As you all noticed, I did not manage to get a blog post up yesterday. For some reason it seems to often be Thursday that I massively fail at getting one out the door. Around here it was fairly busy, and I was furiously working on something that caused me to not even pop my head out long enough to eat lunch. So needless to say thinking of anything to write about was quickly replaced with, must survive day so I can get some food.
Stubborn is an Art form
Over the last few weeks we have managed to accumulate some new blood for the raid, both in the form of players who are ready to step up to the plate and perform, and those who will need some gearing help. This has been like a breath of fresh air for us all, and provided some much needed balance. Duranub continues the slogan used by one of our former incarnations, the Late Night Raiders… a durable pack of nubs. However, I think we should probably change this to somehow indicate just how stubborn we are.
Blizzard may preach the motto of take the player not the class, but we have as a whole proven the truism and faults of that statement. In general, duranub has HORRIBLE class balance. We’ve had too many protection warrior tanks, too many healing priests, a truly silly number of mages, and in the past more than half of our dps comprised of melee. We have struggled through a complete and total lack of balance, on all grouping fronts, making us work much harder to progress than we really need to. Combine this with the fact that we only have 5 hours of raid time per week to devote to our 25 mans, it gives us a progression speed that at times feels like cold molasses.
The Shifting Sands
This past week we had a few things shift into place. Firstly we lost one of our protection warriors to a guild with some easier progression. I’ve always had mixed feelings regarding leaving a raid, considering I have turned down numerous raid spots with “easymode” farmed gear to continue to tank for my friends. In the case of our warrior, they very much signed up to tank. However due to the specifics of Ulduar, and various sundry connection issues were relegated to a swing tank role, spending most of their time dpsing. This lead to an unhappy raid life, and as a result they moved on to tank another tanking position.
While this would have normally been a crippling blow to a raid, an odd concordance of events saw one of our past raiders become available on their already 10/25 Naxx geared Tankadin. So while we lost one of our seasoned players, we brought another one back into the fold and added some much needed balance to the tanking camp. Having already tanked my 10 man on Wednesday and our 25 man on Thursday, I have to say Ornquist is doing an amazing job assimilating into an already complex raid.
We don’t exactly have a good track record with past Tankadins. Our first was an adept tank, but turned out to be very mercenary and sold his skills to the highest bidder, along with some BoE loot on the Auction House. Our second was an impetuous child, and left nothing but drama in his wake, eventually taking his toys and going home when we didn’t allow him to switch mains for the 4th time. So all those past experiences behind us, I am just praying Orn is “the one”.
Adding it all up
When you take the tanking balance and throw in that we just added more healing diversity, in the form of a new tree druid, resto shaman, and some prospects for paladins, we wind up all the sudden with a better class balance than we have ever had in Wrath. The change is balance is very noticeable. All the sudden all of the fights seem more manageable. Tanking and Healing both have become much more stable, and in spite of new players having to learn/re-learn the fights we had an amazing week.
Wednesday night my 10 man group had without a doubt our most successful single night ever. We had a bit of trouble locking down healing, but when players finally became available we got underway about 45 minutes after our normal start time. We pushed through the content, and even with some re-education on the part of new healers and a new tank we made an extremely fast path through the zone. At the end of the night we had spent roughly 2 hours in the zone and cleared Flame Leviathan, Razorscale, XT-002 Deconstructor, Assembly of Iron, Kologarn, Auriaya.
This sets us up to give Hodir some serious work on Monday, and hopefully some tries on Freya as well. More than anything I think it was the fresh players giving us a better mix of classes that allowed us to start moving a at fast clip once more. Blizzard might preach, take the player not the class, but in practice it means… take the class or you are going to fight your ass off and suffer retarded repair bills and retarded difficulty.
Cat Scratch Fever
Tuesday we were able too clear a good deal of content in our 25 man raid. We had a few issues, firstly the hardship imposed by a tank leaving with short notice meant we had to push one of our deathknights who has been in a primary dps role since ulduar, into tanking once more. This combined with an influx of new players who had either not seen the fights, or not done them the way we do, caused several encounters to be far more difficult than they should have been. However we still managed to clear Flame Leviathan, Razorscale, XT-002 Deconstructor, Kologarn which left the path to Auriaya wide open for Thursday.
Last night instead of doing a farmed encounter as a warm-up, we dove straight into attempts on the catwoman. We had a good deal of early bobbles, but these were mostly caused by the fact that we were completely changing the way the fight would be tanked with the addition of a new, stronger, AOE tank. After several wipes we settled on the pull strategy of me tanking the titan like normal, our newly acquired tankadin handling 3 of the adds, while our deathknight pulled a single cat to the side in order to reduce the total damage the pack of 3 would be dealing to our tankadin.
Once we locked down on this, immediately we could get through the pull with little difficulty. I believe we managed to get her down to 50% or so on our first try with this strategy. The second piece of the puzzle that clicked into place, was not so politely at times, reminding the players to clump up on top of the tankadin at all times. This allowed us to avoid the shadow dot placed by the feral defenders and mitigated a good deal of the pounces. All the sudden the fight became more healable and before I knew it we were staring down the barrel of 20% life left on the titan.
It was somewhere about here that bad things started happening. For some reason, on many new boss kills for Duranub, we have what I call a race to the bottom. About 5-6% we began a slow wipe of the raid, we lost healers, the main tank (me), and slowly each of the two off tanks. Finally a deft use of evasion bought us the time that the remaining dps needed to push her down all the way. It was far from pretty, but by god I will take it. I think next week will go much smoother, as from 50%-20% people really seemed to speed up. As a whole we were extremely low on dps, considering some of our heaviest hitters were out of town. So once you put them back in the mix I think we will have a farmable fight.
I managed to pick up the chest piece which I thought was extremely awesome. I am not sure what has happened but for some reason over the last few weeks the gear has just finally began dropping. Granted we have not even seen the much coveted Titanguard, somehow without me really noticing it, I have upgraded almost all my slots to ulduar gear. In the last few weeks I’ve managed to pick up… Titanstone Pendant – Saronite Plated Legguards – Shieldwall of the Breaker – Greaves of the Stonewarder. All of which has greatly buffed my survival and it combined with the fact that our healing has regulated a bit, make me feel far less squishy.
Stealth Nerf: Repairs?
Okay it has been a truly great week for myself and Duranub, but there has been one hidden benefit of it all. I’ve complained about the insane amount my repair bills have been. Prior to this week they had been roughly 20g per death, which by any count was insane. In fact I have had people writing in to argue with me, that formulaically that would be impossible… however regardless of what math and logic tell us, they were in fact 20 freakin gold per death. Tuesday evening a miracle happened.
I’ve gotten in the habit of repairing every time I run back into the instance after a wipe, this helps me not think about the hundreds of gold the night will be costing me. After our very first wipe of the night, I looked down and noticed something strange. My repair bill, was only 9g, and this trend has continued. I seem to have had my repair insanity nerfed… which is an awesome thing.
Granted I am still hurting for cash, after months of 20g per death being the norm, but maybe just maybe I can begin to make a little bit of leeway. After asking around, this seems to have only really effected plate wearers, as the only player that really noticed a difference was one of my tankadin friends. If anyone has found reference to this phenomena I would love to see it in writing, but as of this posting I have not found any mention of a repair bill nerf.