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The Raiding Pinnacle: Envy

Article originally posted on Manaflask

Although they have always been a hardcore progress guild, Envy really came to everyone's attention during Firelands when they snagged the No.3 spot at the end of the race. It's not like they completely came out of nowhere since they were 18th in Tier 11 progress, but that is quite a jump and took plenty of people by surprise. They seem to have confirmed their top guuild status in Dragon Soul, for the moment at least, having downed the first 4 bosses faster than any other guild. So let's take a look at what exactly they're all about.

Introductions!

Envy was formed 2009-11-18, as the result of a merge of players that wanted to raid at the highest level.
We are a hardcore international European World of Warcraft guild located on Auchindoun.

I'm Duskbringer or Duskie, priest and officer of Envy. I started playing during Vanilla on Burning Legion, and
eventually ended up in Envy during Wotlk, when The Legacy disbanded, and a few players from there joined Envy.


Now that that's out of the way, let's address your sudden rise to prominence in Firelands.

What changed during Firelands that you managed to suddenly break through into the top 3 world guilds from your previous top 20 position?

I'm not sure anything really changed, at least from the guild-management point of view, we have a solid team, and we did the 'same old' approach with maximum PTR, minimizing mistakes, and the vast majority of our team delivered by taking time off for progress, which we require. Personally I had a nice motivator in trying to beat former Envy members who joined Ensidia, and that kept me going until Ragnaros was dead.


Was it as much of a surprise to you as to some of the people following the race, or was it a steady climb and you expected a high finish in the race?

It felt like we had a solid roster going into the progress, and I was personally hoping that we could manage something like top 5-8, but I'm always a skeptical bastard. In hindsight, I think all our kills before Rag were between world 5th and 15th, so we knew that we were doing ok throughout the instance. As for surprise, yes, I think it's a surprise we finished 3rd if I look at it before the race started, we had a lot of guilds to beat. At the same time, being there on Rag for some odd 400 pulls, it's not a surprise when he dies.


If you could pick one thing that gave you that final push into the top 3, what would it be?

Dedication from the team, we worked very hard to do it, and people made sacrifices to be in the raids.


How did it feel, downing Ragnaros third worldwide, and did the nerd screams wake up everyone's neighbours?

It was an utterly amazing feeling. I don't know how to compare it to anything else I've experienced in a game, and I'm quite sure we woke up a few neighbors across Europe. It's just a huge adrenaline rush, and for me personally a huge relief, all the hard work and effort channeled into a few seconds of pure bliss. Except for some of us who screamed profanities about butts, but that's ok.

Your guild is composed of players from many different countries. Does this ever become a problem, in regards to communication, or even cultural differences? Do you think the single-country guilds like Paragon or For the Horde have an advantage because of that?

It's never a problem since we are all speaking English, but to clarify, we have people from all across Europe, an American and a gringo from Mexico. For me this is just a great mix of people, and never a drawback. For the most part the cultural differences make up for a lot of humorous angles to use when people fail, as in racial slurs and other types of country-bashing! And to be honest, if you don't understand English, you won't be in the guild at all. The only advantage I see for those guilds you mentioned is that they can meet face to face easier, if they wanted to, and possibly bond more outside the game than for example me living in Sweden, and an Italian member. I do think the team, and feeling that you are a part of it is important, and that's a small advantage for country-based guilds.


What's the funniest whisper you ever got during progress?

I'll have to quote Byu, our GM for this one, and it is from one of our raiders, during Firelands: "Can I go to sleep?".


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

I try to focus on our raid a, but of course I take a quick look at my realID in times of boredom, and see what my friends in other guilds are up to. The info from there is mostly like "Oh they started early/oh they are still playing". It doesn't influence us at all, we raid as long as we are able to, and we don't sit up 2 hours extra with a completely exhausted raid because some other guild is. I check wowprogress to see how the Americans are doing, but that’s about it.


Time investment in raiding. Do you think it's basically a necessity to be able to raid almost all day every day now, in order to be competitive in the World First race? What are your thoughts on that?

In the current state of high-end raiding, you need to put in a lot of time to be competitive. During Firelands for us this meant everyone taking 3 days off work/school/whatever they are doing for the first week of heroics, and after that we try to raid as much as possible, meaning we check with our players when they can start the next day. I personally dislike it a lot, because I have a lot of RL commitments, but I try to be here as much as I can.
It affects a lot of the team, probably everyone has made sacrifices to be there, but at the same time defaults us into a mode where we want to make as much with the time at hand, you want results on the time invested, hence you play better. And adding the preparations in terms of gearing up suitable alts, finishing x amount of legendaries etc, takes up a lot of time as well, it's just not the actual few weeks of progress that counts.
Firelands was ok for us, considering there was no Christmas/new year’s where we were not able to raid Sinestra for example. Dragon Soul will be similar for us, one can only hope it ends before Christmas!


How did you feel about the Firelands progress length? How did it impact the guild and what would you change about it?

I think it was decent, 3-4 resets is ok, not a total pushover, and not lasting forever.

How would you say Firelands rated vs. tier 11 in terms of difficulty and in general compared to previous raids (with Ragnaros in mind in particular)?

Well Firelands was only hard because of Ragnaros, the rest didn't even last a day, but I still have to rate Firelands the hardest instance so far, but that's because it had a huge challenge in Ragnaros, whereas tier 11 had at least more than one boss that poses some threat to the raids. Nefarian and Al'Akir for example were pretty stiff.

Exploits. Now, no one wants to talk about this, but what are your thoughts on this matter, especially regarding the recent LFR bans?

I think there wouldn't be any exploits if Blizzard was consistent about how to punish it. If you know every time you try something obviously broken and completely retarded in a raid, you have a chance to miss 8 days of progress that you so carefully planned and took vacation for, I'm sure it would render a greater thought process before going guns blazing and abuse stuff to the max. I also think if Blizzard communicated with the top guilds, and made them more a part of developing the game, that they actually might do it. Imagine something like a stable ptr, with a schedule that isn't made 2 hours ahead of time for testing at 04:45 on a Monday morning, perhaps even a separate server where a select few are invited to test stuff, and having direct communication with the developers would be something. Or perhaps having developers watching/communicating with certain raidleaders during progress, would be something. So my two main concerns would be consistency and communication on Blizzard's part.


Class balance and class stacking - one of the more controversial issues of this expansion so far, considering alts are now a must-have to be competitive in the top raiding scene, what are your thoughts on that?

Some class will always be better on a specific job, it's the nature of a game with so many mechanics as the different classes offer, and it's a must, not only to have the option for different raid-comps, but nowadays you need a handful of alts to help gearing up other select individuals during normal modes and LFR and so on. I think we're going to step up a bit on playing alts, we do have a lot of them already, but it seems more is always
useful. I personally don't like it/enjoy alts, but we need to do it regardless.


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

I like current system, the normal mode one week-> heroic mode the next, I just wish it was clearly announced a bit in advance, not some vague "season will end", and that usually means patch, but who knows, communication again subpar. We've seen limited attempts, we've seen gating, I like this the most, even if I have to use vacation-days to be able to compete at the higher levels.


PTR testing of new raid instances.

Do you hate it as much as other guilds?


I don't hate the PTR as such, I think it’s a genuinely good thing for the game. It’s the uncertainty around it that makes it s****y. I hate it because its announced 15 mins before testing, I hate it because its announced, and then cancelled, I hate it because it's at 04:45 on a Monday morning and so on. I wish they would fix this somehow, even if I realize s***t can break and so can schedules, but at the end of the day, it’s really frustrating to help blizzard and the game develop when the testing is so fubar to begin with.


Do you think that it really is neccessary, could Blizzard test the stuff internally well enough if they tried properly?
Yes, I don't think the Blizzard personnel will try to break and abuse their own product as good as the players will =) .


How much of an impact is it (for you) on the real progression race when it starts?

We go there, do few pulls, do some basic strategy checks and look at some numbers, it does some good for us, we see it as an extra training-session, and I guess any chance to see a new encounter is beneficial.

Favorites!

- Raid instances
Sunwell , Firelands
- Boss encounters
M'uru & Ragnaros
- Expansion
TBC
- Tier set design(s)
They all look the same in shadowform, so I'm quite indifferent to this question =)
- New Features (like the PvP system, or flying mounts, or 25 man raids, anything really)
Mass summon/ress are pretty neat.
- 5 man dungeons
I'll go with the TBC level 70 heroic ones, they were pretty challenging in green/blue gear.
- Class
Guess I'll have to go with Priest.
- Game(s) aside from WoW
Diablo 3, soon!


Do many/any of your members PvP and is it a part of the guild itself? What about Rated BGs, do you fix guild groups and go own it up?

We did quite a lot of PvP the first season of RBG's, mostly with achievement-whores during farm-mode, some of us play arena on multiple characters, but for the most part It’s PvE for us.


Dragon Soul

You've had a good look at the new bosses in 4.3, what are your overall thoughts on them?

Some interesting mechanics, from the first 6 bosses, however the final 2 are pretty sad in terms of how they play, I'm sure they'll be hard as ever, but the design is just poor. I absolutely dislike the Spine encounter, Madness might be slightly better but it's a close call on the two worst encounters I’ve seen so far in this game. Maybe I’ll think otherwise after we've killed them.


Which one was your favorite and which one do you think is best designed?
Hagara was the most interesting one, at least in the PTR stage.


Do you think this will be the right amount of bosses for progress?

The amount of bosses doesn't matter, as long as they are somewhat difficult.


How do you expect to do in the progress race?

We hope to catch up and punish the unbanned guilds, and we always try to improve our ranking.


Casuals and Hard-corers (it's a word), do you think Blizzard are doing a good job of catering to both?

It's mostly catered for casuals at the moment, but as long as they keep providing raiding challenges, I guess they are keeping both ends happy.


In closing, do you think we're headed in the right direction in top-end raiding, on Blizzard's side and on the guild's side? (I'm referring mostly to the long hours and alts etc required now as top end guilds).

People can choose how much effort and dedication they want to put in the game, I think that's a significant factor of the term "hardcore", and in that I think it's fine. I do wish to stress the point of communication with the top guilds yet again, if they want to make a better game, it's time to incorporate them.