Raids – Accessibility versus Challenge?

I’ve been wondering how you feel about raid accessibility and progression lately.

During Wrath of the Lich King, the raids started out at one level of difficulty, and then were reduced in difficulty over the course of the expansion. Raids kicked it big, and then as new raids came out, old raids got the ol’ nerfbat swung at ’em.

Even the last big pre-Cataclysm raid, ICC, saw planned gating with the group buff that got beefier the longer the expansion was out.

The most recent notes from patch 4.2 indicate that all existing raids in Cataclysm are about to meet with the same nerfbat treatment, just in time to ease the difficulty/speed the progression of those working on them to get people into the Firelands sooner.

We know for a fact that the easing of difficulty in the name of accessibility did not die with the Lich King. Also, Valor gear for Justice points, coming soon to a vendor near you.

So, how does that make you feel?

I’m interested in this, because for the first time in the game I have a character that could keep up with progression and see Firelands with my guild as it’s released.

In all the years I have played World of Warcraft, I was never one of the players on the leading edge of content progression. Of course, I’m still not on the leading edge, it’s the guild I’m in that is. But I’m kinda going along with them, running like hell to catch up, and I’ve been the beneficiary of their largess with pity epics.

That, plus some seriously focused playtime on my Hunter have placed me on the “wtf, I can raid?” chart as a backup/fill in. If content gets nerfed, then it will be the raids I’ve actively seen that are getting the axe. Including the one boss I haven’t seen die, Nefarian.

It’s my opinion that the nerfs aren’t needed, not on the basis of difficulty level.

I have now done the raids with two different groups, and I’ve had the chance to see how things look from both sides. One group has the content on farm, and the other has about half of it on farm and is tackling new bosses each week.

I’ve also done the heroic dance, getting the gear and figuring out what to get for Justice points, and what to save those precious Valor for.

What I’ve seen is that the content as it is, is excellently balanced.

It is very challenging to learn initially as a group, because each battle has multiple phases, slick gimmicks, and is balanced for groups with a good mix of melee and ranged. learning everything about each fight as a cohesive group takes time. I don’t care who you are.

The most challenging aspect of each battle seems to be movement.

There is a choreography for each fight, a timing and rhythym. They aren’t as rigid as the Safety Dance in Naxx, but timing is still critical.

The most interesting thing to me is that you can control the timing of your group. If your DPS is too high for some fights, too unrestrained, you can trigger phase changes at the wrong moment for your tanks to handle. You can choose whether or not to kill adds or kite them, and deal with the repercussions your own way if you feel up to it.

You’ve got more control, and the better your group is able to flow as a team, the easier the fights get over time. I like that. “And you can dance… for inspiration.” Oh, sorry, I didn’t really type that, did I? 

The thing is, once your group has learned these things, then the encounters are fun and thrilling without being a pain in the butt. When you finish a battle, you know you still had to do it right and do it well, you don’t snooze through. There is still definitely a strong feeling of “Hell yeah, baby, beat his ass again, roll him and grab his wallet” to it.

They’re not nerfing raid fights because they have to. They’re nerfing raid fights to make them easier to get past, and they’re doing it at the same time as they released troll heroics that are farmable for epics, and when they’re making Valor gear go for Justice points.

It’s all about accessibility for more people.

I clearly remember how I felt when all this happened in WotLK. I was glad that there was new content for me to do (the ICC heroics), and I was glad that my friends in Zug would soon be seeing even more tasty fun content.

I even got some benefit out of it, in that the old heroics defintely became a much easier proposition in ICC heroic gear. 

But at the same time, there were problems.

The old heroics were shunned, because why run one of those when there were fun heroics that had epics? Sure the old ones were easier and you could gear up in them to be stronger in ICC heroics, but a lot of people queuing up didn’t seem to care. As soon as iLevel gating said they could do ICC heroics, in they were. Carry me!

So that begs the question, is the current iLevel gating to the troll heroics forcing people to be much better geared in comparison to what we dealt with in WotLK?

Then there is the problem of how you feel, working so hard and taking on challenges, only to have them nerfed, then bypassed by stuff that people won’t get upgrades from if they can get into the new stuff instead.

Will the current raids still feel as epic, when I know that they used to require a tighter group? Will guilds that were struggling feel cheated that they didn’t clear it before the nerbat was swung?

Or will people feel too excited to get into the Firelands?

With Firelands out, will we see the same change in priority we saw in Wrath of the Lich King? Guilds that run the old stuff as little as possible in order to get into the tasty loot-dropping new stuff? Players that run the two new heroics with epic drops exclusively to gear up to hit Firelands, skipping the old raids entirely?

I’m really wondering. I wasn’t part of the raiding scene when ICC was released, so I never played with anyone that had been struggling on content, only to have everything they were doing flushed when ICC and the new heroics got released. 

Is your guild already farming hard modes and bored, waiting for Firelands? If so, will you ever return to BoT, Throne of the Winds or BWD?

Is your guild at the point that you’re could be done and farming the current raids, but have chosen to focus more on farming the new heroics for easier (and repeatable) chances at troll epics?

Are you still struggling to get full raid clears (much like I feel I am) and if so, how do you feel about the upcoming nerfbat, and where will the Firelands find you? Eager to enter, or determined to finish what you started first?

I’m surprised to admit that I’m interested to see what happens next in the story… but at the same time, I feel a strong sense of familiarity about the whole thing. I wonder if the content shift in the next patch will work smoother, or if we’re about to hit that bumpy patch in the road.

Double Rainbow Winning!

This post goes out to Fulguralis, and all those like him, that bring skill and dedication to everything they do.

In Fulguralis’ latest post, he mentioned that he and his raid team just successfully destroyed the Omnitron encounter, like so;

I have to admit, I was a bit jealous of the Bear earlier in the week. I mean, some of us have been toiling away for months over here, and he strolls in all casual like and passes us up in progression in just one day! Also, to add insult to injury, he did it on his hunter.

Fortunately, we downed Omni last night for the first time as well, knotting the score, as it were. Not that there’s any sort of race going on, just… he hasn’t raided in forever. He usually doesn’t even write about raiding. And he then steps in. And on a hunter. And. Just. Blech.

I was overjoyed that Fulguralis attained the satisfaction that comes from setting a goal for yourself, working hard to reach that goal, and finally tasting that hard-won victory.

At the same time, reading the beginning of his post made me feel a little sad. I hadn’t stopped to think how it might feel for someone working their ass off and fighting every week to read that. To strive so hard, and then see some complete noob and raiding dilettante just pop on in and get it first.

It was pretty rotten of me to do, and for that I offer my apologies to Ful and to anyone else in the same position who might have felt that I was, well, a cheater. 

That’s kinda what this post is about.

You see, the way I look at it, if you’re going to go and post something that causes folks to feel bad about their progression, leaping ahead without really trying, you should go the full monty.

You should really break out the total double rainbow side to side, baby.

So, let Uncle Bear tell you about the raid he went on yesterday.

The afternoon started much like any other… wandering around in WoW. In this case, I believe I was on my new Warlock alt, seeing what kind of craziness I could get up to.

I get whispered out of the blue to see if I could take an empty DPS spot in one of the raid teams in the guild.

Now, I’d been asked to raid already by my very good friends, Matheo and Hedwig, but I’d had to turn them down. The email I had said their raid time started at 8 PM, and went for about 3 hours. On Azuremyst, I’m two hours ahead of server time, so I took 8 PM, added two hours, and said thank you but no, I can’t raid with you. 10 PM to 1 AM would normally be just perfect for me, but in this special case Sunday was going to be my sons first communion. No way could I stay up til 1 AM raiding on the morning of so much preparation.

Now, here I am getting invited to a second raid for Saturday, to raid with one of the other serious raid teams.

Mind you, my total iLevel is around 342. I’m not being invited because of my stellar DPS skillz. I’m being invited because there are three kickass raid teams of ten people each in the guild, and there are simply no other unclaimed peeps. Everyone else that might be available are claimed on some other teams lockout. If one person can’t make it… well, when that happens they usually have to pug in someone to fill the raid.

I’m also getting invited simply because there were eleven signed up for the alt run raid on Thursday, and I wasn’t able to go. So, there was some kindness at work there too, which I certainly appreciated.

I’m getting invited, and hey, this was what I had hoped to be able to work towards someday. Being the guy that might not be in a regular raid team, but is able to fill in if he’s needed once in a while to help people out. And hopefully, not suck.

For this raid, I’m told the time will be from 4 PM to 7 PM server. Well heck, 6 PM to 9 PM my time, I can make that work. At least, I can this time. If Cassie feeds the cats for me at 6:30, and if we rush and get dinner done before 6:00 start time, and if we don’t go too far past 9:00. I run it by Cassie, and kind-hearted soul that she is, she lets me go ahead and be available.

So, here’s how the evening goes.

With a 3 hour raid window, I think we have time for maybe one solid shot at a raid instance. i just don’t know where we’re going.

We head to Bastion of Twilight.

I’m pretty excited, because while I’d taken part in killing Halfus, the alt run I was in didn’t clear Valiona and Theralion. Twin dragon deaths! Something to look forward to seeing, and hopefully this time I’ll live through it.

My greatest hope was that I’d see Bastion of Twilight in it’s entirety before raid time was over.

What happened instead was nothing short of amazing.

We went in and one shot Halfus, then Valiona and Theralion, the Sanctum of the Ascended, and Cho’gal. Pretty much at a dead run.

Did I live through everything? Err, no. I don’t think I did terribad, but at the same time the rest of the team moved like a well oiled machine. A machine lubed with vodka and everclear, but lubed nonetheless.

I was told who to pew pew, and when, and the more complicated stuffs were handled by those more capable at the finer elements.

You heard me right, I got carried through Bastion of Twilight and got the Achievement.

I received a very nice upgrade as well, a new necklace, the Necklace of Strife from Valiona. A raid with tons of stuff to see, and loot too? Verily, my cup be running over.

At this point, I naively thought the evening’s entertainment was done. They raid two nights on the weekend, so I figured they saved Blackwing Descent for Sunday.

Not so! Off we went to take on BWD, at top speed.

In short order Magmaw, Omnotron Defense System, Maloriak, Atramedes and Chimaeron went down.

That’s right, everything except Nefarian.

T’was at that point that the raid was called, Nefarian being held for the Sunday raid, which I, of course, would not be attending. Not just because I was busy, but also because my DPS just be too damn low. I stayed right around 12k to 15k, and that’s just not right. 

So, time to go to Stormwind, and then off to bed, just as soon as I had purchased a Gnomish X-Ray Scope for my new bow, Themios the Darkbringer, which dropped on Atramedes and was passed to me with something akin to relief, with a few comments along the lines of “Hey, for once we don’t have to shard the Hunter loot.”

Yep, loot whore, one each.

So, after I got the new bow enchanted, someone said, “Okay, now for Al’Akir.”

Wait, what? We’re not done yet?

Nope!

 We went straight into Throne of the Four Winds, where we proceeded to finally wipe, on Conclave of Winds.

Now, don’t get me wrong. They usually have no problem one shotting Conclave of Winds.

The problem was, according to vent, a combination of poor Kissinger the Mage getting actively hacked while we were on the platforms, and of my bringing too much DPS to the raid, compared to who they normally would pug in. I was rushing them to go all out sooner than usual.

Isn’t that great? I screw the raid by trying to do my best. You can’t beat that, my friends.

Poor Kissinger. Sitting there on vent raiding, and poof, you are booted from your own account and taken over.

He got it seized back quickly and changed the password, and he talked to a GM about it, but there was little else he could do. He has an Authenticator on the way, but it’s not in yet. Talk about screaming frustration, right?

To cut it short, we beat Conclave of Winds despite some incredibly embarrassing blunders by me, and moved on to Al’Akir.

Al’Akir is an amazing encounter. Truly amazing.

I also did something I can’t ever recall doing before.

I pulled the boss while the raid leader was still telling me the strategy.

That the team almost one shot him that try anyway just says how badly they were carrying me, but, um, yeah.

See, it’s totally my fault, but at the same time, well, shit.

I turn using my mouse. I hold right-click and change facing by moving the mouse around.

Al’Akir has ONE HUGE F’ING HIT BOX.

I pointed the mouse I swear at my feet, right-clicked my mouse to look around, and shot the boss in the ass.

I’ll long remember the raid leader saying, “Make sure during phase three that when you get lightning rod you move down 10 and out 40, then WHAT THE HELL?!?!”

Yep, that was me that did that, yep!

So.

One night. About 3.5 hours.

Bear got, on his still shiny new Hunter, blasted through every normal raid boss except Nefarian.

Umm, Fulguralis, I think at this point I should say something like, I’ll see your Omnomnomotron kill and raise you a please don’t kill me, please please please I’m sorry I’m sorry.

Not that we’re racing or anything. :)

Seriously though, what this has proved to me is one thing.

If you want to have success in raiding, having skill and gear is good, but joining a guild full of uber accomplished raiders that are willing to carry you is even better.

Okay, no, that’s not what it proved. I’m sure the more cynical would say it is, but meh.

What it proved to me is that skill and coordination and talent all play the largest roles… even to the point of a very good 9 person team being able to deal with a horrible noob and still come out on top. At least, as long as that noob ain’t a tank. Or a healer. Or one of the people needed for CC.

Now… THAT is how you’re supposed to write a post about leaping ahead in raid progression without earning a single bit of it.

I now return you to your normally scheduled blah blah BBB blah.

Oh, wait… I know what this post is missing. Screenshots!

Okay, huge blind internet dragon swooping in for the kill… poor little guy. If only he heard about Lasik Eye Surgery!

The gong show… my favorite show ever? Not really, but I always loved the Comedian in the Paper Bag. Of course, I think I was five when that show was on the air. Everything on TV is funny when you’re five, if it involves stupidity or farting.

Nezir, I think AnnCoulter would like a quick word with you… just be careful, she may be a hideous, deformed thing with a massively huge snout and ginormous mouth that roars incoherently all the time, but if she grabs onto your nuts with those teeth, it ain’t gonna be pretty.

Ahhhh, Al’Akir. You poor, poor Elemental Lord. You are huge, you are powerful, you are one of the four elemental lieutenants that had once led the armies of the Old Gods. Your power rivals that of Ragnaros himself, and you are worshipped by all that love the sky.

I’m really, really sorry about these arrows I’m about to shoot at you. I mean, the angle, what I can see here… it’s just not dignified, and I want you to know, if I had it any other way, I wouldn’t be about to do this. No, I mean it, I’m really sorry.

I’ll tell you what. Those arrows? You keep ’em. No, really, you can have them. I don’t want those back. You just… you just hold onto those. Just please… don’t mention it. We can let them be my gift to you.

BBB’s BM Hunter experiences in Omnotron

Hi folks! Today we’re going to talk about raiding.

No, you’re not confused. Get back here! This IS the Big Bear Butt, I’m just gonna talk about raiding.

No, really. Stop laughing, damnit, I’m serious.

Last night I joined an ‘alt run’ raid in Band of Misfits – Azuremyst with my quickly rising Hunter, Beartrap.

Since I write a blog, surprise surprise, you get to read about it the day after. Hopefully, this will be more entertaining and informative than a “look at me, I raided, see my loots’ style thing.

Hopefully. I make no promises.

The alt run was done in fine Band of Misfits fashion, as in, everyone but me seemed to be drinking heavily before we even started. At least the ones on vent were. Okay, the raid leader was, and the rest didn’t seem far behind.  

We started out by going to Bastion of Twilight. My first Cataclysm raid experience began with me asking, “Hey, where the hell IS Bastion of Twilight, anyway?”

Go figure, it’s in Twilight Highlands, on a platform waaaay up in the sky over that mountain all the Twilight Cultist goons hang out at.

Now, how am I supposed to be expected to know that a Twilight raid entrance was in the Twilight zone at the Twilight mountains over the Twilight Cultist hangouts? I mean seriously, who would have thought to look there? Cut me some slack.

We entered as a brave ten person group, and I proudly brought AnnCoulter the Devilsaur to display my Beast Master heritage for all and sundry. If you’re gonna piss someone off, I figure I might as well get it out of the way before we get too far in.

Surprisingly enough, nobody said anything about it. Perhaps the drinking had gone far enough that they couldn’t tell what that thing was I had with me?

We smashed our way quickly to this big platform open to the sky, and with joy I saw that there were lots and lots of internet dragons. And whelps! Oh my, this was gonna be fun.

I hurriedly checked on the most important part of my rotation… yep, my Misdirect macro was ready to go, all I had to do was add in the name of the healer and set it next to my Multi-Shot and I was all set for a Whelp fight.

Hey, you prepare your way, I’ll prepare mine.

This boss encounter turned out to be what you experienced types call Halfus Wyrmbreaker.

I’d like to tell you how I did in this one, but it went by so fast that all I remember is there were many whelps, there were internet dragons, and then there was some loot. Huzzah!

After Halfus we went to tackle the second set of bosses in BoT, a pair of dragons called Valiona and Tharalion. More internet dragons! Blizzard loves us, this I know, because the dragons tell me so…..

The raid leader gave all sorts of instructions for this fight, but it all boiled down to ‘run inside, run back out, run in circles, scream and shout’. I followed these instructions to the letter, but I kindly refrained from keying my mike during the ‘scream and shout’ portion. I was, apparently, the only one.

After two or three highly entertaining wipes and a VERY close up view of a purple dragon poop chute (Run under the tail! Run under the tail! Jeez, okay, I should at least get double crits for where I’m sticking my arrows, man, c’mon) we decided to shift direction to Blackwing Descent, and to shift our drinking to shots.

As a Hunter, I’m highly proficient in many different types of shots. I can offer up just about any kind of shot you could imagine. Except for Steady Shot, I don’t have much use for Steady Shot.

Blackwing Descent, here we come!

This time, I knew I could find the entrance. Umm, I think. Huh, not in the mountain? Really? It’s got to be in the mountain, Blackwing is always in this one damn mountain. Oh looky, I took so long they tossed me a pity summon. Sweet!

We entered, ran in and beat up Magmaw like the squirming squirtle snake thing that he is. It went by so fast that, again, I really can’t say much more about my experience than that it involved a lot of shooting, a lot of running back and forth with the rest of the ranged peoples, and a bunch of staying out of the bad. It tested my abilities to focus on shot prioritization to their limits, but I came through okay. I’m happy to report I didn’t spill a drop.

I said I didn’t have much use for Steady Shot. I never said I didn’t know how to use it. 

(That’s a Quigley Down Under joke, btw. In case you’re a real hunter wondering wtf I’d be doing using Steady Shot for reals and all)

After the one shot Magmaw kill came the truly entertaining part of the evening; Omnotron Defense System.

Even I, as intentionally clueless as anyone that plays WoW can be about group raids, has heard of Omnomnomotron.

I did not know anything whatsoever about this fight before we pulled. I have tried my best, since Cataclysm was released, to remain spoiler free and worry free about the instances and raids. I know that I have to study them now that I’m going to be doing them, really study, but I wanted to stay clean as long as possible. Last night, I was as noobish as you can be about what to expect.

I was paying attention in vent to any possible instructions, and you know, damned if I recall anyone even mentioning what was gonna happen or what to do before we pulled.

That first pull was a LOT of fun!

It turns out that there ain’t just ONE critter in there… there’s bunches! And it turns out there ain’t jest one mechanic… it’s like, a collection of every ‘get out of the bad’ mechanic I’ve ever seen in the game, all rolled into one encounter, and then thrown out in stages over and over.

It’s WONDERFUL!!!

Shit, I had so much fun I was grinning ear to ear.

Now, we wiped the first few times, but I learned a lot.

The biggest thing I learned was that the folks who’ve programmed Deadly Boss Mods deserve some serious thanks and your money. WTF, over. I can see learning the fight and doing it without DBM, but sure as hell not without a LOT of teamwork and confusion first. And never as part of the first time walking in.

There are all sorts of things to avoid, there’s things not to step in, there are things you SHOULD step in, there are adds that spawn, there are times you really don’t want to be doing damage on the dude you were just whacking… it’s most excellent.

Okay, let me paint you a picture of what it was like from a Beartrap point of view, if you’ve never seen Omnotron before.

We walk up some stairs and stand there on a landing, looking into a large chamber, It’s all dwarven styled architecture, so square blocks and granite walls and right angle shapes.

At the far end of the room are several large stone giant statues of the kind you are used to seeing guarding dwarf areas. Think the stone golem bouncer in the Grim Guzzler, but larger. All of them seem dead or deactivated.

Okay, so we stand there, we buff up, and then the raid leader yells “Go!”

I go running in with the group, and one of the stone giants comes to life. It’s got a name. It has a health bar. It has as much health as a full raid boss all on it’s own. Therefore, this must be the infamous Omnotron, right? Funny, name says Toxitron, I must have missed something. Wow, a simple tank and spank fight? Well, okay. I’ll have to stay on my toes in case something else happens.

The stone giant dumps a cloud of green shit that hangs in the air. Okay, so get out of the green bad stuff. That’s cool. I can do that. Is that it?

Then DBM announces “Poison Protocol”, and Toxitron spews a stream of green stuff on the floor like it’s peeing on the tank. Peeing green? Ewwww. Dude, one word; penicillin.

From out of the green puddle, little green toxic oozes pop up. What, he has crabs, too? Oh look, adds! Cool, switch targeting to take down the adds. Raid leader tells people to run if they’re Fixated. I store that nugget of wisdom for later.

We’re burning him down and then DBM tells me to switch my target right the hell NOW!

Wait, what?

Oh shit, there’s another of those stone bastards! OMIGOD HE’S GOT A GAZILLION HEALTH TOO!

Okay, this guy is throwing fire around in an AoE, and I can’t get out of it. Grrr. Hey, what the hell is that, a laser beam? GET IT OFF GET IT OFF… oh shit, I bet he blows up everyone around the target, I gotta run the hell away from everyone else…

I hear the raid leader say ‘Don’t leave the room’, so I come back into range of heals… and sure as hell, big badda boom on me, but at least I ain’t near anyone else.

DBM says to switch target right NOW! Oh shit, again?

WTF IS WITH THE HEALTH ON THESE PRICKS?!?!

Arcano… oh shit, he dropped a big purple circle on the floor, run away, run a… hey, everyone else ran INTO the circle, RUN IN, RUN IN…. oooh, damage boost! Yummy!

Lemme guess… right on time, yeah yeah, switch targets, fine, whatever… Electron? Lemme guess… yep, that there would be lightning. Chain lightning. Yawn.

Okay, what the hell is that on me, I’m sparking like an incipient blue flame generator… oh shit, that’s gonna be one of those ‘you blow up the rest of the raid near you, but you live’ kinda things, ain’t it? RUN AWAY FROM THE RAID, RUN AWAY!

Oh damn, I pooped ball lightning… oh, okay, I don’t have to run out, I can just run away from the raid and run in circles pooping lightning, I can do that. Oh, and ewwwww.

All right, we’re back on the green dude again! Okay, switching…

And then there was this big kaboom, and we wiped.

Here are a few actual mechanics things I picked up over the course of the evening, which thankfully contributed to my still being alive and useful when we downed the encounter and got our loots on the third go around.

The first thing I learned (from our first wipe) is that if you do NOT switch off of the mob you had been targeting when the next one gets activated, then what you’re doing is whittling away at the mob’s damage shield, and if you break through, the mob blows up, killing folks. So when DBM was telling me to switch, that ain’t a suggestion that your own particular raid leader might not want to follow. Nope, that’s what you do. So do eet!

In order to adjust my game to that little factoid, I made sure to HASTEN my retargeting as soon as the new mob got activated, commanded my pet to change targets just as fast, and also stopped refreshing my Serpent Sting dot at the ten second warning DBM gives you prior to the next guy activating. I didn’t want that dot ticking away at the shield. I also made sure to fire off my Explosive Trap at the beginning of each activation so it would have faded before it was bubble time. DoTs ticking away at shield = not good.

The second thing I learned was, the four things share health. You do not want to stay on one that’s almost gone and ride it down and hope the bubble doesn’t pop… you switch targets. They all have one big shared health pool. Hey, that wasn’t readily apparent the first go around, and knowing it made me breathe a sigh of relief.

The third thing I learned was it’s very, very good that I was burning down the adds. It looked like they did hellacious damage if they hit who they were fixated on. Oh yeah, didn’t I mention? Those oozes weren’t just random adds. They all fixate on someone like a guided missile, little green bombs, and they slowly make their way towards their targets. Burn them bad boys down.

That purple circle Arcano drops? Yep, good to stand in, bad to leave boss in. Note to self, watch fer those suckas and love the extra damage.

We wiped a few times, and you know how I finally found the entrance to the raid? By following a long, long, LONG stream of dead players all making their way back up to the landing. Must have been a rough night, man.

We killed ’em all and sorted the loot, and I walked away from the fight with a shiny new Voltage Source Chestguard. Oh wow, raid loots!

Now, if you expected a real guide to any of this, well, sorry to disappoint. I was having fun flying by the seat of my pants.

If you really want a serious guide to this encounter, you’re not going to find it here. Instead, I’d recommend you pay a visit to Tankspot, the home of some truly wonderful narrated video guides. Now that I’m stopping my intentional ignoring of strats and spoiler videos, you’ll be able to find me there. That’s my first stop for resources on how things work and what to expect.

Aside from researching individual boss and mechanic functions on Wowhead, of course.

Have a great weekend everyone, get out and see Thor! It was awesome!

Do We Really Have to See ‘Casual’ Dug Up Again?

With the difficulties of the new Heroics being the topic of the day on many blogs and popular websites, and discussions on tanking and healing and threat and crowd control flaring up like nasty little brushfires, there’s something that’s been revived to go right along with it.

I’m talking about the word ‘casual’ being used to mean ‘not as skilled as me’. 

We’ve gone over this ground, people. Over it and over it and over it.

I had thought we’d beaten that horse to death.

No, really. Hell, I thought we led the horse out of the barn, beat it to death, raised it from the dead in a terrible ritual under the light of the new moon, beat it to death again, and then fed what was left to the sharks. Then fed the sharks to the seals.

Then we blew up the seals, boiled the oceans, nuked the coral beds, filled it all in with asphalt and gravel and held a “pave the earth’ party to celebrate. 

But nooo…. here we go again.

I even saw it in a recent post by Fox Van Allen on WoW Insider, and I know darn well he knows better.

It’s insidious, and not in a darthy way.

It seems to creep up on otherwise perfectly normal people, people who for whatever reason start using the term.

Not everyone that uses it buys into the whole idea that if you don’t live every waking moment in a raiding guild, you’re a scrub with no skills, easily flustered by any instance or raid that requires teamwork, coordination, knowledge of class abilities and talent. But using that term makes you come off as if you did.

So, hopefully for the last time, but I won’t hold my breath.

Time spent playing past a certain point DOES NOT EQUAL SKILL. Time spent playing in a raiding guild DOES NOT EQUAL SKILL.

SKILL EQUALS SKILL.

Just because a person can follow the directions of a raid leader while raiding, with the advantages that voice communications over Ventrilo brings, with clearly delineated roles and duties assigned to them, does not in any way mean that same person can play well while in a group of strangers, using solid personal judgment, displaying skill and timing in the proper use of class abilities, and following a stranger’s lead without copping an attitude because the tank doesn’t have a ‘kingslayer’ as a title. 

You can develop solid skill regardless of the amount of actual time you spend in the game raiding. Identifying your classes’ abilities, seeking out personal opportunities to practise those skills, and being clued in and able to turn a seconds’ crisis into an opportunity to ROCK does not require spending 20 hours a week plugged in.

What it requires is the dedication to be the best that you can be, the intelligence to know to identify what your class can do in advance of needing it, the wisdom to research the methods others have used to accomplish those things to find multiple ways and means, and the patience to go out and do it yourself with the time you have available.

From that point, it takes practise and the development of personal skill.

The only thing a player can not acquire without spending tons of time in a raiding guild is actual direct experience of the content of the day… something that many such skilled players overcome as best they can through watching videos of raiding guilds working through that same content, and reading strategy guides for individual bosses. Tankspot has long been a great source for these kinds of training and guidance videos.

So, can people please pull their heads out of their collective asses and stop using the term ‘casual’ to mean idiot, scrub, noob, moron or loser?

If you want to call someone an idiot, use the term idiot. God knows I’ve met a million of them from leet raiding guilds, people who have long grown used to substituting brute force and high gear levels for finesse and skill.

I hate to break it to some of you, but if you’re an idiot, you’re an idiot, and no amount of time spent being carried by a really good raiding guild will change that, any more than any amount of practise or trained leet skills will get a player awesome epic loot if that person never runs in a single raid.

Casual doesn’t automatically mean idiot any more than raider means skilled. Get over it.

If you have to use a term to describe the influx of poor players that are emerging in the level 85 Heroic pugging scene, how about you use “immature” or “bloody damn asshat wanting to be carried instead of having to think and play well for a change”. As descriptions go, they’re far more accurate.

Immature can be used in a sentence such as the following; “Boy, I was really excited when my pug dungeon finally popped after waiting in queue for 45 minutes, but it all fell apart when the immature tank dropped group in the middle of the first pull for no reason whatsoever. What an asshole.”

See what I did there? I used immature instead of casual, because casual would have been an unwarranted assumption on playing time I have no actual data to make, but immature is factual, based on my direct observations of the asshole in question.

Are there any further questions?

Raiding can be fun! Who knew?

About a week ago, I actually went into the secret fortress of Icecrown Citadel with a good bunch of blokes, hoping to find out the truth behind this raiding thing. 

Along the way, we discovered rockets that stick out of furry Bear butts, the dangers of dancing too close to the edge of Gunships, and what happens when you don’t have maxed Hit Rating on your Taunt mechanic when fighting Saurfang.

I went on this run as a healer, and it was very exciting. After all, this was raiding. The big “R”. This is what the game is all about. This is where we seperate the noobs from the leet. Prime time.

Or, in the words of Ming-Ming, “This. Is. Sewious!”

We went in looking for a fight. The group had consistently taken down Morrowgar, but being all friends, most of whom know each other in real life, their focus is more towards fun together than on progression. I know of plenty of times on raid nights they’ve had 8 or 9 able to be there, and rather than pug in an extra stranger to get a serious raid done, they just give it a shot on theirown.

Regardless, they’ve got the skill, they just hadn’t taken too many shots past Morrowgar before then as a ten person group. This was the night they were hoping to really push the envelope way up into the far right corner. You know, that place where they cancel your ass. 

I was really looking forward to seeing it for the first time as a healer. In the past, as a tank, I’ve found having the chance to observe in person the action from a distant vantage point very valuable. Healers get to see a lot, most especially what kind of damage people are taking, and where people are standing, and what adds spawn from where, and what AoE pops up, and slime trails, and frost paths, and etc.

I was one of three healers for the ICC 10 run. One Shaman, two Trees, no waiting. I was supposed to focus on party heals.

Yeah, okay. Like I’m going to sit there and NOT throw some HoTs on the two tanks when I get the chance.

The group composition was kinda neat, since we had 3 Hunters, Bear and Paladin tanks, and a Warlock and Shaman as additional DPS.

Yes, that’s right. Three Druids, three Hunters, two Shaman, a Warlock and a Paladin.

Makes for interesting buff combinations. On the other hand, we certainly had lots of Runescrolls of Fortitude and Drums of Forgotten Kings handy, so what the heck.

Morrowgar happened to be the weekly boss, and went down with scarcely a moan. In fact, Morrowgar doesn’t cause nearly as much angst as doing the trash leading up to him without a Rogue to check for traps.

The excitement that comes from having someone run in for a planned group pull, and body-trip the land mines on the way in is AWESOME.

Adrenaline junkies, take note. That’s the good stuff.

“Here we go, here we go, pulling, OH SHIT WE HIT A TRAP, RUN, RUN, RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!!!!”

Good times, good times.

Morrowgar went down, and there was much rejoicing.

From there, we went after Lady Deathwhisper, and the Zuggers were in new territory where boss kills in ICC were concerned. They were all primed, and ready to give her a whomping. 

The first time we went after her, there were a few learning curves all around, but it was awesome seeing how so many Battle Rezes plus the Shaman Ankh helped us towards the end when it all went wahoonie-shaped.

But we still all died.

For myself, I found that it was actually easier to use high Mana-cost Regrowth for general party heals due to it’s duration, spot in Rejuvenation when needing an extra kick, Wild Growth on tank groups and a fast pop of Innervate on meself 1 minute in.

That let me launch a ton of up-front healing while the group got settled in and worked through any jitters or confusion. With the Innervate getting me charged back up, I was able to coast on spot party and tank heals for the next 2 and a half minutes of cooldo, burning down the adds.

As the fight wore on, the intensity of outgoing heals increased, my Mana began to really drop towards the bottom, and while a carefully timed Potion kept me in the bottom 25% of my reserve, Deathwhisper’s Mana Shield finally dropped, and I was perfectly poised to have Innervate ready to go again for full Mana right as everything went into overdrive. 

Sadly, as I said, we all died anyway. 

But the second one, ah yes, the second one went smooth as clockwork. Regrowth is a major Mana investment, I know, and isn’t very cost effective in healing done, but it really does allow you to have a few extra seconds in there to get spot Rejuves on while ignoring some of the group.

As Napoleon famously once said, “Time, time, ask me for anything but time!” Sometimes, having a HoT ticking those few seconds longer somewhere else is more precious than gold, if it lets you blow an extra two Global Cooldowns on HoTing someone else. 

At least, it does for me, since I don’t have nearly the Haste a raiding Resto Druid should have. 

With Lady Deathwhisper down for the guild’s first kill, there was much rejoicing. Cars were flipped over in the streets and set on fire, bottles upended, toasts drunk, and Brokentree woke up the next morning with a strange pair of underpants on his head and a shaved cat hiding in the cupboard.

The awesomesauce epic Bow dropped, and watching three hunters all want it and only one be able to have it hurt. A lot. At a moment like that, you really do wish everyone could have a pony, don’t you?

Okay, great night, grats all around.

Somebody, I think it was Brokentree, had to suggest we go on to the Gunship battle. “I hear it’s pretty easy.”

Now why would you want to go and spoil a perfectly fine victory like that for?

Well, okay. I wanted my own rocket pack!

Now, in Tree form, I don’t get to have a visible rocket pack. This makes me fairly sad. But I did flip to Bear form, and do my fair share of rocket blasts back and forth on the deck.

Now, with this fight, I began to detect the first hints of a pattern.

The Zuggers would take their first try at something totally new, go over the strat, line up, take it on, and then wipe in glorious fashion.

Then, on the second try, down she goes.

Now, the Gunship might have been successfully run the first time, but we’ll never know, now will we?

No, because you see, we had to try nine-manning it.

We WOULD have had ten… but Chawakanda was admiring the view from off the port bow, seeing the sights of Icecrown from the air. She’s always wanted to take an ocean cruise, try the badminton, the shuffleboard, see the floor show, dine on lobster and all those funny little glass bowls with the shrimp with tails on and the spicy red sauce.

Well, she was lost in thought, leaning over the railing… and fell off the ship. 

I have it on good authority that once the Hunter has left the ship, the Rocket Pack no longer works.

Gotta love that Goblin engineering, eh?

The second try, we all made it into battle, and we totally kicked their ass.

Like, totally.

Do you like that descriptive replay? Isn’t that helpful?

Not really much more to say. Go across and kill the Mages when the guns get iced up, head back and repel boarders and shoot hell out of the other ship. Dodge Mortars. Avoid the enemy captain. Rinse and repeat. Next!

So, more loot, and I gots a shiny new healing dagger. Woot! icecrown loot! I iz a raider fo sho!

Yo man, check out mah leet gear score! Pay no attention to the iLevel 200 Trinkets behind the curtain.

So, guild first Gunship battle kill, same night as the guild first Deathwhisper kill. Rock on, right? We bad, we bad, you know it, uh huh.

Yeah, well, let’s go for the hat trick, and a guild first Deathbringer Saurfang kill.

Wait, what?

At this point, I know one thing.

There isn’t enough alcohol for this raid night.

On Deathbringer Saurfang, the trend is definitely confirmed.

See boss. Discuss strategy. Attempt boss. Wipe after a solid attempt, screaming and shouting and carrying on. Then do it a second time and make it look easy.

This is a terrible rut these folks have fallen into.

Don’t they know you’re supposed to wipe four or five times, argue strats in heated tones, reference the almighty Elitist Jerks or Tankspot, then bitch at each other for sucking or pulling aggro?

Noobs. Lrn2dramaz.

Long story only slightly shorter, yes, we did in fact take down Deathbringer Saurfang.

I even got enough rep from the night’s extravaganza that I could go get my Friendly Ring, and I chose the tanking one. Woot!

Wow. First four bosses dead in ICC, achievements, loot upgrades, rep Rings…

That was pretty cool.

This raiding thing… it’s pretty neat. I’m not sure the Zuggers get the concept, though. They’re entirely too… I dunno, efficient.

What the hell am I gonna blog about, if all they do is just go in and win?

There is a limit to how many bosses they can see and wipe to the first time, you know. How freaking boring!

Oh well, I’m sure something will turn up.

Like maybe we can go into The Eye and try to brute force Kael’thas.

Yeah, I bet that would be awesome!

It was an accident, right?

“It was an accident, right? You tripped, fell on the floor and accidently stuck your Druid into my raid.”

So, who can guess what movie line I stole THAT from?

Again, as in the last quote in a post I did, it’s one of my favorite movies of all time.

Hmm, okay, one more quote from that movie that might help.

“Head or gut?”

Moving on…

With all the fun surrounding having Blizzard announcements to talk about, I neglected to mention one interesting (to me, anyway) fact.

I raided last week.

Yes, yes I did!

Oh, not ICC or anything impressive like that, although I’ve seen Morrowgar a few times.

But still, I’m talking an actual raid, you know, where it’s not a pug full of strangers in wildly different gear, skill and interest levels.

No, it was a group of people who are friends and know each other, all at an appropriate level of gear, and all (and I mean every single one) who actually tried to play well and showed a lot of skill, going into a place looking for a full clear if they can at all swing it.

We went into Trial of the Crusader 10, and had a wonderful time!

It was very exciting!

No, I’m not expecting YOU to get excited about it. I know most of you who read this probably see ToC 10/25 raiding as being somewhere along the line of dipping your toes in the kiddy pool.

That’s cool. I fully understand. 

For me, the experience had a solid “Burning Crusade” vibe to it.

What I mean by that, is this is a place with bosses and battles that I have long heard stories about, seen people talking about, heard a buzz over in Trade chat. 

Much like in Burning Crusade, when I’d be raiding ten mans and no further, and hearing talk about fishing up the boss in Serpentshrine Caverns, about running back and forth with a Mage tank in Gruul’s Lair, about having to have lots of tanks at various stations in Magtheridon’s Keep.

You hear about the Faction Champions, you hear about the various fights in ToC all the time, and once you finally get in there and see it for yourself, you get to have the reality come into comparison with a place that you imagined, and it makes the whole thing more impressive. More, I don’t know… special.

I’m sure it’s much the same in ICC now, where you see people talk about the Gunship Battle, and rocketpack jumping and all that in chat. You hear that, you get a mental image of it, and then really look forward to experiencing it yourself.

I still remember with great fondness the time I went into Mount Hyjal with Cassie for a retro raid. The recent announcements about Mount Hyjal being an updated raid brought it to mind. 

It was long after Wrath came out and we were OP for it, but it was a place we had heard a ton about when it was meaningful in Burning Crusade, and sounded bloody awesome.

I can tell you, doing Mount Hyjal at level 80 did NOT disappoint. It was still amazingly fun.

Almost as interesting, actually, was finding out that at the time, before all the loot upgrades from content higher than Naxx and before ToC Heroic came out, the Tier helms were actually still very good at 80. Cassie won the Rogue tier helm and wore it for at least a few months.

I went in and ran ToC 10, as I said, and I have to admit I enjoyed it not just because it was all new content to me and really exciting, but also because the group I ran with really did know how to play.

All of them.

Not just 4 or 5 in the group trying their all, and the rest phoning it in because, hey, casuals, so why actually try to learn how to play?

No, everyone worked together, and played their classes well, and as far as I could tell actually used lots of class skills, and not just “hit DPS button, rinse and repeat.”

Even stranger, there were no silly, wierd, or disturbing “What the heck was that” moments. You know what I mean, that moment when someone does something and you just wonder, “What the hell were they thinking?”

You get used to all that in pugs, don’t you? You get used to carrying people. Of seeing someone do something almost unconscionably stupid, something that has nothing to do with not knowing the fight, and has everything to do with being stupid or not caring.

You get used to it when pugging is how you roll, and you have to learn to just shrug and let it go because, hey, it’s a pug.

How much worse if that’s how it is in your guild, because, again, hey, it’s casual raiding with friends, and how do you tell your friend that they, well, frankly they suck? I mean, really, really bad?

You can get so used to it that, if or when you get the chance to run with a group that is, in it’s entirety, well skilled, it’s just like someone taking a heavy weight off your shoulders.  

Yep, it was tons of fun. It was a blast.

Oh, and we cleared the whole place in one night!

Had a couple wipes along the way… and, would you believe it, the group came up with a different strategy each time it happened and succeeded on the next shot?

I could almost get used to this wierd thing I saw.

What the hell do you call it?

Oh, yeah.

Competence.

A PUG Raiding Retrospective

Last night I decided to give PUG raids a chance once again, and on a whim volunteered for a VoA 25 run.

Let’s just say that, while I have seen the 2nd and 3rd bosses before, I haven’t done VoA since they added the Ice boss, and I’d only done the Fire and Lightning a few times. Possibly not even on my main, either.

In fact, thinking back on it, I think I’ve only done the Fire boss twice before; once on my Paladin on Horde side with the Zug Initiative, and once on my Hunter on Alliance in a PUG, winning some nice PvP boots that I’m still wearing.

I had studied before, and knew the tactics for all the bosses except Ice. I’d never intended to do VoA again, so I hadn’t bothered studying that one. Oh why look, an unprepared Bear. /win

I went as a Tree, and not only did I get to heal, I even bullied poor Dechion to come with me to heal as well. Misery loves company, and if I’m going to screw up, best to have witnesses, right?

It’s more fun that way.

Since I hadn’t studied in advance, a hurried query in guild chat followed as we ran in. “Hey, Occulus… wtf do we do on the Ice boss, dude?”

We were then given the following advice;

“Stay away from the Orbs.”
“Heal the tanks.”

Ooookay. We can do that. I think. Thanks for the tip.

It was a lot of fun. It did take a while to get the group together, people kept dropping in and out, and as far as I can see it was because people felt that the group was not forming fast enough to suit them. Which, let me tell you, when you drop group because you’re missing two people out of 25 after 3 minutes, it sure does speed up getting the group formed. Idiots.

We got the group full up, summoned or teleported in, marked the two main tanks (I love that, I really do), buffed up and ran to do the new boss first.

All things considered, it went very well, although I quickly saw what Occulus meant about watching the Orbs. The damn things spawn and swirl all over the place, and if they touch you it hurts. I have no idea if they had to be DPSed down or if they despawn on their own after a set time, because nobody… NOBODY mentioned doing any particular strategy at any time, for any boss. If you didn’t know how to do things going in, there was zero guidance along the way.

So, all I really know is, Orbs spawned and did lots of group damage that we healed through, and then vanished after a while. It’s kinda hectic in a 25, and I just don’t know without researching if they despawned on their own or not. 

After that boss fell, one person instantly left group. Guess he only wanted a piece of loot from the Ice boss, and had no interest in sticking around to like, I dunno, finish the run. That’s one to feed to the ignore list, and thank you very much.

We then continued on to Archavon, short 1, cleared that and went back and did Lightning. Lost another player after Lightning, a healer, and did the Fire boss with 23.

It amazes me how many people dinged boss kill Achievements all the way, even on Archavon, and yet there were no wipes, and no discussion about tactics at all.

I’ll admit, I was healing with all the skill I was capable of, and a lot of people getting stuck in Lightning Ring and in Fire and stuff got very low in health before we brought them back up, but we never wiped, and had very few actual deaths. I think we had four healers, and Dechion and I were two of them, so that always feels good.

Cassie walked in towards the end of the run, and of course almost everything that dropped was Paladin plate, so she was crying a little inside for her Pally.

That led us to talk a little bit about this whole raiding thing, and PUGging versus guild runs, and how things are now compared to how they used to be.

I think I’ve been pretty clear in the past year or so that I ain’t a regular PUG kinda person. Unlike most people I know, I haven’t done PUG raids as a regular thing in a long, long time. Not real raids. I have tried to do the weekly Raid boss on my Druid, when I think of it though.

When Cassie and I talk about raiding, and doing them as PUGs, the conversation usually turns to the last time we actually enjoyed PUGging a raid.

Karazhan.

That’s right. Karazhan.

There was this beautiful window of time where a lot of people had leveled and geared from Heroics, gotten some decent Badge gear, but the last load of uber-leet Badge gear costing beeellions and beeellions of Badges had NOT been released yet on the Isle of Pretentious Blood Elves.

It felt like a magical time.

We’d left our big guild that wanted to do serious raids, and there was just the two of us on our own, with our alt guild nametag over our heads. Karazhan was the only 10 person Raid in the game, and it was very, very long with tons of bosses. There was lots in there to do.

Karazhan was the stopping place for many casual guilds that wanted to raid, but didn’t want to merge into large guilds and deal with potential drama just to hit 25s. If you wanted to raid and didn’t have 25 people to field, Karazhan was the place.

For Cassie and I, it really was a magical time to PUG. We both loved the length of Kara, we loved the way the fights required people at our gear level to use all our abilities and to CC and move and play well and use tactics in order to succeed. It was lots of fun to be with a group of other people all at our same level, because raiders never went back to Kara.

We were also very fortunate that, most of the time, when someone was advertising that they needed a few more for Kara, they were really great people that just happened to be short one or two guildies at that moment, like Essence of Grandeur.

We got to join PUG raids as a couple, and do really interesting and challenging content at the time, with what were in effect entire guilds of skilled people. Not really a true PUG at all, when you think of it.

Looking back, it’s really a shame how things turned out.

When the uber-leet Badge loot was released, suddenly all the raiders wanted fast Badges again, and lots of them. So Karazhan got swamped by people that had insane levels of 25 man raider gear, raiders that wanted to run Karazhan, and who were in guilds that weren’t going to organize Kara in the middle of their progressive raiding schedule.

These people were in a rush to get done because they weren’t there for fun or to see the place or enjoy being with friends. They didn’t want loot from there. They just wanted Badges, and they didn’t respect the level of content OR the other people who were in there at the appropriate level.

These people also wanted to gear their alts up to join their raiding guilds, their raiding guilds weren’t organizing lower-level raids, and so they raided on their mains, and pugged Kara to gear up from the uber-leet Badge gear. And they broght with them their high end raider attitude.

Welcome to brute forcing content, speed pulls or nothing, trash talking, and e-peen waving. And of trying to brute force content on undergeared alts.

It really did ruin that as a raid for both of us, at least for the brief period before Wrath was released. And with Wrath, the whole game changed.

I personally thought that adding both 10 and 25 person versions of all raids would make everything all better. The raiders could move on, and never want to go flood the lower level raids again. The days of e-peen waving leet raiders PUGging with strangers and being asshats were over. Why PUG when you can run with your guild in all these actual raids?

What I didn’t anticipate was the Badge/Emblem system going live with such highly desired rewards, and there being small raids like Sarth and VoA that would be so conducive to PUG farming for quick Emblems.

The model we have is still what we had at the end of Burning Crusade. High end content for raiders to focus on in their official guild scheduling, and lower end content that provides Emblems for gear that high-end raiders will still want, and that will drive them to try and PUG the “lower” difficulty content to farm Emblems fast with their OP uber-leet gear.

Raiders are not encouraged to move on to one level of content, one level of challenge, push forward together with their guild, and stay there.

With Frost Emblems from both daily Heroics and from the Weekly raid boss from lower level raids, and with Triumph Emblem gear being so good to fill in spots like Trinkets and Rings, raiders in their uber-leet gear are encouraged to go, and I hate to phrase it this way but that’s how a lot of these people act, “slumming” in the lower level content. To run content they vastly overpower, content they don’t want any gear from, and content their guild has no interest in running together as a group.

So the raiders are still encouraged by the system to PUG with strangers.

And the raiders, ever and again, seem to act like they feel that they’re running content that is beneath them, with strangers that are beneath them, and they want to get done and get out as fast as they can with their Emblems.

I will say that the only thing about the entire situation I mind, what really bothers me, is simply how it brings up-and-coming players trying to do content at the appropriate level, trying to learn how to play and learn how to deal with different mechanics, face to face with people that are vastly overgeared, have no respect for them, and teach them nothing but bad habits and how to brute force content, and who actively discourage any other way of doing things because it would take too much of the raider’s precious time to even discuss.

I am thinking about it a lot, but aside from bitching, pissing and moaning about it, I really don’t see a viable solution. Cataclysm is coming, and Blizzard really wants more players to have the opportunity to see Icecrown Citadel before it turns into what vanilla Naxx 25 did; a place that only a handful of folks got to see before an expansion made it obsolete.

Without a method that is easily understood for gathering gear upgrades that leap you past older, time consuming content, or increase how many upgrades you can get over a limited span of time, players starting now would never have a chance.

I’ve got that Marine Corps mentality that says, before you bitch about the way things are, you better have taken the time to come up with your own idea on how things could be better. If you can’t, then shut the hell up.

I have some ideas, but frankly, I don’t know if they’d fix anything without making the overall fun of the game suffer.

Where I’d lean most, is to cut off the power of Emblem gear and drops a few ranks below the top progression content. Spread out the difficulty of the progression content (and the rewards provided) so you really do have to master the one below before moving onwards and upwards.

Instead of leaving people to have to bring alts up through older content that your current progression guild doesn’t run, one solution to that would be to have drops at your current content level be Bind on Account, so that if you as a player are already playing at one level of content, you could gear up your other toons as well from that level without going backward. That way, no matter what the drop, somebody is going to want it.

And finally, when there is Emblem gear to bring players ahead past old content, release one entire range of items, one for every slot, so that people are able to get geared and not feel they have to pug in lower levels raids to fill the same three slots every other player wants as well, and fight over those handful of drops while all the armor gets sharded.  

The problem is, even with doing something like that, trying to make levels of progression feel more significant on their own and remove the urge of high end progression raiders from running with people in places they don’t want to be, it still doesn’t take into account the desire on the part of players in 10 person guilds from wanting to PUG to get their hands on 25 person content gear to make their 10 man runs easier. 

See, that’s the hard thing about trying to second guess where things are now. Where we’re at now works. There may be issues with it, but it works. Would a change cause more problems than they’d fix?

Blizzard is very smart. Cataclysm is coming, and they watch all this stuff just like we do. They play as well, and I have to imagine they’re not all high end progression raiders in tight guilds, oblivious to the feel of the game and the effects of all these Emblems and PUGs on players. 

Who knows what kind of flowcharts and graphs they have of player expectations and feedback, what Six Sigma analysis they may have made on the situation and it’s core variables, and what decisions they may have planned for addressing things without breaking them?

What I do know is that I was able to raid last night in a PUG and succeed, and there was loot handed out, and Emblems that were won, and there were many other raids going on as PUGs at the same time. There are PUGs at all levels, from ICC to Ulduar to Naxx and even to Sunwell and the Black Temple. If you want to run something, at any content level, there is an opportunity available. You may need to run a ton of Heroics to prepare, but the opportunity to see content at all levels is there just the same. And that’s the single biggest complaint people had coming out of Burning Crusade.

For me, though, it also doesn’t change the fact that even though those PUGs are there, and available, and can be fun to run, the attitude among a lot of players is still there as well. That they want something from lower level content to gear at the highest levels, and they act as though they are somehow lowering themselves, slumming, in order to get it.

Hmm. I feel like I should be standing on my lawn, waving a fist and screaming at some kids.