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