Tuesday night was a clusterfark, as most patch days are. Despite making a checklist for the guild to help them get ready and everybody waiting in Mumble and chomping at the bit for the servers to come back up, yours truly was frantically still attempting to patch because I forgot to start the updater when I left for work that morning. Complete and utter fail. I finally got in about an hour after everyone else.
The plan originally was to maybe raid if timing was good and everyone was settled, but between addons and confusion and terrible guild leaders, there was just no way it was happening. People spent most of the night trying to hammer together a working UI and then running heroics to get an idea of the new mechanics.
When I finally got in, the first thing I did was dodge off to Silvermoon and train everything and then reforge my gear. Just like on the beta, I block capped and without having to use Heroic CTC to do so. I then built both specs–single target and AOE–and glyphed both. Lastly, I regemmed all my gear so that any agi/stam gems were swapped out for strength/stam gems. My thinking was to grab the extra threat and the free parry from strength, but I have absolutely no clue how optimal that is. I suspect it’s not really a good idea, so I’m going to have to revisit that.
I also took a lot of joy in applying the mind control tinker on my helm for the free stamina, a parachute on my cloak, and getting tuskarr’s vitality enchanted on my boots. It’s not the same as Pursuit of Justice, but it’ll do.
Once the dust was settled a bit, I ran Heroic Gundrak with a few friends to find my legs. Switched to my AOE spec and went to town. Unfortunately, one of the dps was a mage, and I basically spent the heroic alternating Hammer of the Righteous and whichever taunt was off cooldown. I don’t think I had a good grasp on the mechanics at the time, but we were so overgeared that everything just blew right over without protest, so it was just about impossible to gauge much.
Before I logged that night I took a quick flight on my Argent Hippogryph, now benefitting from the same 310% speed that my less attractive mounts were blessed with. Perhaps one of my favorite quality of life changes this patch. I hated flying around on some godawful proto-drake just for the convenience of speed.
Another gorgeous change is the new water system. Yesterday I was taking a taxi down to Grom’gol for some ZG farming, and flying over the water with the sun reflecting was… wow. The world seems so much more vibrant now. I can’t wait to see that match up with the new terrain/textures coming in the actual Cataclysm.
Speaking of Zandalar–one of my biggest pre-Cataclysm goals was to hit exalted with that rep before the Zul’Gurub raid disappears. (I’m a sucker for Feats of Strength.)
I was pretty close when I started yesterday, measuring my progress in how mana Bijous it would take to hit exalted (assuming 125 rep from destroying the Bijou and then using up the honor token) and I started with something close to 60 Bijous between me and the finish line. When I landed in Stranglethorn I headed over to the Zandalar’s island and cashed in the mountains of coins I had accumulated. At the end I was something like 40ish Bijous away.
After that I finally went into ZG itself, donned the AOE spec, and started moving from one trash pack to the next. Seal of Insight is amazing for low-level grinding, to the point where I barely miss the old block–ok, that’s a lie–and Hammer of the Righteous is just godly for AOE. Round up a huge pack and whittle it down in no time at all. The only real trouble I got was on the tiger boss where constant silences made it nigh-impossible interrupt those heals. After a long war o attrition I managed to get all three guys down and push into the last phase of the fight.
A few more bosses and a score of Bijous later, and I had enough in my bags to push to exalted. Over at the island I cashed everything in and scratched another item off my Cata bucket list.
ICC at the end of the night was something else. That’s about the best way I can describe it. I’m sure you’ve heard that AOE threat is rough in a raid environment and I can surely attest to that. Unless you tie down the dps and force them to wait a few seconds for you to establish aggro, which is the exact opposite instinct that’s been instilled in them since the beginning of Wrath, there’s just no way you can control a pack without constant tab-taunting.
I was posting something like 6th damage overall on the pre-Marrowgar trash thanks to HotR, but in light of some casters (like the damn boomkin!) there was just no way to hold back the tide. Good practice for Cataclysm, I suppose.
One the bright side, nothing has warmed the icy cockles of my heart like the ShoR crits I was getting last night. With a full stack of Vengeance I could reach out and touch the face of 30k. Indeed, if there’s one thing every tankadin that reads this blog needs to do before Cataclysm comes out, it’s do Festergut and see the highest ShoR crit you can pull with Vengeance and the stacking debuff from that fight. When I first saw that giant 50k crit I started cackling like a maniac, and the 54k that followed almost put me in a diabetic coma it was so sweet.
Doxa tweeted me last night that he hoped I was using WoG, considering the massive threat lead I had on that fight (you can see it in the screenshot) and I’m tank enough to admit I was too busy chasing my next hit with ShoR to even think of that. Hence the sweet justice that I died around 3% and Ana had to pick up Fester, bubble off her stacks, and guide the fight to completion.
Single target threat as a whole was not that bad. The trick is to get that first ShoR off ASAP, and you’ll have an okay lead from there on out. I’m still getting used to the muscle memory of 939 and internalizing what buttons to push when, but for the whole I’m in a good place.
There were a slew of annoyances last night. Some minor, like having to constantly switch specs before/after fights. Some were major, like Blood Princes bugging and refusing to actually stand up and engage. The 30% buff also decided to drop off for half the raid some time before Sindragosa, and then after a wipe it dropped for the rest of us. At first I thought it was a display error, but I definitely had a lot less health than I would with the buff.
I felt that missing 30% hp acutely on Professor Putricide, who once he hit phase 3, ran me over like a mack truck. In the space of three seconds I took 80k damage. No crit, just pure pain. Healers were not ready for that kind of punishment and I was so shocked I didn’t even get my Ardent Defender off in time. I know we’ve taken a huge loss in damage reduction from the talents pruning and all the armor we lost, but fer crissakes. Not to mention the damage done by just about everything was increased. All told, that adds up to a floor stain in the form of yours truly.
Over the course of the night, everyone seemed to run the gamut of emotions from diabolically giddy (Zilga the disc priest) to power mad (Ichi to boomkin) to despondent (the holy pally) to consistently knocked offline (Falowin the rogue). I’m hoping that the raid didn’t make anyone lose hope or experience some kind of crisis of faith. It was a rough night, truly, and would be a huge step back if this was still pre-4.0.1. But obviously a lot changed and we’re still adjusting to it.
The theme of the night was the long-running guild joke of “doooomed”, per the following Futurama clip:
I know we’ll be fine, but it’s a bit painful at the moment.
Oh, some final recommendations for gearing. One is to avoid the 4pc bonus if it’s onerous to gear for it. In the past, it was worth it because our cooldown toolbox was much more limited and that extra dodge was handy. However, in this brave new world of 1 minute Divine Protections and clicky-Ardent Defenders, the 4pc is subpar at best. And this is coming from one of its most vocal supporters. Not to mention, Divine Plea is now on a 2-minute cooldown, which means you get to use the bonus half as often as you used to. So yeah.
Lastly, I’d recommend ditching the Greater Inscription of the Gladiator and grabbing the new Greater Inscription of the Pinnacle. Before, the latter enchant was a huge pile of avoidance, which was kind of meh, but now that the dodge it gives it definitely worth the tradeoff of 8 stamina. Likewise, Resilience provides zero crit immunity now, so the Glad enchant is overall not worth it anymore.
Anyway, everything aside, 4.0.1 has been interesting… to say the least. Now to pick up the pieces!