|Mature completing "When the Cows Come Home",|
(Almost) A False StartOne week before we were scheduled to begin raiding, I logged on and discovered Annihilation was accepting invites for Naxxramas. Immediately, I called him into Ventrilo. It was time for a quick come-to-Jesus.
"What's going on?"
"Ah hey, Kerulak, nuthin' much, just puttin' a bunch of people together here for Naxx, see if we can maybe get it off the ground."
"...No! You can't just throw a group together like this!"
"...Uh, why not?" He seemed a bit put out.
"Anni, haven't you read anything I've posted on the forums?" It was rhetorical; I knew Anni hated reading the forums. "Do you not know about all the rules I've painstakingly detailed out here for the launch of WotLK? We're doing things differently now. Everything has a purpose. We have a scheduled start date and the raid rotations are all ready to go for next week."
He pushed back, "Yeah, but why wouldn't you want to at least get a head-start in there?"
"Maybe because I don't want a repeat of the fiasco at the start of TBC!"
Silence greeted me.
"You do remember what happened, right?" He must have at least partially remembered.
After a moment's pause, he replied, "...mmm, no, what happened?"
"Well, we had a bunch of groups that decided to unofficially start running Karazhan because we hadn't taken the time to purposefully make it official. No signups, no raid rotations, no set groups, just first-come first-serve. That lasted for one week, and then we started losing people because nothing was clear about how it was handled. That was the week we lost Baite to Pretty Pink Pwnies...remember now?"
"...yeah, I guess so. I remember parts of that, but I never knew the specifics..."
"OK well, now you know. I'm not trying to bust your balls over this, Anni. I just want to make sure you understand where I'm coming from. I have the entire responsibility of the success of the raid team on my shoulders now, and I know what's failed in the past. I'm not repeating those mistakes. We're starting on the scheduled start date, with the scheduled rotations, and nobody's getting a head-start: everybody's treated equal on day one. I want this as fair and unbiased as it can be."
I must have sounded insane to Anni. What's the big deal? It's just a bunch of guys getting together to check out the new content, maybe kill a few bosses. The days of looking at situations like these through rose-colored goggles were over. Starting folks early on an unofficial raid had ramifications. Some players might be upset that they were left behind, or question the lack of authority surrounding impromptu groups ("How could you let this happen, Hanzo?"). Even if it managed to slip under the drama radar, the fairness of the loot system would skew as certain members of progression started out with less of a need to bid. Are you getting this, Annihilation? Am I conveying the urgency of the situation to you? Or was I coming across like some sort of dictator.
"OK, Kerulak, we'll hold off. I never really knew this was that big a deal, but now that you explain it in this way, yeah...I can see why you want to stick to your guns. No biggy! We'll drop this invite."
He got it. Thank God. I wasn't just raving lunatic. There was a method to my madness and I needed everyone's support in making it happen. Luckily, there were folks like Anni in the guild I could count on that would understand my reasons, however unorthodox they appeared to be.
|Mature (and other Horde) is spit on by an|
infamous Dwarf Paladin from Deathwing-US,
The Wake Up CallI struck a deal with Anni; we'd keep things by-the-book, and in return, I'd commit to getting the raiders into Obsidian Sanctum one week early. The original plan was to start with Naxxramas on December the 12th, but due to this compromise, we were able to pull off a full signup on Sunday, Dec. 8th. The design of the Obsidian Sanctum invoked memories of our early days slaying Onyxia; a relatively small instance, only a few trash packs to deal with, and a single black dragon: Sartharion. What made this instance unique were Sartharion's three twilight drake guards: Tenebron, Shadron, and Vesperon.
The Twilight Dragonflight maintained an awkward alliance with the Black. Twilights loathed the Black, but at the same time, owed their existence to them, due in part to Deathwing's failed experiments in Blackwing Lair. Deathwing's consort Sinestra eventually succeeded in this endeavor, deep in the hidden chambers of Grim Batol. Politically, the Twilight had no choice but to act in the best interests of the Black: without their cunning and lust for power, the remaining Twilight faced eradication -- which was exactly what we were here to do. The strategy was simple: execute each Twilight guard, then pull Sartharion, avoid flame walls which would rise up out of the lava and sweep across the raid, and kill any Fire Elementals that assisted in Sartharion's defense.
He was killed in three pulls.
Naxxramas proceeded as planned the following Friday the 12th of December. I zoned into the instance alongside the raid team, and prepared to resume my role as off-tank. We began by weaving through the Arachnid Quarter, the easiest wing during its 40-Man days...and the only wing DoD cleared. We'd spent a good number of weekends working through the mechanics of the first boss, Anub'Rekhan, tossing us into the air, forcing us to run around the outside of the circular ring, avoiding his Locust Swarm...
We killed Anub'Rekhan in one pull.
Grand Widow Faerlina followed Anub'Rekhan, and in the old days, she required us to mind control her followers, which allowed us to prevent her enrage from one-shotting the tank. No such requirement existed today. We were free to kill her followers, or leave them up; whatever worked. Whatever we were in the mood for. She posed absolutely no risk whatsoever, and was executed. As the wake up call continued, we moved on to Maexxna, a boss I would forever remember as a glowing triumph for our guild back in the day. Maexxna's constant webbing of the entire raid team put the main tank at risk of dying without being able to receive heals, and we had to coordinate a "Nature's Swiftness" healing rotation among the druids and shamans. This, of course, was vital to the success of the 40-Man version of Maexxna.
She required no such rotation this Sunday. She was slaughtered in a single attempt.
|The 25-Man Progression team defeats Sartharion,|
SteamrollingAfter exterminating the arachnid infestation, we moved to the Plague Quarter, cleansing it of Noth the Plaguebringer, Heigan the Unclean, and wrapping it up with the defeat of Loatheb. In a distant past, Naxxramas (40-Man)'s Loatheb was a brutal, heal-intensive encounter requiring rapid reflexes and diligent communication -- massive silences would apply to the raid, preventing players from receiving heals for 80% of the fight. It is no wonder that Loatheb's name itself is an anagram for HEALBOT.
One pull later, Loatheb was dead.
Onward, we turned to the Construct Quarter, putting us in the direct path of Patchwerk, Gluth, Grobbulus, and eventually, Thaddius. I distinctly remember hearing horror stories from ancient hardcore raiding guilds about the damage output of Patchwerk. Fully geared T2 (Blackwing Lair) warriors were often being popped like balloons, forcing raiders to supplement their equipment with drops from AQ40. Patchwerk was, without question, a gear check in Naxx 40, and a true test of the min/maxing capabilities a raiding guild possessed. 40-Man Patchwerk kills often showed screenshots of only a few members in the raid remaining alive at the time of the abomination's death, as Patchwerk would hit his enrage timer, and proceed to kill one player per second with every Hateful Strike he delivered.
On this occasion, Patchwerk took two attempts for us. It would've been one, but a couple of healers locked-up...or maybe it was that they disconnected? In the second attempt, he fell over dead and everyone in the raid was still alive. You can probably guess how Gluth, Grobbulus and Thaddius turned out. They proved no more difficult than anything we had encountered, and we proceeded to make short work of them, signifying the end of the first raid night in Naxxramas-25.
I thanked the raiders as they headed out, and imported the DKP earnings and expenditures into our website. I glanced at all the loot that we acquired on our first night; the most we had ever seen in a single night of raiding...ever. And I remember quite distinctly the thought that entered my mind as I reviewed what could only be described as a "steamrolling" of this new raid content...
...what the hell was going on?