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A Reflection on Wrath Raiding

I apologize for the gaps in my posts – I wasn’t kidding when I said my RL work obligations& health issues were consuming my time. We have all these great ideas for posts, but the past few weeks, all I’ve had time for is discussions with Derevka, and he ends up piecing together all the ideas in the final posts. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not feeling bad he actually has to do some ACTUAL work during his daily latte routine, but I do feel bad that I haven’t been contributing as much as I want.

That being said, we DO have some great posts coming in the next 2 weeks – Renews & You, Holy Nova How to, Grid For Dummies, PI guide for non healers, Heroic LK25 (finally killed it) & Heroic Halion 25 guides, so you’ll see some great discussions to make up for the down time. We’re just trying to put the finishing touches on them all.

I just thought I would use this post to take a moment and reflect on things related to raiding in Wrath, & give our opinions on them. Beta is currently ongoing (Invites please?), & the current expansion is winding down. I’m not sure how raiding will turn out in Cata, so let’s just look at what was good, what was bad, and what was downright ugly in our current expansion:

Raid Zone Buffs (ICC)

  • The Good: It solved the issue of how to get more people to see the content. Lore is a huge part of this game, and I know I enjoy the stories & background. Being able to see and experience the boss fights shouldn’t be so far out of reach of the majority of the player base. Also, having the buff gradually increase allowed more capable players & guilds to progress as normal, while allowing those that lagged behind a light at the end of the tunnel.
  • The Bad:
    • The buffs had no business being in heroic mode raiding. The fights are not drastically different & do not add anything to the lore, but require more skill and team play – adding a buff negates the whole concept of HEROIC mode raiding. They give raiders a goal to work towards, and if a fight proved difficult, you work on strategy & gear until you win. There’s no sense of accomplishment in steamrolling things.
    • Also, having a heroic mode with an end boss that was tuned for the high end of the buff value was just plain silly. For most people capable of that fight, the entire zone becomes a 2 hour cake walk, only to have the difficulty go over 9000 by reaching LK25. It was very awkward, and it sends mixed signals:  Do you intend for people to see all the content, or was LK only intended for the Best of the Best, frustrating the guilds that finally managed to scrape their way past the last few heroic bosses as the buff hit 20-30%? There’s nothing wrong with bosses increasing in difficulty as you progress – that’s how it SHOULD be – but having the difficulty at completely different scale as the rest of the instance is downright annoying.
  • The Ugly: As the buff increased, it gradually began to negate the need to understand one’s class and the need to play well. Instead of gear being a reward for tackling content, it became an expected right, something everyone seemed entitled to. As gear became commonplace on even the worst of players, certain asshats started looking for a way to discriminate. Since skill was no longer much of a factor, a player’s worth started being designated by a nonsensical numerical value called Gearscore. It didn’t matter if the rogue in T9 could out DPS a one in a 5500 GS – his gearscore sucked, so he must as well. And when PuG raids made up of these high Gearscore players encountered difficulty or wiped, they were bewildered – how could that happen? And then the insults and rage would ensue. No one seems interested in learning the mechanics of their class or content, or even gearing properly – it’s all about making that number bigger. It’s no longer a MMO community – it’s every man for himself on the quickest, easiest path to purples, and it down right sucks.

Heroic Modes:

  • The Good: Excellent concept – a great way to add extra challenge for progression raiders when normal modes weren’t quite the difficulty people were looking for. The rewards were slightly better, yet not substantially enough to offer a severe advantage on later content, and rewarded prestige items that had no impact on actually gameplay such as mounts and titles.
  • The Bad: Pick a way to access heroic modes! In my opinion, the “flip the switch for heroic” like ICC & TOGC was downright lame and boring – most fights simply came down to more damage & bosses had more health.  Sarth 3D & Ulduar were much more interesting, adding elements & ways to approach the fight that usually completely changed the fight itself. Now THAT was interesting.
  • The Ugly: Certain cosmetic rewards for doing these probably should be removed after some point. Removing them immediately after new content is released might be pushing it, but going back to get a Sarth 3D drake or Ironbound Protodrake in full T10.5 gear cheapens the accomplishment since they’re intended to be rewards for doing the hardest (at the time) content. Or an better idea is to have them attached to conditions, like a more loose version of Dedicated Insanity or Herald of the Titans, where you can’t outgear the instance by a certain factor to complete the achievement – that way they can still be done at any point in the game, AND it gives people a reason to go back and gear up in old instances.

Mounts & Titles are rewards for Challenging content

Progression:

  • The Good: This expansion offered a much easier way to progress & stay current. You could change your main or come back after an extended break and be right back in the game after a minor amount of time. It also allowed more casual players to partake in content without falling behind as well.
  • The Bad: With every new raid or dungeon, previous content was completely negated. There was no need to progress thru older content to gear up and “learn to play”. In a nutshell, unless it was part of the weekly dungeon quest, all previous content was forgotten.
  • The Ugly: This resulted in a complete loss of character progression. In an MMO, you develop your character thru progression. By collecting badges on the way to 80, running the new 5 mans, weekly dungeon, and crafting some gear, you can usually be ready for the latest normal mode content in a minimal amount of time….and then you’re out of things to do, unless you roll an alt, and do it all over again. It’s become the norm for most players to have several characters, and it’s become a boring treadmill. I would have loved to progress new alts thru naxx & ulduar, but my guild had done them to death, & PuGs have no reason to do them now, other than to steamroll them for mounts.  Bring back content progression, time investment and character development to the game!

Gated Content:

  • The Good: It kept players from being overwhelmed by so much new content.
  • The Bad: It provided a brick wall to more progressed players. I’ve heard Blizzard say it was a way to keep players from being unhealthy, but IMO – who are they to tell people how to play, or enjoy the game? If guilds like Exodus or Paragon want to play nonstop until they’ve cleared all the content – LET THEM. Don’t put an artificial barrier up on the way people play the game.  Saying people will  bored if they finish all the content so fast can be counter argued they’ll be bored & frustrated by being forced to wait.
  • The Ugly: I don’t know if this is considered ugly, but I always believed gated content was a way to release the content before all of it was finished. If that’s the case, say so – don’t try to feign concern for peoples’ well being.

Don't Give Raiders Artifical Barriers to Dragons!

Limited Attempt/Timed End Zone Bosses:

  • The Good: I liked this. A boss like Algalon was not required to complete a normal raid instance, but was an optional, heroic challenge that opened up after completing heroic modes, and offered some excellent rewards. I also like it because it forced more focus to be on skill, rather than throwing yourself at a boss until 3am. More guilds could remain somewhat competitive without raiding absurd amounts of hours.
  • The Bad: If it’s a limited attempt boss(es) like H LK, those that really want to will use alts to learn the fight. But I really don’t think that’s bad – that’s dedication, as far as I’m concerned. But if it was Blizz’s intention to prevent top guilds from continuous work on a boss, it didn’t work too well. Other than that, I don’t see really anything BAD with ‘X’ attempt bosses, other than when atrocious server lag would rear its ugly head in the middle of them. If you can’t guarantee a stable server, then you might want to rethink this.
  • The Ugly: A Timed boss, like the hour on Algalon, was also at the mercy of server stability and internet providers. If the server crashed or went down unexpectedly for maintenance, or some part of infrastructure for an area of users failed, the timer didn’t stop and there goes your attempts for the week.

These are just some random thoughts I had on what I’ve seen during this past expansion. There’s more things I could talk about, but those are the major changes I saw. Most of you know Derevka and I are hardly elitist Pricks, so please don’t read this post with that angle. What we are, however, is passionate about a challenge in our hobby. I think that’s what most raiders find fun. The biggest rush is working together with your guild to tackle challenges, and I am crossing my fingers that Cata can bring back the positive things we saw introduced for raids this expansion, while refining the things that didn’t work so well. I’m holding my breath that Cata can bring back challenges and accomplishments to raiding, and find a way to balance 10/25 man raids so they have both.

So what do you guys think? What are your thoughts on these issues? What did you like or dislike about Raiding In Wrath?

  1. Love this. I think, though, that raid ID extensions were left out? Or is that not new_in_wrath? /boggle My memory of BC has been expunged it seems.

    1. Good point – that was this expansion. I guess I didn’t mention it because we never really used it. Even with progression on later bosses, there were sually still upgrades to be had, so we would reclear.

      Now guilds with more limited time might approach it differently, so I’m sure it got used in that case. I really don’t have an opinion about it one way or another, other than I wrecked the Frost Lotus market farming Freya’s room by continuously extending that ID :D If anyone used them frequently and has an opinion I’m sure we would all love to hear it!

  2. The progression part is so true. I know so many people who have leveled character after character to 80, geared them up, leveled the next one. Because there is nothing else to do. I love accessibility, but surely there could be something you can invest your time in and feel that sense of accomplishment.

    I am sitting at six level 80s myself.

  3. You absolutely *nailed* the breakdown of the community aspect. WoW’s playerbase (outside of the fantastic, wonderful, and literate people I know almost entirely through means *outside* of the game) has turned nasty and just plain mean, and I’m not sure it can ever go back. GearScore means skill to entirely too many people now.

  4. Hi Avalonna! (:

    My comment focusses mainly on the “progression” section of your post.

    While I think you are right on all aspects, I also think your vision of WotLK is a result of the guild you are in, a result of the type of player you are, and a result of the people you play with. It is not negative in any way, because it applies to anyone, including me. Some people dont like PvP, others dislike alts, etc. But all those interests or abhorrations are just the concequence of spending your days, for weeks, months and years, with the same people and the same mindset (being in a guild!).

    What is your guild’s “orientation”? There are things you can do to make content more challenging and entertaining. I often 7man ICC 10 H. it occupies an evening very well. But is your guild willing to do that? What about Gladiator titles, has your guild gathered some? It is a nice grind, and does not interfere with raiding. The Insane title, perhaps? A slow, steady grind, easy to accomplish if you keep minimal focus on it. What about those scrubs flying around on Ironbound drakes? Taunt them with your Immortality pony, or your Mimiron’s Head, or your Invinscible!

    We cant go back and ask Blizzard to fix the flaws of its’ expansion obviously, but we can adapt things to gain interest in it. Ultimately, your guild as a whole is often responsible for your appreciation of the game in terms of character development and progression: the amount of activities you do, their diversity, the challenges you put into them, is what will help you generate content to your skill level, and incidentally, appreciate the content Blizzard offered you.

    This is just the thought of a perfectly happy WoW player trying to cheer up others. (:

    TL;DR: blame Derevka for everything.

    1. Oh snap! Blame ME?! QQ

      1. We blame you because it’s always your fault. Henceforth, we shall call this “The Anna Doctrine”

        1. Too bad “The Anna Doctrine” would have no effect in my guild. It would be ideal to get myself out of trouble.

          - Who dispelled the abom?! ANNA?
          - I call immunity based on the Anna Doctrine.
          - What?
          - The Anna Doctrine. You know? Blame Derevka?
          - …

  5. A great look back on what’s still the present.

    It feels a lot like they took the flaws of the Burning Crusade and really overcompensated for them and, worst, they dropped what they had and tried something completely different everytime. Biggest thing is the progression – not as strict as Burning Crusade was, but definitely needed to slow it down and put in some kind of minor attunements (just kill a boss deep within a raid like Kel’Thuzad, Vezax or Mimiron, Anub’arak – no long quest chain) or types of gear you just couldn’t get from a vendor beyond ilvl 200 to get going with. (especially chest, shoulders, weapons, and helm – seriously make it the money spots everyone sees.)

    Loved Sartharion and Ulduar – got to see content and spice it up with extra rewards which is something I tried to do in Karazhan now and then just to have fun back in the day (lvl 70 5-man Karazhan anyone?)

    I think it’s also pretty classy that there wasn’t a gripe about Malygos. He’s a unique fight where they tried the vehicle and it just didn’t work. No harm done, just won’t do it again. I applaud Blizzard for giving it a go.

    Coming from Burning Crusade where I could barely get my foot into 25-man tier 4 raiding to now on the Hard Mode 25 Lich King I can’t say I’m not glad for change, but it was too much.

    1. I know many disagree, but I LIKE the vehicle concept. Sure it wasn’t perfect at first, and I wish they made people more aware that there were Daily quests you could do to practice the mechanics, but it was DIFFERENT! And I still think it has potential – just don’t throw it in everything.

  6. I agree with a lot of these. I did like that a player leveling a class the guild needed would quickly be able to have the gear to participate without forcing to go through some of the older content but at the same point skipping it completely seems strange.

    I agree the buff didn’t belong in heroic modes. I like the buff that it helps get folks to see content, I hate knowing that it gives people excuses to not play to their potential

  7. I agree with 90% of what Ava has said here.

    My biggest “issue” is with the ICC Buff… First, I am GLAD its there… for Normal Modes. It lets everyone see all the content (more importantly it lets most people get a chance to see Arthas— afterall he is THE GUY we’ve been chasing since WC3). it doesnt make sense that Heroic LK seemed to be beatable only with the buff. Yes, the big ‘hard core’ guilds like Premo got him down far earlier than most… but still to only see US Top 81 just getting breached with 30%… seems a bit much. (insert QQ that Ava and I’s guild should have had him dead WEEKS ago but I digress….)

  8. The point of the ICC buff wasn’t to ensure more people could see the content- if that was all it was about, they’d only apply it to normal modes, or just straight-up make normal mode even easier. The point of the buff was to avoid having guild-crushing progression walls such as Kael’thas, Brutallus, and M’uru. They proceeded to fuck this up pretty badly by making the 11/12->heroic LK difficulty jump be the highest difficulty jump in the history of the game, but still, if the buff didn’t exist for hard modes then a lot of the guilds that burned out and quit on 11/12H would have instead burned out and quit at 8/12H or even 4/12H.

    I don’t feel like it really cheapened hard mode progression at all because I would wager that in 90% of all cases a guild got a boss within 0-1 buff stacks of the minimum that they were reasonably capable of getting them at- that is to say, most guilds that got Putricide for the first time at 20% would not have gotten him if he was permanently in his 0 or 5% incarnation without drastically upping their game, which would generally mean replacing large chunks of their roster while praying that their existing competent players didn’t bail for higher-ranked guilds.

    Additionally, a lot of the hard modes would have either been released at the equivalent of their 5-15% levels or been nerfed to that point or higher post-release if it weren’t for the buff, so if you’re on the bleeding edge then you actually got *more* difficult content out of this system.

    Heroic LK being overtuned was bullshit, I’ll agree, but I’m pretty sure that was just because they preferred to have him impossible/borderline impossible at 0% to being too trivial at 30%. Should they do the ‘gradually nerf content’ idea again they should do it as debuffs on bosses that stack up individually. As far as ‘ludicrous mode’ fights in general go, I think Yogg0 nailed the concept by having it feel like an optional extra thing as opposed to a ‘mandatory’ part of progression- it was a hard mode of a boss that already had a hard mode and the rewards were purely vanity stuff, no ‘real’ loot. In comparison, you don’t feel like you can say you’re “done” with ICC until you beat HLK, so him being such a huge jump in difficulty can be pretty demoralizing.

    1. Blizz actually did state the buff was for accessibility. Your statement just backed up my reasoning for why it SHOULDN’T be applied to heroic modes: It requires people to step up their game.

      Heroic modes added nothing to lore, sightseeing etc – it’s called Heroic because it requires you to play better. Heroic mode is not required to “finish” the instance – that was done with normal LK. Heroics are optional. As what to do to alleviate peoples’ boredom if they can’t do heroic modes & don’t want to work towards beating them? Well, I don’t know – blizz has to figure that one out. But heroic modes are not about accessibility – they’re about challenge.

      Could the argument be made that the bosses be tuned down a tad for more accesibily? Sure, but not to 20-30% levels across the board. But if players get burned out because they can’t or won’t take the steps to learn how to beat heroic encounters, well….stay out of heroics. There is no fun in facerolling bosses, and currently, that’s what it is. Fun in raiding is learning your abilities and working as a team .Would we have gotten heroic Sin & Putricide at 10% instead of 15? Sure – but we would have had to Up Our Game, and it would have taken longer, but it would have been a goal to work for. If people give up because it’s hard, you have to wonder why they’re raiding. And guilds that are just scraping by the heroics now to get to LK are going to be in for a rude awakening – it’s just not right.

      And people are have been burning out long before the buff was even half applied…because they’re bored.

  9. I could not agree with you more on your views as far as progression raiding and removing of vanity items as gear inflation increases. I recently got a Warlock to level 80 and after a weekend, I am almost ready to get into ICC10. The speed at which old content becomes irrelevant is astounding. Ulduar is by far my favorite instance of this expansion and really the only one with which I had an extensive experience in hard modes. It is sad to see perhaps the best instance in the game so far be a 5 Frost badge joke or a place to steamroll for experience.

    I also agree with you about the ICC buff. It truly does diminish content and breeds worse and worse players among the community. My guild first killed Sindragosa on Regular with the 5% buff. Much roster changes have happened since then and I find myself as an officer and raid leader having to bring different people each week because of the casual nature of our raiding schedule. I just recently returned to the game and have restarted the raiding scene in my guild a coule of weeks ago and on our first real night we got to Sindragosa with the 30% buff and it stopped us in our tracks. People have gotten used to simply steamrolling the first 10 bosses and when one gets to a boss that is based on mechanics rather than pure output, the end result can be horrendous. Had I been put to the task of taking today’s general population of raiders and putting them up against a fight like Heroic General Vezzax for example, that is entirely based on individual player awareness and mechanics knowledge, I wouldn’t even bother. I stand with you on the hope that Cataclysm brings back some sort of required retard check that the general population has to pass to get into raiding.

    However, I can see Blizzard’s point of view also. I am not aware of what the numbers are since the 30% buff but at the 25% buff only 14% of tracked 25 man guilds had killed LK on Regular. That is still a tiny number in comparison to the bigger picture. These instances cost thousands and thousands of dollars to make, code, render, etc etc. Blizzard is not interested in the expense and time involved to create such content if no one got to see it. A sad statistic in and of itself, only 4% of tracked guilds got to see the inside of Sunwell while it was relevant material. Wrath may have been a joke in many ways but the end of BC was an absurdity.

    What Blizzard needs is a balance. A guild must be able to progress at a decent level with 3 nights a week. The 25-30 hour raid weeks of Vanilla will never work again if they want to keep a 11+ million subscription population and BC simply failed on its plain difficuly factor rather than time consumption. Wrath struck it right as far as lenght of play but it is debatable what effect the reduced difficulty has had on the population. With Cataclysm I think Blizzard is going to step away from the massive instance model and have smaller 5-6 boss instances. Something like early BC raiding with SSC and Hyjal. Then time management becomes an ease to officers because there ideally will not be such things as continuations. 1 night = 1 instance cleared. If they can strike a proper balance of raid difficulty it will be a beautiful thing.

    Sad to say but raid progression is automatically gone in Cataclysm. With relevant gear all becoming purchaseable with the lower level tokens immediately at the release of new raids there simply will not be any use to going back to non-current instances except for achievements/vanity. Sad :(

    P.S. We all know a person’s DPS is GS+2,000 right? lol. Death to GS.

  10. Thanks for the post Ava :)

    I didn’t start playing until Wrath and it’s always so interesting to see what more experienced players think of the expansion ^_^

    Who knows, maybe when Cata comes out I can sip a martini and talk about the “good ole Wrath days” ;)

    Great post! I am SOOOO excited for all the upcoming ones you mentioned!
    -Vih

  11. Bad: Death knights, GS, people raiding for only gear, and did I mention death knights?

    Good: Ulduar and priests.

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