Posts tagged ‘Achievements’

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.

We wiped.

All.

Night.

Long.

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.

Sigh.

July 15, 2009 at 12:09 pm 11 comments

In which I respond to Abigore and reflect on the easy-mode/hard-mode dichotomy

Abigore of Fear.Win posted a comment with regards to easy mode vs. hard mode encounters that I feel compelled to respond to:

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.

May 6, 2009 at 10:43 am 5 comments

I’m a rare spawn!

It took me a few minutes, but I finally realized why everyone was just standing around staring at me …

I'm a rare spawn!

… no, I didn’t have something on my nose …

*rubs it surreptitiously*

I’m a rare spawn in the new Noblegarden achievement, Shake Your Bunny-Maker!

April 26, 2009 at 2:56 pm 4 comments

The Undying still isn’t fun … but I never have to do it again!

As of last night, I am officially Liluye the Undying.  And believe me, the last five seconds of Kel’Thuzad’s (un)life were the most nerve-wracking of my entire WoW career! 

In that short span of time, a void fissure spawned beneath our MT’s paws and the second-squishiest member of the raid suffered from an untimely case of Iwishiwasamage-itis.  Fortunately, Keaton /danced out of the fissure like the amazing trained circus bear that he is, and we spammed heals on our iceblocked ‘lock … and because they are awesome, our deliberately-stacked-for-ranged-DPS DPS group managed to burst Kel’Thuzad down before P4 started. 

(In P4, Arthas takes pity on KT and sends a Feral Lag Monster to Naxxramas.  Affectionately known as Bob5, the Feral Lag Monster casts a stacking debuff on the entire raid, increasing the likelihood that afflicted raiders will freeze up, lag out or be randomly disconnected and ported to their hearthstone’s bind point.  Or Crossroads.)

I’ve suffered through my share of 1% wipes and been solely responsible for more 2%-99% wipes than I can count, but the Undying is a uniquely stressful experience in that there are absolutely no do-overs. 

Die in a doomfire and spoonfeed a soul-charge to Archimonde?  Apologize to the raid, toss a few gold in the guild vault to cover repairs … and try again.  

Flail around in a panic and loose constructs on the raid?  Run back, screw around with the simulator during the inevitable post-wipe /afk’s, resolve to never again be that guy … and try again.

But mistime a heal on the iceblocked fury warrior, lag out on Heigan, neglect to turn your spell detail back up before Grobbulus or forget to switch from Seal of Blood to Seal of Command before Gluth’s Decimate?  Congratulations!  You just wasted the week-long reset for nine other people.  Even if they’re really understanding about it (and my guildies are! <3), it’s still an awful feeling.  Trust me, I know.  (I was #1 and #3 on that list. >.>)

Don’t get me wrong: I’m thrilled to have the title and be one Naxx-8 and a Sarth 10-3D away from my Glory of the Raider meta-achievement (not to mention a swifter-than-very-swift ride).  But I stand by what I wrote last time.  This is a horrible achievement, based as much on luck as skill, and I couldn’t happier that it’s being re-worked for Ulduar.

March 30, 2009 at 3:25 pm 5 comments

To raid, or not to raid …

… is not actually the question, but “to farm Heroic Naxx, or to postpone the 25-man shardfest until the weekend and invest one of our peak raid nights in Sartharion-10 3D?” just doesn’t have the same ring to it. >.>

Our 10-man team spent a good eight hours wiping on Sarth 3D last week, and is so close to the kill we can taste it.  (Barbecue dragon, mmmm…)  But for various reasons, we won’t be able to try again until Sunday — unless we postpone our Wednesday night Naxx-25 until Saturday, which will leave Wednesday free for OS10?

Naturally, being a Libra (and attempting to juggle all of the conflicting needs in the guild-at-large…), I’m torn.

Pro’s

  • My 10-man team will have the opportunity to get back into OS10 early enough in the reset to (1) experiment with various group comps, because fewer of our fellow guildmembers are likely to be saved to other ID’s and can be rotated in (we’d really like an unholy death knight, a warlock or a critchicken for the +13% spell damage buff to our caster-heavy DPS); and (2) still have all of Sunday afternoon to fine-tune our strategy, if for some reason we aren’t able to down Sartharion on Wednesday.
  • Some of our more casual weekend raiders (who have gotten short shrift since we started clearing content in one and a half raid nights) will be able to raid again, something that they dearly miss — and have been remarkably patient about, all things considered.  Not coincidentally, these are also the players who could most benefit the most from the gear that our weekday raid typically shards or loots to off-specs.  Also, because Saturday is one of our official raid days, we’ll need these weekend warriors in the best gear available to them.  Come Ulduar, they will definitely be a part of the progression team, so it behooves the guild to rotate them into farm runs as much as possible.

Con’s

  • Because my 10-man team includes (by necessity) some of the guild’s strongest players — including both guild leaders, three officers and two of our three main tanks — it is already perceived as a “clique” by a handful of members.  If I start scheduling 25-man raids around a 10-man run, then drama is almost certain to ensue.  We already have a contingent of players who feel that 10-mans are largely irrelvant to the guild’s progression … or at least, less important than farming Naxx-25 for their last few upgrades.
  • The reason we can’t raid again until Sunday is that our main tank and raid leader has weekend plans, and he isn’t someone we’re willing or able to replace.  Since our protadin (who isn’t on the 10-man team) won’t be able to make Saturday, either, we’ll be down two and possibly even three tanks.  There are at least two alts (of players on the 10-man team) who are willing and able to tank Naxx-25, especially if it means freeing up Wednesday for OS10 progression … but I have a feeling that relying on alts to tank a 25-man will result in a rougher run than we’re accustomed to, and therefore drama (because some players still expect to be carried, and will fret that the guild’s best tanks are unavailable for the 25-man run because we prioritized our 10-man earlier in the week).

Through all of this, I also question my own ability to remain unbiased, and make decisions that are in the guild’s best interests.  I’m on the 10-man team.  I’m also the guild leader, and have a huge vested interest in seeing that little checkmark next to our name under OS10 3D on the realm’s progression thread before 3.1 hits.

Whatever I decide, there will be unhappy people, missed opportunities and the opportunity for drama.  I hate all three of these things!  Immensely!  But as Kyrilean pointed out in a post earlier today, the worst decision is often no decision at all.

It’s coming.  I just need a few more minutes to think about it …

/waffle

*   *   *

Update:  We didn’t have the best turn-out tonight, so we did a quick 25-man Malygos with fill-ins from our Friends & Family rank while we waited for a few more raiders to log-on.  Then it was off to Obsidian Sanctum for Sarth 3D.  We were still missing some key people, so DPS was a little low; it took us a few tries, and definitely wasn’t the smooth kill it’s been for the last two weeks.  (I spent most of the fight face-down in the dirt after clipping a void zone.  After all these weeks of raiding as a shaman, I /fail hard at ‘locking.)

We had an hour left on the clock but everyone was drained, so we called the raid there.  It looks like we’ll be doing Naxx on Saturday after all; the guild seemed receptive to it, as it would get our weekend raiders in, and the weekday core is a little burnt out now anyway. 

Sometimes I overthink things.  ;.;

March 24, 2009 at 1:36 pm 3 comments

The Undying is not fun.

angel

Rohan has an excellent post about this achievement.  In it he, he says everything I’d love to say right now but can’t because after shaking like a leaf for the last three hours because I was completely and utterly terrified that I would be the one to ruin it for my Naxx-10 group, and then losing our fury warrior to a some bizarre combination of server lag and an iceblock in the last six seconds of Kel’thuzad’s (un)life …

I have no words of my own.  None.  At all. 

This achievement is. not. fun.  It is nerve-wracking and guilt-producing and every bit as much about luck and lag and RNG as it is skill and control.  I don’t care how close we were; I never want to attempt it again. 

/still shaking

March 23, 2009 at 10:50 pm 6 comments

Gonna Go When The Volcano Blows!

I bring the wineRemember that disaster of an “alt” OS10 run that transformed me from a mild-mannered Tauren shaman, serenely communing with the elements, into a card-carrying member of the Angry Healers Club?  What I neglected to mention was that immediately after we pulled Sartharion, our sole non-alt DPS — a Death Knight who never fails to “win Recount” — committed suicide-by-lava.

I can’t say that I blame him, to be honest.  I was /wrists-ing at several friends in a private chat channel at the time, too.

… or, rather, I couldn’t say that I blamed him … until I realized why he did it …

It wasn’t because the tanks were inconsiderate, incompetent and, well, plural.  (Why did we bring three of them, again?  /boggle)

It wasn’t because raid DPS was so ridiculously slow that we started asking each other if Sartharion had an enrage timer.

It wasn’t even because the healers were snarling-mad (although we were).

No.  He committed suicide to cheese the achievement.  Apparently, the game doesn’t recognize the difference between dying before you’re hit by a volcano and defeating Sartharion without being hit by any volcanos at all … provided that the other nine-tenths of the raid is able to down him, of course.  

Which we did. 

Eventually. 

Painfully. 

With much gnashing of the teeth, tearing of the hair and general QQ.

So in the end, our sole DPS main earned (/cough) his 10 achievement points, our feckless alts walked away with gear and badges, and I spent the next few days commiserating with Angry Healers everywhere.  (Yay, blogfodder.) 

Win-win, right?

not if you asked the other healer in the run, the holy-turned-ret-turned-holy-again paladin who was the Light to my Lasers that night.  He was absolutely furious that the Death Knight took a dive, especially since it forced the two of us work that much harder to keep the rest of the raid alive (and thus miss out on the achievement ourselves).

I understand where he was coming from, of course.  I wasn’t mad myself (the Death Knight announced before accepting the raid invite that he was going to die in a fire; we just kind of assumed that he was joking…) but that’s probably because I was already frustrated to the verge of tears by ten other things.  One more would have pushed me over the edge from angry into homicidal.

I kind of shrugged it off at the time, /pat‘d the paladin on his jet-blue shoulders and wrote the entire night off as a “learning experience” (as in, I learned never to subject myself to that again!).

So why do I bring all of this up again?  Am I that hard up for things to write about?

… Yes, but that’s thoroughly beside the point.

You see, late, late last night — after working on Sarth 3D (Lite Edition) for an hour or so and realizing that we just didn’t have the right group for it — we decided to assassinate the Twilight drakes one-by-one and then take on Sarth, which would give everyone who didn’t have the achievement yet an opportunity to practice volcano-dodging in a relatively stress-free environment.  (Because, believe me, a lava wall and some fire elementals are a nice walk in the Sepulcher compared to all of The Bad® that Sarth 3D has going on!)

So, no Of The Nightfall for me this week. 

But no volcano-spew, either! 

Without throwing myself into the jaws of the dragon — or letting any of my precious little Grid-boxlets go out! — Gonna Go When The Volcano Blows is one more Glory of the Raider achievement checked off my list. 

/flex

The hands-down best part was that the Angry Paladin got it too, which inspired him to forgive the Death Knight (it’s easy to forgive someone when you can feel superior to them — such as for earning an achievement legitimately that they had to exploit).  I never have to listen to him cry in /officer chat about it again!

… Still, the entire incident has me thinking about Tarsus’s excellent No Faith in Achievements post in a whole new light.  I don’t necessarily agree that achievements are pointless, although I certainly wish they were: their only real value comes from keeping my guildmembers interested in the game at a time that we’re all bored out of our minds.  If the raids themselves presented more of a challenge, then the gimmicky raid achievements wouldn’t feel like such a necessary evil.

March 18, 2009 at 5:15 pm 6 comments

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