Initial thoughts on Cataclysm dungeons

December 11, 2010 at 11:16 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I’ve already put together posts with information on the boss fights and the loot for the new instances.  Having done several instance runs at this point, I felt now would be a good time to provide some of my own thoughts on the dungeons and what makes each of them easy, difficult or interesting.  Unless otherwise noted, comments below refer to the regular versions.

Blackrock Caverns:

  • Easy instance, provided a few people in your group know the tricks to each of the boss fights.  I’ve found, though, that the bosses can be very unforgiving if people do not know to move out of Shatter, to block the beams, to only hold the boss in the fire for a brief while, or to kite the adds instead of tanking them.
  • Healer mana is not yet an issue at all.  With a good group, you can pull like mad.

Throne of the Tides:

  • An odd contrast to BRC in the sense that it is similarly easy for knowledgeable groups, but the mechanics don’t seem to matter.  An unprepared group will be fine here.  As long as your group can tank adds, do ok dps, and get out of the fire the bosses will go down.

Vortex Pinnacle:

  • I found the trash here to be more difficult than the bosses.  Having two good cc classes simplifies this instance.
  • On heroic, the trash is punishing.

Stonecore:

  • Stonecore trash felt the most like Wrath of any of the new dungeons.  With the exception of the hallway with sentries, it’s all “charge in, aoe it down”.
  • For warrior tanks, I found Heroic Leap to be very useful on the last boss for picking up multiple packs of adds.  Having the healer stick close to the tank makes that portion of the fight much less annoying.

Grim Batol:

  • Hands down, my favorite of the new dungeons.  The boss fights do a lot to reward good tanks and punish bad ones; positioning matters.  Being able move and direct bosses, time cooldowns correctly and keep debuffs running was a lot of fun.
  • The amount of trash can seem onerous on a first trip here, but after a few runs drake control gets much better and I was nearly able to chain pull the half-dead packs.  This could be the Gundrak equivalent for Cataclysm — the instance where you can grind out a few bosses very rapidly if you know the tricks.

Tol’vir:

  • If you can silence casters to start the pull, the trash here is very Wrath-like.  The only slowdown is healer mana, which becomes a real issue by the time players hit 85.
  • Some groups found Heroic Lockmaw and Augh challenging, but this fight seems to be fairly simple.  I haven’t seen this explained elsewhere, so here is what I do: I tank Lockmaw in the middle and have the mark target (baby crocodiles inc) move on top of me.  I keep Rend running on Lockmaw so that when the baby crocodiles arrive, they can be killed with a TC and Shockwave.  The only other major mechanic is to run away from Augh’s Whirlwind, which produces a cloud of dust.
  • Heroic Barim can be a tough fight, too.  Some strats suggest kiting the shadow phoenix, but we found that made the fight overly complex.  We just tanked the bird in place, had dps blow up the little adds (they buff the bird), and used cooldowns to get through the phase.
  • I found Siamat to be difficult the first time on reg, but no great increase in challenge when transitioning to heroic.

Halls of Origination:

  • Seven bosses, each with very different mechanics, provides a lot of potential for an interesting instance.  On reg it felt like some of the fights were too brief, privileging big dps over smart play, but I have hopes that heroic will be a good warmup for raids in terms of requiring crisp play and knowledge of mechanics.  Generally, I wish the game did more to scaffold players in terms of learning how to play in raids.
  • I forsee a change to the new priest Life Grip ability within two months due to rampant misuse on the elevator.  Until then, I will continue to make sure I am better friends with our priest than the shaman is.

Shadowfang Keep (H):

  • The first boss, Baron Ashbury, is novel in how interrupts are handled.  It will be a while before anybody can power their way through this fight without getting the mechanics right.  A very fun fight, though I worry that it could be a group killer if LFD doesn’t make sure somebody other than a resto shaman can interrupt.
  • The third boss, Commander Springvale, requires big dps.  Most dps players right now, however, are struggling to stay ahead of the tank.  Not a good combination.  Thankfully, this fight can be skipped.  This fight feels like the real end boss for the instance, not Lord Godfrey.

Other thoughts:

  • Tank dps is really good right now.  On some fights I was doing 8k single target.  I haven’t seen anything higher than 14k from dps so far, with most falling in the 4-9k range.
  • Despite good dps, I find I am having more aggro problems than I was a month ago.  I feel this is due both to poor play (by me and the rest of the group) and also to an increased use of streaming adds.  For this reason, I recommend switching glyphs around for more aoe ability.  I’m now using both Glyph of Cleaving (hits 3 instead of 2 targets) and Glyph of Sunder Armor (hits 2 instead of 1 target).  Cleaving, in particular, I find useful when TC and Shockwave are on cooldown.
  • Getting to the 329 average ilevel threshold for heroic queues is a struggle.  I found myself stuck at 327 for a while, with few options for upgrades.  Keep in mind, however, that the WoW ilevel calculator is based on the gear you own, not the gear you wear.  Don’t be afraid to buy some cheap crafted 339 gear, even if it’s cloth; it can get you closer to the magic 329.
  • Somebody else (I can’t find a link, unfortunately) suggested that the changes to mana may result in healers becoming even rarer in Cataclysm.  Anecdotal evidence so far suggests that this may be true.  Tank queues on my server are now longer than healer queues, about 1-5 minutes.  Possible alternative explanations include: healers taking longer to level, lack of healer drops via leveling, and the weakness of disc resulting in a loss of many healers from a popular Wrath spec.  Even with a fair helping of 277 gear from Wrath, my 81 disc priest is incredibly mana hungry when focusing on throughput instead of efficiency.  I am told that this gets worse by 85.
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