Thought of the Day: 10 and 25 man versions of the same raid instance

Last night was a very exciting one for our raid. For the first time, we were standing in front of the Frozen Throne, looking at the end boss of the expansion. Arthas is the fight we’ve been aiming for ever since we first nervously zoned into Naxxramas all those months ago. Reaching this point (and eventually killing him) has been our raid’s mission statement – as much as it has one.

And yet. I felt curiously empty looking around the raid and seeing how many people were displaying their Kingslayer title, to show that they’d already killed him in a 10 man raid. How exciting could this moment possibly have been for them?

I do increasingly feel like an outsider because I don’t have that 10 man fixed group in which I can learn fights at the same time as everyone else. I used to enjoy progression fights, but now it is often listening to other people tell us what tactics they used in their 10 mans, whining (on our tank channel!!!) that us newbies to the fight don’t learn fast enough, and smugly showing off their raid achievements that we don’t share. That wasn’t really what I wanted from being in a raid group. I thought we’d all be in it together.

It’s food for thought.

The slow but inevitable death of 25 man raiding

As widely reported, yesterday Blizzard released their plans for changing the raid game in Cataclysm.

My bullet point summary:

  • They like having 10 man and 25 man versions of the same raids, so that will continue *cough* lazy *cough*
  • They like the Ulduar/ ICC scheme where raid leaders could decide whether to stick to normal or hard mode on each individual boss. (eg. take the first boss on easy mode, and then hard mode on the next one, et al.)
  • They don’t like that hardcore raiders felt forced to run 10 AND 25 man raids on their characters for optimal gearing up, so ….
  • … 10 man and 25 man raids will share the same lock. This is the big one. No more running the 25 man raids with your raid group and the 10 man raid with your friends in the same week. (Or rather, if you want to do that you’ll need separate alts.)
  • 10 man and 25 man raids will also drop the same loot. Just 25 man raids will drop more of it (more per person, I assume).
  • 10 man and 25 man raids will also be of the same difficulty (*coff* pigs, fly *coff* This is probably a subject for a different post.)
  • There will be two tiers of badges, much like at present. One tier will be available via heroics and will be unlimited, the other will be available from raids and heroic dailies.
  • These badges will also be available via PvP. So now the hardcore will have to PvP as well as PvE (or vice versa), instead of running 10 mans as well as 25.

Someone set us up the 25 man time bomb

Leading large raids is a harsh job at the best of times. It isn’t just due to making sure 25+ people each know what they are supposed to be doing and then checking that they are doing it. Nope, much of the difficulty and challenge of leading large raids is behind the scenes work, making sure that 25 people of appropriate classes and specs turn up on a weekly basis and are ready to raid.

And as if this wasn’t a harsh enough time to be a 25 man raid leader, they now are all aware that if this scheme proceeds as planned, Blizzard is setting them up to fail in Cataclysm.

The particular dilemma of rewards for different raid sizes is this:

  • for the individual raider, 10 mans are often more challenging. Each individual carries more responsibility.
  • for the group as a whole (and specifically for the leader), 25 mans are hugely more challenging. 25 people have to execute the fight correctly, as opposed to just 10. And the logistic overheads of 25 mans are a lot higher. Plus there is often more going on just due to the number of players wandering around.

But WoW is moving towards rewarding individuals for individual effort, and away from rewarding groups for group effort. If 10 and 25 man raids give the same rewards, then the 10 man raids offer by far the easiest path to getting them. At least for the stronger raiders, without whom more casual 25 man raid guilds will flounder.

So raid leaders will be asking themselves now whether enough people will still want to run 25 mans to make 25 man progression viable. To put this in context, you have to understand that for the majority of 25 man raid guilds, there will be a core of players who are more hardcore and a core who are less. It is significantly easier to put together a hardcore progression 10 man raid than a progression 25 man raid because you only have to find 9 other people (assuming that you are one of them). Any time a 25 man raid falters, or wipes more often than people would like, the temptation for the more hardcore 10 people to go it alone and ditch the guys who are holding them back will be there for the taking.

So how many of those more hardcore players will choose progression above 25 mans. The answer is … unknown at present, but never bet against people choosing progression. Or how about people ditching the 25 man because some friends just joined from another server who want to run 10s? Or ditching the 25 man because they found a 10 man group which raids on more convenient days (easier to organise when there are only 10 of you)?

In Wrath, no one had to choose. You could run 10s with your mates or hardcore set and 25s with your usual raid comm. In Cataclysm, everyone will have to choose. Some will use alts for different raids – but still, whenever the 25 man has a hiccough, the danger of people fleeing to the easier to arrange 10 mans will be there, like the elephant in the room.

And now, because hardcore raiders are unable to control their work/life balance – yeah seriously, just say no if you felt you were being ‘forced’ to raid too much —  we’re being forced to choose by being given a choice that isn’t really a choice at all.  The current setup is far better for casual raiders than what Cataclysm offers. There are plenty of PUGs (bored 25 man raiders running 10 mans for kicks or vice versa), casual 25 man raid guilds can flourish … wave goodbye to all of that.

All this has happened before. All this will happen again.

My first reaction to this news was one of those cold flush style flashbacks, you know where you get shivers down your spine? I’d put the trauma of the guild dramas that followed the end of 40 man raiding to the back of my mind.

And now here it is, all over again. People will be ditched from the core ‘clique’ because “sorry, you’re not one of the 10 best.” Guilds that had grown around a 25 man social dynamic slowly losing raiders, bleeding them away until there is nothing left. Drama laden guild break ups.

Will there be a typical Cataclysm guild?

Myself, I view the news with mixed reactions. I have loved running large raids, whether they be the old 40 mans, or the newer 25s. I hope that we can keep running 25 man raids into Cataclysm – however silly it is, I still think there’s a cachet to tanking 25 man raids.

And yet. And yet.

Imagine being in a small scale, tight knit guild with friends which raids together and runs rated battlegrounds together. That will be the Cataclysm model. It does sound fun. But is it worth the number of eggs that Blizzard will have to break?

Like This!

Spicing up farm raids, external auction access, and the Lich King is dead

First up, congratulations to Blood Legion on the world first 10 man Lich King kill. (I did think it was funny that they praise their non-vent voice chat in the bboard post at mmo-champion but their website has an advert for vent hosting.)

I suspect  no-one was surprised that Arthas didn’t even last until the end of the night, and I’ll be amazed if at least one of the EU guilds doesn’t kill him tonight also after our patch goes live. None of which means that it was particularly easy, just top guilds are that good and this isn’t a hard mode that was set up specifically to test them.

edited to add: Yup, as expected, Ensidia got a kill in on 10 man Arthas this afternoon, on their 5th attempt. They comment that some of their raiders were quite moved by the lore and RP, which is sweet.

External Access to the Game and Auction House

Bornakk announced yesterday on the official forums plans to let players access the Auction House without being logged into WoW, either through the Armoury or an iPhone application.

Today, we wanted to give you a heads-up about a new service now in development that will let players access the Auction House directly through the Armory website or Armory App for iPhone or iPod touch.

It’s important to note here that certain elements of the service will be premium-based, which we’ll go into more detail on once the service functionality is finalized.

Player vs Developer discusses some of the implications of this functionality. He suspects Blizzard will require the use of an authenticator to use the Auction House remotely, which does seem likely.

The biggest implication for me is that Blizzard is eyeing up the casual gaming market. Maybe some Farmville fans (who also happen to be WoW players) would also enjoy playing the WoW auction house during lunchtime at work. If this is successful, it could herald the way to more mini-resource management games which could be played outside the game client but still give some bonuses in game. That would certainly fit into the something-for-every-playstyle model of MMO.

I could also imagine far more automation of Auction House activities. Imagine an addon which logged into the AH once an hour remotely and could be set to check current prices on desirable commodities and automatically buy or sell if the price is right. For example: check the price of  titansteel and buy if it is selling for less than 150g.

And finally, Blizzard are showing a marked preference for the iPhone, which has got to be disappointing to anyone with a different smartphone. (Possibly even one that features true multi-tasking :P ) There’s a balance between offering neat functionality to the Apple lovers and saying ‘actually, you really need this gadget to really get the most out of our PC game.’ Although I applaud their business nous at realising that iPhone users will probably happily cough up premium rate subscriptions for the privilege of gaming via their favourite toy.

The Advent of the Weekly Raid Quest

I almost missed this one but today’s patch has also added some extra weekly quests to the Icecrown Citadel. They’re available from various NPCs inside the Citadel, and hopefully we will soon know more about them.

They feature extra mini-bosses, and reward extra frost badges, gold, and … inexplicably … xp. Here’s the quest list from wowhead.com.

I love the idea of throwing in some random extra encounters to spice up otherwise dull farm raids. Comments from wow.com imply that these weeklies aren’t a walk in the park, so they might also add some extra optional difficulty and rewards for guilds that are bored of normal modes but maybe struggling with hard modes.

Raiding and the Great Tank Problem

One of the most difficult things to do in WoW (and probably any game with similar class/ endgame design) is to get a regular spot as a tank in a raiding group.

The reasons for this are basically a pure numbers game. There isn’t room for very many tanks in a typical raid encounter. Often only one main tank. By comparison, every instance or small group needs someone to tank for it. So by the time you get to end game, you need lots of tanks to work the small group content but there’s no room for most of them in raids. Something’s gotta give.

If you have few enough tanks for everyone to get a raid spot then groups will be sitting around for hours waiting for their tank spots to be filled. If there are enough tanks for the groups to form quickly then most of them will never get to tank in raids.

There are other reasons too. Because the main tank is such a singular position, it makes sense for them to need the best gear, the most practice, and be among the most reliable in attendance. Raids are really far too dependent on their tanks, which makes it tough for more casual players to break in.

Add to this the fact that tanks tend to stick with their raid groups. They all know how difficult it is to find a spot as a raid tank so they hang on when they have achieved one. Mature raid groups rarely seek tanks. So as well as struggling to find a spot at all, it’s also not a very mobile role. In a game where you can argue that it’s sensible to move around until you find a group that suits your needs, being a tank is a real detriment. The group you want may not want you (and probably won’t.)

Unsurprisingly, a lot of endgame tanks quit once they give up on getting raid spots. They may respec and try out a different role, but they mostly stop tanking. After all, what’s the point in gathering gear that is intended for content where you’ll never be able to use it? So there is a shortage of non-raid tanks, and then new people roll alts and the cycle starts again.

I’m quite sure that this is why so many people have unplayed warriors and that as soon as the class gets buffed they’ll quite likely switch back to them. There’s an underlying demand from people who want to play the role but can’t, due to numbers.

If you think WoW is bad, EQ2 is worse

This is a post from the EQ2 boards where Nutznichts looked at the class balance in some of their top raid guilds. Four out of the least common eight classes are tanks. It’s worse than it sounds because the most common classes are significantly more common than the least (23 times more common in this sample!)

This is like saying, “If you think you might ever even vaguely consider raiding, don’t roll class X.” And to add insult to injury, the most common classes in raids are not the worst soloers. It is absolutely possible in that game to pick a good soloing class that is also needed in raids. Just make sure it isn’t a tank.

EQ2 is working on the class balance in the next patch, making some of the same decisions that the WoW designers made at the beginning of Wrath and letting buffing classes buff the whole raid. That should even some of the imbalances out. But it won’t help the tanks.

How WoW is trying to help

In Wrath, the situation is better than it has been since vanilla WoW. Ten man raids really do help a lot, because they require tanks in the same ratios as 5 man instances. i.e. a 5 man instance needs one tank, a 10 man raid needs two. So that works. I’d recommend anyone who want to try end game tanking to get into some ten man raids. It’s a good way to learn the encounters, the more geared tanks are probably bored of them, and they do need tanks.

Dual specs helps a lot also. It’s easier than it has ever been to play a character that is dps or healing in 25 man raids and switching to tank in 10 mans and instances. There’s still a lot of work involved, you need to gather two sets of gear, but the game caters much better to that playing style than it ever did before.

But still, tanking for a 25 man group is pretty much the premier tanking content in the game. And it is an experience reserved for very few people, excluding casual players by the intensely competitive nature of getting a spot.

Sure, you can tank for a casual raid group (like I do). But the process of getting that spot is connected with the fact I’ve been playing with them for the last two years. It’s hardly easy.

Is the tank/heals/dps model the problem? Or is it the raids themselves?

It’s the combination of raiding and the standard PvE class model that raises the issues. There are very few games which allow tanking to be a coordinated and shared role in the same way that healing or dps can be. DaoC allowed a tank to block for someone else as long as they were nearby. So raid tanking always involved two people. One main tank and one specialist shield tank who was blocking for them. The shield tank job wasn’t especially exciting but it did let another person have a role in the raid.

You could imagine a game where tanks (or anyone who can pick up a shield) could execute complex roman army-style formations with actual shield walls, wedges, tortoises, and squares.

You could imagine games where tanks have to swap aggro a lot because they can only tank for limited amounts of time.

But I wonder increasingly if tanks are the real problem in the tank/heal/dps model. I enjoy the role, but I also know that I get the lion’s share of the complexity in most encounters. It’s fun, but is it fair that I do all that while dps are getting bored at the back?

The best designed raid encounters keep everyone busy on useful tasks. But I think current class design makes that a tougher challenge than it needs to be. If we got rid of the idea of the main tank and the main tanking classes altogether, it might be that games would become more fun all round.

Otherwise, the majority of tanks are doomed to never see a raid spot.

Ulduar Update

How’s patch 3.1 going for you?

I logged in after the patch and was immediately grabbed to go tank Emalon (new Wintergrasp Boss) in a PUG. We didn’t kill him, but we were improving on each attempt. And then Wintergrasp came up so we did that instead.

After that, I ran off to grab my dual specs. Dual spec joy!

In the evening, we took our first steps into Ulduar. The mood in the raid was electric as we zoned in. People were singing, chattering excitedly, discussing their dual specs, bringing out all the old jokes that probably should be retired by now. It was so very very different from the week before when we were dragging our tired carcasses around Naxxramas again.

We saw lots of other raiders on their way into Ulduar and everyone was waving to each other. Our server was being surprisingly obliging, for once. Things got a little ropier later but Blizzard EU ™ did a fantastic job with it, considering the load.

So we zoned in. Nope, no achievement for just zoning into Ulduar. There were some steps! We ran down them. No achievement for running down the steps?!! Man, we’ve been here 10s and no achievements yet, Blizzard is slacking.

This was forgotten as soon as people caught site of the cool vehicles parked in the courtyard ahead of us. Cue: “get to the chopper” jokes. We didn’t have much of a clue what we were doing so we piled into vehicles:

  • tanks got to drive tanks (YES!!)
  • ranged dps got to be tank gunners
  • healers got to ride choppers (Note: In the UK a Chopper is a kind of kid’s bicycle, which we all thought would have been funnier)
  • and I can’t remember what the other vehicle was but everyone else got those

So I jumped into my tank with a warlock as my rear gunner and together with everyone else, we set off.

The first obstacle is a long gauntlet of (destructible towers), other vehicles, helicopters which need to be shot down, and various bits and pieces for the Demolishers (hah! I did remember the name) to pick up to use as fuel or ammo. It was pure crazy fun. Not knowing what we were doing wasn’t a major hindrance and it didn’t take long to get the idea. I was really enjoying smacking down towers, and steering the tank so that my gunner could get a good angle on the flying enemies.

Then we came to some vehicle healing patches, from which we figured that the boss was close.

Flame Leviathan is an easy fight. Tanks kite him around (wtf is my armoured tank attempting to run away from things? That was weird), choppers weave in and out dropping patches of oil which demolishers can set on fire, non-kiting tanks interrupt his flame jets and … best of all … demolishers can catapault spare moonkins onto Leviathan’s back which is as good a place as any for them, I guess :)

In any case, we one shotted him/her/it although it was quite a close-run thing. Finally, an achievement!

I looked round at the end and there was only my tank and one of the choppers left standing. Everyone excitedly discussed whose vehicle was most fun as we ressed and sorted the loot (another achievement for the first badge of conquest, now we’re rolling), and planned to try next week with some towers up (ie. one of the hard modes).

Now the thing about Flame Leviathan as an encounter is that it’s easy, yes, but also very enjoyable. I defy even the most hardcore of hardcore guilds not to have had fun with their vehicles. This is what a vehicle based fight should be like. It was also a nice boost to more casual raiders coming in for the first time, even if they struggle with the other bosses, they get to see the fun vehicle fight and retrieve some loot.

The NPCs chattered to each other about setting up teleporters and we moved on. There isn’t any trash before you get to the next few bosses, just wide corridors and pretty scenery. And then we got to see what the teleporter was all about, it’s possible to port from the entrance to past Flame Leviathan without having to run all the way back. Nice work, NPCs! You can stay.

We took a brief look at Ignis and started to clear some of his trash mobs. But from discussion with other raid groups, we heard that he was bugged and raid leaders decided to take a crack at Razorscale instead. Incidentally, we kept getting updates which we were in Ulduar about how other raid groups were doing. Raiding on Argent Dawn is fairly tight knit, so many of our raiders have friends who raid with other guilds or groups. And it’s really handy when it comes to passing on information like this, about which encounters to avoid.

Razorscale is hard. There’s a first phase with lots of adds that need to be collected and killed, some which need to be tanked separately because of the badass whirlwind attack and others with a crazy chain lightning. In brief interludes, the captured drake descends and you pile on as much dps as you can before she takes off again. There is also fire. Because all Blizzard encounters have fire that you need to move out from. In a spark of originality, this fire is white.

We spent the rest of the night figuring out how best to handle phase 1. I think we had the tanking mostly sorted, it’s just a case of how best to get the dps onto Razorscale quickly when she lands.

Note: Razorscale and Ignis were both hotfixed on EU servers after the first night’s raiding.

Second Night

I wasn’t there for this one. More attempts at Razorscale, they had her to phase 2 a few times. Then they moved on for some learning wipes on XT-200 which apparently has awesome voice acting. I’ll look forwards to seeing it.

10 Mans

I’m not sure how much 10 man raiding I will be able to fit in now. The weather is brighter and my weekends are becoming more booked up so the regular Saturday run is off the cards, for me at least.

I’m sad, because I did really enjoy running them, but not sad enough to … you know … cancel my social life over it.

Another guildie took over the organising and they took down Leviathan and XT-200 this week. On Sunday I was in an impromptu 10 man which knocked off Emalon and then wandered off to kill Malygos too.

Looking Forwards

I am really looking forwards to getting back into Ulduar for another crack at the drake. But, I know that dps has always been the weak side for our raid group — yes we have some awesome players but we don’t have 16 consistently awesome dps. If Ulduar continues to be heavy dps checks, then I can see us struggling and it won’t matter how much effort I personally put in. We may need more runs through Naxx to gear up newer people also.

But, we’ll see how it goes.

More on Dual Specs

I had always said that I wouldn’t level my druid until I could dual spec her. Last week was that day. She’s now level 72, has healed three instances as a tree and topped the dps meters as moonkin in a fourth.

It’s been fun. Thumbs up for dual specs and for the new looking for group interface.

This was the (raiding) week that was

It’s been quite an interesting week for me in WoW, aside from having rose petals thrown at Spinks all weekend (fortunately only one day left on that holiday). I was involved in minor drama in the 25 man raid, and by contrast my 10 man raid just continues to stomp all over stuff. Every time I set a goal for us, we waltz all over it on the next week’s raid.

In any case, my best raid news is that we have now killed Malygos on 10 man. We also polished off the achievements for the 4 Horsemen (kill them all within 15s) and Kel’Thuzad (kill 18 abominations during the fight). I’ll note down some tactics at the end.

One thing that is really glaring to me is how quickly an encounter moves from being on progression (ie. we haven’t beaten it yet) to being on farm (ie. can beat it reliably every week) in the current content. I can’t with my hand on my heart find this to be a bad thing, it does make the raids more casual and alt friendly. But we also get bored more quickly.

25 man raids really are more annoying

This week we spent all of Wednesday night wiping on Malygos. Our best attempt had him down to about 16%. I didn’t at any point feel that we were one more try away from getting him.

So my gut feeling is that although more practice is needed, our main problem is fast enough dps through phases 1 and 2. The fight is a bit misleading in that respect because normally in a several stage fight, if you can reliably get to the final stage then you know you have it beat.

With Malygos, the timer is tight enough that even if you get to phase 3 every time, you still might not be in a position to be able to kill him. Especially because dps in phase 3 isn’t something you can kick up with buffs, trinkets or consumables (for anyone who doesn’t know the fight: in phase 3 everyone is riding around on drakes and can only use the drake’s innate abilities). So we really do need to sort out stacking sparks better in phase 1, you’d think with two deathknights in the group it wouldn’t be an issue …

I was in a bad mood anyway because I was on off-tanking duty. Phase 2 is the only phase which needs an off-tank, and not for very long. So I was stuck in my tanking gear/spec for the whole fight just so that I could grab a couple of mobs for 30s or so. I was finding this very frustrating, especially because we actually had two feral druids in the raid who could have done it. I’m not saying that my poor protection dps stopped us getting the kill, but it can’t have helped.

I was told off afterwards for being passive-aggressive (I didn’t think I was being very passive, to be honest, and the bitching was all in the tank channel anyway), and one of the raid leaders told me that it wasn’t the first time. I also got the talk about how we had to work as a team and that meant not arguing with raid leaders on forums. Since I don’t recall having any actual arguments, I interpret this as meaning they prefer me not to disagree with them. Note: I don’t make a habit of arguing about tactics in the middle of a raid.

Whatever. I apologised profusely, as you do, and resolved to just let them do things their way in future.

I feel more uncomfortable in the raid now than I had in the past. I had assumed that this whole being a team thing meant that it was generally a good idea for me to chip in with my opinions. It’s just another thing that makes me want to flee to the 10 mans where  if people disagree with my tactics or have better suggestions, I weigh up their arguments and  then decide.

I suspect everyone was just a bit grumpy on Wednesday  night.

10 mans continue to rock

Saturday evening rolled around, and I ran a Valentine’s Day Naxxramas raid. What could be more romantic than slimes, spiders, maggots and zombies?

This was the first time I had to really weigh up raid composition because we had 3 tanks sign up. So what this meant was that one of us would need to switch to dps or healing. Since we also had 2 healers who had signed, it left the choices down to whether I would switch to dps or whether the paladin would since I prefer to have the feral tanking. He had always made it clear that healing was his offspec, which left it down to me.

So if I feel a bit down about tanking this week, it’s because not only was I forced to OT Malygos-25, but I also didn’t even get to tank my own 10 man.

I decided in the end to bring my warlock, which was the first time we’d had an alt in the 10 man. Because of it being Valentine’s my husband nobly let me use Curse of Agony to inflate the numbers a bit and in the event I was hitting about 2k dps which is fine, really. We even picked up Arachnoph0bia  although I explictly said ‘We’re not trying for Arachnophobia, we’ll loot after each boss’. I also made out on gear like a bandit.

This turned out to be a good decision because the raid stomped all over Naxxramas and then went on to kill Malygos (where having an extra warlock was a bonus).  We had spent a couple of hours wiping on him a few weeks back, this time we went in and got him on the third try.

But I was most proud of the raid for the four horseman achievement. I knew that we were good at speed runs, which is why I wanted to challenge them with a more control/finesse type of achievement.

As of next week, we’ll definitely open the sign ups to alts. And assuming we make good time in Naxx, we’ll definitely go on to Malygos afterwards.

Tactic thoughts: And they all would all go down together (10 man)

You will need three healers for this fight. We used two fully specced healers and one shadow priest in healing gear.

The trick here is that it is a control fight. So you need to be able to dps down all four of the bosses in a controlled way, and then burst down the last few percent very quickly at the end simultaneously.

At the front, we used one tank, one melee, and one healer on each boss. After every three marks, the front tanks run towards each other and taunt each other’s boss, and then bring it back to their original corner. Because of Thane’s meteor, we waited for the first meteor to drop after the third mark went up and then did the tank switch. The healers and melee can stay in their corner. The idea with having the melee there is to help soak meteor damage.

At the back, we had two ranged to ‘tank’ the bosses and a healer to heal both of them.

That makes 9. The last dps was a ‘floating’ ranged dps who helped keep the two back mobs on an even footing and also helped whoever had the worst burst damage to get their mob down at the end.

So when the fight started, I told people to dps the mobs down to 50% initially. By that time, we knew we had the tank switching sorted so then we took it down to 10%, then 5%. At 3% we had the last tank switch at the front, and then it was into KILL IT KILL IT KILL IT time.

There is a moment right at the end where you can see them on all really low health and your heart skips a beat and you wonder, did we …. and then the achievement comes up. Hurrah.

I like this achievement in general because although it isn’t hard, it does test everyone in the raid. As a raid leader, my main concern was whether the shadow priest would be able to heal through the meteor for the whole duration. As it turned out, this wasn’t an issue.

Tactic Thoughts: Just can’t get enough (10 man)

This one is a simple numbers game. You need to kill 18 abominations during phase 1. Some will wander into the raid anyway. When you pull the abominations from an alcove, you’ll get 3-4 of them and the rest of the alcove generally stays put.

So we had our druid keep an eye out for the regular abominations, casters stay focussed on the skeletons and banshees, and our paladin pull abominations from 4 different alcoves during phase 1. They do have a mortal strike so the tank needs to wait for that to fall off before pulling the next set.

And then once you are into phase 2, just kill him as usual.

Tactic thoughts: Malygos (10 man)

You can get the general tactics from somewhere like tankspot. The tactics are the same for 10 man as for 25 man, although there are fewer adds in the 10 man encounter and Malygos doesn’t hit as hard.

We did find that this encounter favours casters because they can keep casting as he starts his vortex. Warlocks in particular are laughing because if you stick your teleport circle in the middle of the platform, you can port out of the vortex, take no falling damage, and keep nuking. Casters can also keep standing in the sparks and nuking at the transition between phases 1 and 2.

Having a death knight or dps-style druid around helps with spark management because they can either be grabbed or rooted (we had a moonkin with us this week). The idea is that you’d like to stack them some place where melee can stand in the sparks but the boss doesn’t. Fortunately he has a big hitbox.

The tactic which worked best for us in phase three was for everyone to spread out around him and keep a stack or two of HoTs on themselves. Then the general rotation is 1-1-1-2 which should leave everyone with enough energy to use their shield when focussed. We had previously been having everyone on top of each other with one assigned healer but we found that this ‘every man for himself’ was less prone to everyone being wiped out by a static field.

Arachnophobia!! And raiding summary

Arrrgh, I hate spiders. It’s not a fully blown phobia but it is a reaction that goes beyond logic. Arrgh spider!! Must get it out of here KILL KILL Arrrrgh! Possibly accompanied by involuntary squeaking noises (on my part, not the spider).

I could  happily live without every MMO designer in existence being almost as infatuated with giant spiders as they are with bears and pigs. Or as my husband said about Tarren Mill: Who would have guessed that bears and giant spiders could live together in such harmony?

I also hate tanking the giant spider bosses, especially if they look remotely realistic. I just don’t like it.

My raid are of course sympathetic to my personal bane and support me by giggling madly every time I squeak in horror at seeing a bunch of teeny spiders hurtling down a ramp towards me. In WoW, you can also use a reagent (Baby Spice, don’t ask) to miniaturise players and NPCs and one of our rogues who also hates spiders is very sweet and shrinks the really huge ones for me.

Yes, yes, it’s all daft. But I still don’t like spiders.

Bear with me, the spider fixation is relevant this week because we got the Arachnophobia achievement (clear the spider wing in Naxx in under 20 mins) on both 25 man and 10 man. More on the tactics for this at the end.

Summary: 25 Man

Most important part: I won my bet with the raid leader from last week. We did one shot Thaddius. I had actually forgotten about the bet until one of our mages reminded me. I passed this on to the raid leader, she said (and I quote), “Might have guessed that dweeb would stitch me up,” and we agreed that instead of 100g I’d send her a frozen orb and she could make me some leg armour.

We had a great night on Wednesday. Cleared out the Spider, Plague, and Construct wings and also one-shotted Instructor Razuvious with two priest-tanks who had not done the mind control before. It’s very obvious that our dps has increased across the board, a couple of weeks of good raids in a dungeon full of bosses will do that for you.

They cleared out the rest of the instance on Thursday and went on to take a few pot shots at Malygos, getting him to phase 3 a couple of times.

Regardless of deep wounds nerfs, our fury warrior still tops the meters in most fights. He’ll be a terror when he actually does get a weapon upgrade from the raids.

In other notes, I hate tanking trash alongside a paladin. Yes I have good AE snap aggro but after a few seconds the mobs all glom back onto him. Was bitching with one of the ferals about this, she complains also that paladins are ‘greedy’ tanks. Must surely be time for consecration to get nerfed soon.

Summary: 10 man

Another super run this Saturday night which cleared Naxxramas in under 4 hours. We knocked out a few more achievements: Arachnophobia, Safety Dance, 100 Club. Only one wipe on Sapphiron due to someone getting ice blocked too near the centre.

Despite us making the best speed that we ever have, I didn’t feel entirely happy with the run. People were being a little messy with some of the trash pulls, there were deaths on trash that could have been avoided and I didn’t feel people in general were as focussed as they had been in the past.

We also missed the Patchwerk achievement by 19s. I think this will happen eventually as people gear up but it’s hard not to feel that if we’d have any other tank than a warrior, we could probably have made it (warriors do less damage while tanking than the other tanks, or at least I do.)

Have decided to focus next week on more of the ‘control’ achievements, depending if the signups support it. I’d like to aim for the achievement where you have to kill all four horsemen at the same time. Have informed people of this on guild bboards, which should keep them happily theorycrafting all week.

HOWTO: Arachnophobia

This achievement is for a speed run. You have to kill Maexxna in under 20 minutes from when you pulled Anub’Rekhan. Tactics are the same for 10 man as for 25 man. There’s not really a specific strategy for this, instead a few pointers to keep things moving:

  1. Speed up the looting. We actually left the loot on the corpses and ran back after we’d cleared the wing to sort it out. They stay there for ages.
  2. Brute force on Faerlina. Either kill the adds first or ignore them but don’t wait for her enrages.
  3. Sort out the assignments in advance. Everyone should know who is tanking which boss and what the healing assignments on the boss fights are before you start.
  4. Chain pulling the trash. You have 2-3 tanks, keep moving. By the time you do this achievement you should know roughly where the trash packs are and where the patrols might be. As a tank, keep an eye on what the other tanks are doing, and as soon as you’re free go pull something.
  5. Solid dps. It’s not a difficult achievement but in order to keep some speed up you’ll probably want your dps to be making 2k+.