(This post will contain major spoilers about quest lines in Zul’drak)
Last night, just before I logged off, I dinged Level 76 in Zul’drak. It’s been pointed out to me that I should have done Grizzly Hills prior to doing Zul’drak, but I didn’t. I’ll probably end up doing Grizzly Hills on the Hunter when I bring him up. I can take him Borean Tundra to Dragonblight to Grizzly Hills and only repeat the Dragonblight quests which would be pretty cool. Zul’drak is growing on me a bit. There are only a few areas that are really dark, and I’ve moved out of those.
I’ve now spent an entire level as Protection and the biggest difference I see versus Retribution is our resource renewal system is clearly inferior. You can tell you are meant to need Spiritual Attunement to keep your rotations going. Ret is much more self sustaining with Judgements of the Wise, although even as Ret I found myself needing Judgment of Wisdom. In both cases, I’m stopping to drink more often than I’d like. But thinking back, I’ve always had to drink while soloing, so I’m not sure why that expectation has suddenly changed.
There were a couple of really fun quest lines as I went from 75 to 76. I think I had the most fun with Champion of Anguish series. This is the Northrend equivalent to the Ring of Blood quest in Nagrand. This was the first time since I hit Northrend that I’ve actually tanked anything.
Tanking is a blast, and getting to taste it again was like water to a thirsty man. I love following the stories as I solo, but I do enjoy tanking. I was also rusty as I could be. People who have played with me for any length of time know that one of the NPC moves that really gets under my skin is the random charge. It annoys me because Blizzard seems to give the move to nearly EVERY MOB IN THE GAME!
Well wouldn’t you know it, but the 2nd or 3rd boss in the Champion of Anguish line does the random charge, too. I was a little slow to taunt it back, but we didn’t lose anyone. The group we had was 3 Paladins (2 Rets, me as Prot), a Hunter and Death Knight. One of the Rets offered to heal the event and had little trouble keeping me up. In fact, at one point I switched from Devotion Aura to Ret Aura just to try to take a little damage and keep my mana up. I can see why every Holy Paladin wanted to invest into Ret back in Beta when Sheath of Light was lower in the tree; it is a very nice tool for healing.
I thought about taking the Icier Barbed Spear, but ultimately decided on the De-Raged Waraxe. De-Raged has Strength, is slower and has a higher top end damage. I see the IBS2 as more of a Hunter weapon with all that agility.
I’m going to try to pay more attention to keeping my Retribution gear up to snuff this time around for when Blizzard implements Dual Specs. That way I can be Tank spec and then Ret when I need to solo or PVP.
The other questline that I really enjoyed was the entire Drakuru quest line. You work as a double agent for the Knights of the Ebon Blade, a group of Deathknights similar to the Argent Crusade. You are tasked with doing quests for the Scourge so as to gain the trust of their leader, Overlord Drakuru. Fortunately, you don’t have to do anything too bad. The only group you are tasked with attacking is a group of trolls.
What was annoying (to me) was that nearly every quest had you take control of a scourge which became a ‘pet’ for you. The problem was that in SpartanUI my ‘pet’ bar wouldn’t show up. So to do these quests, I had to log out and turn off Spartan, and then log back in.
I also think Blizzard dropped the ball on the final climatic battle with Drakuru. This is a mechanic problem as the lore and the quest itself are solid. In the final quest, you talk to Drakuru and he teleports you to the roof for the final showdown. The problem comes in if (like your humble author) someone else is doing the final battle when you get up there. You see Drakuru doesn’t despawn when someone has engaged him. I can understand this from the point of view that other people need to turn in quests to him, but it would have been nice if Blizzard gave you some way to know you really shouldn’t start the event right now.
See if you port up there and someone else if already doing the event, Drakuru is not attackable by you, and if the person doing the event fails, he despawns, meaning you are stuck on the roof with no way down.
Eventually, I was able to port up and find no one else trying to do the event. I aggroed Drakuru and began the combat which involves enslaving yet another scrouge ‘pet’ to use against him.
After you defeat him, he doesn’t die. No, Arthas himself shows up and finishes the deal for you. The Lich King then addresses you directly talking about the next time you meet him. He continues to make reference to turning you into his servant. I don’t think so. The next time we meet, Arthas, I’ll be putting my sword through your dark heart!
This quest, like Ragemane’s Flipper had been on my ‘to-do’ list because the end reward contains a very good Tanking neck (as well as a very nice ‘Ret’ neck, choose wisely). I picked up The Betrayer’s Choker and used it to replace my Pendant of the Titans. I’m going to drop an Enduring Dark Jade in it. Perhaps, I'll get lucky and get a Perfect cut.
I have started running into more Horde interference as I get deeper and deeper into the game. There was a particularly bad run in with a Horde Ret Paladin. I held him off pretty good but eventually I ran out of mana before he did. Actually, this guy was a very good PVPer. I don’t think it was just a Ret versus Prot thing, but more that he was just a better PVPer than I am.
After he killed me for the second time, I decided to try to find somewhere else to quest.
My next goal is 77 and Cold Weather Flying. Hopefully I’ll soon be high enough to start running with my friends who have leveled faster than me. I’m getting into the range where I really need to start carefully evaluating the quest rewards (especially the blue ones) to see if they upgrade my old gear. It’s also time to start buying some Frostweave Bags to open up some more bag space, and as loathe as I am to do it, it’s time to start vendoring some of my older gear.