Mommy's alright, daddy's alright, they just seem a little weird.
Surrender, surrender, but don't give yourself away, ay, ay, ay
--Surrender by Cheap Trick*
The TBC Classic Phase 2 --which includes the Serpentshire Cavern and The Eye raids-- is in the WoW Classic PTR, which means that Phase 2 is right around the corner.
And while I've already expressed my opinion that it is far too soon to drop Phase 2 and that Blizzard is merely feeding the beast, the reality is that our raid team has to start getting ready for SSC and The Eye.
Which meant that I had to go and confront my resistance to running heroic dungeons.
|I'm gonna get used to seeing that skull.|
Part of work surrounding Phase 2 preparations involves resist gear sets for two of the tanks and one of the Warlocks. The tanks' resist gear comes from farming/buying materials and crafting the requisite set, but the majority of the Warlock's gear comes from items purchased by badges. 100 of them, to be precise.** With Phase 2 imminent, that means a lot of heroic dungeon runs in a (relatively) short amount of time. My Warlock friend took on the responsibility of the Warlock tanking gig, and I'm not about to abandon her when she needs people to help her get the badges she needs.
Therefore, I embraced the Heroic dungeon challenge to help her out.
The past four days I've run four heroic dungeons with her: two attempts at Arcatraz, and one attempt each at Slave Pens and Underbog. They're not exactly a representative sample, given that the first one is one of the hardest and the latter two are some of the easiest of the Heroic instances, but they're enough to have formed a few opinions on them.
- Most of the trash has an additional "trick" to them, and once you understand that they tend to go down fast.
For example, in Arcatraz if you deal with the Arcatraz Sentinels, they have a little extra surprise for someone who is used to their Normal version: when they die, they emit an Arcane Explosion that will kill any nearby melee. Therefore, any melee --including the tank-- has to run out when the Sentinel's health is below 6%. If you have a location where you can hide out of line of sight, you're safe from the blast as well. In our first run, it took only one mass death from the melee for me to figure this out, but throughout the rest of the run the Rogue simply would not run away from the Sentinel and died every. single. time. That leads me to...
- Just because you know the trick doesn't mean that you won't wipe on the trash.
This definitely applies to the Gargantuan Abyssals that you find in Arcatraz. With the Heroic version, there's a Fire Shield that it casts that if you're in melee you take some pretty substantial damage every few seconds. However, it also has that Meteor ability --just like that found in AQ20 and AQ40-- that you have to have everybody in the group stack so that you're not instantly killed. So the trick is to stand just outside of the range for the Fire Shield, but run into melee when the Meteor is cast. (Or have the tank run out to the stack.) The first Abyssal we tackled, it went down pretty quick with only one death (me). The second Abyssal, well.... It took us about 6-7 tries before we finally got it down, and even then it was a bit of luck.
- Sometimes the Normal version of the trash is bad enough.
"Underbog... Calling Underbog.... White courtesy phone please...."
If you knew that the Rays in the Underbog cast a Psychic Scream, and that a Tremor Totem is useless against them, then you knew this was coming. Yes, you can interrupt the cast. And yes, the fleeing in terror isn't typically that bad. However, when you've a pack of three of the Rays, unless you have exactly the right group composition you're going to have at least somebody running around like a chicken with their head cut off. And if they run the wrong way just long enough, you can aggro another trash mob.
- You can pug these, but nothing beats a group of friends/guildies. Especially if you're all in Discord.
The first Arcatraz run, the Warlock and I pugged with a random Healer (can't remember), Tank (Warrior), and DPS (rogue). From the beginning, the tank behaved as if he were running a Normal version of Arcatraz, and then quickly discovered that wouldn't work. That first (optional) boss in Arcatraz, we simply could not bring it down. Eventually we moved on, but we ran into a wall with the room before the Abyssals, and that was that.
The second Arcatraz run we had four friends/guildies together, and the exact same tank as the first try. The four of us were in Discord together, and we offered to have the tank join, but he refused. That would have probably shaved about 1/2 hour off of our run time, particularly when organizing strategy.
The latter two runs, while admittedly on two of the easiest Heroics, were full guild/friend runs and everybody was in Discord. We could coordinate, discuss, and basically get the damn thing done. Throughout both runs everything ran smoothly, especially given that I'd never been in either Heroic and another person hadn't been to Underbog in TBC Classic at all until that moment.
So.... What do I think?
I believe that if I'd gone into Heroics about 4 weeks ago, which was still behind all of the Meta followers but about the time I became attuned to all of the Heroics, I'd have gotten stomped. By comparison, Karazhan and Gruul's Lair are easier than the harder Heroics, and they yield better gear. Waiting a month and gathering some drops from the raids improved my survivability immensely. It did not make the instances a cakewalk, but it probably made the easier ones far less of a dirt eating competition. Heroic Arcatraz, on the other hand, was still very much a slave to knowing the trick on the enemy you faced. If you didn't know the trick, you couldn't simply outgear it at this time. Maybe after Phase 2 with Tier 5 gear you'll be able to, but not just yet.
Something I do remain adamant about is that chain running these things is the quickest way to experiencing burnout in game. I've a friend in game that I do care a lot about, and I'm really concerned for her getting burned out on TBC Classic.*** She'd done the Meta on one of her toons, and afterward she'd thrown up her hands and hasn't been in an instance since, even though she knows she has to do so to get attuned for Phase 2. I just wish I could help her out, but I think the best thing for her is to not spend so much time in game, so she can get that break she needs before pushing forward.
What I do wish is that people understand that there's more than one way to play the game, and that we shouldn't rush to fit everyone into the same slot. These Heroics are very much a good alternative to endgame at this point in the expac, but forcing people into them to perform attunements for raids is, in my opinion, a mistake on Blizz' part. Unlike Wrath Era Heroics, these should not be a stepping stone to raiding but instead their own separate entity.
But yeah, I could do Heroics as an alternative to raiding. After all, some of them certainly take long enough to complete.
*Okay, I'm putting the version from Live at Budokan here....
**That number comes from two of the warlocks on the raid team, and I don't see any reason to challenge that assertion.
***No, she doesn't know this blog exists. So if you're one of the people in game and are thinking it applies to you, I'm actually talking about someone else. But yeah, I am concerned about everybody I know getting burned out, too.