Fail? Or no fail?

It has been said before that my guild has issues in heroics. Issues of heroic proportions, one might say.

Issues as in, we still wipe in heroic Nexus.

On Telestra.

We wipe on trash. It’s our motto.

Almost all of us are to the point with our gear that the only upgrades to be found are in 10 and 25-man content. A badge piece here, maybe a new pair of boots over there. But for the most part, we are as geared as we can get before setting foot into Naxx.

Our usual party make up has been a prot pally tank, a holy pally healer, an arcane mage (me), an assassination rogue, and an affliction warlock.

I think this particular party has failed in every heroic we have tried. We have not succeeded in several of them, I was missing 8 for my heroic dungeon achievement.

I push 2k DPS. I was over 2k, but then someone saw fit to hit my Arcane Barrage with the nerf bat and now I’m dipping under 2k for overall damage in a run. On individual boss fights, I’m still above 2k and can hit 2.4 if the RNG is kind and I’m good on my cooldowns. I’m still twiddling with new rotations in response to the nerf bat, but I’m holding my own.

Our rogue is doing well, usually around 1.7 for the entire run with nice spikes well over 2k on the bosses. We don’t bring rogues to clear trash, that’s what I’m for.

The tank does around 1 to 1.2k. That’s low compared to a lot of other tanks out there, but if he keeps aggro I honestly don’t care about his numbers. Keep the nasty thing chewing on your face and I will kill it for you.

Our healer makes it on the damage chart only because he drops judgments to trigger some of his abilities. Lots of beetles and spiders have been sacrificed in the name of a critical heal.

And then there’s the warlock. Rumor has it that affliction rocks. It’s supposed to be complicated, but the damage output is supposed to be impressive. Bless her little heart, our warlock can hit 1500 under full raid buffs on Arch. For normal runs, I’m happy when she averages 1k for the run and hits 1200 for a boss. This is a vast improvement over the 600-800 she was doing as a semi-geared 80 a few weeks ago.

We wipe in heroics. Nexus. Utgarde Keep. Utgarde Pinnacle. Violet Hold. Halls of Lightning. Halls of Stone. Gun’drak. See the pattern? We wipe, a lot. We usually do one, maybe two heroic attempts and then call it quits. Everyone limps back to Dal and ponies up for huge repair bills.

We also have a frost mage who beats my pants off. He’s also my 2v2 partner. He’s got it down. Knows his gear, his spec, his rotations. Even wrote the frost raiding guide for Raider 101 (check it out: ). But frost has fallen on some hard times and is not the damage-dealing behemoth it once was. And after rushing through so much content, I think my frost mage buddy got a little burned out.

So what do you do when you get burned out?

You roll another character!

Our frost mage was tossed on the shelf and only comes down to do the occasional daily or raid Naxx late on a work night with this other guild that’s trying to recruit him.

Now we have a Death Knight among us. Yes, it’s a flavor of the month, but you know what? They are fun to play. He’s enjoying the game again and is even building up a tanking set. Turns out he enjoys tanking just as much as killing. And a DK tank does almost as much killing as DPS. It’s a really good fit for him.

So yesterday we’re putting together our normal heroic attempts. Halls of Lightning was the daily heroic. We’ve never gotten through Loken. Nexus is the normal.

The warlock is not at her keyboard… but the DK is. DPS swap!

We head off to Nexus and decide to take it on heroic. Why bother with normal? We have GOT to get this figured out. We wipe once, early on. The DK’s ghoul got knocked back by a berserker in the frozen hallway and aggroed the Commander before we were ready. Other than that, it was a good run.

Port back to Dal to turn in the quest and repair. Why not do heroic Violet Hold while we are here? Our rogue needs a cloak from one of the random bosses. Of course, we don’t get that boss. He needs Erekem and we got the void walker and the lava hound. We should have gotten the achievement for not killing any of the void sentries, but we think when the tank got shifted, his Consecrate may have done enough damage to kill one. Oh well.

Off to Halls of Lightning, since it’s the daily. We get through very well until the titanium vanguards. The healer has to use a major cooldown and doesn’t want to run Loken until it’s back up. We have cleared everything up to Loken except two constructs on the side of the room right before him. 5 minutes until his ability is back up, how hard could it be to take out those two guys? Apparently very hard. When the dust had settled, only myself and the DK were still up. I only survived by dropping Mirror Image and ducking behind a pillar to bandage myself. Runic Focus is harsh. But now everyone’s cooldowns are back up so we can try Loken.

Normally, we do the “everyone run back and forth up the stairs along the white line to avoid the nova” tactic. We decided to try the “everyone but the healer run back and forth up the stairs along the white line to avoid the nova” tactic, also known as the “triangle” tactic. The idea is that the healer will be eating all the aura damage from Loken, but will be just out of range of the nova at all times. Beacon of Light on himself, and our healer is good to go. Not only did we finally get the achievement for defeating Heroic Halls of Lightning, we managed to bring him down in under two minutes and get that achievement as well. We were not expecting that one. Go us!

Back to Dal to repair and clean out bags.

Why not run heroic Utgarde Keep? We’re on a roll here. Off to the Howling Fjord. Nice clean run. We almost got the On the Rocks achievement, but the tank got tombed and apparently it counts when Prince Keleseth breaks a frost tomb himself. I even managed to not die when we fought Skarvald and Dalronn. Normally, Skarvald intercepts me for a critical hit and I die within 10 seconds. I now switch to my PvP gear set for this fight to get the extra HP buffer and am living through it.

Back to Dal. How about heroic Drak’Tharon?

At this point it’s our 5th heroic and we’re staring to show a few signs of fatigue. We wipe a couple times on some trash, but we get the Oh Novos! achievement and successfully finish the whole instance off, also gaining an achievement for that.

5 heroics, 2 of which we’ve never successfully completed.

Normally, we can’t get through 2.

All we did was switch out one person, thereby gaining over 1k DPS.

We know we have some healing and tanking issues. Paladin heals are challenging on multiple targets and our healer is frequently plagued by lag. He is also easily distracted and may not always communicate when he’s not giving his full attention or even notice that he’s being attacked and needs some help. The tanking has gotten much better after he got some add on that reminds him to reapply his Righteous Fury. Lack of Righteous Fury was the leading cause of party wipes and mage deaths for quite some time. He’s not always as quick as we would like him to be when a strategy needs to be changed on the fly, but we get by.

From all of this, we validate two points:

  1. Gear makes a player prettier. It does not automatically make a player better.
    The warlock and I have very similar gear. We are both at the point where we are starting to eye Naxx as our only option for upgrades. I am doing almost twice her damage in almost every encounter. Gone are the days when getting that one last piece of gear pushes you into the next level of ability. You really need to know what you’re doing to do anything. Our warlock looks pretty but not standing in fires, not falling off cliffs, and targeting are still huge problems.
  2. DPS matters now.
    It used to be that the life of the party depended on having a tank and a healer that were awesome, they could pull sub-par DPS through. If either were weak, no amount of DPS could pull them through. We didn’t change our heals or tanks; the addition of 1k+ DPS allowed my guild to go from chain failing to chain success in heroics.

We now know that we can successfully tackle many heroics that were just horrendous for us. Unfortunately, being able to complete heroics requires that we exclude a member of the guild from runs. I know she’s doing the research to learn best rotations, but will it be enough? I think she’s starting to realize that her lack of ability is hampering us, but it’s hard not to miss the dejection and betrayal in her voice when she finally backs out of something to allow a better-skilled player to take her place.

What do you do when you have a guild of friends and you want to progress, but you don’t have the means to carry someone through?

5 comments on “Fail? Or no fail?

  1. chigatana says:

    I don’t presume to know you guys, or you for that matter, but I’ve been following your blog as a fellow WOWer (Hunter on Windrunner) and I think you need to do some research for your friend. It probably just comes down to some tweaks to her rotations. Warlocks can do close to as much damage as your Mage, and more than a DK. Maybe you should step in and help her do the research. Seems like a better plan than letting her fall by the way. But, that’s just an outsider perspective. Thanks for the interesting blog!


  2. zupa says:

    In such a small team it only takes one person to make things exceedingly difficult!

    It really sounds like the warlock is doing something wrong. Like totally wrong. Like using rank 1 spells or something. It also sounds to me like you want to help her, so she can join you in successful runs.

    I have always found that the good players help themselves. They seek and they find. They research and they improve. They want to top that bloody chart and by hook or by crook they will, come hell or high water. (unless its BC and there’s a warlock in the raid *grrr*)

    That of course puts you in a tricky situation.

    If you have to tell someone what they are doing wrong and how they need to change to do things better, it won’t work unless they accept that they need to improve and that your advice might be worthy. If that’s true in this case, maybe she needs to brush up on the basics?

    Simple common sense things, help her with a tank assist macro. Explain why there is such a thing as a rotation and give her a cookie cutter one to work with, and maybe a cookie cutter spec to go with?

    Make sure she understand when to apply dots and when to nuke.

    Help her install DBM or something that might help keep her alive in boss fights?

    Good luck with it, and kudos to you for being so patient!

    I may just be a bit jaded but I have developed some kind of semi-elitist “I refuse to put up with anyone who is below average” attitude to wow since returning from being awol. I wouldn’t attempt to help someone improve these days unless they are a RL friend, and all of my RL friends who play know what’s up, so lucky me I guess.


  3. max says:

    I agree with chigatana, I would take it as a challenge to guide the warlock to better dps. You might actually learn something yourself, often times you learn more by teaching than by only improving yourself. I wouldn’t give her gold or gear but I would get on Rawr or some other gear optimizers and see what are direct upgrades for her. I would get on Elitist Jerks or other sites to get rotations down for specific specs. If Affliction isn’t working for her, maybe another spec can do better dps for her.

    That said, if she doesn’t want the help and thinks she is doing fine, I would say to her that you want to include her on runs, but she needs to improve and you’re going to help her. If she still refuses, then don’t play with her and move on.

    Also, DKs are overpowered right now so a warlock vs DK isn’t apples to apples, especially utility of soul/health stones, seduce CC, etc.


  4. […] This is also when I really got to see firsthand how gear does not equal skill. […]


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