Wednesday, April 21, 2010

38 speeches and we’ve only got started

So we’re facing The Lich King. The final jewel of this expansion, the last chapter in the book unfolded. I’ve listened to his minute long introductory speech 38 times by now (only counting the 25 man raids) and I expect to hear quite a few times more before I finally will make him shut up.

In TBC I think we had about 100 wipes before we finally killed Archimonde, and I wouldn’t be the slightest surprised if LK will turn out to be something in those lines.

A worthy opponent
In case you’re living in the illusion that all the normal modes in ICC are ridiculously easy, using the Gunship fight as your benchmark, I’ll tell you something: LK is playing in an entirely different division. Not that I mind - on the contrary; LK is the final of the final, a legendary boss in the Warcraft universe and as such he should doubtless be a worthy opponent for even the top-end guilds, not a loot piñata.

Apart from the whispering role playing, which is tedious to hear 38 times, not to say 100, the fight is just as varied, challenging and complicated as I expect it to be. Really well done, Blizzard!

The obstacle we’ve run into is the phase where you’re supposed to slow and kill val’kyrs that shamelessly kidnap your raid members, planning to drop them into the big void, while you also avoid an aoe-damage-thing called “defile”. This defile targets an individual but can wipe the entire raid if you make the slightest of error. The reaction time is one of the most unforgiving I’ve seen in WoW. Twitchy, to say the least. You need the reaction time of a teenager brought up on Nintendo and FPS games as well as a very good, lag free internet connection, or you’re screwed.

In theory you have two seconds to move away – not just a few steps, but getting a good distance between yourself and the raid, dropping the dreadful black pool at a good spot and not in the way of the flight path of the kidnappers. In reality the time is even less, since some of this time will get lost due to the communication back and forward between the client and the server.

The ICC buff doesn’t make any huge difference to this. Surely, we will be able to kill the val’kyrs quicker as our damage output increases, but it won’t help us against the defiles.

Incoming nerf
I will stick out my neck and make a prediction: I think Blizzard will nerf the defile mechanism in a not far distant future, probably by prolonging the casting time or the pace for it’s growing. If they don’t, this will turn out to be exactly the kind of brick-wall that they don’t want to see around anymore in the normal modes (heroic modes being an entirely different matter). They’d surely like more 25 man guilds to get LK down than the current 1,78 percent according to the charts at Guildprogress.

Will we be able to get LK down before the nerf hammer hits us? Maybe, maybe not. I think we have the capacity, but we’ve also got the same issues as many other guilds have these days, struggling with signups and slow recruitment. We’re definitely in a better situation than Matticus writes about today, but we’re all facing the challenges of keeping up morale, motivation and spirit towards the end of an expansion.

Hardmode reward
Do you know what’s funny? I haven’t thought that much about what loot LK may drop. That doesn’t matter. What matters so much more is the fact that he’s the guardian that keeps us from starting out hardmode versions of the lower wing bosses. The reward to get access to those is way more tempting and motivating than anything else.

A bunch of spiced-up, challenging encounters are waiting for us on the other side of the LK. We just have to figure out how to manage those defiles. It probably means that we’ll have to listen to his yada-yada another 60 times (do you realize that we’re spending ONE hour of game time on it?).

But we’ll get there. We’re not sissies. We’re Adrenaline.


Dun said...

15% buff incoming next month... should be enough to down him. no need for a nerf.

AnToXa said...

I think Guildprogress is... khm... bad.
and gives us the following figure
The Lich King (25): 3486 (6.73%)

pewpewlazerz said...

The Valkyr are going to jump on any random member of your raid and move immediately from that raid member to the closest edge in order to drop them off. If they jump on one of your guys who's separated from the rest of the raid or close to the edge already, that guy is pretty much screwed. Because of how they move, it can be particularly dangerous to get Valkyr right after or before a Defile is due.


What we do is to have two "RUN AWAY!" spots designated. One is the teleporter you arrive in, the other is Tirion. The raid always stands behind the Lich King who is tanked near one of these two spots. Whoever gets the Defile runs TO the nearest spot. EVERYONE else runs AWAY. The benefits are two-fold.

1. It's more forgiving of lag and slow reactions, since you're not just relying on the person with the Defile to get away, everyone else is getting away from them, too.

2. The whole raid is sticking together, so when the Valkyr swoop down you're all grouped up ready to apply your snares/stuns/dps on them.

Also, top tip for mages - Valkyr HATE Cone of Cold.

Hope this is useful, shorty. :)

Dwism said...

pewpew speaketh the truth. Also I heard a rumour that mages have a spell called "blink"? :p

Good luck on him, and I agree, ICC in general is a fantastic instance, so much fun, so many cool bosses. And Sindragosa is the best dragonfight out there. No doubt in my mind!

Gevlon said...

I'm not 100% sure, but I think Slow is usable on Valkyrs. Another possibility for a little gnome to save the day!

Anonymous said...

Gratz, again on your progression.
Having not yet reached the point you have in your progression (but anticipating my arrival in the near future) and at the risk of highjacking this into a raid strategy discussion, is it fair to say that a hunter's disengage is effective for the defile mechanic? Understanding, of course, that this ability is more of a self-preservation technique than a raid-wide strategy. Further, are the Val'kyr immune to concussive shot and/or wyvern sting?


Daniel said...

Slow, chains of ice, desecrated ground and frost trap + insanely long paladin stuns get the job done. On normal mode the critical phase is the second one. the third is fast burnout.
Managing defiles is tricky but not that hard (unless you have lag spike and is dropped in the middle of raid - nice wipe then).

And quick tip - your officers must announce that there will be no more farm nights till he is down - the lock will be extended indefinitely. This helped us in bringing him down in 3 serious raid evenings.

Larísa said...

@Dun: hm... as I said I'm not so sure that an increased buff will fix it. The defiles will kill you regardless of the buff, if not dropped exactly in the right positions.

@AnToXa: Honestly I don't know which site is most accurate. I'm not sure all guilds that ever raid are registred there. Pugs definitely aren't. But I'm pretty certain that the number of players who have killed LK 25 still is smallish.

: sounds interesting. We'll see what the officers will come up with for next raid. We used a bunching-up-strat and run to certain spots last time that didn't quite work as well as we'd hoped.

@Dwism: blink is fine. Not entirely sure about how the server will register it though. Your position. There have been some issues about it in the past I know.

@Gevlon: slowing went pretty well last raid actually, among other things thanks to a ton of palas. Not sure about if it's worth for me to spec into slow. We'll see what happens. I think the defiles were our biggest problem.

: thanks! I had my first Sindragosa kill the other night, the second for the guild, and that felt sweet! About hunters in the LK encounter I have no idea tbh. I don't normally discuss raid strategies at PPI, this just slipped into this post as an exception.

@Daniel: we've extended raid id:s before and I wouldn't be surprised if we do it again, provided that we get a full raid team. When we've reset it has mostly been due to only having 23-24 signups and a weird setup.

Imperial said...

Wait until you get to him on HM... That encounter makes me want to cry, as a hunter on tranq shot duty if I'm off my game for even a split second, add tank dies. The Defile mechanic lining up with Valkyrie pickup is the real killer on normal mode though. Just takes a bit of practice and a solid 10 minutes of focus from everyone. Extremely rewarding kill though when he finely goes down.

zetter said...

Defile is the best dont stand in the stuff mechanic ever!
Even on 10 man this willl basically wipe out any unco-ordinated group and you have a lot more room to play with on 10 man.

I have spent many happy moment lying dead on the top of a black oil slick that covers the entire platform. I think even the buff wont affect this as if it goes wrong its a one shot raid kill and we know how hard it is for people to avoid stuff on the ground.


Firespirit said...

My guild has surprised me over and over. We are a guild of casuals that built our raid group from the ground up. Before now, we have never been able to do any raiding (back in bc we didnt even have enough to do heroics).

Now we are playing (and just playing at this point) with hardmodes in ulduar (being 1% off from FL +4), and have 8/12 bosses in icc on farm. We are currently are working on putricide, and we are so close to downing him we can smell it. And it drives us even harder.

I have no doubt we will get to lich king. I cant wait for my 38 speeches.

Larísa said...

: I wonder if we'll ever get to im in HM. To be honest I'd be a bit surprised. But we're SO going to kill him in normal. That's a promise!

@Zetter: what I've seen from the 10-mans defile isn't as bad there. It's the 25 man size that makes it really difficult to manage. But yeah, the looks of it is kind of impressive. A good thing is that it goes very quickly to wipe your raid if that's what you need to do anyway.

: what a nice story! good to hear that someone is still doing hardmodes in Ulduar! It's about the experience, not about the loot!

Iapetes said...

I doubt they'll nerf arthas. I remember thinking it seemed pretty unforgiving at first too, but we changed strats and it worked out pretty well. What you want to do is basically spread out for Defiles before they go out, and run back in when it goes out.

The timing can be tricky when Valkyr are going out at about the same time as a defile, but its much easier than trying to have people move out of the raid when they are targeted for defile.

William said...

Actually, the LK fight is much less twitchy than you'd think if you used the proper strategy. Assuming everyone has boss timers (e.g. DBM, Deus Vox, Big Wigs, etc), it should be clear when defile or the valkyrs are coming.

So basically, there are two scenarios:
If the next LK cast is defile, we have all raid members spread out a few seconds before the cast.

However, if the next cast is valkyrs we have the whole raid stack together on one person (marked w/star), so the 3 valkyrs are clumped down and can be easily AOE/stunned/slowed/cleaved and killed.

Basically it's very important for people to watch the timers or have the RL watch them and call out for the raid to stack up or spread out depending on the situation. It's all about coordination.

Once you have this down, the rest of the fight is easy.