Wrath Retrospective – Bosses

In a continuing series, I’m going to be reviewing as many aspects of Wrath of the Lich King as possible, both positive and negative, and in this post I’ll be discussing boss fights. Rather than review every single raid boss, or the feel of the raids in general (which will probably be in a different post) I’m going to list my top and bottom 5 bosses of the expansion, and why they served their place in the list.

This post is part 1, where I will be listing my 5 least favourite bosses in the expansion. Keep reading to see my full list, and why raiding in Wrath wasn’t always a good time.

5. Gluth
Back during Naxx, Gluth wasn’t actually my least favourite boss in the place, but looking back on it now he caused the most hassle for me as a raid leader, and now everytime I try and set up an Undying run, Gluth makes me worry the most. There were other fights worse for Undying, such as the jump on Thaddius, The Four Horsemen, and Heigan, but none of them placed the sole responsibility of getting through the fight with one person, in a role they’ve probably never done before and don’t particularly want to be doing. Most other fights in Naxx that were hard or are hard now on undying are actually fun, but Gluth was and is a nightmare when trying to get someone to kite the adds. Rotface has a similar problem, and would actually be 6th on my list, but is better than Gluth because Gluth required a tank swap, meaning a tank couldn’t do the job.

Looking back on the guild when we used to try 25 mans, Gluth was actually a big problem. Thaddius was known as the pug killer, but Gluth stopped the raid for about 10-15 minutes while all the DPS classes argued amongst themselves who was going to kite, one after another of classes that were meant for it saying ‘I can’t do it, pick someone else or we’ll wipe’. That, and the fact that to start the fight you have to run through a pipe that caused damage – what the hell was up with that?

4. Deathbringer Saurfang
This may be an odd choice to some of you, but I really hate this fight. Admittedly it doesn’t bother me anywhere near as much now as it did back when we were progressing on it, but the hatred still seethes inside me. First off, I hate fights where adds spawn that cant be tanked. The whole ‘burn them down before they hit you’ thing just irritates me, and back when his enrage timer was hard to hit and DPS were pretty much always on the adds, it was extremely irritating not to be able to just pick them up so DPS could just nuke them down. What the Saurfang fight did though, was take the irritating mechanic and make it literally painful by making the adds have normal threat tables and spawn on top of the boss. Use AoE threat moves in your normal tanking rotation? Good Luck. I remember the first time I tanked the fight alongside a Paladin – we had to kite the boss in circles or just simply run away from them because they picked up aggro on him so quick. It was annoying for me to have to stop hittting the buttons I’m so used to, it was even worse when a class that couldn’t avoid it was tanking.

What takes the cake on this fight, however, is how annoying the tank swap was. Back when we were progressing, if he got more than a tiny amount of health back from meleeing the tank with the debuff, we’d hit the enrage timer. That said, whats not great is to have a boss that really, really loves to have taunts miss on him. Seriously, back when we were first trying him, I had 2-3 taunts miss per fight (in most raids, I wouldn’t even have 1 taunt miss the whole night). I don’t know whether it was just me being really unlucky, but I actually went out and bought the glyph of taunting to make sure my taunts wouldn’t miss, just for this fight. Less of an issue for other classes, but a bloody pain for warriors. You only notice how long 8 seconds can be when you only have 1 taunt.

3. Malygos
Now, its a shame that Malygos is on this list, because the fact is that I really like the first 2 phases of the fight. Phase 1 really whipped me into shape as a tank, as it really tested my skills to be constantly aware of my surroundings, and quick at kiting while retaining decent amounts of threat. It’s actually a shame that phase 1 can be completed easily without the sparks, and that the sparks reaching Maly won’t mean he probably kills the tank, because getting used to tanking this fight was a real fun challenge and a nice test of your abilities to tank.

It is a shame, but it is on the list, simply because of Phase 3. Now, there are a lot of reasons why people hate this phase. First off, vehicle mechanics take away all of your own abilities to the point where you have to learn a complete new set. Secondly, with the dragons you not only have to know how to use them, you have to move in a 3D environment while fighting, which is a real pain in the ass (and the main reason people hate Oculus). Thirdly, because you don’t get the dragon until the end of the fight, you have to wait until you’ve cleared the rest of it until you can practise, which is really irritating when phase 1 and 2 were really difficult and only 1 in about 5 attempts actually saw you get to phase 3 with enough time to do it anyway. Fourthly, while flying around there are so many different lights and sparks flashing around the screen it can be difficult simply to see where you are and what you’re doing.

Those are all completely fair reasons for hating phase 3, but not the main reason for me. The main reason for me is that the mechanic to DPS with the drakes is so damn complicated. Once you wrap your head around how it works, and practise with it a little bit, you think to yourself ‘I guess its not that bad’, but even then its still possible to mess it up and ruin the amount of DPS you do with the drake. The fact is, the mechanic shouldn’t have been complicated. In fact, it should have been easy. Not only would no-one have complained if it was really easy (Gunship, anyone?), but it would have added flavour to the encounter without pissing everyone off. The fight would still have been difficult to do back in T7 gear, simply because phases 1 and 2 were anything but easy, but instead of reaching phase 3 and entering a world of pain, it should have just been ‘sweet phase 3, finish him off’. By making the enrage timer tight, they could have made it very easy to make phase 1 and 2 very important, so that if you screwed it up but managed to scrape your way into phase 3, you wouldn’t then just have the fight handed to you – he would enrage and you’d have to keep practising to get phases 1 and 2 done right.

Thankfully Blizz learned their mistakes and resolved a lot of the vehicle encounter problem with their next attempt – Flame Leviathon. I’ll talk about what they did right with it next week in my top 5 column.

2. Sindragosa
This horribly designed fight almost made it to no.1, but missed out on it just. However, just because its not top don’t think that I don’t hate it with every fibre of my being. The main issue with this fight is that it makes you wade through 2 phases which are very simple and boring, only to bombard you with things you need to do as soon as you hit phase 3. On some fights, a difficulty ramp-up works well (like Putricide), but in this fight it just feels like they’ve tried to shoe-horn in as many abilities as possible so that everyone will feel like they’re getting close to finishing the fight, as Sindys health gets pretty low, but will never actually get there.

Yes, I’ve done the fight several times now, so it is possible. The amount of loathing I have for this fight didn’t change when we first did it, however. A fight being difficult isn’t bad – in fact its something that can make it awesome. But Sindy doesn’t feel like a challenge, it feels like a slap in the face. Drudging through 2 phases of boredom to wipe YET AGAIN to RNG isn’t a good design. RNG should make fights more interesting, not impossible half of the time. Phase 3 irritates the hell out of me because it basically says ‘OK, you have to take this slow. Just keep up the general pace, and work through the tactics slowly, you’ll get there in the end… Oh yeah, by the way, we added an enrage so that you can’t take it slow. Enjoy!’

It’s bad enough that if a healer gets iceblocked while another gets the debuff you will very likely wipe, but to add on to that an enrage timer that isn’t doable if you go slow and careful is just horrible. When we do this fight right, we do manage it just before the enrage timer. But we have a 20% buff, there’s no chance we would have downed it before that, and our DPS isn’t always that bad. An awful fight, and I don’t think I know anyone who enjoys it.

Oh, and also…

‘Suffer mortals, as your pathetic magic BEEEETRRRRRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYSSSSS YOOOUUUU!’

Like nails on a fucking chalk board.

1. Faction Champions
Its tempting to say ‘words cant describe how much I hate this fight’ and just leave it at that, but I think I’ll have to try and convey the pure hatred I have for this encounter. First of all, don’t force PvP style combat onto people that don’t want to do it. It’s bad enough that we have our abilites and talents messed around with to balance arena, but to force a PvP battle on a raid group is just malevolent. Some of us don’t PvP because we don’t like it, but others of us (like me) don’t PvP because we’re very, very bad at it. I really don’t see the point of penalising a raid group because they don’t PvP well (or at all).

A lot of the reasons we wiped on this fight a lot when we were progressing (and still do), is simply because people aren’t used to a fight where they have to defend themselves and still be able to attack. Our DPS was always woeful because someone would either stand there trying a rotation and just get destroyed by a Bladestorm or Hellfire, or run around so much away from things that they’d never get any spells out at all. And even if the fight did eventually teach some people how to attack defensively – what was the point? THIS ISN’T ARENA. If people wanted to learn arena skills, they’d go do arena. They wouldn’t hope that a raid boss gets turned into a PvP style battle so that they can finally test out their skills.

There are a lot of reasons I hate ToC, and I won’t go into them now, but this boss fight had a lot to do with it, and is one of the main reasons I hate going back to do ToGC, simply because of how little I can do if we keep wiping on Faction Champions. As a raid leader, its my job to explain what to do on fights, and help any people that are having trouble, or work out where things are going wrong. On faction Champions this is completely impossible. Theres far too much going on to co-ordinate, and whether or not we succeeded was always down to RNG and if we could get enough DPS out on the healers before it had to stop because of people being targetted and the melee running out of interrupts. If we wiped, all I could say was ‘damn, OK try again, this time… nuke healers more… or something’.

The reason I lead raids is because I enjoy it, and this fight completely destroyed the experience for me. I always judge a fight on how people enjoy it, and this fight makes so many people cringe its unreal. Its a horrible fight to do, as a raid leader or just as a raider, and I hope we never see anything like it again. Most fights I can suggest improvements where certain things just didn’t work, but all I can say for this fight is that it should be scrapped, its awful in every way.

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