Thursday, March 25, 2010

The PuG Raid: ICC Through Rotface

So, as per my last post, you might imagine me being relegated to the PuG raid completely, standing alone on the steps of Tanks For Everything, with a sandwich board around my neck - "Will Tank For Emblems of Frost " - but you'd be wrong. Sort of.

My current guild is a collection of old friends that forms most of a really good group and a new PuG or two that we've met and grown fond of, who have thrown their lot in with us. However, that still leaves us short a few folks to field a team of our own, so I'm more likely standing at the Landing, begging for another DPS slot or two to be filled up.

Even with a few DPS, some of whom are occasionally new to ICC, we manage to make pretty good progress. Last night, in about two hours, we cleared through RotFace on 10s, for example, including some silly wipes that shouldn't have happened at all, and without them, we could probably have done it in about an hour and a half, which is about ideal.

So, how is this accomplished? With two healers and six DPS.

The Two Heal Raid

We have been running with an amazing holy priest and an awesome resto shaman to pull this off for ages, and with both healers being used to the fights, we can easily two-heal all the content up to Festergut and Rotface's doorstep. Six DPS also allows you to do things like easily clean up the Boned and I've Gone And Made A Mess very easily, and we always clear up Deathwhisper's first phase in about 2 add phases which is super fast.

In the Plague wing, I still see people wipe on the dogs in the Plagueworks, so here's how I do it:

Precious: One Big Gay Pile on the tanks. Yeah, melee will bitch about their DPS being curbed due to standing in front, whatever, just make one big pile so the adds all come to the same spot and your healers or DPS won't get eaten when they sprout agro, this lets you burn them down as they spawn with a ton of AoE and incidental damage will just kill the boss anyway. Tanks swap as per normal, etc.

Stinky: The opposite of the big gay pile - ranged and healers stay at maximum range, and melee run out to the ranged group just before the Devastate to avoid his AoE. Paladin tanks can pop party-wall here but shouldn't be neccessary if Melee are quick on their feet and get out of range. This way healers can get tanks up quickly, and as melee get healed, they can run back in. Tank swaps, etc, as per normal.

Festergut and Rotface: You can do these bosses with 2 healers, but 3 are just a nice security to have since the enrage meters are really not a danger for Festergut anymore with so much 251 gear in our hands, and Rotface is more about control than zerg-speed-burn anyway.

Fester is easy, so I'll just give a few tips on how I do Rotface as people are still wiping on him a lot:
  • If you're injected, get to the Ooze tank. Stop what you're doing, and move. Your job now is to make sure your ooze gets to the big ooze, drop that spell, don't finish your rotation, get your ooze out there. This is even more important as the injection rate speeds up. With 3 healers, you shouldn't have an issue even dropping that big heal you've got queued up - trust the other two healers to pick up the slack.
  • When Rotface starts to cast Slime Spray, get the hell out of his way. There's no reason to finish whatever you're doing, you have a 1.5 second cast to just even run through him if nothing else, so no reason to get hit and make the healers heal unnecessary damage.
  • Watch the ooze chunks when the Big Ooze explodes. Don't just collapse blindly after x-seconds or whatever, let the ooze explosion chunks hit and then move into position.
Also, some general tips for kiting the Big Ooze:
  • If you're tanking the Big Ooze, be aware that some AoE will build agro on the Big Ooze. You're not just beating the healers but also any stray AoE that might hit the Ooze. Watch Omen.
  • I've tanked this fight on my bear and my paladin, here are notes from both. Both classes are equally capable of tanking and I'm sure DKs can do it just as easily with Icy Touch spam, Death Coil and Dark Command. Frost Tanks also get Howling Blast.
  • Bear tanking: I found this to be the easiest as I could keep FFF ticking on every CD without ever stopping my run, and that build a lot of threat. Just keep running, kite smart, and Rotface will be dead before you know it.
  • Paladins also have an easy time with Avenger's Shield, Hand of Reckoning, Judgment, and when you have a lot of range, Exorcism. It also helps if you take responsibility for cleansing the infected folks so healers have one less thing to do. You're running with Decursive or something similar, right? *arched eyebrow*
  • If you need to run through ooze, make sure you're getting a snare removing buff like Hand of Freedom or something. Watch your health, and be smart about when you go in to take damage, as slime spray might also hit you.
  • If you get injected, get cleansed immediately and try to hook the slime into the big ooze by stopping short, turning towards the big ooze, and then turning around again away from the big ooze so the small slime swings around you and winds up in the big ooze.
I'll talk about Dreamwalker and the Blood Princes once I get more experience running PuGs through them. Of the end-bosses, I imagine Blood Queen will be the easiest of the 3, and Putricide will be less difficult than Sindragosa.

Good luck out there, folks!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Inbetween Guilds

So I'm kind of in-between guilds right now.

A long, long time ago (until June of last year) I was in mostly RP/casual raiding guilds. They were fun and happy affairs where logging in was enough of a reason to celebrate, friends would regale you with greetings, smiley faces were thrown about hither and yon, every fucking achievement was reason to throw a parade and clearing Naxx was reason enough to pat people's backs.

Then I joined a 25-man raiding guild. And was abused and beaten and cried and cut myself and all that emo stuff, but eventually I got better and did awesome, and led raids, and tanked with my fucking face. Well, not really, I was a paladin, and tanked with my fucking shield.

That guild transitioned from a 25-man group into a 10-man group with 25s in an alliance and that went south because we didn't get along with an officer in the other guild, drama drama drama, and the guild split. We went back to doing 10s, I tried being nice and running two balanced groups of 10s and that was about as successful as you might imagine. After putting in 12 hours into Ice Crown and barely squeaking by Rotface, I punched myself in the testicles, RAGEQUIT, switched factions, and joining a dedicated 10s group that was doing awesome progression.

Long story short, that didn't work out, I transfered back, a few old friends from my 10s group all piled into a small guild to raid together aaaaaaaaand here we sit. In the In Between State.

This is the zone of the PuG raid.

This is the zone of meeting people, making friends, socializing, realizing how diverse your server population is. This is the zone of, "I'm undergeared and I've never seen this fight and I want to learn and I'm really earnest and polite and kind but my DPS kind of blows screaming chunks of shit at the moon and you will take me anyway because what choice do you have?"

And... and... oh god, I want it to end. I want a dedicated group of raiders who are in my guild and know the fights and have the gear and I want to kill Arthas already.

Please, please, help me. I don't want to PuG really nice people who stand in fire until my Nourish button breaks. I don't want to see my tank DPS be number three on recount and wipe on enrages. Please rescue me from this zone.

I don't want to be an InBetweener. TAKE ME WITH YOU!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Raiding Less (and why that's better)

I was standing in Dalaran staring into the fountain newly decorated with garish gold statues and thinking deep thoughts as usual about what an egotistical bastard Tirion was for erecting a statue of himself in the middle of the city when I saw an old friend wander by.

We said hello, and began to talk, mostly about raiding as that's what everyone seem to be into lately, and as we wandered northward, I invited her to come along with my raids as we often have gaps in ranged DPS and she is a good warlock.

We stopped to peer into the most displaced well in the midst of a busy boulevard, "As long as you run at a normal pace."

I blinked, "Normal pace?"

"Oh, you know," she sighed, leaning against the bricks, as mammoths, unicorns, bears, kodos and other horrible things went whizzing by, "I was running with this other big guild on the server and they just kept pulling the whole time with nary a pause. Kind of stressful."

"Huh," I said, swallowing the compulsion to push her into the well just to hear her yelp, because I'm really ten years old, "Well, I set a reasonable stride. I think."

She shrugged, and then we waved farewell, she went on to the bank in the north and I wandered into the smithy, to hem and haw at various tier pieces, and began to think about the pace of my runs.

See, when I run a raid, people laugh a little because I tend to cover things very, very quickly over vent and end with a brisk, "Gogo!" even as I toss a shield into a mob pack or charge a boss' face.

I know it's funny, but I'm really doing it to make a point. Trash should take minimal time. Once you're through a dungeon more than twice, you should know what the pulls are, you should know know how many packs to pull, the patrol patterns, all of that jazz. The tanks should be pulling continuously unless the healers ask for a slowdown. Dead folks should get raised as the pulls happen, and rebuffs aren't important.

I first learned that you can run as quickly as this whilst studying this video by Kyth of StratFu fame (BTW, I think I have a small crush on Kyth) but have adopted it to most of my dungeoneering, whether 5-mans or raids.

When I walk into a 5-man, my gear level is at a place where I feel comfortable saying, "I'm just going to chain-pull the dungeon, please tell me to slow down if you need room." And then 10-15 minutes later, almost every dungeon in the game is done.

And I for one think this is great.

Another major killer is downtime for AFKs - having set points are great for this. As Blizzard has really adopted the wing structure for raids this expansion, I usually don't take a break in the middle of a wing. If we're flying along, I'll take a break every other wing. Or whatever. It's a lot more structured that way and people feel accomplished and ready to take on the new wing when they get back.

Of course, learning a boss is different, I'm mostly talking about farm content here. Once you know a dungeon, you as a raid leader should give your tanks permission to pull aggressively and tanks should pull aggressively, and healers should coordinate to make sure raid heals are covered at all times - there is no need to pause between packs of mobs if your DPS and healers are keeping up with you without a problem. Chain-pull, get to the bosses, don't linger over the "is everyone ready?" and just get shit down.

I typically throw up a /readycheck when we reach a boss and as soon as the last person checks off, I'll shout out any last minute instructions, "I'll take left side, Issacc take right side, melee clear all adds before switching to boss, on phase transition wait for her to be moved off the platform before ripping your CDs, ranged open up, GoGo!" And if ranged doesn't open up, I'll just throw a shield and get it started. My raids have NO ROOM for dillydallying.

Pull hard, pull fast, pull clean, don't wipe, and someone tell Tirion he's an egotistical bastard for sitting frozen in an iceblock all fight long and then taking credit at the end for everything.

Sick bastard.