Tag Archives: boss fights

The Best and Worst of Tier 14

Today I wanted to take a look at boss mechanics in Tier 14 – not bosses, but individual mechanics. Overall, I’ve been very pleased with this tier of raid content. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed most fights overall, but some mechanics tickle my fancy more than others and some just make me mad. I asked on Twitter what other people thought, and they were full of opinions!

Twitter on boss mechanics

I may be writing this a little prematurely, as Tier 14 isn’t quite over and there are heroic fights I haven’t seen yet, so feel free to tell me if you think I’ve left something out.

The Worst Boss Mechanics

In this list, “worst” can mean a few different things. Some are mechanics that I think are poorly designed and don’t work very well. Some are things I just find to be an excessive pain in the ass.

1. Elegon – Energy Vortex line of sight (Heroic only)

I actually enjoy the Heroic Elegon fight for the most part, but line of sight is just not a fun thing to deal with. If the line of sight mechanic worked seamlessly, it might be okay, but it doesn’t. There are a ton of issues that cause this to be much more of a burden than it should be. Step out of the inner ring to heal up someone stunned by Destabilizing Energies and it takes the game a second or two longer than it should to recognize that you should be able to heal them. Same when you go back in. I’ve run into problems when trying to rez people who die right on the border many times, usually having to reposition myself half a dozen times before I can actually cast on them (and the console in the room provides an extra barrier). I’m sure that not being able to damage Elegon while resetting stacks or running out with an add isn’t much fun for the dps either.

2. Stone Guard – Jasper Chains

These are just a major pain in the ass. Melee isn’t a fun place to be on this fight in the first place, and forcing healers and ranged to run in there to collapse chains makes it even worse. The variable nature of this fight can make Chains a piece of cake or a raid wiper. If you don’t get a Jasper Petrification cast that will allow you to break chains, you can find yourself in a situation where almost your whole raid is stacked up on top of each other. Trying to avoid all the Mines and Puddles that will inevitably spawn right on top of the stack of people, all while trying to not get too far away from your Chain partner gets a bit ridiculous. Also, the fact that 10-mans don’t have to deal with Jasper Chains 25% of the time is BS.

3. Amber Shaper – Mutated Construct

People generally aren’t fans of vehicle fights. They want to play their character and use the abilities they’re familiar with. For me, I don’t mind so much becoming a construct in phase 2. I interrupt a few things, get dps’d down, then go back about my healing. But in phase 3 it gets annoying and boring. Press 1 on cooldown, interrupt yourself with 2 every 10 seconds or so, eat a puddle occasionally. I’d really rather be helping to keep my raid alive.

4. Lei Shi – Hide

I have yet to participate in a Lei Shi fight where I don’t hear a handful of dps moan about Lei Shi hiding right after they’ve popped their cooldowns. Phases that occur in random order can make fights dynamic, but in this case it mostly just frustrates people. I also don’t find the way of getting her to reappear (hitting her a certain amount of times with AoE spells) very interesting.

5. Wind Lord – Wind Bombs

Usually I enjoy fights with many “stay out of the bad” mechanics, but I find Wind Bombs too punishing. Insta-wipe mechanics suck. Having one person’s mistake kill half of the raid is pretty brutal. I’d be good with a Wind-Bomb one-shotting the person that hit it (or even killing the people within a certain radius), but potentially killing everyone? Blech.

6. Blade Lord Ta’yak – Unseen Strike

This mechanic is more of a pain in the butt than it should be and is easy to screw up. It sounds simple enough – damage gets shared in a 15 yard cone around the target. But in practice, determining where the cone of effect will be is not so straightforward. With a bit of lag, where the target is standing on your screen can be quite different than where they are on their screen. Plus, the knock-back doesn’t always send you in the direction you think you’re going to go, and getting punted into tornadoes is no fun. A small change like making the Strike hit anyone within 5 yards of the target (in any direction, not just behind them) would be a big improvement.

7. Sha of Fear – Everything on the main platform

I love long boss fights, but not when it just means doing the same thing for 15 minutes. I guess the shrine bit of this fight is okay, but everything on the main platform is super dull. Are you a tank? Here, stand in this light circle. Healer? Stand around and be bored until the boss gets to about 20% and there’s a bit of healing to do. Strafe out of circles occasionally. Dps? Well, you guys at least have some movement to do, going between the backs of the adds and the safe zone (but honestly that sounds more annoying than interesting). This is not the epic, end of tier boss you’re looking for. Move along.

The Best Boss Mechanics

 The best mechanics are not just the ones I enjoy the most, but also the ones I found most innovative and creative. A lot of them are new ideas that we haven’t really seen in raids before.

1. Blade Lord Ta’yak – Storm Unleashed

Based on the feedback I’ve seen this isn’t a popular choice, but I think this mechanic is great fun. I think it’s especially fun as a healer, as we’re not just concerned about getting to the end of the hall as fast as possible, but also have to continue to heal all the way along. I like mechanics that make people focus on survival and quick movement. Storm Unleashed is also one of the few places where I find Demonic Gateways useful and not an annoyance.

2. Garalon – Pheromones

Another one that doesn’t seem to be a popular choice. I like this because it gives some of the dps (and sometimes healers) extra responsibility. I like the coordination required to get a good kiter rotation going and the fairly strict positioning requirements. The consequence of messing up passing the Pheromones is punishing, but not overly harsh. As a healer, I like occasionally having a target other than the tank who requires focused healing.

3. Feng – Stolen Essences of Stone

Fights in tier 12 and 13, with a few notable exceptions, didn’t challenge tanks a whole lot. Feng was a huge change of pace. Though I have spent a raid night or two cursing Feng’s existence, now that my raid has this fight down I really like the mechanics of it. Shroud of Reversal requires very good timing. Nullification Barrier requires both good timing and proper positioning. And while using these new abilities the tanks have to do all their normal tanking stuff too.

4. Elegon – Touch of the Titans/Overcharged

This is a mechanic (or combination of mechanics, really) that emphasizes personal responsibility. You want to always have that 50% damage and healing taken buff, but you also don’t want to get your damage taken debuff so high that the healers start screaming or you can get one-shot. The mechanic could have been made even more interesting if the damage done buff and the damage taken debuff increased together.

5. Will of the Emperor – Devastating Combo / Opportunistic Strike

The Devastating Combo puts a lot of emphasis on positioning and fast reaction time. What I like most about it is that it gives a real incentive for avoiding all the strikes. Not only do you get to avoid damage (important, but not exciting), but if you successfully avoid all of them you get rewarded with a big damage ability (big numbers, woo!) This is an ability that mostly affects the tanks and melee, but even the healers can get in on the action too.

6. Grand Empress Shek’zeer – Dissonance Field

This is another one that emphasizes personal responsibility. When you get Cry of Terror, you need to go into once of the Dissonance Fields. You can still take damage while you’re in there, but cannot be healed at all. Stay in there the whole time and you’re likely to die when the Field expires and explodes. But spend too much time outside the Field and Cry of Terror will be really hurting your raid group and the Field won’t go down quick enough. I like this mechanic because it forces the DPS to pay a little more attention to their health than normal. It also makes the healers pay close attention so that when the person in the field steps out, they get a heal quickly so they can go back in.

What mechanics in Tier 14 have stood out the most for you?

Interesting Boss Mechanics

Favorite fight mechanics is a topic that came up late one night at BlizzCon. I had an answer to this right away, as this post has been sitting in my draft folder for a couple months. I thought it was about time to finally get it completed and posted.

There are a few boss mechanics I’ve seen over the years that have really stood out as interesting and challenging. I’d love to see things like these make a comeback in future raids.

Necrotic Aura – Loatheb (Naxxramas)

Necrotic Aura
was a really interesting mechanic for healers. For 17 out of every 20 seconds in this fight, you couldn’t do any healing. I thought this was amazing. It meant none of your healing could be mindless. You had had to have a plan for your healing team, you had to be prepared and you had to make your heals count. It was a good lesson in timing your spells.

Aura of Despair – General Vezax (Ulduar)

General Vezax
Aura of Despair
is another mechanic that provides a healer-specific challenge. All through the Vezax encounter you were unable to regenerate mana. This was a fantastic lesson in mana mangement. You needed to be focused and you needed restraint in order to get through this fight. It was a very nice change from fights where healing could become quite spammy. While learning the fight I had to utilize my whole bag of tricks, from timing Lifebloom blooms for healing and mana return to meleeing the boss for Clearcasting procs for free heals, even using dark runes.

Inner Demon – Leotheras the Blind (Serpentshrine Cavern)

Leotheras the Blind
Though I’ve always loved healing I do enjoy getting to do something different from time to time and Inner Demon was the perfect opportunity. During the Leotheras encounter random people would spawn an inner demon and if you couldn’t kill it (on your own) within about 30 seconds you’d get mind controlled for the duration of the fight. The demons did take extra damage from nature and holy spells, making them a bit easier for healers to kill theirs, but this was at a time when spell damage and spell healing were two different stats. It could still be quite a challenge as a healer.

Poisonous Blood – Hakkar (Zul’Gurub)

Hakkar the Soul Flayer
During the Hakkar fight, raid memebers would occasionally have to pull and kill a Son of Hakkar. When the son died, they would leave a cloud of poison. While poison on the ground is usually something to be avoided at all cost, this fight made you stand in the poison! Why? Because Hakkar would then cast Blood Siphon and he would take damage from every person infected with Poisonous Blood. Hakkar was the first end boss that I ever faced in WoW and my delight at this mechanic has only grown with my raid experience. I get much amusement from thinking back to a time when people got yelled at for not standing in the bad.

Blood boil and Fel Rage – Gurtogg Bloodboil (Black Temple)

Gurtogg Bloodboil
This guy had two interesting mechanics that made him one of my favorite bosses in my favorite raid. First there was Blood Boil, which would put a stackable DoT on the 5 people furthest away from the boss every 10 seconds. I really enjoyed the emphasis this placed on spatial awareness and mobility. If you messed up your timing and positioning, someone was going to get too many stacks and end up dead. I also got to be responsible for healing one fo the groups of 5 people (pre-Wild Growth) which was a nice challenge. Then there was Fel Rage. The boss would put a 30 second debuff on a random raid member which increased their health, armor, healing and damage and then he would beat the hell out of that person for the duration. In all likelihood he’d focus on a clothie. This challenged the healers to keep up a non-tank through a vicious melee barrage and challenged the person with Fel Rage to use all the mitigation, avoidance and self-healing abilities available to them.

What are some of your favorite boss mechanics?

Raid changes I would like to see in Cataclysm

I’ve spent a lot of time judging the announcements that have been made regarding Cataclysm. This got me thinking of what kind of changes I think would improve the game. I know that none of these things are likely to happen, but a girl can dream. If it were up to me, these are the raid-related changes I’d like to see:

Go back to the BC model of raiding.
For me, Burning Crusade was the best raiding experience I’ve had, and I’d like to see raiding in Cataclysm go back to this model. There are 10-man raids and there are 25-man raids. There is no overlap, there are no hard modes. I liked having variety in raids. I mainly raided 25s but it was nice to go into Kara or ZA for a breath of fresh raiding air. No double lockouts, definitely no quadruple lockouts for the same damn instance. That’s just design laziness, and it gets tedious really quick.

Get rid of Emblems
I hate Emblems. I hate being told I need to run old, easy heroics every day in order to get access to the best gear as fast as possible. I also hate that the gear available from emblems have ruined any sense of raid progression in the game. Hit level 80, go straight into ICC. Honestly, what’s wrong with making people progress? Why the need to hand out epics like candy so that no one feels left out or behind? In BC my Horde guild was working away at the first bosses of SSC and TK while the progression guilds were in Black Temple, and you know what? That was okay. I didn’t feel left out or slighted in any way. My guild was not at that level yet and we needed to work to get there. People have been so spoiled now that no one is willing to work for progress anymore – everyone expects to have everything handed to them regardless of skill or the amount of effort they put in.

Some people may call this view elitist. The changes I want do not stem from a desire to be a special snowflake. I just don’t understand why it’s so important that everyone have equal access to every thing in the game. I see no problem in rewarding people for being willing to put in more time, and for being skilled. In what skewed world view is rewarding people for effort considered a bad thing? For instance, I’m not good at PVP. I do the occasional BG and have tried arenas with very limited success. Do I think that the PVP game should be dumbed down for my benefit or that I should be handed the best PVP gear without having the skill or putting in the necessary effort to get it? Hell no. I suck at PVP, therefore I don’t get the rewards that come from it. I don’t hold a grudge against the good PVPers for this.

Do a total gear reset
The stats on gear are getting out of hand, and based on what we’ve seen stats are going to get a lot higher in Cata (especially stamina). Do we really need each piece of gear to have 500 stamina? This isn’t a huge deal, but I think the numbers are getting obscenely large. I’d like to see Blizzard reduce all stats on gear by 50 or 75% so we can start fresh and the numbers don’t get too big.

Break all boss mods
DBM, Bigwigs, Deus Vox Encounters- break’em all in Cataclysm! (And break AVR immediately if not sooner). Boss mods encourage lazy, inattentive raiding. Do we really need sirens, raid warnings, flashing lights and circles on the ground in order to not die? I say no. I would enjoy having to actually watch the fight and react accordingly rather than be told what to do by a mod (at least I think I would – boss encounter mods have been a mandatory thing for most of my raiding career).

To make up for the loss of boss mods, some changes could be made to encounters. For one, bosses could have more verbal or visual cues that let you know when big abilities are coming. Encounters could also be slightly more forgiving in terms of reaction time – not having encounters where a split second of lag will kill you would be nifty. I’d really like to see the success of a raid depend more on player skill and ability to play your class well than watching timers.

Anyone else have any completely unrealistic expectations for Cataclysm that are bound to disappoint you when they don’t happen?