Tonight, we went and accidentally did the three new 5 man instances.
Well, it was an accident on the part of myself and Cassie.
I’ve intentionally not read or viewed anything at all about the new instances previous to going. No PTR stuff, no videos, no pictures aside from what was shown at Blizzcon and a few screenshots showing a chamber with a dangling Frostmourne hanging over an altar.
No strategies. No walkthroughs. No “this is what to expect.”
For once I wanted to just see it, cold, up close and get to react to it.
My one regret was that I was in vent and didn’t have game sound turned on for most of it, but hey, I’m a blabbermouth in vent. I fully intend to join LFG as a silly little solo pugger, just so I don’t have to listen to anything other than game sound next time around.
It was an accident, because we expected to take a few shots at the first of the new 5 mans, The Forge of Souls, and see what we could do. After that, we expected to have to leave to put the cats to bed, our son to bed, and watch the season finale of Top Chef.
Just prior to running The Forge of Souls on my Druid as tank, I ran it once on Horde side as a Ret Pally. We set it up, went in, and the rest of the group had seen it the night before, so they had some basics to share. It let me see the fights, and gave me some respect for it even on normal, because the guys I was with are pretty damn good, and the fight against the final boss left two DPS dead at the end, with the Tank dying simultaneously with the boss. And this was on normal mode, and the guys had downed Onyxia 10 with ease a few weeks before. Clearly, something to take seriously.
On Alliance side, I gathered up the same group of us that had wanted to do it last night, and failed from being unable to zone into the instance. I’d promised we’d try a second time, and everyone was up for the challenge.
I went in as the Tank, and it was an unfamiliar sensation to truly know nothing about the actual abilities of the mobs aside from what I’d seen once. But I had a lot of faith that we’d be, well, overpowered.
Improvise, adapt, and overcome. Especially the improvise part.
We went in on the normal setting, looking to learn the ropes, and the thing that really struck me was how long the run up to the first boss seemed, when the groups of enemies are spread so far apart on long, narrow ramps. It really was quite fast to go from the entrance to Bronjahm, but it felt slow, if you know what I mean. It felt as if I should be taking the trash seriously, because of how spread out they were.
One thing I noticed is that the arrangements of the groups meant that almost every pull consisted of some ranged casters that don’t come when you pull, spread out far enough that you can’t blanket them both with a simple ‘run and gun’, or as I prefer to call it ‘charge and stun’ attack.
I found myself, much more than normal, spending my time watching threat levels across all the targets, satisfied that I had aggro and were marking kill orders rather than pin down one mob specifically.
I found it best to mark a ranged caster, charge him and lay down a heavy initial threat level on him, target a distant ranged caster while still Swiping local targets, thrown down a Growl and Feral Faerie Fire, drop back to local Skull to gain some more Threat level distance over the DPS, and then with a safe margin Charge the second or, if there, third ranged caster and pin him down better.
Really, it was group aggro control, the way I liked it from the bad old days of Burning Crusade, when it felt like flying fangs of feral fury spinning around and twisting viewpoints to keep an eye on the two legged lunch and just having fun.
Now, next time I’m going to play with something you may remember… Crowd Control. I think there were many situations where solid coordination and the effective use of Crowd Control would add… fun to the encounters. It’s almost as though they spread out the mobs enough that the designers are asking us to please, just think about using CC. Just for fun.
There are several situations that Crowd Control would have actually added to the smoothness of the run, but I’ll get to that later.
We faced down Bronjahm, I shared the tips I picked up from my horde side friends, and sure enough, easy kill. I was shocked to learn we were getting an Emblem of Triumph for each boss kill. This is normal mode, right? Cool! AND loot? Well, dip me in butter and call me corn!
We moved on, facing the same kinds of trash, with the addition of a couple Spectral Wardens, that are pushovers but they can fear you, so pounding them is not only fun, but a sound tactical idea.
We went on and faced the final boss, and I found that, aside from remembering that he summons many, many, many adds at times, and that he drops puddles of evil goo that you don’t want to stand in, and that he does a mirror soul on a target that causes damage he takes to be shared with the player just like the Eyeball boss of Violet Hold… I couldn’t remember anything else about the fight.
Still, I had a few plans for what I could remember, such as calling out when someone was hit with mirror soul so we could stop DPS, and to watch for the purple circle that looks like a well and drag the boss away from it, and to call out for everyone to fall in on my position when the army of ghostly adds appears so they all come to me and get their little spirit butts handed to them.
We tried it, and well… I guess it went well, because we won handily, although sadly I somehow allowed dear Cassie to take a dirt nap. Still have no idea what killed her, either.
Well, that was it. A lot to digest, a great new instance, a lot of fun. Time to go.
And Elystia says, “And now we jump in this convenient portal right here to go to the second instance in the chain, Pit of Saron.”
Umm… well, okay. Sure.
In we go… and there’s all sorts of cool stuff, there’s a big ass dragon flying around and a huge wide open space filled with things, and Jaina Proudmoore, and wow, this kicks ass.
It’s day two of the Patch. That’s as far as I’m prepared to go in terms of spoilers.
I will say this.
We are, all of us, in gear that comes from drops in ToC, Heroic ToC, some 10 man Naxx, a few Ulduar 10 drops, and mostly Emblem of Conquest gear. Maybe one or two pieces of Triumph.
We cleared all three instances, in normal mode, without a single wipe, without having any idea of what was coming at us. We took it as it came, we reacted and tried to think our way through (although I think Jardal and Kaelynn cheated and were reading strats from somewhere!) but in the end, we won.
Even that last bit at the end of Halls of Reflection, and DAMN that was exciting and awesome and fun! Woo!
I’ll tell ya, we almost let him kill us just to see what would happen. If you’ve done it, you know what I mean. Damn, that’s tense when you’re all rushing “Kill him now, kill him now, get the fat one, shit Arthas is almost here, crap, go go go! Now RUN!”
God, that’s just a great series of instances to run back to back to back.
Here are some tips for Bear tanking it, for those of you that are raring to get in there, but haven’t yet done it.
First, be prepared to remember the kill order. Don’t hesitate to mark, and remember, if they wear cloth or heal the enemy, kill those bastards first. If they are ranged and don’t pull, you don’t have to get in their grill to hold them, but you DO have to use your Feral Faerie Fire and ranged Growl to keep them on you, and stay over the healer aggro. When in doubt, Feral Charge and make it up close and personal.
When dealing with fast runs, remember your strength; kiting and tanking on the move with your butt, and a moving AoE Swipe that hits 360 degrees. By all means, gather them up and drag them after you. In the Halls of Reflection, be prepared to search for ranged healer or casters, mark them with Skull to tell the DPS to focus only on them at first, and then do a run around the room to gather up the moveable mobs and bear swipe them on the fly and kite them/Feral Charge them into your designated kill target. Make solid use of Growl, because sure as heck if you spend a few seconds gathering up other mobs, the kill target will have time to get off at least one shot on someone else if you’re unwary.
Mostly… have fun in there. It’s a freaking winter wonderland for a Bear tank, and also for a Tree druid.
Mobility is our key strength. It’s our bread and butter. Yes, melee DPS wants us to stand still, and you’re a professional, so do it, and be consistent in how you pull so the other players know if you’re going to be facing the mob, or turning it to put it’s back to your group.
But always be prepared in there to make the fights mobile, to drag them around out of poison and toxic waste and the paths of boulders and wells of souls and gauntlets of adds standing in collapsing tunnels and roomfuls of waking adds and all sorts of other awesomesauce.
I can’t help but feel this was what I was missing. My only regret was in not marking CC targets, and using it in my tactics. I really, really want to do that again. Yes it’s slower… but it always gave me a strong sense of, well, “playing with my food.”
I really miss that. I think I’d like it back.
I hope you’ve had the chance to get in, and to see it all for yourself. I believe that when you do, you won’t be disappointed.