WoW Archivist: Timewalking dungeons of Wrath of the Lich King
Timewalking returns this weekend. Last time we revisited the dungeons of The Burning Crusade. Now we’ll be walking back through time to the reign of the Lich King.
Wrath of the Lich King revolutionized the way that players ran dungeons in patch 3.3. We no longer had to sit in cities, using chat to find other players on our own realm who wanted to run the same dungeon that we did. We just had to queue up in the new Dungeon Finder. The Dungeon Finder awarded Emblems (Wrath’s version of Valor Points/Apexis Crystals) for running a random dungeon, so players most often selected that option. That meant players couldn’t avoid the dungeons they disliked the way they could in The Burning Crusade.
Wrath‘s 16 dungeons ranged in popularity from beloved to detested. Dungeon Finder was a crap shoot: Would we get a fun and popular dungeon like Gundrak, silly jousting in the Trial of the Champion, or the disjointed and universally loathed Oculus? Many players quit as soon as they loaded in to Oculus, even though you couldn’t queue again for 30 minutes.
For the upcoming Timewalking event, you won’t have to worry. Blizzard has selected five well-designed and entertaining dungeons from Wrath‘s launch lineup, and the Oculus is nowhere in sight. Here’s a review of what they meant to players back in Wrath and some tips for running them again this weekend.
The concept: A confluence of arcane ley lines created by Malygos to deny magic to Azeroth’s mortal races
Notable loot: War Mace of Unrequited Love
If you chose to start your Wrath adventure in Borean Tundra, the Nexus was the first dungeon that questgivers sent you to conquer. The dungeon is varied and visually stunning, with ice caves, frosted forests, and magic-infused stone.
The Nexus has an open layout: you can kill the bosses in pretty much any order. Unique among WoW‘s dungeons to date, you could approach the final boss Keristrasza almost immediately. However, she can only be freed from the ice and engaged once the other bosses are dead.
The Nexus is a stark contrast to the “loot hallway” layout of most modern dungeons. Navigating it sometimes caused problems, such as taking the shortcut from Ormorok’s room back to Keristraza’s area. If a hunter or warlock didn’t dismiss their pet before jumping down, their beast or demon friend ended up pulling all the trash that was skipped and bringing it to the party — sometimes in the middle of the last boss encounter if the group was moving fast.
Keristraza was a memorable final boss. Her stacking Intense Cold ability affected everyone throughout the fight. It slowed your movement and casting speed and dealt ticking damage. To remove a stack, all you had to do was move around or jump. It sounds so simple, but then she would freeze you to the floor, preventing you any movement. Healers had to be quick with dispels before the player died or became too crippled to contribute.
- Although the dungeon is more free-form than most, the most efficient order of bosses is the faction-specific boss first, and then Telestra, Anomalus, Ormorok, and Keristrasza.
- Telestra is one of the first bosses who could physically lift your character off the ground. Kill her three mirror images ASAP. Watch out for the arcane one especially, which can sheep your healer (leaving no one to dispel the sheep or to heal).
- Kill the Chaotic Rifts spawned by Anomalus before they, in turn, spawn adds.
- Don’t stand on Ormorok’s spikes. Casters should watch out for his Spell Reflection ability.
- Three DPS should click the three orbs to free Keristraza so the tank can pick her up and the healer can focus on keeping the tank alive.
- Like most dragon bosses in WoW, Keristraza has both a breath ability and a tail swipe, so melee should DPS from her flank.
The concept: A stronghold of the Drakkari, whose prophets have betrayed the ice trolls’ own gods to steal their loa powers
Notable loot: Fist of the Deity, Witch Doctor’s Wildstaff
Many players don’t know this since everyone ran the dungeon via the Dungeon Finder, but Gundrak actually has two entrances: north and south. When you enter the north portal (which is how the Dungeon Finder starts you out), Slad’ran is the first boss. When you enter the south portal, Moorabi is the first boss.
Gundrak steeped us in glorious trollness: altars, caves full of bones, vine-draped statues, and a giant snake that was never explained. The centerpiece of the dungeon is a bridge over an underground lake of carnivorous fish. Four statues representing the four Drakkari gods face one another in the middle. By clicking on the altars in the room of each boss, you can rotate the bridge into place and face the final boss, Gal’darah.
Gal’darah is the prophet of Akali, the rhino god of the Drakkari, but Gal’darah has taken Akali’s power as his own. Someone who murdered their own god is probably not someone you want to cross, but Azeroth asks much of its heroes. Gal’darah is a chaotic, physical fight. He charges around, stomps to knockback everyone near him, summons rhino spirits to smash into players, and impales you on his spear.
Gundrak was notorious for two of the more difficult achievements in Wrath’s launch dungeons meta. Less-rabi required crazy DPS and lightning-fast interrupts, though it’s easy now if you go back at level 100 and blow him up. Share the Love required patience from your DPS and massive healing. It can’t be done solo, but Timewalking back to Gundrak gives us all another chance to share the love.
- Don’t forget to click on the altars after you kill each boss, or you’ll have to backtrack.
- Kill Slad’ran’s snake buddies quickly. If a player gets 5 stacks of their debuff, he or she will be encased in snakes (and very creeped out) for 10 seconds or until all the snakes are killed.
- The Drakkari Colossus switches back and forth between two forms. He has a Mortal Strike that he’ll use on tanks to make your healers work extra hard. The tank will have to move him around so melee can stay on him without standing in pools.
- Interrupt Moorabi every time he tries to cast Transformation. His cast time will get faster each time you do.
- The Heroic mode of Gundrak has an extra, “hidden” boss: Eck the Ferocious, a gorloc. After you kill Moorabi, a door opens at the back of his room. Follow the small passage to fight Eck. He is, of course, optional.
Halls of Lightning
The concept: Appointed by the Titans as a guardian of Ulduar, Loken has betrayed them and now rules the Halls of Lightning
Notable loot: Colossus Skull-Clad Cleaver, Music Roll: Mountains of Thunder
As a Titan creation, Halls of Lightning and its sister dungeon, Halls of Stone, share the Ulduar aesthetic: majestic hallways filled with beautiful but alien devices. Constructs, elementals, iron dwarves, iron giants, and iron vrykul (the Titans really liked iron) populate the dungeon.
Of all the dungeon bosses at Wrath’s launch, none received more complaints than Loken, the final boss of Halls of Lightning. He’s not very complex by today’s standards, but you had to know the strategy to survive him, which is where many PUGs failed. He had an ability that dealt massive nature damage to anyone within 20 yards and another that dealt greater nature damage the farther away you were. So you had to know when to stack on him and when to run away. The burden of failure fell on the healers, as it so often does, to try to keep players alive when they weren’t standing in the right spot.
The room leading up to Loken is one of the few areas in all of Wrath’s dungeons where your group would often wipe to trash. Titanium Vanguards had a big knockback. If a player wasn’t facing the right way, they’d get knocked into another group. There were also several patrols, so your party could quickly find itself overwhelmed with adds.
Another tricky area was the “slag room.” Prior to Volkhan was a room full of earth elementals called Slags. They respawned quickly and endlessly, so your group had to pull them all and exit the other side of the room, then AOE them all down. Their abilities made this difficult: they pulsed an AOE movement speed debuff, an AOE armor debuff, and AOE fire damage. Tanks had to get aggro on all of them, pop cooldowns, and pray.
In an expansion famous for its easy Heroic dungeons, Halls of Lightning stood out as one of the few that required more than a mindless, speed-clear zerg.
- The first boss, General Bjarngrim, is skippable. If you do pull him, make sure you do it when he’s not charging up with lightning. Kill the dwarves first, since they can heal him.
- For Volkhan, move away from the golems when he casts Shattering Stomp. The cooled golems will shatter for high AOE damage, especially if they’re stacked up.
- Run away from allies if you have Ionar’s Static Overload. Then run away from the Sparks of Ionar when he collapses into them at 50% health.
The concept: The vrykul now serve the Lich King, and the pinnacle of Utgarde Keep houses their most powerful lieutenants
Notable loot: Red Sword of Courage, Reins of the Blue Proto-Drake
Utgarde Pinnacle is remarkable in its use of environment. Every boss is tied to — and makes use of — its location in the dungeon. Svala Sorrowgrave ties one of your party members to her altar and attempts to sacrifice them to the Lich King. You have to kill the adds and free the sacrificee before a slowly descending sword impales them. Gortok Palehoof waits in a trophy room. The trophies come to life randomly one by one until you finally fight Gortok himself. Skadi the Ruthless takes to the skies on his mount, Grauf. You have to loot harpoons from the adds and use the harpoon guns on the balcony to bring him down. King Ymiron stuns your party and rushes over to one of the four longboats in his hall. He absorbs the spirit of the fallen vrykul laid to rest within the boat and becomes more powerful.
Wrath-era players will remember the quest Junk in My Trunk, which had you gathering four different types of treasures throughout the dungeon. Players on the quest often lagged behind the group to gather them or ran ahead to beat others to the quest items, sometimes aggroing mobs in the process. The quest made for many annoying runs.
- Nontanks should stand behind Ymirjar Berserkers during trash clears. Their fear effect hits everyone in front of them.
- Ranged DPS can still hit Svala when she flies up to sacrifice someone. If the sword hits a player, it’s not a guaranteed one-shot. Damage reduction buffs can save them.
- Gortok reduces party max health by 1000 every 12 seconds with Withering Roar, so save DPS cooldowns for him. He’s probably the best boss to use Bloodlust against, since Ymiron crowd-controls your party so often.
- Grauf will fill half of the hallway with a Freezing Cloud breath attack. Move to the other side quickly. Healers and decursers should dispel whatever they can during this fight.
- Get rid of Ymiron’s Bane buff if you can.
Ahn’kahet: The Old Kingdom
Ahn’kahet is stunning in its scope. Originally planned as a raid zone, Blizzard instead made it into a 5-player dungeon but kept its immense scale. The result is one of the largest dungeons in the game, in terms of sheer space. “Epic” is applied to many things these days, from a good movie to the cheese fries you like from that bar around the corner, but The Old Kingdom earns that designation in spades. In Ahn’kahet, you climb spider webs, explore forests of bioluminescent mushrooms, battle your way through towering Nerubian ruins, and delve into the sanity-crushing domain of the Old Gods.
Each boss is memorable: Nadox’s powerful adds, Taldaram’s terrifying debuff that makes you helpless as he feeds on you, Jedoga’s ascension when she chooses minions to sacrifice themselves, and Amanitar’s Alice in Wonderland-themed mushroom bonanza. Finally, Volazj turns your fragile little mind against you, in true Old God fashion.
- Eye of Taldaram trash mobs will debuff players with Eyes in the Dark. Casting any spell that requires a cast time will be interrupted by the debuff and it will explode for high damage.
- Kill Twilight Apostles first in trash packs. They buff and heal allies.
- Kill Nadox’s Ahn’kahar Guardians as soon as they spawn. They make all the other adds and the boss immune to damage.
- Save DPS cooldowns for Taldaram’s Embrace of the Vampyr. His victim will be stunned, drained of health, and unhealable until your party does enough damage to Taldaram to shake him off.
- Amanitar is optional, both to complete the dungeon and earn its related achievements. Run to a Healthy Mushroom if you get the Mini debuff. The mushroom will remove the debuff if you’re next to it when it dies.
- Don’t let Jedoga’s chosen Volunteer reach the purple circle after she ascends. The Volunteer can’t be stunned or slowed. Everyone, including the healer, should DPS it.
- Volazj casts Insanity at 33 and 66%. You’ll see your allies as enemies, and the only way to break the effect is to kill them all. DPS will move to tank’s and healer’s hallucinations after they finish their own, so keep murdering your teammates!
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