Gnomesblight conquers The Nexus and Utgarde Keep

5th February 2009 – 10.42 am

In World of Warcraft my warrior, Sapphire, has been through The Nexus with a pick-up group (PuG) as well as going on a guild run of Utgarde Keep. My death knight, Gnomesblight, on the other hand, has yet to experience an instance in Northrend. With the guild's successful run through Utgarde Keep there is talk of a return to The Nexus, after an early attempt to get our Christmas hats saw us unprepared to tackle the instance at that time.

Having already completed The Nexus with Sapphire I grab Blighty away from eastern Northrend and take her to the other side of the continent to Coldarra. There I pick up the quests for The Nexus to give me the option of tanking the instance with Blighty instead, should I feel confident enough. As it turns out the guild run doesn't happen, with people's schedules conflicting, but running Gnomesblight around Coldarra reminds me how much fun the death knight can be, renewing my interest in the character.

Rather than continue where I left off, with solo questing, I want to see how the death knight copes in a Northrend instance, as well as how I cope playing one in a group. I throw myself upon the mercy of the looking for group (LFG) interface, offering myself as available either for The Nexus or Utgarde Keep. After a short while I get a random invitation to a group, without any precursory conversation. I discard my usual trepidation about receiving such an anti-social invitation and accept it. Perhaps I need to trust my instincts, because it isn't long before the group leader tells the rest of us to find a healer as he's going for food, after which he disconnects and isn't back for at least half-an-hour. The group fizzles.

Undeterred, I plonk myself back in the LFG channel and this time someone asks me first if I would like to tank in The Nexus before inviting me to a group once I cheerfully agree. Luckily, I have anticipated the option of tanking with my death knight and have kept hold of equipment high in stamina. I'm also fairly sure my frost talent spec is suitable for tanking. A quick change of gear and switching to frost presence, with its extra threat generation and increased armour, I am ready.

The run through The Nexus is fairly smooth overall. There are a few deaths, one wipe, and no arguments. It's quite good fun, in fact, as well as getting me about a third of a level's worth of experience. So much fun that I later go back to the LFG channel with the aim of taking Gnomesblight through Utgarde Keep. I eventually get in to a group for the instance, a group that already has a tanking warrior so I assume a high damage, or DPS, rôle.

To concentrate on DPS I keep all my +str and +crit gear equipped and ensure I am in my blood presence, offering extra damage to my abilities. As long as the mobs are hitting the tank I can concentrate on doing as much damage as possible whilst requiring little healing. I focus all my attacks on the main target and eschew area-of-effect (AoE) spells for the harder-hitting ones, only using AoE when talents proc or non-elite mobs are encountered. I am impressed with the amount of damage I generate, the damage meter showing my contribution being around 40% of the total damage of the group. And it is a good group, clearing Utgarde Keep with little fuss, few deaths, and no bickering, making it another fun instance run.

I am still greatly enjoying the death knight as a character, or at least as floating husk of armour and weapons. Even though Gnomesblight is capable as a tank the damage I generate as a DPS character is an exhilarating change and I am keen to find opportunities to repeat this experience. Sapphire can always fulfil the tank in me when required.

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