I just spent all evening fighting my way through Zul'Gurub with a guild group. It took us almost five hours to complete the instance. It's not really difficult enough that it should take that long, especially with a group that was mostly overgeared for it, but it was just one of those things. Slight dawdling around ("Look at that giant turtle, I need that for a quest!"), having to replace people when they grew too tired, trying the fights without having looked up all the tactics first, and of course, patch day syndrome: I swear, I got disconnected almost every single time I died and released to the graveyard, and every so often my screen would freeze up the moment our tank pulled a boss, not to unfreeze again until we were all dead (and then I would of course get disconnected again). It was rather a pain.
At least one of my fellow guildies seemed to grow increasingly frustrated with every wipe, but I really thrived on the challenge. Every wipe just made me want to beat the content more, and when we finally killed Jin'do I was too tired to cheer, but certainly satisfied.
I really liked the instance as a whole. I was surprised to see that it doesn't have a normal mode, which is a first for a WoW five-man I believe, and also a bit nonsensical if you think about it. If there is no normal mode, isn't heroic mode the normal mode? After all, there isn't anything else... still, it was good fun.
Even the trash was entertaining. There are a lot of mobs around that make the place feel alive, but most of them are neutral so you don't have to engage them if you don't want to. The ones that you do have to fight often have a mechanic that you'll encounter in a boss fight later, effectively preparing you for the fight even if you've never done it before. I thought that was cool. There were also a couple of Frogger-like passages to break things up. The one with the falling rocks even wiped us initially.
The bosses were all pretty cool as well. Venoxis took us several tries until everyone had understood all the different types of green goo that they had to avoid and how. I felt rather powerless as a healer because too many of these effects killed people before I could do anything to save them if they messed up. I was rather pleased when we finally killed him and I got the It's Not Easy Being Green achievement.
Mandokir was rather amusing when he immediately ran up and decapitated me, mere seconds into the fight. Of course I then got resed by the spirits, and we kept fighting and noobing around for a long time until I eventually ran out of mana. We were very pleased to see the legendary "ding - grats" exchange make a return. On the second try he died without problems.
I was also rather happy to see that the Edge of Madness has been kept around as a place where dedicated players can summon a random bonus boss. We got Gri'lek, who gave me flashbacks to Karazhan and the big bad wolf - which is a good thing!
High Priestess Kilnara won the award for causing the funniest wipe, as we went in blindly once again, burned her down and then got pounced on by all her panthers at once. It took us another two attempts or so to get things right, and we decided to go for the Here, Kitty Kitty... achievement as well. Strangely enough only two people in the party got it, even though it should have been shared (as the whole party had to contribute to its success), which was somewhat disappointing.
Zanzil turned out to be a major road block, which seemed appropriate considering that he's living on Jin'do's old hill and old Jin'do used to be similarly annoying. While we understood how to use the cauldrons, the small zombies kept giving us trouble, plus people kept randomly dying to the fire trail. It is very harsh though, what with it ticking for 50k damage a second. One small step at the wrong time can kill you quite easily. This is where we lost our first dpser to tiredness, but fortunately we had a replacement online in guild. I lost count of just how many attempts this guy took us, but in the end we got him down (though it was once again close as several people had already died by the time he fell).
Jin'do was another really tough one, and eventually our tank also wanted to log off and sleep. Our retribution paladin switched to tanking and we gave four-manning the fight a shot but didn't quite succeed. Our group leader was close to calling it since we didn't have any more replacements online, but I begged to try once more with a random from the dungeon finder. We got a nice fury warrior who did a great job after we briefly explained the strategy to him, and two attempts later the achievement spam from completing the instance finally flashed across guild chat.
I'm convinced that we'll do much better next time, now that we know all the fights, but I do have to wonder how viable that instance will be to pug, or to put it differently, how long it will take until it will be viable to pug. Mandokir and Kilnara shouldn't be too hard to get the hang of, but all the other fights strike me as requiring a pretty high focus even once you know the tactics (dancing around all the goo on Venoxis, switching between the cauldrons on Zanzil, juggling the different kinds of spirits on Jin'do), and that's many a pug's greatest weakness. I also reckon that these fights won't be completely trivialised by better gear quite as quickly.
Tomorrow: Zul'Aman! I'm rather anxious to see what the developers have done to my former favourite raid, though considering how much fun I had in ZG tonight, I'm optimistic.
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