Sunday, November 29, 2009

Going in Blind

Last week, my guild did something that we very rarely do: we went into a fight blind, without knowing the strategy ahead of time.

It wasn't really a major fight, or a planned event. We were going through Ulduar, and we got to Auriaya, someone suggested that we do the Achievement [Crazy Cat Lady]. We shrugged and went to try it, not expecting that it would be very hard.

We started with 2 tanks, each tanking 2 adds. And then we started wiping. After a few wipes, we realized that our add tanks were constantly dying at around the same time. Looking up the death meter on Recount showed that they died from a Bleed debuff that was ticking for 20k. At this point, we realized that the Bleed was a stacking debuff. So we tried using 4 tanks, each having one add. This worked a little better, but the tanks still died to the bleed, just a little later in the fight.

So we switched to tank swapping. Two tanks took 2 adds each. At 7 stacks, a clean tank taunted the adds. This strategy seemed more successful, and on the next try the tanks opted to see if they could survive up to 10 stacks, to minimize swaps. However, this made it harder to heal, as both old and new tanks were taking heavy damage. We went down to 4 stacks, and swapped as often as possible. That attempt was very clean and led to a nice kill.

I had a lot of fun that fight. I greatly enjoy working on strats and tweaking them until you get something right. This is the one aspect of Royalty guilds that I really envy. They get to go in blind and form their own strategies for most content.

The immediate question is why not seek out a guild that tries to play blind? My guild explicitly looks up strategies and videos before the raid. This seems opposite to what I like.

The trade-off though is time. If we went in blind, we'd probably be a lot further back than we are now, progression-wise. That [Crazy Cat Lady] attempt was a great deal of fun, but we spent over two hours on that fight. If we had looked it up ahead of time, we would have one- or two-shot it.

Second, you can't guarantee that no one will "cheat". If you have a raid group of 25 people--especially people who are enthusiastic about WoW--odds are someone will follow discussions about bosses. They'll surf forums, or read EJ, or watch videos. Then what do you if the "cheater" contributes to the strategy discussion? Ignoring what she says, just because of the source, seems counter-productive.

Third, it's already hard enough to find a decent Aristocracy-level guild that matches my schedule and general inclinations. Adding the "doesn't look up strategies" requirement might eliminate all possible guilds. Especially as such a guild is likely to lose better players to further advanced guilds. Very few people are willing to deliberately wipe when they could avoid failure by looking up the answers online.

Finally, we still haven't beaten all the content, even knowing the strategies ahead of time. Formulating our own strategy from scratch seems like a luxury when we still need to work on our execution.

Still, fights like this [Crazy Cat Lady] and Al'ar back in TBC, where I got to strategize rather than just follow a recipe, remain treasured moments.

15 comments:

Klepsacovic said...

I have fond memories of figuring out strats for my guild. Sure it costs more wipes, but I'd trade 5 wipes or so for the opportunity to play the full raiding game; all that strategizing is part of raiding and it's a shame that people work so hard to eliminate it.

I have thought of making a guild that runs blind, but I suspect it's too late for this expansion. People either know the fights by now or they're so incredibly slow that I doubt they'd learn at a good rate. Maybe next expansion, starting at the first raid.

Best of luck and opportunity for future blindness!

Calinaomil said...

I love it when we have to figure out our own strats on the fly. I remember when ToC first came out, our Raid Leader was convinced Twins was first up to bat. Next thing you know, Northrend Beasts appeared! Figuring out how to do that fight without a preplanned strategy had to have been one of my most fun encounters that I've done in a while.

Phelps said...

That's one thing that I loved about the pre-nerf Ignis trash. The first two were absolutely owning groups when Ulduar first came out, to the point that the GMs were clowning people on the forums. "Just round everything up and AE it, right? Isn't that how you say we've made the game?"

Meanwhile, our group, which included a fair number of vanilla WoW raiders, took one wipe, and went, "OK, it's a LOS fight, we do it like Firemaw" and went right through it. It felt so GOOD to figure it out on our own and breeze past everyone else.

ZacharyPruckowski said...

Blizzard's addition of attempt limits (either limiting wipes or limiting time) seems to discourage this. Going in blind might cost you 5 extra wipes, which is no big deal in Uld25, but if you only get 10 tries on the Lich King in a week, that's a major hit.

Anonymous said...

The PTR is a good place to go blind when they are testing new bosses.

However with so many news site about World of Warcraft, you need to be on the cutting edge to get there on the first night.

And, from personal experience, it helps going with friend. I did a PuG once and it broke after two wipes. I was telling myself, what did people expect on a new boss.

Ixobelle said...

i can't stand the idea of watching a video beforehand.

ugh.

sadly, this is what's expected.

Anonymous said...

Even the best guilds in the world don't go in blind. They may not have strategy write-ups and videos to study but datamined content gives enough information about a boss' abilities that they can suss out the general thrust of the fight before they ever pull.

Like it or not, if you care about ranking you can't go in blind. And since the majority of the world does care about ranking, if you ever need to recruit then you need to care about ranking.

RJ said...

While I'm not going to disagree with your viewpoint, since it's certainly understandable and valid, I personally would just find it a little silly to always (or even just usually) go without seeing at least some prior details, because in the end, you're mostly just spending time to discover things that have already been done.

Isn't this one of the things the Internet was designed for? Spreading information about what does and doesn't work so that needless effort isn't wasted on duplication?

Of course, that said, even the strats already put out aren't infallible. Instead of making the game being to develop the -entire- strategy yourself, why not make it that you are bending it to your own raid comp? It's very unlikely that you have the exact same setup as the dudes who wrote it, after all. I know we've had to spend a lot of time refining and adjusting strategies from Tankspot and other sites in my guild, which isn't that much different from going in "blind".

After all, even if you aren't following a strategy from some boss guide, you're still going to run from the default strategy of "tank and spank" until you discover that things don't quite work that way.


That said, we still had some fun in Heroic ToC because we tried to run everything like normal, and finding out that things didn't quite work that way. "Wait, why are the jormungars out? Gormok isn't dead yet.", "Why is the portal still up and spawning Maidens?", and my favourite "Uh, the ice spheres aren't respawning."

Anonymous said...

[quote]Best of luck and opportunity for future blindness![/quote]

/agree

No.19 said...

Interesting that you posted this since wow.com just posted an Breakfast Topic article on the very same subject.

http://www.wow.com/2009/12/02/breakfast-topic-running-progression-raids-blind/

My husband and I run a small 10-man guild that does raid blind. Obviously, we're not on the cutting edge of progression, but we enjoy figuring out the fights on our own. It reminds me of solving adventure game puzzles without peeking at a walkthrough!

Rohan said...

Heh, the wow.com article actually links to this one. It's not really a coincidence.

Forever_night said...

Um i did the achievement with my guild 10 man raid we did the achievement and it took around 5 trys. fighting blind is fun for certain raids (including ulduar, dieing is one of the aspects.

Willsbeau said...

My guild decided for this expansion we would do all the fights blind. We tell everyone not to read up on fights and although some do, they keep their mouths shut for the most part, although we rarely one shot bosses and instances on the first night they are out, we do quite well, and we have fun.

Sure guild rankings are important but what does it really matter if you aren't #1. Have fun completing the instance not just having a number on some website that knows nothing about how much fun you're having.

Now I will admit when we have lots of problems we do look up fights and make sure we aren't missing something important (like that a fusion punch dispell might miss)

Good luck to you!

Kamaron said...

My GM has changed his raid strategy as well. In BC we were required to read up on fights and be prepared with consumables. This xpac we've done everything blind. Now most of the guild enjoys it for the first 2 attempts after that we 75% of the group get irritated. I wouldnt get irritated as much if didnt know that the guild actually took things seriously once upon a time. ToGC is hell the officers (main tank/GM) refuse to read up strats and take the time to learn how to use everyone to their full potential.

I think the whole normal and hardmode thing really killed "progression" raiding for the guild Im in. BC we were a progression guild and one of the better horde side guilds on our server now not so high and the majority of our skilled players have abandoned us due to the "blind" style of raiding.

WoW_Squid said...

Blindness is getting contagious coz they give those goosebumps! Really an adventure. Strategizing on the fly is more fun during those raids!