Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A Third Night in Gruul's Lair

Welcome to Part Three of my ongoing series of becoming a brandy new Raid Leader in Gruul's Lair.

On the surface, there's not a whole lot to talk about. We came, we saw, we kicked his ass.

But I'm never one to leave a short story sitting there all alone, so allow me to elaborate.

On a separate note, please, continue to give me feedback on this ongoing series. I got a few comments and emails about the previous one, which I really appreciate and will try to incorporate.


To start with, I personally did more prework for this one than I did for the previous 2 raids.

The first thing I did was to write a few paragraphs on our guild website, summarizing what went well and what things we are trying to improve.

Next up, I changed the Guild Message of the Day, asking people to signup in advance via Group Calendar and also to go check out the website and read over the article.

During the week, I also randomly spit out messages in Guild chat, asking people to signup if they are interested in coming.

Finally, early on Sunday morning, about 12 hours before the raid, I made a spreadsheet to let me plan out the raid. It basically lets me enter each name who's signed up and their class and role. There's a nice summary of roles and classes up at the top. I also added in a field where I can then indicate if the person is actually invited or not. This allows me to have one summary early on before the raid where I can map out who is planning on attending, and another section that I use during actual invites to map out who is actually online and ready.

So, sunday morning, I recorded all the signups in the sheet. This gave me a nice view of what classes and roles we were light or heavy on.

Starting Up

60 minutes before the raid, I got my own personal consumables and stuff ready and flew on up to Blade's Edge. It was extra complicated because I was bringing a raw jewel to be cut and mats for Exceptional Stats on my new Merciless Chest. But I got my personal sht squared away and then flew on over.

45 minutes before the raid, I went over my spreadsheet again, whispering a few people who were logged in, but hadn't signed up. Those few had indeed signed up via Group Calendar, but it was showing them as "pending", and I could not see their requests.

As it would turn out, we had 22 people sign up. 5 tanks (which is 1 too many for our 4 tank strategy), 6 healers (which is 1 too few for our 7 healer strategy) and 11 DPS (with no single class either over nor under represented).

30 minutes before the raid, I started invites. Of the 22 signups, 19 were online and ready.

20 minutes before the raid, I began seeking out substitute players. We were missing 6 players, with 3 signup/no-shows who we were hoping would show up.

At the scheduled start time, we were at 23 players, missing only 2 DPS. Along the way, we had a Protection Paladin respec to Holy, which as a RL, I hugely appreciate his flexibility and willingness to fill a different role to meet the team's needs. This is in part due to the flexibility of his class, but more importantly, his spirit as a team player. If you're reading this, thank you, its that kind of attitude that makes the team a success.

It took another 12 minutes to locate the last players and fill out the roster.

Pep Talk

As has become standard, I left the dungeon on Heroic mode during all the forming stages.

Once the roster was full, I gave a pep talk. I covered damage meters (we dont use them so dont post them or ask to have them posted. wws is available after the run), loot policy, and our goal.

The goal was to kill HKM and Gruul in an hour and a half. We would be focusing more on speed than in previous weeks.

I also thanked the team for signing up and showing up on time, this is by far the most efficient startup we've had.

It is amusing to imagine what the raiders think of my little 2 minute speech. Part of me thinks they roll their eyes "ugh, amava's at it again", and part of me thinks they're like "whatever". And the part of me that likes the frosted side of the Mini Wheats thinks that they're paying attention, and keeping the little tidbits in the back of their mind during the raid.

At 15 minutes past start time, I changed from Heroic to Normal. First pull went off at 20 minutes past.


Trash. Nobody seems to listen to my message "group up close to Lair Brutes, if you're too far away, they charge like Attumen", so we consistently lost 2 players minimum on each trash pull that included Lair Brutes. Wasted time that I'd like to eliminate in future attempts.

Along the way, we did accidentally pull some patrols, and the team reacted perfectly, with tanks picking up targets, me throwing icons to help sort out the chaos, and everybody generally staying calm and doing their job.

HKM. Our first one-shot of Maulgar ever. Pretty quick planning session. I did have to review the whole fight because there were 4 people who never saw the encounter before, including one of the tanks.

Gruul. 3 shots and dead. First attempt was shaky, but important learning for the new folks. Second attempt was pretty good, but unlucky positioning after some of the tosses left us with way too much shatter damage.

Third try. Put raid icons on healers. When tossed in the air, healers would only look at spacing themselves against other healers. DPS players were then to find a safe spot and not kill the healers. Worked like a charm.

As usual, I guided the team through a wipe analysis each time we died. There remained a positive atmosphere, and some people gave good input as to what went wrong and creatively coming up with ideas. As RL, I had to intervene after a certain amount of discussion and lay out which of the ideas we'd be implementing.


Before the run, I reviewed the looting policy.

When we looted HKM, I think people did an outstanding job of maintaining radio silence (and text silence) other than what was required for the loot distribution process. Things went very smoothly and efficiently, with little confusion. This was good.

When we looted Gruul, there was much more peanut gallery conversation. Voice remained clear, which was a positive thing. Text chat was full of some semi-constructive stuff like "oh that's good for ret pally" and also some needless contributions like "doh" after rolling a low number.

The text clutter really made things confusing. When we have 7 people rolling for an item, if nobody adds any extra lines of text, I can just fit all 7 rolls into a single text chat window. This makes things easy. With 8 other lines of text mixed in there, its really tough.

Believe it or not, there's pressure on your Loot Masters and Officers during looting. They want to get it right, and never deny somebody their fair chance at gear. Please respect it with silence. Everybody knows you want to say gratz to people, everybody knows you are unhappy you rolled a 7.

Future Planning

The portals to Shatt City were opened at 10:37, which was 1 hour and 17 minutes after our first pull. I'm thrilled with that. A combination of getting started nearly on time, and maintaining a resonable pace paid off. If we eliminate the 2 wipes on Gruul, this is easily completed in under an hour, which is my goal for next week.

The Officers shared with the team some ideas we have for changing up the raid list, hoping to open up 2 nights for 25-person content.

Generally, people are excited, with a few left concerned at what seems to be less opportunity in Kara for those who still want some gear out of there.

We've got some ideas, but that'll wait for another post.


Two main things made the night a success:
1) Signups and most people being reliably online on time.
2) Increasing familiarity with the dungeon.

We started earlier, and spent only minimal time explaining the fights.

As usual, the whole Officer corps did an excellent job working together and ensuring the raid was well cared for. The raiders did a great job being on time, and then performing their jobs in the raid. Everybody kept a positive attitude, and reacted well to learning from wipes.

Looking forward, I still see startup time as needing improvement, even if only 5 minutes. Additionally, we had to fill a few slots from outside the guild. We are recruiting to try to bring players in to fill those positions.

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