Friday, May 14, 2010
Could you still dance with Heigan?
When we were discussing heroics and people talked about moments where some of their actions really stood out in a World of Warcraft raid, I remembered one Naxxramas raid where we were fighting Heigan the Unclean, the second boss of the plague quarter, and 8 out of 10 raid members died early due to not having moved correctly to avoid the erruptions of the floor in phase two. It was only me and one other player left, but we happened to be a tank and a healer. And we kept up the fight for a full 10 more minutes before we eventually wiped, to the amusement of our dead guild mates. Maybe not heroic, but sure memorable.
But that encounter also showed that Heigan even back in the days where we were wearing iLevel 200 gear wasn't hitting all that much, so a single tank and a single healer could fight him for a very long time. What wiped raids in that encounter was the back and forth "dance" you had to perform correctly to avoid the floor erruptions, moving at exactly the right point in time, and neither too short nor too far. Even if you had watched a video before, and read the strategy, a group of people doing that encounter for the first time always wiped a couple of times before they had learned the steps to this dance. Just like ballet practice, a group of people has to study such series of coordinated moves together, even if the moves aren't very complicated.
I wrote a few weeks ago about a raid I joined to ToC, where we cleared the much "harder" ToC, and then wiped several times in Naxxramas on Instructor Razuvious, because the people who had to control the two understudies had forgotten how to do so. Since then I've come across several posts on other blogs telling similar stories: People having trouble in rare excursions to places like Naxxramas and Ulduar, while doing well in Icecrown. For many people it is already a year since they last visited Naxxramas, and they simply forgot the moves to some of the encounters.
I am pretty certain that if you take any raid that just did well in Icecrown, and moved it to Naxxramas, you would wipe on Heigan the Unclean.
And that is exactly what I don't like about raiding in Wrath of the Lich King. There is no real "progression" from "easier" raid dungeons to "harder" raid dungeons. It is all just the same, various different encounters for which you and your friends have to practice the moves until you all can do them without fail. Places like Naxxramas become obsolete because of the loot they give, not because of a lack of challenge. New guilds forming now go directly from heroics to Icecrown. There is no such thing as raid progression any more, Blizzard just go us to visit the raid dungeons in sequence by the simple trick of opening them up one after another. So even though Cataclysm isn't here yet, if you missed Naxxramas or Ulduar, it is already too late. These earlier raid dungeons aren't much easier than the later ones, but give out loot which is worse than what you get from running heroics, so nobody goes there any more except if required for weekly raid quests. I don't remember Molten Core standing empty at the end of vanilla WoW, or Karazhan at the end of the Burning Crusade. I like choice, and right now you don't get much choice in which raid dungeons you could visit.