It’s been a tough couple of weeks on the 25-man Ulduar front. Summer doldrums, patch days, and at least one night where we all just had the dumb have combined to mire us in the Keepers of Ulduar, with Vezax perpetually out of reach (not to mention Yoggie). Even our two 10 man groups had developed a bit of lethargy or fallen apart completely in the face of Mimiron.
With that in mind, I set about putting together a Really Kickass Group for u10 this weekend. The key to a good 10s group, I find, is not just numbers or situational awareness — a lot of it is just making sure you have the buffs and class synergy you need. Blizz can chant “bring the player, not the class” all they want, but that’s not going to make me feel any better about attempting hard modes without Kings or Heroism. Some class tricks are still essential. The group I was in on Friday night was Prot Warrior, Feral Druid (cat/OT), DK-of-many-specs (DPS/OT), Enh Shaman, Boomkin, Shadow Priest, Destro Lock, Disc Priest, Holy Priest, Holy Pally. We were lacking any misdirect or tricks of the trade, but otherwise it definitely covered all the basics.
This set up, and the players to go with it, kicked butt. Previously our 10s had focused on just killing as many bosses as possible or scouting new ones for the 25-man raids, so I suggested that we try something different and give the achievements a shot. And we did!
First up was Orbital Devistation, which we got on the second try with ease. We left up the Storm and Life towers. Engine passengers were tasked with shooting plants. For 10s we only use one bike and have one person on Flame Leviathan at a time (in Heroic we use three bikes and two launchees), and rotate so there are Demo passengers gathering pyrite at all times. Keeping up that pyrite stack is really key to this encounter, particularly as you add towers.
Next was our first true “hard mode”, killing the heart on XT. I know this used to be one of the most difficult hard modes in the game before the nerfs, and we.. one-shot it. If you have the raw DPS needed, hard mode is arguably easier than regular XT! We pulled him between the trash piles on the left of his room, facing the wall. Melee moved to one corner with light and gravity bombs. Ranged stayed roughly in a straight line at max range, and moved backwards for gravity and forwards for light. Casters picked off sparks, with a little help from melee when necessary. As for the heart phase itself, we had everyone DPSing, healers included, and were probably about 3 seconds away from not making it in time. Healing was pretty intense — I’m glad we had three of us. Anyway, we nabbed not only Heartbreaker, but also Nerf Engineering.
Kologarn (OOOOOOOOOOOOOOBLIVION!) passed without event, although we gave a half-hearted try for With Open Arms and got dang close. (Hit Kolo’s body, and ignore the arm until he squeezes someone. DPS the arm until he lets them go. You have about six squeezes until his arm dies, so DPS the body hard.)
So, an admission: since 3.1 came out, I have wanted the Crazy Cat Lady achivement. My guild is the Cats, I am, technically, a lady, and frankly we’re all crazy. It just seemed like the achievement made for me. So when we got to Auri, I knew what had to be done. And indeed, this achievement is insane! We had a tank on each Sentry keeping them separate but not TOO separate so as to be terminally feared away from the healers. DPS made killing the Feral Defender their top priority (usually we ignore it on regular mode) because healer interrupts were extremely bad. It took probably an hour or so to get this achievement, and a healthy dose of luck. Get feared at the wrong time, or damage spikes on all three tanks at once, or an interrupt on the wrong healer and everything tumbles.
We capped off the evening with a few attempts at Thorim’s hard mode. We were worried at first that we wouldn’t even be able to start it, but with five people down the gauntlet Sif was still waiting for us with 30 seconds to spare. (And an achievement for our troubles, Siffed.) That was where our luck ended, though, as the raid got torn to pieces within moments. I think our best attempt saw Thorim down to about 40%, which is nothing to sneeze at. This achievement needs a little more research and maybe more frost resist gear. That Sif is a mean apparition!
Even more important than the achievements is the fact that everyone was in great spirits after this run. It was nice to get together with friends in the more relaxed 10-man environment and just kick the stuffing out of everything. And the good mood spilled over to Sunday, where the same group with a few switches finally killed Mimiron on 10s (and Freya+1) — a one-shot, no less! Often I curse the tandem 10 / 25 / hard mode setup that Blizz favors now, but I have to admit that occasionally it works out pretty well.