Archive for the 'Raiding' Category

05
Feb
10

The power of Vuh’do

We have been at it again. Racing through Icecrown Citadel – 10 men (or well.. 10 strange people) on a mission. And as it is by now expected – from most, that is – we sort of waltzed through past the poor Saurfang who carried the body of his boy off.

Yes, there were no wipes, and few deaths on the way there. I still consider that an achievement, considering that we raid in more or less constantly changing group setups. But ok, everyone sort of knew what to do.

On we went, past Precious and Stinky, and into Festerguts little domain. And there, our oh so successful group was gutted.. repeatedly.

Yes, we had several wipes. Let us just assume that the first few (one or two) were actually caused by The Group™ needing the time to adjust to each other. I mean, it is quite a step up in difficulty from good old Saurfang (see how he is now good old, while only 3 weeks ago he was the bastard who randomly killed everyone ?) to Putricides twins. Right.. twins.. i am not even sure they are, but they sure look and sound like it.

But, that adjustment done, we still did not manage to get things done. At some point during the fight, usually when the damage output was high, one of the tanks would suddenly keel over, with me (the tank healer, as you may have guessed) staring at the screen, wondering who the hell ate all those nice heals i threw out.

Looking through the death log (a recently discovered function in Scada), i realized that the tank in question had not been hit with that many heals at the time. And that had me puzzled. I could not, for the life of me, understand where that long gap in healing had come from. I had been constantly tossing out heals.

Now, i have to mention that in order to survive the fight, i usually do not just spam Holy Light, but use a mix of Holy Light, Flash of Light and Holy Shock. This seems a lot more mana efficient while not really being that big a risk. Or so i thought before that fight. So, paging through the deathlog, i would notice gaps i could not quite explain. It was as if someone (or something) had eaten one of my healing spells before the tank got it.

Yes, i did look around at my companions. None of them seemed to have any inclination of staying longer than necessary staring at Festergut, and inhaling his definately foul-smelling gas. So it seemed very unlikely that they would do such a thing. I mean, everyone knew that once one of the tanks keeled over, the enrage timer would shorten significantly, as the other tank would take out the melee team once sufficiently prepared by Festergut.

And yes, Festergut himself somehow did not seem capable of such a feat – stealing a healers spell – come on. That cannot be true.

And suddenly it hit me. The spell had not been eaten, really. It had been redirected. And while Festergut was definately having his own part in this, the person to blame was really me, not him. After all, it was me who allowed him to do so, by the power of Vuh’do.

Again, i have to ask for a bit of indulgence while i explain this to those who are not familiar with it. Vuh’do gives me a very nice 6-mole window for my whack-a-mole game. (right, sometimes it is a 9 mole window, but lets not go there now). The 6 moles are, left to right.. the first tank. The first tank’s target. The first tank’s target’s target. And then the same for the second tank. And since my heals should always hit the tank which Festergut tries to smash through the floor into the rooms below, it seemed sensible to let him tell me whom to heal.

So, effectively, i had reduced my whack-a-mole to a one mole game. Just keep healing Festerguts target, and you are fine, i thought. Well.. that is WRONG. Now, don’t get me wrong, this has worked out rather well on a number of encounters, which is why i did not challenge the method until very late. But it is a fact that Festergut will turn to cast bad things at other people too. And since there is a significant delay between me summoning that nice, soothing holy light, and the light actually hitting my target, he has enough time to turn back and deliver yet another crashing blow to the poor tank well before the light reaches him. (talk about the speed of light.. not that fast now)

So, it seems that was exactly what happened. In healing his target, i accidently healed a random raid member, who undoubtedly also enjoyed being basked in this wonderful light. Still, in the end they hardly needed it as much as the poor tank did.

And ‘lo and behold – once i turned back and healed my two charges separately, always sending the light exactly where i wanted to, and not where Festergut tried to redirect me to, things went a lot more smoothly, and we finally had the long-expected victory.

Not by the power of Vuh’do – sometimes that power can tempt us to do foolish things.

What is the bottom line of this – There is a lot of power in Vuh’do. Or in any other addon which does the same. But with all that power comes the responsibility to think about what you use how and when. Sometimes, the true power lies in ignoring the special things they can do to you, and go back to the basics.

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29
Jan
10

De(s)cent

I was raiding again. And healing. And it was ok. Sort of.

A guild run through Icecrown Citadel. 9 fellows from my guild and i ran in, and some came out with shinies. So it should be a success. Why am i not feeling successful then ?

Actually, there are a few reasons for it. One was the end. We tried to take down Festergut, but he actually managed to gut our tanks with an amazing consistency. And no amount of healing could actually fix that. Of course, i was trying my best, but this time, my best was not quite enough. Not that it was just me. Overall, i have to say that the performance of the raid was ‘not quite good enough’. Not that there was anyone especially indecent. But it just was not enough. In the end, the reappearing inhabitants of the citadel and the late hour put an end to our attempts to survive being in the same room as Festergut.

But that was just one thing. For some reason, the whole trip was more a descent into some dark place. Or at least that was how it seemed.  The whole thing did not really start well either. A late cancellation and someone just failing to show up had us waiting inside the citadel for some time, while our RaidLeader™ tried his best to fix things. Several options were thrown around and i spent most of the time sitting back, idly commenting on things to one of my friends.

Once we were off, things improved. Lord Marrowgar fell apart with little effort, and Lady Deathwhisper was quick to follow, after a few close calls with her followers. Still, i felt rather dissatisfied with our performance there. Too many deaths to really claim to have won the fight smoothly, but the sheer power of the raid got it done in the end. So it was no surprise that the gunship battle went the same way, and soon enough we were standing up on the top, listening to Saurfang the older and Saurfang the younger hold their respective monologues.

On that note – why didn’t Blizzard introduce some method of checking that everyone present had already done this successfully – allowing for a slightly faster start ? Yes, it is a moving story, and i personally like finding such story arcs, but after the 20th time, it does sort of get.. well.. boring ?

But back to the raid. Once more, we managed to defeat the evil marks he threw out – despite him picking both healers for marks this time – and were allowed to pass through the door roughly 90 minutes after we had kicked Marrowgar in the non-existant shin. Overall, not a bad pace.

So.. things seemed to have gone well. But still i was out of it, and it did not really feel fun.

We ran through the fumes (with the almost obligatory comical death, this time provided by our Priest with the burning hoodie.  From there on, things went smooth until after Precious was put down. We did need to take a break, and this little healer went off to get something to drink, only to return to the high pitch blip which signals ‘low health’.

Apparently someone decided we might as well play with Stinky too, and this time, it was the dog who had the long end of the stick. Proves that even a grumpy healer is better than no healer. Or something like that.

Oddly enough, there was rather little joking about that – something which i consider unusual. Or perhaps it is just me being overly sensitive about that just now. Then came the usual 10 minute break after 2 hours raiding. It is a tradition in our Raids, and one which i very much appreciate – it gives people to do those things which would cause extended afk’s at inopportune moments else. And we joked how there was no such thing as a 5 minute break, neither in school, nor in college or university – people would always check the clock, see “oh, i was to go back 3 minutes ago, i’ll better finish my coffee and get going”. We pretty much agreed on that, so it was little surprise when the first ready check (the one to see who was back after the break, usually done one or two minutes after everyone was supposed to be back) yielded a few people being afk. But honestly, folks, what is the deal with going out of the instance, taking a port / ship / whatever to visit Ogrimmar, and then ask the raid to walk out to the stone to summon you back ?

I was honestly wondering what was going on. I mean, it was a 10 minute break. If you just take a hearth stone to Dalaran, race towards the Orgrimmar portal, click through it, and then head back to the airship to return to Northrend, you will not be back in Icecrown citadel before the 10 minutes are up. NOT Decent. Definately not. Having 9 people wait because you just HAD to check something on the AuctionHouse mid raid is a no-go.

From then on, things went down hill. We took several shots at Festergut, but it was always our tanks who ended up gutted, not the abomination. I could try to analyze what caused that, but that would really be beside the point. I would rather look at my mood during the raid. Obviously, the wiping did not really improve it. But neither did the waiting in the beginning, nor the waiting in the middle. And going through the Citadel with more wipes or near wipes on the random inhabitants in the halls than on the first four bosses (who actually should be the real challenge there) also did not really help to lighten things.

So what is the story behind this. It actually links back to Chastity, who commented on making an effort. There truly is no trying. That goes for signing up for raids.. for being on time.. for being on top of your game, even on the arguably easier intermissions between the big denizens of the citadel.. for being back in time after a break.. for all that. Last night left me with the feeling that too many people just did not do that. Or at least not consistently. Else, the run would have been a lot more fun.

But – making an effort is also true for your own mood. Looking back at this raid, i have to say that despite all these things, there is but one person to blame for me not feeling that it was fun… and that is.. ME.

You see.. WoW is like a mirror. You can loose yourself in it, and it can keep you happy, amused and all, but it will rarely give you anything you do not put in at the same time. You feel bored – well.. you will still feel bored while standing around wondering what to do. You feel moody – well.. sorry to say, but it is very unlikely that something from the game will actually lighten the mood. So, it does stand to reason that it is worth making an effort to be positive when logging into the game. Only then will the game be able to provide you with an afternoon or evening of fun.

27
Jan
10

Rambling raid

We raided again last night. And despite all attempts to mess things up, we were actually successful. Four bosses in 3 hours, with several breaks to replace people, long-winded explanations of things which happened quite differently – not a bad record.

Ok – this is Ulduar, we are speaking of, not ICC. Still – we had an inexperienced raid leader (me), a couple of people who were new to Ulduar. Perhaps even someone new to Raiding – i actually am not sure. We also had Mrs. Squish for tank. So, all that said, it still was a success. We had fun, we one-shot the golf caddy with 2 towers up (not a mean feat considering some had not caused it to fall apart ever before), and generally had far fewer deaths than i had feared with our setup.

Once it was all over (all too quickly, if you ask me), we sat back and looked at what we did / had. And one thing dawned on me.

Pulling in a highly overgeared tank (controlled by a very experienced and generally nice player, mind you) actually led us to the first trash wipe. Not that i want to blame the tank for it. But it did make me ponder. So i had a closer look at what happened afterwards. And i noticed a few things which happen if you have people like that in the raid

  • things get easier – no surprise, considering how things scale with equipment
  • deaths are more likely  – this was a surprise to me, but it is sort of easily explained.
    • Assuming the higher gear is on a  dps, chances are they will rip aggro from the poor tank. (Mrs. Squish.. remember ? Squishy, with an eye only for defense (to reach the cap) and just enough threat to keep a few baying hounds on her).
    • Assuming the higher gear is on a tank, chances are they will run in thinking “we can SO do this”, only to find out that the healers have trouble keeping the tank up, and the dps cannot quite follow-up. (Having the tank top the dps list is not necessarily good, you know)
    • Assuming the higher gear is on a healer, there is a significant risk of someone saying “I can SO soloheal this” (snottidyn anyone ?). And suddenly, the raid takes damage left, right and center. It is then that the healer may find out that sometimes you can fail at healing with an almost a full mana bar.
  • Tactics become less important. Many things can just be powered through with enough health / mana. Sometimes, some of the squishier people do not make it alive, but the raid itself prevails.
  • There are a few more ‘oh shit’ moments, but there are less ‘oh shit’ wipes.

Don’t get me wrong – i do  not want to point fingers at anyone. But i am challenging some of my own thoughts about how  going to a lower end raid instance could actually teach people about raiding. And i am wondering if it is right.

There is little doubt in my mind – during the explanations for the golf caddy, some people sat back yawning, thinking “let’s do this already, all these words are sort of pointless.. we know the drill”. And yes, they did know the drill. And most likely, they were right – given the setup, we probably would have made it without that many words. But we would have had a few people staring at their screen, wondering what the hell was going on, and also what hit them. But for me, those explanations were vital. On the one hand because they (hopefully) gave the new people a few pointers what to do and what not to do, and on the other hand because I needed to explain them.

Right.. that probably did not make sense for most people. So, allow me to mention something, which may (or just not) be known. I run these raids for three reasons.

  1. seeing  Ulduar – all of it. Including the bosses which usually are left out when taking a dive towards the (previously acclaimed) ultimate evil at the bottom.
  2. learning to lead raids. And believe me, it takes a lot of learning.
  3. introducing people to raiding.

So, doing those explanations is just as much for me, as it is for people who have not done a specific fight.

Now – that was the rambling part. And now (even more than before putting all this down) i am wondering if i am not missing a point. Yes, i can introduce people to raiding this way. There are quite a few things done differently when you are paired up with 9 or 24 others. But considering that we can (and actually did) muscle through complicated encounters by simply ignoring certain aspect which would take the raid and spread it on the ground in a thin film were it not so blatantly overgeared, it seems questionable if the introduction is that good.

On that note – it was still a lot of fun. Which proves, sometimes events with dubious qualities can provide a high amount of amusement.