Avoiding bosses in Lower Blackrock Spire

2nd March 2010 – 5.47 pm

Vulzerda's taking a break to tidy up her tan lines, which leaves the three of us wondering what to do. Our normal mainstay of lower-challenge, minimal-XP adventuring at this level would be to return to Blackrock Depths, but even with my new-found admiration for the dungeon I don't think I can face yet another visit quite so soon. We could explore the whole of Azeroth, ride through Orgrimmar to visit Ragefire Chasm, or raid Crossroads for that authentic Alliance experience, but none of the options really appeal. We must go forwards, deciding to venture in to Lower Blackrock Spire.

Rather than visit either of the two remaining fundamental 60th level challenges of the old Azerothian world, Scholomance and Stratholme, without a core member of the Filesystem Checkwits, it seems better to run amok in what is now a vestigial dungeon tucked under a long-deserted rock like an unwanted tail. Not that I can think of any reason why a tail would be unwanted, but the simile is otherwise solid. Lower Blackrock Spire used to be the gateway to Upper Blackrock Spire, holding the initial quest and items needed in the long chain to create the key to the upper dungeon. But now the door upwards is jammed open, offering permanent access to greater challenges, more notorious bosses, and higher-quality loot.

Lower Blackrock Spire is now no more than an artefact of a lost era, unnecessary to visit for anyone but tourists, its previous utility further undermined by the relative ease with which we scamper through it. We defeat only three of the six or seven bosses in the dungeon, one of those encounters being accidental and almost unnoticed. Although on reflection this rather defeats the object of experiencing Azeroth before the cataclysmic changes, missing Vulzerda makes tonight's adventure more of a jaunt through content than the nostalgic last look that inspires our guild's creation. And bypassing a chunk of the dungeon doesn't stop us completing the two quests for the spiderling hatchling and worg pup pets, and only the final boss is needed to be defeated to trigger the achievement for completing the dungeon. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

The short-cut past half of the mobs in Lower Blackrock Spire presents itself early in the dungeon. Passing through an antechamber and turning right offers a leap down to a latter area. I try to convince ex-Horde Livya that the route is a secret of the Alliance, but she doesn't believe me. 'The secret Alliance route would be to fall off the ledge in to the lava.' I laugh off her wild guess, and instead follow her series of jumps on to the safety of rock in order to preserve the secret of the fiery swim. Once at the lowest section of Blackrock Spire we need to pass some orcs to wend our way higher again. The orcs are rather awkward to navigate through, though, and fighting in close quarters with mobs that flee results in our first wipe, nine orcs apparently above our safetly limit for a single encounter. I really should time my acceptance of the druid's in-combat resurrection, as my habit of popping back to life a moment before everyone else dies is not helping my repair bill.

One soulstone recovery later, and we soon mow down enough orcs to slink past the rest. Onwards to the spiders. 'Grab your eggs everyone', I advise, 'and I mean the quest items'. If we gather enough eggs for an NPC she'll hatch one to give back to us as a pet. There are an awful lot of spiders, though, and again I remember too late that the big spiders burst to spawn more little spiders when killed. Being poisoned and temporarily crystallised is more of a problem in a smaller group too, and we wipe again. It is only on the run back that I realise we've already killed the boss spider, it being so inconspicuous amongst the other spiders that I thought the loot it dropped is a random good drop. As we return to life on coming through the dungeon's entrance we have to take the short-cut again, finding another orc patrolling along the way. 'Oh, he's a Firebrand Grunt, I misread that entirely', particularly as he debuffs me with a mark of flame, increasing fire damage significantly. But it makes me look fairly sinister too.

We work our way past the spiders, plenty of eggs for everyone, and pick off a couple of loitering ogres. Without picking up a polearm or encountering an ealier boss we cannot trigger the event here, so we move on. There are some swarming scorpions in our way, probably only there to add yet another type of vendor trash drop to clutter up our bags, truly a sign of a classic dungeon. 'I've never been down that corridor', admits Livya at the following t-junction. There is only a room of orcs and a minor boss in there, maybe something to do with blacksmithing. I have previously tended towards running in that direction under the mistaken impression that it leads to the entrace to Blackwing Lair, confusing it for the corridor in Upper Blackrock Spire that may look somewhat similar. But I remember this time and avoid taking that route, target set on the next pet quest.

Capturing a worg pup is more overtly dangerous than collecting spider eggs. The eggs are inert with occasional surprises, whereas the pups are alive and biting with hostile intent. And they are guarded by a minor boss, a huge wolf. We have to grab a pup and shove it in a carrier whilst fending off attacks, but once that is done we can slaughter the rest. Who is the real beast here: the worgs defending their territory, or the adventurers, with their suits and ties? Well, suits of armour and, uh... I hope it's the worgs. Once the mother worg is defeated, pops comes running down from his den to meet a similar fate. A few more orcs are killed and we are facing dragonkin Overlord Wyrmthalak, the final boss of Lower Blackrock Spire. He calls some friends to help him half-way through the fight, and hits me so hard that I find myself standing on a rafter at one point, but Wyrmthalak poses no real threat and we stand victorious over his corpse.

Having taken a short-cut to get here that involves a few significant leaps down, without a way to jump ten times our heights, or twenty times for Livya, we have to use our hearthstones to escape without more fighting. Or I can use my deathgate to send me to Acherus, which turns out to be more convenient considering we still have plenty of time and decide to spend it getting the key to Scholomance ready for another day. Getting the key involves completing a chain of quests and travelling across two continents, a task that is mostly better shared. Only I have yet to start the quest chain, the NPC not recognising my change from paladin to death knight, but the advantageous proximity of Acherus to Chillwind Camp in the Western Plaguelands lets me kill the requisite numbers of skeletons and ghouls whilst Livya flies north to join me for the second part, planting beacons for All Along the Watchtower.

All four towers are found without confusing one for another, and as I fight the no-longer-elite skeleton guard Livya plants the beacon, speeding along the completion. Qattara joins us for the third quest, the only one that is both helped and hindered with more participants, as it requires fifteen drops from skeletal mobs in Andorhal. The drops are not cumulative across the party, so we need to get fourty-five in total. But our small group is able to pull a moderate number of mobs at a time, rather than face them in ones or twos, which probably speeds up the quest despite needing more drops in total. Once we have the fragments, we can either give Livya grafts to make her taller, or hand them back to the NPC to continue in the quest chain. He asks us to head from northen Eastern Kingdoms across the sea to southern Kalimdor, seeking a goblin in Gadgetzan.

The Mould Rhymes With... quest gets us the mould for the Skeleton Key to open Scholomance. But after that we need to create the key, which requires a couple of thorium bars each to be melted in a volcano in the adjacent region of Un'Goro Crater. If only we had a mining paladin instead of a stupid death knight. Not knowing you need thorium bars can make the quest even more tedious, having to travel backwards and forwards for petty tasks, and even knowing we need it adds that extra complication. But I have a plan. Qattara is sent to Ironforge to buy some thorium, thankfully not quite as in demand as when it was the highest valued ore in Azeroth, whilst Livya and myself board the ship in Menethil to travel to Theramore Isle and fly south to the Tanaris desert. My poor spider doesn't seem to like water and waves its goodbyes.

I had hoped that we could use Livya's warlock powers to summon Qattara to Gadgetzan, but we would need one more character to assist in the ritual. Livya amends the plan to use the summoning stone of Zul'Farrak instead, which only requires the two of us to activate. Livya and I hand in our quest in Tanaris, getting the mould and now needing thorium, and then ride across to Zul'Farrak to summon Qattara. The thorium is divvied out and Livya and I ride down to Un'Goro Crater, whilst Qattara heads over to Gadgetzan to complete the quest for the mould. She can then fly to Un'Goro Crater and head south, where we all meet to love parrots and toads near Flame Crest. By the way, 'mould' rhymes with 'rip-off', as the quest costs fifteen gold to complete. Whilst far from a fortune these days, back when the quest was more relevant, as the key is required to gain access to one of the final dungeons, fifteen gold was a lot to spend whilst trying to save up the thousand or so needed for an epic riding mount.

At the top of Flame Crest we find the pool of lava that is apparently the only place hot enough to forge this key from the thorium and skeletal fragments. So naturally we dip our feet in it and put everything together with our bare hands. 'These little earthquakes are part of Cataclysm, aren't they?', Livya points out, as the ground shakes beneath our feet a few times. No, it's just the quest trying to add a touch of drama to an otherwise tedious procedure. 'These little earthquakes are nothing to do with Cataclysm, aren't they?' And we have the key! But not a working key, it apparently needs to be imbued with magic, requiring us to head back to Chillwind Point. The other two use their hearthstones to get back to Stormwind and fly north, whereas I open a deathgate and return to Acherus to be handily close in the plaguelands again.

The final stage in the quest chain is to kill Araj the Summoner and return his Scarab to the alchemist in Chillwind Point. As I am first to Andorhal, where Araj stands in wait, I clear some of the mobs surrounding The Summoner, thankfully no longer elite. Araj is weaker too these days, and when Qattara and Livya arrive we have no trouble in thoroughly destroying all the undead within a ten metre radius. It helps that we have hit 60th level as a result of the Lower Blackrock Spire Quests. My new talent point gets me the excellent howling blast ability, which hits multiple targets, and training in Acherus grants me the death and decay AoE spell. I am now much more potent against multiple targets. And we finally have the key to Scholomance, perhaps taking a little longer than running through the dungeon earlier. The final dungeons of Azeroth are now unlocked for our last few adventures before heading to the Outlands.

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed.