Friday, February 19, 2010

Icecrown Raid Updates

Earlier in this year we restructured our raid teams to get more people involved in Icecrown. We had been running one team because it was simple enough to fill that team each week, and it wasn't a strain on the weekly schedule. And also because we only had one raid leader, me. But that left us with a number of able raiders who didn't get to raid as often as they liked because we could only take 10 at a time. We discussed doing a scheduled rotation, but I was against that plan. I worried that it would just compound the problem we were having, namely that people weren't getting to raid as often as they wanted to. Rotations wouldn't fix that, they would just distribute the "not raiding" equally across the members.

We had enough members, and so we eventually ended up with two separate and individual teams. Our rules were simple. To avoid one team being cannibalized by the other in the event of no shows or scheduling, neither team could take a main raider for the other's use. Alts were up for grabs as long as people were willing. We did our best to allocate people to each team based on class, role, and approximate skill levels, and I think we did a pretty good job of it. We still didn't have a permanent raid leader for the other team, but we were going to use sub leaders until someone stepped up.

So that's the context for the rest of this post. I lead one of the teams weekly on Tuesday and Friday nights now. We've been very lucky in that we haven't had any major scheduling problems with people to the extent we couldn't raid one of the weeks. Granted, this has only been going on for a month, so our time will come. Hopefully with enough advance notice, we can reschedule or sub people in to make it still happen. The other team raids Thursday/Sunday, and they've struggled a bit on getting people together on one or two nights due to scheduling problems. Just the other night, Lal and I were able to help with our alts to fill some holes though, so the system seems to be operating as expected, and doing well.

The heart of this, though, is our progress. Last week, my team got our first kills on Blood Prince Council and shortly thereafter, Blood-Queen Lana'thel which had us very excited. We'd spent the previous 3-4 weeks wiping to Rotface and his oozes. A victory over the Crimson Halls really encouraged our abilities as raiders and as a team. We're going back into Icecrown tonight with the Lower Spire and Festergut down, so we'll start with the Blood Princes and attempt to finish them and their Queen off with fewer wipes than last week.

Rotface has me stumped. We originally had our paladin tank kiting oozes and our bear tank on Rotface. Even when we got better at avoiding slime sprays and kiting the small oozes to the big ooze, we were still dying at around the magical 4 minute mark when the oozes became too much to handle. Rotface never got much lower than 25%. The next time, we changed it up, and I kited oozes while maintaining some DPS on Rotface and the paladin tank went DPS. We had a lot better success with this strategy, but we still couldn't get him down. I think our best attempt had him with less than 5% health. The causes of these wipes were mostly getting a second big ooze in the middle due to people not dragging them out in time. Avoiding slime sprays also seemed to be a bit tricky. Our DPS was a lot better though, and with just a little more we thought we could get him. We spent a whole night on Rotface, and 24 wipes later, we were defeated.

I'm expecting to beat the Crimson Hall again tonight. After which we will return to Rotface to claim our victory. I think with a few more tries, the hunter kiting strategy will work, but it takes everyone being on the ball about moving out with their little slimes and side stepping out of those slime sprays. The other hang up usually happens when the big ooze explodes, and the transition out of the center of the room and back is usually very rough. We tried to two heal the encounter to help get the DPS up, but then people were dying to much to little oozes and puddles, so we went back to three healers. I don't really know which is better, but what's important is that we find a way that works.

After that it's Putricide time. We haven't fought him yet, but I'm hopeful, so very hopeful, that he's not going to be as hard as Rotface. Compared to all of the other encounters, Rotface is an exponential increase in difficulty for our raid. I don't know if it's the same way for most other people, but Rotface seems to play to our weaknesses much like Yogg-Saron did in Ulduar. But Rotface isn't the final boss, so the difficulty level was a bit unexpected. Putricide has some fun mechanics as well, but much like we were able to get the Blood Council and the Blood-Queen, think a few hours on Putricide will spell his doom. But don't quote me on that.

We briefly tried the Dreamwalker fight in Icecrown where the Healers take center stage in healing Valithria. We were overwhelmed with adds and wiped twice before calling it for the night. We got a taste of it though, and we'll soon be working on the nuances. For now, I'm deciphering the best plan of attack to make the most of our raid nights. It's a fairly simple task to clear the lower spire and Festergut in about two hours on Tuesday. But depending on how we do tonight in the Crimson Halls, I may start trying to clear the lower spire and then through Blood-Queen all on Tuesday night to make way for doing the harder wings on Friday.

All three of my 80s are Icecrown geared now. Elionene the most, obviously, but Khristin is doing very well on gear. I just need an off hand and a nice trinket for her. Salthier is borderline, and I've discovered that there are very slim pickings when it comes to bear tanking upgrades that you can obtain outside of raiding. All of Lal's 80s are Icecrown ready too, which makes us prime candidates for filling in spots on teams when needed, and we like it that way.

We're going back in with the second team on Sunday. I love healing it on Khristin, my Shaman, and I've been tinkering with her glyphs and spec to be a little more productive. I expect us to do very well, hopefully getting Blood Princes down, though I'm not sure if that's what they'll be working at. In that role, I'm not the leader, so it takes a bit of effort from me to hold back and just follow orders. Something I definitely need to work on.

Between the two teams in Icecrown, a group of people doing hard mode Ulduar fights, and some random raids here and there, Veritas has been cementing itself as one of the best 10 person-strict guilds on our server. I'm proud of that, and I'm looking forward to continuing our progression and maintaining that status.

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