Damne’d B’elfs!


Belmann’s pursuit of the BC heroics has continued, with a rampage through The Botanica and The Arcatraz and on to Magister’s Terrace. If I can remember to synchronize screen shots across computers, I can even put up some holiday snapshots.

I’d never seen The Botanica or The Arcatraz on any ‘toons, and remember them being held is some awe as tough instances. I can see why, they both would be challenging at level without some care, and both would be fairly slow going.

For me The Botanica felt a bit dull. The physical layout of the instance is nice enough, and definitely feels like a real space devoted to some sort of arcane gardening. Having most of the bosses on side spurs off a long, almost circular, passage would allow groups at level to pick and choose their fights, and there is plenty of opportunity for clever crowd control and line-of-sight pulls. On the other hand, it still feels like filler content, because there is little variety in the mobs, and little variety in the bosses and their behaviours.

The Arcatraz was a suprise, and a delight, after the bread-and-butter of The Botanica. The pacing is much better, and there’s not the same sense of slogging through the same mob again and again. This really comes out of the theme that drove the design – The Arcatraz is a prison stocked with the worst and most horrible of beasties and things that go bump in the night, and as you progress deeper into it’s core, you progress into deeper levels of secure lockup, with more ferocious beasties.

The final boss fight in The Arcatraz would be gruelling at level, consisting of three mini bosses before the main boss, with very little time between them and a wide variety of attacks and abilities to deal with. Wrapped around it though is this great and funny side-play with an irate gnome mage, Millhouse Manastorm, who I’m sure I’ve seen somewhere before. Their’s a fair bit of subtle humour elsewhere in the instance before here too, particularly with the two bickering husband-and-wife demons – whichever one you attack first, the other stands back egging you on.

As an aside, I can see that the first boss fight would have been a pug and guild killer. There’s a large room, stocked with about 6 floating beholders with way too many eyes, and about 4 dog-things with even more eyes and tongues, and the boss standing in the corner. And a few low level mobs. The boss stays where he is, but the others patrol on several quite wide ranging paths, and you really, really need to clear them one at a time without pulling the boss. There’s a convenient corridor to do LOS pulls, and enough room to pull them one at a time into a corner to burn them down, but still it would require a group at level to cooperate and do the right thing every time. A misplaced AOE or a rampant pet would definitely have wiped the group.

Belmann rocked up and knocked on the door of Magister’s Terrace – and was refused entry. There’s a breadcrumb quest leading from Shattrath to Quel’Danas, and thence into the normal instance to pick up Kael’Thas’ head. But I couldn’t pick up the quest. I made the long slow trip back to Shattrath – nope, no quest. Back to Quel’Danas. No quest. Into the normal instance and up to the body that was supposed to give you the next step. No quest. I quit the instance and gave up for the night, scratching my head. Some google-fu hinted at the answer – Belmann had probably finished the first three steps of the quest at some point, without getting to the next step.

I do have some vague memory of going into MT years ago, but I really cannot remember any details. Still, it was worth trying, so I slogged in, past the body, and on to the easily-overlooked magic orb in the garden after the second boss. Clicked on the orb, watched the cut-scene (oooh, spooky fore-shadowing of daring deeds to be done in the Sunwell), and a blue dragon flew down to give me the next step in the quest, “Hard To Kill”. I continued on, found Kael’Thas, and carted his head back. And that gave me the Outland Dungeonmaster achievement, as expected. I turned around and went back to attempt the Heroic version, and found that Belmann could now get in. He flattened about half the instance at heroic level, and didn’t particularly notice much difference other than more purple drops, then gave up again for the night.

It struck me that there’s an awful lot of green and low level blue and purple items that designers spent a lot of time on – giving them names, doing the art, balancing the stats – that never, ever get equipped. They drop in these low-level instances and just get disenchanted, or flogged off to vendors. This is one of the odd features of modern MMOS I suspect – if they live long enough and go through expansions, it’s probable that old pockets of content live on in the servers, unvisited and unloved. All of which gives me a good reason to go and beat up Kael’Thas again, for old time’s sake.