Monday, April 27, 2009
Delving back into Naxx, this time with the guild at my back....
I first cleared Naxx-25 with a PUG, a bit over a month ago, but I did not receive credit for one of the boss kills. My internet connection went out for a second on the Loatheb fight and the WOW login server decided not to let me back on for over five minutes afterwards. When I logged back in, I was eligible to loot the emblem off the corpse, but I had not received achievement credit for killing the boss. After clearing the rest of the dungeon - and doing the last chunk of it a second time a few weeks later, I was still stuck at 14/15 bosses killed.
With many of the raiders and guilds who made PUG's like that possible now hard at work in Ulduar, getting that last pesky boss was looking like more of a challenge. So, when the Knights of Honor finally grew large enough to take a shot at 25-man content, I decided to clear some time to take a crack at Naxx in an organized group.
Making the jump from 10-man to 25-man
KOH has previously cleared all of Naxx-10, so many of the most serious raiders had already learned some of the tricks needed for the dungeon's more complicated fights. They had also cleared the Spider wing of Naxx-25 man when they held signups for the usual 10-man raid time and had 25 players show up - ever the peril of the 10-man raiding guild with lenient attendence requirements. Still, Friday's run, which spilled over into Sunday after making substantial progress, was one of our first intentional forrays into the 25-man realm.
Obviously, there were a number of newer players - some freshly dinged to level 80, and some 80's like myself with limited raiding experience - who didn't have extensive experience. This proved especially true for the notorious Heigan "dance", where players need to run back and forth across the room, stopping at specific points that are very hard to learn from written explanation, to avoid death by waves of poisonous liquid, or for fights like Instructor that require priests to do the pulling and tanking (two tasks they are not ordinarily responsible for).
For the Heigan fight in particular, I wish there was some way to practice that didn't put 10+ minutes of the guild's limited raid time on the line. I am slowly improving - on the raid's second attempt, my third total on the boss, I managed to limp off of the field of poison to die from damage on the DPS platform, a bit of a step up from leaving my body on the ground as a marker of where not to stand. I would have felt bad if my inexperience on a fight that others had practiced in the 10-man version caused a wipe - our raids include maybe around 2.5 hours of usable time, so a lengthy attempt on an untimed encounter like Heigan can eat a large chunk of the evening.
Still, we made rapid progress - I don't think we wiped more than twice on any boss, including five bosses that the guild had not done on 25-man. After various heroics on the last pull of each evening, we were able to end both nights on a high note with the victory. (The last encounter, with Gothlik in the military wing, looked like it was going to end poorly, as only three players ultimately survived the fighting on the live side, but the last few standing were able to finish off the mob spawns and survive a serious pounding by the boss until the dead side was able to bring down the gates and finish the battle.)
Among the rolls of bosses that have now been killed by KOH was Loatheb, which means that Greenwiz finally has his Naxx achievement.
Fighting along-side comrades
Though I did end up enjoying the PUG experience - which earned me a large number of badges, two pieces of loot, and the bulk of the dungeon's achievements - working with a team was much more fun. Each group of people has its own quirks, like the (occasionally) friendly rivalry between our guild's raid-leading rogue and its stable of warlocks, or the one guy who must die for the run to be considered an official raid (a measure by which last night's run technically fell short, as he did not attend). You still hear some of this banter in a PUG, but you lack the context that makes it actually funny rather than confusing.
I decided to pass on loot for the run. I'm not available for raids on any regular basis (the stars align properly for me to sign up in advance maybe once a month), and I'm actually rather well geared compared to the guild thanks to cherry-picking heroic 5-mans, farming both Archavons every single week, and a few PUG visits to Naxx. Still, even without any item upgrades, I'd take the camraderie over the bigger haul from a PUG anytime.
I guess that's the power of the MMO - sometimes the best incentives are the company you keep, rather than some combination of items and achievements that the devs set up to lure you into time-sinking content.
Though Green technically is not Frost spec anymore, freezing him in a block of ice seemed like a good enough plan for the silly /dance group photo.