Posts from the 'News' Category
Cataclysm has finally passed us by. The long months of farming Dragon Soul are finally over, making way for the shiny new expansion. Mists of Pandaria doesn’t bother with revamping old zones or streamlining leveling, instead focusing (like a good expansion should) on the higher level/end-game stuff. We’re now just over a week in, and I thought I’d make a new blog post to comment on the state of things before we dive into raiding, give some recognition to awesome guild achievements, and generally update this dusty blog.
So, aptly, we’ll start with day one achievements. Let me start by saying that a group of us would have reached Realm First 90 at the same time, if it weren’t for Blizzard managing to screw up Alterac Valley, allowing players to earn ridiculous amounts of experience per hour (even by losing battles). Once again, we found ourselves able to start levelling at around 02:00 server time, a good 45 minutes behind the front end of the curve. Still, our merry band of intrepid realm-first-seekers pushed on, getting ahead of the curve as we entered the 2nd leveling zone (the Nagrand-esque Valley of the Four Winds).
However, it was Zohryn (now Zogh, resto/DPS druid) who snagged our very first guild achievement, bagging Realm First! Zen Master Skinner in almost no time at all!
With a metric fuckton of preparation and two miners/peons collecting materials for him, Neimi took a short break from leveling to earn Realm First! Zen Master Engineer!
90 seconds after priest Ebrill hit Realm First! Level 90 in GGBlizzard Valley, Stoke snagged Realm First! Level 90 Death Knight, now having 3 expansions worth of class Realm Firsts.
Minutes after that, I myself hit Level 90, getting Realm First! Level 90 Rogue.
Neimi followed shortly with Realm First! Level 90 Paladin, having out-leveled the Alliance competition in the last stretch.
Others came close, with Onida losing out on realm first shaman to another Alterac Valley farmer – consolations to him! Yukela’s attempt to be the first monk at 90 was also thwarted by some buggy level granting from the RAF account, and his competition having some pretty dedicated boosters. Annoying to say the least. Iltharen/Julia’s fishing attempt was close, but no cigar – someone else was lucky enough to grab that achievement. Anyway, on to other things.
It’s apparent that Mists of Pandaria is a completely different beast to Cataclysm. Along with the new lighting engine which makes everything look nicer, the aesthetics of the zones and the attention to detail mean that Pandaria’s locales are the best WoW has ever seen. The levelling is also certainly more challenging – by the time you hit the Dread Wastes, you’ll probably want to team up with a buddy if you’re not a particularly strong self-healer. The zones feel more alive than ever before, and with a huge amount of rare monsters/items to find, exploration has never been better rewarded (there’s even a faction that gives you a mount for exploring special lore items).
While not everyone agrees with the INSANE amount of dailies that one can do, the content is certainly more engaging than Cataclysm’s incredibly linear, often shallow dailies and quest lines. While I find the majority of the dailies more entertaining than Cataclysm’s, a large number of professions rely on these reputations to earn any money. While it lends gravitas to an individual’s achievements in their crafting, it’s a questionable design philosophy. If Blizzard intends alts to farm the same dailies for months on end, I can see people being discouraged from fully experiencing content on different classes. Time will tell.
Until that time, we now have heroic dungeons, scenarios and the incredibly daunting challenge modes to keep us busy outside of raids. The heroics vary in quality – if you ask me, some of the bosses are a bit lacklustre, and Shado-Pan Monastery needs to be cut in half to make two instances. Still, the overall quality of design is far superior to Cataclysm’s mostly uninspired dungeons. Again, the design and attention to detail is better than ever. No question.
The scenarios are somewhere between heroics and group quests, and are relatively fun for what they are. If Blizzard keep adding them, they’ll be a nice filler – although well-geared players will munch through them incredibly quickly. They’re harmless bites of gameplay for when you have absolutely nothing else to do, but still want to play WoW.
Then there’s Challenge modes. Oh, boy, Challenge modes. Imagine BC heroics amped up a few notches and then some. Then add a timer to it, so to get the highest achievement for it, you need to pull fast, CC efficiently and put out a HELL of a lot of DPS. We worked on what’s said to be the easiest one for the last few days, finally getting Gold after what must be 40-50 tries at least. They are utterly bonkers, and the last few seconds of the instance today were incredibly tense. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Gold awards for challenge modes turn out to be the hardest content Blizzard have ever released.
When you’re done with crafting, dailies, heroics, Challenge modes, scenarios, and there’s no raid on… PET BATTLES. Honestly, I didn’t think I’d get into these, however Blizzard haven’t half-arsedly inserted Pokemon into their engine. There’s a proper questline spanning across all the continents, an insane amount of achievements and rare pets to obtain, and the actual system itself is as addictive as the game it so shamelessly knocks off. I smell a lawsuit, Blizzard.
THC is about to step into our first raid, so we’ll see what that content is like. After all, for most people in The Hungering Cold, raids are the most important part. But I take solace in the fact that there is no way, just NO WAY that it can get any worse than Dragon Soul, can it? Here’s hoping.
As we plunge down through the cracked floor to the hidden reaches beneath us, the victory rush from defeating the lord of the Twilight’s Hammer pales in comparison to the fact we’re mere minutes away from standing infront of Sinestra. Congratulations to everyone that attended the progress raids and ultimately led us to killing Cho’gall!
Also good work ninjapulling Sinestra and getting her down by 1%. Okay, not really. I blame Ksav.
Cataclysm is certainly offering a completely different level of challenge on its first tier of raiding than what its prior bastard cousin, Wrath of the Lich king, had in store. After renewing the roster with a sleuth of promising recruits and scoring a long-due kill of Nefarian on heroic mode, progression once again kicks up properly when we turn our eyes to the next obstacle in our conquest of Tier11 heroics – Cho’gall. The man, the ogre, the legend. The guy that did questionable things with the dead husk of a God. Yeah, that guy. We all love him.
At first glance, reading a rough summary of our favorite doomsday prophet’s heroic mode it appears to have very little actual differences in terms of boss mechanics – boiling down to three things:
1) Two Adherent adds instead one
2) The ability to damage elementals that show up to buff Cho’gall
3) An extra type of tentacle in last phase. Schoolgirls unite.
Things are not as simple as they seem, of course. The requirements of the raid for just about all of the mechanics are a massive step up from what the fight asked of a raid on normal mode. After attempting multiple different ways of defeating the encounter for a couple of raid days, it now falls down to the coming serious nights of progression for us to judge if we got what it takes to unlock Sinestra.
Heroic Lich King 25 is the hardest fight in this expansion. It’s not even close. I’m not going to try to compare its difficulty to the level 60 and 70 endgame, but suffice to say that the people who are peering over their rose-tinted glasses and complaining that the game is too easy these days should probably give this encounter a whirl. There are still challenges to be found, and hard ones at that.
If your only experience with the fight is watching kill movies then it probably looks simple enough. It’s just stabbing the Lich King for a bit, occasionally stabbing something else or running away from some black stuff on the ground, and finally watching an RP cutscene after whittling him down to the “kill” at 10%. Right? Actually, it’s a bit more complicated than that. It’s close to 20 minutes of near-perfect execution by 25 people, execution that is built brick-by-brick as you master one mechanic only to get whipped by the next.
Arthas hits like a truck so the first step is dealing with his tank damage. Then your whole raid has to learn how to dodge shadow traps and getting the plague to the shambling horror. Your disc priests need to figure out how to shield the entire raid for every infest and your hunters have to find a way to dispel every shambling horror enrage.
In the transition phases the damage dealers have to find the balance between dps’ing aggressively enough to take down the raging spirits quickly but not enough to snatch aggro and get gibbed. You also have to make sure you kill all the ice spheres before they reach the raid and bounce people off the platform.
Then there’s phase 2 and this is the real cock-block of the encounter. Here you have to figure out a way to handle both major mechanics; the val’kyrs, which forces everyone to stack on top of each other, and the defiles, for which you would much rather be spread out. The stacking is necessary to make the valkyrs follow the same path so that you can hit them all with cleave and AoE damage and then you have to have a specific 3-stun rotation on every valkyr in order to slow them down long enough to get them to 50% health and make them drop their target on the platform rather than off it. This sounds easier than it is given that stuns are on strict diminishing returns and a single random stun can mess things up, and the fact that you can easily find yourselves in trouble if the val’kyr targets happen to be your infest-shielding priests or your designated stunners.
Then there’s defile. Oh, defile. How thine cruel nature dost vex me. Bearing a passing resemblance to a BP oil spill, it’s a black blob of ick that spawns under a random raid member and then keeps expanding in diameter if anyone is standing in it. On heroic mode it is very unforgiving and you can’t really overcome one dropped on top of the raid.
Once you actually start to master phase 2 and its defiles, though, the battle is won for all intents and purposes. You still have to learn how to dodge explosions in the Frostmourne room after the Lich King attempts to harvest your souls, how to soak the vile spirits, and let’s not forget that you still have to deal with defiles although they are easier to manage without the val’kyr spawns. But as long as your raid dps is good enough to beat Lich King’s enrage timer, the last phase is a formality compared to the preceding phase.
THC LK 25 heroic first kill HD stream [ PoV: Jinjiro, rogue ]
(If you’re wondering why it ends so abruptly and doesn’t show the RP stuff and 10% victory lap nuke, it’s because Jin ran out of hard drive space while frapsing which made his computer crash right at the start of the RP bit. ^^)
This kill was not cheaply gained. The cost was great and the currency was blood, sweat, tears and time. Lots of time. Summer isn’t a great time for raid progress as holidays and other activites take priority and this fact combined with some core raiders taking breaks slowed our march to victory. But it could not stop it.
*wipes away proud guild leader tear*
Well done and congratulations, THC. You deserved it.
Blood, sweat, tears and a well-deserved Lich King 25 heroic kill at 23:57 on the last attempt of the night. Game over, man, game over!
Kill movie will be up once Jinjiro gets around to editing it.
I’d write more but it will have to wait because right now I’m going to rest on my laurels. I’ll let Ricky Gervais elaborate:
Through awesome dedication, blood and sweat and tears, we have pushed our way through the hard modes in Icecrown Citadel. The raiding team has done an amazing job adjusting to all the new fights, and most hard mode encounters have been going down the same week we decided to go for them. Some was easy; Festergut, Rotface and Dreamwalker gave us little problems, while others such as Sindragosa, Putricide and Deathwhisper made us want to bash our keyboards to pieces.
We eventually managed to get all 11 bosses down, and looked upon the buffed up Arthas Menethil a few weeks ago. The theory think tank has been working hard ever since to come up with ways to counter this and that, and we have put serious pressure on the quantity of gold in the guild banks coffers – as it turns out, it costs a lot of gold to wipe that much.
Slowly, steadily, we push through the encounter, and as we conquer one phase, we run smack into a wall on the next. The more times we try the fight, the less panicky and more structured it becomes, until we weed out the silly mistakes and notice the critical points in the fight that wipes us. “Hard mode is hard” has never been more true, but with the dedication of our raiders and our leaders, we are making our way towards the kill.
It’s not over yet, Arthas! IT’S NOT OVER YET!
Phase one remains the same as on normal mode, except that the adds spawn faster, have a lot more health and do a lot more damage. The same goes for the boss. Thank god her shield stayed the same, the hard thing for some people seems to be not falling asleep during phase 1, it can become quite boring after a couple of tries.
Once the shield is down on good timing to get rid of adds quickly as she breaks the real fun starts. Adds keep spawning in phase two, luckily it’s only 3 at a time instead of 7. The best thing to do is bring the caster adds close to the boss so they die quickly and have a warrior tank with piercing howl kite the melee adds, a la Razorgore.
The real problem seemed to be ghosts however. She spawns her little ghosts as always, except now if they touch you they explode in your and everyone else in a 20 yard radius’ face for 25k!
To deal with the ghosts simply run away from them, they exist for only 5 seconds, then they despawn. But people seemed to have problems seeing them at first, luckily after some tries we figured out how to spot and avoid the ghosts, finally resulting in a kill!
Yes poor Saurfang, his days of acting sour are over. We killed him on 25-man Heroic mode, now he can finally have a proper ceremony in Nagrand next to the pyres of his mother and ancestors… until the instance resets.
He went down on the second try! And that was quite a smooth kill sans the overagrro at the start. Poor Tya had to respec for just two tries while expecting at least two hours – Sorry Tya next time we will wipe some more to get you some time for your money.
Melees taunting adds and slowing them works great, the ranged will be able to take them down before they reach anyone, if you don’t do that there will be too many Mark of the Fallen Champions anyway. Bloodlust at 30% and zerging him down with some talented Divine Sacrifices helping to counter the last couple of marks and he went down quite fast.
And what is this? Conqueror’s Mark of Sanctification, really? Holy shiiit that’s a first! An actual Conqueror token, what is this world coming to?
Good job on the kill! You can see the movie of it right here.
It took us a couple of tries to get this down. Valithria takes a lot of damage so she needs to be healed even more than on normal mode, and the adds spawn faster and do more damage.
At first we tried to keep all the adds in the middle. This tactic didn’t really work as the Blazing Skeletons with their awesome AoE powers would just stand at the sides blowing up everything in the room, so instead we split into two groups which proved to work better. Quick dispels on the tanks are needed as the Abominations spew out some nasty stuff from their guts, the little zombies need to be kited so they don’t blow up into the tanks’ faces and the Archmages need interrupting as their Frostbolt Volleys drain mana.
It was a close call in the end, we barely made it. It all came down to the healers in the end as everyone had died and they quickly healed up the last 3% of the big green lazyass, then she wiped out the rest of the adds. Once again it wasn’t a very clean kill, but hey! It’s our first kill, and a kill is a kill.
More progress on 25-man heroic! On the first 25-man raid day of the week we managed to do the first wing including our on-farm-heroics in only 45 minutes, leaving us a lot of time to practice for our new goals, Heroic Blood Prince Council and Heroic Blood-Queen Lana’thel.
We had some nice tries on the princes but at some point some little mistakes would take us out. On the kill we did very good until a bunch of melee still running back from Prince Keleseth got smashed with an Empowered Shock Vortex. We decided to keep going as they were on pretty low health already and managed to take them down with only a couple of people alive.
Same goes for the queen, a lot of nice tries for practicing, a couple of bad tries as well. Little mistakes here and there until we got it perfect. If it weren’t for some deaths on the kill try she wouldn’t have enraged. Luckily we had our trusty iceblocking mage Vredens there to let the dots finish the job!