Sunday, February 3, 2013

Soloing old raids: A quick and dirty guide - MC and BWL

Since pre-Mists raids no longer require you to be in a "raid group" (which, for most of us, meant grouped with an offline level 10 alt on a trial account) and Blizzard has added new Battle Pets as drops from several old raid bosses, it seems an appropriate time to get around to that "Extreme Soloing" post I've been putting off. First some background and disclaimers.

I've been doing this sort of thing since Wrath when I was farming Zul'Gurub for the now unavailable Swift Zulian Tiger. After a while, I got bored of simply killing the same boss or two and started aiming for bigger clears. Whether it was for that cool looking weapon or just to say I did it. Over time I'd found that putting myself in situations where I had to completely rely on my own abilities to stay alive rather than expecting a healer to do the heavy lifting made me a better tank. I learned how to smooth out my rotation to reduce incoming damage and utilize my cooldowns while maximizing my DPS in order to beat enrage timers. This continued into Cataclysm when a guildmate and I started making weekly trips into Molten Core for her rep grind and my Thunderfury Bindings, sometimes pulling multiple bosses simultaneously to maximize our usage of guild rep banners. The more I did it, the more I wanted to do and I kept trying new bosses and raids.

Now, I should make it clear that, while I tend to consider myself a pretty decent player, I make no claims about being on the level of someone like Raegwyn or Mione. My biggest problem is simply that I get distracted or bored (or in the case of C'Thun before he was heavily nerfed, discouraged by the prospect of a nasty corpse run) and only give a handful of attempts before moving on to something else. It's also worth noting that I'm did most of this on my 478 ilvl Warlock. These days I'm sporting much better gear, but I also want to make it clear that you don't need to be decked out in full best-in-slot gear for a lot of fights. Understanding your class and the mechanics of the encounter are far more valuable than a couple points on your item level.

I've done several of these bosses or raids on multiple characters so I'll try to keep this from being too class specific, but my Warlock has seen the most action and is where my expertise lies so I can't tell you if Cloak of Shadows is effective against whatever debuff or something like that.

Let's start with Vanilla raids:

 Molten Core - The first real raid in WoW and one of the best places to start if you're new to the soloing game. Bosses  in here will have about as much health as a quest mob for Golden Lotus dailies, so nothing should really present any challenge. Notable drops are the Eye of Sulfuras from Ragnaros, both Thunderfury bindings, three battle pets and some iconic transmog gear. All of your Tier 1 set drops from bosses in this instance. Ragnaros drops your Tier 2 legs.

Lucifron – No deadly abilities for a 90. Burn him down before he curses you to save some annoyance and make sure you don’t engage too close to any Core Hound packs.

Magmadar – Make sure the corehound trash packs die at (roughly) the same time or they will revive. You shouldn't need to clear the entire room, but give yourself some room to move when he fears you. Take him all the way to the back corner to contain the Fear running and keep any fear-break abilities handy.

Gehennas – Not at all deadly for a 90. Just burst him down. You should be aware that he will apply a debuff that reduces healing effects by 75%. It shouldn't hinder you in any significant way at 90, but it's something to be aware of if you decide to pull Baron Geddon and Shazzrah at the same time while at half health.

Garr – Incoming damage can be a bit annoying if you’re particularly squishy, but start with AoE spam to deal with his adds and it’s a simple kill.

Baron Geddon – Engage him on the ramp where the roof gets really low to avoid the fall damage from his living bomb. Kill nearby trash beforehand if you’re not confident about timing the pull.

Golemagg – Ignore the adds and burst him down. The Sulfuron Ingot he (usually) drops is a crafting material for the Sulfuron hammer, required for Sulfuras.

Shazzrah – Keep your back to the wall to deal with his knockback. Baron Geddon wanders by and will engage if you venture too far out into the middle of the room. He may ocassionally silence you, but it's more of an annoyance than anything you need to actually be concerned about. Otherwise burst him down.

Sulfuron Harbinger – AoE spam should be plenty, but focus the healers and use interrupts/stuns if you’re having trouble out DPSing them. His knockback is little more than an annoyance.

Majordomo Executus – Same as the Harbinger. Focus Healers if you can’t outpace their heals, but heavy AoE should be sufficient until the last two or three adds. Ignore Executus since he's damage immune. Smack him once all the adds are down to make him run off like a pansy and end the fight. I should note that Majordomo will not be available to fight unless you've already killed every other boss. The order doesn't matter.

Ragnaros – Casters, keep your back to the wall, blow CDs. Melee, find this spot where a knockback will land you in lava and not on rock (fall damage). He doesn’t hit hard and fall damage is your biggest threat so DPS is better than prot specs here.

Blackwing Lair - Before 5.1 this raid was not soloable by most people because the first boss required you to be one of very few specs, an engineer or a hunter taking advantage of a glitch. However, it's quite doable now if still a bit tricky. Notable drops include all of your Tier 2 set (except legs which are on Ragnaros in Molten Core), three more battle pets, and some of the most iconic weapons in the game.

Razorgore – Burst and persistent AoE’s (anything you can lay down with one click and forget about) will be your friends here. Zerg the adds by the orb and take control as soon as possible. If you have a persistent AoE (Death and Decay, Consecrate, Magma Totem) you can just hurt them and then let it take over. The trick is to keep an efficient path between eggs starting at the back and working your way forward. Keep an eye on your cast bar and when the mind control is 5-10 seconds from expiring, run the boss as far away from you as possible. Take 4 or 5 GCD’s to heal yourself (if necessary) and burn down as many adds as possible. Again, persistent AoE effects are huge here. When the boss gets a Dragon add on him, use your Hibernate CC and move on. Rinse and repeat, but it may take a few tries. Don't waste a single second. This fight is all about execution and, once you get the hang of it, becomes fairly easy.

Vaelastrasz – Seriously, who names these dragons? This fight is just a DPS check. After a few seconds he will place a debuff on a random party member (if you're soloing, that means you) that, when it expires, instantly kills the target. There is no way to remove this debuff other than death so it's on you to just kill him before he kills you. I managed to down this on my 435 ilvl Ret Paladin so anyone in decent gear should have no problems. Warlocks should Soulstone themselves to avoid a corpse run.

The suppression room and Broodlord - While some classes will have an easy time with this (I always wish I was back on my Warrior) , it's far more likely that you'll just need to grit your teeth and push through. This room isn't difficult anymore, just tedious. When you finally make it to Broodlord Lashlayer you'll want to keep your back to the gate he's standing against. This will put you out of range of the suppression aura and keep him from knocking you back into it.

The Dragon Triplets – Very little to mention here. The biggest obstacle will be the second boss who puts a debuff on his main agro target that causes you to heal him when he melees you. Some kiting or taunt swapping with pets may be necessary if you can’t out DPS the heal but, like Vaelastrasz, I did this on my Ret Pally wearing greens so the DPS requirement isn't particularly high.

Chromaggus – Clear some of the trash in the rooms between Lashlayer and Chromaggus to get a handful of Hourglass Sands and keep them handy on your action bar. Chromaggus puts a series of debuffs on you (some are annoying, others can be ignored) each signifying a different dragonflight. When you get all of the debuffs at once, you are transformed into a Drakonid and lose control of your character. At that point, the only way out is to be killed or wander around until the fight resets. If you have no other method of removing debuffs (Singe Magic, Dispels, etc) then removing Bronze with your Hourglass Sand is your only hope of clearing the fight. There is no specific pattern to which debuffs he applies so it’s possible that he’ll never apply all of them to you before you kill him but it’s not worth risking. As long as you can deal with at least one of the debuffs, it’s a fairly straightforward DPS race. BM Hunters can also just tame him if you don't mind missing out on loot.

Nefarian – Extremely simple these days. He still does a Class Call that disarms Warriors and breaks Hunter weapons so you may want to bring extra weapons if you play one of those classes. The rest of the class calls are easily dealt with or ignored. AoE adds, burn him down, AoE more adds, loot his head.

Next time I'll look at AQ40 before we move into Burning Crusade raids where things get more interesting.

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