October 29, 2009

Patch 3.3 PTR: Gunship battle impressions

I'm on a boat!

That was the first thing that came to mind as I entered Icecrown for today's Gunship encounter that will be coming in patch 3.3. It was another fun fight against those foul Horde forces although there were a few slight bugs in the mix. Unfortunately, we weren't able to complete it because the Alliance cannons just didn't seemed to be working properly. The goblins must have sabotaged it. Either that or someone forgot to reload them.

I added some screenshots of the event into the Icecrown gallery.

Anyway, it's time to grab your sword and fight the Horde!

Gallery: Icecrown Citadel

After teleporting up to the exterior area where the gunships were held, our raid group immediately engaged several Horde vermin. I was worried that it was going to be Faction Champs for trash. We easily swatted aside this healing druid (who wasn't even in tree form) and ripped apart a blood elf priest. The hunter and rogue fell swiftly underneath the might of the Alliance task force after that.

Once we rescued our fellow Alliance NPCs, we had two ways to go. Going right would mean we would have to get by this abysmally large frost wyrm. It looked like some Horde attackers were trying to keep him at bay. Going left meant plowing through more orcs and their allies with the Alliance gunship, The Skybreaker, docked. Even though it would have been fun to sandwich the Horde units between us and the wyrm, we decided to head for the alliance vessel.

After all, we had an event to start.

Just as we were approaching dock, a large shadow appeared overhead. We looked up only to discover that the frost wyrm we left alone earlier blocked the path between us and the ship. Naturally, we did the only logical thing that came to mind and charged in. The frost wyrm put up a good fight but was soundly dispatched.

We boarded The Skybreaker and who did we see?

It's our friend Muradin Bronzebeard!

His buddy beside him offered us a gift. It's a jet pack that we get to wear in our ill-often used shirt slot. Activating it allows us to jump to any point within several yards. Supposedly it's meant to be a safety device in case we fall off the ship. But we're a little more ambitious than that. We're going to use these jet packs (pictured in the very first image of the post) to board the other ship.

The premise

The basic idea of the encounter is that both the Alliance and Horde gunships will be squaring off against each other. Throughout the encounter, your raid team will be busy fending off intruders from the opposite faction as they board your ship. You'll have several players manning the deck guns as they open fire on the other ship. Once the health of the ship drops to a certain percentage, the mages on the other ship will encase the guns in a solid block of ice preventing them from firing. It's up to your team to then take the offense to them and knock out their mages and their rocketeers so that you can resume pummeling their ship and until it crashes and burns. Not only will you have to mess with opposing faction NPCs, you get to deal with High Overlord Saurfang. If you're Horde, you get the pleasure of trying to stop Muradin Bronzebeard (and no one can stop a dwarf).

Attempt 1

Once we were ready to begin the encounter, it was time to ascend Icecrown. We talked to Brann and he gave the order to fire up The Skybreaker's engines. The course was pre-plotted and we decided to take the scenic route. The architecture was admired. Bone dragons were spotted circling around the tower.

But then we were beset upon by the Horde gunship, Orgrim's Hammer. They called for us to stand down and retreat. Of course Muradin was having none of that and said the dwarven version of "Hell naw!" and basically ordered us to open fire. Both gunships leveled off in the air and virtually hovered side by side.

Unfortunately, we came across a slight malfunction. Our cannons appeared to be ineffective (bugged as I had mentioned earlier). We discovered this while dodging incoming rockets. Without being able to do much of anything else, a group was dispatched to board the other ship to attempt to stop the rockets and take out the mages. Sadly, they didn't last very long without any real support and we wiped as a result.

One thing I will say is that it seems to take a while for the encounter to reset after a wipe. Once every player died, we'd have to wait to zone in because the encounter was still in progress. It seems like it won't reset until the Alliance gunship is destroyed.

Attempt 2

We dusted ourselves off and went back once we were clear. Knowing that the cannons were bugged, we decided to try something else and see what the trash did. We talked to Muradin and we were up and away!

All of us decided to forgo the cannons and simply board their ship. We looked for a safe zone which appeared to be toward the... bow of the ship. My naval terminology fails me but I think that's what it's called.


These were annoying. All they do is throw axes and it seems as if they are able to hit players from any range. They weren't difficult to take down.


They're the main muscle for the Horde. Sergeants have a nasty whirlwind effect which is capable of decapitating clothies such as priests within their range. Players hit with a Wounding Strike will have the effectiveness of healing spells on them reduced by 25%.


These are the enemies that are shelling the Alliance gunship and they are a priority target. Take them out and the ship will experience some relief from their rockets for a while. The rockets they fire are easy enough to spot and dodge. Players can even see the runes on the ground that show rocket impacts before they strike. Simply stand out of the rune and you won't take damage. If you do take damage, it's easy enough for healers to handle. But that doesn't mean get careless.

Battle Mages

Mages are the key. Take them out and your cannons will be free to fire again.

By the time we figured out the individual abilities, High Overlord Saurfang had approached us and began systematically dismantling all of us one by one. The clothies had no chance. When he was on the tanks, the damaged appeared to be marginal. The tank I was with reported that Saurfang gained a stacking buff that would increase the amount of damage the orc would do. This lead me to conclude that a tank would be needed specifically for Saurfang while the rest of the raid was working on the other NPCs on the ship. We would have a limited window of time before Saurfang tore us apart and it was best that he be held off to the side. Once the NPCs were taken care of, it was time to strategically retreat to Alliance ship and continue firing cannons (if they were working).

Healing this fight is going to be random. There's a lot of stuff to keep track of and if you're caught looking the wrong way, some players could drop to 0 fairly quickly. Saurfang's tank will need a set of heals especially when that stacking buff starts piling high.

All in all, it was a fun fight and a nice preview of the mechanics that are involved. At the present, it's still a bit buggy with the guns and without them we can't beat the encounter. We ended up staying a few more attempts after that just to get a firm handle on the mobs. Again, I'm not sure if the encounter is properly tuned yet. The trash went down much quicker than expected. To be fair though, this isn't meant to be Faction Champions 2.0 in the skies or anything. This is certainly one of the encounters I will be looking forward to in Icecrown.

Oh I forgot to add. You can't kill Saurfang. When he reaches a certain point, he just lays the smacksdown on the entire raid. We found that out the hard way by pouring massive DPS on him. Nope, didn't work.

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