Monday Musings: The Heroic Al’Akir Conundrum.   6 comments

I’ve put myself in a bit of a pickle.  Not the friendly kind of pickle that you may have played with your coach during baseball practice, but rather the kind that you see in a world series game where the players are vicious and it’s only going to be resolved through a risk on the runner’s part or the baseman’s part.  The kind of pickle that generally ends with the runner sliding into his base and a somewhat dubious call being made by the umpire that everyone will contest anyhow and will be analyzed in close up replays for the next four episodes of sportscenter.

The Pickle

A few weeks ago Brade and I began discussing Heroic Al’Akir, and more specifically were discussing how a lot of guilds were doing it on 10 man as opposed to 25 due to the relative ease of the encounter  on 10 man.  The pros to taking this approach were plentiful, including getting a set token that can be used for head/shoulders, and getting some experience with the encounter, which would be of benefit for everyone in the guild.  We figured we could take in a solid group to learn the fight over a night or two, and then rotate people in for the fight until we were ready to tackle it on 25s.

There were a few logistical problems, namely breaking down a 25 man raid team into 10 people and doing so without having irreparably hurt feelings.  But we generally consider ourselves pretty diplomatic folks, and knew we could work around this.  However, there was one big thing we overlooked: Heroic Conclave.

In all of our planning, we assumed no one would mind throwing away normal Al’Akir as we were sharding the loot anyhow and a lot of people just dislike the fight.  So we figured we could go in and knock out heroic 25 Conclave and then let the 10 man group that was working Heroic Al’Akir have the instance.  Only, it doesn’t work that way.  We didn’t fully comprehend/understand this (not really) “flexible” raid lockout.  It wasn’t until we scheduled our first run at heroic Al’Akir for Easter Sunday that someone spoke up and said “we can’t kill Conclave on 25 heroic”, and we realized that they were correct. 

We were fine skipping Heroic Conclave this week, because it was a short raid week due to Easter anyhow, and we wanted to maximize our time with heroic Nefarian.  But now we are between a rock and a hard place and there is a pretty massive flaw in our original conception of how this could work for us.  We couldn’t simultaneously run the two instances as we had envisioned.

Because it was already planned, the 10 man group went in last night, and after about 3 hours of work we were sitting at 41% on Heroic Al’Akir, just needing to tweak a few things to push phase 3.  At this point, it seems, well, wrong to tell this group “sorry we had our shot” and not let have another night to go in to finish it out.  Something that I’d like to think would only take one more sitting with him, especially if we can do it on a weekend with unlimited time to spend on it.  And there are some very solid benefits to continuing with this 10 man, I will not doubt that.

On the other hand, it also seems quite wrong to tell our 25 man team – which is our main progression team – that we are going to continue to forego their heroic conclave loot (which has many BiS items for many people) so that we can continue to clear out Al’Akir on 10 man.  I, honestly, just cannot find a way to justify it, even considering the set token, and even rotating everyone in for experience with the encounter until we get there on 25s.  We are a 25 man guild, and it seems wrong to me to ask 1/3 of our raid team to forgo participation.

We have already decided that we are going to give the 10 man one more week with it, but then after that we just can’t justify asking the 25 man to give up Conclave.  There was so much interest in heroic Al’Akir, that when we get there, it only seems right to push it on 25s regardless of the comparative difficulty. 

Now, of course, Brade and I are assuming that our 25s don’t want to give up Conclave – but perhaps we should ask them.  Maybe we are wrong, and more people would be more interested in a constant rotation into an Al’Akir 10 man for the kill during raid time than they would be in their BiS Conclave loot.  On the other hand, wouldn’t some of that BiS Conclave loot make our remaining heroic encounters easier?  Of course, opening it up the discussion has the potential to open up a whole new can of worms.  What if 70% of the people want one thing, and 30% want another?  How do we reconcile it for those 30%?

As you can see, quite the pickle! 

I’m curious how other 25 guilds are dealing with this situation.  Have you opted to kill Al’Akir on 10s?  Did you stick strictly to 25s?

My Frustrations With The Fight Itself

As I said above, after a few hours spent with the mean D’jin, we were very close to pushing out of phase 2 and into phase 3.  However, it was phase 1 that gave us the most trouble, and often times I was the cause of the trouble.  This is something that frustrated and exasperated me to no end – I am not that player.  I don’t make the same mistake multiple times, it’s not how I play.

Except last night, as we first started with phase 1, I was that player.  I died any number of ways in that first phase – I was fried, frozen and swept away.  I changed over to my Tol Barad trinket to help my survivability (and it did help in both P1 and P2) – but I was still having some difficulty navigating “the perfect storm” of events.  I got better at it, and about halfway into our raid night I stopped feeling like I was the person holding us back.  And a few times I even felt like I made the impossible possible, keeping everyone alive through what seemed an un-survivable situation.

But I think I can do better in that first phase.  And I definitely made some choices that, while kept me alive, caused me to lose one of the DPS I was also responsible for keeping alive.  Mercifully our DPS is good enough to get us out of that first phase with only two wind bursts, but it seems like an eternity regardless. 

Because of my own personal frustration and struggles last night, I thought I’d see if anyone had any tips/tricks that they might be willing to share – specifically with navigating the perfect storm.

Here is our setup:

I am the healer in the position to the left of the tank.  And I don’t know if it’s just because it’s happening to me, but it seems that my quadrant there, has the most difficult time navigating the shit storm during the wind bursts – as it seems I have an abnormally large number of wind bursts that line up with the squall lines.  Am I imagining this?

In all honesty, I think a little more experience with phase 2, so that we can get the timing of the adds sorted so we don’t drop our feedback, and a handful of pushes into phase 3 will result in a kill on the encounter.  Because, let’s face it, Phase 2 and 3 are fairly easy and not much has changed!  However, I’m determined not to be the one who holds us back in phase 1 next time we step into the fight.  I can’t be – while I was most definitely humbled by the experience last night, my ego can’t take it happening again.

Posted April 25, 2011 by Beruthiel in Hard Modes, Raid Leadership, Raiding

6 responses to “Monday Musings: The Heroic Al’Akir Conundrum.

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  1. I hate Al’Akir. With a fiery passion. Having said that, once we figured out the delay of Wind Burst via Electrocute on the tank, it simplified everything for us. The one issue is that our group to the left of the MT (in this case, you) kept getting screwed over if we did NOT delay the first Wind Burst.

    This is on normal 25, so I’m not sure how different the heroic 10 version is, but if you can get your MT to delay that first (and maybe subsequent?) Wind Burst, you should be fine. The group just left of the MT group all had huge issues once the MT group (me, the MT and a ranged DPS) had finally stopped dying to Wind Burst/Squall Line combos.

    Not sure it’ll be any help, but we finally stopped killing our resto shaman and two ranged DPS to our left by delaying the Wind Burst ’till the Squall Line had passed them and us. :)

    As to the 10 vs 25 thing… We haven’t deliberately dropped down to 10m for any progression. We originally let some keeners go to Throne to do Conclave on off nights while we killed stuff in BoT and BWD on 25 on raid nights. As a result, our guild first kill of Conclave was on 10-man. We’ll still let them go in on an off-night some resets, since we do NOT clear Throne every week.

    Having said that, I can’t imagine we would ever drop to 10s for progression’s sake. I say that now as we’re beating on heroic Chimaeron and heroic Maloriak, so maybe we’ll change our minds later on, but I would vote sticking to all 25-man.

    Apart from anything else, it takes FOREVER for guildox to put you back as “25-man” from “10+25″ in their rankings if you get a progression kill on 10. ;)

    • We have had mixed luck with the delay. It seems that it’s prone to always screw someone! (Just not me – which, you know I’m ok with! ;) )

      The first phase of the fight is just brutal on heroic. Two squall lines running, frost that is a massive slow and insane damage, and the wind bursts.

      I think what we’ve decided is that once it’s down in 10s, we will leave it to the guild to decide how they’d like to handle it – then we can see where to go from there!

  2. I have good news for you, Beru … there is no spot on that god-forsaken platform that will be free from the Sleet / Squall Line / Wind Burst combo, so even if you moved your position entirely, you’d still have to deal with that very frustrating combination.

    The way that we worked around it for our first kill (which was on 10HM), was to free ourselves to move around a bit if need be. Instead of sticking to the strict “group” positioning that we used on 25s (eg: thou shalt not move from your designated spade), we spread out around the platform so that no one person was on top of another. This meant that the distance anyone had to travel to get out of a lightning burst and stop chaining it to another player was very limited (and that our healers wouldn’t be frantically trying to heal two people chaining to one another for very long).

    Two healers were on the front with one healer (me, on my druid) in the back. This was similar to how you have it now, although from the looks of your layout, we were rotated one position clockwise. For phase 1 we operated in pure survival mode–move where you need to move to get out of the way of squall and lightning. IIRC, I did jump off the platform once to avoid a perfect storm, and survived the subsequent lightning only due to being topped before I jumped. Sometimes, we would wind up with 2 people in the same narrow sliver between lightnings and it was all we could do to live through it. But once we got the hang of it, and our disc priest switched into his pvp set to mitigate the effects of the sleet, we were able to consistently push into phase 2. And a kill wasn’t far off after that (the second time we saw phase 3, we killed him).

    As to how we handled the lockout for 10 versus 25, one week we ignored Throne entirely in 25s and the subsequent week all of us who did the 10 HM came into the 25HM Conclave kill on alts. The loss of loot was marginal, especially when most of the time we end up sharding the stuff.

    Best of luck to you and your team. It can be a maddening fight, but that Essence is definitely worth it. ^_^

    • So, I got better. So much better that I think I’d be bold enough to say that I had some pretty “clutch” windbursts in which I took the burst and then cat sprinted the squall line that was riding my ass.

      We went back in on Monday night – and it was ugly. In some ways it was almost worst than our first venture in, maybe we were just lacking mojo that night, I don’t know! We made more progress on phase 2 (33% with one of our DPS DC’d early into the phase) but we are still lacking consistency in getting into phase 2 in a fashion that will ensure success. And that was frustrating.

      We plan to go in on Saturday for what will (hopefully) be a kill – but Al’Akir may have a different plan, so we shall see!

      As for alts in the main raid – Brade has a DK tank that could fill in, and I could likely handle the healing on my paladin. Our mage has a priest I’d trust him to heal with, our hunter a mookin he’s skilled with. But I think that’s the extent of who would have an alt they could bring in. I think the biggest issue would be our tank – I don’t know if we’d have someone to fill in his role, as we are down a tank at the moment and recruiting. But it IS an idea that has some promise if we decide to keep at it on 10s and can navigate it :)

  3. Yes, certain positions do have an easier time with the wind burst/squall line combo. All of them have the combo line up at some point, but near the tank is the worst because the squall lines originate at his hands and converge, making a window where wind burst has a better chance of happening simultaneously because you have to dodge 2 squall lines in short order.

    On normal, its possible for the tank to jigger the timing of wind burst just a touch, but at the price of a tick or two of electrocute. I don’t know, never having tried heroic, if that’s an option in heroic…

    • I found that being more creative with my lateral movements really helped a lot. And maximizing things like Dash in a pinch. I could take a windburst with a squall line almost on me and dash around to the gap before I got picked up. It worked really well! (Unless, of course, there was lightning that I ended up chaining by being out of position for those 2-3 seconds).

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