When finally able to zone in (the Broxigar world server was, to be kind, a piece of crap), we ran through what appeared to be the staging area for the Flame Leviathan fight. It was staggeringly enormous, dwarfing even Ahn'Qiraj. Unfortunately, we also had to run past it, since it was empty and no teleporter existed.
When we reached the end of the Flame Leviathan area, it was clear that there would be more bosses before you even got into Ulduar proper. Ignis' area, or so I assumed, was to the left right before the Ulduar interior portal.
Entering Ulduar itself was an experience. The instance is, as Blizzard promised, absolutely beautiful (and you can see as much in our gallery of our trip there). Yogg-Saron's prison lay smack-dab in the center of the room, huge broken chains and shattered glass suspended in the air above it. The center hub connected to a number of different wings, but we were obviously after Hodir, whose wing was coated in ice. We walked in and saw the big man himself!
Hodir was in the back of the room. To his left and right were two ice-covered chests -- more on that later. In front of him were four friendly NPCs encased in ice blocks, which were breakable.
Here's a rundown of Hodir's abilities:
• Biting Cold: This is identical to Keristrasza's Biting Cold, but the stack isn't immediately removed when you move around -- it still takes time for the stacks to fall off while you're moving. The damage increases exponentially as it stacks.
• Freeze: Hodir does an AOE freeze, rooting players in place for a few seconds. This can be dispelled.
• Summon Icicles: Basically a Gruul-style falling ceiling spell. If you're under it, you get damaged and knocked back.
• Flash Freeze: Hodir freezes everyone in ice blocks like what the NPCs were in. These can be broken, but they have 20k health in normal mode. If you get hit by Flash Freeze again while already frozen, you die.
• Frozen Blows: Hodir will gain this ability periodically. It decreases his melee damage by 70% but increases his frost damage by a large amount.
We engaged Hodir and decided to free the NPCs, which turned out to be a good decision, as each had some benefit for our group. Horde and Alliance groups will each have their own NPCs. All of them use normal DPS spam moves in addition to their benefits below:
• Field Medic Penny: A dwarf priest. She'll dispel Freezes on you and the other NPCs.
• Elementalist Avuun: A draenei shaman. Players within jump range of his Chain Lightning will receive a temporary 100% crit buff when it hits Hodir.
• Ellie Nightfeather: A night elf boomkin. Anyone standing within her summoned light circle receives +50% spell and melee haste.
• Missy Flamecuffs: A gnome mage. Missy will drop fires that prevent players from taking frost damage or being Flash Frozen. The fires disappear if hit by Icicles or Flash Freeze.
Hodir engaged our tank, and the NPCs assisted us. Hodir dropped the ceiling on us a few times before beginning to cast Flash Freeze, which is a long cast (something like ten seconds). Some of us were frozen when it was cast, and some weren't. We regrouped after the wipe and tried again.
This time, we noticed that mounds of snow were appearing where Icicles fell while he was casting Flash Freeze, which didn't happen otherwise. We stood on the snow mounds and weren't frozen, thus solidifying our strategy. However, if you entered the area where the mounds would fall before they fell (signified by a large white cloud), you'd get hit and knocked back 30 or so yards, usually making the run back to a mound impossible before Flash Freeze finished casting.
An issue we encountered was that the NPCs weren't as smart as us and would need to be freed from their Flash Freezes after every cast; this made things a bit more difficult, since that was DPS that wasn't going to Hodir, who had 13 million HP.
A funny bug (possibly) that we encountered was that if you were jumping when Flash Freeze was cast, you could avoid it completely. Additionally, Flash Freeze can be resisted, like every frost spell in the encounter.
A few minutes into our attempt, Hodir smashed one of his chests in the back of the room, and that's when we figured out the "hard mode" of this encounter. It's a timed loot run. Killing Hodir in the time limit will reward you with two chests of loot and Hodir's basic loot; taking more time will result in one less chest or no chest at all.
The pace of the fight calms down quite a bit once the basics are understood, like most fights. It's still a DPS race, but the raid damage is very low and should require only two healers on the 10-man version. Utilizing the NPCs is very helpful but not necessary, much like Loatheb's spores once you're properly geared.
All in all, I'm prety impressed with the Hodir encounter, and if he's a sign of how all Ulduar encounters will be, I couldn't be more excited.
I'll be back tonight with more testing impressions, this time from the Iron Council encounter.