Friday, December 11, 2009

Icecrown Citadel part 1

One of the reasons I haven't been writing as much was that I joined a decent raiding guild that runs some of the top end content in World of Warcraft. Thus I was lucky enough this week to be able to jump right into Icecrown Citadel when the patch went live. So far it's been a welcome change from the Trial of the Crusader which had become ridiculously boring. The scenery of the large arena quickly became stale after the first couple of weeks of the Argent Tournament. I'm very glad that Icecrown includes a large environment for the raid to move through even if it means clearing trash once again. In addition, Blizzard has better scaled the encounter difficulty so that the first boss in the instance is not one of the hardest. The Beasts of Northend encounter had been a major chokepoint in the Trial of the Crusader.

I'm tempted to write a long post since its been awhile but I just want to highlight my basic experience with the raid instance and what gave my guild trouble. There are very good strategies all over the internet if you want the details.

There are some fairly large trash pulls in the begining of Ice Crown though luckily they are vulnerable to crowd control. Thus you can make the pulls a bit easier if you have classes that can stun/root undead mobs. I think this was the first time I've seen a priest use shackle undead since Karazhan. They're a few specific trash mobs that can be dangerous and you'll want to watch out for them.

Skeletal Casters:
Use a spell which causes a line of frost spikes to travel along the ground in a straight line.

Giant Skeletons:
They are entombed in the walls and will come to life when someone gets within range. Huge amount of hitpoints and you don't want them adding in the middle of a pull.

Nerubians before Lady Deathwhisper:
They cast a debuff on someone that will cause that person to keep the Nerubian alive and mostly kill the target if they don't run out of the raid. We just kept everyone stacked on the target and had the debuffed person run out. Just watch out if your tank gets the debuff since the off-tank will need to taunt.

Lord Marrowgar (1st Boss)
Very easy fight and we only wiped a couple of times since we didn't really go over the strategy ahead of time. He's basically a skeletal abomination who has a lot of bone themed abilities and looks cool as hell. His main attack hits multiple targets depending on threat level so it's required to have more then one tank on him. His other common ability is a ground based attack that travels in a straight line. This forces everyone in the raid to constantly adjust their position. Our melee dps quickly figured out he has a pretty large hitbox and it's easy to avoid the attack if you stand back a bit.

The most important part of the fight though is to free players that have been impaled on bone spikes. The bone spikes root a single target and deal 10% damage each second, but can easily be targeted and killed. Other then that you just have to watch out for when Lord Marrowgar falls to pieces and forms a whirlwind of flying bones. In "Whirlwind of Death" mode he randomly picks a target and then chases them around while continuing his ground based line attack. This is the part where everyone gets to run around like a chicken with their head cut off until he reforms. It's a very fun fight and Blizzard really did a good job with this encounter.

Lady Deathwhisper (2nd Boss)
This was the chokepoint for my guild on the 25 man version. She looks like a female version of Kel'Thuzad and starts off with a mana sheild that you have to destroy to get her into the 2nd phase. Throughout the 1st phase she summons cultists from three sides of the room at timed intervals. Some of these cultists are immune to physical damage while others are immune to magic damage. This wouldn't be so bad except that she randomly empowers the adds which turns them into undead and increases their hitpoints and damage. To make matters worse the adds can also mutate which snares them, but makes them hit insanely hard. At this point range classes have to kite the mutated add since they can't be tanked. To further complicate the fight the cultists can randomly cast a suicide spell which explodes them for massive AOE damage.

Luckily, the main boss herself is kind of a wimp and during the 1st phase will only cast random mind controls and a large area death and decay. During the 2nd phase after her mana has been depleted she will summon suicide ghosts which will target a single person and explode for AOE damage when they get within melee range. The only dangerous spell she herself has is a frostbolt spell that hits really, really, really hard and needs to be interrupted. She has a ten minute enrage timer and you will probably win if you can get her into phase 2 within 7 minutes.

As much as Lord Marrowgar was a fun fight this fight sucked. The problem is that dps and crowd control need to be tightly coordinated across three seperate groups which are all doing different things. If too much dps is taken up by killing the cultists the mana shield doesn't go down before the enrage timer. The more common problem for my guild was that adds would slowly overwhelm us as we would lose dps to mutated cultists and suicide explosions. Eventually, we figured out all the little tricks and our dps stayed alive. I would not want to do this fight with a pick-up-group since it requires every dps class to have good situational awareness and not just rely on gear.

The last two fights were much more fun and I'll write about them next.