Quick Thoughts About Val’Anyr

There’s been a few updates about Val’nyr since the last time I wrote about it. Now we have some more information regarding the retrieval and construction of the legendary mace. Here are the Coles’ notes version:

  • 30 fragments
  • Step 1: Bring shattered fragments to the Archivum Console
  • Step 2: Throw the shattered fragments into Yogg-Saron’s maw while he is casting Deafening Roar
  • Kill Yogg-Saron and loot
  • Condition 1: Can only be completed in Ulduar Heroic mode
  • Condition 2: If at least one Ulduar Watcher is not assisting you

This leads me to conclude a few things.

First is that it appears the person who is collecting all the fragments does not have to be the same person who ends up with the constructed mace. After all, the fragments must be thrown into Yogg-Saron who must then be killed. The loot master should then find the completed mace on the loot table of the old god.

This means the fragments can be looted to any one person as a keeper until the guild collects the necessary amount of fragments.

Second is that the construction of this weapon is going to be out of the reach of many of the casual oriented raiding guilds due to the conditions needed.

Some more questions remain

What happens if the raid group fails at killing Yogg-Saron during that attempt? Or even during that week? Are the fragments lost?

Lastly, it seems that PTR build 9767 (the most recent) was pushed through mostly for bug fixes. Since the latest build was meant to fix stuff, we can assume then the patch is very close to completion. I do believe 3.1 will be here sometime this April. Two weeks.

A good indicator that the patch will be coming out soon is when PTR servers shut down.

Shaman Tier 8 Bonuses

Lodur here to chime in on the Tier 8 set bonuses for Restoration Shamans. Matt posted them earlier, but I‘ll paste them here again for easy reference

Shaman

  • Shaman T8 Restoration 2P Bonus — Reduces the cooldown on Riptide by 1 sec.
  • Shaman T8 Restoration 4P Bonus — Reduces the cast time of Chain Heal by 0.2 sec.

 

So, lets take a gander here. Like many of the other sets, the two piece bonus has left me feeling a bit strange. This is different then what they’ve done with our 2 pieces in the past.  Lets take a look at the Tier 7 2 piece. 

Water Shield Boost

  •  Your Water Shield is 10% stronger 

That is a very very nice 2 piece. It’s a percentage, so if the amount of mana Water Shield returns goes up, this has that much more punch. Lets take this a step further and go back to the Tier 6 2 piece. 

Chain Heal Discount

  • Your Chain Heal ability costs 10% less mana. 

Again, same deal. A percentage that scales well with the abilities on hand. I know I used this set bonus well into Naxxramas healing and I was very sad to see it go.

This new 2 piece set bonus is interesting to me because its a flat amount, it doesn’t scale since a second is a second anyway you slice it. 1 second reduction brings the ability to a 5 second cooldown, which makes it like any of the shock spells with 5/5 reverberation. Having it available 1 second sooner is nice, I know I’ve wished I had it up that one second sooner many times (Malygos Vortex comes to mind). There is something that can take this a step up from decent however. Another recent Shaman change that has to do with a particular glyph available in the patch fits this set bonus quite handily. 

Glyph of Riptide — Increases the duration of Riptide by 6 sec. (Up from 3 sec)

This, with the 2 piece bonus gives us a 20 second hot, on a 5 second cooldown. I can definitely see that being useful, and if it stays at a 6 second increase, I’ll most assuredly pick one up. 

Next on the billet is the 4 piece set bonus.

It doesn’t seem like a lot up front, but I like this. I really really like this. Right now through moderate gearing (and taking on more crit to reach a balance of stats) Lodur is at 438 haste before Wrath of Air totem. 438 haste equates to roughly 13% which means Chain Heal right now is 2.2 seconds to cast for me without the totem, and 2.1 seconds with. This will let me bring it down to 1.9 second cast with only self buffs. Add Heroism / Bloodlust and a Retadin or Critchicken and thats about a second and a half cast time for chain heal, with only the global cooldown to worry about. With Glyphing and a decent amount of spell power you’re going to be hitting 4 people with sizeable heals that much faster.  This set bonus pushes us a bit further up the raid healing totem pole so to speak. 

While I’m here I’d also like to mention our new relic

Shaman T8 Restoration Relic — Increases the base amount healed by your chain heal by 243

Keep that relic in mind as you’re looking at the 4 piece set bonus and it’s just one more notch in the belt for swinging Chain Heals. 

Overall I’m pretty pleased with the itemization coming in 3.1. 
What do you think?

Till next time, Happy Healing

Lodur

Flame Leviathan Thoughts

Flame Leviathan Thoughts

flame-leviathan

Yeah there’s going to be a buttload of spoilers here. You probably don’t want to read any further than this.

Tuesday afternoon, Blizzard announced the new PTR boss testing schedules for the week. Flame Leviathan (Normal) would be open from 4 PM onwards. But it looks like someone was trigger happy and they decided to pop it open an hour earlier. I happened to be on right as it opened up and sounded the alarm on Twitter, my guild, and in the WoW Insider war room. Alex Ziebert, shadow Priest extraordinaire, was able to join me. Once we filled up, we got the ball rolling.

So what kind of vehicle does a big, badass Dwarf drive around when he’s feeling bloodthirsty?

siege

That’s right. It’s the only vehicle fit for a dwarf. It’s big. It’s got rams. And it’s got guns. I let someone else drive while I manned the guns on top. After talking to Bronzebeard, we started the event and the Alliance 1st Armored division rolled out of the garage. The division consisted of two tanks, two demolishers and two choppers (bikes). The two siege engines lead the way absorbing the brunt of the Iron army. Demo’s formed up on the rear and attacked at range while choppers were cleaning up anything else that got behind the siege engines.

1st Armored decided to start off with gunnery training. Most of us had no idea what to do so it made sense to start firing on anything that moved and any structures that were destructible. We literally rolled over the opposition with little difficulty.

WoWScrnShot_030309_152037
WoWScrnShot_030309_152240

Click on pictures to enlarge

I found the gun controls were quite stiff to move. It’s like the engineers forgot to add WD-40 to the damn turrets or something. If you’ve ever done Wintergrasp, the controls for aiming are quite easy. You hold down your right mouse button to aim the direction of the camera and the targeting reticle changes direction accordingly. But it’s different in Ulduar. I found that it wasn’t as fluid nor as smooth.

After clearing out the towers, one of the recon choppers noted what looked like a repair pad on the side. We gathered up and repaired our vehicles to full health. Up ahead there was a gate flanked by two Ulduar Colossi.

WoWScrnShot_030309_152927 
WoWScrnShot_030309_152001

Up: Repair pad
Down: Ulduar Colossus

The Colossus is pretty damn large. But the larger they are, the harder they fall. They more really slow, too. I told my driver to switch with me because I had a hunch the vehicle would have a larger vehicle pool. Blizzard did say vehicles would scale with gear. Sure enough, my tank jumped from ~750k health to ~810k.

Matticus was in the hot seat now.

WoWScrnShot_030309_153816
WoWScrnShot_030309_161105

Left: Matt tries to take on the Flame Leviathan to no avail
Right: Matt flooring it after realizing the above the strategy is not working

“Matt! Run! Hit the gas!”
”WTF do you think I’m doing?! Twiddling my thumbs?!”

We didn’t last much longer after that. But I found it a lot of fun. And it is absolutely nothing like Malygos phase 3. Players who have an aversion to vehicle encounters should definitely give this a try at least. And if they hate it, they’ll hate it. But at least try it with a clean slate. Worse comes to worse, if you don’t like driving or shooting, you can be one of the brave souls willing to be thrown on to the top of the Flame Leviathan.

WoWScrnShot_030309_164623

Pretty neat bug where a demo has grappled another demo. There’s still some quirks to be resolved. Towards the end, Alex grappled me onto his demo. I was unfortunately stuck and had no idea how to eject myself. I don’t think I was loaded into the launching arm.

Our best attempt was around 35% before our live raids forced us to cancel out.

Ignis is going to be available for testing today. Try to be on about an hour earlier to avoid the queues that is going to be prevalent. I’ll be in there at around 3 to see if I can scramble some players.

For Flame Leviathan strategy, try checking out Stratfu.

Matt’s Hodir Impressions

Matt’s Hodir Impressions

hodir

First, check out this awesome video by Siha. Some great teaser footage regarding the Hodir encounter. You can see me around the 22 second mark. I’m running away to the bottom right corner of the screen. Great choice of music, to boot!

To all the players who said Blizzard didn’t know how to create challenging content.

You guys are in for a treat.

At around 3 PM Pacific, it was announced that Hodir would soon be available for testing. In fact, he would be open at 4 PM. That left me an hour to scramble the players necessary to give it a shot. I knew there was no way I’d be able to field a full 25 man raid group. Conquest managed to bring in 6 players to jump in. I posted on Twitter looking for volunteers. No avail. I checked my GMail for online contacts. Apathy was free. Quick glance on AIM? Siha was free. After 90 minutes of struggling with UIs, server crashes and the like, we were one of the first groups that were able to zone in. The entire zone is quite breath taking. Check out some of the shots I sent into WoW Insider.

WoWScrnShot_022609_171253 After my making my way through most of the instance where we pass through the exterior lightning charged towers (where the Flame Leviathan is, no doubt) we enter a door that takes us into another part of the area. It looks like we hit the inner sanctum. The main chamber branches off into a multitude of rooms which takes your party to different bosses. Naxxramas has four wings. Ulduar has many different wings. I was’t able to get a count. But I think there were at least 5 or so hallways that led out. We managed to find Hodir with little difficulty in a circular cavern.

And we were joined by Daelo! Poor guy! He’s the lead encounter designer for Blizzard. General chat exploded the moment he announced his presence. People were asking him to unstuck them from various areas inside the instance. It got to the point where he had to bring in his alter ego (Daelotwo) to help with the unsticking process.

omgdaelo

What you’ll find is a large, oversized blue Dwarf-like individual. He’s got four NPCs encased in ice in front of him. Looks like they are integral to the encounter somehow. Our Death Knight tank starts the dancing process of kiting him around. We kind of deduced there was a Keristraza like ability where players had to keep moving. Siha and I were the only healers. We danced around. She covered the main tank (our Death Knight) while I tried to handle the rest of the raid.

 

 

For the past several years, we have all been conditions to aim the camera toward the floor. Illidari Council especially taught us to get out of fires. Blizzard has thrown us a curveball. This time, the raid need only look up. If you see snow, look out below as a chunk of ice is going to fall from the sky!

We barely lasted 2 minutes. But oh my was it such a blast!

WoWScrnShot_022609_171939I have to say something on a side note. It’s an exhilarating feeling to come to a new boss for the first time with zero idea of the boss does. It’s interesting in the fact that as players one of the first things we have to do is figure out what abilities and attacks the boss uses. Once we iron that out, we isolate what we can do or what the environment around us can do to help counteract boss abilities. I’ve never really been at the forefront of progression before. Literally. Bosses in the past have been done with explanations from other players or strategy guides or videos. For the first time, everyone is more or less on an even keel because no one knows what the heck is going on. There’s a huge rush after the fact where everyone chimes in trying to deduce what just killed them. Then theres a myriad of suggestions on how to go about preventing or adjusting for it. We don’t actually know what works. I mean testing raid content is like a big giant algeba problem: It’s literally guess and check.

As far as healing goes, we didn’t last long enough to get a good handle on healing. This instance feels like Zul’Aman: Reloaded (in terms of relative difficulty from Karazhan up).

Notes and observations

4 frozen NPCs in the middle of the room. Of the 4, you can break up to 2 on Normal and all 4 on Heroic. They assist the raid and hand out buffs.

Breaking out the Moonkin offers a haste buff to the raid (Unsure if its spell haste, haste, or both types of haste). You currently have to stand on the circle of light in order to use it.

On Normal, Hodir has 10 million health. On Heroic, around 30 million.

His attacks are melee and frost based.

Frost novas are dispelable. I believe they are cleansable as well. Hooray for magic effects.

This encounter is inspired by Keristraza in the sense that players have to move around to reset the damaging frost aura. It starts off at 200 initially and then continues to double to 400, then 800, then 1600 and so forth.

After the initial 45 seconds, Hodir does an ability called Flash Freeze. It’s a 9 second cast capable of nuking everyone in the room regardless of line of sight. It is possible to fully resist it. If it connects, you get encased in a chunk of ice for 5 minutes. The only other way out is to get busted out by DPS. Don’t forget that when you’re frozen, the aura is still on you.

Frozen Blows: Physical damage reduced by 70% but attacks deal 17750 additional Frost damage.

Special thanks

I’d like to extend a hearty thanks to the brave players who were willing to wipe with me.

Eridan – WTB more soulshards *grin*
Siha – Being online at the right time. Probably would not have gone in without her healing presence.
Wukki – Helping me with the notes and boss observations (and doing some research on her own)
Apathy Inc – I forgot your blog address again
Superkathoid – For offering her services as DPS even though I was already full on DPS :(

I plan on leading another team back in there tomorrow (Friday) at around 3 PM PST. We’re setup on Broxigar. Iron Council is scheduled for 4 PM PST. If you’re interested, I’ll on the PTR around then to get my present guild organized. I’ll most likely need an extra set of hands. You’ll recognize me on my character (Matticus).

If you’re interested, follow me on Twitter. Or else bookmark my Posterous (or subscribe). I’ll be updating my Posterous more often with screenshots and a live braindump of everything going on.

In hindsight, I shouldn’tve formed the group the PvE server. Way too many people.