If nothing else, I'd recommend popping in here just to visit Flaskataur, say hello, and purchase a few things. But that wouldn't be anywhere near as fun as running this starter dungeon. Fast, precise, and to the point, Temple of the Jade Serpent is nothing like the sheer length of Zul'Gurub, and much more like the shortened length of dungeons like Vortex Pinnacle, minus the travel time. In short, it's perfectly ... well, short!
Temple of the Jade Serpent contains four bosses total, and the story of the Temple is told throughout the course of leveling through The Jade Forest. To recap, with minimal spoilers: While questing, you royally mess things up in the most horrific manner imaginable. In the Temple, it's up to you to put things back to right as best you can. Much like Zul'Gurub, you actually enter the Temple as part of the leveling experience throughout the zone. I am hoping this means that zone completion, or at least completion of the main storyline, will be a requirement for entering this dungeon. It isn't right now, but the dungeon itself makes much more sense once you've completed the main Jade Forest storyline.
The first boss in the zone is Wise Mari, a jinyu who resides in the Temple and works with the water spirits. He's now kinda corrupted and making a mess out of things. His fight is relatively simple; you fight through three waves of adds while staying out of the water in the area by standing on various platforms. Phase 2 starts when the adds die, and fans of The Lurker Below from Serpentshrine Caverns in The Burning Crusade will immediately recognize Mari's main attack. The boss goes down relatively easily as long as you remember to stay the heck out of any water. Water here is bad.
I didn't notice any particularly interesting tactics in the boss fight itself; really, the scenery up to the boss fight was far more entertaining to me than the end of the encounter. All of these encounters are of course still in beta stage, though, and they'll probably be tweaked and adjusted as time goes on.
Completing the library means you can head to the second-to-last boss in the area.
Liu Flameheart is very angry, and she's got every right to be. She's also just a little possessed, which makes her a pretty formidable encounter. She does a series of wave attacks, and anyone who's played through End Time has already been taught by Jaina Proudmoore that standing in waves is a pretty terrible place to be. All you have to do is avoid the waves and beat on her, and she's eventually move to phase 2.
Phase 2 includes a pretty neat transformation and a lot of clouds of things that you really shouldn't be standing in. It's all pretty standard WoW dungeon boss abilities and attacks. I kind of appreciate this, in a way -- as you progress through the dungeon, you remember these abilities from other dungeons, and you know how to avoid them in order to stay alive. Thankfully, the same applies to the Temple, which means less beating your head in frustration trying to figure out what the boss is doing and more fun playing through a really gorgeous dungeon.
Striking a perfect balance
What I really like about this dungeon isn't just the scenery, which is gorgeous, or the story, which is compelling -- it's the overall flow of the zone and length of the dungeon. It's just long enough without being too short to count as a real dungeon. Each wing is clearly marked, and each trash mob has a unique ability of some sort or another that definitely discourages just running in and randomly AoEing everything in the room.
As a DPSer, the fights weren't bad at all, although Wise Mari had me fairly frustrated in phase two as a rogue, mainly because I couldn't really afford to stop and just DPS the boss.
However, the events themselves were delightful, and the dungeon worked really well in terms of integrating with everything presented in Jade Forest. One of the things I didn't really care for in Cataclysm was that so many dungeons (such as Grim Batol and Vortex Pinnacle) were in the right places but didn't feel as if they had enough backstory that tied them to their respective locations. With Temple, the dungeon itself is the result of quests played through in Jade Forest, and that really adds to the overall flavor of the dungeon in a good way.
If you're on the beta and frustrated with trying to level through zones that are clogged with many, many beta testers, you should give Temple of the Jade Serpent a try. While I do recommend trying it out after finishing Jade Forest for story's sake, there's really nothing stopping you from giving it a play-through prior to completing the zone if you're not all that concerned with story coherency. I hope that this trend of fairly quick and really fun dungeons continues into future zones. It was a lot of fun!
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