Guild, Meta, Opinion, Restoration, Shaman, Strategy, WoW

Rotface and stuff

Healing Rotface last night, taken when things were going well enough for me to start snapping pictures. Naturally, we wiped soon after 🙂 Clicky for biggy.

Firstly, the stuff: I’m taking a step back from blogging for a few weeks while I focus on a heady combination of important assignment + immanent deadline.  Not a total moratorium, just a step back.  In the meanwhile, Liz of Monstarkin has very kindly agreed to do a couple of “guest posts” here.  This is especially kind of her as she’s presently working on an epic comparison of the four healing classes for her own blog – she has one of each at level 80, y’see – and presumably posting here will take time away from that.  So my humble gratitude indeed!

Now: I have prepared an extremely scientific post about the relative difficulty of raid encounters, complete with extremely scientific graphs.  The occasion for such a post is the opening of Icecrown Citadel’s Plagueworks wing: yesterday, my guild went along to see what it was like.  We didn’t rush to get there or anything as we didn’t expect it to be much harder than what we’d previously faced in Icecrown Citadel.

Then we wiped on the trashLots.  The first time Precious cast decimate I think the healers were laughing too hard to actually respond, and then I actually had to swap to my resto spec for Stinky because Decimate combined with a ~2.5k pulsing nature AoE is harsh.  Harsh because 15% of most of our caster’s health pools is not enough to survive two ticks of the AoE, so when decimate coincided with a tick of that AoE it was… well, pretty interesting.

Then we reached Rotface!  We had a vague idea of what to expect, and were a little wary after the trash, but we went in with our normal two-healers-and-two-tanks line up and we wiped.

Then we made some changes and we wiped again.

And again.

Then I swapped to healing and we took a little longer to wipe.  And so it went.

I mean, we were expecting Rotface to be hard-er than, say, Saurfang, but not quite that hard.  Kiting Oozes seemed suspiciously like Illidan phase 2, only with the proviso that you can’t actually get hit by the slimes as they hit like trucks strapped to the front of rocketships.  And for our warrior tank, half the mission was just generating threat on something that he effectively couldn’t hit.

(I was responsible for his health bar and was thus witness to the poor lad getting two-shotted within the space of a Nature’s Swiftness macro on several occasions; on one of these I was chatting to Rahana in whisper and the extremely harsh capitalised invective I had intended to spew forth into healer chat accidentally went his way instead.  He forgave me.)

I won’t really discuss strategy here – if you’re interested in that, check out the comments on this post at Falling Leaves and Wings (edit: and I see Kae’s posted tictacs over at Dreambound, yay!).  But I will pick up on the main issue that Beruthiel discusses (well, rants about) in that post.  And I will illustrate this issue by means of graphs.  And these graphs will show raid boss difficulty as compared to the relative difficulty of removing candy from various people or things.

Extremely scientific graphs

First, a reference graph to get us acclimatised to the scale:

Reference scale for raid boss difficulty. Clicky for full size.

Now that we’re grounded in experience, let’s review how boss difficulty has ramped in some of the instances we’re familiar with.

Naxxramas difficulty.

Sample Ulduar boss difficulty!

Trial of the Grand Crusader. Yes, that means heroic version.

So as you can see, boss difficulty ramp-up is not always consistent.  It’s not uncommon to experience one boss as roughly equivalent to removing candy from a hungry, angry baby and then discover that the next is like trying to take a bar of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk from a pack of raptors with jetpacks.

Rotface and Saurfang

Now my good friend Razz has said that he thinks Saurfang is undertuned on 10-man (my excellent counter-argument was that we are blessed with a particularly good raid balance and vastly inflated gear level, but he still thinks he’s undertuned) compared to how hard he seems to be on 25-man.  So let’s for a moment assume that Saurfang is, in fact, a little easier than he should be.  Nevertheless, we were expecting Rotface to be more Mike Tyson sort of level.  What we got felt like raptors with jetpacks, though as we learned the fight more it settled down to maybe more like a minor Olympian deity.

Oops, Rotface make a-- no, I can't bring myself to say it. Seriously Blizzard, you guys need HELP. Freud would be all over you for this one!

Now, most of the damage on Rotface is avoidable, and there’s even been a bug where Big Oozes will annihilate each other instead of combining.  We didn’t get the chance to benefit from that bug because most of the time when a second Big Ooze spawned it was (a) entirely accidental (b) in the chaotic last 30% portion of the fight when Mutated Infections are being flung around like jock straps at a frat party and (c) entirely too keen on an immediate sampling of blueberry soufflé (that means I got killed by loose oozes a lot, OK).

Execution fight

The fact that so much damage is avoidable and that so much of it is utterly lethal if you don’t avoid it indicates that this is meant to be an “execution fight.  Execution fights are typically more about control and precision and understanding than raw healing or DPS output.  A good example of an execution fight is Kael’thas in Tempest Keep, or Four Horsemen before it was trivialised by gear and undertuning.  This is distinct from “gear check” fights like Patchwerk or (we assume) Festergut, where the emphasis is more on raw performance than fight mechanics.  Execution fights can be quite hard to pick up at first, because small mistakes often lead to wipes – but they tend to be more forgiving than gear check fights with a suboptimal raid balance.

Of course Rotface didn’t feel forgiving as our Ooze tank lost aggro to me healing because I wouldn’t let him melee the Ooze, or as he got slimed on by pipes and OM NOM NOM’ed by a Big Ooze with 5 stacks, or as we realised that whomever gets Mutated Infection starts out with 500k threat on their Small Ooze.  But I’m sure it’ll normalise once we get the hang of it.

Still, I’m astonished at how hard it is, and I do expect it to be nerfed – not because it’s too hard for folks like us who are relatively “hardcore” in our casualness and remember wiping on Bloodboil and Reliquary of Souls after Shade of Akama, but because Blizzard have stated they want their content to be accessible to most people.  And I fail to see how “most people” are going to manage even Precious and Stinky, let alone Rotface, in their current incarnations.  We’ve got the best 10-man heroic gear available and many upgrades from the first wing of ICC and years of experience in raiding together and even we struggled. (Partly because we weren’t expecting it to be so hard, but even so.)

So yeah, we found it harsh but a lot of fun, and are partly disappointed that we didn’t get to try all the bosses and partly happy to be challenged by content again.

What about you folks?  Tried the new wing yet?  How was it for you?  What was it like being elemental on the new bosses?



14 thoughts on “Rotface and stuff

  1. I am looooving the new wing. It’s finally a challenge 🙂 You are quite correct regarding Festergut being the “gear check” dps-race and Rotface being all about execution. Unfortunately, I do foresee some problems with ten-man guilds that run warrior/feral for tanks and have no hunter, as those big oozes need to be picked up FAST.

    Putricide seems pretty raptor-jetpack level. He’s a combination of execution, situational awareness, and raw dps. Healing on him is very difficult given the heavy damage, inability to stack healers because of need for dps, constant movement, and ever-changing array of things being thrown at you and everyone around you.

    I’m excited. Ironically, we’re working on Yogg +0 at the same time and loving it. I may be slightly insane.

    RAPTORS WITH JETPACKS! …on a boat.

    Posted by Kae | January 7, 2010, 7:43 pm
  2. I am happy to see your UI is still beautiful in the same way a newborn baby is beautiful: it’s messy and covered in guck, but at the end of the day you’re still crying your eyes out. OK maybe that analogy doesn’t work all the way but you know what I mean.

    My main worry about the topic at hand is tangential. Forgetting the current issues with difficulty (I think challenge is good and, if anything, would like to see any nerfs be small ones), I’m more concerned about the long-term. Of course this is mainly a topic for another time, but I’m wondering how the difficulty will ramp up in Cataclysm. I always found it slightly odd that WotLK wasn’t just a gear reset, but a challenge reset as well.

    Naxx wasn’t just accessible, it almost seemed like it was made with people who’d never raided before in mind (brilliantly shown by your graph). Which is odd to me considering this game has been around for a while. I know, an expansion attracts new players who need an introduction to this type of content. But Naxx’ difficulty was a bit mind-boggling. And after that everything ramped up gradually (or was supposed to (?), this expansion has just had a bizarre, fluctuating difficulty curve all around, instead of a gradual ramp-up).

    So, for Cataclysm I’m curious if they’ll reset the entire challenge AGAIN. You know, if we’ll step into the first raid and one-shot everything, and it’s supposed to be like that. And after that we’ll get content that gets gradually harder, until by the end of the expansion we’re back at an Icecrown level. Does that make sense?

    Surely the number of people who haven’t tried raiding right now are minimal, and the number of new players hitting 85 is going to be quite small as well. On the other hand this is for a large part going to be a low-level expansion as well, much moreso than WotLK. Which would mean having introductory raids is even MORE important than in WotLK, as you’d expect more new players than there.

    I guess this is all speculation for now though, and I suppose a lot of this is me desperately not wanting a Naxx 3.0. Either way this difficulty thing is a very complicated case, man. Lotta ins, lotta outs, lotta what-have-yous. Lotta strands to keep in my head. As evidenced by the chaotic nature of this post.

    Posted by Razz | January 7, 2010, 9:33 pm
  3. We killed Rotface today. The strategy was basically this: Less healers, more DPS, early bloodlust. Perfect until 30%. Then pure Chaos and a kill with half of the raid dead. Just your typical “ok guys, ONE last try”-win. I like it. Expecting brutal nerfs though.

    As for normal mode difficulty, I’m quite happy with this strange system we’re in. Unnerfed encounters are pretty hard, so we guys can still enjoy early pre-nerf kills. Some days/weeks later, the contents is ready to be facerolled. It’s not optimal, but it’s better than a very dull time until the hard modes are accessible.

    Posted by drug | January 8, 2010, 12:31 am
  4. drug, your comment made me remember this quote from the devs:

    In the weeks and months after all twelve encounters are unlocked, additional attempts against the final four boss encounters become available. This represents the Ashen Verdict growing more powerful and gaining a stronger foothold in Icecrown Citadel. To further help raids, Varian Wrynn and Garrosh Hellscream will begin to provide assistance by inspiring the armies attacking Icecrown Citadel. This is represented as an additional zone wide spell effect applied to all players that will increase their hit points, damage dealt, and healing done. This effect will also increase in effectiveness over time. Players may opt out of the spell’s effect if they so wish.

    Maybe this stuff won’t get nerfed after all. Maybe the “inevitable nerf” we’re all expecting is just the buff described by Daelo. Maybe that’s why it’s so much harder than we were expecting!

    If so, what drug says may actually be what Blizzard is deliberately attempting to do with these later wings – let the “hardcores” have it quite challenging to begin with, then let it get progressively easier once they’ve moved on to heroic modes.

    @Razz: I never claim that my UI is a work of art. It’s functional for me and that’s what matters. For some reason pretty UIs and I never get along 😦 (It may have something to do with the fact that I use broadly the same interface for tanking, healing, ranged DPS and melee DPS across 9 characters.) Anyway, I personally can’t see that WotLK’s raid difficulty strategy has made much sense. Was Naxx meant to be so super easy or did they just underestimate the playerbase? Was emblem gear meant to upstage “slow” progressive raiding in the way that it did? Too many questions and musings for a wee comment like this.

    @Kae: “may be”? I don’t think there’s any doubt…

    Posted by Charles | January 8, 2010, 12:46 am
  5. “The previous iteration of Rotface in 10 player difficulty used (and still uses) the same timer as the 25 player difficulty version when dispersing its Mutated Infection ability.

    What this means, plainly, is that a disproportionate number of people were being put out of the fight near the 30% mark in 10 player (by a large percentage) versus 25 player, making the entire fight much more difficult than intended.”

    This all sounds quite reminiscent of Razorscale-10.

    Posted by Sinespe | January 8, 2010, 11:33 am
  6. We didn’t manage to make it to Rotface yet this week, but I’m kind of glad that we didn’t bash our faces against it before it was fixed. o_o 25-man guilds take their 25-man gear for granted on 10-man fights, I reckon. 🙂

    Posted by Lorghar | January 8, 2010, 2:06 pm
  7. My 10 man dropped Rot and Fester this week on tuesday, first day it was available. My 25 man beat it’s head against Fester for the last 2 hours or so of last night’s run.

    When doing Rotface think of the kiters from Vashj more than an Ooze tank per se. Ranged dps that can do damage on the move (we used a hunter obviously) seemed to work better than a traditional tanking class trying to get or hold threat. Think kite, not tank.

    Fester we beat by having a third healer who shifted role between dps, healing raid and healing tank as appropriate. 10 man we got him down after I think 5 or 6 wipes. And our 2 normal healers are a stud disc priest (don’t know if he still runs valanyr) and tree, so it’s not lack of ability, the healing loads are just brutal.

    Putricide right now on 10 man I don’t see as beatable without literally world class dps, the spawned oozes have huge health pools and you can’t really down them before they reach their target in most cases. Like the offtank on Anub makes or breaks the fight (usually) the abomination driver makes this fight.

    Festergut on 25 man the dps requirements were too high for us, we enraged at 6% (which is still 2+ million health). Switching 1 tank to dps we had 17 dps. With the damage buffs on the tanks they do real dps, so if you consider them to do 1.5 dps worth of damage together (18.5 dps overall) you still need an *average* dps of 7400 to down him. and the enrage is an instant kill, no stringing it out for 3 more ticks. Raid dps of 137k is a tough bar to hit for 5 solid minutes with even the minimal movement needed.

    Posted by Jheusse | January 8, 2010, 6:44 pm
  8. When we first entered the new wing I felt confident and strong in my role as the guy who had actually been there on the PTR. In both 10 and 25-man we easily killed Precious and Stinky (Precious dropped a very fashionable shirt for our lead paladin healer. It being pink and all, we found it most suiting). We chose to go left first, since that’s where our disoriented main tank and raid leader thought Rotface would be. The traps came as a pleasant surprise but was nothing that we couldn’t react to. Festergut was a really fun boss, but as always on new bosses with moderate movement it takes some time for me to really figure out how to DPS properly. One ankh and some confusion with marks later he hit the ground with me on the very bottom of the DPS list with a measly 5.6k. Our newly buffed mutilate rogue came out on top, also eagerly pointing this out to the rest of the guild.

    We then went for Rotface.
    Let’s just say this must’ve been the time where every other guild found it a good time to enter the instance. Oh we struggled. Below 10% wipe after below 10% wipe. None of our DPS breaching 7k DPS, let alone myself, sitting at about 4k (just gotta love server lag as a caster). We decided to call it a night and come back the next evening. 22 hours later we downed Rotface without any problems.

    Ptricide is scheduled for tonight and I’m REALLY looking forward to the 25-man encounter as the 10-man was so much fun 🙂

    Posted by Shinyo | January 10, 2010, 5:10 am
  9. We got Rotaface and Festergut down on 10 man with minor difficulties in our usual guild, its a case of seeing the fight a few times to get where you need to go, how to kite oozes etc. 25 man is much the same for Rotface, once you’ve got the tactics down its a kill, but Festergut is a different kettle o’ fish.

    DPS requirements are 7.4k ish, and while melee have little obstacles to doing this, casters (esp us ele shamans and our lack of mobility) have some problems. I’d advise doing everythin you can to make sure that the 8 players you have at range are the ones with leas problems moving. We dropped to 5 healers after hitting the enrage a few times, leaving me free to get into melee range, which upped my dps to 7.5k, due to the complete lack of movement required.

    Oh and if ya think Rotface is hard, wait till ya get a look at the Professor….

    Posted by Salazare | January 11, 2010, 10:31 pm
    • Rotface was “easy” after we figured out how to do it (well, not easy easy – still minor Olympian deity level – but doable) Putricide is crazy and awesome but will certainly take some practice… I’d say, maybe, baby raptor with a jetpack?

      Posted by Charles | January 11, 2010, 11:08 pm


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