Sunday, September 13, 2009

Crusader's Evaluation

3.2 has been out for a good long while now and we are soon to be taken into 3.2.2, along with the newly realized Onyxia's lair. However, it took some good while to get all of the new encounters released so I have been saving some of my thoughts until now.

Personally, it is one of my favorite raid instances in the game, as of this time. Ulduar was not bad but it could never really rise to point where I was excited about it, at least the same way I was about Naxxramas and now Trial of the Crusader. Oddly, it is the very nature of the instance that I like so much, which is, it has minimum of the fuss that most raids have. Of course, I am talking about trash.

Ulduar was particularly painful at times because trash itself often had to merit their own tactics. There were a large variety of them and while the challenge was welcome, after it became a routine, the tactics became tiresome and not at all satisfying. On the contrary, whole group would sigh when being held from reaching Vezax, Auriaya, or Mimiron because you had to stop to mark mobs and focus on taking them down with the care often only associated with the bosses themselves.

When it comes to TotC, I was never one to hold back my skepticism about the four tier difficulties; 10-man, 10-man hc, 25-man, and 25-man hc. Seemed overly complex to me but then again, it seems to work very well for this instance. Once your group gets the hang of it, if decently geared, it should have no trouble clearing the normal modes. The instance itself has no trash so this can even done as a side note, if your guild still wants to focus on clearing some of Ulduar's hard modes.

Also, because the five encounters can each be cleared under a decent time, you can even do two in one day, which not only helps gearing up but also collecting of emblems, a large quantity which you will in fact need to get a full tier 9 set. The encounters themselves are successful in my opinion, as so far, I have not once been bored by them. They have a nice balance that you have to pay attention but not overwhelming to a point where you need to have a degree in high WoW science to complete them.

Northrend Beasts is a three phase fight where you fight three completely different encounters in quick succession, each with their various strategies. It is also a fight that seems to set the tone for the whole instance, which is good coordination within your group. The fight is not difficult if you are coming properly geared from Ulduar, but every does have their job to do and if they are not carried out, the fight will inevitably turn against you.

Lord Jaraxxus is one of those fights that is extremely simple for the MT and just won't leave the OT alone. Once against it has various aspects, like add tanking, random flames to mind, and abilities interrupt, so the whole group has to coordinate to get through the fight successfully. A well aoe capable tank is preferred for the role of an OT, since you will be dealing with several adds, all which the dps needs to burn down.

Faction Champions is one I have never before seen in the game, which is a pvp encounter. It follows most of the rules for pvp and is unlike you will find anywhere in Northrend. For tanks, you will not actually tank anything. Rather your duty is to keep one of the major dps on you as much as possible. For a death knight, this provides numerous tools in the form of Chain of Ice, Dark Command, and Death Grip. You cannot get real aggro, so be prepared to use the following powers the second they come out of cooldown.

For DPS and healers, it offers all the pvp elements; use abilities to snare others enemies and burst damage down one target at a time. Healers need to run and heal almost constantly as the enemy dps will try to go for them nearly constantly, se be prepared. The fight does not actually require pvp gear, which equal resilience, but a pvp trinket would not hurt if you find yourself constantly as a target of CC abilities.

The Twin Val'kyrs are one of those mind games, which essentially means the whole fight is one big prank. The whole fight revolves around the idea that you have to have the opposite colour aura to the color of the boss you are fighting. Joggling and changing to the right aura plays a crucial role in realizing just when to change aura and when to go for which boss. It takes time to get used to but is essentially a very simple fight.

The last fight is against Anub'arak, a boss everyone should find familiar from Naxxramas. Basically, it is both a challenge for both tanks and healers. The OT who deals with the tanks will be taking a lot of damage, especially on 25-man where cooldowns are necessary to survive the debuff stacks applies by the adds. The boss also does a load of constant raid wide damage so healers need their best game to get through it.

All and all, both the encounters and loot has something for everyone and is every bit worth battling through and farming for the best tier gear. As an added bonus, the trophy emblems that are needed to cash anything but the easiest set of gear are universal for everyone. So there are five trophies per run to be shared by everyone, instead of getting annoyed when a murphy's law designates that only half the raid gets the badges they need and the rest spend the evening grinding their teeth.

All and all, a very enjoyable raid for myself.

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