One of my guild's mages poked me tonight because he wanted me to help out in Halls of Reflection, and was horrified to find out that apparently I was the only person on the server who hadn't done any of the new five-mans yet (and thus wasn't attuned to HoR). Taking pity on me, he logged on his death knight tank soon afterwards to take me on a tour of the new instances. Since we were also feeling confident, we decided to go for heroic mode straight away.
In the end our group consisted of me on my priest, a feral druid main, death knight alt (who is quite well-geared), a pretty well-geared warlock alt and our main tank's crappy mage alt. And I do mean crappy, he's still in his levelling greens for the most part. Funnily enough, before we managed to rope the feral druid in, we wanted to pug a dps using the dungeon finder, but it wouldn't let us queue for heroic Forge of Souls because mage alt's gear was too crappy. Fear not, puggers, Blizzard won't inflict fools like us on any pug. Well, I thought it was kind of amusing anyway (if also sensible). Still, nothing prevented us from attempting heroic mode on our own.
Just to be clear, the following contains spoilers.
The Forge of Souls
My main impression of the Forge of Souls was that it's vast and kind of empty. The first boss, Bronjahm, wasn't particularly memorable to me either. Still, as a healer I had no reason to complain, as there was enough random damage going around to keep me busy. It was also enough damage to kill mage alt a few times on trash, as his health was very low even with buffs.
The second boss, Devourer of Souls, was pretty cool and a nice flashback to Black Temple's Reliquary of Souls. He also has an interesting ability called mirrored soul, which causes damage that he takes to be transferred to the party member he targetted, so if your dps isn't on the ball they might just end up nuking their own allies. Death knight tank tried to explain the boss's abilities as best as he could, but forgot to mention the evil death ray coming from the feminine face at certain intervals (called wailing souls), so I promptly got caught by that, died and we wiped.
While the rest of the party ran back, I spent the next ten minutes circling Icecrown Citadel on my ghostly gryphon, trying to find the instance entrance again. The warlock eventually took pity on me and came back out to guide me inside. On our next attempt we beat the Devourer of Souls without too much trouble, though two people still managed to get caught by the death ray (just not me this time).
Pit of Saron
We continued to the Pit of Saron (What kind of name is that anyway?), which turned out to be a big quarry outside. A sizeable group of Horde NPCs joined us there and promptly got wiped out, just to be raised as undead right after. So basically they are admitting that the Argent Tournament was pointless? Since this was exactly the kind of scenario it was supposed to prevent, wasn't it? Just saying.
Next we had to spend some time running around killing trash and freeing Horde slaves, and I seriously cracked up when one of freed slaves responded to my help with: "Have my babies." The Horde knows its weird slang, yo.
The first boss, Forgemaster Garfrost, was kind of annoying. He does some mildly damaging AoE all the time, and some big AoE every now and then that you are supposed to avoid by line-of-sighting him by hiding behind a lump of saronite. Which is all well and good, but in practice my party also ended up line-of-sighting each other a lot of the time, making it hard for me to keep everyone alive. While we one-shot him, it wasn't without deaths.
The Ick and Krick encounter was fun, but I'm starting to suspect that all boss fights that involve a gnome are simply automatically made of win. And I don't even like gnomes.
Afterwards we managed to wipe on some trash consisting almost exclusively of vyrkul casters who spammed mad fireballs and diseases. I reckon that using crowd control is prudent here.
The gauntlet leading up to Scourgelord Tyrannus wasn't too tough, though the boss himself certainly was. We ended up wiping due to me being unable to keep up with the incoming damage, though while talking about it afterwards it turned out that he too has a damage-redirecting ability, which essentially caused our dps to nuke our own tank. Once people knew to avoid that on the next attempt, the damage became much more manageable.
Then Horde NPCs came and cheered. Yay! Except then Sylvanas suddenly ported us away and everyone else got pwned. Sigh.
Halls of Reflection
We continued to Halls of Reflection, the last of the new five-mans. Sylvanas made a long speech and stuff happened with Frostmourne, which I might have enjoyed more if our death knight hadn't chattered away on Vent the whole time, saying how this was all really cool the first time but was bound to get tedious after so many runs. I pointedly reminded him that for some of us it was the first time and that I was trying to enjoy the show, thank you.
What followed next was probably the longest "boss fight" I've ever seen in a five-man. Five waves of annoying trash, one tank-and-spank boss, a brief pause to loot, then another five waves of trash and another tank-and-spank. It doesn't sound that bad on paper and I didn't actually time it, but I know that I used my shadowfiend twice and got innervated by the feral druid about four times, so in healer minutes the fight lasted a veeery long time. The rogue trash mobs were particularly nasty as they were fond of shadow-stepping behind a clothie. Unsurprisingly mage alt got one-shot more than once. Still, we managed to complete the event without wiping.
Afterwards we swiftly continued to the end of the hall, where Sylvanas was fighting Arthas, our feral druid charged him and was promptly one-shot. We laughed.
Next followed the infamous retreat to the airship, and damn it was intense. Basically you run along a relatively narrow ledge, and Arthas keeps erecting walls in front of you while slowly following you and sending undead armies to annoy you. Sylvanas gets the easy job of shooting at the walls while your party has to defend themselves against the undead. (I would have loved to trade places.)
There are four walls in total: The first one is easy to bring down, the second one a bit tougher but not too bad either, by the third one you'll start to sweat and if you make it to the fourth wall you'll likely be flailing and screaming by that point. Which is actually pretty cool if you think about it, I haven't had such an intense heroic experience in a while.
We had several wipes at the third and fourth wall respectively, but got better with each attempt as we adjusted our strategy. For example we found it wise to kill the casters before the abominations, since they put a lot of pressure on the healer with their shadow bolt volley spam. Getting wiped out by Arthas had a certain kind of amusement value as well, as he doesn't actually attack anyone in your party. He just walks up to Sylvanas, one-shots her, then looks at you lazily and wipes you by casting some mega spell with Frostmourne. You have to admit that it's got a certain amount of style.
Anyway, after five attempts or so we were squeezing ourselves against the fourth wall while desperately whittling down the health of the last abominations, Arthas' icy breath coming down our necks already... but just before he could kill Sylvanas we got the wall down and could make a run for it. And boy, I haven't run away from something in WoW with that much enthusiasm in a while.
I enjoyed all three of the instances, though the Forge of Souls was a little dull compared to the other two. I can see all of them becoming very popular however, as they allow you to participate in a nice little story and that's always fun. There's a reason Escape from Durnhole was the most popular BC dungeon by about a mile.
Difficulty-wise they are also quite tough and actually reminded me of BC heroics a bit. Halls of Reflection was definitely the most difficult one - and as much as I enjoy the new LFG tool, I don't think I'd want to pug that one on heroic just yet (though it's probably easier when you don't have to carry one dpser in greens).