Ahead of the Curve: Blackrock Foundry
Welcome back to Ahead of the Curve, this week i’ll be taking a look back at the second raid in tier 17, the Blackrock Foundry. Blackrock Foundry or BRF, as it is commonly known, is located in northern Gorgrond and is under the control of Warlord Blackhand himself. Seen as the first true challenge and progression race of Warlords of Draenor, BRF gave players much more challenging bosses and the chance to obtain tier gear.
Preparing for Blackrock Foundry.
After finishing Highmaul in the top 10 (US) my guild and I were ready to take on the much anticipated Blackrock Foundry raid that was supposed to be much more difficult and set the true ranks for tier 17. There was one problem, we had to farm Highmaul for upgrades for about a month and a half. Proving myself was very important to me, I wanted to fit in and gain the respect of my fellow raiders, contributing to all of the boss strategies and theorycrafting as well as having played an important role in our US 9th Imperator Margok kill, I felt pretty confident moving into farm. Huge in Japan was seen as a hardcore guild but many of it’s members didn’t play hardcore, while most guilds in our bracket ran multiple alt runs through heroic and mythic, we were lucky to get 1 such run going a week. I felt this put us at a huge disadvantage as class stacking has been so important in the past, having a very small pool of geared alts to choose from could come back to bite us hard.
During our farm, we upgraded players at a few key spots and lost some of our veteran raiders due to IRL duties. Overall the raid team was much stronger and more focused than we had ever been.
Heroic Split Clear, Week 1.
Unlike in Highmaul, we had to take special care in splitting our mains and alts on both teams to maximize tier set bonuses and trinkets. Luckily i was the only conq DPS in team 1 so it all went to me, not a bad investment in my opinion. In the highest level of raiding, gearing dps is the most important thing to do as tanking and healing doesn’t increase with gear as much as dps does, not saying don’t gear your tanks and healers up, but if it’s close, give it to your dps.
Heroic mode went pretty smooth, there weren’t that many changes from the beta tests I had done and most of the bosses went down in 1-3 pulls. I believe Iron Maidens, Blast Furnace and Blackhand were the only tough bosses, we were able to split clear every boss except Blackhand which proved to be tougher than a lot of guilds thought. For the first time in a while, a lot of decent guilds actually didn’t save enough time to clear Heroic Blackhand. I felt pretty good about week 1, after the buff to Demonbolt at the end of Highmaul, warlocks were looking to be the best dps spec in the tier. I personally never liked demonology that much pre-BRF because of how clunky it could be, but that would change, big time. Most of our key members had their 2 and 4 set bonuses and we were ready to charge into Mythic, everyone was confident but nobody could have guessed how we would start…..
Mythic Beastlord Darmac.
Early that Tuesday, long before my raid started, the super hardcore guilds were already mowing down bosses left and right. I always watch how the progression race unfolds to get helpful tips to bring back to my raid team. First boss many guilds were going for was Beastlord Darmac, an extreme joke of a boss on heroic and it appeared as though he was a huge pushover on mythic as well with some logs showing 1 shots and sub 10 pulls to kill him. That’s good news for us, we can get in there and destroy a boss with an amazing caster trinket in a few pulls and start working on other bosses. This is where the first of our problems began, overconfidence. I believe we were still on a high from our finish in the last raid, this caused us to not take the bosses seriously and we paid the price. Darmac was a mess from the start, for some reason pinned down, a mechanic from LFR, was destroying our healers on almost every pull. Having to hard swap to spears was disgusting when normally passive dots will take care of them. The second huge mistake we made was bringing not enough healers, we struggled on this boss wiping in the final phase for way too long because of lack of healing.
The Mythic mechanics on Darmac aren’t hard at all, that’s why it was so embarrasing to come out of the gate and trip immediately. Beastlord now dismounts at 30% and you have to fight him and the beast together, He has way more health and damage, and there’s a new animal phase, Faultline. Faultline is a giant ironhoof destroyer that places void zones on the ground that persist the entire fight and shoots fire around the room that’s pretty easy to dodge. The only tough part of this whole fight is after you kill Faultline, the boss has the abilities from all 5 beasts, gains a health and damage boost and you have very little space to dodge his flame breath due to void zones. We were wiping at the final 10% so many times, people were still padding on the animals and getting pinned down, but finally after way too many wipes Beastlord Darmac died (with only 1-2 people still alive) US rank 16. (watch here, Beastlord Darmac Kill Video)
Beastlord didn’t go as planned, US 16 was behind where we thought we would be but Oregorger was another supposedly easy boss that should only take 10-15 attempts, maybe we can make up some ground on our competition.
Oregorger’s mythic mechanic was fairly simple on paper, but once you got into the raid, some people just couldn’t seem to handle it. The boss played out like a game of bomberman, don’t be in the row that is going to explode or you die, simple as that. As the boss rolled around and slammed into walls, he spawned bombs that would cause flame waves to engulf that entire row. We split our raid into 4 teams, each with a healer hanging around a corner that served as a safe spot. Progress started sloppy, people not moving as a group, getting tagged by his roll and incinerated by the fire walls. I was getting upset, these were very simple mechanics and we were falling even further behind in our bracket. Luckily it wasn’t near as bad as beastlord and we got it together. After a few good pulls getting deep into the fight, everyone (mostly) got a good handle on the safe zones during his roll phase and Oregorger died, US Rank 20. (watch here, Mythic Oregorger Kill Video)
Mythic Hans’gar and Franzok.
I’m not going to lie, I was pretty worried after our performance on the first 2 bosses. Hans’gar and Franzok had very interesting and tight mechanics that a lot of our raiders failed on in heroic mode constantly. Having done the impossibly overtuned smart stampers during beta I prayed that Blizzard had tuned it down some or we would be in big trouble. Despite my worries, many guilds were proving that this boss wasn’t hard, and could be killed in a small amount of pulls.
The mythic mechanic was Smart Stampers, unlike the set patterns that came down in heroic normal and lfr mode, smart stampers would adjust to players and had to be handled perfectly or you would run out of room and get crushed. The way we decided to handle this was assign 2 groups with 2 leaders that would be marked to follow. The melee team was following Babyjace while I was in charge of the safety of our ranged raiders, a task I volunteered for. It was our job to mentally count down in our heads the timers on the stampers and move at the lastest possible moment to keep DPS as high as possible. As you probably guessed, we had some special raiders that just couldn’t handle the smart stampers, and even worse the normal dumb stampers as well. I believe we actually had to sit both of our mages because of this problem, lag? I couldn’t tell you. In our gear level you really needed to min/max to push phases as they were all % based. That means if your damage was low or someone died, you would have to deal with a stamper phase for far longer than necessary. The only other problem we seemed to have on this boss was our Tanks getting 1 shot because they weren’t getting the correct CDs, this was pretty frustrating because our tanks were playing the weakest tank classes at the time, protection warrior and prot pally.
Honestly, this was a pretty fun fight for me, I had a good groove going for avoiding the stampers and was always around the top on dps. After banishing our problem raiders to the bench, Hans’gar and Franzok fell to our blades, US Rank 23. (Watch here, Mythic Hans’gar and Franzok Kill Video)
Mythic Flamebender Kagraz.
Mythic Flamebender was next up, still behind our competition, tension was rising because of our lackluster start. Kagraz wasn’t much different than her heroic mode counterpart, just more dogs, more damage etc. We had a favorable comp for this boss as demonology warlocks were amazing once again, cataclysm and chaos waves destroyed the dogs nullifying the bosses mythic mechanics. Our curse of misinformation struck us down again on Kagraz, we decided to run with 5 healers instead of 4 and it turned out to be a big setback.
Most people would probably assume that overhealing a fight would make it easier, well at the cutting edge progression level, a mistake like that could make the boss near unkillable. Looking back, we paid way too much attention to the dogs, which was under control pretty easily with 2 warlocks 3 mages and strong melee cleave dps. Getting a 3rd wave of dogs was very rough on the raid, chances of someone messing it up or a tank getting destroyed was much higher, i’m not sure why nobody saw the simple solution of dropping a healer, I feel bad myself for missing it at the time. Eventually, after a very long and frustrating night, we killed her. If you watch our video you’ll see probably for the first time what Flamebender’s Berserk mechanic actually is, 2 flaming walls come together to wipe the raid. Despite our struggles, we were 4/10 mythic, US Rank 23. (Watch here, Mythic Flamebender Kagraz Kill Video)
Gruul, the dragon killer, makes his return all the way from the Burning Crusade filling the role of the Patchwerk style boss of BRF. I remember watching some other US guilds struggling on Gruul for hours earlier in the week, we all had a good laugh making fun of them and we knew we could go in and kill Gruul without many problems. Maybe it was karma getting back at us for being such a troll guild but Gruul literally DESTROYED us.
From the start I could tell that this wouldn’t go as easy as it should, people were getting hit by his smash (an ability that gives you about 3 years to get out of), Tanks were messing up the slash rotation, flares were melting people left and right and overall dps was poor. Gruul has a very short enrage and deals a ton of damage throughout the whole fight, the key is min/maxing in every way possible. This still being before the item level boost most players had when fighting in mythic BRF, numbers were really tight and if someone died at any point it was over.
It was monday, our last chance to down Gruul and be tied with all of our competition guilds and the frustration and toxicity was mounting. Arguments broke out about tanking, healing, people getting hit by mechanics, people doing sub par dps, and the overall strategy. We tried 2 tanking it and 3 tanking it, swapping healers and players out but nothing seemed to do the trick for us. Many sub 5% wipes to his berserk because someone would die early and not be able to make the dps check. The first week finished and we were the only guild from the previous top 10 US that didn’t clear 5 or more bosses, it was devastating to our morale. As we entered the next week, with more gear from our farm bosses, Gruul ended up going down much easier. The kill wasn’t satisfying at all, just a relief that we could move on. Hitting our goal of top 10 US in Blackrock Foundry seemed impossible at this poing, Gruul died US Rank 44, our worst performance in a very long time. (Watch here, Mythic Gruul Kill Video)
Kromog was proving to be the first brick wall of the instance, that didn’t sound good considering our bad play on the first 5 bosses. The boss had already been nerfed from his impossible 300 million HP and had complex mechanics and had to be handled with an addon to maximize efficiency. Oddly enough, this is where the epic comeback of Huge in Japan would begin.
Mythic Kromog’s main change from heroic mode was the pillar phase. The boss would summon 3 pillars that needed to die very fast in order to create a Line of Sight mechanic to survive his ultimate 1 shot ability. Sounds easy, but at item level 686, this was very hard to accomplish. Since there was also spikes bursting out of the ground knocking people around, you coulnd’t really stand still and cast, we had to chain aspect of the fox to get in enough dps to kill the pillars. We wiped so many times because the hutners would stack or not cast aspect of the fox at all and we would only kill 2/3 pillars. The other rough part was not overpadding on the grasping hands, this proved to be easier than I thought considering how bad HiJ was with padding on EVERYTHING. The boss enraged at 30% and death massive damage, with Bloodlust running it wasn’t so bad. I was very surprised how well we handled this boss, our strategy was on point, our raid comp was strong and for the most part, everyone played well.
Our competition struggled on Kromog, somehow we were actually able to close the mile wide gap that Gruul handed to us. By the time we killed Kromog, we had made up nearly 30 US ranks, putting us on Us Rank 16! (Watch here, Mythic Kromog Kill Video)
Mythic Operator Thogar.
Mythic Thogar is probably my favorite boss fight ever in World of Warcraft. The encounter itself isn’t so much about the boss and what he does, but the actual environment. There’s 4 rows of train tracks and patterns of trains come at you without much time to think. With many different kinds of trains, each wave has to be handled in a unique way, and all this while doing max damage to the boss and priority adds. Really hope that Blizzard can make more fights as fun as this in the future.
The mythic mechanics on Operator Thogar on their own are very simple and easy to deal with, but with tons of trains trying to smash into you the whole fight, things become a little harder. The new train, the deforester, would drive along slowly in 1 lane with a line of fire that when passed through would give you a dot, 1 stack wasn’t bad, 2 was nearly lethal in most cases unless you had a strong cooldown. There was also a new cannon that fired rings of flames that would stick to the ground for a while, making it much harder to escape incoming trains if you were out of place.
As tempting as it was to run Cataclysm for the mass aoe, Demonbolt was far superior in damaging priority targets such as the mat at arms and the cannons, chaos wave wasn’t too shabby either in the aoe department. With 2 warlocks, the adds weren’t much of a problem, but convincing the rest of the raid to go more single target was the challenge. Operator Thogar was steady progression, every couple of pulls we would get to the next train wave to figure out how to deal with it, keep in mind, this was before thogar assist had the patterns down, we were mostly blind other than a couple videos that were out. After wiping to his enrage (giant wall of trains) twice, we were able to grab a kill on Operator Thogar, US Rank 14! (Watch here, Mythic Operator Thogar Kill Video)
Mythic Iron Maidens.
After making up even more ground on Thogar, we faced our next and most difficult challenge, by far, The Iron Maidens. The Iron Maidens encounter is incredibly complex and has about 2 million mechanics to watch out for. As expected for an end wing boss, Iron Maidens doesn’t disappoint. In my research of the fight, I fully understood the job of the warlock, I volunteered to be on blade dash duty and sacrifice some of my DPS for the raid.
Iron Maidens proved to be vastly more difficult than the heroic incarnation, more mechanics, and any mistake would wipe the raid. Healing, DPS and Tanking had to be spot on to even progress to the hard parts of the fight. Unlike on heroic difficulty, the boat groups had to be built correctly. Originally I was doing all 3 boat groups, and Blade Dash Tornado placement, but we found this to be a problem due to the way timings lined up so poor Barbalel had to go on the boats. Due to our lack of boomkins, we couldn’t afford to do Sorka’s Boat phase, instead we pushed Garan’s boat first and Marak’s boat second. The initial phase might be considered boring to a ranged dps, but as the Torando guy, I had to be on my toes at all times, sacrificing dps to swap in and out of meta gaining as much soul leech as I could and just hoping my, now best healer buddy Yuffa, could keep shields on me. It was my job to keep the tornados organized on the sides so the rest of the room was clear for the raid, and not die in the process of eating massive hits every 15 seconds.
On Mythic mode, Blade Dash works a lot differently, Sorka Chooses her target like normal and Dashes to them causing physical damage, but now it leaves a debuff making this target be the preferred target for every blade dash for the rest of the fight, and increasing their damage taken from blade dash by a very large margin along with leaving a tornado traveling in her path that stuns and deals even more damage. Going into this I knew that my DPS wouldn’t be as high as it could be if allowed to just turret but I had a reputation for doing the odd jobs nobody wanted to do at this point because I knew I could do it while maintaining 95+ percentile damage for my class. Maybe I liked the challenge, or maybe it gave me an excuse if I played poorly lol, maybe a little bit of both.
There are 3 phases to the fight, Normal phase, Boat phase, and chaos omg everything is happening kill the boss phase. Normal phase is very simple for any high end guild, move debuffs out, don’t get 1 shot by the sniper, make sure I keep tornados organized and just generally don’t be stupid. Sadly that last part was more difficult for some people than others.As the bosses dipped down in health (THEY DIDN’T SHARE HEALTH THANKS BLIZZARD) they would gain new abilities that were harder to handle, and these abilities persist into the boat phase. Phase 1 never gave us much of a problem, it’s when we got to the boat phase where trouble began. During the boat phase, we sent a team of strong dps and interrupters to handle the various mobs on the different boats. One boat had a large add that needed to die very fast and caused players to drop void zones on the ground, luckily you can just stand on the crates and ignore the mechanic, shhhhhh. The other boat we encountered had multiple mobs, the group had to spread out to not overlap spread shot damage and could not miss interrupts on the medic, the interrupt team seemed to let us down the most on this fight. I can’t even remember how many wipes we had on the boat phase, remember I did the boat phase myself at first, it was super easy.
After we semi figured out how to do the boats, we could finally start progressing again, at which time some people decided it would be fun to eat bombs, the same bombs from normal mode, and get 1 shot over and over. This boss was very frustrating because it was very long, complex and all it took was 1 person to mess something up and it was over. The bosses had over 360 million health combined, the most by far of any boss. The early wipes were depressing just from the fact that we weren’t even at the hard part yet, we could hardly learn what to do on the most chaotic phase because we would wipe before getting there. Finally after many many wipes, we got to working on phase 3, all bosses are back with all their abilities and it’s a race to kill them before they killed us. At the time of our first kill we were only 686 item level, that’s mythic highmaul. The final phase lasted quite a while and required perfect execution. I even started accepting the fact that I was going to be sacrificed and might never get to parse on the fight.
After well over 100 wipes, the stars aligned! Tornadoes placed perfectly (like in every pull), boat groups were spot on and didn’t miss 1 interrupt, bombs were avoided, debuffs were handled properly, and dps finally decided to focus on those damned turrets (well some of us). Of course at the end of the fight I got destroyed by Sorka’s Blade Dash hitting for well over 1 million damage, but I was able to survive long enough to seal the victory even if it was by the skin of our teeth. Almost everyone died, both tanks were down but we only had Garan up, who luckily wasn’t tankable in phase 3. With 5+ turrets shooting death at everyone, our MVP player Afflikshin on the floor freshly sacrificed and a WIPE called out but ignored (thank god) the Iron Maidens fell, US Rank 14. (Watch here, Mythic Iron Maidens Kill Video)
Mythic Blast Furnace.
Rank 14 and still in the game, with the dreaded Blast Furnace up next we knew we still had a good chance at coming back as we did in Highmaul. The Blast Furnace gained a reputation in the short time it was out as we worked our way to it as one of the most annoying and technical fights in all of world of warcraft’s history. This was a timing fight, and if you couldn’t do the timings, you couldn’t kill this boss, as simple as that.
It was known that Blast Furnace would be a challenge because of how tough it was for many guilds on heroic mode, it wasn’t known just how crazy this fight would actually be when you engaged it’s mythic version. Although mechanically, nearly nothing had changed from heroic, the new timings required made this fight a beast to take down. Instead of 10 bombs per side, you now needed 30, and you had to have it done before the 4th bellows operators came down around the 2 minute mark. We split into 2 even groups with a DK to grip, interrupters, a priest to mind control engineers, a bomb bag exploder and a tank on each side, as well as 1 tank in the middle holding all the security guards. Progress was slow on this boss, and extremely annoying. Both sides had to be perfect with their bombs, miss one and it’s a wipe, too slow and it’s a wipe. Many many many times, my side (right side for life) would be complete and the left side would be a few seconds too slow and the bellows would jump down and we would have to wipe it.
Most wipes of all guilds were in phase 1, the timings were so tight it might have seemed like a miracle to ever push into phase 2 clean. The first problem we ran into was padding. A few special people, whom will remain nameless, loved padding and ranking more than killing bosses thus slowing us down a lot. Our second problem was one we were too familiar with from Brackenspore, those loser nerds were DDosing us again, this time even I was being hit along with our healer and boomkin. I guess the competition felt us on their heels and decided to attempt sabotage. I would like to say once we got phase 1 down we started to progress on phase 2, but due to the nature of the Blast Furnace encounter, we never actually got phase 1 DOWN, we just happened to get past phase 1 every so often.
Phase 2 was such a relief to hit. First we got to AoE all the adds down making my already high dps skyrocket. Next came the second hard timing check of the boss. In order to make the boss much easier, killing the first primal elementalist in 1 phase was key, but this required extreme burst dps as you only had a short amount of time before he put his immunity back up. The longer the fight lasted, the more heat the boss would have which would make him pulse his raid wide aoe faster, eventually the healers wouldn’t be able to keep up with the damage. We knew we had the damage if everyone could stay connected and focus, easier said than done when you’re getting targeted.
In the middle of our progression I remember one really great pull we had, we somehow made it all the way to phase 3, deep into phase 3 actually. This was pretty surprising after wiping around phase 1 and hardly even sniffing the start of phase 2 the entire night. This was how the Blast Furnace was though, if you could manage phase 1, the other 2 phases aren’t that difficult, but being our first time there we wiped around 20% because our timings weren’t good enough during the first 2 phases including leaving elementalists up too long. I don’t believe we saw much of phase 2 even for the rest of the night.
With our DC issue seemingly resolved and phase 1 being pretty clean we knew a kill was in reach, it just required that “picture perfect pull” we knew we had in us. At this point only 9 US guilds had taken down the blast furnace and a couple other high end guilds actually disbanded because of the boss, we could almost taste being back in the top 10. The date was March 12th, and finally we nailed everything perfectly. In our 692 gear, we pushed phase 1 perfectly beating the 4th bellows, destroyed the first elementalist in 1 shield phase, nobody blew eachother up or dropped debuffs in a stupid spot, firecallers were taken care of and nobody was padding. Phase 3 hits, the Heart of the Mountain is active and 2 minutes until he superheated everything came together. Even with my highmaul trinket still equipped I was able to get the World number 1 Rank of every class on the kill. Blast Furnace was destroyed, US Rank 11. (Watch here, Mythic Blast Furnace Kill Video)
Mythic Blackhand, The Guild Destroyer.
Finally we arrived at the final boss and possibly the most difficult and tightly tuned boss WoW has ever seen, even more than the Blast Furance, Warlord Blackhand himself. With multiple top level guilds disbanding because of this fight, including the former US first guild Blood Legion, we knew this was going to be a brutal fight. With only 1 Guild in the US having killed the Boss when we arrived a very high rank was possible if we could take down Blackhand.
The final boss of tier 17, Warlord Blackhand was no joke and showed the world what Mythic raiding could be. The world first kill from method taking over 320 wipes and world second from Paragon taking over 600, I knew this would be quite the challenge but I was ready for it. Demonbolt being nerfed a couple weeks before we started Blackhand, I had to adapt to the double doomguard playstyle which was more mobile but quite a bit less damage overall, bad news considering all i’ve heard about the boss and how tight his dps checks are. The first key to the fight was to push phase 1 without using second pots or Bloodlust, this was extremely hard to do in 694 gear. This was before the global 5 item level buff that indirectly nerfed BRF.
Blackhand REQUIRED class stacking. You needed to have 3 hunters and 3 boomkins as well as as many rogues as you could take to eat smashes in phase 3. Besides rogues, melee on mythic Blackhand was pretty much nonexistent. I believe we were one of the first guilds to kill it in the whole world with a ret pally and enhancement shaman. Our DPS monk was required to swap to his undergeared hunter, our paladin tank had to swap to his brewmaster monk, and our DK had to swap to his alt boomkin as well as bringing in our bench boomer for the fight.
Phase 1 was brutal, without bloodlust, everyone had to be pushing 99th percentile dps to beat the first dps check, which is where hunters come in. Besides being able to kite the siege engines in phase 2, hunters could cast an aspect of the fox for each demolition to keep DPS uptime as high as possible. Luckily for me, being a demonology warlock, movement wasn’t a huge issue and my dps was more or less consistent during our pulls. The first week I don’t think we saw phase 2 with more than a few people alive more than once or twice. It was bittersweet to learn of the 5 itemlevel boost the next week, personally I dislike nerfs before we can kill something but it was probably for the best in the long run. After the boost, we didn’t have as many problems with the dps check in phase 1 and could start to learn the hardest part of the fight.
Phase 2 was by far the toughest part of the fight and changed so much from heroic mode. When we first dropped down, Barbalel and I would demonleap to the balcony and handle the first wave of adds before jumping down and doing the first new mechanic, falling cinders. When you drop down on mythic mode, there are a ton of red patches on the ground that the raid needs to soak, these do immense damage in the form of a stacking dot so immunity classes could soak many of these while I could only really do 1 stack, even as a warlock. Positioning was key, both tanks had to be in the exact spot to trigger the speedy siege engine, and this is where our controversial strategy comes into play. In the first kills shown on the web, the siege engines were handled as they were in heroic mode, kite them and line up the impales to hit as they passed by, but in our strategy we trivialized it. Instead of kiting we picked up a new strategy that wasn’t really known at the time, using a monk tank to just tank the siege engines and not have to worry about kiting at all. This made the phase drastically easier in many aspects but also very easy to mess up, getting the siege engines to fixate your tank proved to be pretty tricky at times, and without doing defensives perfectly, the tank would be blown up in less than a second.
One of the more difficult parts of phase 2 was not overkilling the tanks but killing them in that 3 second window before they lobbed their flame patches around the room. Triggering mines on the tank was a great strategy because it let the impales do most of the damage, but with the pad happy people in Huge in Japan, it wasn’t always a good thing. So many times those damn tanks would either die and wipe us, or eat the final impale at literally sub 1% and make your butthole clench so hard. Finding the right balance of dps with the mine triggering and sometimes not triggering was rough but eventually we found it. The boomers had this tendency to be marked for death right before they were assigned to be smashed up, this gave them less than 1 second to displacer beast over and position for the smash while not hitting any bombs or fire, this caused so many wipes just because of bad RNG.
Phase 2 was finally being handled properly more or less, most of the time we would get the correct siege engines, the tank was able to get fixated and fire wasn’t lobbed into the group so we could finally move on the the final phase of the fight, the molten crucible. On the rare pulls that everything went mostly perfect in phase 2 we got to see the elusive phase 3. Once again I volunteered to be the ranged stack point because I was trusted to be in the correct spots. Phase 3 would come down to a DPS race, a very very tight DPS race. For the entirety of phase 3, the raid would take ticking damage from the ground, there were no more places to hide behind for impales so eventually everyone would get the impaled debuff that would persist for the rest of the fight. Basically it came down to, kill the boss before your healers ran out of mana or the raid exploded.
The new mechanic in phase 3 was falling Debris, which was actually very simple. We assigned 5 people to catch the debris and if it was close, the ranged group would soak a pile. Each unsoaked debris would creat a massive slag crater that would consume a large portion of the already small room, couple that with his smashes and the bombs and you would run out of room very fast if you didn’t do everything PERFECTLY. The win conditions were simple, start the phase with everyone alive, soak the falling debris, soak the smashes, move bombs out to the left, and move impales out to the right, pop bloodlust, second potions and DPS like you’ve never DPSed before. Like many guilds before us we had quite a few very low % pulls where we just ran out of room or had too many dps die early and wiped. On the most heartbreaking pull, we had everyone alive, everything was going perfect and our pally healer decided to stay in the raid with impale and destroyed half the group who didn’t use their eyes and move out. Fault on both sides, I was able to move away and not get hit, the rest of the raid should have been aware, but at the same time he should have moved out.
Well over 260 pulls later, on March 23rd at item level 694, despite our horrible start and being far behind our competition the entire tier, Huge in Japan killed Warlord Blackhand US 4th, the highest rank by far in the guilds long and rich history. We did it, where many top US guilds had stumbled, fallen, and disbanded, we killed probably the toughest boss to date in the history of the game. Blackhand was a very annoying fight, we needed to class stack and play perfectly to get the kill at the time we did, leap frogging all competition in our bracket, continental US 2nd only to Midwinter who got the world 3rd kill of Blackhand. This was by far, the most exciting and enjoyable progression race I was ever a part of, and an important part at that. I was able to finish progression at Rank 1 for all demonology warlocks which was something I was very proud of since i’d hardly ever played or even liked the spec prior to BRF. (Watch here, Mythic Blackhand Kill Video)
Looking back at Blackrock Foundry, it was probably the best experience i’ve had in gaming, was able to meet a lot of new friends and prove that I was one of the best. Our roster was so strong, we were able to field top ranking people at nearly every class/spec in the game, i’ve never been a part of such a talented group, even if we didn’t always get along. Thanks for joining me again for Ahead of the Curve, next week i’ll take a look at the final raid of the expansion, Hellfire Citadel and the most insane boss ever created, Mythic Archimonde. I’m Afflikshin, don’t forget to check back with your AZBros often for the greatest gaming news and opinions on the web.