Thursday, May 20, 2010

Ruby Sanctum PTR

shadow_dragon I was highly disappointed when I could not personally attend the latest PTR testing phase for the Ruby Sanctum. Was positively thrilled about having an early go and look at the new instance, below Wyrmrest Temple but due to whatever technical complications, I just could not get my character copied. But, at least now I can sit down and watch some of the first videos as they come out of the pipeline and what the encounters are all about.

In truth, I can only find vids about Halion, the Twilight Destroyer but much like Sartharion in the Obsidian Sanctum, Halion is the primary star of this instance. The minibosses, well… they aren’t all that important. From what I heard, quite a few guilds managed to kill Halion during the PTR testing, which is not at all surprising but keeping in mind that things can still change, including the encounter’s difficulty, as well as the fact that this was normal mode, we should still expect a challenge once the patch is released. If nothing else, the heroic version of the fight should prove interesting.

I will go over what I can about the encounter, or at least, what I think I have been able to learn from it. Please keep in mind that everything you read here is both subject to change and is all primarily speculation, a theoretical exercise summary of the things that I was able to find from various sources.

The fight itself occurs in a circular, confined area, that at least to me seems smaller on the video than what we had for Sartharion, so maximizing the space is important. It seems the best place to tank Halion, is actually at the edge of the area, turned slightly sideways so the frontal cleave and tail swipes aren’t a problem. This frees rest of the area for the raid to maneuver in and there are two things to mainly watch out for.

First is the Meteor Strike. It will target a random player with an effect that looks a lot (or exactly like) the warlock’s Hellfire spell. When that shows up, the target and everyone around him needs to move away before a large ball of fire explodes on top of it. This deals a fixed set of damage and spawns Living Inferno, which in turn is almost exactly like coldflame on the Lord Marrowgar encounter. On the vid, I actually witnessed the Meteor Strike even hit the MT, but either it did not seem to bother him much. Either the damage was trivial, or he popped a CD, or the healers were just awesome. We’ll have to see which one it is.

Second, and this is one that I am not certain what to call it, since the data mining at has actually come up with quite a few spells, is the Soul Consumption. What it seems to do is deal periodic shadow damage, until it either fades or is dispelled. As it ticks, it will stack a debuff called Mark of Consumption, which will explode and create a patch of flame on the floor, depending on how many stacks the target had. So I am guessing that dispelling it as soon as possible is important. Just need to make sure the target vacates to a more remote corner of the area before it is dispelled or you will probably wipe the raid when the patch of flame erupts in middle of your raid.

Those are the two abilities that you need to control and I have a feeling that this is not an encounter that relies on high dps, but rather the control of the various elements. From a tank’s point of view, I an offer very little because until you actually tank it (like I had hoped to do) it is difficult to garner information from the fight. It does seem there is a few points of very high damage, mainly from the boss’s breath weapon. Again, data mining has produced a couple of alternatives, the damage ranging between 26k and 50k, during rather short intervals.

Once you have the phase 1 under control, you will need to deal with phases 2 and 3. The second phase, which starts at 75% and Halion enters the Twilight Realm and the raid needs to follow in through two portals. This is where it gets interesting, because you will get an emote warning “The orbiting spheres pulse with dark energy!” When that happens, you see two orbs at the opposite ends of the boss, one front and one at the tail connect with a purple line. I have no details of its effects, but the raid obviously avoids cross it and the tank actually rotates the boss, with the raid constantly moving and staying on the one half of the area.

That goes on until 50% and phase 3 begins, at point which you need to split your raid in two. On the vid, the raid split between melee staying in the Twilight Realm and the ranged dps moving to the physical realm. For this, you need obviously a second tank, and on each side you need to continue to deal with the fight’s mechanics; meteors and fire on the physical world and the orbs in the Twilight Realm. During this, you can see a new UI element, on the top of your screen showing Halion’s corporeality which adjusts, depending which side does more damage and you may need to communicate to keep it in control because the more corporeal he is, the more damage he will take from the physical realm but also deal significant more damage on the physical world (functioning visa versa if there is more damage done in the physical world).

According to the extra damage on the tank can go as high as 200% which can probably begin to one shot the tank. If not on normal mode, it certainly will on heroic mode. So if you can deal with the corporeality, which shouldn’t be hard tbh, the fight is essentially yours and you can go home victorious.

As usual, (what would we do without those guys?) has come through for us and posted a complete loot table on their site. Some very nice pieces in there. Certainly worth taking a look. Naturally, there will be emblems of frost rewarded for the fight; 3 on 25-man and I assume, 1-2 on 10-man.

That’s all I have really. In the mean while, feel free to drop me a line, comment and add, or correct me, if something caught your eye. Like I said, a lot of this is speculation since I wasn’t actually there. Hope you enjoyed.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Disciplined Damage

female_priest I recently rekindled my interest in my healer, including both raid and PvP environment. Concerning raids, it is really not a big problem. Specs and tactics are well laid out over the internet and never found it difficult to do the research it needed. In most cases, I am easily out healing most other healers with lesser gear. However, when it comes to PvP things get a lot more difficult; specs are highly adapted to play styles and even spell selections and priorities seem to shift greatly between players. Navigating this maze can be a bit daunting sometimes, so figured I’d upload some of the things that I’ve personally found.

There are really two ways to play a discipline priest on the arena, and PvP in general, and that’s defensively and offensively. If you only stick to battlegrounds, you might want to go defensive because you can count on your group doing the necessary damage but on arenas, at least when approaching the higher ratings, you need to shift more and more to the offensive and the common tactic is to hit the opposing team hard in the very beginning of the fight.

The way that discipline priests deal damage is essentially two folded; either via shadow spells, such as dots and Mind Blast, or through holy spells, such as Holy Fire and Smite. The camp is divided between these two schools and both have strong arguments towards them, so lets go through them.

Firstly, dealing damage through shadow spells means your primary burst spell is Mind Blast which is accompanied by Devouring Plague and Shadow Word: Pain. It is a good combination but I find it inefficient due to how slow it is. Mind Blast has an 8 second CD and the DoTs tick really slow. But then again, it has the benefit of not requiring a lot of work on your part. You can just drop out of LoS, hit the target with DoTs and a quick blast, before disappearing again, and after that you can completely focus on healing again.

If you forego this method, you can try doing holy damage, but this specifically requires that you spec for it, while you can still use shadow spells with a defensive spec. Then again, there is no resistance against holy damage and the combination of HF + Smite + Smite does a lot of damage, very quickly. The only weakness it has is the fact that if you get counterspelled while casting, it will effectively lockout your holy spells, including all your heals for 8 seconds. Needless to say that can be very dangerous.

For a spec, I suggest you take a look at the one below. It often tends to draw a lot of negative feedback from disbelieving priests who do not understand its potential, but I have seen quite a few priests swear by it and do very well. Again, it also comes down to your personal flavor.


The most important talents for this spec are Divine Fury and Searing Light, and do not forget the Glyph of Smite. They all add to the damage of your smite attack, which can be 6-7k on a successful crit, depending on your gear. An argument could be made that speccing so high on damage takes attention away from defensive abilities and indeed, they are valid. Tbh, I cannot see the whole spec working unless you are sitting on some pretty good gear, which makes it possible to rely on it to supply the necessary protection.

You could make a case for taking the three talent points from Rapture and putting them elsewhere, like Grace, Improved Renew, or Spell Warding. However, having Rapture doesn’t just increase your own mana efficiency, but helps your partner pump out more damage. If you insist on letting it go, I would recommend either of the two last choices. There seems to be too much target switching to effectively use Grace. Improved Renew helps both you and your partner, and again, if your gear allows it, it might be better to forego the extra mitigation from Spell Warding.

No matter which route you take, remember that, as a healer your damage will never be awesome. It is simply a little bit of extra to help your partner out. Also, the specifics of your spec, like whether or not use Rapture, etc. largely depends on your team mate(s) and your personal play style. Find what works best for you and go with it. Be open to suggestions, but let no one tell you what to do, because at the end of the day, discipline is a highly versatile class.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Inspiring Loyalty

It has been a while since I have written, I apologize for this. It has been rather hektic on both World of Warcraft and personal front. As a tide of big news, The Increment decided and followed up on changing realms, due to the lack of quality new recruits to strengthen our ranks, to allow us to press deeper into the ICC hard modes. We are now residing on Neptulon, much to my disappointment since it is a PvP server and all who knows me, I am not big on those. However, it has been a week now and live has continued fairly normally, though a time of mourning for many of us because we also consequently lost several old members of the guild of which, some, have been in the guild for a very long time.

The reason I picked this curious title for my next article was because during this change, decided to try my alt in a Neptulonian PvP guild, just to see how it is like and maybe get some quality PvP. It took me one whole day to find I did not like the guild and left – sent on my way by the GM’s grand statements about loyalty among members.

Loyalty, as in, honor and dedication to someone? Loyalty is inspired by respect, and respect in turn, must be earned. If it was taken for granted, you never really had it. So what is it within us that inspires respect and loyalty to a guild? Depends on the person, what each individual plays for but I’m pretty certain most people who actually play World of Warcraft value simple and common themes like dignity, honor, decency, humor, good manners and mature behavior. To judge a guild, you need to judge its character, which is made up from the personas who inhabit it.

This is where the danger lies; it is a common misconception for guild masters that people whom they invite, need to show and up hold standards, including loyalty and self-sacrificial ideals to be accepted as members of the community. However, in many minds, this only goes one way and often leads to conflicts when new members find they do not enjoy themselves. Most of the time, these can be settled amicably, in civilized manner but with millions of subscribers, you can count on finding few rotten apples in there. I personally experienced this not too long, when I specifically applied and even transferred realms to join a guild I perceived to be a good one. After a couple of months though, I quit, firmly but still politely informing them that it was not the kind of guild I was looking for and since, as long as I stayed on that server, met with a lot of hostility, even if I as much as passed them on the streets of Dalaran.

That is not the hallmark of a guild that inspires my loyalty and respect. A guild that expects us to sacrifice our evenings, join and give our full support, needs to return the favor. It is never a privilege to be a part of the community, as long as the relationship is only exploitive. For this reason, there are very few guilds, truly, who thrive whether they are big or small for running such a group is a challenge that requires a lot of talent from its leaders.

Any fool can put together a guild and invite anything from a dozen to several hundred players. It takes an exceptional individual to successfully make that guild thrive.

Some have been curious as to why, after only having been in this guild, The Increment, respectively for only such a short period of time, was I willing to spend the trouble and currency to change servers. The answer is simple: they have inspired my loyalty.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Sindragosa Down

This has truly been a good week, progression wise. First we get the Lich King down on 10-man and now the path has been cleared in 25-man, all the way to the top of the Icecrown Citadel. The only thing between us and the completion of the whole normal modes content is the Lich King himself.


The battle is set and we will reign victorious!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Glance at Heroic Modes

So the Lich King is dead and understandably, come next lockdown and we were all eager to sink our teeth into the heroic modes of Icecrown Citadel. But even with a lot of research on the previous days, I do not think any of us were quite prepared for them. After all, we knew they would be harder, but would they really be that much harder? In a word, yes, the heroic modes are an incredibly refreshing experience after the easy normal modes and we were really taken back just by the Lord Marrowgar encounter. I am going to go through the first wing of bosses, just reviewing some of our experiences and the changes to the bosses.

Lord Marrowgar

In a twisted way, for me, this is actually the hardest of the first four encounters. In simplest terms, the damage that the raid takes has gone up and is by no means trivial anymore. Both the bonestorm and fires are big killers, and the fight is actually all about avoiding as much as possible of it. Just on a plate tank, we recorded over 10k ticks from the whirlwind and our resto shaman reported that he can at best take 2-3 ticks of it before quickly dying.

We eventually went with a 1 tank, 4 healers, and 5 dps setup. One tank should be quite capable of tanking Marrowgar alone, and in fact, it simplifies the tank’s job when he avoids the fires. When bonestorms were imminent (5 seconds or so) the raid would quickly spread, healers divided between the two sides. This is so that when Marrowgar charges someone, he will only hit max 1-2 people, who quickly move out of the way. If you have good ranged dps, they will absolutely shine on this fight, because they are able to break spikes even from middle of fire.

Lady Deathwhisper

After Lord Marrowgar, we were suddenly taken back at just how much simpler Deathwhisper is. Essentially, the big change is during the last phase. The only change to the first phase seems to be a bigger mana pool and she will CC a random person, like on 25-man normal mode. It might have been just me, but also seemed that there were also a lot more martyrs among the adds. In several cases, we had easily three risen martyrs to deal with and dps really need to watch for them.

The second phase, unlike normal mode is tanked by the stairs, at the entrance because Deathwhisper continues to periodically summon one add. She will also summon one vile spirit, which must be avoided at all cost because it explodes with an 20 yard AoE and hits really hard. It always goes for a specific person, so that person should kite it around for a few seconds.

For tanks, Deathwhisper is more of a challenge because she is immune to taunts. We sort of went heads first into it and had no defining tactics for it. Because our stacks grew so high, the person tanking the boss, would also have to tank the add and once the stacks fell off, the second tank had to get tricks in order to catch up quickly. We got her down, but I am thinking there must be an easier way to control the stacks and get a much more cleaner kill.

The Gunship Battle

Out of all the encounters, this one really is a joke. There is a little bit more damage from missiles and axes, but in general, you will hardly notice that it is on heroic mode. Like always we sent two hardcore melee dps over to the other ship, along with a tank and the mage, even with a bigger health pool, went down like a rock. The only hiccup we had was apparently an axe thrower, who for some strange, unforeseeable reason, enraged and started hitting really hard, causing our resto shaman to die total of three times, giving us a whole lot of hilarity once we finally docked.

Deathbringer Saurfang

We actually did not get many good tries on this boss because we were running out of time at this point, causing us to miss the kill but I am fairly confident we unlocked the necessary mechanic to get him down as soon as we get our next attempts. The trick with Saurfang is controlling the adds. There is a lot more damage during the encounter, but it is still doable with just two healers. Make sure you have one holy paladin and one raid healer; priest, druid, or shaman, all are good choices. The healers need to pay good attention to the marks of the fallen, for there will be more of them (thanks to Saurfang’s bigger health pool) and none of the targets are allowed to die, or the boss will heal 20%.

But with competent players, the real challenge of the fight lies with the beasts. When they spawn, they move wicked fast and basically one-shot any nontank. You need to device a strategy to keep them in control, which is why you need really good ranged dps to kill them out. Melee dps can help out, but only if they do not pull aggro on them and the beast is not rooted. A rooted beast hits anything within melee range, which is usually an eager melee dps.

Death knights are ideal for using chain of ice and I found the best tactic is to actually spam roots on one beast, while the second is slowed and zerged down by the combined ranged dps. Once the first one dies, they finish the second one off and the ideally, neither of the two beasts never get far from the boss to begin with.

All and all, we had a lot of fun doing these heroic modes and if you’re any like us, finding the normal modes boring, you should enjoy the heroics a lot more also. The changes aren’t truly severe, but there are more actual mechanics to overcome and the margin for poor performance has been almost completely removed. If you are focused, the encounters should not be overwhelming but wipe fest starts the minute you lose your concentration.

Good luck everyone.