Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Me and 24 of My Best Friends

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that my guild, Unusual Suspects, had absorbed a second 10 man raiding group from one of the other guilds from our server. The new group is led by a Death Knight named Perplexity, so I call them Perp’s group. My group, well, I just call that my group, lol.

Both groups continued to concentrate on 10-man raiding, but we knew that having the new group would allow us to do the occasional 25 man raid.

I was very excited when I saw the 25 man Ulduar raid on the in game Calendar for Tuesday night. Before the raid, I finally told myself to stop over thinking everything and just bought the Shard of the Crystal Forest for 19 Emblems of Conquest. I’ll be swimming in those things soon enough (3.2).

We were a couple of people short but we were able to fill out the raid with people from my old guild, called Heroes Inc. So we had our 25 man raid ready to go. Ellevis, the Death Knight who runs my raid group, was handling the raid leader responsibilities. Some of the people from the Perp’s group had never raided with him. No one knew what to expect. No one knew how far we’d get.
To make sure we were fair to the guys from Heroes, we made loot just a /roll for your main spec, and one epic for the night. Our main goal was to give all 25 man people a shot at something from a boss. To be honest, I was just excited to be in a 25 man Ulduar. Sure, I wouldn’t have minded winning an item, but it wasn’t a big concern.

We start, of course, with Flame Leviathan. Much to my surprise, there were 5 Siege Tanks to drive. I guess I should have known there would be more vehicles in 25-man.
The fight through the Iron Dwarf Army feels different with all those Sieges, Choppers, and Demonlishers. It really felt like we were army on the assault.
Someone joked that we should take this force to Wintergrasp, to which someone else replied that we would still lose. (Wintergrasp is officially a Horde area on my server that they occasionally let us have.)

I was in my familiar position of driving a Siege. Yes, even on a vehicle fight, I'm a tank.
We didn’t leave any towers up, so we burned through the trash pretty quick. Next thing you know were facing down the Fire Truck. We didn’t launch anyone up onto Flame Leviathan. Instead we kept the Demo Gunners firmly in their seats and they blasted away at the pyrite hanging over the area. The Demos stacked pyrite on Flame Leviathan and he was melting pretty quickly. He never picked me to pursue so I just hung out on his ‘six’ and interrupted Flame Vents. I’m happy to say that Flame Vents never got up for more than one second and I wasn’t even the guy who interrupted it sometimes.

Badda boom, badda bing, dead Flame Leviathan.
No Titanguard. I’m sure Rhidach is not surprised. Even on 25-man this robot hates me. He’s never dropped the Tank bracers on 10-man in 11 tries and now he refuses me Titanguard. No big deal, I had a blast fighting him. I just wish he had picked me to pursue.
Now maybe I'm late to the party, but have you ever noticed the nod to Tank Spot when you kill Flame Leviathan? The Marmot is kind of the offical mascot fo Tank Spot.

Next up was Razorscale. I was tanking along with Perplexity (Death Knight) and Ellevis (Death Knight). The fight seemed pretty much the same from 10-man, only Razor hits much harder. Once we got her grounded I picked her up and BAM, dead Paladin. Perp grabbed her and I gotta a Battle Rez. I ran into to relieve him, and turned him right towards the raid. Doh! Then BAM I died again.

Ellevis and Perp were able to finish tanking her. I looked back at my combat log and saw I took a 41k melee hit.
I didn’t have 41k health. When did Razorscale start hitting that hard? I checked and sure enough I was in my Trash set (535 Defense). The only thing I can figure is that I got a crit but Recount reported it as a hit.

One of the healers was kind enough to apologize for letting me die. I corrected her (female toon, no idea if the actual player is a she), and let her know it was my fault.

With Flame Leviathan and Razor down, we decided to try our hand at XT-002. Ellevis was kind enough to put me on XT while he and Purp took care of the Assault Bots. Fully buffed, I was sitting at just shy of 42k health. XT was hitting me for 17k to 21k. I had about 1400 Block Value without the Libram of Obstruction up.
My healers did a fantastic job, and I only felt threatened one time where I used Divine Protection (Paladin’s equivalent to Shield Wall). Before you knew it, we were ‘bad, bad toys’. The first piece of Tanking loot dropped from XT, The Signet of the Earthshaker. I looked at my rings, Sand Worn Band and Signet of Winter. I really didn’t enjoy the prospect of trading Parry and Dodge for Block Value and useless Block Rating. I didn’t roll on it. I told Ellevis that I could use it, but I wasn’t going to make that my one epic for the night. One of the other Paladins in the raid was willing to make that his one epic, so it went to him. He’ll probably get more use out it than I would have.

Everyone was feeling really good. Morale was high and we started to wonder just how far we could get.
We set our sights on Ignis. This time Perplexity was on the Boss, and I was going to help Ellevis round up the Adds. I had never done that particular task before. In our 10-man group, Ellevis has me on Ignis. It took me a little while to figure it out. At first, I tried to have the Construct in the fire and myself just outside. I kept looking for a debuff to see how hot the Construct was. It actually appears as a buff. They don’t debuff until you pull them into the water. My Hammer of Justice stun wasn’t quite long enough to keep the Construct in and get fully cooked so I did a bit of kiting.

Our main problem that attempt was actually Slag Pot healing. The healers worked something out and we pulled again. I did a little better, but Ellevis picked up most of the Adds. That dude is really good Tank, let me tell you.

We downed Ignis that attempt and completed the first ‘wing’ of Ulduar25.We moved down to the Antechamber, and decided to try to AoE tank the first trash pull. That worked not so well. Sheeps were in order and soon enough we acquainted ourselves with Kologarn. Perp was tanking and I was stayed on Kologarn to relieve Perp if he had a bad avoidance streak and got the Crunch Armor debuff too high. We ended up trading Kologarn back and forth a couple of times. This was my first time team tanking with Perp, and I think it worked out pretty well.

I really hadn’t studied the loot tables past Flame Leviathan so I don’t know what didn’t drop. In a way I like it better that way. I’ll be surprised and happy when something I can use drops, but I will have to make a quick decision about what is and isn’t an upgrade.

After Kologarn made a bridge for us, we had a choice between Iron Council and Auryia. Ellevis decided on Iron Council.

I was Steelbreaker. Ellevis was on Stormcaller and Perp took Runemaster.

First attempt, I was too slow moving Steelbreaker out of a Rune of Power and we wiped. I acknowledged the mistake and apologized over vent.

We pulled again. I moved Steelbreaker faster this time but still got killed to a combination of melee plus Fusion Punch. Good gravy, that thing HURTS on 25-man.

We tried again, but I was killed by a Fusion Punch, plus melee again.

Ellevis decided to move me to Runemaster and Perplexity to Steelbreaker. As we gather back up to buff up again, I heard something over vent that nearly ruined the night.

Basically someone said “Paladin FAIL!”

It was like someone had flipped a switch inside me. Hate and fire started to rise up from my inner being. You are NOT going to blame this wipe on me being a Paladin. Oh, no sir!

But suddenly something I had read once in a good book started playing over and over in my head. I won’t say it was a voice, more like when a song starts randomly playing in your mind. “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” So I decided to heed that advice and listened. This person WASN’T talking about my tanking. One of our Holys had left Crusader Aura on. That was the “Paladin FAIL”!

The best part is that I never said anything, so I was able to laugh along with everyone else as the Holy Paladin changed his aura. No one knew (until I wrote this blog) how close I came to embarrassing myself in front of my new friends in Perp’s group.

We pulled and I started banging away at Rune Master. But we lost Perp to a Fusion Punch.

We would try twice more with Perplexity and even once or twice with Ellevis. We always lost the tank to a Fusion Punch.

I have to admit that part of me was glad it wasn’t just me. We couldn’t keep any tank up. But I was saddened because it would have been cool to get Iron Council down, regardless of who was tanking what.

I was really wishing for the buffs to Paladin tanks in 3.2. That first attempt might have been okay if I had had the 3.2 version of Ardent Defender.

It was getting late, so we had to call it. The night ended at Iron Council with 5 Bosses dead.

I had an absolute blast.
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