|Kerulak heals through the final moments as |
Descendants of Draenor defeats Onyxia (40-Man),
"Where we headed tonight, Hanzo?"
There were no shortage of options to choose from. We were two weeks into regularly farming content in Trial of the Crusader, which meant we were more than adequately equipped to work on heroics in Trial of the Grand Crusader. There was also work left to do in the titan city of Ulduar; only four metas remained in our quest to conquer Glory. Neither instance could be eliminated from the to-do list just yet. Gearing was still happening in both the main 25-Man progression, and in the alt 25-Man run. Traditionally, Annihilation had run the Alt-25 on Saturday evenings, as his schedule was much more manageable then. Unable to contribute to the progression raid as he did during Vanilla, Annihilation led a makeshift crew every Saturday night to continue to gear and vet people. Recently, he'd taken a bit of time off from the Alt-25 and handed the reins to Crasian in the interim. Even with two 25s a week, players still lacked gear, but displayed no similar deficiency of interest to raid. Having a lot of options was a good thing. A great thing for us in particular.
The "problems" of today were very different than that of Vanilla. Shutting one instance down in lieu of another wasn't going to work; the roster had too many opinions. It seemed like a lifetime ago, the hard decision I made in Vanilla to shut down AQ40 to make room for progress in Naxxramas left some of my most dedicated, hardcore folks with a bad taste in their mouth. This time around, we'd divide our time evenly, until Glory of the Ulduar Raider was complete. Amid all the greatness of these options. there were still speed bumps to handle. The side-effect of splitting our time equally between ToGC and Ulduar was that my normally consistent raid signups began to skew heavily in one direction or the other. Fridays we would come up short on healer signups, and Sundays boasted a lack of Ranged DPS. The message was painfully clear: Raiders, who normally enjoyed more flexibility in their signups, began to sign up for only the raids they wanted. And by 'wanted', I mean the ones in which bosses dropped gear they had their eye on.
It always comes back to loot.
The curious experiment unfolded; amoeba left alone in the petri dish, driven by their primal instincts. It seemed that no amount of guild camaraderie, team spirit, or acknowledgement of triumphant effort would penetrate the thick membrane of some players. No matter how noble the cause of the guild they called home, their allegiance was always to themselves first. If I didn't explicitly point it out to them, they were none the wiser -- lost in their own dreams of gearing to the tooth, unintentionally following a path that suited only them. Other players weren't as transparent. A conspiracy theorist might hypothesize that they were putting on a front, faking their dedication while manipulating the system to suit their own needs. Feign interest in the guild and teamwork...for the greater good of loot. I didn't hold it against them. Human nature is what it is and it wants what it wants. My job as the guild leader wasn't to change their minds; I already knew that was impossible. My job was to make sure guardrails were in place to keep the bowling ball from hitting the gutter.
In order to keep the signup entropy at bay, we randomized which instance we'd start with on Friday night. Until invites were complete and everyone was departing Dalaran, the evening's raid would remain a mystery, and no hippy teenagers were going to meddle in this grand plan. So, as invites finished up and the request piped in over Vent, I threw the Mystery Machine off the scent.
"Head to Dustwallow Marsh. Time to pay a visit to an old friend."
|Mature tanks an internet dragon, while|
Descendants of Draenor defeats Onyxia (25 Player),
A New Fantastic Point of ViewFive long years.
It had been a five year roller-coaster ride of craziness and brutality, and for those of us still around, it was hard to comprehend. What game had any of us played for this amount of time? I couldn't think of any. Certainly, there were titles that I played on and off over the course of five years...but never one title every single day of my life. By any measurement, World of Warcraft had been a colossal success, and when some MMOs boasted a quarter of a million players on their best day, WoW had ballooned up to 11.5 million worldwide. No MMO could touch it, even though many continued to try. I had zero interest in exploring others. The story, the lore, the challenge, the raiding, and the guild were all the reasons I needed to keep coming back. To commemorate their five year grip on the genre, Blizzard threw us a surprise bone midway between patch 3.2 and 3.3. We returned to Dustwallow Marsh, and looked up an old flame. The Alliance know her as the conniving Lady Prestor, but for the majority of the Horde, we called her by her true name:
After clearing familiar trash, we stood face to face with our old friend, the very first internet dragon I ever slew. Once a 40-Man raid boss, we struggled with her for six weeks during Vanilla. In between our Molten Core runs, we snuck into her lair, practicing our positioning and our healing buddy system. In those days, our raid lacked structure and consistency. We threw together whomever we could...and went. Annihilation, then in charge of my warriors, was our dedicated Fire Resistance tank, so it was decided he would hold the bird in place while the rest of us scraped away at her scales, the giant dragon batting us away like mosquitoes. Anni would often call me on the phone, ad-hoc, to see if I could jump online for Onyxia attempts, and I'd race back to the computer, log on to Kerulak, in the hopes of getting another round of loot distributed to the raid, getting them one step closer to a Ragnaros kill, one foot in the door of Blackwing Lair. There was no phpRaider, no signups, no vetting raiders, or promoting Elites...
...we'd come a long way from those days.
As we wrapped up the buffs, I examined the roster. Only a handful of original 40-Man raiders remained, and only three of them were present for our first Onyxia kill: Dalans, Sir Klocker, and myself. Turtleman had missed the first kill; both Neps and Bretthew joined later on in Vanilla. And Bheer, hmm...memory was fuzzy. I shot him a tell.
"Were you here for our first kill, back in the day?"
"Nah", Bheer replied, "I brought Kragnl a little later on."
"Ah. Well, you are still one of the original 40-Man core. It's good to have you here."
Bheer sent back a smiley. The next whisper arrived via Cheeseus.
"Would you like to do the honors?"
"I remain but a humble puppet."
He took it to Vent, "Who thinks Mature should tank her?"
A round of a booing and profanity lit my headphones up that it nearly brought a tear to my eye. Wise-asses.
"Sounds like the mob has spoken. Mature it is. Ikey and Taba are on adds."
I was still getting used to hearing 'Ikey' in Vent, but Omaric wasn't kidding when he said he was cutting over to his druid, and it looked to be official from this point forward. I gave everyone the count down, ran in and grabbed the bird by the proverbial horns. The raid cut deeply into her scaled armor while I kept her pointed in the same direction Annihilation had for so many months in DoD's past. She soon took to the air and the tiny dragon whelps swarmed onto us. Mangetsu, more excited than ever, lept into the middle of the group spamming a yell macro:
[Yell From: Mangetsu] UNGRATEFUL WHELPS, THY BACKSIDE IS WHOLE AND UNGOBBLED
The lovable nerd brought down a rain of fire on to the whelps, and within seconds, World of Warcraft began to lock up.
"Whoa whoa whoa! What the shit?"
"Losing it...I'm disconnecting. I think. Ah. Yeah. Gone."
"Fucking typical. Nice work, Blizzard. Five years and you still can't get this raid to work correctly."
"Calm down, relax. It's probably a bunch of outdated add-ons. Just deal with it."
The view inside Onyxia's lair became a slideshow as my game client choked and sputtered. Ten seconds passed by before things began to smooth back out. I glanced at the raid. Six people were offline; 24% of the raid. Years earlier, our first kill boasted a total of seventeen players dead when Ony hit the floor -- a percentage somewhat closer to 42%.
"Ok, relax, it's responding for us again. Just log back in."
One by one, those who disconnected returned to the instance, their toons re-materializing in the spot where the whelplings were destroyed. Ony was back on the ground by this point, and I already had her repositioned in Anni's old spot. The raid resumed their attacks and her health pool whittled away, ending with her giant body flopping to the cave floor in a death animation forever burned into our brains.
Killed in one pull, even with six disconnections half-way through the encounter. The ol' bird deserved better than this.
|The 25-Man progression team slays Auriaya while|
keeping her Sanctum Sentries alive, earning
"Crazy Cat Lady (25 Player)",
Indecent ProposalKologarn's body fell backwards, collapsing to form a bridge to the Antechamber, and our screens lit up with another achievement, "With Open Arms (25 Player)", the result of having defeated him without destroying either arm.
"I believe that's a Server 2nd."
I was a bit taken aback.
"Really?....huh. It didn't seem all that tricky."
"Well, it's a matter of discipline, really. It's easy to pour too much into the hands to free people, breaking them in the process."
We moved into position for Auriaya to attempt to knock out another meta, Crazy Cat Lady. For this strategy, Dalans and I held two sentinels each, while Taba held Auiraya, and Omaric (now Ikey), did double duty: Feral Defender tank, when it was alive, and whatever kitty DPS he could contribute to the boss when the Defender was dead. The most complex part of this hard mode, more than anything else, was still the initial pull. When all four sentinels were in proximity of one another, they one-shot even the most well-geared tanks in the game. Staggering the pull and separating them was a tricky but doable tactic to survive the first few seconds of the fight. Once in position, holding a pair of cats away from Dalans took little effort, and thanks to Death Grip, switching packs of cats with him was a breeze. Before the night was over, we had drawn a line through "Crazy Cat Lady (25 Player)", and with its completion, only three metas remained.
"Nice work everyone, that wasn't too bad, eh?"
Bulwinkul piped up, "Yeah, we knocked that one out back in May."
The Eh Team strikes again.
"So...I've been giving the job a bit of thought. I have a proposal for you."
"How would you feel...about the possibility of maybe having two raid leaders?"
Omaric's offer was a bit unorthodox; certainly not one I'd considered. But, there was merit in this. Perhaps they could share the weight, taking the load off of each other, perhaps their time-until-burned-out would be lengthened. It could only work if they held a completely unified front; neither Omaric nor his backup could ever once argue with one another. They had to appear to always act in unison; one indivisible unit at the head of the raid. It could work. Maybe.
"Well, I don't see why not. I suppose it depends on who your partner is. Who's the lucky gal?"
"What would you say if I suggested Taba?"
Bretthew. Mother of God.