Thok: Turning Panic into Reflex

Thok: Turning Panic into Reflex

We killed Thok.

Damn, that was a rough encounter. I had a feeling this week was going to be a good week. We set a guild record for day 1 kills by clearing from Immerseus to (and including) Malkorok on day 1. Fast forward to day 2, and Spoils ended up being Spoils that took a little longer than I expected due to some confusion on cooldown usage. In the end, we managed to get it down just after the first hour of the night.

And now, the Thok Block.

We haven’t squared off against an actual progression encounter with an appropriate group composition in months. In fact, our last progression kill on Spoils was mid-February! The past three months was spent recruiting, re-gearing, and re-training players. Even then, we had a few players from Open Raid in the group who had came in for us on Tuesday to help us out last night. This was arguably one of the strongest rosters we fielded in a long time. I’ll admit, it did pain me that I was unable to get everyone from the guild to participate on the attempts and the kill. It sucks when you have to rely on people outside in order to get the job done but for composition reasons, it had to happen. We ended up having to field 7 healers on this one (4 Priests, 1 Resto Druid, 2 Resto Shaman).

Something my raid likes to do when it gets to a completely new boss is panic. This is doubly true when you’re staring down a really large dinosaur. As the leader, my job is to try to settle them down and remind them to get back to their routes. Stop overthinking things. Simply react. In this case, I recognized that the troublesome part was the kite path. We’ve reviewed it several times during learning attempts. Despite that, my players were still losing their cool. Sometimes the dinosaur went the wrong way. Sometimes they’d panic and run one direction before doing a 180 and dashing down in the other. Deep down inside, I was freaking out too.

The best way to battle nervousness is simply more training and discipline.

We kept telling our players two things:

  1. Visualize your route.
  2. Think of your escape plan in case a rabid dinosaur or yeti comes charging down the middle.

No one wants to be the guy that completely derails a solid attempt. I wanted to turn kiting into a reflex. I wanted to “program” their reactions. For example, if Thok targets me second, I would run to the rear corner where the fire guy is. If Thok targets me fourth, I take the portal all the way down the hallway. I had to keep drilling it in attempt after attempt until it was firmly locked in their minds.

The actual cooldown planning stages took much longer. But we were spoiled due to the number of Priests and other available cooldowns. We were able to stretch the stacks to 24 before transitioning out to the kite phases. Our raid leader called the individual stack numbers, the rest of the team hit their cooldowns which corresponded to their assigned stack number. I need to look into an addon for this instead of a spreadsheet.

Our first attempt we took him above 50%. Second, below 50%. Third, below 20%. Fourth was at 4%. Last one resulted in the kill.

Siegecrafter Blackfuse is next. Anyone have any pointers? The hunters appear to be reluctant to do the whole disengage on to platforms thing.

We’re looking for healers to help us finish out Siege and going into Warlords of Draenor. Check us out!

Heroic Garalon Killed: What a Buggy Encounter

Heroic Garalon Killed: What a Buggy Encounter

After two and a half weeks, we finally scored a kill against Garalon. Every encounter after the first six progression hard modes is an exercise in patience and grinding. Our first (and only) Spirit Kings kill was a huge sigh of relief. By comparison, the Garalon kill was falling out of the chair from exhaustion. During the pulls pulls where everyone gets a good look at the new mechanics, people play a little more cautious. Everyone’s testing the boundaries of what they’re capable of. They’re experimenting with their specs and retuning themselves specifically for that fight.

But once people start getting the hang of it, it gradually gets easier. Once the strategy is ironed out and the team is exposed to the rest of the phases, it’s a mammoth of a DPS and healing check.

Our kill on heroic Garalon mirrored our kill on normal. I swear Garalon was mid-air just before the enraged Crush was about to connect. Healers were busy throwing as much DPS as they could in the final seconds. All the pulls earlier on in the night were all over the place. It’s easy to tell when players are losing focus.

They trip into the crush-zone.

They’re sloppy on Pheromone passes.

They get caught by the cleave.

Chalk it up to nerves. Maybe they’re gripping the mouse too hard. Who knows? Everyone deals with anxiety and pressure differently. Garalon’s pretty damn nerve wracking as it is.

All the strategies that are used on normal still apply. Keep the DoT classes working on the legs while the ranged players focus down the torso. Melee players will be jumping from leg to leg. We like to open the fight with Heroism but it’s not uncommon for it to be used in the final sub 33% phase.

  • We opened our Pheromone kite order with 2 tanks, then all the ranged DPS, then all the healers. You might want to pick a melee player two as the final backups in case your kiters suffer casualties along the chain.
  • Players that are next on the kite order should be in position when the current kiter has anywhere from 6 – 9 stacks as you’ll be passing around 13.
  • Given the option, it’s okay to get rid of the Pheromone before a crush even if your stack isn’t near 13. I had to hand mind off at around 10. Had I waited to pass it after the crush, my stacks would have reached 15.
  • The kiters near the stairs should leave a few gaps in Pheremone puddles as they drop them. This gives more path options for the kiters further on down the assignment chain.
  • Crush is no longer coupled to Pheromone passing. Have a raid-wide defensive cooldown planned for each Crush.
  • Healers should spike low health individuals in the few seconds leading up to a Crush so that they don’t take lethal.

Healing Priests

  • Spirit Shell gives you an edge. With two, it’s possible to alternate that on Crushes.
  • Atonement DPS on legs (especially within the blue circles) is a major plus.
  • Echo of Light is also amazing.

As a Shadow Priest, I feel like I’m the worst DPS class on this fight. Maybe it’s just me. Nothing like seeing myself in 16th place consistently.

The next boss for us is heroic Lei Shi. Right now, our biggest hurdle is consistently handling the Protectors as they spawn at the 20% intervals. They seem to ace and crush our healers quickly. How did your group  handle them?

Which MoP Heroics Should you Run?

Which MoP Heroics Should you Run?

The heroics at level 90 won’t be as punishing as the initial heroics for Cataclysm or Burning Crusade. In fact, they’re designed to be the rough equivilent of normal mode instances right now in Cataclysm.

Now if you’re anything like me, you’re looking for the fastest way to ready your character for raiding. The first option is to power up your professions or buy crafted gear. Second would be to grind out as much reputations with the various factions and purchase rewards that way. The last tried and true method would be to run heroics.

For us priests, Gate of the Setting Sun has potentially 7 drops that you can use. Some of the items may not have spirit, but you can reforge into it as necessary. Siege of Niu Zao Temple has 6 items that will provide any upgrades over quest greens and blues.

Shaman healers will want to try their luck in Scholomance and Temple of the Jade Serpent. The temple has 7 items (although 1 of them has a really low drop rate as it’s an epic weapon) whereas Scholomance has 6.

Pickings for druid and monk healers are slim. Temple of the Jade Serpent has the most leather drops followed by Siege of Niuzao and Shado-Pan Monastary.

Paladin healing plate just seems to be all over the place. Avoid Scarlet Halls and Temple of the Jade Serpent if you’re looking for purely plate armor drops. Stormstout Brewery’s your best bet if you’re looking to get the most chances on gear.

Each dungeon has a notable quest or two attached to it. While they’re not the greatest rewards, it’s a good way to replace that marginal green item you’ve been using since level 87.

Below I’ve compiled and organized a list with relevant healing gear drops from heroics. It’s divided up by armor and item type. Enjoy!

T = Trinket
W = Weapon
R = Ring
O = Off-hand
C = Cloak
N = Neck

Gate of the Setting Sun

 

Cloth Leather Mail Plate Other
Saboteur Kip’tilak Fallout-Filtering Hood
Striker Ga’dok Bomber’s Precision Gloves Airstream Treads
Commander Ri’mok Leggings of the Frenzy R: Viscous Ring
Raigonn 1: Frenzyswarm Bracers
2: Shoulders of Engulfing Winds
Swarmbringer Chestguard W: Carapace Breaker
O: Shield of the Protectorate

 

Quest: That’s a Big Bug!
Reward: Cloak of Collective Thought

 

Mogu’shan Palace

 

Cloth Leather Mail Plate Other
Trial of the King Hurricane Belt
Gekkan Hexxer’s Lethargic Gloves Glinktrok Sollerets C: Cloak of Cleansing Flame
Xin the Weaponmaster 1: Regal Silk Shoulderpads
2: Soulbinder Treads
Mind’s Eye Breastplate W: Firescribe Dagger
N: Mindcapture Pendant

 

Quest: A New Lesson for the Master
Reward (All 430): Watchful Dreamer’s Trousers, Dreamer’s Vigil Leggings, Leggings of Clever Entrapment, Legplates of the Scattered Tribes,

Quest: Relic of the Four Kings
Reward (All 430): Cuffs of the Endless Shadow, Bindings of Impeccable Strategy, Armbands of the Reawakened, Lost Heritage Bracers, Bracers of Inner Knowledge

 

Scarlet Halls

 

Cloth Leather Mail Plate Other
Houndmaster Braun R: Beastbinder Ring
Armsmaster Harlan
Flameweaver Koegler Vellum-Ripper Gloves Bradbury’s Entropic Legguards W: Melted Hypnotic Blade
R: Vithrak, Gaze of the Deadman
N: Temperature-Sensing Necklace

Scarlet Monastary

 

Cloth Leather Mail Plate Other
Thalnos the Soulrender Forgotten Bloodmage Mantle
Brother Korloff
High Inquisitor Whitemane 1: Leggings of Hallowed Fire
2: Whitemane’s Embroidered Chapeau
Incarnadine Scarlet Spaulders Crown of Holy Flame W: Greatstaff of Righteousness
R: Triune Signet

Scholomance

 

Cloth Leather Mail Plate Other
Instructor Chillheart Shadow Puppet Bracers
Jandice Barov O: Metanoia Shield
Rattlegore Rattling Gloves W: Necromantic Wand
Lilian Voss Leggings of Unleashed Anguish Shivbreaker Vest
Darkmaster Gandling Gloves of Explosive Pain Shoulderguards of Painful Lessons T: Price of Progress

 

Quest: An End to the Suffering
Rewards (All 440): Patchwork Flesh Armor, Coldforge Carapace, Ghoulskin Vestments, Darkmaster’s Spare Robe

Shadow-Pan Monastary

 

Cloth Leather Mail Plate Other
Gu Cloudstrike Star Summoned Bracers Leggings of the Charging Soul
Master Snowdrift Quivering Heart Girdle
Sha of Violence Gloves of Enraged Slaughter N: Necklace of Disorientation
Taran Zhu Robes of Fevered Dreams Darkbinder Leggings Blastwalker Footguards Mindbender Plate Gloves R: Ring of Malice

Siege of Niuzao Temple

 

Cloth Leather Mail Plate Other
Vizier Jin’bak Hood of Viridian Residue Girdle of Soothing Detonation
Commander Vo’jak Bombardment Bracers Chestwrap of Arcing Flame
General Pa’valak Breezebinder Handwraps Siegeworn Bracers T: Vial of Ichorous Blood
Wing Leader Ner’onok 1: Breezeswept Hood
2: Whisperwind Spaulders
1: Belt of Totemic Binding
2: Airbender Sandals
W: Gustwalker Staff

 

Quest: Take Down the Wing Leader
Reward: Hardened Resin Pendant (Neck) or Mantid Eye Amulet (Neck)

 

Stormstout Brewery

 

Cloth Leather Mail Plate Other
Ook-Ook Bracers of Displaced Air Barreldodger Boots T: Empty Fruit Barrel
Hoptallus C: Cloak of Hidden Flasks
O: Bottle of Potent Potables
Yan-Zhu the Uncasked Fermenting Belt Uncasked Chestguard Sudsy Legplates R: Alemental Seal

Temple of the Jade Serpent

 

Cloth Leather Mail Plate Other
Wise Mari Treads of Corrupted Water Waterburst Helm
Lorewalker Stonestep Leggings of Whispered Dreams Sunheart Waistband
Liu Flameheart Flameheart Sandals C: Cape of Entanglement
Sha of Doubt Paralyzing Gloves Chestguard of Despair Neverdare Shoulders W: Je’lyu, Spirit of the Serpent
N: Mindbreaker Pendant
W: Staff of Trembling Will
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.

Introducing Mattivision: Heroic Hagara



Heroic Hagara 25 man, Holy Priest PoV

Past kill videos I’ve recorded for the guild involved epic music. Since I upgraded my internet connection with faster upstream, I now have the ability to stream and record. I’ll be streaming my guild’s progressing through heroic Dragon Soul on a raid nightly basis. Something I’ve always want to do was offer more insight on healing from a microscopic perspective. Sites like Learn2Raid and WoWhead offer great information on what your raid needs to do. What I want to do here is focus more on the player and how one could handle the different challenges that occur against bosses. So as a test run, I recorded a VOD of our raid group against heroic Hagara. I tried to commentate and narrate what was going on and what my train of thought was at the time.

Anyway, take a look and let me know what you think.

You can tune in Monday, Tuesdays, and Thursday nights just before 6 PM PST to my Own3d page. Will be streaming it later tonight. Heroic Morchok goodness! Also if you want to join in, there’s a little chat button when the stream is live in the middle there. I’ll try to respond to any questions, but no promises.

And yeah, I need to make some adjustments to the sound. I lowered game sound to 20% and dropped Mumble chatter to about 25%. Nothing I can do about the keyboard pounding though. Love my Black Widow. Wish I could get a muffler for it or something.

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?

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

Thespius’s State of the Dungeon/Raid

There’s been a lot of great conversation about how things are tuned in regards to Cataclysm Heroics and Raids (meaning normal Raids, I haven’t seen Hardmodes yet). This is starting to dip into the usual “Casual vs. Hardcore” debate, which I think is not what this entire argument is about. This game has made leaps and bounds toward making the game challenging for all. There are definite challenges for the people at the edge of blistering progression as well as for the family man/woman that can only log on once/twice a week, if that. I’d like everyone to take a look at a few different things, including adapting to change, the nature of challenge within the game, and the mindset of the “average” WoW player.

Know Where You’re Going, Know Where You’ve Been

Vanilla WoW – I was never a Vanilla WoW player. I understand that there was a very clear delineation between the casual player (questing and alts) and the hardcore player (40-man guild raiding). It’s very daunting to play a game when you know you have no chance of getting into any of the endgame content, stocked full of lore and goodies. This definitely took things too far in segregating the community. Casual players wanted to see the content, and Hardcore players loved feeling entitled to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, the Holy Grail of the game.

Burning CrusadeThis is where I stepped into the ring. I started as a very casual player, barely being able to throw a Karazhan run together with friends. It was ridiculously hard to climb up the progression ladder to see higher content, but it was doable. Sadly, I had to leave some friends behind because of it. Guilds operated as “stepping stones” to the next level. There existed the “KZ” guilds, the Gruul/Magtheridon guilds, the “SSC/TK” guilds, and the “BT/Sunwell” guilds, meaning the highest those guilds could accomplish. With the release of Zul’Aman, we now had harder 10-man content that my ~9 friends and I could hammer through. Granted, I was single and working as an actor at the time, so I had lots of extra time to play. That would definitely change soon. Still, not being able to see Illidan really sucked.

Wrath of the Lich King – Ahh, the release of 10- and 25-man raiding, but things got easy REALLY quick. So much so that I found multiple PuG 25-man ICC Hardmode Runs. Hardmodes were supposed to be the culmination of progression, really only reserved for the highest of raiders. I was fine with that. I wanted to give them a shot but didn’t have any grand visions of getting my HM Lich King kill. The gameplay was such that mechanics could be avoided. Phrases like “just heal through it” were peppered in boss explanations. DPS started to complain if they had to stop their rotation, tanks screamed at healers if they couldn’t/wouldn’t heal through a mechanic that wasn’t being interacted with properly. Entire mechanics were being glazed over, and the general WoW community got lazy (that’s right, I said it). Although PuG raiders were in Hardmodes, they really didn’t know what to do, and had forgotten entire pieces of their class/spec. Mages decursing? Druids CCing? Hunters trapping? Unheard of!! The bonus part: people got to see the content. My opinion, it became trivial too quickly.

Cataclysm – 10-man and 25-man raiding becomes equalized as much as it can be. 25’s only slightly hold the advantage of being the “truer form of raiding”. Blizzard realized that people were completely ignoring fight mechanics and made them less forgiving (if you let Dragha’s Invocation of Flame get to its target, you’re dead). Justice/Valor Points from your Daily Heroic are no longer things you’re “entitled to”. They must be earned and fought for. With changes to healing and fight mechanics, players are forced to actually look at their spellbooks once again (any Dwarves looking at Stoneform again?). Encounters now begin to feel like a group effort, rather than 5 individuals who wish they could just solo the content so they don’t have to be around other people. Raids feel more daunting for most of the player base, and guilds are back to trying to beef up their own team rather than PuG’ing from Trade Chat. It takes longer to gear up, but the gear is obtainable. Epic gear is actually epic again! Even without running Heroics, it’s possible to get 346 gear for your character. People don’t want to PuG, thus forcing the player base to look for guilds of people they get along with.

I look at all of these as good things. With my guild being called “Team Sport”, it’s no wonder that I long for a gaming world where it feels more team-oriented and not so individually cut throat. If I had the time to run things more, I’m sure I would be geared to the teeth at this point, but I’m not. It’s taking me a little while, but that’s always giving me something to strive for. A trinket I need from Archaeology, or the rep from Baradin’s Wardens, all of which give me something to shoot for that takes time and dedication. I don’t expect it to come easy.

Challenge Yourself

Ever work out? Ever have that great feeling when you finally get your jogging route under your target time? What about finally getting able to lift some weights heavier than the 5-lb ones you’d find in an aerobic class? It’s a good feeling, isn’t it? It’s a high, a rush of endorphins. Did it come easy? Probably not.

Think of any hobby the same way. If you start out knitting, don’t expect yourself to whip out a complicated Afghan in a day. You start out with ‘easy’, and when you’ve mastered ‘easy’, you move to the next level. Look at model building, sports, or anything you do for fun. You can’t expect to be the best at it before you even pick it up. Just about any hobby is worth putting the work in, because without the work the payoff isn’t as good.

Now look at dungeons and raids. If you can face-roll Heroic Stonecore, then that one piece of gear that drops off of Ozruk doesn’t mean as much. You don’t value it the same way you would if you had to work as a team to get it done. That piece you now wear has a story behind it. Working hard to defeat that Heroic Ozruk has brought you close to your gear, and to the 4 other people that help you beat him.

When you find yourself in a group that is struggling with a Heroic Dungeon, ask yourself if you’re using everything in your power to make it go smoothly. Do you have some ability that would make the rest of the team’s job easier? Maybe you can step out of your normal role to help someone that’s struggling. I’ve seen Hunters that have issue frost-trapping a mob. My DK friend Aaron loves to Death Grip that mob back to the frost trap. It’s something that in WotLK a DK wasn’t expected to do, but Aaron does it because it helps the group. Is it easy to do? No, but it’s certainly not back-breaking. However, it’s more rewarding when we down bosses after thinking outside the box. It becomes an accomplishment to finish the encounter, rather than the accomplishment being the addition of a few Justice/Valor Points to your pool. That should be the reward for the accomplishment, not the accomplishment itself. Again, you value the prize more when you worked for it.

The Average WoW Player

A lot of complaints have come from the community (especially on the Official Forums) about the quality of the average LFD group. Rogues get instantly kicked for “not having reliable CC”, a Tank gets kicked for “one pull going awry”. I’ve been kicked from a group as a Resto Shaman simply for suggesting CC be used in Grim Batol. The quote: “Only bads use CC.” The forums are cluttered with threads such as these, and it makes it a really bleak outlook.

As stated above, we come from a Wrath mentality. The population both surged and got lazy in the last expansion. Mass pulling and AOE fests were more plentiful than senseless slander in American politics. Now we’re changing in Cataclysm, and change doesn’t come easy to most. It’s difficult for people to adapt to having to do more to get the same results.

Look at Trade Chat. Outside of gold and profession spammers, Trade Chat is pretty gross. I rarely am ever in it. Same goes for the official forums. Those that are the most unhappy or feel “scammed” talk the loudest. Anyone trying to be a voice of reason is usually shouted down, and good productive discussions are few and far between. This is no different than the LFD situation. There are a lot of people in that system that are bitter, jaded, and hate change. Rather than encouraging a nurturing environment, they’ll curse up a storm and belittle everyone else around them.

Where are all the nice players? They run with their guild, or have a friends list of people they’ve found that value a fun environment over the prospect of running a “boot camp dungeon”. They are out there, I promise. You just have to be patient and look.

I know the 45-minute queues are unbearable. It’s how I built up my Resto set–by queuing as Enhancement. It’s a total roll of the dice, and you may completely bottom out with your luck if you queue alone. Lodur posted a great article about being a teacher within the LFD. Strongly recommend checking it out, as it may give you a glimmer of hope.

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

If you’re one of the people who feels like you’ve been wronged by Blizzard, I ask you this: What is it you really want out of this game?

  • “I want to be able to log in, get my badges/epics, and log off.” I’m sorry, but those days are gone. People very quickly were behaving like drones. Those players in the game looked at dungeons and badges as “tasks” or “chores”, instead of events and rewards for those events.
  • “I want to see the lore and the content.” The normal dungeons provide all the same lore that the Heroics do, as far as I know. Heroic Deadmines and Heroic Shadowfang Keep offer their own lore but aren’t really in line with the Deathwing plot line. They’re great little side stories. As for raids, think of the storyline as Mt. Everest. I would love to see the top one day, however, I know that it will take work and dedication to get there. I don’t expect to just stroll up to the top.
  • “I want it to go faster! It takes too long!” You lose the journey this way. The struggle. Anything worth getting is worth the fight. Take Lord of the Rings for example. If Frodo just flew over the mountain and dropped the ring in from the start, it’d be a short movie, and not very gratifying.

If you want to find enjoyment in the game with people that are like-minded, you have to work for it. Blizzard stated before this expansion that they wanted to encourage more group- and community-oriented game play. It’s time for us as players to adjust to this shift in ideology.

Perhaps you’re in a guild that doesn’t really offer itself up to run dungeons with you. Maybe the group you’ve found yourself in isn’t really supportive when it comes to learning your class mechanics. Everyone starts somewhere, right? To me, both situations mean it’s time to start looking to surround yourself with people you share a mindset with. That’s what this particular MMO is built around, and that’s how Blizzard wants it. If you want to be solo and do your own thing, it’s going to be tougher and cause you more headaches. Start looking for a guild of people that you actually get along with. There are guilds out there that can get through the content and not belittle their members along the way. Whatever your schedule is, whatever your goals are, I promise there is a guild out there for you.

Focus on the journey and the challenge, rather than whining that you can’t have it all right here and right now.

I’m Thespius, and I approve this message.

Boss Explanations: A Lesson from Twitter

No lie, I’m a twitter enthusiast. I didn’t realize how much of an influence its had on me until I started taking over boss explanations to PuGs in heroic groups. I know healing PuGs isn’t for everyone, but I don’t mind it (much).

Now you see, I’m a pretty efficient guy. In fact, some would even argue I’m impatient. I’ll try to do two things at once if I can get away with it. I plan my travel routes thinking of the fastest way to get somewhere. When I get on the sky train, I choose the car and door closest to the exit at the station I want to get off at. My friends despise it when I move so quickly. But I just really don’t like wasting time. If there is something that needs to be done, then let’s go and get it over with.

In heroics especially, I get a little tired when another player in the group is explaining what abilities are there and what players need to do to counteract it. They leave nothing out at all.

Me, I’m different.

The Twitter Rule

If you need to explain it in more than 140 characters, they’re not going to get it

I’ve started challenging myself to really think about the player and the role that they are. Is it really necessary for a healer to know when they need to interrupt? Does the tank need to know about this random add that gets crushed by DPS players anyway? Ergo, in PuGs, I’ve tried to condense and compact the information into stuff that’s relevant to them.

Don’t use 7 words when 3 will work (Good rule to follow for you new bloggers).

For this to really work though, players need to have certain schemas in place. A schema is basically a concept that lets you understand information in your own way.

Examples of Schemas

  • Void zone: Some dark circle on the ground that’s bad.
  • Cleave: Some attack that destroys all melee.
  • Tail swipe: Stand anywhere else but on the butt of the boss.

I’ve found the results to be promising. Most players I’ve come across seem to instantly just “get it” without the need for further explanation unless it’s a completely new concept for them.

Anraphet (Halls of Origination): Spread out. Stay out of voids. Stack up on Omega Stance. Massive DPS.

Rom’ogg Bone Crusher (Blackrock Caverns): DPS chains. Run away when chains are dead. Watch for ads, AoE as you go.

Drahga Shadowburner (Grim Batol): Burn down fire elemental. Watch where dragon is facing, run through to avoid breath. Avoid big puddle.

General Husam (Lost City of the Tol’vir): Avoid yellow orbs. Stand out of dust on the ground (Shockwave).

High Priestess Azil (Stonecore): Avoid void zones. Kite ads into void zones. Watch for dust on the ground (she throws rocks). Interrupt Force Grip.

Asaad (Vortex Pinnacle): Keep jumping. Spread out. Stack up when he draws lightning on the ground.

Vanessa Vancleef (Deadmines): Avoid fire, ice. Nuke 1st then 2nd boss. Avoid spinning things, nuke 3rd boss. Kill worgen, nuke boss. Kill ads before Vanessa. Use ropes.

Okay, I think went over by 6 characters with Vanessa. Hopefully, my point stands. The reality is that not many players read the full quest text. Like it or not, they read the objectives. By condensing explanations, players unfamiliar to encounters might get a better handle on them.

For obvious reasons, you don’t want to use this approach when it comes to raid bosses. Although, now I’m curious to see if it is possible to condense each role duties to 140 characters or less for raid bosses.

Challenge laid.