Alright, it’s not that bad. But it is a pretty distinct departure from early Wrath of the Lich King raiding.
My 10-man raid group (go Team Discovery Channel!) made our first foray into the world of Cataclysm raiding on Sunday. Tamsinela went along for the ride. What follows are my opinions on the content and the challenges presented! Note, all raiding content mentioned here is 10-man, Normal mode.
Thankfully, the Horde controlled Tol Barad when it came time to raid. We decided to try our hand at the “Archavon” of Cataclysm, Pit Lord Argaloth. What came next was a fairly rudimentary fight, with a tank swap and a “don’t stand in the fire” phase. After two wipes, we were able to down him with a flawless performance, no deaths.
Something that stood out for me in the encounter was how everyone had to “clump up” in one spot, close to the boss. Normally this wreaks havoc on a Hunter, as they have a minimum range for all their shots. Fortunately, Blizzard must have realized this when designing the encounter and they altered the boss’ “hit box” or provided some other mechanic to allow me to shoot while up close to the boss. I wasn’t right on top of him, but much closer than I would typically like to get to a Pit Lord.
Also, Lightwell has a 40 yard range for use. That is amazing. This “self service” option. can really take some pressure of the healers.
Argaloth dropped two pieces of PVP gear. Boo. We snagged some Valor points, though. Yay!
Throne of the Four Winds
Now the fun begins. Or, the suffering. Suffer well, as our Death Knights like to say. This was our second stop on Sunday night.
The Throne wasn’t that bad, really. We did not have much success here, but it was mostly the fault of our unfamiliarity with the encounter and its various gimmicks — and it is pretty gimmicky. This did not seem like a “gear” problem, simply a “skill” check. There’s definitely learning to be done.
Essentially, your group has to move from platform to platform while keeping pressure on 3 Djinn-like air elementals. They all must die within a certain amount of time, as well, so they have to be juggled until the killing blow can be laid. The problem here was mainly timing, as the bosses go into an “ultimate phase” and use a specific ability at that time while also shutting off access to the other platforms. Another hurdle was how best to split up our raid composition. There was a lot of learning to be done, but I feel we only need to tighten up our movement and timing to overcome this portion of the instance.
Monday night as all about Blackwing Descent. I mentioned “gear” versus “skill” because I was building up to this portion of our raiding extravaganza: Magmaw, in Blackwing Descent.
There are two trash pulls before Magmaw. One is a lone Drakonid, and we handled that with panache. No problem. Also, I will note — Drakonids are awesome. I was so glad to see them again. I really hope they introduce them as a playable race in the near future, because that would just make my day. They’re humanoid, they’re NPCs, they have a decent amount of lore behind them by now — if they can work in Worgen as playable, they can give us these guys, too. But they have to be Horde. If they’re Alliance, I swear, I may just faction change.
Anyhow. The second trash pull consisted of two Drakonids. This required a bit of learning, as they do a tank swap, have an AOE Thunderclap, have to be turned away from the DPS/Healers, and also can stun their tanks. The key here was positioning. Once we had that down, we had no issue with these guys.
Magmaw himself is horrible. I hate it. It is a horrible lava worm with horrible little lava worm parasitic babies.
The encounter’s mechanics are relatively straightforward. Phase one, your tank will tank him, your DPS will DPS him, and your healers will heal. He deals ranged damage to the raid, so healing has to be split to cover this. He can also ignite one half of the room (steam appears from the ground) and totally destroy anyone standing there — that has to be avoided. The kicker is… Flame Pillar. It’s horrible. Have I said “horrible” enough yet?
Here’s what happens: beneath a ranged attacker or healer, a portion of the ground displays a magma-like circle for a few seconds. You must get away from this, or you will be shot up into the air, take damage, and take falling damage when you land. More importantly — and this is unavoidable — a Flame Pillar will spawn Parasites. These little baby-Magmars will then try to eat your raid. Actually, they will infest your raid and spawn more Parasites, plus deal AOE damage to anyone infested. Basically, it’s the “add phase” and you have to avoid them like you avoided Blood Beasts on Deathbringer Saurfang.
The trouble here, for our group, appears to be our lack of significant AOE damage. AOE control I feel was decent — I used an Ice Trap to slow the pack of Parasites, our mage used Blizzard and Frost Nova/Freeze. The problem was that we could not DPS them down fast enough. You only have 30 seconds (roughly) before another Flame Pillar appears, and more adds are spawned.
My AOE consisted of the following:
1. Trap Launcher -> Explosive Trap
2. Bestial Wrath/Beast Within -> Multi-Shot
3. Fervor -> More Multi-Shot
4. I even threw in my Bolt Launcher (2 minute cooldown).
The Explosive Trap was very important. Multi-Shot no longer has a target limit, so I was able to hit all or nearly all of the Parasites, and Beast Within lowered the Focus cost of this ability (it is normally a Focus hog). When low on Focus, I used Fervor to get a bit boost and spammed Multi-Shot again. Unfortunately, Fervor has a 2 minute cooldown. Heck, Bestial Wrath/Beast Within, with all my modifiers, has roughly a minute cooldown all said and done… that’s rough when the damn Parasites spawn every 30 seconds.
Beast Mastery spec’s AOE damage is too low. I’ve heard that Survival’s is very high, or too high, and right now I can only imagine what it is like. It must be nice. It will probably also be nerfed. BM’s AOE needs to be buffed.
We simply could not get the parasites down quickly enough. We did reasonably well on the first Flame Pillar, but there were a few stragglers. Add the second Flame Pillar and we were overwhelmed. We were able to push him into Phase Two, which involves raid members jumping onto Magmaw’s head and attaching chains, then hauling him to the ground and impaling him on a spike (cool!) for a huge incoming damage buff… but with the Parasites still squirming around, no reasonable progress in this phase was made.
Many successes on this fight seem to involve Shadowfury Warlocks, or Boomkins for knockback — basically, increased AOE add control. Our Frost Mage and my Ice Trap simply weren’t cutting it. I think I’ll have to keep a Survival spec in my back pocket for this fight, for now. And I need better gear, of course — our entire group would benefit from having better gear, to be more “raid ready.”
Or, we can try the “one person at ranged, everyone else on melee” strategy. Some groups use a Death Knight at ranged to kite the adds and keep aggro on them while the DPSers unload AOE. Hmm. We don’t have a Death Knight, but I wonder if I can kite the little buggers long enough to…