This is definitely something that we never, ever thought would happen.
Friday night, October 14th 2011, Marshmallows entered Firelands to do its usual one-day Heroic clear. We’d known for a while that our mage would be finishing the third part of the legendary grind that night, and after 5 bosses she hit 250/250 Essences and just needed the Heart of Flame. We’d also known for a while that Laetitiia would be the first person on Moonrunner to finish – since Moonrunner has no 25man guilds whatsoever our 10man group was about 2-3 weeks ahead of the nearest person. We moved on to Heroic Ragnaros and killed it in less than an hour, scoring a Heart of Flame for our mage and a firehawk for myself. With the quest finished, we returned to Stormwind and Laetitiia completed the 4-month journey. Marshmallows obtained a legendary staff.
There’s more to this story, however. When Marshmallows first entered Firelands at the end of June, we knew that eventually we would get a legendary. We knew that it would take a long time, that our mage would need to attend just about every raid, and that lots of other people would also be getting an orange weapon too. As we started murdering bosses and collecting quest pieces, Marshmallows progressed at a pretty good pace. We cleared 7/7N during week 1 with less than half of our normal raid time, and we scored some very solid rankings on some heroic bosses for the casual guild that we are. We didn’t really notice it at the time, when we notched US-11th Heroic Alysrazor and US-18th Heroic Baleroc, but we were having fantastic luck with those quest pieces. Eternal Embers, which only have an 80% chance to drop on 10man, dropped for us 25 times in a row. We had perfect luck on Embers, we finished collecting 25 of them by the end of week 4.
When we moved on to the next step, it was dedication more than luck that got us through quickly. Laetitiia has had 100% attendance going back all the way to December, she has never missed a raid, and as a result she has never missed any of our quest pieces. For the Cinders, the longest portion of the quest on 10man, all we could do was clear the zone each week and keep trying to get a little better at heroic modes. We reached 6/7 Heroic during week 7, and steadily the Cinders came in. There was nothing luck could do to help us on this part, and we didn’t mind.
At this point, the high-end strict-10 groups were all progressing along at the same pace. Our luck with Embers may have given us a tiny bit of a lead, but since we don’t raid Tuesday we were also at a major disadvantage. On the week that all the high-end 10mans were due to start the third portion of the quest though, luck struck again, in the form of Ghostcrawler.
The droprate of Smoldering Essences required for the Heart of the Flame quest has been considerably lowered, you will now get about 50% less essences than before the nerf.
- For example, you will now get 9 or 10 essences from bosses in 25-Man Heroic mode instead of 17-19.
- Players in 10-Man Heroic mode will only get 3 or 4 instead of an average of 7.
On the very week 10mans reached the Smoldering Essences portion of the quest, their droprate was cut in half. The playerbase reacted about as angrily as one would expect, with 10man raiders in particular leading the various threadnaughts all over the Blizzard forums. I myself notched at least a hundred posts there over the course of three days, hoping that something would be done about the issue. High-end 10mans continued with their usual Tuesday raids, and they lost a substantial number of Essences to the nerf.
Then on Thursday, just one day before we too were scheduled to raid Firelands and have the nerf hinder our progress, something happened:
Once again, we got lucky. While the guilds we were competing with lost 20-25 Essences that week, we lost none. Our weekend-raiding disadvantage completely turned into a positive, and as a result we were able to finish our staff on October 14th. After asking around and armorying guilds and checking out the progress of guilds that cleared Heroic Firelands way faster than we did, we believe that we are the first guild in the world to finish a Dragonwrath while strictly raiding only 10-man. It wasn’t something we really went out of our way to try for, and it involved quite a bit of luck, but it also involved a lot of dedication too. We played through that four-month journey just about perfectly. While we don’t know for sure if this is indeed the first, we’ve spent the last two days trying to find another strict-10 guild with a completed staff and found nothing.
Ehwa Women’s University from Korea is the best strict-10 group in the world and they don’t have a staff. Non-Combat Pet is the best strict-10 in the US and they don’t have a staff. Hordlinge is the best strict-10 in Europe, Crimson Blade the best in Australia, WhosProblem the best in Taiwan, none of them have a staff. Angered is a really excellent guild from Europe that does have a staff, but the person who has it is a recent server transfer and isn’t even in their main 10-man group. We asked on the Blizzard forums, we asked on the MMO-Champion forums, we went to various servers to ask other guilds about their progress, we went to the armory (even the KR and TW armories that aren’t in English) and looked up a lot of people. We found none, none except ours. I wouldn’t even mind all that much if it turns out we weren’t the first, but after going to all this effort to try to confirm that we aren’t first, we could not. This is the first time in its entire history the medium-sized Moonrunner-US realm has ever had a world-first, and as a casual guild we were certainly surprised to get it.
Well done, friends.