Thursday, March 05, 2009

Immortal and Undying

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?

Profound relief.

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.


  1. I am Khassad the Undying since a few weeks and I agree with you, people play much better in this kind of run.

    In general, I love this kind of challenge, when "one error and everything is lost".

  2. I had a similar thing, except I'm a healer. Off tank is waiting for adds to spawn, gets Ice Blocked, I misclick and fail to heal him. Yes, that did suck, and I felt pretty damn stupid.

  3. I understand the pressure but I do like achievements that ask people to just do the same stuff as normal - but as perfectly as they can. I like it much better than the undermanning achievements (leave people sitting outside when you don't have to?) or brute force achievements (kill faerlina without doing any of the parts of the fight that are actually fun?).

    We're going for Undying this week. But tbh I keep telling them that every week is really an Undying attempt :) We really don't need to totally overgear the instance to get it at all.

  4. I only have the one title still "Champion of the Naruu" and really like The undying.

    I would prefer Justicar but thats a different story.

  5. I really think that's the right way to see this achievement - as a side effect of perfect execution, almost accidently. I will ALWAYS strive for undying. But still I can understand if you'll get a bit shaky if you're at KT and it's just within your grasp.... Now or never. I really feel sorry for that tank.

  6. My guild will be starting serious Immortal attempts following this week's achievement clean up. It is one of three things we need for Heroic Glory of the Raider (along with 6min Malygos, and 20man Malygos).

    I don't think Immortal is the kind of thing that happens normally in the course of playing a "perfect" clear. Normally, I'd consider a perfect clear to be a quick one, during which you may lose people along the way. The focus is on clearing it in the least time, and taking risks that may lead to one or two people dying is acceptable if they provide a net speed increase. Doing Immortal will slow the raid down.

    Its going to take very specific planning for us to have a shot at Immortal - including making sure we have 25 people that are 100% on board for taking Naxx seriously, and contingency plans in place for all the things that can go wrong.

  7. I really feel bad for the Tank who died ...

    I also understand the relief you had when he died =P. It's really tough to have that much pressure on you.

  8. I too admire and respect those who have "The Immortal" and "The Undying" titles. Like you pointed out, it represents the pinnacle of raiding. You managed to clear the raid without anyone dying, and everyone was at the top of their game.

    I, however, have a different issue to bring to the table.

    Why does everyone seem to think that 10 mans are less prestigous than 25 mans? You pointed out that you admire The Undying "to a lesser extent."

    I even see this with blizz in the upcoming 3.1 - for 25 mans, you get emblems of conquest. For 10 man, you guys are going to be stuck with emblems of valor - and old badge loot (they have specifically said that they will not ever add new loot to the current badges).

    Its kind of frustrating. You could argue that roping 25 people around an instance is a logistical nightmare (and I wouldn't disagree). You could also argue that on some bosses you have more abilities to deal with (and that is a truth).

    I do not think it a lesser challenge for 10 people to clear the same content though. The dungeons are tuned for 10 men. If one dies, you are in a bigger, more precarious situation than in a 25 man.

    Maybe my mystification comes from me getting to 70 late in BC, and never actually being able to raid (dinged 70 one week before the great nerf of patch 3.0).

    I have seen some positives though - Most raiding guilds only care about 25 man progression, thus leaving 10 mans to your own. I have a regular Naxx 10 man that I raid with friends who are scattered through several different guilds. Its absoultely fantastic that we can raid together even through we are in separate guilds (we even joke that we have a progression going). But it doesn't make it any LESS challenging.

    So, I challenge you BoK - Prove to me why 25 man is so prestigous compared to 10 man. Maybe this will change with Ulduar, when peeps realize that Ulduar is not a cakewalk like Naxx.

  9. Rohan: Daez posted this comment, but to the zg post. I'm reposting it here.

    Having just completed the Undying achievement myself, I know where you're coming from, to an extent. While I like the idea behind such achievements, I think that they put a little too much pressure on what can sometimes be fragile strings.

    We had a few people upset that we didn't choose to bring them... etc. Luckily, we managed to get our "Undying" titles the first time we made the effort at it - Otherwise I could very well see the same kind of thing happening as will likely happen to that tank. All told, the entire group was shaking like a leaf during our KT fight. I'm quite surprised we *didn't* have a death!

    Incidentally, we found it easier to do it with Dedicated Few (maybe give that a try next time, by the way), because while it *sounds* harder, the less people you/the healers have to worry about, the easier it seemed to be. With a supreme tank (your OT sounds like one!) and 1 beast of a healer (with a dedicated off-heals/dpser who then respec'd to full heals on Saph and KT), it makes life much, much easier when going for the achievement. Less people meant less chance for a screwup. (Also made the thadius achievement easier ;) ).

    Anyway, good luck and here's hoping you guys get it down. A little patience, and you will. And yeah... a failed attempt is a week wasted, but you've still got several more weeks to try. :)

  10. @Chad S., maybe it's because I'm a healer. Our job is to keep everyone alive, and thus we see perfection as everyone staying alive.

    And even on these speed runs, were any of these deaths truly inevitable? Or were they just mistakes that you didn't have enough slack to compensate for?

    @Anonymous, I don't know about 10 vs 25 man difficulty in general.

    But in specific, Immortal is harder than Undying. Only 10 people have to be perfect, rather than all 25. If each person has just a 1% chance of making a critical mistake, a 10-man has a 90% chance of success, while a 25-man only has a 78% chance.

    As well, Kel'Thuzad doesn't Mind Control in 10-man, and that's a *huge* source of variability and potential death.

  11. I find some encounters/achievements harder in 10-man, and others harder on 25. Shocking was a piece of cake in our 10-man raid, but our 25-man has yet to achieve it for the simple reason that executing the same strategy perfectly 25 times is a lot harder than executing it perfectly 10 times. The same can be said for the Immortal vs. The Undying.

    Sartharion 3D on 10-man, on the other hand, is a whole lot harder than Sartharion 3D on 25, because there is no diffusion of responsibility and very little margin for error.

    That aside, I understand exactly where you're coming from on this one, Rohan. I was the one who blew the Undying for my 10-man group last week, and for a stupid, stupid reason: I had my spell-effects turned all the way down to combat lag on our 3D attempts, and forgot to turn them back up again for Naxx. So I couldn't find a safe spot to stand when Grobbulus targeted me for his mutagen-thingie, and died. /shameface

  12. It's been a debate that Sarth 3d 10man is alot harder than 25man version. Where if a dps dies in the 10man version you lose 15-20% of your total dps.

  13. @herc: which doesn't matter at all- no enrage timer and mana shouldn't be a problem for healers just drag it out

  14. I ruined our first immortal run, and it was the worst feeling. I think I'm gonna form a support group for those flustered failed individuals.

    Did you fail? Call the Immortal Hotline.


  15. Its strange. On the one hand, I would love The Immortal accomplishment, as you say, it represents the full team executing flawlessly for ~3 hours without a slip-up. On the other hand, when somebody dies to something stupid early in the night. I mean really stupid like somebody faces the wrong way during Maexx and so when they get web wrapped they get flung all the way across the damn room and are out of range of the healers and web poppers and die. Its such a relief and you can just relax and have fun for the remaining 2:40.

    I can only imagine the pressure as you approach Sapph or KT with Immortal still within reach. I haven't personally died in Naxx in several weeks, but I bet the pressure would make me do silly things and lose focus.

  16. I have to partly agree and disagree with you on this one.

    I especially disagree with the baseball analogy. Ever seen a sportsman, who had his trousers miraculously fail midgame? (random disconnect by isp. Well, he should've better moved to a different city...)

    But I can honestly agree on relief when it's over. We half-assedly tried it one night and bam, on the first fight (Patchwerk) I got oneshot - despite running in late (5-6 sec after the tanks). Dunno what glitch it was, if healers were slow on OTs or OTs were slow to run in... but the poor melee died.

    It's still too random though. So much stuff can go wonky. People with connections stable for 2-3 months can have a bad night and DC 3x. Someone's PC could crash - for the first time in months. Or out of the blue a lagspike on Thaddius that kills 15 of 25. Sapph bugging and only 1 iceblock. (not 1-2 per side...)
    All had that - and very glad we did no serious Undying attempts...

    And I as a RaidLeader wouldn't want to bring any Melee really. - - Military Quarter - use Ranged weapons because of WW.
    - KT - don't stack for iceblocks.
    and to a lesser extent:
    - Heigan.. you know why
    - Gluth - hardly any AoE for Zombies

  17. we've gotten to KT with immortal in tact 5 times and lost it 5 different ways. Worst had to be the rogue getting MCed and destroying the tree druid with 29k damage in 1.5 seconds on the meters. We were like ...OMG NOOOO. Lost one to a healer blowing up next to a mana bomb. One on melee chaining ice blocks. its so frustrating.

  18. I just lost undying last night. We are 25 man raiding guild and we usualy used 10man as "charity" runs to gear up people that just got in raiding force.

    Several times we were close but we were wondering - if it's so easy - why don't we push it with strongest people.

    We went yesterday. One overclip on Heigan, DK oftanked Zombies without hunter and did great, even did shocking on Thadius, which was great, no melee went on Zeliek and they went down.

    Frostwyrm lair, everyone equiping FR gear to be safe more, 2nd air phase me as MT gets blocked while running back, one of best healers - druid, wonders if he gonna go behind me or behind block in middle of dpsers... Left, right, left, finally he decide to go right and don't make it.

    We oneshot KT without deaths ofc... That druid almost quited guild.

    I had to go to toilet (soz for details) since had stomack pain once we approached 4H out of pure stress.

    I wonder about some things:
    Is it worth it?
    Is it worth that much stress?
    Why best players usually fuck up?
    What to do - pretend nothing happened or freak out?

  19. Part of the problem with immmortal/undying is suddenly people are aware the clock is ticking. Funnily enough we almost got it back in december on our 3rd clear. One death on helgan for somebody on their 1st run and clear otherwise. But today we got through to kt and you could feel the tension. Frost bolt+MC and both ranged dps attacked the same healer:( dead in 1.7 seconds.

    Tomorrow we should get 6 min malygos and that means till wotlk people are going to be looking at the last achievement Immortal.

  20. As a member of a small guild it irritates me to see 25 man content easier than 10 man content. Big guilds cruise through 10 man content with 25 man gear and call it a cakewalk.

    Your reasoning about a 10 man guild having a higher success rate is specious anyway. By that logic taking 5 people into naxx would give you 95% chance at success.

    In reality the pressure that you describe in your post proves the exact opposite. The pressure on each individual to perform is magnified in 10 man. This explains why sarth10 3d is the hardest in the game.

    While immortal is probably harder than undying, its because not being bad is more difficult than being good if you get my gist.

  21. Modulok I keep see'ing this 10 man is "Harder" then 25 man and its not true.

    The single exception is sarth 3d. Both fights require 3 tanks. Except in 10 man 2 healers have to do the work of 6 and 5 dps have to do the work of 16. Too be honest a 15% drop in drake hp is all that would be needed to make the fights equal.

  22. I love your baseball analogy, I think it plays with this example for numerous reasons. To get a perfect game, tons of things have to come together, most not in the pitcher's control. Into the later part of the game everyone starts thinking "has anyone gotten on base yet?" There are a ton of pitchers with 1 hit games, very few with no hitters, fewer still with perfect games. If it happens, it happens, you look back on it and remember fondly, but in my experience, as soon as you think that it might happen is when it doesn't. Personally, as a goalie, almost every single time I start thinking "hey, I havent given up any goals" is about the exact time one goes in. Can't explain it, just the way it happens, maybe I don't play well under pressure.

    I may be the only one that thinks these achievements are bad for the game.

  23. We've been 1 death short of undying, and it was due a disconnct at the wrong time, ( and yeah it wasn't me!) we weren't aiming for the title, but the moment it became reachable we got the little bug, I feel bad for the person who dc'd at the wrong time, and ended up dead, but there was no hard feelings, the times we have attempted it we have done the harder wings just to reduced the chance our hopes get dashed on a 4th wing.

  24. meh *shrug* just keep running it again and again. again and again. then the title will be yours. But yeah. I so understand that whole "I was just so relieved it wasn't me what stuffed up". oh yes. social games can be very, very stressful. Everyone I've ever been in a guild with has been really, really nice, and mistakes are never really mentioned, but what does get talked about a lot is achievements, gear and damage stats. Yes, people in guilds do know what everyone's doing. And I love that social aspect. As someone who's a little lower than my guildies they seem to do quite a few runs just for me. I know it's not the same as for the title, but still. I don't really like going down. Anyway. On a warrior I was considering getting a shield, tanking set and re-specing for prot. Which is not really very me. I like to be a pure fury warrior, no talents in any other tree, just one or two gear for stam for levelling and pure fury for instances/raids. But for a title, it seems worth it. Although, as well as just staying alive, we still have to KILL them...

  25. Shumate (magtheridon)7:30 AM, March 10, 2009

    I play holy pally and got undying last week, the entire raid I was just scared that I was going to let someone die or eat a void zone, or not heal someone who was frost blasted, but everything was really smooth and easy (besides a rogue almost dying due to agroing an abom on kt)

  26. I have mixed feelings about achievements in general. Most seem more like gimmicks than a real challenge.

    Interestingly enough, we came very close to this without trying in our early progression runs. Now it seems to be more difficult, maybe because we are overconfident of our abilities and gear while also being hyper aware of the achievement and doing more thinking about it than just playing our best.

    Also, Sarth 3d 10 man is not the only fight that is more difficult in 10s than 25s, though all 10 man fights are not more difficult than 25s either (achievements are a different story). My personal feeling is they are so close it really isn't worth arguing about, though since Blizzard calls 25s 'heroic' and drops better loot I doubt we'll ever see an end to the debate.

    The biggest challenge in 10s is you are more likely to lack key buffs and group synergies. For example, back in December several of our healers were worried about mana issues they were having in their first pug 10 run. Turns out no one had replenishment. In our fully buffed 25m guild runs they had no mana issues.

    As for reducing the hp on the drakes in 10s, I'd also like to see an increase to hp and / or the damage output in 25m to increase the challenge. This would hold true for a number of 25m bosses as well. I for one was looking to 25s to be 'heroic' because of difficulty, not in dealing with lag and logistics.

  27. I'm a Resto shaman in a guild with 3x Undying and 1x Immortal. The only thing real drama we had on our Immortal run was a DK disconnecting in the middle of Thaddius about 10 seconds before polarity shift. We immediately had a priest Guardian Spirit him and moved the boss to the right side of the platform and prayed to God he wouldn't die. Luckily for us, he retained the same polarity charge of the side he was on originally and disappeared before the next polarity charge.

    Being one of the top-end raiding guilds on the server, you were sat if you fucked up. There are always 2-3 other players in your role sitting out and were ready to replace you on a moment's notice. This makes almost every run we do a near Immortal.

    -Popsiclestix, Horde Frostwolf