Ulduar: Fiero with friends

Theres been some talk recently about Ulduar and the nostalgia people feel for Ulduar.  I wanted to delve into that a bit.

My Ulduar experience
During Ulduar I was in a guild called Forgotten Heroes that raided 25 mans.  In the first tier we had cleared 3 drakes while the content was relevant.  It took a long time, but since Naxxramas was so easy, we had a lot of time.

Ulduar was definitely harder.  We cleared Ulduar while the content was relevant and did at least one hard mode (XT).  We worked on others and got a couple in 10 man I think.  We may have done slightly better in 25 man – I can’t recall.

The drakes weren’t removed from Ulduar, so when Trial of the Crusader came and died we started going back to Ulduar on 10 man to work on the Hard Modes.  In those Hard Mode runs were the foundations of my current guild, Dreamstate.  We had way more fun doing that than we did raiding 25 man Trial of the Crusader.  Once we started Dreamstate at the beginning of Icecrown Citadel we made a point of going back and finishing off Ulduar.

Why Ulduar was good
Ulduar was the last raid of the old regime.  It was good because people it allowed people the challenge of Hard Modes, with the satisfaction of a Normal Mode clear.  Let me explain.

One of the reasons we raid is for that moment of victory.  The psychologists call this moment fiero – the cheer when you down a new boss.  It makes us feel good.  In Ulduar, you could ‘complete’ the instance by killing Yogg-Saron.  You could then do some Hard Modes.  On the surface that doesn’t sound so different to today.  However, the Hard Modes of Ulduar were very much ‘optional extras’.  They didn’t exist on every boss, they were gradated so you could come at them gradually, and in some cases they were insanely hard so that the expectation of completion just wasn’t there.  The fiero moment given by downing Yogg-Saron was therefore more significant than downing a final boss on normal these days.  When you downed Yogg-Saron you had ‘completed’ the instance (Algalon never counted).  Now, when you downed Ragnaros you face the option of starting all over again.

That wasn’t the only thing.  Ulduar had a good difficulty curve with progression through being smooth.  That contrasts to Firelands, for example, where the step up to Ragnaros was too steep, especially on heroic.  The fact that Algalon was insanely hard didn’t matter as most people didn’t count him.  Thats the same model that worked so well with Sinestra in Bastion of Twilight.

What the numbers say … and what they don’t
Theres likely a part of the nostalgia for Ulduar that is just ‘rose tinted glasses syndrome’.  As I said, it was the last raid of its kind, before the Heroic Mode raiding we see today came in.  But I suspect that a lot of the love for Ulduar comes from people who aren’t on the chart published by MMO Champion.  I suspect that a lot of the love for Ulduar comes from people like me who went back later.  Especially while Trial of the Crusader was out.

Trial of the Crusader was an odd raid.  But I would suspect that Blizzard knew what it was doing more than we might think.  Trial of the Crusader was essentially the equivalent of an Ulduar nerf.  By giving us a little tier, we could gear up and go back to Ulduar!  That would explain a lot.

Ulduar’s success, in my mind, comes from its ability to transcend raid tiers.  Even two tiers later there was still motivation to go back.  That is not something Blizzard have managed to repeat in this expansion.  When players return to an older tier its often not through guild organised, formal raiding.  It was for the fun of trying to get the Hard Modes they never managed before.   By not nerfing tier 11 Heroic Modes, and by having Heroic Ragnaros be so very hard, players were less motivated to go back.  In Ulduar, the increased gear of the next tiers made the Hard Modes about as difficult as normal mode content.  So you could go and have fun in Ulduar with friends knowing the content would not be out of your reach.  And theres nothing more appealing in the game than fiero with friends!

So if Ulduar’s success is because of its social connections, and its easy access to fiero moments, then thats something Blizzard should look to achieve in all its raids.  Maybe then we’ll wax lyrically about up and coming raids too.

Fires, Dreams and Nightmares

Its been a busy couple of days. The gear list posts are coming. In the mean time if you take a look at the gear list you will see I have already added some more items.

A Beacon Fire
As any blog reader cannot fail to have noticed, there is a new ‘thing’ in the blogging community – the blogging guild Single Abstract Noun run by Tamarind of Righteous Orbs. Its based on the Argent Dawn-EU server which is an RP server. I’ve got a few very low level alts kicking around on there. And now I have another one – Morrighann the Blood Elf Paladin. I’ll link her once shes high enough to even appear on the armory! From my brief time there last night it seems a very nice community. My time there is going to be a bit limited as I try to juggle it with work, life, Dreamstate and blogging, but I do want to make the effort to go over there. I think everyone has ‘the blogger they most want to meet’ over there too. For me its Larisa from the Pink Pigtail Inn who encouraged me to rant more early in my blogging days.

Nightmares
Tamarind has been through an experience recently I can sympathize with, which is being forced out of his guild due to his blog. I’ve been there. I blogged about something that I had found particularly offensive in the guild, and which the officers had failed to deal with. And that saw me kicked from the guild. I had never made my blog a secret, and I had blogged about similar things before. But this was just a step too far for the guild. (Don’t go looking for this post btw – I took it down after the server troll found it).  I’ve not really blogged or talked about this since, and I’m not sure I will more than this because I know my old guild is going through some tough times right now.

Tamarind said something that made me realize how unhappy I was in my previous guild. He talks about how his blog has/had become the reason he plays. The gaming supported the blogging rather than being a side interest. In my last days in my old guild the blog definitely meant more to me than playing the game. My unhappiness with some of the people, with the guild management, etc. had made the game a place where I was unhappy and my blog was an escape from that, back to the times when I enjoyed the game.

Now I might regret that more if it wasn’t for what happened afterwards. Some friends of mine, also unhappy with the direction the old guild was taking, formed Dreamstate. Dreamstate is a totally different place to be. Its friendly and fun. It’s a completely different experience to be in a guild like this. I have now reached the point where I play the game because I enjoy it again. I still enjoy blogging, but I also love raiding again.  The game, for me, is very much a social thing.

Dreams
On another note, last night we made our GM’s dreams come true. Or at least ended one of his nightmares! We downed Firefighter in Ulduar 10. We had been working on this a while back, but setting up the new guild got in the way. Last night we went back and down he went. Dreamstate now has several Algalon keys and will be taking out the last achievements needed for our Rusted Proto-Drakes (I Love the Smell of Saronite in the Morning, One Light in the Darkness).

Our last attempts on Firefighter had been so close. They literally gave our GM nightmares. Everyone was so glad when it went down last night. It was relatively easy – we do over gear the fight somewhat. This let us deal with the tricky stage 3 by zerging the head. I was on the adds (the only melee with one tank). The second tank and one ranged dealt with the bomb bots. Everyone else nuked the head.

I enjoy doing things like this, as they allow the two raid teams to come together and we had people from both teams and the Casual Raider rank (who aren’t assigned to a team as these are generally people who can’t raid as often). Thanks to all who came, especially the one member who didn’t really want to raid that night and came to help us out.

Achievement fest, or how a bad night turned good

So last night. Raid invite time comes and where am I? Still on a train. Meetings ran late. I missed the raid. The guild ran ToTC 25.  Realising I was at a loose end I decided to do a few things I wouldn’t normally be able to do on a Wednesday night.

Did you notice the Headless Horseman drops rings?
First I logged onto Arianrhodd to do the Headless Horseman. I had a bonus summon, never having done it before, after having quickly put out the fires in Brill. I went, I summoned, I got the Ring of Ghoulish Glee, I was happy. I now have two epic rings at least! I missed out on the sword, but maybe I’ll try and go back each day and get it and the helm.

The Saviour of Hallows End ACHIEVED!
Bring me the head of … oh wait ACHIEVED!

GNERD inspired PvP
So that being done, I moved on to Morrighan and started looking for some GNERD infused honour kills. I found most of the 50 I needed in WG. It’s the first time I’ve done WG since the limit on the number of people was introduced. Is the lag better? Yes. Is it still awful? Yes. But I got some honour, some quests and most of my kills. Then I hopped into a quick Eye of the Storm. We ran, we took towers, we realized it was going rather well. Then the message came up – Too few players, battleground will close in 2 minutes. But with four towers and a few flag runs, we won in less than 2 minutes. 1600 to 0.

The Perfect Storm ACHIEVED!
Flurry ACHIEVED!

Ulduar Revisited
By then ToTC 25 had finished. The guild was off to Ulduar. The GM was sleepy so he handed over the reins to a fellow officer and went to bed. I replaced him. Wahelen, in his wisdom, decieded to try FL hard mode.

First there was some debate about what FL hard mode was. For some reason a couple of people were convinced it was 3 towers up. This is because they couldn’t see the achievement for four towers, which only appears after you have killed 3 towers. /facepalm

Then we decided to do Dwarfaggeddon. Try one – epic fail. People killed dwarves they shouldn’t kill. We took out the spider bots and the giants our biker brought back and waited a few seconds before we tried again.

Dwarfaggedon (25 man) ACHIEVED!

Then we had a couple of fail tries on FL. The most irritating thing was that it showed up what people cleared didn’t know how to do. Given we had some warning that we might try FL this irritated me. A lot. Added to that someone decided not to die and I died twice just trying to use the teleporter. I was not amused. The tactics for FL are not that hard. People weren’t messing up on Freya’s adds or Mimirons flames. They were failing to understand being launched from a Demolisher! I’m a terrible raid leader because I always expect people to be prepared. If they don’t understand tactics – ask. If they haven’t read the tactics beforehand – why not! I don’t expect to down things fast, I don’t mind wiping. But I feel we should never wipe because of something you could have read on Wowiki.  Action point for all raiders going back to Ulduar hardmodes: go back and reread the Ulduar tactics. Its been a while and the hard modes need you to understand not just the hard mode mechanic, but also the original tactics!

More explanations.

Then the turning point came. Then finally we had a good try. We wiped because the second team launched too soon. And then, on try 4:

Nuked from Orbit (25 Player) ACHIEVED!
Orbit-uary (25 Player) ACHIEVED!

Some people got more than that too!  Credit for this kill goes to a few people. I want to mention Girion, who did awesome amounts of DPS as a Demolisher driver. Also Hitmerules and Cheesygrin who did a great job there. But in particular Wahelen, who remained calm throughout, who had faith we could manage it. Wahelen is unflappable in the face of failure. Hes encouraging, praises gradual progress, explains calmly and does a great job of leading raids.

More dwarf killing
Then we moved on to Razorscale and decided to kill some dwarves. One tank took the guardians, some ranged took their health down to a low enough level. Then she landed and we let her take them out. That’s when the bug became evident. Not everyone got the same number of kills each time. Consequently, by the time he enraged not everyone had the achievement. We came back, screwed up stupidly and while we were all lying dead on the floor he killed another batch of guardians. And all of the rest of us got our achievement.

Iron Dwarf, Medium Rare (25 player) ACHIEVED!

Apart from one. Hitmerules still needed 1 dwarf! So in our kill we carefully selected a victim, got him the achievement, took it down and got the speed kill achievement for the few very new people who didn’t have it. Credit for this one has to go to Elfbabe and Melanai who masterminded it. Elfbabe in particular did a great job telling people when to dps the guardians, when to stop and getting them in place.

It was the most fun we’ve had in Ulduar for AGES. It was great. It follows a 6% try in TotGC 25 Northrend Beasts and having cleared everying in TotGC 10 apart from Anub with two raid groups this week.  It seems after all the changes FH is finally starting to gel and the progress is coming.  The Ulduar achievements maybe are helped by us being OP.  The TotGC ones aren’t so I’m quite pleased with them.

And the icing on the very large chocolate cake – getting to tell the GM that while he slept we managed all these achievements. Its like the time he missed the guilds first Yogg kill because he had to go and rescue someone on a boat. I replaced him then too. Mwhahahahaha!

And just to finish off the night, with yet another Eye of the Storm victory (it was the daily – that’s normally the best chance you have to win anything on my realm as Alliance):

GNERD rage ACHIEVED!

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