Final Week of Challenge Modes

3 Challenge Modes left on the schedule, and only 2 weeks left to do them. With any luck, we’ll only need the 1 weekend, but hey, it’s nice to have the safety net. Due up this week are Mogu’Shan Palace, Stormstout Brewery, and Siege of Niuzao Temple. After reviewing all the videos and cranking out a quick outline/guide for our game plan, I have to say that of the 3, the one that has me most worried is Siege.

I’ve seen a lot of people express their fear/respect for Stormstout Brewery, and I was a bit worried about it at first. However, upon taking a closer look at the challenges faced, I think that most of the difficulty in SSB comes from a very tight timer on gold and the initial massive kiting pull, both of which will be largely negated by our 9 extra minutes. It’s still not a particularly generous timer, so we’ll need to be brisk, but as long as we execute at the level we have been doing, then I think we’ll be ok. Perhaps not a one-shot level of easy, but I think we can do it without too much trouble.

Mogu’Shan Palace shouldn’t be too much of a worry, either. It is by far the easiest of those we have left and I’ve altered the usual invisibility run to make it even easier. There are no jumps and only one turn, it’s situated in such a way that if somebody fails the rest of the group can just pop back and help (unlike Scarlet Monastery, where the stairs cut you off), and the only real issue should be playing too fast and loose with agro radius, which shouldn’t be too much of an issue. The only real possible roadblock is the final boss, wherein we must all focus on staying out of the numerous ground hazards while burning down the boss, but it should only take a minute or so to kill him. I’ll just have to work extra hard at getting myself out of the bad and trusting others to do the same instead of focusing so much on health bars.

Siege is a bit more of a special case. Siege is more of a control/finesse instance. Things like controlling your enemies’ positioning and movement and controlling your own dps and positioning are more important than they are in a straight-up nuke/get out of the bad style instance. For example, on some trash packs, the mobs explode upon death and it can’t be avoided by stuns. Because of this, you don’t just burn them all down ASAP, you stagger their deaths so the damage is healable. It will also require a much more aggressive pace than we have been taking to take full advantage of the bonus-damage buffs in the place. I think we can certainly do it. Of the 3 major guides I based my strategies off of, none of them rank Siege (or SSB, for that matter) as being as hard as Scarlet Monastery. I’m pretty sure we can do it, I’m only concerned about time. Mogu’Shan and Siege are both fairly lengthy instances, so minimizing mistakes and/or the damage they cause will be critical.

On the plus side, I’ve made a few discoveries and refinements that should, once again, help to speed up and improve our runs. Did you know that any member of a 5-man party can mark targets with the raid markers or ground markers? After spending the last few weeks wishing there were some way to allow two folks to do this, I was embarrassed (but pleased) to discover that the leader/assist restriction only applies to raids. I’ve only been playing for what – 6 years, now? I guess there’s always more to learn. This should allow me to assist Askevar with target marking, but more importantly, it should also make explaining invisibility runs, stacking points, etc. much easier. I’ve also made a few changes to my HealBot/UI that should make debuffs easier to see, markers easier to apply,  and allow me to spend more time watching the environment instead of health bars. Ven’s request for a bio break turned out so well last week that I’m just going to put it out there for everyone. If you’re feeling frazzled, just ask for 5 minutes and we’ll all step AFK to collect ourselves, no questions asked and no hard feelings. Finally, since these last few have so many technical issues with placement, I’m going to give a rundown before we start with reminders as we go, and we’ll push forward no matter how poorly we are doing so that we can all at least see the expected strategy play out once until the end. Hopefully this well help prevent, or at least alleviate, late-run issues that require a reset.

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