Site Meter Curse of Senility: Old Man Sentai's Pedigree

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Old Man Sentai's Pedigree

When I started Curse of Senility, I had a mission statement of sorts. It wasn't particularly detailed or anything, nothing like the mission statements they tell you to write in those worthless business classes. Really, it was just a short list of things I did not like about my past attempts at self expression, which I wanted to avoid in writing Curse of Senility. One of the things at the top of that list was that I wanted to be more open about my flaws. Which isn't to say I feel my previous writings were too arrogant, or that they were deceitful. Self deprecating humor has long been a fundamental element of my style. None the less, there was a time when I would not have written about how I caused a wipe on my first Naxx run by killing the Grand Widow's add before she enraged.

As part of that openness, I'd like to disclose an uncensored history of my raiding experience. I want to do this for several reasons.

1) I don't know how well I've actually done with this whole 'openness' thing. And while it shouldn't be, the brevity of my raiding history is something which makes me feel somewhat inadequate sometimes.

2) A large part of what I do, here at CoS, is offer advice. And now that I work for WoW Insider, I do so from a position of relative authority. It's only appropriate that I hang my degree on the wall, so that everybody can see I got it from a Russian correspondence school.

3) Many people, most people even, assume I've got a hell of a lot more experience than I do. I blame this on the authority I tend to inject into my speech, and the compulsion I've always had to get into the history of a thing before actually getting into the thing itself. I'm that guy who gets nostalgic for things he wasn't even around for.

So here goes;

I was born in a log cabin in Illinois...wait, wrong one.

I rolled my very first character sometime during spring quarter, my sophomore year attending college. So that would have been sometime in March 2007 or so, after Burning Crusade shipped. My primary interest in the game, at that point, was just to see what all the fuss was about. I wasn't terribly interested in participating in the group content, but doing some role playing really appealed to me. I wasn't the speediest leveler, and the fact that I had to re-start my character once he hit level 32 or so (he should still be on the armory; Sentaigresk of Silver Hand) didn't help. Still, I managed to get to 70 by...September I think it was.

But the day I ding'd 70 isn't exactly the day the story of my raiding began. The roots of that can be found somewhere in Sentai's late 40s, early 50s, when I started < Entelechy >. Originally it was an RP guild, but as time went by and our membership grew, I became more and more interested in instances. There were some people in the guild, mostly those who could never level a character past 30, who weren't so fond of this shift in interest. But instance after instance, the core members of the guild really seemed to catch on to the idea. And by the time we were all level 70, we were calling Entelechy an RP / Raiding guild.

Heroics were our thing at first. Actual raids seemed like an impossibility for us, something hardcore players did. So we 5-manned, and we 5-manned, and we 5-manned. It was somewhere around here, in September of 2007 that I realized I was terrible. I had discovered DPS meters, and I wasn't happy with consistently being ranked third or even fourth. So, my own instincts having failed me, I did research. Mountains of it. I read everything I could get my hands on, and when I was done with that, I posted a thread in the warlock forums titled "I suck at this class." and asked for people to tear into me. They did, though with one exception it was surprisingly civil. I improved, I was even pretty good. We started Kara -- it was late 2007.

We had an eclectic bunch in Entelechy, and there was something of an unofficial code of honor about how we did Kara. We didn't want easy victories, we didn't want to group up with a bunch of BT raiders and clear the place in four hours. If they had offered we would have said no. We didn't just want to clear Kara or get geared up, we wanted to make Karazahn ours. And we did. We scratched and clawed our way through bosses, week after week. First time in, we one-shot Attunemen and got Moroes on our second try (would have one-shot him if our pugged priest knew where his shackle button was.) By our third or fourth week, we were knocking on Shade's door. But the guild was becoming strained--the RPers weren't happy with the raiders, and aside from our core group of six or so people the raid was never really capable of getting anybody to commit. People started to drop off. And shortly after my first, or maybe second, Prince kill, I left the game.

I don't really want to talk about what happened to Entelechy after I quit the game -- largely because there's no reason to open old wounds. Suffice to say that it doesn't exist anymore.

When I returned to the game in late summer of last year, I did so with a new sense of clarity. The time away from the game had allowed me to distance myself from my warlock playing habits, and I was able to approach the class from an objective perspective -- while still pulling on my experience and research. My style and overall damage output improved dramatically, and when 3.0 hit I was able to out-perform every other DPSer who was willing to compete with me against test dummies.

When Wrath hit, and my girlfriend bought it for me (sweet girl that she is) I decided that I would use it fresh start to approach raiding from a more object-oriented standpoint. I want to be a the best warlock I can be, and I want to clear as much content as I am able. And those are the principles I've been operating on since then.

With almost all of my raiding buddies scattered to the wind, I had to start from scratch. I made that part particularly difficult on myself, because I can get really anal about what kind of raid groups I'm willing to raid with. I'm not willing to kiss some guild's ass for the privileged of rolling on loot dropped by a boss I topped damage on. I'm kind of an asshole that way.

I've raided with several groups since Wrath hit. Originally I ran with a guild on my server called . That didn't last terribly long, unfortunately. Great guild, but they had a "guild-first" policy for raid signups, which isn't at all unreasonable. But, once there was a larger pool of level 80 characters for them choose from (I leveled to 80 quicker than most people did) I was faced with the decision to either join their guild or look for another group. And if I ever leave the guild I'm currently in, it will be because I want to take another crack at running my own guild.

It took me a little bit of time to find another group after that, but the one I found was a gem. My healer buddy, Sidrea, introduced me to a Death Knight named Jyssana. Jyss was a master at putting together functional PuG groups -- I think there were only 2, maybe 3 people I saw at all (or almost all) of his raids. He ran both 10 and 25 man Naxx, and while we never got a full clear out of either, we did have a lot of good times and gained a lot of experience. I know that I personally learned a lot from Jyssana. His style of raid leadership was very unique to my experience, and I incorporated much of his style into my own.

I don't rightly know what happened to Jyssana. One day, Sid and I noticed he wasn't on our friends list anymore. Nor on the lists of any of the contacts we had made while attending his raids. Armory searches revealed nothing either, until a few days later when he started showing up. Turns out he and two of his R/L buddies had transferred to an Oceanic server. I can't really blame him, dude lived in Japan.

Round about this time, two of my old buddies from back in the day got their characters to level 80, and based on my now slightly more well-rounded group of possible raiding contacts, I decided it was time to take matters back into my own hands. I set up a calendar event for Naxx-10, carefully selected PuGs for the empty slots, and in our first attempt we cleared 3 wings. By our second attempt, we had full cleared. We continue to run the instance weekly, with a few exceptions, and now that Ulduar is out, we're looking forward to seeing if the group coordination we've been building will pay off.

And that's it. I'm not the most experienced raiding warlock out there. Hell, I've never full-cleared anything save the easiest max level raids available to me. At least, so far. I'm just a guy who likes warlocks, and tries to get the best performance out of the class that he can.

Cool story, huh bro?


  1. Just don't nerf meh.

    Sounds similar to my story, actually...

  2. A spectacular read. I admire your skills at pugging, and I think Jyssana made a wise decision, also.