Tier 13, the Hour of Fading Light?

Deathwing, reduced to a pile of ... dragon bits?

We may have had to claw our way there, but we finally pulled together what we had from our normal roster and destroyed Madness of Deathwing. After last week’s 7 percent wipe on 25-man, we knew we had a kill in sight. Unfortunately, when this week came — so close to Christmas — our guild pane was looking dismal. Criticism had two choices: postpone all raids until next lockout, or form a 10-man to nail Neltharion once and for all (until heroic mode, that is).

So we did what all quasi-democratic organizations do: vote and then decide if it means anything. Fourteen people wanted to form the 10-man, four others did not. My co-officer, Disclosure, has been very ill this week with The World’s Worst Sinus Infection, though several guildies enjoyed her husky, pack-a-day voice. With our GM vacationing in Alaska, her home state, Disclosure formed the 10-man and we one-shot Warmaster, blew through Spine … and two-shot Madness.

Yay, Kiril staff for me and awesome healing trinket for our holy priest, Defaulty! But something was wrong. Did this cobbled-together amalgamation of raiding mean anything? Why didn’t this feel the same as finally downing Arthas in Icecrown Citadel? That was on 10-man too, but I can tell you that when Terenas rezzed us and we beat that paladin’s ass, it felt AMAZING. Downing Deathwing just didn’t feel important for us. It’s but one step in our progression, and “Destroyer’s End” is kind of blah right now.

Bastion of Twilight, do we even remember?

The question is this: Why?

It’s LFR, stupid. This was my first thought. What I mean is that our guild killed Madness on a lower difficulty than “normal” before the real thing. In my mind, this takes away from some of the wonder of the encounter. Sure, you can watch a YouTube video or listen to what someone says about a fight, but until you see it yourself you can’t say you’ve experienced anything. Madness is a bit tamer on LFR, of course. You don’t have to worry about Shrapnel or Impale generally killing anyone. The Elementium Bolt is far less dangerous. This is all great for learning the encounter, with training wheels, but you are seeing the end of Deathwing. It’s the same end he meets on normal and heroic. So does that detract from how much you might enjoy said death?

One of the more learned raiders I follow on Twitter said:

To me, it’s like asking if getting an A on a test still feels good, when you already had an A on the homework. Yes! To continue my analogy, beating it on heroic will be getting a perfect on the final exam. LFR is a movie trailer, Normal is seeing a choppy stream version of it, and Heroic is the book that it was based off of.

Others said they were lucky enough to kill Deathwing before his four-boss wing was released on LFR.

It’s the raid size. We killed the boss on 10-man, which isn’t what our guild is about at this point. Not everyone was very happy that we did so, even if I am confused about what it all means. Maybe it’s a little bit of guilt eating away at me for finishing this normal stuff. I know we can do it on 25-man, but I do feel a bit bad for those few who got left out. Everyone loves ilevel 403 loot and titles. The other side of that is being able to call yourself an 8/8 guild in the never-ending recruiting process.

We wanted to switch to 25-man to avoid the composition issues that run rampant on 10-man, as I’ve said before. But I’m finding you can run into the same problems on 25 when you just plain don’t have enough bodies. Throw in the holiday season and things can get dicey.

Of course, 10-man guilds are a lot more common these days. We used to be one on Alleria. Our new server, Area 52, now has 32 guilds labeled as 10-man at 8/8N or better. In contrast, A-52 has only five 25-man guilds at 8/8-plus. Statistics on these things — including those available at Wowtrack — seem to show a mixed picture for Tier 13 on “relative difficulty” for each raid size and encounter. For instance, Wowtrack lists Ultraxion and Spine of Deathwing as being significantly harder on 25-man, but none of the normal modes for the same marker on 10-man. (Heroic: Hagara is shown as tougher on 10-man, however.)

It’s just normal, silly. As I’ve grown as a raider, surely far behind other druids out there such as Reesi, maybe normal mode end bosses don’t mean as much to me as they once did. Oh we’re done with normal? Means to an end, baby. Let’s get into those heroic modes and this tier’s supposed Halfus/Shannox, aka Morchok. See, I guess what I’m saying is we’re trying for something bigger out there. Progression in 2011 isn’t the same as it was for us in the early Wrath days.

This is especially true on such a highly populated server. We’re a small drop in a big sea here, but we still have to try. And that means doing more than just normal modes. I know, you’re probably going to say that the top guild on A-52 is 4/8H, and the No. 1 group on Alleria is at the same place (albeit on 10-man). Both are true. But this isn’t going to stop our tough-as-nails GM from pounding us into the ground and trying to break our spines in the name of dead bosses. She really is a nice lady … to her husband. Sometimes. At night. Mostly.

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