With all normal modes being farm for most progression guilds, I thought this would be a good time to give my opinion on this tier’s normal mode encounters, and what I thought about each boss. Due to the length of this article, we have split it into two parts for easy reading. This is Part II, please click here for Part I.
Now that we have risen up from the Forgotten Depths, we must go through the Halls of Flesh Shaping. Think of this wing as the “mad scientist” region. The first boss we face here is Durumu the Forgotten. I enjoyed this fight a lot. All the phases (normal, beam, and maze phase) were all interesting and had new mechanics that we had never seen before. In the normal phase there is a knock back cone, pools which affect the maze phase, and a life steal from the boss. The color beam phase is the most interesting of the phases. Three beams spawn and you need to use the red one to run around like a flash light to find adds in order to end the phase. Finally, there is a maze phase where the room fills with black and a beam is chasing you. Most of the mechanics in this fight feel well done, polished, fun, and engaging. There is a lot to do on the fight, but it is all really fun and fresh. One of the best fights in the instance.
After defeating Durumu, we meet Primordius. I had some very brief experience with this boss on the PTR, so I did not have the time to really measure the difficulty of the fight. From the PTR I thought that this fight’s mechanics were really cool and innovative, and that it could rank up as one of my favorite fights of all time. But what changed that? Well, he is basically a push over. His difficultly would put him right after Jin’rokh. Yes, really. You have everyone get their “lizard buff” then pop Bloodlust/Heroism/Time Warp, and just kite the boss around the room until he dies. When you lose your lizard buff, just go refresh it. Rinse repeat. This was really disappointing. His mechanics are pretty interesting, but he is plagued by being extraordinarily easy, especially for being this far into the instance. However, I hope Primordius can redeem himself on heroic mode, becoming the fight he should be.
Finally we reach the source of the anima enegry, the Dark Animus. At first, from the PTR, I thought the idea behind this fight would be very fun to progress through with my guild on live. The reality? Not really, as he suffers from the “Primordius-Syndrome”. His mechanics are very interesting and allow for a ton of strategy variation. However, his difficultly on normal mode (especially on 10m) is so easy that you cannot really appreciate him, because you will probably just 1-3 shot him. This fight made me more frustrated than any other. I really thought that this could go down as one of the best encounters ever designed by Blizzard. The idea behind it was new, original, and allowed for a lot of raider creativity. I wanted this boss to be a brick wall, at least for a little bit. I wanted to spend hours theorycrafting about the best way to distribute anima to different levels of golems, and try out different methods of spawning adds and what types of adds. Instead, you essentially just spawn the boss and burn him down with Bloodlust/Heroism/Time Warp with basically zero mechanics that will wipe the raid. The only way to wipe on this fight is if you mess up the first 45 seconds when there are 25 tiny golems (or 12 in 10m). Once again, disappointing on difficultly, but good mechanical concept. Seeing Dark Animus as one of the heroic fights that took top guilds the longest to kill, I am still very excited to try this guy later on hard mode!
Iron Qon/Twin Consorts/Lei Shen
At long last, we have made it to the Pinnacle of Storms. The end of the tier, and in my opinion, the best overall wing. All three of the fights are decently challenging and are original and fun. First is Iron Qon. This is a pretty interesting fight that is arguably only second to Lei Shen in normal mode difficulty. Iron Qon has four phases, each with its own theme. There is a fire, lightning, ice, and “boss phase” which each have their own mechanics as well as one similar mechanic. The fire phase does massive damage (generalization), lightning phase has a nasty debuff which spreads to targets within 10 yards and a giant wind storm, and cold phase has raid wide damage. In each phase there is also a spear that gets thrown and sends out lines of bad. The lines in each phase do different things when you stand in them. Fire lines put a debuff on you which increases damage you take during that phase, lightning will stun you, and cold will slow you. The final phase is basically a stack up, pop healing CD, and blow Bloodlust/Heroism phase. The fight is not terribly complex, but the few mechanics is presents provide a solid challenge to DPS and Healing. I was also happy that the enrage timer on this fight is well tuned for normal, and not too easy.
Next we move up to the Twin Consorts. This encounter has a pretty interesting statue mechanic. There are four statues around the room which will provide your raid a helpful buff when activated. Each statue can be activated a total of 2 times each pull. In addition, to activate the statues you need to send someone into a different realm to draw a star constellation. This particular part of the statue mechanic is not particularly interesting, but the entire idea of having the statues there to provide interesting buffs to the raid is cool. The bosses themselves do not have too many mechanics, and are pretty simple. However, they do put out a lot of damage. This fight will stress your healers at times, but good thing you have the statues to assist you! Finally, the fight provides a small area of raid group strategy variation, because you can choose which boss to kill first, which in turn changes the mechanics you deal with towards the end of the fight. Although not too challenging, it still was not a push over and laid some solid foundation for a really interesting heroic encounter.
Finally, we have made it to the Thunder King, Lei Shen. This is absolutely my favorite encounter this tier. I’m not just saying that because he is the final boss, and it is a common place for the end boss to be a favorite. Lei Shen provides interesting and thought provoking mechanics. This fight really opens the doors for raid guilds to delve deep into theorycraft and decide how they want to deal with the conduits and their abilities. The entire fight is centered around four pillars, or conduits, around the room which Lei Shen is next to them, give him an ability. However, also while he is near the conduit, he will power it up and eventually level it up. The ability’s damage is increase with the power of the conduit, and the ability also increases it’s damage and adds more of it’s effect each time it is leveled up. Then, at 65% and 30% Lei Shen will destroy the conduit with the highest power, eliminating that ability from the fight, but also leveling up the remaining conduits by one level. Due to this, raid groups are free to decide what mechanics to power up initially, what mechanics to eliminate at the transitions, and what mechanics to deal with until the end of the encounter. In addition, although there are recommended “conduit paths”, all are completely doable with the right raid composition, and that is really cool. This entire fight is what makes really good encounters really good. It is not just a linear fight where you deal with X, Y, and Z mechanics. This is a customizable fight where you can theorycraft what mechanics you want to deal with, and what ones you want to get rid of. In addition, beyond just what conduits you want to eliminate at the transitions, you also can decide how much power you want to give each ability during the in between phases. Everything about the encounter is superbly designed by Blizzard, and I am absolutely positive that the heroic version of this fight will be one of my all time favorite WoW fights.
Overall, Blizzard really has done an immaculate job with Throne of Thunder. During Cataclysm I was extraordinarily worried that World of Warcraft raiding was on a never ending decline. The glory days of epic raids was over. However, Blizzard has redeemed themselves with Mists of Pandaria. Tier 14 was a solid tier, with a number of flaws, albeit vastly superior to the raids of Cata. Tier 15 built on this step forward and made one of the best raids ever put out by Blizzard.
Nearly all the fights are interesting and provide a solid challenge for normal mode. The only issue with this raid, in my opinion, is the Tortos encounter. He just is not fun or innovative. He has no real place being in this otherwise perfect instance. Remove Tortos, and Throne of Thunder easily stacks up with the famed Ulduar in terms of raiding greatness.