Raiding Spotlight: Argent Coliseum Strategy

4 08 2009

Every once in a while, I’ll try to take a detailed look at a specific element of the raiding game. Today in the spotlight: Argent Coliseum Strategy.

I rarely do strategy posts (and by rarely I mean this is the first one ever) but since the instance is so new and information on the coliseum bosses is scattered everywhere, I thought I’d do a quick run through of what I gleaned from watching Youtube videos of the encounters. I’ll be skipping the Northrend Beasts encounter because Matticus covered it better than I ever could here. Keep in mind some of this might be incorrect since it’s largely guesswork, but it’s all I’ve got at the moment and I’ll update later.

The Faction Champions (video link)

Remember the third boss of Magister’s Terrace? This looks similar, except instead of facing NPCs with crazy abilities, you’re matched up against NPCs of the classes you know and love, but of the opposing faction. They’re CC-able (but with diminishing returns, as in PvP). You have the option of CC-ing healers first and killing DPS or doing it vice-versa if you find yourself getting owned by the DPS.


  • They can CC you, so be ready with dispels. In 10-man, make sure you have dispels available for every kind of debuff.
  • You won’t always get the same champions (list of them here), I think, so as soon as they are visible in the coliseum figure out what classes you’re up against and set up a kill order.
  • Some more information can be found here and here.
  • Healers can all be interrupted and should have an interruptor assigned to them if they aren’t being CC’d.
  • My guild got best results from burning down the 3 healers right away and then moving on killing the most dangerous and least CC/able mobs.
  • Treat it like a 5v5 arena – CC liberally, pay attention to DRs and stay away from as much incidental damage as possible (there’s a fair amount of AoE that happens, such as Hellfire from the Warlock and Bladestorm from the Warrior).

Lord Jaraxxus (video link)

A big fire-centric Eredar guy. There’s a list of his abilities here, which you should read first since I’ll be referencing them by name. Should be tanked in the centre of the arena.


  • Summons Mistresses of Pain through creating Nether Portals. You’ll need an off-tank ready to pick them up. There’s an achievement linked to having two of these up when you kill the boss. They have their own skillset, the important ones of which are that they can leap towards raid members and cast Mistress’ Kiss on raid members which interrupts for 8 seconds if the affected raid member casts something with a cast time.
  • Casts Fel Lightning (basically Chain Lightning, like Thorim’s) so ranged should spread out to avoid chaining it. If it hits melee there’s not much you can do.
  • Casts Incinerate Flesh, which needs to be healed through (you have to do a certain amount of healing to the affected target to remove the debuff). If it’s not removed in time an infernal spawns.
  • Has a bunch of random damage and AoE damage spells, so melee will need a lot of healing. Ranged should stay at least 15 yards away to avoid taking this damage.
  • Can cast Legion Flame, which damages the target and causes that person to leave a trail of fire behind, similar to the fire in hard-mode Mimiron. Move while you have it and try to place it so it doesn’t interfere with tanks or melee DPS.
  • Can summon an Infernal Volcano, which shoots up Infernals that need to be off-tanked.

Valkyr Twins (video link) (list of abilities)

Two mobs (linked HP, I believe), 4 portals that allow you to switch between Light and Dark Essences. The Dark boss is tanked at a Dark zone while the Light boss is tanked at a Light zone.


  • Raid members with Light Essence deal more damage to the Dark boss and vice versa (but are vulnerable to damage of the opposite Essence). So you want raid members with Light Essence DPSing the dark boss and vice versa.
  • There are little dark and light orbs floating around the arena. You want to absorb those of your current Essence (just touch them) and avoid the other ones (they damage you). When you’ve absorbed 100 stacks of one type of energy, you gain Empowered (Dark/Light) and deal uber damage. This is the key to the fight (and the achievement, which is to kill them in 3 minutes or under).
  • Each sister can cast a Vortex (Light and Dark, respectively). When you get a warning that the one you’re DPSing is about to cast her vortex, quickly walk up to the portal-looking things to switch Essences so that you can absorb the damage. Switch back once the Vortex is over. As far as I saw, the Vortices were not cast simultaneously.
  • Each twin can cast Twin’s Pact, which heals them for 20%. From what I saw, everyone has to switch to DPSing the twin casting the pact (again, not cast simultaneously) because they can put up a shield that prevents spell interruption while active and needs to be broken before the heal can be interrupted.

Anub’arak (video link) (list of abilities)

He’s back! Yay… Like his predecessor, he can burrow, summon adds and swarms of bugs.


  • Permafrost on the ground means that bugs can’t burrow while on it (but it also slows movement speed by 80%). Anub’arak can’t burrow either. It looks like he’s tanked on top of it when possible.
  • While burrowed, Anub’arak’s spikes will pursue a raid member, who should run away and not through people (like Kologarn’s eye beams).
  • Summons adds even when not burowed, which should be tanked near the boss to maximize incidental AoE damage. From what I saw it looked like DPS just continued hitting Anub’arak and allowed cleave/AoE to hit the adds.
  • At some point (I’m guessing when his health reaches a certain point) he will cast Leeching Swarm, which is an AoE dot on the whole raid. 20% of health every 1 second with a minimum of 250 health per tick. At this point you simply need to burn the boss down.

Seems like there should be more for the final boss of an instance, right…? IDK.


Raiding Spotlight: Raid Composition

20 05 2009

Every once in a while, I’ll try to take a detailed look at a specific element of the raiding game. Today in the spotlight: 25-man raid composition.

Unlike raiding in previous eras of WoW, a 25-man raid composition is more about getting 25 people together without the server crashing. There are still a few ways in which a completely mishmash group can fail, and I’ll try to outline the most common pitfalls.

Too many melee/not enough melee

This was much more important in Naxx than Ulduar, which is a bit strange, since I’m so used to fights being hard on melee while allowing ranged to hang out and cast things. There are a few exceptions, like Hodir, who will frost nova and therefore can hit large clumps of melee more effectively than spread out ranged DPS. There are no fights like Kel’Thuzad, where having more than 4-5 melee became extremely irritating.

Mimiron is one example of a fight that is much easier for melee, for a few reasons. First, the laser barrage is infinitely easier to avoid when all you have to do is run right through the boss rather than strafe around him. Second, he shoots lasers only in front of him, making surviving as a melee DPSer much easier. In sum, having a mix of ranged and melee is nice, but having too many of one or the other is not critical for Ulduar raiding (as long as it’s not too lopsided, like 1 melee to 14 ranged or something).


Some classes will die more often in raids. Compare Death Knights to Mages. Relevant differences here include Death Knights having about 8k more HP, AMS, IBF (other cooldowns depending on spec, Bone Shield or Vampiric Blood), and wearing plate. Mages have Ice Block, Mana Shield, and Invisibility, all of which are less effective and have drawbacks. Compare Mana Shield to AMS; one takes away resources, one grants resources. AMS probably absorbs more damage, and the restriction on being magic damage can be overlooked since there are very few examples of physical AoE (XT’s Tympanic Tantrum being the only one I can think of at the moment).

So while Mages may be able to put out excellent DPS, they’re also more likely to die if something goes wrong or they get put in Ignis’ “hot pocket.” As a result of these and other survival discrepancies between classes, having too many Mage-type classes (those with little to no ability to prevent/reduce incoming damage) to Death Knight-types can result in more deaths and less overall DPS. Especially when learning new fights.

Raid cooldowns

  • Every raid should have a Shaman. Heroism is invaluable and probably the single most important individual spell cast in a given boss encounter (see my earlier post here about it)
  • Rebirths: the more the better. Don’t be afraid to run with multiple Druids (my guild often has 7~, of varying roles). This goes hand in hand with Innervates – the more Feral Druids and Boomkins you have, the better the benefit for your healers.
  • You want one Warlock, at least. Stacking them isn’t as good as it was because you only get one Healthstone now, and they, unlike Druids, have only one role to fill. Soulstones are also less effective than Rebirths, so multiple Warlocks are even less effective than Druids.


These are the main buffs you want for a 25-man, with some leeway depending on whether you are caster or melee heavy, with an accompanying list of the classes/specs that can provide the buff/debuffs in question. (Extra-important stuff in bold)

  • Arcane Brilliance – Mage only
  • Gift of the Wild – Druid only
  • Prayer of Fortitude – Priest only
  • Paladin Blessings – 3 Paladins is the best number, so that classes with both mana and a need for attack power get the most benefit; 4 if one of the Paladins is Protection-specced
  • 10% AP – MM Hunters, Blood DKs, Enhancement Shamans
  • 20% melee haste – Frost DKs, Enhancement Shamans (other Shamans can provide a 16% melee haste buff)
  • 3% raid damage – Ret Paladins, BM Hunters (not sure if these stack or not, guessing not)
  • 13% spell damage – Warlocks, Unholy DKs (the best applier of this debuff due to the combination of Ebon Plague/Pestilence), Boomkins
  • Replenishment – Frost Mages (lol?), Ret Paladins, Shadow Priests, Survival Hunters
  • 5% melee crit – Feral Druids, Fury Warriors
  • 5% spell crit – Elemental Shamans, Moonkin Aura, Fire Mages, Destruction Warlocks
  • 155 Str/Agi – Death Knights, Shamans (Enhancement Shamans get a buffed version if they spec into it)
  • 3% spell hit – Shadow Priest, Boomkins
  • 3% increased healing taken – Protection Paladins, Restoration Druids

As you can see from the spread of buffs, stacking some classes (e.g. Druids) is more forgiving than having lots of, say, Mages. You don’t need all of these (having at least all the bolded ones would be best), and you’ll likely have a good amount of them even if you don’t pay much attention to your raid composition. For those who love to min/max, this raid-building tool might help.

My guild happens to have an overabundance of two classes, Mages and Druids. We still get along fine, in addition to having a rather large number of Rebirths available to smooth over learning fights. There’s no need to be extremely choosy over who gets into your raid and who doesn’t (thinking solely of class rather than a player’s individual skill, which should obviously weigh into the decision as well), but there are still enough differences between classes, the most important of which, to me, is survivability, to make some forethought on the subject valuable to raid leaders.

As an addendum, I apologize to any Mages whose feelings I hurt by bashing you over the head with what I perceive as the weaknesses of your class. Sorry, guys and girls. (My alt is a Mage, if it makes you feel any better.)

I wish I was a Death Knight. They're so cool.

I wish I was a Death Knight. They're so cool.

Raiding Spotlight: Heroism

11 05 2009

Halp! When does I supposed to Heroism?

Halp! When does I supposed to Heroism?

Every once in a while, I’ll try to take a detailed look at a specific element of the raiding game. Today in the spotlight: Heroism.

Matticus in his column on WoWInsider recently espoused the value of communication, specifically between healers and tanks. Just as a priest needs to let tanks and other healers know when he plans to use cooldowns, such as Guardian Spirit, communication between the DPS can be equally beneficial.  This is especially true with regard to Heroism, probably the single most important spell cast in any given boss encounter. The timing of this spell can make or break a fight.

My guild leader often calls for (and uses, he’s a Shaman) Heroism to help the healers out at clutch moments. For example, if Iron Constructs start to get out of hand late in the Ignis encounter, that combined with flame jets can call for a lot of healing. Since the math has been done proving that timing it for execute effects (see this article over at Blessing of Kings, or if you’re math inclined, you can look here) doesn’t increase its effectiveness, when is a good time to pop Heroism? There are a few options:

  • Pop Heroism at the beginning of the fight when everyone has their DPS cooldowns/trinkets available
  • Use it at a clutch moment, such as a Heart phase on XT-002 (on any fight with short phases where it’s beneficial to have a large burst of DPS it is best to use this option)
  • Choose when to pop Heroism on a per-fight basis

The last option is what my GL uses, in combination with the 2nd when appropriate. The downside to this option is that DPS can’t be sure that their cooldowns will be up which somewhat reduces the effectiveness of Heroism. However, I still think that this is the best option. Blindly using Heroism at 35% doesn’t necessarily benefit healers the most. With Blizzard’s new design philosophy of having varying types of healing necessary in a single encounter (compare the heart phase of XT with adds to the duration of Tympanic Tantrum), making an intelligent, informed decision about when to use Heroism benefits healers more than any other option. Sometimes fights are a DPS race, and others based more on endurance.

That said, the raid leader should inform the raid as to what his plan for using Heroism is so that the raiders can prepare accordingly. Good communication between shamans, raid leaders and other raid members is the best way to maximize its effect.

Raiding Spotlight: Loot Council

6 05 2009

Every once in a while, I’ll try to take a detailed look at a specific element of the raiding game. Today in the spotlight: Loot Council.

Loot Council, like DKP in its various forms, is a way to distribute loot to a raid. It functions by having a select group of Officers discuss the items that drop from a given boss and then deciding who in the raid would best benefit from the items in question. It can range from having zero interaction from the rank-and-file members of a guild, where the loot council makes all the decisions. Or, as happens in my guild, raid members put in bids on an item and then the council deliberates on who receives the item. Some of the factors usually involved in a loot council decision are attendance, suckage/awesome factor and how much of an upgrade the new item would be.

Now, why would your guild want to use a loot council system?

  • People won’t be bidding DKP on items frivolously, and won’t steal upgrades from players who need them more.
  • Loot will be distributed fairly in a way that benefits the raid over the individual.
  • Getting loot feels less competitive (compared to something like a secret-bid DKP system).
  • Players won’t be able to make bad decisions, like hoarding DKP for one item that isn’t even much of an upgrade.
  • Being passed over for an upgrade may provide an incentive to perform better in future raids.
  • Simplicity. Easy to explain to recruits, no need to maintain an account of who spent what when, etc.

Why wouldn’t you want to use a loot council?

  • If your loot council, or even one member of it, is corrupt, stupid, or anything like that, the whole system can pretty much fail.
  • It takes a lot more time for a loot council to discuss an item than to have players /roll or bid DKP, which uses up valuable raid time.
  • Members of a loot council do not necessarily know what’s best for every class, and this lack of knowledge can translate into mis-looted epics.
  • Less incentive to show up to a raid. You won’t get DKP or any other real benefit, aside from the possibility of the officers acknowledging your attendance.
  • The entire loot council process is secretive and hidden to the public, meaning that any problems that arise will remain hidden and unsolved.

There are a lot of pitfalls to a loot council system. It depends a lot on the honesty and intelligence of the officers involved. Players are removed from the decision-making process, which can be either a positive or a negative, depending on how trustworthy the officers seem/are. I think in guilds where people believe in the officers and do not feel incredibly competitive with each other, this loot system can function very well. If not, loot council is probably not the best system for your guild. Loot council is a hit or miss system. Either it will operate smoothly, getting upgrades to the most worthwhile raid members who can most benefit, or fail completely due to dishonesty, ignorance, or even a simple grudge.