Tag Archives: tier 14

Timing is Everything

Today we got the news that patch 5.2 will be dropping in the last week of February. Usually, I’m not too critical of decisions made by Blizzard. In fact, I usually am on the verge of being a Blizzard apologist. This game has kept me interested and entertained for 7 years, there’s not much else I can say that about. But I have to say, sometimes their timing just sucks.

I think Tier 15 being released after less than 5 months is too soon. Much too soon. I would like some more time to work on T14 heroics, I feel like my raid can progress more before we run into a brick wall and are itching for the new tier to come out. And I don’t think we’re alone.

WoWProgress has tracked the progress of ~39,000 guilds. Of those, 29.5% have completed all normal modes and 1% have completed all heroic modes. This isn’t a lot. I think many guilds out there would benefit from a little more time in the current tier.

I had this exchange on Twitter once I learned about 5.2’s release date:

5.2 release date from Bashiok
Releasing a new raid tier every 5 months is an admirable goal, but all raid tiers are not created equal. The quantity and quality of the content available need to be taken into consideration when deciding when to push out the next tier.

Let’s take Tiers 8 & 9 as an example. They were current content for roughly the same amount of time, but they shouldn’t have been. Ulduar was a beautifully designed, lore-rich raid instance with great boss fights and clever ways of accessing heroic modes. TotC was a single room with no trash mobs and only 5 unique fights. Three and a half months in Ulduar did not feel nearly long enough.  Four months in TotC was enough to make me never want to step foot in that raid again.

Having only 5 months in the particular case of Tier 14 is problematic for three main reasons:

  1. The tier is HUGE! 16 normal + 16 heroic encounters is a lot of bosses to work through, the most bosses we’ve ever had at one time. Five months isn’t enough.
  2. Aside from the raids, players have had a ton of content to work on since the launch of Mists – gearing, rep grinds, dailies, lesser charms, dungeons, scenarios, challenge modes, new BGs, arenas, brawler’s guild, pet battles. Of course I can’t speak for everyone, but I feel like it’s only recently that I’ve had time to take a breath and spend more time doing non-raid related things or working on alts. There’s still a lot I’d like to do before jumping into the gear/valor grind to prepare myself for a new tier of content.
  3. It means we’re going to be subjected to front-loaded raid content for the 3rd expansion in a row.

There has been a very obvious pattern for the release of raid content over the last 3 expansions:

  • The first tier of the expansion features a large number of unique raid bosses, spread out through multiple raid instances.
  • The middle tier(s) feature less raid bosses in less raid instances and are current for a shorter amount of time.
  • The last tier is a single raid instance and is current for a very long time before the next expansion is released.

Unless some major changes in priorities and allocation of resources has taken place in Mists, I’m anticipating these trends will continue and we’ll again be in the final tier for much longer than anybody wants to be.

When thinking about the ideal amount of time to spend in one raid tier before the next is introduced, we really need to consider how many encounters are in that tier. Let’s take a look at the amount of time each tier lasted and compare the length of time to the number of encounters available:

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) 
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)
Tier 14 (4.75 months, 32 encounters – 6.7 encounters/month)

*I’m counting heroic versions of bosses as their own encounters, and have not included world bosses or the bosses in VoA/TB*

I think that everyone can agree that 1 year in ICC and 10 months in Dragon Soul was way too long. By comparison, Ulduar and Tier 14 were current for far too short a time. I think a good ratio for boss fights to months spent in a tier is around 4:1. That’s about 1 encounter per week. The raid tiers that are around this ratio (Tiers 7 and 11) are the ones that made me feel neither rushed, nor like I was sitting around waiting for new content for an inordinate amount of time.

Raid tier release timing could be much better. Just because PTR testing is complete, doesn’t mean you need to release the next raid content patch immediately. You can hold something back. Slow down the release of the first couple tiers (but keep working on the next!) so we don’t have to spend a year in the last one. Just imagine how much more enjoyable raiding in Wrath could have been if the release schedule had been just a little bit different. Spending 6 months in Naxx, 6 months in Ulduar and only 9 months in ICC certainly would have made my raid time in Wrath more fulfilling and resulted in much less burnout at the end.

Putting an end to Tier 14 so soon is a bad idea.

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?