I got yer mountains, right here
The Anvil has been working on Thorim 25-man, off and on, for something like eight weeks now. Now granted, in that eight weeks, we’ve been unable to even take a shot at him three times due to roster issues. But still, that’s five weeks of hearing “…in the moooounntaaaiiiinnsss…” several times a night, followed by the most painful wipes this side of a bad case of hemorrhoids. “Cockblock” may be a vulgar term, but in Thorim’s case, it was appropriate. Only Kael’thas in Tempest Keep ever held us up this long…we even got Vashj in less calendar time, although IMO, Vashj was a hell of a lot harder.
We went back in to Ulduar on Thursday night with a full raid (for once) and a determination that we were going to beat the Yoggy out of(tm) Thorim. Once again, I was your friendly neighborhood gauntlet tank, preparing to lead an eight-man group to deal with happy fun trash and big fire-spewing minibosses while the other 17 folks chilled out in Thorim’s Mosh Pit and rocked out to Slayer under a big pile of about five hundred squillion iron dwarves. With lightning. And mullets.
By the end of the evening I was pretty much ready to give up and go find another line of work. Something less stressful and more tolerant of failure, like, say, brain surgery or nuclear weapon handling. The arena group, originally our Achilles’ heel, was on a roll, keeping great control of the dwarves and holding up under the heavy punishment. No, Gentle Reader, our problems on Thursday night were primarily with the gauntlet group.
And that means, with me.
Holy Saurfang, was I a failtank Thursday night. I broke sheep. I lost agro on Iron Ring Guards and let them eat squishy fase. I didn’t grab stuff fast enough when it followed us down the tunnel from the arena (that’s a new post-3.2 “feature” of Thorim–healers can agro stuff in the stands above the hallway in certain spots, through the ceiling, and when it starts moving, it’ll jump down and run into the hallway and hit the group from behind). I got tripped up and dropped on my butt right in front of flame pulses. I would’ve probably run across the center of the circles getting to Thorim and gotten paralyzed…had we even gotten that far. I had the leader on the gauntlet side ready to kill me, I’m pretty sure.
And after all that, we still got him to phase 2 for the first time ever…and wiped when we hit the hard enrage with him at 3%. Had we still had a warlock and mage alive that got killed in the hallway–because I lost agro on a guard–we would’ve gotten him.
That dwelled in my headspace all day Friday. I couldn’t shake it off at work, or after I got home, or at prep time for the raid. And as we were waiting for invites, I finally managed to focus and convert the “you suck”–which is not an easy task for me because I always think I suck–into “this will not happen again tonight, dammit.” We had our strategy worked out–adding one more DPS, my wife Rashona, to the hallway group for a total of nine people–and this time, I was determined, if we failed, it was not going to be because of me.
We went in with 24 people, including several subs and first-timers, making jokes about “the Anvil man-down rule” that we usually do better with 24 than we do with 25. We blew through Ignis and Freya, and soon we stood before Thorim again. We charged in and massacred his little gladiatorial party. He launched into his “…in the moooounntaaaiiiinnsss…” bad voice-acting again, and off we went through the opening gate.
First group. Sheep left, let the hunter misdirect the acolyte toward me, don’t worry about him, grab the ring guard, tank him. DPS burns down the acolyte (he hits like he’s got pillows on his hands), then my guard. Bust the sheep, grab it, oh fuck get away from the fire. OK, it’s dead, lather rinse and repeat on the second group.
Boss tiems. Grab him, turn him, tank him, easymode. Oh snap, Runic Barrier, call across the room for Rashonakitty to get out. Sweet, he’s at 80k. “First boss going down” over Vent, and I’m already turning and opening the door to bitchslap a guard across the face with my shield before the big guy even eats floor. Two steps up, grab the second group, back up, Shockwave, booyah. Not tonight.
“Get the boss, Lin.” Right. Drag the two up the stairs while a hunter and my pocket priest go with me. Here comes the boss. Shield Block and settle in for the tank, tab target, spread the love, oh fuck a guard is getting loose, Challenging Shout, GET BACK HERE BITCH. Thunder Clap, Shockwave, DPS is burning down the guards first, not exactly the way you’re “supposed” to do it but it makes things easier on the healers, and besides, they’re shredding like paper. Quick glance at Grid, nobody’s dead, way to kick ass arena group.
Second boss keels over…holy crap, we’re gonna hit phase 2 on our first attempt. Run to Thorim, the shouts of “NOT THE MIDDLE, LIN!” still echoing in my head from two weeks ago. One of the hunters agros him as they jump down, I pat him on the back as I go too. He lands. PHASE 2, BABY!
Settle in again. Watch DBM for Unbalancing Strike messages and the telltale “doooong,” hit Taunt when it comes up. Sometimes I get him, sometimes one of the other tanks do, no worries. People on Vent yelling about the adds, “no, we killed them all.” Constant calls of “lines!”, “move move move!”, “taunt!” Eighty percent. Sixty percent. Forty percent.
I try and do the math in my head of the delta on his health versus the enrage timer, and the equation’s coming out in our favor…barely. Thirty percent. “Ten stacks.” He’s hitting hard as hell now, 14k or more. Get on those taunts, dude, remember, if we fail tonight, it won’t be because of me. Twenty percent. A couple of people are dead, our DPS slows.
Dooong. Taunt. “Twelve stacks.” Fifteen percent. Reach for Shield Wall on general principle–I’m not really even at low health but it’ll help stretch the healers’ mana–and FUCK I’M DEAD WHAT KILLED ME. I’m face-down in the Sprawl of Shame and he’s still at twelve percent. Two tanks left…”Gore, Kel, it’s on you guys, go go go.” Ten percent. Eight. Five. “Fourteen stacks!”, a note of panic creeping in. Less than one minute to enrage.
Three. Our other offtank drops dead. Two. Shit, our MT just died, no, dammit, no no no! One…
“Stay your arms! I yield!”
I slump back in my chair, put my face in my hands, and realize that they’re shaking. I don’t cry tears of joy and relief…but it’s a close thing.
Epilogue: We got Mimiron to 22% in phase 3 the very first time we saw him. I’m not getting cocky yet, as phase 4 of that fight is supposed to be total chaos, but I think we’re in pretty good shape on him. Make out your will, you shrimpy little twerp, you’re next.