Defender of a Shattered World

It’s almost 7am as I start to write this. Apotheosis killed Al’Akir almost 8 hours ago. I went to sleep and woke up at about 6:30 just because I couldn’t stop thinking “Holy crap, we killed Al’Akir!”. Most of my guildies in the raid, myself included, got the Defender of a Shattered World title. Apotheosis is now 12/12 on normal modes to go with our pretty, shiny, 1/13 heroic modes.

That is one hell of a fight. And I don’t mean it in a good way, either. Hands down, my least-favourite fight in Tier 11 content. That said, I do feel pretty smug after having beaten this guy. :)

It was on our 59th attempt that we killed him, although, to be fair, 16 of those attempts were in February. Our work on Al’Akir really feels like it started in the last couple of weeks.

This brings us to 12/12 normal modes, as I’ve mentioned. I know, it’s just like clearing T7 and getting Champion of the Frozen Wastes, right? But it’s doing it at the proper, that’s to say “intended”, gear level. We’ve done it in 346 and 359 gear, not in T12 or T13 or T14. We’ve cleared the normal modes of entry-level raiding in this expansion with a group of people who largely didn’t know one another six months ago.

And then, there’s me. I just posted a long-winded, sappy post on my guild forums about how I basically love everyone, but something I didn’t say there (but will obviously get back to the guildies — and that’s okay) is that I’m relieved. I am SO relieved. I almost can’t even put it into words.

So many people who joined the guild did so because of me. I’m the one who started asking around if people wanted to come back to Apotheosis for Cataclysm. I’m the one who was talking excitedly about her old guild on her blog and, for some unknown reason, got a lot of responses and applications because of it. Really, if Apotheosis didn’t make it out of T11, it was almost certainly going to be my fault. I would have let down my old crew, I would have let down the people I’d drawn in, I would have let down the people who had, collectively, paid hundreds of dollars to transfer. And, of course, its success has very little to do with me — it’s a lot more to do with everyone I’ve assembled here. I would take all the blame if things hadn’t worked out, but the credit for it working out goes to the ladies and gentlemen of Apotheosis.

I can’t tell you how thrilled I am that Apotheosis is through T11 normals. The pressure is off me. I’ve put together a team and the team is performing. The guild has a personality, it has a life of its own, now. If things go to hell now, chances are, it wasn’t my bad. ;)

It’s still intimidating, though. While I’m not terribly concerned about everything falling apart, this is the most progressed I’ve been in my own guild, ever.

In Burning Crusade, we cleared Black Temple, but only ever pulled Kalecgos in Sunwell Plateau three times before calling it an expansion. We also only formed on June 1st, 2008 and the expansion had come out back in January, so we were constantly working our way through content that had already been nerfed and used the 3.0 patch to steamroll our way past Reliquary of Souls, Mother Shahraz up to the Council and Illidan himself. (Much less steamrolling when we hit the Illidari Council.)

In Wrath, Apotheosis didn’t even kill Thaddius on 25-man. Attendance was awful, people were unhappy, progression was bad due to attendance and recruitment was bad due to progression. We had the potential to kick some ass, but it just didn’t pan out.

So now, my guild is the #2 25-man raiding guild on Eldre’Thalas. Overall, we’re still something like #11, if you take all the 10-man guilds into consideration, but… well, I don’t. It’s not that I don’t take 10s seriously (really!), but I really think 10 and 25-man raiding are very different beasts and so I don’t think of us as the #11 guild on ET. I see our 10-man guilds on the server as doing their thing and the 25s are doing our thing.

And, to my utter shock and delight, Apotheosis is doing WELL at “our thing”! We finished at #9 guild progressed guild in Burning Crusade, #6 Alliance guild, and that was with a 5 month delay on anything guild-related. We farmed Karazhan for three months before we got Maulgar and Gruul down. And even with that, we finished pretty well.

This time, we had our shit together. This time, we had a team ready to go. This time, we are SO much smarter than we were in Burning Crusade. (Seriously, who puts a moonkin in the tank group, back when the 5% crit buff they brought was party-wide only?) And this time, we don’t have the progression or attendance issues we had in Wrath.

Rank doesn’t mean a lot to me, truly, whether it’s server rank or US/world rank, but it’s always nice to see where you fit in. GuildOx says we’re the 706th ranked 25-man guild on US servers. So we’re not vodka or Premonition or Midwinter or Edge. We’re still here, we’re still kicking and we’ve cleared 12/12 normal modes, ready to add to our heroic Halfus kill with more heroic kills.

So freaking relieved. And so freaking proud of my peeps.

Day 04 – Your Best WoW Memory

This post is part of Saga’s 20 Days of WoW Blogging Challenge!

Day 04 – Your Best WoW Memory

There is no way I can narrow it down to just one memory or one moment of elation or one moment of pride or one moment of accomplishment. I’ve been playing for over five years, fairly regularly, fairly steadily. That’s a lot of time and that’s a lot of memories accumulated.

What I’ll do here is narrow it down to two memories from each expansion. That still doesn’t seem “right”, but it’ll have to do.

Vanilla WoW Memory #1: The one that tops the list here is everything I went through to get my Rhok’delar, Longbow of the Ancient Keepers. My guild at the time wasn’t clearing MC. We hadn’t even actually killed Onyxia, as a guild. So one day, there I am in Trade, and someone is SELLING the Ancient Petrified Leaf. They had killed Majordomo and looked in his chest and there was a leaf that no one could use. So they sent someone out to Ironforge and they started spamming Trade.

500 gold later, I was being summoned to Molten Core and I looted my leaf. I’d already gotten the Mature Black Sinew from Onyxia from a pug as I was the only hunter there who hadn’t gotten it yet. So I was well on my way and could start killing some demons.

I found Nelson the Nice and Simone pretty easy, but it was Franklin the Friendly (the first one I engaged — repeatedly) who kicked my ass all over Burning Steppes, much to the amusement of my guildies who would camp out and watch my miserable attempts. To this day, he is still my nemesis. Artorius also gave me a bit of trouble. Had Majik not been there on his priest to rez me (the demon and I killed each other at the same time), the demon probably would have despawned.

All those things together make up one of the best memories in WoW for me.

Vanilla WoW Memory #2: The Tier 0.5 questline. Yep, 45-minute Baron run and all (thank you very much, we once did it in 39 minutes with my cat, Whisper, “tanking”, plus Crypt healing, Majik, Tia, Tan and myself DPSing!), this is still a favourite memory of mine. It was three years AFTER I’d done everything for the questline that I finally got the Beaststalker Tunic from General Drakkisath in Upper Blackrock Spire and got my full Beastmaster’s Armor set. The five of us basically did this questline without a tank. The only time we needed an actual tank to help us out was the extra boss in Ras Frostwhisper’s room in Scholomance and the last boss, Lord Valthalak (aka, Lord Whatshisnuts) in Upper Blackrock Spire. The rest of it was easily done on our own or with the five of us. It was during this time that Majik lagged out on Vent and we actually thought he was high on some really potent drug.

I don’t think I had laughed that hard in my life, up until that night in Dire Maul, and probably not since then, either. It was one of the best times in this game for me.

Burning Crusade Memory #1: Killing Vashj. We have a copy of the kill video over on YouTube. This was the best kill of any boss probably ever, for me. I knew every detail of the fight, micromanaged it and after a LOT of time on this, we got her down, thanks in part to my 15k crit Lay on Hands when Dayden was the last tank left. Woot!

Burning Crusade Memory #2: Probably getting Kael down and getting my Hand of A’dal title. Killing Illidan was awesome, but it was post-3.0 so it wasn’t quite the same as getting Hand of A’dal, which is the title I still prefer to wear.

Wrath of the Lich King Memory #1: My different guilds in Wrath, all of them. Even the one with the crazy, abusive raid leader. Resurgence of Bronzebeard, the Proudmoore one and Choice of Skywall. After being in my own guild for two years, I was nervous and scared and not remotely confident about my abilities and value as a player. But Resurgence and Choice welcomed me with open arms. My Proudmoore guild, though less warm-and-fuzzy, allowed me to raid with my RL Friend the Resto Druid for several months and got me my ICC 25-man drake and, for the first (and last) time, allowed my friend and I to earn a title together — Astral Walker. So I’m indebted to all three of the guilds I spent time in during Wrath.

Wrath of the Lich King Memory #2: Killing the Lich King with Apotheosis on 10-man with Kurn and on 25-man with, well, 24 other members of Apotheosis. (Although this 10-man LK kill was pretty epic as well.) This happened at the tail end of Wrath of the Lich King, after the 4.0 drop, I believe, and honestly, seeing this team of people working together to successfully defeat the Lich King was great. When you take into consideration that a lot of them hadn’t ever seen the fight, it really makes me proud.

Cataclysm Memory #1: Just one memory so far for Cata — the fact that, three months into raiding, my guild is still alive and kicking. We’re still doing 25s. We’ve still never had to cancel a raid (although we moved the raid from Superbowl Sunday to the Monday). We’ve never had to drop into 10-mans. We’ve gone 11/12 normal modes and 1/13 heroic modes all on 25-man. We’ve lost a lot of people who originally threw their hats in, but we’ve recovered and gained some valuable members as well. Despite the stress and frustration and aggravation I’ve experienced so far, the best part about this expansion, for me, is that I’m raiding with people I know and love and, if I don’t love them, I at least respect them. We’re quite an interesting crew. And I love that we’re still together, conquering content, one boss at a time.

Looking over my answers, boss kills are generally my big moments of “YES!!!” in this game, followed closely by guild-related things. Amazing how much my favourite memories really rely on other people. I’m glad I’ve got a group of folks I really can rely on.

Yesterday – Your First Day Playing WoW
Tomorrow – Favourite item(s) in game

Al'Akir – 36, Apotheosis – 0

(No, no clever April Fool’s trick or gag.)

In February, on a night I desperately wanted to sit myself out due to a migraine (but ultimately couldn’t, due to lack of healers that night), we went in, killed Conclave for the first time and then pulled Al’Akir 16 times. All wipes. Some were comical in nature. Most were frustrating.

On March 31st, we went back to Throne, killed Conclave for the second time and then pulled Al’Akir 20 times. All wipes. Some were comical in nature. Most were frustrating.

Yeah, I see the trend, too.

We got him down to 27% on our best attempt. The trouble is that our best attempt was, oh, before the midpoint of our raid.

Picture it, if you will.

I’ve spread everyone out on the platform. 7 groups of 3 people and 1 group of 4. This is due to the lightning that bounces around.

So there’s me and Majik and Dayden standing there and Dayden runs in and pulls.

Time and time again, the damn Squall Line hits us riiiiiiiiiight when Wind Burst just comes off of cooldown. It’s so ridiculously dumb when the following combination happens:

– There is ice on the back of the platform.
– The gap is in the middle of the Squall Line.
– Wind Burst is casting OMG NOW, so you HAVE to move forward.
– The resulting Wind Burst throws you to the back of the platform, where the ice is and even when you USE Blessing (goddammit) Hand of Freedom, you can’t get there in time, not even with Holy Radiance/Speed of Light.

That EXACT scenario happened to me at least three times and possibly a fourth over 20 wipes. I also ate a few Squalls and Wind Bursts while trying desperately to avoid the other mechanic.

So, being relatively new to the fight, we tried moving me to a place that would require less combinations like that. I was feeling like ass. Was it really always just me getting screwed over by this Wind Burst/Squall Line combo? Or was it really bad luck? Or what? I mean, Dayden and Majik were having trouble, too.

So I switched myself with Walks, because there’s a point where you just have to start throwing things at the wall to see if they’ll stick.

Walks got blown off the platform!

Sorry, buddy, you know I think you’re awesome, but I about cheered. This terrible combination is NOT just my fault. That was a pretty huge weight off my shoulders and I stopped feeling like I was a horrible failure, even though I am not the best on mobility fights. At least I wasn’t a liability to the raid. That combo was giving everyone problems.

So I shifted everyone one pattern over to the right, as we faced him. Just to see what would happen. Football joked in officer chat that “hey, wouldn’t it be funny if it was in the same place and it’s all dependant on where the MT is standing?” and then a raider said the same comment two minutes later in raid chat.

So what happened? That’s right. The same damn thing. The spawning of everything happens in direct relation to where the main tank is and is PURPOSELY DESIGNED, as far as I can tell, to ENSURE that the MT will have to juggle Wind Burst and Squall Line within a second or two of each other.

(Five minutes with the joker who designed this. Five minutes and a sturdy hockey stick.)

So we went back to our usual positions and we had Fog, the OT, grab aggro first. Once the squalls had spawned, Dayden taunted and THAT seemed to change how things were spawning. And, for some reason, we had the two Squall Lines intersect without one of them despawning.

On our last attempt of the night, we tried that again, Fog pulling first, then Dayden taunting off, and while a lot of people had to re-adjust to the way things were spawning for them, which was completely different than how it had spawned for the entire night, we saw that the colliding Squall Lines was a fluke of Lady RNG, since it didn’t happen again.

So Al’Akir lives to torment us another day. From what I can tell in a bunch of videos I’ve watched since the raid ended, the tank (the one who pulled) and others with him just deke the Squall Line BEFORE the Wind Burst comes up. I think it’s just something we’ll likely have to deal with (someone will need to deal with it at any rate) and then burn the crap out of him so that we get through P1 really fast.

On the bright side, we’re probably just going to kill Nef on Sunday real quick (haha, hopefully, anyways) and then come back to Throne and… wait, that’s not a bright side. Ah, well!

It was educational, if nothing else. :)

(Okay, not five minutes. Three minutes? How’s that? Three minutes and a wiffle bat!)

New Episode of Blessing of Frost!

A new episode of Blessing of Frost is up and ready for you to listen to on this maintenance morning! Head on over and listen to Majik, myself and Dayden, the tank officer of Apotheosis, discuss Blackwing Descent bosses, Dayden’s vacation in the Dominican Republic (along with all the alcohol he drank) and find out why a lowbie pug thought Majik spoke nothing but Spanish…

All available for you here:

(Thanks to the four people who informed me I used the wrong link.)

Why Nefarian Sucks

Before I begin, I’d like to state that I actually quite enjoy the Nefarian fight. At least I do on 25-man difficulty, which is what I’ll address here. (I don’t imagine I’ll ever see it on 10-man and I’m okay with that.)

However, the fight sucks on a wide variety of levels. Why is this?

The encounter requires almost perfect execution. This, in itself, is not a bad thing. Perfect execution is something we should always strive for in every encounter. The problem is actually that it requires almost perfect execution from ~9 people at separate times and sustained good execution (even very good execution) from everyone else.

1) The tanks. If your Onyxia tank isn’t turning her appropriately, your raid will be fried by her lightning. If your add tank isn’t despawning the adds appropriately in P1, your P3 add tank is screwed. If your Nefarian tank doesn’t drag Nefarian far enough away from Onyxia, they get the Children of Deathwing buff and will pretty much 2-shot both your Ony tank and your Nef tank.

2) The interrupters. While this will be somewhat alleviated in 4.1 because all interrupt abilities will no longer miss, that’s not the case today and it hasn’t been the case since the launch of Cataclysm. That means that, right now and up until 4.1, you need people able to interrupt every single cast of Blast Nova in P2 who are reliable. In the 25-man version, Blast Nova is cast every 8 seconds, so unless you have 3 enhancement shaman lying around, you probably need 4, 5 or 6 dedicated interrupters. Tanks generally have low hit, so they miss. Healers are generally the same, plus they also have this thing called “healing” to do while on the platforms. Granted, the amount of hit needed is only 5-6% since the mobs you’re interrupting are level 85, just like us. So in some cases, a tank would be okay for this. For the most part, however, in order to have interrupts that don’t miss, you need a mix and match of melee DPS who are probably going to be hit-capped. If one of them misses one interrupt, you may be able to pull through, but in our raid group, 2+ Blast Novas means an immediate wipe or means that some people die due to the extra damage and leaves us wiping somewhere under 10%.

3) The healers have to push in P2. Honestly, you’ve got to pull out all your tricks, especially if you’re planning on pushing 1-2 Electrocutes (see below) in this phase. I take 7 healers to Nefarian and put two on each platform, along with one of our three tanks on each platform, meaning there’s five DPS on each platform as well. The extra healer generally gets dropped on to the NE platform and is usually an Atonement disc priest, so they’re able to smite the add and heal that way. However, the tricky part is that we have to keep up this insane kind of burn phase for ~3 minutes and, in the case of my guild, two Electrocutes. All the while, we’re dealing with Shadowflame Barrage (which inflicts pushback — and while I try to make sure a paladin and a shaman are on each platform, they’re both using Resist aura/totem so that we get the Shadow and Fire covered from the paladin and the nature covered from the shaman), healing people up after they pop out of the lava —

  • A word about the lava. Getting out of the lava is not hard. The lip of the platform sucks and, yes,  there have been times where I’ve jumped around, flailing like a jackass. The lava does not suck. What sucks is Blast Nova being cast right as most people are jumping up out of the lava on to the platform. What we tend to do is have everyone with an interrupt try to get the first one except the person designated to be the second interrupter. But it still sucks.

— and generally trying desperately to make sure people are topped off just before Electrocute hits. I pop everything — Aura Mastery, Guardian of Ancient Kings, Divine Favor, Avenging Wrath, Holy Radiance, even sometimes Lay on Hands, though I prefer to hold that and my mana potion for P3. I also try to sneak in a Divine Plea right at the P1/P2 transition so it’s up again sometime in P2. It’s one of the crazier healing moments in the game and, the way we do it, it lasts almost the full three minutes.

This isn’t bad, but it sure means we’re pretty taxed as we push P3, with Electrocutes coming every 20 seconds or so, plus the healers chasing the add tank don’t get a chance to rest. Further, because I’ve had to blow all my CDs in P2, most of them (Guardian of Ancient Kings in particular) don’t come back up in P3. That’s why I try to save my mana potion and my Lay on Hands for P3, because I know that’s all I’ll have left to help me out with maybe two Hands of Sacrifice, if I’m lucky. So yeah, healing in any role on this fight can suck.

4) The add tank in P3 has got to be on top of his or her game. Running the adds around, dodging Shadowflame, stunning (and not stunning) as is appropriate. I have not healed the add tank so I’m not really sure what this insanity looks like, but I understand that the basic concept of this boils down to “making split-second decisions over the course of about 3 minutes, the results of which will either kill you and wipe the raid or will save you and the raid.”

5) Electrocute is nature damage. Okay, this is probably more of a pet peeve than an outright reason why this fight sucks, but it just didn’t seem to be a complete list without this as a mention. As a paladin, my Resistance Aura resists Shadow, Fire and Frost damage. Aura Mastery boosts those resistances, normally at 195, effectively doubling those resistances to 390 for six seconds. (According to this scary, yet useful, math post on Elitist Jerks, this means our base resist is ~20% against a level 88 and Aura Mastery bumps it up to the 35% level.)  Shaman are the ones in the raid (generally) who bring nature resistance in the form of Elemental Resistance Totem or glyphed Healing Stream Totem. (Hunters can also help with Aspect of the Wild, but who wants to give up the RAP from Aspect of the Hawk?) Shaman do not have a burst resist mechanic like Aura Mastery, so 195 Nature/Frost/Fire resistance is all you get from their totems, or, as noted before, ~20% resist. That means, on average, about 20k of that ~100k damage is resisted if you’re in range of a shaman’s totems or a hunter’s Aspect of the Wild. But short of personal cooldowns, there’s not a lot you can do to mitigate Electrocute damage beyond relying on someone’s totem.

6) Due to the unreal reliance on a specific handful of people, finger-pointing is hard to avoid. On the one hand, I enjoy clearly-defined roles so I know who screwed up. On the other hand, boy, does this fight piss people off and BOY, does it make people leap on each other, many armed with poorly-interpreted log data. (Pet peeve: people reading the logs who have no idea what they’re reading.)

Seriously, tempers get frayed, strategies are questioned and really, it’s just a matter of finding the right variations that work for you and then executing them. Execute the fight, we win. If any of those people (interrupters, tanks, healers) screw up, that’s almost certainly a wipe. And then you have to trace the root of that failure. So someone died to Electrocute because they weren’t topped up by the healers. Did Blast Nova contribute to the low health? Was the healer completely oom because of healing through Blast Nova? Who let the Blast Nova or Novas through?

The key to analyzing this fight is finding the root cause, not just saying “oh, so-and-so died to this”.

Wait, Kurn, you LIKE this fight?

I do. I like the feeling when Nefarian dies, knowing that the people we relied on were (almost certainly) on their game. I like knowing that we beat a tricky encounter. I like pushing myself in P2 and I’m constantly pushing to make myself better at it so I’m not practically oom when I start healing the Nefarian tank in P3.

We didn’t get Nefarian down this reset. Some roster changes, some changes in roles… we had two 1% wipes, but couldn’t seal the deal.

I don’t like it, but I’m okay with what it means. It means that we probably extend Blackwing Descent until next week. If we do, it means that we have 5 less bosses to kill, which means more time on other stuff. Heroic Halfus, normal Al’Akir, these are the fights we’ll be looking at, and because we’re probably extending the instance, we’ll have the time to do so. With only 9 hours of raiding a week, we can easily waste a lot of time. Maybe cutting out 5 farmable bosses is a way to do that.

All I know is that Nef will die this coming reset and that I’m looking forward to some new stuff, too.

Oh yeah, and the Defender of a Shattered World title, too!

Peaks and Valleys

This game is full of ups and downs. One minute, you’re on top of the world, the next, you’re nothing but food for Deathwing.

Apotheosis has had an interesting week, to say the least. While I don’t want to be constantly talking about my guild, I do want to share what’s happening in my WoW life. I hope that what I’m sharing has some resonance with others, despite the specific circumstances we’ve experienced.

The Peaks:

– We took a fury warrior app, turned him into a prot warrior app, threw him into the fire and he did remarkably well.

– Despite not having two of our main-spec tanks on Sunday and only six healers available to us, we still cleared Bastion of Twilight that night.

– Even though he gave us fits at the end of the raid on Tuesday and all of Thursday, we killed Nefarian again. It’s always tricky to introduce new players to a fight that isn’t quite on farm. It’s somewhat embarassing to wipe as often as we did, though, after previously 4-shotting him.

– Due to the generous donations of various guildies, including the ever-awesome Toga, we got the Better Leveling Through Chemistry achievement and, therefore, access to the Recipe: Big Cauldron of Battle. (I never want to make flasks again, I swear to God. I probably made about 700 of those flasks over the last 2-3 weeks.) This is going to allow us to provide the vast majority of raiders with flasks every raid night, although we’re looking into ideas as to how to make it sustainable. For this first week, we’re not requiring anything of anyone, since we have a ton of flasks in the bank due to pushing for the achievement, but making it sustainable would be lovely. (Would love to hear your suggestions, too!)

– We hit Level 20, so we have access to the new heirloom helms and we get 30 flasks per Big Cauldron of Battle versus 20. (My 44 mage alt has the helm, the shoulders, the cloak, the chest, the staff, the trinket and the ring. She has +40% experience from killing monsters or completing quests. How ridiculous is that?!)

– We got a new holy/disc priest app who interviewed very well and so we extended a trial position to her. She transferred over on Sunday evening and will be in the lineup tonight!

– We got our balance druid back after he had to be away for about three weeks due to visa issues.

– We got another healing priest app that we have an interview with tomorrow.

It was a pretty good week for the guild, given all those peaks, right? Some stabilization of the roster, clearing content, getting gear for people, getting shards for the bank and people’s enchants, pushing the guild level and getting that cauldron… Really, on all fronts, that was a pretty decent week. But then… Then you have the valleys.

The Valleys:

– While we did 5/6 BWD in about 90 minutes, Nefarian took us the next 4 hours of raiding to get down. After 4-shotting him on the previous Sunday. That sucked. Off nights happen, but ugh.

– No progression. The plan was to play with heroic Halfus on Thursday. That was assuming that Nefarian would be dead on Tuesday. When he wasn’t dead on Tuesday, we still figured we’d easily get 90ish minutes on heroic Halfus on Thursday. Except we didn’t, because we spent the vast majority of Thursday night on Nefarian.

– Sunday, without two main-spec tanks (our tank officer is on vacation for a week and my brother was out celebrating at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade), was not the optimum moment to go back to heroic Halfus attempts, so we did it on normal and it went fine. Valiona and Theralion were one-shotted as well, but oh God, the messiness. /facepalm I don’t know what it is about this fight, but people just do not do it well. It’s so bad that last night, I dreamt that we wiped on them 8 times and that a specific warlock was eating some ability every single attempt and they were completely unaware until I was like “Yo, what is UP with you eating (ability) and dying on every single fight?!” and the response was “Oh. Is that what’s killing me? Huh.” (My guildies are not like this, but there are people who do struggle with the fight.) Council and Cho’gall were similarly rough, but we persevered and got through, despite only having 6 healers and our new prot warrior who’s never tanked those fights before, never mind killed those bosses with us.

– There was an incident between two raiders between Council wipes that required Darista and I to tell them to cut it out. The incident led to the officers and I debating what to do with one of the individuals involved, who had previously been warned about their behaviour. As the GM, I wrote to the individual and explained to them that they’d been previously warned and that the officers were now going to take action, although we didn’t know what that would be and were currently deliberating. Rather than wait for our decision, the individual declared their intention to leave the guild yesterday. They did so later in the day. As a result, we are a weaker raid group, without question.

This is the first incident of a raiding member of Apotheosis /gquitting and searching for a new home due to circumstances within the guild. We’ve had a couple gquit due to their own personal availability issues that they had not informed us about previously, which is fine. We’ve had a few people just stop playing the game, too, so losing a member isn’t new. But losing a member due to conflict is just not cool.

In general, if you leave my guild, you are dead to me. I don’t take kindly to people moving on to greener pastures, nor do I tolerate impulsive /gquits that stem from anger or misunderstandings. This was neither of those; this was the individual in question choosing to take their fate into their own hands. Rather than wait even 24 hours for the officers to discuss the issue, the individual took the decision out of our hands and into their own.

While I’m not happy with how things went down, I wouldn’t do things differently. Warnings only go so far before action must be taken. Threatened action must have that follow through, lest no one take said threatened action seriously in the future. Similarly, the individual must have thought they were doing the right thing for them, and I can’t fault them for doing what they felt needed to be done, despite the fact my team is weaker for it. But it still sucks.

– Relatedly, someone who was almost certainly from my guild then chose to troll the aforementioned individual’s new “hey, I’m available!” recruitment post. This is probably the most disheartening part of it all, so I hope they’re reading this. This troll is a coward, a jackass and someone I don’t want in my guild. They made me act like an adult and intervene in the individual’s recruitment thread to indicate that the troll’s comments were not my feelings about the individual, because it was the right thing to do, both personally and professionally. News flash: having to act like an adult when I’m already pissed off and already struggling to be civil in general is one of my least favourite things to do, so on a personal level, I’m seriously angry. To this troll I ask, why not let sleeping dogs lie? You didn’t like the person and you were rid of them. Congratulations, you won. It could have, and should have, ended there with a quiet celebration on your part.

But then you had to post in their recruitment thread like a gloating 12-year-old? Seriously? You’re an ass if you feel you have to get in the last word just as someone’s left the guild and try to prevent them from getting guilded elsewhere because you happen to not like them. Get the hell out of my guild immediately. You are not the type of person I want in my guild. That’s not how we roll. We try to treat people with respect, dammit, and if I ever find out who you are, I’m gkicking you for being such a stain on our guild’s reputation and culture.

It’s seriously disappointing to discover that someone who is apparently so insecure about their own sense of self-worth that they need to troll a former member’s new thread is almost certainly in my guild. I honestly feel dirty.

– Right. Back to the valleys… Our tank officer is still out of town until Saturday so he won’t be around until Sunday’s raid, which means we may not get a chance to do any progression until then, unless things go very smoothly in BWD, which would open up some time for Conclave and Al’Akir on Thursday.

– One of my healers is in the hospital at the moment (should be back home maybe as early as Thursday?), another is halfway out the door (for life-is-busy reasons. He’ll continue to make most raids just in case until April, but not tonight.) so various circumstances mean I have 5-6 healers for tonight. Good times?


It’s been an interesting week, sort of in the Chinese curse sense of the word (“May you live in interesting times.“), but an interesting week nonetheless. Seriously. This was my inbox yesterday:

Anyways, up next for us is probably either heroic Halfus, Al’Akir or maybe even a peek at heroic Maloriak, if I can convince people to do so tonight. ;)

Finally, Apotheosis is still recruiting a second elemental shaman, a second moonkin and would consider a second restoration druid. None of these are bench positions; we swap people out pretty equally and even I’m sat out now and again. Apply today!

Nefarian Down, Blackwing Descent Clear!

It was not the most auspicious of beginnings.

I’d been out all afternoon at my parents’ house because my dad’s laptop was stubbornly refusing to boot. So I went over, rescued pretty much all of his data, then we wiped it and restored the laptop to factory settings, using the restore partition. The whole process, plus dinner, lasted from 3pm until almost 8pm.

So I got home and promptly looked over the raiders for the evening and split them up into three groups for pillars on Nefarian and we eventually got the raid started.

For the first time, we dropped Cauldrons of Battle! I made 3 of them at the start and 3 of them after our break. We had an EP drive the other week for herbs and other flask mats, so I have made a TON of flasks over the last couple of weeks. We’re selling the procs to fund our repairs and keeping the base amounts in the bank for cauldrons. Well, we had enough mats to make all six cauldrons we needed and had a ton of spirit flasks (since Cauldrons don’t give you spirit as an option), so I gave out 3 spirit flasks to every healer who wanted them, while Walks and myself used the Cauldron for +intellect. The purpose? A little morale booster to show people we wanted to get this sucker down. Also, just to see how it all worked. I was amused that Mixology now seems to work and so my own Flask of Battle lasted three hours.

So I dropped three Cauldrons up front and then three of them again at the break. Each Cauldron gives 7 Flasks of Battle and, due to Chug-a-Lug (Rank 1), each flask lasts 90 minutes for your regular non-alchemist.

The first attempt wasn’t bad and got us to the P2/P3 transition. Except that at least one Chromatic Prototype was still up. Wipe!

Try 2: A disconnected healer and a Nefarian tank death in P1.
Try 3: Nefarian tank death in P1.

This happened a few times and I was like “WHAT THE EFF” because I hadn’t changed up healing strats. It was the same strat, I just had people on different assignments.

Turns out that, without being asked to by me, some of the healers had taken to spot-healing/helping out on the Ony and Nef tanks in, you know, all of our past attempts. Without asking me or letting me know. And since we’d not had any P1 tank death issues, I’d never gone through to see what the deal was. So when I kept the assignments the same, but switched a couple of healers around, one who typically spot-healed the Nef tank wasn’t able to do so any longer. Dead Nef tank.

Communication is key, people. And I now know to assign spot-heals on the tanks in P1.

Thus began the Blast Nova wipes.

Try 4: Dead healer in lava, then some Blast Novas. Wipe.
Try 5: P1 Nef tank death. (We were still figuring out the issue.)
Try 6: Blast Nova wipe.
Try 7: Blast Nova wipe.
Try 8: Blast Nova wipe.
Try 9: Hm, what’s this, oh, right, Blast Nova wipe!

Try 10:

I believe that was the attempt that  saw us get to 12%.

We took our regular 7-minute break here, since it was 10:30 and our Flasks of Battle were running out.

I made some swaps. I don’t like being the bad guy, but I had to swap out some people for a variety of reasons. Either they couldn’t get out of the lava reliably or their overall damage was lower than expected or whatever. They’d had 90 minutes to perfect doing their jobs and they just… well, some of them didn’t. Practice makes perfect, but I had to swap them out to try to get the boss down. I really hate that, but I like that I CAN swap people and then stack the raid comp appropriately.

Anyways, back to Nefarian.

Try 11: Oh, look, a return to Blast Nova wipes! /sigh.

Try 12: 14%!

Try 13:

On the pull, my holy priest got crit by Onyxia and died. We popped her up and continued.

We lost a healer on a platform in P2, but it was the third healer (we run with 7 healers, so one platform gets 3 healers) and we got him popped up in P3.

We went through two Electrocutes in P2, the second one at the tail end of the phase, right as we were hopping off platforms. It was definitely tight.

So we popped up the healer who had died in P2 and went to town on P3, with Nefarian under 60%.

Holy God. The Nef tank doesn’t take a HUGE amount of damage, but the Electrocutes come so damn quickly in P3 with all your DPS focused on Nefarian. I’d been calling out Electrocutes all night long and I missed at least two of them on Try 13 because I wasn’t expecting them to come that quickly.

We popped Time Warp (as opposed to heroism, since we only had one shaman in the raid and she was a healer who was basically oom) at 25%. And the whole damn raid was still alive. I think it was right about here where I felt “we might actually GET this!” but I knew that all it would take to wipe us was a bad shadowblaze and our add tank would be dead.

Majik and our other mage made use of Rings of Frost to slow down some adds and our add tank ran them through them here and there.

Of course, like most people’s first kills, our add tank died at 5%.



But what I didn’t see… was this.

That’s right. With our add tank dead and our “backup” add tank dead, they were looking at me.

And decided to beat me.


We did it!

Crazy, crazy times. 11/12 normal modes on 25-man.

We then went to Throne to try to knock out Conclave and didn’t quite get them down for a second time, but I REALLY was not expecting to go there, so no big.

After the raid, Apotheosis got another achievement.

Yup. Got the It All Adds Up guild achievement. Ouch. 50,000 gold on repairs hurts when you think about it!

Overall, a great raid week, an awesome raid night and we creep ever-closer to going 12/12. We’ll probably play with heroic Halfus this week and definitely try to repeat the Nefarian kill and see if we have time for Al’Akir. I think, anyways. :)

(Interested in joining us? Apotheosis is looking for a balance druid and an elemental shaman! Apply today!)

Blessing of Frost Pimpage, Short Update

Episode 11 of Blessing of Frost is live! Go check it out at! Our special guest this week is Stoneybaby of the guild Big Crits and our topic is raid progression.

We also got a new iTunes feed and the new episodes will be added shortly after they’re up on the website, so subscribe to the Blessing of Frost feed and rate us up! If a Tuesday goes by and you don’t see a new episode, hit up the website to be sure you don’t miss a single ep. :)

In other news…

Yup, Nefarian to 22% on Sunday night. A couple of hiccups here and there, but there’s definite progress happening. We’re engaged in a bit of an amusing (and very informal) “who can kill him first?” battle with Conquest of Ner’zhul, the guild that THEEEEE Matticus heads up. They’re a good 12 pulls ahead of us, best as I can figure, and wiped on him at 4% tonight and are going back in tomorrow. That gives us at least 13 attempts to tie them, if they get him down on the first attempt tomorrow. I think we can do that.

It means nothing, of course, but it’s fun to engage in a bit of inter-guild competition since there’s very little 25-man competition going on over on Eldre’Thalas these days. I’m fairly certain that Epic Again, the #1 25-man guild on the server, is 12/12 regular modes by now and Free At Last was 10/12 before they split into two 10-man teams, so that makes Apotheosis the #2 active 25-man guild on the server. The nearest “competition” to us is a Horde guild that seems to be 6/12, so… yeah.

Speaking of the ol’ guild, Apotheosis is still looking for non-cloth-wearing casters! Moonkins and elemental shaman, this means you! Apply today, would you? ;) Also looking at resto druids, probably all good on resto shaman, definitely full on priests, warlocks, mages, death knights and not seeking tanks at this time. Feel free to email me at kurn [at] apotheosis-now [dot] com if you’re interested in applying and you have any questions. I’ll be happy to answer you. :)

In the meantime, if you’re a holy paladin, check out the Alliance guild Choice of Skywall or the Horde guild Big Crits of Sen’jin as both are looking for good holy paladins!

Lame update, I know.

Anyways, this is going up at about 9am ET (I love setting a future publishing time) so a bunch of people see the post while maintenance is still going on and I’m still asleep. ;) Have a great day and enjoy the latest Blessing of Frost episode!

Lord Victor Nefarius and Lady Katrana Prestor

I’ve been playing WoW for a long time. More than five years, now. One of my earlier memories is getting the Rallying Cry of the Dragonslayer. I remember being VERY confused about it when I got it and that’s when I started researching stuff.

And that was my introduction to Lord Victor Nefarius (better known as Nefarian) and Lady Katrana Prestor (better known as Onyxia). Brother and sister, both children of Deathwing, Nefarian was the end-boss of Blackwing Lair in vanilla WoW and Onyxia was the only boss in what is appropriately named “Onyxia’s Lair”, a raid instance in Dustwallow Marsh. Ony was a 40-man raid and then retuned during Wrath of the Lich King to be a 10 or 25-man raid. Personally, I loved the Ony raid. I only killed her twice on Kurn at level 60, once in a pug run by some of the better players on the server and once with a bunch of my guildmates at the time, although we had a lot of outside help.

I never did kill a Blackwing Lair boss at level 60, so I was nowhere near getting to kill Nefarian.

So why all the background?

In Blackwing Descent, the end boss is Nefarian. And he has resurrected Onyxia. And we did our first 17 or so pulls last night.

For all of Phase 1 of the Nefarian encounter, you’re dealing with Ony and then Nefarian lands partway through and you are fighting BOTH of them. Hilarity and awesomeness!

They get a buff called Children of Deathwing, hilariously enough, if they’re within 60 yards of each other. Also hilarious and awesome!

I’m not a huge lore person, but because I KNOW these characters, and especially because I unmasked Lady Katrana Prestor to be, in fact, Onyxia, at the end of the exceedingly long attunement quest chain to be attuned to Onyxia’s Lair, back in the day, it means more to me than some random dragon.

The Valiona and Theralion fight in Bastion of Twilight means very little to me, despite the fact that you actually fight Valiona in Grim Batol. There’s no history for me.

But Nefarian? I spent a long time in vanilla WoW wondering if we’d ever get to set foot in BWL as a guild. (We did not.) I spent time inspecting those awesome T2-geared hunters and paladins (Judgement is still the coolest set of all time, despite the fact it’s all healing gear now. Whatever happened to the strength, spirit and agility that was on that set?).

I’ve killed Level 60 Nefarian a couple of times since 4.0 dropped, while Football (our gnome warrior we used to get to pull the Beast in UBRS, who would then get punted, hence the nickname) was farming up mats for his Thunderfury, but I never killed him at the appropriate level.

Apotheosis got Nefarian to 47% last night.

That’s with:

– one no-show
– one very late cancellation by a tank
– one late “oh crap, I’m going to be late” notification
– three officers missing

So we ran with two offspec tanks (an Unholy-turned-Blood DK and a Retribution-turned-Protection pally). Didn’t have a feral druid in the raid. Didn’t have a frost DK in the raid. We were missing some pretty important buffs: 3% damage, increased melee speed and increased bleed damage (until I realized the bleed damage thing and got Toga to pull out his hyena).

And we still got Nefarian to 47%.

Not only that, but I’m dogsitting at my parents’ house for a week while they’re away and I have had nothing but computer issues. My laptop refuses to stay connected to the wireless network here, while my dad’s desktop refuses to run Mumble. So I was on Mumble on my laptop and on WoW on the desktop and kept dropping off Mumble but then also got dropped out of the game a couple of times. /facepalm. So I eventually said screw it and just plugged my laptop directly into the modem (using the one ethernet cord my father apparently has in the entire house) and played from my laptop, as I normally do.

So even with my ridiculous technical issues and despite our DK DCing a couple of times, we did great. 47%!

There was this one attempt where we’re in P2 and I’m on my pillar and I look and neither our elemental shaman nor the DPS DK who were interrupting were still alive.

I then realized that it was up to me and the Blood DK to interrupt Blast Nova. And while my Rebuke was on cooldown, I would be healing the crap out of the people on my platform, along with one of our disc priests. Believe it or not, we got through that attempt without me or the DK screwing up and/or missing. And I don’t mean “oh no, my attack didn’t hit”, since even with just one point in Enlightened Judgements, I’m melee hit-capped for a raid boss (… is Rebuke a spell-hit roll or a melee-hit roll?) and the Chromatic Prototypes we’re interrupting are level 85, but with zero communication between us, the DK and I managed to keep that sucker locked down, in a proper rotation. It was pretty awesome. :D

Well, it’s awesome in retrospect. In the moment, I was like “Oh God, he’s dead… she’s dead… OH GOD I HAVE TO INTERRUPT. ShitshitshitshitREBUKE.”

Still, makes for a good story. ;)

So Nef to 47%. And we can clear out 5/6 BWD in about 2 hours, with any luck.

I think our priority this week is a repeat Cho’gall kill, a quick run to Conclave for a repeat there (?) and definitely some more Nef work.

At some point, in the not-so-distant future, I will finally kill Nefarian at the appropriate level.

This makes me giddy. :)

Have you pulled Nefarian? Killed him? What are your impressions on the fight?

Conclave Falls, Al'Akir Fails

So Apotheosis walked into Throne of the Four Winds last night and got Conclave down on 25m on our second attempt of the night.


And then came time to play with Al’Akir.

Not so sweet.

There are at least a couple of people in my guild who LOVE the Al’Akir fight. There are more than a few people who loathe it. Frankly, and I say this with respect, I don’t care whether they love it or hate it. We WILL be doing Al’Akir at some point. We want to clear the available content on regular and heroic modes in 25-man.

As for myself, I admit that I’m not a fan. I think the whole instance is ridiculous. Why on earth would anyone go get “randomly enchanted” loot (of the Undertow, Feverflare, etc) over the known loot tables in Bastion of Twilight and Blackwing Descent? It’s not about loot for me, but with a 9-hour raid schedule, we have to be very careful about where we go and what we do and how that will benefit the majority of people. Will one belt or ring that is just a shade better than one otherwise available really be The Difference between downing heroic modes and wiping? Eh. If everyone got BiS belts/rings off Conclave, that’d be one thing, but not everyone has BiS gear off Conclave or even off Al’Akir. Add that to no tier tokens and the promise of more randomly enchanted stuff when you do the heroic version of the instance… Meh.

However, since we had extended Bastion and cleared it on Tuesday and then did 5/6 Blackwing Descent, we figured we’d do Conclave and play with Al’Akir on Thursday. You know, knock Conclave out (bringing us to 10/12, by the way) and get an idea of the mechanics on Al’Akir.

Wind Burst pwned me until I started watching the timers.

Squall pwned me whenever I had to worry about it and my Wind Burst positioning.

We got to 60% and made it to P2 several times, but I gotta say, it was not all that much fun. Still, it was better than I expected and we were just playing around and such.

Not my favourite fight. Not my favourite instance. Not my cup of tea.

And yet, I think we’ll probably be in this tier of content until May or so (judging by Wrath’s time frame on tiers).  Wrath came out in mid-November and Ulduar came out in mid-April. So if Cataclysm came out in early December, we’ll probably be looking at 4.1 and the associated T12 raid content somewhere in May.

In just about seven resets, we’ve done 10/12 regular. That gives us roughly 11 resets (or ~33 raids, not counting this coming Sunday) to clear through things. That’s about 100 hours of raiding.

That’s a lot of time for Al’Akir, Nefarian and then the heroic modes, particularly since the heroic modes are really based on the regulars, most of which we already know. I feel that the more experience/knowledge/familiarity we have in the regulars, the easier the heroics will be.

I’d like to really make sure we focus on Bastion and BWD heroic modes, including Sinestra, so those are where my personal priorities are. I think we’ll try to fit Conclave in the schedule since we really didn’t have any issues with it and, worst-case scenario, we get more Maelstrom Crystals for the raiders. But I don’t anticipate a lot of time on Al’Akir in the near future.

Gonna be some fun times ahead, let me say!