Instancing issues

Hi folks!

I’ve just got a couple scattered observations from running the new 5 person instances. I’m sure they’ve been brought up before, but it’s stuff I find interesting, and after yesterdays “Omigod it’s all rainbows and unicorns” post, I thought some balance was needed around the joint.

Aren’t we all Heroic and stuff

The first thing I noticed that surprised me was what was missing, and wondering what it meant for the direction we’re going for the long term.

A few comparisons.

When Burning Crusade came out, we had 5 person instances, with both Normal (leveling ) and Heroic (max level only) modes.

Later on, a new content patch brought us a single new 5 person instance, Magister’s Terrace, in Normal and Heroic that had a story that tied into the new Sunwell raid.

When Wrath of the Lich King came out, we again had 5 person instances in both Normal and Heroic versions.

We got a middle content patch with a new raid, and a new 5 person instance with Normal and Heroic modes for the Argent Tournament.

Later on, a new content patch brought the Lich King raid in Icecrown Citadel. Instead of having one new instance, however, this time we had three, one each in both Normal and Heroic modes, to be done sequentially, and with a quest chain delving deeper into the storyline leading up to the new ICC raid.

After what had come before, the new three instance chain-quest concept was met with much approval, gushing, and raindbows coming out our butts.

Blizzard presumably took note of the gushing, and got the idea that we might have been pleased.

Now we fast forward to Cataclysm.

Again, we had an initial release of 5 person instances in Cataclysm, with both Normal and Heroic modes. Additionally, there were two 5 person instances that were Heroic only, old low level instances that were revamped into new, level 85 versions, the Shadowfang Keep and Deadmines.

We heard there would be old content brought to new life, and were overjoyed. Heroic only? Strange, but since it was very old and familiar content, it made some sense that we wouldn’t need to see it again while leveling. It would be a nice treat for hitting 85.

What has happened since then is that all the new 5 person instance content continues to be released in Heroic version only, no Normal modes.

With the Troll dungeons, Zul’Aman and Zul’Gurub, I think people were disappointed but understanding. I mean heck, they were originally 10 person raids that were retrofitted as 5 person instances.

The feeling on my part was, it’s hard enough to take content tuned for 10 people and fit it into a 5 person group of higher level. This is old content that most people are already familiar with (most, not all), so we’re getting a taste of it for nostalgia. To also make a second, slightly easier version in 5 person Normal mode as well and have players be in the old content just that much longer? A bit too much.

I figured that making those two be the only two that you had to chain run to max Valor was just a misstep, a poorly-thought out idea that wasn’t well conceived.

After all, nostalgia only goes so far, and for people that had run them a lot in Vanilla and in BC, those weren’t exactly fan favorites begging for a re-release.

Now, a 5 person Karazhan Heroic? With instanced wings to break it into bite-sized chunks? I think that would have had more legs to it than the Trolls.

Still, my point is, it was understandable to have the two Trolls released as Heroic-only. Disappointing, but understandable.

But now here we are with a new release of three more 5 person instances, again meant to be done sequentially, again with a quest chain threading through them, and again designed as an outstanding story introduction for the new Deathwing raid.

But, following the brand new tradition of Cataclysm instances, the new instances have no Normal mode.

So, is this the new design intent? To provide an initial release of Normal instances, for leveling through while questing, but release additional group content that is ONLY intended for max level raid/Justive point geared players?

On the one hand, so far I am very happy with how the new 5 person content is tuned. It is extremely fun, and if this is an example of content that doesn’t suffer from a split focus, then good.

On the other hand, all of the characters I’ve got capable of running the content are at the “raid and JP gear” level, at least iLevel 365 average. All of them have gone through all of the Firelands daily quests and obtained the iLevel 365 upgrades from the vendors, have JP tier pieces, etc. Raid drops and crafted.

Is it a fair assessment of the content if all the characters I have doing it are very well geared?

I’ve got two characters that are just now entering the final leveling curve before 80 instances. My Priest is level 80, and my Paladin tank is level 72 or so. Both are staring the Cataclysm leveling dead in the eye, and having a drought of ANYTHING new to do prior to level 85 endgame, and even then nothing new accessible until doing the entire month-long Firelands dailies (again) and chain running standard Heroics long enough to qualify by iLevel for the new stuff… crap!

Crappity crap crap.

Not looking forward to it.

There is a lot of new stuff in this patch, and it’s great. Heck, I haven’t even had the chance to spend any time at all at the Darkmoon Faire!

But again, it sure would’ve been nice if there was something added, a normal mode something on the new things, or even better, a new quest area inserted somewhere into the 80 – 85 range to break it up a bit.

You may say, “What do you think Blizzard does, make new content all day long?” My answer is, if everything released is always aimed at max level, then you’re telling us that the massive bulk of the game, the 1 -84 range, is irrelevant. In which case, eliminate it and let us make characters that are already 85. Does anyone really enjoy leveling with the exact same Northrend and Cataclysm quest content?

Does anyone look forward to playing a Pandaren from 20 to 85 when MoP comes out? In the exact same Outlands, northrend and Catalcysm content? Again?


The level 1 to 60 revamp for Cataclysm added a LOT of replay to the game. Hitting Outlands, Northrend and even Cataclysm zones after that is kinda like taking a crushing blow to the nuts.

I’m not saying do that same kinda massive revamp each time. I am saying, aiming to add one additional quest zone(or a half-sized zone) intended for leveling through somewhere in the game for each content patch would have a massive impact on replayability and adding choice to leveling options.

Or, maybe you think I’m insane.

Tactical Variation

The other thing I’ve been noticing is the way the encounters are being laid out such as to limit tactical choice.

For all you tanks out there, answer me this;

Can you name one boss fight in the new instances where it is possible to perform a Line of Sight pull?

Not necessary, but possible.

Even in the early stage of Well of Eternity, with it’s pillar placement, it doesn’t really lend itself to being able to Line of Sight pull, because of, you know, thousands of demons in the area.

I’m not complaining, I’m just noticing. When these new instances were designed, the requirements placed on tanks to use terrain in an innovative way were minimized. The encounters were streamlined to run in, fight, don’t stand in stuff or get out of the way of stuff or kill stuff in this order or interrupt stuff.

I think the reason is the LFD, and the ‘go go go’ mentality. I think it’s the attitude that pulling for the tank if he takes ‘too long’ is not just okay but normal.

Because the encounters are streamlined, they are easier to grasp the concept the first time or two through, and because they are designed for face pulling, there is nothing to cause you to stop and do something that takes a second of preparation first. So, you just run straight in and there is less likelihood of people pulling for you before you get your nice LOS tug off or whatever.

Has anyone else noticed other cases where the new design of encounters has seemingly taken into account things that were frustrating for you when playing with strangers, and eliminated them?

There is clearly a lot of careful thought going into this content, not just in making them interesting and fun and exciting, and full of lore and story and goosebump moments, but also in trying to anticipate and remove irritations from LFD.

I’m kinda curious what else you folks have seen along the same lines.

10 thoughts on “Instancing issues

  1. I’ve got two characters that are just now entering the final leveling curve before 80 instances. My Priest is level 80, and my Paladin tank is level 72 or so. Both are staring the Cataclysm leveling dead in the eye, and having a drought of ANYTHING new to do prior to level 85 endgame, and even then nothing new accessible until doing the entire month-long Firelands dailies (again) and chain running standard Heroics long enough to qualify by iLevel for the new stuff… crap!

    Crappity crap crap.

    Seriously? Firelands dailies would only be useful for killing time, but not much else. Getting to 353 shouldn’t be that hard. With all of the 378 Justice Gear, 365 crafted weapons (and cheap Chaos Orbs to craft them), 359 rep and crafted gear it shouldn’t be that hard. Slap on a couple pieces of 377 starter PVP gear, you are all set. Going from fresh 80 to LK heroics took a little effort. I think today, its even smoother.


  2. IMO – the original idea of making the Cataclysm content “harder” to have players use CC, different tactics, etc will be completely abandoned. I would be very surprised if MoP wasn’t pretty darn close to WotLK as far as how the 5 mans and raids go (excepting Ulduar). I think Blizz will say that Tier 11 and 12 were not as successful as they wished, and will see larger successes with Tier 13 due largely to reduced difficulty via LFR.

    In other words, fewer (if any) Zulroics/Ulduar and more content similar to what is available with 4.3.

    Mostly responding to Thelandira – I agree with about 1/2 and disagree with about 1/2.
    I agree that the Transmog/Void Storage, Darkmoon Faire, etc are things largely overlooked by most players in the area of “something ELSE to do @ max level other than raiding”. Although it’s not something that really interests me (I’m a dungeon crawler at heart), I recognize that these are things that non-runners can do in the game. I think the fact that they don’t give superior (or any) phat loots is the reason they are largely ignored.

    LFR tool … in my eyes it’s something else for max level players to do to both help them prepare for the “real end game raid”
    I have to wholeheartedly disagree with this. Being a player that first did some (3) of the bosses on normal mode, then doing them in the LFR, I can say that the LFR absolutely does not prepare you for doing the exact same content in normal mode. There are many mechanics in normal mode that are either not present, or EXTREMEMELY toned down in the LFR version. A group using the same tactics in normal mode that they did in the LFR will very likely be unpleasently surprised when they wipe for no apparent reason. It would have been OK to simply tone down some mechanics, but to remove some entirely I think is robbing LFR players from a good raid experience.

    [regarding LFR]… as well as something to do for those that are not really raiders per se but want something to do/see on their time schedule.
    I don’t understand this at all, being as the LFR has the exact same scheduling requirements as normal mode raids. It would even be argued that LFR requires possibly more time commitment if you consider that a guild that works together often can finish the instance in less time than a PUG typcially can (even accounting for the reduced difficulty).

    (this next part isn’t directly toward Thelandira)
    Regarding LoS pulls, there’s a difference between “able to do” and “typcially do”. Most pulls isn’t not needed mostly due to the design of the instance and/or the encounter, but there are certainly a ton of possibilities in many of the dungeons. There are some encounters where the groups I was in – it was the prefered way of doing the encounter (e.g. Geddon and Shazrah in MC). I don’t want to fill this up with a wall of text of various pulls that have the ability to be LoS pulled, suffice to say I can think of at least a handful in most instances from MC to ICC. I only come up short when thinking of Cataclysm content. Although to be fair, I did take a break from the game and pretty much skipped Tier 11 content entirely.


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  4. I can understand the logic behind Blizz’s decision for heroic only dungeons this late in the game, I believe. If they were to institute a normal mode dungeon this late in the game then they would have to up the iLVL dropped in those dungeons (presumably). So you would have original regs dropping 333’s, original heroics dropping 346 and the new regs dropping 358 (or something) and the new heroics dropping 378.

    That’s my take on it, anyway. just a guess.


  5. Disclaimer incoming:

    I’ve been awake for 15 minutes, finished my first cigarette but only part of my coffee. I have two initial thoughts on your topic and will try to explain them out the best I can:

    My first thought is that it appears that Blizz is trying to do their part at the whole “What else do we do at level 85 other than raid?” qq’n scenarios. Would it have been nice to have the Zulroics and new 5 mans in normal mode like Mag Terr and ICC 5 mans? Of course it would have. But, looking back, when Mag Terr was released the only other things released with it was Sunwell and the whole “Help build us up” phasing thing that was the Isle of Quel’danas….which actually was “Help build us up and “then” you can see Mag Terr & Sunwell”. With LK it was “Ok, follow us along the story and run these shiny new ICC 5 mans and “then” you can go see the big bad that is LK in the ICC raid”. For the life of me I can’t remember/think of what was released when the Zulroics were released…but ya….the Zulorics could have been done with a little more thought. Now, look at what we have here in front of us:

    1.) Transmogrification – though it may not be the “thing to do” for everyone, it does give max level players (and lower level players as well) something to do other than raid/JP & VP grind. It brings MANY players into old content (maybe even some for the first time) to acquire moggin’ gear. And, from what I have read, has been asked for for years.

    2.) Void Storage – although I have yet to really utilize this feature, it was implemented for many that wanted/needed the extra storage space for old stuff. And more storage is something that is ALWAYS asked for.

    3.) Darkmoon Faire Island – a HUGE revamp of the faire with it’s own island and mini-games. Not necessarily “needed” but a wonderful thing none the less. (You really should take the time and check it out. It is lots of fun and very well done…hey…that rhymed…giggle)

    4.) LFR tool – again, not necessarily needed (was it even asked for? I dunno), but in my eyes it’s something else for max level players to do to both help them prepare for the “real end game raid” as well as something to do for those that are not really raiders per se but want something to do/see on their time schedule.

    5.) three shiny, new 5 mans – albeit they are heroic mode only, they get us out of those damn Zulroics. YAY!!!!!!!!!! (for me personally, I’d have been happy if this was all Blizz released this patch…anything to get away from the Zulroics in my eyes is just BRILLIANT! lol)

    My whole point to this is that maybe Blizz had a little too much on their plate, compared to when Mag Terr & the ICC 5 mans were released, to be able to give us the new 5 mans in reg mode like Mag Terr & the ICC 5 mans were. To implement the new 5 mans into reg mode as well might have pushed back the patch a bit.

    My second thought is on your question of “Can you name one boss fight in the new instances where it is possible to perform a Line of Sight pull?” Ummm….I can’t really think of many bosses where this is possible, both new and old alike. Off the top of my head, which is still a little fuzzy…coffee is only about half empty now, I can only think of two bosses that you can LoS in all dungeons that are in the game. There is the second boss in Shadowfang Keep (can’t think of his name). For quite a while he was either LoS’d out into the hall to help funnel his adds…or he was kited all the way past the dining hall & kitchen and into the large courtyard to keep the adds from spawning. The only other boss I can think of is the first boss in AK:Old Kingdom. He can be LoS’d out of his room and into either room to the left or right, depending on which side you cleared up to him….although I’ve never seen him LoS’d into either area and not sure if it would have made the fight easier or not. Other than those two, I can’t think of any other bosses that can be LoS’d…both in all dungeons and in all raids. As far as I know all dungeon & raid bosses are “run right in and smack me in the face please”. Oh, there’s the boss in Deadmines (can’t think of his name) in the goblin machine part/forge thingie area that is usually LoS’d/kited up the ramp.

    Now the trash, on the other hand, in almost all dungeons and raids is a mix of “LoS me please” and “smack me in the face here please”. I’ve not run the new 5 mans enough to be able to say whether any of the trash is LoS-able. But with pretty much all of them being CC-able in one way or another makes up for that…I guess.

    My point is, mostly all bosses in dungeons and raids are “smack me please” fights where the tank has had no reason to LoS them. They are all pretty much “fight me here and stay out of any goop I throw your way”. Would it be nice to have had more variety? Of course. But, as far as I can remember, Blizz has rarely ever designed boss encounters where LoS’n the boss was needed. Hell, many of the boss encounters lock you in the same room and you couldn’t LoS them if you tried.

    What I would like to see changed up a bit is the trash. It has always baffled me that some of the trash encounters, in all the dungeons and raids, are sometimes harder to fight than some of the bosses are. I am almost positive that throughout my 5 years of playing I have died to trash more than I have to bosses….which to me makes no sense. The bosses are the “big bads” of the place…but yet their minions have more pieces of my butt cheeks in their teeth than they do. Go figure.


  6. I don’t think normal versions of the dungeons would get enough play to warrant the time to retune them. I know I only ever ran the ICC dungeons once each on normal before moving to the heroic versions. I didn’t even notice that the trolls were heroic only. Given that you are getting both VP and JP from running the initial cata heroics, and plenty of 359/365/378 gear is available fairly cheap on the AH, I don’t really think there’s that much farming of initial heroics needed to get to the point where you are ready for the new heroics, and then fairly shortly after that LFR if that appeals.
    I suspect the 80-85 levelling stretch seems the most stale since it is likely the zones that have been run the most, most recently. I am happily levelling my bear (62) through BC dungeons at the moment, but dreading the big slowdown when I get to 80. I’m not sure more levelling content would help, and I would rather have a 4.4 mini-patch with some additional endgame content before Pandaria (assuming it doesn’t release until late summer).


    • well, at this point I’d say we are all hoping and praying that the wonderful bounty of content we have right now will be buttressed with more of the same before Pandaria.

      This is great and all, but if it is really all there is, it’s gonna get ugly.

      I’m trying to think, though… there is a precedent for there being at least new content ‘dump’ after a major boss kill raid but before the new expansion.

      Burning Crusade, we killed Illidan in Black Temple, then they released Sunwell. Do I remember that right? And we had the undead event prelude to Wrath.

      In Wrath, we killed the lich King, and there was the cataclysm prelude event with the whole Twilight swtuff in our capitals and stuffs.

      So, maybe there will be progressive intro to pandaria stuff. Maybe it will be a real big deal, since we’re mving from having a ‘big bad’ of the epxnasion to a renewal of war hostilities.

      Maybe the new content we’ll see is the sacking of Jaina’s proud island of Theramore, and taking part in an actual buildup to war. I mean, taking actual part, not just ffive quests and a couple dailies with three new NPCs.


  7. I understand what you are saying here and agree for the most part. I think what we are seeing here is the new paradigm that is going to be completely introduced in Mists of Pandaria. Normal Leveling Dungeons + Scenarios -> Max Level Scenarios -> Heroic Dungeons -> Challenge Mode & Raids


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