Tag Archives: raid

Maybe I Could Like Mists of Pandaria…

I’m reading through WoW Insider this morning catching up on all the newly released Mists News, and I picked out some of the things that stood out to me. All of the quotes and information I’m getting come from WoW Insider’s coverage of Mists, so you should check out the whole thing (it’s a lot!).

The Tillers are hardworking, salt-of-the-earth types who provide the rest of the pandaren with their food, but they’re too busy to take care of some local problems, like the virmen. Help them out and you can become a Tiller too, complete with your own plot of land. Yes, you heard right — your very own farm.

 When I was leveling in Westfall, someone mentioned “farming.” At that time, I asked my husband how I could get a farm, and he laughed. Well, they’re 6 years late, but I CAN GET MY FREAKING FARM!

Wait, did I just say beer elementals? Yes. In fact, they’re called “alementals.” This should give you a pretty good idea of the more light-hearted feel of this zone. While it’s not necessarily true that you won’t run into more serious threats in the Valley of the Four Winds, as a Blizzard rep said, “I’ve saved the world a bunch of times. I’m OK with saving the beer right now.”

That last quote, FTW.

While the art was not completed for the press preview, the developers did reveal that the reward for collecting all of the gold medals was a unique mount styled after the qilin from real world mythology.

I love mounts, I like achievements, and I like being challenged. Bring on challenge modes, I say.

The artifact sits in the center of the map. Whoever claims the artifact must hold onto it as long as possible — a difficult task, since not only is the opposing team trying to kill you and recover the artifact for themselves, but the artifact also causes a constantly increasing amount of damage over time to its bearer. The longer you hold it, the more dangerous holding it becomes. Once the bearer of the artifact dies, it falls to the floor and another player of either faction may pick it up.

 [...]

 The Silvershard Mine uses the Payload ruleset from Team Fortress 2. Players must escort a cart of resources from one end of the map to the other as quickly as possible. The cart only progresses forward when its owners are standing near it. The opposing team must stall the cart’s progress as much as possible to prevent a timely capture.

This is AWESOME. I can’t wait to get into these battlegrounds. I love new objective mechanics. I’m a dork like that. I hated Isle of Conquest, though; these sound much better.

To respec, you no longer return to your class trainer and pay a lump sum of gold. You swap out talents exactly the same way you do with glyphs right now. You purchase an item, spend that item to clear a tier of talents, then pick the new one. If you only want to change your level 45 talent, then you only change your level 45 talent. Forgetting one does not cause you to forget them all.

Regardless of how I feel about the new talents (and I’m still meh on them right now), being able to change just one point without going to a trainer is a huge quality of life change. Yes, I realize this wouldn’t be possible in our current talent system. NO, I DON’T CARE. /QQ.

…the appearance options are broken down differently. You choose a category (such as Hair), and then that category expands into a full-sized bar on the screen. That bar is filled with thumbnails displaying the various options.

 [...]

 Additionally, in the bottom right-hand side of the screen, there is a small gameplay video for your chosen class so you can see a little bit of how the game plays in action before you settle on it.

I like this a lot. The character customization process has needed a little love. Not that I’ll find time to make more characters…or will I?

Chris Metzen kicked off the Mists of Pandaria press event by explaining the tone and narrative goals of the expansion. Players have voiced concern because Mists of Pandaria does not have a clear, global threat in the vein of the Lich King or Deathwing.

 [...]

 Mists of Pandaria itself, the game that comes in the box, will be a full, contained story. The entire arc of Mists of Pandaria will be there when you install the game, before any content patches at all. The content patches will be treated as sequels to that story.

 [...]

 While the steps taking us there are still unknown, Metzen did reveal that the war waged in those patches will reach a massive conclusion: We will lay siege to Orgrimmar to remove the mantle of warchief from Garrosh Hellscream’s shoulders.

This was one of my chief concerns when they announced the expansion, so I’m glad to see it addressed straight out. I like the idea of having a complete story and then adding to it. And who doesn’t want to go overthrow Garrosh? I’m down.

…you will be getting an 11th character slot for your monk.

While I’m very glad I will be able to roll a monk without deleting anything I currently have, I’m a little disappointed. They had talked about doing a 50 character limit but not limiting it per server. I’d like to see that, or a much larger server cap, like 15 or 20. I’ve played on the same server for 6 years. I know people there, I’m not currently keen to roll elsewhere.

This is now what will make me roll my Pandaren. I only play female characters (I can’t get used to the way male characters walk. Sorry, guys. I still like you and all, you just walk funny), and I am THRILLED with this model. I can’t wait to create mine now.

I didn’t spend a lot of time actually playing a druid, but I did hear a bit of interesting news while I was playing other classes, so I hopped onto my premade druid to find out for myself. I was able to confirm that, yes, there are some minor glyphs druids are going to absolutely adore. Here they are:

  • Glyph of Stars: Transforms your Moonkin Form into Astral Form. This glyph essentially makes your character appear as a spirit instead of a moonkin. You look very nearly like you do while dead — but people can see you this time. And your armor, for that matter.
  • Glyph of the Orca: Transforms your Aquatic Form into an orca. This one is pretty straightforward. Remember those orcas in Northrend? Yeah. Much better than your weird snarling rubbery seal.
  • Glyph of the Chameleon: Gives you a random appearance when you shift into Bear or Cat Form. Essentially, this one gives you a random coloring every time you shift. Great for breaking up the monotony of locked-in bear/cat coloring.
  • Glyph of the Stag: Transforms your Travel Form into a stag that other players can mount. Yes, that’s right. Your pals can ride you while you’re in Travel Form, and you’re also a stag instead of the clearly-inferior cheetah.
  • Glyph of the Tree: Lets you transform into Treant Form.

 So these basically own, right?

Breaking this down one by one:

    • Glyph of Stars: I actually like my moonkin form, but I understand why those who don’t would love this. And who knows, the option of switching back and forth might appeal to me. It’s an option, and since they’re minor, it’s not like we have anything better to stick there. Might as well have something fun.
    • Glyph of the Orca: YES. Yes, yes, yes, yes. I love that.
    • Glyph of the Chameleon: Also yes. I will absolutely get this if I end up going feral, which is actually on the table right now.
    • Glyph of the Stag: HOLY CRAP. Putting aside all the “mount” jokes, this is ridiculously awesome. Yes, Michael Sacco, this basically owns.
    • Glyph of the Tree: Like permanently? I can go back to my favorite tree form for good? I CAN SINGLE-HANDEDLY BRING THE TWIST BACK TO MY GUILD?!!! Sign me up. Done. Sold. I like the aesthetic of the new tree form, I really do, but my in-game identity was that treant form for 3 years. I miss it.
Other tidbits: I’m looking forward to pet battles. I don’t care if you think they’re childish. I played Bejeweled when it was an in-game addon (anyone remember that?).  I think it’s going to be a blast.

The new zones look and sound cool. I’m eager to try them out.

Have I warmed up to Mists? I think I have. I’m not on the edge of my seat like I was for Wrath and Cata, but yeah, I’m ready to see what it’s all about.

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The Pressure to Be Bad

When I was younger, I heard about peer pressure all the time. Posters in my classrooms told me to stay above the influence, to think for myself, or to stand out in the crowd. School counselors came and told me to be bold and be a leader, while tons of TV shows (from Saved by the Bell to Boy Meets World) tried to demonstrate the consequences of caving to peer pressure.

Somewhere between then and now, peer pressure became much more subtle for me. No one even uses the term “peer pressure” to describe it in reference to adults, but it still very much exists. Feeling forced to bake an extra two dozen cupcakes for the bake sale because Jimmy’s mommy said she was going to? Peer pressure. Feeling bad about ignoring a coworker but doing it anyway because your office buddies think he’s stupid? Peer pressure. Or just ask any parent  you know about the “advice” he or she has been given about parenting over the years. The things we buy and say and do in our lives as adults are influenced by peer pressure every day.

World of Warcraft, at least the social aspects of it, is mostly populated by teenagers and adults, and whether we realize it or not, there is ample peer pressure in the WoW community (if you really don’t believe me, go take a close look at the forums sometime).

I’ve experienced this before and admittedly, I have caved on more than one occasion. There are lots of situations this comes into play, but today I was reminded of a particular circumstance that I have seen happen a dozen times over: the pressure to be a jerk.

Maybe you’re the kind of person who doesn’t care if someone’s DPS is low, and as long as you get through the instance, it’s okay. You might talk about it with your guildies, but unless the person seems open to suggestions, you’re not going to confront him or talk down to him, and unless he’s keeping you from succeeding, you probably wouldn’t be the one to initiate a vote kick for low DPS. Maybe you put him on ignore at the end of the run so you don’t end up in a group with him again, but overall, you leave him alone.

But perhaps you’re running with a group of friends who do make it a habit to berate players they deem “bad” (and sometimes they are bad, that’s the catch). Perhaps they start making snide comments at Low-DPSer until they’re straight-up insulting this person. What do you do if they try to draw you into their bashing? Do you ignore it? Do you tell them to lay off? Do you join in because it’s what’s expected of you? It’s easy to say that you wouldn’t be affected by their opinions, but it just isn’t true–if these are people in your guild or people you know in real life, their opinion is going to stick around you for a long time, and you’re going to make decisions at least partly based on that.

I’ve been in this situation many, many times. I have run with a lot of people who are exceptional players (and some who only think they are), and sometimes they forget that not everyone plays the game for the same reasons we raiders do, and sometimes they’re just full of themselves (or are so self-conscious they need to bully to feel big, just like IRL). Whatever the cause, it’s pretty easy for one or two people in a group to start a downward spiral of insults against another player who doesn’t meet their personal qualifications (protip: if you are this person, please run with guild groups and save us all the hassle of watching you be a butthead).

At the end of the run, what have you accomplished by joining in an unfriendly roast? Maybe you’ve gotten some kind of WoW street cred with your guildies, but if they’re the type to start this in the first place, their friendship is most likely fickle and definitely not worth the maintenance cost. Most likely, you’ve just made another player log off in disgust, swear off of tanking forever, or spec away from healing. Even if you haven’t affected them in that way, at the very least you made it to their ignore list. Congratulations?

It’s cheesy, it’s preachy, it’s childish, but it’s true: stay above the influence. Think for yourself. Stand out in the crowd as a leader, not a follower. Your bully buddies aren’t the only ones watching your actions and judging you on them. Your officers are watching, your class lead is watching, future guildies (or not) are watching–and so are the rest of us.

Set the tone. Greet your fellow PuGgers when they join the group. Take responsibility for the things you’ve done wrong. Be humorous, be friendly, be forgiving. It goes further than you know.

Play well, friends.

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I Told You So: The Decay of 25-mans, Part 1

On the day Blizzard announced that 10- and 25-man raids would share the same lockout, I looked at my husband and said, “I don’t like the sound of that.” When they announced that the raids would share the same loot, I said flat out, “That will be the death of 25-man raids.”

"Trade Chat" by Neko-samma

For the next several months, the discussion about the two popped up in a lot of places: my guild forums, the official forums, Twitter, blogs; heck, even Trade chat took a break from linking things inappropriately to talk about the change. Some people were really heated on one side or the other (which I think is pretty silly; it’s not about which one is better, it’s a matter of preference and opinion), while some didn’t care. Most sat in the middle, reserving their full opinion for when we actually saw how this would work out exactly.

Well, I’ve seen it. And my opinion remains unchanged.

I prefer 25-man raids. People tend to say, “The only thing that makes 25-mans harder than 10-mans is organizing it all.” That’s neither true nor false; it’s just an incomplete picture.

Yes, 25-mans are harder to organize. It is a million times easier to organize a 10-man if that’s your plan from the beginning. Finding 10-15 semi-reliable people who can make up a pretty decent composition is a cake walk for an experienced raid leader, and not too complicated for an inexperienced one, either. Wipe recovery takes less time because there are fewer people to recover, and having one hybrid dps/healer in your raid makes it a versatile environment for moving through bosses with different mechanics. Getting 25 people together at the same time and keeping them invested in a raid for a few hours is certainly a challenge.

But there’s so much more to it than that. The reason 25-mans are harder, all raid-forming considerations aside, is because there are 25 people. No, I’m not being stupid; follow along with me. In a 10-man raid, if one person fails to perform either in the meters or in raid awareness, it’s darn easy to spot: they’ll be the one whose dps is consistently holding you back during burn fights, or whose target continually dies, or whose mobs always go awry. Out of 10 people, one bad egg is going to shine like a glowing, shimmering Star of Fail.

In a 25-man, that person isn’t necessarily going to stand out as being consistently bad unless they’re either really dreadful or you’ve been alerted to the issue. You could have someone who is inconsistent in their performance but does just enough better than a couple of other people to keep their inconsistency hidden for a while.

This matters because having 25 people also means that there are more opportunities to wipe. This seems common sense, but really think about it for a minute: if you have 10 people, there are only 10 people who can wipe you. Even if you can only get 7 or 8 solid, consistent people in your raid, the odds are in your favor. In a 25-man, however; you’re going to reasonably have more lower- to marginally-performing raiders, so the pool of likely wipers goes from 2-3 to 5-6, not counting bad luck or a moment of indiscretion from one of your good raiders. Even if Blizzard really has tuned every raid to be the same level of mechanical difficulty for both raids, I think they are hard pressed to account for this difference.

If a 10-man raid and a 25-man raid go up against the same boss with relatively the same ratio of good to mediocre players (and luck not included), I think it’s fair to believe the 25-man will wipe more times than the 10-man raid in conquering that boss. Here’s the kicker: I don’t have any problem with that. For me, that level of difficulty is what makes raiding a challenge, and therefore, makes boss kills feel like achievements.

I know everyone doesn’t share that opinion, and I wouldn’t expect them to. Some people hate that aspect of 25-man raids, and for them, 10-mans are certainly the way to go. It doesn’t make them less accomplished in my eyes; they just like different aspects of raiding than I do, and I think having a choice to raid the way you want to is phenomenal.

However, while I’m not ready to say 25-mans are dead (not by a long shot; I know lots of 25-man guilds who are raiding and succeeding!), the ability to choose to raid in a 25-man setting is getting harder. This post is already longer than I intended, though; so I’m going to slap a part 1 sticker on it and explain why I say that tomorrow.

Continue on to I Told You So: The Decay of 25-mans, Part 2.

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Why Do You Do What You Do? and Other News

I came across an interesting website, and I thought it might be cool to take their idea and relate it to WoW, which meant demonstrating the answers to this question: Why do you do what you do…in WoW? Here are some of our answers:

Submitted by @Ultraking.

Continue reading

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Icecrown Citadel, The Plagueworks: Professor Putricide

Unrelated Intro (no, seriously, if you want to get right to the strat, scroll below the image). This happens about every three months. I get burnt out on doing anything that resembles work, and so I spend a week or two just playing the game I write about so often.

But we had a patch this week, which always increases the fervor for information. I’m not going to bother posting the patch notes this time ’round, you’re probably already read them, and everything that changed has been discussed ad nauseam. Good news: heroics are a little shorter and moonkin get a straight dps buff from Earth & Moon.  If you haven’t yet, read the notes here.

Now, to business!

TLBC Strats: Putricide

You’ve seen unordinary gas clouds and poisoned slime pipes, and you can fully appreciate my choice of the Professor Farnsworth image on my last strat post.

Now the green ooze and the orange gas combine in the hands of an oddly fierce Professor Putricide, and I have this to tell you: put on your running shoes.

There are three phases to this fight, but the first two are basically the same fight with some added mechanics, so I’d rather take you in order of the things you need to consider.

Positioning. You will have to fine tune this to your raid, I’m only going to tell you what we’ve chosen to do. There are two sides of the room: orange and green. You will be running back and forth between them. We start out with the tank, boss, and melee on the orange side and the ranged and healers on the green side. This is so we can try to encourage a slime pool to appear on the green side first; it works about 60-70% of the time. As soon as the slime pool drops, we run to the orange side with the tank.

slime poolThe Slime Pools. They are big. They are green. They are round. If you choose to stand in one, you deserve the repair cost that will come with your death. They exist in the first two phases for one reason only…

The Abom. An offtank will run in at the beginning of the fight, grab a potion from Putricide’s table, and become an Abomination, which he will remain until the beginning of phase 3. His job is twofold: first, he sucks up the green slime pools, because they grow quickly if not kept under control and they give the Abom energy. It’s important to not just gobble them up as quickly as possible (although there should consistently only be one slime pool on the ground), but to use the slime pools to maintain enough energy to do the second part of his job: using the Abom’s slowing attack on…

The Adds. There are two types of adds, and you will encounter them constantly through phase 1 and phase 2. Putricide will summon the add by casting Unstable Experiment. The green side will always spawn the add first, which is why we have everyone move to the orange side before the first Unstable Experiment. You need to start killing the adds the second they pop, but you absolutely MUST be at max range from them. For this reason, you will run from side to side as the adds die. You’ll start on the orange side and kill a green add, then you’ll run over to the green side and kill the orange add, and do that over and over again until you’re exhausted.

  • The Volatile Ooze is the green add, and it will target a random player and apply Volatile Adhesive. That person will be unable to move but will still be in full control of their abilities (so by all means, dps or heal). Hopefully he has been slowed by your Abom, and you can get him killed or nearly dead by the time he reaches that person. Once he reaches them, he will do a ton of AoE damage split between the nearest targets, so you’ll need to clump around the targeted player. Don’t collapse on him or her until the Volatile Ooze is about to catch them, though; because you could unwittingly produce a slime pool at their feet.
  • The Gas Cloud is the orange add. It targets a random player and begins to chase them, giving them a debuff called Gaseous Bloat. The debuff will start out stacked, and the stacks will lessen over time. The fewer stacks on the target when the Gas Cloud reaches them, the less damage will be done. If a Gas Cloud reaches a target with 5+ stacks, the explosion done will probably cause a wipe. So that target needs to be healed, and they need to kite that sucker for as long as possible.
gas

Gaseous Bloat...?

Tear Gas serves as the phase shift mechanic. At 80% (and again at 35%), Putricide will throw out Tear Gas, stunning everyone in the raid for about 10 seconds.  He will run to the table, drink a potion, and come back with more abilities to contend with. For this reason, we stop dps around 82% and around 37%. Between the time one of the adds dies and he casts Unstable Experiment again, we burn him to the transition; in this way we make sure no adds are standing during the transition.

Malleable Goo This stupid mechanic has wiped our raids a lot. It’s easily avoidable, but it will require your attention. In addition to the Unstable Experiments, he will now also target players and send Malleable Goo in their direction. They are big, green, flying balls of ooze, and if you see one of them coming towards you, you should get the heck away from it, as it  does a significant amount of damage and decreases your cast and GCD times by…well, by A LOT.   These oozes bounce, too; so just stay out of their trajectory. Although conditional, if you see the oozes flying right at you, the safest course of action is to run to the boss (do NOT clump at the boss’s feet; if there are not enough ranged he will target melee with goo, and that’s BAD!). Please don’t be one of the players that dies to Malleable Goo. Please, I beg you, fellow moonkin–don’t die to this!

Choking Gas Cloud These are two flasks he drops on the ground starting in Phase 2. They are big, orange circles with flasks in the middle, and they’re always together and within 5 feet of each other. They are landmines, triggering when a player touches them and raining AoE damage on anyone nearby. This is really, really bad. Avoid the flasks at all costs. For ranged, this should be ridiculously easy.

So now you’ve been killing adds for two phases, your Abom has been sucking up bellyfuls of goo, and you’ve been successfully dodging Malleable Goo and dancing around Choking Gas Clouds. Time for phase 3!

BURN HIM but don’t stop avoiding hazards! At this point, your offtank will no longer be an Abom, and he’ll need to get with the main tank and other offtank (we use 3 tanks) so they can taunt off back and forth again (yes, another stacking debuff boss–I think our tanks taunt at 4). While he won’t do any more Unstable Experiments, he will continue to do all of his other abilities, so you still need to avoid goo and flasks. Unfortunately, he also continues to drop slime pools. With no Abom to suck them up, these will eventually spread across the room. Your tanks will be kiting him out of the ooze, but you need to kill him as quickly as possible before the ooze fills the room. Burn every cooldown you have and bring that sucker to his knees as fast as you can.

And, as every boss that gives us trouble requires one…a diagram!

Putricide!!1!

Definitely the first truly staggering fight in terms of complexity thus far in ICC (although Blood Princes is a ridiculous avoid-this-that-this-and-this-too fight as well), but I think once this fight clicks for you, you’ll enjoy it as much as I do.

Update! When I wrote this strat, we had killed him in our 10-mans but were absolutely stonewalled in 25. Well, we finally got him! Here’s the killshot:

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Icecrown Citadel: Lower Spire, part 2

TLBC Strats: ICC

I cut part 1 off before Saurfang only because a) the post was getting long, and b) if you’re still making it through Lower Spire, Saurfang’s probably going to be your stumbling block.  So, without further adieu:

Deathbringer Saurfang

Blood Points.  This is the reason for almost all of the other things I’m about to go over.  Where his mana bar would be, Saurfang has a Blood Points bar.  For every bit of damage (excluding regular melee hits) he does, he receives a blood point.  When his points reach 100, he will place a debuff on a random target.  This debuff is called…

Mark of the Fallen Champion.  Whoever gets Marked will have that mark throughout the entire encounter, and it will do significant amounts of damage to that person.  Healers MUST heal this player.  If this person dies, they should not reincarnate, use a soulstone, or be battle rezzed, as they will still have the mark when they are rezzed.

The reason Mark is such a big deal is this:  the more marks that get out, the more damage he’s doing.  The more damage he’s doing, the more blood points he’s getting.  The more blood points he’s getting, the faster he’s putting marks on people.  Track with me here, sniper:   if people take too much damage in the raid, you will get to a point where it’s unhealable and you’ll be done.

ouchie

It is very important, then, to make sure as few people get damaged as possible.  Sounds crazy, considering all of the ways you can get hurt, but this is how you prevent it:

Spread Out.  When you think you’re spread out enough, spread out some more.  If you’re using DBM, you can set your /distance to 11, and you should.  You need to be 12 yards from every other player.  For heavily ranged groups (as we generally are) this is a PAIN, but it can be done.  He does an ability called Blood Nova that does damage to a random raid member AND to anyone within 12 yards of that person.  You can’t do anything to prevent one raid member from getting hit with it, but if you can limit the AoE’s effects, that’s fewer Blood Points for old Saurfang.

Yeah, I cast it.

Kill Blood Beasts.  He’s going to frequently call Blood Beasts (5 on 25, 2 on 10).  It is extremely important that ranged kill the Blood Beasts as soon as possible.  It is also extremely important that melee doesn’t touch them.  Every single time a Blood Beast hits a raid member, it will give Saurfang more points (this is starting to sound like some sick video game…oh, wait).  Oh yeah, and they’re almost unaffected by AoE damage.

There are several ways to handle this.  Ours is a free-for-all method that’s scary but somehow works.  We let ranged start dpsing Blood Beasts as soon as they spawn.  If one of us gets aggro from a beast (of course we do), then we have to kite it and not allow it to hit us.  For me, this means speccing and unglyphing Typhoon and using roots if necessary.

Other ways to handle Blood Beasts include creative uses of Typhoon and Earthbind Totems/Frost Traps, like using two Moonkin to Typhoon them to the doorway and killing them there, or having a Moonkin, or Moonkin and partner (like a lock or hunter), get aggro from them and then Typhoon them away when they get close.  There’s a lot of Moonkin in these strats; I like it.

Boiling Blood.  Sorry healers, this one is all on you.  A handful of random raid members will occasionally get it with Boiling Blood, a DoT that ticks for around 5k eight times.  It hurts, and it gives Saurfang points, but there’s nothing you can do about it but heal people through it.

Rune of Blood.  And tanks, this is all on you.  Once again, this is a fight where you’ll have to taunt off each other.  If a tank has Rune of Blood, then every melee hit will also give Saurfang points.  Not surprisingly, this means you’ll need 2 tanks to rotate, making sure that a tank with Rune of Blood is never his target.

Finally, consider using Amplify Magic if you have enough mages to spread it around without too much groaning and crying.  All of his abilities are classified as physical damage, which means Amplify Magic will only affect healing.

The name of the game is minimizing damage.  Do that, and you’ll be watching the majorly cool cut-scene type moment that comes with his death, not to mention moving into the Plagueworks.

cct v saurfang

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Icecrown Citadel: Lower Spire part 1

TLBC Strats: ICC

All sources indicate that tomorrow’s maintenance will open the second wing of Icecrown Citadel.  A lot of us have already cleared through the first wing with considerable ease, so I think we’re looking at the opening with mixed emotions–excited to press on, but wondering if there’s going to be more challenging encounters ahead.

Before we get there, though; there are still plenty of groups making their way through Icecrown, so I want to do a quick and dirty ICC strat guide.

The Initial Trash

The trash pulls up to Marrowgar are almost a boss in themselves for some groups, so this is worth mentioning.  Depending on how well your raid functions under chaos, you’ll definitely want to mark kill targets (at least skull and x), and you might want to consider CC (Shackle FTW).  Follow the same rules as always: casters go first, and in this case, you’ll want to take out the Servant of the Frozen Throne in packs where they exist.

There are traps in the hallway leading to the boss.  These can be seen and therefore triggered at will by stealthed rogues, but if you are unlucky enough to be without one, you’re very likely to trip a trap when you’re least expecting it.  The trap releases some REALLY BIG skeletons from the wall.  They’re not any more difficult than any of the other trash with the exception of Disrupting Shout.  Shout works just like Ignis’s Flame Jets (a very popular mechanic in this expansion, I’ve noticed), so when you see him casting Shout, stop casting until it’s over.

Marrowgar

Marrowgar

This fight’s concept is extremely easy, but the execution can be ridiculously tricky at first.  There are 3 abilities you need to prepare yourself for and react to:

1.  Bone Spike.  Intermittently, people in your raid will get Bone Spiked.  If you remember Najentus’s spines, raise your hand–same idea.  Instead of picking up the spine, however, you’re going to kill it.  Have a macro ready to /tar Bone Spike and watch DBM (or listen for the boss to say “Stick around…”) so you can kill the Spike as soon as it spawns.

2.  Coldflame.  It’s blue, but it’s fire.  Do we stand in fire, ladies, gentlmen, and chickens?  NO.  Don’t stand in the fire.  Don’t. Stand. In. The. Fire.  It comes out from the boss in straight lines (except for during Bone Storm, below), so head left or right if it’s coming at you.

3.  Bone Storm.  Marrowgar gets bored after he’s Spiked a few people and tried to Coldflame you to death, so he shouts “Bone Storm” and starts whirling wildly around the room.  Bone Storm hurts a little, but what’s worse is a) the fact that everyone spreads to kingdom come (sorry, healers), and b) Coldflame spreads like a virus around the room.  Stay away from Marrowgar and stay out of fire until he settles down from his tantrum.

Do that a few times, and you’ll be looting the first boss in Icecrown.

Lady Deathwhiser (from mmo-champ)Lady Deathwhisper

There’s significant packs of trash in her room, but they’re similar to General Vezax’s, so just mark and CC where applicable.  Highly advise pulling them out of the room.

Once you clear the trash and you’re facing Lady Deathwhisper (who, by the way, talks more than any boss I can think of, except MAYBE Kael’thas, who was also a windbag), you’re going to see two phases.

Phase One: The Mana / Add Phase

During this phase, the Lady puts up a mana shield.  Her mana shield has a 1:1 ratio, meaning whatever damage her shield takes is equal to the amount of her mana it uses.  You’ll have a couple of casters who will stand there and dps her shield.  I do this because she also has Curse of Torpor she likes to throw out ad nauseum, and I can easily shoot her, actually work up to a steady, significant dps output, and decurse.

While this is going on, there are adds that spawn in the room: Cult Adherents and Cult Fanatics.  There should be dps teams assigned to these adds.  Adherents are especially susceptible to physical damage, while Fanatics fall prey to spell damage.  When either of these gains the “Empowered” or “Reanimated” status (Empowered Adherent/Fanatic, Reanimated Adherent/Fanatic), the appropriate damage classes need to turn, target, and burn that add.  Unsurprisingly, I have a targetting macro for this, too.  If you check out my Jaraxxus strat, you can use that same macro, replacing those targets with Reanimated, Empowered, and Lady.

Once you get her mana to zero, her shield will fall and she’ll become just another tank and spank with a twist (the twist being that she spawns ghosts that wander around the room.  Yes, you should run away from them).  Clean up the adds, kill the boss, and move onto my favorite raid event ever so far.

The Gunship Battle


For those of you who did Kara back when it was still new (read: still had an attunement), do you remember the first time you did opera?  or the chess event?

Take that feeling, increase its cool factor by 92% and its blowing-up-stuff factor by 110 % and you have the Gunship Battle.  I have two items for you to consider:  Rocket Pack and Cannons.

Player Roles in the Gunship Battle

Note:  I’m going to write this from the Alliance perspective, because that’s how I’ve done it.  The horde strategy is the same, only the names and faction of the targets you’re killing will change.

Cannoneers.  In 10-man there are 2 cannons; there are 4 in 25-man.  Cannoneers will jump into the cannon, point at the other ship, and spam 1 until the meter on the right (same place you see pyrite levels in Ulduar) reaches about 85-90% and then hit 2.  The first ability increases the damage of the second, but it can also cause the cannon to overheat.   I usually get 14-15 of the first ability in safely before using the second, so that’s a good number with which to start.  Cannoneers are shooting at the ship, but they can multitask by aiming for the opposing faction’s attackers (in the case of the alliance, Kor’kalon Axethrowers).  This way, you’re helping the other dpsers in lessening the threat to your ship and also bringing down their ship.

away teamThe Away Team (the warlock leading our 10-man group earlier this week called it this, and I like it).  Keep your casters on your ship; you need them there to AoE the adds that come to you as well as helping take down the Axethrowers (or their Alliance equivalent) on the other side.  Pick a few melee (the fewer that can handle the assignment the better) and a tank to be in the Away Team.  They’ll need to make sure they pick up rocket packs from the gnome on the ship (everyone can do this, they’re a lot of fun).  At some point, the opposing faction is going to call in a battle mage who will come and freeze the cannons.  At that point, the Away Team will rocket pack to the opposing ship, tank the commander (Saurfang/Muradin), and kill the  mage.  As soon as the mage is dead, rocket back to the ship.  A healer or two will need to stand on the edge of your ship to reach the Away Team without having to join them.

The Home Side Tank & AoE Throughout the fight, the opposing faction will be portaling in adds.  They are super easy to handle.  Group them up, tank them, and let your AoErs go hog wild.

It’s really a blast, and you should be looting that chest in no time.

The final boss in the wing is Saurfang, but I’m going to deal with him in part 2.


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Get Ready, Get Set, Get Arthas! Patch 3.3: Dungeons & Raids

Today the focus is on Dungeons and Raids.  There’s a LOT of info to cover, so let’s jump right in.

Dungeons and Raids

  • Naxxramas
    • Players no longer need to kill the final bosses in all four wings of this dungeon in order to teleport to Sapphiron. Teleportation orbs have been added to allow players access back and forth from Sapphiron’s lair.

I would expect to see groups forming just to take out Sapphiron and Kel’Thuzad with this change.  Lots of people (including me) would love to run Naxx on their shiny new 80s but don’t necessarily have the hours to devote to what usually turns out to be a sloppy PuG that doesn’t finish anyway.

  • Oculus
    • Azure Ring Guardians agro distance changed from 50 to 40 yards.
    • Many bosses and creatures have had their total health reduced.
    • Several bosses and creatures have had cooldowns on specific abilities increased, effect durations reduced, and damage on some of these abilities reduced.
    • Ring-Lord Conjurers and Sorceresses now hang out in packs of 4 instead of packs of 5.
    • Vehicle scaling on the drakes based on the rider’s item level has been increased to make them more powerful.

This is a nerf to Oculus specifically to make it more accessible for people wanting to run the new random heroic.  I really don’t know how much this is going to change the success of the instance, as the first half never really is a problem.  The biggest problem with Oculus is having 5 members who fully understand the final boss vehicle mechanics and can also execute them correctly.  But maybe added drake health will make up for that; we’ll see.

Dungeon Finder (DF)

The notes on the new Dungeon Finder are extraordinarily long and detailed, so I’m not going to take up 3000 words of blog space with the notes as written.  Instead, I’m going to explain the whole thing in what is hopefully a smoother, easier read.

DF

Looking For Group as we know it will be gone.  In its place will be the Dungeon Finder tool from which you can queue for an instance regardless of party size.  It will then recruit the roles you need for the dungeon from people queued not only from your realm but from your entire battlegroup.  Once the group is filled and all party members are ready, the DF will teleport you all to the instance, and when you’re finished, it will teleport you back to your previous location.

There will be an option to do a Random Lich King Heroic and a Random Lich King Dungeons.  By doing the Random instances once a day, you will receive emblems of Frost and Emblems of Triumph respectively.  Because of this new option, Heroic and Regular dailies are being removed.  Raid dailies will be added.  You’ll also get extra rewards for letting the Dungeon Finder choose your group for you randomly, including a Perky Pug pet.

Some of the harder heroics will have gear level requirements (so you won’t have someone in level 75 greens showing up for Heroic ToC5), and you will not be put in a group with anyone on your ignore list.  There’s also a feature being added to allow a party to vote someone out of the group.  If the party votes to kick a person from the group, they will be removed and teleported back to their previous location.

Only conjured items (i.e., healthstones and a mage’s mana food) and items that drop in the dungeon itself can be traded between two matched party members from different realms.

Looking For Raid (LFR)

This is being added in addition to the new Dungeon Finder tool.  This works more like the old LFG, but it’s only applicable to raids.

While looking through LFR, you’ll be able to sort by Name, Level, Class, and Role.  If you hover over a player’s name, you’ll see their name, class, level, selected roles, and comments.  Hovering over a group will display the leader’s name, the number of people in the raid, which bosses have already been killed (if any), and whether or not there are people from your friend and ignore lists in the raid group.

Other Dungeon, Raid, and Group Changes

Need before Greed is getting a boost.  (The following emphasis is all mine):  “Need before Greed will now recognize gear appropriate for a class.”  In other words, the rogue can’t ninja a ring with spellpower, and the hunter can’t roll need on plate.  Also, you will only be able to roll need on armor that is from your dominant armor type (druids won’t be able to roll need on cloth, only leather), but Greed is still open roll for everyone.

In addition to the above, a “Disenchant” button will appear if you have an appropriate-level enchanter in your group .  Using “Disenchant” is like rolling Greed, but you’ll receive the enchanting mats rather than the item itself.disenchant button

The LFG chat channel will be available any time you’re in a major city whether or not you’re using the DF/LFR tools.  In other words, it’s just like Trade chat, and in time, this might even eliminate people using Trade to find groups.  As we currently have a person on our server whose only mission for the past 5 months has been to inform everyone that he “wouldn’t join a group that recruits in trade,” this strikes me with keen interest.

You will only be able to be queued for one TYPE of group at a time.  If you are in LFR, you can’t also be queued in DF for a heroic.  If you’re in the Random DF queue, you can’t also be queued for an Arena or BG.  This kind of stinks, because I tend to throw myself in a lot of different things and just see which one pops first.

The difficulty of your instance (either regular or heroic, 10- or 25-man) will now be displayed on a mini-map icon, and players below level 10 won’t be able to join raids (so long, Level 1 Hogger raids, we loved you).

Ignore!The Ignore list will hold 50 people, and you can ignore people from other realms.  I love this so much I can’t stand it.

Tomorrow we’ll hit up the UI, Quest, Item, and Profession changes.  And then Tuesday…well, Tuesday is (probably) Patch Day!

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How to Learn a Fight

I’m taking a vacation from pure boss strats since they are time consuming and time is a precious commodity right now.  Plus, both Bosskillers and Tankspot have strats and vids up for most encounters, and I highly recommend them.

After our Hodir kill last night (go us! – Heroic: I Have the Coolest Friends and Heroic: Staying Buffed All Winter) I realized that there is a subject of boss fights that we don’t go over in the strat:  how to learn the fight.

hodir copy

Okay, I know, that sounds extremely vague and wanes philosophical, but stick with me.  There is more to learning a fight than reading a strat or watching a video.  Experience plays a vital role, and as raiders, we really need to be able to take that experience, analyze it, and learn from it.

Here are my steps to learning a fight:

Step 1: Prepare.  L2Read

I did just say that there’s more to learning a fight than simply reading the strat, but that doesn’t mean reading about the fight is pointless.  I will be honest, I don’t read strats word for word ever.  I read and re-read the parts that pertain to me with a keen interest, and skim the rest.  If I had to switch to healing this coming reset, I would have to go back and re-read the boss strats with an eye for healing tips.  I don’t think this is being lazy; I think it’s streamlining for content.  If you try to memorize the entire strat, you will forget something, and it could be something important to your dps or survival.  I can say with a fair bit of certainty that our raid leaders raid with the strat printed out beside them, and I run with it pulled up in the background so I can tab out between attempts if necessary.  The strats help. Videos are also useful, but I wouldn’t use them in lieu of strats.  They work best as a team.

Step 2: Learn.  Wipe Number 1 (and 2, 3, 4, 5…)

Have we ever walked in and unexpectedly one-shotted a new boss?  Actually, yes; but I can count those experiences on one hand and have fingers to spare.  Invariably, we’ll encounter a new boss and fail profoundly (instantly, sometimes).  At these times, Ultraking and I will look at each other and one of us will say, “Wipe One–Complete”  (Note:  we cannot win a fight if we do not pronounce the first wipe.  This is law in our house.  Don’t judge us.)

We all know a wipe sucks.  In our guild, being that we don’t chain our players to their chairs, lock our kids in cages, or play on the toilet, people often use wipes to go afk (guilty as charged).  This makes for insanely, irritatingly long recovery periods.  As a reminder of common raid courtesy:  if you are going to afk (and it’s not urgent) after a wipe, for the sake of the 24 other people in your raid, please try to make it back to the pull spot before you do it.  If you can also eat and, if necessary; flask before the afk, even better.  This way you’ll be present for buffs and when you get done (please remember to flush), the raid can proceed. But wipes are also a big part of the learning experience.  There are lots of questions that need to be asked after a wipe to decide how to improve, and not all of them are up to the raid leader.

The first question probably will come from your raid leader, and everyone else, for that matter:  Why did we die?  Figuring that out is the first step to figuring out what to do next.  Tank died?  You can be sure that the tanks and healers will be going crazy trying to figure that out if they’re not busy passing the blame.  Enraged?  The healers and we dpsers need to find out what’s killing us or keeping us from doing the dps we should be doing, and so forth.

There are questions you need to ask of yourself, because if you don’t, someone will ask you.  And it might not be nicely.  How did I die?  Was it something I could have prevented?  What am I missing here?  Don’t be afraid to ask for help, it may just be that you need something explained differently. As an example of that, let me offer last night’s Hodir experience:

Attempt number 1: Ambermist dies. (about 3 seconds in). The raid dies not long after. Wipe.
Attempt number 2: Ambermist dies. (about 1 minute in). The raid dies about 2 minutes later. Wipe.
Attempt number 3: Ambermist dies. (about 1 minute in). The raid lasts until half health. Wipe.
Attempt number 4: Ambermist dies. The raid lasts until 1/4 health. Wipe.
[Raid][Ambermist]: This fight is my nemesis.
Attempt number 5: Ambermist dies. At 3/4 health, over half the raid is dead. Wipe.
[Guild Master] whispers: what’s killing you?
[Ambermist] whispers: It seems like something different every time. I don’t know why this fight’s not clicking.
[Guild Master] whispers: talk to ——- and find out what he’s doing.
(We don’t really have a druid class lead right now, and even if we did, there are too many different druid roles. I tend to fall back with the mages).
[Ambermist] whispers: okay, I will
***Vent: Okay, we’re taking a four minute break, since people have already decided to anyway***
[Ambermist] whispers: any suggestions on how I can not die so much?
[Mage Lead] whispers: well…

What ensued was a two minute conversation on the importance of moving and really actually watching for icicles and fire buffs.  He didn’t give me a strat, because I didn’t ask for one.  He told me what he was doing to keep himself alive.  That’s what I needed to know.  If I had not been poked in the ass or asked for help, I would have spent the entire night dead and a lot of people would have been frustrated with me, including me.

Step 3:  Execute.  Because Everyone Loves Dead Bosses

Reading the concepts of the fight for whatever reason had not solidified it in my brain as making the moving part of this fight as vital as it was. After that, I literally moved after every single cast. I turned on projected textures, danced around circles, raced to snow mounds, and sat next to toasty fires. We wiped many more times after that, but the times that I died were either to speed up a wipe or when half the raid was already dead anyway. I submit the following as evidence:

Once you’ve figured out what you need to be doing differently, do it.  Focus on what you need to fix, but don’t neglect the big picture.  You still need to be prepared to battle rez the healer who just croaked, and you need to know when the next phase is coming.  Incorporate your own improvements into the already moving raid-wide learning curve.  That’s when you succeed.

Winston Churchill did not raid.  But he did know a thing or two about experience.  We’ve all heard some form of this quote before:  “All men make mistakes, but only wise men learn from their mistakes.”

Prepare + Learn + Execute = Win.

Good luck out there.

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Heroic Ulduar: Flame Leviathan

Walking into Ulduar last night felt good. I was really excited; it felt like a real raid for the first time in ages, complete with an erroneous wipe when people stepped beyond the border while we were finalizing raid spots. “RUN” got raid warning spammed about 4 times by anyone who had assist, and people still died, including our poor GM, who had gone afk to get his kids in bed. Of course it was a paladin who invited the mobs. Traitor.

Now for the first kill…

Flame Leviathan:

Trash:

I’ll be honest, aside from reading the strat and somewhat acknowledging it, I really didn’t have a clue rolling into this crazy battle.  Here’s what I learned:

What to Attack

  • Pyrite barrells falling from the sky – basically, big blue and black barrells on parachutes.
  • Enemy air support.  Easily spotted, these guys clump up and shoot at the raid in big white strings of fire.
  • Dark Rune anything.  Seriously.
  • Pillars

What to Attack With

  • Demolishers are vehicles that do a lot of damage.  There are two passengers: a driver and a gunner.  For trash, the gunner should be using their Anti-Aircraft (number 2) to bring down attacking air fighters and pyrite barrells.  The gunner should also be watching the pyrite bar (a blue vertical gauge to the right of your vehicle abilities) and grab pyrite barrells as needed.  To grab a pyrite barrell, click on it on the ground and hit 3.  Drivers make sure to heal when you pass a healing port (someone should call this on vent; things like this are super easy to miss in the chaos) and attack by igniting oil slicks with the number 1 Hurl Boulder ability and doing base damage with the number 2 Hurl Pyrite Barrell ability, keeping in mind that hurling pyrite causes you to have to keep a steady flow picking them up.
  • Siege vehicles are going to be using their knockback and spell interrupt abilities during this time.
  • Choppers will be using Sonic Horn (l o l) for damage and Tar to slow enemies down.

I did the trash as a gunner on a Demolisher, and I’ll tell you, the Anti-Aircraft can be tricky, but once you get the hang of it, it’s solid.  Grabbing pyrite barrells is simple; if you need one, just tell your driver where to go to get you close to one.  No one died on trash; it’s pretty simple, just fight your way through it.  I think the trash’s main function is to teach you about the vehicles.

Boss:

Flame Leviathan is a big tank.  He’s got lots of turrets and the front will eat you to pieces, so don’t get near it.

He randomly targets sieges (and demolishers, as we discovered) and pursues them.  You’ll get a warning that he’s switching targets, and if you’re a driver, you need to be quick to kite him.  Demolisher gunners can use a speed boost, but it takes up pyrite, so make sure you replenish when you’re done.  During this time, choppers should be laying oil slicks in front of Leviathan to slow him down, and if you’re kiting, try to run him over the slicks.

During the encounter, healers and dps need to be launched up onto the top of Leviathan to attack his turrets.  Coordinate this beforehand, as you’ll want to think carefully about who you’re sending up there on the first launch.  For us, our first launch was a holy paladin and an elemental (I think) shaman.  As they were ejected, we had one chopper driver whose only job was to go pick them up.  Note to launchers:  you will not automatically be picked up by the chopper, you must click it!  Demolishers launch, so make sure the people you want launched are in the gunner seat on demolishers.  When their launch is called, they’ll need to load themselves into the canon (there’s a button for this, it’s pretty obvious).  Once they’re loaded, their driver needs to aim for the top of Leviathan and hit the launch button.  Once there, attack the turrets!

When all the turrets are down, demolishers need to start throwing pyrite barrells, so gunners, make sure you’ve been shooting down barrells and are well-stocked before this time.

That’s all you really need to know.  We wiped twice, but totally dominated the third time.

I’ll be back soon with our Razorscale encounter, which took significantly more attempts.

Note:  This is the strat we uh…tried to follow.  We tend to adapt these things.  Stratfu: Flame Leviathan.

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