Dipping a toe into Highmaul

Woohoo! Let the raiding begin! Last night we downed the first boss in normal Highmaul, and got the second down to about 30% before quitting time. Plus we sneaked in a world boss kill before the raid. What a night!

Early on, it didn’t look like we were going to even be able to log in, as there was another now-typical snafu with the introduction of new content. Luckily the guild operates on Pacific time even though the server is on Eastern, and Blizz did get the problems fixed just under the wire for our scheduled raid time.

The calendar invite for the raid was pretty open-ended, basically any level 100 no matter what the gear level. Although I am not part of this guild’s management, I suspect part of the invite’s purpose was to start to evaluate people for a new core Warlords raid team. But also just to scope out the new raid and have some fun. All missions accomplished!

As the group invites were going out, someone noticed that this week’s new world boss, Tarlna the Ageless, was up, so we all hightailed it to Gorgrond to find a group already gathering, ready to pull. Most of our group was able to tag the boss and get the kill, but it is worth noting that Blizz’s meandering scenic-route taxi service took too much time for others to get there for the kill. My poorly geared (ilvl 609 to start the night) alt hunter scored a nice 650 belt, which I immediately equipped. (As soon as I logged in, I had made a hasty trip to Stormshield to load up on my 3 weekly Seals of Tempered Fate, and I burned one of them on this boss.)

Then it was on to Highmaul. Our guild group was a little short on healers, so the Raid Leader pulled a couple from the in game premade group finder, and we ended up with a group of 15 total. I did not look at everyone’s gear levels, but at a guess I would say we were low-to-medium geared as a group. (Certainly I was one of the lowest geared.) Everyone seemed to have done their homework on the first boss —  Kargath Bladefist — and had brought food and flasks, even if they were the cheaper lower end ones. A few Savage Feasts were also laid down.

We downed the trash easily if not quickly — basically one mini boss and a bunch of constantly respawning casters. Our RL had already selected the Coliseum team for the main boss encounter, and there was some discussion about everyone setting their range finders, reminder to everyone except the designated team to stay away from the boss for Chain Hurl, and instructions to ranged DPS to get near an active Flame Pillar in case they were targeted for Berserker Rush. Oh, and also a few bets were placed on who would be the first to die by falling into a tiger pit (that honor fell to our worthy RL).

We got Kargath down to about 20% on our first attempt. After rezzing, we had a short discussion to make a few tactical changes, and the tanks worked out how to decide which one should go with the Coliseum team. I didn’t time the second fight, but it seemed to go on for quite a while with lots of Chain Hurls and Berserker Rushes. Towards the end the healers were desperate for mana, and we were all chowing down on lock cookies and burning personal cooldowns as much as possible. Just before the boss died I got in the way of a Berserker Rush target and died instantly — a totally avoidable death I felt bad about. But we downed Kargath!! I used another seal, and my hunter got a nice set of 655 gloves.

Since no one had expected to get past the first boss so quickly — or at all to be honest —  we were pretty unprepared to face The Butcher. After a few minutes of study and discussion, we gave it a go, but in the end we just weren’t jelling yet on how best to clump up and disperse, which is the key mechanic in the fight. On our third try we had him down to 30%, but by then it was time to quit, so we’ll save him for Thursday.

All in all, it was a really fun night. My hunter moved up 5 gear levels and is now prepared for random heroics and thus ready to finish off the next leg of the Legendary. I think we owe our relative success to a few identifiable things though:

1.  The entire raid had done their homework so were at least familiar with the ideas of  the mechanics. When we actually experienced them we were just that much better able to internalize our responses. Also, when the Raid Leader began discussing strategy, no one had to ask for an explanation of the spells he was talking about.

2.  Our tanks were excellent and had been working together for some time. (If I had to single out one reason for our success, this would be it.)

3.  Our healers were very good and did a terrific job of hoarding and managing their mana. Also, the lead healer called out when mana overall was getting critical and the team responded by using personal cooldowns, healthstones, and pots.

4. Our Raid Leader was always on top of when to give reminders to specific players or the group, had organized the assignments well, and had a definite plan but remained open to reasonable suggestions. (To be honest, I am a little in awe of his raid awareness.) Also, he was willing to go out and grab some players off the premade group finder so as to ensure we had a viable team.

5. While our DPS was not exceptional, we had one or two high performers (not me). Also, surprisingly there were no obvious stupid moves — everyone stayed out of Bad Stuff, carried out their assignments, and kept up a nice steady stream of whatever damage they were capable of.

All in all, a fun night.

About Fiannor
I have a day job but escape by playing WoW. I love playing a hunter, and my Lake Wobegonian goal is to become "above average" at it.

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