***This post is an extension of my post on the main page, my "novel, as people call it.***
Even though it doesn't feature the characteristics of a novel. Read a dictionary, you illiterate fucks .
I'll preface this long post by once again thanking the people i raid with. I have long said that if <WWA> ever breaks up or disbands, i'll be done raiding, and probably playing WoW in general, so it's safe to say i have a lot riding on the success of this guild. Had anyone, 3 years ago as we struggled for US top 200 kills in ulduar, told me that i would be raiding with the group of skilled players i am raiding with now, i would have absolutely not believed them. But 3 years and a great many tiers later, we are sitting at US 12th 25man (that's US 14th overall, and world 44th) somehow. I mean this really is as much a victory for me as it is for every one of you. I have always said a guild is only as good as it's members. There is only so much i can do as GM, only so much officers can do, but ultimately we succeed (or fail, as has been the case at times) as a result of the raiders. At times during this last tier i was more surprised that i was able to find 29 other people who could put up with my ridiculous borderline neurotic desire to push for ranking, than i was at how well people actually played at times. So thanks, guys. We finished another tier, and the guild which i have invested so much time and effort into (as have many of you) is alive and thriving. Great job.
This expansion has been an interesting one. There have been very mixed opinions within the end-game raiding community as to how it was both in terms of quality and difficulty. For me, personally, i have had some of the most fun i have ever had both as a raider and a guild master. There have been a fair share of fights that were simply not fun, but easy (Chimearon), ridiculously unfun and painful (Spine) and fights that were genuinely well tuned and difficult (Ragnaros, Ascendant Council) throughout most tiers. If i were to pick one of the three tiers to be my favorite, it'd most definitely be Dragonsoul.
Dragonsoul featured a bunch of fights with unique and fun new mechanics. I honestly feel as if Yor'Sahj is among one of the better fights this expansion. It kind of reminds me of old Mimiron hardmode in that it combines interesting new mechanics (The deep corruption debuff) with some older mechanics, and ultimately plays out brilliantly. Perhaps the biggest success on blizzard's part, with regards to Yor'Sahj, is that they were able to incorperate a random element in the fight that actually fucking works. Typically randomness in fights ends up being either tedious, or bang-your-head-against-it-until-rng-favors-you. This was neither.
Aside from yor'shaj, i felt zanozz was a pretty well tuned fight, with a few interesting new mechanics. I will always have a soft spot for zanozz as that was our highest ranked kill ever (US 7th, world 15th), but bias aside it was a lot of fun to learn, and does sort of test healers in their ability to make judgement calls with healing rather than blanketing the raid in HoTs and shit. I guess a bit of this gets lost in all the gear we have now, but the first kill was a lot of fun, and it felt well tuned for a second boss in an instance.
Hagara was a solid fight, although the way we, and nearly everyone else, killed it on hardmode, where we stood in the middle and healed through it, takes away from the fun of running in a circle. Ultraxion was just the patchwerk of this tier (every tier needs one) and therefore was neither new, nor innovative, but the healing buffs at least make it sort of fun (at least i assume they do when you're not stuck with green).
Perhaps the biggest failure of the entire tier, even expansion, was spine. For the millionth time, i will reiterate: Bosses that feel more like trash pulls are not fun. Garr was not fun. Lady Deathwhisper was not fun. Gunship in ICC was not fun. Shade of Akama was not fun. Every expansion, nearly every tier has had these, they just are not fun. Spine ends up being just a hideous amalgamation (el oh el, see what i did there? Thanks folks, i'm here all day) of shitty mechanics. 23 second DPS windows on the spines was awful, and to not think that people would stack arcane mages for that was simply short sighted on blizzard's part. An easy fix would simply being giving you 46 second windows and doubling tendon HP. Or something. Anything. The absorb mechanic is shitty and not challenging in the least. It's just tedious. The dispel mechanic is utterly pointless. The blood/amalgamation system is something new, but in practice it plays out VERY poorly. It's a clunky mechanic. The barrel roll was just pointless. It seems as if blizzard was just so excited to have you fight deathwing in an interesting place that they totally forgot they had to design an actual encounter. It makes you wonder what exactly blizzard's internal testing team does, other than sit around and masturbate to their own assumed brilliance. I wouldn't really call anything about spine particularly challenging or engaging in terms of mechanics. There is nothing in that fight that really gauges player skill, either. There is a learning curve, but the learning curve essentially consists of going against just about everything you learned about raiding from day 1. Perhaps the only thing i can say to the benefit of the fight is that the timing you need for it, for every aspect of it, is really precise. The problem with that is that while there is a learning curve to the timing aspect, learning how to type shit, instead of learning how to deal with complex and engaging mechanics, is not fun. When hardcore raiders say that want a hard fight, they want another Rag 2.0, not this shitfest.
Madness of Deathwing really was, in my opinion, an excellent fight. As echeo said during our progression on it, it's reminiscent of the old TBC encounters where things were very much about coordination within the raid group. Perhaps the best part of madness it that it places responsibility on all raid roles, including, for once, dps. My one major gripe is that it was a bit too easy. Spending hundreds of pulls on spine, only to kill madness in 30 pulls (we actually wiped at 1% about 5 pulls prior to the kill, that probably could have been a kill) and on the second time we ever got the the head phase, is a little disappointing. That being said, madness did achieve blizzard's goal in that it was a fun fight. I really enjoyed that fight. I loved holy-novaing on top of regenerative bloods and corrupting parasites and seeing "Spellweaving (1,000,000)" pop up on my MSBT. It is also great, from a lore standpoint, to see some of the big characters reappear. It's not like halion which was just kind of stuffed in there for no apparent reason.
Outside of individual encounters, perhaps one of my biggest issues with this tier is the terrible, terrible disparity between 10 and 25man. This was completely and totally blizzard's greatest failures. This has been an ever-present issue from t11 and through this tier. In tier 11 blizzard was way off, either making 10man fights literally impossible without glitching them (think maloriak) or a total joke as compared to their 25man counterparts (think Al'Akir). And it got worse. After tier 11, it seems as if blizzard just said "Fuck it," and gave up on balancing them. Actually, it was more like a Bill O'Reilly "Fuck it, We'll do it live!" as they started tweaking HP pools and mechanics after they released thier horribly balanced instance.
Before i continue, it is important to note that unlike a lot of people who will argue the opposite of me, i have experience in both 10 and 25 at the times at which it was relevant content. I essentially raided the two parallel to one another on my priest and my paladin alt. I healed both.
In firelands literally every fight was significantly easier in 10man that 25 with the exception of beth'talic. Probably the only reason beth was harder on 10 was that there were sometimes problems with having enough taunts to actually bring down the spinners. Fights like baleroc and domo were laughable, because the continuing trend in 10man is that there is no such thing as a dps checks. Throughout blizzard REFUSES to balance 10 and 25man dps requirements, enrage timers, etc. Blizzard tried to bandaid this problem after the fact with an HP nerf to baleroc and domo, but it still did not patch the disparity. The crystal mechanic on baleroc is simply easier with 10 people, that's honestly all there is to it. There is really no reason to balance it. The fact that dps requirements are never equal becomes increasingly evident when you consider that fact that in 25 you generally have to drop healers to hit dps checks, whereas in 10man you never do. Consider the first heroic rag 25. It was 3 healed. Heroic rag 10 was 2 healed. This is certainly not in correct proportion. Heroic Baleroc was 4healed versus the 10man which was 2 healed. Again, not in proportion. With heroic rag, there is no content. Heroic ragnaros 10man is a total and complete joke as compared to 25man. Many of the complicated mechanics in 25man simply do not exist. The confusion of having 2 meteors up is virtually non-existant in 10man as it is so easy to get only 1. The phase 3 dps check on heroic rag does not exist in 10man. The pain of coordinating sons is not present as nearly every class can 2shot a son. Tanks wearing dps trinkets and healers dpsing between heals really trivializes what little dps requirement there is. We won't even mention geyser on 10man.
This trend did not stop in Firelands, unfortunately. There is a fundamental flaw in instance design when in 10man the easiest fight is the 5th fight in, simply because the premise of the fight is that it's a dps check and dps checks do not exist in 10man. I'll spare readers a fight-by-fight analysis, but i would like to point out two particular fights that i found hilarious on 10man. First will be ultraxion, the boss to which my previous few sentences were alluding. A few weeks ago we got what was then world 6th fastest ultraxion kill, at something like 5:45. That same week our alts, none of whom have a legendary, none of whom where particularly well geared snagged a kill (in 2 pulls, mind you) in 5:30something. Our FIRST 25man kill we 6:02, and we had 3 mages with a legendary, a priest with a legendary, and a moonkin with a legendary. People are 1healing ultraxion 10 and killing it before timeloop even goes out. The only challenging part of ultraxion as a healer is the last 30 seconds or so, a phase that 10manners will never see. Go figure.
Yor'sahj 10 was quite an advanture. After doing a good 15 or so pulls with various 2-tank comps (because on 25man you absolutely need 2 tanks), we tried 1 tank 3 healing and instantly killed it. This is because on 10man, bosses don't do any damage to tanks. This was one of the large issues with Al'akir 10 versus 25. AA 10 meleed tanks for about 30k, where as 25man meleed tanks for almost 80k. When you really can only have 1 healer on the tank in either difficulty (maybe 2), there is no way that is balanced. It's almost as if blizzard doesn't internally test things in 25man. In summation, when you zone into a 10man instance, and want to do a hardmode, throw out all these 25man ideas like "strategies."
Another, perhaps even larger failure on blizzard's part, is their mantra of "bring the player not the class." Talk about a failure. This expansion has been anything but that, and guess which fight was the icing on the cake? Everyone's favorite: spine. What a fucking joke.
Perhaps my largest issue with this is that blizzard which change things under the excuse of "homogenization," for the purposes of "bring the player, not the class," but then leave certain idiotic mechanics in place that clearly favor certain classes. Just to list a few off the top of my head: Combustion on Yor'Sahj, Cauterize on nearly every fight, Blessing of Sacrifice on nearly every fight, Arcane mages on spine, Spirit Link totem on spine, Mana Tide on any fight, power infusion, WoG and beacon on Yor'Sahj, and Blood Shield on Madness. My personal favorite is Power Word: Barrier, as a spell. Barrier is the absolute best raid cooldown by a sizable margin, and is the only real reason to bring a priest to a first kill over a shaman or paladin. I like having a unique and powerful cooldown, but honestly, blizzard could stand to throw resto-druids a bone here and give them something similar, as they are utterly useless. I remember reading a post by Affiniti on the PTR forums, where he essentially said what i just said about priests and druids, and i thought he was overreacting. Then i did the content. Boy, was he right. Spot on. I am totally okay with classes being different, but don't bullshit us with this "player not class" shit. Class homogenization is apparently enough to give every single melee class an instant cast CC and a self-heal for PVP, but it's not enough to at least make PVE fights that don't totally and completely favor a certain class or spec. This is total failure on both the PVP and PVE front.
Our roster has changed quite a bit over this past expansion, largely for the better. Take a few moments to enjoy these screenshots from this past expansion (which will actually be featured in the next post due to the fucking BBtag limitation on these forums.