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.

Notes:

  • 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.

Notes:

  • 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.

Notes:

  • 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.

Notes:

  • 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.





Patch Day Checklist

4 08 2009

Things to do before the servers are back up:

1. Read this excellent post by the famous Matticus which gives you the details on the Northrend Beasts encounter – the first boss of the coliseum. (Apparently the beasts are just different phases of 1 boss. Who knew?)

2. Plan talent specs. Currently my two spec are Blood 2h and soon-to-be Frost DW. Blood isn’t changing much (at all really) but I’ve decided it’s a good time to switch from Vampiric Blood to Rune Tap, just to test it out. This is my new Blood spec.

Frost’s changed quite a bit more, so courtesy of EJ, this is my new spec. (<3 EJ.) Some notes on it: use Blood Presence, the Awareness Sigil (you kept it, right?) and get two slow weapons. Put Fallen Crusader on your MH and, for target-swapping fights FC should also go on your OH. For more single-target fights (Razorice stacks last 20 seconds, so if you’re away from the main target for longer than that on a regular basis, avoid this runeforge) use Razorice.

3. Figure out strategies for the rest of the coliseum bosses. Thank the internet gods for Youtube.

4. Kill time until servers are back up, at which point I will probably whinge at the amount of lag going on at the coliseum’s entrance. Speaking of that, where is the entrance?

Things to do once the servers are back up:

1. Catch up on Jewelcrafting stuff. Buy new recipes, prospect titanium, get epic gems, re-gem all my gear.

2. Go to coliseum. Do some new dailies and buy the tabart that lets you teleport to the tournament. (Or maybe the new Quel’Dorei horsey?)

3. Raid until sleeptime.

What’s your 3.2 checklist?





When You’re Not Raiding…

9 07 2009

Right now, I like raiding. Trying out a new spec has been fun and challenging, and I have to say I get great pleasure in topping the DPS charts. Unfortunately, when it’s not raid time, and my Argent Tournament dailies are finished for the day, I really don’t have anything I want to accomplish in WoW. I can level my Warrior alt (lvl 47 at the moment), but when I get alts to 80 they simply sit in Dalaran doing nothing. I don’t need gold – I’ve got around 13k and nothing really to do with it – or mats for gear. I have two PvE specs at the moment (Frost and Blood DPS) so attempting to do PvP means swapping glyphs and talent specs a whole lot more than I want to.

So now I find myself browsing WoW-related sites, blogs and forums in my free time rather than playing. Blogging helps a great deal, giving me a WoW-outlet when I’m not raiding. But aside from this, there are few solutions I can think of to make me want to play more. I could apply to a guild that raids more often, but that’s always a ton of work and I would dearly miss the great people in my current guild. I could simply give up playing outside of raids.

That guy who only shows up for raids...is he really there?

That guy who only shows up for raids...is he really there?

What worries me about this feeling I’ve been having is not just that the current content (excluding raids) is unsatisfying, but that I don’t know what content could be added to heighten my enjoyment of the non-raid aspects of WoW.  What does the new patch have? More dailies, things to buy from Champion’s Seals, a new raid and a new 5-man. I look forward to the new raid/instance content, but the rest of it is trivial. I’m not a collector of pets, mounts, or tabards. Flavour items don’t interest me much. So it’s not so much that the patch notes for 3.2 disappoint me because they lack things I would enjoy, but rather that I really have no idea what Blizzard could implement to make non-raid content appealing.

I wonder if I am simply bored of WoW (or the whole MMORPG thing in general) and will soon quit, or if there’s something out there that could re-pique my interest.





Bloody Blood Blooding

7 07 2009

For the first time in a while, I tried out a Blood spec. My gear isn’t optimal for it – I only have about 188 ArPen and with Grim Toll I’m over the hit cap by a bit – but my DPS was pretty solid, definitely competitive with my usual Frost spec. For one, it was a lot more dynamic than I thought Blood was.

Another thing I noticed was how much I really wanted the changes they’re making to both Death Rune mechanics and DRW. Unlike the ITx6, I can’t spam rune abilities to make sure my rune pairs don’t get messed up. So when I end up with 4 Death Runes refreshing quickly, I’m going to get my Unholy runes refreshing in a pair and my Frost runes doing the same. Solving this problem will make the Blood rotation much, much simpler. The strange mechanics of DRW and Gargoyle in Unholy are also a stumbling block for both specs, and I’m glad Blizzard is simplifying them.

I actually wanted ArPen

One of the best things about being Blood, even just for a night, was actually appreciating the ArPen on my gear. So I really hope Blizzard can fix ArPen for Unholy and Blood.

BUT WHY, BLIZZARD, WHY

The worst part about doing well as Blood was the lack of nerfs incoming for the spec. If I can do on-par DPS compared to my Frost spec, why is Frost Strike getting a 10% nerf in damage, which will mean at least a 5% decrease in my overall damage as Frost (because FS is usually ~50% of damage on a given fight). Why is Scourge Strike getting a big nerf, when Blood does equal damage as it in PvE?

With these changes, and the buffs to disease damage, as well as the simplification of some mechanics, it seems like Blood might be head and shoulders above the other specs once 3.2 hits. I hope my guild gets an Enhancement Shaman soon so that I can test it out more in 25-mans.

N.B. If you want to know anything about Blood DPS, read this thread.





The Vague and the Theorycrafted

5 07 2009

Since the new Frost-DW talent (Threat of Thassarian) was announced a few weeks ago, people at Elitist Jerks have been furiously hitting dummies and calculators (see this thread) to figure out exactly what the mechanics of the new talent are. I have the utmost respect for these people, but I can’t help feeling like the job of finding these things out is completely avoidable. Since Ghostcrawler revealed the details of how Armor Penetration, the game’s most complex stat, works, why not do this for other stats, mechanics or talents?

1+1= window?

1+1= window?

The main purpose of the EJ thread I linked earlier in this post is to determine what affects and what does not affect the damage of various DW abilities, such as Frost Strike and white damage. One example of this is whether sigils like Sigil of the Vengeful Heart and Sigil of Awareness apply their bonuses equally to main-hand and off-hand strike damage or with different numbers for each  weapon. There are numerous other mechanics being tested, some answered, some not. Once we know the mechanics and the math, we can then begin to delve into the actual game and mess with talent specs, gear and stat optimization and rotations.

So my question is this: does Blizzard want us (or at least those skilled in math) to have to jump the mechanics/numbers hurdle in order to play the game the best we possibly can? For a while now, EJ has provided readers and posters with math behind what talents/stats/gear are good and which are bad, and that’s not going away. But I fail to see the use in leaving these mechanics (such as those involved in Threat of Thassarian) vague, thus making people do exhaustive research on questions that Blizzard already no doubt has the answers to. If they gave us the math, we could get to the game faster and more easily.





Some News, Some Thoughts

30 06 2009

Option to change factions in the works (source)

Some may herald this as the downfall of WoW (as with so many other things, like the mount changes) but to me it’s another way for a) Blizzard to make money, since the transfer will probably cost 25$ and b) to make the playing experience more customisable and fun. It also basically doubles any given guild’s recruiting pool. Not only can you recruit horde from your own server, but it gives you far more transfer options. Maybe you’ll be able to combine server/faction switches, for ease of guild swaps. Wild speculation aside, this change falls in line with other things we never thought we’d see like PvE to PvP transfers and dual specs. I look forward to more changes along these lines.

New Wintergrasp gear, the emblem change and the “ease of getting gear” dilemma

MMO-Champion recently reported new items being added to Wintergrasp (see the new items here), stuff that is either ilvl 232 or 226. While I’m not surprised at this (it happened with 3.1 as well) there has been a significant lack of whining on my radar about this addition compared to the conquest emblems dropping everywhere. First, the two changes are connected. If you have a choice between running Wintergrasp, BGs and fail-arenas for points and getting ilvl 213-226 gear and running heroics to get ilvl 200 gear, well, which one would you choose to gear up to raid the fastest? My guess is PvP.

The change that makes all heroics and entry-level raids drop Emblems of Conquest is intended (I believe) to make sure people still run that content. It’s never Blizzard’s intention to have old content completely abandoned, especially for fresh 80s, so a change was necessary to incentivize people into doing that content.

The change to the emblem system also has the effect of making t8.5 and ilvl 226 gear available from running heroics. Some are bothered by this, feeling like it’s a kind of undeserved handout. Personally, I have everything I want from Emblems of Conquest on my main (and have for a while, so much so that I bought Emblems of Heroism with them) so this change affects my DK very little if at all. I believe the situation to be similar for all other guilds who are progressing well into Ulduar. In the next patch, when this change occurs, these raiders will be doing the Crusaders’ Coliseum rather than raiding Ulduar anyways, and Emblems of Triumph will be the ones we want, not Conquest. So basically my alts get gear faster and easier, which is a plus in my books.

Raid lockout extension

Cool. Probably not necessary in the next patch (the new raid instance has what, 5 bosses?) but again it’s nice to have control over stuff like this, especially for guilds like mine who only raid 9 hours of 25-man a week.

Common token for all tier pieces

Sweet. AWESOME. I love this change. If you haven’t looked at the stats for the DK t9, I’ll tell you that the one piece with ArPen on it is the legs. All the other pieces are decently optimized, with one piece that has haste (unfortunately) and the rest a mix of crit, expertise and hit. Streamlining the way loot works in this manner also plays into Blizzard’s idea that picking your upgrades should be a thinking process, which means they don’t want us assuming that every single new item that drops is an upgrade. While this change is great, it’s a bit lackluster compared to the state of loot overall.

Things like relics and mail with spellpower are very class-specific. If you either are that class, or your raid has none of that class, it can be quite frustrating. I think it would be best to put niche-items like tanking guns into professions like Engineering and Blacksmithing or into the emblem loot system.  This (or a similar change) would mean less wasted loot overall as well as fewer rotting badges.





Death Knight: [Obscure and Irrelevant]Q & A[That We Already Knew]

25 06 2009

Welcome, welcome! As you may have been aware of, Blizzard has been releasing class Q&As, and most recently the Death Knight version appeared. If you haven’t seen the thread yet, take a look, then come back and read why I think it was a big waste of time/anticlimax. I’m going to go question by question, starting with #1. (I’ll re-post the question and summarize the answer.)

Note: Square brackets are my snarky comments.

Q: Where do death knights fit into the larger scope of things currently and where do you see them going from this point forward?

A: Death Knights have a unique resource mechanic [I hadn’t noticed this. Thanks for informing me, Ghostcrawler!] Nerfing AoE damage [Unholy Blight] and defensive cooldowns [he failed to mention nerfing our armor and HP this time I guess?]

Okay, so question #1 is broad and essentially reiterates what we’ve already gleaned from the patch notes, which is a reoccurring theme in this Q&A. Let’s move on and hope there are more meaty questions farther in.

Q: What is it that makes them unique compared to all other classes?

A: Unique resource mechanic. [Where have we heard that before?] Death Knights don’t have a dedicated tree for tanking, PvP, etc. [Only DW, amirite?]

GC’s answer to this question basically told us what we already knew about the class from release. Things are not looking good.

Q: How do we feel about the current viability of dual-wielding? Are there plans to improve it or have it fit a specific role for the class?

A: Repeat of things already in the 3.2 patch notes. Blah blah Frost is the new DW. We don’t really care about 2h Frost anymore (nerfing it is not a “goal” but neither is keeping it alive a priority). Blood and Unholy DW specs apparently stopped working all of a sudden [there have been reports of its success in Ulduar from the EJ forum] because Frost got a DW talent.

So GC doesn’t care about 2h Frost. What was that about no significant changes in patch notes anymore? Not having to completely rethink the way I play every patch? Hm.

Q: Do we have plans for any changes or improvements to Dancing Rune Weapon?

A: Read the patch notes, guys. [Maybe they should have released this before the patch notes, and then I would have cared.]

Nothing to say about this. It’s a question we already knew the answer to.


Q: What are our current thoughts on the status of death knight tanks and do we have plans for further changes?

A: DK tanks are overpowered [I thought warriors were tanking everything, GC?] and are really the only good choice for tanking hard modes. Nerfs incoming that we also already knew about.

See commentary above. 3.2 patch notes > Q&A (far less expectation of actual helpful information).

Q: Are we satisfied with stats such as Armor Penetration, Haste, and Hit having very different values depending on which talent spec a death knight is using?

A: No different tier sets for different specs. Making ArPen work for more than just Blood.

In what possible way could this be accomplished? Armor mitigates physical damage, and ArPen removes some of this mitigation, thereby increasing physical damage dealt. This is great for Blood, which does lots of physical damage, but for Frost and Unholy, where 50-60% of total damage is allocated to either Frost or Shadow damage, this stat is basically a joke. Unless they plan to somehow make it affect magic damage for Frost Strike and Scourge Strike (which are melee abilities) or make them physical damage abilities (boring), I’m at a loss. This needs to be addressed because of how prevalent ArPen as a stat is and how undesirable it makes many pieces of gear (read: all Ulduar plate DPS bracers except the one from Mimiron-25 hard mode).

Q: Would it be possible to save runeforge enchants to primary and secondary talent specializations or add rune forges to more convenience places than Acherus?

A: Runeforges are already good, no changes incoming.

Who cares? Most people have two weapons, and even if you don’t you’ll only need to change specs to go into an instance (most of the time) at which point other members of your group can just summon you back from Acherus. This leads to another problem with the Q&A: issues that are so unimportant I’ve never heard anyone QQ about them seriously.

Q: Are there plans to change or improve the Frigid Deadplate talent?

A: No plans.

WTF? Who was complaining about Frigid Dreadplate? No Frost tank ever avoids this talent or complains that it’s worse than Anticipation (dodge > miss), which was apparently a concern for GC.


Q: Is there any plan to improve Will of the Necropolis?

A: No plans.

See above.

Q: Is this a bug or something in particular we are investigating? (Referring to how sometimes the combat log records Mind Freeze as having interrupted a spell and yet the spell goes off regardless.)

A: Server-client disagreement, server wins.

I think we knew this about WoW already. Sometimes you lag behind the server.

Q: Do we have plans to change any of the death knight’s self-healing abilities?

A: No plans.

Apparently people think we can survive too long without a healer. Lots of classes can survive without a healer, we just do it differently. Rogues Vanish, Mages Blink, Paladins Bubble, Warlocks have an escape mechanism… etc. Since DKs don’t really have an effective way of running away, we get the ability to heal ourselves. Seems fair, right?

Q: Would you consider adding a Mortal Strike-like ability to death knights in the future?

A: Probably not, no.

I wasn’t ever expecting a Mortal Strike effect, and I doubt any other DK was either.

Q: Will Chains of Ice ever be subject to diminishing returns?

A: No[t yet].

It’s a snare that we can cast twice every 10 seconds, or four times every 10 with Death Runes. If we do that, our damage is completely gimped since we’d only be left with the runes to cast Plague Strike.


Q: Will ghouls ever get their voices back?

A: Long-term plan to bring them back.

I don’t care. I’ve got other issues! The overriding problems with this Q&A:

  1. Questions often already answered by 3.2 patch notes
  2. Questions and answers were uninteresting/uninformative
  3. Questions didn’t address any of the important issues in any detail (ArPen, itemization, tanking, 2h Frost…)

I’m left wondering what the point of the Q&A series really is. My initial reaction upon reading the DK version was that it could act as sort of a primer to new DKs, but that went out the window with the whole “ghoul voice” thing among other questions clearly not directed at new Death Knights. Calling it a class Q&A raises the expectation that it will answer important and useful questions about the class, rather than simply provide a bunch of repetitive crap and some stuff no dedicated DK really cares about. Better luck next time.