Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Return to Karazhan

In Patch 7.1, Blizzard returned to a fan-favourite instance from The Burning Crusade: Karazhan. The new Karazhan instance is a call-back to the old one, but is designed for a 5-person group, rather than a raid.

Return to Karazhan is also part of an interesting new trend in Legion: a move away from transient content, and towards more extended content. Return to Karazhan are is the third Mythic-only dungeon, and then there are also Mythic+ dungeons. Personally, I think it's a good trend, shifting the balance back. Regular heroic versions of these dungeons are coming in a later patch.

Return to Karazhan is also a much longer dungeon than we've seen in a very long time, maybe not since Blackrock Depths in Vanilla. The first time I went into Kara with a guild group, we only managed to kill 4 bosses in 4 hours. As one guildie put it, "[Kara] isn't a 5-man dungeon, it's a 5-man raid!"

The next week we did better, of course, and managed to down all 8 bosses in 4 hours. But it's still a very long instance, and would be a good candidate for a smaller guild to do over a couple of nights.

The bosses are all very well-done. They're almost all call-backs to the original bosses and share similar themes. Old-school players will recognize most of the fights, but the mechanics are all very well designed to work with a 5-man group instead of a raid.

The first half of the instance is fairly normal, but the second half has this crazy Alice-in-Wonderland feel to it. For example, for one part, you're shrunk down to a tiny size and have to deal with trash like a single normal rat (who hits like a truck, by the way) or a single spider. The boss of this area is a single Mana Devourer, which is a weak trash mob in the rest of the instance which you usually kill multiples at a time. That whole area just makes me smile when remembering it.

About the only negative thing I can say about Return to Karazhan is that the Chess event is not very good. It's kind of boring, takes up a lot of time, and it isn't even a boss with loot. It also comes at the very end of the instance where you just want to get to the final boss. It feels like something that should have been cut, but was left in because everyone would have complained if Return to Karazhan didn't have a Chess event like old Karazhan.

But all in all, Return to Karazhan is an excellent instance.


  1. A bit more about the Alice's Karazhan:

    - The loot chest is already spawned when you arrive to the library, but you're so small that you cannot open it (the corresponding message is hown up when you click on the chest).

    - The trash mobs before the Mana Devourer (rats, spiders, flying tomes) use the same abilities as the battle pets of the same name.

    - After you exit the library and go to the chess event, you're going through upside-down Karazhan. Level 70 ethereal trash mobs from original Karazhan are wandering on the "ceiling".

    1. Yeah, there are a lot of nice touches in that area.

      Another one is that when you're jumping down the pile of books, all the book covers are the covers from the "A Steamy Romance" series.

  2. I love the new Kara instance and it makes me sigh a little when people moan about it being too long. I just wonder how these people would have got on in Blackrock Depths back in the day. Just no patience nowadays =)

    1. Well, it all depends on the audience. It is too long if you expect to complete it in one play session with a group of strangers. But it's a good length if you expect to complete it in two play sessions with a guild group.

  3. Here's a question for you: should Blizz have broken up Blackrock Depths, Maraudon, and Dire Maul (among others) into the bite size chunks they did instead of leaving them the size they were? It sounds like Return to karazhan is saying the answer is no, and that these huge sprawling instances still have a part to play in the game.

    1. Yes and no. Karazhan is clearly broken into two halves. So next patch, Blizzard will add it as two dungeons in the dungeon finder.

      It's analogous to the raid model, where a single 7-boss raid gets broken into several sections with 2-3 bosses each for LFR.

      The only real change is starting with it as the full length, non-queue-able version for a couple months. We'll have to see if Blizzard reduces the difficulty in the LFG version as well.