Why I Hate Heroic Modes

I’m going to be honest with you; I hate the heroic mode toggle in raids. It doesn’t mean that I don’t do heroic modes, nor does it mean I think current raid content shouldn’t be more difficult than current normal modes. It simply means that I don’t enjoy doing the same fight with another twist or two plus everything hitting harder and having more health.

Beru linked to Borsk’s post about the end of his guild’s raiding. A sad thing, to be sure. It’s never easy to throw in the towel and it’s often something that has huge emotional repercussions for all those involved, so my sympathies go out to him. His post, however, is wonderful and he discusses a lot of different things. What really hit me is this, though, which resonated with me greatly:

I look back on TBC fondly because it was the last time when finishing the instance meant finishing the instance.

WORD. He went on to say “From Ulduar on through Firelands the heroic modes felt like a nuisance. While Rhyolith felt like a boss that needed put in his place, Heroic Rhyolith felt like “hey asshole, I’ve already killed you once, just give me my loot.”” Total agreement here.

So let’s discuss my disdain for heroic modes of any kind (for yes, it extends to dungeons as well). It dates back to the introduction of heroic dungeons back in the Burning Crusade. “Are you kidding me?” I exclaimed when I learned that I would “have” to do things like Hellfire Ramparts again at level 70. As a healer, the heroic dungeons of the day were pretty rough, at least to begin with. Heroic Black Morass? God help us all with the running around and the being oom and such. Shattered Halls? Deadly without a prot paladin to adequately AOE all the mobs so the poor healer wouldn’t draw healing aggro.

And even when I WAS geared, I couldn’t properly heal Magister’s Terrace. Without Beacon, with Holy Shock being a terrible option to use, most times, no Word of Glory or Light of Dawn or Holy Radiance… I mean, I was sitting there in mostly T5 gear and I couldn’t properly heal through the Kael encounter on NORMAL, much less heroic.

I disliked this model so much that I basically refused to do them. To this day, my paladin is still not exalted with the Sha’tar. I did what was needed of me for attunements and such, but people would laugh at others in guild if they were silly enough to say “Kurn, wanna heal a heroic??”

Wrath came around and regular dungeons were stupidly easy. I remember being on my hunter in Gundrak and trying to trap mobs like the pro that I am and tanks laughing at me.

So heroic dungeons in Wrath were tolerable, especially late in the expansion when everyone could faceroll them. To me, they felt like normals should have, shortly after launch. Their difficulty, even the “hard” ones, like Heroic Halls of Lightening and, later, Heroic Halls of Reflection, weren’t so terribly bad. (Not to say pugging them was always a walk in the park.)

And then they introduced raid hard modes with Ulduar.

I liked it, to an extent. On the one hand, they gave us more challenges and more dynamic fights to extend our playtime in there because it’s cheaper than making a brand new raid. Same trash, same maps, just different boss mechanics depending on various factors.

I was okay with this. I loved how to trigger the hard modes. XT hardmode was an excellent example. If you didn’t have the DPS to kill the heart, you’d never have to worry about switching it on accidentally. Flame Leviathan, while being able to choose a variety of difficulties, was awful because it stemmed from talking to one of two dudes and then bringing down or ignoring various towers. By contrast, how great was it to know that if you accidentally hit the big red button in Mimiron’s room, that your raid was probably about to die hideously?

I also really liked the Iron Council switch — couldn’t be simpler. Kill Steelbreaker last and that’s your hard mode. Similarly, Freya’s hardmode meant not killing her adds in the room. The switch was very simple on some fights and more obscure or complicated on others. And the levels of difficulty were really interesting from a tuning perspective.

Then Trial of the Crusader/Grand Crusader arrived with its four separate lockouts and a simple menu button to toggle it on or off. Simple, yes. Boring? Absolutely. It doesn’t help that the raid itself was mind-numbing. It taught me to appreciate trash, that’s for sure.

Again, I can’t fault them for the change because I am positive people gave a lot of feedback about how someone screwed up the triggering of heroic mode (or not) and such in Ulduar. Shoot, I probably did. When the weekly raids were introduced and people were exposed to the fights for the first time, I was like “Oh nooooooooo,” when I pugged into a Flame Leviathan where someone had talked to the wrong NPC and OH HEY, we’re doing FOUR TOWER Flame Leviathan!

So while it was easy to make the switches, it was also really easy to screw it up.

Then they realized that the four lockouts was just insane, thankfully, so they brought it back to one lockout per raid size (and now, in Cata, it’s just one lockout, period) with the heroic toggle in the menu.

And through it all, I’m still wondering why the hell we’re “forced” to go through each instance twice.

Now this doesn’t mean I don’t do heroic modes. I went 4/5 25m in TOGC. I went 11/12 25m HM with two guilds in ICC. I have my 25m ICC drake and my Glory of the Icecrown Raider 25. I went 7/13 25m HM with Apotheosis in Tier 11.

Why do I do it if I hate them so much?

In part, it’s because it’s THERE. I’m a competitive person and if there’s something to DO, I’m going to want to do it, whether or not I like the idea of it.

In part, it’s because the step up in terms of gear is great and necessary for when you embark on the next tier of content. Face it, if you’re decked out in 372s instead of 359s, you’re going to have a much easier time in Firelands to collect your 378s. And when you’re decked out in 391s, you’ll have an easier time in the next tier compared to the people in 378s. Those 13 item levels may not seem like much, but that’s the difference between heroic blues and Tier 11 gear. It makes a difference on your mana pool, your healing done, damage done, your sustained efforts.

So I do them because I know that my guild will be stronger for the next tier or the next fight or whatever. Logically, I can see that heroics fill a needed step in the gear progression.

I also do it because that’s just how progression works these days and, though I dislike how it works right now, I’m in that system and I want to progress. I want the heroic kills under my belt because they’re in the game. But I promise you, I would be a thousand times happier to kill Ragnaros, as we did last week, and know that we were now ready for the next boss in a new instance. That’s what happened in Vanilla — people cleared Molten Core a few times then moved to Blackwing Lair, then moved to The Temple of Anh’Qiraj, then to Naxxramas. It was a very linear progression.

It was even mostly linear in Burning Crusade.

You started in Karazhan and started to collect gear and some Tier 4. And once you were geared enough, you could join a 25-man team and — wait.

I feel the need to express how RIDICULOUS it was to start raiding content with 10-man groups and then move to 25-man raids. It was excruciating for us to gear everyone up for Gruul and Magtheridon and, as such, I can’t stand Karazhan any more. Which is a shame. I quite liked it, at the time. For a little while, anyway.

So, right, you went to Kara and then, to keep raiding, had to go to 25-man raids, where you would do Gruul’s Lair and Magtheridon’s Lair.

Once done, you’d move into Tempest Keep and Serpentshrine Cavern, consisting of a total of 10 bosses in the two instances. And once Kael and Vashj were dead, they were dead! None of this heroic crap.

Then on to Mount Hyjal and Black Temple and, eventually, Sunwell.

Borsk is right — finishing a raid instance back then meant something. Now it just means that the grind starts all over again, only things hit harder and have more health.

This is not remotely interesting to me.

The reasons for heroic modes are understandable, however. You have all this time and these resources being poured into raiding content and, if the raids are too hard (BWL? AQ40? Naxx?), only a small portion of the game’s population will ever see the raids. This is a huge concern of Blizzard’s and I can understand that. At the same time, they understand that there is a difference between a raid group that raids 30 hours a week and one that raids 9 hours a week and one that raids 4 hours a week. How to make everyone happy and make sure the ones who raid more seriously don’t get bored? Make optional hard modes for those who are organized and skilled enough to do those difficulty levels!

I can understand it.

I still don’t like it.

To me, it’s not remotely engaging gameplay. Triggering them? A flick of a switch instead of a game mechanic. Watching my tanks get absolutely crushed by the bosses who now hit 2701 times harder while having 300% more health? Not looking forward to it. Heroics have, to me, always felt “tacked on”. I imagine that the designers had a discussion like this about Heroic Sindragosa design:

“Okay, so Ice Bombs should just instantly kill anyone they hit on heroic? We’re agreed on that?”

“Yeah, yeah, anyone who can’t dodge those things deserves to die. What’s next?”

“Hm, good question. Probably should do something with Unchained Magic, right? Maybe it spreads to others if you’re in range of them?”

“Tempting, but… I don’t know. It doesn’t feel right. Sindragosa should be brutal. Think more brutal.”

“DUDE. I’ve got it. Are you ready to have your mind blown?”

“Hah, let’s hear it.”

“Unchained Magic BLOWS OTHER PEOPLE UP on heroic mode!!!”

“Oh MAN, that’s the best idea EVER!”

“Wait, wait. She should also PARRY THRASH.”



Jackasses. That’s not fun. I loved the Heroic Putricide encounter but not because it was heroic — I liked the mechanics of the plague. THAT was fun and engaging. Unchained Magic and parries? Brutal mechanics. I’m not asking for things to be particularly easy or unforgiving. I’m asking for heroic modes to be less about “boss and everything about the encounter hits harder and has more health” and more about things like the Unbound Plague.

It seems to me that it’s just so rare for there to be fun and engaging mechanics in heroic content. It’s usually just brutally harsh stuff.

Maloriak was engaging because of the new phase. Chimaeron was not. It was just more tank damage. Magmaw wasn’t, it was just more fire and more adds. Atramedes wasn’t, it was, hey, more annoying adds and less gongs. Omnotron was Nefarian fiddling with things and in the 30ish pulls we did on it, it didn’t feel engaging. It felt annoying. Nefarian seemed like it would be more engaging, but I can’t attest to that personally.

In Bastion, Halfus was downright easy on normal so heroic actually felt like you’d accomplished something. The dragons were interesting because of the addition of the twilight realm. THAT was a good heroic mode. Conclave was annoying on normal and on heroic, IMHO, so out of the 7 T11 heroic modes I completed (and attempted an 8th), I liked precisely two of the heroic modes: Halfus, because it wasn’t boring any longer, and Valiona & Theralion, because it was a new mechanic that wasn’t *just* more adds.

And my streak continues. I have a bad habit, since heroic modes have been introduced, of not killing the end-bosses on heroic. I went 4/5 in TOGC, 11/12 in ICC, then 7/13. And now I am 7/7 normal 25-man mode in Firelands and we’re looking at heroic Shannox and all I really want to do is say “screw you, I defeated Rag, give me a new instance.”

Heroics are easy for the designers. Just a few variables to change, a couple of new animations and a couple of new spells and that’s it. Are they challenging for us raiders? Sure. Do they accomplish Blizzard’s desire to have lots of people see their raid content? Yup. Do heroics give us an option to toggle the harder difficulties, allowing more people to see the normal modes without the more serious raiders going crazy farming the same crap for a year? Yes.

I still hate them and I do them because that’s what’s expected of me and because, by golly, I CAN do them. I try to view them as new fights and I get psyched to get them down, but it’s not the same as clearing an older instance. The pure elation I felt when we got Lady Vashj down for the first time or when Archimonde died, none of the experiences these days are comparable to that. My reaction, instead of “YAY, WE DID IT!!!” is usually “Oh thank God, it’s over,” and then I slump in my chair in relief.

So a big thank you to Borsk for helping me to pinpoint what I don’t like about heroic modes and why, even all these years later, the Burning Crusade raid content still leaves me all warm and fuzzy.

[I]t was the last time when finishing the instance meant finishing the instance.


Last weekend, I was a guest on a podcast called My Epic Heals, which is a WoW healing-centric podcast run by a holy paladin named Eade, of My Pally Heals, and a resto druid named Wolfshayde. The other guest on the podcast was Vidyala from Manalicious. I’d previously gotten the chance to talk to Vidyala over on Blessing of Frost‘s Episode 13, focusing on the differences between 10s and 25s, so it was nice to chat with her again. :) The My Epic Heals episode came out yesterday. Strangely enough, it’s ALSO Episode 13. Cue Twilight Zone music? ;)

Speaking of podcasts… I don’t really listen to a lot of them. At all. Which is a little weird, considering I DO a podcast, but anyway. I stumbled across this snazzy podcast called Convert to Raid and have listened to all 8 episodes of it in the last couple of days. Really quality production on it and some interesting content. :)

And, speaking of raiding, I Frapsed our Rag kill. Here’s the raw video. Yes, my UI is cluttered, yes, it’s got weird noises (every time I gain Holy Power or spend it and every time Holy Shock is ready) and, sadly, you can’t hear me because of the way Fraps interacts with Windows. You can, however, hear Majik say “there goes another one” when I get flung off the side, as Tikari pointed out on our guild forums. ;)

Firelands Clear on 25

Oh man, oh man, oh man. What a relief!

On Thursday night, Apotheosis went into Firelands with Baleroc, Majordomo Staghelm and Ragnaros himself still alive and kicking.

Baleroc went okay. I’m still not convinced all the healers are hitting on all cylinders in that fight, but we had one wipe and then got him down on the next attempt, so I’m not even concerned right now.

For Staghelm, I’d completely forgotten about the achievement, “Only the Penitent…” but Majik said over Mumble “Don’t get too close, we’re going to try the achievement here.”

Now, I know the basics:

There are two flame orbs on either side of the trash, sort of in the inset part of the columns. You can’t see them normally from a safe distance, but use a hunter, priest or shaman to take a look. You want to get six people, total, to get up to the orbs (3 on each side) and all need to click the orb once to start a channel.

The trick is, if you get hit by the cast the Druid of the Flame is chain casting (Kneel to the Flame!), the orbs despawn and you’ll need to either try to reset the instance or wait for the next lockout (or maybe a soft reset?) to try again.

I love Indiana Jones and, as it happens, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is my favourite of those movies. The achievement borrows from one of three tasks that Indiana Jones has to do. The clue to the first task is “only the penitent man will pass” and Indiana’s big “zomg!” moment is realizing that the penitent man is humble and will kneel before God.

Since walking into the Majordomo Staghelm area will nail you with the Kneel to the Flame cast that one of the druids is casting and that wrecks the achievement, it’s pretty clear both from just the name of the cast and the reference to the movie that you have to run, kneel, run, kneel, run and kneel your way up to the orbs on either side of the trash. It delights me, to be honest. :D

Anyway, Thursday night, we sent Toga, Merk and Sara over to the left orb and Dayden, Majik and Void to the right side and got the achievement in short order. My entire contribution was “volunteers? Anyone?” and “Okay, click now!”

So that was fun. :)

Majordomo took a couple of tries, but we nailed the third attempt beautifully. 8 minutes in length, 2 deaths, one of whom reincarnated and one of whom got a battle rez and voila. Triple Vanquisher tokens, of course (thanks, Fandral. A lot), but two Flamescythes for our ferals!

And then… it was time for Rag.

The first two attempts were nothing to write home about. Attempt 3 was okay, but nothing special. Attempt 4 was a mindblowing 11 minutes long! And it was one of those heartbreaking, soulcrushing 1% wipes. (Okay, really 11%, but we win at 10.)

Attempt 5, nothing special. Attempt 6 was a ninja pull by mistake (silly treants!) and Attempt 7 was pretty poor.

Try 8? Another 11 minute endeavour and another heartbreaking wipe, this time at 3%. (Really 13%, but still.)

And then, try 9. No one died in phase one. No one died in phase two. No adds on any of the transitions hit the hammer. No person died to Engulfing Flames or Molten Seeds during phase two. Lava Wave damage was minimal.

And suddenly, after 9 minutes at 41 seconds…

Why yes, that IS lava floating around behind my achievement popups, thank you for noticing. ;) About 15 seconds prior to the win, I got blown off the side by a meteor.

9 people were dead. That’s not horribly terrible for a first kill, only one of the 9 was a tank and four of them were healers. We five-heal Rag. So, uh, props to Jasyla for being amazing and keeping Dayden up all by herself for a little bit there!

So that’s both amazing and so much of a relief, I can’t even express. That was our 70th pull overall. I think we’ve spent about 11-12 hours on him, all told. (Granted, that’ll include breaks, run backs, discussion, etc.) But what a relief to get it done.

What I think I’m most proud about, though, is that we didn’t drop down to 10-man at any point in time in order to see how the fights work. We are a 25-man raiding guild. There aren’t a lot of us left, it seems, so I’m really proud that we stuck to our guns and got through the content as a 25-man group, all the way through, for each boss.

We are the only guild on the server, thus far, to defeat Ragnaros on 25-man difficulty as our first kill.

A progressive 10m guild worked on Rag and got him and the very next day went into Firelands as a 25-man group and started pulling Heroic Shannox.

The other main 25-man guild on the server did both Staghelm and Rags on 10m before they got them on 25-man.

So I feel as though what we’ve accomplished is a pretty big thing in this day and age. To stick to our format, which is arguably a little more difficult given the spacing requirements on both encounters, and succeed at it, before anyone else does?

That’s awesome. It is the icing on the cake of killing Ragnaros and clearing Firelands, which alone are two pretty amazing things. But it’s totally awesome that Apotheosis is the first guild on Eldre’Thalas to down Ragnaros in the 25-man mode as our first kill.

I tell you, I kind of love these people.

A free Sunday night this week, I guess. I have absolutely no idea what to do if I’m not raiding!

Cataclysm Holy How-To #1: Specs & Glyphs

It’s been almost a full year since I last wrote in my Holy How-To series. A lot has happened to the paladin class and, specifically, the holy spec since then. I decided that I’d go back to basics and re-write a bunch of my old Holy How-To guides from the Wrath era and update them with relevant Cataclysm information. Not all the guides will be re-written and those that will be are going to be written from the ground up. So here’s the first of my re-written guides: Specs & Glyphs. Bear in mind that the guide consists primarily of my own beliefs and opinions and is limited to PVE content at level 85 only.

Continue reading “Cataclysm Holy How-To #1: Specs & Glyphs”


We spent three hours and fifteen minutes in raid on Sunday night.

We walked in there, dispatched Ragnaros’s trash and looked at him, yet again.

I was feeling good. I was feeling like this could be a kill night if only we could get through Transition 2 and get into Phase 3.

We five-healed it again. God, I hate sitting healers. DPS, no problem. ;) But sitting my healers sucks! Still, I stuck with the 5-healer configuration and had three (THREE) healers on standby after Dar and Jasyla both got back from their vacations.

It was a frustrating three hours. The best we got was 37% with half the raid dead.

At 11:56pm, I was like “okay, guys. One last attempt.”

Just before the pull, one of our hunters went offline. It took forever for her to get back on, but I reasoned that it would take longer to summon someone and give them an assignment and all that.

Just before she came back, people started getting cranky. The clock had rolled over to midnight and people were tired and saying they had work in the morning and such.

The hunter came back online shortly thereafter.

I don’t know what I said, but it was something like “one more try, guys. C’mon.”

As we pulled, I typed in the raid warning: “INFAMOUS LAST ATTEMPT!” which is sort of our battle cry on our last pulls of the night.

Phase 1 – perfect.

Transition 1 – perfect.

Phase 2 – lost one person on one of the collapses, got him up. Lost another person before one of the collapses, got her up.

Transition 2 – perfect.

And then we hit phase 3, legitimately. We saw meteors! OMG!

When the last one of us died, Ragnaros was at a mere 14%. Since the fight is like the Lich King encounter and we essentially win at 10%, that is more like 4% remaining. 4% of 201,000,000. That’s 8,040,000 health or so. That’s it.

It was a weird night. It’s like, “YES! I knew we could execute this!” but also “Whyyyyyyyy did we fail to do this on all the other 16 attempts?!” There’s also the question of “Will we be able to recapture this momentum the next time we see him?” and also, “Does it count as momentum if it only happened once all night?”

I still enjoy the fight and the mechanics of the fight.

But I’m getting tired of seeing that dude purge us with fire.

Rag’s gotta die, it’s just that simple.

Maybe it’ll be time for one of my infamous inspirational speeches (that really just inspires people to go afk. ;)) next time we see him.

Or maybe, just maybe, we won’t need any kind of speech to pump us up.


We got this.

Excuses, Excuses

A lot of raiders have what I like to call an automatic self-defense system. It’s called “the excuse”.

You may have seen it before. “Sorry, I must have lagged,” someone says, directly after they’ve been blown up by something. Or perhaps “wtf was that? I was nowhere near that!”, they’ll exclaim. Maybe it’s more along the lines of “I thought I was assigned to A, not B…”

Whatever the case, raiders almost invariably have an excuse at hand to try to pardon — not explain, but pardon — their poor choices or decisions or execution.

This happens in 5-mans, too, to be sure, but I wanted to talk a bit about excuses from the perspective of a raid leader in a progressive raiding guild. We’re not cutting edge, not by a long shot, but we hold our own in terms of server progression.

When a raid attempt goes south, one of the first things I ask myself is “What went wrong?”

I use the mod Fatality. It’s a great mod that tells you what got the killing blow on people as they die. Here, let’s look at an example from that recent T11 raid night I went to on Kurn.

I have the output going to /raid. I figure it’s an easy way for EVERYONE to see what happened. (Warning: this only shows the killing blow. Sometimes there are other factors apart from the killing blow. I like to double-check in World of Logs before I draw any permanent conclusions.)

So you see here, I have died to Al’Akir’s Lightning Clouds, which hit me for 17.5k with a 5.8k overkill.

A typical raid leader question here would be “Kurn, how (or why) did you die to Lightning Clouds?” which may or may not be asked. Allow me to let you in on a secret: raid leaders don’t always care about the reason why something has happened, particularly if it doesn’t happen again. I sit there and look at the various deaths and can usually pinpoint the reason for a wipe fairly quickly, confirming with World of Logs or Recount or Skada. If your death was the main reason for the wipe, I don’t care why you died. At all. I just care that the next time, it won’t happen again.

Let’s go back to my example. Say that the raid leader asked me how (or why) I died to Lightning Clouds.

The Bad Response: “Seriously, dude, I don’t know! I was flying away from the person with the lightning thing on them and the next thing I know, I’m not controlling my toon anymore and then it like, DEPOSITS me at the top of Al’Akir’s head, like it did when the phase started and there were clouds there and I couldn’t escape and… yeah, dead! Crazy, right?”

Yes. It is crazy. I guarantee you that even though that’s exactly what happened to me, the raid leader in a progression raiding guild who bothered to ask that now thinks I’m an idiot. That’s not the way to make yourself understood, not with a rambling explanation like that, even if it’s true! That is an excuse. It is not an explanation. That response is me deflecting blame and essentially blaming the game.

The Good Response: “Well, I think I must have flown too far to the side and the game reset me to the P3 start position. That’s my bad, I didn’t know that could happen. Won’t happen again.”

What’s the difference? First of all, this response is concise. One sentence and it explains what happened, or what I think happened. Secondly, and most importantly, the second sentence takes responsibility for the death. I freely admit that it’s my fault because I wasn’t aware that, during the Al’Akir encounter, it will reset your position under certain circumstances. Thirdly, and not quite as important, but still nice to see, is the third sentence. With three words, I have assured the raid leader that I won’t let it happen again. Of course, I might do it again, and we both know that, but I might not, and having put that out there, that it won’t happen again, I’ll be hyper-aware of the possibility and therefore will work hard to make sure I didn’t just lie to the raid leader. It also indicates that you are willing to learn from your mistakes, which is an important trait in any raider.

Excuses deflect blame and responsibility, while explanations accept blame and responsibility.

That’s a key difference for any raid leader. I swear to you, we 100% do not care if your cat stepped on your keyboard, causing you to eat environmental damage and die — as long as it doesn’t happen again. We don’t care if you accidentally pulled a boss because you were changing your mouse batteries and accidentally hit both buttons at the same time, while putting the battery panel back on, causing you to run up to the boss and facepull — as long as it doesn’t happen again. (And yes, I have had both of these used as a reason for people’s death!)

As I said before, explanations might not even be asked for. You should probably not offer an explanation unless asked for one. If you desperately feel the need to defend yourself but you’re not asked for an explanation, I would talk to the raid leader after the raid (or perhaps send a PM on the forums or in-game mail) explaining, not excusing, your behaviour.

I learned about the difference between an excuse and an explanation back on Proudmoore, when I was raiding with a raid leader who was, and let’s be fair to him, a complete douchecanoe. Imagine learning Trial of the Grand Crusader with a guild more progressed than any you’ve been in before, after seeing people being removed from the guild DURING RAIDS due to their poor performances in that particular raid and then being asked what happened to you, why you died?

“mad,” he once said to me, in /raid, “mad, fire is bad. why did you stand in it?”

My RL Friend the Resto Druid (and my healing lead) had coached me in preparation for questions like that. “Just apologize and say it won’t happen again. And then don’t let whatever it is happen again!”

“I’m sorry,” I responded to him, “that was my fault. Won’t happen again.”

“k,” he replied. And it was dropped. Just like that.

I remember once, on Heroic Anub’arak attempts, we used a strategy where we would cast Hand of Protection (BOP) on whoever the second target was in the burrow phase. The first person would run all the way back to the entrance, then the second target would stand right beside an ice patch and get a BOP and then step on to the ice patch just as it was wearing off. On this particular attempt, during the first burrow phase, I used my BOP on the target as normal and then I was the second target during the second burrow.

Unfortunately, the first target had run the wrong way, so I was forced to run back towards the entrance.

The raid leader said to me in chat, “mad, bop yourself when he gets close”

But my BOP was on cooldown. And I was waiting for the BOP from the other holy pally. Which never came. And so I died.

RL, in chat: “or you could just die. what the fuck?”

“Sorry,” I said, “I was assigned to the target in the first burrow, so my BOP was on cooldown.”

“ok so who was supposed to bop mad?”

Silence. Crickets.

“fix it,” he said, after a moment or two.

And that’s how it was, raiding with him. He didn’t care what happened as long as it didn’t happen again. Excuses did NOT fly with him. If I had said, regarding my standing in fire, “I’m sorry, I didn’t see the fire until it was too late and I couldn’t stop healing or you would die,” even odds were that he’d just throw me out of the guild.

I don’t think most people are as completely unreasonable as he was, but he did have one thing right: excuses are bad while explanations and accepting responsibility are good. Raiding is full of finger-pointing and accusations as it is. Don’t add to that. Step up, take responsibility for your actions and do what you need to do in order to prevent your mistakes from happening again.

Dear Sunday Raid Kurn…

On Tuesday, Kaleri (an Apotheosis raider and author of Power Word: What?) wrote an amazing blog post. Her posts are usually few and far between (unfortunately!) but when she posts, she generally has something important to say.

Such was Tuesday’s post entitled “Dear SundayRaidKaleri“. In it, Kal looks over her various failures on our three hours of Ragnaros attempts and, well, berates herself for them, believing them to largely be due to the end of our raid week. So she wrote a letter to her past self, from her self on Tuesday, reminding her to watch her feet and such, culminating in:

Final thoughts to you from your Tuesday self; just because it’s the end of a raid week doesn’t mean you should give any less of a damn than you do at the start of a raid week.

— Kaleri, Power Word: What, “Dear SundayRaidKaleri

Brilliant post.

So, I’m going to attempt to do something a bit similar. Instead of looking at where I could have improved on Sunday, though, I’m looking forward to NEXT Sunday, because it will be the end of the raid week and I always feel a bit tired on Sundays because that is my Do Guild Stuff Day.

Dear Sunday Raid Kurn,

Hi! This is your Tuesday night/Wednesday morning self writing to you. You’re through the first raid of the week with Apotheosis. I want to talk to you about how you’ll probably feel on Sunday, when you look back over this week.

Tuesday wasn’t a fantastic night. There were issues with Alysrazor and there were a couple hiccups with the whole legendary staff encounter. But remember, Majik’s got his first staff and is collecting Seething Cinders. Remember, we killed four bosses very cleanly, all told, including Baleroc, on just the second attempt, and this while Majik was combining his fragments and charging the foci.

So Tuesday wasn’t wholly productive, but it wasn’t a complete loss. I know you’re a bit disappointed about people dying to Alysrazor mechanics, but try to go back to doing it slightly earlier in the evening. Doing so might mean people are fresher, less sleepy or tired and more alert.

I’m not sure how Thursday’s going to go. It’s a crapshoot. You’re missing two of your healers, one of your tanks and one of your DPS — three of them being officers. But this is a group of people that are resilient, who want to push and progress. Don’t sell them short. They are capable of amazing things. Challenge them.

Similarly, Sunday could be rough, because it’ll probably be Ragnaros work. You’re close. You’re so close. The raid WILL learn to stay out of lava waves and WILL learn to stack appropriately. Last Sunday, you five-healed it all night long without any issues, except that people couldn’t be healed through bad. Guess what? That’s not your fault as a healer and that’s not your fault as a raid leader. Things can only improve from that point.

So go into Sunday’s raid knowing that the week, even if Rag doesn’t die, wasn’t terrible. Go in being positive, assertive and firm. Don’t worry about things so much — you do just fine calling out BRs on Rag and you’ve done a great job at calling out stacks on Staghelm and you’re just going to improve and hopefully the raid will improve so you don’t have to call out BRs on Rag!

Keep your chin up. This is Ragnaros. This is Apotheosis. These are your people. Find that nugget of excitement inside of you that made your stomach flip, once upon a time, when you first saw Majordomo Executus get smashed by Ragnaros. You have waited a long, long time to take him down on your terms, with your group of people.

That time is at hand.


Tuesday night/Wednesday morning Kurn
PS: awesome heals last Sunday on Rag. Keep it up.

By fire be purged!

I recently wrote about how I love the new Ragnaros fight.

I had to re-read that entry after last night’s raid.

It was rough.

First of all, four of our regular players (fury warrior melee officer, resto shaman lootmaster officer, resto druid and one of our warlocks) had declined. Then we had a bunch of tentatives — a mage, another resto druid, a hunter and a feral druid.

That left us with exactly 26 people as Accepted.

And we had a no-show. At least one of the tentatives, the mage, managed to escape from dinner with his in-laws to join us. ;)

So we had 26 people.

3 MS tanks
5 MS healers

We had the pally tank and DK tank tanking and had the warrior tank DPSing (he was originally a DPS before he joined us) primarily for the stuns and such.

But we had five healers. We normally do Rag attempts with six, since we’re still learning and there are lots of mistakes being made and such.

Last night, we did all of our attempts (18 of them) with five healers.

Two holy paladins, one disc priest, one holy priest and one resto shaman.

We could have asked an elemental shaman to go resto for us (since he was resto for us in T11) but felt that his knock-backs were more important than another healer, particularly since, if everyone did what they were supposed to do, we healed through damage just fine.

I spent the vast majority of last night calling out battle rezzes. Let me tell you, it’s not easy and/or fun to call out three battle rezzes on damn near every attempt.


– Melee pulling aggro. (Sidenote: can ranged pull aggro, or is this like the original fight?) Part of it was due to tricks of the trade timing and such, but still. Disappointing.
– People standing in Engulfing Flames.
– People getting hit by Lava Waves.
– People getting hit by Sulfuras Smash (on the second Molten Seed part of P2).

We basically got zero work done on Ragnaros this week, just spent three hours wiping at various times, usually in Phase 2.

I’d like to think that Phase 1 is pretty clean by now, but it’s not. We had way too many Lava Wave deaths, period, but several in P1.

Transition 1 is coming together nicely, from what I can tell. Lucky me, I get to stun two Sons of Flame! I’m actually not horrible at it, either. The worst thing in the world, though, is watching #6 make a beeline for the hammer after my shitty Avenging Wrath stun has worn off. (Although it would be #5 making the beeline if I swapped and Hammer of Justiced #6.) It’s like, there’s nothing I can do. Absolutely nothing. Except say “Watch 6!!!”

Our problem is P2. People don’t understand seeds (although we’re discussing that right now in our raid review thread and people are slowly learning how Molten Sees work) and people aren’t stacking properly and/or are dropping Molten Seeds too close to our stack point.

A multitude of small mistakes and it’s just like… guys. We have 5 healers. We can’t heal you through bad stuff. Hell, we can’t heal OURSELVES through bad stuff. Lots of healers ate waves last night (I ate ONE in all of our 18 attempts and bubbled through it) and some were guilty of not stacking quickly enough and getting beaned by Sulfuras Smash or Engulfing Flames or whatever.

I think the most frustrating thing about the whole night is that I KNOW we can do better. Individually, we are pretty darn good players who don’t tend to stand in fire.

But some of our most noteworthy DPS ate lava waves as though they were a rare delicacy last night.

Some of our top healers just didn’t manage to avoid avoidable damage last night.

The learning curve is steep and I had no options last night once one of our DPS said he’d prefer to sit due to a migraine. I literally had 25 people in the raid and one guy with a migraine on standby.

The summer slowdown hasn’t forced a cancelled raid as of yet. This week is going to be tough, with the melee officer, resto shaman and resto druid out. We’ll see what we can pull off, but I hope that everyone’s efforts are better than last night’s or else we’re just gonna be screwed for the majority of this reset.

Having said that, even despite some healer issues with environmental damage, I have to say that I’m pretty proud of the five of us for being up to the challenge of 5-healing Rag. Avoidable damage aside, we did great in terms of healing. Just need to work on not standing in bad stuff. :)

Slipping into the role…

On Monday, I logged on to the baby paladin and got invited to the raid group and we went in and got Baleroc down. I had prepared myself for a long night of work on Alysrazor, but we managed to get her down (a Choice guild first!) on the first attempt. Granted, it took all three rotations to get her down. The fight was almost 14 minutes in length. And I stood in tornadoes, twice, to help heal my tank through it since his hatchling was still up.

But we did it.

And so, on to Majordomo Staghelm.

Trash was hilarious and brutal, as it was for Apotheosis the other week.

Break time came shortly after the trash was down and two of our healers dropped offline. Including the healing lead.

They pulled in a rogue and an ele shaman who has a resto offspec and that was going to have to do.

It was right about then when the disc priest in the raid said in healer chat “so, since none of us have a clue what to do…”

And I facepalmed. I ACTUALLY put my head in my hand and took a moment to say “oh, no.”

Why did I say “oh, no”?

Because I knew that I was about to step up and take care of healers.

“I’ll take care of healing,” I found myself typing.

Given that I’ve successfully done the fight once and have 50+ wipes under my belt, I figured I was in the best position to do this.

Now, see, normally, this doesn’t happen. Normally, if the healing lead is unavailable, the GM (a kick-ass resto shaman) steps in. But the GM was not around for tonight’s raid, as she has family visiting.

So NORMALLY, I would never be put in the situation where the healing lead (who has amazing attendance) AND the GM (who also has amazing attendance) would BOTH not be available. I raided with these people for like, five months at the end of Wrath and one of the two of them was always there.

But of course, I stepped up to the plate because I really was the best person qualified to do healing assignments.

I looked at the raid. Six healers (Apotheosis likes seven, but there wasn’t a seventh available for us): 2 holy paladins, 1 disc priest, 2 resto shaman and 1 resto druid.

The plan was to stack for 11 Flame Scythes and 5 Cat leaps. And so, I started handing out cooldowns.

I gave myself my regular assignment — pop Aura Mastery just before the 6th Scythe comes out. I like to pop it right about 78 energy.

I gave the other holy paladin the assignment to pop Aura Mastery just before the 7th Scythe.

Just before the 8th? Power Word: Barrier.

Just before the 9th? Spirit Link Totem.

And then I got the prot pally to Divine Guardian just before the 10th, too.

We pulled and it went okay. We had 6 tries and got to second scorpion a couple of times, but always died to Searing Seeds because someone would die to a Flame Scythe and their seed would explode while they were still in the raid.

I was satisfied with the work the healers did. I had a lot of resistance from them, though. I hadn’t healed with any of them back in Wrath. These are all people who have no idea that this Madrana chick knows what she’s talking about.

I did get a few whispers; one healer complimented me on my style of healing leadership and I thanked them and explained that I’ve been doing it forever, it seems like, and that my time in Choice in Wrath was the only time in the last several years where I wasn’t asked to do healing assignments at some point in time. So I gave them the story about how I raid with Choice part time and I’m the GM of Apotheosis and all that jazz.

At the end of the raid, I thanked everyone for their efforts and thanked the ele shaman in particular for healing. Then I uploaded the WoL (since the healing lead normally does that but obviously, his logs would be missing all the Majordomo attempts) and then I wrote to the healing lead to let him know what cooldowns I’d assigned and when, even down to Mana Tide totems.

This whole “raiding with two guilds” thing is weird. On the one hand, I get mocked and ridiculed by Apotheosis folks and on the other, I’m sort of a part-timer with Choice. The bonus is that I get to share knowledge between the guilds — I used some of the info from learning Baleroc with Choice when Apotheosis first tackled him and I’ve used some Apotheosis experience and knowledge to help with Alysrazor and now Staghelm.

It’s come in handy a lot and I’m glad I had knowledge of Staghelm to share with Choice, but I think what disturbs me about tonight was that there wasn’t even a question in my own mind about me standing up and volunteering to take care of the healers.

I just did it.

More, I KNEW I was going to do it.

My desire to help the guild get a semblance of meaningful attempts on Staghelm short-circuited the “nooooo, this is my night off!!!” thought.

And so, without even thinking about it, I just stepped up and took charge.

Here’s something you may not know about me: I am what I like to term a reluctant leader.

If there is a qualified, good, awesome leader, I will follow them like any other sheep. This goes for WoW and real-life, too.

If, however, there is NOT a qualified, good, awesome leader… I will almost certainly step up to the plate.

So that was my night. A Baleroc kill, an Alysrazor one-shot (that was excessively long) and Majordomo, paired with healing lead stuff.

It still stuns me how quickly I slipped into the role. But I guess if I spend 9 hours a week doing that as it is, it shouldn’t be a surprise, right?

Looking forward to Wednesday’s raid when I hopefully WON’T have to do anything except heal. I need my nights off. :)


Ragnaros, Version 2.0

Back in the day, my brother, Fog, was a level 60 druid. I was a few levels behind, probably around level 45 or thereabouts when he dinged 60.

My brother was poached, if you will, from our little guild (Fated Heroes) and joined Tempest as they began to progess through Molten Core.

He was asked two things:

1) To level first aid to 300.

2) To respec to restoration and heal.

I was angry with him for leaving us, particularly as I had just freaking joined the guild because he was guilded in Fated Heroes. Yet at the same time, I knew he was going to be doing more than just “instances”, which I was still getting familiar with, to be honest.

One night, he called me up and told me that he and his guild were going to try to kill the last boss in the raid. Some quick googling revealed that the name of the boss was Ragnaros and that he had a million health!

This blew my mind. Suddenly, I understood why 40 people were required to kill the boss.

I read more about Ragnaros and how to get to that raid instance and kill him and that’s what turned me on to raiding and researching attunements and all that jazz.

In Vanilla, the little guild that could, Fated Heroes, spawned Majordomo twice. And… that’s it. Well, we cleared ZG and half of AQ20 and we cleared all the way up to Majordomo Executus, but we never killed him. We never killed Onyxia as a guild. And forget BWL or AQ40 or Naxx.

I did get my Rag kill on Kurn, though, through a pug group I managed to get into with many of my guildies. We went through and Lucifron and Magmadar had never died more easily. On to Gehennas and Garr and Geddon. Then Shazzrah and Sulfuron and Golemagg, and finally, finally, I got to see the Majordomo Executus fight.

And then, we moved, all forty of us, down from Domo’s perch, along through the caverns of the Molten Core, to finally face Ragnaros himself.

During the second Sons of Flame phase, one of our guildies, a fury warrior, challenging shouted the Sons and then fell through the floor. He died, but he took the Sons with him. And then, Ragnaros died, dropping his hammer and leaving several very happy Fated Heroes behind.

On Thursday, August 4th, Apotheosis downed Majordomo Staghelm, bringing us to 6/7 25-man Firelands.

Naturally, we had to pull Rag, even just once.

We walked in, cocky, overconfident, happy and pumped up with adrenaline after downing Staghelm for the first time. The trash wrecked us, initially, but we didn’t care.

And then, there was nothing left but Rag.

It was just one attempt on him, but we got to the first transition phase before wiping to the Sons of Flame hitting the hammer.

I had a grin pasted on my face the whole time. It seemed as though we were on the verge of completing something we had started in June of 2006. Never mind that half the guild wasn’t part of Fated Heroes. This was us working our way up to Ragnaros, the Firelord, and actually making an attempt on him. At last!

I was giddy after the wipe and the end of the raid. I knew we’d get this down in the coming weeks.

Sunday night is when the work began.

I’m going to say this now and I’m making sure it’s written down so that I don’t forget this: This is an amazing fight. Hands down, Ragnaros is my favourite fight of the expansion. This is better than Chimaeron or Nefarian. This is better than Heroic Halfus and blows Throne of the Four Winds out of the water… air.. fire.. something.

Ragnaros is an amazing encounter and I haven’t even seen all the phases yet.

Our best attempt tonight was our last attempt, where we managed to bring Rag down to 40% and spawn the second transition phase. Granted, half the raid was dead at that point, so we ended up dying to the Sons of Flame hitting the hammer, but we got there.

I almost want to recruit the fury warrior to challenging shout the adds and fall through the floor. But not quite. ;)

40% after 15 attempts and 3 hours. I know the most challenging transition phase is the second one and I know that we have a lot of work ahead of us with Living Meteors, but this is a great encounter that pairs teamwork (adds, hello?) and personal responsibility (why HELLO, Lava Waves, how ARE you?!). To fail at either the teamwork portions of the fight or the personal responsibility portions of the fight means certain failure.

I’m sure I’m going to spend several hours cursing Ragnaros’ name. I’m sure I’m going to spend several hours cursing the names of various guildies. I’m sure I’m going to beat myself up over missing a stun or hitting a Lava Wave or letting a tank die.

But for right now, for tonight? That is one hell of a fun encounter and I cannot wait to spend another night on it.

When he dies, because he will certainly die, I know exactly what it’s going to feel like. I’m going to feel as though it’s the fall of 2006 and we’ve successfully gotten 40 people together to go in and smack Rag upside the head. We only even had a full 40-man raid twice in Fated Heroes, usually running around 30-35 people (and one night, 27-manned Gehennas!), but, by golly, we did a lot of what we needed to do.

So when Ragnaros dies, it’ll feel as though we put together a full 40-man raid and finally succeeded at what we had set out to do.

Only, it’ll be even better, because it’ll be with Apotheosis; this group of people who occasionally drive me a little nuts, but mostly made up of people whom I admire, respect and care for.

Dear Ragnaros,

Yes, it’s us, many of whom ran rampant through your precious, hallowed core many years ago. We’ve come to defeat you, in your own realm. For you, it may be too soon… but for us? It’s long overdue.



PS: I think it would be really nifty if killing you gave us Hydraxian Waterlords rep. Just sayin’.