I’ve been doing a bit of T2 ToO progression runs recently and I’ve come to the reaslisation that I enjoy the trash pulls more than the boss fights. I think this mainly comes down to my class role, but there’s just SOOO much to do in trash fights and so many opportunities to respond to random or unplanned events that they just end up feeling more fun than the more scripted boss fights. I’ve also realised more and more that what the lore-master does in the first few seconds can have a fairly big impact on the overall fight, which is the subject of today’s post.

3… 2… 1… go!

Most trash pulls, particularly on T2, should begin with some sort of crowd control. Putting mobs to sleep before the room is woken up can have a number of beneficial effects. Some mobs have dangerous or annoying special attacks that activate instantly on wakeup, such as the lightning wing’s taskmasters (burrow, healing puddle) or the F&F wing’s ruffians (disease, “mark” corruption). CC-ing before wakeup also has the advantage of locking mobs in theit tracks, avoiding positional issues. So pulls are usually best started by having someone counting down so multiple cc instigators can hit their targets in a coordinated way. A problem with this is that if you are the first to wake the room up, you often get all sorts of unwanted attention, particularly if the tank is a little sleepy on the pickup or if there’s ranged attackers in the room, and I’m pretty sure that some special attacks (particularly diseases) have a higher chance of targeting on the first aggro target. So if you’re involved in the initial cc, the craziness starts instantly.

But the opening of the fight is the time when the lore-master has the biggest opportunity to make a difference to the whole group’s chance of success. There are a lot of things that can be going on:

  • You need to make sure the initial cc has all stuck and that you don’t need to do any emergency cc to recover from a miss. Also if you’re double-mezzing (with either call to the valar or a minstrel’s call to greatness), you need to make sure to lock down your second target as quickly as possible.
  • Something will be getting DPS-ed down very quickly. It’s good to put your incoming damage debuffs on this target.
  • A tank will probably be picking up one or more hard hitting mobs and moving them out of the way of the rest of the group (possibly kiting). These mobs should have your -damage debuffs put on them.
  • In many ToO fights, someone’s going to get diseased. And this is the time people are most likely to be very busy doing other things so a disease cure here can be clutch. Some diseases will also stack on a single target, making a LM cure necessary to clear it.
  • People are going to be taking big damage. The tank picking up the dangrous mobs is going to start getting hit by those dangerous mobs. The hunter’s gonna pull threat on the DPS target cause they’re trying to kill it super fast. The healer’s quite possibly going get some stray or summoned mob pop up on them. There’ll be green bars dropping all over the place, at a time when the group’s incoming damage is high because all mobs are awake – your big spot heal can be very important here.
  • Your pet can normally do something good by targeting the DPS target, whether it be pseudo-revealing mark from the spirit pet, shatter arms or a clutch force taunt from the bear or benediction of the raven.
  • If stuff is being kited, sticky tar can be useful.
  • March of the ents can do a big AOE stun on a bunch of mobs, greatly reducing the group’s incoming damage. Storm lore and other stuns/roots can also be useful.
  • Doing some extra DPS on the thing that’s getting killed extra quickly, particularly if it’s some stuff that’s getting AOEd down in a big hurry which you can throw a big lightning storm on, can be helpful.

That’s a lot of things to do! And of course, it’s all while making sure you keep yourself alive, move away from stuff that needs to be moved away from, use potions etc. And I haven’t even got to the 15sec mark yet, when you’ll usually need to be looking to reapply cc, or cc a second target that got feared initially. And the process of picking up a feared target for mez can be quite fiddly – ideally you want to be applying cc before the fear runs out (otherwise the mob gets a chance to cast its skill), but you also want to maximise the time that the mob is cc-ed because adaptation means you can’t reapply any cc. This usually means that you have to not only find the mob (which might be running on the other side of the room, feared) but look at its debuff bar timer to see how long the fear has remaining.

Even as someone who’s been doing this for a while, all of these different things to do in the very opening moments of the fight can sometimes be overwhelming and I’ve certainly found myself in situations where I’ve been so busy trying to watch everything that I’ve forgotten to do something. This often ends badly, usually with a dead healer because that troll over there woke up and run towards them or a tank that’s dying way too quickly because he’s getting hit by non-debuffed mobs or got stunned from his triple disease bomb. Also another danger is that quite a few of your actions can take a few seconds of game time, either in an big induction (ents, lightning storm, tar, ward circle), or an uncancelable animation like frost lore.

I’ve found that it’s important to plan these pulls and be really methodical in your execution. First of all there’s a few things you can usually do pre-combat, including both signs of power debuffs, sticky tar, ward circles and stun protection if necessary. Also use your knowledge of the lore-master pre-combat to reduce resist chance on cc targets (particularly ones that are going to be feared by a minstrel). Then set yourself a firm debuff plan, foregoing some of the slower or less important debuffs like gust of wind and wind/frost lore. Priorotise who you’re going to consider healing – usually it’s more important to try to save a tank or healer than a dps. And above all, make sure you very quickly tunnel vision on your cc re-application or pickup after a fear – using static tooltips on your cc targets (setup pre-combat) can really help you select the mob quickly during combat here. The default hotkey for them is “h”.

And don’t forget that you have the tools to help the group recover from something going wrong, although this will normally require communication. If someone breaks the cc on a non-adaptation target then try to let people know that they should leave it alone while you root/stun it before you can get your mez cooldown back (this might require people to reposition away from the mob), assuming CttV is on cd. Also, if you’re using the bear, its force taunt can be a great way to save a healer from a stray mob while a tank picks it up but again, it’s not going to do much good without some communication because after 10sec the bear will lose threat (or it might die before that). You can usually cure someone’s double disease, but if you’re on cooldown then you might need to tell them to run away from the group because there’s nothing you can do. All in all, communication (preferably by voice) is pretty important to the lore-master’s role.

Anyway, that’s all for today. Just regarding future columns, I could do guides to the T2 wings that my group has completed (F&F and lightning), but I’m not sure that there’s much use for them by this stage – I figure that most groups who are going to try these have done so by now, especially given how close RoR is (there’s also these great video guides available). If people are interested in them though then I can put some together, otherwise I have a few other ideas up my sleeve :).