On the Seventh Day, Jayne(z) Quested
Wait… I already used that joke, didn’t I? Damn. Oh well… in lieu of a better one, you’ll just have to suck it up and like it!
When we’d last left our brave hero (Your Strudel), he had returned from killing many a vile NPC in the Blood Furnace and was chilling in Orgrimmar. However, everybody was over in Outland and Thrall was just mumbling to himself something about Mana Tide Totem, so he decided to get the hell out of Dodge-and go to a war-ravaged land where demons and crazy huge war machines roam the blasted landscape.
Because he’s just that hardcore.
Having earlier set my hearthstone to Thrallmar, I returned to the world on the other side of the Dark Portal. Previously, most of my time had been spent either exploring or doing dungeons-and even with the extension of the quest log to hold 25 tasks, it was becoming dangerously full. So, I decided that it’d be time to get some of these Hellfire Peninsula quests out of the way… after all, there couldn’t be all that many of them, right?
I decide to start by looking for this “Scout Makha” chick that the Orc commander keeps whining about. “She was one of our best sources of information that we could use against the impending Fel Orc attack, Jayne(z)!” “You have to go find her or we could all be wiped out, Jayne(z)!” What a crybaby, sheesh.
However, I haven’t been exploring for more than 5 minutes when I see in /gchat, “Hey, we need one more for Blood Furnace-we could use a Mage. Anybody interested?” I realize that I didn’t get all the screenshots of the Blood Furnace I’d wanted to get before, and I could use the Thrallmar Rep and XP. Plus, I do have another quest for there…
Sigh. The things I do for you people.
I party up with them, and we go right from the Hellfire into the Furnace. There was a joke in there somewhere, but I think I messed it up. Bah. So, we do our thing, kill some monsters, get the loot, do the quests. Y’know, the usual. When we prepare to fight the big ugly floating ball (Broggok, as you may remember)… well, we discover that having your Shaman disconnect and your Mage eat a few crits and go down like a sack of corn is generally a bad thing. We wipe, run back, kill ‘im. As we kill a few more mobs, I see and hear something I haven’t seen or heard in a very, very long time:
Fwaoooshbing! Or, if you prefer, Ding! But that’s so boring… 61! After being 60 since… oh, um… April of 2005, Jayne(z) has gained a level! Awesome possum!
After we finish the run and kill the final boss, I decide to actually look down through the grate on the floor. And what do I see but a big giant angry Pit Lord? Hi, Magtheridon! I’d been wondering where’d you’d been yakking it up from! I briefly wonder if this means that people would be able to watch others do the Magtheridon encounter from above, but dismiss it because that would be way too cool of them to implement in the game.
Well, the run is done, I’ve got some more cash in my pockets, a level under my belt, and I’m halfway to Honored with Thrallmar. NOW it’s time to quest.
I do some standard quests-kill X of X, bring me X Z items. You know, the regular. The camp blacksmith asks me to get some Wood and Metal left over from past battles on the long road through the middle of the zone, so I go. He neglected to mention that it’s currently inhabited by just shy of a million Fel Orcs. Still, nothing I-in my awesomely supreme coolness-can’t handle. While I’m here, I see a little outpost of Horde currently engaged in fighting the Demons. They give me a quest to kill some of the buggers to the north.
I oblige, and then get a second quest to bomb some demon portals… but honestly, I’ll do that one later. I finish collecting the wood and metal parts, and return to the blacksmith-who then asks me if I can go torch some old Alliance cannons that they’ve got aimed at our faces. Of course, I agree-not only am I not too fond of getting shot in the face by cannons, but setting things on fire is always a roaring good time! Why do you think I’m a Mage? 😛
Unfortunately, the cannons are invisible. Yes, invisible. They’re shadows on the ground with some debris occasionally around them to suggest “hey, there’s something here!” Oh, Beta testing. After bugging my guild for help for a while, I finally succeed in setting the cannons on fire. Good for me!
I decide to head to the Blood Elf station of Falcon Watch, and find that it’s a second major quest hub! The leader asks me to go kill some enemies in the big gorge to the south-nothing I’m opposed to. Another Elf lady asks if I can go track down her husband’s journal, as he perished while studying slimes. There’s a Forsaken apothecary with a captured Draenei, who wants me to go get some Demonic Essence to see if the poor creature will mutate into a Broken when exposed to it. Oh, those wacky Undead with their genocidal experimentations!
More of them ask me to do even more stuff… now I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed by quests. I must have completed 10 or 15 quests in Hellfire Peninsula so far… and I’ve still got around 20 in my quest log! It’s a good thing that there’s only the two quest hubs, I’ll tell you that!
It’s around now that a few guildies are talking about starting up a run of the Slave Pens. Er… this seems like a good time to go over the dungeons in The Burning Crusade. If you’ve looked at the map of Outland, you’ve probably seen this, but I’ll just reiterate it here.
Most of the dungeons in the expansion are like Scarlet Monastary / Dire Maul in the fact that they’re winged. However, pretty much each wing is its own fully-fledged dungeon, with unique boss encounters, quests… and they’re all pretty big, too. Hellfire Citadel has four wings: I’ve already been to the first two, Hellfire Ramparts and the Blood Furnace (which are both for level 60-61 players). The third wing, the Shattered Halls… well, I zoned in, saw the 69 Elites, and zoned right out. The fourth wing is, of course, the raid on Magtheridon.
To the east of Hellfire Peninsula lies Zangarmarsh, and in Zangarmarsh you have Coilfang Reservoir. The Slave Pens is the first wing of Coilfang, and it’s meant for players around 61-63. The Underbog, wing #2, is suited for players around 62-65. Like Hellfire Citadel, the third and fourth wings are for max-level characters, with the fourth wing being the battle against Lady Vashj.
There’s a third winged dungeon to the south in Terokkar Forest, called Auchindoun, but I haven’t even looked at that one yet. When I go, though, I’ll let you know 😛
As a big bad level 61, I deem myself ready for the Slave Pens. We get our group together, and I finally make my first foray out of Hellfire Peninsula. However, on the way out I notice a group of NPCs that refer to themselves as the Cenarion Expedition… and they’ve got some quests for me. Quest Hub #3. But no time to think about that! We have places to go, people to see (and kill)!
After the red/orange, blasted landscape of Hellfire Peninsula, Zangarmarsh is quite a change. It’s all blue and cool, a forest made entirely out of gigantic mushrooms. It’s a cross between Dustwallow Marsh and the Swamp of Sorrows, except where everything is blue and all the trees are ‘shrooms. Also, the water between all the little islands isn’t deep enough to dismount you, which is a very welcome change. There’s a place called Cenarion Refuge at the entrance (where the Expedition-ers came from) with quests… but that’s a Zangarmarsh quest hub, so it doesn’t count.
I make my way to the dungeon (underwater, and I’m quite thankful for the air pockets on the way,) but there are only four of us here! Our fifth is quite far away!
It’s here that I discover one of the coolest features in Burning Crusade, and one that makes Meeting Stones useful (particularly with the new LFG feature).
Meeting Stones can summon.
Yes, you heard me right-they SUMMON now. By targeting a group member and clicking on the stone, you open a portal that other party members can click on to get the summoned person there. This is going to make instancing hugely more convenient, I can tell you that.
With our party here, it’s time to enter!
The Slave Pens
No more than 30 seconds after we zone in, all of Outland crashes-everyone not in Azeroth or in an instance is kicked offline, and if they try to log back on will immediately be returned to character screen. Good timing on our part!
Unfortunately, one of our Druids is killed and decides to release and run back. Can you see the problem with that plan, boys and girls? He, of course, is kicked offline and can’t get back. So, we’re four-manning the place for a while, and doing pretty darn well.
We’re fighting your standard enemies for your typical underwater/Naga-themed zone. Crabs and Naga, for the most part-though the Naga have several slaves that accompany them. As we find out later, for some inexplicable reason those crazy Naga have decided to train some of their slaves to be powerful wizards and casters.
I’ll repeat: they trained their slaves to be extremely adept at using magic. And… none of them saw the stupidity there? To be fair, though, it doesn’t look like any of their Draenei slaves actually attempted to use the magic on their captors (even when a party of adventurers was bursting into the zone and killing them already), so maybe the Naga realized that the slaves weren’t the brightest of lightbulbs themselves.
We continue on, and snicker at the people who are unable to log on. However, that comes back to bite us when those yellow letters come up in the chat log: “Server Restart in 15:00.”
Sigh. Well, we’re almost at the first boss, so it’s time to hurry! On the way I discover that some of the Naga like to use Spell Reflection on themselves. I quickly learn that popping all my cooldowns when I see the little bubble around them is a Very Bad Thing to do.
7:00 left, and we’re ready to pull Mennu the Betrayer… a Broken Draenei who apparently sold his brethren out. Even though we’re really not allied with the Draenei at all, and the slaves have in fact been trying to kill us this entire time, we decide that it’s a good idea to kill him… as moral, just individuals, it is our responsibility. And he might drop something good, too. There’s that as well.
It turns out that he’s not quite as easy as we’d hoped. Apparently, this is one of the Draenei who’d gone all Shaman-y, and he’s rather fond of dropping totems. He’s got your standard heal totem, Stoneskin, Earthgrab-your normal mob totems. Then he drops a “Nova Totem,” which I target and Fireblast out of habit.
It explodes and does 2500 Fire damage to all of us. Whoops.
Though we’re all quite badass and have been doing this dungeon with only four people thus far, it turns out that a fifth would probably have been a good idea for the boss. We wipe… and since there’s only 2 minutes left before the restart, decide that we’ll just wait around until that happens, and do it again.
The server restarts, the instance has been reset. Our fifth-the Druid-has disappeared, so we get a Warlock and use the handy-dandy Meeting Stone to summon him. Time for the dungeon, take 2!
We kicked ass with four, so with five we blow through the place. The warlock in question has 41 points in Demonology, and his Felguard is a welcome addition to the party, even if his auto-Cleave has a tendency to break my Polymorph. Meh. You spank it, you tank it-not my problem anymore, Mr. Felguard!
With extra DPS (freeing our other Druid up to heal a bit) we kick Mennu’s betraying ass, and move on, killing Naga all the way. After a bit, we come face to face with Rokmar the Crackler, a GIANT ENEMY CRAB and Boss #2.
Mennu was pretty easy, once you got the hang of him. Likewise with the bosses in Hellfire Ramparts and the Blood Furnace. Rokmar, though? He’s on a whole different level. Without spoiling too much, I’ll say that he hits pretty hard, has an AoE Frostbolt volley, and puts a debuff on his target that bleeds for 900 every two seconds until that person is healed to full. We try it once, but dealing with that debuff is hugely draining on our healers, and Rokmar-unlike other GIANT ENEMY CRABS, with their convenient “weak points”-has massive amounts of HP. Our tank goes down, we try to kite but find the Frostbolt volley not too convenient in that regard.
Our healers decide to communicate more, though, and on the next attempt our tank is healed to full within seconds of getting the debuff. There’s one snag where I pull aggro-when the tank tells me to “cut loose,” I don’t think either of us expect six 1.9 second Fireball crits in a row-but other than that, he drops. It’s a hard fight that requires coordination with your healers, which might make it harder for PUGs to do it come release.
After Rokmar, we go on, kill some more guys, and face off with the third and final boss of the Slave Pens: Quagmirran, a GIANT ENEMY…um… GIANT. He’s got a brand-new model unique to Burning Crusade and certainly looks very cool.
Like Rokmar, he’s beastly. He doesn’t have the annoying DoT, but he does have a poison AoE volley that needs to be cleansed ASAP, and he hits like a freaking Mac truck on steroids. Our first attempt, we’re doing fine-healers at good mana, DPS is good, tank has fine aggro… and then the tank drops. And it’s very “WTF?!”
There’s a bit of a weird moment later when our Priest soulstones up and finds that, for whatever reason, Quagmirran decides that where we are (which was totally out of aggro range before) is now close enough for him to decide to kill us. Our Priest runs like hell, and Quagmirran follows. Thankfully, it turns out that for a big giant swamp-thing, he doesn’t swim well. Or, rather, he doesn’t swim at all, really… Quaggy evade bugs, our Priest comes back to res us, and we engage him again-and this time take him down.
Slave Pens done! Woot! We are t3h pwn4ge, to be sure.
Hey, um… that quest log is looking pretty full now. Maybe I should get some of those done. After all, there was that third quest hub with the Cenarion Expedition… most of the party has some of those quests, so we decide to get them all done together. Back to Hellfire Peninsula we go!
The quest in “quest”ion is an Elite task-apparently, there are several crystal Raging Colossi making the valley to the North their home. The Circle members agree that they need to go, though some of them have differing viewpoints on the matter. One asks me to get rid of their king and bring me his gems-which might convince the Colossi to scatter. The other just tells me to kill the buggers.
One might think that these quests were mutually exclusive to one another. Thankfully, they’re not!
All this talk about Colossi has me worried that the game will make me leap onto their back and make my way up to their head where I then stab them in a supernatural mystic symbol of weakness. But my fears are unfounded-like so many other things in the game, this particular problem is solved by stabbing them, shooting them, and lighting them on fire. Isn’t Azeroth great!?
We kill the elite giants and their king. I return the King’s Gems to the first Druid, conveniently leaving out the part of the story where I slaughtered all the rest of the Colossi to get to the King in the first place. That part I triumphantly relate to the second Druid, and they both reward me equally!
Isn’t Azeroth great!?
While in the area, I find a Fel Orc corpse-coincidentally enough, I had a quest to find this guy. Apparently, he is (or was, rather) an assassin out to ambush Horde convoys. But… somebody killed him, and for once it wasn’t me! To the Mystery Machine, gang!
And by the Mystery Machine, I mean Thrallmar (of course). The Orc leader is intrigued by this news-one of the primary reasons for the Horde’s presence in Outland was for Thrall’s desire to find more about the Orcish heritage. Could the axe signify the presence of… real Orcs?! Not the crazy big red ones, but the badass smaller ones that we know and love?
If you don’t think the answer is “yes,” you don’t play many videogames.
The commander sends me to Thrallmar’s shaman-lady, who gives me a Spirit Totem to place by the assassin’s body. I do so, and follow the spirit wolf that comes out into the mountains to the north… where there’s an encampment of Orcs of the Mag’har tribe.
I groan audibly, but Fate is merciful just this once. There’s only one quest here-the leader of the Mag’har tells me that he is suspicious of the tales he hears of the new Horde (namely, that they’ve chilled out and gone all shaman-y under Thrall’s leadership), but since he sensed the “spirit with me” ordered his people to not kill me on sight.
I’m fairly grateful, because getting killed sucks. He tells me to send a letter back to the Orc commander… which I do. All the arcane power in the universe and I’m a glorified delivery boy!
Apparently, though, the message is fairly important-the commander orders me to take this back to Orgrimmar and give it to Thrall himself at once! Sounds pretty important. I imagine this might be more annoying for other classes, but as a Mage I click my pretty “Teleport: Orgrimmar” button and return to Azeroth!
There’s a new Kalimdor loading screen featuring the Draenei, by the way. The Orcs and Trolls look pissed, the Tauren looks intoxicated, the Draenei looks… like a nicer Sarah Kerrigan, and the Night Elf looks like “Tee hee! I’m an ancient being thousands of years old! Let’s totally go to the mall!”
Back on subject…. I give the letter to my main man Thrall, who reads it over. There’s a pretty cool story scene that follows, where Thrall realizes that this is exactly what he’s been looking for! He must go to Outland at once! And so, the mighty Thrall prepares to cross the Dark Portal to the lands beyond…
…and then changes his mind once Eitrigg points out that there’s plenty to worry about on this side of the Portal. Lousy Eitrigg-that sounded like it was gonna be awesome, too 🙁 Thrall orders me to take a letter of his back to the Mag’har camp, and “offer them my services.”
Groan. I KNEW that was going to be a quest hub. Life is pain.
Despite the annoyingness of yet another quest hub, there’s some pretty cool storyline information for those of you who care about that sort of thing. Namely, the name “Hellscream” is dropped, and Thrall wonders if “he is anything like his father,” which sounds… rather interesting to me.
It’s about this time that-back in the real world-my roommates are setting up for a party, since it’s one of their birthdays. And so, the Mage They Call Jayne(z) decides to take a break from the questing and killing and looting to go do some old-fashioned drinking!
Some random thoughts… first of all, as you may have noticed, it’s very easy to suffer from “Quest Overload.” I’ve barely left Hellfire Peninsula, and I’ve found myself neck-high in quests most of the time. Every single time I thought I was nearing the end of the list, I’d come across yet another hub with five or six more to do. Honestly, having that sheer amount of content is great-it keeps you from running out of things to do-and I think that people will really appreciate it at release. As a Beta tester, though…? I’m trying to get through content as quickly as I can so I can text whatever comes next. I didn’t want to leave any of the HFP quests undone and be forced to come back for them, so I didn’t really want to leave to zones like Zangarmarsh until I was absolutely done with the Peninsula. So… it got a bit frustrating.
Both the Slave Pens and the Underbog (which I’ll relate in the next chapter) are a step above the two Hellfire Citadel instances. My group had very good gear but found that it was tough, even for us. It really does seem like Blizzard intends for people to gear up in Hellfire Peninsula (via quests and the Citadel dungeons) before taking on the next level. Perhaps they’ll be nerfed for retail, though I kind of hope not-it’s refreshing to have dungeons that are actually a little bit challenging!
When I came back… well, that’s for next time. I finish up with Hellfire Peninsula and its twenty-eight quest hubs (finally!), run the next Coilfang dungeon, hit 62-I’m a dungeon boss now!-and make my way to Shattrath City, the main world hub of Outland. Shattrath is seriously cool.
But, that’s a story for next time…