Posts tagged ‘Obsidian Sanctum’

How we defeated Sartharion-10 with three drakes

First, please understand that this isn’t intended to be a comprehensive guide to the fight.  This is why I don’t write guides is a blog tag for a reason!

No, my intention here is simply to share how we defeated the single-hardest encounter in the game, and hopefully provide some insight into our strategy, thought processes and basic positioning to other groups looking to attempt it.

For the purposes of this discussion, I’m going to assume that anyone reading it is already familiar with the basics.  If not, WoWWiki is an excellent resource.  (Go!  Check it out.  I’ll wait.)

Okay, then.  Very briefly:

  • Sartharion is a typical dragon, in that he cleaves, breathes fire and tail swipes.  He has to be tanked throughout the encounter and will summon three Twilight Drakes at timed intervals.
  • The Twilight Drakes are Tenebron, Shadron and Vesperon.  Like Sartharion, the Twilight Drakes drakes also have a breath attack, although theirs deal shadow damage rather than fire.  In addition, each drake (1) opens a portal to another realm and (2) has an aura that will remain active on the entire raid for as long as the drake is alive.
  • Tenebron lands first, a mere 30 seconds into the fight, at the far west end of the island.  Her aura, the creatively-named Power of Tenebron, increases the amount of shadow damage taken by the raid by 100%.  She spawns eggs in the portal realm that hatch into Twilight Whelps, which must be picked up by the add tank.  Otherwise, Tenebron’s portal can be safely ignored.
  • Shadron lands 60 seconds seconds into the fight, towards the south end of the island.  His aura increases the amount of fire damage taken by the raid by 100%.  He also spawns an acolyte in the portal realm, who increases fire damage done by Sartharion by 50% and renders Sartharion immune to all damage.  For this reason, Shadron’s acolyte is the only one we bother to kill.
  • Vesperon lands 75 seconds into the fight, towards the north end of the island.  His aura reduces everyone’s maximum health by 25%.  Like Shadron, Vesperon spawns an acolyte in the portal realm.  While his acolyte is active, Vesperon gains the Twilight Torment effect, which increases fire and shadow damage taken by 75% and reflects a percentage of all non-periodic damage done to Vesperon back onto the raid.
  • In addition to Sartharion and the Twilight Drakes, there are several AoE effects to contend with: (1) a lava wave that sweeps across the island, and must be avoided; (2) lava strikes that target individual players, deal painful splash damage and spawn fire elementals; (3) the fire elementals themselves, which will become enraged if struck by a lava wave; and (4) void fissures summoned by the Twilight Drakes.
  • When all three drakes are alive, Sartharion’s breath and most AoE effects can one-shot the raid.  Cooldowns like Divine Guardian and Guardian Spirit are absolutely required to save a tank from a one-shot breath.

If it sounds like a lot to deal with at once — it is!  Once upon a time, a resto shaman of my acquaintance described the Illidari Council as the “Superbowl of Not Standing in Bad®” …

Ha!  How naive and innocent we were back then!

Group Composition

We experimented with several different group compositions.  In the end, this was the winning combination:

Main Tank: Death Knight
Drake Tank: Feral Druid
Add Tank: Protection Warrior
MT Healer: Holy Paladin
Raid Healers: Holy Priest, Restoration Shaman
DPS: Elemental Shaman, Fire Mage, Mutilate Rogue, Shadow Priest

As you can see, it’s a fairly straightforward, three tank/three healer/four DPS set-up.

As Ashellia noted, many of the strategies you’ll find online recommend bootstrapping a hybrid to fill the role of two characters.  For several attempts, we tried having a healadin tank the fire elementals and Twilight Whelps by using Consecrate and Righteous Fury plus Flash of Light to keep himself up and hold healing aggro.  The idea was to replace our add tank with a fifth DPS class — preferably an unholy death knight, balance druid or affliction warlock for the +13% buff to magical damage.  Unfortunately, this put us at the fickle mercy of the RNG: if we caught a bad string of void zones or lava waves, then our multitasking paladin would be forced to concentrate more on dodging The Bad® and less on healing.  Lacking the mitigation and/or avoidance of a real tank, he would inevitably succumb and loose adds on the raid.

Switching to a three tank/three healer combination put considerable pressure on our DPS, but also gave us much better control over the fight and the fifteen hundred things (I’m not exaggerating: there really are that many — I counted!) that can go wrong.

A few things worth mentioning about this particular composition:

  • Death knights have more panic buttons available to them than any of the other three tanking classes.  Using a death knight tank meant that we only had to coordinate two other cooldowns to survive what we came to refer to as Sartharion’s “one-shot breath phase.”
  • Protection warriors make excellent add tanks!  It seems to me that many, many warriors are still locked into the old TBC mindset (i.e., that warriors are single-target tanks — period, dot — and paladins are the superior AoE tanks).  This is no longer the case.  Don’t believe me?  Ask Spinks!
  • Our priest was Discipline for our first few (dozen…) attempts.  At first blush, Grace and Pain Suppression seemed too good to pass up.  But we eventually came to realize that a combination of one single-target healer and two AoE healers was vastly superior to two single-target healers and one AoE healer, and so our priest donned wings for the occasion.
  • Two shamans = two Bloodlusts!  This meant we had a Bloodlust available for every learning attempt.
  • A rogue was the lone melee DPS in our caster-heavy raid.  (/tar Ignus /lick).  Not only was he expected to DPS the drakes and tank Shadron’s acolyte during portal phases, but he was also tasked with tranquilizing enraged fire elementals.  The add tank pulled them to the rogue, and the rogue used anesthetic wound poison and Fan of Knives to great effect.
  • (The downside of calling for fan of Fan of Knives is that it inspires the raid to make awful FoK puns all night.  Be warned.)
  • Finally, having only four DPS meant that we had to eke every last bit of damage out of them.  To this end, our holy priest dusted off his Smite button and our bear tank learned how to dance!  (More on that, later…)

Safe Spots & Basic Positioning

3D

Our Death Knight tanked Sartharion in the southeast corner of the island, alternating between the two “safe spots” marked (roughly!) in yellow.  His healer, a paladin, moved with him — running through Sarth to the easternmost tip of the island for waves originating from the north.  (I highly recommend running through Sarth rather than around him, as less movement = more healing, especially for an MT healer without instant casts.  Just be sure to stay closer to his forelegs than his hindlegs to avoid an untimely tail swipe.)

Meanwhile — and this is one of the keys to our success, because it maximized DPS time — our drake tank moved between three tanking postions, from (1) the western edge of the island, where Tenebron landed 30 seconds into the fight, to (2) the southwest corner, a south- wave safe zone, to (3) the center of the island’s southern border, a north wave safe-zone as well as Shadron’s landing point.

While Tenebron and Shadron were active, the raid spread out throughout the island’s central band, in the north-wave safe zone.  For south waves, we ran west (away from the instance entrance).  The drake tank and melee DPS shifted west well.  Meanwhile, the Sarth tank and his healer alternated between the two eastern safe zones (closer to the instance entrance.)

Positions (more or less)

The challenge with this positioning was that it frequently put the MT and MH out of range of the rest of the raid.  For this reason alone, it was absolutely critical that the healers trust each other to cover their respective assignments.  (I was going to elaborate on this point, but Bellwether published an excellent post on the subject this morning, so I’m going to direct you to her instead.)

Finally, once Tenebron and Shadron went down, the entire raid shifted east and alternated between the same safe zones as the MT and MH.

A Walk-Through

We started each attempt with our death knight on foot, and the rest of the raid mounted — or ghost wolf’d, for the sheer novelty of it. <insert wolfish grin here>

The death knight pulled Sartharion into position, closely followed by his healer.  At the same time, the raid road around Sarth (mindful of his tailswipe!) to the center of the island, a north-wave safe zone.  Although we weren’t concerned about damaging Sartharion at this point, the drake and add tanks and lone rogue had 15-20 seconds to generate rage or combo points before Tenebron landed.

Twenty seconds into the fight, our raid leader called “Positions for Tenebron!” over Vent.  This was the cue for our drake tank and melee DPS to peel off of Sartharion and dash/sprint to the western edge of the island in preparation for Tenebron’s landing.

Because he was already in position, our drake tank was able to pick up Tenebron the moment he became targetable and move her around the southwest corner of the island.  This in turn allowed DPS to unleash on her almost immediately, especially if we were lucky enough to catch a south wave.

We typically blew our Bloodlust at this point, with a goal of bursting Tenebron down before she could open a second portal and thus spawn a second wave of Twilight whelps.  Since raid damage relatively light this early in the fight, our holy priest was able to DPS (lolsmite?) until Shadron landed.

… I might’ve cast a Lightning Bolt or two, myself.  Don’t tell my raid leader.  >.>

In preparation for Shadron’s arrival, the drake tank moved Tenebron along the southern edge of the island, towards that central band/north-wave safe zone.  He tanked Shadron here when he landed, and fifteen seconds later pulled Vesperon to this location as well.  (In the 25-man version of OS, our drake tank typically drags Shadron to Vesperon’s landing point and tanks both drakes on the north end of the island, but this strategy caused range issues for our healers in OS-10 so we abandoned it after a few attempts.)   The drakes were tanked on the southern edge of the island for the rest of the fight.

As soon as Tenebron went down, DPS switched to adds and AoE’d them down— providing some much welcome relief to our warrior tank, who by this point was holding at least one wave of Twilight whelps and all of the fire elementals spawned thus fars.

With the whelps slain and fire elementals back under control, DPS focused Shadron.

After Shadron died, DPS and one healer entered the portal realm to kill Shadron’s acolyte, as Sartharion is immune to damage whenever Shadron’s acolyte is active.  We ignored Vesperon’s acolyte (we learned after one particularly heartbreaking wipe that killing both acolytes extends the fight unnecessarily and causes undue strain on healer mana), and simply exited the portal after Shadron’s acolyte went down.

Since Vesperon’s acolyte was alive (and ranting impotently) in the portal realm, the Twilight Torment remained active as DPS began the slow, controlled burn on Vesperon — backing off any time they dipped below 40% health.  By this point, the fight had long-since become a blur to me; between frantically dodging void fissures and lava waves, not to mention healing through constant AoE and reflective damage, I didn’t even notice Vesperon die until I heard Keaton’s perpetually calm voice reminding us not to panic, because this is the fight we’ve done a hundred times before.

With all three of the Twilight drakes down for the count, our bear tank taunted Sartharion and took over as MT and our death knight switched over to DPS.  At this point, the fight became the simple tank ‘n’ spank (‘n dodge The Bad®!) that we all know so well.  The only difference was that we did it while holding our breaths, because victory was seconds away … and history tells us that’s usually when something goes disastrously wrong!

Fortunately — this time — it didn’t.

Tips

Some final comments and tips from our experience:

  • Don’t worry about DPSing Sartharion in the 30 second window before Tenebron lands.  First, it isn’t necessary.  Second, your MT will probably be in stamina gear, and won’t have the hit or the swift threat generation you’re accustomed to this early into the fight.  Feral druids, warriors and rogues can take a swipe or two (no pun intended!) at Sarth to build rage or combo points, but everyone else should use this time to get situated: drop your totems or Demonic Circle, familiarize yourself with the safe zones, cast a Riptide on the MT to proc Tidal Waves, etc.
  • The drake tank and melee DPS should already be in position when Tenebron lands.
  • If raid DPS is a little low (and ours was, with only “four” real DPS and a Smite-spamming priest), use Bloodlust/Heroism to burst Tenebron down as quickly as possible.  If he lives long enough to summon a second wave of Twilight whelps, then your add tank can become overwhelmed.
  • Coordinate your tank-saving cooldowns before the fight, and have someone call for each cooldown in a pre-determined order.  If you’re in the cooldown rotation, this is your #1 priority; with all three drakes in play, Sartharion can and will one-shot the tank.  Communication is key, not only to ensure that no one misses a cooldown, but to cover other raid roles as well.  (For example, when it was our holy priest’s turn to use his cooldown, our elemental shaman assisted with raid heals.)
  • You don’t need a plate DPS class to tank Shadron’s acolyte in the portal realm.  Our rogue did it, and was very easy to heal.
  • Have someone who isn’t in the portal realm call lava waves on Vent.  If a lava wave is active or imminent, wait until it passes to exit the portal.
  • Play to your strengths. Don’t feel trapped by someone else’s strategy; assess your strengths — and weaknesses — and adjust accordingly.
  • Don’t get discouraged! This is the hardest fight in the game, and you’re meant to wipe on it … a lot.  It took us close to 20 hours of attempts over the course of several weeks to learn.  Progress can be agonizingly slow and is often difficult to measure, especially because there are so many random elements to overcome.  It isn’t unusual to down two and half drakes in one solid attempt… and then wipe in the first thirty seconds of the next one because your drake tank found himself trapped between a void fissures and a lava wave or your holy priest ate two successive lava strikes.  As frustrating as this encounter can be, it is the cumulative challenge of all these rage-inducing elements that makes the eventual victory worthwhile.  Believe me, triumph is sweet … and it tastes like dragon.

April 8, 2009 at 11:57 am 11 comments

Finally!

Of the Nightfall!

April 1, 2009 at 10:32 pm 6 comments

To raid, or not to raid …

… is not actually the question, but “to farm Heroic Naxx, or to postpone the 25-man shardfest until the weekend and invest one of our peak raid nights in Sartharion-10 3D?” just doesn’t have the same ring to it. >.>

Our 10-man team spent a good eight hours wiping on Sarth 3D last week, and is so close to the kill we can taste it.  (Barbecue dragon, mmmm…)  But for various reasons, we won’t be able to try again until Sunday — unless we postpone our Wednesday night Naxx-25 until Saturday, which will leave Wednesday free for OS10?

Naturally, being a Libra (and attempting to juggle all of the conflicting needs in the guild-at-large…), I’m torn.

Pro’s

  • My 10-man team will have the opportunity to get back into OS10 early enough in the reset to (1) experiment with various group comps, because fewer of our fellow guildmembers are likely to be saved to other ID’s and can be rotated in (we’d really like an unholy death knight, a warlock or a critchicken for the +13% spell damage buff to our caster-heavy DPS); and (2) still have all of Sunday afternoon to fine-tune our strategy, if for some reason we aren’t able to down Sartharion on Wednesday.
  • Some of our more casual weekend raiders (who have gotten short shrift since we started clearing content in one and a half raid nights) will be able to raid again, something that they dearly miss — and have been remarkably patient about, all things considered.  Not coincidentally, these are also the players who could most benefit the most from the gear that our weekday raid typically shards or loots to off-specs.  Also, because Saturday is one of our official raid days, we’ll need these weekend warriors in the best gear available to them.  Come Ulduar, they will definitely be a part of the progression team, so it behooves the guild to rotate them into farm runs as much as possible.

Con’s

  • Because my 10-man team includes (by necessity) some of the guild’s strongest players — including both guild leaders, three officers and two of our three main tanks — it is already perceived as a “clique” by a handful of members.  If I start scheduling 25-man raids around a 10-man run, then drama is almost certain to ensue.  We already have a contingent of players who feel that 10-mans are largely irrelvant to the guild’s progression … or at least, less important than farming Naxx-25 for their last few upgrades.
  • The reason we can’t raid again until Sunday is that our main tank and raid leader has weekend plans, and he isn’t someone we’re willing or able to replace.  Since our protadin (who isn’t on the 10-man team) won’t be able to make Saturday, either, we’ll be down two and possibly even three tanks.  There are at least two alts (of players on the 10-man team) who are willing and able to tank Naxx-25, especially if it means freeing up Wednesday for OS10 progression … but I have a feeling that relying on alts to tank a 25-man will result in a rougher run than we’re accustomed to, and therefore drama (because some players still expect to be carried, and will fret that the guild’s best tanks are unavailable for the 25-man run because we prioritized our 10-man earlier in the week).

Through all of this, I also question my own ability to remain unbiased, and make decisions that are in the guild’s best interests.  I’m on the 10-man team.  I’m also the guild leader, and have a huge vested interest in seeing that little checkmark next to our name under OS10 3D on the realm’s progression thread before 3.1 hits.

Whatever I decide, there will be unhappy people, missed opportunities and the opportunity for drama.  I hate all three of these things!  Immensely!  But as Kyrilean pointed out in a post earlier today, the worst decision is often no decision at all.

It’s coming.  I just need a few more minutes to think about it …

/waffle

*   *   *

Update:  We didn’t have the best turn-out tonight, so we did a quick 25-man Malygos with fill-ins from our Friends & Family rank while we waited for a few more raiders to log-on.  Then it was off to Obsidian Sanctum for Sarth 3D.  We were still missing some key people, so DPS was a little low; it took us a few tries, and definitely wasn’t the smooth kill it’s been for the last two weeks.  (I spent most of the fight face-down in the dirt after clipping a void zone.  After all these weeks of raiding as a shaman, I /fail hard at ‘locking.)

We had an hour left on the clock but everyone was drained, so we called the raid there.  It looks like we’ll be doing Naxx on Saturday after all; the guild seemed receptive to it, as it would get our weekend raiders in, and the weekday core is a little burnt out now anyway. 

Sometimes I overthink things.  ;.;

March 24, 2009 at 1:36 pm 3 comments

Gonna Go When The Volcano Blows!

I bring the wineRemember that disaster of an “alt” OS10 run that transformed me from a mild-mannered Tauren shaman, serenely communing with the elements, into a card-carrying member of the Angry Healers Club?  What I neglected to mention was that immediately after we pulled Sartharion, our sole non-alt DPS — a Death Knight who never fails to “win Recount” — committed suicide-by-lava.

I can’t say that I blame him, to be honest.  I was /wrists-ing at several friends in a private chat channel at the time, too.

… or, rather, I couldn’t say that I blamed him … until I realized why he did it …

It wasn’t because the tanks were inconsiderate, incompetent and, well, plural.  (Why did we bring three of them, again?  /boggle)

It wasn’t because raid DPS was so ridiculously slow that we started asking each other if Sartharion had an enrage timer.

It wasn’t even because the healers were snarling-mad (although we were).

No.  He committed suicide to cheese the achievement.  Apparently, the game doesn’t recognize the difference between dying before you’re hit by a volcano and defeating Sartharion without being hit by any volcanos at all … provided that the other nine-tenths of the raid is able to down him, of course.  

Which we did. 

Eventually. 

Painfully. 

With much gnashing of the teeth, tearing of the hair and general QQ.

So in the end, our sole DPS main earned (/cough) his 10 achievement points, our feckless alts walked away with gear and badges, and I spent the next few days commiserating with Angry Healers everywhere.  (Yay, blogfodder.) 

Win-win, right?

not if you asked the other healer in the run, the holy-turned-ret-turned-holy-again paladin who was the Light to my Lasers that night.  He was absolutely furious that the Death Knight took a dive, especially since it forced the two of us work that much harder to keep the rest of the raid alive (and thus miss out on the achievement ourselves).

I understand where he was coming from, of course.  I wasn’t mad myself (the Death Knight announced before accepting the raid invite that he was going to die in a fire; we just kind of assumed that he was joking…) but that’s probably because I was already frustrated to the verge of tears by ten other things.  One more would have pushed me over the edge from angry into homicidal.

I kind of shrugged it off at the time, /pat‘d the paladin on his jet-blue shoulders and wrote the entire night off as a “learning experience” (as in, I learned never to subject myself to that again!).

So why do I bring all of this up again?  Am I that hard up for things to write about?

… Yes, but that’s thoroughly beside the point.

You see, late, late last night — after working on Sarth 3D (Lite Edition) for an hour or so and realizing that we just didn’t have the right group for it — we decided to assassinate the Twilight drakes one-by-one and then take on Sarth, which would give everyone who didn’t have the achievement yet an opportunity to practice volcano-dodging in a relatively stress-free environment.  (Because, believe me, a lava wall and some fire elementals are a nice walk in the Sepulcher compared to all of The Bad® that Sarth 3D has going on!)

So, no Of The Nightfall for me this week. 

But no volcano-spew, either! 

Without throwing myself into the jaws of the dragon — or letting any of my precious little Grid-boxlets go out! — Gonna Go When The Volcano Blows is one more Glory of the Raider achievement checked off my list. 

/flex

The hands-down best part was that the Angry Paladin got it too, which inspired him to forgive the Death Knight (it’s easy to forgive someone when you can feel superior to them — such as for earning an achievement legitimately that they had to exploit).  I never have to listen to him cry in /officer chat about it again!

… Still, the entire incident has me thinking about Tarsus’s excellent No Faith in Achievements post in a whole new light.  I don’t necessarily agree that achievements are pointless, although I certainly wish they were: their only real value comes from keeping my guildmembers interested in the game at a time that we’re all bored out of our minds.  If the raids themselves presented more of a challenge, then the gimmicky raid achievements wouldn’t feel like such a necessary evil.

March 18, 2009 at 5:15 pm 6 comments

Reflections of a Twilight Vanquisher

If you read Matticus through a feedreader, like I do, then you’re probably familiar with the quote in his security footer:

You miss 100% of the shots you never take.  — Wayne Gretzky

I like the quote, and I agree with it … but more in passing than upon reflection, if that makes any sense?  Until this weekend, I never gave it much more than a moment’s thought.  Now, though — now, it rings so poignantly true that it almost brought me to tears this morning, when I opened my beloved Google® Reader to learn more than I ever needed to know about Lifebloom and five (more) reasons that the PTR sucks.

Yes, I’m a girl.  I still cry every time Bambi’s mother dies, and whenever Sarah McLachlan asks for money for the SPCA. 

… But why would a hockey quote, of all things, make my nose start to sting and my eyes just a little moist?

Because this weekend’s Sartharion 3D kill, a first for my guild, came perilously close to not happening — not because we couldn’t master the fight, but because we almost didn’t try.

*   *   *

Scott Andrews of Wow Insider printed a letter in his column this morning that could have come from any one of my officers:

After clearing all available 25-man content and having it on farm for over a month, a line seems to have been drawn in the proverbial sand.  Half of our raiders consider multiple drake Obsidian Sanctum the next step in guild progression.  However, the other half seem to be content farming content that it “easy” for us and are happy not logging on when we schedule attempts.

Furthermore, when we do get enough people for a “progression” raid, we run into the same problem.  After a few attempts, we inevitably get one or two raiders planting the seed of doubt …

Don’t despair, anonymous WI reader!  You aren’t alone. 

This has been our experience exactly.

I’m sure I’ve written about this before: on the evening of our first scheduled Naxx-25, we had over 40 guildmembers online, leveled to 80 and ready to raid — including players I hadn’t seen in months and long-since demoted to “Friends & Family.”  (As an ostensibly casual guild leader, I’ve come to accept that members will come and go.  We have ridiculously low attrition, insofar that raiders very seldom leave us for other guilds, but we do tend to lose casuals to real life fairly often.)

The initial burst of energy and enthusiasm carried us through all of the content currently available.  Within three weeks, we had cleared not only Naxxramas, but Obsidian Sanctum and Eye of Eternity as well.

Then … we stalled.

You’ve heard all of the reasons and excuses before — certainly from the blogosphere, and perhaps within your own guild as well.  The absence of Heroic attunements and abundance of BoE epics make the gearing up process trivial.  Two versions of each raid instance lead players to burn out on them twice as quickly. 

The content itself is “too easy,” and there isn’t nearly enough of it: Malygos and Sartharion can be farmed in about 30 minutes each; Naxxramas takes longer, but lacks the replayability of Karazhan.  (Remember how utterly random the Prince Malchezaar fight was?  Even a T6-geared raid could catch an unlucky series of infernals and wipe!)

Taken together, these things conspired against us: by the time we returned to the Obsidian Sanctum on Saturday, it had been three weeks since we had cleared Naxxramas with more than 20 people in our raid.  Even more disheartening was the fact that we had been forced to either cancel or downgrade all but two of our previous Sartharion 3D attempts for lack of interest. 

Right up until invite time, Saturday’s raid looked to be more of the same.

Our single-highest DPS — a Death Knight — signed up as “not attending.”  So did our holy priest and both of our part-time resto druids.  One of our rogues was called into work at the last minute, and a mage claimed the same (but was probably just boycotting the raid, since he isn’t interested in any boss that doesn’t drop The Turning Tide).

Several of our casuals had recently leveled to 80, so we were able to fill the most glaring holes in our raid.  For the first time in almost a month, we had 25 people ready and even eager to go!   … The problem was, they weren’t the right people. 

We had five tanks (one more than we needed), six healers (one less than we wanted) and two brand-new DPS who had PuG’d OS a few times but never before attended drake attempts with the guild. 

And, because we opened the night with Malygos-25 and PuG’d liberally from /guild chat to do it, we ended up inviting everyone who was capable of clicking “accept” — from the newly 80 holy paladin who had all of his gear enchanted with stamina patches to the beastmaster hunter who can raid once in a rare Saturday (and only then if we’re desparate, since his transatlantic connection makes it almost impossible for him to dodge void zones and lava waves). 

Looking over the roster at the start of the Obsidian Sanctum portion of our raid, Sartharion 3D looked impossible.  Feeling more than a little trepidatious, Keaton started counting the number of  “save-the-bear” cooldowns we had available to us.  There were all of two: his, and a single Pain Suppression.

Was it even worth attempting Sarth 3D with this group? we asked ourselves on our private u2u channel.  Or should we take the quick kill and break into 10-man groups to gear our newer members and work on our Glory of the Raider achievements? 

We discussed our options briefly on open Vent, acknowledging that we didn’t have the “ideal group composition” for progression, but expressing our willingness to continue if the rest of the raid was.  Worst case scenario, I mused (while Keaton scurried off to Moonglade to respec bear), we could work on our positioning, practice the movement of the fight and perfect the healing and tanking assignments for next time.

We put it to a /readycheck vote: 22 for; 3 against.

Cleary, I raid with optimists.

*  *  *

On our very first attempt, we killed Tenebron before losing too many healers to uncontrolled adds and calling the wipe.  By our third or fourth attempt — and to everyone’s shock — we were starting to see actual progress, and what had started as a resigned, “might as well get a couple of learning wipes in” attitude became to transform into real excitement and real determination.

We started to take things seriously.  Our fifth tank respecced DPS.  Our undergeared paladin subbed out for a warlock (which elicited more than one raised eyebrow, because it took the total number of healers in the raid down to five).  And one of our two ret paladins switched over to his Death Knight, who he retired a few weeks ago but still sufficiently outgears his current main.

Things went wrong; we fixed them — talking through our strategies on Vent, experimenting with new roles, adjusting the timing of our Bloodlusts and how we dealt with portal phases.

DPS seemed a little low; we told our high-DPS rogue not to bother with anesthetic wound poison, and put our lowest-DPSing hunter on tranquilizing shot.

Twilight Whelps were chewing up our healers; we switched tanking assignments and had our protadin handle the drakes, while our warrior took over adds.  He was paired with a second prot paladin, and together they had both the snap aggro (thunderclap) and the AoE threat generation (consecrate) to keep the whelps and fire elementals under control.

A handful of players struggled with void zones; we had an elemental shaman with high-situational awareness call them out on Vent. 

And so on.

One obstacle at a time, we inched closer and closer to victory.  The one thing we couldn’t overcome were the breaths; with all three drakes up and only two cooldowns to rely on, Sartharion could easily one-shot our main tank. 

Our prot-turned-fury warrior had dinner plans, and reluctantly stepped out.  We brought a holy paladin in to replace him, which brought our total number of healers up to six, but didn’t help our cooldown count since he wasn’t specced for Divine Guardian.  “Should I respec?” he asked as he zoned in. 

“No, just run with it,” I /whispered in response.  “We’re doing really well and don’t want to break our momentum.  Respec after this wipe to minimize downtime.”

… except, we didn’t wipe.  And we didn’t need a single cooldown, because our DPS burst Tenebron down before Shadron even landed

It was one of those magical, once-in-a-raiding-tier nights when everything just clicked for us, and the fight flowed together. 

Tenebron fell.

Shadron fell.

Vesperon fell.

And suddenly there was just Sartharion to deal with, and our epic battle became one we’ve done a dozen times before.  Still, I don’t think I was the only one holding my breath with Sartharion finally bit the dust.

 And to think … it almost didn’t happen.  Because we almost didn’t try.

March 9, 2009 at 5:56 pm 12 comments

2,000 words

Sartharion 3D

wowscrnshot_030709_204632

March 7, 2009 at 9:52 pm 6 comments

Demonic Circle > 3fps

I’ve been raiding attempting to raid on a laptop, since my boyfriend and raid leader is visiting from Calgary and I’ve ceded my desktop to him.  Call me crazy, but I think it’s more important that the main tank has a decent connection for Sarth 3D attempts than the largely expendable ‘lock.  If things get too bad, I can always replace myself … but I can’t really replace our one and only Feral Druid.  (As much as I’d like to.  Sometimes.  Such as when he /flails around for a drink in the middle of the night, knocks the plastic water bottle on the floor and doesn’t pick it up again.  Let this be a warning to all of you bears out there with an OCD warlock for a significant other:  PICKITUP!PICKITUP!PICKITUP!) 

Unfortunately, even connected directly to the router, with all graphical effects and spell details turned as low as they can go, I’m still averaging something like 3 fps in 25-man raids.

Not good.

Especially not good on a fight like Sartharion 3D.  If you haven’t attempted it yet, it’s kind of like the Illidari Council.  Backwards.  In heels.  (And I’ll give a free Healthstone to anyone who gets that reference.  /tango)

In other words: it’s yet another exercise in ekeing max DPS out of your DoT rotation while micromanaging your pet and Not Standing In The Bad®.

And believe me, there’s a LOT of Bad®. 

There are lava waves — HUGE walls of molten fire — that can come from either the north or the south side of a central platform.  If a wave comes from the north, then there are breaks here and here.  (I know you can’t see it, but I’m pointing at my screen.) 

On the other hand, if the wave comes from the south, then there are breaks there and there.   (Same thing; just run with it.  I gave up on making this an informative post and am simply ranting.  You should be used to it by now.)

At the same time, there are void zones (think Kel’Thuzad’s fissures, but blue) that appear in random places that will one-shot anyone unfortunate enough to be standing in them … and balls of fire that fall from the sky … and flocks of annoyingly cheerful, chirping, cawing, clawing baby dragons that are almost certain to be anchored in the most inconvenient place imaginable (thank you, Frost Nova!) … and packs of fire elementals, some enraged, others simply intent on frying your brain in a polite, non-enraged manner …

And did I mention the dragons?  Four of them, with fire breaths and a tail swipe.

Yes, it’s a little, tiny bit chaotic.

And if you happen to be keyboard turning for the first time in your life, on a laptop with a miniscule 15.4″ screen, and 3 fps that occasionally dips down to 3 spf …

Good luck.

Needlessly to say, I was having a really hard time dodging void zones and lava waves.  Not quite as hard of a time as Sean the Naked Orc Death Knight (who took 18) or our Prot Paladin (20), but I was clearly struggling, as our Warrior’s Failbot mod was all too happy to announce. 

*Elleiras fails at lava waves (1)
*Elleiras fails at lava waves (2)
*Elleiras fails at lava waves (5423)
*Elleiras fails at void zones (1)
*Elleiras fails at life. Why haven’t you /gkicked her already? Oh, she’s the GM? … wow, your guild must totally suck.

/sigh

Eventually, it finally occurred to me: I’m a Warlock!  I have a Demonic Circle!  I should use it!

So I did … to amazing effect.  Really.  I went from not surviving a single attempt to outlasting the tanks, even with my god-awful fps and spikey lag.  I even managed to avoid the wipe once, kiting a couple of elementals to the portal and DPSing them down with the help of a friendly Boomkin while the rest of the raid zoned back into the instance.

Anyway, the trick was to ignore Sartharion in the first few seconds of the fight.  While the rest of the raid attempted to throw some DoTs or debuffs or combo points on him before Tenebron landed, I ran straight to one of the two “safe spots” (the hitherto mentioned here) and dropped a Demonic Circle.  Then I hightailed it to the other safe spot (there) and settled down to DPS.

DoT!

DoT!

DoT!

Incinerate!  Incinerate!  Incinerate! 

When the lava wave came from the south (and I didn’t bother to look for it with my fps; I just listened for the announcement on Vent — or cheated, and watched on Keaton’s screen), I would simply hit my keybinding for Demonic Circle: Teleport and, *poof*, be in the right place.  Instantly.  Safe, sound, on the ground.  Then, as soon as the wave passed, I’d scoot back over into my original spot. 

If the lava wave came from the north, then I was already in the safe spot, and could just keep DPSing cheerfully away.

We’re heading back into OS25 tonight, so I’ll try to take some screen shots of our positioning and mark the safe spots.  I’m still surprised by the number of hits I get from people Googling “Sartharion + Drakes.”  Apparently, no one searches for “that one Warlock-turned-Shaman who still gets lost in old world instances and can’t jump unless she’s strung out on Swiftness Potions.”  Odd, that.

Goal for tonight: l2mendpet.  I specced Felguard/Emberstorm since it’s far more forgiving of lag than Affliction, but it’s been a while since I’ve had to micromanage Haaghun.  He keeps dying in the Bad®, but I think if I recall him to me for every lava wave he should be fine.  If not, our Prot Paladin (<3) offered to help me farm Solarian’s trinket.  If a Voidwalker can tank Sartharion, then the very least my Felguard can do is survive him long enough to do some DPS.

February 18, 2009 at 4:47 pm 7 comments

Sartharion with one drake

Aha! 

After 40 minutes of searching high and low — not to mention in some of the oddest places; did I really think they would be in the microwave?! — I finally found my car keys.  Go me. 

I’m at work now, nursing a mug (technically, an environmentally unfriendly styrofoam cup) of hot chocolate and wondering why I have 91 new e-mails on Christmas Eve.  Shouldn’t these people be out shopping, or something? 

(Not me!  I did all of my Christmas shopping on ThinkGeek.com.  And by the way, how awesome is this shirt for a girl gamer whose last name just happens to be “Kiss”?)

I’ve already mentioned that lieu of sleep or frantic cleaning, I joined nine other intrepid guildies last night for our first successful “S1″ kill — the server’s shorthand for “Sartharion 10, with one drake”.

So … How did we do it? 

Group comp looked like this:

Main Tank: Feral Druid
Off Tank: Prot Paladin
Healers: CoH Priest, Resto Druid, Resto Shaman
DPS: Survival Hunter, Mage, Ret Paladin, Warlock, Warrior

This is one more healer than we typically run with, but we planned on leaving Vesperon up.  Since he’s the drake who decreases health points by 25%, three AoE healers seemed like a very good idea. 

Besides, no one else was on.  >.>

At first, we tried to follow WoWWiki’s advice and send all of our DPS into Vesperon’s portal to nuke his disciple and dispell his Twilight Torment effect — basically, an aura that reflects a percentage of the damage done to Vesperon to the damager-doer. 

So the bear tanked Sartharion and Vesperon, while the tankadin was on add control and either the fury warrior or ret paladin — whoever made it through the Twilight Portal first — off-tanked Vesperon’s disciple.  The resto shaman followed the raid, while the priest and resto druid stayed with the tanks and helped mop up splash damage in between portal phases.

With the exception of the time (okay, the two times …) I died because the disciple found found me before an off-tank found him, the strategy seemed sound.  Unfortunately, for our level of gear, it was just too slow.  The priest and tree druid were going OOM before Vesperon was down to 20%.  Between his water shield and periodic portal phase reprieves, the shaman was able to last a little longer — but once the priest and druid bottomed out it was only a matter of time before a tank went down and the raid wiped.

After a couple of failed attempts, we decided to ignore the portal phases entirely, instead nuking Vesperon and healing through his Twilight Torment.  The hunter misdirected Vesperon to the druid, and as soon as the druid had aggro, the shaman popped Bloodlust and the DPS blew all of their trinkets and cooldowns to burst Vesperon down.

I don’t think this tactic would have been successful without three AoE healers; even with them, the DPS had to back off of Vesperon anytime our health dipped below 40% and switch to either Sartharion or the fire elementals (which we ignored while Vesperson was up) until the healers could top us off again.  

But because our healers are amazing — and because the druid and fury warrior are so used to tanking togeher (the warrior is main-spec prot) that they were able to pull off a flawless Taunt > Shield Wall > Battle Rezz  > Taunt combination to get a dead DPSer back, we managed to down Sartharion after just two tries using this strategy.

December 24, 2008 at 5:23 pm Leave a comment


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