Tuesday, May 12, 2009

No Mana For You! One Fight!

Monday night we were going for progression on General Vezax.

We decided to change our matrix to 1 tank, 3 healers and 6 DPS. We had our Death Knight tanking General Vezax which meant I was laying wood as Retribution.

Why have the Death Knight tank? Well one of General’s big moves is called Surge of Darkness. It basically doubles the damage the General does with all attacks. It’s on a 1 minute cooldown. IceBound Fortitude is also on a one minute cooldown. If you are like me and fairly clueless about Death Knight mechanics let me tell you what that does.

Icebound Fortitude reduces all damage taken by 20% plus additional damage reduction based on Defense for 12 sec. With 540 Defense, it’s about 35% reduction. (Source)

That meant that every time Vezax got all high on Black Blood (gained Surge of Darkness), our Death Knight could pop Icebound Fortitude.

Plus we had the added advantage of his threat resource not being mana. After researching on the Maintankadin boards, it seemed that even with 2/2 Spiritual Attunement, an avoidance streak could run you dry in a real hurry.

I heard it said once that many DKs are pretty bad, but if you find a skilled one, they can be downright scary good. My guild has a very skilled Death Knight.

Neither my Death Knight, nor myself really care which one of us tanks. Neither one of us is looking for glory, and neither one needs to prove anything. We are both respected by the raid team. But when the mechanics of a fight lend themselves better to one of us than the other, it would be kind of silly to not use that tank.

So after the trash, I popped into my Ret spec/Ret gear and got ready. This was going to be anything but a stand there and DPS it fight.

My Death Knight had taken the talent to remove the Runic Power cost of his interrupt (Mind Freeze) and we had added a Feral Druid who could also interrupt. General V casts a spell called Searing Flames. It has to be interrupted. You might be able to survive one getting off, but it’s going to make your healers (already strained for mana) have to work that much harder.

My Hammer of Justice was a 40 second cooldown, but I tried to interrupt whenever it was off cooldown anyway. Mind Freeze could and did miss on occasion, and the Feral needed a combo point up in order to be able to cast his.

We were also having a small problem with some of the Saronite Vapors bugging out. These Vapors have to be killed and when killed they leave a small green pool on the ground. Standing in the vapors trades health for mana. You basically life tap. This is basically the only way for casters to get mana back during the fight. There are only a couple of things that work: Shamanistic Rage, Lifebloom bloom, Spiritual Attunmenet and Judgment of the Wise, and these only work partially. Normal mana regeneration and MP5 doesn’t work. Judgment of the Wise was working perfectly. I could run my entire rotation including an occasional Consecrate and not be starved for mana. In fact, I was nearly always over 75% mana.

A couple of times, we would kill the cloud and our healers would happily jump in for some delicious mana, only to find the cloud not giving them mana back, but still taking life. It was like paying for lunch and not getting a sandwich. Nothing like making a tough fight just a little bit tougher.

Since my DPS was the lowest, it was on me to blow up the Saronite vapors.

In addition to throwing my interrupt, and killing Vapors, I was watching for someone to Salv.

Caster threat can be a big issue in this fight. General V casts Shadow Crash which does a small AoE where it hits. It leaves behind a black patch on the ground. Standing there increases damage dealt by 100% (so basically double damage) and makes all your spells cost 75% of their normal cost, however it also reduces healing done by 75% so healers stay away!

It was either the Mage or Elemental Shaman who were sneaking above the Tank on threat. The Mage could cast invisibility but the Shaman didn’t have a ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card. Enter my Hand of Salvation.

Each attempt we were getting better. We had an 80% attempt, then into the 60% range, and then a sub 50%. It was coming along. As our Disc Priest said, we were getting the rhythm of the fight.

Our next attempt was going well until our Resto Druid got nailed by a Shadow Crash just after leaving a Saronite Cloud. Dead Tree.

Our Feral rebirthed him, but as soon as he was up he got Shadow Crashed again. Double death on one attempt, gotta love it.

So now we are down a healer with Vezzy at about 60%. The next time Vezax gained Surge of Darkness (double damage to the tank) I stopped DPSing and started cancel casting. This was something I learned back at level 60 when Honors was Holy. Cancelcasting means you queue up your big Heal (Holy Light) and watch the tanks health. If it doesn’t drop (he dodged, or parried) you hit escape or jump and your spell doesn’t cast. If his health does drop you let the spell finish. Thanks to Sheath of Light, if I crit, it would leave a HoT on our Death Knight. A couple of Holy Lights would really tax my mana pool but after Surge of Darkness I’d go back to DPS and a couple of Judgements later my mana bar was filling up.

We pushed him under 30%. That meant that no more Saronite Vapors would form. We were on our own from that point on. We pushed him under 20% and all those lovely specials like Kill Shot opened up.

At 15% our Disc Priest announced he was dry. Our Raid Leader said, and I quote “throw the kitchen sink at him!”

To most people, that would mean DPS like you never have before. But to the Feral Druid and myself, it meant throw every heal we had at the Death Knight.

Our Death Knight still had all his cooldowns available, and had figured he’d be killed with Vezzy at 5% after he blew them all. I still had Lay On Hands and Divine Sacrifice for him, too.

He was thinking, hoping really, that we might be spread out enough to ‘DoT and run’ and get the kill. But with myself and the Feral (who had a full mana bar from being in Cat Form) helping out our Holy Priest, we kept him up. As the last few percentage points started to come off, we all started to realize we were going to do it.

As Vezax fell, cheers filled vent. We had done it! According to WoWProgress, Heroes Inc is the first Alliance guild to kill General Vezax on 10 man, and the 4th guild overall. No one Alliance side has killed him on 25 mans. We had done it, a server first!

The drops were some cloth shoulders and some BoE leather spell power bracers.

According to the WWS, I only did 1900 DPS, but I also did almost 12% of the total healing on the fight. I even outhealed the Resto Druid, who was, in his defense, rather dead.

I may not have been the ‘main tank’ on the fight, but without a doubt, I helped us get the kill by playing my Paladin to the utmost of my pixilated limitations.
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