This weekend I rolled up a level 100 premade on one of the PvP Warlords of Draenor Beta servers and dove into the LFD tool to take a look at both the new healing model, as well as one of the new dungeons. After getting my keybinds and mouseover macros all fixed up, LFD popped, and it put me in Upper Blackrock Spire (UBRS).
(Note: After running this, I ran with some heroic raider folks with myself as DPS, and everything died literally twice as fast. The healer also had 0 problems healing the tank who was also a bear. Apparently my LFD group was pretty awful overall, both tank and DPS, so take the following with that in mind. The notes are largely intact from the LFD run).
Note that for this run, Blizzard scaled our gear down to ilvl 600 and character level to 100. Also, spoilers in the video and in the dungeon text below, duh.
First I'm going to talk about the new healing model for a bit, and how it felt in general. From a high level, it felt very much like playing Cataclysm again, except mana regen was a bit more generous than it was in Cata. Usually people died because the damage outpaced my throughput or they did something stupid, not because I went OOM. Granted, there were a couple fights where I was OOM, or pretty close to it, but overall it felt a lot more fun.
I'll talk about it a bit more in the context of fights, but there were some fights where DPS sat at about 20% of their total health for a good 30 seconds and survived, even with outgoing AoE damage. If they were judicious about staying out of the bad, then they'd survive a lot longer. At the end of a fight, when you're on running on fumes, the DPS' ability to avoid the bad is basically the decider on when they live or die. Which frankly, I like.
Tank healing as a Holy Paladin was a bit rough, however. I was running Eternal Flame, Clemency, Divine Purpose, Holy Prism, Saved by the Light as my talent loadout. I'll consider trying Beacon of Insight on my next run, but a 30% health bubble up to once a minute can be HUGE in this new healing model.
For the most part, tank damage taken was higher than my throughput just spamming Holy Light. The bear tank's health was 320k, and my Holy Light would do about 14k in raw healing (plus another 20% bubble for mastery), so we're talking each heal filling up about 4.4% of the tank's health bar, and another 0.9% bubble.
However, with our small heal gone, Holy Light does interact with Beacon of Light to generate Holy Power, so I found my Holy Power generation to be a fair bit higher than on live. Once I had that figured out (because without my UI, the holy power meter is so far away), healing became a lot easier. In fact, it was pretty easy to get all five of us have 30 second Eternal Flames rolling, which meant the tank was getting about 3k health every 2 seconds (50% Beacon of Light transfer, 500 from each DPS, 750 from me, 1000 on the tank proper), which helped immensely. It also helped slowly fill those DPS health bars up.
But even so, tank damage was pretty harsh; my single target throughput felt really, really weak. Clemency and freely using Hand of Sacrifice (glyphed, of course) was a requirement, otherwise there'd have been a lot more tank deaths. I also chose Divine Purpose after running Holy Avenger for a while. Given how quickly we can build Holy Power, Holy Avenger didn't feel quite as powerful as it used to.
Similar to the beginning of MoP, Divine Purpose is an excellent mana saving talent, which may be why some fights I didn't run as OOM as I could have. This may change as we get more stats as the expansion progresses. Also, I feel like the Divine Purpose proc should be bumped to 10 seconds instead of 8, since the consuming spells now have a cast time, so you effectively have 1.5 seconds less to use it. The proc power aura that pops is also translucent now, which actually makes it harder for me to notice it. I'd rather it be solid again.
I did find I had to use Flash of Light quite a bit, often spamming it three or four times in a row to get the tank into safer (i.e: 50% health) territory. It's good, because on live I don't think I ever use that spell. Might mean the Glyph of Flash of Light may be more useful this expansion.
While I missed having lots of throughput cooldowns--because I rarely stack my cooldowns on live using them separately over time to handle smaller scenarios--I have to say having everything rolled up into Avenging Wrath makes me feel like a minor deity. That cooldown is about the only time I can actually fill health bars back up to full, and it happens in relatively short order. I have to say, it feels really fun pressing that button just because of how much more potent my healing becomes with it. It's like popping a Healing Tide Totem today. Health bars just bam, go up.
Overall, healing was fun. A lot more fun than it is on live. Mediocre tanks can't chain pull and expect healers to get them through it, but mana isn't so bad that you need to sit down between pulls every time. DPS are in control of their own destiny, and if they're good at staying out of the bad, can comfortably sit at 50% health for quite some time. If they're excellent, even 20% to 30% for a little while is okay. Melee still suck your mana like nobody's business though. Some design factors never change.
It rarely felt like I needed to panic, and the couple times I did, that's what Lay on Hands or Avenging Wrath is for. I don't miss my small auto-attack heal at all, and I don't miss Divine Plea, either for that matter. I do miss Hand of Salvation because the number of times someone pulled aggro...while that wasn't instant-death like it would be today, it was a huge drain on my mana.
On the other hand, the food given to use by default generates mana soooooooooooooooooooooooo slowly. It takes like a full minute to regenerate my mana pool on it. That was awful.
Upper Blackrock Spire (UBRS)
Our comp was a Holy Paladin (me), a Bear Tank, a Warlock, Death Knight, and Hunter for DPS. I have no idea what specs the DPS were. The group was gathered via the LFD tool. For Blizzard's benefit, my experience is 14/14N and some Heroic raiding attempts. The other players were not very good at either DPS, nor staying out of the bad. The tank did not seem to be using much self-healing, either.
In the initial pulls, some of the trash packs were a little close to each other. There's a distinct case early on in the linked video at like 4 minutes where a trash pack comes out of no where and aggros on me for healing too much. Not sure why, but double pulls were pretty common throughout the dungeon as a whole.
In the first trash pulls, some things, like the slow "arcane explosions" were pretty obvious to get out of, but there was some strange red circles that expanded slowly that I had no idea why they were doing what they were. When I ran as DPS, I figured out they were coming from banners. I still don't know what the banners do, but if SoO taught me anything, it's that Banners and Totems are the greatest threat to Azeroth since Deathwing and must be taken out immediately.
We went into this fight blind, with the exception of the tank, who knew most of the dungeon. Boss sits on top of a pedestal, and summons weird spike things that have an aura around them. Until after the fight completed, I had no idea what those spikes were (since the spikes didn't clear up when the boss died). Apparently they push you away from the spike itself; they're a repulsion aura.
The boss himself summoned flying sawblades on the tank (Blade of Steel, not the hockey Nintendo game). He also cast the occasional AoE called Shrapnel Nova which hit the party for a good 25% of their total health.
At about 75%, 50%, and 25% of his health, he'd activate these lightning conduits around the room and AoE the raid until people deactivated them. The raid warning made it obvious, which was good.
We one shot this encounter. The mechanics were mostly obvious, damage wasn't terribly high (and none of it was avoidable with the exception of deactivating the lightning conduits fast enough), so easily healable. I ended the fight with about 25% of my mana pool remaining.
Note the monster label says Orebender, but the quest text says Oremaster.
Heeeeee, it's Maloriak v2.0! He comes with a bunch of adds, one of which is CC'able. Two Drakonid Monstrosities, which perform a long line of fire on the ground occasionally (Eruption), and a Black Iron Emissary, who I have no idea what he did.
We wiped the first time because the DPS didn't focus the adds. There was a lot of tank damage going out because of boss plus two adds (since we CC'd the Emissary). Instead, the DPS got the boss down to 50% first, at which point he started putting green pools of crap on the ground, so having to dodge those AND dodge the Eruptions with a single instant heal (Holy Shock) made healing pretty much impossible.
Our second attempt, the DPS actually followed the age-old adage of Adds > Boss, and we downed him pretty handily. The tank damage was definitely front loaded, though with all of the green crap on the ground the AoE damage ramped considerably at the end of the fight. In fact, it was extremely unforgiving healing-wise at the end; DPS needed to move FAST or the healer would never keep up with the outgoing damage. In fact, our Warlock died, and the other four of us were about 30% each at the end.
I ended that fight again with 40% of my remaining mana.
A slight aside, the Black Iron Veterans are absolutely hilarious. Their shield slam launches you across the room. Watching our Hunter get nailed and fly waaaaay far away had me rollicking in laughter. It was hands down the most hilarious thing I had seen all dungeon. (Look at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_2EyYri7tDw#t=1224)
Trash in general was tuned pretty high. Each trash pull had a serious chance of tank death, so there wasn't much downtime. Also, the fact that Beacon of Light still heals around corners was helpful on the trash pulls.
I don't know if our DPS as a whole was a bit low, if the mob health was tuned a bit high, or what, but trash pulls took forever to take down. In the next boss fight, it also showed.
Gauntlet fight! You have 3 waves, but it's not really obvious when one wave ends, though it is obvious when each wave begins, as you have stragglers show up over time. Adds come in from both an end of the arena, and above, making it pretty difficult for the tank to pick everything up. I ended up doing a fair bit of heal tanking.
However, coming out of the three waves and directly into the boss fight proper, I was already OOM before we started, which basically doomed our attempt to failure from the start. The drake's breath weapon is super nasty, not only doing a lot of damage, but puts a stacking debuff on the people hit that increases fire damage taken by 100% per stack. Stand in that for like 2 ticks and you're pretty well dead.
After we wiped, we got back, and thankfully we didn't need to do the entire gauntlet a second time; we could just face the drake and Commander Tharbek himself immediately.
He seemed to have a number of abilities. One was an axe he threw that caused a bleed. Another puts a circle of slime on the ground. He also hits the tank relatively hard.
He summons spinning axes like Nazgrim's Ravager, but they're on fire, making them extremely high visibility, rather than Nazgrim's Ravager which is really hard to see because it's a grey weapon on a brown background. However, they move in what seems to be gentle arcs around the room, making them really hard to track. There were cases where I thought I would be get but it arced around me, and other cases where it snuck up behind me and I just couldn't get away because it was travelling in the same arc as I was moving, which was extremely annoying. It felt like there wasn't an obvious movement pattern. They are super pretty though. They seemed to be summoned on a cadence, or at % health, not sure, but there was four of them at one point since they don't despawn, and in that tiny room pretty much impossible to avoid.
At about 25% health, like Nazgrim, he summons reinforcements, and you get a bunch of adds. (Note: apparently it's not actually health based, our DPS were just REALLY slow at taking him down. The "enrage" of adds is timer-based). We ended up burning the boss down because frankly we were all nearly dead. However, once the boss died, the adds and axes disappeared. We basically sat at 20% health each for the final 15 seconds of the boss fight, and I had about 20% of my mana remaining, noting that we didn't start this fight from the gauntlet.
Trash Intermission and Son of the Beast
The next trash is where I'd expect to get the Leeroy Jenkins achieve. There's a bunch of whelp cages, and some of the adds (Drake-keepers) will run off to release the whelps. If you slow them/stun them, you can prevent it from occurring, but if you don't, you get overwhelmed quickly. We ended up having to pull into the previous room to prevent that from occurring once we wiped to the trash once. It was pretty crazy.
There's a bonus boss off to the left called Son of the Beast. It's a core hound, and he charges people, knocks them back a fair distance, and leaves a trail of fire which does damage, and leaves a DoT. He also performs a physical (non-dispelable) fear, quite often, which was annoying. In fact, most of the trash in this area chain-fears. Otherwise the boss is quite straight-forward and healing is pretty light. Nothing really crazy.
We did not go into this fight blind, as the tank explained it, but holy cow, what the hell. His explanation still didn't quite prepare me for what occurred. While we did one shot it, it was pretty close.
First of all, you end up fighting a protodrake on a bridge, and not a very big bridge at that. The fight is two phases which repeat, then a third phase at the end
Phase 1 he's flying up against the bridge, and nails the tank pretty hard, drops pools of fire on the ground, and picks either left or right side of the bridge and performs a nasty fire breath sweep which does about 50% of your health in damage and disorients you. You need to be in the center of the bridge, or you'll never avoid it.
Phase 2 he flies away and starts bombarding the bridge with fireballs. While you can technically avoid them, it was extremely difficult to do so. I think I just ended up healing through it. A large group of whelps also shows up, which you need to hande.
After a set of P1, P2, P1, P2, you enter P3 (dunno if it's timed or health based), the protodrake lands on the bridge and starts mauling your tank with a stacking bleed DoT. You still need to handle pools of fire below you, but it's a race to basically kill him before he kills your tank.
Pretty frantic fight, healing-wise. I also noticed that pets don't seem to have AoE damage reduction anymore, or it's not enough. The Warlock and Hunter pets kept dying pretty quickly as far as I could tell, which is annoying. (Note: Confirmed. I ran as a mage later and my Water Elemental died so many times during the dungeon he may as well have not been there :( ).
(Fights Start: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_2EyYri7tDw#t=3585)
(Kill Pull: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_2EyYri7tDw#t=5040)
First of all, none of us had seen her before, so we looked in the dungeon journal to see what she did. It tells you about her knockback attack, but then it tells the tank to put their back against a wall. What wall, Blizzard?
The fight is basically three phases and takes place on a relatively small arena suspended above a pit of lava. If you get knocked off, game over.
In phase 1, the tank needs to position her so that his back is to at least 60% of the arena so he can land on the platform when he gets knocked back. She also can do a whirlwind attack where she picks a random person and chases them, doing AoE damage as she moves. It's not a lot of AoE damage, mind you, so I found it easier for the tank at least to just sit there if he's the one targeted so he can make sure he's positioned correctly. It only did about 9k damage a tick on me (but I am in plate with a shield). She has an axe throw that does so little damage that I didn't even register as it happening until I watched footage after the fact.
At 50% health, she leaves the arena and summons a bunch of adds. On top of the adds, protodrakes show up on either the front, or the "right" of the arena (if you're looking out from the entrance) and perform a conal fire attack that does a fair bit of damage (20k a tick). You need to be watching for the drakes and moving ahead of time. Since it is a conal attack, you'll want to be closer to the drakes rather than further as less of the arena is hit there. It's really hard to dodge the fire well away from the drakes.
Once the adds are dead, phase 3 is just a combo of phase 1 and the protodrakes from phase 2. So don't get knocked off if you're the tank, dodge the whirlwind, and dodge the fire. Sounds simple, but it's a lot of damage going out and you can get behind quite easily if your party isn't careful.
We took about 30 minutes to kill Zaela (5 pulls, I think?), but I ended the fight with about 15% of my total mana.
Do note there is a bug where the protodrakes continue to show up and breathe fire all over the platform despite Zaela being dead.
It was a fun dungeon. Some of the trash was a bit grueling, especially between Kyrak, Blackrock Stadium, and Ragewing, but as one of my stream watchers put it, it gave it that authenticate UBRS marathon feel. Without wipes the run would've taken about 45 minutes. With wipes, about an hour and a half. Still feels a little bit long, however, but that could also be due to the health tuning/dps tuning.
Difficulty-wise with the group I had, it's on par with early Cataclysm heroic 5-mans, or a little bit easier. The mechanics aren't quite as unforgiving as say, Stonecore was, but healing this dungeon was a pretty similar experience to healing Heroic Grim Batol that first week of Cataclysm, but with more mana, which given that was the Normal 100 version of the dungeon might be tuned a bit high. I felt like an ilvl of 600 was probably a little low for the dungeon overall, and I imagine we'll have a higher ilvl when we first hit 100, but I could be wrong.
I'm loving the new healing model. It does feel like they took the lessons they learned in MoP and Cata and applied them. It'll be interesting to see how this works when it gets tweaked a bit and goes live, and how healing throughput/mana regen scales. As I said earlier, my issue was almost always throughput and other players, not mana as long as I didn't spam Holy Radiance/Flash of Light.
When I ran later as DPS with a heroic raid-capable premade group, the dungeon and mechanics were trivial. I wasn't healing, but our healer was never below 50% mana, and rarely below 80%, and the Druid tank needed very little healing in general. My Enhancement Shaman also was capable of 46k Healing Surge crits with 5 Maelstrom Weapon stacks, so that was fun to basically be able to heal myself and have the healer ignore me mostly; that may need a little tuning still. So the skill gulf between awful but still completable, and fantastic is huge. I think that's pretty par for the course in WoW in general, but it's interesting to note just how hard this dungeon feels with middling to poor players, and it's a normal dungeon. The Heroic version must be nuts. I'm actually hoping it is!
#WarlordsOfDraenor, #Beta, #Healing