The Townlong Steppes is located in the northwestern part of Pandaria and the zone borders both the Kun-lai Summit and the Valley of the Fourwinds. Once home to the Yaungol, it is the ancestral home of the Mantid, the race that forced the Mogu to build the Pandaren Wall to protect Pandaria. As the Mantid have attacked 100 years too early, the Wall is under attack once more.
The zone contains two dungeons, the Gate of the Setting Sun and the Siege of Niuzao Temple. Blizzard describes it thus (even if they get the name of their zone wrong):
Separated from the rest of Pandaria by the Pandaren Wall, the rampaging mantid people of the Townlong Wastes devour everything in their path in order to build their own crystalline empire of ruthless warriors and scheming feudal lords. The pandaren are left reeling when the mantid’s thousand-year cycle of aggression kicks off a hundred years too early and their greatest warriors burst through the Pandaren Wall. The beleaguered pandaren must now face the worst swarm in recorded history while trying to isolate the cause of the mantid’s erratic behavior.
The Mantid are the predominant race in the Townlong Steppes now that the Yaungol have been chased from their homes and into the Kun-lai Summit. Annother intelligent and highly-evolved race of insect-like creatures like the Nerubians, the Mantid have threatened the people of Pandaria since prehistoric times. Their society does have a queen, but they are not a hive mind like the Silithid. Sentient, they are capable of constructing tall buildings and mastering weapons.
Every mantid generation, the young hatch in incredible numbers and then swarm toward the rest of Pandaria. Devouring anything in their path, only the strongest return. That is why the Mogu built the Great Pandaren Wall to protect themselves from the Mantid swarm. The Pandaren realized they too would have a need for the wall and have maintained it since defeating the Mogu. The generational swarm has risen 100 years too soon this time, so the Pandarens are scrambling to defend themselves and the wall from their attacks.
It seems the reason for the early swarm may be that the Mantid queen has been corrupted. This can be assumed because of the new faction, the Klaxxi:
Keepers of the mantid culture, these stoic mantid lords have determined that their own queen has been corrupted and must be destroyed. Although wary of outsiders, it may be possible to earn the trust of the Klaxxi, gaining access to their unique arms and armor.
Siege of Niuzao Temple
Four bosses, but that is all we know about this dungeon so far. Speculation is that it will be another Mantid dungeon because of some of the Achievements that have been discovered.
The Gate of the Setting Sun
The Gate of the Setting Sun dungeon is located within the Pandaren Wall boundary between the Townlong Steppes and the Vale of Eternal Blossoms. Which zone actually contains this dungeon is unknown, so I am adding it again even though it was in the Vale of Eternal Blossoms wrap up. Since that post, the following bosses have been discovered in the Players Handbook:
Has a “devour” attack where he charges a player and eats them, inflicting massive damage over time. Other than that, he has lots of bombs and minions making for a fight heavily dependent on players not standing in crap that will kill them. The bombing strafe run at 70% and 30% health will be particularly difficult for some players to survive, I’m sure.
Simple boss – he deals damage and summons waves of adds, some stronger than others. Players will have to kill the stronger adds (called Saboteurs) while AoEing and dealing enough damage to the boss to kill him. The twist on this fight is the boss will “exude a viscos fluid” which decreases the damage of anyone standing in it – this includes the boss so tanks will be able to position him in this to their benefit.
This is another boss that will rape players with no awareness of their surroundings. Saboteur Kip’tilak throws a packs of Stable Munitions around the room. These won’t explode unless they are hit by another explosion, which can come from the boss or from players when the boss picks a player at random and attaches four explosives to their back. Then at 60% and 30% health, he will throw more Stable Munitions on the ground and these explode once all are placed. It seems all explosives are directional, exploding in the “cardinal directions” so it should be very easy to avoid damage – if players are paying attention.
This fight looks like a blast. I think the fight will go like this based on the abilities in the Players Handbook at the moment:
The boss shows up and charges the Outter Gate on the Pandaren Wall – players must stop him before he breaches the Inner Gate. Unfortunately, he has a heavy carapace and takes 100% reduced damage until his vulnerability is destroyed. This is near his head and players will be able to ride the boss to attack it. He doesn’t like that, so he will charge the gate and knock all players off, plus deal massive damage to them. Since the mantid are also a part of a swarm, he is summoning his most powerful friends to attack you as well.
So the boss attacks, players jump on him and attack his weakspot. Raigonn charges the wall and knocks them off. Eight Hive Protectorate show up and must be defeated before players can jump on the boss again. I think these will need to be single targeted because they have an ability that, once they get to 50% health, they cast Hive Mind which increases the attack speed of nearby Hive Protectorate by 50%.
Once all eight are dead, players will hop back on the boss until he charges the wall again. Then three Engulfing Mantid join the battle. These three mobs cast tornadoes that the players will have to avoid until they’re dead. Then players rinse and repeat the attack on the boss until the charge when the Swarm Bringer joins the battle and inflicts massive AoE damage on the party until he is destroyed.
Then the carapace is broken by the players and the last part of the fight starts. The boss takes 300% more damage, but doesn’t seem to be tankable. For one, he has a Fixate ability where he chases one player around who is given a 75% speed buff and places a tar on the ground, slowing anyone in it. He also slowly enrages, dealing more and more damage every time he does an AoE stomp so I think he will need to be kited by the Fixated player while the rest of the part tries to kill him with help from Pandaren Bowmen who show up after the carapace is broken.
Townlong Steppes is a level 89-90 questing zone, where players will be working with the Shado-Pan Clan to determine why the Mantid have attacked early. Whether or not the Klaxxi appear in this zone or the Dread Wastes has yet to be seen.
I want to see how they’re going to progress the story line, but unfortunately I feel a “Old God done gone and made the Queen insane” line coming up. The Townlong Steppes zone itself looks gorgeous, full of contrasting greens, reds and whites with towering trees and architecture. I’m hoping to see some Mantid villiages, but the fact that the Mantid are going to have a faction to interact with fascinates me by itself.
The dungeons look like they’ll be the best part of the zone, though. I cannot wait to get into the Gate of the Setting Sun and get a crack at the last boss. Ride ’em cowboy!