Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Cataclysm heroics

After a few partial runs, I finally finished my first Cataclysm heroic last week. It was a guild group, Throne of Tides, and we had great fun. But it took us 3 hours, due to a combination of being extra careful, using crowd control, and wiping several times. I've been to raids that went faster and took less effort.

Now I don't mind Cataclysm heroics being more challenging, but 3 hours of uninterrupted play session, with the need to remain focused and concentrated all the time, even on the trash, is not something I'm able to do every night, after a hard day at work.

I notice that this is a general trend in my guild. In spite of us being a "raiding guild", albeit not the most hardcore one, there is relatively little heroics activity right now in the guild. Many people spend significantly more time doing daily quests than running heroics. As a result progress is generally somewhat slow.

That might not be a bad thing, I'd rather have slow progress now than being already burned-out from heroics in a month. After all, Cataclysm will have to last us for two years, and the amount of new heroics that will still be added with content patches will be limited. I presume progress will be auto-accelerating: We slowly get better gear and experience with all the heroic encounters, which leads us to running heroics faster, which leads to us getting gear faster. So even if progress is slow now, the outlook isn't all that bad.
do not worry, my first heroics were 3h+, too :)

It is greatly accelerated if you make dps mark their own CC (faster pulls)

The healer getting gear will mean smoother runs too, including the ability to aoe some trash, wrath-like (providing the tank gears up too)

All in one, i'm getting more in the 1h+ range. Don't forget some instances are short (SFK, Vortex) and some long (Deadmines, ToT)
It is strange that you say you are a casual raiding guild and yet not running heroics. May be... really casual?

I started tanking normal instances as soon as I hit 85, with blue and green gear from a few of the quest zones. Hitting the 329 ilevel (horrible way to judge a player, imo) wasn't really all that difficult.

As soon as I hit 329 I started dragging guildies to heroics, and failing that, just pug a few randoms. So far so good - have not had any instances that I couldn't complete - just need good patience and communication, something that I expect from guildies, if not so from random pick up group members.

Benefit of being a tank is that you control the pace and once you figure out how each encounter works and don't stuff it up, generally you can bring any group through.
I'd suggest to avoid BRC and SC as a nub tank, they aren't easy (imo).

Avoid wipes with casual guildies, as it can affect morale. Personally, i selected a core team of "serious" players, who didnt mind a few wipes, for planned runs the first two weeks. Once the dynamic is started... there you go.
I've been doing PuGs for a while, and the average time spent per heroic starts to stabilize at around an hour (+30 min for queue as DPS). Lost City of the Tol'vir is among the fastest ones, with only four bosses, use of land mounts and plenty of skippable trash mobs. So far the longest has been Deadmines with six bosses, one event and plenty of trash mobs.
The time spend in heroics goes down very fast if everyone knows what to epect.

Just did 2 heroics in one evening yesterday, where the first was completed under 1 hour, whereas the second took us 2 and a half because we wiped more than an hour on one Boss. The Dragon with the winds changing was a huge paion, as one of the group could not correctly see the GFX (which should be fixed in 4.06 according to Blizzard) and me as a hunter runnning around like a headless chicken, because of range requirements. Not having any meelee, but our tank added to the difficulty level a bit.

I enjoy the pace and the difficulty. At least people who did heroics from the start are better prepared for raiding regarding wipes ;D
Classic WoW had farming, grinding and BGs that you would do to relax. Cataclysm only has BGs and normal dungeons left. Normals, however, are often too easy and moreover don't benefit you if you maxed your reputations.

Unlike classic WoW there is no random drop you still need in 'normal' instance X.

While I welcome hard heroics and consider it a mistake to not offer enough content for relaxing after work.
Heroics are in a good spot... and they are nerfing them... such bullshit.
@nils : grinding dungeons was perhaps "relaxing" for you, but i suspect most cata players will rather enjoy archeology and fast gearing.

Try archeology, lots of troll artefact to get!
They're slightly nerfing a small handful of bosses in even fewer heroics, and those are mostly because of issues of class composition, such as Baron Ashbury in SFK requiring multiple interrupt-capable classes with very fast reflexes.

They're also doing mechanics clarifications (like the graphic for Ozruk's Shatter in Stonecore) and bugfixes (a single tornado at Altarius in Vortex Pinnacle could bounce you from twister to twister until it shoved you out of the combat arena, where Altarius would then blast you with an insta-kill attack because he thinks you're running away).

Blizzard is hardly backpedaling to Wrath-style heroics here, despite all the melodrama on MMO-Champion and the WoW forums.
Okrane, try not to overstate the nerfs of heroics. A couple of bosses were noticeably nerfed, and a few others were buffed. Many of the changes improve the bosses overall (lining up effect areas with visual cues is a good thing) and not many of them significantly affect the difficulty of the boss.
Nils: Good point. Cataclysm really doesn't offer much in the way of relaxed stuff to do after work.
Cata has normals and dailies and bg's. Those grinds are long, but the rewards are good (359 epic pieces that are often BIS pre-raid gear). Heroics aren't going to be something that you chain together like in Wrath. Think long term - do you really want to have run heroic Stonecore 75 times by April?

That said, I wish that they had made more heroics and made the existing ones shorter. They said they wanted to make raids shorter, but they made heroics so long that casual players will have to tackle them on weekends.
I was very scared when I did my first heroics but actually found them easier than I thought, possibly just because I built them up so much in my head. Yes, they took forever (1hr +) and we all died constantly but it was always fun.
Ghostcrawler's recent blog post has stirred up a firestorm of debate over the difficulty of Heroics and, I for one am glad that Blizzard has come forward in such fashion. I'm not part of a hardcore raiding guild either, yet I find the difficulty of heroics refreshing where the challenge level is concerned. I've already completed every dungeon on heroic mode using the LFD tool, and yes, it has been frustrating at times, but it is rewarding when a group of strangers can work together and complete an instance as they are designed to be completed.

The truth be told; is that the "WrathBaby" effect is in full swing as players who first started playing WoW in WOTLK are being forced to make adjustments to their playstyles with the incorporation of CC dynamics into the mix. Some of the heroics can be made -very- easy if players just work together and communicate, while others are being addressed with nerfs/hotfixes due to group composition.

I'm extremely satisfied with the overall difficulty of Cata heroics.
New content is only new once. The first runs have to be hard. You have to be deliberate and think, and there will likely be wipes.

But they will only get easier. Every heroic is on a steady course to faceroll. Start them too easy at first we get 8 months of yawners.

No matter how you slice it, in running dungeons: challenging = slow, easy = fast.

You can't just order up "fast, challenging but relaxing, and overall ultimately fulfilling and rewarding" in this game or really anything in life that is worth doing.

Within 2-3 months random heroic runs will be 50% successful in less than an hour. In 5-6 months 75% successful in half an hour.

And that's not just about gear. It's about familiarity and a comfort level that is required for many players to even try.
If we can project from LK, they will release new raid/season in 6 to 9 months. To allow people to see the 4.0 raids, they will just give a 10-30% dungeon buff. Since VP get wiped, everyone starts all over again/game is "even".
As soon as I hit iLvl 329, I started running heroics purely through the dungeon finder (as a tank) and the longest runs so far have been Deadmines and Stonecore (1.5 hr), the rest have been about 45 min - 1 hour at most. Granted, 2-3 runs have broken down after people left wiping on the first boss. The ones that have finished really aren't that long.

3 hours just seems like you aren't doing any research beforehand about the bosses and/or ignoring boss mechanics or something or failing to use CC properly, etc just like Ghostcrawler explains in his lengthy post.
some examples that are classic wipes :)

- not interrupting (several interrupters) 1st boss in SFK (also kite the 3rd to fountain)

- not avoiding shatter on ozruk (nerfed)

- getting a tornado in vortex (nerfed)

- letting a soul fragment on the phoenix in tol'vir

- not kiting/nuking fire adds in GB (the first boss also eats pugs for breakfast, while it's in fact easy)

- learn to kite the forge boss in BRC

- finally, can't think of anything in HOO. Rather straight.
3 hours just seems like you aren't doing any research beforehand about the bosses
But that would be cheating.
3 hours just seems like you aren't doing any research beforehand about the bosses
But that would be cheating.

The problem is less with the "cheating" part, as with the part where you bypass something which is actually fun (experiencing something new, observing what went wrong, developing a strategy, and learning how to execute it) with something boring (watch a video on YouTube and do what they do).

The goal of a heroics dungeon this early in the expansion shouldn't be "grinding justice points", but rather "having fun". As that includes developing your own strategy, the process is by necessity slower. I just don't accept "Oh you can do it much faster if you just cut out the fun part" as a viable solution.
The problem is less with the "cheating" part, as with the part where you bypass something which is actually fun (experiencing something new, observing what went wrong, developing a strategy, and learning how to execute it) with something boring (watch a video on YouTube and do what they do).
You don't have to pick one or the other. If you want to exercise and get your visit to a friend done in a reasonable time, your options are not limited to walking and the car. Picking the bike will get you the exercise and improve your speed. Likewise, you can do a ten-second search on a "spoiler site" to get the gist of the boss abilities and then figure out yourself how and when to respond to them.
idd, having a vague idea of a boss tactic and experimenting is the most gratifying :)

the only thing that buggers me atm is it isn't gratifying gear wise (the drops are on par with a few day's worth of grinding rep, and you already have most of them) - but that comes also with the big plus of being able to reforge, which kinda insta killed the itemization.

As a side note, tactics always existed afaik. I remember reading them for molten core, or even strat / scholo :-)
Tobold, I completely agree. I like the difficulty, but daily heroic reward system is very annoying. Blizzard seems to not understand that the problem is not that heroic dungeons are "too hard," but they're just TOO LONG.

They need to change the daily heroic reward. Right now, it's too time consuming to do a daily heroic every day. Even with a guild group, you can get deadmines or Grim Batol as your random. Then you're required to have two hours of uninterrupted time which just isn't feasible for many of us.

If you're a dps in LFG, you wait 30 minutes in que, then need 3 hours to clear a heroic w/ a pug. And that's a "daily" thing?
that is an intentional timesink on blizzard part, i think.

Remember that VPs are for the highest CURRENT tier of gear (all powerful 359 epix)

Once they push T11.5 or so, i expect a VP shower inc (70 vp per heroic boss, tokens, whatever)

Accorded, if you dont raid or kill 1-2 raid bosses per week, that's one epic per month. Slow but doable, you have 3 craftable, 2 from rep, and all BoE from AH.

What I meant by research was indeed like what Hirvox said. i.e. Taking a couple seconds to read what the boss's abilities are on, so you can at least have a semblance of an idea of what to do when you see the boss's animations in-game.

I've never watched any YouTube videos for any fights, not even for raid bosses in the past. If you consider that cheating, then that's your decision. Feel free to enjoy your 3 hour-long runs in that case.
They could stand to tone down the goblin trash on the way to the mind control boss. I don't consider getting gibbed by Goblin aquamages fun.

Sure you CAN cc them or use a cooldown but the pack has enough low-HP mobs that it appears to be intended to be AOE'd.
One more thing: You can extend heroic lockouts from the raid menu. If you really want to finish a Heroic dungeon without "cheating" and only have one hour per play session available, just log off when you run out of time and extend the lock when you wish to resume.
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