Saturday, July 11, 2020

Cardwyn, you have the bomb!

When I used to read guild advertisements in chat --no matter whether it was SWTOR or WoW-- and they'd mention raid* clears of specific times, I would kind of shrug and say "Okay, that's nice." I presumed they were decent enough numbers, but given that I had no real reference to compare as I wasn't a raider I had no clue how good these guilds were.

Well, as I've dipped my toe into raiding I now know how long it takes to raid Molten Core or Zul'Gurub as a pugger.**

With that context, I now raise my eyebrows at the entries that I see in guild advertisements.


None of the Molten Core raids I've been in have been wipes. And, for the most part, Cardwyn has been somewhere in the 20s in terms of damage. That's due to several things:

  • She's a Frost Mage, dealing less damage than a comparatively geared Fire Mage. I'm fine with that, as I prefer mana efficiency and general utility over pure DPS. Besides, a Fire Mage draws a lot more threat than a Frost Mage does, which might not a big deal in a raid but is a larger deal in smaller groups.
  • She had close to a full Tier 0 (pre-raid) set, and only in the last two Molten Core runs has she finally started to get some Tier 1 gear. Judging by the inspections I've performed, she's one of the least geared toons in the Molten Core runs.***
  • I still lay off the DPS at first because I prefer to let the tanks get good aggro, whereas most of the other players just go balls to the wall with the DPS, trusting the tanks will hold aggro no matter what.
  • I've become the "Mage Mom" the past couple of Molten Core runs, constantly checking the raid group to see if they've all got Intelligence buffs and correcting as needed, making and distributing extra water during the raid when people run out, and other small things to keep everything going. That keeps me in a constant state of having to drink to keep my mana up, which means I'm always one of the last to start attacking during a mob pull.
So I'm doing okay in terms of damage. Plenty of people are doing more DPS than me, so we're not a bunch of noobs out here trying to complete Molten Core.

Still, we're averaging about 1:50 - 2:00 hours for a Molten Core clear.

Contrast that with guilds who are advertising 1:00 hour Molten Core clears.

By my way of thinking they have to be basically cutting as many corners as possible, avoiding tons of trash, and still sprinting their way as much as possible through the raid itself.**** At the same time, they have to be at least a full set of Molten Core gear, with some Blackwing Lair gear mixed in.*****


I have personal experience on the difference having Blackwing Lair gear (versus a mix of T0, T1, and T2) in a raid, so I can attest to the vast difference that makes.

At the beginning of this week, I got a whisper from someone I'd run Upper Blackrock Spire with earlier in the day asking if I wanted to join their guild's regular Zul'Gurub run. They were fine with me bringing Az --and to be fair they actually preferred I'd bring Az-- so I got the invite and away I went.

We began clearing trash and steamrolled so quickly through the first couple of bosses that I failed to noticed two things: We were running Zul'Gurub with only 15 people, and I was 11th on the damage meters. I realize that Az isn't the most geared Rogue out there (aforementioned chestpiece in the commentary below), but I'm used to her being somewhere in the middle of the pack.

So I started inspecting the other people in the raid and discovered almost immediately that people who had primarily Molten Core level gear were in the minority: almost everybody else was Blackwing Lair geared.

And until we ran into Jin'do, we were carving up Zul'Gurub like a turkey on Thanksgiving.

At Jin'do, the lack of a full 20 people in the raid hit us hard, and we wiped 3 times. For the 4th try, however, they enlisted an extra Warlock who helped put us over the top.

We had two wipes on the Hakkar trash, but Hakkar himself went down so fast that we only needed two (2!) Sons of Hakkar to DPS it down.

I was very grateful that nobody called me out on my lack of DPS, but I did my thing in providing the interrupts as needed.

So yeah, I can fully believe that Blackwing Lair gear would provide a huge advantage in Molten Core itself.


Still, I do have an issue when guilds put in their advertisements at how quickly they clear a raid and then proceed to say "we're a laid back social guild!" My response to that is simple: if you are laid back and social, the clear times on specific raids wouldn't matter, right? Or at least you wouldn't brag about your clear times, because posting them is a signal that you're hardcore enough that your clear times matter.

Don't get me wrong: you can be a progression oriented guild and be social, but frequently one is more important than the other, and your guild will reflect that.

I've seen people leave guilds because they want a more hardcore WoW experience, and I've also seen progression oriented guilds poach players from other guilds for their raid teams. I've seen guilds break up over their approach to handling different aspects of the game, and I've seen people just up and vanish without a trace.******


Okay, rant over.

The fact that I'm still raiding speaks to the enjoyment I'm getting out of it. I'm not on the progression grindstone, and the raids I've been in have been really good at keeping things calm and low key. Okay, not so much "low key" as keeping the situational humor going, but it all works even when things don't go well.

Nothing at all like this old chestnut:

*Or the equivalent, which in SWTOR are called "operations". I rarely see guild advertisements of this sort in, say, Elder Scrolls Online. There, I typically see guild advertisements that focus on making gold for some reason.

**I'm not quite sure where to place Upper Blackrock Spire. Yes, it's technically a 10 person raid, but compared to 40 person raids such as Molten Core or the 20 person raids of Zul'Gurub they seem almost miniscule by comparison. That point brings into sharp focus the reduction of raids to 25 person and then 10 person in subsequent WoW expacs. And that's long after I used to think 16 person operations in SWTOR for world boss takedowns were huge.

***I think Cardwyn is actually better geared than Azshandra is at the moment, because while Az has more Zul'Gurub gear, she is still running with an L55 Green chestpiece and has a Blue PvP-oriented dagger (Frightalon) as her main weapon. Az has absolutely terrible luck at getting those chestpiece drops.

****Another item that cuts raid time is the distribution of loot; in some raids the distribution is done along the way, and in others it's done after the raid is over. For obvious reasons, the latter allows a raid to keep going with minimal downtime.

*****Zul'Gurub's drops end up somewhere between the T0 pre-raid sets and T1 Molten Core gear. That means that eventually I'll need to bring Az into Molten Core to gear her up further, but I don't raid that much. And in the Molten Core raid I attend, there are already about 6 Rogues signed up, with anywhere between 3-5 Mages (including Card) on a regular basis.

******In a post Covid-19 world, those are the most worrisome. It's one thing to unsubscribe due to a variety of issues, but with Covid out in the wild there's always the concern in the back of your head that maybe that person you hung with and just vanished actually contracted the coronavirus and is in the hospital.


  1. She's a Frost Mage, dealing less damage than a comparatively geared Fire Mage.

    You realise all mages in Molten Core are frost, seeing how everything in there is literally immune to fire damage? XD I'm thinking I must be reading this wrong, but you do specifically mention Molten Core in the previous paragraph...

    In regards to clear times, my impression was that these were largely influenced by how serious the guild was about gathering world buffs before each run, as these greatly multiply the raid's damage output. Has this been a thing in your guild at all?

    Anyway, I'm glad to hear you're enjoying yourself. :) How often do you join raids at the moment? Do you go every week?

    1. Okay, I will admit that when I typed the Fire Mage line I forgot I was talking specifically about MC there. (I'm kind of tired of hearing the "you want DPS, you need to spec Fire!" line) However, that general statement does apply to MC too, as I've discovered by accident that some of the baddies in MC aren't immune to fire damage. I know this because my "normal" rotation includes Fire Blast as a finishing move, and I'll forget occasionally in MC.

      And there's a very definite dropoff if I'm in, say, UBRS or Z'G, where the Fire Mages can pretty much cut loose.

      As for the clear times being related to the buffs, I'd say about 1/2 to 2/3 of the group will hoard their world (and other, such as DM-North Tribute) buffs. That also depends on whether they were in another raid before MC. The MC run is pretty late at night (1 AM Eastern time and 10 PM Pacific time) and some people hop from BWL or Z'G straight into MC. Or, in the case of the other day, people jump from MC into Z'G or Ony. (Like me, who got an invite to join an Ony in progress right after MC. I then proceeded to forget that Card is a Mage --and I wasn't on Az-- and ran into the middle of a couple of packs of whelps to use Arcane Explosion rather than stay back and blast them remotely. And yes, that meant I got to bed at around 4 AM or something.)

      As for raiding, MC is a weekly thing. Invites go out at 12:30 AM EST, and first pull at 1:00 AM. I'm not exactly sure if I'm going to end up turning that Z'G guild run into a weekly event, as I'd only been invited that once and I certainly wasn't expecting it, but we'll see how it goes. If I'm feeling up to it, I can always get into one of the numerous LFG pugs out there.