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Thread: Heroic Trial of the Crusade - Week 2

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    Default Heroic Trial of the Crusade - Week 2

    Well it's been a week and a day since Heroic Trial of the Crusade was unlocked, and I figure it's about time for another progress update!

    Like most guilds, we spent the first four weeks of Trial of the Crusade's release being very underwhelmed, except by Faction Champions (more on that abortion of an encounter later). I know it's nearly passť to complain about difficulty of TotC these days, but when we're able to walk up to the final boss with 9 people and one-shot it, knowing all of "I think ice patches prevent burrows" and "When he gets low, leeching swarm hits for a percentage of your current health, not total" -- when that is the case, it seems the difficulty is extremely undertuned.

    Obviously, Blizzard openly stated they want the Normal TotC difficulty to be underneath some of the harder Ulduar Normal fights, such as Mimiron and Freya, but none of the fights are even remotely that difficult. Don't get me wrong, there are some very clever mechanics in these fights: Worm's Fire/Poison trading, Icehowl's Charge, Jaraxxus' Incinerate Flesh, Twin's Light/Dark, and Anub's Leeching Swarm. All prove very interesting mechanics -- but the real crime seems to be managing each is either trivial or can be outright ignored.

    For example, wanting to try something different for the 3 minute Twin's achievement, on our second kill we had the entire raid except our OT stack up under the Dark Portal with Light Essence active, attacking Darkbane. The orbs are so infrequent and non-deadly in Normal that with some pre-hots and reactive heals, keeping the raid alive was extremely easy and with such a long timer between 'random big events' (either shield/heal or either vortex), the chances of never having to switch targets is super high. Trying to get a 3 minute kill, our kill time ended up at 2:03, and being a 10-man only our DPS is far from the best possible.

    At any rate, I don't know how my other Guild members feel, but once we get all the drop-based upgrades from normal TotC, it's going to be a pain (albeit slight, since it's such a short zone) to continue having to clear normal every week for the Triumph emblems we'll undoubtedly need for some time to come.

    However, as some of you reading this may be thinking, "There's still Heroic!" Quite right, and right now I'm glad to report the difficulty scaling seems a fair bit better tuned for Heroic TotC. The first week of release, we went up against Beasts for a good 9 or 10 attempts, feeling the same pains 25-man Guilds are reporting about Heroic TotC-25: Gormok's tank damage output seemed tuned very well for the gear levels, even in 10-man. We had our share of tank-gibs until we started rotating cooldowns/trinkets. We also hit the enrage on Icehowl a couple times and he even charged a few of our members, causing me super frustration that I couldn't taunt him for the 12 seconds after that he decided to rape 60% of our raid (thxhotfix). We also found Dreadscale's fire-breath ability when he's in mobile mode and enraged (Acidmaw dead) requires a cooldown to survive unless heals are very timely, but all these little things added up nicely to a fairly difficult but rewarding encounter when we dropped the Beasts that first week.

    Next up, of course, was Jaraxxus, and like Beasts, knowing nothing about 'new' or 'altered' abilities going in, we just setup as we normally do. We were very quickly surprised by the new portal/volcano mechanic and promptly were raped by mistress adds. However, knowing that, we came back and all stars aligned for a kill on our second attempt, which was a slight bit annoying but impressive nonetheless.

    Now the brick wall: Faction Champions. Even after the first few weeks of Normal TotC with our first experiences of Faction Champions, most everyone in the Guild was dreading the thought of a Heroic version of this fight. There are a couple issues that really made this encounter extremely frustrating for us.

    First, our raid composition. We do not run with extra people sitting out or a huge roster. We have 10 raiders and they come to every raid. 3xDruid, 1xWarrior, 1xDeath Knight, 1xRogue, 1xMage, 1xPaladin, 1xHunter, and 1xShaman. While our somewhat odd composition has never really been a major issue (some annoyances on Firefighter and Thorim's charm achievement), Heroic Faction Champions were very clearly designed with certain assumptions about your raid.
    • You have magic dispelers: half-check, we have one, but he also has to heal this fight, so it's often a choice of healing someone or dispelling another full-time, not both.
    • You have 2-3 forms of fullyincapacitatingCC (i.e. CC that renders the target unable to take any action): We have 2 at best (Sheep plus 9 sec of Cyclone or Trap/Wyvern Sting thrown in).
    • You have offensive dispelers: again, half-check, as we have one via Purge (more on this later).
    I can't say for sure at this point, but the NPC class makeup for this encounter always seems some combination of the following: 2 healer, 2 ranged DPS, 2 melee DPS; including 1 Shaman and 2 forms of Magic dispel (Priest, Paladin, Felhunter, etc.)

    Due to the above NPC setup rules, we quickly ran into a huge problem with our raid composition: We absolutely could not prevent one of the magic dispellers from removing our only reliable CC (sheep) from the other magic dispeller. Even best-case scenario with no trinkets, no resists, no nothing, we could theoretically sheep for 15 sec, cyclone for 9, and trap for 10 to repeat, but executing the transition from a cyclone into a trap is near impossible with the chances of trap hitting cyclone immunity and we can't rely on Wyvern sting for every 30 sec rotation so it was a lost cause all around.

    Further, having to use our incapacitating CC on the magic dispelers meant we only had roots/cyclone for the melee and ranged DPS, or our Warrior or Death Knight full-time snaring and taunting a melee. Unfortunately, because of dispels that would slip in, even roots proved very unreliable.

    The second major issue with the the 10-man Heroic version of Faction Champions, aside from raid composition requirements, is the actual numbers of NPCs is very out of whack. The 25-man version pits the raid against 10 NPCs, which means the raid has at least 2.5 players per NPC to figure out a way to deal with whatever that particular NPC is doing. Compare this to the 10-man version which has 6 NPCs, leaving only 1.67 players per NPC, and the issue really shows. Add in the fact that out of 25 people, the chances any particular class/spec is unavailable (or even two of that class) is very low, whereas by our own experience, in 10-man the chances of not having something is huge (no Warlock or Priest for us).

    Let me also take a moment to say, before the 25-man people get all hot and bothered, because how dare I imply a 10-man version of a fight is more difficult than a 25-man version: Just look at the numbers. Faction Champions is the first raid encounter WoW has seen in nearly 5 years where CC is the primary factor in success. This means defeating the encounter greatly relies on raid composition.

    Anyway, back to the story. We spent a couple hours the first week of Heroic TotC beating our heads on this fight and getting virtually no where. We tried everything we could think of but could barely make a dent. We'd either focus on preventing heals only to get assraped by the DPS, or focus on controlling DPS only to never get our kill target even remotely low. With some 25 attempts remaining, we decided to spend the rest of our raid week doing Ulduar and come back to TotC the next week with hopefully some new ideas.

    So, this week, I decided to bring a Warlock alt to Heroic Faction Champions. We also found having our Mage use his Water Elemental's ranged roots to open the fight forces nearly all 6 NPCs to trinket immediately, which gave us a bit more control up front. Still, even with an on demand fear and banish now in the mix, we were still only getting our kill target to 50% or so before dispels/tremor rendered our CC useless long enough to let the healers catch up.

    The real swing factor came when we finally had our Shaman spend the entire fight chain-Purging the kill target to get rid of HoTs as quickly as possible. This tactical change, along with our Warlock and Mage spamming Sheep/Fear on random DPS targets at every opportunity, plus another half-dozen wipes, finally gave us our first kill! It felt extremely satisfying, but also frustrating because I fail to see how we could repeat that without having to rely on an undergeared, never-played Warlock alt to provide fear chains, curse of exhaustion, and curse of tongues to help slow down the burst DPS. Comparatively, playing my main character, a Warrior, I am virtually useless during the majority of the fight. I get to spam Hamstring and yell over vent at the raid member this melee DPS is about to engage. Disarm once a minute, or go Protection and throw in an occasional stun, and it's still a far cry from the near-constant incapacitate the Warlock's Fear provides (not to mention the curses).

    Ultimately, the real issue I see with Faction Champions, at least for 10-man, is this: When was the last time there was a raid encounter, where 80 - 90% of your raid force could cast Sheep or Fear, was the penultimate method of victory?

    At any rate, we won and if we have to change our roster slightly to do so for a while, so be it, but it doesn't make it well-designed by any stretch.

    Now, to try out the Twin's!
    Last edited by Kulldam; 09-10-2009 at 02:49 PM.

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