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Posts with tag Hard-mode

Night elf priest iron-mans to level 90 with no greens, no talents, and no deaths

Night elf priest ironmans to level 90 with no greens, no talents, and no deaths
It's a world first for night elf priest Lyssan of Vek'linash (US), who has bypassed death, gearing, talents -- all the conveniences of modern-day Azeroth -- to hit level 90 in the player-created WoW Ironman Challenge. A report like this would normally include the winner's class specialization and gearing, but not for this player, yet the Ironman's brutal ruleset prohibits not only those basics but also death itself.

That's right: If you die during the WoW Ironman Challenge, you re-roll. Period.

Here's a look at the grim core rules of the challenge:
  • No items equipped other than white or gray items.
  • No heirlooms.
  • No talent points -- no specialization. You may train class abilities.
  • No professions, primary or secondary, other than First Aid.
  • No food or water above vendor-quality white items.
  • No groups -- no BGs, no instances, no raids, no quest groups. No guilds.
  • No enchants, scrolls, potions, elixirs, or glyphs.
  • No outside financial or equipment assistance (including gold or bags from other characters).
  • The Big One: If you die, ever, you delete that character and start over at level 1.
The next closest participant in the Mists leg of this event is currently level 87. Kripparrian, the player-run hard-mode competition's former title-holder in Cataclysm at level 85, does not appear to have leveled in Mists of Pandaria.

We'll have a full interview with the triumphant Lyssan next week, after she takes a well-earned holiday rest! (And if it were me, I think I'd go out and die a few times, just for sheer relief ...)

Filed under: News items

Raid Rx: Healing heroic Morchok

Every week, Raid Rx will help you quarterback your healers to victory! Your host is Matt Low, the grand poohbah of World of Matticus and a founder of Plus Heal, a discussion community for healers of all experience levels and interests. Catch his weekly podcast on healing, raiding and leading, the Matticast.

The recent nerf to Dragon Soul with the release of patch 4.3.2 means more players are now within striking distance of Morchok on heroic modes. He's a boss that serves as an execution check for your raiding group more than anything else. If your raid group mastered the art of healing through him on normal, then it should have no problem doing it again on heroic.

Just be prepared to do it twice.

The biggest hard mode change is that Morchok clones himself. His clone has the exact same abilities as Morchok prime, except the timing will be off. Your raid will be splitting in two and pulling the two bosses away from each other. You can envision the fight as two pseudo 10-man groups fighting (or two 5-mans, if you're in a 10-man raiding group).

Come into the raid with six to seven healers, if you're a 25-man raiding group. Actually, I'd consider bringing seven if it's the very first time. For 10-man, it is not uncommon for groups to bring in up to four healers for the first time. You'll need them, due to the amount of damage being dished out to the raid. Ideally, try to insist that when your raid leader splits the raid into two groups, the players will show up in your raid frames in different groups. Having all of the players in group 1 and 2 on one side with groups 3 and 4 on the other can be beneficial. The side that is tanking Morchok is the one that could benefit from the extra healer, as it seems more damage is done on that side.

I strongly recommend bringing in tanks with their four-piece bonuses, because they will be an incredible asset.

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Filed under: Raid Rx (Raid Healing)

Optional boss modes making a comeback in Mists of Pandaria?

Kaivax hit the forums to answer a player's question about Ulduar and talk about the fondness the dungeon has retained amongst the playerbase and where the optional boss modes have gone. Back during the first half of Wrath of the Lich King, "choose your own difficulty" encounters and in-fight hard mode triggers were staples of the encounters in Ulduar and the Obsidian Sanctum. When Trial of the Crusader launched, Blizzard implemented the UI-based difficulty toggle. Players have expressed desire to return to the old days, feeling that the toggle method is just too robotic when encounters could be designed around cool difficulty-swap mechanics. In his post, Kaivax hints that the design teams are thinking about bringing back these mechanics for some fights in the upcoming expansion, Mists of Pandaria.

Rather than selecting a normal or hard mode toggle before pulling an encounter, Ulduar raid groups were tasked with completing different objectives during the encounter or defeating the boss mechanics in a different order to activate hard mode. Famously, players would press a large red button behind Mimiron labelled "DO NOT PUSH THIS BUTTON," activating the encounter and a rather angry Titanic watcher. Other fights during Wrath of the Lich King such as Freya and Sartharion featured a "choose your own difficulty" mechanic wherein the player's choices before the encounter increased or decreased the boss' overall difficulty. Harder combinations of abilities would yield more impressive items.

Will Mists of Pandaria bring back our beloved "choose your difficulty" encounters and in-fight hard mode triggers? I know I'd like to get another Sartharion-style encounter, especially with mount rewards like the original provided.

Read the full blue post behind the break below.

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Filed under: Raiding, Wrath of the Lich King, Mists of Pandaria

Raid Rx: Preparing for heroic Firelands

Every week, Raid Rx will help you quarterback your healers to victory! Your host is Matt Low, the grand poohbah of World of Matticus and a founder of Plus Heal, a discussion community for healers of all experience levels and interests. Catch his weekly podcast on healing, raiding and leading, the Matticast.

After the earlier Firelands nerf, a number of guilds that had been struggling on some of the later bosses (Majordomo Staghelm and Ragnaros, for instance) have either cleared it out or are extremely close to doing so. With tier 13 content (and Deathwing) looming soon, it makes sense for leaders to maximize the equipment for raid groups. Healers are definitely not an exception. As a healer, you'll find that challenges will ... heat up.

Anyway, this week you'll find a list of things you should know and keep in mind as you and your raid group start making headway into the next level of Firelands.

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Filed under: Raid Rx (Raid Healing)

Drama Mamas: Returning to hard-mode raiding after a break

Drama Mamas Lisa Poisso and Robin Torres are experienced gamers and real-life mamas -- and just as we don't want our precious babies to be the ones kicking and wailing on the floor of the checkout lane next to the candy, neither do we want you to become known as That Guy on your realm.

Bench-warming is no fun when you're anxious to play, but how do you get off the bench if you aren't able to practice? For people returning to raiding after a long absence or just trying raiding for the first time, WoW Rookie has your back. But what if you know the strats and the stats, but just want to avoid any spats caused by fighting for raid spots?
My problem isn't much like the normal, in that not drama has really occurred it more of I would like advice in how to not cause any drama.

First off, I'll start with what I feel is the core of my problem. I am the type of player who, while I can research and understand a fight and its mechanics, I need to experience it a few times before I comfortably do max DPS and survivability. Once I do get it, I get decent DPS and rarely die -- probably not the best numbers for my class, but I definitely can pull my weight.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Guilds, Raiding, Drama Mamas

Breakfast Topic: How do you prefer to access "hard modes"?

This Breakfast Topic has been brought to you by Seed, the AOL guest writer program that brings your words to WoW Insider's pages.

Ever since Wrath of the Lich King, Blizzard has toyed around with its concept of "heroic" raiding. What first started out as a mere distinction between 10- and 25-player boss fights eventually became a difference in difficulty that was available in both raid sizes. It iterated further from Ulduar's various "hard mode" triggers to a simple UI element that toggled the "Grand" in and out of Trial of the Crusader. In ICC, Blizzard seemed to finally settle on how it wanted things to work.

Heroic mode is still relegated to a UI element, but it can at least be changed on a boss-by-boss basis, which puts it a step above the Argent Tournament's four raid lockouts. I must say, though, I do miss the creative methods of triggering hard modes in Ulduar. Leaving up the towers before Flame Leviathan or killing XT's heart to throw him into a new phase were clever and engaging ways to change up fights.

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Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Guest Posts

Lady Sinestra, Paragon, and the cutting edge

Yesterday, <Paragon> got the world first kill of Lady Sinestra, the hardmode-only encounter in Bastion of Twilight. As you might have expected for a boss that only two guilds in the world have even reached, the encounter was not as well tested as it might otherwise have been, according to <Paragon> themselves. Today, in response to a forum thread about that, Zarhym chimed in with a response discussing the issue.

Zarhym - Did Paragon enjoy their journey?
I do think you have to take the tone of that post in the context in which it was written. Because Sinestra is a super-hardcore boss, they were pretty much the first ones to really push her mechanics to the limits. It's easy to see from their post that they were understandably frustrated. Not only were they trying to learn the mechanics and develop strategies, but we were watching closely, hotfixing several different issues as they stumbled across them. This meant they had to adapt to the changes we were making on the spot in addition to figuring out how to kill her -- and she's definitely no pushover.

We do wish it would have been a cleaner fight for them, but we really appreciate them pushing the limits of hardcore raiding, and testing us to design new and compelling challenges. :)


Basically, what this means is very interesting for guilds and players who want to push content as hard and fast as possible. It means when you step into these fights that require unlocking and are intended for the best of the best, you're effectively going to have to accept that with great selectivity comes great unknowns.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, News items, Raiding, Cataclysm

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

Not all fights require a hard mode

Hard modes are some of the most popular encounters in Wrath of the Lich King. They grant better loot and extra rewards like mounts and rare titles, especially for specific server firsts. However, I'm of the opinion that ever since Ulduar, we've kind of lost sight of how the hard mode encounters should work and have instead just started making everything have a hard mode.

Frankly, the Gunship encounter in ICC, while fun, shouldn't have a hard mode. It's not really even hard; it's just free iLevel 277 gear for turning on a toggle. I blame Trial of the Crusader -- and specifically, having an entire separate raid lockout for Trial of the Grand Crusader -- for this. I realize I may be on the losing side of this divide, but I really don't think every single fight needs a hard mode. Some fights, sure. The four wing bosses of ICC, absolutely. The Lich King? Heck, it could be argued that Arthas should have taken a page from Algalon's book and only had a hard mode, or maybe Sindragosa should have been a hard-mode-only fight instead of a wing boss, and you only get to fight her after the Lich King is dead in some sort of doomsday scenario where she's chained up by Arthas and breaks free to destroy Azeroth in case of his demise.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Raiding

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: Verge of collapse


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.

If ever there were a time for guild-leader or raid-leader burnout to set in, we are living in it. We are at the end of perhaps the most challenging six months of raiding content in WoW's history -- not in terms of its difficulty, but in its sheer potential for drama and member loss.

First we had the half-hearted tier that consisted entirely of Trial of the Crusader, a one-room raid that took all of an hour to clear, and Onyxia, a well-loved but well-worn raid boss that was also a quick, and often boring, clear. Keeping raiders motivated during what felt like an endless four months wasn't easy. Many raid leaders were pulling out their hair trying to fill slots.

For the most serious guilds, ToC was an absolute nightmare. Not because the content was itself difficult, but because of the rewards offered for clearing the zone without a single wipe, or even a single player death. Some very good players cracked under this kind of pressure. In a situation where one person's mistake -- not to mention disconnects, lag, or other external factors -- can quickly cause a death or a wipe and cost the entire raid access to loot, offering these achievements seemed to me like Blizzard was going out of their way to cause drama.

Icecrown Citadel was supposed to be our savior, but instead it brought new and unanticipated problems.

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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

Raid Rx: Healing heroic Lord Jaraxxus


Every week, Raid Rx will help you quarterback your healers to victory! Your host is Matt Low, the grand poobah of World of Matticus and a founder of No Stock UI, a WoW blog for all things UI, macro, and addon related. This week, we challenge Lord Jaraxxus!.

This is the second boss in Trial of the Crusader. After you healed through the gate bosses that comprise the Northrend Beasts, Lord Jaraxxus is the next step.

My raid group managed to get this demon lord down this past week. We got the 10-man version down several weeks ago but the 25-man version eluded us for some time. Compared to Northrend Beasts, this boss should feel relatively easier. Your raid will spend less time learning Lord Jaraxxus than the previous boss.

Let's check out the healing side of things, shall we?

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Filed under: Druid, Paladin, Priest, Shaman, Raiding, Guides, Raid Rx (Raid Healing)

Ready Check: Mimiron


Ready Check is a twice-a-week 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. T

Welcome back to Ready Check. We took some time last week to take a look at the changes that patch 3.2 brought to raiding in Azeroth, but now we're back to burning through Ulduar. Today, we'll take a look at Mimiron, and then start working on the final portions of the instance with General Vezax.

So far, you've wrecked the Flame Leviathan. You euthanized Razorscale. You gave a cold shower to Ignis the Furnace Master. You marvelled at Deconstructor. When it came to Kologarn, you damned well shall pass. The Assembly of Iron said court was out of session, and Auriaya and her small legion of adds gave you no pause. You've asked Hodir, "Who's your Daddy?" You've entered the mountain, and tackled Thorim.

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

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