Thursday, August 22, 2013

Looking back at Throne of Thunder

With the release of the new Siege of Orgrimmar trailer and an official release date for the patch, we're steadily moving towards new content. I thought that we'd take a look back at Throne of Thunder and talk about what we liked and didn't like about Heroic fights in the instance.

Everybody walk the dinosaur!
I asked two of my guildmates - Sara, our discipline priest and Slout, our elemental shaman - to help me weigh in on our general impressions of each boss. Look for tanking thoughts in this colour, healing thoughts in this colour and ranged DPS thoughts in this colour!

Tanking Throne of Thunder 


In general, tanking this instance was pretty fun. There were some interesting mechanics ranging from add control, tank swaps, to monitoring pillar energy on Lei Shen. Overall, I thought that as a Guardian Druid I kept up with my fellow tanks - a Brewmaster Monk and a Blood Death Knight. There were times where it was obvious where the DK and BrM were the better choice for some things (which I'll discuss below) but then I just assumed the opposite role.

Healing Throne of Thunder

For me, healing ToT was a pretty positive experience, especially since healer balance was evening out a bit (no more spin to win, happier-ish druids.)

There were definitely some pros and cons with healing in Throne of Thunder:
I found that different fights required different approaches and spell choices, and I loved that.  Dark animus? PWS all the things! Horridon? Smite to win! Council? Spirit shell to victory!

Healers, happy healers everywhere!
I loved that I often swapped to all three level 90 talents over the course of one night.
Unfortunately, mana became too easy due to the Legendary Meta Gem - draining your mana bar became difficult, like in Dragon Soul.  Healing Trinkets were awful and not fun!  Except for the amazing Horridon regen trinket, the rest were total duds.  Dispels were only fun half the time, and mostly required no thought.

Dealing Damage in Throne of Thunder 

From a (ranged) dps standpoint the fights in ToT were mostly fairly well designed. Next tier I really hope to see less fights where multi-dotters reign supreme, and have less fights with unnecessary adds to "cheese". Personally, I would still say I enjoyed last tiers fights a bit more (minus Amber-Shaper and Sha), but the atmosphere and "epicness" of this tier was much better.

Heroic Jin'Rokh


When we started work on this, it was clear that the problems we were having were not tank related. Half the raid died frequently to Ionizaton explosions! We ended up three tanking this fight to help out the healers by never having the raid be hit by the tank debuff from Static Burst - Static Wound. Later we noticed that our Death Knight tank could completely avoid an application of Static Wound. This is where I developed part total fucking hatred for DKs and part insane jealousy. I liked being able to DPS the boss in the puddle when I wasn't tanking. I enjoyed this fight but did not enjoy having to wipe constantly to one person screwing up an Ionization. Best memory of this fight? Our first kill, the only people alive were tanks.

Before the pull

Because of their lack of good, frequently cast defensive abilities, I was tasked with making sure our warriors and shamans had PWS when their Ionization expired and for some reason I loved this job.  It's nice to be able to really see a difference between using a spell correctly and not using it (a mis-timed shield, for example.)  Side note: please buff shamans personal defensives!

This fight for any dps was pretty fun. The ability to stand in the puddles and do oh-mah-gad crazy damage is great. Ranged dps especially have had access to these sort of mechanics for a few fights in the past. Otherwise the fight is very straight forward (as it should be) and there isn't much to gripe about. This fight reminded me a bit of General Squid for Ulduar which was a fun fight for ranged dps.

Heroic Horridon


I found my part to be relatively easy and sort of boring. My favourite part of the entire fight is the pull because when I pull Horridon, I get my inital threat and hit Stampeding Roar and strafe my bear butt into position at the first door. I've told people it's like driving a transport truck. Horridon is so large and awkward to move, but once you figure it out it's awesome.
We three tanked this fight again, using our BrM tank full time on doors with the OT helping while the MT tanks Horridon. The only time I was afraid of the debuffs from Horridon was after she soft enrages. I could usually only handle 3 stacks before needing one of the tanks to taunt off me. Other than that, no glaring issues as a druid.

Doing this on normal I really only atonement healed since Horridon takes increasing damage through the course of the Fight.  It was extremely dull and highlighted a problem with atonement for me - it really seems unfair that I was able to match other healers HPS only dpsing the boss! That is problematic.  On heroic, this was a great fight for matching up Spirit Shell with Dire Call - it is SO satisfying to successfully time Spirit Shell application and see a massive AOE go out and no one take any damage.  I would often queue in and make gross happy noises when that happened!  One thing that was boring for this fight was 3rd door disease dispels - this design mechanic just totally sucks: give your dispel an 8 sec cooldown, but make it imperative to be dispelling as much as possible.  That is just boring spam!

Oh she dead.

This was a great fight with ranged dps who have multi-dotting capabilities, or really good aoe. Overall I enjoyed this fight probably the most out of any. Dealing large damage to the boss throughout the fight and unleashing a torrent of Chain Lightning into the tightly grouped adds was satisfying. The downside would be that for classes who rely on the adds to be close together would sometimes suffer as more and more adds came out and the tanks had a harder time keeping everything together. The addition to the Pink Elephant following you around seemed like it was just tacked in to make the encounter harder. It was incredibly annoying, maybe if they made it killable with a large amount of health that you could work on throughout the fight that would be better. If you got this early on say goodbye to your damage and sanity if you weren't a multi-dotter.

Heroic Council of Elders

Just hangin out

Yessssss. Dodge tanks stand up because this is YOUR TIME. I loved this fight. We took the strategy (at first) that allowed Sul's adds to spawn. What this meant was that when his little adds died, they spawned sand pools. My favourite thing to do was wait until they were low and then use Typhoon on them to knock them just behind the melee where they would then drop the pools. Totally. Awesome.

We ended up changing our strategy to never having Sul empower, so I don't get to use that trick anymore. Now I tank Sul and Malakk together while our DK handles Mar'li (since she can grip those spirits). The best thing about this pairing is that I can keep Malakk throughout the entire fight without ever needing a taunt - if I do it right. Malakk's freezing debuff applications can be dodged, so a Guardian can make it through an entire Frigid Assault while only gaining something silly like, 7 stacks.

Immensely enjoyed being able to contribute dps on Sul and on the Spirits/Twisted fates (actually, other than that, the healing was sort of mindless on this.)  Did not enjoy that this was the only fight that seemed to absolutely and inexplicably drain my mana bar (I never did figure out why...)  Always did better on this fight when I was able to effectively POH spam.  Near constant AOE damage is a girl's best friend, I suppose!

Mages are probably not a fan of this fight due to having to watch and time their iceblock for when Mar'li is empowered, but I don't think this fight was all that bad as a ranged. Melee may have had a worse time due to jumping around to targets and moving out of sandtraps, but otherwise I thought the fight was entertaining and a bit more dynamic than some of the others. This is another fight where multi-dotters shined when the trolls were spread out, so I'm sure they enjoyed it.

Heroic Tortos


What do you do when you've got two tanks that are great at kiting and one tank that's not? Technically, I think we should have had our DK tank Tortos (at that point she was clearing 900k hp) and our BrM kiting the adds. We ended up having both of them work together with the adds and I had to tank Tortos. Please watch the video below to experience our kiters' POV. Now, everything I've read and heard tells you that bears simply can't tank this boss with less that 800k HP. My raid group let me acquire some extra tier pieces and set me up with stam gems and flasks to try this out but I don't think I ever did get over 800k HP.  I ended up putting my regular gear back on and tanking it that way.

The scary part about tanking this fight with ~650k HP is that if you ever miss a shield, or if your healer misses healing you up you are dead. Everything about the way I tank this fight requires timing, exceptional attention and a little faith. I get my shield, and use Frenzied Regen to help boost it, while also using Savage Defense on Snapping Bites. You still want to be able to dodge the bites so you don't have to reacquire a shield. I'm lucky that we have a disc priest who is willing to time her shields to the Bite.

There were many, many times where I thought (and I'm sure my raid did too) that we should just stick the DK in Tortos' mouth and I would DPS or something. When I went on vacation, I was told that our DK offtank tanked Tortos for his first time ever and had no issues (of course!). It's unfortunate that many bears don't get to tank this fight or bother with the adds. This is the one fight where I felt extremely inadequate compared to my fellow tanks during progression. Now it's old hat ;)

A healer gimmick fight!  Except not really.  The healer gimmick turned out to be reminding dps to get their shields up - for raid healers probably a total snooze fest since most of your healing is not particularly useful after everyone's shields are at max capacity.  I got to heal our bear tank (you may have heard of her, she's kind of a big deal) which turned out to be extremely fun (read: scary.)  Apparently bears aren't really supposed to tank Heroic Tortos because of their smaller health pools - but hey, let those other raids have their DKs and their Paladins - give me dodge or give me death! Literally!  Disc/Tortos shield had a really fun symbiosis when it came to tank healing on this fight.  On progression, having Kal survive through snapping bites was a 50/50 situation where I was absolutely terrified i.e. HAVING A BLAST.  I enjoy fights (reminiscent of Heroic Madness of Deathwing) where having a Power Word: Shield on a tank at the time a specific ability was going out meant the difference between living and dying. That is fun to me.

Tortos? More like ORCAS!

Worst. Fight. Ever. For ranged at least. Dpsing turtles for 80% of the encounter is NOT fun. We essentially served as the melee's debuff bitches. I personally did turtle kicking probably every pull we did aside from a few due to connection issues or absences. I have always hated/stressed over one shot abilities (stone breath isn't exactly a one shot, but during progression it sure was) and now I was in charge of 24 other people's lives. I messed up sometimes, took some slack early on too, but that was to be expected when progression relies on one stupid shell getting to the boss on time. Early on we had many pulls where the very first turtle would not die quick enough and I would be kicking it as the cast was almost complete resulting in a wipe. Sometimes the shells would still have a slow debuff on them and even though I kicked it in good time; it was too slow to make it to the boss. Sometimes shells would get stuck in walls and there would be no way of kicking it properly. During progression on this I was still the ranged officer, and I remember so many ranged whispering me about how much they hated this fight.

Heroic Megaera


Yawn. The new addition to this fight was a fourth head that barfed purple glitter on you and made it so that you had to deal with Nether Wyrm adds. Our BrM tank handled those and the other tank and I tanked the heads. Nothing new for any of us, and nothing too difficult since we used the monk Ring of Peace to silence the adds.
Look, I'm Megaera!

I do notice that our DK generally fares better in the 'my health is not a spiky rollercoaster of death' department than I do, since she does better with magical damage.

Not really sure what I think about fights where we do very little healing, interspersed with slices of intense AOE raid damage.  I enjoyed getting to use Divine Star on this fight, and I enjoyed having Barrier be extremely effective.  Otherwise, it was sort of dull other than seeing how Body and Soul helped my raid team.  Dispels on this fight were only slightly more interesting than Horridon.

Another one of my favourites for this tier (Heroic version only) Mainly because I could use Chain Lightning to my hearts content without the fear of being called a meter-padder #eleshamanproblems. For other ranged though I'm not too sure this fight was their forte. There is a lot of moving around, so for classes with low mobility this would really mess them up. Since the poison head was left up the entire encounter, the melee only had the fire mechanic to deal with allowing them to focus much more on dps than the ranged - except when a ranged stays in with the melee and gets targeted with ice beam, poor melee...

Heroic Ji-Kun 


Wings on mah face
Pretty standard for the MT and OT, use cooldowns for Talon Rake and swap after two stacks. The new tank mechanic (or plate DPS if you went that way) was that there was a stronger add that spawned at different nests. It required someone to tank it so it didn't kill people on the nests. For the tank in our raid who gets to do that (usually our BrM) the fight is always moving. For the DK and I, it's the same. Occasionally we'll soak puddles, but I can only soak so many before it becomes dangerous while she can soak an obscene amount and then clear her debuff and soak AGAIN.

Priests get to shine when assigned to heal their party in the raid group, so Ji-Kun was pretty fun for me.  Progression healing Quills was a heart stopper for sure! Not so much anymore, but at the beginning it was really intense.  I also absolutely loved being able to contribute to Nest dps!

I believe I can flyyyyyy

I really liked this fight if I was in the same nest every time. Moving around to new nests every week threw my game off and I was never able to re-rank as I did not have everything timed out perfectly. I'm sure most dps felt the same way, but seeing as this was the second boss on progression, we really did not need optimal groups anymore to get her down. Personally, I struggled with this fight a bit on downdrafts. Ghostwolf is great if you are in position to deal with the downdraft, but it does poop all if it catches you off guard... so poochie fell down a lot. Overall though, I thought it was an interesting fight to dps, and certainly unlike other bosses before it.

Heroic Durumu

'EYE' see youuuuuu

We single tank this using HoPs from our paladin healers. One tank can hold Durumu and just clear their debuffs - if you time it properly you can clear your first set of debuffs and the second set will drop naturally during the Disintegration Beam. Makes for a real awesome DPS meter!

This fight looks way more interesting from a DPS or Healer POV, for tanks it was a simple sit and swap.

We mostly overgeared this fight when we got to it, so the healing wasn't that interesting out of the gate.  The dispel mechanic only required slightly more attention than Maegara.  I enjoyed seeing how long I could leave the dot on before having to dispel, so I suppose that was a bit of a mini game for me.

The heroic version of this fight I found pretty fun. This is another one where classes with low mobility will fall behind, and locks/eles shine. The Icewalls are odd in that chain lighting will bounce in ways I have never seen before. And since it is hitting so many targets overloads are proccing like crazy and the damage output is absurd. The maze can be a bit rough as ranged since we needed to learn the melee path for heroic, but I never had any issue with the maze due to my mobile dps.

Heroic Primordius

My precioussssssss

I enjoyed this fight because it requires a lot from your tanks. Very good environmental awareness and the ability to react on a dime are essential. One tank has Primordius and starts with moving him around the room away from purple puddles that pawn. The other tank has to keep a look out for the new add (on Heroic) and must bring it to the center without having the add come too close to the boss or you'll cause a wipe. Then, a rotating tank switch happens throughout the fight with one tank on the boss (almost always moving) and the other being quick with taunts on the add.

A lot of footwork and communication is involved with the tanks and it's one of my favourite fights to tank.

Absolute snooze fest if you get an easy set of evolutions.  We killed this in 3 pulls on progression.  DPS get to be sauroks, I get to fall the heck asleep.

Unless you were on the add team this fight was pretty lame for dps. It was certainly fun to be transformed into a Saurok, but overall the fight was just bland. Added to that are spread out mechanics that are pretty hard to deal with when you need to be moving around the room like a chicken with its head cut off to pick up buffs on the floor, and deal with large adds that spawn anywhere around the room.

Heroic Dark Animus

Oh, he's sleepin'.

I really dislike this fight because it is so tightly tuned. If one person dies, or moves to the wrong spot in the first ~2 minutes your raid needs to wipe and start again. I also hate relying on someone to clear the Anima Ring that forms around the Animus tank. I would much prefer to have it be timed so that it requires quick movement from the tank rather than depend on a raid member to get me out.

When the fight is executed properly, it's beautiful and the timers line up and everything falls into place. I'm just a little overwhelmed with how precise your raid group has to be in order to see past the first 2 minutes of the encounter.

I actually like casting Power Word: Shield frequently, although I've mostly trained myself to only do it every 12 seconds.  This fight was PW:S-spam-friendly, so it was pretty fun to see those numbers (at the expense of my mana bar of course.)  PW:S'ing matter swap was a beautiful beautiful thing.  Other than that, the con to this fight was no awesome time to use barrier (in fact I'm not sure I used it on our first kill, ever.)

Certainly bit of an odd fight that could have been tuned a bit better. Large Golems were widely unused due to Crimson wake being so deadly (Blizz also admitted this). So the fight just felt a bit unfinished. Activating Massive Golems is safer than the much smaller Large Golems. This probably should have been the other way around. This is another fight for multi-dotters. It was crazy to see my add down to 60% and then taken down to 10% from dots alone. Sometimes the dotting was too powerful and we had adds dying prematurely.
I personally felt very weak on this fight, not only dps-wise but also survivabailty-wise. I ended up trying both Astral Shift and Bulwark Totem, but in the end found Astral shift was much better when Jolts came around. To me this fight was more about staying alive than dps output. Chances are at our ilvl if we have 25 up the whole encounter, it's going to die.

Heroic Iron Qon

Hanging out with his poochies.

I don't mind IQ (except I do mind when people call him Iron Qwon). At the core, this fight is still a tank/spank/swap fight with some extra dancing involved. I really disliked the random fire/lightning/storm lines from the spears. Having a fire line run through the middle of the boss when the melee need to stack on the tanks is frustrating. During progression I was constantly hoping for a decent fire line pattern so we could just getpastphaseonepleasepleaseplease.

I really like the end of the fight when IQ himself joins the doggies. The other tank picks up IQ and the dog she was tanking, while I grab Shadrak and Mishak - I mean, Ro'shak and Quetz'al. We group them all together and kill the dogs one by one. The only gripe I have is that I had to watch my threat or I would end up tanking everything - which usually led to me being crushed. But that isn't really a Guardian problem per se.

Absolutely LOVED healing melee on the first quillen - barrier and Spirit Shell were heroes here for sure.  Another fight I really enjoyed getting to use Divine Star on - having to think about positioning for that spell is fun!  Lots to heal on this fight throughout, which was great, and surviving Fist Smashes was a nail biter so obviously a blast.

Despite this being one of the fights we did early on; it still seems to give us a bit of trouble. I think for any class this fight is a bit annoying, there is so much going on and so much to watch for. Melee especially have a rough time during poochie #1, and any subsequent ones where lines go under the boss. As ranged Dam'rens shield is terrible, especially when it spawns in your direction multiple times and we still need to spread out due to the debuff. Doing 0 damage for a good portion of that phase is pretty lame, reduced damage may have been better so we don't need to just sit there and wait for it to drop off.

Heroic Twin Consorts


Lots of movement on this fight in the later phases, some add control and more tank swaps. I enjoyed this fight for the most part. Nothing stands out as particularly difficult or interesting, but I did like the mechanic of the Ice Comets (when they actually appeared). Using the comets to either lower Suen's stacks or hide during an Inferno was neat. Having to wipe because of a bugged comet not appearing was total bullshit.

Another fight where I was mostly assigned to heal my party within the raid group.  Spirit Shelling crashing star was satisfying.  Getting debuffs from tank healing was not! I mean I suppose I get the mechanic but sometimes it was annoying.  I enjoyed the nuclear inferno mechanic, although I guess it could have hit a tiny bit harder since I was rarely totally terrified by it.

Pretty fun fight for any dps if you ask me. Maybe less so for melee as they don't have to deal with as many of the mechanics as others. This is another fairly heavy movement fight, so some ranged classes may not enjoy it. Classes with close ranged aoe will love getting to chain off of the boss to the other, and to the small adds revealed during p1 and 2. Hiding behind the comets and busting our some hybrid healing is fun because I feel like it is helping the healers out a bit. I put down Healing Stream - Healing Rain - Spam Chain Heal until it's over.

Lei Shen

We're coming for you.
We're attempting to heroic pulls on this boss now. On normal I liked timing running the boss to a new pillar at the right time, I enjoyed the tank swaps here because there was always some kind of visual cue rather than some stacks to watch (well, there's a stack mechanic at the end but whatever). Using Fusion Slash to bounce yourself to the next pillar and make the boss follow you was really fun, too. 

The timing for tanks on this fight so far is very systematic and predictable. Everything tanks need to know is on a timer and we just need to move at the right time (and move FAST). Hopefully we'll see a kill of this guy soon and we can come back and add some more thoughts.

On the normal version of this encounter,  I enjoyed Spirit Shelling thunderstruck, and enjoyed Body and Soul on the tank running away with decapitate!  Transition healing (and dpsing and tanking) was a bloody bore.  Heroic Lei Shen so far is a freaking blast - so much to think about!  Not much healing yet, but we haven't seen phase 3. I'm excited to get try and get this down before 5.4!

I only have experience with the Normal version of this encounter, but Lei-Shen really felt like an end tier boss. The past 2 tiers we have had mediocre "Final Boss" encounters (Sha and Deathwing). So this one was pretty nice to see. From a dps standpoint this fight is quite fun. There is a lot to do and many interesting mechanics to deal with. Collapsing and aoeing the small ball adds is super fun for any dps class. The one downside i found was soaking static shocks during transition. It seemed out of place and just sort of boring to have to have classes solo soak it instead of making it manageable for groups to soak. This made classes with no solo soaking ability less ideal.

Were your experiences different or similar to ours (healing, dps or tanking)? What did you think of Throne of Thunder?

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