Heroic Ultraxion and Some Ranting.

On Thursday, February 23rd, Apotheosis killed Heroic Warlord Zon’ozz.

We then took out Heroic Hagara as normal. We had previously taken down Heroic Yor’sahj for the second time and Heroic Morchok for something like the eighth time.

And then we faced Heroic Ultraxion for the first time, getting him to 8% and then, on Sunday night, we had a 0% wipe (somewhere around a million health left, maybe).

The first thing I want to rant about is how Heroic Dragon Soul is murder on raid leaders for organizing groups.

Heroic Morchok — you have to split your raid in half. As such, it makes life easier for everyone involved when you designate two and a half groups to Morchok and two and a half groups to Kohcrom. I can deal with this. That’s fine.

Heroic Yor’sahj — Due to the fact that you will, occasionally, have to spread out AND due to the fact that Deep Corruption almost certainly requires very controlled healing assignments, the easiest thing to do here is to dump three healers and two tanks into G1, most of melee in G2 and the rest of your DPS in groups 3, 4 and 5, putting a single healer in those groups with them.

Okay. I’m fine with that, too.

Heroic Zon’ozz — This was nightmarish for me. Maybe I organized the fight wrong, but we downed him, so I don’t think it’s wrong or even more complicated than it has to be. It IS complicated, though. So I have three healers, a tank and a “DPS tank” (feral druid) in G1 and then G2-G5 each have 1 healer and 4 DPS, all of whom are very, very precisely assigned to very, very precise DPS targets/physical locations. Naturally, it wouldn’t make sense to have two melee on one flail in the back of the room, two ranged on an eye in the front of the room and one healer tasked to healing all four of those people when they’re not in range of any of them, right? As such, group assignments for Zon’ozz are, I find, extremely fussy.

Heroic Hagara — I like to put the various people on a lightning line in a group together. That just makes SENSE, right? I also like to make sure Ice Lance soakers and healers are in the same group — and in the same lightning line.

And then, Heroic Ultraxion — Group 1 takes Hour of Twilight 1, Group 2 takes the second, Group 3 takes the third and then we go back to G1, G2, G3, G1 and G2.

Tier 11 was, without a doubt, The Interrupt Tier. Omnotron Defense system required interrupts. Maloriak required interrupts. Nefarian required interrupts. Halfus required interrupts. Ascendant Council required interrupts. Cho’gall required interrupts. Basically, if your interrupters weren’t competent, you were screwed.

Tier 12 was, in my estimation, the “OMFG WHAT COOLDOWN NOW?!” Tier. On every single encounter, proper planned usage of cooldowns was absolutely required. Shannox required tank cooldowns in particular, but Aura Mastery and Spirit Link Totem were great for the raid. Rhyolith – cooldown rotation in P2. Beth’tilac – hey, cooldown rotation in P2 again. Alysrazor – hey, yet ANOTHER batch of cooldowns for a specific phase of the fight! Baleroc – some cooldowns needed to help soak crystals/blades, but not much in terms of raid-wide cooldowns. Majordomo Staghelm – particularly on normal mode, was an encounter where cooldowns were OUT OF CONTROL. Ragnaros – hey, look, let’s all group up and BLOW ALL THE COOLDOWNS every minute or so. (Note – most of these comments describe the fights pre-nerf.)

And Tier 13 is, in my opinion, the “Hey, Let’s Make Your Raid Leader Cry by Making it So Inefficient to Not Organize Groups That They’ll Be Forced to Micromanage Groups!” Tier. And they make you do it through the crappy, old, outdated raid interface, which won’t allow you to change people’s groups while in combat, so you can’t even do it on trash.

So the second thing I want to rant about is related to group organization, particularly for Heroic Ultraxion.

You get a debuff when you eat an Hour of Twilight (even if you’re immune with a bubble or an Ice Block) that lasts two minutes. It’s called Looming Darkness. If you eat another Hour of Twilight while you have Looming Darkness, you die. No ifs, ands or buts. Dead. So you can only take every third Hour of Twilight. Not so bad, right? Just need 9 people on 25-man to soak Hours. Should be fine, right? Wrong. Heroic Ultraxion requires five soakers per Hour of Twilight. That is a minimum of 15 people (on 25-man) required to soak. Hours of Twilight come every 45 seconds, so every 2m15s, you’ll be asked to take another Hour of Twilight, if you’re a soaker.

Let’s look at who regular (ie: can take every third one) soakers can be:

Tanks – Your tanks have cooldowns up that last double duration and have half the cooldown length. This means that they can absolutely soak every third Hour and it’s probably best if you split your tanks into separate groups.

Feral (kitty) Druids – Hot tip: If you have your Feral (kitty) Druid go bear form, Thrall will mistake them for a tank and grant them Last Defender of Azeroth. That means that they can pop Survival Instincts on every third Hour of Twilight.

Fire Mages – Cauterize is beautiful. Doesn’t matter if you have no health, this will prevent your instant death and just requires a couple of heals before you burn yourself to death. There is a 1-minute internal cooldown on this, but that shouldn’t be an issue.

Hunters – Deterrence is amazing for Hour of Twilight. They take zero damage from it. With a two-minute cooldown, hunters are a fantastic choice for Hour of Twilight soakers.

Shadow Priests – Dispersion is great! 2m cooldown, 90% less damage taken. Yay!

Rogues – A well-timed Cloak of Shadows allows your rogues to eat every third hour without taking any damage.

DPS Warriors – A glyphed Shield Wall will allow you to survive an Hour of Twilight, but the downside is Shield Wall now has a 7m cooldown.

Of course, any spec of paladin or mage can eat a single Hour of Twilight due to their Divine Shield or Ice Block abilities.

But now, now we get into fancy acrobatics, including exterior cooldowns and swaps of people.

Up ’till now, we’ve really been looking at needing a 50% (or more) cooldown. Hour of Twilight is 300,000… or it was until the 5% nerf, whereupon it became 285,000 damage. Today, February 28th, it becomes 270,000 with the introduction of the 10% nerf.

I would still recommend 50%+ cooldowns. Fully buffed, I’m sitting at 164k health. If I pop glyphed Divine Protection (40% reduction of magical damage), I would “only” eat 162k hit. That leaves no room for error. As such, maybe 40% reductions will be doable at the 15% nerf, but likely only really reliable at the 20% nerf or beyond.

Further, Anti-Magic Zone will not work alone. Every single thing I’ve read about AMZ says that it will absorb 75% of incoming damage and THEN check to see if the cap has broken.

We tried AMZ on Sunday and ended up with a dead group. I made sure through the logs that it wasn’t previously hit by Twilight Instability and yet AMZ only absorbed ~58k per person.

What does this mean?

Well, for me, it means a somewhat ridiculous group composition that is really reliant on certain people to be there.

G1: Tank, Rogue, Hunter, Mage, Shadow Priest
G2: Tank, Rogue, Hunter, Mage, Shadow Priest
G3: Feral Druid, DPS Warrior 1, Mage, Holy Pally with PS+Glyphed Divine Protection, Holy Pally with bubble

Then we get to the sixth Hour of Twilight and G3 becomes:
Feral Druid, DPS Warrior 2, Mage, Holy Pally (bubble), Ret Pally (bubble)

Now we COULD get into HoSac and other such things and, you know what? We’ll have to if one of the mages, hunters, rogues or shadow priests aren’t there. One of my mages was tentative for Sunday. Do you know what my G3 looked like in the planning stages? Here, I’ll show you:

Feral Druid, DPS Warrior 1, Holy Pally with PS+DP, Holy Pally with bubble, HoSac from Holy Pally with bubble on Ret Pally with Glyphed DP

Hour Six: Feral Druid, DPS Warrior 2, Holy Pally bubble, HoSac from Holy Pally with bubble on Holy Pally with glyphed DP, Ret Pally with bubble.

It’s like musical chairs but with bubbles, Divine Protection and Hand of Sacrifice.

We can play with externals, but the problem with that is you then are reliant on not one, but two people to do their job flawlessly each and every time. I try to steer clear of those scenarios. While on Sunday, the disc priest hit me with Pain Suppression appropriately when called for each time, we missed one once on Thursday. Instead of 5 people soaking, you have 5 people and then a sixth that has to be responsible to help for the soaking.

It’s maddening.

So much for “bring the player, not the class”, right?

Now, I understand that this isn’t quite so bad as, say, Heroic Spine, pre-nerfs. Spine requires (or required) you to stack all kinds of bursty DPS. Still, my progression fight is Ultraxion and I’ll bitch about Spine when I get to it.

However, this is completely ridiculous. Blizzard tends to take an idea and run with it, all too often learning their lessons too late to make meaningful changes to current content. Look at Dragon Soul — is there any real interrupting going on? No, they learned that too much interrupting is annoying, not compelling, after T11. Is there a ton of trash? No, they also learned that from Bastion of Twilight. Cooldowns are used, but they SHOULD be used, but it’s not the kind of craziness that accompanied Flame Scythes on normal Staghelm, pre-nerf. They learned from the design mistakes they made in Firelands.

This time, it’s raid organization and even now, with the 10% nerf, there’s still raid comp stacking that absolutely must happen. Who the hell has 15 people who can consistently solo soak Hours of Twilight? It’s to the point where I have brought up to the officers the possibility of allowing well-geared alts of certain classes to come in for H Ultraxion if it otherwise means we can’t even attempt the boss. Next thing you know, I’ll be in H Ultraxion on my hunter, which is a horrifying thought, not just to me (oh god fading light halp) but I imagine my guild would be less than thrilled. (I sincerely hope it doesn’t come to this. I also sincerely hope I get a decent ranged weapon before it ever WOULD come to this.)

The good news is that it was a 0% wipe on Sunday and several in the 5-7% range, so we almost certainly have him this week — assuming all the people we’re relying on can make it.

If not, I’m going to be spending some Quality Time with my raid notebook, meticulously planning out more cooldown acrobatics. Thanks, Blizzard. I really appreciate all the extra headaches you’re throwing at us that go completely against your “bring the player, not the class” philosophy.

17 Replies to “Heroic Ultraxion and Some Ranting.”

  1. This might work better for you, and it’s how we downed heroic Ultraxion — we had two groups of soakers. Group one was rogues, a tank, and a shadow priest thrown in there if I believe. Group two was hunters, a mage, and another shadow priest.

    Group three was … everyone else in the raid. Yes, everyone. We threw every healing cooldown in the book out there and everyone lived, and those 15 people got extra dps time on Ultrax. So it was G1, G2, everyone else, then started over with G1 again.

  2. We ran into this on Ultraxion 10 last night – we were going to try it on Heroic, but then we realized we didn’t have six people who could soak the hours (hooray for Shamans, Boomkins and Warlocks). Pretty annoying.

    I believe DKs can soak one every 3 minutes though, with AMS + Icebound Fortitude. As for AMZ…yeah, I’ve never seen it actually prevent more than 50-60k to everyone at a time. Great help for healing massive damage, but not for preventing Hour of Twilight deaths, unfortunately.

  3. Hey Kurn –

    We use two priests for this fight, both Disc as we have them smiting until the blue crystal comes out for the extra damage (probably not needed anymore, but doesn’t hurt and they can run 12k-13k damage for the fight – it adds up to a decent bit!), and our third group has disc priests who alternate a barrier on the group (i.e. group 3 priest 1 barriers, group 6 priest 2 barriers). We’ve tossed just about anyone in there with them, but warlocks, moonkin and feral druids work well due to the higher magic resistance. Additionally, I don’t know who you are using to tank, but DG from a prot paladin is a fairly decent substitute for barrier. I beleive that we also have a warrior Rally for that group as well – just to be safe.

    This also leaves us a barrier for the bronze phase (we use ours right after hour 7). Also, if your feral druids bears up just before hour 7, coming out of it (he has to be in bear for 15 seconds – I think) he can blow his “healing” cooldown (assuming he’s using his 4 piece T13) which causes the entire raid to received increased heals, which is super helpful at the end!. He can shift to cat right after he uses the CD and the raid will retain the buff.

    Not sure if that’s an option for you, but just thought I’d toss it out!

  4. When we were first progressing on this 3 of our mages had rl issues pop up leaving us with very few soakers, leaving us with a 3rd group with very few abilities to soak. What we ended up doing was blowing raid cd’s on that 3rd group soaking (4 piece bonus’s, bubble, ect.) and it worked out pretty well. I’m assuming you guys have no problems healing the last 20% cluster fuck because your healing core is one of the strongest i’ve seen. ( dont tell sara!)

    You guys should have it this week no sweat! I don’t envy you for raid set up for Heroic Blackhorn.. my god is that a nightmare..and i dont even want to talk about spine >.<

    -Elb

  5. I agree 100% with the constant group switching. I’m not particularly against it persay, but the inability to change groups while in combat really IRKS me. I understand why, but if we could at least queue up group changes, it would help a ton!

  6. We just make a handy macro on Ultraxion and spam it everytime when the fight is about to start.

    1,4,7 A B C D E
    2,5 F G H I J
    3,6 K L M N O

    and make them remember what numbers they are. Whenever an hour of twilight appears, the RL (or whoever) yells ‘it’s 1’ ‘it’s 2’ etc and the corresponding group would have to pop their CDs.

    You never really need to pre-group them into 1 whole group for that to work, and you never really need to re-do your macro, unless someone’s missing in the raid.

    There’s really no need to drive yourself insane by manually grouping people together all the time. I think after a few attempts, most people know where they belong

  7. I would have called it the “Tier of Super-Tight DPS Checks” personally.

    I’m a 10-person raider and we’ve downed heroic Morchok, Yor’sahj, and Ultraxion, and put in some time on Zon’ozz and Hagara. So of those five only Morchok doesn’t require MAXIMUMDPSALLTHETIME and I imagine Spine and Madness are only going to follow the same pattern.

    So far learning a fight has consisted of two phases: 1) learn the mechanics and survive until the enrage timer, followed by 2) eek out every bit of DPS possible to beat the enrage timer.

  8. G1: Mage , Rogue, Hunter, Mage, Shadow Priest
    G2: Feral Druid, Rogue, Hunter, Mage, Shadow Priest
    G3: Paladin Tank, DK Tank, DK, DK, HPal with Divine Prot

    While I feel your pain organizing raid groups, you weren’t making use of tank 4 piece bonuses. Group 3 has a lot of options, frankly.

    Looks like you killed him tonight anyway, congratulations.

  9. @Belvaran: I’m a healer, and it’s really helpful to me to have the soakers grouped. If an Hour is coming and the raid just took a tick of his big raidwide damage, I can prioritize heals to the soakers that need to be topped off before Hour without having to keep track of who is where in the soaking rotation. e.g. it’s easier to top off/HoT “group 2” than “F G H I J”.

  10. Ditto on what Shades said. We used and continue to use:

    Soak 1: groups 3-5 + Anti-magic zone
    Soak 2: group 1 (rogues + mages)
    Soak 3: group 2 (tanks + hunters + spriest)

    Using a raid soak nets you a solid increase in dps (6 secs x 3 soaks x ~10 dps) and reduces the number of contortions you need to go through to make soaking possible. It also means that should a soaker in g1 or g2 die, you can have a backup from the raid soak fill in with ease (we typically use a holy pally filler).

  11. Kit, I play as a holy pally and a holy/disc priest too, I’ve never encountered much problem healing/topping off people who would be soaking. I guess when the number is called, we all know where those people would be, and our healer chat channel would always be at first ‘i’ll top off all melee first, you top off all caster dps etc’… I guess pre-grouping in a way would make life easier, but i don’t think it’s beneficial if it’s driving anyone insane with the managing.

    We just never really see this fight as hard, i don’t know why, for us this is infinitely easier than all the bosses before it except Morchok. A strict DPS race+’retard’ check (pardon my language) shouldn’t be a 5th boss imo. As a raid we are still having problems at Zono’zz but it’s almost a guarantee 1-shot for this boss. And then the endless wipes at Blackhorn…….argh

  12. Also Kurn, you may want to check your relic, you reforged haste instead of crit into spirit~

    I would also suggest you to pick up the 2set bonus, the 384 version shoulders would be better than the current 391 you’re using, even the gear itself is worse. The 2set bonus is a huge mana-saver and would give you a lot more throughput!

  13. In 10 man “bring the player, not the class” is precisely what we have to do. We have no mages, no shadow priests, no DKs in our raid.

    So what we do have is our bear tank soaking 2 Twilights, the Warrior tank soaking 2, me as Holy paladin bubbling one Twilight, and then the next time I soak I have to get Intervene from our warrior tank plus my Divine Protection.
    We have our Holy Priest using GS on herself for one soak, Enhancement Shaman using Stoneclaw+Shammy Rage+Hand of Sacrifice from me for anoher, and finally our Rogue and Hunter can luckily soak 3 each. Throw in a load of Fading Lights, and its very easy for someone to lose track and it’s instant wipe time.

    When we do it right, it seems very very easy… when we do it right.

  14. Holy or ret paladins can soak Hour of Twilight without an issue on H Ultraxion 25, and could even before the 5 and 10% nerfs. Here’s how you set it up. To make it easier, put all the pally soakers in the same soak group.

    On the first Hour they are soaking, they use glyphed Divine Protection in combination with another raid mitigation/max health CD (Divine Guardian, Anti-magic Zone, PW: Barrier, Rallying Cry) – that cooldown will be back up for the end of the fight. On the second Hour, soak with Divine Shield.

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