Friday, September 4, 2009

Heoric Humbling

I logged in Tuesday night and found a pleasant surprise; I had been awarded the Challenger title. While we were getting ready to raid Trial of the Crusader, I flew up to the Tournament and did a couple of Daily Quests. With the Champion Seals from those quests, I completed a major goal and purchased the Argent Squire Reins. Now my little squire has his own little pony and can give me bank, mail, and vendor access. I like it.

Tuesday was the day that Trial of the Crusader opened fully. We blasted through the first four bosses fairly quickly, but not flawlessly. After defeating the Twin Val’kyr we were treated to a visit from his Deadness, Lord Arthas. Apparently, he’s been having a grand old time watching the Argent Crusade build their building right over the Nerubian Empire, and now he’s going to throw you to the wolves so to speak. The floor breaks an you fall. Arthas was kind enough to put a pool of water under you to break your fall.

Once you swim out of the water, you walk a little ways before coming face to…mandible with Anub’arak. Yes, the same Anub’arak you killed in the Azjol-Nerub 5 man dungeon. I guess Azjol-Nerub was ‘merely a setback’?

As an aside, if you don’t get the ‘merely a setback’ joke, it’s a reference to Kael’thas’ speech in Magister’s Terrace. You killed him in Tempest Keep (25 man raid), yet here he is back again in the 5 man. When you pull him, he tells you that Tempest Keep was ‘merely a setback’.

Like most of the other fights on Normal, Anub’arak posed little difficulty for Team Ellevis. We understood the very basics of the encounter. I know some people are getting tired of hearing about how our team one shots the new boss every week. I don’t tell you that to brag, I’m just telling you what happened.

If it’ll make you feel better, imagine we had an epic struggle with Anub’arak and it came down to me (Prot Paladin), Donk (Mage), and Blackhaus (Disc Priest). Anub is sub 5% and I blow everything, Divine Protection, Trinkets, Healthpot, and even get an AD proc. But it’s too much and I die. Black throws what DoTs he can before Anub one shots him. Then just before he gets to Donk, Donk goes into an Iceblock and just before it wears off, Anub dies from a combination of Black’s Shadow Word Pain and the last tick of Scorch!

That would make a better story wouldn’t it?

How ever it happened, Anub’arak was dead, and Trial of the Crusader (10 man) was defeated. GuildOx says we are third guild on our server to complete it, and the first Alliance Guild. This is a testament to the outstanding job that Ellevis is doing leading the raid group and the job that each and every member of our team is doing in their respective roles.

To my Raid Team: You guys rock! It’s an honor to be part of your Tanking team.

Well, Normal Mode is defeated, bring on Heroic. We switched it over and got the skull. Here we go.

It was a completely humbling experience from the first pull. Tank damage was intense. The first Phase of Northrend Beast is of course Gormok the Impaler. His Impale DoT ticks for a lot more and we had to be really careful to switch at 2 stacks.

Hand of Protection is really nice for Gormok, as you can clear stacks from your fellow tank. You could clear your own stacks with Divine Shield, but usually I was locked out of Divine Shield by Forbearance triggered from using Divine Protection.

Gormok gets a damage buff for each Snobold out. It was usually around 60% by the time we got through Phase 1. The Snobolds and Fires were really rough and if one of our healers got a Snobold, we could easily lose a tank. A 3 stack with 60% extra damage ticks for about 10k. Impale (the attack, not the DoT) can hit upwards of 25k. All my plate started to feel like paper.

After several unsuccessful attempts, we began to wonder if we needed to farm more gear from Normal ToC to give us a better shot at Heroic. But Thursday night, we pressed our luck again.

You get a little counter at the top of the screen letting you know how many attempts you have remaining.Our team communicates really well post wipe. People try to identify problems, and correct them as best they can. No one seems to take this personally, or get defensive. We discovered part of our problem was DPS not switching fast enough to the Snobold that was out, and people not spreading out enough letting the fire damage really add up.

Heroic had another little surprise for us. The Twin Jormunger Worms show up on a timer, not when Gormok dies. So usually they come rolling through the doors with Gormok sub 10% and either myself or both Ellevis and I both still bleeding from Gormok’s Impale DoT.

It was slow but we continued to make progress. After one of our wipes, we had a Snobold bug out. He stayed there the whole night and we started calling him our good luck charm.

We were getting through Phase 1 better and working on our transitions to Phase 2. Everything the worms do hits for more damage and you less time to get someone out of Paralytic Posion. As the Dreadscale tank, that usually falls to me. Eventually we got Acidmaw down, and then started working on Dreadscale. Dreadscale had just gotten into ‘execute range’ when Icehowl shows up. He’s on a timer, too.

Ellevis picked up Icehowl, but we messed up the charge. He’ll one shot even tanks when he’s enraged. Finally we got to Icehowl and successfully managed the Charge.

It was a long hard battle, but Northrend Beasts was defeated on Heroic.We took a moment to compose ourselves. Lord Jaraxxus was up next. Again, everything seemed to hit for more damage. If people don’t get healed through the DoT Jaraxxus puts on them they explode. It doesn’t kill them but does major damage to all around them.

Our first surprise came when the Portal spawned to bring out the ‘chickadee’ with all the arms, a Sister of Pain. I noticed the Portal had its own lifebar. Then I noticed there were two Sisters, then three. SPLAT!

Hmm, maybe we need to DPS down the portal. If you switch quick, you’ll only get one Sister out.
Same deal with the Infernals. The Volcano has to be DPSed down. We made several solid attempts but didn’t quite get Jaraxxus down. I think our best attempt was about 50%.

It was a really good couple of nights. The team did a great job and we had a lot of fun in the process. We’ve come to the conclusion that we may need to buy some of the iLevel 232 gear to give us some more breathing room in Heroic. Our healers are really feeling stressed. Tank damage is intense and raid damage is everywhere. Our healers do a fantastic job, but I’m sure at times, they must feel like Atlas trying to keep our raid on their broad shoulders.
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