Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Azh's WoW Adventures: Karazhan

My guild is pretty casual overall. And relatively small. So while we do a lot of 5-mans and PvP and other various events, we haven't experienced any of the Outlands raid content until we hit Zul'aman a week ago. We went to Zul'aman mainly because it didn't have any prerequisites for entry. We knew that Karazhan was officially the entry-level raid instance, but making sure that everyone did the 12-step quest that involves no less than three 5-man instances to get their key (which for some unknown reason, everyone needs), had been problematic.

However, we were emboldened by the turnout and tenacity displayed in our Zul'aman trip, so we got things together, ran those without keys through the required instances and made plans for a journey into Karazhan.

I've read a little about Karazhan, and I had stepped inside previously just to take a look, but we were basically walking into this adventure blind, which is really a lot more fun. I knew that Attumen was in the stables and that he appeared with his horse, and I also knew that a less-powerful boss-type creature lay in the cellars, but beyond that, it was new for everyone involved.

Unfortunately, there were only eight of us. We had a couple of friends of the guild who expressed interest in joining us, but I really wanted to do an all-guild run for the first time through. So we stuck with what we had. Our group consisted of two arms warriors, one restoration shaman, one holy/discipline priest, one beastmaster hunter, one rogue and two warlocks.

Both of the warriors were functioning as tanks (without a respec). Since pretty much everything we encountered was a ghost or a creature, our crowd control was limited to the priest's Shackle spell and the hunter's Ice Trap.

We decided to head into the stables first. The horses and the stablehands proved to be pretty easy to tackle. Shackle, trap and tank the others. We even had a point where we pulled the patrol along with the static mobs and still emerged victorious. The only tricky part was having the Chargers charge and fear the healers. But that didn't seem to really cause too much trouble.

When we got to Midnight, the plan was for the other warrior to take her and I would grab Attumen when he appeared. We would try and damage them both equally so that when Attumen hopped on Midnight, he would hopefully be almost dead. This didn't work out so well. We just weren't able to damage them quickly enough. Also, I hadn't realized that Attumen had an aura that decreases hit chance, so we were keeping them grouped near each other, which likely decreased our damage output quite a bit.

Lesson One: Keep Attumen away from the rest of the raid.

Wipe, soulstone, ressurect and we're ready to try again. A couple of party members had already run back in the front door and discovered that the spectral horses were respawning. No problem, we simply summoned them over and prepared to engage again. As soon as Midnight entered combat, ALL of the other horses ran over to help. Needless to say, it was a quick death for us all.

Lesson Two: The stables need to be clear before engaging Midnight.

Humbled and more experienced, we ran back and decided to check out the cellars. The creatures here consisted of spiders who would spawn spiderlings and large numbers of bats. These were all defeated easily and we came to what was looking like a dead-end in the back of the cellars. I was wondering where the boss was as I pulled the final group, and almost immediately found myself near death! Luckily, the other warrior was on the ball and grabbed the attention of Rokad the Ravager, who was with this final pull. He looked just like his demon-dog companions so I hadn't even noticed he was there! After recovering from that near fiasco, we easily defeated him and found some bracers for our enchanter to melt.

Having passed a narrow staircase on the way to the back of the cellars, we returned to it and made our way upstairs to the marbles halls filled with ghostly citizens. Took out a couple of the groups in the hallway then turned right into a large open space. The large groups of ghostly citizens weren't too tough, there were just lots of them to control. One of our warlocks seemed to draw a lot of aggro and went down a couple of times.

Then we hit the Skeletal Ushers who wiped us a couple of times. Their immunity to taunt was an unexpected discovery that led to one wipe, and then another as we accidentally pulled a patrol and had three of the Ushers on us at once! But once we figured that out, defeating them was easy enough and we cleared the entire room in front of the opera stage. We then talked to the organ player but nothing seemed to happen. Someone in our group pointed out that there was a passage behind the stage, so in we went right into a large number of ghostly actors. We were approaching the two hour mark at this point and one of our warlocks had to leave. But luckily we had another shaman login so we decided to make another attempt at Attumen.

Since we now knew about that Midnight would call for help if there were any other horses around, we really only had one shot before the respawns would start. We cleared the stables easily and quickly enough and then faced our nemesis. The plan this time was for me to keep Attumen occupied while the other warrior would keep Midnight focused on him and everyone would work on bringing the horse down. This has to be done carefully as both Midnight and Attumen are immune to Taunt. Things went pretty well, though slowly, since we were still short two players. Attumen mounted his horse and the second phase began. The other warrior ended up being the one grabbing aggro and seemed to be doing an excellent job of keeping his attention so I pulled out my two-hander and switched to fury stance. I was still wearing my tanking gear, so my damage was greatly reduced, but it was still a significant improvement. This phase also went slowly, and I was starting to get worried near the end that we would have respawns before we were done. But luckily, that didn't happen, Attumen fell and we searched his corpse to find a piece of paladin plate armor (no paladins with us) and leather gloves that our rogue didn't want! Alas, our enchanter had been the one who had to leave earlier so were left with taking the items to sell for a small pittance of gold. But we did all get two Badges of Justice (one from Attumen and one from Rokad, though somehow our rogue manged to get three total!) and enough Violet Eye reputation to get the first version of the Violet Eye rings.

All in all it was a fun and educational trip. I had no idea how big the place was. For some reason I thought it was a lot smaller but we have obviously only seen the very beginning of this instance. But our success with a short-handed raid was inspiring and gives us hope for further progression.

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