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A Bit of a Surprise

June 16, 2014

Dear Reader,

So I had a bit of a surprise this past weekend.  It wasn’t necessarily a bad surprise, but more of a surprise that requires rapid readjustment of how one acts or thinks.

The surprise was this: I was doing a heroic raid.

As you’ve read, I’ve been doing normals for the past few Saturdays (minus the one on which I did a real life heroic – building a deck – which nearly caused me to wipe – no healers were in range).  I’d grown adjusted to most of those fights, which are essentially just the flex fights with harder hits and bigger health pools.  I felt like I was adjusting well, too, and really contributing to the group in a meaningful way.  It was a satisfying experience, even though we hadn’t quite downed normal Garrosh just yet, though we had downed all the previous bosses.

Then a decision was made at the executive level of the normal raid, apparently the weekend I was away, to do heroic raids.  Some very strong raiders had come back from unavailability and contributed to the run, and as a result they’d been able to do the first five bosses on heroic when I was gone.  I was quite happy to hear that news; if the group was strong enough to be blowing up heroic SoO when some of regular raiders were absent, then we should have no trouble finishing normal when I got back.

What I didn’t consider – stupidly, in hindsight – was that we weren’t going back to normals, that we’d be doing heroics again the following week.  So when my wife and I logged in and joined up with the group, we hadn’t prepared at all – no videos watched, no mechanics studied.  Both of us were a little off-kilter as a result, though I can only blame myself; how many times have I told students it was their responsibility to find out what they’d missed if they were absent.  Fortune favors irony.

Now, the good news is that we did get the first four bosses on heroic.  Immerseus only took a little adjustment, as at first the healers were too far from the rotating tanks, and then they were too close and got hit with the nasty cleave attack.  We downed him rather quickly, overall, and on top of that, a Bindings of Immerseus dropped; that’s been by far my weakest piece of gear for while, as I only had the LFR version, never having gotten it in all the flexes or normals I’d since run.  I lost the roll, though, but then the winner coined them, so, being second highest roll, they were given to me.  Excellent!

Things continued strong as we one-shotted Protectors.  I was quite pleased with that fight, as I not only got to contribute some to dps, but to interrupting some effect from one of Rook’s adds – something I don’t have to do in flex or normal.  Still, I noticed that my dps as a whole was lacking; I was below most of the other dps and even below one of the tanks from time to time.  It didn’t so badly on Immerseus, since I got to chain lightning all the little adds, but the deficit was much clearer for the rest of the raid.

Then we got to Norushen; I’ve said before that I hate that fight.  It has seemed like a fight that put the brakes on a lot of the groups I was in early on in this tier and even represented a sizable roadblock that had to be overcome in the early normals with this group.  I was quite worried about the heroic version.

I don’t remember how it went, honestly.  I can’t even remember if we one-shotted it or not (but I don’t think we did), but overall it wasn’t too much of a struggle, that I remember.  That was good news, because I’ve always considered Sha of Pride a joke of a fight compared to Norushen.

Not so on heroic.  Not so by a long shot.  There are several extra mechanics in heroic that add to the corruption tally, and as a result, there were more corruption effects, as well.  In the flex run – and in the normal, if I’m remembering properly – no one’s even gotten to 25 corruption before.  We had people hitting 100 in this heroic run.

To top that off, the real problem was dps; we weren’t generating enough of it to get the boss to 30% before people were getting 100 corruption, nor to down him after 30%.  My wife got asked to switch to dps, which she is always willing to do with a coy look at me, a knowing look that her dps is garbage since she never plays dps.

This time, it mattered, though, because we did eventually get the boss down, and right at the metaphorical buzzer – meaning that without my wife’s dps, we’d have wiped again.  Still, regardless of that fact, my wife feels like she’s not contributing enough healing to be valued as a healer and not asked to switch nor enough dps to be valuable as a dps when she is asked to switch.

We didn’t get past Galakras.  After multiple wipes to being overwhelmed, dps getting aggro too quickly (which was mostly me), and dps not doing enough aoe (which I was holding back on so as not to get aggro too quickly), we finally got Galakras on the ground.  We were pounding him (her?), too, and the Flames rotation we’d set up was working.  Then, for no apparent reason, one of the pugs we had got flames and ran it to a place where it didn’t pass through anyone, and we wiped instantly.  We never got Galakras on the ground again.

And that really sums up what I hate about 10 man raiding, particularly heroics.  I’ve made jokes about it before, mostly related to healers – that when you’re in a such a zero-margin-for-error environment, every mistake is magnified in a way that it’s not on 25 man.  As a result, each mistake someone makes breeds the tiniest amount of resentment in others that, after months of doing these fights, grows into something unhealthy.  I felt it in H ICC 10 when that goddamn tank backed off the H LK platform again, when the dps didn’t CC the mind controls on LDW immediately, and so forth.

I don’t know how long-term healers do it, really.  The druid in our guild is a very positive, upbeat person.  She apparently feels none of the ill-will like I did; I don’t know how she does it.  The other healer is a much more blunt person who’ll call people out for their mistakes.  She’s not wrong about it, mind you; just blunt.  Perhaps that’s how you prevent letting the hostility grow; you just tell it like it is.

Regardless, I know that my “normal mode” dps was part of the problem, and since I personally made several mistakes during a lot of the encounters, the hostility that was bred was often at myself.  I said before I didn’t think I had heroic raiding in me any more, and this is some small confirmation of it.  Even with all the good that was done – we did down 4 bosses, one as a one-shot, and I got a major upgrade – I just don’t know if it’s worth it.  It was clear that there were 8 heroic raiders in there plus my wife and I.  Some of the pugs were less than kind, as well, though all our guildies were positive and encouraging.

Both my wife and I left the raid feeling disappointed in our performance.  She’s never even really done heroic raids before, mind you; was the one in LK tier hard modes and heroics.  She may have been carried a time or two – who remembers – but this was the first time she needed to perform, and I don’t think she feels like she did.

All of that said, I want the people in my guild to know I appreciate their attendance, patience, and management of the raid.  I’m not in any way upset about having been included, nor do I think it was in any way mishandled.  I just don’t know if H raiding is for me any more.  Keep in mind I decided eventually not to app to the H raiding portion of my guild, and I think it was the right decision.  But perhaps some time is needed to fully contextualize what happened.  I don’t know.  I’ll see how I feel next Saturday.

Sincerely,

Stubborn (and a bit bored)

5 Comments leave one →
  1. June 16, 2014 4:10 pm

    We ran into much the same issue when our 10N guild stepped up to heroics in SoO. The margin for error is frustratingly low. Each individual’s performance needs to be essentially perfect, and if one person is having an off night, it becomes too easy to be resentful and/or angry at that person for not pulling their weight.

    Actually makes me glad Mythic will be 20 man, so we can do our 10 – 13 folks on old Normal/new Heroic and never worry about hitting the crazy difficult stuff.

  2. Sven permalink
    June 16, 2014 7:32 pm

    Essentially you were placed in a very difficult situation – being asked to perform at a heroic level with a bunch of people already experienced on the fights. And any raid leader worth their salt is going to realise this and cut you some slack. You weren’t there when they were wiping 20/30/50/100 times to these bosses as they were progressing them – learning each ability inside and out – learning when to use personal cool downs, where to be at each exact moment so you can stand still long enough to maximise dps or healing.

    The enjoyment I get out of heroic raiding is that progression – first seeing a boss that wipes the raid 20 seconds into the fight, then getting that bit further next time, working out a healer rotation for the big abilities that works for our team, laughing at people people making mistakes – because we’re all doing them but also all learning from them.

    I’d say be pretty happy that despite never doing the hard modes before you still got 4 down in 1 raid night – there are so many ways to individually wipe the raid on those fights and that fact you didn’t would have been noticed by those who count.

  3. June 17, 2014 4:08 am

    Nice heroic kills! I’d have to agree that a wing-load of bosses is good thing on the first night in. I’ve been healing heroics recently as a pug for a regular (progression) group and when I was starting out all the new stuff made me rather anxious so I think my performance suffered until I was a bit more comfortable with the group and the added layers of the encounters. I’d imagine that the biggest part of the jump for some players would be that they’re thrown in an environment where sloppy play is rewarded with a dirt nap. (It’s big problem with my guild’s team. I can just see most of the raid dying to kegs from Rook.) While it can feel like somebody added some Dark Souls to your WoW, it can be rather satisfying especially after doing normal clears for a long time.

    As far as the healer PoV, past the basic healing requirement for an encounter, it can feel like we’re cleaning up the mess of others at times. It may not be an immediate issue, but it can catch up with people later if they depend on it too much.

  4. June 17, 2014 9:57 pm

    I think you did well – considering the circumstances! Heroic raiding isn’t that different from normal (for those who do it regularly) and I’m glad your guildies were there and were nice – they should realise that you’re not geared nor ready for heroics without some assistance! I am glad your overall experience was positive. Glad for the upgrades and that you shared the experience :)

  5. June 26, 2014 5:48 pm

    Good write-up. Your situation isn’t too far off mine back a few months ago when I started raiding again For Reals although with a different genesis. I poked a heroic raiding guild who hadn’t downed a new heroic boss in months, figuring they might be having personnel issues and, figuring they were probably killing normal bosses in the interim, offered my help-out services. I ended up being pulled into a run about an hour later, having barely done any of the fights in SoO at all (some a few times in flex, a bit of LFR, no normal or heroic)… and only then found out that they’d actually been clearing the farm heroic bosses they had done every week and would be doing it again that night as usual.

    Uh. Oops. Me in my probably-okay-for-normal gear (i550, ToT weapons) with zero normal experience, let alone heroic, walking into heroics with zero prep (the RL knew I hadn’t done heroics but based on post-raid comments had forgotten so we just set up and pulled without explanation… I decided to do my best to figure it out on the fly and would only speak up if I was causing major issues).

    Imm – ADDS?! WTF WITH THE ADDS?! BOOM, dead. “Don’t let your stacks get that high.” STACKS?! Figured out what was going on while lying on the floor, others died, we wiped, wiped a few more times, got it eventually.

    Protectors – Uh, why are we splitting dps? “Who do I give mark to?” “Tank.” One-shot.

    Norushen – Last inside? I’m good with that. … huh, this seems exactly like normal. Am I even going to get a chance to go inside? Nope, seems not. One-shot.

    Sha – WTF PAC-MAN?! Oh, I’m out, wonder how that happened. Man, lots of circles on the ground. “Kill the skull.” Where’s the skull? Oh… it’s one of our dudes. Ah, probably related to pac-man. Sheesh, I can’t stand still… geez, pride is getting up there. Multiple-shot but not too bad.

    Galakras – Yeah, I think downstairs is where you want me tonight. Some mention of grunts that didn’t seem to involve me. One-shot.

    Did IJ on normal for some reason, no issues.

    Shaman – … you need me to WHAT? TANK?! *looks around, just self and many clothies* Gulp. Lemme make sure I have a tank spec… yeah, seems like I actually have bars setup. Downstairs kiting the boss? Uh, yeah, sure… I’m sure that’ll go fine. (it didn’t, the night ended on that boss after a handful of wipes, usually starting with me blowing up at some point)

    (we did get them another night with me tanking… my first raid boss kill as a tank in the whole of MoP was H Shaman… life is odd sometimes)

    I chatted with the RL afterward and just cleared the air a bit, no particular worries on either side, he’d forgotten that I didn’t know the heroic fights but thought I did okay under the circumstances and my lack of dps didn’t hurt the results much. I tried hard not to compare my dps numbers to those who had been farming heroic bosses for months (I also did sub-tank dps on multiple fights… maybe all fights…). He also kept inviting me so apparently I was, at the very least, good enough, and before too long I was at least competitive with their regular players, even beating them occasionally. These days I’m mostly caught up despite having missed out on progression on those bosses and we’ve downed more since where I was right there with them from the start.

    Based on your comments about your run, sounds like you and your wife were in much the same situation… not ready for it, not exactly geared for it, but were at the very least good enough for what they needed. There’s absolutely no reason to judge yourselves harshly… both gear and experience would overcome the large majority of the deficit. Fact is, heroic bosses in many cases simply don’t get killed if there’s a weak link… almost never if there are two. That bosses were dying with you two in there under the circumstances, plus other pugs? I’m taking that as a great sign, not a bad one. I don’t think my run has gotten more than 7 heroic bosses down in a 3 hour night (6 is typical) so that you got 4 (and almost 5) down under those circumstances basically means that the RL can sub you two in and still have a relatively good night.

    From a RL perspective, having a competent dps, even undergeared, and someone who can adjust between healer and dps as required are both useful, especially when they’re in-house. As with your trinket, gear can be acquired and the next time you go in I guarantee you’ll be at least twice as comfy as you were the first time… from that alone you’d do better. We’ve brought i560 pugs into our runs at times who have trouble breaking 100K dps… even if your base skill level is 80% of their normal group you’ll likely be considered a far better risk to bring along.

    Normal raider? Heroic raider? Pfft. Who cares… ultimately, what you run and the bosses you kill determine what you are, there are normal fights that are arguably harder (based on frequency of wipes) than some heroic fights so where’s the bar? If you specifically don’t LIKE heroic raiding (cutting-edge fights where one mistake can mean a wipe, the possibility/inevitability of wiping on farm bosses because F’N RNG!) that’s a different story but if it’s just about performance metrics, you can’t judge based on your first time in… if anything, I think you may have proven that you both CAN do it rather than the inverse.

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