Archive for May 2008

Instance Benchmarks – Karazhan in single night

May 23, 2008

Signups for raids this week have been light. For the weeknight run I had just 10 people available for Karazhan. Thankfully, with the GL tossing heals on his alt-alt-healadin we were able to fill to required Karazhan roles. Running with just 2 healers and a whole lot of strong dps, I presuming it would be a quick clear to Curator.

Starting at 7:15, we were on to the post-Opera clear by 8:30. Curator was down around 9:00 – in a single evocation! That left only 4 bosses (+chess up), so we decided to go ahead and see how far we could get by our normal stop time. At 10:00 we were on our way to Chess, and 20 minutes later had cleared the place entirely.

Our setup was stacked with several of the guild’s top-dps, and we set guild speed records on most bosses. The bigger issue was that I was able to chain pull the trash, with the healers never running low on mana. We even took a few 5 minutes breaks through the run – I actually think we could get a serious “speed run” down to close to 2:30 if we really tried.

Near the end of the run, I was struck by how big a change this was. Sure, there were the early nights where we’d spend three hours to not get past Moroes, but much more recently we’d had ~3 hour runs which only seen us go Attumen -> Curator.

I think the difference is partly that we somewhat outgear the zone (although, we did find homes for about half the drops), but more the pace of play. I didn’t have to explain anything on the bosses. I started to give out assignments on the final trash pull, and was done by the time everyone had buffed up. Never pausing for more than the few seconds it takes to mark the pulls helped as well.

That speed carried over everyone’s play as well. Without ever saying “this is a speed run”, everyone was focused. We didn’t have the “quick afk” or “just a sec” pauses – the constant flow of mobs kept everyone “in the moment”, and that made a huge difference. The run was also a lot of fun.

Months ago, I heard of guilds running Karazhan in about 3 hours, and I couldn’t imagine how they did it. We were still spending 5 or 6 hours a week on runs, and I felt like I was pushing the raid pretty hard. Now, even though we won’t do this type of run every week, I’m thinking that our ‘normal’ (a few Vets, and few Newbies) runs could be sped up quite a bit – something that I’m certainly looking forward to.

Karazhan: Curator

May 20, 2008

This is another in a series of posts covering a full Karazhan clear – mostly from a Main Tank’s Point of View.

With the Opera clear, you now have access to the back door. I suggest actually doing the clear up to the back door, but it can be skipped if you’d rather just hoof it out to the back door.

Standing at the entrance from the Opera Balcony to the Broken Stair, you can see the back door just ahead on the left. You can also see a couple of ghosts. There are actually two ghost variants that make up the majority of the Broken Stair trash, but I treat them both the same. They have a large aggro-radius, can cast a ‘cone of frost’ directed at the tank, and they hit pretty hard. I simply pull them and turn them away from the group.

The first is at the entrance to the Broken Stair, and there is another on the left once you move into the room. There is one ahead, just past the backdoor, and another at the base of the ramp in the next room. These are all single pulls, and shouldn’t cause any real problems.

In the room with the 4th of these mobs you should be a doorway out to a terrace. That is where you summon Nightbane, if you have the required Urn. I consider him one of the last bosses, so I’ll cover him in a later post.

On to Curator. Climb the ramp, and fight another ghost at the top. There is another just outside, and then as you follow the ramps there is another at the base of the stairs.

You are now at the base of the actual ‘broken stairs’. Make sure your tank goes up first, as the aggro range on these mobs can be tricky, and they often pull early. There are two more ghost pulls on the way up the stairs, and then you finally get something different.

Here you head back ‘inside’ through a small hallway, and into a room with two large Arcane Watchmen. They each need to be tanked, and they each hit relatively hard. Adding to the fun, they can but a put an ‘Overload’ debuff on random targets. This causes the player to do a damaging Arcane Explosion type effect – the damage from this adds up quickly, so make sure that anyone ‘exploding’ runs away from the group.

You can now move up a circular room with large statue, and look -carefully- into the Curator’s room. You will see several groups of mobs, all of which must be dealt with before engaging the Curator.

The packs are made up of several Syphoners and a single Arcane Anomaly. The Syphoners have an annoying mana drain ability, and can put out quite a lot of damage if they all focus on one player. The Anomaly has low health, but puts up a mana-shield when pulled. If he doesn’t die quickly enough he will teleport to a random player and generally make a nuisance of himself.

Each of these pulls should be brought into the circular room, where you have two options. A single tank can hold all the mobs, while you burn down the Anomaly first, and then kill the Syphoners – or – you can have a seperate tank for each. A dedicated Syphoner tank can devote more energy to interupting the mana-drains that they will cast, leaving the Anomally tank to chase around his mob should it teleport. These pulls are more annoying than dangerous, so just experiment to see what works best for your group.

There are six of these packs, and the second three require the tank to be careful pulling. The Curator paths through his room, and then around a corner and into the next hallway. The pulling of the last few packs must be timed so that the Curator is not engaged. To make this more fun, the Curator has a roughly 30-yard aggro radius. Good times.

Once all the packs are finally cleared, move everyone in to the Curators room, and up against the back wall.

The Curator is a three-phase fight:

– Flare Phase: Every 10 seconds spawns an Arcane Flare. Your DPS focus is to simply kill these as quick as possible. They start with a large amount of aggro on a random person, so they cannot be effectively tanked. They have a chain-arcane attack that hits up the three nearby targets. If you have just a single melee dps, then there is benefit to spreading the raid out to avoid these attacks hitting too many people, but we normally don’t pay too much attention to this. In fact, there is benefit to stacking all the ranged, so that the Flairs always move to the same place – making it easier on Melee DPS. The macro ‘/tar astral’ should be used by all dps to target the adds as quickly as possible.

– Evocation Phase: As the 10th Flare spawns, the Curator starts Evocating for 20 seconds. In this phase he does nothing, and takes 300% damage. he then goes back to the Flare Phase. With lower-dps, have everyone burn on the 10th Flair, and then move to the Curator. As you gear up, you can simple assign one or two people to take out the final flare, while the rest of the raid immediately takes advantage of the 300% damage. You must get the 10th Flare down though – if you allow it to stay up, it can easily wipe you.

– Enrage Phase: At 15% he stops spawning Flares, and increases his damage output. Once you get here, just kill the last flare, and burn him down. The increase is not so much that it should cause serious problems.

Aside from the Phase changes, the Curator beats on the tank, and fires “Hateful Bolts” into the raid. The Hateful Bolts are 4-5k Arcane damage that target a player who is high on the threat list. The actual targeting seems to be a combination of threat and current health, so it does bounce around some. Healers just have to watch out for the damage coming from this, and keep on top of it.

Arcane Resist: We don’t use any. The amount of damage resisted has never been worth to amount of DPS lost to me.

This fight puts out a lot of damage across the raid, so it will stress the healers. In all likelihood going OOM will be what wipes you while learning this fight – so use Mana pots early and often.

The other source of wipes is not killing the flares quickly enough. If they aren’t killed fast, and you get more than one spawned, then you will start to loose people – it is just too much damage for the healers to keep up.

If you have enough DPS, you can have some players stop focusing on the Flares and start 100% into the Curator, but only if your remaining dps can take out the Flares quickly.

The fewer Flare/Evocations cycles you go through, the easier this fight gets. There is a 10-minute enrage timer on this fight, but I’ve never seen it. I can’t imagine that a raid could last that long – the longest I’ve seen this fight done successfully took 8’28”. We actually had several 8+ minute wins, and for a few of those we took 4 healers – not optimal, but it was the method we used to get our first kill. Going with that few dps, you know the fight will last a long time, but you ensure that you don’t loose anyone along the way. I wouldn’t suggest it though, except as a last resort.

More recently, we’re doing the fight as quickly as 2’52”. Having two or three dps on the Curator full time, and pushing him to Enrage before the end of the 2nd Evocate, makes the fight much much easier.

This fight serves as the gateway to the rest of Karazhan, from here you can go to any other boss you choose. The Curator also provides your first Tier 4 token – generally a nice upgrade for almost everyone.

First Trip in to SSC

May 16, 2008

Having now downed both Mag and Gruul, many folks have been asking which zone is next. I want to focus on farming the T4 zones some, but am also excited about even more new content – so I put a SSC Trash run on the calendar for this past weekend.

The plan, as I described it, was to go in and get beat down by the trash. Shockingly, people signed up for this.

In reality, my goal was to learn the trash pulls to Hydross, to sneak past him, and to then clear up to the Lurker. I expected a few rough patches, but hoped in end the evening with a peak at the Lurker fight.

From the start, the trash was not as bad as I had expected. We had a few mistakes, but were generally able to recover well. When we got to Hydross I explained a bit about that fight, and that we would soon be crafting the required Resist sets for our tanks. Sneaking around his adds didn’t go terribly well, and I’m not sure why. Thankfully the adds don’t pull Hydross himself, and they die amazingly easily.

The clear around the Lurker’s platforms was more of the same. After the first few pulls we had found a strategy that seemed to work well for us, and by the last few it was going fairly quickly.

Everyone had heard a lot about how easy the Lurker is, so I devoted a fair amount of energy to building him up. He IS the first Tier 5 boss we have faced. He IS much harder than either Gruul or Mag. The fight DOES require EVERYONE to be on their toes.

For learning attempts – that no one had prepared for – things went well. I simply wanted everyone to see each phase of the fight, so that we would be ready going in next time, and we did accomplish that.

Tanking the Lurker himself is pretty simple. He doesn’t hit that hard, and the ranged doesn’t even have to watch Omen. The adds seem more than doable – a few tweaks there and we should be fine. The spout managed to take folks out every time, but I think that seeing the fight a few more times will be enough for everyone to get the timing down.

All in all, I feel good about our chances against the Lurker. Our raid schedule doesn’t give us much time in the 25-mans, but I think we are setup well to make some progress.

Karazhan: The Opera Event, Big Bad Wolf

May 13, 2008

This is another in a series of posts covering a full Karazhan clear – mostly from a Main Tank’s Point of View. This post is continuation of the Opera mini-series.

So, you are standing on the Opera stage. Barnes has just told you that your eyes may deceive you. The curtain raises, and there is an a single old woman standing the middle of the stage. And nothing happens.

Congrats, you have the Big Bad Wolf. Unlike the other Opera events, you get the start this one. The BBW has basically no class requirements and very few tricks. When you are ready, you simply have someone talk to Grandma to get things going. I suggest a dramatic reading of the chat, presuming you are using Voice Chat.

The raid will start in the front corner of the stage, by the exit door. The Wolf will be tanked in the back corner on that side.

Who starts the fight? If you have a hunter, then I would suggest one of the other dps have the chat with Grandma – allowing the hunter to immediately Misdirect him to the tank. Otherwise, the tank starts it up, and pulls the Wolf back to the corner.

Once the tank and Wolf are in the corner, just wait. All dps should just stand in their corner of the stage and watch. Within a few seconds the real action of the fight begins. Someone will get turned into ‘Little Red’ – a cute little gnome with a Rad Cape. While in this form, you have no armor and 100% of the Wolf’s attention. Thankfully, you also have increased run speed. Take off across the front of the stage, and run a lap around entire perimeter. After about a lap and a quarter, you will change back to normal, and the Wolf will go back to the tank.

A few tips about running: Run in straight lines, making the sharpest turns you can. If you round the corners off, you let him close the distance to you. Warriors can help out by Intervening – taking a hit that might kill, and Priests can toss a shield on the runner. Spamming quick heals helps as well, since two hits will take most people down.

Hunters can avoid the fun by Feigning Death – and staying Feigned while the debuff is up.

While the Wolf is chasing someone down, he appears to ignore threat – so everyone should be pounding on him. After the first run is complete, everyone should get back to the starting corners, and keep up the DPS. He has an AoE fear that he will use from time to time – the tank should avoid as many as possible, but it really isn’t that big of a deal.

This event comes down to how many people survive their run around the stage. If you loose several people in a row to start, then the fight can be very hard. If you get lucky the first couple of times, then it can go very easy. If he focuses on you healers or tanks, then at least it is a short run back.

Most problems in the fight come from people not surviving their trips around the room, or people taking aggro form the tank. Having long ‘no-threat’ periods, along with fears slowing down threat generation, can make it tricky to build threat quickly.

If things go well, this is the easiest of the Opera events. If you get unlucky – it can be the worst. It is by far the most random of the three, as such, even an undergeared group can eventually get this fight down – while an overgeared group can still have problems. I’ve seen this fight done in as little as 90 seconds, and I’ve seen us struggle through a 5’05” kill. Ending it quickly is certainly more fun.

Karazhan: The Opera Event, Wizard of Oz

May 9, 2008

This is another in a series of posts covering a full Karazhan clear – mostly from a Main Tank’s Point of View. This post is continuation of the Opera mini-series.

So, you’ve cleared the Opera trash up to Barnes and are ready to get things started on stage. Once you get the event started and head out on stage, the announcement will let you know which event you have that week. If you hear “A lost girl..”, then you know you have the Wizard of Oz event.

The Wizard of Oz is one of the events that starts very quickly after the curtain is raised, so you should have an idea ahead of time about what the assignments will be. When the curtain comes up, you will see 4 mobs Dorothee, Tinhead, Roar and Strawman. Dorothee’s dog Tito will be summoned once the fight begins, and the final Boss, the Crone, comes once the rest are down.

Kill order and abilities:

Dorothee – The first dps target. Has no agro table, so she simply stands still casting waterbolts at random. Kill her first, and quickly, to take some pressure off your healers.

Tito – Before she goes down, Dorothee will summon Tito. He needs to tanked, and is generally taken by the off-tank. Kill him second.

Roar – Roar can be tanked, and does not put out too much damage (on plate), but he has a nasty AoE fear which makes that difficult. He is, however, susceptible to almost all fears and a Hunter’s ‘Scare Beast’. The best way to deal with him is to assign the off-tank to try to get some aggro on him (along with Tito, once he spawns) and to then fear him around. A warlock can keep him running the entire fight, but a pair of hunters can also, or even several priests/warriors can generally do a good job of this. Once Tito goes down, Roar is next in the kill order.

Strawman – Strawman has a weakness for fire. Any fire damage has a high chance to stun him for several seconds. A mage, warlock or (with luck) a Shammy, can keep him busy for the entire fight – and is it not uncommon for them to be able to solo him down before the rest of the raid is ready to work on him. Don’t have anyone with spammable fire damage? or is your caster down? He can be tanked, but he does hit reasonably hard. Quick fire spells (and/or totems) are the way to go here.

Tinhead – This is the Main Tank’s target. He starts the fight moving full speed, but starts slowing down as the fight goes on. Before long, the tank will simply be able to kite him around the back of the stage only taking occasional hits as he turns him around. This is the last mob to be taken out this phase, by the time the raid is ready for him the tank will have enough of a lead on threat that he can simply keep kiting him while the DPS burns him down.

Once those five are down, the crone will spawn in the middle of the stage. She is a very simple tank and spank, with only Chain Lightening as a notable ability. The complication is that along with her, a cyclone spawns randomly on stage. It meanders slowly around, and throws anyone it catches up in the air. This removes you (at least partially) from the fight for few seconds, and then inflicts a fair amount of damage as you slam back into the stage. Avoid the cyclone, hit the boss, heal the tank, get some loot.

This is a medium length fight. Four to five minutes when first starting, we’ve seen it go as long as 8’11” and as quickly as 3”10″. Presuming that you have the classes needed to pickup all of the mobs, this fight is pretty easy, and a lot of fun. Consistently a favorite in my raids

Champion of the Naa’ru

May 6, 2008

Saturday night I turned my guild to Magtheradon’s Lair, with plans to visit Gruul later in the evening -depending on how things went.

With the nerfs in patches 2.3 and 2.4 many have said that Mag is far to easy now, there is even a charming video floating around about how simply zoning in is now the biggest challenge. I know that many in our guild had heard this, and I have no doubt that the fight is far easier than it once was, but it is still not simple. I worked to prepare everyone for a learning night – and planned to visit Gruul as an escape if we got stuck and weren’t making progress.

I’ll probably write up a full strategy after we take him again, but in short, there are three major obsticles that a raid must manage:

– The Summoners/Abyssals: There are 5 of them. They can each summon an Abyssal, fire off a shadow bolt volley, and cast a heal. You have 2 minutes to just work on them before Mag wakes up. The main challenge here is controlling the Abyssals – our single warlock was busy, and our hunters helped out by trapping. Chaotic, but on the first attempt we had all five down – though now without some casualties. By the 3rd attempt we weren’t loosing anyone on this phase, and the DPS was already working on the 5th Summoner when I went to pick up Mag.

– Blast Nova & The cubes: Starting three minutes in, and every minute after that, Mag starts casting Blast Nova. This must be interrupted by using the 5 cubes spread around the room. Click too early, and you can’t click again. Click too late, and the spell goes off. The channeling must be held long enough to cancel the Blast Nova, but as it does damage to the ‘clicker’ – you can’t hold this too long without dying. Earthquakes complicate things. This took another 2 or 3 attempts to get down.

– The cave-in: At 30% health, Mag drops the ceiling on you. ~7k damage to everyone. Our first time getting to this we was just before a Blast Nova, and we lost several ‘clickers’. On the 7th, and final, try of the night we got him down to 32% and then stopped dps and simply waited. Once the next ‘clicking; was done, we burnt him down to below 30%, giving our healers plenty of time to recover. Easy from the point on.

It only took a few attempts to work out solutions for each of these hurdles, and by the end of the night the fight did feel pretty easy. By the 6th attempt – when the cave-in got us – I knew we would have him soon. Within a week or two I expect that we will be regularly one-shotting him. Yes, he is pretty easy now – once you learn the fight. However, I wouldn’t expect a new group to walk in and 1-shot him, there are simply too many elements of the fight to learn.

Following Mag, we went over to Gruul’s Lair, where we 1-shot HKM, and after a mulligan where a mage pulled before anyone was ready, took out Gruul on our first real attempt. Presuming that we can repeat this success next weekend, I think we will start looking at our first T5 boss.

Also, the Magtheridon kill completed the last quest I needed for my “Champion of the Naa’ru” title! Woohoo!

Karazhan: The Opera Event, Romulo and Julianne

May 5, 2008

This is another in a series of posts covering a full Karazhan clear – mostly from a Main Tank’s Point of View. This post is continuation of the Opera mini-series.

So, you’ve cleared the Opera trash up to Barnes and are ready to get things started on stage. Once you get the event started and head out on stage, the announcement will let you know which event you have that week. If you hear “A tale of forbidden love..”, then you know you have the Romulo and Julianne event.

Like the Oz event, this fight starts quickly after the curtain is raised. Unlike Oz, the raid setup requirements are minimal.

At the start, Julianne spawns alone. It is best to pull her to one side of the stage, and tank her there. Have your rogues, warriors and shammies focus on interrupting her healing spell – “Eternal Affection”. Dispellers should make sure to remove the buff “Devotion” from her. These two details managed, and she goes quickly.

Next Romulo spawns in the middle of the stage. Be ready, and try to grab him as quickly as possible, or he will take off after a healer and burn them down quickly. Drag him to the other side of the stage, and tank him there. His damage output is higher than Julianne’s, but he doesn’t have self-heal. Simply remove his buff when it pops up, and disarm if your tank is a warrior.

Once Romulo drops, the real fight begins. Both Rolumo and Julianne will self-rez after a few seconds, so you need a tank on both. You need interrupts on Julianne, so if your main tank is the only interrupt option you have – he will tank Julianne. Otherwise, I prefer to put the main tank on the harder hitting Rolumo.

Both must die within 10 seconds of each other, or they will be resurrected – so you need to split you dps. I prefer to have casters on Rolumo, and melee on Julianne. As they each get lower in health, you will likely find it necessary to have people switch targets to keep their health close. Once the first boss hits 40% I check where the other is, and move people around accordingly. The only real problem comes up if you have trouble with Julianne getting too many heals off – in which case you may end up having all DPS burn down Julianne, and the switch back to the near-death Rolumo to finish the fight.

This is a relatively simply fight – that is only a real test if you interrupters aren’t on their game, or if your Romulo tank is under geared. Normally this fight is over in 4 to 5 minutes. We’ve done it as quickly as 3’32” – and on a horrible evening with almost no interrupts, we dragged it out to 10’17”.