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Tag Archives: progression

We’ve made solid progress over the past two weeks. Norushen and Pride last week, followed by a repeat this week and downing of Galakras, Juggernaut, Shaman, Nazgrim and Malkorok. Oh, and a couple of decent pulls at Spoils.

Norushen stomping all over the Amalgam

Norushen stomping all over the Amalgam

Vintage last week. Picked a pic with Norushen included, despite the fact that he doesn’t bother to take part in the encounter that’s named for him. Well, unless he’s the one spawning those golden spheres, but that sounds a bit proactive.

"Draw me like one of your French girls!"

“Draw me like one of your French girls!”

Pride’s been a pretty simple kill. Wish we’d had the option of choosing between Pride and Norushen. Thought SoO was meant to have branching options, but apparently that went out of the window sometime in development.

There was going to be a pic of our Galakras kill here, but I’m totes lame and awful, so just imagine it. Or flash back to the end of your most recent LFR Galakras, after half of the raid’s left because they only wanted loot off the first boss. Derp.

Juggernaut fall down, go boom.

Juggernaut fall down, go boom.

Biggest problem for Juggernaut was raid members assuming that they could soak bombs as though this were Flex. Kids, do not try this at home. Leave it to trained professionals, like tanks.

Only one of the pair. Like socks through the tumbledryer, so are the Days of our Shammies.

Only one of the pair. Like socks through the tumbledryer, so are the Days of our Shammies.

Our strategy for downing Dark Shaman actually involved three tanks tanking them separately – two at the top with Dottsy McTankSwap, one at the bottom with the DPS and Oozetastica the Poisonlicious. Works really well – you get deathwalls at the sparsely-populated top where they’re less likely to cause huge issues, and oozes and ashfalls at the bottom where there’s plenty of room to maneuver.

One poor decision too far.

One poor decision too far.

A lot of people seem to be attached to Nazgrim. I don’t get it. Since Cataclysm we’ve been following this tool who spouts off about how the Horde is all too magnificent, and who then tends to go right ahead and fuck already-bad situations up even worse. he tried hard, he was loyal, and he was way out of his goddamned depth. Maybe it’s because of that – the fact that he wasn’t some unstoppable Marty Stu – but his self-righteous jingoistic prattle got on my nerves.

I swiped his mace from the DK tank, purely on the basis that it’s a hefty base damage upgrade and mastery’s a pretty good stat for AoE-heavy encounters like around 80% of Siege. This also means that the warrior and I won’t be competing when something heavy on crit drops. We were both at the top of the SK list… I don’t know if Siege just has poor item placement for plate DPS, or if we’re just really unlucky.

The club can't handle us.

The club can’t handle us.

Malkorok really came out of nowhere. I get that he was important in the books, and he was some sort of kitten-stomping baby-eating Bad Guy in the backstory, but seriously… it would have been nice to have some insight into what his deal was within the game. Also, this encounter makes no bloody sense at all.

Downing the boss wasn’t the hard part – the hard part was getting everyone online at the same time to do so. At one point the raid leader’s machine crashed and completely lost all of his addon settings. Given that he was a healer, that was rather inconvenient. In the end we did manage the kill.

And now for some arbitrary nonsense.

Behold the holy bug-zapper!

Behold the holy bug-zapper!

Our main tank got his Tabard of the Lightbringer this week, something that he’s been working towards for quite some time now. Quite nifty.

If you recognise the room, yes it is indeed Garrosh’s secret underground no-cooties clubhouse. We were running it in Flex. If you recognise the second tank, I’ll be a little surprised. That’s Drythorn, making his return behind the board after a long period of smitey smiting. We didn’t get Garrosh down in the end… not enough DPS, and the tanks kept exploding violently due to adds and Warsong. Tips appreciated, since we don’t actually know how to prevent mobs getting the buff and stomping us obscenely.

Ended up tanking most of Flex and some of 10N with Dry this week. One of our tanks has come over all unreliable, so we’re making do with anything that can equip a shield, and in the case of a certain bear, the shield’s optional. Raid tanking beats the hell out of PuG tanking, at least.

"Hey, where do you think you're putting that thing?"

“Hey, where do you think you’re putting that thing?”

Ah, pet battles. Such light-hearted family fun.

It awaits you under your bed

It awaits you under your bed

And finally, in case you ever wondered why anyone would ever play an orc as a clothie: this. This is why.

That’s pretty much it for the week. Still no image editor, so the screenshots look a little like they came from the inside of a Soviet mining gulag, which I suppose is actually fairly accurate. Deepholm flashbacks ahoy.

Looking forward to getting a shot at further and better bosses this week. I’m pretty happy with the raid as a whole… particularly in the second half, it certainly feels more dynamic than Throne of Thunder, while moving far away from Throne’s tendency to determine encounters on the strength of random people executing cheap gimmicks.

Go Team Siege.

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The first week that SoO Flex part 3 was available, we stomped all over Malkorok within 3 pulls. This was without our main tank, with one of our best healers taking his place, and without a couple of our best DPS. Think it was a test week at uni or something.

The next week we went back with our full complement of heavy hitters, confident in our experience and with high spirits.

And we wiped on the fight for almost two hours before calling it.

What changed? Well… we brought two more people. Those two people pushed us over the threshold to four exploding swirls of doom rather than three. We tried dropping our lowest DPS, as vile as that may seem in a Flex group, but still couldn’t get it down again. It looks like the damage from the swirls doesn’t scale – just the number of them present.

Now, this might look like a bit of an edge case. We’re few enough that one extra swirl is 33% more burst damage. A bigger group might have less of a problem soaking that extra swirl. Still… it’s dispiriting rolling over a boss one week and then being completely unable to make progress the next. You’d think that someone would have thought this through.

But no. Blizzard has severe difficulty with scaling, and even more difficulty accepting that fact. Every time anyone mentions scaling it’s shot down by a blue with “we don’t like talking about scaling because the community uses it in a broader sense than we do” or the like… which basically translates (to me) as “you guys complain about scaling everywhere, so we don’t want to talk about it”.

Thing is, those scaling arguments everywhere are relevant. With Challenge Modes and Proving Grounds, the fact that some specs are utterly godawful until they’re in raid gear – a regular fixture of class balance, to the point where being weak in poor gear is even considered part of the warrior identity – is no longer just a minor concern that will be fixed by natural gear progression. Watching Fire catch nerfs in the last patch three expansions running because of their scaling isn’t a joke any more. Seeing everyone and their little sister play Frost because it’s the only mage spec that does well in challenge mode level gear and yet still manages good DPS at high end should be a red flag for a design team that goes on and on ad nauseam about wanting players to have choices.

There are other manifestations of blizzard’s trouble with math – low level PvP is rife with them, and heirlooms scale abyssmally at some points, for instance – but this rant would take forever if we went through every example in the file, as it were. For now, it’d just be nice if we weren’t punished for bringing more guildies along. That was the whole promise of Flex, after all.

Starting to settle in at the new job, so updates might actually happen more frequently again.

Someday I'll take a good action shot of one of my toons, I swear...

Someday I’ll take a good action shot of one of my toons, I swear…

Got my legendary cloak. Not on the day of the patch – gasp! – but on the day thereafter. Probably would have waited longer still if it weren’t for a guildie who’d farmed up his last runestones the day before and who did all the schlep work of putting together a group that (mostly) stayed together for all four bosses. So, thanks, Dan. Don’t worry though, you’re still a dick.

The proc is off Xuen’s bath towel is surprisingly effective. On most fights it accounts for 6% or so of my damage, making it as good as most of my actual abilities. Well worth the grind. Also, watching my character go completely bosbefok is marvellous.

Dan and I were the first two to get the cloaks – close enough that I’m not sure which of us handed in first for the guild achieve. Quite a few of the other guildies are making progress, though – we’ve already got a cloaked healer* and a caster DPS who’s a couple of celestials away. Fun times.

Not having to actually display the cloak to get the visual proc is the best idea Blizzard’s had in a long time, and that alone makes me happy they went with a cloak rather than something unhideable like, say, a weapon. That said, the fact that these blue/white wings clash with my transmog has been getting on my proverbial tits. Juuust a little. Time to play dress-up again. Speaking of…

elixirIt seems that the old quest mobs in the Vale now drop a new elixir which turns one’s character into an appropriately-attired Golden Lotus guard, such as they were before the HORRIBLE DESTRUCTION. I quite like this bronze armour set, and don’t recall seeing it at all while levelling! What a shame.

In other news, the guild’s cleared the first Flex quarter and the first two bosses in Normal, which is actually pretty good for a first week. We’ve got some of our Cata raiders showing interest again, which is pretty awesome. Guild cleared ToT all the way to Animus in one night**, which is excellent given that we were routinely stumped by Tortos before and had never even seen past Ji-kun before. Yes, it’s nerfed, and no, I don’t really care.

Siege looks to be much better balanced for our needs – less “every raid member must know how to execute this arbitrary mechanic perfectly or we all die” checks. Group cohesion’s important, and we do that fairly well. If the roster holds together, I can see this being a very good patch for us.

Flex has been interesting – the difference between Flex and Normal is pronounced to say the least, but unlike LFR, the mechanics appear to be entirely intact. Made learning the first couple of bosses vastly easier. Being able to pop latecomers and random friends in as well is marvellous.

 

* I’m not jealous that the cloak’s wings look so much better than my pally version. At all. >.>

** Disclaimer: I wasn’t involved in this at all, being that my beloved wifelet got me Cold Days and I had to read it immediately.

Always thought that was a rockfall, but no - it's the boss

Always thought that was a rockfall, but no – it’s the boss

Goat is down.

Admittedly we used Special Tricks™ – our method for gathering up the bats was “suicidal Holy paladin switches Righteous Fury on just before bats spawn, heals like a mofo and prays the actual tank can steal aggro before said pala becomes a pink smear”. Go ahead and try this one at home, folks, it’s hi-larious.

Trick to getting the bats down in time turned out to be just kicking a turtle at them every now and then. Even so, we had a few moments where I’m not entirely sure how the healers kept the add tank up through Quake Stomp.

Still – we managed four(!) bosses on our first raid night of the week, leaving us sunday and tuesday for Megaera. Plenty of time! Which we didn’t actually need.

Not pictured: an overambitious multisnake

Not pictured: an overambitious multisnake

Megaera took a grand total of four pulls before she rolled over and… well, straight-up disappeared. Word to the wise if you’re planning on getting a screenshot for your kill: the corpse is already fading as her death animation plays. Which pretty much leaves a picture of a big box unless you’re a lot quicker on the draw than I was. Half expecting a “Forgotten Depths was merely a setback!” style not-really-dead-ism.

The actual fights was… a lot like LFR, actually, but with more damage and actual incentives for not standing in the green explodey stuff. For instance, it’ll one-shot you. We even used the good ol’ LFR tactic – green/red/repeat ad nauseam/win. Having three paladins meant three devotion auras, and with the sheer amount of magical damage in the fight – especially toward the end – that helps a lot. Three-healing made Rampage less dangerous than Acid Rain explosions, and Devo was probably used more often to deal with those than for the heavy healing phases.

That left us with most of the evening to spend on Ji-kun. We weren’t particularly well-prepared.

If you look up in the corner you can see someone still alive! THIS IS WHAT WINNING LOOKS LIKE.

If you look up in the corner you can see someone still alive! THIS IS WHAT WINNING LOOKS LIKE.

That’s one prog boss per raid night so far this week, and we’ve got tuesday night to go before the reset. Current plans on what to do with the nests seem a bit sketchy – started out with us bouncing back to the platform between nests, but that results in running out of wing charges. Another plot was to have two nest groups so as to stagger people with the Feed buff on the boss, but it seems a little overcomplicated. The derp was strong with me, though. Maybe it just looked worse than it is.

We’ll come up with something, no doubt. Just wing it?

Death to all who oppose us

Death to all who oppose us

Council down, and only a week after our first Horridown. Let’s get some detail up in here.

Part 1: in which we present the team

From left to right, we have:

  • Ellaelyra, apparently having bounced away from her elemental
  • Sidhe, hers behaving for once
  • Esirpus, just glad he no longer has to watch energy meters
  • Giac, wearing half a transmog, which is just weak
  • Idie, eyeing the stairs with trepidation
  • Raijin, who seems quite happy with the thunderforged fist that dropped
  • Yours truly, reconsidering that tabard for ranged shots
  • Madrox, not to be confused with his former death knight incarnation, despite both being tanks
  • Delta, presiding over the traditional “What’d he drop?!” ceremony
  • AODPriest, who despite being an Angel Of Death spent the fight healing

That’s two mages, two priests, three paladins and miscellaneous filler. Ideal comp we ain’t, but it works out, probably because of how damn pretty we all are. Well, except Giac.

Part 2: in which we discuss the fight

From the first pull, this fight already felt much better than Horridon. Everything’s up on the table. The issue with add fights is that each add is just another thing that can go wrong in its own special way, and is literally trying to do so at every moment. Horridon feels hopeless because every time you get a handle on one set of issues, a whole new set shows up. We didn’t exactly one-shot the council, but every time we wiped it felt like we were getting closer, like our tactical adjustments were making a difference. Progress felt like progress.

Our first night on the fight was a few pulls after a messy Horridon kill. Last night we approached it with a new tactic: stack ’em all up and cleave them down. If this sounds less than tactical, rest assured that you’re probably entirely correct. Still, it works.

In 10 man, the healing add actually heals for less than its own HP. That makes switching to it and burning it a complete waste of time, and also removes any incentive not to stack all three of the tankable bosses together for cleave damage. Stacking has another advantage if you have a paladin tank: Avenger’s Shield can interrupt Sul and Mar’li in one shot. This significantly reduces damage over the course of the fight.

As the one and only melee, I was assigned to stay on Sul from the beginning and burn/interrupt him until his inevitable messy death. The other DPS also focussed Sul until the empowering add hit a predetermined energy state; 50 for Malakk and Mar’li, 30 for Kazra’jin, since he’s annoying to stay on and using cooldowns is a good way to reflect oneself to death.

The fight effectively has three enrage timers. First there’s the usual one, which is actually pretty generous. Next there’s the empowered energy count per boss, which can be fudged without too much difficulty. And then there’s the one that matters, which is Sul’s turn at being empowered. Make no mistake – allowing him to empower is an enrage. There is nothing in the fight more damaging than Sandstorm, the adds that he summons are tough and will kill people without much effort, the sand-patches that the adds leave behind when they die do a truckload of damage, and to complicate matters, one of the tanks is usually stuck taking a Frigid Assault at the same time the adds show up.

So yeah. The very first attempt where we downed Sul was also our kill. It took a couple of tries to refine, and we did end up with two of the three healers in atonement spec hammering at Sul as well. Once he’s down, though, the rest are just a formality.

Part 3: in which we consider the future

Yeah, having some second thoughts about this...

Yeah, having some second thoughts about this…

So we’re 3/12 now, and facing off against the might of Tortos, who is most assuredly a goat. As that video points out, melee DPS aren’t great on this fight. We tried one or two pulls just to have a look, and for my paladin the outlook is pretty dismal.

I can’t effectively DPS the turtles, can’t kick, and the only AoE slow that I have is also my primary DPS talent, which doesn’t maintain the snare outside its stationary area of effect. I could maybe go with Burden of Guilt, which I used for a while as a PvP talent. Most of my usual utility is useless here.  Perhaps Hand of Sacrifice isn’t, but warriors get the same ability as a talent and we have two other paladins now.

As for specific challenges that we’ve encountered: the turtles spin fast. Despite having two frost mages, we’re still seemingly coming up short on slows. Our ‘lock has no idea what the AoE snare that fatboss mentioned even is. Further, the bats will happily take a tank to the cleaners in the short stun just after Quake Stomp, so we’re going to need an antidote for that. Blinding Light doesn’t appear to work on them at all.

We’ve only had three pulls on the fight, though. We’ll adapt and overcome.

Part 4: in which Leit whines about gear, because he is bad at this game

By halfway through part 3, anyone with a semi-intact cognitive center was probably already going “oh, he’s thinking about changing mains again“. Well, yeah. Altoholic, right here. I hope you’re very pleased by your impressive deductive skills.

Thing is… I finished out t14 without a single normal drop equipped. The couple of drops I did get were tanking gear that no-one else could use. Even LFR refused to give me any slack. Things looked up for a minute on the release of the third segment of LFR ToT, where I suddenly got two whole useful drops in a single week, but before and since it’s been just as barren.

Paladin’s been gearing decently from valour. Started out with a decent nest-egg that’s paid off well, and not having to grind a hundred different reps in order to actually spend my currency means I’m actually motivated to go out and earn it in the first place. Thing is, though, gearing from valour means I only get an upgrade every couple of weeks. Without an edge from raid drops, alts can catch up pretty damn quickly, especially if they’re the tiniest bit luckier than Dry. If the alt in question can bid on gear that isn’t also desirable to other players in the raid, that helps as well.

That last item in particular points to my rogue, who brings decent mobilty, damage equivalent to my better-geared paladin, AoE slows and cast time reduction, a misdirect, good personal survivability and no real raid utility beyond Smokebomb. Unfortunately the rogue’s gearing has sort of fallen by the wayside as I’ve been reconnecting with my warrior, and his only foray into gearing this week resulted in ragequitting after ending up in multiple PoS runs with only Lei Shen up.

Meanwhile, said warrior brings a mean amount of raid utility. The only class that can bring the raid cooldown of Skull Banner, she’s got a raid damage reduction banner as well, an AoE taunt banner if I’m feeling suicidal, excessive amounts of mobility, a raidwide health cooldown, talents for AoE stuns, interrupts, spell reflects, slows and snares, a talented Hand of Sacrifice equivalent, and exceedingly good AoE damage. Where she falls short is in personal survivability and the fact that she’s still rolling on the same plate and strength weapons that everyone else wants. At least she isn’t on the same token as literally 60% of the raid, for one day when that matters.

There are two things that have been keeping me on my pally for the moment: momentum and utility. Now that we’ve got a paladin tank again the second is less important, and I can bring plenty to the table with another class. Dry is still the best geared of my characters, and the one whose ins and out I know best, so he’s still got momentum on his side. But how long before the same frustration as t14 rears its head?

And stay down.

And stay down.

Big news of the week: Horridon finally down last night. Left to right in that pic:

  • Ellaelyra, who apparently has a vowel fetish
  • Madrox, indulging his vore fetish
  • Esirpus and minion, bolting to get in on that
  • Giac, probably already in a LoL game by this point
  • Raijin, just relieved the nightmare is over
  • Drythorn, having spent the last pull as an enormous troll because confusion
  • Sidhe, whose water elemental seems to misbehaving as usual
  • Delta and Delgardo, doing something that we probably don’t want to know any more about
  • Aodpriest, apparently doing a goalpost impression with Ella.

It was pretty clear on friday that we were going to get this boss down – with the comprehensive nerfs to the adds’ health on 10 man, we were finally able to get them down before their abilities started overstraining our healers. We ended up 2-healing, with DPS helping on dispels wherever possible.

As a ret I spent most of the fight from the second door dispelling, keeping Hand of Purity up, trying not to waste Aura Mastery and getting the occasional heal off with Selfless Healer. Would have had more damage if I’d brought my rogue, but utility is at a premium in 10 man, and nothing brings survivability tricks like ret. Fight like this stretches ‘hybrid’ as far as it’ll go.

This dino will get a lot easier as we gear up. That’s something to look forward to. Our night was not without hiccups – people dying on the last and second-last door, wrong tank ending up with Malakk, Healing Tide dropping instead of Healing Stream, Aura Mastery instead of Wings – all complete with appropriately amusing “wtf are you doing” reactions. We also had to do without our usual hunter, but our Dragon Soul hunter subbed in and acquitted himself admirably. There’s stuff we can improve on, to be sure, but hopefully now it’ll feel more like polish than trying to hew through unending bedrock.

I’ll likely be busy with work tomorrow night, and thus may miss the initial pulls on Council. Guildies seem confident that we’ve got the co-ordination to pull it off. I don’t know though – Sul scares several kinds of hell out of me. ‘Course, the conviction to go on might have something to do with the trash dropping a certain companion.

Finally, a closeup of your trollified author, his wifelet and our tank.

You know you've spent too long on the fight when the tank feels most comfortable being chewed on

You know you’ve spent too long on a fight when the tank feels most comfortable being chewed on

Beginning to hate Horridon.

We downed Jin’Rokh in no time at all, first week of the expansion. I guess that was the idea, having him as a confidence builder. So basically for the past 3 weeks we’ve been working on Horridon.

It’s… not really going our way.

We know the tactics, and we have a plan, but things just spiral out of hand very quickly. Particularly on the second door. Those Gurubashi… I don’t know. We have dedicated interrupters for the priests, but their effusions cast the same thing, and we seem to get a bunch of those. Last night I was having issues with the sand traps – for some reason with my settings I can’t see sand traps if there’s a hunter freezing trap out, but those hunter traps are good for add control… aargh.

We haven’t even seen War-God Jalakk yet. Don’t know if it’s gear – my paladin was below 490 the first time he stepped in there, and we haven’t even cleared HoF yet, so we don’t have drops from there – or whether we’re just missing something.

We’re three-healing, which does leave us down a DPS. Standard procedure for our guild is to push with fewer healers, but we only have one real stand-out healer at the moment. He’s a gem, but the damage happening means we’ll need another one at least in his caliber. My shammy would probably fit the bill, except I can’t seem to get anything like the numbers I should be out of her. Her gear’s good, better than my paladin in fact – she’s actually gotten gear from LFR, unlike him. I just can’t get it to pay off in numbers.

We don’t really have a steady stable of players either. Most nights we’re sort of reaching to come up with 10 people period. That, along with the loss of our former raid leader, seems to have left a sort of stain on the people who are trying to do the job. There are a couple of returning players who’re levelling characters to 90, and hopefully they’ll re-energise the team. The old guard as it were seem pretty excited about them.

Meanwhile we have something of a co-ordination crisis. We struggle getting Garalon down, and still haven’t beaten Amber-Shaper. Execution is… problematic. We’re still gearing slowly, and maybe that’ll make all the difference despite our apparent lack of ability. Personally I’m finding that LFR is most unkind to my pally, but others have been doing better.

I don’t know. Can’t really think of any solution. It’s just a bit dispiriting to hear “what’s the point, we’re not progressing” over mumble.

Next time on int i;: maybe I’ll try and post something more depressing, like the story of a one-legged kitten who catches the rabies and gets turned into KFC.