Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Hard mode excitement and an “I’m a noob moment”

This weekend we finally killed Hodir. Or rather: brought him back to his senses, if I’ve got the story right. To be fair, we’ve done it many times before, but this was the first time we did it in hard mode. And that’s quite a different thing.

Level of happiness
I know the player base is split in their views about the concept of hard modes. Some players couldn’t care less, thinking that Blizzard is cheating. They would rather have new encounters, harder bosses which put up proper resistance from the beginning. Doing the same thing over again with just a bit more of health, more damage taken or lesser time available doesn’t give enough variety to be pleased.

Personally I’m of the opposite view though. It’s a cleaver way to make sure that most players have a fair chance to have a ride at most of the attractions in the amusement park, while at the same time offering some real challenge for players who enjoy the process and efforts of progressive raiding. There’s no way that Blizzard can keep every single player happy about their decisions, since our wishes are so disparate. Hard mode is a compromise, and a pretty good one.

So, “killing” a boss we’ve killed before, but in a new way, how does it count on the scale of experienced raiding pleasure? Very high actually, much higher than I would have expected. There is a distinct correlation between how much effort an encounter requires and what level of happiness I reach when we succeed.

The new bosses in ToC may offer better loot, but they won’t offer the same “kill kick”, at least not in normal mode. When we downed them as they arrived, one new every week, it didn’t feel much like progress, more like “meh”, was that all there was to it? They lacked the genuine flavour of a first kill, a flavour that Hodir had, even though this was far from the first time we saw him go down.

Mental blockage
Of course the sweetness of this kill was increased by the fact that I’ve had (and still have to be honest) so much trouble with the execution of this encounter for my own part. Moving around while casting has never been my strong side. I’ve got some seriously bad habits and badly chosen key bindings, which will take a long time to change, if it’s even doable at all.

Hodir is the ultimate moving fight, and there have been nights when I’ve literally been crying after the raid, shreading real tears out of pure frustration over my own shortcomings. There’s no way you can escape the hard facts from the wws chart, mercilessly showing that you’re doing about half the damage you’re supposed to do as a mage, barely above the tanks. “Will Adrenaline EVER be able to do this boss as long as they’re dragging around Larísa in the raid” is a question I’ve asked myself more than once. And obviously the answer was: Yes. And at least for the kill attempt, it seemed as if did a fair amount of damage and wasn’t dragged at all, if the Recount report someone whispered to me was correct. This gives me hope. Maybe I can finally overcome my mental blockage about this guy and move ahead from now?

The raid moved ahead anyway. Hodir is behind us and our eyes are now fixed on our next hard mode targets: Thorim and Freya. (Steelbreaker and XT already done). Once again we’re on a countdown timer, since the news arrived last week about Icecrown incoming in a not too far distant future. Will we be able to see Algalon before it arrives and our focus inevitably will be drawn towards the new raid content?

Still high on the spirit from a good progression night I can’t say anything but: yes!

Anything is possible.

PS The night wasn’t all about success. I also contained one of those “I’m a noob moments”, so embarrassing that I have to share it with you to get it out of my system. It was at 19.59, one minute from our official raid start and we were all assembled, just about to buff up. I hurried to throw up a mage table before my fellow mage had got a chance to do the same. After all my biscuits taste better than his, right? It was just this thing that I didn’t make any mage table at all. I did a portal to Dalaran, which looks exactly the same. A second later, there was a “WTF”, and a couple of players were FAR out of range for any buffing whatsoever. And of course we didn’t have any warlock in the raid. You could almost think that it was an evil prank from me, but I’m afraid it wasn’t. Just a miss click. A very unfortunate one.



Magma said...

Ah, yes. The SURPRISE portal to far off places. A favorite of some to do in AV, pretending it was a soul well. The hilarity. At least it was hilarious, right?

Svenn said...

Our resident gnome mage has a habit of sending us to theramore at the conclusion of raids/normal runs, at least Dal was close enough not to have to wait to long for the return flight:)

Rhii said...

Yes, that's a pretty embarrassing one. My most common noob mage mistake is accidentally teleporting myself to whatever exotic destination my groupmates want to go to and leaving them behind. Instead of making a portal. Bad Rhii!

Rhii said...

Oh and I forgot, congrats on Hodir!

It feels really good to overcome a personal demon like that... now on to bigger and better things!

Rem said...

Let's look at it (hard modes) this way. If there's a raid encounter, at some point, a raider will best it, and at some later point they will out-skill and out-gear it. Because new content isn't made of thin air and nerdrage, chances are they'll have to stick around with it for bit, while the design process for the new encounter(s) takes place.

Now, our hypothetical raider will often resort to artificial and self-imposed restrictions to seek challenge from time to time. Can we do it with half the number of people? Without [insert crucial class/role/buff]? In half the time? Without using [standard fight mechanic]? Sometimes, overcoming those challenges is not any less exciting than mastering the encounter when it was new and hard. However, the game is indifferent to those successes.

Enter hard-modes. You own this boss? Very well, now try his badass-version. You don't need to cut your raid in half, bring out weird specs or invent any ways of doing the fight in an allegedly harder way. It's all done and there, waiting for you and your trusted raid buddies to measure yourselves with. And if you make it, you get extra reward.

Basically, it's something raiders always used to do when they felt they're done with what's originally there, built into the mechanics themselves and acknowledged by the game. Personally, I think that's a good thing.

So, congrats on the kill (or re-education) and keep up the good work!

Gevlon said...

Great job! I told you that anything is possible.

I think you will love this video: http://www.warcraftmovies.com/movieview.php?id=126955

Evil comment: Having a mage alt I always thought mages are the most mobile class. Did you use blink to get to the ice patch?

Anonymous said...

I am terrible at moving at too - I can't even dance :(

On the other hand, looking at the bright side, at least you didn't send them to the Blasted Lands ;)

Raydra said...

My raid's mage likes to quickly cast the portal roulette at the end of raids - all portals on top of each other. Where you'll end up no one knows!!!

Thank god for hearthstones.

Anonymous said...

My raid team kinda self destructed about 2 months ago. We were waiting for the last of the summer months to pass, and we had a few with technical difficulties.

End result is, no raiding=people leaving.

I had to rebuild my raidgroup from the ground up. Im just excited to get back raiding.

New raid group is a bit rusty, we had trouble with the heigan dance, and the gauntlet that comes after. But thaddius and his farts were a breeze - get that... LOL.

We have one more week of naxx, then its off to ulduar - im curious to see how well we do - our old raid teamm was up to thorim before things went KABOOM!

Firespirit said...

Clicked wrong button - Thats my comment above! Im not anonymous!

Anonymous said...


Grats on downing Hodir hardmode!

Yeah, I hear all about how moving fights hurt mages - I've commented about my regular raidmage at least once around here - not that you are the least bit like she is, except that you both play mages. Fortunately, you didn't give up, and you and your group were able to pull this accomplishment off - and it is an accomplishment. My regular 10-man is still working on Hodir regular - many have done it with other groups, but never the guild group.

As for 'noob moments', don't you worry - that one was relatively harmless and painless in comparison to the one I pulled the other night.

We'd just finished in ToC10 the Twins, and the raid was in 'loot mode'. I was moving some buttons around for convenience's sake and I hit one, by accident. Didn't think anything of it at the time. We start the fight, and we're on our way to Anub'arak, and the floor falls out from under us, and we fall, hit the water, and the raid wipes out, with everyone taking fatal damage...

What was the button? Path of Frost.

And guess who the only Death Knight was in the raid?

I couldn't even point at the other guy and say "Umm.... he did it." =p

So, I can say with conviction, "I will always remember my first time completing ToC10... 'cause I killed the entire raid outside of combat."


Congratulations again, Larisa, to you and your guild. Good luck on your further challenges.

My 2 yen to Adrenaline,


Zaph said...

Yes! I am not alone. "OK let's go kill Direbrew, just let me hit the remote ... OK here we go ... oh hi, Jeeves."

Thanks for sharing that and grats on Hodir!

What's my main Again? said...

I really like Ulduar and its hardmodes... I really dislike the way ToC did its hardmodes. I hate having to do content twice in the same week. Sure ToC takes all of 45 minutes to clear on 10 man but then you spend hours wiping on the heroic and it just brings up the question of why even bother?

I really wish my raid group was still doing Ulduar. I'm feeling burned out killing the same 5 bosses every week. Icecrown can't come soon enough.

Morrighan said...

Gz Larisa on your Hodir hard mode. After a LOT of trying on it my raid also got it down for the first time. Its nice to overcome one of those progression bumps.

I actually prefer the heroic mechanic to the hard mode mechanic. I find hard modes gimmicky and when the content is new you have a great deal of difficulty balancing hard modes and clears.

And as for those pesky mages. Well No Stock UI highlighted a great addon called Toolbuster. Which announces to the whole raid any portal to anywhere other than Dalaran! Our mages hate it - they were having great fun hiding that Darnassus portal behind the Dalaran portal.

Yane (Yet another night elf) said...

My experience taught me hardmodes are only fun when everyone is on board for them.

Fighting apathy was harder than fighting the boss!

Tessy said...


And now I understand why you said you're never ever gonna make tables again :-)

Andrei said...

"So, “killing” a boss we’ve killed before, but in a new way, how does it count on the scale of experienced raiding pleasure? Very high actually, much higher than I would have expected."

To me hard modes never have that "first kill" moment. It doesn't come even close to the excitement of killing Razorgore (first boss in BWL - the real guild breaker). Or Four Horsemen in vanilla Naxx. In WoTLK there is no question if you will ever be able to kill that boss only when.

Larísa said...

@Magma: Well…it was kind of SILLY, but I really don’t like to waste other players time so the laugh didn’t quite take off.

@Svenn: well, nowadays you can at least justify the Theramore portal by going to say hello to Onyxia…

@Rhii: only done that once actually, believe it or not. Happened pretty recently in a 5-man. I felt stupid.

@Rem: spot on analysis! And thanks!

@Gevlon: that video was awesome! Thanks for the treat!
Yeah, blink ftw! But still… sometimes I believe I was born with a frost nova around my feet. I’ll just have to keep on working on it.

@Tamarind: I read that post. Don’t worry! It just takes a bit of practice. I couldn’t dance at all from the beginning. Towards the end of raiding Naxx I never died at that one. And Pike has also written about how she finally overcame her dancing troubles. You’re not alone.

@Raydra: Portal roulette! Never ever thought about that! But I’m way too kind to do that.

@Firespirit: The summer drainage boss is one of the toughest for a guild to fight. You’ve certainly got a lot of challenges now ahead of you. Fun, fun!

@Akiosama: thanks! And yeah, I always look at my buffs worringly to check that the DK:s aren’t up to something stupid when we’re falling down. I think we had some similar kind of accident the first time we did that boss. Maybe not every one died, but quite a few.

@Zaph: yeah. The buttons don’t even look like each other. The muscle memory deceiving us?

@What’s my main Again: We’re currently mixing farming Ony 25, ToC normal 25 and Ulduar Hardmodes. To me it’s perfect. We’re gearing up while still having progress fights.

@Morrighan: Thanks! Hm… hard mode or heroic… Is it such a huge difference, except for the lock-out mechanisms?

@Yane: oh yes. You have to agree about the goals and ambitions. Thanks god I think we’re pretty much on the same line.

@Tessy: yeah, if there’s any other mage available, I’ll be happy not to insist on having my table up.

@Andrei: well, I agree that it can’t compare to THAT kind of first kills. The guild breaker kills. My best kill ever in that aspect was definitely Archie.(I didn’t play in vanilla.)

Hinenuitepo said...

I agree with you about hard modes, Larisa.
I'm not elitist enough to think "you must be uber to see this content." I'm good enough, so if you're not, I don't want you to see it."
I don't begrudge the casuals their chance at 'riding everything' as you put it, and then doing it 'harder.' :)

Chady said...

Ah yes hodir has really been a hard encounter for me on hardmode considering the movement is usually shorter than cast times for that fight.

What I have found however is that the pools of light are actually for melee dps more than ranged. As a range you will get alot more dps staying in range of fire places and having just some with a storm cloud run by you.

The dps gained from moving from pillar to pillar will be lost from having to move from the cold stacks

Anonymous said...

Grats Larisa... I know you ahve been working hard to get it all right, sounds like you have broken that barrier now, which is usually all it takes to ramp it up.

As for the portal.... /salute

Intended or not... it's a bit of fun ;-)