15 February 2011 § Leave a Comment
In what surprised me as a fairly quick kill, Cho’gal died last Monday. Ridiculously, he died on the first pull of the night, after we had spent about 3 hours on him on Friday. I may do an impressions post on the fight, which was nice but utterly crazy.
We poked Al’Akir the rest of the night, and got him to 37%, so I think we basically got him, aside from some tweaking to improve uptime of feedback (and, you know, get to P3 before the healers just give up in frustration). We have not even started on Nefarian (aside from a couple of pulls at the end of the night just out of curiosity), but I’m still pretty happy with our progress. Heroics are close, and they seem to be pretty hard (albeit Halfus seems to go down more often than the girls at Berlusconi’s parties, after the patch) – but I’m kinda looking forward to them. So far, though, I have thoroughly enjoyed the fights in this tier of raiding, so let’s hope that continues!
12 November 2010 § 3 Comments
30 October 2010 § 2 Comments
The 25-man raid run by Dawn Vigil, my guild, managed to kill Lich King tonight, after a fairly remarkable progression. We extended once again, dispatched Sindy in 3-4 tries (last week she was pwning us), and then proceeded to go poke at the Lich King. Now, keep in mind that I am not sure we had ever got to P3 (I’m pretty sure *I* never got to P3 with the 25-man, but I know I missed a couple of progression nights), and the last we had seen LK was ages ago, as we focused on doing Heroics and getting a Shadowmourne done (we had a couple of Kingslayers from another raid who had kindly taken some of us along).
The raid proceeded to work incredibly well, to work out the MANY problems that were there at the start (from people not focusing on valkyrs to people not spreading out correctly, to defiles…) and steadily progressed to P3. With 30 mins of raid time to go, we got to P3 and 25%, and the following pull, the last pull of the night, everything came together and we managed to get through the whole fight. It wasn’t pretty, our tank died and got b-rezzed because of a failed Soul Harvest management (he may in fact have died twice – soulstone + b-rez – but I’m not sure, I may be mixing attempts up), but in the end, with about 10 people up, we wiped, rezzed, and pwned.
I know I normally just focus on 10-man achievements on this blog, but I want to recognise the effort of everyone in that raid: because of our relatively casual style, the “flexible raid lockouts” (please note the inverted commas of sarcasm) hit us fairly hard, as people were forced to choose whether their main and best characters were going to the 10 or 25-man version of ICC. So, 3 weeks ago we found ourselves with a third of a raid in 264s and 277s, and a third barely in 251s as some of the alts were not exactly the top geared ones. Mad props to Malicent, who since April has managed to lead this ragtag band, and to keep both the “hardcore progression” people and the “social/casual/farm content” people happy.
Personally, I know it took me a long time to stop trying to “backseat raid lead”: this is not my 25-man, and it will not always do what I would like to do. In the beginning, I think I tried to have the advantages of raid leadership (influence, deciding what to do, choosing strategies) without the hassle, and it just didn’t work. After a couple of tense moments with Malicent (which we fortunately solved through tells, posts and other relatively private channels), I’d like to think I’m a much more positive contributor to that raid now. I appreciate the fact that Mali took the the time to answer every time I wrote a /rant post, and I think in the end I’ve become a better raider for it.
Going forward, I think I’ll put my weight behind trying to keep the 25-man going in Cataclysm. My “hardcore fix” will always come from the 10-man: the team we have is likely to go further, and we can push towards hard modes, achievements and all the things that frustrate me to no end, but also get my adrenaline going. I believe however that a 25-man raid serves an important function in a guild as a glue that keeps the community going. Once Cata is released, there will be a flurry of activity as people level their mains and alts, gear up in dungeons, do quests and achievements and grinds. After a few months, though, all though will run dry, as it always does, and the main focus will be on raiding. People will log on during different times, because of time differences and schedule and life styles (and the fact we have people in Europe, Australia, and the US…). Without a 25-man to hold us together, I think we will go back to being effectively a group of smaller communities, and this will make us lose something. Beru posted a great collection of ideas about preparing your guild for Cataclysm, and while we are certainly nowhere close to Monolith’s size, I think her post started me thinking about what we can start doing now, so that Cataclysm doesn’t catch us unawares.
27 October 2010 § 2 Comments
After last week’s completely fail raid, I almost dreaded logging on Tsark anymore. Around this time in expansion, my game time on Tsark is basically spent raiding, and the last raid left such a sour taste in my mouth I wasn’t really ready to try the experience again. So no daily Heroic, no Vault, no PvP for Tsark this week: it’s been strictly Headless Horseman farming on several alts, and daily Heroics and daily quests on my Alliance toons (and some levelling, so my Alliance platoon is now starting to look almost acceptable ). Because of the flexible raid lockout (never has name been further from what it designates), of course I had to take someone else to the 25-man, so no Tsark there either – and because our shaman was unavailable on Friday, we did not go back for the rest of the week.
So, today, with a certain dread, we extended the lockout, zoned in, and went straight to the LK.
And it wasn’t as bad.
After three hours, we managed to get into P3 and to 37% health – which is not very far from what we were doing pre-patch. Of course, then we were getting to those percentages consistently, while today we barely managed to get consistently to P2. But it certainly beats our performance last week, by about a gazillion miles. Most importantly, the whole fight felt a lot more under control, which meant that the generalised feeling was that yes, with some work, we could get this done.
Some random observations:
1. I finally managed to get into the new Shield rhythm. I still get a lot of “Spell is not ready yet”, but partly because now I know about it, and partly because I pay more attention, I can handle that. Also, panicking a bit less and watching the general health a bit more, I managed to weave in wome Archangel work, too, mostly for the mana regen.
2. … which we really need, because not being able to proc multiple Rapture at each Infest means we run out of mana like nothing else. Most of our P2 attempts saw me chugging a potion and watching nervously my Shadowfiend and Hymn of Hope cooldown. I may look at some of the Spirit trinkets, or at least undo some of my reforging to get some Spirit back.
3. I also ended up being the plague dispeller – the paladin tank was just too busy to be able to do it reliably. This cut into my Evangelism time, but I can still at least do the Infest shielding, which is the essential part.
4. Boomkins being awesome back up healers is a thing of the past, as their mana regen is so tightly linked to proccing Eclipses that they cannot really sustain anything else. Elemental shamans, instead, seem to have more mana than they could use, so Jahag switched to the back up healing position.
5. I suspect our P2 are a LOT shorter than they were – they certainly feel that way to me, which would make sense with the increased dps of most classes. That means less valkyrs, which is an all around good news of course (we used to get about 4-5 valkyrs, I think, and now we’re closer to 3-4).
So there you have it, things are looking a lot brighter than they were. Now, the problem of course is that we do not have any other raiding scheduled this week (our paladin tank is moving across the US, so he won’t have his stuff before next week), then we will have one good week, then one of our rogues is away for 3 weeks for work… So basically we either kill him next week or almost not at all, as by the end of November I doubt we will keep the focus to do this. The thought is slightly scary…
In other news, on Monday we finally got Earth, Wind & Fire – we had tried it a few times before halfheartedly, and this time we got it with 3-4 pulls, so it was nice (albeit it was anything but a clean kill). On the alt levelling front, my Alliance priest is now Holy and enjoying Chakra immensely. She’s also on her way to Outland (2 more levels), so she is almost ready to get to the Big Leagues. Alliance hunter has reached 40, and of course my mage is now gearing up seriously.
Most importantly, Tessarquia, my SAN shaman, has finally managed to get a shield, which means I can go back to being a shaman with a 1H and a shield, not a stupid staff. Seriously though, 35+ runs of Pit of Saron normal, and nothing to show for it: I sincerely hope itemisation is done a bit more carefully in Cataclysm.
25 May 2010 § 1 Comment
Just as we programmed, we completed Glory of the Icecrown Raider this week, which means we now have 10 frostwyrm mounts! We may need to run some of those achievements this week too, to get Jarbel his mount (he was missing last week, given our regular 11-man roster, and the fact he had been away the previous 3 weeks or so).
The achievements left were actually kinda fun. Full House is crazy towards the end, as you are juggling the adds, the spirits, the D&Ds, the frostbolts and trying not to AoE/cleave the adds to death. The Plagueworks ones are easy. As expected, the really tough one is All You Can Eat. I heard some people are using 3 tanks, and I can see why: the dps check is non-existent anymore (we had 3+ mins spare on our kill), and a third tank really makes transitions a lot easier. As it was, we did not have that luxury, so we were stuck with two tanks who had to transition almost perfectly every single time. The good news is that by now we are getting Sindragosa to P2 after only 2 air phases, so attempts are faster and you hear her voice less.
Our kill attempt was a cliffhanger, because, after 4+ hours of wipes on her total (over two nights), everything was going perfectly until, at around 2% health, our resto/boomkin, Tildie, yelled that her stacks had just ticked over to 6. Of course, it was too late for us to stop, but we somehow still got the achievement. I’m not sure whether there is a time buffer (don’t have 6 stacks for more than x seconds, x being very small) or a “stealth nerf” of the achievement (you cannot have more than 5, but really, it’s more than 6 that makes you fail). Either way, we’re not complaining! I have to say, I have enormous admiration for any raid that manages to pull this achievement off in 25-man: it was crazy enough managing 10 people and their stacks; with 25, it would be absolutely insane.
Now, I’m not exactly looking forward to playing with the Lich King, to be honest…
27 April 2010 § 2 Comments
Shhhhh! Can you hear that? No? Listen harder!
That’s the sound of me jumping up and down with joy at the announcements Blizz made about raid changes. On the very low chance that you haven’t heard about it yet, you can find the original posts here (about raiding and tiers) and here (about badges). Let me give you the main points and my reactions to them – including how that is going to impact my own raid in particular, and some mumblings about raids in general.
10-man and 25-man will drop (almost) the same loot
This is above and beyond what I could ever hope. If you check my previous posts on loot and gear and raids, I always kept as a given the fact that 25-man would drop better quality loot. Now Blizzard, basically out of the blue, tells us that no, really, they will now drop (almost) the same loot. I keep saying almost, because 25-man would drop more loot than 10 – more gold, more items and probably more badges. I assume that is more gold per person, and not just more gold in absolute terms or it would make no sense. The trick here will be balancing how many more items – my estimate is that bosses in 25 should drop about twice as many items as in 10. A straight mathematical equivalence would suggest 2.5 times, but more items become more beneficial also because of more chances to drop the specific item you need, so that should encourage a slight discount. I really don’t care about gold, so I cannot be bothered with more gold going to the 25-man raiders. Badges… eh, I’d prefer if we had an even playing field, but as long as the difference is not TOO big (e.g. the 2 vs 3 badges of ToC), it will be fine – if the difference is 2 vs 5, that may become a problem.
From Blizzard’s point of view, this change means they will need to design a lot less items – in fact, in one fell swoop they cut down in half the number of items they need to design, both in terms of stats and in terms of art. I hope that means we will be getting items with unique art, because let me tell you: it sucks to have a staff off the Lich King 10-man look EXACTLY THE SAME as one from the second boss in 25.
It also means that they can drastically reduce the gear scaling issues through an expansion. During Wrath, we had 9 tiers of gear, in 4 tiers of raiding: 200, 213, 219, 226, 232, 245, 251, 264, 277. Although Blizzard could have reduced that (having Ulduar give 219/226/232, then ToC give 226/232/238 and ICC 232/238/245 would have cut three whole tiers), having each tier of raiding drop one tier of gear means the Cataclysm progression will be something like (normal/hardmode): 300/313 for tier 11, 313/326 for tier 12, 326/339 for tier 13, 339/352 for tier 14, or 5 tiers of gear for 4 tiers of raids (assuming we will still get 4 tiers of raiding). This should make designing Cataclysm easier, as it reduces the inflation of stats we currently witness (my priest is hovering around 40% crit rating self-buffed…)
10-man and 25-man will share lockout
The counterweight to that change is that the two raid formats will share a lockout. Not suprising, given otherwise the double-dipping would make gearing up a breeze for people with time to run both 10-man and 25-man (and we will note later that Blizz seems to be discouraging playing more than a limited amount of time per character).
The obvious consequence is that people will have to choose whether they want to do 10-man or 25-man. Personally, I think I will simply designate my main, Tsark, as a 10-man raider, to keep going with my current group, and then use all my alts to attend the various raids that need me and I can afford to attend. If anything, this may wreck my levelling plans for Cataclysm, as I will probably level a second healer after Tsark to be able to heal in the guild 25-man raid (healing being clearly the role I am better at/enjoy the most). Up until now, I was thinking to do the traditional Tsark – Parocles (miner, needed for too many things) – Torjin – Alteria – Kleraton – Gramlor. I may switch around Alteria and Parocles now, which would mean getting a paladin tank/healer geared up quickly after Tsark. I suspect this change will encourage more people to level multiple alts, to be able to go with different raid groups.
Badges will become point, and decay with each tier
Instead of getting badges, we will get Hero (lower tier) and Valor (higher tier) points – roughly equivalent to the current Triumph and Frost badges respectively. Once a new tier of raiding comes out, your Valor points will get converted to Hero points, and you’ll restart accumulating Valor points. This is an accounting change, if anything – and it will actually make lowest badge/points more valuable as the tiers progress. Currently Emblems of Valor are basically worthless, but with this system, they would (effectively) become as valuable as Emblems of Triumph at our current status. A minor change, but hey, a very slight improvement.
Top points are capped weekly
Blizzard has been stating for a while that they are unhappy with the current system, where the Dungeon Finder daily feels like something people NEED to do, given Frost Emblems are so scarce. Capping the amount of points you can earn per week would mean that you would not want to run Heroics with your raiding toon, as he’s getting his points somewhere else. The devil here is in the amount of the cap: let’s say that a full clear of the 25-man raid gives you 10k points, and a full clear of the 10-man 7k. A limit set below 10k would mean that a raid clearing the current tier of content would have no incentive to even do the raid weekly. At the same time, a raid clearing 10-man content would still want to run Heroics, and still feel like they HAVE to (or, in other words, no change) – so I suspect the limit will be even below that. In other words, we may well go back to the Karazhan days, where badges (or points) are a nice cherry on top, but not really the goal of raiding (sometimes, it feels like the purpose of raiding is much more to get emblems than loot, currently)
Of course, the numbers are totally fictitious, though I do think that the 25-man premium will be around 50%. I think however that this is a place where seeing the actual numbers will change the actual mechanics of the system. I do like the idea that I will not feel like I have to run the weekly, Vault, and the Heroic dailies on all my alts – and can instead spread my attention across characters.
Gating will still be there – but no limited attempts
In principle, I don’t mind this too much – in fact, I like having no limited attempts, though I admit we never used up all our attempts in Icecrown Citadel. They apparently also want to keep the “Heroic mode may not be open from day one, but will become available after defeating normal mode perhaps as little as once or twice.” Please please please, make this a “per-boss” or “per-wing” limitation – in other words, I would have had no problem with having to defeat Saurfang twice before opening up the hardmodes of Lower Spire. I just think that having to clear the WHOLE instance once (or twice!) may frustrate some guilds needlessly. This may be what they have in mind anyway, given their stated preference for more (and smaller) raids per tier, instead of one big one (so the TK+SSC model, rather than ICC).
I can see the value of keeping limited attempts for optional bosses, à la Algalon – brag bosses can have that allure. Again, I would prefer to see a system of limited time or limited attempts but with no additional reward for no wipes/killing the boss in a shorter time frame: the Algalon/ICC model instead of the ToC one, basically.
Where will that leave us? 10-man raiders are rejoicing all over – mostly, because we won’t feel like the bastard child of big raids anymore. Balancing encounters will be easier for Blizzards, given that they can correctly predict what gear people will be in (as opposed to having to think about people being in 10-man or 25-man gear). Also, assuming Blizzard will manage the closer balancing of difficulty, we may finally have an end to the pointless debate of which is harder.
Blizzard has stated that they have not taken a decision about Legendaries/special mounts (e.g. Invincible) yet. It would be nice if 10-man got those too, but I’m trying not to get my hopes too high, and just be happy with what we got.
Our 10-man may see some changing of roster, as some of our raiders will need to choose which alt to bring to 25-man and which to 10-man. I don’t think we will necessarily lose people: assuming they will still play come Cataclysm, it’s not as if their time use would be very different if they play both raids with both character or with 2 characters (admittedly, there is a higher set-up cost to get both alts to level cap, and to keep all sets gemmed/enchanted/etc, but honestly, that seems a very minor issue).
I’ve seen some people predicting that this will spell the end of 25-man raiding. If you follow this blog regularly, you know that I tend not to like these doomsday predictions, and this is no exception. I know very few people who raid both 10-man and 25-man that doesn’t have an alt at max level – so all that it’s going to happen is that people will have two characters, and do both raids in different formats. Will 25-man lose some people? Possibly, but it would be the people who only go there for the easy loot – because let’s admit it, it’s far, FAR easier to carry someone in 25-man than in 10-man (let alone in our 10-man, where Lyshai keeps us all on our toes!). I suspect that by encouraging people to only do what they like most (be that 10-man, 25-man, Heroics, or PvP), we may end up with better players, less stress, and thus a more enjoyable experience.
3 March 2010 § 8 Comments
As you probably know by now, this week Blizzard introduced the “zone buff” they had promised when they previewed ICC. Hellscream’s Warsong (Alliance have a similar buff, but we don’t care about them anyway) increases health, damage and healing by 5% – and there’s future ranks pushing it up to a 30% total increase (that would mean having tanks with 65k+ health…). The most interesting thing was to observe the reaction of people around me.
Most people I talked to welcomed the buff: these are people who raid casually, and are most often strruggling through the Plagueworks on their 25-man, and have been for a few weeks. The buff, for them, is a way to push forward and see the rest of the content. Some of my fellow raiders felt the same – maybe because their 25-man was stuck as well (though normally on Blood Queen or Sindragosa), maybe because they saw this as a chance to move forward on our Lich King attempts. The reaction on the blogosphere has been more cautious. Miss Medicina feels this is a pity buff; Bobturkey feels that it’s too early, and wonders if this will make people wonder if their future progression is thanks to the buff or their effort. Dreambound is more cautious about it, simply regretting not finishing the instance before the buff went live – but the cautiousness may simply be due to her feeling a little sick (get well soon!).
My own reaction has been a study in contradictions. If you’ve read this blog for a while, you may recall I was in favour of the buff. When I read the announcement on various news sites, though, I felt like Ragnaros: TOO SOON, BLIZZARD! Like many of my fellow bloggers have said, no guild has killed the Lich King in Heroic yet (actually, one guild just has, on 10-man – but yeah, not very different), and even the worldwide kills of the Lich King in normal are very limited. On Feathermoon, my realm, only one guild has so far (and they’re on Alliance, did I mention they don’t count?). I also felt a lot of Kae’s disappointment about needing it. At the same time, the lure of finally killing the Lich King that much sooner, and thus start on hard modes, was pretty strong, so I decided to wait one raid and see. We assembled today, decided to forsake the badges of a full clear in favour of working more on the Lich King, extended the raid lockout, and in we went.
Oh boy. What a difference.
We had worked on the Lich King for about 6-7 hours, spread over a few different days. Our best result was getting to P2 and killing the first valkyr. Today, we got to see P3, and one of us went into Frostmourne to help Terenas. So there’s no doubt the buff is working. Do I feel diminished by the fact we got there with a little help from Garrosh? Well, the buff certainly helped us handle P1 faster, and kill the Valkyr consistently in the required time. It did not help us deal with the general mechanics of the fight though: from handling the Necrotic Plague, to moving correctly for Defile, to getting all the adds under control first, dead later. All these mechanics are not trivial, because Defile still wipes you if there’s more than a couple of ticks going, Necrotic Plague still is the only way to kill the P1 adds, and the various adds still kill you if they’re not under control (I should know – I died to them twice in a row today!).
In many ways, the buff is simply relaxing the gear check aspect of the raid – and not changing the actual fun mechanics. Of course, the two things are related: when you overgear an instance dramatically, you can simply ignore some of the mechanics because they don’t matter. Case in point as a sidenote: the weekly this week is Malygos, and the Power Sparks have been totally trivialised by the two additional tiers of gear since we last did it. Clearly, however, we’re not there for ICC. All this is giving you is a bit more leeway to play with: all in all, if this allows more people to progress, see more content, and feel less burnout (and there’s a lot of that going around, apparently: Linedan, Jov, BobTurkey…), then so be it. I’m sure that some of that burnout is not related to raiding and being stuck on bosses – but maybe a small part *is* linked to that, and that’s the thing Blizzard can act upon more easily.
In many ways, I go back to the Sunwell days. Dawn Vigil, my guild, managed to kill Kil’Jaeden before the release of Wrath. We did it because we got extremely lucky. Just as we killed Illidan at the end of August 2008, Blizzard nerfed the hell out of Sunwell, making it possible for us to clear the whole instance in little more than two months. Many raids ahead of us in progression got burned out on “unnerfed” Sunwell, many less progressed never made it there, or stopped at the first couple of bosses. Maybe, if they had introduced a zone-wide buff to Sunwell raiders, more people would have experienced the great relief I felt as Velen re-ignited the Sunwell we had cleared with the help of Kalecgos and Anveena.
And hey, if things get too easy, we still have the option of opting out of the buff!
15 December 2009 § Leave a Comment
Patch 3.3 has been out for a week, and I think it’s safe to say it’s been a resounding succes. The new dungeons are fantastic, mixing some nice lore, great art, fun fights, and good loot – and in the case of Halls of Reflection Heroic, also a fair bit of challenge.
The Dungeon Finder tool is great: queues for dungeons go from negligible if you have a tank in your group to still acceptable if you are a dps. You do find the occasional asshattery (needing on the Frozen Orb in the end is the typical example), and whenever Oculus is the random dungeon I always have people leaving the group (why? It’s been nerfed to hell and back, you can basically sleepwalk through it) – but this changes nothing about the greatness of the system and the fact everyone seems to be doing Heroics, these days. I still need to try the tool out for lower levels, but I hold some high hopes for it still. Because of the Dungeon Finder and the new dungeons I’m actually dusting off some alts I hadn’t used in a long while and gearing them up, relearning how to play them, etc – so bravo, Blizzard.
Icecrown Citadel is a bit more of a mixed bag. I like the fights, and I certainly like the art and atmosphere of the place. As I said in my last post, I would have liked a bit more challenge – which I’m possibly going to find in Heroic but I’ll have to wait months before knowing for sure. And yes, I’m sorry, I’m still grumbling about that, because I cannot believe that Blizzard would get the “select your own difficulty level” thing so right in Ulduar, and so wrong in ToC and Icecrown.
There is however one thing that Blizzard did that left me scratching my head – so of course I’m going to vent about it here. Last Thursday, I went through the new Heroics for the first time on Tsark – and a Battered Hilt dropped. We all rolled, and I won it (which is fairly uncharacteristic: Tsark normally loses most such rolls, unlike some other of my alts – but I digress). So, giddy with excitement, I started up the new questlines, going from one place to another and collecting all the saronite, and the hammer, and forging the weapon, and getting into Sunwell. The questline is really fantastic, and reinforces my idea that crafting your own weapons, or armor, by collecting many different pieces and moving from one place to the next, is really one of the things I like the most in this game (and makes me pine once more for the lack of legendaries in 10-man, but anyway). I finish up the questline, and get my Hammer of Purified Flame. I knew that was an upgrade over my lllumination, so (still giggling to myself and excited), I equipped it – and realised my offhand was really a bit lacklustre. See, I’ve had the Illumination staff for a while now, and before that I was lucky enough to have the Icecore Staff, which dropped on our very first kill of Hodir oh-so-long-ago. So, the only offhand I kept in my bank was an Igniter Rod, which means something about 2-3 tiers behind current content.
That already surprised me, because I’m normally careful to keep my offhand up-to-date even when I’m using a two-hander. I wouldn’t take it over someone who would actually use it straight up, but if there’s one thing that 4+years of raiding have taught me is to stock all sort of alternative gear in your bank – because it’s bound to stop dropping the minute you need it. But hey, we could just have been unlucky and not got any good offhand to drop, right? I jumped onto wowhead, and checked what was available in ToC10/ICC10 – and I got my surprise.
That’s two full tiers of raid instances where Blizzard has decided to put NO offhand at all. Worse actually – they put two offhands, but they both have hit rating, which is a bit of a wasted stat for a healer. Now, in the same two tiers of instances, the 25-man raiders get THREE offhands for healers – and one more with hit! I don’t want to blow this out of proportion: I am now trying to get the offhand from Halls of Reflection, and I can try to get also the one from Onyxia. They are ilvl 232, so will be one-two tiers below top expansion gear (which will be ilvl 258 for me, Heroic 10-man ICC), but I’m sure that’s not going to hold me back. However, it does underline two points for me.
The first is that the mechanism for assigning loot to the various bosses is mysterious and (in my humble opinion) in need of fixing.I know of raiders who would prefer to focus on 25-man who had to farm Razorscale 10 for the Eye of the Broodmother. The paladin tank in my raid was complaining about the Ulduar10 gear being badly itemised for his tank – and had to resort to going to 25-man to gear up. Offhands for priests have been conspicuously missing in not one, but two consecutive tiers of raiding. The proposal I made for re-distributing loot along different lines would partially solve this – but really, this shouldn’t be needed. I’m surprised that the game developers haven’t seen these holes in the loot tables – and I suspect there may be other considerations at play, which I don’t know and cannot guess.
The second, and more general point, is that Blizzard still hasn’t decided what 10-man raiding should be. Is it something to do on a non-raiding night? You get 10 people together with your friends list, and just hit whatever instance is the current one, and get some gear. Is it something for casuals? People who really don’t want to spend a lot of time wiping to bosses, because this is a game: they just want to relax, chat with friends, get some purple pixels. Or, is it a full progression path? A way for people who prefer playing with tighter groups, who enjoy multi-tasking more to experience some endgame challenges and problemsolving.
Clearly, what I would like to see is the development of this latter option. I don’t want to deny the casuals their raids – but to me, that’s what normal modes are for. Normal modes are fantastic to gear up alts, and to literally get 10-people together at the last minute and hit an instance, and relax for a while. For all the fault of Trial of the Crusader, it was nice to be able to bring alts through it without having to be prepared and super-geared (and I admit that the shortness of Trial of the Crusader helped too: even a group of alts wiping a few times would get through the place in a couple of hours).
Right now, 10-man hardmodes are somehow stuck-in-the-middle. They are beyond the reach of a casual group, who doesn’t want to invest the time needed to master them. However, they still don’t offer a full progression path to “hardcore raiders” (assuming I want to call myself that): there are still slots that you need to fill with 25-man gear, and you still cannot get the excitement that comes from creating legendary weapons. All the same, you still see achievements that seem to encourage you to use 10-man as an exclusive path.
My guess is that Blizzard is still unsure about how to treat 10-man raiding. That’s (of course) quite alright – in primis because 10-man raiding is new, and so Blizz developers are still experimenting with it a lot. Although 10-mans started in BC, they were little more than stepping stones (Karazhan) or catch-up raids (Zul’Aman) then, and certainly not a full-fledged progression path. Wrath fleshed out the concept a bit more, but I think the developers have not yet had the courage to go full speed on it, and let 10-man stand on their own two feet. I would love to know more about their process, and whether we are going to see the 10-man concept develop further for Cataclysm. Part of it, of course, depends on how many players are currently “hardcore 10man” raiders – this is data that Blizz could easily have, for example checking how many players have a fair amount of hardmode 10-man achievements but little or no 25-man (most people I know will go along to a 25-man, and so have the “instance completed” achievements, but little more). I would love to have some developer input on this, but I’m really not sure about how to grab their attention (and this is hardly something that I can condense down to a 2-line question to submit to the developers…).
11 December 2009 § Leave a Comment
Less than one raiding night.
That’s how long it took us to clear the new content. Four bosses, down in less than 3 hours – all of them have been 2-shots, where basically we did the first attempt to figure out the various abilities and to translate the strategies and videos into actual visual (and auditory) cues about what is going on, and then the second attempt to execute the strategy. That means, of course, that we’re now back to where we were before – with all content cleared, and nothing new to look forward to for quite some time.
Now, let me make one thing clear: I think Icecrown Citadel is GREAT. The fights are a lot of fun, there’s a good amount of trash (5-6 pulls before the bosses), the atmosphere (room art, mob models, music) is perfect. The patch in general is fun: the LFG tool is great and although Halls of Reflection is quite challenging for PUGs I think it’s a really nice instance. The problem, once again, is the gating system. In fact, I really think the problem is the double gating: the fact that you cannot get to the end bosses, and you cannot even try hard modes on the bosses available.
As much as I hold my raid in the highest esteem, I don’t think we’re the best players around. We’re good, we’re pretty coordinated, we tend not to die too much to fires. But really, two-shotting bosses doesn’t really mean that there’s a challenge – and if there’s no challenge, then our enjoyment of the instance will be lessened quite dramatically. I don’t begrudge Blizzard the choice to make normal modes very easy. I simply would like the option to do more difficult stuff – even just allowing hard modes for the four bosses available would improve things dramatically.
9 December 2009 § 2 Comments
Here I was, all excited about the new patch, and then, I got hit with a double whammy. First, the instance servers are down for the Cyclone battlegroup. This one boggles me: Blizzard launches a patch with 3 new 5-mans, 2 new raids, a new awesome-looking tool to find instance groups more easily – and then they fail to account for the increased load this will put on their own instance servers. Face, meet my palm.
Then, as we decided to give up until tomorrow (counting a lot on the restart that’s gonna happen at 5am), I read this. TWENTY-EIGHT DAYS? Are you out of your friggin’ minds? Now, I don’t know how hard the new encounters are, so maybe (hopefully) we will need more than one week to get through them all. But seriously, keeping Arthas until April? That’s gonna burn everyone on ICC, even before we get to the final boss. That really doesn’t seem like a smart strategy. I’m really trying not to whine, I want to give Blizzard the benefit of the doubt because they have proven me wrong time and again. I have to admit, though, this doesn’t look good….