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Ready Check: Zul'Aman -- Getting your first bear

Ready Check is a weekly column focusing on successful raiding for the serious raider. Hardcore or casual, Kara or BT, everyone can get in on the action and down them some bosses. This week, a bear talks about... bears.

Since the introduction of Zul'Aman many raiding guilds have been fascinated by the time trial; defeat all four animal bosses within 45 minutes and the last prisoner will gift you with a scary-looking bear mount, plus the adoration of your entire server. This article will take you through preparing for, and succeeding at, the Zul'Aman timed run.

Okay, so you want to get a bear.

Perhaps there are ten people in your guild who, bored with farming or wiping, want a slightly different challenge to take up an evening or two a week. The end goal of getting a bear mount (or ten) is an incredibly fun one to aim for, but it's also a lot of hard work (provided you don't just want to pay 20,000 gold).

The first stage in collecting your very own bear cavalry is to assemble a good team. While you can put together a run with whichever guildies feel like going from week to week, we recommend at least starting with a fixed group that's optimised for success. As you become experienced at running the gauntlet, it won't matter quite as much if the team isn't static.

Read more →

Filed under: Tips, How-tos, Walkthroughs, Instances, Guides, Mounts, Ready Check (Raiding)

Getting your first bear: The boss fights

Akil'zon (Eagle)

If the patrol at the bottom of the steps is in your way, kill it; you'll have to kill it on the way to Nalorakk otherwise. On the gauntlet, AoE the eagles as soon as possible, then pull the Amani'shi Tempest as early as you can to stop the flow of birds.

On the boss: the offtank DPSes, have the raid move in towards the boss before he casts Electrical Storm to save running time. As with all bosses, blow your cooldowns, chain-chug pots and do everything you can to perform your best.

Nalorakk (Bear)

You can use Soothe Animal to bypass a bear pack; hug the left wall. Run forward as soon as possible. The pull before the boss is a tough one, so don't rush it.

On the boss: go all out (respecting threat): the troll form tank can DPS during bear phase.

Jan'Alai (Dragonhawk)

Don't let scouts summon reinforcements! This is the single biggest timesink we find on our runs. Stun, charge, root and kill them ASAP, yell on Vent if you see one, and learn their routes.

Spellsteal the Flame Casters (we sheep them if possible, due to the huge raid damage). The patrols of hawks and Amani'shi Trainers to the right can be avoided if your timing is right; have the entire raid hug and run up the stairs at once, and fight the pack at the base of the stairs in place.

On the boss: let your hatchers hatch one side at a time, it's hectic for the offtank but saves a lot of time. A paladin tank can help keep adds under control, but it's doable without. We found fire resistance gear on the offtank helped a little.

Halazzi (Lynx)

The second Lynx trash pull, a patrol, can be skipped -- as can the hut.

AoEing the lynx packs usually gets AoErs killed so your healers have to be on the ball; the stealthed packs can run straight for healers, so your tanks need to be ready to deal with it. Pull the patrols as soon as possible, including the one in Halazzi's room. If time is getting tight, you can pull the boss as the last trash mob dies.

On the boss: during spirit phase, DPS stays on the boss, as it's debuffed; the offtank can DPS the boss once aggro is solid on the spirit. Rinse and repeat until boss is dead.

Filed under: How-tos, Walkthroughs, Instances, Bosses, Guides, Mounts, Ready Check (Raiding)

Getting your first bear: Optimizing for speed

Optimizing for speed

You've run the instance before and maybe downed three bosses within the time limit without really trying. However, adding a fourth into that time is tough. There are various things you can do to speed up the run, both as a raid and individually:
  • Consumables. Using buff potions/flasks (including sharpening stones, scrolls, food, etc) should go without saying, as well as health/mana pots; drums also make a difference.
  • Be smart with downtime. Drink a little between pulls. Innervate the shadow priest as you approach a boss, and don't be afraid to pull without full mana or health.
  • Know the instance and don't be stupid. Getting reinforcements on the way to Jan'alai is simply a waste of time, as is running into patrols, over-aggroing, etc.
  • Don't linger over loot. Using group loot with need/pass (a designated disenchanter Greeds) speeds up loot considerably; have one assigned DPSer speak to the freed captive while the group moves on.
  • Communicate. Voice chat is great, and well-timed communication can turn around a wipe.
It really helps to get everyone into the right mindset before you begin, so go over these ground rules first. Make sure people know to bring consumables, and know the route you're taking. Encourage people to read up on the timed run, to watch videos and actually think about what they're going to be doing.

Okay, okay. Can we kill now?

The most logical kill order is Eagle, Bear, Dragonhawk, Lynx. You'll spend most of your time killing trash, so make sure your tanks' threat is top-notch, chainpull like mad and bypass as much as possible.

Our second run was videoed by one of our healers, and it's available here -- the download's large because of the length of the run. Screenshots from the video accompany the walkthrough below.

Filed under: Tips, How-tos, Walkthroughs, Instances, Guides, Mounts, Ready Check (Raiding)

Getting your first bear: The final analysis

Congratulations, you should now be the proud owners of your first bear!

Lessons from our bears

We learnt a few things from doing the bear runs, both individually and as a raid group -- it's a lot of fun to see how far you can be pushed.
  • Setups that look "okay" on paper don't cut it. The run's all about the group. You can bring one or two slightly dim-witted members along but it makes life harder for everyone else.
  • You need to have people who're fully awake for the whole run -- if your paladins suck at refreshing 10 minute blessings, if your melee love aggro, if your healer's prone to 5 minute afks, replace them.
  • Once the first set of bears are in their new homes, we found interest and quality of the runs dropped. Other groups have reported different things, so your mileage may vary, but all it needs is one enthusiastic person to put the next set of runs together.
  • The melee ring never drops from the third chest. Never.
Further reading

Especially if you're interested in group setup and the best speed runs out there, this Elitist Jerks forum thread is a goldmine of information and opinions. Gurgthock's video is also worth a watch. If you're not quite making the timer, looking at WWS reports can be a great help -- here's our second run, videoed above, to give you some idea (I'm Fog).

Finally, we'll leave you with these timeless words: Practice is perfect. There are plenty of stories of raid groups narrowly missing a bear, then coming back the next reset and having plenty of time left on the clock. Don't give up and you'll get there in the end!

Filed under: Tips, How-tos, Walkthroughs, Instances, Guides, Mounts, Ready Check (Raiding)

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