Welcome to Hotel Hard Mode

… you can checkout any time you like, but you can never leave …

I haven’t written much about raid progression recently. It’s because the good ship 25-man raiding has been drifting in the summertime signup doldrums. I think everyone is proud that we’ve been able to muster at least one raid a week and even based on that we now have three keepers down and can start to work on Mimiron. I know I am.

wow-heroes also reckons I’m the 7th best (geared) protection warrior on my server. I think it’s more likely that the others didn’t log out in their tanking gear but hey, a free compliment. I’ll take two. It’s actually more of a compliment to our raid group because I certainly didn’t do that on my own. And as far as loot goes, I’m still dancing the victory dance (don’t tell me you don’t do that too) from acquiring the Heart of Iron.

In some ways it is easier to arrange 10 man runs in the Summer, less people to worry about. In some ways it’s also harder. People just don’t take them as seriously as the 25 man runs and seem more likely to drop out at the last minute. So it’s been stressy for the organisers, I think. To know that however solid the signup list appears, you will probably have to be frantically whispering your friends list 5 minutes before raid start anyway.

We’re still working on Yogg, but to liven up the earlier parts of the instance,  we made a start on some of the easier hard modes last week.


So if you don’t know those ones, the first is a speed trash clear, the second is more of a dps burst followed by some positioning and the third is like regular Flame Leviathan but … harder?


This is the Ulduar equivalent to the 20 minute Spider Wing clear. You have 20 minutes to clear  the three minibosses, as much trash as is in the way, and the Avatar of Freya herself. We found that the key to this was really good coordination and communication between tanks. You will be chain pulling properly (not like Naxxramas where you tend to just pull entire rooms anyway) which means that whoever is not tanking the last trash pack will be running up to mark and pull the next.

Kill order is still important here – big flower before little flowers, tree before dragon. (This is now sounding like a very zen strategy, or like an old codewar spying password. Q: the tree must die before the dragon? A: Yes, and do not forget the big flower.) With the miniboss nearest to the door (the one who casts the iron fists) we like to bounce him between tanks using ranged taunts when he has fists of iron up.

wowhead assures me that you don’t have to clear all the trash to get this achievement. We didn’t know that so we cleared everything and got it anyway. I suspect it may be more of an issue in the 25 man version. This one is especially fun for tanks, speed runs always are in my experience.


This was actually a more interesting fight than you’d think to see the videos or to read the strategy. The first big test is whether you can muster enough burst dps to get the heart down within one heart phase. You will want to single tank this one. If there are any pummelers in the first phase, someone has to move them down to where the tank can grab them.

After the heart is down, kill any remaining adds first. The boss will have aquired a bunch more health and healed back to full. His tantrums also hit a lot harder. You have to be disciplined with the gravity and light bombs (which spawn void zones and adds respectively). We had all ranged dps switch to the light sparks when they spawned.

And that’s really all there is to it. This one is quite fun for everyone except the tank – who just does the same stuff as usual. The rest of the raid get to run around, heal like crazies during the tantrums, and do some target switching when the adds spawn. Sorry tanks.

Orbital Devastation

The difficulty will depend on which towers you leave up. We’ve been going with storms and fire which puts more emphasis on people avoiding the beams of lightning and the (moving) beam of fire. It helps a lot if demolisher drivers have figured out the art of stacking pyrite, but otherwise is very straightforwards.

I still find this fight fun even on normal mode. I’m not sure if leaving towers up makes it any more fun – but it certainly doesn’t make it any less.

Hard Modes So Far?

We enjoyed tackling the hard modes this week, and I think they will become our default modes for those fights now. I’m not sure about some of the future ones – reading ahead, I’m seeing a lot of dps races in our future if we go that route. Freya with adds sounds to add some more interest to the fight though, and of course we still haven’t killed Yogg-Saron so don’t really want to spend too much time on the earlier encounters.

But it is fun to have a choice of progression fights.

I am amused to compare this with my experience in heroics this week. I don’t run many on Spinks but I did haul her out for a couple of speed runs through Old Stratholme. It was the double daily (ie. both normal and heroic versions) for two days running and we had a couple of new level 80s in guild who were very keen on the bronze drake.

So this became our private hard mode. Can we include two not-very-well-geared 80s in our 5 man and still make the timer? Oh yes we can. I think running that final gauntlet from the Town Hall to the timed boss in 4 minutes was a personal best (it may have been faster than that, I noticed 7 minutes on the clock when Epoch dropped in the Town Hall and we got to the extra boss with 3 minutes to go).

That’s two bronze drakes to go, and two very happy guildies. And I suspect I was pushing it way harder in the heroic than I did in the Freya timed run…

8 thoughts on “Welcome to Hotel Hard Mode

  1. Seems you are having a blast! Congrats on the nice “WoW Heroes Score”, you definitely have the most well rounded, exactly 2500. 🙂

    What do you think about raid difficulty and the optional way to do them to get extra achievements.

    I personally think it often asks players to do something in the silliest possibly imagineable way. So I am not a huge fan of the achievement tab and the ways it tells me to do things.

    On the other hand, both my old alliance and horde guilds on Azshara and Frostwolf are struggling with Yogg-Saron. They are raiding it daily without success so far, according to one of my best friends who is still playing they have too many “movement cripples” and many players are on vacation.

    I think Mrs. Spinks is a proper, tested and true raider! 🙂

    But I wonder if 75% of all raiders are not just nothing else but loot hungry slackers?

    Muckbeast questions some WoW and MMORPG design flaws, I found it to be quite interesting: http://www.frogdice.com/muckbeast/game_design/man-the-flamethrower-why-world-of-warcraft-is-badly-designed.html

    • I think that the whole idea of achievements works best if you see it as a buffet from which you pick and choose the ones that sound most fun or best suit your strengths or preferred play style.

      It just doesn’t do it for me as a ticklist where you have to get as many as possible. I will never really be happy about the notion of having to do an achievement I consider to be stupid just to get a tick in a box (it’s why I’m not bothering with most of the holiday achievements).

      Part of the fun of the Ulduar ones for us now is that we get to try them and decide which ones we think are fun, which ones need different strategies, and so on. I’m sure there will be some we just decide not to bother with (like the Loatheb one in Naxx — no one ever wanted to do it because it sounded so dull.)

  2. Good luck on the keepers hard mode. Hodir is a fun speed race and Thorims a pain in the behind 😉 Freya is alot easier the you would think, atleast with 1 add up.

  3. I can tell you which achievement lies on the shoulder of the tanks: I choose you steelbraker. The rest just need fast DPS and acceptable tanks. This one cannot be done without perfect tanking.

  4. Con-speed-atory

    This is very easy if you have a group that can kill Freya with +2 or +3 keepers. Just kill the trash groups that are absolutely necessary to have enough room to maneuver and kill her with the keepers up. That shouldn’t keep you longer than 10 – 15 minutes.

  5. We have done FL achievements, but we don’t have any desire to do them every week – we would rather get him down asap and get on with something more interesting.

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