Mists of Pandaria Needs More Ulduar

I miss Ulduar. I have a suspicion that it ranks up there as the raider’s choice raid instance of all time. From the pacing, to the art, the difficulty and so forth, it has a fond place in the hearts of most Wrath raiders.

But what exactly about Ulduar made it so enticing? How can Blizzard recreate that feeling of wonder and accomplishment in future raid instances?

Atmosphere

The one that did it for me the most was that it wasn’t a typical dungeon like atmosphere. It wasn’t dark or dreary. It wasn’t like Black Temple, Icecrown Citadel or Blackwing Descent. It’s not the standard dark and dank dungeon. It was way brighter and had more variety with the different rooms. Granted, you had to siege your way in but once you were inside, it felt like you were in a type of shrine. Ice cavern on one side, lush tropics on another side, and it had a tram.

Every raid instance needs a tram.

In Mists, I’m hoping to see more encounters in outdoor instances. Less inside a dark cave or the side of a mountain. Maybe more in a dojo or up the side of a physical mountain (Mount Hyjal anyone?).

Limited time

Sadly this raid instance didn’t have the shelf life that other raid instances had. It felt really short because it came out in the spring. Right as summer rolled around, Trial of the Crusader came out and the players heading back into Ulduar stopped because that gear and challenge incentive wasn’t there anymore. Maybe the reason the instance is remembered so fondly is that most players didn’t have time to get sick of the place yet.

Amount of bosses

Ulduar had 14 bosses (1 of them was Algalon). I think there’s a sweet spot somewhere if you’re looking at number of bosses in a tier and amount of time allocated to clearing that tier. Ulduar’s time frame was effectively 4 months with 13 bosses (and this excludes the hard mode variations). The other tier that ranks in my favourites list was tier 5 which had 10 bosses (6 in Serpentshrine Cavern and 4 in Tempest Keep). Firelands was the only one for tier 12 (effectively 7 bosses plus hard modes and a Baradin Hold boss).

I liked the model which had more than one raid instance per tier. Tier 5 and tier 11 are good examples of this. You had a good amount of bosses that were spread out over multiple instances allowing raid groups to pick and choose where to start from each week. Instead of jamming them all into instance, having them spread out gave the feeling of not burning out as quickly.

2 – 3 instances of 3 – 5 bosses sprinkled throughout seem to be the most ideal and I hope they’ll revisit that consistently in Mists.

Catch phrase

Every raid instance needs a catch phrase.

IN THE MOUNTAINS!

… Right?

Conditional hard modes

Activated hard modes of each boss had to be triggered manually by doing specific encounter things. This was first made popular in Obsidian Sanctum against Sartharion where the amount of drakes killed affected the difficulty level of the boss. Flame Leviathan was affected by the amount of towers that were killed. Deconstructor’s was triggered by whether or not your raid group DPS was high enough to destroy the heart. Nowadays all your raid leaders need to do is toggle a switch.

Actually, now that I think about it, there were scalable hard modes. Iron Council could be engaged multiple ways depending on the order. Freya was just nuts.

My finest moment?

Orbituary on 25 man. You’d be hard pressed to find another encounter so demanding in terms of coordination required. When successfully pulled off, it was one of the greatest highs experienced because you were taking on an encounter where most players weren’t using their actual class abilities (other than the boarding team). Each catapult launcher had to coordinate navigation, sprints, fuel reloading and maintaining DPS. Those on the bikes had to make sure they were in position to retrieve launched players, drop oil slicks and so forth. Can’t remember what the siege ones did other than interrupts and trying to shoot fuel.

Though I suspect if Ulduar had been out for another month or two, we would all have been annoyed with it.

Maybe Pandaria will have a similar installation hidden on the island.

The Gearing Process to ToC 10 for a Priest

This is a guest post by Aleph, who chronicled his early end game gearing process.

Upon levelling my priest to level 80 and looking at joining my guild’s raid team as a healer, I found that I hit a barrier where I simply had no means of gaining any new gear that would get me up to Naxx10 level and therefore enter the raiding circuit as it were.

Before I continue I should make a few things clear.

I play in seasons. I play from June/July to September, then break until December and play until early January, taking a break until Easter time where I play for most of April. This makes it take amazingly long for me to achieve almost anything in WoW.

So, brand new level 80! How to begin?

Develop a routine

Well, the first thing you’ll want to do is start developing a daily circuit. The length of your circuit (and therefore the amount of dailies involved) depends on your playtime per day. I had a very limited playtime and so I found it was easier to focus on one zone at a time. I started with Icecrown and the Knights of the Ebon Blade faction. I began at the Shadow Vault and gathered up the daily quests available there. I completed these and flew down to the quest hub at the Overlook which is on the cliff just east of the Scarlet Onslaught Harbor. I Completed all three of the dailies there, then flew to the Skybreaker and collected the daily quests there (I omitted the pvp quest because it took me too long to complete it). What people miss sometimes are the two quests on the ground. Upon completion of these quests you can either head over to the Argent Tournament or return to the Shadow Vault depending on the amount of play time you have left. You should repeat this until you have enough reputation to purchase some of the items from the Ebon Blade Quatermaster then move on to another faction.

Build up reputation

Make sure to go around and buy a tabard from the four factions you can get a rep tabard from, Kirin Tor, The Wyrmrest Accord, Knights of the Ebon Blade and The Argent Crusade. While doing your Daily rounds, go to the LFG interface and chose from the level 80 dungeons. These are: “Caverns of Time: Culling of Stratholme”; “Trial of the Champion” (this gives excellent loot); “The Nexus: Oculus”; “Ulduar: Halls of Lightning”; “Utgarde Keep: Utgarde Pinnacle”. Run at least one of these a day with your tabard for the faction you’re working on reputation for until you no longer need reputation with that faction. Then switch to another tabard and start the process again.

Do homework

While doing this, ask around for the generally accepted stats for your class/role for heroics are for your realm. On my realm it was around 1.5k spell power for a holy priest. It is possible that disc priests (or other classes) may have an easier time healing the easier heroics thanks to the damage mitigation. Luckily I had the dual spec and had shadow as my secondary spec. Some of my guild mates offered to take me to Violet Hold Heroic mode as a DPS. I accepted and got a lot of reputation and even a few healing items. If you get a chance to join onto a heroic as your off-spec, go for it; don’t worry about being a fifth wheel.

Buy gear

Once you’ve done a few days worth of daily quests and have built up a decent buffer of gold, visit the auction house and look for any BoE Epics or Rares that you can buy. If you are unsure about what items to buy, ask your friends or guild mates. I bought two items, one epic and one rare item, these allowed me to begin running heroics.

Farm for badges

By now you should be almost ready to start doing heroics. This is where our tactic changes. You’ll want to set your hearthstone to one of the inns in Dalaran as this will be your new base of operations. If you haven’t been doing so already, you should start picking up the normal daily dungeon quest. Each day, log in at Dalaran and go to the Violet Hold where you will find two daily quest givers. On your left as you enter is where the normal dungeon daily quest can be found and on your right are the heroic versions. We’ll be turning right and collecting the normal daily quest for now. Once you have the daily quest put yourself in the LFG for the level 80 dungeons, making sure you’re queuing for the one the quest is located in! Then go out of Dalaran and continue with your daily quest circuit until you get into a group for a dungeon. Go to the dungeon then at the end, hearthstone (or take a mage portal) back to Dalaran and hand in the quest. It is important that you hand in the daily dungeon quest before the daily quests reset. The idea here is to gain as many badges of heroism and triumph as possible in the shortest time. As you may know, Badges of Heroism drop from bosses in heroic dungeons and Badges of Triumph are gained (at this point) from handing in the daily dungeon heroic. With this in mind, it is advisable to (If possible) try to set up a day where you and four other people clear all of the heroics at once. This will greatly increase the amount of badges you can get. Otherwise continue with your other dailies.

Once you have collected enough gear from these activities and think you will perform well enough in heroic mode dungeons, join the LFG queue for Utgarde Keep (Heroic mode).The heroic dungeons are in a separate list to the normal dungeons. Go on the Utgarde Keep run and see how well you perform. If you think it is necessary, ask the other group members how they think you performed. If you did well, start joining some more difficult heroics. Look up which are the easiest and do those first. Then, as you get more gear, advance up the heroics. By the time you can do heroics like Halls of Lightning, Halls of Stone and Oculus, you should be looking at entry level Naxxramas, depending on the gear you have accumulated. If you haven’t, don’t worry. By now, you should have collected quite a few Emblems of Conquest and perhaps some Emblems of triumph from the heroic daily quest. These can be spent in Dalaran in the Horde and Alliance sections of the city. Each badge type has its own vendor. Look at the vendors and look for items which would benefit you the most. Work out what you should buy first (always go for the item that will give the biggest increase) and buy it. After a couple of days, perhaps weeks, depending on how many heroics a day you run. If it is possible, try to set up a day where you and four other people clear all of the heroics at once. This will greatly increase the amount of badges you can get. Also, don’t forget to get the heroic and normal daily quests each day because you can complete the normal quests while in heroic mode as well.

A good measure for when you are Naxx ready is when you have over half of the superior achievement completed. That means getting at least eight i187 items or better before setting foot in Naxx. Some PUG Naxxramas groups might require you to have the entire superior (and even sometimes the epic version as well) but for guild runs, get a guildy to /inspect you to check out your gear. They will generally say whether you are undergeared or not in comparison with the rest of the guild. Just make sure you let the raid leader know that you are now available for raiding and they should factor you into the next run or two. At this stage, you will probably be under a trial period, in which make sure to put 110% effort into the raids so that the raid management see you as a player who benefits the entire raid and not someone who is a liability.

Get your feet wet

This part is one where it is almost required to be in a guild. If you want to get up to ToC 10 level, you will want to be making regular forays into Naxxramas 10. So, once you’re in your guild run, clearing the quarters, gathering up loot left and right, how do you improve and get to the next level of content (Ulduar10)? Well, the best way to get to the next level is for your guild to get to the next level of content. At this point it is inadvisable to join any PUG raids as you will want to be fully focused on guild progression. If you think your guild is not moving fast enough, offer to take more responsibility in raids, work on tactics that work specifically for your guild, offer to set up the healing assignments or, even offer to set up another night of raiding for the guild (make sure you have the green light from above before doing this). This post is not about progression however. Once your guild has cleared the four quarters and has made decent attempts on the last two bosses, you should be able to begin Ulduar 10 raids, depending on your raid team’s gear/ability. Also look for any Obsidian Sanctum 10 or Eye of Eternity 10 raids as the two instances offer some nice items which can help a lot in Ulduar10.

I would recommend that, once your guild is in Ulduar 10 and has cleared a few bosses that you join a Naxxramas 25 pickup group in order to gain a few items that will help you to advance in Ulduar. Guilds seem to advance fairly steadily through Ulduar, provided that their gear is adequate for the level of content and also that they have the drive to progress. Progression will be faster with a group of dedicated, intelligent people who generally know what they’re doing. If you are hoping to find guides to the bosses here, you can find Ulduar healing ones and Trial of the Crusader ones.

If your guild has really got stuck into Ulduar10 and have arrived at Yogg-Saron, I would recommend attempting to take him down before moving on to the next raid. You don’t have to, but it’s a great fight in the way that all of the players must be on top form and concentrating 100% for the entire fight. So! Once you have successfully cleared Ulduar, chances are you have already attempted the newly refurbished Onyxia’s lair. You will get some nice gear upgrades from here, mainly the helm, but once this has been done, you are pretty much out of content before ToC10. This is where you have two options.

  1. Go on to ToC10 and give it a try.
  2. Return to Ulduar and gear up some more.

I would recommend you give ToC a try unless you’re woefully unconfident with your gear level. This is where we utilize one of the great tools of the internet.

What’s the next step?

You don’t have to follow this next step if you disagree or disapprove of this practice. I am talking about LootRank. There are a few sites out there that offer this service but I use Guildox for it. Mainly because if you are not familiar with the parameters you want, you can pick one of their sample templates which fills out the information based on the class/spec combo you use. You can also link your characters gear to it which helps by highlighting any items you already have. Once you press view loot ranking, a list will appear which has a section for each slot (and enchantments) which are ranked from 1 -7 in the order they appear. A good idea is going over to WoW Head and using the item comparison page to double check if the items are for you. This way you can make sure you’ll get what you need. You can check where the gear drops so for example I see that the top staff for me would be the Icecore Staff. I can see that it drops from Hodir in Ulduar10 H. It is important that you see the H as the staff only drops if you defeat Hodir before he shatters his rare cache. It is advisable to use this tool as you look to enter ToC10.

After several raids at this content level, you should be more than ready to have a valid attempt at ToC10. However, perhaps your guild has not been gearing up as zealously as you have and do not want to go into ToC 10. While they will most likely leap at it, if they do not, you may want to look around your server to see if any other guilds are running it and see if they have a space for you on their next raid. If that fails, you could always attempt to PUG it, although this may not be very successful. The best plan, I think is to help your guildies to gear up quickly by giving any hints or tips you might have learned on your journey to ToC10. Patience is a key requirement for this stage. Please keep in mind that most guilds will charge into ToC10 before even defeating Yogg-Saron and so the last paragraphs or two are completely useless.

Now you should be ready for ToC 10 man! Good luck and happy raiding!

Ulduar Nerfs and Bugs

Looks like there were some undocumented changes made to Ulduar.

Check out this post on Main Tankadin. (Thanks Honors).

Here’s a quick summary from various sources (Forums, direct observations, things I heard second hand).

Flame Leviathan

  • Seems to be bugged. Doing FL with 2 towers is fine and dandy. But FL still has the 3rd tower buff on him even though there’s only 2 towers up.
  • Vehicle targeting reticule looks really good.
  • Gnomes have been busy. Enhanced the handling of vehicles. They turn much better.
  • Choppers can pick up Pyrite and drop them wherever they like.

XT Deconstructor

  • Deconstructor seems to spawn a bajillion ads. Look at the main tankadin post above for a screenshot.
  • Now throws Light and Gravity bombs during tantrums.

Thorim

  • Chain Lightning only blows up 2 targets.

Freya

  • Iron roots: You can trinket out of them. You can blink out of them. Hand of freedom. Bring a Shaman with Earthen Power and call it a day. Shapeshifting works. Anything that can get you out of snares will work.
  • Sunbeam visual effect seems to be missing. But the debuff on players is still there.

Mimiron

  • Phase 3: Don’t have to place the mines. The player loots it, uses it, and the head will automatically drop down. Mimiron has upgraded to smarter magnets.

General Vezax

  • Vezax’s health reduced by 10 million.
  • Saronite Animus health reduced by 2.5 million.
  • Animus spawns after 6 clouds instead of 8.

Check the comments for other nerfs. I’ll try to update this post with extra information.

Ulduar Fights Where It’s Just Not the Healer’s Fault

I’ve experienced just about type of death in Ulduar. I’d die to Constrictor tentacles. Early on, I’d get rocked by Hodir’s Flash Freeze. Sometimes I’d get unlucky with a Rocket Strike.

Today’s post is designed to help you identify under what situations a healer is at fault and when it is simply out of their hands. Keep in mind there are several exceptions. In most cases, tanks are the one that will be bearing the brunt of these abilities. If they die, odds are good they weren’t at full health. If it were any other player, well let’s take a look shall we?

This is a really long post. I’d consider using it as a reference when trying to troubleshoot your raid to see if there really was anything that could have been done to keep players alive.

Flame Leviathan

Nothing much here. I don’t send healers onboard the tank. I usually send up hybrid DPS who are able to heal in addition to DPS.

Razorscale

You died because of:

  • Devouring Flame – Your fault. Should not have been standing in them. It’s the blue stuff on the ground.
  • Flame Breath – Your fault. Don’t stand in front of Razor when this happens. Tanks are an exception.
  • Fireball – Our fault. It’s only 11000 damage or so. However, there are times when a player does get gibbed by these. I’ve been hit by this twice in a row in the span of a half second. I happened to have a shield up which saved me with a 15% health left.

Ignis

You died because of:

  • Scorch – Your fault. Why on earth would you stand on a big giant tower of fire?
  • Flame Jets – Our fault. Players should be in the green when Flame Jets connect.
  • Slag pot – Our fault. You can help even more though if you can. I cast Lesser Healing Wave on myself when I play my Elemental Shaman to help the heals out.
  • Construct explosion – Your fault. Run the heck out before it gets detonated.

Deconstructor

You died because of:

  • Gravity Bomb – Neither. It’s the job of the guy who got Gravity Bomb to get clear. If he’s too close, he pulls you in and detonates. Bomb guy’s fault.
  • Light Bomb – Both. It’s the Light bomb’s duty to also get clear. But the raid will take 2 or 3 ticks of Light Bomb damage. Our job is to heal that up. Requires effort on both parts.
  • Tympanic Tantrum – Our fault. We should be able to outheal the damage done by Tympanic Tantrum.
  • Bomb bot – Your fault. Should not be within proximity of these things when they explode.

Iron Council

You died because of:

  • Fusion Punch – Our fault. Unless none of the healers are dispellers. Then it’s the dispeller’s fault. That debuff has to come off quick.
  • High Voltage – Our fault. Steelbreaker’s aura. Everyone gets hit by it no matter what. It just has to be out healed.
  • Rune of Death – Your fault. Shouldn’t be standing in it.
  • Chain Lightning – Both. It depends on how much damage you take. If you die to a chain lightning, check to see if you were properly spaced up. You can stay with 1 or maybe 2 other players nearby. That type of damage is survivable. If your health was too low for a period of time, then its our fault for not getting you back in the green quick enough.
  • Lightning Whirl – Both. It should be interrupted. It’s normal to see 1 or 2 ticks slip through. Most players should be able to survive that. If you didn’t survive it, then chances are you weren’t topped either.
  • Overload – Your fault. When the little guy stops moving and starts doing his Kamehameha move, run out of the blast zone.
  • Lightning Tendrils – Both. It’s difficult to outrun this. Some players are going to get caught in them. At the same time, a concerted effort should be made by those not being focused to run away from it, not run towards it. Focused players are taking 3000 – 5000 damage per second. It’s possible if its one or two players. It’s a nightmare if it’s five or so.
  • Melee hit for 30000 – Not our fault. Ideally a cooldown will be popped. I know when I see Steelbreaker on the tank, I’ll drop a Pain Suppression reflexively on the tank to buy some extra time to get him repositioned. Sometimes Murphy likes to come along and crap on your raid with a Rune of Powered up Fusion Punch. One word: Screwed.

Kologarn

You died because of:

  • Shockwave – Our fault. No player should be that low when Shockwave connects. Otherwise they’re dead.
  • Stone Grip – Our fault. Gripped players just have to be kept alive until the arm takes enough damage.
  • Focused Eyebeam – Your fault. On the one hand, your health should be high enough to eat a tick or two if necessary. On the other hand, if you have several seconds to run and kite the beam before you start registering damage.

Auriaya

You died because of:

  • Seeping Feral Essence – Your fault. It’s basically a void zone. Get out of it.
  • Sonic Screech – Neither. Some players weren’t stacking up when it went off. Obviously if you’re at 5% health when it hits, you’re probably going to die. Should be in the green as much as possible.
  • Sentinel Blast – Our fault. It’s healer duty to heal up the initial parts of the blast. The faster the interrupts, the less we have to worry about it.

Hodir

You died because of:

  • Biting Cold – Your fault. Keep jumping. Keep strafing. Keep dancing and moving.
  • Flash Freeze – Your fault. Weren’t fast enough getting into a snow drift.
  • Icicles – Your fault. You can see the blue runes on the ground. You know where they’re coming from.
  • Frozen Blows – Our fault. There’s nothing you can really do to avoid it. It’s up to us healers to play triage on the whole raid.

Thorim

You died because of:

  • Charge Orb – Your fault. Should be standing near the center of the room to avoid this when in the arena.
  • Smash – Your fault. Should not be standing in front of the Rune Giant in the gauntlet.
  • Shockwave-like ability – Your fault. Dodge them.
  • Rune Detonation – Your fault. You see the fire shield above the target, get clear of them.
  • Chain Lightning – Both. Don’t stand with more than 2 other people. There’s only so much space in the room and you do have to dodge Lightnign Charges.
  • Lightning Charge – Your fault. When you see the streams coming from the wall towards Thorim, break off quickly.

Freya

You died because of:

  • Detonating Lashers – Our fault. Unless your raid manages to precisely kill all of them at the same time.
  • Nature Bomb – Your fault. When you see these big green balls on the ground, that’s your cue to move.

Mimiron

You died because of:

  • Napalm Shell – Our fault. We have to be able to heal this through.
  • Plasma Burst – Our fault. Tanks and healing cooldowns must be used so that they can live.
  • Shock Blast – Your fault. We can’t outheal 100000 damage all at once.
  • Proximity Mine – Your fault. No comment.
  • Heat Wave – Our fault. Shouldn’t be a problem healing this up.
  • Rapid Burst – Out fault. No good reason why we’d die to this either.
  • Rocket Strike – Your fault. Stand out of the red stuff on the ground.
  • Laser Barrage – Your fault. Nothing we can do about this either. Up to you to make a run for it.
  • Bomb bot – Neither. These things do a lot of damage when they explode. By now, your raiders should be able to survive at least one of these with you at full health. Hopefully the rest of your raid can kill these before they become an issue.

General Vezax

You died because of:

  • Shadow Crash – Your fault. Outrun these. We’ll do what we can to heal up the player or two that gets hit by it.
  • Searing Flames – Neither. Someone missed an interrupt. This should not be going off at all.
  • Surge of Darkness – Neither. Depends on the strategy. With defensive cooldowns, it shouldn’t be a problem.
  • Mark of the Faceless – Neither. Again, this requires the efforts of both. The target has to run out fast. Those nearby need to be healed up quickly.
  • Saronite Vapors – Your fault. Be very careful about staying in too late. As a Priest, I Prayer of Mending on stack 6, and Shield myself on 7 and escape with about half my health. Others may not be as lucky.

Yogg-Saron

You died because of:

  • Shadow Nova – Our fault. Unless your raid killed like 5 guardians at the same time.
  • Death Ray – Your fault. These green beams start off harmless at first and don’t move. When you see them, get clear. It amazes me how many players still stand there after it’s been there for several seconds. Drop what you’re doing and move.
  • Crusher Tentacles – Your fault. Shouldn’t be in melee range of these. They will kill with one blow.
  • Brain Link – Technically our fault. But run towards each other quick!
  • Squeeze – Our fault. We have to keep you alive long enough for the DPS to break you out.
  • Sanity – Your fault. There is nothing we can do if your sanity reaches zero.

And there you have it! Use this list only as a rough guideline. There are always exceptions to everything. Look into the context of what happened before making a judgment. You don’t always have to assign fault. But it is important to find out what happened so you can make sure it doesn’t happen again. You’ll notice that a lof of these deaths are easily preventable by healers. But there are some rare cases where there’s just nothing we can do short of a psychic Guardian Spirit on a player.

Yes, you’ll notice I didn’t add any comments on Algalon. I haven’t engaged him and it won’t be for a while.

Orbit-uary Post Mortem

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

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

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

The Strategy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

/script SetRaidTarget("target", n)

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

example:

 

/script SetRaidTarget("Matticus", 8)

This will put a skull on Matt’s head.

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

Save 10 Minutes on Mimiron Trash by Skipping it Entirely

I just discovered this pro tip yesterday from a Resto Druid app. He mentioned to me as we were clearing out Mimiron trash.

If you want to shave some time off in your raid, work the first trash pull and secure a Spider bot as quickly as you can. Then have that player power jump over the rest of the mobs all the way to the tram. He activates the tram, heads over to Mimiron, and then starts the encounter. That player has to die.

At that point, the teleport at the Spark of Imagination should now be active enabling the rest of your raid to enter in.

Some of you guys probably know this. But for the rest of us that didn’t, it’s a neat trick that should shave some time in your raids. We used this method in the last trash pull to gauge exactly how much space was needed. It might take you a trash pull or two to get used to the range. But it can be done.

On a side note, you’ll notice things have been slightly shaky around here. The server move has been complete. A very special thanks to our sponsors (and hosting partner) Byte Me Gaming. The contact forms are not working at the moment and I’m trying to resolve that. So I apologize in advance if you’ve sent in anything recently. Use my personal email for the time being in order to get in touch.

Fixed.

The Zen of Healing

The Zen of Healing

rock_garden

Zen (noun): school of Mahayana Buddhism asserting that enlightenment can come through meditation and intuition rather than faith; China and Japan.

So, how does this pertain to healing in WoW you ask? At it’s base level, meditation is a tool that is used to make the mind and body whole, to realign a persons energy through focus and insight. It is also the realization of an inherent natural wisdom and virtue that fills us all. The most basic function of a healer in WoW is to mend the raid and make the raid unit whole again. Is this far out there? Probably but bear with me a bit. We heal our raid through focus and intuition. We predict incoming damage and set heals and preventative measures accordingly. We trust our intuition, and apply logic to make our healing target decisions rather then trust blindly that our heals will find their mark. We do so through intimate knowledge of our classes and the raiders around us. It’s like hitting the “zone” that athletes talk about. You become centered, super focused and just make amazing saves and pull out all the stops without even realizing you are doing it.

I’m sure you’ve done it before. You’ve been in a fight where afterward someone comments “I have no clue how you healed through that!” and you have to stop and think back on it, because you don’t remember doing anything special, you just did it.

I’ve always referred to healing in WoW as a very fluid thing, it is very natural and adaptive in nature.  It’s something that if you are a healer, it just flows from you without much thought. For me the true zen of healing comes out during my guild’s heroic raids. A couple nights ago we were doing General Vezax (working on our second kill on him at the time).  I had assigned three healers on the main tank, a Resto Druid, Holy Pally and Disc Priest. Vent was quiet as dps wait for the call to burn down a vapor and interrupters were waiting for the flame spheres to pop up around Vezax. Early into the fight our Paladin MT healer get’s hit with a shadow crash and then very shortly there after an interrupt is missed due to a lag spike and a Searing Flames goes out. The Paladin dies as a result. Without saying anything I see our second Holy Paladin shift his position and take over tank healing, while the rest of the healers move to fill the healing gap throughout the raid. Later on in the encounter our Vapors wound up in the back of the room, I watched as the healers rotated on their own, without any direction. Healers got their mana back and then relieved the tank healers so they could regen then the tank healers took back over. I watched my healers work as one unit, without any spoken or written words passing between them. That to me was a moment of zen similar to the story of the Flower Sermon. Everyone used logic and intuition to work as one cohesive body and win the fight without a word even having to be spoken.

I’ve had other people tell me about how they get into “the zone”. Some have pre-raid rituals, and yes I mean rituals. I have a friend who before a raid sits down on the floor takes some deep breathes and tries to release any stress he’s gathered during the day before the raid through meditation. I have another friend who drinks a can of coke, eats a bag of Andy Cap Hotfries or hot-wings and then sits down to raid, he compares this to say sacrificing a chicken to the raiding gods. Another of my associates listens to classical music while he’s healing, keeping it just low enough to replace the game music but still hear directions in vent. Me before a raid I listen to some music like  John Williams and the Indiana Jones theme to get myself in adventure hero mode.

So what about you? Have you experienced a moment like we did with Vezax? Do you have a pre-raid ritual to get you into your zone? Have you hit your Zen through healing yet?

That is it for today, until next time. Happy Healing!

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So You Think You Can Raid

So You Think You Can Raid

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I caught the Vegas auditions last week for So You Think You Can Dance (and the results the next day). The judges can be so brutally honest sometimes. They possess a level of blunt truthfulness. Sometimes I wish I could be like that. As a guild master and a player, interaction and feedback is a daily occurrence.

Watching this weeks performance show (Bollywood was amazing, cha cha was really good and samba was just wow) and witnessing the judge comments reminded me that negative feedback does not always have to be harsh. It’s how you respond to it that matters.

Making the cut

This isn’t a post about getting through and making the guild (or raid). This is about the leadership perspective. We’re like judges. We evaluate and assess new recruits based on what we see. Sometimes we have to cut people. What sucks for us is that in a game that is dynamic and long lasting as this is the fact that evaluation is a constant.

When a guild recruits a player even as a trial, we do so hoping that the player meets or surpasses our expectations. When the challenges that a raid instance offers goes up (such as the gap from Naxxramas to Ulduar), there is an expectation that the player evolves and grows up in the same direction. Some players are able to do it admirably. Others just can’t. For whatever reason, they are not able to fulfill the level of technical skill that the encounter demands.

I especially want to direct this to struggling players who have been talked to by their leadership or fellow guildmates.

  • We’re not calling you dicks.
  • We’re not calling you morons.
  • We’re not calling you dipshits.
  • We’re not calling you assholes.
  • We’re not calling you humanity’s failures.

But we do recognize that you’re struggling. It would be disrespectful if that was simply swept under the rug and ignored. When you’re cut, it’s for a reason.

Why is it so difficult?

Cutting people from raids isn’t a feeling I take satisfaction from. It’s one of the worse things about this GM role. There’s something heartbreaking about telling a prepared raider that they’re not going to get the call up today. And at this point, I expect the whole this is just a game, stop taking it so seriously argument to crop up. Yeah, I understand it’s a game. But you’re still dealing with real people on the other end of it. It’s amazing how many people can lose sight of that. They’re not simple chess pieces on a board to be sacrificed on a whim.

It gets way harder when a person continues to be benched.

Is it the fact that the guild’s invested time and energy into getting them some gear to help out? No.

Is it because no one likes telling people they don’t get to go today? No.

Then what is it?

I’ve acted as a recruiter in no less than four different guilds. We watch new recruits and prospects. We try and carefully screen them as best we can.

What sucks for me personally is knowing that I spotted talent and potential in a player only to realize days or weeks later when they’re in our raids that I was completely wrong about them and their ability. No one likes to be wrong.

All the upper management types are scoffing. Understandable. They’re seasoned at the whole letting go thing. I’d probably be terrible as a manager or as HR. Heh, I’m still in my early 20s and you know that rule where everyone under 25 doesn’t know what they’re doing. I sure as heck don’t.

There is a limit

I hate to say it, but there’s a ceiling to the amount of effort that will be invested to help a player. Gear can only do so much.

Usually when a player is told that they need improvement and a strategy is devised to help them in that path, one of two things will happen.

Improvement: Player reads strategies, watches videos, talks with other players of that same class. Undergoes a noticeable level of change. Actually gets better and is able to respond to the challenges of raiding.

No improvement: Player reads strategies, watches videos, talks with other players. Does not improve at all. Level of skill stays stagnant. No signs of growth. Nothing happens. Doesn’t seem to care.

If a player improves, great! GM’s job or class officer or whoever’s it is is now complete! Mission accomplished! Congratulations! You helped Joe Mage get better!

But what about the alternative? What if they don’t?

You see, no amount of video watching, strat reading, image diagramming, peer discussion, or gearing up can make a player better. A player has to not only learn from what they’re absorbing but they have to act on it. I can watch any number of healing videos or read all the stuff on EJ’s. But if I don’t noticeably improve somehow, then there is no amount of anything in the world that can help. You have to find the way to battle through and prove that you can raid. If you can’t meet that threshold even with all the resources at your disposal, then there is nothing more that can be done. The onus is always going to be on the player to get better.

Not everyone can. Not every player is fit to raid. Hard mode is hard. Not every guild can successfully do it. I can’t arena for crap.

The next step after that is entirely up to you and your guild. Either they find a new role for you or you start shopping for a new guild or accept being permanently benched. I’ve had to reassign players before. They weren’t meeting the expectations that were set for them. Sometimes a change of scenery or position works wonders and they just so happen to fit in.

Negative feedback is hard to give. But it’s even harder to receive.

13 Express Methods to Wipe Your Ulduar Raid

13 Express Methods to Wipe Your Ulduar Raid

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It’s been done. Your main tank is dead. Your healing corps is decimated. It seems as though your stealthers continue to be found and shredded. Plate armor is sundered and scattered across the battlefield. The clothwearers torn apart with nothing left aside from their robes.

It’s a wipe.

What’s the best course of action you can take to assist your raid?

Suiciding yourself and wiping along with them.

Don’t give me the rallying cries of “Mimiron will never take me alive!” either. You can’t solo a boss unless he’s within one or two spell casts of death. How many times have I witnessed a player single handedly declare victory against a raid boss? I can count that number on one hand.

So don’t be a hero unless you can actually do it. Here’s how you can make yourself useful when a wipe’s called. Ever wondered what the fastest way to die on each boss was in Ulduar?

Oh and a special note to healers. When a wipe is called, there is thing that you have to actually do that can help hasten the process.

Stop fracking healing!

Flame Leviathan

Wipes when: You’re down to 3 choppers, no tanks, and maybe a few demolishers. Unless the bucket of bolts is at a ridiculously low level, you’re done.

Methods: Jump out and close within melee range of the boss. If the Flame Vent doesn’t get you, the rockets will.

Ignis

Wipes when: Main tank is dead with no other alternatives or when a Construct gets pulled into the raid and gets stupidly detonated taking out the entire crew.

Methods: Jump into a scorch. Cast a spell before Flame Jets connects. Hug a Brittle construct before blowing it up.

Razorscale

Wipes when: No tanks are alive and that big honkin’ Titan guy does what Right Said Fred sings by doing more than a little turn on the catwalk. Yes, I’ve seen pickup raids demolished by that one trash mob. Also consider a bailout when an off tank isn’t able to tank quick enough and the debuffs continue to stack too high on the main tank.

Methods: Go die in a fire. Literally. The blue fire will do the trick. Give big honkin’ Titan guy a hug. If it’s phase 2, the plan is to try to pop a breath mint into Razor’s mouth by getting in front of him. I’m sure he’d appreciate some juicy fruit when you’re being blasted with his Flame Breath.

Deconstructor

Wipes when: Completely pounds the crap out of your main tank. Or when Joe Paladin forgets to run out of the raid with a light bomb. Also happens when Deconstructor wolfs down some grilled repair bot burgers. Oh yes, and if your raid forgot to eat their wheaties this morning and managed to close in on the enrage timer.

Methods: See that guy that’s glowing white? Give him a big hug. Let’s not forget the guy in black and purple either. Run to him! Tantrums, when they occur, will auto-slaughter the raid.

Iron Council

Wipes when: One of the tanks gets Falcon (Fusion) Punched. Raid eats a green rune and is too slow getting out of it. Anytime those Iron Council folks are basking in blues of glory. There’s a multitude of causational factors that could lead to a wipe.

Methods: Do everything I mentioned in the last paragraph. Oh, and hug the small Iron Dwarf. He’s the lonely one of the bunch. Gets frequently picked on all the time. When he’s doing that Overload thing, he’s just trying to unload his problems. It doesn’t hurt.

Much.

Kologarn

Wipes when: Eyebeam fail. Stone grip fail. Tank-falls-off-ledge fail. No one in melee range of Kologarn fail.

Methods: Just repeat everything above. Stand in beams or jump off the ledge or run far away from him.

Auriaya

Wipes when: Not enough players absorb a sonic screech. Alternatively, difficulty with the pull. If you can master the pull you can master the boss. But the pull is what gets to raids.

Methods: Just get eaten up by the various cats. Stand in the void zone.

Hodir

Wipes when: Frozen blows dominates your entire raid. Tank dies. Raid doesn’t know how to either keep moving or watch for camp fires.

Methods: Stop moving. Avoid the big snow drifts and get flash frozen. Stand under falling icicles.

Thorim

Wipes when: Either the arena team doesn’t hold out long enough or the gauntlet team is too slow. In phase 3, it happens because a taunt’s not quick enough.

Methods: During the second phase, if you’re gauntlet, do run into the line of fire. Do stand next to the guy with the fire shield icon above him. If you’re in the arena, make some friends. During the third phase, dive into the lightning streams.

Freya

Wipes when: Have you heard the phrase:

“Oh what the frack. Who killed the Stormlasher/Snaplasher/Water elemental before the others were down?”

Yeah. Happens to us. Too anxious on the trigger finger. AoEing detonators is also a very bad idea…

Methods: …But AoEing detonators leads to a speedy death. If it’s on ‘shrooms, look for the player who is flashing lightning and stand next to them. Lashers are a bit of a pain to die to however. Freya’s one of the worse bosses to wipe on because it can take a while for everyone to die.

Mimiron

Wipes when: I don’t even know where to start. Missing tanks? Nuked healers? Not enough DPS? It could be any number or combination.

Methods: Here’s a quick list.

  • Phase 1: Run into land mines
  • Phase 2: Get up close to the boss. Let the fires engulf you or have the entire raid stand in one direction and simply eat the arcane guns.
  • Phase 3: Run into any bots you see. Bomb bots are great for this.
  • Phase 4: Run into land mines.

General Vezax

Wipes when: Healers run out of juice with no Saronite vapors around. Lack of interrupts on Vezax. Tank faces a super saiyan General Vezax who dishes out 50000 damage. Yeah. Happened to us before too. Not pretty.

Methods: Stand in a Saronite vapos for more than 7 ticks. Hug Vezax without interrupting anything. Let him warm you up some.

Yogg-Saron

Wipes when: Anything bad that can happen will happen. Players become magically blind to the color green. It happens.

Method: Run into clouds and run into the green beams emanating from Yogg-Saron.

Healing Ulduar: Thorim

Healing Ulduar: Thorim

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For other bosses in Ulduar, check the Ulduar Healing Strategy Page.

“Interlopers! You mortals who dare to interfere with my sport will pay… Wait–you… I remember you… In the mountains… But you… what is this? Where am–”

Thorim is the lord of storms, and brother to Loken. He is one of the Keepers of Ulduar.

The fight  is broken down into 3 phases, with phase 2 having two parts. First, lets see what Thorim can do.

Abilities

Sheath of Lightning – When the encounter begins, Thorim will coat himself in an almost impregnable sheet of lightning.

Charged Orb – Charges an orb in the arena with the power of storms. The tower will discharge Lightning Shock which can chain to multiple people in close range to eachother.

Lightning Shock / charged Orb Example:

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Storm Hammer – Thorim throws his hammer into the arena causing Deafening Thunder. It can interrupt your casting and places a debuff that increased casting times by 75% for 8 seconds

Summon Lightning Orb – Sends a ball of lightning down the corridor towards the players, laying waste to everything in it’s path.

Chain Lightning – Thorim casts a lightning bolt into the party that increases in damage the further it jumps.

Lightning Charge - Thorim absorbs the power of a nearby lightning orb and then discharges it in a cone back towards the orb he siphoned the power from. After the charge Thorim will hit faster and harder. This is a stacking buff, and acts as a passive enrage in phase 3

Lightning Charge example:

lightning-charge_phixr

Unbalancing Strike – Reduces the tanks defense by 200.

Enrage – When you start phase 2 you have 5 minutes to reach him before he enrages and clears the raid out.

Adds

Thorim has a lot of friends who want to play with you.

Runic Colossus

Ancient Rune Giant

Those two are like mini bosses. They don’t hit too hard.

Dark Rune Warbringer

Dark Rune Evoker

Dark Rune Champion

Dark Rune Commoner

Waves of trash will consist of these mobs.

Execution

The fight itself has 3 phased, with phase 2 having two parts.

Phase 1:

You enter the arena to see a giant Jormungur facing off against opponents of the opposite faction.

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They are easily dispatched and don’t really hit hard on tanks. Clean them up and get ready for phase 2.

Phase 2:

Phase 2 is split into two sections, a Ramp/Gauntlet group and an Arena / pit group. We’ll talk about the ramp group first.

The Ramp group will normally consist of one tank, seven DPS and two healers. Speed is the biggest factor here. The faster you get to the end of the hallway, the sooner you can start phase 3. For healers you want someone who can snap big heals, or heals on the move. We found that druids and holy paladins work incredibly well for the ramp group. Large effective heals and lots of mobility.

There will be three groups of Warbringers along your way and a giant golem at the end of the hall that sends death down one side at a time. We assigned someone to call out which side to move to. As a healer, don’t worry about keeping someone who stands in the line of fire from the golem alive, they’re going to die. It’s pretty easy to heal the Gauntlet, just keep the tank alive and burn through as fast as possible.

The Arena group has a it’s own tree of woe to deal with. The aforementioned adds will be flooding into the arena to get a piece of us would-be adventurers for ruining their entertainment. Easiest way to do it is have tanks set up an AoE pit in the center of the arena. We use three tanks (bear , paladin and warrior just for reference). The druid and the paladin tank the vast majority of the mobs while the warrior pulls the champions off to the side slightly (see triangle on the diagram) to keep them from whirlwinding the dps.

arena

Healers (blue circles) should spread out around the AoE pit to minimize the impact of the Storm Hammers. Priests should be ready to mass disspell the Runic Shield from the evokers. Group healing helps a lot in this part of the fight.  CoH, Chain heal, glyphed Holy Light and even Wildgrowth will help keep the dps in the AoE pit up. Just keep an eye on aggro happy AoE damage dealers though, sometimes warlocks like to explode without warning here. Healers that are spread out should watch for Lightning Orbs and be ready to move quickly, least they chain the damage to other players. If you get snap aggro from adds through healing, you should run through the AoE pit to give your tanks a chance to snag them with a taunt or even just Consecrate / Death and Decay to grab them. Continue to burn down the pit, picking off Evokers and Champions as you can until your ramp group reaches Thorim and starts phase 3. Name of the game is survival. Heal your rear off! keep everyone up, especially tanks and you’ll be good to go.

Phase 3:

Once you reach Thorim’s platform he jumps down into the arena. A tank has to pick him up right away while everyone else works on adds. Thorim hits reasonably hard when he connects so it is suggested to have a few healers on the tanks. Normally We put 3 healers on the two Thorim tanks, Druid, Paladin and a Disc priest have been wonderful for evening out damage and making Unbalanced Strike transitions easier.  As the fight goes on, Thorim hits harder and harder, much in the way of Gruul the Dragonslayer, but three healers should be enough to keep the tanks alive. The rest of the raid and healers need to be spread out around the room, more then 10 yard away from someone if you can. When Thorim Chain Lightnings, it can have disastrous results.

While you’re healing keep your eyes peeled for a white pulsing line going between him and one of the pillars. At this point, you want to run away from that line as quickly as possible. After the line is done energizing him, he will cast an arch of lightning in a 60 degree cone  towards wherever he pulled the power from. If you’re caught in it it will hurt. Stop your casting and move fast and then resume healing. The tanks will keep rotating so make sure they are topped off while your raid healers keep track of everyone else. Tank healers have to be careful to make sure they switch to the new tank quickly otherwise you run the risk of the new tank eating two large strikes back to back later in the fight.

In my opinion the hardest part of this encounter is phase 2 for arena healers. There is just a lot going on. There’s a ton of movement, a ton of raid damage and a ton of situational awareness needed to make it through. Heads up Healing comes in very handy in the arena as it lets you move before you’re splatted. It also helps you when you can see the mobs turn to go take out that AoEing warlock before they actually hit her (looking at you Jahadura!) and splatter their remains all over the arena floor. Once you get this part down, the rest of the encounter is no harder then anything else you’ve faced so far. Now for the good stuff.

Healer Items:

Once you free Thorim and he’ll leave behind the Cache of Storms, here’s some goodies he has

T8 Helm token

Scale of Fates – Trinket (Haste/Spellpower)

Pauldrons of the Combatant -Shoulders (Shamans)

Wisdom’s Hold – Shield (Paladins, Shamans)

Leggings of Lost Love – Legs (Priest, Druid)

Also a little poll here. My guild leader things Thorim sounds like Patrick Stewart, I think my guild leader is very mistaken. What do you guys think? Does Thorim sound like Patrick Stewart?

Until next time, Happy Healing

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