Category Archives: Achievements

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times

Last night, Apotheosis killed Will of the Emperor on 25-man Heroic mode. It was, without a doubt, the most difficult fight we had encountered this tier. Hell, it was probably the most difficult fight we had ever encountered as a guild. I know it may just seem that way since it’s fresh in my memory, but I’m pretty sure it was tougher to execute than Heroic Spine or Blackhorn by the time we got to them, and nothing from T11 or 12 that we tackled (we didn’t really work on H. Ragnaros) sticks out as being this hard.

It took us more than 100 attempts over 7 raid nights to get this boss down. We changed strats often. Kill Rages 8 at a time, kill every pack, now back to 8. The strategy that finally worked for us was to kill packs of 4 or 8 during the first round then CC and kill all 12 at a time in between each add break period.

Heroic Will is a complex fight that requires a ton of organization. We need a CC order any time we’re controlling Rages. We need 4 tanks (2 on bosses and 2 on Strengths). We need slows assigned to Courages. Every dps needs a primary target (Rages? Courages? Strengths? Bosses?), then they need a secondary target when theirs isn’t up or is being CC’d. We need assigned Spark soakers. Hunters can soak every pack of Rage Sparks, the Strength tanks can soak their Sparks, a Rogue and Moonkin can soak the Courage Sparks – oh but wait, the Moonkin’s won’t be up for the middle one, he’ll need externals or a backup soaker. Then we need extra backups to Soak in case anything gets missed. The only part of this fight that did not require an inordinate amount of organization was the healing, for which I am grateful.

On top of the organization, execution needs to be pretty close to perfect. Lose focus for one second and stand too close to a Spark – you’re dead. Dance with the boss and mistime the swings – you’re dead. Stand next to a pack of Rages who are rooted – you’re dead. Pop your cooldown a second too late or early while soaking Sparks – you’re dead. Strength gets away from its tank and does a smash – a few people are likely dead. A second late on your Ring of Frost or Gorefiend’s Grasp on the Rages – they go everywhere and soon everyone is dead.

The thing about this fight I didn’t like was that it really required some degree of class stacking. When I asked people for tips when we were going into this fight, having a couple DKs for Gorefiend’s Grasp to control the Rages was always mentioned. Problem – we have one DK on our roster. I’m really not a fan of bringing alts into raids. I don’t think we should have to, and I don’t think it’s fair to anyone. However, after nights of failed attempts, I finally gave in and we had one of our Monk healers switch to his DK (whom he had raided on throughout Cata). We still had a ways to go after this, but controlling Rages got much better. Killing the Rages and soaking the Sparks is 100x easier when each pack can be gripped into one spot – which is something that couldn’t be done with only one DK. The fight also requires a lot of Spark soakers. Hunters are optimal since they have a 100% deflection every minute. Shadow Priests are good too, though their cooldown is longer. Rogues can soak well. Feral Druids and Monks are good for soaking single Sparks. Through Symbiosis, Resto and Balance Druids can soak as well. Apoth has 2 Hunters, 1 Shadow Priest, 1 Rogue, 1 Feral, 1 Resto Druid, 1 Balance Druid. One night, both of our Hunters were unable to raid. Result? We were unable to even attempt to do Will. We probably could have worked out a complex rotation of Rage Spark soakers but it would have left us no backups and no room for error. I really wasn’t a fan of the roster restrictions this fight put on us.

This fight really wore on people. Spending whole raid nights where our attempts didn’t progress past the 4-minute mark because of a couple mistakes got frustrating quickly. The fight was exhausting and tired people make more mistakes. There was one point when I even considered whether to not we were capable of succeeding on this fight as a guild. Had we met our skill cap? When Bashiok said 5.2 was going to be released on February 26th I thought about how absolutely soul-crushing it would be for guild morale if we spent all this time on this fight and didn’t get a kill.

Thankfully, we had not reached our skill cap, and it felt pretty damn amazing to finally see those bastards go down and see the Cutting-Edge raid achievement pop up on my screen. I’m really proud of my guild for their persistence – fighting through a non-optimal roster, adapting to strategy changes until we found one that worked for us, not losing focus after a heartbreaking 800k wipe.

For me personally, Heroic Will was full of ups and downs. At first I was excited about the amount of utility I could offer the raid. Aside from knockbacks, and options for CC, HotW could let me help on dps during breaks, I could Symbiosis a hunter and Deterrence would let me help soak Sparks. But there was a problem. I was bad at soaking Sparks. No, I wasn’t just bad – I was fucking terrible. I’d use Deterrence too early and it would wear off before I hit the last Spark. Over our first two raid nights this happened a lot. Way too much. In my eagerness to help, I was only succeeding in killing myself half the time. I felt awful and like a complete and total failure. Hearing our raid leader sigh and say “Please rez Jasyla” so many times was terrible. Thankfully, I got better. Actually, that’s probably not the truth of it. The thing that made the biggest difference was that our controlled killing of Rages got much better. They died closer together, Sparks spawned closer together, Hunters were able to get them all without the need for backups. By our latter attempts I only occasionally had to soak 1 stray Spark on its own, and that I could handle.

If I can put aside my Spark shame for a moment, I’m pretty happy with how I did on our actual kill. (However, if you’re watching our kill video, ignore the part where I need a rez). I felt really useful. My healing was good. I never stopped moving as I bounced between our two Strength tanks, healing them up when they soaked a Spark. I was able to do a couple million damage with HotW during one of the break periods (in between running between the Strength tanks). I picked up Mass Entanglement and helped to control the first set of Rages after each break, affording our Mages some more dps time on the boss before they had to start CC’ing. I used Ursol’s Vortex to help CC later on. I even soaked a stray Spark (on purpose, without it killing me).

It was certainly a rough ride, but I’m so happy we managed to complete this really challenging fight. I feel more confident and more excited about entering T15 with Heroic Will under our belts. 

Three Years

It’s that time again. With the holidays comes yet another blogging anniversary. I’ve now been at this for 3 years. I usually take this time to talk a bit about how many posts I’ve written and comments I’ve received throughout the year. This year, WordPress has done it for me (isn’t that nice?).

I certainly got a lot more visits than I did in previous years, though my rate of posting was a little slow this year with only 51 new posts. You’d think since I was unemployed for 10 months I’d have all the time in the world to write blog posts, but with a great amount of spare time came a great lack of motivation.

Judging by my most visited posts this year and the search terms people find me with most often, Druids really like their gear lists! To be completely honest, gear is my least favourite thing to write about, but I’m happy people find those posts useful.

Next year I hope to pick up my posting pace a little and try to write at least a post a week. I want to update my World of Logs guides for healers early in the new year (maybe if I say that out loud I’ll be more likely to do it). I’m also hoping to broaden my horizons a little bit and write about topics not confined to Druids.

In game, I’ve had a good year. There are two things I’m particularly proud of. First, I think Apotheosis (we’re recruiting!) has done really well so far this expansion. Our raid team leveled quickly, even getting some realm firsts along the way, and aside from a couple bosses that gave us more problems than they should have, I think we’ve been progressing at a good pace. On November 29th we completed all normal mode raid content and since then have killed 3 heroic modes. I’m very proud of my guild. Good job team :)

Apotheosis and Sha of Fear
I’m also really pleased that my challenge mode team was able to get Golds in all of the Challenge Modes, which got me my one and only server first Feat of Strength, a cool mount and the best transmog armor ever. They were also a lot of fun to do.

Challenge Mode Conquerors

Thank you to everyone who has read my blog, left me a comment, shared a post or talked about Druids with me on Twitter. That’s a big part of why I’ve been doing this for as long as I have.

Here’s to a great 2013, with more boss kills, more blog posts and less unemployment.

Undaunted

One of the things I’m most enjoying in Mists of Pandaria, besides the excellent new raid content, is Challenge Modes. CMs solve the problem of dungeons becoming boring. Heroic dungeons start off a bit tough when you’re doing them in greens, but put on a few pieces of raid gear and the difficulty becomes laughable. In CMs, all your gear is scaled down to ilvl 463, so the only things that makes them easier are practice and skill.

The Bronze level of Challenge Modes are pretty accessible. I found most of them were easily achievable on the first run through. You can wipe a few times and still be well within the time limit. Silvers are a large step up in difficult as they generally have about half the time requirement as bronzes. This is where you need to step up your game – trash needs to be chain pulled, healers have very little time to drink and while you may be able to recover from one wipe, it’ll be tough. Golds are very challenging (as they should be). You basically need to pull as much trash as you can at once, you need to find a way to skip any trash you don’t need and your group’s dps needs to be as high as possible. Be prepared to run the dungeons over and over, resetting any time something goes wrong.

Generally, the trash packs are the most challenging part of the dungeons. Bosses do hit much harder than in the heroic mode dungeons, but it’s the trash that’s going to be the thing that kills you more often than not. Cleaves will kill your melee, a wrong step or being a second late on a cooldown will result in your tank being globalled by the 12 mobs attacking them.

My regular Challenge Mode group consists of a Blood DK tank, Rogue, Mage, Ele Shaman and me (Resto Druid). I think Druids are a great asset to any challenge mode team and I love how CMs force me to think critically about my talents and abilities. I get to use many abilities that are often ignored in other situations.

Since the trash is usually the most difficult part of the dungeon, especially when you’re pulling multiple packs at a time, the more cc available to your group the better. Once trash is rounded up we try to make sure they are incapacitated for as long as possible. Abilities we chain together include Ring of Frost, Remorseless Winter and Capacitor Totem. Our rogue uses Paralytic Poison to keep things stunned as much as possible. As a resto Druid I can help with cc too. I use Disorienting Roar when the stuns are down – it doesn’t work for long since it breaks on damage, but it gives a slight reprieve from damage and interrupts spell casting. I can Typhoon if it will do more good than harm (that’s not always the case). I also put Symbiosis on our Shaman, allowing him to use Solar Beam to further incapacitate casting mobs.

Skipping trash is something that needs to be done in a number of the dungeons in order to save time. There are a few options for this. First there’s Shroud of Concealment. This will work in most situations, you just need enough room to get around the mobs so you don’t aggro them. Sapping the one you’ll be moving closest to can be required. You can also use Potions of Invisibility. These are easier to use as once they go into effect you can run right through mobs without them seeing you. The downside is that they trigger a 10 minute cooldown on potions so it limits your group’s ability to use dps or mana pots. There are also some trash packs which can be aggroed by one player then reset, allowing the rest of your group to run by them.

There are a few other really useful abilities that resto Druids bring to challenge modes. The first is Stampeding Roar. When speed is of the essence, this is great to help your tank aggro multiple packs, make Invisibility pots take you further, or just get from point a to point b faster. Heart of the Wild is also great. When I first started challenge modes I was hesitant to spend much time doing damage because I felt like people would die if I stopped healing them for even a second. However as I got more comfortable, and my group got better with cc, I found there were a number of opportunities for me to do some damage. On trash packs HotW plus Hurricane can do a lot of damage, though channeling instead of healing can be dangerous. I find HotW most useful on bosses where the healing requirements aren’t too high. Just let your tank know to use their own cooldowns, pre-stack Lifebloom, put up Ironbark, pop the ability and go to town. Doing this is especially helpful on fights where phase repeats are based on time, such as the last boss in Temple of the Jade Serpent – if you can prevent seeing phase 2 more than once you can save a lot of time. Soothe can also be very important when you run into trash mobs or bosses who enrage.

Challenge modes are a lot of fun and I recommend everyone give them a try. They’ll really make you work hard to use every possible advantage available to your class and spec and allow for some creative puzzle solving. They’re also a great source of Valor Points, and much more enjoyable than the alternatives of LFR, random dungeons, or dailies. The rewards for getting all bronzes, silvers or golds are nifty too, and are made even more attractive by the idea that these modes will never be nerfed or outgeared, so they will stay relatively exclusive.

One gold down, 8 to go.

Thursday Tidings

The last week or two in WoW have been fairly eventful for me, even with so many people distracted by Diablo 3. I haven’t put a ton of time into WoW, but I feel like the time I have spent has been productive and rewarding.

Podcast

Team WaffleFirst of all, I was on the Team Waffle Podcast on Friday night. We talked about the latest changes to Druids in the beta, the new talent trees and how I feel about Heroic resto raiding in Cataclysm. The podcast is now available on the Team Waffle site, or on iTunes. (I’ve also added a new page to my blog under About, with links to all the podcasts I’ve done – Jasyla Speaks.)

Raiding

Glory of the Dragon Soul Raider

After killing Heroic Madness of Deathwing 2 weeks ago, Apotheosis spent the last 2 weeks doing all the meta achievements for Glory of the Dragon Soul Raider. Now all of our raiders have shiny new Twilight Harbingers (though some of our Initiates still have an achievement or two left to get). Getting the meta achievements was a lot of fun. My favourite part was doing the red-green ooze combination on Heroic Yor’sahj – I could practically feel all the healers holding their breath as the oozes hit and our ranged dps started taking 150k Searing Blood hits. We lost a few people, but got through it without too much problem. The worst achievement, without a doubt, was Holding Hands on Hagara. We attempted this a number of times on 25 and it is just so, so buggy. Kurn meticulously placed every raider around the room so the lightning would chain properly, everyone stood where they were supposed to, and then the lightning just wouldn’t chain. It would hop from person to person and then at some point, it would just stop and refuse to hop again. We ended up doing the achievement on 10-man mode which was much easier, but it was annoying that we had to do that.

Next week we’re back to clearing heroics to get everyone all the gear they want and get as many Lifebinder’s Handmaiden and Blazing Drake mounts as we can. I really, really want a mount that looks like Alezstrasza. :)

Apotheosis is still recruiting, so if you are an excellent player (especially a warlock or a shadow priest) and would like to come clear Dragon Soul with us and have a great place to raid in Mists, come apply.

Twilight Harbinger

PVP

I’ve been doing a lot of PVP over the last few weeks. I’ve been doing the arena pass with a Rogue and shadow Priest. We were mostly doing it for the pet and title and last night we finished our 100th game. We ended the tournament with a rating of 1640 which puts us in the top 500 on the arena ladder. I’m happy with that, though 3s always make me feel a little underpowered as a Druid. Looking through the comps of all the teams in the tournament is very telling. Out of the top 2000 teams, the healer class breakdowns look like this:

  • 511 teams have a Priest healer
  • 456 teams have a Shaman healer
  • 341 teams have a Pally healer
  • 100 teams have a Druid healer

What makes it even worse is that 80% of the teams with a Resto Druid have a rating of less than 1500 (while only about 60% of the teams with any other healer are below 1500). The only thing that makes me feel good about being a Druid in the tournament is that my mana bar seems to go on forever while the other healers go oom much more quickly – 95% of the time I give my Innervate to the shadow Priest. But other than that, I feel like being a Druid is a bit of a handicap. Here’s hoping that resto PVP is in a much better place in Mists.

In other PVP news, last night I reached 1800 rating in RBGs. I’m really excited about this one. Knight-Captain Jasyla has a nice ring to it. Now I just need 24 more wins to get my Spiky Pony – I love that mount.

Knight-Captain Jasyla

More Achievements!

Lastly, after months (or years) of spending time roaming around Northrend looking for rare spawns, I finally found Vyragosa and King Krush to give me the Frostbitten achievement.

Frostbitten

Now I don’t know what I’ll do with myself when I’m waiting on arena/BG queues. Maybe fish for a sea turtle?

All the achievements from the last few weeks have put me up to 13380. I’m hoping I can get up to 13500 at least before Mists.

What have you been up to?

Saviours of Azeroth

Apotheosis kills heroic Madness of Deathwing, 25

This picture was shamelessly stolen from apotheosis-now.com since I was too distracted to take a screenshot myself.

Well, we did it. Apotheosis killed Deathwing. After far too many attempts to get down Blackhorn and Spine we got through the final boss of the instance relatively quickly. On our 8th attempt last night we got ourselves a very clean  kill that took just under 14 minutes.

I’m so happy to have cleared all of the raid content before the next tier came out. This is the first time this has happened for me since hard modes were introduced in Wrath of the Lich King. There are things left to do – make sure all the Apotheosis raiders who missed the first kill get to kill him, finish up the meta achievements and collect mounts – but it feels nice to have conquered all the bosses.

According to GuildOx, Apotheosis is now ranked 250th of all the 25man guilds in the US, which I’m pretty chuffed about.

Apotheosis is still recruiting!

If you want to join us for some Deathwing kills, get a fancy meta drake and have a great place to raid in Mists of Pandaria, you should come fill out an app.

We are particularly looking for Warlocks, Hunters, dps Warriors, Ret Pallies, Shadow Priests and a BearCat, but we will consider any strong dps.

Jasyla, Savior of Azeroth

Two Years

Two years ago today I was sitting at my desk at work, exactly where I’m sitting now, and I decided to start this blog.

Over those two years I’ve written 260 posts, received 1,885 comments and somewhere in the vicinity of 200,000 visits.

This has been a great year for my blog, even better than the first. I’ve gotten new readers, people are commenting more and I became really involved with the WoW community on Twitter which has brought me all kinds of information and amusement.

I was looking through my blog posts from this year and there are actually a lot of them that I’m quite happy with and proud of. Here are a few of my favorite posts from 2011:

1. Have heals become too smart?
When I wrote this post I was sick of seeing my healing meters being dominated by Wild Growth. It’s not that I don’t like Wild Growth, it’s just too easy to use. It gives huge healing for very little effort. My problem wasn’t just about the nature these seemingly OP AoE spells but also about the nature of boss fights in Cataclysm. There are so many fights where everyone is stacked up on top of each other and raid damage is constant that casting Wild Growth (or Holy Radiance, Circle of Healing and Healing Rain) on cooldown is almost always the right thing to do. I wrote this post back in Tier 11 but this (in my mind anyway) continues to be a problem in Tier 13 as well. One of my favorite things about this post was that almost all my commenters disagreed with me. Some even had concerns that if too many people expressed these kinds of opinions about spells like Wild Growth they would be nerfed…oops.

2. Moonglow vs. Furor
This was one of my first real attempts at trying to do a mathematical comparison of two talents myself. The moonglow vs. furor question is asked often but I found that the answers given were never satisfactory. They were either a short, “x is better than y” answer with no explanation, or they’d cite some complex formula that went right over my head. I did a lot of work using real logs to determine spell usage and how the two talents would compare and hopefully made the issue a little easier for people to understand.

3. Raids – Business or Personal?
When I wrote this post I was frustrated. The night before I had been in a raid where people just weren’t performing as well as they should have been. It made me think about what I want from a raid group and how I think raids should be run.  The best part of this post was the comments. It was really great to have so many people offer their thoughts on the issue and help give me a better perspective.

4. To the Ground
Another post written while I was very frustrated. When the blanket nerfs to Firelands were announced I felt a little robbed and very discouraged at the progression (lack of progression, actually) my guilds had made before they happened. The reason this is one of my favorite posts is completely self-indulgent. 56 comments!  That’s the most I’ve ever gotten on a post. I felt as popular as Beru for a second.

5. Heal Sniping and Meter Padding
One week in August I kept seeing posts that mentioned heal sniping. Posts on small blogs and big websites. Posts that condemned the practice and posts that encouraged it. I felt the need to speak up about how stupid I thought the whole concept was. I had a lot of fun writing this post, and arguing with people who continued to dwell on the term.

6. What’s Wrong with this Picture?
I usually shy away from issues like sexism in video games, but after seeing Blizzard’s leader portrait of Tyrande Whisperwind, I needed to say something. This post let me vent some frustration and be snarky (two of my favourite things!). I also really enjoyed all the discussions I got to have with people in the comments.

Looking back at my favourite posts of the year, I’m reminded of two things. First, being frustrated is great for my writing. And second, I love everyone who comments here (or on Twitter). Being able to have discussions, agree, disagree and be forced to think of things in different ways is my favourite part of blogging. So to everyone who has commented, thank you. This wouldn’t be nearly as fun without you.

Here’s to year three.

What’s better than one Ragnaros kill?

Two Ragnaros kills this week!

Ragnaros - Arm of Hades first kill

Team Hansel - we're so hot right now.

Last night Arm of Hades went into Firelands, one-shot Majordomo then killed Ragnaros for the first time. After 5 not so great attempts where people made silly mistakes and we didn’t get past the 2nd transition, our 6th attempt look us right to the end. We even got the achievement. We’re also the first Horde guild on our server to kill him! (yes, it’s a small server).

This means that next week I will be trying out my first hard modes on both my druid and my priest – Apotheosis just scored our first Rag kill on Thursday. I’m interested to see how the 10man and 25man formats compare for hard modes.

Wish us luck!