Behold the Rage of the Firelands:
Those of you who read this blog regularly will know that I haven’t had much luck with raids in Cataclysm. In fact, I’d given up on ever killing a Firelands boss before the next expansion.
But that didn’t stop me from trying, and I was able to get into a raid on my rogue a few days ago. They were on the firehawk boss, Alysrazor, by the time I got there. What followed was one of the most brutally difficult and soul-crushing experiences in my entire World of Warcraft career.To make a long story short, I did okay on phase one, but was instakilled every time the phase with the fire tornadoes came around, and the group ultimately failed due to a lack of DPS due to me being dead. I’ve caused wipes before, but this may have been the first time an entire raid failed because of me.
This upset me so badly I just about gave up on raiding permanently. But soon after, I did get into a Blackwing Descent raid on my holy paladin, in which I was basically carried to a free Nefarian kill by some Firelands-geared superheroes.
Maybe BWD gave me courage, or maybe I’m just a glutton for punishment, but I joined another Firelands run on my paladin last night. I expected to maybe get Shannox before we were beaten to a pulp, and maybe have more to rant about on this here blog.
I went 6/7 with only three wipes.
They kept going, but I left because I was about to fall asleep at my keyboard.
I couldn’t believe how smooth it went. I suppose it’s because it was largely a guild group, but even I managed not to screw up. I even lived through Alysrazor — though I’m not sure how. My only guess is that it was because I had two feathers this time instead of one. Maybe the other group forgot to mention you need two to live? Truth be told, I had no clue what I was supposed to do through a good chunk of the raid.
So now I’m not sure what to make of the difficulty of Firelands. I still say whoever designed Alysrazor needs a punch in the jaw, but on the other hand, Baleroc was actually too easy. I had this nice, neat rant and narrative about how Blizzard was out to get the casual players after my first attempt, but after the second raid, now I don’t know what to say.
There are two things I’m sure of, though.
One is that Firelands, Alysra aside, is awesome. I really haven’t enjoyed the Cataclysm raids very much so far. They’re aesthetically bland, lacking in lore, and generally have dull mechanics — with the notable exception of Cho’gall. Firelands, on the other hand, is beautiful and features awe-inspiring music and very fun boss fights.Staghelm was probably my favourite. It was just the perfect level of difficulty to get my blood pumping without causing a panic attack. The mechanics were unique without being bizarre or incomprehensible. He was a character with a good backstory I’d been looking forward to killing. And his animal forms were fantastic-looking.
Rhyolith was damn fun, too.
The only one I can’t say I enjoyed was Shannox. It managed to be hard to heal despite its bland, basic mechanics, and I felt bad for killing his dogs.
The other thing I’m sure of is that one (amazingly fun) raid doesn’t change my opinion on the state of raiding in this game. I got incredibly lucky. It doesn’t change the fact that it took months for me to even attempt to kill a boss in Firelands, or the fact that it might be weeks or months more before I get to go again. It doesn’t change the fact that people less experienced with raiding than I would be lost in most of these fights. I still think raiding is a poor system, bordering on the broken, and I still hope and pray the Raid Finder will change things for the better.
I will say one good thing about the Cataclysm raid model, though: shorter raids are much better. It’s a much greater sense of accomplishment to clear most or all of an instance in a night than just a small part of it. And let’s be honest with ourselves here; Ulduar did not need fourteen bosses.