Artwork by Ka7
Si SeñorThe sharp, echoing shatter of a death knight's Icy Touch broke the silence. I glanced down at my phone, pulling up the SMS message. It was Blain:
"Forming a 10m team for icc. Want in?"
The first four years of my time spent in World of Warcraft saw me wrestling the delicate balance between game and real life. Finally, I had achieved some semblance of discipline in that regard, reducing my in-game time from "obsessive" to "measured". Maintaining a strict schedule of only two raid nights per week afforded me enough time to field all the remaining responsibilities on the other side of the screen. I ran my errands, paid my bills, grocery shopped, and spent time with the family throughout the week. Then, as the kids went to bed and Julie retired to her blogging, it was that evening time I utilized to piddle around, knocking out achievements or providing emergency services to other 10-Man teams looking for replacements. I glanced down at Blain's text and balked at the proposal. I had a good thing going. Did I really want to risk jeopardizing the balance I'd managed to wrap my arms around?
The lure of the game beckoned. My mind cycled through all of the latest changes to WotLK and how my administrative load had been lightened from the guild reboot. Taking both into consideration, my stress was the lowest it had ever been while running Descendants of Draenor. Perhaps I could finagle a tiny bit of additional raiding each week. I felt like I had earned at least that much. I thumbed a response into my phone:
"Schedule must be lite"
Another Icy Touch vibrated out of my phone.
"6-9. Anything past is too late"
I remembered Blain's east coast time zone, putting him two hours ahead of both me and the server.
"Dunno about 6. Too close to dinner after work"
Again, the Icy Touch.
"Get on when you can? 6:30?"
It was time to wrap up the negotiation. If I was going to sacrifice a little more of my free time, I needed to ensure I shaved it off of my administrative duties.
"Will join on one condition. You keep tabs on Omaric + Taba in 25"
"OK. Also have great name: Si Team."
I laughed at the juxtaposition, a clever play on words that poked fun at the Eh Team.
"Great name. Suspect Neps was involved"
A few minutes later, a final Icy Touch:
"See you Friday night"
I thumbed back my last response for the evening.
"Negative. 25m on its own this Fri. GL!!"
The 25-Man progression team was ready to begin digesting Icecrown Citadel, but the guild leader would not be present.
|Mature clears the first four bosses in Icecrown Citadel|
one week after the 25-Man progression team,
earning "Storming the Citadel (25 Player)"
Fly on the Wall"You just about ready?" I called upstairs to the wife. Julie mumbled something back, indicating ongoing preparations. I took my seat at the computer for a moment, then immediately stood up and circled the room. Moments later, I was sitting again. Looking for something to do, I clicked around with the mouse, scrolling up and down through the list of names. The only visible app running on my desktop was Ventrilo, the "PvE" channel populated with twenty some-odd names. The roster for this evening's very first foray into ICC was coalescing, just as I had decided via their rotations. I listened in on their conversation, watching as the speaker icons lit up, digitized voices chatting away. But I only listened; I offered no response, even if addressed. I spun the mouse wheel up and down with my middle finger. Snap out of it. You're not here. You're taking the night off. I took my hands off the mouse, then rubbed them together, standing, and then proceeded to pace the room once more. I was killing time, and they did not need me. They don't need you. Everything was under control. Everything is under control.
"Is Mature logging on?"
"He's not here tonight. Gone to an office Christmas party."
"I see him in Vent, though."
"He's spying on you, planning your imminent removal."
"I like to think that he's listening in to us as we speak, wondering how we are all so awesome."
"So, this is gonna be my first time as Frost. Damage might not be quite right yet."
"You'll be fine, Hells."
"Hey, anybody seen Bheer?"
"Dunno, haven't seen him on in like a week."
"Wow. No Bheer, no Riskers, no Mature? What's with all the losers?"
"Riskers has finals. He's studying."
"Studying for what?"
"I think he's going into lawn care. He does such a great job on my garden."
"Wow. That was wildly racist."
"But also hilarious."
"Oh, here's Sixfold. Nice work being on time and all."
"Sorry, I'm late, everyone. Court didn't go so well for me today."
"No worries, we're just pulling trash. I got your text."
"Get this group on the left, here."
"I see the rep is coming in now. Can't wait to get my hands on that ring."
"Have you seen inside this place? We have a lot of shit to cover."
"Yeah Eh Team did an initial kind of investigatory run, shall we say."
"I thought Eh team was done?"
"You were sadly misinformed. The first four are real pushovers. Interested to see what they did with 25-Man version of Deathwhisper. Gunship's a loot piñata. The other two are non-factors."
"I dunno what you were complaining about. That DPS is through the roof."
"Howling Blast, baby!"
"Ow, ow, OW!"
"Do we want to crowd control these?"
"Pretty sure we haven't crowd controlled anything since Serpentshrine."
"DKs suck. Go die in a fire."
"Ha ha! Jealousy is unbecoming."
"Your Mom is unbecoming."
"Ben, your damage is absurd."
"Hey! I'm just gettin' fed buffs. Spray this shadowy lovin' all over your faces."
"I just threw up a little. In my mouth."
"Here, check this out. Ah! Ahh! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!"
"Wow, I'm deaf now. Is it absolutely necessary to scream like that?"
"...aaaand muting Ben."
"Ha ha, owned!"
"Oh shit, I just realized...Mature's gonna miss the first round of Shadowfrost Shards."
"Next in line is Jungard. We already talked. Neps will issue 'em to him in the interim."
"Heh, not likely. I'm sending them all to myself."
"That won't earn any brownie points with me!"
"I like brownies."
"So what's the deal with loot? Was there a consensus on how we're handling off-spec items?"
"Ah, yeah, thanks for reminding me. We had some discussion with Kerulak about this. Basically if you are bidding on an off-spec item, you add 'off' to you whisper to Neps"
"So, like, 50 dkp off?"
"Also if you are a girl, whisper me links to your pics."
"I'll get those queued up for you right away."
"So, alt bids get dumped?"
"Yeah, when paired up against main spec bids. So mains will never lose to an alt bid."
"That's so much easier. Thank God for that change."
"Uh, guys? Yeah I uh...I have to go. I'm...being arrested."
"Wait, whoa...what? You serious?"
"Hold up. Six? Is he...is he responding?"
"Nada. He's still in Vent but it's dead."
"What the eff!!"
"I'll flip over to heals"
"Get Flamestriker on the line. The new mage? See if they can come."
"He cancelled out. Here, lemme see what's in his note. Says here he's working until 9."
"That’s fine, we'll go with 24 until he gets on."
"Wings, are you switching to heals?"
"Yeah, I just said that!"
"Hello, all. I understand my services are required."
"Can you heal?"
"No, but I can bandage like a motherfucker."
"Can't believe Six got arrested before the raid even started. Mature's gonna flip when he hears this."
"Get the feast down. Eat up."
"Guns, you got the..."
"...Healing assignments are out."
"Shit, I forgot flasks. Sorry, swore I had these earlier today."
"Open a trade with me."
"Thanks, Wings. What do I owe you?"
"This does not look terribly difficult."
"It's only difficult if you're a moron."
"But I'm mildly retarded!"
"Shhh, quiet, everyone. OK. Quick rundown: He's a tank-and-spank, stay out of the blue fire. When he starts spinning, spread OUT. Got it? Please do not stay grouped up, just...y'know...find some open space. Gonna make healing this a lot easier."
"Yup. During his Bone Storm whirldwind thing, he's gonna impale folks on spikes. Focus them down, then back on the boss."
"If we can get people off the spikes fast enough, we'll get an achievement!"
"You get an achievement just for logging on now."
"Sorry Mr. Grumpy!"
"Ready check going out."
"I'm still missing Fort and Might"
"Yo yo! Sleepy priests and pallies! Get on that, please."
"He probably can't hear you. Muted, remember?"
"I muted him, not the other way around."
"Wow, I am a professional moron."
"Ok, I'm ready now."
"Taba, do the honors?"
I felt a presence behind me. Julie stood in the doorway, purse in hand.
"Ah, nice. You're ready. Alright then, let's get this party started!"
I grabbed my keys and left the computer room, flipping the light switch off. Behind me echoed the shouting of commands and the rush of adrenaline, filling the emptiness of the dark and vacant man-cave.
|Mature wins the first Kalu'ak Fishing Derby,|
completing "Accomplished Angler",
The AccomplishedThe first weekend in ICC was wildly successful. But it wasn't really a weekend, it was one night.
While my company wined and dined my wife and I at a restaurant in downtown Denver, the 25-Man progression team proceeded to knock out Lord Marrowgar, Lady Deathwhisper, the Alliance Gunship, and Deathbringer Saurfang. Because of the Friday steamrolling, Sunday afternoon was freed up to return to the Tournament of Champions. I looked forward to knocking out a few more achievements; none came.
Heroic achievements in Trial of the Grand Crusader were falling to the wayside and needed attention. The longer we spent in ToGC post 3.3, the greater the risk grew of animosity towards an outdated raid. Our saving grace was ICC wing unlock strategy. By blowing through the first wing so quickly, we were able to still cram in Onyxia, ToGC, and even a bit of Algalon work before the weekend closed. But this grace period wasn't infinite: an end point was materializing in the distance and urgency remained elevated. The player base estimated the second wing's unlock date would coincide with the coming of the new year. That meant we had until January of 2010 to wrap up as much outstanding work as could be swallowed. Yet, the looming holiday schedule meant many core faces would be absent, increasing the risk factor of hitting our milestones. So even amid this urgency to wrap up outstanding legacy achievements of former patches, the first weekend in ICC produced no additional achievements from the Trial of the Grand Crusader, and Algalon certainly met no fate by our hand.
In fact, since missing our initial descent into the Lich King's fortress, excluding me from "Storming the Citadel (25 Player)", the only achievement of note that flashed on my screen that weekend was one having absolutely nothing to do with raid progression whatsoever. It took place far away from the madness of the raid, well away from the icy citadel. I stood on the sandy eastern bank of the Howling Fjord, listening to the repeated clicks of a fishing line been cast over and over into the digital sea. With the server's attention diverted toward ICC and LFD, I made note of a subtle addition to the fishing contest -- and its unique reward. The bob dipped below the water, and I clicked, drawing in the line, and saw what I had come for. I clicked my hearthstone, appearing in Dalaran seconds later, and immediately made a beeline towards a large, Walrus-shaped humanoid awaiting my catch. I jammed the Blacktip Shark into his webbed hands, chose my reward, and completed the quest, becoming the first player on Deathwing-US to win the Kal'uak Fishing Derby...allowing me to acquire the only Bind-on-Account Ring in the game.
It may not seem like much, but +5% experience gained is big deal, particularly with altoholics. You never know when you'll have to switch mains for the good of the guild.