Posts Tagged ‘Ulduar

27
May
09

Are You Ready for Ulduar?

He was not ready

Not ready

So last night I was chit chatting with a friend who mentioned that their last guild was still struggling on Saphirron, wiping four times before finally downing him.  The first thing I said after reading that sentence, without even thinking, was “They’re not ready for Ulduar”.  But what exactly is “ready for Ulduar”?  What makes a guild worthy of the purps that flow like honeyed wine from Ulduar’s vaulted chambers?  The question is more complicated than it first appears.

I’ll admit that the first reason that I said that without even thinking was that I truly believe that any guild ready for Ulduar should simply not be wiping on any fight in Naxx.  I’m not saying that only those with the immortal title are truly ready, but keep in mind that even the easiest fight in Ulduar is more complicated and difficult than anything you’ll see in Naxx.  Even Kel’Thuzad is somewhat precious in comparison to what you’ll face in Blizzard’s newest raid instance, though he’s not exactly a cupcake or anything.

Beyond simply not wiping, the fact is that Naxx, as the introductory raid for Wrath, should be somewhat of a litmus test for your guild.  You can’t declare yourself ready for the most difficult content before you are ready for the easiest, plain and simple.  The mechanics you learn are the equivalent of placing a bunch of cut outs of feet on the ground in order to learn a complicated dance.  They show you how to move and where to place yourself when the time comes for the real thing, making you better at what you do.

It’s also not just the average ilevel of your gear which will give you an indicator of whether or not you’re ready to face down the bosses of Ulduar.  Good gear only makes your abilities stronger and more capable of handing damage, but it doesn’t improve you.  Even if you’re wearing BiS in every gear slot, it won’t mean anything if you die within ten seconds of a boss pull.  If you don’t know where to stand and when to move, you might as well sit the raid out because you’re worse than useless at that point, no matter how awesome your staff looks.

Your achievements and/or previous boss kills are also not a good barometer for whether or not you’re ready for the next tier of content.  So what if you have A Poke in the Eye or Sarth 3D under your belt?  If you got those achievements while lying on the floor because you couldn’t be bothered to learn where to stand during certain phases, then you’re not ready.  Experience is a good thing, and any raider should want to experience all the end game content.  But it’s not everything, it won’t make you into a better raider unless you’re willing to learn from it.

So what does make you ready?  What is the benchmark?  Well, there are certain signs to look out for, but for the most part it has to be done on an individual evaluation of each of your raiders.  A guild where the top healer in Naxx can’t seem to stop casting when Ignis’ flame jets go off, wiping his raid because of a school lock, is not going to go very far at all.  If a majority of your DPS can’t learn when to stop attacking one target and quickly move to another will also generally go down in flames.  Your raiders have to know how to raid in Ulduar, you can’t just go through the motions.

Good leadership is also infinitely important during those first few forays into the new raid instance.  Weak leadership who is unwilling to call out raiders for stupid, easily avoided mistakes will see those mistakes over and over again.  They have to be willing to single people out, point out to the rest of the guild what is and is not acceptable and in extreme cases, even sit people.  They can’t be concerned with whether or not the guild likes them or wants to be their buddy, especially not if the guild is looking to progress beyond 3.0 raids.  

For example, the other night we had a player who came to raid without a flask, unable to min/max like we require from our raiders.  When called out, he admitted it and was told that since he wasn’t ready to raid, he had to leave because we had others waiting who were ready.  Now this guy is an OG, one of the guild originals and very good friends with the leadership.  But still, rules are rules and he was punished just like any other member of our raiding team would be.  He didn’t throw a fit or anything, simply said “ok” and left the raid.

So you see, it’s not about gear or experience or any of that, it’s about you, the player, and whether or not you are mentally prepared to be a raider.  A person in all blues who’s never done a raid before in his life but survives through to the end of every boss fight is going to be ten times more useful than a player in full epics who dies halfway through those same fights.  Naxx and OS with no drakes are very forgiving on those who don’t care about proper positioning and raiders can certainly play around in there.  But when it comes time to put your serious face on, you better be serious and you better be for the reals and prepared to dance the dance of boss fights.  If not, then you’re simply not ready for Ulduar.

-Dueg

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29
Apr
09

Nerfapalooza

nerf-gunI’m not sure if anyone’s really been paying attention lately, but it truly seems that Blizzard has gone nerf happy in the recent weeks.  According to a recent post from Daelo, they will be further reducing the difficulty of 6 different Ulduar bosses, including Ignis and Razorscale who have both already been nerfed a couple of times.  Now our guild has only managed to down Kologarn from the Antechamber so far, but to be fair, we only had one full raid night and two hours to get that far this week thanks to missing raiders at inopportune times.  Plus, we’d never been to Antechamber before.  Kologarn was a little rough, but once people settled down and got the rhythm of the fight down, we were able to blow him up no problem.

But are these new nerfs justified?  A week ago, I was writing about how rough Ulduar is compared to old content and though it was definitely hard, it was fun.  It was enjoyable to feel yourself getting both excited and nervous at the same time once more and for downing a boss to mean more than just three minutes work to me.  After faring so poorly the first week of Ulduar, our guild came back last weekend and walked right through the Siege mobs, one shotting 3 of them.  We were still sloppy on Razorscale and XT, but it was a show of progress that we were able to one shot both of them after wiping so spectacularly the week before.

I will admit that these mobs had received slight nerfs from the week before, mainly that the mobs on Razorscale were weakened, but none more so than Ignis.  For anyone who tried Ignis before the nerf, the guy absolutely raged on your guild thanks to bugs and over-tuning.  The mobs were a huge hassle to handle before thanks to timing and the severity of damage taken by the off tank.  But they had given it a substantial nerf and last week it was really more a matter of figuring out positioning (coming in this week’s Friday Strats!) until we downed him, the only boss in siege we wiped on.  Point is, all these fights felt challenging and hard, but now they were doable at least.

So let’s take a look at some of these changes.  First off, Ignis:  The interrupt effect and duration of the damage from Flame Jets has been reduced, the damage from the Slag pot has been reduced, the number of Heat stacks needed to transform an Iron Construct into a Molten state has been reduced, the base melee damage done by Ignis has been reduced, and the damage bonus Ignis receives from Strength of the Creator has been slightly increased.  They’ve reduced his damage again and I’m not sure why, to tell you the truth.  Our MT would take gobs of damage every once in a while, but it was nothing that was breaking our healers and slag pot damage was kind of a joke already.  The interrupt on Flame Jets was also reduced and though I can see slight merit to this, but I don’t think it was necessary as it was easy to avoid this effect if you paid attention.  Finally, by increasing the buff from Strength of the Creator, it really seems to me that they are trying to make this a fight where you have to bomb heals every once in a while on the MT.  A lot of unnecessary nerfs here, imo.

For XT-002: The duration of Tympanic Trantrum has been reduced, the timer for XT-002 to hit berserk has been increased, the damage of Light Bomb has been reduced, the effect radius of Light Bomb has been reduced, and the health of XM-024 Pummeler has been reduced.  These are some interesting changes, especially the reduction of Tympanic Tantrum length.  That was a real raid killer ability and one that definitely tested the healers.  This may be a good change, as long as it’s not reduced to the point where it’s trivial.  The light bomb changes I find mixed as the radius was only 10 yards and if you planned properly for places for people to go, you were ok, but the damage could come at an unlucky time.  These changes were slightly warranted, considering that it was all too easy to lose a random raid member to bad light bomb / tantrum timing.  A reduction of hp to any add mob is good to me.

For Kologarn: The damage of Stone Grip has been reduced, the amount of time to break someone out from the right hand has been increased, the radius and damage of Rumble has been reduced, and the damage of Focused Eyebeam has been reduced.  The damage reduction and lengthening of Stone Grip will be most welcome in our raid, but again, I’ll wait to see the actual benefits of this nerf.  The reduction of damage and radius to rumble will also be quite welcomed as if this came during a shockwave, it could be disastrous for the raid.  The damage of Focused Eyebeam being reduced is a bit of a god send for people who can’t figure out how not run through your fellow raiders and get them killed.  This fight was rough with a lot of crazy raid damage flying everywhere, so these can help with inopportune timing of his various AoE damage abilities.

For Assembly of Iron: The damage of Rune of Death has been reduced, the damage of Chain Lightning has been reduced, and the damage of Lightning Whirl has been reduced.  Now we haven’t gotten any attempts in on this for 25 man, but let me tell you, even on 10 man the rune of death could be a raid killer if your people weren’t quick.  It’s mainly to do with the fact that the radius is so huge so you will get hit with a tick or two if you’re in the center of it.  I can only imagine how rough it must have been for 25 mans.  A damage reduction to their other AoE abilities didn’t seem necessary in 10 man, but I’d have to get it down in 25 man to get a feel for it there.

Also they snuck this in there: The effectiveness of the Priest spell Divine Hymn has been reduced.  You coulda at least reduced the cooldown timer, you sons of bitches.

I don’t know about these changes, honestly.  The problem before was that the siege area was a bottleneck for guilds and I think that it was due to overtuning of the encounters in the beginning.  But they seem to be severely nerfing it and what a lot of people are feeling right now is that Blizzard is trying to make it accessible to a lot more players than it seemed to be for.  A lot of people, and you can call them elitists if you want to, feel that this might be going too far though.  Players have a raid that they can play around in already and if you want to come to Ulduar, well, that’s the big kid’s playground.  However, I will say that it feels as though these nerfs are taking all the sharp edges off of Ulduar, making it more forgiving.  But is that good?

-Dueg

23
Apr
09

Ten Men’s Worth

Pictured: A group of real professionals.

Pictured: A group of real professionals.

Last week when Ulduar was released we did what almost every guild has done so far and immediately made the switch to 25 man Ulduar.  The decree had gone out that we would no longer be doing old content as most of us were quite fed up with doing so.  But aside from the 25 man attempts, one brave set of intrepid explorers stood apart from the others and declared their intention of being a scouting party for the rest of the guild.  These valorous souls, including one plucky priest you all may be somewhat familiar with (hint: it’s Dueg), decided that they would be the vanguards, the first to plant a dispenser deep into Ulduar’s frozen heart.  Yes, we made a 10 man.

We picked out some of our better raiders and being the only regular healy priest (making me the best healy priest in the guild, woo!), I got to get in on this group.  With our weapons held tight and our hearts beating a staccato rhythm, we delved deep into the frosted halls of Ulduar.  Our spells landed with dexterous precision and our blades sung to the tune of battle as we were able to down 10 of the 13 normal bosses in the raid, and got plenty of attempts in against Mimiron.  Some great loot was picked up and there was much frivolity and hilarity among all of us on vent.  But aside from the loot and the lawlz, there was another reason for us to get a jump on the zone.  Experience.

Something that I find more than stellar with the new raiding system is the concept of 10 and 25 man zone that are the same, just tuned differently.  However, the fights are usually almost exactly the same as far as mechanics involved with only a change to hp or number of mobs or damage dealt is changed.  This is important because basically it allows you to run a 10 man Ulduar and see all the fights the same way you would see them in 25 man.  It allows you to learn the steps to the dance that is the encounter before you go to the big gala ball that is the 25 man version.  You get enough raiders who know what they’re doing on 10 man version and you should be able to start taking down 25 man bosses easier despite gear deficiency.

But does this cheapen the 10 man experience?  For some guilds that are smaller with maybe only about 12 to 15 active raiders on at a time, 10 mans are a god send.  You get to see everything there is to be seen, but you don’t have to go through the hassle of wrangling 25 people’s schedules.  Some may say that 10 mans are actually more challenging because every single one of your raiders has to be on the ball and know what they’re doing or else you’ll ride the fail train all night long.  This used to be true, but with Ulduar’s release it feels like Blizzard is trying to do away with that and make 25 mans the most challenging content in the game.  10 mans are no cakewalk compared to it, but 25 mans aren’t the zerg rush they used to be either.

So the way I see it, 10 mans are going to truly become a stepping stone for getting into 25 man content.  Not just because of gear limitations but because they will be sneak peeks into how the 25 man raid will work in terms of where to expect burst damage, what fight needs more focus on heals or dps or where to move, etc etc etc.  By instilling these experiences into your raiders before they reach the 25 man level, they will be able to better handle whatever comes their way.  It certainly helped with us.

Last week we were terrible in 25 man content.  We went three nights and only downed 2 bosses.  We only had one ten man group going at this point who had cleared out the Siege of Ulduar area before we got to our second 25 man raiding night and on that night you could tell who those people were.  The ten people were more vocal on vent, able to let people know tips and procedures that had been mapped out the previous nights when we did the work on 10 mans.  You could still see people struggling as they got the necessary experience, but you could also begin to see things click into place.  Those people who had already been in the 10 mans were also the ones consistently surviving till the end of the fights.

This week we have two 10 man groups scheduled and the one with the most newer members went in Tuesday night before our usual Wednesday raid night.  As a ten man they were able to advance past the Siege of Ulduar area as well and move into the Antechamber portion of Ulduar.  Then on Wednesday a curious thing happened.  So many people in the raid had actually had experience not just fighting but also downing bosses that we appeared to know what we were doing.  We one shotted Flame Leviathan, Razorscale and the Deconstructor and I think we only wiped on Ignis about four or five times while working on strats and placement.

I believe that we’ve progressed so far from last week (going from only killing two bosses to one shotting three and clearing two new ones in one night) because of the ten man experience that more of our guildies have under their belts.  It has made a difference and we’ll most likely schedule two more ten man groups to go in next week as well, though I don’t think we’ll be doing it again after that.  It is worth mentioning that Blizzard has tuned some of the bosses via nerfing with the mini patch they did, but it still surprised me to see one shotting going on.  So tell me, gentle jerkwads, is your guild practicing on ten mans or is it business as usual and they’re only interested in 25 man content?  Drop me a comment and let me know!

-Dueg

22
Apr
09

Wish I May, Wish I Might, Loot These Purps I Want Tonight

star14Khaeli of Shadow Weaving posted an excellent guide to people looking to gear out their Discipline Priest post 3.1.   It’s an excellent post and I suggest you look it over even if you’re a holy or shadow priest in order to get a good look at what could be given priority for you to shoot for.  Since it’s mainly geared towards Discipline priests, though, it’s not too much help for the other priestly varieties.  No matter though, for I shall shamelessly steal her idea and make Dueg’s own wish list!

I did get to dive into 10 man Ulduar last week and while there was able to down Flame Leviathan, Razorscale, Ignis, XT-002 Deconstructor, The Assembly of Iron, Kologarn, Hodir and Thorim.  Unfortunately, I did miss out on two fights thanks to having to leave early one night, and we were unable to down Mimiron though we got plenty of attempts on him (that guy is straight up crazy).  However, there was one underlying theme through all these fights.  No loot for Dueg.  It was terrible.

So I’ve been spending the last few days doing some research as it’s been coming in in order to try and figure out where all the good stuff is.  Now this list is going to be incomplete for the moment due to the fact that not all of the bosses have had their loot tables thoroughly explored.  But from what I’ve seen so far, I’ve got a good idea who’s going to be dropping things to make Dueg say squee.  So I present to you, Holy Dueg’s Super Fun Happy List of Ulduar Boss Drops for Holy Priest Fun:

The Siege of Ulduar

Flame Leviathan

Possibly the most fun fight in Wrath at the moment, this one involves hopping on some vehicles and blowing the crap out of a bunch of dwarves and buildings and then taking on a massive tank at the end of it.  Three different flavors of vehicles means people get to have a lot of different jobs.
10  Man
Energy Siphon – I would only recommend picking this up if you are just desperate for mp5, otherwise leave it for the shamans, I hear they like that sort of thing.
Lifespark Visage  – A very nice piece of gear, but the first of what I believe might best be thought of as mage gear in Ulduar.  With the current changes to the mage class, they like spirit, but they don’t need it droves like we do.  Since this item only has half as much spirit as int combined with haste, it might be better served on a mage or warlock’s head.
25 Man
Constructor’s Handwraps – You want these, you want these bad.
Embrace of the Leviathan – A solid upgrade to start the raid with, comparable towards Leash of Heedless Magic from Maly.
Growing Ring of Reclamation – Reclaim this if you get a chance.
Boots of Fiery Resolution – Drops from the hard mode version of this fight, I couldn’t find how many towers had to be up for it.  These are a solid upgrade and currently better than any other pre 3.1 boots.

Razorscale

This fight is best described as “mobile.”  Adds spawn randomly along the outside of this platform you’re fighting on.  You gotta shoot her down with harpoons to land her then dps her to 50% before she’ll stay down permanently.  While she’s in the air she shoots people with fireballs and the blue ones leave a flaming circle on the ground that will kill you pretty quick.  You have to be aware and ready to move instantly.
10 Man
Binding of the Dragon Matriarch  – Definitely grab this if it comes across your plate.
Eye of the Broodmother – This is an extremely sweet little trinket and I would most definitely recommend picking it up for the effect if you don’t already have a similar effect.
25 Man
Shackles of the Odalisque – This is a fantastic little piece of spirit gear right at the front of the zone.
Guiding Star – Comparable to the KT mace, Definitely  go for it if you have a chance, but you might be better served looking for something with crit over haste.

Ignis the Furnace Master

This fight has been buggy as hell since it was first released, but has been hotfixed and should conceivably be all better.  He hits hard but won’t be two-shotting your tanks anymore.  Occasionally he rushes a raid member and drops them into his slag pot, dealing some crazy burst damage to them that if they’re kept alive through will leave a haste buff behind.  Other than that, it’s about controlling their adds and mmaking sure your positioning is on the ball.
10 Man
Igniter Rod – A fantastic little off hand for you, I would recommend grabbing it as soon as you can.
25 Man
Pyrelight Circle – With a mix of haste and crit, this might be a nice item to grab, even without the spirit.  Just don’t give up too much spirit for me.
Scepter of Creation – Highly recommended.  A very solid upgrade.

XT-002 Deconstructor

This is an interesting fight that involves getting him to 75, 50 then 25% health, at which point he spits out his heart which you then have to dps.  You can’t kill the heart or else you enter hard mode and you can’t dps too much or else he’ll re-enter heart phase very quickly and you’ll get overwhelmed by adds that spawn while his heart is exposed.  He also occasionally throws a tantrum that does a LOT of AoE damage, so healers have to be ready for that or else you’ll lose a couple of raiders.  It’s a tight dps race that takes fine tuning.
10 Man
Conductive Cord – Very nice crit belt, grab it if you can.
Plasma Foil – This is a sweet healing dagger, one of the few you’ll ever see.  Pick it up, but it’s not better than some of the old BiS items for main.
25 Man
Mantle of Wavering Calm – With haste over crit, I’m not sold on this.  There are better items out there, but this is a solid upgrade.
Charm of Meticulous Timing –  This is better than the current BiS in the game,but drops from hard mode, so not exactly easy to get.

The Antechamber of Ulduar

The Assembly of Iron

This fight involves three mobs and is also a slightly mobile fight.  These mobs gain buffs based on the order you kill them in and there’s a lot of mobile AoE damage.  Be aware, look for burst damage and you have to dispel any and every debuff you can as quickly as possible.  In fact, we had to assign a dedicated dispeller to the tank or else he would die.
10 Man
Runetouch Handwraps – another one of the mage items I was speaking of earlier.  With the lower spirit bonus, I’d recommend looking for something a little better.
Watchful Eye – I’d prefer crit, but with the gem slot and the spirit, might not be too bad of an upgrade.  More dps oriented I’d say though.
Lady Maye’s Sapphire Ring – This feels more like a healer ring with haste on it to me than the previous one.  A solid upgrade.
Stormtip – A solid main hand upgrade for a healer, but again, my philosophy leans more towards crit bonus.
25 Man
Unblinking Eye – I stare longingly at this for hours.
Rapture – This is a solid staff upgrade choice.  I will be gunning for this hard.
Raiments of the Iron Council –  Feels more dps oriented, but worth a look if you’re still in Naxx gear.
Sapphire Amulet of Renewal –  This is a pretty sweet neck and would be a solid upgrade.  Drops from hard mode.

Kologarn

This guy is a giant stone construct that blocks a bridge.  You have to move when he shoots laser eyes at you that you can sort of see coming or else you’ll take spike damage.  We one shotted this guy and I never got hit with the eye beams, so I was mostly focused on health the whole time.  a tip I can give you is that if you get too close to him, you will definitely fall off the edge, so be aware of that.
10 Man
Spark of Hope – …maaaybe.
25 Man
Handwraps of Plentiful Recovery – A solid haste piece for hand slot.
Ironmender – Another solid haste piece, this one for your off hand frill.

Auriaya

I only got to do a few wipes on this mob.  She pats with a couple of adds who can pounce on raid members and will seriously mess your raid up.  You have to bunch up in front of her because of an AoE ability that needs to split damage among your raid.  She also mass fears, so be ready to run back into position asap.  Shadow prot is a must for this fight.
10 Man
Mantle of the Preserver – This is a very solid upgrade for your shoulder area.
Nurturing Touch – Solid upgrade for the wand slot, also very geometrical.
25 Man
Sandals of the Ancient Keeper – Definitely try to grab these, they are quite delicious.

The Keepers of Ulduar

Freya

Unfortunately I was not present for this fight, but I hear it’s very doable once you understand the mechanics.
10 Man
Valorous Gloves of Sanctification – The new tier gear, this is definitely worth picking up.  Try to get the two piece bonus if you can, but the 4 piece will most likely not be super attractive for a holy priest.
25 Man
Conqueror’s Leggings of Sanctification – This is a fantastic upgrade, of course, I would prefer a crit bonus, but I’d still try to pick these up.
Boots of the Servant – A solid upgrade for your toosies.
The Lifebinder – There are some better options out there, but a good staff if you’re still holding Naxx gear.

Hodir

This is another mobile fight involving chunks of ice falling from the ceiling and keeping adds un frozen and making sure you’re standing in the correct spots.  It’s not too difficult, we were able to two shot him on 10 man, but you do have to be alert and ready to move.
10 Man
Valorous Leggings of Sanctification – The ten man version of the tier leggings.  There’s better loot in the game, pre Ulduar, but this is a good upgrade otherwise.
Icecore Staff – This drops from the hard mode, which is basically means how fast you kill him.  This is a very solid upgrade and you should definitely try to pick this bad boy up.
25 Man
Conqueror’s Robe of Sanctification – I will definitely be shooting for this bad boy.
Staff of Endless Winter –  Possibly the new BiS for staves, this one drops from hard mode in heroic.

Thorim

This was our best fight on 10 man, managing to one shot him with no deaths.  One group runs a gauntlet to get up to Thorim himself  while the other keeps some mobs in the arena busy.  Once they reach Thorim he jumps down into the arena and the entire raid engages him.  I was in the arena group with a pallie and we had a tree go with the gauntlet group.  There’s a lot of AoE damage and tanks have to be quick to pick up adds.
10 man
Valorous Shoulderpads of Sanctification – The tier shoulder piece, this is not a very solid upgrade what with the low spirit and red gem slot.  Feels like it leans more towards a disc priest.
Handwraps of Resonance – This is an excellent upgrade for any holy priest.
Leggings of Unstable Discharge – There are better drops pre 3.1 in the game, but this is a very nice upgrade if you can snag it.
Sif’s Remembrance – I would very much like to have this, please.  Comes from hard mode though.
25 Man
Conqueror’s Cowl of Sanctification – A very, very solid new head piece, go go ninja priest!
Leggings of Lost Love – These are another solid upgrade, try to grab yourself a pair.
Scale of Fates – A nice new SP trinket, the on use proc could definitely come in handy in sticky situations. 

Mimiron

I have done a lot of wiping on this one and let me tell you, he is extremely difficult.  There is a lot of spike damage flying around, a lot of movement is necessary to keep fro getting one shotted, and raid damage flies around like crazy.  It’s a matter of knowing your raid team, being on the ball and making sure you have the right composition of players at your disposal.  I feel Mimiron will become the final door for a lot of guilds before they enter the Descent into Madness area of the zone.
10 Man
The normal mode of Mimiron drops the same ten man gloves token, the same as Freya.
Pulse Baton – An excellent mace upgrade, try to grab this if it drops.
25 Man
Conqueror’s Gloves of Sanctification –  The 25 man version of the tier gloves, I’m not sure why Blizzard is putting so much haste all over the gear here.  I think there are better crit options out there, though these are a strong upgrade no matter what.
Asimov’s Drape  – I would pick this up for the name alone, good thing it’s a pretty awesome item otherwise.

The Descent into Madness

General Vezax

I haven’t seen anything for this fight, sorry.
10 Man
Vestments of Piercing Light – Slightly better than current BiS, definitely get this if you can.
Underworld Mantle – Defintiely try to get you dirty little mitts on this bad boy
25 Man
Mantle of the Unknowing –  This is a fantastic upgrade.
Scepter of Lost Souls –  Even though there’s no spirit on these, it has a boatload of crit and haste and sp mixed in.  Very attractive.
Handwraps of the Vigilant – Drops off of hard mode, these look a contender for new BiS, and I’d be surprised if there was better.

Yogg-Saron

Again, little is known about this fight and I certainly haven’t seen it.
10 Man
He drops the tier set for shoulders, same as earlier. 
Treads of the Dragon Council – There are better items out there, but not too many.
25 Man
Conqueror’s Shoulderpads of Sanctification – Like the 10 man version, I feel this fit more for a disc priests gear, but still extremely good for holy priests.
Cowl of Dark Whispers – I am in love.
Shawl of Haunted Memories – This cape is something you will never want to let go.
Vanquished Clutches of Yogg-Saron – This is a sweet sweet load of crit, but I don’t see the proc being too useful for a healer class.

Celestial Planetarium

Algalon the Observer

lol

-Dueg

21
Apr
09

Don’t Fear the Reaper

Your new Best Friend

Your new best friend

So as I’ve been flitting from post to post to post among the priestly community here on the blogosphere, there has been one prevalent theme amongst them all.  Ulduar is fun, but it’s rough and most fights result in multiple wipes.  Plenty of guilds are butting their heads against bosses and spending whole nights trying their best to get them down with mixed results.  Because of this, plenty of guilds are becoming reacquainted with an old friend that they may not have seen too much since the days of BC raiding, the Mighty Reaper, Wiper of Guilds, and Crusher of Newbs.

Another consensus that seems to be floating about regarding this ugly friend though is that some people are glad to see him again.  The constant threat of danger and ever growing challenge of the content is perceived as a good thing by a raiding community that feels a lot of people have grown soft suckling at the teat of easy lewtz that was Naxxramas.  It’s also serving to slowly bring into light areas where people need improvement and maybe problem people in the guilds who just aren’t going to be able to cut the mustard as far as Ulduar is concerned.  Yes, for the moment, wiping on bosses is back in style and it seems to be serving it’s purpose.

But there is a limit.  When a raid group sits down and hashes out the strats for a coming encounter for the first time and a majority of the people who are there are doing it for the first time, there’s a sense of excitement.  People want to see how things work, want to throw their heals or dps around and feel like they’re making a difference in the raid group.  Then the first wipe comes.  It’s all gravy though.  Maybe one person showed themselves to not be listening in vent, or a couple were so occupied with how awesome that boss looks when it engages in phase 2 that they let their dps slip slightly.  

It’s not too big of a deal, because no one expects to one shot a boss the first time they’ve ever seen it.  Then comes the second wipe.  Hopefully people are not doing the same things like standing in a fire or getting distracted by unimportant fight mechanics.  Maybe the fight is explained again for those who weren’t paying close attention the first time, but either way people might seem to be getting it at least and moving in the right direction.  Then comes the third wipe and now things are becoming a little clearer.

Perhaps raider X is constantly dying to a fire because he just doesn’t realize how quickly you have to move out of it.  Maybe someone is too concerned with movement, knowing that to stand still for too long could mean death, so their dps is suffering for it.  The multiple wipes might even start to let you know who needs better gear or who has issues with raider awareness, but no matter what, the point is that wiping can be a good thing.  It’s part of the process of beginning to understand how to accomplish a fight and where your strengths and weaknesses lie and every good guild needs to know that.  Once weak links become obvious, they also become easier to fix.

But there is another side to wiping besides improvement.  I can lead to the most vile and wicked of all beasts, one that every good raider fears because of it’s abilities to rip guilds apart.  I speak, of course, of the dreaded Drama Llama.  In the beginning wiping is part of the game, but once you hit the first, second or third hour of wiping, people begin to lose the attitude of “how can we improve?” and start to morph that to “ok, who’s fucking up?”.  When the baleful eye of officers starts landing on repeat offenders with more and more weight, that’s when issues can arise.

Let’s face it, no one like to be called out, and certainly no one wants to be spoken to in a rude or accusatory tone.  I know in my guild, the best way I can describe my officer’s attitudes is “no nonsense”.  We have a couple who are a little harsher than the others, but they won’t unnecessarily call someone out or brow beat anyone and I have never seen them be unfair to any one raider.  Usually it’ll consist of something along the lines of “Dueg, you’ve died in the fire on the first five attempts here (true story, sigh), you need to fix that”.  Of course, this was true and I felt embarrassed and stupid about it myself and was already working to increase my raiding performance, but some people don’t see it that way.

You’ll have multiple types of personalities that will begin to surface at this point.  But let me make this one hundred percent clear, if you blame your poor performance on another raider, either directly or indirectly, you are gearing up to be a drama llama.  Nothing will get you on a healer’s blacklist (and yes, we do have them) quicker than excusing your death by saying “I didn’t get any heals”.  Of course you didn’t get any heals, if you got heals, you’d be alive now, wouldn’t you?  You’d also maybe have gotten them if you hadn’t stood in the fire that kills you in less than two seconds.  Ahem, but I digress.  The point is that if you’re making mistakes during wipes, you should own up to them and resolve to do better.  If someone isn’t doing their job correctly, whether it’s tanks, heals or dps, it’s going to become obvious and people will know.

So now I ask you, gentle jerkwads, how goes the wiping for you so far?  Is it something that’s improving your guild, slowly turning your group of raiders into well oiled machines who are ready for Yogg-Saron?  Or is it slowly but surely revealing the cracks in your foundation by pointing out problem players or causing accusations to fly?  Whatever the answer, I think there’s only one solution really, and that’s more cowbell.

-Dueg

20
Apr
09

Will Ulduar Break You?

Pictured: Ulduar

Pictured: Ulduar

So last night was our guild’s third night in Ulduar and our guild leader was forced to sit down and have a little heart to heart with our guild.  After two full nights in Ulduar and only getting Flame Leviathan down, we were showing ourselves to be painfully below Ulduar standards.  To be fair, the difficulty is way ramped up and it’s just not the loot pinata that Naxx has been.  Also, if what Blizzard has been stating is true, then having full Naxx gear combined with WotLK dragon loot in every slot still puts you at barely ready for the 25 man raid gear-wise.

But that wasn’t the only problem.  As everyone knows, Naxx was laughably easy compared to old raiding content.  Even Blizzard has admitted that they may have screwed the pooch by making it a total cakewalk.  Anyone who had mastered the basic concept of “stand here,” “run there,” and “cast this” could conceivably be picking up KT loot after a four hour investment regardless of how much raiding awareness and skill they actually had.  Hell, you could PuG it, something that hadn’t been seen since they nerfed Kara in order to get people ready for Wrath.

The main problem with this, according to our guild leader and the officers, which I agree with, is that it has bred bad habits and complacency into our raiders.  The easiness of the fights meant people didn’t really need to bring their A-game anymore once we had placed Naxx on farm in order to get their weekly purples.  Consumables didn’t matter, flasks were whatever and min/maxing was something to consider, but not necessary in order for people to “succeed” at raiding pre-3.1.  

It wasn’t just gear either, people could get away with being a step too slow or only half paying attention to what was going on on their screen during a boss fight.  It felt like out of any given 25 man raid, you only needed between 10 to 15 people to really pay attention in order to carry the raid.  Hell’s bells, there have been several occurrences of Naxx bosses being downed by 2 people, and not just the 10 man versions, the 25 man ones.  Ponder that for a moment, a boss meant to be killed by 25 people is instead downed by 2 who’s only obstruction was how much time they had on their hands.

But that’s just not the way of WoW anymore.  You can’t kill any of the bosses with just a tank and a healer, you need a whole raid.  Even more so, you need a well geared raid that’s on the ball, aware of what’s going on around them and keeps their mistakes to a minimum if they make any at all.  Dying in a fire not only makes you look like a jack-ass now, but could conceivably wipe the raid, especially during these first few exploratory weeks when every single dps or healer or tank makes a difference.  So it was on this subject that our GL spoke to us about.

The main point of the discussion beyond the usual “stop fucking up” that you’ll usually hear from those types of spiels is that min/maxing is no longer optional.  If you want to raid with <NEED A DISPENSER HERE>, you better have a stack of consumables and enough flasks to last you through the night.  Your enchants had better be top notch, even if the mats cost you a lot of gold.  And you better be prepared to sit out on raiding for the night if someone else has put in the extra effort over you.  Simply put, we won’t be carrying anyone anymore.  This ain’t yo momma’s raids anymore.

There were the usual grumblings over this and cries of “that’s not fair!” and people upset that they wouldn’t be allowed to get away with letting 24 other people do the work so they could get epics.  However, I must say that I agree with this.  There’s a place for casual raiding in the game now and that place is Naxxramas.  If a guild wants to progress in Ulduar, they have to shed that ambiguous idea of “casual.”  They must become a team that cares about doing better than they previously did or else they might as well just consider Sarth 3D the apex of the game and consider WoW beaten once they get the Twilight Vanquisher title.

We’re gonna be organizing some 10 mans this week and trying to get people some more proper gear and practice for 25 mans, but for some people, Ulduar has already broken them.  We’ve had 3 gquits since 3.1 hit.  One who wasn’t sure if he wanted to be a raider anyways, one who thought we were dicks for expecting people to perform and one who felt he just wasn’t up to snuff for Ulduar.  Though I hope it won’t be the case, I’m fairly certain that we might shed a few more raiders along the way.  So I ask you, now that it’s been out for a full week and most people have had a chance to at least give Ulduar a taste, do you think it will be a bump in the road that will eventually be overcome, or will it break you like the weak, capitalist pig you truly are?

-Dueg

16
Apr
09

First Impressions of Ulduar

its-beautifulSo last night <NEED A DISPENSER HERE> made it’s first foray into Ulduar as a 25 man raid group and just about two words sums it up so far:  Fucking.  Hard.  Well, let me start from the beginning.  We got into the zone and took about 20 to 25 minutes to get everyone organized and ready for the Flame Leviathan fight.  Not so long really when you think that we had to explain the fight to everyone and organize teams of people for the vehicles really.  

Then the gauntlet started and we decided since it was our first time through we’d just go ahead and knock over all four towers and do it on easy mode since only ten of us had gotten to see it the night before.  Thanks to a limited understanding on what buttons did what, one of our siege engines ended up taking a flying leap off into space at one point, but other than that we were able to get to the Leviathan without too many problems.

So in the first fight I was one of the healers nominated to be thrown onto the back of the leviathan in order to help keep the ranged dps alive.  For anyone not in the know, the Leviathan starts to pick up steam at a certain point in order to try and ram your siege engines and demolishers.  In order to reset this stacking speed boost, you have to throw dps onto the leviathan itself from the back of demolishers in order to destroy the turrets on his back and they have to press a big red button after that which overloads it’s circuits and causes it to sit still and take increased damage.  You also want to send a couple of healers with them because they’ll be taking damage while sitting on his back and will die if it’s just the dps.  

So I got catapulted up there but the other healer was killed mid flight and only one of the dps made it onto his back because of further limited understanding of what buttons do what and how to get catapulted.  Thankfully we were able to teleport directly to the Leviathan’s concourse area and after a little more explaining we brought down this boss on the second shot with almost no problems.  This boss on easy mode is VERY easy I’d say.  Next week we’ll probably leave at least one tower up to make it a little more challenging and try to increase the loot a little bit.  Unfortunately, no caster gear for holy priests dropped, but there was a very nice caster neck piece and some plate gear.

So we move forward and decide we’ll give Razorscale an attempt next.  We buff up explain strats, everyone gets set and runs in and Dueg immediately dies in a fire.  You know, for fun.  Seriously though, this fight is chaos incarnate and extremely heal intensive, making for a not fun fight for healers.  The gist of the fight is that there’s a proto drake flying around above the raid that needs to be brought down by harpoons that a bunch of dwarves are fixing.  Once you fire four of the harpoons (which break again after you fire them thanks to shoddy workmanship), it will ground Razorscale for a limited amount of time and once she hits 50% life she’ll stay permanently grounded.  

However, while they’re fixing the harpoons, all these iron dwarves are popping up from the underground and charging them and the raid.  Oh yeah, and also the proto drake is spitting fireballs and occasionally one of those fireballs is blue and will leave behind fire on the ground that tics you for 5k in damage every second.  Not to mention the initial hit is about 5k in damage, so basically you will take 10k damage in the course of a second and if you don’t move immediately will most likely die.  Instant heals are your friend here.

Now I’ll admit it, I was effin terrible at this fight in ten man and didn’t show much improvement in 25 man until our third or fourth attempt when I was finally able to figure out how to avoid running through fire.  However, I was openly ridiculed for my lack of raid awareness and rightfully so.  One thing my guild was noticing though is that this fight seems to be insanely overtuned for the average guild.  

Not only is there intense and brutal raid damage, but some of the mobs also cast chain lightning which will hit about five or so targets for crazy damage.  After learning to avoid fire, I died twice to being hit by a fireball and getting chain lightninged pretty much at the same time.  Plus there’s a crazy ass pantload of adds and usually by the time we grounded her the second time, we were getting overrun by the adds.  The fight is fun, but it honestly felt to me like you need a raid fully geared in Ulduar purps to be able to get this boss down.

So we tried Razorscale a few times and decided to give Ignis the Furnace Master a try in order to shake things up.  Now this guy had a reputation for being a joke on the PTR, which leads me to believe that Blizzard wanted a “who’s laughing now?” moment by way way overtuning this guy.  First off, he absolutely crushes the tank and was regularly hitting our bear for 35k melee shots.  That’s not a typo, 35,000 damage in one shot.  Yeah, healers, start your weeping.  

He also occasionally uses an ability called flame jet that if your casting the moment it goes off, it locks you out of that school for about 8 seconds.  I got around this by casting instant spells when he started casting this ability.  When it goes off he also tosses the raid up in the air and hits them with a DoT, so Binding Heal is definitely in order after you land in order to keep yourself and the tank up. 

Occasionally he’ll also grab someone from the raid and throw them in this smelting pot he’s carrying that burns the hell out of them and they must be healed through.  The damage isn’t too rough though and you can keep casting while you’re in it, so if you’re a healer, try to keep yourself healed.  Unfortunately there’s a small bug that should’ve been hotfixed last night that was causing him to occasionally melee the person he picked up and threw in the pot which meant he was one shotting random people.

Another part of the fight is that he summons golems occasionally that have to be grabbed by a tank, dragged to the flame jets he leaves on the ground and held there till they become “molten”, then dragged to one of the water pools on the side where they become “brittle.”  They can then be shattered if they take 5k damage in a single shot which should be no problem for your average Ulduar ready dps.  However, after a few attempts we decided to pass on him for the moment because of the bug and went back to Razorscale wipes for the rest of the night.

Also let me say, when Blizzard promised harder trash, they delivered.  We almost wiped twice trying to figure out the trash for ol’ Iggy there and you definitely have to be on your A-game when it comes to it.  Unfortunately, we also had a few scrubs along with us last night and weren’t able to bring Dispenser’s full might to bear on the bosses.  I think that if we had our full first string team along with us we could’ve maybe gotten Razorscale down as we seemed to start getting it under control by the end of the night, but who can say for sure?  Both fights after Leviathan felt a little bit overtuned though and our GL had a theory about this which sort of makes sense.

He said that the problem is the way they did the testing with limited pre announcement of fights meant that the majority of the guilds who got to test the fights were hardcore, stay by your cell, quit your job for testing guilds.  When you have only the cream of the crop testing your fights, they’re going to complain that it’s too easy because they’re the kind of guild willing to spend 24 hours straight in a raid instance trying to down Yogg-Saron (grats Ensidia, you sons of bitches).  Your average guild however is not going to think that 6 minutes is too long of an enrage timer which is why they hotfixed it to 10 minutes after the first night.  I predict we’ll be seeing a lot more tweaks in the form of hotfixes coming down the pipes in the next few weeks as they retune the encounters.

So my final thoughts are that this is what raiding is supposed to feel like.  It’s very hard, but it’s FUN.  I feel a thrill during the encounters and am excited to get back into Ulduar again.  It’s not the cakewalk that Naxx was and I think we’ll be able to really start separating the wheat from the chafe over the next couple of weeks as we progress.  We’re going to try to have another 25 man attempt tonight if we can get the group together again and hopefully we’ll be able to actually down a few bosses.  Daddy needs him some new plums, my current ones are so last patch.

-Dueg




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