Today's topic is "Screenshot of the Year". Saz posted an esoteric shot of multiple Ancients in Darkshore. I don't think I have anything that really stands on it's own as an artistic piece, what I do have is a screenshot that frames a story quite well.
Legacy raids with a quiet desperation at times. We've made a history forged in enrage timers and dead tanks. I used to have a screenshot from our first Algalon kill that shows that if you kill him after his enrage, even his loot chest turns red. But in the last year, nothing shows our typical progression mindset like Nefarian. We had been working on Nefarian in earnest for about two and a half raid nights, probably close to seven hours of progression.
One of the things about learning Nef is that it's a classic end tier fight in terms of learning. You wipe, wipe, wipe in phase one. Tanks learn their positioning, your DPS learns how to handle the constructs, the healers learn how to adjust to the tail lash, and eventually you get that down, and you get to enter phase two. After a few wipes where you get the pleasure of figuring out who can't find water collision in their settings, you actually get to see phase two, and your healers cry tears of blood, and everyone curses the latency of the melee DPS responsible for interrupts. Eventually you cut your way into phase three, and here comes the fun part, the add tank (read: Me) becomes almost solely responsible for a groups success or failure. The spotlight can be a harsh mistress, and every time that you fail to drop the stacks of the ravenous pack of constructs, the disappointment in the air becomes every bit as palpable as the excitement people feel about being this close to a kill.
Eventually things start to click, and you start to get closer and closer to the prize. 25%, 15%, 8% past the last crackle, and then you wipe in phase two again. But the attempt after that, the 20% crackle kills my healer, panic ensues. We don't have time for another pull, and it's the last day of the lockout. Some want to farm another week of gear, others want to get it over with, but everyone dreads another night grinding away with Nefarian's mocking laughter echoing in our ears. We'd spent our entire raid week working on him, and the very notion of coming away from that week with nothing is humiliating. With no healer on the add tank, and no chance for a reset before the next crackle, The CD I was saving to keep me alive through the next crackle gets blown just to keep me alive to get there. As a placid voice from DBM counts down to the next crackle, I know that the voice is marking the moments to my death with infuriating calm. 3... 2...1... I throw up my raid wall, one last gift to my raid, the last full measure of protection I can give them. The crackle rips the life from my paladin and sets the constructs I had been occupying upon my raid.
Never have I been prouder of my raid than in those final moments. Everyone gave everything they could. Earth Elementals came out, traps, rings of frost. Our Holy Paladin, knowing the stakes, taunted four of the constructs and led them away from the raid while the resto shaman burned through his mana like the world was ending.
9%. The Earth Elementals are killed, and ring of frost ends.
8%. The holy paladin's game of keep away ends poorly for him.
7%. The resto shaman gets mauled.
6%. The Feral Druid tanking Nef takes a breath/melee combo and is put to rest.
5%. burn, Burn, BURN!
4%. Our hunter's deterrence wears off, and with a flash of the dragon's claws, he's sent to the ground.
3%. The ret paladin bubble taunts Nef to buy a few more seconds, once the fixate wears off the dragon turns his baleful breath upon the mage, before turning back to the now vulnerable paladin.
2%. Snicker-snack goes the dragon's sharp claws. Two little raiders left.
1%. Our professional hunter flies across the room on wings of flame. He always said that engineering would save the raid one day. As Nefarian gives chase, our Enhance Shaman tears into his flanks with unrelenting desperation, marching through fires and flames, heedless of his own health. Nefarian catches up to the hunter, who throws up his deterrence. Nefarian rages against the hunter's defenses, waiting for a gap to open. 3... 2...
0%. The dragon gives up the ghost with the two remaining raiders left at under 20% health. There's exultation in vent, there's happiness, of course. Underneath it all, though, is relief, and a measure of disbelief. Did we just pull it out again? Why, yes. Yes, we did.