Mages, ten-man raiding, and other things that are awesome.

Posts tagged ‘H LK is a jerkface’

Been Waiting A Long Time For This…

I don’t often blow my horn about my guild. (I don’t think I do, anyhow, but feel free to correct me if I’m wrong). I do write about my guild’s experiences where they intersect with something I want to talk about. Every now and then, though, I just really want to go on about something significant.

Many thanks to Draos from my guild for a number of screenshots used in this post.

Six months ago we were finishing up our last heroic ICC kill. Things didn’t look promising from there – heroic Lich King is a fight that was highly tuned for a strict ten guild. That’s not to say that none have done it (I know of at least two and one is an awesome blogger)!

As the months went on, it began to look like an H LK kill would slip through our fingers. We were plagued by personnel issues as we flailed against the Summer Boss. There were vacations (including Voss and I going on vacation in October). We were demoralized. We actually decided to stop working on H LK, period.

Longtime readers will remember how we discussed and wavered about whether or not we would keep our strict ten ranking. Ultimately, we decided to drop it. It was more important to us to have all our guildies in one place. Many of us “stricters” went out and tried ICC 25 in the weeks that followed. Most of us didn’t get any loot, anyhow. We no longer “ranked.” We’d decided to let H LK go. It gnawed at me a little bit, but I wasn’t going to force the guild to do something that they didn’t want to do.

One night, I was flying around Icecrown with Voss doing Argent Tournament dailies. He told me he was whispering with one of our paladin tanks, Meraxis. Mer had gotten a whisper from a guy in a 25-man guild on our server. They’d been armory stalking us and wanted to know if Mer, Voss, and Pan (our discipline priest) would like to join their H LK attempts. I remember sitting silently for a few minutes and then turning to Voss.

We should be doing that fight,” I said to him. “We shouldn’t be doing it with some other people. We should be doing it together. Do you think anyone else still wants to do it? That is so wrong.”

“Let’s ask,” he said, and we asked in guildchat. My visceral reaction was one of simple wrongness – that our guildies should be working on such a tough achievement with some other random people, instead of their raiding guild. Everyone who was online at the time (some six or seven of us) wanted to do it. We made a forum post. Nine out of fourteen people responded with a resounding yes and two more told me later they didn’t realize they had to post for it to be understood that they wanted to do it. We wanted to do it. We started working on it again.

It was not easy to get the team together. Scheduling hated us. Vacations and timing hated us, but we kept at it, extending our lockout, re-clearing for more chances at gear that might make an infinitesimal difference on the fight. As the weeks ticked by we increasingly felt the crunch – there was a hard deadline for this achievement and we were staring it down. Last week’s attempts ended on a high note – we got him to thirty-eight percent, our best attempt yet.

This week, we got him to thirty-three percent. On our next best attempt…

I am not sure I breathed for the last five minutes of the encounter. It was all a blur of desperate, focused intensity. Our first Harvest Soul went without a hitch. We followed our paladin tank and danced the dance and our healers were incredible and we came through. Everything was going fine until the second Harvest Soul. Even that went fine – we came out, but our paladin tank dropped quickly.

“Can we get a battle rez on him?!” I blurted into Vent. Ulla got him up but then we went back into Shadowmourne and this time lost our holy priest. No one said anything in the tension but you could FEEL us all focusing. It was getting down to the crunch. As we came out, our poor unbuffed paladin ate another Soul Reaper and went down again.

“HANG IN THERE,” I yelped as Voss quickly picked up the big bad.

“Two percent left, come on guys,” our paladin said.

Living Bomb, Scorch, don’t get hit by Vile Spirits, yesss pyroblast, fireball, fireball, come on, come on…

Yes, you heard me. DEAD.

DEAD. The sound was deafening. We annoyed everyone by sitting and watching the cinematic again. No, there is no heroic version. But the incredible feeling of succeeding at this lent it extra emotion to me.

I have never been prouder of our guild. We didn’t get this kill earlier, and that’s OK. We didn’t even get it while we were “ranked” strict ten. But there is no one who has 277 gear (aside from our rings, naturally). We’re all dressed pretty much exactly as we were when we were still as strict as can be. In our hearts we’ve never been anything but a tens guild, and this is a great triumph. I’m immensely happy. I’m excited to go back and do it again since everyone was not there.

It also bears mentioning that this kill holds significant personal significance for me, for one very good reason:

I did it with my main. Not a single member ever complained to me that I swapped moonkin for mage post-4.0. Originally the intent was for people to “try out” new specs and classes, I’ll admit that I seized the opportunity to play the character I have missed since January. It was selfish of me. Millya’s gear isn’t quite as good as Shae’s was. But damn it, she is my Millya. She is Bane of the Fallen King, and I know who my true main always will be, and I couldn’t have done that without my generous and uncomplaining guildies. I don’t think I was holding us back in the final kill (for any WoL nerds, like me). But this story doesn’t have a star. Everyone tonight was awesome and essential to our success. I am so proud I could burst!

Congratulations, Business Time! Tonight you were all down to just your socks.

Oh, he's fallen all right.

When the going gets tough

Kae wrote a really fantastic post about Heroic Lich King. It’s worth reading even if your guild isn’t necessarily working on Heroic Lich King because it applies to any tough raid encounter that’s going to take your raid group a long time to beat successfully. Since I’ve been in Business Time, we’ve had a few of these albatrosses. In a funny way, when you overcome an encounter like this through perseverance over a period of time – your raid is that much more prepared for the next to come. Perhaps to make myself more clear, I need to get retrospective:

Firefighter

When I first joined the guild, they had done quite a bit of hardmode Ulduar. They had completed the hard modes for every encounter – up to Mimiron, and Yogg-Saron. If you aren’t familiar with Firefighter, I’ll lay it out fast and dirty for you. On his normal difficulty, Mim is a Four-phase fight. When you push that red button, he becomes a four-phase fight of WHAT IS THIS I DON’T EVEN. The hard mode adds the mechanic of spreading fire on the ground that is being put out by robots that can and will kill you or knock you into something that will kill you, along with heavier damage from all of his abilities, and targeted abilities on the raid members that could nearly one-shot us if we didn’t get urgent triage from a healer. But despite all of that – the frustration of a grueling and unforgiving encounter, it’s not what I remember most about Mimiron.

Firefighter was like a marathon. We started running it together and night after night we’d be in there listening to his screechy voice, just happy to have made it that much closer to phase three, that much closer to phase four. I kid you not, I dreamed about Firefighter. We learned the dance, we learned the positioning, we learned how to manage the fires, and eventually it all came together. But before it did, we had some casualties. No, they didn’t die to Mimiron’s fire.

It was the only fire I had access to, okay? It's dramatic.

One

We caught one of the guild’s tanks standing at the Ulduar summoning stone on an unguilded alt, heading into Ulduar after he’d set himself unavailable for our raid. (Incidentally, we were also short people that night). When we whispered him to ask him what was going on, his reply basically amounted to: “Going to Ulduar with my alt’s guild, have fun with Firefighter lololol.” Our guild leader at the time booted him on the spot. Obviously he didn’t want to spend the time with us working on hard content. Firefighter had claimed its first victim. He lacked the commitment.

Two

Healer tension between a Holy paladin and our then-Holy priest came to a head that culminated in the paladin leaving. He felt that we were not going to improve at the fight as long as she was there. Granted, she did have a tendency to die to situational things, which was the kiss of death for that encounter. We had our second Firefighter casualty.

Three, Four

The other thing holding us back with Firefighter was overall DPS was low and some people had a tendency to stand in the fire. The next two losses were a bit uglier, because we had a warlock who just… wasn’t getting it. His DPS was low. He claimed it was because he was taking utility talents, but I was routinely leaving him in my dust (by a large margin) and his gear was significantly better than mine. (I recognize this sounds very “Look at me, I’m so awesome,” I’m not a jerk; I was actually embarrassed to be in the position of making him look bad as “the new kid.” I really wanted him to improve, too.) He proved resistant to any suggestions as to how to improve his DPS. His friend (the aforementioned priest) was very protective of him. The unfortunate combination: They both ended up leaving. I don’t want to get into the messy, dramatic aspect of this. It’s all water under the bridge as far as I’m concerned. I think they probably found a place where they are happier. But statistically, they are important.

Five

The last raider was someone who just didn’t see the point in hard modes. He didn’t leave the guild (then) but he did later. He just didn’t want to do them, felt they were a waste of his time – he came to Firefighter once, but hadn’t watched the videos and was a giant liability. I was just as happy when he stopped coming.

Didn’t You See The Sign…

So that’s five raiders broken by the challenge of Firefighter with our guild that opted to go elsewhere. I discuss them not because I mean to say “Haha, we beat this encounter, even after they left,” but because I want to highlight just how intense this kind of progression can be. I think some people thought we’d never successfully complete Firefighter. We all got tired of it. Conversations I’ve had since included talk about how boring it was, how tiring it was to do it for hours, night after night – to always know it was there, waiting. But those conversations also include the awesome, inimitable feeling of FINALLY DOWNING HIM. When we killed Firefighter we screaaaamed. The sound in Vent was overwhelming and awesome. It’s that feeling that makes your hair stand on end. It’s the reason why Firefighter was the single most satisfying encounter of Wrath for me. If you ask me what my most memorable kill was, it’s going to be that one every time, without hesitation. We worked so hard for it, and we earned it.

In the end, it took us one hundred and twenty-one wipes before we beat Firefighter. That’s only times I was there for, since Voss and I joined. In the course of beating it, we lost five raiders (actually seven, if you count spouses/friends who left with various people). With a roster of fifteen, that’s more than a third of our total fighting strength. That’s huge. Its significance was more than just being short-staffed, though. It marked a turning point, if you will. A schism. Those who stayed were¬† people who were willing to really throw themselves against a brick wall until it was the wall that gave, and not them. Those who left were people who, for whatever reason, didn’t think we were the team to do it with, or didn’t want to do it at all.

From then on, when we were recruiting people we emphasized attitude and willingness to wipe on hard content to learn it – for weeks, yes, months at a time. In a way, it doesn’t matter what encounter specifically you are facing down. Let’s face it, they are all somewhat interchangeable pixels. You dance out of this fire, and you target that thing – those are the mechanics that stand in the way of success. But what really can prove to be the greatest obstacle is the attitude of the group. We’ve been fortunate to assemble a really awesome group of people – dedicated people who have stuck with us through fire and youurrr pathetic magic will betraaayyyy youuu. The summer boss hit us pretty hard so we were set-back, but we’ve been resuming H LK with a vengeance and seeing some tremendous success since the patch changes. More than ever I know this fight is within our grasp. Our best attempt was 38%, which means we’ve SEEN Phase 3, previously we hadn’t. I know that we can do this because I believe in our people. They are the team that came through the fire and were strengthened by it, not broken. We don’t stand in the fire, though. Never that.

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