It’s been a busy weekend.

First off, one of the interesting (in a good way…) parts of the new patch is a pair of brand-new related raid instances. Well, okay, only intellectually interesting to me, but to get at them on any particular server, the players on it have to turn in staggering amounts materials, as part of big event to open the gates that block access to half the area of Silithus. Better yet, Alliance and Horde have their own goals, and the flavor text explicitly state that both sides are working together for a large offensive to do something about the Silithid infestation spreading throughout southern Kalimdor.

It was a little disappointing to see Uther way behind in the standings. I mean, it’s an old and (over)populated server, I’d figure it’d be up near the forefront, not at #108. But that’s all right, it gives me and the rest of the crew time to help out and get a share in the rewards. And as of today, Uther is #20, more like what I had expected. It interesting to note that the high-level stuff is mostly going first, I figure at the end, the low-level items will just blink from about half-way to 100%. Also, the fact that the Alliance side is going faster than the Horde, might encourage a few people to start up Horde characters on an imbalanced server.

I think it would be very interesting to see this process on a new server where most everyone is still working their levels up, you could see progress of the population as the harder items start getting turned in.

On Friday, Coppercheetah and Jareth held a small WoW party, and we ended up putting a couple “third-tier” members (Shrimpette & Jariedthe) through Gnomeregan. Jareth was worried about being too high-level to bother, but once in, had a good time. The other three members, all being “second generation” members, made the party way overlevel (52, 45, 36 I think). We still managed one party wipe when we managed to get the entire final trench on us (Shrimpette, barely in range for Gnomergan, seems to have aggroed one, and, well, the rest followed him around to us). Other than that, we got quests done, saw the sights and had a grand time in one of the finer instances.

The other thing scheduled for this weekend was a Sunken Temple run. Most of the quests for Sunken Temple are the ends of involved chains, so most of Saturday was taken up by various high-level guild members running around trying to get all the prerequisites out of the way. For me, this included a lot of time on a hunter-specific quest that goes down into Sunken Temple, but relies on an annoyingly rare drop first. The good news was that Dunain finally has a decent source of Thorium from this, and not only is his Blacksmithing starting to go forward again, but his Mining has finally maxed out at 300.

I’ve gotten this idea that high-level instances, and much of the high-level game, just isn’t as fun as say, levels 20-40. Scarlet Monastery felt a little empty to me. Zul’Ferrak fell a bit flat. Last night proved me wrong. We had a grand time. The top five guild characters went in: Blanc (57), Dunain (55), Dejek (54?), Gottesfaust (53), and Blondiewood (52). The temple is indeed sunken, sitting on the floor of the Swamp of Sorrows. The front entrance is flooded, but the rest goes down an air pocket under the water level, and is suitably ‘damp’ feeling.

It was atmospheric, large (we got lost a couple times), and reasonably tough. This particular group has done a few instances now, and I think it’s showing. There were some very tough bits, and some fights towards the end that were… too exciting for healthy living. But we generally made them go right, and pulled through. At one point towards the end, we had a death, and Blondiewood got her second combat rez, so that ended well. The penultimate boss, the Avatar of Hakkar fight (whose temple this was), went very well. During all of this, Lance (the pet) had leveled, along with Blanc, Blondiewood and Dejek.

So we went on to the final fight, the Shade of Eranikus, picking up my Hunter quest on the way. Eranikus was the Green Dragon that is charged with sealing Hakkar, the Troll’s blood god, out of the world. He’s insanely tough, but we knew what to expect (thank you for online guides), and we had a plan. We were about as prepared as we could be.

We wiped. Eranikus was about halfway down. For me, things went wrong when he decided I was the second biggest threat instead of the rogue, Dejek. Considering I was avoiding any special abilities, that was a surprise. His first hit taking me down by two-thirds was also a surprise, since in mail armor I can off-off-tank on occasion (poor use of a hunter, but it means I can survive long enough for the pet to get control of the situation again). Long story short, I didn’t think to feign until two seconds after I was dead.

So, run back in, modify the plan, and try again. We tried an even more cautious approach. As long as the priest and druid could keep things somewhat under control, it worked. But it was not a stable situation, and they did run out of mana, and we wiped after getting Eranikus down by two-thirds and I had feigned three times.

By this point, we’d been at it for about six hours, and it was getting late on a Sunday night. There was serious talk of thinking things over and trying again on another night. We decided that the last fight had taken too long, and went in for one more try with a much heavier hitting approach.

Well, that wasn’t so stable either. The fight wandered all over the chamber with various characters trying to keep up. I went for rare Aimed Shots instead of a constant stream of normal shot, hoping for a critical (about 1000 HP these days), and ready to feign if I did. Control of the fight was lost early and the healers went down. But before Eranikus could get rid of any of the rest of us… we got him instead. (Dejek commented “So… the winning strategy is let the healers die.”)

I also noticed that somewhere in the final parts of the instance, I’d missed seeing a golden glow. Yes, that’s right.

Lance leveled twice last night. After having fallen behind some from bunches of quest turn-ins, he’s now back at my level.

Dunain started the night really early in 55, and is now well over half way. I had to quit last night before doing most of the quest turn-ins, so I’ll see the final tally tonight. But at a guess, I won’t level from the quests either. I’ll just be really close.

Eranikus also generates a little quest that it is believed will lead to more, but they haven’t been created yet. However, it does explain something about all the Green Dragonflight world-encounters that were put in a while ago. Also, Zul’Gurub is the original capital of the Trolls and where Hakkar was originally summoned to Azeroth, and where some are trying again. So both of those things are, content-wise, sequels to this instance. Unfortunately, they both require large raid parties, so I don’t expect to do anything with them.

But, I think I’ll read up on them anyway.