The Weary Warlock Part 4 – We Don’t Need No Stinking Ashes

The truculent ten formed up in front of the gates of Orgrimmar.

There was a bit of a struggle, and in the end we agreed we’d compromise. We wouldn’t throw Mibs out front to check for land mines; we’d throw his imps instead.

Summibs was fine with this. Thanks to some trinket he had called the Unerring Vision of Lei Shen, Mibs claimed he now possessed the power of, what the heck was it… oh, right. “Many imps, handle it!”

So we did. Go ahead, toss an imp. He’ll proc more.

We rolled on into Orgrimmar. What the heck, the place must be deserted, right? Maybe they were all at home, watching Breaking Bad. Let’s face it, if an entire army were camped inside of Orgrimmar, they’d send more than ten of us to deal with it.

At first, we met only token resistance. A couple of blind swordmasters. Well shoot, that just drives home the point, all the ones that could see were watching the TV. How bad could these guys be, anyway?

We all stopped at that, and almost as one, let loose our battle cry and charged. We blew cooldowns, summoned army, unleashed hell and if possible would have had Galactus in reserve ready to eat the planet if we failed.

Hey, turns out, they really were wimps. Who would have seen THAT coming? I still remember the snails. In my dreams, I mean. I still see those slime trails, the never-ending slime trails. The endless, ravaging hunger of the snails. I wake up screaming, soaked in sweat, night after night.

Those damn snails.

Wait, sorry, what? Oh, right. Orgrimmar.

We entered the city proper, and to our shock the place was fully populated. Orcs everywhere! And they had some of OUR people in cages, strung up on poles, spiked and tortured and wailing.

But still alive, damn them, they had some of our people in there still alive, kept in cages like animals.

We leapt into action, charging into the Orcs, tearing them apart in search of the keys to free some of our fellows.

Then someone noticed that the store clerks were still in the shops, the auction house was open, everything was open for business. Well, shit, time to go stock up, me hearties! Yo dudes, chill, we be right back.

“Holy cow!” claimed one Misfit, “there are boxes and crates filled with loot and flasks in these stores! Sack the city!”

“SACK THE CITY!” we roared, and we tore through those shopkeepers like it was the last day of the White Sale at Macy’s.

As we charged into the Auction House, one of the auctioneers yelled “Screw this!” and tried to run for it, moments before he went down under the scrum.

Eventually, we ran out of easy meat in the shops and went back to killing the Orc warriors until the streets of Orgrimmar ran wet with the blood of the Kor’kron.

As I smeared a spray of blood across the front of my robes, I glanced around the carnage. “A damn good thing none of these Orcs noticed us killing their friends ten feet away, one group at a time. If all those Orcs within view of us noticed the screams, splatters, rains of frogs or explosions, they coulda swarmed us.”

Chron was bent over looting a body, and when he straightened up, he announced “I found the reason. Look! They’re wearing iScreams!” It was true, in their drive to be what Garrosh called “truly metal”, they hadn’t just stuck steel plates and spikes all over Orgrimmar, he made his soldiers listen to heavy metal music all the time, too. Even on patrol!

“What the heck could they be listening to that would keep them from hearing all this racket?”

Chron glanced at the iScream display. “Looks like Danzig. Something called Mother.”

“Ahhh. I thought Garrosh only had daddy issues, go figure.”

Once we had killed all the Orcs and looted the buildings, we used the keys to free as many prisoners as we could find that were still alive. To show their thanks, they dropped mystic totems that would, so they said, protect as a bit from poisons or the elements. Then they legged it on out of there.

As the freed prisoners fled, I called out after them, “Hey! What do you know that you ain’t tellin’ us?”

“Enough!” announced Katlyn. “Let’s go inside Hellscream’s little fun hut and drag his ass on out of there.”

As we boldly creeped our way around the blockage to peer timidly inside, I noticed a foul smell, like a Worgen on bath day.

Inside, we saw not Garrosh waiting for his comeuppance but two Dark Shaman mounted on Wolves!

How’d ya git them wolves up ON the high throne, boy? And why ya’ll wearin’ them little shriners hats?

We went tearin’ on outta there, with them wolves hot on our heels.

As we spread out, ready to fight, one of them Shaman yelled out they don’t ask the elements for help, they take what they want.

Well, sure, that might work in the short term, but you know what you get for that, right? You can look forward to having every company picnic rained out for the next seven years. That’ll teach ’em it ain’t right to mess with mother nature!

Now, two Shaman, two wolves, ten of us. A whole city of space to fight in. You’d think this would be a straight up fight, right?

Like hell.

First, there are these big fat purple tornadoes. Yes, damnit, I know, more purple poo. Then there are small purple tornadoes comin’ out of them big ones. And the big ones slowly move like they’re chasing ya!

Well, okay, so we start over in one corner, wait for some tornadoes to form over there, then run away to t’other side. Fair enough.

And of course we kill the wolves first. Nothing ‘gainst wolves, you understand, but my poor brain can only handle so many things chomping on me at one time. Two targets just seem so much simpler than four.

Okay, so run away from purple, check. Kill wolves, check. What next?

Rivers of green slime, and a shitload of sprayed puddles of green poo that start chasing us. Well, of course they do. Because when I think of things that commonly occur in nature, purple tornadoes and green poo puddles just spring trippingly to my tongue.

I discovered a fascinating fact. Those green poo puddles? They can be stunned! And guess which Warlocks knew Shadowfury? Us guys!

Down come the puddles of poo, and wham! bam! stunned by big ol’ circles of Shadowfury so they kept nice, tight AOEable groups. Yummy!

And then the Ashes fell from the skies and the dying started.

These ashes fall down in a line, and from the ashes rise these flame things that, well, if I’m on this side, and you’re on the other side of the line of fire, and you need help?

Sucks to be you, man. Sucks to be you. ‘Cause I ain’t running through that shit. No how, no sir.

We’d be going good, and then there would be purple to the left of us, green rivers to the right, green puddles chasing Pumpken and then two lines of ashes running cross the middle of Orgrimmar.

Then the plaintive calls would go forth from Katlyn and Pumpken and Callaghan, our poor healers.
“I don’t have range on Monstre!”

“Well I don’t have range on Plankton!”

“Buttflame, you’re out of range!”

“Somebody scrape Mibs up again!”

“That’s it, daggertime! Stab ’em if you got ’em!”

We tried. Then we came back with a plan and tried again.

The Dark Shaman were patient. They sat there before the entrance to Hellscream’s quarters, watching us as we huddled up and planned anew.

“So, what if we start on the left, let the tornadoes stack there, then shift left.”

Tried that. Dead on the floor.

“Okay, what if we start there, but have two teams, so a healer sticks to a tank and we don’t get split up by ashes.”

Tried that. Nope.

“Okay, let’s try this. We’ll start over there by the bank, walk them across to the auction house, drag them along to the front gates and then back and around, keep ’em moving.”

Dead as disco, baby.

“Okay, screw it. You know what? Screw a bunch of plans. Pull ’em and rack ’em, watch your feet and stay the hell out of bad shit; you’re on your own.”

BOOM! And the Dark Shaman go down.

Well, kiss my ass.

Fine. That’s gonna be how it is, is it? The harder we work at a plan the worse it goes?

Fine.

Well, clearly Hellscream ain’t here, so let’s run on through the streets until we get to Ragefire Chasm, he’s probably hiding down HOLY SHIT RAIN OF FIRE RUN RUN RUN!”

As we reunited at the Troll camp for snacks and free healing, we discussed this alarming turn of events.

“Does it seem to anyone else like the bosses ain’t all that, but the trash in here hurts like a sonnuvabitch?”

“Yep.”

“Uh huh.”

“Brush it off, wimp.”

Monstre once more posed, hands on hips.

“I have a plan.”

“We’ll run through the streets, dodging the rain of fire from those Devastators, and at the end we’ll run into a shop and hide, kill the dark priests inside, safe from the fire overhead.”

Sounds like a plan.

So we gathered our things, ran like hell, dodging fire through the narrow valley, until we got to the aforementioned shop, whereupon we learned two things.

Thing the first. Mind Spikes HURT SON OF A HOLY CRAP DEAD see ya’ll at the campfire.

Thing the second, to quote Monstre, “OMG the fire comes through the roof, you can’t run, you can’t hide, the fire just keeps coming arrggghhh.”

The third time down the valley, we were a grim lot. This time, we were going for broke.

We ran down the length of the valley, and charged full bore into the Devastators, only to have someone call out, “Hey they stop shooting once you get in melee range of ’em.”

Good to know.

Good to know.

That there, that’s a protip right there.

I stopped, pulled out my charred and blackened notebook, and wrote down, “giant engines of death and destruction stop shooting when tagged you’re it.”

So noted.

We rested for a moment. I started munching on a nice leg of lamb when I heard someone say, and I shit you not, “Hey, that guy we saved is standing here. I wonder what happens if we talk to him.”

Next thing *I* know, that idiot starts running on his own into the tunnel to Ragefire, and half the raid takes off after him, and someone says “I bet there’s an achievement if we can keep him alive.”

Yeah, mission failed. I never did get close enough to see his ass because he just ran past all the mobs crowding that tunnel as if he smelled bacon at the other end.

Whatever he thought he was gonna get, what he ended up with was a chalk outline and a glowing green smear on the floor.

Now, I have my sympathies for those other Warlocks down there. But let’s face it. Whatever it is we are about to face in Ragefire Chasm, it can’t possibly be as bad as having to wade through rivers and lakes of glowing purple poo.

Entering the Chasm, it seemed I was right. Mages, Assassins, Warriors. Finally, a straight up, honorable fight!

It’s like a breath of fresh air. No more wacky sudden-death attacks, no more crazy purple poo… just a straight up smackdown, ten of us locked in mortal combat with General Nazgrim.

I never thought I’d say this, but why does this seem like it might be too easy? My right eye is still twitching at the ashes flashbacks, and I’m thinking this is going to be easy?

Then someone calls out, “Assassins! Don’t let them get behind you, or…”

Yeah. I’ll see y’all back at the campfire with trolls, mmkay?

The Weary Warlock Part 3 – Big Badaboom

I looked around for Varian, to get him to beat some sense into the Trolls. We had to fight our way through the beach just to find the Trolls holding the rear area and they didn’t offer any help, and now they expect us to take down the Iron Juggernaut for ’em? WTF Varian, I thought the idea was we let the TROLLS eat the losses so we can clean up what’s left over?

Varian, shocker of the day, was nowhere to be found. Fine. If we’re going to have to do this thing, then we might as well do ‘er up right.

The Misfits huddled together, looking over the fence at the Iron Juggernaut, working up a gameplan.

“Right. Let’s take a look at what we’re dealing with here. It’s big, so that must mean it’s slow. We’ve got it beat in mobility. What else?”

“Well, you see those vents? Those are for spraying hot oil everywhere. And you see that gleam on the tail?”

“Yeah?”

“Tracking lasers.”

“WTF are lasers?”

“Don’t worry about it, the audience knows what they are.”

“Who?”

“Shaddup.”

“So lasers that chase you around and hot oil, okay. That’s not so bad.”

“And then there is the bomb dispenser.”

“The what?”

“Yeah, see there on the sides. Bombs will drop out and after a bit will blow up everything and everyone. Game over, the end.”

“So, what do we do about it?”

“Not die?”

“Fuck you, Varian.”

“And then there are the big chainsaw blades on the arms on the front, and this massive sonic explosion that will knock everyone back the length of a boomball field unless they have their back to a wall, and the mortar shells that will blow our asses to Elunes Pretty Pretty Palace, and…”

“You shut up too.”

“So, what’s the plan?”

“Run in, spread out, stand with your back to a fence and don’t die.”

“Lols, good one. Okay, but what’s the plan?”

“Pulling in 5… 4… 3… ”

“OH SHIT, HE’S SERIOUS!”

And so began our epic battle against the Iron Juggernaut, or as I like to refer to it, “flamie boom time.”

We rushed the Iron Juggernaut, and we spread out, and put our backs to things, and got down with the beat down, and there was wailing, and running from lasers, and more wailing, and gnashing of teeth, and lots and lots o’ explosions.

Then we died.

The Trolls apparently drug our burnt, wracked and oil-splattered bodies out of the wreckage, because the next thing I knew we were all sitting around a campfire, feeling kind of mellow.

“Dude, the trolls are healing us as we hang out here. Pretty cool of them, man.”

“Put that shit down, it’s not helping you to focus. Plus, they better fucking heal us back up, we’re the ones doing the dying while they beat on the fucking drum. Fine That was a warmup. Let’s do this thing!”

Many explosions and screams later….

“Okay, pass that shit over here. Who needs focus, my spleen hurts.”

“I didn’t know you could feel your spleen.”

“Neither did I. Ouchie.”

“Okay, so what went wrong that time?”

“You know those helpful bombs with the red countdown timer thingies over their heads?”

“Yeah?”

“Those fracking hurt, man.”

“Thanks for the tip. So whatta we gonna do about ’em?”

Monstre stood up, planted his hands in a powerful pose on his hips, and announced, “I know what we have to do. Follow me!”

Or maybe it was Plankton. I mean Pankration. Yeah, that’s who I mean.

We charged in and got down to business. We got the oil, yeah whatever, and the lasers, run away NO NOT THROUGH THE OIL DUMBASS and we got the mortars and we got the chainsaws and the explosive knockbacks, okay, now there are the bombs.

HEY MONSTRE, WHAT WAS YOUR BIG PLAN?

So there he goes, and he runs at a bomb, and he jumps on it, burying it in the sand.

“Are you out of your ever-rotten mind?”

The bomb goes off, and instead of shattering the team, it just smacks Monstre around hard.

Wait, so this is a case of ‘bouncing betty blows his balls off’, so we bury it in the sand and only one person gets blowed up?

“Hey Mibs, go jump on bombs…. stop whimpering, you’re a Demonology Warlock, that’s like being a lawyer, you can cry all you want when the hurting begins, half the people listening don’t care and the other half think it’s a good start, man.”

Jump, jump you little imp flogger! Jump as though your life depended on it!

So the secret is to jump on the bombs with cooldowns up and just let those best suited to dealing with physical damage eat the big badabooms, huh?

Good to know.

To be on the safe side, though, I think we need to throw Mibs out in front of the raid as we advance. There could be land mines.

Finally, there before us is the wide-open gates of Orgrimmar!

This should be easy, right? I mean, sure it’s a city filled with militant Orc extremists, but it’s not like the ten of us have to kill everyone all by ourselves. We got that big Alliance army, we got a Horde a Trolls, this should be fun. We’ll just swarm in there and make this change happen.

Why is everyone looking at me again?

Is it my breath? I know, but mixing habanero jack cheese, bacon and fried spam sounded like a good idea at the time.

What?

Oh, come on.

Why the hell did we BRING an army if we’re not going to USE the fucking army? What, are we short on peeled potatoes?

Fine, into the dreaded gates of Orgrimmar the ten stalwart heroes go, blah blah blah.

Hey Varian?

Yeah, fuck you Varian.

Because Trolls Didn’t Have Enough Toys

I ran the new LFR with a bunch of experienced raiding guildies last night.

I have a bit of a war warning for you. A notice to be attentive on the Twin Consorts.

There is this incredibly fun mechanic in Twin Consorts.

There are four celestial pedestals, one in each corner of the room. On these pedestals is one of each of the four Celestials in miniature, crane for DPS on the boss, tiger to slow down the boss attacks, ox to increase the raids health and dragon to grant health and mana regen.

No Life at 90 once again did an outstanding write-up on LFR mechanics that makes perfect sense once you’ve done it once and have seen what they’re describing. I’m delighted to link to their post, so if you’d like some excellent details on how to do the fights, you can find them there.

I’m here to talk pedestals.

These pedestals are awesome.

If you run to one and click on it, it takes you out of phase to the rest of the raid and bosses, and the chamber clears out to be replaced with a shadowy replica of the room, and seven stars in the center.

You have a pattern appear over your head, and you must run through the stars in the room to duplicate that pattern, starting with the brightest star. If done correctly, you are returned to the raid chamber to the fight already in progress, the celestial appears and the effect begins.

Here is an image from our ten normal run on Sunday to show you exactly what I mean.

Twin Consorts celestial small

As you can see from the picture, there is a little picture over your head that shows the motion of your projected path through the stars. You can also see that I am just completing the “W” path, and the beacon of light over the star that you must use as your starting point.

If you fail to do the pattern correctly, the star that you ran through that was wrong pulses red. You have to start over. If you take too long, then you are booted from the phase just as if you’d done the whole thing correctly… and after a couple of seconds the pedestals all reset and you (or someone else) can try again.

Since I did it successfully on normal, our pre-made peeps on vent nominated me to take control of this mechanic and lock anyone else out from using it at the wrong times. Perhaps my having the lowest DPS among our guildies in the pre-made also had something to do with it. ūüôā

Here is why this is a concern in LFR.

When one pedestal is clicked, the player that activated it is taken out of phase. While in there, nobody else can interact with or use any pedestal.

There is a limited amount of time to correctly do the pattern, and if the person fails they are returned to the raid. But they take no damage while inside, and they are not blocked from immediately trying again.

If you take too long, if for example you just entered the phase and /danced, then at the end of the time allowed you are returned to the raid, where you can immediately click the pedestal in front of you and try again.

I’ll say that again. Whoever is the fastest to click any pedestal when they come to life will be the first and only person to enter the phase, presented with the pattern for that pedestal, and the game waits for you to successfully duplicate the pattern, locking out all others. If you fail, there are no consequences to you the player at all. You are simply returned to the fight.

Once a celestial effect is successfully activated, the player is returned to the raid, and while the effect is live, all the pedestals are inert. So, there is a short period of time you can use to get to another pedestal and be ready to click on it to activate it as soon as the last celestial effect wears off.

There are four pedestals, one for each celestial effect. You can use each effect only once total spanning the night/day phases, and then they all reset when dusk phase begins.

Think about that for a second.

There is a mechanic in Twin Consorts that lets someone click a pedestal, be taken out of the raid area to a special place where there is NO DAMAGE WHATSOEVER, where they can do whatever they’d like until the timer runs out. Then, they are returned to the raid standing in front of that pedestal, which will reset in just a few seconds for them to click it again.

This is LFR we’re talking about. How long will it be before someone simply clicks a pedestal and stands there phased out doing nothing for the entire fight, preventing anyone else in the raid from using any of the special effects while they were at it?

I would strongly have desired there to be an LFR-only lockout, where if  a player goes into a pedestal, when they came out it would prevent them from interacting with any other pedestal again.

That would give eight players out of twenty-five the opportunity to use and experience the phased space every pull, while preventing any one player from bogarting the celestial kingdom.

Maybe it’s not a perfect solution, but I think it would solve more problems than it would cause, and encourage people to learn the mechanic. I’d be happy with it.

As I said at the beginning, our pre-made players nominated me to do all the celestial pedestals, and let everyone know in raid chat I’d be handling it, so not to worry about it.

Even so, we had an arms Warrior that wanted to fight me for them, without actually activating them.

Yep, that fast.

At the beginning, I took the Tiger and activated it. Our intention was to use the Tiger in night to slow down the green mists that put you to sleep, give you a chance to duck away from some of the AOE damage.

Then I would leave them all alone until day phase, where I would in sequence use Crane for the direct DPS against the Sun boss, Dragon for the healing and mana regen because OMIGOD flame buff and ignored Ice Comets, and then I’d ignore Ox and just DPS.

What actually happened was, I activated Tiger, and then proceeded to DPS. While doing so, I kept an eye out for the pedestals, just to see if anyone else intended to play with them.

I saw the arms Warrior go over to Ox, and sure enough, he clicked it and vanished. After a while, he reappeared but there wasn’t an Ox. He failed to activate it.

Then he vanished again.

Huh. Well, let him play say I, because we weren’t planning on using Ox anyway. Who cares, if he wants to learn the mechanic instead of DPS, well, it’s LFR.

Day phase hit, and now we needed more celestial action, so off I went to get the Crane, and look at this, I’m in a race to activate it before the Warrior got to the Crane and clicked it first. Will he activate it if he goes inside? Do I risk it?

I won the race, activated Crane and came out, to rocket off towards the Dragon.

From that point on, I was in a race against the Warrior to see who would reach the pedestals first. Fortunately, I had the advantages of Engineering rocket belt and Burning Tendrils to get to the next one before the previous effect wore off, and I knew when I would be coming out and which ones were going to be dead.

Mind you, we had announced in raid chat that I was going to handle the celestials, so not to worry about the bloody things. And the whole time this is going on, I’m DPSing at range on the run while getting to the pedestals while the Warrior is just running around screwing with the corners of the room, accomplishing nothing, hoping to get in before me.

I managed to get them all anyway except for Ox, and then DPSed until Dusk, where I was under strict orders to activate Crane immediately to get maximum DPS on both bosses at once.

I got that off, but before I could reach tiger, in my Warrior buddy went.

In my defense, I had to avoid some Flames of Passion to get there, that routed me around the long way. Pedestal Defense FAIL!

In he went, but if he activates it, it’s all good, right?

Nope, no effect. Out he comes, accomplishing nothing, and there I am frantically clicking the dead air.

I’ve got Tom cranky on vent wondering where the hell his Tiger is, and I’m all “Damnit, give me just a sec here” and I managed to get in and get it done.

So, was the Warrior trying to get practice on the mechanic, and just really bad? Or was he trying to afk out of the run and screw us over at the same time?

I couldn’t tell you, but the effect was the same, and he might as well have just died on the stairs with the other three who got locked out behind a wall on the pull for all the DPS he did.

So, you’ve been warned, right?

Twin Consorts; because trolls didn’t have enough ways of being a pest before.

4/17/13 – updated with added picture

What Does Progression Mean To You?

Progression.

It means just one thing – moving further than you’ve gone before. Or does it?

In World of Warcraft it’s usually used to talk about raiding, but it’s not just what boss you’re on.

I’ve been raiding on my Beastmaster Hunter now for a few months, and I’m fortunate enough to be playing with a team that has been¬†able to successfully (and repeatedly!) kill all the bosses in Mogushan Vaults.

So, progression. We started with no bosses, and kept working on them one at a time, getting better each week until now we’re able¬†to clear the entire raid instance in a single 2-hour run.

Some groups out there are far further along than we are, killing bosses in harder raids or heroic modes, and some folks out there aren’t¬†yet as far along as we, still working on earlier bosses.

S’all good.

The fact remains, we have progressed and succeeded. We haven’t fallen apart, we haven’t had a lucky kill that we can’t duplicate,¬†we’re still moving forward.

I’m very happy about that.

But that doesn’t mean everyone in the team is happy.

It’s about expectations.

Last night we had a rough night in some respects. There are bosses we have on farm that we usually one-shot, well we had some wipes¬†to ’em. We still killed them, but it slowed us down more than expected.

I could tell it was disheartening. I could feel it, some folks felt we WERE moving backward, falling behind…¬†losing progression.

We didn’t fall apart into whining and finger pointing. We dug in and went again. And again. And we succeeded, killing¬†them all and ending the day with another complete clear.

not just a clear, but the last fight of the evening on Will of the Emperor was also one of our smoothest ever. The timing on the end phase was freaking perfect. Not a close one, not a squeaker, we destroyed Will of the Emperor.

What was the progression that made me happy? We didn’t kill any bosses that we hadn’t done before, and in some respects we were slower than usual.

The progression came from doing better on the fights that we have the least experience in. Sure, some of the early ‘farm’ fights¬†were flopping around, but Elegon and Will of the Emperor were great. Better than we’ve done before.

On a purely personal level, I had a great night.

I’ve been trying to do my best as a Beastmaster Hunter on these raids each week, and my DPS has been okay, even good, but I’ve always felt¬†that I was not coordinating my cooldowns and priorities and Focus management quite right. I could do better.

Last night, on every pull I tried my hardest to nail down my timing, figure out where I wasn’t hitting the right transitions.

Frostheim has said it before, and it is so true, we have a lot of buttons to manage. A lot of things to prioritize, and every attack or cooldown you use is a GCD that means everything else waits a skosh.

Last night my goal was to get every single one of them perfect. To have my Focus at the exact point that the moment Kill Command or Glaive were up, I was using them, no moments wasted. Cobra Shot used only as much as necessary to get the Focus needed, and no more.

No wasted GCDs. Uptime of the best shots. That was the goal.

I’m sure most folks don’t think it’s that big a thing and do it as a matter of course, but not me.

I worked hard on it, and I had a few good runs last night where I feel I nailed it. And I also learned what was working right and what rhythm helped me move in sync with my cooldowns.

At one point, I used all of my utility, did everything I was supposed to do, hit every point and ended with 86k DPS for the boss fight. I was so damn happy with myself, I had to whisper a friend, bursting with excitement, ¬†“86 freaking K freaking DPS, bitch!”

Keep in mind, other folks in our group regularly have higher DPS that I do, and last night was no exception. Monstre alone came in and did over 250k DPS on one of the fights last night. So I’m not whispering because I’m el numero uno head honcho. I was genuinely delighted because it wasn’t about being better than someone else, it was about setting a new bar for me to reach. A damn good bar. I played in the zone, as perfect as I could, and THAT was where I was at. From now on, that is the new goal for me to try and beat, and every fight I’ll still be looking at my abilities trying to see where I can switch something or prioritize something to do better.

Bosses were going to die anyway. In reality, I probably could have been half drunk and pushing buttons randomly, and we would have still won, and at about the same pace.

My progression, my satisfaction was in doing better than I had ever done before, and that left me on a natural high.

Well, goodie for me. I talked to one of our raiders a little later, just a quick chat about next week, and she seemed really down. I was genuinely surprised, we cleared all of Mogushan Vaults, whole thing in two hours. Sure, could have been faster, but in my book that ain’t failsauce.

I’ve been in first half LFRs that have taken longer than that, no lie.

But they were still down about it. Sounded kind of bummed. And that comes back to expectations and what progression means to each of us.

Just because I’m happy we cleared MSV, and just because I had a good time because I felt I was improving my skills and refining my technique doesn’t mean other people in the raid group had the same goals… or the same measure of success.

If your goal is to reach a certain point, clear a raid just so you can have a certain number of attempts on one difficult boss you’d like to get past before the new patch reduces the challenge, then anything less than meeting that goal is a failure, isn’t it?

What if you have your heart set on reaching Garalon? You don’t expect any difficulties in getting there, you’re not concerned with the old stuff, you have your sights set on this one goal. Get Garalon.

If that’s what you need to feel you have progressed, then not reaching that goal will suck. It will be a big downer, because you failed to reach that goal when you expected to.

Same raid team. But some are going home happy and others are going home depressed.

It’s just something to think about. Everyone has their own goals and definitions for progression and success, and while you are focused on trying to meet your own goals, it’s good to take a look at what the goal for your TEAM is, and do your best to make that happen too.

If your goal is to be better at your own role in the group, but other people in the team have the goal of reaching Garalon, then part of being a good teammate is doing what you can to help the whole team get all the goals met, not just yours.

So, yeah, we ended the night well. We didn’t slide backwards, we didn’t choke on a boss or hit a wall.

But we ended the night down, because we could have gone further, faster. And for at least one person, we didn’t progress. And that SUCKS.

Next time, hopefully we’ll get it done and meet the goals everyone has, and then everyone in the team can walk away happy, feeling that glow from a job well done.

It’s Funny But It’s True, Damnit

I’ve been raiding one night a week with some folks in the guild, I wasn’t able to stay with a weekend team but I’ve been lucky, these folks can raid on a weeknight late enough that my son is in bed for most of it.

How much can you get done in one night a week, though, when it’s just two hours? I say two hours, because we are scheduled for two and a half, but I need a break in there to get my son tucked into bed.

Yes, I know. I’m that raider on your team you would hate. It’s okay for you to tell me you’d hate to raid with someone like me, I know. I know all too well. There you are, your team is flying high, everything is in the groove, you are just getting cooking, and here comes this dude an hour in, “Hey guys, sorry, gotta go get my son brushed teeth and tucked into bed, sorry for the buzzkill. Be back soon.”

Priorities.

I’ve said it before, I may look like I’m logged in for 6 hours straight, but most of that time I’m afk… no, I wasn’t ignoring you, I was showing my son how to make a new design for a paper airplane. Or looking at a cool scene he wants to share from Transformers; Dark of the Moon. Since when does Optimus Prime have lips? Or watching him take on a pet team two levels higher, and taming a new rare quality Tundra Penguin. Those penguins are badass. Or I’m wandering around upstairs, wondering where I left my book. Is itin the bathroom? No? then where the hell… Or leaving the game on to go eat dinner and watch Top Chef or Chopped, because, hey, why even bother logging out? It’s not like there are people waiting in a queue… and ever since Mists of Pandaria released, it takes about 10 minutes for me just to log into the game, what with waiting for shit to decide if the game is up to date or not. Every. Single. time.

Okay, that one time, I was just ignoring you. But I don’t make a hobbit of it or anything.

With all that distraction, only two hours to raid one night a week, what can you really get done?

Well… for starters, you can clear Mogu’shan Vaults and also take down the first boss in Heart of Fear. ūüôā

We’d been consistently clearing the first four bosses of Mogu’shan Vaults, then taking a couple runs at Elegon before switching over to Heart of Fear each week.

Last night, we cleared through Mogu’shan to Elegon as usual, had a rocky start with the first few Celestial Protectors dying inside the ring when Total Annihilation went off… but despite that we still went on to one shot it for our first Elegon kill ever!

I’m not sure how many attempts we’ve had over the last few weeks… maybe 7 or 8. More? Still, I think we were all a little surprised that after a weeks break, we came back and killed it on our first try of the night.

From there, we went straight to our first-ever run at the Will of the Emperor in normal mode, and we encountered the Convert To Raid effect;

“Yay! First ever kill of Elegon!”

20 minutes later…. “Yay! We’ve cleared Mogu’shan Vaults!”

It’s just like the guys at Convert To Raid say… once you’ve got Elegon down, the Will of the Emperor isn’t quite at the same level of challenge.

One thing that’s interesting is we had two healers for Elegon, but Tom had us switch to three healing on Will of the Emperor. He said that the healers may be bored for a lot of the fight, but once Titan Gas hit, they’d be going into overdrive.

True or not, I know that we one shot Will of the Emperor, but I felt we were right on the edge of having enough DPS to handle the adds, but not a smidgen more. I enjoyed how the fight feels, I felt challenged as DPS to get the adds down fast enough to be able to switch to the bosses when Titan Gas comes up without distraction. Hustle your butts! Keep calm and DPS HARDER.

What a crazy night. We cleared MSV for the first time, all in one night, and had enough time left over to travel to Heart of Fear and get a kill in there as well, making it seven bosses in two and a half hours.

All the cool kids may be off doing heroics and nibbling on the TOES, but I’m pretty impressed with our progress. I’ve been in LFR groups that killed fewer bosses in that time.

Sadly, yes I have.

Grats to Team Dippy for clearing the first raid in Mists of Pandaria!

The Return of the Sunday Fun Run!

The holidays are sadly over, and the winter blahs have begun.

You know what this means, right?

The return of the Bear Sunday Fun Runs!

Hopefully the emphasis is on the “fun”.

When:

I’m planning on our first 25 person run of the new year being this Sunday, January 13th, from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM Central Standard Time (CST, also known as Greenwich Mean Time GMT – 6 hours).

Who can take part:

Before I get into the details,¬†in order to be a part of these cross-server runs, you have to have your participating character be Alliance, and also be part of the North American/US server group. It makes me sad that I can’t play with so many awesome people I read about and follow from the European servers, but, well, that’s what we get to deal with.

Typical Bear digression wandering away from the topic:

On the positive side,¬†I do get to play with Aussies and listen to their awesome accents. On the negative, well… Canadians.

Just kidding! A lot of my guildies¬†are Canuckleheads, they know I love them and their poutine. Oh, and Canadian Bacon? This just in. IT’S HAM!

I have to be careful not to antagonize the Canadian folk too much. I live in Minnesota, and in the long cold winters, I can hear them up there the other side of Lake Superior, sharpening their ice skates and thinking long thoughts on our bacon. If we push them too far, I can see them sweeping down out of the North with their sharpened hockey sticks poised to attack, ready to eradicate our heretical salty-sweet crispy smoked-pork ways.

What was this post supposed to be about, and how the HELL did I get to talking about a war with Canada over bacon?

OH, RIGHT!

Coming back to¬†what we’re doing and who can take part:

This go around, with successful ICC and Ulduar achievement runs under our belts, I want to bring us up into the more recent Cataclysm days.

Specifically, this week I am putting together a 25 person team to go into Firelands this Sunday to do a complete clear, up to and including Ragnaros.

This first run would be a ‘getting familiar’ run, not a full-fledged achievement run or heroic mode kill. What achievements could be done quick or as part of the normal run we’ll go for, but the emphasis on this first run will¬†be on spending the two hours getting everyone in the team familiar with each fight and understanding the basics.

Oh yeah, and on killing lots of flame-based mobs.

Right now, I do NOT have anyone in the group confirmed aside from Alex, Cassie and myself. Nobody has dibs on legendary questline items, nobody is a confirmed tank or healer, it’s a brand new fresh run starting up as of today.

Now, what makes this run different from previous Bear Sunday Fun Runs is that this is very recent content. I believe it will still be challenging for a group that is not used to playing and communicating as a team, especially once we get into achievements.

What I’m leading up to is the level requirement, and class composition.

For this team,¬†I prefer that everyone in the group be level 90.¬†I’m not going to be¬†a hardass about it, the occasional 88 or 89 won’t be a problem. But I’d definitely prefer most of us be level 90.

As far as class composition, we’ve always been lucky in the past to have a great mix of tanks, healers and DPS players. The only difference this time is, I’m going to be looking to confirm folks in those tank and healing roles¬†before the Sunday night run comes. I want us each to be as prepared as possible for what we’re going to be doing.¬†¬†

Today Ragnaros, tomorrow the achievements!

Once this Sunday introduction run is complete, the following Sunday runs we will work on completing each of the related Glory achievements. Because of that, I hope that each person who signs up to take part will be able to keep coming back for the next few weeks, so we can get the entire group through as a team.

Yeah yeah, how do I sign up for a spot and a role?

If you are already on my Battletag friends’ list, then just whisper me when I log in this week or email me and let me know you want to take part, and what role you want to play in the team. I will start a list, and it’s a done deal.

If you are in my guild, I will be putting the run up on the calander so you can sign up, and I will be whispering you to see how sure you are you will be able to take part Sunday, and as what role.

And if you are neither of those things, email me at thebigbearbutt@gmail.com and we’ll work out the Battletag stuff so as to be sure to get you in no matter what US server you happen to be on.

Aw shit, legendary drama.

One last thing. If you are specifically intending to take part in the raid to further your progression in the legendary weapon questline, you must let me know IN ADVANCE of the run, including details on how far along you may already be. Emailing me is fine. I will make a list of each person, and figure out by some arcane manner who will go first, and let everyone involved know before Sunday. If you have never started it before and are hoping to do so now, make sure you email me so we can talk.  

I’m really looking forward to this.

I know a lot of people out there were raiding full time at the leading edge during Cataclysm and are sick of Firelands, but I always liked it, and I know neither Cassie nor Alex were able to take part in a Ragnaros kill. I have to figure we’re not alone in that, so hopefully we’ll have enough folks eager to go that we’ll be able to have a hot time in the old town this weekend.

I hope to see you there!

UPDATE 1/9/13: The tank situation has been covered, as Askevar and Venoym are going to provide the skilled tanking services for the team this Sunday.

So Much To Raid, So Little Time

Let’s talk about raiding, and the news coming from all of the Developer interviews.

The feel is, Blizzard is committed to trying to release new content patches every two months or so, and some kind of new raid every four months.

This is coupled with the idea that, rather than nerfing existing raids over time to make them more accessible, they will leave them as is (aside from possible bug fixes).

So, for example, we could see the expansion hit as it did, then 5.1 come along two months later giving us new tons of new non-raid content, and then four months after that the first new big¬†raid. And we’ll ahve two months to say, “Oh nice, a raid” before more non-raid content.

A new raid in four months¬†that has had the mighty word “Ulduar” invoked when describing it.

What does that mean?

I just had the pleasure of running in Ulduar 25 on Sunday night (dear lord, I love seeing Ulduar), so the experience is fresh in my mind.

We have no¬†specifics on what ‘Ulduar’ means in regards to the new raid,¬†but it could mean a massive location with both indoor and outdoor areas,¬†or it could mean 10 to 12 bosses (or more) in different wings to spread things out and vary the feel, it could mean new¬†hard modes… it could even mean that epic scope of architecture and setting.

Or,¬†it could mean the assault on Orgrimmar. Who the heck knows.¬†I’m still¬†thinking way too soon for that. We have a lot more story buildup before that happens. Maybe even another year of buildup. Or more!

But in about three, three and a half months we should get the new raid, whatever it is, and then two months after that, more non-raid stuffs.

That seems like ideal pacing to me.

It’s not enough time for most raiding guilds to get everyone everything they could use for upgrades from the existing bosses, RNG will see to that. But for those folks that may be stuck on earlier content, new raids bring new LFR, new opportunities at more powerful upgrades, and that gives you a built-in buff to clear the content you’re stuck on.

How cool is that? If they can keep that kind of pace up, we will always be looking toward the future, and if we do get down time, quiet time where we’re ahead… then we can run the older raids that we’ve moved past to try for those items that we really wish we’d won.

The lesson we need to remember here is, old raids are NOT dead content. Old raids represent fun opportunities to run with friends when we overgear the shit out of them for transmog stuff. And they are palces new pets and mounts can be added later!

Another point to ponder… at what point does a raid move from ‘current content’ to ‘old content’? When a new full paid expansion is released, or when a new tier of raids comes out in a content patch?

If it’s a content patch, then the new ‘current content’¬†raids can remain locked to single-realm raiding, while the older ones are broken free to cross-realm teams.

I’m really excited about all of this. Can you tell?

See, I’m in a raid situation where we are still on the first raid instance of the three that are out, but I still think this rocks.

When it comes to raiding, my personal sitaution has had a major upheaval in the last few weeks.

I really tried to maintain the Saturday afternoon raiding, but I couldn’t do it.

What it came down to was, I just can’t¬†lock out a four hour chunk of time on Saturday afternoon every week for the raid. Once in a while was fine, but when you start talking a regular, weekly commitment, that changes everything.

The weekend is really the only time we have to do crazy family stuff… like driving to Duluth to see the aquarium, or hit Chicago, or whatever. Or to do home work, like paint rooms or install appliances to make repairs. Ah, the joys of home ownership.

I live in Minnesota. You’d be surprised how often the snow boss comes out to play. Funny story there, but maybe another time.

Anyway, I just couldn’t maintain Saturday raiding.¬†I had to leave Team Snuffy, with a HUGE amount of sadness. We were really kicking ass, coming together as a team, and while it’s nice to leave on a high note with the first two bosses down in Vaults, it’s still a bummer.

With every door that closes, though, there¬†is one that might be opening if you look for it, and Askevar and Venoym, who recently joined the guild, have started putting together an ‘alt night’ guild raid group on Thursdays.

In other news, Askevar will be on the Follow the Leader podcast in the next show, so make sure to follow them and check it out!

So, with them putting a once-a-week raid up on Thursday nights,¬†late enough that my son is in bed for most of it, this is something I can do if they’ll have me. I know I’m a lot happier with it. ūüôā

The new raid team on Thursdays has a name… I wish I could say I thought of it, but I didn’t. All I did was embrace it, and hold it close to my heart in happiness.

Askevar and Venoyms raid team on Thursdays is called… wait for it…¬†¬†Team Dippy.

If you’ve ever fought in the Brawler’s Guild, you know what that means.

Yep! We’re sloppy, clumsy, flail around and look ridiculous… but we’re cute and oh so FLUFFY, and if you give us a chance we’ll kill your ass in a heartbeat, sucka.

What a great name.

If anyone has a nice close-up picture of Dippy, btw, please email it to me. I’ll put it on Team Dippy posts. ūüôā

So far, I’ve only gone on two runs with Team Dippy, but it’s been very fun.

The first week, we beat our heads against the first boss in Heart of Fear, and that was great. Yes, we failed to down the boss, but we learned the pacing of the fight pretty well. It’s all about the dance of Attenuation, and I love dance fights. I LOVE dance fights.

I can say that because I don’t have soul-crushing lag. If I did, I would scream in frustration and tear my hair out in clumps. But I don’t, so yay dance fights!

As I say, we didn’t actually kill the boss, but we got him below 15% a few times, and everyone was coming along tight by the end of the night. I’m pretty sure we have that one in the bag, just dangling there waiting for us to pluck it and taste of the… okay, that went to a weird place.

The second week, last week, was Mogu’shan Vaults. I knew the first two fights, and had seen the third once, but when studying the fights I¬†did not take into account¬†the skill level of the tanks and healers.

We destroyed the first three fights, just crushed them. I have to admit I had not watched the Fatboss videos or read the strategies of anything past the third boss, since you know, we only raid for two hours once a week.

Suddenly, I found myself facing the Spirit Kings, armed with nothing but some quick advice from my friends list, and what I had learned by listening to Koltrane, Zhug and Solarflair on the Convert To Raid podcast. 

Fortunately, JUST that previous week Convert To Raid had gone into great detail on the Spirit Kings fight on Episode 73, so I found myself knowing what the heck to do, and holy crap we killed them!

Team Dippy, rocking the 4/6. It feels good.

Circling back to the point… there are three raids available right now, Mogu’shan Vaults, Heart of Fear, and Terrace of the Endless Spring. And all of them have heroic modes.

The raid group I’m playing with is 4/6 normal in the first raid, with two more raids sitting there untouched, and we have the prospect of another brand new huge raid coming out in maybe three to four months.

Yes, other folks are raiding strong, doing heroic modes, so you’d think there would be panic and disappointment at how far behind the curve we are, right?

Wrong.

Will we be done with the first three raids when number four comes out? Hell no. I don’t care how good Askevar and Venoym are, we¬†have about sixteen raid nights before the new raids are expected to come out.

When it does come out, though,¬†we’ll have had fun, killed more bosses, improved our teamwork and our gear, and learned to do the¬†dance.

When the new raids DO come out, we’ll suddenly have new LFR, new gear opportunities, and that should help us speed up our progress through wherever we’re at.

What I’m saying is, as a player that will be ‘far behind’ in raid progression when new raids are being released, I don’t see needing a nerf to existing content, not when we’ll have LFR to help give us a boost. And we’ll have more incentive to improve, destroy existing bosses, and move higher up the progression to maybe leave MSV behind and focus on Heart of Fear and Terrace.

It’s exciting times… but everything depends on Blizzard following through on this time¬†commitment. If they can do it, then they could be looking at a brand new energy for players in the long term.

If players who left keep hearing how there is new stuff, and more new stuff, and even more new stuff, and LFR to bring them back and get them begun gearing regardless of reputations, then I can see them coming back in droves.

If Blizzard can’t keep it up… well, buzz doesn’t last when the bees get bored.

Preparing to Raid… UGH

So, I’m going to be raiding someday soon‚ĄĘ.

My Hunter is a max Jewelcrafter/Alchemist, so naturally I checked wowhead to see what the new Cauldrons were like, where to get the recipes, what materials would be needed, etc.

I didn’t find any cauldrons at all. It looked… it looked like each player would need to have their own specially-made Flask, with a 1 hour duration. Each flask takes some Mists¬†herbs plus 1 Golden Lotus. Yes, each.¬†

Spread over four hours of raiding, that would be 40 Golden Lotus per raid night for Flask buffs… minus the ones I wouldn’t need for my Alchemist¬†mixologist buff.

Forty Golden Lotus? Holy shit.

Seeing that led me to go check into Raiding Consumables for Mists of Pandaria in general. Maybe I was missing something.

Tree Heals Go Woosh did a great guide a short time ago¬†on Raid Consumables, still current, but¬†at the time I hadn’t been really fixated on raiding. I didn’t study it close enough when it went up.

I sure as heck read back over it now.

There seem to be no Cauldrons. You want to raid with a Flask buff, you’ll need your own.

There are “Feasts” that the whole raid can eat and gain benefit from, but the best stats come from single-use food, not Feasts.

Even the most cursory glance at Raid Food shows that the mats each bite will take are immense.

It actually looks like Cooking mats were designed to consume all of the produce your farm can generate… meaning that if you want to make your own max quality food, you’ll need to do your farm every day, too.

Of course, if you’re using your farm to generate produce, you’re not plating Songbells for Spirit of Harmony.

This feels like severe culture shock. 

Notice, I’m not saying I don’t LIKE it. I’m just saying this is gonna take some mental readjusting.

In Burning Crusade, each raider was responsible for bringing their own consumables, and damnit we had a LOT of them to bring.

In Burning Crusade, if you wanted to be as buffed as possible, you could bring with you Food buffs, Flasks, Scrolls, Sharpening Stones of various kinds, geez I can’t even remember it all anymore.

It felt like too much, but at the same time it felt good to have made the effort to be totally prepared. Does that make sense? It felt to have gone that extra mile, to have brought every conceiveable buff with you, it showed you really tried to be the best you could be..

At the same time, back then the mats were too expensive for one person to realistically supply the entire raid every raid night without going off the deep end. So everyone brought their own, OR would make arrangements to pay someone else/provide mats to someone else that could make raid buff stuff for them. And usually give them a tip.

The key there is, even if someone didn’t bring their own, everyone in the game acknowledged in some way that they were responsible for bringing their own shit to the party. If they didn’t it was their own fault. Same as if they came without having repaired first, or enchanted weapons and armor.

Northrend changed things up some, and by the time Cataclysm came around, most temporary buff items were dead and gone, and we were left with two: Flasks and Food.

Then those were made easier as well, A single-crafted Cauldron could supply an entire raid with Flasks, and a single-crafted Food could provide the whole raid with spec-specific buffs.

Instead of every player responsible for themselves, it became obvious that one person was expected to be able to supply everyone. 

Now, maybe your group chose to pool food materials and cauldron materials, different people would bring flasks to feed the Alchemist, various people would fish to provide the mats for Feasts, but it was a HUGE shift in responsiblity.

Now we’re going back to individual responsibility?

So, what do we make of this?

It sure as heck looks like the materials for Flasks are gonna take¬†more resources that one person should realistically be expected to provide alone every week… if this system were staying live the entire expansion.

Let me rephrase that.

I, as the only current Alchemist in my raid team, have no intention of spending time every week farming 40 Golden Lotus by flying around herbing, for the next year, so I can provide the entire raid team with Flasks for the night.

Last night, in order to see how much I would have to farm to reach that goal, I flew around for over two hours on my Druid in Kun Lai Summit, farming a tight route of ever-refreshing Snow Lilies.

I gathered massive quantities of Snow Lilies, probably 5000 gold worth easy if I hadn’t been Milling ’em. So¬†I gathered mass quantities… and then consumed mass quantities.

In all that time, I got 3 Golden Lotus. THREE.

Okay, so there are more ways to gather Lotus than herbing.

I¬†tested the Revered Tiller Enigma Seeds, planting ten as a test in my garden. Out of 10 planted Enigma Seeds, I got 1 Golden Lotus. Which is nice, but over a week doesn’t come close to 40.

Now, if I were to plant Songbells for Motes of Harmony, you are guaranteed one mote per Songbell every day. You can purchase 3 Golden Lotus with one Spirit of Harmony at the vendor in your faction-specific place in the Vale.

So, best case, say I spent¬†7 days a week planting 16 Songbells, harvesting them specifically for Golden Lotus and no other reason. I could get 1.6 Spirit a day, eleven¬†Spirit of Harmony a week plus two motes left over. That comes close to what I’d need,¬†33 Golden Lotus. Close, but still no 40 Lotus Cigar.

You know something? I’m Transmute specced, and it’s come in very handy for Primal Diamond tranmutes, I’ve procced¬†quite a few extra. But I bet if¬†I were to be Flask specced, or if I had someone who was do the actual crafting, we might hit that 40 goal.

Good lord, I’m exhausted writing about it, let alone doing it every day! Holy crap! I am seriously questioning my commitment to raiding at this point. ¬†¬†

This coupled with the way individual food buffs are more powerful that the new feasts leaves me thinking that Blizzard expects everyone to just start taking responsiblity for themselves, and the Banquets are meant for LFR kinds of situations or Heroics.

Or… alternatively, maybe this situation isn’t meant to last.

Are things the way they are right now because Blizzard wants the effort and commitment of crafting these food and flasks to be a challenge specifically aimed at progression raid teams racing for Realm Firsts?

Will we see, a few months down the line, the return of high level Cauldrons and Feasts for use once the competition for Realm and World Firsts is behind us and the time-challenged start getting ready for raids?

I don’t know, I haven’t been keeping track of any conversation about consumables in WoW. There might be reams already written about this, and Blue Posts, and it’s just passed me by.

I do feel kind of wierd. Like, I remember being here when the expansion came out, and I do have a level 90 Druid, and yet it feels like I have no idea what’s going on in the game.¬†

I blame Pet Battles.

If you’re really committed to getting progression raiding accomplishments, I could see food and flasks simply being set up as one more challenge to test your commitment.¬†What I can’t see is the system¬†staying that way long term for everyone in the game who has come to love raiding, if that IS the current goal of consumables.

For all I know, this is just the way things are now. 

I’m serious,¬†I don’t want to say I lack commitment, but I can’t see farming 40 Golden Lotus every single week. I just don’t have that kind of time. I work a paying¬†job all day, you know?

People bitch about having to do dailies, but there is an end goal there. Once yuo hit exalted, you can STOP.

I’m sitting here saying I just don’t have the time to farm raid mats, let alone do dailies on top of it.

Sure, short term I’ve been doing Tiller dailies… on one character, every day. Plus farming. NOTHING ELSE.

I cannot see doing farming, long term, every day for the rest of my game time to be raid ready. ‘

In the words of Cassie, I do not want to play a game where I feel guilty if I don’t log in to do my chores. That’s why we quit playing Animal Crossing, we got sick of having to log in every day to pull weeds.

As things stand, this is just the cost of raiding. Making that commitment in time to make the flasks and food.

Six months from now? Yeah,¬†I don’t see maintaining that kind of momentum.

Now, if only the Agility food was bacon-based. And if my computer had smell-o-vision. Then maybe we could talk.

Sorry, Emeril. Had to say it.

A Blast Through The Past

There was another great, thought-provoking post by Rohan at Blessing of Kings today, this time discussing the consequences of large group and small group raiding to MMOs, player retention and MMO health.

I love Rohans posts, he always brings up great topics, adds his opinions or experiences, but then leaves it open for people to think about it or discuss without feeling that by dissenting they’re being confrontational. A happy place to have a conversation instead of an argument.

Silly, silly paladin, didn’t anyone ever tell him the internet is for drama?

When Rohan spoke about larger raid teams being more comfortable for some people to find a home, it spurred all kinds of sparks in my skull.

I’ll be honest with you… I probably don’t have any points to make. I just can’t resist taking a stroll down memory lane, which at my age is more like a 5 lane superhighway straight to the past, where I’ve built a summer cottage the size of the Magic Kingdom, there to spend my days.

I’ll pretend I have a point by contrasting my raiding experiences now compared to what I remember of the old, old, OLD days.

For about the last month, I’ve been raiding twice a week with two different 10-person groups.

On Saturdays I am part of a regular 10 person raid team, and on Thursdays I take part, when I can, in the guilds “Alt Night” Dragon Soul runs on a different character. Lately it’s been my Hunter.

Everyone here by now also knows that I’ve had plenty of opportunity to see the shining lights of awesome to be found in 25 person Looking For Raid.

About that, I’d like to be clear about how I feel concerning Looking For Raid. I bitch about individual players and how there always seems to be that 8% asshat quota that has no trouble getting filled for every single run. I’ll admit it.

Overall though, I remain delighted that Looking For Raid exists, and I still run it on someone every week, without exception. Sometimes on two different characters for different experiences, like Healing and ranged DPS. Still haven’t gotten tired of it, but give me five more months of this same stuff and I’ll be singing a different tune. Or caterwauling, as the case may be.

If dealing with asshats and adding them to /ignore is the price I pay for the fun I’ve had in LFR, then so be it. Give me more room in my Ignore List, and get out of my way, there are internet ultimate shadowy dragons to kill, and swaggering to do in the Eye of Eternity.

I’m pretty current on my World of Warcraft raiding. I’ve even done some Hard Modes on my Druid, up through the first four. Ooh, shiny pretty raiding.

But what about the past?

Casting my mind back over the years, I remember with fondness raiding in 40-person teams with Divine Might.

That line right there tells you this is bullshit. If I’ve somehow convinced myself that 40 person raiding was awesome, I must be delusional.

But really!

Divine Might was an absolute KICK ASS guild on Kael’thas when I first started playing the game, back in the days when the only end game raiding there was to look forward to was 40 person groups.

They had two raid teams, and at the time the progression flow in the game went as follows;

Get to level 60.
Run 5 person instances to get geared enough for the 10 person raids.
Run Blackrock Depths 5 billion times to get various people through the Ony attunement that can’t ever figure out what freaking part of the chain they’re on. Ever.
Start obsessing over Fire Resist gear.
Run 10 person raids in Upper and Lower Blackrock Spire to get geared.
Run 10 person raids in Zul’Gurub and lesser AQ to get geared. Work on Zandalari rep.
Finally join 40 person raid teams, start running Onyxia, never get your Tier. Ever. EVER.
Run Molten Core.
Run Molten Core.
Run Molten Core.
YES we still need Fire Resist gear, FFS!
Run Molten Core.
Run Onyxia. Who still needs their crafted Cloak for BWL?
Run Molten Core.
Run Onyxia.
Run Molten Core.
Run Onyxia.Are we done with the damn cloaks yet? OMIGOD.
Blackwing and AQ, here we go!
Naxx? OMIGOD the attunement go go go!
Oops, too late, expansion is here, 10 man and 25 man raiding is born, bah bye 40’s, time for the guild to eat itself over raid spots.

Ooh, that sounds fun, right?

Amazingly enough, it was. It really was.

Times do change, and we grow and adapt to the game. What was fulfilling before may seem simple and even boring now, but back then, there was a spark, an excitement to follow those quests and get attuned and earn a key and get a Drakefire Amulet forged, and everything else associated with it.

Rohan is in my opinion dead right on larger raiding groups back then having room for more people of all skill levels.

In 40 person raiding, there was absolutely some wiggle room to accomodate people who were not completely obsessed with maxing every last aspect of their raiding toolkit.

I’m not saying “room for idiots”, because it wasn’t that, although a truly great raid team could certainly absorb a few people who didn’t try… or know what to do.

No, I mean people who didn’t live, eat and breathe maximizing every little aspect of their game life.

See, I recall the fight mechanics back then as being a bit more… well, unforgiving than they are these days.

Perhaps this is rose-colored welding goggles in gear, but things back then seemed tuned loose for things like pure DPS or health or healing throughput, and tuned tight for movement, situational awareness, and restraint.

For a given value of ‘Don’t move when Flame Wreath is up or you’ll wipe the damn raid”, anyway.

The key seemed to be that as long as everyone stayed alive, you would win. But in order to stay alive, every single player had to manage their location and movement and switch targeting properly, or they’d pretty much die, and maybe suck a horde of adds in on the group on top of it.

Then you’d cheer from the floor for the rest of the run, short thought it may be.

Let’s just take Onyxia as an example.

Three phases to the battle, each a long phase.

To defeat Onyxia felt immensely satisfying, even though it was like 5 packs of trash in one tunnel, then one big dragon fight in a cavern. In a world where we say Trial of the Crusader proved brief trash fights prior to a raging battle agasint one boss in a single room was a stupid idea, Onyxia felt epic.

Have you done Onyxia, old school or modern remix, and payed attention to the mechanics? They’re quite exciting.

There were fears you had to prepare for… you had to locate yourself where you knew that, when you ate the fear, you would not be forced to run so far that you would facepull the Whelps in the caves to either side.

BUT, you couldn’t be so far away from the Whelp caves that you would eat the Dragon’s breath weapon. And you had to watch where you were standing, because the cracks in the ground would erupt in bursts of lava. And the dragon would knock back whoever had aggro for miles and miles. And the dragon couldn’t be taunted, so you had to generate aggro purely through DPS threat generation, so if you pulled off the tank you were a dead bastard, and since the dragon would likely turn to face the offender, the breath weapon would splash all around.

And that’s just in phase 1!

In phase two, the dragon goes airborne, begins raining down fire and destruction upon the area, whelps burst forth from their caves to swarm the groups, madness and chaos descend… screams, shouts, epic Youtube videos and other delights are the end result.

I loved it. I really did.

My point here is, someone might not have known the ‘optimal’ rotation, have the maxed out gear and enchants, used every single tool in their toolbox… but they were not, in any way, ‘carried’.

They just didn’t put out the maximum possible DPS or Heal, but the mechanics had enough wiggle room to allow for that.

You could reasonably run a raid with a few key dedicated genuises organizing and managing everything at the top level of time investment, a bunch of people in the middle making up the majority of your run theorycrafting and looking for that extra 1% of DPS, and quite a few people at the bottom level that were ‘weekend warriors’.

You really lived or died by the competency of your raid leaders, tanks and primary healers, and they got much respect for their dedication and time investment.

Maybe I remember things differently than they were, or maybe the raiding guild I was in was atypical. Too many years gone by to recall.

Where I’m going with this is, I do agree that back then there was more room for players of all experience levels to fill in one raid from the same guild.

Where I see the drawbacks, and why I wouldn’t ever want to go back, are the difficulties I remember so well in trying to find people you knew you could work together with as a team to fill out all 40 positions, and in coordinating schedules so that all 40 people would actually be online, all at the same time, for the same chunk of playtime.

Those are the two bosses I remember destroying more raids than anything else; attendance and scheduling.

Inevitably, with groups that large, we always, always had people logging in at the last minute without food, flasks or buffs, on the other side of the continent needing summons and begging for handouts.

And then, pre-Repair Bot era, needing to hearth and get re-summoned to fix things still broken from the previous week.

I love that Rohan has given me an excuse to take a trip down memory lane, but all things taken into consideration, while I do miss the epic feel of 40 person raids, I don’t miss the scheduling conflicts, being 15 people short and trying to PUG the rest into MC, and all the rest.

If the argument is that larger raid groups make for more player inclusion in the MMO, and a healthier, more active MMO in the long run, I think Looking For Raid makes for the perfect filler between tight small group raid progression and 5 person instance heroics.

If you really want to relax and pew pew without responsibilities… LFR gives us a home to do it in!

Kiss My Circle of Healing

Much time has passed since it was released, but I still like the concept of Looking For Raid. I keep running it on varying characters, and overall I have a good time.

The only thing I haven’t enjoyed is¬†the long wait time as DPS, at least on characters that don’t have a farming profession.

Even as a tank, the wait time can go ten minutes sometimes. Maybe the average is three minutes, but I have seen as high as ten. It happens.

Each time I queue, I’d see the Healers with their estimated 3 second wait time and¬†/envy them.

I’d think to myself, ‘I gotta get me some of that.”

Well, I did.

I leveled my poor, long-suffering Priest to 85, ran instances choosing Spirit gear for all upgrades, and built a complete set of spirit healy gear (with just a couple 377 PvP items, like shoulders), and figured I was all set for LFR.

Before I ran LFR Dragon Soul as a Priest healer, I¬†asked around on Twitter for feedback on what spec I should choose, Holy or Disc. Then I specced Holy, actually reforged so I had a chance, and ran a few Heroics to tweak my Vuh’do and learn timing sequences and synergy and this whole ‘Chakra’ thing.

I did pretty well, and yes I am saying so myself.

At least, I did pretty well for¬†Heroics. Kept all the things alive, no wipes, that sort of stuff. Thank Elune we’re able to drastically overgear content now, because obviously I had NO skill or experience in mana management. My goal was to keep the stuffs alive, and I did so, using tools that I know overhealed for a higher mana cost than I needed to use to get the job done, but it was a start.¬†A REAL healer would know what heal to use to get the job done while conserving mana.

The hardest lesson I had to learn as a former Druid Tree healer was NOT to cast spells. I’m used to HoTting things up right before the damage starts. I am used to casting while the bars are all green, doing the¬†preemptive healing thing.

As a Priest, there are a few preemptive heals like Renew and Prayerof Mending and the HoT from Holy spec Mastery, but most are reactive. You have to wait for a bar to start dropping before you react to it and cast some heals. Or see what target the boss is attacking so you know who is gonna be taking the hit. Or know what AoE is about to hit the group and lay down the Holy Word РSanctuary (also known as pretty sparklies).

It’s a bit of an adjustment, my instincts are to cast, not stand still waiting for the bars to drop. I found myself wishing the tank would take more damage. Maybe that Mage could go stand in the fire for a minute? Please? No? Fine. I’ll just stand here and Renew the tank. Again.

For those not aware, the guild I’m in has three seperate ten person raid teams, named ‘Team Wanda”, “Team Snuffleupagus” and “Team Teddybear.” I’m not in any of them, I’m a persistent floater. ūüôā

My next intended step as a healer was to venture into LFR, after a little Mage leveling.

My plans did not survive contact with my¬†friends, for¬†the call went forth from TheRedDeath, Team Snuffleupagus’ Raid Leader.

/guild channel “We need a ranged DPS and healer for Dragon Soul.”

Cassie immediately tells me I should offer to DPS on my Hunter, to which I replied, “My Hunter is my second favorite character to play, I love playing my Hunter just after my Druid. But my Hunter is my worst geared DPS character. So, no. Red needs better than a crap hunter. He’s used to Cross, and Cross rocks.”

So I remain silent, and¬†Red finds a willing ranged DPS quickly (This really noob Mage, omg he was so lemon¬†fresh he squeaked, named Ursimage or something like that. Noob.), but still needs a healer. I don’t know how the subject comes up, but when asked I say that I can’t heal because I actually LIKE Red, and I wouldn’t want to subject his team to my brand new undergeared ignorant healing.

The answer I got was somewhere along the lines of, “C’mon, how bad could it really be.”

Really? You’re going to go there. oooh,¬†that’s just asking for it, man.

So into the Dragon Soul rode the ten raiders, and hell rode with them.

Surprisingly enough, it wasn’t hell. It wasn’t even purgatory. It wasn’t surf and sand and 12 ounce steaks on the grill with a tropical drink with an itty bitty umbrella in it, but it wasn’t bad at all.¬†

See, Team Snuffleupagus are¬†very good raiders. In fact, almost everyone in Band of Misfits are very good raiders. When someone can’t make a raid night, they never seem to lack for volunteers. They kinda do this a lot, and do it well.

So I joined them with the trash on Morchok, and for the next five bosses we had a lot of fun. The pace was fast and smooth, everyone did what they were supposed to, bosses and trash died, and much joking was had by all. Everyone stayed focused on the goal and hustled without rushing, if you get my meaning. 

By the time Ultraxion died (OMG I two healed on Ultraxion with Silarkias!) I was kinda liking this whole Holy Priest Chakra Healing thing.

All that hullabaloo about Chakra healing, and changing optimization on the fly between single target and AoE healing, plus Holy Word changing states is all pretty awesome once you get into it.

Yes, I know I’m the last idiot left in the game¬†to try Chakra healing out. Sue me, Bears¬†don’t give a Chakra.¬†

I love playing classes new to me in a game I’ve been playing forever. The whiff of new car smell on a model I know and love, what could be better? Now with Priests being enjoyed, that leaves Warlocks and Monks as the last two unexplored countries to look forward to.

Not only did the raiding with Snuffleupagus go great, but I walked away with 2 pieces of Tier gear. Turns out, their team didn’t have any Paladins, Priests or Warlocks in the group that night, so anything that could dr9op for Tier was destined for me.

Please don’t hurt me.

So, a great night, right? This healing thing, pretty fun. And short queue times! Rock on!

So, let’s try out LFR, how bad could it be?

The horror. The horror.

Dudes. Seriously. GET THE FUCK OUT OF THE FIRE.

What is wrong with you people?

I now know why the healing queue time is so short.

Tanking and DPS are straitforward roles, their enemies are the NPCs.

For the healers, the PLAYERS are the enemy. 

How smooth or challenging a run the healer has is based directly on whether or not the other players pay attention, stand in the healing circles, run out of the fire, move to proper range, close in when appropriate, etc.

If the other players just stand there and don’t give a shit if they’re taking damage,¬†the crowd is thick enough that it’s hard to tell why they’re health is plummeting. All a healer can see is a bar dropping, and take frantic steps not to lose them. If time allows, then a combat log can be scanned to see wtf was going on, but by then it may be too late.

A tank grabs what a tank grabs. DPS kills¬†this, DPS kills that. The worst skill-type behavior I’m used to noticing is how lost people STILL get¬†if nobody holds their hand and calls out colors of oozes.

But I never could have imagined the impact lazy DPS and tanks have on a healer in LFR.

I’m not saying the groups wiped, I’m just saying people doing stupid shit¬†like killing EVERY DAMN TENTACLE on the Spine of Deathwing and spawning every possible add SUCKS.

And then, omigod and then, on the last plate for Spine, NOT HAVING ENOUGH DPS TO KILL THE TENDON, so we have to do the last plate all over again? Really? I’ve never even seen that happen before, not killing the tendon,¬†just wtf.¬†

I walked away in disbelief.

Sure, there are 25 players in LFR versus 10 in the normal raid I went on, and yes the AoE spells I used have upper limits on effectiveness based on number of people needin’ the healin’.

I don’t care.¬†It really is true. It’s¬†more annoying to heal LFR than normal¬†because it really is that damn annoying to heal through stupid, and there are oh so many stupids to have to heal!

Or worse yet, heal through “I don’t give a shit”.

It doesn’t have to be that damn hard.

Hey, ranged DPS, when it all goes to black and the tentacles flail, CLOSE IN TO THE CENTER WHERE THE GLOWY SPARKLES ARE.

I feel so bad for healers that see the joy other pe0ple boast about in LFR, and then zone in to deal with that crap on a daily basis.

I don’t want to accentuate the negative, but I’ve been thinking on how LFR could be modified or tweaked to make it a little better for healers, and I’ve got nothing.

In my opinion, LFR is tuned just fine the way it is. If anything, it’s tuned so loose that players can stand in the bad shit and get away with it because the healers can keep up.

Maybe we need harsher penalties for bad behavior.

I’ve noticed that when something is an insta-kill, like running into an ice wall on Hagara, why holy crap, people don’t run into the ice wall on purpose anymore. But if it just causes lots of damage for the healer to heal through, hey, that’s not my concern, right? Let the healer deal with it, that’s their job.

Maybe LFR simply needs more things to be insta-gibs. Maybe if DPS don’t kill at least one ooze out of three, everyone simply dies. Or if you stand in the black blood of the earth on Morchok, one tick and then dead, next time move your ass.

I dunno. Clearly, the current system is working, but at what cost? Are people encouraged to learn the mechanics? Do people who honestly want to know what to do see the results of their actions and learn from it?

I knew healing was intense this expansion, and I hoped it would be fun to try, and it is. But hoochie mama, I had no idea LFR was just THAT irritating.

It turns out, you CAN heal stupid, but I don’t want to.

I wonder, is there an addon that marks players that stand in the bad on my Vuh’do bars, so I can see to stop healing them?

You know, I use Vuh’do, I’ve got whack-a-mole going. If someone were to stand in the bad a few times, I’d love an addon that just recognised that, and colored their entire bar something obnoxious like nuclear red so I know not to ever click on that bar to heal it for the rest of the run. Just let him die and die and die until he leaves in disgust.

Tanks excluded, of course.

I’d so love that. Just notify me that they’re acting stupid, even if I can’t see them doing it in the crush of the crowd, so I can save my mana for someone who cares.

We could call the addon “Heal Nazi“, and when it goes off it whispers the affected player, “No heals for YOU!”

Or maybe that’s a bad idea.