Dear Ruby Sanctum: How Not To Be A Raid Encounter

Dear Ruby Sanctum: How Not To Be A Raid Encounter

Failraid

Last week I talked about what I thought the Ruby Sanctum had to live up to. I reminisced about the encounters that made Wrath’s raiding scene fun for me. Thanks for chipping in with your thoughts too folks – feel free to keep them coming and do the same this week. I’ll never forget my own favourites and if the Ruby Sanctum manages to come close to them then it’s on fire.

… Sorry about that one.

Anyway. This week I’m intrepidly heading back down memory lane to the dark alleys where the worst encounters lurk. The ones that caused me to daydream about throwing the computer out of the window whilst we recovered from yet another wipe. Or the ones that encouraged me to try taping my cat’s paw to the keyboard while I put the kettle on, because we just had to get through the encounter to get to the Fun Stuff ™. Worst of all, the encounters that should be truly inspiring but one design flaw let it – and me – down.

Beware, Ruby Sanctum. Here there be monsters. Quite literally. If you find yourself amongst them you’ve Done It Wrong.

 

5. Faction Champions – Let me make one thing clear: if I want to PvP I’ll go to a battleground or do some arenas. It’s great that they took the Priestess Delrissa fight from TBC a step further. That was chaotic fun. The ‘fun’ part translated badly into a situation involving 10-25 people, many of whom (including myself) are not ardent PvPers with a desire to hone PvP tactics. I’ve found that trying to organise (or be organised for) PvP-style opponent management when the 9-24 people you’re working with are either loyal PvEr’s or PUGers is just a headache. Don’t do it again, Blizz.

4. Lich King – I know I know. It’s the last fight of the expansion, of course it’s special, right? Special isn’t always good. First oversight: the quality of the dialogue between Arthas and Tirion before the fight. It’s frankly shoddy. If I’m being crude, most of it also has homoerotic undertones that I’m sure Blizzard didn’t intend. Go and read it if you don’t believe me. A ‘skip intro’ button as with Deathbringer Saurfang would have been really useful here. And if I’m being picky – might as well be – Arthas’s girth makes me think he’s only really a threat to pies.

But my main problem with this encounter was its mechanics. If you ask for tactics in any Wrath encounter at least one person will say “Don’t stand in the fire”. It is a joke but people say it through pursed lips. They’re tired of it being the basic tactic for most fights. The Lich King encounter is just that: you’ll be fine if you don’t stand in the fire black goo and move at the right times. Sadly, this really makes it the fight designed to finish Wrath off.

3. Sindragosa – I included Sapphiron in my top five last week because when the fight mechanics were fresh when we first edged into his lair. That didn’t mean I wanted a near-identical fight later in the game. Not only are the mechanics a rip-off but the boss looks the same (though has undergone a gender change since we saw him in Naxx). Sindragosa’s fight mechanics do have a different twist to Sapphiron’s. I just resent peddling the wheel like a good guinea pig to get through phases 1 and 2 in order to reach that fun part of the fight which would probably kill my group so I could do it all again. I can’t understand why having players repeat two long phases full of easy mechanics because the fun, difficult and adrenaline-inducing stuff is squeezed into a mad 30 seconds at the end got past – or to – the PTR.

2. Malygos – This encounter has a lot going for it. I quite enjoyed the large blue dragon flying around the room taunting during wipe recovery. I mean, for an arrogant dragon, it sounded believable. The fight mechanics were interesting up to a point – working with sparks provided an extra layer of challenge and the whole of phase 2 was particularly fun given the first character I took to Malygos was a melee DPS.

What? I’ve just praised it to the heavens? But wait, this encounter does deserve to be high on this list. Why? Phase 3. Partly because whilst being dropped on to a dragon looks cool, I don’t appreciate a game effectively saying “right! Quick time event. You need to already know and/or mind-read which dragon abilities to use while moving in 3d space – and we mean moving, ‘cos there are fires to not stand in!” But even that isn’t the real problem. That’d be the lights. There are too many in phase 3. They flash. They move. The pretty colours aren’t pretty so much as neon. I know people who get headaches from them and I’ve been in raids which have wiped shortly after the healer said “arghargh the lights.”

1. Razuvious“Bring the player not the class” was Blizzard’s tagline regarding raiding in WotLK. A raid with any composition of classes can defeat any encounter? Great idea. So why did I often spend hours fishing whilst waiting for my Naxx25 groups to try to find two shadow priests for Insdtructor Razuvious? And then why did many of those groups collapse like a pie on Arthas’ plate after we wiped once on Razuvious? Because the hidden clause was that not just that we need two priests – and until it was hotfixed you need two with +hit gear – but to narrow it down further any group needed two who know how to mindcontrol-juggle-tank. Razuvious was an interesting fight mechanic spoiled by a deviation from Wrath’s goals, which would have just been more fun for everyone if any class could have stepped up to the orb in 10 and 25 man.

So providing the Ruby Sanctum doesn’t force us to PvP under a disco ball as a raid composed of 10 paladins – after a dodgy scene we’ll cringe at fifty times – it should be fine. Bring on the fire.

What do you think – what are your very worst memories of any WoW encounters, and why?

This is an article by Mimetir, an owl (and resto shaman) of a raid leader on The Venture Co. (EU) You can find my twitter feed here.

Dragon Slaying 101: How To Sindragosa 10

Dragon Slaying 101: How To Sindragosa 10

Sindragosa. Even the bravest amongst us shiver or spit when they say her name. There’s a lot of hatred for her but not much in the way of a definitive How You Deal With Sindy. So today I’m doing just that for raiders needing advice on Sindragosa 10. I’ll follow up in a few days with tips specific to healing here.

Though the encounter can seem easier than others in ICC Sindy will turn you and yours into foiled adventurer sandwiches. I believe some encounters can be harder on 10 man than 25: this is one of them.

You’ve just redecorated Sindy’s ledge with the trash and your group is pausing to do crucial things like buff up and get coffee. Then a giant ribcage full of blue gas lands on your tank and you’re all in combat. What to do?

Sindragosa: quick facts

- Don’t Panic! Tactically If you know any combination of Garfrost, Sapphiron and Any Other Dragon at all, you already have a good idea of the tactics for Sindragosa. The encounter’s also nicely paced – it starts off gently.
- She’s a dragon. That means standing behind her will get you tail swept and standing in front of her will get you cleaved. This particular dragon also has a Frost Breath which hits anything in front of her.
- Sindy uses a lot of auras and debuffs. Most of them affect every member of the raid. Here’s what you need to know:

  • PERMEATING CHILL will stack on all meleers as they attack. They should stop attacking Sindy when it gets to 5-6 stacks, until it falls off.
  • INSTABILITY will stack on any caster who Sindy casts UNCHAINED MAGIC on. To prevent stacks of Instability simply stop casting until UNCHAINED MAGIC falls off. Really, stop casting, it’s possible to kill yourself with these stacks.
  • MYSTIC BUFFET will stack on everyone in phase 2. It increases magical damage taken per stack. More on that later.
  • FROST AURA will deal 4.5k damage to everyone every 3 seconds any time Sindy is grounded  That means healers need to be constantly healing.

In phase 1 Sindragosa has ground and air phases. The first air phase occurs at 85% health, and then every 90 seconds thereafter until 35%.

Ground phase critical info: Positioning

Threat: Sindy tests your DPSers’ ability to watch their aggro. As usual the tank will have to position an unwieldy dragon – oggle over my arty  diagram for positioning. More importantly though, the tank will also get PERMEATING CHILL and will sometimes have to stop hitting for a few seconds to let the stacks drop.
Frostie: You might want to consider some or all of your raid wearing one piece of frost resist kit to mitigate some of the frost damage which is going to get worse as the fight progresses. At the very least I’d recommend your main tank picks up a piece of frost resistance.
Hokie-kokie: Sindy will pull the group in to her. Then she casts a 25-yard AoE called BLISTERING COLD. It has a 5 second cast time. Run away in a straight line as soon as she grips you in. Anyone caught in the AoE will either be dead on the floor or near-dead on their feet.
– Your tank should be aware that Sindy seems to move forward onto the tank after Blistering Cold, whether or not the tank moved.
Tip: DBM counts the BLISTERING COLD ability cooldown. Be ready to run as it ticks down. I also find it useful to turn on the spot to face the direction I want to run as the cooldown ticks. I also remind anyone with high debuff stacks to let them drop, in case they get caught in the AoE and their debuff might finish them off. Death Knights can use Anti-Magic Shell to null the effects of Blistering Cold.

Air phase how to:

The air phase is the first that requires co-ordination. It’s like Sapphiron’s air phase: you hide behind icetombs to line of sight (that is, put something between you and it so you can’t see it) an AoE.

Unlike Sapphiron, the AoE doesn’t come from Sindy herself but ice swirls she places on the ground. Those swirls are what you need to line of sight. air phase2

1. Two raid members will get target marks. They should run to pre-arranged ‘ice tomb positions as in the picture. These positions should be the same for every air phase. Everyone else should stay away from those two people until they’re entombed in ice. 
2. As soon as they’re tombed up everyone else should gather round the tombs. You have a few seconds from the ice swirl appearing to the AoE occuring. Look for the ice swirls and line of sight them. There will be four swirls in total and they could be anywhere on the platform – including behind you.
3. As you avoid the AoE you also need to break the ice blocks to let your comrades out. Do this by slowly DPSing the iceblocks so they break just after the fourth swirl/AoE: try to avoid letting icetombs break. I’d recommend not getting below 25% health before the fourth blast.
Tip: remember I said this was a forgiving fight? We found it’s possible to live through breaking one or both icetombs early on air phases, but I recommend breaking them slowly for safety. If necessary assign your top two DPS a block each to solo and have everyone else focus on avoiding the AoE. DoTs such as DK diseases should not be used on the icetombs as they break too easily.

Phase 2 critical info:

Sindy is permanently grounded. She will still use Ice Grip and Blistering Cold and casts Ice Tomb on one player at a time. Meanwhile, MYSTIC BUFFET is a killer. It’s important not to let Buffet stack too high: hide behind an ice tomb until it drops off. Some thoughts on dealing with buffet:
- Sindy casts icetomb frequently in this phase and you really don’t want multiple tombs up at once. When someone is marked to be tombed they should run to a pre-defined space. Next to Sindy’s head is a central spot for this as everyone – including tanks – can get to it quickly.
- Have a second tank. Even if it’s a kitty druid. They just need to tank for a few seconds when your tank’s stacks reach 4-5 and need to be dropped
- Healers should remove stacks on a rotation basis so that at least one is not behind the ice block, so they can heal the tank. My healers and I set up some simple macros to tell each other what was going on – e.g. /p staying out – Pitil next
- DPS should be split into two groups. On the first iceblock group A removes their stacks, group B nukes Sindy. Visa versa on the second iceblock.
- Tip: You do need to break the icetombs. You could have all DPS do this, although it causes chaos and the potential for multiple tombs is high. I’d recommend assigning one, or even two, high DPSer to do nothing else but nuke icetombs for this phase.

That lot should be all the info you need to get through the fight – hopefully some of these tips will help it go smoothly for you. Remember she does have an enrage timer so unload the DPS as quickly as possible in phase 1. Skimp on healers or off tank if you want but be certain you can deal with phase 2 if you do. When you do take her down break out the screenshot buttons: you’ve just downed the Queen of the Frostbrood.

 

Now it’s your turn. What do you think? Have you got any tips to add here to All That Sindykillers Could Ever Need? Have any of these tips clinched the kill for you?  How hard do you think this fight is – or looks if you’re not there yet – and most importantly, how fun? I’d like to hear if you think this is a hard or even an easy fight – but remember everyone is of a different skill level, so please no suggesting that a team of grannies could do this over afternoon tea!

14 Things that can go Wrong and will go Wrong on Sindragosa

14 Things that can go Wrong and will go Wrong on Sindragosa

sindy-hurts

She is the General Vezax to Yogg-Saron. Never has such an encounter led me to curl up in my chair and cry. The margin of error is so small and so minute (my-noot?). There are so many things that can cause failures. It contains of 6 minutes of sheer endurance before you get to the final phase. Anyone with a compromised computer or a laptop or a bad connection will not even do well. On other encounters, you can get away with a disconnect or a death. Here? Not so much. So here I’ve compiled the ultimate list of things that can go wrong when taking down Sindragosa.

  1. Guild leader’s WoW crashes during ground phase (True story, happened to me last night, and miraculously didn’t get pulled in)
  2. Raider inability to run out when Sindragosa chain pulls everyone (I specced into Body and Soul so I could hit the players who had the most difficulty)
  3. Raider inability to mouse turn when pulled into Sindragosa and go in the wrong direction.
  4. Raider runs out to the wrong side when pulled in and happens to be the target of a Frost Beacon in phase 3 thereby getting caught on the wrong side leading to insane stacks of Mystic Buffet resulting in a wipe.
  5. Inability to use own judgment to spread out on the bottom of the stairs when hit with frost beacons. We don’t need 4 guys on one side. It’s 2 left, 2 right, and 1 middle.
  6. People cheating too close to Frost Beacons before they hit resulting in more Frost Tombs.
  7. Melee building up too many debuffs and having to run out when pulled in and not getting a heal because the healers go one way and they go the other.
  8. Healers dying to Backlash because we’re too busy tunnel visioning the raid (I am guilty of this). Fixed it by setting Power Auras to show Instability in big flashing letters, 100% opacity, and 300% size. Manage to cut down the deaths some. It still happens.
  9. Mystic Buffet not clearing because we mis-time our ability to run behind a block and shake off the buff.
  10. Raiders cheating up the stairs instead of staying on the bottom as specifically instructed to before Frost Beacons are hit and then having to run back down and look for an open spot. God this pisses me off so much. I don’t know why people have to cheat up the stairs. I don’t know why waiting at the bottom of the stairs is so difficult to do.
  11. Thunderstorms knocking out internet connections.
  12. People who don’t have the Frost Beacon stand where people with Frost Beacons are supposed to run to resulting in a double tomb or a death on phase 3.
  13. People who are too slow and don’t get into position in time.
  14. Instability on half the healers leading to temporarily reduced healing on the raid, leading to more deaths due to insufficient heals. Like the Backlash problem I had earlier? It’s me getting people up to the survivability levels without realizing I have that stuff.

All I can say is, thank goodness we managed to take her down last week. It’s just unfortunate to have players who have computers or connections that just can’t seem to handle the stress of the encounter. The expansion is also winding down now even though we have Ruby Sanctum coming up and it’s getting a little harder to find raiders.

If we get her down again, I’m tempted to simply extend the lockout so we can focus exclusively on the Lich king.