The doors were promptly open today and we didn't have to wait that long. Toward the beginning, the server was plagued with downtime. I guess development team was busy toggling switches and such somewhere.
In any case, if you didn't know, the boss being tested was Blood-Queen Lana'thel. You'll engage her in the winged portion of Icecrown Citadel. During the time leading up to testing, I was reading through some of her abilities and watched a video of this boss in action. From everything I've read and seen, I had a feeling that this would be a high pressure and somewhat technical encounter. When I say high pressure, I mean super high situational awareness is needed. When I say technical, I mean there's stuff that players have to do outside their normal routine in order to survive.
We didn't have to worry about any of the trash on the way up. Most if it wasn't active except for a pair of Val'kyr twins who were patrolling the area. They were evaded with ease. Again, I can't help but emphasize how large this place is. The run back after the wipe to the Blood-Queen is going to epically suck. It's almost as bad as the run back to Illidari Council in Black Temple.
After the pre-wipe peptalk and briefing was delivered, we charged in behind our warrior who would open up first. Immediately, the raid was taking damage from Shroud of Sorrow. 3000 damage every 3 seconds to the raid? After healing for the WoW.com crew that same day in the Halls of Reflection live stream, I figured it would be a piece of cake. But when you add in everything else, it becomes a stretch.
Again, this is a healing intensive fight. That's an understatement though. Because in addition to the Shroud, there's more abilities to be careful of.
The Hugs-for-All mechanic
Periodically throughout the fight, players will receive a debuff called Pact of the Darkfallen. It deals 5000 or so damage to you and players around you every 2 seconds. The only way to remove is when affected players are within 5 yards of each other. In other words, if you have this debuff, run to each other. 10 man will see 2 players getting it whereas 25 man will see 3 players.
It's really easy to spot this. A red beam will form between all the players who have it. Just follow the beams to the other person.
I managed to get this twice. I reacted by strafing (I was facing forward and the beam was coming out my right, and I didn't want to waste time keyboard turning) and dumping Prayer of Mending, Shields, Renews, Circle of Healing, and a Surge of Lighted Flash Heal on myself and I still barely lived. For some reason, I would happen to be paired up with someone who was way on the other side of the room.
Seriously, you can't miss it.
Murphy's Laws of Raiding #143: If the encounter forces you to run toward someone, that person is usually super far away.
The Nom-nom mechanic
A player will randomly gain Essence of the Blood Queen. Your damage and your healing will increase by 100%. It lasts for about a minute. Once the effect wears off, you gain another debuff called Frenzied Bloodthirst. You raiders will need to make like a hungry college student and grab a bite from your friends. If you don't bite a player within 10 seconds, you'll get mind controlled by the Queen herself. The player who gets Vampirically Bitten is chomped for ~12000 - 16000 damage depending on your raid size.
On the bright side, I finally have a legitimate reason to say "Bite me!" in a raid.
Here's the kicker. You can't use this ability on existing vampires. For example, if I already picked up Essence of the Blood Queen and chewed another player, that player can't bite me back. So no, we can't trade debuffs back and forth.
I'm not sure if Essence of the Blood Queen is recurring or not. After biting someone, do I still have the Essence, or has it completely left my body? The Vampiric Bite tooltip says it grants it to them. If that's the case, we're on a sort of soft enrage timer. One person will start off with the essence. After one minute, it becomes two. Then four. Then eight. Then sixteen. At this point, you have to take down the Blood-Queen in about six minutes before your raid runs out of food.
Anyway, that last part is speculation for now.
Just do me a favor if you get it. Bite the dwarf last, okay guys?
The Legion Flame mechanic
It's back and better than ever! Swarming Shadows creates a purple shadows beneath the target every half a second. Can't remember how long it lasts for. It can't be more than several seconds. If you get it, go for a jog on the outside of the room until it wears off.
Damage is easily healable as long as players stay out of the fires.
What's to stop everyone from grouping up together to mitigate the Pact of the Darkfallen effects? Why run to each other when we can just start off stacked? The Blood Queen likes to hurl Twilight Bloodbolts at players. Not only does it do ~10000 damage to the target, it also hits surrounding players within 6 yards for the same amount.
Translation: Spread out.
One more thing she likes to do is head to the center of the room and then hover in the air for several seconds. This is the stage where she throws a bunch of Bloodbolts every 2 seconds for 6 seconds at random players.
Translation: Really spread out.
I wasn't kidding when I said the Blood Queen would be a healing intensive fight. Between the shadow aura and these other abilities, my raid group got it's butt handed after the first 3 or so attempts. But after those ones, we were able to get going and start progressing. We managed to get her down to 65% or so. This was after 1 ground phase and 1 air phase. It seemed like we were going to be on pace for a kill.
Personally, I had a lot of fun with this one. I'm probably going to put the Holy Nova glyph to use here and make sure my healing priests are in different groups. I have a hunch we'll need it the first few times we go in. There's nothing more exciting than edge of the seat healing.
Sadly, our time was up and testing for the Blood Queen was over.
That seems to be it for boss testing this week. If there's anymore, keep your eyes here as I'll be checking out new encounters every chance I get.
Patch 3.3 is the last major patch of Wrath of the Lich King. With the new Icecrown Citadel 5-man dungeons and 10/25-man raid arriving soon, patch 3.3 will deal the final blow to Arthas. WoW.com's Guide to Patch 3.3 will keep you updated with all the latest patch news.