Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Why is Sartharion with 3 drakes so unpopular?

I must say I'm thoroughly enjoying the heated debate we are having this week on various aspects of WoW raiding. It is obviously impossible to agree with everybody, but I'm certainly learning new things and understand better certain points of view. To improve that understanding, I'm asking for your help to explain to me something which surfaced repeatedly in comments, but which was new for me: It appears that the more skilled raiders consider boss fights with optional added difficulty as an unnecessary gimmick, or artificial obstacle, not a valid challenge. Why?

I have killed Sartharion only with all drakes killed, so I don't have personal experience of how it would be with 1, 2, or 3 drakes up. But obviously with drakes it is harder. And I checked the loot tables, and killing Sartharion with drakes up is well rewarded with additional and better epics. So we have optional higher challenge for higher rewards. Why isn't that more popular with people who are complaining about a lack of challenge in the current environment?
Let me state first that I am no raider, so this is purely speculative. Maybe it has to do with the progression scale?

The relative difficulty of downing Sartharion with 3 drakes up might be properly compensated by the additional epics, but the question comes down to whether the raid feels it necessary to do so. Three or four more epics a raid may be more efficient, but that's only as far as the gear offered is a good improvement over what the raid already has, and how vital that gear is for the next chapter of progression. If a guild is ultimately aiming for beating the END of WoW, then the faster they can get everyone geared up the better, but some guilds are probably looking at this fight and simply taking a sure-kill (path of least resistance) and accepting a longer gear-up phase.

Maybe this will change when Arthas gets patched in, and guilds are progressed further such that 3 drakes becomes closer in difficulty to the present no-drake set-up. I think the general rule about players taking the easiest path available applies here. I mean, can you really fault the guild leadership? After all, organizing 25 people is hard enough, can you imagine the headache and frustration born form pushing the 3-drake kill, and keeping everyone motivated enough to try that hard? After the third or fourth wipe, Vent would be full of cries to just do a 0-drake kill and be done with it.
I think the variable difficulty Blizzard has introduced through encounters like this (as far as AQ40 and perhaps earlier) is excellent. If these are seen purely as a source of added loot, then yes - I can see people thinking it is not worth the effort, leading to guild friction. However, I think it is healthier to approach these as a personal challenge to overcome (or a status symbol once you do so).

Also, this is not restricted to 25-person content. 10-person Sarth with 3 drakes up is also an option!
First: Satharion with 3 drakes up is kind of fine. The trouble starts with achievements like "all players in the group have to get impaled by the rhino-boss", where you have to stop dps, endure hits and wait until he is finally done with hurting your party until you can kill him, which would have been possible three minutes earlier.
You might have noticed I said "kind of". The little part of my brain that imagines myself as a mighty dragonkiller protecting people from getting harmed crys painfully while thinking of Sarth3D or encounters like him. Its kind of like "Okay, we have to kill this mighty dragon so it will no longer terrorise Azeroth. And to add some spice we won't do this the easy way. Instead we will increase difficulty by not killing off his companions first. Why? Because its fun!".
A dragonkiller who is set to help people shouldn't try to increase difficulty..he should try to kill the beast as fast and safe as possible to ensure his job is done and he will live another day to serve different people.
Sure, you could roleplay around it. But it still feels a bit perverted.
Just about everyone in my guild has fun on 3-drakes. It's arguably the hardest thing to do in the current content with exception of IMMORTAL in Naxx achievement. The great part it is optional. Now guilds need progression benchmarks to tell one guild over another besides their raiding times and days, etc... With current content being very easy for experienced guilds the achievement system gives a great way to benchmark and basically make farmed content a little more interesting.

3-drakes while does take a certain amount of gear definitely is more about execution and personal responsibility during the fight. It is not easy, it's difficult and it's fun!
Well, I do 10 and 25 man OS raids every week and have never received a drop. For whatever reason, I either roll bad or items for my class/spec do not drop.If we assume that half the members of a raid rarely get drops, then the only real motivation for doing the raid at all is to get the Emblems of Valor. With no other tangible benefit, it makes sense to do a quick EoV run and be done with it.

Not downing the Drakes would require extra coordination and determination. Since most guilds on my server either pug and partially pug the raid, it is not worth the hassle of maybe getting an extra couple of items on a harder setting.
The only additional gear rewards come with 1 and 2 drakes up. As far as I know, a 3rd drake only gives a mount. Our guild does 2 drakes all the time to get the better gear but has only toyed with 3 drakes. One is because it's MUCH harder, two because it requires extremely specific number of tanks (one with 50k health), three because not everyone is willing to wipe for hours for the possibility of a mount. Mostly it's because our bear tank isn't raiding a lot and hasn't gotten the 50k health yet.
The loot ends after you can get two drakes down. You only need the third for ONE mount for a TWENTY FIVE PLAYER raid drops per kill and a title for the raid members. Sartharion with three drakes is LONG. On the two drake version, with high DPS, you can avoid ever having more than one drake down at a time. (Assuming you kill the correct one as they come down on a set timer in a set order).

On three drake Sartharion there is a “soft enrage” that occurs after the 1st drake is down and you still have the other two up along with their adds. Our Sartharion tank has to use every cooldown available, as does anyone that has a mitigation cooldown for the tank, and STILL pray to the RNG (random number generator) gods of WoW for resists. Unresisted breath damage during this phase can hit the main tank for 50k+, which will one shot him. This is going to last for around 30 seconds or so.

The only real difference between two drakes and three drakes is being able to deal with the soft enrage that I have described here.

Lava walls one shot you. There are tons of adds to deal with. Shadow fissures one shot you. Also each drake does a shadow fissure, so with all three up plus Sartharion you have to deal with them constantly.

The encounter really is the Olympics of not standing in the fire. Thee drakes is a gimic because of the rewards. You do the encounter to say/show that you can do it.
As it was already told, 3 drakes only give a useless dragon, so does not worth the fuss.
However doing with 2 should be done. I can tell you what's the problem with that.

You are in a guild that is capable to clear the current content. Some of these players are great, some are acceptable, some are useless but "nice freindly ppl". This guild CANNOT down S+2 but can do everything else. The question is simple: are you ready to /gquit, leaving the (sometimes annoying wipes but still) sure Naxx, VoA, S+0 every week just for the HOPE of finding a guild that has enough good players (as opposed to claim to have)?

I was ready. Left my non-progressing, often raid-canceling but still VoA, S+0, half-naxx clearer quild a week ago. Still seeking, after finding lot of guilds that are exactly the same. Most people doesn't say goodbye to the sure epics for the hope of a greater reward.
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Regarding 3 Drakes

With all 3 drakes alive your raid will have 3 debuffs. Our tank has almost 50k hp unbuffed but it goes down around 35ishK HP with the debuff. Also he gets hit around 40-50k. Go figure. Our pallies got their rotation down though so we are set on that.

Void zones - If you get hit by these your pretty much dead because of the Shadow resist debuff

Firewalls - This will one shot you if you get hit because of the Debuff from the Drakes

DPS race - There is really a need to down the first drake before the 2nd one drops. When the 3rd drakes drops the 2nd one should be almost dead if not already. If you can't kill the first drake before the 2nd one drops in you are in serious trouble cause all that time will add up when the 3rd drake comes in.

Healers nightmare - after you healed those mages, hunters and locks aoe you also have to position yourself correctly moving when needed.

When the 3rd drake comes in you have to take the portal and kill the mob in there or else everyone will take damage over time.

After you kill the 3rd drake, congratz it's all easy sailing from there. Well not easy but now you just have to worry about Sartharion.

So I guess there's your answer why Sartharion 3 Drake is unpopular.

I guess you have to be "This Tall" to ride the Sartharion 3 Drake.

I don't mind hearing from players that WoW 25mans is too easy if they have beaten Sartharion with at least a drake or 2. What I do mind is players crying it's easy just because they keep hearing everyone that it's easy so they get their pitchforks and join the crowd.

FFS try out Malygos or Sartharion with drakes. Wrath didn't come out with just Naxx you know. If you just care about seeing/experiencing content then disregard my last 2 paragraphs.
EDIT: Tank has 50k+ HP buff*
I think they're gonna lower the difficulty tbh, because of what you describe.

Its just too hard, especially with 3 drakes. Also, it doesnt *feel* that epic or exciting. Kill the boss? Or take off all your gear and kill the boss for extra loot coz that's a lot harder. Know what I mean? Who cares! Its not like going into BT when you've just finished tier5. Admittedly, BT is a hell of a lot more new content than Sarth3D, but Sarth is a long and arduous learning process, for very little extra rewards that very few members of the raid will benefit from. At least when the whole raid went into BT (or into SWP from BT) each member of the 25 person raid had new loot to look forward to... it was a whole new tier. Everything that dropped would be an upgrade. I couldnt care less about the extra loot in Sarth+1/2/3 - I havent even bothered to check what it is. That's how unmotivated I feel about the encounter. I'd rather skip it and level alts. As for a beautiful new mount that only drops for 1 person...? That is zero motivation for me.
People shouldn't worry about how hard it is now, at the beginning of the expansion. I think Sarth3D could give people more reason to do it later when they "over-gear" it with tier 8 or 9. After all its probably 2 years until next expansion right?

Maybe additional badges for multiple drakes up will give more incentive. or additional bags of spoils :)
The gist I am getting from most of these is "why do it". For the same reason every single realm forum has a guild progression thread and there are sites that rank guilds based on what they have cleared. Because you CAN. It (and essentially an entire MMO game) is a giant competition of epeen size. You want people to see your neat items and go "oooh I want that". If you want to be considered the "best" guild on a server right now you had better have Sarth with 3 drakes on farm...if you don't you're not and someone else is.

It would be like saying "Oh we cleared all of Sunwell except the last boss because he's too hard and not everyone gets loot off him, but we are still the best even if that other guild drops him every week" yeah you'd have been laughed at then to. I do think that with 3 drakes up it should drop more than just the one drake (multiple mounts or mount + items)but even as is it doesn't change the underlying reason that the top guilds clear it.
Achievements in general, Sarth3, 'extra credit' boss achievements, and the 2-difficulty/raid size system are all pursuant to the same goal: get more use out of less art/programming assets. The amount of assets they can produce between expansions and content patches is limited, so I see nothing wrong with this kind of maximization. It can seem a bit lazy sometimes, but there's a balance to be struck - old Naxx being perhaps the other extreme as the most art/assets ever enjoyed by the least people.

It's true that it doesn't really fit with world integrity - why would a group of adventurers opt to do anything the hard way? And why would killing them all at once increase the number of goodies to be found on a dragon's corpse? Sapphiron's extra credit achievement (beat Saph without anyone over 100 frost resist) is pretty glaring, why would a paladin purposefully opt to drop frost prot aura? You could go on like this forever, so I think it's apparent to anyone that any game-world integrity exists only in your own mind. You got over playing capture the flag in neverending battles with exactly 20 combatants - you will get over this as well.
I think that some people are missing the fact that some hard motivation modes are fun, and some are not. It just depends what works, and its an experiment. Sarth hard mode is just not really that fun. It might have been! You wouldnt know till you released it. But its really not that much fun. And theres a general vibe that even the top guilds on my server that they dont care about it. And there's so epeening around it either. And the extra loot is not really visible and flashy on a toon. Basically, ppl just dont care, and it didnt work too well.
And why would killing them all at once increase the number of goodies to be found on a dragon's corpse?

Or really, why do all the creatures in the world have any goodies at all, why against a huge threat to the world must you scavenge for equipment on you enemies,... (but this goes on forever, of course.)
I think a lot of comments are missing the real question. Why aren't the "hardcore" folks happy with something that's really quite challenging?

I think it's because a lot of "hardcore" raiders have an elitist attitude not only about gear, but about the content itself. There's a feeling out there that "casual" players don't deserve to see content because they didn't "earn" it. Even if you drop Sartharion with all of his drakes, you're not getting much in the way of new content. Most of what you see is the same thing that a PUGer would see.

The loot is definitely worth it. The challenge is definitely there. I guess the fragile egos of some people can't handle the fact that there isn't a big "no casual players allowed" sign outside the content they think should be exclusive to them. Of course, I can kind of see their point. I enjoyed my first Malygos kill more than my first Sartharion + 1 drake kill. There's something really cool about seeing new content and defeating it. The drakes thing is "newish" content, but it's not new.
Hmm, I'm not sure I've gotten a sense from people that they dislike 3d Sarth in particular. I *have* gotten that sense from people about some of the Naxx achievements that require you to do the exact same fight in more difficult ways, or with less people. I do think that working extra hours to beat the hard mode of an easy fight isn't quite as mentally justifiable to many people as working long hours to beat the only mode of a hard fight.

Ulduar will be the real test of the whole 3D Sarth hardmode idea. Until then, we're mostly dealing with content (Naxx) that was not designed for achievements.
According to WoWWiki, 3 drakes gives a bonus ilevel 226 item *in addition* to the mount -- is this incorrect?

Anyway, Blizzard seems to hope that these "hard modes" will replace standard boss kills in their importance as achievements you can brag about. So far, the more "hardcore" part of the community doesn't yet seem to accept this new system. Sure, as people have pointed out, it may be too difficult. On the other hand, judging from TBC, if this were an entirely new boss with the same difficulty (and loot), hardcore people would raid your hearts and lungs out to get the server first. (I deduce this from the effort people have put into beating badly tuned encounters before.) But because it's only a more difficult mode of the same boss, it just doesn't feel worth the effort.

That's definitely interesting, I thought most hardcore raiders care about loot and achieving things more than about about flavor and content. I may have been wrong about this, and so might Blizzard.
One other thing that strikes me as poor design is that you get more badges by downing all of the drakes prior to engaging Sartharion. As badge loot improves, once additional content is released, guilds may simply knock out all three for the badges rather than farm an extra item up that may end up as an abyss crystal in the bank.

At least... I don't think I have ever been able to loot a badge from a drake killed in the Sartharion fight itself.
@ Centuri

Wether you kill all drakes before or after the main fight won't matter. You'll still get the same amount of emblems if you clear Obsidian Sanctum.

If you take on a drake with Sarth the emblem from the drake is added to Sarth's emblem count.
I've just finished 3 hours of wiping on sarth3D and i've not problem with it at all. its our first night of trying as we now blitz though naxx and maly, i've found it great fun. Its the first real challenge i think we've found in wrath. People are moaning that the challenge isn't there. IT IS, its just that too many hardcore raiders aren't happy with the fact that casuals are still seeing the same raid.

In response to anyone saying they will make it easier as its too hard. No they won't, why? because its optional. its in there so the hardcore still have a challenge without locking the casuals out of content. Why would they nerf the difficulty of something that is purely optional to do.
My guild downed Sarth 3D the Mon right after Christmas. A week after that 3 other guilds on our server did the same thing. Speaking from my own pov we were pumped to go in and get it down. The thing is after that initial rush there really isn't any need to do it again other than helping guildies get their title. Its like getting achievements for vanilla WoW bosses. Especially since the only difference is a drake no one in the guild cares for and a title. Since our first few kills we have just done two drakes, moved on to nuke Malygos, then call it a night.
it is not unpopular. it is just not worth mentioning. on my server 10 or more raids have downed sath+3. the first 3 ones were proud about that "achievement" cause it was 2-3 weeks after release, the other guilds coming later, noone cared.
Because they are morons that don't value just how an optional "hard mode" with prestige attached (Titles, mounts, etc) is quite frankly the best way for Blizzard to make content that is both accessible to the widest cross-section of the populace possible while simultaneously providing challenge to the truly hardcore. The only failure of 3D Sarth in this regard is one mount per raid. It should be attached to the achievement.

Either that or they're just the same dogmatic elitist #%(*(%* (fill in the blank with your favorite insult of choice) that just want content that suits THEM and ONLY THEM so they can lord over the server with their 'phat purplz' again.
"Achievements in general, Sarth3, 'extra credit' boss achievements, and the 2-difficulty/raid size system are all pursuant to the same goal: get more use out of less art/programming assets." - Scott

I totally think this is the real reason - players are in some way aware of this above constraint, but they don't know or don't care about what it takes to successfully run a huge gaming software company like Blizzard, so they demand more content. This attitude is not restricted just to WoW or games, you can see it anywhere where there are service/goods providers and consumers - some vocal consumers never want to make any tradeoffs between price and benefits delivered.
Err, the reviews of Sarth3D I've seen have lauded it as a well designed, well tuned encounter comparable to a Sunwell boss (high praise in the high end raid community). Maybe I'm reading different high end raiders than you are, but it seems like its been well received. Where is the raft of criticism you're describing?
Where is the raft of criticism you're describing?

Mostly in the comments of my Disney post. The added difficulty option has been described as anything between adding little snow obstacles to nerfed alpine slopes, to wearing fozzy bear hats on a roller coaster ride. There were similar comments on other threads here discussing raid difficulty. And this thread here isn't exactly overflowing with comments calling the added difficulty well designed.

I must say I do understand why not everybody would want to do something in higher difficulty for nothing but an achievement, especially if the higher difficulty involves doing something silly. I never liked the part of the achievements in WAR which you could do by running anything from battlegrounds to raids naked.
It's because Sarth+3 is just a question of DPS, just as Malygos in 5 Minutes. As the drakes get into the fight one after another you have to get the first drake down before the third joins the fight. It's no problem to handle 2 drakes at a time, but 3 is way too much. After you got the first drake down and all the small adds under control(/nuked) it's just a Tank'n'Spank with these little Super-Mario-escape-the-lava-thingy. No challenge there. DPS is just Equipment + 3 Buttons pressed in the right order. I could teach that a chimpanzee. -.-

Basically that's the problem with all wotlk bosses. You just need a bunch of mediocre-playing people, who do normal dps and aren't movement-gimps to beat them. I'm watching television while raiding, because raiding alone is no challenge...i guess it's time for me to quit WoW and focus on something more challenging.
I'm pretty much in agreement with the poster above me. There is no challenge, at least for me, in the hard encounters. At no point have I gone "Christ, this is tough" in WotLK where I remember thinking Prince (in Kara) originally (before the door exploit was bouncing around) contained a level of 'oh shit' to its nature. None of the instances provide a real challenge. One that requires the player to reactively think about what is going on and how to beat it. There's nothing to keep the player truly aware of what is going on. I've always thought Vashj and Kael'thalas were brilliant at that, they really brought the fights alive because you HAD to be aware and what was going on whilst doing your single job, otherwise you had a good chance of dying.

At the moment Naxx has few challenges and they are so basic that failing on them is mind-numbingly boring, e.g. Thaddius and the people who can't turn left/right comes to mind. Heck, the jump over to Thaddius has claimed a good few of my guildies. I'm all up for making starting instances 'easy' but there should be a level of difficulty spread over them (and I mean that in terms of mechanics not seen/experienced fully within the open world, etc. rather than gear checks/dps checks) whilst as it is the 'core' of what is raiding can be pretty much limited to half the bosses in Naxx whilst the others feel like 'filler'. I always felt the bosses in Sunwell each provided something different to the raider that kept the place alive (especially as I hated the skins/colours of the place) where as Naxx currently doesn't have that. Sarth and VoA don't really have that. You could say they 'touch' on making encounters difficult but the mechanics don't threaten the players life -really-, or more importantly, that of their fellow players. In terms of interesting raid mechanics I would consider Malygos head and tails above the rest because even if it's not hugely challenging it has some lovely promising fight mechanics and a nice display of ingenuity and 'uh-oh' to it (The first time you see Vortex it's quite... wtf?) where as I miss that with alot of WotLK raiding.
"So we have optional higher challenge for higher rewards. Why isn't that more popular with people who are complaining about a lack of challenge in the current environment?"
Because the only fight like that is Sarth, it is the only fight that required my guild more than one raid of attempts (OK Malygos took us two). 95% of the current raid content can be facerolled through, once we master Sarth 3D (sometimes next lockout I expect) : nothing, the big empty. The thing is we are not a particularly hardcore guild, we raid 4 days a week from 9 to 12pm, we never managed to finish content before next was released, we had just killed Kalecgos when SWP was nerfed. And that was OK with us, that meant we always had something to work on, as of next week we will have farm raids, in one month time our raiding nights will be reduced to 2 maybe 3 nights...

The whole concept of hard / easy mode is quite good, problem is that right now it is only implemented in 5% of the content, the rest is easy mode.
here's the typical copout response i get when confronted with the following dilemma:

QQ: Wrath is so easy, there's no point. I can beat anything IN A PUG, FOR CHRISSAKES.
Ixo: Orly? so you've beaten sarth with three drakes up?
QQ: I've beaten sarth a billion times.
QQ: Sarth is easy mode.
Ixo: with three drakes up...
QQ: Whatever, wrath is so lame, qq

people refuse to acknowledge that there's even a distinction, because it would invalidate their daily routine of crying about how easy wrath is. i personally think the variable difficulty thing is awesome, but some people are never happy unless they're miserable...
and after reading back over the comments, this pretty much sums it up.

people don't want to be challenged, they just want to complain about "2 up vs 3 up is just a dumb mount, and so much harder".

wait... i thought everything in wrath was EZ MOAD?
Problem is, some guilds now cant get enough dedicated raiders. in tbc, you MUST join raiding guild if you want to raid. Now, you can stick with your old "friendly" casual guild and still get most of epix. PPL who want to be 1337 just join top hardcore guilds. Guild like our (who was in top10 of our realm) just dont stand a chance. Or getting lame players who was kicked out from trial of top guilds.
We invite our casual friends on naxx and malygos raids, but thats just dont work for sarth 2+ drakes
I feel like people want to be *forced* with a challenge, because if given the option they will take the path of least resistance.

Just look at how many guilds, once given the option, skipped Vashj and Kael'thas when given the option to just go straight to BT and Hyjal.
Doesn't anyone remember the ZA timed runs? You got good loot clearing ZA normally but better loot for doing it fast and a sweet looking (in some people's opinions, anyway) bear mount for ONE person if you cleared it super fast. Sarth + 3 drakes is just like this, IMO. I remember people thinking ZA timed runs were a pretty cool idea. Not sure why Sarth+3 isn't cool too. Though honestly everyone I know in game does think the Sarth encounter is awesome.
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