Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Wipe/gear quota

Larisa has an interesting observation about people who say that World of Warcraft is too easy: Only 0.13% of them actually beat the hardest content in the game. The other 99.87% are complaining that WoW is too easy, without having been able to beat it themselves. A good part of those 99.87% who didn't actually beat the game did however beat all or nearly all of it in normal mode, and gave up at that point. Larisa says they didn't continue because the "wipe/gear quota" of hard mode wasn't favorable enough. I think that is an interesting statement, with a lot of player psychology behind it.

Once upon a time in World of Warcraft running around in full epic gear was something special. It meant that you were part of a relatively small elite of raiders who got far enough into raid dungeons to fully equip themselves. That made you stand out in comparison to the average player, who couldn't get into a raid, or couldn't get past the first or second boss in the first raid dungeon, and who didn't have other means to acquiring epics. Fast forward to now, and I'm looking at my warrior who is just one piece away from being full epic, without ever having set a foot into Naxxramas or Ulduar. Nevertheless a given raider with a given skill is probably exactly as far away from having beaten the hardest challenge in the game in Wrath of the Lich King than he was with the same skill in vanilla WoW or The Burning Crusade.

So what has changed is not that there suddenly is no more challenge. What has changed is that the difference in rewards between somebody beating the hardest challenge and the average player has shrunk considerably. Especially in people's minds, due the "color psychology" I recently mentioned: Even if beating hard mode gives better rewards in terms of iLevel and stats, the hard mode epics aren't all that distinguishable from the iLevel 200 epics that are handed out like candy nowadays. If you haven't got epic iLevel 200 rings for example, you can do the Headless Horseman event tonight, and get at least one, if not two epic rings, for a fight that even a pickup group has trouble wiping on.

So when people say "World of Warcraft is too easy nowadays", they don't actually mean that there is no challenge left, or that the hardest challenge in the game is too easy to beat. What they are saying is that it is too easy to get rewards that are remarkably similar to those handed out for the hardest challenge. Or to say it somewhat acerbically: What good is raiding if other people aren't jealous of you?

By simply listening to who isn't complaining and who is, you can now distinguish between those who *really* raid for the challenge, and those who are just elitist. If somebody is really playing for the challenge, it wouldn't matter at all to him how easily other players could get the same or similar rewards. If the main motivation for raiding is trying to appear better than your fellow man, the rewards other players get is suddenly of the utmost importance.

And then, of course, there are people like me, who believe neither that modern WoW raids are really a challenge nor in "achievements" in a video game actually meaning anything. My main reasons for raiding have always been a) hanging out with the guys, and b) epics being the key that gives you access to further content. The latter is less and less the case. Better gear makes raiding easier, but the kind of epic gear you can already get rather easily is good enough to enable you to see all content in normal mode.

What I kind of miss from the "good old times" of raiding with my priest was that the challenge at that time was about how well you played your character, at least in the case of my healer. In Molten Core and Blackwing Lair I constantly had to make intelligent decisions which were not only based on speed, but also on mana efficiency. Anyone remember "healing rotations", with one healer not casting for some time to regain mana, while another healer was taking over his role? Somewhere on the way mana efficiency was removed from the equation. Nowadays I often just spam healing spells as fast as the cooldown allows, while simultaneously playing some sort of jump'n'run platformer game, not unlike Super Mario Brothers, in which the "challenge" consists of performing this much simplified healing strategy while having to constantly move around for some artificial reason. One the one side each of these particular jump'n'run mini-games isn't all that hard to do, on the other side success very much depends on how much training you had on that particular boss, while how well you play your character class and how well you are geared has become a lot less important. So if I'm not raiding any more it isn't because raiding is too hard, too easy, too many wipes per gear, or not enough boasting potential. It is because I find the jump'n'run kind of challenge a lot less interesting than the more tactical challenge of vanilla WoW raids.
Once upon a time being able to clear BWL gave you a huge bonus on those who were doing five men instances.

The five men instances would give improper gear. Blue Sta/int for a mage instead of spell damage. While those in BWL gear would have lots of the good stuff. They'd easily be doing twice the damage as the blue mages. The gear/power difference was insane and if the next instance came out people in blues couldn't even think about clearing it. It resulted in a very small minority of the players who actually finished all the raid content.

Nowaydays you can quickly get similar gear through other means. Seasonals, heroics, 10 mens... And you can go to the latest tier of instances without having finished the previous ones.

The game has become a lot friendlier to the more casual players. They can now see the end game content too. Even if they get stuck on e.g. the Ulduar endboss they can still continue playing. You don't need to have every member of your guild kill that boss to progress to the next tier (some scepter of the endboss or so).

It's a good thing for most players as most players fit in that category. The top players of the old days however are seeing that what they're doing is not so special anymore. Even casuals go to those instances and are decked out in good epics. Overall, the game has gotten "easier" as it has gotten easier to get gear. And the major reason is that the gear/power difference between a casual and hardcore player has mostly vanished.
The solution is actually very simple... in every expansion that raises the level cap, add a new gear color. We had green, blue and purple, so they should now introduce orange as the rare drop world/raid loot color. Then red, then yellow, perhaps black.
I large percentage of people actually don't care about the Hard Mode model because it's the same fights, just rehashed slightly. Only a precious few of them actually change drastically when you do hard mode - most just demand more dps, more healing, or less screw-ups.

So, following the logical progression of normal mode -> hard mode, you're not getting to experience any new content and are already burnt out on the fights by the time you're prepared to try them.

It's not - and has never been - all about the gear for a great many players who hate the new WoW raid model.
People aren't interested in challenges alone. If they were .. well - I can think of a million stupid challenges.

They are interested in achieving something although it is hard. That's what makes us, humans, happy after all.

Evolution made us not enjoy stupid challenging stuff that doesn't offer any reward. And this is one reason for why humankind is not living on trees anymore. We like to beat a challenge and gain something appropiate to the difficulty of the challenge.

It doesn't matter how often you (or other bloggers) repeat that those who want a challenge can have on in WoW. We are humans. We like to beat challengings tasts and achieving something appropiate.

We won't try to get the slighty better apple on the top of the tree if a million nice apples are in front of our feet.

Good game design doesn't fight human nature, but uses it.
Huh? Are you saying that hard modes are not a challenge? Or that they are a stupid challenge? Or are you saying that they aren't giving enough rewards, which happens to be what Larisa and I were saying.
"What good is raiding if other people aren't jealous of you?" - I love it! You perfectly summed up the 'hardcore' players with this quote.

As for the running around in raids mini-game, I completely agree. It's rather sad that standing in a certain spot has become the 'challenging' end-game mechanic.

It seems Blizz has done a great job with loot and accessibility, but they still haven't quite figured out what end-game raiding should be (should that even be the end-game?).
Your comparison to old raiding and hard mode is off. In vanilla the motivation to keep raiding was not because you got gear people would inspect at the mailbox, it was because that gear opened up NEW content. Beating Rag allowed you to beat Nef, beating Nef got you to C'Thun, which got you into real Nax. Same deal in TBC. It was all new content, and that was the motivation. I know you find this impossible to believe (as you seem to have a similar hatred for dedicated raiders as you do for PvP players), but raiders really don't care what Joe Casual things about them, and if anything get annoyed after the 100th person asks where we got item X. Why do you think most raiders (at least back in vanilla) set themselves to anon?

That today people are skipping the excuse for content that is hard mode, which is the equivalent of running MC without fire resist gear, is not because the gear is only X% better and no longer impresses Joe Casual, but because getting that gear does nothing for you. With or without it you have already seen 99.9% of the content, so it's no surprise most don't bother to one-hand raid to see the final (and insignificant) .1%.

If the next raid has only a hard mode, one that requires previous hard mode gear to access, you can bet a whole lot of raiding guilds would magically find the motivation to go and get that gear. But they know that's not the case, and they know even if they only half finish today's raids, they will still be able to steamroll normal mode and see Arthas die.
Hi - I'm the writer of the original post over at World of Matticus that Larisa referenced.

I think you've hit the nail on the head, at least for some players. There's a feeling that encounters are less varied and interesting - feel less natural. "Spam spam spam spa- Eh? I need to move out of something on the floor? Who'd have guessed."

The word "challenge" has morphed in Wrath - but as you say, that doesn't mean there's no challenge. I know my guild are finding plenty of it. At the same time, as you say, the gear-gap has shrunk. The most powerful rewards for the hardest, most wipe-inducing content, are not that much more powerful than epics of descending ilevel gear.

The crux of a player's enjoyment is both their reason for, and approach to, playing, in my opinion. That then informs how they react to and enjoy the content of the game as a whole.
The hardest part now is the social selection. ie. "LF 5k DPS for ToC, link stats and achievement." How can you get to do it if if you have to have already done it?

I spent months trying to find a group to do EE and gave up. Seems the only way to experience some content is to have the right friends/guild. That to me, is poor game design.

I would like to see combat bonuses result from other things besides gear -- like rep, guild rep or content completed. It would incorporate other elements of the game that seem worthless.
The hardest part now is the social selection. ie. "LF 5k DPS for ToC, link stats and achievement." How can you get to do it if if you have to have already done it? I spent months trying to find a group to do EE and gave up. Seems the only way to experience some content is to have the right friends/guild. That to me, is poor game design.

Note that you correctly identified that as a problem of game design. Raid encounters are now designed to train a certain response from the players to some special ability of the encounter. The more often you already did it, the more likely are you to succeed. Thus pickup groups only invite you if you can prove you already did it, which leads to the dilemma you mentioned. It's a bit like looking for a job and only finding job offers asking for experienced applicants.
I agree with you 100% on this one.

I started playing 3 weeks before TBC was released and since then I've noticed that the game hasn't gotten harder, it's gotten faster and to be honest more annoying. It seems to be all about reaction time (as a healer) instead of "smart" playing.

I remember trying to heal Halazzi in Zul'Aman the first few times we we're in there. We only had Tier 4 level gear and could barely heal it since most of us would go OOM due to the incredible amount of damage he was putting out. So we had to play "smart", chain-mana pots, use mana saving abilities, etc. It wasn't so much about running around avoiding fire/runes and just spamming heals, it was about playing your class and knowing their abilities.

I miss that a lot. :-( the game has become a Street Fighter IV clone in some cases. All you do is run around and mash buttons.

It's starting to lose it's appeal. Which I'm sadden to say because I really love this game.

You clearly prefer the older days of raiding when the pace was somewhat subdued and decisions, at least for you, were more tactical. However, why is the current raiding paradigm any more arbitrary or artificial than mana regen rotations, resist fights, and razor thin enrage timers?

One of the original "hard modes," releaed with Wrath, is Sartherion with three drakes. Especially early on when tanks didn't outgear the encounter, tanks and healers had to coordinate cooldowns in order to make it through the most perilous section of the fight. One had to have a list between the healers of who would deliver their life saving, long cooldown spell in order to keep the main tank from getting two-shotted by Sartherion while the other drakes were up.

That at least seems like a tactical fight in a similiar vein as raids of yore, yet it also throws in more "gamey" elements like flamewalls and void zones that demand fast reactions and coordination. It might not be your cup of tea but it also doesn't seem any more artificial than vanilla WoW raiding.

Lastly, you seem to be implying that current raids don't require players to play their characters well; they need only to react to gimmicks to succeed. I don't understand that objection at all, particularly for hard mode encounters. The DPS requirements are for many bosses still quite high, if not in the sense of a hard enrage timer then in the sense that the longer the fight drags on the more liable people are to die to other elements of the encounter. Excellent player skill will make those elements less relevant, as will great coordination make player skill less important, but there is minimum for both and that floor is still quite high.
I returned to WoW this month after leaving in 2007. I haven't been back long enough to comment on the current state of end-game raid content, but I have noticed that 5 man instances are dumbed down.

The key difference from what I've experienced seems to be that mobs in WOTLK do not flee at low health and pull adjacent groups. Couple that change with the fact that tanks now have no problem holding threat on multiple targets and you've removed the strategy that existed in the earlier dungeon runs. I would love to see crowd control make a comeback in the next expansion.
I agree Tobold.
Though for me the biggest challenge in WoW is to find the time to actually do some raiding. ;-) I have done it a couple of months as a healer, but it became too demanding, so I quit playing that character.
Then I decided to try tanking heroic dungeons. I thought it would be more exciting to do heroic dungeons as a tank, thinking about how often I heard people say tanking is the hardest job in WoW.
Well, it turned out the opposite. Yesterday I finished *pugging* all heroic dungeons (incl. totc) and none of them have been a challenge. In fact, they were more like a joke, since the groups I was in just aoe-ed every single dungeon and I hardly had to wait for anyone to regen mana. On top of that, after that short while of playing my tank, I am currently defense capped and have 31k hp. Without raiding!
So, I'm done playing WoW again, and I don't think I'll be back for a long time, since now I've seen dps, healing and tanking.
Um... Syncaine? WoW has never had an "anon" mode. DND mode, sure... but never an "anon" mode.

Anyway - personally I would love to do hardmode raiding. Because it IS more challenging (and I have a high toleration for repeated content). Sadly, the rest of my current guild pretty much refuses to do hardmodes. And now that we finally finished ONE Val'anyr we've abandoned Ulduar. I want to go BACK into Ulduar for hardmodes.

So yeah - I believe the problem with hardmodes is the lack of "sufficient" rewards. The fact that we haven't seen another Algalon type boss (available only to hardmodes) means that Blizzard probably feels that it isn't worth the development time.

We will still get hardmodes in 3.3 and Cataclysm, no doubt. I doubt we'll see another Algalon for a long time, though.
Even though I gave up raiding a long time ago, I definitely agree with this post. Nothing WoW has done since vanilla has been as much fun to raid as MC, Ony, and BWL were back in the day. I don't consider myself a nostalgist, but I definitely didn't enjoy any of the raids that came after them in WoW. As Tobold points out, they just aren't as interesting from a tactical perspective.

If I want to play something where reflexes and training count, I will play Call of Duty. I don't play an MMORPG for that.
As a Tank I can concur with the healers that the challenge of playing your class well has disappeared.

The pre-Wrath each trash pull required at least 1 cc, a kill order, and you have to be aware of wandering mobs. This could make instance extremely slow compared to now, but it was more challenging as you had to pay attention to your environment, and make decisions on how you were going to move the tank targets away from the CC targets. Everyone a had a specific role to play.

The AOE feast that was Nax just meant you could gather up large groups of mobs and AOE burn the down. Individual player accountability was done away with (when was the last time you saw a hunter kite the blue square away from the group in a instance/raid?). When Ulduar first dropped (pre nerf) I felt the skill of tanks and healers seem irreverent. If the tank took two consecutive hits without a 20K heal, the tank would die. Blizzard solution to easy of Nax, was just to make everything hit harder in Ulduar. How quickly players could push buttons became the challenge, not the content.
I once made a topic on a forum asking what peoples "goals" in WoW were. I then responded to their comments to try to get the real reason why. It can up when the emblem change was going in.

My theory was people only complain, or feel it is unfair when something is done to the game to conflict with their goals and that most people don’t really know the basis or what their disclosed goals stems form.

So someone saying "You don't need epics if you just run heroics!!" “They need to stop nerfing dungeons!!”

Stated Goal "Clear Ulduar"
Real Goal "To distinguish myself from Bads"

If the goal was strictly to “Clear Ulduar,” blizzard handing out free epics or nerfing content would only make that easier. However, making gear easier to get or making content easier, will make it harder from him to distinguish himself from others, which conflicts with his real goal.

In a way it is understandable. If you were in one of the first guilds to do OS+3 on your server, but then you took a break and came back and tried to get into a ToC PuG, and the leader was like “OS+3? Zerg FTL. Link a real achievement or find another group.” It isn’t hard to imagine that old-school boy flipping out.

Brought up because your Challenge to Elitist statement. Main point being is when asked most people have no idea what their goals really are in WoW, or why they really even play. Just like when people in real life say they want “Money.” Money by itself is useless, it tends to end up being they want, Power/Control or Stability.
Um... Syncaine? WoW has never had an "anon" mode. DND mode, sure... but never an "anon" mode.

Syncaine doesn't remember that, because in spite of writing negatively about World of Warcraft every week, he hasn't actually played WoW since years. You could even say he played less WotLK than Ed Zitron played Darkfall. Up to you to decide how relevant that makes his comments about the state of raiding today.
I completely agree with everything that Sean said. I would like to add though, that healing is only not strategic in normal mode fights. In hard modes, especially in 25 man, mana conservation, strategic healing assignments, and strategic healing execution are all still very much part of the game. All of the "gimicks" of a fight are on top of what has traditionally made a fight hard.

If you're not seeing that part of the game it's because you're doing exactly what you referred to in this post. You're quitting after normal modes because they're too easy and don't take any significant amount of strategy and saying that WoW hasn't given you what you're looking for.
It's there, you just haven't tried it yet my friend.
Allow me to paint a different picture.

I used to be a hardcore raider. In addition to 25-mans, I spent one night a week working on 10-man Glory of the Raider (this was when 10-man Sarth+3 was the hardest encounter in the game). Downing Sarth+3 after weeks of effort -- preparation, practice, teamwork -- was probably the greatest rush I've ever gotten from WoW.

Why did we bother? To complete the hardest content in the game, of course. It's nothing to do with gear (we had better) or making strangers jealous (lol), and everything to do with the challenge. The challenge is what makes a raider tick, right?

It wasn't the goal for the other 15+ raiders in our guild, who wouldn't even ATTEMPT Sarth+3 in 25-man for the longest time. Maybe you can guess what caused our guild to split a couple months into Ulduar.

I didn't need much incentive to do hard modes, possibly none at all. But I do need 24 (or at least 9) other skilled players who feel the same. I transferred twice in search of such a group, but didn't find anything stable in my late-night time slot.

Then ToC came out, with its brand new way of demoralizing hard-mode raiders. ("Great job downing that first boss in two attempts! You may not fight the second boss yet. You may not attempt hard mode yet. Oh, and good luck getting a full Ulduar raid together anymore...") So I stopped raiding. I rolled a couple toons on Tich and have been enjoying my PvP "education." :D

Am I a hypocrite for criticizing the hard-mode system when I haven't beaten the latest hard-mode content? Do I secretly just want a bunch of strangers to be jealous of my stuff? You tell me.
One thing about whether people have completed WoW or not is whether you buy Blizzard's line that hard modes are actually extra content.

If I've killed every boss in the game I feel I'm done and I couldn't give a tinker's cuss whether there's some achievement for doing it blind-folded while hoping on one legs and jumping over barrels.

So if you take out the hard modes then you'll find a lot of people saying WoW is too easy have actually killed every raid boss.

Personally I don't think WoW is too easy. I just don't find the stuff I haven't killed engaging for precisely the reasons you describe. I'm a strategy-minded gamer who likes mana management more than vehicle driving or platform gaming.
As an old Hunter not "tard" i miss the days of chain trapping and kite tanking a stray mob while the rest of the party finishes off the main pull.

Tanks no longer even bother to mark, pulls start even when heals are low on worries.

In raids tank rotations and heal rotations are no longer needed. At the most you may have a taunt partner.

WoW is great game and im glad it is doing so well but the game just doesn't do it for me anymore.

Maybe i was just spoiled with the adventure that even a 5 man instance brought in the past. Now it's just how fast can we get this done to get our badges.../sigh.
I’ve been playing WoW since mid-2006, and I never quite know what to think about discussions like this. Frankly, in PvE, I don’t think about it much. I’m just playing for escapist recreational fun. Personally, if I want a challenge, I go out into the real world, not a video game.

People are critical of raiding in Wrath, and how it pales when compared to vanilla. And I make a mental note that vanilla reruns (Naxx and Ony) are a big chunk of Wrath’s raid content. Yeah, attunements are history, gold is easy, game mechanics have changed, like mana regeneration / potion chugging and having to have specific classes and lack of need for CC. However, I didn’t see it at 60, but I assume that “Mario Bros” content like the Heigan dance and the Thaddius jump and polarity shift and Ony ‘deep breaths’ are pretty much vanilla rehash.

I hear that raiding in Wrath is too easy. On the other hand I seem to recall how 40-man raiding in vanilla was described at the time as 10 or 15 hardcore carrying 25 or 30 casuals. I remember PUG raids of toons in greens ‘n blues on my server in vanilla (my son picked up an epic on his very first 40-man ZG PUG). I personally gathered up a few epics with PvP at 58-60, and frankly, it was not ‘hard’ or ‘challenging’, it was just a grind that I enjoyed.

Seems like the more things change, the more they stay the same.
I agree with the post. Im working on two level 73 alts right now and have left my two 80's because of the fact that every week we run Ulduar and 95% of the gear now is Disenchanted. I find it boring now. At the same time it didnt take me to long to gear up for wow, actually I started it about week after I turned 80.

On a really sad part I went into PUG 25 man naxx for fun because my guild wont even touch it now and there was a DK with greens and BOA items.

I wish blizz learned from LOTRO and did a legendary weapon system. A weapon that has levels and a stat tree system.
I'll say this again, even at the risk of sounding repetitive - The simplicity of grouping in Vanilla WoW, prior to the LFG interface and the idiotic achievement list, was what made the game fun. Period.

WoW's problem now results from the abandonment of older content in lieu of the newer content being released. This includes raid content as well as zone quests and 5-man instances. Look back to Dire Maul and remember how difficult the instances were there versus the gear that was obtainable - the risks versus rewards formula for Dire Maul was near perfect in my opinion. It offered content that allowed even MC raiders to get upgrades - like Quel'Serrar, for example, or the book turn-ins at the library. It has it's own PvP arena as well as the rare spawns who, from time to time wandered in.

The place had a purpose for existing and the Bosses were there for a reason. The Lore of the game drew you in and made the journeys there worthwhile. You just dont have that in the recent content with the exception of Arthas, perhaps. When we killed Ragnaros for the first time - we knew who he was, what he represented, and what it meant to Azeroth and the many Kingdoms of WoW when we finally killed him.

The loot we got as a result told us we were successful, and that we had obtained something that not many others could attain.

In my humble opinion, the problems that Tobold and Larisa are posting about deals more with the fragmentation of the playerbase in too many different directions at one time, and with the lack of solidly developed lore that explains the threat of a raid boss, and the reasons it must be killed, getting an achievement or a nice piece of loot leaves an empty hollow void inside of us in the end.

How many of you can answer without googling the information, off the top of your heads, the reason that Sartharion needs to be killed? And how does killing him with 3 drakes add any benefit to the lore of the encounter?

If the simple answer is loot, then we as players have already lost contact with why we should be playing these -games- in the first place.
Wow, there's a lot of good info in these comments. I think lore is really important as well and if its been lost then they really have lost focus as Chris suggests.
I don't consider lore a strong point of World of Warcraft. Between space goats and Harleys I think most players have lost interest in lore long ago. And if you didn't play Warcraft before playing World of Warcraft, much of the lore is impossible to understand if you just play WoW anyway.
A couple comments...

In the early days of vanilla WoW, I and some guildmates had some of the most advanced characters on my server. Those of us who neither desired to show off, nor wanted to appear to be showing off, swapped to more common gear when visiting public places like Ironforge. As the guild tailor I made quite a few outfits for that purpose, for those who shared our perspective. Some did wish to show off, and that was fine. I never had a problem with others wanting that kind of attention if that was what made the game more fun for them. And I respected the ones who admitted it.

WoW raiding, from the beginning, involved too much choreography for my taste. I said so here and elsewhere back in the day. I used to joke that one day Blizzard would make an encounter that required everyone to dance, turn around, and genuflect in a certain direction, in unison, to beat a boss. It appears that my threshold of tolerance was lower for that sort of by-the-numbers scripting than most others who are only now starting to be bothered by it.
@Doeg: on the other hand, back when I was playing vanilla wow the regular dungeons were really hard. I didn't have time to raid back then either, but I did spend about the same time running dungeons (pugging, as always), which equals steamrolling several heroics a week in WotLK.
And some things I remember, is that I have never gotten past Ambassador Flamelash, have seen General Drakkisath go down just twice (after every pug member paid 5g to a random player who happened to have the key and was willing to be summoned and open the door for us, for a price), never finished Stratholme timed, on time, only once saw Darkmaster Gandling go down when I was lucky enough to be invited for a 10-man in progress, and have never even been inside Dire Maul.
In addition to that, I have been the owner of *one* epic item in vanilla wow, and I was extremely happy when I got it. And I'm not ashamed to say it was a Krol Blade =)
Tobold, no offense but healing rotation for mana regen was one of the silliest mechanics in game. You were forced to actually not play in order to play the game. Vanilla WoW was mostly tank & spank and the only required skill was knowing when to interrupt your cast to not overheal and lose mana.

Current day healing is actually a lot more than just blindly spamming spells. Juggling target selections, cooldowns, cast times and predicting incoming damage are all still needed if you plan to do challenging content. And mana conservation still plays a pretty big part, especially if you're not overgeared for the content. Sure, if all you do is zerg Naxx then you don't need any of those, but if you try some hard modes you should have all your tactical healing cravings more than satisfied.

As to the rest of your post, I 100% agree, "What good is raiding if other people aren't jealous of you?" is a perfect description of a lot of moaners' attitudes.
Chris said:
"How many of you can answer without googling the information, off the top of your heads, the reason that Sartharion needs to be killed? And how does killing him with 3 drakes add any benefit to the lore of the encounter?

If the simple answer is loot, then we as players have already lost contact with why we should be playing these -games- in the first place."

I would say the lore is not THE reason we're playing games, only one of the reasons. WoW is a game before a simulated world, and that's why it's such a compelling and popular experience.

Also, offering different play styles is not player fragmentation, is enabling player choice - vastly superior to forced grouping as the only avenue for advancement, for example.

You seem to pine for "the simplicity of grouping in Vanilla WoW", I say pugging for a group these days has never been more convenient. Even 25 man raids are pugged successfully today, how does that compare to guilds not being able to run 40 man raids because they were missing a few people?
You're right with the following:
Real Goal "To distinguish myself from Bads"

This is the real goal of those complaining on dumbing down the content, making shortcuts as badge gear overriding previous tier of raiding, etc.

This is also the goal of all those ridiculous "link achiev", "link [epic]", "must have gear and 5k dps". They strive in vain to put more and more ridiculous "gates" to keep the "bads" out of their raids, but there are none, you can't distinguish good player from bad by gear any more, and the achievement doesn't show much and is not fool-proof.

The game enters a state of a vicious circle: EVERYONE wants to feel "I'm better than others", but it's simply not possible, you need those bads anchored to their greens and low-end blues stuck on farming heroic Slave Pens or Blackrock Spire. Keep it as it is, and people will revolt "we're not seeing content", "we pay the same buck, why should we end in greens", "this game is far too elitist".

Ok, so you change it. You remove the visible stigma of "bads" by giving them the same or only slightly lower rewards. Now, no one feels better or rewarded, people feel rich or poor, good or bad only in comparison to others.

Remove those "others" or lift them up, make everyone equal, and people will be unhappy they can't show they're "better than others". Don't make everyone equal, and the ones at the bottom will start an uproar they pay the same $ so should get the same rewards.

No one wants to be at the bottom of social hierarchy, but to be on the "top" requires an existence of the bottoms, otherwise, there's neither top nor bottom. Make everyone the same and people will start making artificial means to distinguish from each other, even if those are totally ridiculous.

And yes, people do raid for rewards. If they wanted to "see content" or "get achievement" they would do it once. The reason to make them do it for 3 months until next patch is grinding gear. Or, they could make it the other way around, as they did before, you needed to grind gear on the first few bosses for several weeks until the majority of the raid got some pieces, to even beat the rest of the instance.
Good point Chris:
"I returned to WoW this month after leaving in 2007. I haven't been back long enough to comment on the current state of end-game raid content, but I have noticed that 5 man instances are dumbed down.

The key difference from what I've experienced seems to be that mobs in WOTLK do not flee at low health and pull adjacent groups. Couple that change with the fact that tanks now have no problem holding threat on multiple targets and you've removed the strategy that existed in the earlier dungeon runs. I would love to see crowd control make a comeback in the next expansion."

When I say 'WoW is too easy' THIS is what I mean:

1) I can AOE Tank my way through 5 man dungeons while barely paying attention. I simply get into my rotation and keep going. I don't have to communicate with the healer, the healer is never out of mana, I never have to worry about runners or crowd control. There's never any fear that we might die to any of the trash mobs if we screw up.

Hell, last ToC I tanked, I realized every single DPS was attacking a different mob.. and you know, I didn't even care.

We finished one boss fight only to realize the mage had been disconnected from the start, and nobody noticed.

2) Whether I play my hunter, mage or warlock I'm essentially doing the exact same thing. AOE, AOE, AOE. I don't have to break off from AOEing to crowd control anything. My hunter doesn't have to use his pet to protect a healer who drew aggro or trap anything. My mage never has to bother casting polymorph.

They're essentially all the same character, just with different graphics.

3) I was tanking L80 instances at L78 with no trouble. You can skip most progression since gear is so easy to obtain that the content becomes trivial. You can pretty much go directly to doing Heroic dungeons when you hit L80. No reason to bother with normal dungeons.

Even the heroic dungeons follow the same formula. Walk forward, AOE everything. Beat the loot pinata at the end by not standing in his black stuff/red stuff/green stuff. Collect even more overpowered epic gear.

4) Normal outdoor questing is trivial. Doing the Argent Tourney dailies I was taking on 7-8 L80 mobs on my own at once. I was L79 at the time. There was no skill to it. No consideration of where to pull from or what mob to pull. I simply walk forward and hit my rotation.

I remember a time when 'pulling' was actually a skill and deciding which mob to pull from where was the difference between surviving the fight or dying beneath a pile of mobs.

5) Rewards carry no real value since you're basically drowned in epic gear from shortly before you hit 80. I couldn't give a damn that everyone else is wearing epic gear, I wouldn't care if they gave it away to every other person in the mail, free. I want it to mean something for ME when I get it. I want to work for my stuff so that it's all the more sweet when I get it.

6) Since it's so easy to kill basic mobs, there is no incentive to group or interact with other people. They're simply there to facilitate you getting more gear in an instance.

I remember grinding Timbermaw rep with a group before the game got dumbed down. It was fun and there was actually a benefit because there was less chance of being overrun by mobs.

Now everything is done on your own. You never see groups doing anything together other than instancing. Group quests are a passing annoyance that you either get a L80 friend to lead you through or you skip till you can solo it a few levels later.

I miss trash mobs that were scary and could actually kill you. I miss crowd control. I miss having to have a plan before you started a fight. I miss managing aggro and I miss loot that mattered.

But don't mind me, I'm just a bitter, nasty hardcore who doesn't want the casuals to have the same epics like I do.
When I used to play wow, the times I had the most fun were early in BC. Either as a hunter smoothly crowd controlling while keeping ahead on damage or as a warrior aoe tanking instances most groups would insist on three crowd control for.

The best time was probably aoeing through shattered halls, tanking on the warrior with three aoe dps, back when shattered halls was serious business.

Why was it fun? Because those around me told me it was hard.
Challenge for the sake of challenge isn't enough. For me it is a sense of progression. You work towards killing the last boss in a raid and every fight up to that is preperation for the last. Unfortunately ToC only has 5 bosses. Thats it. 5

They all died in 5 weeks and what is the incentive for going back in? There is no magical 6th boss that can only be unlocked by killing everything on heroic. If there was I would feel like I have more incentive to focus on the heroic.

As it is I have a hard time forcing myself to bang my head against content just to kill bosses I've already killed. Gear isn't an incentive at all because heroic gear will just get replaced or will be on the same level as icecrown gear.

So you put in all the effort just to not get gear when the next raid rolls out? I'll be able to get ToC 10 equivelant gear from running the icecrown 5 man heroics. Which is a big reason why I am letting my sub lapse till icecrown. I have all the gear I need out of ToC 10 and 25 on my 2 main raiding toons... and there isn't the motivation to gear up my other 5 toons through ToC when I can do the 5 man next patch.
@Ayr: I disagree with you on Mana. I heal as a resto shaman. Doing Ulduar I can heal my butt of and never go below 90% mana. If im casualy healing I never go below 95%. Even our two Holy priest never ever run out of mana. Myself I have been slowely turned off with healing. When I healed Kara on my priest myself and all other healers used to work harder at mana management. At no time at all could a Holy priest just sit there and spam aoe heals through the whole fight.

back on subject.... One of the reasons I enjoyed Vanilla and BC was the fact that 5 mans and raids ment something. You needed to gear up to do some 5 mans and gear even more for others. This all at the top levels. Now like others have said its not about getting new gear out of instances its about how fast you can do the instance to "farm" emblems. Even in BC you would have a harder time doing heroics with all blues, now I see people doing heroics with greens still on. Sigh....

Well, we can have 10- or 25-ToC down in 5 weeks - not counting 10- or 25-Heroic ToC, if your position is that's not "additional content". Or we could have it like TBC, with most guilds stuck on Kael and Vashj for months (not to mention Sunwell). Or back further, where a teensy percentage of players ever saw Naxx.

Would you rather bang your head on content that is impossible for your guild to get down for months, or down it all, and bang your head on a hard-mode version?


Actually, in TBC "mana management" for my Holy Priest was having a stack of mana potions to chug for certain fights - and when they limited potions to one-per-fight everyone had a heart attack until they realized that mana regen was upped to compensate. And in my case, I remember certain fights (especially in ZA) where my job was to spam CoH (back when it had no cooldown) for the whole fight. In TBC people didn't farm heroics for emblems - they farmed Kara for badges every week instead.

From my Holy Priest’s perspective, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
@Anony the mouse!
"The best time was probably aoeing through shattered halls, tanking on the warrior with three aoe dps, back when shattered halls was serious business."

I wuv you. I told someone who started playing with WotLK this. They just stared at me and told me warrior aoe tanking wasn't hard at all, and what I said was really no big deal, why say it like it was?

...made me very glad I didn't buy the xpac and no longer play.
I moan that the game is too easy, and yes im someone that hasnt done the hard modes.

Its not about gear for me though, maybe for some ill advised months it was, but now that allegation cannot be levelled. If it was true I wouldn't be in a ten man guild. All gear gets reset a few months now anyway- which is great, no problem with that.

I miss the excitement of finally killing a boss to see the next big bad dude you'd only seen in screenshots. That raid was always special where you killed the boss you'd been working on 5 minutes from end of raid but still managed to clear the trash to have a 99% wipe for laughs on the new guy.

These days you steam roller the content and theres no suprises. I would much prefer a return to the older system even if it means I dont get to see Arthas die, because simply I would enjoy and be driven to play the game more.

Also look at heroics- they were badly designed in Wrath. Every one become all too quickly a zerg to see how fast you could get them done. Some of my favourite times in the game came from beating scholo, brd, shadowlabs etc- the heroics were a bad let down, theres no fun running something thats that easy. Before the emblem grind I had run some of them only once I think- no reason to go back.

A final thought on the hard modes- I usually play an xbox game on normal till I complete it. Then afterwards I rarely (if ever) replay on hard- Instead I pick up another game. Some people will, but more often than not that decision is driven by finance (ie cant afford another game). I dont move on to new games if playing one I enjoy and its tough though- Im looking at you ninja gaiden!
5-mans in WotLK have definitely become much more simplified, but hard-mode raiding has definitely not been made less tactical or easier. The only tactical choice that has been removed is mana-conservation to an extent if you outgear the content.

However, nearly every fight in Wrath is far more complex, both tactically and mechanically than vanilla WoW. Just look at how simple the rehashed Naxx and Ony are compared to brand new WotlK raids like Ulduar and TOC.

As a matter of fact, the two most Super Mario Bro. like fights in the entire game are Heigan and Thaddius, coming directly from Vanilla. The rest of the fights in old-world raids were mostly tank/spank with some small gimmicks.

On the other hand, if you've attempted 25-man hard modes in Ulduar or TOC, there are actually plenty of tactical decisions to be made in each and every fight with additional gimmicks laid on top. You just haven't seen them what's underneath.

@Snoop101 If you are a Shaman and you NEVER drop below 90% mana, either you are doing something very wrong or your raid is greatly overgearing the content you're attempting. We're doing TOC-25 hard modes and the healers in our raids going OOM is a very common occurrence and they often need to ask for innervates, etc.
Wow, has anyone complaining about not having to CC anything actually tried getting near General Vezax? Healing him also provides the mana management fun some people love. Although granted 1 fight in 1 expansion is pretty poor.

I'm a fury warrior and the thought of TBC makes me hyperventilate. All I remember was lf1M Mage/Hunter/Rogue for Blood Furnace.

While a level of CC is an added challenge and it was very funny watching our guild forget how to trap, sheep and sap effectively on the trash to General Vezax, it's nice to be able to pug and raid without the mandatory cc requirements.

Either give every class an effective CC ability which then tests their ability to apply it well and bring back the need for it in instances or have it as an optional extra.

I also agree that there was a big push to make all content excessable to the masses, now those same people seem to be complaining they are bored with nothing compelling to do.

In TBC, I was a casual raider and spent most of my time farming Kara, TK and eventually the first few bosses in MH, what kept me going was the challenge of the content I'd yet to see. It seems having removed the attunements and creating normal and hardmodes has removed that drive from the casual raider although thats what they asked for! Welcome to the WoW of what used to be the elite, finished the content? You're just gonna have to wait until the next content patch.
someone mentioned Dire Maul earlier and it brought back so many memories i almost wanna re-subscribe just to go take a stroll through it...

i miss Dire Maul so much... probably the best instance in WoW... and what's sad is i bet more people have cleared naxx than have cleared Dire maul... a lot of WoW fanboys have never even heard of Dire Maul... it's sad.

i had so much fun doing Dire Maul tribute runs.. even though it took me like 13 runs to finally get the flipping staff of the ogre magi... and all the good hunter stuff for my hunter... even after i got all the stuff i wanted i had a bunch of tribute run mats left so whenever i saw someone "LFG DM tribute run.. pst" i would always jump in just because it was an awesome and challenging instance.

i remember being on my hunter, with another hunter friend, and i think a paladin... we 3 manned all the way to the hall outside the king's throne area... it was a blast!!

Dire Maul is hands down the best instance Blizz ever made... why can't they get back to that?

it was challenging, fun, and rewarding... what happened?

i could go on and list all the reasons WoW has lost pretty much all its core players and has nothing but casuals left... but that's another story.

those of you who have experienced DM and all it's glory know what i'm talking about.. and i'm going to go out on a limb and say that i guarantee anyone who has ever been on a tribute run NO LONGER PLAYS WOW...

cause all the things we loved about DM... can no longer be found in WoW... sad but true.
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