Toldain Talks

Because reading me sure beats working!


Toldain started as an Everquest character. I've played him in EQ2, WoW, Vanguard, LOTRO, and Zork Online. And then EVE Online, where I'm 3 million years old, rather than my usual 3000. Currently I'm mostly playing DDO. But I still have fabulous red hair. In RL, I am a software developer who has worked on networked games, but not MMORPGS.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Sunday Pickup

I went on a raid Sunday. It was what I like to call an adventure. I'm not going to name names, though. This isn't eq2flames. More on that later.

Anyway, a guildie of mine sent me a tell, "interested in coming to MMIS if there's an opening?"
"sure" I sent back, and went on my way over to Kunark, thinking that it would be a while before anything opened up. But no, I get the call about the time I get to Teren's Grasp for a turnin I had to do. That's good, right?

I called back to Qeynos and began the long trek to Mistmoore Castle. I'm told I'll get a CotH once I'm in the castle. I know the way, so it doesn't take TOO long. I join the raid and once I start zoning to MC, I windowed out to join the raid Ventrilo channel. Of course, Murphy was watching over me and decreed that, in accordance with His Law, right now would be a good time for me to get booted to character select.

So, there is a brief scramble to get back online, get the CotH, get into the zone, get on the vent channel. I'm in the instance, and most of the raid is at the door. This seems odd. I'm sure they just killed a named. Oh well. I proceed to follow them through trash mobs. Things are going pretty well, it seems, but their vent channel sure is quiet. Nobody seems to talk on it at all.

I window out again and check. Ooops, they have a raid sub-channel, which I haven't joined. Problem fixed. The scout in my group who gets a third arm to attack with loves me. I'm parsing higher than I've ever parsed before in a group, making the top 6 or so, so that's making me happy too. It must be the troubador in my group, I'm thinking.

Then we get to the man himself, Mayong Mistmoore. The first time we go at him, we get him to about 48 percent health, and then things go to Innothule. Mayong is very tough, with several special abilities that are meant to ruin your day. For starters, he has a point-blank ae hit, and a pbae stun that go off at intervals between roughly 40 and 80 seconds. Then he has a huge power drain that can be thrown on anyone in the raid, and I don't think it can be outranged. Finally, he spawns heroic adds pretty rapidly, perhaps once a minute.

So what usually happens is that an offtank and some dps are assigned to burn down the adds, but eventually they run out of power and then the dps doesn't have enough pop to burn through the adds fast enough, the healers get overwhelmed, and the raid wipes faster than you can say "I hate vampires". Which is what happens to us.

The power drain can be wiped off with an arcane cure or potion, but it's not always easy to notice that it's been put on you. Until you are out of power, that is.

Now some other issues begin to kick in. Mayong can be found in a large room on the front of a oval shaped landing at the top of a broad staircase. That oval landing contains a coffin as well, I presume it's his, the bloodsucking scum. The raid leaders wanted to fight him on level ground so they led us up the side of the staircase, hugging the wall. After the first wipe, the healers and necro begin reviving the raid in place, because the trash respawns and clearing it again would be kind of a pain.

So we are in a large semicircle around Mayong, at the edges of the landing. It's dark, and I for one haven't quite figured out where Mayong is in relation to me. We're standing around while the raid leadership is digging through the logs, trying to figure out how to time his pbae attack, and someone (not me, by the grace of Marr!) wanders a bit too close to Mayong, who then proceeds to kill everyone in the raid.

As an aside, not all mobs in EQ2 do this. Often they will aggro one person, kill them, and then reset if no one else has done anything to get on their hate list. But generally raid mobs are a lot nastier.

We have three attempts, the third is very close to success when it falls apart. It appears that Mayong heals 2.5 percent every time he kills one of us. A heated discussion breaks out about whether the necromancer should be jousting in so close to throw his big ae. The raid leaders are showing their frustration in the form of exasperation. The necro feels like he's being scapegoated and pushes back. We revive at the entrance and work our way back. This time, on the way up the stairs, Mayong aggros and kills the raid again. When we revive at the entrance, there is some confused running around, aggroing a bunch of the trash, and people are getting killed when they revive at the revive point.

Many mobs in the zone will charm folks and set them to beating on fellow raiders. This happened to me once, though I don't think I did much damage, since I didn't cast any spells, just slapped my target around a little. This time, I mez a fellow raider who has been charmed, and he snaps out of the charm quickly.

The raid is called. I revive and try to click the door out, but there is a mob in the way, and I end up meleeing him. Somehow, I don't pull aggro and manage to click the door to leave. I breathe a sigh of relief, but too soon. When I reappear in Mistmoore Castle, outside the instance, one of the mobs there aggros me and downs me in one or two shots. This is the point where I begin to laugh hysterically. "The good thing about having your gear damaged down to zero" I post in my guilds chat channel, "is that when you get killed again, it doesn't cost you any plat."

That was the last death for me on the raid.

The thing that I remind myself of, and the reason I'm not posting any names is that this is basically normal behavior. I practice and teach martial arts in real life, and addressing this sort of thing is a core part of the curriculum. The group was clearly competent, and knew their business. It is normal for a human being to have a single failure trigger a cascade of failures. How many times have we seen that Olympic skater who misses one jump by a little and then has the rest of the routine fall apart? I've personally experienced this kind of failure cascade. Reducing or eliminating it takes a concerted effort over a long period of time, and/or leadership that understands the dynamic and can act to interrupt it. But these aren't normal qualities, they are quite exceptional.

Napolean said "in battle the mental is to the physical as three is to one" Well, he didn't quite say it like that, it was in French for one thing. But the meaning is the same.

The lesson for me is that a raid leader must manage the mood of the raid, not just the tactics. So I consider it a Sunday well spent.


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