standing at the back in my sissy robe

July 23, 2009

can you feel the devilsaur tonight

Filed under: Real Men Wear Purple,Sweets for the Sweet,Vainglory — Tamarind @ 11:14 am

So, we’re into the summer slump, apparently. Various blogger are headed off on out-of-game adventures, lots of people are taking a break, raid groups are foundering, and the game itself is that weird, semi-suspended pre-patch state where nothing you do really seems quite worth it because of incoming changes. On the other hand, I find reading about the enthusiasm of others bolsters my own when it flags. It reminds me of the things I love about WoW, and inspires me to try new things or look at certain aspects of the game in a different way. I’m going to spend a little time, probably not in a very organised way because I’m not that kind of blogger, just, y’know, appreciating WoW and generally taking time out to smell the pixels as Lantanna says. I’ll probably degenerate into ranting and whinging pretty soon but for the moment: let’s spread the love around.

But first, some vainglory! The Shadow Labyrinth. Went Down. Oh yeah! Oh yeah, baby! Commence dancing and air punching. Sorry, this is getting embarrassing but it was really satisfying, especially because the first time we attempted it we crashed and burned oh so badly on Grandmaster Vorpil and his voidwalker loveclub. Having very little AoE DPS, what am I saying, very little DPS at all, it was really difficult to eliminate the voidwalkers in time to stop them healing him.

My ideal way to run instances is at level with a tight 3-man team, but 2-manning at higher levels, if you judge it right, can be an interesting challenge too, especially when you’re reliant on a holy priest off-DPSing for your major damage. And you end up evolving some slightly crazy strategies to deal with things like mind control – trying to juggle your threat so that the guy in the sissy robe with only smite to his name gets mind controlled instead of the platemail sporting tank with the big sword, for example. There’s nothing more embarrassing than being cut down in the middle of an instance by your own tank. I have to admit, I’d love to see the chaos caused by Blackheart the Inciter on a five party group though. There wasn’t all that much we could do except blow our cooldowns before he MCed us and then stand as far away from each other as possible before the mind-control, like Smitefight at the OK Corral, since M’Pocket Tank could survive anything I could throw at her but I’m pretty vulnerable to a sword in the face.

Grandmaster V. was a close run thing though. M’Pocket Tank basically north-south kited him while I took out the void walkers in the centre of the room. It was a huge strain on resources because DPSing gives me very little return on my mana and it took 2 casts per voidwalker to take one out. Meanwhile M’Pocket Tank was whittling away at the Grandmaster and simultaneously trying to keep herself alive because I couldn’t take time off from killing voidys to chase her to the other end of the room. I did mange to get a couple of emergency heals off though and there was one heart-stopping moment when the Grandmaster got away from us and ploughed gleefully into a rugby scrum of voidwalkers. I had run completely and totally out of mana, void walkers were converging on the centre of the room and I was about to despair when … somehow .. we did it. He died.

Not so Grand now, eh?

Remarkable. The best part of it is I’m not sure I could do it again. That’s always the sign of a good fight, I think. You triumph but the challenge isn’t lost.

Also the Shadow Labyrinth is brutal, I tell you, brutal. Insane quantities of mobs, mobbing us. We were taken out by the trash at least once. Oh the shame!

Okay, that’s enough vainglory for one day. Let me go back to the subject of this post. Here’s something I love: Terror Run.

That's ... not ... good

That's ... not ... good

I mean, how you could not, with a name like that. I think I might, on previous occasions, maybe, just maybe have expressed – possibly – a slight degree of enthusiasm for dinosaurs. So, naturally, I really like Un’goro, although it might as well be called MetaZone for all the silly references jammed in there. It looks fantastic, it’s brimming with a metric arseload of insanely fun “go forth and kill lots of dinosaurs” quests, it’s got a wonderfully, ironic, pulpy atmosphere and, of course, it has Terror Run. Now, usually, when I rock up at Un’goro I’m punching above my weight so Terror Run is genuinely terrifying, exactly as it should be. I don’t have a hope in hell of taking a single one of those enormous elites, well, maybe, if I managed to corner one, in the dark, while it was unconscious. So if I want to get to the western pylon, which of course I do, I have to run Terror Run. In terror.

I know death doesn’t actually, per se, mean anything in WoW. At worst it’s inconvenient (death isn’t the handicap it used to be in the olden days…) but Terror Run helps me to forget that. When I’m pegging it, mist-blind and panicking, through a forest of smooshed trees and angry elite stegodon, I know I don’t want to die by dino, and I’m afraid, and exhilarated and cackling and having a wonderful time.

I had cause to visit Un’goro fairly recently, when I was levelling the prettiest elf with Cowfriend. The prettiest elf, by the way, is a full-spec fire mage. I know this is underpowered, I know it’s a silly choice of levelling spec but … but … I like the pretty lights. And the burning. Gotta love the burning. Anyway, there we were, Cowfriend on her kodo, me on my big pink chicken, standing on the brink of Terror Run. “Here’s the deal,” I said, “we’re here [map plink] and we need to be here [map plink]. Between us and our goal, is Terror Run. It’s full of a bunch of elite dinos we simply can’t take. So we’re going to have to run it. So, when I say go, peg it, as fast and hard as you can. Don’t look back, don’t stop for anything. If you get knocked off your mount, keep going, if I get knocked off my mount, keep going. Don’t be a hero. It’s every man … cow … elf … for himself. It’s the only way to survive.”

And then I spoiled it by giggling excitedly.

And, y’know, you’d think I’d have learned my lesson about every-man-for-himself strategies but anyway… off we went.

Go, pink chicken, go!

Aaaaand within about 10 seconds, I’d been knocked off. And there I was, a spindly little fire mage with excellent hair, stuck in the middle of Terror Run, with no hope in hell. It was at this moment precisely that I realised when I said “every man for himself” I really meant “if you get knocked off, I’ll run like a bastard but if I get knocked off, you come and help me.” But I’d said to keep going in all circumstances and I couldn’t set a bad example to my cowfriend protégé so, over the shaking, rumbling ground, I started to run.

Dinos to the left of me.

Dinos to the right of me.

Dinos right fucking behind me, taking enormous bites out of my arse.

I hit frost nova.

I hit blink.

I half turned round as I was running to blow dragon’s breath in the face, well toes, of my pursuers.

I blinked again.

And frost nova-ed.

And, again, and again.

The edges of the screen were bleeding to red through the sea-green mist (yes, I can still spare a dig for Arthas).

And, somehow, on something like 5% health I made it. The dinos got bored, decided I wasn’t worth it, lost sight of me, who knows, but they stopped chasing. The prettiest elf reeled against a tree, gasping for breath and suddenly realised I’d be holding my own, and my heart was pounding like I’d been the one fleeing the dinosaurs.

Silly, entirely silly of me, but such fun to lose yourself in a moment like that. But it’s for that kind of thing that I love WoW.

And, of course, I can now say that I literally ran Terror Run.



  1. I know what you mean about the slump, i’m pee’d at myself though, I just saw my bank statement saying “Blizzard thanks you for your 3 monthly subscription fee”.

    The annoying thing is i’m moving house, and won’t play a good month and a half of that.


    I often stand and enjoy the pixels, maybe thats why, in all my time playing, my highest leveled character is 78.

    *WOLK spolier*

    I think in all my time playing the best bit for me was last night when I was playing aorund in the dragonblight area, and got a cutscene in the middle of the game. I dont ever recall this happening other than at the start of rolling an alt.

    Artha’s, just got pwn’d by the scorge, and ran off, then I had to go and rescue undercity with Thrall and the banshee queeen.

    I wet my pants after that.

    Sure I didnt do all that much, but this “solo” aspect of the game REALLY got me excited about the lore, and how I got involved.


    Quite possibly the best solo experience to date.

    I think I may pop down to un’goro just to see if I can outrun some dinos now. Being an undead rogue, I imagine all they will see is some bones to eat, like a happy pppy dog, while I shout:

    “Sprint dammit!”

    Comment by Joe — July 23, 2009 @ 11:48 am | Reply

    • I don’t have an 80 either and I’ve, err, been playing for an embarrassing length of time. I’m an incredibly dithery player, but then since Wow is something I do, for, y’know *fun* and something into which I choose to pour my time, I’d thinks really important to remember that the levelling process is, y’know, *part of the game* rather than this annoying bowl of sprouts you have to eat before you’re allowed to be 80 and raid.

      Sorry to, err, self-link but I wasn’t mad keen on the Wrathgate (I bitched about it here: I didn’t mind the cutscene, Blizzard do awesome cutscenes, and I liked the lore but I HATED the lack of interactivity in the Battle for the Undercity. As you say, EPIC SLAYER OF NOT MUCH BUT THERE TO SEE IT GO DOWN. Or, in my case, Epic Sitter On The Steps Reading A Book While Thrall was awesome.

      I feel bit guilty about it because I suspected I just didn’t let myself get in the spirit of it but I genuinely feel lore is something that should *involve* you, not something you should watch unfold around you.

      Take the Shadow Labyrinth actually. The final boss is Murmur and there’s a huge story about him in the Codex of Blood ( – but basically he was the essence of sound, created alongside the universe right at the beginning of everything. The Shadow Council have (stupidly) raised him up, for their own dodgy purposes, but he’s not massively into the idea of being controlled, as godlike creatures from the beginning of time tend not to be.

      And, of course, you, your five man li’ll instance team, get to take him out. That felt genuinely epic to me in ways The Battle for the UC just didn’t.

      Comment by Tamarind — July 23, 2009 @ 9:32 pm | Reply

      • Ok, maybe I was a little over-excited about the cutscene part :p Having since run Black Morass last night for the first time with my gangly rogue and my friends lvl 80 huntard, it was a grovy fight, protecting medivah while he sat there wobbling his arms away at a pink portal. It wasn’t an awfully hard fight, the “pet” did most of the work, while I ate adds and kidney punched all the bigger kids. Still, I think that fight has me more invested than the UC one = more fun.
        The down side is my rubbish rogue is now quite close to 80.

        Maybe i’ll go see if any of these northend instances are what they’re craked up to be.

        Comment by Joe — July 24, 2009 @ 11:27 am

      • p.s. I forgot to add:

        silly silly shadow council, when will they ever learn?

        Comment by Joe — July 24, 2009 @ 11:28 am

      • Ah. Black Morass. Site of one our more mortifying fails. We didn’t realise it was a tower defense and therefore didn’t do so well without any DPS. So we got overwhelmed and the poor bastard got torn to shreds. Oops.

        I have to say – god I’m such a killjoy – wasn’t mad keen on the Northrend instances generally. They’re very much a long corridor with trash pull, boss, trash, pull. Except for DTK, of course, which contains the fuck off enormous dinosaur!

        Comment by Tamarind — July 24, 2009 @ 11:48 am

  2. Have I mentioned that I love your posts? You write really well, and I find I’m becoming a regular here.

    Terror Run: Nothing gets the blood flowing like a good old panicky sprint through hostile territory with big mean elites eating you for dinner one chomp at a time, eh? I love it. However, having “tank” ingrained in my bones, I have a somewhat suicidal tendency to jump to other people’s aid when I see them in such a situation, unless I realize it’s a warlock, or a death knight, or someone with a stupid name — but usually the instict to get the aggro off the poor sod kicks in before my brains do. Trying to get a fel reaver off a poor little level 70 with my only slightly higher-levelled dwarf warrior? Check, and squish. Charging my then-40-odd bear druid into a HUGE lynchmob of trolls chasing some human out of their ruins in good old Stranglethorn? Check, and squish. Playing a tank (well, two: the bear who is my main and the warrior) does something to your head, I swear.

    Shadow Labyrinth: At first I hated that place because it took so damn long, but it ended up becoming one of my favourite instances ever. The trash was challenging. The bosses were challenging. Teamwork was essential, and so was CC, and then it could still get hectic — but it sure felt good to face and pass those challenges. Beats the crap out of the boring AoE-AoE-AoE-AoE trash pulls in Wrath, without even trying. Man, I miss that instance. 😦 And I always got such a good laugh out of Blackheart the Inciter! I swear most people either loved him or hated and feared him; count ME in as a fan.

    The coming patch: Yeah I feel in a bit of a limbo too, not knowing when it will come, but overall I am looking forward to it. Why? Because I REALLY love the experience lock feature. Never could get why so many people mindlessly rush to the level cap instead of taking their time and smelling the roses when levelling (and they they whine there’s nothing left to do, go figure). Can it get extremely boring to do the same quests several times over? Yes. But sometimes I just look back at the now-outdated content, all those sad and empty zones and the quests there that I used to enjoy, and just want to recapture that experience with another alt, slowly … or as much as I can, anyway, with so many of the old elite enemies made into normals. (Poor things.) I just die a little inside every time someone states the game doesn’t start until 80 or until you start raiding. What nonsense. Blizzard catered to the speed-freaks with the crazy experience bonuses in the vanilla and TBC zones, with heirlooms and with that damn “hero class” starting at 58, so I’m glad they are catering to the other side of the fence now as well.

    The one thing I am NOT looking forward to are the new druid forms. If they fix the messed-up stance of the bears, those will be fine and dandy. But the night elf cats are just plain horrible. 😦

    Comment by Feralan — July 23, 2009 @ 12:30 pm | Reply

    • “Unless I realize it’s a warlock, or a death knight…”

      My two 80’s are a Warlock and a Death Knight. I guess this means I won’t be getting invited over for Christmas dinner? 😛

      Comment by Zaphind — July 23, 2009 @ 4:59 pm | Reply

      • Well, we already know you’re some kind of WoW aberration 🙂

        A DK who knows what he’s doing? Surely not!

        Comment by Tamarind — July 23, 2009 @ 9:37 pm

    • Thank you kindly for the compliment. I really enjoy reading your comments, so I’m thrilled at the idea of you becoming a regular 🙂

      You really are a natural tank, aren’t you? There’s definitely something about the nature of the tanking role and the required skill-set (psychological as well as literal) that makes me think tanks are born, not made. I have precisely the same healing impulse. Except what happens is I go rushing the heal rescue, the person I’ve rescued either doesn’t give a crap about or is ignorant of the way threat and healing work so he’ll inevitably just stand there, at full health and looking smug, while I get munched by the large group of whatever was attacking him. Sigh.

      Ah, Shadow Labyrinth is an excellent instance. It’s completely unforgiving but brilliant. I really really want to run it at level with a full party. Blackheart the Inciter (best. title. ever.) is a great boss, actually that whole is fabulous. What are they teaching in there? The malicious instructors in particularly – are they instructors who are malicious, or do they instruct one in malice? I like to think it’s the latter. Of course Grandmaster V. was our particular nemesis. I definitely still hate and fear him 🙂

      I’ll be interested to see how (and if) the experience locks change the game – I hope it will enliven those old, dusty zones. I’m genuinely shocked at how quickly my cow druid has shot through Outland. I’ve done hardly any quests but just on healing instances I’m nearly ready for Northrend. *cries* I don’t want to go to Northrend!

      As for nelf cat form – pah! Now you know how Taurens have felt all these years 😉

      Comment by Tamarind — July 23, 2009 @ 9:47 pm | Reply

  3. I’ve been to Un’Goro at least eight times on as many different characters while leveling and I have never in life seen the tree in that picture before. That’s wild.

    Comment by Twonationarmy — July 23, 2009 @ 2:11 pm | Reply

    • It’s awesome isn’t it? I can’t remember quite where it was – near the start of Terror Run. But I saw it and I thought “I HAVE to get a screenshot of that. I’m sure it’ll come in handy one day.” And, hey, it did 😉

      Comment by Tamarind — July 23, 2009 @ 9:49 pm | Reply

  4. I smiled at the Red Dwarf reference!

    I dislike Umbongo Crater (as we called it) but mostly because of Touche, a night elf hunter. He ganked me, a poor little defenceless warlock. Repeatedly. Unfortunately for him, I had good friends in the guild to call in! My friend Santorc, a rogue a few levels higher than both me and Touche, comes over to give this hunter a taste of his own medicine. Said hunter kills him in seconds. And proceeds to gank us both at will. He was a very skilled player. Shame he was a dick.

    So anyway, Umbongo is not my favourite zone, especially given the entrance is far south east and the flight path is far to the north. 🙂

    Comment by Sierro — July 23, 2009 @ 2:28 pm | Reply

    • I’m glad somebody got the reference, I just threw it out there and hoped people wouldn’t think I’d gone mad 🙂

      I could see that sort of experience would ruin Umbongo for you. It is quite badly designed in some respects – long trek to the flight path, as you say, but I think if you get into the Lost World vibe and take having to run for miles through misty, dinosaur infested jungle in order to get to base camp as part of that, it can be a lot of fun.

      Although I suspect that whatever it is that makes certain zones stick out in your mind as being your favourites is largely arbitrary – less to do with the zone itself than the experiences you had there, or whether a certain quest chain caught your imagination.

      Comment by Tamarind — July 23, 2009 @ 9:53 pm | Reply

      • Don’t get me wrong though – dinosaurs are the coolest thing in this game! Who would have thought they’d fit into a swords and sorcery so well? First thing I’ll be doing in 3.2 is getting myself a ravasaur mount! Guess I’ll be back off to Umbongo 🙂

        Comment by Sierro — July 24, 2009 @ 12:26 am

  5. My Dearest Tam…er, prettiest elf. I sincerely hope that there was a wonderful soundtrack, perhaps composed by the likes of John Williams, Howard Shore or Micheal Kamen, accompanying this terrifying journey!

    Dammit! Now I’ve got the title theme from Robin Hood Prince of Thieves in my noggin! Curse those french horns! Curse them I say!

    Comment by Beruthiel — July 23, 2009 @ 3:55 pm | Reply

    • If there was a soundtrack, I fear it would be entirely bathetic and comedic – probably the theme from Curb Your Enthusiasm as I blinked my way to victory. Tam would never have let himself get into that kind of situation, the prettiest elf is not renowned for his brain power.

      I’m not sure I can remember the theme from Robin Hood – but I do remember the young Alan Rickman snarling and drawling 🙂

      Comment by Tamarind — July 23, 2009 @ 4:08 pm | Reply

      • I’m hearing the Benny Hill music myself, especially because of the blinking… it’s reminiscent of that super-speeded-up jerky motion.

        Comment by Zaphind — July 23, 2009 @ 5:02 pm

      • That would work too 🙂

        Comment by Tamarind — July 23, 2009 @ 5:48 pm

  6. I still don’t get how those huge devilsaurs manage to sneak up on you. I never see them coming until it’s too late.

    Comment by Liadan — July 23, 2009 @ 5:07 pm | Reply

    • Yeah, I always wondered about that. I always saw it as part of the fun. But I guess they are either wearing bunny slippers or hiding behind the trees.

      I seem to recall that in Jurassic Park, they claim a T-rex won’t be able to see you if you stand still. Because it’s like that in WoW except in reverse. Whenever you look at a devilsaur, it stands completely still and, therefore, you can’t see it.

      Comment by Tamarind — July 23, 2009 @ 5:48 pm | Reply

  7. Un’Goro has to be my favorite zone, hands down. I know a lot of people complain about it, but it’s very well set up for efficient leveling. Go through to the one quest hub, pick up your eleventy-million quests, and work your way around clockwise just killing everything you see. I always stop by there around 54 or so and get several levels out of it in a single afternoon. Unfortunately, it never gets me all the way to Outland, so I find myself puttering around doing random things the rest of the time.

    I’ve long since learned where all the devilsaur walk paths are, not so much a conscious thing as a tingle on the back of my neck that says “I’d better be careful around here” coming from far too many times they have ganked me there in the past. But the sad thing is, when you’re actually LOOKING for a devilsaur (say, for a druid quest), they’re nigh-impossible to find, but the little island in the northwest is always a good place to start.

    Comment by Kiryn — July 23, 2009 @ 5:58 pm | Reply

    • People complain about Un’Goro? How can they?! It has dinosaurs in it!

      I think the lost world feel of Un’Goro can be genuinely disorientating. I mean the whole zone is set up to take you a long way from base camp and strand you in the wilderness, surrounded by hostile dinosaurs. The best way to do the quests is, as you say, to traverse the whole zone but I guess if you’re used to zigzagging back and forth to town regularly it might feel a bit overwhelming.

      I like though. It feels genuinely dangerous.

      I always do Un’Goro and then the Plaguelands – I LOVE the Plaguelands, as well. So tragic!

      You obviously have some kind of mystic devilsaur spotting power… I am smooshed quite regularly. It seems to be part of the experience for me. Also, of all the ways to die, getting stood on by a fuck off enormous dinosaur is more satisfying than “fell off lift” or “got shot to death by trogs.”

      Comment by Tamarind — July 23, 2009 @ 10:00 pm | Reply

  8. Do you find yourself yelling “Time for fun!!” periodically now as well? I haven’t run Shadow Labs in ages, but I still yell, “Time for fun!” every time my priest MCs someone in a battleground. (I also cackle, “I have now become more powerful than you can possibly imagine!” every time I die and Spirit of Redemption kicks in, but I think that’s just me.)

    Comment by Sharon — July 23, 2009 @ 8:35 pm | Reply

    • Hehe. Yes, actually, I do. I’m quite fond of I SEE DEAD PEOPLE as well. He’s a fantastic, really memorable boss.

      I tend to see Spirit of Redemption as the Angel of Fail so, uh, it inspires less cackling…

      Comment by Tamarind — July 23, 2009 @ 9:55 pm | Reply

  9. I remember Ungorro leveling my warrior way before BC. That place was insane. Tons of mobs aggroing at every turn. And warriors could not take more than one mob at a time at that level. I died….alot. Most times to those damn Ravasaurs that stealth like rogues….well they dont really stealth, but how the fuck did it get behind me?!?!

    I remember running thru terror run safely to get to one of the pylons….them getting killed as I was overwhelmed by pterrodax…..facepalm.

    Comment by Darraxus — July 24, 2009 @ 1:22 am | Reply

    • It is pretty tough, especially if you’re levelling alone. And you’re right dinosaurs are *remarkably* strealthy creatures for being, y’know, great big galumping reptiles. On the other hand, I don’t mind getting killed by dinosaurs. It seems inherently more exciting than getting killed by, y’know, trogs or pigs 🙂

      That west pylon was cruel!

      Comment by Tamarind — July 24, 2009 @ 11:21 am | Reply

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