Tuesday, June 14, 2011

HOT TO: Conclave of Wind and Al'Akir

This is part 8 of a series where I'll cover the way my guild does all the normal-mode encounters on the 10 person difficulty in the current raiding tier. I'll cover the fights in general but also talk specifically about tanking from a paladin perspective and give any hints I can about how we assign DPS and healing.


Conclave of Wind
2 Tanks, 3 Healers

The Conclave is made up of these three dudes:
  • NEZIR (north): 1 tank and 1 healer
  • ROHASH (east): 1 healer and 2 ranged DPS on east platform
  • ANSHAL (west): 1 tank, 1 healer and all remaining DPS
The basic, general rule about this encounter is that you don't leave any platform alone unless the boss on that platform in casting "Gather Strength" after being "killed." Otherwise you will gain a raid-wide silence and AoE that will wipe you rapidly. Yay!

All three have an energy meter that goes from zero and climbs up together so all three will regain energy at the same pace. When it fills at 90, they will each do an ultimate ability. You can move between platforms unless the bosses are casting their Ultimate abilities. Make sure you hit the bridges right in the center with your camera faced the right way or you might be blown off course and spend time being floated back to the platform - they can be a bit buggy.



East platform
Dodge winds, attack the boss, don't get knocked off. That's it. Shadow Priests are *awesome* to have on this platform but any Priests, Resto Druids, Warlocks, Hunters, Elemental Shaman will be fine.

Ultimate: Everyone but the designated eater of the ultimate will move to North platform at 80 energy. The remaining person must take care not to get knocked off by the slowing turning wind attack and after getting thrown into the air must make sure to use a slow on the way down after being knocked up or have a way to get up to max health. Shadow Priests are ideal to stay here as they can levitate down and their latent healing will keep them alive till a healer can get back to them. I imagine Affliction warlocks can do the same and maybe teleport out of the fall damage?



West platform:
Keep the boss mobile and never ever leave him in the middle. Move him out of his healing circles and have the tank try to pick up adds, but DPS should mow them down fairly quickly - adds are always a priority or they will eat your healer.

Ultimate: I haven't found a way to keep him from healing a bit during his port to the middle phase, but that's why you want to avoid having him in the middle to keep the healing circles out or he will heal way too much. Whichever tank and healer are here should just try to burn him down a bit (I use wings) to keep his regeneration low and everyone else must be up North.



North platform:
Keep the boss faced away from the healer and move out of ice slicks underneath your feet. The frozen debuff stack will get high before the first ultimate and paladins can't cheat and bubble off the stacks anymore, but the damage isn't too bad - hold off on CDs and use the strong ones after the first ultimate.

If you goinh to swap, do so with the West tank before the second ultimate. The tricky moments here are when your healer swaps - make sure you're topped off and use a soft CD and any self heals (I use Divine Protection, Mirror of Broken Images, Gift of the Naaru and Radiance during the swaps). Make sure taunts hit quickly as you land on the other platform.



The Grand Plan:
Staying too long on the North platform will cause a a stacking damage taken debuff that will eventually get too high, so the healer and tank from the North will need to swap with the healer and tank on the West platform to let their debuffs drop. Swaps should happen in the following way:

Healers should swap between North and West around 70 energy every single time. Tanks don't need to swap each round, but that depends on your healers - if you're having trouble with tank deaths on Nazir then you should swap every round, otherwise, you only need one swap before the second ultimate.

If you're healing through the first Ultimate, time the swap around the middle of the second round right after Anshal is kited out of a healing circle so that there is no chance of an accidental heal. Tanks will need to taunt the bosses to gain threat as per normal. In this scenario, after the tanks swap, the healers can as well, once the tanks on their platform are healed up. Coordinate this over vent.

Meanwhile, everyone else is DPSing merrily away. You want Rohash and Anshal to go down together first. Rohash will go down a lot faster as he doesn't heal, so after the first Ultimate have one of the DPS from Rohash go west instead to help burn down Anshal while Rohash DPS should burn him down to 100k or so and hold off any damage. Once the West platform tips Anshal over, have the healer and DPS burn Rohash and everyone on both platforms should port north. Hit Heroism, burn Nazir down and you're done.

It is ideal to wait for two Ultimates to be cast before killing Anshal and Rohash as it will give you time to get Nezir down very low and you will be easily able to kill him within the one minute you have after the first boss dies before that boss regains all his health and wipes you.

The Other Plan:
Now, as your DPS escalates, you're going to find yourself limiting DPS to keep from tripping one or the other boss down - what we do right now, is just burn Rohash down super fast so that he's sub 1 million before the first Ultimate and move everyone but one DPS and one Healer over to Anshal as per normal. That lets us get both East and West transitioned before the second Ultimate and we kill Nazir during the second ultimate.

This also eliminates the need for tank swaps and makes the fight super fast, but make sure you have the DPS for this - you will only have one ultimate DPS phase on North so if you don't get Nezir down low enough you might not be able to tip him over within the time frame you have left before the others activate. You don't need to do this certainly, and if you can hold off East and West till after the second Ultimate the kill will be a lot easier, but when we have a full-A team with very high DPS this is how we do it.


Paladin Pro Pointers - Thanks to the number of cool-downs you can use to keep tanking Nazir with growing stacks of the frozen debuff, you are well suited to tank him. You can also use Divine Guardian during the ultimate to save some raid damage. If you lack resistance from a healer, hitting Aura of Resistance can be good as the stacks get high (the physical damage isn't bad anyway). If you do need to swap platforms, use Hand of Freedom to get through any ice patches along your way going North to West. Go be a hero!

If you're in the West, keep the boss kited a bit - do not glyph for Focused Shield as you will need it to pick up the adds he spawns and save Avenging Wrath for when he ports to the middle and heals himself during the Ultimate. Tanking this guy can be a bit messy if the adds don't go down fast enough and if the adds are hitting on DPS too much, don't be shy of throwing off a taunt here and there. Go be a hero!




Al'Akir
1 Tank, 3 Healers


This is probably the easiest of the end-wing bosses. A three phase fight, with phase 1 being the hardest and phase 3 being  the easiest. Phase 2 requires a bit of coordination to manage a debuff on the boss and the entire encounter will test your raid's coordination as you dodge long squall walls that circle the plat form constantly and you run in and out of wind burst.

Tanking this is a brute simple affair if you can manage the movement - keep threat, dodge squall lines, don't get blown off, minimize the time you spent out of melee range, and keep threat on sparks. However, I've never actually tanked this fight, so I don't have many Paladin Pro Pointers. :-(

Positioning:
We use the design on the ground to spread out in an even and orderly way. Spread out on the lines between the fleur-de-lis pattern evenly stacking melee closer and ranged and casters on the outside. It looks a bit congested but when you're on the larger platform you'll be fairly spread out.

The reason we like this positioning is that it allows for two healers to reach just about everyone and the tank has triple coverage. The players on the edges on either side should be the most raid-aware people you have, as they will occasionally have squall-lines forming directly on their position and they will need to make independent calls on movement to dodge the lines. It is quite doable for the few seconds they have to hold that position.

Phase 1:
Open with a heavy, heavy burst of damage with full cool-downs and make sure your tank is able to hold threat. Misdirects and Tricks are great, but you don't necessarily need them. The objective is to get through 20% of his health in as short a period of time as possible. But you have to Zerg intelligently.
  • Squall Lines - you absolutely cannot get hit. move back and forth (not sideways) as necessary to get into the gap.
  • Wind Burst - occasionally you will get knocked away - make sure you're close up against him or you will get knocked off. If squalls are incoming, you might need to make some lateral movement to ensure you don't get thrown back into the squalls - either go through the gap before the burst or move ahead of the squall so you don't get knocked into it. If you're completely trapped - get knocked off. There's a chance you'll be okay.
  • Lightning Strike - this is the big AoE move - Al'akir will face a player and cast a chaining bolt and it will likely hit at least three or four people, make sure your healers are ready for this.
  • In addition, he will be putting out a sleet storm that leaves an icy patch on the ground slowing movement and doing some damage.
There is a lot of stuff going on and the best thing I can say is, do a few pulls. Just keep working through it, see how the abilities come out and gradually you'll see how the abilities come and what to do - this is all about experience, intuition, and a bit of luck. RNG does play a big factor in this phase - Double Squall + Wind + Slow, right after Lightning Strike, while tank is running back and getting Electrocuted - you can't do much but wipe and come back.

Phase 2:
Once you get to 80%, the Electrocute Lightning Strike and the Ice Storm go away, you get Acid Rain - a stacking debuff that does increases damage as the phase goes on and Al'akir will spawn Stormlings on a regular interval. Also, you can stop blaming RNG on deaths at this point - it's all in your hands and it's all about personal execution.

You want to create three clumps - the tank by himself, all the ranged and healers in a clump towards the back and all the melee in another clump to the side. Or you can have everyone group up if you don't mind the Stormling's latent AoE. For us, positioning this way meant only some people had to move at a time for Squalls instead of everyone at once.

Things are less hectic in phase 2 - no lightning strikes to heal through, no ice storm to slow you down, just watch the Wind Burst/Squall lines and be especially alert if they come close together and have a plan in place - IE, dodge Squall then get knocked off, or whatever. Have multiple people calling both the directions the lines are coming in from and also where the gap is (we call "near", "mid" and "far") in relation to Al'Akir. There are variations ("near...ish", "mid kinda far, but not too far", "you know how far down the neck a beer bottles is in relation to its total length, it's kinda like that distance from the center towards the boss"). That last one was made up.

You will also want either 1.5 or 2 people dedicated to killing Stormlings. Each one killed will leave a stacking debuff on the boss increasing his damage taken by 10% - you will need this to get through phase 2 before Acid Rain wipes you.

Let your tank pick them up as they come out and they will naturally dwindle a bit to AoEs and latent damage, but when the third one spawns, have your main killer swap to them and kill one. He should mark them in order of killing so that he can keep track of them (key binding marks helps tremendously here) and as soon as one dies, he should either start working on the second to get it low or swap to boss if the second to die is already low. When you have 5 seconds of the debuff left, swap and kill the second one, re-mark the adds still up (they will keep spawning on a regular interval) and DPS the boss when you can.

At some point, you will fall behind on damage as you keep swapping and waiting and moving and dodging and so forth, so if you're getting down to crunch time, call for help. If you're having to move, ask ranged to take over and kill one quickly. You do not want to loose the stacking debuff. If you do, you'll probably wipe to Acid Rain - you want the stack on Al'akir to get around 6 or 7 stacks high as you will need that additional damage to get through it. Make sure the person who is killing adds has an add-on that lets them track the debuff on Al'akir very clearly and how much time is remaining on it.

Meanwhile, Acid Rain is building stacks on everyone, and when it reaches 10 the damage will start getting a bit out of hand. Ask everyone who has immunities to use them to drop the debuffs at this point - Paladins can bubble, Mages can Ice Block, Rogues can Cloak. Everyone else should start using personal defensive measure to minimize damage and make sure you have Nature Resist at this point.

You will want to blow Heroism here. We hit it at ~40% depending on stacks and DPS. It'll let you push over that hump and get him transitioned into Phase 3 at 25%.

Phase 3:
Al'akir breaks the platform, scattered everyone in all directions and you start flying! Squalls go away (finally) and it's essentially a slightly more difficult or easier version of Malygos phase 3, depending on what you find easy or difficult.

Choose a gathering spot and move to it immediately. We use the bottom of his cloak as it's the most obvious landmark. Everyone's priority is getting there.

The tank should be aware that there will be a stray Stormling around - keep it taunted so it doesn't attach itself to a healer and if Al'akir still has the debuff going, kill it first so you can keep it going for a little while longer. Stay grouped up tightly near him so you don't get blown into the storm by Wind Burst, and have the person with Lightning Rod move out to avoid killing the raid.

You can now DPS and heal as per normal and threat is really irrelevant here. Like Malygos' lightning storms that we shifted left and right for, Al'akir has a similar attack - clouds will form on the vertical level of some player and 5 seconds afterward erupt with continuous lightning. So - you want everyone gathered up on the same vertical plane and as clouds come out, move up by hitting space-bar.

Just keep doing this and at some point you will hit the top of the sky-box. If Al'akir isn't dead, everyone should prepare to hit personal defensive cool-downs, get topped off and hit X to go all the way down to where you started. You will take some damage from passing through a couple of cloud layers, but then it will clear out as they despawn after some time and you can start over from the bottom.

You can keep this phase going as long as your healers have mana but it doesn't last that long - usually you'll kill him your second time going back up even with a couple of people down.

Keep in mind - your first couple of times in phase 3 might be wipes just as people get used to moving and gathering and all that - don't freak out. If you're getting there you can do it. We wiped a few times sub 25% before killing him. Also keep in mind that you want your graphics low if your machine isn't top-end - there are a ton of environmental effects in phase 3 and we had a few wipes to people's machines just locking up or turning into slide-shows. Start at Low and see how it goes.

This isn't my favorite fight by any measure, but it's fun, and getting to fly around the zone after you kill him is awesome, and the zone music is insanely cool like in a Miyazaki film. The design isn't anything to scoff at either. And he's totally worth killing now since they added tier heads and shoulders to his loot-table. Not the shampoo. Like, actual tier tokens.

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