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Posts with tag Hard-Modes

The best fight from Wrath of the Lich King

Mimiron
Last week there were a lot of calls in my "Best fight from Burning Crusade" article for Mimiron, Yogg-Saron, or Arthas himself to be the subject of this article. I had to smile at them because, well, they guessed it. I'll admit that, as a healer, I was tempted to pick Valythria, but I don't think I could really do that in good conscience. Valythria might have been one of my favorite fights, but the best? No, not really. My choice for the best fight from Wrath of the Lich King? Mimiron.

Mimiron is a four-phase tier eight fight with some complex mechanics and a good deal of entertaining humor to it. In my opinion, the Ulduar raid was the crown jewel of Wrath of the Lich King, and Mimiron was one of the most fun and challenging bosses in it.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Wrath of the Lich King

WoW Archivist: The triumph and tragedy of Ulduar

Windows in Ulduar
WoW Archivist explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold?

With patch 5.2 on the PTR, everyone is talking about Mists' next tier of raiding content. If the buzz seems more intense than usual, it might be because of the hints that Ghostcrawler and others at Blizzard have dropped comparing the Throne of Thunder to Wrath's Ulduar raid.

Perhaps it's too soon to revisit Ulduar in an Archivist column. After all, the raid went live less than four years ago. I don't care. I want to talk about how amazing this place was, how Blizzard still managed to screw up such a good thing, and why we should all be excited for an Ulduar-style raid in 5.2.

Put the rose-colored glasses away here, folks. You don't need them -- Ulduar really was that fantastic.

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

Shifting Perspectives: Heroic ICC for balance druids -- Plagueworks and Frostwing Halls

Every Friday, Shifting Perspectives explores issues affecting balance druids and those who group with them. This week, we are exploring two of the four wings in Heroic ICC. Be prepared to face some of the most challenging content the game has to offer, folks -- it only gets real from here on out.

Here we are -- it's another week and another great time at the office. Well, the office is merely an internet myth, but my room is comfortable enough as is; it even has a sweet "Life's a Beach" coffee mug and everything. Last week, we talked about the first two wings of heroic ICC, the Lower Spire and the Crimson Hall; this week, we'll continue with the next two wings. Unfortunately, I won't be able to cover heroic Lich King since, well, I haven't yet been able to complete the encounter, and I think it would be remiss of me to try and give out information on an encounter that I'm still working on. If you have any questions on the Lich King encounter, I'd be more than happy to talk shop about it, so just send an email or leave a comment and we can get to it; otherwise, it won't be something that's likely to appear in this article.

Last week, I forgot to issue a fair warning, and for that I do apologize. Everything that I discuss here is my opinion based upon how my guild has completed these encounters and the things that I have experienced while doing them. There are multiple ways to complete every encounter, and your guild may have a completely different strategy depending on group composition that works for you. This doesn't make either you or me any less wrong, just different. That's the beautiful thing about WoW; even in the rigid isolation of PvE encounters, there are always multiple methods to deal with every encounter or boss ability depending on the resources that a guild has available to them. I cannot promise that the methods I describe will work for your guild, but I will try and offer as many different options as I possible can and allow you to make the best choice for yourself.

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Filed under: Druid, (Druid) Shifting Perspectives

Shifting Perspectives: Heroic ICC for balance druids -- Lower Spire and Crimson Hall

Every Friday, Shifting Perspectives explores issues affecting balance druids and those who group with them. This week, we are exploring two of the four wings in Heroic ICC. Be prepared to face some of the most challenging content the game has to offer, folks -- it only gets real from here on out.

I know, I know: No one cares about ICC any more ... Everything is all about Cataclysm ... So why bother talking about it? That's far from the truth, though. ICC still matters to many people. However, if you happen to be of the more pragmatic sort, then hear me out for a little bit. Most of the server-first and world-first kills may have already been claimed, but there is always loot to be had, gear that can be helpful for either soloing things now or leveling in the expansion. Beyond simple gear, heroic ICC is simply fun. People have argued that hard modes aren't quite the same as a truly difficult raid encounter because they are the same as the standard encounters -- perhaps true to a point, but heroic modes are really fun when they are done correctly. Heroic Putricide feels like a completely different encounter when done on heroic mode and is extremely fun.

Perhaps this issue is a little bit late in coming, and for that I apologize -- but it's better late than never, aye? To start with, the first order of business is to ensure that your guild is prepared to go against heroic encounters. The ICC buff can be very intoxicating to some players, and it may make you feel more prepared than you really are for these encounters. Perhaps, in some cases, you are, and perhaps in others, you are not. Not all heroic encounters are created equal; some are far more difficult than others. Since this issue will deal with the opening Lower Spire and the Blood wing, the three encounters you'd want to start with would be Marrowgar, Gunship and Blood Princes; Deathwhisper, Saurfang and Blood Queen Lana'thel would be the three more difficult encounters in these two sectors.

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Filed under: Druid, (Druid) Shifting Perspectives

The great gear explosion

Gear is fairly easy to get at this point in the expansion life cycle of Wrath. That's not a flaw. That's actually how things should be: there shouldn't be too many artificial limitations keeping you from jumping into the newest content and getting a chance to at least see, if not down it. With the rise of 10 and 25 man versions of every raid and heroic modes, however, we are looking at something fairly unique to this expansion, a somewhat drastic power curve to gear scaling.

This isn't a new idea, and it's not one Blizzard themselves haven't commented on. It's one thing to be aware of it in a general way, however, and another to sit back and look at it. That's a comparison of itemization on select 2H weapons from the first crafted epic (equivalent to a Naxx 10 drop) up to hard mode Ulduar 25, which puts it squarely in the middle of the current expansion cycle. What you're looking at is a steady gain that leads to a nearly 60 DPS increase between the starting weapon (Titansteel Destroyer) and the last one compared (Voldrethar).

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm

Officers' Quarters: The A team question


Every Monday Scott Andrews contributes Officers' Quarters, a column about the ins and outs of guild leadership. He is the author of The Guild Leader's Handbook, available this spring from No Starch Press.

The "A Team" -- in WoW, it's not a bunch of guys in a van who help people by . . . shooting other people. Rather, it's your best players grouped together to the exclusion of other guild members. Most guilds don't have the numbers to fill two 25-player teams, so this issue usually relates to 10-player runs. The forming of a 10-player A team can be riddled with drama. This week's e-mail asks whether allowing an A team is the right choice.

I enjoy reading your perspective on guild leadership. I'm hoping you can give us some ideas on balancing progression versus inclusion.

We are an established raiding guild that works on the top tier of content. While we are not a guild that makes server first kills, we steadily progress through the content and see hard/heroic modes on 25 man difficulty. Our raiding core is pretty solid, although there are levels of skill, from very high to adequate. We typically complete the ten man content, and use the ten mans as a base to gain experience on the twenty five mans.

Our problem mainly rests on the makeup of our ten man groups. One school wants to have the maximum number of people get in the ten man groups. This school spreads our best players among multiple groups. All of the groups have some success, but because there are weaker players included, these groups usually hit a wall on harder fights (Heroic Anub or the Wing Bosses of ICC). There is a lot of frustration on the part of our best players when this happens.

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Filed under: Officers' Quarters (Guild Leadership)

Shifting Perspectives: Why effective health needs to die, part 2


Every week, Shifting Perspectives explores issues affecting druids and those who group with them. This week, we examine the issue of effective health in more depth.

We've discussed in the previous column why effective health is important; here, we're going to discuss why it's not as important as you might think if you had nothing beyond the collective opinion of the Tanking forum to go on. While this has something to do with the mob mentality of the forums themselves, it has more to do with how the concept of effective health isn't usually placed in context. Tank death on hard modes is quickly attributed to EH discrepancies, with rather less discussion on encounter mechanics, inappropriate gear, or that great but frequently unacknowledged bugaboo -- player error. It is for this that I say effective health needs to die.

What is effective health?


I neglected to put some hard numbers on this in the last article, but calculating base effective health is actually pretty simple. It's your health as modified by the damage you'll take after armor contribution (AC), or Health / (1 - AC%).

A 50,000 health tank with 25% armor contribution has 66,666.67 effective health (50,000 / 0.75).

A 50,000 health tank with 50% armor contribution has 100,000 effective health (50,000 / 0.5).

A 50,000 health tank with 75% armor contribution (the maximum functional AC) has 200,000 effective health (50,000 / .25).

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Filed under: Druid, Analysis / Opinion, Features, Raiding, Classes, (Druid) Shifting Perspectives

Patch 3.3 PTR: Icecrown to introduce new hard mode toggles


There'll be a new way to activate hard modes in Icecrown, according to Bornakk. After the somewhat confusing four modes for the same instance that was introduced in Patch 3.2, which redefined "normal" and "heroic" for 10- and 25-man raids, Blizzard is making it easy for players to toggle hard modes for the bosses in Icecrown. The current plan is to make boss hard mode toggles part of the UI rather than through game mechanics such as in Ulduar. This means that players running Icecrown can switch hard modes on and off for bosses throughout the run. As Bornakk states, players "can switch it back and forth as much as you like. Encounter 1 on hard, 2 on normal, 3 on hard, 4 on normal, etc."

It's also interesting to note that Blizzard plans to scale up the Emblems found in older dungeons to Emblems of Triumph the way Emblems of Conquest are dropped in raids now. Newer, higher version emblems will drop in Icecrown, allowing advanced raiders access to the newest gear. This emblem upgrades will allow players to better catch up on gear and consequently explore Icecrown. Of course, Bornakk reminds everyone of the caveat that "Things can still change."
Patch 3.3 is the last major patch of Wrath of the Lich King. With the new Icecrown Citadel 5-man dungeons and 10/25-man raid arriving soon, patch 3.3 will deal the final blow to the Arthas. WoW.com's Guide to Patch 3.3 will keep you updated with all the latest patch news.

Filed under: Patches, Blizzard, Instances, Raiding

Guildwatch: Have a nice day baddie


I live a good part of my life on the Internet -- I work on the Internet, and throughout the years, I've learned to play quite a bit on the Internet. So I realize that once I post something everyone can see, it's not necessarily mine any more -- once I share it with the public at large, I can't really lay much claim to it being mine and mine alone. That said, I understand Ravenmeow's problem above -- Deathlymorg of Endless Fury on Nagrand purportedly stole her tips off of her guild's website and reposted them (without credit, we assume) on his own. Sure, they were on the Internet, and nothing you really post on the Internet, especially in a forum, can ever be locked down again. But I see the complaint, especially when Deathlymorg isn't even the least bit grateful for the information, not to mention that he is pretty condescending to boot.

That drama and much more in this week's Guildwatch (which you really shouldn't go reposting in full on your guild's forums, but hey, can I really stop you?), along with the usual downed and recruiting notices as well. To share something from your guild (or a bit of drama you've noticed elsewhere), send us an email at guildwatch@wow.com. Read on for more.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Guilds, Odds and ends, Instances, Humor, Raiding, Guildwatch

Ghostcrawler: There will (not) be at least 31 bosses in Icecrown

Ghostcrawler has posted an interesting little hint at the next patch (we know of) headed to the game. In response to a discussion about "tanking niches," he talks about Icecrown Citadel over on the forums, and just happens to mention that people might think of tanks as waiting outside until "boss 4, 17 and 31 (yes, IC is that big)." 31 bosses? More like Icecrowded, am I right?

Blackrock Depths is the largest 5-man in the game, if not the largest instance, and it boasts over 40 bosses (that's mostly counting encounters, though -- you wouldn't count The Seven, for example, as seven different bosses), including lots and lots of optional bosses and even a holiday boss. Ulduar, by comparison, has about 14, and Karazhan is about that same size (though that depends on how you count random bosses, like the Opera Event). No matter how you slice it, 31 raid bosses is a ton of bosses to go through -- Icecrown could be a return to a really epic, large-scale instance.

Of course, there will likely be wings involved (Naxxramas' Quarters have worked out pretty well, I think), and with the new changes to raid lockouts, Blizzard no longer needs to squeeze the raiding experience into an average of two or three nights a week (which is what it seemed like they were usually aiming for before). If yours is the kind of guild that likes to clear everything in one night, though, you might want to start freeing up some time now.

Update: GC now says he didn't mean the instance would have 31 bosses, he was just throwing in some ridiculous number to prove a point. Our question: why did he say "yes, IC is that big" if he didn't mean it would be that big?

Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Instances, Bosses, NPCs, Wrath of the Lich King

Hard modes and raider morale

Karl, writing over on the WoW Livejournal, has an interesting set of thoughts about hard modes and just how they work with raiders' morale. Hard modes are designed to give raiders something extra -- if you've conquered the normal modes of raids like Ulduar, hard modes are put in there by Blizzard to offer you some extra risk for a corresponding reward. But as they've become more and more routine, some raids are taking on the hard modes even before they've cleared the whole instance, leading up to a night of wiping on early hard modes, and then wiping on later progression. And wiping all night is never good for any raid's morale.

Of course, this is one of the causes for the way the Crusaders' Coliseum in patch 3.2 is designed: instead of having both hard and normal modes constrained to one instance, you can run a 10 or 25-man instance in normal mode all the way, leaving the Heroic mode open when you're ready to do some wiping.

But then again, think about what the mindset is here -- players are throwing themselves on early bosses' hard modes even when they haven't beaten the end bosses yet. It seems like most raids will take any opportunity they get for more loot, no matter how tough it is, and that's what's leading to all of this "glass chewing" Karl is talking about. Even if Blizzard gives players the option to run a normal instance without worrying about hard modes, won't players still just run Heroic anyway, for the better gear?

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Filed under: Patches, Items, Analysis / Opinion, Instances, Raiding, Bosses

Patch 3.2 Druid changes


3.2 approaches! Sort of. The PTR itself isn't up yet (at least, not as I write this), but nonetheless, 3.2 approaches on little cat feet.

I'm going to examine the 3.2 PTR patch notes line by relevant line, just because there are several changes that impact Druids while not being class-specific. If you want a quick summary without being massively spoiled, Balance is getting a huge and welcome change to the functionality of Eclipse, Cats are getting bonked by the nerfbat, and PvP-Restos are really getting bonked by the nerfbat. Bears, well...not much is going to happen to bears this patch, which is a little demoralizing given the improvements being made to Pally tanks, but that's OK. We still have our, uh, amazing Tier 8 set bonuses and...um...the best -- sort of -- tanking cooldowns in, uh, the...uh...

...Oh, screw it, just stack the hell out of stamina and pray to the gods of RNG if your guild's dumb enough to try Ulduar on hard-mode. Congratulations; you have now done all you can possibly do to prepare yourself for modern tanking.

Sad lolbare is sad. But cough syrup for everybody! Is nise! Now let's take a look:

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Filed under: Druid, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, News items

Ready Check: Is Ulduar too easy?



Ready Check is a weekly column focusing on successful raiding for the serious raider. Hardcore or casual, Vault of Archavon or Ulduar, everyone can get in on the action and down some bosses. This week, we do some homework.

The long-awaited new instance has been live for almost two weeks now, and a lot of the excitement over first kills is waning. Everything Blizzard has thrown at us so far is dead, and even several of the hard-mode kills, nominally on a level with Sarth-3D, are beaten.

So, this leads us naturally on to the question - is Ulduar hard enough?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Raiding, Ready Check (Raiding)

GC: If you're OOM, tell your guildies to get out of the fire

Ghostcrawler did battle with the forumites this weekend, and the topic of discussion was the recent mana changes. Players are saying that the changes (including the BoW and Mana Spring change last week) are basically forcing them to bring more healers along to larger raids, and GC in return expounds on the raid balance that Blizzard is aiming for lately. Interestingly, it's not the 5 healers / 5 tanks / 15 DPS that you might think it would be -- Ghostcrawler says that if they aimed for that makeup, bringing more healers would often make the fights inconsequential.

He goes on to say that the way the fights are designed, you aren't supposed to run out of mana, as long as you're dodging the AoE and are geared up correctly. Making mistakes in gameplay digs into your mana reserves, and so when Blizzard nerfs mana regen, they aren't just trying to make things harder, they're trying to take away that extra breathing room that you get around errors. They don't want healers just healing through damage -- they want people trying to avoid it in the first place.

And, if guildies won't get out of the fire, and your healers keep running out of mana because of it, it's time to weed out the ranks a bit. Finally, GC adds what we've heard before: those looking for a tough battle in Ulduar likely won't find it right away -- the instance is designed to be only a little harder than Naxx. But the hard modes are where the difficulty will really ramp up. If short, says GC, if you don't have enough mana on the easy modes, it's not Blizzard's design: it's the way you and your guildies are geared and playing.

Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Instances, Raiding, Classes

Ulduar and Blizzard's "hard modes"

We're only a day into 2009, and we've already got an update on one of our predictions. Vaneras has appeared on the EU forums talking about Ulduar's difficulty level and he says that yes, it will make a PTR appearance, and yes, it will be hard, but probably not in the way that we'd expect. He says that Blizzard is pleased with the way the "Sartharion with no drakes" worked, so they're planning to expand on that idea in the upcoming raids, by including more "hard modes" and more achievements, with "an increase of reward level if successful."

So the odds are that we'll still see Ulduar's normal mode downed within days if not minutes on the live realms -- it won't actually be "hard" in the sense that the guilds with high level gear won't be able to plow right through it. But there will likely be multiple challenges within that are very hard, and achievements that will likely reward special gear or titles that will take guilds a while to do. This probably won't satisfy most of the really hardcore raiders, but we've been over this one -- Blizzard would rather have the majority of the playerbase play these raids, and since challenges and achievements don't take as much development time, that's what the minority of really hardcore players will get.

Of course, as with everything, we'll have to see how it works out -- Blizzard is clearly trying to make sure everyone coming to these raids finds what they're looking for in terms of a challenge. Ulduar itself might not be as hard as we predicted, but if Blizzard really ramps up the "hard modes" within the instance, it could be a while before we see anyone able to topple all of the challenges in there.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Raiding, Wrath of the Lich King

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