Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Is raiding becoming obsolete?

My warrior, who never got into raiding, picked up his first T9 iLevel 232 epic last night, a helmet paid for with 50 emblems of triumph. I could have waited and gotten the iLevel 245 helmet for 75 emblems, but I figured I'd rather get more pieces upgraded from the current iLevel 200 to 232 than fewer pieces to 245. To top all that off, if I keep doing the daily random dungeon for three weeks, I'll get my first iLevel 264 epic from emblems of frost. And all that without raiding.

My level 73 mage, being dps only, has more trouble finding dungeon groups, even with the new Dungeon Finder. But I did notice that the reward from doing a daily normal dungeon is 2 emblems of triumph as well. Thus theoretically I could collect these emblems before even reaching the level cap, and once I ding 80 I immediatedly get up to iLevel 245 gear for them. Is raiding becoming obsolete?

Of course "obsolete" is somewhat provocative. But what I do think is happening is that raiding is becoming optional. Between 5-man dungeons, battlegrounds, arena, daily quests, and other events, raiding is slowly turning into one of many optional endgame activities. Great if you like it, but not mandatory if you have trouble with the organizational effort or time committment. It is far from being the one and only pathway to better gear nowadays. And that is good.

I'd like to visit Naxxramas with my warrior. I think my best chance to do so is to wait until Naxxramas is the target for the weekly raid quest (which gives 5 emblems of triumph and 5 emblems of frost), and then either get a guild group going, or use the /lfr looking for raid functionality. But that plan is based on me *wanting* to go there, for the fun of it, not because that is the only way I could gear up. And that is cool with me. I love having lots of options without being forced into anything.
Blizzard has consistently said that they prefer to make games that they themselves like to play, so any shift in developer/designer demographics or preferences reflects into the game. Now that certain hardcore raiders are busy with other games, other designers have seized the opportunity to shape the game in their image.
I'm ok with the LFG and badge options provided that the 5-man items are one or more ilvl tiers below the current raid content. I'm ok with people not comfortable in a raid environment no longer participating in it.
Well, the "best gear in game" (tm) is still available through raiding only. If you can find a guild that is able to do 25man heroic, that is.

From the perspective of most of the players you are totally right. You have the option to do 25man, 10man, 5man for badges and get crafted gear. Throw in 1 or 2 relentless arena/bg items and end up with a good collection of 245-264 epics. You can even get the T10-Raid-Set by collecting emblems of frost through the random-heroic. Keep in mind, though, that this would take a long, long time.

I think that the gear progression in wow is in its best state ever. It feels finally right. Every new character has the chance to gather the required gear to participate in raids without relying on a guild to drag him through the previous tiers. The new process of upgrading your set-items is also very well done. It allows for a really smooth upgrade process that felt a bit odd with the T9 pieces.

While many top-end raiders may cry out that every casual can collect "their" gear, I still remember being the recruiting-officer of my guild in TBC. Too often I had good recruits who simply could not get the necessary gear. That changed in WOTLK so as long as you know how to play your gear is not so much of a problem anymore.
It's not dead. It just isn't accessible enough yet.

People who actually enjoy grouping may well enjoy raiding too, if they get a chance to do it.

It isn't about the gear. It never really should have been about the gear. It's about the fun of invading some mob citadel with an army of your mates and smashing it up in game.
I've been gone for 6 months. Now after logging in I notice that the excellent gear I got back then (ilvl 213) can now be replaced by ivl 232 gear in heroics.

At least it gives me a reason to run those new heroics a few times.
Raiding always was optional. Sure, there are tie-ins like recipes, pve vs pvp crossover, but that is marginal.

You don't need raid gear to fish, quest or socialize.
Raid gear is needed only for raiding.

Raid gear being available outside raids is good. People can get ready for raids without being boosted in raids to gear up.
Raiding is obsolete only if you want to look good in your welfare epics. But, truth be told, there's still the Battlegear of Might of today, ala gear that does not come from emblems, and cannot be crafted. Those who know can look beyond your padded gearscore and see that all you've done really is farm heroics and gold to get where you're at, and while that's work and it also takes time, it's NOTHING, NOTHING compared to standing and taking a saberlash, or saving 24 others from certain doom. Heroics, even including the 3 new ones, are still a faceroll, and while trash mobs in raids are still an AOE joke, the bosses present a much more challenging and much more time consuming foe in raids. It's no contest. Sure, you can gear up outside of raids, but that is there to help you better prepare for actually doing them.
I don't know whether raiding is becoming obsolete or not but I sure don't like the new emblem system. Nowadays, if you're in a 25-man raiding guild, you don’t only need to participate into your guild runs but you also have to go farm the 10-man version for 8 more emblems and do the heroic daily + raid weekly quests for 19 more emblems. So, you’ll earn anything between 8 emblems of frost to 35 per week. As the first piece of T10 costs 60 of these emblems, you don’t really have a choice here.

Sure it’s great for my shaman alt who dinged 80 a week ago. I join a pug, end up with a 50k HP tank and a 5k DPS arm warrior and clear Drak’Tharon heroic in less than 15 minutes while doing less damage than the tank. But for my main, I just don’t want to go back to kill Ravuzious or clear Nexus heroic. It’s too boring.
Raiding in WoW is pointless because when the next expansion comes out, all your nearly earned items are thrown out. Well, I guess that actually makes all of WoW pointless. I miss the days of 40 man Molten Core raids :(
I don't understand this post at all. Optional for what? Is PvP optional or obsolete now that comparable is more easily available from Heroics? You've taken a fairly narrow view of the purpose of the game, identified the most efficient of way of accomplishing that goal, and implied that the rest of the game is nigh on superfluous. Even if you reduce the game at level cap to an item slot machine, the best gear is still only available via raiding or high-end arena PvP.

What would be a shame, for me at least, is if more people thought like this going forward. Like the early troubles with WAR and chain-scenario popping, the most interesting aspect of the PvE game might die a slow death from diminished participation. I haven't seen any evidence of that though, even on my casual, low population, RP realm. Raiding for me and those I play with is more akin to a club sport; the gear is a gating mechanism and serves as an in-game leaderboard but it's not the goal of the activity.
Essentially, for me, the only reason to raid is to have something new to do. A new boss is new content.

People who are altoholics never have to raid. There is always something new you can do with an alt long before you have to enter a raid instance.
Quick note -- you'd need to get a "Trophy of the Crusade" off of either a 25-man ToC boss or at the end of a Heroic 10-man ToC Anub'arak. So non-raiders won't be able to get the ilvl 245 versions of Tier 9, but the 232 version is available.
So non-raiders won't be able to get the ilvl 245 versions of Tier 9, but the 232 version is available.

Non-raiders can't get the iLevel 245 version of Tier 9, but they can get non-set pieces of iLevel 245 from the vendor in Dalaran. The Tier 9 vendors are in Icecrown at the tournament ground.
Raiding isn't obsolete. A week after the patch I'm sporting mostly ilvl 245's, with some 232's and 226's. Thanks to the Dungeon Finder, it didn't take very long to farm the badges needed for this gear. Per wow-heros I'm just geared enough to go into ICC-10.

Raiders who already had full ilvl 245's started ICC-10/25 last week and now probably have atleast a hanfull of ilvl 264/251. It's obvious that they are better geared, and come a few weeks when I use my frost badges to purchase one piece of ilvl 264, the raiders will have an overflow of badges and will be equiped in full 264 gear...with a few 271 pieces.

At that point raiders will be doing farms of all the new content. Getting more and more gear. I will be capped at one new ilvl 264 every few weeks. I'll prolly go into ICC normal modes after a month or two, but who knows.
"Raiding" isn't becoming obsolete. Blizzard is eliminating the stacking of tiers in the raiding progression.

It seems to me that Blizzard wants 2 tiers of raiding:

1) Current Progression (ICC/ToGC)
2) Old Content (Everything else)

Obviously there are plenty of raids/dungeons clumped into "old content" but they essentially give all the same rewards, hence they are pretty much the same tier.

Lets compare to the final days of BC...

1) Sunwell (Current)
2) BT (Old)
3) Hyjal (Old)
4) TK (Old)
5) SSC (Old)
6) Karazhan (Old)
7) Heroics (Old)
8) Level 80 blue dungeons (Old)
9) Sub-80 blue dungeons (Old)

In previous WoW in order to participate in current content you had no choice other than to follow the channel of old content in order to properly gear for new. That's fine if you started when say Kara was current content, but no so much if you joined late.

Nowadays you can gear for ICC after a solid week or two of doing "Old Content".

Blizzard isn't making raiding "obsolete", they're just continuing with their strategy of removing the barrier to entry.

Which I'm fine with. Progression guilds still serve a purpose of getting their shinies first and feeling a sense of accomplishment. I really don't mind if casual players get access to my epics 1 patch later.
Obsolete or optional? I don't think the former is correct, and the latter is nothing new. You're approaching this as someone who hasn't played in a long time and is behind the gear curve. So ofcourse you have multiple paths of character progression. But that is nothing new, same could be said about BWL and Dire Maul an age ago - someone like your warrior who never raided could have easily picked up upgrades from Dire Maul without having to go to BWL or MC.

I totally agree with you that having multiple character progression options (5 mans, 10 mans, 25 mans, PvP, crafting, AH) is a wonderful, wonderful thing - but that does not make raiding obsolete. It's just that varying options are giving different rewards - today's 5 man is yesterday's 10 man and the day before's 25 man - and that's just awesome.
It's more complicated than that. The old way was that there was a raiding progression you had to go through, MC->Ony->BWL, or KZ->Gruul->Mags, etc.

The problem with that progression is that if you fall behind the curve, it gets exponentially more difficult to find a guild that is raiding your step in the progression. If you end up going away for a month, for exams or a once-in-a-lifetime vacation, all of the sudden you are undergeared for what your guild is now doing, and they either have to carry you or you find a new guild.

So what Blizzard has done, is make it as easy as possible for someone who is new or has fallen behind to catch up to the latest step in the progression (currently IC). They did the same thing with TOC -- raise the badge level so that people could get Ulduar gear to at least catch up.
Yes, raiding is becoming obsolete. However not simply because you don't need to.

Blizzard has been making huge steps in making grouping more accessible and easier. The rewards are better than ever.

However they haven't put that sort of revamping into how raids work. If you look at the tools to raid and the loot aquired from, other than item inflation nothing has really changed.

On the other hand 5 man groups are worlds different than they were a few years ago.
In the sense that you can wait to get better gear without raiding, that happened when Blizzard released TBC. Up until then, your gear was purely a function of how hardcore you were at raiding (or the insanely heavy time commitment of the PvP honor grind). Once the expansion was released, it made L60 epics obsolete, and casual players could have better gear by dinging 70. From that moment on, every epic had an expiration date, whether it be the next patch or next expansion. By now, most WoW players have accepted this concept, except for the die-hards who long for the days of vanilla WoW and wish their L60 epics lasted forever.
I've made similar comments in my own blog posts on multiple occasions over the past couple months regarding this topic. I don't think raiding is obsolete, however I do think that Blizzard went perhaps too far in leveling out the progression curve. And I do not think the current weekly Raid quest will do enough to reintroduce some semblance of progression back into the equation.

As things stand right now it does not take long to get a full set of T9 232 gear. Then you can pick up a couple additional pieces... belt, ring.... neck... then what? You have no where to go but raids to get more gear progression. As I said, it does not take long to get to this point. Couple weeks at the most. And I think that is simply too easy.

I think Blizzard is unwittingly putting themselves in a corner by having to develop more and more content, faster and faster to satisfy the desire in the player base. By making the primary driving force of the players (gear) this easy to get it leaves huge gaps of time where there is really nothing left for them to work toward.

I play two hybrid characters primarily. My Druid and my Paladin, and because of this problem I'm actually looking at playing all three specs on both, and obtaining gear for each just to have stuff to work toward. Well, that isn't the only reason, but it certain fits in with what I'm doing. If I didn't have plans to work through gear on multiple specs I'd be bored out of my skull.
I barely understood a sentence in your first paragraph. What we need is an end to jargon.

An end to raiding would be nice, too, though.
not obsolete, but it is kind of a rat race.
You think you're progressing but in reality they just raise the floor (ease of getting gear) by +1 and the quality of highest gear by +1 so you are in an endless state of just getting back to "uber" gear.

Uber gear just being the raised bar, but the lower geared players also come up just as much so it is all relative.
When does raiding ever become required?

That's the better question.

Casuals have clammored for the ability to get gear that is on par with the raiders, and now they have that option. The badge system has been a boon to the non-raiding playerbase, but I feel it has come at a great cost.

I renewed my account on Nov 16th and started farming badges and running TOC 10-mans with my guild once a week. Now, just a week after 3.3 I have amassed a total of 260 Triumph badges, 23 frost badges, and 30 Conquest badges all in the last month. In one month I have been able to go from Naxx-10 level gear to ICC level gear just by running 5-man heroics using the LFG tool.

All I have left to pursue now is achievements and/or ICC content. In one months time I have hit a substantial barrier already, so this morning I cancelled my subscription yet again.

Since 3.3 I've watched guildies hit the same barrier much quicker due to them having more available play time. This is nuts....the ability to earn 200+ Triumphs in a little over a week has to be a lapse of design judgement on Blizzards part, and since the graphics are pretty much the same, it's no wonder that the dreaded new "gear score" is being adopted and embraced by the playerbase as a means of e-peen distinction.

Has anyone not noticed that the new 5-man heroics only offer epics and not a single blue? We're beginning to reach a point of critical mass where gear is concerned, and one could argue that getting ones character fully equipped with epics, regardless of Ilevel, could be considered the new -end game- for a majority of players.
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