Tuesday, August 13, 2013

3.24. Ulduar: Week One Concludes

DoD dances in Iron Dwarf fashion,
celebrating the defeat of The Assembly of Iron,

The Assembly and Kologarn

Returning Sunday afternoon, we caught our first glimpse of Ulduar's innards. The ancient titan architecture boasted enormous rooms, supported by pillars of crimson and gold. I was perpetually looking skyward, trying to see how high they stretched. Each new area we discovered was adorned with constellations and interstellar maps of Azeroth amid other unknown worlds. To our left awaited The Assembly of Iron, while the staircase ahead led us to an enormous construct acting as a both a bridge and a gatekeeper to more secrets. To our right...a secret passage to a room locked by four sigils not yet in our possession. A room we knew only as the "Celestial Planetarium". For now, we began with the Assembly.

Upon entering the room, we were greeted with three creatures of iron: one dwarf, one vrykul, and one giant. Brundir, Molgeim and Steelbreaker (respectively) posed a familiar challenge. Like the Bug Trio so many years before, we were given the option of killing them in whatever order we chose, but certain orders would prove more difficult than others. Cheeseus played it safe and had us execute the Assembly in easy mode to start. This meant Steelbreaker would be the first to die, followed by Molgeim, and ending with Brundir. There was no magic to our execution, I held Steelbreaker while Omaric picked up Brundir, leaving Dalans to take Molgeim. From my point of view, the Death Knight's wide array of mitigation abilities made for a mindless tank-and-spank. 30 minutes after we began the Sunday raid, the Assembly of Iron was down. The raid team received another dollop of achievement spam in the form of "Heroic: I Choose You, Stormcaller Brundir!", an obvious nod to Pokémon. I, in typical achievement whore fashion, was sure to chug my Iron Boot Flask moments before Brundir fell, granting me an additional achievement, "Heroic: But I'm on Your Side!"

The remainder of the afternoon was spent on Kologarn. The combination of green lasers shot from his eyes, coupled with the swarm of elemental fragments produced by his disintegrating arms made for a chaotic set of attempts. This chaos was further exacerbated by server stability issues and various players disconnecting, which continued to plague Deathwing-US, weeks after 3.1 launched. We defeated him, but it was messy. I asked Cheeseus what we planned to do about cleaning it up in preparation for knocking out meta-achievements.

"I’m not making any posts until I do my 10 man."

"Ah, you have a 10 man team, nice. Given it a name yet?"

"The Eh Team."

DoD uses the defeated Kologarn as a bridge,

When a Plan Comes Together

Cheeseus loved to raid, but even more than that, he loved to compete. He had a hunger to demonstrate expertise and prove it behind the wheel. Thanks to his promotion, he had control of leading the 25-Man progression team, but he wanted to push himself further. In his eyes, this meant lead a 10-Man team as well. Upon arriving in DoD alongside his friend Sixfold, he knew nobody, and so began to seek out the best and brightest players he could find. He quietly observed as we cleared content week after week in Naxxramas, watching which players rose to the top. And when we weren't raiding, he approached them about the possibility of forming a 10-Man team to tackle content. He made it clear that they would be pushing hard, so while achievement spam was definitely on the horizon, he wouldn't be putting up with a lot of excuses. He wanted a group of players that gave a shit about what they did and strove to make a name for themselves.

What emerged from this experiment was "The Eh Team", referring to both a popular 80's TV show, and a nod to his Canadian heritage; our affluence to subconsciously append the utterance to the end of every sentence. Starting with Sixfold, he also pulled Crasian, the Death Knight known for his addiction to achievements and good fortune with drops. Adding to the list was Bheer, the veteran of DoD who had been with us since Vanilla, but had taken time off during TBC. Bheer had been concerned about losing a spot in 25-Man progression by being a Druid (since tanking spots had been locked down), but I encouraged him to switch to another class he enjoyed, Enhancement Shaman. Cheese saw the niche Bheer filled, and added him to The Eh Team's roster. Cheese also pulled Larada the Hunter, a player not entirely cut out for officership but no less skilled behind the wheel, his ranged DPS traditionally topping our meters while his infamous cat "Lucy" ripped the flesh from any target Larada sicked her on to.

Filling out The Eh Team was Bulwinkul, another Canadian that pushed the damage meters through the roof via Boomkin affluence. He also called upon the expertise of Omaric, the young Warrior with a penchant for impressions, often giving the 25-Man raid commentary in the voice of the Movie Guy. Omaric was important not just for his vocal talents; he was an affluent tank, especially attuned to the mechanics of Warriors, and had helped grant me clarity surrounding the situation involving Kurst. To backup Sixfold’s heals, he called upon Gunsmokeco the Shaman. Guns had been a core member of 25-Man progression as far back as early TBC; his storied career cementing his position in Cheeseus' lineup. 

For the remaining tank position, Cheeseus turned to Crasian, who in turn, referred a player he knew was worth his weight, a person whom had played the role before, and had returned to DoD to turn over a new leaf. The player was none other than Crasian's own roommate Taba, aka Bretthew -- the Paladin who had stormed out in a fit of anger, late TBC, but had since realized the error of his ways, and looked to turn over a new leaf. He rounded off the team with Nestonia, the Warlock formerly known as Ekasra, my Shaman replacement throughout TBC who had also had a "rebirth" of sorts, delivering far more efficient damage than he ever had before in heals.

It was an impressive roster. Cheeseus had big plans for The Eh Team. It would be through their successes that the 25-Man progression raid would also find success.

Holyvirus (back-center), Lyticvirus' Paladin, stands
near the body of the defeated Mother Shahraz,
Black Temple

Paying to Fail

"I'd like him to see some progression if we could."

"Even if it means you stepping out?"

"Yeah, I'd be happy to give him my spot here and there."

Omaric caught me off guard. Elites were guaranteed a spot week-after-week, a perk I put into place at the start of Wrath -- one I felt would diminish the more hardcore players from looking elsewhere for a raiding guild. Now, he was suggesting to me that he was willing to give his spot up almost entirely.

"What's the motivation here?" I asked, pressing further.

"Well, between Dalans and you, there aren't a lot of other spots open for tanks. Y'know? It's like this would really be the only way to get him to see some progression. And we'd like to see him gear up a bit to help with the 10.”

"Cheeseus' 10."

"Yeah...he's gonna tank for Eh Team."

"Well, I don't see anything wrong with it, but know that if we rotate him in, it's almost assuredly going to mean you're rotated out."

"Yeah, I get it. Totally cool."

I thought of another option.

"...unless of course you pull a 'Lytic' and start bringing your Shaman Raradin to progression." I was referring to Lyticvirus, the raider who did double-duty for us at the tail-end of TBC, flipping between a Warlock and a Paladin as the raid needed. It was informal and clunky, but exceedingly beneficial in a roster that was constantly volatile. In that respect, Lytic's flexibility with having multiple characters was a godsend.

"Heh, yeah," Omaric chuckled, "Raradin's pretty fun. We'll see. Actually, I've been gearing up a Druid. They’re pretty bad-ass now!"

"So I’ve been told."

"Hey, what happened to Lytic anyway? I haven't seen his DK since Naxx."

I paused a moment.

"Lytic's gone. He didn't take our failure of The Immortal well."

On the record, that was about all Omaric needed to know. More transparently, Lytic stopped showing up to raids after he and I had a vocal disagreement about his failure to take responsibility for causing two separate Immortal washes. But by that point, I had been responsible for one myself, and still felt regret about my handling of situation; forcing people to donate 22-slot bags to the raid as a means of an apology -- which was the same as paying to fail, which I supposedly learned during High Astromancer Solarian. It wasn't my intent to let them pay to fail, but my judgement was clouded. I wanted players to start taking accountability for their actions, and making them donate 22-slot bags forced them to acknowledge their failures...in the hopes of repairing them before time ran out on 3.0.

Unfortunately, Lytic wasn't comfortable tucking his tail between his legs...many players aren't. After a confrontation, he stopped signing up -- stopped showing up. My Elite rules specified that after two consecutive no-shows, you would lose your rank. Upon receiving the demotion, he circled back to the forums for one final "I see how you treat your people" jab, but by this time, I had become emotionally detached from his plight. The experiences of Xorena and Khaevil, of Rocraw and Cattledrive, of Wyse...and of Kurst...had bled me of so much empathy, I was no longer looking to make everyone my friend.

I was looking for people to follow my rules.

"Ah, that sucks. I hated that fuckin' achievement! Lytic was a good guy. Hope he comes back some time."

"Me, too, Omaric...me, too."

I alt-tabbed over to phpRaider and examined the roster.

"Let Taba know that we'll get him in pretty quick. In the meantime, keep your Warrior and your Shaman at the ready. We'll figure out what we take on the day we go in."

"Thanks, Hanzo!"

I knew it wouldn't be long before I'd see Bretthew back in the lineup. The question was: would he pull any stunts like he had in TBC, or had he truly learned his lesson?


Dalans said...

Return of the PUMPINTITAN

Anonymous said...

Love your blog.

Shawn Holmes said...


Thank you very much! Share it!

Anonymous said...

I have just read this entire blog in a day. Absolutely exceptional writing, I feel like I have been teleported back in time. There are few conflicts and conquests you have written about that i can not relate to. I look forward to reading more of you work, and I have passed it onto everyone in my current guild.

Shawn Holmes said...


Thank you very much, for both your praise and your tenacity at consuming the blog in one sitting!

You may have noticed I'm cleaning some old posts up, so you may need to backtrack later, but I assure you that it will never be at the cost of new weekly posts.

Anonymous said...

I was up all night with JetLag and just decided to power through. The detail is great, I am amazed that you switched from AQ40 at that point and moved to Naxx rep farming. Bold to say the least, no wonder you were paranoid about the guild. However, fortune has been known to favour the bold.

Cheeseus said...

For the record, our first name was "Cheeseus' bus full of retards, and Larada". Sadly, some of the raiders took offense to my good taste.

Unknown said...

Pfft, I was so *for* that name..... lol.


Unknown said...

It was a great name.


Unknown said...

Great read.. Looking forward to more

Ekasra said...

I loved the first name.

Unknown said...

The whole Eh team will be reading very closely over the next few weeks.... :D

For the record, I was totally going to turn over a new leaf.