Lightsworn: A tanking review of Blackrock Foundry
With patch 6.2 likely next week we’ll soon be vacating one giant orc fortress to go raid another giant orc fortress. This is a good time to take a look back at the raid that will soon be visited only by characters gearing in lower LFRs and raiders under the whims of sadistic guild leaders.
Blackrock Foundry, all in all, was a decent raid. That probably the best adjective I can really apply to it. Adequate would also work. There were some very creative boss fights, both in terms of general encounter mechanics and specific tank mechanics — and there were some very forgettable encounters. In this post I’m going to take a look at some of the more stand-out encounters in Blackrock Foundry and what made them so great (or so painfully terrible) to tank.
As for 6.2, I should note that while there are no Protection Paladin-specific changes in that patch, my colleague Dan Desmond has some good information about what to expect in the new patch content, including a look at our special class trinket.
I imagine that one of the bullet points on the PPT slide that summarized this fight during an encounter design meeting was “keep tank taunts on cooldown 100% of the time.” While this fight was pretty simple (there’s a reason this was the first Blackrock Foundry kill for many raids), it did an excellent job testing the group’s tanks. As mentioned, taunting is constant so that Inferno Slice is properly managed. If a soaking tank is bad at timing the taunt, or if the active tank is slow at yanking back Gruul’s attention, they can splash the soaking DPS/healers with Overwhelming Blows and get someone killed.
It’s an effective test of the tank’s reflexes and their ability to coordinate with one another. I can imagine we’ll see more of that in the future, where tanks need to pass an objective back and forth with minute precision to avoid extra raid damage.
This is one of my favorite fights in the raid, for two reasons. First, I really enjoy the interspersed “lightning rounds” where the boss rolls around the room. I always made a point of running off by myself to handle boxes in a different part of the room from the rest of the raid because I could heal away any raid-wide damage I got hit with, and recover quickly if I happened to be run over. I really enjoyed the idea of breaking away from the raid and “going commando” off on my own, taking care of a raid objective without outside assistance (though only briefly).
Secondly, the tanking mechanic that is the absolute standout in the entire raid for me is Oregorger’s Acid Torrent ability. Blizzard may have taken away our raid cooldowns and the tanking joy that came from using those, but at least in this encounter we get one last taste of that feeling.
This is something that I hope the encounter design team replicates in the future, a mechanic that determines how much damage other members of the raid take based on the performance of the tank. It’s an area of active mitigation that hasn’t been explored much in raids yet; the system is so focused on using tank abilities to reduce tank damage and yet there’s an interesting angle that is completely unexplored in using tank abilities to reduce raid damage. There definitely needs to be more use of this concept going forward.
You know what mechanic I hope we don’t see more of in the future? Adds that spawn and aren’t worth attacking, then one of them randomly decides it needs to be tanked, giving you a small window of time to react to that sudden change. I cannot tell you how frustrating the Cinder Wolves could be for me in this fight. Both would jump out of the fire, stand still for a few moments, and then one would run off to eat a healer while the other would fixate on a random person at ranged.
The tank that was going to handle the wolf first was charged with quickly identifying which wolf was Overheated, hitting it with a ranged attack/taunting it, and then bringing it into melee in the right spot at the right angle. This was before (1) it got out of range from the tank and (2) enough time elapsed that it would breathe fire on the wrong people. The timing could be tight sometimes and that would make for a very stressful few split seconds.
Unfortunately, this was pretty much the only mechanic that a tank had to actually think of during this encounter. The rest of the fight involved not standing in flame trails if they were poorly positioned, maybe moving closer to a ranged as they ran in a meteor, and then an exceptionally boring debuff swap after the collapse phase. The fight as a whole was boring as hell, and the only benefit the wolves brought to the table was the benefit of keeping the tanks away.
I don’t have much to say about the tanking on this fight — this was pretty much the consummate add fight and not much of it was new.
I will make a special note, though, of the Security Guards’ Defense ability. (Would it be too much to ask for this as our new max-level ability in the next expansion?) This was a good example of something we don’t see often where adds force repositions for the tank but not the DPS. Usually adds compel movement by dropping a puddle of bad on the floor and everyone has to move or else they will die. With Defense, only the adds need to be moved and the problem is resolved. On the flip side, sometimes it was finicky to tell if an add was far enough away from the ability or not and I wish there were better, immediate visual feedback of whether you were in the right spot than looking for a debuff on the target frame or tiny damage numbers in your floating combat text.
This last boss that I’m going to talk about is the one I had the most fun killing week after week. This encounter was my favorite primarily because it used an encounter trope we don’t see often: the giant, stationary boss.
It’s a nice break to not have to worry about the positioning of a boss relative to the raid and just to focus on your own movement. Indeed, there was a lot of movement to be had. You had to dodge out of Reverberations, flee far enough away from Slam to minimize damage, and position properly for Rune of Grasping Earth. All the while you don’t have to care about where the rest of the raid is standing because their placement is not dependent on your placement of the boss. In that way, this encounter was like a tanking vacation.
What makes this fight most special to me is the unique spin on it that I could enjoy as a Paladin. For all but one of the Thundering Blows phases I would completely skip being grabbed by a hand and just use Divine Shield or Hand of Protection on myself to avoid the damage of the fall, in addition to most of the raid-wide damage. The encounter design team has been careful for the last two expansions to whittle down how many mechanics we can skip with immunity effects, and I’m really glad they left this one alone. It is truly wondrous to behold, after that first Thundering Blows, when all the raid’s Paladins are launched up in the air and then fall back to earth, shining in their luminescent parachutes.
With that said, I turn it to you all: What were your own favorite tanking mechanics or moments in BRF’s encounters? What bosses were great and which were total flops? What mechanics do you hope to see again in future raids and which ones do you hope never to encounter again?
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