Tuesday, February 26, 2013

2.38. Day of the Dog

Descendants of Draenor defeats Shade of Akama,
Black Temple

Services No Longer Rendered

Akama huddled in the shadows with a sickle in each hand, his eyes fixed on the six summoners keeping his darker, shadowy essence jailed in eternal servitude. Illidan was all too suspicious of his Broken comrade, seeing through his mask of withered features and tentacled beard. He knew the truth. Inside, Akama was, and always will be, a Draenei, a force for good powered by the light of the Naaru -- an alien race destined to overthrow the burning legion. This being the same legion that Illidan now served under, so it was in Illidan's best interests to enslave Akama's shade, guaranteeing his loyalty. Illidan had the foresight to see Akama's eventual betrayal.

All we saw was a loot piƱata.

Blain instructed us to split into two groups covering two trapezoidal doorways on opposing edges of the room. The Ashtongue Deathsworn flooded the room from those two entryways, the unwavering allegience binding them to defend the Shade of Akama. Meanwhile, at the top of the steps, summoners encircled the Shade and needed to be brought down. Our raiders unleashed fel fire, frost and arcane missiles, and volleys of arrows while the summoners struggled to maintain imprisoning beams ensuring the Shade of Akama stayed bound to Illidan's allegiance. Blain put the best and brightest DPS on those summoners; it was imperative that the magical prison be disrupted quickly. Only then would the Shade be unleashed, attacking its master while we joined Akama in severing his unwilling servitude from The Betrayer.

"C'mon, c'mon, we're behind," Blain called into Vent, noting that every second we wasted in inefficiency was adding to Akama's impending death. If Akama fell victim to his Shade, the encounter would be a wash. I watched the damage meters as I tried desperately to beat Melkezadek, an undead shadow priest who consistently schooled me. We were neck-and-neck and for a brief moment; I felt like I might actually pull ahead. The Shade of Akama fell over dead, with Dalans exclaiming, "That's it?", pointing out the sheer insignificance of the fight.

Melkezadek had pulled ahead. I remained the undefeated champion of 9th place. Two spots above him was Eacavissi, one of the longest running and most successful warlocks in Descendants of Draenor's history. I had acknowledged his proficiency with the warlock long ago, making him my warlock officer following the events of the second exodus.

"Almost got you, Eaca," I said menacingly.

"How's ninth place treating you?" he replied. I imagined him grinning on the other end.

One week earlier, Eaca was playing a different tune.
Eacavissi at the top of the meters for Gruul,
Gruul's Lair

"DPS harder!!"

Eacavissi was a warlock to be reckoned with.

The guy was often unmatched in the ranged DPS department. His destruction capabilities commanded the top spot among casters in DoD raids. Eaca carried himself in a typically quiet and reserved manner, but his power spoke for him. When he wound up his Shadow Bolts and lit his targets up with Corruption and Immolate, he produced so much damage that his threat burst out of Omen like a lanced boil; even the best of tanks struggled to keep control of mobs under Eaca's fire. It became a running joke in the guild that Eaca's tactic in dealing with mobs he pulled off of tanks was to DPS harder, killing them before they reached his position far to the back of the room. We bugged him about it regularly, but don't confuse playful ribbing with an attack on his skill. Eacavissi knew exactly what he was doing every step of the way, and it was his mastery of the warlock that caused Recount to float purple bars to the top.

Zanjina was constantly swimming upstream in Eaca's wake.

Cutting over from a tauren shaman to a troll priest mid-way through tier 5 was the first strike, and the change of roles from healing to damage didn't help. It wasn't that dps was more difficult -- ranged damage is unequivocally the easiest role to play -- but old habits die hard, and in my quest to act as the raid's mana battery, I found myself continually dropping out of Shadowform to save people. Coming to terms with the fact that my priest was no longer in a role of player preservation was an exercise in discipline. I worked on it every night, that scab that you just want to scratch, to pick at until it bleeds, not giving it a chance to heal. I just had to shake it off like a driver about to fall asleep at the wheel. Resist the urge to drop Shadowform. You're not helping anyway with pathetic Renews. Keep Vampiric Touch up. Keep Blasting. Keep Flaying. I kept on it, amid the knowledge that a troll priest's racial, Hex of Weakness, was an embarrassing joke in comparison to that of an undead priest's Devouring Plague. I kept on it, even with my sub-par Frozen Shadoweave, which didn't hold a candle to Eacavissi's Corruptor Raiment. I kept on it, and was sure to remind Eaca that he better watch out, that one day I would catch up to him. He laughed it off, knowing full well that a troll priest lacked the tools necessary to match the power of a destruction warlock.

And then one day, we arrived at Supremus.

Descendants of Draenor defeats Supremus,
Black Temple

Supremely Irritating

At the far eastern end of the illidari training grounds, the monster stood. He was an infernal of absolute immense proportions; I felt as though Zanjina would fall backwards simply from the act of having to tilt the camera so sharply toward the sky...just to frame the boss on my screen. He felt larger than any other boss we'd come toe-to-toe with, and those toes were large enough to crush the entire raid in a single, insect-squashing stomp. His eyes were bluish fire burning holes into deep sockets in that rock of a head, staring mindlessly forward, guarding the entrance to the inner catacombs of the Black Temple. We cleared the entire training grounds in preparation for the mother of all kites.

Phase one was simple. Tank-and-spank the big boy while side-stepping columns of blue flame that snaked out from his feet. The flame was not unlike Doomfire in their tendency to attune to new targets, but far less detrimental to the success of the raid. One could burn up in Supremus' blue flame, and the worst consequence would be a multitude of raiders pointing out your violation of the fundamental rule of raiding. The gargantuan rock monster also employed a Hateful Strike. Since DoD had never experienced Patchwerk during Naxxramas, this was our first taste of it. Gruul's Hurtful Strike wasn't nearly as impactful. More than ever, melee was going to have to be exceptionally careful in their positioning, for if the off-tank's health were to drop below their own, their lives would end in tragedy and humiliation. For this, Blain requested that all raiders (save the tanks) remove their Power Word: Fortitude buff.

Wonderful. Now Zanjina has even less health. You should be eating dirt in no time.

Phase two was when the pace picked up. Fixing a gaze on a player, Supremus would chase them relentlessly. Visually he appeared in slow motion, as if chasing us at the bottom of a pool. But his great size allowed him to cover a large distance with ease. If an unlucky player allowed Supremus to close said distance, the enormous Infernal would punt the player across the training grounds, forcing them to run back into the fight, losing precious healing or dps time. And what Supremus attempt would be complete without a myriad of volcanic eruptions spewing forth greenish hellfire into the raid? The geysers were unrelenting, catching players that ran around in a panic, killing them in seconds. Even the great and powerful Eacavissi was having problems with kiting. We ground out attempt after attempt; many of them ended in a slow, painful loss due to attrition.

Supremus didn't scare me. I lit him up with dots, blasts and flays as I had with every boss that preceded him. I had no problems turning and running when the time came for Supremus to become my best friend. Players struggled to heal, to DPS, to move in and out. For me, his towering inferno of intimidation was a non-factor. He'd fix his gaze on me and I would turn and run, eyeballing my DoT Timers, ready to refresh Shadow Word: Pain at the click of a button. I never needed to stop and turn to face my chaser, the risk to help burn him down and meet a fiery fate by his boot was too severe.

After a multitude of wipes, the raid finally managed to turn Supremus into a pile of rubble. Kiting all the way down to the far end of the training grounds was a lost cause; only when we decided to keep the kiting area constrained to Supremus' starting point did we begin to really get a handle on the boss. Recount was hidden from my UI, so I clicked a button to bring it back into view, seeing how I fared against the mighty Eacavissi. I beat him. I beat the entire raid. I was #1 on the meters. My DoTs had given me the edge on this fight which caused everybody to be constantly in motion.

"Suck on that, Eacavissi!" I called out into Ventrilo.

"Enjoy it while it lasts!" he called back. Finally. I could clock out of The Burning Crusade claiming victory on at least one boss. It wasn't much, but I took the tiny win regardless. One is better than none.

Every dog must have his day.


As the raid began to dissolve for the evening, Blain called everyone's attention in Vent.

"Have your PvP trinkets ready for next week, people."

The signal gun had been fired. Archimonde was next on the shit list.


Sarge said...

I dunno why i enjoy reading these so much. I guess it just really brings me into a deep nostalgia over arguably the best years WoW had. There may also be a touch of ego involved in that I hope like hell someday when you get that far in the timeline my name will Pop up XD

Shawn Holmes said...

I'm doing my best to be fair to touch on the most impactful members of the guild throughout our colorful history.

Unknown said...

I am likewise enjoying these little blips of DoD history that happened before my time. Nostalgia +1. This topic is also something I can greatly empathize with, but the deeper understanding almost makes me ashamed of the ship I was running as raid lead, haha. Good times!

Unknown said...

OK I lied I'm not ashamed. It's definitely interesting to see how different styles evolved though.

Sarge said...

I think we can all, even those across the timelines of old and newish, can agree.....We hate you blainne.... in only the way raiders under your command could... A hate that borders on seething and yet equal parts respect.

Unknown said...

I'm much more excited to see the other point of view when he gets to WotLK. Been reading it all though.

Anonymous said...

It was bugging me as I was reading through this monograph, and I finally figured out why. Supremus is BEFORE akama. I am just curious why you put the akama story before Supremus, therefore completely making me think I was going crazy?

Shawn Holmes said...


I flipped them around because the theme of this post is my growing expertise with a shadow priest, which (as you saw) hit a new milestone with the death of Supremus -- and my knocking our top DPS (Eacavissi) down to number two.

The flip happens at "One week earlier, Eaca was playing a different tune."

It didn't work the other way around, re-telling Supremus and then Akama. That read like "Oh nice, you finally kicked ass...oh wow, you sucked again on Akama." Not the point I was trying to make here. Some creative adjustment in the narrative flow resolved that, but can be easily misconstrued as "WRONG ORDER LOL" from a few readers.

I'll own that. :)

Anonymous said...

Reading this instead of playing classic