Thursday, March 18, 2010

At What Price, Victory?

It's been a hectic month. But as things calmed down, I had a chance to chill out with my shaman officer. We spent a while talking about the old Legacy. It was an interesting and enlightening conversation, that dragged on entirely too late at a night, but all the same, was worth every second.

Last night, Legacy lost a long time member. One of our arcane mages left the server. Wound up in a guild on Firetree horde-side that just got their first kill of Deathbringer Saurfang last week. I kind of feel like the QB who got dumped for the fat guy... This departure kinda stung, because she was one of the few remaining members of the guild who remember the simpler times. Back when I wasn't the GM, I was just another member of a guild struggling to down Thaddius. There was a dynamic to the relationship that simply can't be found with the newer members, as they've only experienced me as their guild and raid leader. There are really very few members of the guild still running with us who remember those times.
  • Members of Legacy who predate my GMship: 7
  • Members of Legacy who predate my membership: 4
  • Members of Legacy who were there for the first raid: 2
  • Members of Legacy who were there on the first day: 1

Spinks had a recent post asking what you were willing to sacrifice on the altar of progression. This got me thinking about the Mage leaving, and tied back to the conversation with the Shaman. Legacy has made progress. I've built a guild that went from being ranked in the mid 60s on the server to the top 10. What have I sacrificed? We don't raid any more hours than we did back then, fewer actually. So I didn't give up time. Of my real life friends who play, they're all in the guild, so I didn't give them up. I didn't have to give up tanking. I didn't have to compromise my schedule. What have I sacrificed?

Then it hit me. Between the Shaman and I, we remembered most of the member of the guild, past and present. We remember why they left, and what they did afterwords. What guilds they came from, and what guilds they went to. I started checking back. Legacy made a lot of changes to get where we are. I took over as GM, we built a website, we switched to a dkp system, we changed the raid attendance criteria, and changed the raid schedule. Each step of the way, people left. Some people continued playing, some did not. But in every case, someone who was at the time completely happy with their guild, found it so far changed that they couldn't stay in it. For the 8 of us who are happy with all the changes made, there are at least 54 people that we know of who either quit raiding, or quit wow altogether due to those choices. There's another 70 or so who still raid with other guilds.

That's what I've sacrificed to get the progression I desired, other people's happiness. It's a sobering thought, and one that kind of eats at me from time to time. Every time that one of those people who thought they found a place that suits them leaves, it bleeds a little bit of the color out of the game for me. Every time one of them leaves, it isolates me a little bit more from the time when I was just another player. At times, I hate it, but in retrospect, if I could, I think I'd make every one of those choices the same way again.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

They Say Clothes Make the Man...

And if so, I am the best paladin in the world.

When you look this good, you don't care that you only have 21k armor and 484 defense. You feel like you could tank the Lich King on heroic.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Nature of Raiding in Wrath: Gear Resets

When patch 3.2 was released, it included one line that created a maelstrom of rage and frustration from a lot of people.

All instances aside from Trial of the Crusader and Trial of the Grand Crusader
will now drop conquest badges.
And the waves of QQ were unleashed. Combined with the daily dungeon quest now awarding two emblems of triumph, and full sets of baseline T9 available with those triumph badges the perception of welfare loot came straight to the forefront of the community consciousness. This was repeated with the release of patch 3.3, when all instances, save ICC, now drop triumph badges. The reality of the situation was that people could now gain raid quality gear without actually having to raid.

The assumption that people came to was that noobs were facerolling their way through heroics, and walking out with full T9/T10 a week later, while we raiders labored for weeks to get our loot from our kills. But the reality of the situation was this. In order to get full baseline T9 in patch 3.2 from heroics, one had to run the daily dungeon every day for 105 days, or over 4 months. In that time frame, a basic raider who simply ran ToC 10 for a full clear each week would earn 255 badges. Throw in ToC 25, and the ToGCs, and a raider in a good guild was pretty much drowning in emblems, not to mention the actual drops from the instance. But people didn't see that, all they saw was Blizzard giving out signature raid gear in 5 man instances. They didn't see what the idea truly was, a gear reset.

The first gear reset players saw was at the start of BC. This was a gear reset at it's most literal. People traded in epics for greens, and the greens were better. In Burning Crusade, blizzard implemented the Badge system to allow for normalized loot distribution, correcting a significant issue with the vanilla loot model. They toyed with it a bit by releasing BT level badge gear with patch 2.4. The gear was high quality, however, it was only a few select pieces. Nevertheless, it had people dragging their asses through Karazahn for its 22 badges, just to patch the last few holes in their BT or even Sunwell gear sets.

The release of Wrath saw another hard gear reset, and the advent of a new badge system. This one was tiered, with Emblems of Heroism dropping in 5 and 10 mans, and Emblems of Valor dropping in 25 mans. This was well and good, and worked well with the then current content. Then Ulduar was released, and with it, another tier of badges, Emblems of Conquest. Now there were three tiers of badges, and people asked the question of just how far was blizzard going to go with the badge system. Patches 3.2 and 3.3 saw the release of emblems of triumph and frost, respectively, and solidified Blizzard's stance on the matter.

Heroic content will remain one tier behind raid level content. People can obtain a complete set of gear equivalent to the previous tier's ten man level through grinding heroics. The only exception is a weapon, and those can be found in the current tier's new 5 man. The Ulduar 5 man Halls of Lightning dropped the only naxx 10 equivalent 2H axe. The ToC 5 man, Trial of the Champion, dropped an uld 10 equivalent 2H axe. The ICC 5 man instance, Pit of Saron, dropped a ToC 10 equivalent 2H axe. So, by grinding heroics, and running the current teir 5 mans religiously, a player could become raid capable for the current tier without actually needing to go through the trouble of raiding previous content.

This is actually a godsend for raiding guilds. Turnover is a fact of life for raiding guilds. Every time a raider leaves, they take their character, and their gear with them, and the odds of finding an equivalently geared player in previous expansions was just about nil. Back in Vanilla, losing a couple of raiders could completely shatter a guild in AQ40, because the pool of raiders available with the requisite gear level to actually compete in AQ40 was non existent. So, instead of the guild wasting time running defunct instances to grind up gear for the new recruit, a player who is serious about entering the raiding business can work for his gear on his own. This will both show his commitment to putting in the work needed to compete, but it also spares the guild a massive time suck.

The current tier's emblems drop two a day from a daily quest. This is deliberate. This is not so that casual non raiders can obtain cutting edge raid gear. No, those emblems are there to inflate the pool of capable players running heroics. This is particularly important with regards to the new LFG tool, where being paired up randomly has the potential to put together some really poorly geared groups. But by enticing progression raiders to queue up for a heroic a day, then it becomes simple to each group has at least on well geared player, be it a tank who simply doesn't take damage in heroics, a healer who can heal someone to full with a single flash heal, or a DPSer who evaporates mobs at a disturbing rate. This ensures a relatively stable flow of badges to the people who need them.

This system works. I now have two level capped alts with less than 10 days played on either of them, yet both of them can, and have stepped into ICC 10 runs for my guildies when needed, and made a respectable showing. This was unthinkable in Vanilla, and a huge amount of effort in BC, but in Wrath, every level capped toon is now capable of being a competent raider. It makes recruiting easier, and as bleeding edge guilds have shown, it helps cut around the mistakes Blizzard made in implementing limited attempts on content. It also allows guilds the freedom to focus on the instance that they want to run, rather than having to farm old content on guild time. This was an incredibly smart move on Blizzard's part.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Leading Icecrown Citadel: Deathbringer Saurfang

Well, WoL considers Gunship Battle as an extended trash pull that drops an unusually high percentage of purples. I'm inclined to agree. Hard mode might be different, but as it stands, Gunship, while extremely awesome, is also ridiculously easy. So I'm going to jump ahead to Deathbringer Saurfang, who typically becomes the first roadblock emerging guilds face.

Deathbringer Saurfang is the 4th, and final boss of the Lower Spire of Icecrown Citadel.

The Fight: Deathbringer Saurfang is a single phase fight with an exponential soft enrage, and a hard enrage to prevent cheesing. Saurfang begins the encounter by attempting to bore you with RP. It's cool the first few times, but after a while, it winds up like CoS, and just disrupts the timing of your pre pull preparations. Keep this in mind, combat begins 4 seconds after he deathgrips the NPCs into the air, that's the best marker to start pre hotting, pre consecrating, or popping any other buff that requires you to be in combat for maximum effect. It is also worth noting that ALL damage in this fight is physical, so amplify magic is only helpful.

Saurfang will use several abilities. He will cast Boiling Blood on a random member of the raid (3 in 25), this will act as a DoT, doing damage every three seconds for 24 seconds. He will cast Blood Nova, which will do a burst of damage on a random player, and all players within 12 yards. This will not be cast on melee as long as there are 4 (7) people outside of melee range. He will cast Rune of Blood on the tanks, causing them to take more damage, and heal Saurfang every time they take are hit by him. He will also summon 2 (5) Blood Beasts every 40 seconds. These Blood Beasts will need to be killed.

What governs this encounter is Blood Power. Every time Saurfang deals damage to a player using one of those abilities, he gains Blood Power. For each point of blood power he gains, he becomes 1% larger, and deals 1% more damage. When he reaches 100 blood power, he uses it all to cast Mark of the Fallen Champion on a random member of the raid. What this mark does is essentially transfer all the damage the tank takes to the marked raider. Taking damage from the mark will cause Saurfang to gain more Blood Power. Also, if a player with Mark of the Fallen Champion dies, he heals Saurfang for 5% of his health.

Tank Saurfang on the pedestal where he comes out. Swap tanks whenever Rune of Blood is cast. 2 tanks are sufficient for both 10 and 25. Keep all non kiting ranged DPS in with the melee to maximize available space for both the kiting of blood beasts and to prevent splashes from blood novas. Make sure that both melee and tanks refrain from casting any heavy AoEs when the blood beasts spawn, waiting until they are out of range.

Have a plan for each mark that comes out. The amount of damage that the mark victim takes is the same as the tank, so you need to have an equivalent level healing plan set up. A designated holy paladin beacon, or a designated healer.

At 30%, Saurfang will Frenzy. This will last until the end of the fight, and will increase his attack speed by 30%. Saurfang has a base attack speed of 1 second, which makes an attack speed debuff mandatory for this fight.

Look, He Brought Friends!: There is one type of add in this encounter, the Blood Beasts. They spawn in the same locations each time. One left and one right in 10 man, and in a star shape in 25 man, with two left, two right, and one in the middle. The key to handling these adds is to minimize the chance of them actually hitting anyone. They are snareable, rootable, and stunnable. On ten man, I usually assign one ranged DPS with a slow to each beast. On 25 man, with the increased health pool, it becomes a little more complicated. I assign two ranged DPS each to the two spawns in the back, and one each to the ones in the middle and the two front spawns. I usually assign the most competent ranged DPS to the one in the middle, and assign a stun rotation to buy the other solo DPSers some time to nuke their beast.

Other viable, albeit more risky plans include having the OT taunt the beasts as they get far away to buy more time to kite them, or having the melee nuke them over the course of a hard stun, such as a paladin Hammer of Justice, or funneling them all into the middle where a ranged DPS class with a knockback can reset the kite.

Tanks: Two tanks are required for this fight, and at its most simple, is a stationary tanks swap fight. Blood beast management might make it a little more complicated, but it's not very difficult.
Establishing Dominance: Ensure that the melee start out a little bit farther back from the boss, to avoid one of those embarrassing insta gibs at the start of the fight. After relinquishing aggro to the other tank, it is important to ensure that you do not accidentally grab aggro back until it is time for you to taunt. When it is your turn to take aggro, do not be afraid to double clutch your taunts, because a missed taunt screws things up royally. For the ranged kiters, it is vital to know which spawn you're responsible for and be ready to hit it the moment it comes out to prevent them from aggroing onto a healer.

Gearing Philosophy: The majority of the tank's damage is mitigatable by armor and avoidance, so maximizing itemization is the best idea. Avoidance might also help mitigate damage to mark victims, however, there have been conflicting reports on this from log parses. As the damage is pretty low in this fight, this is also a decent fight to bring out your threat set to maximize your damage contribution.

Tank Death Scenario: There really isn't a whole lot of potential threats to the tank in this fight. The worst case scenario is that a tank gets marked, and is afflicted with the Rune of Blood during the frenzy, and the OT fails to taunt back. This is prevented through attentiveness, and being prepare to double up your taunts to ensure aggro. Warrior tanks might want to consider placing Vigilance on the other tank, to ensure that they have another taunt ready to go in the event that they miss.

The Raid: On all difficulties, the raid needs a plan for how to handle the blood beasts, with specific assignments handed out in advance. Keep in mind the minimum number of people needed at range, and try not to expose people to unnecessary risk. The number of healers you'll need depends heavily on the number of marks you expect to have to deal with. Baseline rule of thumb is one healer per mark on 25 man. On 10 man, you should probably try to two heal it.

Outrun or Outlast?: Outrun. Outrun this guy like Indiana Jones outruns a rolling boulder, because if it catches up to you, you'll be a smear on the floor. This fight is heavily backloaded in terms of damage. More marks means more blood power, which means even more marks, which means even more blood power. This fight will hit the fan in a hurry, typically between the 5th and 6th marks. Therefore, it is in the best interest of the raid to end this fight as quickly as possible. Run with as few healers as you can get away with, Legacy now runs this fight in 25 man with 3 healers, and got our initial kill with 5. Blow heroism as soon as the tank has aggro, in order to maximize uptime with other offensive cooldowns. If your DKS want to use army, have them pop army about 15 seconds before combat begins, so that the ghouls die before the first wave of blood beasts. Every second that you stretch this fight out makes it exponentially less likely for you to kill him.

Wipe Scenario: Wipes in this encounter start out due to little things, but once it's assured to be a wipe, the process is quick and harsh. Marks will come out very rapidly towards the end of the fight, and will quickly outstrip the raid's capacity to heal through them. Each mark that goes out with generate more blood power, and make the next one come out faster. In short order, people will start dying. A fight with everyone up, and five marks out with the boss at 15% will find itself, a minute later, with a half dozen more marks out, several players dead, and the boss back above 20% health. The only way to prevent this is to stay ahead of the soft enrage.

Shift Fire: It is imperative that the people assigned to handle blood beasts make their switches quickly and cleanly.

Heroism: Right off the bat to maximize damage output and shorten the fight as much as possible. Some people would council saving it for the frenzy, but if the frenzy is a game breaking issue, then you've got worse problems than when to use heroism. Sitting on hero and other offensive cooldowns just drags the fight out longer.

The Fire: In this fight, the fire is other people outside of melee range. Don't stand in the fire.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Fail of the Lich King

Well, less than 24 hours after receiving the patch, Ensidia downed the Lich King on 25 man. Less than 8 hours after killing the Lich King, Ensidia was banned, stripped of their loot, titles, achievements, and most importantly, their Heroic Attunement. Chaos ensues. One of Ensidia's shadow priests, Muqq, posted a profanity laden ragequit blog post. Hilarity ensues.

The root of the problem stems from a mechanic in the Lich King encounter in which he blows the outer rim of the platform away, leaving you with a much smaller area to work with. This creates problems due to a spell he casts called Defile, which is an persistent AoE akin to the slime puddles on Professor Putricide. This AoE grows larger anytime it damages someone, and if one watches Blood Legion's 10 man kill vid, you can see that it can eat up a huge chunk of space. In addition to being awesome, the Lich King's removal of the rim forces dealing with the defile to become much more urgent. Furthermore, he occasionally spawns Valkyr that grab raid members, and throw them off the side of the platform if they are not killed quickly.

The manner in which this is accomplished is similar to how the coding manages the walls and towers in WG. They're constructs, immune to all but a single type of damage, siege damage. Siege damage is only provided by vehicle abilities, and certain explosive items. The Lich King triggers a toggle which shifts the construct's animation state, causing the floor to fall out. What made things interesting was that apparently, further siege damage caused the toggle to pop again, making the lost space magically reappear. Suddenly, defile becomes much less of a problem, and even more importantly, the valkyr now simply drop their victims onto the outer ring, eliminating the need to burn them down.

There was a similar issue in Ulduar where a few guilds managed to steamroll Yogg by dropping the Vehicles from the Flame Leviathan fight through the floor, and into Yogg's room. So, now the question becomes, where did the siege damage come from? There's one vehicle source of siege damage in ICC, the cannons in the gunship encounter. However, those are mounted on rails, and cannot be moved. The other method is from the engineering profession. Saronite Bombs deal siege damage, and can be thrown often during a fight by anyone with engineering over 410.

So there's how it happened, the next question is what exactly did Ensidia do take advantage of this exploit. Some people have claimed that the Armory shows that multiple members of the raid group powerleveled engineering in the gap between the ten man kill, and the 25 man. There's also the fact that their 10 man kill shot was very oddly cropped, with basically an eighth of the screen blacked out. They also claimed that it was not anything that affected any of the difficult portions of the fight. These kinda sent warning flags up.

Further damning the raid was the fact that Blizzard, in the email sent to muqq, specifically cited that they were bugging the encounter with intent to make the fight easier. Given the black out of the chat log, the refusal to give out a fraps, and the fact that Blizz can monitor anything said in the game client, it seems reasonable to believe that Ensidia slipped up and broadcast their knowledge within the client. Throw in their history of glitching cutting edge encounters, C'thun, Vashj, Eredar Twins, Hodir Hard, Mimiron Hard, among others, and Ensidia faces a tough road trying to ask for the benefit of the doubt.

Regardless of weather or not their glitching of the encounter was intentional, their behavior under scrutiny is very reminiscent of Exodus, the guild that exploited their way to a world first Alone in the Dark kill. With that fresh in the communities memory, including Ensidia's own push to damn Exodus for their crimes, it's very difficult not to apply the same standard to Ensida.

The effect that this will have in the long run will be minimal. If Blizz has their shit straight this time, the hardest fight will be the Lich King on heroic, which is the fight that everyone is fixated upon progression-wise. This is in contrast to Ulduar where everyone was staring at Algalon, only to realize that Alone in the Dark was exponentially more difficult. Assuming that Ensida regroups and drops the Lich King next week, they'll only be one week behind the 3 or so other guilds that have downed him so far. I would be shocked if guilds even managed to get past the gear check that Heroic Blood Queen will be the first week it's unlocked. Ensidia will have the chance to catch up.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Sordid History of Legacy: Intro to Raiding

3.1 dropped, and Legacy was ranked in the lower 40s by most ranking sites. We were capable of a fairly quick Naxx 25 clear, and could down Maly 25 and OS252D every week. Most of us were new to raiding, if not WoW in general, and we were eager to prove ourselves in the first major content patch of Wrath, The Secrets of Ulduar.

We were raiding on a Friday-Saturday schedule, so on patch day, we cobbled together two ten mans and charged into ulduar. We made very little progress, downing the Flame Leviathan with ease, and getting one, oh so painful pull on pre nerf ignis trash. We also discovered the greatest glitch ever. After much pain, we managed to claw our way through XT in the ten man, and on Friday awaited our triumphant introduction to the 25 man version.

On Friday, Legacy was introduced to what happens when you leave Naxx behind. We managed to three shot Flame Leviathan, and I got my crash course in loot drama. A fragment dropped, and we were not prepared. I had brought up the issue before to the GM, but we figured that it would be something that dropped off the later bosses, not the very first kill in there. We decided to give it to the GM, who was our primary healer at the time. This really pissed off one of our holy priests, who declared that her last goal in WoW was to get a legendary weapon, and we had taken that from her. Ragequit, gquit, and we never saw her again.

Oh well, in true Legacy form, we pugged another healer, and were faced with the choice of which boss we were going to tackle next. Still smarting from our run in with Ignis trash in ten man, we opted to try Razorscale. We managed to get into phase two after a couple tries, and found out what real bosses hit like. I got rocked, and our other, lesser geared tanks were getting straight up one shot. After pulling back, we decided to farm Naxx and Uld 10 for a few more weeks before making any more serious attempts at Uld 25. We kept Loot Leviathan on farm as basically another KT/Maly 226 farm boss.

The next week, the GM introduced me to two more players who would eventually play a key role in the development of Legacy. The first was a brash Warlock who somehow fell to us. Still not sure quite how that happened, he was pulling 5k DPS in mostly 219 gear, and eventually became an officer in the guild.

The second was a warrior tank. The GM, being one of those healing types, didn't have too good a grasp of tanks, so he asked me to take a look at this tank that he was trying to bring into the guild. I knew nothing about warrior tanks, but he was defense capped, had 30k health, and wasn't doing anything stupid like gemming for spirit.

According to the warrior, our first conversation went something like this...
Him: "Hi, I'm thinking about joining your guild!"
Me: "Sup?"
Him: "So, are you better than me?"
Me: "Well, I've never raided with you before, but... yes, yes I am."

I don't remember being that harsh, but I did kind of keep him at a arms length at times. Truth be told, I was still fairly new to raiding, and the only thing that I really knew was that I wanted to tank. I was far and away the best tank in the guild, but for some reason, the GM had started pushing me to build an offspec set, which I had been notorious for refusing to take any OS gear during T7. This combined with him suddenly bringing in a new, decently geared tank that he had previous experience raiding with left me feeling somewhat threatened. Fortunately, the warrior, who had been playing longer than I had, took things in stride, and found Legacy a comfortable enough place to bring his friends to. We found ourselves with a new rogue, resto druid, and DPS DK, who would all become core raiders for us. We've talked about them before on this blog.

We began to make some progress in Uld 10 a couple of weeks into the patch cycle, and the GM approached me with an idea. He thought it would help our 25 man progression if, instead of throwing together random half pugs for 10 mans, we put together a group, comprised of the best the guild had to offer, to push as far into Ulduar 10 as we could, picking up as much gear and experience as we could along the way. This was the beginning of Legacy's accent out of the pit of pug-dom.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Leading Icecrown Citadel: Lady Deathwhisper

Lady Deathwhisper is the second encounter in the Lower Spire of Icecrown Citadel.

Phase One: (10 man) Lady Deathwhisper will remain stationary, casting shadowbolts at random raid members, and throwing out green death and decays. She will spawn adds. These come three at a time. The first spawn will be on the left hand side, and have two Fanatics (melee), and one Adherant (Caster) in the middle. The next spawn will be on the righ side, and consist of two Adherants, with a fanatic in the middle. Spawns will alternate sides. She will occasionally reanimate, empower, or transform these adds. You will need to tank and kill these adds, while DPSing through her mana shield to enter phase two.

(25 Man) The gist of the fight is similar. The major differences is that there are now seven adds spawning, the three on the left, the three on the right, plus one random add in the back. She will also occasionally mind control a player, requiring you to CC them.

Phase Two: Phase two begins with a complete aggro drop, she ceases spawning adds, becomes mobile, and begins using a melee attack and a powerful frostbolt on her main aggro target, in addition to her abilities from the previous phase. She will no longer MC players. She begins applying a debuff on her main aggro target called Touch of Insignificance, which reduces their threat generation by 20%, and stacks up to five times. This will neccesitate tank swaps, unless your DPS can do magical things with their threat generation. The frostbolt should be interrupted, lest it do a large quantity of irressistable frost damage to the tank. A rotation will be needed in 25 man, however, any competent warrior, rogue, shaman, or DK can do it in ten man. She will also spawn ghosts, that pick a target, and explode after a time interval. they need to be kited away from the raid during that interval.

Look, She Brought Friends!: There are many adds in this fight.

Fanatics: These are melee mobs. They hit hard enough to one shot most clothies, and feature a cleave, so face them away. If they become reanimated, they gain a shield that makes them immune to physical damage, thus ranged DPS need to burn them down. If they become Deformed, they start hitting like a freight train. 35K+ on a well geared tank. However, they move slowly, and can be strafe kited with ease.

Adherants: These are caster mobs. They cast shadowbolts which hit for about 10k. If need be, they can be tanked by a melee DPS. If they become reanimated, they put up a shield that reflects all spells. It does not however, reflect weapons, so have your melee DPS lodge theirs in it's skull. If the become empowered, they immediately begin spamming AoE spells, and inflict significant damage. Empowered Adherants should always be a priority.

Tanks: Two tanks will be required to allow for the switches in phase two. One tank will be needed to tank each side in 25 man. A third tank can be helpful to pick up the add in the back, but is not needed.

Establishing Dominance: The pickups in phase one can be a little sticky. The adds spawn far enough away from each other that cleaves and other multi mob pickups are ineffective. DPS need to be disciplined, and wait for the tank to complete the pickups. A hunter for misdirects is a godsend. The mobs drop aggro if they become deformed, empowered, or reanimated, and must be reaqquired ASAP. When you enter phase two, you need to have a tank ready to taunt as soon as the barrier drops, otherwise she'll start attacking the DPSers who weren't smart enough to pull out. When you reach the tank transition, if you are the tank taking her, it's important to build as much threat as possible during the first stack, so you aren't gimped when you get two or more stacks. If you're the tank switching off, you don't need to worry about threat management as much as you would on say, Festergut, because the debuff will ensure you don't take it back.

Gearing Philosophy: The actually difficult part of the fight in terms of tank damage is usually phase two, and most of that is magic damage. Feel free to go straight stam for this fight, as armor and avoidance won't serve you too well.

Tank Death Scenario: There's two potential points of tank death. A careless tank who does not pay attention to the adds once secured, might accidently find himself tanking, rather than kiting, a deformed fanatic. 35k melee hits plus other incidental damage can be painful. Keep in mind that if a Fury Warrior or Feral Druid is MCed, the tanks will be crittable, and in this case, instagibbed. Always kite the deformed fanatic immediately. The second scenario is an uninterrupted frostbolt, typically combined with a melee hit and splash damage from a ghost or D&D. This is preventable by having a skilled interrupt cycle set up.

The Raid: The raid should have prexisting assignments for which adds they DPS, and who CCs the MC target on 25 man. In ten man, a coordinated quasi zerg is sufficient. All DPS on adds, then all DPS on boss, then back on adds, then back on the boss. However, in 25 man, the increased number of adds, and increased mana pool typically sees this strat ending in failure. I've found it better to assign a group to each side, and then setting up the remaining DPSers as full time on the boss. The number of DPSers you leave on deathwhisper depends on how well your raid can handle the adds. We began with 2 on our first kill, but now we leave seven on her to push out of phase one ASAP. The fight is easily healed with five healers, so long as your DPS doesn't camp in the fire.

Outrun or Outlast?: Outlast. While the enrage isn't as relaxed as Marrowgar's, you've got plenty of time. The important thing in this fight is to make sure that adds are dealt with properly.

Wipe Scenario: Most wipes on this encounter occur in phase one. An add isn't picked up, or is pulled off carelessly, and winds up eating a healer or two. If you fall behind on the adds in particular, the pickup becomes very difficult. Makes sure your tanks are tanking their assignments, and make the the DPS are watching omen. Also, ensure you have enough DPS assigned to adds that they all die before the next wave spawns.

Shift Fire: This fight will involve a lot a changing targets in phase one. Every add wave needs to be dealt with. Any spare time between waves should be spent burning the mana shield down. As she mutates adds, it's important to shift your DPS accordingly. Kill order should be Deformed>Empowered>Reanimated Caster>Reanimated Melee>Melee>Caster.

Heroism: There's two optimal points for Heroism, either right before, or right after the phase two transition. Use it before phase two if you have trouble hitting phase two before the next add wave spawns, this gives you a lot of breathing room on the enrage timer. If you're clean about the adds, then it would be optimal to save it for after phase two starts, so that the bulk of it is spent with the most DPS possible on the boss.

The Fire: In this fight, the fire is green bubbly runes and blueish green ghosts. It may also be any AoE that your MCed players can use. Don't stand in the fire.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Leading Icecrown Citadel: Lord Marrowgar

I have a certain perspective on encounters. I operate both as a tank, and as a raid leader. Most guides that I have seen in the blogosphere have been written from the perspective of a healer. Not sure why, perhaps the same personality that's inclined to write a guide is inclined to play a healer. But as I read these guides from the perspective of both a tank and a raid leader, there's a lot of information that I wind up having to sort out on my own, because my perspective, and the perspective of the people who write the guides often do not concern all of the same issues. At the same time, I read a lot of post from bloggers who are looking for that same information that I had to figure out on my own. So, I guess it's time that I share some of that information.

Lord Marrowgar is the first encounter in Icecrown Citadel. It is a two phase encounter.

Phase One: Begins at the pull. Marrowgar will be picked up by the tanks, while the DPS attack. Twice per phase 1, Marrowgar will cast Bone Spike Graveyard, impaling 3 players on 25 man, one on ten man. These bone spikes have health, and must be DPSed down to free the impaled player before he dies. He also launches out a path of Coldflame which is aimed at a raid member farthest from melee range. This may occasionally be the tanks if your raid stacks within Marrowgar's obese hit box. After two Bone Spike Graveyards, he will transition to phase two.

Phase Two: Marrowgar will initiate a whirlwind, and spin about the room like an arms warrior on crack. He will move to a random spot in the room, launch Coldfire in four directions, and then spin to another location. He will repeat that process several times before dropping aggro and transitioning back to phase one.

Tanks: You will need three tanks on 25, two on ten. The major mechanic that governs the tanks is Saber Lash. All this requires is that the tanks stack together to split the damage. Imagine it as a cleave on steroids.

Establishing dominance: At the beginning of each repetition of phase one, there is a full aggro drop. Marrowgar is now tauntable, however, it is still advised to move towards his final whirlwind destination, and the damage from the whirlwind is somewhat negligible, and it is much more advantageous to have some additional time to build threat before some overzealous DPSer decides to get himself killed.

Gearing philosophy: Given that the only non physical damage is the Coldflame, which you shouldn't be standing in, and saber lashes are avoidable, and mitigatable, pretty much everything works to one degree or another. Armor, Stam, Avoidance, it's all great for this fight.

Tank Death Scenario: The risk of tank death in this fight primarily occurs at the transition between phase two and one. As the tanks pick aggro back up, if they are not stacked correctly, this may lead to the primary tank taking an additional 50%-200% damage from a saber lash being not properly shared. He doesn't hit that hard in easy mode, but you'd still be talking about a hit in the 40k range on 25 man on a well geared tank.

The Raid: Positioning in phase one is not extremely important, so long as no one is moronic enough to stand next to the tanks. Generally you want to keep people fairly close together in phase one, so that bone spikes can be downed quickly. In phase two, it's pretty much just run for your life, and don't stand in the fire.

Outrun or Outlast?: Definitely outlast. The fight can be controlled. The enrage timer is absurdly generous. If your tanks have got glass jaws, and you need to bring 9 healers to keep them alive, you can get away with that. At the same time, the majority of the non tank damage is avoidable, so as long as you've got decently geared tanks, you could get away with as few as four healers.

Wipe Scenario: It's a slow death in this encounter. It'll typically begin with a healer getting either saber lashed during the transition back to phase one, or bone spike in the coldflame right before the start of phase two. The tank healing becomes strained, and eventually you lose a tank. When one tank goes down, it greatly increases the incoming damage on the other tanks, and they wind up dropping. The key to avoiding this is quick downing of bone spikes, and personal awareness of positioning.

Shift Fire: The only meaningful DPS shift in this fight is jumping from the boss to the bone spikes, and back onto the boss. In 25 man, to optimize speed, you may wish to use a program like DBM, that will place raid marks on the spikes, and assign a group to free each mark.

Heroism: Heroism is best used as soon as the tanks have enough aggro. It promotes synergy with offensive cooldowns, and the initial phase one provides the longest time on target. There are no frenzies or soft enrages to deal with.

The Fire: In this fight, the fire is blue moving fire on the ground. The fire is also a giant screaming whirlwinding skeleton. Don't stand in the fire.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Blood and Glory in the Crimson Halls.

Well, the new wing of ICC, the Crimson Halls opened up on Tuesday. As Legacy is wont to do, I mustered up my ten man team and ventured forth. We bored our way through the first seven bosses, including a one shot of Puticide which was executed to perfection. Nothing of any real interest to me dropped, although I won a pair of shoulders for my retribution set.

With our previous conquests behind us, we strode confidently into the Crimson Halls. After AoEing down the trash, we moved into the central hall, and prepared to face down the bosses. The Blood Queen's long winded speech prompted me to remark, in jest, that it was Kael'thas all over again. Our feral druid, who was in Get of Fenris during BC, and was intimately familiar with the pain of pre nerf Kael'thas remarked that this was nothing like Kael'thas.
My druid friend was swiftly laughing his ass off in vent and admitted that, yes, it was just like Kael.

And just like Kael did, the Blood Princes kicked our tails out through our teeth. We didn't have a pull that broke the two minute mark. We started out trying to have the Professional Hunter tank Keleseth. But he wound up getting nuked into the ground in record time. So we broke out the feral druid's pvp resto set, so the Hunter could have a dedicated healer. That didn't work. So we had the fury warrior switch to prot and try to tank Keleseth. It turns out that Keleseth hits really hard. Like 24k melee hits hard. So, as the optimally geared EH tank, I switched off Valanar and onto Keleseth.

At this point we managed to sustain the pull for longer than 30 seconds. I was getting trucked, but by popping a cooldown when Keleseth became empowered, I managed to survive, and we managed to find new and interesting ways to die. We found out about kinetic bombs the hard way. After assigning the Hunter to manage them, we found out that up to three of them could spawn at a time, also the hard way. When we had the Mage and Hunter managing bombs, with only the Shaman and Death Knight still actually DPSing, we found out that while a cooldown would keep me alive through the empowered shadow lances, it left me high and dry when Taldaram threw an empowered flame orb that hits me for 60k.

At that point I made the decision that there was no chance in hell that Blizzard intended for us to run with 3 tanks, 3 healers, two controls, and only two DPS. We still really didn't have a very good picture of what the fight actually looked like, so I decided to call it for the night. Truly humbled for the first time in ICC.

The next day, we marched through ICC 25. One shot every boss from Marrowgar to Rotface. Then we diverted through the Crimson Halls, and ran into a similar issue on the 25 man princes. Our Warlock was getting obliterated. However, one thing that the 25 man forced us to do was confront our positioning issues. We refined the spacing of the mobs, and began to use all of the space available to us. With the information we gathered in the 25 man, we began to put together the picture. Information is ammunition, and my ten man was now armed to the teeth.

We rode back in, cleared trash again, and threw down with the KTs three. Our hunter grabbed his PvP gear, and with a couple of stamina trinkets was sitting at over 40k health when we pulled. This prevented the instagib factor while he tanked Keleseth. He spent the initial phase spamming killshot to build threat, and collecting orbs. We determined that the initial invocation shift took place when the health pool dropped to 85%, so we kept DPS slow enough to allow him to collect three orbs before the shift. The Mage was tasked with juggling kinetic bombs. I found out something very useful while tanking Valanar. The kinetic bombs can get bounced back by my AoE. Avenger's Shield, HotR, and even Consecrate all kept them from hitting the ground, so in order to streamline positioning, when Valanar was not empowered, I took responsibility for a bomb that spawns on the dais. When Valanar was empowered, I tanked him essentially right where he began the fight. The Co Tank tanked Taldaram off to the right. Whenever Taldaram launched an empowered flame sphere, with my handling the bomb on the dais, this allowed the melee to run with it as the target kited it, so we stripped the stacks off. If it targeted me, I just popped a cooldown to eat it.

After several attempts, we got our coordination timed right, and finally downed them. It was getting late, so I put up a vote as to weather we wanted to go on to blood queen, or take here the next night. The vote was 6/4 in favor of waiting, but the Hunter needed another 2k rep to hit exalted, so we all agreed to kill the trash.

Once we cleared to her, we mulled over the strat, and concluded that it was a gear check more than anything. We decided to pull her, once and only once, to see just what we were in for. After all, she was right there. So we pulled her, and she bit our fury warrior, who promptly began to pull 18k DPS. Fifty seconds later, he stopped attacking. Ten seconds later, he started attacking again, although he was attacking me. Well, it seems like we'd have the DPS. If only we could figure out how to bite someone.

We found out that he, like most of our raid, uses Bartender4. So we began trouble shooting. We reworked his vehicle bar, his pet bar, and his stance bar. I thought about similar mechanics, and the best comparison I could come up with was Eadric the Pure in ToC five. I never remembered a vehicle bar coming up, and my pet bar was disabled. I thought about how the hammer just popped up on my first bar. As I was describing it on vent, our warrior commented, "Oh, I don't use the first bar, I use 2, 3, and 4," Well, that's... odd, but whatever. So we had him activate his first bar, and lo and behold, he could bite with the best of them.

So, Protip: Make sure your raiders have Bar 1 active for Blood Queen.

After that we wiped a few times to stupid things, mostly involving the shadowflame. People didn't see the shadowflame when they got it. People died after being feared into the shadowflame. People got the shadowflame and the blood link. I forgot to turn on Righteous Fury and the Blood Mirror jumped to a melee DPS... those sort of things.

Just before midnight, we got a nearly perfect pull. We didn't lose anybody, and our DPS was cracking down hard. Then we hit the four minute mark. The four minute mark, on ten man, is where you begin to run out of people to bite, and thus, people begin to go insane. Also, the raid damage from the Shroud of Sorrows jumps up to a painful 6,750 damage every two seconds. We had her at 10%, and all of a sudden she fears the raid, and flies off. Well, shit. With people in vent reporting less than 5 seconds before they go insane, we decided to throw our precise formations for avoiding splash damage out the window. We opted for the less organized plan of the Co-Tank, who cried out in vent "Throw things at her!" And so we did. Wand bolts, Hammers, Heroic Weapons, Lightning bolts, and Arrows. The sky was darkened with them. Right before people began to go insane, the Blood Queen let out a shriek, and died. And thankfully, unlike Sapphiron, gravity brought her corpse, and more importantly, our loot, back down to us.

I'm really proud of the work that my group has done. Along with the server first Putricide kill, Guildox is reporting our Blood Queen kill as another server first. Wowprogress has us listed as the best ten man team on the server for two tiers running now. Later this week, we plan to go back to Ulduar to down Yogg with no keepers, in order to solidify the number one ten man slot for the expansion thus far on guildox. While the guild's 25 man runs haven't had the same impetus as my ten man, they have become much more focused, and are a far cry from the clusterfucks that saw us ranked in the mid 40s on the server. With a week to go before the next wing opens, we are ready.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

And the Devil Makes Three.

Meet Claíomh. He continues in my fine tradition of plate classes with foreign names with accented letters to keep the gold spammers at bay.
He's a fresh 80 fury warrior whom the guild was kindly enough to run through all the new ICC 5 mans in hopes of getting him some gear. Unfortunately, pretty much all the shaman/hunter/rogue gear dropped. To my great embarrassment, most of that gear was superior to the quest blues I rode into town on. So, dual wielding his 2H mace and 2H axe, he looks like some sort of hulked out enhance shaman. Hopefully, through diligent running of daily randoms, he will eventually become a decent contribute to whatever guild members need my expertise on something that I've already saved my main to. It's amazing how easy it is to diagnose a group's flaws when you can tank three of them a week.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Terrible New Everyone!

Rotface 25 is dead. Took 3 attempts last night. We found that the secret to killing him efficiently was to abuse the Rotface tank (me), magnificently.

We ran in to the issue that rotface would begin to cast slime spray when everyone scattered for volatile ooze explosion. Because of the long range on the spray, and the fact that I had taken Rotface to the side, this lead to upwards of 50% of the raid finding themselves in the blast radius. After two wipes to this, I got kinda frustrated. So as the next ooze explosion went off, I just popped Divine Protection and stood there. And took no damage. Every ooze missed me.

I wasn't so lucky the second explosion, and when I reached for my cooldown, I realized that I had traded in my 4 piece t9, and it was on cooldown. So I quickly took stock of options, and hit the only defensive cooldown I had up. My Corroded Skeleton Key. This time I was not so lucky, I took about 7 slimes to the crown, and barely walked away, thanks to some pretty amazing heals.

The third explosion was much less harrowing, as Divine Protection was available again. At that point, we had entered the 6 second infection "oh shit" zone. At that point somehow a second big ooze spawned, and took out the Co-Tank. The Professional Hunter and Shameless Boomkin immediately started attempting to kite them as we blew hero and tried to outrun the fact that the bottom was falling out beneath our feet. With about 5 people down, Rotface hit the ground. There was no tanking loot to be had, but we did get the blood out to our Charter Ret Pally, who made the first Shadow's Edge in the guild.

We proceeded to go and attempt Professor Putricide. We lost one attempt to the Co-Tank, using a completely stock ui for this fight, not having bars spawn for the abom. We lost two attempts to glitched oozes trying to target the Co-Tank in the abom, and thus burning all their snare time trying to pick a target. The most annoying however, was the attempt we lost to our resto shaman who DCed while autorunning up the hall. Grrrrr...

Anyways, in the six non fucked attempts we got in, we got him into phase three twice, with our best attempt hitting the hard enrage at 28%. I feel confident that we'll down him next week.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Sorry Rhidach, but... GREAT NEWS EVERYBODY!

I took a vacation, along the way, I met up with several guild members and former guild members while in the Orange County area, this caused my raid schedule to be a little eclectic. However, the raiding the past week has been awesome.

I flew out on Friday, and hung out with some friends and family in the bay area. Then on Monday, I flew to LA, and was greeted by the shaman officer in my guild who was kind enough to not only put a roof over my head for the night, but also let me ride along on his Internet connection for the raid that night.

Monday is the night we clean up progression objectives. Because we had already facerolled all of ICC 25 on Wednesday, we were cleaning up progression objectives that had escaped our grasp back when the content was relevant. On Monday, we cleaned up Yogg-Saron, probably the source of the most bitching and gquits in our guild's history. We had about half of the raid that had never seen Yogg on any difficulty. We two shotted it, and the one wipe was due to a hunter not having his particle effects turned up, and hitting about all the clouds within 20 seconds of pulling.

It felt good to finally drop something that had been bedeviling the guild for so long. Although part of me was disappointed it was so easy. We probably could have done it a long time ago.

We rolled through some ToGC 25 to finish up the raid period, we downed Jaraxxus right before we ran out of time, and he dropped a nice pair of 258 tanking pants. Because I've missed out on most of our marrowgar kills due to various issues, the other tanks all had the 264 tanking pants already, so I got it uncontested.

Then we put together a slapdash ToGC 10 group. Decked out in oddball items like Nexus War Champion Beads and Black Spire Sabatons, we decided to go for Dedicated Insanity. It was kinda an oddball thing to attempt, considering some of the hoops we had to go through, like having our fury warrior respec arms because he only had one weapon that met the criteria, having our feral druid who goes resto for CC on faction champs do so without gear in like 4 slots because his resto set is his relentless gladiator set. Somehow, we made it to Anub'arak without any wipes. Because we didn't want to deal with trying a new comp, we went ahead and did what we always do, we two healing it. With a resto shaman and a disc priest. I can't imagine what that must have felt like for them. We got him into phase three cleanly, but also with a couple adds up, which meant that the OT was going to be on a pair that won't be killed pretty early in the fight. The healing was intense. We wound up losing our feral druid pretty early on as the healers triaged, and the DPS took us through 4 freezing slashes, which is a nightmare for me, because all I can do is take everything on the chin during those. However, we managed to pull it off. We are now the only ten people on the server who have the Argent Defender title. I think I'm gonna keep wearing Starcaller for a while, but it's nice to have options.

On Tuesday, the Shaman and I went to go visit the Prodigal Resto Druid, and by extension, the rest of the exiles. As such we missed the ten man ICC 10. They two shotted Festergut, and then proceeded to painfully claw their way past Rotface. Having our Professional Hunter tanking on his DK, and our Utility Man stepping in on his undergeared hunter made things more difficult than they needed to be, and for that I feel kinda bad. But the food at Marie Callender's was so good. Anyways, they opted to not attempt Putricide until a better raid group showed up.

I missed most of Wednesday's raid due to travelling back home. They facerolled their way through the first four bosses, but then wiped for about two hours on Festergut. Meanwhile, I was cramming my 6'8" frame into a middle seat in coach on a 737, in between two fat guys who snored. Then I was waiting for my backpack to get unloaded off the plane, which apparently requires a crew of 12 to find. Then I got to play dodge the drunk homeless guy on the Link Light Rail. Then I had to suffer through the aural torture of bad guitar guy on the ferry. Then I had to drive home behind mister "I drive 10 miles under the speed limit in no passing zones!"

I arrived online about an hour before the end of raid time. They were struggling on Festergut, and asked me to step in the place of the lowest DPS so that Super Priest could come on his priest, and not his prot pally. I came in, and we wiped about two more times. Exhausted from my trip, and having traumatic flashbacks to Thaddius 25, and I just kinda snapped in vent. Angy Dammer was in full force. But something miraculous happened. Suddenly, it seemed as if every DPSer seemed to find an extra thousand DPS in them. Not having to rotate 5 cooldowns to have a tank survive the 3 inhale blitz probably helped too. Festergut went down, and we took a few exploratory pulls on Rotface, only fitting in three pulls, each with a different set of trash respawning in between them, we managed to get him down to about 18%. I'm confident we'll be able to down him on Monday. I apologized for my mass transit induced bloodlust, and formed up the ten man group. This time with the Professional Hunter on his hunter.

We walked into Putricide's lab with full Algalon protocols in effect. We were hermetically sealed within a vent channel that only I know the password to, stocked with full flasks and fish feasts. All non essential chat channels were left, and we went to work.

Putricide was unbelievably bugged on the PTR. It wasn't so bad on live, but we still lost 3 attempts to bugs. We had one attempt where the mutated abomination registered as a mount, and as such didn't have an independent action bar, we lost a couple of attempts to Putricide only spawning one slime pool at a time, which meant that the abom couldn't get enough ooze power to actually do anything of value. We lost one attempt to our resto shaman accidentally dropping a cleansing totem, which meant that every time that our abom came near the totem, the abom was cleansed off of him. It took some hard looking at the parses to figure that one out. Finally, we managed to get a clean pull, that pushed him into phase three. Phase three got a little weird, and I fucked up the tank taunting, so we wound up with much more raid damage than we needed to. We cut it to the razor's edge, with the bottom falling out at about one percent, when everyone else in the raid was killed off by the AoE, and the slime pools were everywhere. Only my co-tank and I were still alive, and we managed to burn the last 120k off of him for the kill.

Some crappy leather dropped, but so did the Unidentifiable Organ. I beat out the co-tank on the roll, and it's definitely going to replace the Heart of Iron on my Marrowgar/Festergut set.

During 3.2, after we had downed Algalon and Tribute to Insanity and just before the Exiles left, the Professional Hunter had a chat with me. He said he wanted our group to compete for server firsts in 3.3, which even on ten man had previously been the realm of guilds like Awaken, Crisis, and CSM. Well, we aren't competing for server firsts, we're taking them.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Thoughts on Gearscore, and how it can be done correctly.

Gearscore has infected Destromath. First running rampant on the horde side, people have begun to treat it as the gospel on alliance side too.

This is my opinion on gearscore. It should be thrown in a sack. The sack should then be thrown into a river, and the river hurled into the sun. The idea of rejecting people based on what is essentially a summation of their item levels is moronic, given the amount of data it doesn't include. The whole notion of the addon is to cause people to forgo actually looking at someones spec and gear. Which is why it fails. It's an abacus, not an audit.

However, the concept of an addon which does the work of inspecting a players gear is not without merit. Sites such as Wow-Heroes and Be.Imba.Hu have been doing so successfully for years, and without the flaws of Gearscore. This is because they run a full audit which takes into account specs, gems, and enchants. The DK with spellpower gear is properly called out for being a tool, not rewarded with a bigger e-peen to flex.

There is an addon that does this correctly. It is new, and it will hopefully displace gearscore. It is Elitist Group. What elitist group does is present a rudimentary audit to any player who is in your group. This is most effective in the LFD pugs. Upon opening the summary screen, you're presented with a panel that shows you each item they're equipped with, their item level, gems and enchants, and if each is appropriate for their spec. It also points out if they're missing any talent points, and how much of each teir of content they've cleared. At the end of a five man, or on command in a raid, a window comes up that allows you to rate a player 1-5, and write a short note about them. These can be shared with other players running the addon, creating a kind of reputation system.

The system is not perfect. It flagged me for using the 30 stam to shoulders PvP enchant. However, it's leaps and bounds better than gearscore, and something that I'm not afraid to endorse.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Sordid History of Legacy: The Origin

This is my guild. There are many like it, but this one is mine.

Legacy was founded in March of 2009 by a resto druid who believed that all content could eventually be downed with enough determination. Through sheer willpower, he managed to construct a guild that had Malygos 25 on farm before anyone actually in the guild had ever downed Sapphiron. His "LF1M Maly 25, must have key!" spam has become somewhat legendary in trade chat. Legacy began as one of "those" guilds.

About two weeks after Legacy was founded. I found the current guild I was in, Mean Machine, dismantled when the pressures in the officer corps built up too much. Looking back, I probably wouldn't have joined a guild like Legacy if I were to be put back on the market. But they offered me a chance, and very quickly, a level of control that I would be unlikely to find in other guilds. I was installed directly into the officer corps of Legacy, joining the resto druid GM, a young rogue, and another protection paladin.

Together, we slogged our way through 3.0 raiding. Thaddius 25 was the bane of my existance for several weeks, as apparently for some guild members, and far too many pugs, charges was something far to complicated for them to wrap their heads around. Clearing up to Thaddius in less than 2 hours was not uncommon, and spending 4 hours on that damned flesh giant was about an equally common occurrence. I rapidly displaced the other tanks in the guild. The prot pally officer became a skilled holy paladin, and the other prot pally became a solid ret pally.

Once we overcame the Thaddius hump, and began to smoothly clear Naxx, I put out feelers to fill in some of the holes in the guild. I brought in one of the DK tanks and hunter officers from Mean Machine. Clearing Naxx with regularity brought an end to the legendary Maly spam, seeing as several members of the guild now had their own Keys to the Focusing Iris. We were clearing Naxx and Maly 25 weekly. However, we were still pugging about 8-10 raiders for every raid. About half of those were vetted pugs who ran with us weekly, and a few of them later went on to become guild members.

However, there was still a good measure of instability within the guild. Which caused us to ultimately fail to down the marquee encounter of 3.0, The Twilight Zone. While we were able to kill 2 drake sarth with impunity, the addition of Shadron to the mix created just enough chaos that the raiders who were pugged in couldn't adapt quickly enough. It also didn't help that our primary tanking corps consisted of two prot paladins and a warrior.

3.0 was not without it's fair share of drama. The young rogue I mentioned eventually wore out his welcome with the guild. His constant throwing of party grenades at the raid when they were attempting to eat great feasts, his constant chatter in vent, and his outbursts in gchat eventually wore on the GM to the point where he was given an ultimatum, gquit, or be gkicked. He chose the former, and would up spending an unfortunate amount of time bashing Legacy at any opportunity.

With a core of about 10 consistent raiders, with an outer orbit of causal members, Legacy had managed to entrench itself enough to prepare for the rigors of the first content patch of Wrath. Boldly we walked forward to plumb the Secrets of Ulduar.