With last night’s raid, my guild has finally finished all 3 wings of Battle of Dazar’Alor on Normal! So that means we have 3 new bosses to discuss, and discuss we shall.
Firstly, I have to say I am slightly annoyed as an Alliance player for two reasons here – one, the Horde portion of the raid uses the same space as the Alliance first wing, so if you’re an Alliance player, the raid never lets you see the top of the pyramid or the cool, slum parts of Dazar’Alor like the Zocalo. Instead, you see a lot of the grand staircase and a little bit of the inside, one piece of which you’ve already seen in the war campaign before ever stepping foot in the raid.
Secondly, the Horde transformation locks you in the warfront sets, but with your weapon transmog, so you look like a hideous red and black can opener.
With that out of the way, let’s talk about the fights!
High Tinker Mekkatorque – Gnomish Fun
Mekkatorque is a fun fight that captures the essence of Gnome identity while offering unique takes on mechanics. The core of the fight is around two major mechanics – the Gigavolt Charge, which requires that the players afflicted move out of line-of-sight of their allies to avoid stacking a nasty DoT on the raid, and the Spark Bots, who are brought down to the fight at regular, frequent interval and cast an AoE stun.
Gigavolt charge just means the players move to the 3 corners set up with debris to avoid discharging the spell in the raid. You get a ton of time to move, so the players should be able to find a corner with time to spare. Spark Bots offer the most unique mechanic in the raid – in order to remove them to open up more room, you need to self-destruct them. They take 99% less damage from external sources, so you cannot just DPS them down. Instead, you have to be shrunken by the boss, and get into the bot, where you have to complete a sequence of Simon Says button-presses to enable the self-destruct option. As a shrunk player, if you are not in a bot, you can be trampled, so it requires positional awareness. The self-destruct sequence is made harder, however, by the fact that you cannot see your own prompts to press. On Normal, everyone can see the bot’s projected button call, and so your raid has to assign a way for this to be called out to each player inside of the bots so that they can press the sequence to enable self-destruct. It is a fun mechanic that will make you irrationally angry if your raid leader spends too much time stumbling over his words, or cutting his microphone off early on his sentences, which is TOTALLY NOT ME BEING MAD IN A POST ABOUT MY RAID LEADER.
Other than that, you dodge some exploding sheep in the transition phase, you dodge a Mega Man-esque Buster Cannon, which is both the easiest mechanic in the world and yet you will likely have a raider (or 4, in my case) who somehow cannot move quickly enough to avoid a 5 second telegraphed ability, and this IS NOT ME BEING MAD IN A POST AGAIN. He also frequently jumps between his current location and a random point in the room, doing AoE damage in his landing zone, so don’t be there.
Mechanically, the fight is fun, and a good decompression in complexity after having bested the Rastakhan fight (although you might still get riled up if you have 5-6 players in your raid who are incapable of basic, timely movement, but the good news is the DPS check of the fight is not that bad and I’M STILL NOT MAD).
Stormwall Blockade – The Real End Boss of Normal
Stormwall Blockade is a mechanically simple fight, on paper, which translates into one of the more punishing experiences this raid tier. I actually think this is a good thing – but it is what it is. Some mechanics can just kill you, and rely on everyone executing to a high enough degree to pull off the fight.
It is, effectively, a 2 phase fight that requires strict mechanical precision in phase 1 and a high degree of burst damage on top of that precision in phase 2. The first phase sees your raid split between two boats, fighting two adds. One has abilities that favor melee (boat-dividing lightning bolts) and the other has abilities that favor ranged (movement-slowing, damage dealing puddles targeting random players, and a Siren add that attempts to seduce away your raid.) Both rotate between their core abilities, and then a shield phase, channeling their energies into the main boss, an elemental named Laminaria, and you must burst the shield and interrupt the channel to avoid energizing Laminaria too greatly. A perfect execution phase will see you around 20 energy on the main boss, but we found it doable on Normal with between 25-60 energy – just know that higher energy is going to demand much higher DPS output and far greater mechanical precision in phase 2. Both boat bosses must be tanked, and they should die near the same time as one another. If not, the dead one will summon their spirit, who will simply channel energy to Laminaria uninterrupted, which definitely sucks.
Once both boat bosses are dead, everyone moves back to the main dock to fight Laminaria. A debuff is placed on a random raid member which will spawn an add, and must be placed as far from the boss as possible. The add does not harm the raid directly, instead, he moves to the boss and channels energy into the boss. If the boss reaches 100 energy, he begins a 10 second cast that will insta-kill the full raid, so this is bad. However, the add can be slowed, and should your raid composition not be conducive to this, your tank can help. The active tank received stacks of Kelp-Wrapped from the bosses attacks, which slows movement speed. This debuff is magic and can be dispelled, which then kelp-wraps all targets in a fixed radius from the tank – including the add. The key is to swap the boss between tanks using the add spawn as your cadence marker, and then to have the inactive tank run to the adds using abilities like Infernal Strike to get to the add to be dispelled before the debuff on them expires, granting the slow to the add, while your ranged DPS then pick off the add. This is complicated, because as the fight moves on, the frequency of add spawns increases, meaning that towards the end, there will be a point with two adds popping fairly close together. If managed properly, you can slow both with a single tank, and then ignore them to focus down the boss.
While this is all happening, the boss will be dropping corrupted water on the raid, causing high-damage puddles to spawn that will limit the space available. However, as adds die, their essence will enter players, allowing them to run over the puddles to remove them. After a fixed time with the essence, the player will spawn a new add. The key to this is having fixed clearing patterns for your different clusters of players, so that they can remove as much water as possible, then get to the back of the room before the add pops. Lastly, the boss will throw Sea Swell at the room, an AoE that must be soaked (water, soaked? Who could imagine such a thing?). If not soaked, it will hit the full raid for a lot of damage, but on a single player, it hurts too and usually requires damage reductions, pre-heal, or some combination of these things. Our raid typically got the boss to around 5-8% at 100 energy, at which point, you have the cast time of his raid wipe to finish him. A well-executed raid will kill him before his energy tops off, but expect your first pulls in here to be messy while all the interacting mechanics start to click.
Jaina Proudmoore – A Cool Fight
You’ll cringe at this title by the end of the section!
Jaina is a 3 phase, two transition fight, which requires a fair bit of accurate execution around a couple of key gimmicks.
First up, the first phase – you’re on a boat, at sea, and Jaina’s forces are flanking you as she attacks on the boat. You have to deal with adds, who are dropping bombs that eventually explode and leave fire behind, patches of fire, and the ships coming in close for bombardment, Jaina, meanwhile, is trying to freeze your tanks, hit people with a frost cone (mm, Snow Cones!), and then tries to root everyone with a Ring of Frost. The fire from the adds is actually helpful – sort of, as it removes stacks of her Chilling Touch debuff and also prevents a rooting from Ring of Frost. The goal is to burn the adds while keeping steady damage on Jaina and not getting frozen. When the boats come in to play, you want to use the ranged turrets on the side of the boat to attack – 3 hits in Normal is all it takes, and there are 3 per side! However, the fire can negatively interact here, as if fire is on a turret, it burns and is inactive until hit with Jaina’s Avalanche ability, which removes the fire. On Normal, only tanks will get it, at which point they must run to clear excess fire while leaving an open patch to remove debuffs, with special focus on extinguishing any turrets that are burning. Also, during the entire fight, popping Bloodlust/Heroism is Jaina’s prompt to ice block, preventing you from gaining much of the benefit of the buff.
Once Jaina hits 60%, she teleports to the high sea, and then does the most amazing Frost Nova, freezing the ocean and creating the new encounter space for phase 2. At this point, the raid must jump off the boat and find her to interrupt her – a daunting feat, as she is channeling a freezing fog, which conceals a bunch of whirlwinds that cause high damage and frost orbs that freeze on touch. Once interrupted, the second phase begins, with Jaina controlling the Kul Tiran flagship in the sky (similar to the Lordaeron cinematic) and using it to broadside random players. She also casts Icefall, dropping frost in a line across the room. Avalanche continues to hit the tanks, and small frost projectiles emerge from the impact zones. Taken far enough from the raid, these are minimally impactful, but can snare players who do not watch their positioning. She also now uses a front-facing Glacial Ray, which hits for moderate damage and applies stacks of Chilling Touch. The core premise of this phase is to bring Jaina to 30% while not getting frozen. This phase, however, offers a different way to remove debuff stacks. Scattered across the room on Normal are 4 barrels, coated in ice. The ice reduces damage taken by 99%, but can be removed by a player targeted with Broadside placing the targeting circle for Broadside over the barrel. Once impacted, the ice is gone, and the barrel can be DPSed to 0. The goal here is to ensure that the 4 barrels last the full phase, with players ensuring that enough DPS is being dished out to Jaina to allow the last barrel to pop at 30%. The barrel, once killed, ignites, warming the area around it and breaking out frozen players along with clearing Chilled Touch stacks, but starts an explosion timer. Should you stay in the radius of the barrel for the timer, it hits for huge damage.
Once Jaina hits 30%, she begins to channel an icy spell that emanates from the center of the room, slowly trying to freeze players. One edge of the room is a breakable wall, and must be DPSed to open to the next area in time. Once open, you have to break out Nathanos and engage Jaina’s frost elemental, while dodging an Arcane Barrage that constantly places little AoEs on the ground. Once Nathanos is out, the ice stops, and once the elemental dies, you can interrupt Jaina’s channeling of Arcane Barrage, allowing her to be damaged again. This phase is effectively a repeat of phase 2, but with a few exceptions – barrels are gone and there is now no way to reset Chilling Touch stacks. When you hit 20 stacks, you still freeze, however, you must be broken out quickly, as Jaina launches a slow moving icicle at your location, which will eventually race off and hit for a lot of damage. Broadsides must be moved out as before, but just away, as there is no need to hit anything else with them. Jaina now has a frontal cone attack which is intended to keep everyone but the active tank out of her frontside. Lastly, the biggest challenge is that Jaina will occasionally cast a Prismatic Image, mirroring her attacks. It has a pretty small health pool and can be nuked down quick by your ranged DPS. You also need to find a way to ensure that your DPS are not frozen on the same schedule, meaning that someone needs to figure out a way to take extra stacks – usually a full group of folks, in fact. It is a cluster of a phase, where the goal is to get her to around 5% to finish the fight.
It is a fun fight in parts, but phases like the first transition and the last phase are needlessly hectic. First transition uses overlapping, similarly colored dodge mechanics in a fog that matches the color of the abilities to dodge. The last phase can be difficult to deal with – the design de-facto ensures that you must be slightly off in execution in order to avoid a full-raid freeze, which is admittedly a new idea, but in practice it seems needlessly micromanaged.
But with Jaina damaged to within an inch of her life, she ports away to save herself, and if you are Alliance, the flashback ends, and you’re back on the Kul Tiran ship, with a new chest having magically appeared with your loot, concluding the raid.
Wing 3 Conclusion
Wing 3 has the most mechanical density of any of the wings in the raid, with Mekkatorque having a few mechanics requiring careful management and Stormwall Blockade and Jaina both requiring an insane degree of management. Each of the fights bring something new to the table (the Spark Bot minigame on Mekkatorque, the boat swaps on Stormwall, and Jaina’s mirror images and unique response to Bloodlust-like buffs.
Overall, I really enjoyed the Normal version of the raid, and it lays a good model in place that Blizzard would be wise to continue with.
I’ll share my full opinion of the raid in aggregate for a future post, but overall? Right now, I am only logging in to raid, two days a week, 2 hours each of those days, and I am having a relatively good time of it! Dazar’Alor, as odd a concept as it first sounded, has shaped up as a really good raid and gives me hope that the rest of our raiding this expansion will be enjoyable, and right now, that is really all I want and need from the game.