The Darkest Hour?

20 October 2010 § 4 Comments


I don’t think I’ve felt this angry, frustrated and confused about WoW ever before. I apologise in advance if this post is going to be rambling, or at least if it does so more than usual. I just need to do something to vent, and writing and trying to sort out my thoughts seem to be a better way than, say, uninstalling the game or ranting on the forums.

My usual 10-man raid has gone and extended the lockout, so we could kill Sindragosa and work on Heroic Lich King once again. Sindragosa was a 2-shot, which is about normal for us. Interestingly, she repeatedly gave out Unstable Magic to 2 healers in one go, while leaving our elemental shaman alone. You can imagine what it was to heal Heroic Sindragosa with 2 healers racking up Instability stacks in P3 – but we pulled through, no thanks to me, I admit, but mostly thanks to our awesome druid and paladin healers. Sindragosa is a fight where I always feel like I’m not pulling my weight at all, as I spend most of the time focusing on surviving myself (running out of Blistering Cold, making sure my Arcane Buffet stacks drop, not blowing the whole raid up with Instability, etc.) – all of that seemed to have been cranked up a million times.

That frustration however was NOTHING compared to what waited for us at Lich King. We first saw Heroic Lich King back in May. Then we got a bit distracted with mounts (at least a week), summer holidays, changing multiple raiders and gearing up the replacements, etc, so really it wasn’t until August that we started seriously working on it. Still, this has been one of the longest bosses I’ve ever worked in the game. Before 4.0 hit, we were consistently getting to P3, and working on handling Frostmourne phases and the crazy healing-on-the-go inside there, and Vile Spirit and soaking on the outside. In fact, we were at the point where we were thinking about doing something Beru mentioned on her blog: switch it to normal and work on Vile Spirit soaking, just to get the practice going without having to go through the rest of the Heroic fight. Beru’s group went on to kill the LK the following week, so I had hopes we were very very close.

Then the patch hit.

Today we had 15 attempts on Lich King (by the way, apparently there’s no counter anymore, so you can keep wiping on him if you want all week long), and managed to get to P2 ONCE, to the transition about 4-5 times. It was one of the most humiliating, demoralising and demotivating experiences of my life. Things that just made that fight a lot harder:

  1. Our elemental shaman cannot clear Plague anymore. Both myself and our holy paladin are basically spamming our heal full time, so we had resorted to having our shaman take care of Necrotic Plague very early on. For all his grumbling about it, he had become very very good at it, making split second decisions about fizzling the plague vs giving slow-movers just one split second more to reach the adds. Now we’re having our paladin tank doing the cleansing, but of course sometimes he’s just either GCD locked or too busy checking where the adds are, or where the shadow traps are, or where the plague is bouncing to see whether the Horror is going to live and frenzy or not.
  2. Our paladin tank lost a LOT of cooldowns: Ardent Defender works in a completely different (and much less useful) way, Divine Protection got nerfed to hell and back, and Guardian of the Ancient Kings is a lvl 85 ability, so yet to come. So he went splat a few times before either of the healers could figure out what was going on.
  3. Tricks being changed meant that our fury warrior suddenly found himself tanking the Lich King a couple of times, as soon as the Tricks threat disappeared from the tanks
  4. Healing throughput was just a lot lower, because of course Beacon doesn’t work that way anymore. We never tried to play the “stack the perfect classes for the encounter” game, but just happened to have a holy paladin and disc priest, which worked perfectly pre-patch, not so much now.

Personally, I had to ignore completely Atonement and Archangel, and just focus on shield spamming. What’s worse, I think the game has changed the way the cooldown on Shield is handled. Soul Warding leaves you with a 1 sec cooldown on Shield, which theoretically is not a problem because of the GCD being at least one second (and in fact more like 1.08 secs with my current haste). Yet, what I was seeing was that the cooldown on Shield was NOT overlapping with the GCD, and in fact starting when the GCD was already ¼ of the way through – it felt as though the cooldown on Shield started when the Shield was applied to the target, while the GCD started when I started casting the spell, and somehow the two events were not synchronous (maybe latency?). The consequence of all this was that my Shield was available again about 1.3 secs after I cast the previous one. That sounds ridiculously close to the previous values, but it was enough to completely screw up my rotation, so that I would get “Spell is not ready yet” messages more often than not, which meant I would waste more time then I should have shielding 10 people to prevent Infest, with predictable consequences.

I managed to compound the problem myself, by trying to solve the “Spell not ready yet” with a twitch spamming of my Shield button to make sure it got applied as soon as it was ready – except that the new spell queue system simply meant that I was getting MORE “Spell is not ready yet” messages, as opposed to more Shields.

It really feels like we went from being THIS close to beating Heroic Lich King to the place we were in May, when we began looking at this and felt completely overwhelmed. The problem is, I don’t know if my raid has enough resilience to just start over again – and quite frankly, for the first time in my memory, I don’t know if *I* have enough resilience for that. I don’t know if I want to quit, or respec to Holy, or switch to my druid, or what. I don’t know if I can ever get to doing this with practice, or if it’s just impossible. I don’t even know how to motivate my raid to keep working on this: on one hand we have people who are starting to suggest that maybe we should just sit back and relax and enjoy the time before Cataclysm; on the other I hear others considering that if that’s the case, then they are unlikely to stick around until Cataclysm, and once they are gone unlikely to return.

I understand that Blizzard has always done the pre-expansion patch this way, and that the game has always felt a bit wonky – but normally they pre-expansion patches have been a LOT closer to the expansion release (like, a month or so, not two like this time). Also, both times I felt like raiding got EASIER in the pre-expansion days, not way, way harder.

Bleargh. Writing helped a bit, but I need to mull this over and think what I want to do, and what I should do.


§ 4 Responses to The Darkest Hour?

  • Zinn says:

    Yes I noticed the same thing about the shield cooldown. It’s funny (?) how such a small change can make such a big difference. Since we don’t really have any other good heal (we don’t have time with atonement, I won’t even talk about Heal and Greater Heal and Penance/PoM has a cooldown) it really annoys me that they make our shields less usable too 😡

  • Tam says:

    God, I can’t imagine what would it be like to be working on heroic LK in the current setup. We were bad enough on normal LK, tbh. I kept screwing up my pre-infest shielding and I couldn’t work out why in the heat of the moment – I think you’ve nailed it here, and in some ways (although it’s annoying as hell) I’m glad it wasn’t just me sucking.

  • itanya_blade says:

    It seems like a lot of things are off.

    We did fine in all of ICC 25 except for LK. The add tank kept dying, the valks weren’t being slowed enough. defiles dropped in places far away from the person targets (once, one of the tanks was targeted for defile, but the pool dropped under me, while I was being dragged away by a valk. The tank was across the inner circle from me.)

    I wanna talk to you this weekend, Tsark, if I can snag you. Maybe chat about observations. You usually see things I don’t.

  • Gaia says:

    We experienced the same shock working on HLK as well from pre and post 4.0

    Especially with the nerf to Beacon. After noticing that all of the dps generally went up by quite a bit though, we decided to have our shaman switch to healing. We still have plenty of dps to make all of the necessary benchmarks, and the fact we went from having most of our raid able to dispel the disease to less than half caused a fair amount of confusion, but by the end of our first raid week we were back to consistently getting to phase3 again.

    We have brought it up before, but maybe it would be a good idea to take an hour or so out of one of our raids to switch it to normal and give everyone some practice with the vile spirit soaking strategies for phase3.

    My apology for the shameless promotion, but me and my co-tank/GM just started a new blog as well, trying to spread the word a bit: Dedicated Insanity

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