Curve Beating

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aotc_xavius

I can in all honesty say I did not really expect to be placing this clipping of a screenshot on my blog.  When we cleared Normal Emerald Nightmare… I was pleased as hell.  When we turned around and cleared Normal Trial of Valor…  I was ecstatic.  When we started work on Heroic Emerald Nightmare…  I figured that it would give us a challenge right up until the point that Nighthold Normal was released and that we would ultimately switch gears.  I mean Nighthold is supposedly slotted for January 17th… which is only 26 days away depending on how you count today.  We however started making some significant progress in Heroic Emerald Nightmare… and in truth I didn’t really dare to hope we would manage to get through it yet.  We have several friends who are raiding mythics in a much more serious capacity than our guild raid.  The awesome thing is… we are apparently the sort of raid that they still enjoy coming along on because of the interaction between all of the members.  So in part I chocked our Heroic victories up to the number of “ringer” dps we ended up bringing in as a result.  Last night we were extremely short on numbers and missing most of this overpowered dps that we had so often been bringing.  I had resigned myself to hopefully repeating our previous progress, and just enjoying the process.

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Now is the point where I tell you… that I can not possibly be prouder of my guild.  Instead of struggling with the absence of some mythic ringers…  we instead continued to perform at an admirable level as we not only defeated…  but one shot several of the bosses we have never attempted.  We had some early struggles as we essentially got back in the swing of the raid…  for me not being able to make the last two Friday nights I felt more than a little rusty.  However by the time we reached “Spiderbirb” we were trucking along nicely and managed the first new one shot of the evening.  Similarly we seemingly rolled over Ilgynoth… or at least pulled out a victory doing the fight in a single burn phase.  From there we worked on Cenarius and once again managed to pull out a victory in a single attempt, which lead us to only having Xavius to work on.  This was sitting at 9 pm my time… and I thought to myself that we were in a good position to get a bunch of attempts in… giving us at least 30 minutes before the official end of the raid.  I also thought that with it being the holidays… we might be able to extend a bit to get the kill if needed.  It turns out we didn’t need all of that time on attempts, because we had a very close first shot and managed to pull out the victory on attempt two giving us still about fifteen minutes to spare before our official ending time.  It was a really great night, and I am amped about our prospects going into Nighthold.  We will for the first time this expansion be starting new content on exactly the week it comes out, which is a bit of a point of pride for me.  I love feeling like we can be casual, but still extremely successful.

By the time the raid was over I realized that I had not actually spent any time with the Luna that evening.  So I took her into my office to chill out and get some attention while I opted to play some Destiny.  At this point I am 399 light… and have limited my list of needs down to replacing my 394 Ghost Shell, 399 boots, and 399 Heavy Weapon.  I had a moment of extreme excitement at one point in the evening when I got an exotic heavy engram…  which decoded at 399 instead of the 400 I have been getting from the SRL event.  Before long I was joined by my friend Grace and we hung out doing some racing.  She was working on one of the quest steps where you had to get ten races where you place in the top three… and I maybe just maybe played a little aggressively with the other drivers.  There was at least one time when I happened to ram into the person who was closing in on her then third place slot.  Who knew you could tank with a speeder bike?  In truth I had seen a few clans doing this over my time racing… where they were essentially clearing the way for their friend to come in and snatch the first place position so I considered it completely fair game.  That said she managed to pull out a few come from behind second place victories like the one I decided to screenshot here.  The bonus of the entire night was that in both cases we improved our light levels… and simply hanging out and chatting made the whole racing thing go significantly faster.

I have honestly had some extremely good luck during the SRL with crucible weapon drops.  Last night was apparently no different as I managed to pick up a really nice version of the NL Shadow 701X.  Firstly it has triple tap which is a stat I love for boss encounters… or anything else I am pretty certain to land three precision shots in rapid succession.  To crank up the stability is Hand-laid stock… which ultimately reduces the range but I can live with that at 47.  Finally hidden hand helps with triple tap in making it slightly easier to get those precision shots…  so all in all the weapon has some really nice synergy.  The only negative is this is a scout rifle… and I don’t really tend to use a lot of scout rifles.  This lives in the Mida Multi-Tool family, and actually has a higher rate of fire…  which makes it feel extremely spammy.  Now if I could have replaced Hidden Hand with Full Auto… this would have been just about my favorite scout rifle.  In any case this is definitely something worth holding onto and other than my Hand of Judgement from Challenge of Elders… I didn’t really have that many legendary scout rifles that I enjoyed using.  In any case that still gives me a good roll for Eyasluna, and god rolls for Hopscotch Pilgrim and potentially NL Shadow 701X coming from SRL so far.

Rainbow Tentacles

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This morning is a getting to a bit of a late start because reasons.  Firstly I am off for Veterans day, and I want to take a brief moment to thank those who fought to protect our country.  Both of my grandfathers fought in World War II, my wife’s step-dad fought as part of the Chosin Few in Korea, and various sundry other family members have been in the military during peace and war time.  If you see anyone out and about, take a moment to thank them for their service.  The little things like that, feel all the more important during these last few days because of the sequence of events that has happened from essentially Tuesday onwards.  As for me… its been a weird series of days.  Firstly I just couldn’t put myself in the mindset of being able to write a blog post, so instead you got an intermission.  I genuinely expected to pick up Thursday morning and begin blogging as normal once again.  However fate seemed to conspire against me because in the middle of the crushing depression that I was going through Tuesday…  my blog disappeared off the face of the internet.  It seems my web host had some sort of catastrophic hardware failure, and that since I had yet to migrate to newer harder…  partially my own fault…  the site went down until it could get moved completely.  The positive is that I seem to have lost nothing in the process other than I am sure readers who probably thought I was going dark… given the post that I had left that morning.  It feels odd to have taken a somewhat forced break… and then be back just for Friday before taking the weekend off.

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As far as my own mental state… I have to say raiding with the guild on Wednesday helped it immensely.  For some reason it has become what seems like a new tradition to paint me with the rainbow generator before battles.  Here we are waiting on the Xavius fight to begin… and I am glowing with really strange rainbow tentacles as I tend to think of them.  I always feel like I am straight out of whimsyshire.  On a more serious note though… I could not be more proud of my guild and the raid attached to it.  The position I have assumed in the world is vastly different, because I am not leading the guild… and to some extent that still feels odd.  Kylana assumed the reins after Rylacus went into Final Fantasy XIV… and I have to say that while Ry and I were essentially the same sort of leader…  Kylana is way better than I have ever been at the day to day administrata.  That is really the place where he shines, and doing things like making sure everyone gets guild rank promotions on time… without having to be pestered about it a dozen times.  As for me…  I pretty much live in this position of guild mascot.  Folks still ask me to do responsible adult style things, but mostly I try to defer to the judgement of Ky.  I am still very much the chief recruiter and tour guide, but it feels okay to not be the king.

As for raiding…  there are certain fights where I am taking a much bigger role at least in communicating the mechanics.  I’ve started barking orders on Iggy and it seems to go more smoothly when I let folks know what they should be fighting and when… and roughly how much time we have left to burn.  As far as Emerald Nightmare in general… other than us tanks completely screwing up Ursoc…  we had probably the smoothest night we have ever had and made a really quick work of the entire instance.  We had enough time to put in about thirty minutes of attempts on Heroic Nythendra…  which is way rougher than the original.  I remember rolling into Emerald Nightmare for the first time and feeling amazing when we oneshot her…  only to feel frustration again when we struggled with SpiderBirb.  Ultimately more than anything I feel happy we have made progress.  It feels like we started as a disconnected group of folks that sometimes ran dungeons together… and have exited a highly functional team.  I mean I had worked in the past a few times with Art, when I had to fill in tanking during our Warlords raid… but he is a super dependaeble tanking partner.  Of course I also love tanking beside Ashgar who fills in when Art has not been able to make it.

As far as other matters go… I am trying my best to focus on the positive things in life for awhile.  This is not me burying my head in the sand, but me trying to return to a sense of normality for my own mental health.  I am just as confused and frustrated as anyone by the recent turn of events, but I also know that there is very little that is directly in my realm of control.  So I am going to focus on the things I do control, and try my best to get happy again.  For those of you who are reading this… thanks so much for sticking by me throughout the years.  You all mean so much to me.

Dream Cleansed

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Last night was madness… but in a mostly good way.  Firstly it started on a bizarre note because I had not been reading the raid slack during the evening, and had not quite grasped that it was up to me to pull things together.  I was busying myself with trying to get shit ready for the raid, and was fishing up some mackerel to make the high end versatility food.  During this time folks kept asking me if I was running the show that night, and each time I answered “Sure if Ky doesn’t show up”, never fully grasping that in fact that was what was happening.  I remembered Ky saying something about not being there, but for whatever reason I had that linked in my head with the “people attending blizzcon” list, so that when he said he was not in fact at BlizzCon I just sorta deleted that tidbit of information from my brain.  As a result what ended up happening was me realizing five minutes before the start time of the raid that I probably should have sent out invites fifteen minutes before hand.  There was a last minute flurry of activity, getting people invited and summoned and this also caused me to feel like I really needed to pull faster than normal.  Apologies to the healer team for putting up with my shit.

In truth a huge thank you to the entire raid for dealing with my shit.  It has been years since I have attempted to lead anything larger than a five player group.  Even then I am not entirely certain I am completely qualified to be responsible for the lives of others.  The truth is I was a little concerned that we were down both Zea and Kylana who traditionally are locked in an eternal struggle for first and second place on the dps meters.  However in the past week it seems like that quite literally everyone has improved their gear a bit, and the result felt like we possibly cleared trash faster than we have ever done.  Similarly a lot of the boss fights felt really solid, namely Il’gynoth that felt like our smoothest kill yet with no last minute panic or the feeling of it being an extended wipe race to the finish line.  The only negative of the night was that we struggled a bit on Spiderbirb, but I think most of that was simply bad luck.  It was about then that our flasks were wearing off so we took a break and came back refocused, and wrecked it on the next pull.

The real highlight of the night however is that we finally downed Xavius.  Honestly the timing of this could not have been more perfect, because after we had made a few attempts and were regrouping we saw that Zea popped into game.  So we ninja invited him… and he opted to bring a friend of his along as well.  Then when we went out to summon that friend…  Kylana popped online, who we also ninja invited.  So when we managed to get the kill we had our entire raid team, which makes it feel all the more awesome as a result.  Sure I realize this is “only normal” but screw it I am happy as hell and I will fite you if you poop on this moment!  The fight felt like madness from a tanking perspective, but it is amazing how much confidence comes from having downed and encounter the first time.  I know without doubt that we will come back next week and wreck him all the harder.  At some point I am certain we will start dipping our toes into some of the heroic versions of these fights as well.  We essentially have one more Cenarius kill from being able to skip directly to Xavius, so at a minimum we can start working on heroic while still clearing the final boss.  It was a good night.

 

Two More Fall

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Last night was a pretty great night.  For the last several weeks since Emerald Nightmare released, Wednesday nights have been raid night.  At this very moment we are just raiding one night a week, and at first that probably held us back a little.  However given the last two weeks I think overall gearing was a bigger issue.  Last week we went from only being able to take down Nythendra to adding Elerethe Renferal, Ursoc, and the Dragons of Nightmare to the list.  Though admittedly both the Ursoc and Dragons kill felt like sheer dumb luck and bursty dps.  This week however we largely added to the mix what felt like repeatable versions of those kills.  Myself and Art the other tank finally sorted out something resembling a workable taunt rotation on Ursoc, and the fight went from being insanely spikey…. to pretty damned easy.  Similarly with Dragons of Nightmare we just straight up did the fight like we knew what was happening this time… and it went down in a single attempt.  Elerethe would have been a one shot were it not for both of us tanks getting knocked off the platform.  That was not my proudest moment.

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However I am in fact super proud that we managed to get things together for Il’gynoth and added our very first kill this week.  Overall it felt like our dps increased between the two weeks, and with it a better sense of what needed to die when.  Instead of leaving the Horror up for quite a while we had nice gaps to burn it in… and while we cut it a little close for comfort at around the 10 seconds until wipe mark, it was still a victory.  From there we decided to take a stab at Cenarius and actually extended past our normal run time because we made decent progress on the fight.  It still feels like there are a lot of levers we could and should tweak to make sure that fight is more repeatable, however we got the kill and hopefully will begin work on Xavius next week.  I realize this is “just normal” as the chorus of the more serious raiders might say… but screw it I am happy with our progress.  I feel like we are even probably going to start mixing in some heroics before too much longer.  Especially with the release of Karazhan on the 25th and it adding some additional gearing options for folks.  I am hoping to get a team going there pretty quickly, because I am more excited about that place than pretty much any content in any MMO.  I loved the original Karazhan and good or bad, ran it quite literally every Sunday afternoon for what felt like two years to help gear folks and their alts, only to later be replaced by Zul’Aman runs.  I think more than anything… most of us are simply going to be happy that before long we can complete the balance of power quest step and move on to the next batch of mythics.