The first wing is called the Grand Reception – I like how Azshara manifests her realm to be as posh as possible :)
Trash seemed to me Antorus-like. Mobs are quite fat, dense, preparing you for the boss to come, and yet not that tedious to fight with. The overall environment waves away all the elven legacy – this is no sunken kingdom, this is pure naga architecture, and gorgeous as that. The raid is spacious, and despite all the underwater vibe I didn’t feel claustrophobic (as I did in Vash’jir).
Lorewise, we break through the defense of a fierce gate guardian Sivara, and then proceed onwards. The next two bosses’ areas need to be cleared of abominations so that we could secure the sources of energy and break Lady Ashvane’s magical shield. Let’s do that!
Commander Sivara splashes all the raid with either Frost or Toxic mark right on spot, and the rest of the encounter revolves around that. Not coming in contact with players of other color (or doing that deliberately to drop stacks), dealing with projectiles, melees stacking around tanks, leaving pools of bad – this all is dictated by the color you got.
In LFR it’s basically tank swaps around 4-6 stacks and splitting the raid into right and left halves by color code. There are no phases, so the encounter is pretty straightforward tank-and-spank. And while she’s being the first boss, all the mechanics are quite forgiving unless differently colored people keep running into each other (none actually do). I think she could have been excellent in the middle of the raid too – this idea is actually quite cool and deserves more challenge, but oh well. First boss is first boss.
Blackwater Behemoth is an amazing encounter. It can be effectively doubled as IQ check. The mechanics are very simple, but brutally punishing if not executed. The best thing is that it always punishes exactly the brain challenged or lazy player, not the whole raid :)
The first IQ check is tapping an oxygen thingie once you enter the water passage to the boss – this will provide endless underwater breathing and quick swimming (as fast as an underwater mount). Easy as it may be, but I’ve observed many players dying to lack of breath cause :)
The second thing is the major boss mechanics. “Deep waters” – the area where we fight the boss – is a fathomless abyss which prevents all healing to players. To counter that, we need to kill an idle pufferfish and bathe in its bioluminescent blood. Trash before boss actually allows to test that mechanics before the encounter itself.
And the third thing: bioluminescent blood attracts the attention of lurking benthic fishes with many-many teeth. So, before crossing the areas with no bottom (required before and during boss), you need to wait out for the bioluminescent buff to wear out, or it’s a one-shot in 5 seconds after warning.
The encounter design takes swimming into consideration, and is most forgiving to positioning. The movement is required only to reach the next pufferfish to pop it and get the buff, to approach the boss, and to traverse the deep water areas to the next platform. All boss’ mechanics are AoE which should be healed, not dodged, so it’s quite fine. Cherry on top, tanks get their own healing debuff, so they don’t have to get distracted by pufferfish travel and focus on swapping and swapping only.
All in all the fight is simple: pop fish 1 upon pull and get buff, nuke the boss for 40 seconds, pop another fish, nuke the boss, swim to the next platform to repeat the routine. On platform 3 the boss dies.
Loot and swim back for a corridor run, a couple of trash fights and meeting Radiance of Azshara.
Radiance of Azshara takes place on a round platform. The narrow passage surrounds a round pool where the boss emerges. Water is lava during the encounter, so you don’t want neither to jump into the boss’ pool in the middle nor get dropped to the surrounding water. Luckily enough, you rarely do so, and the running grounds are quite plenty.
The boss pummels tanks with its arcane and water fists – tanks swap upon armor-breaking debuff. For other players it has targeted arcane bombs (carry out of the raid, get stunned for 5 seconds, proceed) and nasty tornadoes of water. Tornadoes move slowly, but quite chaotically, and you often find yourself running a great deal instead of nuking not to get caught. They deal little damage on their own, but may toss you in the air and knock you back.
After a while, the boss will render invincible and veil the whole area in a damaging haze. It is required then to run around the circle to a summoned storm add (with addlings) and nuke him asap to remove the haze and fight the boss again. The area around the add is “eye of the storm” – i.e., perfectly safe from haze, so everyone is advised there, including ranged and healers.
The encounter is not too complex, but very fun. Mostly it tests legwork, dodging and positioning on a limited ground.
Funny thing: while 6 of my alt runs were fine, for Jellica the Healer Radiance boss was bugged. It was the most amusing bug I’ve ever seen: all mechanics were absent! The boss just hit tanks with common melee attacks. And this is it. I got my healer fingers at the ready, but they were just not required! By 60% of boss health I just switched to my dps (open world) bar and contibuted at full might to nuke him to zero :) That was amusing :) I wonder what went wrong.
Raids are rarely dissappointing, and the first wing of Eternal Palace is no exception. I liked everything about the first three bosses – and most of all, personal responsibility for your own survival. The Behemoth encounter is arguably one of the best in a long time – although I wouldn’t greet Blizzard exploring 3D further. Please no air, underwater or space encounters in every next raid! Once in a while it’s an option – maybe once per expansion :)