23 November 2010 § 3 Comments
The Shattering is happening as we speak, so it is time to say goodbye to the Wrath of the Lich King expansion. It may also be time to look back and reflect on different aspects of this expansion – both good and bad.
The levelling experience
I think Blizzard did a good job about the levelling experience. Most of the zones looked gorgeous, with some good stories and some decent foreshadowing of instances/events to come. I liked meeting King Ymiron in Howling Fjord, before facing him in Utgarde Pinnacle, and I wish this kind of foreshadowing was used more often. I really loved the Taunka storyline on Horde, as well as the Matthew Lehner story in Icecrown. If anything, I wish there was a tigher interaction between the storylines used in questing and the dungeons/raid instances of the expansion: why didn’t we do more with the whole story about the Lich King getting rid of his heart?
In a similar vein, let’s not have an Obsidian Sanctum debacle again: that instance had no story link with ANYTHING else in the game, it was just sort of there. I had to have a friend dig out the story behind the instance online, because there is literally nothing in the game to let us know what is it supposed to represent. In a similar vein, I was a bit disappointed with the whole Nexus War story: it features through a good part of Borean Tundra and Dragonblight, but then fizzles out completely in the later zones, and the fact that Malygos was a first-tier boss meant that we “solved it” way too early. Ulduar, awesome as it was, could have used some tighter link to the Scourge: I understand Yogg Saron has been helping with Arthas corruption, but in many ways that actually cheapens the Lich King story, which is more dramatic precisely because it is a story of a Prince choosing to do all those horrible things as a way to save his land. This is a minor gripe though, as Ulduar did have a good storyline throughout Storm Peaks, and I probably could just handle it being just a synchronicity issue, with a new menace emerging while we prepare to deal with Arthas.
We all know that Blizzard lamented that Illidan was a bit of an invisible enemy in Burning Crusade, as non-raiders hardly ever met him. With Arthas, I think they swung the pendulum the other way a bit too much, turning him too much into a 007 villain, never missing an opportunity to explain his plans in details only to let the heroes go so that they could eventually come back and get him. I hope with Deathwing they find a happier middle ground, maybe having major lore figures intercede and save adventurers, porting them to safety and similar, instead of having the boss just walk off the scene of the confrontation.
The gearing-up experience
The combination of badge gear, LFG tool, and higher-level 5-man dungeons meant that gearing was much easier and pleasurable than in either BC or Vanilla. I remember running alts through Karazhan right until the very end of the expansion, while thankfully we were spared running Naxx in the same way. The simplification of the badge system was probably needed, and sounds appropriate. I am a bit scared about what will happen with the LFG tool if instances and heroics are going to require more coordination: in many ways, I think LFG works well because you need no interaction with your group members. Let’s just say that I’ll try my damnedest to level and learn the dungeons with friends, rather than with the anonymous people who are likely to start a blame war (and a group quit) at the first wipe.
I really really like the idea of having some 5-man dungeons being designed for more geared playes, and I hope that they keep that design. One thing though: please do not have once again loot tables as long as the ICC 5-man ones, or at least try to make drop itemisation a bit more even. There were some slots that just required one boss, and one boss only, unless you had access to raid loot (not the case for many alts): caster shield, tank shield and caster offhand are all cases in point here. And please, keep in mind we have TWO trinket slots, so we need to have two decent trinkets per spec.
All in all, Wrath actually managed to reduce the gear gap considerably: right now, I think most 80 characters are in 245/251 gear, while most raiders would be in 264/277, a gap of only 1-2 tiers, which is completely acceptable.
The raiding experience
In raiding, the record is a bit mixed. There is no question to me that the high point of the raiding in this expansion was Ulduar. Bosses were fun, they progressed nicely from the easier Siege ones, to the Keepers, to Vezax and Yogg, and finally Algalon. There were also a nice number of side bosses which you could skip while progressing, and just do on off-nights or as filler. The fight were well thought out, with some nice mechanics, and they were very very different from each other and from what we had seen before. The art was absolutely fantastic, and thus the atmosphere was great.
I want to mention especially the in-game triggers of hard modes, which were, in my mind, the best possible way to have heroics. In-game triggers sometimes were actually a check, because if you could not manage to trigger the hard mode, you were just not geared enough to handle it (XT, Thorim); sometimes they were fun (“What happens if I push this red but… oh…”); and sometimes were just more traditional ways (Yogg, Freya). Blizzard has stated that they did not like the fact that it basically required players to look on outside sites how to actually trigger them, but that’s easily solved: for example, NPCs at the start of the instance could have dialogue options about how to trigger the different hard modes. It certainly made a lot more game sense than toggling an interface button (which is convenient, but a bit of a last resort measure in my mind).
I think there is also no doubt that the low point was Trial of the Crusader. The biggest problem there was the multiplication of instances, so that 10 and 25-man raiders ended up facing Icehowl 4 times a week, which is a surefire recipe for burnout. The fights were not too bad (I personally enjoyed the val’kyrs, Anub’Arak and Faction Champs), and the absence of trash was definitely a plus. The single room though was a definite bummer, as well as the really punishing hard mode of no-wipes (oh the frustration when one of our raiders would die to Faction Champs…). The whole tier of raiding was a bit lackluster, imo: I kinda understand Tirion’s idea of selecting the best fighters to get into ICC, as you want to avoid giving a Lich any more fodder to resurrect, but surely in that case you would want to mix Alliance and Horde (which Tirion doesn’t even try to do), and the selection could be a bit more serious than jousting. It really feels like the developers got enamored with the vehicle mechanic a bit too much, and maybe had a longing for Arthurian stories – but they just felt completely out of place here.
Naxx was not bad, but way too easy and just rehashed to be really enjoyable. Malygos was actually an interesting fight, but proved that players really take a long time to figure out a new mechanic. Controlling the drakes was not hard, but try teaching that to all the people in your 25-man… Sarth was ok, and I liked the 3D version (especially when you could not zerg it, and had to control it), except for its total lack of anchoring to the rest of the world.
Icecrown Citadel was enjoyable, probably just second to Ulduar in terms of awesomeness. I had some issues with stories (if Saurfang and Tirion and Muradin interact at the beginning, why do we suddenly need to race each other to get to the Lich King? Feels a bit contrived to me), and a strong desire for a more gradual progression of the hard modes: the jump between Sindragosa/Putricide to Lich King is a bit too much, it would be nice to have a more gradual progression. I am definitely in favour of a REALLY HARD final boss to the expansion, though, so no complaints there.
All in all, though, this has probably been the most enjoyable of the expansions so far, so I hope Blizzard can keep it up. Who knows, two years from now I may be writing the wrap up to the Cataclysm expansion…
12 November 2010 § 3 Comments
10 November 2010 § Leave a Comment
I think I finally hit the end-of-expansion slump. I still have technically a lot of stuff to do, but I can hardly manage to find the motivation to do it.
The 10-man raid is still working towards our Heroic Lich King kill. We’re getting the LK down in the 30-20% range regularly, but have a lot of trouble dealing with our exit from the second Frostmourne: for that phase, Vile Spirits have already started to descend, and as we spread out for Defile, our OT needs to collect them all, and somehow, we either spread too much and thus the tank cannot grab them, or Defile nabs us. One of our rogues is now on a 2-week trip, so we got a hunter to replace him: though we did lose some dps, we’re not doing too badly on that front, but the fight is really a struggle, and the fact we’ve been on this for the past 6 months is not exactly helping.
Tsark still has a lot of achievements to work for, but they are just too grindy for me to bother. I probably will start working on a few of them, the ones that I think I have a shot at getting, but I have surprisingly little incentive. Still, there’s a couple from Heroics I still need, and a few scattered ones that I never bothered with and I probably could get. There’s no way I will ever do the fishing ones, though – way too much RNG involved in those. I don’t mind farming too much, but I cannot stand RNG.
Speaking of farming, I cannot farm the ZG mounts on my own, and all the other mounts will still be there when I get to 85 and have an easier time farming them. I did make a list of the pets and mounts I have (yay for sites that help you track these things J), and found out (with some surprise) I did miss a few easy-to-get ones, so I’m now farming ToC dailies to get a Darkspear Raptor (not sure how I missed that one…) and farming Gundrak Raptors to get a Hatchling. Thankfully, the ToC dailies are much more generours in terms of Champion’s Seals (17 per day, so not too bad), and I am farming the Gundrak Raptors with a skinner, so I am getting a lot of leather that I need to buy my last few recipes. I have no clue what’s going to happen with some of the vanilla pets come Cataclysm, though. Case in point: is the Tiny Crimson Whelpling still going to drop from any mobs in Cata? I think I’m going to go farm that one after…
Dawn Vigil is starting to prepare for Cataclysm – in a much better way than we ever did prepare for Wrath. We are likely to be running two 10-man raids and one 25-man, though of course we are still finalising things. We are still looking for a few good raiders, though, so feel free to drop me a line if you are interested in Feathermoon Horde raiding!
My Argent Dawn squad of alts is progressing. Tessarquia, my shaman, is now fairly decently geared (mostly T10, with the exception of trinkets and little else). Osric, the mage, is in 2T10 – I should farm some more Heroics with him, but I just cannot find the motivation. My priest, Theophora, is just starting out Outlands now. The hunter, Lykon, is lvl 43, while my druid, Selvania, is lvl 30-something – these two will probably wait until Cataclysm to get some proper time. It’s kinda fun to level the squad as a unit, though, switching from one to the other depending on who has the most rested xp available. Tessa has also completed the Storm Peaks quests, which just leaves me with Grizzly Hills to explore from the Alliance point of view to have a complete picture. Again, I’m quite happy I’ve managed to see the stories from the other side of the faction divide.
On the negative side, though, the Single Abstract Noun experiment has… not given the results I had hoped for. The guild hardly ever has more than 3-4 people online at any time, and more often than not I am alone in there. This may well be because of my strange play times, but I know of at least two people who left precisely because the guild is not active enough. I think the problem is that most SAN members have mains elsewhere, and with those mains they have friends and raid obligations and what not – and a guild of alts is never going to be very active, which means you’re going to get into a negative spiral of inactivity.
All in all, I think I am getting ready for Cataclysm, especially since the dungeon scene looks a bit more interesting than the Wrath one was. So Deathwing – bring it on!
30 October 2010 § 2 Comments
The 25-man raid run by Dawn Vigil, my guild, managed to kill Lich King tonight, after a fairly remarkable progression. We extended once again, dispatched Sindy in 3-4 tries (last week she was pwning us), and then proceeded to go poke at the Lich King. Now, keep in mind that I am not sure we had ever got to P3 (I’m pretty sure *I* never got to P3 with the 25-man, but I know I missed a couple of progression nights), and the last we had seen LK was ages ago, as we focused on doing Heroics and getting a Shadowmourne done (we had a couple of Kingslayers from another raid who had kindly taken some of us along).
The raid proceeded to work incredibly well, to work out the MANY problems that were there at the start (from people not focusing on valkyrs to people not spreading out correctly, to defiles…) and steadily progressed to P3. With 30 mins of raid time to go, we got to P3 and 25%, and the following pull, the last pull of the night, everything came together and we managed to get through the whole fight. It wasn’t pretty, our tank died and got b-rezzed because of a failed Soul Harvest management (he may in fact have died twice – soulstone + b-rez – but I’m not sure, I may be mixing attempts up), but in the end, with about 10 people up, we wiped, rezzed, and pwned.
I know I normally just focus on 10-man achievements on this blog, but I want to recognise the effort of everyone in that raid: because of our relatively casual style, the “flexible raid lockouts” (please note the inverted commas of sarcasm) hit us fairly hard, as people were forced to choose whether their main and best characters were going to the 10 or 25-man version of ICC. So, 3 weeks ago we found ourselves with a third of a raid in 264s and 277s, and a third barely in 251s as some of the alts were not exactly the top geared ones. Mad props to Malicent, who since April has managed to lead this ragtag band, and to keep both the “hardcore progression” people and the “social/casual/farm content” people happy.
Personally, I know it took me a long time to stop trying to “backseat raid lead”: this is not my 25-man, and it will not always do what I would like to do. In the beginning, I think I tried to have the advantages of raid leadership (influence, deciding what to do, choosing strategies) without the hassle, and it just didn’t work. After a couple of tense moments with Malicent (which we fortunately solved through tells, posts and other relatively private channels), I’d like to think I’m a much more positive contributor to that raid now. I appreciate the fact that Mali took the the time to answer every time I wrote a /rant post, and I think in the end I’ve become a better raider for it.
Going forward, I think I’ll put my weight behind trying to keep the 25-man going in Cataclysm. My “hardcore fix” will always come from the 10-man: the team we have is likely to go further, and we can push towards hard modes, achievements and all the things that frustrate me to no end, but also get my adrenaline going. I believe however that a 25-man raid serves an important function in a guild as a glue that keeps the community going. Once Cata is released, there will be a flurry of activity as people level their mains and alts, gear up in dungeons, do quests and achievements and grinds. After a few months, though, all though will run dry, as it always does, and the main focus will be on raiding. People will log on during different times, because of time differences and schedule and life styles (and the fact we have people in Europe, Australia, and the US…). Without a 25-man to hold us together, I think we will go back to being effectively a group of smaller communities, and this will make us lose something. Beru posted a great collection of ideas about preparing your guild for Cataclysm, and while we are certainly nowhere close to Monolith’s size, I think her post started me thinking about what we can start doing now, so that Cataclysm doesn’t catch us unawares.
27 October 2010 § 2 Comments
After last week’s completely fail raid, I almost dreaded logging on Tsark anymore. Around this time in expansion, my game time on Tsark is basically spent raiding, and the last raid left such a sour taste in my mouth I wasn’t really ready to try the experience again. So no daily Heroic, no Vault, no PvP for Tsark this week: it’s been strictly Headless Horseman farming on several alts, and daily Heroics and daily quests on my Alliance toons (and some levelling, so my Alliance platoon is now starting to look almost acceptable ). Because of the flexible raid lockout (never has name been further from what it designates), of course I had to take someone else to the 25-man, so no Tsark there either – and because our shaman was unavailable on Friday, we did not go back for the rest of the week.
So, today, with a certain dread, we extended the lockout, zoned in, and went straight to the LK.
And it wasn’t as bad.
After three hours, we managed to get into P3 and to 37% health – which is not very far from what we were doing pre-patch. Of course, then we were getting to those percentages consistently, while today we barely managed to get consistently to P2. But it certainly beats our performance last week, by about a gazillion miles. Most importantly, the whole fight felt a lot more under control, which meant that the generalised feeling was that yes, with some work, we could get this done.
Some random observations:
1. I finally managed to get into the new Shield rhythm. I still get a lot of “Spell is not ready yet”, but partly because now I know about it, and partly because I pay more attention, I can handle that. Also, panicking a bit less and watching the general health a bit more, I managed to weave in wome Archangel work, too, mostly for the mana regen.
2. … which we really need, because not being able to proc multiple Rapture at each Infest means we run out of mana like nothing else. Most of our P2 attempts saw me chugging a potion and watching nervously my Shadowfiend and Hymn of Hope cooldown. I may look at some of the Spirit trinkets, or at least undo some of my reforging to get some Spirit back.
3. I also ended up being the plague dispeller – the paladin tank was just too busy to be able to do it reliably. This cut into my Evangelism time, but I can still at least do the Infest shielding, which is the essential part.
4. Boomkins being awesome back up healers is a thing of the past, as their mana regen is so tightly linked to proccing Eclipses that they cannot really sustain anything else. Elemental shamans, instead, seem to have more mana than they could use, so Jahag switched to the back up healing position.
5. I suspect our P2 are a LOT shorter than they were – they certainly feel that way to me, which would make sense with the increased dps of most classes. That means less valkyrs, which is an all around good news of course (we used to get about 4-5 valkyrs, I think, and now we’re closer to 3-4).
So there you have it, things are looking a lot brighter than they were. Now, the problem of course is that we do not have any other raiding scheduled this week (our paladin tank is moving across the US, so he won’t have his stuff before next week), then we will have one good week, then one of our rogues is away for 3 weeks for work… So basically we either kill him next week or almost not at all, as by the end of November I doubt we will keep the focus to do this. The thought is slightly scary…
In other news, on Monday we finally got Earth, Wind & Fire – we had tried it a few times before halfheartedly, and this time we got it with 3-4 pulls, so it was nice (albeit it was anything but a clean kill). On the alt levelling front, my Alliance priest is now Holy and enjoying Chakra immensely. She’s also on her way to Outland (2 more levels), so she is almost ready to get to the Big Leagues. Alliance hunter has reached 40, and of course my mage is now gearing up seriously.
Most importantly, Tessarquia, my SAN shaman, has finally managed to get a shield, which means I can go back to being a shaman with a 1H and a shield, not a stupid staff. Seriously though, 35+ runs of Pit of Saron normal, and nothing to show for it: I sincerely hope itemisation is done a bit more carefully in Cataclysm.
19 October 2010 § 5 Comments
A week has gone by, and while a fair few bugs still remain in the game, most of them have been solved by now. We lost one raid day due to our tanks having trouble downloading the patch, and the second one was cut short by rolling restarts (instance server first, then Feathermoon always means we are better off stopping the raid before the restarts, because the servers never come back in time). In all this, we managed to get most of ICC10 down, so it is time to share my impressions. Unfortunately, impressions are all that they are, because World of Logs, our site of choice for combat log analysis, is still a bit buggy (doesn’t show Power Word: Barrier at all; shows Atonement as two separate spells, one for hit and one for crits; doesn’t show pally shields; etc.).
So, in general, it is doable. Disc priests seem to have lost some throughput and flexibility, but mostly it is a matter of getting used to the new spells/new dynamics and I think we will get back into a good place. This, of course, should come as no surprise, given that our healing model really hasn’t changed that much (compared to a lot of the other healers, at least). We did wipe a couple of times because we just could not handle a spike in damage: mostly, I find that we can go along like normal, but our “oh shit” routines just don’t work anymore, so any small hiccups is likely to snowball into a wipe (Tamarind makes a similar observation over at Righteous Orbs, of course with a lot more wit)
In the end, I went with a slightly different spec from the one I suggested here a while back, mostly because of comments back in the EJ Disc priest forum thread, pointing out that we will not use Heal at all until higher levels, and so Strength of Souls is a bit of a waste. On the other hand, Darkness gives a nice haste boost, which we now (horror!) need. The single point in Mental Agility is simply needed to get Power Word: Barrier – feel free to put it anywhere else in the tree instead (I should probably put it in Inner Sanctum, as less spell damage is a good thing). Although I ended up not Penancing very much, I will keep the points in Train of Thought, because a) I need to put them somewhere; b) I need to Penance more to stop any stupid minor spike to disrupt our existing teetering balance.
I did not regem, mostly because I wanted to have a better feel for how things were. I did not reforge either, partly because of the same reason, and partly because BobTurkey had warned that Mastery was not a particularly desirable stat. He has since expanded on that, explaining that it may be ok now in ICC with our other ratings being so inflated, so I may reforge some of my spirit into mastery now, to check it out (I need haste for my Smites, and crit for my delicious Aegis, so spirit seems the obvious reforging candidate). I have since reforged all the spirit I could into mastery, and will post next week about how that feels.
The only other thing I changed was to take Inner Focus out of my Divine Hymn macro, and instead put it in a Gheal one. This gives me the chance to note that in my earlier talent discussion I had completely missed the reduced cooldown (45s now). I am still not sure it makes it a useful talent at 85, but it’s certainly better than I thought.
I ended up with 38% crit and about 690 haste, which means I’m not soft capped, but not far either (my FHeal shows 1.08 cast time with Borrowed Time).
Archangels, Barriers, and the lot
Moving on to some more specific comments, Atonement will probably be the one mechanic that will require some adjustment, although at least it got fixed during one of the restarts we’ve had, and is now healing correctly for 100% damage. Throughout all of Lower Spire, I was basically trying to have it up 100% of the time, so I was getting 5 Evangelism → Archangel, then shielding and mending and penancing. Of course, that’s because mana is still not a concern, so the only interesting part of Archangel is really the healing buff (and the cd reduction of Penance, through Train of Thought). I was probably smiting more than I should have, or rather, I wasn’t switching between job A and job B fast enough: I was smiting to full, Archangel, healing, smiting to full, etc. This means I was not using the cd reduction on Penance as much as I should have, which is a pity. This pattern also created two issues.
The first one is that I would get my 5 stacks of Evangelism up, while Archangel was still on cooldown. Arch has a 30 secs cooldown, and Evangelism lasts for 15, so it is not hard to see how that would happen. The problem of course is that I would then have to Smite again to refresh Evangelism – not a problem right now due to the mana abundant raiding environment, but if mana really becomes a serious issue afterwards, that’s a total waste of mana in our Archangel returns (well, not total waste, because you still get a heal, but yeah, not ideal either). A related issue is that I need to set up an alert in my UI to let me know how many stacks of Evangelism I have, and how long till they expire – I guess I will finally cave in and install Power Auras…
The second and bigger issue is that although Atonement is nice, the throughput is just not there, so we cannot use it during times of heavy damage. Case in point: Festergut, the early phase where the whole raid takes a ton of damage. We just did not seem to be able to keep up with the incoming damage – although the fact I got gassed didn’t exactly help either, but that never used to be much of an issue before. We ended up 3-healing, mostly because we didn’t feel like wiping multiple times, but I think it is possible to 2-heal this still, though it will require some much more careful throughput management. On a more general point, though, the issue is that Atonement will need to be carefully weaved during lull phases, possibly in preparation of bigger damage spikes happening (and Festergut is again a good example, because after the first inhale you can build up your atonement stacks, then keep them up during the second inhale with just a smite or two, and use Archangel to help deal with blight damage and the new spike).
The final consideration is that we will just need some basic experience with it to make Atonement work properly. My personal “d’oh!” moment was on Gunship, when I was smiting Riflemen happily and wondering why I wasn’t seeing Atonement heals (the answer of course is that NO-ONE was anywhere near the riflemen, so Atonement just didn’t find anyone to heal).
You know, as I’m writing this, I just realised one thing: does Archangel buff shields too, or just heals? I remember how shields needed to be included in the ICC buff with a hotfix, and I sincerely hope this is not the case with Archangel. I guess this is important enough to test, so I may grab a friendly fire mage and duel in Dalaran to test this.
Moving on to Power Word: Barrier, I have to admit it was a big disappointment. I cannot produce numbers, because, as I said, World of Logs is not recording any of it sadly. However, I was hard pressed to find a good use for it, partly because of the mechanics of ICC which heavily discourage clumping up, and partly because whenever I did put it down, the Barrier seemed to disappear very very quickly. I suspect it will just need a serious bump up in numbers, before it can become useful. Again, I’m happy to give it the benefit of the doubt, considering the needed adjustment, but so far, I have to say I am not impressed.
What did impress me, though, was Holy Nova. With 10 people in range I am getting hits for around 1k healing, more for people with abilities or talents increasing healing (e.g. our pally tank). With the fact that it’s instant, spammable with a very short GCD thanks to the glyph, I can see some fairly huge potential for it inside Frostmourne, during Heroic LK. The proof is in the pudding, of course, but I am actually excited about having a means to deal with that phase (together with mending, which becomes incredible in there).
I wanted to add one additional note about other healing classes. My healing partner throughout most of the instance was a holy paladin – and yes, it was much harder to keep up with healing with just the two of us healing, whereas we normally have no trouble. Again, I don’t want to say immediately that Holy paladins need a buff – it may simply be adjustment pains as we find our feet again. An interesting note is that we’re normally fairly close in healing outputs, and this was reproduced this time too – which would suggest my healing output has gone down too.
What was instead fairly amazing was how much more output a druid could generate. Our boomkin switched to resto to help us with Plague and Blood Wings. She admits she wasn’t really trying to maximise new rotations or anything, just plain Rejuv spamming, and she pulled ahead by 30% or more. Tildie is a very good healer in general, so it is not uncommon for her to be top healer in fights where the three of us are working together – but not by that much.
All this means may simply be that a basic druid rotation (OMGREJUVOMG!) is more effective than a basic priest one (OMGSHIELDOMG!) or paladin one (OMGFOLOMG!) – or that druids at 80 and in current gear levels and current raid content are more effective.
We will finish the instance tomorrow, and the real test will be to survive P1 of the LK: the increased dps should make the rest of the fight easier, but the spikes in P1 due to Shambling Horrors’ Frenzy kinda scare me a bit.
23 August 2010 § Leave a Comment
Another big gap between posts, though this one is slightly more expected (and I just neglected to put up some kind of notice). I was actually on holiday for about 3 weeks, with a week of travelling to my hometown before that, which meant about 4 weeks of sketchy internet connection and full days.
I am happy to report however that the raid is still plodding along: my absence has pushed the raid to suspend the Heroic LK attempts, but we’re back in business now, and starting to see more of P2. Our best attempt got LK to 52%, and it seems we’re now consistently getting into P2, which is nice. The 30% buff of course helps, and I hope to be able to post soon that we earned our Bane of the Lich King title.
On the actual fight, I have little to say. It is an extremely fun, madly challenging fight. We’re lucky enough to have a Disc Priest and a Holy Paladin in our line-up, which makes for a slightly easier time – though slightly easier still is infinitely more challenging than anything else in this expansion. I am relegated to shield-botting and throwing the occasional Penance when I can spare the time, watching like a hawk all my cooldowns (Shadowfiend, Hymn of Hope, Power Infusion, Pain Suppression) to make sure they are used correctly and as often as possible. To be honest I don’t mind the shield-botting part: I would not want to be doing that throughout the whole instance, but on one fight it is ok, and actually provides me with a different healing dynamic than what I’m used to.
Our raid composition has changed slightly again: Ezma, our DK tank, had to take a leave of absence because of RL issues, and Ghych, our Shadow Priest, similarly ran into scheduling issues. We’re lucky enough to have Tandrakh join us as our second tank: finding a 277-geared tank played by a guy we have known since Tempest Keep available to jump into our raid was a real stroke of luck (due to his own raid collapsing about a month before). We are not really replacing Ghych, mostly because Naieve is back into sub status more stably, and we prefer not to have to train and gear anyone else for the time being. That, however, does mean we’re doing Heroic LK with no replenishment – which also explains why Shadowfiend and Hymn of Hope cooldowns become so crucial now.
For the time being, we completely ignored Halion Heroic – in terms of epicness, LK is much more fun, so we may have a look at our very flamboyant dragon only once LK goes down (seriously, Blizzard, the color scheme on Halion makes me cringe every time…)
The sad note in all this? Still no beta invite for me. I was hoping my previous stint in the Wrath beta (and the fact I did receive a Starcraft invite) would make it more likely I would get an invitation to the Cataclysm one – apparently, I was wrong. I am following the changes to Disc, but so far, it doesn’t seem like things will change TOO much – especially not for 10-man players, who are already using their full arsenal of spells rather than just PW:S.
That’s all for now – I’m hoping this new school year will get me back into posting more often. We are approaching the one year anniversary of the blog, so I’ll need to think up something
25 May 2010 § 1 Comment
Just as we programmed, we completed Glory of the Icecrown Raider this week, which means we now have 10 frostwyrm mounts! We may need to run some of those achievements this week too, to get Jarbel his mount (he was missing last week, given our regular 11-man roster, and the fact he had been away the previous 3 weeks or so).
The achievements left were actually kinda fun. Full House is crazy towards the end, as you are juggling the adds, the spirits, the D&Ds, the frostbolts and trying not to AoE/cleave the adds to death. The Plagueworks ones are easy. As expected, the really tough one is All You Can Eat. I heard some people are using 3 tanks, and I can see why: the dps check is non-existent anymore (we had 3+ mins spare on our kill), and a third tank really makes transitions a lot easier. As it was, we did not have that luxury, so we were stuck with two tanks who had to transition almost perfectly every single time. The good news is that by now we are getting Sindragosa to P2 after only 2 air phases, so attempts are faster and you hear her voice less.
Our kill attempt was a cliffhanger, because, after 4+ hours of wipes on her total (over two nights), everything was going perfectly until, at around 2% health, our resto/boomkin, Tildie, yelled that her stacks had just ticked over to 6. Of course, it was too late for us to stop, but we somehow still got the achievement. I’m not sure whether there is a time buffer (don’t have 6 stacks for more than x seconds, x being very small) or a “stealth nerf” of the achievement (you cannot have more than 5, but really, it’s more than 6 that makes you fail). Either way, we’re not complaining! I have to say, I have enormous admiration for any raid that manages to pull this achievement off in 25-man: it was crazy enough managing 10 people and their stacks; with 25, it would be absolutely insane.
Now, I’m not exactly looking forward to playing with the Lich King, to be honest…
18 May 2010 § 1 Comment
Wow, has it really been that long since I updated this? Usual excuses, busy game, busy life, busy everything… A lot has happened in the two weeks or so without updates, so today I’ll just do a quick bullet points update, hopefully getting back into rhythm for the next post.
- The 10-man raid is kicking ass. Last week we got both Putricide hard AND Sindragosa hard. I always knew that we were close on both fights, and the main reason we stopped doing Sindragosa was the frustration factor of her voice plus the fight mechanics that give us 5 mins of boring fight (but still with killer mechanics) and then 30 secs of total and utter chaos as you switch to P2. So we went to work with Putricide, and put a fair bit of work there too, and had the fight done except for stupid mistakes and some dumb behaviour on my part (I will detail this in a post about Putricide, probably) – which of course meant we got it in 3 tries the following time. The biggest surprise was moving back to Sindragosa after about 3 weeks of not even seeing her, and realising that we were not rusty at all. So yay us, we’re 11/12 Heroic now. This week we will work on the remaining achievements to get our Frostwyrms, then it’s on to LK Heroic.
- … which is just an UNREAL fight. Because we had an extra raiding day and no bosses up in ICC, we went and pulled him a few times. To say we got roflstomped is putting it mildly. We pulled him four times: the first fight we lasted about 6 secs, as the first infest totally wiped us (yes, Infest – it hurts now). A rapid reassignment of healers (Disc priest on raid to shield everyone and make sure Infest doesn’t even START ticking, druid on tanks to help keeping them up), and we then started getting acquainted with the Shadow Traps of WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! I swear, I spent all 4 pulls of the LK giggling like a school kid because of the traps punting us across the whole platform – and a couple of extra zones for good measure… We had one pull where we ALMOST got to the first transition, with one person dead, but then things went south very rapidly. Oh did I mention all this is with a 15% Hellscream buff? I think this will be a long hard slog of a learning process – but that’s ok, we have about a month before Ruby Sanctum goes live, at least (and another 5% Hellscream goodness), so we’ll see.
- Our raiding roster is changing once again: Ghych, our Shadow priest extraordinaire, needs to leave us because of schedule changes. We will miss his amazing Holy offspecs (whenever we needed him to heal, there was this scary moment as I inspected him to find out what his spec looked like that day: we had “no Guardian Spirit” while working on Algalon, “the Renew spec” in ToC…), and his contributions to the Heroic Blood Princes (MORE WANDING OF THE BOMBS, please!)
- In a similar vein, Ezma, our tank, may leave us as well starting from next week. We are even sadder about this, not just because we’re losing an excellent tank and a great friend, but also because the circumstances leading to her departure are a lot less happy. Let’s just say, I’m wishing Ez the absolute best, and there’s always going to be a place for her in any raid I belong to, once her RL calms down a bit. And remember Ez – use your cooldowns!
- Back on Argent Dawn, my elemental shaman has got to Northrend. I’m blown away at how much more interesting Valgarde is compared to Vengeance Landing… it’s kinda nice to finally see the other half of the stories in Wrath – because let’s admit it, Blizz put a lot more efforts in stories through quests in this expansion than in the last two…
- Also, I started a priest on Argent Dawn, because I wanted to check out the quests in the southern part of Eastern Kingdoms. All I have to say is – either levelling in Westfall is VERY POORLY DONE, or levelling as a priest sucks, or I do. I don’t remember having to wand things down on Tsark, nor having to drink every pull that I don’t do that. I hope things are going to improve in Cataclysm, because this is by far the worst levelling experience I’ve had (and I’m happy I got through it with Tsark before I realised how needlessly hard it was, because I really enjoying playing a priest now).
That’s all for today – hopefully will be back with our regular programming from now on. See you in Azeroth!
28 April 2010 § Leave a Comment
Trying to catch up with all the hard modes/heroic, but it’s not easy! So, here we go!
Changes from normal: Any movement will cause a debuff called Shadow Prison, stacking. This debuff will damage you when you move, and it can stack pretty high.
When I read the description, I got a bit scared, because honestly there’s a lot of movement in this fight. However, it turns out that I was worrying about nothing. Shadow Prison is a non-issue: the debuff will hurt you only when you move, so even if you have it stacked very high, simply stopping will prevent you from taking any damage. The stack of debuffs itself will reset after 10 secs of no movement.
That said, the fight is still pretty hard, but that’s mostly because of the amped up version of the usual abilities. Kinetic Bombs start MUCH closer to the ground, and need a fair bit more damage. Pets are not enough to keep them afloat anymore, so ranged will need to keep a much closer watch on them. Bombs falling was actually our major source of failure, until we literally split the room in three quadrants (dais, left floor and right floor) and assigned one ranged dps to each section.
Everything else hurts a lot more too, so it is essential to minimise damage. That goes especially for the Keleseth tank: it is even more essential than in normal to keep 3 if not 4 orbs on him at all times, given the size of the Empowered Shadow Lances. The good news is that the shadow orbs give shadow resistance, which means that the tank does not have to worry about Shadow Prison too much. Careful though, because the tank healer still will have to limit its movements.
All in all, this is not a hard Heroic mode – it is however very frustrating, because a minor slip will cause wipes. My group got very far on the first try, but then it took us about 10 more before getting it, simply because as soon as one thing was going wrong, the whole raid was falling like a house of cards.
Blood Queen Lanathel
Changes from normal: the Queen now gains Presence of the Darkfallen, which increases her Shroud of Sorrow damage.
This is essentially the same as in normal: although the shroud will hurt progressively more, the difference will only be felt once you have many vampires in the raid, which is when their self healing will lighten the healing load in general. Air phases do hurt though (I was actually sure her Bloodbolt Whirls were affected by Presence of the Darkfallen too, before I checked the tooltip), so make sure you use healing/survival cooldowns during those. Also, because she has more health, the air phases happen slightly later, which means it is very important that bitten people wait until the end of Frenzied Bloodthirst to bite the next target. Basically, this will push the third round of bites towards the end of the second air phase – and considerably lighten the healing load of said air phase.
This is one of the easiest Heroic modes, and certainly the easiest one of the token-dropping bosses. It is very likely you will one- or two-shot it, even the first time you see it, as long as your raid has a clear biting order established and knows how to handle Swarming Shadows and Pacts of the Darkfallen.
I will post the Plagueworks soon (minus Putricide, which we’re still working on).