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Raider.IO Riddle Solution: Heart of Fear



The answer to this week’s Raider.IO Raid Riddle is…Heart of Fear!



In the current Race to World First (RWF) of Sepulcher of the First Ones, the very first boss of the instance, Vigilant Guardian, took over 24 hours to defeat (shoutout to The Early Shift). Although many top guilds started off Mythic week with split runs of Normal and Heroic Sepulcher for tier pieces, RWF competitors noted that this was the first time in a long while that we have seen the first boss of a raid tier survive so long on its highest difficulty.



Fans were quick to point out that the last times we’ve seen a first boss survive the 24 hour mark were Battle for Azeroth’s (BFA) Restless Cabal in Crucible of Storms, and Mists of Pandaria’s (MOP) Imperial Vizier Zor'lok in Heart of Fear.

However, it is worth noting that Restless Cabal was one of only two bosses in that entire raid instance, so the instance was designed to be quite challenging. Restless Cabal lasted a little over 24 hours for NA players, and then fell at the hands of SK Pieces on the first day of the RWF on EU servers. In contrast, it took nearly 3 days for Imperial Vizier Zor’lok to die in the Heart of Fear. Therefore, in the spirit of the Sepulcher RWF, we couldn’t resist making Heart of Fear the subject of this week’s riddle.

Want to know the full breakdown of our most challenging riddle to date? Hint: the biggest key to the puzzle lies in a bit of wordplay. Read on to learn more!



Background



THE LORE


Heart of Fear brings us back to the glorious MOP – an expansion filled with interesting raids and plentiful content all around. Heart of Fear saw heroes enter its trenches to unseat the dangerous Grand Empress Shek'zeer — the queen of the mantids. Grand Empress Shek’zeer had become increasingly erratic and paranoid, as she was possessed by the Sha of Fear.


“Grand Empress Shek'zeer.” Source: MAGGamer6407 on Wowhead


The mantids were a threatening force throughout the history of Pandaria. In fact, the widespread fear of the mantids was so strong that it motivated armies to form, and walls to be built to protect Pandaria from the swarm. Although the mantids were generally ruthless and dangerous, there was a faction of mantid elders called the Klaxxi who split off from the corrupted mantid empire. The Klaxxi identified Grand Empress Shek’zeer as a severe threat, so they reluctantly reached out to adventurers for assistance to end her rule.



MEMORABLE BOSSES


Despite Heart of Fear being a relatively short raid instance of 6 bosses, it housed two particularly unique encounters: Garalon and Amber-Shaper Un’sok.

Garalon was memorable because it was not tanked in a typical fashion. Instead, the boss would apply a Pheromones debuff to whoever pulled the boss. This debuff dealt constantly increasing damage to the raid, and had to be handed over to another player once its damage became too high to manage. The boss would chase the player with the Pheromones debuff, so the kiting player needed to ensure that the space of the room was used efficiently. Sooner or later, the debuff had to be passed to another player by being within 2 yards of that person, and the raid-damage would reset. Furthermore, the boss’s only "tank soak" mechanic required at least 2 people to get hit by the periodic frontal effect to avoid Garalon entering a state of Fury.

While all of this was happening, the boss also had 4 extra “adds” that needed to be killed — his legs. As long as players were close to one of his legs, they would deal 100% increased damage to that leg. This resulted in a lot of big DPS numbers and was one of the reasons why melee DPS greatly enjoyed this encounter. The legs needed to be broken quickly, as doing so would slow the boss to a point where kiting him became much easier. It was only on Heroic difficulty that the boss gained a regular “tanking” phase once he reached 33% health.


Source: Method


Amber-Shaper Un’sok had some interesting management requirements of its own. Throughout the fight, the boss would pick a “random” player and transform them into a Mutated Construct. The selection was not entirely random, as Amber Shaper would pick the third or fourth highest threat player — either the third tank or one of the highest DPS players. This would replace the player's skill-bar and give them a massive amount of health — but they were rendered hostile to the rest of the raid group during this time.

Becoming a Mutated Construct granted the player 3 different abilities that were key to dealing with the encounter. One ability allowed the player to clean up the Burning Amber pools that were spawning all over the room. Another ability, Struggle for Control, was needed to interrupt the Amber Explosion that the Construct would cast by itself. Players failing to interrupt themselves in their mutated form would almost certainly lead to a wipe. The last ability, Amber Strike, was required to actually kill the boss. However, if the player did not Break Free of the Construct quickly enough (which required the party to damage this player under 20% health), they would lose control of their character for the rest of the encounter.

In Phase 2, the boss would spawn an Amber Monstrosity that needed to be killed to start Phase 3. The Monstrosity would also cast Amber Explosion, which could only be interrupted with Amber Strike. Additionally, Amber Strike applied a stacking damage amplification debuff on the target. Perfect usage of this ability would allow players to not only interrupt the cast when needed, but also build stacks on the boss himself.

Once the Monstrosity was killed, Phase 3 would begin. This is where the fun really began. Amber-Shaper Un’sok would transform individual players much more rapidly, and he had to be killed before the transformed players would wipe the raid upon losing control over “themselves”. The damage amplification on the boss from Amber Strike would easily reach 500-600% increased damage taken. While some people desperately wanted to become the Mutated Construct because it offered some variety to their regular gameplay, others never wanted to be chosen so that they could see the biggest possible numbers on their abilities and combat logs. To put this into perspective, check out Blood Legion’s world first Amber-Shaper Un’sok kill video below:



Source: ZoomkinsBL


As shown in the video, the boss already had 20 stacks of the Amber Strike debuff in Phase 3, meaning that every DPS player dealt 200% increased damage. Once raiding guilds further optimized the strategy for this encounter, they could easily reach a 600-700% damage increase in the final phase!

Both Garalon and Amber-Shaper Un’sok were remembered fondly years after Mists of Pandaria concluded. Steering a big bug around or watching a bunch of mind-controlled Mutated Constructs rail on a boss were memorable features — but the fact that players could reach much higher damage numbers than the “norm” was an especially strong selling point. Everybody likes seeing big crits!



FUN FACTS


As mentioned in our introduction to this article, everyone competing in the RWF of Heart of Fear remembers the fateful encounter with pre-nerf Imperial Vizier Zor'lok. In fact, Imperial Vizier Zor’lok became so famous that someone set up a meme Twitter account in his honor. After nearly a full day since the Heroic instance opened on NA servers, Blizzard hit Zor’lok with a series of nerfs. However, it still took Zor’lok a total of nearly 3 days to die before falling at the hands of Method on 25-man Heroic.

Thankfully, the difficulty level of Zor’lok seemed to receive a positive response from top raiders, as they enjoyed the challenge:

“Well, it seems the ‘nerfs’ were actually needed and they didn't go too far, so Blizzard really did a great job with it, making the boss possible but not too easy. The reaction from top guilds has been very positive.” —Starym




Source: Method


Imperial Vizier Zor’lok wasn’t the only interesting thing about the RWF for Heart of Fear. According to our resident raid historian, Starym, the most significant aspect about the RWF for Heart of Fear was that it was technically the first time since Blackwing Lair that a North American guild snagged the world first title. In fact, the next time an American guild achieved a world first end boss did not occur again until Ny’alotha, when Liquid (formerly Complexity-Limit) made their historic world first debut.

Watch Blood Legion’s world first kill video of Empress Shek’zeer below!


Source: Blood Legion




The Breakdown



Deep in an earth that lives and breathes, a ravenous force has sown its seeds. When facing a ruler whose unrest has grown, sometimes the mightiest can’t fare alone.



Deep within a large rotting tree growing in the Dread Wastes, the mantids reside in the Heart of Fear, serving the Grand Empress Shek’zeer.


Entrance to Heart of Fear


The line lives and breathes was given to us by our friend, Tsuxdxd, when we were first crafting our Heart of Fear riddle. But what does it mean? After asking our Raider.IO colleagues for further insights on the exact origins of this phrase, MarianasTrench foggily recalled the opening questline for the land of Pandaria in perfect Brewmaster Monk fashion:

“When we first arrived in Pandaria, the Horde and Alliance fought. At least on the Alliance side of things, we ended up being ordered to shoot the Horde that were unarmed/surrendering because of the angry admiral person. At that moment, we were told by one of the Shado-pan that the land there is different, and that it is alive. I can't remember the exact phrasing or quest because it has been many years and I like beer, but this was definitely part of the Alliance opener to Pandaria if nothing else.”


Despite Marianas’ beer-induced memory, he was right on point:



The line, “a ravenous force has sown its seeds” is used to characterize several things. Firstly, the Grand Empress Shek’zeer drops a pet called a Ravenous Prideling that players can add to their arsenal of companions. Secondly, Shek’zeer is possessed by the Sha of Fear. The Sha planted the insidious seeds of madness into Shek’zeer’s mind, causing her to become restless, paranoid, and erratic in her command of the mantid.



In fact, the word unrest is indicated in red because it was used to potentially steer people into guessing Emerald Nightmare for this riddle. However, our usage of unrest is to indicate Grand Empress Shek’zeer’s growing anxiety.

The word mightiest refers to the formidable mantid swarm. The mantids represent an advanced civilization that tends to look down upon others. However, the dangers presented by Shek’zeer’s rule forced the Klaxxi to seek outside help for once, as they could not fare alone in this endeavor.



THE KEY TO THE RIDDLE


Due to similarities between Heart of Fear, Emerald Nightmare, and several other raids that could potentially be described by our riddle, the biggest key to the puzzle lies in a bit of wordplay: If you unscramble the letters of earth and fare, you get “heart” and “fear”. 😈

While there were no winners for the Heart of Fear riddle this week, honorable mentions go out to Charles Doug Minor (Facebook), @rebound_ttv (Instagram), @meineche97, @EasyBreezier, and MrGoober814’s wife, for guessing Emerald Nightmare, which was close!



Don’t forget to tune in next week on our Twitter to crack another Raider.IO Riddle!



Links




About the Authors


VitaminP (VP) is the Lead Editor & Assistant Producer of Raider.IO and has worked for the organization since the formation of the News Section in November 2018. Although VP is currently focused on pursuing her Masters of Business Administration, she specializes in tanking classes and has loved doing competitive Mythic+ on and off since early Legion.


Seliathan has been playing Rogue for over half his life, since the initial release of WoW over 16 years ago. After a long career of Raid Leading, Theorycrafting, and pushing Mythic+, Seliathan enjoys creating all kinds of PvE content on Twitch, co-hosting the Tricks of the Trade Rogue podcast, contributing to the Raider.IO RWF Coverage, and writing guides for Icy Veins.