But before I get to that I want to address a fellow blogger and if he will allow me to call him so a friend, Andrew formerly Karthis of "of Teeth and Claws". He has decided to quit playing wow and shifting the focus of his blog to other things. In his goodbye post (you can read it here) he noted his reasons for quitting. One think that seriously struck me was:
I simply cannot get excited about those encounters because they present nothing new. In many cases it's just "kill faster", "heal harder", and "screw up less". Unique encounters suck me in.... rehashed encounters push me away.Having done hodir hard mode I can tell you, there is a lot of strategy beyond simply "kill it faster" and the rest of the hard modes in there do bring back some of that feeling from TBC. "Screw up less" ... there is no less, back in TBC a single screw up caused a wipe, even if it was something small by the person with the least important job in the raid, which is the kind of difficulty you wanted anyway andrew is it not? Flame Levi, XT, IC, Mimiron, hell the only hard mode that is not a completely new and unique encounter on hard mode is hodir (and to some extent thorim).
Instead of truly difficult raid content we have relatively easy fights that can be tough only if you strive for the achievements.I will agree with you that the achievements are pointless, I hated the glory of the raider achievements as it really did nothing to make the fights unique. However, hard modes are not achievements, you just happen to get an achievement when you complete a hard mode for the very first time. I love all the ulduar hard modes, and with that on to addressing blizzard.
Since the day my guild killed muru for the first time I have never been that happy about wow, until this week. Almost as happy as killing the royal pain in the ass known as Archimonde for the first time or pre-FA nerf Mother Sharaz (having a top 50 world-wide kill of Archimonde and a top 50 US kill of Ilidan). Those types of challenges are the reason I play wow. Ulduar is so far living up to them. While not nearly as difficult in the sense of time invested into it (muru archimonde sharaz and ilidan took weeks of learning) a lot of those hard encounters were nothing more than having a perfect raid composition and the countless hours of wipes missing 1-2 people from that raid comp but going anyway even though you know you only have 2 resto shaman for Eredar Twins, having to play my alt priest on Felmyst because we did not have enough mass dispells, or not enough pally blessings. Raid stacking is without a doubt something every hardcore guild will tell you we are happy to live without.
Now, why am I happy. This week my guild cleared 3 elder Freya, the Saronite Animus, and One light in the Darkness on Yogg. This leaves us with only 4 tower Flame Levi and Firefighter to complete the Ulduar 10 man meta.
I never thought I could have this much fun raiding a 10 man. As far as blizzards goals, it is tuned perfectly for people wearing full ulduar 10 man gear (or in our case the comparable 25 man naxx, maly, and 2d sarth gear). The first week my group got hard mode Iron Council and Thorim (the second day of the patch with little to no 25 man ulduar gear). The second week we smashed 2 minute hodir, 2 elder freya, and 2 tower Flame Levi. The third week we finished 3 towers, and hard mode XT. Due to pushing hard modes in the 25 man we did an easy week in 10man the 4th week just repeating everything we had already killed.
That brings us to this week. We breezed through 3 tower flame levi, hard XT, hard IC, disarmed and crazy cat lady (only because they are for the meta), then hard hodir and finishing with hard thorim. We did all this in just under 3 hours. Granted by now we all have a fair share of 25 man gear, but nothing was stuff we had not done before either. The following day we went to 3 elder Freya. We had been worried about her because she was kicking our asses in 25. But after only two attempts she was dead. We may or may not have tried hard mimiron, i seem to not be able to recall several painful hours of my life during that time. That is possibly the hardest encounter in the game right now on both 10 and 25, and I can see why. Finally we decided to move on and kill it and come back to hard Vezax the next day. After a few stupid wipes, we had two attempts in a row where a different healer died around 80% both attempts. We ended up wiping to tank deaths with the animus at low percents both times because the 2 remaining healers simply did not have the mana to make it through. We then had an attempt where we killed the animus but 2 ranged died, resulting in an insta-gib crash killing all the melee. Next attempt a clutch battle rez by yours truly on a healer after killing the Animus gave that healer just enough mana to keep the tank alive after the two living healers were oom. I love the smell of saronite.... CHECK
One light in the darkness, the moment all of us have been dreading for the past 2 weeks. We knew a while ago that the sanity beams only come from freya, but also that the phase 3 adds cannot die without the assistance of thorim. The two week debate on which to send down has ended very switftly, the response: HOW THE HELL do you kill yogg without being able to refresh sanity? First attempt we did not even need it, very first guardian in phase 1 a dps pulls agro and 2 of them end up getting blown up next to sara at the same time (part my fault as well) and the warrior died instantly because he had the damage increase taken from sara. Well that out of the way we get to phase 2 next attempt, finally getting to test our new strat for the melee inside, well it worked. We had 35+ seconds left to dps the brain each of the 3 brain phases with lich king being our 3rd portal, pushed 55-30 and forced phase 3 with 8 seconds left. I have been a part of the inside group every time I have killed him on my druid and I still contend we have one of the best inside groups in the world, my hats off to all of them in both 10 and 25. We ended the fight with our main tank about to hearth about before being MCed, but he made it and no one else was even close to going insane. Second attempt ever at 1 watcher yogg: US 12th.
We then went on an alt run and fully cleared it on alts (all alts except for 1 main healer since we had no heroism without her) in 7 hours (in all 25 man naxx gear) including IC, hodir, and thorim hard modes (with my warrior picking up the soon to be buffed tanking mace from hodir in exchange for my offtanks stam trinket off yogg which finally dropped). We 2 healed hodir with 30 seconds left. That is the only encounter that I feel is tuned incorectly, for 10 man a 2 minute 30 second timer would be much more appropriate. The three completed on alts are the only 3 I feel alts would be capable of doing, but by god we would be close on most of them. I have accepted that 10 man is tuned for people in 10 man gear, despite being so much easier than 25 man they still require a tremendous amount of concentration and if we had not been wiping for hours on freya and general in 25, I do not think we would have had such an easy time with them in 10.
So blizzard, as far as the 10 man goes, YOU ACHIEVED WHAT YOU SET OUT TO DO. And for that I will end by saying good work and thank you.