Monday, April 26, 2010

10 vs 25 man raids in Cataclysm

Bleh. My last post about  AVR - which I still think is a game-changer - was overshadowed by the news that Blizzard plans to start having shared lockouts for 10 and 25-man raids, and will try to tune gear and difficulty to be the same for both raid sizes.

WOW... that's big stuff. I'm sure there's already 50 different blogs about this already, but it can't be ignored, and I've been too busy to read what others have said so far. At any rate, here's some of my thoughts on the planned changes.

1. The possibility of having 4 days of main raiding, most likely still 25-man raids, and not feeling 'forced' to do 10-mans in addition to that as I do now. Given that most of my guild does 10-mans on heroic, there is some implication that if I don't also do 10-mans I'm not adequately preparing/gearing. I know, the 'really' hard core guilds will still run multiple full 25-man raids (or 10-mans) so they can prepare for world firsts, but even for a 'normal' guild, it's hard to pass up all those badges, practice, and gear. It might be nice to not feel forced to log on for a full raid nearly every night.
2. 10-man guilds don't have to feel like second class citizens.
3. If you really want to, it will be easier for 'hard core raiders' to feel ok about raiding with their real friends as opposed to what happens in 25-mans (inevitably there are people you don't like but you put up with for the sake of the raid/guild).

1. It's easier to do 10-man raids. They may tune the difficulty, but I suspect most guilds are likely to pick their 10 best raiders and go for progression. Most guilds, even server top-5 guilds (like mine), tend to have at least 4-5 players that just aren't the caliber of their guildies. One could easily sideline them, form the best team or two, and progress more quickly through 10-man content.
2. Either there will be NO advantages to 25-mans (you can get the same stuff in 10-man) OR 25-mans will still be 'better.' Blizz is trying to walk the line on this one, but I don't buy it. They'll put more gear per player in the bigger raids or allow legendaries only in 25-mans, or different colored mounts, or something. Either way, 25-mans will still be superior, or if too similar disincentivized. Which means....
3. This could spell the death of 25-mans. I didn't raid 40-mans, but I know I would lament the loss of the 25 man raids and have always felt like killing a boss with the larger group to be the more exhilerating experience compared to the smaller 10-man raids. I'm pretty sure Blizz still wants us doing 25-mans, so it will be interesting to see how they make them worthwhile without making them the only Big Boy Raid available.
4. Additionally, there's a lot of other logistical problems. The balance issues will be huge. Homogenization could be an issue. If Blizz wants 10-man raiders to feel they're getting all the buffs, then 25-man raids will be subjected to more and more overlapping buffs and less of a feeling of each player bringing something valuable.

All in all, I have mixed feelings about the proposed changes.
Honestly, I hope they can make all this work, but I also hope they don't kill 25-man raiding - I'd still love to feel good about the 'big' raids and have a reason to keep doing them.

As far as the other raiding news, I'm happy with gating as Blizzard said, and I imagine all but the most hard core will be able to accept it. And even then, I think that in having to wait for content the 'hard core' will benefit in not simply finishing the content and then being burned out/bored. Kinda like opening ALL your presents on Christmas morning and then finished 30 minutes later. I always preferred opening a few presents a few days before, then some on Xmas eve, then some in the morning, and finishing a few more later with other friends and family.
I'm also ok with multiple shorter raids, could be cool to have locations with different 'feel,' but I also hope they have at least one 'epic' instance in each expansion. I'd prefer 4-6 boss instances to the single room instances we got in Lich King.

MMO-Champion beat me to it

Wow, things have been really busy around here, so thanks to MMO-Champion for making the post I was going to make.

In any case, MMO-Champion recently highlighted a new Add-on that is the NEXT BIG THING for raiding and guilds.

AVR: Augmented Virtual Reality and AVR Encounters, downloadable from wowace or

It will be much much abused but can be configured to only accept files from the raid leader etc., and individual scenes can be erased fairly easily.

As mentioned over at MMO, the addon can allow you to put many things on your UI that will help with fights. My guild used it for the first time on Saturday's raid and it was amazing. In combination with other addons like DBM and vamp, it allows you to respond very easily to many fights. On Rotface it shows clearly where the ooze explosion will land. On Putricide where malleable ooze is coming. On Saph, we put circles where each frozen person was to stand. With the separate vamp addon, it will put an arrow on your screen pointing which way to run to the bitee a la quest arrows from questhelper (yay no more missed bites). AMAZING. In my experience, it used very little memory and should be easily implemented without excessive lag even by those with weaker computers. As MMO-champ mentions, the addon uses the Blizz standard API so it's not bannable, but it makes things so easy I can see Blizz trying to disable it in some way.

Of course, giving raid directions is not the only use for this addon.

One of my guildies put a very large phallus on the floor as we were zoning in to ICC, and a female character with girl parts exposed saying 'click my portal' on the portal. Unfortunately, my 10-year old saw it before I was able to figure out how to configure the addon to only allow files from the raid leader. Naturally, such shenanigans can add hilarity to any raid, but just be careful!

All in all, though, it will become part of the sacred canon of raid addons along with DBM, Omen, and Recount! Good stuff!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Sometimes, Elitist Jerks are Wrong!!! (*Shock*)

Or: Haste Is Actually Pretty Good Right Now.

Most of you know how often I reference Elitist Jerks. There's tons of valuable information there for every class and it's the first, middle, and last (with maybe a few peeks elsewhere) site I go to for information about min/maxing my role/class play. The thread 'managers' such as Consider generally do a fantastic job keeping the original post updated with the 'state of the union' information so you can just look at that post for a jumping off point for DK info.

However, EJ can be wrong, and Consider's unholy thread - the 'CANON' of accepted unholy dps - was wrong recently.

First, a brief story.

During Tier 9 (I know, hard to remember that far back), Scourge Strike was not that strong, even if it was our main ability (that was before the physical and shadow portions were split off). Other than that, unholy was as it had been for some time - good, but slightly behind blood for single target dps while being supreme on aoe fights. The accepted spec was something like 14/0/57 or 17/0/54. I ran the canonized spec and rotations (including the delicious glyph of disease) for quite some time, when on a lark I equipped two one-handed weapons. I didn't change my spec. I just used one-handers. I did more dps on dummies - about 300-400 more. Hmmm. I tried it on boss fights in TOC, again, not changing anything except one vs two weapons. Dual-wielding was 400-500 dps better. I very slightly modified my spec (dropping the two-handed blood talent), and away I went with DW. I did fantastic dps, blowing away everyone in the three guilds I spent time in during that period (yes, that was while I was trying to find a new guild). Elitist Jerks 'experts' never caught on to that trend. I didn't care - I found it to be better, so I used it. Then when ICC opened, Blizz 'fixed' Scourge Strike to be more powerful - favoring the big 2-hander, and they gave us more armor penetration on gear, improving physical strikes even more. I went back to the 'traditional' 2H weapons. But the moral of this story is, EJ can be wrong.

Back to the present.

Kudos to Dreddnaught from my guild in identifying the current problem early. He'd been /whispering me for several weeks about how he felt haste was much better than the theorycrafters were saying. He had been testing it via simulations and looking at different gear, and found that haste was much more valuable for frost and unholy/frost subspec than was being said at EJ. He even made several posts about it over at wow official forums.

Turns out, he was right. Recently, Consider's front page post alludes to stat changes that may affect gear and perhaps even gemming choices. For frost subpec, haste is actually better than armor penetration, especially as gear improves. He now has stat weights seperated for blood subspec and for frost subspec.

This isn't as aggregious an error as some might think. First, to err is human (cut us all some slack eh? :)). Second, going against armor penetration in favor of haste goes against accepted thinking about DKs since their inception. Haste has been a poor stat in part because big two-handed swings don't proportionally get a lot out of speeding up a bit, and haste hasn't affected all that many of our abilities. But with the changes to Icy Talons and with gear scaling in general, haste IS in fact a very strong stat for DKs that take it.

We DKs have loved to talk about armor penetration scaling - which is indeed very good - but we have forgotten how impressively haste can scale as well. Haste ultimately scales better than just about anything because of the way it stacks. Even with arpen, there is a limit - you can cap it in great gear. With haste, talents and buffs stack multiplicatively, and there's almost always more you can keep adding for more improvement. While casters may talk about haste capping (getting spells below the gcd in cast time), for melee that doesn't apply. So, ultimately we shouldn't have been too surprised when it turned out to be so good. I for one am happy about it. It gives us three really nice stats (strength of course, and arpen is still very solid), and options for using both 2H and DW weapons. Still, what will it change? Answer: very little. Herkumi's War Token from emblems becomes a very good trinket. A few items with haste on them are more attractive. Should you gem haste? NO. Strength is still better, and will be from now until Cataclysm.

Conclusion: EJ CAN be wrong, but fortunately they eventually seem to get most things right. Sometimes you have to do what works best for you rather than go with the cookie-cutter info, but it's a very good place to start.

p.s., I'm still thinking about trying frost DW dps, but haven't had the opportunity. One reason is we're doing mostly heroic content and any one-handers that drop go to rogues/enh first so I still only have crappy one-handers. Second, dps is demonstrably NOT better for frost. World of logs parses has them 500-1000 dps less than unholy on many (but not all) fights. That's no excuse to not try it, so I expect I eventually I will do it, but I'm not eager. Maybe next week.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Putting together a raid

Ah, the luxury of being in an established group! Raid invites start 15 minutes before 'first pull,' you joke around in /raid and vent, slot people into groups, and at least 12/27 people are in raid when raid time starts. You've done this before, you know your role. The Raid Leader calls a few instructions out on vent. As soon as everybody zones in, buffs go out and everyone is ready (and does so quickly after every wipe as well). Your group efficiently plows through the first bosses of ICC until reaching your current progression boss. Even there the process is effective: you review strats (that everybody has already watched on tankspot or youtube), get set up, and make your first pulls. From there, you make progress on most attempts, until the new boss bows to your combined might!

Too good to be true?

Well, a solid raid group may not be quite this idyllic, but in general, raids can be well-organized (and have been often enough in my experience) and be a pleasure to work with.

Flash to the Present.
I'm in the middle of putting together a 10-man group that is starting 'from the ground up' since we decided to move to a new night, dropping our main raiders' alts and allowing two nights to work on progression into heroic ICC10 (hereafter HICC10). This first week, we had no tank show up (and when he did, he went into a different groups' 10-man on his hunter), a healer's comp had blown up, and several dps that had indicated interest were missing. We had to pug a tank, a healer, and a dps, and have two players bring alts. I ended up tanking most of the night, switching to healing on my alt when the guild tank finally switched over. DPS was low, heals were spotty, and the tanks didn't know much beyond Saurfang (including myself with limited tank experience in ICC). We made some ill-fated attempts on heroic Marrowgar, and finally gave up on heroic modes except for gunship which only required two attempts (sad, I know, but those axe throwers DO hit hard if you let them enrage). We struggled to get to Putricide.
The second night was even worse. We had to re-pug another healer and dps (although the pug tank came back for a second night and performed competently), and 9-manned a number of attempts but never got Putri down.

I KNOW my group can get there - most of us (although a few Kingslayers were no-shows) have Lich King kills on 25- and 10- man ICC. My guild already has two 10-man groups deep into HICC10. So, how does it work?

Some of you may be familiar with Tuckman's influential work on group development. He's known for a 5-stage model that describes how groups come together and eventually are able to work on shared goals. Let's take a look.

Wikipedia has a nice concise article summarizing these stages as well, so I won't try to re-invent the wheel, but obviously in stage 1 the group comes together. The group forms around a common goal, but not much is known about each other, or how each will fit into the the team.
Despite the fact that the core of my HICC10 group are raiders I do 25-man with, there are members who are non-raiders or are non-guildies, or doing a slightly different role (I dps in 25-man, and little else. For our HICC10, I'm RL and organizing). We started Forming when discussing the need for two nights to work on progression, and different guildies posted their interest in the guild forums or via vent or /w.

Storming involves resolving conflicts in goals, how the group will proceed, and philosophy. It also means dealing with interpersonal difficulties that are likely to crop up between group members, early on. While some storming type behavior can occur throughout the life of the group, it's likely to occur most often shortly after forming.
A rather stressful and unsuccessful first week leaves our HICC10 still doing some Forming, but also Storming to resolve where we're at and how we're going to make the group work. I may need to replace the tank who said he'd be there, but essentially wasn't. In addition, the group's previous de factor RL didn't show at all, essentially abdicating the group's leadership to myself and another group member who is stepping in to help out. Decisions will have to be made as to how many chances guildie group members will get to drop in and out of group vs finding reliable non-guildies. Other decisions will include how many wipes to allow on heroic mode before switching to normal. Loot is a small issue in that it won't use dkp or epgp and master looter will only be used if group members appear to abuse need (unlikely). Still, this stage is uncomfortable, and I don't like being in it. :)

If the group makes it through the first two stages, some cohesiveness and positivity start to develop. Getting the same full group for two nights in a row, starting to kill bosses quickly and efficiently, working on a 'new' (hard mode) boss fight. The first 'real' heroic boss kill, and the norming stage arrives. There is a tendency for the group to enforce group expectations, like showing up on time, and who talks on vent, and how people are expected to bid on loot. If the Raid Leader tends to dissallow contributions or everyone is too passive, creativity may be stifled in this stage, leading to stagnation and undercurrents of dissatisfaction. My group's clearly not there yet - though I hope we will be soon.

The guild raids described at the top of this post illustrate a performing group, and they are a pleasure to be in! Yes, the group leaders are still 'in charge,' but their need to speak up or direct actions is minimal, and the group knows how they fit together and where they are going. They know their roles, and they know when/where their teammates will be.
A great example is doing TOGC Faction Champions. We get there, and we pretty much know who is charging in. The warlocks decide among themselves who is banishing the tree, the pally kicker already knows their job, healers set up fear wards/totems/etc, and not much needs to be said before the pull, but every Champion is controlled/interrupted/kited, and down they go shortly after.
This is, of course, the goal of any group. Good leadership is essential, but every member is valuable and plays an important role. I certainly hope to arrive there in the next few weeks as we solidify who's in it for the long haul and who is willing and capable to contribute to the group's success.

Tuckman later added a fifth stage to indicate the ending of the group. This may happen when all the goals are accomplished, or when members have to leave for one reason or another. When this happens there is likely to be a sense of loss and sadness.
In guilds this may happen when the leadership moves on and the group decides to dissolve instead of continue. Given the nature of guilds, most solid groups can absorb the loss of almost any raider but needs to be constantly aware of recruitment needs and be ready to find new members to fill any voids that are created. One never wants a good thing to end, but eventually, everything does.

Well, I hope you enjoyed the post as I reflect on my own incipient group's process, and I'll occasionally post our progress as we form/storm/norm/perform!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Frost Delayed

I still plan to do a post on Frost dps for 3.3.3, but I'll have to wait a week to do it.

My raid is progressing into some of the more difficult heroic 25man bosses and needs me performing at my best, and we already have a frost DK for the buffs. On 10-man, I'm having to tank for now - although after reset I may be able to go back to dps. When that group has settled in a little more, I may be able to go frost for more than 5-man heroics.

Comments on this blog and elsewhere have certainly been positive, and my guildies going frost have done well. I've seen claims that it may beat out unholy for dps but I haven't seen that quite yet, while it's apparent that it is competitive.

I look forward to giving frost dps a try, it'll just have to wait a week.

Also, thanks for the comments on the Cataclysm preview. I'll try to remember to address them this evening. I was out of town over the weekend.

Friday, April 9, 2010

DKs in Cataclysm; First Look

The inevitable post about the first glimpses of DKs in Cata is here. :)


I could leave it at that, but ok ok, let's rant discuss a little more, and damn those rogues for all the cool new shinies they'll be getting.
To see exactly what I'm referencing, you can read the posts about the changes at

First, the tank change.
I had a long discussion with a friend who really was disappointed with this decision. He really liked being able to tank in all three specs. I think Blizzard worked very hard and made tanks of all three flavors 'viable.' However, it became clear that of course DK theorycrafters would try to find the 'best' tank spec and unholy was not it. Blizz still managed to keep blood and frost somewhat decent, but overall, it was indeed annoying to be selecting a tank spec, working your way down to that juicy talent deep in a tree, and have to spend most of your points on dps abilities. And of course vice versa (speccing dps meant avoiding those 'useless' tanking talents in every tree). So all in all I'm in favor of the change. Blood does indeed have the most unique feel for tanking. If it's not going to be a shield based tank (and I really realllllllly hope they don't create a 'prot' DK talent permitting shields), then self-heals is a pretty cool mechanic. They can really devote the tree to providing some cool tanking talents, and maybe even a couple of different tanking approaches within the tree. Putting more tanking abilities in the tree may also mean that several of them get weaker, since having too many of them available would be overpowered.

Vengeance could be a decent way to handle increasing threat generation for tanks, compared to some of the clunky mechanics we have now.

Ok, what about the other changes?

Rune system changes: meh. I guess we'll have to wait and see. Yes, we have tended to be fairly gcd-bound, pressing keys constantly, so if this change allows us to function with similar mechanics yet be more 'choosy' about the when and where of using abilities, it could be a good thing. I'll reserve judgement.

Outbreak: I like it, but I don't think it offers much. It's kind of a glyph of disease but for openers. I guess it will be nice to be able to apply diseases a little quicker.

Necrotic Strike: Bleh. How is this different from Death Strike again? It's a hot instead of instant heal? I dunno, sounds really boring, and redundant.

Dark Simulacrum: half a thumb up? Could be kind of fun, depending on how it works. It's not clear from the description if the target has to be targetting you, or if the attack is wasted if the incoming spell isn't 'reflectable.' It does just sound like a weak spell reflection (since it doesn't cancel the incoming spell).

I do like change to passive bonuses in trees in general: speccing the majority of our points in a tree get us that 'tree buff,' so unholy and frost dks get damage buffs (this isn't new, but still worth mentioning). It rewards you for committing to the tree that suits your style the most.

It will be interesting to see what they do with presences.

All in all, though, most of this doesn't do much to excite me. I'm hopeful they come up with better as we prepare for the journey to level 85 and beyond.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Blood dps spec for 3.3.3

Alas, Blood, we hardly knew thee!!!
My blood experiment has ended after two days and more than 5k gold (gemming str>arpen, then back to str, reglyphing, respeccing). I was able to get over 1200 armor penetration, and while my expertise wasn't capped, I feel my stats were sufficient to give blood a fair go.

I spent two days in heroic ICC25 as blood, and unfortunately, the end result was pretty much as expected. As my DK counterpart (unholy mainspec, frost dps off) said, "I could have told you all that without regemming."

I still wanted to give blood a try in a live raid situation out of personal curiosity, and of course because I wanted to be able to provide a somewhat informed opinion about it on this blog.

End result? Again, no surprise. Blood IS able to do competitive dps on tank and spank fights like Saurfang and Festergut. I actually had a parse of almost 12k on a fairly long (5 minute) heroic Saurfang attempt. That's better than anything I've posted on that fight as unholy. But for everything else, blood is significantly inferior. For aoe fights - inferior. For movement fights - inferior. For trash (and yes that matters) - horrible. I'll post the humiliating screenshots below, but let's look at why this is the case.

I used the standard 51/0/20 blood dps spec, with glyph of disease. It's a fun rotation, quite tight in terms of global cooldowns. I did notice a fair amount of wasted runic power from needing to keep up my regular rotation and not being able to dump more than 2-3 death coils per rotation. Heart Strike hits very very hard - I saw a lot of 16k crits. For a single rune attack, and one that can provide some aoe, that's pretty strong. Other than that, though, the cupboard is pretty bare. With less than 10% of damage from each of my third and fourth attacks (behind melee and heart strike), Death Strike and Death Coil are decent, but not enough. Diseases are very weak, there are no other big specials, and so one is reliant entirely on being able to do physical damage, on target, and having huge heart strikes. It is also extremely susceptible to interruption. Since a great deal of damage comes from using dancing rune weapon on cooldown (to allow one to use it every hysteria and once in between), it really hurts when, for example, rotface picks you to get mutated infection right after you pop drw. Ouch. HUGE dps loss. And of course, because you most likely have to gem all or almost all armor pen, your attack power will suffer, so your weak aoe (no wandering plague, extra diseases, etc) is stunted even more. I realize that my short time as blood means I wasn't as proficient with it as unholy, but I've played it a number of times before, and I was able to find a comfort zone with the rotation, cooldowns, etc. I feel I gave it a reasonable shot of success, but sadly, blood just doesn't have the juice.

Once again, blood is fun in terms of playstyle. There was a time when it was competitive. It can still do well on certain boss fights. But because it's weak in so many situations, and requires regemming and not just hitting a button to spec out of, it's just not viable for most players. For a few guilds, the buffs from abomination's might might be necessary if not otherwise available, but for everyone else, I wouldn't recommend it. :(

Of course, the real nail in the coffin is the announcement yesterday that blood will be the tanking tree, so to some extent all of the above is somewhat moot.

Well, here are the sad but true screenshots from my short days as blood:

Overall from day 2 prior to speccing back to unholy

damage sources for blood 3.3.3

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Lich King: a DPS DK Perspective

THIS IS IT! The fight we waited all expansion for! The chance to defeat the Lich King is here!
I've commented previously that it is a wonderful fight and that Blizzard did a great job of designing the encounter. Most fights are either 1) dps tanknspanks, 2) survival, or 3) gimmicks. In Icecrown, the only other fight that combines several of these elements is Putricide. On Lich King, you'll have to maintain steady dps on the boss, while bursting adds down, surviving several different potential raid-killers, and coordinate target-switching and slowing abilities.

Lich King is the FINAL boss in Icecrown Citadel, the ultimate challenge remaining in normal and heroic modes (no secret boss here). YOU are NOT prepared!

Pull/Phase One (necrotic plague): DO NOT summon your army in this fight. There are too many adds that can be taunted by them. Go ahead with the rest of your dps cooldowns, including DRW/Gargoyle/ghoul. You'll be behind Lich King, but be sure you know where the Shambling Horrors are being tanked so you can run to them asap if you get necrotic plague. As unholy DK, I pestilence to keep Ebon Plaguebringer up so all the adds take more damage from plague etc, but otherwise we ONLY dps Lich King in P1. There's no need to dps adds, they'll die from necrotic plague. You'll want to max dps just to keep the fight shorter, but also time it so you don't get a third Horror. 

P2 transition (Raging Spirits): Know when it's coming so you can immediately run to the edge. You don't want to burden healers while taking too much damage from Remorseless Winter. That, combined with an unfortunately timed infest and/or pain and suffering, can kill you if you're not careful. I usually take the opportunity while running to refresh bone shield and I anti-magic shield to ensure my health stays high. In addition, if you have a ghoul up, call him with you to the edge, or he'll eventually die. You can put him on passive to call him, then tell him to attack the Raging Spirit. If you merely put him on defensive, he'll run back to Lich King so be careful to keep him on Raging Spirits. You'll need the dps on the adds, and you want your ghoul to survive. Pump the dps on the Raging Spirits, you'll want at least 2/3 (on 25-man) down before the transition is over.

P2: Carefully run back in for Phase 2, keeping dps on any remaining spirits. Pestilence to get diseases back on Lich King. Pestilence again the moment Valkyr are targetable. Some DKs Death & Decay here, but I prefer to save my runes for pestilence, slowing, and dps on my designated Valkyr. Groups do this one of two ways; having 'teams' assigned to specific Valkyr, or having a priority - killing them in order. We found better success with the latter. In any case, maximize burst dps on your Valkyr to get it down quickly, but be prepared to move out of the way of Defile. A Defile dropped in the path of Valkyr is an almost guaranteed wipe. Also be prepared to use your chains of ice as needed to slow Valkyr. Death Grip does not work on them. I use my gargoyle again (or other cooldown) when the first Valkyr appear because you want to ensure they all die, along with remaining Raging Spirits.

P3 transition can be scary, but if you've learned P2 transition, you can do it! We pop Heroism/Bloodlust here to try to get the Raging Spirits down; probably gargoyle/drw/ghoul will be up again at this point. Also use your haste pot here. Since there are more Spirits, pay attention to the kill target and burst it down, switching crisply from target to target. You may well have two Spirits up when the transition is over, be careful to stay out of their way, and kill them when you can (but don't miss defiles, etc).

P3 (Vile Spirits): Run back in, but don't get greedy! You can still wipe with defiles or vile spirits (thankfully, no infest)! Your ranged can kill Viles, but as melee, just stay away! You shouldn't have to worry about the enrage at this point (at least on normal), so don't try to run to the tank too soon, and stay away from others so you don't blow each other up. In between, dps LK as you can. Something I missed originally: when you get Harvest Soul on you, if you are properly healed, you'll survive (yaay!), but be sucked into Frostmourne. Inside, (as a DK) you'll have to dps the add, and interrupt the long cast of Soul Rip - which will kill Terenas if you don't. You have 60 seconds to kill the add and escape. Once it's dead, you'll pop back out and rejoin the raid. 

P4: as you know, get him to 10% and you win! This is a time for screaming and cheering while you watch the events and/or cutscene. DO NOT RELEASE! You'll be rezzed at the end and get to kill him for free from that point.

To sum up: DPS the boss only in P1. In other phases, dps the adds in the correct order as quickly as possible, then dps the Lich King. Stay away from the many things that will kill you. Spread diseases. My dps on this fight is poor compared to others, but all that matters is surviving and controlling adds!

Congratulations, you've just completed Icecrown Citadel!
These 'guides' to dps DKs have been on normal - as nuances crop up and I find ways to deal with them, I'll try to post on heroic modes as well...
Good luck to all in Icecrown!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Heroic ICC: Week One

Thursday's raid (as you know) culminated in a rather joyous celebration of my guild's first 25-man kill. Suh-weeeet!!!

My ten-man run has also made some changes. I had discussed with the other 'leaders' of my Friday night ICC10 regarding our lack of ability to clear the whole instance and still have time remaining to kill Arthas. We'd also been plagued by inconsistent attendance, leading to weekly pugging and raid starts at 10pm. Thus, we made the decision to move to Sun/Monday nights, parallel to our other two guild 10-man groups. This also meant that three of our group members would be unable to attend, since they had mains/alts in those other groups. A difficult decision, but we went with it, and saw a lot of interest in the two day run. This Friday we decided on a last hurrah, and decided to extend the lockout, giving us a full night to work on Arthas. Once again we didn't start until 10pm due to difficulty in filling the group. We had several alts, plus a few newer guildies who'd never seen the fight before. We re-learned it together and killed Arthas for the first time on 10-man, 24 hours after our 25-man kill! Very nice. Now, both my 10- and 25-man raids will be in heroic ICC. OOOh, can't wait.

In any case, this week I'll be raiding as blood. I bit the bullet and installed armor pen gems in every slot that had previously held strength. About 2400g later, I'm ready to go. I might have to tweak things just a little more to hit the armor pen cap, but I should be ready for raids tomorrow. Blood spec clearly will lose out on overall damage meters, as the aoe from blood on trash can't compete with unholy or frost, but I do want to see how it does on boss fights. The biggest problem with blood is that I can't just switch to unholy for trash as my gem slots are all arpen - unless I get a complete armor set for strength and one for arpen - but that's not happening soon as I'm still working on tank gear.

So, hopefully by the end of the week we'll have installment #2 of dps DKs in 3.3.3! Let There Be Blood!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Long time Comin!!!

It's been a Long Time Comin, but we finally pulled our execution of Phase 1, P2 transition, P2, P3 transition, and then P3+bonus..... and Lich King was defeated!!!

Our official guild killshot can be found here.

I certainly have some mixed feelings about the kill.
It feels great to have the Lich King down on the challenging 25-man version.
The yells of excitement and sighs of relief are what is best about 'big time' raiding. :)
However, it took a 10% buff and four weeks of wipes to do it, a few days after the top guild killed Arthas on the much more challenging heroic version. I have to admit I was a little disappointed that every fight for weeks featured breakdowns on fight mechanics that we knew all about.
On the other hand, I'm glad the fight was no pushover. It's sufficiently complex and requires tight execution, not just dps burn or funky fight mechanics. Blizzard did well in my opinion, and eventually, so did Insomnia.
Well, we're no world-beaters, but we do have a pretty solid group. I like our raid times, I like the people. We're not perfect, but we're solid raiders who enjoy working together.

On to Heroic!
And early next week I'll have a dps DK 'guide' on the Lich King up for those who are interested.
Enjoy your Easter/Passover weekend!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

On Trash

Position 1: Trash doesn't matter! Only boss dps/kills matter!

Position 2: Boss kills = progression. Time spent on trash = less time on progression.

Needless to say, while I hear position 1 frequently, I'm in the position 2 camp.

I'm not recommending gearing/glyphing/spec for aoe/trash (unless you want to use your second spec for it), but I get sick of people losing focus and/or not bringing their 'A' game to trash. My raid has wiped three times in the past two weeks on trash, which is really inexcusable, and a huge waste of time. Wiping aside, killing trash quickly and efficiently has significant benefits for the raid.

So, to that end, I'd like to remind all of us to maintain focus and not be semi-afk during trash. Do your best! And use your cooldowns. That DRW/gargoyle/ghoul will be up when you pull the boss, don't worry. Pull out the stops and perform your very best, during trash AND boss fights alike!