It was the best of raids, it was the worst of raids; it was the strat of wisdom, it was the strat of foolishness; it was the pull of belief, it was the pull of incredulity; it was the heal-y zones of Light, it was the void zones of Darkness; it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair; we had everything before us, we had nothing before us; we were all going directly to Heaven, we were all going the other way
Ok, so, apologies for the Dickens parody quote and from the wrong book at that (but honestly, Great Expectations was a terrible book). It just seemed appropriate for me. The weekend’s raiding was an emotional roller-coaster for me. Hopefully less so for my raid partners.
First off, we are not Serious Raiders. We are not a “raid guild”, nor is our run an official “guild run”. There are no apps and requirements but conversely Reversion and I have a free hand to manage things. Last week was our first raid at all, so it’s not like we have a bunch of super players who were ready the week after Cataclysm. I’m well aware that we’re weeks behind the world first but darn it, I am proud of my raiders because they try hard, they know their stuff, and they’re really pretty darn good. Gear will come; skill is, I think, there already.
So last week we raided only Friday and while we made a few token boss pulls in Bastion of Twilight, we were mostly there for the trash. Our dps was too low, our tanks’ gear was weak, the healers’ gear was lacking…. but we made the couple pulls and started to learn the basics of the fight. This Friday, we headed in with the determination to do some serious attempts.
First, though, I had to deal with my attendance issues. We’d had one raider tell me he just wasn’t feeling it, and wasn’t going to be raiding. One raider wasn’t levelled yet. One had horrible gear issues. One of my healers had to work until two hours past pull. And the other healer…. declined my invite.
Not a problem. I brought in another druid, Elia who has raided with us on her shaman or druid on occasion. I knew she was a solid player who’d have my back and heck, I’m always looking to expand my “healer bench”. Falahla, one of our two pro mages, got her hunter husband Ado to come along. He is a Serious Raider like we aren’t, but he was taking the week off so nothing kept him from trying boss pulls with us. We pulled in Grom’s paladin, and a warlock who is in the other guild raid (to be specific, the player is in that raid but usually on a different character) and went.
We two-healed the trash without incident. Well, there was the time we accidentally pulled the second patrolling group while we were working on the first. “Everyone out!” Reversion ordered, and we made it…. except for poor Whodowhat the warlock, who had just zoned in and got eaten. Ooops. Elia and I coordinated our Lifeblooms, we used crowd control like the pros we are (if there’s one thing I want to boast about in our raid, it’s our crowd control. Reversion is expert at setting the pulls, our raiders are great at carrying it out and keeping things sheeped/frozen/repented, and as a healer I love that)
So we started making attempts on the boss. We had dragons 1,2, and 5 active, going around from the left; that’s the one that gives the boss an attack speed buff, the one that makes the boss stack a healing debuff on the tanks, and the one that makes the proto-dragon have a Flame Barrage ability. (I think; Reversion will have to correct me if I’m wrong [Rev: I edited it] ) The obvious first one to be released was the one with the attack speed buff. Healers couldn’t handle the tank damage otherwise. Then we’d do the flame barrage one, so that we could see the incoming fire attacks and get out of it.
Well, long story short, the healing was brutal. Just brutal. We could keep either the tanks or the raid up, but not both. Around 9, our missing shammy healer came on and we asked the lowest performing dps to step out. He, being a good guy and knowing that his gear was terrible, graciously agreed and we brought in Chalandrae. That helped a lot.
Then one attempt, we get the second drake down and the healing gets so much easier. Everyone burns the boss. I throw some Wraths, Chalandrae fires off Lightning Bolts – and at 15%, he hits the enrage timer.
So we go back in, set up again, the tanks die. And again. We do some discussing and the healers all agree that the tanks felt squishier the last few attempts. We check their gear. Reversion looks ok – well, now; back at the start of the night, after doing all the trash and our first wipe on the boss, Ado asks in vent why exactly Reversion is wearing his fishing pole. Ooops. Logarithm’s gear has some pieces that are more dps-y than tank-y, and he definitely took more damage than Reversion. We decide that the good attempt, they just somehow used all their cooldowns perfectly and that’s so hard to replicate with our skill level (Rev: We do pretty well with cooldowns all the time but that first phase, if you have just one dragon out, is a real healing race with what the tanks take and what the raid is getting from the fire balls. That one try it just happned that what was falling from the sky, what the healers were casting, and what the tanks were poping, all dovetailed perfectly.) But it’s quitting time anyway, so off we go.
Now, during the raid I determined that I had made a serious error. I had forgotten to put Saturday’s raid on the calendar, and some of my raiders thought we were only going Friday. I had to talk to a few and assure them that we were indeed going Saturday and please not to go with a different group that was rumored to be going. But all day Saturday I was nervous. We were already having attendance issues and now….
Saturday afternoon I whispered with the healer who had declined our invite, asking him what was up, since I’d seen him online when we were. He said he didn’t think we were geared enough to down bosses; I said that we knew we had some weak slots, and one guy whose gear wasn’t that great and we asked to step out when we had a viable replacement and an obvious need for a stronger raider. He clarified that he meant tanks and healers needed “all 346 and one or two purples”.
Ok, I got mad. If you Wow-Heroes’d me (apparently a favorite of some guildies) you’d see I have a 316 trinket, because I haven’t got the heroic version of it yet and I prefer it’s spirit proc to any of the higher ilvl trinkets that I have. And 333 bracers because, darn it, there’s two pairs of heroic leather bracers out there and I can’t get either to drop. But I had just the night before gotten an epic staff from Bastion trash (it’s so cool; it looks like a Twilight Hammer symbol!) , we were gemmed, enchanted, and darn it we’d hit the enrage timer at 15% to go the night before. Which I pointed out.
Well, we got back after church and the other raid had started – but my core raiders were waiting for us in vent. I got us; seven of us. I added whodowhat, and then…. we needed another healer and a dps. Elia hadn’t come online, but Chalandrae had so I had a shammy healer, but after last night I knew we needed three.
Karius started asking around, and found us some people from her old guild; Squishi the feral druid, and Jhudara the shammy. So we were set. Two shammy healers and a tree sounded good to me!
We went and started making attempts, refining our strategy all night. Finally we settled on three tanking it – Squishi turned out to be a great bear as well as a cat – and releasing two drakes at once, burning them down, then killing the boss. It started being obvious that we could survive into the boss-burn stage with this. Once the healers OOMed and we wiped; I asked the shammies to drop their mana tide totems in a defined order and to call out when they were doing it, and that helped.
By the end of the night we were reliably into the final phase and hitting the enrage timer with 12% or less to go. Our best try was 9%. We discussed trying to two heal, or find a way to get more dps, but we came up against the end of the raid.
Now, this is why I titled my post “raid expectations”. That just seemed the theme of the whole weekend. That raider who didn’t think we were geared enough? The raid he went to didn’t do as well on the same boss; by 10 pm Saturday he’d rsvp’d for next week’s raid. Elia, who heals for the other guild raid, mentioned how much she enjoyed our expert crowd control usage. We’ve been having a discussion with some guildies who just don’t see CC as that important. It’s really funny but those guildies are invariably NOT healers.
Jhudora, the pugged in shaman, kept whispering me about how much she liked our raid for keeping Vent fairly business like and not having vulgarity and mean-ness in our raid chat. I admit, I was sort of taken aback, but then I remembered that that’s one reasonwhy I decided we should run our own raid; because that crude “humor” annoys me so much. I find a lot of women who run with us really enjoy the non-sexist, non-crude, affirming atmosphere. We often has 5 or 6 female players in our raid.
Well, I invited Jhudora to come with us next week too and hopefully she will – she’s exactly the sort of healer I want.
I did decide that the guildie who said we weren’t geared enough has a point (Rev: A small one. An average of one upgraded item per person and we likely would have had the boss down. The raid that person bailed on us to go to wiped hard and broke up early), and this week I WILL get exalted with Wildhammer for a couple epics there, we WILL upgrade some of Reversion’s gear, and we WILL work with our raiders to see a few upgrades, make sure they are enchanted, grind mats for flasks and feasts (we ran out halfway through Saturday night) and hit things really hard this weekend. I want Halfus to come down; then we’ll decide whether to push on or to visit Magmaw or Omnitron.
This already is a wall of text so I’ll save my discussion of what I want in and from my healing team for later this week. Until then, I’ll just note that this week I have 13 invites out on my raid invites – and 8 confirmed, 4 tentatives.
Oh, and does anyone know a good addon for doing calendar invites and stuff? I want to be able to do Fri and Saturday’s invites at the same time without the hassle…