Tune in next week for “Progression” or “It’s About Time”

I was going to have separate posts for Downing Flame Leviathan Four Towers in 10man and downing Anub’arak 25man in an all-guild raid, but I decided just to clump them up to talk about another issue, progression and the excitement that hopefully comes with it (so go get a snack, this is gonna be a long one). I never watched the Ensidia video where they downed Algalon for the first time, but a former guildie saw it and told me that they all cheered when they won. I wonder how a guild as skilled as Ensidia can ever feel excited about any accomplishment anymore. I would imagine it would all feel like some boring inevitability. Even Algalon, a boss you have to unlock by clearing every “hard mode” in Ulduar except for Yogg-Saron, whom you only get 1 hour of attempts on per raid lockout before he despawns, would just feel like he was on farm status before you ever walked through his door and pulled him because you knew you were good enough. You had cleared Nax40, you had cleared Sunwell pre-nerf, Nax25 was a joke, and you had cleared Ulduar25 pre-nerf. How was Algalon supposed to feel like an accomplishment?
My guild had never done Flame+4, but I was reasonably confident that we wouldn’t have too much trouble. We had some frustrating attempts last week where we got him down to 20-ish percent with only 1 overload phase. It was a lot of bad RNG mostly, him always chasing Demolishers so they could never stack Pyrite, etc etc, and those damn flowers. After some strat searching and team-building we brought in one of our plethora of skilled mages in place of a rogue so we could have 2 ranged DPS to attack turrets and proceeded to chain-overload him in tandem with our warlock and our first attempt of the new lockout ended with him at 1% health, and we had suffered more bad RNG. I honestly thought we’d 1-shot him when he got down to 80k health, but only 1 Demolisher was alive, all the stacks of pyrite had expired, and there was no one else for Flame to chase and kill.
I was disappointed, but not disheartened. I was sure we’d get him the next attempt. Next attempt, more bad RNG, more fantastic overload work by our Mage and Warlock, and again we all die when he is at 1%. Now I’m getting just a tad irritated. Third attempt, flame glitches, we wipe at 50%. He changed targets just as we triggered an overload so he decided he didn’t want to overload and just kept chasing people. Then when the “overload” stopped, he instantly teleported halfway across the room away from all of us chasing him, and owned some face. Next several attempts had us getting chased into corners, running through fire walls, getting frozen in place and mauled by plants. By now I was lamenting our disturbing tendency to just about 1-shot every encounter we ever try then proceed to get progressively worse with each successive attempt.
Finally though, through exceptional overload work by our ranged DPS (and catapult aiming by the demo driver), some great driving, and a near-flawless execution (and two Bubble-taunts), we downed him. Many of the 10 in that run loudly proclaimed their excitement and satisfaction on vent. Not me. I was satisfied that we had finished, and may even have smiled for a moment, but the whole issue was over with as far as I was concerned. Part of it was, no doubt, due to my growing irritation over how long it was taking us, and part of it was no doubt because every one of us was in ToC25 gear. My Siege Engine had almost 2.4million health. Flame could still kill me, but what about those people who do Orbituary when they are in Uld25 gear? 2 million heath tops maybe? Being so overgeared for Ulduar that I routinely solo-tank trash pulls and we have to tell our DPS to stop attacking XT’s heart because we just want to kill him, not trigger hardmode, makes all our accomplishments feel trivial to me. Meanwhile, XT 25 hardmode has yet to be triggered. Maybe next week.
After Flame, of course, we smashed XT in the face and it was so irrelevant to me I forgot he even dropped loot. Not like any of us needed anything, but he had just become a trash pull to me. I zoned right into the antechamber before anyone even clicked on the boss to loot him. When I realized what I had done, I hated the fact that we were still in Ulduar. I love Ulduar as an instance, I think it’s a lot of fun. A hell of a lot more fun than ToC to be sure, but like Nax and Ahn’Kahet the Old Kingdom, I can’t remember when it was hard being as I am now. We go to IC and oneshot Steelbreaker and get our 3rd Archivum Data Disk, soon 3 of us will have the 10man Algalon key. We kicked Kologarn to the curb and skipped Auriaya and started smashing Hodir trash. Several times we were less than careful and ended up pulling 3 groups at once, but unlike the first times we had done that, I never felt like we were in danger of wiping, only that I was in danger of losing agro on 8 worms to the blizzard-happy mage. Eventually we got to Hodir, readied ourself for our first “real” attempt at hardmode and went in there and one-shotted it. We had about 15 seconds to spare, and I never really worried. My biggest worry before the fight, if we weren’t going to be able to hit the DPS numbers needed, would we be able to wipe it before he died and locked us out for the week. Those worries were unfounded and our holy Paladin got the nice hard mode shield and our priest got her offset T9 legs. A bow that another hunter in our guild could really use dropped and we DE’d it with regrets.
Yesterday we had a whole day for Anub’arak. We had cleared up through the Twins on Wednesday, which, for us, is pretty good. I know people who are in guilds who throw fits when ToC25 isn’t cleared in 2hours or less, but that’s not us, yet. I was excited to have a whole night devoted to killing the last thing in our guild’s way to clearing the instance. We had revised our strategy, had a big raid-leader meeting, and we got everyone on the same page. Unfortunately some people who we would normally have come with us weren’t able to make it, but we had enough guildies on, who other raid leaders had more faith in than I did, and we brought them along to round us out. We explained the strat to everyone and began our attempts. Because our overall dps is rather low, we elected to kill 1 add, offtank 3. Because the adds only get bonus damage on urnmitigated hits, I was basically taking very little damage the whole fight even though I constantly had 2 adds on me. Being unhittable (I was 103.xx after raid buffs) made me quite comfortable shouldering the burden. The first few attempts the other offtank and I had some communication issues leading us to taunt the same add, having one add unchecked killing the raid, problems moving the first add to the ice patch behind Anub’arak so the melee could hit it too, grouping up the 2nd wave of adds, etc, but by the 4th attempt or so, we had it sorted. We had varying degrees of success in phase 2 with grouping up, killing scarabs, killing 3 burrowers , having people run out, etc. Overall, however, we were reasonably consistent in our performance and on about the 6th attempt or so, we finally got to phase 3 and blew everything we had on him. We still had 2 adds up so I had the other OT taunt my add and I used Bubble-Sacrifice to lessen the raid damage. Soon our MT died and I picked up the boss and we finished him off. Only 1 person dead, the MT. It wasn’t any of the usual suspects and especially it wasn’t any of the people who I had been wary of inviting, which pleased me more than our victory.
Everyone was pleased. We had done it. We had done it as a guild. It was the first kill I can remember being legitimately excited about. Heroic 10man Beasts and Jaraxus were nice, but they didn’t feel like victories. We had killed them on 10man regular so it was the same boss. They felt like foregone conclusions to me even when we had difficulty on them initially. Even Yogg felt unsatisfying to kill on 10man (more on this in a bit).
This was not the first time I killed Anub’arak on 25, however. Back when ToC was still new, I had transferred servers for 2 weeks to play with a former guildie who had left our guild and our server in search of greener playing pastures. He found a happy home with a high-ranked guild on a high progression server and convinced me to come try it out. I was curious what it would be like to play with people who were “better” so I went. The day Anub’arak came out, I went in there with his guild and we one-shot him. I was happy at that victory because it was a victory, but it also wasn’t “my victory.” I was just a tag-along in their guild. That I was a tank, geared better than all of theirs, didn’t change the fact that it wasn’t my guild, my kill. This time, almost 60 days after the first time I killed Anub’arak on 25man, I finally had a kill that was not just “mine” but “ours” and I was pleased. I had killed Yogg on 25 with a different guild on that server the day before. It wasn’t my kill, but I was happy to have killed Yogg. I smiled then too, even though it was farm content for the guild I was with. The day before I killed Yogg on 25, I pugged all the way to Yogg on 10man and got in a few decent attempts. My former guildie had killed Yogg25 within 5 days of transferring to his new server and joining his new guild, so I took it as a personal challenge to do that same. The guild I ran with were nice people and after a rough start on Freya trash with them, I settled in and we cleared Freya, Thorim, Hodir, General, and Yogg. I was all smiles after Yogg that time, not because it was my kill, but because I had matched my former guildie. It was sort of a “look, this server really is ‘better’ than our old one, we’ve both killed yogg within 5 days of transferring and only 2 guilds on our old server have even killed him and we’re both running with guilds that have him on farm. The guild I cleared Yogg with didn’t even have their full A-team or my first kill of Yogg would have been “3 Lights” because their Holy Paladin was gonna get Val’anyr.
I took pictures of my Yogg kill on that server, but I didn’t take any of Anub’arak. We didn’t take any pictures of our Flame+4 or Hodir hard kills. We didn’t take pictures of our guild-first Anub’arak 25 kill. Was it the excitement of it that made us forget? Was is that our GM has basically abandoned his blog, so taking pictures to blog about wasn’t on his mind? Or were we all subconsciously thinking like me, that Flame+4 and Hodir weren’t really challenges, but were inevitabilities, considering our gear, and thus not really worth a screenshot?
After we killed Anub’arak on 25 a few of us headed to Ulduar to try to knock out some more hard modes to open Algalon’s door. We went to try Thorim hardmode and we wiped 4 times destroying any good feelings I had and frustrating me to no end because once again I was back in ulduar doing content I heavily outgeared and I was wiping…

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