Tuesday, May 25, 2010

It's a Bittersweet Symphony, This ICC

Well, we caved last night. We went full buff.  We'd been sticking to our policy of only using the buff on farm content.  It resulted in a lot of head bashing and struggles.  With summer and Cataclysm looming, we decided the time was right to just go for it already.  As I've mentioned in the past, our choice not to use the buff was not an ego thing; we weren't trying to be "badass".  We just figured we'd stretch the content out and really challenge ourselves as a group with the hardest there is while we could.  It really was that simple.

Sure, there was a bit of pride when we downed things without the buff.  It was a bit of a validation that we could do it too.  In the end, though, we just don't have enough time.  Raiding for only two hours, once a week is a pretty tight schedule to get anything accomplished.  I'm pretty proud we did as well as we did. 

After several weeks spent in learning mode without a new boss down (Really only what, 8 hours of learning?  Maybe one week for more frequent raiders), we decided to go with the buff.  It brought up an interesting phenomenon for me.  I've raided more frequently in the past (usually putting in 8 to 12 hours a week in TBC, depending on scheduling), and we've been stuck in "learning" modes before.  The thing that struck me is that I think the frustration of being "stuck" increases with respect to real world time and not game time.  That is to say, it felt the same to me whether I'd spent three 8 hour weeks or three 2 hour weeks on the same bosses.  There might have been more repetition in the longer way, but I believe I was equally frustrated. 

Maybe I just had different expectations from each group, but I just found it interesting that it seems to me that a month with no progress is a month with no progress, I don't care how often you're raiding.  Anyone else experienced that?  I hardly preformed a scientific study here.

In any case, the frustration and timing coincided to coerce us into going with full buffage.  We warmed up on the two plague wing abominations pretty easily.  Then, we two-shotted Dreamwalker and then handful-shotted (I think 5 or 6) the Blood Princes.  We're still saving Putricide for later.  That represents the three bosses we were stuck on.  Two became basically cake-walks.  I mean, we don't have them on "farm" yet, but using the buff definitely pushed us over the hump.  I would say we were pretty sloppy overall, but again we haven't really learned these fights yet. 

The question is, will success smooth out the learning curve?  I'm not sure.  I hope so.  We're going to try to get to the Lich King as quickly as we can and then maybe go back and complete ICC without the buff, just to prove to ourselves that we can.  A lot depends on how timing works out with Cataclysm and that wicked summer boss. 

I have to admit, after facebashing for about a month, it was sort of bittersweet to get these bosses down.  On one hand, it almost felt too easy.  On the other, it was a relief.  Does it bother any of you guys when you're using the buff that it's just "not the same", or is it simply "all about the kill?" 

Inquiring minds want to know :-)


  1. For my guild it's about the kill. We've been using the buff in part because we're not awesome, good but not awesome, so the buff helps. And as a guild we just want to take down Arthas asap. After that I have no idea, but in my corner or Azeroth it's just about the kill, no matter how we get there (exploiting excepted, of course).

  2. Best Comment made last night by our lovely Ret paladin after Valithria went to 100% & demolished the room's mobs:

    "That it?"

    Once that occured, half of our raid just casually walked out the door. Now, the Council was a different story because that fight is really crazy with balls flying everywhere, Cats & dogs in the same room, mages & Warlocks loving each other! MADNESS.

    To Quote Fulguralis: "My DoT's are up! We have him!"

    We squeeled once they all went down. Again though, it didn't feel the same as when Rotface hit the ground for the first time.

    We are at 15% right now with the buff. Would it have been different if we would have used the buff all along? Would the slower incriments made it feel differently than 0% to 15% in one night?

    Could we have smoked the Lichking at 5%?

    We will never know...

    <3 Fuu

  3. @Gronthe - I would think your point of view is the more popular one (and how I should try and view things). Thanks for the answer!

  4. My alt runs with a guild of players who are hardcore players but social raiders. One night a week, 2-3 hours. They're not BAD players, but without the buff they would never have seen past first wing and rotface/festergut.

    Whether we use the buff by increments and see progression or whether we wait for the pre-expansion 30% nerf (oh my, and the buff will go up to 30%, what a coincidence!) to all bosses makes us end up in the same spot.

  5. LoreHound has this great analysis of WotLK raiding, which suggests to me that by ignoring the raid buff, you're almost guaranteeing that you will run into walls, rather than progress to harder fights in a measured way. And make no mistake, some of the heroic modes are significantly harder.

    I think what the buff does is make sure that - almost regardless of skill, gear or time - guilds that want to progress through the content can. Period. Any guild can kill the Lich King now, at 20%, or in a month or two at 30%, provided they're not taking 25 amoebae to the raid. I don't think that's a bad thing. Heroic Arthas kills are always going to be damn hard, and very rare.

    I'm not surprised that the dragging feeling is the same with only 2h a week, compared to 12-16h, or whatever. It doesn't matter where you're stuck, if you're just stuck. With the buff, though, I don't think we've gone more than 2 weeks halted at one encounter.

    I'll be interested to hear from you how you think "not really learn[ing]" the fights by taking the buff affects you when it comes to heroic modes. Most of the fights build on the existing mechanics and add more shit-that-kills-you. If you haven't got the normal-mode mechanics down, you could be in trouble. Keep us posted.

    There does come a point where the buff starts to trivialize encounters - I ran a 10-man on my best-geared alt last night (with the 20% buff), and we downed Arthas in under 4 hours with a pug bear. Granted, everyone knew the fights (except the bear -- who was good), but killing Festergut before the first Pungent Blight was a bit silly. A lot of bosses felt like they were just melting.

    Valithria's victory is a bit anticlimactic, I agree. Where are the green dragon go-go boys?

  6. Those charts are totally badass. I think it shows Blizz did a good job tailoring ICC to the populace. I would think the linear look is what they're shooting for/what is best.

    I think one of things we wanted to avoid was being one of those "any guilds" that can kill the LK now as you say. I mean, to an extent that's true and I know you didn't mean it in a belittling manner... when it caps at 30%, the very goal of it is to make the content accessible.

    I think in our case, it would have been nice to adjust the "nerf". Like how do we stack up? Could we do the fight with 5%? How about 10%? We'll never know and a lot of that is just a function of not having the time to spend raiding seriously. I don't think it has anything to do with skill. To a certain extent, you need to learn the stuff by seeing it and practicing it. When you don't practice as much as someone else, you're probably not going to have as much success. That's just how it works, right?

    In any case, I hope that we'll get the time to face some heroic modes so I can talk about the comparison. We'll see how long it takes us to finish up with the buff.

    Another idea I am mulling over is after the point you made about learning the mechanics. To some extent, you using the buff first can help you learn it, have some success, and prepare you to face the next challenge. It would almost be nice to be able to flip it back on after several "learning attempts". Then again, if you've learned it, the boss should be dead and you have to wait until next week anyways... *Shrug* :-).

    I guess my overall feeling is that we're headed in the right direction with this buff business, but that it's still not a "perfect" system. Does a perfect system even exist? Probably not, but we all have over-active imaginations in the first place right?

  7. Sorry - no slight was intended, I'm just interested in the buff from a game design / raid experience perspective. I figured the buff would have had you hitting smaller walls, later (most likely on some of the hardmodes), if you'd gone with it from the beginning.

    For us (we got H-Sindragosa last week, and H-PP the week before on 25-man, we're about 3rd on Medivh), it hasn't trivialized any encounter we weren't already considering on farm. It has made some fights a little more forgiving, though (notably H-Deathwhisper), and puts us in a position where we should be making Heroic Lich King attempts this week. I expect we'll be doing that for several weeks, since that encounter looks challenging indeed. It's also made it slightly easier to bring new less-well-geared recruits in for more of the weekly roster.

    Our rate of progress with the buff means that we'll likely "run out of content" at, or around, when the Ruby Sanctum is released. I'm using quotes, because I expect that heroic Arthas kills are never going to be easy, even at 85: there are mechanics that will just wipe you, period. So we'll still be doing it, and probably getting our frost drakes, too, but then we raid a little too much to be healthy. (We're also going back to get Yogg+0, which will be fun.) As a fairly serious progression guild, that seems about right to me: cleaning up achievements and drakes and titles before Cataclysm, perhaps at a bit of a loose end. The price we pay for being all hardcore and stuffs.

    I expect guilds that don't spend 16 hours a week on official 25-man raiding, run multiple 10-mans, host a weekly alt 25-man pug and have a Late Night Crew that raids 9 hours a week after midnight (I'm not quite crazy enough to be in the LNC, too), will still be working on some hardmodes, come Cataclysm, but have experienced steady progress all the way, but be Kingslayers nonetheless.

    There's a connection here between a sense of enjoyment, and your experience of stalling with only two hours a week as essentially the same as stalling with 12 or 16 hours a week: our experience of progress is relative to real world time and is a strong contributor to this-is-fun-ness for raiders. The raid buff is effectively turning walls into hurdles. Guilds with less time, or less skilled players, or lacking the gear or ideal raid composition will experience slower, but still steady progress. That's key, IMO, and why on balance it feels like a good thing.

    On the learning thing, raiding 2 hours, once a week is really very little. For my money, learning a really tough encounter is like learning any challenging new skill - a dance, how to windsurf, whatever - you have to sleep on it, but not leave too long before you go back. Are you rolling your IDs over at all? And do you pug 25-mans, too? That must be a hella focused 2 hour raid.

    - Rali

    P.S. Go Demonology for the Princes. Immo/Corr on the healthy one, proc Decimation on a 1-hp prince, and Soul Fire the shit out of the empowered one. Boom. =)

  8. Yeah, np. I knew what you were aiming for.

    For our raid, we were resetting maybe once every two weeks. Now we're pretty much rolling the ID through three weeks. Really, we just didn't spend a lot of time with actual learning. Once we got something, it was pretty much on farm. Though we're getting to the content now that is too hard for that to hold.

    Great tip about the Demo on Princes! I never thought of that but that would be totally OP. I'm definitely going to try it out next time we face them.