Friday, January 29, 2010

Scepter of the Shifting Sands

I really want to do this quest chain before it disappears come Cataclysm.

Of course, it requires doing Blackwing Lair at least twice (and three times if you don't time it right on parallel quest chains), Molten Core once (plus one additional visit that doesn't require any boss kills) and Onyxia once.  Blackwing Lair, since it can't be solo'd (the first boss, at any rate) and since cloaks are needed for Nefarion, will probably be the trickiest part.  (Actually, it looks like there is a way to avoid the AoE shadowflame Nefarion casts upon landing.  WoWWiki suggests that standing behind the throne as he lands permits you to avoid it.  Clever.)

But the initial push to get to neutral with the Brood of Nozdormu (starting at 0/36000 hated) is probably the part that makes me least likely to get this done in time.

Retro Raiding

We only had 8 people show up for the 10-man ICC raid tonight, so we ran old content instead.  (Same thing happened on Tuesday and we spent forever doing Maly for the weekly raid quest...with current gear, we blow through the first two phases, generally getting him down to 40% or so...and then we wipe after about 30 seconds on phase 3 because we have no idea how to use the drakes.  Did you know that you have to target the HoTs on yourself?  Ridiculous.)

After a bit of debating, we arbitrarily chose Blackwing Lair.  Only one of us had ever been before, and that was back during vanilla.  It was awesome.  Blackrock Spire is an amazing instance.  Huge, by modern standards, and incredibly life like.  My favorite remains Blackrock Depths (a full city of dwarves surrounded by lava!  It's real and alive!  None of these little 20 minute dungeon runs with three bosses placed in ludicrous positions.), but the Spire was pretty cool and I'd forgotten how massive it is inside, in the vertical direction. 

Forgotten, that is, until our tank got knocked off a ledge (the trash mobs still knock level 80s back a good distance) and fell all the way into the Lower Spire.  He survived, of course, because he's a magic bear.  Actually, he landed in lava.  Only in WoW do the laws of physics state that a huge fall into lava goes to the runner.  It still took him 20 minutes to find his way back up to us though. 

After that, we killed the General, nabbed the UBRS achievement on these toons (we got Jenkins too...Leeeeeeeroy!) and got properly attuned so that we can just use the Orb of Command next time (the quest had amazing flavor text, including "Good luck storming the castle.").  Which is almost a shame, given how amazing the Spire is. 

We burned our way through the raid.  And I do mean burned.  If the bosses weren't on fire, we generally were.  We got to the corrupt red dragon and the chatter over vent was immediately concerned.  "I hear he's hard!"  "Is he still a raid-wiper?"  No.  We destroyed him.  He barely had time to feel sorry for himself as his face was melting off.  He wept tears of joy.  But only for 15 seconds.  Then he died. 

The suppression rooms were hilarious.  Having no clue what was going on (our rogue tried to disarm them once, but couldn't figure it out), we simply ran through, killing everything in our path, never stopping, never tarrying, very....very....very...slowly.  While humming the Chariots of Fire intro music over vent.  "Epic" barely begins to describe it. 

Nefarion himself is on a stunning ledge, looking out over the desolate landscape below.  Very far below.  We couldn't jump.  I tried.  More than once.  I handed out cloaks so we wouldn't need to worry about shadow flame, and we were off and running.  He was actually tricky, and managed to destroy our hunter's bow.  Oops.  He shouldn't have made her mad.  After he died, she took pleasure in skinning him.  And I sat on the throne and lorded over my guildmates minions. 

All in all, a good night.

After that, four of us went and killed Hakkar in Zul'Gurub (I still needed the achievement on my alliance toon).  We only took down the raptor boss first, and by this point the rogue was fairly drunk and the hunter was pretty loaded with opiates.  Hakkar was a bit of a challenge.  The rogue died.  Twice.  That'll teach'm. 

As a side note, I always go resto and stay tree form during fights where the boss can mind control.  You see, a mind-controlled tree still can't do any damage.  There's always a second when the spell is first cast when I simply stand there.  I imagine the algorithm in the depths of Blizzard's servers is going "Damn, a tree...what now?  Aha, he'll heal the boss!  Damn!  He doesn't even have any good burst healing abilities.  What a schmuck." 

The only classic raid most of us still need is the Temple of Ahn'Qiraj.  The Ruins were epic and utterly stunning in terms of scenery and setting.  Four of us tried the Temple and couldn't make it past the first boss.  Mind controls turned us into our own worst enemies.  But I'm guessing eight of us could down him, and after that it's clear sailing to the Twin Emperors, or so they tell me.  Should be fun.  Maybe next time we come up short, I'll push for that...

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Best way to wipe your Naxx alt raid...

Put down a cleansing totem during Grobbulus. 

Oops...I don't usually play a class that can do anything about diseases, and it didn't occur to me that it would be a problem.  I did think people were being really sloppy until I figured it out...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Mount Hyjal

Last Thursday was the final raid night for our long-time holy paladin, so when a few people had to leave after our first few attempts at Festergut, we decided to go do something epic that none of us had ever seen before.  We headed to the Caverns of Time and, after a few false stumbles, found our way into the Mount Hyjal instance.  There were, as I recall, 6 of us, but we rolled through the entire 25-man raid until 2 more lost the connection to the server just before Archimonde. 

It really is an epic fight.  I ran through the world zone of Hyjal back in 2005, on my tauren druid, before they fixed the door hack.  It was a beautiful zone, with a dead world tree and the skeleton of a giant demon resting on its roots.  Seeing that battle from a first person perspective was amazing.

The initial fight in the human base was pretty easy for us in our mixed T9/T10.  We did get a nasty surprise when, after channeling a "mass teleport" for a while, Jaina teleported herself and her troops to safety, but left us behind.  It was funny for a moment, and then got really exciting as wave after wave of ghouls started shuffling and prancing over the hills and towards us at high speed.  Only half of us made it to the Horde base...the rest got dismounted and had to be left behind (though they joined us after a quick graveyard run). 

The waves of trash at the Horde base were far more epic.  The first time I saw a giant frostwyrm slowly coming in over the trees, I just gaped. 

With full T9 gear, this can easily be done with half a dozen people, so everyone should check it out if they get a chance!  I extended our lockout, so hopefully we'll be able to take out Archimonde sometime this week.

I'm looking forward to this becoming an active zone again in Cataclysm.  Though I suspect it will be mostly on fire, if Ragnaros is alive and kicking.

Allison Robert's new Restoration 101 Shifting Perspectives Column

Allison Robert, druid columnist extraordinaire, has written up a three page guide on the basics of healing as a tree over at 

Very good, and good to see this sort of resource out there, especially with everyone trying to run as a healer or a tank under the new LFG system.  (The other big guide on tree healing you should read is Lissanna's, over here at

As Allison alludes, some of the druid resto kit is quite situational.  Improved Tranquility, for example, is well worth taking if you only run 5-mans.  Tranquility has saved me a few times in Heroic Halls of Reflection already.  It's fairly useless for raids, though, particularly since it will only work on people in the same party as you.

My only other contention is that you should think twice about getting the Glyph of Wild Growth.  This increases the maximum number of targets for your Wild Growth from 5 to 6.  All of them must still be within 15 yards of your primary target, however.  My problem is that, as a 10-man healer, I rarely see 5 people, let alone more than that, clumped up enough to take full advantage of Wild Growth.  I still use it.  A lot.  I just don't think the glyph would improve it for me.

Allison actually responds to this concern in the comments of her column (three cheers for responsive writers!  hip hip hurray!).  She agrees that a lot of recent fights, especially in ICC, encourage groups to scatter, especially the ranged.  However, as she points out, if you have more than 5 melee, or if you're doing fights with large amounts of raid damage where the raid still stays fairly close together, the extra Wild Growth landing can be a godsend.  I may try switching out Rapid Rejuv for Wild Growth tonight and see how it goes.

EDIT:  Lissanna just posted in response to my comment as well.  She carries a stack of Rapid Rejuv and a stack of Wild Growth glyphs with her, and switches out fight-by-fight.  Her other two glyphs are in line with mine:  Nourish and Swiftmend.  I may start carrying a few of the first two with me to experiment a bit. 

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Festergut 10-man, Attempt No. 1

We tried Festergut about half a dozen times last week.  Our first time actually knocking heads with a Plagueworks boss.  I think we probably should have started with its slimier cousin, Rotface.  Festergut is a gear check, with a five minute enrage timer, a huge amount of raid damage and an absurd amount of tank damage. 

This isn't a strat post, since we haven't found something successful yet.  Just a series of musings.  In general, we kept melee and tanks in the center, on the boss, and had ranged fan out in a semi circle.  Festergut will cast pools of Vile Gas at ranged targets, dealing damage and causing them to loose control and vomit, dealing yet more AoE damage to those around them and knocking them out of commission for a few seconds.  Ranged should stay 10 yards apart.

However, people need to gather around players marked with Gas Spores in order to get inoculated against shadow damage to avoid a raid wipe once Festergut inhales all the Gaseous Blight and releases it again, dealing around 50k damage to everyone.  So we need to gather up and make sure at least one marked player is at range and one at melee.  Meanwhile, the healers can never stop going because there's large raid damage while the Blight is still out and about, and ever increasing tank damage as the Blight gets inhaled. 

We never lasted longer than 60 seconds.  I think I'm going to go as a tree next time.  With 3 healers we almost certainly won't beat the enrage timer, but hopefully we'll live long enough to actually get some practice.  Once we get used to the movement, the collapsing and spreading out, and the healing and survival cooldowns that are required, I'll try switching back to atomic death chicken mode and we'll see how it goes from there. 

Of course, this all depends on the raid not falling apart after the first 90 minutes.  The problems of a late night raid guild.  By 2am, some people are getting a little sleepy (or, in the hunter's case, drunk). 

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Deathbringer 10-man

Raid Comp:  2 Tanks, 2 Healers, 6 DPS
Lucky Numbers:  Stand 12 yards apart and kill the blood beasts as fast as possible

This fight is deceptively simple.  If you have a skill discipline priest, it's actually not's simple and fun.  We have a skilled discipline priest.  Still took us three weeks to realize he should switch from holy though...

The entire trick with this fight is managing the Deathbringer's blood power.  He gets power by dealing damage with special attacks, or whenever his blood beasts deal damage.  When he reaches 100 blood power, he casts Mark of the Fallen Champion on a random raid member.  That person starts taking roughly as much damage as the tank every time the tank is hit.  This persists through death, so don't battle res anyone.  If that person dies, the Deathbringer regains 5% of his max health.  As an added bonus, he gets blood power each time that person takes damage, so he gets back to 100 faster.

How does the Deathbringer get blood power?  There are five total ways.
  1. He has a special attack he can use on the tank.  If it deals damage, he gets a point of blood power.
  2. He casts Boiling Blood on random raid members.  It's a DoT, and if it deals damage, he gets a point.
  3. He casts Blood Nova on random raid members, sucking life from them and anyone within 12 yards of them and converting it into blood power.
  4. He summons two blood beasts that go after raid members.  Each time they hit someone and deal damage, he gets a point.  
  5. After he has cast his first Mark, he gets a point each time the Mark deal damage.  
The Tanks:  Switch Whenever He Uses Rune of Blood

Rune of Blood...Blood Beasts..Blood Nova...Blood Blood Blood.  Do you see a pattern?  Yes, that's right, he's a vampire...  Anyways, the tank (or whoever is highest on the aggro had better be the tank!) will sometimes get hit with Rune of Blood.  The other tank should taunt immediately.  The Deathbringer will deal 5-6k extra damage with each hit and regain 50-60k health at the same time.  This is why two tanks are needed.  Also, note that the Deathbringer will do 1% more damage for each blood power point he has (he'll look bigger too), so tanks should be ready to start cycling cooldowns if necessary.  Tanks should also avoid AoE damage or threat moves whenever the blood beasts are about to spawn.  If they stick to the tanks and can't be properly kited, blood power just goes up faster.

The Healers:  Discipline is Key

We have tended to use a paladin to heal the tanks and a discipline priest to shield as many people as possible.  The trick is, the Deathbringer only gains blood power when he or his beasts actually deal damage.  By shielding the current tank, anyone affected by Boiling Blood, and anyone getting munched on by a blood beast, you can drastically reduce the rate at which he gains blood power and hopefully take him out with a single Mark up.

Healers should stand as close to directly in front of the Deathbringer's platform as possible.  One will be a little to the right, one a little to the left (essentially where the ramp to the gunship meets the Deathbringer's Rise).  This keeps you in range of everyone and means that the blood beasts, who often aggro the healers first, will start moving predictably straight down the middle (towards the ramp to the gunship) and stay in range of all of the ranged DPS.

Ranged DPS:  Kite Those Beasts!  Fly Like the Wind!

Ranged DPS should stay at least 12 yards apart from each other and fan out in a semi circle (with the healers in the center) around the platform where the Deathbringer appears.  Stay on the Deathbringer whenever the blood beasts are down, and be ready to blow all your survival and damage cooldowns if you get Marked.  We have hunters place frost traps between the Deathbringer and the healers on a rotation, so that there is always one up when blood beasts spawn.

When the beasts spawn, the ranged needs to pull them, kite them, and take them down before they manage to reach anyone.  We use frost traps, then root one and concentrate on the other first.  We generally have two or three hunters, so they trade off taunting with distracting shot and let the beast run back and forth until it dies.  Boomkin can also use typhoon, and mages and shamans can slow them with frost.  If they hit anyone, the Deathbringer will gain more blood power, so do you best to kite.

Melee DPS:  Hit Him With Sticks

Or whatever you use...  Stay up with the tanks and slam the Deathbringer as hard as you can.  I've heard that some groups have melee switch to the blood beasts as well to take them down fast.  That could work well.  Just remember that if they turn on the melee, they can start hitting them right away, so have a shield ready.  We just have them stay on the Deathbringer.

That's all there is to it.  It's a simple fight.  You just need to stay fanned out, kite the beasts, heal anyone who gets Marked like crazy, and blow cooldowns once he enrages to try and get him down before you screw up and lose a tank or let a Marked raid member die and watch his health shoot up.

After that, you can go through his door and head towards any of the three remaining wings of the Citadel...

Friday, January 22, 2010

A Note About Raid Comp

What do I mean when I say "2 Healers" or "5 DPS" or whatnot?

Generally, we run with one druid tank and one warrior tank. 

Our two primary healers have traditionally been a paladin on the tanks and the a priest on the raid.  If we do an encounter with a third healer, the third is usually a druid.  The priest is sometimes holy, sometimes discipline, depending on the encounter.  We almost never run with a resto shaman.  We don't like green light.  We've gotten addicted to paladin heals to the point of an unhealthy unwillingness to try some encounters without them.

Our DPS is a random mixture from the following pool:  3 hunters, 1 deathknight, 1 rogue, 1 elemental shaman, 1 ret paladin, and 1 balance druid.  That's right, we almost never run with a warlock or a mage.  Why?  Mostly just discrimination--we hate clothies.

Gunship Battle 10-man

Getting to your Boat

Once you get to the top of the elevator, you'll see Horde and Alliance fighters going after each other. Mark and target the healers of your opposing faction first. Otherwise it takes forever. Then, if you are Alliance, head left. If you're Horde, head right. If you rapidly start to wipe on the trash groups, you're going the wrong way (we did this the first night...).

After a couple of trash pulls, you'll come to the ramp to your ship.

The Gunship Battle

Raid Comp:  2 Tanks, 2 Healers, 6 DPS

Lucky Numbers:  Don't forget your rocketpack, and don't stand in targets or whirlwinds! 

Talk to the goblin or gnome or creature of whatever shape or size that gives you a rocket pack. Equip it, and bind it to a hotkey. Then talk to your commander (Bronzebeard or Saurfang) and you're off like a speeding bullet....until the opposing ship comes along side and starts blasting you.

The Setup:  Home Team, Away Team, and Cannoneers

We tend to do this with two healers, two tanks, and ... 10-2-2....looks like six dps. Your raid will be divided into two groups. One healer and one tank will stay on your boat to handle the mobs that portal over, and one healer and one tank plus at least three dps (all melee if possible) will jump to the other ship whenever a frost mage appears to put your cannon out of commission. Two of the dps that stay on your ship will also be manning the cannon whenever they are available.

Manning the Cannon

If you are in the cannon, your goal is to take down the enemy ship before it takes you down. Your cannon has a main attack (hotkey 1) that deals damage and builds up 10 heat energy per shot. It then has a secondary attack (hotkey 2) that converts the heat energy into a large amount of damage to the opposing ship. If you mess up and let the heat get to 100, your cannon will overheat and stop working for a period of time. Don't do that. Use the second attack at 80 or 90 heat. Also, target your first attack at the mobs directly opposite you, throwing stuff at you. They will respawn, but if they are alive for too long they will stack a buff called Experience that makes them throw harder and faster, dealing considerable raid damage. When the enemy mage iceblocks your cannon, you will help control the adds on your own ship while the away team transpor...err...rocket jumps over to deal with the mage. Then get back in your cannon. It's warm and safe.

The Home Team

If you are on your own ship but not in a cannon, make sure you move if a target appears on the floor under you. That means an enemy rocket is going to land there. You don't want to be there when it does. Every little while, an enemy team will open a portal and appear on your ship. Let the tank pick them up. Focus fire down the tank's target, and stay away from the enemy sergeant when he whirlwinds. When you have free time, help shoot across at the adds on the other ship. Be careful though, then enemy boss can sometimes target you if you stand on the extreme edge of your ship. Just run away if he starts throwing things at you.

The Away Team

If you are part of the away team, help out with your own ship until the enemy mage appears. He will channel a spell to freeze your cannon. Let your tank jump across first to pick up the enemy boss. The boss will start stacking a buff to damage and speed real quick, so you can't stay long. The healer follows immediately after the tank, and then the dps a second later. DPS should immediately head to the mage and take him down. Ignore everything else...if you pull an add on you, the healer will get overwhelmed. Announce to the raid once the mage is down and jump back. The healer will follow, with the tank right after him. If there is a portal open to your ship, you can try to take that, but it closes unexpectedly (it's only there to let the bad guys through, after all).

Try not to rocket jump the wrong way.

It takes a little bit of getting used to, but it's not too bad. After you force the other ship to retreat, you'll dock at the Deathbringer's Rise, which brings us to the next boss...

Lady Deathwhisper 10-man


Lady Deathwhisper's chamber has a few trash packs that should be pulled via line of site if possible. For us, they always bug out and run to the right side of her doorway, even if the raid is huddled around the left side, so we find it better to always hide on the right (from the perspective of the hallway). Focus fire down the casters first, but really just target your tanks' targets...everything hits like a truck, so the important thing is just not to pull aggro off the tanks. No need for more than two healers though. As I recall, someone should be prepared to de-curse as well.

Make sure you pull the big adds (one of the left, one on the right) by themselves. They each do significant ticking raid damage, and each will cast a spell that puts a bomb on one player at a time. That player needs to quickly run out of the raid and get quite a ways away (I suggest going back up the stairs, out of the room) before they explode. Healers should drop a HoT on them before they get out of range.


Raid Comp:  2 Tanks, 2 Healers, 6 DPS
Lucky Numbers:  Don't stand in death and decay!

Phase 1:  The Shield and the Adds

Then comes Deathwhisper phase 1. She will put up a magical shield, and all damage to her drains her mana instead of health. She'll also be casting shadowbolts and death and decay (don't stand in it!) through the encounter. Still, two healers should be enough. Be careful though, she will sometimes put Curse of Torpor on someone. This puts a cooldown on each ability you use while cursed, a full 15 second cooldown I believe. Make sure it gets decursed before you do anything important, especially if you're a healer. Whoever is decursing, make sure to decurse yourself first!

All dps should be on the shield until adds spawn. Three will spawn on the left (two melee with a caster between them) and all dps should switch to them as soon as the tanks have aggro. Take the caster down first. Sometimes Deathwhisper will empower the adds, making them do AoE, so ranged should stay back and healers should stay alert. Melee should run out if they see themselves dropping precipitously. Some adds will get brought back to life if they aren't all killed fast enough. They may be brought back as giant skeletons, which will be immune to either magic or physical damage, so figure out which ones you can hurt and work accordingly. They may be brought back as limping fleshy thingies. Those must be kited by the tanks. They hit like trucks. Big fleshy trucks.

Once the adds are down, dps should switch back to Deathwhisper until more adds spawn. Eventually, the shield will come down. Try to time this for just after you've finished killing a wave of adds.

Phase 2:  The Burn and the Ghosts

Once the shield is down, tanks need to taunt Deathwhisper quickly. She will cast frostbolt volley, with is raidwide but not too bad, and death and decay. She will also cast a massive single target frostbolt on the tanks. This must be interrupted. Every time. Or you'll die. Horribly. It does up to 50k damage. Tanks need to trade her back and forth because she stacks a debuff on them that reduces their threat generation by 20% per stack. I'm not sure how many stacks we allow before a switch, but you should see how long it lasts and how often she applies it and trade at the minimum required to let it fall off before taking her back.

The only other tricky thing is that like blue translucent ghosts spawn during this phase. They are very hard to see, and they do a lot of damage if they hit you. They need to be kited by whoever they target for a few seconds before they explode. Else they stand a decent shot of one-shotting a non-tank, or at least making the healers miserable. Again, they are really hard to see, so be on the lookout.

After she's dead (she leaves a boring corpse...just a little sphere of darkness), the elevator in her chamber will start up, and you're off to the gunship battle...after you fall off the first couple times.

Lord Marrowgar (and opening trash) 10-man

Opening Trash

The first boss of Icecrown Citadel is preceded by two rooms of trash. These are actually difficult pulls, and entirely capable of wiping a raid if things start to cascade. We can only do it successfully by pulling one group at a time. The Damned are normal melee skeletons that explode and do substantial AoE when they die. Make sure to focus fire them so they don't all go at once. If you pull has any of the nerubians or Servants of the Throne, target them first. The nerubians will web wrap party members (make sure to free healers first!) and the Servants will cast a spell doing frost damage to everyone in a line in front of them. Ranged DPS should spread out perpendicular to them to avoid getting hit by this all at once.

There are also two giant skeletons per room. They only become active once traps are set off. Rogues can see the traps from a short distance and attempt to disarm them. Otherwise, just pull back to the starting chamber with the friendly NPCs in order to reset aggro if you pull them with other trash or ever find yourself in serious trouble. They do a frontal cleave, an AoE interrupt, and a massive amount of melee damage. Fortunately, you'll get a little help from your NPC friends, at least for the first two.


Raid Comp:  2 Tanks, 3 Healers, 5 DPS
Lucky Numbers:  Frost Resist Aura/Totem

Then comes Marrowgar, demon of ice, flame, flaming ice, and spinning around like a maniac. Your lucky numbers are: frost resistance aura/totem! With 10 people, we have been 3-healing this. He has no enrage, but has a fair amount of raid damage and a good chance of disabling one healer at a time. Now that he is tauntable and doesn't hit quite so much like a mountain of pain on 10-man, he's rather straightforward. We try to stick to the left half of the room. He'll cleave two targets in front of the him. This should be the tanks. Heal them. He will toss down lines of blue fire (frost damage), but you'll be able to see them coming and should be able to get out with zero or one ticks of damage. Ranged, your priority is getting out of them, not doing dps. He has no enrage.

Marrowgar will also cast Bonespike Graveyard every little while, impaling one player on a spike (generally in the middle of blue sucks, deal with it). They take quite a bit of damage and the spike needs to be killed quickly by the other dps. We tend to have ranged dps deal with spikes of ranged players, and melee and ranged deal with spikes in melee. Another reason to stick to the left hand side of Marrowgar's room is to make sure that you always stay in range of other dps and healers, in case you get spiked.

Finally, Marrowgar will do a whirlwind (called Bonestorm). He darts around the room, doing mild damage to anyone near him and targeting random players. Run away. Mild will still kill you soon enough, so try not to run away from healers. He'll still be tossing out fire, and it gets less predictable, so watch your footing. If anyone is impaled on a spike, finish with them before running. Ranged should keep hitting him when he's not on top of them. DPS should also use survival cooldowns and potions if they find themselves low on health and on the wrong side of the room for the healers. When Marrowgar comes out of it, he'll have dumped aggro, so tanks should taunt him and then we start again.

Once he's collapsed into a pile of bones, run up the ramp to get to Lady Deathwhisper...