There are two big debates going on right now in all of the WoW-related forums. One is about the merit of attunement quests, and the other is about the pattern of gradually nerfing raids. Today I’ll give my take on attunements, and my next post will be about raid nerfs.
As someone who has played since vanilla, I’ve lived through the ups and downs of attunements. I didn’t raid in vanilla, but I did go through the attunement for Molten Core. In Burning Crusade, I did the attunement quest chain for Karazhan since we actively raided there. Later, I did the attunment chain for Tempest Keep and Serpentshrine Cavern, but I did them primarily to get the Champion of the Naaru title, not to do the raids. (In fact, as I remember it I completed the attunements the last week before they removed the ability to get the title pre-WotLK)
To get attuned for Karazhan was relatively painless, but time consuming. It involved running nine instances after you had hit the level cap. This had good and bad implications.
- The good: you learned the story behind the raid. The quest chain told you through the backstory of Karazhan, which made the raid itself more interesting.
- The bad: it slowed everyone down. If you leveled a toon, then once you hit the level cap you had to get guildies (pug groups were hard to put together back then) to do nine instance runs with you before you were able to do the first raid tier of the expansion. It took a week, if you were lucky and put a burden on everyone in the guild to run content that had no reward for them.
I think that the LFG system in place today would make this method much more palatable, however, in the current setup it is someone useless. Blizzard doesn’t need to force players to run instances. In Cataclysm, with the LFG system in full force and gear level requirements, everyone will run heroics for JP or VP gear before they start raiding. There is no need to put an attunement quest chain in place because people are going to run the instances anyway!
This is where the real debate is happening. To get attuned for Tempest Keep and Serpentshrine Caverns (tier 5), you had to run the raids from the previous tier (Gruul, Magtheridon, and Karazhan). Then to get attuned for Mount Hyjal and Black Temple (tier 6) you had to run SSC and TK.
That means that a player who just hits the level cap HAD to run all of the tiers (Kara, Gruul, Magtheridon, SSC, and TK) to get to the highest raid tier. There is no skipping a tier.
One side of this debate says, “That is good! It gets the players raiding experience before they get to the harder tiers!” However, its more complicated than that. Think of your recent guild raids. While you were running Dragon Soul, how often would your guild go back and run Blackwing Descent? How about Baradin Hold? Throne of the Four Winds? Probably never. Would you want to?
In reality, here is what happened in Burning Crusade. Guilds became farm systems. I know because my guild was on the low-end of the system, and I remember it well.
The high-end guilds would advance to the most current level of raid content. If you wanted to join one of those guilds, they insisted that you should already be attuned because they didn’t want to run old content. That meant that you had to join a guild that was still running old content.
Players would join my guild while we were running the Gruul/Magtheridon tier. Once we were able to clear those raids, some players would leave our guild to jump to a guild that was in the SSC/TK tier. Once the players had cleared those, they would try to jump to a top guild in BT/MH.
At this point, some would ask, “But why didn’t your guild just keep progressing past that tier so you could get to the higher tiers?” Its hard to do that when you keep losing players. And every time we lost players, in order to replace them we had to go back and run old content to attune them. It was a terrible cycle and actually prohibited progression for all but the top guilds.
And that is why that attunement style cannot be brought back. It created a nearly unbreakable caste system in the game. (of course, the elitists want exactly that, which is why they argue so strongly for attunements)
There is probably a middle ground to this, but with the LFG making heroics and JP/VP gear so accessible and all but required prior to raiding, I think its not needed. The devs should be able to wrap the backstory up in the heroic instances and it would accomplish most of what an attunement chain could do. I’d suggest to add maybe one or two solo pre-quests before the heroics as a story hook, because once you’re in the heroics the go-go-go crowd can make it hard to stop and read quest text.