Raid Encounters that I Love and Hate

There are any number of ways to look at how much you might enjoy any given raid encounter.  How much fun is it to tank?  How much fun is it to raid lead?  How challenging was progression, and how repeatable is it to farm?  How epic did it feel?  I haven’t been raiding for nearly as long as some, but there have been some standout raid encounters that I’ve truly enjoyed over and over again, no matter how many times we killed them, and others that I’ve hated from the first pull.  It’s an interesting subject to me, because I can’t always identify commonalities.  Some fights should have all the elements to be amazing, but just don’t hold up.  Others seems like they should be very forgettable, and yet live on.

It’s an interesting subject, further, because there are fights that I hate as a tank, but love as a raid leader.  A great example of this is Twilight Ascendant Council.  It’s boring as hell to tank, one very rarely feels at risk, and is never challenged in any real way (aside from BoP on time and raidwall on time in P3).  But as a raid leader, it’s one of my favorite fights in T11.  You get a nice warmup phase with just a little bit of reacting to debuffs to get people psyched up for P2.  You get a personal accountability phase, where any given raid member has the opportunity to wipe you horribly – a phase where DPS is of minimal import, but handling mechanics is critical.  And then you get P3, where you just find a way to squeeze out every last ounce of DPS and HPS and hope you win before it gets too crazy.  The raid leader in me loves the changes of pace, and loves the way that P1 and P2 impact and set up P3.  The raid leader in me, quite frankly, loves the phase that puts people on the spot.  No other fight in the tier has been quite so successful at highlighting weaknesses in our raid – and no other fight has been quite so successful at forcing us to improve.  Conversely, Cho’gall is an interesting and challenging fight to tank (as a paladin, warriors are hax), given movement requirements and the timing required to place pools in a good position.  As a raid leader, though – meh.  It’s very brute-forcey, there isn’t any kind of finesse involved.

Sticking with the T11 theme, I quite enjoy Omnitron and Maloriak, and earlier incarnations of Magmaw.  I think Halfus is a really interesting fight, simply because it’s the most front-loaded fight I’ve ever seen Blizzard create.  Nefarian, Chimaeron, and Atramedes I find to be somewhat lacking.  Perhaps because P3 Nefarian is just so mechanical for everyone that isn’t the kiter, an otherwise good fight feels strangely lackluster at the end.  V+T was an RNG mess before the nerfs, and now it’s a joke.  Despite T11 being perhaps the most difficult tier of content that Blizzard has ever released, I wonder if any of the fights will live on for me in the same way that my all time favorites do.

So what are the fights that I consider truly epic – brilliant in a long lasting and memorable kind of way?  Firefighter, Freya3, and M’uru, certainly, are fights that I found to be amazing fun both as a tank and a raid leader.  They both challenged every aspect of the raid at once, including the tanks.  Getting them down for the first time felt like a real rush and accomplishment.  Aside from being challenging in a raid-wide way, these fights have very little in common with each other.  Each was new and interesting for it’s time, though.  Each put together mechanics in an interesting and fresh kind of way, and presented various different challenges to think through and then execute.  I’m not sure I could describe any of those fights in one line by referencing bosses that came before them, as was so very common in ICC.

Surely, though, an epic fight is more than simply not rehashing mechanics, and more than challenge.  There have been difficult fights with new and interesting mechanics that never captured that certain something that made them amazing: Many people will disagree, but Arthas and Halion both fall in this category.  Neither boss was trivial, and neither felt rehashed, but neither really captured that certain something that will make them stand out forever.  Nefarian, Cho’gall, Sinestra – time will tell how we look back on them, but right now I just can’t see it.  What common thread binds together the games most epic and amazing encounters?  The truth is, I don’t know myself.  Perhaps one day I’ll figure it out.

What are some of your favorite fights, and why?  What’s going to live on forever in your memories?

This entry was posted in Mel's Random Musings, Raid Leading, Theorycrafting. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Raid Encounters that I Love and Hate

  1. Zinn says:

    I really loved to heal Freya3, it was one of those fights where you felt like your skills really would make a difference – back in Wrath when healers just had to basically spam heals as much as possible. This fight required people to use lightwell and me to use every skill in the book. It was loads of fun.

  2. finlay85 says:

    I am sadly a wrath baby, I hit level 70 as they put out the exp Nerf in bc, so all my raiding has been from wrath. The most memorable boss encounter would have to be malygos, not because it was fun but because blizzard threw you on to the back of drakes and gave you no time to get your bearings before malygos started to rip your face off. Going from the normal raid boss encounter to a vehicle fight that used abilities that no one knew about. Only to find out there was a daily that taught you the drake abilities, but no one knew about it. For a purely fun boss encounter I would have to say festergut, when I could pull 9k on a single Target boss encounter. Get 9 stacks, turn off righteous fury and smash festers face with your shield. Then post 4.0 getting off 90k SotR cirts made me giddy like a school girl
    (Sorry for any grammatical errors I am typing this on my phone)

    • Meloree says:

      Interesting take on the encounters. Those are both encounters that I would personally consider to be generally poorly designed, personally, although I can see your point.

      Malygos I found to be generally gimmicky, and I don’t tend to enjoy vehicle combat much. I play the game to play my character, as it were. I’ve also never been a big fan of “Nice job so far, guys, we’ll take it from here” type mechanics like Alexstraza’s intervention there. Festergut admittedly was a lot of fun for Big Numbers syndrome, but it’s a little bit too much of a loot pinata for me to consider it to be a great encounter.

      • finlay85 says:

        I ment malygos as a memorable encounter not because it was fun but because every one hated it, and I will remember it because it was badly designed. Festergut was the one place where I could join in on the majority of the raid talking about their epeens. Throughout wrath tanks did 2-3k dps no matter what, but in that fight I could do real dmg and not feel just like a meat sheild. Festergut was super boring in every other facet of the fight. The halfus fight is my favorite fight to be a tank, I need snap threat to grab two drakes at once, I need good cd management to live throughout the fight, and I need to dps as hard as my damage dealers to help burn down the drakes. It goes from a fight where I am on the edge of my seat to post 50% just going through my rotation making sure I can do it blind folded.

      • Meloree says:

        You’re telling the wrong tank about tanks doing 2-3k DPS 😛

        Halfus is fun as a tank, I’ll grant you that – I like having work to do.

  3. Saif says:

    My single favorite fight in all of Wrath was Firefighter. Yogg comes close but Firefighter was harder. I remember completing it and the rush and exhilaration that came from hasn’t been matched since. I enjoyed solo-tanking Heroic Valithria a lot, and the tank-swaps on Sindragosa were excruciatingly tight, but I felt like outside of Phase 1 the LK fight was a bit of a let-down for tanking and even in phase 1 only the add-tank had to do any significant amount of work. Heroic Sindragosa is still one of my favorite fights as a general raid – very tight execution requirements all around.

    I didn’t raid all that much in TBC – just Kara and Z’A (I’m a 10-man raider) and in those I think the most memorable was probably Netherspite just in terms of execution, but learning how to do Prince was scary as a raid-lead but utterly boring as a tank. That encounter leaned too heavily on healers.

    In the current tier, I find Ascendant Council to be fairly dull and just a DPS check, but phase 2 can get hectic and fun. I do enjoy tanking Cho’gall a lot – keeping Fury debuffs balanced, adds placed, and juggling cool-downs in phase 3 along with off-duty interrupts on stalks gives me a lot to do.

    Atramedes is fun as DPS but horrifically boring as a tank. Same if you’re the Maloriak tank outside of dodging fire in phase 3. Yawn. Maloriak in general is a fight that seems fun at first but rapidly looses its charm once you master it. I really enjoy the random nature of Halfus and Omnitron, and the individual execution requirements of Valiona and the Winds bosses.

    I hate Chimaeron – a fight that’s 100% dependent on your healers and outside of hitting Radiance there’s little you can do to help the raid. Phase 2 burns so fast it’s really not a challenge in any way if you have the raid up at the end. I haven’t DPS’d it but I suppose just focusing on your rotation and nothing else might be fun.

    So – Firefighter, Yogg, Sindragosa, and maybe Arthas for me.

    • Meloree says:

      It sounds like we’re almost exactly on the same page about what’s fun to tank, certainly. Although I’d quibble a little bit about Sindragosa, I was never a huge fan. I found that fight in particular to be somewhat uninspired and generally frustrating – nobody likes to stand around doing nothing, which is what the mechanics encouraged you to do on a regular basis, and the general feel of the fight was just a Sapphiron reboot.

  4. Fluffy says:

    Kind of like Saif, I didn’t raid until Lich King. As ranged DPS, my favorites so far have been Firefighter, Yogg+1 and Malygos. The first two I loved for the execution requirements, which still exist at 85. Malygos I loved because it was the first fight I’d been in where I felt truly epic, since a) fighting a freaking Aspect and b) Oh, look, FRIENDLY INTERNET DRAGON RIDING.

    Maly wasn’t particularly hard once you got the timing of abilities in phase 2 down, but the level of wonder I got from that fight wasn’t matched until the entry to Ulduar.

    • Saif says:

      I think the only reason I don’t like Maly as one of my favorite fights is just because of the amount of time it took people to figure the drakes out. There were three or four folks who never died and the rest of the raid would just drop after the first or second lightning cloud – very frustrating, till people figured out their strafe keys.

      But in terms of design, yes, it was great, but the execution was a bit lacking. Also, I’m not a fan of single-tank fights in general – one of the two tanks has to play an off-spec. I don’t mind generally, now, but back before dual-specs, which Maly was, respecing became pretty painful.

      I forgot about Iggy in Ulduar – back in the beginning of the raid when you had to pick up adds, move them into fire, build stacks, move them into water and then get out before they were blown up to pick up the next one was a lot of fun, though once we started ignoring the mechanics it became pretty mindless.

  5. Cogglamp/thatguy from mtankadin.com says:

    Wrath child here (avoids sticks and stones…)

    My experience is limited but I really enjoyed Sarth + 2 when T7 was current. It was the most “difficult” encounter that I can say that I tanked (successfully). I had the pleasure of being the add tank and it was quite stressful at least for me. Placing dragons correctly so they didn’t breathe on the raid, picking up whelps and adds while still trying to keep people from being breathed on, avoiding shadow wells, and avoiding 40 ft walls of streaming lava.

    I know a single boss raid doesn’t hold much in terms of glory but it was a nice compact raid that required everyone to be spatially aware and understand fight mechanics (read: being accountable!). I took a break during T8 so I never got to experience Ulduar sadly.

    PS – Thanks to you meloree, theckhd, and anafielle for setting up this blog. It’s just a couple days in and I’m enjoying it immensely. I won’t ever experience progression like you all so it’s nice to have a glimpse into the thoughts of people who are at a higher playing field than myself. Oh, and tell Derevka that I miss her blog (talesofapriest) immensely. Best of luck to you all.

  6. Zaephod says:

    My favorite fights were Vashj and Kael’thas (from TK) from BC. They just had that epic feeling that’s only been approached (for me) but never exceeded. Vashj required so much communication to get right, and so many people with specific jobs, that when we got that first kill the nerd scream echoed. Barring the epic speech from Kael’thas at the beginning of the fight, executing phases 1 – 3 really made that fight hard for us. Then the transition between phase 4 and 5 where the room shatters was just awesome. By the time he finally fell over, we really felt a true sense of accomplishment.

    That sense of accomplishment came back a few times in Wrath with Algalon and Heroic LK, but otherwise I felt like the fights were easy. I’ve not done much raiding in Cataclysm (i’m personally 10/12 normal modes), but I’ve not felt like the fights available to me are epic at all.

    • Meloree says:

      I agree with you about Wrath raiding. S3D, Ulduar, Anub, Lich King, and debateably Putricide were essentially the only fights in the entire expansion that were challenging at all, it was very sad. Ulduar, though, had some real greats in it.

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