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Cataclysm Raiding – First Impressions

As I mentioned in my last WoW-centric post, I started up a raid team with the K&G community guild, Happy Fun Guyz. We had our first real raid weekend between Friday and Saturday and hit two of the three main raids. Between those two and my time in Baradin Hold today, I have a total of 28 attempts at downing the first and second tier of raid bosses and feel comfortable sharing my first impressions.

Not Hard, Just Convoluted

I don’t think difficult is the right word for Cataclysm’s starter tier. More like convoluted. Like most raid bosses, every one we tried had a unique set of gimmicks that had to be mastered. It’s the dance. Master the dance, master the raid.

Take Throne of the Four Winds – Conclave of Wind. The fight is actually broken up between three mini-bosses that your raid splits to attempt. Each one has a special set of abilities that each team has to remember. One summons adds, the other does ice storms, a cone attack, and puts ice patches on the ground. The third, I don’t really know since it doesn’t require a tank (!!). Each of these bosses is on it’s own pedestal that players move between, pulling them out of the fight for a few seconds each time — and there’s several times throughout the fight where players move to one, then back to the other in very short order. There’s also multiple tank swaps. Add into that each boss needs to die within 60 seconds of the last and the raid now has to manage keeping three bosses health about the same through the whole encounter.

It took us a while to master — 17 attempts actually — but we got it down. The feeling at the end was great and the swell went up over vent. That being said, I don’t think any of us would really say it was “hard.” It was 100% about managing the dance and…

It’s all about the seconds

… managing the timing. The earth boss there summons adds that if not killed within a 30-secondish window will wipe your raid. Then there’s the 60 second timer between bosses, and the health management which, well, depends on your damage-over-time.

Bastion of Twilight is an even better example, though, and I hear that this applies to a lot of Cataclysm raiding: if you’re not on with those interrupts, you may as well not bother. The first boss, Halfus, has a random 3-drake combination that will give him new abilities and buff/debuff him (don’t ask). One of his abilities is a high-damage knockback that, if not interrupted, severely limits your DPS and makes it almost impossible to beat the enrage timer. And you’re talking a 1.5 second cast, so interrupters must be on the ball.

Cataclysm raiding is very much about nabbing things in very tiny windows.

Swappity-Swap

All single entry level raid bosses involve a tank swap. Easy enough if your tanks have vent. Noteworthy either way.

Little Parity Between Bosses

I put this in here for our attempts at Al’Akir, the second boss in Throne of the Four Winds. It’s possible to continue right on to him from Conclave but good luck if you’re a new team. This guy is first and foremost a DPS race, but he also adds layer upon layer of complexity onto the encounter.

We came back to him the day after downing Conclave. We were feeling good, despite being told repeatedly he was a different tier of boss. We tried 8 times and couldn’t get him past 95%. He summons a tornado wall, a moving ice patch, a knockback that takes you out of the fight for 10 seconds. All in phase 1. Sounds easy enough but when all of these abilities stack up, it makes for a very challenging encounter.

So, don’t count on all bosses in a single dungeon being part of the same tier.

Conclusion

It’s not hard. Communication is key. Raid composition is more important than it should be.  There’s at least as much dancing as there is fighting. These are the thoughts I’m left with after taking on these three bosses.

I have to say, though, it was FUN. We had a great time. Everyone stayed positive, didn’t get overly frustrated, and stayed to see it through. Two bosses down in our first weekend ever raiding together? I was happy.

So, while I’m still annoyed at everything I mentioned in the last post, this weekend reinforced for me once again that it’s all about the people. If it was a random PUG, we wouldn’t have done nearly as well. Even if we had, I doubt I’d come back next weekend to do it again. These guys? I created another two events just today. If there is anything that will keep me coming back throughout the life of the expansion, it will be keeping this raid team going. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, ever since I started WoW four years ago. Now that I can, and find out that I really like it, I’m here and won’t be going anywhere so long as this train keeps a’rolling.

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