A Mythic Experience

Not actually the Mythic raid because, as always, Pants forgot to take a screenshot

Not actually the Mythic raid because, as always, Pants forgot to take a screenshot.  But still, this was the area I was fighting in (sans cool sky and portal)!

There are very few things in game that I tell myself I will never do. I love challenges and trying new things so I’ve done everything from Herald of the Titans level locked raiding to pet battling to unrated PvP. But I’ve always told myself that I wasn’t going to raid at Mythic difficulty.  It was just too hardcore, too time intensive, too unreachable for me.  I have the utmost respect for mythic raiders, I just knew that it would never be me.  And I was wrong.

STORY TIME!

There I was, logged onto my holy paladin with two and a half hours to kill. I still needed my Archimonde kill for the week to upgrade my ring and I decided I would pug it.  Since I have the AotC for Heroic Archimonde (side note: woot!) and a rather bloated ilvl of 722, I figured I’d give pugging Heroic Archimonde a shot.  I signed up for a couple of groups, linking the AotC, legendary ring, and added *jazz hands* at the end of the message.

One of the raid leaders whispered me back ‘lol’ and shortly later I was invited to the group. I zoned on in and right away I noticed that it was primarily a guild group.  So either I’d happened into their progression group and this was going to take a number of wipes or I’d lucked into a quick clean up group and this was going to be one shot.  I had two hours to kill so I was prepared for either.

What came next was beyond what I could have expected.  One of the members posted their guild’s vent information.  I was about to ask if vent was required when the raid leader explained that the puggies (i.e. non guildies) only had to join the vent if they planned on continuing on for mythic HFC.  Mythic HFC? This group was bound to be good!

As we were setting up to pull, one of the other healers, another holy paladin, whispered me.  They told me that they didn’t need any loot and would give any pally loot they got to me.  I thanked them and we chatted for a bit about drop rates and whatnot.

Then after a short rundown of the fight and a timer, we pulled. Other than the fact that I was playing my very best to try to impress these mythic raiders, the fight was very run of the mill.  We downed first phase, stacked up on the boss, and killed adds, ping ponging all the while.  Chains were broken and banish groups went down and came back up again. We got all the way to the last couple percentage points when an ill timed chain break right before the rain of infernals took out several members of the raid, including the tank who was tanking Archimonde.  But since the Demon Lord was so low in health anyways, we were able to kite tanking him the last couple of percentage points.  A one shot.

While loot was being handed out (I sadly did not get any) I glanced up at the healing meters.  I had top healed that fight! Probably because this fight was cake for the other healers and they didn’t need to put 100% effort in, but still! Maybe I was on par with this mythic heals?

Loot was finished and everyone was ordered out.  My holy paladin friend from earlier whispered me, asking if I was going to stay for mythic. Excited and just a touch nervous, I told them I would. I then alt tabbed out and fired up vent. It took a while like it always does but I finally joined in and entered the channel.

And it hit me.  I was entering a Mythic Raid.  Mythic.  This was no Heroic, with it’s somewhat forgivable mechanics.  This was a whole new level of difficult.  And that brings up another point, mechanics.  What were the mythic mechanics? What were the strats? Oh no, what had I gotten myself into!?

During the first trash pulls, I frantically whispered several mythic raiders on my battle tag list while google searching the strats for Mythic Assault.  With the help of Ambermist, my guildies Syandle and Zanima, and Icy Veins, I put together a pretty solid idea of the fight. Trash was cleared and the raid leader then did a brief but thorough run down of the fight.  I was as ready as I would ever be.

Also not the mythic raid.  I didn't even fight this boss this night!

Also not the mythic raid. I didn’t even fight this boss this night!

The main difference between Mythic Assault and Normal/Heroic Assault seems to be the split. At specific timed intervals during the fight, identical siege weapons would roll down on both sides of the room (as opposed to Heroic and Normal, where there was only one vehicle) and the raid would split to take down these dual menaces. I was assigned left side with another healer and let me tell you, I followed that shaman to the ends of the earth.

The first couple of pulls ended with wipes. I can’t tell you definitively because I was concentrating so hard on healing myself and executing mechanics properly, but it seemed to be that the adds that needed to go down weren’t going down fast enough. All I knew was that I hadn’t messed up a mechanics too badly.  Yet.

The raid leader reorganized the split again and we pulled a few more times.  One thing that was very different from my other raiding experiences was that as soon as we lost more than 3 people and we were out of battle rezzes, we would purposefully wipe it.  Thus we wiped a lot of times but turn around was very fast.  We wiped, we popped back up, we buffed and ate and within 3 minutes we had pulled again.  It was beautifully efficient.

After about forty five minutes, we finally had our breakthrough pull.  Previously, the lowest we had wiped at had been 35%.  But this time, we hit 35% and the percentages kept dwindling down. 30%, 25%, 20%, 15%, 10% we were almost there.
Then one of the tanks blew up.  Frantically, the healers popped all of our cooldowns.  But the delicate balance had been shattered.  The left side collapsed and the adds began streaming right.  The raid leader bellowed for the last couple ammunitions to be fed to the cannon.  As members of the raid dropped one by one, overwhelmed by the sheer number of adds, the percentage of the boss dropped as well.

8%, 6%, we had just a couple mages and shaman up. 4%, 2% it was down to one mage.  And right as that mage’s iceblock broke and the adds overwhelmed them, the boss ticked down to 0%.  Achievements and loot rolls flashed up.  We had done it!

I quickly used my bonus roll and rezzed.  A shiny new shield, proudly bearing the word Mythic, plopped into my bag.  I glanced at the meters and again found that I had top healed.  And then I was barraged by the grats from my guild.

Sitting back for the first time in 50 minutes, I took a deep breath and tried to stop shaking.  We had done it.  And I had helped.  The threshold had been crossed, I was now a mythic raider.  Holey moley!

Loot was distributed and we took a quick break.  I used this time to again frantically whisper my Mythic raider friends and find a new guide. Reaver it seemed was not very different for healers on Mythic which was reassuring for me.  Everything just hit like a truck.

We again began our pulls, but it was not to be.  Barrage is an instant kill on Mythic difficulty and unfortunately too many people were getting hit by it.  Myself included, I was hit an embarrassing 2 times over the course of 11 pulls.  In addition, several members of the raid began to experience terrible latency.  We got the boss to the first air phase a few times before the raid leader ultimately called it a night.

After  the raid, I whispered the raid leader for a bit, thanking him for the invite.  We shared btags and I offered my services should he ever need a healer for anything.  I’m not hold out to be re-invited for Mythic HFC again but hey, the door is still open.

Even though we did not get Reaver down, I still consider the night to be a huge success.  That raid was the first time I had felt nervous in a raid in a very long time.  I had kinda missed that feeling.  It was a completely new and satisfyingly challenging experience and I’m so glad I got the chance to partake.  And I got a mythic kill and a shield to boot! Woot!

Huge thanks to La Familia on Sargeras for bringing me along! And big thanks to all the people I whispered for fight advice!

Satire: How to Raid Lead Pugs

WoWScrnShot_070815_221517(Warning: Heavy Satire)
So you wanna be one of those hot shot raid leaders.  You wanna make the calls and decide who comes, but you’ve already been kicked out of your guild raid team.  Where can you go to lead? Luckily for you, Blizzard has implemented the Group Finder function where anyone can create groups for anything.  Which means you can finally live your dream of being the master of a raid group! But before you begin, here are 10 tips to keep in mine while leading pug raids.

1)  Knowledge of the fights is completely arbitrary
When leading a raid, you absolutely do not need to know what the fights are like.  You are already putting this group together, do you have to hand hold them through mechanics as well? The tanks should be explaining the fights, and if they don’t they are bad and deserve to be kicked.  Don’t waste your precious leader time explaining, just get pulling!

2) Your ilvl requirement must be high or you will fail
A good rule to go by is the ilvl of the gear dropped in the raid +20 points.  So for Normal Highmaul, look for people ilvl 675 or above.  The people in your pug must be at least that high, otherwise you will wipe endlessly. However, your own ilvl is inconsequential.  These folks should be carrying you anyway, that’s their job as puggers!

3) Failure should be dealt with swiftly and mercilessly
If anyone messes up any mechanic or accidentally pulls anything at all, they should be immediately kicked.  How are you to know that they won’t make that mistake again? In order to keep a successful group, failure must be eradicated.

4) Always have an excuse ready if you are the one who fails
A weak leader who makes mistakes loses the respect of the rest of the pug.  If you happen to make any mistakes, be sure to blame it on lag, a cat on your keyboard, or someone elses’s mistake (best option).  Owning up to a mistake will only cause chaos as the puggers will no longer believe in your skillz and will begin to jump ship.

5) Foster a ‘No Questions’ environment
The best pugs are the ones where no one asks any silly questions about fight mechanics.  If someone does happen to ask a question about a fight, they obviously aren’t good enough to be in your pug and must be kicked.

6) Play the Blame Game well
When something does go wrong, be quick with who you blame.  The best options are those who are under-performing or anyone who has expressed dislike in the way you run your pugs.  These people are obviously trying to bring you down and should be shamed and then kicked.

7) Be vague about loot system
Make sure to never directly answer which loot system you will be using.  If you settle on one system, people are bound to drop group right away because most puggers are pansies.  That being said, Master Loot is the best system since it allows you to pocket all the boss drops and BoEs that are rightfully yours.  If someone has a problem with this, they are just greedy and jealous of you and also deserve a kick.

8) Deal with AFKs promptly
If anyone happens to say something along the lines of ‘afk, brb, or one second’ they are just preparing to troll your group.  They will stay away from their keyboard for hours until everyone in the group has dropped while waiting for them.  Such players need to be kicked as soon as they mention how they are stepping away.  You can’t let such people undermine your group!
However, if a person has been on auto-follow or offline for a while, don’t kick them just yet.  Wait a good fifteen- twenty minutes before kicking because they have a high chance of coming back any second now.  These players are the good eggs, they aren’t trolling you with their ‘I’ll be right back, just give me a second!’ garbage.

9) When attempting any last bosses, require the Ahead of the Curve achievement
How else are you supposed to know if these people know the fight? It’s imperative that you require AotC for Imperator, Blackhand, and Archimonde if you are going to down them.  The more AotC’s the better in fact.  An AotC is basically an instant invite for anyone, regardless of ilvl.  If the person has downed these bosses before, they know the fights like no one else but Blizzard itself.

10) Remember that you are the one who matters here
You are the one who set this raid up which automatically makes you the most important person in this raid.  Make sure that all the raid does benefits you.  It certainly doesn’t hurt to remind the other puggers who is the real reason for why they are all there.  Your leadership is extraordinary and they are all lucky to be in your pug.  Ignore complaints and kick dissenters and you will find glory!

Follow these 10 tips and you are assured success! Now go get ’em!

(Disclaimer: Yeah, please don’t do this folks.  For actual pugging leading advice, I would check out this article on Blizzard Watch)

No More Learning in LFR

Learning to RaidThe best way I learn things in video games is through experience.  Reading and watching videos can only get me so far; to really understand how to do things, I have to go out and try it.  That’s how I learned to heal, learned to raid, and learned to PvP.  I just went out and did it.

However with many things, its very hard to just throw yourself out there with little previous knowledge.  Queuing up for my first dungeon ever as a healer was pretty stressful.  I had no idea what to expect, but more importantly I didn’t know how the other people would react to my admission of this being my first time.  I’ve been in groups where people are totally supportive and I’ve been in groups where people tear me to bits because of my lack of knowledge.

A safe and hands on experience is the best way that I learn how to do something new.  I observe all that is going on without fear of being ridiculed.  Even better are the times when people explain portions to me.  Everything new I’ve learned to do in this game has been through trying new things hands on, not reading about it online.

The same notion applies to learning a new raid.

I used to be able to hide in the crowd in LFR and learn the mechanics by watching what was going on.  For SoO, I was able to take my LFR experience and successfully transition into actual raiding, getting all the way to Heroic (which was then called normal) Garrosh.  I picked up my knowledge from the hands on experience in LFR and then felt confident to move up on the raiding difficulty scale.

Unfortunately, LFR is no longer difficult, which is both a blessing and a curse.  It is a blessing because LFR is even more of a safe environment to get hands on experience in.  Because it is so trivial, LFR gives a lot of leeway for mistakes.  But on the flip side of the coin, the LFR experience is so different from the rest of the raiding experience that I can no longer learn encounters in it.  The only way I’ll know what to do, is if I join a normal raid.

You might think “Well, that’s not too bad! Normal raiding isn’t really hard!” and I would agreed.  Unfortunately, that is not the mindset of most normal groups.  They don’t want to bring along someone who is learning because it would slow them down.  I would be a liability, so no normal group wants to bring me.  And if they do happen to bring me, I get kicked almost instantly if I make any mistake, no matter how small.  Normal is not a safe learning environment.  It’s the real world, and all people care about it speed.

So this is where I’m stuck right now.  I don’t have the knowledge or safe environment to learn the raids.  And because of this, I have been completely unable to raid all expansion.  I really do want to, but I do not have a group that will take me.  My guild isn’t raiding for a bit (and besides, I’d want some experience going into that) and all my other friends who raid are horde.

I sort of guessed that this would become the case, I was just too blind to see that I would be affected by it.  So right now I’m kinda stuck.  I need what’s in the raids I can’t get into so I can get in said raids.  Wicked catch 22 isn’t it?  What would you guys suggest I try?  And is anyone else encountering this problem?

 

Addendum: There was going to be a massive garrison article on Thursday but unfortunately, after an hour of typing, the whole thing froze up and crashed as I was trying to save it.  Needless to say, I lost that entire article and the desire to rewrite it.  Hence the end of the week posting!

Garrosh AotC Achieved!

WoWScrnShot_101214_221759Today, I shall tell you a tale.  It is a tale of adventure, of perseverance, of patience, and eventually, of victory.  In this tale, you shall find both the noblest of hearts and the rudest of trolls.  For this is the tale of how I got my Ahead of the Curve Garrosh kill.

The story starts as most do, with a villain and a problem. The villain clear but the problem harder to solve.  Garrosh Hellscream, Warchief of the Horde, had to fall on Normal Difficulty but he had to fall soon.  Very soon, as in within-a-few-months soon.  But how could this happen?

Now enters our protagonist, an earnest but under geared disc/shadow priest.  Me.  I made my goal to defeat Garrosh before the Great Patch Drop… but how?  What follows is a three month long journey, leading up to the final showdown.

The first step was gearing up.  Weeks were spent gearing up in flex.  This part was easiest.  Groups formed quickly and often, and with flexible sizes, many could come along.  I healed for the most part, occasionally dpsing, and all the while building up gear.  Times were good, and people friendly.  I developed a keen knowledge on the boss fights and my abilities.

Then came the next step; normal raids.  At first times were good.  The raids were harder, yes, but not impossible.  Success and gear flowed freely.  Groups were friendly for the most part, and I felt pretty confident about my abilities.  My item level rose, and I climbed higher into the normal raids.  Then, the dark times fell.

Patch Day was drawing closer, and people were becoming more desperate.  Joining groups became much harder, as most were looking for carries not runs.  People became more kick-happy and rude, and I often found myself the scapegoat.  Impatience became the new norm, and generosity fell off the wayside.

The tipping point came during a raid that could have ended it all.  I had made it into a Garrosh Normal, and was clearing the trash with the group.  I could tell right away that the other healer was far better geared than me, and I took it as a good omen.  I might get this!  We continued on, eventually getting to Garrosh.

The first pull was… rough.  Many people died to avoidable mechanics, and the tank foolishly perished to Iron Star.  We rezzed up, and started again.  Again, people were taking unnecessary damage.  The other healer was blowing me out of the water, but even still we were struggling to keep up.  A botched intermission later, and we wiped.  This time however, blame had to be assigned.  Fingers first pointed to the lowest dps, who were quickly kicked.  Then, the blame turned to me.  The other healer and the tank insulted me, as if I weren’t even there.  I was called many things, among them a bad excuse of a healer and a person.  And before I could speak a word, I was kicked.

I was rattled.  I was upset.  I was put down.  Confidence deeply shaken, I nonetheless queued right back up.  But my heart wasn’t into it.  I logged off, and the quest came to a halt.

A week passed, and precious time slipped away.  Still, I couldn’t bring myself to restart the quest.  I didn’t want to go through that again.

But a quest of such epic proportions couldn’t be ignored for so long.  Within the next week, and good friend of mine told me that he had gotten his kill, and generously offered to pay for a carry for mine.  I was motivated.  Due to timing, I was unable to attend the carry (don’t worry, my friend didn’t pay, and I had planned to pay him back anyways), but I was dead set on getting a kill of my own.

To Twitter I turned, pursing any and all opportunities.  To Other Raids I returned, ruthless in my attempt to join any normals.  To the blog I asked, writing up a few articles on the matter.

First success came with Other Raids.  I joined a group that was basically a carry.  A heroically geared tank and a few dps pulled us from Nazgrim all the way to Paragons in an hour.  I unfortunately had to leave, but now I had a valuable lockout.

Next success came from Twitter.  Several generous Twitter denizens offered to bring me along with their raids, and I beginning to feel more confident.  I had two opportunities set.  I was ready.

The last success came from a commenter on the blog.  Khizzara charitably offered her services as a Heroic geared resto druid.  The offer was just too good to pass up, so as soon as I could I sent her an email.

One of the Twitter raids fell through, but thankfully Khizzara was free and available to help.  The details decided; Sunday night, Garrosh would fall.

Khizzara, (who shall from this point forwards be known as the hero), was in a heroic raiding guild.  This proved to be invaluable, as she was able to convince her raiding buddies to come along and help.  Well geared tanks, heals and dps joined in, and among them a very special warrior.

It turns out that Khizzara knew the one and only Garrosh Hellscream from Warchief Command Board.  Yes, that one.  The famous one.  So, on top of getting to raid with heroic raiders, I got to talk to a celebrity in the WoW blogosphere.  It was pretty freaking epic.

Thanks to my valuable lockout, we jumped in right away on Paragons.  The Klaxxi fell swiftly, and before long, we were working our way through the Garrosh trash.  And then, within a half hour of starting time, we were there.  At the doorstep of destiny.  On the edge of glory. At the final battle of good and evil.

As well geared as my allies were, we were all out of practice.  Some mistakes were made, many silences were missed, and unfortunately many wipes were had.  But every time, we picked our selves up, and went back at it.  We would bring down Garrosh if it was the last thing we did.

A few hours passed, and it was decided that this would be our last attempt.  We hitched up our belts, straightened our weapons, and charged in once again.  The battle was epic, the silences perfect, the intermissions flawless, everything went beautifully.  On the last attempt of the night,
Garrosh Hellscream, Warchief of the Horde, Final boss of MoP,
FELL!
(and there was much rejoicing).
WoWScrnShot_101214_220315
And what is the moral of the tale you ask?  Perseverance, my friends, perseverance.  If you want something, you have to go get it.  Everything requires work, otherwise it isn’t worth as much.  I spent MONTHS training, gearing, attempting this kill, and it was absolutely worth it.  Do I deserve it? Honestly, I’d say yes!  I put in the effort, I kept with it, I tried my darnedest, and eventually I got it!

But not without help!  I want to give a HUGE HUGE HUGE thanks to these people! Without you, I could have never gotten this! I am eternally grateful to you guys for giving up a night to help me with this! You are the reason why I love this game, and why I continue to play.  YOU GUYS ROCK!
Khizzara (who has a blog and you should check it out!)
Vanethos
Schrinko
Bombelina
Jiuyon
Shanthi
Sickfigure
Zabogi
Averry
And all the folks from That Guild! I cannot express in words how thankful I am!!  Mists of Pandaria goal achieved!!

AotC Garrosh Achieve

WOOOOOOOT!!!!!

Pugged Groups: Looking for Ego?

Awkward Moments Raiding
NOTE: The Beta Key Contest will end on Friday, September 19th at 3 PST, 5 CST, 6 EST.  Go solve those riddles!

So you all know how I love the Other Raids feature.  Even with its tendency to show healers as needing a group when they don’t,  or randomly unlist your group, the feature is pretty great.  Thanks to Other Raids, I have gotten my ilvl up to 556, been able to clear 8/14 Normal SoO, and gotten a few achievements on the way.  All in all, I’d consider the feature a success.

But, even I will admit, the feature was a band-aid on a bigger issue.  Pugging, and the extreme difficulty it was without outside sources.  And with 6.0, Blizzard intends to put in place their real solution to the problem.

The Looking for Adventure tab in the Group Finder, it is called.  Within it, players can search through and find a group to their liking, and then apply.  Or they can create a group, and set certain criteria such as item level or voice comm.  So basically, a built-in OQ.  In theory, I think the idea is sound enough, but I have a few queries.

First things first, will you only be able to list groups, or can you list as an individual looking for a group?  One thing I’ve noticed in the current iteration of Other Raids, is that there will be dozens of people looking for raids, and only a few groups listed.  With this new LFA (that’s gonna be my acronym folks, you heard it here first!), will there be just a few groups forming, and dozens of people all rushing to get into those limited spots? Or will I be able to queue up as a healer, and just wait for the whispers to come in?

I kind of hope that the LFA will let you queue as an individual or as a group, but have them under separate tabs.  For example, someone looking for a group might list themselves under the Individual tab, then go and search for a raid in the Group tab.  And vice versa.  Also, as a sometimes raid leader, I like the fact that you can  pick from an array of different people, instead of just the people who apply.

My second question; will the requirements be abused?  Yes I know that you cannot put an ilvl higher than your own, and if you put a high ilvl, only people with that ilvl will see it.  But you can easily circumvent that by putting a low ilvl requirement, but in the description mention that you actually want x ilvl.  I can see lots of possible ways that this system could be abused.

Also, one of the specific requirements that you can choose are Proving Grounds level you wish your group member have achieved.  Personally, I disliked the Proving Grounds.  I didn’t feel like that was an adequate way to test your skill at a class.  I thought the time was too punishing, and the kiting/defensive cooldowns severely lacking.  I learned almost nothing about raid awareness, CCs, or group etiquette.  All I got from my experience was how to spam your abilities the best and how to complete some highly specialized and otherwise irrelevant tasks.  As a result, I barely did any of them.  I don’t really want that to become a requirement.  I didn’t enjoy them, and I didn’t think they were a good test of the skills necessary in a raid.  And I certainly don’t want ‘LF DPS, Need PG GOLD’ to become a new normal.

But unfortunately, this sort of elitist behavior is already common in the gaming community.  I don’t want to tell you how many times I see a flex with an ilvl 550+, or a normal demanding ilvl 570, the legendary cloak, and heroic experience.  You definitely don’t need that level of gear and experience to run that level of content.  But unfortunately, many groups now want that.  And with this new group finder, I worry that this will become even worse.

I guess what I am getting at here is that while the LFA will be a great feature, we could possibly be trading ease of access for elitism.  I absolutely love the idea of pugging, but left to its own devices, it can get way out of control.  We need some sort of incentive to bring along at gear level characters, not just massively over geared ones.
‘But Fussypants, can’t you just set up your own pugs?’ Yes, but I shouldn’t have to do so every time.  There should be groups with moderate requirements that I can join.  Not just groups with outrageous requirements that are way out of my range.  The nature of pugging is quick semi-formal groups to run content.  Not hardcore, elitist jerks that carry the one leader of the group.

All things in moderation, especially World of Warcraft pug requirements.