Halion Post #72653: This is the good Twilight

1 July, 2010

Rebels souls, deserters we were called. Chose a gun, and threw away the sword. Now these towns, they all know our names. Six gun sound is our claim to fame. — Bad Company

You’ve already watched the TankSpot video, you’ve read the brief strat write-ups on WoWHead, and maybe even dabbled in a bit of the lore. Going back over all of that is just going to be a waste of your time, and mineso here are my brief (not) impressions/opinions on the last raid of Wrath of the Lich King.

Overall, I was pleased with the new visuals and layout of the instance. It’s only one room so my expectations weren’t amazingly high, but they did a good job capturing the Red Flight’s theme that you see in Dragonblight.

The mini-boss concept is something that they’ve opened up in Wrath of the Lich King and I hope continues into Cataclysm. The dogs and the valkyr in Icecrown Citadel, along with the drakes in Obsidian Sanctum and Lieutenants inside Ruby Sanctum, break up the trash clear in a good way.  They have mechanics that you actually have to worry about and give your DPS some time to actually ramp up and use their real rotations.

For healers, we get to glance back at the monitor during trash which is nice. So far in Wrath there has been no trash other than maybe Crimson Halls that required any sort of real attention.

Halion Phase 1

Being outdoors in an open grove, you immediately get the sense that you are going to need to use most of the area and do a lot of movement. The first step that I always try to take when setting up a fight like this is try and maximize the raid’s usable space, if possible. The fiery wall surrounding the fight area is a nice border you can park Halion’s side against. The breath and tail aren’t really a problem, and if a meteor or poorly placed “void zone” force movement, you can just walk along the outside rim.

Phase 1 is a big time joke. There is nothing in this phase of the fight that can kill you (even if you try). You can take  a meteor to the face and still live. Why? I have absolutely no idea. If it was so important to move out of it, why make it take so long to land or even give much of a warning at all. As it stands, anyone that’s even barely paying attention will reduce the raid damage to nothing.

Conversely, a raid with lower DPS might have to deal with more meteors and void zones. Our raid comp ended up being 2 tanks (Warrior/Paladin), 5 Healers (Shaman/2xPriest/2xDruid), and 18 DPS (10 ranged, 8 melee), which is very DPS heavy. As we reached 75%, we were consistently getting 2 void zones and 1 meteor. Yawn.

Zone into the Twilight. Don’t touch the Dragon. He bites.

Hallion Phase 2

BloodlustHeroism as soon as everyone is phased in.

Going into this fight, you might ask yourself: “self, how the heck am I going to see the people to cleanse in the right spot while I’m running around dodging this big lazer!?” The answer is simple, just cleanse it right away. We tested fairly early on that the damage done by the void zones (both shadow and fire) in normal mode are easy to heal through for quick bursts.

Cleansing people immediately in the Twilight gives you these benefits

  1. Mindless. Your healers won’t have to think a lot about people’s position and whether it’s “safe” to cleanse. The debuff pops up on your grid and you just knock it right back down.
  2. Small void zone. An immediate cleanse creates a void zone that’s about 8ish yards across. Even if it’s dropped in melee, Halion’s hit box is so big that you almost don’t even notice it. They disappear in enough time

Phase 2 doesn’t last all that long (a trend from Phase 1).

Halion Phase 3

Shieldbubblebear Wall while people are zoning in/out and healers are making sure the Physical Realm team is safely ushered back upstairs.

If assigned, zone out into the Physical Realm. Don’t touch the Dragon. He bites.

Your raid is now split in two. We sent the melee upstairs (+hunter) and kept the ranged DPS downstairs. The Twilight Cutter is impossible to get hit by if you’re a ranged dps unless you’re standing right on top of an orb. Conversely the melee are always in danger of getting caught up in their rotation and being zapped.It’s also easier to just say “melee up, ranged down” and you don’t have to bother with pesky group assignments.

Physcial Realm (Top)

One Healer. One Tank. A little bit of fire. We started off with our healing split being 2 down (Me and a Druid) and 3 up (Druid + 2 Priests). We then went to 2 up, 3 down (Me/Druid/Priest), and by the time we killed him we determined that the top can be easily solo healed. Four healers, split between tank and raid, is good insurance for the Twilight Realm which is significantly…more involved than the Physical Realm.

Twlight Realm (Bottom)

Healer tips for those that are new:

  1. If your tank is closely following the beam (like he should be), a good place to stand is right on the bosses front leg. This will keep you in range of him with some buffer if a void zone is dropped oddly, but will also keep your DPS healing targets within 40 yards.
  2. That being said, make sure you don’t get cleaved or breathed on, it’s easy to lose track of which way the dragon is facing while you’re running.
  3. The tank is your number one priority, do not focus on keeping raid members topped off 100% of the time. Make sure you are keeping them in a safe range, certainly, but this fight is over immediately if that tank drops. Dead raid members can be battle-rezzed (also: ankh, soul stone) and take the portal back down.
  4. Riptide and LHW are your best friend. Being soft-capped on your haste is a good thing here.
  5. Communicate with your tank and let him know if you’re out of range for any length of time. Even if it’s only for a little, Halion hits hard enough that an unlucky avoidance streak will equal a wipe.
  6. I found myself hitting my NS cooldown as soon as it came up and waiting on it for a quick burst when I was moving (prelude to Cataclysm and spirit-walking).

One thing to keep in mind if you choose to do a melee up, ranged down strat, Halion’s corporeality will dip under 40% quite often as the ranged DPS will be forced to move as a group much more often than the melee. Just have the Physical realm pause for a bit and let it come back up.

Stay out of the Twilight Cutter and you’ll have little problems. Like I said above, a competent healer can handle the Physical realm on their own. Even with the movement requirements in the Twilight, I never felt overly stretched. Though, after healing Putricide(HM) Phase 3, Halion phase 3 is a bit of a breather.

Impressions

I made the comparison of raids to Theme Parks a few posts back, and that analogy holds true for Halion. Halion is a boss that’s all about making you feel like you’re about to die at any moment, but never actually does anything that will kill you. The void zones aren’t really void zones, you can run across one and live with just a couple heals (if any). The Twilight Cutter is dangerous but the extensive emotes and the slow movement mean you really have to leave your computer to be killed by it.

We obviously haven’t done heroic mode (yet), but I’ve read enough about it to know that there is a lot more potential in this fight. Heroic additions such as adds from meteors, void zones appearing in both realms, and two simultaneous twilight cutters means that if you didn’t have enough things to not stand in before, you can rest assured that you’re available space will be much tighter.

Anyways, as far as the normal mode version of the encounter goes, it was a fun and refreshing take on YADF*. Anything that splits the raid in half is always a challenge of balancing and coordination. You never quite know what is going on so it forces you to actively communicate and keep vent cleared. The vent clogging can get out a bit out of hand as the Twlight Realm will be talking a lot more than the Physical Realm.

The first two phases were just too short for even very average DPS. Because of this, you don’t really deal with any of the mechanics until the last phase and by that time, as long as your tanks stay upright you can limp home if needed. The meteor and void zone timers do not require your movement and positioning to be as strict as I thought they would. Things tend to disappear rather quickly.

I stayed in the Twilight Realm, but from what I heard over Vent, the Physical Realm is the trivial portion of the encounter.

On hard mode with the adds and additional damage/void zones, it will likely be the more complicated half of the raid. The disappointing thing about normal mode, sadly, was that we only got one upgrade (Caster DPS trinket). The other pieces were given to offspecs/side grades. We’ve spent a lot of time farming hard mode ICC, so that is expected, but it seems like we could have used this boss maybe 2 months ago whenever we were plodding along still with some 251 gear.

My question is: Why not have encounters in all of the Wyrmrest portals? Both Sartharion and Halion were incredibly enjoyable experiences top to bottom. It would end up being a set of 1 encounter dungeons that would form a pseudo-full instance. There were a lot of breaks in content throughout Wrath of the Lich King, adding fights for the Green (with Ulduar?), Blue(with ToC?), and Bronze (with ICC?) flights would have been really cool.

All in all, we notched another boss kill in about 6 attempts. By ICC standards it ranks on the low end of difficult fights, but nothing I didn’t expect. In the next couple resets I hope to get into hard mode (10 man and possibly 25) to see what’s in store to snag some i284s.

Bottom-Line: Very fun and engaging encounter, but lacks a real danger factor once you’ve seen how tame some of the mechanics really are. A nice punctuation mark on a successful expansion.

*Yet Another Dragon Fight

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Strength of Win

5 April, 2010

Temper gets you into trouble. Pride keeps you there.–Unknown

Nearly 5 weeks into the era of the zone-wide Icecrown buff, I’ve taken some time to reflect on how it has truly affected the way that raids are run and the affect it has on progression.

Assistance

Icecrown Citadel is a series of glass ceilings. There are many guilds bumping their heads trying to break through each of them right now:

  • Sindragosa
  • Lich King
  • (H) Gunship/Marrowgar/Rotface/Council/Dreamwalker/Festergut/Blood Queen
  • (H) Deathwhisper/Saurfang
  • (H) Sindragosa
  • (H) Putricide
  • (H) Lich King

The timeline currently allows guilds 4 weeks to break through each ceiling on their own. After that, the buff will increase and nudge them through. This was evident on our server this week as several guilds broke through barrier 2 and 3 above to step up. Across all servers, everyone moved up together. Our US and world ranks changed very little, which is another indicator of just how granular the skill level is among guilds.

If you’re killing it, chances are everyone else at your level is also killing it.

We like to think that our accomplishments occur in a vacuum, but they don’t. Our accomplishments are grand, and often times astounding for the server that we play on. This is why many of us focus on intra-server progression more so than World or even US rankings. It’s a way for us to get good, fair comparison.

The guilds on your server are using the same forums, same pool of recruits, and have the same server culture. It’s also nice to actually pass your competition on the way to the instance and not have them be some mystical number and fancy name on a website.

Srength of Wrynn has ferried along everyone very nicely, allowing us to progress at a steady pace without doing the work for us. The final goals of Icecrown Progression are very clear:

  1. Glory of the Icecrown Raider (25 Player)
  2. Realm First! Light of Dawn
  3. Leveling Gear

Everyone where we are (in the 8/12, 9/12 heroic mode range) has a high enough raid-gear level to complete the instance. Blizzard only made 4 277 tier tokens available per week (and only 2 of those being realistically accessible). Expecting your entire raid to be decked out in best in slot gear to complete the instance would be folly.

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Lich King: Post-Mortem

5 March, 2010

Champions, attack! – Tirion Fordring

Last night Blood Red Moon sewed up the final encounter in Icecrown Citadel 25 (Normal Mode) with the defeat of the Lich King.  The kill marked another Alliance First for us, and on a progression related note, kept us right on pace with our horde competition when we start hard modes next week.

I think this reset you’ll see a huge spike in the number of kills due to the slight buff everyone got this reset.  For us, we were making good progress and had been occasionally making it into phase 3 prior to the nerf.  Our DPS was never an issue, however the little bit of extra damage shaved some time off the Val’kyr in case of a few unfortunate defile placements.

I’m not going to throw down our raid comp and say to model what we did for a sure-fire victory, but I will give a few opinions on what things made a big difference in getting this fight down.  You can use Tankspot’s Writeup/Video if any of the mechanics need further explanation.

Phase 1 Plagues, Tirion, and Shambling Horrors!

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Ciderhelm asks: WoW, Toy or Game?

25 February, 2010

There are many other important elements to games, but those — especially Surprise — are the most essential ingredients to any great game. Without all of these, we are merely playing with toys, and we will find ourselves bored quickly.–Ciderhelm

Ciderhelm, Adminstrator over at Tankspot (link to the right), wrote a very intriguing article yesterday asking a very simple question: Does WoW still provide everything that one expects from a game?  I encourage everyone to go ahead and read it as it provides some great perspective on where WoW really stands currently, and puts forth some very valid concerns that Blizzard should be addressing if it wishes to keep it’s industry-revolutionizing MMO at the top of the heap at least until it’s next MMO venture is ready (we think maybe within the next 10 to 45 years).  Below is my take on this issue.

There is a very real difference between something that’s a Toy and a Game.  A football is a toy.  You can use that Toy with a group of friends and turn it into a Game, but a football on it’s own is something you pick up, toss around a bit and then set back in the garage when raid time rolls around.  Specifically, a game should provide some measure of challenge and provide a reward for completing this challenge.  The strategy used to complete said challenge and if any surprises crop up all go into how good or bad this game is.

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Perfection. How Blizzard could have made Icecrown the best raid zone yet.

12 February, 2010

Despair, so delicious.

Icecrown Citadel is one of the most fun raid instances, if not the most fun raid instance Blizzard has designed.

It has everything.

Lore tie-ins, interesting trash that isn’t just 8 pack after 8 pack, and bosses that have truly great mechanics to deal with.  You can pick out some great moments in different encounters like dealing with ooze merging late in Rotface or the final Vampiric Bite and burn phase on Blood Queen.  Healing Dreamwalker to death and the Gunship Battle are also brand new, innovative mechanics.  Top to bottom, mechanically, a superb effort by Blizzard.

I often go back and forth with myself on this however.  Is it really great? Am I just happy to get some new content? Or is it really all that I think it is?  I can certainly say that tanks do not enjoy Icecrown as much as a healer or DPSer.  There are only a select few (maybe 4) that truly involve the tanks.  Too many give them nothing to do and could be tanked just fine if they DC’d (Blood Queen comes to mind).  Let’s take a look at the raiding features introduced in Icecrown and how they could be changed or maybe they’re good enough to stay as they are.

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