Monday, July 13, 2009

Seeing the Cutting Edge of Progression, Once Again

Lots of raiding over the weekend on Ekat. On Saturday I knocked out the Vault of Archavon for the second time since Patch 3.1 hit, and this time we did it completely differently than the first time. Apparently you can keep Emalon and all his minions over on one side of the room instead of splitting them, and it helps the add tank pick up the new adds after you dispatch and overcharged minion. As a healer, this was a nice improvement. We also only used 2 healers and had no problem, so maybe we were better geared than my previous attempt as a group. I grabbed nothing off Emalon but Archavon dropped another DPS chest, which I had to dump because it was tier 7 and I have the tier 7.5 piece already. Ahh well.

Sunday I was in a group for Eye of Eternity to try and get my neckpiece upgrade finally, but the group was headed nowhere. At the same time Xusha was begging for guilides to fill a Naxx-25 run. I thought that our guild was running it, but it turns out that some other guild was pugging half the raid and The Illuminati filled about half of the PUG slots (7 or so). This included the sweethearts of our guild in Soph and Cantique as well as my child's Godfather Mikola and one of our regular raid leaders Fanroth/Maz. So I came into the raid on Xusha's request and noticed the raid leader was asking for DPS. I asked him if I should stay Holy as it's my main spec and he tells me to go shadow. Before first pull, the loot rules were stated as "open rolls for loot for your main spec, roll 1 for offspec."

This may not seem like a big deal, but it sure turned out to be. Keep in mind I came to the raid to gear myself a bit more hopefully for the guild progression night in Ulduar-10, and I could've guaranteed a neckpiece upgrade by doing EoE instead. So we down Anub'Rekhan (I think) and he drops the healing trinket which is an upgrade over my Egg. So I roll and I win the roll. The second place roller then says "but Ekat's rolling for offspec, right?" on vent. I immediately respond that no, holy is my main spec. Well after a couple minutes the raid leader comes on and says "we've decided that for the purposes of this run, you are shadow." Which means I'm not going to get a single piece of gear I care about, but now I'm saved to Naxx-25. Needless to say, I threw an absolute fit in guild chat. To their credit, Cantique, Soph, and Mikola whispered me to make sure I was OK and even Maz said some nice words in gchat. Xusha remained silent.

So in reality, the raid loot rules were "open rolls for the spec you are raiding, roll 1 for anything else." Now that's the system we use in our guild raids, but for some reason we make it more clear upfront than they did in the PUG, especially when we invite outsiders. I've raided PUGS with both systems, so I don't think it was unreasonable to believe I could roll on holy loot instead of DPS loot. Especially because they asked me to change specs at the beginning of the raid. While I appreciate that DPS is replaceable, but I have collected enough shadow gear to hold my own in a raid just as a convenience to PUG raids and Illuminati raids...not to pursue that kind of raiding. So I had to roll my eyes as a couple other healer upgrades went by. Am I being completely unreasonable on this?

To top it off, the next boss dropped a DPS upgrade that was not a massive upgrade for me, but I won it anyways. At the time they announced me as high roll, I noticed Mikola was second-highest and told them to pass it to him. Well then someone rolls late and ends up second-best, and the piece gets passed to them. Again, not happy as I wanted the gear to stay in our guild either as a slight upgrade for me or a big upgrade for his desired raiding toon. As it turns out, I later was put in the same situation with no late roller and passed a DPS chest to Mikola which was a good upgrade for either of us. Again, I'd rather see Mikola be able to raid with Illuminati on his desired toon (which is not Cazaldora currently though that's all our RL wants) than have a DPS set that's moderately better. So I did get to give him something, which is good. I obviously did not win anything else and we quit after clearing Arachnid, Plague, and Military except for Four Horsemen. I was still supremely steamed about the raid, which I took out on the weeds in my lawn during the break between raids! I guess the one good thing was that the raid got me back into the habit of looking at my surroundings a bit, but not healing meant I was not really preparing for the Illuminati raid. Ahh well.

So after a break, it was time to come back online for Ulduar Night 2, A.K.A. progression night. A bit of background: while I full-cleared Naxx-10 multiple times and was present for our guild's first downing of Sapphiron and Kel'Thuzad, I've only been in Ulduar one time since it came out. It was also a progression night, and all we did was kill Auriaya and wipe a few times to Hodir at that point. So I've seen two bosses total in Ulduar, and raid night one this week had a great night, clearing all 8 bosses they had previously downed (Flame Leviathan, Razorscale, XT-002, Ignis, Assembly of Iron, Kologarn, Auriaya, and Hodir). So again, I was back on the true progression of the guild, except now we were told to prep for the other three keepers. I just hoped I wouldn't bring the group down, but we had a pretty good healer team of Fiasko (guild leader's alt), Miraelle (guild officer) and Ekat.

We started in the Conservatory of Life, clearing a couple mini-bosses and a bunch of trash. Nothing real bad here as the RL Fanroth knew exactly what we needed to do on each pull and things were explained. We cleared everything leading up Freya herself, and here we are prepping for the fight (also a first look at my raid UI setup).

We had some issues on the first try, as the second time the three adds come up that need to be killed simultaneously, we missed killing the last one within the 15 second window by about 1 second. All of them respawned as did the Ancient Conservator add and we got overwhelmed. The second try went flawlessly, and we added Freya to keep Hodir company in the central chamber of Ulduar as shown below.

The next fight is Thorim, who had very little trash leading up to the boss event. For those who don't know the fight, you enter a room with a balcony where Thorim stands, then clear the mobs in the room to start the event. Your raid splits into a tunnel group that traverses a tunnel full of mobs and a couple mini bosses on their way to Thorim while the rest of the raid stays in the arena room and clears mobs that continuously spawn. Here's a picture of Thorim from my P.O.V. in the arena as the event started.

Our first attempt we lost me to an add that got away and the arena group did not recover despite the tunnel group getting to Thorim and activating him. The second attempt saw the tunnel group get overwhelmed by too many mobs and they died, leaving the arena group to wipe. The third time we got it right with a battle rez or two thrown in, and Thorim was added to the now three Keepers in the central room of Ulduar.

As we walked into Mimiron's room after skipping most of the trash via teleporter, I was awestruck by the room. Ulduar definitely has some cool visuals and this room has to be one of the best. Here's a quick screenie of the area above Mimiron's chamber.

Then I got called on to move past the bomb-ombs (yes that's a mario term, but that's what they are) in another frogger encounter, and we found Mimiron working on his new creation. Here's a view of the shadowy little Gnome who should really be the final boss of heroic Gnomeregan when we outgear Ulduar.

We gave Mimiron a few good tries, learning more and more about the fights as we went along. I probably hurt the group in 2 tries, the first by going down in Phase 1 and not being around to AOE heal through Heat Wave in Phase 2, which is my primary responsibility. The second time I got confused on where I was standing and ended up in Mira's third of the room, so when Edovard was going down no healer had range on him despite it being my responsibility. Ahh well, lots of moving and paying attention and things make this fight a very fun and difficult encounter. We got to Phase 4 a couple of times where the entire robot comes together, but we only got the various parts of his body down to 23-25% (from 50%) on our best attempt. We certainly had a group that could clear the boss, but we were at raid end time and lost our effectiveness in the final two tries. So Mimiron is left for another day, but we conquered Keepers 2 and 3 and learned more than enough to be ready to open up General Vezax and Yogg-Saron very soon.

In summary, a good weekend of raiding, despite the bad time in Naxx-25, which gives me a lot of boost heading into my last week of IRL work before vacation. I capped the night with a cigar on the back porch with the dogs, relaxing and toasting our guild's new success. I hope it continues, and hopefully I can raid a bit more with them to help them out.

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