Yes, our server is a bit backwater. :)
Yogg is probably my favorite fight of the entire instance so far, though it's also very easily the most frustrating. Mimiron is more fun, but Yogg is harder (and thus I enjoy it more). But to explain this, I need to break this up into smaller bits.
See, some fights aren't really pushing any one quality of raiders, one way or another. Flame Leviathan is the biggest extreme; it requires so little from raiders that they don't even need to know how to play their own class to down the boss. Other fights are basically this way - ultra-forgiving, mechanically simple, etc. Thankfully there aren't that many fights out there.
Other fights emphasize an aspect of the trinity of raiding. For example, XT emphasizes (or at least emphasized) DPS. The healing requirements were not huge and did not require a lot of coordination, and the tanking was 'stand still'. But DPS needed to be on the ball to beat the enrage, to focus fire certain things, to do both massive single and AoE target, etc. This is commonly known as a 'check'. And checks are interesting, but they're not all that challenging most of the time because even with them, there's a lot of room for really good players to boost up the mediocre ones.
Most of Ulduar are 'checks' in one form or another. Razorscale's a tank check. Ignis used to be a tank check. XT is DPS. Kologarn is primarily a DPS and healer check. Hodir's a DPS check. Thorim is largely a healing and tanking check. Vezax is a tanking and DPS check.
What about the others? That's when you get into the next level of difficulty - raidwide coordination. This requires a big dance and a lot of coordination to get down. Freya's all about coordination; focus firing adds in certain ways, moving around, etc. Mimiron is a great example of a coordination fight. Coordination fights are often characterized by multi-phase encounters and often with weird roles that classes normally don't play, such as a ranged DPS acting as a tank. Iron Council (really, any "council" or multi-boss fight), Mimiron, and Yogg are this way - and Mimiron's the best of the lot.
So what makes Yogg harder? Yogg has the final (and in easy-mode Ulduar, the only) aspect of raiding: personal accountability. AKA the Teron Gorefiend/Ledge boss issue. Most fights require a certain amount of raidwide output; raidwide damage, raid tanking, raid healing. If one person isn't as good or doesn't do exactly what they need, it's usually recoverable. Some roles are obviously more important, but even in that case you know that you can put your best X (tank, DPS, healer) in that role and you'll be fine.
But some fights require that every single person in your raid is at least not horrible and knows what to do and how to do it - and if they don't, it's a wipe. Teron was the bane of many guilds because of this mechanic, where anyone might be selected for death and the dreaded construct duty. And every guild seemed to have 'that guy'. The guy that just for whatever reason couldn't do constructs to save their life, or freaked out, or always DCed right when they were selected and stood in the middle of the raid drooling, or whatever.
Yogg is really the only fight that has this degree of difficulty. And honestly it's not that huge by comparison to Gorefiend; it's still recoverable a lot of the time. Nevertheless, lots of ways to mess things up in phase 1 alone:
- You could decide that clouds should not be avoided and should be hugged. Adds are fun! Worst part about this is that you can recover from this eventually...but you'll waste too much time to beat the enrage.
- Or you just kill the adds in Phase 1 too early and they don't explode on Sara, meaning you're 20-30 seconds behind.
- Or you don't interrupt a couple and kill off too many people (and make them stand still for too long)
- You could go sit in the sanity well and do half dps for a while.
- You could just not kill crushers that appear on the other side of the raid
- You could be a melee that's going down the portals and miss your portal...
- ...or take someone else's...
- ...or get grabbed by a tentacle and not call for a BoP...
- ...or go into the portals and die because you couldn't turn around enough
- ...or stay too long in the brain and get MCed
- ...or not down the tentacles in the brain fast enough and wipe the outside raid
For the record Friday was my first look at YS, but our guild had been working on him for a couple weeks. So they had worked out a lot of the kinks: positioning in Phase 1 and who does what, how to take the portals, how to keep melee from dying, etc. Each wipe does that, and that's why even when you don't have what it takes to down a boss right then that it's still valuable to practice. And yeah, I did n00b it up. I did take someone else's portal, I didn't call out for a BoP when I was constricted, I probably did too much damage to an add and made it blow up outside of a raid (pesky rip/rake dots are too damn good sometimes).
But I only made the same mistakes once.
From a cat perspective, YS is kind of annoying in that there's very little to backstab on YS. The way we did it there's nothing at all. I actually pulled out the bracers and boots from Sunwell and got ye olde 2pT6 bonus to do more manglespam, which wasn't so bad. Cats do have lots of advantages though - between being faster by default, having pounce and very good bursty AoE, they do a lot for the raid.
Anyway, YS is definitely the hardest fight because it requires such personal accountability. You can't carry people on it. People do have to perform at a reasonable level, but most importantly they can't screw up. It was nice to be able to do a fight like that again.
On a personal note, I got my second Ulduar piece of loot - Garona's Guise. None of the rogues wanted it, which I can understand; no armor pen, less AP, and a lot of unneeded stamina. But for a bear? Good times. I also got lucky on Emalon and got the Armwraps of Triumph. Three upgrades for tanking so far. Nothing for cat though. Although...honestly, cats don't need it. At least I don't. Even being a month behind on cat gear I'm still doing really strong DPS, 5k on any fight at least and often much higher. Cat DPS may need nerfing, honestly. Or at least better scaling.
Next up, hard modes for our guild. This should be interesting. Unlike T7, most hard modes in Naxx are gates. In other words, you can't just leave up a boss and go do the other stuff first, then go back and do the hard mode. FL, XT, all the Watchers, Vezax and YS are all this way. That leaves basically Iron Council as the only optional hardmode boss. So I'm curious - how are guilds out there planning on taking these guys on and making sure that you down the rest of the content? When do you give up on a hard mode for the week and go kill the rest of the stuff? I believe our plan is to spend our first raid night clearing up to the Watchers and killing the ones that we're not going to do hard modes on for a while (Mimiron for sure, Freya perhaps) and leave the optional bosses up. Then start work on the hard modes from then until night 3. On night 4, mop up everything we have left. It's a bit risky, but the alternative is to not kill the bosses we've already killed, and that means less improvement for the raid overall.
So how are y'all doing it?