Monday, February 18, 2008
So you’ve never been to Karazhan before.
Don’t feel bad. I’m sure there are plenty of other people who have never done the first major raid instance in World of Warcraft’s The Burning Crusade expansion. It’s natural to be anxious your first time, but I’m here to relieve that anxiety by showing you precisely what you can expect. Not only will I provide strategy guides for bosses, I’ll show you which direction to go to reach the boss and what you can expect things to look like along the way. At the same time, I’m going to assume you have a basic working knowledge of game mechanics and terminology. If you don’t know what “aggro” or “mob” mean, get thee to a wowwiki!
When I say everything, I only mean everything you can expect when you first step into Medivh’s Haunted Tower Fun Ride. It’s up to you to get keyed (there’s a nice guide here) and get into a guild that is running Karazhan, or at the very least gather 9 other people together. Remember, at least two of them need to be healers and one of them needs to be a dedicated “main tank”, meaning a protection-specced warrior or paladin or a feral druid (here comes the hate mail…). I’m sorry, but those PvP arms warriors in your guild or that ret paladin who ends every sentence in guild chat with “lmao” are not going to cut it for main tanking. They will make perfectly fine offtanks, though. Most trash and many bosses require a secondary tank; that tank need not be as strong as your main tank.
When gathering your nine partners-in-crime, keep in mind that most of the foes you will face in Karazhan are classified as "undead". This means that, on most trash pulls, your typical mainstays of instance crowd control - mage’s polymorph, rogue’s sap, and warlock’s seduce and fear – will not work. What long-term CC will work? The priest’s shackle undead, the hunter’s freezing trap, and the paladin’s “turn undead”, which doesn’t actually turn the target undead, but instead fears them, which I guess technically makes them “turn” away (in patch 2.4, this will be changed into an incapacitate effect that also works on demons). So, you’re going to find the instance easier if you have some priests, hunters, and paladins with you, but keep in mind this is by no means a requirement.
Also desirable, but not required: consumables. This includes potions, buff food, weapon oils, sharpening stones, elixirs, and flasks. You can find a useful list here. Some players swear by consumables and would never raid without self-buffing to the max. Other players complain that these items are too expensive and too annoying to replenish (especially when wiping repeatedly) and would rather do without. It is up to you, your guild, and your raid group what you should do. The bottom line is: consumables will help you win. It will take you longer to beat a boss and clear a dungeon without potions and elixirs. Often, one mana potion or agility elixir will be the difference between a wipe and a photo of your raid dancing naked on the boss’s corpse, so think very carefully about the pros and cons of your decision.
The final aspect you’ll need to consider before heading over to Karazhan is, of course, your gear (this one is required. Unless you’re really into role-playing a naked corpse. You creepy freak.).
Every class forum on the official World of Warcraft site holds piles of threads asking “Am I ready for Kara?” You will not be posting one of those! Instead, you will follow my handy-dandy guide of what today’s discerning raiders are wearing to the most popular ghosts-in-a-tower party of the year!
There has been lots of discussion about optimal stats and gear for raiding. But, in reality, figuring out if you’re prepared for Kara is actually super easy, almost no matter what class you are. Stop worrying so much and just answer the following questions:
1. Your character has 15-16 slots on the character sheet for gear. Are at least 13 of those slots filled with at least blue-quality items from level 70 dungeons (some of these may be blue items from level 70 PvP honor rewards)?
2. Are the other slots (if any) filled with at least blues from midlevel Outlands dungeons or greens that can only be equipped at level 68 or higher?
3. Are most of your level 70 blues appropriately enchanted and all of them fully gemmed (green gems are fine)?
4. Is all of your gear appropriate to your role? (For instance, if you are a melee dps shaman, you better not be wearing +healing pants, nor should you have +agility and +attack power on your druid’s spell damage gear.)
If you answered “yes” to all of these questions, then you are ready to step into Karazhan. Please note that this is a general minimum to start, not clear, KZ. To beat the later bosses you will need to have upgraded your gear with epics from previous bosses, perhaps supplemented with heroic or PvP epics. It is also beneficial to max out your crafting profession(s). Clearing the instance is much easier if you’ve crafted your epic tailoring set, or your epic blacksmithing weapon, or your epic engineering goggles (which surpass the tier 4 level loot that drops in KZ).
The exception to this rule is the main tank. If a rogue has low stats and poor gear it may prolong the fight an extra minute, but if the main tank has inadequate gear, the group wipes. Therefore, the tank needs to reach certain milestones in order to lead your group into the Tower of Purplez. Every main tank should have over 10,000 HP (preferably more like 12,000). Prot warriors will need 490 defense (note this is actual defense skill, not defense rating) to become as close to uncrittable as possible, while prot paladins will want to aim to reach 102.7% total avoidance (dodge, parry, block, etc.) with holy shield up in order to avoid getting nailed by burst damage. Tanking druids should have the full three points in the talent “survival of the fittest”, which will reduce their chance to be crit by 3%, meaning they only need 415 defense skill (or, alternatively, 103 resilience rating) to become nigh-uncrittable. Once the tank has reached these milestones, she should just start focusing on stacking stamina and armor. For more detailed information on tanking requirements, I’d recommend browsing the WoW forums or the Elitist Jerks class discussion forum.
Finally, you will need addons, which are files that you can download and put in your WoW folder that will modify your user interface in ways not available by default. No matter what your class, there are two addons you will absolutely NEED: a threat meter - either KLH or Omen - and a boss warning mod such as BigWigs. A threat meterwill put a small window up on your screen that will present a real-time readout of roughly what your threat level is on a boss. You will want to keep an eye on this to make sure your name doesn’t go above the main tank’s name. If you are getting close, stop DPSing (this means YOU) or healing if at all possible so you don’t pull aggro. Meanwhile, boss warning mods like BigWigs will put warnings and timers up on your screen to help you keep up with what a boss is doing or is about to do. At least install these two; it is up to you and your group if any further addons will be necessary.
This may seem like a lot of preparation, but it’s going to pay dividends when you finally zone into KZ for the first time.
NEXT TIME: Why bunching up against a horse’s ass is a good idea. (hint: bring noseplugs!)