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08 Mar 06 : Breaking barriers, beating bugs


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It's no secret by now that the Gates of Ahn' Qiraj has been opened at last on our server last Saturday, with a highly anticipated but poorly designed event. First and foremost, we at Valhall would like to sincerely thank all the guilds and individuals that assisted us in the mammoth undertaking known as the Forging of the Scepter. You have selflessly offered your assistance and time over the course of the questing period, with no promises of rewards or recognition in exchange, for that I am proud to be playing among such fine players.

So what have the Valhall Ladies and Lolitas (new rank!) been up to of late? Yeah, it's been quiet lately ever since we killed Nefarian last December, we've been basically farming BWL and the Emerald Dragons, while gearing up new recruits and alts in MC. Not a lot of newsworthy material as you can see. Needless to say, we have been wildly anticipating the day where we would ring the gong to break the AQ seal, counting down the War Effort resources day by day. And despite all our preparations, I had no idea we could raid AQ the very instant the seal is broken, thinking it would take at least 10hrs before it officially opens. Pleasantly surprised we zoned into AQ40, and at once we were impressed by the music and speech effects, not a bad start. The initial trash mobs were surprisingly innovative, and gave us an amusing shock on first engage, but sadly the difficultly level mirrors that of MC mobs once you get the tactics down (this is true for trash deeper in as well). Since we weren't planning to raid at all, we ended the night early after giving The Prophet Skeram a quick whirl. We were hugely satisfied with what we experienced on day 1 at least.

So anyways we came back the next day, and after clearing Prophet Skeram, The Triumvirate, Battleguard Sartura and Fankriss the Unyielding, the 2 things that struck me most were, a) encounters in general require more of a raid effort, and makes you utilise abilities that aren't usually used in previous content. Gone are the days where you brainlessly 1 tank a mob and afk dps away (hi MC). b) There is close to no Trash mobs in this dungeon. YES, you heard me right, there is even LESS trash here compared to BWL, and the trash encounters are actually FUN. Take my word for it, I am not one to advocate trash mobs usually, but AQ is definately a step in the right direction where filler trash is concerned. In fact, I'd say this is close to being the perfect balance. To make up for the lower trash population, they in turn give more rep per kill, and bosses sometimes drop Rep tokens where you can turn in for 500-1000 rep points. And know what the real beauty of it i? Should you want to stop a set of trash mobs from spawning for good, you simply kill the boss they lead to, should you want to farm rep, you simply farm them over and over due to the well timed respawned rate.

Now I didn't bother to include the images of the first couple of bosses, but like Blizzard has stated the first few bosses are of Molten Core level. If you are clearing Molten Core now, you can clear the place up to Fankriss, with some practice. Regardless, here are my observations of the first few bosses.
The Prophet Skeram - This and the Fankriss encounter are probably the least gear dependant encounters in AQ, it's purely execution, though to be honest all 4 first encounters are all not terribly gear dependant. There are some real gems on his loot table as well, so by all means farm him before/if he gets buffed. There are only 4 groups to kill to reach him.
The Triumvirate - Lord Kri, Princess Yauj and baby Vem. These three are optional bosses (they come together), again not too gear dependant. Lord Kri does Nature damage so if you aren't nature geared just dps him down first and fast. Controlling Princess Yauj and Vem will give your Tanks and healers very good crowd control practice, but they hardly dish out any hurt so it's a very forgiving encounter if you are still learning the encounter.
Battleguard Sartura - This is where the challenge factor rises a bit. Think Majordomo with a twist. You might be using multiple classes to control each separate element, some of the more effective classes might not even wear Plate. A fight where the element of chaos will always be present, but once the adds are dealt with the big W won't be far.
Fankriss the Unyielding - Again, hardly gear dependant depending on how you do it. Clearing to him reminds one of Suppresion room in BWL, but much less stressful. If you have cleared ZG, you can probably kill this maggot in a few tries as long as you are smart with CRing on a wipe so as to not waste time clearing the tunnel again.

And finally, after you beat Fankriss the Unyielding, you arrive at the promised land of challenge and satisfaction. Remember when you killed Ragnaros, Vael and Nefarian? Yeah, killing Princess Huhuran can easily pump you up like that, and from Huhuran onwards you enter BWL difficulty mode, and more. Basically, Huhuran is to Skeram as Vael is to Lucifron. I'm not sure how many wipes it took before we got her down, Id say a few attempts on Sunday where we went back to the drawing board, then 5 hrs worth of attempts on Monday where we saw her go from 21%, 16%, 11%, 11%, 4%, then finally the big W, making minor changes each attempt. Unfortunately, it's probably not an encounter we are able to 'one-shot' for a while, but we'll get there in time. Btw, Maraudon is your friend is you didn't already know.

What lies ahead after Huhuran? Who else but the Twin Emperors, and C'thun himself. But to get there, you need to first get past 5 of these guys. On initial attempts they appeared to be mini bosses in their own right, I mean, 14k damage nukes aren't exactly normal. But once you figure out all their abilities, and set up your raid around them, you will realise they are just as easy as the trash at zone in. You will know what I mean when you kill one. We gave the Twin Emperors a couple of attempts tonight, and in true AQ fashion it's another encounter that is totally different from the previous, but requires maximum raid effort. It is a turbo charged encounter which will squeeze every ounce of concentration, skill, dps, mana and wit from your raid. We will be banging our heads against this encounter for another week or two at least, fingers crossed our next update won't take too long.

ps: For all you lameshit lv60s out there ganking lv10s at crossroads and what not, this is how and where you do it.

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posted by Ugg on Wednesday 8th March 2006