Getting Into the Game
Cataclysm is live and players are rushing to level and gear up for raiding and PvP. This latest expansion of World of Warcraft had the quickest leveling curve bar none, blowing away the previous expansions. Thanks to the quick leveling a huge number of players have hit 85 already and have begun to gear up in the 7 new 5-player instances.
As people were leveling up they did instances appropriate to the leveling process; Blackrock Caverns and Throne of the Tides at 80-82, Stonecore and Vortex Pinnacle at 82-83, and Tolvir at 84. Many started to get the feeling that maybe 5 player content wouldnt be the easy ride that it was in Wrath of the Lich King. Boy, were they ever right.
The Cataclysm instance system is identical to Burning Crusade and Wrath in the sense that once you hit max level youll be able to do a more difficult Heroic version of 5 player instances. The only change made in Cataclysm was to add in a minimum average item level requirement (currently set at 329 for heroics) which in all honesty is much needed.
This time around heroics are no joke. They are tuned to brutalize players coming into them in entry level gear and even challenging for player in gear from the heroics themselves. Blizzard clearly took a lot of time and effort in designing the new heroics. The bosses have multiple phases, multiple sets of abilities and in many cases completely new mechanics.
If youre on the way up to 85 or at 85 thinking of doing heroics then its highly advisable to do so within the framework of friends you know or a guild. Coordination is absolutely mandatory, the Random Dungeon Finder is not going to cut it unless youre willing to invite your randoms onto a Ventrilo server. Voice communication is also highly helpful.
Like all instances some are easier than others. Heres a helpful guide of which heroics you can safely venture into and which are going to kick your ass in a pickup group.
Heroic: Shadowfang Keep
Heroic: The Deadmines
Keep in mind that gearing in heroics is basically mandatory. The new raid bosses are no joke and unless you happen to be in Paragon or Ensidia then youre going to need the gear.
Adaptability Is a Must
The nature of the raid game has changed overnight. Healing in particular is upside down from what players knew just weeks ago. Many healers who cant adapt are rerolling DPS classes out of despair, but those willing to tough it out and re-learn it are going to be rewarded with one of the most skilled roles in WoW.
The big changes to healing came in the form of scorched earth nerfs to both throughput and mana regeneration. Gone are the days when healers would fight over the last scraps of healing necessary to top up the raid to 100%, now DPS that stand in the fire are going to be on their own because their healers simply cannot spare the mana or the time to get them back up. Running out of mana is a real issue as well for both healers and DPS casters. Blizzard is forcing players to make real choices with their abilities and forcing DPS and tanks to obey fight mechanics and to self-heal and avoid damage as much as possible.
Entry Level Raiding
When it comes to accessibility theres no doubt at all; the easiest raid boss in the game is Argaloth. This big guy is the first boss of Baradin Hold which, for those of you who played Wrath of the Lich King, is basically the Cataclysm equivalent of the Vault of Archavon.
Argaloth is very killable in a mix of heroic and normal level 85 instance blues. Hes a big Pit Lord whose abilities are a bit of a rip-off of Brutallus in Sunwell Plateau.
Argaloth The Pit Lord
Meteor Slash Does a 200,000 damage AoE frontal cleave. This is fire damage and is split amongst all effected players. This effect inflicts a debuff causing all players hit to take 100% additional fire damage.
Consuming Darkness Does around 3000 damage and inflicts a powerful damage over time spell that ramps up in damage. This is a magic effect and can and should be dispelled.
Fel Firestorm Sprays the room with small circles of green fire that deal around 8,000 damage when stood in. These are easily avoided, but will cover the room during the two firestorm phases.
Berserk Argaloth has a strict 5 minute berserk timer. If you havent killed him by the time the clock runs out youre finished.
Due to his lack of repertoire in terms of abilities Argaloth is a great fight to test your raiding ability on, and more importantly test your gear level on. If you cant beat this guys enrage timer then you know its probably time to go back to farming heroics for a while.
Setup: 2 tanks, 2 healers, 8 dps.
Split into two groups one in front of the boss, and one on his flank 90 degrees to the left or right. The reason for this is to handle the Meteor Slash. Once one group gets hit with the Meteor Slash (which you want to hit all 5 people in that group) the other tank can taunt the boss and take the next Meteor Slash. The reason for doing this is the 100% fire damage increase debuff that Meteor Slash applies. This debuff expires after a while, but not before his next slash meaning that you taunt between the groups so that neither group takes 2 slashes in a row.
During this period Argaloth will also cast Consuming Darkness which must be dispelled. Other than that its a tank and spank.
At 66% and 33% Argaloth will cast Fel Firestorm which will spray patches of green fire all around the room. These arent hard to avoid and there is no other damage during this phase. Its important for DPS to make sure that they continue to do damage during these Firestorms so that the Berserk doesnt become an issue.
Argaloths Berserk timer is arguably the most difficult part of the fight. At 5 minutes it requires 6 DPS to do roughly 9000-10000 DPS each. This isnt too steep but its also not easy. Be prepared to use potions, elixirs, and maybe even flasks as well as smart cooldown usage to beat this Berserk.
Protip: Many players accustomed to late game Wrath of the Lich King DPS forget the value of being hit capped. Hit is not easy to come by in early Cataclysm and the cap is very high. Reforge your gear to hit, gem hit, do whatever you need to until you hit the cap. Itll up your DPS by thousands and make fights like this one a cinch.
The New Raid Tier
Thus far only the world top guilds have ventured far into Blackwing Descent, Bastion of Twilight, and Throne of the Four Winds. If youre feeling enterprising, however, then the best bosses to start off with would probably be Omnotron Defense System, Magmaw, and Halfus the Wyrmbreaker in that order.
You can find Omnotron and Magmaw in Blackwing Descent, there is very little trash between the entrance and these two bosses so youll be able to make quick attempts at them. Omnotron is currently by far the most killed boss other than Argaloth.
Halfus is the first boss in Bastion of Twilight. Hes rumored to be very easy relative to the rest of the bosses in the instance but theres a thick layer of difficult trash between you and him, so if youre just looking to get your feet wet then Blackwing Descent might be a better choice.
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