Showing posts with label Raids. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Raids. Show all posts

19.7.12

Sightseeing and Raiding Achievements

"The distinction between the past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion." - Albert Einstein
Perhaps one of the more lamentable facts of life when it comes to World of Warcraft raiding is that as each new tier of content comes out, the raids and dungeons of previous tiers tend to get quickly abandoned like an awkwardly phrased metaphor. This phenomena typically gets worse the older a raid is until the only time people will visit is to do the raiding equivalent of sightseeing. Now that's all fine and good if the purpose is simply to revisit a raid that has been completed previously for the sake of nostalgia, but what about someone going in to see a dungeon for the first time?

There are some magnificently complex and wonderful encounters in these old raids. The truly sad thing is that the typical sightseer will go in as an overlevelled and overgeared wrecking machine and rip through these old bosses with the same level of delicacy as it would take to open a Chunky Soup can with a stick of dynamite. Bosses die and encounters are completed with no regard to the very mechanics and elements that make the fights actually interesting. The end result is that the player smacks around some poor, lonely, underpowered bosses and gets the achievement for completing the raid, but doesn't actually experience or understand the raid on anything but the most superficial level. It's rather like going to Paris and never leaving the McDonalds in the airport; you get the stamp on your passport to say you've been there but can't really say much other than the hamburgers are awful.

Sadly, this essentially renders the Raid achievements and the titles that are associated with them meaningless.

Take my Shaman and Paladin as examples. My shaman wears the Starcaller title for defeating Algalon. She got it long after Ulduar was relevant, as an 85 in a full raid of level 85s. I defeated the encounter but really don't have an appreciation of what the fight is all about, nor does the title have any true emotional value; it just looks neat.

My Paladin, Thosif, on the other hand, typically wears his Kingslayer title with pride. I earned that title with my previous guild Shadowgarde through a lot of hard work and effort while the encounter was still the pinnacle of raiding (Halion just doesn't count and everybody knows it). The title and the achievement have meaning to me precisely because I feel that I earned them. The fact that a person can take a group of 85s and blitz their way through Icecrown Citadel in an hour and get the title makes it feel a little less special as well; I know I earned it, but others would probably just assume I got it the easy way.

Now, before anyone gets huffy and starts calling me an elitist, this is just how I feel about it personally. There are lots of reasons that people like going into old raids and dungeons at high levels, and I am certainly don't want to take anyone's fun away. But for me, the thrill of raiding comes from the challenge, and if I'm going to experience a raid for the first time, that's how I'd prefer to see it.

The obvious problem is that it's virtually impossible to get a group of people at the appropriate level in the appropriate gear together at the same time to run an old raid. Very few people will halt their levelling progress on a new alt long enough to gear him to run a raid, and even if someone did it's unlikely that they would be able to find enough other people who were doing that at the same time. It comes down to motivation: There simply is no incentive to do an older raid at the proper level. It's much simpler to either get a guildmate or two to run your alt through it, or wait until you're maximum level.



THE TEMPLATE: HERALD OF THE TITANS

There is, however, one singular achievement (technically a Feat of Strength) that a sightseeing raider can't get: Herald of the Titans. This little gem of an achievement requires a player to be the appropriate level as well as have the appropriate gear for the encounter. No overpowered tourists allowed.

This title is unique in that it is only available for a limited time while a character is level 80 and once you've passed that threshold you're out of luck on that character. If you want the title now, you're going to have to pause your XP, gear up your level 80 alt and find a group willing to go with you and kill the encounter the old fashioned way.

In essence, what this achievement does is make this single old raid encounter permanently relevant.

This achievement is not new—it's been around since Ulduar itself—but as we move into the new expansion I think it can give Blizzard a template for future raids. Why couldn't each new raid tier have a meta achievement with similar requirements to Herald of the Titans, each one with a unique and desirable vanity reward such as a mount or pet? The players that are running it while it's current would get it as a matter of course, but it could give people reasons to run the previous tier with their alts using the proper gear even after it is no longer the cutting edge. This would allow people to get the feeling of Burning Crusade and Vanilla raiding (of having to progress through each tier sequentially) if they want it, but would not actually require anyone to do it if they didn't feel like it.

And while we're on the subject, why couldn't Blizzard add similar achievements to older raids? Why not bring the Hand of Adal title back, but require that only a level 70 in a level 70 raid group could get it? How difficult would it be to reinstate the Immortal and Undying titles from Naxxramas with a character and item level restriction? What would be the effect of a Karazahn achievement that awards a miniature Wolfman or Strawman pet? Would there be a massive move towards creating level 70 raiding teams on Twitter to farm this beloved raid instance? If the rewards were unique enough, the hardcore would likely start frothing at the mouth to get alts to the proper level to get them.

Hell, a new Lady Vashj title might even make Kurn resubscribe for Mists.

Blizzard has made a big fuss about making sure that there is lots of things to do at maximum level, but adding a couple of these little achievements and rewards scattered through the beloved and excellent older content would give people things to do before max level that are equally important to do. Right now, the content is massively weighted towards the maximum level, and that is by design, but that also means that—by design—there is a massive amount of content that the vast majority of people will never get a chance to experience properly.

With the advent of Cross-Realm Raiding and soon Cross-Realm Zones there will potentially be lots of players who might be interested in halting their levelling progression on an alt in order to do some older raiding for their one shot at a unique reward. It may help remove the pressure to level as quickly as possible just so that there's something that they can do with their friends, and allow people to stop, smell the roses and actually experience the content that's out there in this big, virtual world of ours.


15.2.12

An End to Madness

Deathwing is dead.

Actually, he's been dead for a couple of weeks now. I'm just damned tardy in my progression updates these days.

My guild, Mountain Top, cleared normal Dragon Soul for the first time just before the 5% Power of the Aspects nerf hit at the end of January. Sadly, I wasn't there due to a family crisis, but I'm proud that our guild managed to down Dragon Soul before it's difficulty was reduced. And we managed it despite losing key members of the team and not having a regular raid night.

Did I mention we're recruiting?

I got my own first Deathwing kill on the first week after the nerfs, and am going in again tonight for my third. We've also begun working on Heroic Morchok, whom we got down to 10% on our first night before time constraints forced us to kill him on normal difficulty so we had enough time left to clear the instance that night.

At the beginning of this expansion I set a raiding goal for myself; I wanted to clear each raiding tier while it was current, something that I didn't manage to do in Wrath of the Lich King. With Deathwing's demise at the hands of my Shaman I have now managed to accomplish that on the last two of the three raiding tiers this expansion.

I view Raiding Progression as a very personal thing. As much as I share the accomplishments with my guild and couldn't do it without them, I look at the raid bosses I've downed as my measuring stick as to how well I've experienced the content and how I am personally progressing. I was enormously disappointed that I didn't clear all of Tier 11 while it was current, only going 9/12; I didn't get Nefarian or either of the Throne of the Four Winds encounters down before 4.2 brought the nerfbat to them. Despite that disappointment, I'm very happy to have accomplished what I have done.



ON DIFFICULTY

I promised myself that I would not make this post a discussion on the difficulty level but I need to at least mention that compared to Lich King, Nefarian or Ragnaros, Madness of Deathwing was a hell of a lot easier. It didn't take my guild very many attempts to finally kill him. I think I saw about five pulls on normal difficulty before I got my first kill. Even Ragnaros after the savage nerfs that he received seemed more difficult than Madness.

The question that I pose to you, dear reader, is: Was the Madness of Deathwing encounter inherently easier than previous end boss encounters, or did it simply seem easier because the vast majority of us had already seen and defeated a simplified version of it on the Raid Finder?



18.1.12

Cross Realm Raiding and Crystal Ball Gazing


“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it.”
 - Norman Maclean
Looming quite close, just over the metaphorical digital horizon, is Patch 4.3.2. A minor patch with a few tweaks, a few fixes and one new feature that, had it come a year ago, would have sent the WoW community into a frothy orgy of excitement: Cross-Realm Raiding.

People have been clamouring for the ability to Raid with their friends on different servers for ages, and it seemed like an idea that was inevitable ever since the cross-realm Looking For Dungeon system was introduced in Patch 3.3. And, of course, Patch 4.3 introduced the Looking For Raid system which allows raiding Dragon Soul with random cross-server people at a unique difficulty level. 

But what LFR does not address is the ability to form Raids to tackle normal and heroic difficulty modes with people who are not on your server. And while the current raid tier, Dragon Soul, will not be available initially, that's what this new Cross-Realm Raid system is designed to do.


KINDA LIKE KISSING YOUR SISTER

Unfortunately, excluding Dragon Soul leaves me a bit underwhelmed with cross-realm raiding. There will be no scouring Twitter to find a last minute replacement to fill in for your Mage who is being rushed to the hospital with alcohol poisoning leaving you one short for your regular raid night. No cross-server guild partnerships to form a 25-man raid out of two 10-man guilds. No Dragon Soul All-Star Raiding Dream Teams will form up spontaneously to crush the heroic modes.

Portrait of a Pissed-off Dragon Aspect
No, without the ability to run the current raid in a cross-server group, this feature will be an afterthought, and is probably the reason that it seems to have been welcomed by the WoW community with a resounding wave of meh

What it can be used for is to join LFR with a larger group than was previously available (yes, it's Dragon Soul, but only the watered down version), join a Battleground as a premade group, and to run through older tiers of raiding content.

Very useful stuff, and I think that the Battlegrounds feature especially will be used a lot. However, the system will never live up to it's potential until the current raid tier is able to be done with a cross-realm group. 

I can only speculate as to why they decided not to include it. Perhaps they felt that it would dilute the value of guilds. Maybe Blizzard didn't want people instantly transported to the raid instance as they are with LFR, thereby preserving the one, final reason people have for actually leaving the capital cities. It's possible as well that there is a technical reason, too, but most likely Blizzard decided to exclude Dragon Soul for a gameplay or balance reason.

Regardless, it seems that Blizzard is taking the cross-realm capabilities of WoW very seriously, and I imagine that seeing cross-realm raiding with no restrictions is only a matter of time. Which is great. I really look forward to the days ahead where the entire WoW population (faction permitting, of course) is at my disposal when I need to fill a hole in a raid. 


INSULATION FROM ISOLATION

However, once cross-realm raiding of current content goes live, how long until we have cross-realm mail? Cross-realm chat channels? Cross-realm universal auction houses? And eventually, are cross-realm guilds possible?

I am just indulging in some wild and completely unsupported speculation here, as Cross-Realm Guilds are certainly not a feature that anyone has even hinted at being on the horizon, but it seems as if it would be the next logical step in the direction that Blizzard is taking us. It would pretty much remove all the remaining barriers between the various different Realms and create a single cohesive WoW population. 

If this truly is the direction that Blizzard is moving, it may serve to be a very clever way to prolong the games life.

I think that it is clear that after being at the absolute top of the MMO world since 2004, there are more days behind WoW than there are in front of it, at least as the biggest and most relevant of the genre. Don't get me wrong, I don't think WoW is going to die any time soon, but I don't think it's possible that any game—even this one—has 14 years of staying power. Times change, games change, new games come out. Such is the way of the world as so will it be for WoW.

It is a certainty that at some point WoW will start to diminish in terms of active players. It will be slow and subtle but will eventually leave some servers as ghost towns, their capital cities echoing with the unheard cries of NPCs trying vainly to add colour to an empty world. I've always believed that the first definitive sign that WoW is truly on the downward slope is when Blizzard starts consolidating servers in order to keep the population of active players high enough to be viable.

However, what does it matter if your server is virtually abandoned if your guild is spread-out over 20 or 30 different servers? While it would be rather odd to go to Stormwind (or whatever the hang-out du jour is in the distant WoW future I'm describing) and have it deserted save for a single, lone naked Night Elf dancing on the mailbox, as long as there are enough people online on some server somewhere to do the group activities the game will have the appearance of vitality.

And in the end, in order for a game to survive it has to still be fun to play. WoW without people isn't fun. And the perception that there are loads of other people around ready to do something with is critical for any MMO to stay alive and vibrant. 

To that end, the cross-realm features that Blizzard has implemented, as well as those we can speculate that they might implement at some point are great steps to unify and enlarge the pool of players that a person can interact and play with, which will help the game survive and prosper for longer than it might otherwise. And as someone who plans to play this game for a long while yet, I think that is a great thing.



2.12.11

The Proof is in the Search Terms

Yesterday I posted my first impressions of the new Dragon Soul raid. It seems as though I am not alone in my fears that the level of difficulty is a little too far on the easy side; Twitter and the Blogosphere have been abuzz with debate about it.

However, bloggers and tweeters are not necessarily indicative of how the average WoW player reacts to the game. Even though I in no way consider myself a hardcore raider, just the fact that I write a blog means that I'm probably more hardcore about the game than the average player. I tend to read a lot and think a lot about the game.

So what does the non-blogger, non-twitterer think?

Well, there really is no way to know for sure. But we do have a way to see what people are asking the search engines, or at least see what questions are leading people here.

Here are some of the Search queries that have lead people to Battle Medic since the First Impressions post:

  • dragon soul easiest raid ever
  • dragon soul easy -demon
  • dragon soul raid boss encounters
  • dragon soul sared lot
  • random ride drop in dragonsoul
  • zandalari heroics harder than dragon soul
Clearly, this is an issue that is on the mind of a lot of people. The proof, as it were, is in the Search Terms.

As well, I thought I would share this one because it gave me a chuckle:
  • a beacon of light hit my face when i say welcome to th
I would really like to know what he said to get a Beacon of Light in the face. We may never know. I bet it hurt, though.

UPDATE: Upon closer inspection of my Google Analytics, I managed to find the full search term from above: 
  • a beacon of light hit my face when i say welcome to the dwarf race!
I'm still completely mystified as to why someone would type that into Google or what they were hoping to find, but in the event that this suddenly turns into the new, fashionable search-term de jour, I am at the top of the results. Go me!


2ND NIGHT IMPRESSIONS OF DRAGON SOUL

We went back to Dragon Soul last night to see how far we could get. As I suspected, our Raid Night was cut short again by Real Life issues. All told, over the two nights that we raided this week we managed a mere 4 1/2 hours total. Still, we got a fourth boss down last night and despite some add-on issues managed a few good pulls on Ultraxion.

Ultraxion (Image courtesy wowpedia.org)
To put things in perspective, it took us approximately 8 to 10 hours of raiding - in which we attempted 3 different bosses - to get our first kill in Firelands.

Our average pace in Firelands before the nerfs was to get one new boss down per week, excepting the first and last kills which took longer. Getting half of the new raid down in half the time it took us to kill one boss in the previous tier is a little alarming.

It's not as if we overgear the new raid, either. We're not loaded up with heroic Firelands gear; most of our raid team have 378 gear, and a few have even less than that. This week I was asked to bring my Shaman instead of my Paladin main in order to help with raid healing. My Shaman has a grand total of 3 raid kills to her name and wasn't even eligible for Looking For Raid based on the item level of her gear - not to mention that I don't have a lot of experience healing with her. At least two others in the group have a similar level of gear.

However, the level of difficulty does seem to climb as we get into the second part of the raid. Ultraxion is no joke. Timing is tricky, DPS requirements are high and everyone - particularly the healers - needs to know exactly what they're doing in order to get him down. And that trash before him is quite brutal in an oh-my-gawd-why-won't-this-end kind of way.

I'm actually glad that we encountered some resistance. I still think we'll be through Normal Modes very quickly, but at least a few of these bosses have some fight in them so as to make it interesting.

I just wish we could get a raid group together for a decent amount of time in a night.


1.12.11

This Week in Raiding: Dragon Soul First Impressions


Alrighty, now that the 50,000 Words project is done (and so help me if I see another screenshot again...) I can get back to writing about the game that I've been photographing for the past month. I would hate for Battle Medic to be known as just a screenshot blog.

There will be no screenshots in this post. I think I'm imaged out for a while.

As everyone knows, Patch 4.3 dropped Tuesday. Between a cranky computer that chose a horrible time to have a software glitch, a cranky baby that was overtired and dealing with a cold, and a cranky wife dealing with said baby, I didn't have a whole lot of opportunity to run the new content. I did manage to run End Time twice, once on my Paladin and once on my Shaman. End Time was a lot easier than I was expecting; very straightforward mechanics and what felt like low damage. I didn't really feel pushed all that much on either of my healers. End Time, at least, feels a lot easier than the Zandalari heroics and I am okay with that.

Last night Mountain Top went into the new raid instance Dragon Soul on Normal Mode for the first time. Our realm already has a number of 8/8 guilds, which made me optimistic that we would be able to get through it without too much trouble. From what I've heard, Dragon Soul is a lot easier than Firelands was, so long as the raid can manage the various different mechanics.

Without extensive preparation we managed to get three bosses down before we wiped to the Real Life boss. We spent about an hour and a half in a brand new, never-before-seen raid instance and yet still managed to easily one-shot Morchok and Yor'Sajh the Unchallenging Unsleeping. In addition, Zon'ozz fell after three or four pulls once we got the ball rolling, so to speak.

That's kinda nuts, really.

I really like the new 5-mans; they are short, well paced, absolutely stunning to look at and have the right amount of trash, I think. The boss encounters are easy enough to explain to a random group, and the entire dungeons can be completed quickly enough that they can be farmed without too much hassle. Which is what they are for, after all.

A raid, on the other hand, has to last. There is absolutely no reason that bosses should be killed on the first pull on the first attempt in the first week of a new raid - at least not by the non-hardcore crowd. Hell, some guilds have already 9-manned Morchok.

Now, as a disclaimer, we haven't pulled 5 of the bosses yet, so this may be premature, but I'm really worried that Normal Mode Dragon Soul is going to be easy enough that we'll blow through it in a week or two. And if this raid can be cleared by casual raiding guilds like Mountain Top so quickly, then unless the Heroic Modes are brutally, butt-clenchingly hard, the next five or six months until Mists of Pandaria comes out are going to be boring as hell. How long until we're through Heroic Modes and thinking, "What now?"

Mountain Top has never been a Heroic Mode guild - we have trouble getting the same people together each week and even more trouble getting a decent amount of time to raid. Five hours a week is about all we can manage on a good week, and quite often we're struggling to get more than two or three. With those time constraints, Heroic Modes always seemed out of reach. Now, however, with Dragon Soul it seems like Blizzard has lowered the bar for a guild like ours to get into them.

End game content in WoW has always been gobbled up extremely fast by the top-end guilds, and short of extremely restrictive gating mechanics (releasing the raid slowly over time, as they did with Trial of the Crusader and Icecrown Citadel) that's never going to change. Now, it seems as if Blizzard wants everyone to burn through the content just as quickly. I think this is a mistake.

When the Firelands were nerfed, I brought up the idea of the Tourist, which was received with a bit of controversy. Personally, I thought that the Looking For Raid difficulty level was going to be tailored for those people who couldn't or wouldn't run normal raids and just wanted to see the content to experience the story, but now it feels as if the Normal Modes are going that way as well.

Tonight we go back into Dragon Soul to see the remaining encounters for the first time. I would be very disappointed if we don't end this week at least 6/8, and wouldn't be the least bit surprised if Deathwing falls. Really, the only sticking point is how much time we'll have before we have a raider needs to leave in order to deal with the far more difficult fights with girlfriends, wives, babies and work.

It will be interesting to see where the numbers are in a few weeks. Will there be far more Guilds at 8/8 than Blizzard was expecting? And if Guilds do burn through the content as quickly as I suspect that they will, what is that going to do to the subscriber retention between now and Mists? Or, with the advent of the Yearly Subscription Pass does Blizzard even give a crap anymore, since the bribe of a pretty My Little Pony means that people aren't going anywhere and Blizzard has a free ride until the next expansion.

Time will tell, I guess.

I will say this, though, on a more positive note: I am enjoying the new content. Aside from the ease, I think the mechanics of the new bosses are quite cool, the scenery is beyond gorgeous and the sheer amount of lore that is stuffed into the raid and new heroic dungeons is amazing and engaging. I will be writing a lot more about the good things that Blizzard has given us in the coming days, I'm sure.


23.9.11

On Raiding Disappointment: An Open Letter to Blizzard


When we long for life without difficulties, remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure - Peter Marshall

Dear Blizzard,

As a subscriber who came to World of Warcraft with the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, Cataclysm represented my first true opportunity to get in on the ground floor of new content. For the first time I felt as if I wasn't lagging behind everyone else and was finally experiencing content the way it was meant to be experienced. I greeted the new expansion with a lot of anticipation and enthusiasm.

Cataclysm introduced many controversial changes, many of which were not received terribly enthusiastically by the community. I, on the other hand (being an avid Kool-Aid drinker), was thrilled with a lot of the changes, and incredibly excited to see the new content, experience the new levelling experience and, most importantly, to progress through the new raids. I understood the need to make the game more accessible, and supported the changes.

In fact, I was very frustrated with a lot of the complaining and the griping coming from the WoW community. Back in March I wrote a post critizing the community for having a "Doom and Gloom" outlook on the current state of the game, saying that people come and go, but the game itself was in a good place.

This week, you proved me wrong, Blizzard. I now feel compelled to add my voice to the chorous of the discontented.

Lord Rhyolith: Call me Admiral McROFLStompyPants

And it's because this week saw the introduction of significant nerfs to the Firelands bosses, crippling each boss - in both normal and heroic modes - anywhere from 15 to 25 percent in damage done and health, as well as simplifying several of the more difficult mechanics. This was done in an unprecedentedly brief time period since the raid was released.

Regardless of what your intention is, the significance of this change is instantly and universally understood by your player base: If you didn't clear Firelands before this nerf, you failed. Here are your free charity epics.

This is the exact same message that was sent regarding Tier 11 when Tier 12 came out. Didn't clear it before? No problem, let me hold your hand and walk you through it. Don't worry, the Internet Dragons are toothless now, so you won't get hurt. Just try to stay awake, okay?

At least back then we had a new, full-difficulty raid tier to busy ourselves with. Reducing the difficulty on previous tier content in order to allow more people to see it makes sense, at least. And it worked; raids were able to go back into Tier 11 and cut through the bosses like a they were barely there, and mechanics that were previously raid killers became irrelevant.

These changes to the current tier are completely inexplicable and inexcusable. They go too far, much too soon.

I mean, it's not as if people were complaining that the Firelands bosses were too hard. Quite the reverse, really; early on a lot of people were complaining that Firelands was decidedly too easy and that Raid Teams were blowing through it far too quickly. And it wasn't just the elite raiding guilds that were expressing this opinion, either.

Our raid team, for instance, is not at the cutting edge of progression. We are never likely to compete for a Realm First but neither are we at the bottom end of progression. We are probably the poster children of your average raiders; a casually-oriented guild that raids 6-8 hours a week. We expect to tackle the encounters, learn them and defeat them as they were originally designed.

Why aren't you giving us the time to do this?

My guild and I have been raiding Firelands from the day it was released. We were a new guild then, still gelling as a team, but we went in and got things done. Some of the encounters were really challenging and tested us; we wiped more than a few times on some of these bosses, which made downing them that much sweeter. I don't cheer out loud - causing my wife to give me strange looks - when we down an easy encounter. No, that is saved for when we overcome a significant obstacle that has stood in our path blocking our progression like an obstinate traffic cop. I like cheering, Blizzard, but where are the obstacles?

Wednesday night we went through Firelands after the nerfs and did six bosses. The difference in the level of difficulty is painfully obvious. It's actually invasive. Bosses that previously required precise play, good communication and teamwork even at good gear levels are now simplistic and easy. Lord Rhyolith, for example, lasted less than 10 seconds into Phase 2. I didn't even have time to get into position before he died. The burn phases of Shannox and Beth'tilac, which were previously heavy-damage phases that required the use of healer and tank cooldowns as well as skillful play to get through, are similarly laughable. As a healer, it seemed like Health Bars barely moved in those phases.

There is no thrill or enjoyment in beating up crippled children, Blizzard, and that's what you've turned these raid bosses into. You might as well give Fandral Staghelm a wool cap and a cane and rename him Tiny Tim. I actually felt sorry for Rageface the other night because he died so quickly, and his whole purpose for living - to Rage on Faces - was no more painful than a puppy dog licking ice cream off your toes. It does not qualify as something to be concerned about any longer. PETA will be hearing about this.

I think that in the pursuit of the noble goal of making the game more accessible to a larger variety of people a large chunk of the challenge of World of Warcraft has been removed. Many aspects of the game have fallen victim to this, with the endgame being the most notable and most damning, but even levelling is now so quick and painless that there is no sense of danger left in the game. Even without heirlooms, enemies fall over dead with little more than a mere glance, and there is a distinct lack of worry that something is actually dangerous. Low level dungeons are, even with poor gear, ridiculously easy, which is especially obvious when the vast majority of boss fights last under 30 seconds.

In fact, there is so little challenge left in WoW that your players are taking it upon themselves to make the game more difficult. Your very intelligent and creative players are coming up with things like the WoW Ironman Challenge and the Naked Dungeon Challenge just so that they have something to do that doesn't involve one-shotting the poor denizens of Dun Morogh on yet another overpowered Alt.

Thomas Paine said, "What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value", and I think that is a lesson that has been forgotten. There is a benefit to difficulties, a benefit of failure. Overcoming adversity is how people learn and improve, and it's how fierce emotional attachments are created. Raiders who raided Molten Core don't look back on the gear that they got with such love and devotion because getting it was easy, but rather because the blood, sweat and sheer red-hot effort that they expended to get it has branded it into their souls.

I think it's time to put the challenge back into the World.

BALANCING ACT

I understand that balancing the many different types of players and trying to make everyone happy is a difficult, if not impossible task. I can't think of a more thankless job that trying to please eleven million people, all of whom want something different, and at the same time trying to feed the corporate overlord's insatiable lust for profits.

I know that there are quite a number of people who are happy with these changes to the raids because it gives them a chance to finally see the content. But I think that there is a difference between seeing the content and experiencing the content.  The idea of merely seeing the content reminds me of a tourist: Someone who comes to visit and see the sights, but wants to have a good, relaxing time and not really get their hands dirty. While experiencing the content implies slogging through the worst that the raid can throw at you and working through the inevitable failures and hardships. These are two very different types of players who want two completely different types of gaming experiences.

However, nerfing current content when there is no alternative, higher-end content available means turning everyone into the Tourist.

I know that Patch 4.3 is brings us the Raid Finder tool and a new difficulty level that caters to the Tourists, PUGers and people who just want to see the content but are, for whatever reason, unable to raid at the normal difficulty levels. I'm sure it's your hope that this elmininates the need for nerfs such as these, and I'm optimistic that it will work very well. But that doesn't change the fact that in this patch, on this raid, you took away my challenge.

We're going into Firelands to kill Ragnaros for the first time this week. Last week it was an exciting prospect, now it's just something to do on a Sunday. Oh, we'll get the achievement, but the accomplishment has been made lesser. Like Roger Maris, I will forever have an asterisk next to my 7/7 achievement.


Sincerely,

Fannon
Dwarven Battle Medic and Dissatisfied Raider.

Ragnaros: Still tough, but 25% less satisfying.

 
 

20.8.11

Previewing Patch 4.3: The Make-or-Break Patch

Well, Blizzard has begun releasing new information on Patch 4.3 - the upcoming final major content patch of the Cataclysm expansion  - stoking the fire of the hot-air fuelled Rumour Juggernaut and setting it off to steam-roll all over the realm of common sense.

Confirmed are such new features as Void Storage and the Transmogrifier, as well as three brand new Heroic 5-man dungeons - one of which is a Caverns of Time instance in a "known location". A new raid tier is planned as well, culminating in an epic encounter with the Aspect of Death himself. Blizzard promises that this fight will be "unlike anything you've yet encountered in World of Warcraft".

Reactions seem to be ranging from swaying in rapturous joy to threatening to quit the game. According to the doomsayer-types, these changes are unconscionable and herald the end of WoW - but they say that every Tuesday, so let's just ignore them for now.


INSPIRED BY CALVIN AND HOBBES

Definitely the most talked about feature of 4.3 is the Transmogrifier. Transmogrification will work similarly to reforging and will allow a player to make any current piece of gear cosmetically look like another, similar piece while still retaining the original stats. This means that it will now be possible to defeat Ragnaros in Firelands while wearing armour that looks exactly like the Tier 1 armour that he was killed with back in Molten Core.

It seems that, for the most part, Transmogrification has been greeted with an almost hysterical excitement. It has also been suggested that this pretty much removes all pretence that we, as players, are not doing anything other than playing dress-up with dolls; only with Internet Dragons and Sparkle Ponies.

I finally get to Raid
wearing my favourite shield
I am intrigued by this feature, but not jumping for joy about it. I haven't ever been one to save gear for sentimental reasons, so I don't have an entire wardrobe of old Tier sets to choose from. But then, I'm not the target audience for this particular feature. This is aimed at the long-time players who look back fondly on their favourite gear and wish they could wear it again.

I'm in the minority opinion, I think; a lot of bloggers and long-time players are already planning farming trips to old raids and scouring the old tier armours for the look that they want to rock when this goes live.

This feature, along with it's companion feature Void Storage - which gives players a place to store all the sentimental stuff they want to keep but have no real use for - are very nice nods to the long term players. It isn't going to fundamentally change the game in any way, but it will certainly make Stormwind a more colourful place to hang out.


NO IDLE THREAT


One change that is definitely going to happen, if it hasn't already been hotfixed in, is a change to the way Tank Threat works and have a Tank able to generate Threat much faster than before. Ghostcrawler wrote a thoughtful post on Tank threat on the Official WoW Blog, but the basic idea is that it isn't fun for a DPS to intentionally do less damage (and therefore less threat) simply to compensate for a lesser geared tank, nor is it fun for someone who is just learning how to tank to worry about raid-geared threat-monsters pulling mobs off just by sneezing at them. As a Damage Dealer, who wants to just stand there and merely do White attacks because you're sitting at 105% Threat?

This change is made necessary because the reality is we live in a world ruled by the Dungeon Finder, and the fact that, for the most part, you don't get to choose who is in your group. The Dungeon Finder does a decent job at ensuring that most of the people are at the same gear level, but when there is a shortage of tanks, which is most of the time, then the group is stuck with what's available. And sometimes that means running through Zul'Aman with a new tank in a whole lot of Blues; forcing the DPS to either do less damage and therefore less threat, or making the Healer go out of his mind healing the group when the DPS inevitably pulls aggro.

Wrath-Style

In effect, by ramping up Tank threat much quicker to compete with amphetamine-fuelled Burst DPS, Blizzard is taking us back to a more Wrath of the Lich King style of Tanking where, as long as the Tank doesn't do anything stupid, it's very difficult to pull aggro of him.

I think this is a great idea.

Making Threat generation, and therefore Tanking in general, easier is really the only way to finally solve the LFD Tank shortage problem. Actually, it's not even about making it easier; it's about making it more fun and less frustrating. Doing everything right and yet still failing because your group simply outgears you is not fun, and I think causes a lot of people to give up on the idea of Tanking before they have the gear or experience to make it actually enjoyable and not comparable to painful dental procedures.

Of course, as Ghostcrawler mentioned, it is still possible to get undesired attention of a mob by attacking the wrong target or using an Area-of-Effect ability too soon, so the DPS aren't going to have free reign to do whatever they please. Damage classes simply shouldn't be able to pull off a Tank once he's established his initial Threat, as long as the Tank plays correctly.


HEROIC VARIETY

The biggest mistake that Blizzard has made during the Cataclysm expansion (at least, so far) was releasing only two Heroics with Patch 4.1. The Zandalari Trollroics are good dungeons, both challenging and varied in the encounter design. But after running them non-stop for what seems like an eternity, I am sick to death of them and never want to see another Troll as long as I live. I would like to see Blizzard not make the same mistake with the three new heroics they are talking about for 4.3.

According to the Preview, 4.3 is going to be the final major content patch for the Cataclysm expansion - barring a Sunwell-esque surprise Raid Tier. This means that whatever content is included in 4.3 is going to have to last us until the next expansion is released (rumoured to be tantalizingly named Mists of Pandara). We're going to be running this content for a long time and that means that if Blizzard wants to keep our attention and its subscriber numbers up, these dungeons better be compelling and varied.

If Blizzard goes the route of the Zul'Roics and places these new dungeons in a separate tier, with an increased level of difficulty and better gear, they run the risk of the same level of burnout happening as we're experiencing now. Running the same two dungeons over and over again is an excellent way to remind your subscriber base that it's summer and there are other things to do.

At least with WotLK Heroics there was a much greater variety of dungeons to choose from, ranging from the very difficult Halls of Reflection, the dreaded Oculus or to the simplicy of running Utgarde Keep for the four hundredth time. Could you imagine the backlash from the playerbase if we would have been forced to run nothing but the three ICC heroics for the last 8 months of the expansion?

With things as they are now, I am forced to run Hero-dalari Dungeons in order to cap out my Valor Points every week. There is no respite from these two dungeons unless I want to run twice as many regular heroics - which is impractical to say the least. Give us more variety, Blizzard! Either give us the ability to queue for all the Cataclysm heroics at the same time for the same VP rewards, or give us more dungeons per new Tier. I'm begging you!

On the other hand: THREE NEW HEROICS THAT AREN'T TROLL DUNGEONS! HOORAY!


DEATH TO DEATHWING, ASPECT OF DEATH!



The Big Bad. The Final Fight. The Alliterative Aspect of Annihilation.

When 4.3 lands we will finally get our revenge for constantly being murdered randomly as we're trying to level up fishing or grab a screenshot: Deathwing will be the final raid of 4.3 and likely the wrap-up for the Cataclysm storyline.

No details have been released yet, and speculation is running rampant as to what kind of fight this will be, what other bosses we'll fight and where on Azeroth we'll be fighting Deathwing. Nothing about the fight has been hinted at yet, but this blue post claims it will be like nothing we've ever seen before. Exciting stuff!

Entering completely into the realm of wild-eyed speculation for a moment, I envision three different, gated raids for the final raiding tier. The first two would need to be cleared before the third Deathwing-only raid would be unlocked. I think a small, 3 boss Raid set in Deepholm and a larger 8 boss raid in a new location that would, lore-wise, clear the way to the final, epic confrontation with Deathwing.

To date, there has been no mention of a lair or other place that Deathwing hangs out when he's not frying lowbies in the Western Plaguelands, so really, we could be fighting him anywhere. This image implies that we'll be fighting him on top of a mountain somewhere, but I had my way I'd want to fight Deathwing right here:

Varian's front porch would make for a great raid room. Although
Deathwing would need to knock down a bit of stuff first.
Why does Deathwing need to have a lair, anyway? Isn't he randomly flying around the world torching everything? The first step in any Deathwing encounter, in my opinion, should be to find him out in the world and attack him there, rather than doing the same ol' thing of assembling a raid at the entrance to a cave where [Insert Loot PiƱata Name Here] is conveniently waiting to be killed and give up his stuff.

In the encounter that I would design, each week a Raid Instance portal would appear in a random zone throughout Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor, forcing people out of the capital cities on Tuesday morning to look for the thing. Once found, the standard Meeting Stone would be there to help summon the rest of your raid. The coolest thing about doing this is that the actual terrain that the Raid would fight Deathwing on (at least for Phase One & Two - keep reading) would change every time. But from a lore perspective, it would tie everything together: Varian or Garrosh have had enough of this dragon destroying everything and devise a cunning plan to stop him.

Here's how I would design an epic fight to take out Deathwing:

Phase One: Capturing Deathwing
After finding the portal and zoning into an instanced version of whatever zone the portal happens to be in, the Raid comes across Varian or Garrosh and a small group of Battle Mages who have devised a way to knock Deathwing out of the air and hold him. This will require the raid to defend the Battle Mages against waves of summoned Fire Elementals (or something similar) while dodging Deathwing's fire breath from above. The mechanics of this fight could work similarly to Magmaw in the actual chaining. Regardless, this phase is fairly short.

Phase Two: On the Ground.
The Battle Mages manage to ground him, but as he's just too powerful they cannot hold him for long. The Raid would fight a partially subdued Deathwing on the ground and have to deal with all the tricks that a very pissed off dragon in command of the element of Earth can possibly think up. Giant Earth Elemental adds that need to be tanked, insta-kill pits opening up beneath people's feet and giant impaling spikes are some of the possibilities, in addition to having to deal with random, devastating flame breath attacks, claws and tail swipes.

Phase Three: In the Air

At some point, either at a certain percentage of health or after a certain amount of time, Deathwing breaks his bonds and begins to take flight. The raid have to use a mechanic (ropes, magic catapults, jetpacks - really endless possibilities here) to climb on his back before he takes off. While he's flying, he'll call a couple of Black Dragonflight lieutenants to kill the pests on his back and periodically try to knock the raid off by yawing either left or right. When he does this, the Raid will need to grab on to pieces of Deathwing's armour to avoid falling off and plummeting to a very sticky death.

At the same time the raid is dealing with the two dragon lieutenants, they will also need to do damage and destroy Deathwing's armour plates so that he will be vulnerable when he lands. The most interesting aspect of this idea is that the Raid will be destroying the very thing that they need to grab on to so as not to fall off, making management of how much armour to destroy critical - especially because each plate that is destroyed will expose Deathwing's molten insides which, of course, would not be wise to stand in.

Phase Four: Home to Roost
Once the Dragons are killed, Deathwing will reach his destination: Stormwind or Orgrimmar, depending on faction. There would be a short cinematic showing Deathwing landing and destroying the Stormwind Citadel courtyard. A whole legion of Dragonkin will teleport in and keep Varian Wrynn and the Stormwind Guards occupied while the raid has to deal with the boss.

This would be an all-out fight to the death. The Raid would first need to finish whatever armour is left over from Phase 3. Once that is completely gone, Deathwing becomes a dragon of pure flame and the fight really begins.

I'd like to think that Blizzard would pull out all the stops with this fight and include new, never-been-done-before mechanics that are too awesome to imagine or speculate on. I think that as far as previous Raid encounters go, doing something like this would be incredibly epic and tie together all the different ideas that Blizzard introduced in Cataclysm nicely. I am very excited about fighting and killing Deathwing, and I really hope that the fight lives up to the sheer epic potential of fighting a foe of this magnitude.


CONCLUSION

There is a lot riding on Patch 4.3. For whatever reason, the entire Cataclysm expansion has been met with an overwhelming wave of indifference and at times outright hostility from the player base - particularly the long-term players. It seems clear that the final patch of this expansion will make or break Cataclysm's legacy.

There is a feeling among a lot of players, although I personally am not one of them, that World of Warcraft has lost its way. And with new and exciting competition either upcoming or already on the market, Blizzard needs to end this expansion with something fresh and exciting to recapture the faith of the masses and remind everyone why World of Warcraft is still worth caring about.
 
 

11.3.11

This Week in Raiding: Healing Omnotron Defense System

This Week in Raiding is a (hopefully) weekly feature discussing the raiding encounters that my guild tackled this week, the lessons learned from them, as well as any news or thoughts on raiding in general. This week we have the Omnotron Defense Council encounter from the perspective of the Holy Paladin, although much of this article will be useful to all healing classes.  This is not a strategy guide, but everything that you need to know to heal this encounter successfully.  If you would like a more detailed description of the fight and overall strategy, please check out Tankspot's write up and video.


The Omnotron Defense System is a group of four Golems that make up what is typically considered the second boss encounter in Blackwing Descent.  It is a Council style fight; the bosses share a health pool and have a lot of abilities, making this a complex and chaotic fight.  Environmental awareness from the raiders and clear communication from the raid leader are keys to downing this fight reliably.

My raiding team uses the following raid composition for this fight:  Two tanks, three healers and 5 DPS.  A typical raid composition for 25 man would be Two tanks, six healers and seventeen DPS.



IN THIS CORNER, THE BOSSES

Magmatron is the fire boss.  He has two abilities that are going to make a healers life difficult: Incineration Security Measure and Flamethrower.  
  • Incineration Security Measure is a raid-wide area-of-effect flame ability.  It has a very obvious flame graphic that is impossible to miss.  You can't avoid this damage, even thought the graphic makes it look like you can, so don't try.
  • Flamethrower is a single target ability that shoots a jet of flame, does a lot of damage and is preceded by Acquiring Target, which projects a very large and obvious red laser beam at it's target for four seconds.  The raid needs to run away from the path of the laser beam, and the person targeted needs to stand still so that they don't spread the damage to other people.  The healers should start precasting heals or use mitigation cooldowns on the target in order to ensure survival.  As a Paladin, if you Divine Shield yourself while the laser is targeting you it will cancel the effect entirely, and Magmatron will not cast his flamethrower.  Hand of Protection has no effect on this ability.
Toxitron is the poison boss.  His bag of tricks consists of Poison Cloud and Poison Protocol.
  • Poison Cloud. Toxitron will periodically spew poison clouds at a random target that gives whoever stands in them a 50% increased damage debuff.  This includes the boss, so it's likely that your tank will try to stand the boss in the cloud, so be ready to heal through the extra damage if your tank isn't positioned perfectly.
  • Poison Protocol is the ability that caused my raid group the most difficulty.  The boss will release 3 poison slimes that will randomly target a player and move towards them.  If they reach their target, they explode and create a large poison puddle.  Getting hit by a slime is instant death.  They are untauntable and need to be burned down by the DPS as quickly as possible.  Avoid them at all costs (See below).
Electron is the lightning boss.  He does Electrical Discharge and Lightning Conductor.
  • Electrical Discharge is a fairly straight-forward chain lightning ability.  Spread out a minimum of 8 yards and be mindful of other people moving close to you.  It is not hugely damaging unless it's being spread to a lot of people.
  • Lightning Conductor is placed on a random raid member and will do electrical damage to that person and anyone around it.  If it is placed on you, run out of the raid.  As well, be aware of other people around you who have it and stay away from them, especially if it happens to be on the tank.
Arcanotron is the magic boss and he is responsible for Power Generator and Arcane Annihilator
  • Arcane Annihilator is a large damage, single target ability that will be the responsibility of your tanks and melee damage dealers to interrupt.  As a healer, be aware of sudden health dips when Arcanotron is up.
  • Power Generator is a hugely important mechanic for all casters, including the healers.  Arcanotron will put a puddle underneath his feet which will increase his damage significantly.  It's the tanks job to move him out of this.  The ranged DPS and the healers should stand in it for a damage boost and mana regeneration (See below).
Shields:  Two bosses will be active at any given time (except the very beginning), one active and one protected by a shield.  It's vitally important not to attack the boss with the shield active.  Each shield has a powerful effect that will go off if it is damaged, so target switching is extremely important.  Even a stray Judgement can cause a ridiculous amount of damage to the raid.

The only exception is Toxitron's Poison Soaked Shell, which will put a stacking damage-over-time debuff on anyone who attacks it, but also gives a large burst damage increase.  This debuff can be Cleansed, but many raiders will pick up a couple of stacks intentionally for the extra damage.  Ask beforehand if your raid leader wants it cleansed, but in my experience, just leave it if the person who has it is in no danger of dying.  Watch their health closely though, in case they get a bit overzealous in grabbing stacks.


JUDGING

As always, Judge as often as you can for the mana regeneration.

If you are using your Focus Target to determine your Judgement targets, it's important to put it on the right person in this fight.  It is not optimal to Focus/Judge on a tank on this fight because 50% of the time the tank is going to be targeting a boss with his Shield up.  It's better to Focus on a Ranged DPS who is reliable at switching targets, and it's even better to focus on the Raid Leader who is calling out the switches, if possible.

Judging the wrong target on this fight could potentially cause a lot of damage to your raid.  Be careful of your targets!


MANA MANAGEMENT
(or Using Power Generator for Fun and Profit!)

Arcanotron will create a blue puddle on the ground which will give him or whoever is standing in it a damage buff.  Your tank will move him out of this puddle.  You need to stand in this puddle as much as you can, as it regenerates mana while you stand in it.   

Power Generator also grants a damage buff as well, so your caster DPS is going to want to jump in the puddle with you, which most of the time is fine.  It gets problematic when Arcanotron and Electron are up at the same time, however, the chain lightning will cause an insane amount of damage if half the raid is stacked up, costing more mana to heal than will be gained from the puddle.

It's best to keep the DPS out of the Power Generator in this case, and let the healers regenerate their mana.  The damage caused by Electrical Discharge chaining to the 2 or 3 healers (5 or 6 in 25man) is very easy to heal through.  Talk to your raid leader about this if it becomes a problem.


DIVINE PLEA

There is no excellent and obvious period of low damage in this fight to regenerate mana using Divine Plea, so I recommend using Guardian of the Ancient Kings to offset the 50% healing reduction.  Since GAK has a 5 minute cooldown, you can only do this combination once during the fight.  If you are having major mana problems, use Avenging Wrath and Divine Favor in combination with Divine Plea throughout the fight.

If I am on the ball and using the Power Generator wisely, I find that I only need to use Divine Plea once during this fight, so GAK is a perfect offsetting cooldown.  Use your discretion based on your own mana needs.

If you have any Spirit trinkets - like Core of Ripeness - use those on cooldown.


LIGHT OF DAWN OR WORD OF GLORY?

In the 10-man version of this fight, your raid is going to be spread out a lot making it difficult to hit the 5 (or 6, glyphed) people needed to really make Light of Dawn worth it, so Word of Glory is a stronger choice most of the time.  With the increased amount of people in a 25 person raid, Light of Dawn would be the go-to Holy Power heal much of the time.  Just be mindful of how many people you will hit with your LoD before you cast it; if it looks like you won't hit 5 people (pets count too, remember), then go with WoG.

When everyone stacks in the Power Generator, Light of Dawn will be much easier to use effectively in 10-man.


WHERE THE HECK IS EVERYONE?

For a healer, range awareness is key to this fight, as everyone will be moving around a lot and can easily get out of range at a crucial time, causing a death. Stay in the middle of the room as much as you can, and be prepared to move to either side as the situation warrants. Keep an eye on your tanks and make sure that you keep them in range.


USING BEACON OF LIGHT

One of the tanks will get the Beacon of Light. There will be only one boss when the encounter begins, so put your Beacon on that tank.

If you are finding that one of the tanks is out of range a lot, put the Beacon on him instead. Beacon of Light has a 60 yard range, far greater than any of a Paladin's heals. This way you can ensure that if a tank is out of range he is still going to be receiving some healing while you reposition yourself to get within range again.

Unless your raid has incredibly high DPS, this fight will last longer than the five-minute duration of your Beacon, so be prepared to reapply it as needed.


HELP! THE SLIMES WANT TO EAT ME!

Probably the single most frequent cause of wipes on this encounter will be Poison Protocol.  It sounds simple in theory:  Avoid the Slimes.  It's a bit harder in practice, however.
  • First thing to do is position yourself as far away from Toxitron as you can while he's active.  Space can get a little tight when both Toxitron and Electron are up, but I'd rather let an Electrical Discharge chain once or twice than be too close to the Slimes when they spawn.
  • Set up your Raid Frames to show Aggro.  I have a big, menacing looking red box around my frames to indicate aggro that is hard to miss.  Hopefully your Raid Leader will call out the Slime targets as well.  Either way, once you realize you are targeted by a Slime, start running away from it.  The Slime will only explode if it hits it's target, so it's absolutely vital that it doesn't get to you.  Healing does not matter as much at this point.
  • Run around the outside of the room to give your DPS the most time to burn down the Slimes.
  • Use the Speed of Light speed bonus from Holy Radiance to put some distance between you and your Slime.  This will also spread some heals around the room as you run.
  • Do not let it get too close to you.  It has a much larger range than it would seem.

AURAS AND COOLDOWNS

Try to have Resistance Aura up so that can use Aura Mastery during Magmatron's Incineration Security Measure AOE. If you can time it correctly, you can have double resistance for the entire time this ability is active, substantially reducing damage.

Devotion Aura is much less useful for a Holy Paladin in this fight, as the incoming physical damage is very light. Let another Paladin or a Shaman put that buff on the raid.

Save using your first cooldown until the second boss activates. Aside from Magmatron, the damage caused by a single boss is very minor - Toxitron especially. Divine Favor and Avenging Wrath should be used as often as you can, unless you are saving them to offset Divine Plea (see above). I prefer to save them and hit them just after a boss switch. Magmatron is the big AOE damage dealer in this fight, so if you are assigned to healing the raid, save your cooldowns for when he's active.

Hand of Sacrifice is best used on the target of Flamethrower, or on a tank that is taking extra damage from standing in a Poison Cloud.

Save Divine Shield for Flamethrower. If you are targeted by Acquiring Target, hit your bubble and the flamethrower will not go off at all. If Divine Shield is on cooldown, use Divine Protection to help mitigate some of the damage.

Guardian of the Ancient Kings should be saved to offset the Divine Plea debuff (see above).


THE PAYOFF

Omnotron Defense Council drop two items that are good for Holy Paladins: Security Measure Alpha and Life Force Chargers. Both are worth getting.


* Big thanks Ophelie and Leetsauced for answering a few questions on Omnotron 25, and Rades for helping me get the Wowhead hoverlinks working.  Thanks, everyone!

19.1.11

This Week In Raiding: Magmaw, Omnotron and Maloriak.

Welcome to the first post of This Week In Raiding; a (hopefully) weekly feature discussing the raiding encounters that my guild tackled this week, the lessons learned from them, as well as any news or thoughts on raiding in general.  I am hopeful that this feature will be full of a lot of useful information and general thoughts from my perspective on raiding, with less focus on "Oooo, look who we killed this week" and pretty kill shots.  

That being said, that's totally what the first post is going to be.

This Sunday was the first raid for our new raiding group led by Xzidor and Oath.  Our first target was Blackwing Descent.  Our guild had downed Magmaw last week with a different group, so this was the first time seeing this boss for a few of the raiders, and the first time that this group with these Raid Leaders fought together.

Magmaw went down after a few attempts with very little trouble. Our only real issues were coordination and getting people to move at the right time in the right places.  We again used a one tank strategy that allows the healers to pretty much stand still and focus on their jobs without worrying about the Pillars of Flame.  Next week on TWIR, I'll detail our Magmaw strategy in more detail.

On we went to the Omnotron Defense Council. This was the first time that a lot of us, including myself, had seen this fight, and it showed.  We had a lot of issues trying to get everything under control.  There were lots of mistakes all around, but everyone kept plugging away and we eventually had a couple of very good attempts. We even tried having our Resto Shaman solo the bosses for a while, but decided that probably wasn't going to work out so well.  Things got much better once the Holy Paladin (that would be me) stopped running around the room with Magmatron's giant laser beam on him, wiping half of the raid.  The biggest problem was with the blobs of poisoned poop that Toxitron spawns, which gave most of our raid fits while trying to avoid them.

We reconvened on Monday night, but started an hour late due to the fact that I was running incredibly late getting home from work.  This raid group has a hard time cap and stops the raids at 10pm server time, meaning we only had an hour and a half to get whatever progression we could before the reset on Tuesday morning.  Luckily, they only called me a few nasty names in raid chat before we were off and running.

It's amazing what a difference a day makes.  Knowing we had limited time we quickly called for resets as soon as we ran into a major problem, so we managed to get quite a few attempts in a short amount of time.  A lot of the mechanics that we were having so much difficulty with the day before worked themselves out very quickly.  Target switches were crisp and quick, AOE damage from shields was minimal and Poison Protocol was less of an issue with the slimes going down quickly and people actually managing to avoid them long enough for the DPS to burn them down.  Within an hour of starting we had our kill.  I was very proud of our Raid Group when those pesky golems finally toppled over.

With only about 30 minutes left until our time ran out we moved on to Maloriak.  If you have never done this fight, it's a complex encounter with adds and a spread-out/collapse mechanic that is on a semi-random pattern.  So there is a lot of movement and a lot of buggers adds that want to beat the off-tank into the ground who, of course, can't be tanked anywhere near the boss or else everybody pretty much dies instantly.  I know this because we failed at all of these mechanics at one point or another.  That being said, our final attempt of the night got Maloriak down to 31%, which I am very pleased with, considering our limited time working on him.


SHADOWGARDE NEEDS HEALERS

I'm very glad that my guild waited for me on Monday night, as I would have regretted missing the raid, especially since we got Omnotron down (still no loot-love for my Holy spec yet, though).  However, it should never have happened... I should have been benched and replaced by another healer so as to give the raid more time to have better chance at moving our progression further forward.  The sad truth is that as of right now we have very few raid-ready healers and need to recruit more.

If you are on the Sargeras-US server and are looking for a good, yet casual raiding guild, send me an email at symbology AT rocketmail.com or apply at Shadowgarde.net.