Posted tagged ‘Caverns of Time: The Culling of Stratholme’

WotLK: The Culling of Stratholme

December 12, 2008

This is one in a series of posts covering a WotLK 5-mans – from a Tank’s Point of View

Wrath given us many new instances, many with new mechanics, but you can always count on the Caverns of Time for unique encounters. From the very same Bronze Dragonflight that brought us ‘Jogging between portals in a swamp’ and ‘Slowly following Thrall across half of Azeroth’ we now get ‘The Culling of Strathholme.’

‘Old Strat’ is a level 80 instance located in the Caverns of Time in Taneras. There is a portal straight there in the Violet Hold in Dalaran, which really does cut down on travel time. Like the other level 80 instances, this can be run before hitting the level cap, but you will need to take things more slowly.

Enter the instance, and talk to Chromie to pick up an Arcane Disruptor. After an action packed game of “who is clicking the crates?” settle in for an in-game cutscene straight out of Warcraft 3 – and if you miss a bit of it, don’t worry; you watch all of it every time through. The lore here is great, and it totally fits with the WC3 mission “The Culling”, but seriously, if Halls of Stone can get a ‘fast forward’ button, then I think one is needed here too.

Once you talk to Arthas, follow him slowly (Thrall-style) into the city and talk with him to get things moving.

After another mini-cut scene.

I don’t mean to downplay the creepiness of the instance. The major point is to show Arthas as he once was – a young Paladin doing what he believed to be right. A bit over the top in his decision making – and certainly vengeful – but he was correct in that Stratholme was a lost cause. The issue is that he made his decision without knowing for certain. This isn’t Evil Arthas, but this is him on the precipice. This is showing how far he was willing to go, even before the Litch King had a hold on him. That drive for vengeance, more than anything else, is the story here – just as it was his ultimate undoing.

Once things finally get going, Arthas calls for those with strong arms (that’s you) to venture on into the city while he kills peasants for a while.

The first phase of the instance involves your party tracking down waves of mobs around the city. There will be four trash groups, and then Meathook, four more trash packs and the Salramm. All of these groups spawn randomly throughout the city – just look at your minimap for a flag telling you where the next pack is. The trash packs are made up of a variety of mob types, but are reasonably straight forward. I prefer to take the casters first, simply grouping them up and AoEing should work too.

Aside from the actual ‘waves’, there are ever present undead constantly respawning. These have almost no health, and barely do damage – just kill them as you go to keep them from grouping up too much.


The fifth wave is Meathook, a large abomination. He does a fair amount of damage focused on the tank, and may cause problems for healers of a melee heavy group. He frequently uses a low damage melee-range aoe, that interrupts casting for four seconds – due to this healers need to be at range.

However, being out of range opens you up to a Constricting Chains attack that damages and is a five second stun. The Chains are randomly cast on one person not in melee range, so if you have a small group at range, then they will be hit very very often. One way to deal with this is to pull Meathook around a corner, and to position you healer such that they can heal the tank, but not have LOS on the boss. Tricky, but it should be workable.

Slaughterhouse Sabatons may drop, and there are very nice plate boots for Warriors and Tankadins. Block Value is wasted on DKs, but there is enough defense that it may be worth using anyway.

Salramm the Fleshcrafter

Four more trash waves, and you’ll get Salramm the Fleshcrafter. Salramm is a necromancer, who will summons Ghouls and later explode them. Expect reasonably strong melee damage, and hard hitting (reflectable) Shadow Bolts.

He puts up a few debuffs, but there isn’t much you can do other than to heal through them. Tanking this fight comes down to making sure you can pick up the adds as they spawn, and occasionally moving a melee heavy group away from the ghoul corpses.

Flowing Cloak of Command – A very nice high armor tanking cloak may drop here.

Interlude w/ Arthas

With Salramm down, Arthas will run across the city, and patiently wait for you. Meet him, chat him up, and start the next phase of the instance. Here, you will follow young Arthas through the inn and deal with four groups of trash. The first, second and fourth groups are reasonably simple – grab the casters first, and group them up.

The third group shows up (through portals) on both sides of a hallway once Arthas enters. I prefer to wait at the entrance to the hallway, grab the two that appear there, and to then charge to the other end and grab the pair there. Shield Bash and Heroic Throw help to manipulate the casters – you may want to consider using CC if you have trouble getting any of them into position. Also note that Arthas is fairly useful in this phase, and is a reasonably capable off tank.

Chrono-Lord Epoch

With the fourth trash group down, the Chrono-Lord will show up. He is very reminiscent of the final boss in all CoT instances, except that he isn’t a dragon. He has several time stop/slow abilities, a Mortal Strike style hit, and will occasionally charge around the room hitting random members a few times – spread out some to help avoid some of this damage.

This is a reasonably simple fight, but the random element of the Time Warp charges can cause problems if the RNG targets your healer several times. No tank loot here.

Interlude w/ Arthas, again

With Epoch downed, it is time to follow Arthas through the burning streets of Stratholme. This is essentially a gauntlet, with one brief break about 70% of the way through. You may be thinking that Arthas – who has been generally useful to this point – may be of some benefit in this phase. You would be wrong.

Here we are given a sign of the darkness in Arthas’ heart. He is a ret-nub. An absolute menace, apparently actively working against the goals of the group. If an actual player that I brought was half as stupid as Arthas is in the this phase, I’d kick them without a second thought.

Your goal here is to quickly move through the city, taking group of after group of mobs. There are many non-elites, with the occasional stationary elite, and several moving groups of elites. The elites need to be tanked, then non-elites can be dps’d down.

Move through quickly, take a pack of two of elites, burn them down, and move on. This is where Arthas comes in. He often runs ahead – right past a group of mobs you have engaged – and pulls the next group. And the one after that.

Destroying Stratholme, Abandoning his men, Wiping out the high elves, Killing his own father, Laying waste to his kingdom – all that I can forgive…

Screwing up the pulls in my instance? Oh – it is on! We’ll finish this in Icecrown!


Talk to Arthas once more he will make his way towards Mal’Ganis.

Warning: You may see Arthas & Mal’Ganis start their chat, and be tempted to relax for a moment; perhaps to reach for a tasty beverage, having been lulled by the earlier long narrative interruptions in the instance. Don’t. They engage very quickly. If you aren’t ready, Mal’Ganis will run right past Arthas and one-shot your healer.. or so I hear.. I’m just saying..

The major pain in this fight is the sleep spell that Mal’Ganis casts. If he repeatedly targets your healer, things can get messy. Aside from hoping he chooses favorable targets for his sleeps, keep Mal’Ganis turned away from the group so that only that tank gets hit by his Carrion Swarm attack.

Mal’Ganis can be Disarmed, and warriors should consider doing do whenever their healer is incapacitated.

Flowing Cloak of Command is a very nice +defense shield that drops here. DK tanks can double dip here as the Dreadlord’s Blade is a great 2-hander.

With Mal’Ganis down, you can turn in the quest “A Royal Escort” – Druid tanks may like the Handwraps of Preserved History