Interrupted.   10 comments

Having spent the past two full raid nights with Heroic Omnitron Defense System, I’ve had a few things on my mind.  Including, but not limited to, if it’s ever appropriate to give a motivational speech to the raid that includes: “would you be willin’ to trade ALL the days, from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they’ll never take… OUR FREEDOM!”. Since I’m fairly certain that I can work it in somehow, I’ve been brushing up on my Scottish accent.

However, setting aside my closeted desire to emulate William Wallace, I’ve been mulling over the use of interrupts as an “interesting” boss mechanic.  We all know that Blizzard works hard to make encounters that are unique and “fun” – but from time to time I find myself facing certain mechanics in encounters that really just don’t seem very “fun”, and seem to be there just to make someone’s life miserable for the 5-10 minutes that the encounter is active.

For me, I’m finding that some of the interrupt requirements that we are seeing in this tier of raid content are more of a nusiance than an interesting mechanic of the encounter.  Now please don’t get me wrong – I don’t think that all of the encounters that have an interrupt requirement are poorly designed, and I do think that some are engaging for the raid, but there are a few that I really don’t find “fun” for either the player saddled with the job or the raid as a whole. In fact, I’m pretty sure we have an elemental shaman that weeps the tears of his ancestors every time we get to Maloriak in our raid week.

To better analyze the use of interrupts as an “interesting” mechanic, let’s break down the encounters of this tier of content that have a requirement, and rate them.

Maloriak – This encounter has two interrupt components to it, one which I find interesting and well done and one which I think is not interesting. Let’s address the latter first. Arcane Storm. In my opinion this is not an interesting mechanic. It basically requires one person to do nothing but sit on the boss with an itchy trigger finger just waiting to interrupt the second you see the cast start. The entirety of this encounter for the person given the task of interrupting Arcane Storm is to sit on the edge of their seat and pray that they don’t screw up and wipe the raid. Not particularly fun for them – or interesting as a boss mechanic.

Now if you take the other interruptible ability for this encounter, Release Aberation, I think you have the exact opposite. You have an ability that takes thought and strategy when interrupting. It’s interesting. Interrupt at the wrong time and you have, at worst, completely botched that pull or, at best, made it a lot harder for the raid to succeed. There is a reason to have interrupts beyond just blindly interrupting every time spell x is cast. And to me this is an interesting interrupt mechanic. I think it adds depth to the encounter, and enjoy it’s placement in the encounter.

Omnitron Defense System – Similarly to Maloriak’s Arcane Storm, I do not think that Arcane Annihilator is a particularly “interesting” mechanic. I don’t think that it adds anything but more stress to an already very active encounter – and it basically makes the 7-10 minutes of the fight hell for those assigned to the task – even if they only have to deal with it for 50% of the fight while Arcanotron is active.

Arcanotron already has several abilities that define him – and even more so in heroic – that having an interrupt mechanic that adds nothing but “interrupt every time he casts” doesn’t really seem necessary, and certainly isn’t particularly interesting. I’m fairly confident that all of our interrupters will tell you that they didn’t particularly have a lot of “fun” in the time we spent working on this encounter.

I absolutely think that they could have made a more interesting mechanic to pair with Arcanotron’s abilities to punish you if you failed to stop DPSing him when his shield went up.

Nefarian – I actually find the interrupts for this encounter to fall into the “interesting” category. They require teamwork and strategy to successfully execute, and they are present for one phase in a three phase encounter. During the course of the fight, your team has to break down your raid to make sure that you have all three platforms adequately covered for interrupts, you have to ensure that your interrupters have good communication on each platform, and you have to make several decisions with regards to how to handle the adds and Nefarian during the phase.

To me, the add phase adds a bit of depth to the encounter and is interesting for the raid.

Halfus Wyrmbreaker – Similarly to Arcane Strom and Arcane Annihilator, I don’t find Shadow Nova to be a particularly interesting mechanic. It is again basically assigning one person to sit on Halfus and pretty much do nothing but wait with an itchy trigger finger on his interrupt key. Halfus starts to cast: WIND SHEAR! I’m growing fairly confident that our poor elemental shaman are going to have to replace their keyboards/mice because they’ve worn out their wind shear binds.

Ascendant Council – There are two interrupts that have to be dealt with in this encounter. One I find interesting (Aegis) and one I find not so interesting (Hydro Lance). Let’s start with Hydro Lance – again simply another mechanic of the encounter that requires someone sitting full time on the boss just waiting for him to cast so the ability can be interrupted. Not particularly engaging or interesting. In fact – we’ve already seen this quite a few times on a number of other bosses!

However, the Aegis I find an interesting mechanic. It’s paired in with a damage shield, that requires you to bust the shield before your raid dies, and interrupt his cast (we’ve seen this mechanic in earlier encounters). This means that your raid not only has to get through his shield, but also needs to recognize when his shield is down and prevent him from continuing to cast. It requires some thought, and isn’t just blindly sitting on the boss waiting for him to cast to smash your interrupt key.

Cho’gall – Cho’gall is another encounter that I find the requirement of interrupts to be an interesting and engaging mechanic. Interrupting the adds on Cho’gall requires communication, team work, and won’t completely obliviate the raid if one person screws up. It doesn’t require one person to sit on the boss full time just waiting for a cast – rather it’s a short portion of the encounter that comes up regularly and can be easily handled with good planning and communication. In fact, I’d probably go as far as to say that dealing with the interrupting the adds is probably one of the least stressful part of the encounter.

In conclusion I think that interrupts can be an interesting mechanic in an encounter, but I don’t always think that they are. I think if the encounter is designed well the requirement of interrupts can add depth, but if it’s designed poorly it only adds tedium and is not a “fun” mechanic. I believe it’s probably not an easy balance to strike, and just looking at this tier of content it’s clear that the devs had some hits and some misses when working with this mechanic (in my opinion anyhow!).

What do you think of the interrupt mechanic? How would you change certain encounters that have an interrupt requirement that you dislike to make them more engaging and interesting?

10 responses to “Interrupted.

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  1. The interrupt does seem to be a new fad in encounter design for Blizz, and I agree fully that it can be done well, and not so well. Arcane Storm is giving my raid team fits right now in Maloriak hard mode, and when everyone is on that, we see what I am calling ‘overflow interrupts’ stopping the Aberrations from releasing.

    We have yet to work on Omnitron hard mode, but the way we are doing normal mode is a bit odd, at least coming from my last raid team. All of our damage doers stay on Arcanotron, right through the shield phase, with mages spellstealing and shaman purging. I assume this isn’t viable to do in hard mode?

    I really like interrupting in Nef as a resto shaman, it mixes things up a bit. However, I have the occasional miss (due to not gearing for hit). I heard that a future patch might address the miss chance of interrupts. That might help with some of these ‘not fun’ interrupt mechanics, giving healers (and tanks?) something to do as we begin to overgear fights?

    • For Maloriak we honestly found that the best way to handle the interrupts was to put one person on the Arcane Storms (elemental shaman) and have one person handle the Aberation Release (rogue/warrior/DK). This really prevents having “accidental” interrupts occur. If either of those two aren’t able (ice tombed, OOR, etc) – they call for help.

      We also found that getting a mod that lets you white list/black list things on the cast bar was essential. Ours favor a mod called Gnosis. They set it so that they ONLY cast they see is what they have to interrupt.

      As for ODS – I’ve never tried it in the way that you suggest, but I am doubtful that it would be viable for heroic. The casts would become so fast they wouldn’t be interruptable, and with any significant number of stacks a missed interrupt is going to be 3 dead people in your raid. We actually were so paranoid about missed interrupts that we assigned 4 people to handle them, in teams of two.

      I don’t really mind interrupting as a mechanic – if it has meaning, is engaging and not just 5-10 minutes of “don’t let x cast” every 10-20 seconds of the fight :)

  2. From a healer’s point of view, I would have thought that having something to do other than spamming one spell repeatedly or adding up strings of white melee damage would have been a welcome change and more DPS would have been excited about it. Sort of like some healers were excited about the idea of actually having to manage their mana and not having it be an infinite resource that caused you to overheal at will or not give any thought to why you were tossing out certain heals on someone.

    What bothers me about situations where interrupts are needed these days is that they can make or break the raid. In the past, an interrupt could get off (maybe two) and you would be OK. You could recover from that. If one gets loose on Nefarian, it’s almost guaranteed to be a wipe. You can’t come back from that. That’s a lot of pressure to put on someone.

    I would like to believe that the improvements to interrupts and their chance to miss will make things easier. Sadly, I see more examples where the interrupter was just not interrupting, rather than cases where it was attempted and missed.

    • I think you will find that most DPS are generally not hugely thrilled about tasks that pretty much gut their DPS. At least ours aren’t. They understand it has to be done, and we understand it’s going to have an effect on their output, but they sure aren’t happy about it.

      In my experience the “challenge” or intrigue found in DPS is striving to perform at the top. I don’t think I’ve ever heard any DPS say “Hey! I want to completely castrate my performance and handle interrupts because I find it to be a change of pace”.

      I don’t really so much mind that missed interrupts can be devastating to your raid, as much as I mind having uninteresting interrupts as part of an encounter mechanic.

  3. “Ice Lance”? maybe you meant to say “hydro lance” instead?

    • Hey – you know you are probably right. It’s quite possible that I mis-labeled the spell, but I’ve never claimed to be perfect.

      But because I’m in a bit of a mood today, forgot my glasses at home, and have a migraine – I’m feeling pretty unabashed and feel the need to offer you an example on how to have made that statement in a constructive way that wouldn’t have made me give my computer screen the finger upon reading the comment.

      If it were me, and I felt the need to point out one’s errors in a fashion that didn’t say “man, wtf does she know, she doesn’t even have the spell names right”, I would have probably had a go at it a bit like this:

      “Hey Beru, I see you referencing Ice Lance under the Ascendant Council’s abilities. I’m having trouble locating this particular spell in the aresenal of abilities in this encounter, but I do see a Hydro Lance ability. It seems to line up with how you were referencing Ice Lance, so I was wondering if maybe you meant Hydro Lance insteand of Ice Lance?”.

      Then again – what do I know? I can’t even get the abilities right. However, thank you for correcting my error, and I’ve modified my post to reflect Hydro Lance instead of Ice Lance.

      • nooo NOOO please don’t take the comment as a negative one! please!

        Thats the problem with the internet and all this damn writing instead of talking face-to-face, no-one ever sees or hears the way you say it and its easy to misjudge the way it was meant to come out.

        My apologies if it came over harsh, rude or any other way you think i meant it –

        Please allow me to explain how this comment came to be then, and set things straight: – our guild went from raiding 25 mans to doing 2×10 mans, and i was given the lead over one of those groups.

        Since i’m a fellow resto druid <3 i only know healing-related aspects of these fights, but becoming a RL puts these encounters in a whole new perspective.
        So, for me to be decent RL tonight i just fnished doing my homework on all these fights – which consisted of revisiting the encounters from a RL point of view.

        I was just finishing up my notes on each and every boss figh including tacs, abilities, spellnames, assignments and ofc the all-important interrupt aspects that these fights have, when i stumbled upon your post and i had a chance to cross-check what i had found with what you wrote.

        So, the comment was meant to be read in a manner similar to "wait, my newly written notes say something different from your notes, and since this is new for me aswell i'm not quite sure about it myself, so is this spell you mentioned the same one i think it is? because if its another then i'd like to know about it and not make a total fool out of myself tonight"

        Having said all that, i'm a regular here on this site, the url is in my bookmarks, and i read your rants with interest.

        I do not at all think "wtf etc etc", tbh you shocked me a bit by saying that as i'm known to be gentle and for some reason all guildies come knocking on my door with their personal problems, and if they were aware you wrote something like that about me it would be guild-forum-news by now, with lots of /w giggles the moment i log on.

        So, once again accept my sincerests apologies, i really did not mean to offend you or you work.

        About that migraine, might i suggest a nice walk outside to take in a breath of fresh air and experience the feeling of spring that is upon us.
        If that's not working consider some icecream, that always works ;)

        Regards / MrC

      • Fair enough :)

        I’m not often that snappy in a reply (actually, I’m pretty sure this is the first time) – it’s just so many people tend to put very little thought into how they phrase things in a medium that is notorious for being somewhat difficult to communicate, and I was in quite the mood yesterday, you just happened to comment the wrong way at the wrong time!

        In all honesty, any other day I probably would have just let the comment go. But yesterday was just the perfect storm and I have been growing increasingly frustrated with several things around the community (either a post for another time, or something to just ignore – I’ve yet to decide). One of those things include people who aren’t constructive. Like I said – just the wrong way at the wrong time! I promise I’m not always such a snarky bitch. ;)

        However, my point on how it cold have been phrased – so as not to have been misunderstood – still stands! In the future – just take a few more minutes to flesh out your thoughts for the reader so that they are clear and say what you mean them to say. Gentle giant or not – for those who don’t know you, all they have to go by are the words you use and how you use them!

        As for moving into a raid leader position, it’s tough! It’s hard to know that you not only need to meet your own expectations as a player, but also drive the bus in such a fashion that you don’t run over everyone on the way! If you ever have any questions, please feel free to toss me an email. I wish you the best of luck with it.

        I am regularly affected with Migranes. I have medication for them, but it makes me all loopy, so I hate to take it. It’s just part of life :)

  4. As one of my raid team’s primary interrupters (Frost DK, which is no resource, 10s CD), I’m in total agreement with everything you said. I do like the challenge of Maloriak, even if it does send me into stress fits (I manage the add releases, and nothing drives me up the wall than someone else interrupting them and disrupting my flow.) And the adds on Cho’gall aren’t too bad – I really like them actually, since if I’m running over and realize I won’t reach them on time, I know to stop short so I don’t get hit by their burst attack.

    But on fights like the Omnotrons and Halfus, it’s just like…really. Why. I guess it’ll be better once Tank interrupts can’t miss, and you’ll only have to trade off between a Tank and a DPS, but right now me and our feral druid have to be so meticulous about rotating our interrupts and not stepping on each others’ toes. I dislike the feel of it.

    Also, relating to Heroics, it seems a bad design choice considering that some DPS classes don’t HAVE short-CD interrupts, or in some cases, any at all. I’ve been doing Heroics as my BM hunter lately and absolutely dread any boss with an interrupt mechanic (the first bosses in SFK or ToT, for example) because I feel completely worthless. “Hey guys, be sure to interrupt him after he chokes us! I will just be standing here like a lump because I can’t help out.” It’s a bad feeling. :\

  5. Pingback: Monday Musings: Blackwing’s Bane Edition. « Falling Leaves and Wings

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