Archive for the 'Raiding' Category


Looks Like I’m Done Raiding

Now that the school year is in full swing, my available game time has dropped to an all time low.

Surprisingly, I found myself with a full day this Saturday with nothing to do.  I logged on and jumped into Draenor with hours of available play time.

And yet a full day of gaming later, I found that I never had any desire to queue for LFR.  I also wasn’t motivated to try and navigate the Group Finder to get into a group that might take me with no Normal Mode raid achievements.

Instead, I ran a couple of classic raids looking for pets (got none), did Brewfest on four characters to get the new Toys and Pet (got them), camped a book spawn in Dalaran to finish my Higher Learning achievement (done!), and worked on leveling another alt.

I found this thoroughly enjoyable.  I didn’t miss raiding in LFR at all.  Perhaps Normal raiding might be better, but I’m not sure its worth the effort to find a group.

Is this it?  Am I finally done with raiding for this expansion?  Forever? I’m doubtful that enough of my guildmates will return with Legion to start guild raiding again, so LFR might be my raiding option for as long as I play the game. Once I outgear the drops from there I might just be a full-time non-raider.


Is this a failure or just the path of an aging game?

MMO Champion has done some data analysis from the WoW armory and has found that upwards of 60% of all WoW players have done Highmaul at some level, whether LFR, Normal, Heroic, or Mythic.

However, only 36% have done even the first wing of Blackrock Foundry on any difficulty.  That includes LFR, which has been available since February 17th.  The later wings have been done by even fewer people.

I’ll admit, I have only done the first two wings of BRF, and only once each.

What’s the reason for this?

Is WoW hemorrhaging players the way the naysayers have claimed?  I haven’t seen recent subscriber numbers.  In my guild, a lot of our long-time players have stopped logging on.  I don’t think they have unsubbed, but I don’t see them for days at a time.  Why?  There’s nothing in the game that is holding their attention.

Guild raiding seems to be dead unless you’re in a progression guild.  It is easier to get your raiding fix through Group Finder or LFR.  Here’s the downside of that – if your raiding activities are limited to LFR and Group Finder, then you have no personal motivation to upgrade your gear.

In guild raiding, if you run into a roadblock or wipe repeatedly, then you look for ways to improve.  Everyone in the guild has to work to get better otherwise you’ll never succeed.  You grind out opportunities for upgrades, whether in LFR or crafting or the auction house, because you have to run with the same people next week.

In LFR/GroupF inder raids, if your group fails, you can always requeue and find another group.  There is no personal responsibility to gear up or even to be any good at all.

For example, I have not upgraded my crafted gear, even though I have the resources to do so.  There is no personal motivation for me to spend the resources.  LFR is easy and Group Finder is hit or miss, but a patient player can usually find a good group that will succeed.  Why should I push myself and spend gold to raise my iLvL if I am just running LFR?

Because I have no gear grind driving me, I really don’t do many of the raid-related activities in the game.  I do garrison chores and I do LFR to make progress in the legendary questline.  I do pet battles to get closer to my Level 3 Menagerie and fishing to get closer to me Level 3 Fishing Shack.  Once I finish those buildings I doubt I will pet battle or fish any more.  Then it will just be the legendary and achievements keeping my attention.

The solution to this, in my mind, is to revitalize guild raiding.  Incentivize raiding in guilds, somehow.  That, however, is unlikely to happen.  Blizzard has spent the past couple of xpacs crippling guilds in order to promote overall accessibility.  Non-progression guilds are all-but-pointless now other than social constructs.  Without guilds, we lose any personal responsibility.  Instead of increasing raid accessibility, what we are seeing is people unsubscribing and raids are going unplayed.

I’ve heard that PVP stinks right now, too.  What it seems like is that all of Blizzard’s efforts to increase accessibility of the game are falling flat once at max level.  At level 100, the game is mainly engaging for progression raiding guilds. Everyone else – casuals, pvpers, guild raiders – are getting more and more unhappy.

I’m still busy in game, but it is discouraging to log on on a weeknight and see only 2-3 guildies online.  If nothing changes, then I predict a nice spike in activity at patch 6.2, followed by a HUGE drop in players once they burn through that content.  Hopefully Blizzard will add some hook to get our attention in the near future.


Mists Raiding Recap

Amid all the talk that Blizzard is dumbing the game down, blah blah blah, I can say with certainty that raiding in Mists kicked our butts more than any raiding since Burning Crusade.

When I say that Mists raids were hard, the typical troll response I get is that my guild is “bad”.  Thing is, we’re the same people that raiding together since BC, and we weren’t bad before.

Just for comparison, here’s our raiding history.  In Burning Crusade we were just learning to raid, so we were way way behind the curve, and I didn’t include that here.  Once Wrath hit, we had a full team and were raiding right from the start.  Here’s how we did (10-man normal modes only – we never do heroic)

Wrath of the Lich King

Naxxramas:  Released October 2008, Cleared January 2009

Obsidian Sanctum:  Released  October 2008, Cleared December 2008

Eye of Eternity:  Released October 2008, Cleared March 2009

Trial of the Crusader:  Released August 2009, Cleared September 2009

Ulduar:  Released September 2009, Cleared March 2010

Icecrown Citadel:   Released December 2009, Cleared April 2010

Summary – for most of Wrath we were on schedule, finishing each tier (10-man) before the next tier was released.  We did get bogged down for a while in Ulduar – specifically on Yogg-Saron, which took us months


Bastion of Twilight:  Released December 2010 Cleared June 2011

Throne of the Four Winds:  Released December 2010, Cleared June 2011

Blackwing Descent:  Released December 2010, Cleared June 2011

Firelands:  Released June 2011, Cleared December 2011

Dragon Soul:  Released November 2011, Cleared March 2012

Summary – We were just a hair behind in this expansion.  For most raids, we cleared them up to the final boss and got stuck, then killed that boss as soon as the next tier was released and we got some gear upgrades.  We never gave up and never felt defeated.

Mists of Pandaria

Mogu’shan Vaults:  Released October 2012, Cleared February 2013

Heart of Fear:  Released October 2012, Cleared April 2013.  Stuck at Garalon for months.

Terrace of Endless Spring:  Released November 2012, Cleared April 2013

Throne of Thunder:  Released March 2013, Cleared: Never.  We got stuck on Horridon and our raiding collapsed after that.

Siege of Orgrimmar:  Released September 2013, Cleared July 2014 (flex only)

Summary – you can see how we hit a wall in this expansion.  We were way behind, never coming close to finishing a tier before the next tier was released.  We always needed LFR gear from a higher tier to clear the previous tier.

Since the raid team in Mists was essentially the same as the raid team in Wrath and Cata, it looks to me like the raids were just plain harder for us in Mists.  Either that or the particular mechanics in this expansion didn’t play to our playstyle, and we weren’t able to adjust.

I also feel like LFR hurt our raiding mojo.  Players stopped learning boss fight mechanics because in LFR you could ignore them.  There was little personal responsibility for damage avoidance and team play because LFR trained the players to overlook that.  Every time we showed up for a raid, the mechanics and roles had to be re-explained.  This was definitely laziness on the part of our players, but I put much of that on LFR.

I’m not sure if we’ll even be able to field a raid team in WoD.  Mists really left a sour taste with a lot of our players, and I would not be surprised if the “extended breaks” for some of our players at the end of Mists turned into full retirements.


Sha-Touched Weapon… good or bad?

When we got our sha-touched weapons back in Throne of Thunder, we were, of course, excited.  The 500 Agility gem made those weapons super-powerful.

That was then.  This is now.

Now I’m a little annoyed.  I mostly run LFR and Flex raids.  The daggers that drop, although a higher iLvL, are not really an upgrade over the sha-touched dagger.  That 500 agility gem is overwhelming.

For this reason, I’m still running with my dagger from the previous tier.  Its a little frustrating to keep raiding without getting upgrades for that item slot.

Looking back, I wish that the sha-touched bonus was something that could be applied to future weapons, much like the capacitive primal diamond that I have for my head slot.

Its always interesting to look back on game features that seemed good when they were new and examine how they age as the game moves on.


A return to loot distribution systems?

In Mists, (and even in Cata) my guild got away from using any loot distribution method other than /roll or need/greed.  In 10-man raids, the itemization on gear made it suitable only for two or three specific specs, and as a group of mostly friends we never had any drama.

In Warlords of Draenor, with larger raids due to flexible raid scaling there is bound to be more conflict.  Add to that thee revelation that gear will alter its stats based on the spec of the character that equips it.  That means that a single leather piece can be rolled on by ALL druid specs, ALL monk specs, and any rogues.  Depending on the secondary stats, a single plate drop could be rolled on by ALL paladin specs, ALL death knight specs, and ALL warrior specs.

Will this force us back to a loot distribution system?  I was happy to be rid of that for the past two expansions.  We used EPGP back in the day.  Might have to reconsider it.


Horridon the horrible

In MoP, each raid has had its “roadblock” boss.  Mogu’shan Vaults had Elegon.  Heart of Fear had Garalon.  Terrace… well that didn’t have anything (on normal mode, at least).

Now in Throne of Thunder we are at a dead stop on Horridon.  I feel like this isn’t even the roadblock boss for most people, but it is for us.

I have issues with this fight, and not just because its a rotten fight for rogues.  Its also an annoying fight for just general playing.

(1) Horridon has a big ass.  Seriously.  I can’t tell you how many times my view has been blocked because this huge dinosaur has charged into my screen.  I have to keep adjusting my camera view during the fight to see around it.  Very frustrating.  I ended up playing with my camera zoomed out into the sky, but I really don’t like that perspective.

(2) Targeting is awful when adds are all grouped together.  In many add-based fights, you can simply AoE down a group of adds.  In this fight, that big group of adds has one tougher one in the group that you are trying to focus.  Finding him in that pile is a terrible chore.  Yes, you can write a targeting macro, but I consider that to be an inelegant kludge solution to an encounter design problem.

(3) Frozen Orbs.  Oh, to be a ranged class that can spread out and plink away at the Frozen Warlords without standing in the midst of Frozen Orbs.  Either I’m in the melee zone, dying to Orbs or I’m out of range doing essentially nothing.  This phase stinks for rogues.

I have yet to see past the third door, so I can’t even comment on the rest of the fight.

Maybe something will suddenly click and I’ll find a secret that I’ve been missing.  Until that happens, this fight annoys me more than any other in MoP raiding so far.



My Opinion: LFR is ruining the game

What does that title mean?  Let me explain.  I’ve said this all before, but seeing GuildOx rankings really slammed the point home for me.

First – understand that I don’t consider LFR to be actual raiding.  Its more like sightseeing.  Yes, I know that LFR is tougher now than it was back in Cata.  However, the increasing Determination buff means that you can continue to screw up and you’ll eventually succeed despite yourself.  Its a nice way for everyone to see the raid encounters without being accountable for their performance.  Its a good thing.  I am not anti-LFR.  I don’t run it myself, but I don’t hate it.  Its an aspect of the game that is available if you want it.


I recently went on GuildOx to see how my guild stacked up against other guilds on my realm.  I was surprised to see that, on Sen’jin which is by no means a dead realm, only 20 or so guilds have completed Tier 14 raids on normal mode.  In fact, my guild *just* killed Amber-Shaper Unsok this week on 10 normal, and we are only the 25th guild on the server to do so.

I’m not even looking at heroic modes.  Just normal.  If you have cleared T14 on normal and done the first boss in T15, then you’re a top twenty guild on my server.


What does this tell me?  It tells me that guilds (at least on my realm) aren’t really doing progression raids anymore.  Since raiding is such a large part of the game, I can’t imagine that people aren’t raiding.  The obvious conclusion is that people are getting their raiding fix through LFR, and not so much in guild raids.

I have a problem with this.

In my personal vision of WoW, guilds and interpersonal interaction are the heart and soul of the game.  The need for cooperation to overcome obstacles is what the original raid encounters were built on.  Communication, people doing their job, everyone having a role… these were the skills that set the foundation for the more fun and challenging raid bosses.  LFR doesn’t have much or any of that.

I really, really don’t like this model.  Yes, LFR gets people into raiding, and that is a good thing.  But its being used as an expected part of the gearing path.  People run Thone of Thunder (LFR) in order to gear up for Throne of Thunder (normal).  What is this nonsense?  Run a raid to gear for the same raid?  How is this different than the ToC days in Wrath, when you ran 10 man to gear up for 25 man?

There isn’t even any sense of anticipation or buildup.  A new patch comes out with a new raid.  A week later it opens up on LFR.  Then… Boom!  In a couple of hours of pugging you have cleared the newly available raid content.  It trivializes the time and effort of raid design.

For me (and this is just my approach) I am looking forward to seeing Throne of Thunder.  I’m looking forward to figuring out the encounters one by one and progressing through it.  I’m looking forward to hearing the vocalizations of the bosses and getting to know their story and their personality.  I’ll see it when I get to it, after my guild clears tier 14.  All of that anticipation is lost in LFR raiding.

WoW is a great MMO.  WoW is a mediocre single-player game, and LFR has allowed it to drift into that mode.  LFR as a way into raiding is fine.  LFR as a true alternative to guild raiding is not in the best interests of the game, in my opinion.

(What?  You don’t care about the story and anticipation of raids?  You only care about gear?  This isn’t the blog post you’re looking for.  Move along.  Move along.)


Classic WoW:
Dinaer - 11 Assassination Rogue
Cepheid - 13 Prot Warrior
Cartho - 11 Elemental Shaman

Retail WoW:
Dinaer - 120 Assassination Rogue (US - Sen'Jin)
Cartho - 120 Elemental Shaman (US - Quel-dorei)
Derence - 120 Prot/Ret Paladin (US - Sen'Jin)
Metius - 120 Shadow Priest (US - Sen'Jin)
Liebnitz - 120 Arcane Mage (US - Sen'Jin)
Darishin - 120 Resto/Balance Druid (US - Sen'Jin)
Fastad - 90 Subtlety Rogue (US - Sen'Jin)
February 2020
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