Tobold's Blog
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Vehicular raiding

(Post #2,500 by the way)

Blizzard released an interesting preview of what the next raid dungeon, Ulduar, will bring coming patch 3.1. Quote:
Many players have already gotten their Wrath of the Lich King raiding feet wet in Naxxramas and the Sartharion raid, but Ulduar is the first example of the expansion's much larger, truly epic scope of raiding, as will be evident from the moment you set foot in the instance. The most obvious difference between Ulduar and its predecessors is that the new dungeon actually comprises two separate raid areas. The first section is an epic battle against a vast army standing between you and the entrance of the dungeon proper; in the second area, you will dive into the heart of the dungeon itself and finally discover the secrets of Ulduar.

Ulduar's new master has rallied a massive iron army to guard the entrance to Ulduar and prevent any unwanted guests -- including you, especially you -- from reaching the inner sanctum. Thankfully, you'll be able to face the Iron Army on even footing: a small fleet of siege vehicles will be on hand to aid you in the assault. You and your friends will have to use these vehicles wisely to break through Ulduar's defenses. A mix of Choppers, Demolishers, and Siege Engines will be at your disposal, each granting unique abilities to the pilot and the passenger.
Yep, that's right, Ulduar will be using vehicle combat in the first section. For me that sounds like fun, but I foresee some people will not like it. The "problem" with vehicle combat is that your success is determined by your skill in driving that vehicle. Your gear doesn't matter. So it looks as if for the first part of Ulduar a raid group in green armor could be as successful as one in full Naxx-25 epics. Not exactly the exclusive "leet only" place some people have been waiting for. Especially if that gear-independant part of the raid gives some epic rewards, some of the elitists will be complaining. Which is ironic, because it is usually them who claim that raiding is all about skill and has nothing to do with gear. If done right, Ulduar would start with a real skill check, no gear involved, and that will be very interesting to see how some people fare.
It was stated in the WoW Forums that the vehicles will scale with gear.
Give me a sec and I'll find the link.
grats on 2500. I'm catching up slowly in the 200s, but who's counting? ;)

to the post: the problem I see with a vehicular raid start is that it's at the start. The first tim eit will be cute, then it will be neat, then it will be *there*, and then it will be in the way, and then it will just be boring, and trite. Once you've "figured it out", it's going to be running through the motions over and over. It could be argued that this is the case anyway, but what's the name of that one heroic that NO ONE RUNS?

Oh yeah, Occulus.

People want to use their own characters in fights. The chess event in Kara was a quick little diversion before the final showdown with prince, and as such was tolerated, but to open Ulduar EVERY TIME YOU GO THERE with jump in the warthog and kill the swarm? Ugh.
Wow, congrats on #2500!

I think the vehicles sound fun, I loved driving my little tank around in Borean Tundra. My concern is that fun with vehicles may not overlap much with 'raiding with vehicles' but we'll have to see. I know I'm a sucker for hype but the descriptions we've seen so far of Ulduar sound so exciting.

Huge armies! Catapults! Voltron! It does sound cool.
The assertion that "NO ONE RUNS" The Oculus piqued my interest. I'm not terribly fond of Oculus myself, but I thought it might be interesting to look for data that could say how often people do run various dungeons.

Conveniently, keeps track of how many times a wowhead contributor has looted various bosses. They upload their loot information to wowhead, and this lets wowhead keep track of how many times each boss has been defeated:

#Times Looted -- Boss / Dungeon
4454 -- Cache of Eregos / The Oculus
6938 -- Sjonnir The Ironshaper / Halls of Stone
7287 -- Herald Volazj / Ahn'kahet
8490 -- Loken / Halls of Lightning
11115 -- Gal'darah / Gundrak
11135 -- Anub'arak / Azjol-Nerub
11579 -- The Prophet Tharon'ja / Drak'Tharon Keep
14164 -- Dark Runed Chest / Stratholme Past
14296 -- King Ymiron / Utgarde Pinnacle
18946 -- Keristrasza / The Nexus
19379 -- Ingvar the Plunderer / Utgarde Keep
22031 -- Cyanigosa / The Violet Hold

The data should be viewed with suspicion, because people running the wowhead data-gathering addon may run more heroics or fewer heroics than the "average" WoW population.

To say that "no one runs" Oculus appears to be an exaggeration, but it does seem to be the least popular heroic.

I am not going to condemn Vehicular Raiding yet - I want to see how it is used in Ulduar before I pass judgment.
As far as I know Bliz stated that the vehicles will have gear dependent stats, so yes, gear does play a role in this first section
So the easiest dungeons are done the most. What else is new? People want easy emblems and gear.
Remove the emblems, and put the related gear back in the dungeons (where it belongs imo) and people will start running the harder ones as well.
As said before, yes the vehicles will be adjusted by gear. im pretty sure I read somewhere, so people in greens cant just go in and get loot here.

Nice list you posted there Jacob. Shame though to see Halls of Stone so long down the list. As it is imo one of the best looking and fun instances to fight in... :)
Maybe if Ulduar is really big, there'll be special construct mounts that we only get to ride in there!
"Especially if that gear-independant part of the raid gives some epic rewards, some of the elitists will be complaining. Which is ironic, because it is usually them who claim that raiding is all about skill and has nothing to do with gear."

Somewhere in the design of WotLK, Blizzard sneakily replaced normal and heroic with easy and normal. Currently, it appears that, assuming one can conform to the encounter, either of skill or gear is enough for nearly every situation. The problem that "elitists" have with new opportunities for easily-attainable gear is that being geared up implies one is ready for progression. If players not capable of dealing with Naxxramas can get gear equivalent or superior to that available there, they may be led to believe they're ready for a more difficult raid.

I'm not so sure what we need is a place that's "leet only" so much as one that requires every player in the raid to be effective, rather than just not in the way.

Using the heroics in TBC as a comparison is inherently flawed. Simply put, the TBC heroics were too hard. None of the T4 content (which gave greater rewards) was as hard as half of the heroic content. If you walked into most heroics without quite a bit of Kara gear, you were in for a lesson in pain.

I wholeheartedly agree that Oculus sucks. It sucks not just because you have to use vehicles, but because you have to use vehicles that aren't much fun. The drakes used in that instance have counter-intuitive abilities (I have to sacrifice my health to heal and drain the boss to keep it up? Huh?) that simply aren't fun. If they used the drakes from Malygos (which lend themselves much more to the healer/dps roles and have less esoteric abilities) I'd like it a whole lot more.

As far as elitism goes... there's a vocal group of the "hardcore" that consider simply seeing content to be a huge reward that only the "elite" should get. There is real anger out there about the fact that a "lesser" guild gets to see all of the content in Naxx10 without doing it the "real" way on Naxx25.

I do like the way gear progression is going to work for Uldar. Naxx10 gears you for Uldar10. Naxx25 and Uldar10 gear you for Uldar25.

Personally, I'm pretty much done with Naxx10 and prefer Naxx25 instead.
I think some folks' gripe, like mine, isn't that fact that some skills are required in mounted encounters. It is the fact that I'm no longer able to use my toon's abilities. While it is only a small portion of the instance, the idea that I spent countless hours learning and perfecting my toon only to have to use some gimmick mount to complete an instance is hard to buy into.
WoW raiding stinks, even if they garner it with roses... or vehicles. The whole system is crap. Still, some of my friends started playing the game again... for the x-th time. Damn addicts.
The thing with the first encounter, as far as my understanding of it goes, is that people will have the option to either control a vehicle or be launched by the vehicle onto the boss and DPS it as they normally would any boss. This, I think, caters to both those who like the siege vehicle mechanic and those (like me) who wishes blizzard would get over it already, and keep it in Wintersgrasp and out of raids.

I personally find phase 3 Malygos gimmicy and loathe occulus. Although, I think a lot of that is more because I find the dungeon poorly paced. I am currently working on my last "glory of the hero" achievement, being the 20 minute timed occulus run, that we've managed to bone everytime we've tried it. . .on the very last boss. Last night we went into it with about 8 minutes, had time to wipe and come back with enough time on the clock to win even, however, our amber drakes were too efficient and the ruby drake just doesn't have the threat generating abilities to even attempt to compensate for it...although our actual tank would have had no issues had the fight been something we were able to do w/o the seige vehicles. So back we go again tonight to that horrible, horrible place.

I know Blizzard is excited about their new stuff. . .but I'm kinda over it.
The issue I have with vehicle fights is that they don't lend themselves well to my healing role and custom UI/macro setup. Yeah, sure, Blizzard doesn't have to support custom interfaces. But being a good healer by using mouseover macros is suddenly destroyed when my action bars are effectively taken away from me, my raid members' PETS start taking damage (forcing me to show raid pets, which I normally don't do) and force me to manually target people to heal them.

It's a good thing healing on Malygos can be dumbed down to spamming a "Revivify x5 + Life Burst" macro on my pet, or it'd take me all day to get my UI to play along. As it is, I still haven't run Oculus on heroic, and it's one of the only two heroics I still need to do for my title (the other being Ahn'kahet, that I just haven't run because nothing drops for me there). I'm not looking forward to it, and I'm probably never going to do the Oculus-specific achievements unless/until they make THOSE vehicles scale with gear too.

Hopefully the vehicles in Ulduar won't have healing abilities, and everyone will have different DPS abilities in that fight. I don't want to have to deal with more vehicle-healing nonsense.
Oculus is the only heroic LK dungeon I have not completed, and I can see why. I thought the new vehicle system worked for some of the DK starting area quests (cannons on the boat for example) but just feels wrong when used in the context of high-end raiding encounters. Will selecting members of a Ulduar raid boil down to players with better 'gaming' skills vs. class skills? This harkens to a time where raids required players to complete the Gorefiend construct Flash simulator before receiving an invite to Black Temple; certain players are better at twitch-gaming skills than others.

I can't say I'm excited about more vehicle based raid encounters. Phase 3 Malygos is borderline annoying now. To me it's just a big clump of dragons (to help with healing), spamming buttons, and waiting for someone to yell "MOVE!" to strafe to your right. I can't even see the boss half the time and oh the crap you take if you aren't keeping your stacks up...

The saving grace of the Uldar encounter may be that there is a variety of vehicles to play. Some vehicles sounds stationary and perhaps "easier" to operate than say a Chopper. You could place raiders in appropriate vehicles based on their gaming-skill level...
The vehicle fight isn't the first fight of the larger Ulduar raid. It is a separate instance, that you must complete to gain access to Ulduar proper. It seems to me that it will be a very quick encounter once you get the hang of it, equivalent to a large pack of trash before a single raid boss. After you have completed it once and gained the key (or whatever) to get into Ulduar you won't need to go back unless you want the loots.
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