A look to the past as we explore what built up to and resulted from some of the most interesting boss kills I’ve been apart of.
Eighty-percent of success is showing up.–Woody Allen
Choosing the first boss kill to use for this series of posts was quite difficult. Every boss that is defeated results in a screenshot (exceptions for all those silly achievements), and every screenshot has some story behind it. I’ve talked before about the beauty (and ugliness) of near one percent wipes. The best thing about a screenshot is everyone is alive. A passerby can look at all those involved, all standing, all very proud of what they’ve accomplished.
For members who were there, it’s a frozen moment in time. Many of the raiders you see in the above picture no longer raid with BRM (many remain closely connected to the guild, however), but we remember all of them.
I went with Lady Vashj from TBC because it marked the first real progression boss that I had the pleasure of raid leading. She presented us with a unique challenge that we really hadn’t faced yet during that expansion.
1) Get Add Control Down
It’s funny how Blizzard always manages to ratchet up the difficulty level of a Lady Vashj level (and later Kael’thas) encounter just enough to make it a raid leader’s nightmare. Each mechanic becomes a logistical challenge for the raid leader. If I had to pick a boss to be thrown into the fire to learn how to lead, it would not have been this one. But that’s not how it always works.
Everything to effectively run a Vashj kill is written on this single sheet of paper. That’s right, it required 3778 DPS to kill a Naga Elite before the next one would spawn (2833 for a Strider). Don’t forget about FFA loot and get your shit straight with who is kiting what.
This is a fight, like many end of tier bosses, that demonstrates the importance of consistency in a raid group. Often the important jobs on a boss fight fall on the shoulders a few select individuals. Changing out these individuals from night to night almost feels like a death sentence.
Well, how about if all 25 raiders had one of those important jobs? This was Lady Vashj (more pics for the curious). From the person that was kiting the strider to those that were passing the Tainted Core, everyone needed to know what to do when, and the only way to know what to do when … was to do it.
It’s difficult as a raid leader to sit the same people for several nights in a row on a single boss fight. Everyone wants to get a shot at helping to get a boss down. No one wants to feel like they’re coasting or are being left out, and simply, they would like to just raid even if it is a wipe night.
What it comes down to most of the time is simply who was present the first night you got there. You start getting used to the people that you’re paired with on an assignment. Knowing their tendencies and knowing where you can cover for each other is an essential part of not only this encounter, but for all difficult boss fights. Keeping people in the exact assignment they were in the previous week puts them in a position to get better. You like to have confidence that placing someone into a brand new role will result in instant success, but going with what you know is what you always fall back on.
Especially when a kill is so close, “Just do what we did last time, keep it stable, and we’re home free.”
2) Nail Core Passing
Communication is the reason for a vent server. It’s the reason raid warnings and auto-whisper notifications go out when you are standing somewhere you shouldn’t. Maneuvering the core from it’s place at the bottom of the ramp to it’s bucket in the center of the dais was the ultimate fire-bucket relay. Well, it would be just like a fire bucket relay if you were passing buckets of water through the fire to other firefighters who were busy spraying down fire and stomping out hot spots.
Yelling where on the platform the core had spawned and then notifying the next person in line where you were was important. It taught healers to communicate when they were taking a core and needed someone to cover for them. It let the DPS on the on the other side of the platform know they could continue with their assignments without worrying if the core might spawn near them.
Never underestimate the value of calling out mechanics as they happen. As a raid leader, you can never say “Blood Beast spawn in 3”, “Adds spawning any time now”, “Watch out for bone storm”, “Dispell that debuff!” enough. The time that you don’t call it is the time that it’s missed and someone says “Well no one called it, I missed it, my bad.”
Surprisingly, the biggest discovery on Lady Vashj was finding out how many healers did not have range-sensitive raid frames. They really didn’t know who was and who wasn’t out of range of them. As a healer you should always be wondering what the heck is going on with players that aren’t in range of your heals. It never hurts to ask quickly “does someone have, Bob, he’s out of my range.” You aren’t questioning anyone’s assignments, you’re just double-checking.
Being doubly sure is better than not being sure at all when a death usually follows shortly after.
The best piece of loot from Lady Vashj? The Vial of Eternity for attunement to Mount Hyjal. It was the last raid instance to require an attunement to enter and marked the last barrier to entry for new raiders. Getting people back in to get vials was absolutely brutal. Often you only needed to attune one or two people. New recruits all of a sudden had something else keeping them from joining better guilds, and it gave a reason after a wipe to say “we’re here just for ONE person. We can get better loot from much easier Tier 6 bosses!”
The best reminder? The next time you called a Hyjal/Black Temple arid because you were only short one or two people.
Managing a repeat kill on Vashj very often meant relearning a good portion of the fight, and not being able to return an experienced person to kite the Strider meant that you just weren’t going to be doing it that week. Those that were around remember how hotly contested attunement was and hailed the day when Blizzard finally removed it and decreed there would be no more attunements.
I’ll always keep that picture of my Vashj theorycraft, it’s like the businessman with his framed first dollar. Fortunately for me, a silly Gecko can’t use it in the vending machine.
Show me your diagrams. I know BRM raiders have them for Sindragosa ice blocks!