WoW Archivist: Timewalking dungeons of the Burning Crusade

In the WoW Archivist column, we take you back in time to another era of the game. In patch 6.2, Blizzard is offering a way to do that literally. Called “Timewalking,” the feature will allow us to run legacy dungeons with scaled-down stats and relevant rewards.

The first ten Timewalking dungeons will be taken from The Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King, five from each expansion. For now, we’re focusing on the five from The Burning Crusade. Let’s examine each one to remember what the original version was like and what was notable about it. We’ll also cover what you might want to look for as you go back in time.

The Arcatraz

  • The concept: An interdimensional Naaru prison, taken over by Kael’thas, who hasn’t been the most attentive jail-keeper…
  • Year: 2007
  • Bosses: 4
  • Faction: The Sha’tar
  • Notable loot: Vileblade of the Betrayer

Millhouse Manastorm has been one of WoW‘s most enduring tertiary (quaternary?) characters. He’s popped up in a lot of places over the years. He joined the Twilight’s Hammer cult during Cataclysm and made appearances in Deepholm and Stonecore. We fought him as an opponent in the Brawler’s Guild. Now he’s a follower and a Hearthstone card, but he first appeared in WoW lore in The Arcatraz.

He debuted as a prisoner here, freed by Warden Mellichar to destroy the intrepid adventurers infiltrating the prison. After the warden insults him, however, Manastorm assists you instead. In order to obtain the key to TBC‘s raid The Eye, you had to keep Manastorm alive as you defeated the unleashed Qiraji prophet, Harbinger Skyriss.

The Arcatraz has great lore/atmosphere and fun moments: the drama of a jailbreak, bosses who bicker with each other, and Millhouse himself. But it was not especially popular during The Burning Crusade. If you wanted to farm badges (TBC‘s version of valor points) or primals for crafting, other dungeons were faster, with easier bosses. You also needed to clear both the Mechanar and the Botanica to obtain the key to the Arcatraz. Prior to the dungeon finder, getting groups to run the specific dungeons that you needed wasn’t always easy (unless you were a tank).

Tips:

  • Zereketh is technically optional (or at least he was at 70). You can skirt around him without aggroing him.
  • Dalliah the Doomsayer has a debuff called Gift of the Doomsayer. It heals her whenever the person with the debuff is healed. Healers need to minimize healing on debuffed targets, and DPS should put healing debuffs on Dalliah.
  • Wrath-Scryer Soccothrates. Has any boss had such a mouthful for a name before or since? He has invisible mobs in his room. Make sure you clear them all before pulling him.
  • Skyriss is released only after you defeat several other prisoners, which are let loose at random. Watch out for his Mind Control ability. He also clones himself, so mark the original and kill the copies. If Skyriss and his clone both cast Mind Rend on you in Heroic, use a personal cooldown or you are likely to die.

Temporus emerges from a portalBlack Morass

  • The concept: Preserve the timeline as Medivh opens the Dark Portal
  • Year: 2007
  • Bosses: 3
  • Faction: Keepers of Time
  • Notable loot: Quantum Blade

The Burning Crusade introduced the first Caverns of Time dungeons and raids to show off key turning points in WoW history. The first such dungeon players encountered was Old Hillsbrad Foothills, in which you helped the future warchief Thrall escape from slavery at Durnholde Keep. Black Morass was the second, and it was a unique dungeon for its time.

Instead of following a set path through a location, you had to defend Medivh from the infinite dragonflight in one relatively small area. The dragonflight attacked through portals. Eighteen portals opened in all, with a boss at every six. The concept would later be repurposed in Wrath‘s Violet Hold dungeon. Assuming you had the DPS to keep up, you got small breaks between portals, but otherwise the dungeon was relentless.

It was also the last step in attunement for Karazhan, so everyone wanted to run it, but few succeeded at first. If you fell behind in any way (especially if one of your party members died without a combat rez), your tank would get overwhelmed by adds, your healer would run out of mana, and that would be the end. Black Morass broke many a dungeon group in early TBC. Earning your Kara key meant you’d survived this place. It was even more fun for height-challenged gnomes, who at first weren’t tall enough to run through the pools of the Morass. They had to swim around the battlefield, yelling “Wait for me!”

Tips:

  • I’m not sure if Blizzard will leave this part in, but in the original version each party member could loot a Chrono-Beacon from an NPC at the entrance to help during tough moments of the run. Keep an eye out for that — you really don’t want to wipe in this place!
  • The second boss Temporus stacks a debuff on your tank that reduces healing received. In early TBC, some players used an obscure quest reward trinket called Luffa to remove the debuff. That no longer works (and the item is no longer available). Instead, the tank should focus on evasion. Casters should dispel Temporus’s Hasten buff and stop attacking when he puts up Spell Reflection.
  • The final boss Aeonus has a wicked AOE stun that leaves your tank vulnerable and your healer unable to do anything but watch as the tank’s health plummets. Keep HOTs and shields on the tank.

Ethereals in Mana TombsMana-Tombs

  • The concept: A greedy splinter group of ethereals are exploiting Auchidoun’s mana-rich ruins
  • Year: 2007
  • Bosses: 3 (optional 4th in Heroic)
  • Faction: The Consortium
  • Notable loot: The Fel Barrier

Eight years later, and we’re still waiting for a playable Ethereal race. In the meantime, we can go to the Mana-Tombs and beat up on them.

Many PUGs gave up on Heroic Mana-Tombs runs before downing a single boss. The first encounter, Pandemonius, did insane AOE damage prior to nerfs in patch 2.1. Players brought every additional target they could to the fight, even Snake Trap snakes, to soak some of his Void Bolts. Stacking shadow resistance was also a big help. Let’s hope Blizzard keeps the 2.1 numbers, because stacking shadow resist is a tad tricker these days.

The second boss Tavarok was neither challenging nor interesting, but he was one of the first bosses you could mine after killing.

The Heroic-only optional boss Yor could be released from his prison and defeated. He dropped epic rings. You could release him with either the permanent item Eye of Haramad (by becoming exalted with the Consortium and completing the quest of the same name) or the one-charge use Shaffar’s Stasis Chamber Key (via the repeatable quest Nexus-Prince Shaffar’s Personal Chamber at revered). Yor is a fairly simple tank-and-spank boss, and he wasn’t in the dungeon until patch 2.1. It’s possible Blizzard may either upgrade his abilities or remove him from the Timewalking version.

Become a Watcher

In the pre-dungeon-finder era, it was difficult to get a group for Mana-Tombs because many tanks hated this place. Several mobs have aggro dropping abilities that make the dungeon a headache for tanks.

Tips:

  • Don’t pull too many Mana Leeches at once. They die with an arcane AOE that can melt melee DPS.
  • Pandemonius and Tavarok can be skipped.
  • Many of the mobs in bosses’ rooms are linked to the nearby boss, including many mobs in Shaffar’s room. Clear carefully.
  • Stop DPS on Pandemonius when he casts Dark Shell to reflect damage. You can kill yourself with burst. In the original version, damage from hunter shots was not reflected. We’ll see if that stands in the Timewalking version.
  • Kill Shaffar’s beacons ASAP, or they will summon adds. Melee should save snare breaking abilities like Dash for his Frost Nova/Blink combo. Melee should always prioritize adds because they won’t Blink away.

Dead bodies in front of RokmarThe Slave Pens

During The Burning Crusade, simply finding the entrance to Slave Pens and the other Vashj-centered dungeons took a heroic effort. There was no dungeon finder to teleport you there. You had to fly out to Zangarmarsh, swim to the bottom of a lake, find a small opening, and then navigate a vine-choked, claustrophobia-inducing passageway while running out of air. Many players didn’t realize that you could breathe from the bubbles leaking out of the pipe. (And keep in mind, the breath timers were way shorter in those days.) Thousands died trying to find the dungeon portals.

The first boss Mennu wasn’t terribly difficult. The second boss Rokmar was the make or break encounter for most groups in TBC. Your success depended almost entirely on the healer. Rokmar placed DOTs on the party that could only be removed by healing a player to full. He did an AOE frost attack to ensure that everyone was taking damage, and the tank took huge melee hits too. Everyone that had healing or damage reduction had to help the party’s healer with this one. So many Rokmar kills came down to one person staying alive long enough to finish him off after the rest of the group had died.

During patch 2.4, Blizzard added Lord Ahune as a holiday boss for the Midsummer Fire Festival. It would be fun to face a challenging Heroic version of Ahune in the Timewalking version of Slave Pens, after Blizzard removed the Heroic version of him during Wrath. I’d say the odds are slim, however.

Slave Pens was a fairly popular dungeon in TBC. It was one of the shorter and less challenging dungeons, especially if you had a good healer, and thus easy to farm for badges and primals. The Heroic version of Slave Pens contained a quest that was part of the attunement for the Serpentshrine Cavern raid.

Tips:

  • If you don’t attack the Broken slaves, they’ll flee after you kill their masters.
  • Kite Mennu away from his totems. Don’t attack Corrupted Nova Totem, since that will trigger its AOE fire spell.
  • Ironically, although Rokmar is a lobstrok, he doesn’t like the water. Your group can jump off his platform into the water to reset him if the pull goes awry.
  • Free Naturalist Bite, the night elf in the cage, prior to pulling Quagmirran. You’ll be attacked by naga if you do. Engage them far away from Bite so he doesn’t enter combat and get killed. Bite will then buff your party with 5% stats and nature resistance, which helps immensely against Quagmirran’s Poison Bolt Volley, Acid Spray, and Acid Geyser (or at least it did — we’ll see what happens in the Timewalking version now that resistances aren’t really a thing). Healers should cleanse the DOT from the Volley.

Shattered Halls orcsThe Shattered Halls

  • The concept: Fel orc HQ in Hellfire Citadel
  • Year: 2007
  • Bosses: 3 (4 in Heroic)
  • Faction: Honor Hold/Thrallmar
  • Notable loot: The Bladefist

During early forays into Heroic Shattered Halls, players encountered one of the most brutal 5-player gauntlets ever conceived. Adds spawned on a timer, and you had to clear set groups as well. Archers at the end of the hallways shot fire arrows, which left patches on the ground and forced your group to advance whether you wanted to or not. At the end of the hall was a massive pull, and on Heroic the boss Blood Guard Porung waited for you there, too. He wasn’t a very complex boss, but at this point your tanks were out of cooldowns and your healers were running on fumes.

I played a Protection Paladin during TBC. The gauntlet was a nightmare at first and led to not a few wipes. By the end of the expansion, I had so much gear that I had to tank the gauntlet with no pants on, because the only way to keep my mana up, without drinking between pulls, was to receive effective healing. TBC was a strange time for paladins…

Shattered Halls had other challenges when it first launched. Grand Warlock Nethekurse could Death Coil you inside a wall, where you’d be permanently stuck. The third boss O’mrogg had two aggro tables, one for each head, and he’d switch between them. He also couldn’t be taunted, making this encounter incredibly annoying for tanks. He was managed best with two healers on Heroic mode, because it was almost inevitable that a healer would steal aggro from one of the two aggro tables. Having two healers was not an easy thing to pull off, however, in the era prior to dual specs.

The final boss was Warchief Kargath Bladefist. Unlike the version in Highmaul, this Kargath has two blades for hands. I don’t even want to know how he goes to the bathroom like that… Kargath was a long, scary encounter, with crazy amounts of damage and frequent, powerful adds. His Blade Dance/Charge combo could instagib a player if they weren’t topped up.

Heroic Shattered Halls was one of the most challenging 5-player dungeons ever created in WoW. Like many of TBC‘s Heroic dungeons, its huge pulls required rock-solid crowd control. Many players avoided Shattered Halls early in The Burning Crusade because of its difficulty.

Tips:

  • Early on in Shattered Halls, if the dungeon remains identical, you’ll encounter a locked door. If you lack a means to open it (rogue, blacksmith key, Seaforium, etc.), you’ll have to take the long way through the sewers. In TBC, some tanks would refuse to go on a Shattered Halls run if your group couldn’t open the door.
  • Melee should save strong mitigation cooldowns for Nethekurse’s spinning phase. If you get low, just back away from him. In TBC, rogues and warriors could shoot him with ranged weapons for minimal damage, but alas…
  • Pull the gladiator packs after they’ve beaten up on each other. Gladiators are good Mind Control targets and can tank several other mobs.
  • You can’t skip O’mrogg. He’ll aggro when you pull Kargath.
  • Stealthed Shattered Hand Assassins will stun your tank and then murder squishier players with Backstab. AOE “empty” areas to reveal them. There are many in the final hallway to Kargath.
  • Stay away from the cage during the Kargath fight. Assassins spawn there but won’t aggro unless you pull them.

On the next WoW Archivist, we’ll look at the five Timewalking dungeons from Wrath of the Lich King.

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