually ended up trying to do the dungeons at the lowest level we could enter the portal, which proved to be the best way to get a challenging experience. Sometimes we had to level up a couple of levels due to impossible encounters, which is fine.
I didn’t start writing about the challenge in my blog until we started in Scarlet Halls. I might do a catch-up posting of the first dungeons, but except Gnomeregan and maybe one boss in the Stockades you didn’t miss anything as there wasn’t a challenge yet…we were still too high level most of the time.
We’re not going through excessive lengths to get really good gear. We’re not using heirlooms or PvP gear (maybe the faction trinket?) and we’re not spending tons of money on “best in slot” BoE gear, like level locked PvP twinks. Most of the loot comes from the dungeon bosses and sometimes I’m doing a couple of quests to get a particular quest reward and that’s it.
Getting the best possible loot from the dungeons is actually pretty easy. First of all, we kill most bosses multiple times while we’re progressing through the instance. But most loot we get is actually way too high level for us. I’ve got gear that I can’t wear for the next 8 levels. By the time we can wear the loot from an instance, we can blast through it (which is funny, because that’s the “proper” level to do it and we’re still three dps characters short in our group) and get the missing pieces quickly. We’re also sometimes doing dungeons to level up, that’s another time where we acquire better gear.
While the equipment is very good, compared to what you’d get if you were a new player, questing through the zones and doing a dungeon every now and then, it’s still below what you’d have with heirlooms. The heirlooms get better with every single character level, while in our case we might not find a better item in a particular slot for a long time. For example, I’ve had my first head piece for 8 levels (25-33)! With heirlooms I would’ve gotten an upgrade at every single level.
Every now and then we also get an upgrade through instance quests, but we usually have to go back to old dungeons we completed long ago, because when we’re actively progressing, our level is way too low to actually accept the quest.
For most of the time we’re level locked as we don’t want to outlevel the content and make it too easy. So it’s a very controlled leveling process where we either level up to the minimum level for the next instance of carefully increase our level one by one for a particularly difficult encounter. In the former situation, we also might skip ahead to the next dungeon if we run the risk of outleveling that as well due to an overtuned boss in the current one.
We keep pushing the limit and on some occasions already fought, and defeated, bosses that are 10 or more levels higher than us. It is actually pretty ridiculous to discover the lengths you have to through to make a dungeon challenging. Not only is the average group about 10 levels higher than us in that case, they’re also better geared and have 150% more players (5 instead of just 2) with a damage output that should be many many times higher than ours.
Leveling is very slow, be prepared for that if you try this challenge for yourself! At level 33 I have 5 days /played, but I still expect to hit Level 60 sooner than I did with my first level 60 character in vanilla WoW, so there’s that. This is very much a long term project. We’ve played a lot already and are only halfway through the Vanilla dungeons. Then there are the raids and all the upcoming expansions with heroic versions, raids etc.. I’m sure we’ve got content for years to come and even the “terrible” expansions will provide an awesome experience.
With this dungeon challenge, the fights take much much longer than usually. You get to see all the abilities of the bosses and you actually have to react to them instead of just ignoring everything. Some boss fights take up to 10 minutes and then even mana becomes relevant again, which is thought to be “infinite” at lower levels nowadays.
You also notice things like very unbalanced bosses (Roogug in RFK is the most extreme example), things like normal trash packs being more difficult than actual bosses (Dire Maul 1 has some really nasty trash!) or casters getting more dangerous when they run out of mana, because their melee hits are pretty deadly.
It’s also very interesting that you can’t judge a book by it’s cover. Previous “normal” experience with the encounter and reading the dungeon journal might give you a rough idea of what to expect, but you really have no idea of the actual difficulty of the boss fight. Which is great, you’re always a little bit scared. We had fights where the abilities looked very weak and we got our asses handed to us and we had fights where we looked at the abilities and thought “We’ll die!”, but one shotted the boss. So we have to be very careful with every new boss and even trash pack we encounter. This is a feeling that you don’t get anymore unless you’re raiding current Heroic or Mythic raids. I love the challenge, I love the uncertainty and the way you have to improvise and improve your character, slowly. I highly recommend everyone to grab a friend and try this challenge. It’s also fun to travel the world again. We have to go to every dungeon by ourselves, discover flight paths and explore the world a little bit again.
It’s not a challenge for everyone, I get that. You need a lot of discipline and patience, especially if you’re used to today’s gameplay. Nowadays a typical random dungeon lasts anywhere from 5 to 25 minutes. Our dungeon runs can take hours and completion is not guaranteed so we often do dungeons in multiple sittings, making it almost feel like a raid where you progress slowly from boss to boss. Since dungeons “reset” after 24 hours (or something like that) we frequently have to redo the whole instance just to get to the final boss. You do get faster with each try, but it still takes a long time. The healer rarely does any damage and as a tank my damage output isn’t stellar either and mistakes can still easily kill you. It’s just like in the “good old days”. Mobs have a huge aggro range again (pretty sure this was also lowered over the years) and you have to be very careful. Accidentally pulling one more trash pack or patrol is usually a guaranteed death sentence.
Here are our armory profiles and the Wiki list with instances sorted by level. Also the current progress of the challenge as well as the list of previous blog posts. Enjoy!
Links and progress overview
Progress – Current Level: 37, 18*/26 Dungeons clear!
Ragefire Chasm (RFC) – Cleared at Level 20 (solo)
Deadmines (DM) – Cleared at Level 13 (boss is 16, +3)
Wailing Caverns (WC) – Cleared at Level 17 (boss is 20, +3)
Shadowfang Keep (SFK) – Cleared at Level 17 (boss is 21, +4)
Blackfathom Deeps (BFD) – Cleared at Level 20 (boss is 25, +5)
The Stockade – Cleared at Level 20 (boss is 25, +5)
Gnomeregan – Cleared at Level 22 (boss is 29, +7)
Scarlet Halls (SM) – Cleared at Level 25 (boss is 31, +5)*
Scarlet Monastery (SM) – Cleared at Level 25 (boss is 34, +9)**
Razorfen Kraul (RFK – Cleared at Level 30 (boss is 35, +5)***
Maraudon: The Wicked Grotto – Cleared at Level 28 (boss is 35, +7)
Maraudon: Foulspore Cavern – Cleared at Level 28 (boss is 37, +9)
Maraudon: Earth Song Falls – Cleared at Level 30 (boss is 39, +9)
Uldaman (Uld) – Cleared at Level 31 (boss is 40, +9)
Dire Maul: East (DM) – Cleared at Level 34 (boss is 41, +7)****
Scholomance (Scholo) – Cleared at Level 34 (boss is 43, +9)
Dire Maul: West (DM) – In Progress since 36 (boss is 44, +8)*****
Razorfen Downs (RFD) – Cleared at Level 35 (boss is 45, +10)
Dire Maul: North (DM) – In Progress since 34 (boss is 47)
Stratholme: Main Gate – In Progress since 37 (boss is 47)
Stratholme: Service Entrance – From 37 (boss is 51)
Zul’Farrak (ZF) – From 39
Blackrock Depths: Detention Block (BRD) – From 42
Temple of Atal’Hakkar (Sunken Temple, ST) – From 45
Blackrock Depths: Upper City (BRD) From 46
Lower Blackrock Spire (LBRS) From 48
Raids (all from 50, lol….?):
Molten Core (MC)
Blackwing Lair (BWL)
Ruins of Ahn’Qiraj (AQ20)
Temple of Ahn’Qiraj (AQ40)
*The first boss of Scarlet Halls is severely overtuned and we had to level ahead
**I also did a solo run at level 31. The boss is 31, but should be tuned for a 5 man group…not just me.
***The second boss of Razorfen Kraul is also highly overtuned. We started at level 25 and beat the first boss, who is 35 (+10!) but got stuck
****Cleared everything except Alzzin at +10, but the final boss is a monster, so we had to level up
*****There is an optional boss who could be seen as the real endboss. We can’t beat him yet and might not be able to do so for several more levels.
Part 1: Introduction 2016-01-25
Part 2: Scarlet Halls 2016-01-26
Part 3: Scarlet Monastery 2016-02-01
Part 4: Razorfen Kraul 2016-03-14
Part 5: Maraudon 2016-03-16
Part 6: Uldaman 2016-03-18
Part 7: Uldaman again 2016-03-29
Part 8: Dire Maul 2016-05-27
Part 9: Alzzin The Wildshaper Special 2016-06-07
Part 10: Scholomance 2016-06-13
Part 11: Razorfen Downs 2016-06-16
Part 12: Dire Maul: West 2016-06-23
Part 13: Dire Maul: North 2016-07-08
Part 14: Pre-Legion Roundup: North 2016-08-19