by Matt Low
Imagine my delight when I realized that the raid finder in the Mists of Pandaria beta was available for testing. The only instance available at the moment is Mogu’shan Vaults, but heck, who cares? I’ve been dying to get more practice in. I must’ve waited around 50 or so minutes before we had enough players to jump in. There were times where we had two tanks, six healers, and 11 DPSers. Other times we had 17 DPSers, 6 healers, and no tanks!
The raid finder for Mogu’shan Vaults has been split into two parts. You can’t access the second half of it until you clear out the first three bosses in the first half.
There are some spoilers after the cut. Consider yourself warned!
The Stone Guard
Technically, there should be four stone statues guarding the way in. These enchanted statues are the initial line of defense in. But in the raid finder, your group only needs to contend with three of them. The three you get will rotate on a weekly basis similar to the drakes you fought against Halfus.
Amethyst statue Amethyst will drop Amethyst Pools on the ground. Simple enough, right? Don’t stand in pink! There’s a lot of it, so watch your feet! But don’t count it out. It’ll try to petrify different members in the raid. Affected players gradually take reduced shadow damage by 90% and will move slower. If they reach 100 stacks of petrification, well, they’re stoned and won’t be able to move or do anything.
Jade statue Jade just AoE’s a bunch, à la Fan of Knives rogues. It’ll shoot Jade Shards in every direction. Serious AoE healage is required here to counter this. Likewise with Amethyst, Jade can petrify.
Jasper statue Jasper will Jasper Chains two raid members together. If they’re over 10 yards up, the chains will do 20,000 fire damage and gradually increase for each second that players aren’t close enough. Remember Blood Queen from Icecrown Citadel? Good! Same mechanic! Find your partner, and run to them! If you see a large, pulsing line on your screen, look for the two players with the debuff and keep them alive long enough for the two to get close. Like Amethyst, Jasper has the ability to petrify the raid.
Cobalt statue For my group, Cobalt wasn’t available to us. Cobalt’s ability is that it’ll shoot a delayed explosive at a random player. After three seconds, it’ll arm itself. Any players who stand within 7 yards will detonate the shard dealing 95,000 damage and rooting nearby players for six seconds. Again, watch out for petrification.
This encounter is a simple matter of balancing which guardians are active and which ones aren’t. If a stone guard isn’t close, a Guardian will deactivate and go to stone form. It won’t take much damage, but it can’t gain energy — meaning you can time its lethal attacks when the raid is healed up and at full health.
Feng the Accursed
Out of the three bosses available in the raid finder, I’d say Feng is the guy that’s going to be the big pain in butt to deal with. He essentially has three major phases that involve his siphoning assorted essences from different statues around the room, whereby he gains their abilities.
Tanks will periodically gain access to left over essence shards from statues that Feng activates. Use them, because you’ll have the ability to use a Nullification Barrier. For six seconds, the barrier negates any harmful magic effects cast on players standing within the barrier. It also suppresses the effects of any Wildfires and Lightning Charges. You can also hit a player with a Shroud of Reversal, which lets a fellow raid member mimic and rebound the next damaging ability they get hit with back to Feng.
Spirit of the Fist (95% health) Dodge the Lightning Fists. These are shockwaves that pulse outward, stunning players caught in their path. They move fairly slowly and are easy to dodge. Epicenter is a large AoE ability. It’s Feng’s version of an earthquake. The closer you are to the epicenter, the lower your chance to hit becomes. Tanks, drag Feng to one side of the circular room. Melee, sorry guys, but you’re going to have to run out and in again.
Spirit of the Spear (66%) Seriously, just watch out for Wildfire Sparks. Different players will be engulfed in flames, which then explode and create a Wildfire on the ground. Wildfire then slowly spreads out and inflects 100,000+ (yes, six digits) damage to players who stand in it. This fire keeps moving. Reminds me of Archimonde. Every so often, Feng’s going toDraw Flame, and all the Wildfires on the ground will head in his direction, where he’s going to inhale it and then pulse. Good time to line up some healing cooldowns here when that happens.
Spirit of the Staff (33%) Be prepared to run into the boss and back out again. The way we did it, the majority of us were standing between middle to max range. We want to mitigateArcane Resonance. The target takes 1,000 arcane damage along with other players nearby within 6 yards. Additional players affected by the resonance amplify the damage to all of them by 1,000. You can see why we want to avoid any kind of stacking. But we have to be prepared to close in on Feng to counteract Arcane Velocity.
The further you are away from Feng, the more damage you take. And Arcane Velocity does 16,000+ damage every second. To be fair, you’ll have some buffer room, since your health pools should be in the mid-300,000s and up. I think it’s safer to stay out and run in as opposed to staying in and running out.
Feng wiped us about four times.
Gara’jal the Spiritbinder
Gara’jal is the head boss of the Zandalar troll team that’s attempting to breach the vaults. They want to get themselves in there first and reap the rewards and treasures that can be found within. Just a word to the wise: The trash pack consists of an aerial bombing team and some saboteurs on the ground. Once you eliminate them, he’ll spawn. Make sure to get clear of the center of the platform. When your group is ready, inch up just in front of the staircase, since a (you guessed it) spiked barrier will appear, cutting off any unlucky players from the rest of the raid.
Spirit Totems that appear will send players to the other Spirit World. We sent in anywhere from four to six players at a time to cross into that other realm. I went in there a few times myself.
It doesn’t look like a tank is needed in the raid finder. The assorted Shadowy Minions mobs will die fairly quickly. In fact, just to test it out, a few Smites completely neutralized a Shadowy Minion in a small number of hits. These mobs will attack players in the real world, and they can only be taken down in the Spirit World. Bear in mind that in normal modes, a healer does need to be sent because in order to get back from the spirit world to the real world, they need to be healed to full in order to gain access to the Return Soul ability. So send at least one healer in there. In the raid finder, you gain the ability after 30 seconds.
Bonus: Healing a player in the Spirit World gives a player Spiritual Innervation with varying effects based on the class and spec of the player healed.
In addition, healers get to deal with Voodoo Dolls. Gara’jal’s current target and three other players in the raid will turn into Voodoo Dolls. A Doll copies 50% of their damage received to other Voodoo Dolls in the raid. The effect lasts until the targets are dead or until Gara’jal boots the initial affected player into the Spirit World.
The last 20% is the do-or-die portion of the encounter. Gara’jal just goes into a Frenzy and starts waling super hard. Personally, what I do is I plan my cooldowns around everyone else. There’s usually someone who prematurely ignites their raid-wide cooldown like a Tranquility or something early on before it’s really necessary. I’ll hold onto mine and give it some extra time until I know for sure that nothing else is going active and when the average raid health is anywhere between 40% to 80%. Once I see that happening, I hit Cascade and Divine Hymnand watch as green numbers litter my screen. Then it’s back to Prayer of Mending, AoE healing spells, and single-target spells until I run my mana to the ground.
Just one wipe.
The hardest parts about the raid finder for me were threefold:
- Getting used to the new spells.
- Remembering to use mana cooldowns all the time.
- Using base level Heal.
I know that in the raid finder, the difficulty is drastically lowered. But even then, I had a ton of fun learning all these new encounters and losing with 1% wipes again. Be on the lookout for part 2, when I queue into the second half!
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