The final Sanctum of Domination wing went live, and I ran a number of alts through LFR, so I’m ready to share the impressions.
First of all, it’s heavily loaded with lore action scenes and dialogues. I actually liked a lot what was going on in the encounter itself, the fight is a well executed transition from Torghast top to Oribos final showdown. Sylvanas manages to convey the feeling of a very powerful lieutenant, using all her powers at max, to stall enemies and cover her allies retreat – not unlike Jaina in Dazar’alor battle. Sylvanas as a boss is designed very well, they totally managed to tap into her ranger, banshee and Jailer’s minion fantasy, as she’s using powers from all three of her entities – arrows, daggers, power of domination, screams, flight and what not – every iconic move and ability made its way to the encounter.
The encounter appeared to be quite simple, but has some very demanding chokepoints which lead the raid to wipe if not addressed correctly. It consisting of three phases, with strategy points to mention for LFR players:
Phase 1: poses absolutely no challenge and is perfectly safe if you’re not AFK. Dodging stuff in such a vast battlefield is a piece of cake, arrows (“adds”) die super fast. The only thing to care about is to pop Hero/Lust/Warp on pull. And when she gains a 99% shield by the end of the phase and starts teleporting, it’s wise to relax, not to chase her and just wait her rushes out until cutscene.
Phase 2: is the raid killer, and this is where most LFR raids wipe time after time and lose players. First of all, bridges. There’s absolutely no rush, so players need just to walk carefully not to drop into holes. Thrall and Jaina are shittiest bridge builders in the world, and we lost up to 6-7 players to the holes (normally at least – 1-3), including two tanks in one run who immediately left the group after falling for some reason. Druids are NOT advised to use roar speed buff, as you suddenly find yourself running a lot faster which ends up in a free fall.
While the majority of the raid survives bridges, the biggest fuck up is Sylvanas’ Ruin spell which insta-wipes the raid if not interrupted. The key to success is to focus the big elite add (one per platform) – when it dies, Jaina and Thrall can build the next bridge, so you manage to get to Sylvanas on the next platform and break the cast. By the time the big add dies, at least 1-3 experienced players, preferably with ranged interrupts or fast classes like warriors, DH, shaman should already be there by the incoming bridge spot, rush across the bridge and interrupt the spell. The trickiest one is the last one – even if add dies fast, it often requires an insane effort to get to her.
Phase 3: is pretty simple and technically is a mild DPS check. The core mechanic is platforms – just walk over the edge to jump to the next one. Do that only if you have an arrow targeted on you (purple arrow marker on your head) to drop the AoE off the raid and jump back. But all the raid needs to track the Raze cast – before it ends, you should all transfer to next platform, or die, which results in losing DPS (once we lost all 5 healers to this in a moment) and not meeting the DPS requirements, as when all 4 platforms are Razed, you’ve nowhere to run and die fast. This is where your first Hero/Lust cooldown wears off, so you pop it another time when it’s ready.
I’m glad to say that the encounter is not overtuned at all, unlike wing 3 – my best experience was a kill from the first pull (yours truly explained the encounter strategy before pull, so this helped, I guess). So it does not require stacks of determination – only execution, which is also not too hard to master once you know your ways around and the flow of the encounter. It’s cool that there’s a lot of personal responsibility for your own survival, which I like a lot, and a single unexperienced player mistakes would not wipe the raid. It is forgiving if you’re not too quick with WASD too – you can fall behind on bridges with no penalty and mind your step as long as there is at least one fast and skilled player to break the cast.
Still, it requires knowing your drill, so at least a couple of wipes are normally in order for people to learn the encounter and how it works. If I were to fix the fight – my only wish would be to tune the final Ruin cast, because the timing is really, really tight and unforgiving, even if you pass the previous bridges and kill the required big elite add perfectly.
All in all, the encounter is filled with lore, epic, climactic, not especially hard, but requires knowledge, learning and execution. In other words, a perfect end boss to one of the best raids that the WoW team has ever made.
P.S. Supplying Jaina’s bridges with a mild sliding effect would be super cruel xDDD