Last night was the much anticipated first Ulduar raid for Duranub Raiding Company. Most other groups have been banging against the zone for two weeks, but we tend to take a more measured approach at things. Our timetable was in part to account for the fact that playing on Argent Dawn after a major patch means you will be dealing with raid crippling lag and instance instability, which is especially true for a raid that starts late in the evening like we do. The other component was to have a week to say goodbye to the tier 7.5 content and let everyone have one last shot at those items they never could get before.
Maybe this was a bad idea as last week ushered in some of the absolute worst performances our team has exhibited. However I did end up with far fewer abyss crystals than previous weeks, and we had a good number of points exchanging hands as loot gear awarded. Personally I was able to pick up a few items that had eluded me up to this point: Sabatons of Endurance and Rune of Repulsion. Both items I believe well help with my personal survivability moving forward, which is pretty great being the main tank and all.
The Confused Start
After explaining the fight, sorting out vehicle assignments… and re-explaining the fight we started roughly 40 minutes behind schedule. For some raids this wouldn’t be a huge ordeal, but for Duranub when you are talking about a pool of only 2 1/2 hours, 40 minutes lost means quite a lot. We start clearing trash and folks start to get their feel for each of the vehicles. It goes for the most part pretty smoothly, until we got to the courtyard for the Leviathan fight.
Before I can get the warning of not to pull the last two constructs we have already done it. I start giving frantic instructions over ventrilo, and telling players to move up to the first “brown line” on the floor. As predicted a few players were not paying attention and got locked out. We fail miserably on this attempt across the board. Nothing was done correctly, however this was to be expected. Leviathan is not one of those fights that you can really explain, you have to experience it.
Adding insult to injury, one of the locked out players draws aggro and Leviathan twitches through the gate. This in turn resets the encounter, which would have been awesome had everyone moved out of range. However we fail at this as well and he simply resets only to aggro again. I call the wipe and we start running back, trying to tweak and fine tune things over officer chat and open ventrilo as we go.
Gears sliding into place
The next try things start to happen. The cycles lay down a good kiting circle of tar and keep it up. The siege engines and demolishers are better about kiting onto the tar. The catapult team still for the most part fails, but we at least get a few players up top and get one overcharge phase. The end result has us getting him down to 25%. I know that if we tighten up a few more things, we have this fight.
Some last minute tweaks go out over ventrilo and we try again. For the first time we get the entire catapult team up top, and get an overcharge early into the fight. The kiting is much better as a whole, and the motorcycles start doing a decent job of picking up players as they get knocked off. The interrupts on flame jets are also happening pretty reliably. Players are starting to communicate freely on ventrilo, calling out timers and aggro shifts. All the gears engage and the fight just clicks. While there was the frantic burndown that always seems to occur on a first kill. We managed to pull across the finish line without much issue.
I am very proud of the team. In all honestly, I was more than a bit on edge about last night. Our performances the week before had been extremely bad, however we all rose to the occasion and pulled out some excellent performances on progression content.
We moved on to Razorscale and came close to the transition on one of our attempts. That fight is going to take a good deal of organizing and fine tuning. However I was pretty pumped that we did not get completely blown out of the water, as I have heard so many raids do. Without a doubt I feel we are truly ready to start making a dent in Ulduar. Thursday we should tweak our strategy, get some solid attempts in, and with any luck a Razorscale death.
Raid Content: I missed you
It feels so much that Ulduar is what Naxxramas should have been. This is real actual raid content, and for the first time since the release of Wrath I felt actually challenged. Naxxramas had a good number of stupidity checks, but if your players paid attention it was not unlikely that you could clear almost the entire thing on your first time in. It was very much the Upper Blackrock Spire of Northrend.
Ulduar however in every aspect of the word feels epic. God how I have missed this style of content. I freely admit that it will take us months to clear the zone, and that fact excites me. Each boss will be hard fought, and as a result will love every minute of it. Sure, it is going to force our raid to step it’s game up. Simply proving that we have a cerebellum will not cut it anymore. But in the end, we will be a far better group for it.
Ulduar is the infusion that I needed to keep this game fresh and enjoyable. Sure, I will be paying a hefty repair bill at the end of every night, but at least it will feel like I earned it. In Naxxramas as the main tank, the only time I frequently died was when someone else screwed up (thaddius I hate you). We never wiped because the fight was tough, or we did not understand the mechanics… we wiped because someone was stupid.