Archive for the ‘ Instancing ’ Category

Trial By Fire

First of all, a message to Blizzard:

Thank you. I don’t know if it was just the rolling restarts you performed yesterday morning or if you did more tinkering behind the scenes. Whatever it was, the Ulduar situation on Hydraxis is fixed and we had a wonderful time playing around in there last night. So, with great appreciation, thank you.

Finally, we got to go to Ulduar!

And I acted as raid lead…. sorta. Man though, this shiz is hard! I mean, I knew raid leading was going to be difficult, but I didn’t quite expect the amount of stress I experienced… And we haven’t even hit the brick wall yet!

No, this point has NOT been reached.

No, this point has NOT been reached.

The raid did FANTASTICALLY last night. Everyone took direction well, everyone was eager and willing to help, the other officers were behind me 100% of the way. I think I’m just nervous.

PS – Motorbikes are fun. I don’t want to drive anything else.

I Pity The Fools

Just in time for 3.1, <Unemployed> has chosen its new Whipping boy raid leader! I’ll say first that it wasn’t the person I had put my money on (I don’t even know if he applied).

Who was the poor sap who got roped into this gruelling and likely thankless position?

Why… ’twas moi!

I’m not exactly sure what to write about, actually. I remember when I started this blog last summer. I remember talking about my first trials in tanking, the first time I was asked to lead Karazhan.

I remember being terrified.

Since then I’ve seen what raids can feel like both when the leader is pushing forward, making decicive decisions and also when there is little or no leadership and the group is floundering for direction, and everywhere in-between.

I’ve learned that the guiding hand doesn’t necessarily have to have all the answers, but someone DOES need to be in the driver’s seat to keep things moving. The moments before a boss pull are not the time to discuss the merits of various boss strategies and exercise democracy. In the middle of a fight there’s no room for indecision.

If a raid leader makes a bad call that ends in death, then there is time post-mortem to assess the damage and work towards not repeating the mistake. I believe the hallmark of a good raid leader is the ability to admit fault.

I was in a raid once back in BC. We were raiding Karazhan and attempting to take down the Curator. We got to the last 15% and the raid lead called out all in, and told us to ignore the few sparks still left up and wandering around.

Can you guess what happened?

Of course, we wiped, but it wasn’t the wipe that made him a bad raid leader. When we all got back he began screaming over ventrilo at the DPS. “Lowest DPS leaves!” is what he said. Never once did he admit he made a bad call, never once did he acknowledge that if we’d taken the extra few seconds to kill those sparks we would have had a dead curator instead of a dead raid.

It’s no coincidence that I found myself <Unemployed> soon after this happened.

What I found there was a leading style that, while firm, was also fair. Honest mistakes were allowed and it was understood that everyone needed a chance to learn.

Now, the grand adventure is upon us. Together we are about to venture into Ulduar. The instance is new and unknown. Yes, there are already boss strategy guides up online, but none of us have actually seen the encounters, and this week at least we will be mostly hands-off, eschewing micro-management in celebration of the thrill of discovery and the joys that come with being able to solve problems on the fly.

As a raid lead I will read the strategies, but I don’t think I will attempt to micro-manage (well, maybe a little with vehicle assignments). But we’ll be doing these bosses first on normal mode.

Normal mode is very forgiving of mistakes. We will have the luxury of learning on the fly and correcting things as we go. This is leadership I think I can do, a kind of easing into the role.

I love this guild, and I love the people in it, and I applied to be an officer because I knew that (with the support of the other officers when it came time to trouble-shooting) I was capable of being the pace car, of making the calls and keeping things moving and that, fundamentally, is the base value of a raid leader.

I lack an exhaustive knowledge of lots of classes, and I didn’t know how well an arms warrior would synergise with a feral until just a couple of weeks ago. I’m not the kind of leader that has all the answers.

However, I know where to get them, and I won’t lead you in circles if I don’t have the answer to the question you’re asking. That’s the best I can do right now, but I actually do think it will be enough :)

On another note:

It’s a curious thing about failure. Sarth 3D remaining unkilled taunts me. I feel defeated, angry, and frustrated. I wait to rail at Blizard for dropping the patch today. I’m convinced that with one more week we would have had it.

But this failure has done a curious thing. I feel galvanized. I’m more determined than every to not let these achievements slip away and I’m sure there are more in the guild who are minded like me.

As we head into Ulduar we are going to push Achievements much more agressively than we did with Naxxramas. Bosses will only be on ‘farm’ when we are consistently downing them with the appropriate achievements.

It’s a brave new world out there and I have every confidence that <Unemployed> has the willpower, fortitude, and general chutzpah required to give these new challenges what for!

Leatherworking & Fire-Retardant Fur

So, this weekend I finally took the plunge. With our fearless leader (and dedicated Sarth tank) suffering a massive case of burn-out, someone has to step up to the plate and stare that dragon right in the eye.

Those eyes that are just beyond the long spikey snout filled with sharp jaggey teeth from which spews a VERY painful gout of flame.

Ya know what?

Fur is flammable.

But thanks to Kalon, bears have a resource to consult to help make flaming fur nothing more than a bad dream.

I finally took the time to get my feral goodies in order and construct an actual Stamina/Fire Resist set. It looks very goofy, but I’ll be damned if I’m not rocking 39.7k health unbuffed.

The majority of my weekend was actually spent knocking out quests in Icecrown. See, I needed the Pattern: Fur Lining – Fire Resist, and my drug dealer potion person needed the Recipe: Mighty Fire-Protection Potion. (That I would use in conjucntion with a Nightmare Seed to stay alive) I found that, conveniently, they both dropped from the same mob.

So, priest-man and I grouped up to go out together and farm for this shiz. I was dismayed by the miniscule drop rate listed on WoWHead and had prepared myself to withstand gruelling hours killing mobs over and over, spamming swipe until my face fell off.

We got to the same place and can you guess what we found? Phasing had come and whapped us upside the head. He had completed all of Icecrown. I had barely touched it. That’s right, we couldn’t farm together. So, he bid me adieu and I set out to grinding through (almost) all of Icecrown’s quests. I’m pretty sure that I did over 50 this weekend (and netted myself at least 2k gold in the process)

Now that THAT was out of the way, by this time it was getting late on Sunday and we hunkered down to start farming. Click through and read some of the comments about those Skeletal Runesmiths. The vendor trash was removed, they were only dropping money. What about my pattern? What about the recipe? Were they also removed? None of the comments indicated this, nothing I could find anywhere could tell me one way or another.

So we farmed without knowing if our efforts would ever bear fruit.

Then, about thirty minutes after we’d started a blip of blue popped up in a roll box. It was my fur lining pattern! Hooray hooray oh happy day! I eagerly slammed down a NEED roll and then trained that sucker straight away.

We farmed for maybe 20 minutes more when priest-man called a halt. He’d dug through his alchemy tab and discovered that, whoops, he already had the Mighty Fire Protection Potion. Well, no harm no foul. I had everything I needed!

As of this week, I am ready to tackle that dragon!

Yes, The Wall And My Head Have Long Been Good Friends

And still, familiarity breeds contempt.

Let’s look at some of the points that have been sticking in my craw.

Upon release of The Burning Crusade, once level 70 had been achieved, raiders were presented with:

  • Karazhan : Tier 4, 10-man raid, 9.5 bosses, 2 events, Plenty of interesting trash (CC & tactics required), Located in the Old World
  • Gruul’s Lair : Tier 4, 25-man raid, 2 bosses, Minimal interesting trash (tactics required), Located in Outland
  • Magtheridon’s Lair : Tier 4, 25-man raid, 1 boss, Minimal trash (not much tactics or CC required), Located in Outland
  • Serpentshrine Cavern : Tier 5, 25-man raid, 6 bosses, Robust trash requiring both CC and tactics, Located in Outland
  • Tempest Keep : Tier 5, 25-man raid, 4 bosses, Moderate trash with CC and tactics required, Located in Outland

Totals for raid content on BC release:

  • Number of Raid Instances: 5
  • Number of Tiers: 2
  • Number of Bosses: 24 (9 ‘pure’ bosses in kara, spider & chess=1 boss, opera=1 boss)
  • Difficulty (interest & quantity) of trash: Moderate-high (Highs and lows in each instance)
  • Location appeal: All but one located in Outland, Karazhan being in Old World was a nice touch.

Now, let’s take a look at the Wrath release. Hard modes with different loot will be treated as additional bosses. Because of the extra work for balancing, 10-man raid bosses will count as 1/2 of a boss and will not count as a full extra boss because no new artwork (models, textures, animations, scenery) needed to be created.

  • Naxxramas : Tier 7, 10 & 25-man raid, 15 bosses in 25-man, 5.5 bosses in 10-man, Robust trash but no CC or tactics required, Located in Northrend
  • Obsidian Sanctum : Tier 7, 10 & 25-man raid, 4 bosses in 25-man, 2 bosses in 10-man, Minimal trash with no CC or tactics required, Located in Northrend
  • Eye of Eternity : No Tier, 10 & 25-man raid, 1 boss in 25-man, .5 boss in 10-man, No trash, Located in Northrend
  • Vault of Archavon : Tier 7, 10 & 25-man raid, 1 boss in 25-man, .5 boss in 10-man, Minimal trash with no CC or tactics required, Located in Northrend

Totals for raid content on Wrath Release

  • Number of Raid Instances: 4
  • Number of Tiers: 1
  • Number of Bosses: 28.5
  • Difficulty (Interest & quantity) of trash: Low (Lots of trash in Naxxramas, but no CC or tactics required)
  • Location Appeal: All instances located in Northrend

Now, I realise that a number of my points are personal preference. For example, I believe that being forced to go back to the old world to get to raid content is a good thing. I enjoy connections throughout the world, tying everything together. I also enjoy trash that requires a brain to get through instead of the chain-pull AoE-fest that we are ‘enjoying’ in Naxxramas.

If I were to be as strict on the numbers as I would like (counting 10 and 25-man versions of bosses as one and the same) Wrath would find itself severely lacking in the number of baddies to kill.

But, just looking at the numbers, content proffered in the two expansions upon release seems to be relatively equivalent.

Why then, does it not feel that way?

First, in Wrath, we only have one tier of gear to look forward to, and it’s possible to get almost every single piece from one instance. This is either a good or a bad thing depending on how you feel about it. I’ll get to why I think it’s a bad thing a little later.

Secondly is the trash. Upon the release of 3.0, Crowd-Control died. It was no longer needed. Part of this was from Blizzard’s new paradigm shift of ‘bring the player not the class’ (25-man Razouvious and Faerlina are stark exceptions), and part of it was a conscious effort to make Naxxramas an introductory raid to help newbies get their feet wet.

Those are the reasons, but I don’t accept them as excuses.

For example. The trash in Gruul’s Lair; the entire raid had to stack on the back of some mobs there or they would get charged and wipe the raid. In the Arachnid quarter there are spiders that charge, but this is no more than an annoyance. Nobody dies, and the AoE continues.

If these big spiders hit harder when they charged, requiring that they be sheeped, or rooted (druids can do that indoors now, not that they need to) would help add interest and challenge. It would make the 20-minute achievement more difficult too. If you needed a raid that was geared enough to survive charging spiders so that DPS could be cranked through the roof in order to get through quickly, wouldn’t that make it more worthwhile?

So, back to the numbers

Wrath has more bosses, one less instance. I’m going to tell you that my issue is with variety.

But Tiger! There’s only one less instance! There’s plenty of variety!

NO, there ISN’T.

The vast majority of raiding content in Wrath is in Naxxramas. OS, EoE, and VoA are presented in similar manner to Magtheridon’s Lair and, to a lesser extent Gruul’s (Gruul’s had 2 bosses, remember). Here is your boss, kill him, loot, win.

Imagine, if you will, that BC had just dropped and only contained Karazhan, Gruul’s and Magtheridon’s Lair, and that’s it.

Hmmm, ok, in typical Tiger fashion I’ve realised that that is pretty much what just happened, and it’s not really a bad thing. The problem I’m seeing is that Ulduar will only make this problem worse! Icecrown will then be the icing on the cake that is my dissapointment with Wrath raiding.

All for want of variety.

I made a comment in Vent last night that seemed to be very well-recieved by my guild: I don’t mind banging my head against a wall, I just wish I could bang it on a different wall for a while.

Back in BC, once you progressed beyond Tier 4, if you found yourself getting roflstomped by content you could go and do the other tier of that content. Al’Ar mopping the floor with your face? Go tackle Hydross instead. Leotheras put the bliders on you? Take your tanks and go tackle Void Reaver.

I’ve said before we’re working on Sarth 3D. Our biggest problem is that, after an hour or two of wipes, when we’re getting frustrated and discouraged, there’s nothing else for us to go work on.

But Tiger, Ulduar will have more hard modes! More variety!

How many of those bosses will you need to kill to get to ther bosses? If one boss’s hard mode eludes you, will you have the option to go work on another and come back, or will that chance be lost to you for a whole week?

I think that is a fatal flaw in what appears to be Blizzard’s single-instance tier paradigm. The ability to go bang your head against a different wall is missing.

And that’s why I’m frustrated.

PS – WTB Pally & DK tanks.

No, really, come say hi, please.

Your Twilight, It Torments Me

Vampires not included.

NOW. *deep breath*

I see a lot of blog posts talking about Sarth 3D, about how difficult it was and how so much time was spent on the encounter, how the guild really had to pull together to accomplish it.

I’ve no doubt all this is true. What is lacking, however, is talk of the road to victory. Perhaps <Unemployed> is a bit on the slow side, but we’re still working on it, and I’d like to share a little bit of our journey with you.

We’ve finally gotten to the point, when working on Sartharion with three Drakes, that we’ve stopped loosing people early on to stupid crap like fissures and flame walls. Our DPS are staying alive, our Healers are staying alive and, by proxy, our tanks are staying alive and drakes are dying.

Now we can finally start to troubleshoot the actual encounter.

Thus we have discovered what a bitch Twilight Torment can really be.

Now, I’m not certain -exactly- what our particular problem is, but I can appreciate some of the challenges. Tenebron is dying at a good pace (finally). He’s down to 10-15% by the time Shadron lands and that’s without a bloodlust. With bloodlust we were able to kill him 2-3 seconds before Shadron activated.

The issue now is getting Shadron dead enough that DPS don’t kill themselves trying to get him down the rest of the way so they can pop into the portal and nix the acolytes.

It’s got to be rough to be DPS during that phase. Here you are, needing to push everything you can to get the drake down, yet the more you push the more you kill yourself. Can you afford that next shot? Will a healer get to you in time? Will your DoTs be the end of you?

I daren’t even think of the burden on the healers.

Needless to say, we’re not Twilight Vanquishers yet, but we definitely made progress. Finall we can start working on the meat of the matter instead of just repeating “Stop standing in the fire”.

At least, that’s as long as we don’t get unannounced AFKs. But that’s a subject for another time. *grumble*

Fun Fact – I can survive standing in a void zone. I know because I did it last night, 3 times…

/shame

And Here We Separate the Men From the Boys

Or the Women from the Girls in the case of myself and miss Warlock.

What am I talking about? Why… This of course!

wowscrnshot031609205918

The screenshot was taken by our hunter who’s got a snazzy little addon that takes screencaps whenever he kills a boss, gains an achievement, or levels up. I think it was called something like Scattered Shots, or something. Either way, there it is!

I don’t have my own screenshot because I was too busy squealing and hyperventilating and shaking and by the time I remembered “osh*t screencap” the achievement had faded away.

Here’s the break-down:

We did the bulk of Naxxramas with only 9 people. First we went and killed Razouvious, then we went and took out the Plague quarter, eager to get Heigan out of the way. Next we took a break and breezed through the Arachnid quarter. Actually, that wasn’t a breeze, we had some unfortunate AFKs and we were trying to take things carefully. Trash was done messily but everybody smartened up right quick for the boss kills.

Next we sauntered over and laid the smack down on the Construct quarter and finished up the night back in Military with Gothik. By this time we were debating how we wanted to handle the Horsemen. We knew we could 8-man it, but we were going for Undying so we really wanted another healer for insurance. So, we called it for the night.

Tonight, we went back in with our extra healer, stapled him to a tank, and got down to business. Melee was forbidden on Zeliek and there was much calling out of void zones on Blameaux just to make sure everyone was on their toes.

Once they were dead we moved to Sapphiron and we all donned one pice of Frost Resist and had our Pally toss up frost aura. We weren’t taking any chances. In fact, both the rogue and I (only melee apart from the tank) had to make sure to stay on our toes and out of the blizzards, sometimes even running away from the dragon so that we didn’t get hit. There was one rough moment early on when a blizzard rained down on a group clustered behind an ice block during the first air phase, but our healers were able to valiantly struggle through.

After the dragon came the moment of truth. Would we be beset by lag and find ourselves in failure, or would we be able to rise above, pull together, and claim our titles?

Well, you already know the answer, so I’ll let you know how the fight went.

As per usual, I would be off-tanking this fight. Bell (warrior tank) and I kept the incoming Abominations under control until about 30 seconds before KT popped, then it was all me. The last thing we wanted was for him to have to juggle and Abomination and worry about stacking as much threat on KT as he could.

After that I stepped back and spent most of my time in bear form and kept Faerie Fire (Feral) up on the boss. It’s much easier to keep 2 people in melee apart from each other than it is to keep 3 people far enough apart. Once again, plan for problems, plan for people to get confused, and do your best to make a situation where problems can be fixed on the fly.

Then, 40% came and went and the big bugs came out and it was my turn. I picked one up quickly and had the other mis-directed to me. I had a minor heartattack moment when I’d been tanking for a few seconds and realised I’d forgotten that I needed to pay SPECIAL attention to void zones. I immediately strafed to the right and acertained that no, I’m not in immediate peril (giant bugs wailing on my face not withstanding).

Tanking the adds can be tricky for the sole reason of the void zones. Even if you can outlast the bugs, they get to be so large that you can no longer see your character and if a void zone pops underneath you… well, you won’t see it. So what I do is whenever DBM tells me one has spawned I look around for it. If I don’t immediately see it I strafe. More often than not it’s somewhere I didn’t look and strafing wasn’t needed, but sometimes it is, and it’s those times that can save your life.

So then, after what seemed like an eternity, I happened to mouse over the boss and saw his health was a mere sliver of its previous robust glory. My pulse quickened and my fingers flew. I reminded myself to keep watching for void zones and I prayed that I didn’t get ice-blocked.

And then….

The Undying.

It felt amazing. It’s the feeling I used to get on a first kill back in BC days. It felt like the first time we killed Rage Winterchill in Mount Hyjal. After weeks of working, we’d finally done it!

THAT, my friends, is what true progression feels like. I miss those edge-of-your-seat fights where you hope and pray that everyone has brought their A game and that maybe, just maybe, tonight will be THE night.

And when it is?

Ooooh baby you’re on top of the world.

Monday Moooosik

And Pandora makes a come-back! Here’s the first three songs that rolled up for me this morning, my rating, and my thoughts.

  1. Re-Align by Godsmack – Unrated until this morning, given a Thumbs Up – I’ve been a Godsmack fan for a while now. I’ve used the ‘add variety’ button twice on this playlist, I suspect this is a result of my first added variety, the band Loudermilk.
  2. Awaken by Disturbed – Unrated, stayed Unrated – I skipped this. I do like Disturbed, but when their ten-thousand fists CD came out I listened to that non-stop for a month or two. All their stuff tends to blur together for me now so Disturbed is a once in a while type thing, and I wasn’t in the mood for it this morning.
  3. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Metallica – Unrated, given thumbs down – Bleh. I don’t have anything against Metallica, I just wasn’t in the mood for it this morning, maybe with a thumbs down Pandora will get the hint. Plus, the version that rolled up was a live version and I hate listening to live versions (unless I’m there of course)

That’s it for the first installement of Monday Moooosik. As for WoW-related activities, well… There’s only three bosses standing between me and The Undying. We’re finishing up Naxx-10 tonight, so wish us luck!

Last time we were shooting for Undying, when we got to KT I got iceblocked while tanking the two adds. We were also 8-manning it and some of us had forgotten to remove our frost resist. Hopefully this time, packing an extra DPS and one more Healer we’ll be able to set up enough redundencies that we can take out insurance against something unfortunate like that happening again.

Other than those two we still have the 4-Horsemen to take care of. When we did them with 8 people we survived with nobody dying, but our healing shadow priests assured us that it was a very close thing indeed. Once again, we need to do our best to set up redundencies in case someone DCs or gets an unfortunate lag spike.

When we decided to call Naxx last night we went and took care of Gotta Go When the Volcano Blows for 4 people, myself included. I’ll tell you what, when there’s only two* DPS on Sartharion he takes a LONG ass time to kill. First try we got him to about 10% before one of our tanks bit the big one. The second try it was about 5 percent and the last tank was able to hang on until he died.

The healers assure me it was an epic battle. I wouldn’t really know, I was lying on the ground in a pile with three other naked bodies.

Needless to say, they did an AMAZING job. Now I need to make sure to grab my Frost Resist belt from the bank before hitting Naxx again tonight and we’ll be good to go!

*Edited because I can’t count, see comments if you want to lol @ me.

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