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?