Thursday, March 12, 2015

4.30. Two Birds One Stone

Artwork by Oliver Krings

World of ExcelCraft

Team OverKill

Raid Times:
- Fridays: 9:00pm (tentative)
- Saturdays: 6:00pm - 1:00am

Tactician: Zedman

Zed's filled 25 since coming on board, late Wrath. Can't commit to a full-time schedule, the wife/kid thing is standing in the way of that. Perma-filler has value, but not if he's leading a team the same night as progression.

25-Man Risks:

Eternaal: Has been showing regularly, but get the vibe that he comes and goes as he pleases. Most likely going to stick to his pal Dexi. He's also pushing Zedman to add a third night on the roster, which means he wants hardcore 10 progression -- safest bet will be not to count on him for many more 25s. High risk.
Makiazo: It was my understanding that Mak wanted to be a part of progression. Not sure what's up here. Going to have to meet with him.


Juicebox Bandits
Raid Times:
- Tuesday: 7:00pm - 10:00pm
- Thursday: 7:00pm - 10:00pm

Tactician: Cheeseus

Fine with him back in the guild, he's apologized profusely for any damage caused via Eh Team. What's done is done. As long as he stays the fuck away from the 25-Man, there'll be no issues. Those in JBB do not appear to possess they same drive to manipulate loot as Crasian did. Told Cheeseus to push JBB for achievements, but to respectfully keep them behind 25 as much as possible. No poaching.

25-Man Risks:
Gunsmokeco: I think he's struggling to make up for the Eh Team shit, follows the same logic as why he chose to step down as healing lead in Cata. I don't believe he's going to shaft me, but will keep an eye on it.
Teras: He's helping with the 25 here and there on Horateus, but his loyalty is always going to be to Falnerashe, so wherever she goes, he'll follow.

Larada: He goes where progression goes. Hasn't given me any indication that’s changing, not in several years, at least. EDIT: My god, Larada, how many teams do you plan to join???
Bulwinkul: Not particularly keen on him hanging with his old Eh Team buds, but without Crasian fueling the loot fire, should be ok. If he goes off on another drunken tirade and targets Falnerashe like he did Lexxii, if Teras is privvy, I can count on both of them leaving the guild. As such, noting as high risk.

Team H.A.M.

Raid Times:
- Tuesday: 7:30pm - 11:00pm
- Thursday: 7:30pm - 11:00pm
Tactician: Raziei

A la Zedman, Razzy's always been a perma-filler. "Hard As a Motherfucker"? Really, Raz? Really?
25-Man Risks:
Tastyslug: Larada's alt. Pretty sure he is on every 10-Man team now.
Palmabomb: Hellspectral's alt. Hasn't passed out mid-raid for many months. Doesn't mean it won’t happen, but he's been proving to be a changed (read: sober) dude. Low risk.
Jlo: Neps's alt. Hasn't missed a raid since 40-Man Naxx. I expect it would take an act of God to keep him from 25-Man. Low risk.

Gunsmokeco: Isn't he in JBB? Need to chat with him about this.


No Rush No Flyers
Leader: Bovie

I have faith that Bovie will not sink the ship. Very clearly defined team rules, raid times, and brings old-school knowledge from TBC.
Raid Times:
- Tuesdays: 8:00pm - 10:00pm
- Wednesdays: 8:00pm - 10:00pm
25-Man Risks:
Borken: Love him. He’s adorable. Wish his Shaman could fill the 25 more. Otherwise, no risk.

Larada: If NRNF accidentally runs the wrong instance, he's hosed for progression (but can't the same be said for any of these teams that run early week?) Also indicates he's on multiple teams. Need to straighten this out with him, marking as high risk until then.
Klocka: alt of Sir Klocker. Like Neps, will take an act of God for him to sabotage the 25-Man. Low risk.
Tantaria: alt of McFlurrie. Sadly, McFlurrie's stepped out of progression, but does not risk the 25.

Recovering Raidaholics
Tactician: Joredin

Joredin's old-school DoD. Is one of the reasons Tactician exists. He'll not jeopardize the 25-Man, nor will the likes of anyone on this team (Rebornbendar, Goreden, Breginna, etc...all good people).

Raid Times:
- Tuesdays: 8:00pm - 11:00pm
- Thursdays: 8:00pm - 11:00pm
25-Man Risks:


I clicked into the spreadsheet cell just below Recovering Raidaholics, and typed a new team name.

Herp Derp

Without filling out any additional info, I selected the entire row of cells and painted them all red.

Giving one final glance to the empty leader column of the freshly created blood-red row, I sighed, then closed the spreadsheet to get it out of my sight. The clock on the desktop reminded me of how much time I'd spent editing the document: nearly an hour.

You’re not going to be unemployed forever. How do you expect to keep this up?

Technically, I was playing World of Warcraft...

...but I wouldn't exactly call this "playing".

The 25-Man Progression Team defeats Nefarian,
Blackwing Descent

Corruption From Within

February 27th's prospects brightened. Blain had lobbied for a third tank for some time. In a surprise move, we were offered up a helping hand by none other than Drecca; he'd recently completed the leveling (and moderate gearing) of a second paladin, aptly named Dreccax. This alt was free from the shackles of the 10/25 shared raid locks in Cataclysm. Blain put Soot and I back on tanking Nefarian and Onyxia, while a class with a different kit could field Nef’s adds. I took absolutely no offense to it. I'd strip Mature to the nude and die in the first three seconds if it meant a guaranteed a kill.

Hopefully it wouldn't come to that.


Back into phase three, once more. Instead of struggling with constructs off by myself at the far side of the arena, I was toe-to-talon with Nef, barely able to make out what was happening. Animations and spell effects filled every exposed inch of the screen. Drecca had the adds well under control, his timing swift, his moves surgical. When the raid's health dropped dangerously low in the last few minutes of the fight, Drecca's Divine Guardian softened the blow just enough to squeeze out those last remaining bits of damage we so desperately needed. The great dragon roared and slumped to the ground by our hand...for the 2nd time.

Excited cheers of relief filled Vent. Finally. What a rush it was to be able to put the dragon to bed. Three weekends of work on a single boss was going to take some getting used to -- we had Wrath to thank for that. And this was only normal mode! 

I whispered to Blain, inquiring what possible nightmares the heroic version of this encounter might contain. His research told the tale of Geddon-inspired living bombs, mind controlled players that shouldn't interrupt their hypnosis, and players purposefully leaping off of the pillars, back into the lava, lest they wipe the raid. We were going to have to build this team up further if we expected a fighting chance.

The adrenaline finally subsided, and we snapped our screenshots. Blain snapped us back to reality, the blood elf rogue vanishing through Goldenrod's freshly spawned portal.

"Hurry up, people. Get over to BoT."


Cho'gall proudly wore the mutations of an old god's redesign: dozens of independently blinking eyes protruded from the hideously deformed ogre's body. Before his transformation, a mere grotesque ogre might only invoke disgust. Gazing at Cho'gall now could unhinge the mind.

The two-headed ogre harnessed both fire and shadow in his assault. Flame's Orders infused the massive Twilight's Hammer with fiery strikes, complemented by pools of lava throughout the throne room. Shadow's Orders blanketed us with AoE shadow damage, cascading across the team. Tank swapping was non-negotiable: Cho'gall's Fury debilitated the current tank, suffering a 20% increase in damage, forcing them out of the line of fire.

Conversion hit multiple raiders at once, enslaving them and boosting the damage they turned back on us. I'd interrupt a group with Arcane Torrent, Mangetsu handled the next group with Shadowfury, Bulwinkul used Warstomp, and so on. Blain positioned melee tightly in a moon shape along Cho'gall's backside, with ranged not too far away, so that any players targeted for conversion could be handled with a single AoE interrupt or stun, while out-of-range stragglers were dispatched swiftly.

Cho'gall made it clear he would not be insignificant. We also had to deal with a corrupting adherent -- a sort of mini-Vezax from Ulduar. Adherents lobbed shadowy missiles at the group while blasting us with Depravity, more shadow AoE damage. The tank afflicted with Cho'gall's Fury pulled the adherent away from his master, and Jungard took a team to break off and bring it down fast -- tank switching complicated this part of the fight far more than was necessary.

The 25-Man Progression Team defeats Cho'gall,
Bastion of Twilight

Naked Lunch

Adherents were a problem either dead or alive; Cho'gall's Fester Blood saw to that. A living adherent with festering blood violently sprayed shadow damage and spewed corruption until our own blood turned. The festering blood of a dead adherent, however, manifested as black globules of sludge bursting from the body, slowly creeping towards Cho'gall, laying down a thick, gelatinous trail of corruption in their wake.

Jungard once again led the task force against this Blood of the Old God, joined by Hellspectral and Bulwinkul. Hellspectral unleashed a freezing barrage of Howling Blasts on the black blood, while Jungard danced and wove between the globules, cleaving them apart while avoiding the corruption. From afar, Bulwinkul summoned the power of night and day, raining stars down and igniting the blood with the fury of the sun. For precious extra seconds, Mangetsu tossed Shadowfury their way. The creeping blood stopped dead in its tracks while Hellspectral's Death and Decay ate through the blood like acid.

Throughout this ordeal, every player in the raid had an additional responsibility: each managed their own corruption bar, which grew with every mistake made and every bit of damage soaked. The bleakness of the situation grew with the corruption, compounding upon itself. Our strengths soon turned to liabilities; spraying one another amid bouts of projectile vomiting, causing our targets to gain corruption, inevitably leading to the expulsion of more stomach contents. Players quickly learned to spin, and face away from one another, if they felt another wave of nausea coming in.

When Cho'gall reached 25% health, the final test began. Purple smoke filled the room and tentacles burst forth from the violet mist, a solitary eyeball atop each one, quickly focusing its hypnotic glare onto a member of the raid. Tentacles required immediate attention; the most effective killing strategy for them was one Blain had employed countless times before. One player was designated the MA or "Main Assist", and all damage was focused on to that person's target.

Cho'gall's Fury continued during this final burn, as did shadow damage and pools of flame. Increasing rates of corruption caused even the sharpest of players to become violently ill. Some were quick to face away, sending chunks of half-digested food out towards the emptiness of the purple mist. Others remained overwhelmed, struggling to cognitively process so many moving parts of the encounter simulatenously -- and they doused us with their lunch. We learned very quickly that even after getting a solid handle on phase one, the transition, and eventual digestion of phase two, the encounter could spiral out of control well before Cho'gall was in danger of dying.

With a half-dozen significant attempts on our belt, the clock ticked towards 7:00pm, signifying the final minutes of the raid. There was an overwhelming vibe of gusto and tenacity not felt in weeks. Blain and I agreed, one more attempt for the night...the famous last pull.

It all came together on that last attempt of the night. The great two-headed ogre fell to the ground, dead. His dozens of eyes gazed no more.

February 27th was a glorious day for Descendants of Draenor, with not one, but two entire instances cleared. The heroic road ahead would test us like we had not seen since our earliest days. The 25-Man progression team stepped up and demonstrated exceptional focus and skill that Sunday. I was proud of their dedication to the guild they called home, despite the incredibly steep shift in raid difficulty -- something we could all agree on.

All...but one.


Fred said...

"All but one".....

Dat cliffhanger.

Anonymous said...

Sean I think I can safely speak for an enormous silent majority here that this story, the (mis)adventures of DoD, have kept us entertained and gripped for well over a year now. Many of us have had very similar experiences and remember all too well the drama, pain, and thrills of being a part of a raiding guild, in varying degrees.

I think for a lot of us that chapter of our life has closed, or is in the form of a much less consuming experience. So this trip down memory lane has a bittersweet poignancy. Thanks and keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Erm, 'Shawn', sorry bout that!

Shawn Holmes said...


Thank you for giving the blog (and our little story) a shot, and be sure to spread the word if you think others would find it entertaining and/or helpful as well.

Anonymous said...

Thanks again Shawn for another fantastic installment.
Hopefully you have some idea how powerful the behind the scenes information is to your reader, especially when you have a Raid Boss encounter description in the same post. It's one of the ways you keep me coming back to the blog week after week. Not only do I get to relive some of the action from my own 25 man raiding days, but also you ENCOURAGE the reader to peek at the man behind the curtain. There's no Oz himself here. Nothing sleight of hand, here's how I had to run my guild, using every tool I had to make it happen.
Looking forward to the next, as always.

Thanks again for your efforts.

Aubiece said...

You bring back the feeling of the boss kills, that is what drew me into raiding.
I was a recruiting officer, then GM during Cata.
It was a huge struggle to keep our 25m roster.
We ran 2 x 10m to keep raiding,
then finally 1 x 10 m.
It was a sad day when I faced the reality we were not going back to a 25m raid.
For me the 25m was just more fun.
I have really enjoyed the blog, it lets me relive my raiding days.
I was only a GM for 4 months, but that let me know what a great responsibility it is to run a guild
the correct way.
I am very casual now, o
I too kinda dread what is coming.