A waste of a raid night?
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.