Tag Archives: raiding

The more things change

Purple dragons and pretty flowers are in no way misleading to the content of this post.

It took me some time to think about writing this – first, whether I wanted to write it, and second, how I’d go about doing it. It’s a strange topic with a lot of emotions tied up in it. It wasn’t a big deal, and it was a big deal – and it was somewhat freeing, and it was also an incredible downer. It felt like a kind of failure, and it also felt like one of those things you build up into being a huge thing and then it just isn’t.

About a month ago now (I’m just guessing) – our formerly strict tens guild decided to let our strict designation go. Earlier we’d made the decision to keep it when an in-guild vote yielded an exact tie. After a few more months of working our way through the “stale content doldrums,” the vote came up somewhat differently. The guild was overwhelmingly in favour of forgetting it, and so we did.

What’s funny about it is that it hasn’t effectively changed our gear at all. Most of us who hadn’t done so have poked our noses into an ICC pug to see what the fuss is all about. I didn’t win a lick of gear, and our pug wasn’t good enough to down Rotface so I didn’t even sniff the instant-drama magnet DFO. I personally enjoyed my brief foray into the larger version of ICC. Marrowgar didn’t really feel very different. Lady Deathwhisper felt much like the ten-man heroic version of her fight, except with more adds (and more tanks to pick them up, and more people to burn them down). I have to admit that I liked the 25-person Gunship quite a bit more. It really felt like a real battle with all the cannons lined up there and so many people flying back and forth. It’s an encounter that didn’t translate as well to the ten-man version.

My overall feeling was one of being underwhelmed, though. Of course, I was in a pug: somewhat disorganized and dysfunctional and not apt to succeed. I’m sure being in a great guild run is a different beast! It just reaffirmed for me that I am interested in tens exclusively, and I’m okay with that.

The guild has taken it in stride, and it’s business (time, har) as usual for us. Fsob made a joke about how we were now ranked 114th for progression on the server. Good news, guys, we’ve killed Marrowgar! Others were over the moon to be able to finally bring their many alts with achievements into the guild. That definitely helped me realize that it was the right decision at this point in time. With waning interest in ICC, it’s important that people can explore any options they feel like – an ICC 25 pug some night we aren’t raiding, or whatever. This became increasingly apparent was I’d hang around in trade, see a pug advertised – “They are looking for a mage!” and then realize that of course, I couldn’t go, and neither could many of my guildies. It started to feel like a weight.

The strict ten movement was an important one I still wholeheartedly support. I love being part of a group of people focused on tens, intent on proving that tens can be done in gear available from tens. If you don’t believe it, just ask Kae – her guild was the second strict ten in the world to down H LK recently!

I’m still all for that, and our guild will still raid tens exclusively come Cataclysm. Especially with the shared lockouts between them, this is going to be a non-issue for us. I feel that what we were aiming to achieve has been done – shared lockouts and shared loot is an open recognition and an admission from Blizzard that the way that tens scaled was unfair. Never again will people who like 25s have to farm tens just for emblems, or for a specific drop that isn’t available at their preferred raid size. Never again will I have to sigh and mentally adjust my DPS numbers and BiS gear “downwards” from what is recognized as “the gear” to have – because I know I can’t have that gear, can’t push those numbers, and will have to settle for what I can get my hands on.

As I have said before, it’s not about the gear specifically, it’s about parity. I think there are still plenty of people who want to raid 25s and will still do so. I sincerely hope it to be true that everyone can raid the size they want. I know some people really don’t like tens. I really don’t like 25s. Cataclysm has a place for all of us, and I can’t wait! I’m grateful that this isn’t a debate our guild will need to have again. No one will ever need to be restricted – we’ll all raid together. No one will be excluded from the guild because of what their characters may have done in the past. Maybe we’ll never be in the top ten rankings again with the growing popularity of tens, but that’s okay too. I believe we’ve accomplished what we set out to do in this expansion. Although we’re still working on H LK, we won’t be designated as a “strict” guild when we do it, and I am okay with that. Our contribution served its purpose – and we remain completely unchanged in essence and fact.

A few of my favourite things

Having fallen frightfully behind in any kind of regular posting schedule, I decided that the best thing would be to write something, anything. The good folks at Blog Azeroth are always fantastic for coming up with shared topics, and this week’s was suggested by Relevart at Relevart’s Druid Reliquary.

It is a very broad topic open to interpretation that asks, “What was your favourite ____ in Wrath of the Lich King?” I’m going to tackle it in a bit of a categorical way.

Quest
I didn’t have to think too hard about this, truthfully. My favourite quest series in Wrath of the Lich King begins with A Tale of Valor – you pick it up from Tirion. Warning: Pretty major quest spoilers follow, if you haven’t done the quest. It begins:

Perhaps you’ve heard the praises for our missing hero?

Crusader Bridenbrad was in the Broken Front aiding the attack against the Scourge when the undead army came down upon them. The many men of that allied force scattered, but Bridenbrad alone returned and dragged more than a dozen men to safety, one by one through the carnage.

He has not returned since. He was spotted heading to the far northeast, towards the Silent Vigil. Bring him back to me that I might honor him for his valor.

It turns out that Bridenbrad hasn’t died, but is also not entirely well. He’s battling the Scourge’s plague, knowing that when he inevitably does die he will rise again as the very enemy we’re all sworn to oppose. You’ll undergo extraordinary measures to try and save his life, and have an interaction with many major powers in the world while you’re doing it. I think it’s the only quest that has ever actually made me cry. Each of my characters have done it, and at the conclusion I always take a screenshot. It was only when I was going through my screenshots folder that I realized I had so many different Bridenbrad ones.

I have heard some people didn’t like it – but I think it’s worth doing at least once, if you haven’t!

Most recently, Jikali hangs out with a talking chandelier.

Raid
Ulduar was my favourite raid in the expansion, and again there’s very little contest. Unfortunately we joined Business Time fairly late – and I feel that ToC came too close on the heels of Ulduar, but that’s a topic for another time – so for many of the fights we have only experienced the hard modes.

Charles over at Planet of the Hats wrote a really interesting post a few weeks ago touching on just what made Ulduar so great. He said it better than I could, really. For me, Ulduar was awe-inspiring. It’s also the location of what I consider to be my first true and significant raiding accomplishment. My first raid with my tens posse was hard-mode Mimiron, more commonly known as Firefighter. I had never done Mimiron on normal mode. I’d watched the hard-mode video multiple times and written down notes. I really didn’t want to botch it.

During the weeks that we were working on Firefighter, it really became clear who was committed to spending time wiping on something that really wasn’t easy. (Not the guy we caught raiding on an alt with another guild at Firefighter time when we were short on people, and not others who suddenly started to be “mysteriously” unavailable for raids when Firefighter was on the menu). It took us one hundred and twenty-one wipes before we had our first Firefighter kill. The excitement on Vent when we did was overwhelming. Everyone erupted in cheers and it felt awesome.

I’ve enjoyed the challenges that ICC has to offer, for the most part, but the model of “boss hits for x amount harder” model of hard modes is not as interesting and engaging, I think, as the encounters in Ulduar were.

Accomplishment
Algalon! I loved this encounter. Even with vastly improved gear, Algalon does not die easily, and the associated lore and environment are amazing and incredible. I get a wave of dizziness every time the encounter starts and then an adrenaline rush of “IT IS ALGALON TIME.” I love his calm, measured voice and the celestial surroundings – along with the fact that you had to really work to get to him by doing all of the hard modes and earning a key, Algalon is simply awesome. I remember reading over at HoTs & DoTs when Lathere and Cass were first starting on Algalon. At the time, I thought: This is a fight I simply won’t see. Along with the hard-modes they were doing, it just wasn’t in the cards for the guild I was with. I was wrong! Even if I did kill Algalon technically long after he was “relevant,” I’m proud of the work it took to get there.

Your actions are illogical.

Item
Given my answers above it’s probably not going to come as a huge surprise that my most prized possession is my Rusted Proto-Drake. I’d never had a 310% mount before, and frequent character switches had ensured that the violet one achieved through holidays was out of my reach. It’s also my favourite proto-model. (I didn’t used to like their funny vestigial arms but they’ve really grown on me). I just think he looks awesome and I’m proud to fly around on him. I can’t look at him without remembering what we had to go through to get this mount – he truly represents the culmination of many Wrath highlights for me.

After all that fuss, I haven't even named him!

What’s my main again?

I started playing WoW as a priest. It seemed like a good idea at the time. I’d played healers in other games, I liked the idea of being a “support” person, and everything I read about the various classes suggested that priests were the healers. If you were going to be a healer, be a priest!

My priest lasted until about the mid-40s. We had a group of people we grouped with regularly at the time. They consisted of: a prot warrior, a prot paladin, a holy priest, another holy priest, and an arms warrior.

Oh, we were bad. I mean, none of us really had any idea what we were doing, except that everything we were doing took an eternity. I fostered a dislike of Sunken Temple that stems from that time. There is no instance that should take five hours to run. (I’ve since learned, naturally, that it was “smite” DPS that led to this phenomenon. I actually like Sunken Temple now.) But I’d had enough. There was no need for healers, and in the guild we were in at the time there was an abundance of them at max level as well. “We need a real DPS class,” I declared. “I’m making a mage.”

There’s no business like H2O business

I'm conjuring mana strudel!!1!

And so Millya was born. I took to maging like a fish to water (or something burning to…something else burning, if you prefer). I leveled her in less than half the time it had taken me to level the priest. She ripped solo through every zone she went to with no trouble. I loved it.

Mil was my raiding character through the end of Burning Crusade, what I raided of it. She was my first character to eighty without hesitation once Wrath came out. It was only once she was at eighty that there was trouble in paradise. We never had enough healers to field runs, even five-mans. I had actually leveled my priest to seventy in my spare time. She was sitting there; getting her to eighty wouldn’t take much time.

I set my beloved mage aside to help out when it was needed, and I have nobody to blame but myself! No one forced me into it, I made a conscious decision. So it was that the first raiding I did in Wrath – setting foot in Naxxramas – was as a priest. I later replaced the priest with a restoration druid, but the decision had been made. Millya had become an “alt.”

I still stubbornly clung to her, though. She was my chef character, my fishing character, my mount collecting character: the character I would play whenever I had a spare chance. I maintained her gear level with emblem gear. If I hadn’t done so, I never would have had the opportunity to transfer servers and join our current strict ten guild as a raider.

It was glorious! There hadn’t been a mage in the guild in a long time, so everyone marveled at strudels, portals, bonus intellect. I loved raiding as Millya again, trying to do the best DPS I could. I finished off Ulduar with her, she who had barely seen Naxxramas – stepped straight into Ulduar hard-modes and never looked back. She was my Firefighter character, she earned a Rusted Proto-Drake. I raided with her through Trial of the Crusader, Trial of the Grand Crusader, and the beginning of Icecrown. But then a problem arose.

HoT like me

Starfalllll!

We’d lost a few healers, and we were always coming up short. Some encounters favoured two-healing, others we struggled with healing them and we felt that three might make the difference for a victory. Recruiting to allow for enough full-time healers to always have three would mean that we’d wind up having too many riding the bench. At the same time, a mage friend of mine had been looking for a new guild. Two mages wouldn’t be ideal, and I knew he was a really quality player.

What we needed was a hybrid – someone who could DPS when needed, and swap to heals in-between bosses. I’d raided in both roles. I knew that I could do it, and moreover I had the character for it, too. Changing mains to my resto/balance druid, Shaedre, was a no-brainer.

As a balance druid, she brought buffs that the group had previously lacked. Without a warlock we didn’t have 13% additional spell damage. Her resto gear was actually superior to her balance gear initially, so I knew she could hack it to heal content when needed. Millya took a backseat while we went back and finished off Ulduar (we were late to the Algalon game, unfortunately), but still she is my Starcaller.

I mean this literally, because I gleefully wade into trash and cry, “Starfallll!” Shae is my current raiding main and I do love playing her. She’s the one with the Frostbrood drake, earned through weeks of ICC heroic-modes. She got extremely lucky and scored an Anzu mount shortly after we transferred to our new server, too. (Good omens!) When we down Heroic Lich King, she’ll be the one to do it. She’s my character that will finish out this expansion, no question. However…

The little pally that could

The goggles, they do nothing!

There’s this other character I have, you may know her a little bit. She started out as a lark that could basically be summarized by, “Can my patience surmount over 150 instances with pug people?” The answer was yes, but moreover writing about her adventures started this blog, has introduced me to so many awesome people and has been more fun than I could have conceived.

Since we’ve started our weekly alt runs, Vid’s been trotting through ICC happily, and I realized something. I really like paladin healing. Okay, I had a suspicion already, since I quite enjoyed levels seventeen to eighty via LFD. I mean I like it when I’m raiding, too. Suddenly the choice isn’t so clear any more. When Cataclysm comes, I’m not sure which character I’ll most want to experience it with. I suppose it will partly depend on how the classes are changed between now and then, and how it alters my enjoyment of them. (Huge hint: New moonkin art could quite potentially tip the balance. I can laugh good-naturedly, but sometimes being the raid group’s walking, squawking practical joke can get a bit old).

The drawback, though, is that I’m not nearly as comfortable (or skilled) at melee DPS as I am at ranged. A swap from mage to moonkin was pretty intuitive, but a similar swap to retribution wouldn’t be as much so. If I were to play a paladin, it would undoubtedly be as a healer primarily. I remember scoffing when Vid was mid-level, “Oh she’ll never be my main, etc.” You think I’d learn never to say “never.”

Ultimately, it’s going to depend on what the guild needs when Cataclysm comes out. Until then, I’ve had to reconcile myself to the fact that I can’t put too much effort into one character or get fussy about who achieves what and when. Some people have one clearly defined main that they wouldn’t even consider changing. I won’t lie, I envy that a bit! All your achievements and collections in one place is nice. At the same time though, I’ve reallly enjoyed all of the different classes and roles I’ve tried, and I think I’d be worse off for having missed out on them.

I will have to make a choice at some point – just hopefully not any time soon! I remember Cass writing about how her auditions were over. She knew who her main was going to be! I won’t spoil the ending, it’s worth the read. As for me, I suppose I have to admit that Millya’s probably not in the running, simply because she doesn’t have hybrid capabilities and I’m learning that I’m a hybrid at heart. I like being able to fill the role that is needed. For that purpose, a druid and a paladin definitely fit the bill.

p.s. – Big thanks to the generous and talented Loreli of AoD studios for the Vidyala post-it portrait above. I love it! The art for the other characters is my own.

In Which We are Fools to Have Come To This Place

Vidyala has done a little bit of raiding since hitting 80. I sneak her into things like VoA runs, or the weekly if it’s a place like Naxx or EoE or even Ulduar, now that we’re done getting people drakes there for the foreseeable future. (And I’m happy about this, not because I dislike Ulduar, I think it’s fabulous. I just don’t want to see Yogg’s ugly mug again any time soon).

So I’ve been raiding, sometimes even raid pugging. A few weeks back there were a bunch of us from the guild online and so we organized an ICC run. First I picked up a tank I had seen asking in Trade – his gear was good, it sounded like he knew what he was doing. We had one bearface from within our own ranks so that was at least a single tank covered. I would heal along with our resto druid’s alt… resto druid. I have to confess I’m often a bit jealous of people who know so clearly which class they want to play. Oh, they flirt with alts, but when it comes right down to it, there’s one class they love above all else. So they have a main of that class. And an alt of that class. (See: guild mage who just yesterday moved a new character into the guild…another 80 mage). But I digress. So we had from within our guild, a DK, a resto druid, myself as a holy paladin, and a bear druid.

Now, as any experienced pugger will tell you, these are not good odds. We were greatly outnumbered. We didn’t even have enough of us to make a five-man. But, I put out the call in Trade, LFM for ICC 10, need DPS.

I have never seen so many whispers in my life. Seriously, they filled my screen. And I use an addon (WoW Instant Messenger) that is set up to make a sound when I receive a whisper, so that I don’t miss it. The whispers broke the addon sound. It just gave up. I started to sift through them. A couple of warlocks, DPS warrior, some hunters, a mage, a moonkin. To be completely frank, I set up the group with extreme prejudice. I like mages, and I like moonkin, so they were pretty much guaranteed as long as their gear wasn’t bad. Then I even grudgingly invited the warlock because hey, it’s good caster synergy. By the time I was finished looking people up on WoW-heroes, several minutes had passed. The fury warrior was starting to rage at me, whispering me impatiently. Finally he says, “You could at least ANSWER me,” and I felt a pang of guilt. I told him we were all full on melee DPS – not that I’d take someone who loses their shit over a five minute wait and has clearly never organized a pug where it actually matters who and what you bring. He didn’t reply after that, which is probably for the best.

So our motley crew set out to ICC, after I managed to grab a few fish feasts out of the bank. Vent info was passed out and everyone joined. Our little gnome mage, it turned out, gave me the feeling I would have if I were to play WoW with my Mother. She was sweet and, I think, a bit nervous. “I’m an ar-CAN ma-dge,” she told us all. Now that I think about it, what other class would my mother play? One who bakes, naturally! I was extremely glad to have her along, not the least because she was the only one of us who actually had the skill to USE the fish feasts I’d so thoughtfully grabbed from the bank. Whoops.

The hunter ruined my shot with his need to get ready to shoot Marrowgar in the face.

All in all, the ICC pug went… pretty well. Our paladin tank’s microphone was not working, so that was a bit aggravating. Worse, he was the kind of pugger that’s annoying – not because he says or does anything annoying, but because of what he doesn’t say. I have a mental image of someone sitting at their desk – TV on in the background, alt-tabbed out or with dual monitors browsing another website, music blaring on top of that, and, oh I don’t know, a book in one hand. And a drink. So when you ask them something like, “Alright, so you will taunt after you have x stacks of Nasty Debuff,” you’re met with silence. Both in vent (broken mic) and when you try to type it out in raid. Just when you start to throw up your hands in aggravation after typing “Are you there?” and decide the person must be AFK, they say something noncommittal and short like, “yeah no problem,” or the like. Maybe he took a break to do his taxes.

But apart from minor irritations like that, the whole group was quiet, respectful – and eerily silent. I don’t know if a decent ICC pug is a rare beast, or what, but I got the impression that they were all just really happy to be there and didn’t want to mess anything up or irritate anyone. We proceeded to do Marrowgar, Deathwhisper, Lootship, and Saurfant without a hitch. Really, not a single wipe. Then we hit the Festergut wall.

As one of our guildies remarked, “Pugs remind me of why I am in a guild.” I don’t consider Fester to be a really tough fight – it has a few coordination things and a DPS and healing check… oh, the healing check. Let me take a moment to talk about that. You understand, I didn’t heal this fight with characters in just entry level ICC gear before. I’ve healed it as a resto druid – the heroic version – with two other very skilled healers. I’ve never been OMG spam healing the tank before and had him die. I think in this regard I am remiss – if I’m going to be going any further into ICC, I need to do some paladin specific research about it. But more importantly, I think we might need three healers for our alt runs past that point. The raid damage was stupid, and the tank damage was stupider – and I’m not sure if it’s because the mage was barfing on the warlock or what, but here’s where the pug started to get interesting.

The hunter went AFK on our second attempt. He was locked outside the door just standing there, although it didn’t yet actually say over his head that he was AFK. We kicked him and were arranging a suitable substitute when our resto druid had a pet health related emergency and had to go. But the weekly raid quest was the one where you have to bring back a sample of spore yuck from Festergut and OMFGWHATISTHISITSTOUCHINGME from Rotface. With our odds of downing either boss slim (who am I kidding, zilch) someone suggested we could use the cheat-ey sort of method. Apparently if you engage each boss and run them to the door, having some folks stay in as sacrificial lambs and a few others outside, the spores will hit people outside. Then you go on to do the same thing with Rotface – in theory. We did the first thing, and a number of people had the debuff they needed. Of course, being the only healer I was one of the Marked for Death folks.

We proceeded to Rotface to do the same thing. Here I reveal to you a dark secret… Sometimes, I do things. These things, might not be considered the most intelligent things. For instance, in an effort to save our death knight’s multiple debuffs from death by Rotface, I may have…BOPed him. Which may or may not have removed both debuffs. I really couldn’t say. The best part about this was that he instantly blamed the other paladin with great ire in guild chat. “Why would he do that,” etc., and the best part, “STUPID PALADIN.” I turned to Voss (husband exhibit A, not in the raid, but in the room and in guild chat) and said, “Please don’t tell Shaen – there was a stupid paladin involved, but it isn’t the one he thinks it is. I’m just glad there’s another one here to take the blame.”

Yes, that’s right, I tossed my fellow paladin to the wolves… remember, he’s watching a movie, reading a book, reading websites, and possibly preparing a four-course meal during this raid. He’s very busy and important, so it’s too much of a strain for him to type, “Yes, I understand,” with regards to any fight mechanics. My conscience is clear. A few minutes later, though, said Death Knight came to the realization that there was in fact more than one paladin in the raid… one paladin he’d feel immensely guilty about calling stupid had I, in fact, been the one stupid enough to Ruin Everything. He whispered me to apologize.

The best part about the whole thing though was that after I’d stolen his debuffs so cruelly…the whole raid turned to see the mage – the only other person who’d managed to acquire both debuffs – her little gnomish body entombed in a block of solid ice. Why she iceblocked, we’re still not sure. (Why did I BoP the DK when there was no need? Let’s not go there…) I’m of the opinion that she panicked, didn’t want to screw up and get killed, and was trying to save us all. Unfortunately, iceblocking, much like a BoP, removes the debuffs! We were back at square one.

Astoundingly, we still had people with the Rotface debuff, so we only had to re-do Festergut and we had someone with both debuffs. We did not BoP, iceblock, or in any other way interfere with the delivery of said debuffs. The warlock laughed at us running back and forth down the corridor – as we went to turn in the quest we triggered the Trap of A Zillion Geists. He said, “We are such a bunch of muppets!”

I will neither confirm nor deny his claim. But we got to turn in the quest and earn some extra frost emblems! Around this time, the previously AFK hunter whispered Bearface to apologize for having gone away without a word. He said, “My roommate fell down the stairs, and he wouldn’t shut up!” We aren’t certain whether this means he fell down the stairs and was screaming in pain, or that he fell and then insisted on continuing to talk about it. In any case, the hunter was not so callous as to let a friend down (har) and he must have gone to either help the guy deal with his broken bones, or make him tea to soothe the pain. In any case, he missed out on the raid weekly and earned himself a mention.

I’m beginning to formulate a theory as to the likely composition of any pug raid. It’s not very scientific.

There will be:

  • One lady who could be my Mom
  • One guy who is baked out of his mind (in this case, the moonkin, honest to goodness I saw him hitting a blood beast with his Nibelung at one point)
  • One guy who never talks
  • One guy you wish would never talk
  • One guy who apparently is filled with pug rage and rants on and on about how pugs fail, why all pugs break up after Saurfang, how we promised we’d go further, etc.
  • One guy who goes AFK
  • One guy who Knows All There Is To Know About These Fights and is Happy to Share His Knowledge. His very presence causes capitalization.
  • One guy who will do or say something completely random that may or may not coincide with one of the previous categories. Clearly the Hunter takes this prize.

I’m sure there are more, but fortunately we don’t get them all at one time because we try to have approximately half guild to half pug. All-in-all, it was a successful run, good times were had, and I can’t complain because I cleaned up in the loot department. The first thing that dropped was the Frost Needle from Marrowgar. I know, it has hit, but it was still a huge step-up from Seethe. I never thought I’d get my pally hands on it, though – the group had both a mage and a warlock. As it turned out…They both had Quel’Delar. So I took that. The other thing that dropped was the Citadel Enforcer’s Claymore. The only person who could have used this two-handed beauty – our Death Knight – also had Quel’Delar. So I took that too. Later on at Gunship I also wound up with a mail headpiece whose name I can’t currently remember, but it was better than what I had, even though it bears a disturbing resemblance to a moose skull. I have it hidden. And the run – in combination with my epic trash clearing a few weeks earlier, was enough to make the Ashen Verdict feel more friendly about me than neutral, really. They gave me a ring, and I was very happy.

Finally, our proper raid group (no blues, no n00b paladins in sight) deserves a mention here for having cleared out the last parts of ICC we needed to get these Bloodbathed Frostbrood Vanquishers:

This is the one and only time my druid will actually ride the thing, sadly.

Having killed H. Sindragosa on the 13th, we just had a few oddball achievements to finish. We’re still working on the last of these for people who missed them the first go-around; most painfully (of course) the Sindragosa one where her Mystic Buffet debuff must not stack on any raid member higher than five stacks. Somehow the first time we attempted this we did it almost effortlessly. A repeat has been a bit tougher, but we did it again last night. We haven’t really started serious heroic Lich King attempts because we wanted to make sure to get drakes for people first. I’m sure once we do start working on it more it’ll give me plenty to talk about.

Still Very Important

We interrupt your regularly scheduled painful pug discussion to talk about something else near and dear to my heart. (Okay, pugs aren’t always near and dear to my heart, but you know what I mean).

The other morning, I was sitting at my desk working away when I happened to glance over at Twitter. 35 new tweets? Something must have happened. Yes, this had happened.

25 and 10-person raids will now share a raid lockout, and drop the same items.

Maybe I don’t talk about it very often here, since this is where I write about my masochistic aim to heal every Tom, Dick, and Harry of WoW, but I’m the GM of a strict ten-man guild. I wasn’t always the GM so I can’t take credit for conceiving it, but I inherited it a few months ago and it is going strong. I’m even going to blow our own horn for a second and say that we’re 20th in the US for strict tens progression. We’ve done 9/12 heroic modes, we’re working on heroic Putricide and Sindragosa right now. After that, The Lich King! Top twenty is not the absolute pinnacle, but we definitely don’t have anything to be ashamed of when comparing ourselves to other strict tens guilds. Business Time is a hard-mode focused¬† tens guild full of some of the best players I’ve had the privilege to play WoW with. Moreover, they’re all people who deliberately choose to eschew twenty-fives, although the twenty-fivess offer better loot and more emblems. They said to themselves, “Yes, I could get better loot by going the other route, but that’s not what I want to do.”¬† For those who might be unfamiliar with it, ten man guilds typically measure progression rankings using Guild Ox’s “strict” ten man definition. Essentially, when you kill a boss on 25-man (in the case of current progression, Marrowgar 25) it puts up a flag for Guild Ox, you’ve had x number of people in the guild kill Marrowgar 25. This was done in order to prevent people “gaming” the system, and it means that we can have a limited number of people in the guild with that achievement (seven or less). Right now we’re sitting at six. Of course it means that those six people can keep running ICC 25 to get gear, but I think only one person in the guild actually does do ICC 25, possibly two.

Staying “strict” hasn’t always been easy. It means that when we’re recruiting people, we have to keep an eye on what they have or haven’t done, because we could inadvertently exclude ourselves from the rankings. Yes, the rankings are just e-peen, but progression raiding has a component of e-peen. It’s part of how we’re able to attract people to join the guild in the first place. “Yes, it’s ‘just’ ten mans, but look! We’re pretty good for people doing ‘just’ ten mans!” Finding folks who want to join a strict tens guild is also not easy. On a few occasions, I’ve gone after adverts on the recruitment forums – people who specify that they want their guild of choice to be running tens because they really enjoy tens, and I’ll say, “Have you thought about a strictly tens guild?” Sometimes, it even works! The rest of the time, people might not be rude enough to laugh in my face, but they may as well be. The underlying understanding is, “Twenty-fives are real raiding,” but I’m often unconvinced that they don’t just mean “Twenty-fives have the best gear drops.”

It’s always been something we emphasized in BT, that we get loot to raid, not the other way around. Committing to tens raiding means giving up any hope of ever seeing that best-in-slot trinket that EJ has shown will maximize your DPS. It means knowing that you’ll have to work twice as hard to get equivalent gear, but you’ll get badges about twice as slowly. It means that when we downed The Lich King on 10-man, with our 10-man gear, it was a huge deal to me. A twenty-five man guild can go strolling in and do the same thing with their better gear, and I’ll be honest, I don’t consider it as great a feat or as big an accomplishment. It just isn’t. When you overgear an encounter you can guarantee heavier healing from your healers, higher DPS overall from your DPS, and greater survivability from your tanks. The encounters are supposedly tuned for the level of gear they reward, and I believe that largely they are.

The DPS requirements for Heroic Saurfang are brutal. The healing is incredibly unforgiving. It’s heroic for a reason, and I’m so proud of our guild for doing as well with the heroic mode challenges as they have done. All strict tens have been asking for is parity; for the recognition that what we do isn’t a joke, that just because it takes fewer people, doesn’t mean that it’s “easy mode.” I would have been willing to accept the same items dropping in tens as in twenty-fives, even with just lower ilevel and stat allocations. People who do strict tens aren’t looking to take anything away from people who’d rather do twenty-fives. I believe that’s true. I wish I could say the same of all the twenty-fives raiders I’ve encountered, concerned with making sure their e-peen is gilded while leaving those of us who have chosen a different path out in the cold.

Yes, I said “different,” different, not lesser. And that’s been our gripe all along. You can argue difficulty levels until you are blue in the face, but I firmly believe that tens place the responsibility for raid success squarely on the shoulders of each and every player. If one of your two healers dies in a ten man, you just lost 50% of your healing. If a DPS dies, you’ve quite likely lost the DPS you needed to beat the enrage timer, unless you completely overgear the instance. Sure, I might think that ten mans are easy too, if I were running them in my 25-man gear. I’m starting to get really great gear now since our guild has been beating hard modes every week. We’re gradually upgrading our T10 pieces to be sanctified, and each time we do it is not a cakewalk. These are hard-won tokens. They drop from Saurfang, a fight difficult enough to punish all but the most on-the-ball raiders – one missed taunt, one blood beast not carefully controlled, and he gains enough blood power that it probably spells a wipe. When he drops a token we have earned it! Likewise with heroic Blood Queen – she’s pumping out a massive amount of damage and with our current raid DPS we make the enrage but only if everyone bites their intended target on time, and nobody screws up.

Understand that I’m not saying “Boo hoo ten mans are so hard, poor us,” not at all. We like them to be hard. I love the challenge of tens, which is to me, a challenge in play and not a Human Resources challenge. I don’t think I even know twenty-four people in real life I would happily say I’d like to spend three hours listening to. Why wouldn’t I want to raid, with people whose company I enjoy, doing content that challenges us? That’s what I’m already doing, and Blizz is recognizing that what we’re doing is valid and worthy of reaping the same rewards for effort expended. Many people have spoken up about this, pretty much every blog I read has weighed in to say something. I’m not looking to be excessively controversial – what it comes down to is that I’m all about having fun in this game, and I don’t want my fun to interfere with that of other people. I think that people who want to do twenty-fives, can and will still do them. If people stop doing twenty-fives because tens are what they enjoyed all along, then there was something broken in the first place, and I just can’t bring myself to feel bad about it. I’ve spent this entire expansion sifting through gear to find “not best-in-slot but good enough” gear I was able to obtain from ten mans, trying to convince potential recruits that tens were worth committing to, and watching people wearing twenty-five man gear steamrolling ten mans and laughing about how easy they are. It gets old. I think this can best be summed up by a whispered conversation I had with a mage on my server.

Mage: Hey, are you guys recruiting?
Me: Yes, but we really only need a heal/dps hybrid right now.
Mage: lol aw damn, I have bandages!
Me: Heh, yeah, I know how it is to be a pure DPS when people mostly want hybrids.
Mage: Well keep me in mind ok?
Me: Yes. You should know though (I had a fair idea that he hadn’t researched us at all at this point) that we’re a strict ten man guild. We only run ten-mans, we never run 25s.
Mage: lol why would u do that
Me: Because we like it.

An irrelevant point is that the mage ended this conversation by saying something like “Good luck /tapthatass” to me… (I really don’t know, don’t ask). But if I never have to have that conversation with anyone again with them asking, “lol why would u do that?” then that in itself will make these changes worth it as far as I’m concerned. I have many reasons for doing that, I’m happy to expound upon them at great length.