Boss is dead - Paragon Q&A
After our Ragnaros kill we put up a thread where we asked people tell us what they wanted to know about our Ragnaros kill and t12 progress. I collected all the information and the questions and will now try to go through your requests in this short blog with the help of zyn, Deva, Kruf, Wakoz and Hermanni.
So what was requested of us in the first place? Streams. I guess people love streams and we understand why. However, our opinion about them hasn't changed and we still inted to only stream during special occasions, such as events. We like to keep the private side of our guild private, and relax and have fun with the guild during farm. We like to talk about stupid stuff and tease each other without showing the whole world how we socialize. Also there is always extra pressure to play perfect when we stream, as we always want to give our viewers the best.
So sorry everyone, you won't be seeing weekly streams anytime soon from Paragon.
Timelapse movie from Firelands! This was a good idea, and I think this can be arranged. Though again we only want to show people flawless gaming and will only make a video when we'll be able to one-shot everything. Another suggestion was to make a movie about our failed attempts to show people what really is so hard about the bosses (since I hear our playing often looks almost too perfect; encounters look easy when we play them). Even when I personally liked the idea, we didn't feel like it would be 'us' to release a video of us failing.
People also requested a tanking strategy guide from Lazei, which only Lazei can do (and I have my doubts that he will), and an article on how our Ragnaros strategy evolved. Kind of a chronology of the kill. We might be writing this, the only problem is that the early progress was already 2 weeks ago and it's starting to be hard to remember what we did and what we thought. Let's see if we'll be able to get this done.
I gathered rest of the questions here, and asked guildies to help me answer them.
How did you keep the players motivated?
zyn: - It's up to the individual players to keep themselves motivated. The only thing we can do as a guild is to not chip away on that motivation. Every player is an individual and individual people react differently to different kinds of things. Some of them you need to approach in a different manner than others. Most people will react in a significantly more positive way if you have the time and patience to put in the extra effort into relaying a message. That rarely happens in raids though. So the best you can do is not create an overly hostile atmosphere that's just focused on blaming people who mess up etc - it won't change anything for the better.
How do you manage stress?
xenophics: This is again something very individual. Myself I manage my stress very poorly and feel like shit the whole progress. If I was wise though, I'd eat good, sleep long, and not worry about other guilds' progress and everything related to the race. But I'm just like this. What helps me though is to read a book or watch a series when I start to get too worried. Basically just get your mind to something completely else.
Luckily other players in our guild aren't as nervous as I am and manage pretty good during the progress.
What kinda hours did you spend? Was it a whole day at a time, with little to no sleep?
zyn: - Initially, yeah. We were raiding something like 12-16 hours per day. Later on we cut down on the hours to something more reasonable, as the extra hours weren't helping at all.
There were hotfixes (for example the many hotfixes regarding living meteors) during the tries. How does this work? Do you and other top guilds have a direct contact to developers?
xenophics: We have acquired a few emails where we can report bugs, but that's only one way feedback from us to them. There is no option to chat with the developers whenever we feel like it.
How often do we check other top guilds’ progress on IRC? What about stalking setups on their realm?
Wakoz: I constantly refresh WoWprogress, some other guys check irc and ingame for setups!
There is a huge difference of geal leve between the classes. For example the hunters are way better equipped than the warlocks. Is this pure loot randomness or was it a gearing strategy?
Wakoz: Well, the thing is that we had 2x 25man raids, one HC and normal, so I guess that it was pure loot randomness. Also that atleast one of our hunter had luck with Baradin Hold tier drops. (We got a total of 3 or 4 PvE drops i think). Our final setup wasn't clear for a long time, so there was people with 0 HC items from Firelands at our kill, and people sitting out with some hc items.
Why did you pick the raid comp that got the kill? What do those classes have that counter the fight's mechanics so well?
Wakoz: Certain classes like, Druids and Death Knights can do what other classes can't, knockback + grip on phase 2 Sons of Flame. Also, they both do massive amount of AoE(ranged) damage. One Mage was there for Bloodlust.
Do you guys do separate raids with your alts?
Wakoz: As I said earlier, we have 2x 25man raids, combined with alts and mains, one HC and one normal. Most of the mains are of course in the HC raid, but there is always also some good geared alts. Now it doesn't really matter who you take on the first six bosses, you can even bring a shaman or two!
How ofter did you reforge / redo you talent trees during Ragnaros encounter?
Hermanni: I started off as Destruction until they nerfed Shadowfury on Molten Elementals, then I was off the raid comp for a few days until we convinced everyone Demonology would abolish any unwanted meteors. Last 4 days or so before kill I made it a point to change my talents, glyphs, reforging and gemming to look like I was still playing Destruction every time I logged out, whenever possible. Even without such trickery, there were a lot of adjustments being made on a daily basis in the raid, and I supposed everyone went through several changes to their gear and talents over the almost 2 weeks we spent on Ragnaros.
How the hell did you kill Ragnaros with Smirky in the raid?!
Hermanni: Because Deterrence works!
Was the fight/tier fun? hard?
Hermanni: I did find it really enjoyable. Even if the first 4 bosses were at best challenging in difficulty, which didn't quite do justice to how good bosses like Alysrazor could have been with with a hundred million extra health or so, the overall balance was good. I'd say 4 non-linear bosses that are very different in nature serve as good stepping stones to 3 gated and tightly tuned bosses, although I would have liked to spend an extra day or two with Baleroc and Staghelm and a few less on Ragnaros. And maybe few less overall, it being summer and all :>
I must say Ragnaros did come across as a really well-made boss, that regardless of the lack of external testing didn't really have any bugs that made him downright impossible or silly, and there were a lot of things about him that potentially could have been *very* broken. Undoubtedly there were some RNG factors, but those can always be beat with persistence. The boss was both hard and fun, and the difficulty didn't come from ridiculous tuning or broken mechanics - what else can you ask for?
How much space all the FRAPS footage took up?
Hermanni: The first 2 days I frapsed pretty much every boss pull, and from Shannox to Baleroc they took over 1 TB. I kind of "forgot" to fraps Majordomo and I didn't even bother frapsing the first week or so on Ragnaros unless there was something that needed to be observed later on. Overall I must've had at least 4 TB in raw footage, of which majority has been deleted by now (only had around 1,2 TB of free space to begin with), and I'd expect at least Deva frapsed more than I did.
How do you prepare for each fight/encounter (before and after wipes)?
Deva: On a personal level: I start to prepare for a new instance around 1 month to 2 weeks before the patch hits. I make sure I have enough everything, like enchant materials, LOTS of tol'vir potions, flasks, foods, gems etc. (used around 1k tol'vir potions during Ragnaros tries and still have over 500~ left). I'm also eyeballing the Dungeon Journal and learning as much as I can from the fight beforehand (sometimes you just need to see what the text in DJ actually means).
If I notice that some out of ordinary talent/glyph/pet would be better for a certain fight, I'm going and speccing between pulls and testing it out. If it works I let my fellow hunters know about it. I try to put my personal life in order before new patch hits so I can play as much as possible without interupts. I stack my fridge full of food and cola! Food that I can make quickly because there always isn't that much time to prepare and eat your food.
Do you usually have players take roles as leaders or do you always let everyone in on the fun?
xenophics: We work in a way that everyone can share their thoughts and put their brains into action while making a strategy. Everyone tells what their class is good at and the raid leaders (Lazei and Seita) make the setups and strategies based on that with input from the whole raid.
How did the dungeon journal influence the kill, and the tier as a whole?
Deva: On the first 6 bosses, not that much, cause we saw them on PTR. It helped with Ragnaros last phase though, because the window to learn stuff before you get out run down by dreadflame/meteors is so small.
Is the fight a skillcheck, or was it hard mainly due to the lack of gear?
Deva: In the beginning we did shitloads of stupid mistakes so we needed to grind them out. Gear helps tremendeously in phase 2 when you need to burn him as fast as you can under 29M hp ( transition to p4 starts ). If you succeed he doesn't summon 2 more meteors. With the gear we had during the kill week, we needed to take some risks to gain dps in p3. Normally when you take risks you die more easily and it's a wipe. Phase 4 was RNG and skill combined, you didn't really need super good gear in last phase. Conclusion, I'd say it's both Skill and gear check.
What kinda theorycrafting did you use?
Kruf: On Ragnaros, the most important theorycrafting was to figure out whether it was actually realistic to get to phase 4 with only 2 meteors with the gear and setup we had and what other constraints that would put on the raid, ie. how many healers we could have and so on.
How you go about developing a strategy - do you have any kind of formulas you run through when approaching a new encounter? First try X, then add Y, etc? Or is it more of a spaghetti-test-throw-everything-at-the-wall and see what sticks?
Kruf: There's some obvious things to try on every new encounter, like whether immunity-abilities work on whatever the boss does and what damage in the fight, if any, can be resisted and so on. The other important thing we do is start collecting information on how often the abilities are used so we can add some timers for those later on.
After how many tries do you decide to change the strategy and who takes part in the decision?
Kruf: There's no set number of tries that we do before changing strategy; if we see it obviously CANNOT work, we start brainstorming a new one right away. If it seems like it can work, but requires more gear or incredible luck we'll think if there's something that can be done to improve the odds after a few wipes.