Patch 4.2 has been live on servers for a little over 24 hours now, which means that the Firelands raid is just as new. Hardcore raiders that we are (well, some of us), a team of WoW Insider writers headed into the raid instance on its inaugural night with the intent of offering our first impressions.
How would the new encounters test healers? What kind of issues would tanks face? Would crowd control efforts would be necessary? Matt Low of Raid RX, warrior tank Mat McCurley, and enhancement shaman Josh Myers all headed into the Firelands to find out. What follows are their insights and opinions from the point of view of a healer, a tank, and a DPSer, respectively.
A healer's perspective by Matt Low
It was the best of raids, it was the worst of raids. A new raid instance ripe for pickings and plunder. We thought we were equipped and prepared. We figured we could challenge and take down bosses right off the bat. It turns out our intelligence was faulty, and several minor changes were made that changed the scope of the encounter. As a healer, it was a nonstop experience of observing heart-wrenching drops in health. Sometimes I was able to salvage players; other times, I had no choice but to watch players drop to zero.
The amount of trash was just massive. While some of the trash gimmicks were fun and interesting, the sheer numbers are going to make this raid get old fast.
The big change I found with my experiences healing both Shannox and Beth'tilac was that both encounters felt really bursty for healing. Naturally, I attribute much of that to just learning new encounters and mechanics. Even though the damage coming in was fast and insane, I didn't think it was possible for it to get any crazier. But it certainly got crazier! The 25-player version of the raid instance feels easier as you have more of a safety net with additional healers and players around. When I was killing trash on 10-player, I sometimes felt exposed with occasional tank instant deaths.
All in all, Firelands looks to be an exciting and engaging raid for healers and has so far matched my expectations from the PTR. But we'll find out how it ranks once we get all the way to the end.
As a main tank, Firelands has so far been more an exercise in execution than in actual threat management or stats. On the Shannox fight, tanks are more concerned about positioning and timing than keeping aggro on their targets. The timing of the debuffs tanks receive is a crucial aspect of the fight and can make or break the attempt. On Beth'tilac, tanking is about kiting and positioning on the bottom and quick movement on the top of the web. It's a nice change of pace from the "stand there, get a lot of aggro," tank-and-spank encounters that many players are used to.
The trash in Firelands is another story. Some of it, like the Flamewalker packs, is designed to be a larger-scale, fun AOE-fest. You can just barrel into them, go to town with AOE tanking abilities, and scare the crap out of your healers. The same goes with the scorpion packs, at least until they start to explode. The trash, as many people will tell you, is brutal -- not necessarily because of the amount of it (that is definitely part), but the fact that it respawns so quickly. You do not get enough pulls on Shannox, for instance, without having to reclear a large amount of trash. As a tank, I need pulls and attempts to learn fights and understand positioning, and while the cool factor of being able to put Shannox where you want him is a good feature, there needs to be a change on the respawn timer or, at the very least, which trash is tied to which bosses.
A DPSer's perspective by Josh Myers
Imagine you're walking into The Barrens. Around you, there's an assortment of mobs: big ones, small ones, mobs that are so tightly pressed together that you're afraid of breathing on your screen lest you pull them. Now imagine if The Barrens were on fire, all of the mobs are level 85 elites with their own unique mechanics to figure out, and you need a force of you and nine to 24 of your best friends to even think about not dying.
Welcome to the Firelands.
Welcome to the Firelands.
For DPSers, Firelands' trash is all about personal responsibility. Irresponsible or lazy DPSers are going to find themselves dying frequently, whether it be from standing in Molten Lords' Lava Jets, getting Flame Breathed by Ancient Core Hounds, or killing themselves on the Patriarch Fire Turtle's damage reflect shield. Imagine an entire raid with trash that can actually kill you. Remember the Bound Deluge/Bound Inferno combo from Bastion of Twilight? It's like that, but for the entire raid.
DPSers also need to be responsible for using their abilities effectively. Being on the ball and ready to CC when your tanks give the order is a necessity for quick trash clearing. Slow CC means you'll miss a pat and have to wait for it or risk dying a painful death while engaging other trash. Smart hunters who know how to use their misdirect will be a vital addition to any 10- or 25-man raid team, as the rule of thumb for Firelands trash is "you can never pull back far enough." Boomkin need to be incredibly conservative with their Starfall use, as a poorly placed Starfall will kill you and every one of your friends.
The news is already rolling out for the upcoming WoW Patch 4.2! Preview the new Firelands raid, marvel at the new legendary staff, and get the inside scoop on new quest hubs -- plus new tier 12 armor!