Kingslayers? That’s Unpossible!

Kingslayers? That’s Unpossible!

I was originally going to regal you with the wild tales of my misadventures through the LFD tool, but instead I am consumed by a  need to share my overwhelming pride.

Tuesday June 8th at near 10:20pm est, Unpossible downed The Lich King in 25 player mode. Normally I wouldn’t bother posting something like this as I don’t want to be seen as a braggart, but I am proud of my guild for sticking to it and getting this done. Over the last few months we’ve been combating burnout, illness, freak weather and buggy encounters. It seems to always be the way, we make incredible progress and then Murphy rears his ugly head and we get stymied by random occurrences.

I will say this was one of the more exhilarating kills we’ve had. Wed the week prior we broke early to attempt to buy Blizzcon tickets as a guild, we decided it would be nice to let everyone enjoy the weekend and focus on getting to the convention. On Monday we dove back into ICC and went hell for broke for The Lich King. As we were handling defiles and valks something just clicked. Vent got quiet and everyone was moving in unison. These are what I like to call moments of raiding clarity. This is where everyone is doing everything perfect and the boss abilities are right on time. It is almost like participating in a choreographed dance. It was just as if suddenly everyone got the fight. We made great progress and were consistently pushing into phase 3. Midnight bells tolled and we called it a night, but before we did officers agreed with spirits so high and considering the progress we made that we needed to extend the lockout, get the same raid group in ICC and take the bastard down. Who needed more shards? Badges? Pfft! A dead Lich King is all we wanted. And when the announcement went out over ventrillo you could hear people becoming excited.

So when Tuesday came, we headed in and on our first pull that same magic was there. pushed into phase 3, and we wiped because we weren’t expecting to get there on the first pull. So we head back in our confidences high, and pull again. This time his health gets even lower, we wipe to something stupid, but spirits are still high. We go again and again, each time chipping away at that total health. After a 10 minute break around 10 we come back in, buff up and pull. We get to phase 3, everyone alive and we’re going strong. We’re kiting the spirits, and moving from defiles with expert reflexes, I get picked as the second person to go into Frostmourne and I heal the shit out of Terenas Menethil, I get dumped back to reality and we keep going. His health is dropping lower and lower. The other resto shaman gets picked for Harvest Soul, something unknown happens and he dies. LK enrages and everyone gets tense. Our main tank Woe pops his cooldowns as healers bridged the gap to him and the big heals started raining in. Suddenly he gets smacked hard and goes down. LK is at 14% with a few key people down (healers and high dps) everyone sighs, a wipe is almost called but instead Woe calls out for our OT Theonius to grab the LK fast. He charges over, grabs him, healers switch targets immediately and everyone unloads. Remaining healers go all out balls-to-the-wall with every cooldown and bit of mana they have to throw behind healing. LK at 12%, vent gets quiet again except for the calls from the raid leaders giving terse directions “heal x, move right” LK at 10.5%. Everyone is holding their breath and then you hear the call “Take this bitch down!” LK 10%, he wipes the raid and everyone cheers on vent, a reminder is sent out not to release and we all are whooping and hollering at the top of our lungs. Our mass res comes and we pop yet another heroism for good measure and unload, our achievements pop up and at that moment I could actually hear all remaining tension and burnout leave. A burden lifted from everyone’s shoulders and fresh energy flowing into the raiders.

An early end to a raiding night, and week, but one well deserved. So as of Tuesday we finally start our hard modes. There is palpable excitement as everyone is getting ready and anticipation is high. After all the random things that have gone wrong along the way, I can honestly say this was one well deserved kill for Unpossible. I’d like to thank each and everyone of my guild-mates, officers and everyone in between for continuing to work so hard and to persevere though so much. We’ve been around for a long time, and we have no intention on stopping! We have our eye on you Deathwing, and we must break you!

We all have our obstacles in game. Raid attendance, pushing the DPS envelope, getting that computer to stop dropping you from raid, getting the last shot in to topple that boss at 1% or even overcoming personal and health related issues to play a game you enjoy with people you call friends. Everyone’s journey is different, but when you get to your goal there is no sweeter victory.

With that in mind I’d also like to make a shout-out to Spellbrood. We heard that you have a lot on your plate and we here at World of Matticus want to wish you well in your journeys. Remember, no obstacle is too great when you have good friends to help share the burdens and the good times!

So that’s it for this today, hope you guys enjoyed my little story there, I know my heart started pounding again as I began to recall the events.

Also, Unpossible is hiring! We’re looking for geared and intelligent DPS looking for a fun but dedicated raiding home. Sorry folks we are full up on Death Knights and Priests, but everyone else is welcome to apply. If you’re interested stop by here and take a look at our application process!

What is missing from the Arthas fight?

What is missing from the Arthas fight?

First before I begin I would like to say congrats to Matticus on his 10 man Arthas kill!

Now onto the matter at hand. My guild is plugging away at the Lich King 25 man encounter, our 10 man team is just about to take him down as well. There is a certain sense of accomplishment when you get to the end of not only the content, but let’s be honest in this case the entire point of the expansion! This entire expansion has geared us up for this fight. Egging us on, pushing us to greater heights and taunting us at every turn. The Lich King has been found in so many quests, instances and cinematic events it is impossible to not want to kill him.

When Trial of the Crusader was released, I’ll be honest I was not impressed. In fact I down right hated ToC. I’m an old school raider, I like instances with trash and having to work at getting TO the boss. I mean in every book I’ve read the hero and the villain don’t just run into each other randomly and just go to town. The hero normally goes through various trials and or henchman before they get to the big bad. In James Bond movies, he has to go through the henchman before making his way to the final bad guy for the show down. To me that is what trash is in an instance, it is a warm up but it’s also story fodder. These are the creatures the various bosses thought good enough to guard them from US. So when I walked into ICC for the first time you can bet I was over-joyed at the amount of trash that lay before us. One of my fondest memories as of late was when we were first heading into the Plagueworks, I was flying solo leading the raid that night and we were coming up on Stinky and Precious. I didn’t warn the raid about them at all, instead as we pulled I laughed maniacally at the frantic screams of “HOLY SHIT WHAT THE HELL IS GLUTH DOING HERE?” as the raid wiped. Everyone laughed about it afterward  and I felt happy that there was trash that was actually DANGEROUS if you weren’t prepared.

My guild has fought our way through all the bosses up to Arthas and there is a sense of accomplishment there. The fight itself is amazing fun, if for no other reason than because there is so much going on. So, why then am I feeling slightly ripped off with this fight?

Arthas is one of those lore characters that has shaped this game. Warcraft 3 was a game I played to death and out of it what I got was the setup for World of Warcraft. It was heart-wrenching when Arthas slew his father and you saw the darkness in complete control, it was epic when Illidan and Arthas fought. The story, even though it was an RTS, was colorful and rewarding.

So last night Unpossible was working on Arthas and I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong with the fight, that something was missing. After the raid I thought back to burning crusade and Black Temple. The Illidan fight felt epic. The scene opened up with Akama going to face Illidan and speak his peace, followed by him running off to hold off reinforcements and give the group time to deal with Illidan. Partway through the fight, a fed up Warden Maiev Shadowsong bursts in to help try and take down the demon prince. He had wronged her so much that she had to have her revenge. In short the fight felt epic. It felt like great payoff to all the work of getting there. I attribute this to a well designed encounter, but a lot of that had to do with NPC interaction.

When you reach Arthas there is a small back and forth between the fallen prince of Lordaeron and Tirion Fordring. To be honest the back and forth is a little weak, and Tirion is one of those characters I could do without. I mean, of all the people Arthas has pissed-off and messed with over the years they picked Tirion to be the one to confront him. I mean I guess I expected him to be there from the beginning, after all he is the bearer of Ashbringer, but I expected someone faction specific to be there along side him as well. I know Jaina and Sylvanas made an appearance in the 5 mans, but this is the big show, the big payoff. Personally I expected them to be there, or rather someone who Arthas has wronged on a deep personal level to be there.

Before you say anything yes I know the history of what happened between Arthas and Tirion and the subsequent exile. My point though is as fun as the fight is (it IS an amazingly designed encounter), it just doesn’t feel as epic as I think it should.

We have airships right? After we’ve taken down the Frost wing, why not have the ship fly up to assault Arthas only to have him blow it out of the sky? How about King Varian Wrynn or Thrall gets to deliver the epic speech debasing Arthas and spurring us to victory. Instead we get Tirion running forward, and getting hunter trapped.

I still love the encounter don’t get me wrong. I love the fact that there are a thousand things you have to watch for and so many ways you can die. I like having fights that have consequence and Defile is the greatest thing EVER created (no sarcasm on that). I guess in the end I just wish there was a little more NPC interaction at the end to help lend the cinematic / literary climactic feel that the encounter truly deserves.

What do you think about the encounter?

So with that I bid you all a good day, hopefully next week I’ll be writing you as King Slayer Lodur. Until next time, Happy healing and may all your heals be swift and your mana plentiful!

[VIDEO] Healing Valithria Dreamwalker

My first foray into video editing! I managed to compile the footage and stitch together some audio as well. There are enough boss strategy videos out there that explain what the overall raid needs to be doing on different encounters. My focus here was to target the individual who was healing. I’m not the perfect, top-tier Priest so you’ll catch a glimpse of several misplays throughout the video that I’ve made. All the while, I’ll be narrating the things I’m doing and why I did them. Therefore, it is assumed that viewers know the mechanics of the encounter.

You can tell by listening to the first several seconds that I’m extremely nervous and it took a few retakes when I was recording before I managed to calm my nerves.

The narrations will sound different periodically because I was experimenting with different amplification levels and microphone distances. Initially, I started writing down what I wanted to say at different points and then just recording it into Adobe Audition before importing them back into Movie Maker. About halfway through, I just gave up and recorded the rest of it in one shot on the fly without any serious scripting at all. We used to play a game in drama class that involved doing a bit of improv so I figured I could wing the rest of it. It’s the same thing during any sort of in-class skits, right? Get the rough outline and improvise the rest of it on the fly.

The various voices you’ll hear throughout the video is chatter from vent. I decided to leave them in there largely because I haven’t figured out how to strip them. Also, it’s there as a glimpse into the way my raids operate.

Next video is on Sindragosa which I hope will be infinitely better.

Things I need to improve on

Problem: Expanding into high-def or widescreen at least
Solution: No idea yet

Problem: It’d nice if I could freeze frame for a few seconds
Solution: Software issue? I’m using Movie Maker, but I’m going to see if I can grab an educational copy of Vegas from school at some point

Problem: Zooming in and drawing football-style X’s and O’s
Solution: Ditto the above

Problem: Too tense and nervous
Solution: Two beers

Your thoughts? Again, this is my first video so be nice. Once I get better and more polished, I’ll put subsequent ones on the WoW dot Com Youtube channel. I didn’t feel that this one was particularly up to snuff yet. But, I wanted to at least get my feet wet.

Software: Adobe Audition, Movie Maker, Fraps.

Are Easier Heroics Better in the Long Run?

Are Easier Heroics Better in the Long Run?

Image Courtesy of Geico Insurance

The patch 3.3.2 includes a few amendments to Heroic Dungeons and how they’re played.  Entire packs of mobs are being deleted.  Bosses abilities are being shortened or being made less frequent.  Fight mechanics are being made easier.  In essence, Blizzard is giving us more opportunities to blow through these dungeons with little to no effort.

I’m an educator at heart.  Seeing as though my life “endgame” is to be at the front of a classroom, it’s important to me that people learn the skills necessary to go through life.  How to write a proper business letter, how to analyze a novel or article, or how to put your thoughts in order and present them in a proper argument.

How does this translate into WoW?  Teaching players how to follow a kill order, how to manage small and large cooldowns, or how to CC a mob.  Remember some of the cardinal rules of this game that we’ve all learned?

  • If the ground changes, get out of it. Pretty standard stuff, except for rare circumstances
  • If the boss starts spinning with his huge weapon, move away from it.
  • If a really annoying mob is causing havoc, CC it. If possible, avoid DoT’ing it.

We learn these the hard way.  And, we have to utilize and execute what we’ve learned in the current content.  Ground changes?  Sounds like Rotface’s ooze pools on the ground.  Spinning mobs?  Marrowgar.  The need to CC a mob?  The mind controls in Lady Deathwhisper.

“You are not prepared!”

With the level of difficulty amongst the endgame content, more and more groups are getting frustrated with the lack of skill within the community of 80s.  I equate this to meeting people in the real world that don’t demonstrate even a sliver of mastery of their native language (slang and colloquialisms are fun choices but shouldn’t be your foundation).  How do you get through school without being able to speak or write properly?  How do you get to start raiding without having a knowledge of the fundementals?

Take Ahn’kahet (AKA “Old Kingdom”) for example.  Jedoga Shadowseeker is the boss that floats in the air, summoning an add to sacrifice.  If she succeeds, she hits a temporary enrage.  I remember wiping to that when people first started doing heroics.  The tank had to manage a cooldown; the healer was spamming big heals. This fight demonstrated the need for DPS to turn up the heat to down the add.  Even I as a healer would Smite/Lightning Bolt the add.

Now, it seems that Madame Shadowseeker only does this once.  Does this just mean everyone blows all their cooldowns (Shield Wall, Survival Instincts, Frenzied Regeneration, etc) to endure her short enrage and then they’re done?  The key to earning respect as a player with me is demonstrate a finesse of your skills, not be all RAWR OMG WTFBBQ DPSPWNAGE!!  You can be great player and still utilize all of your classes abilities efficiently.

“Time is of the essence!”

As these Heroics are being made easier and easier, that means people will be blowing through them faster and faster.  Making the value of the gear that people are getting lower and lower.  Follow this math:

Average of 4 badges (+ 2 from random) = 6 badges per run.

Clearing an instance in 15 minutes means 24 emblems an hour.

A whole set of T9 costs 210 emblems.

210 emblems / 24 emblems per hour = 8.75 hours.

Even if you play 3 hours/day, you could have full tier 9 in 3 days.

Given that, do I think it’s possible to really have a grasp of how to exist in a raid setting, possibly having an aspect of the fight rest on your shoulders?  I won’t say a flat-out “no”, but I’m hesitant.  I learned how to play my class through dungeons and heroics.  A fight like Rotface or Blood Princes is going to confuse players that haven’t had the ability to build an understanding of their class.

Consider it a slightly less horrifying version of a person who just bought their character on eBay that day.  Regardless if you’re a completely new player, or just levelling an alt, I fear that we’re starting to lose the building blocks to being a good raider to the ease of too much convenience.  (Sidenote: Notice I said “too much”.  I’m all for crafting the game so everyone has a shot, but there is a point when it goes too far.  I don’t want to go back to the days of needing to run alts through Karazhan to begin the gearing process for Black Temple.)

It’s like the economy (I know, a touchy subject).  If you start pumping more gear into the game faster, it devalues what’s already out there.  I guess the good thing is that people will be less freaked out by GearScore.  If everyone has a high gear score, more emphasis will need to be placed on player skill.  What good is a high GearScore if everyone has it?

“Lazy Sunday!”

“…WAKE UP IN THE LATE AFTERNOON!”  Sorry, a little sidetracked.  I love that skit.

Anyways, with Blizzard making things easier and easier, I fear they’re going too far.  ICC trash is already becoming AOE-able.  People are complaining about there being too much trash (yet, people complained about Trial of the Crusader not having ANY trash and being too boring).  Oculus is getting even bigger rewards.

I don’t want this game to become “just go in and blow stuff up”.  I like the challenge.  I like the dedication.  I like the workout.  I like the strategy.  Do I know how to create a balance with this?  Of course not.  If I did, I would be working for Blizzard.  I just don’t want the laziest crowd in the game to win over the hearts and minds of the game designers.

Now, I enjoy the mechanic of earlier ICC wings getting easier over time, allowing less progressed guilds to see the endgame content, but the latest epidemic of clueless raiders is troublesome to me.  How do you make the game more appealing to everyone, while still teaching those fundemental rules that we’ve all learned over the years?

What do you think?  Do you feel heroics are being made too easy?  How do you promote an understanding of class and basic fight mechanics amongst your raiders?

Rot-Face the Music, People!

Rot-Face the Music, People!

The second wing of Icecrown Citadel has been open for just two lockout periods.  There have been the outcries from all sides:

“It’s too soon!”

“Thank God, it’s finally here!”

“Why can’t we just fight Arthas already?”

But my new personal favorite, has GOT to be:

“Rotface is too hard!”

First, let me go on the record that I’m thankful for fights like these.  I’ve mentioned here before, and also when I’ve guest-hosted on Raid Warning (shameless plug), that I loved bosses back in the BC days.  Fights like Leotheras or Al’ar took coordination, teamwork, and dedication.  I remember the guild I was in never took down Al’ar.  Primarily, we lacked perseverance.  We would spend 3-4 attempts on that bird, and then people would gripe about how hard it was and we’d move onto Loot Reaver, I mean Void Reaver.

My point is that in Wrath, we’ve essentially seen easier bosses in raids.  Yogg was hard, Faction Champions held up a lot of guilds, true.  Aside from examples like those, we haven’t seen any fights in ICC thus far that have resembled the challenging nature of a true raid boss.

Rotface as a challenge?  I welcome it.  I think we, as raiders, get tunnel vision too easily.  Most of the fights have been the following:

  • Switching targets to an add or group of adds
  • Stay out of the stuff on the ground
  • Heal through this bout of incoming damage

Hence, Rotface is a breath of fresh air, even if it’s the leading cause of my healer-rage on any given raid night.  Healers, because of the instances of raid damage, have to step it up.  Any combination of the following mechanics will make for a bad experience:

Mutated infection – [UNAVOIDABLE] The primary mechanic for the fight.  Your choice to cleanse it early, though I wouldn’t recommend it unless your raid is totally on their A-Game.  You have to get on top of this as fast as possible because of the Mortal Strike-styled healing debuff.  When I’m assigned to the mutated peeps, I throw PW:Shield, Prayer of Mending, and a quick Penance to pile on Grace.  It’s better to keep them topped off than just keep them alive.

Slime Spray –  [AVOIDABLE] This is a pain in the butt to deal with if people don’t move out of the way.  At roughly 5k each second, multiple victims make healing rough, especially in the later stages of the fight.  It’s a short cast but on a regular timer, so it’s easy to anticipate.  If you keep your raid clumped behind the boss, a simple run-through to the other side is all that’s needed.  Don’t always assume it’s going to the majority of the raid.  Rotface may target the slime tank/kiter.  I’ve seen attempts almost wipe because people ran right into the spray without thinking.

Ooze Flood – [AVOIDABLE] The standard WoW rule of “Don’t stand in the crap on the ground!”  A lot of raiders claim to be taken by surprise, but I don’t buy it.  Not only do you get an audible warning from Petricide, but you see ooze spouting from the pipes before the flood appears.  At crucial moments of kiting or fleeing the ooze explosion, it’s not impossible to miss these entirely.

Radiating Ooze – [SEMI-AVOIDABLE] The only time anyone should be taking damage from this is the person merging an ooze with the big ooze and possibly the player kiting the ooze.  They’ll take damage from their own smaller ooze, which is less, and then momentarily from the big ooze.  I see too many people run INTO the ooze to try to get it to merge.  In actuality, you just need to get the ooze into the 10 yard radius of the big ooze for it to merge.  Even at that, it’s best to wait until your disease is gone to step into that area.  A near-full ooze will tick for a lot of damage, and a half-heal debuff is horrible to try to work through, let alone the tick from the disease itself.  It’s easy to die to this, even with a lot of healers on you.

Unstable Ooze Explosion – [AVOIDABLE] It’s simple.  It’s like the orbs in Void Reaver, except smaller.  Once the ooze explodes, and not before, you should start running away.  From personal experience, try not to be by the tank when it explodes.  If the tank is caught in about 4-5 of those projectile oozes, he or she is a goner.  Don’t run into ooze puddles, and don’t run near other oozes that are still growing.

—–

I highly recommend that you read and know each of the mechanics that I’ve explained above.  These debuffs and mechanics aren’t just for the healers to heal through but for every raider to avoid.  One or two of them together is manageable, but when you’re consistently not paying attention to the different intricacies of the fight, it just makes my soul hurt.

I know there’s a tendency to just want muscle through some of the fights, but on some of these Icecrown fights, it’s imperative to actually know what you’re being afflicted with.  Your little extra focus can get you through that last 30% that most guilds may be struggling with.

 

Healing Icecrown from a Druid’s Perspective – Part 2

Healing Icecrown from a Druid’s Perspective – Part 2

This is a guest post by Epiphanize, a Resto Druid, and co-host of Raid Warning.

Now that we got all that out of the way, it is time to get down to business. You didn’t really show up just to listen to me go on about glyphs, did you? No, you came to heal your branches off! One quick thing: Be sure to check out the comments in my previous article; there were some good suggestions for alternative point distribution.

Lord Marrowgar

So here we are, Lord Marrowgar, a very interesting challenge for healers. However, it does give Druids a chance to show off their ability to heal on the run. This can be a relatively hectic fight, so regardless of whether you are tank or raid healing, you will need to be tossing HoTs at some points during the fight.

Tank Healing

This is the easier of two roles against Marrowgar.  During his initial phase and all the ones where he is not spinning all over the place, it is essentially a one tank fight. Since the nerf, Marrowgar does quit a bit less melee damage. So the damage your meat shield will be taking will be fairly minimal. This is pretty manageable for Trees, as we can keep the tank pretty well topped off with our HoTs.

One ability you need to be prepared for though is Saber Lash.  Saber Lash is an ability similar to Koralon’s Meteor Fists, in which two tanks will need to stack in order to distribute the damage. Your healing priority will be the Main Tank followed by the Off-Tank after a Saber Lash. As a tree, you have the added benefit of hitting both with Wild Growth before topping off the Main Tank. Other than dodging the occasional slow-motion blue flames, there is not much to deal with during this phase.

Raid Healing

As stated above, this fight can be quite hectic for a raid healer. During the first phase you will have quite a bit to manage. In 10-player, one random player will be Bone Spiked. DPS will be turning to focus on getting the player down as quickly as possible. This presents two things for you as a raid healer. You obviously will need to be focusing on healing the spiked player. I’ve managed to safely keep them up with Rejuvenation and Swiftmend, though this can also be accomplished with a few Nourishes as well. The other thing is people taking Coldflame damage, as they will often be ignoring the flames to get the person off the spike. Again this is usually handled by tossing some Rejuvenations and Wild Growth, saving Swiftmend for anyone who stands in the fire just a bit too long.

The last thing you will be concerned with during the pre-Bone Storm phases is the aforementioned Coldflame. As the raid healer, you will be responsible for topping off anyone who doesn’t get out of the way of the flames quick enough. The damage it does is not too horrible as long as no one just stands there. Its actually more of a nuisance avoiding it yourself, as you will often need to decide between standing their long enough to finish casting a heal, or cutting it short to avoid taking too much damage yourself.

Bone Storm

This phase is pretty similar for Druids regardless of your role. Marrowgar will become untauntable and spin around the room doing relatively minor AOE damage. It is still good to avoid him if possible, as it makes life a bit easier on all the healers. The big thing you will be dealing with is blue flames (of ice?) again. Only this time he drops 4 at a time. This phase is all about survival. Since you will be on the move during this, Druids will be arguably the best healer for this phase. This is where glyphs like Rapid Rejuvenation and Wild Growth start to shine in ICC. Just keep HoTs on everyone and toss Wild Growth on cooldown and you should be fine. Make sure to keep Swiftmend and your NS-HT macro at the ready in case anyone gets into trouble.

One last thing that the Tank Healer needs to consider is the position of the tanks during all chaos. The tanks will be sticking close to Marrowgar during Bone Storm in order to pick him up at the end of the phase. Not only will the tanks be taking a bit extra damage, but you will want to be nearby to keep the Main Tank healed up while everyone gets back to some semblance of order.

Lady Deathwhisper

The next boss in The Citadel is quite a bit easier on the healers than Marrowgar. If your group is good about staying out of Death and Decay and interrupting Frost Bolts, you won’t have to mash the keyboard nearly as much. For Druids, this fight is all about situational awareness and keeping in range of the players taking damage.

Phase 1

The key to Lady Deathwhisper is getting through her first phase. During this phase she will be behind a mana shield that DPS will need to burn through in between dealing with adds that spawn from either side of the room. After that, the fight is pretty much tank and spank. In my experience, this is the fight where you are most likely to only use 2 healers.

The mechanics of the adds are pretty complicated at times, so it is good to familiarize yourself with them. There will be times the tank and raid will be taking increased damage based on these mechanics. There is a lot of movement involved, so there will often be times you will have to drag your stump across the room to toss a heal or two.

There are a few other considerations during this phase. First,  Adherents will place Curse of Torpor on random raid members that increases the cooldown of their abilities, so you will want to make sure you are decursing as often as possible. There will be a bit of randomness from the Death and Decay and Shadow Bolts, so be on the look out. Again, there is going to be some bouncing back and forth because of adds, so communicate with the other healer(s) to make sure you have all your bases covered.

Phase 2

Congratulations, you have made it through the hard part. After her shield is down she becomes tauntable, only has 3 million hit points, and the adds stop spawning. Since this is often 2-healed, you will more than likely be both on raid duty and tank duty. While this phase is pretty much tank and spank, there are some things going on that affect the healers.

The tanks will be swapping as Deathwhisper places a stacking debuff on the tank that reduces their threat. So you will want to keep an ear out for who is tanking her and focus your healing accordingly. She will still be dropping Death and Decay, as well as random frost bolts that should be interrupted. Finally, she will summon on non-targetable Vengeful Shade that will follow a player around and explode if it catches them. You will need to do your best to avoid them if they follow you, and be prepared to heal someone if they get caught (if they don’t get one-shotted).  It’s a pretty quick phase though, and you will be on your way up the elevator in no time.

Gunship Battle

This is a gimmick fight through and through and is a lot of fun. There aren’t really a lot of important mechanics here for healers. Your gunship has two guns that you use to attack the enemy’s gunship.  Occasionally, the opposing ship will summon a mage/sorcerer that will freeze your guns. You will then need to send some raid members over to kill it in order free up your cannons. Back on your own ship, mobs will appear through a portal that will need to be killed, while avoiding incoming rockets and axe-throwers.

Defenders

This is the easier of the two healing roles. Usually one tank and some ranged DPS will stay behind to deal with the enemy boarding party.  The portal will spawn a Sergeant and some Marines. The Sergeant is the only one that really poses any threat, as he has pretty nasty Bladestorm and Wounding Strike abilities. Most of your healing will be focused on the tank, especially if you only have ranged DPS defending. Just be prepared to work a bit extra to overcome the -25% healing debuff.

Two other items of note: First, stay out of shinnies! Rockets will be coming over to your side and the big shiny circle on the ground is an indicator your in the path of said rocket. Be prepared to heal anyone who has yet to learn this golden rule of Warcraft. Second, keep an eye on your boarding party tank. They will be taking damage as they fly back over to your ship, and not every healer is as equipped to heal in the air as us Trees. I have seen quite a few tanks bite it on their way back over as they still have the aggro from the ranged mobs on the enemy ship. A well timed heal from you can be the thing that saves them.

Boarding Party

As the boarding party healer you got the short end of the branch (no, the bad tree jokes will not stop). You will be heading over to the enemy ship with most of the DPS and a Tank to take down the mage/sorcerer while fending off the general and adds. On your way over it will be a good idea to HoT up the tank, as things will be a bit chaotic when you first get over there.

The tank will be keeping the enemy commander busy why DPS take down the mage/sorcerer. Keep an eye out because the longer you are over there the stronger the enemy gets. This will cause everyone to take quite a bit of damage. As mentioned earlier, you will need to keep some heals on the tank as he will take some damage on his way back over. Probably a good idea to leave a Rejuvenation in case you need to toss an emergency Swiftmend on the return flight. Again, a fairly straightforward fight for healers.

Deathbringer Saurfang

Phew, here we are, the final encounter of the entrance to the Citadel. This is probably the most interesting fight so far. A lot of what you need to do as a healer will be determined by your groups strategy, but Druids have a few things to keep in mind both as a tank or raid healer, regardless of how you handle Mark of the Fallen Champion.

Raid Healing

First, you do not have any way to stop the damage people will be taking like priests do. So your main role will be to heal up the damage that does get through. There are three mechanics that will be causing you trouble: Boiling Blood, Blood Nova and Mark of the Fallen Champion.

The first ability, Boiling Blood, will be case on a random raid target. If you have a Priest, they will mitigate a lot of the damage to avoid Saurfang building Blood Power. Its still a good idea, whether you have a Priest or not, to toss Rejuvenation on the Boiling Blood target to keep them topped off. The damage isn’t too bad, and one HoT should be enough to keep them safe.

Blood Nova can be more troublesome depending on how much melee you have. If this gets cast on one, a good amount of people will be taking damage. The player that get Blood Nova should run out of the raid to minimize damage and blood power gain. However, if they don’t get out in time, be prepared to throw out Wild Growth and a couple single target heals.

Finally, there is Mark of the Fallen Champion. How you handle this (if at all) is going to depend on your raid strategy. A lot of guilds, mine included, will just let that player die. This minimizes the buildup of blood power and puts a lot less stress on the healers. If you do decide to keep that person alive you will want to give them full HoTs. Yes, you may have to dust off Lifebloom for this one. I usually put up Rejuvenation and Regrowth, with a Swiftmend if needed.

Tank Healing

There is not nearly as much to deal with as a tank healer. The tanks will be switching when they gain the Rune of Blood debuff, so as per most two tank fights you will need to be paying attention. You will also need to be concerned if a player gets Blood Nova near the tank, which could cause a nasty damage spike. Your final obstacle is at 30%, where Saurfang will Frenzy. This means you need to get your stump in gear and heal faster! Other than that, he is business as usual for a tank healer.

—–

And that’s it! You’ve Stormed the Citadel. Just in time for the Plague Works to open. Thus is the life of a WoW player. In the next installment we will be covering healing Rotface, Festergut, and Putricide, all while avoiding getting any goo on your leaves.

Healing Icecrown From a Druid’s Perspective – Part 1

Healing Icecrown From a Druid’s Perspective – Part 1

 

This is a guest post by Epiphanize, a Resto Druid, and co-host of Raid Warning.

So you’ve just shaken the frost off of your branches and are staring down the entrance to Icecrown Citadel, the final raid of the Wrath of the Lich King expansion.  You and nine of your closest guildies (or 9 random pugs if your unlucky) are ready to face the challenges that await you in your quest to take down Arthas. The first of these will be the bosses of the entrance to the Citadel. Before we get into strategies, let’s discuss a few things you should think about before trotting into The Frozen Throne. There have been some major changes to how Druids approach healing that are worth taking a look at.

Most trees are in the process of making the swap from crit-laden gear to stacking haste (or at least you should be – Bad tree, bad). This, along with the introduction of Glyph of Rapid Rejuvenation, has given us some new and interesting options. The goal of this article is to help you understand the changes to Druid healing and how it affects you prepare to confront the Lich King.

In addition to these changes, 10-mans can leave a lot of uncertainty, and raid composition will often force Druids to fill rolls they may not be best suited for. Your choice of glyphs and spec will depend a lot on role, personal preference, and playstyle. However, there is some general advice you can follow when making these decisions. I’ve done my best to try to gives options for popular playstyles and specs.

I’m Still a Crit Machine

If you are still very early in the process of swapping gear from crit to haste, you are probably using either Nourish or Regrowth as your main spell. Nourish is a slightly better spell in most realistic situations where you aren’t sure you will keep Regrowth’s hot up on at all times (Thats a discussion for another article). However, at this level of raiding, either spell should serve you well regardless of role. So use whatever your little wooden heart desires, just make sure to bring the appropriate glyph.

Next, I would recommend Glyph of Swiftmend. This is especially helpful in situations where you are spot healing the raid or attempting to 2 heal. It allows you to quickly save a DPS that may be taking sudden burst damage, or catch up on a tank you may have neglected for a moment. It is also a nice way to save on some mana. Plus a global cooldown wasted refreshing a HoT can often be the difference between life and temporary, virtual death. If mana is not a concern and you are comfortable relying on some of your other emergency options, you can go with both of the choices for your third glyph.

Your third glyph is really up to personal choice and should be based on your role as well as the encounter. Glyph of Wild Growth is always a safe bet, especially if you are helping raid heal. There are lots of scenarios where the whole raid is taking damage in ICC, and that extra target is a welcome buff. Glyph of Rejuvenation is also good but slightly weaker option, as there won’t be large chunks of time where the tank is under 50%. Thought this can shine in some encounters, especially with the 4 piece tier 9 set bonus. One thing to keep in mind is that the small amount Glyph of Rejuvenation can play in helping catch up, can easily be replaced by a Swiftmend, Nature’s Swiftness/Healing Touch, or even a Regrowth.

When it comes to talent choices with a Crit build, not much has changed since 3.2. Living Seed is a must in my book if you are going to be tank healing, and is also handy when dealing with Saurfang’s Mark of the Fallen Champion. This especially holds true due to Nature’s Bounty increasing the amount of Living Seed procs.

Another option that is good for tank healers, but is especially strong for raid healing, is Revitalize. While not a complete replacement for Replenishment, it is better than the complete lack of a regeneration buff. You should end up with something similar to 11/0/60 (full build here) with either 3 points in Living Seed or Revitalize depending on what tickles your fancy.

Crit Is So Last Month

If you are at or approaching the soft haste cap (856 without Celestial Focus, 735 with) Rejuvenation is now your baby. Blizzard has really made this our new bread and butter spell. With two strong glyphs, 4 piece tier 9, and the last two idols granting you spell power based on rejuvenation ticks, it is clear you should be using Rejuvenation liberally. This being said, Glyph of Rapid Rejuvenation is a must in my opinion. This is obviously slanted towards raid healing, though I’ve seen instances where it has come in handy as a tank healer. It also comes in useful for mechanics like Mark of the Fallen Champion where a glyphed Rejuvenation with 4 piece Tier 9 can often alone keep up the marked target with minimal management. ICC encounters seems to have been tuned to encourage the use of Glyphed Rejuvenation, as there are lots of dots and healing on the move.

If you plan on focusing more on your HoTs, the original Glyph of Rejuvenation is a good companion for the new Rapid Rejuvenation. It will take time for you to get used to how quickly you can heal up someone with this combo. Once your haste gets up there and you get down the timing, this combo is a very powerful option.

Glyph of Nourish is your other option for your second glyph. Some would even argue that Nourish is the main reason to stack haste, not Rapid Rejuvenation, as you will have a 1s cast time on Nourish. This, combined with a reduced global cooldown, should allow you to direct heal your stump off. This is also a perfectly viable options, especially at the 10-man level. I think its safe to leave this decision up to personal preference. 

Of course you could always just use the above three glyphs and have the best of both worlds, which is what I have ultimately done. But if you are indecisive, Swiftmend will save some mana when you need a big direct heal. In the same vein, Wild Growth will give some HoT power to go along with those quick Nourishes. There really is a lot of flexibility here.

There is however, not so much when it comes to spec. For most people, you will be stuck going deep enough into the Balance tree to get Celestial Focus, that you will not have much of a choice but to go 18/0/53. Now as you progress through Icecrown you will be able to move those points out of Balance and back into the more useful Resto talents. Revitalize being a priority in my book due to the amount of Rejuvenation’s you will be tossing around. Where you go from there will depend on how often you decide to use you direct heals. Your build should look more like the crit 11/0/60 build..

 Phew…Who knew when you signed up to heal as a sapling, you’d be in for so much homework? However, as long as Blizzard keeps being bipolar in regards to Druid healing mechanics, you better get used to it. Who knows, maybe if we cut back on the QQ they will give us new Tree Form models before the end of Cataclysm. Well, we can dream can’t we? In the next part of this article we will cover specific strategies for healing the first 4 bosses of Icecrown as a Tree.

The Hyjal / Sunwell Effect

The Hyjal / Sunwell Effect

sunwell

I use PUGs to gauge a lot of player response to content, the new LFG tool has made it that much easier and given me a broader spectrum to poll. A lot of times I’ll bring it up in random banter and ask people what they think of the current content and such. Occasionally I’ll join a PUG raid on my Hunter in an attempt to gear her up outside of the guild’s assistance, but also to see how the pugs are doing on raids and ask questions without “Lodur” around. I’m guessing you’re wondering what this has to do with the “Hyjal / Sunwell” effect, and indeed what is the effect anyways? Well, I’d like to share some recent and past observations with you.

Let me explain to you what the Hyjal / Sunwell effect is.

map_hyjal

Back in BC when end game raiding was all the rage, you had Black Temple, Hyjal and then the culmination of all things raiding for that time Sunwell. Hyjal Summit was an interesting raid instance. You sat in one of two camps and waited for trash waves to come to you. After you were done killing the trash waves a boss would spawn and come for you. The zone had 5 bosses. 4 of those bosses could be broken down into tank and spanks after their various tricks were discovered. Aside from the last boss it was a very easy instance and at the very least on my server, the zone up to the Archimonde fight was easily PUGable and there were many many Hyjal PUGs weekly. I know because I used to go to them on my hunter. So we can assume a level of ease at least for the first 4 bosses, with one boss that was a PITA but still killable.

Then came the Sunwell, and everything changed. People ponied up and the PUGs surged forth expecting to roll over some trash and get some trash drops and maybe even down a boss or two along the way. Then they encountered the first pulls, and it was like watching a charging bull hit a steel wall. Giant arcane powered robot wiped the raid in nothing short of what could be called a spectacular explosion of brightly colored bodies. I heard stories of established raiding guilds having to work hard on some of the trash and in some cases still wiping, let alone hitting the bosses. Trash required solid use of CC and careful maneuvering. The bosses were complex and required coordination in order to succeed. I never saw a PUG get past Kalecgos, and the ones I heard got there, only barely beat trash. That is at least how it was on my server. There were PUG / Farming groups that would go and kill trash, then run out and reset and lather rinse repeat in order to farm gems, gold and trash drops, but those groups required a certain level of gear (and they did check) before they would consider you. And that’s just for trash farming! People pissed and moaned that Sunwell was “soooo hard”, my argument was that Hyjal made people complacent.

WoWScrnShot_092309_232622Enter Wrath of the Lich King. The raiding scene in wrath mirrors pretty well that of BC but builds upon it. Naxxramas became our new Kara. Ulduar provided us deep lore and some decent challenges. and then came ToC (25). Trial of the Crusader offered an easy loot system (the tier available for badges alone), an instance with NO trash only bosses, and to be honest fight mechanics that weren’t terribly difficult. While it did require some coordination, I have seen more PUG groups successfully complete it then any other raid instance. The 4 bosses leading up to the final boss are gimmick fights like Hyjal was, with the final boss being a tank and spank get out of the way healers just heal fight. I’m not saying they aren’t fun, and as much as I hate to admit it Faction Champs is a blast watching my raiders run around like chickens with heads lopped off, but it just mirrors Hyjal a little too much as far as it’s placement in raid progression, content and general feel of the zone.

Now in Wrath we have Ice Crown Citadel. It mirrors Sunwell almost perfectly as well, especially with Chill of the Throne being so very similar to Sunwell Radiance. The fights are markedly harder and the trash is capable of killing a raid. The trash pulls require use of CC like priest shackles and paladin fears / stuns as well as requiring careful positioning of the raid. Random triggers cause giants to spawn that can interrupt spell casting and saber lash a tank into nothing in no time. The bosses while not overly complex, still require a certain amount of raid awareness and coordination and use of abilities such as CC to win. Lady Deathwhisper is a pain when not done right and it requires a lot of coordination to get all the components down pat. Saurfang is a beast of a fight currently and while people have beaten him I have yet to find one strategy that doesn’t call for at least two people to be sacrificed. That says something right there. What amuses me the most is the people who were pugging ToC (25) went rushing headlong into ICC (25) and in most cases hit the trash on the first landing and splatted. On my server I can’t find a PUG for ICC (25) on my Hunter, as a matter of fact she has an easier time finding ToGC (25) pugs. And while the argument can be made that the 10 mans are puggable, I say that while I’ve seen some pugs do ICC (10) the players almost always out-geared the 10 man tuned version. I also hear it from some of my raiders. We’ve been having fun with Saurfang. Random things like moonkin’s pushback randomly not working, Tanks dcing, starting the fight and immediately having 8 raiders get Mark of the Fallen champion. These are things that make new instances fun for me.

But IWoWScrnShot_092309_232622 hear the murmurs in the crowd. I have some raiders in my group that think ICC is too hard, I’ve been in pugs with my hunter that people have done nothing but complain about the difficulty of the new fights. This is what I call the Hyjal / Sunwell effect. ToC gave us a certain level of apathy. Sure Heroic Faction Champs is a hell of a fight, but once you get the basic concepts down for it is it really that hard? ToC spoiled us with easy loot and fast content, and as such continued the cycle of Hyjal / Sunwell. The effect is in the disparity between two level of content on such a level that it is noticeable among the general population. So now I hear people complain that Marrowgar hits too hard, or Saurfang is tuned too high. Personally I love it. I love content that makes me think and re-evaluate my raider assignments. I love actually having to go through trash to get to that boss and fight mechanics that while they may not be new are interesting in the way they are combined and presented. I love going through cut scenes and NPC conversation and hearing the lore behind the raid zone and feeling like I’m in epic content. The difficulty will only go up as each wing and each new boss and it’s mechanics are unveiled, and personally I can’t wait. I’m also excited that the vast majority of my raiders feel the same way and not everyone is suffering from the Hyjal/Sunwell effect.

What about you guys? Have you noticed people complaining about the difficulty? Raiders or PUGs? How do you feel about the new content so far?

Until next time,

Sig

Images courtesy of Matticus, My own screenshots and mmo-champion

How Our Guild is Handling Primordial Saronite

3-3-spills

Primordial Saronite is the item that’s required for the next level of crafting gear out of Icecrown. There’s all sorts of methods of picking up this stuff and our leadership’s been hard at work figuring out what our approach should be. There’s a few things that are high on the priority list.

Shadowmourne, for one, requires over 20 of these. While going for another Legendary isn’t required, it makes a statement about the guild (not one but TWO Legendaries after all).

Our tanks can get an early boost to their gear and not have to rely on random drops from the different bosses. The better those guys get, the easier time we’ll have moving forward.

As we’re packing a number of sharpshooters in the raid (4 hunters), they’re also going to need some heavy artillery. The recipes for bullets and arrows will cost one Primordial Saronite to learn.

There’s lots of different ways we can go about spending Primordial Saronite to maximize raider utility.

Our approach

In a recent thread on the WoW forums, Ghostcrawler was clarifying a question regarding Shadowmourne. At the same time, he wanted to know this:

We’re also interested to see how various groups handle the Primordial Saronite issue. We designed it so there isn’t necessarily a right way to handle the material and we don’t want to over-prescribe your social dynamics anyway.

I found out over the weekend that Blizzard devs do read this blog. Wyn and Lodur kept bugging me and insisting that they did, but I remained a disbeliever until one of their guys pinged me on Twitter about it. That was too cool!

So here’s our answer:

Prioritizing Saronite to the tanks – Our tanks will get first crack at the Primordial Saronite that they need. The better their gear gets earlier on, the easier time we’ll have heading into Icecrown. I think they’re shooting for the boots first, but I can’t be sure of that yet. I’ve created a queue list on the forums where the tanks put down what they need (not necessarily what they want). I’m not sure how the legs are. If they beat the tier legs, then I’ll devote more Saronite to it. Until then, the queue list is just for the tanks and once they have all that is requied, the list will be opened up to the rest of the guild.

Ammo recipes – This is another one for us but it won’t happen until later on. Not only do you need the Saronite, the engineers need the reputation to purchase the recipe. It’s Goblin and Gnomish right? One crafts bullets and the other does arrows? Once our engineers have the requisite reputation, we’ll send one their way as well.

Shadowmourne – The Shadowmourne quest line is fairly extensive. The last step involves taking down Sindragosa which isn’t going to be anytime soon. Not only that, you have to perform a variety of tasks at different bosses (like standing in fires while surviving for a prolonged period of time). This step can wait a little longer before we invest.

On the other hand, there is some speculation that you need to be on the opening quests before you get the Shadowfrost Shards from the bosses. We don’t know how often the drops are and there is no confirmation.

Getting saronite

To that end, we’ve decided to increase the chances we have of obtaining Saronite. Sundays have been opened up for a new alt raid. We’ve been doing this for a while now, but we’ve decided to lay down some ground rules for it.

Why an alt raid?

For one, there’s many players with nothing to do on Sunday nights. We could either jump on our alts and join a pug with a 50-50 shot of succeeding, or organize our own with a higher chance of it working out. We like having multiple geared characters!

Our alts are almost as geared as our mains and it gives us a nice “break” from our normal duties that we have to do on our main characters. It’s nice for me to randomly destroy stuff on my Ret Paladin or my Elemental Shaman.

As I said earlier, extra Primordial Saronite is a plus. We can channel the results of those into the main raid. Not only that, since they’re alts, the players that are comfortable with it can spend their Emblems of Frost that they have to purchase Saronite for their mains if they need to.

Our main raids are overstaffed. We do this in order to ensure that we have enough players to raid. This inevitably means that some players are going to sit out during the week.  I don’t want them to fall too far behind us in gear. So any main raiders that don’t get to come in during the week are able to come in on Sunday in order to use up their lockout period. At the very least, they’ll get some Emblems.

We’re still working out loot systems for the time being. Last Sunday, when we walked into ToC 25, we had 23 alts in total. The other 2 were friends of the guild. The one thing that we’re lacking is another tank for our alt runs. If we can field a full crew for 25, then I can definitely apply loot council rules and prioritize main readers who need loot and balance it with the alts.

If you’re a tank out there with nothing to do on a Sunday night, come and check us out. Of course, anyone who feels that they are exceptional healers and DPS are welcome to apply regardless.

Let’s take down Arthas and move on to Deathwing already!

Handling Icewell Radiance

Props to this guy for coining the term.

Daelo announced earlier in the day the implementation of raid wide buff called Chill of the Throne. What does it do?

The spell, called Chill of the Throne, will allow creatures to ignore 20% of the dodge chance of their melee targets. So if a raid’s main tank had 30% dodge normally, in Icecrown Citadel they will effectively have 10%.

Similar in concept to Sunwell Radiance, the reason it was implemented was to lessen the overall spikiness of incoming tank damage. Spikiness refers to something like a tank taking constant streams of 15k damage here, 14k damage there, and then suddenly plummet after a 44k hit of some sort. Sometimes it was predictable and in other cases it was not. It’s a large and often unpredictable hit that is capable of flooring a player.

I call it the Chuck Norris effect.

For present healers, the current way to deal with this is to use defensive cooldowns in tandem with tanking cooldowns. If tank avoidance isn’t high enough or if cooldowns aren’t used, they can easily get 2 shot in a manner of seconds.

With luck, this will be the last time we’ll ever see a buff like this in the game. Going forward into Cataclysm, the idea is to raise the health pool of tanks. Right now our overall approach to healing is to spam really fast heals, really large heals, or AoE heals depending on the situation.

While tank health pools go up, healing spells will scale up but not as sharply. The ratio of healing done on a tank vs tank health won’t appear to be the same as it is now. Let’s say a Greater Heal can cover 60% of a tank’s health right now. When Cataclysm hits, Greater Heal might only heal for 35% or something. The approach is to make overhealing a real risk to the point where healing spells can’t be spammed just to get through the boss fight.

That’s going to present an interesting change. It feels as if it’s going to be a hybrid between Vanilla-esque healing and TBC-era healing. I daresay those were the two extremes. In Vanilla, you had to rotate out with other healers and regen for a minute before tagging back in. In Burning Crusade, you could get away with Circle of Healing spam. It looks like in Cataclysm, they just might make overhealing mean something again since we can’t spam heals nor can we switch out with other healers to come in for us.