Good morning! Happy Halloween!
Tonight, Big Bear Butt will be away from Azeroth as he sits near the door and prepares to destroy any potential ‘egg’ers. Oh yeah, and hand out candy. I think I’m ready. Candy, check. Shotgun, check. Rock salt, check. Quotes from Samuel Jackson movies, check. Tar, feathers and a rail to ride ’em out on? Check, check, check. Claymores, punji pits and concertina to channel the avenues of approach? Check, check, check.
Azeroth may have to survive without me for one night, but that doesn’t mean that my guilds’ progression in Karazhan will fall behind. Oh, no. Not hardly.
As you might imagine from the post title, we made it at least to Moroes last night. And the experience was quite fun.
This week, I was invited to join our guilds’ Group 1 run. It was explained to me that the guild wanted to take players from each team to try and clear as much as possible early on, so that more of the week would be left to address Netherspite and Nightbane. I could expect some fast runs and rapid pulls.
On my first run with Group 1, a few real differences were apparent early on.
Our Mage Jayboi and Warlock Nawat, who are infamous for competing over who does more damage on the meters, continued to needle each other about it… but Damage Meter results were never posted in Raid Chat. One person not in thier competition was curious where they stood, and Nawat said he could whisper the results to him, but wouldn’t post it over Raid Chat. This made me, so… very happy. 😛
Another difference that I noticed right away, was that I logged in a half hour before start time to verify I was repaired, and to give me time to get consumables if necessary. When I logged in, I was whispered that now that I was on, we were only waiting on two folks, and we could get started right away. And most folks were already racing around capitol cities in the Ironforge or Stormwind areas, clearly taking care of last minute details like me before heading over to the Deadwind Pass area themselves. Everyone was at LEAST on time and ready to go by start, and most people seemed to expect to have to carry their own butts to the raid instead of waiting for summons.
Now, one impression I used to have was that a successful raiding team were all sober, businesslike and rigid hard-hat types. Maybe it’s the Leroy Jenkins parody, but my mental image was of a group of serious, DEADLY serious people with calculator watches, spreadsheets and charted maps of pulls, analyzing boss fights and creating strict playbooks of tactics like a modern football game. Dry, boring, and about as much fun as watching paint dry, without the joy of sniffing the fumes.
Well, whatever I may have expected, Group 1 sure wasn’t boring… or rigid, or dull or whatever. Folks were serious about kicking Kara’s @$$, but everyone definitely was in the ‘this is a game, we are going to have FUN’ frame of mind. Fun as in mocking, cynical, abusive joking, not as in ‘let’s blow up some balloons and have a party with a clown and a PONY!‘
And yes, the rivalry between the Mage and Warlock was part of the fun. It’s refreshing to play with people that can be competitive and aggressive, without being stupid or endangering the run.
Okay, yeah, right, I know, it was fun, but you guys weren’t there so I need to get a move on.
First step into Karazhan and the objective is Attumen. I will be off-tank, Joppers, the Raid Leader and a prot warrior, main tanked.
We buffed up and ran it. As the trash mobs are on a timer for Attumen, and any respawns come running when you attack Midnight, it’s critical for the raid to be able to handle multi-mob pulls quickly and efficiently on this run. As the off-tank, the experience was completely different. I only had to off-tank one mob the whole run, so early on I realized that if I was going to contribute to this raid, I was going to have to be as flexible as possible. In situations where pulls broke free of Crowd Control or additional mobs were aggroed, I’d have to be ready to tank and rip that aggro away from squishies effectively. But when not actively tanking, I would have to provide melee DPS without pulling aggro from the main tank. I’d also have to be flexible enough to judge when to AOE instead of melee DPS, when spot healing or Innervate was necessary and on whom, and in general actually play my class, instead of just being a silly old bear.
One internal question I had at the time was whether it would be best to switch gear according to the pulls or not. Shold I be in cat gear for max DPS when there was no off-tank target?
In the end, I made the decision to keep my tanking gear on while in kitty form. I knew I would end up doing poor overall DPS, but at least I would be ready for emergency tankage.
Later in the raid, when things were going smoothly, I tried to switch gear as the pull required, but there were a few times we got caught with bad adds, or a suddenly dead main tank, and I went down so fast Bearing in cat gear that it taught me caution. Sum durids is cat, and sum durids is bare, but I decided to stick with only one type of fur :P.
The Attumen fight went fast. We entered at 7PM server time. We cleared trash, I attacked Midnight 11 minutes in, and Attumen went down smooth as silk. I started in Bear tanking Midnight, and when Attumen mounted Midnight I backed off, let the main tank take him, switched to cat (still in bear gear) and at the right moment provided melee DPS. Mostly Feral Faerie Fire, and Mangle followed by Shreds until the Mangle debuff expired. Then reapply Mangle and back to Shreds. I tried various Finishing Moves, but he seemed to be immune to Rip and Pounce. Ferocious Bite worked, but I hated to waste the Energy on that when it took away my Shreds for a long time. I definitely need work on that.
Another thing to note, I need to work on for the next run, is that while armor cannot be switched while in Combat, weapons can. Normally, that’s not necessary, but if I’m going to be off-tanking a lot and staying in bear gear to be ready for tanking emergencies, then I’ll want to be able to do hot swaps of weapons on the fly. Right now I only have full gear swaps between bear and cat, plus movement and fishing gear, etc. I need to add weapon-only swaps to my ItemRack addon so I can swap my weapon in my role a LOT easier.
We killed Attumen, and he failed to drop any gear usable to me. On to Moroes!
We took the stairs up to the Grand Ballroom to reach Moroes. In this situation, the main tank actually left, swapping in another player, and I main tanked all the trash pulls while we worked our way in and cleared the Moroes area. The main tank returned when we were actually ready for the boss fight.
As the main tank for the trash before Moroes, I followed what I’d been doing the last few runs, starting a pull on AOE groups with Moonfire, darting down the stairs out of line of sight, popping Barkskin when they reached me and using Hurricane to provide my own AOE to support the Mages. Practice paid off, and our pulls went very smooth.
With the main tank back, we faced off on Moroes. I off-tanked Moroes, assisting the main tank. I kept my eye on an opportunity to shift out and cast Innervate during a Moroes vanish if necessary, but to be honest the group was so strong that it wasn’t needed. I did come to really enjoy having the timers of Deadly Boss Mods though. Very helpful, and not the info overload I was worried about.
Moroes went down fast, and I believe we had no deaths. On looting, he dropped [Moroes Lucky Pocket Watch], which I gladly took, replacing my [Commanders’ Badge]. So long +45 Stamina, hello +2% passive dodge and +17% dodge for 10 seconds every two minutes.
With Moroes down, we moved on to Maiden. At this point we were a little less than one hour in, and moving fine. We cleared the way to Maiden, again with me ostensibly off-tanking, but spending most of my time in cat form providing DPS. On AOE pulls I kept up the Barkskin/Hurricane pattern, just not being the one doing the pulling.
It was right around here we had our first wipe, when we had one of the corridor pulls get multiple adds from a patrol, and I was caught in kitty gear and as squishie as the rest of the group. I figured I learnt my lesson, and stayed in bear gear for a while after that… but events were to prove I hadn’t learnt my lesson well enough.
On Maiden herself, we took two tries to finish her. My role was to be a HoT healer for the main tank. As the main tank secured aggro and kept Maiden in the middle, it was my job to stand in bear form just inside the AOE range of Holy Ground, and get hit. When Repentance goes off and everyone but the main tank gets stunned, I get hit by the AOE and break stun, step down off platform out of AOE range and shift to caster, getting my heals off on the main tank and helping to keep him alive.
As I said, it took us two tries to beat her, but we did. My only regret was that I didn’t actually have healer gear for the fight, as I haven’t used mine in months. I did cast my heals, but they would have been much more effective with decent stats. And maybe I wouldn’t have run Out of Mana so fast. Note to self… pack the healer gear for the raids next time.
Maiden didn’t drop anything of interest to feral druids, so off we went.
Okay, at this point we’ve downed Attumen and Midnight, Moroes, and Maiden of Virtue. I’m pretty darned happy, it’s been a good run. I look tiredly at the clock, only to see it’s only 8:30. Still plenty of time!
Off we scamper to check out the Opera Event. We clear our way there, making good time, everyone is still focused. We get to the Stage Manager, and the main tank asks us to just stand in another room while he checks which event it is. I specifically ask if we should be ready to run in, since Whirlish pulled that one on us last week. “No,” is the reply, “I’ll die. We just want to find out what event we have.”
Moments later, the main tank yells for us all to run on stage. Damn it!
We have Big Bad Wolf this time, and it’s hella fun. So far I’m liking the Opera events, they’re a hoot. In this one, Grandma is hanging out on stage alone. When we kick off the fight, she transforms into a massive super-giant wolfman, and one member of the raid gets the ‘Red Riding Hood’ debuff. It seems to turn you into a gnome with blond pigtails in a red riding hood cloak. The Wolf starts chasing you around no matter how much aggro the tank has. Your job, if you are Red, is to run like hell for the edge of the stage, and then run like hell following the perimeter of the stage as close as possible to kite the wolf around in big circles. After a bit, the debuff fades and the tank can reestablish aggro.
I got turned into Red twice, and it was sure exciting being chased around with the raid shouting encouragement. I stayed in bear gear the whole fight, but I spent my time, when not getting chased, DPSing the Wolf in cat form. The fight went smooth, and we succeeded first try. Again, the loot is checked, and happy raiders are we.
Now it’s decision time. What to do? “Off to the Curator!” we cry, and head for the back door.
Having done this late last week, the memories are still fresh of the route for clearing trash. We hustle along, and make it to the Curator around 9:15 PM. Good, solid time for taking him down. In this fight, my role specifically will be to DPS the Astral Flares. I create a “/target astral flare” macro, switch to cat gear, and get ready to go chasing little puffballs of light.
During the fight with Curator, my main responsibility is taking down Astral Flares as fast as possible. It takes me a few minutes to get into the swing, but once again Deadly Boss Mods makes a nice difference, since it lets me know exactly when a new one is about to spawn so I’m already ‘checking my six’ for him and hitting my macro to pick him up. In most cases I can intercept him before he reaches the casters.
During Evocation, I make damn sure I’m on top of Curator pounding out the DPS as fast as possible.
That’s it, thats my role in the fight. We took down Curator, and he dropped the Gloves of the Fallen Champion, the Paladin, Rogue, Shaman Tier 4 token, which no one in the raid needed. There was one priest ahead of me on DKP to get the token if it was for my class, but still, it really blows to have Tier 4 drop and no one be able to use it!
At this point, folks were starting to get a little sloppy. We made the decision to push on to Illhoof, and Shade of Aran. It quickly became clear that we were all pretty tired, and in the case of a few, perhaps a little distracted by da beers. We ended up wiping a few times, and in one of these I was once again caught in cat gear during a bad add pull. Finally, I hope I learnt my lesson. “No more cat gear when off-tank, damn it!”
We were so low on durability at this point that some people started making ‘quit for the evening’ noises. And that’s when I whipped out my handy-dandy [Field Repair Bot 74A]. And there was much rejoicing.
We repaired, we sorta pulled it together, and managed to clear the rest of the way to Illhoof. We did okay, but you could REALLY tell we were a bit straggly now. By the time we hit Illhoof, it was around 10:30, and I was pooped.
Before our first try, I had finally done some studying and knew that someone would have to off-tank the Imp, and I figured it’d be me. And I’d need to keep him close to Illhoof so he would get hit by Seed of Corruption. And I’d need to be prepared to attack the Chains to save the sacrifice before he died. Plus I’d need to try to kill the Imp as fast as possible, to get the enhanced damage debuff on Illhoof. Plus when the Imp respawns he almost always goes straight for the casters.
Yeah, so why are we attempting this tired? lol.
Anyway, we try, we struggle, I end up the sacrifice like 5 times, and in the end we wipe with Illhoof at about 6%. And there was much crying, and wailing and gnashing of teeth.
My wife had come downstairs to tell me something, and got to witness this chaotic bloodbath. I have no idea what she thought of it, but it sure was disheartening to lose when Illhoof was so close.
As tired as we were, we knew this was our last shot before calling it a night. And there was no way in heck we were trying Shade of Aran last night.
The theory was raised that I was made the sacrifice so often because I was top of the Imps’ aggro chart. Also, I was the only one DPSing the imp, so it took longer to get Illhoof down. We changed the plan, and had a Mage help me DPS the Imp.
I don’t remember much about the fight. It is a chaotic haze of running, screaming, cursing, attacking chains and Illhoof and the Imp and charging down the Imp respawns and basically praying for the battle to be over.
When the smoke cleared, we had won! Illhoof was down… and had not dropped any feral druid gear. No cloak, no staff. (Granted, the cloak was going to go to the main tank, who has massive DKP, but still… if he didn’t get it, then there is no chance I can get it next time.) Damn him!
A hell of a night. We entered Karazhan at 7:00 PM. Finished at 11:15 PM. Final tally of dead bosses:
- Attumen and Midnight
- Maiden of Virtue
- Big Bad Wolf
- The Curator
- Terestian Illhoof
Tonight, we rest. Thursday, we return, with the entire weekend to face down Shade of Aran, the Chess Event, Prince Malchezaar, Nightbane and Netherspite.
I am tired, but happy. By any standard, we kicked a fair amount of booty last night.
It bears being said, this is a fine example of how a focused, organized and prepared raiding guild can accompish far more in a shorter amount of time than a more disorganized ‘casual’ raiding guild. I come more and more to agree with many of the things Robin Torres said in her Azeroth Interrupted article. In the time it usually took Group 2 to beat Moroes, what with occasional wipes and late starts, Group 1 had already downed the Maiden.
As far as this massive wall of text goes, I hope that some of the things I describe during the fights help out other feral druids in preparing for Karazhan… and I hope other more experienced druids out there offer your advice on what you do during some of these fights.
In the meantime, I’m putting this novel to bed and going and getting some lunch.