Updated Thu, Feb 21, 2008 by Messiah
Despite promising myself to actually play my shadow priest this week, I got sucked into yet another instance. This time the Opening of the dark portal in the Caverns of Time. Since I visited anyway I thought I would further expand our First Look series of articles focusing on the Instances in the Burning Crusade. For everyone that is unaware of how instances are setup in the Burning Crusade, almost all are in groups of four in an area. The four 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 Opening the Dark Portal.|
The entrance to Opening the Dark Portal
I fell in love with the whole concept of The Caverns of Time last time I visited, and my feelings were just reinforced this time around. Even though I have some issues helping to open the Dark Portal, I can see the logic in a Star Trek, protecting the space time continuum type thought process. The Infinite Dragon flight is up to its tricks again and trying to rearrange history to suit its purpose. This time preventing Medivh from opening the Dark Portal in the first place. As an Alliance player you would think that you want him to fail, however if he did, then the Alliance would never have been formed at all. Also I am sure that the Infinite Dragon flight has far worse planned if they could stop him.
The instance is heavily scripted and essentially contains only 18 fights and 3 bosses. When you enter the instance you come into a swamp around the black gate, that you must clear so that you are able to fight off the incoming dragons. Once the area is clear we approached Medivh which started the encounter. NOTE: You don't actually talk to him to start it, just approaching him does it, as we learned the first run before clearing! So be cautious.
Once the encounter starts two pieces of information are added to the screen as you will see in all the screen shots. The number of time rifts left to open and the percentage of Mehivh's shield left. Both are important as they give you an idea of how much time is left and how well you are doing. Once you know the instance you should be able to complete it without his shield dropping below 90%.
One of the Rift Keepers
Each time a rift opens a Rift Keeper will come out who is the main MOB that must be tanked for that fight. He will be either a level 71 or 72 elite MOB, and can be melee or caster based. While he is being tanked other MOBs will come through the gate and attempt to get to Medivh to attack him. If they do they drop his shield percentage (which does not regenerate) and if it ever reaches zero he dies and you lose the instance. For each of these 18 fights the tank must control the Rift Keeper while everyone else DPS's him down, and picks up the adds coming through the gate and prevents them from getting to Medivh. The adds do not have much health and can be taken down easily, if a few get away though, they will need to be grabbed before the next rift opens which will potentially take away your drinking time.
The rifts open on a timed basis, so you need to be quick with each group. If you are not, a new once could open and send everything through to Medivh before you get there. If done quickly you will have time to drink and eat between each encounter, but only if you are quick! After every 6th rift a boss rift will spawn, and you need to fight and drop the boss. These are also timed but you have a significantly longer period of time.
Chrono Lord Deja
The first boss was Chrono Lord Deja, who was a big nasty dragon / orc hybrid like in Blackwing Lair. Healing for this fight I did not get a chance to see what special abilities he had or if he had any. I heard complaints from others that the bosses did not have many abilities yet so watch for this to change. I will visit again soon to try and get more information on this and the other bosses as I was more worried about learning about the instance story and script than the actual fights. I did notice that he hit very hard though, as out tank was a decked level 70 paladin with over 490 defense and over 12k health and he could almost 2 shot him when we crit'ed.
The second boss was Temporus and comes after the 12th rift opens. Temporus had a nasty -healing debuff that should be taken of the tank quickly so that healers can keep up as he is no slouch at damage. The main difficulty with this fight though is that he has adds come through the rift with him, unlike the other boss fights. This means you need to kill him fast and get to Medivh to clear the adds off his shield before they kill him, or setup and off tank to pick them up. The best way it probably just to kill him quickly as we managed to drop him before Medivhs shield dropped more than 10 - 15% each time.
The last boss was Aeonus who was a HUGE dragon, as in almost Onyxia sized. His abilities included a time stop blast that essentially stunned everyone within about 30 yards for 5 seconds. He also had an attack that would hit everyone in the front arc, so all the DPS needed to stay to the sides. As a healer, I could range out of his stun effect by healing from either behind him at max range or behind the tank at near max range. This just depended on which way he ended up facing after the pull and where I was. He can hit for large amounts and the fight is not short so it is critical that the healer get out of the stun range or you will get behind and allow the tank to die. Other than that the fight was fairly straight forward.
Finish off with a great tanking reward ring!
The instance was a heavily scripted event that is really one long running fight. Its totally different than any other instance and I really liked it! We all found it insanely fun. The whole instance can be done in less than 40 minutes and offers some amazing loot. As with the other Cavern of Time instances you are allowed 3 failed attempts that the guardians of time can reset from, after that the instance needs to be reset. We didn't find out how that worked here, if it would reset back to the last rift or boss or the beginning, but our guess was the last boss defeated.
Being a long running fight, it was critical that you finish each one as fast as possible, and then try to get drinking and eating time in. It was also very important to take your time on every 6th rift so that you could have everyone buffed and healed for the next boss.
I would strongly recommend everyone visit this instance as soon as they are able to. In beta there is some resistance to visiting the Caverns of Time since you need to head back to the old world and then into the Tanaris desert, however I feel it is well worth the trip there. I am eagerly waiting to visit the next CoT instance. I also really hope that Blizzard sees fit to create more of these mini instances that you can play through quickly and still get rewarded.
I took many additional screen shots which are all available in our gallery here: TenTonHammer visits the Caverns of Time: Opening the Dark Portal .