Frustrations and rewards, not always where I expected them

My last post was a rant, I apologize for that. I didn’t answer the comments. It was a time when I got some extra amount of work in professional, personal and gaming life. I’ve had no time to answer, no time to read other blogs, barely time to read the patch notes of the last patch. Then, when thing slow down a bit,  I just could not see the point of answering so late…

The guild is slowly progressing. Four hardmodes done, the easiest. We have a few applicants too, one priest and some ranged dpsers. We grabbed a good ranking despite raiding 10-man. Guilds come and go on the server.

Now is a good time to review the old « what I want for Cataclysm » post.

Expected : a really good raid

I wanted to raid less but with more quality. I think we achieved this. The raid is overall good. Progression is there. People are committed, skilled, competition is there. The team is not exactly what we thought it would be. Some people stopped, some changed their mind and went to another guild with other friends, some people were not committed enough to deserve a spot in the raiding team and were put aside, however disappointing it was.

But the core of the raiders is there. Some people surprised me actually, one especially. When he joined us this summer after nearly one year of break from WoW, he had no clue. I thought he might not understand our goal, our project for a guild. But it was the end of the expansion, nothing was to be done really, and motivation wasn’t there. That guildie just bloomed in Cataclysm. He’s active, skilled, friendly, and I can’t imagine the guild without him now.

This guild we are leading, is a guild of friends, but like we say in our charte, our respect and friendship is earned in raids. We are very unforgiving in raids. We are a hardcore guild, yet we play less than most of the guilds performing at the same level on the server. We are proud and arrogant, because what we ask from ourselves, we expect it from others too and are often disappointed. We hate to fail. We are all like-minded on this : fail is our greatest enemy and we fight it every raid with all our heart.

This makes our raids not the more relaxing parties, but highly efficient anyway. That’s exactly what I wanted a few months ago. That’s an achievement : we have the raid we wanted, we are performing at the level we expected, and all the raiders have the same vision of what progression raiding is. We turned out a nearly perfect application recently because of that : the vision.

Unexpected : 10-man raiding difficulty

OK, that, we didn’t see it coming. For us, 10-man was just a way to not have to carry 15 extra people. Blizzard said the rewards would be the same, the difficulty too. That was not exactly true.

First, gearing the raid. Actually, gear is maybe the same, but gearing a 10-man is longer because the RNG is not as forgiving as in 25-man. In 25-man, the piece you need have more chances to drop and you have more chance that the piece that actually drops will be needed. As an example : the Agility staff on Halfus. We are 2 raiders needing that piece. It’s the only Agility 2-hander on this tier. In two months of killing that boss every week, we saw it once. But we sharded the leather boots countless times. So you might get as much drops per person on a boss in 10 and 25-man, but you don’t actually gear at the same rate. They fixed the ‘you may not get T11-heroic token in 10-man’ in the last patch and that’s more fair. Those are the issues I failed to explain in my last post.

Secondly, the difficulty. Before launch, we hoped that 10-man raiding wouldn’t be like it was in WotLK : easier than 25-man. Actually, there was really a few fights known to be harder in 10-man than 25-man. Sarth3D was one of them, if not the only one. Most other fights were doable, and made easier by the gear you could get easily in 25-man. Most guilds used to go in 10-man first, with their 25-man gear, and then bring the knowledge to the 25-man raid. Only the 10-man strict guilds could say how difficult the content was with 10-man gear.

Except with Sarth3D. The mechanic of the fight made it just much more difficult in 10-man. You needed a death knight tank, you could not afford a third tank contrary to the 25-man, I’m not familiar enough with the fight actually to say more. But it is a good example of what 10-man guilds are facing in Cataclysm. For every hardmode fight.

Important : I’m only talking about hardmodes here, progression. Normal modes can be done with nearly any raid composition as long as the players are awake, there is no real difference between 10 and 25 raids. That’s why both 10 and 25-man guilds progressed at the same pace at the beginning, maybe a little quicker for 10-mans. That’s why Larisa said in my comments it was harder for 25-man guilds at that moment. Normal mode is like that : easiest in 10-man for logistical reasons : easier to set-up, to find raiders, to find puggers. Normal modes are forgiving and you can afford bad apples : we see it every week in our alt raid. Guilds running 25-man will have problems recruiting as long as they don’t do hardmodes.

But when you enter the hardmode race, things go the other way. This week, two 10-man guilds of the server, respectively 3rd and 5th on the server (we are 4th), both stuck at 4/13 HM, decided to run 25-mans together : 10-man encounters are badly tuned. You need raid compositions you cannot afford in a 10-man guild. Blizzard nerfed some encounters in the last weeks, and it was most welcome, as it made the encounter possible. It was not hard, it was impossible to do. Wonder why all the world first were done in 25-man ? Because most 10-man encounters are just not tuned for a 10-man raid. Nerf after nerf, we see they are now feasible, and that gives us hope. Those guild decided it was not worth the effort to do 10-mans. They chose the easy path.

Frustration : or, who thought it was fun to put RNG on that crucial mechanic ?

There is one fight that is as difficult in 10-man than 25-man : Atramedes. Because all you need is a tank, 3 healers, and 6 dpsers. You can have any class (even if having a paladin healer for the tank and a holy priest for the raid is great… Druids and shaman really are the poor ugly little ducks of this tier) as long as your raiders open their eyes. Maybe it’s even a bit harder in 25-man because you have less room. It’s a fun fight, wipes occurs on individual mistakes, someone dying on Atramedes generally have one person to blame : himself, or the one who should have clic that shield a second earlier.

Why is it easier : because no RNG is involved in crucial mechanics. The RNG is there of course, but with surrounding awareness, you can beat it. But there is always an explanation to a death, to a wipe : individual fail, bad positioning, lack of healing. Skilled players will find this encounter fun and easy. We killed him first server, I know why. Bring your A-team, whatever the class, don’t suck, win, don’t get the damn bow because it didn’t drop…

Chimaeron and Maloriak are totally different. There is RNG involved in those encounters that can make the encounter hell on the raiding earth.

On Chimaeron, Feud is a crucial ability. If you have enough time between 2 feuds, your tank has time to reset his stacks of debuff, if not, you’re unlucky and might survive. If it happens a second time in the fight, you wipe because your tank already used his big cooldowns. And you are anyway likely to wipe because you tanks won’t have their cooldowns for the final phase. In 25-man, just bring another tank and it’s fine. In 10-man, we can’t have that extra tank, we lose too much damages. We must use a plate dps to tank between Feuds, our enhancement shaman had to bring his DK alt so we were able to kill him. You also need paladins and priests for the cooldowns, and will need a shaman for the mana tide.

Noticed the lack of druid here, again ? Bring the player not the class ? Are you kidding me ? Our druid healer is awesome, it’s heart breaking to put him on the bench for progression because his class just can’t bring what is needed, even if the player behind it is among the 2 best healers of the guild.

Maloriak is a bit different, but also have it’s RNG silliness. Maybe there is a trick we missed, but we noticed that sometimes he releases aberrations before entering the black phase, sometimes not. We tried to slow dps in case it was related to his HP, but it seems it’s totally random. The thing is : if we can have 3 aberrations during the first black phase, the fight is doable : they are killed with the goo in the aoes, and we will only have 6 aberrations in green phase, our tank will survive and we won’t get diminishing results on the aoes. If not, the tank will take huge damages and will very often die during this phase because we can’t kill the aberrations quickly enough.

To be honest, we think Chimaeron is a waste of time. We are not even pulling him again in hardmode. Our raiding time is precious : we have few raid nights, we want to hold the top 5 of the server ‘against’ the other guilds raiding 5 to 6 times a week, we can’t afford losing time on this stupid boss. It’s not fun. Maloriak is actually fun and you can make him reset if he doesn’t cast the aberrations or have awesome healers and tank able to survive the extra adds, but Chimaeron, there is nothing we can do. Better be trying other fights.

It seems that the other fights, after the tuning they got in the last patches and hotfixes, are now feasible, really hard, but feasible. Chimaeron is just a stupid fight, too bad it’s the among the first ones we tried. We want to do hardmodes after all, not impossible modes.

Rewards : leading friends and holding our rank on the server

I wanted to end this post on a good note.

Our raids are hard. Progression nights are great and tiring, but we make progress. We also have to bring our applicants and the people who were not in the original killing composition for a fight. We use to bring always the same comp, if possible, on a progression fight, which means that some people don’t know the fight as well as others and need practice we not always have time for. That means we often have to chose between doing progression and farming gear on the hard bosses. We have had weeks when Nefarian didn’t die, it’s been two weeks, since our first and only hard Chimaeron kill, that we simply kill him on normal mode to gear people. There are weeks when we don’t put the foot in the Throne of the four Shards, as we call that raid, for lack of time.

Yet, we are 4th on the server, 2nd as a 10-man strict. We claimed the first Atramedes heroic kill. Spirit goes up and down, especially when some raiding night, we spend the evening wiping on stupid. There is no fun in wasting 2:30 hours on Nefarian or heroic Atramedes because of individual repeated fails by the same people. But overall, we have a solid team of raiders.

And that’s the reward for leading friends. Sometimes, it’s not easy to tell a friend he needs to bring up a better game. On another side, you don’t want to disappoint your friends and try your best. And it’s something quite unusual, at least on our server, to see a guild held by that strange bound, fragile bound of friendship. It’s hard to became a part of the team, but once you are one of us, you don’t want to go. For the first time in 2 years of hardcore raiding, I haven’t been looking for another hypothetical guild.

We have a friend guild on Horde side, ex-guildies run it, we share the same TS. They lost a bunch of people to another guild recently. That’s something that won’t happen in our guild at the moment. Our GM joked about that, telling the officer of the Horde guild ‘See, why didn’t you join us in the beginning ? Look our raiders, I yell at them every night, I could piss on them, they stay, I don’t understand why…‘ It’s not true of course, there isn’t real yelling at, it’s more like ‘man, I thought you were better than that‘ with a disappointed tone that makes you want to bury yourself 6 feet under. It makes applicants go very nervous and the old raiders feel the guilt of their failure harder than any shouting from a random stranger. Maybe it’s the accent… (*tease* I know he reads this blog…)

And I already said that for our Herald of the Titans kill, but with each first kill, during each progression night, there aren’t anyone I don’t want to see breathing the same virtual air. We managed to grab good rank and yet raid as a tight group of friend. There have been casualties, some people couldn’t follow the rhythm, the pressure we put on ourselves, and we also know we may not be able to climb more ranks because of our tight schedule, but we try our best.

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The 10-man raid and the brick wall

Now we killed Nefarian and Cho’gall, we can go into heroic raids. And we began with Chimaeron this week, we spent more than 5 of our 10 raiding hours wiping the floor of its lair, ruining our chances to clean the rest of the content as we had no time to kill Chogall, Nefarian and the whole Four Winds raid. Morale wasn’t very high in the guild since what happened two weeks ago, but this fight is even harder on our nerves. We just wiped, came back, pulled, lost the tank again, wiped, came back, … As a dpser, it was just boring : I have as much fun in front of the dummies of Darnassus… Except the last phase which is a bit more fun : I need to Feign Death ! Woah ! Amazing ! … Yeah…

(For your information, this will be a rant, maybe even a long one…)

This fight and our wipes leaded us to forums, to see how other 10-man guilds were struggling with hardmodes. We already knew than some leader of top world guids said it was clearly the hardest tier of content they had ever done, in term of progression : no downtime for gating, Christmas holidays in the way, leaded to lots of work to stay in the competition for world firsts. I feel far from world firsts, those are top guilds, with nearly professional raiders who choose to dedicate some months of their life for these achievement (If you want an idea of what a day in a Paragon’s raider life is during progression, read this). I’m not like them. I play a lot but I can’t quit my job or cut my working hours for two months for a raid. If I’d take 2 months holidays, I wouldn’t spend those in Wow but I’d take a plane to somewhere far away…

What we discovered hit me quite hard. We found several posts (you can read this one, or that one, and that article on Paragon’s blog I really liked), setting aside the usual whiners and trolls, where people were calmly explaining how the 10-man encounters were badly balanced, and some were not even feasible. I remember when Blizzard announced back this summer how we would have one lock-out for 10 and 25 raids, and would have to choose between the two raid sizes. I remember raiders rejoicing to be able to raid as 10-mans without being second-zone raiders like it felt in WotLK : same rewards, same difficulty in the encounters, so we were told.

We prepared for it. We built a close team, with friends, and intended to play better with less raiding nights than most guilds of the server, to rush through the content and have fun in hardmodes. It would be nice and fun, we would have only friends, chosen skilled players and would meet the same challenges as every other raiders in the game. Reality hit like a trunk when you live in care-bears country… Reality is that some healing classes are badly struggling with issues, that we need more kickers than we have, that consumables for raids are ridiculously time-consuming to farm, and, as we realised this week, 10-man hardmodes are horribly balanced and very demanding in term of raid composition.

I remember my guildies in the summer, hoping that 10-man content won’t be trivial. Man, be careful with what you wish…

My guild started seriously raiding on the 6th of January, we raid 12 hours a week when we have the raiders. Our roster is currently 14 people : 3 tanks, 4 healers, 3 melees, 4 casters as main specs. All our healers have either a dps spec or a tanking spec, our SPriest has a holy spec, tanks have dps or healing specs. Than means we can be quite flexible with specs, but sometimes, we just don’t have what is needed. You can’t get a tenth raider from nowhere when only 9 people signed up, and there are times when, even if you wish you could, you can’t put 12 raiders in a 10-man raid…

Like many of the 10-man heroic fights in this tier, Chimaeron is a great example of the exact opposite of  ‘bring the player not the class’ that Blizzard is trying to make us believe. Even in 25-man it’s not true, look at the ‘half-the-raid-is-druids’ Nefarian kill from Paragon, or their ‘no-shaman’ Sinestra kill. For Chimaeron, we need to rotate cooldowns on the tank and the raid, that means we must bring at least 3 of our four paladins, and our healing priest, we need a plate dpser to tank normal phase (needs to be able to taunt), we have only one, meaning we can’t do any progression on this boss when our retpal can’t attend to the raid.

Raiding 10-mans now feels extremely unfair. Lesser rewards for bosses, less loots per player, slower pace to gear your raid, but as much time spent in raid, as much consumables to farm, as much researches to do, and for the officer teams, as much hair-pulling to build raid comps, if not more.

I read on forum some people arguing that the better rewards you earn in 25-man raids is a compensation to the largest management you need to get a 25-man together. Having been in both 25 and 10 progression guilds in the past 2 years, I can tell you it’s far easier in 25-man. In 25-man guilds, with rosters of around 35 people, if you lose someone (RL, burnout, aliens), you can go on the time to find someone else. In our 10-man, when one person is in holidays, and another one is just missing his usual raid because he plays football on Tuesday nights, we sometimes can’t raid, because we are one healer short, or missing a tank.

The problem in 10-man team is not building the team but rather keeping it together as we hit a wall together… In a 25-man, there is a high turn-out in the raiding team. People can afford to miss a raid or two, they can be sure that at least someone will be able to fill their raid spot. In my 10-man team, if my boyfriend and I are not around, that means 2 of the ranged dpsers are missing, that the raid will need to bring offspecs, and everyone will have to compensate for our absence. It’s much heavier on the shoulders of raider, and leads to burnout more quickly.

Same during combat : when one player dies, 10% of the raid is down, 1/3 of the healers, or 1/2 of our kickers/dispellers or whatever buff they bring… In 25-man raids, if one player die, the remaining of the team can cope with it as the share is wider, you won’t lose a buff as there is a high chance there will be someone else bringing it. And they have 3 battle-rezzes anyway… If a hunter dies in 25-man, the rest of the raid just go on, they lose 4-5% of the dps of the raid, there is another hunter to bring this buff, or an enhancement shaman, or a frost DK… In my 10-man, if I die, we lose 17 to 18% of our dps, we lose my buff, but also the buff brought by my pet which is really important as I usually have the pet needed to bring a missing buff, we sometime lose the frost trap, or the misdirection, or a crowd control. And I’d rather not talking about losing a healer. Losing someone in 10-man hardmode means a wipe.

And what do you get for all these efforts, hair-pulling, tears and sweat ? Less valor points, less gear, shards,… Being an officer in a 10-man guild have never been more thankless : bosses are not dying, people are not gearing, they are burning out and unhappy more quickly. Officers want their raiders to be happy, because a happy raider make a good raider, which incidentally, helps to kill hard bosses, and makes them even more happy. Unhappy raiders don’t kill bosses. My guildies are unhappy…

Oh by the way… Nefarian is dead

By the way, we killed the damn lizard one week after we expected it.  We had a DK tank, a bear, paladin, shaman and druid as healers, and mage, warlock, shadow priest, enhancement shaman and hunter. I counted 10 to 11 hours of wiping on that fight, which is quite all right. We begin officially raiding on the 6th of January, and completed the normal tier the 25th, that’s 3 weeks of raiding 4 times a week with 15 raiders. That puts us 8th guild on the server, but the other guilds began to raid earlier and raid more days or with bigger rosters, so we think we can grab a few more ranks while progressing through hardmodes.

Nefarian is clearly the hardest boss of this normal tier. You need solid healers, and one thing is very important : don’t panic. There are some moments in the fight when something will get wrong, and like it was for Lich King typically : it could and will certainly wipe your raid if you panic. There are basically 4 times in the fight when things can go wild on the raid : add managing in phase one, jumping on the platforms, crackles during phase 2 if you choose to do some, and when flames block the way of the off-tank during phase 3 add kitting.

Lets review the fight. Here is a guide (for ten-man).

Once all the other bosses are dead in Black Wing Descent, you have access to Nefarian : the lava in the pit kind of disappear (I’ll leave you discover exactly what happens by yourself) and Onyxia is waiting for you there. Nefarian is not far away. I’m not going to call him ‘Nef’, this is my name for Elune sake ! We had some confusion in the guild during the fight : ‘bring Nef around there‘, me : ‘ugh what ? where do I go ?‘… Now we call him Robert. And she’s Roberta of course…

The fight is divided in 3 phases.

Phase 1 : First, you fight the brother and sister, Nefarian and Onyxia. Onyxia is waiting for you down there, while Nefarian is flying around. When you enter combat, he will summon adds around the room (5 in ten-man normal), once he’s done with the summoning, he’ll come an chew your face. One thing to remember, don’t keep the both of them near to each other, 60m at least, or they will eat your tanks. Killing Onyxia pushes to phase 2.

Phase 2 : Lava will flood the room, jump on the pillars, have one healer per pillar (this is important) and one kicker too (very important) for you will have to interrupt the minions on the pillars or they’ll kill your raid. Nefarian sends bolts on people randomly, generally several time in a go on the same person. This is the hardest part for your healers. Once the three minions are dead, or after 3 minutes, you enter phase 3.

Phase 3 : The lava is gone again. Nefarian will revive the first adds with fire, this fire spread toward the nearest person or add, like Mimiron’s. Kite it away from the raid. We tanked Nefarian on one side of the room and moved if flames came around. Some guilds tank him in the middle, do like you feel is better. The hardest part there is keeping your offtank alive, more on that latter.

During the whole fight : when Nefarian is 90%, 80%, 70%, etc, he does a crackle (Release the KRAKEN ! Sorry my guildies don’t speak English well and say ‘kraken’ instead of ‘crackle’, me and our tank, who is half-French, half-American, found this hilarious and imagined it was a giant squid hitting our raid…). It does around 100k nature damage on everyone. It can be mitigated via resist totem or aspect, and individual protections. The raid needs to be top-ed off before those, you can control it via your dps. Have someone call it in advance. Here is an emote from the boss seconds before it actually hits. Crackles in phase 2 is very hard on healers, ask them if it’s possible. We had 2 crackles in phase 1, 1 in phase 2, and the rest in phase 3. Don’t move the raid too much after a crackle so they can stay in green/blue/white puddles.

Phase one : Onyxia and Nefarian

When you jump from the passageway, your tank take Onyxia and place her along one side of the room, near one of the pillars, the one he’ll be on during next phase preferably. The raid stay gathered in the middle of the room so the adds won’t be running wild around the room chasing your healers

It’s a dragon : it cleaves, breathes, and gives tail lash. Except sometimes, as she’s some Frankenstein freak, she will electrocute the raid at 40m around her sides. When her sides begin to sparkle, the tank needs to turn her back to the raid. That means the raid will get hit by tail lashes, but it’s better than being electrocuted : healers can’t hold the raid when a tail lash is all right, keep in mind it can interrupt casts though.

Once you pulled Onyxia, Nefarian will summon 5 adds. Those adds have an energy bar : they lose energy constantly and die by themselves when the energy bar is empty, they can be revived by Nefarian breath. They are undead, can be shackled, frost-trapped, feared, rooted, stunned,… You can either have a frost mage or DK or whatever you want kite them, or you can control them. We choose to control : I would trap the first and fifth, the warlock feared one, the priest shackled one, and the druid rooted one. We packed them on one spot and let them die there. Don’t use a tank for that job : your 2nd tank needs to tank Nefarian.

When all the adds are released, Nefarian lands in the middle of the room, the second tank take him and bring him to the other side of the room away from Onyxia. Have your tanks use cooldowns while they are still close to each other, they hit hard. It’s a dragon : it cleaves, breathes, and gives tail lash.

Once all the adds are controlled, we hit Onyxia, and put her around 25%. Onyxia has an ‘electric bar’ that fills up, and fills up quicker if less people are attacking her (she feels neglected, poor girl…). If this bar comes to full, it wipes your raid. You have to kill her before that. When she’s around 25%, we hit Nefarian, bring 2 crackles, and finish Onyxia off quickly. Having our shadow priest rolling dots on both dragons helped control Onyxia’s bar (we think). When attacking Nefarian, the raid stayed away from Onyxia’s tail lash (except the healer tanking care of her tank of course).

Phase two : the pillars of doom

Once the sister is dead, Nefarian takes off and flood the room with lava. Lava hurts and leaves a dot stacking on players, don’t stay in too long or your healer won’t keep up. 5-6 stack is good (on normal), more means you ask your healer to make up for your failure. Split your raid in 3 groups and jump on the platforms. On the platform, there is a minion, it’s not supposed to hit on anyone, but it incants some spell : kick it !!! It’s about every 12-13 seconds, it’s 1.5 sec incant. Kick the thing. It hurts the whole raid and the kind and fragile hearts of your healers and raid leader.

During the whole phase, Nefarian throws shadow bolts, it’s tough to heal, especially if players still have the lava dot. Protect yourself. When the raid is stable, you can do one or two crackles. If the healers struggle too much, do them latter and hope your offtank will be good. We could sometimes make 2 crackles, we did only one on the kill, our healers were becoming short on mana. If you want to do crackles, keep one minion alive until you want to change phase, if not, shorten the phase the most you can. It’s the hardest part.

To know about the platforms :

– Jumping on those damn platforms is awful, you will wipe a lot on those. Don’t stand too close during the transition or you could stay stuck under the ledge, wait until the lava is middle way to the top, and swim and jump out onto the platform in one move. Practice it. Be careful if you’ve some movement speed increase (like shamans or unholy DK) : you might jump too far…

– They create a line of sight. You can’t heal someone on the other side. But you should be able to kick the minion even if still in the lava, even as a melee. But it’s hard. Yeah I know. Have some chocolate, don’t pull your few remaining hair…

– Minions are level 85 : you need 5% hit on those, that means even your tanks can get this level of hit and kick.

– Hunters can dps the minions. If you’re a hunter remember that you are, with those minions AND Nefarian, both at range and melee. That means you can use melee abilities as well as ranged. I glyphed my Raptor strike for this fight : 20% less damage taken is a lot. Use it. No seriously do it. You can’t bypass some reducing damage ability during this fight so heavy on the healers. I know it’s a melee ability, I was quite sceptical too, but you will see the difference after the first crackle you will be able to mitigate. Remember a dead hunter is more useless than a hunter who lost his/her pride by attacking melee…

– Still for hunters : use your Deterrence during the flooding : you won’t avoid lava damage, but it deflects Nefarian’s bolts. It might save your life. If you bring crackles during phase 2, use it if it’s up too : it doesn’t prevent damages from crackle but the bolts could kill you if your healer is in trouble. For the other classes, if you have some damage reducing tool, use them during phase 2 too. Health stones, bandages, use them. Help your healer, he’s sweating his mana by all his pores.

– Last thing for hunters : your pet is stupid and stays in the lava. Place him manually or he’ll die.

– The floor is moving down in the lava during phase 2. That means that if you battle rez someone on the platform and he waits until the lava is gone, he will respawn under the platform, in the lava. Be careful with that.

Phase three : or kill him quickly please

Get down from the platform as soon as you can. Not sure but I think there is a nasty thing happening to those who stay up there. Your tank pick up Nefarian and position him presenting his flank to the raid. The raid packs on the flank, and the group moves if flames come around. Try not to move after a crackle to be able to stay in green puddles longer. Hit heroism during this phase, we do it around 20% but if your healers need to top off people earlier, hit it earlier. Better to hit it when everyone is alive and got mana and there is no flames around yet…

The offtank, and his healer, stay away and pick up the adds from the first phase. Nefarian revive them with flames. He cast those regularly, aiming for the adds. Those flames revive the dead adds and bring their energy bar to full if they are still alive. This should not happen : you have to kite them around and not let them into the flames : they stack a buff over time, and hit harder and harder until they die. You have to kite them around until they die, and when the boss revive them with a flame, the buff is reset and they won’t kill your offtank.

In our first attempts, the offtank couldn’t seem to be able to reset their buff and died, or asked people to help control them, but it wasn’t working. Don’t try to control them except if it’s for the 5 last seconds of the fight and you’re desperate. Don’t slow them either, or they could get caught up by the flames.

I hope you loved the guide. Enjoy, it’s a fun fight.

Publié dans In English, Raids. 1 Comment »

On the road again

Thanks for all your kind words and advices, people who commented the previous post. I though about answering in the comments but it began to be quite long so I did another post…

I discussed everything with the other officers. I calmed down and feel much better now. I’m still feeling a bit down but with the winter around, the tiredness, the stress at work and what happened last week, I’ll need some time to recover.

As of changing main character, I’ll wait next tier : the guild will have time to adapt, maybe we will have a healer slot then, or another hunter, there will be some gear reset too. Maybe resto shamans will be buffed and hunters will get nerfed (they will…). My guild and myself invested too much in my hunter at the moment for it to be benched.

As of leading raids, we agreed I’m having a break for now. I will also reduce raid time, as I was raiding 4/4 a week, reduce it to 3/4 would be nice. After one year raiding 5/5, I find myself being tired after just one month. I was not leading raids then though.

Reducing raid time will also give me some time to pug with the shaman and see what I’m worth as a shaman healer, or maybe begin the alt raids as many people in the guild begin to have at least one extra 85 ready to raid. My shaman hit the 346 ilvl mean, and don’t have anything left to get from heroics or Justice Points now. She’s fully rare-ly gemmed and enchanted. And I’m a bit tired of heroics even if sometimes, pugs make them quite challenging…

The only things that bothers me about raiding with the shaman, are the raid consumables. They are bleeping expensive ! I already need to keep my hunter fully buffed and that costs a fortune, or a lot of time, or both, depending if I have the time to fish or the courage to farm herbs (I really hate farming herbs, to me it’s the worthless thing to spend time on). I usually prefer to farm gold on the AH but my skills are not very high in this domain and it’s not very efficient. Prices of what I used to sell are dropping these days and it’s not making money any more. Casters consumables are the most expensive ones at the moment, especially the fish which is stupidly boring and annoying to fish.

By chance, gems and enchants are quite cheap (not counting the ones needing epic crystals), rare gems are around 25 golds on my server now (it was 250 back when I fully gemmed my hunter… Ouch…), my shaman is a jewelcrafter with all the recipes I need for my hunter and shaman and she gets her Chimaera eyes from the daily quests. Healers metagems are cheaper if already cutted (maybe because people level their jewelcrafting this way…).

I would really like to raid with the shaman. But at the moment, finding a good pug is quite hard. Firstly, not that many guilds susceptible to take pick-up players can actually down the content, secondly, the best time to pug on my server are Friday and Saturday nights and it’s not always possible for me to make it : I leave work very late on Friday nights, and Saturday, well, I sometimes prefer doing other things than wow… And the last point is that I noticed groups were rarely looking for shaman healers, plus they ask for insane numbers of ilvl, which I do not have on my shaman, I even don’t have it on my hunter sometimes. Hopefully, now I really can’t do better with my gear except grind reps and Valor Points so…

Publié dans In English, Raids. 1 Comment »

A little drawing and raid leader spleen

I was having fun with Inkscape and wanted to draw something, I mean, really draw, not just those shematic toons I did on my Maloriak guide.

I wanted a new avatar for the guild forum and I took a screenshot of my hunter for the general features and proportions, and tried to line it and colored it. I had never some any shading/highlightning before and it was fun, I will need more training, but I quite like the result.

Do you like it ?

I find her quite sad and fragile on this, maybe because that’s what I’m feeling now. For me, Nefernet, the character, have always been very strict, hard working, her every moves were sober and had a purpose. She follows her own code of conduct, and try to do her best at all time. She rarely take some holidays and give all her time to the cause she chose, the guild.

It’s quite close to what I do actually, as a person, in the game. I spend hours to help the guild, take care of the forum, help to build our strats, lead raids and try to be as good as I can with my hunter in raids.

Last Tuesday, I leaded the raid in Nefarian fight, and we wiped and wiped and wiped. We should have killed him but I didn’t take the right decisions at the moment. I saw what I should have done after the raid. One of the healers, our holy priest, was assigned to the tank, and couldn’t manage his mana on this assignment. He was failing to control his add, keep his tank up and had no mana left for phase 2 on the platforms. It wasn’t his only fault about the platform, he had a hunter and a warrior to heal, when all the other platforms had classes which could heal themselves. That was mistake number two.

When the GM analysed the raid logs the next day (he wasn’t here for the raid), he was pissed. Long story short, the holy priest left the guild. And me, I’m broken. I don’t want to lead any more. It’s just too hard to lead friends. And I was so alone Tuesday night. Of course people were not happy to be wiping, but none of them proposed anything to change our strategy and try to find a better way to do the fight. It was just me and my fellow officer (a tank), and no one else had idea they wanted to share. And yesterday, when we took some time to review the past week and the raid’s performance, it was all my fault, but no one came and told me « you failed », it was just « the leader should have done this » : now, they had ideas.

I like my guildies, they are friends, but this week, it was not fun to play with them.

And I’m now sure I won’t have a chance to play my shaman in our main raid. Our healing team was revamped from scratch and the idea didn’t occur them that I had a baby shaman I’d love to bring to raids. I took it badly. I was already feeling bad about last night, and they were discussing the healing team, and one of our shaman at social rank wanted to join the raid. They asked what spec he would like to have as main spec, he said healing. That closed the discussion, we would have 2 paladins, a priest (the GM is levelling his priest in emergency), a drood and a shaman. And I would play the hunter. It makes me sad.

Sorry this post is not very entertaining, I feel pretty bad at the moment and can’t seem to be able to calm down. That little phrase about the healing team made me realise how much I wanted to heal and was still hoping I could find a slot in the healing roster. I’m not going to. It’s not that I don’t like playing the hunter, it’s just that I don’t feel any excitement when I’m toping the meters any more. It’s pretty easy at the moment seeing the state the hunter, but once the nerf will hit, where will I find any motivation to pull the best from my class. I already don’t care if the rogue is higher now. When did the class stopped to thrill me at every fight, I don’t remember, maybe since 4.0 and focus.

Today, I’m sad, I’m bitter, I’m depressed. I’m so sorry, sorry for everything that happened…

Maloriak guide

I’m learning to use the drawing software Inkscape these days. It’s a free tool to create vectorial designs and pictures.

I did a few drawings for my guild, to describe Maloriak fight and wanted to share because the drawings are funny enough. I’ll add a quick guide so this post won’t be totally useless like the rest of the blog.

Right !

Maloriak is in Blackwing Descent. When you enter the instance, you have Magmaw on your left, Omnitron on your right : kill them (I might draw some guides for them, at least Omnitron). Good ! Now you can take the elevator, be careful not to fall, because it’s a long way down. Don’t be stupid by casting any slow fall spell too early : you might fall into the lava and you can’t get out. You are now in a huge hall : in front of you is a crater with lava, this is where you will fight Nefarian once you killed everything else. Around, there is a walkway with trash, including three drakes. Each of them is named and have special abilities. Each drake guards a gate to a boss.There is three bosses : Maloriak, Atramedes and Chimaeron.

Maloriak is the first boss on the right. The dragon guarding it does a debuff on the tank, you have to switch. And you need to dispell its enrage (hunter’s Tranquilizing shot, or other spell dispelling enrage I don’t know of), if you don’t, or can’t, he will gain stacks and will hit hard on your tank if you don’t kill him fast enough. Be careful to not aggro the patrol : it’s not pretty. There is no other trash.

Maloriak is a phases boss. He will drink things from his cauldron and you will know which phase it is with the color of that thing.

The succession of flasks will be :

Red (or Blue) -> Blue (or Red) -> Green (If the first is blue, the second will be red, is the first is red, the second will be blue.)
Red (or Blue) -> Blue (or Red) -> Green
– 25% -> He drinks the three of them and became angry : hurry up to kill him.

There shouldn’t be another blue or red phase : if you get one, your dps is not good enough and you will reach the enrage timer which is quite close. And don’t kill him too quickly either : you need the green phase to kill the adds.

Wait ? What ? Adds ? Yes, during the coloured phases, he will summon adds that your offtank needs to aggro and kite in the back of the room. This summoning can be interrupted to monitor the number of adds your offtank got. Each summoning spell calls 3 adds. At each green phase, there should be 9 of them. This is important : there is a total of 18 adds. More than 9 is too much for the tank because he must gather them, but also because they buff each other. You need to help your tank kite the adds with frost traps or things like that. (Sorry it’s very hunter centric…)

There is also two other things to be aware of during the fight :

– He cast a spell on himself healing him : steal it or dispell it !
– He cast an aoe spell, arcanic storm : kick it !

So, into the colored phases !

The red phase :

Pack on your tank. It makes a cone aoe in front of him, dividing the damages between people. Trendy mechanics I find, in the expansion, you find it quite often, the « divided between number of people » one.

One person will get a debuff dealing fire damage. It hurts a lot and needs to be healed seriously, and you take more fire damages so get out of the raid and don’t take your share of the breath.

Red phase

Red phase : gather up together

Your offtank does his thing with his adds, put a frost trap if you’re a hunter. Mages can help to.

Remember to clic on the lolwell which isn’t lol anymore during the aoe.

The blue phase :

Everyone spread out. Someone will get a debuff dealing damage around him, if he’s a melee, he needs to get out of the way of the other melees.

The boss will target someone and freeze him, and if you’re around, you will get frozen too. Like Sindragosa. One of your casters need to free that person by killing the iceblock. When you kill it, it explode, dealing damages around, and make any other iceblock around explode too. Don’t get frozen with someone else : you will get double damages and will kill yourself and your team-mate too.

 

Blue phase

Blue phase : spread out !

A hunter is very good at taking care of ice blocks. I use a cheap arcane shot so I don’t need to wait for focus or cast a steady shot, as I nearly always have enough focus for an arcane shot. Have another caster ready to free the hunter if needed.

Your offtank is still kitting, let him some room. You have the right to shout at him if he comes around casters during this phase and threaten to make a chain ice.

The green phase :

Aoe time !!! The adds are not protected anymore and take double damages, so does the boss. Gather all the mobs on the freezing trap and aoe your heart out. Quickly. Profit of that time when the boss take extra damages. There must not be any remaining adds at the end of that phase.  Remember to interrupt the summoning of new adds during this phase, your offtank might not like to have to aggro new adds while your raid is aoe-ing like mad.

Green phase

Green phase : aoe !!!

We like to cast Heroism on the second green phase, to quicken the process of killing the adds and do extra damages on the boss, and to have it during the end phase.

The final phase :

From there, your raid will stack a debuff (Poison, Nature), it will need to be healed through. There will be ice stars going after someone, they are very slow and you just need to get out of the spot where they spawn (look at your feet) and out of their way. It’s easy really, no one should get hit. And the boss make a huge fire attack in front of him, so the tank must have him facing away from the raid. The fire stay on the ground so the tank have to move out and rotate a little bit. Get out of his way.

End phase

End phase

There is an enrage timer (6 minutes from the pull I think). The poison stacking works like an enrage too. Finish him off quickly.

Have fun !

I hope you enjoyed this guide. It was really to have some fun with Inkscape, which worked so I may draw more guides… Omnitron will be next, as it seems my guildies can’t memorize the various abilities of the trons…

———–

As an update, we killed Al’akir, and I definitely hate this fight… Especially the first phase, the rest is ok… Atramedes too…

I tanked !!!

Yay !

Did I tell you I had a new tank ? My DK turned 80 about two weeks ago, and I spent that time gearing her. I got rid of nearly all my blues except the neck, and seeing I had some good HP pool, I asked guildies if they were interested in an ICC run with alts. Main characters were linked with our Friday’s clean, but nearly everyone in the guild has one or more geared 80 alt. The idea was to take their worse reroll, and have some fun in a role we were not used to.

So, we had, as a raid, two baby tanks : me on my DK, and one of the mages on his druid. None of us had ever tanked in a raid before. We had our main warrior tank healing with his paladin, the second mage (my SO) was healing with his druid, the last healer was the only main of the raid, he wasn’t online Friday… The rest of the raid was either some rerolls or pickups, we took the firsts who accepted to come to a normal ICC run.

I was very intimidated. It was so strange to be in front of the raid. I usually stand in the back, being either a ranged dps (especially as a hunter, melee really is not my place) or as a healer. I was also afraid to screw up, ICC is not Violet Hold…

Of course, we wiped on the trash, you know, in the first room of doom, when the giant(s) wake up and you pulled too much mobs already… The pick ups weren’t too pleased to hear the tanks were inexperienced and the paladin healer kept saying « Damn ! I really suck at healing ! ». We didn’t wipe during the first wing, but during Plague wing trash, the warlock disconnected and never came back, he must have misunderstood the RL advertisement on /2 : he said the raiders were at 12/12 H xp, but the raid was a reroll raid and here for a normal clean. The warlock wanted to do more hardmodes, which, with our raid, would be very stupid.

During the Sindragosa trash, a guildie we had grabbed to replace the warlock asked :
Guildie : Sindra HM ?
Me : Hahahahehe… mmmmmh… No.
RL : I think I can feel some anxiety in your voice Nef…

I was a little bit nervous yes… I spent the whole evening with my eyes on Omen or on my lifebar. Or both. The other tank wasn’t as experienced as I was with the raid and he wasn’t very up-to-date with strategies, which was unacceptable and he got properly told off, but he was very enthusiastic to tank anyway and eager, and HE TOOK ALL MY MOBS !!! I spent the trashs trying to peel mobs off him to prevent him to die like an idiot, mobs that he would taunt again at once, making me groaning on TS « Stop stealing my mobs… » which made the whole raid chuckle… I was actually a bit disappointed and annoyed to see him charge a new pack, not waiting for healers, and I was left to take what was left, cracking all my cds because healers were trying to hold him.

The good part was that I had some fun part to do : he wasn’t confident, and didn’t know the fights well enough, so he asked me to do things like kitting oozes on Rotface or eating goo as an abomination on Putricide. It was great fun. I honestly can’t understand what is difficult in kitting Rotface oozes. Really. The thing is slow, as a tank, especially a DK, I have great means to keep it off healers and protect myself from harm, and never get caught up. I like to kite. Maybe as a hunter I’m more used to kite than any other class. Jumpshot FTW, thank you BRK !

I had great fun, it was nearly like discovering the raid again. Having both our main tank and our GM who plays a DK tank in the raid was great, because they helped a lot with tips and tricks.

This especially got very useful with Sindragosa. I was the main tank this time, and it was awesome. We wiped a lot. I needed quite a number of tries to get used to timing my anti-magic bubble correctly while building good aggro and positioning her correctly. That was actually the hardest thing I had to do that evening. I wasn’t the only reason why we wiped a lot : stupid dps taking to much debuff and blowing up all by themselves, including the other tank in kitty form… The guy took the boss several time in final phase with far to many debuff to be kept alive… The paladin kept saying « I suck at healing » because we wiped quite a bit for lack of healing. But we managed to kill her, with 9 people (the extra guildie had to leave early). I was so happy. It was really fun. Next step is Lich King mouahahaha…

Of course, nearly nothing dropped for tanking, but it was great fun anyway.