Last night, Apotheosis killed Will of the Emperor on 25-man Heroic mode. It was, without a doubt, the most difficult fight we had encountered this tier. Hell, it was probably the most difficult fight we had ever encountered as a guild. I know it may just seem that way since it’s fresh in my memory, but I’m pretty sure it was tougher to execute than Heroic Spine or Blackhorn by the time we got to them, and nothing from T11 or 12 that we tackled (we didn’t really work on H. Ragnaros) sticks out as being this hard.
It took us more than 100 attempts over 7 raid nights to get this boss down. We changed strats often. Kill Rages 8 at a time, kill every pack, now back to 8. The strategy that finally worked for us was to kill packs of 4 or 8 during the first round then CC and kill all 12 at a time in between each add break period.
Heroic Will is a complex fight that requires a ton of organization. We need a CC order any time we’re controlling Rages. We need 4 tanks (2 on bosses and 2 on Strengths). We need slows assigned to Courages. Every dps needs a primary target (Rages? Courages? Strengths? Bosses?), then they need a secondary target when theirs isn’t up or is being CC’d. We need assigned Spark soakers. Hunters can soak every pack of Rage Sparks, the Strength tanks can soak their Sparks, a Rogue and Moonkin can soak the Courage Sparks – oh but wait, the Moonkin’s won’t be up for the middle one, he’ll need externals or a backup soaker. Then we need extra backups to Soak in case anything gets missed. The only part of this fight that did not require an inordinate amount of organization was the healing, for which I am grateful.
On top of the organization, execution needs to be pretty close to perfect. Lose focus for one second and stand too close to a Spark – you’re dead. Dance with the boss and mistime the swings – you’re dead. Stand next to a pack of Rages who are rooted – you’re dead. Pop your cooldown a second too late or early while soaking Sparks – you’re dead. Strength gets away from its tank and does a smash – a few people are likely dead. A second late on your Ring of Frost or Gorefiend’s Grasp on the Rages – they go everywhere and soon everyone is dead.
The thing about this fight I didn’t like was that it really required some degree of class stacking. When I asked people for tips when we were going into this fight, having a couple DKs for Gorefiend’s Grasp to control the Rages was always mentioned. Problem – we have one DK on our roster. I’m really not a fan of bringing alts into raids. I don’t think we should have to, and I don’t think it’s fair to anyone. However, after nights of failed attempts, I finally gave in and we had one of our Monk healers switch to his DK (whom he had raided on throughout Cata). We still had a ways to go after this, but controlling Rages got much better. Killing the Rages and soaking the Sparks is 100x easier when each pack can be gripped into one spot – which is something that couldn’t be done with only one DK. The fight also requires a lot of Spark soakers. Hunters are optimal since they have a 100% deflection every minute. Shadow Priests are good too, though their cooldown is longer. Rogues can soak well. Feral Druids and Monks are good for soaking single Sparks. Through Symbiosis, Resto and Balance Druids can soak as well. Apoth has 2 Hunters, 1 Shadow Priest, 1 Rogue, 1 Feral, 1 Resto Druid, 1 Balance Druid. One night, both of our Hunters were unable to raid. Result? We were unable to even attempt to do Will. We probably could have worked out a complex rotation of Rage Spark soakers but it would have left us no backups and no room for error. I really wasn’t a fan of the roster restrictions this fight put on us.
This fight really wore on people. Spending whole raid nights where our attempts didn’t progress past the 4-minute mark because of a couple mistakes got frustrating quickly. The fight was exhausting and tired people make more mistakes. There was one point when I even considered whether to not we were capable of succeeding on this fight as a guild. Had we met our skill cap? When Bashiok said 5.2 was going to be released on February 26th I thought about how absolutely soul-crushing it would be for guild morale if we spent all this time on this fight and didn’t get a kill.
Thankfully, we had not reached our skill cap, and it felt pretty damn amazing to finally see those bastards go down and see the Cutting-Edge raid achievement pop up on my screen. I’m really proud of my guild for their persistence – fighting through a non-optimal roster, adapting to strategy changes until we found one that worked for us, not losing focus after a heartbreaking 800k wipe.
For me personally, Heroic Will was full of ups and downs. At first I was excited about the amount of utility I could offer the raid. Aside from knockbacks, and options for CC, HotW could let me help on dps during breaks, I could Symbiosis a hunter and Deterrence would let me help soak Sparks. But there was a problem. I was bad at soaking Sparks. No, I wasn’t just bad – I was fucking terrible. I’d use Deterrence too early and it would wear off before I hit the last Spark. Over our first two raid nights this happened a lot. Way too much. In my eagerness to help, I was only succeeding in killing myself half the time. I felt awful and like a complete and total failure. Hearing our raid leader sigh and say “Please rez Jasyla” so many times was terrible. Thankfully, I got better. Actually, that’s probably not the truth of it. The thing that made the biggest difference was that our controlled killing of Rages got much better. They died closer together, Sparks spawned closer together, Hunters were able to get them all without the need for backups. By our latter attempts I only occasionally had to soak 1 stray Spark on its own, and that I could handle.
If I can put aside my Spark shame for a moment, I’m pretty happy with how I did on our actual kill. (However, if you’re watching our kill video, ignore the part where I need a rez). I felt really useful. My healing was good. I never stopped moving as I bounced between our two Strength tanks, healing them up when they soaked a Spark. I was able to do a couple million damage with HotW during one of the break periods (in between running between the Strength tanks). I picked up Mass Entanglement and helped to control the first set of Rages after each break, affording our Mages some more dps time on the boss before they had to start CC’ing. I used Ursol’s Vortex to help CC later on. I even soaked a stray Spark (on purpose, without it killing me).
It was certainly a rough ride, but I’m so happy we managed to complete this really challenging fight. I feel more confident and more excited about entering T15 with Heroic Will under our belts.