Like many of the guilds who have completed Naxxramas, we are working on the The Immortal and The Undying achievements. I find that I have very mixed feelings on these achievements.
First, I would like to make it clear that I respect these achievements. I consider guilds with Immortal (and Undying to a lesser extent) to be very skilled. In my experience, you almost always mess up on Immortal because you made a mistake, not because of randomness or factors out of your control. Especially as a healer, Immortal represents perfection. You get Immortal, you did the instance perfectly, and that is something to be applauded. In my opinion, a raid should always be striving for that perfection, even if they fall short most of the time.
However, on Tuesday my 10-man group went for an Undying attempt. Most of us had cleared Naxxramas together the previous two weeks, so we were pretty comfortable with each other. We went deep into Naxx, perfect on every boss up to Kel'Thuzad. Facing KT with an Undying on the line is a rush. We start the fight, go through phase 1 fine, KT comes alive and then the main tank fails to move out of a Shadow Fissure. Instant death. Achievement lost.
Do you know what I felt at that moment?
I wasn't upset or angry or disappointed or even sad. All I could feel was relief that I wasn't the one who screwed up!
We actually killed KT that attempt. The OT took over tanking, and we battle-ressed the main tank. The poor guy was so flustered that he ended up dying to another Shadow Fissure. And this was someone who had done KT successfully the previous two weeks. The off-tank had to tank KT and the adds for the rest of the fight.
Why was I so relieved? Because the cost of dying was so high. You basically cost everyone else in the raid a week's worth of effort. If it was a mistake on a normal fight, you wipe, pick yourself up and try again. All you really lose is 10 minutes and some gold.
Secondly, the social cost is very high for a single mistake. In the back of your mind, you have to wonder if the group will ostracize you for that one mistake. Even if you think they won't, the weight of that potential ostracism is terrible. And you know, they might end up excluding you. If the raid leader puts together another Undying run next week, I don't think he's going to invite this tank. (The tank does have some connection issues that make the decision more understandable.) Despite the fact that this tank has run with us more or less successfully for the last three weeks.
And yet, I really enjoyed that run. People played skillfully. They concentrated hard, and that effort showed. The run was quick, clean, and efficient. If the Undying achievement did not exist, I would consider that to have been the best raid I have ever run in terms of sheer performance. This run was so much better than my usual experience for farm runs, where people start slacking off.
As well, I don't think I really like "altering tactics" for Immortal. Things like changing your spec to emphasize survival, or taking more healers than you would normally, or using Seal of Command instead of Seal of Blood. To me, Immortal represents perfection. And perfection is the product of execution, not something to be gamed. You play a certain way because that is the best way to play, not because it is the most survivable. Like, do I think my current 54/17/0 spec is the best spec? No, but it has the most survivability.
Perhaps an analogy will illustrate what I'm trying to get at. Baseball has a concept called a Perfect Game. 27 batters come up, and 27 batters go down without a single one making it to a base. It is the ultimate accomplishment for a pitcher, and something that every pitcher aspires to. But no pitcher wakes up and says, "Today, I'm going to pitch a perfect game." They just go out and pitch their best, and very rarely a pitcher is able to achieve that plateau of perfection.
Essentially, what I want is for Immortal to be a side-effect of playing perfectly, rather than a goal that is worked towards in and of itself. Something worth striving for all the time, but not something that requires playing in a different manner other than what you would consider your most effective.