6 Down, 3 to Go

Week 2 went really well. The first 2 dungeons went better than I could ever possibly have expected. The first two dungeons took us less than 30 minutes each (not counting travel time between dungeons or bio breaks).

First up, Temple of the Jade Serpent. One-shot? Yeah. One shot. No wipes, despite the fact that I somehow managed to die not once, but twice on Wise Mari. Seriously, how did I do that? I mean, WTF? Anyway, spanked it and took away it’s birthday. The trend once again continues: we are pulling easier because we only need Silver, but by being a little more aggressive we could totally get Gold.

Next up, Shado-Pan Monastery. We flubbed the first pull, because some mobs didn’t behave the way I thought they did, but after a quick reset and a change of tactics, we stormed through that zone, too. We cut the timer closer than I intended, but we also stopped to explain tactics before several parts, too. Going back a 2nd time without having to pause for tactics and maybe one or two more aggressive pulls and we could have Gold on this one.

Finally, Scarlet Monastery. This one actually did give us a bit of trouble, taking us almost 2 hours. It took us several attempts to figure out the best way to do the first challenging hallway pack, but eventually we settled on Army of the Dead and some stuns and that worked really well. We CCed half of the pack to start off with, but between the stuns and the ghouls taunting, we would probably have been ok pulling it all. At any rate, we had the time to burn on CC, so we burned it. After we sorted that pack out, it gave us no more problems. Oddly, it almost became easy, once we found that tactic that worked for us.

The next obstacle was the invisibility run immediately after those trash packs. After taking turns having the mobs see through the invisibility (I think some of us were taking 1-2 steps too many toward the mobs before popping the potion), we took a bio break and when we came back, we finally got that sorted out. As it turned out, it was a great idea to take a break at that point, and I’m really glad Ven mentioned it. A few minutes away from the keyboard was just what everyone needed to soothe their frazzled nerves and regroup. It was fresh from coming back from that bio break that we decided to try out Army on that pull, and it really just made things click.

We had one good attempt in which our ele shaman got caught, and we had him reincarnate and run as close to the waterfall as he could before he died again. Rezzing from the end of the decorative overhang by the stairs allowed us to “port” him past the trash. We didn’t end up having quite enough time to finish off the run on that one, but I was pretty proud of it anyway. Seeing the group adjust and adapt and think on its feet was pretty fun, even when it didn’t quite pan out. After that attempt, we reset again, and were on a record pace when I accidentally strafed too close to the monks on the fountain. Argh! If I hadn’t messed that one up we would have had a real shot at Gold. We were steamrolling on that attempt.

Anyway, it didn’t take us too long after that to finally knock it down. Our successful run wasn’t our fastest pace through the front end of the zone, but we managed to speed it up at the end and get the boss, anyway. The way the group kept adjusting made me really proud of them, and honored to be a part of the group. I need to work on looking away from the health bars a little more often (which may help me stay out of the bad a bit better), but sometimes the spike damage is scary high in challenge modes. There were a few times that I poured everything I had into somebody and they still just melted. Still, the successful run did have an epic save in it. After I unfortunately lost Askevar to spike damage (those purifying flames are *nasty* I tell you),  Askevar had the awareness to prompt me to use Earth Elemental, which I did and it worked great. Between CC and the elemental, we managed to save the pull, finishing 2 men down (I also lost my sister on the pull before getting the elemental out). A quick rez, some aggressive pulls and we were the proud owners of another Silver medal. It’s the sort of thing that, if used *proactively* could have helped to shave time and prevent deaths. Hey, you learn as you go.

At the end of the night, I felt really good about it all. Once again, everyone was kind and courteous, even when tensions got high from wipes. Once again, the group kept adjusting our tactics and getting a little bit further each time. More often than not, it was a simple matter of a learning curve. There were a few “oops” wipes, where one of us just executed something poorly (facepull, caught out of invisibility, etc.) but not that many, and mostly we took turns doing it (I may have taken a few of Askevar’s turns, because I’m selfish that way, and besides, she wasn’t using ’em, anyway). Mostly, though, once we figured out how to do something, it didn’t trip us up again, and we got a little better/faster at doing it each time. Overall, I was extremely proud of this group. There were some epic saves, clutch rezzes, and taunts so quick it would scare a quick-draw artist. It was just a really great night, with some really good runs, and I had a wonderful time doing it. There’s not a single member of the group that I would hesitate to run with again. (Although I died so many times I’m not sure why they’d want to run with me.)

Much like last week, I felt good coming out of them. I’m feeling more certain than ever that we’ll get our mounts and I’m so excited about that. Screen shots/gloating (hopefully) incoming next week. According to Wowhead’s guide, the ones we did this week were 4, 5, and 9 in difficulty, leaving us with 6, 7, and 8 next week. According to Aftermath’s guides, the ones we did this week were 5, 7, and 9, leaving us with 4, 6, and 8 next week. Either way you look at it, the worst of it should be behind us (both guides place Scarlet Monastery as the hardest CM). At any rate, for me Scarlet Monastery was the litmus test, and IMO, we passed.

However you rank them, next week is Mogu’Shan Palace, Siege of Niuzao Temple, and Stormstout Brewery. I think we have what it takes to down them and claim our mounts. After the run, I talked to Askevar and she agreed that, come next expansion, we should start working on challenge modes earlier in the cycle. I wouldn’t mind pushing for golds next time around, making it a “one dungeon per week” sort of pace as opposed to 3 per week, as we’re doing now.

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