05 January 2009

Introduction to Naxxramas

Talon Guard had a busy and productive holiday season. The capstone however all happened after New Year's Day, as we've been able to do quite a bit of raiding. We took 5 TG members into a PUG for Archavon, which went so well that we stepped into Wyrmrest Temple and killed Sartharion in the Obsidian Sanctum. Both runs were successful, and we were able to down all bosses.

We also got our first taste of Naxxramas. Friday night we put together a run that included 6 TG members, our good friends Hazek and Humansheild, and two other pick-up players. After some group adjustment (including swapping a mage for a resto Shaman), we were able to clear the Spider wing in Naxx. We had so much fun that Hazek came back to Talon Guard. Welcome back!

Last night we took on our second venture to Naxx, this time trying out the Plague wing. We downed the first boss but had a hard time learning the Heigan Dance. We got better at it each time, but it got late before we completed it. We'll try again.

There are great guides for Naxxramas, starting with the WoWWiki Naxx page and the Tankspot videos. For boss fights, those are the two places to look first. Check the WoWWiki page and read up on the fights, and if the fight is more complex (cough Heigan cough) check out the Tankspot video. But here are a few basics to get you started.

Getting There

Naxxramas is located in eastern Dragonblight, close to the border with Grizzly Hills. Alliance will fly into Wintergarde Keep, while Horde will stage at Venomspite. Both towns offer a full range of vendors, including reagents and ammo.

You'll need a flying mount to get to Naxxramas. As you fly towards it (it's on your zone map), you'll see the giant floating necropolis. Fly underneath it. The entrance is on the bottom center of the ziggurat — the base of the pyramid. As you get close you will see fairly small balconies; just land there. There's a small staging room with a summoning stone; there's not much room in there, so on a busy raiding night things will be hectic.

A plea to my fellow players: Please. Just dismount. I know you think it's clever to mount your Mammoth in the middle of the room, but you're about the 10,000th person to think of it. Surely there are more creative ways to be annoying.

Instance Layout

There are four instance portals around the anteroom. It really doesn't matter which one you enter; they all go to the same place. Once inside, you'll find a relatively safe ring that leads to four hallways. These are the four wings (quarters) of Naxx:
  • NE: Spider Quarter
  • SE: Plague Quarter
  • SW: Military Quarter (aka Death Knight wing)
  • NW: Abomination Quarter (aka Construct wing)
Each wing has three bosses except the Abomination quarter, which has four. From what we've seen, there aren't too many trash pulls in any quarter, in keeping with WotLK-esque design. You should be able to do the wing in about the same time as a 5-man instance — if your group is up to the task.

When you kill the final boss of a wing, a portal-looking sign will light up in the central ring; when all four bosses are dead, a portal will open to allow you access to the final bosses, Sapphiron and Kel'Thuzad.

10-Man Raid Composition

Two tanks are needed. Entry-level raids should probably take three healers. Poison cleansing is important in many places, so you'll probably want either a druid or a shaman tasked with doing that, ideally a healer. For your remaining 5 players, bring a mix of melee and ranged DPS. We have not yet found crowd control to be important.

There are no attunement requirements for Naxx. I don't know if level 80 is required, but it's certainly recommended. If you can't quite handle Heroics yet, you're probably not ready for Naxxramas.

This Naxxramas Raid Minimums page provides a good guide for minimum gear requirements. You can also consult Be Imba! and see what it recommends for you. These aren't absolute guidelines. I was probably at the bottom or slightly below those requirements when we started, and never felt that my gear was holding me back.

Fight Mechanics

From what we've seen, the boss fights will generally be a bit more complicated than Heroic boss fights; you'll also have to coordinate twice as many players. So if you're not experienced, plan to spend some time learning the fights. There usually seems to be a twist or an important detail that you have to manage. For example, here are the three boss fights in the Spider wing:

Anub'Rekhan: The boss will send out a ray of spikes from himself to a player; any players in this line or nearby will be hit by the spikes too. So your players have to spread out. He also casts a Locust Swarm that will do a lot of damage; you have to decide whether to kite him to avoid it or just heal through it. You'll also get a lot of adds that the offtank must pick up.

Grand Widow Faerlina: She starts the fight with four "worshipper" adds. Your offtank will have to pick them up and tank them, but not kill them. Faerlina will periodically go into a Frenzy effect, increasing her damage and haste. That's bad... but killing a worshipper will dispell the Frenzy. So the raid has to kill a worshipper as soon as the Frenzy arrives. (Obviously all the DPS needs to kill the same worshipper.) You'll have to save the other worshippers for subsequent Frenzies. So, use raid icons and mark a kill order for the worshippers. The offtank will have to treat them with care; ideally they'll be at 15% health or so when it's time to kill them, but you definitely don't want them to die early!

Maexxna: This giant spider has the annoying habit of periodically cocooning one of your players. You need to DPS the cocoon down to free the player. She will periodically stun the entire raid and continue to do damage, so you can't let anyone get low on health. She also puts a poison on the tank that reduces healing received by 90%, so that must be cleansed ASAP.

So there's a lot to learn for each fight. Some (like Patchwerk) are a lot simpler, but most have lots of details to track. Be prepared to learn (and possibly wipe in the process). Even if you've read a lot about the fights, it can be tricky for everyone to know what to do at what point, either because they miss cues or because they forget what happens in Phase VI or whatever.

Deadly Boss Mods can help with that. It's an addon that tracks a lot of these special abilities and announces them. By default it will announce them to you, but you can set it to announce to the whole raid. Open up the GUI (type /dbm config), open the specific Naxxramas sections, and click the "Announce to Raid" checkbox for each boss. It's a huge help to know (for instance) that the next Frenzy will come in 15 seconds.

Of course your players still have to know what to do, and that's the learning aspect. But that's the fun part! If you go into a raid like this expecting it to be a loot piñata, and expect everything to go perfectly, you'll probably be disappointed. Stick to heroics! Raids like Naxxramas are most interesting when you're doing something different and challenging. And challenging means that you'll wipe. Accept the frustration, try to always learn from your mistakes, and keep a positive attitude, and you'll find that you're having a lot of fun.

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