Raiding has become way too complicated

Old SChool Onyxia Raid

Running older WoW raids for transmogs these past few days has reminded me about how raiding has changed so much over the years. Raiding back in the days of Molten Core was so much simpler.

Molten Core fights were almost entirely gear checks and “can you perform this one simple mechanic” checks. For example, the very first MC boss simply required your healers to decurse. The second boss required nothing more than coordinated timing.

I enjoy the simplicity of old school Onyxia. She breathes fire like any dragon would, so avoid her face. Her tail is huge and can whip you, so avoid her tail. Attack where the dragon is weak behind her flanks. AOE whelp adds.

Modern raid are so beyond convoluted by comparison. We’re dancing around the room, juggling adds, dodging aoe attacks, standing in stuff that looks bad but is actually good if the boss is doing x y or z.

While the mechanics are more interesting in some aspects, the complexity has eclipsed the purity of the encounter. We no longer fight characteristics, we fight abilities. I miss looking at a boss. I feel like I stare at the floor or wherever it is I’m supposed to look to wait for some predetermined ability to dictate my actions.

Just the musings of an old school raider. But hey, I actually like tank and spank gear checks. I’m weird like that.

“I haven’t seen that in a decade…”

Had an interesting experience in EverQuest last night. I was healing the Unrest Fireplace on my Halfling Cleric and everything was going as you might expect. We had two rangers, a rogue, a mage, a shaman and me. Obviously with no tank things can get dicey, but being EverQuest people are typically a little more careful. Bad pulls still happen like the one we had last night. Puller brought in way too many ghouls and skeletons from the top floor and we ended being being rooted all over the place with no CC.

I found myself having to take a few hits, which is typically not a problem for a plate-wearing healer, but it can only last so long. I noticed the tank (the ranger with better gear) was rooted, so I ran over to him for him to be able to peel the mobs off me. He did, we lived, and all was well. I then received quite a shock: The tank was praising me for how well the fight went saying he hasn’t seen a healer run to the tank for over 10 years, and how I managed to maintain my mana pool with no gear (my cleric’s gear sucks) was a shock to him. I received a few other praises and we continued on for a few more hours.

Nothing I did was particularly worthy of praise. I used the right heals on the right people at the right time. I knew the mobs and what they were capable of, so I wasn’t healing people who had a mob I knew they could tank on them while someone else was risking death. I moved where I needed to be to let the classes do their job. I played correctly.

Their reaction stuck with me. I think they reacted the way they did because people, for the most part, aren’t used to games where people need to think. Modern games tell us where to move (out of the red circles) and UI mods tell us what to heal — or we have infinite mana and just mass heal everyone. Most groups in most games can just AOE everything down and death is unheard of while leveling up.

Playing my class well mattered last night. I liked that feeling. The praise was nice too, but it was knowing I was good at what I did and that very fact influenced what we were capable of doing as a team. I’d like to see that matter more these days.

TimeWalking Dungeons & Getting Loot Easier

WotLK Timewalking

I decided to take a break from the sea of endless quests in Nagrand to start running some dungeons. Amid the streamlining of this and that, and the confusing design elements which I’m pretty sure have even Blizzard confused right now, I see some things they’ve done that I really like.

I participated in this whole Time Walking event dealy they got going on every so often where you can queue for dungeons from past expansions but they drop loot that’s good for your characters today (iLvl 630’ish?). This time it’s Wrath of the Lich King. WotLK was the best expansion in WoW’s history for many reasons. I think they even had the most subscribers during those days so I bet I’m not alone in that opinion. The dungeons in WotLK are really, really good. For whatever reason, I’ve never been able to run dungeons ad nauseam quite like I can those WotLK.

Well I ran three of them last night in my 1.5 hours of play and I was able to upgrade 4 items right from dungeons. I started earning these tokens–I can’t even remember the name because WoW has so many stupid currencies–which turns out I can spend on even better gear than drops in the dungeon. Sure enough, I upgraded 6 items last night and skyrocketed my character’s potential. I’m now able to do half of the available raids in the raid finder and will start queueing for those here soon. Remember, my goal is only to see all of the content in WoD before Legion comes out.

Not only have they made old fun dungeons relevant and worth running again, but they’ve made getting gear for someone in my situation a lot easier. Those are both plusses. I’d like to see dungeons provide more opportunities for people to get gear more easily. Not only that, I’d like to see opportunities to get the gear I want more easily. But I’m also in the group that wants raids to be more about story and seeing the content rather than the challenge of grinding it out.

Early Thoughts on my Return to WoW

Yeah, I returned to WoW. I’ve put in a few hours casually over the last 4 days and have to say I’m starting to really, really enjoy the leveling experience in Warlords of Draenor. In fact, so much so that I am regretting having not played from the beginning. Technically it would have never worked given I was busy getting married, etc., but there is definitely a twinge of “Ugh I missed out on this in its heyday.”

This post is simply going to serve as a place to dump a few quick thoughts on my experience thus far, and maybe even get a little bit of your feedback and help on some questions.

I decided to roll up a Hunter. I plan to convert him to a melee spec Hunter when Legion launches. I’m enjoying how Hunters have changed since I played one as my Main from Vanilla through WotLK.  Any advice on a particular pet?

Khadgar has Atiesh, Greatstaff of the Guardian

Why does Khadgar have Atiesh, Greatstaff of the Guardian?

Lore

I love the emphasis on lore and story. Right from the get-go we meet Khadgar and Durotan and really big players. So much early RTS lore being thrown at me. However, I’m sorta confused. So uh.. where’d Khadgar come from? Wasn’t he in Outland in Shattrath? And why does he have Atiesh, Greatstaff of the Guardian?! Isn’t that Medivh’s staff?

WoW Garrison

Having a useful, functional place to upgrade and work on is a welcome change of scenery

Garrisons

The Garrison system is fantastic. I think adding a place to call “home” is definitely a much needed change of pace from everyone roaming around a capital city. The feigned sense of social contact in WoW was off-putting. We were never there to chat. At best it made for inspecting people and suffering from gear envy. Having a practical and useful place that generates items, income, and something to do — a reason to log in that isn’t the same kind of daily quest — is welcome.

Atmosphere & Quests

The zones themselves seem much grander than typical WoW expansions. MoP was so bland and the lore and atmosphere stank in comparison. I really feel a sense of “Warcraft” here.

Quests in Frostfire Ridge were quite good. I like the emphasis on cinematic and leading me around via story. On the main map there is a Story Progress indicator which is nice to see how far I should be progressing through a zone. Thus far, the story has taken me to all of the outposts and I feel like I finished everything I wanted to do in Frostfire Ridge by the time the story took me to the next zone.

[Spoiler ahead] When Ga’arn told his brother the tribe needed their Warchief and Durotan’s eyes widened… then Ga’arn sacrificed himself and yelled “LOK’TAR!!” I had the best nerdy goosebumps and was on the verge of getting emotional. Whew… starting to feel it again… okay, moving on.

Questing itself is definitely not bad. Yeah, it’s the same old stuff but man when you go to other games and do their quests and you come back to WoW it’s like a warm chocolate chip cookie giving you a hug. As far as themeparks go, WoW is king and no one else should even try.

WoW Rare mob spawns

Gathering treasures and hunting “rare” mobs adds fun

Treasure and Rares

One of my absolute favorite additions are the treasures and rare mobs/items around the map. I LOVE the exploration element that exists even when I cheat with this UI mod that shows me where everything is located. Personally, seeing these rares on the map is even more push for me to go out of my comfort zone. I also like how they can require a little effort and acrobatics.

Gear Upgrades

REALLY cool feature I just discovered is random gear upgrades. I got a quest reward that I swear went from a green to an epic. I now have like 5 epics that are way better than the quest reward was going to be. Such a neat dynamic element to a very stale questing model.

Gorgrond

I’m excited to see what adventures the next zone brings

I’m just now entering the second zone: Gorgrond. Setting up my outposts was yet another “cool, that’s neat,” moment. Those moments will keep me engaged and wanting to continue logging in to level.

Bring the Player Not the Class

For a while, Blizzard followed a “bring the player not the class” mantra… or tried. Now whether or not they actually stick to this isn’t really what I want to debate. My big question here is why can’t it be both? Why can’t we look to the person who plays their class best AND plays a class that brings something interesting, unique, and needed to a group or raid?

I believe that every class should offer something useful and be so different from the other classes that you can’t so easily bring one over the other. I want to make a distinction here that I’m not saying every class should be mandatory. I’m saying that no class should be at a distinct advantage, and no class should be unwanted. If two DPS classes are both LFG, one should not be at a disadvantage because their DPS is inherently inferior and they offer nothing else to a group but their raw damage output.

Similarly, I don’t think that every class should be an easy ‘push a button and win’ combination. If Rogues are the “best melee DPS”, not every Rogue should be the top DPS. If Clerics offer the best direct heals, not every Cleric should immediately be the best healer just because they play a Cleric.

And lastly, no one class should be able to do everything.  Duh [At least you’d think so.]  Homogenization is a detriment to fun.

TLDR: Balance the classes, please. And while you’re at it let truly skilled players stand out above the rest. Bring the player, AND bring the class, for the RIGHT reasons.