Category Archives: Raiding

Hunter Tips for Malkorok

Malkorok is the 9th boss in Siege of Orgrimmar. He’s got some nasty abilities and is a step up in difficulty from many of the early bosses. 

It’s two-phase single target fight (there are a few adds in heroic, but they’re not a big focus). 

The fight

During phase one there is constant raid-wide damage, and a shield mechanic similar to Tortos. Any healing taken will go into your shield, not your health bar. Thankfully, you don’t have to shoot a crystal to trigger the shield, it applies automatically. Malkorok uses a few damaging abilities. Seismic Slam does damage in a 5 yard area and shoots players up into the air. Be sure to be spread out so only one person gets hit at a time. Imploding Energy will spawn void pools around the room. After 5 seconds they will explode, doing damage to anyone in them. Each zone must be soaked by at least one player standing in them, or massive shadow damage will be done to all players. My raid splits the room into quadrants and assigns people to each one so everyone knows where they need to soak. Arcing Smash is a cone attack that he will use 3 times during the phase, this can be avoided. 10 seconds after the 3rd Arcing Smash, he’ll use Breath of Y’Shaarj which deals massive damage in the places where the smashes were. Remembering the position of each smash so you know where the safe zones are is very important.

Heroic only – When Malk uses Seismic slam, it causes Living corruption adds to spawn and attack players. These have an aura which reduces the casting and movement speed of those around them. They need to get to the tank so they don’t sabotage the casters. Malkorok will also spawn orbs of corruption continuously throughout phase 1. These persist and if anyone comes into contact with them, their barrier gets removed and they take damage. These can be soaked using cooldowns, but should generally be avoided in this phase.

In phase 2 the Ancient Miasma fades, meaning people no longer have shields and can have their health restored. Malkorok will start using Blood Rage, doing huge amounts of damage split among any players in front of him. In normal, everyone just stacks in front of the boss to split the damage. Displaced Energy is a debuff that will be applied to random players. It deals damage to the player and if it is dispelled (or after 9 seconds) explodes, doing damage to anyone in 8 yards. Because of this, players who get this need to move out of the group. Whether or not you want to dispel is up to your group (I vote no!).

Heroic only – The Displaced Energy debuff also roots the affected player in place. Only tanks (or one Monk tank) should stand in front of the boss to soak the Blood Rage. The rest of the players should stay spread out in their quadrants. At this time, the Essences of Y’Shaarj can be soaked by players with good cooldowns (hunters, shadow priests, paladins) to free up some space.

When the Blood Rage ends, we go back to phase 1.

Talent Recommendations

Level 15 – Crouching Tiger, Hidden Chimera
In order to soak as many Orbs as possible, the shorter cooldown on Deterrence is good.

Level 90 – Glaive Toss
Normal is a single-target fight and in heroic the adds aren’t numerous and die quickly.

Tips for the Fight

  • Deterrence has a ton of uses on this fight. In heroic you can use it to soak the Essences of Y’Shaarj. If you get caught in an Arcing Smash or Breath of Y’Shaarj, Deterrence will keep you alive.
  • Disengage can help you get out of the bad floor effects, reduce fall damage after a slam, or get to Imploding Energy to soak in time.
  • Keep an eye on your Barrier level. It will change colour based on how full it is. Use a Healthstone if you’re in the red.
  • Heroic - Master’s Call is helpful on heroic, it can be used if you’re slowed by an ooze or if you are rooted by Displaced Energy.
  • Heroic – Help out the raid by Misdirecting the oozes when they spawn. Once they’re on the tank, Multishot every once in a while to help get them down. 
  • Heroic - Get a Druid to Symbiosis you so they can get Deterrence and you can use Dash so you can soak more orbs.

Happy hunting!

Evaluating Raiders with Warcraft Logs

There is a new combat analysis site in town, and its name is Warcraft Logs. While the site is currently in open Alpha and will likely not be officially released until Warlords of Draenor, it still has a ton of functionality and is already a great tool for evaluating logs.

Since log analyzers aren’t entirely intuitive to use, I’ll be writing a guide on how to use Warcraft Logs to analyze and improve both your own performance and that of your entire raid (just like I did with World of Logs).

The guide is in its beginning stages, currently I just cover the basics – how to upload a log and a breakdown of the log UI. Soon I’ll be adding sections on how to analyze individual raiders and how to use logs to find out what’s happening on boss fights when things go wrong.

Warcraft Logs summary screen

I’ve added the first two sections to my guide section, please check it out and let me know if you have any feedback.

Evaluating Raiders with Warcraft Logs

Lather, Rinse, Repeat

Patch 5.4 and Siege of Orgrimmar was released on September 10, 2013. We’ve been in there for 4 months so far but to me it feels more like 4 years.

This week we learned that there is another PVP season planned during Mists. This means we’re likely looking at another 6 months in Siege of Orgrimmar before Warlord of Draenor comes out. At least. Blizzard does a lot of things well, but pacing their raid content releases is not one of them.

The most recent three expansions have had a pretty distinct pattern when it came to time spent in a tier vs. number of encounters available in that tier. The first tier goes quick. There are a lot of encounters, but the tier isn’t current for that long. In the middle tier, the ratio of encounters:time goes down – the tier stays current for roughly the same amount of time (give or take a month), but there are less bosses to fight. In the final tier of an expansion that encounter:time ratio drops even more. We get more bosses than the middle tier, but the tier drags on for 10-12 months while we wait for the next expansion to be released.

Wrath of the Lich King
Tier 7  (5 months, 18 encounters – 3.6 encounters/month)
Tier 8  (3.5 months, 23 encounters 6.6 encounters/month)
Tier 9  (4 months, 11 encounters – 2.75 encounters/month)
Tier 10 (1 year, 26 encounters – 2.2 encounters/month)  

Cataclysm
Tier 11 (6.5 months, 25 encounters – 3.8 encounters/month)
Tier 12 (5 months, 14 encounters – 2.8 encounters/month)
Tier 13 (10 months, 16 encounters – 1.6 encounters/month)

Mists of Pandaria
Tier 14 (5 months, 32 encounters – 6.4 encounters/month)
Tier 15 (6 months, 25 encounters – 4.2 encounters/month)
Tier 16 (10 months?, 28 encounters – 2.8 encounters/month)

Tier 8 (Ulduar) in Wrath of the Lich King is an outlier in this – an example of creating a tier that was amazing in both quality and quantity, but then pushing it to the background with another tier extremely quickly. WotLK is also a bit of an anomaly in that it was the only time in any expansion (or original WoW) that we got 4 raid tiers.

The question is…why the hell do they keep doing this?

I can understand some front-loading of content. When a new expansion comes out, having a ton of new content is going to help convince people to purchase it. But they need to spread the content out better. Here’s what my generally mindset looks like as expansions proceed:

Game is released
“Oh my god, there’s so much to do! Level! Get rep! Get enough gear to start raiding! Try to check out the new features that were introduced.”

First raid tier ends
“I wish it had lasted longer! I’m sure my raid could have defeated a couple more raid bosses if we had an extra month, and there’s still so much other stuff to do.”

Second raid tier ends
“I feel good about this tier. We had a decent amount of time to progress, and I’m ready for a change of scenery.”

Six months into the final raid tier
“Is this tier ever going to end? Can we hear some news about when the next expansion is coming? Pleeeease.”

Eight to twelve months into the final raid tier
“I’m so bored, we killed everything months ago and playing has been a huge waste of my life for the last few months. Fuck this fucking game, I hate it.”

They need to learn to hold something back. Maybe instead of having 3 raid instances at the start of the xapc, only put out 2 and save one for the last tier. I know I’m not the only one who gets bored doing the same, single raid for almost a year.

Mists of Pandaria also had the least amount of raid zones. In Burning Crusade we had 8 different raids – Karazhan, Magtheridon’s Lair, Gruul’s Lair, Serpentshrine Cavern, Tempest Keep, Hyjal, Black temple and Sunwell. Some of these only had one or two bosses, but 8 raids make for a tremendous amount of variety in scenery, lore and types of bosses encountered. It makes things much more interesting. In Wrath of the Lich King there were 9 different raids. In Cataclysm we had only 6 raid zones. In Mists? Only 5, and 3 of them were squished into the first 5 months. This made for a lot of monotony over the next 10 months.

Is providing varied, interesting raid zones becoming less of a priority?  It seems that in Warlords, a lot of attention is being paid to allowing people to raid in 700 different ways (LFR, normal, heroic, flex, cross-realm, mythic). How much attention will be paid to the variety and amount of raid zones themselves?

After the original release and four expansions, will Blizzard ever learn how to not suck at timing their raid content releases?

Hunter Tips for General Nazgrim

General Nazgrim is the 8th boss in Siege of Orgrimmar. He’s a warrior with the typical warrior abilities, rage generation,and stances. He also summons waves of adds to help him throughout the fight.

The most difficult part of the fight is learning to control and efficiently kill the adds.

The fight

Nazgrim has the three typical warrior stances, which he cycles through during the fight, spending 1 minute in each. 

  • Battle Stance – He begins the fight in this stance and generates 1 Rage per second.
  • Berserker Stance – This is the second stance. He takes and deals 25% more damage and gains more rage from abilities.
  • Defensive Stance – This is the third stance, which causes Nazgrim to take reduced damage and gain rage any time he’s attacked by a non-tank. No one but the tanks should be attacking while he’s in defensive stance.

What does Nazgrim do with all this rage? He’ll cast an ability every 15 seconds, depending on how much rage he has.

  • Heroic Shockwave (30 rage) – Nazgrim leaps to a random player, dealing damage and stunning anyone in the impact zone. After this, Aftershock lines go out in random directions, dealing damage to anyone in them and generating rage per person hit. If you’re doing the mechanics correctly, you’ll see this ability a lot.
  • Kor’kron Banner (50 rage) – Nazgrim summons a banner, which causes any adds present to generate rage for him. This has low health and is easily killed.
  • War Song (70 rage) – Deals damage to all players (50% of max health).
  • Ravager (100 rage) – Spawns an axe that whirls around the room. It inflicts a large amount of damage on anyone it hits, and makes Nazgrim gain rage. Ideally, you don’t want to see one of these at all during the fight.

Every 45 seconds or so, Nazgrim will summon a group of adds into the fight (I believe it’s 3 in 25 and 2 in 10). There are a few different types of adds (listed in rough order of kill priority):

  • Warshaman – This guy is a healer. He drops Healing Tide Totems which must be killed (and never allowed to get near Nazgrim), and casts Empowered Chain Heal, which must be interrupted.
  • Arcweaver – A mage that does high damage with Arcane Shock (a single target nuke) and Magistrike (AoE). Both of these are incorruptible. In heroic mode, the Arcweaver becomes the highest priority target as it is very dangerous.
  • Assassin – A rogue that starts in stealth and tries to Backstab his fixated target. To deal with the Assassin, the focused target should either kite, or face the mob.
  • Ironblade – A warrior that spins around the room, doing damage to anyone he hits. Since this add is most dangerous to melee, it should be the priority target for ranged once the Shaman/Arcweaver is dead.
  • Sniper (heroic only) – A hunter that will focus a target and shoot at it. It will also cast Multishot, so it needs to be faced away from the raid.

Control of the adds is a very important part of the fight. The shaman and mage needs to be locked down with interrupts. The other mobs can be stunned, rooted and slowed.

Talent Recommendations

Level 15 – Crouching Tiger, Hidden Chimera

Level 30 – Binding Shot
This is helpful for controlling the Ironblades and Assassins.

Level 75 – A Murder of Crows (SV)/Blink Strikes (BM)
I am generally Survival for this fight and I like AMoC. If you time it carefully, you can get one right on the pull and put up a second just before he switches to Defensive stance. If you’re BM, stick with Blink Strikes.

Level 90 – Glaive Toss
There aren’t very many adds and they tend to be quite spread out so Barrage isn’t fully effective a lot of the time.

Tips for the Fight

  • Your pets basic attacks do not cause Nazgrim to gain rage during Defensive stance. So your pet can attack during this phase. However, Kill Command will make him gain rage. So don’t use it during defensive if you are BM and leave your pet on him.
  • If you do this fight as Survival, leave your pet on the boss full time.
  • If you get focused by the Assassin – kite! Use Concussive Shot, Binding Shot, Disengage. Deterrence if it gets too close and you can deflect all the melee attacks.
  • Help slow down the Ironblade, or an Assassin focused on someone else (Concussive Shot, Binding Shot).
  • If you are focused by the Sniper, Deterrence will not deflect his shots (which is odd), but you still get the damage reduction.
  • I generally avoid Frost Traps, as they can obscure Aftershocks on the ground.
  • Deterrence is a great thing to use if you’re about to get hit with a War Cry.
  • Disengage is good for getting out of poorly positioned Aftershocks.
  • Refresh any DoTs on Nazgrim just before he enters Defensive stance.

Happy hunting!

Warcraft Logs

I’m a big fan of WoW stats and analyzing logs, as you can probably tell by how often I write about the topic.

Recently, a new site for WoW combat log analysis was introduced – Warcraft Logs! Developed by Kihra, Warcraft Logs looks like an amazing supplement to, and eventual successor to World of Logs. It just entered open alpha this week, so there are some bugs and features that haven’t been implemented yet, but it’s looking good so far.

I’m pretty excited about this new site. The WoL devs have mostly been just keeping the lights on for the last year or so. Big bugs get fixed (eventually), but there haven’t been any new features implemented or improvements in a long time. Warcraft Logs seems set on giving raiders a better analysis resource.

Warcraft Logs overviewThe logs are pretty sleek looking. The overview page gives you the basic information – damage done, healing done, damage taken by ability. You can very easily constrain the time range to look at a specific part of the fight by clicking and dragging to select a time frame on the top chart.

Warcraft Logs Damage Done

The Damage Done panel is similar to WoL, but has some nice improvements. If you look at Damage Done by Ability, the chart at the top very nicely maps out when and how much damage each ability is doing. Mousing over the ability name will show you the breakdown of how much damage each target took from that ability. Clicking on the ability will graph out uptimes. Mousing over the blue bar will break down hits, crits, and ticks. And, my absolute favourite feature on the Warcraft Logs damage screen – pets abilities are included on the same page as the player! No more having to look at your pet(s) and yourself separately – all the abilities are in one place.

Warcraft Logs - Buffs and Debuffs

The Buffs and Debuffs screen isn’t the most user friendly right now, but it is going to be redesigned soon™.

Warcraft Logs Deaths

The Deaths page is simple and easy to use. In addition to a graph of the player’s health level, it includes the log entries of all damage and healing taken since the last time the player was overhealed. Along the left side, where you can see all deaths there are a few neat features, like the icons for the last 3 sources of damage are shown. I believe the time in brackets is supposed to indicate the time between the last heal received and the death, though it doesn’t look entirely accurate right now. Improvements planned for this view include showing survival cooldowns by default.

Warcraft Logs Resources

One feature of Warcraft Logs I’m stoked for is the Resources pane. Unfortunately, resources were removed from the combatlog so this panel isn’t working at the moment, but the Blues have said they would be added back soon. When that happens, the resources pane will let you see mana/energy/focus/rage levels of players throughout the fight. This is particularly interesting for healers.

It’s really easy to create or join a guild using Warcraft logs, and you’re allowed to belong to more than one guild on a single account, which is nice. There’s also a Personal Logs option so you can log LFR or Flex or target dummy practice without cluttering up your guild’s page.

There are a few important features that are not available yet, but are planned. For me, the most important of these are an expression editor and a rankings system. Lack of these things is the main thing that will keep my raid running both WoL and WL for the time being. After all, rankings are half the fun. Once these, and the other planned features are implemented, Warcraft Logs will be an amazing resource. It’s already well on its way there.

Once Warcraft Logs gets past the alpha stage, I’ll likely write up a proper guide on how to use it to analyse logs. In the meantime, you should give it a try for your next raid.

Hunter Tips for Iron Juggernaut

Iron Juggernaut is the 6th fight in SoO and is as close to a tank & spank as we’re going to get. Though he looks menacing, it’s actually one of the easier fights. Heroic mode is almost exactly the same for a ranged dps.

The fight

Iron Juggernaut is broken up into two phases. Assault phase come first and lasts 2 minutes. During this time he smacks the tanks around, casts Borer Drills (look like spikes coming out of the ground) that you should move away from, and fires Mortar Cannons which requires everyone to be spread out 8 yards apart. He also does some unavoidable damage on the raid. The most troublesome ability in Assault phase is Crawler Mines. These will spawn around the boss and will explode, doing massive damage to everyone, if they are allowed to detonate. To prevent them from detonating, they must be stomped on. Generally, whichever tank does not currently have the boss is the best option for stomping mines.  However, if they can’t get to all of them another raider, with a good damage mitigation cooldown, will need to pick up the extra(s).

Heroic only – A sawblade will be launched from the boss, and then return, doing damage to anything it hits.

The second part of the fight is a 60 second Siege mode. During this phase, the boss does not need to be tanked. Raid damage goes up in this phase immensely, and keeping yourself alive becomes much more important than damaging the boss. There is unavoidable raid-wide damage and the boss fires avoidable Demolisher Cannons. You can tell where these will land as there will be a big, red, circle. Three times during the phase, the boss will cast Shock Pulse, doing massive damage and knocking everyone back – it’s important to put your back to a wall so you don’t get knocked out of range of healers. Explosive Tar will be spread around on the ground and people will randomly be targeted by a Cutter Laser, which follows them around for a time. Do not kite the cutter laser over the tar or it will explode and probably kill most of the raid.

Heroic only – The boss is extra dangerous to the melee in this phase due to Mortar Barrage.

Talent Recommendations

Level 15 – Crouching Tiger, Hidden Chimera
Deterrence owns on this fight, and you’ll want to be able to use it a lot. Deterrence is also pretty good if you get caught off guard and get knocked back. Glyph of Deterrence is a good option as well.

Level 90 – Glaive Toss

Tips for the Fight

  • Deterrence is amazing on this fight. It will let you stomp on mines without dying. In Siege phase deterrence will completely deflect the raid-wide Seismic Activity damage and the Shock Pulse (both the damage and the knock-back).
  • If you do get knocked back too far, Disengage can help you get back faster. Or use it to get out of the Demolisher Cannon damage zones.
  • Use your big cooldowns during Assault phase.
  • Use your Healthstones! You obviously can’t Deterrence every Shock Pulse, so use a Healthstone after one of them.

Happy hunting!

Hunter Tips for Galakras

Galakras is the 5th fight in SoO and is broken up into two parts – a siege phase where you fight waves of adds and gain control of towers, and a single target phase after you’ve shot Galakras out of the sky. Though the fight seems complex because there are so many types of mobs all with their own set of abilities, it’s actually fairly straightforward to execute. These are tips for both normal and heroic.

The fight

The goal in phase 1 is to gain control of two towers so you can shoot Galakras down and begin the last phase of the fight. The raid gets separated into a ground team and a tower team. For the first couple waves of adds, the whole raid can stay together to deal with them (I’m not going to talk about what every single add does, go read a guide for that).

Wave 3 consists of a mini-boss, Korgra the Snake, and two Ebon Stalkers. The Ebon Stalkers are more dangerous so they should be killed first. It’s at this point that your tower team (consisting of one tank, a number of dps and a couple healers) wants to head up to the South Tower, which will open shortly. The ranged dps can help kill the mobs on the ground, while the tank and melee can handle the adds in the tower. Once the tower opens, a Demolisher will spawn and start shooting at the tower. The Demo should become the priority target and should be killed before the tower team starts climbing the tower (otherwise they’ll take damage and get stunned as they’re running up). At the top of the tower is another mini-boss with a cone attack that can knock people off the tower. Once it’s dead, the tower team can re-join the ground team. Important: Have one person stay on the tower and use the cannon to shoot down all the proto-drakes flying around, this will reduce the amount of damage the raid takes considerably.

The ground team will then need to handle 3 more waves of various adds. The 7th wave will be another mini-boss, High Enforcer Thranok. He will occasionally pull all players close to him, then do a big attack. Everyone needs to get away when this happens. Around this time, the North tower will open, and another Demo will spawn. The tower team should deal with this one in the same way as the last. Once the 2nd tower has been claimed, you need one person in the cannon on top of each tower to shoot Galakras down at the same time. Make sure the adds on the ground are under control/almost dead before you do this.

The priority for killing mobs may differ a bit based on your raid team, but here are some general guidelines.

Kill immediately:

  • Healing Tide Totems (dropped by Tidal Shaman) and War Banners (dropped by Flagbearers)

High priority:

  • Kor’kron Demolishers – so your tower team can start climbing
  • Dragonmaw Bonecrushers – because they hurt the NPCs
  • Dragonmaw Tidal Shamans – because they heal

Low priority:

  • Dragonmaw Flameslingers
  • Dragonmaw Grunts

Extra heroic mechanic
The Demolition Crew NPCs (the guys who open the towers for you) now get attacked by Dragonmaw Grunts and must be protected. A small team of ranged dps and a healer or two should be assigned to protect these guys until the tower opens.

In phase 2 things get much more simple. Kill off any remaining adds then, burn down Galakras. The main mechanic to deal with is Flames of Galakrond. My raid has found the best way to handle it is to split your raid into two groups and have one stand on his back left foot and one on his back right foot. The person targeted by the Flames just needs to back up a few steps to ensure it hits the group before it hits them.

Talent Recommendations

Level 15 – Postehaste
If you’re assigned to the tower team then Posthaste can help get you around a little quicker. 

Level 75 – Blink Strikes

Level 90 – Barrage
Mobs are often up in groups of 5 or 6 at a time, Barrage will get all of them.

Tips for the fight

  • You can use Disengage to get around a little quicker if you’re running between the towers and the ground team. If you’re on top of the tower you can jump off and Disengage before you hit the ground to avoid taking too much damage/dying. You can also use it to quickly get behind the rest of the group if you’re targeted by Flames in phase 2.
  • Use Master’s Call to quickly get your pet from attacking the mobs on the ground to attacking mobs by the tower.
  • With so many instant shots, hunters are great for killing Banners and Totems. Make a targeting macro to make killing these even faster.
  • You can help interrupt the Tidal Shaman. Chain Heal is the most important one, though generally people with a shorter interrupt should get that. You can also interrupt Tidal Wave.

Happy hunting!