Kormok Heroic

Koromok Heroic Fidelity

Heroic Kormok was killed on our first attempt with our group of 14. Nothing about the fight felt much different than normal, although we were caught out at the end of the fight by the accumulating mechanics.

In normal, you only have to deal with the empowered mechanic associated with the pool Kormok recently took a paddle in. In reading the heroic guides for the fight, I had a little disconnect and took the importance of pool order as read.  We quickly realised in Heroic that we were still getting dragged during grasping hands… However, that didn’t prevent a collective brain fade on the third pool when the empowered explosive runes came out and the boss was nearly dead. With two thirds of the raid dead, we were able to comfortably finish off the boss for a satisfying one shot.

My understanding used to be that normal and heroic modes were mechanically identical, with only tuning being changed. So paying attention to any quirks between modes will serve us well for future bosses.

Iron Reaver Heroic

Iron Reaver Heroic Fidelity

Iron Reaver went down after 27 pulls, with 23 of them being on the night of the kill. We had a raid of 14, and after some time getting through 11 normal mode bosses, the gear level through the raid is the most even it has been in quite a while.

Not the most mechanically challenging fight, it did take a little while (and could still use improving) to get the positioning right. We tried to have everyone as close to the boss as possible, while still staying spread enough not to compound unstable orb damage. There’s nothing quite like watching someone die during pounding because they are out of range of Tranquility. Kal, the master of all, swapped specs again to Holy for an extra cooldown in the form of Divine Hymn. Esta and I had lots of fun managing artillery, since the timing gets a little awkward at moments.

Outside of some silly deaths, we didn’t have too much of an issue with the second phase. If we had everyone up, the bombs were dealt with without incident.

A quick note on bananas. Blizzard, in their infinite wisdom, have made a terrible change to our favourite toy. [The Golden Banana], on transition to the toy box, developed a neon blue glow. So no longer will we use this ‘golden’ banana, but with due restraint and respect for bag space, shall fling the [Magic Banana] instead.

Hellfire Assault Heroic

Hellfire Assault Heroic Fidelity

Hellfire Assault was a little bit of a shock to the system on day one of Hellfire Citadel. Sure it’s a great way to develop a bond between a new tanking pair, as the waves of adds just piled up, and berserker after hulking berserker crushed us into dust. Esta and I barely had time to enjoy watching Hagrim swing his mighty two handed weapon as the stout dwarf conceded that his schedule couldn’t sustain him through our assault on the citadel.

After a number of pulls, we yelled, “this’ll be nerfed”, and switched to normal mode. To say the difference between normal and heroic modes was like night and day is an understatement. It might be more like the difference between a nightmare and sipping your favourite beverage, in your favourite outfit, with your favourite people in your favourite climate. All of a sudden there was no need to single target, since the adds just exploded. As if in one last hurrah, Hagrim was a divine storm so bright it could not be eclipsed by mages of fire or newly buffed frost DKs. It was magnificent, and all too soon… it was over.

So the boss was nerfed, not just once, but twice while we tackled normal mode bosses. When we returned to Heroic Hellfire Assault, we three healed with Kal turning purple (and heads!) for a raid of 14. The extra damage more than paid off in reduced healing as we could more easily get through the high priority adds (vehicles and felcasters) and clean up berserkers before the slam debuff got out of control.

We started the fight with heroism, and got Mar’tak out of the way as quickly as possible. Then the rest of the fight boiled down to getting through the adds fast enough that the fight remains under control. It was so hectic towards the end of the fight, that the kill took a few of us by surprise. In total, it was 19 attempts for a satisfying kill.

 

Blackhand Heroic

Blachand Heroic Fidelity

Blackhand was an epic struggle on heroic difficulty, but we finally managed to kill him on the first raid night on the last week before the patch… not once… but twice!

As evident in the screenshot above, our roster was variable each time we got to give Blackhand a pummeling. To make matters more interesting we probably had more changes in personnel in a given night on blackhand than on other bosses. There’s nothing quite like seeing momentum stall half way through a raid night as we adjust. Hats off our healers and DPS that swapped specs at the drop of that hat.

We persevered, and even gave our newest healer the trial by fire to end all trials by fire (thanks Sinnafein for sticking it out). After 50 pulls, spirits were high. The first phase didn’t seem so bad (but the deaths in this phase really started to sting after a while). The second phase seemed pretty brutal. As we came up on the 100th pull, we thought we’d done our time and a kill should be close if we all just executed well. That’s when a missed impaling throw in the second phase started to sting… or when a Siegemaker killed too quickly one pull and then spread fire in the next started to really get under the skin.

We persevered… Over the course of the next 100 pulls, we got creative. Warlocks, jumping to the ledges to try and clear the first wave of Iron Soldiers. More healers. Less healers! Less and less and less people getting punted up to deal with the Iron Soldiers.

Finally it came to the Wednesday before what we were pretty sure was the last week before the patch. We only had twelve raiders. Jondy and Sinn were joined by Wickedflow and Inowyn in their offspecs for healing duty. I was confident that even four healing, the remaining damage dealers were up to the task. Crucial to this evening’s strategy was having Esta (Carboxylate) have his unholy way with the Iron Soldiers, so the rest of the crew could concentrate on Blackhand and the Siegemakers. Between Esta’s necrotic plague and my deep wounds, the Iron Soldiers both coughed up a lung and bled out very effectively, and if that wasn’t enough Hagrim’s shield to the face worked a treat.

We were into the third phase within an hour of the raid night, and we all knew that we finally had momentum towards a kill. It took us another hour to get back to phase three, frustratingly close to a kill. Two attempts later we were back there. Then, to more relief than joy, Blackhand fell.

After popping the bubbly, and having a great night’s sleep… my bone deep understanding of how raid lockouts work bubbled to the surface. It’s heroic. It’s flexible. There’s actually no reason we couldn’t just kill him again the next night. So that is exactly what we did. We grabbed our four missing people from the previous night and faced off against Blackhand. True to form, the addition of four raiders prompted a completely different composition. Inowyn and Wickedflow went back to dealing damage. Shakes and Kal were back, so we stayed with four healers for a group of 16. Wicked was able to help out with the Iron Soldiers who were more numerous. With the confidence that comes from having already killed it, 10 pulls later we had our second kill.

the Take Two Crew

the Take Two Crew

Blast Furnace Heroic

Blast Furnace Heroic

The dynamics of flexible raiding made every night different on Heroic Blast Furnace. For the first phase, we would split the raid with a variable lopsidedness on the Foreman’s side. We burnt down the bellows operator, but left up the engineers to score bonus bombs before he dropped his sack.

While we had this phase running like clockwork, on the night of our kill we had about six pulls in a row that were a total cluster $#@%. We had both the second bellows operators at high health, not even needing a second engineer to die to close both regulators. In the ensuing chaos, we lost one or two people and it got worse from there.

However, when Shakers came online, the dynamic shifted. Wicked could get back to DPSing, and instead of 3 heals, 11 raiders… we had 3 heals and 12. With the extra DPS on Foremans side, we could be sure to make quick work of the bellows operator and get into the second phase in even better shape.

The impact of an extra DPS flowed into the second phase, with the primal elementalists being more consistently killed in one shield phase, and the firecallers dealt with quicker. A consistent frustration throughout progression on the boss was the struggle between getting to each elementalist quicker and dealing with the firecallers more efficiently. Particularly as the last elementalist died, how many firecallers remained alive, and how quickly they died.

Fortunately, on our usual last, heroic pull of the night, as the last elementalist went down, we had one firecaller almost dead, and the other got obliterated. Our DPS switched to the few remaining security guards quickly and we survived the initial onslaught of damage.

The tank damage in the last phase is crazy, with Heat ticks being most of the damage. Usually with tank swap mechanics you can afford to save resources for the next tank swap… but even off the boss active mitigation and cycling cooldowns were key to survival. Having said that, the first time we got into the phase cleanly, it was a kill.

Overall the difficulty was a giant step up from Iron Maidens, and despite taking over 70 attempts on the boss, it was comparatively a more decisive kill than the rest of the bosses in Blackrock Foundry as far as guild ranking is concerned. Sometimes it’s just nice to know that when a boss is kicking you around, it’s seriously messing other guilds up too.

Oregorger Heroic

Oregorger Heroic Fidelity

Heroic Oregorger turned out to be quite the dramatic affair. We had 13 raiders on deck, and 4 healers. As we rotated cooldowns and tanks for Acid Torrent, the healing requirement was well in hand. Hagrim and I were fortunate to each have our own personal druid for Iron Bark as well.

Having plenty of practise at the Hunger Drive phase in normal, it didn’t take too long for people to adjust to the increased health of crates, and the extra healing required. We had our healers stay on the center corners and pleaded with DPS to manage their health and time away from the healers.

The most difficult part of the fight was coming out of Hunger Drive, and getting people into a position that mirrored the start of the fight. Making sure everyone stacked quickly, the boss snapped into the correction position (with melee and tanks in range and in line of sight of the healers). Once we had that sorted we were well on our way to a kill …

… until at the very end of the fight, the boss threw a tantrum and started jumping up and down. Health bars started heading south, even through the faint sounds of a tranquility in the distance… People started crumbling, and those that remained tried to rob Oregorger of the last of his life. Until, only the two tanks remained. I didn’t die to Oregorger’s Earthshaking Stomp, despite what the combat logs might suggest. As I slamed my shield with all my might into Oregorger, I heard the cries from a fallen ally, “Go Hagrim!”… and my will to live faded as quickly as my shield barrier.

Fortunately, the man-mountain Hagrim, and all around stoic tank isn’t given to fits of hysteria, and so calmly dispatched the boss, rendering his loot available to all. Three cheers for Hagrim, and Dwarves everywhere.

Gruul Heroic

Gruul Heroic Fidelity

After picking up some new raiders (and friends) and hitting 7/10 in normal Blackrock Foundry, we were overdue for our meeting with Gruul on Heroic. Gruul didn’t disappoint, hitting significantly harder than on normal and beating us about a little bit. However, little did Gruul know, the raid had become a little attuned to the difficulty of normal. Little by little our execution was refined and by the 9th attempt he almost felt like we switched it back to normal.

We had 13 raiders in for the kill, and while the flex mode system means we can take a variable number of raiders… it feels like our healers are bearing the downside of that flexibility. We have both over and under healed encounters which each has its own challenges. The highlight so far has been two healing Operator Thogar on normal for our first kill, with our two druid healers Jondayla and Shakers bonding over fast moving trains. Pieorcake has also switched from Elemental (or Enhancement) to Restoration depending the fight and attendance which has helped out too.

Onwards and upwards, we are coming for you, gorger of ore!

Tectus Heroic

Tectus Heroic Fidelity

<Fidelity> is back from our usual Summer break, with very little time to raid before the break we were itching to get back into Highmaul. Easing our way back into the raid, we finished off normal mode Imperator, and set our sights back on Heroic mode.

The (relatively) passive gear accumulation while on a break from raiding was immediately apparent. We blew through Kargath Bladefist, and decided to hit The Butcher right in the face. After trying the boss before the break somewhat undergeared, he seemed positively manageable. Four attempts later, he was dead. We detoured to pick up a Twin Ogron kill before hitting up Brackenspore. Another four attempts was enough to see another new boss fall.

Finally, we arrived at our third new boss for the night, Tectus, the Living Mountain. New being a relative term of course, having cleared the instance on normal mode already. The Tectus fight started swimmingly, killing add and giving the boss a good what for! Half way through the fight, we lost a couple of DPS to a Tectonic Upheaval and could only resurrect one. Only 30 seconds later, we lost another couple simultaneously to a Crystalline Barrage, and had to wait for the resurrection timer before reviving a second lost damage dealer. Finally, amidst the cries alerting us all to both the impending enrage and corpses, the phrase ‘we’ll be fine’, was enough to head down and power through the last of the motes for a one shot kill.

So after conveniently skipping blog posts for many bosses… we’re all caught up at 5/7H. I’ll be posting our boss kill photos with some (hopefully) terse comments for previous kills as time permits.

Thok the Bloodthirsty 10 Man Heroic

Thok 10 Man Heroic Fidelity

Thok the Bloodthirsty met his match in spectacular fashion. On the last pull of the night, a steady night of progression peaked to obliterate the boss before the fire phase could begin… but things weren’t always that effortless.

Just getting to Thok has been a bit of a struggle over the last couple of months. We’ve been recruiting for new members, and had some key members chain their absences to make our roster look a delicious hunk of Emmental. However, we have met some lovely people from Khaz’goroth, our connected realm partner and have made the most of those pesky extra upgrades (heroic scenario anyone?).

Thok clocked in at 65 attempts, and once we got into the meat of him… progression was pretty solid as we learned the strategy. Phase one became comfortable quite quickly, quite often needing to stop healing to avoid hitting that 31st deafening screech.

Kiting Thok between phases definitely required a major adjustment from normal mode. We kited across the room, down the the back right cage, diagonally across the room to the other cage and then whoosh! we flew down to the entrance of the room courtesy of Wickedfoe’s warlock portal. We would usually kill the jailer before the third kite, and I would wait until the fourth kite has around two seconds left before opening the next cage (which meant the guy Thok ate didn’t have a chance to move and mess up our positioning). That all sounds simple enough, but it gets increasingly difficult when people are targeted twice in a row, and Wicked is so close to being Thok’s next meal that he can’t afford to throw up the portal.

The infusion of acid phase was the most difficult by far (which should be no surprise). The combination of the poisons and the bats can make for a lot of damage. We ended up having Hagrim (Paladin) tank Thok until the bats were dead, and me (Warrior) use a mocking banner to pick them up, and we’d AoE them down. Fortunately we had a variety of AoE stuns to assist as well. I found I could comfortably tank them in the middle of the two groups without risking my health dropping under 50% and potentially phasing Thok.

The infusion of frost phase is fun, if only for the Starved Yeti that breaks loose and runs around like a madman. In hindsight, we probably could have afforded to kill him off… but just getting out of his way seemed like the right thing to do. The taunt cycle for the freezing breath seemed very tight, but fortunately between bubbles and DPS breaking people out of ice tombs quicker than you can blink it wasn’t problematic.

I would love to tell you all about the infusion of flame phase, but we either hit it with people dead and mayhem ensued or… we avoided it all together. On that magical last pull of the night, everyone focused up, counted their 4/4 upgrades and boom! Killed before we could finish kiting after frost. I think we managed come in at under 60% after the first phase which was a great start to a well executed kill.

Many thanks to both Solidshot and Bigearrss from <Blacklotus Brotherhood>. They have been keen to raid with us over the last few weeks, and even convince their fellow guildies to come and get saved to a heroic lockout for just a couple of pulls when our roster has had some hiccups. It’s easy going guys like these, from a guild that has been around since classic that can turn potentially frustrating raid night into a blast.

Malkorok 10 Man Heroic

Malkorok 10 Man Heroic Fidelity

Heroic Malkorok was definitely a step up from both Iron Juggernaut and Nazgrim. We killed it in a similar number of attempts (54) as Shamans (44) but it definitely felt like it should have been quicker.

Malkorok is just one of those unforgiving fights. None of the mechanics is particularly complicated, and we had the pleasure of single tanking the blood rage as our resident Beard-Sprite stood firm against the assault. However, with all the balls, and the pass / fail on getting in the purple swirlies the fight is challenging.

On our kill we had not one… not two… but three warlocks. They were all narrowly eclipsed in DPS prowess by Esta and Vell on the kill, but the damage charts did have an impressive band of purple all within 1.5% of each other.

Two healing and solo tanking made the enrage timer a reasonable proposition. We positioned each healer either side of the boss, and positioned two DPS at intervals between each healer around the room. Since Esta is our only melee, we had a DPS spare for some redundancy on one side. Aside from ‘accidental’ ball collision, we only used classes with immunities (let’s just call them Paladins) to clear balls during the regular phase. Then during blood rage, we’d go a little nuts trying to clear the room with defensive cooldowns and all that spare healing that wasn’t directed at Hagrim. Repeat. Win.