Tag Archives: hard modes

To the Ground – Aftermath

I, like many people, was very opinionated on the topic of the Firelands nerfs when they were first announced. I didn’t know the exact extent of the nerfs, or how they would affect me but I was mad, dammit! Now that I’ve actually seen the nerfs first-hand, my opinions have changed slightly.

Let’s start with normals.

Normal Shannox, Beth’tilac and Rhyolith got 15% reductions to health and damage done while Alysrazor, Baleroc, Majordomo and Ragnaros were nerfed by a rather massive 25%. There were also a number of small mechanic tweaks, such as Alysrazor’s tornadoes being slowed down.

My first experience with the normal-mode nerfs was Alysrazor. I must say, I was rather shocked. We went in with our normal comp of 6 healers and there was very little to do. There were no Fieroblasts going out (because they are cast so infrequently now). The Initiates would die well before the next set spawned. On our first phase we ended up with 2 Lava Worms alive at the end because the Hatchlings had died so fast*. The tornados now moved so slowly that running into the back of the one you were chasing became the only real danger. We probably could have killed her shortly after the first ground phase, except someone was doing part of their legendary quest and we needed to draw out the fight for 2 full phases. There was very little for me to do. I had no choice but to amuse myself by healing Kurn’s tank whenever he had Gushing Wound so it never fell off, causing her to yell at all the healers.

*This is the problem with blanket nerfs like this. A 25% reduction to health can break a fight. People shouldn’t have to throttle their dps on the Hatchlings so they’re not killed too fast. Melee dps shouldn’t be left twiddling their thumbs when an Initiate dies and the next one doesn’t spawn for 20 seconds. This has happened on other fights too. Majordomo’s Flame Orbs are no longer a concern – he dies before they have a chance to spawn. The health nerf has effectively removed an entire mechanic from that fight.*

Since that night, I’ve seen all the bosses on normal mode with the exception of Shannox. They all follow the same pattern. For a group who has done the fights before they are ridiculously easy and even if people screw up, you can just brute-force your way to a kill. That said, I don’t really care that much. I can see where people are coming from when they say the kills now feel cheap and hollow, but to me they’re just repeat kills. I know that my raid teams and I worked hard to get those first kills (before nerfs) and I’m proud of them. Not having to work so hard for the 3rd, 6th or 12th kill doesn’t upset me. The normal mode nerfs have had no impact on my personal enjoyment of the game.

As for the heroics, all bosses got a 15% nerf to their health and damage done.

I had killed Shannox a few times before on heroic. It wasn’t a terribly challenging fight for either of my raid groups to begin with, so the nerfs just made it a little bit easier. There is now more margin for error. In my druid’s first post-nerf kill Jagged Tear never dropped on the Shannox tank and it didn’t cause too much of an issue (where I’m sure it would have killed him and resulted in a wipe before). However, the fight wasn’t a complete joke. On my priest’s first experience with post-nerf Shannox it actually took us a few tries to get him down. People getting caught in crystal prison traps or not breaking Face Rage can still lead to wipes. Likewise, I learned on my Druid last night that Shannox gaining Separation Anxiety can still lead to much death and destruction.

The second boss I had experience with was Rhyolith. Apotheosis had put in 40 attempts on him with our best try getting him to 16%. After the nerf it took us another 7 attempts to get the kill. I thought the nerfs made the fight, especially the adds, much more manageable and a little less punishing for bad Volcano spawns. 15% was probably a bit too much though. I think an even 10% nerf would have helped a number of raid groups to get their first kills while still retaining a bit more of the challenge.

The rest of the heroics I never saw before they were nerfed. I’m actually thinking this is a good thing. It means I won’t have a sense of disappointment when I see how the fights have changed. They’re all new to me, nerf or no.

Apotheosis killed Beth’tilac for the first time last night. Even with the nerfs we put in 37 attempts before we killed her. As much as I might feel badly for not killing her before the nerfs, I also shudder to think of how many attempts that would have taken – 75? 100? Perhaps I’m getting soft, but I can’t say I really want to spend 100 attempts on a boss. I’d be okay with that on an end-of-tier boss, but not one of the underlings. Though I’m sure heroic Beth’tilac is now a pushover for those who have killed her before or those who were close to a kill pre-nerf, for my guild who had no experience with her before, she was still reasonably challenging. My priest buudy Kal also wrote about what she thinks of the nerfs now that she’s experienced them.

Arm of Hades has attempted a number of heroic bosses since the nerfs, but has not spent significant time on any of them. My team spent 7 or 8 attempts on Beth’tilac, which still seemed quite challenging. Figuring out how to deal with all the adds is something that’s going to take practise and trial & error. We also spent some time on Baleroc. Our best attempt got us to about 12%, but we hit the enrage timer. One of our other 10-man teams attempted Alysrazor and managed to get her down in only a dozen or so attempts. That seems a little fast to me.

So I guess you could say I’ve calmed down a little since last week. I still think there are better ways to make bosses more killable (changes to specific challenging mechanics, not blanket nerfs) but I’ve come to terms with the nerfs and will do my best to make the most of them and beat all the hard modes.

I’ll also keep my fingers crossed that the upcoming Looking for Raid “easy” difficulty will solve the raid accessibility problem so nerfs like this will never happen again.

Hardmodes areā€¦

This past weekend I got my first look at the 10-man hardmodes in ICC. We usually have a US-timezone run and a AUS-timezone run for 10s, but on Saturday we didn’t have enough people for a 25-man (big surprise there), so we were able to mix up the two groups to make one 10-man with a really strong raid comp.

Overall, the hardmodes were kinda easy and rather uninspiring. We went 7/12 in about three hours. Now, since we are a 25-man raiding guild, the group was in mostly ilvl 264 gear, any dps race components of the fights were rather trivial. The 10% buff doesn’t hurt either. Besides that though, there really wasn’t much difference between the normal and hard modes.

Funnily enough, I found Marrowgar to be one of the more difficult hard modes I saw and the only one that required any major change in the way I did the fight. On hard mode he continues to cast Bone Spike while he’s whirlwinding, and he also does a lot more damage. In normal mode, I’m able to just pop Barkskin, stand in one place and heal. It took me a couple deaths to realize that is not an adequate strategy for hard mode. Since the Bone Spikes are still being cast, everyone must stay fairly close to each other during Bone Storm. Bone Storm does a lot of damage and fire covers most of the area you have to stand in, so you have to move around a lot to avoid as much damage as you can. Phase 1 of the fight is pretty much identical to normal mode.

I’ve heard that Deathwhisper is one of the tougher hard modes, but I didn’t notice any increase in difficulty. She mind controls in phase 1, she’s got more health, so phase 2 lasts longer and she continues to spawn adds through phase 2. She is also immune to taunt. It sounded like it would be difficult, but it really wasn’t (for me anyways, her extra abilities seem to put more pressure on tanks than on healers). Our CC’ers were on the ball with the MCs and we had a feral druid tanking the adds that spawned in phase 2. It went very smoothly.

Gunship…still a joke. If there is a difference between normal and hard mode, I couldn’t tell you what it is.

Saurfang took us a couple tries. I could see how this fight would be difficult for 10-man strict guilds due to the high dps requirement. I specced boomkin for this so I could help control the adds. The biggest difference I noticed was his rate of energy gain. We always saw two Marks during the fight, and our wipes were due to those people dying. When someone with Mark dies, Saurfang heals for 20% of his health, which means a wipe. Because of my ability to Typhoon the adds then root one, plus having a DK use Chains of Ice on the other, the blood beasts were not an issue. The extra ability they have in hard mode is that they hit harder and reduce the movement speed of everyone around them by 80%. This didn’t come into play at all, as no one had to move. However, I can see the Blood Beasts being tricky for groups who are light on ranged DPS.

We went to the Crimson Hals next to face Blood Princes. The new mechanic in hard mode is Shadow Prison. This is a stacking debuff that is applied to you whenever you move. Sounds kinda cool, but unless you let your debuffs stack to a ridiculously high number, the damage is very minimal. The Kinetic Bombs in hard mode drop very fast. We had all of our ranged dps looking out for them. The biggest problem we had was the Empowered Ball of Flames. Everyone was very spread out because of the Kinetic Bombs and we had only one melee dps so we didn’t have a lot of opportunity to soak the fire damage to lessen its power. We took a “slow but steady” approach to the fight and were able to complete it within a few tries.

Blood Queen…apparently in heroic she has more health and does more damage. I noticed no increase in difficultly over normal mode, my raid group agreed that she was the easiest of all the bosses we had done.

The last boss we did was Rotface. In heroic mode, Putricide uses Vile Gas on the ranged throughout the fight. This just means that you need at least 3 people spread out at ranged so he doesn’t target the melee and wipe the raid. The Vile Gas debuff seemed very weak compared to the one on Festergut as far as damage goes. The Mutated Infection also reduces healing done by 75% instead of 50%. I didn’t find this any harder to heal than the normal mode.

So far the hard modes are disappointing. Gunship, Saurfang and Blood Queen all just require slightly more dps and healing, without really adding anything new. Deathwhisper, Blood Princes and Rotface get a new mechanic or two, but they’re really weak. Marrowgar is the only fight that didn’t allow me to play the same way I do in normal mode.

I hear heroic Putricide is a real bitch, I’m looking forward to trying him.

In other news, I continue to /boggle at all the people who like tree form.