Posted Tue, Jan 22, 2013 by Messiah
Last week the lead encounter designer, Ion “watcher” over at Blizzard put up a large post on the Developer Watercooler that discusses his take on encounter tuning. If you haven’t read it yet, you really should, it is quite good and sheds some light on the thought process and checks and balances that need to be looked at when tuning encounters.
For those that have not read through the article, it can be found here: Developer Watercooler: Encounter Tuning.
Having read through the article several times now, and having dealt with all of the various Mists of Pandaria raid boss encounters, I would like to go through and provide my own spin on encounter tuning. Which encounters has Blizzard done a good job at tuning, and which are just out to lunch. For the encounters that are out of whack, what about them is wrong, are they too powerful, too weak, or is a mechanic too punishing.
This expansion I have been playing mainly as a casual player since my son is now involved in raiding and I couldn’t find a guild that I liked that suited the raid times he and I had together. Therefore most of this is looked at from a casual players perspective. Most encounters being fought in LFR raids with the occasional one done on normal mode with a group found in trade chat.
So which three encounters in MOP does the Messiah think are the best and worst tuned for LFR? Find out below, and don’t forget to voice your opinion at the end in our comments section.
For those players that may not be participating in LFR raids, why aren't you? Find out all about them right here in our guide to Mists of Pandaria LFR Basics.
Elegon – This fight just works. While some complained that it was too hard to start out with, it really is all about timing and awareness more than anything else in LFG. For groups that understood the mechanics, the fight was challenging but manageable. This mean actually picking up the add, keeping the boss faced away, killing the sparks, and getting off the platform before it died. With even bare minimum gear the fight was achievable in LFR version as long as you did what you were supposed to.
If however players didn’t pay attention and ignored key fight mechanics, it doesn’t seem to matter how good their gear is. They will still die in the encounter and if you end up with enough players like that in your group, you have no chance of getting the raid completed.
Therefore for killing people that can not read, and rewarding players who have basic gear but can do as they are told, this fight gets my approval.
Tsulong – This boss from the Terrace of Endless Spring does cause issues for many groups since it has a different mechanic, healing the boss. However, it is also a great example of a well tuned fight. It doesn’t seem to matter if you are just starting in the Terrace or if you have several upgrades from here, the fight relies on you being aware of what is going on around you, and dealing with it. The difference from a few pieces of gear being upgraded does help, but the fight is more about the mechanics and doing it correctly than an extra few thousand DPS or HPS.
Will of the Emperor – This fight seems balanced almost perfectly when players are just reaching it. After gearing up in subsequent raids it does get to be a little too simple, however that can be said of any raid encounter once players are geared with the subsequent tier of raid gear.
This fight can be managed with players that are barely geared for the encounter as long as everyone does exactly what they are supposed to. The first few times I ran this fight in LFR when it was first released groups were just able to finish the fight in time as long as players paid attention. We had just enough DPS to drop the Emperor’s Courage before it reached a tank. Groups also had just enough DPS to clear Rages and Strength’s in time for gas phases so that DPS could focus on the bosses at the correct time.
All of the above showed to me that Blizzard had balanced the fight extremely well for the time it was released.
The Stone Guard – This fight has a lot of potential, and really is balanced well in the normal version. However in the raid finder version because of simplification the lowering of damage caused by the bosses abilities, the fight really becomes a joke. This is really too bad, since on normal mode the fight is challenging and well balanced. In fact this fight has one of the steeper difficulty ramp ups from LFR to normal.
In a LFR group all you need to do is avoid the mines, pools, and move towards the other chained person. The bosses can simply all be tanked together and DPS and heal through the other abilities. For the overly simplified tank and spank mechanics, this encounter gets onto my worst tuned list.
Lei Shi – This cute little boss, while not tuned excessively poorly power or DPS wise, ranks on my worst tuned encounters due to the mechanics of the fight. The mechanics make this fight one of the poorest tuned encounters currently in the game.
The main issue is that the fight relies on having enough players that are able to do specific things. This is very rarely the case in LFR raids. You must have enough players that are able to AOE and locate the boss to break her out of hiding. You must also have enough AOE healing players to keep people up during the get away phase. Lastly, you must get lucky enough on the phases so that you do not end up with too many of the ones that the group is least able to handle.
Some groups can deal with the AOE DPS but not AOE healing, and end up wiping because they get several get away phases. Others can deal with both AOE, but do not have enough coordinated burst to keep the adds in check. Lastly, sometimes it just seems that you go from phase to phase to phase with no time to actually DPS the boss itself.
This boss seems to cause so many wipes of groups in LFR that are otherwise doing just fine.
Sha of Fear– This fight isn’t here because the tuning is so far out of balance that groups can never beat him, in fact I would almost prefer that, being a main antagonist in the expansion. No, instead his tuning is so far out of whack the other way for an end of raid boss, that he is laughable. I have done him on multiple characters every week since release and have yet to have any issues defeating him with a LFR raid.
While that is nice gear and time wise, there are groups that had players in them that had no right being there with their lack lustre DPS or healing, yet somehow after several wipes on early bosses in the raid, no issue on the big final boss. That just seems wrong to me. The second and third encounters in the Terrace of Endless Spring raid are far more difficult for groups than the Sha of Fear is.
While the fight has some interesting mechanics, in the end it fails for being way too easy to defeat and therefore makes this list.
Do you have an opinion on which encounters you find the best or worst balanced? Feel free to voice your opinion below. Just make sure you mention which encounter and which difficulty you are commenting on, since many are tuned very differently between the three difficulty levels.