We are now exactly two full weeks into our 25 man raids, and we’ve accomplished 10/12 with Al’Akir seeing 7% last night. I have to say that I’m really happy with how well we are progressing in 25s, and the individual improvements that we’ve seen most of our raiders make during these two weeks. Honestly, all bugged rankings aside (will get into that later), we are doing very well.
Having done all 12 of the encounters on 10 man and everything but Nef on 25s my initial thoughts are that anything that is extremely healing intensive is more difficult in a 10 man setting. Now we are running 3 healers in our 10s and 7 healers in our 25s – meaning that both groups have roughly 30% of their composition being healers. I just feel that I am far more strapped – mana wise, GCD wise, ability to heal wise, in the 10 man raids than I am in the 25s. On the converse anything that requires serious organization (Al’Akir, Atramedes, Council) is more challenging on 25s – part of this is the number of people you need to herd to “do the right thing” is significantly increased, but part of it too is the amount of space that you have to work with in a 25 man setting as well.
As a guild we’ve always been above the average curve, but just under the top progression guilds, usually falling in the 3-5% rankings. I bring this up, because I am very curious what the new Hardmodes are going to bring to my guild. I’m looking forward to them and to their challenges – but I’m curious about how much time we will have to work on them and succeed at them before we are being faced with another tier of raid content.
Up or Down?
This, of course, brings me to my next spot to ponder. Our 7% Al’Akir wipe last night, after 30 pulls and roughly 5 hours of attempts. We were plagued with a few issues last night that caused a lot of downtime in the raid, including zone in problems and vent issues, which unfortunately tends to kill momentum, but we still kept at it.
It is my opinion, that this encounter has the highest personal accountability factor in this tier of raiding. There is very little room for individual error through any phase – and you can kill yourself in any phase with very little to be done to correct your error. The three phases of the encounter have a fairly steep learning curve – but once you figure them out they are pretty simple to deal with.
But, what I want to ponder on isn’t how you get people to dodge squall lines in phase 1 and 2, or how you keep the damn buff stacked on Al’Akir in phase 2. What I want to ponder in Phase 3 strategy. And really, the question I want to ponder is pretty simple: Up or Down?
In our 10 man kill of this, we started on the bottom and moved up for each cloud. However, one of our raiders has suggested starting at the top and moving down to avoid each cloud. After talking about it a little bit, Brade and I decided that we wanted to start at the bottom and move up – but after last night’s raid I’m wondering if this is the best option.
Or main reasoning for starting at the bottom and working up is this: “jump” is a much easier thing for people to grasp than “sit” for movement. Most people keep jump bound to their space bar and hitting jump is a natural movement that most people have been using since the game released. Hell – when we started the raid out in Vashj’ir to “practice” movement some people couldn’t even remember where they had bound their “sit” key.
We ran into the anticipated problems with this strategy. Namely people putting clouds on our heads and people frying themselves in the initial cloud. Now, by our final pull, I believe that most people had stopped frying themselves in the cloud at the very bottom – but we still had people struggling with navigating their Z axis and “standing” on top of the raid. This, of course, lead to a lot of dead people.
However, there was another issue that we ran into, which was the knockback knocking people down into the cloud below and causing extra damage. This can be solved easily enough by simply moving the raid a touch higher when adjusting for a new cloud so that the knockback doesn’t knock you into the cloud below.
But after our attempts last night, I thought it was prudent to take another look at the suggestion that you start at the top Al’Akir and work your way down – which means you would “sit” instead of “jump” in moving out of a new cloud. This would do a few things – but namely it would prevent people from putting clouds on top of us. Of course, it means that they could now put clouds below us instead…
But it also prevents the knockback from knocking us into another cloud if we are a little too low, which could prevent some deaths. It also gives everyone a very finite place to start “fly up until you can’t anymore – then group on the box”. From what I’ve been reading it supposedly also takes less time to get to the ceiling than the floor, so DPS can start earlier as well.
The biggest downside I see it that you have an extremely finite amount of space to work with, with a second runner up being “sit” not being a keybind that most people are familiar with utilizing in a combat setting.
So – it leaves me with the question: Up or Down?
Honestly, I’m not really sure which is superior. Those of you killing Al’Akir, which strategy are you using?
I finally got my first alt to level 85 – which I may, or may not, have only done because Judis (who never even had a max level alt until WotLK) has three, THREE alts at 85 and it just seemed….wrong that I should have zero. In all honesty, the truth of the matter was more that I still felt that I had so much to do on Beru that I didn’t have time for an alt. The second problem was actually picking a character to level.
I was pretty sure that I was going to do a healer – but really debated my warrior. Ultimately I decided that even though I loathed my paladin at the end of WotLK , I wanted to see what it was like in Cataclysm (well that and I really like the swoosh sounds that I make when I dps as ret…). And so I picked Dannie.
I slowly picked away at her doing a good mix of instancing and questing – and pushing through all of Deepholm because shoulder enchants are not BoA – and ended up leveling very early into Uldum. I’m actually a little sad about this because I really enjoyed Uldum but had most of my cut scenes bugged because I was grouped with Brade while doing them and he tended to start his cut scenes first, so I wanted to do the zone again. I think my next toon my say “screw shoulder enchants!” and skip Deepholm.
I did the majority of my leveling dungeons via the LFG system, because I’d been hearing complaints from a lot of people about how terrible it was and how they couldn’t seem to complete dungeons while leveling. I’m going to say that either I got really lucky with all of my LFD groups, or I just had a completely different experience. I didn’t start a single dungeon that I didn’t finish – and most of them were relatively painless.
Anyways, back to Dannie. So I hit 85 sometime on Saturday – and worked on getting enough gear for heroics. Between Saturday and Sunday I have healed a few – including Grim Batol last night. So far my experiences with Paladin healing have been very, very good. The healing style itself feels extremely cohesive – and I feel like there isn’t anything that I cannot handle. I really like the way that the spells play off of each other, and generally have a really great time healing with my paladin. I was a little surprised by this because of how much I disliked the changes at the end of the last expansion.
Of course, the logical next question is “what next”?! I’m still torn between my warrior and another healer. Poor Mynn hasn’t even been specc’d yet.
I’m having a really hard time chasing some of these with Beru. Specifically the ones that involve basically recompleting loremaster. I’m still undecided if I’m going to do it or not. I’m am feeling a little bit the same way about the Oceanographer and the Limnologist achievements – but I feel that it’s more likely I’ll complete these.
I have my ring, I have my trinket. I’d really like to get the pattern for the mount and make one for myself. I also want the mummified pet had. So…unfortunately that means more digging for me. However, I found that I was really starting to burn out constantly digging. So – I stopped. I will keep at it, but more on a “ok, I feel like watching TV and digging in the dirt” mindset than the “OMG MUST DIG NOW!!!” mindset that I started with.
On Other Things
So, I’ve been pretty hooked on the TV show “The Closer” lately, and I have to say that I’m absolutely loving it. We are just finishing up season three and it’s just an amazing show. I can’t recommend it enough if you are looking for something to watch.
My reading has slowed down quite a bit – mostly because I have been spending so much time in WoW – but I am still trucking through the last of those JD Robb books. Only five left!
I’m trying to think if we’ve seen any movies lately…we saw Black Swan and True Grit that are worth noting. I’d recommend both of them if you are looking for something good to watch. Be warned, however, that both are pretty dark fare.
Outside of that, I suppose I don’t have much of anything else to muse on! How about you all? How are you holding up? Are you still tinkering on your mains, or have the alts started to make an appearance? Have you found yourself enjoying things that you were sure you wouldn’t?