Thespius’s State of the Dungeon/Raid

There’s been a lot of great conversation about how things are tuned in regards to Cataclysm Heroics and Raids (meaning normal Raids, I haven’t seen Hardmodes yet). This is starting to dip into the usual “Casual vs. Hardcore” debate, which I think is not what this entire argument is about. This game has made leaps and bounds toward making the game challenging for all. There are definite challenges for the people at the edge of blistering progression as well as for the family man/woman that can only log on once/twice a week, if that. I’d like everyone to take a look at a few different things, including adapting to change, the nature of challenge within the game, and the mindset of the “average” WoW player.

Know Where You’re Going, Know Where You’ve Been

Vanilla WoW – I was never a Vanilla WoW player. I understand that there was a very clear delineation between the casual player (questing and alts) and the hardcore player (40-man guild raiding). It’s very daunting to play a game when you know you have no chance of getting into any of the endgame content, stocked full of lore and goodies. This definitely took things too far in segregating the community. Casual players wanted to see the content, and Hardcore players loved feeling entitled to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, the Holy Grail of the game.

Burning CrusadeThis is where I stepped into the ring. I started as a very casual player, barely being able to throw a Karazhan run together with friends. It was ridiculously hard to climb up the progression ladder to see higher content, but it was doable. Sadly, I had to leave some friends behind because of it. Guilds operated as “stepping stones” to the next level. There existed the “KZ” guilds, the Gruul/Magtheridon guilds, the “SSC/TK” guilds, and the “BT/Sunwell” guilds, meaning the highest those guilds could accomplish. With the release of Zul’Aman, we now had harder 10-man content that my ~9 friends and I could hammer through. Granted, I was single and working as an actor at the time, so I had lots of extra time to play. That would definitely change soon. Still, not being able to see Illidan really sucked.

Wrath of the Lich King – Ahh, the release of 10- and 25-man raiding, but things got easy REALLY quick. So much so that I found multiple PuG 25-man ICC Hardmode Runs. Hardmodes were supposed to be the culmination of progression, really only reserved for the highest of raiders. I was fine with that. I wanted to give them a shot but didn’t have any grand visions of getting my HM Lich King kill. The gameplay was such that mechanics could be avoided. Phrases like “just heal through it” were peppered in boss explanations. DPS started to complain if they had to stop their rotation, tanks screamed at healers if they couldn’t/wouldn’t heal through a mechanic that wasn’t being interacted with properly. Entire mechanics were being glazed over, and the general WoW community got lazy (that’s right, I said it). Although PuG raiders were in Hardmodes, they really didn’t know what to do, and had forgotten entire pieces of their class/spec. Mages decursing? Druids CCing? Hunters trapping? Unheard of!! The bonus part: people got to see the content. My opinion, it became trivial too quickly.

Cataclysm – 10-man and 25-man raiding becomes equalized as much as it can be. 25’s only slightly hold the advantage of being the “truer form of raiding”. Blizzard realized that people were completely ignoring fight mechanics and made them less forgiving (if you let Dragha’s Invocation of Flame get to its target, you’re dead). Justice/Valor Points from your Daily Heroic are no longer things you’re “entitled to”. They must be earned and fought for. With changes to healing and fight mechanics, players are forced to actually look at their spellbooks once again (any Dwarves looking at Stoneform again?). Encounters now begin to feel like a group effort, rather than 5 individuals who wish they could just solo the content so they don’t have to be around other people. Raids feel more daunting for most of the player base, and guilds are back to trying to beef up their own team rather than PuG’ing from Trade Chat. It takes longer to gear up, but the gear is obtainable. Epic gear is actually epic again! Even without running Heroics, it’s possible to get 346 gear for your character. People don’t want to PuG, thus forcing the player base to look for guilds of people they get along with.

I look at all of these as good things. With my guild being called “Team Sport”, it’s no wonder that I long for a gaming world where it feels more team-oriented and not so individually cut throat. If I had the time to run things more, I’m sure I would be geared to the teeth at this point, but I’m not. It’s taking me a little while, but that’s always giving me something to strive for. A trinket I need from Archaeology, or the rep from Baradin’s Wardens, all of which give me something to shoot for that takes time and dedication. I don’t expect it to come easy.

Challenge Yourself

Ever work out? Ever have that great feeling when you finally get your jogging route under your target time? What about finally getting able to lift some weights heavier than the 5-lb ones you’d find in an aerobic class? It’s a good feeling, isn’t it? It’s a high, a rush of endorphins. Did it come easy? Probably not.

Think of any hobby the same way. If you start out knitting, don’t expect yourself to whip out a complicated Afghan in a day. You start out with ‘easy’, and when you’ve mastered ‘easy’, you move to the next level. Look at model building, sports, or anything you do for fun. You can’t expect to be the best at it before you even pick it up. Just about any hobby is worth putting the work in, because without the work the payoff isn’t as good.

Now look at dungeons and raids. If you can face-roll Heroic Stonecore, then that one piece of gear that drops off of Ozruk doesn’t mean as much. You don’t value it the same way you would if you had to work as a team to get it done. That piece you now wear has a story behind it. Working hard to defeat that Heroic Ozruk has brought you close to your gear, and to the 4 other people that help you beat him.

When you find yourself in a group that is struggling with a Heroic Dungeon, ask yourself if you’re using everything in your power to make it go smoothly. Do you have some ability that would make the rest of the team’s job easier? Maybe you can step out of your normal role to help someone that’s struggling. I’ve seen Hunters that have issue frost-trapping a mob. My DK friend Aaron loves to Death Grip that mob back to the frost trap. It’s something that in WotLK a DK wasn’t expected to do, but Aaron does it because it helps the group. Is it easy to do? No, but it’s certainly not back-breaking. However, it’s more rewarding when we down bosses after thinking outside the box. It becomes an accomplishment to finish the encounter, rather than the accomplishment being the addition of a few Justice/Valor Points to your pool. That should be the reward for the accomplishment, not the accomplishment itself. Again, you value the prize more when you worked for it.

The Average WoW Player

A lot of complaints have come from the community (especially on the Official Forums) about the quality of the average LFD group. Rogues get instantly kicked for “not having reliable CC”, a Tank gets kicked for “one pull going awry”. I’ve been kicked from a group as a Resto Shaman simply for suggesting CC be used in Grim Batol. The quote: “Only bads use CC.” The forums are cluttered with threads such as these, and it makes it a really bleak outlook.

As stated above, we come from a Wrath mentality. The population both surged and got lazy in the last expansion. Mass pulling and AOE fests were more plentiful than senseless slander in American politics. Now we’re changing in Cataclysm, and change doesn’t come easy to most. It’s difficult for people to adapt to having to do more to get the same results.

Look at Trade Chat. Outside of gold and profession spammers, Trade Chat is pretty gross. I rarely am ever in it. Same goes for the official forums. Those that are the most unhappy or feel “scammed” talk the loudest. Anyone trying to be a voice of reason is usually shouted down, and good productive discussions are few and far between. This is no different than the LFD situation. There are a lot of people in that system that are bitter, jaded, and hate change. Rather than encouraging a nurturing environment, they’ll curse up a storm and belittle everyone else around them.

Where are all the nice players? They run with their guild, or have a friends list of people they’ve found that value a fun environment over the prospect of running a “boot camp dungeon”. They are out there, I promise. You just have to be patient and look.

I know the 45-minute queues are unbearable. It’s how I built up my Resto set–by queuing as Enhancement. It’s a total roll of the dice, and you may completely bottom out with your luck if you queue alone. Lodur posted a great article about being a teacher within the LFD. Strongly recommend checking it out, as it may give you a glimmer of hope.

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

If you’re one of the people who feels like you’ve been wronged by Blizzard, I ask you this: What is it you really want out of this game?

  • “I want to be able to log in, get my badges/epics, and log off.” I’m sorry, but those days are gone. People very quickly were behaving like drones. Those players in the game looked at dungeons and badges as “tasks” or “chores”, instead of events and rewards for those events.
  • “I want to see the lore and the content.” The normal dungeons provide all the same lore that the Heroics do, as far as I know. Heroic Deadmines and Heroic Shadowfang Keep offer their own lore but aren’t really in line with the Deathwing plot line. They’re great little side stories. As for raids, think of the storyline as Mt. Everest. I would love to see the top one day, however, I know that it will take work and dedication to get there. I don’t expect to just stroll up to the top.
  • “I want it to go faster! It takes too long!” You lose the journey this way. The struggle. Anything worth getting is worth the fight. Take Lord of the Rings for example. If Frodo just flew over the mountain and dropped the ring in from the start, it’d be a short movie, and not very gratifying.

If you want to find enjoyment in the game with people that are like-minded, you have to work for it. Blizzard stated before this expansion that they wanted to encourage more group- and community-oriented game play. It’s time for us as players to adjust to this shift in ideology.

Perhaps you’re in a guild that doesn’t really offer itself up to run dungeons with you. Maybe the group you’ve found yourself in isn’t really supportive when it comes to learning your class mechanics. Everyone starts somewhere, right? To me, both situations mean it’s time to start looking to surround yourself with people you share a mindset with. That’s what this particular MMO is built around, and that’s how Blizzard wants it. If you want to be solo and do your own thing, it’s going to be tougher and cause you more headaches. Start looking for a guild of people that you actually get along with. There are guilds out there that can get through the content and not belittle their members along the way. Whatever your schedule is, whatever your goals are, I promise there is a guild out there for you.

Focus on the journey and the challenge, rather than whining that you can’t have it all right here and right now.

I’m Thespius, and I approve this message.

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Comments

  1. Great article!

    I am definitely enjoying this expansion. I hardly played for nearly a year before Cata came out because I was just so bored with the game. Challenge is necessary to keep things interesting, and so far Cata definitely delivers (and I have only been levelling some characters and doing normal 5 mans so far – can’t wait to start on the harder stuff).

  2. The first instance I did with my guildies was /delicious/ because we wiped on coordination issues, and all of us were pleased to have that sort of dynamic back. Reorganizing with friends. Learning fights on the fly. Good stuff.

    It’s interesting leveling with a friend who is a Cata-newbie. He has the ‘I can heal through anything!’ mentality, and I have to speak up sometimes to remind him that CC is a viable option. He is still somewhat in the mindset, simply steeping in dungeon culture, that wipes are caused by healers not epic enough or tanks being too ‘thin’. I keep saying, “CC will solve both of those problems,” but it’s hard for him to catch himself.

  3. Yes excellent article and sums up my feelings when pugging 5man heroics and in our guild raids. Old habits die hard and people don’t seem to understand this is the way it’s going to be from here on out.

    There are days I wish we can steamroll the heroic random just so I can go to bed, usually after a rough raid night and day at work, but for the most part I enjoy the 5 man heroic difficulty. Some of the pugs have been /facepalm worthy, but there have been others that have gone smoother than guild run where we are all in vent.

    As for raiding, I think people were spoiled by Naxx as the entry raid in Wrath, so Blizzard has made up for it in what we have now. I have only killed 3/4 BoT, 1/5 BWD, and 1/2 in the Throne, but the difficulty is spot on. That said there are pug 10m raids that go further than us (we are a 25m) guild. We’ve been at it for 4 weeks now, but nothing feels like farm content yet, even if we 1-shot things. I feel like we earned the kill an the loot as a result….which is a good feeling.

    Hopefully, people will realize that the Wrath way of doing things is over and up their game, and help others do the same.

  4. Absolutely awesome post. I have pugged very little but the few times I have I have seen the good and the bad sides.

    One run playing my alt rogue in a mage, hunter, rogue druid and pally group in VP heroic the pally tank said he wished he had a better group for CC because only the mage had any and that was no good to get past the elementals in the first half of the dungeon.

    After explaining all the CC options he lol’d and then left us. The next tank had no such problems and we used CC to great effect throughout the run and had a flawless run.

  5. Simon Croppier says:

    Having raided through TBC (all with the same guild – struggled through Kara, blasted through Gruul/Mag, spent weeks wiping on Lady Vashj and got to Sunwell just before the pre-Wrath code hit the servers and made everything a joke), and through some of WotLK, I have to agree. I gave up the game in Lich, partly for personal reasons and partly because the game had lost its sparkle and sense of achievement.

    That’s definitely back with Cataclysm. I’m healing instead of DPS’ing, and that’s significantly more involving (although, having never used my druid for healing before, I don’t have any bad habits to unlearn). I’ve only just dipped into Heroics and downing a boss makes me feel like the first time we actually got past all the trash in Shattered Halls heroic and dropped Nethekurse.

  6. ninjajuicer says:

    I just want to voice my opinion here.

    I think I am in a somewhat unique perspective. I am GL in a guild that can absolutely faceroll most heroic 5s. We destroy them. Frankly, I’m bored to tears in heroic 5 mans. However, I’m about to pull the plug on raiding in my guild. We’ve got some older folks with reflexes that aren’t the best and some folks who are struggling adapting to the new paradigm (2/3 of my healing core is gone or doesn’t want the role anymore). It seems like in 5s we can use a lot of clever strategy to come through. Raiding just feels like it is balanced far too harshly. Also, we struggle with group comp.

    To progress we’d have to cut people. The problem is that these folks are real life friends and spouses. So, we’re in a situation where there is no content left for us. The heroic 5s and BH are easy farm and now boring. Except for a few mounts, there isn’t enough to keep my players engaged. I’d like to think I’m not bad, I made my first LK attempts with a 15% buff on only 4 hours of raiding per week (killed him at 25%)! That being said, we’ve struggled in raiding for a month.

    I think the game will lose something with guilds like mine dying. We’ve provided a home burnt out high end raiders who then trained the next generation of high end raiders in placed like Kara, Mags, MC, and various Wrath raids! We also provided a space where players who have the skills to raid just about anywhere they like can see the content with their spouses and real life friends.

  7. Nice post, but I cannot believe you were cut for wanting to CC! When we were still doing regulars we did the opposite- the tank said- CC is for noobs- out he went. CC now depends on the group makeup and gear, but if they are new 85s it is so needed… not even joking.

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