Tobold's Blog
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Emblems of Valor

Quite a lot of people are apparently disappointed about the announcement that Ulduar-10 will drop Emblems of Valor, and except for some class-specific off-hand items, there will be nothing new you can buy with those. Me, I'm not surprised, I saw that one coming. Blizzard didn't want people stockpiling Emblems of Valor and buying T8 gear with them, players will need the new Emblems of Conquest from Ulduar-25 for that. Which means that guilds that never get 25-man groups together, can progress from Heroism to Valor by doing just 10-mans.

Of course if somebody already did a lot of Naxx-25, he'll be swimming in Emblems of Valor. Me, I bought some boots for those emblems, but have no use for the 33 of them I still have. The "valorous" pants and shoulders I got as drops, and the wrist, ring, and cloak are about as good as what I'm already wearing. I'll probably end up exchanging some Emblems of Valor for Emblems of Heroism, to buy the last heirloom item (trinket) my low-level druid doesn't have yet.

While I'm totally okay with Blizzard not wanting to hand out iLevel 226 items for Emblems of Valor, I *do* wish they'd introduce a wider selection of iLevel 213 items for them. There are several slots you simply can't buy anything for, and of course Murphy's Law dictates that it is exactly those slots where you are unlucky with loot drops.
I'm beginning to wonder if Blizzard is using what they've learned from previous patches/expansions, in determining how gear progression will be handled between 3.1 and when Arthas is unleashed. They open raiding wide open to the casual crowd with WOTLK and the ease of obtaining gear, and then they announce something like this. The more important topic in my mind after reading this: Could the hardcore crowds signal to noise ratio on the PTR forums, and elsewhere, be substantial enough to be warranting these type of changes?
Yup, the Ulduar-10 badges are effectively worthless (although I guess you could buy BoE bracers and sell them for people's alts).
So people did really expect that they can go shopping Ulduar gear with their old emblems? Interesting theory that a supposedly casual-hating hardcore crowd is responsibly for this natural progression. Tobold already pointed out an advantage, guilds that had troubles with 25-man raids can now get Emblems of Valor in 10-mans. They could also have introduced a new tier of emblems/badges, two new types, but I think their current solution is by far the more casual-friendly.
iLevel 213 gear is not useless for people who have been running exclusively 10 mans. The problem with Blizzards plan is that naxx 25 was puggable, not that they're trying to overlap loot. They already seem to have had a reaction to the fact it was puggable by dropping ilevel 219 instead of 213 in the instance.
The recent dissatisfaction with this is simply part of a wider unhappiness that 10 mans drop worse loot than 25s without being easier.
If anyone actually believed that 10 mans and 25 mans are the same difficulty, there would be no complaining and everyone could just choose to do 25 man content, for better gear. It'd be a no-brainer.

The fact that everyone is complaining about how they'll be "forced" to do 25 mans tells you right there that they're harder. Of course they're harder. Organizing 25 people is a pain in the ass that people wouldn't bother with if it didn't have better rewards.

I'm with you, Betty. This is good design that's only annoying to people because they've developed a sense of entitlement by running naxx 25 so easily. If 10s and 25s were really more separate paths, then those 10ers would not have access to the emblems that were previously off limits. This would be especially good if it provided a leg up for people who had ton naxx 10 to now do uld 10 and get good enough badge gear to survive naxx 25 and move up to the 25er track. I'm not sure if the item levels of drops verus badges are set up that way, but it would make sense to do it that way.

blah. "then those 10ers would not have access" should be "then those 10ers would NOW have access"
That the hard part of a 25 man raid is to get 25 people together, while 10 man raids are often deemed to be more difficult to play feels wrong.
The problem is that most players prefer the path of least resistance, so that if 10man and 25man raids dropped the same quality loot nobody would bother doing the 25man versions. Not only does it take less time to gather 10 people, there are also less people to share loot with.

I blame the game's huge focus on gear for this. Maybe if WoW wasn't completely about the quality of what you're wearing you could make 25man raids be harder...
That's idiotic, Mike. Organizing a 25 man raid is only harder for the 1 or 2 raid leaders then everyone else coasts along and gets better loot more easily than in 10 man. And in any case, "difficult organizationally" =/= "difficult gameplay". The gameplay in 25 man is generally easier than in 10 man since you can more easily carry a slacker or two in 25 man so you don't really have to play your best.

This is really just another piece of the "no, 10 man isn't really a separate progression path, screw you casuals, why'd you believe us?" from Blizzard. They should have added new badges for BOTH 10 and 25 man Ulduar. Let both of them be traded in for any of the lower badges so someone running 10 man Ulduar could still buy something he wanted with Badges of Valor but folks who stockpiled Valors wouldn't get Ulduar 10 level loot.

This is an obvious fix but Blizzard didn't bother. It's a shame they can't bring themselves to REALLY make 10 man a viable independent progression path.
This comment has been removed by the author.
What is starting to REALLY REALLY get on my nerves is when people are like "it torques me that 25man Naxx is easier than 10man but gives better loot."

It's true! It is easier and gives better loot and it should not be so, but even Ghostcrawler has admitted that they flubbed up on the difficulty on Naxx 25man and that it should be more difficult in general, so they're trying to fix the difficulty levels of Ulduar. The line of thought "25man Naxx was easier than 10man Naxx, so it will be that way for other raids they're making" is not true, especially since Blizzard has admitted they dropped the ball there.

The only reason a raider who could only do 10man would have Emblems of Valor is because they pugged 25man content already, otherwise the introduction of 10man Ulduar would be a way for that 10man raider to get badges he had never gotten before. In other words, the way they have the badges set up now is trying to put 10man raiding and 25man raiding on separate progression paths but with the 10man one step behind in terms of loot.
I just want to know what I'm supposed to do with all of the badges of valor I have right now collecting dust.

Buy PvP gear, buy the BoE bracers and sell them, or downrank them to emblems of heroism and buy frozen orbs/gems.
I'm honestly a bit bewildered about all the claims that Naxx-25 is easier than Naxx-10. I never found it so. It's hard to compare, obviously, since both are so easy, but 10-man I always found _laughably_ easy. e.g. we had no troubles running it 8-man, picking up various other achievements as well as the Dedicated Few, AND were only one stupid Heigan dance death away from getting the Undying, in the same run. Certainly I've never found 25 to be quite THAT trivial.

The only fight I've encountered in WotLK that was harder on 10-man was Sarth-3D. Still haven't beaten that on 10's, just 25's. :-(

Ha! What in the world do you think the gameplay of a 25 man raid is, if not for organization? The only real resource MMO players have is time. If something takes a lot of time, it is harder and needs to have better rewards. Period. Even player skill is really just a measure of time spent, which is why it's hilarious when players get mad at mechanics that reward "unskilled" players for merely spending time.

Individual players don't do anything harder in 25s than they do in 10s, or 5s, or solo content. The whole point is that what the group has to do is harder. If you think 25s aren't harder than 10s, then you also think 5s are just as valid for raiding rewards. Because of course those are just the same too, right? I demand a solo instance with raiding-level rewards, because number of players doesn't make the raid harder!

Hahaha wait a minute, why am I even responding to this? When you want to start thinking like a designer instead a of a poor little 10s player whose feelings have been hurt by the mean ol' devs, let me know.

Wow Mike, you're *still* being idiotic. Individual players have a FAR easier job in 25s than in 10s because there are so many more of them to pick up the slack for each other. In 10s there's relatively less room for error (I am not denying that both 10s and 25s are pretty darn easy, in general). And OF COURSE heroic 5s are far easier than either 10s or 25s (yes there are fewer folks but they're tuned to be so much easier).

25s also do not take appreciably more time than 10s so that argument is stupid too.

I just don't see why the 23 players in a 25 raid that work LESS hard than the people in a 10 raid should get better loot. It's silly.
Personally I find 10 man raids easier. But that's likely due to who I go with and what role I play (generic dps, so it's the snorefest of pushing 2-3 buttons repetitively until a boss is dead).

@Brent: You argue that 25 mans are easier as there's more people to pickup the slack of people not doing their job. Well how do you think the people who are picking up the slack feel? If you take 10 people like that then they blitz through 10 man content without a problem, adding 15 slackers to the mix just makes 25 man harder. The fact that one DPS is doing 6k dps is not an excuse for another to do 2k.

I don't disagree with the fact that the content is tuned wrongly, both 10 and 25 naxx are currently too forgiving, more so then karazhan was at this stage in its life.

We need more fights like razorgore, where you split people up into smaller groups to ensure that everyone is performing to a minimum standard. The ability to carry people should not be an option.

As DPS i'd love to see a boss who requires a minimum dps per player, not a minimum average dps but a "if you don't reach this goal personally you're gonna explode" type thing. Sure it's a gear check but it's also a skill check, some people just aren't able to do what their gear is capable of. I'm sure similar boss concepts could be thought up for tanking/healing.

Until you (significantly) overgear an instance you shouldn't be carrying people, nor should you be suceeding if a few people die (early).
Wow, thanks for pointing out my idiocy yet again! It's all so clear to me now. My design team has been looking everywhere for the kind of specialist who can throw around insults in an effort to distract people from their unsound arguments. Hows's 200k a year sound?

I can see you're a plucky little guy though, so I'm going to help you out. Here's some homework for you:

1)Think about how valid your argument would be if naxx 25 hadn't been made so easy.
2)25s absolutely have to give better rewards than 10s. Think of 3 reasons why this is. Bonus points for 5!
3)What is it about a badly-designed 25 that makes it seem easier than a 10?
4)How could these problems be corrected in naxx 25 so that it would be worth the rewards mandated by the reasons you thought of in #2? If you get stuck, look at Betty's post above for some ideas!
5)Bonus question: You don't believe that Blizzard made Naxx so easy by accident, do you? Think of 3 reasons why a bunch of experienced game designers would purposely make raid content that's "too easy."

[dance montage]

Now you're doing it! It's the Game Design Shuffle!

There's nothing wrong with their progress, but, unlike most bloggers and forum posters, I actually find raiding to be hard, simply from an organizational stand point. Everyone I try to recruit only wants to go with people who have gone, and since they've pugged it already they feel that if you don't know the raid, then it will fail, and it's no fun. So the biggest problem I've had is getting people willing to try this as a brand new thing.

As for individual performance in a raid, raids are a group effort, so I have no problem with 10man being different from 25man, BUT if that's the case, make the mechanics of the fight be hard, and make the damage mitigation easier. I'm having so much trouble getting a tank that's hasn't raided to survive Anubarak (or whatever the bastard bug's name is). People who die in whirlwinds and lava waves are either bad or lagging.

Thing is, that Valor should have an emblem dump, the way heroism does (with the Frozen Orbs). And Conquest should have an emblem dump into Valor.

Raiding isn't really that easy for those like me who came to the game late, and have never raided before. Especially when trying to figure out why a tank is dying, or how to pull a particular room. I don't want to just read the strategies, since they only help so much, but I want to learn the skill that lets me develop those strategies. Maybe that's why it's harder for me, I actually want to improve. Peace.
If the rewards of completing and farming 10 man raids are good enough to complete and farm 10 man content what's there to worry about?

Epeen? Because you're not doing 25 man either way, are you? Maybe you would like to but then 10man gear should be enough to start raiding 25 man without trivializing the fights, of course.

Or do you want a gradually easier job killing the same 10 man bosses? Careful with the answer here. It's a tricky one. :)
It's funny, Naxx40 was ungodly tuned. It separated the true hardcore from the fauxcore guilds like mine. Of course, 99% of the people kicking over the loot pinatas in Naxx25 never saw it. So many people complaining about how impossible it was to get 39 other people on the same page, so Blizz brought it down to 25. Then people complained about the need to stack consumeables and buffs and Blizz tuned it down. Then Blizzard listened to concerns about an introductory raid instance being too difficult, so they gave gigantic margins of error and enrage timers that may as well not apply.

And now, all these people who never saw Naxx when it was the pinnacle of raiding are complaining because it's so easy and it's not fair that it gives better loot at 25 than 10. It's like tying both hands behind a boxer's back, climbing in the ring with him and then complaining that he wasn't as tough as he looked on TV.
I think you're all missing the point.

Where or not you like how the badges worked in tBC, because there was one universal badge, this meant that overgeared players would still run heroics/kara/ZA for badges for the sunwall 2.4 badge gear. Having experince raiders running heroics with new level 70's was a good thing. It keep heroics active through tBC, and allow newer players to experience content with realitive easy.

If you came to tBC late or re-rolled, you could still gear you're toon up with heroic badge gear for BT/Sunwell content, without having to find that one /fail guild still stuck on Gruul, and/or if you where unlucky with drops on SSC, TK, Hyjal, the badge gear offered an alternative.

Now, there is zero incentive to run heroics or OS/NAX/MALLY 10 or 25 man as there is Zero benefit in gear or badges. This is means in the near future, it will be near immpossible to get a group together for these raids, for new players to WOW or for players alts.

It you just hit 80 on 3.1 patch day, what do you think you're wow experience is going to be like?
Ulduar 10 is a training ground for those not already getting EoV in existing 25-man raids. So it is a chance for casuals to experience the content and still gear up. Remember, casuals tend not to organize into 25mans as easily as the more dedicated types.
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