Preparing for Cataclysm

The new expansion promises a lot of new content, but besides the changes to the world itself (and being able to finally fly around everywhere!) the most exciting feature is the changes that encourage people in a guild to work together for shared rewards.

Initially there was going to be a talent tree associated with the whole thing, but the developers made a very wise and removed it. Why would you want to limit your decisions to just a small group of people (do we take things PvE or PvP… do we get this rewards that benefits this 10 people or this 50). Now the rewards are more across the board and I think this was a great axe to something that could have created guild hoping until people found the right set of rewards in a guild.

Professions is something that I did not get into until recently and I between the wife and I we are getting close to having every single profession in the game maxed out. The guild has strong crafters in every spot. From Moon now having every single epic gem pattern in the game, to a couple of our inscriptionist having every singly glyph not to mention enchanters with even the hard to find ones. We will enter the new expansion with people not just eager to conquer new content but also max out their profession and this time the guild will benefit equally from both.

It seems that besides killing Arthras a lot of people are preparing alts to take even possibly a center stage in the next expansion. It provides a great opportunity for you to make an alt your main and enjoy that new content from a different perspective. I am personally very excited about the disc priest being rewarded for DPSing! I cannot wait to start stacking smite and getting benefits from it!

Arthas’ Fall

Before we even get into how we killed the Lick King we have to start with Blood Queen, Professor and Sindragosa. Professor and Blood Queen had been previously conquered by the Clan, but we needed our tanks, healers and DPS to all be able to also perform during those fights. There are still only about 3 tanks that have the experience of tanking Putricide, Blood Queen and Sindragosa successfully. It has been about a month since we actually killed Sindragosa and we had kept that raid lock out to work on the king. The problem was that it was only about once a week that we were getting to really work on him and it seemed to be a different group of people every time.

Then the holiday weekend happened and we decided to start a full clear on that Tuesday to see if we could get back to Lich King fight with a single group. With only one replacement we were able to get a 3 hour 11/12 in ICC 10. It was a pretty cool thing to accomplish, but it was just the beginning.

We gave it some attempts with that group, but we really wanted to start working on it when everyone was fresh. For the next 10 days we had probably about 20 different people on the fight. Mime, Froto, Moondust, Drago, Cybrook all played the hunter role in the fight. Kabara, Chaudara, Unknown, Lyrics, Kiree, Theydrin, Booty, Zeal and others also took turns at the DPS. Sab, Fara, Mumbles, Sylei and myself took turns at healing. Last but not least, Achilles, Phaetel, Death and Arthren all took turn at the tanking. I know with confidence that the first two phases of the fight are pretty burned into everyone’s mind that had attempts with us. The third phase, well, we will get to that later.

For the purpose of talking about our kill I will simplify things by talking about 3 actual phases and two transition ones. They all get less challenging as you start working on them, but they are all very complex and just one new person to the fight can spell huge trouble.

From the first phase this fight separates itself from the rest of icecrown. There are a lot of things going on, but you have to get into a nice grove or you will be dead before all the adds have even spawned. The tanking is key to this part, but you also need solid healers or you will not make it to the first transition phase. The thing that actually was a huge hinderance to this part of the fight was actually the 15% – 20% buff. You see, you have to manage your DPS during this fight or you will be left with too many adds. You have to make sure that nobody kills the easy to down adds or the disease will not jump from mob to mob. (if you are confused you can read a strategy guide to kill Arthras, or read our forums where our start is posted)

Then the transition to 1.5 can also be very tricky and at first will feel like a full phase, but than as you get into the groove you will see that this is more of a mana up phase than anything else. Healing becomes secondary and Tanks and DPS really shine making sure the additional adds get picked up and focused fire down so they don’t kill the raid. Once over (and it is timed) you are left with some adds to deal with and running in while dodging exploding presents.

Phase 2 is probably the most frustrating phase because if everyone is doing their job its not all that difficult, but one mistake by a single player can end your attempt. This is what happened to us over and over, we would start the phase very well, but then we will have defiles all over the place and will get a stranded DPS or a healer picked up by a valk too close to the edge. This one is simply a practice and you will get it phase, but it takes time to get to it. If you have new people in the raid you will be stuck in the transition phase or in this phase for some time… and the people that have been there are not getting to practice the last transition and last phase which is actually challenging.

Once people can get past the defile and correct positioning you seem to get past this phase quickly. Having the right amount of range DPS will help quite a bit during this part of the fight. Having a lock and hunter also does not hurt at all. You spread out, and watch for defile and valks, time everything correctly (even for the unlucky situations) and you are golden.

The last transition phase is what I think makes it almost impossible to “one shot” this with a fresh player. You have to be aware of where the whole raid is and get to your position while dodging defiles on the ground. It is very easy to try to run out on the side opposite of your raid which will mean you are dead if it is the way that the adds are being faced or you are low on health. While it is easy to say that the tanks can control everything in this phase, this along with defile makes it that everyone on your team has to be on their game.

The last phase of the fight is probably the most fun but the one that you don’t get to practice much on. Once we has spend a couple of nights of attempts getting to it consistently I knew the kill was not far away. We put the group together for the kill based on who was available and conquered the fight as a true team. There is definitely a little bit of luck to the last phase; but it all comes down to teamwork and doing your job one player down (someone is going into the sword periodically).

In the end we were left with all healers being responsible for 33% of the healing, which was amazing. The DPS was also pretty evenly spread out and we all made it to the very last phase. We worked hard on it, from refining our strategy to teaching several people the fight from beginning to end. It was an amazing accomplishment that I certainly loved actually leading not just the kill but several of the unsuccessful attempts… we actually “beat the game!” even if it was with an extra buff it still feels awesome to wear the Kingslayer title. Now we just have to do it over and over again so the rest of the people that helped us get to it can also be proud to actual finish current content. Thanks again for all your help and hard work.

The Fall of the Lich King

Moon and Star used to rock the tag Gutbusters Brigade, from the moment I saw it and chuckled we became fast friends leveling our toons from 40s to 70 running group quests and dungeons when we were on at the same time. Those days I would have never imagined that we would become close friends and now spend even holidays together!

Back then I was very stuck on a guild called The Old School that was run by a former coworker that never truly became a friend (I wish he would just “let it go”, I had never had a dude be as stalker like as some of the crazy chicks I have dated). Eventually drama over at the Gutbusters made it so most of their members were left looking for a home and I totally wanted to play with them because they were a great bunch. That was my first taste of WoW Drama, and the beginning of my distaste for it.

Drama seems to always be the demise of guilds. I got sick of the drama where I was and started to think about going to a raiding guild but my friends did not want me to leave them behind. They believed that we could have a “casual raiding” guild that actually moved forward; at a slow pace, but actually move. I went back and forth and eventually gave into their idea that I could be a great guild leader, so we created the BoondockSaints. The guild grew in days to have more members than I had imagined, I did not know many people had other friends that they just did not want to subject to the past guild. We multiplied to a healthy size and kept the motto of no drama.

We started getting content under our belt and slowly got out of just being able to clear one wing in Naxx to actually stepping into Ulduar and getting past the initial bosses. Suddenly we were not stuck anymore but actually inching forward and catching up with content. It was still challenging and the gear made it simpler but we were actually acquiring skills which are worth a lot more. I still laugh at people that think that WoW is easy now but have never even seen how Putricide or a Val’Kyr can wipe a raid on 270 gear. We had enough to create 2 solid 10 mans and found other like minded people along the way. Uncontrolled Aggro and Eat More Tauren made our guild stronger and more capable. We ended up with several adult couples that play together and wanted to raid but not be nasty to each other when someone did not move out of the fire. (I actually still have to remind people to move out of fires… lol what is it with fires and people wanting to stand in them)

A hunter by the name of Frotobaggins who is one of the coolest cats in the server had once again joined our ranks and since he pugs like no other he started getting some of our raiders into a 25 with one of the progression guild in the server. I knew a couple of the Nightstalkers from previous pugs and because they were willing to help me see more of ICC than the first couple of bosses so I could take our guild further. Things happened over there, they lost members to other guild and to real life situations. Family comes first and those things made it hard for them to keep a guild together. Their leadership thought that I was better at running a guild and they liked the way I ran my raids. I had no clue that a bad ass Lock from another guild and I had a similar speed for running raids so people would be willing to follow two raid leaders when at times is tough to just follow one. He taught me that is possible to run a 25 raid without wanting to quit the game after (I still prefer it when he runs them, I like 10s better).

I had the first big decision of the guild’s life in my hands, the two CO-GMs told me they trusted me with the final decision I would make and support it. I knew in one hand I had a very good problem, actual progression raiders wanting to join our casual guild, in the other I knew some people would be put off by the decision and felt like they were left behind or will be slowed down by us. In the end I decided that you cannot make everyone happy and people will always find a reason to complain, but in the horizon I saw that there would be a reason to celebrate. There was the chance that we, the group of 50s that had no clue about what “LFM Kara Run” in trade chat meant were now healing, DPSing and raid leading current content We could actually be in a guild that killed The Lich King, before the next expansion came out.

The first couple of weeks were not as rocky as I anticipated and even though there will always be a level of weirdness when there is any type of perceived clique, people ran randoms together and 10 mans take less time than a random without a tank to put together. We started going back through content and cleared Ulduar up to the last boss and ToC 10 and 25, and have even attempted and almost cleared TogC. We have struggled with the progression part of things because it is hard to get 25 people in the same page, but even with the issues we are 7/12 on 25 and tonight we could probably go even further.

We have been working on LK since the 15% buff made it possible for us to single tank zerg Sindragosa. When the 20% buff came out I knew it was only a matter of having the correct balance of classes and buffs, but we never seemed to be able to get them on at the same time. Then last Tuesday after a week of running with mixed groups (but getting some people the experience in the later phases of the encounter which is what we needed) we got the combination that we knew will make it happen.

DK – Phaetel (Tank)
Pally – Arthren (Tank)
Pally – Kiree (DPS)
Kitty – Lyrics (DPS)
Mage -UnknownMage (DPS)
Lock – Bootylicous (DPS)
Hunter – Frotobaggins (DPS)
Tree – Sylei (Heals)
Sham – Restoftw (Heals)
Priest – Hollogos (Heals)

This post already went too long, so I will recount how we did it sometime later. Lets just say that I did not even know we were that close to being done when I saw the OT get aggro and tried to bubble him and pennance him… I knew everyone dies in the end of the encounter but was totally surprised when we started to hear the screams over vent. Better yet, my wife was now a WoW player as well and could understand what we had just accomplished. I think she screamed more than I did and even woke me up the next morning to, THE LICH KING IS DEAD! Congratulations Kingslayers!

I Hate Defile

This is officially the second week that we have been working on The Lich King. The 20% buff has made it that we can now do a full clear up to The Lich King in a little over 3 hours and our time will continue to improve ever week. Now more and more people are getting used to the harder fights, and our strategy of single tanking Sindragosa works like a charm since we have some pretty strong (overgeared) players for 10.

Arthras is a whole different story. Working on that fight is a pain in the butt unless you have the same group every time. We have not had the same group yet, but we are now consistently getting pwned in the past phase by the combination of defile and the kamikaze ghost. The ghost we can survive if all of our healers are alive and well, defile seems to be the thing that is the most annoying.

Defile as a game mechanic has 2 big annoyances. The first is that the animation is not accurate and even when you think you are out of it, you might still be standing on it and making it bigger. The other one is that the tank can get it… and where there is a tank there is going to be mele DPS… two people in one defile means double the fun and exponentially easier to end up paying a repair bill. We are getting better at it, we just need to have the same group in there twice in a row and he will be history.

Our 25 mans are going better (We killed both fester and rott last week), or maybe worse depending on who you ask. In one day we can clear 6 or 7/12 on regular mode, but the continuation seem to not happen. I am thinking of changing the schedule completely this week and dare I say… pug the continuation if we only have 20 people. I hate puggin when we have the numbers just an hour after we started doing something else, but with summer here and less people loggin it might just have to happen. Just don’t come crying at me when you lose your shinny purple to a pug.

I also finally tried Starcraft II, I had the beta key for a while but had not tried it. I am sorry to say that I am pretty disappointed with the game that seems to have been years and years in the making. I honestly don’t see anything groundbreaking on it and it simply feels dated already… it has not even been release yet. I might have to get into FPSs again since we seem to have a big group of C.O.D players in the guild. Now Diablo III has me a little more excited about. That and Cata is looking just awesome and all the guild related stuff is going to be amazing. I hope I get to play some of both of those in Blizzcon.

So lets hope that today Arthras finally quits killing us with that defile today and we can start unlocking heroic modes in our 10 mans. Ruby Sanctum is around the corner and it might put the 25 in the back burner for the summer, but I think that concentrating on 10 mans might not be that bad after-all.