Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Preparing for 4.2

So we're officially done with our T11 goals. We've killed 12/12 normal, got the kills for all 12 in my team, and decided with the difficulty level of T11, there is no point in attempting to progress through heroic at this stage. We'll most likely come back for them in our T12 at some point.

So what's next? good question. So many options, so little time (PTR testing of firelands shows the clock is ticking).

Top prio is making sure we're 100% ready for firelands. I have 2 new raiders joining my team, and potentially one leaving. This means the newbies need to be trained up and geared (they have a lot of PvE experience, but are potentially green at PvE), and making sure they fit in with the rest of the team, both in terms of their skills, and socially.

So we're going to do a couple of farm runs to get them up to speed, and to get them some gearups (they've been farming hcs to do what they can, but nothing competes with 359 drops in the end).

Assuming there's some time left over, I'd like to take some time doing some old WOTLK achievements for the Glory of the Lich King raider Guild Edition. Currently we're just short Alone In the Darkness and Halion HC. Both should be a challenge, but with us being hideously overgeared for the encounters, they shouldn't be too hard.

The last option is just call a massive break until 4.2. Problem with that is we've had so much time off already, I think the risk here will be everyone gets out of practice (especially those that only log for raids). Also, by doing some farming to fill the last few slots of BiS gear, we'll be in the strongest possible position when 4.2 hits.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Robbed of an acheivement

So last night, to make things interesting, we decide to attempt some achievements as we reclear BWD. We managed the Omnitron acheivement Achieve-a-tron oneshot, so we decided to give the Maloriak acheivement a go : Aberrant Behavior.

Generally you pull 9 adds, and then 9 again, and after the second green phase, you push Phase2, and kill the boss. This ach requires you to allow 12 adds to spawn, keep your offtank alive long enough to make it to the first green phase, and then nuke them down asap, killing all of them within a 10 second window. We even used a bloodlust to be sure.

We managed this, all of our mods and acehievement tracking told us we were on target, but when we got the kill, nothing :(

Upon looking at logs, I saw the following :

First add died at 20:48:00.765 , last add died at 20:48:09.156 - that's a 8.391 second gap between the first and last add. Well within the 10 second window.

I'm sitting on 400ms, so that can't account for a 1.6 second gap. So I'd like to know what the hell just happened.

The raw log entries are below :

5/9 20:48:00.765 UNIT_DIED,0x0000000000000000,nil,0x80000000,0xF130A1E000000669,"Aberration",0xa48
5/9 20:48:02.656 UNIT_DIED,0x0000000000000000,nil,0x80000000,0xF130A1E000000663,"Aberration",0xa48
5/9 20:48:02.656 UNIT_DIED,0x0000000000000000,nil,0x80000000,0xF130A1E00000066C,"Aberration",0x10a48
5/9 20:48:03.875 UNIT_DIED,0x0000000000000000,nil,0x80000000,0xF130A1E000000670,"Aberration",0xa48
5/9 20:48:05.671 UNIT_DIED,0x0000000000000000,nil,0x80000000,0xF130A1E000000675,"Aberration",0xa48
5/9 20:48:06.015 UNIT_DIED,0x0000000000000000,nil,0x80000000,0xF130A1E000000664,"Aberration",0xa48
5/9 20:48:06.796 UNIT_DIED,0x0000000000000000,nil,0x80000000,0xF130A1E00000066B,"Aberration",0xa48
5/9 20:48:07.234 UNIT_DIED,0x0000000000000000,nil,0x80000000,0xF130A1E000000671,"Aberration",0xa48
5/9 20:48:07.234 UNIT_DIED,0x0000000000000000,nil,0x80000000,0xF130A1E000000674,"Aberration",0xa48
5/9 20:48:07.921 UNIT_DIED,0x0000000000000000,nil,0x80000000,0xF130A1E00000066A,"Aberration",0xa48
5/9 20:48:08.000 UNIT_DIED,0x0000000000000000,nil,0x80000000,0xF130A1E000000667,"Aberration",0xa48
5/9 20:48:09.156 UNIT_DIED,0x0000000000000000,nil,0x80000000,0xF130A1E000000668,"Aberration",0xa48

Monday, May 9, 2011

Second clear

My raid team is always based on more than 10 people. A set 10 man team never works, since a single person having rl drama, line issues, power failure, and the entire raid falls apart. So you try organise some kind of sub/rotation setup, and balance progression around keeping everyone up to date in terms of both gear and knowledge of kills.

This brings me to one of the parts of raid leading that I enjoy the most. Now that we've killed Nef, we're doing a reclear of all bosses to plug the holes of those that missed kills for whatever reason. It's part of how I keep things fair, and keep everyone involved and loyal to the team.

As selfish and manipulative as that might sound, a "leave no man behind" policy is quite simply one of the best ways to encourage everyone to stick around. If everyone is going to get the kills and drops they need, why should you move? If anything, you get the kill without having to put up with the 159 nef wipes, for example.

Chogall took us a few weeks to kill last time, and Alakir was close on a month. We killed both last night without much hassle, with raids organised around those that needed the kills, rather than a perfect raid makeup.

I even included my co-gm resto druid in the chogall kill, even though thanks to work issues he hasn't been able to raid in a while, and so he was both undergeared and a little rusty on tacts. That said, he kicked the asses of both myself and my resto shaman, going to show once again that skill >> gear.

All in all, I'm very happy with my raid team at the moment. They pushed through some seriously taxing content, and are now dedicated to making sure that no one is left behind. We'll all be on even footing when T12 hits, which puts us in a very good position to hit Firelands hard right from the first week.

Tonight we reclear BWD and head for the second Nef kill, finishing the reclear for acheivements. After that, who knows. I'd like to take a look at a HC boss or two, but it all depends on who's willing. I know a lot of raiders are pretty worn out from the wiping on alakir and Nef, and a break until T12 makes more sense.

I also have two new healers coming into the raid team shortly, and both will require gearing and some rading practice before I drop them into the Firelands deep end. A more social reclear of T11 content would probably make more sense for that.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Tier 12 Feral first impressions

So wowheadnews.com and mmo-champion.com just released T12 set bonuses. As always, I open them up with a thought of "let's see how blizz gives cats great set bonuses and bears terrible ones this time".

To give some background, this is what T11 looks like :

# (2) Set: Increases the periodic damage done by your Rake and Lacerate abilities by 10%.

# (4) Set: Each time you use Mangle (Cat) you gain a 1% increase to attack power for 30 sec stacking up to 3 times, and the duration of your Survival Instinct ability is increased by 50%.

Lacerate is massively frontloaded, i.e. most of it's dmg and threat is on application, not the ticks. Also, unlike pre cata, we don't keep a full stack up. We keep resetting it and stacking to 3 again. Simply put, the 2pc bonus is a joke.

The 4pc is ok, but since SI has a 3m cooldown, it's unlikely to have a massive impact in my opinion. More to the point, in order to get 4pc, you have to take a few t11 peices with haste on, rather than items with more appropriate bear stats, like [Poison Protocol Pauldrons], [Morrie's Waywalker Wrap], [Double Attack Handguards], or [Tsanga's Helm]. The passive bonus from those stats outweighs the 4pc by miles.

Anyway, I digress. The purpose of this post is to highlight the new T12 bonuses :

* Feral 2 Pieces - Your attacks with Mangle, Maul, and Shred deal 10% additional damage as Fire damage over 4 sec.
* Feral 4 Pieces - Your finishing moves have a 20% chance per combo point to extend the duration of Berserk by 2 sec and your Barkskin ability grants an additional 10% chance to dodge for 12 sec.

The 2pc is a really nice threat increase for bears on single target... but the 4pc is just GODLY. Dodge is quite simply our best stat other than agility (which includes dodge), so I couldn't have come up with a better bonus if I tried.

On top of the theorycrafting bonuses (which is the most important thing, after all. stats > looks), the firelands theme of all of the set bonuses is also mind-blowingly cool.

Unless T12 items have truly horrific stats, I'm going to be forced to get 4pc at all costs. Plain and simple.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Nefarian down

Bloody finally. At one point someone went through worldoflogs and counted around 160 wipes. No doubt we were closer to 200 now.

In the end, two things radically changed the fight :

(1) Adding an additional crackle at the end of P1.
(2) The 4.1 nerf, which made a P2 crackle possible at long last.

Both of these, however, were not without their challenges.

The P1 crackle has to be timed PERFECTLY. As the 3rd P1 crackle results in Ony exploding and wiping the raid (which never happened to us, for the record), you need to essentially dps Nef to just over 70%, Ony to about 2-3%, then quickly push Nef under 70%, then kill Ony. Crackle has a 5s cast time, so you have that much time to get your 5 dps + your Ony tank to do enough dps to kill her.

Any earlier, Ony goes boom. Any later, and you don't have enough time to heal up before P2 starts. We had a few attempts where we pushed Nef over as he was running to the middle, but it was too chaotic trying to get to our pillars and trying to heal everyone up before the magma and shadowflame barrage damage started rolling in.

When done right, you push Nef over, kill Ony within the 5s window, and have time to heal everyone to around 90% before the magma starts to rise.

Then comes the P2 crackle. The 15% nerf to shadowflame barrage in 10 man really helped here. The reason we haven't done one in P2 before is simple. All the tacts say "when the whole raid is stable". Well, we never had such a point. Specifially one of our platforms was always all over the place. I realised recently why. It's shadowflame damage, which acts on the lowest of your shadow/fire resistences. We had a shadow resist up from our priest, but that platform was missing a fire resist (the paladin and shaman healers had their platforms covered).

In order to get around this, we switched the raid so that platform had the priest healer, and our 2 tanks, who both popped cooldowns for the crackle. throw in a bear tank tranquility, and it felt much easier than expected. As long as the priest was topped up, and both tanks were at least on 50%, the crackle didn't kill anyone. Heal up after, and it's done.

The next challenge was the timer on P2. P2 ends when all 3 adds die, but there is also a timer. If you hit the timer, P3 starts, but whatever adds are still up, don't go anywhere. So we had to balance Nef DPS with killing the adds, essentially pushing Nef as low as possible before killing the adds right around the time the timer ran out. You start P2 at just under 70% (thanks to the 3rd P1 crackle), and have to get him to just over 50% before the phase ends. On our kill I think he was around 53%.

Finally, the reason why this is necessary. P3 has a soft enrage in the form of fire that spawns faster and faster on your offtank, who is running around the room like a mad thing. The less health you have to burn through in P3, the better. Shaving 20% off what we needed to do turned our 13-17% wipes into a kill. Plain and simple.

After just over a month of wiping, it took a nerf (I call it a fix, since 10 man is overtuned at the moment) and a change of tact, and we did it in two nights. I guess that goes to show just how tenacious my raiders are. Yes we got some pretty severe burnout, people were snapping at each other etc, but in the end we held together and got it done, and I'm one damn proud raid leader this morning :)