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Raiding Outside the Box: Siegecrafter - A Lesson in Patterns

Article originally posted on Manaflask

As mentioned in the previous article, I will address Siegecrafter Blackfuse in this installment, focusing on how we worked out which weapon would be overcharged. And ermm, by ‘me’ doing this I actually mean predominantly Aneyza (sharing is caring, right?) with a couple of additions from me. So here goes…

As discussed by Tyvi previously, pattern recognition is one of the most important skills for raiding and raid leading, especially when faced with an environment which you and your raid members enter blindly; you must be able to properly match events with their trigger(s). In the (g)olden days this was quite an interesting process, as we did not have a fancy-pants Dungeon Journal speeding up this quest of acquiring knowledge and attire!


Good old days

Or, as Mystara (mage) puts it, even in early Cata it was often a stab in the dark:

“Honestly I find it quite surprising how on earth we ever did it in the first tier of raids in Cata [and before] without the journal, I think we used to look up abilities on wowhead or just go in blind until the boss mod flashed up with all the bars...”

Right, so, once we have read through the journal, we discuss our findings via Ventrilo and raid chat, linking abilities where necessary. This might be really quick or take a bit of time before, depending on the encounter and what we have done before: is it the first raid boss in a new tier (and is it thus likely to be less taxing)? Is it a heroic boss that has very little changes from normal (e.g. Galakras, Nazgrim)? Or is it a mind boggling heroic boss with a lot of permutations and options, which brings me back to Siegecrafter.


The Known (Un)known

Going into the encounter, we already knew several things:

  • The mechanics of normal mode, including weapon order on the belts (thanks to Smaj’s ‘meticulous’ belt hoping)
  • One weapon per belt would overcharge; Dungeon Journal gave us some insight as to what that weapon would do
  • Nearly doubled healthpool!


Belt order: killing mines and overcharges

After the first couple of tries, we quickly established that sending one player up per belt was not an option (pre 10man weapon belt ‘nerf’), so we decided to stick to the normal weapon priority, thus killing mines when possible. As soon as we managed to get the first two belts sorted, a few things became clear: killing mines twice in a row resulted in different weapons being overcharged. The first wave would cause the missiles to overcharge, the second the laser. This lead to a discussion on our forum, with an excerpt below:


 

Priority List (with exclusion!)

Out of all the possibilities, a priority list with exclusion (PLE) was a (or the favourite!) contender due to its nature, combined with the belt order, allowing great flexibility depending on a groups’ preference, while still maintaining a sufficient pressure for overcharge diversity.

We immediately jumped on this idea and started fleshing out some possibilities. Having four weapons, the amount of combinations within the PLE was limited and workable. Using this as a basis and combining it with the knowledge that killing mines twice on the first two waves, we deduced that ‘Missiles’ would be of a higher priority than the ‘Laser’. This meant that we could quickly cut out all the cases in which ‘Laser’ came before ‘Missiles’ (red in the image below).


PLE permutations and reduction theory

With the options halved, Aneyza made a quick comparison for the chance of each weapon appearing on each position of the PLE.


Probability matrix

This in turn gave us some ideas as to what we could likely expect from the PLE. Before going into the second night of attempts, a little cheat sheet was created to determine what we want to try out further and how to go about it.


Executing under same conditions and expecting different results

Due to still learning the encounter, we were limited to information about the first couple of waves. Luckily, we were able to get the data rather quickly, as killing the Laser on the first belt (and having Mines overcharge) drastically reduced the possibilities down to four:


Nearly there…

Only resolving the Magnet’s priority was left, which could also be done by the third belt, resulting in our final priority list: Magnet – Mines – Missiles – Laser.  Now ‘all’ that was left was a ‘tiny’ bit of tweaking on the rotation.


Are we there yet?

After some initial tries on Siegecrafter in February, we took a bit of a ‘break’ and decided to poke Thok a bit more. We changed the weapon we would cause to overcharge a couple of times: red denotes weapon to kill, green being overcharged and black the normal weapon remaining (on most images). However, standardised layouts are not our forte, particularly as they are created by several raiders; one proposition initially included white font, as apparently white on white makes it easy to read… NOT (must be a priest thing!).



Strategy changes

By this point (probably around the 90-100 pull mark) it was more about execution than strategy, with just silly (and occasionally hilarious) mistakes preventing a kill: The usual (boring) suspects were getting caught by fire or falling off the belt/platform… the more creative ones included running to a belt pipe and jumping NEXT to it into the abyss or purposefully killing each other with shredder blades…

The main platform did not impact as much on our strategy, although we did cover most of the area at one point or another during our numerous attempts and tried different overcharged weapons. We ended up with Siegecrafter being tanked towards the entrance pipes (in the overcharged laser gap) for the majority of the fight, with the main add close to the mine spawn point at the other (non-active) conveyor belt). In Tyvi’s (DK) words:

“From a tank PoV Aneyza and me just had coordinate who takes how many adds in a row (and accordingly how many debuff stacks). Since I am way cooler than Aneyza and do more DPS while being able to snare and control the adds better, we decided to go with a rotation of 2 adds for me and 1 for him, repeat.
I guess one of the biggest challenges with adds was actually getting everyone to stand in a line from mine spawn point to the boss so the mines stayed together for efficient cleave/AoE. Well that, and not having frost traps too close to mines because they would clear my snare and make them run at full speed once they left the ice. :VBesides that, it was splitting Runes for Shredder DPS to kill it before the 4th Overload (which failed on the first mine due to having to split attention too much between shredder and mines) and well, keeping the mines snared.”

Healing wise, our paladin remained between Siegecrafter and the main add, whilst our priest stayed towards the centre and active belt, with no actual CD assignment (tut tut!).  I think we clocked up around 130ish pulls prior to the first kill, and no, under no circumstance did my (Smaj’s) equipped Time-Lost Artifact (instead of a proper trinket) have anything to do with a delayed kill, regardless of what others may claim!


Finally…


(Tyvi’s PoV)


(Anezya’s Pov)

I hope that you enjoyed reading about how we deconstructed the belt mechanics, and did not get mine’d and missile’d out, with the lists becoming engraved in your head like a mantra! Big thanks to Aneyza for writing a huge chunk of this, to Atermors for proofreading at far too short a notice as usual, and of course the rest of the raiders for all their input – and yes, that is as much gratitude you get for many months to come!