Monday, July 20, 2009
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.