Raiding, The Virtual Theme Park: Where we’ve been, where we’re going.

12 June, 2010

The reason I talk to myself is because I’m the only one whose answers I accept. — George Carlin

Like the last ride of the day, Wrath of the Lich King is going down the final hill to the station as Cataclysm is still under construction with its gates opening later this year.

It’s been just over a year and a half since many of us stood outside our favorite nerd outlets. We waited anxiously for the clock to tick over midnight so we could get our hands on the eagerly anticipated expansion starring Arthas and set on the frozen continent of Northrend.

Before we knew it everyone was in, running everywhere trying to take in everything they possibly could. It all seemed like too much.

Look at all these quests! There are so many zones to visit, raid bosses to kill, and achievements to check off. Take a trip to Six Flags or Cedar Point and you see the same thing. Kids and adults alike bursting through the gates and running as quickly as they can to their favorite rides. The faster you go, the more you can do!

I stood looking down at Naxxaramas a mere 40 hours after installing my copy of Wrath, eagerly anticipating the coming raiding season. An instance I had never been able to conquer to start off an expansion where I would look to lead a guild at the forefront of progression.

Like walking through the tunnel under the highway into Kennywood, too much to do, so little time.

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HHM: Lord Moralegar – Turning Raiding Momentum In Your Favor

15 April, 2010

Confidence is contagious. So is lack of confidence.–Vince Lombardi

Hidden Hard Modes (HHM) is a series dedicated to those bosses you see outside of the game. The bosses you need to kill just to make it into an instance and before you even kill one boss. This feature will be archived in its own page for easy access after it runs its course. Previous entries: Attendancegut, Recruitmentface

It’s been some time since my last entry on this topic due to a lot of progress, other interesting topics to write on, and the one first of two events this year that make this post actually possible to carve out. Also, this post is likely going to cover much of what I intended for Stratagosa, so we’ll count this as a “council boss” for Hidden Hard Modes ;).

Morale and confidence within a raid are strange animals. In one moment you can effortlessly defeat anything placed in front of you, and with one wipe at a low percent you’re struggling wipe after wipe, for seemingly no reason. There’s a reason that I’m constantly comparing what we do in game to those that skate and hoop in front of thousands: the mentality is similar

Seasons

In PvP there are defined arena seasons, but those are relatively abstract compared to an actual sports season. Raiding actually follows a more stringent schedule and time frame when compared to the typical NHL or NBA season. In a typical week, they’ll play 3 to 4 games. For Raiders, we’re getting up and heading into an instance the same amount.

Now, let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. The mental and physical toughness that it takes to be a professional athlete is so far above what a raider in WoW exerts it might as well be on Jupiter. That being said, in a typical raiding cycle (approximately 7 months) you’re suiting up to play 112 times with probably 70 of those nights being actual progression.

Handling that kind of grind is not easy. There will be off nights and weeks, times when you don’t really get anything done. Is the sky falling every time you wipe 10 times on a boss you’ve killed a half dozen times? Is it time to kick people or disband the guild if a bad raid night turns into a streak of bad nights? Of course not.

Bouncing Back

In hockey this phenomenon is referred to as “tilting the ice.” During a game or a season it might seem like one team is completely outmatched. No matter what they do or how many penalties the other team gets, they just can’t get anything going. It actually looks like someone picked up one end of the rink so that one team is playing downhill. When a game is in the balance, the tilt can go either way at any time. A quick streak of goals can send a team into a downward spiral, bleeding momentum.

Momentum when fighting through a raid instance is just as important. An easy one shot on a boss carries over to the next boss (and so far). Wipes happen just like goals agsinst happen. Expecting to go an entire season without being scored on is ridiculous. Especially on harder content, you need to expect that some bad things will happen or someone will make a mistake and you won’t be able to recover. That’s fine. You just recover, re-buff and pull again.

The wipes that really throw you off kilter are the “back breakers.” You just had a couple solid attempts where a tank DC’d or some dice rolls lined up the wrong way. Everyone is still pretty confident, but this time a melee loses his head and gets his group killed early in the fight. Ugh, killer. We played perfectly and wiped, we played poorly and wiped, how the hell are we going to beat this?

It’s time to bounce back.

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HHM: Recruitmentface

24 March, 2010

A guild should accept a recruit as a body accepts a transplanted organ: Full rejection or full acceptance, becoming a contributing part of the whole

Hidden Hard Modes (HHM) is a series dedicated to those bosses you see outside of the game. The bosses you need to kill just to make it into an instance and before you even kill one boss. This feature will be archived in its own page for easy access after it runs its course. Previous entries: Attendancegut.

Recruitment is one of the most talked about and debated guild relations topics out there. Nearly every guild is recruiting someone. So if everyone is doing it, how do you stand out and/or be effective in pulling in quality players? Guides on the details of making an “effective recruitment post” are only useful to a certain point. Sure it’s always a good idea to present your guild information in an intelligible way and be truthful about your needs, but there are so many recruitment threads out there. When a recruit pulls up a realm forum or recruitment thread he’s looking at the following parameters:

  1. Minimum progression: Anyone that is looking to move to another raiding guild has some sense of where they want to be and what they’re capable of (if only subconsciously).
  2. Raid Times/Attendance Req’s: Does their availability match with yours?
  3. Potential Raiding Chances: What is the likelihood that they’ll get into raids?
  4. (On Server Only) Friends/Family: Often if a guild disbands or a player is looking to move, he’ll go to the guild where most of his on-server friends play. It doesn’t matter if the guild is at the top or bottom, they’re looking for a familiar place with familiar faces.

That’s it. Anything else like handing out free repair bills or double coupons up to $0.99 are just nice little perks. If the potential recruit does not think your guild can meet the above three parameters, it doesn’t matter.

Recruitmentface

This doesn’t just mean bumping recruitment posts and spamming trade chat, it also means properly managing your raid roster for various compositions and full tank/healer coverage. The night you can’t do Blood Queen because you have no +hit buff available is a wipe on Recruitmentface.

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Holding Out For A Hero

19 March, 2010

A hero is one who knows how to hang on one minute longer.–Novalis

Heroism/Bloodlust is an essential raid buff on nearly every encounter. On some it’s just a way to get it over with a little faster. Other fights require it to meet a benchmark or cover all of the healing required.

This is a simple post that simply lists in a simple fashion when I hit (or call for) Heroism:

  • Lord Marrowgar (Normal/Heroic): Start of the fight.*
  • Lady Deathwhisper (Normal): Start of the fight.*
  • Gunship Battle: By the time you’ve read this far into the guide, you already have won
  • Deathbringer Saurfang (Normal): When Saurfang frenzies at 30%
  • Deathbringer Saurfang (Heroic): When you think you can win in the next 40 seconds.
  • Rotface (Normal/Heroic): Start of the fight.*
  • Festergut (Normal/Heroic): As the first gas expunge is casting.
  • Professor Putricide (Normal): After one complete tank rotation (All tanks have 2 debuffs). This generally lines up with ~20% and will aid the raid healing quite a bit.
  • Blood Prince Council (Normal/Heroic): First time the Darkfallen Orb passes to Taldaram. The melee doesn’t have to move.
  • Blood Queen Lana’thel (Normal/Heroic): After all 16 vampires are active.
  • Valithria Dreamwalker (Normal/Heroic): After portal #3 or #4, depends on how fast you are moving. Make sure GS is ready to go up on her when you exit the Dream/Nightmare.
  • Sindragosa (Normal): Final ground phase (generally ~40%), this will allow you to push back the enrage and also not put your DPS in jeopardy if you use it later (Mystic Buffets!)
  • The Lich King (Normal): During the second Remorseless Winter when the first Raging Spirit spawns.

As a bonus, I’ll throw in To(G)C:

  • Northrend Beasts: After the first Jormungar burrow, when Acidmaw is mobile for the first time.
  • Lord Jaraxxus: Start of the fight*
  • Faction Champions: Start of the fight, when the melee are actually on their target (wait for them to run in).
  • Twin Val’kyr: After the second vortex, or when you see a good number of dps empowered. On Heroic Mode we tended to use this as late as possible regardless of empowered just to guarantee we had the healing to power through the last 20ish%
  • Anub’Arak: Start of Phase 3 (Leeching Swarm, phase). This is the best way to counter the massive amount of healing done as he transitions over.

*Make sure the boss is fully debuffed before activating Lust/Heroism (Sunders, Ebon Plaguebringer, etc.)

UPDATE: The above are from a 25 man point of view, but also all work for the 10 man versions of these encounters.

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Blood Queen Lana’thel: Overbite Correction

17 March, 2010

I shall cut off her head and fill her mouth with garlic, and I shall drive a stake through her body.–Bram Stoker, Dracula

Lately I’ve been asked by a couple players, and have heard discussion in various places about what to do with Blood Queen Lana’thel. In my opinion, there is no need to use a mod or get bogged down with really complicated assignments. The solution is to put the Bite Order responsibility in the hands of your raiders.

What have I done? The test subjects are running the experiment!

This guide is written with an assumption that you have good working knowledge of the mechanics. Check out StratFu if you need a quick primer.

How do you position to avoid deaths in the air phase?

How do you assign bites and get them to the correct people?

Five Healers? Six Healers?

All of these are valid concerns for a group starting in on this boss for the first time on 25 man. For 10 man, the number of people and size of the room immediately solve all of the above issues so we won’t get into that.

On 25 man you immediately have a numbers issue with the vampires. You will start with an initial “seed” bite ~10 seconds into the event. Then, as the debuffs wear off (every 1:33) you will have 2 then 4, 8, and finally 16 vampires in the raid.

Zombocolypse? Zombieocolypse? Zombiegeddon?

I know they’re vampires, just bear with me here (bears AND zombies? wtf). Let’s say, hypothetically, you have four towns and these towns happened to be named Group 1, Group 2, Group 3, and Group 4. Within Groups 1 through 4 you are going you need to spread the zombie infection in such a way that each town always has an equal number of zombies.

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Approaching Hard Mode ICC25, A Road Map

15 March, 2010

To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage.”–Ralph Waldo Emerson

Some may say that non-linearity is the true way to create interesting content. It provides choices and perhaps a different way of doing things. In reality, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Maybe you get to choose a different path through the instance when farming the content, but that is quite inconsequential in the grand scheme of things.

What Raid Leaders want, and look for, is the best path through an instance. If they don’t know what to choose, the choice will quickly be made for them. Let’s take a look at the “First Four” bosses of the original Naxx:

  1. Anub’rekhan
  2. Noth the Plaguebringer
  3. Instructor Razuvious
  4. Patchwerk

One of these things is not like the other.

Even if an ambitious raid leader wanted to tackle Patchwerk first, he simply could not. What he will fall back on is either experimentation (if he’s one of the first in), or the experiences of guilds that came before him. In the case of Icecrown Citadel Hard Modes, the latter is where most of us fall.  Plotting out a course of action based on the science of guilds that have already tried (and failed, in some cases) is the best way to create an effective map of hard mode progression.

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ICC25 Hard Mode: Power Overwhelming

13 March, 2010

We burn…We need focus…Thorasoh’cahp! — Archon, StarCraft

Our third and final night of hard modes included two bosses that supercharge the raid to ridiculous levels: Blood Queen and Valithria Dreamwalker. Killing off both would allow us to meet and exceed our goal of at least 5 hard modes this first reset. It turns out we were more prepared for both than I originally thought.

“Eradicate”

Leaving a raid with a boss at 4.7% HP, knowing you needed just 12k more raid DPS, tends to leave a good amount of trepidation at the start of next night. You worry of falling into a loop of wiping since your momentum from the last evening’s attempts is all but gone. The best thing to do before starting right in on a boss is get the blood flowing. A warm-up if you will.

For us it was the trash prior to Dreamwalker. We cleared to collect our free single Emblem of Frost and then back-tracked to the Crimson Halls. The message? Once we drop Blood Queen, Dreamwalker could be saved shortly after.

Once again we prepped for Blood Queen. Potions at the ready, food and flasks, a quick double check to make sure all the raid buffs were covered.

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