When it all goes horribly wrong
Not long ago, I wrote a post on the Tao of the Click…”the Click” being that magical moment when, after working on a raid encounter for a while, suddenly everything “clicks” into place and you not just beat it, but beat it smoothly and convincingly. It’s one of the best feelings you can have in raiding.
But as the ancient philosophers of the East have taught us, for every yin there is a yang. If there is a Tao of the Click, then as Bhelgast over at Tales of the Aggronaut put it, there must be a Tao of the Clunk. Sooner or later, you’re going to have one of those headache-inducing, wipe-filled disasters that leave you sitting in front of your keyboard shaking your head and wondering why you didn’t take up something less stressful like open-heart surgery or less painful like javelin catching.
We got ours out of the way last week.
The Anvil’s Thursday night foray into Ulduar started off well. We had solid one-shots on Flame Leviathan, Razorscale, and Ignis. Our kill of XT-002 wasn’t anything to write home about (anytime you’re battle-rezzing your MT, that’s not good) and would have been a pre-nerf wipe, but we hung in there, stayed with it, and ended up getting him with over half the raid dead due to a bad combination of a too-close gravity bomb and a tantrum.
And then there was Kologarn. We’ve killed Kologarn twice before, so we set up for the fight figuring we’d get him in one or two tries, and move on to the challenge of Auriaya, aka Crazy Cat Lady.
We wiped eight times on Kologarn. And on none of those fights did we even get him to 50% health.
One time, I had trouble hanging on to the rubble that spawns when his right arm dies (I was designated rubble tank, our warrior MT and DK tank traded off on Kologarn proper). Sometimes, the tanks died fast. Eyebeams were constantly tearing us up. Healers were disconnecting. The relative smoothness of the Razorscale and Ignis kills was replaced with missteps, mistakes, and wipes. The banter on Ventrilo fell away, replaced by silence after each wipe. The whole thing was probably best summed up by one of our officers after about the fifth or sixth wipe: “OK, guys, talk to me. We’ve done this before, we know we can do it, so what’s going wrong?”
It wasn’t a situation where you could point at a person and say, “this person is causing issues.” (Unlike, say, the week before, when my problems holding rubble caused a fair bit of difficulty before we finally got Kologarn down. I did a lot better on it last week.) The fail was spread far and wide, and it was feeding off itself. Eventually, after eight wipes, we hit our hard stop time of midnight Eastern, and that was that. We’d have to try again the next night, Friday.
Now Friday nights have not been kind to us recently. Two weeks ago, the premiere of Star Trek cost us so many people that we could only field 19, and ended up trying to get the sub-21-man achievement in Naxx (and failing, due to problems on Gluth). Last week, at start time, we only had 23 people. But 23, we figured, was close enough to 25, and in we went.
We couldn’t get past the trash leading to Kologarn.
Let me repeat that, because reading it, even I don’t believe I had to type it: We couldn’t get past the trash leading to Kologarn.
Now yes, Antechamber of Ulduar trash can be tricky. They actually remind me a lot of those three bitchy six-pulls in the entrance hallway of Tempest Keep–not hard if you have good crowd control, but nightmarish if you don’t. Thursday night, we were blessed with four mages in the group, so keeping the stuff crowd-controlled while we smacked it down two at a time was trivial. Friday night, we still had two mages, a hunter, three tanks, enough druids to start a small zoo…yeah, you’d think, we got this. Or not.
Honestly, I couldn’t tell what kept happening. I tend to bear down and focus on my job instead of looking at Big Pictures, and my job was to grab what I was told to grab and go tank it in a corner so it wouldn’t eat squishy fase. And I did. And then I’d look up and my Grid was mostly covered in “DEAD.”
After the second wipe, things started getting snippy, just a bit, on Ventrilo. The snippy quotient got much higher after the third wipe. After the fourth wipe, I could just tell that things were about to go bad in a big way. I could hear it in peoples’ voices as a bit of an argument started up. One person actually just left the raid and the Vent channel. And that was when mercifully, one of our Chief Cat Herders, the beloved Dorritow, came back over from the officer channel and sent us home for the evening. It was a good call. The atmosphere was getting so poisonous and tense that we weren’t going to be good for anything else but more wipes.
Now as I’ve stated before, The Anvil is no Ensidia. We’re no server-first guild even on Feathermoon, which is firmly mid-pack in terms of raiding (not bad for an RP server, actually). But we’re a solid raid with a core that’s been together since the days when Gehennas and Baron Geddon were progression content. We just don’t crash and burn like we did last week…and yet we did.
It’s a sobering experience, and it’s also a reminder that killing a boss a few times doesn’t necessarily make it “farm” content. (And also, that even “farm” content can occasionally reach out and trip you badly.) It’s something of a call for each person in the raid to focus on what they’re assigned to do, stay aware of what’s going on around them, and know what to do in every possible situation, otherwise known as “don’t stand in shit.”
So here’s the discussion topic, dear readers. Have you ever had this happen in your raid? (If you answer “no,” by the way, I’m pretty sure you’re lying.) I’m not just talking an “off night.” I’m talking a night so bad, so chock full of caramel-covered fail, so utterly under your normal performance standards that it leaves you scratching your head as to how it could have possibly happened. It’s not one or two people repeatedly making mistakes, though that may happen. It’s a situation where everybody, or nearly everybody, is just not “on,” and it builds on itself until the whole raid’s performance falls apart like a Yugo. How do you handle it, as a raidleader, as an officer, as just a grunt like me? When do you keep trying and when do you just throw in the towel and send everybody home? What do you do? What can you do?
But hey. Tomorrow night, we’re going to go back into Ulduar. And this time, we’re going to pwn Kologarn in the face, boyyyyy and take his itamz. Because we are resilient, and because we’re not going to let one bad week define who we are. So we’ll walk right up to the “grumpy old troll who lives under the bridge” (a little Dora the Explorer reference for all you parents up in this heezy), do a /flex, and say:
“Ve are da Anvil, und ve are heah to fuck *clap* you up!“