Posts Tagged ‘Strategy


Icecrown Citadel is Upon Us

You are not prepared!

I am sure everyone in the blogosphere will be commenting on the drop of patch 3.3 today, and since I have nothing better to talk about today, I wanted to touch on two topics. First, with the advent of patch 3.3, Icecrown Citadel, and Chill of the Throne, I wanted to talk about my change in gear, gems, and enchants. I also would like to talk about the first boss, namely positioning, tanking strategy, and gear choices based off of the information that we have, as most of us will get in there tonight with out ever stepping foot on the PTR.

I need more STAMINA scotty!!!

After the announcement of chill of the throne, and subsequent lengthy discussion on the maintankadin forums, it has been identified that your best relative gains out of enchanting and geming your gear is pure stamina. There is a bit of a contradiction here when it comes to gearing philosophies, at our current levels of gear and avoidance in 245 to 258 gear, avoidance is a very attractive statistic for yours truly. Each additional percentage point of avoidance gets you that much closer to becoming passively unhittable with mostly avoidance (and not block rating). As your avoidance increases, each additional point of avoidance is more valuable. I slapped on a gimmick set to do Crazy Cat Lady a few nights ago and broke 70% avoidance while maintaining a respectable health pool.

However, with the advent of Chill of the throne, the opportunity cost of getting that next percentage point of avoidance is not worth the steep diminishing returns which are beginning to set in. Stamina, which does not suffer any diminishing returns, and also gives you a direct increase to your effective health, is the most attractive stat when it comes to TTL so far in ICC. With that being said, each one of my item level 258 items has pure stamina gems in then (Save one), and has stamina or armor on it as an enchant. Going forward I will be taking a bit more damage, but relatively speaking, the healers will see the hits getting “Smaller and smaller” as my health pool grows. I am currently walking around with about 44k unbuffed hp in my effective health set, and I plan on getting that up a bit more in the next few weeks with the new trinket and a few new pieces of gear.

So, in the end, the avoidance advocate of the MainTankadin community is finally stepping off his soap box and crossing the picket lines to the stamina camp. /nod mel.

Lord Marrowgar

The first boss of Icecrown Citadel is named Lord Marrowgar and he is a big ugly skeleton thing. He has several abilities of note, and most of them have to do with the “rest” of the raid. What we will be focusing on today is his damage intake on the tanks, and what we can do to properly prepare ourselves for this encounter. Below are his abilities in no particular order:

Bone Spike Graveyard – Hurls a massive bone spike which impales any enemies in the way. 3 sec cast
Bone Storm – Attacks nearby enemies in a whirlwind of bone, which causes them to bleed for until cancelled. Instant
Coldflame – Inflicts 9000 Frost damage every 1.0 sec for 8 sec. Instant
Saber Lash – Splits 300% of normal melee damage to an enemy and its two nearest allies. Melee range. Instant
Saber Lash – Prevents the target from being impaled while tanking. Unlimited range. Instant

The first thing that sticks out in my mind is FROST damage, as we are better at mitigating physical attacks, and we gear this way for the most part. However, upon closer consideration, we can predict that this is an ability that does not target the tank. While you can be targeted by it during P2 (we will get to that soon), when you are being hit by the boss, you will hopefully not have to worry about this. So, what do you have to worry about?

Saber Lash

Saber lash is a frontal cone attack that hits the tank and his two closest friends. What this means is that you will more than likely have three tanks for this encounter, and two of them can go /afk popcorn for 2/3 of the fight. Saber Lash is pure physical damage, and the only magical damage is avoidable, so an armor heavy, stamina heavy gear set is what I recommend, I will be going into this fight with my highest AC possible, ensuring that I can mitigate as much damage as I can. This seems like the perfect chance to test out Theck’s new formula, and my new spreadsheet.

During Phase 1, which is a tank and spank for us, you will be tanking the boss in his spawn location, and facing him away from the raid. The pull will be executed by running through his body and turning him 180 degrees. At this point, you and your off tanks will settle into a nice little tps rotation for 1 minute.

At the end of 1 minute, Phase 2 starts. Phase 2 is a 30 second whirlwind extravaganza with all of the goodies to boot. Marrowgar still sends out blue flames at random raid members, and uses bone spike (unconfirmed). You will have to spread your raid out, and for the three off tanks, it just means running to the back wall and spreading out. At this point, your job is to avoid blue flames and ensure that you are in range when the music stops, so that you can pick him back up and position him correctly. Once the thirty seconds of P2 is complete, you can rinse and repeat P1 and P2 until you have your very first ICC shiny purples.

Good luck to everyone tonight with both the first wing of ICC, and the more important and devastating boss, the hamster powering your specific server. I know that from personal experience, I should not expect too much out of tonight, and that I should have a movie in the BluRay player so that I am entertained through the “world server is down” messages, but I really want to see some server firsts tonight!


Breaking down Theck’s newest headache

I briefly touched on Theck’s new formula  a few posts ago, and Rhidach and Honors have done the same, but I wanted to discuss its benefits in the near future a bit more. Currently there is probably only one encounter that you would use this on, and that is the encounter you are wiping on. The problem with this current situation is that there are plenty of smart tanks that are easily available who have cleared the content and can help you with your gear questions. There are no fewer than 5 to 10 posts a day in the Gear Questions and Advice forum on MainTankadin, and these do not include the daily whispers that most top Tankadins get on a daily basis regarding strategy, gearing, and philosophy.

The formula courtesy of Theck, bringer of numbers and pounding headaches…

I don’t know about the rest of you, but just looking at that formula gives me a headache, so why have we been giving this so much attention over the past few days? The values of X and Y in that formula are very easy to obtain via World of Logs or WWS or what ever parse application you use, and they provide for some very powerful information. What we can do with this formula is calculate our effective health for any given death situation. Some of the variables are defined below by Theck, and these account for our specific gear sets, making this formula universal.

The formula uses the following mitigation factors:
Ma is the mitigation due to armor, defined as M is in section I.
Mt is the mitigation applied to physical damage due to talents
Mg is the mitigation applied to magical damage due to talents
Mr is the mitigation applied to magical damage due to resistances

Here X is the percentage of our damage intake that’s from bleed effects, Y is the amount of damage taken from magical sources, and 1-X-Y is the “leftover” amount due to regular physical damage.

Why do you ask is this an important thing to understand? Well as you very well know, I am a fanatic when it comes to gear discussion and theory, and It is where most of my expertise lies when it comes to theorycraft. And, this formula gives us a direct insight into our gearing choices and whether we should be altering our progression gear set for a specific encounter. For those of you who have the same level of math savvy that I do, the following breakdown clears somethings up for us:

The take-home message of these formulas is that armor loses effectiveness linearly with the percentage of “regular” physical damage intake for a given fight. In other words, for a fight with only 50% non-bleed physical damage, armor is reduced in effectiveness by 50%. If an armor trinket is worth 100 stamina on a purely “regular” physical fight, it will only be worth 60 stamina on a fight with 15% bleed damage and 25% magic damage (60% “regular” physical). – Theck

This gives us some insight into whether or not we should be wearing those juicy bonus armor pieces from Icecrown Citadel when fighting progression encounters with in that instance. We have all come to the consensus that bonus armor is a great weapon, and even more over, the armor trinkets that most tanks refuse to wear will have their day in the sun, however, they will be few and far between. The armor trinkets that we have access to through the badge vendors in this tier, and even the upgraded armor trinket with a stamina stacking proc in the next tier, will have specific times to shine, as our block rating gear has on Anub’arak.

It is important to understand though, that the use of these trinkets will be purely situational and most likely in a gimmick set, and not as part of our progression main tanking set. For that set, we will have the Scarab/Juggernaut trinket and the 228 stamina from the badge vendor in ICC. Once again, I give you Theck:

  • Stam is better in general, because it works everywhere. It’s the VISA of EH.
  • Armor is American Express. More exclusive, but very powerful in the few places it should be used.
  • This wasn’t intended to imply that Armor needs to be reworked. I think that Blizz is better off leaving armor as-is. But we need to be able to make intelligent gearing decisions as tanks, and knowing when to use or not use armor trinkets helps us do that.
  • Is this going to benefit the Greater community, or just the number crunchers?

    The true power of this equation is that it will help both sides of the community. First and foremost, this is a better evaluation of the formula and theory of Effective Health. This does not, in any way, change our view on effective health, or how it is achieved. What this does is show us the tipping points in certain encounters where the magic damage or bleed damage has become great enough that armor is no longer as powerful as stamina at a 11.7:1 ratio.

    For the number crunchers, we can analyze our death logs and evaluate our X and Y values to see if we need to modify our gear set to include more or less armor versus stamina, and we can do so in real time with irrefutable data. For those of you that do not do that, but still want to be prepared for the fights to come, The gear gurus of the community are beginning to work together to compile a list of damage sources which result in “spike” damage. What I mean by this is, we are starting to comb through our parses and get the damage numbers for our spike damage events for each applicable fight, and we will, when confident that we have a large enough sample size, publish the X and Y values for each encounter.

    This will provide a great wealth of information which will empirically define what gear sets you should wear for your progression encounter. If you are dying on Northrend Beasts to Gormok’s impale, then you can come look at those relative X an Y values and see if you need to shed or gain some armor for stamina. What is important to understand though, is that this formula is used to provide insight into those burst damage situations, not overall damage mitigation throughout the fight. Meloree and Brekkie brought this up half way through our discussion and they were spot on with their assessment, it is important to understand the following:

    People hear the term EH and they think “that number = my survivability”. In the way you are modeling EH, that is not strictly the case. Tanks gear for EH-contributing stats for progression, this is true, but the ultimate goal is not to maximize your absolute EH. It is to maximize your chance of survival against the primary “tank-killer” scenario of the current fight.- Brekkie

    Conclusions and a path forward?

    The formula gives us a very logical source of theorycraft from which we can make gearing decisions. It requires a bit of manipulation and data gathering, however when that is complete, we can effectively make on the fly decisions during progression encounters about our gearing choices. Where most great tanks do this already using the trial and error method, coupled with a vast amount of knowledge and gut feeling, we can empirically answer the question with a mathematical formula that should be fairly easy to do in between wipes.

    For now, We can go back to Trial of the Grand Crusader and analyze the parses for values of X and Y. As a community we will more than likely come up with an acceptable sample size and get some great values for effective health with respect to the gear we wear. Going forward, I would like to create a spreadsheet for dummies (read myself when I say dummies), which uses simple excel formulas to mimick Theck’s equation and allow anyone to plug in their values to give you your outputs. If the work is on the back end, you can easily create a format where you can plug in your mitigation factors, values for X and Y, and you will have your effective health. Tweaking those mitigation factors will give you a good idea on whether or not you want to stack more armor, more stamina, or even consider a resistance flask.


    Progress and Promise

    Progress Is Good… Humility is better

    Last night was a good night for me, I am still quite pleased with the results of a Wednesday night raid, and that is not a normal thing for our guild. It seems as though the prospect of a server first Anub’arak kill is enough motivation to get people to log on. Now I am not saying that we, the officers, had any disillusions that we were going to rock this guy in 20 attempts, as we have every other boss, but at the same time we have a lot of faith in our group to push this encounter and get it down in a very impressive time frame.

    I will have to say that I was faced with a difficult decision last night. We had a raid, we had two tanks, and we had the offer from a non guildy with a block set to help. After much deliberation in officer chat, I admitted that I couldn’t do this alone with out a much longer learning curve, and we brought in a “pug” to help tank the adds. Now when I say pug, I don’t mean that we went into the looking for group channel and picked up the first tank, I more mean a seasoned tank on our server who was a member of the guild that just imploded a week ago.

    With three tanks, a smoother transition on add pick ups and a raid stacked with 1 extra healer, we started our night of progress. Tuesday night, our best attempt, out of the 10 we did, was 80%. This was mostly my fault, as I was having a hard time learning the best method of picking up the adds. Last night, we far surpassed that on our first attempt, and only got better each time, with the rare exception of bad luck on adds interrupts.

    Who Needs Hit rating? I DO I DO…

    The biggest issue that we had last night, in repeating smooth encounters with perfect execution, was the interrupts. Thats not to say that it was the only problem, but from my point of view, and my faults, it was the difference between good attempts and great attempts. On more than one occasion, holy wrath AND shockwave would miss a target and a healer would get one shot. It begs the question, should I stack some more hit on my unhittable set? I am a solid 2% over the unhittable threshold and have the wiggle room to be able to get to about 120 hit. If I do that, I should have a much better chance at stunning all four adds.

    My main problem at the beginning of the night was the fact that there is so much going on that I couldn’t monitor the cool down on my DBM bars. Once I repositioned and resized my bars, my interrupts got much better, and I was not missing them completely, just missing the hits landing on the mobs. All in all, if I could have a perfect world, I would have someone on interrupt duty, but that doesn’t seem feasible at the current time frame, especially when the two tanks usually get the stuns off with out a problem. During the learning period of the fight, I am ok with a few misses leading to a battle res, versus the depleted dps from trying to get that kick off in time.

    Where to go from here?

    I don’t really want to be too cryptic with respect to our progress, as there are plenty of guilds in the world that have anub’arak down, even that have tribute to insanity, but it seems that the race for our server’s first just got a lot tighter. As such, lets just say we got into phase three with some great consistency. With that being said, from a tanking perspective, we just have to keep doing what we are doing, and hope that everything else falls into place. I have been pulling the first set of adds that spawn after the sub 30 to the ice, then once they are in range, I use my Lavanthor’s on use ability, and do my best to manage my damage. I have found that once that on use is activated, the only damage that I am taking is from the leeching swarm. This is good news, as it makes healing me so much easier.

    Wish us luck, as we truly feel that we will have this bad boy down in the next one or two nights of attempts. All I can say is that I am very glad that we have had a long drought of 258 tanking gear, because our dps is stellar, and our tanks are doing just fine. You can see it here first, I am predicting sub 40 attempts for a kill. I’ll have to get back to you on whether or not my prediction comes to fruition.


    Hard mode is hard, take 2…

    My guildies have found the site, whether by their own ingenuity or by the fact that I let it slip on the forums that I have a blog. Needless to say, I am going to have to start bashing them a bit more so that they clean it up!

    Anub’arak is a kitten, but his adds can kiss my hairy bean bag

    If there is one thing that I can take away from last nights raid, it is that I suck at add management. One add is a joke, two is not to bad, three is difficult, but four is down right impossible for me at the current time. Its not so much that I can not pick up four things, but it is that I can not pick up four things with out them going on the healer, having to turn my back to one of them, get the on the permafrost in time, and stun them. I personally do not even want to see the parses from last nights debacle, but one thing is for sure, I either need a lot of help from my guild mates or I need a lot of practice.


    The night as a whole was great, ToTC 25 man normal finally decided to drop the Legionnaire’s gorget, which I passed to our other tank (quite painfully I might add). And, other than that more dps loot! Why do I like dps loot? Well the more dps we can do the less waves of adds I have to pick up on anub and the closer we are to killing him (very far away p.s.). When we went into heroic trial, we hit a small bump in the road during Northrend Beasts, wiping once because we had our main dps dk go frost and tank. While he has picked up a descent amount of tanking gear, I was not ready to see him still sitting in T8 4 piece.

    With the beasts wipe behind us, we cleared all the way to anub, not before I picked up a nice 258 Pride of the Demon Lord which easily replaced my Cloak of the Shadowed Sun for my effective health set. Staring at this ugly blue bug, I cant help but use that old gem of a line from Starship Troopers – “the only good bug is a dead bug”

    Yeah I know, I know, it has been beaten to death by the WoW community, but I still love that cheesy movie and I cant help but think about it every time I see Anub’arak. On to the fight. After a lengthy explanation about the differences in the fight, and handing out assignments, we were ready for our first pull. I had my unhittable set on, elixirs and agility food, and was ready to go, or so I thought. We pulled, adds spawned, I died.

    Don’t turn around!

    So I turned around, big deal. Well actually it was, I was taking tons of unmitigated hits, and hating every last one of them. I believe that my problem stems from the fact that I am not properly prioritizing my pick up order, but that was a thought that came to me during the drive to work this morning, not last night during our 10 or so attempts. I was picking up the two adds on the right side and getting misdirected for the two adds on the left. What this leads to is that the two from the left inevitably are behind me when i start backing the adds onto the permafrost. This is the positioning and pulling that I was using last night. The red lines are adds I should be responsible for, and the green lines are adds that the hunters are MDing to me, p.s. I am the Blue Circle (MS Paint Son!)

    Old Anub

    After a lot of thought, what I would ultimately like to do is pick up the front left and right adds, and have the farther ones MDed to me. What this does is allow me to get to the permafrost as the last two adds are still running at me. The problem that I would run into is that even with the MDs, sometimes the adds would get on someone else. We were stacked up on Anub’arak and still I was usually missing one. In my new strat, I am going to swap which ones I am responsible for and it will look like this…

    Anub Pull

    Hit rating, What Hit rating?

    My second problem came from the fact that I have such an abysmal hit rating that my holy wrath is missing and shadow steps are a plenty. For the attempts where I did manage to get all 4 adds on me, on the permafrost, and good to go, we had one of two problems, the dps was not good enough and i would still have an add or two on me when the second set spawned, or the shadow steps would get off and just destroy some healers. Now we were short on rogues last night, which probably was one of the reasons that I wasn’t getting all four adds right off the bat, and our raid comp was less than perfect, but at the same time, I always pride myself on making up for others.

    I really don’t know what to do about the hit rating, and I assume that to continue to wear this set, you have to deal with it. I know my job is not to be the primary interrupter, but at the same time, I cannot help but feel 100% responsible for every wipe last night. The one thing that I can do is improve on pickups and my positioning, however what I can’t do is do everything by myself. Holy wrath be dammed, hit rating be dammed, I will be better and we will kill this bug.

    The Death of yet ANOTHER guild

    Although progression for progression’s sake is the number one reason that any guild should be pushing the envelope, we as a guild have another motivation for pushing anub’arak as fast as possible. In the past few months, the best guilds on our server have imploded. It all started with Algalon. The number one guild on the server was having a lot of trouble with the concept of quality raid attempts (or so I would assume), and a bunch of their core leadership departed the game for good. As a result, CSM, a top ~100 US guild from Ulduar times was no more. Because of this, the number one Alliance guild (Also at the time top ~100 US from Ulduar) stole the title for best raiding guild and kept progressing.

    About a month ago, Awaken, the aforementioned alliance guild, faction transferred to horde, as there are two alliance guilds that are capable of end game progression on our server, and about 7 horde guilds. Recruitment pools are important for keeping hard core guilds together. The started to gobble up all the raiders on the horde sided, and yet they were still having attendance issues. Over the past two weeks, they ended up losing their Protection Paladin / officer to a server transfer, and that was more than likely the last straw. The decided on Monday that they would no longer be a “raiding” guild, opening up the number one spot on the server for who ever kills Anub first.

    Now as much as server firsts are only bragging rights, and this one doesn’t get you a title or anything, our guild still has a thirst to prove that with an attempt counter we are better than anyone else out there on our server. We don’t raid as much, as we are a quality over quantity guild, but when we do raid, we are good. Each boss (save Anub) has dropped in less than 20 attempts, and we pride ourselves on that. We also pride ourselves on the fact that our fourth birthday is coming up in 2 days. We are by far the oldest and most stable raiding guild on the server. In the end, I believe that the push on Anub’arak will have special meaning for some of us, and for others just a satisfying kill to a very very hard boss.


    Finding a new tank

    Its been a busy day, and I really have not had time to sit down and write until now. I wanted to step away from the myriad of posts regarding min / maxing and the push between maximizing stamina and maximizing balance to talk about managing your guild. Specifically, what do you do when you have to replace a tank. For our guild, we have lost two tanks in the past few months to graduate school and a changing work schedule. As a result we were down to two tanks that were there the entire time, and a the other two that we would lean on from time to time to get things done. In the end, you will always survive, as we have continued to progress through the Trial of the Grand Crusade, but you have to deal with turn over on a regular basis, and there are a few things that I have learned over the years that help me with this.

    Performance speaks for itself

    Gear is replaceable, and is easily obtained when you are farming an instance. Specifically with the current difficulty, any one can obtain some T9 and badge loot. Performance however is not something that can be faked. In general, we make any applicant to our guild run in our alt 25 man ToTC so that the officers can monitor the play style, gear selection, and overall performance of any person that is interested in joining our raiding core. However with tanks you need even more scrutiny. For us, this is because tanks get gear for free. We prioritize all gear to our main tanks and they don’t need to worry about dkp at all. This is the way of a progression guild. From my perspective, in order to fall into this lofty category of loot sponge, you have to earn the right to bypass long standing guildies.

    When we try out a new tank, we put them right into the furnace and we see what they are made of. Every new tank that has applied to our guild has been forced to main tank a progression style instance. And right behind that main tank are the officers alts, and our former main tanks turned casuals. By making someone MT an alt run, they are forced to show you their abilities, play style and demeanor when it comes to leading, all while knowing that they have no less than 7 sets of eyes fixed to the back of their heads. Now it helps us that a few of our officers alts are in the top 30 best geared on the server for their class, but none the less, we place pressure when it comes to threat, movement, marking, and overall cooldown management, to see how someone reacts in a dynamic situation.

    For the last two tanks our guild has recruited, I was very impressed in their abilities to react quickly to the changing situations, and perform their jobs with relative ease. However, what happens once they have been let into your inner circle, and how do you incorporate them into a team of players that must act both selflessly and in unison to get a job done.

    Creating an Environment of Inclusion

    When dealing with our tanks, I always try to keep an open mind about where they are coming from and why they are here. There is no reason that we can not all have a great time, and be able to feel like we truly contributed to the raids success. When it comes to boss fights, unless it is a progression fight, we rotate who is on what in order to spice things up and ensure that every tank knows what each other is doing during the fight. If you only let a tank be the off tank that is on X mob, they will never have the confidence to step up the day that your “main tank” is not there, and after all tanking is all about confidence. By rotating the tanks around to different spots and different responsibilities, they all feel like they are equally essential to the raids success.

    I think one of the true tests of a tanking core is gear selection and the method in which gear is handed out. For our guild, there is a “loose” loot council when it comes to tanking gear. What I mean by that is that the three of us decide who can benefit most by picking up a piece of gear. In the end if there are any disagreements, there is DKP and officer opinion, however we have yet to run into an issue where one tank will pull the dkp card. We all understand the loot, the gearing philosophies, and the needs of the individual character, and we put our best foot forward when it comes to upgrades. The fact that we distribute loot to the person who can benefit from it the most, and not necessarily the person who has the most dkp or is the most greedy to get that gear score up separates us from most wow players. When you feel like you have the power to get any piece of gear that you need, you are more willing to work with your fellow tanks.

    Leading the tanking ranks

    I find that one of the things that I enjoy the most about being an officer and a tank is that I get to lead the tanking core. This really forces me to learn the mechanics of fights better than the person next to me. Understanding the ins and outs of the fight means that you are prepared for what is to come. Assigning taunt rotations, placement, and movement is something that I really enjoy. This role becomes a bit more difficult when you bring a new tank into an existing core on farmed content. You have be sure that you communicate their specific role to the best of your ability so that there is no confusion when the encounter starts. The success of the raid is dependent on the consistency of the tanks and their ability to eliminate the guess work from the encounter.

    I experienced this first hand last night on Anub’arak 10 man Hard Mode. In explaining the fight and how we do it to our new tank, I neglected to truly explain how to position him to help the add tank with pick ups. Essentially, the positioning was making the pickups and the interrupts difficult. This is something that I originally overlooked, and as a result cost us a few wipes. In the end, you have to ensure that you approach your tanks differently than the rest of your raid, as they are truly different. This is not to say that we are special, or we are more important, but we serve different roles, and become the focal point of a raid. There is more pressure on the tank than there is on the dps, and what we do effects everyone.


    Stacking Raids for Success, and the politics of raiding

    Tribute to Mad Skill!

    I wanted to talk a bit about guild management again today, as it was an issue that plagued our otherwise great night last night. This is really in direct correlation with the great news that we got down A Tribute to Mad Skill last night with 47 attempts remaining. We ran into a few problems with positioning on Anub’arak. Our ranged and healers were all standing on the other side of a permafrost when Anub burrowed and as a result were spiking the add tank, leading to his untimely death and a quick and painful wipe.

    Screen shot 2009-09-18 at 8.36.30 AM

    The fact that we got this achievement along with the methods that we employed to get it were the main source of controversy and hurt feelings last night. A few weeks ago when we got our A tribute to skill achievement and saw that there were T9 trophies in the tribute chest, the officers of my guild started to discuss how we would handle this 10 man now that there were obvious benefits to the 25 man raid. After a lengthy discussion we had come to the conclusion that stacking a raid with some of our best players to get to the tribute chest in as few wipes as possible was the best for the gearing and progress of our 25 man raid.

    Our reasoning behind this was simple, or at least we thought it was. If you balance your two 10 man groups for the week with half of your best players and half of your average players, you will have two teams that clear the instance in about 10 to 15 wipes, ensuring that both of your teams get a tribute chest with 2 trophies in it. This gives you a net gain of four trophies on the week. If you stack a raid with your very best tank, healers, and dps, leaving the other raid with average to above average players, you will have a four trophy tribute chest and a two trophy tribute chest, giving you a total of 6 trophies, a 2 tier piece gain. Sounds simple enough right?

    The downfall of our assumptions

    I want to start out by clarifying that when I say our best raiders versus our average raiders, we are talking about the difference between people that pull 7k dps and 6k dps, our two most capable healers, to two healers that are almost as capable but have not been around as much, or a pally tank (myself) and a warrior tank, both with 50k raid buffed hp, descent avoidance, and the skill to lead the encounters.

    So we split our groups up, and when we dropped the people that we generally consider the cream of the crop into the stacked raid, we noticed that we were very ranged centric. This is not to say that our melee are not the cream of the crop, it was just the selection that we had online at the time. This lead us to make a few choices for the last few spots. We needed a dps/healer hybrid that could do both depending on the fight and we needed to fill one last spot. Our choice boiled down to do we take our best DK, who has 95% raid attendance and does sensational dps, or do we take both of our best warlocks who also have 95+ percent attendance but will benefit more from the buffs that the raid was providing.

    In the end we sat one of our best raiders, and left him with the other group. Our main group was comprised of a Pally and Druid tank, Pally and Priest healer, with a boomkin offspecing as necessary, Ret paladin, two locks, a mage, and an elemental shaman. Our second group was Warrior and a DK tank, a Resto druid and Priest, healing, an enhancement shaman offspec healing as necessary, a dk and arms warrior, two mages, and a lock. We felt that we put together two strong groups that would succeed.

    We were wrong

    The group I was in was on the twins when the officers started getting whispers. We had one shot every boss, and in an exceedingly quick and efficient fashion. The second group was wiping on Gormok! Apparently the healers were not really executing the fight well and they were dying to snowbolds, fires, and what not. Eventually we told the raid to call it and we would get some different healers in there the next day, as our best holy priest and second best paladin healer were not online that night.

    Screen shot 2009-09-18 at 9.26.12 AM

    Thats when the real complaints started rolling in. We three shot anub, got our shiny epics, including a brand new tanking weapon for yours truly (Effective health weapon baby!) and we were in good spirits, however the other raid was no where near as happy as we were. After we started talking to the raiders in the other group we started to understand what they were upset with. They felt that we stacked the main group (rightfully so, as we had), and that they were all given the short end of the stick.

    Feelings of exclusion and playing the blame game

    After we realized that we had a bigger issue on our hands that originally thought, we got everyone from both groups into one channel in vent and we started to talk it over. The officers started out by telling everyone our reasoning behind the imbalance in the two groups and we took accountability for the issues that were caused by this balance. Then we started to ask for feedback on why things went so wrong. As the people that were the most heated started talking about the problems, what was happening and why they were frustrated, a new picture was painted of what the root cause of all of their problems was. The healers were not doing their job. A resto druid was carrying the brunt of the tank healing, they had a resto shaman healing as well, and a priest that has played his class for a very long time was holy at the request of the officers (another thing we took accountability for).

    They realized that the priest should have been disc, but not until after the officers brought the true issues to light. The problem with the raid was they they were so focused on getting the short end of the stick that they didnt try to play the game when it got tough, they just started making excuses. In the end we will not be running a stacked 10 man again (at the overall detriment to the gearing of our raid) so that everyone is happy. The tears of the few have fueled the change of the many.


    Anub’arak in detail

    Anub’arak is kind of a big deal…

    Or so he thinks. But in all seriousness, In the Trial of the Grand Crusade, the difference in difficulty between Anub and the rest of the instance is substantial. The level of play that is required to down this boss is quite a step up from any of his previous loot pinatas. This encounter is all about execution, gear, and the race to kill him. There are a few rather large differences between the normal and hard mode versions of this little blue bug. First and foremost is the time you have to kill him. For multiple reasons, you only have two surface phases to get him to 30%. If you fail to do so, you will wipe. You also only have 6 permafrost’s to use during the duration of the fight, meaning that they should be spread out appropriately and they should be used wisely. Let’s get to the phases…


    Phase 1 positioning and tactics

    In phase one, I began by popping an Ironshield potion, wings and DP and then running in and turning him on a dime. We tanked him where he spawns until the first permafrost is dropped near him. At that point you should drag him to the permafrost and get his hit box on it. This is not to prevent him from burrowing, but to take advantage of melee splash damage. As your team of dps’ers focuses down the adds, they will be doing damage to Anub’arak as well. From the Main tank’s perspective, once you have positioned him with in splash damage range, this phase is a tank and spank. The off tanks job is to pick up the two adds and drag them to the permafrost. A freedom on your offtank makes positioning much easier as well, so lend your fellow tank a “hand.” Another very important change from Normal to Heroic Mode is that the adds have a cast that gives them a shadowstep ability. This cast is interruptible and must be stopped or the adds will one shot your clothies. Assign two melee dps to each be responsible for interrupting one of the two adds. Raid Icons help dramatically on this aspect of the fight.

    While the first set of adds is on the permafrost and being killed, this is the time when one of your ranged dps should be strategically dropping all of the permafrost to the ground. You want them spread out all around the room as much as possible. We DPS down the first pair of adds and then switch all dps to the boss. When the second set of adds spawns, the off tank picks them up and pulls them to the permafrost, but the dps should stay on the boss. At the end of the first phase, you should have Anub’arak to about 55%. If you don’t, you are behind the dps marker that is required to defeat this fight. Once Anub’arak burrows, you want to finish off the two adds as soon as possible and prepare for the phase 2 positions.

    Phase 2 is all about coordinated movement

    During phase two, there are a few things that are going on all at once, and they are all very important to master. First and foremost, you should be kiting the spikes to a distant permafrost, but in hard mode, the spikes continually speed up so dont try to be a hero and kite them across the room unless you are a class that has a blink like ability. The key to the kiting is to spend the full duration of the burrowing phase kiting the spikes from permafrost to permafrost. There should be 6 permafrost’s down, and you can only use 5 during this phase, as you need the 6th to tank the adds on during the surface phase.

    The second thing that is going on during the burrowing phase is that a ton of beetles surface and they have to be killed. These bad boys put a stacking debuf on their target that does periodic damage. This debuf can stack infinitely, and deals significant damage over time. These bugs should be dpsed down by ranged only if it is possible, as the debuf lasts for a minute and is quite nasty.

    After your burrowing phase ends, all of the little adds should be dead, and Anub’arak will resurface. It is imperative that you drag him back to the permafrost that is left and tank him with his hit box overlapping again, so that you can take advantage of the splash damage.

    Rinse and Repeat?

    So when Anub’arak resurfaces you have 80 seconds to get him to 30% or its a guaranteed wipe. You should use the same strategy that you did on the P1 above, burn the first set of adds, tank them on the permafrost, take advantage of splash damage, and blow up the boss till 30%. At 30% you have to really get those adds down quick, because another twist that blizzard has added for hard mode is that the adds keep spawning. You will periodically have to switch to the adds and dps them down. Now that you have hit 30% though, you have leeching swarm ticking away at you. We originally only had an spriest to provide a 20% healing reduction debuff and found that it was not enough to counter the amount of healing anub receives from raid heals. Once you are at this point in the fight, its a race against the healers mana. You have to kill anub before your healers go oom or you hit the enrage timer (which ever comes first). Other than that, there is really nothing special about phase 3.

    In the end this encounter is about DPS and proper execution. Good luck to all of you that are pushing this encounter…


    Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.