Friday, April 27, 2012

H Spine of Deathwing - Defeated!

Beta updates:
  • Mass Dispel is now much cheaper, but has a 15 second cooldown (like all other dispels in the beta).
  • Void Shift is now baseline (level 87), and has a 6m cooldown. Now, much like Life Grip, all priests will have a new griefing tool. Or something functionally equivalent to Lay on Hands. Depends how responsible they are.
  • Related: Spectral Guise is now a talent in the survivability tier.
  • Many talents (mostly healing) have had their numbers tweaked. Yawn.
  • From Darkness, Comes Light - Now can accumulate two charges. Cool, fewer go to waste, and can accumulate them for burst.
  • Twist of Fate - Now lasts for 10sec after damaging/healing a low health target. This should make it appreciably better than it was, as before it was dramatically weaker than the other options on the same tier. Now on add fights it may be far superior.
  • Mindbender - New talent. It's another Shadowfiend with twice the mana return, but a longer cooldown.
  • Shadow got a bunch of Discipline abilities. Bug maybe? The list: Borrowed Time, Meditation (25%), Rapture, Spirit Shell. If this is not a mistake, then my thoughts are twofold. One: it's nice for Disc/Shadow priests so they don't need to heal like a holy priest if they need to heal in Shadow spec. Two: Healing is now much more appealing for a Shadow priest, as you'll likely be compensated for the time spent to cast a PW:S here and there in the form of haste and mana. It is possible that PW:S might become rotational, for the boost it offers to a DoT used immediately after, particularly with the tier-14 4-piece bonus. At first glance, PW:S seems to be DPS-neutral, which means it may as well be rotational for the survivability boost.
  • Glyph of Fade now grants 10% damage reduction. Cool. More survivability tools are always welcome.
  • We now have preliminary tier-14 set bonuses. 2 piece: +10% Mind Flay crit. Since we still have the MFcrit-to-Shadowfiend conversion, this will be a powerful mana boost. 4 piece: +3 sec DoT durations. Not overwhelmingly powerful for single-target, but sexy-awesome for multi-DoTing. I approve.

So, on Thursday, we rolled in and oneshot H Spine. I was surprised; when the fight ended abruptly, I thought we still had one plate to go; it felt just that easy. Needless to say, there was much rejoicing.

What we did differently

Our tendon burst DPS has been creeping steadily upwards the entire time we've been attempting H Spine, and feeling it was no longer necessary, several other DPS and I stopped trying to get cooldowns up before we detonated the Amalgamations, and simply focused on burning it as fast as possible. One of our tendon burn phases was perilously close to not meeting the DPS requirement because of this, but it made the fight dramatically shorter. The faster Amalgamation burn also caused the tendon phases to sync up nicely with the Fiery Grips so that we didn't need to kill the Corruption to reset the timer before entering tendon phase.

Our tanks adopted a different strategy for the 5th and 6th lifts; instead of attempting to kite the bloods, they stacked near the rest of the raid and dropped as much AoE as possible. The incidental AoE from procs and the tanks themselves killed 9 bloods almost precisely when the Amalgamation got low on HP. Also, this allowed them to more reliably establish aggro on new spawns, preventing them from meleeing random people.

We had a perfect storm of good RNG luck. I got such a good string of crits once, that I did 1.4M during a single tendon phase- not counting Shadowfiend damage. Likewise, despite making no attempt to get my Shadowfiend, and despite having about half the usual time between plates, he came up for 5 of the 6 plates. Other DPS report similar uncanny levels of luck. Also, the Blood Corruption: Earth was remarkably kind to us, dropping two stacks on both tanks right off the bat, and coating the majority of the raid before the end of the fight.

So was it just RNG then?

While the RNG probably helped immensely, the fact is that the healers finished the encounter with about 60% mana each, and unused healing and mana cooldowns. RNG simply doesn't account for that. Clearly the strategy changes were enough, and the favor of the RNG gods was just icing on the cake.

We spent considerable time on H Madness that night as well. I can see why very few guilds are 7/8H; Madness does seem much easier than H Spine. On about our 5th attempt, we made it to the final phase, and wiped only because we'd never seen it before. The fight is brutal on healing, but as a DPS, it's only marginally harder than normal mode, and this coming from someone who's having to use Dispersion to soak a 1.08M damage Impale meant for the tank. If we get it down before then, I'll write up a detailed account of our strategy for next week.

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