Social Study: The Wrath Effect Part 1

betweentbc-and-wotlk

This is a guest post by Mimetir, an oversized owl of a raid leader on The Venture Co (EU). You can find her twitter feed.

Here’s a dangerous statement: Wrath of the Lich King (Wrath) made World of Warcraft/Crack/Crass(WoW) too easy.

It’s one you’ve heard before, of course. But have you thought about the impact that had on players?

WoW’s player base is numerous enough to man a small empire complete with its own inter-tribal competitions, family feuds and military factions. So to bandy such a statement about – even to whisper it – is enough to have it echo around the becrooked spires and bounce between yon bloodied hillsides and have warcries ululated in its wake. Yet many people have said something akin to that statement since Wrath hit our beloved World. Surely there must be some truth to it? Surely, too, players must have been affected by such a shift in play – but how?

One of Blizzard’s biggest goals with Wrath was to make raid content more accessible to players who wanted to raid in The Burning Crusade (TBC) but didn’t have the time to invest or guild to support them. Wrath meant the TBC days of needing to be in a large, battle-honed raiding guild whose Z raiding team were armed to the dyed and pointed teeth, were gone. WotLK was one giant step towards not only ensuring that everyone saw at least some of the insides of raids but felt the sense of achievement as they progressed through them at whatever pace. This was likely a result of a continuous background hum, developing into an angry buzz, from would-be raiders during TBC’s raid progression lifespan. The longer TBC went on the more spectacular the content was; The Battle for Mount Hyjal and Sunwell Plateau were things of beauty, but would-be raiders had increasingly slim chances of seeing such places.

The level of the bar was certainly changed in Wrath. I think there is enough evidence to say that some players felt the unstated rules of WoW had been re-written overnight using pictures sketched with crayons. Other players felt that the rules were crystal clear for the first time. They were now understandable and applicable to them, not just to the few players on their realm who had reputations of being armed to the dyed and pointed teeth. The idea that Wrath’s content was generally accessible to all quickly took root in the WoW community’s shared consciousness.

This idea didn’t automatically mean that all players knew how to approach the now accessible content or what sort of challenge they faced at the beginning of Wrath. I saw a lot of players encounter the new raids; all armed with a new spec, new stats and uncertain expectations. Many players were perhaps unused to being in this position. Perhaps they didn’t understand their spec yet, perhaps the new stats hadn’t sunk in. Perhaps they weren’t used to thinking about raiding and the very idea of conquering them was a seductive yet terrifying high. What I believe Wrath did mean was a sudden internal crisis of confidence throughout the WoW community: the content bar may have been lowered but the pride and competition bars were raised.

Less experienced players could suddenly take part in the same fights as the legendary players of their realm. They may even have felt pressured to do so because players was scoffing at how easy the content was. They might wonder what was wrong with them as a player if they couldn’t do it or couldn’t get to grips with the changes to game mechanics: changed mechanics yes, but apparently such easy mechanics that Dalaran was dead quiet two weeks into Wrath because half the realm had run out of things to do and had retreated behind an army of previously abandoned alts.

Take Heroics as an example: they are considerably easier in Wrath than they were in TBC. The fact that you had to grind reputation in order to get into Heroics in TBC meant they could be a reward in themselves. Many of them had some challenge to them – I for one never finished Durnholde Heroic. Not only was there was a sense of achievement on completing some of them but it was acceptable for a group to be torn apart by wild dogs, because there usually were groups of wild dogs so battle hardened that groups needed to fight them individually and hope for the best. Wrath’s batch of Heroics are quite the opposite: easy and quick, many experienced players find no thrill or challenge in them. A melee player who doesn’t know to get out of poison nova in Heroic GunDrak will probably die and be given short shift for it. Likewise I’ve often seen tanks who kite Xevozz incorrectly in Violet Hold be met with "omg dont u no to kite nub".

Firstly I’d like to know where this monster called "nub" which they want kited resides, and secondly I’d really wish players would remember that not everyone has done all the content and learnt all the tactics already. A quick check to make sure everyone knows a dungeon or is comfortable to ask and answer questions in a friendly manner will go a long way to building trust in a group. It may only take 20 minutes to run the Heroic but a helped player will know what to do for next time, and will feel secure in their ability to give it a go.

My guess is that the experienced raiders have and had their own pressures when Wrath appeared. They had honed their skills and proudly won their rewards – taken down so many difficult challenges during TBC – and now the content is, to their standards, laughable. This may have had a variety of effects on them, including making both them and their past achievements feel depleted. Even achieving completion of the new content and getting the grips with the new mechanics seems trivial. Their reason for raiding was diminished – content was already bested, loot was sometimes not worth farming. The level of teamwork required in TBC raids? Not needed in large chunks of Wrath. Just bring brute force. Naxxramas now floats lonely as a cloud over yon hills, full of drops no experienced raider needs and many didn’t need at the start of Wrath, as a reminder of how abandoned some raiders feel. Players drop out before we get to Archavon every time I run VoA. The unspoken question in these players’ heads is likely "is there any point in this content still existing when no-one needs the loot?"

…and that’s it for this week. Next week we’ll continue in this vein by looking at the extent of Wrath’s effects as a deep rooted problem affecting players’ attitudes and interactions. What do you think so far? How easy is WoW these days, and how do you feel about it? How did you feel about it when Wrath first arrived? Do you think WoW needs to be easier, more difficult or just be given a chance to stabilise? Did *you* finish Durnholde Heroic in TBC?

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About Matticus

Matticus is the founder of World of Matticus and Plus Heal. Read more of his columns at WoW Insider. League of Legends player. Caffeine enthusiast.

Comments

  1. I have to say I completely agree.

    As a guild leader of a semi-casual, 3 night a week guild, I found BC content challenging, fun, and memorable. Killing each boss was a milestone for your guild and something you could be proud of.

    Nowadays in WotLK, started in Ulduar and made worse in ToC, the ‘normal’ mode of these raids is so laughably easy that any guild that gives it any effort clears the instance and sees the content. For any challenge, then, the guild has to start over on the ‘hard modes’ which are extremely difficult but, even worse, are all fights/bosses you’ve already killed!

    “Great, so far this week I’ve killed Gormokk on 25 man regular, 10 man regular, 10 man hard mode. I can’t wait to go do it again on on 25 man hard mode!!!!?”

    I personally find WoW much less enjoyable than I did in BC and at this point I’m simply playing out of loyalty to my guild and on the fumes of our first Illidan kill.

    The only hardmode/easymode split should be between 10 and 25 man raids. Make 10 man the casual, easy, “see the content for fun” raid grouping. Make 25 mans challenging to start with, similar to TK/SSC/BT etc.

  2. They made “heroic” versions of bosses for Ulduar and ToC raids that were supposed to satisfy the hard-core population, but I’ve seen my guild have really big motivation issues with trying to do hard-mode versions. Since the fights aren’t really different, there’s not the same psychological rush for beating a hard-mode version of the boss you just killed the day before on normal mode. Without that kind of psychological motivation, we just haven’t run much in the way of hard modes. Since we can clear all the content our members are interested in with just like 2 hours of raiding (ie. ToC 25-man normal, Onyxia, & VoA), we had people stop signing up for our second and third raid nights of the week, so we can’t go back into Ulduar or do anything besides 10-mans the rest of the week due to just sheer lack of interest.

    I’m sure we could do the hard-modes if we applied ourselves, but there is something fundamentally wrong with the hard-mode design that just isn’t appealing enough to the players who are stuck in the middle (where normal modes are too easy, but they can’t cake-walk the hard modes, so they give up and just don’t enjoy the game).
    .-= Lissanna´s last blog ..Leveling & making it interesting? One player’s approach =-.

  3. For what it’s worth, Ghostcrawler agrees with you:

    “[Gear scoring is] not an easy problem to solve. On the one hand, we can recognize that there is value in being able to determine if that guy you are considering for your pug is much less experienced and talented than he claims to be and is going to drag everyone else down and cause other players to leave. On the other hand, the WoW community seems to have become so obsessed with efficiency and so averse to wiping that there is, in my opinion, an unreasonable demand for player skill and gear requirements even for relatively easy content. It’s one thing if your VoA tank is in all blues. It’s another if you’re asking for Ulduar gear for your Naxx run.”

    On the other hand, I don’t think this started with Wrath. Players have been group-punting “noobs” ever since they could inspect gear; I certainly remember it in Burning Crusade (“wtf get behnid teh pilarz nub”). It’s also certainly not limited to raids and heroics – players chew each other out for making mistakes in normal dungeons, since they want to blow through them as quickly as possible and don’t want to have to eat repair costs or waste time running back.

    Frankly, I blame whoever made “FAIL” popular.
    .-= Chris Anthony | Duct Tape and a Prayer´s last blog ..A brief thought on terminology =-.

  4. Yet another “Good Ol’ Days” post from the WoW blogosphere. Cataclysm is truly inspired timing and marketing genius.

  5. Personally, I like the fact that it’s become easier to see content. My schedule’s harsh at work, and I have very little time for gaming, so I can’t dedicate another part-time job on top of it. I can, however, schedule a few hours a night or every few nights to hit a 10man or do a Daily Heroic. And that’s why I like WLK. I might never have min-max end-game hardmode gear, but I’ll be passable, experience the fights I want to, and have fun while doing it. To me, that’s worth the price of admission whereas being locked out because of X reason was not (and never will be).
    .-= Professor Beej´s last blog ..LFM and LFG: The Difference =-.

  6. Lychordia says:

    Personally my life was a mess and I stopped playing when Wrath came out. I attempted at leveling, only to be pulled away. By time I got back into the mix of things everyone was in thier new gear and literally pushed me through every hard mode they could to get me gear. I was going so fast that it took me 2 months to realize that UP and UK were not the same instance. Ok, not that bad, but still. I miss the good old fashioned harder progression. It was that sense of accomplishment that I desire now. It let me know, literally where my skills were. It was a very good way to set the standards on the level of end game content you were ready to go to. Personally, I hate the trade chat “LF Healer 10 man ToC. /wave for gear and achievement check”. It’s intimidating for sure. Are PUGS the new end game sponsor?

    So now we have alt farming going on in our guild Any content we have is hard pushed. Instead of going into raids with Mains the mix is with a mix of skill levels. Main mentality on half baked alts. It’s disheartening. I am working on a dps re-roll just so I don’t have to heal anymore. I lost confidence. I lost motivation. I lost hope. Cataclysm is turning into the bandaid of my future playtime. If it isn’t fixed there, then I am seriously hurting. Who knows, maybe the new Star Trek MMO would be a better choice for me now?

  7. Kind of two minds on this one.

    My guild started raiding in spring 2008. The BC content we cleared as a guild was Kara, ZA and Mags/Gruul (given where we are now I’m amazed that we actually could fill a 25-man). Individuals got into Hyjal, SSC, etc., but not as a guild.

    In Wrath we’ve seen the insides of all content on ten man (though we have still to take down Yogg) which makes me happy. I’m glad to know that we can do it, even if top guilds ran it all down within a week or two of its opening. I’m happy that it’s accessible. I’m also happy that heroics aren’t all day affairs. I can remember spending 3-4 hours just trying to clear heroic Shadow Labs, and that sometimes we just weren’t going to get it done no matter how hard we tried. While I don’t miss a 3 hour heroic, I do wish that there was a little more cause for things like crowd control and thought processes behind the pulls.

    I do agree with Iskander — I get a little jealous when I see a guildie pug a 25 man and link the big loot they get, but I don’t get that excited about running the 25 man version of the dungeon I just left. I understand the philosophy behind it, but it’s just not as thrilling as moving into a whole new dungeon.
    .-= jeffo´s last blog ..The New PTR is Here! The New PTR is Here! =-.

  8. Ive got to say that coming from a TBC hardcore raiding guild my first inclination with Wrath was that I thought it would be refreshing, about a month in and all of Naxx cleared I started to think otherwise. The problem ive found is that while in TBC players could grind heroics (and I agree some of those heroics were a nightmare, and I also never did durnholde) and receive equivalent tier gear through saving obscene amounts of badges, when that player hit your raid you knew how they got the gear. Now with the ability to purchase most tier gear with heroic badges you can have players in what you would believe raid earned gear who havent. This situation is ok for most normal modes, but because raiding is now more easilly accessable to players you tend to find that even the most seasons guilds are inclined to take them and work out the kinks later, ill be the first to admit that some of the hardmodes are hard, great guilds relish in the fact of having completed them- but theres no line. I miss the days of 4-5 day a week raiding because the content was so vast. Now with a 3 day a week schedule its just pushing it, im exhausted of spending time in the same content over and over. Its made a few of my more hardcore friends go casual, why farm the same content over and over again for gear that is only marginally better or for tier gear that you can now purchase with the 100’s of badges you’ve now received. As far as content is concerned, i have to say i think that the coliseum was a horrible afterthought. It feels too slapped together and its boring. Im hoping that the new patch will fix the content blues, and im hoping that Cataclysm will restore a little bit of luster to my wow. I remember back in BC when having epic gear meant something… not so much anymore.

  9. Well… If the problem is running 10man and 25man versions of the same instance, why not just run ONLY the 25man version? Wouldn´t it have the same challenge as the BC raids once had? Blizzard made normal and heroic modes for casuals and hardcores. Why are the hardcore players running through the “casual player” version? If the hardcore/veteran/experienced players cared only with the heroic version, there would be no need to run it again and there would be no “i already ran this before” feeling.

  10. Theanorak says:

    As someone actually new to WoW (started playing in July), this post and some of the associated comments touch on a bunch of things I’ve been thinking about.

    There’s nothing wrong with a developer trying to ensure that most of their subscribers can see most of the content. That’s why they designed it in the first place, after all. The challenge is finding suitable rewards for the most skilled/most dedicated to encourage and reward their efforts. Hard modes are all very well, but “seen it before, who cares” doesn’t seem an unreasonable attitude to me.

    Would it be possible, I wonder, to change the mechanics of the fights in some way for hard modes? My impression is that in hardmodes, the bosses typically just hit harder and perhaps make more frequent use of their abilities. Would having different fight mechanics playing out in the same locations (using the same assets) be an acceptable compromise? It might then allow the game designers to make hard modes a significant challenge for geared/skilled raiders without preventing less committed players from ever seeing the content, even if the mechanics of the fight they encounter are different.

  11. @Thundrac – Hardcore players run both because unfortunately some of the BIS gear is in 10s. The Eye of the Broodmother was an amazing trinket for pretty much any caster – and it only dropped in 10s. On the flipside, the only way I can get an upgraded tank cloak is to run 25 ToC, or get a flawless 10m TOC Heroic (no wipes).

    @Theanorak – the mechanics are different to some degree – be it having to destroy a portal, less ice to use, etc. Even if they were fundamentally different, it’s stil a matter of simply learning a new “ok, left foot in left foot out” move.

    In all I love that the 10 content is so easily accessable. I love that Hard Mode is a whole new instance – so I don’t have to choose how I want to face a boss at the begininng.

    Just a thought – but maybe if your guild doesn’t want to do the Heroic/Hard mode – your guild isn’t as ‘tough’ as you thought? There is nothing wrong with only doing normal modes – heck I still haven’t attempted H ToC25 – and I probably never will. But I’ve got my Starcaller, I’ve got my Rusted Drake, and we’re a half step away from dedicated insanity. That’s our challenge.

    Now on to Earth Wind and Fire.
    .-= Adgamorix´s last blog ..A new read =-.

  12. @Agdamorix

    Hmm. I didn’t know that (I’ve not done any raiding yet).

    It’s an interesting point though: how much change is enough for something to count as “new content”? Does it always mean totally new content (cf Icecrown) or are there ways to remix existing assets in such a way that the experience is sufficiently novel that regular raiders will be genuinely excited, but without having to develop new lore, art assets, sfx etc?

  13. @Adgamorix

    I wasn’t aware of the BiS gear in the 10man versions. But that is a flaw on the loot tables and not on the 10man / 25man idea, right? Maybe if all the BiS gear were on the 25man versions, everyone would be happy.

  14. “Did *you* finish Durnholde Heroic in TBC?”

    I did.. and back when you only got three wipes (with Thrall) and it was over.

    And you had to walk uphill from the graveyard. Both ways!

  15. @Iskander and Lissanna – Aye, see where you’re coming from on the Hard Mode thing. Whether or not Blizzard were aiming to provide a sense of challenge and achievement, fighting the same ol’ fights just doesn’t provide it – only slightly higher ilevel loot, from what I see. Does anyone really enjoy Hard Modes?

    @Chris Anthony – quite right. ‘Group punting “noobs”‘ isn’t a new thing, though it’s taken on a more sinister undertone in Wrath in my opinion – partially because PUGs are just so much more common now. Do you think it’s become worse? And what are the causes on either side/how it can be rectified? If it can?

    @Professor Beej – That’s actually very good to read. It’s nice to hear that some people really do appreciate the game – and can sit back and have fun at the end of a long day. I guess a lot of us forget that that’s what the game’s about. Do you think WoW’s difficulty level should change at all, or stay as it is?

    @jeffo – Agree, I remember some long nights in Shadow Labs. I think it was responsible (on normal, for pity’s sake) for a 6 am bedtime one night early into TBC. Even so I quite agree that there *can* be a sense of achievement in just being able to get in there and do the fights at whatever pace your group has, in Wrath. Good luck and fun to you with Yogg, I know we were proud of ourselves when we finally splattered him over the walls.

    @Wabisabi – Aye, I’m not a fan of the Coliseum either. It feels too stationary to me – there’s no aesthetic progression, little storyline as far as I can tell, and little variation with boss fight following boss fight. Anyone else have any thoughts on the Coliseum?

    @Theanorak – I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. Fight mechanics seem generally less varied in Wrath but Hard Modes might benefit from a re-fit – somehow making new or varied mechanics that hardcore/experienced raiders can throw themselves at with relish. Welcome to the game, btw – I hope you’re enjoying it nonetheless!

    @Adgamorix – Sounds like you guys are enjoying the content enough to set yourselves challenges – and relish achieving them. Congrats.

    It’s good to hear opinions from people of all styles of play – and of varying levels of interest in the content. Thanks for getting the discussion going! I’m looking forward to posting up the second half of this piece, which is ready and waiting – but until then keep the comments coming here. What do you think about Hard Modes? How taken are you with the way all of Wrath is going – and how taken were you with Wrath when it had just hit? What did you think of Naxx when it was all the rage? How much do you miss old content and why?
    .-= Mimetir´s last blog ..Juddr: @johnnieingram – completely agree on the #coffee front. Never used to drink the stuff but now it’s a regular part of morning routine. =-.

  16. @Auggie – …my respect. I believe you’re the first person I’ve heard say they finished it (and you don’t sound like you were left twitching in a corner afterwards). Nicely done.
    .-= Mimetir´s last blog ..Juddr: @johnnieingram – completely agree on the #coffee front. Never used to drink the stuff but now it’s a regular part of morning routine. =-.

  17. @Mimetir – I’m fine with the difficulty ramping up as long as there is a clear and accessible transition, which is why I *love* the way that ToC handles 10, 25, and Heroic modes. However, I really like the way that WLK is throwing loot at people because it allows people to pick and choose which content they want to experience rather than pidgeon-holing a character into Naxx just because he or she takes a month or two off. That is the kind of mentality that turned me off of TBC raiding, and I hope that Cataclysm stays the same. I’m all about challenge and the raid being difficult; I just want that from the fight itself rather than the arbitrary gear score attached to the instance.
    .-= Professor Beej´s last blog ..LFM and LFG: The Difference =-.

  18. @Thundrac – We get through the “normal” 25-man content so fast that we ran out of things to do in 2 hours of raiding a week. There’s not enough interest to still do Ulduar, and not enough interest in the hard-mode 25-man because the bosses in TOC aren’t interesting enough, so we never have high enough attendance to try. Without enough people motivated to do 25-man hard modes for ToC, the only thing we can do is run the 10-mans just to have a reason to log in more than once a week.

    The 25-man “normal” mode is really still “easy” mode, and it’s disheartening enough in ToC that it’s just not even fun. I’d really like content that is somewhere between the normal & hard modes, that could be interesting and fun. The 10-man isn’t any easier than the 25-man, since the fights are basically exactly the same regardless of what mode you run TOC in.

    If they could manage to make hard-modes more fun/interesting for hard-core raiders, we wouldn’t be so unhappy with the quality of content right now. They just haven’t found a way to make hard modes still interesting. Just having to do the same fight but “harder” isn’t a good standard for keeping people interested in the game. Basically, the top 1% of guilds can still do the hard modes without a problem, and the most casually oriented have a great time being able to see the content, and everyone in the middle kinda gets screwed over by not having content geared towards them (hard modes not for them, easy modes too easy).

    .-= Lissanna´s last blog ..Leveling & making it interesting? One player’s approach =-.

  19. Yes, it’s way easier. But this makes the game better for more people than it makes the game worse for. It’d be nice if Blizzard could provide something for the illidan killing guilds out there, but not so nice that a reversal of policy is justified.

    Guilds now provide an important social filter. Raiders will come to them just to get away from the irritation of the culture of pugs- but they will come with decent gear, and a working knowledge of how to raid.

  20. Yes, content is more accessible with Wrath, but it is also more scaled, I think thanks to the hard modes. People can skip all of them, and see a good chunk of content, and they’ll probably be pretty happy. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Blizzard continue along these lines, with awards on par with fancy proto drake mounts, or titles. It may not be the phat loot rewards from TBC and earlier, and I’m kinda happy about that. I’d much rather learn some fun fights, and have my motivation to keep playing being to try new ways to fight, and not be obsessed with the loot treadmill.
    .-= LordHuggington´s last blog ..Random Healing Thoughts =-.

  21. Nice post. Personally, I don’t see anything wrong with raiding or whatever being easy. WoW is just one of many MMORPGs and caters to a particular player base. Why does it have to super hard? Why do people need to raid 3 or 4 nights a week? I know people love WoW and want it to the be perfect game for themselves but there are other sea in the fish, so to speak, if WoW is proving too easy 🙂
    .-= We Fly Spitfires´s last blog ..Star Trek Online – Pros and Cons =-.

  22. Just telling everyone that thinks the content is too easy to go find a new game isn’t an appropriate solution to the problem, either. It’s not JUST that the content is too easy, but that hard modes ARE NOT FUN. If hard modes were fun and interesting and actually WORTH learning, then the people who WANT to have fun raiding content last for more than 2 hours a week will have something to look forward to.

    Hard modes just aren’t designed right in Wrath. If they got hard modes right, there would be a lot less complaining from the hard-core raider side, and from the people in between casual and hardcore. There isn’t one group of people who want to raid 7 days a week, and another group that can’t raid more than once a week. There’s a lot of gray area in the middle. You don’t even HAVE to be a hard-core guild to have problems with the current raiding structure, actually the most hard-core guilds can just treat the hard modes like normal modes and be perfectly fine, so it’s the people where hard modes are actually challenging who are getting left out in the cold. Just upping the amount of damage you take, or reducing the amount of time you have to kill a boss, doesn’t make the content new and interesting – and so if you are struggling on hard modes, and hard modes aren’t fun or interesting, why bother trying? You just end up with a game that’s not very fun or interesting. Why hurt people in the middle of the spectrum of playtime & skill?

    If hard modes were actually intrinsically motivating for more of the playerbase that can easily complete normal mode instances, the world (of warcraft) would be a happier place. Just slightly better loot for more work isn’t the kind of motivation that this game should be about. It would be easy for them to make hard modes more fun by making them more different, requiring actually learning new strategies, getting to encounter slightly different approaches & aspects. Just turning a normal fight into a DPS race isn’t enough.

  23. Also, it’s not that anyone is really asking for “normal” modes to be more challenging. However, they need to make hard modes actually FEEL like progression, and not just frustration. Right now, hard-mode ToC doesn’t feel like progression. If it just feels like doing the same thing but this time with one hand in a blender while you do the fight… why bother?

  24. I agree with those saying it’s all too easy now (you should -not- be in ToC two weeks after hitting 80, in my opinion), but the actual dungeons are unbelievably badly set up. Naxx and Ulduar are both incredibly long and are boring to slog through week after week. Blizzard seemed to take that to heart and went to the -other- extreme, making ToC the fastest, most inane dungeon ever.

    But yes, everything is so easy now that it make me cry. There really is no reason at all for 25-man ToC to be clearable the week it came out. Instead of a 10/10hard/25/25hard, why not just 10/10hard/25 system? Smaller guilds will get just enough challenge with the 10 man hardmode and the “douche-bag theory jerks” will get to pound their faces in the 25s.
    .-= Codi´s last blog ..Multiple healadins – dealing with it =-.

  25. Ok, reading the comments here, i see beginning of Wrath all over, back then people were stating that Naxx is too easy, that the content is bad, and it got cleared in the first week or two, and it’s all wrong. Well ok, but how many guilds have actually cleared ToC in first two weeks? And how many of those have the “hard-core” status pinned to their names?
    Like it or not, and with all due respect to their dedication and excellence of play, hard-core players are a huge minority in current WoW population, and i’m not saying that this is either bad nor good – that’s how it is. The rest of us are sooo behind those hard-core guilds that we shouldn’t even be following their progress, as we get lulled into believing that the instances ARE actually easy. And that’s how you get people in blues trying to get into ToC two weeks after leveling 80. And i’m having a hard time just explaining to people that ToC isn’t actually that easy, and that you still do need to run through some earlier instances and gear up BEFORE you actually try Ulduar or ToC.
    I don’t find the current content either too easy or too hard, coming from a casual-raiding mode (and believe me i’m having problems defining this mode to myself sometimes). And yes, i did finish Durnholde back in TBC, but back then, with our tempo of raiding we couldn’t even sneeze towards end game content and we were confined to endless Karazhan runs. Now my guild is offered an abundance of choices and most of us are able to enter the actuall end-game instead of just hearing or reading about it. Hard modes are just a bonus (if and when we do get to them).
    @Lissanna regarding people not being motivated enough to show up for raids – where do their loyalties lie? If it’s a guild effort, then they should be showing up, right? If not, then what’s the difference between a guild and a little more organised PUG?

  26. Lychordia says:

    You guys are doing so well in expressing your thoughts and ideas. You really give me a lot to think about and actually may have me wanting to address some more raid time with our guild leader. He’s been kind of slacking and I think it’s time to pick it back up. Perhaps my issue is that I am NOT seeing end game content and am afraid of pick up groups. I did Ony 10 man for the first time this week. I should have done it ages ago. But this is sounding more like a guild issue. How can I gain confidence if I am growing rusty? Hum. I am in control of my own destiny. I should push this further instead of complaining. Thanks guys! You have given me a new spark. I think I will start working on that right away! And I bet that some hard modes in Ulduar wouldn’t kill me either, much…

  27. @Professor_beej – interesting point on the choice of gear available. It seems that a lot of people don’t like the fact that gear is in such accessible abundance, but you make a good argument for it. Thanks!

    @Lissanna – Aye, so do you think it the case that although WoW is more accessible the balance still isn’t right to cater for the fact that there are so many different types of player? If so – do you think it’s possible to achieve that?

    @Toughie – I’d not thought of guilds as a social filter, but it’s a thought to examine. Do you think that applies to all guilds, given that they come in all shapes and sizes? And does that now make them more of a temporary shelter rather than a home or place to settle and build friendships?

    @We Fly Spitfires – Indeed – there are always other options if it comes to it. Perhaps, too – Lissanna touches on this also – only after players and designers take a second, hard look at motivations within the game.

    @Lychordia – good luck! Hope you and your team have fun!

    Keep the discussions going – the good thing about this topic is that everyone has a slightly different approach to the game and so slightly different opinions on the topic.

    Also, I’d be interested to hear how you think this relates to WoW as a whole game – not just raids, hard modes, loot – but 5 mans, achievments and the rest of the content?
    .-= Mimetir´s last blog ..Juddr: #WoW Inspired by Larisa’s post, Tobold’s also posted about the topic. His can be found on his blog – http://bit.ly/3Af7Wa. Both good reads. =-.

  28. @Tih – I think part of the problem is that the current “so easy a PUG could do it” raiding system is set up to not be guild-friendly. With server transfers, faction transfers, organized PUGs clearing ToC 25-man… why bother being loyal to a guild at all? When your character couldn’t transfer off the server, and you HAD to be in a guild to raid (because the content required teamwork to succeed), you had to show guild loyalty to raid. You don’t even have to be in a guild to raid these days, so guild loyalty is really a motivation that erodes fast in this type of environment.

    @Mimetir – I think it IS possible to have raiding set up to cater to a wider range of their playerbase, and not just to the extremes of either end. They would just have to either make the normal 25-mans a little more harder than the 10-mans, so that there is more variation in difficulty levels, and/or make the hard-modes more different from the regular modes, so that it feels like you are actually learning a new fight, to increase the intrinsic reward of completing the hard-mode bosses.
    .-= lissanna´s last blog ..Maintenance day: New druid blogs! =-.

  29. vsureaper says:

    I’m on the fence about if WoW has become to easy.
    I got a late start to wow, (hit Outlands when Illidan was released) and started raiding from the bottom up on a priest. Progressed thru Kara until my guild was given a 2 week notice by both our tanks. In 2 weeks, me and a friend power leveled 2 new tanks from the mid 40’s, hit the heroics hard and fast, and spend another 5 weeks learning Kara all over again. My guild never made it out of Kara, but we had a GREAT reputation on the server for creating some really good raiders. We were one of those guilds that farms Kara week after week, gearing out new people so they can move onto one of the 25 man guilds, and the only reason we never moved on was b/c it meant leaving our friends in other guilds.

    Fast forward to WOTLK – I was in the beta, I knew the quests, knew how to lvl, what quests to avoid, and where to aoe farm on my prot warrior. I knew it all ahead of time, and I was ready. In fact I was so ready, I was the 3rd warrior on my server at lvl 80. I fought tooth and nail for the gear I needed to tank the raids, got in there, and found that the raiding was fun, it was nice that I could go do 10 man if I needed to, but 25 mans were where I had the most fun. I eventually became on of those “hardcore” raiders you hear about.
    I had an exel spreadsheet open when I raided so I could check what new gear would do to my stats, I raided 5 nights a week, always min/maxing. Moved onto Ulduar, started to have some free time, so I started to level an alt pally with my GF.
    And it scared me how easy it all was. No more elites, BOA gear made it very simple. You didnt need to run 5 mans, b/c they could be 3 manned if everyone was smart. We ripped thru the 80 levels, and were geared out, ready to walk into Ulduar and not be dead weight in about 3 weeks after hitting 80. The only thing that took to long was the Hodir rep, but that will soon be easier. I thought to myself, maybe its because I’m leveling with someone, thats why its so easy.
    I’m now rolling a druid (in the 50’s) and its still the same thing. Its a faceroll thru the zones, and the only challenge for my druid will be getting the BIS weapon for him: (insert season name here) Gladiator’s Greatstaff. (http://www.wowhead.com/?item=48523#comments)

    This game has become easier, and it needed to be to let the smaller guilds break out of the first tier of raiding (thinking of my TBC raid experience), but now its too easy. Its often joked on other forums that it wont be long before we get a package from Ronin upon hitting lvl 80, not containing potions and fireworks, but a full set of the previous tier gear, full gemmed and chanted, just waiting to be equipped.

  30. I’m not sure if the game got easier.

    Or if everyone else got smarter.

  31. I appreciate most of the comments here, and the parallels we are having with Lissana’s are almost comical. ToC25 goes in 5 one shots. Run over to VoA if we control WG and pound koralon. We kill the other two just for a shot at the mount. Port to theramore and kill ony-25. Ok, done for the day. That is raid day 1. Raid day 2 – Uld hardmodes – oh, look, only 20 people log on. Raid cancelled off to 10 man TOC, or easy mode clearing Uld to Freya for Knockx3 and Mimiron for Firefighter, hoping people log on for…. Raid day 3/4 – 18 -22 online. Raid cancelled off to 10-mans.

    Because we don’t enforce attendance and don’t DKP we can’t pull enough people. And more often than not, even when we have 25 online, it’s not the 25 hardcore raiders, but some of our softercore raiders that makes the content difficult to complete. Actaully, we probably only have 15-20 hardcores and then the question becomes will the others show up. Not showing up in TBC meant someone else would be given your spot.

    And, because content is easier, recruiting is MUCH harder. In TBC, you busted you balls to get thru Kara so you could get into the 25-mans. Now, people pug 25 mans, so why would they bother to commit to a raiding guild. People that might be a hardcore addtion to your guild are perfectly happy sitting in a 10-man friend guild and grabbing 245 loot on Pug TOCs.

    Finally, what really burns me is the 10/25 heroic loot. Look! Same name, same type of stats, just a little more of them. Didn’t Ghostcrawler once say “we don’t want you to take loot just because it has Agility X +10 over your previous piece” and then lo and behold they design new gear with agility X+10 on it.

    The flip of all this though is that my priest alt has gear on par with many of our raiding mains, and has a blast healing raids. So, I get to play 2 characters to the fullest extent, rather than just farming Kara on an alt. I would trade in the priest alt in asecond tho if it would motivate people to push content.

  32. /facepalm at all the fanbois

    Yes, WoW has become more accessible to the masses. Yes, content on the whole is easier and faster than it was in BC and Vanilla. But everyone who takes up the chorus of “WoW is ez-mode” sounds just as ignorant to me as people who chirp on about gearscore. Sarth10 3D, Alone in the Darkness, Firefighter, Algalon, Anub25 HM–amazingly hard and incredibly tuned fights that pushed raiders (who didn’t outgear the instance) to perform at their peak. Downing this content was incredibly difficult and even more rewarding.

    Forgive me if I side with Larisa in believing that the majority of the people chiming in don’t have the weight to back up any of their “ezmode” claims. Heroic Durnholde, really?

  33. WoW just got lame. My holy priest was geared out before most other guilds could down bosses we downed the first few weeks…several realm firsts…now my shadow set is ilvl equivalent to my holy main set. FREE BADGES AND GEAR HERE, GET IT WHILE ITS EASY!\

    Haven’t played wow in over a month and a half….There is a “Sun” outside!! Hello real world! Good to see you again!

    D-U-N

  34. vsureaper says:

    Actually Vixsin, my main has completed all the hardmodes except Algalon and Anub25 Hard mode.
    Most of them were completed before the next tier of gear arrived, so we did them while they were still relevant. I can back up my claims that wow is incredibly easy, and it is actually borderline too easy.
    I’m glad they made raiding accessable to the masses, and I can understand the thought process behind why it was done. It does not mean that I agree with it, nor do I agree with how easy it is to obtain gear.
    IMHO, if you want to see ICC, then you need to raid thru Naxx, Ulduar, TOC, and anything else they throw at us. Even if you get carried like a duffel bag.

  35. I think it’s fine. The easy modes make it so that more people can play in the end game.

    That said they couldn’t do what they did in Wrath in TBC, if the gear didn’t matter people would have been burning down Hyjal in the first month of TBC. Each tier in TBC was both a gear and a “nub” check. Which is why so few people got to see T6 and on. They realized this was a mistake. Why cater to the top 5% of raiders and spend thousands of man hours for that 5%? I say that doesn’t make any sense financially now does it.

    I don’t think the current system is perfect. Ulduar is hard, the bosses require teamwork and you can’t ezmode your way through hard modes there. How many Ulduar pugs do you see? I see very few and of those even less succeed with any degree. EZ mode ToC is much easier so progression isn’t linear. Naxx and Ulduar along with all the non current tier mini raids gather dust in the wind.

    With how everybody will be getting T9 after 3.3 if you even just run heroics well that says something. Hopefully the weekly quests for old raid content lets them see some use. Kind of like how the EoTs for the daily heroic have sort of revived them a bit.

    In the end I like the current system, for me it works, I can do Hard modes in 10 man while doing normal in 25 and be happy I get to see almost all the content that’s out there (with the exception so far being Algalon).

  36. Mr. Samson says:

    I can see how hardcore PvE players might be disappointed in the level of difficulty, but to be a 100% honest, if it had remained on TBC level I would never see any raiding content. To this day I remember how a few years back I quit playing my rogue after finishing my atunement/getting my key/however it was called for getting to Karazan. All I tought was: Do I want to play trough content made so forcefully time consuming? Nope.
    I’m a PvP guy, even trough I’ve been with WoW on and off from Beta, when I returned this summer I finally saw the game I was promised at launch (thx Warhammer for forcing Blizz to develop PvP, I guess). And raiding seemed possible for a difference.

  37. What Matticus said, but a little different: maybe the game didn’t get that much easier, maybe all of us have been playing for way too long?

  38. I said it more thoroughly on my blog, but can you really consider 25-man raiding “end-game” if PuGs are doing it?
    .-= Codi´s last blog ..re: The Wrath Effect =-.

  39. @Lissanna – tweaking the difficulty levels and such sounds like a sensible approach to catering to a wider range of the playerbase – and one that is echoed by several other people at present. I wonder if we’ll see anything like that set up in Cataclysm?

    @vsureaper – good to hear opinions on other aspects of WoW, too. You say that you facerolled through zones – are you saying that you think WoW as a whole has lost challenge, or not in every way? What effect do you think that has?

    @Matticus – just so. It may be that a lot of players may just have heard all of the basic variations on tactics, and can adapt them to the situation. Many fights seem to require “don’t stand here/kill this first/spam heal” – a lot of movement rather than precise timing and thought, which is what Blizzard said they were aiming for in Wrath. Is that fine as is, or should Blizzard start considering some tactic innovation?

    @Vixsin – fair point, hard modes *are* there for a reason. Although, a lot of commentors have stated that hard modes are not for them, for various viable reasons – and I don’t think everyone is who says that WoW is easy is actually whining. Indeed, a lot of people aren’t even saying it is easy – I’m not, for one. Everyone has a different opinion on what that statement means, how people are actually saying it – and of course whether it should be said at all. What do you think the effects are, deep down, of this tug’o war on individual players?

    @Ooke – aye, I’m looking forward to the “old raid” weekly quests. Do you think there should be similar quests for other types of forgotten content in WoW? Raiding isn’t the only part of the game, after all.

    Keep the comments coming – I appreciate them, and it’s good to read the heated debate both here and on other sites!
    The second half of this article will be going up soon, but til then, this really does seem to be something that everyone can pitch in their 50 pence on. Keep it up!
    .-= Mimetir´s last blog ..Juddr: Interesting posts at Moar HPS http://bit.ly/3o3VbC and C.H. http://bit.ly/j6SME focusing on ease of raids following my Wrath Effect article =-.

  40. I think the game is very healthy for all kinds of raiders and is getting better with every patch and expansion release.

    my guild pretty much only does 10 man content. there are many reasons for this. i personally would love to do 25 man content but some of my guildies don’t feel the same way and i’m ok with that. thankfully, because blizz has made the game more accessible, i can do 10 man content with them, and join some 25 man pugs in my spare time here and there. we are all very skilled, very knowledgable players and many of us are real life friends as well, which makes our guild very friendly and easy for other ppl to fit in, although this is not always the case.

    one thing that i think is happening is that blizzard is trying out new ideas of raid structure as far as boss mechanics, length of the raids, linear and winged raids, gear tokens, trophies, badges and emblems, etc…so it seems like things are disjointed, but it’s not so bad when you look at how quickly they are releasing major content patches…the way i see it is that they are getting better everytime, and if they make a mistake, it only lasts a few months and something better or a new way of doing things is just around the corner. this is the reason i think wow is the best mmo. it contantly changes and listens to the player base, both as a whole and as individual camps of ppl (hardcore, casual, solo or guilded, noob or elite, etc…)

    i for one would like to see something change more than anything else….gear needs to be the same or nearly the same for both 10 and 25 man raids. the current thought that if 25 and 10 man raids rewarded the same gear, then no one would do 25 mans anymore, i think this is a bunch of bs. i don’t think that guilds that have more ppl than another guild should get better gear than a guild that has less ppl. i hate that the legenday shards only drop from 25 man ulduar. did our 10 man raiding guild do any less work than the 25 man? spend any less time than the 25 man? spend any less money per month on our subscription to wow? did we not research our toons and gear and stats and become skilled less than another guild with more players? no, i think not. 10 man guilds should have the same chance and same access to the same gear that 25 man guilds do. period. it’s only logical.

    i mentioned ulduar above as my first example. i mean, the way i see it, i know blizz doesn’t want everyone to have a ledgendary healing mace, and that’s fine, but it shouldn’t be only available to 25 man raiding guilds, 10 man guilds should have a shot at it too. this discrepancy is even more glaring with the new ToC and ToCG raids because the rewards are so far apart with gear.

    i think the answer to keep the hard core ppl happy, and to make sure 10 and 25 man guilds get the same gear, is to make the 10 and 25 man raids have completely different fights. what i mean is the bosses are the same, but the fights and mechanics be much harder and TOTALLY different in 25 man. let’s face it, the hardcore raiders don’t really care about the gear, it’s the hardness of the fight and the testing of their elite skill and the challenge to their pride that they care about, and maybe a special title that they can show off, and maybe make their gear look cooler or something…but make sure that 10 man and 25 man gear and rewards have the same stats and same chance at the gear.

    i remember the first guild was in back in vanilla wow and we did 40 man content in motlen core, and i really really loved that feeling of being in an epic sized raid, there’s nothing like it anymore. but i also remember how frustrating it was to keep that many ppl in line and how hard it was to get gear. i think ppl would still do 25 man raids over 10 man raids, even if they don’t get better gear, because it’s a different experience just to have more ppl, and that should be reward enough on principle.

    the only other idea i can think of to equalize this disparity between raids and content and gear and skill between 10 and 25 man guilds is to do away with 10 and 25 content and just make all content into 15 mans. the reason i think this is a good suggestion is that it seems like many many 10 man guilds have around 17 or 18 members, which is too many for 10 man content and several ppl get left out of the fun, and many 25 man guilds struggle to have 25 ppl on all the time and have to pug 3-5 spots. it’s just a thought, but i think it could work.

    well, i just thought of another idea, 10 man content and 25 man content could be still viable if blizz changed things in this way — make 25 man content only able to be run with guild alliances, in other words, 10 man content could be run by anyone, either as a guild memebers only run or by a pug group, but 25 man content could only be accessed by 2 or more guilds in “guild alliances” where two more guilds would have to join up together to access it. that way you could keep all the gear discrepancy etc and just change the way ppl and guilds group together.

    in any case, i am very happy in my 10 man raiding guild and we are actually one of the best/top strict 10 man guild on our server on the horde side and our server “blade’s edge” has horde in an extreme minority and has a horrible majority of alliance on it, although i hope that the faction change service will slowly balance it out over time. i’d like to see more access to the same gear that 25 man raiders get as i see it as unfair seeing as we have the same if not better skill than many 25 man raiding guilds.

  41. @ Heezashee:

    As someone who raids both 10-mans and 25-mans, I can say that absolutely yes 25-mans are harder and require more time, therefore should have better rewards. Yogg is a million times harder on 25-man, for example, and that’s just boss difficulty. Coordinating 25 people is a major undertaking, far more so than 10. The day Blizzard says 10-mans = 25-mans is the day I stop raiding. (Unlikely as it is!)
    .-= Codi´s last blog ..re: The Wrath Effect =-.

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