I considered not logging Thursday. We had been working on Blackhand for 3 consecutive raid nights and I had reached my limit. The same pattern of the first night repeated over and over. We'd get to Phase 3 and someone would mess up Marked for Death, we'd be scattered for Smash and it would be all downhill from there. We'd throw in a couple of 'regression' pulls on the night where we messed up Phase 1 or Phase 2 to spice things up a bit.
I started thinking back to Black Temple, one of Burning Crusade's major raids. Around the middle of the raid you encountered a fight called Teron Gorefiend. In the Gorefiend fight, a raid member would get picked at random. They would be transported to the back of the room and become a 'ghost'. Their class abilities were replaced with special abilities in what would eventually become known as the vehicle UI. Using the 'ghost', the player had to go around and kill adds. These adds were not attackable by anyone except for the ghost. The adds in that phase did constant damage to the raid so the faster they went down, the less damage the raid would take. People even made simulators on the web so you could practice being a ghost. If your 'ghost' had difficulty, the adds would continue to spawn and eventually the damage would overwhelm your raid. Raids at the time were 25 man only. No flex setting existed. In fact no Heroic or Mythic setting existed and there was certainly no LFR. In every raid, you have stronger players and weaker players. During progression on Gorefiend, people prayed to whatever deity they could think of so that 'that guy' didn't get picked. I see similarities between that old Gorefiend fight and Marked for Death, especially in Phase 3.
In addition to Marked for Death, myself and my tank partner had difficulty with positioning and juggling Slag Bombs. One of our guild mates posted a new strategy video to our Facebook page and I really liked the way the tanks handled Phase 3. The video suggested separating the duties of the tanks. One tank was responsible for handling the Slag bombs ("Bomb Tank") and the other for handling Massive Shattering Smash ("Smash Tank").
I tank along with a Druid named Troll. Since the raid would be stacking on the Smash Tank, we decided that Troll would be the Smash tank. His bear druid has a distinctive model so we told the raid that when it doubt, get on the fuzzy bear butt. BBB would have been so proud.
I would be the Bomb Tank which meant that as soon as I dropped down in Phase 3, I taunted if I didn't already have the boss at the end of Phase 2. Then I dragged Blackhand to the edge of the platform. I kind of had to taunt on the run because everything happens fast in Phase 3. The raid, including the Troll (the Smash Tank), formed up on Blackhand's backside. We instructed our team that people with Marked for Death would run to the right, and people with Slag bombs would run to the left. As the Bomb Tank, that was backwards for me since I was facing the raid. I ran to MY right for bombs.
A couple of seconds after we got him positioned, Slag Bombs would go out. Similar to the Ko'ragh fight in Highmaul, when Troll saw that I had the bomb debuff, he taunted Blackhand. That flipped Blackhand around to be facing the raid. I would go drop my bomb and then bogie over to the left. Once Blackhand did his Massive Shattering Smash, I would taunt bringing Blackhand to my position. Troll would charge back and the raid would reform on his furry bear derriere and we would repeat the process. The one danger I had to watch out for was getting in the way of the Marked for Death. If I got hit with it as it traveled to the target, I'd get knocked off the edge. That would be a Bad ThingTM.
We made a couple of pulls with the new strategy. The first one, we once again had a Mark in the middle of the raid. This was tough because we are a 'casual' group. We don't like to call people out publicly and our raid leaders never yell over Team Speak but this was getting to be a common occurance. Luckily, I don't have to deal with that. Our fearless raid leaders took that job.
We started to get into position for the next pull but someone got too close and Blackhand aggroed. Luckily, Troll was on the ball and taunted before Blackhand could squish the unsuspecting DPS that face pulled him. Our raid leader made the decision to proceed with the attempt. Phase 1 was a little dicey since no one pre-potted, but we got Blackhand transitioned moments before we ran out of real estate. We dropped down to Phase 2. I have to give props to Tachi, our Boomchicken. Several times during the phase, he had already killed all the adds by the time we got up there. That gave us more time to DPS Blackhand. We also implemented a strategy where our Siegemaker kiter, Kreelix, would call out if we didn't have a Siegemaker up to soak the Marked for Death. The current offtank would try to intercept at least one of the projectiles if not both. The thinking being that its easier to heal a tank through the debuff since we are already getting heals anyway and we have some built in damage mitigation.
We dropped down for Phase 3 and I got into position for the first bomb. Troll taunted and I booked it over to the next spot. I'm still trying to get a feel for how far to go to give us enough room away from the big circle of death. Everyone got back on the Bear butt and we did the second transition. We lost a couple of people, I'm not sure exactly how. The second Smash went perfectly, but as I was heading over to set up for the third Smash, I got hit with someone;s Marked for Death and went flying off and over the platform. Troll held out as long as he could but eventually he went down too. Now it was just DoT and run but Blackhand was really low. I watched helplessly from the floor below. All I could see were raid frames graying out as people died and Blackhand's health ticking down. I feared one of those painful 1% wipes.
Achievements filled the screen and everyone let screamed and hollered over vent. After 20 plus attempts, Blackhand was at long last defeated. I haven't felt this good about a boss kill in a long time.