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Initial Icecrown and 3.3 Impressions

Well, it is finally here! Icecrown – Tuesday we all marched towards that taunting little sonofa… *cough* The Lich King. (by the way, doesn’t the 3.3 Logo look like it says Fail of the Lich King to anyone else?).

I must admit I really was looking forward to 3.3 – for more than the fact that I have been really tired of TOC. But, 3.3 is not just all sunshine and smiles, it certainly has its flaws in my eyes. So I do want to take some time to discuss both the thumbs up and the thumbs down features.

Lag and Server Stability at Launch – This baffles me every patch. Back in Vanilla WOW, patch days were pretty smooth and had minimal issues. Ever since TBC, every single patch seems to be this cycle of ‘reboots’ and ‘Loading Character Screen’ – and the infamous boss: The Blue Bar. *shrug* status quo… but irritating none the less. Thumbs down.

Icecrown Graphics – Visually, the interior of Icecrown is very impressive. The designers clearly spent a good deal of time on the interior (albeit eerily similar to Black Temple). Thumbs up.

The Ashen Verdict – A new patch means new reputations! 3.3 is certainly no exception. Not only does the Ashen Verdict sell the new crafting patterns, but they also provide your choice of “Path” for a rather snazzy ring! Mirroring the same format that the rings from Mount Hyjal in TBC, these rings scale and improve as you move up the reputation ladder. Clearing 25 man and the first boss in 10 man grants you your friendly ring. (or visa versa). Some guilds, and players have gone even so far as rep grinding and resetting the instance (by dropping and reforming the raid) to gain higher rep sooner. I’m not sure how I feel about that yet – but the spellpower proc the rings offer at Revered is mighty tasty. (and another gem socket at Exalted!). Thumbs Up.

Tier 10 Gear – What?! You mean I won’t look exactly like a Warlock or a Mage anymore? Nice! While I understand the whole fact that Tier 9 was meant to look identical, so we all appeared the same as we charged like a Military Force into Icecrown – it doesn’t mean I liked it! — A cop out in my eyes — However, the new T10 gear is here! I can even get over the fact that the Priest T10 looks like we have a Popped Collar and perhaps we should be putting in too much hair gel and hanging out at the Jersey Shore with spray on tans. (/pump fists!) Thumbs Up.

Tier 10 Purchasing – At first I wasn’t a fan of how we had to purchase T10 gear, and slowly upgrade it. However, this may just be an ingenious solution to catering to the Casuals and the Hardcore players alike. One of the biggest complaints Casuals had was that they had very little access to Tier Gear. Then enter TOC and Badge Tier Gear: the Hardcores now had minimal visual distinction over the casuals. (QQ I know, but I’m of that group!!!). With this color scheme in T10 – casuals have access to Tier Gear and their bonuses, and Hardcores can walk around like a proud peacock in their color distinct T10. Not only does this help distinguish, raiders who get access to the ‘upgraded’ versions, don’t feel like they wasted Frost Emblems on the lower level version of T10, since it will be required to upgrade. Thumbs Up.

Forced Pacing – Blizzard has always rolled bosses out slowly. TOC was one every week, Ulduar was similar – just like Sunwell. But, when Hardcore raiders found out we had to wait nearly a month for a new boss: jaws dropped. My guild, Dark Nemesis, is a progression guild. We competitively kill – so forcing us to wait is a bit irritating. Blizzard promises the pace that they roll stuff out will increase after the first wave. With the holidays coming up, I kind of like the fact that I can miss a night of raiding to spend a night with family or friends this Holiday Season, and not feel like I am leaving 24 other raiders high and dry. Now… come January that might change. The verdict is still out on this one – if Blizz drags it out too long, I fear they will lose players more than they will keep people craving more. Neutral.

Normal Boss Difficulty – The bosses in Icecrown that are currently open don’t seem to be too difficult. For a point of reference, US-Bloodhoof has 2 guilds with Heroic: Tribute to Insanity in TOGC 25 my guild and one other. We cleared all available bosses in ICC25 all the first night it was opened, another 4 guilds who cleared through all four 25-man Icecrown bosses the second night they were available, and an additional 3 guilds cleared all new content before the weekend.

I understand, especially with Arthas, the desire to expose more players to content – but this seems to be a bit under-tuned. (feel free to call me an elitist raider that is just ranting – but it does seem a bit off). I am hoping the Heroic counterpart offers a bit more of a challenge. Looking at the Wowhead data-mined boss spells does seem like it will be a bit harder (particularly the damage output and DPS requirements), but how will that scale with gear upgrades from ICC25? I’m going to have to give this a Thumbs Down.

Looking For Group System – This seems to be a hot topic on the blogosphere. There are a number of posts out there exclusively on this topic, as well as Twitter discussions. This new LFG system is kinda great for healers and tanks – I enter the LFG toget my daily 2 Frost Emblems, and no more than 30 seconds later – BOOM group. Now, the wild card is the group make up. (I was in a group with 3 DKs and a Ret Pally – I’ll let you draw your own conclusions with that one…) Frankly, I like it. yes, its a PUG… but no one is asking you to PUG ICC25. Thumbs up.

The New 5 Mans – From a lore perspective these are fantastic. The attunement requirement to do the 2nd and 3rd is something a little new, but I do like it. The storyline about the Lich King is something that everyone should experience and understand. Difficulty is a bit more difficult than the existing Heroics, but the rewards are equally improved. Then, we can add in the Quel’dalar quest item and quest line… loreriffic! Big Thumbs Up!

Overall 3.3 has a few things I would have liked to have seen done differently, and a few things that I have some lingering concerns – but that is mainly because I am an end-game raider. Let’s hope the remainder of 3.3 lives up to the expectations.

Coming this Tuesday: Icecrown Healing Tips!

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Written By: on December 13, 2009
  1. As far as heroic raid difficulty goes, having a raid where only two (elite) guilds can clear it on a server puts it WAAAAAY out of reach of even semi-hard core people. The fact that eight groups did the ten in a few days means there might be the option of seeing the heroic 25 man content for some more people. I still don't expect to actually clear 25 heroic, but it's nice to think I might see it. Is there really something wrong with that. Plus think of the money poured into creating the 25 hard modes. For only a handful to even be able to try it is a waste of resources imo.

  2. @Anonymous I never said that people shouldn't be able to see it – in fact I stated the contrary. I am saying that 8 guilds (on a server that isn't overly 'elite') shouldn't be able to steamroll through all the 25-man new content – it just seems notably undertuned. I agree that more people should be able to see content, particularly Arthas – but I am hoping the difficulty is ramped up a bit as we get deeper into ICC and the Heroic/Hard Mode version.

  3. "Mirroring the same format that the rings from Mount Hyjal in TBC" along with the other roles came first.

    And Vanilla WoW not having issues on patch day? I must have missed that, I don't remember a time where a patch day that included any amount of content was actually playable without much frustration.

  4. Raids are about challenge and coordination. There is nothing wrong with people seeing content, but having goals to work for, and that amazing feeling you get when everything comes together and the boss dies is missing this expansion.

    When new content comes out, the average (and some cases, below average) PuG should not be clearing all thats available in the first night or even week its out…especially if you're staggering the wing releases by almost a month.

    The problem is when things are too easy, there are no goals. No challenges are boring. Ever use a cheat code in a console game? Sure its fun for a few minutes, but then you beat it, and move on.

    Perhaps I am sounding like Old Lady Elitist. I'm hoping the Heroic Versions offer more challenge. I'm glad that even pugs get a way to see the 25 man content, because they can be fantastic, but as I said, if you have nothing to work towards, you have no reason to play.

  5. Oh, but Derv is smoking crack – Vanilla's Patch days were usually a several day nightmare.

  6. Really? Perhaps I am losing it in my old age, but I remember Vanilla being fairly smooth on Bhoof. /shrug

  7. Weird. I raid in 25s that fully cleared TOC25, never got to Algalon or killed whatshisface in Ulduar, and got through heroic 10man TOC. I would not say ICC is easy. In fact I've almost gquit 5 times (each night of raids) since ICC was released because of all the healer blame going on.

  8. the fact that this is an old post aside… (i’m new here and reading older stuff)

    Vanilla WoW had plenty of issues. Countless patch days were spent waiting 8+ hours for them to fix an overlooked bug that made the game unplayable. And queues. I haven’t been in a queue since BC, but back in Vanilla on my server at the time (Ner’Zhul) I had to be sure to log in an hour and a half early just to get past the hour queue in order to make it on time for my raids.

    Just sayin’, server instability on patch days is nothing new, nor should you get angry at blizzard when things don’t work out right. After all, the developers are human like all of us, and even after extensive testing things can be buggy. Also, on a patch day as big as this, you can expect a lot of people who quit after they got everything they needed out of TOC to resub and there’s always a lot more traffic on patch days (hell… maintenance days in general) that you can’t blame anyone for it.

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