Tank vs dps, round 5

Lono commented yesterday that he feels the hard mode flashpoints in SWTOR are overtuned, with the ‘hard’ part relying mostly on boss enrage timers. What this means in practice is that that the group needs to provide more dps, which means that it’s the dps who get the extra difficulty. He proved this by healing a hard mode successfully in his offspec and with dps gear (ie. the requirements on healers were very low).

I’d concur with this. We’ve run Black Talon in hardmode successfully, but in Boarding Party we couldn’t get past the first boss (it’s the group with multiple elites). So two issues:

  1. a tuning issue, some of those hard modes are either overtuned or are tuned with the expectation of specific types of dps and
  2. the difficulty isn’t spread across the roles evenly

My perspective is based on playing a dps juggernaut, and I’ve had some experience at playing melee dps in WoW so I don’t believe  lack of dps is down to my incompetence. It could be that the instances favour ranged dps over melee, or that juggernaut dps isn’t up to scratch, or that I’m not in full PvP or raid gear, or that my guild mates are rubbish (which they aren’t). However, groups in SWTOR only have 4 players so if an encounter IS favouring one type of dps over another AND is tightly tuned then they need to fix it, because otherwise it’s making things too hard if even one of your dps is ‘the wrong type.’ And personally, I’m not going to sit around whining about being forced to PvP to get gear upgrades to run instances in, I’ll just quit or play an alt once I feel I’ve given it my best shot and it wasn’t good enough.

It’s also confusing to the player base when the gear requirements for raids are lower than for flashpoints, and if that was intended then it’s something that needs to be made clearer. I have strong feelings about this from TBC when tanking heroics (if you weren’t playing a druid so had access to good crafted tanking gear) was absolutely horrible until you had Kara gear.

Tobold has taken this opportunity to throw some hate at dps players and snarking about lack of responsibility. This is just bizarre to me. So much hate. I have no issues with tanking, and spent a lot of time doing it in WoW. I’d probably be tanking in SWTOR except that we have a fair few tanks already and dps  are needed, and I know fine well what my responsibility is as a dps player. Do so many tanks and healers really hate the dps players that much? I don’t recall that I ever did – well maybe the really rude guys in random PUGs but that’s because they were really rude.

Maybe I was jealous that I had to endure gearing up from raiding to tank heroics where they could just hop in as soon as they hit level 70 (this is TBC, remember). That was in fact still a tuning issue, and it wasn’t right then, and it isn’t right now even if this time it’s the tanks/ healers getting the easier ride.

But on another level, he’s not seen how the emphasis has been shifting to dps in WoW over the last couple of expansions. More enrage timers, more need for top dps just to be able to clear normal mode raids, more raids failing because they have good tank and healer players but can’t get the dps … it’s been a trend. (Not a good one, I hasten to add. I think with X good players of any role you should be able to clear a raid/ instance where X can be less than the total if it’s not absolute cutting edge end game.)

[Blizzard] Plan B in patch 4.3, and Diablo 3 trailer

Happy Sunday!

Let’s start with a link to the new D3 trailer that was premiered last night (this is an RPS link since the Spike TV one is inaccessible to people in my region. )

If you want to compare with previous ones:

Maybe I’m jaded from awesome computer game trailers these days. It looks fine. I just want to know the release date.

Of greater interest to prospective players, Blizzard also released some more details around how the auction house/ battlenet/ money thing is going to work. So you’ll be able to ‘charge up’ your battle.net balance via paying money into your account, but you cannot withdraw money from it – this isn’t a bank. Proceeds of a D3 cash auction can either go into the battle.net balance (ie. if you want to use the money to pay future subs or something), or they can be cashed out if you pay a cashout fee. What this basically means is that you cannot store auction profits on battle.net until you have a decent amount and then cash all of it out for a single cashout fee. You’ll have to pay a fee on every individual auction you want to cash out.

Or as Mike@MMOCrunch puts it, quadruple dipping. This rather makes the cash AH  useful only if you either want to ‘earn’ money for your WoW subs/future D3 expansions or intend to sell rather large/ high value items. I suspect gold selling/ buying for Diablo 3 in large amounts will be the dominant model on the real money AH, and people will just use the gold AH for selling most gear.

What does a successful patch look like anyway?

Earlier this week I asked readers how they had found the difficulty of WoW’s latest patch, 4.3. Thanks to everyone who responded! The main impression I get is that people are enjoying the content, so that’s definitely a win for Blizzard.

But still, I see concerns around how difficult or challenging the raids and instances are (or more accurately, around how difficult they aren’t). I see this as very much tied into longevity. Ideally every player would like to spend their time working towards clear short and medium term goals, and seeing actual progress towards those goals with every session. (The goals don’t have to be gear related, maybe you’re making gold, making friends, or learning how to play your class/spec better.) So there’s an idea that “Well yes, this is really fun now. But what happens next? It won’t stay this fun for long …” It’s like a protestant work ethic – we cannot admit that we are having fun with the new content because dammit, we didn’t have to work hard enough. And it feels as though admitting that a patch is fun right now is like saying that it won’t be fun next week, or maybe the week after.

So–  when a player meets their medium term goals quickly, what happens then? Either they make new goals, or take a break until new goals present themselves. Some people are better than others at thinking up interesting personal goals, and some goals appeal more to some people than others (eg. I’m not motivated by achievements, personally.) And after you have played a game for long enough, maybe you’ve run out of potential medium term goals that can still hold your interest. There are only so many times you need to get the Loremaster or Crusader achievements, after all.

Blizzard is aiming to offer heroic modes as future goals for people who complete the content on normal modes, AND a much larger proportion of the player base will complete the content on normal or LFD mode than previously. Will the player base buy it, and will people then want to spend time working on the harder modes? If so, it’s a good model for Blizz. Lots of fun things for everyone to do and see when a new patch drops, as they check out the content on LFR/ normal mode. And then when they have completed that, extra challenge on heroic. Plus the new PvP season, and any other new content/ daily quest Blizzard can drop in (Darkmoon Faire in this case.)

And all that is required for that to work is for people to really care about repeating content they have already seen in normal mode in a harder heroic mode.  Let’s see how that pans out. I’d also have concerns about how LFR will affect turnout to casual raid guilds. Again, if people are motivated by seeing the content, how keen will they be to turn up to weekly raids to see it again in a harder form?

Still, it’s undoubtedly a good deal for players who wanted to see the cool lore stuff from patch 4.3 and be done with it (assuming they don’t care about harder modes) when SWTOR is released.

The 5 most iconic Wrath achievements

With all the imminent Cataclysm excitement on the horizon, I thought this was a good time to start looking back over Wrath of the Lich King. The good, the bad, the ugly, and the plain crazy.

Let’s start with some achievements. I’ve picked out five that epitomise the Wrath experience to me. I don’t have all of them myself.

What a Long Strange Trip It’s Been

This is the meta-achievement for completing lots of various holiday achievements around the year. There was a time when it included pretty much all of the holidays, but Blizzard have added a few new ones without updating this achievement (on the grounds that it would be unfair to those who picked it up later.)

The achiever is rewarded with a shiny pink dragon that is not girly at all, but is very fast. And one of the interesting sides is that even though the achievement can be completed solo – at least if you don’t mind using the dungeon finder for the instance holiday bosses – it hasn’t really got easier with gear inflation. This is because most of the holiday achievements don’t require much in the way of gear anyway.

There are other meta-achievements which reward people with shiny mounts. There is one for completing achievements in instances, and also one for the Ulduar hard modes. There was one for the Naxxramas hard modes too but it was phased out to stop people trivialising it with gear. The Undying (an achievement for beating Naxxramas without anyone in the raid group dying) however, still requires people to pay attention.

Pony Up!

Everyone loves jousting, right? Right?

This is the achievement you earn when you use 150 shiny champion’s seals from the Argent Tournament and buy your squire pet a pony, which means he (and in turn you) can access your bank and mail remotely.

Jousting and the Argent Tournament itself represented a huge amount of single player content/grind that was dropped into the game after Ulduar. It’s been contentious to say the least. I quite enjoy the jousting myself, but it’s very hard to argue that putting up a huge tournament ground was a good way for the Argent Crusade to combat the scourge in their own backyard.

And if you don’t fancy the achievement you could always spend your 150 seals on one of the fanciest flying mounts in the game, the Argent Tournament Dragonhawk. That’s if you are Horde, anyhow.


The 5 man instance achievements were the first time players encountered the notion of hard modes in WoW. Whilst some of the hard modes were very contrived, others were so trivial that people knocked out the achievement every time without even meaning to.

This is one of the tougher ones, and involves a lot of interrupting, burst dps, and a bit of luck. Or at least it did when the game went live.

But oops, I actually did it on my new DK alt this morning in a pick up group. So much for hard modes and gear inflation. Speaking of pick up groups, it wouldn’t be right to mention the 5 man instances without a shout out to Looking for Multitudes, the achievement for completing enough random groups via the dungeon finder that you have grouped with 100 different people. (i.e. fixed groups won’t count for much.) The dungeon finder has been one of the great successes of the expansion, and the achievement was there to help lure people into using it when it was first introduced. You get a pet for this one, a pug with worms or something as well as a fairly appropriate title, “The Patient.”

The Twilight Zone

Now, at the beginning of the expansion, there were raid achievements to complete in Naxxramas but they were a bit hit and miss. The raid had not originally been designed to include hard modes so the achievements mostly involved either doing the encounters in a completely wrong-faced way, or beating some timer or other.

But Sartharion was a different matter. It was the first raid encounter in Wrath that was properly designed to include hard modes that both changed how the fight played and were also bitching hard. The Twilight Zone achievement is for beating Sartharion with all three drakes up. It was also the first raid achievement that neatly showed exactly how a 10 man fight can be harder than the equivalent 25 man.

And also it showed up how overpowered both druids and DKs were as tanks at the time. Something which DKs suffered for significantly during the rest of Wrath as they were repeatedly nerfed. Druids got away relatively lightly.

As with the achievement above, people now casually romp through this one in pick up groups when Sartharion is the weekly raid. It is purely due to gear inflation.

Another very iconic raid achievement is Alone in the Darkness, which requires a raid group to beat Yogg Saron (the penultimate boss in Ulduar) without any help from the keepers. It is the hardest hard mode in Ulduar, so much so that it isn’t even included in the Ulduar meta-achievement. And it also gives a title to the realm first achiever.

A Tribute to Dedicated Insanity

This is an Argent Coliseum raid achievement, awarded to 10 man raid groups who can beat the final boss on heroic mode with no wipes at all (ie. no wipes or deaths in any of the boss fights at all.)

But what makes this one different is that it requires that no one in the raid is wearing gear obtainable from the 25 man trial of the crusader (or higher). This was intended as an achievement for strict 10 man guilds – i.e. people who only raid 10 man instances.

This was not the first attempt that Blizzard made to reward the strict 10 man guilds. There was a similar achievement for Algalon in Ulduar. But although there is some genuine admiration for the strict 10 man achievers, it’s largely seen as a sideshow to the real raiding scene. In the same way that Gevlon’s guild completed Ulduar in blue gear, it’s impressive but largely pointless. This is something that Blizzard are hoping to change in the next expansion. Also, having to fuss over everyone’s gear just in case one player had hopped into a 25 man PUG one week and forgotten to change their boots is a pain in the neck.

It would also be unfair to discuss crazy Wrath achievements without mentioning  Insane in the Membrane. This achievement actually has nothing to do with Northrend, instead requiring players to become exalted with all the most annoying and difficult factions in Vanilla WoW. But it was introduced during Wrath and – for some reason I cannot comprehend – some people did it. Congrats, I guess. It does reward the most appropriate title in the game though, “The Insane.”

Raid Updates, Cash Counting, Goblin Naming

I’ve never been more glad to not be a raid leader in WoW than I am right now. We’re suffering an embarrassment of riches at the moment, and there are plenty of hard modes that we could attempt, but scheduling and keeping raiders’ eyes on the ball has never been trickier.

I’m sure other raids are in this situation also.

  • You’ve cleared the Coliseum on normal mode and can sweep through it in about an hour, all being well. The loot is still good upgrades for a lot of people.
  • You cleared Onyxia last week. That’s not an issue, she wasn’t supposed to be a progression raid – they just gave her progression type loot so you don’t really want to skip her.
  • You’ve either cleared Ulduar on normal mode or still have one of the last two bosses left. In either case, in order to get to those guys you need to schedule an evening for clearing Ulduar and that probably means clearing on normal mode because if you waste too much time on wiping then you won’t get to Yogg Saron. Also most of the normal mode loot isn’t as desired as the other raids.

So on the one side you have the hard mode encounters which will involve lots of wipes. On the other hand, you have raids which still give loot that people need. And some of your progression fights are at the end of an instance that people aren’t so keen to go to any more. Plus you have limited time and some of your raiders are already bored of the Coliseum and complain about having to clear it on normal mode.

Normally (and I use that word in the widest sense), if it was me, I would let the bored guys bring alts to the normal modes, assuming they’re properly geared for it. Then they could switch to their mains for hard modes. But then you have to sort out your loot priorities (I consider it unfair to let someone take part in a raid and not allow them a share of the loot, regardless of whether it’s an alt or main), deal with everyone else who wants to bring their undergeared alt too, and still try to put together a raid that is competent to clear the instance.

For myself, I’m still enjoying the actual raids themselves. I like Ulduar and would love to go back there – but Coliseum has been good with the tank loot and I have most of the things I wanted from normal mode already. So I feel as though when it is a choice, I pick the instance which is prettier and more fun. When it isn’t a choice (ie. need gear) then I prefer to go where the gear is.

If you assume most raiders take a similar point of view, then we’re going to be in the Coliseum for awhile. And hopefully people will still remember the Ulduar fights when we get back to it. I don’t actually hate the Coliseum fights though – our raid group has been particularly good at learning the Faction Champions so even that fight is feeling more fun and less of a hassle these days.

Our initial try at the hard mode beasts was quite promising too. I may be the only person in the raid who thinks this, but I’m sure we could take them now on hard mode. It just needs everyone to be very on top of their game, and some insane healing in phase 1. (Like most raid groups, we have some insane healers so that’s probably fine.)

My Money Making Tips

Alchemy and Blacksmithing are not usually among the top money makers in trade professions. But now is THAT time. (Did I mention that my main is a blacksmith and my alt is an alchemist? Fight the expansion-tradeskill tyranny of jewelcrafting and inscription!!)

Runed orbs are coming way down in price and I’ve been able to sell a couple of Indestructible Plate Girdles, the pattern I picked up in Ulduar many moons ago. Belt buckles are also selling well – I suspect the new arena season, new belts on the triumph badge vendor, and drops in the Coliseum feed into this.

With the alchemist, note that transmuting metagems is not on a cooldown and that Onyxia drops are mostly … hats with metagem sockets. Everyone and their dog is currently killing Onyxia, and I’ve been selling metagems as fast as I can make them.

More news about Cataclysm

The hype train for Cataclysm is still going full steam ahead and this month’s PC Gamer has an interview with Blizzard about the new Cataclysm racial starting zones. wow.com sums the information up – and much as I hate overpriced PC magazines that obsess about shooters I don’t want to play, I’ll pick up a copy later to see what they missed.

As for the goblins, you start on Kezan as a pretty high level (society-wise, not game mechanics) executive, successful and rich, with a hot secretary. When Kezan begins to fall apart, you give your life savings to a Trade Prince who promises you safe passage to the mainland. Instead, he captures you and tries to sell into slavery.

If I wanted to play a goblin before, I want to play it doubly much now! So I do need to think of a name and all that jazz.

Maybe I’ll think about that while zoning through normal mode Coliseum this week!

I have to play it again on hard mode?


There are two types of gamer in the world. Those who want to play through a game again on a harder mode after they’ve finished it, and those who don’t.

This is an issue that many players will now be facing in WoW. The latest raid instance has not posed a major challenge in normal mode, even to casual raid groups. But the question is: Do we want to play it again, with shorter enrage timers, more adds, and the raid taking more damage all round? If the answer is no, then Blizzard’s flagship is looking thin on content at the moment.

Oh, there is plenty to do in WoW. It’s just that at this stage in the expansion, players who were in from the start have generally already done as much as they wanted of the older stuff. Alts are a possibility, but time to level and gear up is faster than ever, especially if you use heirlooms and xp via PvP (apparently Alterac Valley is where the big xp gains are to be made). We are also now into the ‘holiday season,’ with Brewfest, Hallow’s End, and WinterVeil leading up to the end of the year, and there are new holidays this year also  (Day of the Dead, something to do with pilgrims and turkeys).

They’ve successfully channelled more players into the raid game, and now we see where that is leading. Because when the raid game is ‘finished,’ what is there to do while waiting for the next raid? The gap in difficulty between normal and hard mode Coliseum is high — a raid which can muster enough dps to clear the normal mode might hit a brickwall on the first encounter of the heroic version.

There will be plenty of content in Icecrown whenever patch 3.3 comes out, but that probably won’t be for months. If you’re playing WoW, how are you keeping yourself amused at the moment?

Another route to hard modes

Lots of single player computer games have options that the player can select to control difficulty. You start up and get the Easy/Medium/Hard options, so you pick Easy, right? After all, you want to at least finish the game now you’ve bought it. Or at least get a feel for how easy their Easy mode is before you ask them to ramp up whatever tweaks they do to make things harder.

Or maybe that’s just me. If  a game offers an Easy mode, I’ll pick that while I’m learning it. But then again, I don’t like every game enough to want to replay it so maybe that’s the only mode I’ll ever try. The only hard mode I did quite like was in the Civilisation games – I don’t particularly score well at it (I claim that this is because Civilisation is biased towards world domination and against winning through better SCIENCE!) but I like that picking a harder mode unlocks extra options and complexity for the player,

So if harder modes offer a richer game, or at least a slightly different one, then I’m personally more likely to try them.

So what is a hard mode, really?

Usually it means a tweak to internal parameters so that the game becomes more testing of whatever twitch-fest they’re focussing on. More enemies. Faster enemies. Tougher enemies. Sometimes they make your character weaker – less survival options. Or add more environmental variables.

It should lead to a more exciting game experience when you can’t just idly wander through the fields of mobs randomly letting off your AE nuke of choice without any fear for your toon’s safety. Or in fact without having to really think while playing the game.

If you look at a game like Plants vs Zombies, you can see how instead of setting a difficulty at the start, they increase difficulty with each level. This is the other way to set difficulties and it’s the one I prefer. Let the player start with the easiest mode, and then add more elements, tweak settings slightly for the next level, increase complexity slightly. And keep going until players either finish the game or find the difficulty level they’re comfortable with – hopefully by the time they reach either of these points they feel they have had their money’s worth and are ready to buy your next game.

But that’s not so great for a multi-player setting where players may be of different skills, experiences with this type of game, or even seeking different goals. The player looking for a relaxing casual social experience probably doesn’t want to play ultra-hard mode, and it isn’t because they’re some kind of slacker. It’s just because they aren’t looking for a testing experience. Hard isn’t always the same as fun.

All you can do with groups is to offer the different difficulties and let players decide among their own groups how they want to organise themselves and make that decision. You probably don’t want to force them all to start at the easiest level and gradually pick up more and more difficulty because they may not all be at the same level to start with.

In practice, MMOs tend to have their easy modes at level 1. And as you level up, gain more abilities, and probably try out the group content, then things get harder. A game like WoW introduces a lot of the elements you’ll later find in raids in their 5-man instances. This is why it matters if 5-mans are too easy, if they are, people won’t learn the things they need to learn. And MMOs have not been good traditionally at ramping up the solo difficulty, which is another valid criticism. It has tended to be groups only.

Designing the Hard Mode Encounter

In a Diablo/CoH style hard mode encounter they generally just increase the numbers of mobs, increase their damage, and increase their toughness. And sometimes that’s enough. It certainly can be enough to step up the pace and excitement without requiring people to radically change their playing style.

In a WoW-type hard mode encounter, the encounter is intended to more severely test part of the raid. So you get some hard modes that are just harder dps checks with a little extra survivability movement thrown in. You get some that add a lot of extra complexity – more movement required, more adds to handle, more elements for everyone to think about. You get some where the nature of the encounter changes dramatically.

I’ve heard some complaints with hard modes (and I know I’ve seen few myself – we had a pop  at Freya+1 last night and that was fun), but I figure they can’t all be winners. As long as most encounters are more fun and challenging for the hardcore raid groups in hard mode then the hard modes are doing their job and entertaining people.

So what is the best way to have difficulty settings for soloers?

One of my guildies hooked me on Hattrick a few months ago. It’s a web-based football manager game, and not one of those games that will take over your life. Once it’s all set up you can log in once or twice a week to set your team formations for next week’s games and check how things have been going.

(It is amusing to me that I’m not big on football but I love football manager games.)

And there’s one game element in Hattrick that I think is very smart indeed. Alongside your regular team, you can also coach youth players. This means that you will sometimes be able to promote a good youth player to your A-team and it will be much much cheaper than buying a player via the transfer market, also there’s a chance that you’ll raise a brilliant player who is much better than anyone you could have afforded to buy.

The game offers two different ways of managing the youth team. There’s the hands-off method where you just pay a certain amount per week towards upkeep of the youth team. Once you have set that up, it happens passively and you get the chance to promote a youth player once a week. Most of the players you get this way are pretty poor, but there’s always that chance that you could find a winner. (I think my current goalie was a youth promotion I got from using this method.)

Then there’s the more complex hands-on method where you can actually choose to run your own youth academy. If you do this, then you get to send scouts out to find new youth players, set up games for your youth team the same way you do for your main team, decide how you want to train them and listen to the trainers reports on how they are doing. And you decide when or if you want to promote a player to the main team or if you’d rather keep training them with the youth for longer (the youth academy generally has better training options).

So effectively, this game  has a solo ‘hard mode’. If you want the extra complexity, you can choose that. And it gives you much more control over the outcome of the youth team. If you don’t want to be bothered, then you pick the easier setup and although you won’t get as consistent results, you still are in with a chance of promoting a really good player.

I could imagine something like this for crafting in MMOs. People who hate crafting can just not do it. People who like to craft as a casual side-game could pick some non-complex crafting mechanism where you just hit a single button, and there’s more randomness involved in what you get. And people who love crafting and want to spend the extra time on it could pick a more complex crafting mechanic. It would take longer and require more thought but would give them more control over the whole process.

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…