I Design Raid Encounters In My Sleep
*dusts off blog* Oh, hey! I have a blog! Fancy that. Hi, everyone!
I have a lot of WoW related dreams. Originally, they were about questing, or practicing my rotation, or farming herbs, or other mundane things that I was actually doing in-game. However, more recently my subconscious mind has started designing raid encounters (and other new game features) in my sleep, sometimes in surprising detail. Last night I dreamed of an encounter that was especially “complete”, so I feel like I should write it down. For posterity, or something.
This encounter takes place in a large, rocky arena; either a bowl-shaped valley surrounded by steep cliffs or a subterranean cavern with a high ceiling. It’s a bit larger than the chamber Tortos was in. In the center is a large, mechanical contraption with various valves, tubes and machinery, digging into the earth and putting out tendrils of pipe that meander across the room, sometimes disappearing underground and then reappearing in other places. The rocks are all colored in rich browns, rather like the rock formations in Thousand Needles.
Around the room there are several chambers or alcoves set back into the cliffs. Each alcove contains 4-5 caster mobs with low health pools, but which deal very high damage if aggroed. These casters are trash mobs, which do not participate in the boss fight unless you get too close to them.
The boss stands just to the right of the room entrance and has a fairly large aggro radius, so you can’t get very far into the room before he pulls. This prevents you from getting near the alcoves to kill the casters before engaging the boss.
The boss is immobile, so is tanked right where he stands. My dream didn’t provide me with much detail about the boss itself at all — I blame the fact that I don’t tank. I have no idea what it looked like, or what it was doing besides standing there meleeing the tanks. It probably had a tank swap mechanic, because every recent boss has had a tank swap mechanic, so why not? I do remember that the boss was partially protected by a mechanical shield contraption that caused him to take 50% less damage in this phase.
Otherwise, the first few seconds of the fight is pure tank n’ spank. About 30 seconds into the encounter the boss becomes inactive and big mechanical construct-type adds spawn around the entire room, spaced about 30 yards apart from each other. There are about 6 adds per 5 players. These constructs are also immobile, as well as untankable, doing nothing but channeling a single spell. They have to be killed before they finish the channel, which lasts about 20 seconds, or else they drop a large explosive boulder where they were standing. Each explosive boulder has about twice the health of a construct, and must be killed within 10 seconds of spawning. If not killed in time, the boulders explode for massive amounts of AoE raid damage.
Killing the constructs in time requires a fairly high amount of DPS. It also requires DPS to quickly spread out around the room to kill the constructs at the opposite end from where the boss is standing. In my dream, we had every person assigned to a construct, with DPS players helping tanks and healers kill their constructs after their own were dead. Then everyone worked to quickly kill any leftover constructs or dropped boulders. It might be possible to survive 1-2 boulder explosions using strong raid cooldowns.
After the constructs and boulders are dead, the boss re-activates and needs to be picked up quickly by a tank. This is back to tank n’ spank mode, except approximately every 20 seconds the boss does a raid-wide knockback. This is a lot like Iron Juggernaut’s knockback, in that it knocks you back until you are stopped by an obstacle. Luckily, there’s a giant piece of machinery in the center of the room to stop you. However, if you miss hitting the machinery, you can easily be knocked back into one of the alcoves and aggro the casters there. This is nearly guaranteed to wipe the raid, as the casters will likely kill the person knocked into them, and then run out of the alcove to pick off other raid members. (If you are reminded of Onyxia’s whelp caves, so am I.)
At this point the tank n’ spank/knockback part of the phase alternates with the construct/boulder phase until Phase 2 is triggered. Each tank n’ spank section lasts about a minute, with constructs/boulders taking about 30 seconds.
The Gimmick That Triggers Phase 2
In order to trigger Phase 2, you have to destroy the machinery in the center of the room. The machinery cannot be DPSed — instead you must collect explosive resources that spawn randomly around the room and place them into the machine. When enough resources have been collected, someone can pull the lever on the side of the machine to detonate the explosives. In my dream we assigned a Disc Priest to run around collecting explosives, because there wasn’t a lot of healing required in Phase 1, (unless boulders exploded), and because he could use Angelic Feathers to keep up a near constant speed boost to help him get to resource spawns.
Detonating the explosives also prevents more constructs from spawning, and (more importantly) removes the boss’s damage reducing shield.
This is a pure burn phase, very much like the final phase of Galakras or Shannox. The boss deals increasing raid-wide AoE damage until it overwhelms the healers and wipes the raid or you manage to kill the boss. The key here is to whittle enough health off the boss in Phase 1 to be able to finish him off quickly once his shield is gone. Since players have control over when he transitions, it’s a matter of balancing how many construct phases with their high burst damage requirements you can handle vs. how much raid-wide AoE damage you can survive at the end. It would probably be a good idea to save Bloodlust/Heroism for Phase 2, as well as to transition to Phase 2 after a tank n’ spank section instead of after constructs, so that you have as many DPS cooldowns available as possible.
Of course, in addition to the soft-enrage of increasing raid damage in Phase 2, there’s also a hard enrage at about 5-6 minutes, which should help prevent people from simply remaining in Phase 1 forever.
Don’t Quit My Day Job?
So, what do you think? Did my subconscious mind do a good job? Do I have a promising future ahead of me as an encounter designer? Or is this just a sign that I definitely play too much?