Monday, April 25, 2011

A Case of the Mondays: 10 Man Raid Ed.

Fair warning: I'm going to whine today. Whine without offering a solution too. It's like my golden internet rule and Ima break it. I know. Chastise me if you will. Shake your finger at the screen and call me a noob. Whatever. Today I'm gettin' my cranky on.

Any raid leader can vouch for this: sometimes it's just not your night. Such was the case last Thursday when I got called in to lead. Mind you, being the backup raid leader has it's own downsides. Like, you're pretty much always going to be dealing with subs. Otherwise, why would they need the backup? And it isn't that our subs were bad or anything like that. It's simply that subs that haven't regularly been running with you tend to need time to acclimate themselves to the environment. That sword cuts both ways too.

I swear this isn't a complaint about subs. Our people are great. We've been very fortunate in that regard.

What this is a complaint about is the difficulty of 10-man encounters.

Yep, Ima go all noobsauce on you and whinge about how hard 10-mans are. That's fine if you want to berate my lack of skill. That may completely be true. I can handle being the suckz.

What frustrates me is how unforgiving these early ten man encounters are. We've only succeeded on three bosses thus far: Halfus, Double Dragon, and Conclave of Winds. It's been probably two months of raiding, and that's as far as we've gotten. Why? It's freaking hard!

To some extent, you could argue that being hard is a good thing. No more are we concerned with the burnout that plagued the game via Naxx. Yet, I see a different sort of burnout looming on the horizon: the Wipe Burnout. Again I say of Cataclysm, the pendulum has swung too far the other way. I said it of heroics and early gearing, and I say it now of raid tuning. We went from really easy to really hard with no in between. (Though I do feel like being a strict ten man guild in Wrath was challenging.)

My chief complaint about the new raid encounters stems from design choices. To summarize it in a sentence: the bosses are too unforgiving for ten man's. When Blizzard decided to legitimatize ten man raiding in Cataclysm by offering the same rewards, it is my belief that this indicated a verbal contract that they would design the fights with both ten and twenty-five man raids equally in mind (probably a false assumption). What we have gotten are twenty five man fights ported to ten man's, same as Wrath only with a whole lot more to learn as they've consciously tried to make things harder. The end result is that ten man's are too unforgiving.

Everything scales, right? Let's say you get 6 pieces of gear dropping from a 25-man boss, so you get 2 pieces from a 10 man. Or 2 and some fraction. It scales. Makes sense right? Should be easy. Yet, what happens with mechanics? Where in a 25 you can have 3 people to take care of some mechanic, in a 10 man you have 1. And what happens if that one person dies? WIPE!

That is the problem we're running into. We can't lose anyone. To succeed consistently at these bosses, we need to be members of the un-freaking-dying club. It's too hard. Not to mention that they do stupid shit like the drakes change every week, so we can't just get used to one type of fight. We have to memorize 30 versions of the same fight before we're "on farm." I could deal with this for a later boss fight, but for the first fight of the night? Let us at least warm up on something easy first.

(Here's where you could probably suggest we go to Magmaw, which we're going to do. The f-ed up progression path is another complaint of mine, but we are where we are right now. We've done what we've done.)

Then we inevitably discover bugs like we did last Thursday with Conclave of Winds. The nature dude (Anshal) hits 1% (dead), but hits it while in a green healing circle. What happens? Well the 1 minute timer starts meaning we have to focus fire the other bosses down, but, oh yeah, he's still completely active as if he were alive. Leave his platform and he nukes you. Stay and you're struggling to down stuff. What to do, what to do? That is NOT working as intended. The fight is a headache and a half already (and the rewards are shit for the complexity too!)

Oh, how this hurts morale. These are bosses we downed months ago, and we still can't do them consistently. Why? Well if we get one sub, we're screwed. If one person looks away for a second and dies... screwed. We get a random DC... screwed. There is a lag hiccup... screwed. The moon is in the seventh house and Jupiter aligns with Mars... the dawning of the Age of Screwed.

A group can only take so much of this before raiding stops being fun and starts simply being tedious. I don't mind a learning curve. I don't mind "hard." What I do mind is the feeling that 10 mans were not given due thought and simply "scaled to" like it would all just work magically. If you're going to put so much pressure on the single person, then maybe we should be getting freaking bribe rewards for raiding 10 mans just like if we were a pugging tank.

[Insert Unintelligible Screaming Here]

That's it. That's my bitch-fest. I had the flu over Easter Weekend and now it's Monday. I'm cranky. 4.1 better drop this week or Ima lose it. They've strung us out long enough, and I consider myself one of the more patient ones. What good is having a policy of smaller, quicker patch drops if that policy is complete BS? Quicker my ass.

So yes, I'm frustrated. No, I'm not going to rage quit because that's silly. There are still far more positives than negatives. It just can't always be rainbows and sunshine here on the blog though. Occasional ranting is healthy. Please disagree (intelligently!) in comments below. I'd love to hear how newbish and hypocritical I'm being.

Ten Man's: The Jon Snow of Azeroth.


  1. After our attempts this past weekend, I'll go ahead and agree with you (even if that makes me a terrible noob). Constant wipes on Atramedes because it only takes one person to mess up a little bit with gong timing or running ahead of the tracking flames during air phase to make the attempt pointless to continue. And don't even get me started on Chimaeron! I thought I was happily adjusted to the new healing model in Cataclysm, but that encounter basically says "screw you" to the healing team. And that's not even counting how a tank taunting a half-second too late means it's a wipe.

    Yeah, I may be noobish, but it does feel good to vent and rant a bit.

  2. *cries* My entire comment was lost! Damn you blogger and your horrible comment system! *shakes fist in rage*

    OK! So here are some tips for you!

    Magmaw - When we were first getting this boss on farm we used a 2 tank strat. It not only helped with the healing needed, but it helped out with the worm dps. One tank would tank the worm until he got the armor debuff. Once the head phase was over they would switch and the other tank would pick the boss up. The tank NOT tanking the boss was helping with the worms.

    We have our dps stand together in one spot with a designated person calling out the pillars. We have 2 spots marked out on the floor with raid markers and move between the two. I keep my warlock portal between the two locations so that I can have a head start on burning down the worms.

    The melee are stacked with the tank. If we have more ranged than melee (aka only 1 melee) then one ranged is picked to stand with melee so that they can do the chain. The chain job is VERY important. They have to go down at almost the same time. If not then the tank will die.

    This strat requires more coordination, but honestly it is VERY easy to get down.

    Omnotron - Our biggest issue with these guys was interrupts and people hitting shields. The way we fixed the shield problem was to have EVERYONE (pets included) switch to the new tron as soon as he comes out. Then the only person who has to worry about hitting the shield is the tank.

    We are lucky in that we have 2 shaman who raid with us. We just keep one of them on Arcanotron at all times while he is up. The shaman can purge the shield so that they can continue to dps. A mage can also spellsteal it. The tank needs to work on keeping Arcanotron OUT of the puddle so that everyone else can stand in it.

    We tend to keep the trons fairly close to each other. It helps with the healing because then not a lot of people are out of range of heals. Unless Electron is up, everyone stacks up and the healers use their AoE heals.

    Make sure the tank is moving Toxitron INTO the cloud and keeping themselves out of it. If you have a hunter they can FD if they get the focusing beam from Magmatron.

    I haven't been to Conclave so I don't have any tips for you on that one.

    Halfus - The drake combo is really the only difficult part of this fight. What we do each week is look at the buff/debuffs that we have and work out the releasing prior to going in. That way we know which drake(s) are being released and how many at a time. For some combinations we just have to release 2 drakes at once. We have a pally on Halfus so that they can bubble off the stacks. Make sure that they taunt immediately after they bubble or else bad things happen. >.>

    As for the whining. Eh we have all been there. Until you guys get a bit more gear these fights are VERY punishing. Hopefully the extra stuff that will drop from the new 5 mans will help you guys.

    I can give you more tips on the other bosses if you want but I figured that I would wait until you guys are facing them. :) Hit me up with any questions.

  3. Thanks for the tips and commiseration.

    I think the biggest relief for us is going to be in the extra gear (as mentioned). We apparently need a bit of a push to make these fights less punishing. I guess I just feel like we shouldn't be punished until later in the raid content... as opposed to right up front.

  4. Not to put more pee in your pool, but they aren't easier. This is one of the reasons I love 10s over 25s. Lose someone in a 10m fight, and you're probably toast. Yeah, we've 9 manned H-Magmaw and H-Halfus (so I know it's "possible"), but those were definately skin of our teeth kills.

    Someone dies on H-Chim before P2? Wipe. Atramedes is actually the most forgiving if you have decent DPS.

    Keep smiling Fug. Practice gets it. I try to not freak out about wipes until we hit 100 - then I start twigging.

  5. Unfortunately, if 100 wipes a boss is what it takes, we won't be seeing all the content :-(.

  6. yeah... this tier of raiding is very hard actually. But hey keep ye chin up lass :) according to my DBM counter, it's averaging about 50 wipes a kill for us to learn a boss :)

    Some tips for Omnitron council, magmaw, Chim, maloriak, halfus and wind council:

    Omnitron: you need to be really flexible. Keep chill, the thing that will wipe you guys is not the shield, not the bad stuff on the floor, it's not even the arcane annihilator. nope the one thing that will kill you is toxitron and magmatron combo. Reason for this is that you have to kite the adds around, and if it's targetting a healer, then you don't have any heals and the tank dies. For our team we took about 68 wipes to learn this encounter. What we did in the end was sic our pally tank on arcanotron. Avenger shield and rebuke almost locks down his arcane annihilator. Everybody helps on interrupts. Electron is a simple tank and spank, spread out to avoid the lightning jumping. magmatron will constantly output crazy raid damage. Best way to deal with his flamethrower? pop defensive CDs. You can avoid flamethrower by using FD, Iceblock, divine shield and vanish. To mitigate the damage you can pop AMS, cloak of shadows, last stand. For Toxitron, you need to kill the adds. FAST. They can target the offtank and you have to kill the one that targets the tank. You can't stun them, but you can root them and slow them.

    For Magmaw: get one awesome kiter out. preferably a hunter. Everybody else stacks on the right side of magmaw, within 8 yards of him. The kiter will attract all the flame pillars. Melee stay on boss the whole time. Single tank encounter for us. We did have the pally healer and the pally tank coordinate cds for mangle. when the pillar comes, ranged dps turn and burn the worms down. There is a lot of responsibility on the kiter to avoid too much damage. Get the melee to jump on the worm, and chain him down. During the chained phase, pop everycds, bloodlust anything to burn him. when he gets up, give the tank time to pick him up, then turn and burn him. Rinse and repeat and viola! boss down. Magmaw took us about 40 odd wipes to learn as well.

    For Chim: If you have a druid, I would suggest glyph of regrowth just for this encounter. Wasn't around when they took Chim down, but they only took 2 wipes to learn this. That and 4 healers. Phase 1 is spread and stack during feud. Keep popping all your own self heals, click the light well. don't burn all your mana to keep the MT up, just above 10k. Our raid leader always tells us to bandage ourselves during feud as well. When you hit phase 2, the 2 tanks have to run far. Chim hauls ass lik a freaking dumpster truck and you can outrun him. Pop bloodlust and kill him.

    For Maloriak: woah, what can I say... this guy was a pain in the ass. In the end, this is what I can say: interrupt only the arcane storm. Get the other tank to kite all the adds around. Prot warrior is excellent for this because of all the short cd stuns and stuff. When it's green phase stack, and burn all the adds down. All adds must die before going back to boss. Interrupts are important, especially during the green phase. One arcane storm in green phase and bam, raid wipe. Phase 2 for mal is avoid the bad stuff, pop bloodlust and kill. get the off tank to pick up the 2 big adds in phase 2 as well.

  7. For Halfus: In 10s, the key is to just release 2 drakes. If you can take the drakes out fast enough, then he becomes a tank and spank. Always check the drake combo. If storm drake is up, you have to kill it. If nether or slate is up, don't worry about them. If you have storm, nether and slate? I suggest another raid instance LOL well, at least until you have better raid gear at least. If you're still gearing up, then hit up BWD. For this week, if I'm not wrong it's actually Time, whelps and nether. So kill both time and whelps, leave nether. Pop bloodlust to kill the drakes fast then tank and spank him. Remember to avoid the bad on the floor as well.

    For wind: we did it as a 3 tank fight. one tank for nezir, one tank for anshal and one tank to help grab all the adds and burn them down. one healer and one ranged dps on rohash platform. I was the third tank. The TB trinket for tanks is a godsend in this fight for the add tank. When the adds start doing their aoe attack, I pop the trinket and hey presto! negligible damage from them. The pally tank used divine shield to absorb 9 stacks of the debuff on nezir's platform. anshal and nezir's tank swapped when nezir's debuff got too high as well. Wind conclave needs a lot of co-ordination though. Speak up on vent and let everybody know what's going on.

    Last but not least. Don't worry too much about wipes :) You guys were the only strict 10 to actually kill LK on your server :) If there's anything I know, it's that you guys are really really good :) Life throws some major screwballs but hey I'm sure that your team will come out fine :) Most importantly have fun, take a breather from it and do some funny stuffs like seeing who lands in the lava in BWD XD Good luck on your raids :) hope you guys get the bosses down :)

  8. Thanks for the tips and encouragement. I think we'll pull it out too, it's just been frustrating getting the ball rolling.

  9. I can sympathise with your frustrations.

    We have also hit the wall on the current raids. We got further: 1/13 HC, 12/12 normal, but our progress recently has been going backwards.

    Our progress slowed, resulting in a key healer leaving for another guild, and a couple of people switched mains (for variety, gearing up other toons once their mains were 359-ed?). This cascaded us backwards quickly, resulting in more frustration.

    A few observations:

    1. Everyone matters now. Back in ICC, you could hide people in a 10-man team, and leave the critical roles to your best people. Now you need a minimum standard from everyone.

    2. Gear matters more than LK. Back in LK, skill + knowledge could overcome a huge gear deficit. Now it appears that gear is critical as well.

    3. Highly complex fight mechanics: fights take a lot of research to learn, a lot of time to explain, and (for normals) a lot of practice to get down.

    4. Uneven progression speed. One good thing about the ICC buff was that it allowed constant progression. Now you can hit common roadblocks: e.g. 3/12, 11/12, 1/13, 4/13. People get demoralised at these points, resulting in attendance issues. Old-time raiders may not be concerned, but LK raiders aren't used to this. (It is a game, right?)

    The net impact of the above is that if you hit a barrier and people start not attending, then it is very difficult to bring new or undergeared people in. This can make it difficult for completed bosses to become "Farm", which is the worst possible case.

    e.g. Nef: bring just 1 new person in, and you guarantee an evening of lava jumping wipes.

    I'm not certain the new troll instances will help. They will be rough on PuGs, and the extra gear will only overcome one of the challenges above.

    I think the only solution is for Blizz to learn and adjust appropriately. e.g. I feel HCs are well balanced now: at the current gear/experience level, PuGs can complete in 30-45 mins if they treat them with respect. They are also much more fun as DPS than the LK heroics, as you are using all your abilities rather than AOEing everything.

  10. Great observations. It's good to hear from people who are experiencing the same things down the road. I agree that heroics seem to have balanced out... I wonder if we'll feel the same way about this intro raid level in a few months? To really do that though, it would seem like they'd need to release the next tier of gear. I believe we need to almost "overgear" something to have it on "farm." Otherwise, it will always be a struggle, and it's very hard to "overgear" the current content I think.