Monday, July 20, 2009

[General] 10-mans observations

I've been doing a lot more 10-mans as my schedule's been a bit more free this summer. Up until last week I'd never done all of Ulduar on Felhoof. I had two experiences that were about as wildly varied as could be.

The first was me getting in a bit late, in a group that needed a second tank. I thought it would be okay, and it looked like a solid group - but a number of the people in it decided to leave early, go AFK, or otherwise only stick around for gear on the boss they wanted and then leave. They've since been kicked from the guild, and good riddance. But these all conflated to a very difficult time of it - and it didn't help that the other group that was going at the same time was knocking out hard mode achievements left and right. We finished up without doing Yogg in two whole days, and only managed one hardmode achievement (XT).

It was honestly one of the most demoralizing experiences I had ever had playing. Not just wiping over and over to things we've done before simply because people were leaving and we were scrambling to find people, or people simply couldn't perform at the level we recruited them at - but knowing that it was doable by other people that I raid with...sigh.

The next week I got to go in on the 'hard mode' group's run because they needed a second well-geared tank for Algalon tries as well as finishing up their Glory of the Raider achievement; they had Vezax and Yogg hard mode to go. And sure enough, it was a breeze. One-shot virtually every hard mode in there that we tried (we didn't do Firefighter). We one-shot Freya+3 and did it so fast we got Conspeedatory. The only trouble we had was doing a side achievement on Thorim, and once we stopped trying for that we breezed through things too. We got to Vezax and two-shot him on hard, then got to Yogg and one-shot him on everyone's first try at that hard mode. We went back and did Ignis and Razorscale's achievements, and at the end of the night 7 people had their Rusted Protodrake.

Not me - I started the night only having Hodir and Kologarn done, and finished with only Mimiron to go. Pretty sweet.

I've talked about what makes runs so much better or worse, and in this I think it really came down to leadership and experience. I did the running of the group the first time, and I didn't and don't have a lot of experience on Ulduar. It was frustrating, and I didn't know the strats as well as I should have - and that was compounded by people flailing about and leaving left and right, babies crying, etc. The second group had done most of this many times before and had had practice at it, and the raid leader has been leading these sorts of things for months - and strats were ready, questions were answered quickly, and things went well. I've talked about the importance of leadership before, and it's definitely true now.

At least right now, I shouldn't be doing leading. Too many distractions, not enough knowledge of the fights from top to bottom. Ah well.

Anyway, onto the actual analysis. 10-man is very, very well done. FL+4 and XT are both easy enough hard modes that they're not really gating bosses. The actual fights of the hard modes are pretty nice with the exception of Hodir. Hodir is still a boring hard mode, largely. Thorim adds interesting tension, Freya is quite a different fight.

But Vezax and Yogg are masterful.

Vezax has a tension that isn't in almost any fight I've ever done. Maximizing performance when you can't really do anything is a bizarre mechanic, but one that works. Every move made requires a weighing - if I do this, will the raid wipe? Then you have the Animus spawn, and it goes insane - damage is everywhere, you only have a certain amount of time, and you've still got to watch out for most of the mechanics from before.

Yogg with fewer keepers is astoundingly different. I'm shocked at how important the sanity mechanic is when you can't refresh it. Hodir and Mimiron aren't really missed, but having no sanity is like night and day. It changes how you can DPS, it changes what you're going to do (sending in 4 DPS in portals so that you get fewer brain phases means no healer), and it drastically changes the tension in phase 3 for a DPSer. Instead of worrying that you won't make the enrage, you're worrying constantly whether you're going to take that last bit of damage that'll send you over the edge.

As a cat, what I ended up doing was being absurdly cautious and maximizing bleeds. I'd try and rake, shred shred rip and then rake - and then turn around immediately and await the next lunatic gaze. I didn't start this way, but my sanity was dropping precipitously (to a mighty 4!) and I couldn't afford anything else. It worked, too; I topped the meters with bleeds on yogg.

But the tension was palpable. It was a crazy fight because of that. Just brilliant. Kudos to Blizzard for adding such an interesting mechanic to an otherwise boring fight.

Which brings me to...Algalon. Algalon isn't at all hard. In our first hour of attempts we got him to mid-40s, and that was mostly just learning what to call out and how to move, and what the behaviors are. The only thing that's stopping us right now, and we're having a hard time with, is when to kite constellations into holes and which ones to leave up - but that's mostly because we didn't consider that so important. Once we iron that out a bit more, (likely making sure that no one is near the hole we'll take and kiting constellations into specific ones outside of that) I think it'll be a clean kill. It's disappointing; the actual zone is epic, beautiful, and the lore is great. The fight itself compared to Yogg-1 or Vezax or Freya or Mimiron is much less special.

It's a bummer. It really should be a super hard fight, but the only thing that stopped us was double zones, zones closing early, and melee being stupid about not moving out of Cosmic Smash.

If y'all have any tips, I'd love to hear 'em.

Anyway, will have the cat epic gem comparison later this week.


Bialar said...

Now that you started doing hardmodes, what is your take on the Tortured Earth staff that vezax drops on 10man hardmode, compared to the other staffs that drop from 25man?

DaveP said...

I've followed your blog for a while, and I must say I enjoy these types of posts. It makes you into a human being who plays wow, and brings you out from that hiding place you constructed for yourself behind a folding panel of spreadsheets :P

No tips from me on Algy though; I missed my first look at him last night due to internet failure.

Seriously, I struggle with leadership & raid competence about 100x more than I struggle with gear & stats & which gem is best. So I love these types of posts: Keep em coming. Leadership is at least 70% of success, I'd say.

I just switched to a new guild and the difference was dramatic. One-shotted most 10man hardmodes, with extra time needed for freya, mim & yogg. People were going in there with their alts by this point. My last guild could barely do 10man XT hardmode without wiping a few times. The guild was run like a dictorship, by a nazi officer leader who has a depressive effect on everyone. I fear that most people dont realize what a bad leader he is, or the negative effect he has. People dont think very much about it. Once I left, it seemed morale plummeted and they couldnt even complete a vanilla yogg25. The other tanks want to leave too. I wanted to tell them "you're leader sucks, how many more people have to quit before you gkick him?" but they weren't interested. People are so busy trying not to annoy the individual, to ensure they get a raid invite/dont get gkicked themselves (even the other officers are intimidated). Their appalling progression is a reflection of that one individual's attitude.

Sorry to rant on, but switching guilds made me realize our experience in wow can be night and day, depending on the people we end up with and more importantly the leadership.

catbear said...

as for tips, if you're tanking algalon together with a warrior, you should start tanking. we take less damage than a warrior since savage defense always blocks the mainhand AND the offhand hit since they hit at exactly the same time. With you starting, you will have (with normal dps) algalon on you when he goes below 20% and the adds start to spawn, which then can be taken by the warrior.

we always leave a black hole at a certain position (mostly on the right side of algalon, the mt healers stand there, too) open, all others are permitted to be terminated. the tank who is not tanking should always be closing the holes, and the person who has aggro of the remaining constellation should watch out to go down last.

Darksend said...

my guild runs 4 10 man ulduars a week that clear every single hard mode (3/4 have algalon down and the 4th got firefighter in our 1st week). 3 of them have exactly the same people.

I CANNOT STRESS ENOUGH the success that comes from that familiarity with the personalities of the people you play with. We leveled alts together specifically because 2 ulduars a week were not enough and we enjoy playing together. That kind of trust and experience is truly the key to why we do so well (for example tonight we cleared flame levi through 3 keepers all on hard mode in an hour in 10 man).

algalon kill with vent.

That said i said months ago that aglalon was a joke and only hard because of the 1 hour timer and people flamed me saying I had no life and its impossible to get to him without killing yourself playing to much. Glad a more credible source is agree with me :)

Darksend said...

@ catbear:

since savage defense always blocks the mainhand AND the offhand hit since they hit at exactly the same time.

sorry but this is not true. the video proves that. now it can happen on VERY rare occasions but you make it sound like it will happen every time SD is up which is blatantly misleading.

also there are several strategies that all revolve around the availability of external cool downs and who your offtank is. when you reply with those i can give you more info

all 3 of our groups have different tank teams (me and a warrior, my alt warrior and a DK, then a pally and a DK) so we use different tanking rotations in all 3 then another completely different one in the 25 man because of the availability of 2 GS's and shadowpriests.

Anonymous said...

@darksend "people flamed me saying I had no life"
Hehe I flamed you because you went around the web boasting about how awesome you & your friends are. Big different friend, and I see nothing's changed.

Kalon said...

Bialar, thanks for writing. Tortured Earth is slightly better; it has less agility but much more potential stamina, and the other stats aren't that important. If you can get it, awesome.

DaveP - really, leadership more than anything matters. Raids don't fail because tanks put in a parry gem. They fail because a leader isn't telling people what they need to know. Sometimes very well-motivated people don't need to get much leadership, and that's great. But more often than not, it's herding cats, except the cats are walruses that can't move out of void zones. Congrats on your new guild, in any case. :)

Catbear, I tank with a paladin. Him and I take about the same damage, give or take. Leaving one black hole open no matter what and moving if you have aggro is a really good idea.

Darksend, I think you're right; the second team doesn't have a lot of cohesion and hasn't been playing together very long, and many of them simply haven't even been in the guild long. The other group has a core that's been doing it pretty much every week. That helps tremendously. Even if the compositions aren't optimal, player cohesion more than makes up for it.

As to our strategy, we're using a spriest to soak one bang, then the paladin with pain suppression for the other. That part has worked fine; the problems we had were people standing in smashes, people closing holes and people not getting to holes in time. In terms of damage intake it was very stable.

Darksend said...

one thing we recently started doing is draging him to the far back of the room and tanking him against the back wall. It made a noticeable difference on smash damage and also made it really obvious which black holes should be closed. also if a smash is on the tank you cannot run the wrong way and run out of range of your healers (cough*beentheredonethat*cough)

the down side to this is we wiped on time because the only hole up was a million miles away and none of the melee moved (but we also had a star killer dead and no one switched to help so black holes were behind)

finally big wigs > dbm for algalon. It has exact timers for everything. calling out every 15-20 secs how long remaining till big bang helps people plan for example in the case when the only hole was on the far side I should have moved algalon over to it because i knew people were not going to move