(Alternate title: "Hey look! It's a lock pocket!" I was a punning machine Tuesday night.)
So I guess some talk about actual gameplay is warranted here, no? I'm running out of lore musings, fits of RP and pointless memes to toss up here -- I might as well discuss what I'm actually doing in game most of the time these days.
Which, right now, is Ulduar. After some stops and starts early on due to bugged fights and personnel shake-ups, my guild has finally started getting into the place regularly. It's been loads of fun so far -- difficult as crap, but once we got out of the Naxxramas steamroller mindset and back into the familiar "wipe, study, fix, try again" rhythm of true progression raiding, the majority of it has been completely doable.
So here be my impressions of Tier 8 raiding so far...
Emalon was surprisingly simple, mostly due to the utter face-pwning of our DK offtank. She's a newish member who's turning out to be one of the best /ginvites we ever spent. With a few exceptions (mostly guildies) I've had very sketchy experiences with DK tanks, probably due to a lot of them being DPSers who got a level 55 tank for Christmas. Anyway, with a good offtank , there's pretty much nothing to this little punk. It requires just enough coordination and communication that your average post-Wintergrasp PUG will probably fall apart on it, but a friends-of-friends "people that you know don't suck" pickup should be able to handle it just fine. If your guild is good at keeping track of changing situations, he's cake.
Of course, being the only one of your class in the raid and having your T8 PvE pants drop doesn't hurt either. Those were a MASSIVE upgrade from my T7 -- I'm much more impressed with this tier than the last. Ready to wear, too; with just the leatherworking leg enchant and no gems, they were still an improvement. Plus, the socket bonus is just +hit, which I'm drowning in, so I just put two straight +agi gems in them. In MM spec (which I'm admittedly not in for raiding often, wtb retadin/spriest PST) I'm now over 4700 AP and 35% crit, self-buffed. Very, very sexy. I do still need to regem a lot of my stuff from AP/Crit to straight +agi, between my "main spec" getting better benefits from agility post-3.1 and the fact that I'm in my "off spec" most of the time for raid utility reasons.
Anyway. Trollsie gives new VoA boss an 8/10. A fun, simple fight with tier drops... hard to beat that.
Flame Leviathan is simultaneously an incredible drudge and fun as crap. I wish there was less trash leading up to it, because it really does wear thin after a while. By the time we're to the boss, I'm half asleep... but getting to blow away dozens upon dozens of mobs is pretty much always fun. Most of my experience has been on a chopper; this week I got to pilot a demolisher, but aside from being a lot slower the trash wasn't much different. I didn't actually get to do the fight in the demolisher, because we were in the middle of pulling the boss when the sky fell open over my house, we were suddenly getting frequent lightning and quarter-sized hail, and the tornado sirens started going off. By the time that was done with and I logged back on, they'd pulled someone else in to get the kill. Anyway, it's somehow simple and confusing all at once, but it goes by quickly. Trollsie says: 6/10.
Razorscale, I'm proud to say we got down before she was recently nerfed. Back in my day the mole machines popped on opposite ends of the terrace from each other! *shakes cane* But seriously, it's a fun little fight. I generally enjoy alternating adds-boss-adds mechanics (dear, sweet, darling Curator, how I miss you...) and trying to ground the drake in as few passes as possible is fun too. An intial problem we had was being dot-heavy -- we'd get her to around 52% in the second pass, she'd fly off, we'd get adds, then the dots would tick down and she'd hit 50 and come down. Chaos ensued. We've streamlined things since then; barring any hiccups in the transition, we can take her pretty easily. Trollsie says: 8/10.
Ignis the Furnace Master. Please divert the ears and eyes of any children under 16.
OH MY GOD I HATE THIS BASTARD WITH SUCH A PASSION. The main reason he's so frustrating is that we've, so far, just had tremendously bad luck on him. We have the technique just about down. We aren't making any huge mistakes. He just tends to eat our healers. Badly. As in, "One healer is in the slag pot already and he hits Flame Jets right as the OT needs a massive heal, so the OT goes down, the add goes after the MT, and while the lone remaining healer is trying to keep the MT up through all that, the healer in the pot gets thrown out directly into a scorch and dies." It is absolutely bananas. The RNG has it out for us on this bitch; apparently Ambrosine of I Like Bubbles and her guild are not faring much better.
The fight itself isn't that bad. It feels a bit gimmicky for me, and I am personally indignant at not being able to shatter the golems myself... although it's nice to have a fight where I'm not on add duty for once. Trollsie says: 7/10 on paper, FUCK YOU/10 in practice. The above-mentioned pun was the only good thing about this stupid fight.
X-002 Deconstructor is fun as hell. He was a massive bitch until we figured out that if you tank him near enough to a scrap pile, he won't spawn bots from those piles. Tank him in between two piles on one side and you only get two streams of scrapbots to deal with. We went from calling a wipe mid-fight because he'd healed back up to 80% halfway through the enrage timer, to getting [Nerf Engineering] on both of our first two kills. We do have a tendency towards bad luck with light bombs hitting right before tantrums (often on the healers... noticing a trend here?) but once we got the new tanking position down, we've been able to drop him fairly reliably. And the mecha-Majin-Buu voiceovers don't hurt, either. Even when your priest gets squashed, it's hard not to giggle when he gets all "I DUN THINK IT BENDS DAT WAY :(" about it. This is hands down my favorite fight so far. Trollsie says: 9/10.
Oh, and before Tuesday's kill, we accidentally pulled both of his add groups at once. Downed them handily. "Damn. Is there an achievement for that?" "If there was an achievement for surviving your own stupidity, we'd all have it already." My guild leader wanted me to note that these two groups pulling together was the "too hard to deal with" bug that led them to pull the Decon trash from the instance altogether early on. Therefore, the fact that we downed the two pulls simultaneously makes us uber.
Kologarn. Urgh. We've downed him twice, but both times by the skin of our teeth. I hate it when progression kills are that close. The first time, we ended up at like 4% with no tanks alive, flailing helplessly at all our cooldowns. The second was a little better, but it was still on the verge of going completely out of hand when he dropped. The fight mechanic is neat (and thank God that damage done to the arms actually damages the boss, otherwise this would have been insane) but we're just plain having trouble dealing with all the focusing and refocusing and moving around that we're having to deal with. Trollsie says: 7/10 when properly executed, 4/10 so far with guild.
And we managed to knock down Auraiya a single time. It's just like everyone's said -- it's all about the pull. The fight is frantic as hell, but in a fun way. I had no damn clue whether we were doing good, bad or otherwise until my Kill Shot started proccing. That Pounce move is an absolute mess. It is a little bit overwhelming, to be perfectly honest, but at least below the overwhelming is a fairly easy kill (we basically one-shotted her, not counting a false start where the offtank didn't break line of sight in time and got eaten). Crazy cat lady falls to berserker wolf lady. And I got [Ironaya's Discarded Mantle] -- which I'd link, were I not at work right now. Suffice it to say they were a solid upgrade from my T7 shoulders, and they have a nice bluish-black version of the T8 shoulder graphics. Still a bit disproportionally ginormous on a troll chick (as most epic shoulders are), but dead sexy nonetheless.
That's Ulduar so far. We got as much down Tuesday as we ever had at all, not counting Auriaya. She's on notice for tonight, along with the Iron Council, Hodir and Freya. The Portents are raiding again -- at top-level, cutting-edge content, for the first time in WoW -- and damn, it feels good to be a gangsta.