Showing posts with label halls of reflection. Show all posts
Showing posts with label halls of reflection. Show all posts

01/01/2014

Wrapping Up Wrath

After we burned through the entirety of Burning Crusade's level range in about two days, I should have known that Wrath wouldn't take very long either. I couldn't quite believe it though, because somehow I still remembered seventy to eighty as this massive slog, and I figured that Wrath of the Lich King wouldn't have quite as many dungeons to keep us busy either.

In truth, it only took us another two days or so to get through that stretch of content as well, and the only thing that felt slow was moving across Northrend. It's still huge, and neither of us were able to afford fast flying yet, which meant that transportation was a bit of a drag. Still, when we weren't trying to get from Howling Fjord to Boring Borean Tundra and back, we were making swift progress. Quest-wise we only did Howling Fjord and about two thirds of Sholazar Basin; the rest of our XP came from gathering experience and two-manning dungeons - and while there were fewer of them, there were still enough for us not to need to repeat anything.

Initially I was a bit disappointed that we still didn't seem to have any trouble two-manning things. Wrath instances were never particularly hard, but I recalled the normal ones being at least a little bit of a challenge initially, especially when you were coming into them with sub-par gear. But no, even with mid-level Outlands gear, the two of us cleared everything up to Drak'tharon Keep with no problems.

Old Kingdom was the biggest disappointment to me personally, though not because of the difficulty. First off, they redesigned the quests to guide you straight past the optional boss, à la Gnomeregan. Not just that though, they also removed the little bonus quest you used to be able to get in the cave with the mushrooms. Mustn't reward people for straying off the main path, oh no! It was a funny quest too: if I recall correctly, you gathered all these "interesting" looking samples from the elementals and then the Nerubian you handed them to gave you a bit of an odd look because they were essentially elemental poop and worthless. The worst thing was the final boss though, as they changed the insanity mobs into generic red blobs that didn't seem to have any abilities whatsoever! Was that mechanic really that confusing as it was? Killing lookalikes of your party members was what made that fight fun! Le sigh.

When we hit seventy-five halfway through Drak'tharon Keep, I put a Glyph of the Treant into my third minor glyph slot and spent the rest of the instance bouncing around like a loony. It was so nice to be an ugly little tree again! I still remember the "save the trees" parade I observed at the end of Wrath. And I have to admit that making it a minor glyph is actually a great solution, as you can keep the look if you want it, or drop out whenever you feel like it, without incurring any practical penalties either way.

Gundrak was the first dungeon where we ran into a genuine challenge, as we couldn't kill the first boss and his adds fast enough before they cocooned both of us and we got hopelessly overwhelmed. Eventually we succeeded by having me switch to my feral spec and going for a quick burn before he even had a chance to summon any adds.

In Halls of Stone we had a funny moment when I DCed and died during the Brann fight, and thanks to talents and self-healing, pet tank managed to stay alive long enough for me to not only come back online but also run all the way back into the room where he was fighting. During the NPC conversation afterwards I also had the embarrassing realisation that I've been spelling vrykul wrong for a whole five years - for some reason I always thought that the r and y were the other way round ("vyrkul").

The Oculus was the next instance that turned out to be a major challenge, as our gear was crappy and the drakes only had the absolute minimum amount of health. After a couple of failed attempts on Eregos we eventually managed to get him down by having pet tank circle-kite him on a red drake, spamming his main ability to do damage and get rid of the whelps, and occasionally using his dodge (especially whenever the boss enraged). Meanwhile I sat on top of the boss on a green drake and alternated between focusing on dpsing him and casting heals on the red drake as needed. With the kiting the damage on the drakes was manageable, though it was a very long and slow fight with no bronze drakes to do proper dps.

Trial of the Champion was also pretty tough, and not just because the jousting was quite a drag with only two people. Argent Confessor Paletress did absolutely nasty damage, especially to me, since she does a lot of non-aggro-based attacks and I was the only target that wasn't the tank. I'm not sure I would have been able to survive being feared around and smited as much had I been playing any other healing class, without the druid's heals over time ticking away whenever I was incapacitated.

The ICC five-mans were interesting as well. Again, the bosses in there had a lot more mechanics than previous ones, and I basically had to deal with everything at once since there was nobody else to do so. I always had to kill my soul fragment on my own on Bronjahm; I always had mirrored soul on the Devourer of Souls. On the last boss of Pit of Saron, I was almost constantly incapacitated or transferring damage and healing to the boss, which made for a very long and touch-and-go encounter. Halls of Reflection actually defeated us initially, as we didn't quite have the dps to make the fourth wall, but we came back once we had upgraded our gear a little and made it without problems after that.

We were level eighty-one by the time we moved on into Cata content.

06/11/2010

Death Knight Dungeoneering

Something strange and unexpected happened about a week ago: my death knight hit level eighty. I never thought I'd actually get there, considering my what I thought was a very deep-seated dislike for the class, but I really managed to warm up to my little undead lady over the past couple of months. Giving her a tanking dual spec halfway through Outland helped a lot, and from then on I slowly but surely progressed through the levels, mostly by tanking one instance at a time, but also doing the occasional quest or battleground. I also didn't feel that the patch changed blood tanking all that much, which made my death knight at least one character where I didn't feel like the patch put a huge dent in things for me.

When I hit eighty I found myself at a bit of a crossroads, as I wanted to keep gearing her up as a tank but had no particular desire to be that tank in blues that helplessly bumbles after the ICC-geared damage dealers that burn everything down within seconds, whether they have aggro or not. In the end I opted for the "gearing up through dps" path, even though all my attempts at playing melee dps had been rather unsuccessful and unfun so far.

That's when another strange and unexpected thing happened, because I actually ended up enjoying myself as two-handed frost dps. I'm still not entirely sure why, but I think there's a combination of factors that are simply coming together just right for me with this class and spec. For example the increased movement speed from unholy presence and the fact that some of my attacks have range have been incredibly helpful when it came to avoiding the problems with positioning that I've had in the past, finding myself perpetually out of range of my targets. If I pull aggro I can also survive a few hits, what with being clad in plate and all, but generally I've seen enough really bad death knights over the past two years to have a good idea of what not to do.

Also, the playstyle is just strangely fun. I've never played anything that fought with a two-hander at such a high attack speed, and it's simply a joy to watch my little death knight lady spin and whirl around like a spiky wrecking ball. The actual dps "rotation" seems to be pretty forgiving to me - or at least I seem to be doing quite well without having much of a clue of what I'm doing - and while this may sound silly, it has a certain whack-a-mole quality about it that kind of reminds me of healing: just that instead of hitting whichever bar is lowest, I hit whichever ability lights up first as available due to rune cooldowns. It's not complicated but still engaging.

So I've been running heroic after heroic after heroic, the justice points keep streaming in and I just want to run more... it's almost addictive. I was surprised by how many other people who were still gearing up ended up in my groups, though I don't know whether that was due to the dungeon finder's gear matching capabilities or if this is simply a reflection of the type of people who queue up these days - mostly alts. Either way I was quite pleased to note that even though some tanks still seemed very keen on getting through the instance as quickly as possible, there was a lot less overall negativity and considerably fewer "I hate this, I just want to get my emblems from the end boss" vibes than I've seen in the past year. Since it's all justice points now, people are a lot more willing to do full clears again, and I got all the optional bosses in heroic Old Kingdom, Gundrak and Halls of Stone done without even having to ask.

Also, while I did observe the occasional case of douchebaggery, I met a lot more really nice people and found myself regretting more than once that I could not add them to my friends list. To give some examples...

I had just tanked a normal Forge of Souls run and wanted to continue to Pit of Saron, but the druid healer was the only one who followed me through the portal; all the dps dropped group. We queued for new ones but couldn't even see one little sword pop up on the progress screen. After a few minutes we started tackling the trash with just the two of us. Just before we got to Garfrost I noted that we had two damage dealers queued up and wished that we could pull them in already just to speed things up. Then the last trash mob fell over and both sword icons were greyed out again. Woe.

"I don't think we can take the boss with just the two of us," I said cautiously, but when the druid suggested that we should at least give it a try, I was up for it. Surprisingly, we downed him without too much trouble. We then continued that way until the ramp after Ick and Krick, where the druid accidentally pulled a second group of trash mobs by popping Starfall (he had switched to balance spec since I didn't need that much healing according to him) and we wiped. At this point I coaxed a guildie into helping us finish since I wasn't sure whether we'd be able to two-man the bottom two caster pulls that we had tried to skip before, though the druid insisted afterwards that he was convinced that we could have done it on our own as well. I really would have loved to add that guy to my friends list, such a fun experience!

In heroic Culling of Stratholme I had a fun run with another death knight who was tanking in frost presence initially, which then led to a friendly and amusing exchange about how the purposes of blood and frost presence have been changed and how the developers love changing things around just to confuse us. People laughed when I joked at the town hall that Arthas had rerolled mage since he has a habit of suddenly "blinking" inside the room without actually walking since the patch. In short, we were having a blast, but about three pulls later I suddenly got disconnected. I quickly logged back in just to find myself back at the instance entrance, along with everyone else. Our group had been disbanded, we were unable to reinvite each other and were getting threatened with a popup saying that we were in the wrong instance and would be booted out soon. We wailed a little at each other in /say and said brief goodbyes, disappointed that our fun had so cruelly been cut short by an instance server crash.

I was slightly anxious when I found myself thrust into heroic Halls of Reflection, considering how many blues I was still wearing, and that feeling intensified when I saw that one other dps, an enhancement shaman, was similarly geared. Still, much to my own surprise, we ended up burning through the place without any problems, popping cooldowns at the appropriate times, and even got the quick escape achievement. Our healer got very bouncy and excited at the end, praising us for a job well done and saying that Arthas "had nothing on us". It made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

On the bad side I only had an extremely lazy healer in heroic Pit of Saron who let people die all the time and then had the nerve to bitch at the tank for all kinds of stupid things (like daring to actually kill trash instead of trying to skip it), which eventually led to the group falling apart; an annoying druid who really wanted to get Intense Cold in the Nexus but seemed to be unable to understand how it works no matter how many times we patiently explained it to him; and a 55k-hitpoint tank in heroic Utgarde Pinnacle who rolled need on everything he could, snatching potential upgrades away from me with the argument that he needed them for his off-spec. Dude, I'm not stupid, your tanking gear has more dps stats than those blues. You're just being a greedy jerk.

It's strange to find myself with a renewed urge to run the same old heroics again so shortly before the expansion, but the overall feeling I got from those runs was just so positive! Really gives me hope for Cataclysm pugs, even if the dungeons will be harder then.

23/07/2010

Scary statistics

After following a link somewhere else and then browsing another blog's archives I stumbled upon this post at Bubblespec today, in which the writer talks about how she thinks that she ran way too many dungeons this expansion. To illustrate her point, she included a screenshot of an armoury statistics page that shows that two of her characters combined killed Cyanigosa an impressive sixty-nine times.

"Oh, that's neat," I thought, "I never thought of looking at all of my level eighties like that. I wonder how many instances I've run in WOTLK." So I looked at my statistics page. And, um. I almost wish I hadn't, because it was slightly scary.

Now, I know for a fact that a lot of the numbers on the statistics page are wonky at best. For example it claims that my paladin never killed the Black Knight on normal mode, even though she wore the Black Heart for a long time, or that my night elf priest has acquired less emblems of triumph than she already spent on gear. I still think that they have at least some basis in reality though; I guess at worst some of them need a little rounding up. Which is not really good thing when you have huge numbers to begin with, but there you go.

So, according to my armoury statistics page, I've entered 1456 WOTLK five-mans across my seven level eighties (yikes), but only completed 885 of them. Now, this is another number that I have a lot of trouble believing, because no way did I abandon 571 instance runs halfway through. Maybe it counts twice if you leave and re-enter an instance in progress while alive. I don't know. Still, close to nine hundred full dungeon runs is still a pretty damn impressive number. A lot of them were pugs too.

Curious as I was, I wasn't satisfied with those numbers however, and wanted to know which instances I did the most often. Somewhat to my surprise, the clear winner turned out to be Drak'tharon Keep, with a whopping 197 Prophet Tharon'ja kills (151 of them on heroic). To be fair, it does seem to come up as a random dungeon fairly often for me, and I also remember intentionally running it every day for a while early in the expansion, because it was considered one of the easiest heroics; and coming fresh from the Burning Crusade, we didn't dare to jump into something as scary as, say, heroic Utgarde Pinnacle right away.

In second place but already very far behind is Azjol-Nerub with 106 Anub'arak kills (seventy-three on heroic). Again I was slightly surprised at first, but then realised that this matched my habit of running this instance on multiple characters a day if it came up as the daily heroic pre dungeon finder.

My third most-visited dungeon of this expansion turned out to be the Violet Hold with one hundred Cyanigosa kills (eighty on heroic). I don't remember ever making a point of running this one more frequently, but it does seem to come up as my random reasonabily often.

Fourth place goes to the Culling of Stratholme and Mal'Ganis, whose butt I helped kick eighty-five times (seventy-five on heroic). I remember running this instance a lot early in the expansion while we were trying to make it to the Infinite Curroptor in time. (Yes, kids, once upon a time that was actually a difficult feat to achieve.) I never really got tired of it either, and stubbornly stuck it out even when pug members dropped group right at the start because they couldn't stand all the talking (before you could skip the dialogue, obviously).

Fifth place goes to the Black Knight, which, again, I found somewhat surprising considering that Trial of the Champion was released fairly late in the expansion. I didn't assist that many people with Black Heart farming either. I did run the instance on normal mode a lot with those of my characters that hit eighty after its release though, as it's a great way of getting geared up quickly. My paladin spent a lot of time in heroic mode as well, farming for the Peacekeeper Blade for a fairly long time.

Now, I'm not going to continue listing the numbers for every single boss. Let it just be said that the average for most of them seems to be around seventy.

The ones that I visited the least often are also interesting, however. For example I only escaped the Lich King in Halls of Reflection thirty-nine times (thirty-one on heroic). I suppose this is in part because the instance is one of the newest ones, in part because it has a high gear requirement on the dungeon finder, and in part because the few times that I went there intentionally for a gear drop, I got it almost immediately.

The other Icecrown five-mans are well within the normal average, presumably because even though they were released late, I ran them a stupid amount of times for gear drops for my alts.

My second least-visited dungeon is, not entirely unsurprisingly, the Oculus with forty-two completions (thirty-seven on heroic). I may have overcome my dislike for it now, but the fact that I avoided it like the plague for the first half of the expansion left a visible mark on the numbers.

Slightly above it with fifty-four kills is Sjonnir the Ironshaper from Halls of Stone (forty on heroic). Just goes to show that even though it feels like I get that instance all the time on some days, I really don't.

That's a crazy number of dungeon runs either way. Unlike Enlynn from Bubblespec I don't really regret them though. I mean, there is of course a vague sense of having wasted a lot of time on WoW, but as far as activities within WoW go, instance-running is still one of my favourites so there aren't many things that I'd prefer to have done instead anyway.

24/01/2010

And here I thought I had seen the worst of selfish tanks

As it turns out, you haven't until you try to just get a normal Halls of Reflection run done to complete the Wrath of the Lich King quest. I was healing on my shaman, always without having any issues, nobody came even close to dying... but damn, those tanks were selfish twits.

Tank #1: confused death knight

On the third wave of mobs or so he asks if the event has been nerfed. Well, it has, but it's also considerably easier since it's only normal mode. We tell him this and he goes, "Oh, this is normal? I wanted heroic!" He graciously stays until Falric drops his epics, then he leaves the group. Since the event continues regardless, we end up wiping without a tank and the group falls apart.

I had a little bit of sympathy for this tank because I've selected the wrong difficulty on the dungeon finder before, but frankly, there's no reason he couldn't have stayed another five minutes to at least get us to a point where we wouldn't automatically wipe as soon as he left.

Tank #2: paladin loot whore

On my next run I got a paladin tank. Again everything went smoothly, until Marwyn dropped the Splintered Door of the Citadel and the tank needed on it. I barely had time to congratulate him on the upgrade when he already left the group, clearly thinking along the lines of: "I got my loot, screw you guys!" Me and two other dpsers spent about twenty minutes waiting for a new tank until I gave up and went off to do something else.

Tank #3: paladin loot whore #2, now with extra malice

On my third attempt to complete the instance, I once again ended up with a paladin tank. I looked at his shield and it was a blue. Would this one end up being as much of a jerk as the previous pally? The Splintered Door dropped again and once again I typed out a "grats" in chat. He thanked me and moved on towards the next trash mob. My heart swelled with hope as he pulled... and then he left the party, while an angry skeleton beat up the dpsers. Fuck you too, buddy.

Tank #4: paladin loot whore of a different kind

Me and a dps death knight hung around this time and waited for a new tank. This time we actually got one after ten minutes or so, so we went on and finished the dungeon. Bone Golem Scapula dropped from the captain's chest and my eyes lit up as it's an awesome weapon upgrade for my resto shammy. I hit need... but so did the tank. He won the roll and instantly quit the group afterwards.

I have no words anymore.

02/01/2010

Healing tips for the first half of heroic Halls of Reflection

Now, usually I don't really make useful posts in the form of guides and the like, but after healing heroic Halls of Reflection for the umpteenth time yesterday and apparently amazing our tank with my awesome skills (he was convinced that his gear wasn't good enough and that we'd all die horribly), I thought it might be worth sharing some of the revelations I've had about this instance.

First off, it's pretty damn hard at the current gear level, even if you've got twenty-five-man raid gear. Some people love the challenge this presents, others hate the risk of frequent wipes that comes with it, others might feel a bit of both. Tanks are probably hit the hardest by this as they have the most difficult job in this instance (though everyone has to be on the ball), so don't be too hard on them if they mess up in some way. Instead be grateful for having a tank who doesn't instantly drop from the group as soon as someone dies, regardless of whose fault it was.

The instance basically consists of two parts, the Frostmourne event which results in you fighting Falric and Marwyn (technically two bosses, but since they are linked you might as well count them as one) and the escape from the Lich King. There's a single trash mob between them, but I doubt that should pose a serious problem to anyone.

The trickiest part of the first half are without a doubt the eight waves of trash mobs that you have to deal with. Since they spawn in random places all over the room and can't be targetted beforehand, it's quite tricky for the tank to pick them all up before they go and kill anyone. Most tanks like everyone to hide in one of the alcoves off to the side so all the mobs will run towards the same spot as soon as they spawn and the tank can intercept them, but if your tank prefers a different setup, don't reject it right away. After all he is the one who has to know what works best for him.

Now, as a healer you'll be staring at health bars most of the time and likely not be paying too much attention to who kills what, but I found that it really helps to know what's going on around you here (and I found out the hard way that not knowing what's happening can actually cause a wipe on its own).

Basically there are five types of trash mobs that spawn, a Ghostly Priest, a Phantom Mage (who can summon a mirror image of himself called Phantom Hallucination), a Tortured Rifleman (basically a hunter), a Shadowy Mercenary (rogue) and a Spectral Footman (warrior). I'm not sure exactly how many of each you get during each wave, but overall the group size and composition become more difficult to handle the closer you get to the end - multiple rogues, ouch!

The priest should be a high priority kill target, mostly because of the single target fear he has. If the healer ends up being feared just as the tank suffers from a huge damage spike, that can easily lead to a wipe. He also has an annoying AoE that does shadow damage and knocks you back, which can also be disruptive of any non-instant heals. In addition he can heal other mobs and casts shadow word: pain on your party.

Your dpsers' next target should probably the rogue, as he does typically annoying rogue things, like shadowstepping behind clothies and killing them before you can blink. He'll also poison and stun the tank, which will make said tank's health plummet like a rock when he suddenly loses all his avoidance. Be ready to spam hard and fast if you see this happening! In addition he throws poisoned daggers at random people, which leave a dot that ticks for quite a lot. If you can remove poisons you should do so whenever you get a chance.

The mage is annoying for the tank because if he doesn't have a ranged silence at hand, the only way to get the mage into melee range is the use of line of sight. Depending on your tank's class that can be a bit annoying for them and in the meantime the mob might randomly shoot other people. Fear not! The mage's fireballs and frostbolts don't actually hit for that much and it's not a problem if someone else "tanks" her for a bit. About the most dangerous thing she'll do is cast flamestrike occasionally, which will cause a fair amount of party damage, especially if people proceed to stand in it for its full duration. Also be aware of dpsers running out of your line of sight to whack the mage while she's standing outside of the alcove for example. You've got to keep your helpful "off-tanks" alive too!

The hunter is probably the most annoying mob to tank since he can't be silenced and is thus even harder to get into melee range. Some tanks will tell their dps to kill him early on as a result, but from a healer's point of view I very much have to disagree. The hunter's damage is pretty negligible and he can easily be off-tanked by someone else for a while. About the most annoying thing he does is use an ice shot on people which does a bit more damage and freezes them briefly. You'd think that this would be on the same scale of annoyingness as the priest's fear, but it only lasts two seconds, which is half the length of the priest's fear. His other abilities include putting down a slowing trap and cursing people so they take fifty percent more magic damage - which is why it's actually preferable not to have both the hunter and the mage on the tank at the same time! Like with the mage, you have to watch for line of sight issues when people decide to run towards the mob to get into melee range.

Lastly we have the footmen, who don't have much in the way of janky abilities, but simply hit very hard. It's very important that the tank picks these up without fail, as they'll pretty much gank anyone else within the blink of an eye, and even the best healer won't be able to do much about it. The one thing you really have to watch out for as a healer is their shield bash, which can be directed at any random target in melee range. I've had more than one wipe where the whole party stacked on the tank for easier mob pickup and then stayed there... until the healer got shield-bashed (and thus silenced) and then had to watch helplessly as the whole group wiped without heals. So it's ok to stand on top of your tank at the start to ensure that the mobs will come the right way, but as soon as he's grabbed aggro, make sure to take a few steps off to the side to ensure uninterrupted heals.

As soon as a new wave spawns, try to help with ensuring your own survival as well as you can. On my priest I found that fading as soon as I saw "entering combat" pop up on my screen did wonders to help direct the mobs away from my squishy behind. Paladins don't produce massive healing aggro and can survive a hit or two with their plate, but if something comes your way after all, don't be afraid of defending yourself. The bubble should only be a last resort; a quick hammer of justice or holy wrath should be enough to buy the tank a couple of valuable seconds to actually hit the mob that wanted to chew on you. Druids can place a HoT on themselves preemptively (while you're at full health it won't generate healing aggro anyway) and hit barkskin if they get attacked.

Mana can be an issue considering that there's a lot of damage going around and no time to drink until the boss is dead. Druids can always innervate themselves when they've used up about half of their mana, but for other classes good mana regen can be a matter of correct timing. As a holy paladin I found that the best time to hit divine plea seems to be when there are only one or two mobs left of the current wave, as incoming damage is relatively low then and the reduction to healing done doesn't hurt as much. If you actually wait until the last mob dies, divine plea might still be ticking by the time the next wave comes in, and you really don't want your healing done to be lowered then. For a priest that's also the right time to use hymn of hope if it's needed, while the shadowfiend should come out while there are still enough mobs around to give it something to hit for its full duration.

Finally, I noticed that I always run into trouble around wave eight or nine, whenever the double rogues show up. People start taking damage left and right and how am I supposed to keep everyone alive argh! This is the time to blow cooldowns. I'm sure I'm not the only one who sucks at using healing cooldowns because there's always this fear of "wasting" them and not having them available when I need them later. However, wiping on the eight or ninth wave in heroic HoR is an excellent teacher in that regard, because it's much more enjoyable to blow your cooldowns than to "save" them, wipe and have to do it all over again. If you're a priest, blow Queen Susan's horn use guardian spirit when you see the tank getting stunned and battered, and don't be afraid of using lay on hands if you're a paladin. On my druid I found that a combination of barkskin and tranquility does wonders.

The bosses that follow the trash are comparatively easy, but still not entirely facerollable. The most important thing about Falric is that he'll fear the whole party every so often (and since it's a horror effect there isn't much you can do about it) while doing a considerable amount of damage, and as his health goes down, everyone's damage and healing gets reduced by up to seventy-five percent, so be aware that you'll have to spam like crazy to get any significant healing in towards the end.

Marwyn is the more dangerous one of the two in my opinion, mainly because of his corrupted flesh ability, which reduces the target's health by fifty percent for eight seconds. Watch out for him casting this on the tank - I'll never forget that heroic HoR where I thought that we had it all in the bag, then he sliced the tank's health in half and hit him for twenty k damage - whoops, and it's a wipe. So make sure to keep your meat shield topped off at all times!

If you got any more helpful healing hints for this encounter, feel free to share.

15/12/2009

You say goodbye and I say hello

This blog's focus was meant to be on instances right from the beginning since they are one of my favourite activities in the game, but since the introduction of the new dungeon finder I just can't stop writing about them. The amount of amusing and confusing pug experiences just never ends.

Today I got to experience first-hand just how ridiculously easy it is to swap people in and out with the new system - over and over again. It's both good and bad: I mean, obviously it's nice when someone just disconnected, you queue up to get a replacement and it appears instantly. On the other hand people's patience with mistakes or accidents of any kind has clearly reached an all-time low. It's a sad irony that the ones with the "The Patient" title are usually the worst offenders. Then again, if you get a new title that requires you to pug with fifty different people only a few days after it beomes available, you're very obviously everything but patient. But I digress.

After being without internet for nearly two weeks and thereby missing the 3.3 launch, my boyfriend was very keen on finally trying out some of the new content. He said that he wanted to see the new heroics on his rogue first, so I invited him to a party with my hunter and introduced him to the awesomeness that is the new LFG tool. After about fifteen minutes of waiting we got a group for heroic Forge of Souls, which isn't too bad as far as wait time for double dps goes I guess.

FoS being the easiest of the new heroics, we made it through that one without any trouble. About the worst thing that happened was that the warlock complained about people not having dpsed the corrupted soul fragments on Bronjahm fast enough (after the fact of course, until then not a single word about strategy - or anything at all - had been said). We finished quickly, thanked each other for a smooth run, and the group disbanded except for my boyfriend and me.

We continued through the portal into the Pit of Saron, queued up to fill our little party again for the next instance and had a full group within a minute. Things were going well enough up until Krick and Ick, then the healing priest told us to hurry up because he'd have a raid soon, so the death knight tank quickly pulled the next trash pack (you know the ones, the nasty ones with the fireballs and ewww). We wiped, the priest left the group. Surprise, surprise.

While we were corpse-running I put us into the queue for a healer replacement. The next instant the shaman who had healed us through Forge of Souls earlier joins the party.

"Hello again! :)" I greet him.

Shaman has left the group.

Rrright. Either I'm a lot scarier than I ever thought, or seeing dead people was simply way too terrifying for the shaman. Maybe he thought being dead was contagious or something. We had just got back into the instance when a holy paladin joined us to fill the once again vacated healer slot. We had another wipe on the annoying trash, after which point the tank instructed me to always pull with a freezing arrow and keep one of the casters trapped. I swear I haven't felt this useful since Burning Crusade; it was bittersweet. After that we cleared the rest of the instance without problems.

Several people in the party wanted to continue and it would have been nice for sure, but my hunter was already saved for heroic Halls of Reflection, so my boyfriend and I said our goodbyes, I logged on my druid to heal and we tried to form a new party for the instance instead.

After another ten-minute wait we were good to go with a paladin tank, a death knight and a warlock. The paladin's gear was pretty good and we downed the first boss without any wipes, which was encouraging. During one of the early waves preceding the second boss however, I end up standing too close to a footman, get shield-bashed while casting a regrowth and we wipe because I'm locked out of all my resto spells.

I explain this to the group as we run back and someone "lol"s, which I guess is better than expressing anger and frustration, so we get ready to try again. We start the event again, but the warlock just stands there in the middle of the room instead of joining the rest of the group. The tank makes an effort to save him but as it turns out he's been disconnected. We fight valiantly but eventually get overwhelmed due to lack of dps.

We boot the warlock and get a mage instead. We try again, but this time the paladin simply fails completely at picking up the mobs during one of the later waves, they all pile on me and I die instantly. She then leaves the group without another word - why, cause it's our fault when I get mugged by untanked mobs?

We get in line for another tank and get joined by a death knight of the silent variety who doesn't respond to our greetings. Still, he gets into position to start tanking the event so all seems good. The first wave of trash spawns and shiiit, what is this, why is my screen freezing up... "You have been disconnected from the server." I log back in right away but already the tank and the mage have dropped from the group. "Stupid DCs," I mutter. "We noticed :D," responds the death knight.

We use the dungeon finder to once again find a new tank and one more dps. A hunter joins as well as a tauren warrior called "Aggrobot". My boyfriend and I barely have time to consider the originality of that name (just between the two of us, not in chat or anything) when Aggrobot leaves again. Why? Who knows? This time it's not like we even had time to say or do anything at all to scare him off, and we were all alive.

The next tank follows soon afterwards, another tauren warrior with a less ridiculous name. He, too, is of the silent variety and decides to completely ignore our greetings. As it turns out he tanks reasonably well though, and while we end up facing Marwyn with one dps down, we finally do get to face him and I'm already sighing a sigh of relief when suddenly, the tank goes splat before I can even blink. What the hell? According to the log he got debuffed with corrupted flesh, which I was pretty sure wasn't supposed to go on the tank like, ever, and then got two-shotted. Good times. Unsurprisingly the warrior leaves the party, still without having said a single word.

We queue up for a new tank yet again. This time nothing happens for several minutes, except that we get spammed with messages informing us that someone has declined the group invite and we're being returned to the front of the queue. Is our bad reputation spreading already? My boyfriend suggested that they kept offering the slot to the same tank, who didn't want to join a run where the first boss had already been downed. The death knight started to giggle insanely, and the hunter expressed a burning determination to finish no matter what. "I didn't get saved to this for nothing!"

Finally... an undead warrior joins us. He, too, is of the completely silent variety who doesn't even return greetings. However, he turns out to be one hell of a tank, picks up all the mobs with ease and then keeps them, and we manage to down Marwyn without anyone dying. Orca Hunter's Harpoon drops, much to the delight of the hunter. At this point I was glad that someone got something out of this run, as I was starting to feel increasingly embarrassed about the whole affair, as if it was all my fault.

I was hoping that we'd be able to one-shot the escape from the Lich King after all that, but ended up wiping on the fourth wall (Is anyone else ever overcome by an urge to make jokes about breaking the fourth wall whenever that comes up?) because the dps overlooked a caster at the back and was wondering why the wall didn't come down.

I fully expected the tank to drop out at that point, but he stayed and actually spoke, telling the dps to ramp it up a bit! Oh. My. Gawd. Let's just say that we finished smoothly after that and it felt exhilarating.

Thank you, undead warrior tank, for being the guy who made it happen in the end.

Thank you, dps death knight, for being the one guy who stuck with us throughout this whole adventure and for shrugging off all the wipes with a sense of humour.

Thank you, hunter, for also being determined to stay until the end.

Throughout these three runs we ended up being grouped with no less than sixteen different people, seven of which were tanks. That's nearly a third towards "The Patient" as it is, though I think it only counts the people with whom you actually finish the instance for the achievement. Anyway, screw you people who have "The Patient" after two days and drop out of any party as soon as the slightest thing goes wrong. You clearly have no idea what patience is anyway.

Disclaimer: I might have missed a wipe or two somewhere and I'm not entirely sure I got the order of tanks completely right either. Apologies in either case, after the fifth tank it all got a bit fuzzy.

11/12/2009

First impressions of the new five-mans

One of my guild's mages poked me tonight because he wanted me to help out in Halls of Reflection, and was horrified to find out that apparently I was the only person on the server who hadn't done any of the new five-mans yet (and thus wasn't attuned to HoR). Taking pity on me, he logged on his death knight tank soon afterwards to take me on a tour of the new instances. Since we were also feeling confident, we decided to go for heroic mode straight away.

In the end our group consisted of me on my priest, a feral druid main, death knight alt (who is quite well-geared), a pretty well-geared warlock alt and our main tank's crappy mage alt. And I do mean crappy, he's still in his levelling greens for the most part. Funnily enough, before we managed to rope the feral druid in, we wanted to pug a dps using the dungeon finder, but it wouldn't let us queue for heroic Forge of Souls because mage alt's gear was too crappy. Fear not, puggers, Blizzard won't inflict fools like us on any pug. Well, I thought it was kind of amusing anyway (if also sensible). Still, nothing prevented us from attempting heroic mode on our own.

Just to be clear, the following contains spoilers.

The Forge of Souls

My main impression of the Forge of Souls was that it's vast and kind of empty. The first boss, Bronjahm, wasn't particularly memorable to me either. Still, as a healer I had no reason to complain, as there was enough random damage going around to keep me busy. It was also enough damage to kill mage alt a few times on trash, as his health was very low even with buffs.

The second boss, Devourer of Souls, was pretty cool and a nice flashback to Black Temple's Reliquary of Souls. He also has an interesting ability called mirrored soul, which causes damage that he takes to be transferred to the party member he targetted, so if your dps isn't on the ball they might just end up nuking their own allies. Death knight tank tried to explain the boss's abilities as best as he could, but forgot to mention the evil death ray coming from the feminine face at certain intervals (called wailing souls), so I promptly got caught by that, died and we wiped.

While the rest of the party ran back, I spent the next ten minutes circling Icecrown Citadel on my ghostly gryphon, trying to find the instance entrance again. The warlock eventually took pity on me and came back out to guide me inside. On our next attempt we beat the Devourer of Souls without too much trouble, though two people still managed to get caught by the death ray (just not me this time).

Pit of Saron

We continued to the Pit of Saron (What kind of name is that anyway?), which turned out to be a big quarry outside. A sizeable group of Horde NPCs joined us there and promptly got wiped out, just to be raised as undead right after. So basically they are admitting that the Argent Tournament was pointless? Since this was exactly the kind of scenario it was supposed to prevent, wasn't it? Just saying.

Next we had to spend some time running around killing trash and freeing Horde slaves, and I seriously cracked up when one of freed slaves responded to my help with: "Have my babies." The Horde knows its weird slang, yo.

The first boss, Forgemaster Garfrost, was kind of annoying. He does some mildly damaging AoE all the time, and some big AoE every now and then that you are supposed to avoid by line-of-sighting him by hiding behind a lump of saronite. Which is all well and good, but in practice my party also ended up line-of-sighting each other a lot of the time, making it hard for me to keep everyone alive. While we one-shot him, it wasn't without deaths.

The Ick and Krick encounter was fun, but I'm starting to suspect that all boss fights that involve a gnome are simply automatically made of win. And I don't even like gnomes.

Afterwards we managed to wipe on some trash consisting almost exclusively of vyrkul casters who spammed mad fireballs and diseases. I reckon that using crowd control is prudent here.

The gauntlet leading up to Scourgelord Tyrannus wasn't too tough, though the boss himself certainly was. We ended up wiping due to me being unable to keep up with the incoming damage, though while talking about it afterwards it turned out that he too has a damage-redirecting ability, which essentially caused our dps to nuke our own tank. Once people knew to avoid that on the next attempt, the damage became much more manageable.

Then Horde NPCs came and cheered. Yay! Except then Sylvanas suddenly ported us away and everyone else got pwned. Sigh.

Halls of Reflection

We continued to Halls of Reflection, the last of the new five-mans. Sylvanas made a long speech and stuff happened with Frostmourne, which I might have enjoyed more if our death knight hadn't chattered away on Vent the whole time, saying how this was all really cool the first time but was bound to get tedious after so many runs. I pointedly reminded him that for some of us it was the first time and that I was trying to enjoy the show, thank you.

What followed next was probably the longest "boss fight" I've ever seen in a five-man. Five waves of annoying trash, one tank-and-spank boss, a brief pause to loot, then another five waves of trash and another tank-and-spank. It doesn't sound that bad on paper and I didn't actually time it, but I know that I used my shadowfiend twice and got innervated by the feral druid about four times, so in healer minutes the fight lasted a veeery long time. The rogue trash mobs were particularly nasty as they were fond of shadow-stepping behind a clothie. Unsurprisingly mage alt got one-shot more than once. Still, we managed to complete the event without wiping.

Afterwards we swiftly continued to the end of the hall, where Sylvanas was fighting Arthas, our feral druid charged him and was promptly one-shot. We laughed.

Next followed the infamous retreat to the airship, and damn it was intense. Basically you run along a relatively narrow ledge, and Arthas keeps erecting walls in front of you while slowly following you and sending undead armies to annoy you. Sylvanas gets the easy job of shooting at the walls while your party has to defend themselves against the undead. (I would have loved to trade places.)

There are four walls in total: The first one is easy to bring down, the second one a bit tougher but not too bad either, by the third one you'll start to sweat and if you make it to the fourth wall you'll likely be flailing and screaming by that point. Which is actually pretty cool if you think about it, I haven't had such an intense heroic experience in a while.

We had several wipes at the third and fourth wall respectively, but got better with each attempt as we adjusted our strategy. For example we found it wise to kill the casters before the abominations, since they put a lot of pressure on the healer with their shadow bolt volley spam. Getting wiped out by Arthas had a certain kind of amusement value as well, as he doesn't actually attack anyone in your party. He just walks up to Sylvanas, one-shots her, then looks at you lazily and wipes you by casting some mega spell with Frostmourne. You have to admit that it's got a certain amount of style.

Anyway, after five attempts or so we were squeezing ourselves against the fourth wall while desperately whittling down the health of the last abominations, Arthas' icy breath coming down our necks already... but just before he could kill Sylvanas we got the wall down and could make a run for it. And boy, I haven't run away from something in WoW with that much enthusiasm in a while.

Overall rating

I enjoyed all three of the instances, though the Forge of Souls was a little dull compared to the other two. I can see all of them becoming very popular however, as they allow you to participate in a nice little story and that's always fun. There's a reason Escape from Durnhole was the most popular BC dungeon by about a mile.

Difficulty-wise they are also quite tough and actually reminded me of BC heroics a bit. Halls of Reflection was definitely the most difficult one - and as much as I enjoy the new LFG tool, I don't think I'd want to pug that one on heroic just yet (though it's probably easier when you don't have to carry one dpser in greens).