Tuesday, June 2, 2009

One Phase At A Time

Monday night, you log in and zone into your raid zone of choice and you see the little message telling you that you have precious few hours before all your work is forgotten and the raid instance will reset.

Thursday, we had cleared through the Keepers and General Vezax, and we were once again facing the Old god of Death, Yogg Saron.

I had read that you learn this fight one Phase at a time and I can certainly agree with that sentiment. We still had some minor issues in Phase 1, but for the most part, we got through Phase 1 relatively clean. Apparently, the Green Clouds had less candy in them last night than our previous attempts.

We had a new DPS this time, Magnusson, our Holy turned Retribution Paladin, who had not done Phase 2 before. To be honest, I think we had pushed Yogg to Phase 2 maybe a half dozen times previously, so it was still pretty new for all of us.

There is so much going on Phase 2, its just nuts. For those of you who might not have seen the fight yet, what happens is that Yogg himself shows up after you smacked down the Guardians in Phase 1. But oh you clever little Old god, you’ve encased yourself in a protective bubble. Paladin envy, I say, Paladin envy.

All around the room are tentacles. They come in 3 flavors: The Constrictor, the Corrupter, and the Crusher.

Once you get into Phase 2, your first job is just going to be familiarizing yourself with what the various tentacles look like. Just like in Phase 1, your group needs to move together, and burn down the various tentacles. Of course, this is not as easy as it sounds.

The Corrupters are debuffing your team with every manner of curse, disease, magic, and poison you can imagine. There are a couple of particularly bad ones. One, which I believe is a disease, makes you stop every few seconds and yack. Besides being really unpleasant to watch, it can make it hard to get from Point A to Point B, and getting to where you need to be quickly is crucial in this phase. The other, which I believe is a poison, is essentially the same thing as a Hunter’s Viper Sting. Bu-Bye Mana. Divine Plea was on cooldown…a lot. So while the Corruptors are dotting you up, the Constrictors are grabbing someone and squeezing the life from them. You have to DPS it down to free them, or they will die.

The Crushers are casting Diminish Power which basically reduces the damage your team does whenever the Crusher is channeling it. You have to get some one, preferable a tank, to whack it, to stop its channeling. The Crusher hits hard while it’s not charging up the spell, so you have to joust. What I mean is, you have to run in, whack the durn thing, and run out.

But wait, there’s more! From time to time, you get brain linked with someone else, and the further you get away from them the more damage you do to each other. It can be lethal, as a couple of our team members were so kind to demonstrate for us.

As is that wasn’t enough, there are green rays of death going around the room. Don’t let them touch you. It’s not pretty.

Finally, you have to watch your Sanity Buff. It starts at 100, but gets reduced by all kinds of things during the fight. If it drops to zero, you get permanently mind controlled for the rest of the fight. This is typically a Bad Thing. Freya puts down these little green lights that you can stand in. Magnusson took to calling them Brain Juice.

After one minute, portals will open up into Yoggs brain and certain people have to take the portals. You get four portals and only one person may use a portal, so you all have to find different portals to use.

Once inside they have to kill a couple of NPCs and open the chamber to Yogg’s brain. From the moment the portals open, Yogg starts casting Induce Madness. It’s a long cast, but if you don’t get out of the brain room before he finishes casting it, you get mind controlled for the rest of the fight and your erstwhile friends have to kill you. Bummer, dude.

After they come back out more tentacles spawn, so we hoped to have the first set down before that happened. The phase felt more controlled the better we got at killing all the tentacles.

The thing that makes this fight so crazy is what I like to call Dynamic Prioritization.

At first, you are thinking, you need to be over there stopping the Crusher from casting Diminishing Power, then all of sudden, you need to be over there because you got Brain Linked with one of your team members, as you are running over there, and you notice that a Constrictor has your Disc Priest. That thing needs to die quick, but you’ve got to get over to the Brain Link, but no one is able to do much DPS because the stupid Crusher is channeling Diminishing Power again. Then you see your Sanity is low so you’ve got to get to the Brain Juice. So you feel like you need to be in about 4 places at once.

20 seconds, and I swear it feels like 5, the portals open again and your ‘Portal Team’ needs to get back down into the Brain room and continue to DPS Yogg’s Brain after killing some more NPCs.

After a couple of false starts, we actually got the first half of Phase 2 down okay, but we were having trouble going between the parts of Phase 2. Basically, our Brain Team would resurface, and get debuffed, or constricted and wouldn’t be ready for the next Brain Phase. With all the various and sundry ways to die, we would end losing people.

Our Raid Leader made the call that the Brain Team would not add any DPS between Portal Phases but would simply wait for the Portals to appear and get back down into the Brain Room.

It took 3 Brain Phases, but we actually transitioned to Phase 3. The transition between Phase 2 and 3 is very quick, like instantaneously quick. The shield drops and the Immortals spawn.

The first time we got to Phase 3, it happened so suddenly we didn’t realize it. I picked up the Immortal, but he smacked me pretty good, and I go low. Hodir put me in an Ice Block to save my sorry dwarf butt. The Immortal decided it didn’t like smacking an Ice Block and decided to go eat me Tree. It was over before it started.

Immortals hit very hard at first but as you DPS them, their attacks become weaker. At 1 hit point, Thorim finishes them off. Thanks, really appreciate that, dude. Could you maybe, oh, I don’t know, ATTACK THEM BEFORE they get to 1 hit point?

The next time we got close to Phase 3, we were more prepared. I would pick an Immortal and melee would take him down. The Immortals keep spawning throughout the Phase. I would pick them up and our melee would dps them down.

I missed one of the Immortals, and he was headed for our Disc Priest. Mag, our Holy/Ret Paladin, taunted and took the hit for our Disc Priest. It cost him his life, but our Healer was okay. I got the next Immortal, and then Yogg did his channeled AoE. The only way to stop it is for everyone in the raid to turn their backs to Yogg. While my back was turned, another Immortal spawned and nailed my Disc Priest before I picked it up. He got a Battle Rez and an Innervate. Have I ever mentioned how much I love Druids?

Yogg was at 10%. We were mowing through Immortals as fast as we could. Every couple of seconds, one of the melees would call out on Vent, “There’s another one, Honors.” I used everything in my arsenal to pick those guys up: Hand of Reckoning, Exorcism, Righteous Defense, Avengers Shield, and Judgment. It was insane.

Yogg was now at 5% or so, but my Sanity was getting dangerously low. I needed Brain Juice, but I also had to pick up the next Immortal. If I got mind controlled, I wouldn’t be picking up any Immortals, so I headed for the nearest Brain Juice.

That decision would cost us our Resto Druid. Yogg was at 3%.

Then our Disc Priest announced he was OOM. He wouldn’t say that unless all his tricks were burned (Hymns, Pots, Pets, etc). Our Death Knight switched from Immortals to Yogg himself, and called for DPS to “Burn Him”. Remembering our first Mimiron kill, our Feral Druid piped up, “So, Kitchen Sink time?”

I could tell I was in trouble. I could just see one of those agonizing 1% wipes in our future.

I hit my Crab, then Divine Protection aka Bubble Wall. That bought me some time but I was still going down. I hit Lay on Hands, and my macros announced to the raid. (I made the macro to communicate to my healers I was using Lay On Hands so they could cancel their ‘bomb’ heals, though at that moment, I don’t think any bomb heals were headed my way.)

I started scanning my hot bars for something, anything else that would keep me alive once the Immortal burned through my refilled life bar.

Then the chat frame started filling with Achievements. We had both teams in Ulduar that night, so at first, I thought it was our other 10 man team. Then everything just kind of stopped.

Those were OUR Achievements for killing Yogg Saron! Vent filled with cheers, and laughter, whooping and hollering. Since my daughter was asleep upstairs, I did silent fist pump. We had done it, Yogg Saraon was dead! I was completely out of breath. I just knew I was going to bolt up out of my sleep at 3am that night hearing “Another one spawned, Honors!!” (That didn’t happen, I slept quite soundly, thank you very much.)

That fight was the most intense, crazy, exhilarating and fun fight I’ve done in World of Warcraft. There was no time to think about rotations, or where your keys were mapped. It was instinct, reaction and muscle memory. Every single person in our raid had just about every skill, spell, trinket and consumable on cooldown. If it was clickable, it got clicked that fight. We literally threw everything we had at him. Origami said it best "Everybody used every aspect of their class to get that one done."

Heroes Inc is the second Alliance guild to down Yogg Saron on Altar of Storms, and the first guild to do it had killed him Sunday night, about 24 hours before us. That guild was formed recently by a merger of the two top 25 man guilds on our server. They out gear us, and they raid more hours than we do, and they beat us by 24 hours. Not bad, not bad at all.

He dropped the Hunter, Shaman, Warrior token which went to Vundermann. He also dropped some cloth boots which our Mage and Disc Priest rolled for. They both rolled a 6. Epic rolls, gentlemen.

Someone asked me one-time, what I would want to do if I knew World of Warcraft was shutting down forever. Now I know my answer. I would want to grab my friends, Ellevis, Bluetide, Blackhaus, Zadorr, Origami, Magnusson, Vundermann, Taxiderm, Donkatonk, Absouloot, Bandaidez, Ofn, and Lakini, and go do that fight one more time. It was that much fun.

(Yes, I know that's technically more than 10 people, but that's my team, and if it's the last day of WoW, I'm breaking the rules.)
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