This Week in Raiding: Progression Road Kill

This Week in Raiding is a (hopefully) weekly feature discussing the raiding encounters that my guild tackled this week, the lessons learned from them, as well as any news or thoughts on raiding in general.


In the past several weeks, Shadowgarde has been doing very well when it comes to progression, especially given some of the restrictions that are inherent to a casual raiding guild.  Even with a lack of healers and a raid composition that is never the same twice, we have managed to down bosses consistently and haven't regressed on any of the encounters that we have downed previously.

This week was our first look at three new encounters that completely kicked our ass.  And I don't mean 20% wipes or Oh-My-God-We-Almost-Had-Him-If-Only-That-Guy-Hadn't-Had-His-Head-Up-His-Ass type of wipes.  No, we're talking the 20-Seconds-Into-The-Fight-Holy-Fuck-What-Just-Happened wipe.


There was some good news this week.  Our Sunday/Monday raid group went into BWD and took down the three bosses that we've killed so far with little trouble.  Magmaw was one-shot perfectly, Omnitron was taken down quickly with only a couple of wipes, and Maloriak was defeated for the second time after about an hour or so of working on it.  After a couple of attempts on Halfus we wrapped up our first raid night with very high spirits, as it was significant progress given that we hadn't managed to get all three bosses down in one night previously.


The trouble started with Halfus and the lovely drake combination that was up last week:  Nether, Storm and Slate.  Everything that I have read on this fight says that this is the worst possible threesome, and it's a hellish way to get your first look at this encounter.  What with the stacking healing debuff, the increased attack speed and Shadow Nova knocking everyone back and interrupting everything, most of our attempts didn't get very far before people started dying.  We tried it twice this past week, with two different raid groups and didn't really get very far.  At least people have now seen the fight and have an idea what to expect.  I'm hoping that with this little bit of experience and a slightly easier drake combination that we'll make some headway this week.  

I am honestly a little astonished that this boss is considered an "entry level" raid boss on par with Magmaw.  He hits freaking hard.


Walking in to this encounter on Monday evening was a bit of a shock, honestly.  I figured that we'd keep working on Halfus, so I was quite unprepared for this fight.  And as a healer, this fight is a complete and utter shock the first time you try it.  

If you haven't seen this fight before, it has a really interesting and unique mechanic.  The raid gets an buff that prevents them from being one-shot as long as they are about 10,000 health.  This is very good, since the boss will periodically hit the raid for 280,000 damage.  As long as everyone is above this level the raid is fine and it's the healer's job to get them back to 10k but no further, which puts a unique twist on healing.  Small, fast heals and mana efficiency seem to be whats needed here, and any heal that goes out while someone is over 10k health is utterly wasted.  It really made me take a long, hard look at my healing spell choices.

At the same time the Tanks are going to be taking a huge amount of damage and need to be topped off.  They have the same buff preventing them from being one shot as long as they're over 10k health, but often they will be struck with a double attack that can kill them if their health is too low.

And of course the buff will periodically disappear and everyone needs to rock their biggest AOE heals to keep up with the damage.  This fight seems to be designed to really test the healers mana management skills.

Our attempts on this boss ended badly.  We had two Holy Paladins and a Holy Priest, which didn't seem to be a very good combination for this fight.  My heals seemed to be coming in too slow to help keep the raid up, and the tanks seemed to need everything we could throw at them to keep alive.  By the end we had one Paladin on the tanks, the Priest on the raid and I was bouncing in between them, which seemed to work better.  It looks that we need a lot of work on this fight yet.


After about an hour of solid futility with Chimaeron, we decided to take a look at Atramedes.  The trash packs of Dark Iron Dwarf Spirits in his room caused us a great deal of trouble, particularly the group on the left.  Chain Lightning is nasty, and make a mental note that these guys don't reset and have no leash.  During one rather unique wipe we ended up accidentally kiting them back up the elevator to the entrance where they immediately attacked anyone who zoned into the instance.  I was laughing my ass off, even as I did my second corpse run of the pull.

At this point in the night, we had pretty much chaulked this night up to a learning experience anyway, so our attempts on Atramedes only lasted for about half an hour.  We did get a good sense of the fight mechanics, and it looks like he will be the next boss that we tackle.

I love the mechanics that this fight brings to the table.  The sound bar and the gongs are very cool.  And the visual effects of his special abilities are unique and beautiful.  I am looking forward to working on this fight; it looks like a lot of fun.


This raid week really showed me the benefits of preparation.  We were prepared and ready to tackle Magmaw, Omnitron and Maloriak and we got them down quickly and efficiently.  We struggled on the bosses that we weren't prepared for, even though the Raid Leaders knew the strategy and communicated it to the raid.  Obvious as it may seem, reading up on the bosses beforehand and watching videos on the fight makes a world of difference.  As well, during progression, Raid Leaders need to communicate which bosses will be tackled next so that the raid can have an adequate chance to prepare themselves.  Surprises in a raid setting will lead to wipes, repair bills and drama.  Do everything you can to minimize them. 

UPDATE 4.Feb.2011

Last night our Tuesday/Thursday raid group went into Bastion of Twilight to continue working on Halfus.  Due to the lack of healers that I've talked about before it took them a long time to get the raid together, and had a couple of alts subbing in the healing spots.  I listened in on Ventrilo and our healer channel and it seemed like they were making some good progress.  With about an hour left in the raid, I was asked to sub in for one of the healer alts.  It caused a little drama with my wife, but I agreed.

The fight went so much better than last week.  I was assigned the tanks and we started making some real progress towards the fight, but were still wiping pretty consistently before the drakes were down.  On our very last attempt, however, we had a really good one going; the tanks were up, my mana was good (I had tunnel vision bad enough that I have NO idea how the other healers were managing) and the drakes went down.  It's amazing how much easier this fight gets once the drakes start falling.

With literally one second left until the enrage timer, Halfus fell.  It felt good.


  1. Gratz on your raid successes! Aye, not preparing will wipe and wipe a raid. As long as this is understood, that taking a looksee at other bosses is for just that, looking and learning and 'cooking' in a fight for another day, then a bit of that is ok. Those expecting to just walk in at down a boss w/o preparation are not gonna be as happy.

    Nice post, thanks!

  2. Awesome post! Raid preparation is so easy now and the fights are super easy to look up that I'm amazed most don't come to the fights with some kind of information. I've heard many people say I can watch a video or read about it until I'm blue in the face, but it isn't until I do it that I truly understand. Grats on your bosskills! :)

  3. @Ttrinity: Yes, seeing a fight is the best way to learn it, no question. The main difference between this raid night and the previous ones is that we didn't get anything new down, hence the title of the post. Still, it's unrealistic to expect to never have weeks like that, I suppose.

    Thanks for the comment!

    @Mirandinn: Ya, raid prep is very easy if you know what's coming! I also try to have the wowpedia page up on my second monitor so that I can reference it during wipes or during the strat explaination, which helps. But as with most people, I presume, I learn by doing, and having seen the fights I can now mentally walk through them and hopefully do better next time.

  4. Couldn't agree more with preparing for a raid. Even if you choose to switch up the strategy a little bit, it's still good going in knowing the basic boss mechanics.

    Glad to hear your raid progression is coming along. Atramedes is one of my favorite fights, too. The concept is just so unique and cool. :)

  5. Great post! I just recently had the oppurtunity to go against Halfus with my guild and we had the same drake combo as yours. Let me tell you, it went BAD. I think the longest we lived was just shy of 1 minute. The biggest issue was the initial tank damage with the combo of the AoE pushback. The two together made all attempts nearly impossible. For some reason they were convinced on taking the Time Drake rather than being able to interrupt the AoE... It was frustrating, but our goal was only trash for that night so no one was to angry.

    Would Magmaw be considered a better entry-raid than Halfus from your experience?

    BTW I just started reading your blog and am really enjoying it! Keep up the good work!

    MSTRKRFT - Skywall

  6. @Janyaa: Thank you for the comment. It's lovely to hear from you, as always.

    @mstrkrft: Welcome to the blog, and that you for the comment!

    Yes, I think that Magmaw is a much easier initial raid encounter than Halfus, especially with that murderous drake combination. It's less complicated, particularly for the healers (assuming you're in melee range and not dancing with the ranged... WTB new underwear if that is the case).

    That being said, we got Halfus down last night with the new drake combo (Whelps, Slate and Time) and it was better. The initial damage is intense, don't be stingy with your mana until you have at least one drake down. As the drakes get killed, there is time to regen and catch your breath.

    lol, I guess I know what my next TWIR is going to be. :)