Post RWF Interview: Echo
The Sepulcher of the First Ones. The longest Race to World First (RWF) in modern history (since Cataclysm in fact). A three-week-long race that saw many guilds get exhausted, take breaks, and switch to only evening raids. Conquered by Echo, who took the World First on The Jailer by a large margin. Was it too long? Were the bosses well tuned? Was the crab the real problem? Today, we chat with the back-to-back World Champions to find the answers to many of our questions, so let’s see what they thought of this RWF!
Table of Contents
- The Length of the Sepulcher RWF
- Outside Assistance
- What if Double Legendaries Came out Week 1?
- The Infamous Halondrus
- Memorable Bosses
- Would Sepulcher Be Better as 2 Instances?
- Notable Moments and Bugs
- The Jailer’s Secret Phase
- The Jailer’s Healing Debuff
- The Jailer Bug
- Overall Review of the Jailer
- Sepulcher: Final Thoughts
“Without a doubt, Sepulcher was one of the most memorable races ever — not just in recent times. Such a long race with so many significant bosses was a very enjoyable journey to be a part of.”
Q-1: Before we go into anything else, let’s talk about the race length a bit: What did you think of it, how did you handle it, did your stamina/endurance help you win, and would you ever want to do another race this long? Also, at what point did you realize it was going to be a 3-week race?
Deepshades: Personally, I liked the length of this tier and preferred it a lot over the usual one-week races that we had in the past two tiers. We have a lot of veterans in the guild that are used to the long races from the past, so I do think we handled it pretty well. I think after Halondrus and/or Anduin, we noticed that it would be a very long tier and I’d love to have more of these kinds of races.
Perfecto: I was getting kind of tired at the end. I was getting sick too — I had a cough and stuff, but hey, we were doing what we love, so I had no reason to complain. There are times where I will miss progress (when farm comes around), so I did my best to savour it for as long as I could; tired or not.
Rycn: Personally, I think the duration of the race was a bit too long. Ideally, it ends before the third reset. Being taken care of at Rcadia definitely helped a lot with dealing with the sheer length of the race.The point where I realized the raid would be a 3-week one was after seeing the HP of pre-nerf Rygelon.
Q-2: How much and what kind of help did you have outside the raid, from analysts, to “bench” players helping out, and total traders in the tier split runs?
Deepshades: Our outside help consisted of:
Chrispotter - Healing CD Assignments + Caller
Grim - WeakAuras/Technical Support
Dradux - WeakAuras/Technical Support
Mombe - BoEs
Daisy - Player Manager
Aenia - Analyst
Essk - Analyst
Truefire - Analyst
Narcolies: This time around benched players would run Heroic raids to get 4-sets for those who might/would be in for a later boss or for a comp change. Meanwhile, the main raiders would do the Mythic raid. Also, we had people sit in Mythic+ all day to gear many classes. For example, I geared my Ret Paladin, Frost DK, and Rogue. I also helped a lot of other players get their Mythic+ only trinkets, such as Fleks’ Warlock in case we wanted to run 4 Warlocks for the last boss.
While the above Tweet is in reference to his performance on Anduin, Narcolies’ from-the-bench contributions were just as worthwhile!
Perfecto: It’s actually incredible how much support we have nowadays. Not only by the amazing people we have helping us with in-game stuff like Grim, Essk, etc., but people at the venue too that were quick to help such as Daisy, Franky, Jasmine etc. Being focused on the game and not having to worry about other things is a blessing we should not take lightly.
Q-3: How would it have affected the race if double legendaries were in from the start, keeping the tuning that we had — would that have made the race a more standard one, length-wise? Would it have improved your opinion of the raid?
Deepshades: The race would’ve been way shorter due to the later bosses being mainly hard damage checks rather than mechanical fights. Halondrus, Anduin, Lords of Dread, and Rygelon would’ve taken half the amount of pulls with double legendaries. I personally liked the fact that we didn’t have our second legendary.
Rycn: Double legendaries would have cut this raid down to a 2 reset raid, with it ending probably around Monday/Tuesday in the second Mythic reset! From a RWF perspective, tuning changes would have needed to be done with instant 2x legendaries because bosses like Rygelon/Anduin would not have been as good as they were. (I wish The Jailer would have required you to play the last Death Sentence dispel).
“Considering Halondrus’ PTR cycle, I expected it to be a boss that would die within 50 pulls. It was a pleasant surprise to see Halondrus turn into the best mid-tier boss I’ve ever played!” —Rycn
Q-4: Was Halondrus worthy of being an endboss? Were you upset that such a hard boss was situated so early in the raid, and did you expect the bosses after it to be easy considering its difficulty level?
Deepshades: I don’t think Halondrus was worthy of being an endboss. We obviously had a lot of wipes, but that was mainly due to ONE mechanic that could wipe you even five seconds into the encounter. Mechanically, apart from that ability, the boss was pretty easy. From a boss design perspective, it was definitely not endboss material.
Narcolies: I don't think anyone was upset that we faced a hard boss early on. I think people just disliked that if 1 guy fails, the entire raid instantly dies with no way of anyone doing any sick plays to fix what went wrong. This was the same situation as in Tomb of Sargeras and Kil’Jaeden, where everyone hated it.
Perfecto: It’s hard to say. I think difficulty-wise, Halondrus would’ve made an excellent end boss, but the fight itself is surprisingly simple and straightforward. The phases and mechanics of Halondrus don’t remind me of an endboss. If anything, the boss should’ve had less HP and been easier. Regardless, it’s an excellent boss overall; it just lacks the identity of an endboss.
Rycn: Considering Halondrus’ PTR cycle, I expected it to be a boss that would die within 50 pulls. It was a pleasant surprise to see Halondrus turn into the best mid-tier boss I’ve ever played!
Tobo: Maybe Halondrus was not endboss quality in terms of the amount of mechanics and fight length; but in terms of difficulty, yes. Even though there were not that many mechanics in total, they were very impactful and important. I didn’t mind Halondrus being earlier in the raid, and I don’t think it really matters as long as the bosses are tuned well. Hard mid-raid bosses like Sludgefist, Painsmith, and Halondrus have been really good this expansion and I hope to see more of them in the future!
Q-5: Which bosses from the raid would you pick as being standout and memorable in the pantheon of WoW bosses through history? Any that could have been truly incredible with some more tuning/a mechanic or two added?
Deepshades: I think Anduin was a very special encounter and had lots of great mechanics and a lot of cool phases. It was a big bummer that the Empowered Wicked Stars were bugged in the first reset. Personally, I also loved the Rygelon design due to the cosmic theme that looked very aesthetically pleasing, and I am always a big fan of these hard damage-check bosses.
Perfecto: I think Rygelon deserves to be up there. It’s unfortunate that the mechanics were a bit forgiving in my opinion. For example, I think the black lines on the floor should’ve been one shots as well as the mines downstairs, while keeping the same tuning on the boss. It would’ve made for a much more punishing encounter overall.
Rycn: Halondrus definitely earned his spot in the pantheon of WoW bosses! Lords of Dread could have used a mechanic for the melee DPS, since they were basically just hitting a target dummy for nearly 10 mins.
Tobo: Halondrus will be very memorable for a long time. Anduin, Rygelon, and The Jailer will be memorable too but I think Halondrus is far above the rest. I think Lords of Dread had potential to be a really good fight. The damage/healing check was done well but the fight design led to hard class stacking of Warriors, Death Knights, and Survival Hunters to be able to meet the damage check. Maybe the fight would have been more enjoyable if there was an additional mechanic or the insects were more frequent (to force more ranged DPS), and the damage amp was applied to all abilities like it is now?
“I think it's pretty clear this raid was intended to be 2 different raids; however, I don’t think Blizzard expected Halondrus to be tuned to such a high difficulty.” —Narcolies
Q-6: Would the Sepulcher have worked better as a 2-part raid or even 2 entirely separate raids? Do you think shorter RWF events with ALL hard bosses would be the way forward?
Deepshades: I think Sepulcher was great as a raid and I am happy that it wasn’t a 2-parter. However, I do think that Blizzard should release a raid every three to four months with fewer bosses but make all of them hard. I think around four to five bosses per raid would be good starting with Anduin’s difficulty level.
Narcolies: I think it's pretty clear this raid was intended to be 2 different raids; however, I don’t think Blizzard expected Halondrus to be tuned to such a high difficulty. I think around 10 days for EU is a good length for a race.
Perfecto: We’ve heard that a lot. I think Anduin, with the Wicked Stars working correctly and maybe a little more HP, would’ve made for a good endboss. This would have made you play the Phase 3 properly and for longer, thus upping the difficulty and letting you play the phases longer. Getting accustomed to the mechanics of a fight the more you progress on it is a vital part of RWF, so things like Anduin’s Phase 3 and steamrolling through a phase can be disappointing.
Tobo: I personally would’ve preferred 2 raids with a shorter gap between them. The mid-tier bosses are nice too but it could be interesting to have smaller raids with harder bosses on average. The trend for the raids this expansion generally seems like 1 mid tier boss and the end boss were hard and had high pull counts, whereas most other bosses had lower pull-counts (with some outliers such as this tier having 4 very high pull-count bosses).
Q-7: On the day you killed The Jailer, there were two big moments that got everyone asking “WHAT?!” — The Defile despawn, and the closed pillar holes during bomb phase. What were your reactions to these moments and how did they affect you?
Deepshades: Scripe knew how the Defile despawn worked after the first time seeing it so it wasn’t anything special for us. However, the closed pillar phasing tilted us for a short moment. Ultimately though, I wouldn’t say that these issues affected us in any way. You just keep playing after these kinds of tries.
Perfecto: It was kind of whatever. If I’m honest, the last 3 bosses were surprisingly bug-free for the most part, so having something like that pop up was not particularly shocking.
“There were some hints of a secret phase from the datamined abilities — especially since the abilities got changed in some builds during the race. I wasn’t fully convinced until the Phase 3 damage check was really hard to get to 10%, and then it seemed pretty obvious.” —Tobo
Q-8: Did you assume there was a secret phase from the start? Was the datamining from the Wowhead posts relevant to you at all? If so, did you do any planning based on the datamined abilities?
Deepshades: Initially, I thought there would be a secret phase, but with the boss’s HP going lower and nothing happening, I kind of gave up on that dream. Thankfully though, the secret phase did happen in the end. The datamining was definitely relevant for us.
Perfecto: I think we all kind of expected there to be a secret phase the closer we got to it. Especially because if the boss actually died at 0%, it wasn’t looking like it was possible with our gear, or at least, it felt like it. We really weren’t close, but of course we could always optimize our damage. Once we got used to the fight more, I could’ve had a different opinion. The fact of the matter is, the boss would’ve been too hard with that enrage in mind, so we kind of knew something else had to happen before that.
Tobo: There were some hints of a secret phase from the datamined abilities — especially since the abilities got changed in some builds during the race. I wasn’t fully convinced until the Phase 3 damage check was really hard to get to 10%, and then it seemed pretty obvious. The datamining meant that we could plan around the abilities in advance.
Q-9: The secret phase healing debuff. When and how did you find out about it (since you only introduced the Arms Warrior into your comp later on in your attempts)? Do you think Blizzard would have removed that option or not put it in in the first place if the race wasn’t dragging on too long? If they had, how much longer do you think it would have taken you to down The Jailer?
Deepshades: Apparently, Justwait found out early on that Mortal Strike (MS) works but didn’t escalate it enough. Then, either on our kill day or the day before, Scripe mentioned it as well. I think Blizzard intended to have MS working from the start (according to some interview) and, even if it didn’t work, I don’t think we would’ve taken much longer. I believe we would’ve killed the boss the following day as long as there weren’t super bad overlaps or anything.
Perfecto: We instantly knew about the boss healing thing. Honestly, I thought it was a bug that would be fixed pretty fast — especially when we first saw it. I actually forgot that it was a thing for a few days after. It’s such a gimmick, like, they must’ve forgotten. But hey, I won’t complain that it worked the whole time. The boss would’ve been much harder, and we probably would have been there a few more days. I think we were all too exhausted from such a long race, the devs included, and that was the reason why Blizzard left it in. Otherwise, why would it be a requirement to have a strong Mortal Strike effect in your raid? It’s such a big advantage.
Q-10: What do you think of the bug that has been used by most guilds after your kill, where the Jailer only heals for 1%? What do you think of Blizzard’s decision to basically just let it be once it started happening, and especially after guilds started causing it on purpose?
Deepshades: Honestly, I don’t care too much. The race was long enough so it’s nice that the other guilds can take a shortcut and get done with it as well. Since everyone could “abuse” the bug, it was still a fair race. I think it was probably the best decision by Blizzard to keep it in.
Perfecto: I think there were multiple factors that came into play with Blizzard’s thinking. At first, I thought they just dropped the ball. They weren’t quick to fix the bug, and there was a kill with it. After that, it would’ve been too much of a hassle to remove the kill and have them re-progress the boss. Factoring in how long the progress was for everyone, I think Blizzard did the right thing by not fixing it and letting guilds kill it like that.
Rycn: Personally, I think Blizzard should have intervened. They basically just skipped the entire secret phase. I understand though that people just wanted to be out of progression prison.
Q-11: What do you think of the Jailer fight overall, and would you have preferred it without the MS/Warlock heal debuff as a boss, regardless of race duration?
Deepshades: Honestly, the Jailer combined all the mechanics WoW players usually dislike. Line of Sight, Mind Control, and losing uptime by jumping in a hole for several seconds. Apart from these mechanics, I do think the fight had a great flow to it. Phase 3 was a lot of fun. I am fine with how the MS thing worked but I obviously don’t know how the fight would’ve played out if it didn’t. Regardless, I don’t think it made a big difference.
Rycn: I think the fight was okay. They just broke the unspoken rule of not using forced CC mechanics (Phase 1 Runes + Phase 2 Runes). It's just not fun to not play your character without having any influence. Overall, you didn’t have to play insane on The Jailer to kill it because it was tuned for 1 legendary.
Tobo: The Line of Sight and Mind Control mechanics are always tilting for players. People complained about them before on Queen Azshara as an example, and it just felt the same on the Jailer. Having to delay cooldowns or having cooldowns fully trolled by a certain timing never feels good. Phase 3 of the Jailer and onwards was really good, it was just the annoying mechanics earlier in the fight that let it down.
“Overall, I would say that Sepulcher was the best race in the last two expansions and worthy of being the last raid for Shadowlands.” —Deepshades
Q-12: Overall, with its length, crabs, splits, warts and all, how would you rate the Sepulcher? And how would you rate the bosses and tuning, separate from all the other issues of the race itself?
Deepshades: Overall, I would say that Sepulcher was the best race in the last two expansions and worthy of being the last raid for Shadowlands. The boss tuning was great and the later bosses had especially cool themes and mechanics to them. So all in all, I would say Blizzard did a fantastic job.
Perfecto: Without a doubt, Sepulcher was one of the most memorable races ever — not just in recent times. Such a long race with so many significant bosses was a very enjoyable journey to be a part of.
Rycn: All in all, I give it a solid 7/10. Boss tuning 9/10: Rygelon could have had 1-2% more HP + The Jailer was clearly tuned for 1 Legendary. Sadly, we didn't get to experience the boss with that since we already had 2 legendaries by that point, but it would have been a banger! Boss Design 8.5/10: Super fun raid, just a small deduction for the forced CC mechanics on Lords of Dread and The Jailer!
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About the Authors
Starym is an old-school raider with a wide history of World Firsts under his belt. He is a long-time news writer and interviewer for Icy Veins and formerly Manaflask. Having raided in the Race to World First (RWF) until the end of The Burning Crusade, he has been covering the events since Cataclysm and the RWF has become his greatest passion in WoW. A (Tauren, obviously) Warrior main at heart, when pushed, he will admit to loving Diablo more than WoW and, thus, should be punished.
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.