Zul’Aman: 3.0.2 Version (no, there is no Bear)

21 10 2008

  Saturday, on the spur of the moment, we coordinated a Zul’Aman run to try the place out in the brave new 3.0.2 world. ZA is a place that I was very familiar with; prior to the baby, and my subsequent shift to working nights, I tanked the place twice a week. Enough people from the guild had rotated through these raids that the majority of us had a good working knowledge of the instance. The core group of people (and I would include myself and my wife in this group) had been on enough runs that we needed no explanation of any of the fights, having seen each (but Zul’Jin) at least a dozen times. So, we were able to piece together a pretty experienced group for this run. If memory serves:

  • Protection Paladin MT
  • Protection Warrior OT
  • Retribution Paladin
  • Elemental Shaman (Ness)
  • 2 Beast Mastery Hunters
  • Affliction Warlock
  • Shadow Priest
  • Restoration Druid
  • Restoration Shaman (me)

  With the exception of the Warlock, we’d all been here before. Prior to 3.0.2, we were consistently able to get to Malacrass every run, but had a lot of difficulty downing him. The animal bosses, though, were completely on farm. In terms of chests, we’d been able to get 2 with some consistency. If we’d reached the third one between my move to nights and this run, I was not aware of it. Obviously, we’d never reached the bear mount. Fortunately, as this raid was compromised largely of experienced players, I could rest assured that it would be a smooth operation.

  I was kind of amused beforehand when our Raid Leader, the Ret Pally, whispered me to ask if I thought that Manchego was capable of handling the load with just 2 healers. Now, I knew that the Druid I’d be working with was very well-geared, but more importantly was played by one of the better players in our guild. Still, I’d done Kara a few times without a hiccup before with just a pair of healers, including Nightbane and Prince, and I’d improved her gear since then. I told him that I thought I’d be ok; inside, I’ll confess to some butterflies. I usually get that way when I’m doing something that may be pushing content for a given character. Turns out, I should save my butterflies for Mount Hyjal.

  We went with the usual Eagle – Bear – Dragonhawk – Lynx order. Right away, on the runup to the Eagle, you could see the difference. Before the patch, this would have been a time of some anticipation. The amount of heat on the forward Paladin tank is usually a cause for concern. This time? He probably could have run right up to the Tempest, too. There wasn’t even a scary moment. On Akil’zon himself, the Shadow Priest died when he was a little bit late on the run-in for a lightning storm. Right away the Druid battle rezzed him – and before either of us could get off a heal on him (we were both spooling one, as it turns out) – he got whacked again by a bird. Unfortunate, but we dropped Akil’zon all the same. On to Nalorakk.

  Once again, the trash on the run-up was nearly trivial. Even the mounted bears, who had wiped us before at times when a tank had some unlucky spikes, were nothing. I was concerned about Nalorakk himself, as we’d had some real touch-and-go times with him and his bleeds before. HoTs are a wonderful thing, though. Between those, and the reduced damage from the nerf, he was gravy. I think he shifted to his bear form twice, that’s it. Two down, and plenty of time left on the clock.

  One of the first things that you notice about the Jan’alai trash is how weak the sentries are. Yes, they were always weak… but now, they’re REALLY weak, down in just a few hits with no shot of getting to those damn drums. The second thing that I noticed was the Flamecasters. Before, they had some serious power. If one broke mind control, he had the ability to incapacitate a raid in a hurry. Now? Laugh it off and murder ’em. Smooth pulls all of the way to Jan’alai.

  When we actually engaged him, we made a crucial error right away – and one that would have proven fatal in the old days. ‘Me hatchas’ got to work on some eggs, alright. We forgot to mark one for death and they got into both sides. The poor Pally was over on one side already, no shot at picking up the few that hatched before we could rectify our mistake. Right away, I drop a heal on the tank and see one of the new 3.0.2 animations – “Attacking You!”. Oops. Half a dozen Dragonhawks now headed my way, lovely. Fortunately, since I’ve spent most of my career tanking, I knew what to do – run to the tank. The conga line of hawks was polite enough to follow suit, and as soon as they got into the consecrate, felt more inclined to pay attention to the Pally than me. Victory! Things were mostly smooth after that, Ness got blown up in a bomb (I lol’d, too) and had to ankh – but other than that, fine. Lucky me, Jan’alai dropped that (previously) Healing Shield of his, the Enamelled Disc of Mojo. Finally, a replacement for my ugly old Crystal Pulse Shield!

  A slight goof on the way to Halazzi meant that we wouldn’t get a chance to see what chest #4 held (if it wasn’t a bear, then what?) when someone – or someones pet – aggroed as we were trying to get through the hut windows on the Halazzi shortcut. Half-a-wipe later (I lived!), we regrouped and merrily beat through the trash to Halazzi. I’ll confess, it’s scarcely even challenging anymore. Our Raid Leader actually laughed on vent when we got to him – he has something like 451,000 hp now. He went down so fast, I’m pretty sure that there was at least one merge phase that he didn’t have time to do his saberlash mechanic before he split again. With him in the bag, on to the chests!

  We had three of them to go back and loot, courtesy of our run time. In all honesty, I have a hard time believing how any group with previous ZA experience wouldn’t be nailing these three every time through now. The first chest – Cloak of Fiends. Minor cursing from me, I’d wanted this badly for Ribby’s Cat set and never got it. Second chest – Tuskbreaker. Again, minor grumbling as I’d love to get this monstrosity for Toro (cows with guns, baby). Same Hunter gets ’em both. Third chest, the first time that I know of for MiM to bag this one – and it’s the Signet of the Quiet Forest. Lucky me, I win the roll on it and now I’ve got a BT-level healing ring!

  Malacrass run-up was nothing special, but this guy – man, I hate Malacrass. we decided to shackle one add, perma-banish another and burn two adds as fast as we could before moving on to the shackle and then the Hex Lord. I requested concentration aura beforehand (yes, I know the new pushback rules) and no consecrates once we’re on him, so as to avoid confusion. Anyhow, given how tough he’s been in the past, we kick it off fully expecting to take a try or two. First two adds go down in a heap, shackle drops right after the first round of Spirit Bolts. Now, it’s fun time. I’m Chain Healing my butt off to try and stay on top of everyone, and by the time he hits Spirit Bolt volley #3, I’m getting concerned. health bars are getting tougher to top off, but we haven’t lost anyone yet. I’m thinking to myself, “man, we need to get this guy down fast, he’s starting to hit hard” – but I don’t have time to mouse over him and check his health bar to know where we’re at. I’m thinking he’s probably around 25% or so, and I’m gearing up to defend against one more round of the Bolts – and he drops. Staff of Primal Fury – still never got this for Ribby – goes to the Druid, Prowler’s Strikeblade to the same Hunter that got the chest items. If only we had a Rogue…

  Past the trash pull when you open the doors, and it’s the big guy – Zul’jin. As a guild, we’ve never downed him (though, I can remember about 10 tries on a Saturday that saw us get as far as Lynx a few times.) Quickie description of the fight to everyone, and we take him on. First phase, I’m mostly looking out for Grevious Throws to keep people topped off. Nobody dies, on to Bear. We all hug the butt (except the tank), and immediately, problems with Creeping Paralysis. Heal through the first round, and bare seconds after the second one hits – Eagle phase. Horrible timing, as we all start the phase off at half health. In case you don’t know, anyone who casts a spell during this phase takes damage – but we had to suck it up and get everyone healthy to survive those whirlwinds. I was apprehensive at first about this, but soon noticed that my heals weren’t damaging me as much as I’d thought that they would. The phase ended a lot faster than expected, and then it was the Lynx. Before 3.0.2, we had not been able to heal through his rapid-fire attack / debuff. I’d heard that it’s a good idea to have everyone form a tight circle around him though, and so we did – and it worked! Healing through everything via Chain Heal was a lot easier than I remembered it ever being, this phase went very quickly and on to Dragonhawk. Nobody had any idea what to expect here, none of us had ever seen it before. Basically, DPS just went bananas and blew every cooldown – and we folded Zul’jin for our first ZA completion! Admittedly, It doesn’t have the same feel as it would have before the patch – but it still feels damn good. I know, as someone who threw myself into that place twice a week and ultimately met with futility for several months, I was smiling from ear to ear over the vindication of finally clearing the place – and I could tell from the voices over vent that sense of relief and accomplishment was shared by nearly everyone else there. Even better, he dropped a pair of chestpieces, the plate tank piece and – *gasp* – the healing Shaman one! Fortunately for me, the other Shaman was my wife, and she has the T4 piece off Mags – so I got that too! Hell of a haul for my first ZA clear, and it left me with precisely 60 badges – enough to get Anveena’s Touch and really pump up my ring slot. In one run, I’d managed to address what were my three worst slots – rings and shield – and top it all off with a chest that’s just under Hyjal.

  After that run, I’m over 1000 unbuffed Spellpower on Manchego, and enough spell haste to cut more than 10% off my cast times. Add in a few totems, drums, and a Ret Paladin, and I can blow out some fast healing in raids now! Heck of a nice feeling.

  My conclusion on 3.0.2 Zul’Aman? If you have any idea what you’re doing, and how the fights go, this is a great run. Solid gear pieces, runnable twice a week for 15 badges in about 2 hours’ time or less. I think that the difficulty for the place is about on par with what Karazhan used to be before the patch. In other words, just about any competent and knowledgeable group should be able to slaughter it easily. If you were at all hung up on this instance before, give it another look. I think that you’ll be pleased with the results, and the drops will easily allow a guild to get over that mid-level raiding hump and into places like Hyjal, or make Serpentshrine Cavern and Tempest Keep that much easier to master.




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