Searching for a challenge in CataclysmSeptember 22nd, 2011 at 0:02
Rick and I are saddened by how much the old world instances have been nerfed. Possibly, rather, by how much our characters have been buffed, such that there is very little challenge left for a tank/healer duo, even in dungeons that are supposedly for five people. With five players in these dungeons, there isn’t enough time for the bosses to do anything interesting; they’re burned down within a matter of seconds. The trash is usually far more dangerous. I’d be truly shocked if anyone died during a boss fight.
We were running BRD for our level 50 class quests, and in the dungeon finder’s infinite wisdom, the final boss for dungeon finder credit in the first half is actually the first boss of the dungeon, even though the NPCs at the beginning give you a bunch of quests for the other bosses in the first half. You can skip her and run all the way back when you’re done with the rest in order to hold your groupmates hostage, or you can kill her when you pass her area and hope your groupmates feel like sticking around. We did half and half, running around to kill the other early bosses, then coming back for the Interrogator before moving on to the bosses in the middle, and as expected, two of our DPS left shortly after. The third stuck around for a while, but eventually told us he had to go. We just shrugged and kept going, and the dungeon was not significantly more difficult without them.
Even when it was just the two of us, the mobs and bosses still don’t do enough damage to counteract my smite-heals most of the time, though I am bubbling more than usual. The only issue we have is that it takes us longer to kill the bosses, which isn’t really much of an issue at all if you consider that we were killing them far too fast when we did it with 5 people. Killing them more slowly allows us more time to see the cool abilities the bosses have.
For example, we ended up continuing through BRD all the way past the bar to the Ambassador (don’t remember his name but he’s one of those fiery snake-dudes), who was level 55 to our 52, and for the very first time EVER, I saw why he summoned those fire elementals to him. They buff him with a stacking buff that increases his damage! Since I don’t learn Holy Nova until 62 (a thing that I am continuously annoyed about) we really have no way to effectively stop those elementals, so the guy had something like a 16-stack of that buff by the time he went down. Even with 80% increased damage, he wasn’t hitting hard enough for me to stop smiting and start healing for real. I guess almost doubling a pathetically low number still results in a pretty pathetically low number.
This is the exact playstyle I’ve always asked for — being able to Smite and Holy Fire to my heart’s content while fighting bosses. The mechanic of it is incredibly fluid. I Holy Fire, and due to my glyph, the dot from that increases the damage my Smites do. Both of these damage spells also heal the tank for 100% of the damage they deal, so increasing the damage is increasing the healing. With each of them that I cast, I get a stacking buff that increases the damage of further uses (so, further increasing the healing) while decreasing the mana cost. At 5 stacks of this, I can remove those buff stacks to get pretty wings, a burst of restored mana, and a buff that increases all of my healing (including the healing from my Smite damage). On TOP of which, every time my Smite crits, the heal from it also counts as a crit — and critical heals create a bubble for 30% of the healing done.
All of this adds up to… I can’t do enough damage to compete with a real DPS (who would get 200% damage crits and a lot of passive buffs to increase their damage further) but what I CAN do is keep the tank topped off without having to stop dealing damage to do so. Prior to Cataclysm, I had to choose… I could deal damage, or I could heal. One or the other, but never both at the same time. If the tank was taking a certain amount of damage, I’d have to concentrate on healing, and the entirety of our damage was coming from the tank. And honestly, even now, I don’t think we’d be able to do this nearly as well if I were not a discipline priest.
The new mechanics allow us to quite easily two-man dungeons previously intended for 5 people, while in the intended level range. The loot that drops is actually good for us, and the best part is that we aren’t competing with anyone else for any of it. We’re actually kinda regretting that we didn’t think of this 40 levels ago.
But then we went to Sunken Temple, and stared in shock as we walked down the stairs to see an instance entrance earlier than it should be, and walked inside to see that we had skipped half of the dungeon. As bullshit as that place used to be with its endless low-level trash and semi-bosses that you had to fight your way through to unlock the end bosses, and the excessively long quest chain we had to do in order to summon Hakkar at all, I was proud of the fact that I knew my way around. Though, admittedly, I still had to go to Wowhead to remind myself which order to hit the statues in if I hadn’t been there within the past couple of weeks. But now, the place has been sliced in half, with all of the confusing hallways and stairs to the six statues removed entirely. “Destroyed in the Cataclysm” it seems.
I appreciate that there is now quest explanation for how the green dragons have been corrupted, and I also appreciate that the Hakkar fight doesn’t force you to wait through five minutes of extinguishing braziers before you can fight him, but it turns that fight into a simple tank n’ spank, as Hakkar himself doesn’t actually do anything at all other than attack. At least, he didn’t when we were fighting him.
Jammal’an, however, was one of the best challenges we’ve had so far. If you’ve ever run Sunken Temple in the past, you’ll know that he periodically mind-controls a member of the party. With the two of us, this was crazy. He’d mind-control the tank, and I’d have two bosses and a hella buffed party member all attacking me at the same time. That mind-control would wear off, and we’d have mere seconds until he would mind-control me instead. A couple of times, I just barely survived these phases, and we swapped back and forth over and over while whittling down his health in the few seconds between mind controls. Eventually taking him down was incredibly satisfying.
We moved out of his room and walked towards Eranikus, and were suddenly struck with a thought of “oh man, we should have prepared more for this!” We remembered his Deep Sleep ability that will cause this enormous dragon to ignore the tank and head straight for me, forcing me to tank him for an extended time until the tank wakes up again. Would I have enough health to survive the dragon’s onslaught? Rick handed me some food to increase my stamina for a bit, and we went in. The first two times Eranikus used his Deep Sleep, it seemed to be resisted. The third time, Rick used his human racial ability to break it, and grabbed Eranikus back again. It only actually worked twice, and both times, Eranikus only got two hits in before it wore off and he went back. He never even broke through my bubble, and he was far easier to take down than Jammal’an because of it.
I was actually pretty disappointed with that fight for a few hours afterward, until we were doing quests in Hellfire and I saw my glyphed bubble crit-heal for about 1500. Keeping in mind that the bubble glyph is only supposed to heal for 30% of the bubble’s amount, I glanced at my bubble’s tooltip. Turns out that my bubble’s health is almost as much as my entire health bar. Jeez, no wonder Eranikus couldn’t break through it. I shouldn’t have been surprised, really. I just had THREE bosses (I consider party members to be equivalent to bosses when they can crit me for 1200 damage) hitting me during the Jammal’an fight — Eranikus may be a dragon, but he’s still only one boss.
We then proceeded into Outland, 2-manning Hellfire Ramparts, Blood Furnace, and Slave Pens without much difficulty, and indeed, not much more slowly than we would have done it with five people. Not only is it not a challenge, but we’re regularly pulling multiple trash groups at a time because just pulling one is too slow. Bosses and trash pulls that I remember being difficult with five people back in BC are not even a challenge with two any more.