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Archive for the ‘Raid’ Category

Satisfaction

Going into Friday night I knew we had to hit Firelands fast and hard. We had a full raid that night – Grom was out all weekend but I’d already arranged for his spot to be covered. My tank and healer setup was all in order. And with luck we wouldn’t have lag.

We were  a bit slow getting started but after just under an hour of raid time, maybe 40 minutes of actual trash clearing, we were ready to start Shannox attempts.  Our first few attempts had the first dog almost dying before something happened to wipe the raid – usually Log, our Shannox tank, dropping, or someone getting stuck in a prism.

I kept an eye on the healing as we went. Kerick and I were pulling some insane numbers, some fights we were close to 14k HPS each and staying ok on mana. Jhudora, our shaman healer, was struggling to get her numbers up. I know HPS numbers aren’t very meaningful but you can tell that when the third healer’s numbers are well below the others, something’s up. I kept an eye on it and made a mental note to do some research on shaman heals later.

After an hour of attempts we were starting to look good, consistently getting the first dog down and then working on the second dog and Shannox simultaneously. We had a discussion during the raid – someone said she’d always seen the fight done by burning Shannox to almost 35% and then burning down the dog rather than splitting dps like we were doing.  But it doesn’t matter whether you burn one then the other or split damage and it works better for melee if they can stay on Shannox the whole time  rather than running after the dog.

We got to the point where I knew any pull could be our kill. It was closing in on two hours of attempts – three hours of raiding total. I had hoped we’d get him down a little faster but this was our first kill after all and we were still learning.

We had a good attempt going.  Log kited Shannox a long way. We headed back toward the entrance – and I see a pack of scorpions come running at us. No way we can handle this in the middle of what we’re doing. They aggro on Kerick and she dies but then they reset. I’m still not quite sure what happened there, whether Addoe fake died or what, but hey, the scorpions were gone and I had a brez with Kerick’s name on it. She got up, we caught up on heals – and then somehow, the boss was dead on the ground.

I must say the kill itself was almost anticlimactic. I was almost surprised that he was dead – that happens sometimes when healing, I don’t really notice the difference between 10% and 1% until boom, the boss is dead.

We got one crafting ember and one ember for Falahla’s staff so she is officially on the way to the legendary!

After that we went and played with spiders. I have to do some thinking about the spider fight. I’m wondering if maybe I should make the paladin go upstairs to play…

Saturday we had a bunch of our regulars out, so Kerick’s friend Sorak brought a rogue over to play and we invited all our sometimes-regulars and Bocat as well. The plan was to just clear a bunch of T11. We made pretty decent time in BWD, took about two hours. One Chimaeron wipe due to a “talk to the robot not the gnome in the cage” pull accident and I think three tries to kill Nefarion.

Then off to BOT. We managed a trash wipe from face pulling, oops. And we swapped a few people in and out depending on fights. There were a couple people who wanted a Cho’gall kill on an alt rather than their main, like Reversion wanted to get it on his hunter so one of the melee agreed to bring in his tank for that fight. Jhudora wanted to kill Cho’gall on her priest but was saved to the first three on her priest. So that added a little time to our adventures. It was getting late when we got to Cho’gall and I didn’t think we’d have time to do Al’Akir. But that was ok, we were having a great time.

With all the people swapping in and out the roles got kind of confused so one of the healers asked for a role check. Naturally this was time for some of us to misbehave. I selected “Tank”, Reversion selected “Healer” and Log picked “DPS” all at once.  then we had some silliness as I manually fixed the wrong roles.

 
When Log is right, he’s right. It doesn’t happen that often (kidding!) so let’s give him his dues.

A fun weekend of raiding. Here’s to getting another Firelands boss or two this weekend – as soon as I figure out the roster, sigh…. Sorak I want your rogue in all the time I just have to figure out how to make that happen…

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Last night Rev and I took some alts to a guild raid that’s trying to get itself established. I went along as a paladin healer and he brought his hunter.

This raid has had ups and downs. It had a more stable roster a month ago and now it’s struggling. At this point there’s basically 5-6 guildies who raid on their mains, coming on alts; one or two guildies who only run this raid; and then they fill in where they can get it.

Last night, we had a role swap  – one of the tanks really wanted to heal instead, and the raid leader, who had been one of the healers, agreed to bring her new tank. So we had two people in roles they don’t usually do.  But we also had one long term tank, and all three of us healers heal on our mains in other raids.

We were short three dps though so the raid leader went to trade and picked us up two mages (making a total of three) and a shaman.  Then we got started.

When Magmaw took a few tries I knew it was going to be a long night. First we had to teach the new tank how to do it. Even when you’ve done Magmaw dozens of times as a healer or dps, learning how to tank him takes trial and error. Then we had people standing in the wrong place. After one bad try where we got three pillars of flame right by the raid, the pugged shaman started saying we should change our strategy to the everyone stay out at range strategy. Unfortunately, there were a couple problems. First, he was the one who had dropped the pillars in the wrong place by not standing in melee. Second, he wasn’t in Vent. He’d insisted he knew the fight and could manage without it, and we’d agreed to let him try. Third, this wasn’t his raid and here he was firmly stating that we needed to change our strategy.

And his final straw came when, as the raid leader was inspecting him and realizing he had no gems and enchants, he started calling out the frost mage for not having redeployed his pet after the wipe yet.

We removed him, and just then a guildie showed up, an enhancement shaman who had run with us before. She’s a good player and I felt good about her coming.

We finally killed Magmaw then moved over to Omnitron. Same thing. It took some learning.  The healer team was not communicating and I feel like our heals were not spread around quite right. We had me on a paladin, a druid, and a holy priest. I was doing way too much raid healing and letting tanks drop. But when I switched to just tank healing it seemed like the raid died.

One attempt we got to under 2% before the last person died. So exasperating! But we healers just had gone out of mana. That attempt took over 11 minutes. The dps was just not there… Reversion was pulling something like 17k and was at least 4.5k higher than anyone else there.

And there were other issues. One of our pugged mages could not seem to switch targets; I had to cleanse her every time Toxitron was up because she didn’t switch fast enough. People didn’t run away from slimes. People didn’t run away when they had Lightning Conductor. Yes, guild members and myself were making mistakes but the puggers were way worse than we were.  It felt to me like most of our mistakes – mine and my guildies – were due to knowing the fight but not being on our main. Whereas the puggers just didn’t know the fight.

On the other hand, even those who know the fights don’t always know every bit. One of my guildies whispered me saying that she wished the green cloud wouldn’t get dropped on the mana puddle all the time. I asked if she knew that the green cloud doesn’t CAUSE damage, it just increases damage taken. She said no, she always ran away right away because her GTFO addon was yelling at her.

I bit my tongue. That’s the number one reason I won’t use an addon like GTFO. It tries to substitute for knowing the mechanics of the fight with a simple “get out of this” when there’s way more to it than that. There are many times in Omnitron where you can quite safely stand in that green cloud. And many times when you can’t. Knowing the difference is really key.

Anyway, we finally killed them, went downstairs, and pulled Maloriak. We executed the fight perfectly, stacked up, spread out, killed adds, interrupted stuff. And we hit the enrage timer with 15% still to go on the boss. Ouch.

One of the dps – one of the pugged mages – wanted to try again even after we explained that this wasn’t happening. I’m not sure how he expected to pull that much more dps out. But it was quitting time anyway and most of us could do the math.

Anyway the whole thing confirmed to me that A. I really really like my Fri/Sat raid group. They’re a great group of people, fast learners, and actually listen. And B. I would rather bring someone’s alt, who knows the  fight but maybe isn’t great with the class, than someone who doesn’t know the fight at all.

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Twice in the last week I’ve run something where I was on an alt, and there was a resto druid in the group. First was a raid night where I was healing on my paladin, and the other guild brought a resto druid. And then last night I took my Spriest to ZG and the healer was a resto druid.

Both druids complained about their mana regen and their weak heals. Both specifically said “resto druids are broken” or “resto druids need X” (bigger heals, more mana regen).

Both druids were running specs with 38 or 39 points in resto, and pvp gear.

I literally facepalmed when I saw the first druid, with 39 points in resto and two in balance. Couldn’t believe what I was seeing. So I whispered her, mentioning that 3 points in Furor really help with mana. “I don’t usually have mana issues” is what she said. Which might be true if she doesn’t raid, but she was having mana problems that night.

The healer last night had the three points in Furor and the rest in resto. I asked her; she said she pvps in the same spec so she had taken pvp talents. But she was also wearing pvp gear. Including a Boomkin tier piece. She had one T11 resto pvp and one T11 boomkin pvp piece, so she wasn’t even getting a set bonus.

Look, seriously, it’s fine to run a suboptimal spec, if you want to pvp in your same spec. It’s fine to wear unoptimized pieces.  But gosh darn it, don’t complain about the class needing something when you’re the one who is  doing it wrong.

I had mana issues. I stacked spirit, and learned to use my trinkets and Innervate right, and my mana issues went away. I had issues with my heals being ineffective, so I learned how to heal with our Cataclysm toolset. I love my druid now. I can crank out meter topping numbers without going OOM. I’m a valuable part of our healing raid team. And it wasn’t that hard! I could just have googled some spec, stuck it in without even looking at it, and been doing better than those two druids.

Resto druid healing isn’t a faceroll, but we’re in a really good position right now. Viable at tank healing, still the best at raid healing, we’re an asset to any team.

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Friday night we went straight for Bastion of Twilight, as planned. Logarithm’s still off playing Army Men so we brought the new tank who joined the guild last week, Sirius. He worked hard all week and got a lot more epics.

We started right on Cho’gall  – well, we had to kill trash first of course. But we started settling in to the fight. Everyone knew what they were doing. DPS switched to the adds, healers had a good balance.

We worked hard for two hours and then one attempt we got solidly into Phase 2. His health ticked down…. and down… and down. We started losing people. We called for the shaman to pop and keep killing him. He was at 1%…. then less…. then the last of us died. At .6%. That was a heartbreaker.

We did a few more tries that night but were getting sloppier so made the call to go to BWD and kill some farm bosses. We had a couple tries on Magmaw, then one shot Omnomtrom, then failed twice on Maloriak. It was pretty clear that the hard work on Cho’gall had made us tired and sloppy.

Next night, just before raid time I realized my third healer couldn’t come and we looked around for options. Kerick and I briefly discussed two healing it, but while I knew we could manage phase 1, I was really worried about phase 2. Fortunately we were able to get hold of Sharelore who runs with us a good bit. She agreed to bring her priest and we headed back.

This evening, our dps seemed even better but Sirius wasn’t surviving as well. After a good few wipes, we asked him to step out and brought in another guild tank. He did so pretty graciously and we got to work.

Things were a lot more stable with the new tank. He didn’t need as much healing and since he was a druid, his dps was pretty insane. He could even go cat when Reversion had the boss and get some real numbers in.

It took a few tries to settle in. Then we had an attempt that was working beautifully. Cho’gall was up on his throne calling eyeball adds. Our dps stunned and killed them. Our healers chained cooldowns. Both tanks took turns  using their Tranquilities. I died. Other people died.

Then Cho’gall died.

The achievement spam was awesome; not just the kills for all of us, but the guild achievement too!

We lined up for screenshots but none of mine seem to have saved. I don’t know what’s up with that.

For the rest of the night, we were on a high. Reversion stepped out and let Sirius come back and we went and one shot Maloriak, Atramedes and Chimaeron – technically Chimaeron was a two shot, but the first attempt, someone accidentally pulled before the robot came up. So I’m not counting that.

Everyone in the raid really stepped it up this week. Some of our dps added 4k to their average. Most everyone got new gear or used Ask Mr. Robot to optimize and it really showed. Our next progression is going to be Al’Akir; we went and tried him and got into phase 2 twice in our four attempts. I don’t think we’ll have as much trouble with this guy.

But anyway, after a lot of thought I’ve realized why I really like Cho’gall. It’s the best fight I’ve done this tier for emphasizing the the raid as a group. Chimaeron is about your healers being good. Other fights are about positioning. Omnomtrom is about DPS switching targets. Maloriak is all on the tanks. Halfus – well it’s a little different every week; the first minute is a healing check, then it’s a burn fight.

Cho’gall requires tanks to trade swaps perfectly, to keep the boss positioned right, and to handle adds that have to be very carefully placed. A good tank will use all his cooldowns many times on that fight.

Healers have to coordinate who heals whom, who runs around healing the raid during the adds phase and who stays with the melee. In Phase 2, stacking cooldowns is really important.

Ranged DPS have to switch to adds, burn them down, and get back to the boss. Slowing and killing the Blood of Cho’gall adds is absolutely key to the fight.

Melee really get to shine in phase 2 with the eyeball adds. A good melee-er can keep one stunned while he slaughters it. They can help a lot with the worshipping too, although we found a good trick this time; have the whole raid stack carefully and then set our fire mage just a little farther out. If he wasn’t mind controlled, his Blast Wave could break out the affected people instantly. It meant we really didn’t have to think about worshiping when the adds weren’t out.

And of course, everyone has to not stand in bad. I thought our raid is really good at this, and our Cho’gall attempts showed me that I’m right. We almost always went into phase 2 with most people at 10 or less corruption. The adds tank usually had the worst time with corruption because he’s flirting with those stupid puddles.

So, I really think this fight shone as an example of a really good raid fight. I hope we have a lot more like that in 4.2!

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Raid Goals and Milestones

I love being co-raid-leader with Reversion of our raid. I think the job is too big for one person to manage, honestly. I handle logistics and back end stuff; he gives fight strategies and leads Vent. Behind the scenes we spend a lot of time discussing the raid, our raiders, goals and priorities.

This weekend we extended our BOT lockout to work on Cho’Gall. Until he’s down, he is our progression boss. Friday night we brought in a brand new to the guild tank, a healer we haven’t run with in ages, and after two hours we had back to back attempts where we got below 25% and into phase two. After that we went and killed Magmaw/Omnom/Maloriak, to get a head start on Saturday.

Saturday we headed back with my preferred healing team (me, Kerick the paladin, Jhudora the shaman) and tried Cho’gall again. We’re getting really good at getting to phase 2. It’s going to take time to get through that and down Cho’Gall but I know we can do it. After we put in about 9 wipes on him we did our Four Winds kill  – I still enjoy that place even now that we have it completely on farm – and then to BWD to finish off there.

We one shot Atramedes. I believe that’s our third kill of him as a raid but it really feels like we’ve got that one on farm. We can handle a little sloppiness, we aren’t having issues with sound, people know what to do.

Then we went to my archnemesis Chimaeron. We discussed cooldown use and healing assignments and started. First attempt I did terribly. I managed to forget what group I was healing and I’d stacked the cooldowns wrong too. We died at the third Feud. We came back, I fixed my attitude and readjusted what cooldowns we use, and we killed that – creature.

I was actually surprised but this is the first time we’ve had my favorite heals team in there in a long time. Add in the new shaman cooldown, plus we had a paladin tank so we had a cooldown there too, and the fight just wasn’t bad. For the record, first Feud we used my Tranquility. Second Feud we used the Spirit Link totem. Third Feud we used Rev’s Tranq, my tree, and the pally cooldown.

So we’re making good progress but we have a lot of work to do to stay progression minded. For the next…. well, more than likely it’ll end up being all summer, we have people out. I’m working on that. The guild just invited a very cheerful new tank who I’m hoping to lock down as an alt for us since we can offer him a guaranteed slot for basically the next two months.

4.2 is on the horizon somewhere and Rev and I are talking about our goals. Our raid is not a heroic mode raid. We’d like to go back and do some heroics once we down end bosses but that’s just not quite where we are right now, or we’d be more than 9/12 regular right now. So when Firelands comes out we’re going to concentrate on getting new content down. We will finish all of the 4.0 bosses though.

See, as a raid I want us to put together the caster staff. I’ve talked to a few raid members who’ve agreed that Falahla, our Arcane mage, is the  choice for that staff. It represents to me a great goal for us as a raid. We have to clear the 4.0 content. Then we have to get 4.2 bosses on farm to get the shards. And at some point we will have to kill Ragnaros.  I have no idea yet what sort of timeline we can expect to try to live up to but if we do it before the NEXT content patch I’ll be happy.

I know a lot of raids are hurting right now. The summer slump hits us all hard. But with both short and long term goals in mind, it motivates me to get the work down to keep our raid running. We have 6-8 people who will attend unless they are physically unable to. That means even if we have to pug a blind walrus and a melee hunter, we will run our raids every week. It’s a very reassuring thing to know, as a raid leader, that unless you get really really unlucky you won’t have to replace more than two people any given night.

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Alas had a great post this week about setting up an addon for Suicide Kings loot. It got me thinking about our raid, and our loot system – or lack of one. See, I run as master looter but we don’t do dkp or any of that. We don’t even do Loot Council (I think Loot Council for 10 mans is silly anyway)

Officially our loot rules are “Need before greed, upgrades before side grades, main before offspec, don’t hog the loot”. That leaves a lot of wiggle room but so far it’s worked really well. I can’t tell you how many times two people have rolled on loot, only to have the winner say, “Hey, wait, your bracers are way worse than mine, give it to her instead.”

Or when the other husband and wife team were playing clothies and I’d get a drop, I’d just give it to Falahla anyway and let her take care of it.  I wonder if that’s why Ado levelled another hunter for us?

Have we had some drama? Sure, but the drama has come from two sources:

1. BOEs – when no one in the raid needs them, what to do? Someone always has an alt who wants them. Someone else has an auction spec that could use the cash. Lately I’ve taken to just having everyone roll and whoever wins can do as they like.

2. Alts. We have a fairly stable group of raiders but there are always roster changes. Log can’t make it? Ok bring Kalyon instead of Kerick and bring a different healer in. Now we’ve got a different plate wearer taking those drops, and maybe another int mail person who wants loot that would otherwise go to a raider’s offspec.

Here too the rule is simple: if you came in for us, you get to roll on loot. Again, this can cause drama, but all of our raiders are decent people, grown adults who understand that when it comes down to it we’re here to have fun.

But since I am loot master, I can if necessary be the petty dictator. Let’s say there’s that last point on my list – don’t hog the loot. People are going to have different thresholds of what that means. I keep a running track every night of who has gotten what. If, say, a healer has gotten two drops and a trinket  drops I’ll remind them of that and ask the other healers to roll first. This only applies to main spec! I’ll never punish someone for getting lucky with offspec rolls.

I could see needing a more formal system if we had less reasonable folks around, or there was any tendency to loot drama. In a ten man, though, the raid leader is able to know what her raiders need for drops and head off the drama before it comes. And my problem with most systems is it rewards the “regular” raiders at the expense of people you bring in to help one week. Those are people who are going out of their way to help you, and getting nothing but Valor points for it.

Honestly?  If people demanded a formal loot system, I’d suggest GDKP. Then at least if you don’t get loot you get gold.

I’d love to hear from other ten man raiders – do you use DKP varients, open rolls, loot council, or does it all vanish into the raid leader’s wife’s bags never to be seen again? <whistling>

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Tree of Life. Before Cataclysm, it was the Resto druid’s hallmark. Now it’s a super cooldown, the equivalent of the Hulk smashing out of his wimpy body to smash something. Even more so if you’re not running with the Glyph of No Thanks Pedotree. Lasts 25/31 seconds depending on talents.

Tranquility. With patch 4.1, Tranquility got a big boost for Resto druids. Instead of being a button you forget about, or hit accidentally and then curse, it should be a part of our toolbox that comes out every fight. Like Tree of Life, we want to time it to get the most use out of it. Lasts 8 seconds.

Right now these are our big cooldowns as Resto druids. There’s a lot of discussion over whether these are enough, since they aren’t particularly tank healing oriented or obvious life savers.  Personally I really like them. I enjoy feeling like a Resto druid isn’t just interchangeable with a Holy Priest or Resto Shaman.

To get the most out of our cooldowns, we need to time them right. With the reduced cooldown on Tranquility we can use either of them twice in a raid fight, at least once in any instance boss fight. The cooldowns are short enough we can use them on trash without worry that they’ll be down when we need them. So when is best to use them?

First, any time you want to hit Tranquility, toss out Wild Growth first. The HOT will trigger our mastery and get more healing out of the spell.

Hit Tranquility when three or more party or raid members are hurt, or time it to go off with a big boss ability that’s going to do lots of AOE damage.

For Tree of Life, throw it in one of two situations: First, to straight up boost your heals. Second, if you’re running low on mana, pop TOL and throw Lifebloom around. When you get Clearcasting procs, toss out an instant cast Regrowth. Don’t waste your time with cast-time spells in this mode, or Rejuv, but do throw out WG as it’s stronger than it used to be.

I’m not a theorycrafter, I don’t do heroic raid fights and we’ve yet to down end bosses so take my advice for what it is, but here’s when I find myself getting best use out of both cooldowns:

Magmaw –  Use Tranquility after a Molten Tantrum to get people up. Works beautifully if you’re using the all-stack-in-melee strat, still works if you’re kiting but you have to time it. Use TOL if you’re kiting worms or something else that requires movement. Remember if you’re in TOL and the head’s down and you don’t need to heal/regen mana, throw Wrath. It’s mana free in TOL and you might as well help out.

Omnotron – Use Tranquility when Magmatron does Flame Jets. Use TOL during Poison Protocol, especially if you’re being chased.

Maloriak – use Tranquility either during the red phase when the flame goes off, or during the green phase. We usually have more damage in red. Use TOL whenever you like but make sure it’s back up for P2. That phase can be movement intense and tanks can take spiky damage.

Atramedes – Time Tranquility for the ground phase at a point where you won’t have to avoid discs. Our raid stacks the ranged up in one spot so it’s great. TOL might be a good choice for air phase but honestly we don’t usually have much damage on that phase. Save it for spiky damage or if you get low on mana.

Chimaeron – coordinate with the other healers. You’re going to want to do both during Feud. I’d advise using Tranq the first time, TOL in combination with another healer’s cd the second time, and Tranq might be off cooldown the third Feud. Not really sure. If TOL’s back up in phase 2, pop it and use Wrath. You should be out of mana by then and you’re not healing anyway so go nuts with your tiny dps.

Throne of Four Winds – use TOL when you’re healing on the green/adds platform. Use Tranquility on the blue/ice platform during the aoe damage phase. If you’re on the wind platform, take a nap.

Halfus – pop TOL ten seconds after the pull. Keep people alive. When it fades, use Tranq after the Lifeblooms expire. That should get you past the damage intense part. You’ll have both back later so use them wisely.

V&T – use Tree on the second dragon. Tranquility can work for healing after a Blackout if another healer is dispelling and your timing is good.

Twilight Council – TOL in phase 1 at some point when you’re moving and there’s damage. Tranq in phase 2 after the raid gets hit by a big ability. Try to have both off cooldown for Phase 3. Blow Tranq first to get people nice and high, then use Tree to keep the fight going as long as possible.

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