We have had a fantastic raid week this week, and had actually finished our targeted goals very early in the week, which meant when we got to our raid night on Sunday we had only two bosses left up: Sindragosa and Lich King, and had two nights to kill them. Not wanting to waste raid time we debated heavily how to structure our raid last evening. Do we jump ahead and start Sindragosa Hard Mode work? Our next targeted Hard Mode is Lady Deathwhisper, so if we started Sindragosa Hard Mode it is possible that we wouldn’t be coming back to work on it for some time. That and we are seriously considering doing Putricide before Sindragosa, as from all accounts we’ve read, and our 10 man experience it’s supposed to be the easier of the two.
Thinking everything through, we just weren’t sure that we wanted to dive into HM Sindragosa just yet. So we decided that we’d go ahead and make attempts on something else Sindragosa related…her Meta Achievement: All You Can Eat. This achievement requires that no one in your raid receive more than 5 stacks of Mystic Buffet while killing Sindragosa. It’s arguably the most difficult of the Meta Achievements with fewer than 1% of all 25 man guilds in the world having completed it, and we knew that it was going to be a challenge for our guild. We have a range of players with different strengths and weaknesses, and this particular achievement leaned towards some of our weaknesses (such as awareness).
We went into the night with a plea for patience from the guild, not having any experience with this achievement on 10 man, we were all going to learn together. We toggled on guild bank repairs, and had provided flasks for the evening. The only thing people were out for the night was their time while we made attempts at the achievement. Just so you aren’t waiting in suspense until the end of the post…we missed the achievement, but not for lack of trying! We came heartbreakingly close all night and saw a number of ~3% wipes before someone hit 6 stacks, and in our final “hail mary” attempt of the evening, where we were killing her regardless, only our tanks hit 6 stacks and that was only because of a mistake. While we won’t spend another full evening attempting the achievement again, unless it’s the last thing we need, we will probably set aside a handful of pulls each week to keep making attempts at it if we have the time.
But what is most interesting is that contrary to how I thought I might feel at the end of the night, I think we actually had an extremely productive night. I can hear you now…wtf Beru, you spent 5 hours trying for an achievement you didn’t pull off and you thought it was productive?!?! You need your branches examined! And to that I would like to say that we learned A LOT of things about the fight by working through this meta that will invariably assist us as we start pushing through Hard Mode, and I think will clean up on normal kills until we get to that point.
Let’s go over what this achievement will teach you, and where trying to learn it can potentially help you learn the boss better:
1) 5 Hours of Anything will eventually wear out all the patience that you have. I want to give kudos to my guild for sticking it out…and mostly it was a lot of fun. People really were very patient up until about the last 45 minutes of the night. And it’s slightly unfortunate, because for some people who made their first mistake in that last 5 hours…they got the brunt of everyone’s OMG JUST WATCH YOUR STACKS ALREADY cooped up frustration. I’m actually very curious if the next time we get to the dragon, and we aren’t on 5 hours of burnout trying to manage debuffs if we won’t nail this achievement. I’m going to go with 50/50 here. However, if you are going to push anything for an extended period of time, I do think that the fact that we, the guild, covered all of the expenses for raiding for the evening went a long ways to keep people’s frustrations low.
2) You learn who does not have their UI set up in such a way to alert them to certain key aspects of encounters. For this encounter, we told everyone “your number one priority, whoever you are, is not to let that stack get over 5…in fact, unless you are a tank it should never go past 3”. At the start of the night, lots of people were unaware of where their stacks were…or if they were still accumulating stacks when they thought they were out of LoS of the dragon.
We had some people that never hit 5 stacks for the duration of the night. I was one of them, and I will admit that by the end of the night I was ready to scream: “I CAN WATCH 25 BLOODY HEALTH BARS, CAN KEEP ALL OF YOU ALIVE, AND CAN KEEP MY STACKS UNDER CONTROL WHAT IS YOUR MALFUNCTION!!!!!!”. Luckily my brain to mouth filter was intact, so this dialogue stayed safely tucked away in my head =)
We had some people that really struggled early on getting their stacks dropped, but that improved throughout the night to where they didn’t let their stacks pile up. And of course by the end of the night, we had people who hadn’t made errors earlier in the evening making mistakes…quite possibly due to exhaustion.
In reality, though, you really do need to have something to help you monitor your stacks. Just watching your debuff without something in your face is just asking for trouble. I’d recommend a Power Aura’s setting, but you can track it in Grid as well. Below is the Power Auras setting that one of our hunters (www.tusks.wordpress.com) did up and I adopted. It says : HI! You have mystic Buffet, it tells you how many stacks you have, and tells you how long that you have before it drops. This helps you monitor when you are afflicted and if your stack is dropping. I found it extremely helpful.
Here is the export for it if you are interested:
Version:st3.0.0E; gcd:bofalse; b:nu1; anim1:nu1; g:nu1; optunitn:bofalse; ignoremaj:botrue; stacksLower:nu0; target:bofalse; icon:stInterfaceIconsSpell_Arcane_Arcane03; size:nu0.75; torsion:nu1; r:nu1; y:nu-98; x:nu340; customname:st; groupany:botrue; isAlive:botrue; timerduration:nu0; unitn:st; bufftype:nu2; stacks:nu0; focus:bofalse; raid:bofalse; texture:nu2; alpha:nu1; aurastext:st; symetrie:nu0; owntex:botrue; isResting:nu0; duration:nu0; mine:bofalse; multiids:st; inVehicle:bofalse; speed:nu1; anim2:nu0; buffname:stMystic Buffet; stacksOperator:st>=; realaura:nu1; threshold:nu50; exact:bofalse; spec2:botrue; textaura:bofalse; InactiveDueToState:bofalse; wowtex:bofalse; groupOrSelf:bofalse; customsound:st; combat:nu0; id:nu21; inParty:nu0; HideRequest:bofalse; Active:bofalse; aurastextfont:nu1; inRaid:nu0; tooltipCheck:st; customtex:bofalse; stance:nu10; isSecondary:bofalse; thresholdinvert:bofalse; spec1:botrue; Debug:bofalse; beginSpin:bofalse; Showing:bofalse; UseOldAnimations:bofalse; begin:nu0; off:bofalse; party:bofalse; texmode:nu2; inverse:bofalse; ismounted:bofalse; targetfriend:bofalse; randomcolor:bofalse; sound:nu0; finish:nu1; timer.InvertAuraBelow:nu0; timer.dual:bofalse; timer.HideLeadingZeros:bofalse; timer.h:nu1.25; timer.ShowOnAuraHide:bofalse; timer.UpdatePing:bofalse; timer.Texture:stDefault; timer.enabled:botrue; timer.Showing:bofalse; timer.DurationInfo:nu10742.896; timer.lastShownLarge:nu0; timer.lastShownSmall:nu10; timer.y:nu-124; timer.x:nu289; timer.CustomDuration:nu0; timer.Transparent:bofalse; timer.a:nu1; timer.HideRequest:botrue; timer.id:nu21; timer.cents:botrue; stacks.a:nu1; stacks.Showing:bofalse; stacks.HideLeadingZeros:bofalse; stacks.enabled:botrue; stacks.y:nu-31; stacks.h:nu2; stacks.id:nu21; stacks.Transparent:bofalse; stacks.UpdatePing:bofalse; stacks.lastShownValue:nu1; stacks.x:nu216; stacks.Texture:stDefault
However, what this tells me about my raid is that some people aren’t optimizing their UI for important things. This is something that can be fixed, and that we can work on fixing. For some folks, just getting the power aura setting as we were learning the fight was all it took for them to realize when they have stacks that aren’t dropping. Before we go in next week for Sindragosa, we are going to make sure everyone has their UI set up on this fight to acknowledge important things.
Where will this help us in hard modes? Well, in addition to mystic buffet, it gives us the opportunity to know who isn’t using a good method to track their backlash/instability stacks and will blow our raid up, or our melee who are ignoring chilled to the bone and killing themselves. In essence, it gives us the opportunity now to get people’s UI in order before going in and having our face wiped on the floor in HM.
3) Practice, Practice, Practice
One of the things that this effort allowed us to do is spend a lot of time in phase 2, and get some good practice in for HM where missing being behind an ice block will kill you. Throughout the night, people put more focus on making an effort to do this properly as we called out who just died, or what would have wiped the raid. We had some pulls where only one or two people got nicked by the frost breaths…of course we had some where an early ice block free would have wiped the raid. But it gave us an opportunity to practice perfecting a part of the fight before it became “important” and would have been “sink or swim” in hard mode.
The other great thing it did was really make everyone focus on the frost tombs in phase 3. Sure…we’ve been killing this boss for months. But sometimes we are still sloppy as hell in phase 3. Doing an achievement that focuses solely on execution in phase 3 really cleaned up our phase 3. I would even go so far as to say that our kill last night, while missing our achievement, was probably our cleanest execution in phase 3 ever. After last night’s efforts, I think we will see cleaner phase 3s all around, and I think having spent the time really working out our execution in the phase is going to pay off as we start to focus on her in our hard modes. After all, phase 3 is all about execution.
4) The Glowing Part of Her Neck Bases your LoS
One of the trickiest things to this is thinking you are out of LoS, only to find out you’re not as your mystic buffet stack creeps up and you start to panic. I believe that we decided that the portion of her body that you need to be out of line of sight of is her neck where all of your spells go flying when you cast on her.
Why is this so important? Because when your tanks taunt and flip the dragon, this position changes and you need to make adjustments with your placement in relation to the ice block to ensure that you stay out of LoS to drop your stacks. My recommendation is to make a macro that attempts to cast a spell at the dragon (this is in addition to the OMG YOUR MYSTIC BUFFET STACKS warning you have set up). When you get behind your ice block, and right after the tank taunts and readjusts her LoS, spam your macro. If the spell goes off, you are in LoS and will not drop your stacks.
Additionally, be extremely careful with the Z axis. That is to say, never stand *on* the ice block in such a fashion that the ice block is raising you off of the ground. We found that this causes problems where you are clearly out of LoS, but the change in your Z axis registers you as not being out of LoS and prevents you from dropping your stacks.
5) Alternative Solutions
One of the other things that really helped is that in order to work on the achievement, we changed up our phase 3 strategy some. And we liked some of the changes well enough that they may stick around into our permanent strategy. We had a lot of feedback from people on what they liked and didn’t like, and in the end I think it’s going to improve our overall execution on the encounter.
We adjusted so that the prior ice block wasn’t killed until the next ice block was formed, which helped a lot. We adjusted so that our melee’s sole job was to deal with the breaking of ice blocks (as to not risk their stacks)…and it turns out a number of our melee felt that was a far better strategy for dealing with the ice blocks. I don’t know that it will translate into HM where we will likely need their DPS on the dragon in phase 3 with casters being severely limited while afflicted with unchained magic…but it gives us an alternative solution to consider.
In the end, I’m really happy we spent the time on trying to work through the achievement. While I am sure that there are some people who think that this achievement is super easy, and that if you couldn’t do it in ~5 pulls you are just terrible, I’m here as a raid leader for a guild that has varying strengths and weaknesses to tell you that it is, in fact, a challenge. Not only that, but that you can learn a lot (and some of it new) about a fight that you’ve had on “farm” for months. I have no doubt that a good deal of what we learned will carry over into every kill that we have on her and will have saved us some grief as we go into hard mode work with her. I also have no doubt that we will see this achievement under our belts sooner rather than later. If you are struggling with phase 3 of the encounter, I might recommend trying to learn it with the achievement, largely because it teaches your raid to stay focused and pay attention to what is happening in phase 3…which in the end is all about execution.
What about you? Have you tried this achievement in your 10 or 25 mans yet? If you’ve done it in 25s, what is your experience with having it executed cleanly by all 25 of our raiders?