Thursday, July 22, 2010

Ruby Sanctum Reflections and Strategy

Due to the vacation of one of our regular members and a general desire to "see new things", we hit up Ruby Sanctum instead of continuing our ICC10 save.  In ICC, we're still on Sindy, and with the recent uppage de buff to 30%, we'll probably toast her next Monday.  Again, it'll probably seem a bit bittersweet as we were so close without needing the extra 5%, and it always seems a little weird when something that was so hard becomes suddenly that much easier.  That's especially true when there was no personal progression in the interim.

In any case, we almost one-timed the Ruby Sanctum on Monday night.  Since we were just trying to switch things up, we went full bore.  We went in blind.  None of us had done much more that a casual reading of what to expect, and we just went with it.  Usually, when learning a fight we send out a chain email during the day so people can read at their leisure and be ready.  No such preparations were made this time as it was sort of a game-time decision.

Honestly... I expected it to be worse.  I'd read some horror stories about people struggling with trash and such.  We almost wiped on one of the patrols (when we accidentally got a double dose), but otherwise we just fine until we started on the bosses.   Take it easy as DPS and let your tanks grab them before opening up.  I did more DoT spreading than straight AoE on most of the pulls.

The first mini-boss, the big dude who blocks the tree, went pretty smoothly.  We figured out the mechanics on the fly.  I think there was something about a tank swap, and DBM helpfully popped up a 12-yd range warning, so we spread out.  Then he split and hell broke loose.  We just picked the one with lower health, I believe.  Our tanks fell when the bugger was at about 3%, but we stuck with it, burned, and got him down with 3 folks to spare.  First try.  Good times.  I think your second tank just has to be ready to pick up the split, and I believe aggro resets, but I didn't really get a chance to see it.

The second mini-boss wiped us pretty quick when she flew up in the air and bombarded us with fire.  Again, we had heeded the 10-yd range check, but since it didn't come into play until the mini-air phase, we weren't still very well spread out.  I believe half of us (the ranged DPS) had run to the edge of the pond to hopefully be able to take some pot shots.  That turned out to be a Bad Idea.  So we worked out a half moon spread, facing the fire breathing lady away from us, and went to town again.  Two shot style.

The third mini-boss was a neat-if-gimmicky tank swap combined with add management.  Since we didn't know about the adds going into it (winging it, remember), I died pretty early.  In direct contradiction to the first two, on this guy it makes it a lot easier to stack up so the tanks can grab those adds.  I dirt-napped my way to victory as the rest of the group got the gist quickly and then it was no problem.

So, if you haven't already done them, here's a recap on what you need to know for the first two mini-bosses of RS: spread out.  Simply do that and you should have a pretty easy time of it.  Otherwise, follow your normal raiding instincts.  Tank swap when stuff stacks.  Watch your aggro.  Stay out of the bad.   You know, the basics.  If a dude splits, don't freak out.  For the third guy, beware the adds.  Easy enough, right?

We got to Halion in short order and spent about an hour wiping on him.  We didn't yet reach phase three, as phase two has our healers a bit sore fingered, but we made good progress.  I should think with another night or two of practice, we'd have it down.  Considering a night of practice for us is usually only about an hour, I think that's pretty good.  We're all casual by necessity of life, not strength of caring.  I'm blessed to have some really smart folks on my team.

In any case, we didn't make things any easier by doing things like "referencing a strat" until we'd wiped a good half dozen times.  We just tried to figure it out as we went, which I think is an underrated approach in this day and age of easily accessible Tankspot videos.  Don't get me wrong, the starts published are usually very high quality and well thought out.  You just don't get the same feeling of discovery, plus there's always the chance you come up with something that they did not.  A fresh look is an unbiased look, and the biased mind usually sees only what it expects to see.

A quick rundown of the fight for those who may not have seen it yet:  You and your friends are in a big, circular clearing, surrounded by a wall of fire when the fight starts.  You tank the big internet dragon roughly in the middle and stand to the side (as usual for dragons due to fire breath and tail whip).  There are three phases.  You can think of them as 1. Fire, 2. Shadow, 3. Shadowflame! 

In the first, or fire phase, your group is located in the normal, physical realm of Azeroth.  You only need one tank per phase (but you will eventually need two tanks on the third phase, so don't let your OT swap specs).  While the rest of the group stands to the side and pew pews, there are basically two things you need to look for. 

The first is a debuff that is the Mark of Something.  "Mark of" is the important part here.  DBM should warn you when you get it, as players are chosen at random.  At that point, you have 5 seconds to get to a generally clear location (10yds away should do, but more on that in a second).  I say 5 seconds because the standing order with our healers is that they will wait five before they remove the debuff from you.  You can call it out on vent too, but we like things to run without having to make each person key in to speak.  When your debuff is cleansed, you'll drop a glowing Circle of Bad.  Get out.  The size varies with how long the debuff was on you (it stacks over time).  5 seconds didn't seem too large to us.  The debuff can be removed by anyone.  It is both magical and a curse, apparently, and everything else in between.  You may end up having roughly two CoBs up at the same time, but they will go away eventually.

The second mechanic you need to watch out for are the meteors this dude calls from the sky.  They target a random individual and will show up beforehand as a pulsing pattern on the floor (like a rune).  The pattern does no damage itself (just shows where the meteor will hit), but you'll want to get out of the way.  When the rock hits, it shoots damage out in four directions (sort of like the blue flames from Marrowgar).  If you watch closely, there are four arrows like the points of a compass on the icon that will indicate the direction of the flames.  This allows you to be pre-set when the meteor hits and is a good thing.  Anticipation is always good.  Also, the animations make it seem a lot worse than it is.  You don't have to be very far outside of the floor icon to avoid splash damage, and a lot of times it seemed to me like I was in flames, but I wasn't taking any damage.  You can get closer than you'd expect.

Apart from avoiding those two mechanics, follow the normal dragon rules, and at 75% health you'll enter phase 2.  This phase takes you into the nether realm, the shadow of our physical realm.  A big portal will appear and the dragon will hop through.  Make sure a tank is hot on his heels before anyone else goes through.  We actually left one tank outside for this (less to heal), as you don't have to go through the portal and nothing will be happening outside of it until phase 3. 

Inside, we exchange shadow for fire and have, again, two mechanics to worry about.  One is a "Mark of" mechanic that works essentially the same and should be dealt with the same.  The other is a Shadow Cutter that takes the form of a shadowy laser beam stretching between the two smoking orbs that rotate clockwise around the room.   It's sort of like Life or Death Limbo here.  If that beam catches you, you die (presumably by decapitation).  The goal then is to plop the tank in the middle, and when the laser comes up (DBM will warn and he does an emote and the things "pulse with energy"... plenty of warning), the tank will need to rotate clockwise with the beam. 

If your tank can keep the beam essentially on his/her right shoulder, then everyone else can stand on the backside of the beam's path and thus have more room for error.  Getting the position right on this was sort of tricky, and you cannot heal someone through a mistake.  It only stays up for ten seconds, so you basically only need to avoid one rotation.  Having to watch out for the tail swipe complicates this though, requiring you to stay to one side of the dragon.  You'll have to keep doing this dance until he hits 50%.

At that point, we enter phase three, where the dragon will exist in both realms simultaneously.  You will want to split the group so that some are in each realm, as his vulnerability will shift between realms.  Basically, the goal is to balance the damage across each realm.  Too much on one side will swing up his resistance in that realm so that you're gimped.  If you keep him at 50-50, you'll be maxing each side's damage.  For this phase, the two mechanics to watch depend on which realm you're in, but they're the same as when you did them in each phase.  

It's a pretty neat fight, and I appreciate its execution.  It's nice that you sort of learn one phase, learn the second phase, and then put them together.   Blizz has been doing a great job with recent fight designs and teaching on-the-fly. Some might see this as "dumbing down", but to me it just makes the game more playable and less about pre-done research.  (Not that I don't love research, just that being able to wing it is nice too)

As a 'lock, I used my portal to "Limbo", as you won't die if you port past the path of the shadow laser (Blink might work too, Gnomeaggedon).  Also, don't forget that you have a shadow aura that lets you absorb some damage.  Great when you get that Mark debuff.  Otherwise, it's all about positioning and awareness.  Did I miss anything?  You guys got any neat tricks?

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