Chatting with other GMs about raiding

The game may be winding down but I've found this downtime has given me the opportunity to make new friends.

Noctem's current GM has been my friend for a while - we were chatting in Pandaria because he used to PvP and I was looking for someone to play with - and their guild has been unable to kill heroic Blackhand.  I went along to give them a hand the other day and watched as they wiped on the same things that we did.  People being shot by the Marked for Death, either being in the way of someone who was running to hide behind piles or the siege tank, or just not moving fast enough; balcony damage being overwhelmingly painful; people dying in phase 1 to who knows what.  I saw some bad habits that we have bred out of our raiders - they still had people running next to melee during demolition phase which is bad news if a demo is right next to them - and we stand on the sides

Brings back such bad memories!

One thing I did notice was that it was nice to have a disc priest.  Everyone went and hid under the bubble prior to the collapsing of the floor and that made a difference to healing.

After that though, I couldn't see much of a difference.

Depth was feeling a little glum about how raiding this expansion had been going, and had passed some of the raiding organisation over to some of the other officers.  Their guild is a bit like ours - lots of players, probably enough to make mythic if they wanted, but not all the players are mythic raiders. He asked me if I had room in our guild for a few people - but I told him not to make any hasty decisions. End of patch blues are a real deal, but things will be better when 6.2 hits. I admit if I had a rough trot of raiding like Noctem did - they went through 6 tanks this tier - then I would be sick of recruiting too.

Athanasy's GM, Tubs, chatted to me about how he thought he had made a mistake with this tier's raiding.  I questioned him about this mistake, and he said that it was jumping straight into heroic and not doing normal first to learn the fights. We did that as well, and even Grumpy Elf said he did also. Why did he think that slowed their progression, I asked Tubs.  He said that they could have learned the fights better instead of being stuck on them for ages, like they were with one of the bosses (which boss it was, though eludes me at the moment.  I know I had those moments when we were doing Kromog and Iron Maidens). I thought back to when we were struggling and how I think that though it was hard and frustrating, I enjoyed the challenge it provided because it WAS doable, just needed some work to get there.

However, I can tell you that THIS would be the commentary I would get if we did something on normal.

"Wow that was so easy, we should have just done it on heroic."
"It was a waste of time to do it on normal, nobody wants any of this loot, it's been a wasted day."
"There were mechanics?  I just ignored them all because we could DPS it fast enough and heals could heal me through it."
"Next time we do normal, I might sit out, because I'm not really going to get any loot from it."

So tell, me what would we learn doing it on normal?  If our DPS was high enough, that's true they would just ignore all mechanics and kill the boss - what would anyone learn about mechanics then?  I think that it is better to learn it on heroic so that people learn it, and it provides that much of a challenge for them.  I said that to Tubs and he thought that might be true.  I admitted to him that I hadn't even done Iron Maidens on normal yet, and hilariously, he admitted that neither had he.  Both of us have, however, done everything else on normal.  Just not Iron Maidens.  I wonder why that is?

Athanasy had also asked me to help them out with their mythic raid and it was a good learning experience for me.  When I play with my own guild I know where I sit on performance, but playing with a different guild gives me the opportunity to measure myself against them. Darmac is a good fight for druids anyway, and though they didn't get it down (they had many sub 4% wipes, and the first one I did with them was a 2% wipe) it was just interesting to see how the dynamics of other healers work.  I was the only druid, and they had a paladin, shaman and a priest and it was mana intensive for me.  I switched a few things up and tried to make sure I didn't stuff up. I don't get pinned on it normally, so I wasn't going to start doing it now! However, I kept up with the other healers, which was good, and I was happy with how it all went. Mythic has an extra mount that does these red circles on the ground that slow you and you have to move out of them, so healing is intense for that period.  I'm glad that I got my Blackhand trinket, it makes a big difference for mana.

But, it's the end of this tier, and apathy is amok. Tonight will be our last raid before 6.2 I think - I am almost certain it will be patch next Tuesday - and I am considering whether to bring some casuals along to Blackhand.  However, the problem with that is we still struggle with Blackhand even with our best players, and I am uncertain who is going to come tonight.  We may have to pug a few people to get the numbers, but I will look at who is on and make the decision then.


  1. Doing heroic straight up for BRF made more sense than it would have otherwise because they got the ilvl progression wrong, such that there were few upgrades to be had. This was partially corrected by the BRF 5 ilvl bump, and going forward, normal HFC gear starts at 690 and goes up the further you go in. So there will be upgrades to be had even if they are minor - at least for the first week or 3.

    Also our DPS/HP will not be high enough to completely abate or avoid normal mechanics at this stage. I mean it might seem that way when we go back into normal HM and face tank abilities, but we've got 50 ilvls on what we had back then, and they still hurt, there is just a much bigger margin for error.

    I think you have exaggerated this aspect, an entire tier level of gear is the difference between 1 less boat phase on maidens or 1 less dog phase on flamebender, not completely ignoring them or other mechanics.

    So that's the negatives, what of the positives of doing normal first ? Videos, dungeon logs and vent instructions give you a lot, but it is no substitute for experiencing mechanics. Learning what fight specific abilities look like, sound like, and the pattern they come out in without being overwhelmed by standard damage mechanics.

    The more damage there is, the more likely a healer will stand in the bad getting off one last heal, or be too conservative with mana at a critical point, and 1 or 2 deaths later a wipe is called and our learning is stunted. I feel it would be better to work on the hard stuff once people are comfortable with the easy?

    We can access important gear sooner (tier, trinkets), and also attain more boss kills to unlock higher mission gear quicker.

    There is nothing stopping us killing a boss on normal, then jumping to the heroic version.

  2. I think doing normal greatly reduces the number of wipes you will experience on heroic. Of course I have no proof of this, just opinion that (for example) if we went straight to heroic it might have taken us 20 wipes on a boss, but doing it on normal first, even if we had 2 or 3 wipes on normal, when we did it on heroic we downed it in only 8 wipes instead of 20. This is because we learned the fight in an easier mode and when we went to the harder mode we already knew it, just had to step up our game so to speak.

    So I do believe that doing it on normal first is a time saver, of course with no real proof, but the problem is the incentive to do it first on normal just is not there. Why would most people want to do normal because of the item level issue. Tier was the only incentive to do normal and most people figured screw it, they will get it in heroic.

    That is the problem most guilds ran into. Their heroic progressions was slower because they did not do normal first, or they wasted to much time in normal first. It is a balance we all need to learn how to handle as raid leaders now. A new one. So every single one of us is learning what is the perfect mixture of normal to heroic.

    I must say I really loved the raids so far with how they were designed and the fights in them, but I have really disliked raiding as a whole this expansion for the first time. I am not liking having more of the same to run and I am really disliking that I will never do heroic (now mythic again). I have no motivation to raid knowing I will not be able to raid in the difficulty level I have been raiding in since wrath.

    1. 20-man Mythic raiding - Brilliant idea... apart from the fact most of us were in 10-man teams.

      Thankfully, heroic is flex so we are slowly building our team up to 20. Not fast enough for this tier but hopefully HFC

  3. We are having the same problems on Heroic Blackhand as Noctem, some of our team just seem unable to deal with the Marked for Death (whether it's them targeted or not).
    How did your team get past this?

    It's mechanics like this where normal doesn't really help, it was a lot easier to heal through it so we didn't recognise it's importance. Where 'practising' on normal has helped for us is things like setting up the positioning in P3, hunter kiting siege engines in P2.

    Looking back, I feel like we spent far too long on normal. One or two runs through to learn setup and positioning for each fight would have been ideal.

  4. I think Navi has touched on a great point here. The doing of normals, which would offer little challenge, just to learn it I think would diminish the sense of accomplishment of going straight to heroics.

    People grow and develop the most when challenged appropriately, and we should feel comfortable in struggling, because that is what leads to the greatest rewards.

    Imagine playing through a game on god mode to learn it, then completing it without god mode versus just playing it through without god mode. Which experience is more satisfying in the long term?

    Thumbs up for heroics first!



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