Last night I had the honor and privilege of running normal Highmaul with an all Monk team put together by the guys that run Monk Meditation. (Monk Meditation, if you’ve never heard of it is an extremely informative and entertaining Podcast all about, you guessed it, Monks in World of Warcraft.) I’ve been rolling a Monk for 100 levels now, and am building up my gear set to be able to participate in some of the current Warlords of Draenor raid content. So last week when ChaiThi, host of Monk Meditation, announced that they were going to be running an all Monk team, I knew it was something that I wanted to be a part of.
I will confess that even as a 31 year old, I had a little bit of a fanboy squee moment joining OpenRaid’s Mumble (and online chat platform) and hearing the hosts of one of my favorite podcasts, in a group with me. Once I got over the fact that I was playing with some of the most knowledgeable Monks in the game, we quickly settled in to some pre-raid banter. For those WoW players that have never raided before, or perhaps those that may have never played the game, a raid is an epic 25 player battle through a dungeon to defeat several, increasingly difficult bosses. As you raise difficulties in these raids, the bosses get larger pools of health, meaning you have to hit them for longer periods to kill them, and the mechanics of the fight get much more difficult. Generally “raiders” in the WoW realm, are some of the most knowledgeable, skilled, and most thoroughly time invested in the game. Teams will spend weeks if not months attempting to down certain bosses and working out the different mechanics of a fight. Players will review videos of the boss encounters on YouTube or Twitch, read guides on various websites, or even listen to podcasts like Monk Meditation, all to get an edge on this challenging aspect of the game.
I mention all the preparation that goes into raiding for the simple fact that I have to admit that I did none of that. In fact, I had never even seen the last two bosses. On top of that, I was playing a new specialization that I’d never touched before. I went into the raid as a tank, a class that focuses on keeping the bosses attention and drawing damage away from the rest of the team. Someone once told me, “As a tank you have two jobs. One, don’t let the bad things hit your team. Two, don’t die.” While this may be an oversimplification of a complex class, that’s what it bassically boils down to. So here I was, unprepared, under-geared, and playing with some of the best of the best.
Out first boss Kargoth we were able to get through in about 3 1/2 minutes, with no big surprises, no major errors and nothing truly crazy happening. I was starting to feel good, feel like maybe I could hold my own. Without having access to the data, while I knew that I wasn’t quite holding up in the damage department, I hadn’t died, and I felt as though I was doing alright. Next up in Highmaul was the Butcher, another sort of “warm up” fight, and I held my own. I was able to mitigate a good portion of damage, I was able to assist our lead tank, things went well. Third in our journey through Highmaul however was Brakenspore. One of the first things you hear when playing World of Warcraft is “Don’t Stand in S#$t” this being a good general rule to avoiding death in any boss encounter. Basically if Blizzard took the time to animate something on the ground, it is going to hurt, probably badly. This time I didn’t listen to that timeless adage and found myself face down watching the raid dispatch Brak, with nary a thought towards the one lone Panda lying still on the battlefield.
Once through the first 3 bosses, Highmaul ramps up a bit. Next up is “Rise Mountain”, I mean Tectus. A large elemental bosses that throws a large amount of Adds in your face, I’ve heard time and again that this isn’t a fun boss to tank. We wiped twice on Tectus, not really because of any huge mistakes, but more due to the fact that there is just a LOT going on during this boss fight. There’s Adds everywhere, multiple ground effects, and the scene can quickly become utter chaos if you allow it to. After regrouping and some master words from both ChaiThi and Daikatsu, we threw ourselves at the mountain, and this time the mountain fell.
Twin Ogron & Korgath seemed almost relaxing after the chaos of Tectus, and went down easily both right around the 5 minute mark, and unable to withstand the onslaught of so many Monks gathered together in one place. We were flying high, confident that with our combined Monk abilities we were unstoppable. We walked into Imperator Mar’gok with a swagger, a bounce in our step, and of course the calm peaceful menace that only a large group of Monks can bring. At least that’s how I was feeling. Maybe that last red bull was a bad idea, maybe I didn’t have enough sleep the night before, maybe I should’ve just watch the darn Youtube video before we pulled. Unfortunately, Mar’gok quickly wiped the smile off my face, then shortly thereafter wiped the raid. Now some may say that “real raiders don’t wipe”, well I’m here to tell you that if I’m on your team, we probably will. I’ve already achieved the dubious reputation in my own guild as being the squishy Panda, owing mostly to the fact that I’m still undergeared for the current tier, but insist on playing any time I can. They say that you can “fake it til you make it”, whomever said that was NOT talking about WoW raiding. My nub nub moves and lower class of gear definitely showed on this final boss and I spent most of the fight, “tanking the ground”. I will say however that I never lost aggro on the ground, and I did have a pretty good view for most of it. In the end the only thing that matters is that I was standing, and Mar’gok was the one on the ground. Regardless of how much I was laying down, literally, for that fight, I still felt a part of it and was proud of my Monk brethren when he dropped.
After my first experience raiding, it may have been obvious that I need more work on the gear and mechanics, but it was also obvious that the Monk community is a welcoming, fun, and seriously talented one. Not once was I yelled at, on the contrary, I was offered tips, pointers and encouraged when I did well. I even got a “gratz” from ChaiThi at then end when earning the achievement for killing Mar’gok revealed the fact that I had never been in this content before. My biggest takeaway was that while I may not have the time to dedicate to gearing up into the top tier of raiding, this is definitely an aspect of the game that I’d like to be a part of, and outside that, the Monk community is quite possibly one of the most welcoming in the game.
Big thank you to the entire team at Monk Meditation Podcast for all that they do for the entire Monk community. If you play a Monk at all in WoW you need to checkout their website & their podcast. You can find Monk Meditation at http://monkmeditation.com, as well as both ChaiThi, Daikatsu, and the show on twitter at @wowmonk, @DaikatsuCTR, and @Monk_Meditation respectively.
Special thanks as well to all the other Monks out last night, it was a learning experience for me and one that I’ll be looking forward to repeating again with you!