The next boss is the only one that presented the three of us with any difficulty. Following the path past Leotheras' chambers will lead you to a room full of trash. Kill the trash, and avoid aggroing the Fathom-Lord and his guards in the corner, while you're at it. Fathom-Lord Karathress has three guards, each with its own abilities. Killing Caribdis first would be an excellent idea; she's a healer and she also summons Cyclones that will catch players and toss them in the air. After she's dead, kill Tidalvess -- and make sure you destroy his totems -- then focus on the Fathom-Lord and Sharkkis.
Fathom-Lord Karathress will also throw out Cataclysmic Bolts periodically that deal damage equal to half the player's health. In other words, they hurt -- a lot! Having a healer with you should make this an easier fight.
Tier drops Fathom-Lord Karathress drops tier 5 leg tokens for all classes.
Items of interest Priests looking for boots that match their tier 5 set will want to pick up the Soul-Strider Boots. Leather-wearing classes can take a look at the Bloodsea Brigand's Vest; it's another recolor of Bloodfang Armor. The only other notable item from Karathress is World Breaker, a two-handed mace that is essentially a giant spiked ball on a stick with a red glow. Perfect for smashing people's faces in.
Follow the path around the corner and you'll run into a room full of murlocs and one fairly irritated giant. The murloc packs that run around should be cleared out unless you feel like AOEing while you're fighting the boss. As for Morogrim himself, the only minor annoyance this boss possesses is Watery Grave, a bubble that will take your DPS out of the picture periodically. He also summons more murloc adds, which is why I'd recommend taking out the wandering packs first, or you're going to be up to your nose in murlocs. Keep fighting him in between bubbles, and you'll have him down in no time.
Tier drops Morogrim has no tier loot.
Items of interest The Illidari Shoulderpads are a recolor of warlock tier 5 shoulders for any cloth caster, while the Gnarled Chestpiece of the Ancients is yet another piece of recolored Bloodfang. Those looking for a mail look-alike to hunter tier 5 should look at the Mantle of the Tireless Tracker, while hunters looking for a tier 5 matching belt should pick up the Girdle of the Tidal Call. Warriors in search of boots to match tier 5 should look at the Warboots of Obliteration, and plate-wearing classes looking for a recolor of paladin tier 5 should check out the Pauldrons of the Argent Sentinel.
Morogrim also drops the Talon of Azshara, a unique green, black and gold one-handed sword, and the Luminescent Rod of the Naaru, a teal and purple crystalline wand with a Draenei flavor.
The last boss in Serpentshrine is Lady Vashj, and she's located to the far east of the zone. Getting to her is entertaining in and of itself -- the bridge to enter her lair has to be triggered by the control panel on the platform directly in front of her lair, and the watery bridge will fall into place once the control panel has been activated. It's a very pretty sequence! As for Vashj, the fight is not difficult -- it's just long. Very long. It's timed, and you ultimately have to wait for certain adds to spawn to complete the encounter, so the fight isn't really going to be a fast one.
It is, however, a much simpler fight than it used to be. The fight begins when you run to the top of Vashj's dais and engage her in combat. She casts Static Charge on random players, but spreading out from each other solves that problem quite nicely. Once she reaches 70% health, Vashj will teleport to the middle of the room and surround herself with a shield powered by four generators. You must turn off the generators before you can resume attacking her.
The shields can be powered off by using a Tainted Core, an item that drops from a Tainted Elemental add that will periodically spawn. Speaking of adds, there's a whole mess of other adds that will spawn -- Enchanted Elementals that will increase Vashj's damage by 5% if they reach her, Coilfang Elite guards, and Coilfang Striders. The Striders are the most irritating; they have a fear that will send players fleeing across the room.
You'll know a Tainted Elemental has spawned by the green poison attacks it flings around the room. Kill it, loot the core, and take the core to one of the four generators to turn it off. Once upon a time, looting the core rooted you in place, requiring you to toss it to another player, who then tossed it to a third player waiting next to the generator. This is no longer the case; you can run with the core in your hand.
Clear as many of the adds as you can -- kill the elementals so Vashj doesn't gain too much power, kill the striders so they don't fear you around the room, kill the Coilfang Elites because they are a pain. Once all four Tainted Cores have been delivered to the generators, the shield around Vashj will disappear and you can continue beating her face in. She may summon Toxic Spore Bats in the last phase. They drop a poison cloud on the ground; don't stand in it. With three people, the Spore Bats never had a chance to appear; she was dead before that point of the fight.
Tier drops Lady Vashj is hiding a stash of tier 5 hat tokens for every class. Apparently she is a fan of fancy chapeaus.
Items of interest Cloth-wearing classes may like the look of the Vestments of the Sea Witch; they are recolored mage tier 5. Rogues looking for a tier 5 match will want to pick up the Belt of One-Hundred Deaths, while Runetotem's Mantle is a nice recolor of druid tier 5 for all leather-wearing classes. Hunters looking for boots that match their tier 5 set will want the Cobra-Lash Boots. Plate-wearers looking for more recolored paladin tier 5 should check out the Glorious Gauntlets of Crestfall, or for recolored warrior tier 5, take a look at the Krakken-Heart Breastplate.
Hunters might want to check out the Serpent Spine Longbow for a unique and kind of odd bow. In addition, Vashj drops the Fang of Vashj, a red, gold and blue one-handed dagger with an aquatic theme, and the Lightfathom Scepter, a main-hand mace in teal and gold with yet more aquatic touches.
That's it for Serpentshrine Cavern! While tier 4 raid content offered plenty of unique items, tier 5 raids are chock-full of both tier pieces and recolored tier. For those who aren't quite fans of the original colors of their tier sets, the recolored versions offer the same style in an alternate color palette. And since none of these pieces are class-restricted, anyone can use them to transmogrify their look.
Serpentshrine Cavern was full of fights that required precise coordination and timing. The Vashj fight in particular required exact execution to pull off correctly. It was also one of the better-looking raid dungeons. The caverns and platforms were full of little details that made the whole instance shine. It offered a startling contrast to the bright lights and glimmering halls of Tempest Keep.
Come back next week when we'll venture into Kael'thas' fortress to pick up the rest of tier 5 and maybe a phoenix mount along the way.
Don't hold your breath for that phoenix, though!