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As with all good things, Throne of Thunder normal modes have come to an end for Focus. I wanted to take a moment to discuss this tier and what everyone thinks of it so far. The Normal mode content with 1 or 2 exceptions brings some new and fun mechanics to the game, without some of the boring rinse and repeat feelings that previous tier mechanics left us with.
Last Stand of The Zandalari.
Jin'Rokh the Breaker, the gate keeper boss is a fairly forgettable encounter. The mechanics are enjoyable, but as with most entry bosses fail to be memorable. The easy comparison from blizzard and fans was to Ulduar, so lets compare our gate keepers. Flame Leviathan was a bit of a push over, but was very memorable. Throwing us into vehicles was a fun way to make an easy fight be memorable. It took us out of our element and forced us to learn a new play style in order to overcome an encounter. Jin'rokh fails to live up to this legacy, but not because it is a bad fight. Jin'rokh simply lacks a memorable mechanic to define the encounter like vehicles and pyrite did for Flame Leviathan.
Horridon is a challenging fight even after the health pool changes. This is the brick wall of progression for the first half of the raid. I never felt like this was a bad fight even after 20 or so wipes in the first week of progression. The scale of this encounter brings positional challenges for tanks and healers that we have not had to deal with in quite a while (Large rooms, and big bosses seems to be a theme for Throne). A 5 phase no repeat fight is something that brings a continually changing feel to the fight as you rotate around the room facing changing packs. Sand trap is a great mechanic (Which you see again) to keep this from simply being a stack and AOE fight. The 3rd gate is a big test of the ability of your DPS to maintain damage while handling kiteable adds. The final phase is a bit forgettable, but is still enjoyable simply because of the burn phase for DPS, and the healer check for healing teams to overcome.
Council is a unique encounter in the melee feel that it has. Somewhat reminiscent of faction champs, without some of the infuriating combinations that come to mind on that fight (damn ret pally). The Loa Spirits summoned by the priestess never let the DPS completely zone out, and with lower iLevel gear ensure you have players that know how to snare, slow, and stun. Frostbite/Biting Cold provide us with an ever tried and true stack/spread mechanic. Sand traps on this fight feel a bit more annoying then they did on Horridon, mainly because of the rolling mechanics coming from Khazra'jin. Ultimately this fight feels like a positional control fight, where as long as cool heads and fast feet are not in short supply your raid will prevail.
Tortos, is a turtle, with more turtles. The kick mechanic is the saving grace of this fight. Something fun and fresh, and allows you to ruthlessly attack anyone who misses a kick (I can't remember who missed a kick in our attempts). As a healer it feels a bit like a house of cards when the turtles are out. Try and survive till they stop tossing you around, and you can heal everyone up. Turtles provide some nice target switching for your dps, and the bats keep both tanks and healers busy. Felt like a fun fluff fight, that is a nice refresher after the mechanic stacked encounters of Council and Horridon.
Magaera is a truly fun, complex, and difficult boss, that leaves all roles of your raid group thinking they could do just a little more after a wipe. The choose your own poison style of the fight is something incredibly fun allowing raids to be the architect of their wipes. Rampage allows your raid to get some great cool down usage off that really pays off in mana bars coming through to the final head of the encounter(phrasing). Allowing players to nearly completely control the encounter was a strong them here. Players placed the "void" zones and removed them. Players chose what mechanics would be most prevalent, and whether to have higher raid or tank damage. Would love to see further fights with this design philosophy.
Ji-Kun is our 2nd tier boss, and brings back some old favorites and fresh designs. The flying mechanic felt like a direct throwback the Dreamwalker. Fly on up and collect some orbs that make you better, a simple yet fun way to handle encounter buffs. The hardest part of this encounter is knowing where you need to be and being prepared to be there. The most challenging mechanic of this fight is the push back, and that is not that difficult. Honestly I floated through this fight without a clue as to what was going on the majority of the time. While this fight has some redeeming qualities and a nice scale, I really felt disappointed with it as an end tier boss. That being said it is normal mode, and as such difficulty cannot be expected to be too high.
Edited by Tsokin on 3/19/2013 3:42 PM PDT
Halls of Flesh-Shaping
My favorite of the normal mode sections in the raid. Very nice atmosphere, Huge caverns and Massive cathedral like rooms.
Durumu starts the darker section of this raid, with a very grungy feel (Closest thing to a Plague Quarter this X-pac). Colorblind phase is a fantastic co-ordination challenge that lasts just long enough to be fun, but not so long that you are begging for it to end. The knock back mechanics keep you on your toes for an otherwise burn phase. And finally the dark phase. The dark phase is hands down, the most fun I have had raiding. Combining two of my personal favorite mechanics Twilight Cutters, and the Lich King soul room. Twilight cutters keep your pace up. Lich King soul room pathing forces you to slow down and wait for the path to open up. Asking your raid to find the balance of speed and patience in order to overcome. Durumu is on of my favorite encounters this tier, and brings some new mechanics out that inspires a lot of confidence in Blizzards content creators.
Primordius was a really enjoyable encounter and brought a very blood queen like feel to it. A self damaging steroid that is a necessity to beat the enrage timer, with some key board smashing raid damage for healers. Damage on targets felt a little light, but it gave us time to try and steal some red pools from our DPS. Mechanically simple, but still very fun. It lacks the depth some of the bosses have in this raid, however still fulfills as a fun and lasting encounter. Sure to be a great time for DPS competing for WOL rankings.
Dark Animus is extremely deep mechanically, particularly coming off of Primordius. This fight has low DPS and HPS requirements, but demands perfection in execution from your entire raid group. The animus passing mechanic has a strong positional and movement requirement, reinforced by the stacking range buff the machines gain. Dark Animus himself is a little lackluster, and the fight gets easier as it progresses, but the initial requirement of it makes it seriously challenging. The interrupt feels like a little bit of an annoyance, however it encourages the roller coaster of difficulty this fight becomes. Starts very difficult, gets easier, finishes in an intense way.
Edited by Tsokin on 3/19/2013 3:57 PM PDT
Pinnacle of Storms
The Iron Qon is a three phase fight that presents some very interesting mechanics, however becomes increasingly easier as the fight progresses. This fight starts out with some extremely high damage during the fire quillen phase, as well as some strong positional requirements. Phase 1 also has the highest damage of all of the spear throws, but it is far from the most punishing spear. This fight seems to be one on where healers are pushed in order to overcome mechanics. The wind phase is is mostly enjoyable, however the only difficult mechanic is trivialized by a warlock portal. Cold phase is mostly annoying, particularly the spear. Forcing dps to react to a random shield, but then having a casting/attack speed debuff that is unavoidable/randomly placed on the ground? Just artificial difficulty that this phase needs because of the lack of any challenging mechanics. Final phase is a fun healer/dps nuke. Blow your mana and cool downs and hope you kill before the soft enrage.
This encounter has some very cool ideas, as well as some mechanics for all roles to be involved with. Stars force the raid to spread, sleep clouds keep you on your toes, and the fire consort pop-ins ensure the raid never gets to completely fall asleep at the keyboard. Tanks are introduced to a mini-pve duel forcing the swap, and also testing there abilities to deal with a mechanic solo. Fire phase has a great healer check. The pulsing aoe damage, and random nuke damage test the ability of healers to throughput constant hps, and maintain a snap heal on targets that need it. The celestial mechanics seem interesting, but we have only activated the cranes and dragon. The mana is nice, but the crane seem fairly lack-luster. I would hope for a more rewarding visual for successfully landing a crane after activation.
Lei Shen fight is pretty fantastic. The movement around the platform keeps the first phase fresh by testing your ability to react to different mechanics. The transition phase though is where the challenge really ramps up. Testing your raids ability to function in smaller groups in order to overcome the same challenges that you faced as ten moments before. I will say that the disc priest rogue comp is flat out broken for transition phase. Phase 3 ramps everything up a notch, but you are down to three platforms. Until I-level ramps up a bit I would imagine that most groups will have a pillar leveling up in this phase. This transition is deceptively easy.
So Phase 1 is pretty easy.
Phase 1 Transition seems easy, until you get mechanics stacked in one group.
Phase 2 is laughable with solid dps and heals.
Phase 2 Transition seems easier then phase 1 transition because of the increased groups.
Phase 3 though brings some fresh mechanics, as well as every other non-pillar mechanics.
Despite the challenge this is meant to present, it never felt that way to me. Once you make it past phase 1 transition the fight seems to just beg to end. I was hoping phase 3 would have some crazy mechanic tied to the wind similar to sanity on Yog. Perhaps you could only run against the wind for a certain amount of time before you simply were blown off the platform. A mechanic that forced raid members to position in a way that the wind worked for them would have been fun to see. Currently it just feels like running around while the heals AOE, and the boss dies. A visually pleasing fight that never delivers the difficulty we have seen on previous end-tier bosses. I would hope for a bit more of a challenge coming from The Thunder King.
Edited by Tsokin on 4/15/2013 9:36 AM PDT
I think we averaged about 1.75 hours per new boss. We've been raiding an extra day, but our hours have gone from 4 to 3 so we're still putting in the same amount of time we were previously. It took us 12 hours to kill the first 6 and about 9 for the last six (3 hours to clear first half again). We only had our full roster one day during the first week though.
Edited by Catparty on 3/19/2013 12:06 PM PDT
I'd tell you what I think of the bosses but we've probably raided a grand total of 3 days the entire patch...probably 9hrs total l0l. On council now and it seems fairly simple. Horridon is just about having perfect control of the adds, afterwards it's easily 2healable. I don't think the first boss is much more than glorified trash.
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