Posts Tagged ‘ Raid Leading ’

Faction Champions Can Go Jump In My Litter Box

My frustration with this fight can boil down to one sentence.

Get your PvP out of my PvE.

Last night was a beautiful one-shot of the first two coliseum bosses, even despite my ‘doh moment of taunting the magnataur too soon, amassing five stacks, and then letting the other tank die. (I’m so high-maintenance). The Jaraxxus kill was everything I could have asked for and more. No one died, no one stood in the fire, no one was screaming at me to “Get this Infernal out of my face aaaaan infernals in my face!”

PS – that’s a fight where your lesser-geared (or lesser-skilled) tank can get some time in the limelight as main tank. So long as everything is interrupted/dispelled/purged properly, Jaraxxus hits like a kitten (and not the ferocious face-ripping kind, more like the lolferal pre-BC kind)

But then came the faction champions.

/grind teeth

We spent most of the night cycling through every form of CC we could muster in order to keep one healer locked down while burning the other (we had resto druid, holy priest, enh shaman, mage, rogue, warlock-with fel puppy)

We wiped, and we wiped, and we wiped some more. Granted, I saw some of our raiders rise to multitasking like I’d never thought they could (it was beautiful, really) But we couldn’t kill them.

In fact, we didn’t make any measurable progress until we adopted a more chatoic, blitz style, with myself running interference. (I know nothing about football, so forgive me if my analogies limp)

Everyone was to burn down the priest as fast as possible (He’s the squishiest, he can be interrupted, so we only have to deal with his (and the druid’s) hots instead of dealing with hots from the druid and casts from the priest if we tried to kill the druid first)

So, we’d burn the priest, then we’d bloodlust and kill the druid. Next we’d kill the warlock (thinking this would also rid us of the fel-puppy, no such luck there) and then we’d take out the mage, rogue, and shaman in that order.

MY job, was totem-stomping, and ping-pong.

Wait, whut?

Swipe is very good at taking out totems. Bear swipe that is. When I’m not swiping at totems I’ve got my camera zoomed all the way out and I’m using every taunt I’ve got, as often as I’ve got it, to pull the melee off of our casters.

This worked pretty well. I think tonight, if we go in with two tanks (we had an enhancement shaman tanking on his warrior alt, then had him switch to his shaman for the pvp bit) I think we’ll get this pretty readily. We’re replacing a shadow priest with an elemental shaman so we won’t miss the bloodlust from the enhancements shaman. We’ve still got healing priests to mass-dispell heroism.

We’ll kill these guys tonight, I’ve no doubt of that.

That doesn’t mean I have to like it.

The Importance of Pacing

As a Raid Leader, part of my job is to decide what bosses we’re going to kill on any particular night. I have to draw on my personal knowledge of the encounter, estimate how much experience everyone else has, their performance, and how much time each boss and its assigned trash is going to take.

When we first started Ulduar 25 in earnest, we got about as far as Kologarn, leaving Auriaya up after a wipe or two and calling it a night. That was after easy-modeing Flame Leviathan, and going straight to XT. We skipped Razorscale, Ignis, and the Iron Council for quite a while.

Then, once we got a handle on XT, Kologarn, and Auriaya and had started working on keepers we inserted those other bosses in at the end of raids.

Then came this week.

And yesterday.

We’ve finally hit that sweet spot. Last night we dove straight through Flame Leviathan, did XT, then Kologarn, and finally Auriaya. She died at 8:15. Our raid time starts at 7, and we raid until 10. So, that was a little less than half our raid to get to the keepers.

Unfortunately for me, I hadn’t guessed in my wildest dreams that we’d be able to steamroll through the required bosses that quickly. The keepers (mostly) require a good amount of set-up (see below) before we tackle them.

Tonight's Roster, Lookit that beast!

Tonight's Roster, Lookit that beast!

plus bunny ^_^

Anyhoo, this is the set-up for all four keepers. Two we’ve killed before (Freya and Hodir), one we’re so damn close we can taste his defeat (Thorim) and another we’ve never seen on 25-man, and never beaten at all (Mimiron).

Last week I was completely floored when our guild managed to 1-shot Freya and we 2-shot Hodir. We had 6 attempts on Thorim with the last one ending in a wipe at 15% or so and the only outstanding problem was the lack of a set tank taunt order. This is now fixed, and I have every confidence we’ll see him dead tonight.

The real kicker is, we raid for three hours a night, three nights a week. It’s a relatively short raid night in a relatively short raid week. When we first started working on Ulduar I knew Yogg-Saron was a long ways away, and (after our previous failure to down Sartharion 3D before 3.2) I never thought we’d get to see Algalon.

14 bosses in 9 hours? Surely it’s not possible.

Oh, sure, there’s speed runs of all of Naxx completed in 2-3 hours, and that’s 15 bosses. But, you see, Naxx was easy. Ulduar is… well… not so much.

I wasn’t sure if we’d ever have the time and ability to blaze through these bosses and get deeper into Ulduar.

Last night, my guild showed me how very wrong I’d been.

Now, tonight we’ll kill three keepers, of this I have no doubt, and then we’ll start working on one of the most difficult fights in the entire instance, Mimiron.

I don’t think we’ll kill him tonight, and I would be surprised if we killed him tomorrow night, but if the raiders of Unemployed bring the kind of focus and skill they’ve shown thus far, I could definitely see us… what was that term the dear Panzercow used? Oh yes…

Next week, we’ll definitely manage to beat the Yoggy out of him.

It’s All In The Wrist

So last night was Tuesday. This means patch day, and the kick-off to our raid week.

This patch-day something… odd happened.

There were the normal grumblings about people getting stuck on the downloader, issues and hiccups getting in-game. Though I do have to note that I was patched and up and running in record time thanks to Mr. Tigerfeet downloading the patch for us through a mirror while I was at work (I’m really going to miss stuff like this when he finally finds a job)

But we got in, got everyone together, loaded up into our vehicles, and rolled out for a repeat performance of Heroic: Unbroken.

Simple, yea?

Then we worked our way through the XT trash. This is almost always a messy business, but there wasn’t anything that happened to raise any flags.

Then we started on XT. And we wiped.

Hmmmmmm. I couldn’t see anything (nor could the other officers) that was a glaring problems. It just looked like general sloppy play.

Ok then. Over Vent: “Ok guys, I’ll remind you just to make sure, do this this and this, don’t blow anyone up, don’t be stupid, we’ve got this guy”. Next attempt we killed him, but again, it was pretty messey.

By this point I was noticing something wrong. I DPS on the XT fight, and my numbers were LOW. So too, in fact, were most everyone else’s.

The fact that Beserk wasn’t working properly was our first clue.

It wasn’t until we got past Kologarn, and then banged our heads on Auriaya a few times that it really became apparent that something was very, very wrong. One kind guildie must have noticed something on the forums because he piped up about a talent glitch, people having problems with energy (yep), Runic Power, Rage, etc.

Yeah, yeah, that sounded familiar.

But this was our raid-time dammit, we might be under-performing, but Auriaya ain’t no thing so long as you get the pull right. We’ve got this.

No, NOW we’ve got this

Ho-kay, next time warn us when the Feral Defender drops, this time we’ve got it.

No… now…. NOW!

After multiple wipes caused by a myriad of little tiny things that normally wouldn’t cause us to bat an eye, this little thing flashed along the bottom of our screens…

Server Restart: 15 Minutes

Fifteen minutes? We’d just recovered from our last wipe, I had the cats marked up and we were pretty much ready to pull.

We can do this in 15 minutes!

And you know what?

We DID.

Finally, with the threat of the Server coming crashing down on our ears, we pulled up our britches, straightened our knuckles, put on our girrrrr faces, and showed Auriaya what for.

I swear, even disadvantaged like we were last night, We do our best when under pressure!

Afterwards, instead of attempting to tackle another Ulduar boss, we groupd up in Wintergrasp to run a 25-man VoA. Emalon, and then Archavon down no problem at all. Whatever they did during the re-start fixed our talent and energy issues juuuuuuust fine!

Meanwhile, I think being forced to perform better (or face annihilation) will actually go a good ways towards making us a stronger group. We’re <Unemployed>, and we thrive on adversity!

News Flash!

Raid leading takes up a whole hell of a lot of time.

It’s a lot more than just logging on and getting the raid going and convincing a gaggle of cats that they’re actually ducks and should stay nicely in a row.

Now my day goes something like this:

  • Log onto guild website
  • Putter about, check for PMs, check for updated availability posts on our forums.
  • Log into G-mail and mosey on over to google docs
  • Open roster spreadsheet
  • Either a) start plugging in names, or b) lounge about until Pilsner logs on to help me plug in names
  • Eventually Pilsner logs on and we work together to agonize about who gets to go and who doesn’t. She proceeds to have an obscene amount of fun re-name class roles (Bear tank = Bare, cat dps = lolCat, Frost DK tank = Frosted Flake, etc)
  • With roster assembled, we decide what bosses we want to go harass (or be harassed by) and what strategies to use.
  • Sometimes I go look up strategies.

And, unfortunately, all that careful time and preparation used to be time I put into writing this blog.

I am, however, by NO MEANS implying that I’m shutting down. No way josé! Writing to me has become a bit of an addiction. It’s just not something I’ll be able to indulge in on a daily basis anymore. Or, not until I get more settled into this role.

In other news, Rainseeker dinged 60 last night. She dinged 60 as Mr Tigerfeet stood over my shoulder with his arms crossed tapping his foot because it was time and more than time that I get to bed. He’s very insistent about my bed-time because he’s the one that has to wake my groggy ass up in the morning (crazy man only needs 5 hours of sleep).

Check Your Buffs, Flasks, Presences, Forms… Gear… SPEC?

Back in the day (/rockingchair) when we had a Death Knight main tank and raid leader, he would, now and again, forget which presence he was in and attempt to tank something in oh… say… Blood Presence. This would invariably result in the best of our DPSers ripping aggro, then dumping aggro, then whatever big bad beastie we happened to be picking on would proceed to chomp the healers and pandemonium would ensue.

We would all be standing at the spirit healer, looking around and wondering ‘What happened?’. Well, our Raid Leader being an honest chap and not wanting raiders to start fretting would sheepishly pipe up that “Oops, I was in the wrong presence…”

We’d all laugh and head back to the boss and then rib him about it when he was getting ready to pull. Hence, the raid leader’s mantra:

Check your Buffls, Flasks, Presences, Auras, Stances, Forms…

That was standard for a good long time.

Then came Dual-Specs, and my Sunday DPS runs.

What’s my Sunday DPS runs got to do with this? Well, on Sunday I slip into my DPS spec, and my DPS gear. I’ve got a button bar that shows which gearset I’m currently wearing so it’s easy to keep an eye on that, but it’s not quite the same for Talent Specialization.

Especially when both specializations are Feral. If my dual-spec were resto or balance it would be quite obvious that something was amiss. (Why is there moonkin/tree of life on my shift bar?)

I’m sure you can all see where this is going.

On Tuesday, as I mentioned before, we split into tens. What I didn’t mention was our spectacular, wonderful, very impressive one-shot of the XT-002 Deconstructor.

No thanks to me.

I nabbed Main Tank duty because the main tank just kinda stands there. Very often in Wrath, MT duty is the less complicated, so, as a raid leader, I like taking these jobs because it allows me an easier time to keep an eye on everyone else.

Back to the story at hand. I was main-tanking XT. Everything was going as planned, then the first heart phase came. I shifted to cat and started letting loose. We popped our Bloodlust at this point and I’ll be damned if we didn’t get XT down to 54% by the end of that phase.

Wow, great job!

Just a few more percentage points and we were on the second add phase. This time we didn’t have a Bloodlust. I was still doing quite a bit of damage, and noticed copious crits that I don’t usually see while tank-specced.

It registered as ‘odd’ but not ‘important’. At this point I was more worried about the double-wave of adds we had incoming. I was yelling for Death and Decay from our two Death Knights and praying our only two ranged DPS were up to keeping the incoming robots under control.

Soon enough we were through the second heart phase and this is when things got interesting.

The healers were starting to get a little stressed, what with our OT holding 3-4 pummelers, tantrums coming, and the occasional Boombot making its way to the melee. I glanced down at my bar and noticed Barkskin wasn’t on Cooldown.

Well, ok, /mangle.

Nothing.

I have Barkskin macro’d into my Bear mangle.

I have Barkskin macro’d into my Bear mangle on my BEAR SKILLSET BAR.

So I manually slam Barkskin, hit ‘N’ after that and see, with a sinking heart, the lower Paw illuminated on my Talents tab.

I was in cat spec.

I was tanking without Thick Hide, without Protector of the Pack, without any of those oh-so-necessary talents that make Bears the wonderful things they are.

I was even CRITTABLE NOT DODGING!

But here we were, by this point just beyond the last add phase. We were so close, the healers were gasping, the DPS going full-tilt trying to mop up the scrapbots as they came in and my health was veering all over the place.

I popped Survival Instincts during a tantrum, Frenzied regeneration soon after that. I used my Defender’s Code and prayed for Essence of Gossamer procs. I was more careful with keeping up Lacerate for the Savage Defense procs than I’d ever been in my tanking career.

Just hold on, just a little farther, I’m sorry, I’m sorry… please don’t let my stupidity be the ruination of what has been such a wonderful thing…

Then the repair bots came in. Our ranged were out of mana, our melee were already giving everything they got and one…. two…. three….

four….

XT hovered between 1 and 2% for what felt like an eternity.

Then all the repair bots were dead, there were no more to come, and the DPS pushed what little they had left

20k health

10k…

5k…

dead.

They’d done it. With my health oscillating wildly, my healer gaspingly out of mana and beginning to question his worth for anything, we had killed the robot.

A One-shot, and no thanks to me, but I am DAMNED proud of the team we had that night.

The Dedicated Few

Or… The value of Ten.

We’re still fighting the sign-up boss, and this week we found ourselves getting downed by the show-up boss. I’ve made the mistake of assuming that other members are as tenacious, loyal, determined, and thrice-cursed stubborn as myself.

What do I mean? I will raid come hell or high water. If I tell you I’m going to be there I will be there. If there’s even a shadow of suspicion that I might not be there I’ll let you know about it. Every time that’s happened though, I’ve managed to meet my commitments.

Last night we had 25 people firmly rostered, but come raid-time two were missing, and we had no way to fill the gaps, and at our level of gear and performance there’s no way we’d be able to run Ulduar under-manned. And so, we split into tens.

It finally became clear to me that our failings aren’t personal ones. I’m not responsible for these members not showing. I cannot control their actions. Their failure to show, while it affects me (and 22 other people) was not caused by me.

It’s also obvious that to sucessfully raid 25-man dungeons we don’t need 25 people, we need something more in the ballpark of 35. Beyond having a guaranteed minimum of 25 for every raid night, it’s valuable to have the luxury of benching someone who under-performs, or benching someone by way of punishment for unacceptable behavior, or flakiness.

At the moment we don’t have that luxury. We have to squeeze rocks to make them bleed, and bring along every scrap we can find.

No Longer.

Last night we split into 10s. We had some extra, so we asked for volunteers to sit out. Those volunteers will find themselves raiding tonight, and possibly tomorrow night as well.

Last night showed me the value of 10-man raiding. I always knew we would find value in it, but I still rejected the idea. After last night, however, I’m determined to make the best of what seems like a grim situation.

We killed five bosses last night and I believe the second group found similar success. After we took out Auriaya it was 9:15 so we rotated back and took out Razorscale. By that time we had 10-15 minutes left so, instead of going to look at Ignis, we decided to poke our heads into something completely different and ran off to cavort with Hodir’s trash.

We didn’t quite make it to Hodir before raid time and a few people needed to leave so we left it there. Tonight we’re going to start on Freya.

The point is, we saw success. Success for us has been a very fleeting thing in the 25-man arena. My dogged determination to run 25s at whatever the cost has been hampering our progression as well. Now, after one night, we’ve gone as far as we ever have and we’ve got two more nights to raid. Instead of attempting to strong-arm people into doing 25s this week (and taking a further step back in progression), we’re dedicating ourselves to 10s and striving to get as far as we can within a full raid week.

I also noticed a curious side-effect. And no, I’m not talking about people getting to learn the fights and see the encounters. That’s our main goal with rushing through in 10-mans this week.

No, this side-effect is the gearing of off-sets. Almost all of us are fully kitted out in 25-man Naxxramas gear with goodies from Malygos and Sartharion 2D. There’s not a whole lot of upgrades for us in 10-man Ulduar. But for off-spec?

The upgrades are falling like rain.

With the advent of dual spec we now have the opportunity to ask people to run their dual-spec if we need them, and raiders have the opportunity to try out something new if they want.

We’re not shoe-horning anyone into a role they’re not happy with, by any streach of the imagination, but it’s nice to have the option of rotating members to different roles as well as getting them gear within those roles.

Tonight, and tomorrow night I’m goint to see the keepers for the first time. I’m actually excited. Maybe after dedicating this week to 10-mans instead of hoping for 25s we’ll be able to get the sign-ups (and show-ups!) to really sink our teeth into Heroic progression next week.

And Little Did I Know…

That beneath his peaceful, unassuming bark…

was a raging feral feline just waiting to be unleashed!

picture-1

This is a copy of the WWS from last night. I’ve focused on our kill for 25-man XT-002 Deconstructor.

(Yes we killed him! and 10 seconds before the enrage too! /confetti)

Top five DpS, we have a Combat Rogue, a Retribution Paladin, TWO(!) feral felines, and a Destruction Warlock.

Beyond our success last night, beyond this new feeling of synergy I have with the other officers, beyond all of that, I think I’m most excited about seeing one of our members (who had struggled in the past) finally find his niche.

He’d been running as a healer before and, quite frankly, had the raid awareness of a can of beans. He was particularly suceptible to healer tunnel-vision, and the source of much frustration during our Sartharion 3D attempts. He wasn’t a bad healer, but when he was put in a situation where he needed to pay critical attention to something other than health bars his skill began to falter.

We in Unemployed have found ourselves fortunate enough to have a slight (SLIGHT!) over-abundance of healers. Enough definitely so that we could safely rotate one or two in and out of DpS slots as needed. So, to our newly-furred friend, I popped the question yesterday before the raid: “Would you like to forsake your branchey roots and devote yourself full-time to the fine art of ripping face?”

The answer was yes.

My hopes weren’t particularly high, however. I suggested Rogue Power Bars to him, and I pointed him at Feral by Night and Face Mauler, thinking the best I might be able to hope for was to set him up with something that told him what to do and when so that at least he wouldn’t be an embarrassment.

What did I get for my under-estimation?

I got freaking blown away.

I asked him after the fact which addons he’d installed and was using. The answer? Just Rogue Power Bars. He hadn’t bothered with the skill-eliminating addons I’d so derided in my post last week. It was all him.

I am so freaking proud! I feel a little ridiculous that I feel so strongly about this, I feel like I took a wobbling, unsure little chick and have finally helped it find its eagle’s wings.

PS?

BEST KILL-SHOT EVER