Anyway - I managed to have some luck this week. For one, the egg I farmed up in the Isle of Giants dropped a mount - the Red Primal Raptor. I know it's very similar to the basic mounts but for a very recent ex-Alliance player, a Raptor mount is a freaking big deal. I also managed to get the 3 stones together for the special summoning quest (haven't done it yet, though) as well as a couple of Elite NPC items and a key to the Thunder King's Vault. So - not a bad haul for the first week.
Oh, the raid? Right, there was a raid too, wasn't there? We extended our raid week by one night to 12 hours. I know - hardcore! Right? Hardly... I wish we could've raided at least 20 hours this week, but c'est la vie.
Anyway, we used those hours quite productively, if not as productively as we'd hoped - 5 bosses down, and while they seemed fine for the most part, Magaera, the fifth boss, was very onerous to work through. Magaera seems a tad over-tuned and is perhaps meant as a gear-check gate-keeper boss, but it took a hard, punishing two nights of raid to get it down with nearly 30 attempts. All other bosses went down in 6 - 12 attempts at the most. We worked up to the sixth boss, but with minutes to go on raid time only had two pulls. Ji-Kun seems remarkably more manageable even with just some test attempts, so I'm confident next week will see us push further in, especially as we do have an extra night planned there as well.
One of our healers, Aliena, has been putting out some amazing guide videos, and they should be good for anyone who might need a bit of help with these bosses. It's so odd to see my name in Aliena's videos after studying her videos back in Wrath to learn how to kill the ICC bosses.
As for my impressions of the raid.... I don't know, I don't feel that gut-churning oomph yet. Nothing has grabbed me by the gut and wrenched my attention the way Icecrown or Karazhan did.
Not to say there isn't a lot of good here:
- It's a massive, absolutely gorgeous raid. The environments are regal, evocative and richly detailed, the pathways are a bit linear but disguised well so it doesn't feel like one long corridor, and after seeing only half of it, I feel it's on par with Black Temple, Ulduar or Icecrown Citadel in terms of the sheer space it occupies.
- Further, I love the way the raid has different environments, the first 3 bosses are in the external courtyards of the castle occupied by the Zandalari forces. Then, we move into the underbelly, crawling through sewers and caverns, battling against the forgotten and lost and ignored creatures who happen to have mutated by accident in the vicinity of the Thunder King's power. Next will be the flesh-shaped experiments in discarded experimental labs and then finally the inner chambers of the palace itself. This staggered layering of the environments is just amazing for the architecture nerd in me.
- The bosses are challenging and no walk-overs (except the first one, maybe). The troll bosses are linked thematically, I love seeing Gar'ajal back for the Council fight and the Horidon fight has some fun elements to it - I always love fights with streaming adds, it feels very much more like a fight than just fighting one big guy. Plus, Horidon is a huge dinosaur and a very intimidating presence. Tortos is just a speed kill, and while Magaera is over-tuned, it is actually a fight I can see myself enjoying once we get the gear to topple it more easily.
- I like having a reputation grind back in a raid - it feels connected to the external world and there are Valor rewards associated with it, and that always takes me back to Karazhan and the rings and Arcane Resist trinkets that came from the Kirin Ton rep.
- If I had one thing to complain about, it would be the sheer amount of trash. And the gimmicks build around some of these - the bridge in particular is egregious in its implementation of trash mechanics, not to mention the trash leading up to Ji-Kun - holy shit that trash is annoying to deal with.
Right now, I would say this looks like a very successful raid, it looks to be shaping up to be one hell of a tier, and I look forward to spending a few months in here, pulling apart Lei-Shen's secrets.