We burn…We need focus…Thorasoh’cahp! — Archon, StarCraft
Our third and final night of hard modes included two bosses that supercharge the raid to ridiculous levels: Blood Queen and Valithria Dreamwalker. Killing off both would allow us to meet and exceed our goal of at least 5 hard modes this first reset. It turns out we were more prepared for both than I originally thought.
Leaving a raid with a boss at 4.7% HP, knowing you needed just 12k more raid DPS, tends to leave a good amount of trepidation at the start of next night. You worry of falling into a loop of wiping since your momentum from the last evening’s attempts is all but gone. The best thing to do before starting right in on a boss is get the blood flowing. A warm-up if you will.
For us it was the trash prior to Dreamwalker. We cleared to collect our free single Emblem of Frost and then back-tracked to the Crimson Halls. The message? Once we drop Blood Queen, Dreamwalker could be saved shortly after.
Once again we prepped for Blood Queen. Potions at the ready, food and flasks, a quick double check to make sure all the raid buffs were covered.
A close, clean first attempt that set the stage for what was to come. It became apparent that we had two choices at this point:
- Keep making small refinements to the bite order, encourage slightly more efficient movement, and hope for a bit of luck in the crit department
- Drop a healer (to 5) and add another DPS
We chose #2 and had our lone Holy Pally whip out his two hander for a little divine retribution. All we needed him to do was about 2.5M damage over the course of the fight.
That is how much time a raid of mere mortals gets to fight the Blood Queen. An early death on the first air phase caused us to burn a battle rez, but it was on a non-vampire melee. No harm done, still on pace. The Essence continues to spread and we approach the second air phase, ahead of our DPS check point and time for a serious burn.
But just as the round of 16 vampires were set for their Heroism-fueled DPSgasm, our second druid and one of our warlocks bit the dust. Twenty-three raiders, 16 DPS, 4 healers, 25 million hit points. With chain heal lasers bouncing and druids frantically flailing to keep the raid alive, the eyes of the raid fixated on the enrage timer and the HP of Blood Queen, both dropping rapidly.
1%. Explosion. Paladin Bubble.
Victory. Berserk + 0:07
A huge kill and, thankfully, one that will only get easier with gear.
A Quick Word On 5 Healing
Losing our holy paladin meant that the responsibility for both the melee and the tanks would pass to me. Chain heal and riptide are incredibly effective tools for healing those 12 players. As long as I kept my Riptide on cooldown (and on the tanks), I was able to keep my chain heals rolling over them constantly. The double Pact of the Darkfallen in melee range continued to be incredibly dangerous, especially if a blood bolt landed close enough to splash into the melee group.
Don’t ever stop casting on this fight. As your chain heals are casting, look for the person that just spiked down a bit and hit them with a Riptide. Keep chain heals going at all times, which is easy to do with the minimal amount of movement during the ground phase.
The final 90 seconds with 16 active vampyr can only be described as pulse quickening tension. Be ready to heal your ass off.
Dreamwalker seemed almost anti-climactic after the rush of Blood Queen. We beefed the raid up from a 5 healers to 8. Our initial strategy was to have 2 healers cover the front (Me/Paladin) and 3 cover the back clouds (All Trees). The big change from Normal to Heroic Mode is that the Emerald Dream has turned into the dreaded Emerald Nightmare. The Nightmare is red, scary, and has clouds that will damage Valithria while they are active.
Therefore the collection of the clouds is important because you need them to heal the 18 million minimum, but if you don’t collect them fast enough then you’ll be digging a hole and burying yourself in the process.
Kro and I already had plenty of experience from 10 man. The frustrations of trying to collect those clouds are incalculable. If they used the same orbs as the Twin Val’kyr, you could sneeze on your monitor and get a 10 stack. To remove that bit of lunacy from the fight, we traveled as a pair to collect the clouds to double our chances at an explosion (which is quite forgiving, range wise).
Our first attempt was a wipe just before 80%, and before Heroism. Once we saw that collecting the orbs and keeping your stack was rather trivial, we knew a kill was coming as soon as the add team got their strategy working.
After completing the encounter and assessing our strategy for tweaks (it was a bit of a scramble near the end), it seemed like we could either have a healer bail from taking portals early to help heal outside or maybe even just got with a 4/4 split instead of sending in 5 (I guess it gets a little crowded with 3 folks trying to get portals and keep a stack). The real driver behind the final choice will be how the healing for the first portion of the fight is affected.
They should’ve sent a poet
Our first week in ICC25 Hard was undoubtedly a success, but the bosses that we completed on hard mode were certainly the low hanging fruit on the iLevel 277 loot tree. Next reset will be a tough battle against the much more difficult Lady Deathwhisper, Deathbringer Saurfang, and Festergut. With a few more guilds joining in on the hard mode fun (potentially) next week, we’ll be pushed to keep up the solid effort. Competition is always a great motivator, even if it’s competing in the top 600 ranks, server rank is still fun to shoot for.
I’m surprised it took me this long to get to a Starcraft reference in. The merging is complete.