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.
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.
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.
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.