North then west in Dire Maul

16th February 2010 – 5.33 pm

I don't think I've mentioned recently how much I like Livya. My feelings are entirely independent of her giving me the rather shiny bracers of valour, of course. And what a coincidence that it happens during the Love is in the Air non-Valentine's festival of 99% cocoa bitterness. It's not just personal bitterness affecting me, the forced, achievement-based faux-love that is being sprayed any way I turn makes me feel I am in a massively multiplayer bukkake game. It is a good time to disappear in to the high wilderness of Feralas, where the Filesystem Checkwits are going back to Dire Maul. As we are returning to the north wing I can even pretend to be an ogre, like I need a suit to help me.

I travel south, to take the ship from Booty Bay across the sea again. I am quite hoping not to bump in to the same gnome as before, because as well as giving me some new bracers Livya also enchants my chest armour, at which point I discover it is still only mail armour. I really should learn to play and get some plate armour. But the vastly inflated auction house economy and my new-found apathy to running around mining ore means I am relying on drops for now. I can wait a little longer. Travelling to Feathermoon Stronghold and on to Dire Maul is simple, if quiet. And once at the inner courtyard I see Mushgog, an elemental boss, lurching around the arena. Just as we defeat the Razza last week, we drop down and grab the loot off Mushgog after a quick fight, pausing only to collect all the herbs sprouting from the arena floor before heading to the dungeon proper.

'Watch out for dogs', Livya warns us inside Dire Maul, remembering the old days of wandering patrols of pack animals causing problems when fighting the ogres of the north wing. It's not difficult to remember the 'old days' of last week, I suppose, but it remains good advice. Sadly, we pay too much attention to the dogs and get punched in to the grass by ogres instead. No one mentioned the ogres. Getting up and brushing ourselves off, we get past the ogres and near the entrance to the inner sanctum. The ogre guard is wandering off to the west, which allows me to grab the key in his chest simply again, but a different ogre has noticed Qattara running past and starts hitting on her. Thus follows this week's farce of the Filesystems Checkwits.

We don't manage to rescue Qattara in time to prevent her untimely demise, but we return the compliment to the ogres, Vulzerda picking up on the healing. With the ogres dead, I resurrect Qattara. Whilst casting the spell I notice that Livya has used lifetap to regain mana, dropping her health to almost nothing. When Qattara pops back to life I start casting a heal on Livya, which takes all of a couple of seconds. But the exact moment the spell is due to complete another ogre appears from behind and stomps one big foot on Livya's head, one-shotting her in to a greasy stain on the pavement. We're back in combat, missing our warlock this time, but the lone ogre doesn't pose any more problems.

Restoring Livya to life makes us a full party again, just in time for another ogre add to keep us on our toes. That looks like the end of the wandering ogres, thankfully. Well, except the boss, who joins in the next fight we pick, and down we go again. A full wipe this time. Qattara has an unfamiliar message appear, something about using a 'soulstone', whatever that is, and to her surprise she pops back to life where she fell. If she had more experience of these soulstones Qattara may not have used it right at the moment an ogre and his puppy pets were walking past. But she's a quick thinker and uses her elven shadowmeld ability to avoid detection! Except they have spotted her already, and although they try to pretend they hadn't their strong sense of morals leads them to continue the attack, killing the lone druid.

We're not quite dead yet. Vulzerda can reincarnate herself and then resurrect the rest of us, which she does. We take a rest to regain health and mana, and to buff, when naturally an ogre walks up a nearby ramp and pounds our shaman saviour in to a pulp. The rest of us enact our revenge on the ogre and resurrect Vulzerda. Livya surveys the area, 'I think the area is secured'. I'm not sure why I'm reminded of Riddick's 'looks clear' comment, but this has to be one of the Filesystem Checkwits' most defining moments. And we haven't even made it inside the main building yet, which was where we only started to encounter problems the last time we were here.

Getting inside the building, finally, we press on through the ogre warlocks and their doomguard chums. Guard Slip'kik is quickly despatched and we are at the goblin again, where I ask him to make me an ogre suit. I was prepared earlier and ensured we had the materials needed to make the suit before flying to Feralas, in case we wanted to make a tribute run. Before we get much further I get Livya's imp to make a few of the pulls. I don't think it helps us at all for the imp to pull mobs, but he has been so keen to show his combat prowess before, fighting trolls in Zul'Farrak and drakes in Sunken Temple solo, that I want to show his efforts have not gone unnoticed. The imp is only too keen to tackle elite mobs two levels above him, although we run in to help before too long.

There is just one guard left before the ogre king of Dire Maul, and I slip in to something much less comfortable. The ogre suit fits, but apparently chafes around the buttocks, a curious squeaking noise being heard whenever I start running. The final guard is fooled and he runs off like an embarrassed schoolgirl, leaving us to kill the king and take his place. His advisor is spared, so that we can be proclaimed the new kings of Dire Maul, and the tribute run is complete! Of course, anyone who actually remembers how the tribute run works, beyond doing it a single time in a group four years ago, will realise that killing the guards on the way in is a mistake. The tribute we gather is based on the number of guards left alive, and they can all be bypassed in some way if the group is careful enough. Instead, we have ploughed our way through them as normal, leaving us with a meagre reward. But it's okay, any loot will likely be replaced by Outlands gear soon enough, and the sole guard we leave alive offers us a quest for our troubles. We need to recover an item found in the west wing of Dire Maul. We still have time, we can do that.

I have run Dire Maul West more times than the east wing. Even though it has been years since I regularly came here, I can remember it like the back of my hand. Just heading in to the entrance brings back memories, even if the wandering trees seem smaller now. We dash between the patrols and clear the mana aberrations from the first tower, disrupting it. There are four more towers to disrupt before the shield around the penultimate boss is dropped, and we are already making good progress. In fact, this seems to be going quicker than it ever did, and we are still a couple of levels below the old cap. I know that the dungeons have been weakened a little, but I expected to have to clear more of the mobs to prevent unwanted body pulls. But it doesn't matter, as long as we experience the dungeon itself. And we have made it to Tendris Warpwood, a huge tree elemental boss and old target for the paladin epic mount quest, before chargers were handed out freely at 40th level.

The reason for clearing the trees in the courtyard becomes evident when we engage the first boss. Vulzerda gets caught from behind, believing a patrol has aggroed on her, but it turns out that Warpwood calls all the trees to his aid if attacked, and a horde of elementals storms from the courtyard down the ramp in a vivid reenactment of the destruction of Isengard. One corpse run later and we have a new plan: get the trees. 'There's a big one down there', says Vulzerda, pointing at Tendris Warpwood, 'let's get him'. We work our way around the courtyard first before attacking Warpwood again, but we still apparently miss a couple who then join in the main fray. The elementals are all defeated, with some help from Livya's controlling spells, and we are ready to press on. The door behind Warpwood leads further in to the instance, but first we must backtrack to find other pylons and another quest.

At the top of the ramp, my unerring accuracy in guiding us sends the party to the right. Then back left. But I certainly remember to ask the warlock to cast a spell on us so we can see the annoying invisible ghost patrols. In a way it's a shame that Dire Maul is almost designed for warlocks, as it highlights how rarely used their utility spells are almost everywhere else. As a paladin, I'm quite enjoying this undead-infested section too, with all of my spells being useful. It doesn't take long to destroy the undead on the way to a boss who apparently doesn't exist any more, his little corner of the room being vacant. Oh well, back around to the other side we go. After the little disorientation previously I am now firmly back on track, running the familiar route I did years ago.

The next pylon is disrupted easily enough. Moving up past some skeletons we get to an elf offering a quest to disrupt the pylons. Okay, we can do that. The next pylon is only a stone's throw away too. If only we could get past the next group of skeletons without some weird effect pulling all of the aberrations around the pylon at the same time, causing another guild moment. The fight against overwhelming odds goes badly, and isn't helped when I eagerly accept the druid's battle resurrection, failing to notice that everyone else is dead. Qattara herself does a backflip to the ground moments after finishing her spell. The obvious course of action is to accept my fate and let Vulzerda reincarnate herself and resurrect the party. So I naturally jump off the ledge to try to escape, somehow forgetting that mobs in dungeons never break away from combat until all targets are killed.

My bravado is in full gear, and I cast my buff spells and run back to see how many of just about all the remaining aberrations I can defeat solo, and get righteously ripped to shreds in seconds when the mobs meet me half-way. Dropping out of combat, Vulzerda reincarnates, pointing out that having to come and get me will take almost as long as a corpse run. But she also forgets that the mobs are now running back to their station, with Vulzerda in their path. Seeing them coming, she too jumps off the ledge, whilst perilously low on health, luckily surviving and not getting in to combat with the returning mobs. The good news is that now my corpse is on the way back to where the others are, but it doesn't change the fact that I made the situation much more convoluted than it needed to be. At least the pylon is cleared more smoothly once we are all again alive.

The hunter boss and pet are encountered and defeated, and our path takes us back to the door behind Warpwood, leading to the main chamber where Immol'thar awaits. The three-headed demon dog is still shielded, two more pylons needing to be disrupted, but that is easily achieved. The shield drops and Immol'thar now released chomps on his elven captors, such a good doggie. This time it isn't a problem when we bypass the patrols encircling the boss's chamber, as they don't join in the fight. Despite recalling Immol'thar having all kinds of challenging powers to overcome, he is taken down quickly and without fuss. As I do, Livya has her dreadsteed epic mount already, so doesn't need to set up a summoning ritual which would occur with Immol'thar out of the way. Instead, we can run in to the library where we face the prince, the final boss of the dungeon, even though we all get the achievement for clearing Dire Maul after vanquishing Immol'thar.

Prince Tortheldrin also had some devastating attacks, hitting very hard and pushing characters backwards with huge force. As with other bosses, he now seems quite simple to defeat and we are able to collect from a nearby chest the item the ogre guard in the north wing asks of us. We also get to backtrack through Dire Maul West to hand in the quest for defeating the prince, after which we run back to where the prince lies slain where we can now access the urn to collect our quest reward. Progress certainly was more torturous in the old days. We also realise that by exiting Dire Maul North to come to Dire Maul West, the north wing has now reset and we need to complete a second tribute run if we want to hand in the quest item to the ogre guard, ignoring the quest tracker's opinion that we should go to Silverpine Forest.

It turns out that a proper tribute run and consequent quest completion is even more complex. The guide found suggests completing the first tribute run, then heading through the library from Dire Maul North in to Dire Maul West, which are connected in this way, running the west wing backwards before returning to kill the prince and getting the quest item, at which point Dire Maul North can be re-entered and the quest item returned. But I don't think that works, as heading through the library to Dire Maul West would approach Tendris Warpwood from behind, and we already found out that attacking him without clearing the courtyard results in a certain wipe from all the adds. I think Dire Maul West needs to be cleared first, but leaving the prince when entering the library and heading off to the north wing to complete a tribute run, after which the prince can be defeated and the quest item retrieved. Either way, bollocks to that.

There are four more regular dungeons to complete in Azeroth, with the undead-overrun Stratholme and Scholomance in the plaguelands, and the upper and lower dungeons of Blackrock Spire. As we are now 58th level, it looks like we will be able to blast through the remaining classic content before heading to the Outlands. With the wealth of dungeons at appropriate levels that Outlands provides, I imagine we will have little need to spend any time outside of group content for quite a while. We have exciting times ahead of us.

  1. One Response to “North then west in Dire Maul”

  2. I’m not sure why I’m reminded of Riddick’s ‘looks clear’ comment, but this has to be one of the Filesystem Checkwits’ most defining moments.

    And as we all now know, Wipe/Soul Stone/Res/Res/Wipe/Reincarnate/Res is the natural canasta of Filesystem Checkwit dungeon running, and awards the team a full five hundred points.

    By Melmoth on Feb 16, 2010

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