My guild downed Alysrazor today, taking us to 5/7 in Firelands. I wasn't there. I can't really complain about that fact since I was supposed to be there but cancelled on short notice because I was feeling exhausted and ill.
Still, missing a first kill always stings a bit, even if I don't find them as exciting as I used to. The time I missed our Kael'thas first kill back in BC due to my PC breaking down was the only time something WoW-related ever reduced me to tears. I'm used to pretty much always being present for our firsts due to having impeccable attendance, but my Firelands track record is the worst it's ever been, with Beth'tilac and Rhyolith being the only bosses that I got to see go down for the first time. With all the others I only got to see them die after everyone else had already done it and it felt a lot less exciting. I'm not sure why that is, as I think that my attendance is still pretty good and I feel that I'm pulling my weight despite of holy priests apparently not being that great in Firelands, but maybe I'm wrong. Or maybe I'm just unlucky. It feels a bit weird either way.
On the whole, I don't think that Firelands will become a memorable tier for me, though I struggle to put my finger on the whys. Difficulty-wise Firelands is just right for my guild, as the normal modes have kept us busy at just the right pace, feeling neither too easy nor too hard. The boss fights certainly all have something unique about them, and even the trash is fairly interesting. I've actually felt inspired to take screenshots again too, even though I initially recoiled at the way the scenery gave me Molten Core flashbacks.
But somehow, something is just missing for me. I've seen the Firelands fights get described as "gimmicky", and I wonder whether that isn't part of the reason. Mind you, I don't think that gimmicky fights are automatically a bad thing, but my impression of Firelands is that each fight is very much about one or two people handling a special mechanic (which they'll usually either enjoy well enough or hate with a passion) and the rest of the fight is fairly vanilla.
Shannox: This is actually the most universally interesting boss I've seen so far and probably my favourite because he does have some mechanics that (almost) everyone has to pay attention to, such as Rageface's face rage (say that ten times fast without getting tongue-tied...) or the enrages tied to the boss's and the dogs' various health levels. Still, it always seemed to me that the Riplimb tank probably has the most interesting job on this fight. As a healer it's pretty much: heal tanks, step away from fire and traps, top off raid, spam like mad in the final AoE phase.
Beth'tilac: This one is all about going up and down the web in time. I consider myself lucky in that none of the other healers seem very keen on it and I quite enjoy it, so I get to do it almost every time I'm there and it keeps the fight interesting. If I'm not on the web however it's nothing but: heal tanks, top off the raid, and spam like mad in the final AoE phase, again.
Rhyolith: Steering the boss is what it's all about here, and our dps doesn't seem to like it much. Still, once again the gimmick is pretty much the only truly interesting thing about the fight. As a healer, I (you may have guessed it): heal tanks, step away from fire, top off the raid, spam like mad in the final AoE phase.
Baleroc: This one is an interesting fight for healers, but I don't like him as the buff stacking mechanic feels like Valithria Dreamwalker version 2.0 to me. Nothing like spamming your biggest and fastest single-target spells for big numbers for the entirety of the fight... especially if you're playing the class/spec combination that is currently the absolute worst at single-target healing. I'll take Chimaeron's tight spell control over stupid stuff like this any day.
And finally, Alysrazor: While I haven't seen her die yet, the fight basically seems to come down to - surprise, surprise - healing the tanks, stepping away from (multiple sources of) fire, topping off the raid and spamming like mad in the AoE phase. I used mind vision on our mage during some of the more quiet stretches to see how he was doing with the flying around and even though I'm not sure that it's something I'd enjoy doing myself, it definitely looked to me like this was once again supposed to be the fun part of the fight while everyone else just goes through the motions. Okay, that and the hatchling tanking maybe.
Before anyone says that all boss fights in WoW can be summed up the way I summed up my role on these Firelands bosses, that's definitely not true. There can be importance in positioning (something that has hardly mattered to healing at all so far in Firelands, beyond not personally standing in the fire and not being out of range of everyone else). There can be frequent changes between AoE and single target damage (only seen on Shannox so far). There can be interaction with other raid members. As it is, it's all been kind of same-y from a healing point of view.
Still, I'm not sure whether I'm not being too critical of the instance because like I said earlier in this post, there are a lot of good things about it. It's just that it seems to me that unless you get to be the special snowflake to handle the boss's unique mechanic, most of them aren't really all that interesting... or maybe it's just a healer thing. Tier eleven felt more engaging to me anyway.
I'd be interested in other people's thoughts.
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