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!

Advertisements

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!

Today I left my guild

Today I left my guild.

This decision has been months in the coming and yet, even now, I find myself struggling to type it out. There’s a mental block. A stubborn and insistent demand that maybe, if I don’t say anything about it, the issue will go away. But intellectually, I know this is not the case. I’ve been unhappy for months now, I cannot let fear of the unknown stop me. I am writing this out now, posting it for the whole wide internet to see not because I am angry and not because I want revenge, but because I need to get this off for my own sake. And I need to do it right.

Four years of faithful member and officership.

Over four years ago, I joined a brand new guild established on the idea of connecting the then WoW Insider, now Blizzard Watch fans. I was quickly made an officer, although back then, the guild didn’t have nearly as much structure as it does now. We were honestly more excited that the guild had even gotten off the ground than anything else.

The next year was a honeymoon period. The guild continued to grow and, with the help of the other officers (the corps was now being more established), I helped run social events and coordinate out of game communication. Everything was friendly and perfect and fun, and I know this is the image of the guild that is forever frozen in my mind. When the act of logging in could put an instant smile on my face.

An expansion came and went and eventually, our little guild decided to adventure into raiding. As is unavoidable, the switch from a purely social guild to a raiding social guild was a little bumpy and there was some hiccups along the path. But overall, the transition went incredibly smoothly and I finally got a chance to raid in an organized fashion for the first time. A bit later on and I found myself raid leading for the first time. Everything was fantastic.

Another expansion flew by, and our little guild started shifting again, this time in a direction I wasn’t so keen on. The leadership aspect, which I had always been a part of, started narrowing down to a few certain individuals calling the shots. Areas that used to fall under my responsibility were taken away from me, and I started hearing about big guild changes at the same time as the rest of the guild rather than ahead of time as seemed sensible for an officer.

When I brought up these frustrations, I was at first brushed off. Then, I was screamed at.

That should have been my warning.

But it wasn’t.

I told myself that I had so many other friends in the guild who made it worthwhile, so if I just played my cards right, everything would be ok. Tensions would smooth out. I would be able to talk to certain officers openly again. The honeymoon period would return.

In hindsight, I can see how ridiculous this all sounds, but at the time – and even a bit now – I was afraid of change. Afraid of leaving a guild full of all the people I knew in game. Afraid of the unknown world outside. Afraid of taking that leap. So, in my fear, I stayed, even as things worsened.

The trends which had bothered me before only increased. The size of our officer corps increased again, but the number of people making the decisions shrank. Social events, which used to be the bread and butter of our guild, fell off the wayside as I was the only officer making an effort to continue them. As a high school teenager with a life outside of the game, I just didn’t have time to run everything and no one else would step up. Instead, the focus became almost exclusively about raiding.

I do want to be clear here, I have no problems with hardcore raiding. If anything, the opposite is true, I loved the notion of going into Mythic and chasing that realm first. But what bothered me so much was how we were going about it. Our game plan was unclear and unrealistic. We wouldn’t do enough to proactively bring up low DPS or HPS numbers. And, the part that bothered me most, we were focusing on higher tiered progression raiding almost to the detriment of every other aspect of the guild.

As the weeks and then months went on, my concerns started to transform into something else: the inescapable feeling that I was not wanted. Whether this was perceived or real, I found I could not shake it. Slowly but surely, the game turned from an escape into something I would escape from. Chatting in guild became a chore. Keeping an upbeat attitude on voice chat became a challenge. And finally, raiding itself, one of my favorite parts about this game, became an absolute nightmare.

It got to the point where my guild-related stress was leaking into other aspects of my life, unrelated to video games. I got some pretty major awards recently, including being selected to be the speaker at my graduation, and I found I was so distracted by guild stuff that I couldn’t even enjoy that news. And this was something I’d been dreaming about since freshman year!

The final straw.

The final straw came Sunday evening. While in the middle of an Antorus raid, I happened to check my guild note. Rather than the cheerful ‘Fussypants!’ I had on almost all of my characters, I found something radically different.

‘Fussybitch’.

Someone had edited my note to say ‘Fussybitch’.

I do not know who changed it. I do not know why. But at that moment, I was shattered. In that instant, my guild had turned from a friendly, welcoming place, to one where I would spend the rest of my days wondering just who’d edited my guild note. Adding that onto my general stress and guild frustrations, it was too much. My guild was no longer home.

(I want to be clear here, throughout that time period where I was becoming more and more unhappy with my guild, I was very careful to remain as friendly and cheerful as I had ever been. Whenever I felt I was too upset or emotional to play, I would always log off and step away rather than bring that baggage into the guild as a whole. I am sure those who know me well probably could tell that I was upset, but I made sure to keep that out of the atmosphere. The note wasn’t inspired by that.)

For my own sanity, I can’t keep acting as if everything’s ok. I can’t keep ignoring the problem and hoping it will go away. I can’t keep making excuses, both for myself and others. I can’t keep this up.

So, for that reason, I left my guild today.

To those of you still in the guild who may be reading this, please don’t take this as me trying to get you to leave. What I wrote about here are entirely my own experiences, and they may well have nothing in common with yours. I am not trying to convince anyone other than myself that I made the right choice.

To those of you with whom I was a friend, I hope this is not the end. I truly, truly have enjoyed playing with you guys for these past couple of years, and it is because of you that I stayed around for so long. Please keep me on Battle.net, keep me on Twitter, keep me on Discord and don’t be afraid to reach out at any time. I understand if it is no longer feasible to stay friends but, regardless, I want you to know that I wish you the very best.

What comes now? Well, that, I’m not sure. This guild has been such a huge part of my World of Warcraft experience, that I’m having a hard time imagining the game without it. And additionally, with college coming up, I don’t know how much I will be able to play Warcraft. I want to keep playing, this game has been an enormous part of my life after all, but with this chapter ending, I do not know what the next one holds. I do intend to finish out this expansion strong, but after that, the future is unclear.

But one thing is clear. I am done being passive when I am hurt. I am done being silent when I am excluded. And I am done waiting for a better day to come tomorrow.

I am going to go find that day myself.

Antorus First Impressions

Today was the day! With rosy cheeks and bright eyes, the raid teams of <of The Queue> descended upon Antorus the Burning Throne in a quest to save all of Azeroth (and also get some sweet, sweet loots). After a two hour raid night tonight, my team got through seven of the eleven bosses in normal difficulty, meaning that I’ve now seen a good chunk of the instance. Despite my lack of sleep (life has gotten very busy!), I absorbed a lot of information during those two hours of pulls!

The biggest thing I noticed right off the bat was that Blizzard definitely learned their lesson from Tomb; the first couple bosses of Antorus were much more in-line with the expected difficulty level. It wasn’t until Kin’garoth that my group wiped, and even there we only got stuck for a couple of pulls.

I will admit that my raid team is overgeared for this difficulty but this only goes to prove that, unlike Tomb, Antorus encounters can be outgeared. That was definitely a problem in Tomb – no matter how good your gear was, mechanics still had to be executed perfectly to avoid some sort of raid wipe mechanic. While I don’t think better gear should allow a group to totally roflstomp a zone, gear should definitely make an encounter easier and smooth over any minor mistakes. Antorus has done a much better job of balancing these two forces.

Partly due to my own bleary exhaustion and partly due to the fact that we tore through them so quickly, I honestly don’t remember a lot of the details from most of the bosses. The general impression that I got though, was definitely a raid with a lot of movement. As a holy paladin who’s built herself around Light of the Martyr instant casts, I was totally digging it! But, I can see more stationary classes not enjoying that as much.

One fight that did stick out to me though, was the Eonar fight. First of all, the room was absolutely gorgeous. Titan glowing technology everywhere mixed with plants and green, it was truly a beautiful room! Unfortunately, the fight itself felt… weird. There was a lot of running around to fight different groups of adds (presumably to stop them from attacking Eonar’s spirit or somesuch like that) and then, very suddenly, an achievement flashes up and we win. No boss, no final adds wave (that I could tell), just finish off this pack and we’re all done here. I suspect that this fight will be a lot more involved in Heroic because in Normal, it definitely felt very “LFR Desolate Host, but there’s actually no Desolate Host”. I honestly spent more time enjoying the scenery and tracking down the group than I did executing mechanics, and everyone’s health was totally fine.

Later on was Kin’garoth, who, as I’ve previously touched on, was definitely a step up from everything preceding him. Dubbed the Soup Boss by a sleep-deprived Pants, Kin’garoth featured not only a beam of death, but also balls of raid-wide AoE, an immunity phase, and two large adds which needed to be burned down as fast as possible. It definitely took us a pull or two to figure out that we needed to focus down the purple construct first as well as how to effectively avoid his almost instant kill zap. Once we got those two things down though, we were all set.

I did notice that there was a little big of awkward mechanics overlap (throwback to Fallen Avatar), but unlike the bosses in Tomb of Sargeras, we could actively control which mechanics overlapped by prioritizing a different add over another. I like that a lot; it gives teams the ability to tailor the fights to the mechanics they can better counter, making for a more engaging experience.

We got one quick pull in on Varimathras before the two hours was up, wiping at about 50% health and lots of mechanics still to work out (I’m looking at you, Misery), but I’m pretty confident that the team will be able to get him down at our second raid night of the week. Unfortunately, due to a metric ton of conflicts, I won’t be able to attend that raid so I’ve got a week to wait before I can jump back in. That just gives me plenty of time to get all excited again, right?

All in all, I’m super stoked for the new raid! Raiding is, by far, my favorite aspect of the game, and as much as I like having familiar fights down to a science, I also really love experiencing new ones! I have good feelings about my raid team’s progression in this tier, and I can’t wait to unlock that final cut scene for the first time (I always try to avoid spoiling it until I can see it myself). Bring on the Burning Throne!

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!

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.

The End to Traditional Raid Sets?

Ahh, gotta love some of these earlier ones!

Yesterday, GameInformer released a summary of their Blizzcon interview with game director Ion Hazzikostas. While the article is rather scant on specific detail (I would imagine the full transcript of that interview will become available later), the main piece of news coming from the interview is that the traditional system of Raid Tier Sets is going away in Battle for Azeroth. The article then speculated that the new Azerite system might take it’s place, allowing players far more flexibility in both abilities modified and pieces of gear equipped.

The information about this thus far is really, really lacking (the article was only about three paragraphs afterall), but I have to say, I’m definitely intrigued to see how this change would pan out. Juggling tier and better loot has always been the bane of my existence, a situation that has only gotten worse in Legion. It’s a little soulcrushing to get brand new loot that would be good if it weren’t in a tier or legendary slot. I’m glad to see that Blizzard is awknowleding this problem and working to solve it. However, I think this plan, for what we know right now, has potential goods, bads, and just plain unknowns.

The Good

Gear Flexibility!

Like I mentioned before, removing the requirement to wear certain pieces of gear to maintain a four set bonus gives the players a lot more choice in what they equip. Especially now in the world of Metzenforging (as my guild lovingly calls it), massive upgrades often have to be shelved because they do not proc in one of the ‘Free Spaces’ that is our Bingo board of gear.

For myself personally, I’ve had the same Normal Warforged Tier shoulders on since I got them one of the first nights of Tomb of Sargeras, despite having several sets of shoulders that are significantly better stat wise, in order to maintain my four set. That’s incredibly frustrating. The RNG nature of gearing can already be very irksome, so that added disappointment of not being able to use upgrades is just insult to injury. If I get an ilvl 945 chest piece with enough critical strike to fill an ocean, I want to be able to use it, darn it!

Faster Gearing Up Process! (potentially)

As it currently stands right now, raiders are locked behind a time gate in regards to tier. There are a set number of bosses that drop tier, and those bosses drop a set number of tier tokens (depending on your group size) each week. Those tokens can then either proc Protector, Vanquisher, or Conqueror, locking that item to specific classes. Perhaps one week you get lucky, and the boss drops one of each type of armor. But perhaps you get unlucky, and every token is a Vanquisher helm. And we haven’t even touched on group composition yet; suppose your raid has a ton of people on the Protector token and very little on the Conqueror token. Your paladin tank will get their four piece almost right away, but your hunters and warriors are straight out of luck with so many people rolling on, comparatively, so few pieces.

For many classes, because of the necessity of the four piece bonus, certain tier pieces are their Best in Slots. Players will keep from rolling on other, non-tier pieces in tier slots because they are holding out for that tier drop. But because so many classes overlap on the same token, your Best in Slot chest comes from the same token that five other people do, even if folks are different armor classes or spec priorities. That’s a lot of artificially created competition in an arena that, I’d argue, already has plenty. Chasing after those tier bonuses adds weeks to the gearing up process.

However, if I’m interpreting the article correctly, it sounds as if Tier Tokens might be done away with entirely (since there would no longer be any slots for raid sets). If that is the case, then raiders will no longer have to wait for weeks to get those bonuses. Gearing up would increase exponentially, since an entire extra layer of RNG would be removed. Absolutely, there would still be the RNG-laden hunt for BiSs, but players would be competing with a much narrower pool of competition. The number of potential upgrades would jump from just a few non-tier slot to practically every single one. Even as someone on the often underrepresented Conqueror token, I would have to say that this is a very, very positive change.

The Bad

The Future of Class Raid Appearance Sets Unclear

The article was particularly vague on this topic (and I could have completely misconstrued it), but from what it sounds like, with the move away from tier set bonuses, Blizzard was also going to be moving away from tier set appearances. Potentially. According to Hazzikostas, “the gear will be more heavily themed from the place it comes […] there’s more customization we want to express through the new Azerite system”, which could mean any number of things. Will there still be class appearance sets, but upgrading a specific slot will augment the look and make it cooler? Will they move away from class-inspired sets to a couple of more general raid appearances? And how will transmog for all of this work?

You guys can read the original quote for yourself in the article, but the impression I’m getting is definitely a lot of column B. And I have to say, I’m a bit sad about that. While some sets are definitely more appealing than others, I’ve always loved the look of one unified look for each class per raid tier. There’s an excitement in the initial reveal. And the class fantasy is pretty great (especially for paladin that headcanon’s a very traditional paladin persona). This is absolutely not the worst thing in the world, but if class appearances sets truly are pulled, I will be saddened.

The Unknown

Honestly, for everything that I’ve talked about thus far, the singular unifying idea right now is that there’s just so little information. Without the full transcript of the interview, we can’t get a solid glimpse at what Hazzikostas was describing. It might turn out that all of the ideas I proposed are moot point in just a couple months (although, it’s always fun to speculate now!). Here are some of my biggest questions regarding the switch that I just couldn’t comment on without more information.

⦁ Will the Azerite system act as a replacement with more options?
⦁ Will every piece of Azerite gear in the same slot have the same ‘talents’, or will it vary by piece?
⦁ If the latter, how many different talent options would there be?
⦁ Will talents be changeable?
⦁ Speaking of the Azerite system, how exactly does that thing work?
⦁ Are you planning on adding set bonuses to specific pieces of gear (i.e. a matching ring and cloak would unlock a small bonus)?
⦁ Any retroactive changes to older tier?
⦁ …And a whole lot more.

I’m hoping more information about this will be available soon since this is potentially one of the bigger shake-ups for the raiding scene that Blizzard has implemented. And hey, if I no longer have to scare people off my tier token, I’m down for that!