Category Archives: Cataclysm

Reflections of a raid leader… (random musings really)

When Cataclysm and it’s raiding hit us I was absolutely excited in the difficulty setting of the raids. They were exciting and challenging and fresh and all the older players (you know, those who were so disappointed by ToGC and onwards raiding) were excited about it. I guess what we haven’t realized back then (or didn’t want to admit to ourselves) that although we were very much excited, we weren’t the majority of the Warcraft population and even many of those we raided with from the old days weren’t ready and prepared for this step up. And many, many people around were dropping like flies, burning out left and right. Looking back at it and summing it up altogether now, after half a year in Cataclysm it’s time to reflect on things that were and things that might be.

The difficulty

The step up in difficulty the one we sought for so much – although it’s hard to say if Wrath raiding was really any easy, strict 10M hardmode raiding was challenging for the most part and well, PUGing ICC with the big bad buff can’t be really taken seriously. Although it’s exactly this big bad buff raiding that got stuck in most raiders minds as far too easy content and the public cry for more difficult raiding was around here. And the difficulty came and it took most folks by surprise.

The mistake, from how I see it, is that even normal modes in entry gear were far too punishing. Instead of having fights with more clever or simply more mechanics, we got bosses with more deadly mechanics. Nothing wrong about that in essence, stuff just hit harder and had to be healed back. However, while touching the subject of healing, it was very hard transition on most raiding teams due to the new and improved healing system. That alone raised the difficulty some more, pushing it into impossible for many and many guilds. But still, that’s not the problem.

I do think that the true problem lies within the fact that you simply cannot make mistakes to complete encounter (talking raiders with average skill here). One person goes down and it’s a wipe. Moreso, it’s often not even a “okay, let’s see how far we can go before we go again” try, you simply won’t have enough power to get the boss down. I think that having this much difficulty on normal modes, pretty much killed the “casual” and “low progression” raiding (no offence meant nor implied) and in turn effectively killed player market.

Anyways, that’s just random thought to introduce the wide frame this post is trying to fill. A post about second guessing myself.

The evolution of  my Cataclysm raiding

We started Cataclysm with broad smiles on our faces, looking forward to the bright future and expecting things good and better. Then we dipped into the raiding and although the difficulty surprised us at first – that it indeed was as difficult as promised we had a go at it and we were, more or less successful. I would say, we were fairly successful since from the Day 1 of our raiding endeavours, we had so high turnover that we effectively replaced ten to fifteen people, maybe more.

Now, I am not going to complain about that. It’s most likely our fault anyways when it comes to the true essence of the problem, since we were the ones responsible for the recruitment and judging people. We haven’t left more than two or three people to more progressed guilds, all our war casualties simply ceased playing over burning out (or rerolled a new alt without telling). We had to kick two people because they just weren’t good fit. But we rangered on, anyways, trying to do the best with the guild and provide the people with us, those relying on us to guide them through the content and provide them with nice and steady raiding atmosphere. And I take great pride in the fact that since 1st February this year, with all the trouble our roster went through, we cancelled one, ONE raid in total and that was on day when five raiders just had to take break due to various real life stuff.

The core of the force

Even with this huge turnover, we were blessed with collecting great core of players. We have great tank, we had 2 awesome healers (now we have 3) and we had awesome band of dpsers who always strive to do better and improve. I have raiders who put much time into tactics research – our Magmaw heroic tactics thread inflated from 2 pages to 6 since Thursday raid till Sunday evening with people discussing various tweaks, posting tips and whatnot. A true raid leader’s dream. I didn’t even dare to intervene into the discussion, I was just sitting quietly at the back, taking notes and thinking about what they suggested, trying to fit it somehow to the people I raid with and in the end, all it took was a short post by me consolidating the suggested changes and outlining the tactics for Monday. And, there was noticeable improvement on Monday. No, we haven’t get him down since we didn’t really go with the best possible setup, but we got to P2 and practiced the transition few times so well that I have no doubts the worm is going down next reset when our third healer comes back from his exam period.

I have nothing but deep appreciation for the core people we raid with (this is sort of apology to the newbies – I promise I will like you in few months as much, it’s just that we haven’t been together for too long, yet) and the way they handle fights. From people willing to respec for encounters on the fly or willing to respec on encounter progress just to try a different approach, to people who do things I’d want them to do without me saying so – be it popping cooldowns, moving to spots I’d like them to move. I have people that I can rely 100% to do interrupts, gonging and any other ungrateful tasks, all the black work that never gets you the spotlight, but is needed to down bosses as much as high dps, hps or tps. I have people who are very skilled on executing encounters and as I said, I am proud to raid with these people, even though they can drive me up the wall sometimes. For the most part it was great and enjoyable ride, yet…

Second guessing yourself

I’ll say it out loud. We had not-so-good night yesterday. We started on Magmaw again to test some hardmode findings and it worked well, we have done some progress and then people (certain person) started dying to stuff they really shouldn’t be. I took a note, tried to talk to them and point out to them what is wrong, yet the improvement was not entirely coming. Anyways, we called Magmaw halfway through the raid, executed the worm on normal and decided to move on.

Chimaeron was fun moment, since we had no one to be the dps break tank so we had to resort to normal killing – trust me nothing beats raid leader asking over Mumble: “Okay guys, how many tanks we need for normal again? I have absolutely no idea how the normal works anymore.”; he went down easily, not loosing a person because the first tank lasted eternity in P2. Then we moved to Atramedes, switched to hard and happily started executing. We spent hour on him, we had 10 tries on him and we just weren’t able to down him. Atramedes. The easiest hard mode as far as I can say execution wise – or well maybe second easiest after Halfus.

Seriously, all you have to do on the encounter to execute it is to remember that we move to the back on the discs and to the door with the breath. Yet exactly this side distribution tended to be the greatest problem for many people. I had no idea what was going on – we were loosing people to full sound before first airphase, after first airphase, we were loosing people left and right. DPS figures on the meters checked out, I’d say they even exceeded our past kills, tanking was alright (except for few “rotate with us” for a new tank on the encounter). Healing was feeling a little sloppy since I don’t think we were all fully focused – but nothing so severe it would cause the wipefest we had.

I couldn’t wrap my head around it – the awesome people who can execute and dodge shit were making the basic mistakes like kiting the fire through raid, moving like headless chickens, not stacking properly as they should be – even after few prompts to do so. After 10 tries I was past furious, I was simply broken.

I tried asking people to improve and do better, I tried calling stuff out more, nothing seemed to be working. It’s moment like these that make me think I am too old for this game. It’s moments like these that make me reconsider my raiding future and make me always think whether it’s not time to quit. There is nothing worse for a raid leader than feeling helpless. You keep asking yourself – what more can I do? These are people who can do the encounter. These are people who definitely know way better than this. So where is the problem? Is it me? Am I so bad at motivating them they just don’t care? Or is it simply bad night tonight and should I let it go? Is it my problem that I take such thing so seriously, should I just take it easy?

You inevitably start to second guess yourself, your capabilities and your skills. No matter how many kills you lead before, no matter how many bosses you stomped over and thrusted your banner in, you start to second guess.

Anyways – it was probably just bad night, such things happen. I could’ve say some folks had their minds elsewhere, some just weren’t giving a damn at all as it seemed and in the end, I had an headache. I’ll leave it at that.

Meh, re-reading the post, I am not entirely sure what I wanted to say and I definitely didn’t want to sound all whiny and sorry-ass but hey, it’s out and it’s gonna get posted.

Let me ask you few questions to close with – how do you deal with bad raids? How much these raids get to you? And how much they affect your raid leader?


4.1 from 10M raider and raid leader PoV

Well, the long-awaited patch hit us yesterday. Well, it hit U.S. Us who live in Europe still have to sit and wait while our servers are being patched. I must say, it was like the night before Christmas yesterday (and no I don’t mean I got visited by ghosts of patches past, present and future) – that’s how excited I was about this patch. And not only as your generic resto shaman 3485732 but as well as 10M raider and raid leader. This patch brings (asides from more healer balancing/nerfing/changes) long-time needed tuning of some 10M hardmode encounters and makes them challenging instead of impossible. Yes, we are talking about the high-end encounters like Nefarian, but even for the average Joe raiding guild like ours is the Atramedes change is very welcome, the Bile-o-tron change is great as well as far as lining up cooldowns for offline phases goes in 10M hard and so on.

But, this patch brought a lot of Shaman changes too, so let’s take a close look on those related to restoration talent tree and what could they possibly mean or whether we should be pissed such a change went through in first place.

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Cataclysm healing: The new age

So. Long before Cataclysm hit us we were being massaged by the constant spam of information about how healing will change come Cataclysm. I believe we all looked forward to it, still unsure about how it will play out in the end, half scared half excited, looking into the future and what it will bring.

Then 4.0 came and we got our new shiny abilities and mechanics, but in old and very, very easy content. Which didn’t mean much and everyone was excited and well, quite optimistic about the times that were supposed to come. There of course were the BETA reports of health being buffed by a lot, whilst remaining at the same per-heal numbers, meaning a lot more work. But that was far ahead, not in the present shiny days of ICC hardmodes and so much mana that we could bottle it and save for rainy days. Which we should’ve done.

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10M guilds and raiding: Part 1 – now and back then…

I am a die hard 10M raider. I was raiding strict 10M in Wrath (for those that don’t know jack about it, it’s raiding 10M only content with 10M only available gear; that back in Wrath meant raid comp issues, gear level issues as well as gear itemization issues – the great lack of 10M trinkets for casters back then is prime example). Back then, we were the underdogs, the often mocked “lolformat” of raiding. We did it because it was challenging as hell (strict LK HM kills pre 4.0 = 3 total) and because we preferred the intimacy of 10M close-knit group. As well, 10M being far more easy to organize and run, it was easier on me as GM and Raid Leader.

As noted elsewhere here, I was pretty excited about the intended raiding size changes for Cataclysm; 10M and 25M sharing same loot and same lockout? Yes please. No more belittling of our efforts and achievements, no more needing to prove ourselves. As well, with the gear and the format being on par between the formats, bigger pool for recruiting players for roster (which was constant struggle in 10M, as well as to remain on various “strict” rankings). This coupled with guild experience and guild perks felt like really the good and proper move towards more FnF style of raiding and actually good step forward in the PvE direction.

With T11 normal cleared and Wyrmus heroic beating the dust, I think I couldn’t be more wrong…

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That’s like your opinion, dude (about Worgen and general Beta musings)

Riiiight. This is the non-spoiler paragraph. You are free to read on without the urge to poke your eyes out with rusty spoon in order to preserve your Cataclysm gameplay virginity. I will tell you when there will be spoilers. You won’t miss that, promise. It will be really, really obvious. Like really obvious. Something like big, capitalized, bolded and underlined, centered and red text saying there will be spoilers. Thinking something like this:

!!! BEWARE OF THE DOG AND SPOILERS. SPOILERS, DUDE!!!

Well okay, not underlined. But that’s how it will look when there are going to be spoilers. Not yet though. We are still in the non-spoiler part. Anyways, I spent some time on beta over the weekend and I am still pretty gutted Shaman trainers refuse to teach Rahana the new Cataclysm spells and I don’t dare pugging any instance without. I mean come on, they rebuild our healing arsenal but don’t issue new weapons. Dull. Anyways (and that’s gonna be one tedious task) I noticed the same on my druid who actually, could train the before-untrainable spells after leveling up. So guess I need to start working and push the blueberry to 81.

Last beta build came up with few great things – you can play Worgen (more on that later). You can’t submit feedback because for some reason that feature is broken (wasn’t me!) – which is kinda stupid for beta tested game; I even found out few bugs and stuff actually worth reporting but I can’t. Meh. The greatest thing so far though is the new game installer/launcher/downloader, that streams game data and downloads them while you play. Sure, getting into Dalaran and waiting a minute till your client actually downloads all textures and you are not in strange shades-of-purple-but-no-texture world, but it’s fast, it allows you to play the game quite early after initial installation file download and, contrary to the current downloader, it doesn’t lag you so much (even if you let just launcher up to download).

Okay. That’s about it. Now I will do something I haven’t done in ages – I will insert a page breaker. That means if you don’t want to read possible spoilers related to Trolls and Worgens, you better not click and read on. If you want to comment, feel free to I will make sure I will put down some harmless picture of swans or something so your eyes don’t ever land on spoiler content. For reading more, click read more. Somewhere down below this text.

SPOILER ALERT. PLEASE CLICK READ MORE AND YANNO, READ MORE ONLY IF YOU ARE SURE THAT’S WHAT YOU WANT.

YOU’VE BEEN WARNED.

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New Shaman changes…

I know I haven’t been talking much about coming Cataclysm changes and all, mostly because I jumped the bandwagon too late and everything worth of importance was already said in other places, but after two or three Beta builds Shamans finally got some love. And I am saying love as the changes don’t sound all that bad actually – you know I am the type that prefers Shaman to go to Cataclysm untouched rather than damaged by some eager class designer wishing to show us how they understand what this class needs.

Oh and don’t hold your breath – no Spirit Link.

Elemental goodies

Let’s see what is in the pot of Elemental goodies relevant to Restoration Shaman. Oh and no, I am not really going to say how good the changes are for Elemental :) There are people far more competent to do that. Actually I guess pretty much anyone is more competent for that matter than I am…

We have Hex lasting 1 minute (up from 30 seconds) – sweet change – I often felt crippled on fights like Faction Champs or Blood Queen HM when my CC was needed to save the day *cue Superman theme song* and the thirty seconds compared to the cooldown just wasn’t cutting it.

Obviously, Searing Totem  now prefers to target enemies that are afflicted by our Flame Shock or Stormstrike effects. About time I say. It actually makes it a worthy totem for us if we fancy pretending we do some direct damage contribution on those pre-enrage pushes. Guess our dps specced comrades are really happy about this change.

Last change I will mention, probably the most relevant to us is that Ancestral Knowledge (mana up) is now named Acuity and increases our critical strike chance with all spells and attacks by 1/2/3% (I think this is low value). Well, hm. At first I thought – yay, compensation for our low crit rate early on and bonus crit later. Then I started pondering whether the larger mana pool wouldn’t actually be better in the announced Cataclysm healing. I guess we will see. Right now we can only hope that all the crit dependant mana returns and the crit heals will somewhat compensate for replenishment loss.

That’s about it from Elemental, let’s go see what is in Santa’s bag for the freaks like me who throw around green leaves of good and slice through raid with golden lazorz.

Restoration changes

Okay. Here we are getting quite some interesting things that might actually spice up the talent trees a bit (and yes I thought they were boring. Solid, but boring).

Totemic Focus is now a 2-Ranks talent, down from 3-Ranks. Now also increases the duration of your totems by 20/40%. I seriously can’t see the benefits of this. Unless they make totems pop cost like 50% of your maximum mana, what’s the point here? Is there any totem duration decrease coming, or should we spec this just to make Searing, Earthbind totems last longer? On second thought – I guess some 25 Shamans might be forced into this spec for longer Mana Tide. Hm…

We even got new talent – Cleansing Waters. When our Cleanse Spirit successfully removes a harmful effect, we also heal the target for [ 1093 to 1164 ]/[ 2187 to 2330 ]. This talent sounds excellent – basically saving  a global cooldown every time we dispel and don’t have to whack another heal on the person right away. Especially if Cataclysm will be full of debuffs that hurt. Not totally sure it’s worth 2 points, I guess time will tell. It’s interesting mechanic at least.

Enhancement tree

Well this got me worried a bit in addition to other new talents. We were more or less speccing into Enhancement yet again, to pick up Weapons and Shields and try to reach the increased run speed (dropping Tuskarr’s for some sort of directly improving enchant) or investing the points in mana pool enhancement (intended) in elemental tree; now the choice is even harder. You can go pick up crit in elemental tree not leaving you enough points to pick up the new talent in enhancement tier 2 – Totemic Reach that increases the radius of your totems’ effects by 15/30%.

Again, we might not see enough fights where you’d need your Healing Stream to cover area worth of Orgrimmar, but in case this indeed is needed, it might get tricky on the points. Aaaanyways might be useful in five-man instances so you don’t have to re-drop totems all the time.

To conclude

In my opinion, these changes look interesting. They don’t add anything to be considered overpowered so we don’t have to tremble in fear we will get QQ-omg-nerfed to the ground and yet these abilities smooth some of the sharp edges this class still has in preparation for the new era.

Let’s stay positive and actually welcome it with open arms, trusting the developers they might have a clue as to what are they doing. Heh. What is your take on new spells? Especially cleansing water?


Gear resets

Because I got some sort of summer flu two weeks back, my Cataclysm testing so far is limited to something like 7 hours total, in which I logged Rahana and spent 10 minutes flying all over Ironforge and visited Ironforge Airport. Created a Goblin Shaman and spent few minutes waiting for Rocket Jump cooldown just tossing around. Logged my Deathknight, specced her and went into Ebon Hold to whack dummies. Without any sort of dps meter. Next log on I went again with Rahana, flying all over Azeroth to visit old and new places and got great twitch to roll new character come Cataclysm to experience the old new content. I did the “CSI: Old Blanchy” quest too. Oh and I rolled a Troll Druid with the intention to level it a bit higher to see the Bear form. He’s stuck at level 4 – but Echo Isles are by far the best (as in colourful, cutest) starting zone out there. Yesterday before raid I logged for quite some time because I was tasked with finding whether Water Elementals are still immune to Frost magic.

So I logged my frost knight, and asked humbly in trade how the hell can I get to 80+ zones. Use the teleport outside Stormwind bank they said. So I did.

Whooooom. Loading screen.

Mount Hyjaal (or how do you spell that). Beautiful zone. It has everything – druids, lore important NPCs, mining nodes, Big Tree of Importance (TM), quests and Twilight occultists (not the movie, the cult).

In my thorough search for a single water elemental (they have fire, earth and wind, but no water on Mt.H.) I picked up a few quests. The usual right-click-don’t-read-accept way as I didn’t want to spoil the lore line for Cataclysm for myself. I did those quests. Two to be precise. And seeing the quest reward shocked me a bit. Here I was, looking at a piece of mail caster gear with hit and crit on it, with about 150+ intellect on shoulder piece. I blinked. Then I blinked again. I sat there, looking at the green quest thing trying to figure what the hell is wrong with that. Then I figured. Rahana’s T10 (264) shoulder armor has about 200 armor and 60 INT less (but 1 socket more). After a while I managed to display ilevel in default Blizzard UI (if anyone knows of any working Beta addons, please let me know). i272. First rewards. Oshi.

I won’t try to hide it bugged me a little (yes, past tense) – after all replacing the set gear and nice purples with very first rewards, expecting to have pretty much 10M BiS by the time Cataclysm ships felt a bit weird for me. Second zone quest rewards, first instance blues would feel more appropriate. We are geared from the final instance for god’s sake, aren’t we? Anyways, as I said, it does not bug me anymore. We talked in guild about it, I did some thinking too and yeah, the complete reset is a great thing.

Complete gear reset is the best gear reset

It actually is. It allows people to change mains easily, it allows your raid squad to evolve and get ready and confident for Cataclysm. It was actually annoying to start doing Naxxramas in Sunwell and some other T6 gear just because the heroic / blue i200 alternatives were either pain to get or not that big upgrade to be worth trying to put together group for Oculus – and trust me, that was near to impossible at Wrath launch. If you think of it, using old expansion gear sucks out half of the fun from preparing for new content. You don’t have to run dungeons for gear, just badges. You don’t get to think about new gear set-up, whether this piece is better or not during the leveling process. You just wait for first raid drops and you perform just well in the raid. That definitely is unhealthy way to sort gear progression.

In hindsight, if we take our experience with Wrath into consideration, the QQ about TBC gear reset was stupid and pointless. Now I understand if anyone is pro raider with Naxxramas on farm, they wanted their gear to represent their feats and pride for as long as possible. Let’s as well admit that the BC visuals were far from the cool visor of grim, gothic looking Naxxramas (or vanilla in general) gear. Replacing your epic sword for some crystalish stick that looks like big dildo sure does feel humiliating, disregarding the fact that it is gear improvement. Then again, I really do think so far the TBC gear reset was the best so far and we can only hope that Cataclysm reset will be the tiny bit better. Better in what? Let’s see.

  • There needs to be a lot of viable gear options in the 84-85 bracket instances. Bringing back D-sets would be just awesome, decking ourselves in blue sets before we set our feet into raids and replace them with !purplz! was probably the biggest thing I missed in Wrath.
  • There must be enough viable options in quest rewards that will actually force us to break our sets early. Because let’s admit it, most of the time it’s not the raw stats, but the set value that is holding us back
  • Community has to start thinking in number values, not colour values regarding gear. That means important is ilevel, not shades of blue or purple. I still recall getting a proper beating for using Spark of Life when Ulduar was out. I was supposed to go and buy Egg of Mortal Essence because it was upgrade. Well, bullshit. Same ilevel, different colour and Spark was actually priceless to me due to the mp5 proc.

Preparing for new gear

The most important task with upcoming gear reset however lies on us. At least I believe so. We need to actually prepare ourselves for the early gear switch so we can move on, not being stubborn asses that insist on keeping their heroic tagged purples no matter what. If you haven’t been to Beta, I can guarantee you will be blown away by the stat increase on the gear. I don’t know what caused it, my guess at long shot would be that the removal of ratings and some other stuff actually moved a bit the budget cost of other stats so the gear really does seem imbalanced and OP at first.

Anyways, that is just my thinking about how we should look at it. Gear reset is coming and there is nothing you can do about it. My question though is – how long do you think will the T10 set bonuses outweight the raw stats? And I am not interested in numbers, more likely the feel of it. Seeing the starter gear, I expect Rahana to be in brand new green/blue gear halfway to 83 latest.


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