15 Minutes of Fame: PvE players on a speeding frenzy

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15 Minutes of Fame: PvE players on a speeding frenzy

15 Minutes of Fame is our look at World of Warcraft players of all shapes and sizes – from the renowned to the relatively anonymous, the remarkable to the player next door. Tip us off to players you'd like to hear more about.

This subject of this week's 15 Minutes of Fame officially rates a mere five minutes of fame – they just blast by that fast. Not that you'd have time to notice. Fusion-H of Turalyon (US) has zipped onto the record charts for speed runs of PvE instances, along with a growing number of U.S. and European guilds that are bored with taking things at the same old pace.

  • Karazhan 11/11 53 minutes, 17 seconds -- Slashcry, EU Kazzak
  • Zul'Aman 6/6 29 minutes, 27 seconds -- Pugnas Rache, EU Alleria
  • Mount Hyjal 5/5 1 hour, 7 minutes, 20 seconds -- Showdown, EU Kazzak
  • Black Temple 9/9 1 hour, 48 minutes, 15 seconds -- Clarity, EU Ravencrest
  • Gruul's Lair 2/2 5 minutes, 57 seconds -- Fusion, US Turalyon
  • Sunwell Plateau 6/6 2 hours, 15 minutes, 52 seconds -- Pugnas Rache, EU Alleria
  • Heroic 16 5 hours, 21 minutes, 52 seconds -- Equinox Prophecy, EU Al´Akir

It all started with a speed-run thread on the EU forums, where players devised set rules for 10-man, 25-man and all-heroic content. Then the speeding frenzy spread to the US servers. We caught up with Bazz, GM of Fusion, which holds the current record for clearing Gruul's Lair in a ridiculously brief 5 minutes and 57 seconds, for peek at how one of WoW's top speed-demon guilds makes short work of PvE instances.

15 Minutes of Fame: So what speed records has Fusion hit and held?
Bazz: Our first record that we held (done with a mix of some T5 gear and a good deal of T6 gear) was a sub two-hour Serpentshrine Caverns speed clear, during the initial days of T6 content. Our current records, done with mostly Sunwell gear, include a full clear of Gruul's Lair in less than six minutes and a full clear of Serpentshrine Cavern in 55 minutes.

When did you first get interested in doing speed runs?
Fusion has always operated under the idea of maximizing our time online and during raids. Keeping our members motivated and focused through raids is a core principle in our day-to-day activities.

What instances have you run for speed?
Our speed runs include Serpentshrine Cavern, Tempest Keep, Black Temple, Gruul's Lair and a handful of other bosses in other high-end raid zones.

Do you have a special group you've put together just for speed runs? If so, what's your class mix?
The overall idea behind a speed run is efficiency. A raid is usually formed with the idea of not swapping people throughout the raid, so overall raid balance is a priority. In addition, having two Shadowpriests is a must for mana return. Having strong group synergy overall is also a key factor.

Do you still run PvE content at a more "normal" pace?
Our normal raids move very quickly efficiently through content, although not at the break-neck pace of a speed run. For example, a typical Black Temple run for us takes between 2:15 and 2:25, versus our speed run, which clocked in at 1 hour and 50 minutes. Usually on farm content, we won't use as many consumables, and we don't chain pull quite as fast as we would during an official speed run. The core principles of moving quickly through a dungeon, though, are still there. We still expect people to stay focused and contribute as much as they can. A very big advantage that I think a lot of guilds may not fully realize is that while working on progression content (learning encounters, etc.), quickly clearing through the first couple bosses of a zone can provide you with additional time to work on whatever boss encounter that you are on, before the weekly reset.

Tell us how you do it. What are your top five tips for faster instance runs?
  • Consumables. Every consumables you can use should be used: foods, flasks, oils. Every advantage you can think of should be used. In some cases, this may even extend to powerful world buffs or in-zone buffs that give huge benefits.
  • Focus. When doing a speed run, everyone should have their full attention on the raid. No one should be on the phone or watching TV or any other distraction that could cause issues in the raid. Speed runs typically last less than two hours; it is not unreasonable to require 110% focus from your raid for these special events.
  • No AFKs. Again, speed runs are by nature short events. Sitting down for one to two hours of uninterrupted time should not be an issue.
  • Always keep moving. Your raid should always be killing something. Even if you have a death or two in the raid, designate or call out rezzes ahead of time so that the rest of the raid can keep moving.
  • Keep killing. In conjunction with D, you should always be killing something as well. The raid leader and/or puller should always make sure that there is something to attack. Time spent not DPS is time wasted.
  • Practice. Your raid force should know each other inside and out. If you are in the position to be doing a speed run, you probably play frequently with your same raid group. Knowing what your fellow raiders are capable of is a big part of good team unity. Learning the pulls, which targets to crowd control and memorizing healing roles, tanking roles, etc., will help your raid move faster and more smoothly through a zone.
Many of the core ideas from above can be found in much greater detail on our strategy site.

How much does overgearing the instance come into consideration? How much of your strategy relies on being overpowered for the content?
Gear does play a small part in speed clears; however, it is usually only a factor when getting that last little bit of performance out of your raid. One of the bigger factors of gear advantages usually comes in the form of mana regen for healers and caster DPS. Not having to sit and drink after every pull can help speed things up.

What is the easiest instance to run quickly? The most difficult to finish quickly?
The easiest instance to speed clear is probably Gruul's Lair. It has a lot of room for error and is very short, which means there is little room for screw ups. The emphasis is less on gear and more on how good you are at raiding at speed, regardless of gear.

As for the most difficult, currently that would be Sunwell, just because it's hard to go for actual records until you are reliably one-shotting every boss. Even after clearing Sunwell for a couple months, a full clear of the zone can usually still have multiple wipes for many guilds.

Is running content so quickly enough of a challenge that you feel a sense of accomplishment -- or is it somewhat of a bittersweet disappointment that it's so easy to move through these instances at this speed now?
Quickly clearing a zone is usually an item to be proud of. It can be used as a morale booster for a guild, showing that you can do amazing things if you really put your mind to it. I don't think it will ever be a disappointment (unless you fail to actually complete a speed run in a timely manner).

What are your plans for Wrath of the Lich King?
Obviously, the first step is leveling. Fusion as a whole will be promoting quick leveling and getting back into the raiding scene as quickly as possibly. We look forward to continuing our efforts to bring speed runs whenever and where ever we can.

More insider interviews with WoW players of every stripe: a guild focused on racking up Wrath achievements, that guy who 10-boxes Karazhan, a player who's lost 90 pounds playing WoW on a treadmill ... a play style for everyone in 15 Minutes of Fame.
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