4 Strategies Later, HM Zon’ozz Down

4 Strategies Later, HM Zon’ozz Down

Progression stonewaller Zon’ozz has been taken down at least. Feels like the Sindragosa of this tier.

We tried using individual soakers with no luck.

Having one large group standing on Zon’ozz’s butt didn’t work.

We tried splitting into a ranged and melee group and actively removed debuffs. Nope, no dice.

Then we just rolled down our sleeves and brute force healed phase 1 without worrying about running out or dispelling. Amazingly, that did the trick.

Conquest’s next efforts will be focused on heroic Blackthorn on the gunship. We’ll be taking shots on it tonight and raid boss Logan has the strategies all laid out. Fun part’s going to be ensuring all the players have gone through it.

Any individual tips or pointers are appreciated (if you have any). We do have a few approaches in mind but we’ll be making our first shots today.

Phase 2 healing

When the raid splits into four different groups to handle the tentacles, there tends to be one healer assigned to each group to keep them all alive. DPS players have to do their part in shutting down and interrupting tentacles as best as they can. Your job as a healer is to keep them alive long enough to do it.

As a Holy Priest, I switched from Chakra: Sanctuary to Chakra: Serenity. I valued the instant, single target healing over the raid healing benefits. It felt as if some players were taking more damage than others. With everyone in the raid taking constant damage, I lit off Binding Heals targeting two different players and activating Serendipity for a hasted Prayer of Healing on the group. If one players got too low, I leaned heavily on Serenity to give me the buffer I needed to propel their health back up to manageable levels.

Ran out of steam

After we got Zon’ozz down, I felt this incredible burden just lift off my shoulders. I’m sure everyone in the raid felt the same thing. At this stage, I had to tag out and attend to some personal business. I felt the next few bosses were on farm and that there shouldnt’ve been much difficulty in getting by.

Nope, I was wrong. The crew had a hard time getting by Hagara.

Looked like the raid that night hit it’s peak against Zon’ozz and most of the players just ran out of energy.

I remember reading a study once where the idea of patience and willpower is finite. There were two groups of participants in a room that had chocolate cookies and other type of desserts. Some participants were allowed to snag some cookies. The people who were in the willpower test group were asked to eat radishes instead. After that, both groups were given a skill testing puzzle.

The catch? The puzzle couldn’t be solved. Those in the radish group gave up much quicker and easier than those in the chocolate cookies group.

I wonder if there’s a relationship.

More Like This: Vodka vs Method Speedrun

More Like This: Vodka vs Method Speedrun

Forget arenas.

Forget rated BGs.

Give me competitive PvE raiding!

Vodka and Method, 2 of the world’s best guilds, going heads up in the Dragon Soul challenge hosted by Athene for charity. Last time we saw something like this was back during BlizzCon 2011 when Vodka and Blood Legion went at it live with some of their members on a stage in front of thousands of people.  When I watched those two guilds go at it during BlizzCon, the announcers and the overall event was really exciting to watch. Blizzard had some cool camera tools at their disposal and the plays were called by Ghostcrawler and Daelo. Blood Legion took that one after Vodka succumbed to heroic Ragnaros at the end.

If one wanted to devise story lines, there are a few things. The question on everyone’s minds is can Vodka avenge their loss and come back in the latest raid tier? A more subtle angle is the battle between regions: One of North America’s finest guilds vs Europe’s best. No faction questions here since both raid teams are Alliance (although I did find it interesting that Method was planning the switch to Horde).

Vodka

Between Method and Vodka, my money was on Vodka for winning out this one. They have the experience in an environment like this coming out of BlizzCon when they took on Blood Legion. Their strategies for time trials involve a high risk/high reward approach. They deliberately underheal (bring in less healers) in favour of additional DPS. In long run, this strategy pays off with faster kills as long as their raid doesn’t get overwhelmed.

Method

I honestly had no idea what to expect from Method. They’re one of the top guilds in Europe, but without much of an idea of their raid comps or seeing how they plan, I’m not sure what impressions to had. I figured they’d had their own set system and would stick to playing their style of raiding that’s gotten them this far. Nothing super complicated or anything.

Thoughts

Spoilers below. But if you don’t care, go ahead and read on:

  • Nice approach on Mor’chuk with the tanking positions. Most guilds usually tackle the two bosses side by side but with the advent of the timer, both guilds changed the position so that one boss was at the top of the ramp and the other was on the bottom.
  • The wipe on Zon’ozz slowed Vodka down significantly. I cringed but they’ll go on to recover quite well.
  • Both guilds kicking the lore aspects of the instance since it slows them both down (Vodka, especially).
  • Madness of Deathwing: Ouch to Vodka for losing a healer in a weird fashion with the platform jumps. That darn bug.
  • Athene and Kina: Would have loved more commentary throughout the stream on more aspects of the raid encounters as well as additional insight in what’s going on in the different mentalities of the guild as they go from boss to boss.

PvE power rankings

Guild Region Record
Blood Legion NA 1-0*
Method EU 1-0
Vodka NA 0-2

* I ranked Blood Legion as higher on the tie break since they defeated Vodka at BlizzCon live in front of thousands of screaming people.

Here we have the first ever PvE power rankings.

I personally believe that Vodka’s the better guild in the last engagement. The calculated risks they have taken have a potentially higher payoff and there were times where they came really close to clutching out and winning. But all those tiny mistakes and the assorted wipe does add up thwarting Vodka from getting their first win.

Another way to spice it up is adding an Iron man challenge of sorts. Finishing out an instance with the least amount of overall deaths. Wouldn’t just be enough to race the other team, but have to add that extra element of perfection.

To add a little diversity to future events, I wonder how feasible it is to revive some of the “older” raids. On a special server, adjust and inflate the stats of the older raid bosses so that they can remain challenging for the maximum player level.

The concept of a PvE raiding league has some merit. If it were up to me to start it, I’d set up an invitational 16 guild league (8 NA and 8 EU). it would take place over 8 weeks and then lead to playoffs. Each week would have it’s own instance/bosses of the week. Maybe week 1 would be tier 11. Week 2 would then be Firelands. Week 3 would be back to Black Temple. Week 4 could be Ulduar. Great way to recycle the older instances if it their stats could be made. Or the alternative is to lower the stats of the raiders so that they’re at level with the content.

But overall, I’m really impressed. Props to Athene, Kina, Vodka, Method and everyone else involved for an excellent event.

The Day Ultraxion Fell (Heroic)

The Day Ultraxion Fell (Heroic)

Took us about two weeks and around 7 hours of attempts. Managed to crush Ultraxion last night just before the expected nerf that kicks in today. Some of the pointers I can offer you:

  • We used 4 healers
  • Use your 3 minute cooldowns at some point between the first and second hour. You’ll want it up again around the 5 minute mark.
  • Tank 4 piece bonuses are a godsend. Finish those as quick as you can.
  • Respec and glyph specifically for the encounter. Cut out talents you don’t need (like movement speed bonuses).
  • Get in position for the coloured crystals early so you can run back earlier.
  • Use Mana potions instead of Concentration potions if you find you don’t have the 8 seconds to spare.
  • If a healer is using a Hymn of Hope, have another priest counter with Divine Hymn to offset their 8 seconds of inactivity.
  • Put the team on your back and carry them like you’ve never carried before. :)
  • Sadly, no VODs of this encounter yet. Largely because I didn’t want to compromise my computer’s performance during the raid. Will try to get one this week though.

    Crappy part of killing a new boss? Having to update every single recruiting thread and forum across all the different sites you have ads up on.

    Oh, and if you’re reading this in an email or an RSS reader, I changed the look of the blog. Keeps many of the same colours but I’m aiming for a simpler approach.

    I also changed my permalink structure. So if you’ve linked to any of the posts on the blog, chances are it’s not going to work. Just modify the URL so that it removes the date from the slug (For example, worldofmatticus.com/03/26/12/post-name is now worldofmatticus.com/post-name).

    Forgot how exhausting this process can be. But, time to raid!

Heroic Morchok Down: Where Next?

Heroic Morchok Down: Where Next?

Managed to score Heroic Morchok on Tuesday. Ended up using 6 healers. Another classic 22% wipe, then a 16% wipe, then a 13% followed by an 8% then a kill. Actually, the numbers aren’t precise. But that’s what it seemed like anyway.

How to Land 3 Healing Spells in Under 2 Seconds

It seems impossible, doesn’t it?

Note that I didn’t quite say I would cast 3 spells only that I would land them. You have to be precise when it comes to timing and you need to be ready to pounce on the next spell the moment the other one is finished.

We were working on heroic Morchok for a total of 6 – 8 hours (over 4 weeks, with raid hours lost due to a healer shortage). Our longest attempt was just under 6 minutes. Most of the wipes occurred between 2 – 3 minutes. The trickiest part for me was maintaining tank health right after a stomp. A common occurrence I noticed is that after Kohcrom stomped, he would attack the tank around 2 seconds later. If I timed it right, I could land a Flash Heal and a quick Holy Word: Serenity. But sometimes that wasn’t enough. I needed another way because those two spells just weren’t consistent enough. Sometimes the tank lived, sometimes he died. I wanted a better (and consistent) way in keeping that tank alive.

It all revolved around the Stomp.

After a few wipes, I realized the consistency of his melee swing following the stomp. I didn’t want to focus exclusively on the tank to the detriment of the group. But at the same time, if the tank dropped it was game over.

Timers from DBM gave me a 5 second count down on approximately when the stomp would land.

I ended up watching the animation of the stomp. The moment the foot start rising up, I’d target the tank and hit Prayer of Healing ensuring it would land just after Stomp connected with the group. This gave me time for a quick Flash Heal (Or Binding Heal) followed up with Serenity (or a Circle of Healing if the tank was sufficiently high enough.

Credits to

Lodur for gemming all strength reforging to Mastery giving him the ability to really stabilize players and allowing me to spike them back  up.

The DPS warriors on my side who picked up on the fact that when I frantically called their name, it meant I wanted a Rallying Cry (and giving us that buffer after a fumbled heal).

Logan of the LeetSauced podcast (and soon-to-be host of the Matticast) for remaining calm, collected and patient after enduring hours of frustrating incidents beyond his control.

Tanks with 4 piece bonuses. Seriously. More bonuses like this in the future.

Old Spice. I smelled awesome that raid.

Now what?

What’s the next hard mode boss that you went to after Morchok (25 man as I understand 10 man has different priorities)?

Hagara?

Ping pong guy?

Ooze boss?

Seems like we’re going to take a hard look at Hagara. Pointers?

Orbit-uary Post Mortem

Well, the crew and I managed to spend a solid 150 minutes on handling four towers tonight. It was nothing more than a simple continuation of last week’s three tower attempts (but slightly longer).

Yeah it’s been nerfed slightly. But on the raid kill satisfaction scale, I’d probably set it at 7.5 out of 10. It felt good though, for sure.

This is the third hard mode/meta achievement related boss we’ve accomplished since we killed Yogg. Last week, we managed to take down Heartbreaker on Heroic which allowed us to leapfrog ahead of several guilds. Good for top 20 on an extremely competitive PvE progression server (WoW Progress ranks the server as 7th in the US).

The Strategy

We utilized this strategy detailed on Tankspot. This involved having 2 launch teams consisting of 3 players each. It was practiced extensively on the week before with only 3 towers up. Last night was when we’d put it to the test. Despite having a slightly different launch team, overall I was really happy with the outcome. I think we only suffered a handful of deaths at the end but we managed to get the kill all the same. Working on flawlessness can come later.

The main hurdles that we had to focus on is coordination. Specifically:

  • Fire launch team
  • Retrieve launch team
  • Load second launch team
  • Fire second launch team

It took us around four successful shutdowns before we took him out. A great thing to do before the encounter is to spend a minute or two seeding the entire area with Pyrite. Blast those suckers down as they come in.

Anyways, the main problem we had for the majority of the evening was retrieving our launch teams intact. Our bikes had difficulty pinpointing where they were on the ground and which demolisher to bring the teams back to.

After a variety of tactics, assists were automatically handed out to everyone. This allowed them to mark themselves.

The launching demolishers were assigned three marks. The launch teams were also assigned three marks. Every time a player was launched, they would designate themselves.

Let’s say we had a Demolisher launching Bruno and Broseph. The Demolisher would be marked with a star. If Bruno was about to be launched, he’d tag him self with a square when he landed. This way, he can coordinate with the chopper that picks him up (square to star). Just as Bruno is about to be delivered, Broseph who is manning the guns on the Demolisher would then load himself in allowing Bruno to jump into the gunnery position of the Demo. Once Broseph gets launched, he’d tag himself with the square.

The other launch teams did the same thing and the overall efficiency increased. Sometimes it’s difficult to pinpoint Gnomes on the ground. That’s when the lucky charms come in handy. A script and macro that Amava figured out helped immensely. Try these:

Here is the macro that all the Launch Team members need for FL.

/script SetRaidTarget("target", n)

Where "target" is a toon name in quotes, and n is:
1. Yellow 4-point Star
2. Orange Circle
3. Purple Diamond
4. Green Triangle
5. White Crescent Moon
6. Blue Square
7. Red "X" Cross
8. White Skull

example:

 

/script SetRaidTarget("Matticus", 8)

This will put a skull on Matt’s head.

All in all, a fairly fun encounter. Excellent work by all the players involved and those that were here for previous attempts but could not make it.

The Hard Mode Thrill

The post you’re about to read is from the past. I wrote this post on Saturday hours after we had taken down Deconstructor on hard mode. It’s the 10 player version.

Going in there, I figured that this was a boss well within the crosshairs of what our guild was capable of doing.

The adrenaline rush and feeling the entire raid got was immense. It’s been a long time since I had a feeling like that wash over me. I could tell it was the same thing for the others in the group. The challenge, the wipes, and all the little things added up and resulted in a big giant virtual fist pump when we took him down.

Some of these hard modes really transform the fight into a whole new level. The complexity, the demands and requirements transcend everything. Sometimes I think to myself what would have happened if I was in an organization that was way more involved then what Conquest is now. I’d imagine one of the requirements would be doing everything on hard mode first before dialing back. Could you imagine? I tried Thorim on hard mode a few times. It made me appreciate just how much simpler and stress free the easy mode was.

If you’re looking for a pre-nerf Hyjal, Black Temple, or Sunwell type of experience, give hard mode a shot. They do drop Badges of Conquest after all.

That feeling can be replicated on 10 mans. I found it similar to hitting the Zul’Aman bear timer.

Expect a post sometime later this week with a tactical break down of how Syd, myself, and the rest of the raid handled the walking bunch of bolts.

An early teaser

Quick notes though for those of you wanting to get some attempts on him.

  • 1 tank
  • Doable with 2 healers
  • Position at the front of the stairs not to the sides
  • No bots to worry about at all
  • Priority on life sparks that spawn
  • Designate positions for players to run to with gravity well (they spawn void zones)
Two Ways to Approach Ulduar’s Hard Modes

Two Ways to Approach Ulduar’s Hard Modes

While patrolling the Plus Heal forums earlier, I ran into this thread. In it, the original poster laments the reduced healer requirement in order to achieve Ulduar’s hard modes. And why not? Let’s take a quick look at some of Ulduar’s heroic hard modes.

  • Hodir – 32.5 million health, 2 minutes. 270834 DPS required
  • Thorim – Running the gauntlet in 3 minutes after the snake and the ads are eliminated
  • Deconstructor – Bringing the heart from full health to zero in 20 seconds

The DPS requirements for the average raid is simply inconceivable. Honestly, there’s just no way to whip out DPS of that magnitude. The only way to even come close to doing that is to sit healers and tanks and go with the bare bones minimum.

Now let’s stop and think about this for a second. Take a deep breath. More importantly, let’s take a step back.

Hard mode is hard

When Ulduar came out, Blizzard released it with the intention of offering multiple variations of different encounters. The strategy here is to cater towards as many players as possible. The more dedicated raiders could feel good about themselves going after hard modes and earning the higher level of loot. Players that wanted to take it a little easier could take on the bosses in their base form.

Everyone wins.

Hard mode is designed to separate guilds and spread them even further in what I like to call the progression gap. The higher you are on the curve, the better stuff you get and you can scale your guild’s difficulty accordingly. Not every guild is capable of doing hard mode for whatever reason. It’s not meant to be easy. It’s not meant for every guild.

When making the decision to jump to hard mode, there are two possible methods to go at it.

Method 1: High octane DPS right now

seinfeldCurrent DPS output for everyone has a limit: Your guild’s gear. In order to increase DPS, you either switch out tanks or healers and replace them with DPS. Every player added is another 4000-7000 DPS depending on the class.

You saw Hodir’s requirements above.

A little over 270000 DPS.

Obviously the risk here is that you lose raid stability. As in, the lower the amount of healers the higher the risk of not being able to stabilize and recover.

The tradeoff is that you have a chance at accomplishing hard mode right now.

Method 2: High octane DPS later

You continue to work on Ulduar and upgrade your raid’s gear as much as possible.

Even on the test realms when Hard Modes were enabled, Ursula McWeaksauce had to dispense the Shirt of Uber. It’s an increase in the overall raid’s stats by 8% and ratings by 130 assuming we’re decked in full Naxx gear.

For example, the raid DPS output of 4 healers, 20 DPS, and 1 tank right now could be the same as 6 healers, 18 DPS, and 1 tank 8 weeks later.

You don’t have to stack raids with with DPS unless you fully intend to do hard modes right now. You can farm easy mode Ulduar for a few weeks and gear out the players accordingly to raise the overall gear contribution gradually from your players.

To finalize

Jerry Seinfeld ran into a similar problem. In his words:

I was in the drug store the other day trying to get a cold medication…

Not easy. There’s an entire wall of products you need. You stand there going, Well, this one is quick acting but this is long lasting… Which is more important, the present or the future?

How fitting.

In order to meet the requirements for hard mode, you can either raise the quantity of DPS or raise the quality of DPS. Either way, your raid group will reach that minimal floor that hard mode demands. All this does now is determine when your guild can do hard modes.

Do it now with a stacked configuration.

Do it later with the same configuration.

The choice is yours.