Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Raiding thoughts at the end of TBC

My guild is doing a farewell tour of Burning Crusade raid dungeons, including places we haven't been to yet. So I had the opportunity to visit the Black Temple for the first time. We killed 4 bosses, each on the first try, of which the third and fourth boss were "guild firsts". The third boss, Shade of Akama, was so easy after the recent nerf that he dropped dead before we had really started. The fourth boss was a bit harder, but we managed very well, and he dropped a robe for my priest. So now I'm running around in a fancy BT robe, which wasn't a huge upgrade for me, but looks a lot nicer.

I wonder why exactly Blizzard made raiding so much easier, so late in TBC. Just to give everyone the chance to see the places he couldn't visit before? I'm all for accessible raiding, but isn't it a bit late for this? Furthermore, while I think that Karazhan 3.0 is about as difficult as a starting raid dungeon should be, Black Temple 3.0 is too easy for a end raid dungeon. If raid dungeons had been this way all the time in TBC, most guilds would have finished Black Temple and then Sunwell Plateau long ago. Guilds generally shouldn't be able to one-shot a new boss the first time they see him. I'm not saying that wiping 10 times is fun, but wiping once or twice before learning the encounter heightens the achievement of finally beating the boss.

This close to WotLK I obviously wasn't raiding for the gear. It was nice that I could get that robe because nobody else wanted it, but in this case it wasn't gear that was needed to advance further. Gear will be more important when Wrath of the Lich King raiding starts. What worries me a bit is that in our raid we had 5 priests and 7 mages, and due to the changes of spellpower we all needed the exactly same gear. I'll be competing for gear with every other priest, mage, or warlock, because there isn't anything like "cloth healing gear" any more. I hope Blizzard considered that when itemizing those new raid dungeons.

The hardcore raiders often talk of raids being all about "skill checks", or even "idiot checks". But if every guild suddenly gets much further in the raid circuit after the nerf, it proves that much of the raid difficulty is strictly numerical. The bosses all still have all of their abilities, they just have 30% less health. So if guild which couldn't kill them before now can kill them, it is hard to argue that these guilds suddenly acquired a lot more skill, or that they were "idiots" before to not be able to kill that boss. One good example for a pure gear check is the first boss in Black Temple, who hits the whole raid for 8,500 damage. If you don't have 8,500 health, there is nothing you could do, you simply need the gear with the stamina that gives you enough health to survive. Of course there are other cases where you can compensate lack of gear by playing better. But I haven't seen any encounter yet which can't be made trivially easy by being much overgeared.

And as outleveling and outgearing a raid dungeon makes it trivially easy, this is also why the proposal to train raiding in raid dungeons 10 levels below you can't possibly work. That is why the initial raid dungeon has to be easy enough to train average player in raiding, without completely frustrating them. I certainly don't expect to clean out Naxxramas on the first try, wearing still green quest armor. But a casual raiding guild with people in blue gear should at least be able to down some bosses after a few tries, gear up by that, and then slowly advance further. Later raid dungeons can then be harder, and I don't mind if the last raid dungeon in WotLK will be as hard as Sunwell Plateau before the nerf. There should be raid content that is challenging for many different types of players, not only casual or only hardcore. The important thing is to get people into raiding in the first place, even for those who won't be able to raid several nights per week, so that they can develop from there. We'll soon see whether Wrath of the Lich King manages that trick.
It's not just that the mobs have 30% less hp, it's that people have been doing a lot more dps as well, and that tanks can round up every mob into a big pile and they can be aoe'd into the ground.

Previously you would have to mark up all the mobs and have them sheeped/sleeped/banished/off-tanked, and the mobs dealt with one at a time.

The fact is you can now burn Hydross down in about a minute, and don't even have to worry about his various ice/nature phases - so there has to be a lot more going on than just a loss of 30% hp.

For once I am in agreement with you in a raiding thread.

I have no problem with easy starter raids, but there should still be hard raids for those who want to do them.
it is not just about numbers.
the thing is to keep up conentration over time and to avoid mistakes.

in a bossfight that lasts 6 minutes (e.g. brutallus) until enrage, the loss of a damage-dealer is killing you.

now after the patch we downed brutallus in less than 3 minutes. compensation of a dead player is no problem then.

as a healer you have no manaproblems in shorter fights and you can spam big heals instead of manage your regeneration and wait for the right moment. same for a dd i think.

it's not just equip and numbers. if fights last long enough, timing, positioning and reacting in the right moment do definitly play huge roles...and this is what raiders call "skill" mostly

there are more examples like these showing that co called "skill" is not necessary in the same quantity anymore after the last patch... at least when it comes to the (now)old raid dungeons

...for wotlk this will be another story
Actually.. the first parts of Black Temple and Hyjal have always been walks in the park compared to Lady Vashj and especially Kael'thas. It wasn't uncommon that a guild that managed to kill those T5 gatekeepers got several guild-first kills on their next raid.
I always saw raiding (or at least raid boss encounters) in WoW as less of a skill check and more of an organizational check. The only challenging task in raiding is getting everyone synchronized.

Then it's down to "stand on the X, or avoid the X, or don't stand on the X or you'll die, and mash your 3 and 5 keys" or whatever the specific strat calls for.

The rest does come down to gear numerics. And the ability to not be mindnumbingly bored by the process.

I got burnt with TBC around the launch of Sunwell, so I never raided there, but the 5-man seemed to be throwing in a little more diversity and randomness which hopefully is reflected in WoTLK.
Raiding right now is a joke. You see tons of people who now see the chance to grab T6 loot before WOTLK. Nothing wrong with that, but now even Vashj and Kael'thas can simply be steamrolled. They were harder than Illidan and BT actually, I killed Illidan and other BT bosses WAY before Kael'thas (!)

Thanks GoD WOTLK is out tomorrow. The mindless Seed of Corruption spam on the mobs around a T6 Tankadin everywhere turned the challenge of a raid into a random farm- and lootfest.

They also nerfed classic content after/before TBC, it did not feel right that I could solo mobs where whole groups had to struggle.

They also made Hogger a shade of its former self. Come on, Hoggerraid... the guy can be soloed easily by a totally unexperienced player nowadays. Much less fun than the old Hogger who was really a foe worth his salt.

Downtuning is okay, they just make things idiot proof easy, it is not okay IMO.
The hardcore raiders often talk of raids being all about "skill checks", or even "idiot checks". But if every guild suddenly gets much further in the raid circuit after the nerf, it proves that much of the raid difficulty is strictly numerical. The bosses all still have all of their abilities, they just have 30% less health.

Less health means you don't even meet up with many of the special abilities.

With more health you face more abilities and you get the stress of running out of consumables, cooldowns, mana, etc.
Long time reader, first time poster, this was a nice post, and you describe just what happened to me two days ago, only difference being we only got 3 bosses down because people had to leave. I find it great that Blizzard has "opened the gates" so to say on raiding for the last few weeks, but I disagree that it was too late. I can always go steamroll the place at 80 just to have seen the fights and marvel at how hard it must've been at the appropriate level, like I some times do with old vanilla raids.

I have to agree with yane though on the "skill check" part, I can't see your argument about bosses just being "skill checks" as valid because what if the nerf consisted of removing the skill check? Granted, this is not what happened this time, but it happened before, Magtheridon being the prime example. But then I don't think "skill check" is an appropriate term, most so-called "skill checks" are things first-graders can easily do and understand. In my experience it's more about attitude than skill, and no amount of nerfs (not counting making bosses pure tank and spank, something I'm against) can change that.
Today is a day dedicated to World of Warcraft. Midnight tonight is the opening of a new expansion that will bring two years of hate posts, happy posts, raiding quibbles, angry bloggers and tons of downtime to our servers.

Midnight marks the end of an era for Burning Crusade, with 60% of the bloggers that hate it so much never even trying it or attempting to run a single five man or ten man. I myself never saw more than one 25 man raid. Mainly because I quit and was left feeling sorry for myself, exactly what a lot of bloggers do when they level cap and pout. Not this time. You have to work in any MMO at the end game. if you don’t want to, then simply do not bitch about it.
We we're able to down Naj' without any knowledge of what we had to do on our first try. That's not right end game raids such as BT did NOT need to be nurfed.

One fight however that kicked our faces in was Archimonde, you can't nurf retards that still can't click their PvP trinkets so they don't run into the fire or to click their tears to slow fall.

Some fights, nurfed or not will still prove challenging.

The only thing patch 3.0 did was to let bad players believe they are better than they are. We have a tank who couldn't hold aggro on multiple targets pre-3.0 but now thinks he's god's gift to tanking because it's become ez-mode.

I told that tank... "You've been buffed to the hills and the content has been nurfed. You're skills have not changed overnight."

I guess all of this won't matter at all in a few days.

P.S I really need to register for an account, this anonymous crap sucks. :-) lol

So you are a tourist then? I know you got kind of bent out of shape when you were called one by your guild mates but it seems that you have taken to that role nicely.

It's hard to judge the difficulty of even 3.0 Kara since players also vastly overgear the place. You would have to find a group of fresh 70s in questing blues and a few 5 man blues and possibly a heroic epic or two in order to test how it is tuned. 3.0 combined with badge gear and arena 2-4 gear gives a very skewed view of boss fights. Most fights in Kara and T5 are simple tank and spank encounters and you can largely ignore boss abilities. I am not sure why even the most casual players can enjoy such simplistic boss fights.

Bad players are bad because they are bad and not because of poor boss encounter design.
"The hardcore raiders often talk of raids being all about "skill checks", or even "idiot checks". But if every guild suddenly gets much further in the raid circuit after the nerf, it proves that much of the raid difficulty is strictly numerical. The bosses all still have all of their abilities, they just have 30% less health."

That is completely wrong. Many patches have brought in sucessive nerfs and changes to boss abilities to make them easier.

The Gruul you see today is a shadow of his former self.
"But a casual raiding guild with people in blue gear should at least be able to down some bosses after a few tries, gear up by that, and then slowly advance further"

You are describing what has always existed, even before the nerf patch.
I agree with the people who are saying it's a lot more than a 30% health decrease, although that's part of why everything is easier. But combine that with the increased dps and tank threat and fights are easier. And it was a lot of fun for a brief change.

But if fights were like that in for all of TBC, they would quickly lose their challenge and allure. Most of the skill portions of the fight (the raid dance, I think of it) were effectively eliminated, because they could be burned through/healed through/ignored. And as somebody else mentioned, with DPS being so much more dramatic and hps less, you needed less people not doing stupid things (standing in fire!) in order to win. It's not that it takes a LOT of skill to move out of fire, but there are some people who never learn. This time if they died, we don't miss their DPS.
I personally am excited to see the status of the "10 man versions" of the raids. I have no desire to do a really challenging raid, I just want to run through quick, see the content and get some gear. Wiping a bunch of times and taking months to build up to be able to defeat one boss isnt my idea of fun.
I dont know why you're making any comments about raiding based on the nerf raids in TBC. They're irrelevant, and any comments/thought based upon their existance is pointless. They were created because Blizzard decided (unofficially) to end TBC a month before Wrath. Give ppl chance to play with new talents, understand new stat priorities, do some research, and yes, go for fun romps through instances they'll never see again. It was a really cool idea, its been very successful, and the timing was just about right. When, as you say, everyone and their mother is killing illidan these days... well, a month of that was just about enough. I'm ready to play a a challenging game again.
Tobold, I have a disagreement with your post.

How easy raiding is now doesn't really prove that most of the difficulty was numerical.

It is true that many people who couldn't clear these places before were good players, but were only held back by inability to get the necessary gear (due to scheduling or whatever).

BUT, these instances can now be cleared by "idiots". They can bypass the "idiot checks" simply because the encounters are so much shorter (30% health AND double dps from new rogue went from 1100 on bosses to 2200 overnight with the patch), and healing/tanking are so much stronger, and the bosses do less damage.

Being in a casual raiding guild myself, which did limited 25 mans before the patch, but cleared almost all of Black Temple for the first time this week, filling out the raid with unknown pugs, I think I have a good perspective on this.

My raid group is made up of about 2/3 very skilled raiders. We earned an Amani Bear Mount without a single piece of tier 6 in the raid, for instance. We are good.

The other 1/3 of my raid group is casual friends who can't step out of a volcano/charred earth/blizzard if their life depended on it (which, virtually, it does). Their dps or healing is poor, they die constantly, and they hold up the raid by not paying attention or knowing what they are supposed to be doing or even where they are.

Our 10-man elite group could do any encounter in the game if it were only 10 man. Our 25 man group was severely limited because 18 of us were carrying the other 7.

But in new 3.0 raiding, we can kill the boss before the other 7 become a factor, essentially ten-manning it.

Take Gorefiend for example (likely the 4th boss your fought in BT). The people who get turned into ghosts have to kill some constructs before they hurt the raid. If our raiders get transformed, they kill theirs quickly, then help with others. If our weak players get transformed, we end up with a raid full of unkillable constructs ripping up our healers. If the boss lasted his normal duration, there is no way we could win that way. But because he dies twice as fast, we can actually dps him down before the constructs can kill us all. Members of our raid can completely suck, and we still win. And we in no way deserve it.

Don't get me wrong, I'm really glad that Blizz is giving us all an opportunity to see all this content! I just disagree with you that it is purely a numbers game (though obviously it has a ton of influence). The reduction in the numbers only allows us to cheat the strategy, or ignore strategy altogether.
I'm inclined to think there could have been a more middle ground approach instead of just complete gutting of raid difficulty.

While I do think it's a good idea to allow guilds stuck in Kara to see t5 and t6, I think it would have been nice to keep the big lore bosses, namely Kael, Vashj, Archi, and Illy-D unnerfed. To me, most of the prestige comes from killing the last boss, so this would allow more raids to see more, but still not feel like the game just ganked.
WoW doesn’t take a ton of skill but there are skills to be had. And numbers will always have a lot to do with skill.

Let’s take Nascar for example. I mean at the end of the day that is all about numbers. To qualify for a race you have to average a certain speed for a certain amount of time. By that definition I can drive as well as Jeff Gordon because we both can drive a car 60 miles an hour on the highway?

This has nothing to do with casual or hardcore, it has to do with skill, experience and preparedness. Here are the basics of raiding effectively:

A good raider brings consumables . . . always. This takes zero skills, but is truly startling how many players come unprepared and tell me a boss is too hard. It’s like playing SMB and not picking up the mushroom or flower and then whining cause Bowser one-shot you.

A good raider learns from their mistakes. If you stand in the fire and die, then you make a point to watch out for it in the future. Gruul’s shatter is a perfect example of this, and easily 1/3rd of PUGs I have ever been in some dude will follow me into shatter (extra stupid points to the mage who blinked to me in the last second).

A good raider uses DPS and Heal charts as a tool to evaluate and optimize their performance, not as a scoreboard. To go back to the Nascar thing this is the little things like the “speed” of your tires, where you start turns and drafting all for that little edge.

I can agree that nerfs are sometimes justified .Early on it was too hard to enter 25 man raiding, and gear was nonexistent. Original Gruul needed ridiculous amounts of consumables and still boiled down to a little luck (say he dropped 6-7 cave-ins on melee to start . . .GG). Kael was also justifiably nerfed after a significant period.

The current level of nerfing is absurd though. Gear is so prevalent and yet Kara (which IMO was the best overall designed raid instance in BC) is now a complete joke. I have been in a PUG since the 3.0 patch where blue and S2 geared folks downed Moroes without CC and Curator before the first Evocate. Uhmm, that goes against the fundamental design of those encounters.

They might as well have you click a button X amount of times to view a slideshow of Kara mobs and bosses, and then move to the loot.

These level of nerfs cater to the sea of bad players that infest this game now.
I just started using a private server with the intention of visiting all the instances and raid content after level 34 (scarlet monestary). Which is as far as i got before i grew tired of WoW. The server lets you go to 70 in a few minutes and get T6 raid gear and legendary weapons for free (along with insanely powerful modded gear). As I have never even been to outland, i couldn't even find the portal, when i figured out it was in badlands, i travelled that way and stumbled on Uldaman. I walked through it, it wasn't much fun (obviously) but i realised that I have missed much that would have been heaps of fun if i went there legitimately. The reason i left WoW is because for the life of me, i could not get a SM group going. Which instances/raids are particularily good for tourists?
The early talents and boss nerfs were a master stroke by Blizzard. At a time where average raiding groups have been struggling for 2 years to make it through the content, still haven't finished it, and are more than a little burnt out and disappointed by their progress, Blizzard suddenly make it easier. For a few weeks we don't have to struggle anymore, we can have some amazing fun with our OP talents, and kill a few more bosses we thought we would never see. Obviously it will lose it's appeal soon, and will end with WotLK anyway, but it has accomplished it's goal of taking the pressure off, getting everyone relaxed, and injecting some much needed fun. Blizzard want people refreshed going into WotLK, not tired, bitter, and disappointed. 1, 2, 3 months ago I was wondering if I would buy WotLK... Now I'm considering going to a midnight launch!

Clever work, Blizzard. Onwards and upwards!
With the release of WoLTK, does this mean the raids currently in existence will not be accessible? Probably a complete Noob question but I only started playing WoW about 2 months ago. It would be disappointing to not have the opportunity to try the current raids in some way/form in the future.
My point is that there are a lot of people out there who are casual raiders, but not "tourists". Me, I do come with flasks, food buffs, and everything prepared for the raid, having read up on bosskillers about the encounters, even having a laptop with the relevant information open next to the main computer. I do know how to play my class in raids, can react correctly to various boss abilities, and are usually one of the last people to die in a wipe.

Nevertheless I didn't get far in WotLK because of the sheer number of total hour required to get to places like Sunwell Plateau. Every raid dungeon you need to visit 20 times or more before everyone is well equipped for the next one. If you raid 5 times per week, that is just 4 weeks. If you raid once per week, it takes you over 4 months!

That has nothing to do with skill, you simply must spend X hours to gear up, and if you don't spend enough hours per week, it just takes forever. I challenge anyone who comes here telling how great a raider he is to try raiding through WotLK at only one raid per week.
Nevertheless I didn't get far in WotLK because of the sheer number of total hour required to get to places like Sunwell Plateau. Every raid dungeon you need to visit 20 times or more before everyone is well equipped for the next one. If you raid 5 times per week, that is just 4 weeks. If you raid once per week, it takes you over 4 months!
You're forgetting the reset timers. Raiding five times per week doesn't help much if everything's already dead in raids 3, 4 and 5. It's about the quality of time, not the quantity.
"But I haven't seen any encounter yet which can't be made trivially easy by being much overgeared."

If you stand in the fire and die, it's doesn't matter what the boss health is.

Some players can not master moblitiy, or are simple target focus and unaware of looming danger behind them.
"I challenge anyone who comes here telling how great a raider he is to try raiding through WotLK at only one raid per week."

Twice a week on pvp server: 7pm to 11pm.

First enter kara in October 2007.

We're raiding Hyjal pre 3.02

Downed Illian first week of November 2008.

Not saying I'm/we're the greatest. But it can be done as a casual guild.
Raiding is always about your skill compared to your gear stats and boss nerf. And yes, it's totally numerical. Everyone, even most casual players can learn the fight(positionning, moving, tactics, ...), but not everyone can learn to play the class he/she's playing. You can have 2 mages in raid with same gear, talents, group and alive till the end but the dps gap between them if like 40%. That's the skill we're talking about.
Gear checks are just time sinks that blizz use to compensate the lack of content.
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