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Time for the lightning round


Over the last few weeks, the general theme of our raids has been “wow, we’re doing great — but if only we had more time.” The first night would always see us clear the first half, and then the second we’d knock out the rest of farm and push progression. Every week (or maybe every other) we’d knock down a new boss, and then look ahead daunted at the prospect of somehow jamming another boss into our already-packed raid week.

At that pace, I assumed, we were looking at least another month before we would get to Lei Shen. Give or take.

Then last week, Voss did something bold and declared that we were going to extend the lockout and start the raid week at Iron Qon. We’d move to a new system where every other week we’d extend, making our raid week essentially four nights long across two real weeks.

We had already put half a night into Iron Qon, and were pretty well versed with phase one. All we needed to do was learn and get down the remaining phases, however long that took.

Apparently it wasn’t going to take long at all. First pull of the night and we pushed right through phase one, lost three people on the phase two transition, rezzed one and kept going to get some more practice in, and then somehow managed to navigate the encounter to a kill despite being down two and never having seen the rest of the fight before.

It was a bit confusing, but who would say no to a kill, especially one that was decently executed — considering the handicap we were working with for most of it.

So, mightily impressed with ourselves, we continued onward to go throw ourselves at the Twin Consorts. I wish I could say we had a pretty interesting tussle with the twins, but instead we just rolled them like a cheap rug. An inglorious one-shot of a boss that we had never seen before (save LFR). I can’t recall a single moment of peril at that. Kind of disappointing to tell the truth.

Twins now ranks up there with Primordius in the pantheon of fights that were as exciting to kill as a slowly deflating souffle is to eat.

Sad trombone.

With the twins having been dispatched, all that was left was to somehow put some credible attempts in on Lei Shen. No one was prepared for the fight — who could have imagined we would have killed Qon so quickly and then the twins as well? Unheard of!

We took a long break so everyone could watch the video for Lei Shen and then did some break discussion before marking up the platform (is that officially the Throne of Thunder itself?) and getting in position for the pull to come to us. We were then off to the races, and put in a solid hour of attempts before having to call it a night.

I must admit, I foolishly allowed myself to get hyperoptimistic and believe that we could have killed him right then and there. I don’t think I was full prepared for how difficult, so to speak, the fight was going to be. It wasn’t, say Ragnaros-difficult, but it was definitely one of the tougher bosses we’d hit in Throne thus far.

The best we did that night was successfully get through the first transition, though not much farther than that. Regardless, we had a good basis and a lot to discuss on the strategy thread before the next raid.

And so on the following raid night, this past Monday, we reassembled with the goal more than ever to down Lei Shen and officially clear the instance.  We were not going to extend the lockout again, so if we didn’t down the Thunder King that night, we’d have to wait two more weeks (with the new scheme) for our next shot. No pressure.

We started off with some ok attempts, taking until try four to get our not-dying-on-transition mojo back. The first time we saw phase two, I had the pleasure of watching Voss get punted off the platform by a Fusion Slash. I laugh, but if our positions were swapped, I would have done the same thing having completely forgot about that ability until the millisecond Voss’ feet left the ground.

Second to last attempt saw us pretty much master phase two, and clear the second transition as well. Things were looking great and it felt like a kill was in reach.

On the very last attempt we had the first time we exited the second transition with no one down at all, so the battle rez was still available. Burn phase began and we went to town.

Much like how the tanks forgot about Fusion Punt, we also completely blanked on the stacking dot. A little ways into the phase, Voss asked what my stacks were at, and before I could report back that they were apparently forty (woops) I had collapsed in a heap. (I may have been tunnel visioning on attempting to squeeze out damage. May.)

They brought me back up and the tanks got their act together for the rest of the fight. We cruised to a kill as everyone failed to get killed by Lightning Whip, or blown off the ledge, or stand too close to Thunderstruck. Having failed at failing, we were rewarded with a kill and an Ahead of the Curve feat of strength.

Happy trombone.

It felt so good to get that kill, especially as a particular kind of redemption from our stumbling in tier 14. We really earned this particular dethroning. Now rather than entering the next tier with sub-par ilevels and a huge handicap, we’ll be heading in just about where we need to be. It’s very exciting.

And now we have heroic Jin’rokh on our plates for tonight, which hopefully will go smoothly. I know we’re horrifically late to the party, but I always prefer this phase of a tier, where the pressure of getting the normal stuff down is gone and you can enjoy the delicious gravy of heroic modes and collecting higher ilevels at a more casual pace.

Indeed, if there’s anything last week has convinced me of, it’s that we are ready for hardmodes.

Speaking of higher ilevels, I really need to get the remaining runestones and pickup my goddamn cloak.

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I broke it

We also killed Dark Animus for the first time on Monday, but that's old news. On to Iron Qon!

I just had to open my big stupid mouth.

Last night was the first raid for our new holy/ret pally, and as we all began the ascent towards Jin’Rokh’s plaza, I mentioned offhand that my last guild had this curse that whenever it was some new meat’s first raid horrible things would happen. The curse of the new guy, so to speak.

Someone accused me of leveling a jinx, which I immediately brushed off, because that’s just superstitious nonsense. (Ha… ha… yeah?)

We actually wiped on Jin’Rokh — which was utterly bizarre, because the last time he killed us was probably the first night we were in Throne of Thunder. It was at this point I got nervous.

Then, on the way through the windy trash, Voss’ internet gave out. Same thing for our other raider in that area of Canada, so it seemed to be a provider issue. That left us with one tank and only 9 people on in guild, all of whom were currently in the raid. Eep.

So we cleared the trash up to Horridon, hoping that maybe a miracle would strike and Voss would triumphantly return. No such luck. He logged back into mumble via a phone app and told Alaron to swap to tank and we would have to 9-man it. So it went, and the fight actually went down with very little trouble.

We continued on towards Council which threatened to present the first real hurdle. We managed to 9-man the fight, though it was messy, and slow, and being down that one dps made pushing the empowered troll really tight until Sul was dead. When all was said and done, if you told me the fight took 10 minutes to kill, I would not have been surprised.

On to Tortos and we managed to pick up a 10th person, after he was able to log in using a tethered phone connection. Despite having Alaron available to tank, the absence of Voss’ turtle-like ego demanded that I grab the opportunity to single-tank the fight. I’d always wanted to do it, but it seemed pretty selfish when you’re sitting there with two tanks.

I don’t think Alaron minded switching back to his main spec in the slightest, and so I did my best to handle all the tanking of that fight. Battle Healer wrangled bats for me, and I threw out all the AOE I could. Unfortunately, as a result, I totally dropped the ball with lining up ShoR and the bites. Thankfully though my health never seemed to be in any serious danger. I’m hasty enough that I was probably catching half of the Snapping Bites between internal rhythm and quantity alone.

Also, I must admit that I got a little giddy at all the Vengeance I had. It was a dirty feeling.

When Tortos was toppled, we headed further into the depths to poke Megaera and hopefully finish the night (it was 20ish minutes before raid end that this point) only one boss behind our usual. We tore through trash and got set up to hopefully knock over Meg. Alaron was back to tank, and we pulled. The fight was uneventful, as it’s always been since our first kill, and we had no problems salvaging what we could from the evening.

In the end, the night could have gone a lot worse, so we really got off easy with only 5/12 at raid end. And of course — lesson learned — never speak of the Curse of the New Guy again.

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June 20, 2013
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Double whammy!, &c.

Taking a nice dip in Primordius' soup.

It’s been nearly two weeks since my last post (woops, vacation last week!) and there have been a few excellent developments in BT’s raiding dance card. We’ve managed to keep our excellent farm night pace, easily clearing the first 6 bosses in 2 hours. Not to get too far ahead of myself, but last week on farm night we almost did 7 bosses before end of raid, pulling Durumu once about a minute before the 11:30 end time.

Didn’t work out, but it was definitely worth the shot!

And speaking of Durumu, last Monday we had an amazing progression night, knocking off both Durumu and Primordius in the same two hour period. Durumu wasn’t too bad at all; we started the night with some excellent pulls, and despite a few flubs with the maze and our color-blind, contrast-impaired raid leader, it was immediately apparent we had a solid shot at a quick kill.

A few more attempts later and Durumu was taking his little nap in the center of the room. (He is napping… right?)

It couldn’t have taken more than an hour to kill Durumu, because I distinctly remember feeling really excited that we had a good amount of time to attempt to get Primordius as well. As we worked through the trash, Chronis (who also raids with Apotheosis as their brewmaster tank) was giving us a run down on how he dislikes the zerg/Patchwerk strategy for the fight, which I immediately began chanting for. Sure, it’s cheap, but that boss has a shield on its loot table, so all bets were off.

I can see why Chronis hated it though, the zerg strategy really is boring to execute for just about everyone except the healers. You just stand there and whittle away at the boss and try not to do anything interesting. Perfectly okay for squeaking out a first kill (well one may argue convincingly that it’s especially not ok in that case) but I hope we get to do the fight as intended in the future. If only for the haste buffs.

The next few weeks raiding will be pretty low-key, I think. I’m traveling for work all next week, depriving the guild of a second tank. So there’s the crushing Catholic guilt, of course. Hopefully I won’t kneecap our momentum.

Three’s a crowd

Also last week I managed to finally get my mage to ding 90, after letting him stew at halfway through 89 for far too long. I’d been leveling him with Dan as a social thing, so neither of us wanted to level without the other and our non-raiding WoW time just wasn’t syncing up. Finally he ended up deciding that he hated the warrior he was leveling and instead picked up an old Warlock that was sitting at 80 (if I’m remembering that detail right).

So I finally just bit the bullet and did the hour of questing that would push the mage over the edge and to the level cap.


This is a huge new frontier for me. I’ve never had a third level capped character before. Though, to be fair, I don’t even log into the druid anymore even just to do Halfhill farming. At first I thought my general malaise with the druid meant I just didn’t like alting, but the mage proved that quite wrong.

I am loving the new gear grind for this character and all the possibilities that are laid out before him. I’m also enjoying learning to play the character correctly. It’s been a real blast thus far.

Now that Dan is on his warlock, we’ve been half-heartedly reenacting the famous warlock-mage rivalry, mostly with him taunting me over his high ilevel and amazing loot luck, and me teleporting away without offering him a portal. Because he can go make out with a Beholder.

I’m also (and this is slightly embarrassing to admit) super excited about getting some transmog gear for my mage. It’s pretty much digital dress-up, but regardless, I can’t wait to rip holes in space and time while looking like a Kirin Tor Archmage.

Is that weird? I don’t care if so. It’s too much fun to care.

I’m also so, so thankful that Blizzard made all the changes that they did between the launch of Mists and patch 5.3 to make alting easier. I was able to cap valor first on Rhidach and then Eronac with little-to-no fuss. Having the Barrens weekly to score a free epic once a week is wonderful as well. And the reputations are hardly a burden, considering I was 4000 away from exalted with Klaxxi when I dinged 90. (August Celestials is another matter, but not everything can be a gimme, I suppose.)

I’m sure I’d be singing a much different tune if I got the mage to 90 two months ago, but whatever.

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June 3, 2013
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First impression from 5.3′s aftermath, &c.

Tell me this is not the most adorable paladin ever. GO AHEAD AND TRY!

It’s only been a full day since 5.3 dropped, but wow, what a great patch. I have never felt so unpressured by the valor points grind, thanks to heroic scenarios. Like 15 minutes for 120-150 VP once per day, which is amazing. Despite an urgent need to cap every week (at least, until my gear is full upgraded) I have no concerns about how long it’ll take me to get that done.

The scenarios themselves are pretty bite-sized content, but I appreciate the step up in difficulty that the heroic flavor offers. Hopefully them not being a complete steamroll just yet will keep them interesting and not at all tedious. You also cannot beat that return on (time) investment.

In the three that I’ve run so far, all of them have included someone being a tank, which seemed to be a huge help. A healer was definitely not mandatory, but having one person taking and mitigating the damage from some damaging trash pulls was well worth it. The bonus timers also seemed pretty easy to hit (granted, that was in Throne gear).

I didn’t do much in the Battlefield: Barrens world event, but I liked what I saw.

Well, that's well and good, but the Alliance are super friends now. That's exciting, yes?

I’m also a little annoyed (okay, jealous) because the Horde storyline right now is so good and the Alliance angle on it just cannot compare, no matter how awesome and allied and cooperative we are and how we’re planning out some sort of sneak attack with the Trolls as cover. That’s all well and good, but it’s so boring compared to a rebellion. Strife is sexy and exciting; reconnaissance is dreadfully meh.

Still, it was really nice to be back in the Barrens. I have good memories of that zone, especially after I learned how to exit general chat.

The whole event should be a nice diversion now that I’m pretty burnt out from caring about the Isle of Thunder. So, excellent pacing on the content additions there, Blizz.

Zoom, zoom

Fried chicken.

In my post the other day I talked about how critical it was for us to keep up our speedy pace and get all the farm down in one night, so we are poised for only progression on our second night. Well, thankfully, I did not jinx us! We had an awesome pace last night and stormed right through the first half of Throne of Thunder in two hours, chain pulling our way to Jin-Kun’s fresh corpse only a few minutes before raid officially ended.

Durumu won’t know what hit him on Monday!

I also picked up some great loot last night, among them an expertise-itemized Bracers of Constant Implosion, Zerat, and Ji-Kun’s Rising Winds (thanks to Voss). The tank upgrades just by themselves freed up enough expertise that I was able to push to 26% haste. It’s not an amazing amount, but I’m really happy that I’m finally starting to stack up that wonderful stat. If I could get a Worldbreaker’s Stormscythe to drop, I think I could do some serious damage.

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Come to papa!

Let's see how many bird puns I can fit in this post.

Ah, karma. I bitch and moan about the scarcity of shields, claiming that the best I can hope for is some benighted hand-me-down from one of two fights in LFR, and then Visage of the Doomed has the audacity to drop off of Horridon and make me look like an ass.

I am not embarrassed to admit that when I saw the item on Horridon’s corpse, my immediate reaction was to utter in mumble what someone might charitably describe as a deep, throaty gasp. (Yes, I’m aware how horrific that sentence is. When it comes to shields, even dodge/parry ones, I have no shame.)

I’m not sure I would have to, but I can’t tell you enough how much of a relief it was for that shield to drop. I really thought I was going to be out in the cold for a good, long time.

Things are looking up!

Plucked from the sky

Speaking of looking up, after raid last week (which, I must say, was fantastic) we found ourselves at the end of the night looking at Ji-Kun once more. We executed fights wonderfully and generally made great use of our limited raid time. Thursday lined us up nicely for a full Monday of Ji-Kun progression.

And so it was. Last night we hit Ji-Kun once more and before long it was Bye-Bye, Birdie. I have no idea what was going on with the flying teams, being firmly planted on the ground, but they were completely on top of smashing the nests’ contents. Healers were similarly on top of their arena, and puddles were not in danger of overrunning us.

As for tanking, Voss and I had a pretty good handle on our roles. At one point we noticed that he was having trouble getting back to Ji-Kun post-Down Draft before other people (or, tragically, hunter pets) would, because he’s so damn slow now that he’s a DK. However, he was also the only one between the two of use that was consistently tanking during Down Draft, so there was an easy fix to be had.

We switched up who started tanking the fight, which put me on the ball when Ji-Kun started flapping her wings. Thanks to Speed of Light, I could pretty much stand still if I lined it up with Down Draft, which completely negated the tragedy of Snarf the Wind Serpent getting cut down in his prime. Teamwork!

I must admit, being the optimist I am, I did not expect us to get Ji-Kun last night. I feel like it usually takes us two solid nights to learn a fight, at least according to the trend line from the entirety of Throne of Thunder. With last night only being the second night we hit Ji-Kun for real, by all rights we should have finished up the night disappointedly hopeful. And yet, there we were, victorious, with Ji-Kun plucked from the sky after only thirteen attempts.

The goal this week now has to be a repetition of last week’s farm night success: storm through all completed content and clear a night for progression. It was doable last week, but will it be so this week? With 12 bosses (and ALL THAT TRASH) and only two hours to a raid night, there is a wall coming where we can only kill so many bosses in a night and still have decent time for progression. After all, we’re no spring chickens.

The time may come soon to talk about extending lockouts …

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Winning at the waiting game

I may have already had the meta equipped before he got the chance to say that.

I am not a patient man (this is an understatement). For the first few weeks in Throne of Thunder, I was very lucky with my Secrets of the Empire drops. Four one week, five and so on, until I had reached lucky thirteen. Then the torrent slowed to a trickle: one a week, two if I was lucky. Finally the week before last, I had four to go and (of course) I scored three, putting me one away from finally completing the quest. This week it took until Megaera on the Saturday LFR to nab that last Secret, but that was all she wrote, at last.

Once the LFR was out, I turned in the quest and proceeded to head over to the Isle of Thunder to do the solo scenario with Wrathion. I had heard that it was considered difficult, so I cajoled Antigen into walking me through it on mumble, him having done it just the week before. (It’s what he gets for starting the quest two or three weeks before me and finishing one week before.)

In hindsight, I can’t help but feel the scenario was pretty doable as prot. I did it as DPS, per Antigen’s recommendations, but the Sha Amalgamation seemed pretty killable even with much lower DPS. I think I would have appreciated the extra health/survivability as well for the second half.

No way this chain of events will ever bite me in the ass.

Either way, after a lot of panicked DPSing I came out the other side with the Lightning-Tempered Spear. The next challenge, how the hell was I going to find a Nalak group to bum off of on a Saturday? I went over to where ol’ Sparky hangs out, but he was just chilling, with not another soul in sight. Combine my EST play hours on a PST server with the “medium” pop we are afflicted with, and you have a very deserted Isle.

In desperation, I tried pulling it by myself and just running for it. I could make it for about 10 seconds, with Divine Shield’s help, but eventually Nalak would zap me to death with his “someone better be in goddamn melee” mechanic.

So then I asked Antigen to throw on his under-construction prot set and spec and try to buy me some time. We did one try that didn’t go very well. Though, that was not his fault, imagine if he needed me to burn down a mob as ret within 30 seconds. I’d probably end up accidentally killing him instead.

Anyway, then Voss was super kind enough to hop online and give me a hand. The groveling I offered didn’t hurt, either. He and Antigen both distracted Nalak for just enough time that I was able to kite the spark and steal Nalak’s essence, or whatever it is we were doing there.

I then excitedly bounded off back to Wrathion to present him with an Artifact of Untold Power which will not possibly even come back to bite me or the rest of the world in the ass. Nope, not at all.

How appropriate that everything is so orange.

And in exchange he deigned to grant me a trinket as payment for a job well done. Thanks, bud.

I have no idea how much longer we have until 5.3, but I doubt it’s enough time to get all the Titan Runestones before the patch drops. I am perpetually behind!

Regardless, I’m just excited to have my legendary meta and to be finally done with that phase of the questline. It felt like an eternity ago I began collecting those damn secrets, and it was getting pretty frustrating to kill twelve bosses over the course of a week and see only one or two. My luck with any kind of drop has been abysmal for the past month or two, and I was getting awfully tired of feeling like I was being knee-capped by my terrible RNG.

Jin’rokh still hasn’t dropped his axe, and I still can’t get any epic shield to drop for me this expansion (seriously, if I didn’t buy Sultiru’s I’d still be using a blue) — but at least I finally have my legendary meta. That feels good.

Empty cavern, down!

On a different front, raids this week started pretty slow, but we made up for our bad start in a very strong way. On Wednesday, we had some issues on Council, taking forever to drop what was a one-shot for us the week before. I’m not sure what exactly the issue was, but it felt like everyone was just taking way more damage than usual. Something was off.

We managed to knock that down and then get two cracks at Tortos before the night ended (the downside of two-hour raid nights). That left us last night with the task of killing Tortos quickly so we could get more progression in on Megaera.

It took us about two attempts, but we killed Tortos and moved on through the endless gauntlet of trash to have just over an hour to get some work done on Megaera. I swapped around my talents and glyphs (unglyph Divine Protection, spec into Hand of Purity) and steeled myself for another dance with Meg.

Last week’s work on Megaera was a painful exercise. I was making full use of every tool at my disposal, and even that didn’t feel like enough. Over the course of the night, I made an effort to get a good rhythm to my cooldowns, what to use when, to smooth out the most dangerous parts. Like tanking a blue head with four stacks of its “Stop Ignoring Me” buff, or just tanking the red head in general.

Our best attempt of the night was a wipe at 4% on the very last head, which was very trying, thanks to us ignorantly deciding to do the red head last. Woops.

So last night, it was determined that red would be second to last to die, then green or blue, to prevent stacking the deck against ourselves so much once again. We then pulled, and I fully expected a hectic wipe, but instead we killed it on the first try.

I know I said I thought we were on a good roll, but that was ridiculous. Everything clicked, tank damage felt much more manageable (I hardly used any cooldowns until tanking red as the second-to-last head), and as a whole everyone executed near flawlessly. I love this feeling of momentum. Hopefully we can keep it going and get Ji-Kun down in short order. The sooner we get to Primordius, the better.

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May 14, 2013
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And then there were none

I enjoyed this cutscene immensely, for reasons I'm sure of.

I don’t need to tell you what a shitty day yesterday was, and how much I needed a little escapism after all the events that transpired. Thankfully, WoW was kind to me and was more than happy to oblige with an excellent night.

After the last raid last week, we had knocked down Horridon for a second time and were once again looking at the Council of Elders assembled before us in all their tusky glory. We ended up putting in six attempts on them, which went okay. Not bad at all, but also not amazing enough to produce a kill. Pain points were easy to identify and we talked a little bit about them on the boards, including the red herring of using a Grounding Totem to mitigate the damage from Kaz’s Overload.

It turned out though that that tactic was hotfixed about a month ago — so, thankfully, our shamans had no reason to get delusions of grandeur.  As it turns out, we didn’t even really need a workaround for Overload, as it didn’t seem to pose any sort of problem with our attempts last night.

I can barely use the plural there because we two-shot the fight. The first attempt we tried a balanced approach, being extra cautious about definitely burning the empowerment out of each troll, and then during Sul’s turn (which was third, too soon!) he caused a wipe. He was at 47% health.

Our kill attempt we decided to shake things up and absolutely focus Sul, but be very responsible about getting empowerment knocked out before it caused an issue. So right off the bat, all the dps cooldowns went flying and we got Sul to about 50% before we needed to pull off. Not bad.

We continued on, with me and Alaron (feral druid) plinking away at Sul’s health bar, as the fight continued. Eventually we got it to just under 25% before Sul had even empowered, and then when it was finally his turn, he was down to 10%. It was a breeze to knock him off with only one Sandstorm cast.

Once Sul was down, obviously, the dynamics of the fight changed immensely. The difficulty curve on this fight is steep right off the bat and slopes straight down as each troll gets knocked off.

I’m sure a significant part of our success is thanks to the recent hotfix nerfs. As we were winding down the fight with only two trolls left, I know that Marli managed to sneak a few blessed beasts over to a much-too-close Kaz, and I think she got one on Malakk right before we knocked him off. Yet even with those flubs, it wasn’t a huge set back, and the fight never again felt as dangerous as it did while Sul was still alive.

After the last boss (Horridon) where the difficulty ramps up a lot as the fight continues across multiple phases and then levels out at the end, it was refreshing to work an encounter with nearly the exact opposite dynamic. Rather than tension and adrenaline and neck pain building up to a critical mass across almost 10 minutes and leaving you exhausted at the very end, you have a brutal sprint which turns into a leisurely jog with a tailwind zephyr guiding you along. One could even call it refreshing.

So after that refreshing kill, we got knocked down a hole to face Tortos. This is another fight where paladin tanks are in a very excellent position to cover the massive, angry beast portion of the fight thanks to Shield of the Righteous. I look forward to once again trivializing one of the main damage sources the boss has to throw out.

We put in 10 attempts, but they all felt really good in terms of progressing through the fight. Now unlike the previous two encounters, on Tortos it’s the same exact fight and mechanics the whole way through, you just need to execute and not succumb to fatigue from the repetition. Which I am totally okay with.

Much like after our Council attempts last week, I have a good feeling about Tortos. I don’t think it will take too long to topple.

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Third time’s the charm

Pictured: Voss rolling over Horridon, looking for its loot.

Last night we killed Horridon for the first time, which felt like a real achievement. Jin’rokh is a real tease, leading the uninitiated on to later drop their guard and then eventually their corpse. Horridon is where Throne of Thunder first really grabs you by the hair and says, “you eyein’ me, boy?” (Shoutout for Shaen, there.) In short, here’s where the raid begins to get real.

Anyway, little more than 12 hours ago we were staring at that massive engine of meat and headbutts for our third “real” night of attempts on him. No, I’m not counting our first night of post-”oh, hey, Jin’rokh was pretty easy” wipes nearly a month ago. That was a lifetime and 20 average iLevels ago.

Sizing up the fight before we pulled, we went over the few changes of strategy we were going to make — mostly dealing with positioning — and then steeled ourselves.

First attempts were rough. Shaking the rust off (accumulated since Wednesday) necessitated a few quick wipes on the early doors. Voss commanded us to buckle down and get to work, because he was sick of doing the first three doors and wanted to start getting some progression in. Then, fourth attempt we busted right through door 3 and then on through door 4, with only a smidge of terror-induced self-urination on my part. I don’t know what changed in the previous week, but the BEARS seemed to be somewhat declawed.

That attempt saw us fall apart just as Jalak hit the floor. The fight, obviously, became infinitely less chaotic when the adds were out of the picture. I think it’s safe to say that the difficulty of the fight is really concentrated in doors 3 and 4, eh? (At least in 10N.)

Itanya later retrieved the loot from Horridon's massive piles of feces.

Next attempt was obviously the kill (I admit, my narrative structure here is being a tad obvious). I wish I could say I eeked the kill out with some derring-do or something heroic, but I can’t help but feel I wasn’t playing anywhere near my normal level. Maybe it was the quantity of adds and the rapid shift in gears between doors or how my weak snap aggro resulted in playing whack-a-mole with taunts from door to door, but I was on pins and needles through most of our latter attempts. And I’m fairly certain my play suffered a bit as a result.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t BSODing or anything — I just feel that my reaction times weren’t as good as they could have been. With lining up Shield of the Righteous and Triple Puncture, I dropped the ball a few times. Mostly because as DBM’s timing was elapsing, Horridon would turn to get Double Swipe off, pushing back Triple Puncture, and thus completely waste my ShoR buff. Generally piling up enough holy power — between banking and the 25% haste I have now — for an emergency ShoR isn’t difficult, but I managed to futz it at a critical point.

On our kill attempt I was holding Horridon as Jalak hit the floor and the dino Rampaged. As one of the Triple Punctures was coming up, my timing was completely off and I missed hitting my Q key (ShoR) before the attack occurred. I instantly dropped, bone and sinew torn asunder. Voss picked up the dino while I shamefully took my battle rez.

When Voss accumulated enough stacks of the debuff, I offered a switch and took over for him. I think it was around 20% health on the boss at that point. Driven by pride and divine right, I was determined to bring this flight down for a gentle landing in an field full of loot.

I was extra cautious and — it’s really incredible how much more attentive you can be when you get to stand still and don’t have to chase BEARS everywhere — just focusing on doing my rotation as best I could. I lined up a ShoR with each Triple Puncture like a peg in the appropriately shaped hole. It felt so good in that moment to just be zen and work through my active mitigation.

After an indeterminate amount of time (see: zen state) Horridon apparently lurched over and coughed up his purples. Sadly no haste/mastery legs, but the kill was a good enough reward, I guess.

Then we spent the last 20 minutes of raid throwing our corpses at the Council of Elders, but that’s a problem for another day.

So, goal for the future: be better at Horridon the next time around. A kill is no excuse for ‘good enough’!

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April 9, 2013
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BEARS, &c.


Having seen and suffered through working on Horridon twice this week, I am obligated to kvetch on this, the most addsiest of adds fights I have seen in a long while. And not only is it an adds fight, it’s a multi-phase adds phase! Quelle horreur!

That said, I really like the fight. In the heat of the moment I absolutely hate it — or at least my blood pressure does — but after the fact, when I’m logged off and curled up in the fetal position, a new appreciation for Horridon blossoms within me. It’s a great challenge for a tank, to have so much thrown at you. It’s going to feel so good when we topple it, which we will soon.

The way Voss and I have been handling the fight is that I tank the dino on the first door and he the adds, and then for the remaining three doors, we reverse. He takes Horridon the whole way through, me using Hand of Protection to drop his stacks every time the big guy charges a door, and I handle adds on the doors.

The first time we hit Horridon, when Throne first came out, our primary obstacles was mathematics. We met the boss after having clawed our way to clearing the previous tier by the skin of our teeth, and as a result we had little gear to show for it from the latter half of the tier. The adds had too much health, or tanks had just not enough, and our dps couldn’t keep up. It wasn’t pretty.

We spent the last two weeks in a “rebuilding season”, getting that average raid iLevel up, and dealing with some vacations that affected raid attendance. Then we came back this week for our first crack at him, not knowing what to expect. At the end of raid Monday night I felt a lot better about the fight. We were tearing through adds and making good progress.

There were hurdles, of course. For example, door three was a huge cluster-you-know-what. As the dinomancer was coming out we were swimming in diseases like … no, no, let’s not do that.

Anyway, we came away from our beat-down on Monday with some strategy changes in mind, mostly involving positioning of Horridon. And likewise not standing so close to door three, to give us more time before the disease-ridden trolls get within melee range of people. We also decided to switch to two-healing, which paradoxically (or not) would make the healing easier by killing those trolls before they could splash their viral slurry on us. (Or however it is they are transmitting disease through punches.)

Thursday we hit Horridon again and in the 90 minutes, give or take, we had on it there was some great progression. Door three is officially old hat and we’re on our way to similarly dominating door four. My biggest hurdle, personally, is BEARS. (The joke here being that, after our very first wipe on door four, I was asked in mumble what killed me, and I responded in a panicked voice: BEARS. That one-word explanation more than sufficed.)

Those bastards just about spend most of door four herding me around their quadrant of the arena. Because of the cleave, I’m constantly on guard about accidentally clipping a healer, and then a totem goes down, so I retreat and they try to shift to my side and I have to reposition, and so on. And, of course, being goddamn bears, they hit like trucks.

We only got, I think, three attempts involving door four and I’m really itching to get back there. I think we are very close to closing out this fight. It’s a really intense encounter, but it’s going to be so satisfying to finally down, so we can continue moving through the instance.

On the mage front

If you asked me to describe the exact moment I fell in love with my mage — deep, unconditional, let’s-run-away-together-and-leave-this-all-behind love — it was the moment I dinged level 58 while running Lower Blackrock Spire with Dan’s warrior. Suddenly I gained Arcane Brilliance (5% crit!) and, I’m pretty sure, all my heirlooms upgraded to TBC stat scaling — or at least it felt that way as my fireballs seemingly doubled in damage in the space of 5 seconds.

The extra crit has been fantastic. Hot Streaks were few and far between, and now it feels like one out of every three fireballs is lining up a cascade of burning death. It’s fantastic. I was really doubting the wisdom of leveling as fire, with such low crit, but now all my concerns are assuaged by the gentle warmth of crispy, fiery death.

I’m at the point where I can pretty much kill a mob by myself before Dan charges in and explodes it into paste with a 10k Shield Slam crit.

We’re in Outland now, of course, and it’s jarring going from shared skull/boss mobs and fast respawns to the mad race to be the first to kill any every-alt-for-itself quest mob. And not to mention, suddenly, DEATH KNIGHTS.

Goddamn night elves in that awesome dark blue plate have popped up like how people used to belief that leaving a bag of flour opened overnight would cause mice to spontaneous generate out of thin air. The DKs swarm across Outland, death gripping everything in their path.

Dan and I have agreed to avoid most of the Outland dungeons for the time being — our thought is that it’ll just be hugely frustrating for him to tank, as every one of those DKs is still in their god-mode phase, and will likely just run through aggroing anything they can get their disease-ridden hands (oh wait, those trolls are starting to make sense now) on, and they won’t even have the good decency to die once in a while. Who needs that?

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April 5, 2013
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Confounded, &c.


Our raid week post-5.2 was a familiar tune for most normal-mode 10man guilds. We rolled the seemingly undertuned Jin’rokh, and then found ourselves banging our heads against the wall of the seemingly overtuned Horridon. (I guess Blizzard agrees, that encounter was hotfixed yesterday.)

Not much to say about about the Throne of Thunder otherwise, for obvious reasons. I guess I can state that I perversely enjoyed the trash after Jin’rokh. It felt like something out of a platformer game: avoid the unkillable guys with the lamps, don’t get blown off the bridge, somehow kill the banshees before they melt your raid. Initially terrifying, but a small and welcome challenge from the usual “stack up and AoE down” style of trash.

Now, if the rest of the raid has similarly gimmicky trash — well, then it can go straight to hell.

We definitely began to feel the effects of our post-Un’sok race-to-the-finish before the patch hit and the Ahead of the Curve feats of strength were yanked away. As of the patch dropping, we had only killed Un’sok, Grand Empress, Protectors, Tsulong, Lei Shi, and Sha of Fear once each. With a four hour raid week across two days, we just constantly extended the lockout and worked our way through each boss.

This was great for our immediate goal of finishing the tier before the tier was unofficially finished, but it was terrible for the long-term goal of gearing up a raid. We finished 5.0′s raid offerings with at least exactly the gear loadout we needed to complete those fights. But once we started on Throne of Thunder, it became obvious that the numbers were not in our favor.

So last night we decided, instead of just throwing our corpses at Horridon some more, to dodge back to Terrace and Heart of Fear and clear the former and get as far as we could in the latter before time ran out. Hopefully some needed upgrades would follow. Side note: Those nerfs are very noticeable. Ho-boy.

Anyway, I picked up a new pair of boots from Protectors and the cloak that I’ve been coveting for quite some time from Vizier, so I was a happy camper. When I went to socket the yellow gem slot in the former (and this is where the title comes in!) I was just shy of hit cap, so I figured I’d use the hit/stam gem. When 5.2 hit, I noticed that all the Nimble Wild Jades in my gear had been converted to Confounded Wild Jades, though I didn’t think much more of it.

Then, last night, I went to try to cut one of those gems and found myself, er, confounded. Even a quick jewelcrafting research wouldn’t teach me the pattern. Obviously, Blizzard had cut the gems from the game  – for obvious reasons, hit and stamina are both blue, and the gem shouldn’t have existed in the first place! — and I was slow to get the memo.

A little obvious in hindsight, perhaps, that it would be removed. I should have prepared accordingly and stockpiled a few stacks of them like some mad apocalypse prepper. It was a really handy gem cut.

Regardless, I wish I had an uncut Confounded in my bags or bank. I like to hold onto obsolete crap like that.

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