So, THAT was tier 11?
Okay, cool. Despite it taking over six months to get seven (/sigh) new bosses, it's still fairly easy to comment about how I felt tier 11 went and how much I enjoyed it. All told? It was good fun. Personally, I still abhor heroic modes because I can't figure out who they're actually aimed at beyond the top 1%. Alas, 4.2 has muddied the waters on this further which is a shame.
However, it's no exaggeration to say that tier 11 did a very good job of introducing post-Northrend raid content and providing compelling and innovative ways to conduct raid encounters. Yes, some of the heroic encounters were horribly punishing on 10 man groups in particular when a certain spec was unavailable, but most of this was fixed throughout the tier and didn't hold people up too long.
So, let's break it down via instance and start with the Bastion of Twilight.
Halfus Wyrmbreaker was an interesting start, but deeply frustrating depending on the set up of drakes you got. Some compositions were really very easy, whereas others complicated the encounter hugely. All told though, it was essentially a gear check with little to actually master.
Moving on to Valiona and Theralion shifted the perspective, though. This wasn't a gear check and, in fact, was very much an "idiot check". The mechanics were simple enough, but hugely unforgiving when they were done incorrectly. It also introduced importance to positioning, thus forming part of the learning cycle.
The Ascendent Council is one of those fights that are designed to annoy people. Agonising 2% wipes are no fun for anyone, meaning that DPS really had to be on the ball in the final burn phase. In addition to this, control became a large factor for our damage dealers, making them directly responsible for success.
Finally, the last boss in the Bastion, was Cho'gall. Probably the simplest of the end bosses, this didn't mean he was a pushover. High tank damage was good to see, as tanks could concentrate more on mitigation. But the corruption mechanic also taught that spatial awareness was very important to avoid early mistakes costing you late on.
All told, I thought the Bastion of Twilight was a damn fine raid. My only real complaint about it was the trash; some of it was frankly pointless. You could easily have removed one of the patrols from the first room, and binned four of the elementals prior to pulling the Ascendent Council.
Next up was the Throne of the Four Winds.
The Conclave of Wind was generally a very forgiving fight which required strong raid coordination and was actually a lot of fun. Raiders like spending time running around, and this encounter demands a lot of exactly that. Not only that, unforgiving mechanics meant general awareness was very important for the vast majority of people.
Alas, most of the people I've raided with hate Al'Akir. Phase one, though short, can see an otherwise drilled raid group wipe to crap RNG. Again, though, DPS control is the key to phase 2 and this is a welcome shift in responsibility. I'm not honestly sure what to make of phase three, but I suppose it rounded out the encounter nicely enough.
Giving the Throne marks out of five would give it probably a two. No trash, random loot and the gap in difficulty between the Conclave and Al'Akir was a bit ridiculous. Still, as a stand alone instance, it did its job.
Blackwing Descent house a familiar foe in the shape of Nefarian, but some otherwise fun bosses to play around with.
Magmaw was the gear check for this raid, with on-demand burst DPS, constant need for lots of heals and a good level of tank control all being asked for here. A bit of general awareness is also required along with target switching which is never a bad thing, but Magmaw wasn't a bad start to the content at all.
If Magmaw was the gear check, the Omnotron Defence System provided the idiot check. As the order of the combatants was random, it was a fight that forced raiders to think on the fly and react accordingly. Nothing too dangerous assuming people had their eyes open, but you had to keep them open.
Moving on to the never-ending failure of Maloriak brought an encounter that really introduced nothing we haven't seen before. Round up adds, kill them off, spank the boss and deal with a few debuffs. All told, this encounter was pretty disappointing despite some of the best loot falling from his corpse.
Atramedes was fun, though. The sound mechanic, similar to Cho'gall's corruption, adds an extra dimension to the fight, but it's unfortunately ruined by the encounter just not feeling "quiet", if you know what I mean. Still an interesting enough fight, even if he'll go down in history as the heroic encounter every top guild exploited.
Our penultimate fight was against the abomination named Chimaeron, and this fight was hugely imaginative. The different aspect to healing made this a fight you couldn't do conventionally, bringing something new to the table in a way the Faction Champions failed to. Inevitable deaths in phase 2 weren't cool, but the fight itself was very well thought out.
For most people, the last fight of the tier was Nefarian and with good reason. With three distinct phases, high demands of control, damage and healing, it was well tuned. The only problem? It was Nefarian (and Onyxia) again, and it brought nothing new to the table from a mechanic point of view.
Overall, the instance was very enjoyable. It had that nefarious "feel" about it, clearly marked progression and a decent number of bosses. Personally, though, I feel the trash was much too sparse. One pull per boss? Bit too slight for me.
And that was tier 11 from my point of view. I haven't spoken about the heroic modes as many didn't change all that much, but the major difference between Cataclysm raids and WotLK was the change in emphasis. The margin for error attached to major fight mechanics was drastically reduced, while DPS became a VERY important job in a great many encounters. The more strategic slant on healing has also made for a more interesting playstyle for most healers if they're honest.
A good start to the expansion, and a good first step for progression.