Updated Thu, Feb 21, 2008 by Messiah
Over the last week I have had a chance to further expand our First Look series of artilces focusing on the Instances in the Burning Crusade. This time with a look at the first instance in the Caverns of Time. All of the instances in The Caverns of Time are as follows:
|Instance||MOB Levels||# of Players|
|Thrall's Escape from Durnholde Keep||66-68||5|
|Opening of the Dark Portal||68-70||5|
|Battle of Mount Hyjal||70||25|
|Battle of Hellfire Penisula||??||??|
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One of the strange sights in the Caverns of Time
Getting to the Caverns of Time is easy, all you need to do is head to Tanaris and head south from town. That's right it is not even in the Outlands! The first thing you will notice at the Caverns of Time is that Blizzard has moved some of the NPC's around a bit to give free access to the instance entrance. Whereas before you would run into several dragons when you first entered the area, there is now a free path to the back of the area as the dragons where moved to the side. Just before the tunnel at the back of the area is a meeting stone to summon other players and then you can talk to the dragon guide that is in the tunnel that will fly you to the instance area at the bottom of a long tunnel.
Once again (as per all of my previous instance guides) I was able to find a solid group almost immediately using the LFG and LFM system. Again I hope this continues to work as well in the released version. It will take some getting used to not spamming for group though.
|WARNING: What is described below is from the beta, anything described may change before release and / or be completely invalid. Upon release of The Burning Crusade, return to TenTonHammer for a complete guide to Thrall's Escape from Durnholde Keep.|
The entrance to the Caverns of Time
The Caverns of Time are a really neat concept from a fan boys point of view, and one that provides endless possibilities if and when Blizzard chooses to expand them. The caverns are home to an entirely new faction that tries to protect the time continuum. To do this they must send groups back in time to correct the timeline as an enemy faction tries to corrupt it for their own gain. The fist such time line that needs to be corrected is Thralls escape.
Blizzard's official prolog for the instance is:
Deep within the Caverns of Time, the brooding dragon Nozdormu has awakened.
Since the world was young, the bronze dragonflight has safeguarded the winding labyrinth, monitoring the shifting timeways to ensure that the delicate balance of time is upheld.
But now the ancient Dragon Aspect Nozdormu has been roused by an elusive threat to his beloved caverns: dark, sinister agents have infiltrated the timeways, embarking on shadowy missions to alter the course of the past, present and future.
As a result, the bronze dragonflight has begun enlisting heroes to prevent the fabric of history from unraveling forever. For the first time, adventurers will enter the domain of the Timeless One, where they will undertake missions to prevent the sabotage of three key historical events:
Young Thrall's escape from Durnholde Keep, the first step on the path to his ascension as the greatest warchief the orcs have ever known...
The momentous Battle of Mount Hyjal, where Jaina, Thrall, Tyrande, and Malfurion succeeded in turning the tide against the dreaded demon, Archimonde...
And the opening of the original Dark Portal by the crazed wizard Medivh – an action that ushered in the First War and introduced the mighty orcs to the world of Azeroth.
The assault on the timeways has begun. The balance of time is in jeopardy, and if the past is not saved...
There will be no future.
The story line behind the first instance is that a dark force is trying to stop Thralls escape from Durnholde keep. In doing so they hope to stop him from becoming the great warchief. You must travel back in time and ensure that he does escape to protect the timeline. The instance is actually an outdoor one where you get to see Durnhold Keep before it was destroyed, Old Southshore complete with several characters that you will recognize from instances, and much more. Many of us went exploring just to see how much was around. Once very cool thing is that even though you are in a high level instance you will still see all the normal level MOBs that you would see in the zone in at the normal level, other than all the instance specific MOBs.
The instance is composed of three bosses that you must defeat as you follow the heavily scripted storyline. When you first enter the instance you are greeted by one of the keepers of time and given a quest to rescue Thrall. You are also given a nice present... Incendiary Bombs to create a distraction with. Looking around you will see that you have exited from the yeti cave in Hillsbrad and all you need to do is either have the dragon fly you to Durnholde Keep to the east, or mount up and ride there. Many players will notice that their race and appearance will change in the instance. Any non appropriate race will get a disguise put on them so that they can play through as an appropriate race. For example out night elf players where changed to humans, I am not sure what other races get changed but assume a large portion of them. It will be fun to see what your character will look like as a different race for several players, while others got annoyed at it.
From the entrance to the keep you must fight your way in and down to the prison barracks. There are several MOBs to be wary of in the area, but especially the Wardens and Riflemen. The wardens cause fear and can send you into other groups very easily, while the Riflemen can cause confusion and break up your attack plan quite often. Each barrack building had two guards outside that needed to be cleared which summoned two additional guards from inside. The makeup of the groups seemed random, however always had at least one Warden to deal with.
We needed to work our way through the lower area clearing all of the barracks and then placing a bomb in each one. Once the last bomb is placed (5/5) the buildings will burst into flame and the first boss will spawn.
The first boss is Lieutenant Drake and he spawns at the staircase down into the barrack area. He has 2 main abilities that need to be dealt with. He does a spinning whirlwind attack and an aoe fear attack. As soon as he starts the whirlwind all melee other than the tank or any other plate wearers that can stay in without taking to bad of a beating should get out of the area and stay out until just after he finishes. When he is done with the Whirlwind he will normally trigger an AOE fear that hits everyone within about 5 yards. If DPS is still out of the are, this is not a big deal. They can wait until he fears and then re-enter doing damage.
Too bad we couldn't just leave him there... Live would be so much easier on a PvP server :-)
After beating Lieutenant Drake we headed up into the keep. The MOBs stay very similar, and you just need top handle the fear from the Wardens to be able to survive. In the keep you head down to the basement and find Thrall locked there. Once everyone is ready, you can free him, just be ready for a sprint. Once freed, Thrall can be buffed and will start out on a rampage out of the keep. You must fight and clear 4 successive groups of 4 MOBs pretty much without a break. There is time to start a drink, but you best keep up, or Thrall could get overwhelmed and you will fail. Thrall can be healed so healers may want to create a "/target Thrall" macro and keep it handy. Each of the packs one the way out will have a mage in them, and they become priority one to kill. The mage's can sheep players and cause serious issues if they are left up. Our kill priority was always Mage, Warden, others. The last group of MOBS (just over the bridge on the escape route out of the keep) has two mage's, so be ready for them and crowd control one while you kill the other quickly.
Once you have escaped the keep, the second boss rides up the path and has a conversation with Thrall. The boss, Captain Skarloc, is a Paladin and has most of the abilities that being a paladin implies. He can heal, cleanse, and more. When the fight starts he will have two MOBs with him, one being a Warden and the other a sentry. The tank should pick up the Captain while the rest of the party deals with the Warden and then the Sentry at some distance away so that he is not feared.
Thrall puts out a huge amount of damage in the fight and even though Skarloc can heal himself a fair amount, it turns into a tank and spank. Keep aggro with the tank so you only have one person to heal and you should be good.
An orc on a paladin mount???
After defeating Skarloc, Thrall "borrows" his mount and rides to Tarren Mill looking for Taretha. It fun to see an orc mounted and riding a paladin mount if for nothing other than comedic value. Once you arrive in Tarren Mill you must explore with Thrall looking to Taretha working your way through several encounters, until you find he in the Inn. At this point you encounter the third and final boss, the Epoch Hunter.
The fight starts off with 3 waves of dragons that must be defeated. The first 2 waves have 3 dragons and the third wave has 4. Each wave will have at least one caster mixed in that needs to be killed first and preferably without the tank as they can put a nasty debuff (-50% healing and -50% damage debuff) on the player meleeing them. Sometimes the last group will have 2 casters that need to be dealt with, but not always. Once all the waves have been cleared you will have a spit second to drink before the Boss joins in the fight.
The boss has a hard hitting knock back attack as well as a shadow based curse attack. To get around the knock back the tank should position his back against any of the various buildings and fight there. As long as the tank holds aggro he should be the only one getting the curse, however when knocked back the aggro list will clear for a few seconds so it is possible for others to get it. The curse does 750 damage every 3 seconds for 15 seconds, so can be hard to deal with for some players. He also clears buffs from the tank, which is very annoying if you are a paladin tanking it since your righteous fury will get dispelled and you can loose aggro easily if you are not contantly recasting it. If the tank holds aggro and does not get knocked around allot, the fight is not that difficult, especially with Thralls added DPS.
Once the fight is over Thrall and Taretha will have a discussion while one of the keepers of time appears. He will clear their memory so that they do not remember the "new version" but only what should have happened.
With that you are done the instance and can head back to the cave to exit back to the Caverns of Time.
Finish of with a reward
The instance was insanely fun, especially given that you could see how things were before WoW was. It gives you a chance to look back at the history of the world and participate in it, which is very cool for anyone interested in the fiction behind the game. The instance continues Blizzards fast and fun instance plan, having taken my groups less than 90 minutes on both runs. I can see it being possible to complete this run in under an hour easily once you know the fights.
Of note the experience that we received in the instance was outstanding. While I was rested I was getting 1500 - 2200 experience per MOB killed! This is allot. The priest in our group had spent all of her current level here and was 1 or 2 runs from leveling. Instead of questing she had completed 3 runs in the instance and was going to do 1 or 2 more to finish the level. That is significant when you consider that most players would spend 15 hours at level 66 to level and she was going to do it in less than 1/2 of that.
I took many additional screen shots which are all available in our gallery here: TenTonHammer visits the Caverns of Time: Thrall's Escape from Durnholde Keep .