It’s been a while since I’ve done a post on an upcoming feature in WoW and my thoughts on it, but based on the discussions I had with guildmates last night and the flurry of activity on Twitter, now seems like as good of a time as ever to jump back in to blogging. I can spout of excuses as to why there haven’t been many updates, but pretty much the best thing I can say is that the experiences that have kept me from blogging lately are going to result in blog posts in the future. I’ve been lax on communicating Paladin news and even more lax on my general opinion pieces. That changes now!
The Flexible Raiding Announcement
Last night I was sitting in Mumble bumbling my way through a heroic scenario on my Warlock with guildmates (who knew that clothies don’t have the armor that a Paladin does?!) when suddenly a message flashed up on my screen from guild chat from another member who basically said “One of the 5.4 features is going to be flexible raiding!” Instantly intrigued, and probably almost as instantly killed (man, I HATE that boat scenario. HATE IT), I alt-tabbed to Twitter to see Tweets scrolling by faster than I could read; all discussing this new flexible raiding feature. We rolled through the heroic (haha, there were 2 monks in the group, get it? Roll? Hahaha…never mind) and I immediately pulled up the entire announcement on Blizzard‘s website.
Here’s what it said:
Raids in World of Warcraft have a long history of not just challenging players, but changing and evolving as the years and expansions go by. As with everything in the game, we’re always thinking about what more we can bring to raiding to improve the experience for an even wider range of players. While Normal and Heroic Raids are a great fit for many, we feel there’s another gap worth filling—and to that end, we’re currently working on the development of a new type of Raid for the next major content update: Flexible Raiding.
One Size Does Not Fit All
While it’s impossible to fit every player into a neat, tidy archetype, we recognize that we could be providing a better experience to one broad category of raider: social groups comprised predominantly of friends and family, and smaller guilds that do their best to include as many members in their Raid outings possible.
During the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, the 10-player Normal difficulty served these groups of players pretty well, but the unification of 10-player and 25-player into a single difficulty effectively eliminated that niche. While Raid Finder mode is extremely accessible, it doesn’t provide smaller groups with a tight-knit social experience while progressing through the content. In Patch 5.4, we’re planning to introduce a new mode of raiding that allows us to deliver the sort of experience that we think these players are looking for.
To fill this void, we’re in the process of developing a new Flexible Raid system, which includes a new difficulty that sits between Raid Finder and Normal difficulty, while still allowing friends, family, or pick-up groups to play together. This difficulty will be available for premade groups of 10–25 players, including any number in between. That means whether you have 11, 14, or 23 friends available for a Raid, they’ll all be able to participate.
The Flexible Raid system is designed so that the challenge level will scale depending on how many players you have in the Raid. So if you switch between 14 players one week and 22 the next, the difficulty will adjust automatically. Keep in mind that unlike Raid Finder, no matchmaking is available, so you’ll need to make sure you invite people to attend—but if some can’t make it, it’s not the end of the world (or the Raid). You’ll also still be able to invite Real ID or Battle.net friends cross-realm. Who you choose to bring and what Item Level gear they’ll need to join your merry band is up to you, too—there’s no Item Level requirement for this Raid difficulty.
Dressed to Kill
A new Raid difficulty also means a new Item Level. Flexible mode will award loot with an Item Level that falls between Raid Finder and Normal quality, and will use the Raid Finder’s “per person” loot system, specialization choices, and bonus rolls, so you won’t need to worry about bringing the “wrong” person and having them win that piece of gear you’ve long been waiting for.
You Have the Keys
We plan to unlock the Flexible Raid difficulty in wings, similar to Raid Finder, but on an accelerated timetable. This new difficulty also has a separate Raid lockout from Raid Finder and Normal difficulty, allowing you to take part in all three if you so desire. You’ll also be able to complete portions of your “Glory of the Orgrimmar Raider” raid meta- achievement in Flexible mode as well as in Normal or Heroic to earn cosmetic rewards such as an epic mount. This will allow Raid groups the opportunity to switch off nights between raids to complete achievements. Finally, taking part in Flexible, Normal, or Heroic difficulty will provide access to additional rewards that won’t be available in Raid Finder.
Getting Down to Brass Tacks
As with any in-development feature, we’re continuing to refine how the Flexible Raid system will work, and we look forward to hearing your constructive feedback from your experiences on the Public Test Realm when the new system goes live.
I read the entire post to the 2 guildmates in Mumble and we vacillated between excitement and dread. And let me explain why…
Flexible Raid Excitement
The concept of having an adjustable slider to scale a raid dependent on the number of members is a great step forward in WoW’s future. I’d love to be able to bring my raid team every night to down bosses as a team and not put anyone on standby. The ability to group up with RealID friends who are off-realm for current content is also a great step forward and will benefit many of my WoW friends. Not to mention being able to say “hey everyone, let’s get together and bash some bosses as a group!” This appeals to me because of how we do LFR in my guild. We do an open invite for all the members and raiders, plus we extend invites to friends off realm and even go as far as opening it up to our realm for a weekly standing invite. LFR for Enigma is a big, crazy, sometimes drunken, fun night. We go in to parts 3 and 4 and explain fights, steamroll bosses, and laugh and tease each other in Mumble. We listen to the fun competition between our guildmates and friends in another guild. We wait for the poorly timed Time Warps because our Mage’s trinkets procc’ed and he goes “I NEED ALL THE MAD DEEPS.” It’s fun! But being able to do that specifically with friends? Even more fun.
Flexible Raid Dread
Flexible raid dread will probably be more likely to apply to players who play at the level of intensity that I do. Right now, there’s no real need for me to be running LFR, aside from a chance at the non-existent Runes I need to finish out the current stage of the Legendary. I need no loot from LFR, but I religiously do parts 3 and 4 because until last week, my guild hadn’t gotten that far in our content clearing, so I needed to make sure I was getting Runes from somewhere. But let’s assume I was trying to Valor cap (because I do this for gear upgrading), or I was still looking for Off Spec gear, so I’m running all 4 parts of LFR. And because it’s LFR and I usually only sign into WoW around 9p and log by midnight, I’m going to get through 2 LFR segments a night. Well there’s 2 nights in LFR. I also raid lead my 10-man team through Throne of Thunder right now, 2 days a week. So there’s 4 nights already in the same content. Flexible raiding has a chance to give better loot than LFR, so why wouldn’t I jump at the possibility to get items better than what drops in LFR? Even with friends, I don’t think it’s going to be possible to clear all of the flex raid bosses in one night, so let’s slot 2 nights for the flex raid content. That puts me back up to raiding the same content 6 nights a week. The last time I raided 6 nights a week AND managed a guild was in BC, and I had significant burn-out. But this is even worse! In BC I was only raiding 25-man progression content 4 nights a week and then we had 2 nights devoted to Karazhan and Zul’Aman. Now I’m looking at 6 nights? There is not enough alcohol in the world to make that realization go down smoothly.
One of the positive sides to LFR is that it gives your group what you need. If you need tanks, you get them. Same for healers or DPS. But for a flex raid, you have to handle the group comp yourself. This isn’t a huge deal, but some weeks we only bring 1 healer to LFR. One healer isn’t going to cut it in a flex raid. You still need to bring 2 tanks and 2-3 healers, at a minimum. So what happens if I can’t scrounge up healers? I guess I can pug it, but then I might as well do LFR.
Then there’s the gearing concept. Some of my fellow raiders go to the extremes to make sure they have the best possible gear they can get their hands on. That means running LFR for upgrades, that means raiding. LFR is my fallback for pieces I don’t get in normal raids. Flexible raiding would be another fallback that I’d work into my rotation. It’s not that I love the content so much I want to run it every night (and sometimes I run it on multiple alts) on my main just for a chance that one of the 3 raid settings available to me could get me upgrades. So I should take advantage of them. It would be foolish of me to NOT.
Oh yea, and then there’s the alt Army. Right now I have 3 characters who can run ToT LFR. My main, a DPS alt, and a healing alt. My second tank and second healer are just a few points shy of ToT. I like keeping my alts somewhat current if I enjoy playing them. And I love my warlock, and my shaman, and my priest, and my DK…I want to be able to keep playing them, as well as my other alts I’m still leveling. I had 12 characters at level 80 when Wrath ended, so it’s not like I’m leveling characters from 1-90. They don’t have a TON of leveling to do, but I still want to level them. And that’s time that I have to pull away from gearing my main character. My brain won’t let me NOT try to make my main the best that I can be for my raid team. It just doesn’t work that way for me.
My fellow guildmates are wrestling with some of the same concerns. When we sign on to play, we hammer through the content so we have time to do other things. We are excellent time managers. But 6 nights a week devoted to 1 raid? Right now we have some challenges getting people to come to raid and LFR. As a raid leader, I now have to figure out how to make all the pieces come together. Do I tell everyone that LFR is off the calendar and if you want to run it, you’re on your own? I can put flex raid dates up on the guild calendar without issue, but what happens if I don’t get enough healers for the run? I guess then I’m off to RealID, once again, not a huge issue. But then we’re trying to jive schedules and time zones and other people’s raid calendars. WILL THEY BLEND?!? It basically becomes a scheduling nightmare…
What I’d Love to See…
When I heard the name “Flexible Raiding,” I honestly thought we were going to see a melding of 10 and 25-man raiding. There wasn’t going to be a 10-man or a 25-man raiding option, it was going to be flexible and it was going to scale with what you brought. If you brought 15 people, you could still raid. If you only had 23, well, still raiding! I didn’t want it to be yet another lockout to make sure I took advantage of.
Blizzard made a comment that it will help small friends and family guilds raid. In the grand scheme of things, I don’t think it will. Setting the starting point at 10 seems too high to me. Lowering it to 8 makes more sense, because usually one of the limitations to for a small guild is finding those last couple people so they can start raiding. Someone on WoW Insider even mentioned scaling a raid size to 40, in case people wanted to feel the epicness of a large scale raid. I’m all for this!
I don’t need more lockouts to juggle. Give me LFR and give me a scaling raid size that I can take advantage of for my raid team. So I can help out friends if they need it, and even form up for large scale raid fun with friends, if we so chose. But please Blizzard, another raid lockout to juggle, another ilvl to calculate, another raid schedule to manage. Give me the flexibility to play on a varying scale, but allow me to have the time to enjoy the other aspects of the game you’ve made available. Please don’t make me clear content for a third time so I can stay competitive for myself and my team.
- A person or thing that is mysterious, puzzling, or difficult to understand.
- A riddle or paradox.
riddle – puzzle – conundrum – mystery
Those of you who are regular readers have probably noticed that I haven’t been updating regularly. Some of it had to do with my decision to not cover each raid boss for the tier, some of it has had to do with things in WoW, and then there’s been a sprinkle of real life in the mix as well.
You’ll notice that my realm location has changed. You’ll notice that my guild tag has changed if you look at me via the Armory links.
And now let me explain why…
Let me welcome you to the unveiling of Enigma, a Horde raiding guild on Wyrmrest Accord.
What is Enigma? Enigma is the blood, sweat, and tears of a trio of players who are dedicated to the player and the ability to progress through WoW content. We are a guild of adults striving to enjoy all that WoW offers, whether it be raiding, dungeons, achievements, or pet battles.
Our Mission: To foster a tight-knit community and progress through current content two nights a week.
So why am I sharing this? Well, aside from letting readers know where I am now, I also want to open our doors to potential raiding applicants. We raid Tuesday and Wednesday from 6-9p server (9-midnight Eastern). The team is almost full, so there aren’t many spots available!
What we are looking for in a raider:
- 18 years of age, or older
- Thrives on challenge
- Is patient
- Is willing to listen to constructive critism
- Show up to raid focused and ready to perform at their best
- Will push themselves to improve each and every raid
- Enjoys helping others
- Has a good sense of humor
- Is not easily offended
- Is interested in doing things with guildmates (as opposed to joining just for the benefits)
- Strives to avoid drama
- Plays regularly
The details of raiding with Enigma can be found in our Raiding FAQ. Raid team applicants must accept everything outlined in the Raiding FAQ before they will be considered for a trial position. Each applicant will undergo an interview with the guild officers to determine fit.
In addition to accepting the raiding policy, all applicants to the guild must accept and adhere to the Guild Policies. Failure to follow the outlined rules will result in removal from the guild.
If you are interested in applying, please check out our Recruitment page for the application process.
Enigma in 5.2
As Blizzard just announced on Monday, February 11, 2013, patch 5.2 will be dropping by the end of the month. We realize that only a small collection of members who currently make up the raid team will have enough gear to step into the Thunder King’s stronghold. With that in mind, the raid leaders have decided that the raid team will begin with, and progress through, the previously released content before stepping foot into Tier 15. This means that we will be starting in MSV, working through HoF, cleaning up in Terrace, and then evaluating our readiness for the new raid.
Another giant step that I have chosen to take, but one that has never felt more right. If you are looking for a home in WoW full of fun, active, and amusing players, drop us a note. If you’d like to give raiding a go in a solid group who likes to chatter during trash, take a moment to fill out an application. We’re currently looking for some strong DPS, but any class/role is welcome to apply.
Thanks for being here to take this next step with me and my friends, and I will try my damnedest to turn out some more content on…content and on guild leadership in the near future!
I apparently have had my blog closed in my tabs list for a while…completely unplanned! There’s been a lot going on IRL and in WoW, so I’m finally having some down time to actually do some writing! So let’s talk prot as it currently stands in Mists of Pandaria!
I’ve been 90 for a while now, and have wrapped up my 3rd week of raiding Mogu’shan Vaults on Tuesday. My raid team is currently 3/6, while I have gone 4/6 in pugs and have devoted lots of time to Elegon. Prot paladins are at a weird point in WoW, which can make an introduction to the class a touch challenging for new players.
In Cataclysm, paladins were very easily able to to CTC cap. CTC stands for Combat Table Coverage. In short terms, it was your ability to push hits off the table. The magic number was 102.4% and was a combination of the 5% chance to miss, your block, and your avoidance stats. Prot paladins were able to cap easily due to how Mastery worked with our spec. Blizzard decided that they didn’t like how easily paladins reached the 102.4% sweet spot, so they shared that they would modify the ability for any class to CTC cap, making it impossible to occur in Mists.
CTC capping was why you started seeing end-game raiding paladins gemming pure Stamina instead of hybrid gems. We had gotten to the point that we were shedding mitigation stats for avoidance and stamina. Much fun was had in LFR being called a “stamina stacking idiot” by armchair tanks who had no clue how to play the class.
Now, Mists has thrown a wrench into the entire gearing scheme. In the past, Mastery was king for us. We cared little for hit or expertise. Dodge and Parry weren’t bad, but we really REALLY wanted that Mastery. So now what do we look for?
Well, it depends on your gearing scheme. Theck, over at Sacred Duty, has done a ton of Matlab simulations to determine what is going to benefit paladins the most.
We already know that expertise and hit matter. Blizzard told us that with the change to active mitigation (AM), we will value these stats. Simply put, if our attacks don’t land, then we can’t mitigate hits from bosses.
My stat priority is as follows:
Expertise hard cap (5100) > Hit hard cap (2550) > Haste > Mastery > Dodge/Parry
Yes, haste is my next focus after I expertise and hit cap. Why am I stacking haste as a tank? Haste means more hits during a fight, meaning more DPS thanks to Vengeance. Expertise means more hits actually landing, which means we are generating holy power at a regular rate, which we are spending on Shield of the Righteous.
You can choose to swap Haste and Mastery in the priority list, depending on how you are choosing to gear. The lowest priority for you is your avoidance stats. They just aren’t worth it. As Theck states at the end of his post:
Shifting that dodge and parry into hit, expertise, and mastery or haste can reduce the likelihood of 80% spikes by a factor of 3 and that 90% spike by a factor of 100. While we can’t say that this makes you 3x of 100x more survivable, it’s pretty clear that abandoning avoidance is a large survivability increase. You’re choosing to preferentially eliminate the most dangerous events at the cost of a little more throughput damage, and I think any healer will tell you that’s a good trade.
If your mind can take tables and a lot of math, Theck’s post, Damage Smoothing: Expertise, Mastery, and Haste is a must read. Also take a moment to check out the first post on the topic, Avoidance, Mitigation, and Damage Smoothing.
Since our gearing priorities have changed, it means that our gear options are completely crazy too. I assembled a BiS list for Dragon Soul and shared it in this blog. I took the time to assemble a “possible tank gear list” after our first week of raiding, and it’s linked from the Excel graphic on the right. As my guild and raid team have discovered, spreadsheets are my answer to everything! Gear is sortable by slot (at some point I’ll make it sortable by raid boss). Bolded gear is what I am targeting for my BiS list. Items that have been lined out are pure avoidance pieces and should be avoided at all costs. None of the gear on this spreadsheet has crit. I dismissed every piece of gear with crit on it as DPS loot (because it is).
If you have any questions about the spreadsheet, feel free to hit me up in the comments or on Twitter!
This is a bit up in the air right now. My recommendation is to hybrid gem, working to assist in your hard capping of expertise and hit. I’m currently using Guardian’s Imperial Amethysts in my red and blue sockets, and Forceful Wild Jades in my yellows. My gemming will adjust as I reach my caps.
Here’s the list of enchants:
|Shoulders||Greater Ox Horn Inscription||+300 Stamina and +100 Dodge|
|Back||Enchant Cloak – Greater Protection||+200 Stamina|
|Chest||Enchant Chest – Superior Stamina||+300 Stamina|
|Wrists||Enchant Bracer – Dodge||+170 Dodge|
|Hands||Enchant Gloves – Superior Mastery||+170 Mastery|
|Legs||Ironscale Leg Armor||+430 Stamina and +165 Dodge|
|Feet||Enchant Boots – Pandaren’s Step||+140 Mastery and increased run speed|
|Shield||Enchant Shield – Greater Parry||+170 Parry|
Enchanters should be making sure they are enchanting their rings with [Enchant Ring - Greater Stamina], which adds +240 stamina to each ring. Jewelcrafters will want to be making use of their JC only gems.
Call me lazy, or let me tell you that I have a lot going on during raids that pulls my attention elsewhere, but I use WeakAuras to keep my attacks front and center on my screen so I can be aware of my cooldowns. Theck has been kind enough to keep sharing his WeakAuras strings on his blog. Scroll down to the bottom of his Tankadin WeakAuras Strings: 5.0.5 post for the strings to copy into the addon.
This makes my life infinity easier because I have it right in the center of my screen, so it’s a quick glance to see when I need to refresh Sacred Shield or if wings are coming off CD.
When Enveloping Shadows wants bosses dead, we’ll get bosses dead. Past experience has proven that we can put our minds into this zen state and steamroll through content that we may have been dragging our feet on earlier. ES saw Heroic Zon’ozz and Hagara fall on the same night, completely unplanned, but quickly doable once we buckled down and focused.
Which is why, in the grand scheme of things, our July 31st and August 1st raids don’t surprise me at all.
The Final Countdown
The team showed up, energetic and ready to get more attempts on Heroic Spine. We had been getting to third plate with regularity, but hadn’t been able to hold it all together long enough to beat the encounter. We rolled through 6/8 Heroics, with only a mild hiccup on Skittles (something about a Blood DK out-healing a druid by 80%). The team blew through Heroic Gunship, and our raid leader gave us a quick reminder of our Heroic Spine strat before we were parachuted down onto Deathwing’s back.
We lost a healer early on, but we kept pushing through the plates. The tanks were making changes to our strat on the fly, adjusting as we found rhythm to a fight we’ve been working on sporadically for months. And then, after almost 3 months of beating our heads against Heroic Spine, the DPS popped that final plate off and achievements lit up my screen.
There was a pause for screaming in Mumble, and then we were on the platforms for Madness. And we all paused, realizing that probably no one had looked at the strat. Our raid leader called for a 10 minute break for people to go read up, relax, or see family after our Heroic Spine 1-shot, so that they could come back to their PCs and be ready to push ahead on Madness.
I remember glancing at the clock, my mind still unable to process that we 1-shot Spine, realizing we were about to attempt the final fight of this raid tier, and it wasn’t even 9p.
Descent into Madness
The raid team reconvened, people still in shock that we had 1-shot Spine, and I quickly began discussing survivability with my cotank. We decided to “wing it” and see what would happen for impales as we tossed around cooldown ideas. Our raid leader gave a quick rundown of the fight and we gave it a go (or 5). The beginning fights were discovering just how squishy I was on impales–quick trinket/glyph swapping, and we were back in business. (Quick note: Blood Death Knights are SUCH a broken class. My cotank takes an impale and drops to 95% health while I’m freaking out as the healers are recovering from me dropping to 40%. Blahblahblah nerf DKs =P) When we called our attempts for the night, we were clearing to platform 4 without issue, so we knew we had it in the bag on our next raid night.
The team showed up on Wednesday, ready to take Deathwing down once and for all. Our Holy priest had spec swapped after the previous raid to give Disc a go. Our warriors respecc’d for slows, I tweaked my glyphing even more, and we knuckled down for more attempts. We saw a .5% wipe and knew that we had the fight down. We would have had a kill on that attempt, but one of our legendary staff wielders DC’d on one of the platforms and we just couldn’t recover before the enrage hit.
No speeches by yours truly (running joke from H. Gunship–Miri would give a fail pep talk and we’d down the boss on the next attempt, so the speech became a requirement for H. Gunship kills), instead you could feel the energy of the team in Mumble–they were ready for the kill! We zoned back in, focused, and away we went!
It was one of those moments, just like on Heroic Spine, where the achievements caught me off guard! On Spine I was wrangling bloods and had no clue what the tendon was at. On Madness I was slowing bloods so that we could push more DPS to end the fight. Neither time did I know health percentages, so when my screen lit up with Heroic Madness, I screamed for the second time in two days!
With the entire team standing, not a single death, we beat the enrage by almost 40 seconds! We were ecstatic! We doled out loot (Gurth and Kiril), and in typical ES fashion handed the drake to one of our druids.
We learned Madness, start to finish, in under 4 hours. We beat the tier, the expansion, and we still had hours left of raid. The team was let go early to go celebrate, and I raised a shot glass several times in toast to the team that achieved the kill.
Of course, finishing off Deathwing once and for all netted many of the raiders their Glory of the Dragon Soul Raider, so we had to go pose for pictures!
It feels good to complete a raid tier when it’s still current content. It feels even better to complete an expansion’s final boss. Wrapping up Dragon Soul gives me closure to move on to MoP–a chapter that I am more than willing to let become a memory. Dragon Soul meant much to ES; our raid team shrunk from 25 to 10. Our raid leaders changed, our comp was continuously evolving. And still we persevered. The team banded together and supported each other through the entire tier, proving that 10 people with goals can achieve anything–even in a video game.
A big thanks and a massive congrats to my raid team. I look forward to us tackling MoP together in the near future!
I’ve been incredibly busy since I came back from travel in April. Work has been a massive time sink–I’ve been training new team members and trying to get better control of my crazy work life–because, well, at some point, I don’t want to be working 12+ hour days.
That being said, I relocated in May, and now spend 14 hours a week commuting (2 days a week). If you ever doubted my sanity, this should erase any question of doubt!
I’m still raiding with Enveloping Shadows 2 nights a week. We are currently wiping on Heroic Spine, and most nights end with me not even able to fathom where our weak point is (I have some ideas, but I’m still unsure). A lot of raid frustration is around the fact that our second staff (AKA, Staff 2.0), vanished from the game within a couple weeks of the team completing the second legendary (Staff 1.0 did the same thing). We currently cross our fingers at night that all 10 will sign on to raid because we don’t have any members on stand by. It’s a touch rough!
I haven’t given Beta much time, which annoys me to no end! I love playing it, and finally feel somewhat in tune with the new Paladin stuff, but I just haven’t had the time.
Most of my free time (what little there is) has been going to Diablo 3, where my Wizard is playing around in Nightmare level. I die a lot, but it’s fun She’s the only character I’ve played in D3, and I think I’ll be taking her up to Inferno before I consider rolling an “alt.”
I’m still on Twitter, though not as much as I was in the past. Usually because I’m so damn busy right now (which I’m hoping will change at the end of the month).
I’ve been studying for my Project Management Professional (PMP) certification and I’m testing at the end of the month. It’s a 4-hour test after 4 days of boot camp, so I’m hoping I can pull this off and cross it off my list before fiscal year ends!
I just returned from a jaunt to NC to do some teaming with my coworkers and meet the engineers who I abuse mercilessly on a daily basis. It was a great time to kick back, play some Kick Ball (yes, there are pictures), Bowl, drink, and eat a ton of sushi! My team is reorg’ing our business focus and alignment, as we are part of a service that no other company can offer to my customer base, so I’ve been doing a lot of design support at the ground level. I took on the massive redevelopment of our internal support space, so I will have my arms full with that for a bit–it’s a godsend that my Director supports my random goals and helps me out when I need it. We’ll see if this paves the way for some new role alignments in the future. I’ve been pondering a relo to NC in the next couple years but if I can put a support structure in place and maintain an escalation point for my greater team from the comfort of my home office (with little to no travel unless management requests), then I will be happy. We’ll see–this is the time where I have more flexibility to push for things that benefit me.
Anyway–it’s safe to say that very few of you give a shit about my private life, but I did want to let you know that I am still playing WoW (though not at the levels I used to, see above for reasoning) and that there are more blog posts in the pipeline!
Almost a month ago, I question was posed to me on Formsrping regarding Paladin BiS gear in Dragon Soul. The question was:
You mind showing the BiS gemmed and enchanted so we can get an idea?
It has been sitting flagged in my inbox begging me to take action, and my massive delay makes me feel pretty bad. Suffice to say, there’s a lot of craziness going on in my personal/professional life that won’t be settling out until the end of this month (but that’s another blog post). So the fact that I was able to pour a drink on a Friday night and run numbers with a friend was relaxing. And thus, this post was born!
Here is our quick and dirty findings for a Paladin BiS list in Dragon Soul. Our goals:
- Stamina stacking for the hardest heroic fights in Dragon Soul (Gunship and Spine)
- Maintaining a large amount of avoidance
- CTC capping (or close to)
The end result was almost obscene. Raid buffed (Devo Aura, Horn of Winter, Mark of the Wild, Fortitude, Steelskin, Feast Buff, stacked trinket), I was looking at the following numbers:
- 260,459 health
- 44,358 Armor
- 2,225 Dodge Rating (20.07%)
- 3,456.83 Parry Rating (20.60%)
- 56.82% Block Chance
- 45.67% Avoidance
- 102.49% CTC
I needed a moment after I saw those avoidance numbers…
Anyway, on to the gear list!
Note: Raz is a JC/Enchanter, so this list reflects those professions. The only difference is that a non-JC/non-Enchanter player will have a smaller health pool.
|Faceguard of Eternal Glory (410)||Eternal Shadowspirit Diamond
Solid Deepholm Iolite
Arcanum of the Earthen Ring
|Guardspike Choker (397)|
|Brackenshell Shoulderplates (410)||Solid Deepholm Iolite||
Greater Inscription of Unbreakable Quartz
Dodge -> Mastery
|Indefatigable Greatcloak (397)||Solid Deepholm Iolite||
Enchant Cloak – Protection
Expertise -> Mastery
|Chestguard of Radiant Glory (410)||Solid Deepholm Iolite
Solid Deepholm Iolite
Solid Deepholm Iolite
Enchant Chest – Greater Stamina
|Graveheart Bracers (410)||Solid Deepholm Iolite||
Enchant Bracer – Superior Dodge
|Handguards of Radiant Glory (410)||Solid Deepholm Iolite||
Enchant Gloves – Greater Mastery
Hit -> Mastery
|Goriona’s Collar (410)||Puissant Elven Peridot
Solid Deepholm Iolite
Dodge -> Mastery
|Legguards of Radiant Glory (410)||Solid Deepholm Iolite
Solid Deepholm Iolite
Solid Chimera’s Eye
Drakehide Leg Armor
Dodge -> Mastery
|Stillheart Warboots (410)||Solid Deepholm Iolite
Solid Deepholm Iolite
Enchant Boots – Mastery
|Curled Twilight Claw (410)||Solid Deepholm Iolite||
Enchant Ring – Greater Stamina
Hit -> Parry
|Hardheart Ring (410)||Solid Deepholm Iolite||
Enchant Ring – Greater Stamina
|Indomitable Pride (410)|
|Resolve of Undying (416)|
|Blackhorn’s Mighty Bulwark (410)||Puissant Elven Peridot
Solid Chimera’s Eye
Enchant Shield – Mastery
Dodge -> Parry
|Stoutheart Talisman (397)||Solid Chimera’s Eye||
Mastery -> Dodge
This may get tweaked a bit more, but that’s what I’m currently targeting!
A warped mass of molten hatred and unfathomable power, this formless, mindless horror cannot be stopped. Whatever was left of Neltharion the Earth-Warder is long gone, his mind and soul corrupted and devoured by his Old God masters. All this monstrous being desires is destruction, annihilation, and an end of all things. ~ Dungeon Journal
The first time you complete the Madness of Deathwing it is a breathless experience that will make you play on your toes. In fact, you can read my enthusiasm from when we downed him back in December here in my post entitled “Destroyer’s End.”
The only excitement in the fight for me now is when I forget to change one of my macros from a previous raid and I kill myself. But anyway…let’s talk Madness!
The Madness of Deathwing is a 2 phase fight that involves your raid team, the Dragon Aspects, and Thrall. When you arrive at the Maelstrom, you will discover the 4 platforms that the fight takes place on. Each platform belongs to a different Dragon Aspect and starting the fight with the raid on a different platform than the one Thrall is located on changes the difficulty of the fight substantially. In this guide, I will review the “standard” kill order, but you can always change it up!
Once you “kill” each of Deathwing’s limbs on the 4 platforms, the fight transitions into Phase 2, during which your raid fights Deathwing’s head for the final 20%. Succeed in your attempts and you will officially become the “Destroyer’s End.”
Each Dragon Aspect (and Thrall) provide your team with a buff to succeed and finally banish Deathwing from Azeroth. Their buffs are as follows (done by order of platform, far left to right):
- Alexstraza – The red dragon buffs your raid with Alexstraza’s Presence, which increases your health by 20%. She also casts Cauterize, which damages the tentacles that sprout from Deathwing’s limbs over 5 seconds and reduced the damage taken by the Corrupted Blood.
- Nozdormu – The bronze dragon grants Nozdormu’s Presence, which increases haste by 20%. Nozdormu also creates a yellow swirling circle on the platform, called Time Zone, which slows the Elementium Bolt that is cast at the platform and slows any mobs’ attack speed by 50% when fought within the zone.
- Ysera – The green dragon buffs healing by 20% with the Ysera’s Presence. She also provides a spell, a la Ultraxion, called Enter the Dream, which decreases all damage taken by 50% for 2 seconds.
- Kalecgos – The new leader of the Blues grants the Kalecgos’ Presence, which increases all damage done to Deathwing and his minions by 20%. Kalecgos also buffs the raid with Spellweaving, which causes roughly 23K Arcane damage to enemies within 6 yards, but excludes your current target.
- Thrall – While not a dragon, Thrall’s Carrying Winds will move players between the platforms (sometimes this fails) and increase the raid’s movement speed by 60% for 10 seconds.
Deathwing – Phase 1
The following are the various things that Deathwing will “toss” at the raid as you work your way across the platforms. Each platform faces the same enemies, but how they are dealt with depends on which Dragon Aspect(s) you have left. The order they are listed is the order that they appear during the fight.
- Assault Aspect – Deathwing casts this as soon as the fight begins and looks for the platform with the largest number of players and a platform that still has a limb attached to it.
- Arm/Wing Tentacle – The main attention grabber on the platform, your raid will focus on the tentacle when there is nothing else to kill. The tentacle casts Burning Blood, which causes Fire damage on the raid every 2 seconds. The damage gets worse as the Tentacle’s health decreases, so healers will need to be aware that healing will require more attention the lower the health of the Tentacle. Twice during the fight, at 70% and 40%, the tentacle sprouts Blistering Tentacles from it’s arm. These cannot be AoE’d and they attack with Blistering Heat, an ability that deals 2500 Fire damage every 2 seconds and increases damage by 2 every stack. When Alexstraza is active, she will be killing the Blistering Tentacles for your raid.
- Mutated Corruption – A bonus tentacle that will spawn in the back of the platform. This tentacle is picked up by the tanks and all DPS should switch to it immediately. The tanks swap when the Mutated Corruption casts Impale, but they must use a personal cooldown as Impale hits it’s targeted tank for 400K (physical) damage. Impale is channeled over 4 seconds before the hit lands. The Mutated Corruption also attacks the raid with Crush, which causes 100K (physical) damage in a conal attack. Your raid should spread out and not stack behind each other to reduce the chance of this affecting a large amount of your team. Once the Mutated Corruption is dead, your raid team will swap back to Deathwing’s limb.
- Elementium Bolt – The Elementium Bolt is slowed by Nozdormu’s Time Zone, but without the golden circle, it comes crashing into the platform and deals roughly 390K Fire damage to all players in range. The bolt will continue to pulse 390K Fire damage every 5 seconds until it is destroyed. It is recommended to focus the bolt as soon as it appears so it can either die before it hits the platform or soon after it lands. If your team can move quickly from the bolt’s landing location, they can reduce the damage they take when it collides with the platform.
- Hemorrhage – Once per platform, Deathwing’s tentacle will hemorrhage, causing Regenerative Blood to spawn. Bloods gain 10 energy every second, and when their energy reaches capacity, they heal themselves back to full. These are a high priority to kill with AoE because they are also casting Degenerative Bite, a stacking debuff which causes roughly 1500 Shadow damage every second for 10 seconds.
- Cataclysm – Deathwing will begin channeling Cataclysm as time progresses on each platform. Cataclysm is basically a hard enrage timer that is pushed back every time a limb is destroyed. If you fail to kill the limb in time, Deathwing will 1-shot your raid.
Once you destroy the limb on your platform, Deathwing becomes stunned and 20% of his health is whittled away. This is how Deathwing is at 20% health when you enter Phase 2.
Deathwing – Phase 2
Once your team lands on Ysera’s platform, the DPS race is on. Your raid will begin to attack Deathwing’s head, trying to deal as much damage as they can until the following adds spawn:
- Elementium Fragments – Three fragments will spawn in a 10-man raid. They will spawn at various spots on the platform, sometimes grouping up, sometimes spread out. Your DPS must switch to them immediately and burn them down. The fragments will debuff random members of the raid with Shrapnel, a spell that deals roughly 200K of unresistable physical damage. When players are targeted by Shrapnel, it is best if they make use of Ysera’s buff to Enter the Dream.
- Elementium Terror – Two Elementium Terrors spawn on the platform and must be picked up by the tanks. The melee attacks apply the Tetanus debuff onto the tanks, which inflict roughly 60K physical damage and an additional 20K physical damage every second. The Tetanus debuff stacks, and thus the adds must be killed off quickly to avoid the loss of a tank.
- Corrupted Blood – Applies a debuff that inflicts Fire damage on the raid every 2 seconds. When Deathwing hemorrhages at 15%, 10%, and 5%, the damage done by Corrupted Blood is increased.
Here’s how I handle Madness:
- Platform Order:
- Ysera (where you land)
- Nozdormu (left)
- Alexstraza (more left)
- Kalecgos (all the way right)
- DPS begin work on Limb.
- DPS/tanks switch to Mutated Corruption when it spawns.
- Tanks swap when Impale goes out.
- DPS swap to Elementium Bolt when it spawns.
- Finish off Bolt, finish off Mutated Corruption if it’s not already dead.
- AoE Regenerative Blood when they spawn.
- Kill Limb.
Platform 4 is handled a bit differently and is usually dependent on your raid’s DPS:
- DPS land on platform and stand around until Mutated Corruption spawns.
- DPS kill Mutated Corruption.
- DPS kill Elementium Bolt.
- DPS stand around and /dance while they wait for the Regenerative Blood to spawn.
- DPS kill Regenerative Blood.
- DPS kill Limb.
- Raidwall each time an Elementium Bolt gets ready to land.
- Cooldown order for Impales (note: these CDs allow you to take no damage from the impale, resulting in much love from your healers):
These are my picks, YMMV.
When Deathwing first channeled the Dragon Soul’s power against the other flights, the massive energies that were unleashed threatened to break apart his very body. Rather than forgo this weapon, he had adamantium plates fused to his scales to hold his body together. Later reinforced with elementium, these plates are now his weakness–the sole vulnerability to Deathwing’s lethal presence. ~Dungeon Journal
I’d be lying if I said that this fight was fun. I think a good amount of my delay in writing this guide has to do with just how boring this fight (and Madness as well) is on normal. Anyway, I’m I completionist and I have two fights left to cover, so let’s get through Spine of Deathwing. –M
Spine is exactly what it sounds like: the entire fight takes place on Deathwing’s back, during which you’re loosening (and removing) the plates that hold his body together, while killing the various things that spawn from his back.
If you have a weak stomach, it’s best not to think about what you’re killing on his back. It may make you squeamish.
Spine of Deathwing is a single phase fight that you must execute the same strategy three times before you are able to move on to the final fight of the raid, Madness of Deathwing.
Deathwing himself only has one ability that you need to watch out for: Roll. If Deathwing senses that the raid team is standing on one side of his back, he will attempt to roll in order to remove the players from his back. This can be quickly corrected by having your raid team spread out across the middle of his back. When this is achieved, a message will flash on your screen that says “Deathwing levels out.”
The roll is very useful, and you will want to roll Deathwing regularly, usually once each time you release a plate (so three rolls a fight), in order to shed excess mobs from his back.
In 10-man, Deathwing is very sensitive and can roll very easily–so be aware!
When you first parachute down onto Deathwing’s back, there are 4 Corruptions that emerge from his body. While the Corruptions are alive, they prevent anything from exiting the 4 hole in Deathwing’s back, IE, the Hideous Amalgamations and the Corrupted Blood, the two things you need to remove the plates from his back. Once all Corruptions have been killed on Deathwing’s back, another will spawn randomly from one of the holes. When a plate is removed, 2 new Corruptions spawn, but once they are all killed, only one will return.
Corruptions have 2 abilities in the raid:
- Searing Plasma (Physical) – A debuff that is placed on one member of the raid at a time, Searing Plasma will absorb the first 200K healing done on the target, or will expire after 5 minutes, whatever comes first. When the debuff is on a target, it deals 10K damage every 10 seconds.
- Fiery Grip (Fire) – Fiery Grip is a stun that is cast on a random member of the raid (never a tank) which stuns them until the Corruption has been damaged. In order to break the grip, 20% of it’s health must be removed. While a player is immobilized by the Corruption, they take 60K damage every 3 seconds, which makes breaking the grip of utmost importance.
I find that it is easiest to assign a DPS to own the responsibility of breaking Fiery Grip off of players, and then we assign a back-up to that DPS in case they are gripped themselves. This makes sure that the damage meted on the Corruption is controlled so you don’t worry about bursting them down too quickly and gaining an extra Amalgamation. The Corruptions do not have a large health pool, so the grip can be broken with 1 or 2 hits.
When you need to roll Deathwing, everyone dives into a hole previously occupied by a Corruption. While in the hole, Grasping Tendrils appear, which basically locks you in place for the roll. You don’t want to remain in the spot for too long, because they slow all affected players’ movement speed by 35% and cause roughly 3K damage every 5 seconds unless you move away from them. When it comes time to perform a roll, it’s easiest to only “lock in” until you have shed the adds you need to remove and then run out.
Amalgamations have the following 3 abilities, listed in order that they will appear:
- Absorb Blood – The ability only occurs if the Amalgamation gets too close to a Residue from a Corrupted Blood. The Amalgamation is normally kited over a stack of Corrupted Bloods and gathers several stacks at once. Absorb Blood results in the Amalgamation dealing 10% more damage and attacking 20% faster. Once the Amalgamation has absorbed 9 stacks of Residue (thus dealing 90% more damage and attacking 180% faster) it becomes superheated.
- Superheated Nucleus (Fire) – When the Amalgamation reaches 9 stacks, it begins to pulse fire damage to everyone in the raid. Every 3 seconds the Amalgamation deals roughly 15K damage to each member of the raid. Your goal is to activate the Superheated mode when the Amalgamation is at low health to reduce the amount of time you are in this phase.
- Nuclear Blast (Fire) – When the Amalgamation‘s health pool reaches 0, the Amalgamation becomes immobile and begins to channel Nuclear Blast. Nuclear Blast deals roughly 375K damage to anyone within 8 yards and will basically one-shot members of your raid who haven’t moved. Since there is not a lot of space to gather once your team has moved away from the Amalgamation, it is usually wise to use raidwall here to reduce the fire damage. If the Amalgamation is positioned right, (in this case it should be right up against the plate) the explosion will pry up the plate and allow you to enter the first Plate Burn phase.
Elementium Reinforced Plates
The plates that hold Deathwing together also hide the final add you must defeat (3 times) in order to move on to the final fight of the tier.
Tucked under the Elementium Reinforced Plates lie the Burning Tendons. The tendons are the last thing holding Deathwing’s armor to his body. Once destroyed, the plate attached to Deathwing’s body will fly off and give you more space to continue the battle.
When the Amalgamation explodes, a Burning Tendon is exposed to the raid. The team has 23 seconds to destroy the tendon before it snaps the plate back onto Deathwing’s back and the entire Amalgamation phase must be repeated.
If your team is unable to defeat the tendon in the first attempt, it will not heal up. Your team will need to re-expose the tendon to finish it off.
It is worth noting that each plate contains two Burning Tendons, so if your raid team is unable to kill a tendon on the first attempt, you will want to make sure the next Amalgamation explosion loosens the plate on the same side again.
As I mentioned earlier, this fight is a rinse and repeat fight. The outline below is how we perform the fight each week in all it’s mind-numbing glory
- Destroy 3 Corruptions upon landing (we usually kill top Left, top Right, bottom Right.
- Lock in on the left side of Deathwing’s back and roll him to shake the Hideous Amalgamations loose. Make sure you have the Grasping Tendrils debuff (DBM shows this).
- Kill the final Corruption. Tank picks up Hideous Amalgamation and drags him to the front of Deathwing’s back.
- DPS begin to work on Amalgamation (usually melee). DPS assigned to break Fiery Grip (usually a hunter) performs task and assists ranged with AoEing Corrupted Bloods.
- Once Amalgamation reaches 40% health, Amalgamation tank takes him for a walk to the Residue left by the Corrupted Bloods. 40% is a random goal, but it can be done when the tank and healers are comfortable and done at different times to make sure no bloods are wasted. This is a big deal on the first plate because the bloods spawn so slowly.
- Tank repositions Amalgamation against one of the Elementium Reinforced Plates when 9 stacks are reached and DPS focus the Amalgamation down. All melee and tank run away from the exploding Amalgamation (8 yards).
- Once the plate lifts, all DPS attack the Burning Tendonto release plate. Our CD order for plates is as follows:
- Rinse and repeat. You will only want to have 1 Corruption up at any given time due to Fiery Grip.
- Raidwall each time your team is dealing with Nuclear Blast. Every little bit helps when people don’t move when they need to.
- Try not to fall asleep
These are my picks, YMMV.
Final option is a bit flexible, depending on your gearing and raid. My thoughts:
- Crusader Strike: Valid for fact that fight is a single mob fight. Increased crit results in more damage and a slightly faster boss death. This is good if you need some additional damage on the Burning Tendons.
- Judgement: Totally dependent on if you have the 2pc T13 bonus which grants you an absorb shield each time you judge. Basically you get a larger absorb, which helps to reduce healing required, but I haven’t looked to see how much of a bonus you get. Probably not worth it in the long run, but every little bit helps.
Pick whichever one you feel most comfortable with!
My logic: Focused Shield because it’s a single mob fight. Lay on Hands for the shorter duration (survivability again, but there’s really nothing stopping you from having a shorter CD on this “save your ass” spell). Divine Protection for the magic damage reduction.
So today the changes to the Scroll of Resurrection were announced. If you didn’t know what the SoR was, basically it was a way to lure your friends back into WoW after they had quit for a period of time. You could issue them a scroll and they’d get some free play time. I’ll be honest, I’ve never used a SoR to bring a friend back to WoW. They’ve come back of their own volition, usually to see new content or try out the changes to their class. Maybe they like what they see and they choose to stay, maybe they don’t, or another game catches their eye, and they wander away from WoW again.
Friends who have quit did so because they were hardcore raiders and burned out, some needed to get finances in line. Some of them came back, some didn’t.
The New Scroll of Resurrection
Let’s take a look at what the new Scroll of Resurrection gives you:
Not bad huh? A free upgrade to Cata, a boost of your character to level 80, a free realm transfer or faction swap to play with your friend who brought you back.
Not gonna lie, it’s tempting as heck! But tossing all these freebies at players who quit the game? Free Faction changes? That’s a $30 savings right there. A free server transfer? That’s another $25.
Not a bad deal in the least.
Miri’s “Get off my Lawn” Rant…
So here’s why this rubs me the wrong way. Every time we turn around, there’s a “bonus” associated with bringing someone to WoW. Whether it be a player who quit the game eons ago or a new player who wanted to experience the game.
Now players can play WoW free to lvl 20, the $20 purchase of Vanilla WoW nets you the Burning Crusade, and now you can come back and get boosted to lvl 80.
Not gonna lie, it’s better to be a new player (or a returning player) to WoW than it is to be a long-time subscriber.
And this bugs me!
The account that I play on each and every night hit it’s 7th anniversary last month. Over 7 years this game has been paid for. That’s Vanilla. That’s BC. That’s Wrath. That’s Cata. Every single expansion picked up. Let’s not mention that the account has every CE ever produced for those expansions tied to it as well.
I’d screenshot all the Feats of Strength I have on a character I no longer play, but it would take too long to piece together my WoW history in Photoshop. But if you want to take a gander, Mirina, my hunter, was the character I focused on in BC. My original Vanilla hunter and rogue were deleted eons ago, and only my baby druid still remains.
Admittedly, I play WoW because I enjoy it. I’ve RaF’d myself twice simply to speed level alts and get the Zhevra mount (on characters, once again, that I don’t play anymore). I play because I like to raid, because I like to do things with friends, because I like to explore, work on achievements, and in general, immerse myself in the World of Warcraft.
And many will say “well, then you should be content with what you have. You have raids, and heroics, and all the content that’s designed for players at max level.” And that’s great. I, as a player, have that. But so does every other max level player who plays WoW.
You know what else I had? I had a time were I had to buy ammo before raids, and your rep and the raids you were working on determined if you had the best ammo in game. I had to carry my mounts around in my bags, and pets too! I had to do my dailies so I could afford to raid, because guilds didn’t have the ability to skim money off of my kills and deposit it; regifting it back to me as payment for repairs while we were learning fights. I had to pay each time I wanted to change my spec because we could have only one. I had to go tame pets for my higher level pet skills. I had to attune myself to the raids I was preparing to progress in. I could go on and on.Yes, things have gotten better. Yes, the game is much more friendly and open to new and returning players.
But what do I have to show for 7 years in the World of Warcraft? I have Feats of Strength that no one looks at. I have moments like I did in the previous paragraph, where I extol how WoW has changed. But within WoW, what do I have to show for it? Well, I have a couple pets that were there for years 4 and 5. And those are cool. But they don’t go with my character for various reasons. Maybe it clashes with my Transmog, maybe it’s just not something I want to pair with Raz because of his personality in game.
The Missing Link
Blizzard rewards players for coming back to WoW via the Scroll of Resurrection. Blizzard entices you with two-seater mounts to bring a friend to the game via Recruit a Friend. But there is nothing for the WoW Veterans.
This is a topic that has been batted around for years, with people coming up with various ideas. In fact, just last month a discussion was started by Mathew McCurley on WoW Insider asking what a WoW Veteran program would look like.
My favorite option is a token awarded for each year you’ve been an active subscriber. Everyone can earn tokens to spend on a pool of items–it will just take more time for the person who’s been subscribed for a year to achieve all the items that a 7 year subscriber to get. It’s an equal opportunity for all to walk away with something highlighting their time spent in Azeroth.
Or, you know, I would love a backpack upgrade.
I’m still alive, just tossing that out there. Stuff has been a bit crazy IRL, in guild, and everywhere in between. Things I still owe you guys:
- Updated Transmog ideas
- Spine & Madness strats (damn these fights are boring)
- H. Morchok and H. Ultrax quickie guides
- More posts where my cotank makes fun of me
- Miri on Guilds: Culture
- Then & Now meme
- Update on my Heroic 10s team
I’m sure there’s more, but that’s what I can think of. I’ve been writing a ton, but it hasn’t been blog related, so, sorry guys =\ Work has had me bashing people’s heads into walls and well…raids have been sorta having the same results. Something more like me bashing bosses into walls. And Heroic Ultrax sneaking in a 204K hit that I apparently couldn’t miss last night and went splat to because of an ill-timed Twilight Instability.
Anyway, usual excuses post. Lots of work travel for the remainder of the week but hopefully I’ll find a moment of clarity this weekend to post.
Enjoy the header, this was me on Ultrax last night, bitching about fashion woes, like all good Belfs do!
Also: cute Lofaz and Raz pic (I got “holy crap you REALLY are short” tonight when I shared it).