Thursday, March 19, 2009

Flawless Victory

Last night, I was present for yet another death of Normal-Difficulty Kel'Thuzad. However, as the Lich Lord faded into a little black dot, a magical thing happened:

"You have earned the title, 'Rycharde the Undying'"

In three-and-a-half hours, Nine other players and I made a Horde-side first accomplishment on the Antonidas server. We went end to end through Normal Naxxramas without a single death - neither on trash nor on a boss did a single player die (we know that trash doesn't count, but it turns out that we're purists). This was our first planned attempt at "The Undying" achievement.

So, we one-shot perhaps the hardest achievement in Normal Naxxramas, and of that I'm extremely proud. This particular achievement means so much to me because of the uniform difficulty it imposes to all of the raiders. That is, every single player within this run had to survive every fight in the instance on the first try. We made no replacements when we reached Kel'Thuzad.

I don't know how to better express the magnitude of skill that this achievement requires of every one of the raiders. To survive every single fight requires a great deal of attention for the entire run. No mistakes and no slips could occur: not one made a mistake.

This touches back to that raid responsiveness post I made. Our achievement here didn't come from having excessively powerful gear: not one of us is fully geared from Heroic Naxx, and I for one had swapped gear to maximize threat generation, rather than survivability. We didn't make the Quick Werk achievement. No, the achievement was not made possible because of the ilvl of our gear (Our gear is good, to be sure, but that simply supplied a larger buffer for us. We never dipped into that buffer). The achievement came from superior gameplay performance from the players involved.

Perhaps the best example of responsiveness came during the KT encounter. At about 30%, our offtank was Frost Blasted while tanking both of the adds. Only one healer was in range of him at the time, and our Ventrilo channel started freaking out. I kept a play-by-play up over them, and just as our OT dropped to 20% health, he was back to full health. WHat happened? Our Ret Pally snapped a Lay on Hands onto the OT. Now, do you have the responsiveness to target your off-tank and use a tanksaving ability in three seconds, within your DPS rotation, without a raid warning as a prompt? I'm confident that every raider involved in our achievement could do this, and those kinds of performances are what truly make me proud of our achievement.

The Roster, for those of you who are curious:
Rycharde (Comitatus), Protection Warrior - Tank
Awäke (VIP), Retribution Paladin - DPS
Cretlucid (Comitatus), Protection Paladin - Tank
Caboosé (VIP), Discipline Priest - Healer
(Comitatus), Restoration Shaman - Healer
(VIP), Restoration Shaman - Healer
Brangane (Comitatus), Fire/Arcane Mage - DPS
Telulu (VIP), Balance Druid - DPS
Victimize (Comitatus), Demo/Destro Warlock - DPS
Kelgor (Comitatus), Survival Hunter - DPS

You'll note that this was a two-guild effort (6 Comitatus members, 4 VIP members). Awäke and I each lead much of the 25-man content that our guilds are presently running. We planned this run for several reasons:

First, we wanted to expose our players to each other. Running with guildies is a good thing. Running only with guildies can become dangerous: there's too much risk of becoming a single, exclusive clique. Players risk losing touch with and even ignoring other players that are very good, simply because they are in another guild. Awäke and I don't want to have that happen, at least not for our own gaming experiences. We won't let guild boundaries restrict who we ask to work with us.

Second, we were getting quite burnt by the admittedly amatuer attempts of our guilds to work Heroic Raids. There's nothing wrong with the systems that our guilds are using, but the process of learning to work with 24 other players simultaneously is a very trying task. We're new to these process, so it's guaranteed to be painful and slow. Taking some time out to work on 10-man content in an independent venue allowed for a calmer, more relaxing experience that we spliced in between our guild's scheduled runs.

Third, we were looking for a viable challenge. Having cleared all 10-man content well over two months ago, achievements are just about the only source of challenge. We considered trying to 8-man content, but that means we must leave another two people out - a less desirable option when compared to just keeping everyone alive. "The Undying" achievement was a fun challenge; it took a lot of attention and readiness to improvise, yet allowed us to have a good time chatting and planning over Ventrilo.

So sure, we may get some flak for not doing a single-guild run. But those of us who ran the fights had a good time, and now have an amazing title to commemorate the achievement. I feel great about how the run went, and I look forward to working with those players again, and so should we all. There are several other players who I would love to bring in to our runs, as well (again, the limitation of people fitting in the raid is a bit painful). Then there's "Of The Twilight," "You Don't Have an Eternity," and all of the "Less is More" achievements. Now that we know we can survive anything, we should be able to accomplish all of the achievements.

Finally, to my raidmates: as of 3/18/2009, we are the first 10 Horde players on Antonidas with "The Undying" achievement. Congratulations; You Win Forever.

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