Archive for March, 2009

Honest (s)Crap

Posted: 28 March, 2009 in misc

wowscrnshot_032809_123837Oh noes!  I’ve been rumbled!  That pesky gnome over at Armageddon’s Coming has tagged me with the Honest (s)Crap Award!  The rules are pretty simple…

Them’s The Rulez

1. When accepting this auspicious award, you must write a post bragging about it, including the name of the misguided soul who thinks you deserve such acclaim, and link back to the said person so everyone knows she/he is real.
2. Choose a minimum of seven (7) blogs that you find brilliant in content or design. Or improvise by including bloggers who have no idea who you are because you don’t have seven friends. Show the seven random victims’ names and links and leave a harassing comment informing them that they were prized with Honest Weblog. Well, there’s no prize, but they can keep the nifty icon.
3. List at least ten (10) honest things about yourself. Then pass it on!

So what I’ve decided to do, since Gnomey loves my alts so much, is to get each of them to nominate a deserving blog themselves.  For mage blogs it’s a tough choice.  The Pink Pigtail Inn is always a nice place to rest and put your feet up, and Euripedes over at Critical QQ is always entertaining, but Calli’s choice is going to have to be Armageddon’s Coming, because Gnomey’s so goddamn prolific he puts me to shame.  And somehow he finds the time to be Hindu too!  Henriksen, over to you, shorty.

And Now Over To Our Panel Of Judges

wowscrnshot_032809_123842Cheers, lassie!  Well, there can really only be one choice when it comes tae Hunter blogs, Big Red Kitty stands head and shoulders above thae rest… well, as much as ye can stand head and shoulders above anything when yer as vertically challenged as we Dwarves.  Still, at least we’re not gnomes.

Anyhow, BRK gets mah vote because his video guides are thae best around!  And when he’s no on the sauce he’s usually pretty amusing too, check out this post as an example, because it’s true what they say, all loot IS hunter loot, dammit!

Shinano, wee lassie, over tae you!  Ah’m gonna get pished.

wowscrnshot_032809_123848Ishnu-alah, Henriksen!  Well I’m proud to say that the choice of top quality druid blogs is pretty staggering, and my first choice would always have been Phaelia over at Resto4Life.  Sadly for us, Phaelia has closed her doors, but happily for her it’s because she’s having her very own baby druidling.  Blizzard even honoured her by including an item in Ulduar named after both her and the occasion that forced her to close down her blog – Phaelia’s Vestments of the Sprouting Seed!

However, since Phaelia is now an ex-tree, my next top choice for Druid blogs must go to Leafshine over at Lust for Flower.  Check it out, and I challenge you not to leave with a smile on your face.

Ande’thoras-ethil, readers.  Fingers, over to you.

wowscrnshot_032809_123853Cheers, Shinano.  Nice dress by the way.  Anyway, Rogue blogs.  Just about the only Rogue blog I ever spend time reading is Parry!  Dodge! Spin! by Valenna.  Her stuff is well-presented, concise, informative and entertaining.  All the good stuff any noob stabby like me needs to know.  I have the good fortune of being a clueless rogue in a guild with some very good rogues who are always happy to share stabby tips, but anything I can’t glean from them I get from Valenna.  Sadly, she can’t give me the extra eye and pair of hands I need to get my head around the Mutilate/Hunger for Blood spec, but I’m sure she’s working on it.

If anyone needs me I’ll be opening lockboxes on the Auction House Bridge, and you didn’t see me, right?

Gorn old buddy, over to you.

wowscrnshot_032809_123901Yer, thanks, Fingers.  Well, I isn’t too good at der readin and Ratshag at Need More Rage in’t too good at spellin and stuff neither.  So I gets Aluriel to read his blog to me.  He’s an Orc, like, but one o’ dem honest ones and good inna fight so I fink he must be okay.  And he’s got sum reely cool axes and swords and stuff an almost as many scars as me so he’s pretty cool.  I reckon I could have im in a fight, tho.

I heard this joke in Ironforge the other day, about Dirge.  I didn’t get it at first, but Aluriel expla.. explayn… told me what it ment.  It was funny. I laffed.  Hur hur hur.

Wanna see my scars?

wowscrnshot_032809_123925Elune-adore, readers.  Gorn’s busy with his favourite book right now, don’t worry, he’ll be fine… “My Big Book Of Axes” has lots of pictures.  But, to business!   Choosing a worthy priest blog to be nominated is hard work, there really are a lot of top quality priest blogs out there.  At the end of the day however, I can only really choose one, and that’s The Egotistical Priest, simply because it covers absolutely everything, has a HUGE archive of material and always makes me laugh whenever Hannelore’s writing anything.  Check out her review of some PuG basics to see what I mean.  Sure, she may be a depraved, magic-addicted fruit elf but that doesn’t mean she can’t be funny.

Ande’thoras-ethil, readers!  Jingles, your shout.

wowscrnshot_032809_123914That’s The Mighty Jingles to you, you shameless, wanton, night elf hussy!  The.  MIGHTY.  Jingles!  And cover yourself, sheesh!  What’s an evil genius got to do to get some respect around here?

That reminds me.  I remember once I arrived in Telaar with my customary /yell of “Tremble in fear, mortals, for your doom is here!  It is I!  The Mighty Jingles!  I CANNOT BE DENIED!”  I waited for the customary cries of fear and awe but all was silent for several seconds, then someone /yelled back “LOL I THOUGHT YOU WAS A WORLD BOSS ROFL.”

The nerve!  I AM a world boss!!!

Ow!  Prod me again Calli and I’ll bite your finger off.  Ok, maybe just your ankle.  Ok, Ok, the point..  what was it?  Oh yes, Warlock blogs.  My vote goes to Yet Another Warlock Nerf.  If any of you peons are interested in perfecting your play, you could do a lot worse than check it out.  I don’t need to of course, being perfect already, but it pays to keep astride of what you mere mortals are up to.

Now, I must away!  World domination doesn’t organise itself you know, I’m a busy gnome!  Galadan, put the mirror down and nominate a paladin blog, you’re as pretty as you’re ever going to be.

Sheesh.  You just can’t get the staff anymore.

wowscrnshot_032809_123920So there I was in Darnassus at the Temple of the Moon and these three hot night elf priestesses were wanting to see my Hammer of Justice if you know what I mean.  Anyway, I have enough Blessings of Protection for three, so I …  Ok, Aluriel’s giving me some funny looks.  We’ll finish later.

Hey guys, Galadan here, too young to die, too pretty to live!  You all know me, right?  Ka-ching!  Right back at ya! Please form an orderly queue, ladies!  Plenty of Paladin for everyone!

So anyway, I’m cruisin’ the web and that’s not all I’m cruisin’ when “Hello there there sweety pie!”, who’s this?  Siha at Banana Shoulders can Judge me with Light any time of the day if you know what I’m saying, right?  So I drop by with a “Hey, how YOU doin’?” but she’s playing hard to get, you know?  So I start reading her blog and damn, but this chick’s a professor or something, one of those real smart types, you know the kind who act all prim and proper but when they let their hair down BOOM!  Judgement of Light, baby!  YEAH!

She’s still not answering my calls.  Must be something wrong with her mail.  Yeah, that’ll be it.

wowscrnshot_032809_1239292Chronokai kristos, readers!  Galadan’s found his mirror again so we’ll get nothing useful from him for hours.  Now it’s my job to nominate a deserving shaman blog, but I have a confession to make..  I..  er..  don’t actually read any.  I blame Calli, she neglects me!  I haven’t been played in months.  I’m still level 70!  My poor hooves are getting mildew!

/tar Calli

/Shakefist

So I resolved to see what was out there and was happily surprised to see the shaman blogging community is alive and well.  My choice for the award goes to Flameshock simply because he writes stuff that’s useful to a noob shaman like me.  He keeps it simple and is always informative with useful advice and posts that any shaman of any development level can relate to.

And finally, it’s over to Sithica for the Deathknight nomination.

wowscrnshot_032809_123934Hi!  I thirst for souls.  Just so you know.

There can only be one Deathknight blog nomination from me, and that’s Dwarf Death Knight from my very good friend Redux.  He’s easily the most prolific commenter on my blog, you’ll know him as “DW” for his previous main, Dreamweaver, a Dwarf priest with whom he raided right up to Sunwell Plateau.  Dreamweaver was infamous within the guild for getting tired of certain melee classes spamming chat with their massive crits.  So one day he responded in kind with “OMG MASSIVE HAELZ IN YOUR FACE!” and there was much lollage.

These days he’s caught the tanking bug on his Deathknight, Redux, and has completed Sartharion with three drakes in both 10 man and 25 man flavours, so it’s pretty sure that he knows what he’s doing except…  well… he just loves to tank so much that sometimes he can’t stop himself.  Tanking Blazes and Whelps isn’t enough for Mister Redux, oh no.  Sometimes he gets this irresistable urge to taunt Sartharion AT THE SAME TIME!

Redux, just so you know, I never at any time promised I wouldn’t tell everyone. :p

And now that the nominations are over, I have to post 10 honest things about myself.

The Awful Truth

1.  I..  erm…  this is hard for me.  My spells…  they’re not…  erm…  bound to keypresses.  There I said it!  Sheesh, stop looking at me like that.  At least I’m not a keyboard turner!

2.  I levelled Gorn to 60 as Protection, back when Protection really, really sucked.  I’d had some horrendous PuGs with warriors who thought that they kept dying while tanking with a two-hander because the healer was crap and resolved to do it “right” when I levelled my own warrior.  Feel free to /point and /laugh.

3.  I don’t really hate Warlocks.

4.  I wish Calli had been a Gnome.

5.  Our raid leader is a very, very accomplished Rogue, Warrior and now Deathknight.  He plays each class so well that I can’t bring myself to play Fingers in the same group with him due to performance anxiety.  It doesn’t help that I’m not actually that good at playing a rogue.

6.  I once faked a disconnect to get out of a raid that I was too tired and ill to bother with.

7.  My first level 60 toon was Henriksen, my hunter.  He’s now my least-played.

8.  I’m 39.

9.  As soon as 3.1 arrives I’m dropping Improved Scorch like a hot potato and swapping to some spec that isn’t going to be crippled by the crit nerf.

10.  Thinking of 10 honest things to say about yourself is harder than it looks!

honest_scrap1

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I’m getting more excited than I probably have any right to be with the new Argent Tournament on the PTR.  I was always a sucker for faction reputation grinds.  There were far too many of them in Burning Crusade, even a rep junkie like me struggled to get them all (I only hit Exalted with Sporegarr last week and Kurenai two weeks before that!) but I think Blizzard got it just right in Wrath of the Lich King.  Slightly less factions, more focussed identities for them and far more logical means of grinding their reputation.

For those who aren’t familiar with the details, the Tournament is a lot like the Shattered Sun Offensive on the Isle of Quel’danas in Burning Crusade, except for where it’s completely different.

Ok, that probably wasn’t a lot of help.  I’ll try again.  The idea of the Tournament is that the Argent Crusade are looking for champions to lead the battle against the Lich King, so the various City factions are invited to send their best to compete for the honour of leading the charge.  I’ve dabbled in the process on the PTR on Calli, my mage, and it works kind of like this:

Oooh, shinies!
You head to the area in Icecrown where the Tournament Stadium is being built and sign up with your faction, for Calli, this was Stormwind.  You then get given a bunch of starter quests to learn the basics of mounted combat.  Yes, you heard that right, mounted combat.  Seeing a Mage riding around on a charger with a Lance and Shield strapped to her back is… well you’ll get over the intial “wtf” factor soon enough, and the combat mechanics themselves are fairly simple.  It’s another variation on the various vehicle combat quests we’re all familiar with from levelling in Northrend, but it’s sufficiently different to be quite cool and unique at first.  Complete these basic quests, and you successfully enrol on the list of Stormwind’s hopefuls, get some quest tokens and open up a bunch of daily quests.  The tokens are used to “buy” loot, like the new tabards, trinkets and so forth.  Every time you gain a new reputation level with the Tournament, you gain the right to challenge for a new rank of champion, which opens up more new daily quests.  Think of it like the Shattered Sun Offensive and Sons of Hodir’s bastard love child and you won’t be too wide of the mark.  There are a ton of new achievements, new tabards, mounts, loot, all the things you’d expect of a new faction, but more.  And they’ll keep adding more content to the Tournament in each patch so you’ll always have a reason to return.  It ticks all the right boxes, is as slick and well executed as you’d expect from Blizzard.  There’s just one teensy-weeny problem I have with it all.

None of it makes the slightest bit of sense whatsoever.

wtf

WTF?
Top tip, fellas.  Holding a Tournament to select the champions for your armies is fair enough, this is at least historically accurate and I can’t fault any of that.  But generally speaking, you’re going to find it’s the sort of thing that you do before assembling your army, sailing north, storming the beacheads, battling your way inland and spearheading an assault into the enemy’s heartland.  If you’re already at the point where you can see the enemy’s Headquarters from your command post, you probably don’t actually need to hold a tournament to find some good troops.  They’re already fighting for you.

While we’re on the subject, was there seriously a meeting at Blizzard where they were thinking about where to hold the Tournament and Crystalsong Forest didn’t even get a mention?  Let’s just imagine how this meeting went:

Ghostcrawler: So, where are we going to hold this tournament?
Dev 1: It needs to be someplace near the Argent Crusade headquarters, but with reasonably close access to Dalaran.  Somewhere with undeveloped real estate where we can add the infrastructure without messing up what’s already there.
Ghostcrawler: Are you thinking where I’m thinking?
Dev 2:  Sounds like there’s only one real candidate, Cryst…
Ghostcrawler: Yeah, Icecrown, baby!
Dev 1:  Yeah.  Wait.. what?
Dev 2:  Icecrown?  The heart of the Lich King’s territory.  His bastion of power?  That Icecrown?
Ghostcrawler: Just north of Crusader’s Rest should do.
Dev 1:  There’s no flat land there.
Ghostcrawler: Make some.
Dev 2: It’s deep behind enemy lines.
Ghostcrawler: Mere details!

So just in case this wasn’t completely clear, let’s just recap.  Tirion Fordrings’ conquering army, having battled their way to within visual range of the enemy’s headquarters, is going to suddenly stop all offensive operations and march a bunch of carpenters and stonemasons right past the biggest stretch of undeveloped real estate in the game with excellent communication links a stone’s throw from the Argent Crusade’s home base, to a spot miles behind enemy lines to start building… a sports stadium.  A sports stadium, which isn’t going to be complete for months, I hasten to add, which has the purpose of being built in order to select which champions from the various factions will have the honour of leading the war against the Lich King.   A war which would have been over by now if they’d not stopped it to hold a Tournament that they should have held before they even got on the boat to Northrend.

It’s madness, and it certainly isn’t Sparta.  But it’s probably going to be great fun anyway, even if the whole concept is barking mad.

There’s finally some actual Mage notes in the PTR patch notes, and the good news is, we’re not just getting some more icon changes.  The bad news is that in the short term, we’re getting a serious beating with the nerfbat.

The changes are two-fold.  First, the Improved Scorch crit buff/debuff is being slashed by 50%.  Instead of stacking to 10% crit with 5 applications, it will now only stack to 5%.  This hits Frostfire Mages pretty hard since they’re more reliant on crit for decent dps than any other spec.  This change isn’t restricted to mages alone, all similar crit buffs are getting the same beating, and of course the result affects everyone who gets a benefit from spell crit, not just mages.  But any way you dress it up, it’s 5% less crit, which means less Hot Streaks, less Master of Elements procs so less regen, and less Ignites.  This hits Frostfire Mages HARD.

And it gets worse.  Currently, glyphed Molten Armour gives us another 5% crit.  Regular readers may recall my constant whining about all of the Spirit on mage gear and the fact that Mages using Molten Armour (and we all do because we’re a dps class, remember) get exactly diddly squat use out of spirit.  Well Blizzard’s way of “making spirit a useful and interesting stat for all mages” is to remove the base crit % from Molten Armour completely and change the effect so that it provides crit as a percentage of our spirit.   You want numbers?  I got numbers.

  • Molten Armor now causes 170 Fire damage when hit for all ranks (Up from 75/130/170) and also increases your critical strike rating by 25% of your spirit.
  • Glyph of Molten Armor – Your Molten Armor grants an additional 15% (40% total) of your spirit as critical strike rating

So in other words, fully glyphed, you’ll get 40% of your spirit as crit rating.  No need to get out your calculators, the numbers are actually pretty simple.  If you currently have fully buffed, more than 574 spirit, this is a buff over the current 5% crit that you already get from Glyphed Molten Armour.  If, on the other hand, you’re in the 99% of non-retarded mages who have been doing the sensible thing and avoiding spirit on gear because to do otherwise was gimping your dps, then this is another massive nerf. 

Let’s look at Calli as an example.  With her 645 crit rating, a full Scorch debuff up on the target and glyphed Molten Armour, and assuming an intellect buff, she has 45% base fire crit.  Considerably higher than that with FFBolt in a full raid, but we’ll go with 45% for now.   She also has 465 spirit, despite trying to avoid it wherever possible, and this is in some of the best mage gear currently available in-game.  That’s a LOT of spirit for a Frostfire mage, but it’s all high end raid gear that the majority of mages probably aren’t going to have access to.  However, what it does illustrate is that when the patch goes live even mages with the best available current gear are going to go from 45% crit to 39% crit overnight.  5% lost from the nerf to Scorch and 1% lost from the Molten Armour change.

So it’s all pretty bleak, right?  Well, not really, no.

There are positive aspects to this.  You just have to look at it all in context.  The nerf to Scorch is a nerf no matter how you try to dress it up.  But it affects everyone, not just us.  Take into account the fact that 5% crit buff/debuff that it provides is being spread across other classes (and nerfed for them too) then it means that your Fire and Frostfire Mages no longer have to be the raid’s crit debuff bots.  Scrap Improved Scorch and spend those talent points elsewhere, perhaps invest in the Arcane tree and get some useful utility talents on the way to Student of the Mind?  Rip up your Glyph of Improved Scorch and get the new Glyph of Living Bomb so your LB ticks can crit, too.  Unless you want to you’ll never have to waste time casting Scorch again.

Let’s take a look at the Spirit on gear issue too.  What we’re seeing on patch-live day is a consequence of our avoiding spirit in the past, which was a sensible policy since it pretty obviously gimped us and offered nothing useful.  There were very limited gear choices available to us if we wanted to avoid spirit.  Post-patch every single cloth drop that doesn’t include mana per 5 will be an upgrade for us.  Look at the Ulduar loot tables, you can count on the fingers of one head all the cloth gear that doesn’t come loaded with spirit.  One way or another, we’re ALL getting more spirit on our gear.  At least now it’s not going to gimp us and we’ll actually get some offensive dps benefit from it.  Sure, pound for pound, raw crit rating is still better, but have you looked at all that “healer” gear with spirit, crit and haste?  That stuff’s for us now!  Gimme!

Even in current raid content, if you suddenly start rolling on all the cloth with spirit on it (and let’s face it, that’s almost all of it) you’re still going to be able to break even on patch day from spirit alone.  I know I have a couple of items of ilevel 213 gear that I’ve acquired along the way but never managed to work into a useful gear set.  Well it’s starting to look pretty useful now.

Of course, if you’re not raiding at the moment, you’re not going to be anywhere near these stat numbers and the change to Molten Armour is going to hit you proportionately harder.  There’s no real way to sweeten that.  But one thing that needs to be pointed out here is that the change to Molten Armour finally gives us something that scales with our gear.  Something we lacked ever since the original nerf to Improved Scorch that removed the 15% damage buff.  As your spirit gets higher, and it will because our gear is dripping with the stuff, your crit will continue to improve.  Not just into Naxx and Ulduar, but beyond.

Overall, while these two changes to Scorch and Molten Armour are very definitely nerfs over the immediate and short term, I think there’s a compelling reason to be optimistic about the future.  Spirit may never be remotely interesting, but it’s beginning to be moderately useful, and it’s only going to get more useful as time goes by.

Regular readers may have noticed that my blog posts err towards the..  shall we say, epic in nature?  I never write a sentence where a paragraph will do.  In fact, I’m already doing it again, all I needed to say was “I write long blog posts”.  So Krizzlybear, and everyone else who doesn’t have half a day to check their blogroll, this post is for you.

Shinano hit level 80 very recently (six level 80’s down, four to go!) and I’ve been doing instances as Feral while building up a pretty respectable Restoration set for raiding.  I raided the guildbank for 4 pieces of epic leather BoEs farmed from 10 and 25 man raids.  I got my Rogue, Fingers, to craft a few other pieces, tailored some others on Calli and blew some cash on the Auction House for the rest.  End result, 1400+ spellpower and 800 spirit unbuffed (while specced Feral), enough to start doing Naxx 10 man after a resto respec.

Anyway, last night we’re putting together a Sartharion and Malygos raid for alts and non-raiders.  We can only rustle 20 players up, so we decide to go ahead and get the “Less is More” achievements while we’re at it.  With 20 people we’re not going to try anything flashy with Sartharion, so go for a simple 0 drake kill.  In retrospect we could easily have handled 1 drake, but we wanted a quick kill, so that’s what we did.  I was only on Shinano to get the raid invited and sorted out, and was going to switch to a better geared dps character for the kill itself, but people were getting impatient and wanted to start, so off we went.

Sartharion dropped like a stone, and that’s not all that dropped.  The Staff of Restraint and Concealment Shoulderpads were on his loot table this week…  and no-one else wanted them!

Rrawr!

Now if only 3.1 and dual-spec would get here!

So, 3.1 and Ulduar are coming, and Ulduar will be available in both 10 and 25 man raid versions.  So far, so good.  3.1 also includes the much-vaunted arrival of dual character specs.  Other than the obvious, new content and more versatility for your favourite characters, there’s nothing here to get excited about before it all actually arrives, right?

Well… wrong.  Let’s just take a look at what this all actually implies.  First, dual specs.

The Man With Two Brains
I’ve been on the PTR and had a try with dual specialisation and it’s incredibly well implemented.  You set up your character the way you want, then visit your trainer and buy a second spec for 1000g.  Nothing happens immediately, other than your wallet becoming a lot lighter.  However, take a look at your talent page and you’ll notice a new, blank tab.  At the top of this tab is a button to make this talent spec your active one.  Press this button and five or so seconds later, you have an empty mana pool, a fresh talent screen and a bunch of empty Glyph slots.  Pick your new spec as usual, reglyph as appropriate and train new skills as required.  From that moment on, all it takes to switch between your two new talent trees is to press the “Make this my current spec” button.  It even saves the positions of your casting bars!  Since swapping specs drains your mana pool, if you’re a class with a blue bar you probably won’t be doing this in combat, but that’s the only real limitation.  So far so good.

So what are you going to actually use your second spec for?  As a pure dps class, the choices are fairly limited.  You can have your raiding spec and your pvp spec, for example.  Or a raiding spec and a grinding spec.  Whatever floats your boat, really.  The important thing is that the gear you equip between each spec isn’t really going to differ in most respects.  It’s all still going to be dps gear.  The choice isn’t nearly as clear cut for classes that can fill more than one role in a raid, with Shamans, Druids and Paladins being the most extreme examples.  For many, the choices will still be fairly straighforward, and simply having the ability to make these choices will be a major relief to raid selection officers.

The Replacement Killers
Right now, current raid content is a major pain in the arse from a selection point of view.  You have Naxxramas which you can comfortably handle with two Main Tanks, a couple of offtanks, five or six healers and the rest dps.  For Malygos, one Main Tank, five or six healers and the rest dps.  For Sartharion with three drakes up, four Tanks, one of whom better have a LOT of health or some seriously useful cooldowns, five or six healers, the rest dps.

What do you do if you’re doing Sartharion and Malygos on the same night?  One requires one tank, the other requires four.  You’ve already cleared all of Naxx the previous evening, there’s nothing left to kill.  Sartharion and Malygos are all that’s left.  How do you pick tanks for that without having to swap people out or send people to respec mid-raid?  There are solutions, but they depend on what tanking classes you have to play with.  The point is, with dual specs, there is no problem.  Three of your tanks switch spec to do dps on the way to Malygos and the problem is solved.

None of this affects us right now, however.  What is going to affect us right now is the potential loot drama when people realise that they actually need to gear up for their dps spec when they’re not tanking or their healing spec when they’re not dpsing, or whatever.  Handled properly, this won’t be an issue.  Ignore the problem and it’s going to bite you in the arse.

First, we need to recognise the fact that dual specs are here to stay and unless you take full advantage of them you are gimping your raid.  Fact.  End of discussion.  Secondly we need to recognise, and impress this fact upon our raid groups, that the people who are going to be expected to switch specs and perform different roles at will in Ulduar and beyond are entitled to a fair shot at the loot which they’re going to need to achieve this role.  This means no crying from the rogues and dps warriors when the Prot warriors and paladins start rolling on Fury and Retribution gear.  And no crying from the mages, boomkin and warlocks when the Holy Priests start rolling on +hit caster gear.

There Will Be Blood
Depending on how you manage your loot allocation systems, this is going to be a big problem, or a small problem.  We use a dkp system with no minimum bids.  We can bid whatever we want for whatever we want.  Sure, that Holy Priest can bid on all the dps caster gear, but when his healing turns to crap because he has no actual healing gear, he’ll get booted from the raid for not pulling his weight (and being an asshat).  The system balances itself, all that the dkp really determines is who gets the good loot first.  At this stage of the game, there are very few items left in current raid content that anyone actually needs.  Sure, there is plenty of stuff that people might actually want, but that’s an entirely different matter.  I may want The Turning Tide from Kel’thuzad, and the next time it drops I’ll probably get it, but I can live without it because I already have Life and Death and the very first drop in Ulduar will be better.

So while your Rogues may be screaming because the Holy Paladin just outbid them on the best in slot dps ring they’re been waiting months for, well…  tough luck.  The Holy Paladin now has just as legitimate a need for that ring as you do, and you blew all your dkp on half a dozen swords, daggers and maces that you didn’t actually need.  Unlucky, bub.  You snooze, you lose, etc…

Of course, this is now, when most people don’t really need that much gear from current content.  When you get into Ulduar itself and the very first drop is a spellpower +hit dagger which every mage, warlock, holy priest, discipline priest, shadow priest, restoration druid, balance druid, feral druid, elemental shaman, enhancement shaman and restoration shaman starts rolling on, THAT is the true test of how mature your raid is.

There will be drama.  How you handle it is up to you, but prepare for it now and handle it delicately.

Perfect 10
The other issue that really only struck me last night is to do with 10 man raids in Ulduar.  Now if you’re a member of a smaller guild that only raids 10 mans anyway, this really doesn’t concern you.  If on the other hand, you’re a 25 man raider, start paying attention. 

Not all 25 man raiding guilds practice this approach, but most do, and that’s to run 10 man raids alongside their 25 man raids.  You can have two or three 10 man raids running in the same raid schedule as your 25 man raid, it’s how most raids gear up alts and reserve players, for example.  It’s also a way of checking out the 25 man boss fights in a slightly more forgiving environment.  If you’re a current 25 man raider, dripping in ilevel 213 gear (and better), 10 man Ulduar is going to offer you nothing more than a change of scenery.

10 man Ulduar gear is almost all ilevel 213, same as current 25 man raid loot, with the exceptions being the gear that drops from the later bosses in the same way that Kel’thuzad drops better quality gear in both versions of Naxx.  The badge tokens that drop in there are the current 25 man Badges of Valor, and there isn’t a single item of Badge of Valor loot that I need, either.  To put this another way, there is no reason whatsoever for me to raid Ulduar 10 on my raiding toon, since the only gear upgrades for me are in Ulduar 25, and I’ll be getting all the change of scenery I want in Ulduar 25 anyway.  “But you can do new achievements!” some poor unfortunate replied to me on Teamspeak last night.  I’ll spare the blushes of my more delicate readers and not relate exactly where I told him he could stick his achievements.   Regular readers of my blog will already know how I feel about chasing the carrot on the end of the stick that is Blizzard’s raid achievement system.

The Wild Bunch
In short, if you’re currently running 10man raids alongside your 25 man raids, this particular penny is likely to drop amongst your own 10 man raid group sooner or later.  From our own bitter experience, you really need to announce now where your 10 man raids are going in 3.1.  and lead them accordingly.  If you’re going to blow through the content with 25 man raid characters and chase the achievements, make it known that this is what you intend to do and recruit your raid to suit.  If all you want is to gear up alts in Ulduar 10, announce this too and select accordingly.  Fail to prepare for this shift in perspective and expectations and you will stumble.  You can expect your current 10 man raids to lose and gain members prior to 3.1 as you make your intentions known and people gravitate to the raids that best suit their interests.  This is natural, and infinitely better than being on your third week of farming Ulduar 10 content with half the raid not signing up anymore because this wasn’t what they had in mind.  Speaking personally, I intend to continue raiding 25 man with my Mage, Calli, and find an Ulduar 10 raid group that doesn’t care about achievements and just wants to blow through the content and get it on farm as soon as possible for my Priest, Aluriel.  Gorn, my warrior has already got his Ulduar 10 content farming raid place booked, too.

It’s all about deciding what you want and preparing the best way to get it with a group of like-minded players.  The key word here is “preparing”.  3.1 isn’t that far way and it will change things on many different levels.  Don’t let yourselves be stuck in a place you don’t want to be doing things you don’t want to do.  That way lies frustration and burnout.

It’s supposed to be fun, after all.

Underachiever

Posted: 11 March, 2009 in misc, Raiding, Ulduar

Is anyone else getting to the stage where they’re finding it harder and harder to sustain interest in the current raiding schedule of Naxx, Malygos and Sartharion?  I mean, when you can do Sartharion with 3 Drakes up, clear all of Naxx 25 and put Malygos on his backside in two nights of raiding (and finish early on the second night) what do you do the other five nights a week, and how do you stay awake when you are raiding?

For some, the solution is to shoot for achievements.  I am not one of those people.  I do not see the sense in crippling yourself and intentionally making a boss harder than it needs to be in order to gather another 10 lousy epeen points.  If there were extra or a better class of loot involved, well that’s a different matter.  Sartharion with three drakes up is a good example, you make the fight substantially harder but get substantially better loot as a reward.  Malygos in 6 minutes is not.  You spend an entire night forcing a wipe at 10% on each attempt because you’re not going to make the 6 minute marker, and in the unlikely event that you do manage to do it, your reward is…  another 10 achievement points.  Whoopee.

In fact, it’s this mindless chasing of achievements that’s probably burning me out faster than anything else.  I can see why they’re attractive to a certain  mindset and this isn’t intended to be a criticism of anyone who wants to collect as many achievements in raids as they can.   That’s one of the strengths of World of Warcraft, there are any number of ways of playing the game, and if chasing achievements is what floats your boat, good for you.  But collecting achievements for their own sake is not what pushes my buttons.  If Blizzards’ solution to a lack of raid content is to slap a band-aid on it and make us do the same shit over and over in harder ways for an imaginary reward, then sorry guys, I’ll be over here levelling my druid.  Or my Shaman, or whatever.  What I won’t be doing is running the treadmill Blizzard has had us running ever since Wrath release and pretending it’s a new treadmill just because I’m running it with a blindfold on, or with one hand tied behind my back.  The Emperor is not wearing new clothes!

Of course, the problem is worse if you’re a raid leader.  There are only two ways you can make raiding more interesting for people if you’ve already been farming content for the last few months, and one is by doing achievements.   This keeps the achievement junkies interested but it does nothing for your own blood pressure when people immediately pop consecration or start cleaving when you’re trying to do Spore Loser.   It also means, since you’re by definition making your raids harder than they need to be, that you pretty much need to take your A-Team on each raid.  This creates its own problems if you’re running on a tight raid roster, since the opportunities for rotating in fresh talent become more limited.  If you’re doing Sartharion with three drakes or Malygos in 6 minutes you just don’t have the slack to bring in people with sub par gear or limited experience.  So the people who couldn’t give a rats’ ass about achievement points keep getting roped in to raid after pointless raid and the people who could actually use the loot and experience never get a chance at being selected.

The alternative is to ease back on the pressure, stop making things more difficult than they need to be and relax your raid selections to include reserves and alts.  You’re no longer trying to complete Boss A with your eyes closed while hopping on one foot in order extend your epeen by another millimetre, so it doesn’t matter if you’re not selecting people who’ve done the fight 17 billion times and would rather stick needles into their eyes than do it again.  Loot starts going to people and characters who actually need it instead of being used to swell the guild bank with shards that are only being used to enchant your Paladins and Druids’ third set of offspec gear.  The downside is that you’re going to upset the achievement junkies who don’t want to sign up for Pimp My Alt nights when they could be chasing achievements.

There is a third solution, of course.  Instead of sticking an achievement on an existing fight and calling it new content, Blizzard could actually, you know..  design new content.  Patch 3.1 can’t come fast enough if you ask me, because our raid signups are in the toilet right now and sooner or later someone’s going to flush.  We had 24 signups to our last 25 man raid and you don’t need a masters’ degree in Mathematics to realise that doesn’t add up.

3.1 and Ulduar is going to bring its own problems and issues, of course, but at least it’s new content.  I’m hearing some encouraging things from the Public Test Realm.  It seems that some fights are going to be structured more like the Sartharion fight, where  you can make the fight harder than it has to be, but you get commensurately better loot that scales with the difficulty you choose.  More stuff like this can only be a good thing in my opinion.  They also seem to be addressing another of my pet hates, vehicle fights.  Let’s use the Oculus as an example.  Fighting the last boss in that hellhole is just as tough naked as it is fully-geared.  Hell, if it wasn’t for instance level restrictions you could summon in a few level 1s fresh from Northshire Abbey, have them mount the drakes and still make no difference to the success or failure of the fight.  In Ulduar however, the stats of your seige engines are going to scale to the level of gear you’re wearing, so all that farming you did in Naxxramas will actually have had a purpose.

Speaking of gear, I’m looking at the loot tables in Ulduar and starting to get very, very depressed.  I’ve seen exactly four pieces of cloth gear in there that doesn’t come loaded with a ton of spirit or mana per 5.  Even as a Frostfire Mage I did not have mana problems in 25 man raids before the changes to regen in patch 3.0.8, so after the patch I still didn’t need all the spirit on my gear.  The spirit on my gear is not “interesting and useful”, it is crippling my performance.  And in Ulduar there’s going to be a whole lot more spirit on my gear and it’s going to be as uninteresting and useless as it is now.

Tell you what, let’s put spirit on Warrior gear.  After all, spirit also provides health regen, and tanks lose lots of health in boss fights so no-one can truthfully say it’s a useless stat.  We’d have to lose some strength and stamina to compensate of course, maybe some hit or defence, too but that’s only fair.

Anyone read the above paragraph and not start choking on their cornflakes?  It’s absurd isn’t it?  Yet when a Mage starts cursing about all the useless crap on gear that he’s forced to equip, it’s just more mage QQ isn’t it?

My priest is starting to look very attractive lately.  I’m actually having fun on the rare occasions I’m allowed to play her, and unlike on my Mage, every piece of cloth gear that drops is useful to her.

Of course, we’re probably going for a 6 minute Malygos attempt again this week and picking the A-Team for a Naxxramas 25 Immortal attempt, despite 30% of the A-Team voting with their feet and not signing up.

Perhaps I just need a break?  Or a bullet.

Meddle not in the affairs of dragons, for thou art crunchy and go well with ketchup.

Meddle not in the affairs of dragons, for thou art crunchy and go well with ketchup.

You may recall from an earlier post that I’d described Malygos as a “proper old school boss fight”, as opposed to the exercise in stealing candy from babies that are the bosses in Naxx at the moment.  With the benefit of hindsight (and lots of practice and phat epic gear) it’s true that Malygos isn’t a pushover but he’s not going to give you serious problems once you get over the WTF?? moment of the phase 3 transition and handle spark placement on phase 1 properly. 

Unless you try to kill him in less than 6 minutes.

A sub 6 minute Malygos kill isn’t nearly as complicated as a Sartharion kill with 3 drakes up, but it certainly brings its’ own challenges.  Before we examine the details, let’s just take a look at what a normal Malygos kill involves.

The fight is split into three very distinct phases.  In Phase 1 it’s a tank and spank with some very important differences.  Before the pull, take a look around the area.  It’s a circular map with a diamond pattern on the floor at the centre, in the middle of which is a large orb.  For an ideal Phase 1 your healers and all dps must be standing in this centre diamond at all times, but more on that later. 

This central diamond is in the middle of the “inner ring”.  Your Main Tank is going to kite Malygos around this inner ring.  It’s not an easy job, as building threat and maintaining aggro while on the move can be a challenge, and good positioning by the tank is vital for a clean Phase 1.  Tank him too far away from the middle and melee will have to leave the centre spot to attack him, and this will reduce their dps considerably, because of the Power Sparks.  What the hell are Power Sparks?  Glad you asked.

Take a look at the space outside the outer ring.  It’s full of stars, but some of them burn a little brighter than the others.  Wait a while and watch Malygos as he flies from star to star and channels into them.  You can’t miss it when he’s doing it, the star he’s channeling flares and glows MUCH brighter.  There’s one Northeast, Northwest, Southeast and Southwest.  Once you know what you’re looking for you can spot them easily.  During the fight, a Power Spark is going to come from one of these stars, and it’s completely random which one it is.  That Spark is going to move from its starting star and head in a straight line to Malygos.  If it reaches him, he gets a 50% damage buff.  This is A Bad Thing.  However, it’s not going to reach him because your raid will be doing a number of things to make sure that doesn’t happen.

First, designate a Spark Watcher.  This persons’ job is to spam pings on the minimap whenever a Spark forms to alert the raid as to which direction the spark is coming from.  A Hunter is ideal for this, as with Elemental Tracking up the Spark appears on their minimap and they don’t even have to waste dps time looking for it.  If you don’t have a hunter anyone can do it, but unless you’re an Olympic Gold Medallist at multitasking I wouldn’t recommend it be a healer.  Just pick someone who can dps and keep an eye open around them at the same time, but expect their dps to suffer.

So, you have your tank standing by on the inner ring, your dps and healers are all clustered on the opposite side of the central orb from the tank and you have someone designated to ping the map for Sparks.  Here we go!

Phase 1
Ideally, you’ll want someone to activate the Orb and start the encounter when Malygos is flying around on the opposite side of the orb from the Tank.  That way no-one has to move position at the start, he’ll just fly in, land and move through the raid to get to the tank.  Any threat transfer abilities should be used at this point as your Tank’s going to need all the help they can get with aggro, so use those Midirects and Tricks of the Trade.  Once the Tank has him, unleash hell.  Healers be aware that Malygos is going to do an ability I call “The Wierd AoE Arcane Shit”.  I’m sure it’s got a proper name, but whatever it is, expect to see 3 or 4 people randomly drop to 50% health at regular intervals.  This is normal, heal through it and hope you don’t see it happen right before a Vortex because that can easily be a killer. 

Oh yes, Vortexes.  These are fun.  Very early into Phase 1, you’re going to get your first Power Spark.  Your Spark Watcher will be furiously pinging the map to indicate where it spawned from.  Everyone must pay attention to this ping.  Remember, these Sparks move from where they spawned in a direct line to Malygos, wherever he happens to be at the time.  Therefore the Tank must kite the dragon around the inner ring so that he ends up tanking him on the opposite side of the ring from the Spark.  This means that the Spark will carry on homing in on Malygos and pass over the centre of the map where all the dps and healers are standing.  At the start of Phase 1, however, it won’t get that far because you’re going to get a Vortex first.  Malygos will go airborne and sweep the entire raid up into the air with him into a swirling vortex of arcane doom.  Or something.  You will take damage constantly while you’re up there, and the only spells and attacks you can use are instant casts.

It’s at this point where we take a break from our scheduled programming for a word from our sponsors.   Here’s Ghostcrawler from Blizzard Entertainment:
GC: “Wrath of the Lich King, bring the player, not the class!”
PewPew: “Ok, so we’ll have no problems taking Paladins and Shamans along as healers during Vortexes on Malygos?”
GC: “Er.. sorry, I didn’t understand the question.”
PewPew: “I said…”
GC: “Blahblahbla.. I can’t hear you, sorry.  Oh, look over there, a three headed monkey!”
*Ghostcrawler disappears in a sparkling cloud of Warlock nerfs*  (Well, we can hope)
And now back to our show.

That’s right, instant cast spells only, and this includes heals.  So you Paladins have one heal that you can use every six seconds, two if you’re lucky and it crits.  Shamans are also limited to one heal on a 6 second cooldown.  Whereas Druids can use Wild Growth which is also on a 6 second Cooldown, but Rejuvenation, Lifebloom and Swiftmend are not.  Priests have Prayer of Mending, Power Word: Shield, Renew, Holy Nova, Circle of Healing and at least the first Pulse of Penance.  In other words, if you don’t have at least 1 priest or resto druid in your 10 man Malygos attempt, you are going to have people dying in Vortexes.  Yes, I’m sure people are going to comment about how their imba Holy Pally solo heals Malygos, but they’re lying or they and the rest of the raid significantly outgears the content.  Get a Priest or a Druid or people are going to die.  With Pallies and Shamans in a 10 man you can take three healers and struggle.  With one priest or druid you can take two healers and manage fine.  With a priest and a druid it’s a faceroll party.  Sad simple fact, I’m afraid, and “bring the player, not the class” can go kiss my fat white arse.

Moving on swiftly…

When the Vortex ends, the raid will drop to the floor in the centre of the diamond area.  Remember where the map was being pinged?  The raid runs towards the ping, no more than about 6 or 7 steps, because that’s where the Spark is.  The Tank runs to the edge of the inner ring away from the ping.  Malygos lands right in the middle, and if everyone’s done what they should have done, he lunges for the tank.   Raid then steps back into the centre because there’s no longer a big, angry dragon there, and continues to dps.

What we have now is the ideal setup.  If the tank went to the right spot, opposite the ping, the Spark is now heading right towards Malygos, directly over the heads of your raid.   When it gets to this point, you kill it.  You do not let it reach the dragon!  If positioning is poor, get a Deathknight to Deathgrip it over to you.  All your ranged dps must drop that Spark when it’s right in the middle diamond.  This is absolutely crucial to an efficient Phase 1.  The Spark must die in the middle because that’s where your dps is, and when the Spark is killed it scatters itself in a shower of arcane goodness which buffs your dps instead of the boss.  Getting this dps buff is key to killing Malygos in time to get a good phases two and three.

You now repeat this cycle of pinging the map to indicate where Sparks are coming from, the tank moving the boss around the ring to ensure the Spark passes over the centre where the dps can kill it and get a dps buff.  This buff will stack up to two times, and in a 25 man raid that means 25k Frostfire bolts.  Actually, the buff will stack an infinite number of times, but due to the mechanics of the fight you’ll never get more than two Sparks on you at once, because of the interval between their spawning and the duration of the buff before the dead spark effect expires.  Prior to patch 3.0.8 you could get a stack of three, post patch you’ll never get more than two.  This actually makes it harder to get a Malygos timed kill achievement, despite being given an extra minute over the 5 minute kill requirement before the patch.  Blizzard giveth with one hand, and they taketh away with the other.

Phase 2
When Malygos reaches 50% health, Phase 2 begins.  He goes airborne once again, continue to dps him!  You can easily knock another 5%+ off his health before Phase 2 begins properly.  A number of adds will now spawn, flying around the area on hover discs.  There are two types, Nexus Lords and Scions of Eternity.  The Nexus Lords will need to be tanked and killed on the ground, the Scions will remain airborne.  There are two main hazards in this phase, the Scions will constantly be casting Arcane Barrages at random targets on the ground, and Malygos will periodically do a Deep Breath which will kill your raid unless they’re either not on the ground or shielded.  Luckily, when you kill a Nexus Lord he drops his hover disc.  Melee dps should grab these and use them to get to the Scions.  If you’re on a Disc you will not be hit by the Deep Breath and you count as being stationary, even while moving.  This is great news if you’re a caster as you can cast on the move, but it’s far better for melee to grab the Discs as they’re useless once the Nexus Lords on the ground are dead because they can’t attack the Scions from the ground.

At regular intervals, “bubbles” of Arcane energy appear on the ground, too.  They start quite large and shrink over time.  While inside one of these bubbles, you take 50% reduced magic damage, which is what will prevent you from being killed during a Deep Breath.  You’ll still need healing, as it’s only 50% damage reduction, not 100%, but your odds of surviving Phase 2 increase dramatically if you’re shielded, as it also works against the Arcane Barrages from the Scions.  Phase 2 is actually pretty simple, but it is is a dps race, as you need to kill all the Nexus Lords and Scions quickly to get to Phase 3 with enough time on the clock to finish Malygos himself before the timer runs out.

So to summarise Phase 2 – Kill Nexus Lords, melee dps then take Nexus Lords’ hover discs to enable them to reach and kill the Scions.  Once Nexus Lords are dead, kill Scions.  Stay inside Arcane Bubbles, especially during Deep Breaths.  Blow all your mana doing dps and healing in Phase 2 if you need to, you won’t need any in Phase 3.

Phase 3
Once all the adds from Phase 2 are dead, Phase 3 begins.  Malygos destroys the Eye of Eternity and the whole raid falls into space, to be rescued by a swarm of Red Dragons.  It’s usually at this point where the raid utter a collective “WTF??” and die because it’s the first time they’ve seen phase 3 and they have no clue what to do with their new vehicle control bars.  Relax.  Phase 3 is easy.  If everyone does what they’re supposed to do, it’s not possible for anyone to die in Phase 3 unless Malygos reaches his enrage timer.  The problems lie in everyone doing what they’re supposed to do, and dps being good enough in Phases 1 and 2 to give you enough time left on the clock in Phase 3 to kill the big ugly blue bugger.

You can, however, prepare yourself for Phase 3.  There is a daily quest in Coldarra called Aces High which involves defeating Blue drakes while mounted on the back of a Red with exactly the same abilities as during Malygos Phase 3.  Get together in groups of at least two to practice with one doing dps, one healing, and vice versa.

Back to Malygos, however.  He does two nasty things during Phase 3.  One is an attack called Arcane Surge which can easily kill whoever is targetted with it.  He will also fire an attack that covers a large area with AoE lightning.  Avoiding dying from these two attacks is key to managing Phase 3.  First, let’s look at the Red Drakes’ abilities.

Your new mount has 5 abilities, each bound to a number key, 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.  Dps only need to worry about 1, 2 and 5.  Healers only need to worry about 3, 4 and 5. 

DPS
Pressing 1 shoots a dart of flame at Malygos, and awards you a combo point.  2 converts your combo points to a flame damage over time effect (DoT) on Malygos.  The idea is to stack the DoT as high as you can, as it will be your primary source of dps.  The DoT lasts longer the more combo points you generated from pressing 1 to fire the flame dart.

Pressing 5 will cover your drake with a flame shield to absorb damage. It lasts longer the more combo points you have generated from pressing 1.  The trick to surviving the Arcane Surges is making sure you always have enough combo points to throw up a shield if you get targetted.  Dps in Phase 3 is therefore a balancing act.  You have to spend energy building combo points with 1 to ensure that the DoT from 2 lasts long enough so that by the time you’ve built up another 2 combo points, the DoT is still active and will stack higher with a fresh press of 2, instead of needing to be refreshed from the start.  You also have to ensure that you can always shield yourself by first having at least 2 combo points ready and at least 50 energy to power your shield.

I find that the best way to manage this is by pressing 1-1…..2  1-1…..2.  Get those combo points up quickly, wait no more than a second to see what’s going on around you, do you need to press 5 to shield?  No?  Press 2 to stack the DoT.  Then get two combo points up again asap and repeat.

The other hazard in Phase 2 is the electrical field that Malygos casts at the raid.  It hurts.  Move out of it and it stops hurting.

Best plan for dealing with this is to have all the raid gather a good distance from Malygos at the start of Phase 3 and stay clustered around your two (or three) healing drakes.  When an electrical field starts zapping you, everyone strafes clockwise (to the left) and groups up again.  Why do we group up?  Because of how healing works.

Healing
If you’re assigned to heal in phase 3, the first thing you want to do is target yourself and start spamming button 3.  Healing works pretty much exactly like dps does in phase 3, except instead of hurting stuff, you’re healing it.  Duh.

Pressing 3 will start both building combo points and stacking a rejuvenation effect on your drake.  Pressing 4 will consume the rejuvenation and the combo points and cause you to bloom into a soothing beacon of healing goodness to everyone around you.  This is why it’s important to ensure that everyone is around you.  Your button 5 shield is also powered by your rejuve combo points in the same way that a dps drakes’ shield is powered by his button 1 flame darts.

So we strafe around the boss when he throws nasty electrical squigglies at us.  We stack our combo points by pressing 1 or 3, we shield ourselves (with 2 combo points and a press of 5) when we’re targetted by Arcane Surge, and we heal the raid or stack burning DoTs of Doom on the boss by pressing 2 or 4.  If we did enough did enough dps fast and smart enough in Phases 1 and 2, and if we don’t suck and can follow simple rules in Phase 3, pretty soon the Boss falls over and turns into a big red floaty loot Pinata.

But then you try to kill him in less than 6 minutes.  Oh boy.

First, forget everything you ever learned about letting the tanks get a comfortable aggro lead.  I pulled aggro with 4900dps the other day (and I wasn’t doing the most dps either) when we were trying this and guess what?  It wasn’t my bad for pulling aggro, it was the tanks’ bad for not generating enough threat.  Yes, dps have a licence to kill on this one, and I really, really feel for the poor tank.  Tanking Malygos on a regular kill is tricky enough when the dps have a  two-stack of arcane power from dead sparks, but on a timed kill if the dps aren’t within 2% of pulling aggro at all times they’re not trying hard enough.

Hardcore Phase 1
The goal in Phase 1 is two-fold.  You must get Malygos to 80% before the first Vortex.  To do this in a 25 man raid you must have every class synergy there is, be fully flasked, fed and buffed, and begin dps the instant Malygos is able to be attacked, praying that Misdirect and Tricks of the Trade will be enough to keep aggro on the poor schmuck who’s tanking.  If you cannot get him to 80% before the first Vortex, you’re not killing him in 6 minutes, but keep going, it’s good practice.

The second benchmark to watch for is Vortex number two.  If you enter Phase 2 after the second Vortex, you’re not going to kill him in 6 minutes.  As above, keep going anyway for the practice.  Your raid should be standing in a double stack of dead Power Sparks with the boss at 50% and phase 2 triggered before the second vortex happens.  If you can manage this, you’re into Phase 2 with a 6 minute kill in sight.  You also have some seriously sick dps.  Well done. 

Hardcore Phase 2
Remember, at 50% Malygos goes into the air and starts another boring speech.  You’re all standing in a buff field that makes your Frostfire Bolts crit for 30k.  Keep up the dps!  Once he’s flown out of range, Phase 2 properly begins, just like a normal phase 2, except that it’s completely different. 

Melee dps and tanks go for the Nexus Lords.  Ranged dps ignore them completely and start nuking seven different shades of $hit out of the Scions.  Do not run for the safety of the nearest Arcane Bubble.  You’re still standing in a field that buffs your dps, use it.  Only once your power spark buff is gone should you think of stopping dps to take cover in a Bubble, and then only if there’s a Deep Breath on the way.  Otherwise stand your ground, eat Arcane Barrages and keep nuking.  When they’re all dead and you’re not, Phase 3 begins.

Hardcore Phase 3
To get that pesky big blue dragon down before that 6 minute timer is up in Phase 3 you have to forget about shielding yourself during an Arcane Surge and just spam 1,1….2 over and over and over.  The aim is to get your debuff stack as high as it can possibly go, and if you’re wasting combo points to power a shield, it’s not going as high as it can go.  In order to ensure you don’t die to an Arcane Surge, the healers are going to have to have constant Area of Effect heals going on the entire raid.  This means perfect rotations so that at any time, a healer is always firing off the aoe heal while the other healers are generating combo points for when it’s their turn.

Get all of this right, and you have a fighting chance of getting the Poke in the Eye achievement for a 6 minute Malygos kill.  You’ll also have enough dps to comfortably manage some of the harder fights in Ulduar. 

Our best attempt so far?  6 minutes, 29 seconds.