No Attunements: It’s a Good Thing

No Attunements: It’s a Good Thing

Remember Burning Crusade? It was WoW’s first expansion. Whole new continent to explore. We were able  to challenge Illidan for supremacy of Outland. Heroics were introduced for the first time. Content was difficult and everyone was going through it at a manageable pace. Progression felt like progression because it seemed like stuff would take forever to do and you had to wait for everyone else to catch up.

We’re not talking a simple BRD run to get attuned for Molten Core, either. We’re talking full fledged chains and reputation requirements.

Seriously, the only real “fun” aspect of the system was that you could lord it over other people who couldn’t do it. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I used to be one of those people.

“Oh what’s that? You can’t get into Serpentshrine? Sorry to hear that man, I gotta go raid it right now.”

I wasn’t proud of who I was then. But I was young, I didn’t know better, and it felt like a status thing to me. I could get into this one instance that only a select few people could get into. Tempest Keep was like the prefect’s bathroom of Hogwarts that only the best and hardest working could get into. It was another way to measure and compare your character’s “worth” against others.

Look at this diagram below (Can click to expand).

830px-WoWRaids

Look at what a mess the entire Burning Crusade tier was.

You had to get keys and hit revered with certain factions just to hit different raids. The benefit attunements came with is that the players who went through the entire gauntlet were well trained at the end. They put in the hours, the wipes, and were well equipped to handle the raids. The attunement process took them through so many instance runs that they had to inevitably gear up through drops or valor that by the time they finished, their character could survive and contribute to the raid.

Not a bad raiding initiation and training process.

Pre-nerf Shattered Halls.

Pre-nerf Shadow Labyrinth.

I’m hoping challenge modes return or exceed that level of difficulty.

Actually, I will grant that there is one thing I liked about the way everything was laid out. Progression was clearly laid out. There wasn’t a recommended path or anything, but you clearly knew based on the quests received what you had to do in order to get to the end. Cataclysm was a little more open ended at max level. Call it a hunch, but when given too many options or choices, I suspect people might freeze up and not where to go. I believe it’s called Decision paralysis. Does it apply? Maybe. So much selection and not knowing where to go.

I’m hoping Mists will have some signposts that offer some insight on where you should go first.

With the first raiding tier of Wrath, you could waltz into Obsidian Sanctum then onwards to Naxx. But only after taking Sapphiron’s key could you assault Malygos in the Eye of Eternity.

So bottom lining this, I’m not in a rush to see Attunements return. But I’m not opposed if a minor gating mechanism was in place for select bosses. The way Algalon’s was setup or Sinestra is one way you can place a pseudo-attunement in place. In addition, I was internally debating with myself the idea of either select guild attunements or account based attunements. Not sure what conditions or settings would have to be in order to pull it off, but it’s something in the back of my mind.

You Screwed Up

You Screwed Up

You let the tank die.

You missed the interrupt.

You didn’t line up your cooldowns properly.

You died to the fire.

You dispelled the frost bomb in the wrong place.

You got hit by the ball.

You hit a healing cooldown on a purple ooze.

You faced the boss and it cleared the whole raid.

You didn’t hit the Heroic Will button.

You want to quit the raid in shame and disgust at yourself for failing so hard.

No way. No how. Not a chance.

You learned something that cost the guild bank hundreds, possibly thousands of gold.

Make that gold count.

Look, I get it. You screwed up.

You can punish yourself, if you want to.

You can deposit money in the guild bank, if you’ll feel better.

You can apologize profusely to the raid, if you think it will help.

Everyone deals with personal failure in their own way.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what you do as long as you learn from it.

7 Fun Activities to do on the Bench

7 Fun Activities to do on the Bench

6 PM rolls around which means it’s time to raid.

Potions? Check.

Buff food? Check.

Drinks? Ginger Ale for me, not sure what the rest of you go with.

You get the invite to raid and glance at your party frames before doing a double take. Your name isn’t anywhere in the first five groups. Guess what? You’re in the ever elusive group 6. Your WoW Instant Messenger springs to life with a message from the boss. Looks like they’re going for a new composition which means you need to take a seat on the bench for the first few encounters.

At this stage in the expansion, compositions vary wildly based on bosses, who needs what, and number of trial players (if any). It’s pretty darn dejecting to warm the seats. It’s not done out of malice or hate. Your guild has decided on that specific configuration to get them through that specific challenge (or if it’s a farm boss, it’s they need to grab someone specifically for loot or trial reasons).

Hey, your guild is counting on you, too!

Even I, thee Matticus, gets called upon to sit. On the evenings I do sit, I have a myriad of activities at my disposal.

  • Reading: It seems as if there’s not enough time for people to read as much as they want. Right now, I’m working on the third book in the Kane Chronicles (The Serpent’s Shadow). If not books, I’ll catch up on various blogs around the internet via Google Reader.
  • Gaming: I don’t think I’ll be get in a full League of Legends match, but I can squeeze in a game of Draw Something or Scramble with Friends on my iPhone. On the computer, I’ll pounce onto the guild Minecraft server (I’m working on a personal fortress but I need more cobblestone).
  • Alts: Great time to work on some questing or getting in some leveling time on an alt. Don’t have an alt? Great time to start one!
  • Watch a movie or a TV show: Netflix anyone? Been rewatching a few episodes of Family Guy (Be a banana!). If the raiding group needs me, they can just holler. Enough time for me to pause and switch back to the game.
  • Writing: So many post ideas and so many things to write, just not enough time to do it all! Great time for me to work on a post like what I do when I’m chilling on the side.
  • Raiding: Raid Finder on an alt? Working on my 5th Priest now.
  • Watching the livestream: The guild has several streamers now. I’ll usually have a monitor up to keep track of progress while doing one of the other activities above.

What if you need gear?

No problem! Send a tell to your raid leader letting them know that you’re really interested in coming in for a future attempt.

Here, let me write you a template. Use the terms appropriate to your guild’s atmosphere.

Dear [boss/captain/fearless leader/a**hole]

This is just a tell to let you know that I would really like to come in for the next boss. There’s an item that I want because it [upgrades an item/is off spec/is for transmog/makes my character look 5 pounds lighter than I actually am]. Could you find it in your [heart/soul/noggin’] to bring me in so that I might benefit from the spoils?

Sincerely,

Your favourite [player/monkey/badass/<class> of all time]

Anyway, tell me about your bench experiences. You cool with watching from the side? What do you like to do or work on when you’re on the bench?

Answering 8 Questions of a Guild Acquisition

Answering 8 Questions of a Guild Acquisition

Like many of our fellow 25 man raiding guild friends, we experienced our share of recruiting problems. Players had been losing interest in Warcraft. Every raid night was a dice-roll to see which line ups could be fielded. Some days we were able to raid short-handed with 23 or less.

It’s really easy to sit back and say “Just recruit”. I commend those who have the weight to attract candidates. The reality for the rest of us is that it’s a little different. If you divided the 10 million-ish players among their different criteria, you’d end up with categories based on stuff like:

  • Time zone (Region)
  • Focus (Competitive, hardcore, casual)
  • Progression
  • Loot system (DKP, loot council)
  • Activities (PvP, PvE)

One of the officers in guild proposed wholesale acquisition of a guild instead of a merger.

For the sake of definition:

Guild merger – Complete integration of two guilds with agreed upon distribution of players (roles), leadership, and loot. Possibly includes name changes and site changes. Resources tend to be combined together.

Guild acquisition – One guild completely absorbs and assimilates a guild. Generally, no leadership spots are given. Bank items can be distributed as they see fit. Sometimes, there is no pooling of resources. There’s minimal (if any) changes to the absorbing guild’s identity or website.

Several months ago, we ran into a guild that was looking to be acquired. Seems that their officer corps was in a mess.

More importantly, they couldn’t find anyone with the time, dedications, or skills to lead the group. Ultimately, they decided they still wanted to play together as much as possible and went shopping for a guild that was willing to consider taking them in.

What were the qualities?

From our perspective, when looking for guilds to pick up, we’re looking for a number of key aspects:

  • Skilled players that can suit our immediate needs. No point picking up 2 surplus tanks and extra rogues if the present raid already has 4. If we’re looking for healers and ranged DPS and that group had those players, we’d talk business.
  • Similar progression. We wanted to avoid  having to re-teach certain encounters. We also wanted to minimize gear gaps.
  • Similar raid ethic and mindset. This is just for general raiding compatibility. Players that have the same attitude towards raiding are generally more cooperative with each other and are willing to set personal feelings aside in favour of getting the job done.
  • Compatible personalities. Similar to the above point. Minimizes any personnel disagreements or verbal fights/arguments.
  • Indifferent to leadership positions. Non-negotiable. Leadership structure already in place. It’s okay to have leadership aspirations like being an officer, but that can come later after getting a few raids under the belt.
  • Raid times and hours. Also non-negotiable. No point in picking up players who can’t raid because they have to go to sleep early or because they can’t get home from work early enough.

We decided to jump on their Ventrilo servers. It was extremely important that we figure out what the intentions and philosophies of each other were. We found that there were a surprising number of questions. Here’s the questions we received and how we answered them:

  • What happens to the social players?
    We’ll accept all of them. They can participate in whatever activities they like but if they’re looking for spots on the raid or rated BG teams, they’ll need to apply.
  • How is loot handled? Will our status prevent us from rolling?
    We use loot council. Initiates are allowed to express their interest in an item. You won’t be prevented from rolling on an item that is an upgrade for you.
  • What kind of raiding opportunities can we expect?
    There’s a spot for you and your players on our progression team. If your contributions are solid, we’ll make sure you see action.
  • What other activities are there?
    We have a Minecraft server that some of the players like to mess around with. We have a growing group of competitive Starcraft 2 players. League of Legends games usually occurs nightly with as much as 2 or 3 5 man teams firing off at once.
  • What happens if things don’t work out?
    If things aren’t compatible, Ner’zhul has a balanced and decent sized population. There are other raiding guilds on the server you could consider working with that might be willing to give you and your team a shot.
  • What roles are looking to be filled?
    [At the time] Ranged DPS and healers.

They weren’t the only ones with questions. We owed it to ourselves for due diligence. No one likes to waste anyone’s time. Here’s the questions that we asked them:

  • Why do you want to merge with us?
    No one really wants the job of being a GM or raid leading. We just want to play the game and raid.
  • Is it an absolute requirement for all of you to raid together?
    It’s preferred but we understand that there isn’t going to be roster slots open the whole time. We’re okay with being in the same guild at the very least.

I can’t say for sure the viability of a 10 man guild absorbing or merging with a 10 man guild. But a 25 man raiding guild taking in a 10 man guild appears to be easier to handle and coordinate since much of the infrastructure and power base already exists. Whereas two 10 mans trying to join forces might need additional time to work out leadership structures, guidelines, and other administrative details.

Have you ever been a part of a guild merger before? How did that end up for you? If you could have done something different, what would it have been?

The Substitute Raid Leader

The Substitute Raid Leader

Remember the days in school where your favourite teacher was away?

Maybe she was sick or needed a personal day.

Then the sub would roll in with a giant, CRT television that was Velcro strapped to a cart and you thought to yourself, “YES! It’s going to be one of those days!”

Getting a substitute teacher is like a day off. Subs were mainly there to supervise and hand out homework. Sometimes they weren’t able to teach the lesson plans your main teacher already had in place.

Once in a while, you dice rolled into a teacher who unexpectedly knew their stuff (I once had a Caucasian teacher who spoke fluent mandarin and taught the class pretty well. Not bad).

In your raid, what happens when your raid leader’s out cold? Maybe he stayed up too late watching Starcraft 2 tournaments while excessively drinking.*

* That has never happened. It’s completely hypothetical.

Chances are you have several fall back plans at your disposal:

  • Cancel raid – Worse case scenario. Wasted raid night. Players get to relax and have a night off.
  • Delay – Not a bad option. Instead of tossing the whole night, you end up tossing 30 minutes or an hour. Dismiss your players and have them regroup at a specified time. This allows them to engage in other activities.
  • Run a different raid – Could go knock out a specific raid achievement that doesn’t require a full roster or tackle another boss that has a specific drop that are still improvements for certain players.
  • Down size – Only applicable to 25 man raid groups. Viable option if a progression boss is later on in the instance. You can speed up the process by sending in a small team to knock out some of the earlier bosses that aren’t needed. Downside is that this isn’t applicable to hard mode raiding because you’ll end up being saved to that specific lockout (and it applies to raid size).
  • Run with someone else quarterbacking – Every raid leader needs a number 2. This is their chance to prove they can function as a number 1.

In most cases, the last option is the most viable. A 25 man guild is likelier to have other players capable of stepping in to lead compared to a 10 man

The problem.

Like the substitute teacher, the substitute raid leader suffers from 1 problem:

No one takes them seriously

The newly promoted raid leader is usually one of the boys who’s a raider or an officer not normally known to raid lead.

Guys!

There’s still a raid going on! There’s still internet dragons that need to be killed!

Just because there’s an absence doesn’t give you the license to mess around card. He might have a different style of running the show but you as a raid team need to give him that support! They may not have the months or years of experience that your primary raid leader has but give them a shot! It’s upsetting to see that when the cat’s away the mice will play. Most of you don’t raid 7 days a week and you have nights off where you can relax and do other stuff anyway. Of the nights where you do raid, your raid leader (whoever it happens to be) needs your undivided attention and focus.

Don’t just dismiss them.

Give them a chance to show what they can do.

Dragons don’t just spontaneously lie down. They still need you and your raid to work together.

Guest Post: Abuse in WoW, A Personal Story

Guest Post: Abuse in WoW, A Personal Story

(This is a guest post by Kat from Shaman Nebula. No, not the Kat on the Matticast. This Kat plays a Resto Shaman in a raiding 10 man team.)

Yesterday, I was accused that having the privilege of being a girl. Whatever special effects our sex brings to the table has helped me climb the ranks of standard raider status for my guild’s raiding team. That I was offered numerous perks, contrary to what a man would ever imagine of receiving as fast and as efficiently.

Huh?

I mean.

WTF?

Let me introduce myself.

My name is Kat and I’m an adult female playing video games. One of many and one of plenty. Make no mistake, the rumour of girls not playing games is only but a myth. I’ve always enjoyed gaming, whether that was defined by a tennis court or a pc screen. Gaming of any sorts compliments my competitive nature and soothes my need to keep myself constantly busy. I take pride in the fact that I never give up and that although I’m a sore loser I make it up by persevering and carefully planning my come back. If I’m told I’m not good enough you can be sure I’ll bust my ass come next day in order to prove you and myself the opposite. I’m the kind of person that will spend countless hours on improving my character and my skills. This means reading copious online guides, spending innumerable hours grinding dungeons and consolidating with fellow players, not to mention countless hours of testing addons in order to squeeze that little extra of what any spell can give me (with the vicious God of GCD becoming  my only reason to hesitate).

So when this guy accused me of using my sex to climb up, I burst into flames.

His exact words were “I wish I had your pair of <upper female parts> to guarantee me a raiding spot and a whole guild raving about my skills and people constantly trying to get my attention for doing absolutely nothing else but existing, rather than ignore me when I log on”.

Huh?

I was bewildered by how blind this person could be to their own faults. Instead of blaming his own inadequacy for being left out, he felt the need to put me down by insinuating that beyond my genders physical characteristics, I didn’t have anything to offer to my team.

Thanks.

So the fact I have <insert upper female parts> is enough to solo heal HC Ultraxion. (Matt’s note: That’s actually pretty flippin’ impressive).

Silly me, I can take the green buff while my <insert upper female parts>  take the red and blue one respectively, actively making me and them a team of 3.

Makes you wonder what their combined item level would be.

This is not the first time that I am being haunted by such an accusation in the game. When it happens once it’s easy to let it go, but when it keeps occurring you feel the need to stop and reassess the way you let other people influence you, not the way in which you behave or look at yourself.

Make no mistake that this is bullying and it should not be tolerated.

Truth of the matter is I enjoy as many advantages of being a woman playing WoW as I do the disadvantages. A team could either welcome me because I’m a woman or also reject me because of it. It’s not a secret that women are usually not regarded as top players. Top women players are considered to be the exception and not the rule. Hardcore guilds base your petition by your skills, your experience and your logs, not your bra size.

I was left wondering how sexist this guy really was, how ignorant or how right he could have been. The question isn’t about how good I actually am. With skills equally compared to a male fellow player, which one of us would make the cut? 

It all comes down again to the battle of the sexes.

Digital Azerothian edition.

Who would think something like this would even occur to a universe where anonymity rules?

I am somewhat bitter. I want to believe at the end it all comes down to skills and character. I hate to think that I was given something I didn’t deserve just because I am a woman. I read innumerable posts of female WoW bloggers documenting the exact opposite. Of how much abuse they have received because of their sex. Guild masters not promoting them, raid members not accepting them into their all guys team. And the list goes on.

At the end of the day, we need to realize that a guild, the WoW community, is just an extension of real life. Real people are involved after all which means real problems are going to transfer into Azeroth. Is this natural?  A while back, I was studying for my degree, a classmate accused me of getting a bigger mark from him because I’m a woman. What he didn’t know our professor was homosexual of course which made his accusation even more hilarious.

My point is this.

All these people are nothing more than bullies.

It doesn’t matter what world you live in or play in. They are feeding their insecurities by putting you down. From the bully that made fun of you because you were overweight at school to the guild master that didn’t accept your opinion because of your sex. From the bully insinuating you are getting a raid spot because of your sex or being denied one for the same exact reason. And one doesn’t hurt less than the other because real people are involved.

Real feelings.

Real emotions.

It shouldn’t be perceived as natural that abuse will occur in our gaming world simply because it does in real life.

Next time you feel like making fun or degrading someone in your guild do yourself a favour and think about it twice. Or even someone in a random pug. You never know who this person is, what they have been through.

Discrimination, abusive behaviour, violence of any kind should never be tolerated. It’s my belief that the gaming community is purer than any other community in the world. And if you feel that you can’t make a difference think of this. Change starts from within and in this age, never before has a single voice sounded louder. 

Transitioning to 25 Man: Your Tips?

Nikalia on Plus Heal posted a question:

Do any of you have any tips/hints/tricks/advice on some things one might expect when transitioning into 25 man hard mode healing after being used to 10 man for so long?

As I’ve primarily been a 25 man healer for the longest time, it’s difficult for me to do a compare/contrast between 10 man hard mode healing and 25 man hard mode healing.

Healing Assignments

One of the replies made to the thread by Oleander is the importance of healing assignments. Vik and I (both priests) will usually tag a pair or groups in 25 man. For example, on Ultraxion, I’ll tell him I’ll target groups 4 and 5 and he generally takes 1 – 3. That doesn’t mean I won’t heal the other groups if needed, but even though I’m casting Holy Word: Sanctuary on the ground, I’ll be dropping Prayer of Healing bombs on the 4th and 5th groups meaning he can effectively “blank out” players in those groups from his target selection.

Egos

I don’t know how often one would encounter this in 10s, but there is a high chance that you may be working with player egos in 25.

Be prepared for it.

Don’t let other players get under your skin and don’t take it personally when you have the occasional bad day. Some players like to playfully use meters as a way to proclaim their own sense of superiority (namely Druids, because I find that they’re compensating for something ^^). That being said, feel free to go along with the banter a bit. But when push comes to shove, make sure you shove that ego aside and troubleshoot any healing problems you come across collectively.

Damage

The sheer amount of incoming damage can be staggering. Instead of 10 players, you’re responsible for 25. Know which players to prioritize (As in, oh that guy’s a Mage, he can Cauterize himself and is going to die in 8 seconds but that guy’s a Rogue, he’s probably going to die in 2 seconds so I better heal him). Your decision making needs to both get better and faster. But the bright side is more players means more cooldowns you can use to for raid saving purposes.

What other piece of advice would you offer a player making that change from 10 to 25 man?

Heroic Morchok Down: Where Next?

Heroic Morchok Down: Where Next?

Managed to score Heroic Morchok on Tuesday. Ended up using 6 healers. Another classic 22% wipe, then a 16% wipe, then a 13% followed by an 8% then a kill. Actually, the numbers aren’t precise. But that’s what it seemed like anyway.

How to Land 3 Healing Spells in Under 2 Seconds

It seems impossible, doesn’t it?

Note that I didn’t quite say I would cast 3 spells only that I would land them. You have to be precise when it comes to timing and you need to be ready to pounce on the next spell the moment the other one is finished.

We were working on heroic Morchok for a total of 6 – 8 hours (over 4 weeks, with raid hours lost due to a healer shortage). Our longest attempt was just under 6 minutes. Most of the wipes occurred between 2 – 3 minutes. The trickiest part for me was maintaining tank health right after a stomp. A common occurrence I noticed is that after Kohcrom stomped, he would attack the tank around 2 seconds later. If I timed it right, I could land a Flash Heal and a quick Holy Word: Serenity. But sometimes that wasn’t enough. I needed another way because those two spells just weren’t consistent enough. Sometimes the tank lived, sometimes he died. I wanted a better (and consistent) way in keeping that tank alive.

It all revolved around the Stomp.

After a few wipes, I realized the consistency of his melee swing following the stomp. I didn’t want to focus exclusively on the tank to the detriment of the group. But at the same time, if the tank dropped it was game over.

Timers from DBM gave me a 5 second count down on approximately when the stomp would land.

I ended up watching the animation of the stomp. The moment the foot start rising up, I’d target the tank and hit Prayer of Healing ensuring it would land just after Stomp connected with the group. This gave me time for a quick Flash Heal (Or Binding Heal) followed up with Serenity (or a Circle of Healing if the tank was sufficiently high enough.

Credits to

Lodur for gemming all strength reforging to Mastery giving him the ability to really stabilize players and allowing me to spike them back  up.

The DPS warriors on my side who picked up on the fact that when I frantically called their name, it meant I wanted a Rallying Cry (and giving us that buffer after a fumbled heal).

Logan of the LeetSauced podcast (and soon-to-be host of the Matticast) for remaining calm, collected and patient after enduring hours of frustrating incidents beyond his control.

Tanks with 4 piece bonuses. Seriously. More bonuses like this in the future.

Old Spice. I smelled awesome that raid.

Now what?

What’s the next hard mode boss that you went to after Morchok (25 man as I understand 10 man has different priorities)?

Hagara?

Ping pong guy?

Ooze boss?

Seems like we’re going to take a hard look at Hagara. Pointers?

Mists of Pandaria Needs More Ulduar

I miss Ulduar. I have a suspicion that it ranks up there as the raider’s choice raid instance of all time. From the pacing, to the art, the difficulty and so forth, it has a fond place in the hearts of most Wrath raiders.

But what exactly about Ulduar made it so enticing? How can Blizzard recreate that feeling of wonder and accomplishment in future raid instances?

Atmosphere

The one that did it for me the most was that it wasn’t a typical dungeon like atmosphere. It wasn’t dark or dreary. It wasn’t like Black Temple, Icecrown Citadel or Blackwing Descent. It’s not the standard dark and dank dungeon. It was way brighter and had more variety with the different rooms. Granted, you had to siege your way in but once you were inside, it felt like you were in a type of shrine. Ice cavern on one side, lush tropics on another side, and it had a tram.

Every raid instance needs a tram.

In Mists, I’m hoping to see more encounters in outdoor instances. Less inside a dark cave or the side of a mountain. Maybe more in a dojo or up the side of a physical mountain (Mount Hyjal anyone?).

Limited time

Sadly this raid instance didn’t have the shelf life that other raid instances had. It felt really short because it came out in the spring. Right as summer rolled around, Trial of the Crusader came out and the players heading back into Ulduar stopped because that gear and challenge incentive wasn’t there anymore. Maybe the reason the instance is remembered so fondly is that most players didn’t have time to get sick of the place yet.

Amount of bosses

Ulduar had 14 bosses (1 of them was Algalon). I think there’s a sweet spot somewhere if you’re looking at number of bosses in a tier and amount of time allocated to clearing that tier. Ulduar’s time frame was effectively 4 months with 13 bosses (and this excludes the hard mode variations). The other tier that ranks in my favourites list was tier 5 which had 10 bosses (6 in Serpentshrine Cavern and 4 in Tempest Keep). Firelands was the only one for tier 12 (effectively 7 bosses plus hard modes and a Baradin Hold boss).

I liked the model which had more than one raid instance per tier. Tier 5 and tier 11 are good examples of this. You had a good amount of bosses that were spread out over multiple instances allowing raid groups to pick and choose where to start from each week. Instead of jamming them all into instance, having them spread out gave the feeling of not burning out as quickly.

2 – 3 instances of 3 – 5 bosses sprinkled throughout seem to be the most ideal and I hope they’ll revisit that consistently in Mists.

Catch phrase

Every raid instance needs a catch phrase.

IN THE MOUNTAINS!

… Right?

Conditional hard modes

Activated hard modes of each boss had to be triggered manually by doing specific encounter things. This was first made popular in Obsidian Sanctum against Sartharion where the amount of drakes killed affected the difficulty level of the boss. Flame Leviathan was affected by the amount of towers that were killed. Deconstructor’s was triggered by whether or not your raid group DPS was high enough to destroy the heart. Nowadays all your raid leaders need to do is toggle a switch.

Actually, now that I think about it, there were scalable hard modes. Iron Council could be engaged multiple ways depending on the order. Freya was just nuts.

My finest moment?

Orbituary on 25 man. You’d be hard pressed to find another encounter so demanding in terms of coordination required. When successfully pulled off, it was one of the greatest highs experienced because you were taking on an encounter where most players weren’t using their actual class abilities (other than the boarding team). Each catapult launcher had to coordinate navigation, sprints, fuel reloading and maintaining DPS. Those on the bikes had to make sure they were in position to retrieve launched players, drop oil slicks and so forth. Can’t remember what the siege ones did other than interrupts and trying to shoot fuel.

Though I suspect if Ulduar had been out for another month or two, we would all have been annoyed with it.

Maybe Pandaria will have a similar installation hidden on the island.

Dragon Soul Thoughts

I like the new raid. The pace is overall easier compared to Firelands. I know the Raid Finder makes it extremely easy to barrel through but I liked the way it’s turned out.

The Advantage of the Raid Finder

When I tried it out on the PTR, I was disappointed at the amount of time it actually took to get going. I endured 10 minutes of players dropping queue and requeuing on the PTR. But with a much larger population on live servers, it doesn’t take that long to get going actually. The raid finder came in handy during day one. It’s nice to see all the new writeups, strategies and so forth but it is another thing entirely to be in the instance itself. Granted, the raid finder difficulty is extremely forgiving. But to visually expose yourself to the effects, the abilities, and the terrain adds another dimension entirely.

I know that when Tuesday came around, a a number of players on the team just happened to get sick on the same day. At the very least, they were feeling just well enough to duck into the raid finder for a few hours to try out the tool and check out the place. We stomped through the place in around 90 minutes. Realistically, expect to spend between an hour to 2 hours inside there depending on overall raid skill. I’ve been really lucky with my groups as I’ve only experienced around 5 or so wipes through the entire night on my alts and such.

On epic gems

One thing I am not satisfied with is the way epic gems are handled. When you take down a raid boss, you get a Mote of Darkness which you can use to cash into a vendor. Depending on which way the dice rolls, you could end up with green quality gems or epic gems. And the prices for these things are outrageous. Red epic gems have skyrocketed to as high as 25000 gold already. Yeesh! During Burning Crusade, you could either mine them (Mount Hyjal) or loot them off bosses (Black Temple). In Wrath of the Lich King, I believe they were prospected and then purchasable via points or emblems. They’re trying something new this time around and I don’t know if I like the way it’s being done. In previous guilds, epic gems were handled from a collective standpoint. That is, we would bank every gem we get and then hand them out (master looted or a specific miner would get them). This time around, epic gems are now solely in the hands of the players and their own luck. I have difficulty asking players to give up any epic quality gems that they get to the guild. Perhaps the best way to reconcile it then would be to place the responsibility of epic gems back in the hands of the player.

Normal difficulty

The standard raiding difficulty should not be underestimated. Don’t think you can 2 heal this stuff yet on 10 man, for example (unless you’re rocking full Firelands heroic gear). For unprepared raids, it can still present a challenge. I’ve been a part of organized groups who just can’t seem to ping pong their way to victory on the Warlord.

Don’t get me started on the lightning phase of Hagara. As the wise Mel tells me:

Truism of WoW: When you have to avoid chain lightning, you can’t. When you want to chain, everyone is [perfectly] spread to avoid it.

So while coordination efforts are trivialized in the raid finder, expect it to be a little more punishing in the harder difficulties. Speaking of which, let’s not forget that this patch is supposed to last us until Mists of Pandaria. Either they’re getting close to a testing period or hard mode Dragon Soul is going to be really hard. Firelands went from the end of June until now (end of November). That was around 5 months.

Anyway, day one was capped off with a respectable 4/8 finish. I’m expecting Deathwing to provide much more of a challenge. I’d be thrilled if we can score a full clear during week one. I don’t want to set myself up for disappointment. Just going to take it boss by boss and concentrate on the present.

How has your experience with the raid finder been? Are you satisfied or bored with Dragon Soul? Hell, do you even find it appealing at all with the stuff you’ve seen?