Thursday, June 21, 2012

1.15. Fumigation

Kerulak gets a 466 "critical" on the second
jump of a Chain Heal circa Vanilla,

Insane Carpenters

"What the fuck is making my system so slow?" one of the players typed into guild chat.

"My framerate is shit, rebooting. BRB" typed another.

I glanced down at officer chat. The whining was no less muted.

[Officer][Dalans]: This mod is a pig.
[Officer][Blain]: Just deal with it.
[Officer][Ater]: Make sure you have the latest. Couple of the other mods might conflict.

The A-team clearly had a very vocal opinion on RDX. They thought it sucked.

"Why do we even need this mod?" asked Cycotic, one of our Mages.

"In order for a lot of the raid-checks to work, everyone has to have it. The mod communicates data back and forth through specific chat channels to let us know who's repaired, what resistances you're at, whether or not you have health and potions. That sort of thing. It also helps us decurse."

Cycotic ignored the entire first part of my explanation, "Yeah, but I don't need to decurse."

I took a deep breath. Technically, you do; you're a Mage, but because you're also a moron that hyper-focuses on your damage to the exclusion of everything else, you don't think you need to decurse. The explanation never left my lips. Speaking aloud into Ventrilo would have no effect. We'd explained Mage decursing time and time again, but the Mages just didn't get why they had to do it. And they weren't alone. A lot of players didn't "get" why we had to do anything special, use any add-ons, perform abilities not essential to their damage rotation. Even in the face of our successes from continued streamlining, they clung to their old ways, defiant and stubborn. And it wasn't just the junior ranks that were guilty of this.

I clicked a button on my UI that Ater had shown me, one that would ping all the players in the raid and report back their version of RDX. Annihilation was still absent from the list.

"Anni, are you having a problem installing RDX?"

"I told you guys, I don't use add-ons!"

"You can disable all the frames, but we need it installed on everyone's system so it can communicate the other bits of data from the raid back to us." We were using different words to say the same thing, over and over.

He logged off and jammed the mod into his add-ons folder as directed. Officers needed to lead by example; I couldn't have any of the leadership bitching publicly about our new requirements. But, in Anni's style, he preferred to speak rather than type, so it was immediately out in the open on where he stood on RDX. Hearing that, members of the A-team continued to rag me about it. The insane carpenters insisted on using their bare hands instead of hammers. It made absolutely no sense to me at all. I thought we had put this behind us. I was wrong.

Annihilation logged back on. I clicked the button to report back RDX versions; this time, Annihilation passed the check.

"Wow!" he exclaimed loudly in Vent, "my system performs like shit now!"

Ventrilo lit up with laughter from the group.

The group, minus me.

Kerulak, en route to Princess Huhuran,
The Temple of Ahn'Qiraj

Princess Huhuran

The nature soak group was still shy of where we needed it to be, but Blain insisted that we get started. The giant olive-colored wasp hovered in the center of her cave, her wings speckled with dots of red. We reviewed the strategy. Princess Huhuran called for a group of ten players to encircle her, maintaining a close distance throughout the fight. The reason being: these ten players would be subjected to an AoE sleep via her Wyvern Sting. Even the Tanks weren't immune to this. Gear with a high NR rating would provide us with the chance to get a binary resist, but if not, we couldn't blindly decurse the effect. Doing so would immediately cause a spike of damage on the player decursed. Tanks were the only reasonable decurse targets in this encounter, the rest would have to eat the sleep.

Huhu's primary attack on the tank was Acid Spit, a stacking DoT that was completely unresistable, forcing us to employ a Tank rotation. But, for one of the first times in our raiding career, Princess Huhuran was an untauntable boss. A tank rotation was no longer just as easy as calling out, "OK take it from me!", followed by the press of a single button. The tanks had to be ultra disciplined in managing their threat, paying close attention to KTH Threat and performing their most efficient rotation of abilities. There were no Tricks of the Trade in Vanilla, no Misdirects...and without taunt, the management of threat rested solely on the skill of the tank. Use the wrong rotation and you'd fall so far behind that there'd be no way to peel Huhu off of a Tank loaded up with DoTs.

Along with Wyvern Sting AoEs and a handicapped Tank rotation, Huhu would enrage throughout the encounter, forcing the Hunters to once again coordinate a Tranquilizing Shot rotation. Blizzard wasn't making this easy on us by any means. Those mechanics combined were more than enough to keep the raid fully tasked, yet Blizzard had one more trick up their sleeve. At 30% health, the nightmare began. Princess Huhuran would begin her Poison Volley in a last ditch attempt to wipe us. Every three seconds she remained alive, the enormous wasp would barrage the closest fifteen players with poison damage, to the tune of 2000 nature damage. As players dropped, new players with Nature Resistance needed to move in, keeping the soak team alive, which added precious seconds to our attempt.

The princess was a gear check, a skill check, a discipline check, and a communications check -- in short, she was a real litmus test of our ability as a progression raid team in Ahn'Qiraj. Making it up to Huhu was a walk in the park; it was well-known that less progressed raid teams were starting to clear Skeram through Fankriss. Making it past her would be another opportunity to define us.

DoD defeats Princess Huhuran,
The Temple of Ahn'Qiraj


The numbers on Poison Volley scared the proverbial shit out of me. My chain heals were averaging between 400 and 500 per cast, at a cast time of a flat 2.5 seconds -- back then, there was no Haste to speed casts up. Meanwhile, Poison Volley obliterated player health. At 2k a pop, my own pathetic health pool that barely broke 6k would be depleted in 6 seconds. Even if I were targeting myself, back-to-back chain heals would grant me a whopping one additional second of life. That meant that I, along with others who had no Nature Resistance, were not the priority -- self-preservation was off the table. The task at hand: those with the highest nature resistance absolutely had to be kept alive for as long as possible. That meant nearly non-stop chain heals, and practically no time to sit on the 5-second rule. Everything I could do to keep my mana pool up was vital.

I cannot begin to recount how many 1% wipes we had on Princess Huhuran. Players dropped like flies in the last 30% and trying to keep them up was like playing Whack-A-Mole in Hell. Since the stronger single-target healers were assigned to keep the Tanks alive, it was up to us Shamans to FFA heal, keeping the remaining roles alive for as long as possible. It wasn't easy. The tiny health pools of Vanilla coupled with the insane brutality of the nature damage involved meant that if you saw a player spike, it meant they didn't have the nature resistance necessary -- but instinctively, you wanted to save their life by winding up a heal...only to have them fall over dead before the heal was cast. With Lesser Healing Wave too inefficient, and Greater Healing Wave too slow, my only option was to down rank Chain Heal, pick a target I knew would survive more than two seconds, and stay disciplined on them.

A difficult prospect for a player like me, prone to panicking, spazzing out on any and every button available.

At the end of the second weekend, on the third night of attempts on the Princess, players once again expired at a rate I couldn't keep up with. I healed as long and as hard as I could until my Mana pool was nearly exhausted, and then I joined the dead. The RDX health bars emptied out, and Huhu's unit frame drew down to 3%....2%. Players alive dropped into the single digits. Six alive...five....four. Huhuran's health dropped to 1%. Three players alive. Two players alive. The enormous fly flipped over onto its back, its legs twitching as the ganglia got its final shots from a dying nervous system.

With only two players alive, the Princess's reign was over.


Cherri Banks said...

Ooohhhh I remember these fun times... There are some bosses that you just truly, truly hate.

Anonymous said...

Druid healer with my own NR gearing, was the back up for when we were short, remember being the last cat standing and took down Huhu, and cat dps was terrible back then ;)