In recent weeks our small guild ventured into a few Mythic dungeons for the first time. We’d been rolling through Heroics without too much difficulty (other than the deadly platform bosses in Theatre of Pain), so decided we should try a Mythic or two to see where we stood ability-wise.
Somewhat to our surprise (or mine at least) we succeeded! We tried Sanguine Depths, and after triumphantly not dying to the first trash pack we cleaned up all the bosses. We even somehow fudged our way through the nightmare gauntlet corridor boss, despite me not realising I could pop the magic-shield to save us - even though our healer was continually saying ‘there’s something we’re missing here’. Oops.
After that victory we completed Tirna Scithe and Theatre of Pain, raising our confidence and the dawning possibility that we might be ready for raiding?!
We ran the numbers and worked out we had 7 confirmed raiders. At first we intended to pug the final three, but after some thinking managed to recruit three more friends and family to the team. The magic number was reached, and we ran our first ever raid.
I figured we should prepare for the first two bosses, Shriekwing and Huntsman, and researched them on Icy-Veins and Tanknotes. Our group is very much a learn-as-you-play team, but having some basic idea of what might happen is always a good idea.
Based on the guides, Shriekwing seemed doable once the mechanics were understood, whilst Huntsman looked super chaotic - three phases, many gotchas, and a lot going on. Fun! I felt vaguely confident we would get through Shriekwing, and have a few tries on Huntsman.
Spoiler: not even close.
We headed into Castle Nathria, nervous, and were pleased to find there was basically no trash before Shriekwing. One great thing was that because we were in a guild group, we all watched the mini cinematics rather than rushing past. It was fantastic seeing and hearing Sire Denathrius welcome us to his playhouse, and introduce us to his first pet.
Shriekwing is basically a movement and cooldown test. In Phase 1, Tanks have to keep the boss fairly immobile, DPS have to avoid his line-of-sight casts, Healers have to keep the tanks alive through a 100% heal debuff, and everyone has to drop blood pools away from the raid. In Phase 2 everyone has to run around dodging bad stuff whilst still avoiding the LOS casts. And Heals have to keep everyone alive whilst still doing all that.
It sounds and looks simple enough when you read and watch the guides, but holy cow is it more complicated when you’re trying to actually do it. There are so many things to keep track of, and it’s easy to lose sight of what is happening next. Especially because we were all instantly panicking for the first few pulls.
We slowly started to settle down and focus, but we were somewhat under-geared, and under-ripe. I made a lot of tanking mistakes, not least watching the wrong timers for the tank taunt swap, which meant we kept dying too easily and too early.
Our best pull got the big bat down to 60%. We only made it to Phase 2 once with everyone alive, and it kept falling apart after that because one tank or the other would go down.
After twelve pulls we called it a night. Huntsman would have to wait.
Despite not getting past the first boss, it was great. Even improving by 2% per pull made us realise we were (very slowly) progressing. We had four members who had never raided, and five more that hadn’t raided beyond LFR for many years. And half of us had gear well lower than recommended.
For next week everyone will be more prepared, and better geared. And if we get to 50% we’ll be happy.
One of our first-timers even reported he woke three times overnight in WoW raiding dreams. Perfect.
I wrote this a week ago and forgot to post it. Last night we went in for our second try, and it was much more successful, though we still didn’t get past Shriekwing. But we did indeed pass 50% (47%!), and we consistently got through Phase 1 with everyone alive and healthy. Unfortunately the bouncing rings of blood kept overwhelming us in Phase 2.
It was encouraging and fascinating how we did end up learning Phase 1 well enough that it became semi-automatic, which means Phase 2 should follow next week. It was a good demonstration how there is nothing better than doing to learn - week one gave us the information we needed to succeed in week two.
And given we improved, I think we can now say we’re progression raiders ;-)