Friday, March 27, 2009

Immortal Cocoons

Ok, so yesterday's reference to "butterflies" was a phrase indicating a feeling of anxiety or nervous excitement, and not the airborne phase of a certain insect's lifecycle.

But, to switch it around, if the Butterfly is what we'll morph into when we ding the achievement, then we must still be snug inside our cocoons, still getting ready to spread those wings and fly. I think we're pupas right now or something. Whether the biologically correct term or not, I just like saying the word.

Ain't I poetic? And mature?

How'd it go?

Well, the early parts of the evening went according to plan. Quiet, soothing environment. The calm before the storm.

When I logged in, I started looking over my alchemist to see if there's some other elixirs I'd like to use than my standard Mighty Thoughts / Agi combo.

Brewed up some of the +350 health ones (fortitude?) and some Guru's Elixirs. +20 to all stats is actually pretty cool, and since it buffs agi and also raw stamina which then gets converted to attack power via Survival talents, it is not entirely discarding all DPS enhancement value.

Just like in my good old ice hockey days when, before a game, I'd visualize laying out a incoming winger at the blue line, I mentally pictured the little things l'll be doing to stay alive in Naxx.

We got the team together. You could tell there was an electricity in the air, although, thankfully, nobody was harping on and on about our goal for the night.

Everybody take a deep breath, because we're starting trash pulls.


Start the night with our good friend Patchwerk. Normally a testing ground for balls-to-the-wall DPS, HPS, and TPS. But not tonight. Tonight, we're here for one thing only. Ranged DPS wait 10 seconds or so before opening up. Melee DPS hang tight until the RL gives the instruction.

Spent way less attention to DPS than usual, and I refused to check the Damage Meters for the entire night. Despite trying to go so deliberately slowly, we still killed him in less than 3 minutes, which is comical.

25 players enter, 25 players leave.


Ok everybody, you know its not polite to fart near your friends, so run to the back before you let loose.

Everything's going fine, gassy folks are positioning right, tanks are picking up slimes, DPS is truckin.

And then the dreaded.....Oh, SHT, [name-of-healer] is D/C'ing.

Ok, don't panic. Another healer calmly calls out that he will heal the DC through any damage. We're focused, we're on target.

And then, maybe 5 seconds later, and the second dread....Oh, FCK, [name-of-dc-healer] just got tagged. She's about to fart in the middle of the room.

But we're a bunch of cool customers, so we all shuffle around the expanding cloud of nasty that's occupying the middle of the room.

Things continue fine for another minute or so.

The exact sequence of what happened next is a bit blurry to me, and I'm not looking over the combat log until later, so this is simply from memory of what I observed during the event.

*) A melee DPS D/C'd. DAMN YOU, INTERNETZ! Whether he then was insta-gibbed by something and died, or if it was over a brief time due to standing in a cloud that follows the kited boss, I'm unsure.

*) A healer got flagged, made the correct move to run away from the huddled masses, but made the incorrect move and ran straight into existing clouds and died. The player says that her screen was not showing any clouds at all, perhaps a visual setting?

So, about 15 minutes into the much anticipated Immortal attempt, phoot, no mas.

Then what?

Despite the three losses, we killed Grob, no surprise there.

Move on to Gluth, still interested in practicing Immortal, and we nailed him perfectly, no deaths, outstanding kiting (IM-very-biased-O) by the hunters and mages.

And then Thaddius and the dreaded Ledge Boss. This is one of those moments that just make you cringe. On a personal level, its been months since I've failed the leap, but it still gets me nervous every single time. On a team level, I havent really tracked it, but it does seem that we lose somebody almost every week.

Nailed it. All 25 across safe and sound.

And then for the real fun. We're trying for the Shocking thing. Simple strat, basically same as we always do. Just run in very wide arcs around the boss as you switch sides.

As the fight wore on, the tension builds more and more and more. Who's going to fkc it up? More importantly, will it be me? Push those thoughts out of your head, focus on your positioning, the boss cast bar, and your own debuff. Run WIDE to the outside when you switch.

The lower the health of the boss, the further you move to the edge of your seat.

And then he dies, and your screen fills up with Shocking achievements, which was pretty damn cool. One shot, everybody survived, no crossed polarity.

From there, since Immortal wasn't an option any more, we went and 20-manned some of the wings, culminating in finishing off the 20-man achievement for many of the players. Topping the highlight reel was 20-man Safety Dance.

What worked?

Although we didn't ding Immortal, I am very happy with the evening. Here's some of the keys that I think build the foundation for when we will ultimately get it done:

1) Communication - Two of the Officers co-led the raid, and the two of them did an excellent job of using calm voices and giving very clear instructions for things that we'd be doing differently versus our normal routine.

2) Pace - There was absolutely no rush. Example: Patchwerk. Its annoying how he paces around. If you're not ready to engage him at the right time, he might walk away and you wait 5 minutes. Or you might rogue distract him or have a MD hunter risk the frogger boss to pull Patch as he walks away. Not tonight. We were very deliberate about all our actions.

3) Control - Although only a series of trash pulls, the combination of large kicking/stomping mobs, roaming patrols, and hidden shades between Gluth and Thaddius often give us issue. The raid showed excellent control and discipline as we smoothly handled this area, allowing tanks proper time for positioning, choosing when to engage, focus firing mobs. Its the small things that make a difference and this segment of the evening was just right.

4) Confidence - Yes, we didn't get Immortal, but we did go in and nail out several achievements, all one shots. Thaddius Shocking and zero deaths was a big win. 20-man Safety Dance builds confidence.

I truly hope the guild wants to keep trying. We showed what our raid is capable of when we focus. We are disciplined. We are focused. We have effective leaders, and members who can follow instructions and deliver results. Immortal is DEFINITELY within our grasp.

What needs to change?

While building on the existing strengths, we definitely need to learn from mistakes and not repeat them. None of these is intended to zing, or single out, the player(s) involved. I'm proud of the effort each raider put in. However, we do need to take action if Immortal is going to happen:

1) Visual Settings - The player who died on Grobbulus by running into the damage. You absolutely must get your visual settings configured properly. We can go to a Naxx-10 before next week's immortal attempt, and just sit in Grobbulus's room, fiddling with your UI until its right.

2) Disconnects - We had a few disconnects. Yes, it does happen, and often times it is out of the control of the player. Sht happens, especially when it comes to computer networking. However, some things might be in your control. For instance, I know if I raid from the house with DSL, incoming calls usually disconnect me, and the Cable Modem house does not have this risk. I will never attempt an Immortal run from the DSL house. Each player might have similar things under their control that can improve our chances.

3) Practice on Each Boss - I do appreciate that we changed modes once Immortal was gone and got a few other achievements. It was nice, it was fun, and many raiders (me included) needed them for the meta-achievement. However, if Immortal is ever to be a reality, we need to visit each boss with every raider thinking only about team survival. If we consistently stop practicing after the actual Achievement is gone, then we will have a tougher time on the later bosses, the first time the sun is shining and we succeed at the early ones.

The Future

Not sure what the future has in store for our Immortal attempts, or how many more weeks we have to shoot for it. Probably 4 more?

The thing I like about Immortal is that it really is simply encouraging something we should be doing anyway. We all want to be alive at the end of the fight, however, things like DPS e-peen, youtube videos playing on a computer next to your WoW monitor, and so on, all get in the way.

The more I think about it, the more I want Blizz to implement a similar achievement in each dungeon, but with a twist. I want it to give some tangible reward each and every time you ding it, not just the first time when you get a title or whatever. I think the game is better when everybody is trying to focus together on survival for every fight during every raid.


Mattack said...

Yeah, when i'm playing i keep my video effects on the lowest setting. Than when I go into naxx i have to remember to move it up to "fair" setting otherwise important things don't come up on the screen like the poison clouds.

Tholar said...

Just a tip, that if you have aspect of the pack on for the Thaddius ledge jump, you can just run off the edge and make it every time.

Amava said...

I'm a big fan of Aspect of the Cheetah for the ledge boss on Thaddius. I've never used Aspect of the Pack because I'm not sure my party-mates would be thrown off by the change in speed.

Here's my routine for the Ledge Boss:

1) DPS mini-boss, which ever side I'm assigned to.

2) When mini-boss is around 10% health, pull pet off boss and have her waiting by my side.

3) When mini-boss is around 3-5%, begin casting Dismiss Pet.

4) Mini-boss dies.

5) Everybody else begins jumping.

6) Dismiss Pet completes casting.

7) Cast Aspect of the Cheetah

8) Look out below, because I'm comin' through!

9) Upon safe landing, recall pet.

10) Maneuver to the rendezvous point with the rest of the team.

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