Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Bane of the Fallen King

This Sunday, December 5th, I finally managed to down Lich King on heroic. Honestly I haven't given it that much effort, since I had killed him the normal way and that sufficed for me. As long as I get to experience the content I am happy. That being said, I was intrigued by the healing challenge that LK hc offered. My guild had been doing some tries on 25man, but we were never even close. Towards the end of the expansion peoples interest was waning, and we couldn't collect 25 really dedicated raiders for it. But a couple of guildies still wanted to give it a try on 10man, and since I play a disc priest I was asked to tag along. Our first attempts at gathering 10 skilled enough people failed. Some asked if they could come with their alts and the raid comp was completely wrong, so we didn't even get it started. Then the other week a friend of mine felt like he wanted to give it one final shot. It would be the perfect raid or nothing. We managed to collect 9 interested people from our guild, but in the end we still had to pug a tank. Fortunately we found a really great one.

The raid was set to go off on Friday (3rd), and everyone came ready and focused for the task. We cleared through up to Sindragosa before the raid-instance servers died on us. Everyone who were in the instance could stay there, but leaving meant you couldn't re-enter. And not only that but your character was stuck in limbo and unable to reconnect to the servers. I had gone and done a quick respec on my mage just before Sindragosa when suddenly I just disconnected upon attempting to enter the raid again. Fortunately (?) I wasn't the only one, but anyone who had gone offline for any reason and tried to re-enter the instance was promptly booted from the server and couldn't log back on. This put a definite halt to out attempts at LK hc for that evening. So we re-scheduled for this sunday.

It wasn't looking too good at a start. We had some trouble getting everyone to be able to show, and had to convince some people from the last run to give it another try. Also one of the raiders could only attend for 2 hours. But since we only had Sindragosa left before LKhc we felt like that didn't have to be too big of a problem. If we didn't down him in the 1,5 hours we'd have at our disposal, we probably never would anyway. Then we had trouble being able to switch to heroic mode and lost some valuable time when everyone had to leave the instance and re-enter, before everything seemed to work like it should.

Sindragosa went down without much trouble, and we were ready to give LK hc a try. We all joked about being able to one shot him, while all of us probably were silently thinking that he'd never go down.

Our raidcomp was as such;

  • Protection Warrior
  • Blood DK
  • Disc Priest
  • Resto Druid * 2
  • Elemental Shaman
  • Arcane Mage
  • Fire Mage
  • Affliction Warlock
  • Shadow Priest

As you can see our raid turned out to be caster oriented. This was because casters are better than melee during LK hc, for example for dpsing the Valkyrs and the Vile Spirits (and the Spheres in the phase transitions). We had an arcane mage to use slow on the Valkyrs, but our prot warrior did a tremendous job with stuns as well (both on Valkyrs and Enraged Shamblers).

Above is the recount of my healing for the fight. It's stuff I like to analyze, I'm nerdy that way.

We started out playing with only two healers, but switched the only melee (feral druid played by Love) to resto instead. Our first attempt went so well, getting to second transition phase but with a couple of dead, that we immediately noticed that we definitely had something going. On our next three attempts we failed on really minor mistakes. One tank missed the Shadow Trap and flew off, and one guy missed to run with the disease twice. I told them that if they couldn't handle such simple things, we'd never get this done. Dps was secondary, situational awareness was everything. In fact we had so much dps that we decided to switch to three healers, as mentioned above (the raid before we had downed Rotface in 46 seconds, so dps really wasn't a problem. We even decided not to use Bloodlust in the first phase, even after having removed one dps). After this people shaped up, focused and we only had one more wipe (one tank being lifted by valkyr while the other got Soul Reaper) before he went down.

As we healers noted,
this fight might actually have become tougher after 4.0 than it was before. Setting aside that I am trying to blow my own horn here (ahem), the recent changes to mana efficiency made us all, even the druids (!), oom horribly by the time we had gotten to the third phase. I used potion, two shadowfiends and a hymn, and even got an innervate just before the end and I really used every drop of my mana pool. And so did the poor druids who oomed way before me and healed on fumes most of the third phase. I wouldn't blame bad skill management, because we had some really skilled healers (ahem again). LK is designed to be healed by healers who can throw Flash Heals (and the equivalents) like it was candy (wait a sec, I wouldn't throw candy around). After 4.0 this definitely isn't the case anylonger. On the other hand we had a full ICC-buff and only top-geared people in the group.

Looking back we healers thought there were some things we could've done differently. We made it, so whatever we were doing worked well enough, sure. But if I could change one thing I would've removed Divine Fury and replaced it with Veiled Shadows, for more Shadowfiend, instead. The druids too talked about removing haste talents in favor of throughput talents like Master Shapeshifter. LK hc isn't a fight where you can expect to ever be able to throw a Heal or Greater Heal (or the equivalents). You need fast and/or big heals, all the time. And by fast I mean instants or close to instant. I basically only used shields, PoM and Penance throughout the fight. The druids mainly used Rejuv, Lifebloom and Wild Growth. They kept an eye on the tanks and my job was to keep the rest of the raid alive and well, but we both had to jump in and help eachother. When the tanks dipped my Penance saved the day, and when I missed a shield for infest a Wild Growth or Swiftmend saved the day.

Another thing I might've changed was to downrank my shields. As it was now they weren't absorbed by Infest, and so I didn't get those awesome amounts of Rapture procs that make disc priests never oom on this fight. It would've forced me to handle two shield ranks, and in reality it's only effective in the first phase where you know only the tanks will take damage. For all the other phases people are hit by damage continously and you'd want your best shield on them for that. But still, it would've saved me alot of mana in the first phase and it is something I would recommend doing if you ever try this out (well, on level 85 you might not have to fiddle with things like this anyway).

It's difficult to say which phase was the toughest. In fact I think the transitions were the most healing intensive, and also in phase 3 when the Vile Spirits came since us healers were so low on mana then. But it was a truly epic fight and I really want to thank everyone involved for a great job and for pulling through magnificently. I can't think of a better timing to get it done than a day before the release of Cataclysm.


  1. Sadly, I'm 99% sure that you can't downrank anymore.

  2. Many many grats - this is an amazing achievement, I'm so impressed. Just out of curiosity, did you manage to fire off any archangels, did this help with mana or was the fight simply too heal-intensive for smiting. Sorry of this is a weird question but one of the things I've found about new builds for old content is that there are simply aspects of it that don't get used, because ICC so clearly wasn't designed for them.

  3. @Will
    It wouldn't suprise me if you're right, and it only makes me happy that I didn't give it a shot. Unless they changed it now in Cata of course. In any case it shows how good gear can get in the way sometimes (as was the case for tanking warriors for a long time).

    Thank you :) And no, I definitely didn't have time to smite! In fact all the points I had put into Archangel, Atonement, Evangelism and Train of Thought were basically wasted, since well... they're just not usable on this fight. There was always someone who needed a shield, or a Penance to burn off. Smite healing just doesn't cut it. It's too slow and too unprecise for a fight like this. And no smiting = no archangels :/ So you are quite correct in that the 4.0 builds don't really work with how healing was designed to be played in Wrath. I can only hope this will change in Cata.