Occuthar Strategy, the new Baradin Hold Boss

This mutt has been available on the PTR for some time. He had way too much health on 10 man during my initial times with him. He’s much more manageable now. You’ll find that this fight is a slight DPS check and skill check.

When you first engage the encounter, the tanks will need to pull him back to a corner and point him away from the raid. The rest of the group will need to stand and spread out around him. Naturally, there is a tank switch involved. When your first tank eats the shadow debuff, your second tank needs to taunt right away until that debuff wears off. The second tank needs to stay off near the side so as to not get hit by Searing Shadows.

Watch out for large, glowing circles around the room. Stay out of those. The DPS check kicks in when he does his Gaze of Occu’thar ability. He launches those little eyeballs of his from the top of his head and sends them towards every player. They’ll hit for around 5000+ damage a second. Have everyone gather up in one central location and light up your AoE. If you don’t kill the eyes quick enough, they’ll explode and dish out 25000 damage to everyone nearby. Spread back out as soon as that’s done!

Enjoy the ridiculous amount of PvP gear that’s bound to drop!

Here’s a kill video from Memento  Mori and Method on 25 man in the PTR

Zul’Gurub and Zul’Aman Boss Strategy Notes

Plan on invading Troll instances today? Not quite sure what to expect? Got you covered. You can find the TLDR versions here. Comment if there’s any additional noteworthy mechanics that you find on live servers that glossed over. Notes were taken from my experiences on the PTR and from kill videos.

Zul’Gurub

Venoxxis

Stay within the maze.

Players will get linked (Toxic Link) which deals damage to both players. Break the link by increasing the distance between the two players. Poison bolts get shot at players, heal through it. Boss has a frontal cone attack. At some point, watch out for pools of poison. Not sure if that’s linked to time or health.

Bloodlord Mandokir

Randomly targets a player and one-shots them. Mandokir levels up. Kill the raptor. The raptor goes around killing ghosts (which will resurrect you when you de) and you have a certain amount of them.

Watch out for big conical, fire spike thing

Kilnara (Panther boss)

First 50%: Tank and spank. Last 50%: Calls in panther buddies.

Interrupt Tears of Blood. Pull 2 packs of panthers during phase 1 and kill them to reduce the amount of panthers coming in the final phase. When they do engage you, AoE them down.

Zan’zil

Three phases (Fire, Ice, Poison)

Zombie troll phase: Grab red cauldron . Gives your attacks additional AoE powers. Destroy zombies.

Berserker phase: One big mob? Grab the Ice cauldron. Attacks gain freezing powers. Slows down Berserker and kills them quick.

Cloud phase: Entire environment covered in gas. Grab poison cauldron, become i mmune.

Jin’do

Phase 1:

Casts a green shield bubble reducing magic effectiveness within it. Keep the tank and Jin’do within it. When Jin’do casts Shadow of Hakkar, run into the shield. Then run back out and resume DPS. Last I checked, he’ll do an AoE chain nuke of some kind if you stay too long within the shield.

Phase 2: Hakkar

There are four chains on the ground. They each have 1 million health. Those chains need to be broken. Look for Gurubashi Spirits. Really big mobs that have the ability to jump. The group needs to stay near chains so that the big guys will jump onto the chain thereby breaking it. Arrow on the player’s head signifies the target. Clear out the Twisted Spirit mobs.

Kicker: Need to keep moving to dodge assorted Shadow Blasts.

Zul’Aman

Akil’Zon (Eagle boss)

Eagles will pick players up and fly them around. DPS the birds. If you’re picked up, you can still DPS them. Look for the thundercloud and stand beneath it.

Nalorakk (Bear boss)

Standard tank and spank. Also does an AoE silence.

Charges the furthest player standing away. Inflicts a +500% damage taken debuff on the target. Don’t get charged twiced. Rotate with other group members in being the furthest person away. (Thanks Katherine and Wynn)

Halazzi (Lynx boss)

Kill totems. Kill the pet Lynx (likes to randomly rush players, healers need to stay on top of that). Lynx form frequently hits random players for massive damage. Your healer needs to be on the ball. Any self surviving cooldowns are encouraged to be used. (Thanks Katherine)

Jan’Alai (Dragonhawk)

Has a straight line fire attack, watch for it.

Watch for fire orbs and make sure you don ‘t stand near them. That hit box is a little larger than the graphic. Kill 1 of the hatchers. Healers need to dispel a fire debuff which comes from the hatched eggs. If Jan’Alai drops beneath a certain percentage, he hatches all of the eggs.

Hexlord Malacrass

Only 2 ads now. Kill them, blow up Malacrass. Remember Malacrass will assume the powers at random of the different classes in your group due to his power drain.

Daakara

Similar to Zul’Jin, he instead undergoes 2 animal forms instead of 4. Switches phases every 33%.

  • Lynx form: He rushes everybody and his damage gradually ramps up.
  • Dragonhawk form: He will dish out fires in a line from him as a center point. Watch out for flame pillars. It was a pain in BC, it’s a pain now.
  • Bear form: Randomly charges a player.
  • Eagle form: Spawns 5 random cyclones. They tend to stay stationary but will shift position every few seconds. Will shoot out lightning to players nearby.
Healing Heroic Magmaw

Healing Heroic Magmaw

h-magmaw-480

Note: That’s actually Lodur’s kill screenshot. How he heals with raid frames that small, I have no idea =).

Healing from World of Logs

Conquest is officially 2/13 in the hard mode 25 progression. It was nice getting the kill and getting the monkey off our backs. It had been weeks since our last progression kill and this was much needed.

Why Magmaw?

We had been struggling for a long time on heroic Chimaeron and it was felt that a change of pace was needed. Knowing it was nerfed, we detoured straight to him instead. I think it took us about ~20 wipes.

Setting up

The first 14 attempts of the night saw us using 7 healers and 4 tanks (1 Frost DK kiting). On the kill, we ended up with 7 healers and 5 tanks (2 Frost DKs kiting).

Healers

2 x Resto Shaman
1 x Resto Druid
1 x Holy Paladin
1 x Disc Priest (Shields)
1 x Disc Priest (Atonement)
1 x Holy Priest

magmaw-heroic

Every DPS player and healer stands on the star and DPS’s from close quarters. The two tanks on Magmaw positioned themselves on the shield depicted above. Our resident Holy Paladin and Resto Druid were assigned to both of them. The triangle, diamond and square marks served a purpose.

We had a group of players who would stand on the outside in order to draw fire from pillars and Nef’s fireballs. We had a Frost Deathknight pick up the parasites but I was having trouble keeping him alive towards the end. This was offset with a second Frost Deathknight who assisted on picking up additional parasites (and split the parasite damage accordingly).

Bro tip: Place all of your outside players together in a group to maximize group healing. In our case, both of the Frost Deathknights, myself and two Hunters were placed in that group. Prayer of Healing combined with Chain Heals and other spells were enough to keep us alive through the pillars.

Tank healing

You will want to use two dedicated players. One healer by themselves may not be enough (at least, when learning). If you’re tank healing, you can’t even deviate for a moment because that tank will die. It’s going to take everything you have to keep them alive. Configure your raid frames to show debuffs like Mangle. If necessary, get your tanks to call the switches so you can keep pace with them. 

Assign another healer to cover the tank grabbing the Constructs. They can switch between the tank and the raid if they choose.

Raid healing

Raid damage is going to continue slamming the players (the outside group especially). I wasn’t able to keep them and the kiters alive myself. You’re going to want to use 2-3 healers at least. It’s to counteract the damage from Magma Spit and Lava Spew. Be fast with any Ignitions. It’s up to the players to move, but if you’re standing at the right spot, it shouldn’t take more then a few steps to get clear.

Head phase

When Magmaw eats the spike, this is the time to regenerate and use mana cooldowns. With 3 Priests, we used our Hymn of Hopes separately. Our Resto Shamans used their Mana Tide totems earlier on. Telluric Currents for Resto Shamans helps immensely from what I understand.

Additionally, you may want to consider having 1 Atonement Priest. Smite during the head phase to heal up any residual damage from the transition.

Concentration Potions are awesome here.

Parasite kiting

For the kiting healer on the outside, I suggest using a Holy Priest. My main job was to heal our Frost DKs as they were weaving figure eights around the room. Body and Soul was enough to give them a little burst of speed if they needed it. The benefit of a Priest is that if the DKs get trapped with incoming parasites or encroaching fires, Life Grip gave them a way out. If the kiters were in no danger, I’d default to throwing Renews on the group while running around fire dodging.

This job sucked for me. I had to hog Innervates and use the expensive spells. There  were times when I had to swing through in front of the marked positions to get in range of Druids. With the amount of cooldowns we had and the DPS, we were able to afford to do that. The faster a fight goes, the higher the HPS since you’ll have more mana.

Hunters: Don’t use Ice Traps. Outside group may not be able to see Pillars or Nef’s Blazing Infernos

Final phase (sub-30% health)

Spread out immediately (Try 6 – 8 yards). This is the most stressful part of the encounter.

Your healing lead is going to want to take a broader look at the health of the raid. Use Tranquility and Divine Hymn accordingly. Don’t forget about DPS Druids or Priests.

The DKs and I drop back further away to allow room for players. Shadowflame Barrages are going to hurt. You may wish to take a moment before the encounter to manually position your healers to maximize the area.

Continue to keep 2  tank healers for Magmaw, 1-2 on the Construct tank and the rest on the raid. Construct tank healing is going to be sketchy. Your raid leader might have to call a DPS burn on a Construct if there’s too many up when you transition. It’s going to be nearly impossible to keep a tank alive with 3 Constructs up. It’s doable if they have 2 Constructs. Watch their tank cooldowns and when theirs wear off, use yours. That should buy you about 30-50 seconds if healers have their single target cooldowns free.

Good luck!

The next question is heroic Maloriakk or heroic Atramedes next.

Also, Conquest healing corps is looking for another Holy Paladin, Boomkin/Resto Druid, Shaman (all specs) and Priest (all specs are welcome). DPS classes are also encouraged to apply.

Full list

Application page

Raid Leading 101: Starting your Roster

**Forgive the absence of last week’s post. I got “blessed” by a crazy work schedule that had me away from my desk a lot. Don’t forget that if there’s anything you’d like to discuss or see in a RL101 post, you can always email me**

So, you’ve made the choice between 10 and 25. You know which feels right for you and your friends. Now you need to look at your roster. Your roster is the list of players on your team that you can pull from to make your raid on any given night. Hopefully you’ve got a group of friends that you’ve started with, which will take some of the stress off of recruiting and assembling your team. We’ll start out with the basics of your raid (this is a 101 course, remember). You need tanks, healers, ranged DPS and melee DPS.

Tanks

Tanks are the classes that will take the brunt of the damage while protecting your raid. The classes that can fulfill this role are:

  • Protection Paladin (“Prot Pally”, “Tankadin”)
  • Feral Druid in Bear Form (“Bear”, “Meatshield”)
  • Protection Warrior (“Prot Warrior”)
  • Blood Death Knight (“Blood DK”, “BDK”)

It’s best in a 10-man raid to have ~3 Tanks on your roster (~4 for 25-man). Most raids encounters will require 2 tanks for encounters. Either your 2 tanks will have to alternate who is tanking the boss, one will tank the boss while the other tanks one or more mobs that join the fight, or you’re doing a Council-style fight.

Your Main Tank (or “MT”) should be your most talented tank and will seldom need a DPS off-spec. The other tanks on your roster (“Off-tanks” or “OTs”) should have a DPS off-spec so they don’t need to be totally swapped out mid-fight. Warriors can spec into Fury or Arms, Druids into Balance or Feral Cat, Paladins into Retribution, and Death Knights into Frost or Unholy.

Healers

Healers are the players that you pay to keep you alive long enough to see the boss take its last breath. Classes blessed with this ability:

  • Restoration Shaman (“Resto Shammy”)
  • Restoration Druid (“Resto Druid”, “Tree Druid”)
  • Holy Paladin (“Holy Pally”, “HPally”)
  • Holy Priest
  • Discipline Priest (“Disc”)

For your 10-man crew, count on having ~4 Healers on your roster (~9 for 25man). You’ll always need a minimum of 2 healers (5 in 25-man) for an encounter, depending on how healing intensive it is. It’s best to have the other healers in your roster work on a DPS offspec in case you need to convert to more DPS in an encounter. Priests can spec into Shadow, Druids into Balance or Feral Cat, Paladins into Retribution, and Shamans into Enhancement (Melee) or Elemental (Ranged).

Melee/Ranged DPS

DPS are the players that put the hurtin’ on the boss. They’re primarily responsible for dealing damage to the boss and any adds that may pop up, as well as crowd control, interrupt, off-heal, or help mitigate damage. Here’s the laundry list of DPS you’ll find:

Melee

  • Enhancement Shaman (“Enh Shammy”)
  • Rogue (Subtlety, Assassination, Combat)
  • Arms or Fury Warrior (“Arms War”, “Fury War”)
  • Retribution Paladin (“Ret Pally”, “lolret”)
  • Feral Druid in Cat Form (“Cat”, “Kitty DPS”)
  • Death Knight (Unholy, Frost)

Ranged

  • Elemental Shaman (“Ele Shammy”)
  • Hunter (Marksmanship, Beast Mastery, Survival)
  • Warlock (Affliction, Demonology, Destruction)
  • Mage (Arcane, Fire, Frost)
  • Balance Druid (“Moonkin”, “Boomkin”, “Boom Chicken”, “Lazer Turkey”)
  • Shadow Priest

In 10-man, you’ll want ~8 DPS’ers (~22 for 25-man) on your roster, with a mix of melee and ranged. There will be some fights that will be better for melee DPS or ranged DPS, so a mix will give you a good chance of success. Having any of your DPS players with a tank or heal off-spec is great, but more often than not, you’ll be better off if your tanks and healers are all main-spec.

Summing It Up

A standard 10-man raid will consist of: 2 Tanks, 3 Healers, 5 DPS.

A standard 25-man raid will consist of: 2-3 Tanks, 6-7 Healers, and the rest DPS.

Of course different raids will deviate from this basic model, but in my raiding experience, this is usually what you’ll find. To start out, aim for those numbers. Once you have your 10 or 25, add 1-2 more for each role to solidify your team. Your raiders will need nights off or have real-life commitments from time to time, and those extra people will help keep your raid going consistently.

Coming up, we’ll look at more advanced roster planning, as well as a couple recruitment tips!

7 + 1 Simple Ways to Pull Trash

Trash pulling can be a bane to players new to the game or new to the raiding scene. Its a basic coordination skill to learn which is employed from the 5 man level to the 25 man level. The act of pulling bosses are generally easy. There’s typically one boss to worry about.

But trash?

There’s a ton of trash. At this level, they can’t exactly be taken lightly! If your group isn’t properly focused or directed, trash packs can easily overwhelm your group.

Assuming you’re not taking on trash mobs with really specific mechanics, here’s a few general strategies your group can use to handle them.

Crowd Control Pull

This is the standard and textbook method that most groups use when grabbing trash. Let the players with crowd control skills open up. Remaining mobs which are either immune or designated as kill targets will automatically chase the raid allowing the tank to grab them.

Misdirect Pull

Have any Hunters around? Good as this is where they’ll come in handy! While a tank is building threat on one mob, a Hunter can send another mob their way. Just remember that the Misdirect mechanics have changed slightly. Best used against trash pulls with many mobs.

Misdirect
The current party or raid member targeted will receive the threat caused by your next damaging attack and all actions taken for 4 sec afterwards.  Transferred threat is not permanent, and will fade after 30 sec.

Charge Pull

No crowd control. The tank literally charges straight in and generates as much aggro as possible on all targets. Heavy reliance on the healer to keep them alive. DPS players are typically called upon to focus fire targets or to AoE mobs down. The side pulls in the first chamber of Bastion of Twilight are excellent examples of using a charge pull. The tanks jump in and it turns into a race between DPS and healer mana.

Line of Sight Pull

I would imagine Protection Paladins would be used to using this (for historical reasons). The line of sight pull involves the tank aggroing mobs and then running behind a pillar or a rock or some other object. This forces the mobs to chase after that player because they can’t actually see said player. Just make sure the rest of the group doesn’t start opening up on them until the mobs get into position. Use this if you’re worried about patrols.

Use the LOS pull if you’re up against ranged mobs or if you’re worried about patrols.

Distance Pull

Usually executed on trash packs consisting of all casters, your tank will want to run in and then back out as quick as possible. As the casters begin attempting to cast and chase you, they’ll eventually reach a point where they’ll stack up. This is when the tank then re-engages them in order to generate threat on all of the trash allowing group to open up. (Thanks Hi Ya).

Interrupt Pull

Reserved for any trash packs involving casters, this pull involves the use of an interrupt. I had to practice this one a few times on my Elemental Shaman. I’d manually break the Hex on the target with a few Lightning Bolts. Once the mob started casting, I’d hit it with a Wind Shear to get it to start running towards me thereby allowing the tank to snatch it up in place. This is especially useful if there are no immediate landscape features for the group to hide behind but you still need trash to move due to patrols.

Mind Control Pull

If you can’t line of sight pull, this is the next best thing. Naturally it requires a Priest. Your Priest Mind Controls a mob while the rest of the group stays back. The trash should then gang up and utterly destroy the Mind Controlled mob.* Just keep in mind that you may not get reputation or any loot from the death of the Mind Controlled mob.

Exception: If your Priest is named Matt, he will fat finger Mind Blast instead of Mind Control. Do not assign him to any Mind Control duties.

Bonus: The pet pull.

Yeah.

You know what the pet pull is. Everyone’s experienced the pet pull before. If you haven’t, well that can be easily arranged.

Healing Chimaeron

Healing Chimaeron

Feel free to scroll down and watch Conquest’s kill video as well as read the comments I had on my own performance.

As Priests, we have it easy. There are so many simple tools we can use to heal this unique encounter. I’m going to break this post down by spells and healing techniques.

Best advice I can give you about healing through Chimaeron is to not panic. The first couple of attempts, my eyes were glued to my screen. I imagine every healer who sees this fight for the first time feels the same way. Its simply overwhelming and you experience this feeling of helplessness washing over you as you watch the rest of your raid plummet.

But don’t worry. There is a light at the end of a tunnel.

Assignments

I recommend raids start with 7 healers on 25 man (3 on 10 man). This early in the end game, I think that having that extra healing GCD is going to be a must.

2 healers on the tanks
5 healers on the raid

Assign each healer to 1 group. Make sure those groups are relatively close to each other so that healers can spring AoE heals when needed. I’d drop a Prayer of Healing after a Massacre to elevate them past 10k and keeping them in the safe zone. You’ll want your positioning to look something like this:

BossBlueprintStrat_1294778027

As you can imagine, the + symbols represent the raid healers. The blue circles represent where their groups should be. The two groups near the top are for melee while the two near the bottom are for ranged. I’m the one right in the middle. The green circle represents my approximate AoE healing radius.

Also note that I didn’t draw this to scale. It’s an idea of how I wanted our groups to array ourselves.

On a side note, check out Boss Blueprint if you want to create your own boss strategies and tactics. It’s how I created this one.

Phase 1 (Triage healing)

You have 4 spells at your disposal when trying to keeping your group alive.

Holy Word: Serenity

Get in this Chakra state. The instant heal is a life saver. You have about 5 seconds to heal affected players up past 10k health otherwise you risk them dying to a Massacre or a Caustic Slime.

Flash Heal

Your fast heal will get plenty of action and work on this encounter. I’ve seen players frown at using such an inefficient heal. But guess what? This is one of those encounters where its warranted. You can’t spend your time worry about mana efficiency here. If you’ve gotten to this point, then you already know how to manage your mana, cooldowns and spell usages anyway. Besides, its not like you’ll be chain casting Flash Heal on the same player repeatedly. All you need is just one. In most cases, only one player in your group will be below 10000 health.

Heal

Yes, it is a little slow to use. I’ve developed a habit where I would just continue chain casting Heal on myself or another player in my group even if they didn’t need it. Why? Because there’s a 20% chance that my Heal will land on a player in my group who is the target of my Heal. If I’m casting Heal and a Caustic Slime strikes my target, I can simply let the heal go through and it will get that player above 10000 anyway. Just be prepared to switch to your assignments within your party.

Work that Mastery while you’re at it!

Binding Heal

Great spell to have if both you and another player in your group have been hit. One cast will get you and your target to safety. I’m not seeing this spell used often enough.

Phase 2 (Brute force healing)

Group up and unload your biggest AoE healing spells.

Prayer of Healing

Identify the members in the raid who do not have personal cooldowns they can use to survive. I got into the habit of Flash Healing that player and a second player before casting Prayer of Healing on my own group with help from Serendipity. As a Disc Priest, you’ll want to do the same with a shield into a hasted Prayer of Healing (due to Borrowed Time).

Holy Word: Sanctuary

Stack the healing circles on top of each other for maximum effect.

Yeah.

No brainer, eh?

Divine Hymn

You’ll want to coordinates Hymns and Tranquilities across the raid. If you have a Disc priest, find a way to weave in their Power Word: Barrier. I find that the first Feud can be healed through without cooldowns. But any Feuds after that are best done with rotating cooldowns. If you’re just learning the fight, I suggest going with using 2 cooldowns per Feud. As your raid gets geared and stronger, you can drop down to 1 per feud.

Phase 3

Smite

Your healing spells are useless. Switch to Smite mode and go to town. You deserve it.

Leap of Faith

Keep this spell in your back pocket. It isn’t exactly a heal, but it does buy time for your raid to take down Chimaeron when you Life Grip the target he is chasing to a safe area in the room.

Conquest Video

Chimaeron normal mode on 25

In this video from my perspective, I’ve been assigned to group 5 (The all healer group). I’m using Real UI (and you can read up on my thoughts on this UI compilation on NSUI). Note that my group 5 is the last row not necessarily the farther right column.

Things you shouldn’t do in a raid

You’ll notice I make a number of key mistakes on our first kill.

Open bag, find mana potion: I started using Real UI recently as an experiment on compilations. I completely forgot to ensure my Mana Potions were on my bar. So what did I do? Open up my bags, find my potions, and click on them.

Have the character sheet open: In the biggest example of healer tunnel vision in the HISTORY of tunnel visioning, yours truly fat fingers the character sheet. I must have left it up for a solid 2 minutes or so before I realized I had it open. My eyes were that glued to my raid frames. Even my raiders are perplexed as to how I left my expanded character sheet up taht long.

Remember your DPS spells: Yeah, I had to rearrange my keys. Once we hit the final phase, you’ll notice I kept trying to cast Holy Word: Sanctuary. I forgot what I had Smite bound to and it took me a few seconds to remember what keys they were. Whoops.

Need specific advice on your own individual play or on your healing team? Feel free to leave a comment or question here.

For a different perspective, check out a blog entry by Kae from a Resto Druid perspective. If you’re a blogger and you’ve written a blog post on Chimaeron as well, let me know and I’ll add a link straight to yours.

Raid Leading 101: 10 vs 25

Probably as old as when Burning Crusade launched is the discussion of 10man vs 25man. The jump from 40man to 25man jolted a lot of raiders and caused the collapse of several teams. Raid teams started out in 10-man Karazhan, which geared them to enter the 25-mans until the end of the expansion (Gruul’s Lair, Magtheridon’s Lair, Serpentshrine Cavern, Tempest Keep, Black Temple, Sunwell Plateau), with a 10man Zul’Aman thrown in for flavor.

From what I saw, there was a stigma that 10mans were inferior to 25man. 25man Raid Leaders were thought of as more commanding and needed more control over their team, whereas 10man Raid Leaders didn’t have as much responsibility. The only way to get any decent gear in Burning Crusade was to run 25man raids. Legendaries were obtained only in the greater of the two. The end result was people preferring 25mans over 10mans, even lasting into Wrath of the Lich King. Anyone else remember needing to get into 25-man Trial of the Crusader to get a decent trinket at the time?

However, with Cataclysm, the tables have shifted toward more balance. With the changes that Blizzard implemented, there is less pressure on needing to raid a certain size. Let’s take a look at the pro’s and con’s (as I’ve seen it).

25-man

  • More likely to have every raid buff due to a larger raid.
  • Raiders of the same class can feel more free to tweak their specs.
  • More forgiving to players that may be a little “sub-par”.
  • Battles have a more “epic” feel with a bigger raid.
  • More players = wealth of opinions in strategizing fights.
  • Three in-combat resurrections allowed per fight.
  • Raid competition may not be as crucial (melee vs ranged).
  • ————————————
  • Maintaining control over a bigger group.
  • More standby’s may be needed.
  • More people may equal conflicting egos/personalities.
  • Possible to run into scheduling difficulties.
  • Harder to start up from scratch.
  • Easier for people to slightly slack at times.
  • More officers may be needed.

10-man

  • Usually tighter-knit group.
  • Easier to start up from scratch.
  • More responsibility on each player.
  • Possible to have one of each class (very little gear competition).
  • Fewer standby’s may be needed.
  • Fewer officers or leaders needed.
  • ——————————–
  • Less input for fight strategies.
  • With fewer people, the fights may feel “less epic”.
  • More responsibility on each player.
  • Less room for error.
  • One in-combat resurrection available per fight.
  • Possible to miss certain raid buffs because of limited raiders.
  • Less room for error because of fewer players.
  • Raid composition may matter more (melee vs ranged).

The Choice is Yours

When you’re deciding on which side to go with, keep all of these things in mind. Some of the pro’s and con’s are the same. “More responsibility for each player” may be a good thing for your team or it may not be. You and your team are going to weigh these points differently, and that’s perfectly fine. It all goes back to what you want out of your team. Maybe you want the “epic feel” of 25man and don’t mind dealing with more people/schedules. Perhaps you like less gear competition but don’t mind putting more responsibility on each individual raider.

Remember, the same ilevel gear drops off of 10man vs 25man, so that’s no longer a factor. More gear drops on 25-man than on 10-man to even the scale. Also, Blizzard is still working on balancing the difficulty of the raid sizes, so one doesn’t feel noticeably harder than the other. Personally, I feel this is hard to achieve, but I’m fine with them getting it as close as they can.

As for me, we’ve decided on 10-man since the beginning. I don’t want to put in the extra effort needed to wrangle 24 other players, and we like the greater responsibility placed on each raider. We may not have that “epic” feel because we prefer a more intimate raiding environment. It’s not that I don’t enjoy 25man raiding, but I prefer 10man.

What about you and your team? Have you already made a decision? Are you split? What other pro’s and con’s can you add to the above list?

 

What You Should Know About Dark Intent

What You Should Know About Dark Intent

One of the burdens that comes along with being a healer is the unenviable task of buff management.  Druids have Mark of the Wild and can provide various buffs, depending on the form that they are in.  Paladins spent the last two expansions dealing with the constant bickering about which blessing each person in the raid wanted and coordinating that effectively.  Priests have Power Word: Fortitude and Shadow Protection.  Shamans have a similar responsibility to paladins, in terms of coordinating which shaman will drop what totem and which one doesn’t stack with which existing raid buff and so on.  Having people in your raid who are understanding and willing to communicate openly and amicably with you can certainly make this process much easier.

There are also buffs that can be provided to a raid that are not meant for the entire raid to have or to be able to enjoy.  Whereas the above mentioned buffs can be distributed pretty evenly to those in need, certain buffs can involve some amount of discussion and even competition for those resources.  These buffs can include, but are not limited to Power Infusion, Hysteria and Focus Magic.  One of the more highly coveted buffs, Focus Magic is a buff provided by arcane mages and works as follows:

In the past, the arcane tree was the clear choice for raiding mages and any mage worth their salt would carry around a Focus Magic macro, which would show who was going to receive each mage’s buff.  Sadly, it usually went a little something like this:

Mage 1 — >  Mage 2 — >  Mage 3 — >  Mage 1

Eventually, things changed and arcane was no longer the clear winner in the DPS race and was replaced by fire. Focus Magic was placed deep enough in the arcane tree where mages would not be able to spec fire and have enough points to reach down into the talent tree to take Focus Magic, too.  Despite a few mages clinging tightly to their arcane talents, due to believing the difference in DPS not being enough to completely rule the spec out, Focus Magic soon began to fall out of favor and its presence all but disappeared from raids.

In an attempt to homogenize classes and to ensure that certain buffs were not so class specific, Blizzard gave a similar spell to warlocks this expansion called Dark Intent and it looks a little something like this:

There are a number of immediately noticeable differences between the two abilities:

- Warlocks of all specs have access to Dark Intent, contrary to the tooltip that states Metamorphosis (a Demonology talent) is a pre-requisite.

- Only periodic damage or healing spells will trigger the effect.  Direct healing spells or direct damage that crits will not.

- Critical Periodic Damage can come from melee DPS, not just casters.

- The effects of Dark Intent can stack up to 3 times and increases overall periodic damage and healing done, not just the chance to crit.

So, warlocks have an amazing new buff to play with, that seems to appeal to a wider variety of classes and specs in the raid.  This undoubtedly brings up a number of questions.  Which classes or specs make the best choices to give Dark Intent to?  Should warlocks get to choose who they give their buff to?  Will Dark Intent really make that much of a difference in performance to make these questions relevant?  Let’s find out!

Who Should Get It?

One of my guildies linked a terrific guide found on MMO that shows the results of some theorycrafting that shows who the top choices are to receive Dark Intent.  The numbers are broken down, based on a number of criteria.  The results are separated based on overall raid DPS gain, depending on which spec the warlock in question is and then based on personal DPS gain.  The numbers showing personal DPS gain were not divided up, based on the warlock’s spec, because there was no difference in the results.

Regardless of spec, for both raid and personal DPS gains, shadow priests were the top target for this buff, followed by balance druids, fire mages and feral druids.  For raid DPS gains, typically a survival hunter would be your next best bet after that, regardless of the warlock’s spec.  For personal DPS gains, a frost mage would be the next best choice, due to their high crit rating and the DoT from Frostfire Bolt.  Interestingly, Dark Intent does not work to full capacity, when placed on another warlock.  The haste stacks, but the stacked increase to periodic damage and healing does not.  The two warlocks in question would receive 6% haste from each other and nothing else.  Therefore, they and the raid stand to gain much more from Dark Intent by casting it on someone else.

Since Dark Intent can also increase healing, there are situations where healers may make a better choice for the buff than DPS would.  Resto druids are the clear winners here, followed by raid healing holy priests, resto shaman and then tank or single target healing holy priests.  Discipline priests and holy paladins were found to be the least favorable healers to receive this buff, due to their minimal usage of heal over time effects (in the case of discipline priests) or the near absence of those effects (in the case of the holy paladins).

Who Gets To Decide?

The usage of Focus Magic was never something that was something that had to be controlled or watched over by an officer or anyone in charge in any guild I have ever been in.  Most people would roll their eyes and sigh when they saw mages spam their Focus Magic macro in raid chat and would think nothing more of it.  The truth of the matter is that the person giving the buff, be it a mage or a warlock, has a personal stake in who they give Dark Intent to.  If they give it to someone who has periodic damage or healing capabilities, but is not geared for or does not have enough crit to support the stacks that come with it, nobody wins.  They should have every right to make that call and decide who will give them and the raid the best bang for their buck.

The only time that I feel an officer should intervene is if they see the warlock using poor judgment in who they give Dark Intent to.  If you see a holy paladin receiving Dark Intent a half dozen times on a raid night, I would pull the warlock aside and give them a stern talking to.  If you see warlocks taking bids on who gets the buff and not considering what is the best thing for themselves or the raid, I would put my foot down on that.  Let the warlock use their best judgment, until you realize that maybe they aren’t.

Does It Make A Difference?

You betcha!  Taking into account that the theorycrafting was done using Tier 11 BiS gear (iLevel 372), thousands of DPS could be at stake here.  Thousands!  Affliction warlocks giving Dark Intent to shadow priests led to the highest increase of raid DPS at 4131 DPS, followed by moonkin at 3462 DPS gained.  Demonology warlocks posted the next highest increase in raid DPS by giving the buff to a shadow priest.  That combination led to an increase of 3270 raid DPS, with moonkin giving an increase of 2598 DPS.  Destruction warlocks showed noticeably lower numbers, with the highest raid DPS increase being 3076 DPS, again working in tandem with a shadow priest.  Each spec showed the highest personal DPS gain by working with a moonkin and showed an increase of 1999 DPS by doing so.

The bottom line, which has become a motto of sorts for this expansion is “Every little bit helps.” If using Dark Intent at the right time and on the right person is going to increase your chances to kill a boss faster or to heal through something with less stress and mana usage involved, I’m all for it.  I would not scoff at the increases you might see right now, just because they may not be as noticeable as the ones shown on the guide that I linked.  Encourage your warlocks to do the right thing and encourage those they decide to give Dark Intent to to use it to it’s fullest.  Having a buff that require two people to make the most of it only stands to increase the sense of teamwork and camaraderie that your raid as a whole should be experiencing towards each other.

It was always my understanding that warlocks were all about Fear and CorruptionWho would have thought such a class could be responsible for such warm, fuzzy feelings?

Raid Leading Backbone

**Image from “Patton” courtesy of 20th Century Fox Films**

I have a fault. Well, I have lots, but the one I’m going to talk about is my propensity to be “too nice”. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve hated confrontation. I wanted everyone to be happy. People in Team Sport (my guild) have called me “The Politician” (without all of the negative stigma from current American politics). I try to make sure everyone is listened to and catered to as much as possible.

However, with regard to leading Team Sport’s Raid Team, I’ve hit the biggest snag. I can’t be “The Politician”. I have to be a leader. Previous incarnations of Team Sport raiding were very casual. If people happened to be online that night, we raided. If not, no big deal. As time went on, I noticed a few of us were very passionate about getting a raid going, while others were very lackluster about the whole ordeal. I always tried to get us raiding while not being inconsiderate to those that weren’t interested that particular night. Everytime we came close to getting something solid going, it would fall apart. Someone would have a real life issue (totally understandable) or just randomly disappear on a WoW break. Each time it would fall apart, I would most likely take my raiding desires elsewhere but found myself always back in Team Sport once it looked like raiding was possible again.

With about 2 months left to the expansion, I worked with a buddy of mine to throw some much-needed structure into the system. It started out great. We did a merge with another small guild that had the same issues, and we killed 10-man Arthas within one month. This proved to me that our team has what it takes to be a good progression crew. We just need some structure and drive.

The Present

We’ve had a good amount of guildies return to the game from “retirement”. A lot of them seem incredibly excited to raid the current content. However, when I mention this new structure (scheduling, accountability, responsibility), a few have balked at it. The main goal of the team is to actually progress through content while it’s still current, not eventually bash through it when it’s old news and nerfed to the ground. To do that, I’ve been working diligently to implement some guidelines:

  • Consistency – I justly understand and sympathize with real-life issues. Sometimes I have to work late, or I have something important that needs to be taken care of on a raid night. However, the core of us have done what we can to work our schedules around being able to raid together. We raid 3 hours each night, 2 nights each week. I don’t think it’s too much to ask for core raiders to be consistently available (within reason…don’t miss the birth of your child or risk getting fired).
  • Responsibility – A cardinal rule of raiding is being prepared. Make sure your gear is enchanted and you have flask and food available. Take the time to look up the fights. Don’t take unannounced AFK breaks or breaks that are longer than what the Raid Leader has set forth. Pay attention and look for ways that you can contribute.

If a Team Sport raider can’t consistently be available, or just lacks responsibility and preparedness, they’ll be placed in a standby slot (at best) or just not on the team (at worst). I’ve made it clear that we’ll do more casual raiding nights any other evening of the week (akin to the “if we have people on, we raid” mentality), but the Raid Team core wants Tues/Thurs night to be focused and dedicated.

The Challenge

There are some that have thought that it is too much to ask. I’ve been told that I’m making raiding “feel too much like a job” and that I’m “taking the fun out of it”. Frankly, I expected this out of some. These are people that have always enjoyed the “casual” mentality of our old raid style. I don’t blame them. It was fun when we all had the time and were just kind of strolling around Azeroth, hittin’ up a raid when we could. However, many of us don’t have that kind of time or mentality any longer. That is the precise reason these changes were made.

I’ve been recruiting to fill those spots that were once occupied by the more casual players or ones with unpredictable schedules. It does pain me to be looking for other people instead of the long-standing Team Sport members that I’ve been playing with for 3+ years, but it’s just not fun for the Raid Team core to log on, and find out we’re not raiding because of people that we can’t rely on.

So the challenge I face: How do I institute this structure and work toward the raid’s success, while still maintaining in-game friendships with those that simply don’t want to be a part of a Raid Team like that?

Matticus already told me: “Don’t be friends with your raiders.” I get that. It makes sense. It’s why there are corporate rules of management not fraternizing with employees. It muddies the water. However, I feel it’s possible that I can be strict and firm with regard to the raid, and then just be myself whenever it’s not about the raid. The trick is to let them all know that’s what’s going on.

I need to continue to be firm on what the goal of the raid team is, and how we plan on achieving that. I also need to be diligent about communicating what’s going on with the raid and its raiders. If I make sure everyone’s aware of what’s expected, then they can’t legitimately get angry when something is not up to snuff.  I have to hold the raid accountable, as well as hold myself accountable.

Have you ever dealt with being a Raid Leader of your friends? What tricks have you used to keep things moving forward without sacrificing friendship?

On that note, Team Sport is looking for a melee DPS or two for core slots. Other roles are full. However, if you’re interested in being a part of the team in a standby role, those applicants are always welcome. Outside of raiding, we’re very active in PvP and regular casual gameplay. We’re an Alliance guild on the Ner’zhul server (PvP-PST). Further info and an application @ http://teamsport.guildlaunch.com.

Conclave of Wind

Conclave of Wind

Conquest scored their first 10 man raid boss kill a few weeks ago with the Conclave of Wind. It’s another Council-type encounter that involves multiple bosses. They don’t share health pools or anything. Once a djinn (genie?) goes down, you have a minute to take down the rest of them otherwise the disabled djinn’s will have their health restored to 100%. When engaged, the djinn’s need to have someone within attacking range otherwise players will get hit with a really strong wipe-inducing debuff.

Otherwise, keep reading for an account of each healer’s perspective on their platforms along with a quick breakdown on what actually happens.

Nezir

nezir

Nezir is the Frost djinn. He places Frost patches on the ground which needs to be avoided as the movement slow effect will stack. His Wind Chill deals Frost damage. His Sleet Storm is a Frost DoT. Be wary of Permafrost as it is a conical Frost spell hitting anyone near the target. Wind Chill is the mechanic that forces platform teams to switch as it steadily increases all Frost damage taken by 10% (in other words, it’s a stacking debuff).

His ultimate ability is Sleet Storm. It deals ~30000 damage divided by all targets within 100 yards. Make a note of this effect.

Alette’s point of view

My starting platform was Nezir’s, which is the frost platform of conclave. The damage that the boss deals scales with how many stacks of Wind Chill that the tank and I had. When 5 stacks of Wind Chill is reached, the healing becomes intense. We originally tried switching platforms at about 8 stacks but shifted it down to 5 instead. As a healer, try to always be behind or to the side of him to avoid taking permafrost damage. His ice patches are a nuisance, but I used Hand of Freedom to remove the slow effect. 

Once I reached 3 stacks, I started moving towards the ramp. At stack 5, transition was signalled verbally and the jump was made to Anshal’s platform. 

Pro tip: Don’t forget you can cast instant spells when flying through the air from platform to platform.

Make sure you hit the ramp straight on and not at an angle.

Anshal

anshal

Anshal has an AoE effect which silences any players within it and heals any of his allies. Melee players will have a field day here. Every so often, Ravenous Creepers will appear with the ability to eject Toxic Spores. These Spores will infect players with a stacking toxin. Unfortunately, there’s no direct way to remove it. The Toxin hits for about 500 damage and  it stacks. When the stacks get too high, a switch is called where the players jump over to Nezir and do a bit of damage to him for a while before jumping back. The key here is all about Ad control. Make sure those ads are dead or as weak as possible. Anshal’s ultimate heals all of his allies for 25000 health per second and they deal and extra 15% damage. In the seconds leading up to his Zephyr (his ultimate spell), you’ll want to ensure his little friends are down for the count. Once they are, all the DPS players here need to make the jump to Nezir’s platform immediately.

Ophelie’s point of view

It started like any other fight: Beacon on the tank, Holy Shocking players, and building up Holy Power. Anshal actually doesn’t hit that hard and my concentration started to waver… Then adds spawned and it took every bit of Holy Radiance and Light of Dawn and pounding my fist on the keyboard to make sure our DPS survived. The adds had barely stopped moving (and the dps had barely been healed enough) that my tank suddenly jumped onto the wind tunnel on the side. Being a good loyal healer, I jumped after him, leaving the DPS players to their misery.

I found myself in front of Nezir. I avoided frost patches on the ground the best I could. I secretly thanked the existence of Hand of Freedom, which sped up the delicate process that is reaching the frost boss. By then, the DPS had caught up with me, demanding to be healed again. I pulled out Holy Radiance, Light of Dawn and my fist again before adding Aura Mastery + Resistance Aura to the mix in order to do my best in keeping everyone alive as Nezir cast Sleet Storm. After all the excitement, the DPS left to kill more of Anshal’s flowers and I hung out with my tank and Nezir, until we noticed that we’d each gathered 4-5 stacks of debuffs, making us take more frost damage. Not wanting to mess with that, we jumped back onto the wind tunnel to hang out with Anshal, the flowers and the dps.

Healing the DPS on Anshal’s side was frustrating at times. My AoE heals were able to keep everyone up long enough for me to blast them with some Divine Lights.

It’s a coordination fight, notably coordinating damage dealt to the right boss at the right time, but from a healing perspective, it’s about communicating with your tank and with the other tank-healer team to coordinate jumping. The DPS doesn’t like to be left alone on a platform with no tank and no healer. And occasionally you have to communicate with the team working on Rohash (but they get really edgy late into the fight, so be forewarned).

Get your utility spells right too:

  • Lay on Hands is a wipe saver if your tank decides to jump while you’re mid-cast.
  • In times where your tank and your DPS are fighting for your affection, Hand of Sacrifice lets you keep the tank alive while paying attention to the DPS.
  • Bubble can be used to remove frost debuff stacks, but I found it more helpful in avoiding aggressive flowers.
  • Hand of Protection can rescue a softer DPS from those flowers.
  • Hand of Freedom can help you (or your tank) navigate the Nazir’s frost patches.
  • Holy Radiance and Light of Dawn are fantastic when you’ve got the DPS bunched up in front of you. During alone time with the tank, or to quickly save a DPS, use Word of Glory as your holy power sink.

Rohash

rohash

The big threats to watch out for from Rohash is his Wind Blast. If he faces you while casting it, you better move fast (and note that the wind spout turns in a clockwise direction). Veterans of Serpentshrine Cavern will recognize the ability as one based from the Lurker Below. His ultimate spell is called Hurricane where players on the platform are throw around in the air (akin to Malygos’ Vortex). The only spells which can be cast are instant ones. Otherwise, a tank is not needed. In fact, it is strongly advised that no melee players engage Rohash at all.

Matt’s point of view

Don’t let the other two Paladins fool you. We drew straws. I lost. I got arguably easiest djinn in the instance (which I also found fairly boring).

We took two approaches to Rohash. We tried with both a Mage or a Mage and a Warlock. We were able to progress quite nicely with both ranged DPS on this platform. There were times when our Warlock needed to switch to other platforms for diagnostic checks to ensure everything was being done properly or to help level out the damage. For the most part, Rohash was the key. Once he was down to a certain percentage, everything would come together.

Healing the damage by Rohash is a piece of cake. Heal was enough to slow down any damage dealt before relying on either Flash Heal or Greater Heal to get players back up to full again. I’ll admit I got caught off guard once or twice by the Wind Blast. The trick to avoiding Wind Blast is to pay careful attention to his bars and the direction he is facing. As a Priest, I was able to Body and Soul my way clear fairly quickly. Don’t stand too close to him as he conjures these three mini-cyclones that revolve around him. Their radius is slightly larger than the graphic. Get nailed by one, and you will get knocked back.

During the Hurricane portion, I relied on instant spells to keep myself at a high health pool as much as possible before hitting Levitate so I wouldn’t take fall damage. Yes, Circle of Healing if you have to.

How it works

The majority of the DPS will be between Nezir and Anshal (actually, that might be dependant on your raid composition). Melee players will definitely be working on Anshal and jumping platforms to Nezir as necessary to help mitigate Sleet Storm. Once the ultimate abilities have worn off, DPS players are free to resume their original positions. Our game plan was to concentrate on Rohash and Anshal. Incidental damage and DoTs or AoE would be used to gradually lower Nezir.

As soon as we took Rohash down to about 10%, we checked to ensure Anshal was near death. If he was not close, we held off DPS on Rohash. If Anshal was close to death, we lit up Time Warp and dropped both Anshal and Rohash as quick as possible. The moment the Djinn’s fell, we hightailed it to the central platform where Nezir was waiting. 1 minute was more than enough time to eliminate Nezir with concentrated fire.

We just completely blew them out of the sky.