Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Bear's Guide to BWD: Atramedes

Atramedes resides on the north end of the Vault of Shadowflame in BWD. He's a unique boss with a new sound mechanic. At the beginning of the fight everyone in the raid has 0 "sound." Every time someone gets hit by one of his special abilities, they gain sound. If/when they hit 100, he focuses on them and cannot be taunted off. Many of his special abilities are also deadlier against people with higher sound levels. Why sound? Because Atramedes is blind. Sonar, people.

There are 10 gongs around the room (5 per side) that can be to cause Vertigo on Atramedes. While under the effects of Vertigo, he'll take additional damage and the sound level of everyone in the raid will be reset to 0. However, you don't want to use them recklessly. Each time you ring one, Atramedes destroys it and they serve an important function during the fight.

If you have DBM (or similar addon), you can see sound levels represented in easy-to-read text. If not, you'll be dependent on an in-game sound meter graphic. It's a circle that fills blue (from the center, expanding outwards) as your sound rises. I find it's very difficult to read because of the non-linear relationship between a circle's radius and area. Low levels of sound tend to look much worse than they really are.

Atramedes is a single-tank fight. It's not unusual for Bears to be asked to go Cat for this fight to get a little extra DPS boost. There's no enrage timer, but if he isn't killed before your raid runs out of gongs to ring, it will cause a wipe.

But this is a guide for Bears that do end up tanking.

There's two phases to this fight. An 80-second ground phase followed by a 40-second air phase. Rinse, repeat. You'll only be tanking Atramedes while he's on the ground. He hits hard, but slow. So you usually don't have to panic (too much) if your health dips low. Your healers will (probably) have time to get you back up.

You'll want to know ahead of time the order that your raid is using the gongs. In my raids we use the gongs on the east side of the room during the ground phases, starting with the northern-most one (closest to where Atramedes spawns) and moving south. You want to keep Atramedes positioned such that the gong is one side of him and the center of the room is on the other. Your ranged should be standing near the next gong to be rang and melee generally do their job from the other side.

During the initial pull, this is not very hard to accomplish. When he lands (in the center of the room) after the air-phases, it's a little harder. You sometimes have to kite him to the north or south end of the room first and then swing him around and into position. Make sure you're communicating with your healers when you do this so they don't end up out of range.

All throughout the ground phase, Atramedes will be casting Modulation and Sonar Pulse. There's nothing you can do about the former, so don't worry about it too much. The latter causes four gold discs to spawn beneath Atramedes and move out in random directions. They move somewhat slowly and are relatively easy to avoid. Atramedes has a fairly large hit box, so try to make sure you're tanking from the edge of it. It gives you more time before the discs reach you and more time for them to spread further apart, making easier gaps to run through. Strafing is your friend here.

Sometimes fate conspires against you and there won't be an easy gap for you to hit. When this happens, run straight through the discs towards Atramedes to minimize the amount of time one is touching you.

Twice during each ground phase (at roughly 20 and 60 seconds), Atramedes will use his Sonic Breath ability. He targets a single player and casts a room-length, fire-laser at them. That player needs to run around Atramedes to avoid it. (Atramedes continually tracks the target for the the six or so seconds this beam lasts.) Anyone the fire-laser touches takes damage and gains sound. As the tank, you'll never be the target of this ability, but that doesn't mean whoever is targeted won't track it right through you. You may have to move to avoid it.

Once per ground phase (at roughly 40 seconds) Atramedes will cast Searing Flame. Your ranged should be standing by on the gong as this ability approaches and ring it very quickly when he starts casting it. It must be interrupted by the gong. If you have high sound (more than 50), pop Barkskin before this ability goes off. If you have really high sound (more than 75) use Survival Instincts instead. And if you have low health, Frenzied Regeneration is probably not a bad idea in addition to either one of your damage mitigation abilities, regardless of your sound level.

Once Atramedes starts to fly up into the air, you and the rest of your raid should start running in a large circle around the edge of the floor. Atramedes is going to pick one person and start chasing them with Roaring Flame Breath, a beam similar to Sonic Breath except that it goes downward now. It starts fairly slowly at first (faster if the target has high sound) and gradually speeds up as it chases them. The beam does heavy, fast ticking damage to the player if it catches up. It also leaves a trail of fire on the ground behind it that will damage anyone that runs through it. They'll also gain sound (presumably because of shouting something between "Ow! Ow! Ow!" and "Oh god, the burning! Make it stop!").

The beam can be stopped by ringing a gong.

Once the beam targets someone, everyone else should collapse down to the center except for a designated gong-ringer. The gong-ringer needs to stand near an available gong (in my raid group, we use the gongs on the west side of the room for the air phases) and keep an eye on the person being chased. When the Flame Breath is about to catch up to that person, they need to use a gong and then immediately start running. Why? They become the new Flame Breath target.

In order to keep the number of gongs needed for the air phase at 1, the gong-ringer should hold out as long as possible. People being chased by Flame Breath should do whatever they can to increase the time the gong-ringer has to save them (Sprint, Dash, Blink, Lock Gate, Ghost Wolf, Heroic Leap, etc).

Providing we don't get targeted initially, we Bears make very good gong-ringers. For starters, we can't DPS Atramedes while he's in the air (ranged can still reach him) so we're pretty much useless during the air phase anyway. Secondly, we can shift Cat to gain a speed boost via Feral Swiftness and have Dash available to us every other air phase.

Whether or not you're the gong-ringer, keep an eye out for Sonar Bombs. These fall fairly rapidly during the air phases and frequently target the spaces people are standing in. There will be a set of flashing rings that appear where one is going to land a few seconds before it does. If one of these appears under you, move.

If you're not the gong-ringer, just hang out near the middle and get ready to pick up Atramedes when he lands. Stay out of fire patches on the ground and Sonar Bomb zones. Also stay 6 yards from other raid members so you don't catch splash damage from the Sonic Fireballs that will be raining down.

Atramedes has a pretty anemic loot-table as far as Bears are concerned. The only drop you'll potentially be looking for is the Sark of the Unwatched.

As with all my boss strats, I'm writing from the overall perspective of a Bear tank (in 10-man) and what they will need to do. For you Cats reading this blog, I suggest you check out Dinaer's guides on Forever a Noob. They're written for Rogues but are a pretty good guide for melee in general and his gear drop suggestions (with the exception of weapons) will be spot on for Cats. If I have additional insight, I will try to add it in my blog.
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