Hey, Watch that Shadow Crash! Thinking through General Vezax.   6 comments

The past week or so I have been living and breathing the General Vezax encounter in my mind. Our 25 man got to him last Monday night, and we just had one of “those” nights (you all know what I’m talking about, we all have them!). After a fantastic raid week, it was almost like we just ran out of steam. From bizzare multiple pulls of the boss during clearing the trash (FYI mirror image during trash clears in the room with Vezax = BAD), to just stumbling around the mechanics of the encounter.

All in all, we probably got maybe 2.5 hours worth of online attempts in on the encounter our first night…which was about 10 pulls. This fight has a number of things going against it with regards to the “learning” curve.

 First and formost is that you are up against a good bit of trash every two hours; which in itself is fine. However, this is the only boss in Ulduar so far that actually has a “run back”. There is no teleporter to take you right outside of the bosses room. And for the first time in quite awhile, we found it quicker to “recover” after a wipe then to have everyone release and run back. We set a five minute recovery benchmark, this means that everyone needs to be rezzed, buffed and ready to pull within five minutes.  Our pulls were averaging 5-7 minutes in length a peice; add another minute to that for everyone in the raid to wipe (FYI rogues, hunters and mages, just bloody well DIE already, so we can recover faster…PLEASE). That puts each attempt at roughly 10-13 minutes, which allows you approximately 4-6 pulls an hour.

On our first night of attempts with him last week, we saw roughly 64% and we were using a poor strategy with regards to positioning.  Since that time our 10 spent roughly two hours with him and netted a kill, with a less than optimal group.  Last night (Sunday), we got another 1.5 hours on him.  We had altered our positioning some, and we saw a number of pulls into the low 40′s with a fair amount of time left on the enrage timer…I thought we were going to see him dead!  But of course, as happens late in the night, we lost focus and it didn’t happen.  But never fear!  We still have tonight’s raid for this raid reset!

Positioning Strategy Thoughts

I still think that our strategy, with regards to positioning, needs some tweaking.

There are several things that work well in our current strategy that I think we will maintain.

  • We are not kiting the boss (even though our 10 man did a little, it was only for saronite cloud placement and not for reducing tank damage, there is no need for our 25 man to do so).  We have a DK tanking him, and he is using cooldowns during Surge of Darkness.  This works well for us, and we are not losing the tank.  As an added benefit we get to stay stationary.
  • We are running 7 healers.  I do not think that we need to change this.  6 of those healers are standing in melee range of the boss, with the responsibility of keeping the tank alive.  One mobile healer (me) is out with the range to help when they “oops”.  One fairly cheap lifebloom (they fixed our mana return on that spell for the encounter as far as I can tell) is enough to keep them in order, when needed.  Keeping the tank healers as stationary as possible is extremely helpful.
  • We are having a Death Knight on “Saronite Cloud” duty.  His job is to kill clouds for the healers.  He works them down, and then grips them into a spot for healers to use them.  This also works well.  Our casters either sneak into one of these clouds when needed, or use one of the two clouds we let them pop in the back of the room for them.

There is however, one aspect of the encounter that I think we need to change up a bit tonight, and that is our ranged positioning (keep in mind that you need to have 7 people at range at all times or he will start to shadow crash the melee and mark the melee).

  • Currently, we are having all of our ranged pile up in one huge group.  When the shadow crashes hit, EVERYONE moves from them.  The group then re-converges on themselves in the shadow crash puddle for DPS.  When a mark of the faceless hits, the person with the mark runs back.  Everyone else takes a few steps forward.  This strategy worked very well for our 10 man, but then again we were dealing with significantly fewer pepople.
    • Pros to this strategy:
      • It’s sheer simplicity.  The ranged do not have to worry about who is affected by shadow crash.  Basically, if there is a shadow crash EVERYONE just moves.
      • The ranged are guaranteed to always be in a shadow crash puddle and can DPS full time, except when they are moving from shadow crashes.
    • Cons to this Strategy
      • Your ranged have to be REALLY on top of their game every pull.  If they are out of position, even like 3 yards, they cause others to get hit by the shadowcrash.
      • Because there are 8 or so people grouped up taking advantage of the shadow crash puddles, it invariably means that when a mark of the faceless hits, 8 people are going to be affected for 1-2 seconds.  If you figure that it’s ~200k heals to the boss per tick, per person, that adds up to A LOT of healing on the boss!  Even with a mortal strike effect active.  This is offset by the extra shadow crash DPS done…but one person failing to move quickly enough out of the mark has disasterous consequences.
  • Tonight, I am thinking about making a few changes to our current strategy.  Almost every aspect will stay the same, except that instead of having just one shadow crash group, we will make two.  The two groups will stand 20 yards from each other so that 1) I can still heal both groups and 2) they can share the same green puddles if we pop one in the middle of the two groups.
    • Pros to this strategy
      • When mark of the faceless hits only 3-4 people will be affected, which means that there will be significantly less healing to the boss.
      • There is the possibility that a group that isn’t shadowcrashed, but has a shadow crash puddle down will not be required to move, and can increase DPS.
    • Cons to this strategy
      • Some of the simplicity is gone.  Ranged will now need to know WHO is in their shadowcrash group, so that they know if they need to run or if they can stay put and continue to DPS.
      • There may be periods of time when one of the two groups will be without a shadowcrash puddle, and will have to wand.  This has the potential to be a significant DPS loss for the raid.  However, this should be offset by significantly less healing done to the boss.

So there we have it…the dreaded Catch 22!  Which is better?!  From my research it seems that more people favor the “two ranged” group strategy.  I think that tonight, we may start the night breaking the ranged into two groups and see how that works, and if we find it helpful.  If it’s a disaster, we will go back to one group, but I think that we may find some success with the two group strategy.

OOM! – Healing without killing your mana!

So far, we have not really had an issue with healers failing to mind their mana, and subsequently the tank dying from a lack of heals.   I have, however, noticed that members with pre-TBC healing experiences are much better at mana management than those that picked up healing with the start of TBC.

Why is this you ask?!  Well, for anyone that was well versed in Vanilla WoW raiding, I’m sure the answer came quickly for you…cancel casting.  That is right!  You start to cast, but if the tank isn’t in need of a heal you stop your cast before it goes off.  While this is a little tricky for paladins rocking a fair bit of haste, it is important that it happens, or you will be OOM just minutes into the fight.  It is really important on this fight not to cast more heals than the damage needing healed.

Saronite cloud tips.  The magic number of ticks, I have found, is 6.  Get 6 ticks, which returns 3200 mana, and step out.  As soon as the debuff  falls off, step back in and you should get another 4-6 ticks.  Now…as a druid, if I am REALLY careful, I can hit barkskin, and rejuv myself and sneak in a 7th tick.  I do not recommend this for other classes.  I have been able to restore 3/4 of a bar of mana via smart saronite cloud usage.

Another thing that you want to keep in mind, is that you want to position yourself around the outer edge of the clouds.  If you stick yourself in the middle, you will take an extra tick as you are running out of the cloud, which may lead to your un-timely demise!

In closing I am hoping that the few changes that we make tonight will be beneficial, and our raid can finish this guy out and wipe a few times to Yogg!  I would love to hear any tips or advice that anyone else may have from their experiences with the encounter!

6 responses to “Hey, Watch that Shadow Crash! Thinking through General Vezax.

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  1. My guild favors the no-kiting strategy as well, and we did it with a prot pally. As for spreading out, we had 6 people, so it was a good bit easier! I imagine it gets more complicated trying to shift 15+ players around to keep them from banging into each other, hehe.

    But, I think the overall idea may still work: we split into “3 groups,” coupling a healer and a ranged dps, and each took up a side of an imaginary triangle centered on the boss. We’d share the puddles that were closest to our half of the room, and sometimes cross over to the other half as needed if the puddles in one side were sparse. Having a set 1/3 of the room as our individual “reset position” helped to keep us spread from leeches.

    *shrug* I haven’t seen the 25-man version myself, but maybe this 10-man strat will help?

  2. After-thought: yes, it required people to be very aware of who they were around and who was getting shadow crashed/leeched. We left it to an individual basis and relied on everyone to pay attention themselves and those around them, with the help of DBM’s warnings and auto-marks.

  3. Wish you and your guild luck tonight!

  4. Just for anyone that may be curious. . .

    The two camp strategy worked well for us tonight =) After a few heartbreaking wipes between 3% and 15% we managed to pull it together and get him down. /cheer!!! We also got to go in and get a few Yoggy wipes under us.

    Once our ranged got their grove, we did well. We did stick with 7 healers and pushed through before the enrage timer. However, a few missed interrupts at the end of the fight meant we lost some DPS late…which made it a very close shave (I think 12 seconds left on the enrage timer) and an exciting win!

    So to sum it up, while it makes you push closer to the enrage timer, the two ranged camp strategy is definately a safer method, at least for us. (Just as a side note, our 3% wipe the previous pull had almost 2 full minutes left on the timer when we fell apart, and I suspect that as we get a few more kills under our belt, and some gear upgrades, we will see ourselves further and further out from that timer).

  5. Congratulation for all the hard work!

  6. Thanks for this write up!

    We haven’t gotten to GenVez yet, but when we do you can be certain I’ll be rereading this post =D

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