Category Archives: Marshmallows

Casual Cupcakes: A World First

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.

A giant draenei in the sky.

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:

No more nerf.

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.



Filed under Marshmallows, Raiding

Marshmallows Are High In Irony

By beating Heroic Ascendant Council last week, Marshmallows rose to 12/13 heroic-10. That left only one more dude remaining – the Elemental Lord of Wind, Al’Akir – standing between the casual cupcakes and beating the game before 4.2. We were definitely a little bit concerned in the beginning. The casual cupcakes do not like Throne. We are not good at Throne, and we stayed the hell away from it on heroic for a lot longer than we should’ve because of it. Even after we killed Heroic Conclave in our very first night of attempts, we were still wary of going to that middle platform and challenging that lightning-hell itself.

So he challenged us instead.

I’m sure it was tough for a guy who can’t move to challenge a group of baked goods to a fight. Us baked goods were 12/13H though, and Al-Akir is an Arabic phrase that translates to “The Last”. That kind of irony is something we couldn’t ignore, so we decided to oblige the lightning-hell and go murder Air Man. I brushed up on my Megaman 2 to prepare and then rolled a couple pug heroics with Millya to stay sharp. Breaking from our usual Korean pop music, this video became a required watch before our first raid of the week.

Our intense preparation paid off quickly. Air Man died in a day and a half, and the Pink Cupcakes have officially run out of internet dragons to fight. Even though we started four weeks late, this rollercoaster ride is now over. You were a good run, tier 11.

Bonus log snippet: A hilarious run of luck gives us a zero-death Heroic Chimaeron –

[17:33:00.198] Arazu afflicted by Break from Chimaeron
[17:33:04.947] Chimaeron hits Arazu 46851 (A: 4734, B: 23176)
[17:33:04.968] Chimaeron hits Arazu 39809 (B: 64953)
[17:33:08.977] Chimaeron casts Mortality
[17:33:09.023] Arazu afflicted by Mortality from Chimaeron
[17:33:09.739] Chimaeron hits Arazu 44361 (A: 4929, B: 22145)
[17:33:14.547] Chimaeron hits Arazu Dodge
[17:33:14.600] Arazu afflicted by Break (2) from Chimaeron
[17:33:19.350] Chimaeron hits Arazu Miss
[17:33:19.433] Chimaeron hits Arazu Dodge
[17:33:24.142] Chimaeron hits Arazu Parry
[17:33:28.947] Chimaeron hits Arazu 83509 (B: 136253)
[17:33:29.082] Arazu afflicted by Break (3) from Chimaeron
[17:33:33.751] Chimaeron hits Arazu Dodge
[17:33:33.866] Chimaeron hits Arazu Miss
[17:33:38.541] Chimaeron hits Arazu Parry
[17:33:43.356] Chimaeron hits Arazu Dodge
[17:33:43.515] Arazu afflicted by Break (4) from Chimaeron
[17:33:46.296] Chimaeron dies
[17:33:46.313] Chimaeron’s Mortality fades from Arazu
[17:33:46.347] Chimaeron’s Break fades from Arazu


Filed under Marshmallows, Raiding

Burn and Drown and Crush and Suffocate

I’m tempted to take back everything I said about heroic tier 11 being awesome. I’m tempted to stop this rollercoaster ride entirely and burn down the whole theme park for the insurance money. The reason for this sudden change is that Marshmallows is currently in the thick of week 1 on Heroic Ascendant Council. The fun factor, going from Sinestra to heroic AC, is like going from 10/10 to something more like -3. I want my dragons back. Unfortunately for me, I think the others might actually be enjoying this fight, and I doubt some of our raid could hate any fight more than they hated Sinestra. Opinion is split.

There’s an old meme that Illidari Council is “THE SUPER BOWL OF NOT STANDING IN THINGS”. Heroic Ascendant Council is the Super Bowl of something very specific that my raid is traditionally bad at (and most raids despise). It has elements of Heroic Conclave, Heroic Zul’Gurub, Heroic Nefarian, Heroic Tron Council, BQL, Algalon (yes, really), and more! In fact this fight has a lot of elements. All at once. You are going to burn and drown and crush and suffocate. We sure as hell are, for the moment.


Update! With some changes to our strat, fight actually became fun! The fight also became dead. Even with all its punishing, punishing elements, the numbers-check on the fight is quite lenient and once we got good at the mechanics it only took a few more pulls. 12/13.

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I am a weapon of internet dragon destruction.

Sinestra is dead. Dragonslayer is the new fashion choice this summer in Stormwind on Moonrunner. While this only brings Marshmallows to 11/13H, the hardest fight, the biggest prize, is now done and the rest of tier 11 is just a matter of mopping things up at whatever pace we feel like. The princess is not in another castle. We broke Bowser’s back and the Duke Nukem theme started playing. Damn, I’m good.

I’m making this post because I want to tell everyone out there, everyone who’s 6/13 and still fighting, everyone who’s 2/13 and struggling along, everyone who got to 8/12N or 10/12N and gave up – Heroic Raids Are Awesome. If you’re considering whether or not to stick it out, I’m here to tell you that the later heroic bosses get more, and more, and more awesome as you go along. Getting the first 7/13 was fun, but it mostly just felt like practice, practice for the big angry endbosses that will push you in a way that makes you want more of this whole raiding thing. Getting to the Super Bowl of t11 made our people better at this game – and we were already really good to begin with, mind – such that after murdering Nef and Chogall we took in a hilarious halftime show and killed Conclave in an hour, from our first serious pull ever to dead heroic monsters. Despite being completely terrible at Throne and avoiding it on purpose for months.

From there, we decided that 5 months of doing the same bosses was enough; it’s time for new stuff. Rather than get to 12/13 like most groups do and leave the hardest fight (which it is, on 10) for last, we wanted the big gold. We wanted something we hadn’t already killed on normal every week prior. We wanted Sinestra. We fell down that hole and felt pretty good about our chances. Then we got crushed. Then we got crushed some more. I don’t think we made it past phase 1 a single time on our first night. All our glorious raider muscles and suave gameplay and Super Bowl experience didn’t mean nothin’ to this chick. We didn’t even make the friend zone. The phone number she gave us turned out to be a dry cleaner on the lower East Side.

Then we got mad.

Getting mad proved to be important. Our phase 1 dps shot up by 30% overnight (not even joking), and I may or may not have learned how to make the boss pause hitting me by shouting YOU CAN’T STEP TO THIS at my computer. She hits pretty hard, so you can imagine how this came in handy. We learned how to ride the red-and-purple beam like a surfboard and soon, every night we spent would get the boss a little bit lower. Finally, on the last hour of the last day of our raid week, we became the US-31st 10man to finish what Deathwing started. The whole realm received word, as everyone got 10 lines of spam from us. We won tier 11.

Even if you don’t get to 13/13 before 4.2, I want you to know: this is a fight worth doing. It’s the kind of fight that will get a lot easier once you can overgear it. It’s the kind of fight where there are at least 4 different ways of beating it (at least on 10). It’s the kind of fight that doesn’t care how well you did on the other, punier endbosses, you’re still going to get owned by your friends with a giant purple death-laser. And you’re going to like it.

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Staying Casual to Stay Sane

This rollercoaster ride has now been rolling for four months.

I’ve been a raider now for about eleven years. I’ve spent around 15,000 hours killing internet dragons. Yet I can say, without any kind of hyperbole or exaggeration, that these four months of tier 11 have been the absolute best raid content I’ve ever done. The encounters are fresh, they’re enjoyable, and they’re really freakin’ challenging. When Blizzard warned us about a year ago that 10s and 25s would become “similar in difficulty”, I didn’t really expect heroic 10s to become the hardest content in the game. I certainly didn’t expect that after four full months of working on content that had no gating at all, only two guilds in the entirety of US servers would be done. Through it all, the thing I expected least would have to be that my casual, non-serious weekend fun-run raid has come within striking distance of a top-100 ranking, surpassing many, many hardcore guilds that raid four, five, some of them even up to six days a week.

Unfortunately, a lot of people aren’t finding tier 11 so fun. Lots of guilds, even really good guilds with track records spanning years, have struggled or died under the weight of the new content. The complaints have been very loud: Tier 11 is less accessible, tier 11 is less forgiving, tier 11 is too hard. These are all probably true. Even I agree that it’s not okay that only two guilds in my region (241 realms!) have finished the 10-man content after four full months.

Others complain that other MMOs are killing WoW, but I can’t agree with this one at all. MMOs can co-exist and have co-existed in the past just fine. Most of Paragon is playing EVE right now while they wait for Firelands, but you can bet that they’ll be back. I’m sure Rift is a nice game, but all the reports I’ve heard about its raiding sounded like I was back in 2003. Even if Rift remains successful for years, there’s room for more than one game in this market. I survived when WoW “killed” EverQuest, and 80% of the raiders that left for WoW came back within a year, because vanilla raids were terrible. EverQuest is still alive today, lumbering along toward its 18th expansion. If EverQuest can survive being dwarfed by WoW’s budget being twenty times bigger, if it can survive having its most popular players literally being hired by Blizzard to advertise switching over to WoW, if it can survive and keep coming out with new content despite being 12-years old and its playerbase having been in decline for 7 of those 12 years, imagine the kind of tremendous failure it would take to finally kill WoW. WoW isn’t dying.

There is something that is dying, however. For a long, long time (at least a decade), the “proper” way to raid was to take the biggest group of people you could get, gather them up at the entrance of a raid zone at 7:30 6-nights a week, and spend the next 5 hours slamming your faces against the big bad internet dragon until eventually everything clicks and it falls over. That’s called hardcore progression. Some guilds still do it this way, but what Blizzard has been trying to accomplish since late BC is the idea that you do not have to do it this way. Finally with tier 11, they’ve done it; they’ve created a raiding tier that at least tries to be fair to both 10 and 25-mans, and at the same time they’ve created a tier that encourages players to take raiding more casually for the sake of their own sanity. It’s one thing to maintain a grueling, 6-day raid week for 4 weeks until the content is done, it’s another thing completely different to maintain that pace for the entire four-month stretch that this rollercoaster ride has lasted. Most of the guilds that I’ve seen struggling lately, have had a lot to do with just how hard they’ve pushed the content rather than the content itself. They raid so hard that it’s not fun anymore, hoping that pushing that hard will get them some more boss kills, when they could actually enjoy themselves if they didn’t raid that way.

The top raid group on my realm has actually fallen victim to this lately. They’ve been raiding 4-5 days a week since December, and they’ve managed to stay a little bit ahead of everyone else for four months. However, one of the casual groups below them (my group) has managed to almost keep up with them in progression through it all, which kept them pushing ever harder and harder to try and stay ahead. After that casual group “stole” a realm-first kill from them, even though they were working on a different boss at the time, cracks started to form and they took it as a sign that they needed to go even crazier. Finally when they got to Heroic Al’Akir, they snapped. In eight days they pushed themselves, eventually wiping a total of 250 times in their mad push to stay ahead of those damned casuals. 100 of those attempts happened over two days. They haven’t raided since.

I’m not going to deny that Cataclysm is tough. It’s absolutely the most challenging tier of content that I’ve ever done, and I’ve been raiding a long time. The most important thing to remember though, when you’re raiding in Cataclysm, is to do it in a way that’s fun for you. If you try to tackle tier 11 in a way that’s not fun, then it doesn’t matter how hard the bosses are, you’ve already ruined it for yourself by approaching it that way. I promise you, tier 11 can be fun if you take it on in a manner that suits you. Surround yourself with people you like, take the content at your own pace. That’s really the key.

Stay sane.

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