Firelands: First Impressions

Short version: I like it.  I’m looking forward to hard modes.

I don’t do a lot of PTR testing, and I don’t watch a lot of videos before content goes live.  I don’t like the spoilers.  So we headed into the Firelands as blind as it was possible to be, and did battle with Ragnaros’ forces.  It’s way too early to comment on whether the instance will be a success or a failure, but I think that it’s gotten off to a very good start, based on the normal modes.

One thing that I think is absolutely required for a good encounter is mechanics that punish failure.  If we remember back to Tier 9 and Tier 10 normal modes, they had no mechanics that were particularly punitive.  You could stand in the fire, and you’ld probably just get healed through it.  Tier 8 and Tier 11 didn’t have this problem, and it looks like Tier 12 is following in those footsteps.  It is impossible to make an interesting fight with ignorable mechanics, and it looks like ToC and ICC have driven that lesson home.

So Firelands passes the first hurdle.  The mechanics are not so trivial as to be ignorable.  It’s important, because no matter how great the art is, or how interesting the mechanics, if you don’t have to actually try and execute the fight, then it’s not ever going to be a lot of fun.

It’s difficult for me to evaluate the tuning for normal mode Firelands – it’s not my content, and my guild outgeared the content before we stepped foot in the instance, but things seemed very reasonable.  We were able to zerg our way through some mechanics that would likely take planning at a lower gear level, but nothing felt like it was out of line in either direction.

I did find a lot of the mechanics to be interesting.  Perhaps not completely novel, but Shannox is certainly a throwback to a time before tauntable bosses.  There turn out to be a number of ways to deal with the debuff problem without taunting, but it certainly threw people for a loop, based on the forums I read.  Beth’tilac and Alysrazor seem to have interesting DPS splits.  Rhyolith and Staghelm have interesting co-ordination checks.  Baleroc has a little something for the healers.  In some ways Ragnaros was the least compelling fight, despite having the tightest tuning of the normal modes.

Given how well the normal modes are built, though, it bodes well for heroic content that’s compelling and interesting.  Firelands normal modes were a success in my books.  It’s no surprise that the normal modes all dropped quickly to the 13/13 guilds – and it would have been a tuning failure if they hadn’t.

On a personal note, as a tank, I really enjoyed Alysrazor and Baleroc.  Big numbers are fun.  I can’t wait for heroic modes.

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5 Responses to Firelands: First Impressions

  1. Técaro says:

    The mechanics were fairly refreshing, though for a 13/13 guild most of the fights were obviously underwhelming. My one gripe with most encounters was the lack of punitive mechanics. Things did damage but they wouldn’t kill you instantly for screwing up. It’s no coincidence to me that the bosses with gibbing mechanics, like Rag, were the hardest for us to down. Looking forward to heroic modes though ^_^

    • Meloree says:

      I think that’s appropriate for normal mode, and I wouldn’t call them completely non-punitive. Note that a full 372 raid has a fair bit more health than a full 359 raid, so what doesn’t one-shot in 372s may well one-shot in 359s. There’s certainly a lot less slack in lower gear levels.

      In addition, failing at a lot of the mechanics will tend to put the healers behind in a way that’s much harder to catch up from at the appropriate gear level. So, given that it’s normal mode, and given that it’s totally overgeared, I think the mechanics on most fights were appropriately punitive.

      We all knew that in 372 gear we’d be able to zerg a lot of things, it’s no surprise that we could. I certainly hope that we won’t have the same experience in heroic.

      • Técaro says:

        From looking at the numbers on heroic abilities, there’ll certainly be a lot less leeway.
        Overgearing it was obvious from the start really, guess I was just surprised by how forgiving some mistakes were at our gearlevel, compared to what we were doing just pre-firelands in Sinestra it was a glaring contrast. Then again, I imagine T11 normals in 359 gear would have been comparatively easy.

      • Meloree says:

        It’s pretty tough to look back and compare the T11 normal experience, in a mix of 277, 333, and 346 gear – where we undergeared the tuning level of the content by a fairly healthy margin – to T12 where it’s overgeared by a very large margin.

        But, yes, T11 hardmodes remain signficantly more difficult than any of the T12 normal modes. It’s a bit of a shame that they’re totally obsolete now.

  2. Donthealme says:

    I agree with the fact that the normal modes are a success although I really wish it didn’t drop on a holiday weekend as we lost an entire raid night and spent another trying to underman rag. A lot of new or not used recently mechanics made things interesting, looking forward to having my full raid team this week to kill rag and get into heroic modes next week.

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