Monday, January 25, 2010

Exponential Soft Enrages

One new element in Icecrown Citadel are exponential soft enrages. These are mechanics which start out slow and "speed up" as time goes on. There are currently three fights that use exponential soft enrages: Deathbringer Saurfang; Professor Putricide; and Blood Queen Lana'thel.

In the Deathbringer encounter, Saurfang gains Blood Points when he deals damage to someone. When he reaches 100 Blood Points, he puts a Mark on someone and deals damage to them whenever he hits the tank. That means he generates the next Mark faster, and so on. If a person with a Mark dies, Saurfang heals for 5%.

In Putricide Phase 3, the tank gets a debuff which causes raidwide damage. Each stack increases the raidwide damage by a factor of 3. If the debuff expires for any reason, including tank death, Putricide is healed for a large amount (10% maybe, but P3 starts at 35%, so it's effectively a third or more of his remaining health.)

In Blood Queen Lana'thel, one person is turned into a vampire allowing them to do more damage. After a short time, they have to bite someone else and turn them into a vampire as well. After another interval, two new vampires have to be created, and so on. If you aren't able to bite someone, you get Mind Controlled.

One of the most interesting things about these setups is how vulnerable they are to "fiddling" in the early part of the sequence.

For example, in Deathbringer Saurfang, you can let the first Mark die. Saurfang heals for 5% and you lose a DPS, but you effectively reset the soft enrage timer. Let's say the first Mark comes at 2 min with the second Mark coming at 3 min. Letting the first Mark die means that the first active Mark comes at 4 min, with the second mark at 5 min. You gain a huge amount of time because you were able to reset the sequence, and the fight becomes trivial. The penalty of 5% health and a DPS is not enough to prevent the tactic from working.

In Putricide, the penalty is very high. It's high enough to make resetting the stack non-viable. However, you can buy a bit of extra time by inserting more tanks into the tank rotation. Each extra tank would give you an extra 40s in P3 while keeping the raidwide damage low. It's possible that a guild which is having trouble with P3 could drop a healer and put in an extra tank.

For Blood Queen Lana'thel, originally the sequence of 1-2-4-8-16 was less than the hard enrage timer. So people started doing a sequence like 1-2-(4-3)-6-12-24. When you hit four vampires, one vamp would deliberately die to shift the sequence slightly. A small change early in the sequence netted more time, enough that the hard enrage became the limiter. Again, there was no penalty for fiddling with the sequence. Blizzard eventually increased the timer, so the normal sequence would hit the hard enrage timer as well.

So exponential soft enrage timers are a very interesting mechanic introduced in Icecrown. However, they need strong penalties to avoid people tampering with them. An early reset or delay can push back the soft enrage by a large amount. In two of the three fights that use it so far, the penalty wasn't strong enough.


  1. Exponential soft enrage is probably best part of the icecrown encounters so far. BigRedBosses is getting old and I'm glad blizzard could come up with something different.

  2. Also of note is Rotface, who has a speeding up mechanic. There is an upper limit however. The Mutated Infection that he casts is done every 14 seconds or so at first and then will incrementally get faster until he's casting it every 6 seconds (which happens about 3 minutes in).

    For a long time (and even somewhat still) my guild had believed that he "enraged" at 30%, spitting out the Infections quicker. In reality they were already quicker and we didn't really notice all that much. It is interesting to note that our group was like "AHHHH 30%, HEAL EVERYONE! WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE!" In other words, we panicked at 30% because we thought the fight changed.

  3. It makes a long time WoW raider take pause and wonder if its worth it to continue a WoW subscription.

    Creating these intricate (cumbersome) encounters, where videos have to be made to get through them plus a boss mod... for purple pixels that get reset in the next expansion.

    I'll go watch the videos and go play a different game.

  4. Crofe, that's a good point about Rotface. However, Rotface's timer is independent of player actions, and can't be altered.

    So it's a little bit different than the three sequences listed.

  5. >>>Intricate (cumbersome) encounters

    It seems more like they have switched from making things like mana regen, threat management, resist sets, farming consumables and class buff mixes being the major concern to actually creating interesting encounters for new bosses. Those videos and strats you see on the web weren't produced by Blizzard, they were created my gamers to be used by the lowly player. With all the love casual players are getting, it's good Blizzard still provides challenges for the gamers.

  6. Deathbringer Saurfang's Mark can be completely avoided. Its possible to get through the encounter without him casting a single mark. My guild did it the last two weeks in a row on 10-man.

  7. @Chris

    That is just beating the encounter with so much speed (and excellent add control) that you don't see the enrage, also I have only heard of (and done) this in 10 man, too many adds in 25/whatever other reasons to get away with no marks. In this case the more amusing solution I have seen is to SS multiple dps pallys and have them DI the first and possibly second mark. They take no damage, so as long as he is down in mark1+3 min you have reset the timer.


    I would question the validity of saying that "messing with the sequence" isn't a valid and welcome strat by blizzard. it means you have to make a choice. it takes more thought less grind

  8. Oh, it's a valid strat, I'm not denying that. However, I do think strats that revolve around letting people die are a bit silly.

    However, I'm just saying that this class of challenges is vulnerable. It's very easy for a small change early in the sequence to render the sequence immaterial, when instead it should be a major part of the fight.

    For example, if the penalty on Saurfang was that he healed 50% of his health, then letting someone die would not be a valid strat at all. It all depends on the penalty.

  9. The difference between asking someone to sacrifice themselves and having the mechanic remove the player is subtle.

    I remember in TBC Azgalor which killed a player with its curse of doom and Teron Gorefiend which had a similar mechanic. Kazgoral also had a soft enrage like that with its mark that ate more and more mana.

    More recently (or even before), Grobulus has a similar mechanic, putting poison rings faster and faster as the fight progresses.

    Another technique I read about for Saurfang is to have the marked people go into the ship's cannons as they are then removed from the fight (as in don't get any achievement and loot).

    What my guild does is simple, have a trigger happy discipline priest tossing shields left and right, especially on people with debuffs.