Lich King Impressions

29 March 2010 § Leave a comment

Kae over at Dreambound has not posted her stick strategy yet – so I refer you to the excellent tankspot post/video for a general strategy. As always, I will cover our own strategy and tips that seem to be missing from other people’s videos or official strategies.

Phase 1 – aka the boring phase

We positioned the LK on a corner of the platform. If you are in the middle looking at the throne we used the top right corner, but I guess any corner would do. The point is – you want to minimise the distance between the three groups of people your raid will be split in: 1. the LK tank and the melee; 2. the ranged and healers; 3. the add tank. If you can bear with my leet Paint skills, something like this would do:

We used a resto druid on the raid for Infest, a holy priest on the add tank helping on the raid and a Disc priest on the LK tank.

Transition

We moved to the edge of the platform in the corner we were in (the big black line in my Kandinsky above), and spread out in a line, or a string of pearls (cue the sexual innuendo jokes when I suggested this). Make sure healers are not next to each other, or they will have trouble reaching some of the raiders. Priests, this is a great time to use Hymn of Hope – though you may lose a tick from pushback because of Pain and Suffering, it is just about the only time where raid damage can be handled by one healer only, assuming you kept mending bouncing and preshielded a few people. Also, make sure to fade if the Raging Spirit is on you – this prevents an insta-gib of the healer which is never a good thing.

Phase 2 – where things get interesting

The main point of this phase is to collapse for Val’kyrs, spread out for Defile. We had one of our dps calling out whatever was coming next, and then moved accordingly. Note that the second val’kyr is lined up with a defile: sometimes we got the val’kyr first, sometimes the Defile. For this (and any subsequent double dare) we spread out to the inside of the metal circle that is etched on the floor, as a kind of compromise.

Healing wise, the first 15 secs are bad: one tank will have a Raging Spirit (with the cone-of-DAMN-I’M-SILENCED), the other will have the Lich King, Infest is going on, and everyone is moving around. No special tricks to handle this – except to absolutely keep Mending bouncing to help with Infest, even if that’s not your task for the fight.

Note also that warlocks can hax the Val’kyrs: 1. put down a Summoning Circle on the edge of the platform, before you move in at the beginning of P2; 2. Whenever you’re collapsing to the middle for a Val’kyr, make sure you’re standing a couple of steps off the middle, towards your circle; 3. As the Val’kyr lets go of you, teleport; 4. Profit! That of course means that all the raid can ignore those particular Val’kyrs and just focus on the LK for that time. Careful though: your port has a cooldown, and it has happened to us that our warlock got picked up twice in a row, and the second time his teleport was not up – and of course, everyone had ignored the Val’kyr by then…

Second transition

This is a lot trickier than the first one: mostly, you’re often spread out, and not in the right position like you were at the end of P1. Also, P2 gets you into a groove, so often the start of the transition is a bit of a surprise – which often means that you are not moving and thus die to Remorseless Winter. Same thing as the first transition though – just one more Raging Spirit and more damage because of some Remorseless Winter ticks.

Also, if the LK is at 42% and a Val’kyr spawns, you can keep dpsing the LK: assuming you tip him over, he’ll respawn the platform and the Val’kyr will drop you there. Two caveats though: 1. it takes a while for the platform to respawn, so make sure you allow for that time; 2. the person picked up by the val’kyr will eat a LOT of Remorseless Winter – so make sure he is healed through it.

Phase 3 – Total Chaos

The first 20 seconds of P3 are cooldown central: you will have 2 Raging Spirits, Defile, Soul Reaper, one Harvest Soul and the first 10 Vile Spirits, all going up. Oh and a partridge on a pear tree. This is when you ask everyone to use Healthstones. Make sure the target for Harvest Soul gets some heal, of course, and keep the tanks up – and pray that Defile positions are actually decent.

The Frostmourne room is not too bad: most dps will just kill the bad guy while interrupting his channels, while most healers will heal Terenas while dispelling the Soul Rip debuff. Resto druids, Resto shamans and Shadow Priests get to be lucky, and have to watch both targets: resto druids will need to bear bash the cast, possibly after having put a set of HoTs on Terenas; shamans of course cannot dispel, so will have to Wind Shear the cast; SPriests probably don’t have silence, so need to make sure the Soul Rip debuff goes off ASAP.

Outside, the main issue will be dealing with the Vile Spirits. The main point will be to move from one side of the room to the other: the spirits spawn on top of the LK, so once they are spawned you want to put as much space as possibly between them and you. Make sure that you spread out, so you don’t get hit by AoEs too much, and also keep healthstones, pots and anything instant ready to save you (I would like to thank Desperate Prayer for saving my ass over and over). You can also try to soak the spirits: we used a dps warrior blowing shield wall (and with Divine Sacrifice from our paladin up), then the Earth Elemental from a shaman, then an Army of the Dead. After you’re out of cooldowns, you go back to the traditional “the OT taunts them all and tries to survive”.

Remember, you only need to get to 10% to win ūüôā

The King is Dead!

29 March 2010 § 7 Comments

After struggling for a week or two, we got everyone on a much nicer mood, got a new healer to replace Chabi who could not make our raid times anymore, and had a week of seriously good attempts. Today we were finally managing to get the Lich King consistently to P3 and so we finally could get some practice on the spirits. So, after almost four hours, having managed to use all my brownie points to stay raiding much longer than I should have, I finally call “Last pull of the night”. Readycheck comes back ready, we keep chatting as the intro goes on, then as usual I shield, PoM and penance the tank as the LK is going active…. and get instagibbed by it. Apparently, Ezma had been attacked by her daughter, and thus did not realise what was going on. We call a quick wipe, release, run back, rebuff and restart – and this time, Jarbel (our dps warrior√† is clearly afk and not moving. We go through a (much longer than usual) P1 and transition, and Jarbel still is not moving – we get lucky that Necrotic Plague from him jumps to a mob and not to someone else in the raid, but he’s not going to survive the platform demolition. As Arthas switches to P2, he comes back apologising – apparently, someone was at the door .

So we proceed through a flawless P2, a very smooth transition, and get into P3. We get the first 2 Vile Spirit spawns down, it’s my turn to be sucked into Frostmourne and I heal Terenas up (although I probably could have done it better/faster). Come back out, do 2 move Vile Spirit spawns, and Lyshai, our tank, goes down. Ezma picks the Lich King up perfectly well, and we start scrambling. He’s only at 16%, which makes this already our best attempt, but we have the tank and 2 dps down. Ezma goes down as he’s at 11%, and with 2 healers (Naieve and myself) and 2 dps (Pootar and Jarbel) up, we somehow manage to roll him over.

I really don’t think we could have cut it any closer than this…

Anyway, he’s dead, I got a new shiny staff, and we did it just in time to reset the instance and start on hard modes.

And I think that fight just aged me about 20 years…….

I’ll put up some considerations/tips for the fight tomorrow. I would also like to try my hand at writing some story about this – the death of Arthas is actually a pretty big thing for Tsark the character. As always, no promises though.

Updates in a rush

23 March 2010 § 1 Comment

I have a couple of long posts in the making, but I spent a lot of time today already posting over on our new guild forums (which are awesome, and all thank to Irons), so I really don’t have the time or the patience to work on the long posts here. So, you get treated to some quick updates on what I’ve been doing (I know, you all can’t wait, right?).

The raid is hitting a bit of a brick wall. A combination of attendance issues, with some low morale, has caused pretty poor perfomance, which has started a bad vicious circle, so we stalled this past couple of weeks (as I partly posted last Wednesday). However, I’m pretty confident we will solve all this soon, mostly because for the first time in ages I really don’t think we have a “problem raider” in the group, neither in terms of skills nor in terms of personality (and yes, we’ve had both – several times).

Gearwise, Torjin, my mage, got his T10 gloves from vault, the 264 version. I managed to get enough badges to get the T10 robes from the vendor (the 251 version of course), so now he has 2T9 and 2T10 – the fourth of my characters to do so. He also completed Loremaster, which took a bit of search for the right quests, but hey, it’s done. Tsark is finally getting his 4T10 this week – too bad I’m unlikely to use it unless I get into a 25man raid, given that the set bonus really is geared towards shield spamming (and the 2T9 set bonus for mending is too good to give up). The gearing up on my other alts has slowed down, mostly because I’ve been focusing on levelling my Alliance space-goat lightning-shooter.

Wait, what?

Yep, as I breifly mentioned before, I rolled a draenei elemental shaman on Argent Dawn, as part of the Single Abstract Noun social experiment. The shaman is now level 29, on the verge of getting Reincarnation – and enjoying the quests in Ashenvale and the PUGs through Gnomeragan. It’s been actually nice to be able to level with a good community around myself, and the fact I got to lvl 30 so quickly bodes well. The biggest perk has been having a very active guild chat window (I had to change the size of it, to be able to follow it without having to scroll up constantly), and discovering a lot of interesting small blogs out there, which are small and quirky and a bit off the trodden path, but quite interesting. It’s like being used to the Hollywood blockbusters of the blogs, and being treated to the French Nouvelle Vague movies: sometimes you don’t understand what these blogs say, sometimes you think they are full of crap, but most often they just wow you, and you’re not sure why. I will have to change my links soon to reflect that – and it’s getting to the point where I will also have to reorganise them, because there’s just too many.

The guild itself has grown exponentially, beyond all expectations of its founders. I think the US chapter has more than 800 members now, with lots of being lowbie. It’s kinda nice to explore Alliance that way, and it’s funny to see people taking long afks to go read each other’s blogs (they are in the guild notes). My readership has shot up this last week, and I’m sure this has something to do with it. On the flip side, I think I died at least twice because I started following links and forgot to move my character to a safe spot…

SAN has had its share of drama, both real and fake. The real drama is, I think, an exercise in miscommunication and misunderstanding. Lots of the players in SAN are new to the whole concept of RP, and Argent Dawn is an RP server. Most people ask in guilds about the RP expectations in such a server. Others just stumbled into Goldshire and were… surprised. So they just gawked and pointed and laughed at the “fail RP”. The veteran RPers then pointed out that doing this is dangerous and counterproductive – and tempers flared.¬† Anyway, the incident seems closed, but I think it will have some big consequences. For one, Crazyhealer has closed her blog as a result of this, which is a shame – not because I was such a huge fan of hers (I had discovered her literally the day before), but simply because “any man’s death diminishes me”, to quote John Dunne. But also, this incident, coming so early in the history of the guild, may tarnish its image in the eye of the bloggers and readers who were thinking about trying it out – and thus make SAN lose out on potential people, discussions and links, which is really the main wealth of this guild.

As for the fake drama? Medicina is a bossy meany – just try to ask her about the guild bank, and you’ll see what she answers.

Another Dungeon Finder story

19 March 2010 § 6 Comments

Admit it: we want Dungeon Finder stories to be about the¬† underdog proving he can tank/heal/dps way above his/her gear, and thus teaching the elitist pricks that doubted his/her ability a valuable lesson. We want them to be something like this, or like all the story that are popping up in the new Classified column at wow.com – a feel-good tale that Hollywood would like. I guess I’m just not that lucky, and get stuck with more traditional stories.

The time: yesterday. The place: Halls of Lightning PuG. I zone in with Tsark, and see a warlock in T10, a rogue in ICC gear, a hunter and a DK. Now, clearly, the tank has to be the DK, except he’s sporting 22k health with Fortitude. No problem, I think, he must be in dps gear. Then he says: “Ready?” and moves for the pull, and his health is still in the 24k region. Oh well, it’s HoL, I’m certainly geared enough to keep a new tank up, let’s see how it goes. I choose not to say anything, mostly because I don’t want people to leave group – I want to be able to finish this run and tell them: “See? You don’t need 40k health and ICC epics to do Heroics”. Of course, the dps have not even looked at the tank’s gear, and open up immediately with their AoE attacks on the first big group. I heal all of them, except the rogue that gets to help Loken redecorate the floor of his instance. As I rez him, I try the cautious approach, stating something like “if you haven’t noticed, our tank is a bit undergeared, so maybe we can wait a bit before unloading dps, and help him all the way we could?”.

The reaction is actually encouraging – a few grumbles, but mostly acceptance. So we keep going, get the first boss down and move to the Slag room. Throughout this time, the warlock has more healing received than the tank – it seems his entire action bar is nothing but seed of corruption, and our tank must have forgot to train D&D, so the mix is quite explosive. I don’t mind too much – if nothing else, it spices up a run that is normally quite dull. After that first rogue death, no-one else dies. We’re going a bit more slowly, but hey, that’s fine. In the meantime, I inspect the tank, and discover that his gear is worse than I thought: quest reward blues (with one green) and a weapon out of Forge of Souls. The gear is also ungemmed and unenchanted. I don’t know whether he’s def capped – he may well be, or at least he doesn’t get insta-gibbed by bosses. At the same time, enchants, even cheap ones, can add some considerable amount of stats – as do gems (although, in fairness, it was only a couple of gem slots anyway). Let’s not even talk about low-level craftables (Titansteel, how long I used thee).

So anyway – slag room. I brace myself for pain suppressing the tank, and hope that the rogue can survive with his own tricks (Cloak and whatever). However, I’m surprised to see the tank stop in the middle of the room and move to a side alcove. While I hang back and heal, some of the dps moves forward to the stairs, and gets more mobs. So the tank now has to run to get the new ones, ends up on the stairs, and promptly explodes when all the slags die on him. I pick him up, and watch in increasing astonishment as: a. the tank gives crap to the dps , because they didn’t “stop where he did”; b. the dps retorts that he should have gone “to the right spot” (which I presume is the stairs, arguably the right spot because a Titan came down one day and decreed “thou shalt tank the slags on the stairs and on the stairs only”); c. a window pops up, announcing someone started a vote to kick the tank.

I vote no, the vote passes anyway. As we queue again for another tank, I question the dps and of course, the excuse is “we were going too slow, we couldn’t reach our dps potential”. The possibility of not needing 6k+ dps in Halls of Lightning is not, apparently something that was considered.

So why am I blogging about this? Mostly, because the whole run left me with a strange feeling. I don’t think I personally could have done things differently: I tried to heal the tank and the group, and on average, did a decent job at it. I also voted “no” to the kick – because I’m stubborn, and want to finish stuff I start. Was the dps to blame? Yes, because they all voted yes to kicking a tank who was, in the end, not worse than the average DF tank – they were just looking at gear, and lamenting the fact that they had to push more than one button to get through a Heroic. Was the tank the victim? Not really – no crafted gear, no enchants and no gems really is asking for it, when you already are a fresh 80. Money to get the crafted gear is really not much of an issue these days, or shouldn’t be at least. Also, his tanking was less than spectacular: more often than not he would miss mobs in groups, which would proceed towards me until the first seed of corruption popped, or I faded, when they would go towards the warlock.

All in all, I think it’s the same old story: mismatched expectations, very different levels of interest in doing things in a slightly more difficult way – and a lot of miscommunication. If the tank had recognised that his gear wasn’t very good, and that he hadn’t had the time/money/inclination to gem and enchant it, we all might have laughed with him and kept going. If the dps had been a bit more mature about spending 5 mins more in the instance (which we ended up doing anyway, while we waited for the new tank), we could have gone through the rest fairly easily. Alas, we all reverted to easier schemas of communication – and the consequences might be minor, but it still disappoints me…

One of those days…

17 March 2010 § Leave a comment

Warning: whiney rant incoming

Ever had one of those days when everything seems to be going wrong? I just finished a raid like that – and yet the signs were all there for a stellar raid. We’ve been working on Lich King, and now have P2 down fairly well. We’ve also been plagued with inconsistent attendance (yours truly being one of the main culprits), but tonight all our raiders had signed up. Other raids that have matched our progression pretty closely got the Lich King in the last week or so: Dreambound/Kae’s raid, but also “local” raids on Feathermoon Horde. So, we were all pumped up.

The plan was to extend the raid lockout, and work on Lich King tonight, precisely because of the strong attendance list. Then, in case we had not killed him yet, we would reset the instance tomorrow and grab a couple of reserves to fill in the missing spots and re-clear  Рand eventually work again on the LK on Monday, our last raiding day of the week.

So, 2am comes, our start time – and Lyshai, our Main Tank is nowhere to be seen. He’s the epitome of reliability, so I wasn’t too worried – probably just got some extra work to take care of, and thus will be logging on any minute. So I assemble the rest of the raid, tell everyone to head in, start discussing strats on vent for P3 and reviewing what typically goes wrong for us in P2, then decide to kill the two valkyrs between the Upper Spire teleporter and the teleport pad to the Frozen Throne. Still no sign of Lyshai, and it’s now 2:30. We normally do the weekly, when we have similar situations, but the weekly is Lord Marrowgar, so no go there. Well, standing on the Frozen Throne does no good, so we decide to switch to alts and try to get the raid weekly done. We wipe twice on Marrowgar (thanks to not being used to our alt roles), not a big deal – when Lyshai finally appears. Turns out he had had a family occasion, which screwed up his sleep patterns. So, back on mains, we go in for the LK.

And we start wiping.

Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t expect a one-shot, so wipes are fine with me. The problem is, we are wiping to really stupid stuff: early dispels of disease for Necrotic Plague, standing in front of Shockwave, not enough dps on Valkyrs, pulling aggro on Raging Spirits and even, in one occasion, on the Lich King. I cannot even, in all conscience, say that it was the fault of one person or another. As a collective, as a group, we were just not there at all. We were distracted, making stupid mistakes that were costing us wipe after wipe. We managed to get to the second transition once, only to have it all fall down because of a late call for incoming transition, which meant three people died to Remorseless Winter.

What’s worse, I see the raid being distracted, and I have no clue what to do to put it back on track. This is where raid leading turns out to be much more of an art than a science – and sadly, my art was just not up to par. By that time I could not even speak on vent to try to cheer everyone up – my partner was moving around the flat and I know that if I want to keep my threat under manageable levels, I’m better off not speaking. Let me tell you – cheer leading through raid chat really doesn’t work very well. Breaks, in my experience, are a bit of a mixed blessing when it comes to refocus raids – so I didn’t call for one. I probably should have insisted on removing the raid extension and re-clearing the instance, given we were not going anywhere. Instead, we kept wiping for a little over 2 hours, and about 10 tries – only, in the end, to give in to the evidence and reset the instance.

In the remaining hour, we cleared Lower Spire, which gives us a bit of a head start for tomorrow. We also got the Rampart weekly quest, and the daily done (all good because I’m not going to be able to go to 25-man this week, and tomorrow I won’t be available for 10, so at least that’s 5 badges I got). I also got some more rep – now I’m 2k away from exalted, which means I’ll get it next week. So it wasn’t a total loss. But boy does it taste sour…

I think I’m just going to go ahead and hide at Single Abstract Noun for a while…

T10 – again

16 March 2010 § Leave a comment

Last Tuesday I got my 2 piece bonus – I know, I know, took my sweet time. I should actually write a post about how NOT to spend Emblems of Frost, given I bought two items I may end up not using with the first emblems I got in Jan and Feb. Anyway, we then proceeded to blast our way through ICC (one hour to clear Lower Spire, lulz), and got to LK in one night, and I was really looking forward to checking the logs to see how much had that bonus counted for.

The answer? 0.9%

I’m not sure if I was just not using FHeal enough, I got really unlucky with procs, or it’s just that the bonus is lot weaker than I thought. All in all, that’s not too bad when you consider it: the 2 pieces in question were actually upgrades even without considering the set bonus – so, really, that 1% is just a little extra. I would be curious to hear from other Disc priests though, to know whether I’m not using the set bonus the right way, or this is the right number to expect. To be honest, it may well be the right number: given my estimate that the 4-piece would buff my healing by about 1.5%, having the 2-piece contribute around 1% would make sense.

In other news, the 4pc bonus has been tweaked again: instead of buffing Power Word: Shield and Renew it now buffs Power Word: Shield and Circle of Healing. While I think it makes more sense to benefit Holy through Circle of Healing rather than Renew, I’m still not very convinced by the bonus. I will probably try to get it anyway, to be able to use it (if I ever go into a 25-man, for example, or for fights like the Twin Valkyrs), but I think my main set will stop at the 2-piece bonus.

Finally, I realised after I posted last week’s considerations about T10, that I should really use the shadow shoulders instead of the Stiffened Corpse Shoulderpads. Crit is always better than spirit, right?

To sum it all up, this is likely to be my regular set – or the goal to reach, at least:

I would also keep a shield-spamming set, with:

Finally, I would play around with a totally non-set setup, to compare with the 2-piece:

About T10

11 March 2010 § Leave a comment

Every tier of raiding, I find myself trying to decide how much of the tier set I want to have. This is a much more complicated decision that it may sound, influenced by many factors. The main constraint, of course, is the scarcity of Emblems of Frost. A full clear of ICC10 (with no Lich King) gives 23 badges + 5 from the ICC raid weekly (which luckily I can count on). Then there’s 5 more for the raid weekly, 4 more from Vault (10 and 25) . There’s also potentially 14 emblems from daily Heroics in a week – although that requires some dedication, I’ve actually been pretty good about that. So, that brings us to 51 badges per week – when the full set needs 405 emblems, which can easily be reduced to 310 if I want to just stick to four pieces for the set bonus.

Next come the actual evaluation of the set pieces. Gloves and legs have haste, which is right now the stat I need the least (haste cap for Disc Priests is easy to reach, as we all know). The other pieces are pretty standard, although why on earth we have THREE blue sockets on our set escapes me.

Are the set bonuses worth it? If they aren’t, then I can forego the whole set idea completely and be free to go for other pieces which may be better itemised (and often are). The 2-piece bonus is supposedly kinda nice. The 4-piece is changing from this to:

This bonus now increases the effectiveness of the caster’s Power Word: Shield and Renew spells by 5%. (Source)

The change is causing a lot of discussion (Divine Aegis, World of Matticus 1 and 2, are the probably the best summaries) – but going into that is not the goal of this post, and would sidetrack us considerably. So let’s assume this change goes live. Looking at my latest WoL report, Shield covers about 30% of my healing, with Renew accounting for another 3.5%. So that particular set bonus is likely to be an increase of about 1.5% of my healing – which is not huge, but not too bad either.

What about possible alternatives for the set piece slots? I don’t raid ICC25, so the set I’m going for is likely to be the 251 version for a little while. If I had to wage a bet, I would think we’d be killing the Lich King in 10 either this week or the next, so I’m not far from getting the marks to upgrade to the 264 version – but I have no illusion that those will come fast. Even though several of our raiders already have their 264 sets from their 25-man, that still leaves plenty of competition: given our raid composition, I will have a warlock, one more priest and a paladin on the same token as me. I can find three easy replacement that are ilvl264: robes, pants and gloves. We already determined that pants and gloves are the least desirable pieces of the set for me, so I’m likely to switch at least one of those out for the 264 emblem of frost alternative. Because pants are a much more important piece than gloves, I guess I will go for the Leggings of Woven Death.

As for drop alternatives, gloves either have haste-only (uninteresting) or hit rating (and for once, there’s nothing in 25-man either). For shoulders, eliminating the hit ones, there’s a decent crit pair – and another interesting crit one from 25, which are BoE. Moving to robes, there’s a good one, which are in fact better than the Emblem ones in Heroic version (mostly, they have better gem slots, which means I would get the socket bonus). There’s a really good helm, although it would certainly¬† not help the warlock look of the current set of gear… Finally, for legs, we have a similar situation to robes: there’s a pair that actually becomes better than the crafted one in the Heroic version (less haste, more crit), but is, on average, pretty close.

(One general consideration is that there’s much better itemisation in 10 than in 25 this time around, for the set slots. I guess that makes up a bit for the lack of offhands, but all in all I think it reinforces my idea that you change the way itemisation works for the future).

So, if I was completely uninterested in the set bonuses, this would be my choice:

The real question is what pieces to switch in to gain the set bonuses. If I decided to play with the 4 pieces, I would keep the Kilt of Untreated Wounds of the previous list, and keep set pieces for the other four slots: we already established that gloves and legs were the weakest items in the set, and given that legs are more important than gloves in terms of stats, I would rather reinforce them and keep weaker gloves than vice versa. For the 2 piece, I would keep the set shoulders, given that the alternative is not that much stronger, and probably the helm: the Cowl of Malefic Repose, while nice, is the piece with the highest haste and the lowest crit, so all in all the least desirable of those.

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