Trolling for PUGs: Adventures in Zul'Aman and Zul'Gurub

The doors to Zul'Aman, which no one
will ever see from the outside again.
I must admit that I was a little late to the Zandalari party. I always try to stay away from new content when a major patch like this drops for a day or so to let the servers stabilize, so I didn't attempt a run on patch day even though my pocket Tank was asking me to.

I probably should have, however, since my wife and daughter got home the next day after almost a week away visiting relatives, and the Dwarfling was making sure that she was the centre of attention. I didn't actually get a chance until Sunday to try one out.

I was excited to hear that they were bringing these two raids back as extra-difficult 5-man heroics, similar to the Icecrown Citadel heroics. I didn't get a chance to run either of these raids when they were relevant, and somewhat stupidly didn't run them before Blizzard whisked them away from us, so I was going into them completely blind - with only a Wowhead breakdown of the bosses to guide me.


Zoning into Zul'Gurub for the first time, it's immediately apparent that it feels a little different than most other 5-mans. It felt big. And though Blizzard was clever to make most of it avoidable, there is a ton of trash there; the place actually feels populated, like a giant troll city should. Seeing it for the first time it's very easy to imagine this place as a raid.

The first run through this incarnation of Zul'Gurub was with a guild group of more casual players: The tank and I are regular raiders, but the DPS, though raid experienced, are not regular raiders these days. Regardless, everybody's gear was more than adequate to run these dungeons, so there was no problems there.

My impressions of this dungeon are that each of the bosses is considerably more difficult than the other Cataclysm heroics. The first boss Venoxis gave us quite a bit of trouble, and feels like it's a test aimed at the healer. The panther boss, Kilnara, gave us a lot of grief as well; it almost feels like that fight could use two tanks. Zanzil was tough as well for our group, but it felt like we were going to get it. Unfortunately I had to quit before we finished him off and I didn't get to see the last boss.

In looking back, it really did feel like a raid. Not just because it took us almost 3 hours to get to Zanzil - by which time Mrs. Fannon was giving me dirty looks, sharpening her kitchen knives and laying out old sheets around my computer to soak up the blood - but because the difficulty of the encounters and the co-ordination required was a lot higher than I was expecting. Thank goodness we were on Ventrilo.


The real fun in Zul'Gurub came yesterday when I tried to PUG it using the LFD tool.

Call to Arms was asking for both Tanks and Healers, so I muttered the immortal last words, "What the heck, it can't be that bad, can it?"

Suffice it to say, an hour and several wipes later, we were not past the first boss and I ditched the group. The tank, while her gear was sufficient, had never seen any of the fights before and had no idea what she was doing. In addition, she was completely uncommunicative and so bloody slow; and not she's-just-being-a-cautious-puller kind of slow, either. It was more like the pause-for-five-minutes-with-no-communication-between-each-pull type. I think that she was reading up on the fights while she was tanking the trash. It was quite painful.

At Venoxis, the DPS seemed to think that Green=Good and made sure to stand in it frequently. Neither the tank or the Death Knight seemed to have their interrupt ability bound, or didn't have the first clue when to use it even after I explained the fight and which ability to interrupt.

And a note to the hunter: Jumping over the toxic maze lines will still get you killed. Don't do it, please.

So, yeah, it can be that bad. Best to wait to PUG this instance for a few weeks until people get a handle on it.


Can you tell which
items are new?
HINT: They are Brown.
A guildie and I queued up for a random last night and got Zul'Aman. Firstly, what a beautiful instance! Assuming that Zul'Gurub looks more-or-less the same as it originally did, you can really see a difference in visual quality between the two of them.

It was slow - we certainly didn't get the timed run - but successful. Our tank was good for the most part, and while there were a lot of mistakes on the trash, we got though it in reasonably good time - about an hour or so.

It's hard to compare them after only doing each one once, but Zul'Aman definitely seems like the easier of the two. The mechanics of the fights seemed less complex, and the bosses felt like they weren't hitting quite so hard. And the Eagle boss is just plain fun.

The run was made all the more worth it when I handed in the quests at the end and received replacements for a couple of problem areas in my gear: Shoulders and Legs. 353 isn't as good as what Cho'gall drops, and they're not itemized perfectly, but they're a damned sight better than what I replaced. That makes me a happy pally.

The only drawback to these new epics is that they don't go with the Tier 11 armour at all. Still, the skulls are very stylish; I'm sure that they will be all the rage this season.


While I agree that these instances are quite difficult and very long, they are a lot of fun. The difficulty will not be all that horrifying once everyone knows what to do, but they certainly aren't instances that can just be facerolled through. There is a silly amount of damage being spewed out of everything in these places, and if someone is not paying attention death will come all too swiftly.

I'm very happy that Blizzard gave us another gearing path as well. It was painfully obvious that there were some glaring holes in the loot distribution, with bracers being the worst. These instances, dropping gear that is halfway between heroic level blues and Tier 11 epics, fill that gap nicely - making for a much smoother and easier gear progression. As well, having quests inside the instances that give very useful gear means there is much less griding required to replace a piece. And is it just my imagination, or do these quests give rewards based on your class?

I'm very happy with what I have seen of the new dungeons so far. They're challenging and fun and provide some much needed loot. I'm also glad to have a chance to see them as relevant content - even if they are not exactly the same as the old raids. I'll talk more about recycling content in another post that I'm working on which should be finished in a few days.


  1. I completely agree that ZG is harder. The snake boss actually requires u to react to the mechanics whereas u can sort of steamroll a couple of the za bosses.

  2. Nice write up, Fannon. :) I'm looking forward to seeing these two oldies for the first time as well (though I don't think my gearscore is quite high enough yet).

  3. Try Rob Boss Mods (http://wow.curse.com/downloads/wow-addons/details/robbossmods1)

    It has been updated with relatively decent ZG/ZA strats AND! has actual spell links for the abilities!

    Also, we await more post on Dear Dwarfling now that 20 days of Blogging Challenge is over!

  4. @Top Rosters: Ya, that fight really does feel like a big sign saying These ain't yo' momma's heroics.

    @Pink Pally: Don't worry, you'll get there. :)

    @Gla: Yes, I have been a negligent daddy a bit. I haven't posted anything on Dear Dwarfling in so long. Take heart, there is more Dwarfling news coming soon.

  5. <- got two nods in one post. :)

  6. The first boss in ZG is the reason I am terrified to pug it! Not only did I learn the hard way that you, uh, can't jump over the maze lines, but I always seem to get trapped between two people being followed with poison and end up dying. The only reason I've ever killed that boss is because of a lucky rez. The rest of ZG is intensely fun, compared to ZA where I feel like my groups have struggled on several bosses rather than just one.