Makings of the Mundane – A Look at Heroic Spine   19 comments

I was going to post a huge rant about just how awful the Heroic Spine of Deathwing encounter was, but when push comes to shove, I think I said it all in the guild update I posted after our kill. As such, I thought I might just repost that here, mostly because I feel it says so much while saying so little. Don’t worry! I will also offer a few additional thoughts afterwards, along with the video of our kill.

I have been raiding in WoW for over seven years. I’ve seen encounters that you had to spend two months farming BRD for fire resist gear, encounters where you wiped 50 times just trying to get into the room, encounters where you had to have a special macro to throw the damn ball, encounters where you learned just how bad people were at staying out of the bad, encounters where your pathetic magic betrayed you, encounters where all you want to know was who missed the fucking interrupt and encounters that took you 388 pulls to kill. But never, in those seven long years, have I partaken in an encounter that was as lackluster and mind numbing as Heroic Spine of Deathwing. I can honestly say that this encounter had zero redeeming factors.

In fact, this encounter was so bad that you were frustrated and bored with it before you even took your first pull. Let’s look at it shall we?

“Hey guys, we are going to pull Spine”

“uh..I’m going to need a minute”

“Are you ready yet?”

“No, really, are you ready yet?”

Once you finally got everyone back and ready to pull, you damn near had to reflask. Of course, then you spend the majority of your time working spine doing the following:


“No, really, GRIPS”

*%&^ing GRIPS!

Needless to say, everyone was quite pleased to be finished with this mind numbing experience. We can only hope that Blizzard fired the dev team responsible for creating the encounter, and that we never, ever see another fight this mundane again.

In all seriousness, this was truly the least dynamic, most mind-numbing encounter that I’ve ever experienced. Let me see if I can articulate a few of the reasons why I feel this way.

  • Half of your raid literally has to go respec and/or reforge specifically for this boss. Our Rogues go Subtlety, our Mages go Arcane, our Warriors go Fury, our Moonkin reforge mastery and change their glyphs, the list goes on and on.  It’s not only a huge momentum killer if you hit him in the middle of your raid night, but it’s costly and a huge pain in the ass for everyone involved. But not only that, it’s stupid that a raid team has to completely alter everything they are doing for an entire content tier because they have to push burst damage six times, for 18 seconds a burst, over the course of twelve minutes. Tip: Don’t ever armory anyone working spine progression if you are looking for their main spec, they probably aren’t using it!
  • It’s basically a twelve minute DPS check where only 1.8 minutes of your DPS matters. During the time your DPS doesn’t matter, you are pretty much repeating the same action over and over again. Did I mention that this is a twelve minute fight?
  • You stand in the same place, staring at the same drab scenery, and move a few feet left or right every 4 minutes or so.
  • There is a lot of pointless busy work. I think the best example of this is the debuff that goes out on the raid. Sure, it boosts people’s health. Sure, you try to get it to your tanks and spread it on the raid after that. But really? It’s not an interesting mechanic – it’s just kind of there.
  • You repeat the same dance over and over again for twelve minute. Once you’ve mastered how to break grips, time amalgs, clear the debuff from people and DPS the tendons – you simply rinse and repeat 5 more times as a ridiculous amount of blood amasses and you pray that your kite tank doesn’t have a hiccup in his kiting, resulting in having to start the whole painful process over again. I have honestly never felt that healing was like “whack a mole” until I healed this fight. I quite honestly spent the encounter looking at my raid frames going “who has the debuff” *rejuv* *rejuv* *SM* *rejuv*. There aren’t any particularly “interesting” decisions to make, you are, quite literally, just moving through the mechanics of the fight. In fact, a monkey trained to hit the right button when he sees the debuff graphic could replace me on the encounter and no one would know the difference.

Someone asked me “is it worse than H Rag” at my decree that it was the worst fight I’d ever done – and the answer is “absolutely”. The mechanics of Heroic Rag are interesting, and I never took an issue with the underlying mechanics of the fight. What I took an issue with was how the encounter flowed. I think that if the devs could have kept all of the mechanics the same, but changed the flow of the fight it would have been a great encounter. Heroic Spine, however, just falls completely flat in every aspect. Sure, you get to soar on Deathwing’s back, but there just isn’t anything interesting or engaging about the encounter. And after polling my guild, the general consensus was that it was equally painful and boring from every perspective.

I was, very honestly, dismayed when I saw Daelo’s post mortem where he indicated he thought that the Spine encounter was a huge success. Either he’s incredibly out of touch, or he never worked through progression on the Heroic version of this encounter. I can only hope that enough people speak up, and that those voices are heard, so that the devs know that this encounter was not fun or engaging, and we never see another encounter like this designed in the future.

If you have a different take on the fight, I’d love to hear it! I’ve yet to talk to a single person who enjoyed their work on Heroic Spine, so I’d love to hear a differing perspective, if one exists.

And, after all of that, if you have the mettle, feel free to watch the video! I at least tried to put it to some fun music.

Posted March 14, 2012 by Beruthiel in /rant, Raiding

19 responses to “Makings of the Mundane – A Look at Heroic Spine

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  1. Still working on it, but, yeah… reforge all mastery to crit for fight, reforge back to mastery straight after. Unfortunately I’m not one of those people with endless gold, so it’s pretty expensive for me. I hope we kill it soon.

  2. We’re also working on it.

    As a rogue, I have a specific H. Spine spec I change into before the fight, I change multiple pieces of gear over to less-expertise-laden pieces, change all my reforges, one of my glyphs, and stock up on extra stacks of Wound Poison for my daggers.

    All in all I’d estimate it takes me about 400g per week to reforge into/out of my Heroic Spine setup for several hours of banging my head against the wall.

    I do like pushing my numbers for those few seconds, trying to nail my rotation so I can get the tendon down, but the rest of the encounter is a dull waiting game. When someone screws up a dispel or a grip and gets you killed and you have to start it all over again, it gets frustrating.

    • Good Luck! 🙂

      And yes, we’ve taken to just giving a 15 minute break when we get to spine, and when we finish with spine. Just for people to go get their gear back together.

  3. At least you get to see it on heroic difficulty where your burst DPS actually matters and there’s actually a sense of peril (however faint). On LFR difficulty it’s positively mind-numbing.

  4. I’m just wondering if a lot of the issues with this fight (on Heroic) could have been avoided by making the tendons level 88, and decreasing health slightly. Everyone’s gear is optimized for boss level anyways, and making the tendons boss-level would have avoided the “re-optimization” issues.

    Also, I do think Daelo was talking more about normal difficulty, and I think he’s right. It’s a pretty good fight on normal difficulty.

    • I think that they upped the level of the tendons some time ago, so people had to remain hit capped. The issue is that some specs aren’t “top dps” specs over all, but are top single target burst damage specs. And because those specs require different stats you are still stuck playing the respec/reforge game. 😦 We’ve taken to just giving a 15 minute break when we get to spine, and another when we finish with it, so people can go take care of their gear.

      It’s ok on normal. But that is one of three raid sizes. If it’s failure on two of the three, I don’t think that constitutes a “success”. Successful fights, I would think, are ones that translated into fun and interesting encounters on all three iterations of the fight.

  5. I agree with you I thought this fight was terrible, a fight should not be balanced around an 18 second burn. As a warlock I was painfully aware that the only reason to take me was 8% magic damage taken and 5% crit and as a raid leader I don’t like benching players because their class is bad at a fight, luckily our hunters understood but it still didn’t feel fair. On top of this it felt fairly lackluster to me that both deathwing fights are effectively elaborate trash.

    Having said this you asked if anyone enjoyed the fight. I would like to point you to our warrior tank who did the kiting. He claims he really enjoyed the fight unfortunately he is also the officer responsible for updating the kill shots on our website so despite the rest of the guilds feelings we got this abomination of a caption on our kill shot.

    “Epic fight, really really fun, fantastic work by all”

    Needless to say many of us didn’t agree…..

    • haha, I think people would have revolted if I posted that it was a “fun” fight on the front page!

      I agree, it was poor fight design to have an encounter balanced on an 18 second burn. It was ripe for class stacking. Not to mention that at it’s inception it was also apparently balanced around how many legendaries you could shove into your raid.

  6. Probably the most common quoted frustration with this fight was this – “You mean having to stack 5 mages and 4 rogues and 3 Resto Shaman isn’t good design?”

    Madness will introduce the next joy and RNG mechanic – Random deaths while jumping from platform to platform

    • We’ve been pretty lucky with the jumping so far *knocks on wood*. It seems if people remember not to do any movement enchancers they are ok, we’ve spent about 4 hours on Madness so far and are trying to work out the second parasite on the fourth platform (amongst other learning pains…like why did the tank die, why did you blow up the raid, etc). I’m optomistic for a kill soon-ish 🙂

      But yes, any fight that makes life easier with severe class stacking is just not well done, I’d agree!

  7. Ugh. Right now we’re not even fighting H Spine anymore, we’re fighting our tank’s computer. We get to P3, his FPS goes down, he goes splat. Yay, now we have to spend 10 minutes getting to that point again! When we we working on normal Spine I thought the healing absorb debuff would be really hard to heal on heroic. Reality? Trained monkey indeed. Rejuv, rejuv, rejuv, rejuv, rejuv, alt tab, read a blog post, rejuv, rejuv…

    But I have to say it feels easier than H Rag. Not more interesting, but easier. We never managed to kill Rag, even after 3 months or so. Spine will go down in a month. If Madness is indeed easier, I will finally be able to say I killed the final boss of a patch on heroic. I hope the boredom won’t kill me before that 😛

    (P.S. Your blog insisted I had to log into my account… weird, I was able to comment without it until now oO)

    • It’s definitely “easier” than Heroic Rag for sure. It’s just horribly designed from top to bottom! Good luck with both spine and madness!

      I’m not sure why it required you to log in, I didn’t change anything that I’m aware of. Maybe it’s in the newest WP update?

  8. Both of the deathwing encounters suffer from excessive repetition, I think it would have been better if they had fused them into one encounter, run a plate on DW that requires killing both tendons, then segue directly into a no buff platform on madness, and then phase two madness. It would have made for a more interesting fight than “Ok, we’re going to do the exact same thing, but it’s slightly harder this time!” again and again.

    • I think they were worried about how to make the fight without making it too long. But what they did currently is certainly not particularly interesting, that is for sure 🙂

      • I disagree, I think they were trying to bloat the instance up as much as possible. Two tendons, one platform, then the burn would actually take less time than the 15 minute grindfest that is Madness, much less the time spent on madness plus the time left on spine, add in all the unskippable RP sequences, and the joke that is ultraxion trash, and the bifurcation of the deathwing encounter, it looks to me like they designed the instance so that it couldn’t be cleared in less time than it took to complete an LFD 5 man. I’m really dissatisfied with T13 content.

  9. I rofl’d at the reforging macro…. screw stopping in the middle of the evening. Especially when Blizz intends to take our precious Have Group Will Travel away. And then at “Grips….. GRIPS. WOW SERIOUSLY. GRIPS.” That is like the whole damn fight. 100% accurate to how spine goes.

    Also with a bonus helping of, “More cleave.” “Stop cleaving!” “Help with cleave?” “LESS FUCKING CLEAVE” “WOW STOP CLEAVING” “I need 5 more adds…” etc.

  10. Pingback: The 5 worst raid encounters in Cataclysm | Owned Gamers

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