Posts tagged ‘Ulduar’
I hate hard-modes.
No, I love hard-modes!
Okay, let’s just say that I have a love/hate relationship with hard-modes.
I love hard-modes because I love to be challenged, and (with Yogg-Saron calamarified) hard-modes are the only challenges that remain for us in the current tier (unless you count the Summer Attendance boss, which I sort of do. If filling a 25-man raid in the middle of July awarded loot, I’d have … one sock. Maybe.)
But at the same time that I love attempting hard-modes, and eventually overcoming them, I hate hate HATE having to make a choice every time we come to a boss who has a hard-mode — which is most of them, even if you only count those that award ilevel 232 loot and ignore those that don’t drop epicer-than-epic epics but are part of the Heroic meta-achievement.
The question itself is simple (“Do we, or don’t we?”), but the answer seldom is.
Two weeks ago, we downed Flame Leviathan with all four towers active. It took us a good two and a half hours of attempts, during which we jokingly declared that once we’d finally achieved Heroic: Orbi-tuary, we’d never attempt it again. Our victory was inevitable, and euphoric. The loot? Thoroughly anticlimactic. A Golden Saronite Dragon for me! (which I was absolutely thrilled about! — but since I’m a Restoration shaman, my guild tended to view it as a waste ;.;), and some Abyss Crystals for the bank.
Of course, with Flame Leviathan in pieces and morale practically air born (or at least as high as our resident shadow priest), the raid’s attitude towards the encounter started to change. “That wasn’t so bad, after all…” “It was actually kind of easy, once we got the hang of it. I bet we could do it again…” “Ooo, have you seen the hard-mode neck? WTB!”
The very next week, when we opted to forgo the hard-mode in favor of a quick two-towers kill, half of the raid was overjoyed … and half of the raid was disappointed. No one complained, exactly, but there were quite a few players who quietly rued the missed opportunity.
Last night, we decided to try for four-towers again. We’d recruited liberally and had a full raid for the first time in weeks — including several new players who were eager to experience all of the Ulduar hard-modes (including those, like Flame Leviathan +4, that the guild had already defeated).
And although I didn’t mention this to anyone in /officer chat, I personally thought that reprising our previous achievement would be symbolic of our new beginning.
In hindsight? I sure as hellfire hope not.
If it had been a simple matter of “Okay, we aren’t on top of our game…” or “We have some new players who aren’t quite up to it yet…”, then it would have been easy to call the hard-mode attempts after the first hour or so.
But we were actually making progress! Each attempt brought us closer and closer to the achievement. We suffered from some exceptionally bad luck, a series of untimely disconnects, several occurrences of the same annoying glitch (Flame Leviathan would continue to move, but his model would stand still — and then magically “warp” across the screen) and a heartbreaking 1% wipe.
Each and every time we charged back into battle, we were convinced that “we so have this fight!”
And until the last half hour, we were having fun, in spite of the wipes. We were laughing on Vent — joking, teasing each other, discussing strategies and tweaking our line-up. Energy was high. Everyone seemed invested in the fight, even those who didn’t need loot and quietly (or not-so quietly) protested that we could be using the time to work on new hard-modes and achievements instead.
Then, about thirty minutes before end-time, when it suddenly seemed possible that we might not manage to eke out a victory after all … morale tanked. But we were I was stubborn, and invested in our progress (no one wanted to admit that the last two and half hours had been a waste!), so we pushed on.
Flame Leviathan: 1.
Us: … 0.
I was more than a little crushed at the end of the night, when we zoned out of an instance we weren’t even saved to. I felt like I had wasted the best line-up we had had in weeks on a fight that didn’t even utilize our line-up! Everyone was pretty down about it, and two of my veterans made a point of reminding me in /w’s that it was my fault we spent the night wiping on “old” content when there were new hard-modes to work on (and therefore progression to be had).
Yes, it was a bad call. In hindsight, we should have scaled back to FL +2 after the first hour and moved on.
But it didn’t feel like a bad call at the time — we were so very close!, and I can’t help but think that if we had managed to defeat Flame Leviathan, then it wouldn’t have been a “bad call” at all.
Tonight (assuming that we have the right raid composition for it), the plan is to knock out FL +2 and power through the early encounters. I hate feeling like Flame Leviathan defeated us, but with only two raid days to clear the entire instance, we really can’t afford to give him any more time this week.
I wrote in a previous post that the upcoming Emblem of Conquest change will make the endgame even more accessible than it already is, in part by allowing casual raiders to remain competitive, and in part by reducing barriers to entry for new raiders.
While this will certainly be true for guilds, like mine, that will choose an undergeared but committed applicant with a good attitude over a geared-to-the-tusks raider (Horde blog, remember? ;)) with the manners of a rabid furbolg, I suspect it could have the opposite effect on the PuG community.
I predict that the renewed interest in Emblem-farming that is almost certain to follow patch 3.2 will lead to a resurgance of ”power runs”: trade channel PuGs with high minimum requirements (such as Ulduar gear, hardmode achievements or inflated DPS thresholds), intent on brute-forcing stale content in a short amount of time. We saw this towards the end of The Burning Crusade, when Sunwell badge gear made Karazhan an attractive alternative to running laps in Shat, and again in those long months between the WotLK release and 3.1, when there was simply nothing else to do.
In both eras, new or undergeared players who were barred froms these power runs complained bitterly about what they perceived as artificial, or player-imposed, barriers to entry. At the same time that Blizzard was striving to make raid content more accessible, it seemed, the hardcore elite were conspiring to make it less so.
The most common complaint was levied at the inherent Catch 22: in order to run Naxx, you almost had to have gear from Naxx (or be willing to buy your way into guild-sponsored, auction-style raids in which loot was literally sold to the highest bidder). The more-casual accused the less-casual of being ridiculous, while the less-casual belittled the the more-casual for expecting to be carried … and much unpleasantness ensued.
Not surprisingly for someone who considers herself firmly middle of the road, I empathize with both sides.
On one hand, I can almost guarantee that if I were to organize a Naxx PuG today, I would only invite players I knew personally or who had previous clears under their T8-crafted belts. It isn’t about being elitist or hardcore or just plain mean; it’s about having already logged more hours than I care to count learning Naxx and then farming it into the ground with my guild. If I ever wipe on Grand Widow Faerlina again, it will be too soon.
So, no, I don’t think there’s anything particularly wrong — and certainly nothing high-handed or immoral — about with setting a goal (“A full clear in two hours with no wipes,” for example), and recruiting players accordingly.
On the other paw, (sorry!, shifted into Ghost Wolf to scratch an ear!), I can sympathize with those who are just now leveling to 80 and looking to catapult themselves into endgame raiding. Getting shut out of one trade channel PuG after another — not because your gear is inadequate for the content, but because you don’t yet outgear it — can be a frustrating and thoroughly demoralizing experience.
And then there are the gray areas, such as the new alts of raid-experienced players who may not have an achievement to link but know a particular instance inside out. My main is Of the Nightfall, but my warlock alt can’t join a VoA PuG because she doesn’t have the Emalon achievement (or a single Emblem of Conquest!) to her name.
In general, I think the best way to avoid the frustration and unpleasantness associated with PuGs — especially as power runs become increasingly prevalent — is simply to resolve to run content with comparably geared players. This is just common sense to me. Ten or 25 brand new level 80′s in quest blues and a smattering of leftover Tier 6 can clear Naxxramas. They won’t do so as quickly or as smoothly as an Ulduar-geared group, but they aren’t meant to. The advent of patch 3.2 won’t change this, and may even prove to be equal parts blessing and curse for those looking to break into the raiding scene for the first time.
The Emblem of Conquest change will make the current content more accessible, but it won’t completely obliterate linear progression. Nor will it eliminate player-imposed barriers. On the contrary, it will encourage them by making old content profitable for progression guilds and raiders — in other words, for those players who are most likely to set the bar high.
I’m sure reactions will be heated and varied — if not now, then a month or two from now when the Crusader’s Coliseum is considered endgame and Ulduar is the new Naxxramas.
“Shall we slay the Council tonight?” Ouchilicious asked, peering around the corner with her frosty eyes. “They’ll keep,” our leader replied with a shake of his massive, ursine head. Even in bear form, with his mouth perpetually agape, he was a portrait of Tauren stoicism.
* * *
“Don’t let the infernal wailing fool you,” Keaton growled, addressing the twenty-four of us but staring fiercely at the duplicitous Sara. “‘She’ is imprisoned here for a reason.”
The druid’s temporarily feline eyes narrowed to mere slits as he studied his prey. Beneath his tawny pelt, his muscles trembled in anticipation of the battle to come. In a matter of moments, we knew — with the world-weary certainty of veterans — our leader would throw his iron self-control to the stale wind of the Old God’s prison chamber. His barely contained energy would explode into rage, and he would lead us once more unto greatness … or death.
“She will likely summon minions to her protection,” he continued, tail lashing. “We must use them against her.”
“We know,” I whispered in Tauraje, so softly that only he could hear. “We know.”
He glanced at me, and his amber eyes flickered in the leonine equivalent of smile: feral fervor and lazy affection, all at once.
I tightened my grip on my mace, my Guiding Star, and fixed my gaze firmly ahead.
“Let’s get this show on the road, shall we?” came a voice from our left, light and almost cheerful. Lupius was nothing if not an optimist. “I have a good feeling about this one.”
“Just watch your pet.” Another voice, this one low and rough — like silk on gravel. It could only be Korev. “I don’t trust that Light-damned cat.”
“Are you allowed to take the Light’s name in vain?” The query came from a Sin’dorei rogue I tended to think of as Mazzranache. ‘Stepsindark’ was a vain and curiously charismatic creature — far too preoccupied with preening to skulk in the shadows with the rest of his ilk. “Surely it’s against some stuffy paladin code …”
I snorted. “Of course he is. His kind doesn’t worship the Light; they merely enslaved it for a time.”
Keaton’s snarl cut through the anxious chatter. “Let’s go.”
And because I know my mate — and was listening for it — the last thing I heard before all hell broke loose was the faintest ghost of a prayer. Not to the Earthmother, but to Elune.
(To be continued. Maybe.)
I think I must be channeling Ambrosyne’s inspired Letters from Ulduar, because for the last few weeks my guild’s Message of the Day has been an open (and ongoing!) letter to Yogg-Saron.
Last night, I was finally able to change it from —
Your tentacles creep me out (even if a certain rogue thinks they’re sexy). Die soon. Please. <3 Elle
— to —
HAHA, WE WIN. <3 Elle.
Someone (I’m not sure who, but I have my suspicions!) added this postscript:
P.S. You’re still creepy.
As another face-planting rogue put it:
The real game begins now.
Last night, my 10-man “achievement team” cleared Ulduar for the first time.
We knew from the moment we zoned in — okay, we knew after a quick pre-Flame Leviathan conference in /officer chat (in which Keaton made the executive decision, because I was channeling my inner Libra) — that we wanted to eschew the early achievements and hard modes and spend as much time as possible on Yogg-Saron. Our 25-man raid had come within a few harrowing percent of defeating the Old God on Saturday night, so the 10 of us who regrouped on Sunday were very eager to see him die.
Spurned onward by the increasingly desperate wails of the duplicitous “Sara,” we sped through the outer ring of the Titan citadel — evading the Flame Leviathan’s orbital defense system, deconstructing faster, bypassing Ignis and Razorscale and even skirting around the Assembly of Iron.
(“Shall we slay the Council tonight?” Ouchilicious asked, peering around the corner with her frosty eyes. “They’ll keep,” our leader replied with a shake of his massive, ursine head. Even in bear form, with his mouth perpetually agape, Keaton was a portrait of Tauren stoicism.)
Kologarn was easily disarmed. We wiped once on Auriaya, when pushback from the guardian swarm caused me to miss a heal (sorry, bear!), but each of the Keepers was a clean one-shot. Even Vezax fell with little difficulty, as our protection paladin switched over to his holy offspec to assist with healing while our feral druid main tanked the General. (None of this fancified DK-cooldown tanking for us! And, yes, a holy priest and I two-healed the entire rest of the instance. /flex)
It took us a few tries to master Yogg-Saron: Phase 1. We accidentally killed a Guardian on top of the raid (on the very first cloud-spawn, no less!), but after that embarassing mistake — and subsequent wipe — we serious’d up and pushed into Phase 2.
It wasn’t elegant, not by any stretch of the imagination. Ranged DPS — delivered by a mage, elemental shaman and shadow priest — was excellent; our casters controlled the tentacles beautifully and maintained their sanity throughout the fight. Melee DPS was a slightly less coordinated. Out of habit, all four of our melee took portals into Yogg-Saron’s brain, which left me stranded outside. The feral druid and two Death Knights managed well enough on their own, but — lacking the hybrids’ survivability — the leather-clad rogue fell and spent the rest of the battle facedown at the floor. That freed a spot for me on subsequent brain phases, but I was accosted by a tentacle and missed my next portal anyway.
Fortunately, Keaton and the surviving Death Knight (we lost the other one at some point, but I’m not sure how) handled the brain just fine without a healer (or my bloodlust) — and before we knew it, we were in Phase 3 for the very first time!
Then there were way too many adds and an insane mind-controlled kitty clawing his way through the raid (bad druid! no cookie!) … and suddenly, amidst all the chaos and uncertainty, Yogg Saron was dead.
… and then there was drama, rendering our victory bittersweet. >.< But I’ll chronicle that another time. Between job interviews, my newest obsession (saaaaaaronite!), and frantic cleaning in advance of my best friend’s visit next month — and my boyfriend’s two weeks later — I haven’t had much time to blog. I may be a bit down, but I promise: I’m not out!
Spinks didn’t inspire me to write this post — it’s been sitting in my drafts folder for a few weeks — but she did inspire me to finish it.
In a recent post, A Tale of Two Guild Hoppers, Spinks waxes philosophical about a friend’s decision to leave his new guild after wiping on Mimiron for two weeks. “Once he’d gotten into the progression mindset,” she writes, “there was no point staying with a guild that had hit a brick wall and being frustrated when there were other options.”
Although Spinks is much more polite about it than the Greedy Goblin, what she is describing is is essentially the same philosophy that Gevlon once espoused: get in, get what you need (be it loot, an impossible-to-solo achievement or a “My guild killed Yogg-Saron and all I got was this lousy…” screen shot) — get the hell out.
Setting aside the issue of personal progression vs. guild progression (and quoting my own comment on Spinks’ blog): two weeks on a new boss isn’t a “brick wall.” It’s a learning experience. We too wiped on Mimiron for two weeks before finally defeating him on an offnight — and then went on to one-shot Mimiron and down General Vesax for the first time in the very next reset! Mimiron may have been a bit of a stumbling block for us, but he certainly wasn’t a guild-killer cut from the same cloth as, say, Lady Vashj.
I’ve come to terms with the fact that current raid content is designed to be accessible. What I don’t agree with is the prevailing sentiment that accessible should be synonymous with easy.
Wiping is, quite simply, a part of raiding. It can be expensive and is often frustrating (although I’d argue that with the right people, it can also be a hell of a lot of fun. If you’ve ever found yourself laughing out loud — not just typing “lol” in raid chat, but stifling real life giggles — because your guildies decided that killing your mind-controlled raid leader yielded a better return on investment downing the boss, then you probably know what I mean).
While it may not seem like it to those of us who watch the kills come rolling in on the realm progression thread, the truth is that even the most successful of the hardcore guilds wipe. The difference between these “server first” guilds and my own (much more casual, but still progression-minded) Surreality lies in how wipes are handled and overcome.
How quickly can you recognize and recover from a wipe? And — more importantly — what can you learn from each wipe to ensure that the same mistakes don’t happen again?
Because raid content is more accessible, an increasing number of players are able to enjoy it. Some may have raided “back in the day,” but others are new to the endgame and may not realize that wiping over and over again on a new boss isn’t proof that they and their guild or PuG are “terribad”; on the contrary, it’s all part and parcel of the experience.
Be prepared to wipe.
You will wipe in Ulduar. It may take two or three tries to defeat Ignis for the first time; it may take twenty. Come ready to wipe, with flasks instead of elixirs, ample gold to repair and twice as many raid consumables (buff foods as well as class-specific reagents) than you think you’ll need.
In addition to being virtually prepared to wipe, you need to be psychologically prepared. Remember, everyone learns in a different way and at a slightly different pace. You may be the type of raider who watches the video or reads the strat, and instantly gets it. Others may need to experience the fight a few times before it clicks for them.
Don’t get frustrated, don’t lose your temper, and don’t lash out at your fellow raiders. Be patient. Be positive. Strive to create a supportive learning environment. After all, no one wants to fail, so there’s no point in berating those who do — especially since you could very well be next!
If you aren’t prepared to wipe — if you aren’t willing to invest the time, effort and gold in mulitple attempts on the same boss, with no promise of payout or reward; if you can’t control your temper; or if you find yourself contemplating a strategic “disconnect” after a few (dozen) deaths — then you don’t belong in a progression raid.
When you raid leader calls for the wipe, wipe.
This is the one time in your raiding career when it is perfectly acceptable to die in a fire. Stand in The Bad®. Cross positive and negative charges. Commit suicide by Hellfire. Unless your goal is a clutch DI (and in Ulduar, it really isn’t necessary for anything pre-Antechamber since the combination of spectral gryphons and teleporters make corpse runs trivial), your responsibility is to do whatever it takes to die as quickly as possible.
If you can save yourself a repair bill without delaying the raid — great! Go for it. But if you’re a feigning hunter, vanishing rogue or shadowmelding Night Elf, know the fight before you attempt to avoid the wipe. Some boss encounters won’t reset properly until everyone dies.
And for the love of all things dark and demonic: don’t waste the raid’s time by running away from the boss after the wipe is called. Most raid bosses aren’t leashed, anyway. Chances are, you won’t de-aggro the boss, but you will aggro your fellow raiders. (Especially if they happen to be trapped outside the instance portal, unable to zone in, and surrounded on all sides by the two or three or half dozen 25-man Alliance raids that are forming up at the stone…)
If your raid leader doesn’t call for the wipe, don’t wipe.
Once upon a time, I watched from my favorite lockly vantage point — that is, face down on the floor — as eight seven six healers solo’d the last few percent of Gruul the Dragonkiller’s life. And, no, I didn’t lose count! They just kept dying, one after the other, to Hateful Strikes. But our raid leader was laughing too hard to call the wipe, so they kept at it … and, lo and behold, won the day.
I’ve seen it over and over again: a tank dies and it seems the wipe seems imminent — but the cat-specced druid shifts forms, growls, and kitty-tanks his way to victory. Or the death knight switches to Frost Presence and takes over, just long enough for the Moonkin to shed his feathers for fur, dash across the field of battle and cast the raid-saving Rebirth.
Or the resto shaman ankhs back into the fight.
Or the shadow priest drops out of ‘form to heal while his disc-flavored counterpart soaks up a Mana Tide.
Or Bloodlust comes off cooldown at the crucial moment.
Or the 7K DPS ret paladin realizes that he has a soul stone, and returns from the dead in the last 20 seconds before the enrage.
My point here is that the fight isn’t over until your raid leader says it’s over. Trust his judgment: if he doesn’t call for the wipe, don’t die just because it seems like a wipe is inevitable. It often isn’t.
Coordinate anti-wipes, if necessary.
Although we tend to save our ankhs and soul stones for offensive use in the heat of battle, many guilds choose to use them as anti-wipes instead. If this is the case for your guild or raid group, try to coordinate their use as much as possible. The last thing you want is for both shamans to use their ankh on the same wipe, since that’s less one anti-wipe or in-combat rezz that will be available for the next attempt.
Recover quickly to minimize downtime.
Generally speaking, wipes aren’t a great time to tab out or go /afk. The quicker you can recover from a wipe, the sooner you can get back in and try again.
If the raid used an anti-wipe to expedite recovery, don’t release. Although rezzing the entire raid can be time-consuming, it’s still faster than running back from the graveyard to some out of the way place (like the Four Horsemen’s room or General Vesax’s chamber).
If the raid didn’t use an anti-wipe and the healers are running back, then you should release and run back with them. Assuming you don’t get lost in the instance (And I don’t anyone who would do that… >.>), it takes the same amount of time for 25 people to run back that it takes for one person to run back — especially if that one person is then expected to mana up and rezz everyone else.
Know where and when to repair.
In Ulduar, there’s a repair goblin in the Formation Grounds. Just look for the ogre with the goblin riding around on his shoulders. (It’s a little creepy, but impossible to miss.)
For other raid instances, your closest repair station may not be very close at all. Communication is especially important in these circumstances, as postponing successive boss attempts while one or two players run off to repair can really eat away at your raid time.
A few options off the top of my head:
- For Hordelings in Naxxramas, there’s a blacksmith near the Venomspite graveyard.
- If there’s an engineer in the raid, she can drop scrapbots and/or repair bots. I’m not sure about scrapbots, but repair bots are definitely a consumable resource: if one is dropped, everyone should use it so as not to waste them. (There’s nothing more frustrating than hearing someone call for a repair bot on the very first wipe after you dropped one!)
- If someone has a Traveler’s Tundra Mammoth, he can mount up outside the instance or in an outdoor zone (including the Conservatory of Life and any of the pre-Antechamber areas of Ulduar) to give the raid access to its accompanying vendors, including a portable repair goblin.
- Mages can port raiders to a capital city for repairs, and warlocks can summon them back to the instance. Just be sure to leave at least three people behind (including one warlock!) to manage summons.
- If even one other person is available to assist you, you can summon yourself from a meeting stone, hearth to Dalaran and then accept your own summon after you’ve repaired.
Figure out what you did wrong —
During the recovery, take a few minutes to discuss what went wrong.
Sometimes it’s obvious. The main tank died because he accidentally shifted into caster form. Or the paladin didn’t cancel a Holy Light cast quickly enough and missed his Divine Guardian cooldown. Or the rogue mismanaged his energy and couldn’t get the kick off. These kinds of mistakes are easy to identify and correct (especially when your raiders aren’t afraid to ‘fess up).
Sometimes, it’s less obvious. The healers aren’t able to keep up with raid damage, but no one is entirely sure why. The tanks were overwhelmed by adds that just weren’t dying quickly enough. No one can pinpoint a specific reason for the wipe; it just “feels” like healing is off or DPS is slow.
In situations like these, it may be helpful to use the in-game combat log or an external tool like WWS or World of Logs to dig a little deeper. I’ve been running World of Logs’ live updated during all of our Ulduar raids, and am encouraging our officers to use it to troubleshoot issues as they arise. It’s a fantastic tool. The main tank healer complains he didn’t get a heal? Check the World of Logs parse to see what was happening at that exact point in time! The arena team is wiping over and over again? Alt-tab to the Raid Deaths report to see exactly who died, and from what.
—and don’t do it again!
As a wise human once said, the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
Every wipe should be a learning experience. It may not be fun (although it can be!), but it should at the very least be constructive.
Our holy-turned-ret-turned-holy-turned-ret-turned-holy-again-adin (no, really…) ended up DPSing the first half of last night’s Ulduar 25 — and thoroughly resenting it.
Because, you know, he’s been so adamant about being a full-time raid healer that the suggestion that he break out his moth-eaten dual spec for the first time since the last time we ran anything (including to The Filthy Animal for our pre-raid supply of Code Red: Kungaloosh) came as a complete and unwelcome surprise.
So, in the interests of compromise, I volunteered to DPS for a few bosses so the paladin could heal.
… Have I mentioned that I am the single-most spatially inept person I have ever met? I get lost everywhere. In Karazhan. In Naxxramas. In the Dalaran Bank.
I’m not exaggerating: I swivel my camera, and I get lost.
So what happens when I charge into melee range, (attempt to) flit around the boss to DPS from behind like my tank insists that I do, and — /whimper — swivel my camera?
You guessed it: I get lost. ;.;
Note that that this also happens every time I try to run out of the whirlwind, falling debris or [insert force of nature here] nova.
I just can’t seem to orient myself in melee range — which is fairly ridiculous, given that I’m a female Tauren and often the largest thing in the room next to the boss.
So, for me, melee DPS looks a lot like this:
You are out of range.
You are out of range.
You are out of range.
You are facing the wrong way.
You are facing the wrong way.
You are out of range.
You are still out of range.
Damn it, Elle, what are you doing in Feralas? The boss is in Ulduar!
The fourth or fifth or (I don’t know…) fifteenth time I got iceblocked because I couldn’t figure out how to get where I was supposed to be from where I actually was (“Hey, since when we have to run to the Conservatory of Life to escape Flash Freezes?”), the paladin took pity on me and my 3.2k DPS:
“Hey, Elle. Why don’t we both heal this one? I think DPS has it covered.”
* * *
On a related note, with competent DPS, you can successfully heal Razorscale 10 as enhancement, even if your disc priest is wearing a fishing pole. Not that we would know … right, Annah?
You have the option of either killing each boss the “easy way” for loot and telling friends “yay, we downed Yoggy!” but if you want more of a challenge your guild can go for hard modes for bragging rights and better loot.
Everyone has downed Sartharion, but add a drake or three in the mix and it was one of the most challenging fights in the game. Lots of people, myself included, felt that Naxx and a majority of the rest of the raiding content that was available for release was entirely too easy but the only encounter available with hard modes was Sartharion.. now we have that option for an entire raid zone.
First, the obligatory disclaimer: my guild isn’t “hardcore.” With the exception of the night that Ulduar was released, we have never been on the cutting edge of progression. In fact, we have never been ranked higher than 12th on our server, and usually float somewhere between 15th and 20th.
Sure, we did 3D on both Normal and Heroic — but we trailed behind the truly hardcore guilds by months. When we finally posted our 10-man 3D success on the realm forum, one of the ever-present trolls responded with (not atypical) derision: “Time to turn of that Of The Nightfall title, since it seems that anyone can get them.”
As I mused to Tara in another comment, it really is a matter of perspective. I may seem like a hardcore raider to those who are just starting Ulduar or still progressing through Naxx, but my server (which is admittedly more competitive than most) labels me as a casual, and isn’t always nice about it.
So, speaking as a less-casual-than-hardcore, but more-hardcore-than-casual guild leader: I don’t want bragging rights. I want a challenge. I want the raid zone to be fresh and exciting — because once it loses its luster, it will be damned hard to motivate people to return to it.
We saw this with Sarth 3D. Half of the guild was eager for the challenge and enamored with the idea of “defeating the hardest encounter in the game.” The other half just didn’t see the point. Why wipe for four hours at a time on the hard mode when we could knock out the easy mode in half an hour or less, and then go do something just as fun but less expensive (like, I don’t know, fishing)?
Is this a fundamental disconnect within the guild? Yes. Undeniably. But it has never been an issue before, because we trace our origins to the dawn of The Burning Crusade and the easy mode/hard mode dichotomy is unique to Wrath of the Lich King. I suppose I could try to recruit people who are more psychologically aligned, but the reality is that many of us have been playing together for well over a year now and are united by far more than a shared desire to topple raid bosses.
Thus, the new endgame is forcing us to re-evaluate our guild’s purpose and compromise on collective goals — and while these are both very healthy things for any organization to do, they aren’t always easy, and they are without a doubt a source of trepidation for our officers and vets.
To build on Abi’s example: Sartharion 3D wasn’t a guild-breaker because it was hard. Sartharion 3D was a guild-breaker because it forced guilds to make decisions about what was important to them — to weigh the long, arduous (not to mention expensive!) progression versus the satisfaction of the eventual kill and (as Abigore phrased it) “bragging rights and better loot.”
Unfortunately, because nay votes often take the form of no shows as players who just aren’t interested in the hard mode encounters opt out of raiding altogether, even guilds that chose to take on the hard modes can find their progress stalled by members who don’t entirely buy into the decision.
I’m not asking Blizzard to preempt the inevitable guild drama by removing our choices. Far from it! As I’ve said over and over again, I understand, appreciate and (tentatively) support the developers’ attempt to compromise between the two extremes of the player base. But that doesn’t mean that I’m anything other than keenly aware of the unique challenges that the new endgame will present for those of us who fall solidly in the middle of the casual-hardcore divide.
We will have to make compromises of our own as a result of Blizzard’s evolving design philosophy. Because I know my guild, I know that farming the easy modes until 3.2 (or whatever) won’t be an option. Maybe we’ll take on the hard modes, one by one, and continue to play the tortoise to our server’s many hares in the race to Algalon. Maybe we’ll take a page from Liore’s book and alternate alt-friendly farming runs with achievements and hard mode progression. I don’t know yet; that particular discussion is far from over for us. In fact, I rather suspect it’s just beginning.
I love Ulduar.
I love the scenery. I love the lore — what I understand of it, anyway (I’ve never paid too much attention to that aspect of the game, which is ironic for someone who considers herself a compulsive role-player). I love the boss fights with their fun, occasionally gimmicky mechanics; the trash pulls that require creativity and thought; the unexpected humor (XT-002′s voice, AoE mobs named Trash and V0-L7R-0N spring readily to mind); and especially the newness of it all.
I love that healing is hard again; that I have to utilize my rotations rather than simply spam Chain Heal on the melee.
What I don’t love — and what actually caused me to end last night’s raid in tears (something I don’t dare confess to the guild-at-large) — was the Naxx-inspired cockiness that we took into Ulduar with us the first time we zoned in, and the inevitable crash that followed it.
I don’t think Ulduar is “too hard.” On the contrary, compared to SSC and TK — The Burning Crusade‘s sophomore tier — Ulduar’s easy modes are… well, easy. Laugh if you like, but we didn’t down Void Reaver the first time we attempted him. It took two days for us to master that particular fight, and we raced the enrage timer every week for a month before we could consider the “Loot Reaver” on farm.
I stopped counting after the first few dozen deaths (and I was playing a warlock at the time, so they were plentiful!), but I rather suspect that A’lar’s trash wiped us more times than Razorscale, Deconstructor and Ignis combined.
So, no, the problem isn’t Ulduar itself.
The problem is that Naxxramas was so easy by comparison to the raids that preceded it that we actually forgot what it was like to progress through new content. Once upon a tier, we congratulated ourselves when it “only” took a week or two of raiding to defeat a new boss. Now, we feel like we’ve failed if it takes more than two or three attempts, let alone nights.
Tensions are running high in my 25-man raid. We’re making decent progress — nine bosses fell (or were redeemed) in our second full week of raiding — but we’re certainly not one- or two- shotting encounters like we were in Naxxramas when it was new.
To be fair, most of us don’t want to. We complained bitterly that Naxx was “too easy”; by the time Ulduar was released, we were desperate for a challenge. (Granted, Sartharion 3D was a challenge — but it was also a hard-mode, so we tended to view it as an encore performance rather than a legitimate step in our progression.)
Still, there’s a difference between wanting to wipe in Ulduar and actually wiping in Ulduar. In the heat of the moment, it’s easy to forget that this is exactly what we’ve been crying for, and start to lose our patience and eventually our tempers. This happened repeatedly in Saturday’s 25-man raid, as the same officers and veterans I count on to help me lead when Keaton isn’t around (and he wasn’t this weekend) tore into each other for perceived slights, mistakes, lapses in judgment and even disagreements over strategy. As hard as I tried to run interference — reining in tempers, soothing ruffled feathers, mediating the inevitable disputes privately while remaining outwardly positive — I failed utterly to control the raid and ended the night thoroughly exhausted, demoralized and in tears.
Even Sunday’s Ulduar 10 was rough. We cleared everything before General Vezax in just five hours, with a dozen wipes along the way — most of them on Mimiron. Given that this was only our second week of raiding, I think this is outstanding; GuildOx agrees, and ranks us as #1 Horde-side and #6 on the server (which is pretty awesome, if you ask me). Nonetheless, the bickering that was so prevalent in Saturday’s Ulduar 25 raid polluted our usually relaxed Ulduar 10, and far from enjoying the new content that I claim to love, I find myself dreading it.
Don’t get me wrong: I really enjoy the people I play with. I’ve said over and over again that they absolutely make the game for me, and it’s true. It’s the short-temperedness and the peevishness among my core raid — two very recent developments — that are slowly spoiling the endgame for me. It may be a bit of a cop-out to name Naxxramas as the culprit, rather than the players themselves (or the guild leader who is accustomed to leading by example, and floundering now that she needs to take a more hands-on approach…), but I sincerely believe that the precedent that it set six months ago is hurting us now.
* * *
As I was writing this (in between SQL queries at work >.>), Matticus posted a theory about Ulduar frustrations that has since been picked up by WoW Insider:
Many guilds have forgotten what it’s like to hit a progression wall. Raiders who felt good about themselves and their abilities started having doubts about themselves.
This is what we’re experiencing. Exactly.
For us, the problem lies in the fact that these doubts have manifested as fits of temper — and, in some cases, depression — that are quickly snowballing through the raid. I’m going to have to give some serious thought to combating them, because I refuse to let Naxxramas of all things break my guild six months after we trounced it.
Work is kicking my tail this week (/whimper), so as much as I would love to make an appropriately epic “First Impressions of Ulduar”-style post, all I really have time for are a few quick thoughts about Week One.
For me, it was all about highs and lows …
Over the course of three days, my 10-man raid cleared Ulduar through Mimiron, leaving only General Vezax and Yogg-Saron undefeated. I had so. much. fun! Especially with Mimiron, a wonderfully chaotic fight that reminds me a little bit of the Lady Vashj encounter in SSC. I also really enjoyed solo-healing Thorim’s gauntlet — a challenge for a resto shaman, because while versatile we are, mobile we are not.
By the way, Supremus has nothing on Freya when it comes to trash. I will never look at flowers in quite the same way again! There is definitely some sort of phototropic effect going on, too, because those menacing little cutlings are absolutely drawn to Chain Heal.
Also, Mimiron’s trash is actually named Trash, which totally awesome (not just awesome, but totally awesome!) in my book.
Speaking of books, check out our Mimiron-10 killshot:
Can you pick out the real shamans in this picture? (Hint: I’m the cute one.)
My 25-man raid was crit by an unlucky combination of server downtime, Naxx-induced laziness and Real Life®, and only managed to down two new bosses: Flame Leviathan was a two-shot, and Razorscale took a bit more effort but ultimately went down (and dropped a very nice healing mace in the process).
Saturday’s Deconstructor attempts were thoroughly disappointing. XT-002′s very simple, Solarian-type mechanic got the better of us — over and over and over again. To be fair, we were missing several of our core raiders (nerf finals!), and running a 24-man group that included a handful of undergeared fill-ins from our Friends & Family rank. We ended up calling the raid when our fury warrior’s game card ran in the middle of wipe recovery (sigh) and our healadin’s finance came home, armed with wedding plans (double sigh).
Oh, well. I’m willing to write Saturday off as a practice round (spring training, as it were). We’re heading back into Ulduar-25 tonight with our core raid intact, and I’m hoping to see some significant progress. If not, I’ll have to look at making some changes to bring my 25-man raid up to the admittedly higher standard set by my 10-man team — but that’s something to worry about another time.
Work is summoning me, and I don’t dare decline. ;.;