I started out running Vaktor through another round of quests in Hellfire Peninsula, not quite finishing all of them up, but leaving me a bit north of level 61, a gain of a little less than half a level. I then headed to Westfall to help Mrs. Ardwulf’s level 17 Warlock out with an escort quest. While I was waiting for her I ran (well, rode) around the zone and got the exploration achievement. After the escort, in which a Defias traitor takes you to the entrance of the Deadmines, I talked her into letting Vaktor run her through the instance – which after all, was right there.
This took longer than I expected it to, a little over an hour, because the place is decent-sized and there’s the thing you have to do with the cannon and so forth. Vaktor was never in any danger – no mobs seriously dented him, even when the big Tauren boss stunned him for like thirty freaking seconds while other mobs beat on him. A few of the bosses took more than a couple of hits to take down, which surprised me a little (they being 40 levels below me, by and large,) but the larger challenge was to make sure that Mrs. Ardwulf’s Warlock didn’t grab any aggro – which she could do from a pretty long range. I, on the other hand, had difficulty grabbing aggro without actually hitting a mob – at which point that mob was generally either almost or quite fully dead.
In the end, the Mrs. got the Deadmines achievement (I already had it from my previous run last year,) and some nice pieces of gear, and I got a couple of stacks of wool and silk that I stuck in the bank for use in various craft endeavors down the line, plus the satisfaction of making her happy and feeling like a mighty hero. And it was fun, mauling down mobs with one hit and killing swarms of them with Divine Storm (which is awesome.)
Afterwards we went to Sentinel Hill in Westfall to fly there. Rounding a tree, I see a level 58 Tauren Death Knight standing there with his PvP flag unwisely up. (Part of a group that turned out to be camping the Alliance Flight Master, although this particular guy probably wasn’t the one doing the killing.) I think I caught him utterly flatfooted, because while he dug deep into my health I took him down like a punk. Admittedly, as a ret-specced Paladin with quite a lot of +Stamina gear I should be okay at this kind of thing because I have high burst damage, the bread and butter of WoW PvP. A quick /hug on his rapidly-cooling corpse got me the ‘Make Love, Not Warcraft’ achievement. Remember, Death Knights need hugs, but you should kill them first for hygiene reasons.
Once the Flight Master respawned, I stood guard over him until the last of the group of Alliance folks waiting to fly out of there were gone. I waited another moment or so and tapped out myself when a level ?? (meaning at least 71st level, so presumably 80,) arrived. Back in Stormwind, after unloading our junk-filled bags, I caught up with Mrs. Ardwulf over near the Stormwind Stockades. Although it was at that point pretty late, I talked her into ‘just sticking our heads in there.’ Hah.
The Stockades is interesting, because although it’s nominally of higher level than Deadmines, it’s considerably less interesting and less challenging. There are plenty of trash mobs, and they’re a little bit tougher than the ones in Deadmines 922-23 Elites, mostly,), so I can certainly see how level-appropriate characters would pull a lot of aggro in the place, but whereas some of the encounters in Deadmines are really pretty challenging, even the bosses in the Stockades aren’t much tougher than the trash mobs, and don’t drop much better loot, for that matter. This leads me to think of the Stockades as the Alliance equivalent of Ragefire Chasm – intended to be your first dungeon experience, and thus demanding some caution but otherwise being pretty linear and easy. The fact that both dungeons are in the factional capitals was already one obvious parallel.
Half a level and three achievements, plus some additional work done on my Blacksmithing – I’m out of the Bronze stuff and burned up 120 Iron just like that – is, I think a pretty good productive evening. Mrs. Ardwulf and I are talking about getting each of our paired characters to level 20, and then picking one set and taking them to 80. This sounds like a good plan to me, although I am sure we’ll discuss it more tonight.