First Dip into the Pool

Image courtesy of WoWhead

I have a confession to make.  Due to a number of circumstances (travel and work to name a few), I actually hadn’t gotten the chance to step into the Eternal Palace yet.  Crazy right? The raid-happy paladin not entering the brand new raid? Luckily, the crisis was averted last Monday. And, since I never do things by half, I jumped into Heroic for my very first run.

Thanks to an old friend with whom I used to raid with way back in the day, I was invited to their group’s Heroic Eternal Palace progression, starting on the second boss.  I’d seen the videos of the fight and read a few guides so I thought I had a vague notion of what was going down but as soon as I zoned in and found myself floating underwater, I knew I’d jumped straight into the deep end.  Fortunately, my mythic raiding gear from last tier as well as my remarkably powerful Essence meant that I had a smoother ride. It was time for some quick learning!

The Blackwater Behemoth, the second encounter in the instance, loomed before our group. (I had missed the first fight by happenstance.)  The fight itself isn’t too bad – just some light five yard spreading, a few platform transitions, some dots, and adds that must be killed spread out throughout the encounter – but it’s got one giant peculiarity.  The third dimension.  That’s right, the entire time we’re fighting that monstrous eel, we’re swimming through water.  

First pull and I’m a total mess.  Luckily, I didn’t die until the whole group was wiping, but that’s just about the only thing I did correctly.  My healing was abysmal. I’m running the Glimmer paladin build and I couldn’t seem to figure out the boss’s hit box in order to get close enough to use my Crusader’s Strike.  It took me way longer than I’d like to admit to realize that I had to swim over and touch the glowing green cloud in order to, you know, stay alive. Each of my platform crossings were like a bad re-enactment of the jellyfish scene from Finding Nemo.  The water element really messed with my head, far more than I thought it would.

However, to my credit, whenever I make a mistake with a raid mechanic, I tend not to make it again.  I’ve often joked with my friends that the first pull, I’ll purposefully make every mistake I can in order to know how to avoid them in the future.  The Blackwater Behemoth proved that trend incredibly true. By the second pull, I had a much better handle on the 3D aspect of the fight and had jumped up from the worst healer by a large margin to actually being competitive.  I was on top of mechanics (since, after all, they were not too difficult once I got over the swimming aspect). Fussypants was back in her element. 

It took us a couple more pulls to get the beast down and in that time, I really came to enjoy the fight.  It felt different from any other raid fight in a way that was engaging and fun (unlike Hellfire Assault, blarg).  The speed buff to swimming made what could have been an aggravating aspect feel smooth and natural. And I just really loved how mobile the whole fight was.  It was a perfect introductory encounter. 

Image courtesy of Blizzard Watch

Next up, we went to face the Radiance of Azshara.  Unlike the previous boss, I actually had a very good idea of the mechanics to this boss, on account of me running the Eye of Azshara dungeon in Legion far too many times to count.  There were a few new portions, such as the winds phase intermission and the tornado-releasing orbs but other than those, it was an eerily familiar encounter.  

I’d always thought that the fight was a bit overly hectic for a dungeon but scaled up to raid size, the Radiance of Azshara was perfect. The platform itself is larger than the dungeon version, giving players a lot more room to maneuver around in.  Our group split the raid in two which worked remarkably well to keep folks close enough to healers without bunching everyone up. The mechanics tended to fall pretty randomly across the field which might lead to some frustrating RNG in Mythic (where I’d assume more would be instantly lethal rather than just painful) but in Heroic, that just kept the fight unpredictable and exciting.  We beat down the Radiance in just two pulls.

The final boss for the evening was Lady Ashvane and boy, is that encounter a big step up in the difficulty department.  We only got a few pulls in before raid night was over but what I did get to see of the fight indicated its trickiness. The mechanics were more intricate than earlier bosses, demanding coordinated movement and space management.  However, the biggest hurdle appeared to be the DPS requirement. By our last pull, we were still only getting the boss to around 80% (granted, we were still figuring out the mechanics at that point). I suspect there’s a good deal more progression to grind out in that fight but what I saw so far seemed intriguing.

Overall, I quite enjoyed my little jaunt into the Eternal Palace!  I definitely want to see more of the bosses before I pass verdict on the raid in general, but the fights I saw perfectly scratched the raiding itch.  I’m a big fan of the mobility of the fights as well as the timing of damage, both of which compliment the holy paladin healing style. Big thanks again to Elandryia and their raid team for bringing me along!

A Path Forward

About two weeks ago, I wrote something along the lines that writing helps me clarify my thoughts.  The very act of putting words to a page, even if the words themselves weren’t the answer, would help me organize through situations to find the eventual solution.  It was also about a week ago that I was writing about my inability to decide where next in the game I was going. You see where this is heading?

Tongue in cheek implications aside, it seems I am no longer at the crossroads I wrote about previously.

I ended up choosing a version of Option 2 from our three choices of yesterweek.  Mythic raiding is on long term hiatus for me, but as I wrote about last week, I’m doing so in exchange for my absolute favorite thing about the game: my friends.

Shortly after writing the article last Wednesday, I reach out to my good friend Dame who had been the co-GM of Praetorian Guard/Objectively Bad.  The two of us talked and realized that, while others may be able to move on, we still very much missed playing WoW in a social setting. We reached out to the other members of the guild and found that not everyone had moved onto other mythic teams or other games.  Indeed, there were a number of people in the same boat we were in – wanting to play WoW but not wanting to find a new guild.

Dame and I realized that, within the end of the last guild was the beginnings of a new one.  No longer a mythic raiding guild – we didn’t have the manpower or inclination for that any longer – but instead something a bit less intense.  A casual heroic guild? We gave it a week of discussion and thought. This wasn’t just a pipe dream; this was doable. The infrastructure was there, the people were there, the only thing missing were the people to give the plan one final push.  The instigators, if you will.

What better instigators than a pair of friends so much on the same wavelength that we find the same Toilets With Threatening Auras twitter account to show each other?

All of this has been to say that I, Fussypants, and returning, not only to heroic raiding but also to guild leading.  And this time, I’ve got an official title.

Co-Guildmaster of Proudmoore’s very own Objectively Bad.

(Has a nice ring to it!)

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t super excited.  Sure, I know this won’t be a walk in the park (as leadership rarely is!) but what Dame and I are doing just feels right.  We’re extremely good about communication.  We’re putting an emphasis on transparency. And we have a very similar goal – to reconstruct a guild family, partially out of the old and partially out of the new, that is friendly, funny, and inclusive.  Along with some raiding in there, of course!

So why this blog post?  Well, you know how I said partially out of the new?

*Cue elevator pitch*

<Objectively Bad> is a casual Alliance heroic raiding guild located on Proudmoore-US and we want you!  We’re an LGBTQ+ inclusive family that loves chungy memes and wholesome content alike.  Raiding atmosphere-wise, we stress a balance between progression and jokes, and we also understand that people have lives outside of the game.  Our raid night is Monday 9pm-12am EST (6-9pm PST) with a potential addition of Sunday 9-11pm EST (6-8pm PST). Additionally, we play a LOT of games outside of WOW, so if you’re looking for a multi-game community, we’ve got you covered!

If we sound like the group for you, feel free to reach out! You can message me on Discord (Fussypants#4821) or on Twitter (@TheFussypants).  Can’t wait to meet you!

A Crossroads

It’s been three weeks and I don’t know how to write this. I’ve tried multiple times, drafting about 5,000 words in total and still, I can’t manage to put my thoughts down on the page in a manner that I like and that seems true to my emotions. However, it’s been too long a wait at this point. I can’t hold out for perfect, I need to achieve ‘completed’.

Firstly, hi! Long time no see! In the months since I last wrote consistently, life has been totally crazy for me. I helped raise $36,255.17 for the St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital through the Perky Pugs Violet Spellwing campaign. I coordinated over half a dozen Herald of the Titans runs. I raided on mythic difficulty, and for real this time. I started college, moved across the country, joined my school’s debate team and was actually halfway decent at it. I’ve been writing and writing and writing, but almost none of it has made its way here.

Speaking of here, I’ve missed the blog. With a million other things all demanding my attention at once, I’ve found myself absent from my little corner of the internet. My dad and I both still play the game (more on this in a second) and we definitely still talk about it but we haven’t found the time to write much of anything. I can’t speak for my father, but I know for me personally, I miss writing greatly. There was nothing like drafting a blog post to organize my thoughts and light my creative spark. Writing made me want to play the game more and, as the writing has fallen off the way side, so has my gaming.

The bitter reality is I don’t play as much WoW as I used to. Much of this is due to straight up scheduling; I’ve sort of jumped into just about everything I could have at school – a jam-packed academic schedule, a number of intense clubs, and a job all at once – which leaves me with little time to do anything else. The other issue, however, is that I’m just not as interested in the game as I once was. Both I and my father still play but we almost never play together. I’ve been finding it harder and harder to motivate to log on with the massive amount of “wizard chores” that await me in-game. I’ve barely touched my alts, and those used to be my biggest passions. Perhaps it is me who has changed, and perhaps it is the game that has changed, but regardless of the cause, the effect is that I’m just not playing nearly as much as I was before.

That being said, I’m still deeply invested in the story and the community of the game. I actually quite like the lore of Battle for Azeroth – it’s much more of the actual in-game mechanics that bore me. And I would play pretty much any game so long as the people are friendly and funny, and I have been lucky to know tons of people like that in Azeroth. It’s these two factors (along with the sheer amount of time I’ve already invested) that have kept me from leaving entirely. I’m definitely not done with the game. However, that leaves me unsure of where I stand.

Throughout this recent period of low energy however, I have maintained my love of raiding. With my spectacular guild Praetorian Guard/Objectively Bad, I’ve gotten to see content I would have never thought and challenge my gameplay in ways I never have before. Additionally, I’ve gotten close with a group of people who are truly, truly, special. I am going to Blizzcon this year (side note: hype!) purely because I want to hang out with my guild. They are fantastic people and I am so blessed to call them my friends.
That brings me all the way back to the event which happened three weeks ago, the one I’m still struggling to parse through.

Three weeks ago, my guild met and came to the decision that we would be retiring from raiding for the foreseeable future.

The decision was spearheaded by our guild/raid leader who realized that he no longer had the passion for the game that he once had, and that he didn’t find it fair to us to continue leading the group by only giving half effort. His sentiments were shared by a number of our team. We are definitely not disbanding as a guild, but instead transitioning into a multigame friend group instead of exclusively a WoW raiding team.

It was the right decision to make. And, it was such a hard one to take.
As I mentioned earlier, tow of my biggest passions in the game are raiding and community. Since my enjoyment of raiding is largely due to the social, team-building aspect, that reveals my truest motivation to be the people I play with. I’m not my dad – I can’t play the game barely interacting. I love logging in and chatting with people. So where do I go in WoW when the people have gone?

This is the crossroads I’ve been stuck at for three weeks now. Do I go and find a new raid team? That option carries the baggage of having to make entirely new friends, which is a challenge I’m willing to undertake but one that would be a lot of work. Do I create a raid team out of the friends I have in the game? This option makes building relationships much easier but returning to raiding becomes a much more difficult task. Or, do I give up the game entirely? It churns my stomach to contemplate the last option but it is arguable the easiest path to take.

If I do choose to continue playing and continue raiding, that begets the further question of whether or not I opt for mythic or heroic difficulty. My school schedule begs for heroic, but my personal enjoyment of the game pines for mythic. I have the most fun doing mythic raids, but I’m not convinced I’ll have the available free time to complete all the out-of-raid chores that mythic raiding requires. Furthermore, the likelihood of me finding a mythic team that is flexible with my sometimes erratic college schedule are probably very slim. That being said, it is so hard for me to step down, knowing I have the skill-set (if not the time) to push harder.

I don’t have the answers yet. With the new raid coming, I should be settling on an option, especially considering the first two paths, but instead, I tread water. Maybe, hopefully, writing this all out with make things clearer, but right now, I just don’t know.

One thing is for sure though, I’m casting Resurrection on this blog!

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!

Totally Thrilled to Tank

I actually remembered to grab a screenshot!

Just a small update today; between packing for the trip and – ironically – writing other blog posts, I didn’t get around to writing up this post until very late at night! I’ve got some great ones all scheduled up and ready for you guys for the next week, so definitely enjoy them!

I wanted to do a follow up to a post I wrote previously about my first experience tanking, and report back that the excitement was definitely not a one-off thing! I wasn’t able to raid on the first raid night of the week, but for the second one, I once again strapped on my shield and threw myself at the tail end of Heroic Tomb of Sargeras.

Tonight’s raid was much, much smoother than last week’s (although, I highly doubt this was due to any better tanking on my part, we had many more bodies). We got through Heroic Maiden within twenty minutes, and very quickly were back downstairs at Avatar. Last week, we’d wiped there for the rest of the evening due to low turn out, alts, and some folks who were unfamiliar with the fight, which is nothing to be ashamed of since these runs are completely optional and most of the raid has gone on break until Antorus. However, our merry band was several bodies bigger tonight and that made all the difference in the world.

I discovered that, last week, I’d accidentally been murdering our melee quite a bit. I was positioning the Maiden too far from the Avatar, so when the tank swap would happen, it would take me a couple of nanoseconds after taunting to get within melee range of the Avatar. As a result, the big guy was using those spare moments to drop kick our poor melee players. This week, I made sure to keep the Maiden within the arc and things went a lot smoother! I only killed one person, and it was the raid leader, so who cares about that guy? (He totally got me back next pull though)

After about an hour’s worth of attempts, we got down Avatar! I rolled, and once again failed to get the heroic tier shoulders -boo! – but now I know for sure that I can tank Avatar. By the last couple of pulls, I was really getting the fight down-pat like I never had before, to the point where I was able to drag the Avatar off the platform right before he broke the last bit, in order to give us more time.

There was no time to celebrate for the scariest boss in the entire instance was left: Heroic Kil’jaeden. I’d heard horror stories about this guy, how his Fel Claws would hit like a cement truck barreling at you 100 miles per hour, how he would reduce tanks to quivering wrecks, how he would make you feel like you knew nothing at all about your spec. Luckily, I already knew nothing about my spec, so his power was gone!

In all seriousness, Heroic Kil’jaeden wasn’t as horrifically horrible as I was expecting. Don’t get me wrong, he still hit like that cement truck, and it still took me a couple of tries to really start getting a handle on my rotation for the Fel Claws. But, and it’s crazy even to me that I’m saying this, it wasn’t all that bad. Even though protection paladins are one of the hardest tanks to attempt this boss on.

A large, large part of my success, honestly, was due to my wonderful guildies. One of our main tanks plays a protection paladin and thus was intimately aware of when I should be using my CDs and, more importantly, when I should not be. My raid leader, too, had a great deal of experience with protection paladins, so he too gave me some very valuable tips. I highly doubt I would have been as successful as I was without their help. Thanks Xerra and Cloud!

Our first couple of pulls were pretty rough; we didn’t even get him to the first flying intermission. However, after rearranging a few of my cooldowns and, for the rest of the raid, remembering to prioritize soaking the swirlies, we starting doing significantly better. Each pull we got farther and farther into the fight, and I grew more and more comfortable with tanking it.

For the Fel Claws, I very quickly discovered that I needed Shield of the Righteous up for every single one. Period. I also needed another cooldown for the last couple of strikes, so I ended up alternating between Ardent Defender and Eye of Tyr, both of which reduced damage taken. My last major survival CD, Big Glowy Man (it has name other than this, I just don’t remember) was reserved for any panic moments.

In the end, we got him as low as 2% on the last pull of the night, opting to end on that high note rather than get sloppier and wipe at a higher percentage. While it would have been rocking to get him down my first try tanking, I’m pretty confident now that I know how to tank that fight. It’s a shame I’m figuring this out right at the end of the raid tier though!

So, I’ve most definitely got the tanking bug. And, I think I can say without being too boastful, I’m maybe not the worst at it! There is definitely things I know I could improve upon, but figuring out tanking has honestly been as easy as figuring out a different healing class (figuring out DPS characters is like rocket science to me). I’m really hoping that my raid will allow me to gear a tank set come Antorus because I’d really love to learn those fights from a tanking perspective as well as a healing perspective earlier than I did this raid tier.

Guys… I think I love tanking.

P.S. Huge, huge shoutout to my co-tank Alarys! You were the best tanking buddy ever and I’m so appreciative of your patience and understanding! ❤

Tentatively Thrilled to Tank

I never think to take screenshots at the time, so please enjoy these after the fact images

With Antorus on the horizon, we have official reached the twilight hour of Tomb of Sargeras. For my raid team, since we’ve all gotten our Ahead of the Curve achievements, this has meant that we are in a period of relaxation. Our typical raid nights have changed from progression focused to alt focused as we push as far as we can into Heroic ToS in the five hours we have each week.

Even for someone like me, who loves her Holy Paladin to the ends of the earth, these alt-nights have been a fun break from a spec I probably play too much of. Heck, even a fun break from a role I play too much of. For the first couple of nights, I brought a DPS character, and learned that, despite my best intentions, I am not very good at damage dealing classes.

Many moons ago, my mage was my predominant raiding character. I would sling ice at whatever threats faced Azeroth. I eventually switched over to healing full time (and never looked back) but my gnome mage has always held a special place in my heart. And one day, I always hoped to get back into the raiding groove with her.

My triumphant return was a lot less triumphant and a lot more terrible. I’d thought I’d kept my mage pretty well geared and prepped all things considered, but I could barely pull my own weight. Even more embarrassingly, I died almost every single pull. Keep in mind, these are boss fights I have done dozens upon dozens of times. I know them so well I can do them in my sleep. But somehow, I could not make the jump from healing them to DPSing them.

Alright so, mage is a bust, what about some of my other characters? Maybe a melee DPS? I brought in my monk and was met with even worse results, despite the fact that my monk’s gear is a tad stronger. Now this was just getting silly!

I was beginning to think that healing was just about the only thing I could do. That wasn’t the worst thing in the world; there’s enough different healing styles that I don’t think I could ever get bored. But I’m supposed to have a competent offspec for raiding and, judging by my performance, it’d probably make more sense for me to sit than to bring a DPS character.

But then, I found it. My second calling. And it was in one of the most unexpected places.

This past Saturday, more as a joke than anything else, I joined raid in protection spec on my paladin. My gear wasn’t the best in the world but really, the bigger hurdle was that, other than an odd mythic+ here or there, I hadn’t tanked all expansion. I only vaguely knew what my abilities did. I certainly didn’t know what the tank mechanics were other than the ones I had to heal through. And yet, there I was, joke-threatening to tank Heroic Maiden.

Maybe they had faith or maybe they were just as crazy as I was, but my guild gave me the go ahead and I, joined with one of the main tanks, gave it a whirl. And… we didn’t die right away. And then, when we did wipe, it wasn’t my fault. What is this sorcery?

As I discovered, quite literally on the job, Heroic Maiden isn’t too difficult of a fight to tank. The only major mechanic is the taunt off after every infusion or smash (depending on what your own infusion is). A quickie cooldown or Eye of Tyr for each Hammer Smash and I was pretty much golden!

We tightened up mechanics on Maiden a bit and then got her down within the first half hour of raid, no mean feat considering the number of alts and folks who’d never seen the fight before. I even netted a pretty slick tanking trinket (to replace one of my healing ones I’d been wearing because I was suuuuuper prepared). Next up was something a lot harder: Heroic Avatar.

As we’re riding the elevator down, one of the other main tanks who was on a DPS alt for the night whispered me, warning about the difficulties of the next boss. Grunty and Smashy, as they are affectionately called by my guild, are mean like bees and unforgiving to tank error. And, not only was I new to this fight, I was also playing a protection paladin, a spec that had encountered additional difficulties with almost all of the Tomb of Sargeras bosses.

Not pictured: Me flying off approximately 3 seconds later because of his knock back ability

Still, I wanted to give it at least a couple gos. After all, I’d just gotten a new tanking trinket and now had a somewhat stronger idea of what my tanking CDs did! I pulled up my belt, taunted the Maiden, and we were off.

I very quickly learned that Heroic Maiden is a walk in the park compared to Heroic Avatar. The fight features two mobs, the Avatar and a Maiden, that needed to each be tanked by one of the tanks for the start of the fight. The tanks would then switch who they were tanking after the person handling the Avatar got two stacks of Devastate. This is further complicated by the fact that the Maiden has to be dragged all around the room to intercept beams of fel that are empowering the Avatar. And it was all just as hectic as it sounds.

I started with the Maiden and I won’t lie, it took me a few tries to get the taunt swaps mixed with the movement correct. Those first couple of pulls, there was just so much going on that I’d lose track of my own health and then forget to use a CD when I needed to and would very quickly end up as a splat on the floor. But before long, I found a rhythm.

Once I found that groove, I really started to get into it. There was something so steady and dependable about taunting off at the two stacks. And yet, the movement around the room kept the fight interesting and ever-changing. It was fun, and fun in a way I would have never expected. As the patterns got smoother and smoother, the stress of having the entire raid rely on myself began to fade away. I knew what I needed to do and knew how to do it. Unlike my DPS characters, when stuff went wrong, I could instantly identify where the error had occurred.

Even though we were wiping, I could have kept going for hours. The zone, as I like to think of it, is something I love so much about healing – a mindset where I’m totally on top of the encounter but also completely relaxed. I’ve never reached that with DPS characters. And yet, on my first night of tanking, in Heroic difficulty no less, I found it right away.

I’ve tried to get into tanking multiple times. I’ve tried leveling solely as tanks, tried testing it in battlegrounds, even tried throwing myself into mythic+s. But apparently, the push I needed, hilariously enough, was the high stress atmosphere of Heroic raids. That is something I never would have guessed!

The test going forward will be to see if this newfound excitement persists. I’ll probably never move past my love of healing, but tanking is promising to become a close second.  I can’t wait for the next raid!

Returning to Raiding

Our first N Gul'dan kill!

Our first Normal Gul’dan kill!

Last Wednesday, I ended an almost 2 month long hiatus and entered my first raid.  While it certainly wasn’t the triumphant return I had hoped for, I am glad that I chose to jump back in.

Nearing the end of November and beginning of December, I made the difficult decision to stop raiding.  Anyone who’s read this blog or knows me in Azeroth has probably figured out that raiding is my favorite WoW activity.  I like dungeons and I like transmog, but I really love raiding.  But back two months ago, my most favorite activity was rapidly become my least favorite and so I decided it was best to (potentially permanently) step away.

The first reason for this came down to something as simple as timing.  I was just so gosh darn busy that I could only make it to a handful of raids.  In some situations, this might not have been the end of the world but in this case, I found that I was actively gimping the team.  We were progressing through Heroic, maybe looking into venturing into Mythic, and I was one of the core healers.  Me being gone or late every other night was severely impacting progression.  So as much as I might have loved raiding with the team, the reality was, I was bad for the team.

The second reason was a lot more personal.  I’m not going to go into the details for the sake of those involved, but I did not feel welcome at raid.  Beginning even before my attendance started dropping off (so the issue wasn’t created by it), I truly felt as if some members of the team, mainly one person, just did not want me around.  I made a few attempts to talk to the person but it wasn’t getting anywhere.  Slowly but surely, the sense of vague animosity changed raiding from something I loved into something I dreaded.  So once my attendance got spotty, it was a lot simpler to say goodbye to raiding because the experience was already soured.

So there I was.  Maining a holy paladin and yet, not healing a thing.  As my hiatus dragged on, I found myself playing less and less Warcraft.  Not because of lack of time, but rather due to lack of interest.  And what’s worse, the friends I had made on my former raid team began to drift away.  I was still in the guild and still relatively active but because I wasn’t raiding anymore, I was no longer people’s first choice to talk to.  To be clear, I was never ignored or shunted.  I doubt anyone did it purposefully; it’s just when you don’t hang out with someone on a bi-weekly occasion anymore, they can slip out of sight, out of mind.  I don’t blame anyone one bit, but I was feeling incredibly lonely.

This dragged on and on.  It got to the point where I was logging in maybe twice a week, and only for a few hours at most.  Eventually, I sat back and took a good long look at the way things were.  Evaluated the problem and evaluated my part in it.  My schedule had pretty much cleared out at this point, so the only thing keeping me from re-engaging with my guild was my own reservations.  And instead of tackling the issue head on, I had decided to run away from it.

I decided then and there that enough was enough.  I loved raiding, it was my thing! And taking a break from it, while it had been necessary at the time, was not something I needed to do permanently.

And there was never a better time than right now to jump back in.  I started logging in again, gearing back up.  There was most undoubtedly a few bumps in the road but eventually I mustered the courage to approach the raid leader about the issue head on.  And then, I was back on the team, just in time for Nighthold.

The animosity from before was still there, but the guilt about bringing my team down was gone.  I had checked my schedule and found it surprisingly clear for months to come, meaning that attendance would not be an issue.  What’s more, my healing was better than it had ever been.  And, the majority of the team was super friendly in welcoming me back.

Still, I needed to talk to the person.  I delayed it for a few nights, thinking that maybe I was just being irrational and I should let it go.  But as one of my friends astutely pointed out, if it bothers me, it’s a legitimate problem.  And if it’s a legitimate problem, it’s going to need to be addressed.

Finally, I sat down and had the talk that had been months in the coming. I’m not sure how it impacted them (I hope positively as well) but I know it really, really helped me.  By no means is everything solved but I’ve taken a step in the right direction.  After nearly three months, I’m finally back home.

I had no idea how much of an impact raiding had on my life.  It’s kind of a silly thing to admit, “yeah, playing World of Warcraft every Wednesday and Saturday really helps me get through the week, y’know?”.  But it is honestly, so very true.  Raiding is my zen place.  Never do I feel more relaxed, more engaged, and more focused than when I am raiding. I truly do look forward to that two hour block at the end of the night.  And what’s more, I absolutely love my raid team.  I’ve come to realize that they are my family.  We may not always agree but at the end of the day, we’re all in it for each other.

And I’ll be all in it for them.

Apparently, I’m a Raid Leader

ArchiHello my name is Fussypants and apparently I’ve been a raid leader for several months now.

Well ok, I wasn’t completely in the dark about this.  Actually, I knew exactly what was going on when I stepped up and offered to lead one of my guild’s raid teams.  But it just boggles my mind that I’ve been doing it for several months now.  Like whaaaaa?  Are we sure this isn’t just a hallucination?

Ok ok, let me explain how this all happened.

So as many of my readers know, I am one of the core officers in a rather large guild.  Well, I guess rather large guilds because we actually have two of them now.  Long story short, we’ve grown explosively over the course of the expansion and are now sitting at somewhere around 1200 characters? Hence the two guilds.

I also have talked a lot about raiding and as you can probably guess, I do that through my guild.  With a guild of over 1000+ folks, we kind of ended up with a rather large raid team.  It started off innocently enough, about 20 or so people who logged on twice a week every week.  But as the expansion wore on and the doldrums began, the opposite of what was expected happened.  Instead of our raid team shrinking, it actually grew.  We went from 20 of us to 25 of us to 30 of us until finally there were more people wanting to raid than there were spots in a raid group.

We had to do something fast.  The absolute worst thing in the world (at least in my opinion) is to have to sit folks, so we needed to find another solution.  And after much, much deliberating, it was decided that two raid teams was the way to go.

A raid leader for each team was decided upon but before we could even pull the first boss in our respective teams, one of the raid leaders decided that he didn’t want to commit to that level of responsibility.  And suddenly, we were left with a team without a leader.

Like I’ve mentioned before, my absolute worst fear was that we would have to sit some of our raiders.  And now with one raid leader gone before the ink was even dry on the page, there was a legitimate risk of this happening to one of the teams.  I couldn’t stand by and watch that happen to a group of people I knew had worked so hard to be where they were at.  So I volunteered.

Now, I had raid lead some pug raids before, explained a couple of mechanics, organized some healer rotations, the like, but never had I done anything quite to this level.  As I was about to find out, there was a whole lot more to raid leading than just telling the DPS to get out of the fire.

Xhul
THE FIRST LESSON OF RAID LEADING: ATTITUDE IS EVERYTHING
I’ve always tried to maintain a positive and friendly attitude while online.  It just seems like the right thing to do- so many people use the internet as their escape from real life drudgery so who am I to bring negativity into their happy place?  But I will admit, this even tested me.

Wipe or kill, I found that I needed to remain positive and cheery the entire raid night.  If something was going well, fantastic!  Congratulate the group and particularly anyone who went above and beyond.  If stuff isn’t going quite so well, don’t get discouraged.  We all know something is going wrong, no need to harp on it.  A simple “what did we do wrong that time and how can we fix it?” goes so much farther than a “why are we so bad?”.

But with attitude, I found I also needed to accept that I wasn’t going to be able to cheer everyone up every raid.  Sometimes a night of wiping is going to get people down and there’s nothing you can do.  But this shouldn’t stop the raid leader from being positive, encouraging, and above all, focused on improvement.

THE SECOND LESSON OF RAID LEADING: YOU GOTTA KNOW YOUR STUFF OR KNOW SOMEONE WHO DOES
I thought that I knew mechanics when I stepped up and offered to raid lead that first time.  Boy, was I wrong.  You see, it’s not good enough to just know one aspect of the fight. I can’t just know how to heal Kilrogg, I need to know every single part of the fight.  The Heartseeker mechanic.  The interrupts.  The adds.  The visions groups.

I’ve probably spent the better part of 20 hours just reading up and practicing mechanics so I could better lead my group.  I watched videos, read strats, combed logs, you name it I did it.  And in the end, it all paid off.  I can lead a Heroic Hellfire Citadel Raid in my sleep, I know the mechanics so well (not saying I would do this though).

There are some mechanics however that I do not know all the intricacies of.  For example, I know that the tanks need to taunt off for Zakuun when one tank gets Soul Sliced but as to what happens inside that spirit world, I haven’t a clue.  I can’t possibly know every minute detail.  As a raid leader, I learned all the mechanics but I leave it up to my raiders to find the tips and tricks of their class best suited for handling the mechanics.

When there is someone in the raid who has a better strat or understanding of a specific mechanic, I let them take point on it.  Heroic raiders have to use every advantage they get; I would be silly to turn away helpful advice.  Raid leaders lead, not micromanage.  I have a responsibility to know the fight as a whole but if someone knows a specific part in better detail, then I am going to let them take charge of that specific item.

Mammoth
THE THIRD LESSON OF RAID LEADING: YOU NEED A SECOND IN COMMAND
There’s a reason ships have First Mates- the Captain doesn’t always catch everything.  This is the same for raid leading, I don’t always remember to call every mechanics or to change the loot before raid.  And sometimes, I can’t even make it to raid on time or at all.

I am so very lucky to have a responsible and observant second in my fellow blogger Bodhirana.  If I miss something or can’t do something, I know I can count on him to catch what I miss.  I trust him completely to lead raids when I cannot attend.  And I can bounce ideas off of him when changes need to be made.

Fast forward a few months and a few raid team shuffles and here I am, still raid leading, still in one piece. It’s been an incredible journey- from Heroic Assault all the way to Heroic Archimonde but I wouldn’t change it for the world.  I’ve learned so much about raiding, about leadership, about the people on my raid team that I don’t think I could have ever learned otherwise.  I’ve been trialed and tested, but in the end, every single one of us got our mooses and every single one of us can call ourselves ‘Heroic Raiders’.

So there you have it! How I accidentally on purpose became a raid leader!  I guess I can add this to my growing list of ‘Stuff I Never Thought I’d Do But I Ended Up Doing Anyway’.

Until next time, stay out of the fire!