Heroic Dragon Soul: a bit of math on doing it the hard way

Recently, my guild’s been doing sell runs to gather some gold in preparation for Mists of Pandaria. In other words, people pay us a decent chunk of gold and we run them through heroic Dragon Soul, giving them all the loot they want that we don’t need (which by now is most of it – if the RNG plays nice, it’s quite possible for them to walk out with almost a full kit of BiS gear) and, if they pay extra gold, also giving them the Life-Binder’s Handmaiden mount at the end. (We also sell the Pureblood Fire Hawk mount from Ragnaros, since we run Firelands pretty much every week anyway for Dragonwrath bits, but that’s not what this post is about.)

Today, we had a sell run scheduled. However, some of our members couldn’t attend due to RL issues – add to that some people off on holidays and we had 7 people who could raid, 8 counting a social who doesn’t do terrific DPS. What’s a guild to do? Canceling the sell run would make us look bad… ah, what the hell, let’s just go like we are, 9 of us counting the social and the buyer.

We already knew everything up to and including Blackhorn wasn’t going to be an issue (since we’d 8-manned it with the aforementioned social in the raid a few weeks ago), but we were unsure what would happen on the last two bosses, especially Spine.

Turns out we shouldn’t have worried quite so much.

Here’s the damage done on Burning Tendons (the only damage metric that matters on Spine) for our kill today:

1 and 2 are proper DPS. 3 is me – I was tanking the blood, but I was using a hybrid cat/bear spec and I went cat for both passes on the first two tendons (our amalgamation tank taunted the handful of blood we had alive off of me so I could do that). 4 is the buyer, 5 is our social – added together, they work out to one single decent DPS. 6 is a smite-spec disc priest healer, 7 is our amalgamation tank, 8 is our druid healer and 9 is our paladin healer. This adds up to roughly 22.7 million damage.

On our first Spine kill, we had two mages doing 6.22 million damage each, a ret paladin doing 5.41 million, an enhancement shaman doing 4.37 million damage, a hunter doing 4.48 million, me doing 3.32 million, a smite-spec disc priest doing 1.18 million, our other tank (who was taking blood) doing 319k and our shaman healer doing 292k. This adds up to roughly 31.8 million damage.

That is roughly 9.1 million damage worth of difference – the 30% health the nerf takes off the health of the Burning Tendons. Give 2.3 million damage or so to both the buyer and the social, to turn them into the two good DPS doing 4.6 million or so that we would’ve taken if we were doing a 0% run, and give the other 4.55 million or so to the DPS spot we had left empty.

In other words, if a 10-man group can kill Spine with the nerf switched off, you can subtract two DPS from the raid and switch the 30% nerf on – and they’ll still be able to clear the encounter. If anything, it’ll be easier when compared to a 10-man no-nerf run, because everybody in the raid will be taking 30% less damage.

Similarly, here’s the damage meter from our Madness kill today (you can tell who is who – our priest went shadow and we two-healed it):

On our first, no-nerf kill, our DPS (counting me, since I was playing hybrid tank/DPS and spent most of the time in cat form killing stuff) did 54.07, 53.45, 52.62, 52.14, 48.15, 45.16 and 42.76 million damage. Our second tank and our two healers added, respectively, 28.27, 4.61 and 1.25 million damage. That’s a total of 382.48 million damage.

The damage we did today, discounting the negligible damage the buyer did (since we told him to just hit something once then jump off and die), adds up to roughly 273.29 million damage – 109.19 million, roughly the 30% the nerf takes off, less than what we had to do on our first kill.

Give 10 million to the social to bring him up to the level of a good DPS we would’ve brought to a no-nerf kill, split the remainder to get a pair of ~50 million damage players rather than the buyer and the empty spot, and you have the same thing – a 10-man group that can kill Madness HM with the nerf switched off can switch the nerf on and bring two less DPS and still clear the encounter.

Additionally, the timing of the encounter – by which I mean when and how fast things die – will work in much the same way. This wasn’t really noticeable on Spine, but it very much was on Madness. We skipped the second Impale on the first platform but took all the rest; on the last platform, the Mutated Corruption was on ~15% when the blood spawned – at which point we AoEd the blood on it and killed it, then finished off the blood, then the last Parasite spawned and was taken care of; in phase 2, we killed the 5% blood and finished off Deathwing with around 15 seconds to go to berserk. Our first kill lasted 14 minutes 36 seconds; today’s kill, 14 minutes 43 seconds – a bit slower, due to the social not being stellar on damage.

We’ve been asked, sometimes, why we switched off the nerf for all our first kills. And well – this is why. So we have the skill and knowledge to pull off something like this. So we can rise to the challenge whenever it’s necessary. So when Mists of Pandaria lands, and we are racing against all other guilds in the world to clear the content, we’re not at a disadvantage.

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