Moving right along, been able to hammer a few more levels out on the 4 remaining sub-80 toons. I’m perilously close to having everyone into Northrend now; I could actually do so if I elected to, but I’m keeping Inyaki in Outlands until 70 just to make things easier on me.
Inyaki – level 69 – I put some time into him in the last few weeks; he’s all the way up to 69 right now and just about ready to transition into Northrend. Thankfully, I already cleared what I feel are the biggest hurdles for him by getting Mining to 375 and Blacksmithing over 350, so that I can use Wrath mats to level it further. I’m interested at the prospects of using him as a tank soon, so he’ll likely get dual specced into that for tanking instances and DPSing through quest leveling.
Eltorogrande – level 71 – I actually dusted off the Big Bull last weekend and got him a level, up to 71. That makes well over a year between dings for him, since he was my first 70 – but he’s moving up again! Cycled the Gorilladin off to the stables in favor of ChompyChompy as well. I think I might get a Bear (and name it “Riblet”) once I’m leveled enough to grab one from Grizzly Hills.
Bubbahotepp – level 71 – Nothin’ doing. Bubba remains stagnant, and I’m guessing that he’s the last one to 80. Just a hunch.
Zuggzug – level 71 – She’ll probably see some trigger time again soon as the ol’ rested XP bar is back up to full. I tanked regular UK with her over the weekend, first time trying her in that role. Given that I’m Blood spec, lacking Tank talents or gear and basically just used Frost Presence and skill – it was really easy. Just had to get the hang of how to get AOE threat when my talents aren’t inclined to do it. We wiped once, on Ingvaar (phase 2), probably because I wasn’t Heart Striking enough to help out my healer. Good experience overall.
Noobz – level 80 – Haven’t done a lot since 80. I’m going to dual spec her, initially into a Siphon Life / Felguard build for soloing and then try out a Demo / Destruct raiding build for the time being since I can cheat up a lot of spellpower on my gear with that spec. Probably swap that over to deep Destruction w/ some Affliction once I’ve got gear to support it. Right now, her DPS sucks – about 1500 – in the SL / FG build, so I need to bring more to the table if I want to be in Naxx-10s and such.
Hiltzaile – level 80 – Switched over to a Mutilate build, but haven’t tested it yet. Been too busy, honestly. That said, I’m not sure how much priority she’ll get for raiding as I’m much more of a Ranged DPS person than Melee DPS from a preferred playstyle standpoint.
Ribeye – level 80 – Took Ribby into Naxx-10 on a lark as Resto. Suffice to say, there’s work to be done. I still need to pay to dual-spec him, but I’m not entirely sure what lean I want to give him for the two choices. I’m still very much considering Moonkin for the first time ever, but I’ll need to get some runs in for gear if I want to do that.
Euskogudari – level 80 – He’s been getting some time lately. Basically, if Manch has an ID for it (or if there is a need for a tank), he’s been the toon of choice. We (MiM) had a smash-up run of Naxx-10 over the weekend, I MT’d it on him (first time as Main Tank on Naxx!), and it went off beautifully. I realized after the fact, we had only 4 deaths during the entire run, and we weren’t even trying to get the Undying. Even better, though I only dropped one piece of loot, it was the best one that I could get - Slayer of the Lifeless. Because of that – and badges from the run which allowed me to get the belt – I was able to rotate out several pieces of gear for superior ones and make him even better. Overall, I’m very satisfied with his performance and viability; Paladin Tanks are definitely solid right now.
I’m hoping to be able to find him some kind of a Naxx run at least 2 weeks of every 3 if I can; I really want to get into OS more with him as well to try for the legs and the chest (which drops from +1), as those are currently my target slots for item improvement.
Manchego – level 80 – Here and there, making progress on a number of fronts. I’ve been fishing a lot lately to raise that skill and gather mats / achievements, even after getting her turtle. The big change for Manch, though, was Ulduar.
Last raiding period, after once again meeting with frustration on Ulduar-25, we came up short for night #2 and decided that we’d try to push some 10-man content instead. It was, without a doubt, the turning point for us in 3.1 raiding. We crushed Flame Leviathan and Razorscale on one-shot tries. Ignis was about 3 attempts, and Deconstructor went down in 4 or 5, I believe. We marched right in to Kologarn and made serious headway – getting him as low as 14% – before calling it a night. In short, we were finally able to accomplish what had eluded us before – solid, tangible victories over Ulduar bosses. It was a much needed morale boost.
This week, I was honestly hoping that we’d continue with the 10-man push and ride that momentum. Had we done so, I was fairly certain that we could clear Siege and Antechamber, and probably 2/4 Keepers or better. Instead, we opted to push into 25 man again.
Let me be clear – we have not had any success at all in 25 outside of FL prior to this week. I think that the lowest that we got any boss to was about 85% – it was seriously disheartening. Whether it was the new nerfs, increased focus, experience or spirit, I don’t know. The bottom line for this week, though – we succeeded in pushing into Ulduar, and it was wonderful.
After the usual Flame Leviathan one-shot, we tried Razorscale. Attempt #1 went well until something got buggered near the ground to air transition and people started dropping – but you could see that things were beginning to click. On try #2, we again messed up something early on and didn’t even get to the grounded phase with more than half of the raid alive. But try #3, things just happened. We got her to the ground with the whole raid up, did some damage and she took off – but adds remained under control. Raid damage was managed well. Devouring Flames were effectively tanked away from the body of the raid. She landed again, we burned her some more, and it continued. Where we had wiped before, we were still standing now – and before we knew it, she was grounded.
None of us had ever been here in 25 man, and the tanks did there best to kite her around the circle on the ground while we shredded her from the center. The inexperience on the phase showed, though when we lost the MT with a substantial amount of her health left. No problem, 2 Offtanks continued the kite. When one of them dropped, the 4th tank stepped into the rotation and helped kite her. When we lost one of the two remaining tanks – leaving one – she was around 5%, and you could tell that nobody wanted to let this slip away. DPS and Heals all picked up their games enough that she dropped – and we had our first 25 man kill in Ulduar. It was a great feeling.
We moved smartly through the trash for Ignis after that, pushing to the pools where that stupid flame debuff could finally be exorcised. Ignis, though, would prove a tougher nut to crack. After 4 or 5 tries, people were getting a bit fed up with him – but then it all clicked again. Now, when he would sound off his emotes, people knew what ability it was tied to. Casters didn’t get locked out anymore. People were saved from the Fiery Crotchpot with ease. Golems were run off to be shattered like an assembly line – and what do you know, Captain Crotchpot ate the floor too – with nearly the entire raid still alive.
We had a few attempts on Deconstructor that night without success, but it didn’t matter – we’d already pushed far beyond what we had all expected, and now night #2 was something to look forward to. It didn’t disappoint.
The Raid Leader came to the fight with a complex strategy to arrange all of us around the Boss in six different and autonomous groups. Basically, we could ignore the Gravity Bombs and heal through the Light Bombs without splashing them all over the Raid, or forcing movement and lost DPS. Again, it took a few tries – and again, it suddenly clicked and everything was perfect, comfortable and in control. We had cleared Heroic Siege.
The path to Kologarn, though, was a bit more difficult than it had been in 10 man. A few people died on the first and second trash pulls, enough to let us know that this trash meant business. We downed the first Overseer after he killed 2/3 of the raid; the second one? He wiped us three times. Trash is serious business. Eventually, we got him too and on to “Oblivion!!1!!!1!11!!”
After a week to reflect on him from my last experience, I proposed that we more or less ignore the eyebeams on him – treat the targets of them as we would someone in the Slag Pot. If we could execute it, this meant that there would be no risk of the targeted person dragging the beams across others as they fled, and the damage is not that hard to heal through. On the first try, it nearly worked – we got him to 40%, and at least 15 people in the Raid had never seen him before. There were some issues with the AOE from the Rubble adds, and a couple of other unlucky breaks. We failed on a few more attempts before the magic came back once again around attempt #5 and we downed Kologarn, too for a very upbeat ending to our weekend.
I can’t explain it really, other than to just say that the same feeling came over me on each kill attempt. Instead of chaos, I felt order. Instead of praying for a lucky break, I felt like we were in control and dictating terms. I felt certain that we would win, instead of the dread of another run back, repair and rebuff. It was really and truly amazing to see it all finally come together into a working unit, to see real progress where only frustration had been for the last two weeks. I think I might have procced an Omen of Clarity.
Now, where I was more or less dreading going to Ulduar-25 the last 2 weeks, I’m very excited to see what we can do this week. Whether we have the attendance to do 3 nights’ content in 25, or it’s one night of 10 and then some 25 for the next 2, I don’t know. What I do know is, Ulduar has transformed from frustration into a very, very enjoyable challenge.
As luck would have it, i didn’t get any loot out of the weekend. Deconstructor did drop the Quartz Studded Harness, which is arguably Best-In-Slot. However, I have the Maly-25 chest already, so I passed it (I would have had it on DKP priority) to another Shaman as it represented a greater upgrade to him. In my mind, everybody wins there – our raid gets stronger as he gears up, and I get to save some DKP for what I’m really after – any of three BIS-or-damn-near things (Totem, Neck, Goggles) off Flame Leviathan, or the mace from Razorscale; I’ll happily spend it on those things! Besides, there will be plenty of Deconstructor kills in the future!
At any rate, I’m a happy panda right now. This was the weekend that Ulduar became fun for me…