Azuarc's leveling guide for Alliance, Act 24: Howling Fjord (68-70)
Welcome to Wrath of the Lich King. It's been quite a few months since the last installment of the guide, and I'm going to make an attempt to write a guide now based on having leveled through the zones once and now doing it a second time, however it's quite likely I will revise the guide if and when I'm able to go back. I make no claims to optimization -- only what I consider to be good advice.
And I consider the better of the two starter zones to quest in to be Borean Tundra...so we're going to Howling Fjord. Typical Azuarc logic, I know. So get yourself to Menethil Harbor in the Wetlands and take the boat there to Valgarde.
Most people consider Howling Fjord a better-looking and richer zone than Borean Tundra. I don't agree. More importantly, I find many of the quests in Fjord to be rather annoying or challenging, particularly to inbound under-leveled under-geared characters. We're going to do the beginning portions in an effort to get you back on top of the curve a little, and then dismiss the rest of the zone for now as being over our heads. Our primary goal is to quest through Borean Tundra.
Your first foray into the Fjord will be a fairly short one. The very first quest you'll get as you get off the dock is Hell Has Frozen Over, which leads you to talk to Vice Admiral Keller. Don't rush out of town too quickly. Feel free to catch up on your latest tradeskill trainers and whatever else you need to. Oh yeah, and DON'T FORGET TO SET YOUR HEARTHSTONE. (It really sucks to find yourself in Area 52 the first time you use it.)
When you're ready, step through the gates outside of town, kill some of the attackers that are incoming, and return to Keller.
For the follow-up, cross the stream and fight your way to the impaled scouts on the ground. It's often a challenge getting into that area safely between the mobs spawning toward the gates and the plentiful Vrykul in the area chopping at the trees. As you are freeing the scouts, head all the way to the left (west) toward Scout Valory and grab Fresh Legs. Return to town when you have completed Rescuing the Rescuers.
Upon returning to town, there should be a number of other quests that become available. One is to dive into the bay and grab a reagent pouch from the sunken ship. Dive in, and you should find Harold Lagras somewhere below the waters, who will ask you to collect crates for him -- and also give you a breathing helmet. Inspect the ship for the reagent pouch, get Harold's cargo and return it to him, and climb back to the surface.
It's time to enter the village proper. Start off with the first building on the east, where you will find Pulroy. Upon "talking" to him, you'll get a new quest to find the next lost team member. Move forward toward the back right part of the village, and use your incense burner to enter the world of spirits. Enter the very last building and watch the cutscene between the two spirit vrykul. Exit the building and continue around the path along the docks up to Defender Morun to get the two quests for Utgarde Keep. Return to town, and open three of the prisoner cages along the way if you haven't already.
There are only two quests for Utgarde Keep, which are already in your possession. It's also the easiest instance in all of Northrend. Feel free to go into Utgarde Keep if and when you feel like it.
Quests completed: Dragonflayer Battle Plans, The Path to Payback, Zedd's Probably Dead, And Then There Were Two..., The Depths of Depravity, The Shining Light, Guided By Honor, The Ring of Judgement, Stunning Defeat at the Ring, Return to Valgarde
This will be the first scene of any noticeable length, and essentially wraps up the quests directly out of Valgarde.
Return to Wyrmskull Village and stay to the left side this time. In the back corner is a cave with Yanis the Mystic. Kill him, take the plans in the back, and then find Zedd on one of the hooks outside the cave. These hooks are hanging from a ramp that leads into the catacombs, so after you discuss things with Zedd, go up this ramp and down the tunnel into the cats.
When you reach the bottom, you'll find Glorenfeld...still alive! He'll ask you to collect 10 of the tablets in the area. Gradually work your way forward, and turn left at the T at the end of the hall. Keep your eyes completely peeled for tablets as you do, and attempt to reach Ares the Oathbound. The Harpoon Operation Manual is on the ground right next to him. As soon as you accept his quest, however, you're going to want to turn around and run back the way you came and head down the stairs. (All the way down.) You'll run past a festering avalanche of scourge mobs and vermin, but the protective aura that Ares gives you should protect you from them. Find the sacred artifact in the basement and return to him before time runs out.
Finish collecting tablets and return to Glorenfeld. He'll send you to the room you passed on the way down the stairs into the vermin basement. That side room you ignored earlier has a fighting ring in it, and you'll see Daegarn in one of the cages there. Talk to him and he'll ask you to win the battles against the Vrykul gladiators. Eventually Oluf the Violent will appear and drop the quest item you need. Take it back to Glorenfeld, and then get back to Valgarde. Feel free to hearth if you like.
Zorek will send you back into Wyrmskull briefly. Stay down the eastern side and kill the guys along the docks until you get a Harpoon Control Mechanism, then return to him. He'll fly you to his buddy on the ridges up above, Lieutenant Icehammer. Watch the patch the flight takes in case you ever need to run it yourself.
Icehammer will ask you to travel north to the vrykul village of Baleheim and drop the Alliance banner at the campfire there. You'll need to defend it from attackers briefly, and then return once you get the (complete) message. The follow-up quest goes into Nifflevar to the south.
Nifflevar is a slightly larger town, and your primary objective is to kill Harpoon Master Yavus in one of the longhouses along the cliffs. You will also need to use your incense burner to check out the event occuring in the center of the town. Ride back to Icehammer when you finish. Don't go back to Valgarde unless you're quitting.
ELO in this case actually stands for Explorer's League Outpost, which is to the east of Nifflevar. Head to the ELO and talk to the folks there. Amidst the many wonderful Big Lebowski jokes you'll experience here, you'll find a few new quests. The first to attempt comes from the falconer on the rise next to the outpost. Go find some grubs underneath a rock, bring them back, and get your very own personal hunting falcon.
Dig up some more grubs as you travel southwest and look for Fjord Turkeys. Provided you have a grub to feed the falcon, target a turkey and click your falcon. You might be attacked when you do so. You'll need 1 grub per turkey, so you might want to pick up enough grubs first. Return to Hidalgo at the outpost when you have your turkeys.
Travel northward. As you do so, feel free to kill Shoveltusks, or at least the aggressive stags. SAVE YOUR FLANKS. They are for a cooking quest you will get shortly, and you need 6 of them. Also, grab grubs as you travel, cause you'll need 'em eventually.
Your destination is Ivald's Ruin, where you should find Donny under one of the tented platforms in the southeast side of the quarry. Grab his quest, enter the central region where you'll find Walt's tools on the raised platforms. Then circle the upper areas for the Iron Rune Destroyers to finish the job. Talk to Donny, and then return to Walt at the ELO.
Travel southwest toward where you collected the turkeys and look for orange hawks circling about. Some of them land on perches in the area, and others just fly high above. You could do some fancy targeting stuff with macros, but the easier approach is to just grab the hawks that are on the ground. They're typically in pairs, and the partner will attack you after your falcon takes down the first hawk. You'll also end up defending yourself from Shoveltusks on occasion as you do this, but you need a pristine shoveltusk hide anyway. You can finish the hawk quest at the end of the scene if it frustrates you and you just want to wait on respawn on the more easily-targeted hawks.
Go north into Nifflevar. One of the buildings in the southeast corner of the town has some hyenas outside it, guarding the large barrels there. Get a barrel, then go through one of the longhouses to the harpoon launchers below. Be sure to access the one farthest to the left along the "docks" to do It Goes to 11, because the right-most one can't actually reach the targets you need to hit. (Although if someone else is doing it, you can hop on the right one and leech their quest progress.)
Return to Baleheim once more, to the north. You'll find Industrial Strength Rope there. Also, hang around and kill mobs for Steel Ribbing if you don't already have it. Once you do, head back to Lieutenant Icehammer to complete It Goes to 11, and he'll send you back into Nifflevar to go harpoon surfing. Return to where you did the last quest, and you'll be able to take a quick ride back down to Valgarde.
Although this isn't the end of the scene, as written, do what you need to in town that you need to, including taking a break. When you're ready to go, talk to McGuyver at the water's edge for Dark Iron Ingots, and then take his flight back to the outpost. (Actually, the plane is pathetically slow and round-about, so if you're confident you know your way around, it's actually faster to run there yourself, but it's also an opportunity to AFK for 5-6 minutes.)
Finish grabbing hawks and a shoveltusk hide, and finish the quests.
Quests completed: There Exists No Honor Among Birds, Iron Constructs and You: Rocket Jumping, Collecting Data, and The Bluff, Lightning Infused Relics, The Delicate Sound of Thunder, To Westgarde Keep!, News From the East
Before we forget and get carried away in our last task, finish the falcon line by heading to the vrykul roost to the east of the outpost and accessing your falcon. This time you get direct control of the bird and can fly down into the bluffs to destroy hawk eggs. If you get attacked by the wandering mobs, use your other two buttons. Or just let the bird die and summon again. Hey, whatever.
Then go to Walt and lay down on his table. Stand on the glowing rune and press 1. Exit the vehicle when you land and talk to him. Rinse and repeat. The second time, you'll be interacting with the glowing crystal to your right. The third time, you need to stand on Lebronski's rug, and then use Bluff when he accosts you. These are all practice techniques for where you will be going next.
The fourth time you sit down on the table, you'll want to travel into Baelgun's Excavation Site in the southeast. You should not be attacked by any of the mobs, however you might be confronted by them. If that happens, stop and bluff them. Your primary goal is to work your way down the platforms to the cave. As you progress, inspect the data crystals throughout the area. Try to avoid the rock elementals that periodically show up. When you find your way down into the cave, go straight through it, and pause halfway through when the scripted event occurs where Loken starts talking to the dark irons. Come out the other side of the cave, stand on the glowing rune and go rune jumping to return back up to the top. You should be more or less done collecting data crystals, but hang out near the top to finish, and then go back to the outpost.
Walt will have you suit up one last time as he sends you quickly to Westgarde Keep. Talk to Captain Adams when you land.
There's plenty left to do in Howling Fjord, but I'm not a big fan of the area. If you've got 6 shoveltusk flanks, talk to the chef in the inn and complete Shoveltusk Soup Again? Leave the rest for later, unless you really want to remain here. You're more than welcome to continue to keep working, but the primary goal of doing the quests we did was to pick off the lower-level section of the zone, get a portion of the way into 70, and get some nice new shiny expansion gear.
To get to Borean Tundra, you have two choices. The first is you can simply go back to Valgarde, to Menethil, to Stormwind, and take the boat. The other approach, which takes just as long, but is more beneficial in the long run, is to leave Westgarde Keep to the southeast and look for the Ancient Lift. Get a ride on the lift down to Kamagua, (get the flight point,) and ride the great turtle to Moa'ki Harbor in Dragonblight, (get the flight point,) and taking the other dock there to Unu'pe in Borean Tundra, (get the flight point.) From there, follow the coast through Kaskala, and then ride in-land to the road and follow it south to Valiance Keep where we will describe your travels in Act 25.