We are nearing the top 10 in Blackrock Foundry Mythic and to get an even better overview of this eventful raid we caught up with second place finishers Paragon, specifically their GM Seita. After their No.1 in Highmaul, many expected them to clean up in Foundry as well, but Method grabbed the gold away from them, so let's see how exactly that happened.
As mentioned in the Method interview, the drama of this tier was about account sharing to stack certain classes, despite the fact that this practice has been going on in races since basically Burning Crusade. We also asked Paragon a question or two on the topic but the guild declined to answer.
Congratulations on finishing the race in a commanding 2nd spot, 6 days ahead of the third place guild. You have a reputation of only being content with a No.1 placement, is this still true today or are you pleased with your performance in BRF?
First of all I would like to congratulate Method for beating us in Blackrock Foundry fair and square, their dps comp on Blackhand looked really beautiful and gave us the idea to bring some of the classes for our kill also. That being said I cannot be happy with our performance as our main goal is to get the world first, any other result is considered a failure.
Considering your win in Highmaul and many people assuming you were back on top for good, did it affect your performance in BRF, whether in terms of pressure or expectations from your fans, or even yourselves?
Getting the world first in Highmaul didn't cause any extra pressure for us to perform as well in Blackrock Foundry. If anything1 it showed our new members that we can compete at the highest level and that the time we put in was worth it.
Do you view Tier 17 as a single race with Blackhand at the end or would you say Highmaul and BRD are separate, basically making it 1-1 between you and Method?
I consider BRF and Highmaul as separate instances but BRF was a lot better and harder instance, so I wouldn't say that we are even now as BRF was the more significant of the two instances.
Did you do anything differently in BRF than in Highmaul?
For BRF we had time to gear up some alts which we could use in progress, this wasn't the case in Highmaul as it was the first instance of the expansion, for both instances we had 5 heroic groups to gear up the mains. When Mythic progress began we didn't do anything significantly different, for BRF we acknowledged from the start that the race will most likely last 'till the second reset so we kept that in mind. The progress race is more like a marathon than a sprint, we don't really care about getting good world ranks on the earlier bosses if we can minimize the gear waste by doing heroics first.
The top guilds differed on their approach to Iron Maidens and Blast Furnace, and you seemed to be ahead of Method on Maidens, how exactly did you tackle them?
After around 40 tries on Blast Furnace we moved on to Iron Maidens, it didn't take us too long to find the strat we ended up using for the kill. They hotfixed our strat a bit but we managed to find a work-around to kill the boss using about the same strategy with some modifications.
What did you think about the difficulty curve of the raid and the bosses in general?
I think the difficulty curve from start to finish was good in this instance. You start with 4 bosses which have completely different mechanics and challenge the raid in different ways. Guilds can freely choose in which order they want to kill them, even though we breezed through them I can still appreciate good design on the bosses here.
Flamebender was only about bursting the wolves which made the fight too simple compared to the other fights in my opinion, this fight could have used some refreshing new mechanics. Same goes for Kromog, the mechanics of the fight didn't really challenge the raid: kill grasps, kill stones, huge unavoidable raid damage, boring.
Then we move on to Operator Thogar which was a great fight in my opinion, the fight was all about beating the mechanics of the encounter and not so much about beating the timer. A really good gatekeeper for the three harder bosses of the instance which require a lot more from the raid than the first seven.
I don't think Iron Maidens was designed to just keep one guy with "Sorka's Prey" so you can control 100% where the whirls spawn and to keep one guy with "Marak's Bloodcalling" so most of the raid can freely use 80% of the area and ignore the "P1" mechanics. This fight seemed really intimidating on the beta to the point where I thought the fight would be impossible. They changed some of the timings for live and nerfed the fight all-round. For how guilds do this fight it ended up being ~ok. In the end it became too much about the execute damage and absorbs.
Blast Furnace is an interesting fight, phase 1 offers a lot of possibilities for the raid on how to handle all of the adds so you have to consider between CC, kite and aoe strats, and on top of that you have to decide how to divide the raid and what your priorities are. Phase 1 is also different from other fights we have seen in the past and has direct implications all the way to phases 2 and 3. I really liked the way they left the options open for the guilds to decide on how to handle everything involved in the fight.
Blackhand was a decent fight but in P1 and P3 it was more about fighting against the timer and the encounter didn't offer much room for strategic diversity other than stacking classes that were strong in the first 110 seconds of the fight or the last 35%. Phase 2 ended up being the best phase of the fight as it was possible to do the phase in so many different ways.
Where would you place Blackrock Foundry Mythic as a whole in WoW's raid pantheon?
Overall I think this is one of the better instances so far. Blackhand was a bit of a letdown if compared to some of the better end bosses in my opinion. Blackhand didn't offer much room to play around in P1 or P3, it was more about fighting against the timer, classes and gear in the end. Even though I really liked the way P2 challenged the raid and offered different possibilities.
Balance Druids seemed to be very much in demand on several bosses, even completely trivializing a few of them and it seems class stacking played a significant role in this raid, especially compared to Highmaul. Is this something that is even solveable by Blizzard or is it always going to be a factor in races? What are your thoughts on the matter in general and for BRF specifically?
We used the same comp for almost all of the first 9 bosses, for Thogar we took in another DK for aoe grip and for Blast Furnace we took another Pala healer. For Blackhand we had to make some more drastic changes as there were no other options available to outplay the encounter. Class stacking is part of the game at the highest level of play and you should have all of the "gimmicks" ready to go in decent enough gear to bring to the encounters if needed. I think it is good for the game that all the classes aren't exactly the same and have different strengths. At the moment some of the gimmicks the classes have are extremely strong and can really change the way an encounter can be played. If strong gimmicks make key mechanics of an encounter significantly easier it is a problem in my opinion.
What exactly happened on Blackhand, were there some specific problems you had to deal with?
Most of our problems stemmed from the poor choice in strategy for P1 in the beginning, our P1 strat was getting us to P2 but it was just too unreliable and we couldn't figure out the proper way to do P1 until it was already too late. So we started to figure out strats for P2 and P3 when our real problem was still our unreliable P1 which we couldn't solve for some reason. The solution in the end was the simplest and "most obvious" strategy, we just missed it which is a big failure on our part. In this fight you need to beat P1 without Bloodlust (depending on comp and gear) which we couldn't do on the second reset (a well geared 3rd hunter instead of a warrior could have done the trick here). In the end we had solid P1,P2 and P3 strategies, we just couldn't get past P1 without using Bloodlust which made P3 really difficult for us.
I still have faith in our P2 strategy and think that it is incredibly good and solid, we just couldn't get there enough with everyone alive to figure out that Bloodlust in P3 is crucial. Therefore we didn't have the information we needed in the second reset to make P1 dps our number one priority.
P3 was doable without Bloodlust in our gear and the 0.1% wipe proves that, it was just really hard to stay alive long enough. For reference our 0.1% P3 lasted 170 seconds and on our kill with Bloodlust (and extra gear) we killed the boss in 135 seconds into P3, that extra 35 seconds makes a huge difference as the fight gets harder and harder the longer you stay in P3.
What changes did you make in terms of classes for Blackhand and why?
You want to have 3 hunters so you can use a fox for each of the demolitions which increase the raid dps. For the third reset we added an extra hunter instead of a warrior, the hunter ended up being better for all of the phases.
You want to have 3 rogues for P3 to soak the Smashes, we added a third rogue instead of a warrior during the second reset. Rogues also did better damage in P1.
You want to have at least 2 moonkins to clear the balconies, in our strategy 2 was all we needed but adding more could have added more flexibility when we were learning P2. That was something we considered but wasn't necessary in the end.
Restoration shaman also ended up performing extremely well in both of the healing intensive phases for Blackhand so we took in a shaman during the second reset.
How close to a kill were you when Method downed it?
After Method killed the boss we instantly called the raid for the day, we weren't even close to a kill at that point and if I remember correctly our best try was around 16% at the time. Our performance was not at the level we can play the game at, so there was no point in grinding the boss while we had just lost the kill and everyone was feeling down. We did go easier on raiding times after that as some the members wanted to return to their normal schedule.
You had several under 1% tries as well as at least one on 0.1% aka 300k health before the kill. Exactly how demoralizing is it to get that close that many times and then have to re-clear the entire instance as well?
It would have been nice to have gotten the kill that week but we knew that as soon as we get to the boss on Wednesday with some modifications to our comp so we can get Bloodlust for P3, the boss would die within a couple of pulls.
How exactly does your roster stack up to other top end guilds and Method's specifically, just in terms of sheer numbers and how important do you think that is overall and for BRF specifically?
I don't think you need more than 20-22 players to compete at the highest level. It is a lot easier to manage a smaller roster when everyone knows they have a spot in the raid. Of course that has some downsides too, the lack of competition for raid spots inside the guild or if something unexpected comes up it is harder to find replacements.
Will you be recruiting more players for the next tier?
We are always looking for exceptionally good Finnish players who can put in the hours during progress.