Raid Night: A Night in Heroic Dragon Soul 25 (or “The Day I Changed How I Played Forever”)

So after a double shift at work this past Saturday I come home not feeling half bad. I was unable to attend my 10 man raid due to work schedule. My first thought is to see who might be interested in a Black Temple run for some transmog gear. I want that staff off of Illidan for the day that Dragonwrath becomes outdated.

Then my guild leader says she’s waiting for a Dragon Soul 25 man to start, and it’s still looking for a couple of ranged dps. I figure it might be interesting to do normal content in 25-man and experience the differences to it all.

Sure, I’m game.

I send a tell to the raid leader. Item level 397 demo warlock with Dragonwrath. 1/8 Heroic DS experience (10 man).

He replies “Sure, I’ll take you.” A moment later I’m in. The raid is full and I was the last piece they needed. The other warlock in the run is happy to know she won’t need to go demo tonight. I then take a careful look at who makes up this raid.

A sense of combined excitement and dread the likes of which I’ve never felt washes over me. Most of these raiders appear to be alts from some of the top rated raiding guilds on Lightbringer, Eternal Reign being the most represented and prolific of the bunch. This guild is World Ranked 125 on wowprogress.com. The second best guild on Lightbringer is World Ranked 1337 (and yes I understand the irony there… they’re leet.)

These may be alts, but I just stepped into the big leagues.

The following two and a half hours were surreal. This group of alts performed better than most raiding groups I’ve ever seen firsthand. We went 4/8 Heroic on Dragon Soul. Thanks to them I got a few new achievements that I thought I wouldn’t see until Mists of Pandaria.

I also received something else. A wake up call.

My dps compared to these people was miserable. I placed somewhere between 10th-16th dps on every encounter, my best performance being 10th on Heroic Ultraxion. Now in my 10 man “hardcasual” group, these numbers I put out were more than reasonable. Here, they were numbers that would have benched me in any serious weekly run. All the same, I was invited to come back next week if I was available.

At the end of the raid, the raid leader and I talked for about a half hour in vent one-to-one. He went over the run from World of Logs with me. Having played a Warlock for a good part of Cata, he was able to point out some of my biggest flaws. It was a humbling experience, but at the same time I was thankful that someone would take so much time to try to help me improve my performance.

Things I learned:

1. I need to stop clicking. Period. It’s holding back my dps and diverting my attention from the encounter too much. This is the big thing. I need to change how I move, how I cast, and only click under the most rare of circumstances. Key bindings need to happen, and I need to set these close to WASD to be efficient.

2. My Immolates need to stop falling off. I need to move Immolate way the heck away from the keys I use most and be better at managing Hand of Gul’dan.

3. Reapplying Corruption right when it falls off isn’t optimal. I should be recasting it within 2 seconds of it falling off.

4. I shouldn’t underestimate Shadowflame’s raw dps when used on 2 or more targets. On some fights I do well on casting this on CD. Other fights I need to better manage my positioning and be more efficient.

While my schedule doesn’t really allow me to raid with the best of the best groups to begin with, I would be so much better if I put in the effort to change these things. In that alt run I was in with Dragonwrath I should be able to be top 7 or better with my gear.

Sure, I could phone it in. I could do what I have been doing all these years and it will get me through normal content and some heroic content. Do I want more? How bad do I want this? Am I motivated enough to reinvent my playstyle and improve in the fundamentals?

Time will tell. For the first time in a while I am feeling an itch I haven’t felt before. I want to improve, and I’ve been given a list of ways I can do that.

It begins with keybinds… where it ends is anyone’s guess. I’ll keep you folks updated as I work on being a better warlock.

My thanks to Alchemoney of Inbound (whom I’m pretty sure has alts in Eternal Reign also) and all those who gave me a shot to see where I am now and where I could be later.

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