Tag Archives: dreamwalker

Not a fluke

Like I said on Thursday, I was concerned the make-up raid scheduled on Sunday wasn’t going to happen. Thankfully it did, everyone showed along with some standbys and on-time we assembled inside the instance.

The menu that night was Heroic Dreamwalker, then normal Sindragosa and Lich King. Assuming we made it to Arthas, this would be the first time we’ve faced him since our first kill a few weeks ago. We’ve been bogged down progressing through hardmodes, and with our two raids a week schedule, didn’t really have the time to get to him on the second night. However, after our amazing showing on Wednesday, he was definitely within reach.

Anyway, Heroic Dreamwalker first. If you’ll recall on Wednesday (last callback to an earlier post for now, I swear!) we had some wipes. In hindsight this was clearly because one of our best portal jockeys was having connection issues and DCing, based on the success we had when he could actually stay on and heal. Last night, we were going through the paces, as I frantically tried to manage adds on my side and keep healers from getting eaten (I think a zombie got through).

I honestly thought we were going to wipe that attempt, we hit the 75% mark–”Press on heroes!”–and then a blazing skeleton got three ticks of Lay Waste off. Miraculously, no one died. Probably thanks to the warbling solo provided by Garrosh. In any case, we pressed on, and before I knew it the dragon stood up and blew the Scourge all to bits.

At the moment we succeeded I felt like I was drowning in a rotting sea of zombie parts, all hope lost. It was kind of amazing seeing the dragon suddenly lift up and end the encounter. Like Gandalf cresting the ridge, but less dramatic, and I don’t remember any white light.

Dorkiest simile ever; I apologize. Either way, it was pretty sweet to one shot the fight after the initial trouble we had Wedne–DAMMIT.

After Dreamwalker came Sindragosa and this was going to be the first time we did her since AVR was broken. As I’ve always maintained, I loved AVR for its ability to put marks on the ground, which removed a lot of the thinking from Frost Beacon placement. … Ok–ALL the thinking. Nonetheless, I read off the beacon placements and everyone wrote it down on a piece of paper in front of them (how… antique) and we got to work.

We didn’t have much of any issue with the beacons and easily dropped her. There was a short hiccup at the end where I disconnected but thankfully I’m not that critical. It was at like 3% and everyone autopiloted the encounter to its conclusion.

Two one shots and we were only like 45 minutes into raid time. That gave us a solid (almost) three hours to go tussle with the Lich King. And, dontcha know it, we one shot him too. Scored achievements for a swath of folks that couldn’t make our first kill, along with the 2H sword and the caster staff. Of course, by the time that was done we still had about two and a half hours left in the raid.

There was some discussion what to do with the rest of the night and we eventually we decided to go to Ulduar and bang out some hardmodes and hopefully grab some more shards for Ildara’s Val’anyr (heh, now that’s a work in progress to say the least).

We ended up getting Orbituary, additional Ignis and XT achieves for those who needed them, and then spent about 30 minutes working on the Iron Council. A lot of people left between ICC and Uld and unfortunately we didn’t have enough folks to push that last 20 seconds of the fight. On the bright side, we did get a shard for Val’anyr, so that expedition wasn’t a complete wash.

One day we’ll finish that stupid mace. I’d like to do it now, but it’s impossible with our two-night schedule to dedicate any time to a raid two tiers back, so the pieces that Ildara has now will continue to rot except for occasional half-hearted attempt to augment their numbers. Even if the mace still BiS, from the looks of it.

At least we’ll be making a Shadowmourne pretty soon! That’s a bright spot on my otherwise abyssal Legendary record.

Tanking the adds in the Dreamwalker encounter

I remember this being really messy the first time we tried. It was a pain to figure out which adds you wanted to pay the most attention to, and when. Er, except for the Blazing Skeletons. Those bastards make it quite clear early on how deserving of attention they are.

The key to this fight is standing in the right place and tanking the right mobs. Let’s talk about the room first:

Ideally you’ll be assigned a specific side while another tank gets the other. This side that you’re placed in is your world. Everything that enters it is now your domain. And that includes every undead creature that exits the doors on your side.

Pan your camera out enough that you can reasonably see both doors at just about all times. This is going to be key because the Blazing Skeletons are as sneaky as a Fel Reaver. You do not want them surprising your raid. As soon as one of those guys enters your domain, shout out in vent your side and if it’s the front or back door. If it’s coming from the back door, let it move far enough to clear the central pillar between the doors. If you attack it prematurely, it’ll stop moving, and place itself out of LoS for your ranged.

You want that Blazing Skeleton dead before it gets a tick of Lay Waste off, ideally. I’ve heard whispers of how the Lay Waste mechanic works, in that the Blazing Skeleton will only cast when in melee range of its target, and I’ve seen it get “confused” and delay the channel of Lay Waste. But we’ve never been able to purposefully replicate this effect. I’m not going to say having someone out of melee range taunting will delay the Lay Waste cast, but something seems to be happening. I just don’t know what.

What not to tank

Ignore the suppressors. They have no aggro, they will just run up and start channeling their healing debuff on Dreamwalker. The best way for you to help kill these is to tank mobs on top of them so the cleaves and AOEs of your dps will drop them down significantly, and usually kill them. Likewise, Holy Wrath is excellent for a quick stun on them all at once.

Moreover, avoid the Blistering Zombies. Everytime they melee you they will stack Corrosion on you. Goes up to five stacks, for a total debuff of 50% armor. Combine that with an Abom increasing your Physical damage taken by 25%, and you have an issue. Let the hunters kite these.

The Risen Archmages are kind of a gray area. They don’t hurt that much, but they can be a major threat to healers if they sneak past you and start wreaking havoc in the middle of your healing corps. I usually just throw a Hand of Reckoning on these guys when they spawn, bring them close, and then let the dps burn them down. If one of the melee dps grabs aggro, it’s not a big deal.

About face

When tanking the Aboms you want to park them on top of where Suppressors spawn and face them southward, away from Dreamwalker. Gut Spray (along with many other attacks) will hurt Dreamwalker, so let’s not make the healers’ job harder, eh?

The Gut Spray will also do some heavy damage to your melee, so make sure none of them are mouth breathing and standing in front of the Abom with you.

Swap seals

Keep Seal of Vengeance up for most of the fight, except for when the Abom dies. It’ll erupt into a pack of Rot Worm mobs that you want to pick up asap. Switch to Seal of Command, drop a Consecrate, and then HotR as they come up. Try to pick them all up and burn them down as fast as possible.

Ultimately, Dreamwalker (like all add fights) seems initially tough because there’s so much to keep track of. Once you get the hang of the adds and how to control them, and your healers get the hang of their all-too-important role, the fight quickly becomes a cake walk.

On a roll in ICC

Last night we ran out of bubblegum in Icecrown and posted our best night yet, speed-wise. Invites went out at 6:28 server time, first pull was at about 6:40, and Saurfang was down by 7:30. This was probably the fastest we ever made it into the Upper Spire. Things were looking good.

We easily one-shot Festergut and Rotface and then rolled into Putricide. Unfortunately it took five goes to drop him (one day we’ll get him on the first go), thanks to some awesome RNG-arrific attempts. However, at least when we did kill him everyone was up.

Once the Plague Wing was cleared it was about 9:15. 45 minutes left in the raid.

So we headed over to Dreamwalker and easily one-shot her. Er, one-saved her. Something like that. Honestly, I’m disappointed with how long we put off this fight. Once you get the hang of it and your dps internalize the kill order (and the healers get the hang of the orbs), it’s total cake. With Dreamwalker down, we had about 20 minutes left, so we went and banged out the Blood Council.

This now sets us up for tonight with Blood Queen (which should be doable within an hour) and then we’ll have on Sindragosa for the better part of the night. I’m expecting a good two hours to learn the encounter, get everyone some experience on it, and teach them the fear of magic betrayals.

Personally, I am very excited to have so much time for progression tonight. A month ago we were terrified of Putricide (confession: I still kinda am), completely unable to do the BQL fight, and seemingly hopeless against the future challenges of Icecrown. What a difference a month makes. I think it’s reasonable to say that within a few weeks we’ll be working on the Lich King.

I’m especially happy with the fact that we took two new raiders with us last night, and both did pretty well. We’ve been recruiting a little lately, just to keep the “buffer” up (my goal is at least 35-37 capable raiders to make up for people not showing or not signing up, which seems to be working well so far). These last two pick ups were already 245 geared, and with the core already pretty much decked out in off-set drops, they should be gearing up pretty quickly soon enough.

It feels so good to be optimistic about 25man raids.

I picked up my last 264 tier piece last night, giving me the 4pc bonus. I like the idea of an extra “cooldown,” especially now that we’re doing ICC-10 hardmodes where it’ll be a boon on some fights. However, I am not liking the fact that I have to somehow balance my gear around a tier chest with no defense, the Pillars of Might with no defense, and the Boots of Kingly Upheaval with no defense.

And not to mention I like to sport the Bloodvenom Blade on farm content… I’m suffering a major crisis here. I’m going to just make a special set just for the 4pc for specific fights and stick to the Cataclysmic Chestguard for the rest. The CC is still better than the tier chest until 277, anyway.

But, I digress. On a different note: I’m going to leave you with why I hate Gearscore.

Gotta love that reasoning.

Dreamwalker, et al.

Long overdue, but we finally took some time out of our busy schedules to put serious tries on Dreamwalker. Now that BQL was dead and that notch added to our progression belts, we wanted to fall back and do an easier encounter we could have done a while ago. It took us a few tries to get Dreamwalker down (well, up) because we had to figure out the optimal places for tanks, the dps spread, healer roles, etc. The last attempt went pretty went, and I’m happy with the efficacy of our kill.

One thing that stood out to me was how fast the fight goes towards the end. That is, it’s slow going from start to 75%, but after that the healers are accumulating more and more stacks, and one second you notice it’s at 90% and people are yelling for the Pallies to throw on LoHs, then suddenly it’s at 100%. Dreamwalker then stands up and melts all the Scourge. I don’t know why we waited this long to kill her.

And the biggest hurdle we probably had was communication. The Blazing Skeleton would sneak up on one side, get five ticks off and it would be game over. The last few attempts we got really good at knowing when they were coming (a mage would call out right before they spawned) and then people would screech when they made an appearance on their side. People would rush over and drop it with one or less ticks of waste being laid.

I gotta say, I’m pretty psyched that we went from being unable to kill Putricide–or any other wing boss for that matter–to convincingly being able to farm Putricide, and having the option of saying “we know we can kill BQL, but do we want to go try out Sindragosa?” Options! I love ‘em.

Lastly, this goes without saying. My guild’s healers are pretty awesome. They had a great system down, handled their own assignments in their own channel, and I knew I didn’t have to give a second thought to if they needed guidance assigning people to a role.

Oh, holy grip

For months now Zilga, one of the healing priests, has been saying the only thing she wanted in Cataclysm was a holy grip so she could “pull the dumbasses out of the fire.” While driving to work today I got caught in a traffic jam so I whipped out my phone and hit up twitter to see if the priest preview was ever released. I then saw they actually did add a holy grip, the Leap of Faith, and could not stop laughing. Zilga, got the lotto numbers?

Hints of Pally changes in the so-far released previews?

I’m going to issue the following predictions based on what we’ve seen in the previews for Shamans, Priests, etc.

1. There’s going to be an early attack like the “Primal Strike” that shammies are getting. Some kind of baby Crusader Strike, if they don’t just move that attack earlier in the Ret tree.

2. We’re getting something like the Warrior’s Vengeance Mastery:

Vengeance: This is a mechanic to ensure that tank damage (and therefore threat) doesn’t fall behind as damage-dealing classes improve their gear during the course of the expansion. All tanking specs will have Vengeance as their second talent tree passive bonus. Whenever a tank gets hit, Vengeance will give them a stacking attack power buff equal to 5% of the damage done, up to a maximum of 10% of the character’s un-buffed health. For boss encounters, we expect that tanks will always have the attack power bonus equal to 10% of their health. The 5% and 10% bonuses assume 51 talent points have been put into the Protection tree. These values will be smaller at lower levels. Remember, you only get this bonus if you have spent the most talent points in the Protection tree, so you won’t see Arms or Fury warriors running around with it. Vengeance will let us continue to make tank gear more or less the way we do today – there will be some damage-dealing stats, but mostly survival-oriented stats. Druids typically have more damage-dealing stats even on their tanking gear, so their Vengeance benefit may be smaller, but overall the goal is for all four tanks do about the same damage when tanking.

We’re so getting that too.

3. Warriors get Critical Block as their third-tier Mastery ability. Likewise, I think we’re getting a Redoubt like effect where a proc will give us extra block chance. The proc rate will make it over time reduce damage as much as Critical Block would.

4. I’m still holding out hope for some kind of gap closer. I strongly hoped that we’d be given Heroic Leap as our lvl 85 spell, but I guess Warriors are getting that (the jerks), foiling my initial prediction. Still, Ret suffers in pvp from having no gap closer, and we remain the only tank that can’t immediately zip to a mob or bring it to us. I think that’s going to change.

The epic weekend

Over the last two months I’ve been steadily accumulating various pieces of Holy gear. Some spellpower plate offspec drops from ICC-10/25 (gotta love guild only having one raiding Holy paladin), ToGC-10, and the new heroics. Altogether I have a pretty decent set with (pardon the GS reference, I do it just to help you imagine the iLevel) about 5250 gearscore. The one glaring issue with my gear is my offhand. It rates a 10 for RP value, but I can enchant or block with it, so one could say it’s lacking a bit.

Nonetheless, I gemmed everything with int, more of less, then enchanted it and Saturday afternoon I was off to the races to heal my first heroic.

And… I don’t know how you Healadins do it. I mean, it’s generally pretty straightforward: Sacred Shield and Beacon the tank, Flash of Light for the little, steady damage intakes, Holy Light for bigger hits. Beacon is doubly awesome because I can generally ignore the tank and just heal the rest of the party. I find myself consistently forgetting to pop cooldowns or remembering to occasionally judge to keep Judgements of the Pure up. Stuff to work on.

All in all I healed four or so heroics this weekend: UK, OK, ToC, and HoS. Each was pretty easy (I didn’t have any of the hard ones, thank god) and no crazy wipes except for in Old Kingdom when the tank pulled a huge pack of spell flingers and everyone died in about 3 seconds. I barely had time to urinate myself. (Sorry, gross joke.)

It was interesting seeing heroics from a different point of view. In Halls of Stone we zoned in and I started blessings and the tank just up and took off. I’m sitting there blinking and yelled “hey wait for meeeeee!!” while running far behind without even Pursuit of Justice to help me catch up. Damn inconsiderate tanks. The Brann event was a little more lively than any of the boss encounters I did before, just had the aforementioned tank Beacon up and kept HLing anyone who stood in the beam.

Tons of fun overall and has definitely shaken up heroics for me. I’m tempted to start doing my daily random as heals, but I’d like to get an actual shield first before I expose myself to the piercing gazes of full pug groups.

More Uld10 hardmodes

Partly spurred on Tijeras’ recent scoring of a Rusted Protodrake, and thus my incessant nagging to do so, a group from my guild got together again to start work once more on Uld10 achievements.

We started with Orbituary for those that didn’t have it, which was a total breeze. I completely wrecked the dps chart on that fight with my Demolisher tricked out by my 264 gear. Flame Lev never had a chance.

Razorscale’s dwarf cooking wasn’t really seriously attempted. Although funny enough, all this time I assumed the counter reset every week or something because my total was always zero. Just turns out I’ve never managed to roast any dwarves before. I got three last night.

For Stokin’ the Furnace I single tanked Ignis and we got him down about two minutes into the fight. Heartbreaker went similarly well. Ditto I Choose You, Steelbreaker, who we killed before I even got to explode. I just DI’d a healer to defuse myself.

At that point we started racking up sigils from the wing bosses. Hodir was pretty straightforward. Thorim was interesting to say the least. With two healers, one in the arena and one in the gauntlet, right at the end a chunk of the gauntlet team bit it but two of the survivors (just dps) managed to make it back to the arena with Sif. Poor Ildara then went on the single-heal the second phase while I single tanked it, Unbalancing Strike and all. I think she nearly had a stroke by the time Thorim dropped.

Freya was a bit more tricky, with a couple of missteps thanks to your truly starting to feel the effects of my chain chugging drinks during the raid. At this point I was about half way through a bottle of gin (I like to drink like I raid–with class–ok?) and getting a little sloppy. The first attempt I got too close to the shore trying to kill a tree and managed to pull the adds on the opposite side. The second try we had to reset because a few people died during phase two. The third try we knocked her over easily and scored all three versions of Knock on Wood.

After Freya we dug in for Firefighter, which eluded us the last time we tried Ulduar hardmodes. The good news is, last time we failed miserably to fires, and this time we got Mim to 10% on our best attempt, which was also our last attempt. That was also the attempt, I’m told, where during P4 I yelled out “he’s spinning up!” ran directly away from the boss, banged a 360, and then ran right back into his Laser Barrage. I have no recollection of this.

We had to call it after Mim because one of the dps had to go, but it was then drunkenly decided in officer chat that we’d go try Undying with whoever was left… because why the hell not? And we did a lot better on that than I expected, managing to get all the way to the second boss before someone died.

No reason to continue we left Naxx and the soused express rolled on to Wyrmrest to do Sarth+3. I barely remember the fight (my gin-life-force nearly extinguished) but apparently we killed him.

And then, because dammit, we were drunk and the world was our oyster, we should go do ToGC-10. So we did, and by some alcohol-fueled miracle we completed the place with 43 attempts to go. No mad skill unfortunately, but we did it nonetheless. I think this was also the first time we’ve done it with three straight healers (rather than making a healer go dps, or switch out for one, like we did when learning the place months ago).

I passed out sometime after that, though truth be told I barely remember anything after Naxxramas. It was a good night.

Some honest-to-goodness ICC progression!

After shaking off my hangover, Sunday night was spent rerolling the Wednesday crew back into Icecrown Citadel to finally bring down Dreamwalker and get some cracks at Sindragosa. We experimented a bit with group make-up, initially trying two tanks, five dps, three heals but that wasn’t working as well. We then swapped some specs around and went two tanks, four dps, four heals, which was getting the dragon up a lot faster, but the adds were taking a lot longer to die. After a few more close attempts (with one at 92%) we then tried me single tanking, five dps, four heals.

Single tanking Dreamwalker wasn’t so bad, the only thing that really needed to be tanked were the Aboms. We settled on a kill order where dps would burnt Blazing Skeletons when they appeared, then Aboms, then Suppressors, then anything else still up. A hunter was in charge of kiting any Zombies. Towards the end it was getting really hairy, we had two Aboms, a Zombie, and a few casters on me. It looked like we were about to wipe. I had no idea what the dragon’s health was at but imagine my surprise when in my darkest hour suddenly Dreamwalker stood up, bellowed, and nuked every add. It was pure awesomeness.

Great encounter. I enjoy it more now that we can actually kill it.

It was a fun surprise after Dreamwalker when we got into that weird hallway with the giant circle room and cobwebs everywhere. It was obvious what was going to happen. I still feel like I wasn’t prepared for all that trash though!

Only downside to our inevitable victory was the healers that kept running back into the room to skin the spiders. Bad healers.

Finally, it was time for Sindragosa… and what a fight that was. We didn’t have enough time to get some serious attempts in, but honestly, it didn’t seem that bad. The only hard part seemed to be dealing with the awful, intense, bellowing, Scottish woman that was apparently trapped inside her. That voice was terrifying.

I’m half tempted to extend the lockout next week and just jump right back to her. I don’t know if I’ll be able to get people to go for that, though.

Trying to keep the faith

If you’ve been following me on twitter (and hell, even here on the blog) I’ve been pretty down about my guild lately as it pertains to raiding. There’s been a few issues of nascent drama in addition to some very annoying attendance issues that have nearly cost us the ability to raid for the last two weeks. The problem isn’t so much we don’t have people, it’s that the people we do have are being fickle about showing up or have had scheduling issues (I myself had to miss the raid Wednesday because of a scheduling issue).

In one sense, the problem could be solved with recruiting, but the problem remains that there are capable people in guild, and we just need them to show up. I guess our first step is to work on getting those people to log in and get some of the lesser geared people into raids. We’re probably going to change the raid schedule from three three-hour days to two four-hour days, so we don’t have a stretch of raid nights that may be untenable for some folks. We’ll see how that goes.

In the meantime I’m going to console myself with the knowledge that the core of the guild is strong, and made up of awesome people. Half of our ICC raid core weren’t even in guild during Naxx, so if we eventually have to build up again, it’s not the end of the world.

Some funny things form guild chat last night, so I may take comfort in the hilarity of the people I am blessed to raid with.

Slyke when he was asked for his gearscore when trying to get into a ToGC-10 pug:

And Zilga (a healer) from the attempts we put in on Dreamwalker last night:

Speaking of Dreamwalker …

Interesting fight. We tried it for the two hours or so we could and mostly got the hang of the adds, but we need to work on them a bit more. I really can’t offer any observations other than the Blazing Skeletons hurt like a mother, and need to die asap, and dps really needs to be on the ball with target switches. The fight reminds me a lot of when we were first trying Deathwhisper and the adds seemed unmanageable. Once we figure out what to kill when and how, it’ll go a lot smoother.

Ultimately though I regret trying Dreamwalker last night. We should have built on our experience with Putricide or Blood Queen rather than splitting our progression three ways.

Whack goes the nerf bat

Just to revisit this topic again briefly–I’m going to reiterate my lack of surprised that we were nerfed. I saw this coming earlier this week, the warning signs were all there.

The one thing that bothers me about the nerf (other than how it was just sprung on us in the middle of the night) is that Blizzard thinks that other tanks are “fine”. Specifically, warriors. Warriors right now are at the bottom of the heap across most, if not all metrics, and have very little to show for it. I don’t understand Blizz’s mentality that if a tank can tank a boss then they are fine. Tank survival should be the same across all four classes, much like how pure dps classes are more or less balanced against other pure dpsers.

The situation is now that the tank classes are a lot more balanced than they were a week ago, but warriors are still coming up short. They need some serious loving.

I can’t imagine there will be anymore Paladin nerfs in the near future, so don’t worry that we’re in the crosshairs or something. If any other changes are to be made they might involve making Seal of Command require a two-hander so Prot can’t use it anymore (thus, sadly, killing heroics spec). Beyond that… I just can’t see it.

But then again, I can’t imagine why Blizzard would be so willfully blind to how behind Warriors are in EH, dps, etc. So, who knows?