My guild isn't really known for doing raid achievements. We might go for a few of them, we might not. Whether or not we do depends on how far out of reach the achievement is and whether or not there's loot involved. But 4-manning Sarth has got to be nuttiest way to earn Less is More, which is what I did last night.
Apparently one night some of my guildies had done a 5-man Sarth because they couldn't get enough people for a 10-man and decided to try anyway. They succeeded and said it really wasn't all that hard, so they thought they'd try again this week.
Problem was... there was even less interest. We mostly run Ulduar these days and OS/Naxx/EoE runs are typically limited to alts. In actuality, there was only one person who really wanted to go and the rest of us who went were roped into the job because that's what happens when you're not just guildies, but friends too.
The disc priest pulled in a feral druid, a survival hunter, and me (on my paladin). I'm normally holy, but switched to my prot off-spec so we'd have a second tank, so our group make-up was really two tanks, one dps, and one healer. I'd say that's pretty close to the bear minimum you can get away with without resorting to some crazy stuff. (I think it could be possible to 3-man Sarth with the right hybrid dps also acting as the OT, but I don't want to think about how long that would take.)
We cleared all the trash, just the four of us, and it was pretty lethal. We wiped on our first pull. The dragonkin packs are murderous for an undermanned team. Normally raids don't worry about those flaming spheres and just heal through the damage, but with only one healer and one dps (so the mobs died much slower) this wasn't practical so the druid and I kited the dragons away from the flame spheres whenever they spawned.
I would have to use Divine Protection at some point in every pull, guaranteed, and even used Lay on Hands to keep myself alive. After a couple of those awful dragonkin packs it dawned on us that I really should have my Fire Resistance Aura up instead of Devotion. Preventing the damage in the first place would be much more useful than the extra armor and healing.
Fortunately, it turns out that our first wipe was the only wipe of the night (though I did die during the second dragonkin pull, which is what promptly the fire resist discussion).
The big drakonoid pairs were less trouble. Initially the druid would grab one and I the other, which is traditional for clearing OS, but because there was no one else to de-curse we changed it up so we could kill them faster. (Even undermanned, we did have the dps to burn through the healing, but that was taking too long for our patience.)
We decided I would tank both of them so the druid could de-curse and dps in kitty form. It still took a few minutes to down each pair, but not nearly as long as if we'd tried the burn without de-cursing method. The priest also found it much easier to heal a single tank rather than two of them.
The drakes themselves were fairly straightforward, with only a mild adaptation of existing strats.
For Vesperon, the druid tanked the drake and when the portal opened up I would wait for be shielded and then the hunter and I would jump through the portal and kill the acolyte, knowing I wouldn't get healed again until we killed him. This did not turn out to be an issue. The dps was good and I used Judgement of Light to give myself a small health return. I usually came out a little over half health.
We had to jump in more times than we would with a full 10-man raid, but we never felt in any danger, even though we had less than half the people we were supposed to.
Tenebron was a different story. We thought this one would be relatively simple, and in a way it was. We planned to do this one just like in a normal 10-man. Druid would tank the boss and I'd drop a Consecrate to pick up the whelp adds.
Everything went as expected except for the fact that we had a lot of adds because we didn't have the dps to kill the boss fast enough to prevent more than one spawn. We had a full three or four waves of whelps on us by the end and cut it really close. I had one of those crazy moments where I almost died, time was slowing down, and I didn't know how we were going to make it, but I found my Lay on Hands about the same time the priest hit me with Pain Suppression.
We ended the fight with the druid and I hovering around 10-15% health and somehow no one died. Not a single whelp had gotten free, but there were so many of them our druid ended up eating a couple void zones just because he couldn't see where he was standing. I remember calling out over vent "Blackleaf! Void!" out of fear he would eat it so bad we wouldn't be able to recover.
As crazy as the Tenebron fight was, Shadron was the drake that proved to be the most mind-numbing, due to the fact he goes immune with his acolyte was up. We knew we would repeat the jumping in and out of the portal that we did with Vesperon, but because of how long it would take to kill the add, and because of Shadron's immunity, we generally would only get a few seconds of uninterupted dps between portals. It took us about 14 minutes just to kill this guy and by the end of it we wanted to stab our eyes out.
Like Vesperon, we didn't get any feeling of danger with Shadron. It just took so long... and by this time we'd been in Obsidian Sanctum for about an hour. I didn't say anything at the time (for which the priest later said he was grateful), but I realized that we'd been in here so long that if we wiped on Sartharion all the trash packs would probably respawn.
The priest said the last time he'd come for the 5-man it had taken them about 12 minutes to kill Sarth, and with one less dps it wouldn't be surprising if it took us longer. He'd actually become more skeptical about our chances after having cleared all the trash and the drakes because he said that 4-man OS was turning out much, much harder than 5-man. The loss of the extra dps really hurt.
Still, we were going to give it a shot. The druid was going to take Sarth, and I'd grab the adds. By this time it was 1am, I was getting pretty tired, and add duty on Sartharion is one of the crappiest tanking jobs there is, but hey...
We ran in, let the druid position the boss, and opened up with our dps.
Doing Sarth with four people is much the same as with ten. Dodge lava waves. Pick up the little fire elementals that spawn everywhere except where you'd like them to be. The exception was that when I got enough adds on me I was supposed to drag them over to Sarth to make sure that the hunter could hit the boss while simultaneously AoE-ing the elementals.
I got carried off by lava waves twice over the course of the fight, which I largely blame on the fact it was past 1am, but since it wasn't a drakes up fight, the damage wasn't as bad and the priest said afterwards that in all honesty he hadn't noticed.
No doubt due to all the pummeling I was taking anyway from the elementals.
After about twelve minutes, the same amount of time as the previous 5-man run, we downed Sartharion. For our trouble we got a [Dragon Hide Bag] (given to the priest, who was the only person who didn't have it), [Crimson Steel] (given to the hunter because no one else could use it), [Gloves of the Last Vanquisher] (given to the druid for off-set purposes), and the requisite [Satchel of Spoils] (which I won on a greed roll).
Unfortunately the [Majestic Dragon Figurine] the priest had wanted didn't drop, so I have a feeling he's going to be asking for more Sartharion runs in the future, but I think after last night the four of us were in agreement that even though we did have a lot fun, let's never 4-man Sarth again.