Thursday, March 31, 2011

Zul'Farrak - Level 49: Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Zul'Farrak is a walled troll city nestled along the northern mountains of Tanaris.  It is an outdoor instance, which means that players are allowed to use mounts in it.  The adversaries here are hostile sand trolls, who have taken an expedition of explorers hostage at the massive pyramid in the city's center.  

 There are only two bosses that are mandatory to 'complete' the instance and get the achievement, but there are a number of optional bosses that most groups choose to down for gear upgrades.  One of them is a witch doctor, who animates the corpses of the graves that surround him to aid him in his fight against you...
...and another summons waves of his pet basilisks to defend him.  
When you reach the massive pyramid, you confront the jailer at the top, and free the imprisoned expedition members.  Doing so triggers an event where one hundred trolls gather at the pyramid's base and storm up the stairs to fight you.  Once you fight your way through, their leaders show up and you can finish them off.  Once you do, one of the expedition members blows up the door leading to the instance's final boss.  An old quest used to have you ask another expedition member to return something he had borrowed from someone in Gadgetzan.  Doing so made him so angry that he and the rest of the expedition would attack you, meaning that you HAD TO SLAUGHTER THE PEOPLE YOU HAD JUST RESCUED.  
Behind the blown-out gates you find the instance's unofficial boss, Chief Sandscalp, who fights you with his right-hand man
...but further into the zone is a mysterious pool with a gong next to it.  Ringing the gong summons a giant lizard, Gahz'Rilla, who you can kill for additional loot.  

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tanaris - Level 48: Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Directly south of Thousand Needles lies the expansive desert of Tanaris.  As players come down the mountain path from the north, they find the goblin city of Gadgetzan awaiting them.  

This is the main hub for adventurers in this zone, although Tanaris had no shortage of places for players to explore.  Steamwheedle Port lay on the eastern shore of the zone... 

while further down the coast, the Lost Rigger Cove hid a fleet of pirate ships and their crew, who were surely up to no good.  

Ogres have claimed many of the troll ruins that lay throughout the desert...
but they do not dare venture into the walled city of the trolls, Zul'Farrak. 

Near the center of the desert lie the enigmatic Caverns of Time.   

It is here that a race of dragons known as the Bronze Dragonflight dispatch adventurers to key periods of history, in order to protect the existing timeline from a mysterious sect of evil saboteurs known as the Infinite Dragonflight.     
As of right now, players can travel to four unique periods of Azeroth's history and experience the events that happened first-hand.     

In the southern part of the desert, mysterious hives have begun appearing to corrupt the landscape, and swarms of violent giant insects known as the Silithid have begun to teem out of the ground.  
In the south, the gates to the Land of the Titans, Uldum, had remained undisturbed for countless years, but the Cataclysm brought many changes to Tanaris.    


The ocean flooded and swept away Steamwheedle Port, and finally stopped just outside of Gadzetzan, turning the former desert city into oceanfront property.  

The violent tearing of the world also shattered the gates to Uldum, and rumors of the riches available in the Land of the Titans have attracted treasure hunters from all corners of the globe...but we aren't strong enough to enter just yet.  

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Follow Me (on Twitter) to Freedom

I recently got an email from someone wondering if it was possible to set up a Twitter account to keep up with my daily progress.  Sounds very possible!  Please follow me on Twitter at leveldownblog.

Level 47: Monday, March 28, 2011

Located just south of The Barrens, Thousand Needles is a large canyon, punctuated by countless mesas that rise out of the canyon floor to dizzying heights.  It was a level 25-35 zone at launch, but has since been retooled for players in their mid-40's.  Previously, the only way into the canyon from the Barrens was to ride an elevator contraption named The Great Lift.  If a player accidentally moved while riding, or encountered a lag spike while getting on or off, the results could be disastrous.  

The canyon floor was overrun by hostile centaurs, who had driven the original Tauren residents to seek shelter on the elevated mesas.  The Tauren constructed a network of rope bridges that link the mesas, so as not to risk trouble by travelling on the ground. 

Eventually, the canyon mouth opened onto a large, desolate expanse called the Shimmering Flats, which had previously been a lakebed.  

The wide open space provided the resident gnomes and goblins an opportunity to hold their high-speed rocket car races at the Mirage Raceway.

However, Deathwing's emergence from underground had some disastrous consequences for the residents of Thousand Needles.   A large flood filled the canyon completely, and turned the Shimmering Flats into a large lake.  
The Great Lift was destroyed, and the numerous Centaur clans were wiped out.  
 Never ones to give up on a chance for profit, the gnomes and goblins retooled their racing enterprise, and shifted the vehicles from rocket cars to speedboats.   Some pirates have also entered the southeastern portion of the zone.  

Monday, March 28, 2011

Level 46: Sunday, March 27, 2011

Stratholme used to be one enormous dungeon with two sides, and players could choose to do one, or both of the sides, without leaving the instance.  Now, however, the two sides have been divided into separate instances, and you can no longer reach one side from the other.  The first side, which used to be nicknamed "Live Strat", used to deal with the Scarlet Crusade's stronghold in the damned city, and your group unmasking the treachery within the organization. 
In the former version of the instance, you fought through the streets of Stratholme, still burning from Arthas' rampage, and arrived at the Scarlet Crusade stronghold, which was under attack from Scourge forces.    

Your group fought its way through the hallways of the stronghold, until you arrived at the throne room to confront the leader of the Scarlet Crusade, Saidan Dathrohan.   

After a brief fight, Dathrohan can keep his secret no longer, and transforms into Balnazzar, a Pit Lord of the Burning Legion, the Demonic group that first introduced the Scourge to Azeroth.  Balnazzar reveals that from the beginning, the Scarlet Crusade had been secretly led by the creators of the very threat they were trying to defeat.  
In the current version of the instance, Balnazzar has foregone the charade, and appears as the Pit Lord that he really is.  He has reanimated the corpses of the fallen Scarlet Crusade forces, which explains why all of their remnants in the Plaguelands are undead.

Meanwhile, in the Undead Side, you begin in an open plaza of the burning city, which is swarming with Scourge.  You need to make your way around the streets and destroy three mini-bosses and the ziggurats that they guard that are powering the defenses of the slaughterhouse, where the final boss is waiting.    
Once you have access to the Slaughterhouse Square, you need to deal with one of the Baron's abominations before getting inside.  

The final boss is Baron Rivendare, who is one of the Lich King's chosen Death Knights.  The current in-game version has changed, as the original can now be found in the first raid zone of the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, but the fight has remained the same, and there is still a small chance that the boss will drop the reins to his skeletal horse, which players can use to ride one of the game's most coveted mounts.