For some, the end of progression heralds a period of interminable downtime until the next content patch is released, punctuated by only a weekly farm clear to break the monotony. Not so for Blood Legion. No sooner than did Heroic Ragnaros fall to our might, we jumped into one of the most ambitious legendary farming and alt gearing programme ever undertaken in the guild's history : Operation Staffquest. Could we manage to outfit every caster DPS in our raid core with a Dragonwrath by the time Patch 4.3 dropped on live ? We were about to find out.
After the progression race ended for us in early August, we began splitting into two 25-man clears, a standard full-Heroic clear composed of mostly mains and a 4/7 H clear for alts and select mains in order to effectively double legendary staff intake. As our alts quickly accumulated gear over the course of several clears, we were soon able to implement our grand plan of running dual 7/7 H 25-man clears by the beginning of September. Meanwhile, a select few of us had been chipping away at the 10-man Heroic bosses on yet another set of characters, and even managed to score a US 12th 10-man Heroic Ragnaros kill despite our very casual pace. Around the time of this kill, we began running a third, mostly normal mode weekly 25-man group due to the desire of many of our members to quickly gear up new alts too weak to take part in one of the full Heroic clears. The Dragonwrath assembly machine had been launched.
Our well-laid plans for near-limitless staff farming soon hit a major speed bump when it was announced that the collection rate of the Smouldering Essences needed for the last step of the legendary quest chain had been nearly halved in 25-man heroic mode. Our machine was thrown out of whack when, suddenly, siphoners needed a minimum of five lockout cycles to collect all 250 Essences, rather than three as they had previously. The rather neat 3-3-3 collection rate for each step of the quest in 25-man Heroic became 3-3-5, leaving us face-to-face with a potentially severe bottleneck after the Cinder-collecting portion of the questline, a queue to siphon that would only grow worse with time.
Thanks to the much-needed buff to 10-man Heroic siphoning rates that was implemented along with the 25-man nerf, we realised that we could co-opt the weekly 10 man Heroic clear - which to this point had been exclusively the domain of alts - in order to finsh the staves from the Heroic 25-man groups without deviating from the now-ideal 3-3-5 schedule for each of our casters. However, this left the third 25-man group, which slowly evolved from its humble beginnings into a legitimate 6/7 Heroic capable raid team, quite without an option for efficient siphoning. This resulted in yet more alts forming the core of the normal-mode-only fourth weekly 25 man clear, in order to take in siphoners as needed and help them complete this portion of the quest at a rate comparable to the 10-man Heroic group. By this point, with five weekly runs and a need to intelligently cycle siphoners between them, it was necessary to formally operationalise our staff assembly plans. Thus, the official Staff Calendar Spreadsheet was born.
By adhering to the spreadsheet - with necessary adjustments as needed, like when we needed to cut down our schedule to two raid groups over the week of BlizzCon - we were able to pump out Dragonwraths in 11 raid cycles each from start to finish, often with four and sometimes five people siphoning simultaneously. We even managed to help out three of our applicants during this period complete their own legendaries by slotting them in raids with "free" bosses to allow them to pick up their last few siphons.
Now, on the eve of the launch of 4.3 and the highly anticipated Dragon Soul raid instance, we can confidently assert that Operation Staffquest has been a resounding success. In the 22 weeks that Firelands has been on live servers, we've managed to score an impressive 36 Heroic Ragnaros kills across all of our runs, scoring our entire raiding core, many of our applicants, and even a few alts the coveted Pureblood Fire Hawk mount. Through efficient gear distribution over five weekly clears, we've managed to deck out our many alts in respectable 385-average item level gear, with our main characters and "best" alts generally achieving full best-in-slot setups. Most importantly however, we've managed to fully assemble ten legendary staves within the guild at the time of this article's publication, with two more due to be completed within the next two weeks. Adding this to the three we helped to finish, we are poised to enter Dragon Soul heroics with an astounding fifteen Dragonwraths : one for every main caster DPS in the guild, and several alts as well ! With Operation Staffquest nearly complete, we are eagerly anticipating the release of 4.3 and the opportunity to put our staves - and skills - to the test. Deathwing had better be worried, because we are coming for him with the full fury of the Blue Dragonfight at our backs.