KSM, Baby!

A lot has happened during my short hiatus. On a personal front, I moved back to school, settling in for another semester of college. On a news note, Blizzconline happened, with the subsequent info dump that follows every Blizzard convention. As important as the second event was (and trust me, I have blog posts in the work for a lot of the info we learned there!), something even more momentous has occurred in the interim of my mini blogging hiatus.

You see, dear readers, I achieved the Shadowlands Season One Keystone Master Feat of Strength. Along with four other intrepid guildies of mine, we successfully timed every single dungeon at a +15 or higher!

How Did We Do It?

For a couple weeks now, I’d been pushing solid keys with a wide constellation of guildies, mostly ending up in the +12 to +14 range. We were getting incredibly solid at the mechanics to the point where our mistakes were becoming more group comfortability issues rather than lack of knowledge about the dungeons. For anyone who’s pushed a lot of keys, you probably can guess what I’m speaking of – knowing who interrupts first, who activates particular mechanics, who shot-calls what, the like. One of my good friends recommended that a number of us who were running a lot of keys should group up and try and push for all of our +15s on time. I was completely down.

After a bit of schedule organization, our key team was set. For a tank, we had a Nightfae Guardian Druid. For a healer, we had myself on my Kyrian Holy Paladin. For DPS, we had a Venthyr Fury Warrior, a Nightfae Shadow Priest, and a Necrolord Destruction Warlock (our Warlock actually already had the KSM achievement from pugging but he graciously offered to help out). A good spread of stuns, brezzes, interrupts, and other utilities but not the most on-meta group set up. We did not have a Heroism (relying instead of the bongos I toted around) nor a wealth of immunes. However, what we did have was coordination and determination.

The first week we met, we timed our first +15 together, a Necrotic Wake that we thoroughly smashed. Without any major issues or wipes, it was clear that we had the stuff we needed to push through these dungeons – we had huge DPS, strong mechanics knowledge, and solid communication. We started making plans for the next week, since we knew it would be a solid week to push. Fortified, Grievous, Sanguine, and Prideful? Sounds like a winner for our group comp!

The push week came and we timed our second +15. Then our third. Then our fourth. Each key we got, we successfully pushed over, sometimes even two chesting them. We zoned into Sanguine Depths on a +16 level, one of the harder keys to push over, and blew through it. There was a stressful moment where I died about 3% off of the kill on the last boss but the surviving DPS and tank managed to push through the final bit of damage to net us the timer. We were on a roll.

Monday rolled around and we found ourselves only two +15s away from the achievement. Plaguefall and De Other Side. Definitely two of the more difficult dungeons but not anything spectacularly unachievable. The only problem was, we only had access to one +15 Plaguefall key. We attempted to pug a De Other Side key from the group finder while we waited for our Warlock to arrive (he graciously offered to sit should we find a group for that since he already had the achievement) but it was to no avail. Determined to at least get one of the two last keys completed, we zoned into Plaguefall.

The Plaguefall +15 went incredibly smoothly. There were a few deaths – there are always a few deaths – but we progressed through without any major wipes or complications. We even managed to try a new strat or two, preparing for the day when we might push keys higher than +15. Then, we arrived at the moment of destiny. Every time you successfully complete a Mythic+, you are rewarded with a new dungeon key for one of the other dungeons this expansion. With the key completed, our keyholder opened his rewards chest. We had a 1/7 chance of proccing the dungeon we wanted. Seven paths for fate to choose.

We procced a +16 De Other Side.

The Keystone Master Achievement would be ours!! Hurriedly, we made our way over to Ardenweald. The tank and I talked strat very quickly, almost too excited to delve into our typical pre-routine of poring over every single pull. We opted to push the key on the +16 level rather than dropping it automatically as a fail-safe in case we botched the run. Then, with a bit of nerves and a lot of excitement, we started the key.

De Other Side has historically been a very difficult key because of how tight the timer is. The instance itself is huge and all the running around, double-backing, and RP makes the dungeon quite difficult to complete in time. Many groups, ours included, have taken to pulling huge groups of trash together to help speed up the key. The first and second pulls are like that, often serving as the unofficial test to see if the key was even doable. We passed the test with flying colors, only netting a few scattered deaths but a lot of gained seconds.

The rest of the dungeon passed in a blur. We tore down Hakkar in a matter of seconds and flew through the Mechagon wing as well. The Enraged Mask mob gave us just a touch of difficulty, but nothing close to the full party wipe needed to stop us. Before long, we were dashing up to the very final boss, a comfortable 6 minutes of time left in the key. This was it. The moment we were all waiting for.

The Mueh’zala fight is quite exciting as there is a moment where the group can opt to split four-ways, each teleporting to a different platform to kill a mob and then release a totem. If you successfully kill all the mobs and click all the totems, you can finish the fight before that mechanic ever comes up again, thereby cutting the boss fight time down significantly. In past runs with past groups, we’d all run into difficulties properly executing that portion – there’s a lot of moving parts that could go wrong. Luckily, the fates were with us that day.

We did the boss’s hokey pokey. We turned ourselves around. And when it came time to kill the adds and click the totems, we knew what it was all about. With Bwonsamdi cheering us on, the five of us successfully brought Mueh’zala to his knees. Achievements flashed, mounts dropped into collections, and we knew. We had done it!

What’s Next?

Now that I’ve successfully gotten KSM, the pressure to keep pushing keys as fast as possible is off. I definitely want to see how high we can go, and my group and I have all but resolved to keep running together every week, but now our focus is primarily on helping the rest of our raid team achieve their own KSM. A swirly death elemental mount is pretty cool and all, but you know what’s even cooler? When your whole guild is riding one!

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