Thursday, November 13, 2008

Ekat discovers Karazhan and TBC Endgame

The eve before Northrend opens, and I log into the game to do enough questing in Nagrand to at least be level 68 and eligible for Northrend this weekend. Although I still have not received my mail and mooncloth, I'm sure Blizzard will work it out before I need it (or at least I hope so). I jump right into the first quest which is Muck-Covered Cores near Halaa. That was not too bad, and I then realized two more quests were right in the same valley, one to kill 50 ogres and another to save Corki again. I figure with about 70k xp left to obtain, that plus the quest turn-ins will ding me. Once I start working on the ogres, people in gchat begin to rumble about a "final" Kara run. It's floundering in getting together, but I keep offering to lay the heals if they will have me, and if they can wait for me. I diligently keep burning ogres down, and thankfully the respawn rate is high. Sure, I died once because of fast respawns, but with 2 other groups hunting ogres in the same cave and valley, it was good to have little wait time between mobs. After burning down enough ogres and releasing Corki, I told Shallimar I could come after turn-ins/repairs/etc, and so I was given a slot. I had just enough time to turn in quests across the zone of Nagrand, port through Shattrath back to Stormwind where I repaired the gear, cleared the bags (including putting a bunch of enchanting and tailoring mats in the bank), and trained at the Cathedral of Light. Right after adding my new spells, including the heal that bounces from raid member to raid member, I received the summon to Deadwind Pass and the Tower of Karazhan. The craziness was about to begin, and a little good, bad, and ugly at the end to summarize is in order.

Three of you know Karazhan very well, but I had no idea what to expect. I knew it had a ton of bosses, but I still underestimated the sheer size of the castle. As it turns out, our group of 10 could only come up with me, a 68 Holy Priest, on main heals and Yannosh (yeah the dry-humper level 69 tankadin) on backup heals. We had 1-2 other non-70's involved throughout the night, but I was the only 68 and our tanks were 70 obviously. We also had 3-4 Paladins throughout the run with no Warriors, which made for a lot of mana bars and not as much pressure on my healing ability to an extent. We enter the front door of Kara, and walk towards the stables. A few trash mobs were here, and we needed those to figure out the team dynamic. Both of our tanks were non-Illuminati, but the run had 6 Illuminati members throughout most of it. The pally tank (Hymn) and the second tank (Tree). It seemed the tanks switched off main tanking each pull to keep things moving initially, and I was able to heal fairly well. We finally approached the first boss, Attumen the Huntsman. He rides on a glorious steed which of course means you get to fight them both. I believe the horse has AOE damage in his front arc, so the tanks tried to herd everybody else to the rear of the horse for whacking on the boss. This boss fight was never in jeopardy, but my mana bar did get low and there were some issues getting the team to work together properly. Better to figure that out early I suppose. With one boss downed, we moved along.

Now you go up the steps at the entrance to the castle and into the Grand Ballrooms. There are plenty of ghostly guests and waiters just lingering around dancing and having a grand old time. We did have a partial wipe at one point when two large groups of party guests were pulled at the same time, I believe by Zaonera (but nobody's pointing fingers until later). Overseeing all the festivities is the second boss Moroes. He is a tall gangly looking fellow who needs to eat some Wheaties, as the nerf came down hard on him. As the battle wore on, we lost a tank Hymn, but Tree stepped in and did a fabulous job. Yannosh was very helpful at backup healing when my mana got low as well. Moroes was not a huge problem, although we did need to rez half the team by the end of the battle with him and his cronies. We cleared out what remaining party guests we needed to, checked to verify that the Guitar (Arcanite Ripper) boss was no longer in the instance, and moved up into some higher hallways. Again, many more trash mobs needed taken down on the road to the next boss. The boss in the Guest Quarters is the Maiden of Virtue. She is a massive chic with anger management issues. With the dps at full range and the tanks in the middle of the room, the Maiden was taken down without much fanfare. Things were going well, and we continued moving through the castle to the famed Opera House.

I did not know until after our first attempt that the Opera House could show you any one of three boss encounters. One is based on the the Big Bad Wolf, one on Wizard of Oz, and one on Romeo and Juliet. That's actually a pretty cool twist to the Opera Event. We were unlucky from what I hear, and we pull the tricky Romeo and Juliet event. The battle has three phases, with Juliet first, then Romeo, then the both of them at the same time. Having flashbacks to the Molten Core Corehounds, these bosses need killed within 10 seconds of each other in Phase III or they regenerate and almost assuredly cause a wipe because the healers and dps'ers will be low on mana by then. With Phase III, you also have the problem of Juliet dropping heals all over the place, so the first attempt was an easy wipe in Phase III as we just were not prepared to take them out. After a rez run highlighted by my accidental stepping into the audience hall of the Opera House (where about 50 level 70 ghosts watch your boss battle and gladly take you out if you step in their area) and another rez run for me, we got the party together with a strategy for doing these bosses. We were putting the rogues on Juliet to interrupt her healing spells and most of the other dps on Romeo, splitting the tanks on opposite sides of the room and leaving Yannosh and myself to overlook the battle. Things did not go well, as the beginning of Phase III was highlighted by me pulling aggro right as Romeo respawned with an ill-timed heal on Hymn. Even with bubble and spam heals, I could not prevent myself from dying. They put up a fight, but the bosses were way too much for the team without the main healer.

At this point we lost one member of the team and had a repair bot made so that we could all recover the damage. I had a bill of almost 10g, ouch by my standards. While we try to fill the spot, Tree starts belittling the Illumnati and saying we'll never make it past Curator let alone the Prince the way we are doing this. At which point some guildies start defending themselves by informing Tree that we have cleared Kara fully numerous times now and we will prevail tonight. He continues bitching about how a main healer with 5000 mana in the bar is worthless and they will not make it. I could not let it pass, so I defended myself in raid chat by letting him know, yeah this is my first kara run and I'm doing the best I can. I got a ton of whispers from guildies at this point encouraging me and saying that I was doing very outstanding considering the circumstances I was thrust into. Of course Tree drops from the group shortly thereafter, and we have to beg for a tank replacement for like 15-20 minutes. Vowain was going to help, but he got caught up in something. Our tank Hymn found a much better geared tank Xero to fill the gap and be the new main tank. With that, it was on to round 3. With the new team members in place and everyone fully repaired, the strategy worked beautifully this time around. Juliet was taken down in Phase III first due to her healing ability, but we downed Romeo in about 6 seconds thereafter and ended the Opera Event.

After a legendary battle, we exited the castle and went around to the back entrance, which saves us some trash pulls I hear. We cleared the Broken Stair of some spirits and made our way to the Menagerie. The Menagerie is the home of The Curator, the next big boss. He has some blue spirits in the area who have addon mobs which focus in on casters. The first three groups of these we pulled led to me dying each and every time as I crit-healed the tank and pulled aggro. The group was definitely giggling about my poor luck, and it was all in good fun as we had 4 paladins there to rez me at will. We go through maybe a half hour of bumps and bruises clearing out these trash mobs and mostly just refilling spots that had opened up in the raid. Again, we kept about 5 Illuminati in at all times and Stonesnake joined us (who I respect because he seems to be quite good). Furthermore, we finally found another healer who was a 70 paladin (Dingchavez) dedicated to healing from the looks of it. After a delay that pushed us past midnight, we finally go in to take out the Curator. This mechanical fiend brings his own additional mobs to the party, but I took most of the fight off learning how to be an off healer in Kara. Dingchavez was way on top of the tank life bars, so outside the HoT's, I really was relatively inactive. I saved a couple of other players as well, and I think we only lost 1 out of 10 in taking down the Curator. Not too shabby at all. Oh and this may make Bruce feel I look at the drops off the Curator and there are these gloves that say Priest/Warrior/Druid. I ask what those are, which leads to a couple rofl and Yannosh yelling at me in whisper to ROLL ON THAT! It turns out with all the pallys that it came down to me and Shishioh, who had just joined us. I win the roll in honor of Dave Bruce, and only then do Stonesnake and Yannosh tell me that those are traded in for Tier 4 gloves. OH MY GOSH! Epic win literally.

At this point it is getting late, but we decide to give it one last push to see how successful we can be. We enter the Guardian's Library and start taking out some nasty mobs that like to explode if the rogues are not interrupting them when they die. We almost wiped once, but we held steady and cleared the way to The Repository downstairs. The boss here is Terestian Illhoof, who has a little demon friend with him who is just as dangerous as he is. At one point in this boss battle, I am informed that one of the party members will be randomly captured in chains at the center of the room, at which point we must focus fire on the chains or else that party member automatically dies. Take a random guess who that would be when it happened...that's right, the main healer Dingchavez. We are not able to save him, so I immediately drop into main healer mode again. It actually goes fairly well from there on out, as I'm not hurting for mana really and we clear the room easily. These boss battles are truly legendary though, compared to the nerfed BC instance content I've experienced, where only the end boss of Underbog is really all that threatening. At one point earlier an epic Mace was given to me by Yannosh even though he won it because it's a bigger upgrade for me (the staff/mace switcheroo continues). At this boss I showed off my ridiculous rolls yet again, accidentally rolling on a tank cloak instead of the cloth item I meant to roll on. I beat Yannosh 96-15 and was able to "return" the favor by letting him have the tank cloak. I did win the cloth belt as well, and we moved on.

At this point it was time for another non-Illuminati to get bitchy I guess, as Dingchavez starts whispering to me "do you even heal?" I ask for his meaning and he says that he never seems to see me drop a heal. I took a little offense but let him know that he should've paid attention to the fact that I've main healed the entire castle except for Curator to this point and we've gotten by, but I was also adjusting to the secondary role in the Curator fight. He does not make any more of an issue of it, but still a jerkwad. We move up to the next boss the Shade of Aran. This is one I heard a lot about because it is incredibly easy to have epic fail on this fight. Basically the boss is in a circular room and has three main abilities, one where you have to run around the middle of the room to avoid ice, one where you have to run to the edges of the room to miss nasty AOE, and flame wreath which kills you if you so much as move a muscle during it. Very much like the hokey-pokey it seems. We make it through the first cycle of three abilities without much fanfare, perhaps losing one person on the AOE. Then it got tricky and I was not as on top of my game, getting caught by the ice which wasn't a huge deal and twitching at the wrong time right at flame wreath went off the second time. Needless to say, that burned me down and I think a couple others had issues around then too as we ended up wiping. At this point the main healer drops from the raid and we're starting to fall apart. The 7 of us left after the carnage are convinced by Xero that we can take the "easy" Chess Event before calling it over.

After a long run through the Library to Gamesman's Hall, we approach the massive chessboard that looks like it dropped straight out of the Harry Potter movie. A cool setup with Alliance and Horde personalities on the two sides. The first run I end up on a healer/bishop and nobody explained to me the point so I'm just dropping heals on random things and getting burned when the boss cheats, etc. We end up losing, but this boss battle just resets quickly without a rez run. We actually fail again with me on foot soldier, but that one I think was because we had a quick lag hiccup and miscommunication. Most of us are ready to quit, but the 5 of us that stay give it one more go. Just like the Opera Event, this one is carefully planned to make the third time a charm. We take the king and lay two healers on him and the other king, making it basically a 3 on 1 event while the other two dealt with the rest of the game. That strategy worked perfectly, and the Chess Event was taken down as easily as advertised once we newer people had the right directions. For the first time all night, no cloth item drops but we pick up more badges and after a ridiculous 5-hour run, call it a night.


I not only pulled half the epics that dropped last night, I got my first piece of Tier 4 gear! List below for convenience of my Ding 70 gear.
I got to experience endgame before the target moved with WOTLK.
I feel like I've taken my place officially in the guild as a solid healer, as I got tons of compliments from guildies throughout the night.

Main healing most of Kara at 68 = rough times.
The repair bills ended up being about 20 gold, but I'm sure I more than made up for it with epic drops (which was the running joke as the night went along).
A five hour run that did not end up with a full clear, missing out on Shade of Aran, Netherspite, and most importantly, Prince Malchezaar.

Getting bashed in raid chat by Tree the tank and in whispers by our temproary main healer Dingchavez.
Probably being a primary cause of the second Opera Event wipe and a big part of the Aran wipe.

So while I will love to run Kara again sometime, hopefully the next time it will not be as legit of a run and we'll all be a little higher level. I want to experience it fully like Molten Core, but this run will always hold a dear place in my heart as an accomplishment. I main healed Kara at 68! Now, to Northrend with haste!