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  • Icecrown Heroic: Day 7

    Praise Allah for Dual Spec.

    It seems not too long ago I was posting our previous Heroic Icecrown update, in which we had a member vanish, and then this last week we lost a truly core member, one of our dynamic Tree Duo, which left us scrambling for a few days trying to figure out how to patch up the hole in our raid setup.

    Sadly a couple of our DPS have had to make far too much use out of their offspecs lately, but we finally steered things back on course and managed to finish off Rotface & Festergut a few days ago, along with Blood Princes and Blood Queen Sunday evening, which was a great feeling as we're back in the swing of things!

    I think I mentioned Rotface in my last post, but Festergut, in spite of our roster issues, gave us more trouble than we expected (and in fact, based on Normal difficulties, we thought Rotface would surely be the more difficult of the two). Truth is, once again Blizzard should be commended on a very properly tuned DPS check on Festergut's Berserk given the strong healing requirements. Our best attempts after our first night left us with a good 1 million HP remaining as Berserk hit, and only after we'd completely maximized our DPS options and worked out near-perfect positioning for Goo did we manage to pull out a kill.

    So tonight we got to really sink our teeth into Princes, after trying them a handful of attempts the week before just to see what the new debuff was like. I must say, I had high expectations for how challenging the fight could be on Heroic after seeing what Normal was like, and I wasn't disappointed!

    What I simultaneously love and hate about the Princes fight is that any time there is a death, as a Raid Leader I can simply scan down a list of possible outcomes and viola, find exactly which particular thing raped someone's face. Very simple, very easy, very elegant. The downside, of course, is that this list of things is about a half a dozen things:

    • Standing in Shock Vortex
    • Not spreading for Empowered Shock Vortex
    • Empowered Glittering Sparks not dispelled
    • Empowered Flame Orb not reduced enough
    • Kinetic Bomb landed
    • Shadow Prison stacked too high and didn't stop moving

    Usually on any given encounter when something can kill someone/force a wipe, it's generally only preventable by a small handful of people: Tank should've taunted sooner or Tank should've moved away faster; Healer should've thrown an instant on that guy or Healer should've spammed tank at this time; that DPS should've moved out of flame or this DPS should've killed the add.

    Yet what's cool about Princes is basically everyone has to watch for nearly everything at all times, which makes for an exciting and incredibly dynamic encounter we don't get to see often in WoW. Shock Vortex, Empowered Shock Vortex, Flame Orbs, & Shadow Prison all have to be managed by the entire raid force throughout the fight. Kinetics must also be nearly constantly monitored by at least 2-3 raid members, and again 2-3 for Glittering Sparks depending on raid makeup. Then on top of that is the usual (or even greater in some cases) healing/tanking requirements and it was quite overwhelming for us for some time.

    We opted to go for survivability on this fight by using 2 tanks and 3 healers, which turned out to be a great help as the Keleseth tank takes virtually no damage and having an actual tank class meant during Empowers, we could virtually chain cooldowns to reduce Empowered damage substantially. We figured, at the least, this would give us an extra DPS somewhere (as 2 healers seemed quite risky at this stage, especially learning).

    Our first major hurdle was getting used to the speed of Kinetic Bombs, and our two sole ranged DPS had some off and on trouble managing them for a few attempts. We finally opted to have our Enh Shaman go Elemental for a third ranged DPS and that seemed to help quite a bit (and kept him from running through Shock Vortex on the way back from Keleseth! <3 Ugra).

    Still, that didn't take long to get a handle on compared to Empowered Flame Orb. It seemed no matter what we tried, we couldn't get enough charges off Flame Orbs fast enough to save the poor Mage they inevitably went after. Our two melee were having trouble with Shadow Prison stacks trying to chase them down each time and our poor Mage always seemed to get Empowered Glittering Sparks on him while he was a bit too far from dispellers trying to knock some Kinetic back up in the air.

    Eventually, we opted for a more fluid positioning setup that had our healers stack up in melee range of Taldaram once he become Empowered which, our thinking went, would help force Flares onto a handful of people every spawn regardless of which of the ranged DPS it went for (and if it went to the Keleseth tank, big deal). Finally our strategizing paid off and after a good 15 or so attempts, we dropped the fools!

    Blood-Queen Lana'thel, on the otherhand, lived up to all expectations of being entirely too easy and simplistic. I must admit before attempting the fight, that I was worried we'd have to use 2 healers in order to meet the DPS requirements of this fight on Heroic, but for whatever reason it seems Blizzard didn't balance the Lana'thel timer quite so well as stuff like Festergut and Saurfang.

    Not much to say about her since it's virtually identical to Normal except more of it. We originally wanted to try (well, I wanted to try, no one else was very keen on it) having our OT spec Holy and use half-and-half Holy and Tank gear to basically be one of the healers so we could technically do the fight with 2 actual healers, but that proved a bit too iffy -- he could manage the damage no sweat, but it was clear his mana would not last even close to the required length and we simply don't have enough Innervates to go around.

    Instead we opted to keep heavy ranged DPS and used 1 Druid/2 Paladin healers and 1 War/1 DK as tanks and it was quickly apparent while it might be close, this was the way to go. We also found that the Berserk is timed such that if you delay quite a while before biting new Vampires (as we practiced doing for Normal), you barely have any time with 8 Vampires up before Berserk hits. So we had to adjust our timing slightly and try not to overlap it with Fear too much, but once we got that down and everyone remembered how quickly they needed to react to Pact, we had things down and she dropped in a half dozen attempts total -- not unexpected from reports, but still fairly weak for an end-wing boss.

    Looking forward to trying out the Dragons pretty soon here to see what they hold in store!