ICC25 Hard Mode: Riders on the Storm

Come on, baby, light my fire–The Doors

The hard mode difficulty curve is a funny thing in Icecrown Citadel. The easiest layout for a raid leader would be the bosses starting out easy and then getting a little harder one step at a time, allowing for a natural progression path through the instance. ICC does not follow this pattern directly. In your path up the Heroic Mode Mountain is Lady Deathwhisper.

Tackling Deathwhisper right after Marrowgar is akin to following Captain Sobel up Currahee, taking a train down the other side, and then climbing Mt. Rainier. For a raid leader, going for progression on Deathwhisper is a tough call since it gates hard modes that are much easier to complete.

For me, the increase of Strength of Wrynn to 10% made this decision easy. We needed to drop Deathwhisper and we needed to do it right now. Our strategy was solid, and our strategies for the other hard modes in our crosshairs were solid. Getting Deathwhisper down didn’t mean one new kill, it meant 3.

Arise and Exalt : Control

Night 1: 3 Tanks, 6 Healers, 7 Melee, 9 Ranged

Control was the goal of our first night. Seven adds spawning from 3 locations means that you need an effective way to get them to the DPS, get them down within 40 seconds (with transformations), and then reset to get ready for the next set.

The other side of control is controlling your own raid members. Heroic mode adds the fun mechanic [sic] of Deathwhiper mind controlling 3 people. DPS, if left un-CC’d will absolutely destroy your raid. This is doubly true for the melee DPS on the adds.

Controlling mind-controlled melee is a two step process:

  1. They need CC’d to keep them from killing the other melee
  2. They need to be protected from hostile cleaves whenever they are mind controlled

We used warriors on each side, allowing us the ability to fear the melee out as soon as they were MC’d. Once feared away it was easy to sheep them down to keep them alive, but unable to inflict pain upon the raid.

The add spawning from the door was picked up by a tank spec’d DK and carried to the right side (facing Deathwhisper). All was in order. Things were picked up, transformed Fanatics were kited and killed and the other cultist transformations were handled, well, not as well as they could. This caused us to enter P2 with approximately 5 minutes left on the enrage timer. At the end of the evening our best attempt sat in the 80% range, hardly anything significant.

Embrace the Darkness: Head-on -a-Swivel

Night 2: 2 Tanks, 6 Healers, 8 Melee, 8 Ranged

The transition to Phase 2 is a lot less hectic than you would think. To me it seems that if you remove her mana shield any time before the 4 minute mark, you will have enough breathing room on the berserk timer. There’s only one point that is a poor time to transition, and that’s the second after an add spawn.

Having adds up, even as high as 50% is not a concern. Get into P2 as quickly as possible, the add spawn timer resets. We kept all of the DPS on the adds for the first wave to ensure we were properly settled. Then the ghosts come.

Phase 2 is all about the ghost spawns. A ghost exploding has about the same effect on your raid as a Terran Ghost firing a nuke into the middle of a zergling rush. At first, no one could avoid the ghosts, especially the melee group assigned to take care of the adds spawning on alternating sides of the room throughout phase 2.

The only way to get practice here is to get to Phase 2 quickly and efficiently. The more time people see the ghosts, the better they’ll get at avoiding them. Conversely, people need to be aware when the ghosts spawn if they are NOT being targeted. Running from a ghost that isn’t coming your way drops the raid DPS and healing.

Our attempts improved over the course of the evening and finally it was all coming together. No ghosts were exploding, the adds were going down, and Deathwhisper was slowly melting. But, just as her HP reached 30%, our add tank died and it all came undone.

A tough 19% wipe.

All Part of the Master’s Plan: Finish Her!

Night 3: 2 Tanks, 5 Healers, 7 Melee, 11 Ranged

It was time. Time to move on, time to cross off another progression boss, and time for some really solid attempts.

60%, 20%, 0%

Everything learned over the past two nights came together. Healing with a limited crew gave us another boost DPS-wise, but meant that keeping everyone alive would be more challenging. For nearly every attempt, my post was on the stage at Deathwhisper’s former position. The usual chain heal/riptide combo is great for healing up the melee as they take cleaves and the splash from Frostbolt Volley. Kro and I partnered up in the back of the room covering the melee, melee tank, and back half of the ranged DPS. Our trees and priest covered the Deathwhisper tank, frostbolt kickers, and front half of the ranged DPS.

Every mind control on a healer jacked up the pressure just that much more, but we handled it and picked up a sweet guild first on one of the most challenging fights in the zone. But we weren’t done yet, Saurfang awaited.

World of Logs: Lady Deathwhisper

Holy Diver

You all know Saurfang . He’s that funny looking orc standing between you and the upper spire of Icecrown Citadel. Nothing new to see here in hard mode. The positioning is the same: 7 pairs of ranged DPS/healers standing 12 yards apart in an arc around the room. No one needs to move, we all have our spots and assignments.

What we didn’t have was more than one Holy Paladin. I’ve seen as many as 3 used on this fight to make the Mark of the Fallen Champion healing manageable. So while we waited for our second Paladin to log on, we set up and got some practice killing blood beasts and gauging the damage.

Those practice tries turned into a kill within 5 pulls. Luckily for us, most of the marks were cast in the melee, causing my chain heal finger to twitch a little bit faster than normal. We hit the frenzy with 4 marks and some seriously GCD locked healers. I waited as long as I could on Heroism so that we could spam our faces off for the remainder of the fight, but…we needed it, and we needed it fast.

Marks kept popping up in melee and my chain heals didn’t leave them. The anticipation of completing Heroic: Storming the Citadel shot a surge of adrenaline up our collective raiding spine as the heroism went down with 5% to go.

Marked players came within mere percents of dieing, almost ending the fight in a near-win for us to try again. The last few percent ticked down and off I was, master looting a heroic vanquisher token and collected a new belt for myself. One holy paladin, a ton of marks, and another frostwyrm meta check mark.

World of Logs: Saurfang

Formalities

Festergut was as alive as a death row inmate eating his last meal. Two of our targets were down, one remained. No pep talks needed, no strategy tweaks, just the addition of a healer and some solid execution.

I detailed our strategy for Festergut here.

Kro’s take on the Night: Known As Kro

World of Logs: Festergut

Hitting three new hard modes and moving back into our number one Alliance spot was our goal for this reset. However, that’s only a small portion of why it was such a great raid night. Raiding guilds work hard on progression nights. A lot of the time they work harder than they probably should, and end up doing more on a boss than they probably should.

Wipe nights have rewards. The reward for those 15 to 20 pulls of no epics is a night where everyone is upbeat, happy, and ready to jack up the next boss in their way. We may raid for epics and achievements, but what gets us all back in the same instance together night after night are raids like this one; raids where you feel invincible.

There is no better feeling for a raid leader than a plan working out just as you hoped. Now we can focus our attention on Sindragosa, Putricide, and fancy new Icebound Frostbrood Vanquishers.

But first, BRM Spring Gathering 2010: The weekend where we raid a guildmate’s house with beer and delicious food for an epicly good time.

Fun random YouTube:

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