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Feng the Accursed 10 Man Heroic

Heroic Feng introduces a whole new phase, and you’re allowed to chose the order of the phases. We went with the standard order:

Spirit of the Staff, with heroism right off the bat to get through the phase quickly.

Spirit of the Shield, which is the new phase. We would always nullify the first shield, and kill the adds on the next. For the Siphoning Shield, it is important that all characters (including the tank not currently tanking) are a reasonable distance away from the shield as it spawns. It is a good idea to stack up so that all the adds are in the same place to be AoE’d down. It is more important to slow and burst down the adds than to attempt to keep them in place with stuns, since after being out for a small period, they will heal the boss without getting to the shield. It is worth using Shroud of Reversal for Shadowburn in this phase, since it does a TON of damage to Feng.

Spirit of the Fist. As per normal, a nullification for the raid or stunning the boss during epicenter is required to prevent healers from blowing cooldowns unnecessarily.

Spirit of the Spear. On heroic, the damage in this phase is a lot higher, especially since we left it for last. However, it is the easiest to deal with and by the time we got to this phase it was smooth sailing for a kill.

The Stone Guard 10 Man Heroic

The Stone Guard heroic is a fun fight, purely for the disco floor. It was a while coming, but it was great to be back into heroic modes again, where a failure to execute can really mess you up.

The tank swapping is the same as normal, only if you fail, you all die. For normal modes, we had been running a strategy where one tank permanently had two puppies. It worked quite well to have vengeance stacked up in once place, and keeping the DPS focused on one tanks movement. For heroic, we changed that up so that the tank tanking one puppy would taunt when his puppy lit up.

Some of our DPS volunteered to paint the floor, and others had to be pressed into service when our volunteers were out of commission (either dead or dealing with Jasper Chains). There were a number of deaths to painters with the combination of damage from painting, damage from the rest of the encounter and range to healers (potentially because having range on tanks and the raid while dealing with Jasper Chains is problematic). So the painters got special attention (particularly if they volunteered or were a healer’s favourite) and we aimed for around 100 stacks to increase damage and mana regen.

We had quite a few (slightly prolonged) discussions about which puppies were the hardest to deal with. Here’s our consensus:

Jasper. Jasper Chains were the worst! In all of our kills on heroic, unfortunately we didn’t get to try it without Jasper Chains. Aside for the awkwardness of dealing with the other mechanics while also being tethered to another raider, and aside form the damage, the biggest issue with Jasper Chains was the impact on painting the floor. In the end we decided that unless the chained pairs were particularly keen, that once you were chained, you STOPPED painting. One of the other DPS or heals could pick up painting duty, or we could go with fewer stacks for a while.

Cobalt. Cobalt Mines really hurt on heroic, and were responsible for many deaths. They are harder to negotiate than Amethyst puddles, and add to the difficulty of dealing with Jasper Chains.

Amethyst. Yes, they hurt, but small puddles are small.

Jade. Jade is consistent extra raid damage. The kind that is well covered with HoTs (assuming they don’t all land as overheals).

Sha of Fear 10 Man Normal

Fortunately, Sha of Fear was a good challenge to finish off normal modes. The fight is tuned for two healers on 10 man as expected when the raid is nicely split in half, and terrace as a whole is refreshing change of pace with every fight requiring both tanks.

When five of your friends suffer Ominous Cackle, and are transported to a platform to face off against a nasty panda, the rest of you are left with the Sha of Fear and his Terror Spawns.

While tanking Sha of Fear, having active mitigation up for Thrash is important, as well as having regular cooldowns ready to go. Healing on the main platform is extremely unforgiving depending on how many Terror Spawns are up and bombarding the healer with Penetrating Bolts.

Our DPS would kill the Terrors on the opposite side to the ominous cackle group so that they could immediately start DPSing Terrors that were in range on returning to the main platform.

In the Outer Shrines, the tank would establish a good threat lead on the crossbowman, and then run around collecting as many globes as possible, with a couple of exceptions. Healers get a great deal of benefit from the globes through the mana returned, so letting the healer get the globe closest to them is important. The only other class that we had that benefit greatly from globes was our hunter (via focus regeneration), who as a bonus can DPS well on the move. It is important to avoid any globes healing the boss, so it helps to get to know the collecting habits of your guildmates to make sure they are all taken care of. If in doubt, and you’re not almost dead… go grab the globe.

Avoiding Dread Spray can either be done with practise and concentration, dumb luck or just ignoring that it’s happening and grabbing the globes (which are spawning at the same time). Getting out of line of sight for Death Blossom is a must, but tanks and characters with superfluous immunities (I’m looking at you paladins) can hang out and collect globes.

The most important part of the fight is killing the panda with time enough to get the tank back into position before the other tank lands from the cackle. You know it’s getting a little easier when you can Intervene your fellow tank, high five and hang out for a little while before he gets taken away.

Once that immediate threat of wiping to Reaching Attack has been satisfied it’s time to start helping out your healers. The fight is hard enough to heal as it is without Terrors starting to stack up. Once we cleared the Terrors completely about half way through the fight, we knew the tables were turning on the Sha of Fear. We had a couple of attempts that didn’t get much below half way, but our kill felt completely assertive.

Lei Shi 10 Man Normal

Lei Shi is fun, different and easy. We two shot the fight, albeit the kill was about as messy as you could get and still get a kill.

Once you’ve got the tank swapping and positioning down, the major mechanic to prepare for is CCing the adds at 80/60/40/20 percent. If your CC is good, the fight will go very smoothly. It is  note worthy that the most important skill in relation to crowd control is the ability to single target and not break mobs out. The mobs are difficult to trap, so hunters can use Wyvern Sting, which with a 1 minute cooldown, should reinforce the “super paranoid single target DPS” message.

If your group is using DBM, make sure to strip everyone of assist before you start the fight. DBM is great at marking up the adds, but if players with DBM also have the ability to mark, they can get overwritten.

The fight is a little strange as a tank, because the vast majority of damage during the encounter is magic damage. Taking so much magic damage really changes the way you think about active mitigation, since the physical half is useless most of the time. To make things worse, when the adds spawn, Lei Shi becomes immune which takes the active out of active mitigation. Once your resources are depleted, and other cooldowns blown it feels a little weird just not getting in anyone’s way or waiting around for a tank swap.

I really enjoyed the hide and get away mechanics, but the boss just feels a little underdone, possibly just giving a raid team too much wiggle room to deal with how different the mechanics are for the fight. All will be forgiven when you start dropping some Sha-touched weapons, young lady.

Tsulong 10 Man Normal

The Night phase for Tsulong is pretty simple once the tanks have swapping Shadow Breath and managing their Dread Shadows stacks. We decided to use heroism right at the beginning of the fight to try and take as much health off the boss as possible.

Day phase is a little more challenging, with the healers trying to heal Tsulong as much as possible while dealing with the damage into the raid as well. We found that the timing for killing the Embodied Terrors was crucial, aiming to kill them so the Fright Spawns would be immediately killed by Tsulong’s Sun Breath. The first Terror gets gripped and killed immediately. The second terror is killed more slowly, for a later sun breath. The last terror is killed quite quickly as well. It was great to have an AoE stun and AoE interrupt for the fright spawns, since if they were allowed to cast Fright, things could get pretty ugly.

Killing off the Unstable Sha is the next priority, and we assigned DPS different directions to cover the spawn locations. Again, the use of stuns, slows and knockbacks helped manage the adds and avoid the massive damage they would do to Tsulong on impact, undoing our healers good work in this phase.

Our healers picked up healing Tsulong very quickly. We had a total of 6 pulls before our kill, and our last wipe saw all of our healers at around 100k HPS mark. If you’d like some specific tips from Jondy (resto Druid), Kal (disco Priest) or Noon (holy Pally) feel free to drop them a line.

The transition back into the Night phase can be a lot of fun depending on how many frights you have left up and how quickly the tanks can organise the boss to face in a sensible direction.

Protectors of the Endless 10 Man Elite

Very excited to be in Terrace of Endless Springs at the end of the night, Noondez asked, “Do you want to do Elite mode?”. “No”. To me at least, just the word ‘Elite’ conjured up images of difficulty beyond that of a heroic encounter. Also, if Noon asks a question that includes an option not to do something… my usual knee jerk reaction is to say no immediately, and perhaps buy myself a week before we get into achievements. However, Noon and Widget both took the time to explain just how easy the elite version of the encounter was and who could say no to, “a puddle here and a puddle there”? Oh, and the loot, the sweet, 503 iLvl loot. You had me at “easy”.

So we got our dispels on, and started beating on Elder Regail. Killing the elders in starting with Regail avoids Lightning Storm altogether which is a bonus. After he was taken care of, we started in on Elder Asani, and moved Elder Kaolan to the edge of the platform to deal with Defiled Ground. Asani summons and orb, which we nuke, and back to business as usual. To keep things entertaining (read: I’m making this up) we had a little competition to see who could dispel Cleansing Waters the quickest with Noondez / Tarnus sharing the honors narrowly topping the 7 characters who managed to participate. We also managed a tank swap to keep the debuff from defiled ground manageable.

When only Kaolan was left, it was nuke time, as we overlapped the huge Expel Corruption circles and killed the boss before we ran out of room. Killing the boss on our second pull with a one shot the following week (with a tank and DPS new to the fight) almost made us feel a little sorry for the Elders. Almost. Items like [Watersoul Signet] will see us happily dispatching them for weeks yet.

Grand Empress Shek’zeer 10 Man Normal

Grand Empress Shek’zeer is a visually engaging fight. Watching guildies drive head long into Dissonance Fields and construct Amber Traps is a sight to behold. We were so organised in this fight with mantid, the following came to mind:

Worker bees can leave
Even drones can fly away
The queen is their slave

We handled the dissonance fields pretty well, getting the explosions a good interval apart, with some great healing to top everyone off. When the adds came out, we tanked a half each, and zerged one sides worth of reavers while constructing the first trap. After the lone windblade was securely in his trap, we started in on the other bunch. We found that on normal mode, there is enough time to come close to killing the second windblade before the start of the next phase, without needing a second trap.

Once we got used the the transition, we had a blast running around and coating our friends with our Poison-Drenched Armor.

The transition to the final phase is pretty tight if you want to avoid a second adds phase. You don’t want to have Dissonance Fields explode during the last phase, but the adds phase starts about 9 seconds after the last field explodes. It a bit of a MOAR DOTS! STOP DOTS! MOAR DOTS! situation, but on our kill we nailed it.

For the last phase, we decided just to group up, having the luxury of not one but two elemental shamans and a priest. Fears don’t worry us in the least… Well… unless the people carrying the fear bomb do the right thing, get out of the raid, and are left wanting a dispel. It felt good to start being showered with tier gear again.

Amber Shaper Un’sok 10 Man Normal

Tonight we managed to get some time on progression with 11 people across 12 characters, for three new boss kills, starting with Amber Shaper Un’sok. Thanks to Widget, who came to play on both his mage and monk, as well has Helly who responded to the bat signal part way through the evening’s entertainment.

Amber Shaper is really all about the constructs, with the common experience holding true that once everyone gets the two interrupts sorted, you’ve got yourself a kill. Once we got into phase three, things proceeded remarkably well, even after all the healers mutated. I was so excited when he died, that I accidentally used my last Elder Charm of Good Fortune and bagged tier pants.