Mon 15 Dec, 2008
Wow… what a week. I can’t think of one that’s been much more productive than the last one. Well probably there have been, but that very first whirlwind of a week getting ready to raid is always overwhelming. You’re suddenly thrust into looking at enchants, elixirs/flasks and buffing foods. Its just a crazy time filled with rapid fire changes to your character, their gear and your perceptions.
Well I have to say I wasn’t sure I believed the few people I’d talked to about how easy it is to gear up. Heroics somehow feel a bit less heroic, but we’ve entered the realm of blizzard retuning the game for the more casual players. I’m not saying thats a bad thing. I’m saying I’m not used to it.
Back in Burning Crusade, you needed to log your time and make sure you had the best of what was available at level 70 before you ever even attempted to take on the heroics. Even then, you’d have to do the easiest heroics first and then slowly work your way through the harder and harder heroics while you farmed gear from the easier ones to prepare yourself for the harder ones. That is not the case anymore. I’ve now done about half of the heroics in about a week.
Last night we pounded through Halls of Stone and Halls of Lightning. While Loken (who is currently the most lethal mob in the game) gave us fits the first time around, we pounded him into oblivion the second time around and even earned the achievement for downing him in under two minutes.
We were very fortunate though. First we had a healer shaman. That is probably the perfect healer for this fight. Second we had a group that was very well versed in Karazhan and beyond. So most of the fights were just reduxes of raid fights. Sure they’ve been modified, but a lot of the fights are just kind of recycled with a twist. Loken is basically a mish mash of Murmur and one of the BC fights where you obtain static charges. Its overall not a difficult concept of a fight, but its definitely one that takes a lot more movement.
The shaman asked us when we wanted to pop heroism. Well as threat is a LOT less of an issue these days I elected for the “immediately” option. It was a good thing as it got us the Loken kill in under 2 minutes.
Those first tentative steps back into the world of high end tanking are kind of scary. I’ve really not done a lot of tanking for over a month or two. I’ve almost exclusively leveled alts and pretty much ignored tanking. So it was pretty scary stepping up and tanking my first few heroics. That fear is pretty quickly wearing away. When I started tanking heroics I only was able to field about 25k HP. That’s pretty dang low for a bear tank. Its quickly ramped up to about 32k self buffed. If you give me a priest buff and the warrior shout I cruise up to cool 37k. Now thats… exciting.
Its noticable as a feral druid that your DPS dips considerably when you aren’t using a DPS spec, but I’ve found that with the right gear swaps feral druids can do “reasonable” DPS as an off spec’d melee DPS. We oddly have a glut of tanks at 80. (Who ever thought they’d hear those words uttered???) It seems that blizzard’s changes to tanking is making more people think “tanking is fun!!!”. That’s a good thing.
Tentative Steps into Naxx
Well last week Friday I attended our first Naxx raid. Yes I said attended not ran. We have been very blessed. Our guild master is married to a gentleman who used to be in one of the top raiding guilds on our server. After having lived that life for a couple of expansions he’s decided being on that bleeding edge isn’t what he wants. But he brings with him a wealth of knowledge from having fought his way through Naxx when it required 40 people. So he helped us out by running the first couple of nights.
I got enough gear together that I felt comfortable tanking. I took up the position of off tank as I’m still working up my gear. Its almost there, but I’m really getting close. Our group composition is really very melee heavy at this point. Almost all of our top end DPS is melee at this point. We went in with 1 Warrior tank, 1 Druid tank (me), 1 Pally Healer, 1 Druid Healer, 2 DPS Warriors, 1 Ret Pally, 1 Death Knight, a Mage and a Shadow Priest. So as you can see… almost all melee.
How’d it go you ask? Well I think it went swimmingly.
Where’d you start?
Oddly enough we started in the plague quarter. We didn’t figure it would be healthy for us to start in the Spider quarter with our melee heavy group. The first raid boss is extremely unfriendly for melee. So Plague quarter it was.
Trash has some tricks, but while it took us a while to explain it this time around, I suspect in a couple of weeks, the trash is going to take us no time at all to clear. Its highly likely that the trash will become more of a footnote and less of a barrier like it was in Kara. The worst part is the run back… oh my god is the run painful in Naxx….. Now one other quick note on trash… the agro raidius is massive. I highly recommend staying way back if you are DPS or healer. Tanks have a hard time pulling with a gun as well… things agro from a mile away.
Progress? Did you make any?
Well on my first night there, we started in the Plague quarter and downed Noth. It took a bit of explaining, but overall Noth was pretty easy to master. It took us 4-5 tries just trying to figure out where the mobs spawn from and where to balance the tanks out and spread the DPS. It seemed like the mobs only spawned on the right hand side of the room. So we spread the off tank behind the healers on the right hand side. I’m almost pondering sticking the healers on the left side of the room to give the OT time to pick up the adds better.
From there we went on to the Deathknight quarter as our raid leader didn’t want to abuse the raid by learning the Safety Dance for Heigan immediately. The Deathknight quarter was not bad on Trash. There were a few mobs that were a pain, but the mobs immediately around Instructor Rasuvias were not bad at all. We started pulling 2-3 groups at a time just to save time as they hit so light. We hit a stumbling block on the first boss in the Deathknight wing. It wasn’t because we didn’t know how to do it… oddly it was a problem because the tanks had modified their interfaces sooo much. Both of us couldn’t dismiss our mind controls over the apprentices or see the bone armor debuff properly due to our mods. Thus we had to figure out some creative scripting that was done at the last minute. In case you are wondering what we did….
We typed the following into the command line before the fight started.
Then to launch it during the fight we would hit “enter” then “alt + up arrow” and it would recall the last command. That would dismiss our mind control and allow us to immediately right click and pick them up again. Once we nailed that, it was a very straight forward and easy fight. He still hits like a mack truck, but once we worked out that small detail it was more about timing the the bone armor that the apprentices have and the taunts.
Moving past that point we approached Gothik the Harvester. That is a fun fight. You split the raid between the “live side” and the dead side. As things die on the live side… they float to the dead side spawn and have to be killed a second time. We had a lot of initial problems with the fight. One side or the other would end up being overwhelmed. So after some trial and error we rebalanced the sides. What we finally ended up doing was setting up the dead side in a semi circle around the healer with their backs against the gate. This allowed the tank to protect the healer and prevented us from being slammed in the back when mobs spawned behind us.
I wasn’t able to attend the next night, but it sounded like a hell of a lot of fun. The raid group cleared the entire spider wing and also killed Patchwerks. Well to be honest… the holy pally struck the killing blow as Patchwerks systematically disassembled the raid during the enrage. So the last man standing on Patchwerks was the holy pally. Bravo!!! The raid also swung by to kill the Wintergrasp boss.
So at the end of the first hectic week of raiding… 7 bosses in Naxx are dead out of 16 and the Wintergrasp boss.
Whats On Deck?
Well looking forward into this week we’ve decided to tackle Sartharion and aim to get past the 50% mark in Naxx. We recognize that we are still undergeared for Naxx, but overall its been a very productive time in Naxx regardless. So hopefully tomorrow we’ll get Sartharion down and move through 3-4 bosses in Naxx. Then we’ll follow it up on Wednesday with learning some new bosses in Naxx.