Ahn'kahet: The Old Kingdom is one of the less popular WOTLK heroics as far as I can tell. I'm not entirely sure why that is. Do people consider it too long? Is it because of the spell flingers and their shadow blasts of doom? Personally I'm quite fond of it for various reasons; about the biggest gripe I have with the instance is its name. An'kahet? Ank'ahet? I always have to double-check the spelling.
The same is true for the last boss. Harold Voljaz? Herold Volazj? Seriously, which randomiser produces spelling atrocities like that? However - odd consonant combinations aside, I freaking love this boss.
I'll never forget the first time I killed him. It was during the first weeks after WOTLK's release and my friends and I were levelling through Northrend at a comfortable pace, taking our time to look at all the dungeons together. Since everything was new to everyone anyway, we never bothered to check guides or anything of the like to learn about boss abilities, we'd just "wing it" as one of our raid leaders likes to say.
So we engage this squidiphant called (/check wowhead) Herald Volazj and at first it's pretty much just tank and spank. Then he casts something called "insanity" and suddenly all the other party members appear to turn hostile. "Aha!" I thought, feeling smart, "it's Blackheart the Inciter v.2, mind-controlling everyone!" Except... I was still in control of my character. What was going on with everyone else? People were shouting things over vent that made no sense to me. I healed myself, waiting for the perceived mind control to end, but it just kept going on and on! Eventually some of my friends managed to break their illusions and started killing mine, so now I suddenly saw double, friendly and hostile clones of the same characters! It was horribly, horribly confusing and utterly hilarious at the same time. We pretty much all agreed that it was a brilliant fight, intentionally designed to confuse everybody who had run Shadow Labyrinth one too many times back in BC.
When I came back to the boss on heroic mode, I soon came to another interesting realisation, namely that it's one of the rare bits of content where being a healer or a tank is much easier than being a damage dealer. I had more than one group where most or even all of the dps didn't even survive the first insanity phase and originally I had serious trouble understanding why.
As a healer, the insanity phase is ridiculously easy. Just heal yourself as needed and wait for someone else to break free and kill your adds, their damage output shouldn't be enough to put you in any serious danger. If you've got the mana pool for it you can also dps them down yourself, if somewhat slowly. On my priest I usually prefer to conserve my mana since the untalented dps spells are quite expensive, but on my paladin I'll gleefully consecrate and spam judgements and holy shocks on my foes. My damage output is still pitiful, but my health and mana never really go down.
Trying to survive the insanity in the role of a paladin tank I found things even easier. Just go for the healer first, whack them with a quick stun the moment they try to heal, use your aoe abilities and watch all the evil clones die within a couple of seconds without hurting you at all. Easy peasy!
Until... the fateful day I decided to run heroic Old Kingdom on my hunter. Oh my.
It was a very embarrassing experience. As soon as insanity hit, my first instinct was to go and kill the healer, except I quickly had to realise that as a survival-spec hunter without scatter shot I didn't actually have any ways of interrupting their spell-casting. No matter how much I shot, the heals just kept on coming and I couldn't get anything down. Eventually I just ended up running in circles like a headless chicken, unintentionally getting the Ultimate Triage achievement as I desperately clung to what was left of my life with a single bandage tick... and I survived, thanks to my guildies being much more competent than me, but I sure felt stupid.
I immediately consulted Google for help on how to survive this particular encounter as a hunter. Despite of all the hunter blogs out there I didn't really find a proper guide to the fight, but I did end up discovering a couple of helpful hints. The key to the fight, they said, was to crowd-control the healer and save them for last. You can trap things, remember? Even if you haven't had to do that since level 70...
Tonight I ended up braving Old Kingdom on my hunter again and I was excited. Would I manage to pull it off this time or get shamed again?
On the first insanity I managed to trap the healer and burn down two of the evil clones before they broke free again, but then I ended up breaking my second trap by accident and help arrived before I could get the situation back under control myself. Still, I didn't take a lot of damage.
On the second insanity I finally got back into the groove of trapping and managed to keep the healer under control until all the other adds were dead. Then I nuked the healer. They healed. I nuked. They healed. I nuked. The mage in the party went down, cursing resto druids. I was starting to feel an additional kind of insanity as I watched the evil tree without a mana bar keep itself topped up with nourish spam no matter what I did. Just as I was about to break into a mad cackle a lucky crit or something must have finished them off, because suddenly I could see the other survivors fighting their illusions. The spell was broken.
I can now happily return to mocking any dps that dies on this fight while I do the "easy" job of tanking or healing. And I still freaking love this boss.
Sunday Thoughts - Mass Set Up Effect
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