Cataclysm Raiding: Do It Right, The First Time

You know, as I lie here, I can’t help but notice… the reason I am out of nine millimeter rounds is that I was not properly briefed. And the reason for that is that this mission was not properly researched. If certain people had bothered to gather intelligence on the creatures before bumbling into the situation…-Burt Gummer, Tremors II

By now you’ve likely experienced the rush of leveling. The grind out of the gate when you hit the floor in Hyjal and were knee-deep in dead NPCs. Dozens of random cut-scenes, hundreds of quests (and maybe a dungeon or 2 later), you are 85 and ready to enter heroics.

The most likely outcome? Your group crashed and burned by the second trash pack while your healer sat gasping for mana. This was the case for me, and it was one of those “we’re doing something HORRIBLY wrong” situations. What you’re doing wrong is ignoring the individual abilities of the trash mobs (or bosses). Not standing in cleaves, avoiding aoe damage, interrupting, and over-CC’ing willl make your heroic dungeon experience infinitely easier. Do you need to CC 3/4 mobs in pack? Probably not, but better safe than sorry on your first trip.

It’s no mystery that the first foray for our a group through a particular dungeon was painful. Figuring out the nuance in each trash pack and what makes a certain boss simple as opposed to a healing nightmare is a refreshing change. You need to learn what is going on and actually deal with it correctly.

Saying Hello With a Punch to the Face

This leads me directly into a discussion on Cataclysm Raiding. I decided to schedule a quick impromptu 10-man raid on Sunday (12/12/10). The usual process followed for brand new content: look and see which starting boss was killed the most and go for that one. That boss was Omnotron Defense System. A pseudo-council boss sitting in the right-hand wing upon entering Blackwing Descent. For those who haven’t traveled there, BWD opens with two bosses (think Ignis and Razorscale). Each boss has has 1 (Omnotron) and 2 (Magmaw) trash pulls respectively.

I immediately say to myself: “SELF! Only one trash pull, this will save tons of time.” A crazy zerg shit-storm later and we have it down…the trash pull.

Yikes.

Trash mobs with 6.5M hit-points using abilities that will two shot anyone and put tanks in constant danger? Where are the AoE flowers and robots that I can ride? Maybe they are found deeper in the dungeon but they certainly are not present in the front of the instance. Assigned healing, something that floated out of existence for an entire expansion, has returned. The two sentinels standing guard in front of Omnotron were merely an introduction; a sample of what was to come.

Mr. Obvious Gives You Advice

A one sentence overview of Omnotron Defense System: It will punish you severely when you do it wrong, and will become simple to execute when done correctly.

“I know, Mr. Obvious, of course if you do the fight correctly it will be simple.”

This has not always been the case. Having only one in-combat rez and a disadvantage in the gear department compounds the above statement. Omnotron has abilities that directly (and serverely) punish the raid if they are not properly handled. Travel to wowwiki and read up on the fight if you aren’t intricately familiar, but here is the basic idea. A robot activates and fights you. After a certain amount of time he will put up a shield which turns on a new robot. When a robot runs out of mana he shuts down (post-shield). This rotates around until their shared 32.5 million hp bar is depleted and you can collect your epics. By their names you can guess what they do (kind of).

Arcanotron. Magmatron. Toxitron. Electron. Not always in that order.

1) Don’t DPS the Shield

With a few attempts under our belts we decided to adopt a “Don’t DPS the shield” strategy. Nothing good can come of damaging the shield. The difference in raid damage is immediately noticeable. This made it easy for us to debug problems in the strategy in regards to positioning and how folks are handling the other RSTS abilities. We placed all of the trust in our tanks to pick up the newly activated robots on time and told the DPS to start immediately.

2) Identify When to Group Up

The only robot that is sensitive to raid positioning is Electron (chain lighting). While all of the others are active, be closely grouped to make it easier on your healers. My default command was to call group on Arcanotron” when he was active. The pool he drops will be on the raid immediately and it will allow your healers to sustain this ~9 minute fight. The team of Arcanotron and Magmatron plays very nicely with this strategy.

The hardest combination to heal is Magmatron and Electron since they have conflicting abilities (chain lighting, raid wide fire area of effect). Healing Stream Totem glyph is handy.

3) Tank Cooldowns When New Robots Activate

There will be a small window of time when all 3 robots will be active. As a tank is changing from his shielded robot to the newly activated one, have them pop a cooldown to buffer the damage. Magmatron, in particular, hits hard and getting behind can cost you some vital mana reserves right as an ability is about to be used. If the tank is out of cooldowns, throw on an external one. Since our healing crew was druid-shaman-shaman, we didn’t have that option but did ok nonetheless.

4) Handle the Abilities

If you don’t put Magmatron’s laser away from the raid, kite Toxitrons slimes, or interrupt (most of) Arcanotron’s bolts, you will pay. It’s not a “woops get the next one” situation at this gear level. Each player needs to know how to react when things target them or the robots do certain things. It is not the most complicated fight I’ve ever done, but it will test your abilities and give you a quick introductory course on what to expect this expansion. The closest fight it resembles from WotLK is a slightly easier Mimiron.

Everyone but the tanks were working under completely new rules when it comes to playing their characters in a raid. We all had our toons geared through heroics, but amping it up and doing full (correct) dps rotations or properly healing to sustain a fight of this length is a test. If you can do this fight, you’re ready to go. All of the elements to a raid encounter are present.

  • Don’t stand in the Bad
  • Identify the Good, stand in it
  • Listen for vent calls on positioning
  • Switch targets on time
  • Keep your DPS/Healing up while moving/handling abilities

Moral of the story? Don’t be afraid to take a step back and see why you keep wiping. Have your tank look at his death log. It might be something as simple as an interrupt or mob-facing. Be sure that you are accounting for each ability (heroic, raid, or otherwise) and over-compensate for them. One thing is certain: you will waste far more time wiping to blissful ignorancethan searching wowhead for the abilities and some tips to help out.

So far, so good. On to Magmaw.

I’m not comfortable giving a complete breakdown of our strategy (and my healing strategy) yet; not for “secrecy’s” sake, but for correctness. I think there’s a few things I can do better to improve my output and make the most out of my mana bar.

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One Response to Cataclysm Raiding: Do It Right, The First Time

  1. Rigor says:

    Just attempted to heal it the other night, a little painful but I agree, when it is done right finally it went amazingly smooth.

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