Why I Hate Al’akir

22 Feb

Last Tuesday, my guild celebrated our first ever 25 man Cho’gall killThis was an exciting time for us, since we can officially begin doing Bastion of Twilight hard modes if we want to and we only have Nefarian left in Blackwing Descent before we can do the same thing there.  Because we extended the lockout to Bastion of Twilight and we killed Cho’gall on a Tuesday, that still left us having to fill 2 full raid nights with something to do.  Someone brought up the idea of downing the Conclave of Wind, which would place the guild at 10/12 in progression and would look mighty nice on all the recruitment posts that we have been leaving all over the place.

Unfortunately, I had to work overtime that evening and learned via Twitter that they managed to down the Conclave without me.  I was almost home and thinking “Great, this means we can spend the whole rest of the evening working on Nefarian.  I am ready for some Nefarian!  I watched the videos and read the strats.  I am ready!”  Imagine my surprise when I log on to find that my guild was working on Al’akir instead and they wanted to pull me in.  I hadn’t watched any videos or strats for this, because I didn’t know we would be here.  Apparently nobody else did, either.

Needless to say my terrific day ended on a very sour note and I was more upset than I had ever been.  I made my displeasure known through various means that I really hated that fight and all that it stood for and people couldn’t seem to understand why I felt that way.  I pride myself on being someone who doesn’t hate indiscriminately and I would like to think I can defend or justify the decisions that I make or the way that I feel most of the time.  So let’s cut to the chase.  Here are the reasons why I hate Al’akir.

Reason #1:  The Loot

Now I know that we tell ourselves a lot of things to make it sound like winning loot doesn’t matter or that it shouldn’t matter.  But the truth is that you would be lying if you said that you didn’t feel your stomach drop when you see that loot window pop up and it’s something you really want and that you have your heart set on.  That feeling of watching the timer tick down as your loot council or whatever method of winning loot determines who is going to get it and you hit Control + left click to try it on (if it appears on your character) and it matches the rest of your gear perfectly.  That feeling of remembering how many times you ran Heroic something or other to get that damn trinket that never dropped and this is your one chance to replace that piece of crap that keeps tarnishing your Armory profile.

Then you see that someone else wins it and you are forced to put on a happy face and clap, like those people do on award shows.  “I’m happy.  Put on a happy face.”  You muster out a “Grats!” and eventually you are happy for that person, because they are working just as hard as you (at least I hope so, anyway).  But in that moment you wanted it.  You deserved it.  You could use it!  We have all been there.  To a certain extent loot does matter and we enjoy winning it.  Especially if you are at a point like my guild is of trying to gear up for hard modes.  There’s still a method to how things should go.  We did regular 5 mans to gear up for 5 man Heroics, which allowed us to be geared for regular raids.  Now we have to farm regular raids to gear up for hard mode raiding.  Faced with potentially sub-par gear from Al’akir, this could be a huge hurdle in terms of that.

Reason #2:  Bragging rights

I remember towards the end of “Wrath” when Ruby Sanctum came out and people were really quick to say that they downed Halion and were posting that in their Trade spam macros and their recruitment posts.  It’s sort of like advertising how many bank slots your guild has.  I don’t think it matters.  What really sold your guild was how far along you were in ICC and if you were doing hard modes or not.  I can’t say that I ever saw someone go “Oh, look.  They have Halion down!  That’s a hardcore guild right there!  Let’s see if they’re recruiting!”  I feel it’s the same with Al’akir.  There are so many other things and so many other boss kills that I feel a guild could be judged on and I don’t think Al’akir is one of them.  Cho’gall is a huge accomplishment.  Nefarian is something to be proud of.  Al’akir?  I think leaving up more important bosses and going for him instead doesn’t quite have the same impact that downing the previous final bosses would.

Reason #3:  It’s complicated

So let me get this straight.  We divide up into groups of 2 or 3 and spread out amongst this platform.  Then every couple of seconds we have to run in and avoid this knockback that if not done properly will send me off the platform and into the air.  While in the air, I will be spinning and unable to act, but I will be taking damage and I will eventually be returned to said platform that I was just knocked off of.  I may or may not end up where I started, but I may also end up directly in the path of a string of tornadoes coming right at me.  All I have to do is find the gap in the cyclones and avoid it.  But I don’t see a gap.  That means I have to stand at the openings either at the beginning or at end of the line of cyclones.  Al’akir is solid, so I can’t run through him.  Guess I should have ran to the back.  Now I’m immobilized again and being blown around the room and taking damage.  I made it out OK, but there is this blizzard thing coming at me.  Can’t talk now, I have to run to the front again and avoid that knockback.  The cyclones are coming, too.  Should I avoid the cyclones and eat the knockback or take the knockback and hope it knocks me out of the way of the cyclones?

See what I mean?  And I haven’t even covered everything that can happen in Phase 1.

I’m all for things being difficult, but not for them being difficult just for the sake of doing so.  Al’akir feels monotonous, inane and grating.  What am I going to take away from Al’akir that is going to even remotely benefit me on other fights?  What am I learning from this?  What is the light at the end of the tunnel, the pot at the end of the rainbow that will make doing this worthwhile?  If it isn’t loot, it isn’t credibility and it’s not a learning experience, then why am I doing this?

I know we are going to have to do this at some point and I know many are jazzed about doing so, but I am surely not one of them.  For now, I’m just going to enjoy our Nefarian attempts (got him to below than 50% on our first night) and hope to God we start doing hard modes before we go back to this beast.  I’m home sick today and the cold medicine is starting to kick in, so I’m going to rest up before the raid tonight.  Wish me luck and thanks for listening!

28 Responses to “Why I Hate Al’akir”

  1. Zinn February 22, 2011 at 2:16 pm #

    I totally agree. I’ve enjoyed writing up tacs for all the bosses we’ve downed, because it gives me an opportunity to think the fight through for myself, consider what parts I thought were difficult and how I could improve in various departments. But Al’Akir… I just haven’t been able to motivate myself. There is just -something- about that fight that makes me not want to think about it. Phase 1 is horrible, we usually use Bloodlust there just to get it over and done with. The RNG of the whirlwind can get me nerdraging. Most fights have some form of RNG factor, but there is something special about the whirlwind. Perhaps it is extra unpredictable and extra annoying when you get hit. Phase 2 isn’t too horrible, but phase 3 have some of the issues that made Oculus so awful. I just can’t orientate myself while flying/swimming, and it annoys me further. Ok, I’ll end my rant here ;)

    • Oestrus February 22, 2011 at 4:16 pm #

      Hi Zinn,

      I can’t even swim, IRL. Having to do it on boss fights isn’t much easier.
      :P

  2. Sihlan February 23, 2011 at 8:02 am #

    I don’t think phase 1 or 2 of Al’akir are that difficult. It’s a pretty standard “dodge the bad” fight with the slight difference is that the bad is moving, but it is also predictable. The tornados take priority, avoid them at all costs. Second thing to avoid is being blasted off by Wind Burst, however you can utilise Wind Burst to get blown off the platform to avoid the Tornados, so not only is it a “bad” effect, it can also be useful. The third thing to avoid is the ice patches, but they are nigh negligible as a jump when entering will take you 75% of the way through their effect.

    “and it’s not a learning experience, then why am I doing this?” I think that if you find it so difficult then it *is* a learning experience, a valuable one.

    Good luck with your future raids!

    • Oestrus February 23, 2011 at 11:29 am #

      Thank you for the best wishes, Sihlan and thanks for stopping by!

      • Harvey February 23, 2011 at 11:52 am #

        I’m going to have to play devil’s advocate here. Don’t get me wrong. Al’Akir fucking blows. But it truly is a test of heads-up-ness. Prioritizing your position. Awareness of your surroundings. All this needs to be done along with your raid role.

        I’ve done throne 2-3 times on 10 man with Walks’ crew and wiped all night on him. To me that was a sign of poor things to come. Generally speaking a 10 man is more manageable than a 25. I did (for an extremely short time before our 25 man attempts) believe that having MORE people in the raid would somehow balance the “oh fuck I ran out to the last gap of the squall line just as his windburst was coming and got knocked off… Balls!”. Meaning the randomness would have less dire consequences on 25 as it did on 10. This was sadly not the case.

        I understand frustration, but a sour experience of being beat down by a boss (or in any gaming scenario) tends to make me want another crack at the fucking thing.

        Maybe next time you will be more prepared for the fight. And also, as far as loot goes, there’s plenty of BiS in throne.

  3. Jen February 23, 2011 at 11:21 am #

    Thanks for another reason to beg my RL to not get close to Al’Akir for a long, long time. I hated Valithria and I failed miserably on it for the longest time… I thanked Elune that I had had the sense of rolling a raid healing class! “Nah guys, a paladin is so much better in the portals! I can just HoT outside!” (Until I raided on my holy paladin alt… ouch.)

    • Oestrus February 23, 2011 at 11:30 am #

      Ugh, I loved Dreamwalker! I had more fun being inside the portals than outside and as a resto druid that was usually the case.

      What didn’t you like about it?

      • Jen February 24, 2011 at 2:36 pm #

        The 3D aspect was hell. I couldn’t for the life of me hit the goddamn clouds, I always lost my stacks and I was a general mess. I managed to get it kinda right on my pally in the end, but I never enjoyed it. I can only imagine Al’Akir is worse. A healer could solo Valithria if s/he was good at the portals (and cover for me), but as far as I understand everyone is important at Al’Akir.

        • Oestrus February 24, 2011 at 2:58 pm #

          See I was a resto druid on that fight and then later I did it as a holy priest so I was used to being mobile and doing other things and I found it quite enjoyable. I found being outside to be more annoying and painstaking. It also helps if you had a buddy in the Dream who would help you get orbs or go around the bend with you. That way they could pop things you couldn’t and vice versa. One of the many strategies I learned from being in .

          And yes, everyone appears to be important for Al’akir – which can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on how you look at it.
          :)

  4. Miles February 25, 2011 at 12:53 am #

    I feel like Al’akir is over-maligned. If your DPS is where it should be you should be out of the first phase in about a minute, probably less. The first phase is the big heads up check but it’ really the only difficult part of the fight. It is nearly impossible to get knocked off by wind burst or picked up by a squall line if you just keep an eye out—if wind burst is coming, move into the squall line to get through it “early” or run ahead of it and let the wind burst knock you to where you need to be. The fight has gotten a lot easier since the change in the radius of the lightning blast.

    He also drops a lot of BIS pre heroics loot for a lot of people—the 1H caster swords are amazing, and the tanking legs are BIS for plate tanks.

    Also to be fair, the only “easy” heroic in Bastion is Halfus, and that’s only if you have four geared tanks and 6-8 great healers. The other three fights are brutal, as are most fights in BWD (Chim and Atra are good starting points). It’s also worth noting that killing Al’akir unlocks Conclave heroic, which is a strong early heroic choice. Halfus, Chim, Atra, Mal, Conclave are really the five “easy” heroics and so it’s best to get them open ASAP.

    • Oestrus February 25, 2011 at 8:31 am #

      Good morning Miles,

      I don’t have too much experience with Al’akir, but I do question that the first phase is supposed to go as fast as you’re stating. My guild does include some very strong DPS and I know that phase was lasting much longer than a minute. Perhaps you were referring to 10 man or maybe that’s something unique to your guild? I wish our P1 went that quickly!

      • Miles February 25, 2011 at 7:06 pm #

        I may have made a mistake because things always seem to go faster when they’re smooth and on farm, but—

        Al’akir has 105 million health on normal-mode 25; you need to burn him to 80% to push the phase change, which is 21 million damage. Our raid DPS in the first 60 seconds of the fight is about 300,000 (over 400,000 while cooldowns are up, around 290k ish when people are moving and cooldowns are gone). At that rate of DPS it would take 70 seconds to push the phase, which I think is fairly ‘about a minute.’

        It might be your DPS is too low, which would make sense if you have DPS that are having a hard time with the mechanics, since they’re not contributing. It also might be that it really is only a minute and it’s just feeling longer cause you hate it so much :P

  5. AliPally February 28, 2011 at 8:40 am #

    Gosh I so hated Valithria! All that 3D swimming and struggling to pop balls, especially on Heroic mode. This fight made me cry; I have never felt so useless as a healer.
    I felt even worse when our Holy Priest replaced me and subsequently got a healing stack double what I had managed in numerous previous attempts.
    To a lesser extent I hated Malygos for the same reason. At least on that fight I could just /follow someone else and press my fireball buttons without worrying about where the hell I was.
    Give me a solid floor to stand on, and let someone else do the flying – anyone but me.

    • Oestrus February 28, 2011 at 9:05 am #

      See I was fortunate to play really mobile classes that had a lot of instant cast spells to rely on. So neither fight was really an issue for me. I was a druid when Malygos was all the rage and so I would just HoT everyone in the Vortex. I was a druid and a holy priest for Dreamwalker and that was when Renew/CoH was the cool thing to do. Plus Guardian Spirit on Dreamwalker was pretty hot.

      I would say my bane right now is being spread out. PoH doesn’t work if the parties aren’t organized well and it can be hard to reach people with CoH if people are too far apart, as well. Oh and Lightwell. Click the Lightwell!

  6. Borsk February 28, 2011 at 6:59 pm #

    Just want to ask a question because it seems inconsistent.

    Al’akir is an overly hard boss with very few pieces of useful loot, but it is not worthy to put up as an accomplishment for your guild? Al’akir is a fight that requires execution from all of your members. Nefarian is a fight that hinges on the job of 2-8 people.

    The reward in the epic department isn’t always the best reward from defeating a difficult boss.

    Just playing devil’s advocate. Don’t throw things!

    • Oestrus February 28, 2011 at 8:45 pm #

      Hey there Borsk,

      I’m not opposed to doing Al’Akir at some point. I don’t feel it would be wise for a guild to skip him altogether. I just think that from where my guild is at right now that we have bigger fish to fry. I feel that we gain more by downing Nefarian and getting him on farm than we do spending a large amount of time on Al’Akir. I see Al’Akir being more like the cherry on a really big sundae, but we don’t even have the sundae made yet. I feel that unlocking Heroics and downing those would speak more of our achievements than spending more time on Al’Akir right now. To me hard modes are progression. Hard modes are what sets people apart from each other. That’s where I feel like I’m really achieving something. That’s how I feel.

      I wouldn’t throw anything at you, Borsk! We’re cool. We’re love.

      Thanks for stopping by.
      :)

  7. Ice February 28, 2011 at 7:34 pm #

    Why I personally hate Al’akir.

    1) Ledges on the platform. If you fall off you normally get spinning animation back to the platform – intended. If you fall to these platforms however, couple things can happen:
    a) You will 80% of cases die – its more than 60 yards fall. If you dont die by luck(like being at 100% health) you WILL take fall damage and if its phase 2 (aoe damage to whole raid) or you are tank and he channels the lighting? DEAD
    b) You cannot get up to the platform by jumping down hoping to get spinning.. you will fall to your death.

    2) Cyclones don’t respond well to lag.
    Every raider has “latency”. My “ms” is about ~60-100 and it seems ridiculous that its still a lot for them. Either its that or it has big annoying mechanic of sucking you in. Sure, its cyclone and they tend to do that in real life. But when I stay slightly to left of the exact middle of the safe zone? Sucking you in!
    Demonic teleport just second after the cyclones passed the portal? Sucking you in.
    Basically their “hitbox” does not respond well to their visual graphics at all.
    Oh and if you are very unlucky you get all that AND ice patch under you taking ridiculous damage from both sources.

    3) Boss swats melee randomly
    This cannot be mechanic. I know most bosses have big F- you abilities to melee in this tier (some has been hotfixed, sure) but this? Tank has perfectly fine threat. Lets say tank has 100% threat (pull aggro is 110% for melee) and next guy has 60% threat and is ranged, next melee has 50% threat.
    All of sudden “Melee has died”. Why? “Al’akir’s melee hits MeleeDPS for huge amounts of damage”. Oddly this only seems to occur on phase 1 for us on following occasions:
    a) Tank has to run to safe zone of the cyclones, gets lighting cast and .. bam melee gets hit.
    b) He just does it as he pleases. Puny mortals have no change!

    4) Last phase and 3D space.
    It seems that for some reason people cant grasp the concept of 3D space and if they would they hate it (oculus? Dreamwalker?)
    Theres always -someone- who is miles above you making the next lighting cloud there..going thro that will result atleast 2-3 people dead if they arent either full health (healers are pretty oom at this point) or wind burst just happens to hit before/after you get thro it.

    Overall scores for al’akir? 5/10. Doesnt feel tested. Has lot of RNG that isnt suppos to be there. Loot feels unrewarding (right item! …wrong stats). Doesnt even have cool music or even have voice acting. Just seems they threw it in there as some bizarre test to see if random enchanted gear would work as loot.

    Malygos of the tier. Do once for achi/progress raise. Stay heck away from it.

    • Oestrus February 28, 2011 at 8:46 pm #

      Ha! I agree with a lot of your points and your metaphor about it being the Malygos of this tier. Well said!

  8. Kuri February 28, 2011 at 10:53 pm #

    This delves very close to QQ territory. Al’Akir, in my opinion, is a very worthwhile fight that deserves bragging rights when accomplished. Much in the same way Omnitron Defense System is. They’re both about finding the optimal strategy to beat the RNG monster. (Especially true on Heroic modes.)

    To each of your points, I only agree with the loot sentiment. For him to drop 0 tier and random-enchant items (that don’t exceed the tier in the same slot), it’s just reeking of poor itemization.

    Here’s how Al’Akir helps you in future raid encounters:
    P1 – Learn to maintain your position, minimize movement, direct heals on appropriate clumped targets, move in a very confined space, dodge deadly abilities while juggling forced-movement boss spells, and eek as much burst out as you can to finish an intensive phase.

    If you can’t get the timing down between ice storm, squall line, and wind burst… it just means you’re paying insufficient attention to them and focusing too much on tunneling the boss. You are rewarded for communicating and moving with efficiency, and most of all, anticipation. Lack this and you’ll suck on Phase 1.

    It also teaches you the value of quadrants. Shift into another quadrant and suddenly you’re linking 6 people with chain lightning for ~80k damage or more. Need to move better.

    Getting blown off the edge? You’re not paying attention to wind burst timing, or you’re not prioritizing your options properly. You can just hop off the ledge entirely if you see an unavoidable squall line and know a wind burst’s coming, rather than taking the burst damage and falling off anyway.

    P2 – Learn to stack and kill monsters at the proper time to stack debuffs. Use raid & personal cooldowns to minimize ticks / clear stacks towards the latter part of the phase. Nothing else big here.

    P3 – Don’t be the dummy standing with lightning rod in the raid (you just did BoT, this should be second nature). Don’t fly too far down. Don’t fly too far up. Don’t stand in storm clouds. Down->Down->Bottom. Up->Up->Top. Repeat. Dead.

    Nobody said it’d be easy, but this is a raid coordination fight. If you’re struggling, it’s a player/communication issue.

    But if anything, raids who get this down should get extra kudos points, as this shows they’re a very coordinated group. Downing him on Heroic should speak volumes orders of magnitude larger.

    • Oestrus March 1, 2011 at 8:37 am #

      Hey there Kuri,

      First and foremost, I checked out your blog and I really like your design and layout. You write great articles and I really relate to a lot of the things that you say. I will most certainly be following your blog and I will most likely Follow you on Twitter, too. Hopefully that’s OK!

      I can certainly see where you would think I was getting close to QQ territory and I’ll agree with you. I think it’s safe to say that every raider has at least one boss encounter that they despise and those reasons may be really well thought out or they may be more superficial and not so solid (i.e. people hating Sindragosa just for her voice).

      From reading a lot of the feedback generated by this post and from your specific comment I do feel more motivated to try and down Al’Akir at some point in our progression. I just don’t feel right now is the time. We have enough on our plates as is and I feel we could be working on bigger things than this. As of right now, it seems like our officer core agrees and I’m grateful for that.
      :)

      • Kuri March 1, 2011 at 8:57 am #

        Thanks for the response!

        Yeah, in terms of getting your raid geared and progressing through this raid cycle, Al’Akir ranks pretty low. But in terms of a competency / coordination check, it’s one of the best. Whether that aligns with your raid team’s goals however…

        In a practical sense, as you said, he’s not the ideal target with other bosses still up.

        And of course, you’re more than entitled to have a least-favorite fight! Mine’s Heroic Halfus. It’s just a cluster of massive proportions until a few dragons die and you can see your feet again (I’m a melee, can you tell?). However, the more I study up and practice, the less frustrating it gets. There’s always tricks! I think Al’Akir embodies that in Phase 1.

        See you around and hope you have better luck with him once you actually get to him on the kill order. :)

        • Oestrus March 1, 2011 at 9:10 am #

          You’re very welcome! And without sounding too much like I’m groveling, your blog is probably one of the more refreshing ones that I have come across lately. There seems to be a serious drought of decent blogs and yours really stood out to me.

          Competency/coordination checks are certainly things that I can see our officers wanting us to get better at and master. Unfortunately, we do still struggle with some fights that are considered “easy” and we don’t give them our all like we always should, which leads to us wiping. I think once our raid can safely say that we pass other competency/coordination checks regularly then we can go back and try to apply what we have learned to Al’Akir. It’s certainly in the cards and I’m certainly not completely opposed – just not right now.

          Heroic Halfus? See, I used to dread Halfus until they created Glyph of Devastation (because I tend to tank heal on that fight) and I felt more secure in keeping my tank up. I don’t mind Halfus because Lightwell can be used while stunned and it gets a lot of mileage there. I should probably read up on him soon, because rumor has it that he may be our first Heroic target.

  9. Troll Toes March 2, 2011 at 3:54 am #

    One thing for priests that made Al’akir much more amusing for me:

    You can lifegrip people out of the tornado wall.

    I expected it not to work as usually if you try such things the spell fails. But it does actually work, and it works incredibly well. I actually found enjoyment from discovering that, and the novelty of the fight overall. It’s that strange kind of ridiculous that leaves me confused but also giggling into my raid-time cuppa rather than frustrated.

    LIFEGRIP HEROES!

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