This is something I ponder as I think about a topic that was just recently presented to Monolith for discussion. Are we Invincible? Why, you may wonder, am I asking this question. Well, we have just started the discussion on whether or not we think we should pursue “the Light of Dawn” – or in other words, is chasing Heroic Lich King something that we want to do as a guild.
So, why are you asking if you are Invincible, Beru? Well, you see, it’s a play on words. My attempt to be creative! The mount that drops when you kill Arthas is named Invincible, but from all accountings that I have seen regarding this encounter your guild also needs to be damn near invincible to survive the journey there.
I am having a really hard time placing my feelings on the question that I posed to the guild – so please forgive me as I stumble through my thoughts on the topic a bit here.
Throughout this entire expansion, there has not been a boss encounter out there that I saw and thought “I don’t know if we are capable of doing that”. Until now. It’s not that we don’t have some wonderfully skilled players, because we do. It’s not because we don’t have drive, because we do. But I have watched and read about guild after guild that have out-geared, and out-skilled, us come to this encounter and crumble. Guilds that reached Heroic Arthas months ago – and have spent months trying to kill him – completely break down because of this fight.
I think I may be getting a little ahead of myself here. As I was drafting the post that was put up on our forums, I really wanted to people to understand what this fight was about, and really put some thought into their comments before offering up how they felt about it. In my venture to try and do this, I pulled up some statistics on Ice Crown Citadel:
(all numbers are as of the date of posting and reflect 25 man guilds)
12,391 guilds have killed Heroic Marrowgar
8,627 guilds have killed Heroic Festergut
6,384 guilds have killed Heroic Lady Deathwhisper
4,308 guilds have killed Heroic Putricide
3,637 guilds have killed Heroic Sindragosa
401 guilds have killed Heroic Lich King
To put that a little more into perspective for folks, let’s look at the other challenges that have been presented this expansion.
1,023 guilds have completed Alone in the Darkness
1,228 guilds have completed a Tribute to Insanity
2,919 guilds have killed Algalon the Observer
For an encounter that the cream of the crop guilds got to somewhere around March, to have only FOUR HUNDERED AND ONE guilds have succeed in this challenge some FIVE months after it was presented to them…it really makes you take a minute to question. I have read rants from those that don’t even know how to stand in the bad discussing the mechanics of this encounter. And you know what – I don’t back down from much, but I have to honest here, after working through this on 10 man (a journey still in progress) I just don’t know if this looks like a lot of fun for our progression team.
Are My Thoughts From My 10 Man Experience Coloring My Opinion?
Most definitely they are. We approached the 10 man with a less than perfect group composition – but these were the people that came in and learned the hard modes, did the work that helped prepare us for the 25, and I was going to be damned if I asked them to sit now. I am sure this journey has been more difficult that it needs to be, and that our group composition has likely dictated some of the challenges we’ve seen in the encounter, but you know what? We are almost there. We are getting into phase 5 and just need to work out a few kinks there to iron out our kill.
And you know what else? It’s been hard. I like that I’ve been pushed as a healer in ways that I haven’t before. I like that I’ve been forced to think outside of the box. But it’s also been frustrating. If I make one mistake – I’ve probably just wiped the raid.
We’ve been two healing the encounter, myself and a disc priest that I’ve played with for five years. We know each other very well, and know how to heal together very well. But I’ll tell you what, I never been more angry at myself for errors that I’ve made than I have on this fight. There have quite literally been times that I have needed to just stand up and walk away from the computer for a minute.
Times when I was a millisecond too late getting back to the LK tank and he’s died, or where I cast x heal instead of y and the OT hit the dirt. Or when I was irritated that I used Nature’s Swiftness in this phase because I had no other option, but knew I would need it for the transition. Times when my priest would get picked up in a valk and I the process of covering his expired shields – and trying to deal with infest – let the tank die. Now, I consider myself a very strong healer, but there are times on some of our pulls that I just don’t know what I could have done, what tricks I could have pulled out of my hat, to save the pull.
But it’s not even just that. I think about how many mistakes we’ve made that have caused us to wipe in the 10 man – with 10 people who I absolutely trust to do their jobs completely – and I transfer that over into what it would be like with our 25. And I think about the people that tend to be slow reacting to things, or have latency issues, or are slow picking up on new mechanics, and if I’m being 100% honest with myself – I don’t think that without coming down hard or sitting folks that make errors, this encounter would be anything but an exercise in frustration for us.
For the first time in this expansion I have come to an encounter that I truly feel isn’t worth it.
Don’t get me wrong, I would absolutely love to do it. I would love to say that we cleared 100% of the obstacles this expansion threw at us. But I am also not willing to potentially destroy the guild that I have spent so much of my heart building because I want to say that I’ve done it. Hell, one of the first things in our guild application states that we will not push progression to the detriment of our members.
Are Your Past Experiences Coloring Your Opinions?
If you’ve been here awhile – you know Monolith’s history. Back at the end of Vanilla we had a guild split and it took a lot of effort, loyalty and desire to build us back up to where we are today. We cleared Black Temple right as Sunwell was releasing – long before the great nerf. One of the best moments in WoW was killing Illidan and having the feeling of “we made it”.
We took our time pushing into Sunwell, getting a few Illidan kills under our belt, and we finally ventured in and killed Kalecgos and started working on Brutallus.
And you know what? The instance was beautiful, the encounters challenging to the extreme – after all it was an instance that was designed for the crème de la crème. And our raiders miserable. Why? Because we ran our roster with the team we had, which means we didn’t have 10 shaman – hell we were lucky to have 2 in our raid. We didn’t have “optimized” raid buffs, largely because we just didn’t have the roster to support that. And honestly, the instance was flat out just too hard for us. Sure, we could get the encounters in time, but it wasn’t fun. We wanted challenges, but we couldn’t offer the perfection that the zone required.
And you know what? We were still in the top 3% of raiding guilds at the time we entered into Sunwell. We weren’t in that top 1% – but we also weren’t anything to laugh at. We should have been able to defeat these encounters with a reasonable amount of effort.
But, because it truly wasn’t fun to have perfection expected of you night after night, and pull after pull, people stopped showing up to raid. Again we were at the end of an expansion and we were asking a lot from our raid team. Hell, I kicked an elemental shaman out of our raid one night because he kept missing his damn portal. How hard was it to click a f’n portal?!?!?! It was only later that I learned that he was sick – raiding with a bucket next to his desk – but knew that we were having attendance problems and didn’t want to leave us shorthanded.
Needless to say, I felt like shit. I have also never asked someone to step out of a raid until first asking them “what’s happening” since.
I once made the mistake of offering my thoughts about Sunwell over in the EJ Benefactor’s section. In hindsight – that probably wasn’t the best place to give that opinion, but you life lessons and all that. Anyhow, I commented that one thing that frustrated me so much about Sunwell was the fact that it required absolute perfection from your raid to execute; and that one mistake, one person link dead at the wrong spot, one person just slightly off their game would lead to your failure.
I very distinctly remember one of the replies that I received. It was from a priest that was in a top 25 US raiding guild at the time, and she said something to the effect of how she was tired of hearing people complain about how Sunwell required perfection. In her opinion it did not. You could easily make a mistake and then continue on with the raid just fine.
And I remember my thought, which at the time I didn’t share, and it was “sure I could see how that may be true if you have a group of raiders that are almost always perfect – and can easily compensate for the small error someone else might make”.
As the conversation continued there were several other people that spoke up, and their comments echoed my thoughts: “What do you mean it wasn’t hard to recruit an enhancement shaman…maybe being guild ‘x’ you don’t realize how hard it was to field those positions”. Which were often followed by commentary on how it was your problem that you didn’t handle recruitment well enough – or that you didn’t hold your raiders to task. And then it occurred to me that perhaps a lot of those people sitting on top of the mountain don’t realize just how hard it can be for those standing less than a foot below them.
I mean – a lot of the people in the Benefactor’s Bar are there because they want to learn more. Because they support a community that is there specifically to teach more, provide information. At least that is why I’m there. But the truth is, there is a vast difference in the gaming experience for someone that is in the top 1% and someone who is in the top 3%. There are exceptional players in both brackets – but unfortunately I don’t always think that the discrepancies between the experiences of those building the top are fully recognized. And I think that Sunwell illustrated this dichotomy in the raiding hierarchy well.
But you know what, I’m going to go ahead and say it, Sunwell was hard. And if you didn’t have a group of 25 stellar players I’ll even go as far as to say that pre-nerf Sunwell just flat out sucked. And while I may not have been in that top 1% – I sure as hell wasn’t in the bottom 1% either. I thought the zone was over tuned and was truly out there to challenge that 1% – which it did. But if you weren’t in that 1% the zone was raid after raid filled with frustration.
I don’t know about everyone else – but that zone started to burn the life out of my guild. It was a slow, painful thing to see happen. And eventually we said “screw this” and we took Sunwell off our raiding rosters. It’s not that we weren’t capable of the zone, certainly given enough time and push we would have made our way through it, but our raider’s actions were speaking volumes to us on what they felt about the zone. And when push came to shove it just wasn’t enough fun for them to want to continue that push.
So was there a point to this travel down memory lane? Why yes, there is! I suppose my worry is that the Light of Dawn is another Sunwell. It’s there to truly challenge that 1%, and anyone outside of that bracket is going to find that it is an exercise in frustration.
Is the Fact That It’s the End of an Expansion Coloring Your Opinions?
Yes. Actually this is probably one of the things that weighs the heaviest for me. Ends of expansions are very tricky from a leadership perspective. You are truly walking a tightrope trying to keep your balance.
On the one hand if you push something too hard people will become burnt out and quit, while on the other if you don’t offer enough challenges people will become bored and quit. Neither option is ideal.
At this juncture – knowing that there are guilds that have been working on this encounter for months and still do not have a kill makes me hesitant to have us start working on it now. Knowing that it will take us months of pushing people and countless hours of wiping, knowing that raids have the potential to quickly become volatile and that with enough volatility people will just stop showing up, knowing that it will open a revolving door of recruitment as people burn out, makes me think that at this juncture in the game perhaps it is more prudent to let this one go.
We have accomplished much this expansion – and there is a lot to be proud of in our achievements.
I guess ultimately what I’m really struggling with is if I am satisfied with what we have accomplished. If I think it’s representative of our success.
Do I want to be one of those elite few who accomplished this task? Do I want to be Beruthiel the Light of Dawn? You’re damned right that I do. But do I want to make the sacrifices that I know will have to be made to realize that…and then quite possibly never have it realized? I’m not so sure.
When everything is laid out on the scales they are far from balanced, one side is clearly heavier than the other.
Thank You For Letting Me Ramble, But Now I Want to Know What Your Thoughts Are!
Have you or your guild discussed this at all? Have you gone through the experience of actually killing him – or attempting him – on hard mode? What were your thoughts of the encounter in hindsight? If you are currently working on the encounter, do you wish that your guild had decided to skip him? Am I un-necessarily concerned about this encounter? What advice would you give me?
As I organize my thoughts and feelings on this I am certainly curious on what others out there are thinking on this matter.