Testing, Testing – The Stonecore

3 Oct

*   Insert possible Cataclysm spoiler alert here   *

Full disclosure:  I healed this run on my priest and am doing most, if not all things in the Beta on my priest.  I will try to sum up the instance and the happenings in it and around it, as best as I can, by using healer neutral terms.  I will only use Priest based terms, if I feel I can’t describe something in a way that would not apply to just any other healer.  Thank you for understanding and please enjoy the post.

First and foremost, The Stonecore is the first instance in the Beta where CC is an absolute must.  Most of the pulls you will be running into are groups of 3 – 5 and you will be running into a lot larger groups of non-elite NPCs that can number much higher than that.  Mages will be sheeping, the rogues should be sapping, etc.  The mobs hit hard and you will not be at a gear level to immediately zerg through these groups, when you first start running this place.  Your party members will also need to utilize marking and focus firing a certain target down, one at a time.  If the DPS is focusing on a mob that is CCed or if the DPS is split, it can wear on your group’s resources and cause all sorts of problems.  And this is just on the regular 5 man.  I shudder to think about how difficult these pulls will be on Heroic mode.

The first boss here is a tunneling worm known as Corborus.  Make sure the boss is facing away from you, because it does a cone silence effect that can interrupt your spell casting.  If the tank is not able to keep it turned away from you, move to the other side of it.  At some point, a player may notice a spell effect graphic appear under their feet.  This effect is similiar to that of Archavon, where shards of rocks repeatedly rain down on someone.  Step out of the effect and avoid the incoming damage.  After the first phase, Corborus will burrow underground and begin moving around, dealing damage to and knocking back anyone in its way.  Make sure to step out of the way and position yourself behind the boss, when it pops back up again.  During the burrow phase, a small amount of adds will spawn.  They don’t hit too hard and don’t have a lot of hit points.  Keep your party healed through it, depending on who they decide to target.

The second boss you will encounter here is a dragon known as Slabhide.  As with most dragons and with Corborus, the dragon should be turned away from the group.  He will do a Sand Breath that does quite a bit of damage and the rest of the party will be busy trying to avoid the circles of fire the boss will spit onto the ground and that people will need to make sure they’re not standing in.  Frequently, Slabhide will break combat and fly off into the air.  During this time, stalagtites will fall from the ceiling and land on the ground.  There are shadows on the ground that you can see, to help you avoid being underneath them and taking damage.  The stalagtites also create line of site issues and you won’t be able to heal anyone, with one of those standing in your way.  The best approach is to literally follow your tank around throughout the fight and bob and weave around the stalagtites, so that isn’t an issue.

Boss number 3 is a neat looking stone giant named Ozruk.  Ozruk will consistently cast different forms of armor or effects on himself that will affect those trying to do damage to him, in different ways.  Spike Shield will leave a bleed debuff on any melee hitting him during that time and Elementium Bulwark will reflect spells back at casters that try to target him.  These effects are temporary, so it is smart to hold off on doing something that could harm you, while those things are active.  The fight is already difficult enough to heal and people can do their part to make the run go more smoothly this way.  When Ozruk is finished with his Spike Shield, he will fire the spikes at those in melee range and cause more damage to them.  If you don’t have to be in close quarters, make sure you are not and get at maximum range. 

Ozruk’s most notable ability is Ground Slam, a 3 second cast ability that causes a lot of damage and causes the party to be knocked back.  The tank should spend most of their time tanking the boss with their back up against a wall and the rest of the party can run through the boss and move towards a wall, when they see he is beginning to cast the ability.  This allows them the time to do DPS and other things and then react accordingly, when needed.  It wouldn’t hurt to stay as close to the tank as possible (without making yourself a target for the abilities that harm anyone in melee range), because being separated from the tank during a knockback can lead to them dying very fast without a heal.

My group was facing a number of issues during this run.  Random disconnects caused us to replace someone, no less than 3 times and there was a bug in place that prevented people’s ghosts from being able to reach the heights of the Stonecore instance portal and reclaim their corpses.  Normally, you get a ghost gryphon, of sorts to help your ghost fly back.  It wasn’t happening here and therefore, it took much longer to come back and pick up where we left off.  People got discouraged by this and didn’t feel like sticking around.  We didn’t even defeat the last boss.  After an hour of attempts on this instance, the group called it and moved on.

High Priestess Azil (what a cool name) is the final boss here and she packs a pretty powerful punch.  To start things off, she casts an Energy Shield around herself, similiar to Lady Deathwhisper – except Azil’s shield has nothing to do with her mana bar and simply reduces all incoming damage to her by 75%.  While she is shielded, she will throw large boulders at people (I mean, large) – make note of the shadow, to see where they are going to land and avoid that spot.  She will also send large waves of non-elite adds your way that will aggro to just about anybody and I had a very hard time keeping them off me, from healing aggro alone.  They are probably best handled by AOE or you can drag them into void zones Azil creates and they can die very fast that way.  Make sure you don’t get sucked into a void zone or spend more time than is necessary in one. 

The most harmful ability that Azil does is something called Focus Grip.  It is very important that anyone with a silence or an interrupt or something they can do to stop casting be on top of that.  If it’s not managed properly, Force Grip will allow the boss to pick up the target and bounce them up and down in the air, leading to her tossing them across the room.  This is most often done to the person with the most aggro on her, so the tank should almost always be the target of that.  If the tank gets picked up and chucked aside, that means she will most likely come for who is next on the aggro table and that’s not good.  Again - make sure the group does anything they can to prevent that.  It can be done.

I was level 82 when I tried healing this and it was a definite struggle.  Now, I don’t know if it was just due to the tuning of the instance, the flakiness of my group or outside factors – but it was tough.  The Dungeo
n Finder has the Stonecore labelled as an 80-83 instance, but I think I may want to farm some blues out of the other 2 instances (Throne of the Tides & Blackrock Caverns) and wait until I’m 83 or 84 to give it another go.  Speaking of, the Dungeon Finder is buggy today and keeps disconnecting me when I try to queue for things.  The realm I’m on has also been down at various points of the morning.  So that may have to wait.

Otherwise, I’m preparing for the impending 4.0 patch (which could land on Tuesday – depending on who you ask), more tryouts for 25 man HLK and spending time with the delightful Kurn and friends on Eldre’thelas.  All while fighting the autumn cold that took over my city very quickly, recently.  Brrr!

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10 Responses to “Testing, Testing – The Stonecore”

  1. Kurn #

    Hee! I’m delightful! ;)

    Well, if I’m delightful, then you are absolutely darling!

  2. Oestrus #

    You’re making a redhead blush – that’s just cruel! :)

  3. Jadissa #

    Looks like this’ll be a fun instance :D . The damage reflection is going to eat some PUG groups alive though…

    I’ve got to say, I really hope that all of the dungeons don’t get hit with a last second swing of the nerf bat. I really want to be challenged – too often in Wrath I’ve felt as though the particulars of what I was doing as a tank really didn’t matter too much, which was quite a shift from BC.

    Chilly’s a lot better than the flooding I’ve had to deal with in my area, incidentally :P

  4. Oestrus #

    Are you in Wisconsin, too and dealing with flooding or in some other location?

    In terms of the instance, I can see Ozruk being more of an issue for melee, than casters. Not only do they have to avoid the spiked armor, but then the armor shoots out and hits them for more than anyone else. Or it could be seen as harder on the healer, having to focus on them more.

    These runs are challenging, right out of the gate. I would like to think they would remain that way, even with some gear and I’m still consistently hearing that the Heroics are definitely rough. But like you said, I hope they remain that way. That’s the catch.

  5. Jadissa #

    I actually just recently moved from Wisconsin. I used to live in the general vicinity of Kenosha, which is southeastern WI if you know that area at all. Now I live in southern Minnesota, which certainly didn’t get the flooding nearly as bad as WI did, but enough to still make long drives a pain with detours.

    It’s nice to see them make things a bit more challenging for the melee. I feel like there are a great many gimmicks in ICC that are unfavorable to casters – Malleable Goo, Unchained Magic, and so on.

    I really hope they don’t botch the tuning on the intro raids like they did with Naxx, where the heroics were more of a pain to run than Naxx10. So much of the first 4-6 months of Wrath felt like a non-achievement, because of the relative ease of entry.

  6. Oestrus #

    I do know where Kenosha is – I actually live in downtown Milwaukee, myself. So I didn’t really experience a lot of the flooding, but I heard that is was pretty bad and recognized as such, on a national level. What prompted you to move to southern Minnesota?

    Yeah, I used to love hearing melee say how bad they had it in ICC. I would always respond with a resounding “Bullshit!”

    Right now, I feel dungeon difficulty is still there, even for regular 5 mans. But that could be because of the gear you may be coming into the expansion with or the basic 5 man mechanics that the average WoW player is still not hip to or has forgotten (i.e. interrupting, not standing in things, etc.)

  7. Jadissa #

    Oh, neat. I miss running up to Milwaukee, but I don’t miss city driving – more of an open roads and highways sort of guy myself. I ended up with a job offer in southern Minnesota right after finishing up my degrees, so I pretty much had to jump on it considering the economy and such. It’s a shame, because I really miss SE Wisconsin, though I never really expected to say that.

    I wholeheartedly agree that most WoW players have forgotten many of the basics – and I hope they are in for a rude awakening! It’ll make the applicants I get in Cata a bit more battle-hardened, hopefully, and I won’t have to continue to chant the endless mantra “Do not stand in that which ought not be stood in”.

    Even in many parts of ICC, there just aren’t enough penalties that seriously affect a raid regarding positioning and situational awareness – though, that could just be due to the overwhelming power brought on by the 30% buff.

    I often wonder how different ICC would have ended up without that buff. The content is obviously killable, but I really feel like considering how long we’ve been farming the instance for easily replaceable gear, they might’ve been better off either not giving out the buff, or drastically reducing the speed in which it was applied. ICC might actually still be mostly a challenge, rather than just bashing your head against H PP, Sindy, and LK.

  8. Oestrus #

    It’s funny how Milwaukee works that way! I moved to Reno, NV for a year and I couldn’t WAIT to get out of here. I was ready to kiss Milwaukee off, I did not think I would miss it… and then when I was gone, I realized that I did. Reno ended up being a lot more conservative than I had planned and I’m not into meth or gambling, so there went most of my chances to have a social life. I really missed how open and free-thinking Milwaukee was and I like the bustle. Not too much, but just enough to get lost in.

    I’m sure I’ll muster up the courage to move at some point – but for now I’m quite happy where I’m at. :)

  9. Jadissa #

    I can definitely appreciate what you mean about being more conservative. I never really paid attention to how things where in SE WI, but here in southern MN, it’s just baffling how many people are more conservative, more religious, etc. It’s nice in some aspects, because I actually really feel like people are a bit more polite in this area, but it makes me a bit uncomfortable being surrounded by so many people who don’t share my views, or getting odd looks for having a piercing.

    Good thing they can’t see the tattoo…

  10. Oestrus #

    Oooh. Can I see the tattoo? :P

    I’ll show you mine if you show me yours!

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