Updated Wed, Nov 19, 2008 by Messiah
When The World of Warcraft:Wrath of the Lich King (WotLK) was announced, there was a new instance that captured many players attention, the new Caverns of Time: The Culling of Stratholme. Blizzard announced that they would be turning one of everyone's favorite Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos quests into a new Caverns of Time instance. This is the quest that starts Arthas's turn to evil as he insists on purging the city of Stratholme after its inhabitants became infected by the Dreadlord Mal'Ganis's plague.
Mal'Ganis Taunting Arthas
Now that Blizzard has allowed the creation of level 80 pre-made characters, it allows many players in the Beta a chance to explore and test some of the high level content. After getting onto the pre-made character test realm the first thing many players are doing is heading into the CoT: Culling instance. That's where Byron "Messiah" Mudry headed as soon as he created a level 80 restoration Druid.
When you get to the Caverns of Time you can find the new instance just to the left of the Black Morass instance. You enter through what looks like a market area and once you zone in are in an underground mine system. Make your way to the top of the mine and you will find Chromie there, who will provide you with the first quest of the instance.
The quest starts the whole event, by having you search for 5 crates of the plagued grain on the road to Stratholme. Once you have the quest you exit the cabin that she is in to find yourself on the road in the Eastern Plaguelands leading the Stratholme. You can find the grain all along the road as you make your way to the gates of Stratholme. Once you find all 5 Chromie will appear by the bridge to the city. You can talk to her there to start the second part of this heavily scripted instance.
Once the second part of the quest starts, Arthas and his friends will appear by Chromie and move towards the bridge. You get to see Arthas, Uther the Lightbringer and Jaina Proudmoore argue about Arthas's plan. Arthas then declares that he is taking a small force inside the city and you join him as he enters.
Once inside the front gates of the city, you are greeted with much the same scenery as you will have seen in the Scarlet (or Live) side of Stratholme from the original game. The only difference is that the city appears whole and vibrant, until Mal'Ganis appears and undead swarm the street. After Mal'Ganis's speech the next scripted sequence starts where you must defeat 10 waves of undead. The waves start from alternating sides of the entrance street and you move from one side to the next clearing the waves.
The 5th and 10th waves are not groups of creatures, instead they are bosses. The 5th wave boss is a giant undead abomination called Meathook, and the 10th wave boss is the Necromancer Salramm the Fleshcrafter.
The Meathook fight involves a lot of spike damage as he can hit the tank very hard. It is not uncommon to see 8,000 damage hits. A level 80 tank however has over 20,000 health so it isn't that bad, but still needs to be watched for. Meathook has 2 main abilities as well, an Area of Effect (AoE) disease and crushing chains.
Salramm the Fleshcrafter
The AoE hits everyone nearby with moderate poison damage, but isn't enough to cause serious issues. The chains stun a random non-tank player for 5 seconds and deal damage while the person is chained. Again, it's not a lot, but can hurt players, or the tank if the healer gets chained.
The fight is a fairly easy 'tank and spank' fight though. However, between spike damage and the large amount of party damage you may want an off healer or a healer capable of some AoE heals.
The boss after the 10th wave is another fairly simple boss, especially if you have an AoE tank (Paladin). Throughout the fight Salramm summons ghouls that need to be picked up and tanked along with him. The ghouls need to be burned down so that they do not stack on the tank too high, and so that you prevent Salramm from detonating too many of them, which is his main ability. At any point he can cause any ghoul left alive for too long to explode causing a large amount of nature damage to everyone around the ghoul.
Once Salramm has been defeated you are ready to talk to Arthas again and start the next part of the instance.
If you want to see more images from the CoT: The Culling of Stratholme check our Culling of Stratholme Gallery.
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