As the Plague wing in ICC was released Tuesday I thought I would take a few moments to jot down some thoughts on it all. We’ve been running ICC for a month now, and thus far I’m extremely happy with it. TOC was a nice respite, but it’s back to the norm in ICC with several bosses with varied mechanics and interesting twist, trash aplenty, and something we haven’t seen since WotLK was released – Rep Grinds. Long time players will find the rep grind aspect familiar as it was a normal part of raiding in Vanilla and BC but had been completely absent up to this point. Unfortunately the only reward for the rep grind is a ring (no strength ring Blizz? Seriously?) or access to crafting patterns at honored. No special items of gear, jewel crafting or inscription patterns, or consumables as had been the norm in BC and Vanilla.
The trash in the initial wing seems like a lot at the outset, but really isn’t as bad as it might look at first glance. It takes only 20-30 minutes to clear to Marrowgar, after which there is a single room of four trash pulls to clear, and then three trash pulls between the second and third bosses. There is no trash to clear between the third and final boss – Saurfang. That is much less than what we would normally expect in a traditional raid instance, and for the most part that level of trash is carried forward into the Plague wing as well. The trash is numerically less in the Plague wing, though individually they are much harder and typically require more group healing than is experienced from the trash in the initial wing. Unlike the four skeletal “mini-bosses” that can be fought (or not) in the initial wing, you must engage the two mini-bosses in the Plague wing. Stinky, and Precious are nothing short of a surprise if you don’t already know what to expect from them. Precious and Stinky carry forward the decimate effect used by Gluth in Naaxramus, however with a twist from Stinky. Precious is probably the easier of the two and should be brought down the stair case a little when engaging him so as not to agro Stinky if you end up fighting in the doorway.
Precious is a typical tank and spank until his decimate, which requires massive AOE healing. During his decimates he summoned a number of zombies, which we simply ignored until after we had killed him. Stinky on the other hand is the harder of the two. He doesn’t call forth zombies, but he does feature an aoe damage tick (his stinky cloud) that can cause a number of deaths if you are low on health from the decimate he also does. I ended up judging light the entire fight to help my group with healing, and we needed it. I can not emphasize enough how much group healing is required from this one encounter, more than any other in the entire wing. The other trash mobs that are present in the wing are more powerful than anything in the initial wing, but they are easily manageable with some forethought.
I noted with some levity yesterday when I read the “patch” notes before the servers came back online, seeing the Lady Deathwhisper encounter had been nerfed. Not only was her mana shield reduced by about 2.5 million points, but the health on the adds was also reduced, and the casters were further nerfed so they didn’t cast quite as often. There were many comments in Vent during the fight regarding how much easier it was, though we were just fine with it as it was. That fight, more than any other up to Saurfang required good coordination and carry-through. Blizzard mentioned simply on the forum that the nerfs were in-line in order to assist more casual guilds and PUGs to be able to complete the content. Saurfang remains the wings only boss in the wing now that presents much of a challenge, and that only if you do not have a group that has good coordination and capable of successfully kiting. The ship battle is much akin to the chess event in Karazhan and not really worthy of being called a boss event in the raid.
But the bosses in the Plague wing are something all together different. Actually I can only say that of Festergut, who we cleared to and got two attempts on before having to call it quits last night. Those two attempts were quite the eye opener and told me we probably have a great amount of work ahead of us before we move much further in the wing. I understood the fight before stepping into his room, but seeing the fight in someone else’s video and experiencing it first hand are something entirely different. I was utterly unprepared for the massive damage we would all take and the utter unpreparedness with which our healers were to deal with it. Our first attempt it was over at 90%. Our second attempt it was over at 86%, and I simply see no way a PUG is going to carry that fight off any time soon. You need lots of AOE healing, which of course means you have to stack your healers with a couple tank healers, and the rest all capable of group/AOE healing. In the thread Blizzard commented in yesterday regarding the nerf to the Lady Deathwhisper encounter, they agreed with the postulation that they are seeking to fine tune the instance so that the encounters become progressively more difficult. That is the case, I believe, in the initial wing save for the Ship fight. But Festergut is so much more difficult than Saurfang as to make that statement completely ludicrous. I’ve read the strats for Rotgut and Festergut, and I believe Rotgut is actually somewhat easier, but our raid leader insisted Festergut was the easier of the two. I, of course, won’t be able to opine on that until I witness it personally. But unless it is much easier than Festergut I still would say the ramp up in difficulty from Saurfang to either of those two would be far too great.
Thursday night should be fairly interesting as we’ll have a full night of attempts in the Plague wing, so I’ll report more about it Friday or Saturday.