Grab your hoe

3/7H (5/7N) 4/10N

This week is farm week, having spent the last couple of weeks upping the number downed in both HM and BRF. We hit the wall at Ko’ragh a few weeks back as we were unprepared for the encounter and since then we’ve been high on BRF fumes and hitting heroic HM to end the evenings.

Some thoughts on the encounters:

Kargath H: Still a challenge for some less experienced guildies as they get tunnel vision on their rotations and forget to be standing in the right place for Bezerker Rush, this boss is so easy and dull compared to Gruul or H+F as opening encounters. Anyone else had the occasionally bug where he targets one player, then another as he starts the rush? And I had my obligatory DC during this encounter this week

Butcher H: Still a DPS race and a fun healing experience, and I like that this is a ‘stand still and execute’ fight. I still want to have a proper go at the deeps on this, but I’m happy with how we heal this now; we all know our jobs and basically pull it off with little hassle.

Twin Ogron H: This encounter still feels RNG happy at times, and waaaay too long for my liking for what is essentially a one phase fight. And seriously, what is it with visual effects not matching the effect size of AOE in this expansion!? The whole fight is just a procession of stand still, heal, move for charge, still get hit, move for that AOE, still get knocked back, fire EVERYWHERE, rinse, repeat.

Gruul: This fight is nice. Simple, requires attention and has a couple of phases that are different enough. I like it, though as above, there’s work to be done at moving out of shit (is it that hard?)

Beastmaster Darmac: This is another long ass fight. As above, moving out of spears seems to be beyond some people (including me for a portion of the evening apparently), and RNGeezus sometimes hates you as he jumps on a ranged player, then decides to get on his mount from there. Seemed easy to heal, just a mana watcher as the fight is quite long.

Flamebender Ka’graz: The fight we have completed in BRF with the most abilities, this seems like a really easy fight now hat we can do it – though the length means that sometimes a wipe happens 3mins before the actual deaths, since minor errors can compound. An’ damn, those weapons are irritating.

Hans and Franz: Easily my favourite fight we have completed so far. Easy really, though the stampers still catch people out and it’s hilarious watching people do it for the first time ūüôā

I’m starting to find the other stuff around raiding less interesting in Draenor right now, I have zero interest in the dungeon quests, I’m only running LFR for legendary tokens, and I honestly don’t feel the pressure on that right now. Most days I log in for 15mins to turn over the garrison on my characters and then leave it. Maybe I should start working on those cheevs again…

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Hear me now, believe me later… 4/7N 2/10N

Sunday was a good raid night, despite only having 9 geared guildies online.

We hit up Gruul and downed him after one wipe (which I put down as a free pass as it was the OT’s first week tanking BRF) and then spent a good time pumping up on Hans and Franz. Both times we had a PUG hunter with us who reminded me that there are decent PUG players who don’t make crude comments and curse. He might have been so polite because he won 2 items on rolls however…

Not going to lie, I love the Hans and Franz encounter. Complete with an excuse to do ridiculous SNL impersonations the arena is cool, the mechanics were fun and the fight had a nice learning curve to it.

We finished off the night with an abortive Highmaul Heroic attempt and then squished Kargath and Butcher on Normal to open up the rest of the bosses for Tuesday raid night. I got to deeps for the first time ever (yay) but since I got stuck managing stacks (boo) I didn’t hit the numbers I should have done (QQ).

Gruuling

We got Gruul down!

It took a second evening of work, but we got there. Funny how ‘last attempt of the evening’ makes people focus eh?

I like the encounter design so far in BRF, and having watched some guides I’m super looking forward to the rest of the bosses – Hans und Franz and Kromog in particular. I don’t know how long it will take us to get there, but I’m sure we will.

We decided to go back to Highmaul next week to get people more gear, which seems sensible when our Raid ranges from 662 at the top to 637 at the bottom (though not the bottom DPS – facepalm).

In other news, Blackrock LFR seems even less like the real thing than Hihmaul did – at least so far. I mean, Kargath was trivial on LFR and easy in normal, Gruul is fine in Normal, but trivial in LFR. I know that LFR exists just to see content, but when a 30 man raid pulls most of the wing at once, it felt weird to just AOE everything and heal through it. WEIRD.

Never mind.

More to come when we start our second raid night in Blackrock with a less caual aim.

Encounters

[full disclaimer: I did not raid pre SoO. This is mainly an attempt to make sense of peoples opinions and memories]

I get a lot of people tell me that raiding is easier now; that bosses are easier and that classes are easier to play. This feels odd in many ways and leaves me with at best questions, and at worst, a bad taste because that sometimes¬† feels like it detracts from what I’ve actually done.

But the thing is, I also read articles and watch videos of people who have been playing for a long while that say the opposite: Raiding isn’t easier – mechanics are more demanding, more varied and require more individual responsibility.

So here is how I see it right now:

Raiding hasn’t got easier; but where the difficulty lies has fundamentally changed

By explanation let’s examine tanking and threat:

The good old days Today
  • ¬†Tanking rotations are primarily concerned with generating threat
  • DPS and healers have to manage their output to not pull threat from the tank
  • Mechanics involving tank switching¬†revolve around managing threat.
  • Healing for the tank comes almost exclusively from healers and occasionally personal cooldowns
  • ¬†Tanking rotations are primarily concerned with personal mitigation and damage output
  • DPS and healers will never pull threat from a tank
  • Mechanics involving tank switching generally involve debuffs and personal mitigation
  • Healing for the tank comes from a mix of personal mitigation, cooldowns and external healing

If people disagree with that assessment I’m happy to retract, but that’s the difference I felt between what people were telling me about tanking when I was learning (from folks who tanked TBC and WoTLK) and what my experience ended up as.

So what does that mean for encounter design? I think it means that because ‘rotations’ are easier – and I think they are easier now in WoD than in MoP; less abilities and more obvious priorities – then the way to make encounters more challenging is to add boss abilities that require players to do more. I’ve heard several people talk about the lack of a ‘Patchwerk’ boss this expansion. Even butcher has abilities to manage and other things going on. There’s no simple gear check.

As our raid lead said last night; the curve starts much higher now, but doesn’t get as high at the end of the tier/expansion

And I guess that’s ok, but if people would stop telling me everything is way easier now that’d be nice. Because While I agree that more abilities makes thing harder at the start of a raid zone, is the end that much easier? Garrosh was a tough boss – were Kael’thas, or Vashj really that much harder?

That’s probably enough QQing for now. I might come back to this when I have more coherent thoughts.

Blackrock Foundry

No more Highmaul progress for now. BRF came out and in the interest of keeping the guild together for working on content we went to try to slap Gruul in the face.

Or at least impact on his windshield.

We took the trash nice and slow and then spent a good part of the evening working on Gruul – we are starting to get the abilities sorted, but it feels like we need a little more time working before we will get him. Definitely a step up from Kargath.

One guild member also streamed our evening, so if you want to see a collection of average players wipe repeatedly while having a good time go look at twitch.tv/jimbigo (NSFW language, mild fantasy violence, etc.)

Another post in the works about encounters and difficulty…

laters

3/7N

After a few weeks of progress, we managed to down Brackenspore on Normal last night. I’m super happy for 2 reasons:

1) Lootz for the raid, and progress – yay!

2) Many of our lower DPS players have practised hard and are now posting embarrassing figures.

That’s not to say all out woes over DPS are done, Brackenspore actually only requires moderate DPS and discipline with targetting, but for many players it was a huge step up from Kargath and Butcher.

In other news I got my Shaman to 100, having bought (I know, I know, but my time is worth more than ¬£40) her to lvl 90 11 days previously. I managed to get into an LFR (barely, ilvl 616) and pull about 13k, so I’m feeling about OK about doing that right now. I powered ger up so I can help out the Shaman in our guild who averages about 10k at ilvl 635 (and no, we aren’t telling anyone they can’t play. If we cut our group down to the 10 best we’d all be working on Impregnator N and Ko’ragh H right now, but that’s not going to happy. It’s just not what we are about)

I also hit up Heroic last week with our Pally Healer and the top Warrior DPS, and the PUG we joined beat up on Kargath and Butcher before falling to infighting on Tectus (standard right?)

I’m drafting a post about my UI right now, because I want to record the tweaks I make.

#3of7N

Still 2/7N

We hit highmaul again Tuesday night, having reset Kargath and Butcher. They were dispatched swiftly, with only the one wipe on each (including Kargath fixating on me and me not having to move as the fire pillar spawns in front of me… #likeaboss). Both these fights feel really easy right now, as I know what I need to do and the DPS requirements are… forgiving (even on Butcher).

Tectus is another matter. Man does that fight feel chaotic! And by chaotic I mean chaotic if people stare at their action bars and don’t notice they are being targeted until DBM shouts at them and they have already dragged the crystalline aoe into the ranged pack. Chaotic if people can’t DPS through the tectonic upheaval quickly enough to kill the bugger.¬†I’m left wondering how to progress when¬†5/11¬†DPS can’t break the¬†14k number on Butcher, let alone 10k when they have to move.

I have a plan for healing cooldowns and such to deal with the later phases, but there’s no way to test unless we can get there, and right now DPS is a barrier. We’ll see what happens next week.