Hard Mode Lich King
He is dead.
It took us 174 pulls over 14 raids and 4 months. Our first flirts with him were back on June 4th, we stopped clearing the zone and holding our raid lockouts on August 17th, and we’ve pushed multiple nights for the past few weeks.
Looking back on the journey I have a few things to say (there’s a shocker!).
First and foremost, it was worth it. I don’t think any of the 10 people in the raid last night will argue that point. As the realization that we had finally done it started to settle in the group was absolutely ecstatic. To be completely honest, I don’t think that a kill has affected me quite as much since we took C’thun down. And that’s saying a whole hell of a lot because I have had some epic kills in my 6 years playing this game. To be honest, I don’t even know what happened. It was what would have likely been our final pull of the night, after almost 4 hours of pushing at him, and the first two pulls before the kill were a disaster. Somehow everything just…clicked. I don’t have any better explanation for it than that.
I’d like to say that I had some eloquent, William Wallace-esque speech that just motivated everyone in the raid before that last pull, but there was no such thing. Somehow we survived each defile, each wave of vile spirits, each trip down to the frostmourne room. And when we came up that last time we knew.
We ended up using a “soaking” strategy that worked well for us. However, it presented us the new challenge of having to master Defile in a different way than we were used to. In some aspects it was frustrating because where we had been getting farther, time wise, into the encounter with a different strategy we were now falling all over ourselves on the first defile out of the frostmourne room. It almost felt like backwards progress.
We solved this problem by having “defile practice”. That is, we’d flip the instance to normal and we’d get into the final phase and do nothing but practice soaking spirits and managing the defile. The night of our kill we took almost 8 solid minutes of maneuvering defile – and hit the LKs enrage timer in the process. Honestly, if you are going to go with a soaking strategy I cannot stress how invaluable I felt this practice was. Nothing else can simulate defile and how it spreads. Even on normal, with the slower spread, we still wiped ourselves a fair few times due to someone moving the wrong way. It takes practice to get the defile movements ingrained into your muscle memory, and this is the best way we found to “practice” it.
I am sure that we made the encounter harder than it needed to be by not having what would have been considered an “optimal” group. Our kill consisted of: Prot Warrior (LK); Prot Paladin (Adds/Soaker); Resto Druid (Tanks); Disc Priest (bubbles); feral druid; enhancement shaman (our resto shaman); mutilate rogue; marksmen hunter; demo lock; and an arcane mage.
We managed the encounter with what would probably be considered a “melee heavy” group and without replenishment.
I think that I can honestly say that everyone in the raid learned something new about how to play their class in this journey. I know that for me, personally, it was a challenge like one I am not sure I’ve ever encountered before. I required me to think outside of the box and to be quick to think when something went “wrong”. I was really pushed as a healer. If this is what cataclysm healing is going to be like – bring it on.
I think the other thing that made the fight harder on us was our limited time. Working this encounter one night a week presents a lot of challenges. We tossed our 10 man raids in on “off nights” for the rest of the guild, and frequently had a full week in between attempts. I can honestly say that I think this hurt us. It would take us a few pulls just to get our feet underneath us each time and get into a groove – but each week I felt like we had to “relearn” what we had worked out the week before. It wasn’t until we managed to squeeze in some extra pulls on nights where our 25 man raid finished early, or on extra off nights, that we started to see leaps and bounds in our progress. But the limited time, and lack of back to back progression pushes hurt.
While I will begrudgingly admit, now that he’s dead, that I enjoyed the fight (when it wasn’t driving me absolutely crazy), I am also going to state that I felt it was poorly designed. What I mean by that is that the fight didn’t reach the audience that it was intended for – 10 man raids. As of the date of this post only two strict 10 man guilds have managed to master this encounter. And quite frankly, they achieved the impossible. To me, that speaks of poor design and an over tuned encounter. While I understand that the fight is supposed to be a challenge for those at the top of their game, the challenge should still be reasonably obtainable by those it is meant to challenge. And to top it off, those two 10 man guilds didn’t even get a damn mount as a symbol of their dedication and effort. To me, it seems a grievous injustice for Blizzard to fail and recognize those accomplishments in the same fashion they did the 25 man raids.
We are going to try to get one more kill in for the fury warrior and second marks hunter that had put in time, but weren’t there for last night’s kill. But we are taking this coming week off, I dare say that we’ve deserved it!
25 Man Raiding
As expansions wind down, we try to keep raiding fun for people, and we try to keep people engaged and enjoying the game. The closer it gets to the end of an expansion, the harder this becomes. After having cleared out Ulduar – and missing a raid night due to the Chicago server clusters crashing on Wednesday – we are going to take our first push at Alone in the Darkness tonight. A lot of people had indicated that this is something that they wanted to see done before the end of this expansion, so we are going to go in and see if we can’t get a few Mimiron heads to add to our mount collections.
Now, as I understand it, with our terribly overgeared selves we should be able to largely “zerg” the final phase of the encounter as long as we can do it before the tanks become hugely overwhelmed with Immortals. Brade did the math on the amount of DPS that the raid will need to do if we take 2 tanks, 6 healers and 17 DPS – I think it factored out somewhere around 7k per person. I’m actually wondering if we couldn’t 5 heal (which we did for one light back before we overgeared it) and 3 tank it to help with Immortal control. I suppose we will see how it works out for us tonight. Does anyone that has been clearing the zone lately have any feedback? Are you using the “zerg” strat in phase 3? Are we asking for disaster by not assigning people to keep the Immortals at low health?
We are also going to be making a concerted effort for The Immortal from Naxx since it is being removed. We missed our Black Proto-Drakes by about 90 seconds on a death on Kel’Thuzad the Monday before the patch that removed the drakes went live. Additionally, it was some poor planning on the leaderships part (read: Brade and I) to not push for the achievement sooner. We didn’t know that Blizzard had intended to remove the drakes, and waited far too long to start focusing on getting it done. We are hoping to get it completed before it’s removed from the game. Unfortunately – we have a vocal group of folks that want nothing to do with the achievement, and become a liability to the raid, largely because they just don’t care. So we are going to try to do it with a smaller, more focused group of folks that all want to get it done.
Elentari – Poor, poor Elentari. She was making such great progress as I alternated between her and Nadine with their rested XP. But somehow that dirty Dranaei has gotten more attention! She’s just sort of languishing away in northrend, but I’ll get back to her soon enough! I’d still like to get her to 80 before Cataclysm.
Nadine – Nadine has hit level 75 and can now save Gnomeregon. This operation will occur this evening! However, I have also reached another important milestone with Nadine – I completed the Wrathgate questline for the Alliance. And I have a few thoughts. While I enjoyed the Alliance version of the event, the Horde’s was just better.
The Alliance quests leading up to the Wrathgate had a lot of great lore, and they were wonderful quests. But they lacked the story that the Horde quests had. The actual even itself was alright, but significantly shorther than the Horde version, and I didn’t really feel as attached to it. That, and I really dislike Varian Wyrnn. In my eyes he has no redeeming features and always looks like he’s pissed off about something. That or he’s got a terrible case of constipation.
I’ve been tanking my way through Northrend with Nadine, and largely enjoying it. Getting Divine Plea at 71 was huge, and actually made tanking a lot better. I am still finding some of the taunt mechanics challenging to manage, but largely I think I’m getting the hang of it, and having a good time. I got the biggest kick out of zoning into AN and having the priest comment “Thank God, finally a tank with tanking gear”. 🙂
I’ve now done a few instances on the PTR – but I am still patching after this last wipe.
First off – you get 9 glyph spots which is interesting and I’ve been playing around with different glyphs. However, professions were broken in the last build (not sure if they are fixed yet or not) so if you didn’t have glyphs with you, you were SoL. One glyph that I found very interesting while playing with it was Glyph of Healing Touch, which reduces the cooldown on Nature’s Swiftness by 5 seconds each time you cast healing touch. I’m curious how this will play out with some of the other glyphs!
I’ve healed some and so far I haven’t had too many problems. However, I will say that tanks are squisher and that they are seriously struggling with threat. Of course, this is only exacerbated by the fact that DPS are all going OH SHINY at their new spells and having very little regard for the poor guy trying to keep mobs off of them. One of our DPS DKs has been tanking some of the instances for me, and tanks in his DPS gear to help with his threat generation. It seems to be working fairly well for him.
We are going to try to organize a foray into ICC 10 sometime soon, assuming I can remember to get my PTR patch downloaded, and get everything set up again. Oh, and if I can remember how in the heck I spec’d myself. Because I did like the spec I chose!
Outside of WoW
In all of this mess life outside of WoW has been hectic. Brade’s having to work a lot of overtime and he’s got a very close friend getting married, so I get to see fairly little of him right now, and when I do see him it’s while we are raiding. Hopefully some of this will calm down a bit here shortly.
This past weekend we took his parents to go see Alegria. It’s the second time that I’ve seen it, and it was just as enjoyable as it was the first time. It’s one of Cirque’s earlier shows, so it’s not quite as edgy as some of the more recent ones, but it’s still amazing. I recommend any of Cirque’s shows for anyone if you have one that is travelling in your area!
I think that’s about all I’ve got for today! It was actually a fair bit! So now that I’ve lightened my mind of all of the thoughts that have been bouncing around in my head, what’s going on with all of you?