Friday, May 28, 2010

Almost There Is An Inch Too Far

Someone needed to leave early last night so we got about an hour and a half of work in on Arthas, and it was pretty productive.

Phase 1 is a piece of cake, the transitions are almost effortless at this point, and Phase 2 is getting a hell of a lot cleaner. Even on messy Phase 2 attempts we can pretty reliable dodge Defiles and kill the Val'kyr before they drop someone off the edge.

We finally broke through to 40% last night, got through the transition okay, with one raging spirit still up but we totally fucked up the positioning into Phase 3 and wiped after the first Vile Spirits and that was on our last attempt.

So, after the person left, we pretty much 9-man'd 7 bosses in about an hour and called it a night. Next week we'll go back in on Lich King again on Tuesday. My team is giving me a lot of latitude here, and they are hungry for a kill, so I'm glad to have them with me. No one is complaining, no one is bitching, we're all here to be supportive and do our best.

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Warning: Sloppy emo whining ahead...

I don't know what else to say about this fight. I've wanted to kill this son of a bitch for ages. When the raid opened in December, I was RL for a guild that was trying to do so much that it didn't get ANYTHING done and I was raiding 4, 5 nights a week and was on the path to burnout and insanity trying to fit 18 people into one 10-man or run 2 10-mans with alts.

When Frost Wing opened, I went Horde side to join a guild, that was very professional, but it lack any sense of fun or camaraderie and I felt like I was just a number which is no fun for me. I lost all responsibility, but I also lost everything else that was fun about raiding.

When I came back, it was mid-March and joined up with some friends from the old guild, and we didn't get a stable raiding core together until about a month ago. And even now we regularly have people dropping out due to emergencies and issues, which is understandable, but when my two most geared healers are offline, and I'm relying on an under-geared druid playing his off-spec to pre-HoT Infests - and he is a damned good healer! - it's frustrating.

I feel like this is the third time I'm starting from scratch on my journey to killing Arthas. And now that the end of the road is in sight, I feel like I keep snatching for the ribbon that marks the end and just keep missing it with the tip of my fingers.

I'm ready. I'm eager. I just want to kill him and I think I want him dead so much, it's making me desperately hungry. I know I shouldn't be this attached to a kill for a game, but I want this very much. I want this, for myself, but more than anything, for my team, for my friends who've stood by me while I went on my Horde Adventure... I owe this to you guys.

We're almost there. The lights in the house on the mountain are on, warm and inviting, we just need to get through the last bit of snow in our way, just get over that last hill and we'll be Kingslayers, drinking mead and sitting with our feet up in that house on the mountain top and I'll buy all the rounds all night long.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Lich King Makes Me Aware Of Something

Lich King is getting there. My team has put in some good time on him by now and I can smell blood in the water. People are eager and discussing the fight in GChat without any prompting from me and that's always a good sign.

Incidentally, I've been thinking about my gear since facing up to the King, and I think I need to reevaluate a lot of my normal tanking set and tweak it for Lich King (and eventually, hard modes) which requires a lot more survivability than I was anticipating. Part of this was also inspired by Rhidach's post on Righteous Defense, about the stats revealing from the latest Armory Data Mining efforts.

I'm going to scale back on my threat a bit and start going for a bit more armor, a bit more Stamina, and a tiny bit less mitigation.

What does that mean?

It means getting rid of all of my DefenseRating+Stam gems and replacing them with pure Stam unless I have a huge Stam socket bonus.

It means getting rid of all my Strength+Stam gems and replacing them with Agility+Stam gems for the bonus armor.

It means replacing my Armsman enchant with Stamina.

It means replacing my +10 stats with stamina.

I might also finally cave and get the Pillars of Might crafted. And I might also buy the off-set hands, even though that's going to kill my Hit Rating.

But if I do that, my threat will go in the toilet and I don't always have a rogue or a hunter to Tricks/MD me, so unless in 25s, where I can always depend on those, I think I have to stick with SOME level of threat.

I guess I've been so heavily invested in my Retribution set lately that I've sort of neglected my Protection set for a while. I've even taking to having the other Paladin Tank and a Death Knight who's also spec'd for tanking but usually goes DPS tank so I can go Ret on farm kills (which is, essentially, all content but the King). So, while doing 10k DPS as Ret is fun and all, I need to focus on my real passion and make sure my gear is as good as it can get for Lich King.

Nothing major, but these minor little things might let me stay alive an extra second through a cooldown less Soul Reaper if I absolutely need to tank him through it while the other tank is running away to drop a defile or something.

Anyway. It's interesting how harder encounter make you reevaluate your gear set that you've been comfortable in for ages. Lich King has been the most fun in raids I've had in a while. And I'm proud of my team for sticking with it without complaints or issues.

I hope to report back tomorrow with a kill shot. Wish us luck. :-)

Friday, May 14, 2010

The King, However, Is Still Alive

So, we faced up to Arthas last night.

We cleared up Phase 1 after 1 wipe and consistently got to phase 2 after that. The Transition is a bit messy, but I have some thoughts on how to clean that up. I don't want to go into too much detail about what we did since I'm just learning the fight now and once I have a strat down, I'll type it all out.

We only spent about an hour and change on him, so it wasn't nearly enough time, and I think I will extend the raid lockout into next week, though what I really want is to clear up the achievements (I think we only have 4 or 5 left to do).

But. Putting in time with the King is important and I want to maintain progression momentum. And I know we need more time on him. We just do. Once Phase 2 clears up, I'm confident we'll coast to a smooth kill in a couple of weeks, just like we did with Sindragosa.

We wiped on her for two weeks in a row before killing her this week very smoothly in three attempts, and I think the time you put in does good, you put in attempts, you learn the rhythm of the fight, you go to sleep and process it over, you think about it during the day or remember the sequence of events better or whatever, so the next time you come in you're much more ready for it.

But the issue is, when a boss is that difficult, how do you keep coming back week after week for more? How long do you beat your face on a boss before it gets tedious? How do you keep coming back and motivating and encouraging people to keep coming back?

Well, I'm trying very hard to do that.

I typically tend to be a chatterbox as my guild will tell you, but I think it helps to take a minute or two after every raid to talk over how it went (though I tend to take 5 - 10 minutes *cough*), congratulate everyone on progression, encourage them to show up, set expectations, and also, review the progression plan! I go over our plan on a regular basis, let everyone know what I want to do and discuss any questions.

I think it helps keep the guild engaged, and hopefully, they feel like a part of a team. That does a lot more for morale than all the cold-hearted efficiency you can muster, and people will show up time and time again to progress, and be loyal because you're showing your own loyalty to them.

I typed this as part of a comment in another thread on wow.com but I think it fits in here as well:
Encourage your raiders, talk to them, treat them like a team, motivate them, and engage them. Make coming to progression content a privilege and most of all, make them feel appreciated. I never get tired of saying, "Thank you for coming," and I mean it. I couldn't raid without every single person who logs in and stands next to me to raid - and I want my raiders to know that.
I'm really happy to be in the guild that I'm in, with all the people I'm in it with. They're good players, but more importantly, they're good friends.

Good luck to us all! I can't wait to down him and move on to hard modes.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Queen Is Dead

Tuesday night, it all came together.

The funny thing was, we had 2 PuGs last week that we replaced with guildies this week, and I said to myself, I said, "Joachim, we're going to spend some time catching these folks up to Phase 3, so be ready for a few wipes."

"But Joachim," I said to myself, I said, "I don't understand, we just spent a while learning the fight, I don't have the patience to sit through two hours of wipes again!"

But of course, you do what you have to do, so I girded my loins, took a breath, skipped Plague and Blood wing entirely, and dove right into the Frost wing. We approached Dreamwalker with our usual swagger and realized that we'd done her on 9-man before, so we could easily get Portal Jockey, and I volunteered to catch the 3rd portal (we typically have 3 healers, 2 taking every portal, our magnificent Guild Leader heals the raid on her Holy Priest, while we use one tank to tank everything, 1 DPS on the Suppressors and everyone else eats everything else).

Since we could obviously afford 1 extra DPS doing nothing I decided to take the portal. Of course, I never realized the portals move around so when the 2nd set of portals spawned on the other side of the room, I missed them while killing a Blazing Skeleton and there went the achievement. Oh, well. Next week.

After the Elevator Boss and Spider Room of WTF we came up to Sindi, and pulled. First two attempts were cluster fucks. People spreading tombs everywhere in the air phase, people not LoSing the Frost Bombs and I hit that vent button, like I meant it, and I said, "I don't know what the hell is going on. And I don't care. Now shape up, or ELSE!"

Else what? I dunno. But the threat worked. And the next attempt we get to phase 3 with no deaths or anything. So I go, FINALLY! And get ready to start calling out names for people to move and do what they need to do but.... after about two tomb runs I realize I don't need to because everyone, including the 2 folks who've never seen this phase, and doing everything right!

People move out, ranged switches over to explode one, then clip their debuff on the other, people give each other room, when we get a double tomb at one point, nobody panics and they clean up both of them. At about a minute to go, while I'm LoSing, we loose the tank but somehow I was still 2nd on the meter so she rushes up the stairs at me, I pull her into place away from the raid, raid gets to her side, I realize her health is down to 1% and two more seconds later, she's keeling over, and the raid is spamming achievements.

It was a good night. We went and cleared through a few more bosses before calling it a night. Tonight, we kill Putricide, and then the blood wing, before going in to work on the Lich King.

I am fucking excited. And really proud of my boys and girls. Way to go, my turtles. Way to go.

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Sindragosa Blues (again)

Sorry I've been away. Was on vacation and then work ate my life.

Anyway. Now that we have a (relatively) stable group, we've been working on Sindy for two weeks now, last night was our first serious series of attempts and we got her to ~10% on our best try.

Previously, Icy Grip was the bane of our raids, people would die and I'd gnash my teeth but after much thought, I changed our positioning to hold Sindy horizontal to the stairs and have people just DPS and heal from the stairs things worked out very well. It gave people a very specific point to run towards (up the stairs) and dropping blocks on the stairs makes Ice Bomb dodging trivial.

So, ever since the first attempt last night, I saw that Phase 1 and 2 are down rock solid, we barely ever lost a person to Icy Grip, and we got her into Phase 3 right after her 3rd air phase with 3 full time healers.

But people seem to panic on phase 3.

We manage to hold it together for about 2 or 3 blocks, I assigned 2 melee burn 'em down, people clipped their debuffs, tank swaps happened whenever the other tank's debuff dropped, and then either an Icy Grip or a misplaced block would disrupt the process and then we'd fall behind and never catch up to switching to the boss because blocks start coming too soon and then, we hit enrage with anywhere from 15% - 20% left to go.

Our best attempt got her to 14% or so, I think, which was still a solid million and a half hit points.

I think our current strat will work, we just need to spend a little bit more time on her and focus our energy.

On a side-note, I'm especially pleased with the guild's membership right now. Lots of friends, both old and new, and only one or two trouble spots that I think will settle down soon. It's good to be in such company in pre-Cata days.