HoTs and DoTs: A Restoration Druid and Shadow Priest

Revisting Blackfathom Deeps

Critical Debate: Are Paladins superior tanks compared to Warriors, in Blackfathom Deeps, at level 25?

Hot topic: Are Paladins superior compared to Warriors, for tanking Blackfathom Deeps, at level 25?

Absolutely ages ago (well six months ago) Lathere and I struggled to find our way around Scholomance. We were trying to do quick Argent Dawn rep runs and found ourselves running in circles instead hoping to magically unlock gates and doors. It doesn’t help that I have a terrible sense of direction both in game and in RL.

Even with a map open from WowWiki or the like, I would still get lost in Scholomance. All I want to see is a clear path that shows me where I start, in what direction to reach the first boss, how to reach the second boss etc etc. In the end I made up my own colour-coded diagram for Scholomance. Today I made one for Blackfathom Deeps.

I’ve queued the Random Classic Dungeon for my little baby Mage (currently level 25) a few times over the last couple of days. I’ve been sent to Stockades most frequently, and those runs have been pretty damn good. But when I was dropped into Blackfathom Deeps it was… an experience.

I’ve run Blackfathom Deeps two or three times over the last three years. I did complete it once with a level appropriate party of 20-somethings when I was leveling Xata. Cassandri did a run through at level 80 for a couple of achievements. So I remembered it very, very vaguely. I knew there was swimming, sink holes, turtles, murlocs and cultists. And an “event” that if not handled correctly will not let you through to the final boss. The layout of the instance is really a big watery cavern with several corridors radiating out from the center. When you run south from the entrance into that main cavern you want to clear each corridor in a counter-clockwise manner. The final corridor branches off to the south and then east. Map below.

The Map

Blackfathom Deeps map with travel path and bosses marked

Blackfathom Deeps map with travel path and bosses marked. Click to enlarge.

The bosses are:

  1. Ghamoo-ra You won’t have any problems spotting this big turtle.
  2. Lady Sarevess
  3. Gelihast After you kill him, touch the altar behind his body for a small buff.
  4. Lorgus Jett Multiple spawn points.
  5. Baron Aquanis
  6. Old Serra’kis We skipped him by mistake, but to reach him you need to jump off the stone ramp leading east into the final temple and swim underneath and then north.
  7. Twilight Lord Kelris Make sure you clear this whole room then one by one light the braisers around the center square and kill the mobs that spawn. Until you complete this event you cannot go through the doors to the final boss.
  8. Aku’mai You made it!

The Run

Frankly I’d have preferred it if the WoW Gods of Randomness had given me a difficult party to complete Stockades and a good party to complete Blackfathom Deeps. But it didn’t quite work out that way. Let’s see if I can remember the members:

Leader. Priest. Queued to heal but made people eat food so that they could spend the entire time in combat attacking creatures with a staff instead of actually… healing. After the first wipe one party member left and we were forced to requeue and the Priest was then assigned to DPS. They continued melee attacking mobs with their staff until about the half way (1+ hour in) point when I broke down and said “Moretotems is healing now so you can Smite to help kill our target now”. Once we reached the cultists (last 2 bosses) they suddenly learned how to play and it turns out that they had been AFK for the previous hour and had gotten their little cousin to take the controls up til that point. Thanks. Oh yeah, apparently has 5-10 level 80s.

Resto Shaman. Our replacement healer. Fantastic.

Warrior Tank. Possibly a first time player, definitely a first time tank. They did their best, but struggled to hold aggro and seemed more comfortable when other players did the pulling for them. By about half way through I stopped putting up skulls to mark the way and instead (along with the Shaman healer) just started pulling.

Melee Shaman. Convinced that somehow the run would have been so much easier if we just got a Paladin instead of a Warrior tank. And hey, we should listen to him because he has a level 80 and his gear score is like nearly 6k.

Me. An ignorant Mage who has frosty talents and generates a whole heap of threat. My Mage Trainer won’t give me the How to Ice Block lesson no matter how much I /beg. Fortunately I have lots of health pots and bandages. I am willing to Polymorph, although nobody seems to like it when I suggest it.

Actually I’m really surprised at how resistant to CCing players are in groups this time around. It’s a really noticeable difference in grouping since I last leveled a character. But perhaps that’s a topic for another day.

Towards the end of the instance while I was trying to gently teach our friendly Warrior tank about line of sight pulls, we wiped. And let me tell you it’s a really awful spirit run back from the southern point of Darkshore. During that run the Priest and the DPS Shaman got into a heated debate about whether or not a Paladin would have made a better tank for Blackfathom Deeps than the Warrior we had and why Ret is cool even though it’s hard not to hate how OP it is while leveling and, you guessed it, who has the most tricked out number of level 80s.

Because, of course, the player with the most impressive main character automatically wins any argument. I tend to believe that it’s mostly lies and exaggeration, and very little fact. Quoting your (conveniently absent) main’s gear score is actually lamer than … well, I think that’s the possibly the worst use of Gear Score I’ve come across so far!

If I remember correctly at that level my Paladin didn’t have any other method of pulling mobs except by just wading in and auto attacking, or getting in close enough for a Judgement. Rank 1 Consecration is available at level 20. But our Warrior had Thunder Clap so they definitely had some ability to handle multiple mobs at once. I found this “a Paladin would be so much better at tanking this” pretty baffling. It’s a baffling to take that attitude at level 80 – all the tanking classes get equivalent abilities. And we’re talking level 25, here!

It was a really long run. And I think we accidentally skipped a boss (Old Serra’kis) towards the end.

Still, it’s better than Gnomeregan. And the XP was pretty sweet. The rare reward you earn from using the Dungeon Finder to complete the Random Classic Dungeon has given me a rare piece of armor each time – and every time it’s been a piece that I can equip, even if sometimes the stats aren’t right for me (eg, a +strength cloak).

ps. I dusted off my Blood Elf Paladin (level 23, created at the start of the Burning Crusade) to take that screen capture above. Gosh it was fun soloing all those elites! I just might spend some more time with her…

14 Responses to “Revisting Blackfathom Deeps”

  1. MetaneiraNo Gravatar says

    I’m leveling a second warrior (Horde-side this time) and have been doing LFG as a tank. I will tell you right now that tanking at the low levels, even with thunderclap, is extremely challenging — my AOE threat abilities are very, very minimal compared to what my group’s DPSers can put out. People don’t wait for threat to be established, ranged DPSers feel completely comfortable chain-pulling, and I often have healers who don’t know what they’re doing (like the druid who didn’t use a single HOT the entire SFK run). I’m a very good tank, if I may say so, and I’ve been doing all right at managing these runs, but it’s a lot different than when I first leveled. We would mark mobs, pull slowly, let tanks establish threat, use multiple types of CC. The game has changed a bit, obviously, but level 30 warriors don’t have the kind of abilities that we need to chain pull and keep the mobs off of everyone. The amusing thing is that in almost every single group I’ve done — and I haven’t quested hardly at all since 15 — I’ve been top DPS. As a fully prot-specced warrior in defensive stance. Go go heirlooms!

    The items always match my armor class, but I end up with MP5 and spellpower gear more often than not. The necklaces vendor for 3.5g each, though, which *must* be a mistake — the gloves vendor for about 50 silver. Still, it’s great to have some really well-itemized pieces early on, when you get lucky enough to receive something that works for you.

    Hope you’re enjoying the mage class! If you have any questions, please let me know — Ais and I love talking mages. ;)
    .-= Metaneira’s last blog … Mage Lang Syne =-.

  2. LifedeathsoulNo Gravatar says

    To be honest? I think Paladins at the lower levels really do have it easy when you are doing the whole mad rush, pew pew lasers firing style of AOEing down everything. Consecration helps you get the aggro of the entire group and locks it down solid. The only way to pull aggro of the Paladin tank? Blizzard from a frost mage. That’s what I have been seeing so far on my Priest alt.

    But, once you hit the BC levels? A well played Warrior tank is so much better than any given pally tank at that level. By 60+ the Warrior would often finally get the hang of tanking, and he will truly be a marvel to play with :)

  3. CongiNo Gravatar says

    I’ve been leveling my paladin a _lot_ in instances lately. I started at level 30 and I’m now up to 50. Even specced Ret I’m finding paladin tanking relatively easy. A warrior has a lot more work to do whereas I just have to lay down a consecrate and mobs stick to me really well. That may change in later levels but for the moment it’s relatively easy.

    Pugging in this way is always an experience. You get all sorts. From those who like telling you exactly how many mobs you should tank at a time to DPS who like to pull before the tank.

    I tend to like running with inexperienced groups. The alts of 6000 GS mains are frequently arrogant PITAs. Most of the inexperienced groups seem to be greatful for the odd bit of advice you provide.

  4. CynwiseNo Gravatar says

    I love running low level instances on my twinks. BFD is actually a great instance to run — don’t forget to pick up the Gravestone Scepter from the quest in the room off of the Turtle Boss. It’s the single best DPS wand you can get for about 15 levels and is highly sought after in the 19 bracket.

    One of the things I’ve noticed in playing a lot of low-level characters of late is how you can’t take your endgame preconceptions and apply them to level 20 characters. My 19 mage is not a Frost mage, she’s a mage, with a little bit better control spells than some. Other mages might be a little better at doing damage. You don’t play an Affliction, Destruction, or Demonology warlock at level 20 — you play a Warlock. You’re just starting to get class-defining abilities, and the talent tree investments aren’t really enough to change your playstyle yet. It’s really quite liberating, but also a little hard to get your head as you level.

    That said, I absolutely adore tanking on my 19 twink Warrior. The suite of tanking tools already available at that level is more than enough to hold through some of the tough pulls through DM and WC. I tanked BFD on my 22 Pally, and it was a much less visceral experience — I felt like I was basically using about two abilities when I wanted to use five. Still fun, but on my warrior I am an aggro rock, even with AoE spells. My Pally’s hold on aggro felt softer. I think I need more experience with her, which will probably mean freezing her leveling at level 29.

    P.S. You can sheep my caster mobs anytime. I hate some of those LoS pulls in the early instances.
    .-= Cynwise’s last blog … PvP For Profit =-.

  5. AleanathemNo Gravatar says

    This is so far the only instance I’ve wiped on my alt warrior while tanking. I’ve even done a Gnomergan run without a wipe. Doesn’t help she’s Arms spec for leveling. It was the first instance I ever tanked on my first druid. That place has a lot of memories. Thanks for the awesome map help!
    .-= Aleanathem’s last blog … Late Night Ramblings =-.

  6. TamNo Gravatar says

    Low level instances are *punishing* – I think they’re fun, but I don’t quite have the necessary bollocks to try them with people from the Sanity Tap. And this sounds like it would have infuriated me beyond all reason – I can’t believe people are bickering over warriors versus paladins in a level 23 instance. It’s crazy! And as for the priest who was afk, letting his little cousin play – what the hell?!
    .-= Tam’s last blog … LF DPS RFC Link Achie Will Check Armoury =-.

  7. CassandriNo Gravatar says

    @Cyn You’re absolutely right. I don’t think of myself as a Frost Mage at level 25. I am a Mage and I have cheaper-to-cast frost spells. I probably shouldn’t have labelled the Shaman in the party a Resto Shaman either. Although I intentionally chose not to apply spec labels to the priest, shaman and warrior.

    I did do a run through of Gnomeregan the other day with a level 29 Mage who, after the first couple of pulls, told me not to cast Blizzard because it was too expensive in terms of mana, then tried to quiz me about my “spec”, presumably to offer advice or correct me for choosing wrong talents. He didn’t get the joke when I said I was 0/0/0, either.

  8. VidyalaNo Gravatar says

    That is a seriously awesome map/diagram. I know this is completely off-topic, but I think your blog is one of the nicest looking ones I read. I love the comments in different colours. I’m not sure if you or Lath (or both of you) take care of that, but I’ve always thought it looks great.

    I agree; I’ll take a great group for BFD over a great group for Stocks any day. Fortunately for me, BFD is one of the few classic instances I ran enough at level to remember my way around – I get hopelessly lost in all the others (read: Gnomeregan.)
    .-= Vidyala’s last blog … Go Gnome or Go Home =-.

  9. ChastityNo Gravatar says

    FWIW Pallies can pull at lowish levels now with their exciting damage-dealing Taunt and the now-usable-on-anybody Exorcism. All of which came out long after my pally was 80 :(

    I really hate people who brag about their mains. It’s like that Avenue Q song My Girlfriend, Who Lives in Canada. “I wish you could see my main, my main who’s on another server…” If nothing else, how does your ability to faceroll your way to Triumph gear on Class A in any way give you the ability to play Class B at level 20? Much less to diagnose what would be the best hypothetical tank for a hypothetical instance run?

    I kinda love BRD. It’s one of those old-school instances that feels like a place with stuff in it, instead of an instance designed conveniently to present you with linear encounters. It’s little things like the altar behind Gelihast, which gives you a buff which is almost completely useless, but seems to be there because it’s what you might expect to get from a Murloc shrine. And some of the trash pulls are genuinely hard.

    I can’t understand the aversion to CC these days. It’s like people would rather wipe than pay attention. I am reminded of that line from the Simposons: “Son, you tried your best, and you failed. The moral is – never try.”
    .-= Chastity’s last blog … LF DPS RFC Link Achie Will Check Armoury =-.

  10. CassandriNo Gravatar says

    @Chastity You’re so right about Exorcism… I don’t even have that on my main spell bar. I’ll have to take a look to find this taunt you mentioned. Perhaps I need to visit a Paladin Trainer.

    @Vidyala Thank you for the compliments! I’m not entirely sure how the comments come out multi-coloured but I think it might have just been a built in feature of the template we’re using. Lath did modify the default colours to match the class colours for WoW, though.

    Now if only I could add in a custom field in the comments section to allow readers to select their Character Class… then I could display their comment in the right colour. As long as like 5 Priests don’t all comment in a row it probably would look pretty cool!

  11. ultraNo Gravatar says

    haha loved reading this one :)

  12. ChastityNo Gravatar says

    I’m not sure but I’m pretty sure you get Hand of Righteousness at level 16. It’s something I really wished I’d had for those first forty or fifty levels when you can’t pull in instances.

    I’d add that unlike every other Taunt in the game, the Pally Taunt deals not-insignificant Holy damage. One of my favourite games now is to run around low-level areas and call monsters names SO HARD THEY DIE.
    .-= Chastity’s last blog … LF DPS RFC Link Achie Will Check Armoury =-.

  13. CassandriNo Gravatar says

    Hmm “hand of righteousness”. Someone ought to make a Paladin spell name generator.

    First word:
    Hand, Blessing, Seal, Judgement, Hammer… Touch… Kiss

    Second word:
    Of

    Third word:
    Righteousness, Sanctity, Devotion, Light, Salvation… Divinity?

    No wonder it gets confusing.

  14. ChastityNo Gravatar says

    I was seriously considering a post along those very lines, because there are very few names left for Paladin Spells now.

    I think we’re so far missing an Avenger’s Hammer, and … actually that’s about it.
    .-= Chastity’s last blog … gosh =-.

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