Archive for the ‘Hard Modes’ Category

At What Cost?   25 comments

 Last night we killed Sinestra. This did a several things for us – for the first time in our history as a guild, we can definitively call ourselves a “server first” guild, having snagged all three server first end boss kills. Additionally, depending on which set of arbitrary rankings you look at, we are debatably a top 100 US guild…for now (if you’ve been reading here for any length of time you already know how I feel about progress rankings).  But in the aftermath of Sinestra dying, instead of being overjoyed I found myself asking “at what cost?”.

All, I am about to share with you things that I’ve not really shared to anyone, save privately to Brade.

Aside from the fact that this content tier has been excruciatingly long – I can honestly tell you that in my six years of being in guild management in this game I’ve never worked harder or felt more unappreciated and disrespected as I have for the past few months.  And I find myself asking if it was worth it.  Were all the hours I spent researching, reaching out to anyone and everyone I could for help when I found us struggling and crying myself to sleep at night because I was worried about if I was missing something or handled something poorly, worth it?

I don’t expect people to shower me in accolades, but every now and again a simple recognition for the work I put in or a thank you would go such a long way.  You don’t even know.  To be fair, a few people do occasionally thank me or say very nice things to me – usually when I need it the most and it shows I need it.  And I’m grateful, because what they probably don’t realize is that they were the person that kept me going, that picked me back up when I was certain I wouldn’t be able to stand up again.

Last night after our kill instead of someone saying “man Beru, those tips you dug up these past few days were great!”  – I was advised that I wasn’t the top healer for our kill.  I’m sure it wasn’t meant maliciously, and I know that wasn’t this person’s intent, but I was pretty hurt by the comment nonetheless. I mean how do I even respond to that?  “Sure, but I had 1mm more healing done to the tank than the other raid healers and was more of a team player?”.  “Ok – but there was less than 500k  healing difference and I still ranked on the fight?”.  “Sorry, I’ll do better next time?”.  I mean, seriously, what the fuck do I even say to that?  Ultimately I opted to respond with (what I felt) was a gracious response: “It’s good for other people to outheal me, I shouldn’t always be at the top, plus it keeps my ego in check!”.  After I picked my jaw up off the floor, that is.  Because I’m going to admit to you, I was pretty upset by the comment.  That after all of the work I put into the encounter, the only thing anyone said to me was essentially “you weren’t the best on our kill pull”.

I can’t help but feeling a little bit like this expansion and tier of content has changed my guild – and while it is for the better in some ways (progression), I’m not entirely sure it’s for the better in others (community).  Perhaps I’m just being cathartic about it, I don’t know.

Recruiting this tier has been brutal, and it has taken a lot out of me.  We’ve had more turn over in our raid roster the first few months of this expansion than we had in all of WotLK combined.  And while I’m fairly certain we aren’t alone in that, it has been difficult to juggle that on top of everything else.  I will also be honest – we have some personalities right now that don’t mesh well, and it’s been extremely taxing to keep them in check every raid.  There’s been more than once that I’ve felt the need to actually ask “do I need to turn this car around”?  Which is tough, because we built our guild on the foundations of respect – and to have people shitting on that pretty much just pisses me off.  I’ve had to have more individual talks with people this expansion than I have….ever.

There are a couple of people right now that seem to come into the raid some nights with a giant chip on their shoulder – and I don’t have a clue as to why.  Frequently these are the same people that get immediately defensive at the suggestion that they have room to improve or that they made a mistake.  And to be honest with you, it’s not healthy for the raid – and it’s certainly not healthy for me.  Their attitude is obvious, it does not go un-noticed by myself or others and it’s poisonous.  It’s vital that I contain it and do not let it spread, or it will overwhelm what I am able to control.  I’m trying to be patient.  I’m trying to be understanding.  I’m trying to be the bigger (responsible) person.  But deep down inside I really just want to get up in their face and scream at them drill sergeant style asking “what the fuck is your problem?”.

Maybe I’ve also changed.

Please don’t get me wrong, I love my guild.  I am amazed and grateful at what we’ve been able to accomplish this expansion.  I’ve poured so much into the guild, more than probably most people realize.  It’s hard to watch something you put so much of yourself into grow, evolve and change.  Everyone that takes their leave has left a footprint on the guild – and on me (ps I miss you so much, Chris, you have no idea).  Just as everyone that comes into the fold creates a new footprint.  Some will create bigger footprints than those that preceded them – and some won’t quite fill those that were previously left.  But those footprints will be created and will remain, nonetheless.

I’m worried.  No “server first” guild on our server has lasted the entirety of an expansion.  They’ve all fallen down and broken apart.  It was Rapture back in Vanilla.  Pinnacle in The Burning Crusade.  Anguish in Wrath of the Lich King.  We’ve always acknowledged that the candle that burns twice as bright often only burns half as long.  Monolith has always been the slow and steady turtle in the race – maybe we didn’t get server firsts but we always saw content and survived into the next expansion.  So that leaves me to ask, is this Monolith’s flash of light?  Are we going to burn bright and then fade giving someone else the opportunity to rise and shine?  I’d like to think that after six years, we’ve got some stamina and can survive the curse of the “server first” guild – but it’s not going to be easy, and it’s going to take true dedication.  Which is something I’m not convinced 100% of our raiders have,  and I have no doubts that there will be a need to recruit again as we continue through this expansion.

The truth is, I love the progression.  I thrive on it.  But the question I’m left with is: what cost am I willing to pay to have it?

Healing Heroic Nefarian (video guide)   2 comments

My next guide in the video series that I’ve tackled in this tier of content is Heroic Nefarian.  It may actually be the last one for a little while, because I’ve caught up with the content we’ve killed!  I’m still debating if I’d want to do one for our 10 man Heroic Al’Akir kills or not (would you all be interested in seeing this?).  One of the things that I realized while recording, is that there is so much going on in this fight, that the 10 minutes I have for the video is hardly long enough to cover it all!  So, there will be plenty of notes below 🙂

A friendly reminder that this video will be best viewed at one of the higher resolutions and and in full screen.

A few notes!

  • How many healers do you use?  We use seven.  For phase 1 we have two on the Ony tank (Priest/Paladin), two on the Nef tank (Priest/Druid) and three on the Construct tank (Shaman x2/Druid) – but note that those on the construct tank have also been known to toss a few heals to the Nef tank.  Once the constructs are down one of the shaman goes and assists with the Ony tank and the other two of us stay with Nef.  For phase 2 the platform with 9 people gets the third healer.  We usually break the platforms down as such: Druid/Shaman, Priest/Paladin, Druid/Shaman/Priest.  For phase 3 we have three healers on the kite tank (priest/paladin/shaman), two healers on the Nef tank (priest/druid) and two healers for the raid (druid/shaman).  However, if the Kite tank has bad resets, the Nef priest will go and assist with the kite tank.
  • As a healer, what do you do with your MC?  I will break it straight away so that I can get back to healing.  That being said, if the raid/tanks are in good order, resto shaman can gain stacks during the MCs and then Lightning Bolt back to a full mana bar quickly and easily.  (P.S. /jealous).
  • What happens if MCs are in line with a crackle?  This is tricky!  If the crackle will come before the MC’d player will reach their portal, stay MC’d!  MC’d players will not take damage from the crackle.  If you are MC’d and will hit your portal before the crackle hits and your life is not at 100%, break it and get back to the group ASAP to get healed.  Healers should also watch for players that are MC’d during a crackle in case they need an emergency heal before it hits as they come out of their MC.
  • What if the MC’d player’s life is really low?  Sometimes people DPS their allies.  It sucks, but it happens.  We tell our players that if their life hits 20% they need to break their MC ASAP so that we can heal them and they don’t risk death.
  • I forgot about Cone of Cold!  I know that I mentioned we used hunter traps, crippling poison and earthbind totems during to snare – however I forgot to mention that a mage can Cone of Cold as long as s/he isn’t empowered and provide and extra snare as well.  This works really well for when people have reached the end of the frost trap.
  • What about those pesky shaman totems?  Enhancement shaman and elemental shaman will use searing totem as part of their DPS.  If they get mind controlled, the totems will shoot at the raid (enhancement’s is more of a pain than elemental’s).  The best way to deal with this is simply to stomp the totems.  Also don’t use fire elementals in phases 1 or 3, as they will attach themselves to MC’d members of your raid.  Use them in Phase 2 with your Blood Lust.
  • Why is your pet attacking me!  Hunters, Warlocks, Frost Mages and DKs all need to make sure that their pet is on passive (get a pet attack macro so your pet doesn’t sit idle!).  If pets are on defensive they will attack members of the raid while your are mind controlled and wreak havoc!  DO NOT BE THAT PERSON!
  • Phase 2 Interrupts – The bane of this encounter.  Each platform needs two interrupters and back up interrupters.  Work out a rotation for interrupts before you pull.  It’s vital to communicate for a back up if you are a main interrupter and get cinders, or if you fat finger your interrupt early.  It’s equally as important that communication is clear and concise.  All we want to hear is “Help, Back, Next”, for example.  One missed interrupt can easily wipe your raid.  Once you get this worked out, phase two becomes much less of a pain in the ass.
  • Clearing Cinders -Explosive cinders can be cleared using Ice Block, Cloak of Shadows or a Pally Bubble.  You will not explode your platform by making use of these abilities, and it is good to save them for phase two when possible specifically for this reason.
  • Everyone can help their survival with Explosive Cinders – Almost every class has something that they can do to help mitigate some of their damage if they need to jump into the Magma for cinders.  If they are out of “oh shit” buttons, the should use their Tol’Barad trinket as they swim back to their platform after their cinders have exploded.  It is also vital that people do not jump around and flail in the lava, as it will cause you to generate magma stacks faster.  At 3-4 seconds out jump off the platform into the lava, wait for your cinders to explode, and then strafe back to the platform.  This will allow you to minimize how many magma stacks you receive – and will increase your survivability!
  • Phase 2 Healing – almost as bad as the interrupts!  Our healers will also provide clear, concise communication for dealing with cinders, especially if there is more than one person on the platform afflicted.  Additionally, we place a “back up” healer on each platform for emergencies.  Elemental shaman, Druids of any spec and Shadow Priests work very well for this.  Do not hesitate to call out and use DPS to keep your platform stable in a pinch.
  • Spec – I spec 3/3 Perseverance for this encounter.  The mitigation is extremely helpful for learning and has saved my ass on more than one occasion.  I strongly encourage you to consider picking up at least 1 or 2 points here if you don’t want to go with all 3!
  • Oh God, my mana!  I know I commented on it in the video, but I wanted to just say it again.  Really be conscious of your mana.  Take your time in phase 1 and 3 to get the raid topped up, and let your HoTs work for you.  Do not over-rejuv or you will be OOM faster than you can blink.  Innervate early and often, and try to squeeze in a concentration potion during phase 3 (you see me use mine in between crackles).
  • Beru, will you ever get that fourth Tranquility?  Some day! 😉
I hope that you found this helpful!  Please don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or feedback!

Posted May 20, 2011 by Beruthiel in Druid Healing, Hard Modes, Healing, Video

Healing Heroic Valiona and Theralion (video guide)   Leave a comment

I opted to tackle heroic Valiona and Theralion nest because, well, it’s all I had left outside of Heroic Nef – and I don’t have video for him yet!  I hope to have some soon, though.  Since the changes in some of the mechanics of this encounter, it’s become one of the easier heroics in this tier of content.  I am again primarily raid healing, so you will see me primarily focus on the raid while offering spot heals to the tank.

A friendly reminder that this video will be best viewed at one of the higher resolutions and and in full screen.

A few notes!

  • How many healers do you use?  We use seven healers for the encounter, although our first kill we used eight because that is who we had online.  I don’t necessarily recommend using eight healers, as the DPS check is still fairly tight, but if you think your DPS can push it with eight healers, it is an option.  The tank doesn’t get hit particularly hard, so we generally just have a disc priest focus on the active tank and ask everyone else to help with spot heals.  We only ever send one paladin down into the twilight realm, almost always a paladin.  We have a “backup” to go down with the tank in case the designated healer is selected for twilight meteorite.
  • Healing in the twilight realm.  The healer that goes into the twilight realm announces that they are heading down so that the three rogues can adjust a little closer to the middle of the room.  This way all three of them are in range of heals, and the healer doesn’t have to run around a ton trying to heal them.  The rogues can sustain their life pretty well on their own, but there are times between their cloak of shadows cooldowns where their stacks get very high, and they need extra healing to stay alive.  Once the healer’s stacks get high, they need to come up top or bubble them off.  Once they stack up again you will have to return to the rest of the raid.  Like anyone that ends up in the twilight realm, you need to avoid the orbs so you don’t blow yourself up.  Additionally, if you end up in the twilight realm during Valiona’s strafe, you still have to dodge it as it permeates the twilight realm.
  • Oh God, my mana!  It is very easy in this encounter to go rejuv happy and blow through your mana extremely quickly (you see towards the end of the encounter, this happens to me and I pretty much have to resort to nourish casts for a period of time, as that’s all I have mana for).  It’s important to keep your mana management at the forefront of your thoughts in the encounter so that you don’t become reckless (as I did!) and burn through it before the encounter ends.  Innervate early and often, don’t over-utilize rejuv and be sure to pot!
  • Tranquility Hax!  If you don’t want/need to utilize tranq during blackouts, you can do some really sick healing if you tranq while afflicted with engulfing magic.  However, for it to be more than just epeening (and oh god it is like Viagra for your epeen), your raid actually needs to be in need of that amount of healing – and, of course, you need to have engulfing magic line up with your tranquility cooldown.  I don’t recommend this strategy, but it can be very effective if your raid is in a rough spot while Theralion is on the ground and you end up with engulfing magic.
  • How do you handle engulfing magic during Valiona’s strafe?  It’s actually easier than you think to deal with this!  Pretty much anyone with engulfing magic during the strafe needs to move away from the raid by going up the stairs to the platforms that the twins start on before you pull.  This should put them far enough away from other members of your raid, while still allowing them the freedom to avoid the fire.  Additionally, keep in mind that if you aren’t a DoT or HoT class, you can simply stop casting to move amongst your raid without blowing anyone up!
  • How many times do you send a tank into the twilight realm?  Generally only once, the first time Theralion is on the ground.  However, if the tanks stacks don’t drop in time for a taunt, it’s not a big deal to send a tank down again.  We generally have the first tank take four stacks, the second tank take five (to send a healer down for the rogues), and then they taunt off of each other at four stacks each time after.
I hope that you found this helpful!  Please don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or feedback!

Posted May 17, 2011 by Beruthiel in Druid Healing, Hard Modes, Healing, Video

Monday Musings: Insanity Edition   4 comments

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.  ~Albert Einstein
Sometimes I wonder if Albert Einstein raided.  Surely he must have, because he seems so in tune with how I feel sometimes on raid nights.  Either that, or raiding really is rocket science and we just haven’t realized that fact as yet.
Read the rest of this entry »

Healing Heroic Omnotron Defense System (video guide)   Leave a comment

I’ve decided to tackle Heroic Omnotron Defense System with my next video guide.  ODS is probably one of the more difficult hard modes, largely due to the varying contingencies of the encounter as a result of the constantly changing combinations of constructs that you will have to deal with.  I am raid healing  again for this encounter, so you will see me work to keep the raid alive, helping with the tanks when needed.  I got courageous and actually edited in some re-recorded commentary – so when you hear my sound even more like a chipmunk, don’t panic!  I must have just had my mic further away from my mouth in the edited part 🙂

A friendly reminder that this video will be viewed best at one of the higher resolutions and in full screen.

A few notes!

  • You mentioned tanking in the middle – why?  We like tanking the active construct in the middle of the room, and moving the constructs out when they reached 50 energy to help prevent any accidental damage when the shields activate.  We also found that having the raid centrally located made dealing with Magmatron’s special easier.  The only construct this doesn’t pertain to is Toxitron, who we tank up by the statue in the front of the room, to keep him as far away from the raid as possible.
  • Stop attack Macros.  If your melee interrupters on Arcanotron have trouble with interrupting while Arcanotron’s shield is active, have them make a stop attack macro with their interrupt.  It’s always good to have your mages ready to spell steal if Arcanotron starts to build stacks while his shield is up.
  • Shadow Conductor and your Tanks and Melee.  During Shadow Conductor, any tank that isn’t with the raid will need to use a survivability cooldown.  Melee will need to move to the ranged and healers is they are not already with them.  If Arcanotron is active, ranged will need to cover interrupts while your melee interrupters are out of range.
  • Incineration Security Measure.  Since they reduced the damage on this ability, you can save your big raid cooldowns for Shadow Conductors, but don’t hesitate to use things like Aura Mastery to help mitigate some of the damage.
  • Barkskin.  Remember to use Barkskin if you are targeted by Magmatron’s flamethrower, during Incineration Security Measure, or during Shadow Conductor.
  • Tranquility.  Now that it’s 3 minutes, you should be able to use it 2 or three times in the course of the encounter.  It’s optimal anytime there is heavy raid damage, such as Incineration Security Measure or Shadow Conductor – but don’t hesitate to use it anytime the raid’s health looks pretty dire.
I hope that you found this helpful!  Please don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or feedback!

Posted May 3, 2011 by Beruthiel in Druid Healing, Hard Modes, Healing, Video

Monday Musings: Blackwing’s Bane Edition.   4 comments

Just a few quick musings today, as I seem to have run a bit short on time!

On Raiding

This past week has been fantastic on the raiding front.  We snagged kills on both Heroic Al’Akir (10 man) and Heroic Nefarian (25 man).  Not only that, but we somehow managed to pick up realm firsts for both kills, which is something I’m not sure we’ve really ever been able to claim before!  And I would be remiss not to say that it was somewhat exhilarating watching the spam flash on my screen.  Everyone was very excited about both kills, I just hope that it doesn’t go to people’s heads and we keep trucking along with clean, progressive play – egos firmly in check.

I do, however, have a few comments to offer on both of the encounters. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted May 2, 2011 by Beruthiel in Druid Healing, Hard Modes, Healing, Raiding

Healing Heroic Conclave of Wind (video guide)   3 comments

Conclave of Wind is the next encounter that I decided to tackle in video format!  For this encounter, I am on Anshal’s (nature) and Nezir’s (frost) platforms, so you will not see any excitement from Rohash’s (wind) platform in this video.  This video was taken pre-4.1, so you also won’t see any of the new toys or shorter cooldowns in use during the video.  I am primarily tank healing again for this encounter, so it will be similar in perspective to my Halfus video.  In addition to adding some notes below, I’ve also added a couple of notes into the video!

A friendly reminder that this video will be viewed best at one of the higher resolutions and in full screen, the notes added may not be readable at lower resolutions.

A few notes!

  • Beru, why are you on the boring platform?  To answer simply – because I put myself there!  But in all honesty, I lead our raids which from time to time does have an effect on my play.  I was concerned that I would not be able to give the appropriate attention needed for the wind platform while leading and would be a detriment to my raid over there.  We also have a very competent healing team, and I knew that any of them would be up to the task!  We usually use the a Holy Priest, Resto Shaman and Disc Priest on Rohash’s platform – but have also had a resto druid as part of that combination as well.
  • How do you druid the Rohash Ultimate?  Now, I have never had this responsibility, but as I understand it from the druid that does it regularly “it’s the easiest job in the fight”.  Once Rohash tosses you into the air, you pop into ToL and put a 3 stack on both yourself and your partner in crime (we use a shadow priest who can disperse during the ultimate, but rogues work well too), along with rejuvs and swiftmend as necessary.  As Rohash finishes his Ultimate and drops you, shift over into cat form to reduce your fall damage.  Your priest will be levitating themselves.  Wait for the calvary to arrive, and head back to Nezir’s platform.
  • Why two people for Rohash’s Ultimate?  The reason you want to place two people on Rohash’s platform for the ultimate is because it will mean there are more targets for him to select for Slicing Gale.  This in turn means that one person won’t have 7 – 8 stacks by the end of the ultimate and there is a more even, and survivable, split of damage during (and after) the ultimate phase.
  • When do you know it’s time to jump back to the wind platform?  With good communication!  There should always be communication about the status of the wind burst between those currently on the platform to those who are returning to the platform.
  • WoL on Rohash’s Platform.  While you are learning this encounter, it’s very beneficial to make sure that you have someone on Rohash’s platform uploading WoL so that you can determine exactly what is happening over there – as that is likely where most of your trouble with the encounter will be.  If you are on the Nature/Frost platform your parses will not pick up everything from Rohash’s platform.  We generally upload two different WoL each night we see this encounter: one from me, and one from Brade on Rohash.
  • Mind those frost patches!  Towards the end of Nezir’s ultimate, the raid should scatter so that your entire raid doesn’t eat a frost patch (as you see happen in the second ultimate that I am on Nezir’s platform).  You will inevitably lose folks if this happens.
  • What is your platform split?  We use the following:

Anshal’s Platform: 1 Tank, 2 Healers, 1 Frost DK kiter, 6 DPS (combination of ranged and melee).

Rohash’s Platform:  3 Healers, 7 DPS (combination of ranged and melee, basically people who can navigate the platform well).  One thing to note here is that to use 3 healers here, your DPS needs to be sufficient to bring the storm shield down.  If they are slow, no amount of extra healing will help.  You may need to consider 2 healers and 8 DPS on this platform, depending on your raid.

Nezir’s Platform: 1 Tank, 2 Healers.

I hope that you found this helpful!  Please don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or feedback!

Posted April 29, 2011 by Beruthiel in Druid Healing, Hard Modes, Healing, Raiding, Video