So then, about these new heroic dungeons……
Even though I am a relatively new player (since just before Wrath came out) I seem to recall that once I hit 80 on my main (a few weeks before Ulduar patch) heroics were still quite easy. My warrior ran as both a tank and a dps, and on the whole you could be expected to complete it with relative ease. Maybe a wipe or two but nothing too bad, and this back when most of us were in iLevel 200 and not many people in full 213-219 participating in HCs.
Then Cataclysm arrives
Fast foward to the Cataclysm expansion and suddenly everything has changed. Normal dungeons while levelling are actually difficult at the level unless you have run them repeatedly and have all appropriate level blues, even at 85 the normal level instances (Grim Batol, Halls of Origination and Lost City) can trip you up if you gear is lacking or you are not careful.
Enter The Lost City of the Tol’Vir…. on heroic…..
Now onto the HCs, I tried my first HC over the weekend (healer ofc). It was Lost City and probably the instance I know best from the expansion. We carefully walked in, cc’ed where appropriate and succesfully cleared the trash to the first boss. He was tough and I lost both my clothies to him, but we survived, rezzed and continued. The croc was a little challenging but the clothies and us ranged types ran up the statues so the adds couldn’t reach us. Croc went down fast but the little guy nearly got the tank. Again, the trash to the third boss presented no real problem (though I ninja pulled a pack before cc and we lost a dps before the tank and myself got aggro and healz under control).
The prophet Barim however was something else compared to the first two bosses. The first 50% was not too bad and we got through the extra damage of fifty lashings but as soon as we got the harbinger everyone’s health plummeted. Its wasn’t so much a case of people making mistakes (most of this group was in our ICC10 clear and knows about awareness etc) and our gear was on average not too bad (all of us could easily use the LFD for HCs). The damage output though from the adds and boss was quite immense. Mana was the major issue with dps running out and me having to string out healing to eke every last hp out of something. We wiped a few times then decided “bugger this” and blew all our cd’s on the harbinger, so we got timewarp, a gargoyle and army of the dead along side mirror images and what not – and a butt ugly purple tree thing (afterwards I ran straight to my scribe and got glyph of the treant).
This saw us through and we survived ready to face the last boss. We had pretty much the same with him, the minion adds (the casters) do a shocking (pardon the pun) amount of damage with their chain lightning, especially combined with the bolts emanating from the boss himself. Take into account the movement to avoid getting cycloned off the platform and you have a tough fight.
Ultimately after a 2-3 wipes we did the same as with Barim and blew all cd’s as soon as he dropped his windshield and we got him, but the instance felt as draining as a raid and we really got a feeling of how much they have changed the working of the instances away from the faceroll attitude that was wrath (even before every man and his dog had 264 badge epics and such).
Once more unto the heroic dear friends!
Then a couple of nights ago we tried another HC, this time Throne of the Tides. We were all a little inexperienced, most of us having run the normal 1-2 times and that was it. We wiped 3-4 times on the first boss until everyone got the hang of the cc, adds, the geysers, interrupting her shock blast and the whirly things that pick you up. Again though, we actually felt that we had achieved something. After that fight the second boss was rather an anticlimax as we went in and took him down with no trouble at all, even moving from the ever expanding fissures and his periodic enrage cause no hassle. Slightly happier after that we proceeded to the next boss, the mind controlled shaman. Again, after 2-3 wipes learning the fight we got him without too much trouble. We fought our way back to the last boss (those water elementals hit pretty hard when they swell) and had one try before some of the group had to leave and so we called it. In todays PTR notes though I see that they have reduced the damage on the shock blast of Lady Naz’jar and the water elementals don’t do as much damage when they swell.
A method to my madness….
The reason for this little description of our adventures in the heroics is that unlike the Wrath heroics, you actually feel good about having battled through a dungeon and come out the other end. When the last boss drops and the achievement appears, you actually do get a sense of achievement rather than just a mindless “oh well thats a few more JPs”. The battles are harder, seem to require more thinking than before and for now, really do test the players and their gear to some extent.
I know that some people would read this and just think “pfft, they are still easy” but the answer is no, heroics are not easy atm at the correct gear level. They may be easier if you have managed to get a 350+ iLevel average, but then you are basically raid level so healing, health pools, dps output etc will be a lot higher. Our groups are not inexperienced or newbies by a long way, most of the group was in our raid team that cleared ICC10 and some have raid experience going back to vanilla. However, the one thing we didn’t have was uber gear, we probably average about iLevel 333, so enough to do the heroics but not massively outgear them any more.
As difficult as they were though despite not getting a lots of loot, they were immense fun and probably the best time I have had in an instance for ages. I really have to applaud Blizzard for going that bit further and seemly taking heroics back to the way people describe them in TBC – actually challenging and making you think, no more storm in and aoe until everything is dead. It will be sometime before we have these on farm I think and I for one like that idea, they are pitched at a difficulty level where you have to work, but generally if you approach things correctly you won’t be banging your head against a wall for hours. There are already some nerfs in the current PTR notes, so it is possible that they will tone down the difficulty on average now that more and more players are having a go in HCs and they are getting a better picture of the level of difficulty in dungeons.
No doubt we will see more new instances in future patches, and it would be nice if for once the leap between gear levels wasn’t so massive, and that the newer instances added to gear from the older ones rather than replacing them totally. I mean, realistically who ever really went into old Wrath heroics looking for gear once TotC came out and we were all farming badgers for 226 epics?
As Wrath dungeons were on the whole quite easy, I rather missed out on the harder instances and I would like to relish them for sometime. At least thats the way I feel now, by the time of the next content patch I may be crawling on my knees to Blizzard asking for something new and not quite so hard :D I hope not though.