We have now had our second week in Ulduar, so I thought I’d opine on what I think of the zone again!
Both our 10 and 25 man progression is now identical, both sitting at 10/14 bosses down. I am quite pleased with this, and think that our guild has done a fantastic job not only preparing for the zone, but coming in and getting the job done. Our 25 man raids for roughly 20 hours a week, and has really risen to the occasion with the raid time that we have!
Our 10 man (aka Mono Lab) threw themselves mercilessly at Mimiron for about 3 hours last Saturday, and was regularly making it to phase 4, when we opted to give it a rest for a bit and do some additional off line preparation for our next run at him. Our 25 man bested Thorim at the end of our raid last night, there were new helms and much rejoicing, and hopefully means that we will get some face time with Mimiron this coming raid week.
For the most part, I have really enjoyed the bosses that we have experienced this far. I find the design to be fairly unique and different in nature, with each encounter bringing a new challenge to our raid. We have been running 3 tanks, 7 healers and 15 DPS in the zone. On fights that do not require a multitude of tanks, they have been working on their DPS output. Thus far, we have not run into any encounters where our DPS, when performing properly in the encounter, were unable to meet the threshold required of them. We have solid DPS, but generally speaking they aren’t breaking any records. This leads me to believe that this is a fairly solid composition for this zone.
I have generally found many of the encounters to have some bursty tank damage, and have been assigning 3 healers to the tanks. Additionally, I am finding that there is a tremendous amount of raid damage on almost all of the encounters and have been putting 4 healers on the raid. I will state that we wipe more times from raid healing failing/dps dying (not always at the healers hand!), than we do from tank death issues. Generally I have been putting our druids, holy priest, and shaman on raid healing duty, leaving our paladins and disc. priest for the tanks. However, on some of the more burstier tank healing fights, or fights where healers are locked out of healing for periods of time (such as Ignis, for example), I do assign a druid to the tank to smooth over those periods of healing.
One thing that our raid has always struggled with quite a bit is situational awareness. This has been our Achilles heel for as long as I can remember (No, hun, Doomfire is NOT something you can dance and play in, no matter how pretty it is!). Something that we have done to help counteract this is to very specifically assign locations for encounters where this is going to be an issue. We also stress the effects that we need our raiders to focus on during the encounters, and give reminders of how to avoid falling into certain pitfalls. To help people be more aware, we publicly run failbot. This is a mod that collects data on different ways people die, and is encounter specific. So, for example, if someone ate a void zone on Sartharion, failbot collects that data, and announces it. This has helped with getting people more focused on their surroundings, and gives cold, hard numbers on their struggles with this aspect of play. While it may seem harsh, it really is an invaluable tool for learning and repeating success.
As a healer in these encounters, I am definitely feeling pushed. There is so much damage flying around, that I rarely feel that I can move off of my healing assignment for a second. I definitely feel that I am being challenged, and I am constantly looking for ways to perform better, which is exciting! While I am not mana constrainted, per se, I am definately aware of my mana, and have made use of my innervate more than usual.
After my initial disappointment with the zone, I am feeling much better about things in our second week. Instead of dreading raids, buggy encounters and server lag, I am once again looking forward to raids! I find the fights challenging and fun. I still feel that Blizzard rushed the patch, which is why we see so many bugs, and over-tuned encounters that they have to later go back and fix. However, the zone is gorgeous and the encounters a lot of fun.
After my second week, Ulduar gets a stamp of approval from me. I can’t wait to see Yogg-Saron!