This past weekend was a raiding watershed for my guild. It was the first all-guild full-clear of 10-person Naxxramas. Now, for a serious raiding guild, only just now completing Naxx would be an embarrassment, not an accomplishment. But we are not a serious raiding guild.
We are, first and foremost, a bunch of friends and people with similar interests, who are in the guild to socialize and draw upon a reliable, competent player base for running heroics. We are casual – raiding is entirely optional, an opportunity that guild membership presents as a kind of bonus. People must be sufficiently geared, of course, but groups for heroics (not to mention advice on gear, enchants, and talents) are easy to come by.
Yes, we’re casual, but those of us who choose to raid take it seriously. We’ve been doing Naxx10 two nights a week for maybe a month and a half, now, along with Sarth and VoA10, and even a sprinkling of 25-person raid nights with some allied guilds. We have slowly but surely gotten past the phase of getting everyone geared up, to the point where we really had a shot at defrosting Kel’Thuzad’s freezer. And last night, we did it.
Friday and Saturday were our regularly scheduled raid nights. Friday saw our always-shifting cast of guildies (minus myself; work, work, work…) breeze through the Arachnid and Construct wings, and Saturday we did a similar job on Military and Plague. The night was young, and we weren’t about to leave Sapphiron’s bones undisturbed for another week. We proceeded into the Frostwyrm Lair – and a fight none of us had actually participated in before. Say what you will about the relative lack of difficulty in the current endgame (and I’ll probably agree with you), but I still largely attribute the fact that we killed Sapphiron (and don’t get too comfortable, Maly) on our second try – ever – to a raid leader who is very on top of things, in terms of both strategy research and in-battle direction, and some totally kickass healers.
We were feeling pretty damned good at that point, and charged (as circumspectly as one can charge, anyway) onward to Kel’Thuzad. We gave it three good tries that night: first attempt, we got him to about 45%, even though our ret Pally disconnected about two minutes in. Second attempt, Pally’s computer completely dies, with similar results. We called in a warlock to pinch-DPS for one last try, and got him down to 19% before we wiped. By now it was late, we were tired, and we decided to call it a night, research the fight some more, and come back the next day.
Fast forward to last night. We established that Saturday night’s group composition may have been suboptimal – we’d been running two healers and two tanks, one of whom would pick up the Guardians of Icecrown when they showed up. This seemed to inevitably lead to one of the tanks getting caught by the chaining Frost Blast, and either the Guardians or the lich going wild. So, last night we had one of our Paladins switch from Protection to Holy, and handle tank healing. Bingo – we took him down in two tries.
And oh, mercy, it was a hunter-loot-stravaganza. We’re talking Helm of the Lost Protector, Nerubian Conquerer, and, eh… Staff of the Plaguehound. As much as I wanted that gun, or even the helm, to make wearing my Heroes’ Cryptstalker Tunic closer to an actual upgrade, I passed; I’d won some nice boots and the aforementioned chestpiece the night before, and there were three, count ‘em, three other hunters in last night’s group, two of whom were significantly less geared than me. Remember what I said earlier about my guild? A bunch of friends? Yes, I meant that. Congratulations, Pig and Whistle Society!