Case Study: Anub’arak 10 Heroic Featuring a Priest and Druid

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This was a post I’ve been debating myself repeatedly on whether or not to trash because I wasn’t sure if it was worth it. Comments from the recent survey asked for more case studies and as a result, I’ve decided to revisit and polish this up some more.

Note: This post was written several weeks ago so the time context may be off.

Quite frankly, Anub’arak 10 scares the crap out of me.

Tonight, we were planning to zip through ToGC 10 and get it down in order to acquire additional gear and tokens. Up to this point, we had been running with 3 healers: 2 Resto Druids and myself on my Priest.

Heading into the fight, we knew we’d have to drop down to 2 healers for the extra DPS on the boss. We drew straws. Syd and I lost (actually, of the 3 healers, our DPS alternates weren’t as good compared to his). This was the first time either of us would be healing this encounter.

First attempts

The first several attempts were designed to get our feet wet with managing surface phases and burrow phases. I decided to give this fight a crack with me opening as Discipline. I would cover the tanks and Syd would take the rest of the raid. We both cover Penetrating Cold between my shields and her HoTs.

Both of the tanks I kept alive through a combination of Shields and Improved Renews. Yes, a Discipline Priest who uses Renew is a rarity, but I wasn’t going to debate on right or wrong ways. I had a job that involved keeping up 2 tanks alive at all costs. When that happens, you use every spell in the book regardless of your spec. Penetrating Cold seemed to hit me more often than not. I was reminded why Binding Heal was in the game.

Syd and I stood on the tail end of Anub for most of the night. Made the job easier for our tank if the Burrowers locked onto us before he could get to them. If I had the opportunity (which was rare), I’d sneak in a Shadow Word: Pain or Death once in a while.

The basic game plan was to overpower the initial 70%. If we hit two burrow phases, it would be game over.

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At 5 seconds to burrow, we’d yank Anub from his ice patch and drag him off to the side. This way, if melee players get focused while beating on ads, they’d have enough clearance to jet to point 1 (actually, any player that gets focused goes to point 1). The next person that gets it shoots up to way point 2. The last person heads down to way point 3.

If the timer isn’t up by then, we play it by ear and bring down another orb.

Meanwhile, our players were kiting Anub to his designated spot. Players being pursued by scarabs were shielded and renew’d immediately. In the event I had nothing to do, I’d chip on scarabs with a Mind Blast and Shadow Word: Death nuke (just like Arena).

I remember one time watching Anub getting perilously close to Syd and she managed to break into Cat form and sprint, which brought us a few precious seconds before he resurfaced.

The second surface phase was a basic repeat of the first. Once we tipped him over, everything changed and this is where it got really interesting.

Note: This is where you want to start reading

My mana was at the point where it was time to break out the Shadowfiend. How convenient Heroism was used after he had spawned! I made sure the tanks were properly shielded and HoTTed at all times. Penance, Greater Heal and Flash Heal were cycled among the two tanks. I heard the distinctive cue of Tranquility firing off. I did my best to balance shields on Penetrating Cold targets as well.

Try as I might, I couldn’t do it. Our Anub tank died while the beetle was at 17% or so.

The next attempts were more of the same.

Main tank dead at 12%.
Main tank dead at 15%.

This was true triage.

Whatever I was doing, it wasn’t enough. Frustration, anger, you name it, I felt it. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with the Disc Priest class.

There was something wrong with me.

Syd, with her uncanny knack of detecting my mood (must be a girl thing) suggested the brilliant idea of me going Holy and her looking after tanks instead.

Structured cooldowns

Before I forget, I wanted to mention that we became more disciplined in our cooldown use. We decided to script our cooldowns in advance. We had a Prot Paladin, 2 Druids (Boomkin and Resto) and a Priest. In other words, we had 3 outs. The Druids were placed in separate groups for Tranquility.

We had no troubles adjusting to surface or submerged phases. We hit the 30% mark again and it was do or die time.

For group healing, I kept a hasted Prayer of Healing ready for the second group while a glyphed Holy Nova was reserved for mine.

The players were lowered to 50-60% ranges before firing off heals. Empowered Renews were placed on Penetrating Cold targets at all times and the tanks if they were getting too low.  We were all within close proximity of each other. Surge of Light activations were held for sudden Penetrating Cold victims (like if they were at medium health and gained the debuff).

Once I felt we were about to get overwhelmed, I called out for a Tranquility. Syd lit hers while our Boomkin shifted out and casted his well.

I started to run low on mana. I brought everyone back up before a Divine Sacrifice was called and gambled Hymn of Hope. In hindsight, I should have Hymned during the Tranquilities (again, learn from my mistakes).

It must have felt like an eternity. I wasn’t sure how much further we could go. I shot off an Inner Focused Divine Hymn in desperation on the final stretch. We had nothing else left. Heal after heal was cycled while I was inwardly praying for him to fall over. Last ditch Desperate Prayer saved me after another nasty Penetrating Cold.

Our Mage died. It looked like the raid was about to buckle, but Anub managed to fall over first before we did.

In recent weeks, we’ve used two groups to successfully bring down Anub that featured Holy Paladin/Resto Shaman and Disc Priest/Resto Shaman healers. I hope you’ve taken something away from the post and I’ll see if I can do more case studies in the future.

Case Study: Anub 10H vs Holy Paladin

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This is a guest post by a Ophelie, a new Holy Paladin who has recently joined Conquest. Check out her blog: The Bossy Pally.

So Monday night, I was formally introduced to Anub 10 man on hard mode and was lucky enough to get his number. Matticus suggested I write about my impressions so that others may be amused, and by amused I mean informed, about how one heals this fight for the first time as a holy paladin. I prefer writing stories to strategies, but for all you practical people, I’ll have a list of things learned the hard way at the end.

Now, had I been clever that night, I would have taken advantage of the pre-fight confusion of “we have to cut down one healer and bring in a dps” to do some last minute reading on differences between the regular and hard mode Anub. Of course, I didn’t think of that until after the fight and I had full confidence in my ability to follow instructions: something about a first ice patch, then running south, then more about ice patches and about not playing hero… Yep, watch what everyone else is doing and copy them, got it.

(Read: Save yourself some confusion and always do your raid homework before trying a new fight.)

Once we were set up, we buffed, I put up frost resistance aura and we pulled.

First phase?

Cake. Beacon on the pulling tank in case he gets out of range during positioning? Check
Nestle myself happily under Anub’s rear end? Check.

I try not to think too much about Anub’s rear end because, you know, not pleasant. Flash of Light (little heal), Holy Light (big heal) heal to taste. Adds spawn, but not my problem. With beacon on my side, I wasn’t worried. It did seem like the adds were zoning in on me though. Hmm. Maybe I should remove Righteous Fury (damage reduction, but threat boost)?.

Second phase?

I breathe a bit while Anub goes underground and plays tag with the raid. Pop Divine Plea? Sure, why not. There’s not much to heal so I might as well regen some mana. I judge some of the many little adds that spawn. Hey, I gotta do my share like everyone else! Suddenly, DBM flashes on my screen, “Anub’Arak is chasing YOU!”

Ooooooo kiting time! …Wait. Why can’t I run? I look down at my feet. I’m on an ice patch. I can barely move. Uh oh.

Tag, I’m it. I was dead before I saw what hit me.

Raid leader: It’s a wipe.
Person X: What went wrong?
Me: My bad, I was standing on an ice patch.
Person Y: Don’t stand on ice patches.
Me thinking: You must be one of those who wait until people fall down to say “it’s slippery”. (Matt’s edit: So true)
Person Z: You should be able to use Hand of Freedom to get off of ice patches.
Me: Good to know.

We run back and try again.

First phase?

Cake.

Second phase?

Same as above until Anub is after me again. This time, I was ready! I run north, he gets stuck, I don’t wipe us. I’m a pro now! I feel rather proud of myself and take a few seconds to secretly gloat.

Third phase hit before I knew it.

Things got real fun, real fast. As one tank dealt with giant bugs and the other with the boss, Anub smacked his lips and started leaching our health. Quick! Bubble, Divine Sacrifice! Let’s slow down the damage as much as possible. I had beacon on the adds tank and was healing the main tank.

Flash of Light, Flash of Li- no! Holy Light, Holy Light, Holy Light, OMG!

Oh, look the rogue is going to die. Holy Shock the rogue.

There’s nothing like a swift instant heal saving you when things get scary. Oh no, the tank! Holy Light! Oh man that was close. Holy Light, Holy Light, Holy Light.

Oh, look, I’m going to die.

Holy Shock myself.

Eeek, the tank! Holy Light! That was close! Holy Light, Holy Light, Holy Light.

I’m going to die again but I can’t risk losing the tank. Holy Light, Holy Light, Holy L- interrupted, I die.

Luckily, I’m not the only one who died: Anub’s lifeless carapace slumped next to me as I hit the ground. Ha! I was overcome by satisfaction, knowing I could get a rez and Anub would have to wait until Tuesday’s reset to run back from the boss graveyard.

So little paladin, what did you learn?

  • Make sure one paladin has frost resistance aura up. The penetrating cold debuff gets nasty towards the end.
  • Your Righteous Fury can help the off tank pick up adds, but check with the tank first.
  • During phase 2, don’t stand on ice patches (ha!) and as much as possible, position yourself so that there’s always an ice patch between you and him.
  • Hand of Freedom should be able help you or someone else in a pinch.
  • Mana shouldn’t be a problem before phase 3, but play it safe and use phase 2 for Divine Plea.
  • If there are other paladins in the raid, coordinate your use of Divine Sacrifice at
  • the beginning of phase 3 so you can stretch out damage reduction as long as possible.
  • On phase 3, you have to trust your raid healer, beacon one tank and spam Holy Light on the other. If your tanks are geared, you can get away with the occasional Holy Shock, but it’s risky.
  • Keep Judgement on Light up on the boss, preferably for the whole fight, but especially on phase 3. Either do it yourself or make sure another paladin in the raid is doing it.
  • If you run out of mana before Anub dies, it’s game over. Don’t run out of mana. Start phase 3 at full, use mana potions, lay on hands, anything, but don’t run out of mana.
  • After the fight, /hug your raid healer because he’s probably sweating buckets.

Oh, and since no epic boss kill tale ends without some sort of cooing over loot, I won Heartcrusher from the Tribute Chest, Crusader’s Glory for my tanking set and a trophy (yeah, I know, I’m spoiled). How I choose gems and enchants for my new gear is epic tale for another day.

The Case for Limited Attempts

We’ve seen the mechanic in Trial of the Grand Crusader and it seems like it’s going to be implemented in Icecrown as well. When I was on the PTR, I saw the countdown at 3000. We were down to 2994 when the raid group was called.

Again, this is why I’m in favour of being on the PTR often so I can waste my learning attempts there where it doesn’t matter. But that’s the tactician in me anyway.

There’s been objection to using limited attempts as a means to make raids more difficult for players. It means every attempt means something and they cannot just be squandered away. A ceiling has been imposed on the amount of times a guild can throw themselves at bosses.

This means that a guild who raids for 24 hours a week has no advantage over a guild that raids for 12 hours. They both have the same amount of chances to get the job done. The playing field has been leveled in such a way that guilds can’t simply just “brute force” their way through a raids and rely on a sheer number of attempts to do so. You can’t have players doing the same stupid things that cause them to die. The overall skills have to go up.

Granted, I’ll admit it is a cheap way of slowing down raids and making stuff harder. But I like this approach instead of throwing in more trash mobs. While ToC was one blend of the spectrum, I don’t think I’d be particularly happy if most boss chambers and corridors had quantities that rivalled Freya or General Vezax trash. I’d rather spend that time focusing on boss attempts. Some of the areas in ICC had trashed turned on. From what I’ve seen, it’s difficult enough to keep players entertained on the route to trash and there’s just enough where you’re not going to get bored of it and want to gouge your eyes out.

Will there be a reward system?

I’m not sure. It could be modelled after ToGC where the attempts remaining has an influence on the type of loot received. In fact, I think that is something they’ll implement.

Did you like the way limited attempts were set up in ToGC? What would you change for Icecrown?

Trophy vs Token

Trophy vs Token

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When Burning Crusade touched down we received a token system. The system tied multiple classes to a single drop from a boss. This allowed for less loot being sharded or discarded and allowed for quicker gearing as a guild. The tokens could then be turned in for your tier set pieces. A lot of people were afraid of this method, but it worked out really really well. Guilds were able to gear out their raiders quickly and efficiently and very little loot was left to rot. We began to see the starting of this in Vanilla WoW in Naxxramas and the tier 3 raid sets and AQ40 with the 2.5 pieces. “Token” bosses dropped two tokens a piece and everyone was generally happy.

When Wrath of the Lich King came out, it was more of the same. Naxxramas and Ulduar continued the token system along, but added with it two levels. A 10 man level and a 25 man level that we affectionately refer to as tier x and tier x.5. The system continued to work well. Bosses that were token droppers continued to drop two of them and it was even made so that we could purchase tokens with badges for two of the slots. Gearing was a bit faster now thanks to the addition of two purchasable tokens and content flew by for a lot of people.

Then patch 3.2 hit, and brought with it Tier 9 content. Trial of the Crusader distributed loot in a very, very strange manner. First of all the Tier 9 gear was split into three item levels of quality. We’ve been referring to them as Tier 9, Tier 9.25 and Tier 9.5. Tier 9 can be bough fairly cheaply with Badges of Triumph, the next level up 9.25 requires an amount of badges and a Trophy of the Crusade which can only be obtained in the 25 man version. The tier costs can better be broken down by this:

Tier 9 = ilvl 232 Tier 9.25 = ilvl 245  Tier 9.5 = ilvl 258

Head: 1 x Regalia of the Grand Protector(item level 258) or 75 x Emblem of Triumph + 1Trophy of the Crusade (ilvl 245) or 50 x Emblem of Triumph (ilvl 232)

Hands: 1 x Regalia of the Grand Protector (item level 258) or 45 x Emblem of Triumph + 1Trophy of the Crusade (ilvl 245) or 30 x Emblem of Triumph (ilvl 232)

Chest: 1 x Regalia of the Grand Protector (item level 258) or 75 x Emblem of Triumph + 1Trophy of the Crusade (ilvl 245) or 50 x Emblem of Triumph (ilvl 232)

Legs: 1 x Regalia of the Grand Protector (item level 258) or 75 x Emblem of Triumph + 1Trophy of the Crusade (ilvl 245) or 50 x Emblem of Triumph (ilvl 232)

Shoulders: 1 x Regalia of the Grand Protector (item level 258) or 45 x Emblem of Triumph + 1Trophy of the Crusade (ilvl 245) or 30 x Emblem of Triumph (ilvl 232)

Confused yet? Most people are. The stat difference between ilvl 226 gear (25 man uld) and ilvl 232 gear is not that big of a jump. going from 226 up to 245 is a big jump for most people. Enough of a gap that most pieces are clear upgrades. So why is this a problem? Trophies only drop from 25 man ToC. You get 1 per boss and a variable amount per tribute chest based on how many wipes you have. There are only five bosses in the instance. (Beasts, Jaraxxus, Champs, Twins and Anub). We’ll go with the model of running 25 man raids. You have 25 people, who all want that trophy. Being only 5 in total that means only roughly 20% of your raid a week can get them and upgrade. Lets look at Ulduar Five bosses drop token pieces, and two tokens per boss which is a theoretical 40% upgrade rate for your raid. The trophy system slowed gearing up way down because most people, especially those progression minded will be focusing on upgrades that can be obtained with Regalia (and it’s like tokens) from Trial of the Grand Crusader or Trophies and badges from Trial of the Crusader.

You can argue that with the drop increases from the tribute chest that better raids are rewarded based on performance, and that is true, but it does not really have any room for guilds that are done with Ulduar but not quite at Trial of the Grand Crusader (example would be guilds that just got a series of new recruits that need to be geared up before ToGC). This however can be chalked up to time spent in a normal version to gear people up, and get them used to the fights before heading into ToGC.

My main problem is the level of competition this generates in a raid. Right now in Ulduar if Gloves the the Wayware Protector drops, you know it’s going to a Warrior,  a Hunter or a Shaman. When a Trophy of the Crusade drops, everyone in the raid is sending tells. Everyone wants them over just regular tier 9 badge gear. I’ve seen this cause resentment and bitterness already in a couple people, and it can lead to bigger problems down the line. How do you distribute loot fairly? What is considered fair?

It’s for this reason I’m not a fan of the trophy system. I’m ok with working on harder content for a bigger reward. That is fine and dandy, but when I see an entire raid of people sitting, waiting, wondering if they’ll get the item it becomes a problem. I never saw this problem with a token system. Players might be mad at the game for dropping Vanquisher over Protector but it was RNG and nothing could be done about it. It’s a different story when you’re eligible for the item and watch other people get it over you. It’s a lot easier to accept something out of immediate control like RNG.

It’s not a bad idea in theory. It allows you to select the item you’re upgrading, it allows you to make sure anyone and everyone can use the items instead of seeing them rot due to RNG but I personally feel the token system is the way to go. While loot distribution is always an issue for any guild, I think the trophy system has too much potential to cause harm and additional stress that is unneeded in a raid / guild environment. I asked a question on Twitter about what people thought about the Trophy system. I got a surprising number of replies with people who just won’t run the content or have all together stopped raiding as  a result. I’ve also heard reports of guilds having to re work their entire loot system and policy because of this tier content, and that’s not good.

What do you think? Do you like the trophy / badge / three levels to the tier set? Do you hate it? Have you had any interesting stories revolving around loot distribution in tier 9 content?

Well, that’s my two cents on the subject until next time Happy Healing

Sig

Head 1 x Regalia of the Grand Protector(item level 258) or

75 x Emblem of Triumph + 1Trophy of the Crusade (ilvl 245) or 50 x Emblem of Triumph (ilvl 232)

Hands 1 x Regalia of the Grand Protector (item level 258)

45 x Emblem of Triumph + 1Trophy of the Crusade (ilvl 245) or 30 x Emblem of Triumph (ilvl 232)

Chest 1 x Regalia of the Grand Protector (item level 258)

75 x Emblem of Triumph + 1Trophy of the Crusade (ilvl 245) or 50 x Emblem of Triumph (ilvl 232)

Legs 1 x Regalia of the Grand Protector (item level 258)

75 x Emblem of Triumph + 1Trophy of the Crusade (ilvl 245) or 50 x Emblem of Triumph (ilvl 232)

Shoulders 1 x Regalia of the Grand Protector (item level 258)

45 x Emblem of Triumph + 1Trophy of the Crusade (ilvl 245) or 30 x Emblem of Triumph (ilvl 232)