Tier 11 Retrospective

With Firelands on the horizon, Tier 11 raiding is coming to an end and I’ve been thinking about how this tier measures up.

Difficulty

Tier 11 served as a huge wake-up call after Tier 10. I played with a number of people in ICC who I thought were fairly competent raiders. Then we stepped into BWD. With no 30% buff to back people up, all of a sudden they didn’t seem so competent anymore. Spending 6+ months being completely overpowered for the content we were doing certainly made raiding in Tier 11 a challenge to start with. Everyone had to remember how to play again.

I really liked the step-up in difficulty. Normal modes were doable, but most had at least one or two tricky mechanics to overcome. Nefarian and Al’Akir were much more challenging (as end-bosses, they should be) though I found Cho’gall to be a bit of a disappointment.

I’ve only done half the available hard-modes, but overall, I’m very pleased with the difficulty there. Halfus makes a good stepping-stone into the world of heroics and I feel like there really is a progression – some bosses take only a night or two to master while some take many, many attempts and lots of trial and error.

Atmosphere and Aesthetics

Blackwing Descent was nothing we hadn’t seen before. It looks and feels very much like the rest of the Blackrock Mountain instances and raids. The lava pit where you fight Nefarian is the most interesting part of the instance as far as looks go. I did enjoy Nef’s introductions to the boss fights, it helps to tie everything together from a story perspective.

I really disliked Bastion of Twilight. There wasn’t anything interesting about how it looked, it was just a bunch of generic rooms and corridors and no real scripted events or story infused into the place.

Throne of the Four Winds was gorgeous. It’s certainly the best raid in terms of looks. It was a very nice change to have a raid in the great outdoors with pretty, bright colours and interesting architecture.

Tier 11 was pretty weak in this category. Though TotFW was very pretty, the raids overall weren’t that impressive in terms of atmosphere. Compared to the wonderfully detailed, varying and lore-infused raids like Karazhan, Ulduar, Black Temple and Mount Hyjal, Tier 11 fell flat.

Staying Power

I love that we had 3 distinct raids to work in, it really helped to prevent boredom.

I think the length of Tier 11 was good. I began raiding in January, meaning I spent ~6 months raiding this content. Though there has been the occasional time where I wished for new content already, it has managed to keep my interest. Honestly, I wouldn’t mind it if Firelands were pushed back a bit and I got to spend a few more weeks with this content. I think there are one or two more hard modes that are doable for both my guilds.

The Bosses

This is the most important part. How were the bosses? Were the mechanics interesting? Were they fun and challenging to heal?

Bastion of Twilight

I feel like Bastion of Twilight as a whole was weak. I can’t put my finger on the problem exactly, but whenever BoT is on the raid schedule I don’t feel nearly as excited as I do about spending a night in BWD. Perhaps it’s the trash. I think I’ve been killed by the first trash packs and the awful elementals before Ascendant Council more than I’ve been killed by any boss in there. Perhaps it’s the atmosphere – gloomy, with very few interesting things to look at.  Maybe it’s the bosses – there are only 4 of them and none of them stick out as particularly exciting or fun to heal. Or maybe it’s the uneven difficutly range of the hard modes. Most guilds kill Halfus as their first hard mode, then ignore the other BoT hard modes completely while they master 4 or 5 others in BWD and possibly Throne. Coming back to kill normal V&T, AC and Cho’gall always seemed like a let-down compared to the rest of the boss fights available.

Throne of the Four Winds

This raid instance is quite polarizing. Some people love it while others never want to step foot in it again. I enjoy the place for the most part. Conclave of Wind and Al’akir have new, interesting mechanics and can be quite challenging. I do have a few complaints though.

Conclave of Wind

I found this fight unique and a lot of fun, especially on heroic. There are a lot of mechanics to master, a lot of bad things to avoid (damn you Wind Blast) and a lot of coordination needed between platforms. Heal, heal, run away, heal,  fly through the air, heal, heal, move, heal, heal, jump. This fight really keeps you on your toes. It does have its downsides though. Because of how far apart everyone was, I often felt helpless. People would die on other platforms and I knew I couldn’t do anything to stop it – it was quite frustrating. However, when you finally master the fight it feels pretty fucking amazing.

Al’Akir

Though this fight is interesting and I learned it can be fun (after many, many, many wipes) I don’t think this encounter was successful. The first phase is too RNG dependent. Too many bad things converge at once and you’re pretty much out of luck. Phase 3 is frustrating. There are some players who just aren’t good at navigating through 3 dimensions. I even found it difficult to judge my position correctly on this fight, which I found surprising since I thought I had mastered that back in my Dreamwalker portal days. I know very few people who look forward to repeat kills on Al’Akir once they’ve gotten the one they need for their title.

Blackwing Descent

I think BWD was the high point of Tier 11 raiding. Each boss fight tested something different: healing, tanking, dps, awareness, damage avoidance, coordination.

Chimaeron

I love healer checks, so I loved this fight. More than any other boss fight, Chimaeron made me change the way I healed. I couldn’t rely on Rejuv and WG to heal Caustic Slime damage, I had to use direct heals, and I had to use them fast. I really appreciated that. Healers develop certain patterns for healing and Chimaeron made you reconsider those to adapt to the fight. Variety is always a good thing.

Atramedes

I really like the sound mechanic in this fight. It enforces that everyone is in charge of their own survival. Screw up and everyone sees you get pelted by massive fireballs that can’t be healed through. If that isn’t a deterrent to standing in bad things, I don’t know what is.

Nefarian

Nefarian is everything an end of dungeon boss should be. It tests healers, tanks and dps. It tests coordination, kiting ability, interrupts, running out of fire, and each raider’s ability to jump out of lava and onto a pillar (which can be the hardest part of all). It took my 25-man guild ~65 attempts to get our first Nef kill, and that seems to be a fairly common number. The fight required a lot of practice and hard work and made for a very rewarding kill.

Overall

Overall, I think Tier 11 was strong. Through Bastion of Twilight fell short for me, Throne was interesting and gorgeous and Blackwing Descent was a very strong raid that kept my attention for a full 6 months. It wasn’t the best tier – it doesn’t compare to the awesomeness that was Tier 6 (Black Temple & Mount Hyjal), but I think it’s been more enjoyable than any tier in Wrath (Ulduar-lovers will likely argue with me on that).

What do you think? Does Tier 11 still amuse you after 6 months? Any bosses you love or hate?

11 responses to “Tier 11 Retrospective

  1. I must disagree with Chimaeron. As a dps, Chim is a horrible fight. Nothing I do improves our chances of success. Just mindless dps until Feud, run in, wait, run out, rinse, repeat. At least Valithria forced us to think quickly when new adds appeared.

    Agree on Nef. Good end boss. Not quite as epic as LK or Yogg, but very solid in his own right. Al’Akir can diaf. Cho’gall was undertuned compared to Nef and AA.

    And ya, ugh, Ascendant Council trash. I’m the designated puller for that room. I’ve wiped us several times because some [expletive deleted] mob changed direction as my arrow was in the air.

    • I’m sure Chimaeron is as dull as watching paint dry for a dps. pew pew, run in, run out, pew pew and possibly spend some time on the floor if your healer isn’t fast enough 😛 As a healer though, I think it’s great.

      I wish they had reduced the number of elementals before 4.2. I want to go AFK every time I get to that room.

    • As a DPS, your role is very important. I know this as we often wipe due to DPS not doing it correctly (heroic mode anyway). The last phase is 100% DPS popping their survival cooldowns correctly and unleashing maximum DPS – healers can’t do shit. It’s also important to time DPS for that phase transition – if DPS don’t hold back around 25%, then phase gets pushed while everyone’s on very little HP and we all die. We’ve had to teach our DPS when to just 100% stop DPS and DOTs and be patient.

  2. I can’t put my finger on the reason for it, but I’m with you on liking BWD better than BoT – even if I don’t really know why. The trash before Ascendant Council definitely is a big negative point for BoT though. It’s not even so difficult – just horribly boring cause there’s so many of them.

    I did enjoy the Nefarian fight, though I’m one of those people who always seem to manage to get her robe caught on the edge of the platform when trying to jump out of the lava. (I’m ashamed to admit it, but it’s true.)

    Atramedes had some really interesting mechanics, but I never liked the fight simply because I had to do the gongs and my little dpsers’ heart can’t take going away from the fight and losing all that dps 😛

    • For me the worst part of Atramedes was that the sound meter was placed directly under my VuhDo frame. That was annoying.

  3. I’m a little shocked that there’s no BoT love here! Ascendant Council is, IMO, one of the best encounters in this tier simply because of the multi-tasking it involves (especially in hard mode). I really appreciate fights that, as a healer, force me to watch the action and reward my teammates for focusing on timing and survival. And Sinestra features such deliciously simple design, emphasizing management and judgement. And Al’Akir HM … with all that personal accountability … oh my.

    I suppose it goes without saying that I really did like healing in this tier. The difference between current content and ICC was night and day, in all the right ways. I only hope that a lot of the great things about this tier carry through into Firelands and beyond.

    • I’ve only killed 1 heroic boss in BoT (fingers crossed for getting V&T before the patch). Halfus is fun for the first minute or so. V&T heroic seems pretty similar to normal to me. I haven’t been assigned to go into the Twilight Realm and I don’t notice a lot of difference outside of it, besides everything hitting harder. I’m not really a fan of normal Ascendant Council. I found it really easy to heal and when people died it was usually due to having Lightning Rod in the middle of the raid or missing a debuff which, as a druid, I couldn’t do much about. I also am still angry about everytime an air and ground buff spawned on top of each other and I got bounced around like a pingpong ball. Cho’gall was, sadly, pretty undertuned on 25.

      I really enjoyed healing in this tier as well. But, at my level of experience, BoT wasn’t as fun or challenging as BWD or Throne.

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  6. I think my most hated fight (disclaimer, I’ve yet to see either Nef or Al) has to be the Conclave. I mostly dps’d it, but oh god, the amount of wipes caused by timing issues because we’d switched out a dps, or someone had improved their dps. Don’t even get me started on the timer lying to us or people managing to get blown to Al’s platform in the middle of the fight.

    Healing-wise, I think the fight I dread is Chimeron. It reminds me of bubble-spamming in LK, boredom…boredom…PANIC (and curse disc’s lack of powerful group heals)…boredom…and repeat till dead. Much more fun if I’m tank-healing though.

    • Funny, I never found Chimaeron boring at all. On my druid or my disc priest. I thought it was one of the more fun fights.

      A lot of people dislike Conclave. When I’ve done it with my fiance (who plays a feral druid) he curses and swears through the whole thing.