15 December 2008

Utgarde Pinnacle

Alamein is now 80. /cheer! (Oh, and WTB a new /cheer emote for female Night Elves. Thx!) I had my first runs this weekend into Gundrak, the Oculus, and Utgarde Pinnacle. Oculus in particular is a shockingly innovative instance. But I think my current favorite instance is Utgarde Pinnacle, so I'll talk about that one today.

(Also: screenshots, yay!)

Utgarde Pinnacle (UP) is the second half to Utgarde. It's designed on Normal for level 80 players. It's not terribly hard, but it is noticeably more work than the mid-70 instances. As a level 80 instance, it will grant reputation; make sure to wear your favorite tabard to get rep for whatever faction you want. There are two quests for UP, and you'll pick them up from Brigg Smallshanks immediately after zoning into the instance; it's terribly convenient.

The trash is pretty simple. UP is populated by Vrykul and Scourge, with a few beasts also in the mix. We didn't see a major need for crowd control, though we did a good bit to stay in practice. The only thing I noted here is that the Ymirjar Berserkers were immune to roots, and probably to other CC forms too. The Dragonflayer Seers are healers, so burn them down quickly.

The bosses all have some complexity, and the fights require some level of attention from everyone. Here's the Need To Know:

Svala Sorrowgrave - Vrykul/Val'kyr

After clearing a bit of trash, you'll come into a room with Svala. As you enter, she's in dialog with our good friend Arthas, who converts her into a Val'kyr. The key to the fight is the Ritual of the Sword. Every 20 seconds she will rise out of combat and teleport one party member onto her altar. Three adds will spawn and channel to hold the victim in place, while a sword slowly descends over the victim. If the sword hits the victim, he dies, so the key is to kill the adds as quickly as possible. We just DPSed the adds down, but on Heroic it appears that you need to AoE them. (A tip: she keeps channeling the ritual after the adds are down, so ranged DPS can get some free shots in before she begins attacking again.) For us, she was easy, and a good warmup for the rest.

Gortok Palehoof - Magnataur

After some more trash, you'll come to a room with a clickable stasis controller. Five frozen mobs will line the hallway, with Gortok at the end. When party members click the controller, mobs are sequentially unfrozen. On Normal, you'll have to fight two before Gortok, while on Heroic you'll fight all four.

The good news is that they're all pretty much a tank 'n spank. The first four mobs include a (giant) worgen, rhino, furbolg, and jormungar. Each has its own special ability: the worgen hits hard and does a Mortal Strike; the rhino does a stomp and a charge; the furbolg does a chain lightning, and the jormungar does an AoE poison. After defeating 2 (Normal) or 4 (Heroic) of them, you'll face Gortok. He too is tank 'n spank. He does a frontal cone attack so the tank should face him away from the group; he also does an AoE shout that's apparently nasty on Heroic, reducing your max health by 1000. On Normal though we didn't do anything fancy, and just spanked him down without much trouble.

Skadi the Ruthless - Frost Vrykul

This is another cool event, and the most complicated fight of UP. He's also a tough boss, so you'll work for this one. You'll come to a long hallway with the giant Skadi and his proto-drake Grauf.

When you aggro Skadi, he'll take off on his drake and start a gantlet event. Waves of Vrykul will attack you in groups of 5 or so. You end the gantlet by killing Skadi's dragon, but to do that you'll need to use the harpoon guns at the end of the hall. And to do that, you'll need to pick up harpoons dropped by the Vrykul. You'll see these stuck in the ground after fights; they'll show the gear cursor when you hover over them.

So you'll fight your way down the corridor, picking up harpoons as you go along. It's probably best to have 1 or 2 DPS designated for harpoon duty. As you fight, Skadi will take periodic passes down the corridor; his drake will lay a band of frostfire on one side. Call it out and have everyone move to the other side. When someone has four harpoons, they can take down Grauf. The harpoon guns are at the end of the hallway. They show a gear cursor too, and will fire when you click on them (no need to mount them or anything). Skadi and Grauf will only occasionally be in range of the harpoons, so look for the raid warning ("Skadi is in range of the Harpoons") and fire off a few shots when he flies past. After four shots, Grauf will die, Skadi will land, and you're finally fighting the boss.

(Note: you'll keep any leftover harpoons if you die, which can either make the gantlet easier after a wipe, or can be a strategy for achievement fights on Heroic.)

The boss fight is a simple tank 'n spank but Skadi is tough. The end of the hall is a fairly confined space, and Skadi does a wicked whirlwind that you'll need to avoid. Our healer got caught up in it and died, though Spirit of Redemption and Rebirth saw us through. I'm afraid of what he'll be like on Heroic. Everyone, melee in particular, has to make sure to dodge the whirlwind at all costs.

So to sum up:
  • Aggro the boss and fight groups of Vrykul
  • Pick up harpoons dropped by the Vrykul
  • Dodge left or right to avoid the frostfire
  • When you have at least four harpoons, and when he's in range, use the harpoon guns to kill the drake
  • When he lands, tank down Skadi, but avoid his whirlwind
Keep those points in mind, and you'll get through the chaos.

King Ymiron - Vrykul

You'll come into the final room, where you'll see the king receiving tribute from the final trash pack. You can pull the trash (including the last two Berserkers) without aggroing the boss.

Ymiron has two notable abilities you'll have to deal with. The first is a spell he'll cast called Bane. It gives him an aura that will cause Shadow damage to the party if Ymiron takes direct damage. So when Bane is up, the party has to hold up on DPS. It has a cast time, so if you watch (and have cast bars turned on!) you can see it coming. The good news is that it can be dispelled or spellstolen.

Ymiron will periodically (we saw it twice) cast a group-wide stun. (I have read that you can trinket out of the stun. We didn't try it so I can't confirm, but you might want to equip your PvP trinket before the fight.) He'll then run to one of the nearby boats and channel the spirit of a Vrykul ancestor, which will grant him another special ability. They are as follows:
  • Front left boat: Summons an orb that does AoE shadow damage. Avoid the orb, and kite Ymiron away from it.
  • Front right boat: He will cast a Shadow damage AoE. Keep healer and ranged DPS back.
  • Back left boat: Summons four adds; AoE them down.
  • Back right boat: Casts a Spirit Strike stacking debuff.

For the most part, you'll just DPS through no matter what ability he gets. Just avoid the orb if it's up, and AoE the adds if they arrive. Ymiron hits pretty hard, and on Heroic this is gonna be tough. But on Normal we had no problem.

So, a good instance! I love the Utgarde aesthetics and music, maybe more than any instance since Deadmines. There's just enough trash to make things interesting. The boss fights all have their twists, but they're not insanely complex. UP was a lot of fun. But it's also pretty tough, and I think it's gonna be a bear on Heroic.

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