Dire Maul North, that is.
A quick note here: It's been a month since the last update. I'm normally pretty lazy about updating as it is, and I didn't play much WoW at all for about three weeks. Partly burnout, partly finding other things to keep me busy, partly boredom, partly... whatever else. I very rarely grind my way through MMORPGs, so whenever I feel bored or that the game is becoming a chore, I just stop for a while. Anyway...
I got to 53 and 54 mostly in Scholomance, at which point I was able to take two quests for Dire Maul East. One required me to kill the imp that is near the entrance to DM East, the other required me to kill Lethtendris, one of the easiest level 55+ bosses to kill. Completing this left the alts within shouting distance of level 55, and at this point I decided I'd give DM North a try.
As expected, the going was a bit rough. DM North has groups of four elite mobs in some areas, and they hit hard enough to kill my alts very quickly. They also hit hard enough that they can drop my shaman's health dangerously low if I hold off on heals in order to avoid aggro. In places like Scholomance, I'm usually facing groups of up to three mobs, and their combined DPS is not enough to require a heal before I kill all but one. Once I'm on the last one, my own DPS guarantees that I'll hold aggro and the priest and paladin may heal me without concern. This was not going to work in DM North, and an early wipe was followed by the deaths of the priest and mage on separate occasions. A bit more work and adaptation was called for.
First up- Blessing of Salvation. I usually just buffed the group with Kings, but the buff didn't matter until now because the group didn't take much part in the fights, aside from an occasional heal. But with aggro becoming an issue, every bit would help. The shaman got Kings as per normal, and everyone else got a 30% aggro reduction. Next up, crowd control...
I reached the area that has many groups with warriors who do relatively high DPS, and warlocks with their pets (reddish winged demons). The pets are non-elites. The groups will have some combination of warriors and warlocks/pets. One warrior and one warlock, two warriors, two warlocks, etc. The warriors charge in and attack, the pets do as well, while the warlocks will cast from a distance (including a targeted AE fire spell). Upon reaching the first group (a warrior, warlock, and pet) I targeted the warlock and had the mage select it as her target. Then I targeted the warlock's pet and had my warlock select it as her target. I bound the mage's sheep and the warlock's banish spells to a single key, and started the pull.
This worked out pretty well. I was able to clear through the zone all the way up to Captain Kromcrush with little effort, even though the crowd control did not always stick, since the elites were usually level 57-to-59 and the pets were level 58-60 and my mage/warlock were level 55 by this time, having hit their new levels earlier in the run. But it worked often enough to make the groups quite manageable. Without the crowd control the trip would've been much more painful. As it was, judicious use of my shaman's earth and fire elementals saved the group on a couple of occasions.
Kromcrush himself was not too bad. I had only ever fought him once prior to this trip (we normally did the tribute run with the ogre suit) and all I remembered was that he could hit pretty hard. So when his health dropped to 75% and two ogre warriors came running out of nowhere, it was a bit of a shock, to say the least! My shaman died shortly after Kromcrush did, so I used an ankh and whittled the two reavers down while my paladin furiously cast heals. My priest was unable to do so, seeing as she had been flattened by the reavers shortly after I died. Annoyingly, the end result of this fight was a Mugger's Belt. Oh well, better luck next time.
After this it was just a relatively short clear and then I'd have to deal with King Gordoth and his lackey Cho'Rush the Observer. One mistake I made was having my timing wrong when attempting to AE a pack of dogs. Unlike the bugs and scorpions in other parts of the zone, these mobs require a lot more damage to kill (approximately 3,600 versus 1,000). They chewed their way through my mage, warlock, and paladin before I managed to finish them off. After that I was much more cautious and the path to the King was clear.
King Gordoth was not as tough as I'd feared. I couldn't use my old standby of keeping the group out of combat range, since I would want their DPS and need their heals. Using my earth elemental to keep Cho'Rush busy for a few seconds, I started beating on Gordoth. He did not do his knockback effect on me, or perhaps I resisted it. He did charge one of the group members, but I got his attention back on the shaman quickly. Once the earth elemental was down, Cho'Rush began casting fire spells at my healers, but I just healed them with the shaman to balance out aggro. Gordoth went down without much problem, and I was preparing to target and attack Cho'Rush, when he suddenly de-aggroed, ran off, and sat down.
I had forgotten that if you kill the King, Cho'Rush will proclaim you the new king of the ogres and become quite cooperative. At this point another ogre appears, and when you speak with him he gives you the buff that turns the rest of the zone friendly and summons the tribute chest. Since we had slaughtered our way through the zone, there were no extra goodies inside. I may try a tribute run in the future, but since the goal of these trips is mostly experience, it really doesn't matter. I do plan to hit DM North at least once more. And I may wait for level 57 or 58 before venturing into Stratholme, as it would be nice to have fewer resists and better survivability when I head there, with it's large groups of elites and non-elites.