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Patch 4.1 PTR: Zul'Aman examined

Matt Low

After spending many hours and relying on the dungeon finder to pick up tanks on the 4.1 PTR, I managed to get a nice handle on the updated bosses in Zul'Aman. Unfortunately due to time constraints, the group was only able to challenge the first four animal bosses. We weren't able to progress past the Lynx or Dragonhawk bosses. While there were new mechanics introduced, after wiping over 10 times to the Dragonhawk boss, I can safely say that there need to be some slight numbers adjustments. WoW Insider rogue specialist Anne was able to join me as we continually wiped, figuring out new mechanics. Thank goodness for repair bots.

As an aside, perhaps someone can answer me this question: Why are raid groups looking for players for Icecrown Citadel on the test realm?

Gallery: Patch 4.1 PTR: Zul'Aman | 11 Photos

Initial impression?

Tough. This is an instance not meant for freshly dinged level 85s. You're going to want a mix of at least several blue pieces and mostly epics. It felt like a heroic dungeon for players who raid. I'm sporting an average item level of 358 in mostly raid gear, and I'm struggling on some parts, as you can see from the video. That could just be a byproduct of learning encounters, though. I don't think that's the intent of the developers. I think both Zul'Aman and Zul'Gurub were meant for players who have exhausted all the current heroic instances and have nothing else they can buy or do other than raiding.

Even though most of the trash packs have been removed, that doesn't mean they're any less challenging. Crowd control will need to be used in certain areas, especially with four-pulls. You'll notice not much of the actual instance has really changed in terms of visuals. That might change in future builds.

Tip: Keep a finger on your offensive dispels or de-enrage spells. Several mobs have abilities that increase their attack speed, spell haste or other attributes that make life difficult for your healer.

Nalorakk, the bear boss

By far the easiest of all the bosses we faced, I think he's also the most undertuned. He still transforms from troll form to bear form. Since the instance is now at a heroic dungeon level, the tank switching is no longer necessary.

Suggestions: Not much. This encounter seemed boring. He just charges the player who is the furthest away. Extremely easy tank and spank. The trash leading up to him was slightly more difficult.

Akil'zon, the eagle boss

Yup, the gauntlet is still there. The group still needs to keep moving. You can't waste your time. Once you take down one troll, you need to keep moving up while dragging the other troll with you. When you get to the boss, though, you'll notice there are a few changes. There's this white hawk that swoops down and picks up a player. That bird needs to get shot down (and yes, melee players can hit it and anyone that's being held by the bird can DPS it as well). Remember to stand under the cloud -- don't want to get blasted by unnecessary lightning, now.

Suggestions: Slightly lower the respawn rate on the gauntlet; I need to do more runs of that to confirm. It might be due to the group being unfamiliar with that part. Boss seems tuned okay after a few shots and wipes at it.

Jan'Alai, the dragonhawk boss

Yes, the area leading up Jan'Alai is littered with scouts. On the bright side, they don't appear to respawn anymore. Once they're down, they're down.

On Jan'Alai, all I can say is ouch. This guy hurts. Those eggs still need to be hatched on the sides by the hatchers. We tried a variety of ways to handle it, but those hatched hawks just overwhelmed us. I had the bright idea of letting one side spawn all of its hawks and then letting the other side do the same. Even that proved to be too much.

Suggestions: Dial the damage back slightly. We're able to consistently get to 35%. Once they all release, they bolt for me (the healer), and it's dead dwarf time. Reduce the number of debuffs that are applied from those hatched hawks. I had extreme difficulty trying to dispel and maintain health stability.

Halazzi, the lynx boss

He has a large arsenal of totems at his disposal. He drops a water totem that restores both health and mana; we found early on that it isn't restricted to restoring just the health of the boss, either! I was able to stand in it and regenerate some much-needed mana as we slowly dragged the boss around so that he could avoid those totems. The lynx still shows up after the troll gets taken down to a certain health percentage. However, what's been really giving us trouble is that the lynx just locks onto a player and then completely mauls the heck out of them. There is no way I can keep up with that and handle the totem. Yeowch! There's a big purple arrow that targets the affected player. Difficult to miss, but I just can't seem to react fast enough. Then again, I only had two shots against Lynx before we called it a day due to fatigue.

Suggestions: That Chain Lightning totem is either shooting too fast or shooting too hard. I couldn't find any other restoration totems around to stand near and ended up running out of mana. The lynx counterpart needs to be toned down some. It feels as if though when the Lynx looks at a player, he just crumples.

More testing ahead

Just a final note because I know someone's going to ask: if you want to know which UI I'm using on the PTR, I've been trying out Elv UI.

I'm hoping to get in there on the weekend so I can check out Malacrass and whoever the new final boss is. With luck, I won't have to sit through assorted undergeared tanks again. (I mean, 131k health? Really?)

Still, even though there is a level of familiarity with these troll bosses, I feel like I'm revisiting old friends again. I'm not sure what the timer at the top is for or if that was carried over from the raid. Right now, I'm more concerned about trying to take down some of the bosses as opposed to racing for another possible bear mount timer.

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