Thursday, February 18, 2016

4.60. King of the Hill

The 25-Man progression team defeats Heroic: Shannox,

Shannox is as Shannox Does

At 3:25, I was the fourth to die. I don't take dying well.

With melee pressed up tightly against Shannox's behind, Amatsu carefully navigating the charred landscape, a mess of melee blocked my view of a freshly set Immolation Trap. In normal, the death knights would take turns activating the traps, absorbing the fire damage via Anti-Magic Shell. In heroic, a DPS death knight with AMS wasn't enough to withstand the inferno. A tank, certainly...but my days as a tank were over.

And so was my life.

Next to me lay Pollar, pulled in as a replacement rogue, to assist Bonechatters with trap disarming. His effectiveness at this responsibility could be measured by his health. Pollar, one of the youngest yet longest running members in DoD, carried a wealth of highs and lows in my guild. In Vanilla, he often led the B-team through Molten Core, raid leading well before the title was ever official in the roster. During the Wrath re-write of DoD, Pollar famously blew a gasket in guild chat, and soon found himself without a guild. And, being that he was below the age limit, could not be re-invited, dooming him to a permanent limbo where he wandered Deathwing-US without a guild for many months.

Come Cataclysm, the rules had changed. Recruitment was a barren wasteland. I ended his exile, restoring him to his original guild. Now, here he was, diligently offering to fill a role as needed. Until Shannox got the best of him. Pollar would be disarming no more traps on this day.

Goldenrod was the first to die, precisely at the one minute mark. Face Rage mangled the mage like a chew toy. Sarge (via his boomkin Arbour) rezzed him forty seconds later. But by the two minute twenty second mark, Pollar had been claimed. Twenty seconds later, our other rogue, Bonechatters, lost his life to Face Rage, putting trap disarmament into temporary hiatus. Two immolation traps later, Mature's life was forfeit. The cascade had begun. Dewgyd rezzing Bonechatters wasn't enough to save me.

I backed my camera out and watched as events unfolded. Twenty-three players remained alive, moving carefully, each action measured and executed with precision. A player was locked down with Face Rage, only to immediately be freed with focused fire. Shannox's spear slammed into the ground, and a spiral of fire drew up from its impact. The roster shifted in between the rings, moving only enough to ensure they remained well out of the flame.

As Jagged Tear stacked past eight, then past nine, on Amatsu, his health spiked uncontrollably. He desperately needed relief. He needed Shannox to play fetch with Riplimb, to give us a chance at freezing the dog in place. This, in turn, would extend the delay before Shannox's next Arcing Slash -- the intent of which was to let Amatsu's stacks drop off. But Riplimb was wary, having triggered an immolation trap moments earlier. Anyone hoping to trap Riplimb in the moments to come would be disappointed.

Larada's mage alt, Doja, was #5 to perish, right at the four minute mark, but battle rezzes were now on cooldown. Littlebear followed soon after, earning #6 on the death ladder. Both succumbed to the after-effects of immolation trap. Attrition was now in motion. Yet with half the fight still to go, and only twenty one players remaining, the raid continued its choreography with surprising grace and discipline.

I expected more hysterics. This was heroic, after all, it was supposed to be more outlandish. But in that tradition of Blizzard front-loading the raid content with its complexity, this had all been mastered already. The statue had already been carved, this was simply adding the polish. In retrospect, carving the statue was so much more chaotic and far more unpredictable. While I felt no rage in this attempt's death, our normal kill of Shannox gave the raid a taste of that famously inconsolable rage.

Lucky for me, the cameras were rolling.

Video: DoD defeats Shannox in 25-Man Normal,


Amatsu: "Pulling in 3...2...1."

Jungard: "Don' away when Rageface is on you, please."

Nothing says I know the raid strategy better than by failing on the pull.

Amatsu: "Immolation trap on top of that hill, watch that."

Amatsu tanks Shannox. He backpedals, slowly dragging the Salamander across the open playfield, stopping between casts of crystal prison.

Blain: "Lexxii."

Blain calls out crystal prison targets.

Blain: "Stimpi."

Amatsu backs up, sidestepping the danger. Behind me, ranged runs frantically from Rageface, ignoring the earlier directive.

Blackangus: "Stop running around!"

Impatience releases my emotional restraints. A burst of flame expands outward. A name and health bar flash on my screen: Xane. Under 5% health. I guess I do have to tell people to pay attention. Great.

Hanzo: "Blain is almost dead!"

Blain's health shoots back to full before my rant is finished transmitting over Vent. Moments of silence follow.

Blain: "Yeah, the only time you should be runnin' Rageface around is when its buff is gone and you need to bring it through a trap. Otherwise it's useless. Goldy, you almost blinked right into that trap."

Hanzo: "Immolation trap on melee!"

I am compelled to start announcing melee's own concerns. Honestly, I do not care if Blain doesn't want to hear it.

Amatsu: "When I get over here to this lil' area, y'all need to watch and not be left of the boss or you will get cleaved."

Over-communicating without Vent devolving into an incomprehensible hysteria must be what it feels like to disarm a bomb. You have to move quickly and do everything you need to...until you do too much.

Blain: "Melee help on dogs."

Riplimb and Rageface are across the map. It's a minefield dotted with metallic, jagged jaws.

Hanzo: "Watch, when you move...on dogs, melee, do not hit crystals. They're everywhere."

I direct Mature through the trap hazard and join Jungard, Bonechatters, Hells, Raina, and Aktauren, already burning through the demon dogs. A mage falls over, dead.

Amatsu: "Does immolation count to get rid of Rageface?"

Beefysupryme: "Do I bring Goldy up?"

Blain: "It's Doja."

Beefysupryme: "Do I bring him up?"

Blain: ".....yeah, go ahead."

Amatsu: "Do. not. be. in. front. of. dee. boss! Bring fire, get cleaved, and you're dead."

Blain: "Alright, hold DPS on Riplimb..."

Amatsu: "Boss is at 37%"

Blain: "Go ahead and kill Rageface. Kill Rageface."

Klocker: "Rageface is not getting picked up."

Blain: "Kill Rageface."

Amatsu is dead!!

Blain: "Get Amatsu up."

Hanzo: "Get ready, 3%. 2%."

Blain: "Do not hit Riplimb."

Amatsu: "k. Ardent Defender is off."

Hanzo: "DPS is now off."

Blain: "Run the boss way from the...go the other way. Go the other way."

Amatsu: "The other way?"

Hanzo: "All DPS is off!"

Blain: "Alright, kill Riplimb. He's got an immolation buff on him, too, so..."

Hanzo: "Riplimb is dead."

Amatsu: "k, heading clockwise now."

Amatsu begins meandering up across the broken rocks, now exposing magma along their faults. Protrusions along these faults make it difficult to navigate.

Blain: "Watch those immolation traps under the boss."

Hanzo: "Listen very carefully for Blain's call."

Jungard: "Crystal, melee."

Hanzo: "DON'T...STOP in the ROCKS, PLEASE!"

I die.

My mind fills with a vision of a thousand keyboards exploding into millions of black plastic fragments. The press-to-talk key is still jammed down. I have no words. An unintelligible grunt of heated frustration erupts. Blain laughs.

Jungard: "Let's...get him out of these rocks."

Amatsu: "Can't tell where everybody is."

Blain: "Dichotomy, get another battle rez out on..."

Jungard: "Rallying Cry's up."

Klocker: "Step to, Amatsu."

Blain: "Get Lexxii up."

Amatsu: "There's a trap to the left of the boss. Watch yourself."

[Arbour]: These fucking flames are pissin me off

Amatsu: "Amatsu needs a cooldown. Anything."

I take a deep breath. They need calm, not rage. I control myself once again.

Hanzo: "Just keep focused and you've got it."

Amatsu: "Gonna keep moving, so we don't get near any traps."

Shannox dies. Vent is quiet. No cheers or screams of victory.

Hanzo: "Yeah. Those...damn rocks again, eh?"

Blain laughs again. In the absence of celebration, some humor allows us to take away some semblance of accomplishment.

Video: DoD defeats Shannox in 25-Man Heroic,


And Then There Was One

That was normal. This was heroic. And we were falling behind.

At the five minute mark of Heroic: Shannox, we were still down to twenty-one players. Our first battle rez timer completed its cooldown, and up came Doja, thanks to Blackangus' Rebirth. The DPS needle moved back towards our favor. I panned the camera around and continued to observe the raid's execution. Now at twenty-two raiders strong, we might have a chance at closing the gap. Those chances dried up when Zedman was killed by a Face Rage at 6:16, negating Doja's resurrection.

The next death didn't occur until 6:30, arguably the most significant of the attempt. Blain, while leading Riplimp to a trap, was hit with an ill-timed AoE effect, via Shannox's Launch Spear. A mere second from safety, Blain succumbed to the damage and collapsed dead, just as Riplimp's body was encased in ice.

The battle rez that saved Bonechatters had not yet cooled down. With only one tank alive, Heroic: Shannox unwound. Riplimp freed itself from its ice block and rampaged toward Amatsu. Sarge intervened, but only briefly. His boomkin gear wasn't nearly sufficient for tanking as a bear. Another druid, Beefysupryme was next, followed by Klocker, and Goldenrod (for the second time).

Now at only sixteen raiders strong, Shannox and his dogs continued their feast. Gunsmokeco bit the dust next, only to burn his ankh and resurrect in a last ditch effort to spread heals among the survivors. Guns lived as Fred died, so Fred ankh'd as well, desperate to salvage the attempt. Megadoch died moments later, and Syphira lost her life just prior to another of Shannox's launched spears. The AoE caught Fred and Lexxii off guard, permanently ending their efforts. The last living druids, Blackangus and Dewgyd, fell after that...and joining them in defeat was our last living tank, Amatsu.

With no tanks and one healer running on empty, the inevitable wipe drew near. Bulwinkul (on his shadow priest Stimpi) dispersed as Cynergy pulled out an emergency misdirect, sending Shannox across the map to seek out a temporary tank, earning the attempt precious seconds of DPS. Turtleman and Doja let loose with the last remaining mana in their chamber, with Bonechatters and a nearly dead Gharghael following close behind as melee.

Rageface lept across the map and ate Gunsmokeco's face off, while Riplimp picked away at Doja until there was nothing recognizable left. Stimpi lasted a few seconds as a Shadow Priest tank, eventually collapsing under the weight of such pressure.

At the 7 minute 44 second mark, Shannox worked his way through all that remained, ripping apart Bonechatters and Garghael. Turtleman leashed one final Pyroblast as Riplimp finished him off.

It was then that "Heroic: Shannox" flashed up on all our screens. The encounter was complete. Only one player remained standing: Cynergy the hunter. Dying isn't terrible, if it means that others can live to win the day.

On August 19th, DoD earned its first heroic kill in Firelands, after only several nights of work. We were well on our way to returning to our former raiding glory, and put to bed any doubts that may have crept up during our lackluster Tier 11.

We just needed to maintain this pace.

Cynergy is the last player left standing
 at the defeat of Heroic: Shannox,

1 comment:

Goldenrod said...

I died twice in this post. So embarrassing.