Friday, February 4, 2011

Creeping Progress: Early Blackwing Descent

Enough with the dungeons. Let's talk about raids. We've been raiding for two weeks, now, and currently sit at 4/12 and I wanted to review my thoughts about the the current style and mood of raiding, and so forth.

General Impressions
The titanic health-pool on all bosses seems excessive but I can see why it's there. With heroic and early raid gear, we're seeing bosses die in about 7 or 8 minutes depending on the figh which seems like a long time - I remember when we were doing Herioc Blood Princes a seven-minute fight seemed like an eternity. And then I remember doing Sindragosa back in February of last year and realize - hey, we used to wipe to enrage on that fight and the enrage on her was 10 minutes!

Also, tank damage is less brutal but raid damage is far more brutal. Healers are doing the majority of the heavy lifting here and I don't envy them. Effective reduction of raid-damage is a major factor in most fights if you want to keep healers from OOMing and the DPS wind up having to do a lot of dodging/juggling of mechanics (keeping out of fire on Halfus with Storm up, keeping out of all the incidental damage on Omnitron, etc.) which lowers DPS overall but increases healer efficiency.

Last are the interrupt mechanics.  A lot of fights seem to focus on whiplash snap interrupts which can be difficult to pull off without the right class composition but I don't think the situation is as bad as some have made it out to be. Yes, Halfus with Slate up is a nightmare of spamming every interrupt on every CD, but on some fights like Omnitron, the interrupt mechanics don't really hurt so bad that missing one or two will kill you and then on Maloriac, the casts that have to be interrupted are spread so far apart that it's fairly simple to assign it to a couple of people to watch (like General Vezzax's AoEs).

Of course, for us, it doesn't help that we raid with two Paladin tanks and we lack a reliable interrupt off the GCD but that'll get solved when we get blessed, blessed Rebuke in 4.0.6.

Lastly - there are the number of fights that are single tank. Magmaw with a decent healer, Omnitron with decent tank gear, Atramedes. Even Maloriak could be single tanked if you have a pro kiter/add killer. In the Bastion of Twilgiht, you have Valiona who's a single-tank fight, but even Halfus could be single-tanked on certain drake-comps with a bit of gear. This can be a good thing or a bad thing. Certainly having 2 tanks is not a BAD thing on those fights, but having an extra DPS can really push the fight and make it go that much faster. I guess it depends on whether your tanks like playing their off-spec role. I enjoy Retribution a lot and my damage isn't embarrassing anymore so I don't mind swapping over to Templar's Verdict my face off, but I can see situations where neither tank wants to DPS and things can get a bit iffy. This wasn't the case in Wrath - you typically needed 2 tanks for just about everything until you were all decked out in heroic gear with the 30% buff.

So, in general, from Wrath to Cataclysm, across all the raids, I can see a few major points of adjustment for raids:
  1. Don't be intimidated by the huge health pools on bosses - just focus on increasing raid DPS slowly and steadily with gear and your raid's comfort level with a fight mechanics grow so they learn exactly when to blow their big damage buttons and when to hit hero/lust. In a month's time, that 8 minute fight will take 6 and another month later, you'll be doing it in 4.
  2. Encourage everyone to avoid damage and focus on the fight mechanics first. DPS can't just tunnel-vision their rotations anymore. On most fights, DPS can do something to minimize raid damage and keep healers from having to top them off. Same for tanks - use those short-cooldown timer abilities as often as possible to give healers a break.
  3. If you don't have a tank who can reliably do all the interrupts, bring at least one interrupter with good skills who has that kick/wind-shear/rebuke/mind-freeze/counter-spell/pummel on an easily reached hot-key. 
  4. Bringing two dedicated tanks with no decent off specs can hinder you on certain fights - try to make sure at least one of your tanks has an off-(preferably DPS)-spec that they enjoy playing.
I'm one of those weird people who likes trash. It can give a raid a real sense of lived-in space, and what are bosses without minions to lord over? Trash is the decorative color and costuming to a raid - necessary to make it feel like a real space and I think that's one of the big reasons ToC failed so massively.These raid however have some of the best and most colorful and atmospheric trash I've seen in a long time. And it's not excessive - it feels like just the right amount of trash for raids with four or six bosses in them.

Blackwing Descent
The trash in front of Magmaw was annoying the first time and took a couple of wipes to get used to - we just have ranged and healers stay middleish without getting in the charge path of the two mobs and the tanks hold them wide apart from each other, just focusing down the mob on one of the tanks at a time so they get equal love and then ranged switches over to make sure both die at the same time. Omnitron trash on the other hand is just get-out-of-fire and spread out - simple and easy.

The rest of the trash around the inner circle is really interesting - the patrols of the two hounds with their keeper is pretty simple - we have one tank on the two puppies and the other on the dragonkin - just don't tank him too close to the edge. In fact, with your back to the wall is best. We burn down the hounds first before they rotate through their elemental buffs and then swap over to kill the dragonkin. Nothing too difficult but leaving the hounds up too long can be bad as we found out.

The named black dragons are fun and while two of them have a frontal cone attack - each one does something different in addition. Pyrecraw has a stacking fire damage debuff that I think can be LoS'd to drop off or burned through with tank-swaps. Ivoroc places a debuff on a random DPS so that all attacks heal him instead - just stop casting and hop around until it drops off. Maimgor has a tail slam instead of a breath attack but more amusingly he'll grab a random person (though he seems to prefer the tank) and chew on them for a bit doing ~50k damage per second on 10-man difficulty that should just be healed though, and tanks can blow a soft cool-down to make life easier.

The only trash I'm not too familiar with are the Dwarven councils that pulls before Atramedes - though we should be working on him next week so if it's particularly onerous, I'll update this with any helpful information.


This is a simple, if long, fight. I like the concept in general as a training ground and a head-check of "are you ready to raid?" The mechanic for impaling Magmaw isn't great, it's not bad either. It gives a couple of people something new to do a few times during the fight.

There are two clutch moments in this fight is.
  1. Do you have a good mechanic for dealing with worms? If you have a good kiter or OT who can hold agro on the adds while your ranged DPS burns them down quickly between Exposed Head phase, then the fight is a breeze. Otherwise it can be a nightmare of watching worms squiggle up to eat your healers while your worm-tank flails helplessly trying to get agro on them.
  2. Do your healers have the throughput and does your tank have the cool-downs to get through Mangle? This took us a while on our first kill as we were doing it with one tank (two seem really excessive unless you have your OT on the worms) and frequently lost the tank to Mangle until we devoted just one healer to babysit the tank entirely while ignoring the raid. Bang. Fixed.
We've found keeping everyone but the one kiter in a tight melee clump to be the most effective way of dealing with this mechanic. I've tanked the adds once when we lacked a kiter and with full AoE glyphs, doing 21k DPS as a tank on the worms using HP for Inquisition and with Vengeance stacking high is a fun way to make your mages cry fowl. :-)

The hardest part of this fight is the first cycle - once Magmaw gets his head down with no adds up, you're in the clear as you'll typically only get one pillar between exposed-head phases and it becomes a breeze.

Omnitron Defense Council
Another training fight, this time to see if you can swap targets and stay out of bad stuff. There are a lot of abilities to keep track of but there isn't a lot of stuff that everyone needs to know.
  • Magmatron: healers cover the AoE, and if focused, stay still, everyone else leave a clear path between the target and Magmatron.
  • Toxitron: Stay out of poison clouds, tanks move bosses into them if viable (not essential at all), and kill adds. If you're focused, kite.
  • Arcantron: Interrupt his long-cast single-target attack and tanks pull him out of Power Generator. Healers and ranged can pile onto blue circles for buffs and MP5.
  • Electron: If you're a Lightning Conductor, give everyone around you room till it drops off. Spread out for chain lightning.
Just keep in mind you will have 2 random bosses active at any moment so you'll be dealing with no more than 4 mechanics at a time, and like I said, most of the time, you as an individual probably only need to remember 2 or 3 of those mechanics. Easy.


At this point, I'm really enjoying the game - it's challenging but not frustratingly so. Yes, healers are getting the brunt of the work and doing a lot of heavy lifting due to their entire play-style being changed, but these new raids require everyone to be more alert, and do more stuff than before. It's a good thing.

We've also managed to kill Halfus and Council of Winds but those can wait till I write about those particular raids. I'm hoping to spend some quality time with Atramedes and Maloriak next week. Wish us luck. :-)

No comments:

Post a Comment