Disclaimer: This is not for excuses. Method beat us handily by out playing us and out preparing us. This is simply to explain what was happening behind the scenes for those wondering.
Now that Jaina is finally dead for both of our guilds, Limit's curtain is pulled back. Streams are back on. What a lot of people are now wondering whether from curiosity or desire for schadenfreude, how did Limit get beaten by an entire reset?
From the top
16 HOURS OMEGALUL
We started the raid well, and got off to a start that had many stating that it was our race to lose (raid was easy though, we did not think it was in the bag from day one at all of course). The first 8 bosses, as many others have observed or stated, were incredibly under tuned. This allowed us to brute force many of the bosses. Historically our strategies have been quite on point, however in this raid many of them look messy or were clearly not the best (e.g. Rastakhan and Blockade), and yet we still secured the first kill on each. For example, Big Dumb Guild’s Rastakhan strategy is perfect, it is outstanding, and should be copied by all. We had the first kill on the boss, but it can be simply attributed to “just play well”. Instead of having a deep understanding of the dread reaping spawners (aka “balls”), we sent all melee down to the death realm and our fantastic resto shaman Maevy solo heal it. This is definitely not as reproducible as sending ranged that can just plant and handily push Bwonsamdi without even needing to move using BDG’s more thoughtful strategy.
Similarly on Blockade, while we did secure the first kill, we took 80 attempts. It must be said that since guilds are now killing the boss in 5-10 attempts for the first time I’m not sure it would be the same if they had to come up with their own strategy, but clearly in the end the other strategies presented for that boss were better than ours. After all, one thing is clear: Battle of Dazralor was a 1 boss raid. Everything else was woefully undertuned. The classic response to that statement would be that Blizzard doesn’t tune bosses for the top 0.1%, and that we go overboard on gearing and preparation so of course it should be that way. However, we killed Blockade with an average item level of 400.7. The very same week Method had conquered Jaina with 406 item level. The lowest publicly logged kills of Mythic Mekkatorque and Mythic Blockade are above 402. This is not meant to brag, but rather just to refute the ever present argument regarding tuning. You should not be able to kill a 2nd and 3rd last bosses as sloppy as we did with an average item level equaling heroic gear. These bosses have typically required good execution, and so called “perfect pulls”. Every boss aside from Jaina is extremely forgiving and has low health.
Arriving at Jaina
We were very excited to have killed Blockade before Method had gotten past Mekkatorque. We were confident, riding high, and started work on Jaina. Initially Jaina barely hurt the tanks, and also moved so sporadically as to be detrimental (not moving at all when the tank was standing out of range for 6+ seconds, or randomly moving across the boat on the pull). Both of these were fixed on Thursday and Friday respectively. We found out later her tank damage was actually not working properly and was bugged, and a fix made that aspect much harder (we initially thought it was just a buff, not a bug fix).
We worked mostly on getting the first intermission clean. We tried many strategies, but eventually landed on having our prot paladins skystep potion the left and right sides, interrupt as many of the Images as they could, and then purposely get Frozen Solid in front of Jaina (Ice blocks would block further glacial shards). This was a good strategy starting out, but eventually everyone got better at dodging and intentional ice blocks weren’t needed. What was most valuable from this day is finding that Moonkins could detect the positioning of the boss and images, and allowed us to call a “fast” and “slow” side. Since the boss positioning was random, we did not rely on a left and right side, but rather made it dynamic sending the fastest classes on the side that would have more images every time.
This day we worked on phase 2 mostly. We had gotten the boss to 33% on our best pull before the noteworthy “4 stack” bug that was shown on Method’s stream the next day occurred right after our dinner break. This severely hampered progression for the rest of our day as it did for the first half of Method’s following day. We ended up having the entire raid use Skystep potions to at least make use of our time and practice Phase 2, but even in doing that a perfectly executed intermission would net you 1 more stack than a typical non-bugged intermission.
On this day we broke through the wall, and saw phase 3 a handful of times. Our best pull on the day was 24%, so suffice to say we did not see too far into the phase. We tried killing the Tide Elemental, but here we figured that it was best to ignore. Early on we entertained the idea of the burn/zerg strat for phase 3. Math was done, and the guild was split about 50/50 on whether or not you thought that the burn was possible. Nevertheless the argument was made to try to burn the boss regardless as you still were able to practice the phase 3 mechanics regardless of what strategy you were trying, and the burn strat generally netted you more time spent in phase 3.
On this day we worked on burning the boss in phase 3. Our best pull was 18%, and shortly after we abandoned the burn strategy considering it impossible for us to do this week. We started working on alternative strategies involving everything from killing the elemental to rotations of intentional ice blocks. Near the end of the raid we had some promising ideas for intentional ice blocks in phase 3, but not enough time to practice and implement them. On this day Method actually passed us in best pull % (doing their burn I believe they reached 15% this day), but at the time we had had many more phase 3 pulls and considered ourselves “still ahead” having much more practice in phase 3. We also thought that for both guilds the burn would be impossible this week, and that Method would need to find a control strategy for phase 3…
On this day we tried to get creative in phase 3. The most promising strategy we felt was to intentionally ice block a group of 5 melee that we thought could break out the entire rest of the raid by themselves (it had to be melee so that they didn’t get targeted by heart of frost while stacked and ice blocked). This involved a WW, 2 DKs, and 2 Demon Hunters. We practiced the 8 second break in phase 1 and 2, and felt that it would work. The strategy involved these melee getting blocked during Jaina’s Arcane Barrage in a Blizzard (Full Power), and then kicking Jaina the instant they got Frozen Solid. This avoided them being hit by Arcane Barrage, and avoided the phase 3 mechanic Shattering Lance from spawning on them. All the while we had lust up and we burned the Tide Elemental. The timing was such that if it all worked and lined up correctly, Jaina would Ice Block instantly then exit her Ice Block to start phase 3 with 5 melee having reset their stacks, and the Tide Elemental (plus its 2 small spawns from its death) being killed. The follow up to this strategy was to get the rest of the raid intentionally ice blocked in the first Ice Fall of Phase 3. Ice Fall does hit quite hard, but we thought we could cooldown through it, have the group of 5 melee break them out, and commence the rest of the fight with mostly no stacks, and dead water elemental, and the boss at 20%. We never did phase 3 clean enough to see this strategy through as it required precise Blizzard/Storm timing, and many other things to go perfectly right. By the end of the night we even started experimenting with Ice Blocking the boss twice to skip 2 Orb of Frosts in a row (this is probably what came to bite us later!)
In doing all this, we started to figure out how Jaina’s Ice Block interacted with her abilities. We noticed that we would actually skip certain abilities, and delay others. For example, she would skip Orb of Frost. To us, this meant that a well timed Ice Block would be essentially neutral in terms of stacks as the 2 stacks you get while waiting for the ice block on Jaina would be cancelled out by the stacks you get from Orb of Frost. Near the end of the night, we figured out some interactions that eventually led to the strategy that we killed the boss with.
That night we devised an offsetting lust strategy that involved lusting all but 1 person in the raid 2 minutes before we pull Jaina, and then ice blocking Jaina to start phase 3, and then having 39 seconds of lust on the whole raid to burn Jaina. So essentially, we eventually landed back on a burn strategy, just that it was slightly different than Method’s.
Day 6 (Monday)
This was our last hurrah, but because of the troll racial discovery we were actually very confident that we could land a kill. Our entire raid aside from paladins and demon hunters race changed troll, and we entered the raid with a strategy that we were sure would work if executed correctly. At this time we started raid as far as I remember Method had a 10% pull with their burn, and it looked like they had plenty of room to improve on that. We still thought that it wouldn’t be enough for them however… By the end of the day I think they improved to 8%.
When we got into phase 3, it was clear that Bliz had changed Jaina again and made it so she didn’t skip Orb of Frost in her Ice Block anymore (all of her abilities now delayed instead of some being skipped). This hurt our strategy, but it would still be possible. We had numerous pulls that got as low as 10% (and in these pulls we definitely had the damage and healer cooldowns to kill the boss in time, but in each pull we wiped to a mechanic in phase 3). It was apparent at this time that Method had definitely passed us in progression as their phase 3’s were much more clean than ours, although we had had more phase 3 reps. This fact is what hurt us most; we did not work on the mechanics in phase 3 to make it consistent due to continuously flip flopping strategies earlier on.
We ended the night in defeat, having never been able to make it cleanly past the Siegebreaker. Every time we successfully suicided the Siegebreaker (if the target dies, the Siegebreaker will not go off), we would die to some other mistake. We went 2 hours later than our normal raid time this night, but eventually admitted defeat as our pulls started getting worse as people got tired. We had missed our chance.
Tuesday Re-Clear and Beyond
On Tuesday Method killed Jaina while we were on a break at Opulence. Suffice to say, it sucks to lose, but tilt doesn't last. To the winner goes the spoils, Method out played us and we were sad. I’d like to think there is no bad blood between our guilds, because at least in the officer core we have nothing but respect for Method. Maybe Naowh leaving Method to join Limit, and joking with Gingi on twitter caused a rift? I don’t know. That night our pulls on Jaina were promising and we had many 8% pulls
Although we had publicly stated that we were taking 2 weeks off for this tier, the next week and our re-clear was still going to be strained as some people had to start going back to classes or work. This manifested itself in only doing 9 pulls in 5 hours on Wednesday (raid was supposed to start at 10 am). This was not like Method’s long breaks which were likely useful… we already had our kill strategy and were just waiting for 20 to be available. Anyways, we killed the boss with only Lipp alive in a bubble and nerd screamed just as hard as if we got world first.
No matter how hard we get memed for coming in 2nd* (3rd) place, we still had a ton of fun this tier. There is no way any guild has a better environment and community as us, so our spirits are all still high. Legitimately there is never any drama or flaming that goes on in our raids. Raiding progression in Limit even to get beat in the end is a huge high for everyone here, and that’s all that matters.
Like I said earlier, Method outplayed and out prepared us. We will keep working to get better. On our pulls from Monday we were at 402 item level, and Method killed Jaina the first week at 406. This is not meant to be an excuse, but I mention it because allocation and attaining item level is just as important as any aspect of progression. This also meant however, that we could not possibly just copy Method’s strategy. Well played to Method, they truly are incredible and this loss just makes us want to beat them next time even more.
For myself, I probably won’t be able to take time off of my job to go as hard as we did this tier again, but I am confident that Limit as a guild will still try in some capacity. Raiding here has been by far the most enjoyable thing for me in this game, and that sentiment is publicly shared by nearly every member of our guild.