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World of Warcraft Nostalgia: Maraudon
Maraudon was added to WOW post launch in one of the earliest major patch updates and you can see why that is. This is one of the largest dungeons in the game with only perhaps Black Rock Depths being bigger. It is a sprawling cavern with various environments that gave the place a lot of character. In fact, this place was so large that it was pretty rare for a group to clear all of it and instead would just pick a starting side and ignore the other half.
But before delving deeper into the dungeon, I should first talk about the zone it was inside of. Desolace lived up to its name quite well. It was nothing more than a gray wasteland with very little places in terms of interest. Although Cataclysm was breathed life back into this zone, you can still see a lot of evidence of how it used to be today.
As I was alliance in Vanilla, Desolace was an interesting place to get to. For the most part, Desolace was primarily a horde zone as they had quite a few more quests than the alliance and it was also easier for the horde to access. On my warlock, I first headed down there after receiving a bread crumb quest in the Hall of Explorers in Ironforge. As this was my first character, I never really had explored that much of Kalimdor at this point but by looking at the map I knew I had to pass through Stone Talon Mountains to get there. After spending time just finding the entrance to Stone Talon, I then remember running into Sun Rock Retreat not knowing it was a horde town. However, the guards were actually my level or lower and I just started killing them and made my way into the town. Luckily for me, no horde were around to kill me and I eventually found the back exit out of the town and made my way down into Desolace.
It is funny to think back now at how excited I was about going to Desolace. It was quite the journey for me to get there and also was one of the first places I headed to after acquiring my mount. After being greeted by the rolling plains of gray, I turned left where the quest was leading me and eventually found the alliance outpost up at the top of a cliff, built inside old night elf ruins. Funnily enough, since I was in my early 40's, I was a bit too high level for most of the quests there but that didn't stop me from doing them!
Except of course the breadcrumb quest that led me there was one I dropped ironically. It involved diving into ships to look for a few quest items. Keep in mind, this was before quest tracking told you exactly where to go and even before mods like Quest Helper existed (i never used those mods anyhow). So quests that involved going far out of your way to search a graveyard of ships for an item were a real pain, I'm sure any druids who leveled in vanilla can agree with me *cough* Aquatic Form Quest *cough*.
I won't get into the nitty gritty of all the quests in the zone though, but there are a few worth mentioning. First was the quest to gain the favor of either the Gelkis Clan or Magram Clan centaurs. Both of these factions actually had a reputation bar and you would grind out the reputation of one by killing members of the opposite faction. For the quest you only needed friendly status which was a bit of a grind but not too bad. However, you could grind out rep just for the sake of it but you were capped at revered. These factions no longer exist and were wiped out when Cataclysm launched.
Then there was the Kodo Graveyard. This was in the center of the zone and was really symbolic of the zone as a whole. Desolace was a place of death and unrest and the graveyard was the apex of that. If you died and ran around the kodo graveyard, you could actually find ghosts of kodos as well. Despite this being a rather dark place, the only quests that had to do with it were handed out by goblins, who are trying to make a few bucks of course.
One that never left my memory because of how gosh darn annoying it was, was the quest to collect Kodos for a Kodo rancher. You had to use an item on a kodo in the graveyard and then bring it all the way back to the rancher. Problem was, you needed 3 but could only do 1 at a time. You couldn't even mount up either, you had to run back and forth over and over.
But now onto the dungeon itself. Like I've said in previous articles, I'm no lore expert on wow. I pretty much did not pay any attention to quest text so whatever lore I got was purely through game play. For that reason, I always found it odd that Maraudon was themed around the centaur and that it was a burial place for them yet there were not any centaur related trash mobs or bosses inside the dungeon itself. There were a few ghosts outside the entrance, but once you get inside, it is a force of corrupted nature.
Nowadays, Maraudon has been split into 3 dungeons, despite the fact that when you enter through dungeon finder, nothing stops you from clearing all of it. What newer players may not realize though, is that those dungeons splits are pretty close to how people ran it back in vanilla, the only exception is that they would go all the way to the end.
When spamming chat for a group to this dungeon, one did not simply say "LFG Maraudon", no, you either were looking for a group for purple or orange. There were two separate entrances to this place with entirely different themes and bosses. You also had to go through a "mini-dungeon" that was a bit of a maze. To a new player, finding your way in could be a headache.
I remember that even though I ran this dungeon quite a few times, I always had trouble finding the entrance to the orange side. Purple always seemed more straightforward to get to, and with all the twisting tunnels that would go over each other, the map was not that much help. Purple was also way easier so more people grouped up for it and thinking back, i believe I only ever ran orange in vanilla twice.
Once the LFG finder was put into the game, it could end up being pretty bad if you had someone in your group who had never done Maraudon before. If they died and had to run back, they would most certainly get lost as the graveyard was still outside at the time. This was a similar situation to Deadmines, which had this same issue, although you could actually explain to someone how to reach the entrance. Explaining that for Maraudon is nearly impossible. I remember people simply just giving up the leaving the group, of course this has since been changed. The graveyard is now right in front of the dungeon entrance.
This was ran by a lot more people simply due to the fact that it was 10 times easier. This was the demon side and as one would expect, it was quite purple. Nothing too special happened here. It was just a bunch of trash packs with the occasional stealthed patrol add. It was not until you reached the boss did it get more interesting.
The first boss was a satyr who summoned a lot of adds and would stealth every now and then. For vanilla, this was one of the earlier more complex bosses mechanically. Up to this point, most were pretty much tank and spank. Add control for tanks was pretty bad during this time, so all the demons needed to be cc'd if possible. As I was a warlock, it was one of the few areas where Banish was useful.
After downing the boss, you continued on towards a waterfall. Right before reaching the water you encounter a pretty interesting mob. A pack of slimes which had a constant damaging AOE aura. They moved incredibly slow and required ranged characters to nuke them down. I remember SO MANY people, new to the place, just diving in and immediately dying. This was a fairly unique mechanic at the time, and honestly, it has not really been used much since then as it favors ranged characters.
Occasionally you could also run into a silver elite here for some bonus loot. But after a couple slime packs, you would jump off the water fall and get to the meeting place where the purple and orange sides merge.
Back in vanilla, the Orange side of Maraudon was fairly infamous. Few groups dared to venture inside just from the sheer amount of skill it demanded of the players. Although the trash mobs were much tougher on this side, the real reason this was so hard was for one little detail....the larva tube.
Sure Orange had some nasty mobs to deal with. The slimes I mentioned on the purple side were here in force and the patrols in this area were also slightly more deadly. It also had large packs of non-elites which required a good amount of AOE from your group. A mage was practically a requirement (as most other classes during this time lacked AOE or it did very little damage). But what really was a challenge was the constant stream of larva adds shooting out of a tube non-stop.
These larva would start coming at you before where they were coming from was even in sight. These fat yellow worms would keep coming and coming which never let your casters get a chance to get mana back. It suddenly became a gauntlet where you had to clear several trash packs while slowly making your way to the source of the larva. It was not uncommon to wipe while dealing with this.
When you did finally get close to the tube, it was not like a mob with HP that you would nuke down. Instead, it was a "doodad", as the game files would call it, where you had to right-click on it to destroy it. Sounds easier than killing it until you take into account that it required you to be out of combat to do so. You couldn't send someone up to it to destroy it, you had to always legitimately clear to it.
Once you finally dealt with the tube, the rest of the orange side became a lot easier, yet still harder than purple. The first boss, Noxxion, was fairly tough and was pretty complex. As you damaged him down, he would disappear and split into 4 tiny versions of himself. They had to be killed quick and then he would reform. Rinse and repeat until dead. Nowadays, this sounds super simple. However, keep in mind that tank threat was much harder to handle in vanilla. When these adds spawned, they would jump onto the healer and one thunderclap wouldn't always cut it to grab the aggro. Not to mention that dps would most likely get threat on them as well and suddenly they would be all over the place. I actually remember that this boss was such a headache, that people would actually skip him, saying it wasn't worth the trouble.
The second boss, Razorlash, was a lot easier. He was a plant with elemental properties and would change colors as he adapted to different elements. Sounds special but he really was a tank and spank with very little mechanics to even speak of. After him you would then find the point where orange and purple would meet up and it was on to the much more interesting part of the dungeon.
Celebras the Cursed
After following a river for a little bit, you would come across Celebras, a corrupted Keeper of the Grove. I always liked this boss for no real reason, I just thought he looked cool. Essentially he is the male version of a Dryad who would summon wave after wave of tree elementals. He wasn't that hard but he dropped fairly decent loot, including a fist weapon! Still to this day, my favorite weapon type, they were just so exotic in vanilla, So very rare.
Celebras also was the key to the quest to create the Scepter of Celebras. If you took the trouble to do the quest, after defeating Celebras, he would then craft the Scepter for you which was an item that created a portal to the center of Maraudon. This item was mainly for being able to skip both the Purple and Orange sides and get straight to the end of the dungeon. Eventually this item was updated to give it actual stats and became a real staff.
What is a real shame about this boss, is that in the current incarnation of Maraudon, you don't even fight him. If you queue up for Orange or Purple, you leave after finishing the halls bosses. And if the queue for the end, you simply skip over him. I just think it is weird that Blizzard decided to exclude this boss from the dungeon.
Earth Song Falls
Now to the most beautiful part of this dungeon. Up to this point, Maraudon doesn't look very special. But then you reach a rather breathtaking view of a water fall. You could go around and take a ramp, but where is the fun in that. JUMP.
It was a rather long fall though and I distinctly remember that, despite being in deep water, people would fall with enough force to go below the surface of the water and actually hit the ground and die. Clearly, this wasn't supposed to happen, but I recall this being a not so rare occurrence.
Once out of the water, you were faced with a room full of hydras that would lead into a long corridor of lizards and rock elementals. As you went through this lush cavern you would soon come down a large, high-roofed room with giants. All of these trash packs were no joke but they worked largely the same as they do today. As long as groups kept a steady pace, wipes were pretty rare here.
After ascending a path full of giants, you would come to a rock giant boss named Landslide. With his massive size, I was quite impressed with him on my first run through. He looked intimidating, yet he was actually quite easy. He would summon a few adds and do an AOE stun.
After a couple more trash packs, you suddenly walked into the final stretch. A long line of giants lined a path that lead to a circular platform. It was so long that the render distance on the furthest away giants made them not even appear. This always felt like a royal procession to me and that was probably intentional considering the name of the final boss.
After finally reaching the end of this hauntingly beautiful place, you were faced with quite the ugly foe, Princess Theradras. A female rock giant, with multiple faces, and she was no push over. She was a force to be reckon with and had surprising mechanics to unsuspecting players. Periodically she would send out shock waves that would do damage and knock everyone back. They sent you out in a large enough area, that healers would very often go out of range of other players and it was a desperate battle to do what little healing they could.
I remember wiping quite a bit on her, although not as much as Noxxion. Her loot was well worth it, as almost everything she dropped was incredibly good, and she even had a chance at dropping an epic! But after downing her you were done, well sort of. Maraudon was set up a bit weird, and there were in fact 2 additional bosses that could be killed.
One was Rotgrip, a giant crocolisk who swam around under Princess' platform. He was a tank and spank boss which people would usually do as he was quick to kill and had little to no trash. The second was a goblin by the name of Tinker Gizlock. He was incredibly out of the way, inside a series of caverns past Princess's room. Again, it was a simple tank and spank but most groups broke up and didn't bother with him. He had nice drops though, especially a really sick looking gear shield.
Ah Maraudon, looking back after writing all this, I really loved and hated this place. On the one hand the end was beautiful to look at and had some pretty cool bosses while on the other hand, the beginning was so boring and annoying that it makes you just want to skip past it. Either way I can't say I don't have fond memories of the place merely from the shear time commitment it asked of you.
As always, please add anything in the comments below that you feel I left out and please share your own stories, I really enjoy reading them.
Next time I will talk about the Badlands and Uldaman and I even can have a bit of a horde perspective on this zone for once.