Council down, and only a week after our first Horridown. Let’s get some detail up in here.
Part 1: in which we present the team
From left to right, we have:
- Ellaelyra, apparently having bounced away from her elemental
- Sidhe, hers behaving for once
- Esirpus, just glad he no longer has to watch energy meters
- Giac, wearing half a transmog, which is just weak
- Idie, eyeing the stairs with trepidation
- Raijin, who seems quite happy with the thunderforged fist that dropped
- Yours truly, reconsidering that tabard for ranged shots
- Madrox, not to be confused with his former death knight incarnation, despite both being tanks
- Delta, presiding over the traditional “What’d he drop?!” ceremony
- AODPriest, who despite being an Angel Of Death spent the fight healing
That’s two mages, two priests, three paladins and miscellaneous filler. Ideal comp we ain’t, but it works out, probably because of how damn pretty we all are. Well, except Giac.
Part 2: in which we discuss the fight
From the first pull, this fight already felt much better than Horridon. Everything’s up on the table. The issue with add fights is that each add is just another thing that can go wrong in its own special way, and is literally trying to do so at every moment. Horridon feels hopeless because every time you get a handle on one set of issues, a whole new set shows up. We didn’t exactly one-shot the council, but every time we wiped it felt like we were getting closer, like our tactical adjustments were making a difference. Progress felt like progress.
Our first night on the fight was a few pulls after a messy Horridon kill. Last night we approached it with a new tactic: stack ’em all up and cleave them down. If this sounds less than tactical, rest assured that you’re probably entirely correct. Still, it works.
In 10 man, the healing add actually heals for less than its own HP. That makes switching to it and burning it a complete waste of time, and also removes any incentive not to stack all three of the tankable bosses together for cleave damage. Stacking has another advantage if you have a paladin tank: Avenger’s Shield can interrupt Sul and Mar’li in one shot. This significantly reduces damage over the course of the fight.
As the one and only melee, I was assigned to stay on Sul from the beginning and burn/interrupt him until his inevitable messy death. The other DPS also focussed Sul until the empowering add hit a predetermined energy state; 50 for Malakk and Mar’li, 30 for Kazra’jin, since he’s annoying to stay on and using cooldowns is a good way to reflect oneself to death.
The fight effectively has three enrage timers. First there’s the usual one, which is actually pretty generous. Next there’s the empowered energy count per boss, which can be fudged without too much difficulty. And then there’s the one that matters, which is Sul’s turn at being empowered. Make no mistake – allowing him to empower is an enrage. There is nothing in the fight more damaging than Sandstorm, the adds that he summons are tough and will kill people without much effort, the sand-patches that the adds leave behind when they die do a truckload of damage, and to complicate matters, one of the tanks is usually stuck taking a Frigid Assault at the same time the adds show up.
So yeah. The very first attempt where we downed Sul was also our kill. It took a couple of tries to refine, and we did end up with two of the three healers in atonement spec hammering at Sul as well. Once he’s down, though, the rest are just a formality.
Part 3: in which we consider the future
So we’re 3/12 now, and facing off against the might of Tortos, who is most assuredly a goat. As that video points out, melee DPS aren’t great on this fight. We tried one or two pulls just to have a look, and for my paladin the outlook is pretty dismal.
I can’t effectively DPS the turtles, can’t kick, and the only AoE slow that I have is also my primary DPS talent, which doesn’t maintain the snare outside its stationary area of effect. I could maybe go with Burden of Guilt, which I used for a while as a PvP talent. Most of my usual utility is useless here. Perhaps Hand of Sacrifice isn’t, but warriors get the same ability as a talent and we have two other paladins now.
As for specific challenges that we’ve encountered: the turtles spin fast. Despite having two frost mages, we’re still seemingly coming up short on slows. Our ‘lock has no idea what the AoE snare that fatboss mentioned even is. Further, the bats will happily take a tank to the cleaners in the short stun just after Quake Stomp, so we’re going to need an antidote for that. Blinding Light doesn’t appear to work on them at all.
We’ve only had three pulls on the fight, though. We’ll adapt and overcome.
Part 4: in which Leit whines about gear, because he is bad at this game
By halfway through part 3, anyone with a semi-intact cognitive center was probably already going “oh, he’s thinking about changing mains again“. Well, yeah. Altoholic, right here. I hope you’re very pleased by your impressive deductive skills.
Thing is… I finished out t14 without a single normal drop equipped. The couple of drops I did get were tanking gear that no-one else could use. Even LFR refused to give me any slack. Things looked up for a minute on the release of the third segment of LFR ToT, where I suddenly got two whole useful drops in a single week, but before and since it’s been just as barren.
Paladin’s been gearing decently from valour. Started out with a decent nest-egg that’s paid off well, and not having to grind a hundred different reps in order to actually spend my currency means I’m actually motivated to go out and earn it in the first place. Thing is, though, gearing from valour means I only get an upgrade every couple of weeks. Without an edge from raid drops, alts can catch up pretty damn quickly, especially if they’re the tiniest bit luckier than Dry. If the alt in question can bid on gear that isn’t also desirable to other players in the raid, that helps as well.
That last item in particular points to my rogue, who brings decent mobilty, damage equivalent to my better-geared paladin, AoE slows and cast time reduction, a misdirect, good personal survivability and no real raid utility beyond Smokebomb. Unfortunately the rogue’s gearing has sort of fallen by the wayside as I’ve been reconnecting with my warrior, and his only foray into gearing this week resulted in ragequitting after ending up in multiple PoS runs with only Lei Shen up.
Meanwhile, said warrior brings a mean amount of raid utility. The only class that can bring the raid cooldown of Skull Banner, she’s got a raid damage reduction banner as well, an AoE taunt banner if I’m feeling suicidal, excessive amounts of mobility, a raidwide health cooldown, talents for AoE stuns, interrupts, spell reflects, slows and snares, a talented Hand of Sacrifice equivalent, and exceedingly good AoE damage. Where she falls short is in personal survivability and the fact that she’s still rolling on the same plate and strength weapons that everyone else wants. At least she isn’t on the same token as literally 60% of the raid, for one day when that matters.
There are two things that have been keeping me on my pally for the moment: momentum and utility. Now that we’ve got a paladin tank again the second is less important, and I can bring plenty to the table with another class. Dry is still the best geared of my characters, and the one whose ins and out I know best, so he’s still got momentum on his side. But how long before the same frustration as t14 rears its head?