Death knights, we've covered some transmogrification choices for you, and you just got the delightful news that you can purchase your starter sets on the 4.3 PTR servers. Rejoice! For the rest of us, it's time to return to the tier 6 gathering, which stretched through two different raid zones -- three, if you count the pieces hiding in Sunwell Plateau. However, though the boots, belts and bracers available in Sunwell were labeled with set names, they didn't actually match the tier 6 set.
That's all right, though; we aren't headed into the Sunwell just yet. Instead, it's time to venture into the lair of Illidan Stormrage. Once called the Temple of Karabor, a sacred site to the Draenei, the temple fell to the might of Gul'dan's Horde, who proceeded to transform it into a headquarters for the Shadow Council. It's changed hands many times since then, but as of The Burning Crusade, the Black Temple is Illidan's territory.
The Black Temple
The Black Temple is located at the far eastern end of Shadowmoon Valley in Outland. Originally, in order to gain access to the Temple, players had to complete a relatively long attunement chain that involved both Akama and Maiev, rewarding them with a necklace that allowed them entry inside. Another series of quests inside the Temple itself eventually rewarded players who killed Illidan with an upgraded version of the necklace. The Blessed Medallion of Karabor isn't just a shadow resist trinket; it teleports you to the patch just outside the Temple itself.
These days, the attunement chain isn't required, although it's fun to do -- but the entrance to the Temple is a little hard to find if you don't know where to look. Rather than barging in the front doors, the entrance to the Temple is a crack along the wall, leading into the sewers below. Much like Tempest Keep, the Black Temple is pretty easy to get a group together for. A lot of players would like to get their hands on the unique armor and weapons that are available in the instance, including the legendary pair of warglaives dropped by Illidan. In addition, you gain reputation with the Ashtongue Deathsworn while killing things in the Temple -- perfect for those working towards the exalted achievement.
While there have been reports of players soloing Black Temple content, I would advise taking with you a few people at a bare minimum, if not 10. It makes the fights go much more quickly and allows you to ignore some boss mechanics in favor of raw speed. Since the Black Temple is a gigantic raid instance, you're going to have to travel a long way to get to Illidan at the very peak of the Temple. Making it a speedy trip saves a lot of time and frustration.
Once inside the sewer entrance, fight your way through the trash packs and up the ramps to your right. At the top of the two ramps to your right, you'll see the first boss of the instance.
High Warlord Naj'entus
High Warlord Naj'entus only has two abilities that you really have to worry about. He will occasionally throw spines at random players, pinning them to the ground. These spines need to be picked up, both to free the player and to take care of his next ability, Tidal Shield. Naj'entus will encase himself in a protective bubble, and the only way to break that bubble is to throw a spine at it; you need to click the spine to use it. The shield will do damage to all players when broken, and you can resume attacking Naj'entus. This is not a mechanic you want to ignore -- when the Tidal Shield is up, Naj'entus regenerates health. You must shatter the shield to continue attacking and keep Naj'entus from healing to full. Other than that mechanic, the fight is a relative pushover.
Tier drops High Warlord Naj'entus doesn't have any tier gear.
Other items of interest Mages, pick up the Slippers of the Seacaller for a boot match to your tier 6 set. Leather-wearing classes may like the Mantle of Darkness, a recolor of the rogue tier 6 shoulders, or the Guise of the Tidal Lurker, a recolored version of the druid tier 6 helm. Mail-wearing classes should take a look at the Fists of Mukoa, a recolored version of hunter tier 6 gloves, and the Helm of Soothing Currents for a recolored shaman tier 6 helm. The Boots of Oceanic Fury are a pair of black boots in the style of shaman tier 6, as well.
Warriors, the Eternium Shell Bracers are a match for your tier 6 set. Paladins, both the Pearl Inlaid Boots and the Tide-Stomper's Greaves will match your tier 6 set. As for weapons, Naj'entus drops The Maelstrom's Fury, a beautiful black and blue main-hand dagger that looks almost as if it were carved from shell; Rising Tide, a unique one-handed red and bronze axe; and the Halberd of Desolation, a gorgeous polearm in gold and silver with green accents.
After defeating Naj'entus, head through the hole in the wall, killing water elementals along the way, and up the pipe into the main courtyard. The courtyard is stuffed full of trash -- packs of fel orcs, flying dragons, stomping demons. You can avoid a lot of the trash, or you can fight your way through it. Black Temple offers a lot in the way of gold via trash, vendor loot on trash, and the occasional epic BOE item, so it's worth it to clear it all out if you're looking to make some gold while you're out there. At the end of the courtyard is a giant infernal -- Supremus, the next boss in the zone.
Supremus will occasionally throw a Hateful Strike on the player in melee range with the most health. It's not determined by threat, simply by how much health the player has and whether or not he is in melee range. He also lays trails of fire on the ground; don't stand in them. He does have a phase 2 in which he summons volcanoes and follows players around, but with a good group of 85s, you'll never see it. Knock him over and collect your loot!
Tier drops Supremus doesn't have any tier loot, either.
Other items of interest Cloth-wearing classes may like the Waistwrap of Infinity, a recolor of warlock tier 6. Leather-wearing classes should check out the Nether Shadow Tunic, a chestpiece in purple and blue. Hunters, the Wraps of Precise Flight are a bracer match to your tier 6 set, and shaman, the Naturalist's Preserving Cinch is a matching belt for your tier 6, as well as the Bands of the Coming Storm. Plate-wearing classes may like the spiked and bladed look of the Pauldrons of Abyssal Fury in black and bronze.
As for weapons, Legionkiller is a wicked-looking crossbow emblazoned with a demon's head, and The Brutalizer is a one-handed axe that looks like it's something straight out of an engineer's armory. Syphon of the Nathrezim is a glowing red crystalline one-handed mace, and for those who can wield shields, the Felstone Bulwark is a simple gold and bronze design with a stunning glow.
Bonus fun: Before you head inside the Temple proper, look up -- you can see Azeroth suspended in the sky above! Up the stairs behind Supremus is the entrance for the lower section of the Temple. This section contains four bosses, and all four bosses must be killed in order to continue the journey upward to Illidan. However, it doesn't matter which order those bosses happen to be killed in, and there's a relatively easy way to negate a lot of the trash in the center of the lower section that also happens to involve killing one of those four bosses. Clear a path to your right through the many, many groups of trash patrolling around, and go through the door to the next boss encounter.
Shade of Akama
Once in the room, you'll see Akama cloaked in shadow, but don't speak to him immediately! Instead, clear all the trash in the room. Once the trash has been cleared out, you can safely speak to Akama and start the encounter. On the platform at the back of the room are a group of channelers holding back the Shade of Akama. Kill the channelers, and the Shade will start walking to Akama himself. Once the Shade engages Akama, it's a simple matter to kill it. This boss is the loot piñata of Black Temple; pretty much the only way you could potentially wipe here is if you didn't clear the trash before you talked to Akama.
Tier drops Loot piñatas have no business carrying tier gear, are you kidding me?
Other items of interest Priests, the Wristbands of Divine Influence are a match to your tier 6 set, and the Amice of Brilliant Light is a recolor of priest tier 6 shoulders that any cloth-wearing class can wear. Leather-wearing classes should check out the Shadow-Walker's Cord for a dark blue belt with red accents, and the Kilt of Immortal Nature is a recolored version of druid tier 6 for all leather-wearers.
For those who wear mail, the Shoulders of the Hidden Predator are another recolored version of hunter tier 6, complete with wiggling eyeballs. The Spiritwalker Gauntlets are a mail version of shaman tier 6 gloves that any mail class can wear, as well as the Flashfire Girdle, a black belt in the style of shaman tier 6. Plate-wearing classes may want to check out the Praetorian's Legguards, a skull-emblazoned, red and gold set of legplates, or the Grips of Silent Justice, blue and black plate gloves. Warriors, Myrmidon's Treads are the boot match to your tier 6 set, and paladins, The Seeker's Wristguards match your tier 6 set.
When the Shade of Akama is dead, the remaining Broken in the Temple will swear allegiance to Akama -- including any Broken trash that happened to be hiding in the middle section. This makes getting to those other bosses much, much easier.
Three bosses into the zone, and we've still got a long hike to go before we see any tier -- but there are plenty of unique armor items and weapons to pick up along the way. Come back next week when we'll tackle Teron, go up against Gurtogg, and ask ourselves just what the heck is the Reliquary of Souls supposed to be, anyway?