Let me axe you something
I haven’t been blogging a whole lot about raiding with The Anvil lately. That’s because we’ve managed to get our collective ankles wedged firmly into a gap that Blizzard’s left in the content.
We didn’t have too much trouble getting through the Lower Spire in ICC 25-man. Marrowgar, Lady Deathwhisper, the Gunship Battle, and even Saurfang fell before us with relative ease. I wouldn’t call them pushovers the way that, say, Trial of the Wake Me When It’s Over was when we first started. But we moved through Icecrown’s first four bosses in fairly good time, and prepared to assault the rest of the Lich King’s stronghold.
Then we slammed head-on into the Plagueworks.
If you’re just getting ready to head into Icecrown, 10- or 25-man, consider this a warning: There is a big jump in difficulty between the first four bosses and the middle portion of the instance, the Plagueworks (Festergut, Rotface, and Professor Putricide) and the Crimson Halls (Blood Princes, Blood Queen Lana’thel). That jump in difficulty has stopped us dead in our tracks.
We quickly reached a very unpleasant realization on Festergut, supposedly the “easiest” of the bosses…we couldn’t kill him. Not “we can’t kill him because we’re making too many mistakes”–a totally unqualified “we can’t do this right now.” We ran up against cold, hard math. Festergut’s enrage timer is so short (5 minutes) and he has so much health (40.44 million) that how well we handled the mechanical aspects of the fight with gas spores and healing through his insane damage didn’t matter. You need a five-minute average of roughly 135,000 dps from your raid to drop Festergut before he splats you. Before last night, on our best attempt, we had 91,000. No amount of sleight of hand or focusing on eliminating mistakes could get around the fact that if you don’t bring that 135,000 dps, you don’t kill Festergut. Full stop. Before last night, our best attempt on Festergut was hitting the enrage timer at 30%. Not. Even. Close.
Rotface isn’t quite the insane DPS race that Festergut is, but it’s a crazy fight–Grobbulus on speed, with even more raid-wide damage and shadow-crash-style flying angry exploding poo-poos to dodge. And you still need a ton of DPS, because otherwise, you get so many oozes running around that your coordination breaks down in terms of the kiting that’s required. Our best attempt to date on Rotface is around 17%, which, considering the insanity of the fight and our relative DPS level, ain’t shabby.
Well, last night, we went to try and sell Arthas encyclopedias yet again. We did it in the middle of the godawful crippling lag that has had the entire Cyclone battlegroup by the balls since the Love is in the Air event started up. (Servers in Cyclone, Ruin, Bloodlust, and Reckoning have been getting crushed for days now with 5+ minute zone times, minutes-long loot lag and mailbox lag, etc. Multiple maintenance downtimes haven’t done a damn thing to fix it.) The lag was so bad that my wife couldn’t even join the raid, and then we lost two more regulars due to illness. We managed to pick up enough subs to fill out the roster, and gave it a try.
Go figure, but it was the best raid night we’ve had in a month and a half. Maybe the lag got people to dial it in and focus, or maybe the phase of the moon was just right, I don’t know. Not only did we one-shot all four bosses in the front, but we had two near-perfect Festergut attempts and got him to 8%, and then 6%, before he enraged. Magically, we’ve somehow picked up over 30,000 dps on that fight in just a few weeks. If we find about 10,000 more in the glovebox and under the sofa cushions, we’ll own that mutant potato right in his ugly face…uh, OK, one of his ugly faces. He’s got spares.
It was one of those nights that invigorates my desire to raid with this awesome bunch of maniacs I run with, because we were hitting on all cylinders and having a great time doing it. The one sad part was that my wife missed it…especially when the druid loot dropped.
And out of all that, I got a new toy to play with:
Now, I got a whisper last night asking me why I’d blow a “suicide” on a one-handed DPS weapon that wasn’t a tank weapon, when my DPS offspec is Fury and thus needs two-handers. It’s a legit question, deserving of an answer. The short version is, despite it not being a tank weapon, it’s a significant upgrade for me. Now, the long version–half because I’m paranoid and still justifying to myself why I took it, and half as explanation of why a tank sometimes gets very good use out of a “non-tank” weapon.
Right now, Lin’s tank weapons are a Titanguard and a Burnished Quel’serrar from 25-man Ony. The Titanguard has been Lin’s bread-and-butter tank sword for almost a full year now, and while it’s an excellent item (it was our first hard-mode Ulduar loot ever), it’s a tier or a tier-and-a-half behind current content. I picked the BQ up to use as a situational weapon when I had to bring more DPS as Prot; it’s been part of my block-heavy gear set, and also has been what I use to tank heroics. But it’s not well-itemized, and despite the old-school cool factor of it being a Quel’serrar, I’ve never warmed to it.
True, the Scourgeborne Waraxe isn’t a classic +str/+sta/+defense/avoidance tank weapon. It is, first and foremost, a rogue axe in no uncertain terms–not really itemized awesomely for hunters and way, way too fast for enhancement shamans. But for starters, 48 dps more on the tooltip is damned hard to ignore. It’s even faster than the Titanguard (1.5 vs. 1.6), and fast for a tank weapon is good. The stat tradeoff is surprisingly even–I lose the +str from the Titanguard costing me 24 shield block value, but I end up net gaining about 10 attack power, the stamina is close to even (loss of ~110 health), and the extra agility gives me enough dodge that even after losing the 33 parry rating from the sword, I only lose a net of 0.30% total avoidance. In return, I get a huge burst of +crit (over 2%), a token bit of armor penetration, and a sizeable damage increase over the Titanguard, both overall and at the top end for attacks like Devastate. It’s going to be a significant bump in my threat generation. And I’m already running with so much excess Defense (578 with the sword), I can afford to lose 7 points of it.
In the end, I had to make a quick decision when interest in the weapon was called; using Rating Buster‘s breakout of stat pluses and minuses (which I trimmed from the tooltip screenshot), I decided to go for it. And once I get that new axe Mongoosed, it’s going to become my primary heroic and trash tanking weapon. The Titanguard stays in my bag for situations where absolute maximum avoidance and health are needed and threat is less of an issue–for example, if I’m kiting on Rotface, playing kissyface with Muradin on the Gunship Battle, or eating saber lashes on Marrowgar.
Besides, just look at it, peeps. It’s beautiful. It’s huge. It’s so big it goes over my back instead of on my belt. It’s not standard-issue Wrath of the Lich King Tier 9 Brown, unlike everything else Lin wears. It has frigging spikes on the blade. How can I not have my Panzercow walking around with something that utterly badass in his humongous three-fingered hand?