Wednesday, September 24, 2014

LFR Strategies and Tricks: Mists of Pandaria (Tier 14)

A couple of years ago when the Looking for Raid, or LFR system was in its stages of infancy, I wrote a guide detailing strategies and potential tricks to beat the eight bosses of the only LFR at the time: Dragon Soul. With Mists of Pandaria coming to an end and players gearing up or trying to get their legendary cloak quests finished, I thought I would share some strategies and not-so-well-known tricks to beating the LFR bosses. I've thought about writing this for a long time but for one reason or another (such as waning interest in WoW, resulting in a lack of motivation to write such an article) I delayed this series of articles and have only now started gathering the resources to write this series of articles. While there are likely far better guides out there, such as the encounter journal, the details that may help set these guides apart are the aforementioned tricks and personalized bite-sized strategies, if either are relevant for a given boss.

Since LFR has been implemented for each major raid tier of the Mists of Pandaria expansion, it would be an enormous mouthful to write all the strategies and tricks for all 42 bosses in a single article so I will split them by tier and add links to other LFR tier guides below:

Tier 14 (this one)
Tier 15
Tier 16

This guide will cover tier 14, the first tier of Mists of Pandaria. While players usually won't run these LFRs as much due to the accessibility of Timeless Isle gear, loot has an extremely high certainty of dropping on each boss, especially on rerolls, allowing players to acquire some 476 and 483 equipment (especially weapons) to qualify for higher LFR tiers.

This place drops item level 476 equipment while the other two raids of this tier in LFR drop 483 pieces. Because of this I recommend against queuing for this place unless you want achievements, or didn't get too lucky running the other two raids for loot (or Sigils). With that said, here's the bosses:

This trio of stone beasts is an exceedingly easy boss with minimal strategic requirement, making it an excellent introductory boss for newer players.
  • The standard strategy for this boss on LFR is to stack all the bosses together and cleave them down. Use abilities that hit multiple targets to greatly increase damage output.
  • Due to the nature of this boss, it is a good one to practice avoiding hazards like Cobalt Mines and Amethyst Pools. While these mechanics aren't that dangerous on LFR, it is a good learning experience in a group environment.
This boss packs a bit of a punch. While his damage is tuned down for LFR the incoming group-wide pain is still rather high, making it a bit more of a test for healers.
  • Damage dealers can help the healers out by avoiding the brunt of attacks during specific phases, such as by running away from the boss during Epicenter and running out of the group if the player is hit with Wildfire Spark.
  • When the boss enters his third phase, it is better to spread out in a staggered formation and not try to stack up at all. While this increases the damage of his Arcane Velocity, Arcane Resonance has significant lethality potential.
  • The group damage from Feng is extremely predictable, meaning that healers should time cooldown and area healing usage with his special group-damaging abilities as needed.
This is the best picture I could get of him. Sorry!
This boss is incredibly easy in LFR, mostly because it's possible to completely ignore his mechanics.
  • While the boss can be tanked and spanked, he will use Spirit Totems which allow players to cross over into the spirit world. While this is generally helpful for killing off the adds inside so they don't kill your group, a player can spam heals on themselves to get an enormous buff to their stats, leave the world (it'll kick you out once the time's up unlike in higher difficulties), and proceed to deal a good bit of extra damage to the boss. It's not really necessary, but it adds some variance to an otherwise rather boring boss.
This quartet of mogu lords introduces you to the second half of Mogu'Shan Vaults. They have a few mechanics to watch for, though the abilities thrown out are more likely to deal huge amounts of damage as opposed to outright killing players (unlike on higher difficulties).
  • Stack up for Qiang and Meng (the first and third lords). Spread out for Subetai and Zian.
  • Like with the Stone Guard, there are numerous mechanics that are good to practicing avoiding. Qiang and Subetai in particular have mechanics that are helpful to avoid or deal with.
This boss has one mechanic that is well-known for killing players that don't know the fight. Aside from that, he's a bit of a pushover.
  • The boss will cause the glowing floor that he's on to disappear at certain amounts of health (up to a maximum of twice). If you want to be extra safe, watch for Elegon to use his Draw Power ability and clear the floor. Otherwise, watch the area surrounding the center and see if one (or more) of the six glowing pillars has raised to serve as the signal to clear the area.
  • When the floor has disappeared, the raised pillars will create glowing walls that should not be passed through. While they don't inflict lethal damage on LFR immediately, they do deal a very high amount of damage.
  • Depending on your group's damage, it is possible to push Elegon to his final phase before he can remove the floor twice by completely bypassing his second first phase. Use cooldowns accordingly if this is the case (before the first Draw Power).
This encounter starts off with several waves of adds, followed by the two main big bads. While it seems like a unique encounter, it's about the equivalent of fighting one's way through a gauntlet followed by a boss with no break in between.
  • It is of utmost important to focus adds over the boss, particularly Emperor's Courage. If possible, try to bring the other two adds (NOT the Courage) to one of the bosses so they can be cleaved down.
  • For (inexperienced) melee: While low graphics settings may not see the visual animation before the bosses use their combo moves, the moment you see any of the animations or take severe damage and receive the armor shred debuff (or stun), you should run away from the bosses.
    • On that note, the bosses should not be tanked next to each other unless the group is very experienced since the combo attacks, when striking multiple areas, can do a huge amount of damage to melee or anyone too close to the boss.
    • If you think you can dodge all five strikes of a combo, you can try to for practice (regardless of your role), though keep in mind your damage/healing output loss from trying to move around may not make this endeavor worth it.

Heart of Fear is the next step up from Mogu'shan Vaults and drops item level 483 equipment. While I personally prefer running Terrace of the Endless Springs because it has far less trash to kill and the group gets to kill four bosses in one go, the trash density in the first half of this raid is so high it may be a great place to farm for various world drop profession recipes.

While he may not be the only one with a strong voice, he certainly makes good use of it. However, his damage output isn't too great on LFR, meaning almost all the encounter mechanics can be completely ignored.
  • For the first three phases, it is imperative that the group does not stand in the middle of the room.
  • For the first phase, stand in the bubbles that appear to reduce the damage of his raid-wide attack further. It would help to stack close as well.
  • For the second phase, the special attack the boss uses has a predictable pattern that makes practicing avoiding it easier.
  • For the third phase, just damage players that get mind controlled. This is also good practice for a mechanic on a far later boss.
  • The fourth phase will use all the previous phase's mechanics.
  • In general, stacking is pretty helpful on this fight. Besides that, there's not too much in the way of special tricks.
This boss has a decent amount of lethality potential, though most of his mechanics are otherwise quite tame. His second phase can extend the duration of a Heart of Fear LFR run by quite a significant amount.
  • While Wind Step's damage adds up, to completely negate the chance of dying to Unseen Strike, stacking as a group may help.
  • For Tanks: The tornadoes the boss spawns are a bit of an annoyance and moving the boss away from areas with a large number of them will help the group a lot because while the damage isn't significant, the disruption potential is.
  • The second phase is a good time to practice avoiding mechanics, in particular the tornadoes the boss throws at the group. If you have trouble avoiding the tornadoes, just wait until the boss switches sides since he will do so periodically.
This enormous boss used to be the slayer of LFR groups back when he was initially available. While he doesn't have too many mechanics that outright kill players, he does deal a sizable amount of damage to the group, especially if they repeatedly fail to understand his mechanics.
  • While damaging the boss's legs is important (since it generally is better to damage the legs than it is to damage the boss, as destroyed legs damage the boss), be careful of the purple circle which, when entered, causes the boss to deal a large amount of damage to the raid. Do not stand under Garalon.
    • If you are an inexperienced player, it may be a good idea to forgo the damage bonus effect from standing near the legs and damage them from afar if possible.
  • The Pheromones debuff can be passed from player to player, though it may be a good idea to simply assign a single player to take the debuff, and thus aggro on the boss, and kite it around. When debuffed, the player will drop pools periodically, so if you have the debuff, try to group the pools as close as possible.
    • The damage dealt to the raid by Pheromones increases over time but caps out, allowing this strategy to be possible without killing the whole raid, though the damage will be somewhat significant.
The Wind Lord introduces players to the second half of the Heart of Fear. Fortunately, he's a rather simple boss in the LFR setting due to the ability to ignore many of the encounter's mechanics.
  • Stack all the enemies together and aoe them down to kill them all at once with great ease. Use crowd control as needed.
  • The healing ability from the Battle Menders must be interrupted. AoE interruptions are helpful considering the chaos this fight can cause.
  • Right click on Amber Prisons to break players out when possible.
  • Aside from that, there are a few other mechanics that can be avoided, but they don't really have to be, though damage output on the group will greatly increase over time either way.
This boss has some mechanics that can trip up a group of unprepared players, especially since they often rest on a few individuals.
  • The boss will periodically turn a player into a Mutated Construct. The player will gain new abilities and become attackable by other players. Until the Amber Monstrosity is defeated, it is important to kill players in this form.
  • As the Mutated Construct, remember to use Struggle for Control (button 2) to interrupt your own Amber Explosion.
    • In this form, you can also use Amber Strike to help damage the boss or Amber Monstrosity. This is especially helpful in the third phase. It also means you get to stand close to priority targets, allowing you to get cleaved down to break you out of the form.
  • Focus on the boss and use all cooldowns during the third phase. Mutated Constructs will get healed and thus are not worth breaking allies out of. Also, it greatly helps to stack during this phase due to the incoming raid damage.
This encounter has a number of notable mechanics. However, all of them can be bypassed or ignored depending on how strong the group is.
  • The boss will mind control the tank if they reach 5 stacks of the debuff she applies. This is generally important but the effect wears off after a short time as long as the other tank can pick up the boss and wait out the mind control.
  • Use cooldowns the moment the boss is pulled. With enough damage, it may be possible to skip the second phase entirely, which activates every 150 seconds the boss is active (when she runs out of her secondary resource).
  • It helps to spread out on this fight due to a number of mechanics that target huge areas or deal splash damage.
  • During the third phase, the boss will apply a dispellable fear to allies. It greatly helps to remove this as soon as possible since the fear may cause players to run out of range.

The Terrace of the Endless Springs is the most difficult raid in the first Mists of Pandaria tier. Like Heart of Fear, it also drops item level 483 equipment, though the raid is a lot smaller and thus isn't split in half like the other two raids.

Personally I find this boss to be the most difficult of the four on LFR. However, the bosses aren't particularly lethal so much as frustrating to defeat if mechanics are ignored.
  • Defeat the bosses in the following order: Protector Kaolan, Elder Regail, Elder Asani. As a general rule, don't use cleaving effects if you can help it since some are a single target damage loss.
  • Dispel the Cleansing Waters effect from the target being focused if possible (for instance if you are a Hunter, Shaman, or Mage). This is very important since otherwise it is highly unlikely the boss will not die at all.
  • After Kaolan dies, try to stay in the middle area (but don't stack up if possible) to get the benefits of the Corrupted Water when it is destroyed (make sure to destroy it when it spawns).
  • For Healers: While Regail is alive, he will place Lightning Prisons on players. If you are using the default user interface's raid frames, the debuff will be very large, indicating it is important. The first part of the debuff (showing the countdown before the application) cannot be dispelled but the stun portion can be.
This boss has two definitive phases, both of which will be taxing for healers. However, there are some ways to make life easier for the healers in this fight.
  • The Sunbeam spawned by the boss in the first phase will not shrink like on higher difficulties. Everyone but the tanks should stack in the Sunbeam if possible, with the boss nearby but facing away (so the boss doesn't breath on the raid).
  • Periodically, the boss will create a large purple circle on the ground. Everyone should move out of it to avoid the damage and fear, then stack back under the beam.
  • During the second phase, all healers (and anyone else who can heal) should stand in front of the boss to benefit from Sun Breath. Time big heals for when the buff is received.
  • It is also imperative that Terrorize is dispelled from the boss since it can rapidly erase progress and cause the fight to take far longer.

Sorry, I couldn't take a screenshot of this boss.

Like her trash mobs, Lei Shi isn't that difficult, but is a very annoying boss to defeat due to her mechanics.
  • Lei Shi will protect herself at certain percentages of her health. If possible, have a player mark down one of the elementals she reanimates so players can focus it down, breaking the shield.
  • When the boss uses Hide, use area of effect abilities close to the edges of the platform. If one of the attacks shows a splashing animation (it'll usually be blue, white, or reddish) and you deal damage, keep attacking that spot to make Lei Shi stop hiding. All classes besides Hunters have a spammable AoE ability that can hit the untargetable Lei Shi.
  • When the boss uses Get Away!, as the ability says, try to run against the current pushing you away. However, if you need to cast spells (especially healing spells), try to get as close to the boss as possible before using the spell so you don't get pushed off the platform.
The Sha of Fear, who makes an appearance in Heart of Fear, is a rather imposing end boss of the first tier of Mists of Pandaria. Despite this, he is a surprisingly easy boss with a couple tricks that aren't particularly threatening.
  • When initiating the pull, have the tank stand on the ring of light in front of the ball to create a wall of light to protect the raid from his breath attack.
  • Cooldowns are best used early (especially raid-wide abilities like Time Warp) before the boss sends players to the far platforms to fight mini-bosses.
  • The mini-bosses are not too threatening. Just grab the orbs they drop to replenish some resource (Mana, Energy, Focus, Rage, or Runic Power).
  • The adds that spawn outside the wall are generally not that threatening. Spreading out slightly will minimize the incoming raid damage by a bit.

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