Kurn’s Attunement Ramblings

Scattered throughout this blog are countless mentions of old attunement quests. Jailbreak. Attunement to the Core. The BWL attunement. The Black Temple attunement. They’re all over the place. I even wrote about keys last year.

Apparently, attunements are currently being discussed in the blogosphere. I’ve been wanting to jump in since day one, but I feel as though I don’t have a ton to contribute to the discussion, because I’ve already talked about attunements. A lot. (Seriously.) Then again, why should I let that stop me? ;)

The latest round of attunement discussion arose due to a few blue posts by a European Community Manager, Draztal. In essence, some people are clamouring for the return of attunements because it’ll “give people something to do”, to which Draztal responds with challenge modes, scenarios and pet battles, amongst other things. Others claim that attunements were great for explaining why we’re fighting these bosses and that lore is missing, to which Draztal responds that some people didn’t care about the lore and found that attunements were just “getting in their way” because they would be declined entry into raids that required attunements.

One of the more interesting parts of his posts was this, his second-to-last post:

I doubt it was very fun for the players that were being told “no, sorry, you need to get these attunements to join our guild” and was being rejected when he said “but noone is running these right now because it’s not current content anymore”.

Was it fun when it was current content? For some. For some others it was just another unnecesary wall preventing them from getting to the content they really wanted to do (raiding).

I’m not kidding when I say this: I could write a thesis about attunements.

But because I like you, I won’t inflict that upon you. ;) Instead, let’s talk a little bit about what I think is important about attunements and why I think they should exist, along with what changes I would make to them.

But first, let’s look at…

ATTUNEMENT HISTORY

Level 60 was the first level cap. As a brand-new level 60 character, you could not enter into Molten Core, Blackwing Lair, The Temple of Ahn’Qiraj (*) or Naxxramas (the 40-man version) without first doing various attunements. (* Technically, once someone on your server had done the excruciatingly long and difficult Scepter chain, you never had to do an attunement to get into what was called AQ40, but neither AQ20 nor AQ40 were available until someone had done that quest chain and banged the gong.) There were no heroic dungeons at 60, so there were no other kinds of attunements. (There were several key quests, mind you, but only one person in your group needed the key. They were pretty optional, although I had ALL the keys and loved them dearly.)

You could enter Zul’Gurub (20m raid instance) and The Ruins of Ahn’Qiraj (also known as AQ20) without any attunements (so long as someone had done the Scepter chain) once you hit level 58, but hitting max level did not magically imbue you with the ability to do, well, anything. No one was going to pug AQ40, so that forced a player to either continue to do 5-10 man content (by which I mean dungeons, including UBRS) or start getting into ZG/AQ20 runs (either pugs or guild runs) or work on their attunements to get into more challenging content.

In Burning Crusade, where the level cap was 70, there were reputation requirements to earn the heroic key of the various dungeons available. You had to hit Revered (initially, then later, this was brought down to Honored) with the associated faction in order to get the heroic key to literally unlock the heroic version of the instance. So for the heroic versions of Hellfire Ramparts, The Blood Furnace and Shattered Halls, you needed to be Revered with Thrallmar or Honor Hold, for example. (Shattered Halls also had its own key quest!) In addition to this, the first entry-level raid, Karazhan (a 10-man raid instance) had an extensive attunement process that everyone had to go through on every single toon they wanted to bring into the raid. (14 months after BC’s launch, they lifted the requirement that everyone have a key.)

While Gruul’s Lair and Magtheridon’s Lair did not require attunements, one typically had to start gearing up through Karazhan before they could hope to get Gruul or Magtheridon down.

Serpentshrine Cavern and Tempest Keep were the Tier 5 instances. This is where, perhaps, attunement nay-sayers who lived through this time may have a point. The Serpentshrine Cavern attunement was relatively straightforward: You had to go to Heroic Slave Pens (thereby being Revered with Cenarion Expedition), kill the first boss, find the captive Skar’this and get his quest.

His quest asks for the Earthen Signet (a drop from Gruul) and the Blazing Signet (a drop from Nightbane in Karazhan, a boss that required at least one person in the raid have done a series of quests for — in essence, its own attunement). Maybe I lied about it being straightforward…

Still, that’s “all” that was required for Serpentshrine Cavern access. It wasn’t too complicated; if you were killing Gruul and Nightbane regularly, it wasn’t a big deal to get these drops and get attuned. This attunement was lifted in June of 2007, just five months after Burning Crusade’s launch. (As such, I never did this to completion, although Kurn had the Blazing Signet at some point.)

The tricky part is Tempest Keep. Hands down, this sucked. And I never actually did this attunement either, because it was lifted in June of 2007 as well.

Long story short…

- Excessively long quest chain, then:
- Trial of the Naaru: Mercy: Heroic Shattered Halls
- Trial of the Naaru: Strength: Kalithresh in Heroic Steamvault, then Murmur in Heroic Shadow Labyrinth
- Trial of the Naaru: Tenacity: Heroic Arcatraz, rescue Millhouse Manastorm
- Trial of the Naaru: Magtheridon: Kill Magtheridon

Now let’s be clear, here. This was pre-LFG. This was back when even finishing a single Heroic Shattered Halls run was a crapshoot unless you were with a competent group, which usually consisted of a prot pally tanking. Heroic Mumur was painful. And doing Heroic Arcatraz was an exercise in masochism. Even I think Tempest Keep attunement was rough. People who did this got the Champion of the Naaru title. Champions indeed; I have a great deal of respect for people who did it, even at the end of the expansion.

Two of the Tier 6 instances, The Battle of Mount Hyjal and the Black Temple, had their own attunements, as well. (Sunwell Plateau did not.)

Hyjal required you to kill Lady Vashj in Serpentshrine Cavern and Kael’thas Sunstrider in Tempest Keep, commonly known as the Vials of Eternity quest. This was pretty straightforward, although no easy task. Black Temple attunement was considerably more annoying. It consisted of a LOT of quests, an Arcatraz run, a 5-man quest, a trip to Fathom-Lord Karathress in Serpentshrine Cavern, killing Al’ar in an Ashtongue Cowl in Tempest Keep, killing Rage Winterchill in Hyjal and basically that’s the worst of it, followed by some more questy stuff in and around Black Temple.

For being attuned to both Hyjal and BT, you got the Hand of A’dal title, since both of these attunements were no longer needed as of March 25, 2008. (This is why I tend to default to wearing my Hand of A’dal title, and I do it proudly.)

(Looking back, how in the hell did we manage to get everyone attuned to stuff? We did the BT/Hyjal attunements for most of the guild, but good gravy, in retrospect, I’m suddenly really impressed with the BC-era Apotheosis!)

Wrath of the Lich King arrived and, as is typical of Blizzard, pretty much all attunements were thrown out the window. What do I mean by that? I mean that Blizzard will find something they enjoy (in this case, attunements) and will introduce it all over the place and then when the community complains enough, they’ll swing way over to the other side of things and have very little of that thing. Another example would be the reliance on interrupt mechanics in Tier 11 content: Omnotron, Maloriak, Nefarian, Halfus, Ascendent Council, Cho’gall, which is half of the normal encounters in T11. All of these fights required people to interrupt basic boss abilities. Interrupting played an important part of precisely one encounter in Firelands (Alysrazor), or 1/7th of the encounters in Firelands.  I don’t think any actual interrupting goes on in Dragon Soul boss encounters… Anyhow, I digress. My point is that Blizzard will really overuse something they particularly like and then will throw it out the window entirely in newer content. I think moderation is the key, but what do I know?

So attunements in Wrath got thrown out the window, basically, after the attunement craziness in Burning Crusade. You dinged 80? Great, you can now enter every single raid instance and are automatically able to do heroic dungeons. The one exception is that you had to get the Key to the Focusing Iris from Sapphiron in Naxx in order to be able to do Malygos in Eye of Eternity.

Later, the raid leader had to have cleared all of Trial of the Crusader (defeat Anub’arak on normal) in order to attempt the heroic version of that raid, which was also known as Trial of the Grand Crusader. You also had to have the raid leader have killed Lich King on normal to activate heroic modes in Icecrown Citadel. There were also specific things you had to do in order to be able to face Algalon in Ulduar, but by and large, attunements didn’t exist and those that did certainly weren’t anywhere near the level they were at in Burning Crusade.

In Cataclysm, the only form of “attunement” is in terms of accessing certain bosses. You can’t do Sinestra (heroic only) if you don’t do Heroic Cho’gall. You can’t do Heroic Ragnaros without doing the previous six bosses on heroic in that particular reset. You can’t do Heroic Spine (or Madness) without doing the previous six bosses on heroic in that particular reset, either. And you can’t swap things to heroic without the raid leader having cleared things on normal.

Geez, that got long. But it was important background information to show how much attunements have changed over the last several years!

WHAT KURN THINKS IS IMPORTANT ABOUT ATTUNEMENTS

I feel that attunements have two major facets to them that are often overlooked, particularly by the more “entitled” crowd, which (I am generalizing here) is, in my observations, more likely to consist of “newer” players to the game than people who played in Vanilla or Burning Crusade. (Some of the players who dislike attunements certainly lived through the attunements of Vanilla and BC, though. Let’s not forget that not all attunements were “fun”, even for someone like me who is generally in favour of attunements.)

The first facet is that attunements act as a barrier to entry and I’ll talk a bit about why I think this is desirable. The second facet is what I will call the “Fire-Forged Friends” or “Band of Brothers” element.

BARRIER TO ENTRY

One part of an attunement process is the barrier to entry, which means that you can’t ding max level and zone in. There’s something to be done first. I like this for four reasons.

1) A sense of anticipation. Nowadays, you ding max level and can, more or less, walk into any raid instance. (LFR currently requires a 372 ilvl, but using the same-server raid finder tool has no such requirements and pugs don’t always check people’s gear, etc.)

Where is the fun in that?

For me, and for a number of people with whom I’ve played over the years, attunements for opening up raid content was often a solid step on the way to becoming a raider. It’s really hard to remember a time when I didn’t raid, but I assure you, there was such a time. It was spring of 2006 when I was wanting to start raiding, after my brother had guild-hopped (from the guild I had just joined!) to a guild that was working on Molten Core.

I was all of level 53 or 54 when he left the guild. I wasn’t attuned to the core, I couldn’t even pick up the quest (which I snatched up quickly at level 55!).

So I was not yet a raider. But I wanted to raid, so I did my homework, read up on the quests at Thottbot, then started in on various quest lines, such as Dragonkin Menace (the starter quest for the Onyxia attunement) and started making progress on various attunements.

Getting attuned to Molten Core was a huge rush. I was going to be able to go in there and kill these huge, epic bosses! … I just needed 39 other people to go with me.

My guild at the time started out small in Zul’Gurub (no attunement needed) and then started in on Molten Core in the summer and recruited and recruited and while we only ever fielded one single 40-man Molten Core raid, we did a lot with around 30-35 people. We did spawn Majordomo Executus twice and attempted Onyxia a few times. Possibly the greatest accomplishment was actually attuning everyone to Onyxia and Molten Core, to be honest… but the sense of accomplishment for completing the attunements was huge. It was a big step towards becoming a raider, because, well, not everyone COULD be a raider. If you were attuned to various raids, it was a huge boost for you and your guild. I remember this group of three guys who applied to our guild — holy paladin, rogue and a DPS warrior. They had three-manned the Onyxia chain together. Including Jailbreak. This was hugely impressive and based primarily on that, we invited them to the guild. They were excellent players and how they tackled their attunements proved that to us.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with delaying the start of raiding by adding an attunement. It adds to the sense of anticipation. It adds to the idea that you’re working towards a goal rather than just walking in and hitting a loot pinata.

2) A chance to actually gear up for the content. Okay, this is one of my pet peeves. Drives me up the effing wall. Using PVP (or other, inappropriate gear) to fool the item level checker drives me nuts. I think that the one time this is actually okay is if you have heirlooms that work from 80-85, which are counted as level 1 by the item level checker, but by and large, when someone buys a couple of PVP items to fool the item level checker, I get pissed. (I swear, this game has had a negative effect on my blood pressure.) By putting attunements in, you give people the opportunity to run dungeons that are appropriate to their level before they group up with others in LFR or heroic/etc dungeons. I am ALWAYS careful not to be a drag on my group. Always. Kurn is always hit-capped (as is my mage), for example, while I do my absolute best as a healer to help out with the mechanics of a fight (interrupting, if I can, not standing in bad, explaining things if people don’t get it). I’m that person who loves to CC to make life easier for people. I would CC regularly in Zul’Aman’s 5-man dungeon version on my paladin, by using Turn Evil on (essentially fearing) the demon guy in the temple. I love dropping traps on Kurn. I even used to kite General Drakkisath in UBRS (until the ever-awesome Toga decided to do that for us, more often than not). In short, I am basically a team player as soon as you throw me into group content.

What Blizzard did in Cataclsym is introduce the item level checker to sort of make sure that people weren’t running into various dungeons while completely unprepared. Unfortunately, since PVP gear had a higher ilvl, people quickly realized that they could have an ilvl of, well, 0, so long as they had a full set of PVP gear in their bags.

If you have an attunement, you give people a chance to get gear that will legitimately help them before they move on to more challenging content. Want to make sure someone has a great weapon? Make it a reward for the last bit of the quest. Give them armor along the way, or a trinket, or something. There should be both an emotional gain (the satisfaction of doing the attunement) as well as a material gain (gear) in order to encourage people to actually do the attunements, especially on more than one character.

3) The possibility of gaining for experience on your character before hitting content. Let’s face it, tons of people have zero idea how to play their characters efficiently for group content. If you want to quest on your own, that’s fine. As soon as you enter group content, if you’re not playing in a way that allows you to do appropriate DPS or healing for the content, you’re screwing other people over. Tanks are not immune to this either, obviously. (I am talking to you, DK tank I once had in Vortex Pinnacle, who focused on one mob alone, not spreading any diseases or dropping D&D, which meant that even a holy shock on him meant that ALL THE OTHERS would turn, as one, and beat the crap out of me.)

By delaying entry into a raid setting, you give people the opportunity to spend a bit more time learning how to play their class by being asked to complete an attunement. Sure, these same people can grind out VP on a weekly basis to get gear to bypass ilvl requirements legitimately in Mists (since PVP gear will have a lower ilvl. Level 90 crafted PVP gear seems to be at 450, while heroic gear from a dungeon is 463. Epic PVP gear is 464. Raid Finder gear is 476/483. Normal raid gear is 489/496. Heroic raid gear is 502/509.), but with the crazy amount of things you can do at 90 for Valor Points, that doesn’t necessarily mean that people will be engaging in relevant group content too much before trying to jump into LFR or pugs and making life miserable for those who DO know how to play their classes.

4) It can be used to artificially extend the content’s life. Let’s be serious. It’s July 13th. On Tuesday, July 10th, Apotheosis cleared Heroic Dragon Soul in 2h24m. And that was with a few screwups on H Zon’ozz due to some miscommunication on my part. Dragon Soul launched on November 29th. That means we’re approaching the 8-month anniversary of Dragon Soul. The nerf is about to go up to 30% next week. This is tired, stale, old content for many people. If Blizzard cannot provide us with new content, then why not try to extend the life of the content? I’m not talking about something ridiculous like having one new boss available per week, they way they did with Trial of the Crusader, but maybe various wings opening more slowly, the way they did in Icecrown Citadel (albeit without the limited number of wipes, which only forced the more hardcore people to level and raid with alts before getting the strat down and then downing the boss in their main group). Or, you know, a form of attunement. Maybe in order to get into Throne of the Four Winds, you would have had to clear Bastion on normal. Or in order to spawn Nefarian, maybe you would have had to do a questline that included Heroic Blackrock Caverns and a quick trip to an instanced Blackwing Lair, where you might have been able to see Nefarian retreat into Blackwing Descent? See Onyxia be reanimated? How much cooler would that have made Blackwing Descent?

I don’t mind a long attunement quest chain, obviously, but what if you started doing one when you’re two levels from max level?

What if there existed, in Mists of Pandaria, a long attunement quest chain that started at level 88 that you could work on ’till you got to level 90, then were asked to run, I don’t know, three specific heroics in order to be attuned and then that’s it for attunement? It would give XP as you were getting to 90, with some nice rewards now and again (especially at the end) and it wouldn’t be dramatically difficult, but it might give people the opportunity to learn more about what they’re about to do, or even, I suppose, what they’re about to be able to do.

I’m thinking out loud and this blog is already almost 3500 words long, so I’ll move on to my next section.

FIRE FORGED FRIENDS” / “BAND OF BROTHERS” ELEMENT

Do you know what I remember most about killing Lady Vashj, apart from the 15k crit Lay on Hands that saved our tank’s life at ~3% on the boss left? I remember the people. I remember one of the tanks dying, getting a battle rez and then dying in poison. I remember the “west side” of the platform, which got three of the tainted elementals, and I remember exactly who was on that side (WEST SIDE STRONG SIDE!). I remember the cries of joy and sheer triumph that came from my Vent, practically deafening us all.

These were people I had sweated with through the rest of SSC. These were people I worked hard with to defeat those other bosses. These were the people I was technically working with the complete the attunements to Hyjal and BT.

I remember the Onyxia attunement — running Jailbreak over and over again. I remember getting the Blood of the Black Dragon Champion from Drakkisath to finish off that attunement, and how they were limited drops that only a couple of people could get. I remember working with the same people over and over again, getting better at working together as a team, accomplishing these steps in attunements for people. I remember saying to apps “Not attuned to the core? No problem, we have a team that can take care of that for you,” and they were like “REALLY?”.

It was a bonding experience. We fought together, side by side, getting bosses down through sheer will and, occasionally, dumb luck. Every single step we took together, through attunements and into raid instances, felt important and everyone learned so much about not just their characters, but their fellow guildies.

Do you know that, to this day, I can basically tell which add Majik is going to sheep and I can trap another one? I’ve been playing alongside him for so long that I can anticipate just about everything he’s going to do. Part of that is because we’ve played together a LOT, including attunements.

These memories of attuning yourself to a raid, they’re not worthless, especially if you’re doing it with your friends or your guildies. They’re part of the journey you’re taking together.

Maybe I have a different perspective on things because I wasn’t always a raider and I’ve always viewed the steps to becoming a raider as being particularly important. Maybe I put too much emphasis on that epic six-hour BRD run when I got attuned to the core. Maybe I should forget about those last-minute, 30-minute pre-raid attunement runs for MC, even though we got GOOD at them and had a blast.

I don’t think I will, though. We’re coming to the end of my WoW career and what I will remember is not dinging 80 or 85 and running heroics. I’ll remember Majik dying on his Jailbreak run and having to do it over again. I’ll remember being in awe at the sheer size of Blackrock Depths as this hunter and paladin dragged me (on Kurn), my guildie (a paladin) and a pug mage through everything, including an Emp run. I’ll remember getting Hand of A’dal after killing Kael’thas Sunstrider. I’ll remember the journeys I’ve taken with so many people over the years, and attunement is a huge part of some of those journeys.

CONCLUSION

I think that attunements would be nice. I think that you could even have guild-level attunements or, my preferred option, account-wide attunements. No one liked doing Jailbreak a second time or running through BRD to get attuned a second time or doing the crazy BT attunement for a second character. (Am I weird if I liked doing Karazhan attunement a lot? I thought so.)

More than that, though, I think attunements served a purpose. I think they could still serve a purpose.

I just don’t think Blizzard and I will ever agree on the subject and that’s just one more reason why I’m calling it quits after Cataclysm.

Saviour of Azeroth

(Yes, I spell Saviour with a U. I’m Canadian. Let it be.)

I have been playing World of Warcraft fairly steadily since October of 2005. That is nearly seven years. It is very, very, very rare for me to achieve anything for “the first time”, these days. That’s to say, while I can kill a new boss for a first time, I’ve killed plenty of new bosses for the first time. While I can kill a new heroic boss for the first time, I’ve killed plenty of new heroic bosses for the first time.

This tier has been a challenging one for me, and for my guild. Released just before the holidays, the normal modes of Dragon Soul seemed pretty elementary to those of us in Apotheosis. It took us three weeks to clear all the normal content, and part of that was Spine and Madness each taking a week out of us, plus roster issues due to holidays.

Roster issues. Never in my life have I been happier to have had an overflowing roster going into a tier of content. We have lost: Kamilla, Huntertoga, Hestiah, Mabriam, Tiandrina, Xmolder, Daey, Arolaide, Murran and Dar since the end of Firelands. That is 8 DPS (all three of our warlocks and a legendary mage) and 2 healers. And none of them jumped ship to another guild, those are all people who just decided to stop raiding. I feel most comfortable with 33-34 people on a roster for a 25-man raiding guild. We have been running with around 28-29 people. It’s not always been easy for us over the last few months.

But we kept at it.

Heroic Morchok, Heroic Hagara (server first!), Heroic Yor’sahj, Heroic Zon’ozz, Heroic Ultraxion, Heroic Blackhorn… then Heroic Spine of Deathwing and finally, Sunday night, Heroic Madness of Deathwing.

For the first time in my WoW career, I have cleared all heroic content on the current tier. (4/5 TOGC, 11/12 H ICC, 7/13 H T11, 6/7 H T12 and now 8/8 H T13.)

It’s definitely been an uphill climb. Sometimes, it’s been uphill in the snow (yes, hi, main spec healer doing offspec DPS and main spec DPS warrior tanking bloods for Heroic Spine? A night of work on Heroic Madness with 0 main spec tanks in the raid?). Sometimes, the attendance boss would rear its ugly head. But we usually worked it out and at least got something done, even on those sketchy nights.

This is the reward. Saviour of Azeroth. 8/8 HM. And we did most of our progression at the 0-10% nerf level. While it took us a while to get Spine down (and up to the 20% nerf), we would have had it with another week’s worth, regardless of the increase to 20%. And Madness is just such a joke after toiling forever on Spine.

But it’s such a relief to get it done. We’re not done raiding, but the tough stuff is over. One more heroic clear to ensure everyone gets the title/achievement, then over to “fun” achievements to get the Glory of the Dragon Soul Raider meta achievement and drakes and all that other jazz, before resuming heroic farm.

In the meantime, my “real” life has been competing with WoW stuff during almost the entirety of Dragon Soul. My grandmother broke her hip on December 21st, was hospitalized and only returned home two months later. I started my final semester of university in January. My father was hospitalized in April. I had two killer exams on the same day. I took a couple of raids off with Apotheosis and didn’t raid with Choice on my baby pally for about two weeks in there. The time off did me good and I haven’t spent a ton of time in-game since my exams ended. The time I’ve spent playing WoW has generally been raiding and the rest of my WoW-related time has been spent either podcasting or planning out raid stuff or recruiting. (Apply now!) Obviously, I haven’t been blogging and I’ve barely touched beta (though I really ought to) and I won’t be spending a lot of time playing Diablo III, although I did start a character this morning.

The good news is that my father’s out of the hospital and doing pretty well.

My grandmother’s hip isn’t what it used to be and she’s still struggling at home, but she’s applied to a senior’s residence that is pretty swanky, so we’ll see when they have a spot available. Until then, I’m still playing errand-girl, since I live two floors down from her in the same building.

So real life is settling down a bit. I passed my exams and my classes so I should be graduating on June 18th.

Things are better. I hope to be able to sit down soon and spend more time on this blog with you all than I have over the last month. :)

There’s been talk recently about having account-wide achievements in Mists of Pandaria and it leaves me (and I suspect many others) unsure as to how to feel about this.

I am not the only person who raids with a different character now than she did in Vanilla or Burning Crusade or Wrath or even earlier this expansion. Kurnmogh, my hunter, hasn’t seriously raided current content on a regular basis since Vanilla. I managed to get in for the Tidewalker kill in SSC on the hunter, as well as the Gorefiend kill in Black Temple, but, by and large, since Burning Crusade, I’ve been healing in 25-man raids, while farming and doing silly things on my hunter.

That means that while I still have a huge attachment to Kurn (obviously), all my raiding achievements (and titles) are on Madrana.

It took me a bit of time to accept this, especially the title part of it. I was not so pleased to miss out on getting Hand of A’dal on Kurn, while I was thrilled to get it at all.

As the years went by, the achievements, titles and mounts started piling up on Madrana. Hand of A’dal. Twilight Vanquisher. Astral Walker. Kingslayer. Glory of the Icecrown Raider (25). Defender of a Shattered World. Glory of the Firelands Raider. Destroyer’s End. All of them gotten while the content was current, except for Astral Walker, gotten during Tier 9 content.

In the meantime, Kurn got all the holiday titles and even managed to get the Baron’s mount. Kurn managed to snag of the Nightfall in T10 gear and also got Kingslayer, and Defender of a Shattered World but most of those came when it wasn’t current or was heavily nerfed (30% buff in ICC, zerging Sarth 3D 10-man for fun, post-nerf T11 content).

And then there’s the OTHER holy paladin. I am the same player playing that holy paladin, Madrana of Skywall, as I am playing Madrana of Eldre’Thalas. Madrana of Eldre’Thalas WAS Madrana of Skywall for about six months at the end of Wrath. But the current Madrana of Skywall is a new toon, the baby pally, I call her. She hasn’t earned anything.

I lie, she’s got “the Patient”, “Kingslayer” and “Destroyer’s End” (and the Kingslayer was because I helped out a group of guildies get the Been Waiting a Long Time achievement on LK, then got the kill and the title).

But just because I haven’t earned anything of note, really, on the baby pally, does that mean I’m not capable of having done so? No, because I clearly did all that on the OTHER Madrana.

It makes my head hurt.

So I’m going to say that no, I don’t think achievements should be account-wide. For me, my achievements show a very clear snapshot of what I was doing at a certain time in my WoW career. It reads like a resumé. I am so very proud of so many of my achievements and titles and mounts that I got on Madrana. While it would be nice to have them accessible to me on the baby pally, or ride my Icebound Frostbrood Vanquisher or Corrupted Egg of Millagazor on Kurn, it seems inauthentic.

Terribly strange, isn’t it? I mean, they’re MY achievements, MY titles, MY mounts, but I feel if I didn’t earn them with a specific character, that character shouldn’t get to benefit from them. (Conversely, this does not mean I don’t think arcanums should continue to be account-bound, but that’s more because I’m lazy and hate rep grinds, not because of anything larger.)

I guess it comes down to what do those achievements, titles and mounts mean to me? I find the idea of being able to wear the “Hand of A’dal” title on Kurn to be, well, devaluing the work and time I put in on the Lady Vashj and Kael’thas fights on Madrana. I know, it’s weird.

But let’s take account-wide achievements a step further to maybe illustrate my point.

The baby pally has 525 cooking, as do Kurn and Madrana of Eldre’Thalas. Both Kurn and Madrana of ET have the Chef’s Hat. Having not spent two years in Wrath of the Lich King content, the baby paladin never got 100 Dalaran Cooking Awards and never was able to buy the Chef’s Hat. (WTB one of these for each profession, by the way.) This means that the baby pally’s hearth is currently in Dalaran so she can do cooking dailies efficiently (and also take the CoT port from Dal to get down to Dragon Soul quickly) and I’m at a woeful 52 tokens. (No, she doesn’t have high enough fishing either to do the Dalaran Fishing Dailies in the hopes of a Waterlogged Recipe, either.)

Should I need to grind that up to 100 to get the hat? I have it on two characters, already, shouldn’t I just be able to send that along? In a world where my level 5 bank alt could potentially wear the Hand of A’dal title, why on earth shouldn’t all my characters have access to at least one of the two Chef’s Hats I have?

For that matter, why should I have to level up cooking to 525 on THREE characters? Surely just one character knowing cooking ought to suffice. Same with first aid and, of course, fishing!

But if we go that route, what about “real” professions, like Leatherworking, Inscription and Alchemy? No kidding, I have four characters at 525 Alchemy, three at 525 Inscription, three at 525 Herbalism, two at 525 Mining and basically one of everything at max level save Engineering and Blacksmithing. Shouldn’t that stuff carry over as well? I mean, I’m the one who did all that work, right? I’m the one who sat there and milled ’till my fingers were raw (okay, not quite that bad, but still). I’m the one who did all of that on all kinds of different characters, on a variety of servers.

So if we open the door to account-wide achievements, titles, mounts and pets… where does it stop? Where should it stop? Where do you draw the line between “quality of life improvement” and “completely freaking ridiculous”? Is there even a line TO draw between those two points? I would argue that the Chef’s Hat, for instance, would be a quality of life improvement, but my level 5 bank alt being a Hand of A’dal would be completely freaking ridiculous. But someone else might think that the Chef’s Hat is ridiculous and the level 5 bank alt with that title would be AMAZING.

I strongly suspect that questions like these are the primary reason we haven’t seen much account-wide stuff to date and why they’ll probably “test out” account-wide pets and the like first. The slippery slope is just too slippery. What is completely acceptable to one person is a step too far for another. Taken to the extreme, you could make an argument for throwing out the levelling process because “hey, I got to level 85/90/100 on one character! Make all my toons that level!”

I do agree I’m probably a little strange with my identity issues (“But KURN never killed Vashj and Kael!!!”) but I think my own situation, particularly with the baby pally thrown in the mix, illustrates an interesting conundrum with regards to the value of these rewards and the reasons people attach meaning to them. I think all of these are important questions and situations that need to be looked at before they throw the doors open to account-wide achievements.

(Blatant guild plug: Remember, Apotheosis of Eldre’Thalas is 2/8 HM with Heroic Yor’sahj to 22% and is recruiting!!!)

Glory of the Firelands Raider Achieved

So my last post detailed how crappy it is to be the one who makes decisions like “who gets their mount first?” and such. Shortly after posting that, we walked into Firelands with 25 people and got 23 people their Glory of the Firelands Raider achievements. (The other two in the group just need Only the Penitent…)

This post will detail how to go about getting those less-common achievements, or at least how we did them. I won’t cover the six heroic boss kills, nor Share the Pain, nor Only the Penitent…

The first tip is that we did all of these achievements on NORMAL MODE. That was a huge help.

Death from Above

Goal

This achievement basically means that, during the Beth’tilac encounter, you don’t kill any Cinderweb Drones while they’re below the web. If you are to kill them at all, you kill them above the web.

How to Get It

1) Send up as many people to the top of the web as you can while still assuring yourself of the ability to kill all Spinners and Spiderlings below. This should include a tank, at least one healer and some DPS.

2) Downstairs DPS should stop DPS on the Cinderweb Drones at 20%. Then ignore them. Their energy will tick down. When it reaches 0%, they will go up to the top of the web and will start to drain energy from Beth’tilac herself. This will have the side-effect that she will cast Smoldering Devastation sooner and, as a result, will transition to Phase 2 (the ground/burn phase) sooner.

3) As soon as a Cinderweb Drone goes up to the top of the web, DPS above should focus on it to kill it.

4) If a Cinderweb Drone comes back downstairs, YOU MUST NOT KILL IT. Off-tank it. If it is low on health, let it consume a Cinderweb Spiderling!

5) Tanks should swap between tanking Beth’tilac and when they get Widow’s Kiss, they should pick up any Cinderweb Drones that remain and then swap back. You will likely have 2 drones — one that has already gone up and one that just recently spawned.

We did this on our first attempt, although it was a little hairy and we needed to feed 1-2 spiderlings to a drone.

We had 1 tank, 2 healers and 7 DPS go up top with 1 tank, 4 healers and 10 DPS stay on the bottom.

Not an Ambi-Turner

Goal

This achievement wants you to defeat Rhyolith without ever turning him left. Don’t be fooled by the “while his armor is intact” crap. That means until he sheds it completely at 25%, not when all armor stacks have worn off. Also, damage to the left foot is acceptable, but as soon as he turns left, you are screwed.

How to Get It

Tikari, one of our melee officers and the one who “drives” Rhyolith, brought this solution to the table:

We will want as much direct damage, and as few DoT’s as possible – zero DoT’s on the left legs. For example, I’ll be going with instant/instant poison.

We will have the following calls:
1. Stop DPS (this means everything).
2. Soft right (~6 DPS or so to execute sweeping turns).
3. Hard right (~10 DPS or so assigned to legs opens up on them to make tight turns).

Zero dps on the legs at the start. I mean, zero. We will let him walk forward, stomp, summon two volcanoes, and light one (hopefully one to his right – if not, we’ll deal). Then we will turn right (likely soft) on my call. I will try to keep a soft right call going to get as many volcanoes early as possible. Then as we get closer, we’ll switch to hard rights and just keep him spinning clockwise as we burn him as quickly as possible to force phase 2.

And that’s pretty much what we did. At about 50% or so, we blew heroism and EVERY DPS in the raid switched to the right leg and we turned him in circles for a little bit until he hit 25%, then we blew him up. Beautiful.

We did this on our second attempt (the first had nowhere near enough DPS to turn him, so we bumped that to 6 from 2). Raid comp here was 2 tanks, 6 healers, 17 DPS. Specifically on the legs: 1 combat rogue, 1 assassination rogue, 1 fury warrior, 2 frost DKs, 1 marks hunter, 1 elemental shaman and 2 arcane mages.

Bucket List

Goal

Drag Shannox all over the freaking map to each of the points required, then kill him.

How to Get It

A really simple, if somewhat long, achievement. (And we did it while someone in the raid was getting their foci from Shannox, too!)

First – clear a LOT of trash. You’ll need the space. Anything on the road from the Path of Corruption all the way to Alysrazor’s room and any wandering patrols.

Essentially, you want to pull him at the Path of Corruption. Pull him up the ramp of it until the achievement UI pane checks off “Path of Corruption”. While this is happening and Shannox is turned around again to go back DOWN the path of Corruption, DPS should open up and absolutely slaughter Rageface, to make the encounter slightly less complicated. This will, of course, cause Shannox to do a bit of extra damage.

Going along the road over towards the entrance, you’ll pass by Beth’tilac’s cliffs. Hug the cliffs and you will eventually get credit for Beth’tilac’s Lair. There’s a great spot just to the right of the ramp leading up to Beth’tilac if you’re having trouble finding a spot.

Then head over towards the entrance of the instance. Just a bit up the ramp from where the portal to Majordomo’s area is will be the border for “Flamebreach” and you just need to cross Shannox past that before spinning him around and moving on.

Next up, head over towards Rhyolith’s ramp. Make sure you’ve done Rhyolith FIRST (or at least his trash!) so that you don’t trigger the gauntlet. You just need to go a little ways up. Again, watch the achievement pane for credit, then turn around and head for Alysrazor’s room.

We had previously killed Alysrazor, so we just fought Shannox in there. We had already killed Rageface, so we killed Riplimb, blew heroism and killed Shannox.

Again, the raid comp was 2 tanks, 6 healers and 17 DPS.

Do a Barrel Roll!

Goal

Essentially, the goal of this is to not take any avoidable environmental damage here. No Brushfire, no Lava Spew, no Fiery Tornadoes and no Incendiary Clouds.

How to Get It

We sent five DPS up in the air, as per usual. This left us with 12 DPS on the ground, 2 tanks and 6 healers.

DPS had the instructions to focus the Initiates as they dropped to essentially blow them up before they got a Brushfire out. Stuns were useful here, since Brushfire is not interruptable. This helped greatly to eliminate the chance of hitting Brushfire, because, well, there were very few Brushfires to be found.

Tanks were given the instructions to eat their plump lava worms almost as soon as they could. On normal mode, you get 2 spawns of 2 worms each. We had the tanks use cooldowns through tantrums until the hatchlings were dead. This helped greatly to eliminate the chance of hitting Lava Spew, because the worms were barely alive long enough to clip someone.

The air team was fantastic in dodging Incendiary Clouds, so make sure whoever you send up is extremely comfortable up there.

Fiery Tornadoes were the sticking point, but we found a specific spot on the ground where tornadoes spawn near. Once we all clumped up on that spot and chased the tornadoes around from then on, it only took us a total of two attempts to get the achievement done.

Here’s the spot. It’s on the southern wall of the room. Here’s the picture — that’s the entance to the left.

 

As noted, the tornadoes will go CLOCKWISE, so you’re in a good spot if you’re just off the purple spot towards the entrance.

The biggest problem here was people “getting lost in the crowd”, so to speak. I nearly clipped a tornado because I lost track of where my own toon was and had drifted right a bit, and someone ended up clipping one, so we called a wipe and tried again. It worked beautifully.

Tips:

- Have the Achievement UI pane open (track the achievement) for Bucket List. It really helps.
- Use Raid Achievement for Do a Barrel Roll. It’s really handy and tells you what portion of the fight was failed and by whom. So if your whole raid team, for example, has gotten through a fight with Alysrazor and not taken Brushfire damage, and you already have that portion of the achievement, you can ignore any Brushfire failures.

Hope that’s helpful to everyone attempting their hand at Glory of the Firelands Raider! The other achievements are either really easy (Share the Pain, Only the Penitent) or depend on your group’s progression through Firelands (need all bosses dead on heroic except for Ragnaros).

Good luck!

Guilt and Glory of the Firelands Raider

One of my favourite memories about Burning Crusade is also one of my most guilt-inducing memories about Burning Crusade. I led Apotheosis to Vashj and Kael’thas kills before the Hand of A’dal title was no longer obtainable. Bear in mind that these were fights that we worked on seemingly forever. With a roster that was ever-changing and ridiculously low attendance “requirements”, it’s a wonder we made it through 4/5 Hyjal and 5/9 Black Temple before 3.0 dropped.

But we did it. We worked hard at getting Vashj down three times and Kael died twice, I believe it was.

One of my best moments was getting one of our rogues, Kut, his Hand of A’dal title. Kut had been around in Tier 4 and parts of Tier 5, but had a demanding schedule of work and class and, honestly, having him there for both a Vashj kill and a Kael kill was just flat-out luck, it feels like. I did what I could to work around his schedule and it paid off with Kut, our token “lying dead in the fire” rogue, getting his Hand of A’dal title.

The flipside of that is that we didn’t get Majik his. Maj had his own conflicts with raiding and such. We did get him a Kael kill, but the one night we’d set aside for Vashj for a fourth kill… things just didn’t click. We couldn’t get her down again. Our second-ever kill of Vashj was a 1-shot (seriously!) but we couldn’t close the deal on what was to be our fourth kill. And so Majik, and a couple of others, never got their Hand of A’dal titles.

Thus, Hand of A’dal is both one of my best moments and one of my worst.

Tonight, Apotheosis starts in on Glory of the Firelands Raider achievements. Well, that’s a bit misleading. We’ve already accomplished most of those — all six heroic bosses required? Done. Share the Pain? Done. Only the Penitent…? Done (and easily repeatable if anyone’s missing it). Ostensibly, the worst is over.

So I’m faced with a list of 32 people who could possibly be at the raid tonight and only 25 spots to give out.

One thing that I was pretty clear about was that the Raider-ranked people would be given priority on the first reset, but then there’s the group composition to think about. I’m basically going to have to sit a tank and a healer who are Raider-ranked and pull in at least one (perhaps two) Initiates who are DPS.

Plus, if people are causing our failure on Alysrazor’s Do a Barrel Roll! then I’m going to have to sit people and pull in others.

All of it together combines to stress me out just a wee bit.

Now, I know that I’ll be able to get most people their achievements and mounts and, barring catastrophic failure, my own achievements and mount are secured. But the important thing to me is that people not be left behind on this particular set of achievements. Yet, due to 4.3 likely coming out on November 29th, I fear that some of our Initiates who don’t have Alysrazor, Shannox, Beth’tilac or Rhyolith on heroic won’t get theirs. And that sucks. And of course, if anything goes seriously wrong with an achievement (I can foresee SO many problems…) then it’s possible we could screw it up this week and screw 10ish people out of their achievements due to a lack of time.

Ultimately, we didn’t have the news that 4.3 was likely launching on November 29th until November 10th, by which point we’d already killed Shannox, Beth’tilac, Rhyolith and Alysrazor on heroic, so we couldn’t go backwards, revive them and spend last reset doing achievements.

Instead, we repeated 6 heroic boss kills (including our second H Baleroc kill) and played with Heroic Ragnaros and that, essentially, will mean that the majority of us have gotten all the upgrades we can possibly get (barring possible Baleroc and Majordomo heroic loot). In short, the guild is probably stronger for spending last week clearing 6/7 heroic modes and we’re probably better prepared for 4,3′s raid because of it, but it might be at the cost of getting some of our newer people their meta achievement and their mount. Which sucks. And that’s why I mentioned the Hand of A’dal title to start out this post. We literally ran out of time before the title was no longer available and that’s why Majik doesn’t have it. I’m hoping 4.3 is delayed just one more week so that we can finish out the achievements and get one more 6/7 HM reset in, but if that doesn’t happen, then, once again, my guild will have literally run out of time to get some people some achievements.

Second-guessing myself and my decisions (and the decisions of the other officers) does us no good, but it’s still disappointing to know that, if the patch does drop on November 29th, we had the opportunity to do the achievements last week and didn’t. I guess it shows that I value the people in the guild more than the gear, and that’s probably a good thing, but I probably won’t feel great about things unless 4.3 comes out on December 6th.

It’s decisions like these that I stress out over and probably the fact that I do stress over them means that I’m a decent leader, but it’s definitely an unpleasant part of the job.

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