Tomb of Sargeras Recap

It’s Antorus Eve guys! Come tomorrow’s reset (for US realms, at least), the next raid tier will be upon us, bringing us new baddies, mechanics, and, of course, loot! However, before we entirely dive into the next raid, I want to take a moment to reflect upon the retiring giant, Tomb of Sargeras.

While the Tomb of Sargeras did perhaps have one too many soak mechanic and five too many RNG raid-wiper, I have to say, it was a pretty entertaining raid. The instance pretty adeptly avoided the issue of being ‘all demon’ like it threatened to be when announced. Each boss fight was different enough from each other so as to be memorable and independent. There were some spots that were perhaps tuned too tightly and a few mechanics that were incredibly unforgiving, but all in all, I thoroughly enjoyed my time closing the portal to Azeroth.

However, no raid review is complete without a blow by blow analysis of each raid boss, right?

Goroth

Difficulties Downed: Normal, Heroic, Mythic
Best Known For: Nothing. This boss was a literal cakewalk
Attributes: +5 to Bowling
            +3 to Hide and Seek 
            +2 to Nap Time

I’ll be honest, Goroth was the boss I have the least number of kills on. Not because he’s super hard or anything – actually, quite the reverse is true. My raid team would often kill him before I was even able to get online to raid, that’s just how simple the mechanics were. While I did enjoy bowling for spikes the few times I did fight this boss, overall, he was pretty forgettable. But, as the first boss in an instance, that is just the perfect warm up.

Demonic Inquisition

Difficulties Downed: Normal, Heroic
Best Known For: Annoying Target Switching (even I, as a healer, knew this)
Attributes: +4 to Dispel Mechanic 
            +2 to Belly Realm 
            +3 to Torment

After the faceroll that was Goroth, Inquisition was definitely a rude awakening. There was some sort of interrupt thing (look, I heal this stuff, ok?) and an annoying target swap along with the classic balancing act of accruing Torment vs DPSing, a lot to juggle while also getting your Calcified Quills out of the raid group so you don’t spike your friends up into the air. There wasn’t anything particularly unique or compelling about the bosses’ models or dialogues, which all in all, made the whole encounter rather bland. Definitely not one of my favorites.

Harjatan

Difficulties Downed: Normal, Heroic
Best Known For: HUG THE TANK
Attributes: +7 to Murlocs 
            +4 to Water Puddles 
            +3 to Stacking

While he wasn’t the most original of bosses, I quite liked the Harjatan fight (except for the fact that the druid and shaman healers on my team always whooped my butt on the meters with all the stacking). I liked the fact that everyone took one of the boss’s massive blows to the face, don’t ask me why, I just liked it. The panicked spreading during the frosty bit too, was awesome fun from a healer perspective to drop some massive numbers, before we all got back together to hug the tanks. It was a simple fight, for sures, but gratifying!

Mistress Sassz’ine

Nickname: Mistress Splashyfrass
Difficulties Downed: Normal, Heroic
Best Known For: Get in the Green Beams! and The Best Healing Trinket of the Tier ™
Attributes: +13 to Save Your Friends 
            +5 to WHALE 
            +2 to Run around and Panic

I will be honest: the first couple times I did this fight, I absolutely hated it. The mechanics were completely unforgiving in comparison to what had come before. The Hydra Shot damage was immense and very, very spikey. And there was just so. much. going. on! But, as time went on and I got better at the fight, I found myself falling in love with Mistress Splashyfrass. As a holy paladin, I discovered an awesome rhythm to the fight which resulted in that being one of my best bosses performance-wise. The chaos in the last phase was insane, but manageable, and the only person I could kill was myself. And did I mention, there were whales??

However, one piece of loot that the Mistress drops deserves a paragraph all to itself. Sea Star of the Depthmother. For every single healer on our team, and perhaps in the universe, this was the trinket to have. The proc rate was insane, and often off of frequently used spells. It was god-mode. And, unfortunately, I had terrible luck rolling for it. I spent months farming for this trinket. Months. I saved a coin every raid reset, and would consistently pug it when our raid was progressing elsewhere in the instance.

And then finally, one fateful evening, I got it to drop.

(Actually, I didn’t at all, a friend who was with me on the run did and he passed it to me.)

But I got it.

And from that day, everything changed.

Just like the beloved Cake! from last tier, I suspect I’ll be hanging onto my Sea Star for many moons to come.

Sisters of the Moon

Difficulties Downed: Normal, Heroic
Best Known For: Being a Single Target Fight, Despite Looking like a Multi-Target Fight
Attributes: +3 to Moons! 
            +4 to Absorption Shields 
            +18 to Kill Your Framerates

The room of this boss was gorgeous. Hands down, I think this was one of the prettiest rooms of the instance. The floor… the floor was a moon that changed throughout the fight! Unfortunately though, this beautiful room very quickly would kill my poor ol’ computer, which meant I frequently did this boss with 15 frames per second or less. Not exactly the best experience! On a mechanics level, the Sisters had a healthy balance of fun mechanics and finicky ones. Clearing your stacks of Moon or Shadow debuffs on the floor was fun in theory but bothersome in practice. The pink beam of “Split this with your friends!” was very rarely split with friends because of when it came up in the fight. On the flip side though, I really enjoyed the absorption shield that needed to be healed off (really, any healer specific mechanics are a lot of fun!). Any excuse for big burst numbers is a win in my book!

The Desolate Host

Difficulties Downed: Normal, Heroic
Best Known For: Split Realms
Attributes: +2 to Adds 
            +1 to Ancient Night Elven Burial Ground 
            +6 to The Hokey Pokey

While this boss was a total maze to get to (and a pain to leave from), I quite liked the Desolate Host. The change in mechanics from Normal to Heroic completely changed the way our raid team did the fight, making it much more interesting from a progression point of view. And I really dug the split realms since it put a lot more personal responsibility on each member of the raid. The fight did seem a bit long, but, on the bright side, once you got to the actual boss, you were pretty much golden. Oh, and Spirit Side is the Best Side!

Maiden of Vigilance

Difficulties Downed: Normal, Heroic
Best Known For: COLORS. MOTHER OF PEARL, COLORS.
Attributes: +8 to Identifying Colors 
            +3 to Catching Balls 
            +5 to JUMP IN THE HOLE

Maiden was a boss that was either awesome… or awful. Who woulda thought that identifying colors would have turned out to be one of the most difficult mechanics Blizzard added in this tier? (For those of you who are colorblind, I have nothing but respect because I have no idea how you folks could do this fight.) At first, I really loved the idea of purposefully jumping into the hole at the center of the room, but the novelty of that quickly wore off after a few bugged explosions that resulted in a very, very long fall. Maiden, when it was going well, felt like a well oiled machine of stacking and spreading, running on the rails and collecting the same colors. When she was going poorly, it was a hot mess where one accident led to another, led to another, led to an explosion, and ended in a wipe. The best part: not even when we had her on farm were we safe!

Fallen Avatar

Nickname: Grunty (the Maiden) and Smashy (the Avatar)
Difficulties Downed: Normal, Heroic
Best Known For: Terrible Mechanics Overlaps
Attributes: +5 to Grunting 
            +5 to Smashing 
            +9 to RNG

Avatar… was not a fun boss. I’ll go ahead and say it. The fight was tuned rather tightly and the mechanics often overlapped in the most unfortunate ways. You have to run across the room to converge onto one point to burst through the Maiden’s shiel- but oh wait! It’s Unbound Chaos so instead you need to run away from all your allies or they will kill you! The bottom phase was just as aggravating with its Dark Marks throwing people every which way and the tornadoes which always seem to be headed straight for you and just- ugh! Not a ton of fun! There was just too much going on: far too many instant death, and, worse still, raid wipe mechanics. Adding to this, the Maiden’s grunts were just so danged loud! C’mon woman, I know you’re fighting and all that, but could you keep it down?

Kil’jaeden

Gotta get that boss kill shot in for this guy!

Nickname: The Guild Breaker
Difficulties Downed: Normal, Heroic
Best Known For: Being Absolutely and Completely Awful
Attributes: +9999 to Soaking Swirlies 
            +9999 to Burning Adds 
            +9999 to Knockbacks 
            +9999 to Darkness 
            +9999 to Weeping

I completely accept that the final boss of a raid tier needs to be difficult. I absolutely understand that the final boss must include challenging mechanics. I 100% buy that the final boss will require a lot of wipes before it is downed.

But Kil’jaeden? That was just mean.

The Deceiver rightfully earned his reputation as the Guild Breaker. The mechanics were unyielding. The timers could so easily go wrong. And even one Armageddon swirl missed pretty much meant a wipe, if not right away, then some point later due to healer mana loss. Kil’jaeden was tuned way too tightly, to the point of being painful rather than challenging. Progressing on him often felt like throwing oneself against a brick wall over and over while praying for change.

I still don’t understand why Illidan made us go find him in that darkness (what a jerk!). I still don’t understand which way the obelisks would do their zap. I still don’t understand why Fel Claws needed to hit like a dump truck going down a steep hill.

Luckily, after tomorrow, I won’t have to.

Despite a very brutal ending, I still have to say, Tomb of Sargeras was a decent raid. The bosses each felt different from the preceding, and with a variety of themes and designs, there was far less ‘demon burn-out’ than I feared. While not my favorite raid of all times, I definitely think that Tomb of Sargeras will be ranked pretty solidly up there due to a number of strong features. Just please, no more Kil’jaedens any time soon!

Onwards, to Argus!

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Crazy Raid Tales: The Mysterious Monk

Not pictured: Zong

When you do a thing for a long enough amount of time, you start collecting stories about it. There’s a lot of odd people in the world after all, so you’re bound to run into one at some point. Today, I’m going to share one of my favorite crazy raid tales, one that to this day remains shrouded in mystery. Gather round, gather round and listen to my tale.

A long time ago in an expansion far, far away….

He was a monk tank. Recruited from trade chat, no other connection to the guild, quiet but seemed like a pretty nice guy. Our raid team was consistently attracting more than 30 bodies a night, which meant it was time for the Great Raid Split of Warlords of Draenor. The team that I was to raid lead was in need of a tank. In stepped the newcomer monk, Zong.

Zong obviously had another main guild on a different server and he mentioned as much. But that wasn’t so unusual in itself – many of our members still called a different guild home. No, this wasn’t what made Zong strange at all.

Nor was it his behavior at raid. With strong mitigation and a good grasp on his class, Zong made a fine tank. He was chipper in Mumble and seemed to a pretty nice, normal guy. The only thing you could maybe find against him was his habit of showing up exactly when raid was scheduled to start. But still, nothing out of the ordinary.

Then one day, I get a message from him.

“Hey Pants, just wanted to let you know I might be out the next coming weeks.”

“Oh ok, any particular reason?”

“Yeah, I’m going to be in court.”

Thinking nothing of it, I asked when he expected to return.

“Well, I could either be back in time for next raid night or you may not see me for a very long time.”

“How long is a very long time?”

“Months, years maybe.”

At this point, I was a touch nervous. Did I need to find a completely new tank? And what exactly was going on that would take him away from game for potentially years?

“Mind if I ask why you might be out for so long?”

“Well I can’t really access my laptop in jail.”

“Oh….kay?”

“Yeah so it just depends on how the trial does tomorrow.”

“Well, good luck!”

“Thanks!”

So our main tank was more than just a quiet nice guy, he was also in trouble with the law. Judging by the description of months or maybe years, this wasn’t something silly like parking in the handicapped space. Whatever he had done, it must have been bad enough to land him in jail for years. And yet, he’s been so chipper and open about it. Just who was Zong??

A few days later, I heard from Zong again in an in game mail.

“Hey Pants, just wanted to let you know that the trial went well and I will be able to raid with you guys! See you next raid night.”

I was… torn. On one side, yay! I don’t have to frantically find a new tank in time for the next raid. On the other side, was this really a good thing for society? Was Zong some sort of master criminal just released to break the law again? Who was Zong??

Unfortunately, I never got to answer that question. Zong joined us again for one more raid before suddenly and unexpectedly leaving the guild and cutting all communication. And being me, all I can imagine is that he is now out there, somewhere in the world, mixing martial arts and crime as some super-villan sort of figure. Or maybe he’s sitting somewhere behind bars, digging behind a poster with a pick.

Or maybe he just went back to his old guild.

All I know is he ain’t smashing kegs for us anymore.

Legion or How I Learned to Love PvP Again

A couple of days ago, Fussypants and I played the PvP brawl Temple of Hotmogu.  I have played this PvP battleground the day before and had a great time, and even got some achievements!  Sadly when we played together she got quite frustrated as the opposing team was very coordinated and was excellent at focusing firing her down.  Totally did not help that she was the only healer on our team either!  Afterwards, Pants was more than happy to move on to a different PvP battleground for the next go, just not the PvP Brawl.  We also had a guildie friend along who had no clue what they were as he told us he simply never PvPs.

So here we are, joining a battleground, muddling along fighting the bad guys.  Our mini team was 2 tanks and a healer, an unusual trio for battlegrounds.  Of course the first Battleground we get is the Temple of Kotmogu  but this time, we did a lot better.  While the team overall was not as coordinated as Fussypants, the other tank, and I were, the experience was a lot smoother.  And it certainly helped that Pants and I used voice communication with each other – we were in the same room!  We focused on picking up the orbs and holding onto them, particularly in the courtyard.   Pants made sure that she healed herself and me when needed, and I went after a few of the problem players on the other side to try to keep them focused on me rather than her.  There was on vengeance demon hunter I particularly disliked – I loved taking him down.

We both had a lot of fun and we won the Battleground!

Legion has made a lot of changes to PvP.  Frankly, I think overall for the better.  One big example for me is separating out talents that work just in PvP and talents that work just PvE.  The “leveling up” of the PvP talents as opposed to PvE talents makes it more interesting in my mind.  They added value to the play.  It is no longer just a grind.  Game play is always better when meaningful choices are available.  While there is not a lot of choices initially in PvP leveling up, they do appear later in the process.  You have a decision once you meet max level by getting to choose between different PvP options within a grouping of 3.  Of course, everyone is familiar with this from the talents from the PvE side.  Once you move far enough in level you have some interesting options to choose, they can really affect your game play.

Additionally, they evened the playing field for all the types and specs.  By tuning the damage, mitigation, and healing of all the different abilities, they gave everyone a better chance of survival and completing objectives.  Gear no longer determines your success rate, how well you play does.

The PvP aspect of the game now is even more interesting to me than it was in recent expansions.  When I first started playing WoW, I played exclusively on PvP server.  I transferred to a PvE server in order to play with Fussypants.  Now as I learn from the upcoming expansion news, Battle for Azeroth, it will not matter which server, I can PvP just about anywhere.  That makes me excited!  I might even go Horde again!

 

P.S. Seething Shore Battleground preview in 7.3.5?  Sign me up!

This blog post was written entirely by Yotaan. Thanks Dad ❤

I am a Rose: A Visual Story

There is a little house in Val’sharah with a story to tell. Tucked away under a corrupted tree, this house appears to be like any other unfortunate structure caught in the Nightmare – hastily abandoned and then ransacked. Except… in this house, the previous inhabitants left notes.

This is one of those things that I think is far cooler to experience in game rather than read about later, so I’d highly recommend you guys check this structure and the surrounding areas out for yourself! I unfortunately don’t have the exact coordinates, but it is located across the bridge from Starsong Refuge and to the left once you reach the branching of the trail. However, if you want to know the story now, keep reading after the cut!

Continue reading

Treating Developers Like Human Beings

Image courtesy of Kotaku

This article is not actually about World of Warcraft (gasp!) but rather the gaming community in general.

A couple of days ago, a firestorm was raging on video game Twitter. Electronic Arts (better known as EA), the creators of the game Star Wars Battlefront II, had just added a brand new, highly unpopular feature locking many of the game’s most iconic and best characters behind micro-transactions. As a result, the players were pissed. I’ve never played Battlefront and don’t really follow much of that news but even I saw multiple angry rants, memes, and conversation generated by these micro-transactions.

In the midst of all this turbulence, a tweet from an “EA developer” claiming to have received multiple death threats over the micro-transactions went viral. A well-needed conversation about the gaming community’s treatment of developers came to the forefront, with game developers from across the video gaming community chiming in. Toxic behavior such as death threats and personal attacks were, rightly, called out and people were once more reminded that game devs are human beings too. The tweet also garnered attention from mainstream, non-gaming media sites.

Unfortunately, it turns out that the “EA developer” who started the whole thing… might not have been who he said he was.

Kotaku’s Jason Schreier set out to confirm that @BigSean66 indeed worked at EA but the answers he found proved otherwise. Scherier wrote an absolutely amazing article on his investigation and his conclusions that I highly, highly recommend (it is one of the best pieces of investigative gaming journalism that I’ve read), so I won’t sum up all of his findings here.

Instead, I want to talk about the “Now What?”. BigSean66 has pretty much been proven to be a fake, but the sentiment behind the message he went viral for is definitely not. Developers do receive death threats from unhappy players, and that’s something that I think the gaming community needs to address far better than it has been.

Players won’t always love every feature introduced into their game. Heck, there’s been plenty of things over the years that WoW has added that I haven’t been very keen on. But no matter how upset you might feel, it is never ok to threaten harm against the makers of the game. I honestly even have a problem when people single out and ridicule specific developers because of something they’re mad about.

Game developers, first and foremost, are human beings. That can sometimes be hard to remember when all we see are blocks of text transmitted over the internet, but behind every avatar is a person with thoughts and emotions. So when you send off a death threat to a game dev, that’s not just being shot off into space. It’s being slung directly at another human being who has done nothing to warrant such vitriol.

I don’t care how angry you are, there is no feature, no matter how bad, that is worth threatening the well being of another person. I honestly can’t believe this has to be said. If you don’t like something about a game, don’t play it! Or write about what you don’t like in a constructive manner! But don’t, for the love of all things that is holy, go after the people who made the game. They don’t deserve that kind of treatment. I can guarantee you that no developer specifically puts something into a game in order to anger players. They want to make as many people happy with their product as they can so people will continue playing. Sometimes they misstep from that goal, but with constructive and even-headed feedback, I promise you most game companies will make efforts to correct the issues.

There is another really important facet to this issue: a single developer isn’t typically the sole creator of a feature. In many cases, they might not even be involved at all. So not only are people lashing out against developers in an absolutely inappropriate way, they’re also lashing out against people who had nothing to do with the feature in question. If that’s not the definition of insanity, I don’t know what is.

While I am incredibly impressed by Mr. Schreier’s work, it does make me wary that the whole point of the tweet, not just the source of it, has been disregarded. Absolutely, BigSean66 is full of baloney, and should be regarded as such. But the problem with toxicity in gaming communities is far from imaginary. There was nothing unrealistic about the numbers BigSean66 chose. The only flaw in his narrative was that he himself was not an EA developer.

I worry that this might be a case of the “Boy Who Cried Wolf”. Whenever actual developers choose to talk about the death threats they receive, sometimes on a daily basis, the rest of the gaming community has to pay attention. We can’t treat this like some sort of non-issue.

The gaming community will always be a very passionate, emotional one. People get very, very worked up about the games they play, and rightfully so. Video games, for many, are a source of family, community, or escapism. All three are super important parts of people’s lives, and when they think any of them are under threat, they go on the offensive. What we, as a gaming community, need to do is use that passion in far less negative ways. Be constructive rather than destructive. Provide feedback rather than abuse. And ultimately, we need to express our displeasure with our wallets rather than our insults.

Hallow’s End Riddles

Hopefully, if I’ve set up everything properly on my side, this post and all the ones published after it should be published automatically throughout the week.  Cross your fingers! With any luck, I’m on an airplane right now, about to enjoy family and warmer temps. As you can probably guess, I won’t be able to check in with the blog throughout this week, but I most definitely will be able to respond to any comments as soon as I get home. If something is going horribly wrong with the blog, I can be reached via DMs to my Twitter account, @thefussypants.

With all the business stuff out of the way, I think it’s high time to actually get to the content of this post! For those who don’t know, for two years, I have organized a (pretty rockin’) Hallow’s End party, complete with scavenger hunts, transmog contests, and scary stories. The clues for the scavenger hunts aren’t your everyday clues though, they’re brilliantly crafted riddles by an amazing guildie of mine, Vin (shout out to you!).

We typically have contestants search around in the zone where the party is being hosted to look for the locations described, and then whisper one of the people running the party with their guesses. Teams are divided up into no more than 4 people and are encouraged to jump into separate voice channels to plan. The event usually takes about half an hour in total, but it’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever had the pleasure of helping put together!

The Halloween season is pretty much over and our party has already occurred, but I would hate to see all these genius riddles go to waste. So, with Vin’s permission, I’m posting his riddles here for all of you if you are interested in either solving them or using them for your own scavenger hunts! Now’s the perfect time to begin planning for next year’s Halloween after all!

Our location was the Ruins of Gilneas, so all riddles describe a location contained within the zone itself.

Answers are posted below in white text and can be revealed by highlighting over them.

1.
In the shadow of divine spire, loom gnarled boughs o’er murk and earth charred
Souls lie ever dreaming in a Sepulcher, not of man’s design, but of The Dark Lady’s scheming
Their countenance…forever marred

A: In the courtyard of the Gilneas cathedral there are some dead, black trees. Beneath the trees are pools of fetid water and skeletons of dead Gilneans.

2.
A monolith oversees a marble town, where none will wake alive
Betwixt two budding beds, within circle and square, fourteen eyes to guide the dead
They cross the Styx, one torch between the five

A: In the main cemetery, there is a large stone in the center. Around the stone there are three grave plots, the left-most being a circle and the right-most being a square. There are a total of 14 lit candles (not counting the middle plot). The plot in the middle has 4 headstones and sarcophagus (total of 5 graves) with only one candle lit.

3.
In a hall of emerald radiance, where man and woman enjoy their vigil
A feast beneath the gibbous moon, wasted…for they left to soon
By lantern’s glow, how beautiful this sigil

A: In Gilneas manor, the main hall has a green stained glass window. There is a banquet set at the table, with a painting of a moon and sea over the dining table. To the right of the table is a tapestry with a family sigil of flowers. It is lit by a single lantern in the hall.

4.
They place them in this iron room, to wax upon the sadness
Rooftop islands in the sea, this edict fades, no more to be…
It drowned amidst this madness

A: There is a sunken area of the town where only the tops of the buildings are visible. If you swim down, there is a gibbet with a declaration of the criminal’s crimes beneath it. These buildings were flooded when the Forsaken sacked the city.

5.
Over the river and through Stygian wood, a gated monument, albeit grim
Twelve were they, so sad that to this day
But one sweet sentiment between them

A: If you leave the city by the bridge and go into the Blackwald forest, there is a lone house that guards a small graveyard (encircled with stone and an iron gate). There are twelve headstones and only one has a flower on it.

Hope you guys enjoy these as much as we did! And once again, thank you Vin for such awesome clues!