Crucible of Storms: A Peep into Crucible

Yesterday: Micromantica -> Crucible of Storms (obviously).

I must say that this piece of raid is something amazing. I have expected nothing special from it, and yet.

It is hard to articulate the source of my extreme satisfaction. Surely these are not the hardest bosses, like we’ve never seen before. We’ve had our share of wipes and stacking determination before – most notably with the infamous eredar generals, Archimonde and Kil’jaeden in WoD and Legion.

And yet the bosses are somehow unique. And I think the reason is the encounters’ design.

Usually the hardest LFR bosses have a lot of things to be processed simultaneously, and/or the battlefield turns into a mess sooner or later – metaphorically and literally. The doom comes from the shit that slowly multiplies and eventually engulfs everything: debuff stacks, shit on the floor, unbearable amount of adds etc. The perfect example could be G’huun. By the end of its encounter everyone’s debuffed alright, and the floor reminds of an exploded Petri dish.

And here comes the meaning of determination stacks: it helps you to burn through phases quicker before the multiplying mess swamps and overwhelms you.

Not this time. The encounters require a cold head and an absolute control from the beginning till the very end. In fact, you could spend some time in a stalemate, with neither the boss receiving damage enough to push to the next phase, nor the fight turning into a shower of shit that swallows you and causes a wipe. You require knowledge of what to do, and only executing mechanics will take you forward – not overgear and squeezing the best out of your arsenal.

Restless Cabal was executed in three attempts. We had two insta-wipes due to the bubble cause, then when we figured out that everyone needs to step in, the tentacle guys went down. I even tanked our third try! It was extremely fun and unique to be a tanking mage :) My part was executed perfectly, I kept Zaxasj exactly at the required relic spots around the circle. By all means I’m tanking it with all my ranged DPS from now on.

Uu’nat required 4 attempts. Obviously the first try was not good. I took the crown, died to the beams, no one picked it up, and it got consumed by the void circle, so it was a wipe afterwards. I decided I don’t take the crown. On our second try we went better, but got caught in the add phase. Uu’nat got stuck around 30k health, it was neither in nor out, and we wasted all our dps on adds. Stalemate.

On our third try the trident shit killed us, plus the crown guy messed it up… and both tanks left after. Mind you, it was not a rage quit – they said hearty goodbyes, they just had to leave due to IRL issues. Mr.Sandman invited me to bed as well, but two new tanks popped up, and I decided to give it another try. And it was a decisive victory!

uunat

The lessons learned were these:

  • Determination DPS doesn’t help a lot – it won’t provide you victory.
  • Fuck the Trident. Tanks should just ignore this item in LFR – it hurts more than helps.
  • Mind the beams – in fact, stop all damage and focus on crossing them properly, with a 5-sec interval. Remember: dead DPS don’t bite!
  • The Crown guy’s execution is vital for success – as is stopping DPS when Guardians are about 20-25% health.
  • Mind your cleaves with “hostile” players around.

Lorewise, I liked the raid a lot. Although the Tentacle guys are an old story, Uu’nat had a unique model, and a glimpse of N’Zoth was precious. Surely it’s not the Old God itself, but we felt its might. Now I know we can’t just frostbolt him. Even a trace of his power was but a bit too much for a common hero. We will need powerful artifacts, machinery, magic and legendary beings – anything to cope with this Old God. His power is simply overwhelming. Now I wonder how it will happen :) The idea of Azeroth the Titan hatched and kill it off while we fight its minions seems to be valid.

We’ve spent 2 hours in the raid, and it was nothing like LFR as I felt it. Probably not the fun place to farm while picking your nose, but I’d replay it with pleasure. Just excellent.

Crucible-Achievement

P.S. The new transmogs are a healer-only staff, and a 2H polearm.

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Battle of Dazar’Alor: A Peep into Might of the Alliance / Victory or Death

The last wing of Dazar’Alor went live, and I completed it on both Alliance and Horde sides.

I think I got used to racial changes in the raid. Turning my Micromantica into a goblin was not that bad – even though I was offered a pretty ugly face option, or whatever I could detect through the helmet. It is funny that my pioneer this time was Kargash – the fresh allied toon, because lorewise it’s Horde’s story, and because she’s the only ranged dps among my Horde toons.

There are little changes with storytelling between factions, unlike the second wing. There was a no name human who has a couple of replies to add on the Alliance side in the docks. There was a great intermission with captain Zadari and Talanji on the Horde side. Finally, the Horde asks Nathanos to go home after Jaina’s encounter, teleporting to raid entrance, while the Alliance is teleported to Anduin’s ship, and the king says that they will mend Jaina’s wounds.

What should be mentioned in the aftermath is the overall mood of the raid and how it changes across the wings. Obviously the first wing is tense and serious, because the Horde has yet to discover the scale of the invasion, and the Alliance is not sure how it all plays out. The second wing is grim dark, Rastakhan may not be the brightest lamp in the gallery of Warcraft authorities, but he’s not an asshole either, quite a lovely guy. Killing him feels bad for both factions, spiced up with Bwonsamdi’s ruthless betrayal and the king realizing that his bargain with the loa was bad in every sense.

And then comes the third wing which is almost… festive. I could compare it to Stromgarde warfront: while Darkshore is a fierce battle for mutual eradication, Arathi gives this excellent feeling of an equal rival match. The Alliance’s retreat is a happy hour – the rarest thing in the raids ever, even more so with final bosses. The Horde finally has an opportunity to cross swords with Kul Tiran and the Alliance’s regular forces, including the intriguing leaders. The Alliance witnesses the valor of High Tinker, the might of their new allies – the tidesages, and the badass Jaina Proudmoore in her prime.

So, on to encounters.

High Tinker Mekkatorque is obviously a fun fight, like most of the gnome content. Exploding sheep, amusing robots, and the key feature – actual tinkering! Note that  affected players DO NOT shrink! The gnome devices change the size of THE WHOLE AZEROTH around you so you feel little – that’s how it works :) Remember “The Day when Deathwing Came” quests in Badlands? Or the famous rocket mount that spins Azeroth underneath rather than fly?

The key goal in LFR is not standing in the fire – in fact, this is the major rule for all the encounters here. You see a circle on the ground, you run out, and you’re good. Before incoming slowly walking robots overwhelm you, the ‘shrunk’ players should mount any robot in their vicinity, and do some tinkering. As complex as it seems, it’s actually not. When mounted, you see a colored mark over your head. You should only tap the action bar of the same color, do it several times (as the color changes), and a robot goes down, bringing some AoE relief to your allies.

Defeated, High Tinker is evacuated in his escape mod – have fun listening to Gallywix in rage why he doesn’t have one.

The encounter is quite simple, and even if most robots are functioning, it could be pulled out without wipes.

Stormwall Blockade is another split-the-group-in-two encounter in the raid. From the end of the pier you take a pterrodax to one of the two ships. Like with Opulence, tanks, healers and dps should be roughly equal on each ship.

The couple of tidesages try to summon some shapeless mostrosity out of the depths, so the first phase is coping with them. It’s nothing but a tank-and-spank thing, the only trouble being nasty AoE which you should avoid and interrupting a long, rare cast. When either of the groups defeats their tidesage, you use an on-ship teleport to help the other, and then you fight the monstrosity itself back to the pier.

Laminaria is also a tank-and-spank – stay out of the ground AoE and kill an occasional slow elemental. I can’t see a wipe option here, unless players are too slow to move out of the fire (well, water).

Lady Jaina Proudmoore is a multi-phase fight, but once understood, it’s completed in a breeze. The first phase is also about moving out of AoE and using catapults against the approaching Kul Tiran ships – quite a lazy one.

When Jaina freezes the boat still, the things go south. AoE are still in place, but in much variety – showing us the true arsenal of the best frost mage in the world. Besides, how cool is her father’s ghostly flagship? She not only unleashes the multiple hailstorms of ice, she also manages to levitate a GIANT VESSEL over your heads at the same time and launch arcane missiles from it!

The climax is the killer phase – once she teleports in the center and starts casting an expanding circle, everyone shoud hero and beat the wall of ice to hide in a small passage to avoid it. The core strategy is assembling all of the raid by the wall in advance to save running time. Once you’re through, free Nathanos (well, I’d rather leave him there), taunt a water elemental outside, and burn through the last 20k to end the encounter.

===

Like all Draenor raids taught you to cope with adds, Battle for Dazar’Alor is teaching you positioning in many, many ways. Most of the encounters winning strategy is this: get out of the bad, and live to tank and spank. Like everyone who survived WoD raiding is switching to adds without thinking, hopefully after Battle of Dazar’Alor the ground pools will imprint in the spine as ‘bad news’.

The encounters themselves are diverse and fun, as are the raid bosses appearances and lore. While the idea of a faction change is not exactly new (considering Caverns of Time), it definitely feels fresh in raid environment and is an interesting way to deliver the climactic story.

As I’ve already said, the mood swings are unique to the raid as well. Normally we go from dark to darker places progressing through a raid. This time it delivered an emotinally heavy climax in the middle only to be followed by an uplifting experience of the last three bosses. And yes, in the sea expansion we finally had a sea fight!

The last, but not the least is the BfA’s approach to deliver thematic transmogs for armor type, not the class. If you think about it, we had class armors as far as Vanilla raids. This significantly cuts my raiding time and doesn’t let the raid wear thin, to puking re-run limits.

All in all, this is a strong experience in lore, in mechanics and in the whole atmosphere. Now to farm the hell out of it :)

Jaina-World-First

Uldir: A Peep into Heart of Corruption

ghuun

The last wing of Uldir, unlike most raids in Legion, contains two bosses – Mythrax and G’huun himself.

Mythrax, predicted as LFR bane, appeared to be one of the easiest bosses in the raid. It sports barely a couple of mechanics, and not any new ones. Step out of the cone if it targets your general direction, and make sure your tanks drive adds apart. Easy as that.

But G’huun can easily be your raid killer, and it really is. It has most inventive mechanics, where beating the boss itself takes the least time from the encounter. It revolves around your heroic 2-4 people which bring orbs on either side to fuel the superlaser, while others are messing around in the central room. This superlaser, when charged, first cleanses the multiplying adds, and the second charge burns down 30k from G’huun itself, otherwise unbeatable. It is quite a messy and bloody encounter which I could compare probably to Helya in complexity, not one-shot mannequin of Xavius of course.

Now that we’ve played through the whole raid, here’s my boss rating:

The ones that are fun:

  • Taloc
  • MOTHER
  • Zek’voz
  • G’huun

The ones that I relax:

  • Fetid Devourer
  • Mythrax

The ones that I hate:

  • Vectis
  • Zul

Lorewise the whole raid is sorta anti-climactic. Even for the Horde players, who saw Mythrax and Zul in action and fought their deal of blood trolls. For the Alliance, it’s another Brann’s investigation of titan constructions, but it’s nowhere near to the magnificence and mysteries of Ulduar of course.

Basically the whole raid is about… cleaning the mess. And even if the bosses are great, the blood magic theme masterfully delivered in visuals, it’s not even matching Emerald Nightmare. Because we’re doing janitor job in the lab.

What do you feel upon defeating G’huun? I’m putting my mop in a bucket with a feeling of a job well done :)

Uldir: A Peep into Crimson Descent

Uldir-Zul-Crimson-Descent

In the second wing we continue to clear the enormous Uldir complex of G’huun corruption. There is not too much happening lorewise – much like in Nefarian’s lair in Cataclysm, we clear the wings from monstrosities.

The first LFR boss here is Fetid Devourer, a three-headed ‘dog’. It reminded me of a Helya’s pet, although this time you don’t bother with the breath or running mechanics – just step out of the bad cone. Also you need to dispose quickly of the appearing blob adds before their cast is complete. It is yet unclear what they do if not defeated – obviously something very-very bad. I guess I’ll learn it with later runs, but we managed to kill both quickly enough, myself even managing to contribute to both of them. So basically it’s nuke, kill a couple of adds, run out of the bad breath cone. Very-very easy.

I liked the boss design, it really is monstrous. A head of a lion, a dino, and maybe a bird?

What was bad was trash in the boss room. You have to pull it carefully, as boss is walking around in circles and easy to aggro in the most unconvenient time. I don’t really know why they did it but for annoyance.

The second one was Vectis, a blood leech abomination. This one was a mess. Now it is time to praise our tank which led the raid in the best way possible: explaining tactics, supervising the encounter and naturally performing his own tanking job flawlessly. For his efforts, we wiped at Zul only once, and with 3% of his health left.

So, the tank divided us in two groups to stand together, and there we went. There is a lot of blood contagion going on, in the most different ways. The encounter was a mess in metaphorical and literal sense. Before I step in with another toon, I will examine the tactics until I learn them perfectly. The amount of debuffs and puddles to run from or step in is literally overwhelming – and what is worse, it is not clear what you do. We ended Vectis with 4 people standing (not me), and it was barely a wipe.

The three wings cleared (from Devourer, Vectis and Zek’voz), staircases appear and allow us to descend to the central platform. It is flooded with trash blood trolls, and it is a hint of what awaits us.

Zul‘s boss design is an add fight. Apparently the priority is focusing hexers -> crasher brutes -> boss, while minor droplets and crawgs die from AoE. I literally spent 10% of my time planting spells at Zul himself, because adds were my priority. When close to death, Zul starts flooding the floor with blood, so you need to kill him quick.

This one I enjoyed a lot. It’s exactly the type of boss that I like: plenty of space to run around, quite comprehensible goals, personal choices to be made. And lorewise it is awesome. I was afraid that Zul will be enhanced with blood magic and become a monstrosity – no way, he keeps his own looks, and being a prophet, a spiritual leader, guides his followers to battle.

Got four cloth set pieces covered this week :) I enjoy this wing more than the first one, but so far, the bosses are definitely harder and more interesting than Emerald Nightmare. Rumors are that LFR now differs from other modes in numbers only, the mechanics are all there and are to be executed.

Uldir: A Peep into Halls of Containment

The first wing of Uldir is up and running – Halls of Containment. The wing contains three bosses – Taloc, MOTHER and Zek’voz.

Uldir-Scenery-Central-Hub

I came drastically unprepared. This is actually funny :) A friend of ours came to visit yesterday (she lives across the road, so it’s a common thing), and I’ve remembered that we have a new raid available only after a couple of hours and a couple of beers :) So I excused myself, left her and my wife chatting, and logged in to manage this before bedtime :) Naturally I didn’t repeat the tactics which I read before. Queue time being less than 3 minutes (I didn’t even get to my first world quest) didn’t help. So, I had to check the things on spot.

Uldir doesn’t look as easy as the Emerald Nightmare. The only thing that makes it being the ‘first’ is the bosses’ health bars. I felt that the fights were very quick, like killing a stubborn rare mob of elite sort.

Scenery

The looks are beautiful – this ring in the central hub, those titan machines, and at the same time this uneasy rotten addition. This blight is more prominent in Underrot, but like Emerald Nightmare’s red blobs, it’s certainly quite unique and somehow cozy in a twisted way. In the raid it is masterfully intertwined with titan building, so it’s the nice place to walk around.

There is not much trash, and the trash encounters are not long and/or annoying, just your normal guys. Remember how EN just swarmed with them – I hated that satyr pipe after the first boss. Trash are blood trolls of course.

Lore

Lorewise, I think the Alliance gets a nice lead in – considering that this is certainly Horde’s raid. We’ve been around the raid when we settled an outpost in Nazmir, I think Brann and Keeshan explained the things to us.

And there is Brann in the raid itself to explore and explain. Obviously he can’t pass by titan structures, and he has some experience with Old God defilement (Yogg-Saron, anyone?). I will see what the Horde version of the raid looks like on weekend.

Bosses

I think they were not as easy as the first expansion raid would suggest. They have certain mechanics to be figured out, and following them is crucial for success.

Taloc – this construct was damaged by a goblin walking tank, and from the subsequent falling through the roof deep down (this happened during Nazmir leveling questline).

Taloc is nothing to worry about during the first two phases (cudgel and elevator), and it was a mess in the third. I was always having different blobs following me, and I need to read the tactics again to see how to avoid. Nevertheless, I didn’t die, and Taloc came down with our first try.

MOTHER – is a boss for group coordination, and this is punishing a lot. There are three rooms divided by grid. Raid has to move through the grid to another room to avoid a wipe when MOTHER will purge the current room in three minutes.

The problem is, every player passing through the grid will damage the whole raid, and also spawns a blob add which is to be killed asap. So the idea is to bring small groups through the grid to let healers cope with the damage and not allow too many adds at once. If the whole raid passes at once, it’s an obvious wipe.

Our first try was an obvious wipe in the second room. On our second one, more people understood the idea, so it was a success. It didn’t save me from kissing the floor though. Me and several guys (no tank, no healer) went first to the next room, adds chomped some vital pieces from us, so when the rest of the raid moved after the boss, they obviously killed me.

It’s an interesting mechanic, and I think this will be one of the best and most remembered.

Many-many points to Blizzard for MOTHER’s voice! It’s mechanical, artificial, and very pleasant to listen to. Such a difference from normal titan’s booming in low key.

Zek’voz – I hated his appearance. It’s so unimaginative, yet another qiraji or mantid’s big bug. Just a common bug.

There’s nothing too complex about the encounter – step out of the bad, bring the bad to the edges of the room, catch an orb, kill adds if any, and damage possessed players. I generally liked it. We wiped at 1% the first time for there were too many players catching an orb – so too many possessed to cope with. I also helped by deliberately running into the add-spawning void zone (I thought it was the place where the orb comes – now I learned my visuals).

My loot out of 5 tries (3 bosses and 2 coins) was an off-hand from MOTHER. As I currently equip a wand and an off-hand, it was a nice upgrade.

Uldir-Zekvoz-down

Generally the first wing and the raid as a whole is nice. I liked the visuals, the boss variety, the imaginative mechanics and the lore part. Basically – everything. Let’s see what’s next :)

Trivia: World Quests and Antorus Plate Armor Sets

The week started just cool with Anibell acquiring her set cuirass from Eonar encounter. And this means that plate armors from Antorus are now all done!

I have only 3 leather sets to collect now. Demon Hunter lacks a pair of things, I also need wrists for Rogue. And the worst of all – I have only 2/9 pieces for monk. Bad luck for Paitsu :)

My theory still is that you get mostly secondary items on your first runs for the toon – like trinkets, relics, rings, capes and wrists. On her latest run Paitsu has got 3 relics and a ring. We shall see what the current week brings us.

My 110 toons are all in world quests, frantically completing 20 WQ quest for 5k order hall resources which will signify at least a month of sitting on their butts in order halls and earning rep tokens :)

I still need to get many mounts from paragon rep: Farondis, Dreamweavers, Nightfallen and 2/3 Army of Light.

Like official Blizzard public pages reminded us, it’s also a good time to boost your rep to acquire allied races – for 50% increase in reputation earned. But you all are probably exalted by now :)

 

Two More Sets Collected!

With Anibell the Paladin’s run, she didn’t win a single piece for herself, but she effectively covered the missing helms for Warrior and Death Knight!

Warrior-LFR-Set-Antorus

Death-Knight-LFR-Set-Antorus

Of course I’m missing the wrists for the Death Knight, but I won’t be hunting them. They drop from trash only, and Tomb experience shows that it’s futile to farm on purpose. So I consider the set complete.

Backston and Oulu will try to win the belt from Hasabel in return this week – they owe Anibell a favor :)

By the way, the warrior helm came from Imonar kill quest, out of order hall mission. And it’s not even at his loot table. So if you’re hunting for tmogs, these quest items may help.

Anyways, Mage, Priest, Warlock, Hunter, Shaman, Warrior and Death Knight are covered. It’s 7/12 and a little more to go :)