Monday 22 January 2007

I am the god of Hellfire (Ramparts)

Disclaimer: the post title is a Crazy World of Arthur Brown reference, not a suggestion that I defeated the Hellfire Ramparts single handed.

This weekend I got my first look at a Burning Crusade instance when a group of us decided to take a nice bracing stroll around the Hellfire Ramparts. According to the guidebook they offer a delightful view over the peninsula, and present several fascinating examples of Outlands architecture. The only drawback is a slight infestation of demonic Fel Orcs, but apparently a firm tap on the nose with a stout walking stick should see them off.

Our Sunday afternoon jaunt didn't start too well, as a patrol rather unsportingly joined in an already furious encounter, but after a chance to see the area from a more ghostly perspective we were nicely warmed up, and didn't have too many other problems, at least to the final boss. With myself as a Rogue, a Paladin, a Priest, a Mage and a non-feral-specced Druid, we were a bit too squishy, and the dragon baked us lightly at Gas Mark Death. Later that evening we had another try with a Warrior, and that worked rather better, so it was home and dragon-toasted crumpets all round.

For the first expansion instance, the Ramparts are a nice and compact, only taking a couple of hours for our modestly equipped group of level 60s (most of us seeing it for the first time). That's probably the ideal instance size for me; having a more or less free Sunday, I could even fit two runs in either side of dinner, where a single five hour session wouldn't have been possible without drawing heavy wife aggro. It got me thinking that the Deadmines (the first Alliance instance in the original game) would work *far* better as multiple wings rather than a single instance; maybe one for the mines themselves, another for the foundry, and then the final area. You still get the story (and I really like the story and layout of the Deadmines, revealing their purpose as you get further in), but without having to do the whole lot in one gruelling slog (the problem being compounded by the fact that, unless you have a really good group, being powerful enough to deal with the final boss makes the first half of the instance rather pointless). I gather most Outlands instances follow the multiple wing approach, so that gets the thumbs up from me.

The only thing I didn't like was the loot. Or rather, the lack of it, as the curse of random loot struck again. It wasn't the worst case ever, as most of the blue bind-on-pickup drops were useful to someone (lacking a Hunter or Shaman, I was expecting a load of Mail to turn up), but there wasn't a single thing useful for me. I probably shouldn't have done it, but curiousity made me look up the possible drops, which is like the bit on the gameshow where the host says "Come and have a look at what you could have won", revealing a shiny new car to the crestfallen contestant who's going away with a plastic figurine. Oh well. I never wanted that speedboat anyway...

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