2 Dec 2011

Firelands Raid: In Review

The Hour of Twilight is finally upon us and Patch 4.3 has arrived. I’ve already dived into the new Dragon Soul raid instance a couple of times and I’m having fun with it, although I’m very keen to get into the later boss fights there.

Before I get too heavily involved in new stuff I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the raid we wave goodbye to. Firelands, also known as Tier 12, left me with a bag of mixed opinions. It had some really outstanding and enjoyable fights in some areas, but was marred by a couple of pretty annoying boss mechanics.

To help me explain I’ve put together a short video going through each of the seven different encounters. It helps to demonstrate some of the things I’m talking about, particularly if you’ve not done the encounters yourself.

Favourite Boss: Alysrazor

As a fire mage I really enjoyed this fight, usually because I was always the person that got picked to go airborne and attack Alysrazor directly. It was a simple enough mechanic – fly through the rings, avoid the clouds and do as much damage as possible. I also like that it’s a rinse-repeat fight – as long as you have the basic method under your belt then it’s just a case of holding it together until the boss dies.

The heroic mode is a variation on this – there are more things to look out for and the fight takes longer, but it’s building on what’s happened before instead of changing the fight completely. And by longer I mean long enough for Time Warp to come off cooldown and Temporal Displacement to wear off. That’s a long time to keep the fight stable for, but the payoff is worth it.

Worst Boss: Lord Ryolith

What do I hate about this fight? Where to start.

Firstly let’s consider the amount of crap happening on the ground. Magma eruptions, immolations, volcanoes, spell effects and so on. It’s like trying to dance on a patchwork quilt made up of fire and death.

Then there’s the huge amount of randomness involved in where the volcanoes spawn and which ones get set for eruption. Trying to steer a precarious lumbering giant over these volcanoes in the right order when DPS are switching between targets all the time is incredibly annoying.

And after all that pain, is the loot worth it? Debatable. No tier tokens, just some trinkets and random itemisation bits. Some of it can potentially be best in slot but it’s unlikely. So it’s an annoying boss, with really annoying mechanics and a crap loot table. And yet we have to kill him to open the 2nd part of the instance.

Most Annoying Trash: Giants before Baleroc

The four flame elementals before Baleroc aren’t too bad, but the two stone giants behind them are incredibly annoying. Why? Because of the heavy overuse of an unavoidable knockback. The trash does a knockback. He summons a volcano that spawns adds that knockback. Any caster in the group might just as well switch to instant spells or give up.

I’m just grateful they didn’t turn it into a bossfight mechanic…

In Conclusion

As I said at the start, Firelands was a mix of opinions for me. That said, the good outweighed the bad. On the whole I enjoyed the fights, their mechanics and the challenge it created. I liked that heroic modes weren’t identical copies of normal mode with more damage to avoid, but instead varied the fight phases and mechanics.

One aspect I’m undecided on is the disparity between 10-man and 25-man, particularly in the time it takes to assemble Dragonwrath. As a guild we haven’t managed to finish our first one yet from 10-man raiding, making me feel as if the grind-collection phase is just too long. On the other hand there needs to be some incentive for players to consider 25-man raiding, something which several guilds are struggling with at the moment.

The other thing I’m still on the fence about is having a single raid dungeon per tier. I’m not sure how many raiders decided to call it quits part way through Tier 12, but I’m sure that having a single raid instance per tier results in raiders getting bored from repeating content, and I’m not sure that heroic modes are the only answer to that. I would like more variation in my raiding diet, but I’m not sure about the best way to get it.

These are all my own opinions as someone who plays a mage exclusively. Your own opinions or experiences might differ, and that’s a great thing! Whatever your thoughts, please feel free to debate them in the comments.

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