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The Raiding Pinnacle: Ascendance

Article originally posted on Manaflask

The latest guild we're taking an in-depth look at in our Raiding Pinnacle series is one of the rare hardcore progression guilds that also takes it relatively easy. They raid only 4 hours during the week and 5 over the weekends and managed to secure the world No.7 spot as well as the EU 5th in Highmaul, despite the crazy competition both from newly formed or returning guilds for Mythic, as well as the return of Asian guilds. We talked to Astur (tank), Cherdin (GM, healer), Pacer (healer), Pattisan (RL, DPS) and Pipex (DPS) from the mostly UK and Scandinavian guild.


 

Introductions:

Astur: Raider - Protection Paladin. I’m 21 and a Maths Student living in London. I’m vocal as a tank and assist with developing tactics.

Cherdin: GM - Healing Officer - Healing Priest - I handle the normal GM task of chairing officer meetings and am responsible for everything to do with healing. I am a 28 year old Computer Scientist from Sweden.

Pacer: Raider - Holy Paladin - I main a holy paladin and my nickname in the guild is “God”. I’m a 22 year old Dane and I work as a vfx artist.

Pattisan: Raid leader and melee officer - Windwalker. I’m 24 and from Manchester, England. I joined the guild at the start of MoP and became the raid leader shortly after. In game I make sure everyone knows what they are doing during the fight and looking for ways in which we can improve our strategy. Outside of raiding I work full time in Tech Support with Pipex.

Pipex: Ranged officer - Balance Druid. I am 25 and live in Bristol, UK. I make sure the casters in the guild know what they are doing during raids and help out with the general running and organisation of the guild. In the “real world” I am Head of Infrastructure for a cloud based software company working alongside Patt.
 

Tell us a little about the guild today and its history.

Cherdin: Ascendance was founded back in Vanilla, and we still retain at least one raiding member from back then, and Ascendance has been raiding and clearing all content since then with the only notable exception of Naxx 40 where our guild master at the time emptied the guild bank of crystals and transferred to a different guild. I personally joined Ascendance back in tier 11, joined the officer ranks during tier 12, and became the guild master during tier 14. But as far as most of our audience is concerned we started raiding seriously in tier 14, during which we mass-recruited and burned through raiders like a wildfire. After tier 14, which we ended at a “reasonable” world ranking we could start focusing more on quality over quantity and our current world ranking is the result of this continued roster refinement.

Pipex: The guild was created in July 2006 and has been through a variety of guild masters since. I have been in the guild for almost 5 years. During progression on the Lich King the guild started dying out and I was an officer in another guild so we decided to merge, from that day forward we were hungry for better world ranks and a tighter, more cohesive raiding unit.

Astur: The guild itself has been around since Classic, my co-tank has been in the guild almost since it’s creation, however I joined during tier 14 farm. Since then the guild has become more professional, with more emphasis being put on preparation. However, the general atmosphere hasn’t changed. If anything, I’ve really only noticed an increase in familiarity as time has gone by.

Pacer: I joined Ascendance in tier 15 when the guild was on a transition from being a quantity over quality guild to a quality over quantity guild. Back then we would almost never fail trials, we extended raid times a lot more and day raided during Sundays. For tier 16 we had a change in officers and their policies which is what makes us so good today.
 

Your Wowprog page says you raid around 4 hours a day during the week and 5 on weekends, making your placement all the more impressive, did you stick to that generally in Highmaul?

Pattisan: We raid the hours we state in our Wowprogress description, which seems a rare occurrence these days. This tier we only over raided three times up to one hour each, we simply can’t raid more than we do due to the large majority of the guild having a full time job or being in education. We currently don’t enforce that raiders have to do any beta raids outside of raid hours.


Attention to detail

You started hardcore progress raiding back in tier 14 and this is your second top 10 placement. With the arrival of Mythic and a huge increase in competition you actually jumped a spot and claimed the No.7 placement as well as EU 5th. What did you do differently in this tier to prepare and set up your roster for such a significant improvement?

Pattisan: The large majority of our change was back in T15, we changed the mindset in which we looked at the game. We wanted to be the best night time raiding guild in the world. As officers we plan everything, we have probably made close to 100 spreadsheets over the last couple of tiers. In terms of this tier we had a smaller roster than ever before, we only used 22 raiders, which meant we could really focus our gearing.

Astur: I don’t think that we did much differently between SoO and Highmaul. We did 3 normal/heroic runs with alts - which seemed to be fewer split raids than most of our close rivals. However, I think the main reason we did so well is the amount of effort the officers put in behind the scenes, pre-planning every fight meticulously. We always have a clear strategy going into a boss with a lot of the basic groundwork pre-determined. I think that we gain a lot of time with the level of preparation that does go in.

Pipex: As soon as mythic was announced we knew we had some players in the current roster that just were not up to the standard of the rest of the guild so we decided to let them go very early on. From here we were extremely picky on the recruits we even tried out, we took only the best. I am confident in saying each raider right now is one of the best in the world at their role/class.

Pacer: I have to admit I was surprised that we gotten a top 10 rank this time around. I would have to attribute our rank more to the fact that some guilds under-performed compared to what we expected them to in Highmaul, than us improving a lot from tier 16. On the flip-side, maybe we suck less than we thought.
 

When a kill video is released before you've had a chance to get the boss down yourself, do you watch the video to keep competitive with everyone else that's presumably watched it or do you continue on with your tactics and ignore it? How do you feel about guilds releasing videos on difficult bosses before, say, a top 5 or even top 10?

Cherdin: We take every advantage we can, we do not raid as much as most other guilds at our ranking do, so we need to make up for the loss in time with better tactics / play. When the Paragon kill video was released we were watching it immediately and the same applies to all other top guilds’ videos. As for the second half of your question, I personally think the earlier the better since I think we gain more than other guilds from it due to our analytic capabilities.

Pacer: We always watch the videos and adjust if we think the strategy will help us kill the boss faster. On Mar’gok for example Paragon clearly had a better strategy than us with their 3 tanks but we were already so close to a kill that we thought using one more tank would cause more harm than help us.

Pattisan: The ‘five guilds rule’ has become an agreement in the West (since Ra-den) and I think that is a suitable number. We always check the videos as there is no reason not to. We generally just stick to our own strategy and use the videos as more of an information grab. Some fights you see the video and it kind of spoils the strategy. For example on Tectus we had no real plan to kill all 8 motes at once.

Pipex: Personally I would love it if guilds waited for top 10 or even 15 to kill the boss as it makes progression so much more enjoyable knowing that the tactic you designed made you defeat each boss.
 

What is it your guild does differently from others that makes it special?

Pipex: This guild excels in preparation and organisation. We put in huge amounts of time outside of raids to make sure each aspect of every encounter is covered before the raid starts. I think that this shows in the number of attempts we take to kill each boss, we believe we are very efficient. For example, here are our total number of wipes for each boss in Highmaul:

Kargath Bladefist - 0
Twin Ogron - 1
Brackenspore - 32
Tectus - 18
Ko'ragh - 43
Butcher - 26
Imperator Mar’gok - 123

Cherdin: I would like to say that we maintain very drama-free and professional raids, which means that our players always knows who is doing what and can therefore focus on their own responsibilities.

Astur: I think the one thing that stands out in the guild is that we have a very stable core, which means that we are as much a group of like-minded friends as we are a raiding guild. I don’t think we have any special ingredient - we’ve just spent a lot of time talking with one another inside and outside the game and have a really positive atmosphere.

Pattisan: We have a great atmosphere in the guild, we are predominantly a UK/Scandinavian guild so there is a lot of banter. Most of that will relate in some way to how Falihax is an old man though. The best jokes never get old, unlike him.
 

To what extent do you monitor what other guilds are doing and does it influence you?

Cherdin: We maintain spies / diplomats in all top guilds that regularly report to us if there is anything out of the ordinary we should / shouldn't steal and adopt ourselves.

Pacer: We keep track of everything from raid comps to strategies. 9/10 times it helps us in a good way, but last tier it backfired on Siegecrafter, after copying Methods tactic, which in hindsight was a bad way of doing the boss. Since then, we have decided to tailor our strategies to our own raid comp rather than trying to emulate what other guilds have done. In Highmaul we knew how many healers were viable to use for all of the bosses except for Mar’gok before even pulling them thanks to wowprogress.

Pattisan: Personally I find that looking at how other guilds are doing during the progress race has a huge negative impact on me. I hate coming home on that first day after work and seeing that half the instance or more has already been killed before we’ve even started. We also never really know how well we are doing until we get to the last couple of bosses, for example this tier we were 65th after the first day, compared to the 3rd day after Butcher where we were 5th.

Astur: We know almost as soon as another guild kills a boss. In a PvE environment, you can only compare yourself against other players, so inevitably we track how well our competitors are doing. As much as we pay attention to other guilds, whatever they’re doing does not affect us when it comes down to killing the boss in front of us. I think we thrive off the competition and just use it as an extra incentive to concentrate on what we’re doing and play as well as we can. We’ll get the rank we deserve at the end of the tier so it doesn’t really matter what anybody else is doing.

How would you rate the difficulty and design of the instance overall, compared to previous raids in WoW?

Astur: I think Highmaul is designed really well. Highmaul feels like an Ogre city, admittedly it does have some rather questionable denizens - most noticeably the big rock in the Market District, but even then it feels like you are raiding this solitary remainder of the Gorian Empire. It feels more purposeful than the disjointed wings of SoO. I don’t really know what we can compare the Instance to difficulty wise, looking at Mar’gok specifically there was little RNG in the fight, so you would expect there to be fewer pulls for the boss than Lei Shen (transitions), but the boss is more complex than Garrosh. I guess I would put it somewhere between the two.

Pacer: The design of the raid was definitely above average and the way the difficulty of the bosses ramped up was perfect, this is how SoO should have been. The raid itself however was too easy in my opinion, had Blizzard not filled the game with BoE epics, Highmaul would have been much harder. When you enter a raid with 10 ilvl 665/670 items that you bought on AH or crafted yourself, like we did in Ascendance, it is just too easy.

Cherdin: It was very easy, the only boss really worth mentioning was Imperator Mar'gok. Design was interesting, but unfortunately the tuning made most of the interesting mechanics not matter too much.

Pattisan: Most of the bosses were pretty easy and some were heavily nerfed compared to what they were on the beta, which is pretty normal. I think the overall instance was pretty good for a first tier instance, it was definitely better than MSV in MoP.
 

How would you improve on the overall raid design that is currently in place?

Pattisan: The main issue with the current raiding scene is split runs, it creates a situation for which Blizzard can’t correctly balance the raid tier. If they make the bosses harder then those guilds who can’t split run simply will be blocked by gear. If they somehow manage to fix split runs I believe it would be great for the competitive scene as we could see much longer progress races which are more about skill rather than how many split runs you’ve done.

Cherdin: Just tune up the damage and health of everything by 200%. What could possibly go wrong?
 

What was your favorite boss in the instance, which was the most fun and which do you think was the best designed one (and with better tuning could have been really great)?

Pipex: I am maybe the only person who thinks this but The Butcher was my favourite encounter. Ascendance really shines at any dps check, all of our dps players are pulling out numbers that the best players in their class are doing. This was really seen when The Butcher only took us 26 attempts to defeat. I do wish the encounter didn’t have the “water” tactic available because the fight is so much more enjoyable when you have all of your ranged soaking the Cadavers while trying to maximise their dps.

Cherdin: With present tuning the only real answer to best is Imperator Mar'gok since the rest kind of just fell over after we poked it with a stick a few times. I think Tectus could have been interesting if it had not been viable to just zerg the motes down in the final phase.

Pacer: Mar’gok is my favourite boss in Highmaul, although I wish his last phase would have been a lot longer and some of the other phases cut.

Astur: I think my favourite boss in the instance has to be Mar’gok due to how much I had to do throughout the fight. Phase 2 was the only phase in which I seemed to get any respite, I felt like I was playing to my character’s limits throughout the rest of the fight. I think Ko’ragh was probably the most well-rounded fight in the instance though. He has several different repeating mechanics and gets gradually more difficult throughout the fight. Ko’ragh would be a more-than-worthy penultimate boss in the instance.

What do you think of the raid overall, as a complete package? Where would you rank it in Wow's history?

Astur: I really enjoyed Highmaul, I hope it’s a good sign of things to come. Having only started hardcore raiding in MoP I can’t rank it against anything but for me ToT > Highmaul > SoO. I think if Highmaul were as long as ToT then they would be very close, but as it’s only half a tier I think ToT edges it.

Pattisan: I think it’s only fair to rank it against other starter instances as you can’t really compare it to something like ToT/ICC. It was probably the best starting instance to date and when BRF comes out, I think this will be a great raiding tier.

Pacer: Worse than ToT, SoO, Ulduar and ICC, better than most (all?) other raids.

Cherdin: At its current difficulty I would have to put it somewhere in the middle, had the encounters been harder it would probably be pretty high up.
 

What was the most ridiculous/funny/stupid tactic that you tried in the entire instance?

Pacer: One of Astur’s many trash tactics that always resulted in us failing/dying and spending twice as long on the trash.

Pattisan: Wasn’t necessarily a tactic, but I love doing “dry runs” of our tactics. For example for phase two and phase four on Mar’gok I make the whole raid effectively do the fight without pulling the boss. We’ve had some great success with it, especially for the last phase of Garrosh, we even used Zen Sphere to represent malice in a weak aura.

Astur: I don’t think we tried anything outrageous during progress. However during the last phase of Tectus we were having issues with people kiting Barrage everywhere in the room, so I suggested that we either BoP players who get Barrage, so they just stand still and suicide to it. Obviously it didn’t make me very popular with the ranged, however, we killed the boss in the next try, so I like to think it was rather effective.
 

Any specific complaints about mechanics of a certain boss or anything else in the raid itself?

Pacer: Kargath fixate being buggy, not being able to see anything on Tectus due to the walls, Brackenspore waves appearing on your screen when they are 20 yards away rather than when they spawn, mushrooms not being on your raid frames and the whole physical vs. magical dps on Ko’ragh.

Pipex: The only real complaints for me were on Imperator Mar'gok where the Mark of Chaos was so much easier with a warrior or monk due to the gap closers, we run with Death Knight and Paladin main tanks so this made it slightly harder. It was also a little annoying seeing the amount of damage that enhancement shamans could do to the adds which was unmatched by any class in the game. So much for “bring the player, not the class”.

Pattisan: They made Twins way too easy from what it was on Beta, and I don’t really see good reasoning for it. A lot of the mechanics can be relatively ignored. Would have loved if they kept in the ability to kill one before the other, which would have made it much more interesting.

Astur: From a tanking perspective the mechanics are all very good. The main issue while tanking is boss positioning. Blizzard changed the bosses to be more responsive to tanks moving, which sounds good until you occasionally have bosses run through you as you get them in the right place.


Clearly the most difficult boss of the instance, take us through your attempts on him - the weird strategies, which phases gave you the most trouble etc.

Astur: We spent the majority of our time in the second intermission and then phase three. During the Second intermission the Reaver deciding to knock the tank back when he felt like it on a try-per-try basis (which he still does) did not help at all. Phase three was the hardest part of the fight in my opinion, there is a lot of damage going out, as well as a lot of the space being taken away from the raid as more and more traps spawn. We had to use a gateway for the Mark of Chaos, as we were running Blood DK and Prot Paladin, which didn’t help, but also didn’t hinder us too much looking back.

Cherdin: Phase three was by far the hardest for us, not only did we initially have the wrong single target and area of effect dps balance. We also had a lot of trouble with tank deaths towards the end of the phase.

Pacer: Dealing with wrath and tank deaths were the only issues we had early on, otherwise it was just about practice and the boss eventually died. He only took us about 125 wipes, which is the lowest amount any end boss has required since I joined Ascendance.

Pipex: Attempts on him went really well, the only real problem for us was time. This boss just required a lot of attempts as it's not exactly difficult but it's more the fact that if you lose one person before phase three you may as well start all over. The hardest part for us was the transition between the 2nd intermission and phase three. With the gear we were in, phase three started with the last mage dying about the same time which left us with the reaver still up to kill and a bunch of Volatile Anomalies.


The fight seems very intense in its final stages, especially with the added extra Mythic mechanics - just how difficult was it, both from a strategic and a personal-skill standpoint?

Pacer: Phase three was much harder than phase four, his Mythic only phase. I believe we killed him the second time we got to phase four with everyone alive and it was just a matter of staying calm since we had not seen this phase too many times. Phase three was brutal because you use a lot of raid and tank cds in the intermission, which means you have to get through phase three while using very few cds.

Pattisan: I personally felt the last phase was one of the easier phases, we didn’t really have many issues with it once we had been there a few times and understood how all the abilities worked. The hard part of the fight was definitely getting a clean transition to the last phase.

Astur: I would say that phase four wasn’t that difficult strategically and there wasn’t a lot required from each individual member. I would compare it to Ra-den, where just working out what the abilities are was the harder part of the phase, but even then I think the HPS and DPS requirements were lower. From a tanking point of view, phase three was much more stressful.

Pipex: When I first read the differences between Heroic and Mythic I didn’t think such a thing was possible, two runes at the same time swapping throughout the encounter ?!?! When we actually got into it, it didn’t seem that difficult, it just took a lot of brainstorming to work out how to best defeat each aspect of the encounter. The main difficulty was actually the length of the encounter and the fact that the hardest phases were near the end, so wiping late on without learning anything new was fairly tedious, however, saying that I do enjoy the long encounters.
 

Where would you rank him in WoW's endboss pantheon?

Pacer: He is a decent boss but not in the top 5 for sure.

Pattisan: Lich King > Ragnaros > Lei Shen > Mar’gok > Sha of Fear > Garrosh
It is hard to compare Mar’gok to some of the bosses in previous expansions, especially ones in Wrath and Cata as I think raiding has come a long way since then. But this is just how I remember these bosses from a personal standpoint.

Astur: Just looking at comparing him to MoP end bosses, I would say Lei Shen > Mar’gok > Empress > Sha of Fear > Garrosh. I think Imperator just felt like an attempt at replicating Lei Shen and often the sequel just isn’t as good as the original.
 

What are your thoughts on the BMAH and specifically the server transfer abuses made by some Asian guilds to get a significant item level advantage?

Cherdin: If rankings are to be meaningful then all participants need to operate under the same set of (meaningful) constraints. If one subset of the participants operate under a different set of constraints then they should be split into a different category.

Pipex: I actually find it extremely unfair, the fact that they can walk into a fight like The Butcher with mediocre players and knock it over just because of the sheer item level difference. I really hope this kind of thing does not happen again. Personally I think it needs to be changed somewhat, maybe BMAH mythic items become available after X amount of weeks.

Pacer: I think it is Blizzard’s fault for letting this happen in the first place. I don’t think competitive items should be on the BMAH at all, and if they really have to be, they should not be on the BMAH before their respective raid has been cleared. I just hope that no western guild looks at what some of these Asian guilds did and does the same in the future.

Pattisan: I wish they would just remove it, what it adds is very little, and it adds further RNG to the game. I think everyone would do what the Asian guilds did if they had the ability to. I’m glad that WoW Progress has put a strong stance against it.

Astur: I think the BMAH gear should be gated to the raid instances, if Mythic loot appeared after one reset of Mythic, then that would be perfectly acceptable as a gold sink in my opinion, so that the progress race isn’t affected by it. I think if some Asian guilds are abusing server transfers, then it’s not exactly a fair race any more and unfortunately if it is occurring then we have to look at the Western Guilds separately rather than including them in the same rankings, just as we did in SoO.


 

What did you think of the way the race actually ended up with Paragon coming back on top, after Method being the big favorites to win?

Pattisan: I knew ever since my long time friend Pacteh left Method that they didn’t have much of a chance of competing with Paragon.

Astur: I was surprised that Paragon did so well compared to Method this tier. I expected both of them to be ahead of every other guild, because they have been big names that consistently performed throughout the whole of MoP. The only reason I thought Method had the edge was that Paragon had to increase their roster, as sometimes it takes time to adjust. However I think it is apparent that Paragon are prepared to put in every ounce of effort and they proved that in this instance. I don’t think it’s a guaranteed first for Paragon looking at Blackrock though, Method will be even more determined, but only time will tell.
 

What did your typical progress day look like?

Cherdin: I worked full time during all of progress so I normally get home about two hours before the raid begins, which means that I have time to catch up on any discussion that happened in Skype during the daytime, make and eat food, and then start getting whispers from over eager raiders to create a raid group about 45 minutes before we actually start raiding. After raid, at midnight, there is unfortunately not much time to do anything. tl;dr; work > raid > work > etc.

Pipex: My general day was something like work while speaking to Patt about tactics, work, work > drive home while watching streams in the car > eat while preparing for the raid for one hour > raid for 4 hours > sleep > repeat. I am fairly jealous of the typical schedule for a daytime raider but we never set out to compete with the daytime raiding guilds, we did not think it was possible to even consider getting ranks higher than them.

Pacer: Get online at 18:00 server time, do my Garrison Missions, go afk in front of the raid, join raid at 19:00-19:30. Last person joins raid less than five minutes to raid start (19:45) and then we either pull the boss or trash, depending on how excited the people who joined the raid early was.

Pattisan: Wake up, check WoW Progress - go to work. Talk to Pipex about the bosses while at work and try to finalise some strats the best we can in between our work. Get home around 6 ST, get ready for the raid, make sure I know exactly what we need to do on each boss. Progress hard for about 4 hours, rinse and repeat.
 

What was the class balance like in this tier? Any OP classes or less than useful ones?

Pipex: I thought in general each class was well balanced, however, there were of course some fights where certain specs excelled, for example The Butcher - Arcane Mages were a clear 5k ahead of anyone else or Imperator Mar’gok - Enhance were miles ahead due to add damage. I do agree however that something like an arcane mage should be top of single target.

Pattisan: I definitely think that melee was A LOT better this tier than any previous tiers. I think you could say that some of the fights were melee favoured. Mages and Monks in my opinion were two of the strongest classes this tier. Mages for their insane DPS and decent raid CD. Monks for their insane cleave and personal CDs.

Cherdin: Healing class balance in this tier was overall decent, with discipline priest and holy paladin being on the strong side due to the high tank damage, but most of these issues has been addressed in patch 6.1

Astur: I think class balance was generally ok. Looking at tanks in particular everything was viable and had it’s niches. Prot Paladin dps was too high and Prot Warrior dps too low, then Blood DK and Guardian Druid AoE were too high, but since the recent changes these have generally been fixed. I think Prot Warriors and Prot Paladins feel like they’re lacking something compared to the kit of Monk, DK and Druid tanks, which have all been re-modelled more recently, but there isn’t enough of a gap there to make it a major issue.

Favorites!

- Raid instances

Cherdin: ICC
Pacer: Ulduar > ToT > ICC
Pattisan: My favourite raid instance was ICC, mainly as it was my first proper raid tier.
Astur: Throne of Thunder
Pipex: Ulduar

- Boss encounters

Cherdin: Lich King
Pacer: Lich King > Lei Shen > Ragnaros
Pattisan: I love strategy dependant fights, stuff like Lei Shen and Ragnaros will always be at the top of my list.
Pipex: Lich King
Astur: Lei Shen

- Expansion

Cherdin: Cataclysm
Pacer: This one if they don’t mess up with future patches, otherwise wotlk.
Pattisan: MoP was probably the best raiding expansion we’ve had up until now. Expansion wise I always loved Wrath.
Astur: TBC. Because that is always the right answer even when you didn’t play.
Pipex: Mists of Pandaria

- Tier set design(s)

Cherdin: Paladin T12
Pacer: Warrior T3, Paladin T2 and Priest T5
Pattisan: All the monk ones suck, can we stop with the stupid hats.
Astur: I could write several essays on this, Paladin Hc Tier 11, Hc Tier 12, Hc Tier 16 and Mythic Tier 17 are all really nice though. I cycle my transmog depending on what colour is in fashion at the time.
Pipex: Tier 15, but all of the Druid tier sets are ugly. Why do paladins always look so awesome and nothing else. Need more animated designs in my life.

- New Features

Cherdin: Pet battles
Pacer: Mythic raiding
Pattisan: Flexible raids
Astur: Garrison Missions/Followers
Pipex: Followers, it’s just a shame that with all the work we put in that they actually didn’t help at all during the progression race, at least for me.

- Game(s) aside from WoW

Cherdin: Neverwinter Nights (not the mmo, I am scared of people)
Pacer: Demon’s Souls
Pattisan: I’ll play anything that is competitive, at the moment I’m mainly playing League. My favourite of all time is Counter Strike.
Astur: If I’m not in WoW then I’ll be playing League, more often than not with other players in the guild.
Pipex: Halo 2 is my favourite, mainly because I used to play it semi-professionally. Lockout/Midship MLG ftw!
 

What are your overall thoughts on Warlords of Draenor and what's your favorite/least favorite feature of the new expansion?

Cherdin: Favourite: The unification of (most) healing and dps gear for hybrids, Least favourite: Garrison, or the instance gating which I am in a love/hate relationship with, as it wastes time but also allows us to catch up to guilds that put a lot more hours into the game than us.

Pacer: Great expansion so far, I hope they stick to no flying. The best features by far are things related to gear, both the normalization, removal of hit/expertise and less gems/enchants. Worst features are Garrison Missions (I like Garrisons) and the added randomness in gear, why would you have both random gem slots and warforged gear?

Pattisan: I think Garrisons are fine, but I hate work orders, they were really laborious to do at the start of the expansion. The best feature of the expansion for me is the changes to tier/gear now that they change primary stats. Means playing hybrids is more fun as you switch and change as you need.

Astur: I really like the idea of the Garrison in general. However I really like the Follower system, so that has to be my favourite new feature by far.
I think the profession gating is my least favourite part of the expansion, simply because if you gate the professions behind time, it becomes a case of how many alts you need to do professions on to get the required gear in time for the raid releases.

Pipex: I think its been a fantastic expansion so far. The annoying thing about WoW for me is there is nothing really interesting for a hardcore raider outside of … raiding, so after each instance I find myself twiddling my thumbs for 12 months as Blizzard take an eternity to release new tiers. I am actually really surprised so many of the guild stuck around for the continuous farm during SoO!
 

What do you think of the progress the game has made since it came out, what were some of the crucial moments in WoW history for you and how did they change the game?

Astur: Being a ‘Cata-baby’ myself, I don’t really have 10 years of experience, however I think the Flex technology is brilliant for the Friends-and-Family Guilds. But the introduction of Mythic and a single raid size for the hardest raid difficulty in the game appears to have rejuvenated the raiding scene and hardcore raiding seems to be really healthy. I hope it just continues like this.

Pattisan: The most important change in WoW for raiding was Ulduar when they did the hard modes. That showed that a lot of people wanted harder content, that was the real birth of hardcore raiding.

Cherdin: The most impactful moment in WoW history was no doubt when they announced Pet Battles as a feature in Mists of Pandaria.
 

In closing, do you think we're headed in the right direction in top-end raiding, on Blizzard's side and on the guilds' side?

Pattisan: For our guild the only thing that worries me is how many guilds are day raiding. It is really hard for us to compete against day raiding guilds. It isn’t such an issue in longer instances, but Blizzard seem to enjoy the smaller but more instances system. Which I can appreciate as a player, but as a night time raider, it really puts a lot of stress on us.

Pacer: The introduction of Mythic raiding has been great for the raiding community and Blizzard continues doing a great job on the game. In terms of the guild I think our previous and current world rank speaks for itself and hopefully we will continue in that direction.

Pipex: Personally I would like progression to last a lot longer than it does for the top end raiding guilds, for me taking 12 months to prepare for any tier to have the tier be cleared on mythic within two weeks is quite disheartening. I would like there to be at least gear checks along the way to which I cannot recall any from recent tiers that stop you progressing for the entire reset.

Astur: I enjoy playing my alts, but I feel like split raids are the only problem with top-end raiding right now. With that being said, I don’t believe there is an obvious solution, so it may be a necessary evil we have to put up with. I think generally each raid tier is an improvement on the last, so as long as Blizzard keep making fun raid tiers, I don’t see any reason why the game can’t carry on for another 5 years, or even 10 years.

Cherdin: Hard to tell without seeing Blackrock Foundry since Highmaul was, to my understanding, intended as an introductory raid and felt like one. Blackrock Foundry will be the real test on whether Blizzard can still deliver hard raiding instances.