I was glad the patch dropped when it did - I think I was really bored with Firelands despite the fact that we were on Heroics. With how late we started work on that instance and how the tuning was all over the place with it, I always felt disconnected from the place. There was a lot of confusion about the raid where Blizzard seemed to mid-step change directions and nerf stuff across the board.
One of the things I'm loving lately is how stable the patch days have been. No instance server issues, no authentication server issues, really, no issues at all and you can log in and play. Even most of my add-ons were behaving fine except for a couple of LUA errors from DBM whenever I zoned into an instance. After the nightmarish patches of yesteryear, this is a sweet, sweet dream.
Remember 3.3 when you couldn't log in for two days? Or 3.4 when half the authentication servers were down? Hell, even 4.1 when Omnitron was broken and you couldn't get past him, if you could even get into the crashing instance server gateways? We used to move raid night to non-patch days because we knew we couldn't raid on Tuesday and juts hoped everything was stable by Wednesday night. Kids these days.
I logged in about 10 minutes before raid in typical fashion, ran around with my head cut-off for five minutes and only managed to 'mog my hideous shield and sword away for something better before clicking Accept on the Have Group Will Travel summons into Dragon Soul for the first time.
Where we proceeded to demolish the place. There is a serious tuning issue for 4.3 at least on 10-man normal modes. For better or worse, this is the easiest tier since the first wing of ICC. Even Saurfang and Deathwhisper had slightly more compelling mechanics on 10-man.
With no one having seen the bosses, no one having run the LFR, just based on the dungeon-journal, we one-shot Morchok and two-shot Yor'sahj, and I was DC'd for about a minute on that fight so my co-tank had huge stacks of Void Bolts but apparently our healers had no problem with it.
Zon'ozz took a little longer, but he died as well once we figured out a very easy way to handle the bouncing mechanic by lining up and turning it into a fool-proof ping-pong game while I jumped back and forth pointing him this way and that. He was the first boss that felt like a real raid boss with scary damage and positioning and an enrage timer that was somewhat of an issue (30 seconds left on enrage when he died, so not really but still).
We made one pull of Hagara before raid time to give our Rogue a chance to pickpocket her and got to work on her ice phase a bit, so we'll go back in and kill her tonight, hopefully and then the one fight that actually seems scary outside of Deathwing - Ultraxion. I'd love to get through both of those tonight as loot-ship looks as easy as the ICC loot-ship and that just leaves Deathwing to kill (twice.)
It could be that the first four are easy and the next four are really hard, or scale up slightly in difficulty as you went further in. Morchok was lolwut, Yor'sahj was an AoE heal, minor DPS check and a are-you-really-here check in terms of picking which add to kill each time, and Zon'ozz was a mild DPS check (he has a tight enrage timer at 5.5 minute/68 million health) and awareness check with more AoE healing. Did I mention there's a lot of raid damage? There's a lot of raid damage. And a bit of bursty tank damage too.
The one nice thing about these fights is that while the tanking isn't particularly difficult so far (I did enjoy solo-tanking Zon'ozz and looks like solo-tanking Hagara will actually require a bit of focus as well), there is a lot of ancillary stuff tanks can do to make the raid run easier. Tanking crystals with two DPS when you're not on Morchok for instance, or helping put out damage on the oozes, raid-walling with efficiency to chain cool-downs with the healers.... there is more stuff to do than just standing there and being a meat-shield.
I was lucky enough to pick up the off-set shoulders and tier legs last night, which was awesome. The weird thing is, despite loosing Mastery on both those items, without even reforging, and going for the set bonus, I was still at block-cap with Mastery food (though I am using two Mastery trinkets.)
I know in a month I'll be moaning about how boring normal modes are, but right now, man it was satisfying to smash through the instance and kill bosses so quickly and efficiently. Maybe we'll even be in Heroics this time next month. This was something I had known for some time - once we have a regular team of geared people who've been working together and gelled, we have zero problems in terms of progression. We can get this done. And we did.
A rather amusing side-affect of raiding so early in the week after patch is the following image:
It is, of course, an anomaly and a lie, but it is kind of nice to be listed as server first and word top 200, even if only for a day or two. We have a US top-100 guild on our server that killed Heroic Ragnaros back in early October, I think, so we're nowhere near the top, and I'm sure we'll get down-ranked very rapidly as other guilds get ranked (as is appropriate) but still.
Sometimes it's nice to lie to oneself for a minute and take a screenshot! :-)
Tonight: more raiding, hopefully knocking out the two dungeons I haven't done yet, and then mogging up my set, moving stuff into void-bank... so much to do! And so much more to write about!