This is a guest post by Thespius, a raiding Priest and blogger of Healer By Nature.
With all of the talk going around that Wrath of the Lich King made things significantly easier and therefore "killed the game", I wanted to bring another perspective into the mix. I believe that Wrath SAVED WoW. Yes, that’s right, I said it. I’m happier playing WoW now that the game has changed.
I will whole-heartedly agree that the difficulty level has dropped in the end-game content. I was never around for Vanilla WoW, but my share of SSC/TK content and the little I saw of Black Temple was daunting. My favorite fight to date? Leotheras the Blind. Getting 25 people to move away from his whirlwinds and not DPS until the tank reacquired aggro was one of the toughest things to do. Having to force healers to DPS their own doppelgangers down was priceless. A tank that wasn’t a druid, warrior, or paladin? SO much fun.
By comparison: Toughest boss in Naxxramas? Heigan the Unclean.
(Pause for laughter)
I know, right? Personally, I still don’t see the hard part about avoiding the lava waves, or helping to cleanse diseases.
When I look back to the BC days, if I wanted to try to get a newly-minted 70 friend into raids with me, we had to run him through Karazhan, Gruul’s Lair, and Magtheridon’s Lair. CONSTANTLY. If I needed to take a break from WoW for a bit for work, school or family, I might as well /gquit. I saw tons of people take holidays back in Karazhan. When they saw the work needed to get up to SSC/TK levels, they ended up quitting altogether. The condensing of difficulty into smaller bite-sized pieces makes the process of "catching up" a lot less daunting, thereby reassuring players that it’s OKAY if life gets in the way at times.
With "gearing up" a breeze, guilds can actually afford the "selectiveness" with which to form their raid team. Elite raiding guilds in BC ideally had one requirement: gear. If you had the right gear to enter SSC, you were good to go. We were all compartmentalized by our gear. It was as if we all came with little tags on us that said "put me here." On my server, those with the correct gear were in short supply. In those situations, you have to disqualify other pre-requisites such as team-oriented, ability to adapt, or the skill to actually play your class. Few guilds back then (in my experience) rarely looked at your actual personality. They looked at your contribution to the overall DPS, instead of your contribution to the actual raiding core. "No amount of gear can upgrade a poor personality," I always like to say.
Now, if a friend, family member or co-worker just hit 80 and you want to bring them along in your 10man ToC team, it doesn’t take too long to get them up to speed. Vault of Archavon, Onyxia, Heroic Dailies, Triumph Emblems are all viable (and quick) ways to get your selected raider up to speed. Instead of dealing with geared raiders that don’t listen or cooperate, now you can get people you trust geared quickly to join you. Thus, you make your team THAT much better than you would’ve been able to back in BC.
The 10man vs. 25man debate comes into question as well. I’ve heard the argument that making content accessible to 10mans has made the content too easy, since it’s supposed to be accomplished by less people. This is true. 10 people would have a hard time clearing content only designed for 25. Follow my logic:
- In BC, getting a bonafide 25man raid together was tough. Coordinating 10mans in WotLK is much easier.
- More guilds get the chance to see, experience and progress the 10man content.
- 10man content is not drastically different than 25man.\
- If you need to look for someone to fill in for an absent raider in your 25man, you’ve now got a bigger pool of available people who know the fights.
- From this bigger pool, you can be more selective (like how I brought it all together?) of who you bring along.
This transition into WotLK made it that much easier for you to form your raid team, even from your own realm.
And last, but not least, WotLK has made it more interesting for off-raid nights. The guild I raid with runs 3 nights each week. We primarily do 25mans but will do 10man content on occasion for hard mode experience. On the off-nights, we can do other 10man content, "The Daily", even slightly lower content for Conquest Emblems. Maybe a raider needs that vendor ring to replace his/her ilevel 200 one. Instead of waiting for the next full raid night, you can be proactive in getting your other raiders up to par.
Overall, I believe WotLK has helped WoW’s raiding base. Utilizing hard modes and bosses like Algalon, it provides a tough challenge for the hardcore raiders. For the casuals or the "hardcore casuals" (as I like to call myself), it affords us the experience and ability to sub in or even start our own group of like-minded individuals who pay their $15/month just like everyone else. Getting ready to raid is no longer an arduous process. Less time focused on gearing, and more time focused on actual raiding.