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.
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.
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.