Too Soon, Blizzard!

I’ll apologize for this up front. This is going to be long. This is going to be angry. This is going to be ranty. This is also heavily my opinion and how this will affect me, personally. Don’t be offended if I don’t mention your raid group or your raid size or if I do and I’m mildly disparaging. I am not happy and that’s going to come out here. So I apologize now. This also puts a delay on my response to my own “Is Warcraft a Game?” post and my post about evaluating healers and my post about Paladin feedback.

My first thought upon reading about the upcoming nerfs to Firelands content was “What the FUCK?!” In fact, you can hear that thought in Episode 33 of Blessing of Frost. Note that this post gets angrier, so either click through or move along.

Continue reading “Too Soon, Blizzard!”

Double the Pleasure, Double the Fun

It’s definitely been interesting to raid with both my guild, Apotheosis of Eldre’Thalas, and a guild I was in for the tail end of Wrath, Choice of Skywall. I’ve learned a LOT about both Firelands and about being a holy paladin. I’ve learned a lot about being a raid leader, guild leader and healing lead. I’ve learned a lot about being a cog in the machine and being part of the rank and file.

I spend, well, I guess it’s about 15 hours a week raiding. In truth, it’s probably three hours or so too much, but nine hours isn’t quite “enough” for me, and 6 hours of raiding as “just” a raider isn’t anywhere as taxing as 6 hours of raiding as any kind of a leader. So I’ve spent a lot of time raiding Firelands over the last couple of months and have learned a lot.

What’s been the most valuable thing about this whole deal is that I’m learning from my own mistakes that I make in various raids. In Apotheosis, I’m guilty of spending too much time looking at the rest of the raid — cooldowns used, who’s dead, etc, and my healing suffers. In Choice, I’m guilty of spending a little too much time tunnel-visioning, so while I have great healing, I do occasionally get beaned by some environmental hazard.

I’ve also learned a lot from each raid and brought what I’ve learned to the other raid. For example, Choice did Baleroc before Apotheosis did, so I was able to take their strategy and refine it to suit my group. I was also then able to take stuff from Apotheosis raids and let the Choice leadership play with it as they saw fit. (They totally use our 1-8 naming of Rag elementals, which I like to think are thanks to me. ;D) Apart from the cross-raid knowledge, it’s always an amazing feeling to know that you helped a raid group do something, you know?

I mean, sure, I was dead at the end of both of the Apotheosis Ragnaros kills, but I knew I’d worked hard to get us there. For Choice’s first kill, I was one of three healers standing, there was one tank left and a sudden calm descended upon me. “We’ve got this,” I felt. I just felt it and knew it. I popped my Angry!Man (Guardian of the Ancient Kings) right as he came off of cooldown and proceeded to heal the crap out of the sole, remaining tank. (And as I did so, I couldn’t help but think, “Man, Kal would be proud of me for using him twice in one attempt!”)

The tank died shortly after, due to a meteor, but another couple of seconds of DPS and Rag was defeated.

So Apotheosis defeated Ragnaros again last week and tonight, Monday, Choice defeated Rag for the first time.

Both guilds are poised to play with Heroic Shannox this upcoming reset.

Despite my grumbling about heroic modes and such, I still do them, and heroic modes are where guilds go to raid when they complete regular-mode content, so that’s where both Apotheosis and Choice are headed.

I cannot WAIT to see the differences between the approaches to Shannox on heroic mode, can’t wait to see the mistakes both groups make and can’t wait to see how both guilds eventually down him.

I enjoy being a part of both raid groups very much and while my overall loyalty has to be to Apotheosis (both because I’m the GM and because I love my guild), healing with Choice makes me feel accomplished in a different way and allows me to relax in a way I can’t do with Apotheosis.

And hey, Rag down on normal for both my paladins, Ragnar-O’s for both my paladins… that definitely does feel pretty good. :)

PS: Don’t forget to check out Blessing of Frost, just released Episode 32!
PPS: Majik has a Twitter! Follow him @Majjity!
PPPS: I have two posts coming this week: one rewritten Holy How-To and another one about healer evaluations. Stay tuned. :)


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!


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.

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’.

Voice Communication & Player Atrophy

For about 9 months, starting in September of 2009 until June of 2010, I raided with a guild where we didn’t use Vent, TeamSpeak or Mumble. We didn’t use any voice communications at all until maybe the last few weeks I spent in the guild.

When people hear this, their reactions range from “no way, you’re lying” to “… but.. wha.. HOW?!”, particularly when they learn that we went 11/12 ICC 25m HM. All without Vent. (We eventually started using it, as I mentioned, but that was mostly toward the end of my time there, so maybe late April/early May 2009? And even then, it wasn’t every raid.)

So to answer the “how”… It meant a lot of reading of instructions from the raid leader and my role leader (or a lot of typing for me, since I took over as healing lead for a few months in there). It meant strictly watching my timers in my boss mods and making adjustments to the boss mods (particularly DXE) so that I’d remember that THAT noise at THAT time meant “GTFO”. ;) It was key on encounters like Heroic Lady Deathwhisper because I configured the warning sound for Vengeful Shades to be really distinctive and I KNEW upon hearing that noise to watch for the shades spawning around me.

Raiding during that time meant no call-outs on Vent, because there was no Vent to call out on. And in the abusive, toxic environment it was, if you screwed up, even once, you could get kicked from the guild. No joke. I saw it happen more than once while I was there.

That’s all in the past, but that time in my WoW life definitely left its marks on me. Both bad (obviously) and good (not always so apparent).

I’m going to talk a bit about the good marks left on me from that time.

Cut to today: On Mondays (and Wednesdays), I get on the baby pally and raid with Choice of Skywall. Choice is currently working on the Alysrazor encounter as their progression encounter. Apotheosis, where I spend most of my time and energy, has already defeated Alysrazor three times, each kill being cleaner than the last. So I’m very comfortable with the fight at this point.

It was during Monday night’s attempts that I realized two things:

1) I am pretty damn good at that encounter. Like, really good. I don’t think I’ve been this good at an encounter since Dreamwalker. On Choice’s best attempt last night, I came in second on healing (without leaving Gushing Wound ticking on my tank, thank you very much), popped my Aura Mastery whenever I was supposed to and only took two ticks of tornado damage because I bubbled and healed the crap out of my tank whose hatchling was still up but NEARLY dead on that phase. I ate the tornadoes because I knew I had to help the tank live to get the hatchling down. Once Divine Shield wore off, I could still live through a couple of ticks of tornadoes and as long as I didn’t die (I didn’t), I could pull that off to help ensure the killing of the hatchling.

2) I’m not even paying attention to my boss mod timers because I know how to react to everything and I don’t need 5 seconds’ notice to tell me something’s going to happen. At least, not on that fight.

I got to thinking about my timers and then it dawned on me; I almost never look at my timers anymore. Not on that encounter and not on most. I don’t watch the timers on Shannox; I just pay attention to the bleed on the tanks. I don’t watch the timers on Beth’tilac; I know when to jump up or jump down and when to group up. I don’t watch timers on Lord Rhyolith; I just follow my tank around and AOE heal the best I can while watching boss health. I don’t watch timers on Baleroc; I just know that when the shards spawn, that’s generally my cue to swap to a new target. I don’t watch timers on Majordomo Staghelm; I watch his stacks of Adrenaline.

My boss mod timers were an integral part of my playstyle all through TOGC and ICC. There was no way in hell I wouldn’t have died like a noob a million times over if I hadn’t had my timers.

So why am I not watching my timers now? Probably the last time I seriously watched my timers was Heroic Maloriak so I could try to anticipate the Scorching Blasts.

Part of it is that DXE took forever to be updated and Deadly Boss Mod’s timers have always been okay, but not really ON, as far as I can tell. DXE was just… so amazing in  ICC and especially toward the end of the expansion, it was just so perfect! I was never led astray by DXE!

But part of it is that I’ve just gotten lazy. I’m listening for calls from my officers in most cases. They’ve been calling things out all expansion so far and, although I was initially resistant to them doing so, since I feel it engenders laziness, I now find that I listen for them to call stuff out. And I’m sure people listen to me when I call stuff out — which I do rarely, but have been doing on Majordomo.

I’m also pre-occupied with leaderish thoughts: I’m thinking “how many battle rezzes does that make?”. I’m watching cooldowns through oRA to make sure people are using them appropriately. I’m wondering if we can pull through or if we should call a wipe. And that’s in addition to healing and not standing in bad.

So with all that floating around in my head, no wonder I’m not watching the timers.

I can’t help but think that if I watched them, if I didn’t have people calling stuff out on Mumble, I would be a lot better off as a player.

I honestly feel as though my player skills have atrophied in the last year that I’ve been back on Vent and Mumble. Granted, all my instincts and skills and knowledge were still intact last June when I first joined Choice to finish out Wrath with them and that content was still what we were raiding at the very start of Apotheosis after 4.0 hit, so I don’t think being on Vent or Mumble with Choice or Apotheosis affected me much until Cataclysm launched.

Since I first set foot in Blackwing Descent on December 28th, in our first 10-man “exploratory” raid, call-outs have happened and we’ve been on Mumble and we’ve talked a great deal throughout encounters.

I’m not saying that’s a bad thing at all. I LOVE my guildies. I adore being on Mumble with them and mocking Majik or others. I… okay, I don’t enjoy being mocked in return, but that’s only fair. ;) I love kidding around, joking, laughing. I REALLY like that I can give instructions verbally instead of taking the time to type them. I type close to 90 words per minute and sometimes it’s just LONG to type stuff out.

I don’t like what it’s done to me as a player. I feel as though I’ve lost my edge in terms of using all the information available to me to make a good, fast decision. I think I still have that edge when it comes to reacting to stuff on my screen; I can stop healing my Gushing Wound target on Alysrazor, I can manage not to stand in the Immolation aura on the Spark of Rhyolith and, by golly, I can NAIL those tornadoes or throw a BOP on someone who’s about to die.

I still feel as though my play is lacking and although I have all this other stuff to take into consideration (raid leader stuff, etc), I’m not convinced that it’s not just pure laziness stemming from voice communication being available to me.

Take last night’s Choice raid as an example. As mentioned, it was Alysrazor and also as mentioned, I am awesome on that fight. So I don’t need to wait to hear “tornadoes coming” or “Gushing Wound, stop healing that tank!” or any of the other audio cues. By already knowing what to do and when, I can really just focus on my job, which is keeping my tank alive, even if he sometimes runs through fire. ;)

I think callouts on progression fights are what blunt me as a player. Once I know the fight, I can (and likely do) tune people out, regardless of what guild I’m playing with. Is that strange that I don’t want the callouts on the progression portion of the fight? And is it also weird that, even if I don’t want callouts, I can see the necessity in certain situations? I mean, we run out of first scorpion phase on Majordomo at 11 stacks of Adrenaline, so right after the 11th Scythe. I call out 9 and 10 and then “go!” and call out for cat “that’s 4, that’s 5, okay, go!” or whatever. (Of course, all bets are off for Searing Seeds scorpion phases. I AM SO BAD at calling to spread if I’m busy watching my Power Aura for Searing Seeds.)

Ultimately, the point of this post is not to preach that not using voice communications means you’re a great player. It’s not to say that using voice communications means you’re a bad player.

The point of this post is to say that I think voice communications blunt me as a player in new content. I think it makes things a lot easier in some ways and so I look for shortcuts like listening for calls instead of watching timers. I also have a great time on Mumble with Apotheosis and I enjoy Choice’s Vent, too, which is always a good thing. Raiding with 24 other people you hardly know and mostly can’t stand is fine if you’re not forced to talk to them or hear their mouth-breathing, but when we started using Vent in that other guild I was in? It was awful.

With Choice and, of course, with Apotheosis, I really do feel like I’m raiding with friends and players I mostly like and  respect. So I’ll take the slight blunting of my play for the chance to listen to Geng (of Choice) yell at kids to get off his car. I’ll take that hit on my own performance to listen to other people mock Majik (of Apotheosis) and try to get him killed.

So, having rambled about this for 1800+ words, I’m also going to set up my timers properly on Madrana to make sure they’re working and that I can see them and that they notify me appropriately for various things. Just because I CAN listen for callouts doesn’t mean I SHOULD and so I’m going to make an effort to watch my timers more frequently — which means putting them in an easier spot to see.