Head Down Bump Up

I’m DHBU at the moment covering for one of my PMs who is on two weeks leave, and my wife started working again this week, and all sorts of real life junk…which gets in the way of a good gaming session.

In Warcraft the absolute highlight of the month so far was last night getting a new sword upgrade (finally) from Elegon, which replaced my crappy item level 463 weapon – Starshatter. It’s a great looking toy. It might get transmogged to an older style Death Knight weapon soon, as they look even better.

Screenshots and happy rants will follow soon, for now though – I’m a happy lad.

I cannot help but love an almost 1200 raw dps upgrade, plus the additional stats.


Happy Killing.

dps rankings for pve raiding

Saw the wowinsider post about dps performance in raids, 10 man through LFR to 25 man Heroic. The disparity (based upon raidbot) between Unholy vs Frost Death Knights is wider than I thought, especially when you show the data given an average, and the Unholy is below average; approx 10-20% difference based upon ideal scenarios, depending on what style of raid you are playing in. Bugger.

Nobody likes being below average. 🙂 I’ll have to rectify my spec choice asap. 10% might translate doing ~12.5% of the dps in a fight into ~13%, which could also be considered a slightly faster transition between boss phases in most fights. That is a key factor in killing bosses successfully!

What is disparaging is that some classes-specs are not suffering a 10% gap, they’re in the 22-35% below average range! Some BM Hunter, Frost mages, and one Rogue spec are horrid, and Monks are not far behind them. By comparison a DK being 10% shy of average is doing OK. Now in contrast Rogues and Mages have a spec each that can do well, so all is not lost. Afflic Warlocks, Fire Mages and Shadow Priests should be lighting up the dps charts.

What should this type of information lead to?

Perhaps it should create awareness of the potential to improve by switching play styles amongst characters, and it should certainly serve as some guide for who to take to a raid. Taking a Mage who is not spec’ed into Fire is not doing the raid any favours (that is not to say don’t bring the player, et al – just be aware).

It should not be taken as an excuse to whine about balance and favoritism, there is enough of that already. As always theory crafting, especially via graphs should always be taken with a grain of salt. Happy killing.

Flowchart – Are you a Raider?

Those who raid seriously are sometimes a little extreme in views, and those who don’t raid with passion can sometimes not understand the devotion and effort it takes. Thus I seek to insult a wide cross-section of the community with the “Are you a Raider?” flowchart.

TLDR = many hoops to jump through, not enough bullets

Its been done before, likely better elsewhere too. However this post was written more as therapy for me in terms of dealing with that last decision point before the final answer, than actually seeking to be innovative or compassionate when thinking about raids. If you take a look you’ll see that the criteria I’ve suggested are really very open and far “less strict” than many raiding guilds. That’s just my 2c perspective.

I get miffed when a player has a sense of entitlement beyond the rules well established and what is reasonable – so I wasted a few minutes of therapy crafting this sheet so I can always keep myself in check when it comes to getting raid ready, and then staying raid ready.

Some days I’m not a raider by this measure, and that can be OK in isolation. It’s not OK when it’s to the detriment of others. eg. I’m still using Unholy for Death Knight dps when Frost 2H or dual wield is technically higher. My reason is that I grok Unholy far more, and the difference is slight. That said, I’m switching within a week or so, or overnight if I get another 1-handed weapon of item level 463. Excuses, excuses.

This post was just going to be a pic of the flowchart, but I’m mid-rant now so here is some other stuff I left out:

  • An alt spec geared up as well as main spec. You’re not “geared” until you have two viable roles, or two modes for the pure dps classes who sometimes suffer due to spec choice.
  • Actually understanding why your stats of priority are the way they are, and what your soft caps and hard caps are. This includes making an intelligent and defensible choice when it comes to things like Mitigation vs Avoidance for tanks, etc.
  • Turn up on time, and take your bio breaks when everyone else does.
  • Raid awareness and no fire standing (google them, its faster)
  • Do research. Be willing to use improvement advice websites like Mr Robot or others.
  • Be humble about being right.
  • Don’t be a greedy gear hound.

In our guild only the Raid Leader gets to hop from the first box to the last box, and that person would get vilified socially if they skipped over any checklists anyway.

Happy raiding.

..bugs, bugs, more bugs come to us

My first guild raid and a boss kill

Insidious first kill of the Four Kings in Mogu'shan Vaults

Sunday I joined the Insidious regulars for a set of attempts on the Four Kings encounter (aka Spirit Kings) in Mogu’shan vaults, and we killed him. Yup, that’s me in the middle of the screen doing a Guild first boss kill.

Now to be humble, I have no idea of actually how I performed other than to say I stayed alive and didn’t wipe us, and the World of Logs might show me running in fire for all I can tell – but the four stinky old spirits were vanquished successfully.

I am darn excited to have done it.

LFR Gearing Hyperboost in Mogu’shun Vaults

After getting to the right ilevel I joined an LFR run of Mogu’shun Vaults. It was interesting. I saw a few bosses, but due to the reset I was unable to see a complete run. That said, I gained 2x epic items (raid finder 476s) in that run through a combination of loot drops and using the extra special roll tokens. My gear is still poor though, being that I have a terrible trinket and three  ilevel 450 items. I’ll dance a jog when I can get all slots to 463, and probably scream like a pansy when I’m epic’ed out.

Three fat Mogu staring at a dinner plate?

The gearing plan is to continue to get Valor until I can afford to buy a new Trinket (must buy or craft a Dragonling asap), and craft either the Chest or Gloves. Also continue the dailies for rep and the minor tokens, and perhaps the gear that is unlocked. Bloody motes. That is a long road. Perhaps I’ll get another shot at the Sha of Anger too.

Fight styles in LFR and mechanics are self-evident most of the time. eg. the burning chain that joins two players is obviously bad, so stay next to each other. Or bad stuff in the floor, or announcements before AoE effects, or don’t stand in front of the boss as your dps drops and it breathes, cleaves and makes mince meat of characters.

The overall performance of a player in LFR is as per previous, and strat wise LFR is not teaching much about the fight mechanics properly. The Doggies were tanked and nuked, which is not how I think its supposed to be.

Mogu’shan Vaults LFR Requirement

If you’re slowing building gear for your fresh level 90 (like I am) you might be interested in the LFR requirement for the Mogu Vaults. The official word is:

You need to be level 90 and a minimum of 460 average ilvl if you wish to enter the first part of Mogu’shan Vaults LFR that will be opening tomorrow.

Go get those Scenarios and Heroics folks – 460 is tough but doable for a freshy. By example I have 7 of 15 item slots that are 460 or higher, playing fairly casually although luckily – with an average of ilevel 452. A few upgrades in 3x 437s and my level could be there quickly.

I wonder if that will nudge the pvp gear prices and supply a bit as people sherk the system to add higher level gear?

I wonder why the last gear roll in every instance has everyone rolling need?

In the nick of time

The raiders in Insidious were fighting bosses down to the wire before MoP and a space appeared so I nabbed it. It meant that I got to see the Heroic Ragnaros kill and Heroic Deathwing kills while the content was current – just in the nick of time.

I thought some pictures might be good too. Thank you to Insidious.

I should have screenshotted his legs

Full Death Knight team raze Heroic DS 25 – Awesome

Aside

Here is an odd endeavour – to clear Heroic Dragon Soul raid with a full Death Knight Team. Awesome work gentlemen. It demonstrates just how interesting a challenge can be created. I have no doubt that a full Druid, Paladin, and Monk clear could be performed too. Kudos for the DKs for getting this together. Check out the vids and the banter via the links.

As a keen DK and Wow’er this is entertaining. Players seeking to nudge the edge of what is reasonable and intended in a game should be encouraged, and while we’ll never see an achievement for “Full raid single class” due to the bias against classes that cannot do this – its notable. Just as cool is the soloing of Lich King on Hard mode in a 10 man raid.

The group’s main setup included:

  • 4 tank blood DKs
  • 17 DPS blood DKs
  • 3 DC heal blood DKs (to assist tanks with Deathcoil Glyph)
  • 1 DW frost DK (for buff)

The team also called in a druid and priest for the Spine encounter to beat the dispel mechanic.

Now this might garner some “DKs are OP” comments too, and I have two things to say to that: (a) shut it troll, and (b) yes, Death Knights are awesome…

Happy Killing

In a friendly guild, who should get the Legendary?

Update: Apparently the tokens/widgets for the legendary quest will drop randomly and all members of the raid will get them (heard it from a guildie who is a voracious reader). This makes the drama and selection totally moot. Legendary for all. Mains, Alts, everyone gets a shiny orange item.

The Legendary item in Mists will be something that every class can get, and every player will want it on at least one character. It appears that the quest / story line will be at least worthy of significant effort, and that guilds will need to prioritize which characters are up for the rare drops first.

Once again a choice must be made. The degree of severity and scale of that choice unknown at the moment, and I’m assuming that the drops will be rare enough that selection to receive them will be something worth considering, much like the random Fragments in Ulduar. I doubt the tokens will be as rare as the Eye from Rag or the Bindings from Molten Core. If so we have a really rare adventure ahead. Instead I suspect that these will drop with a low-ish percentage, so that guilds will get enough of them to progress as they kill through a raid.

The following has a very large amount of my personal opinion and bias build in. After writing it I came around to one question which is perhaps the best question to ask:

If it cannot be yourself, who else would you wish it to go to first?

Continue reading

Finally heard the Voice of the Deep

I had the absolute please to raid a Heroic Dragon Soul run with the guild, where they were up to the Madness of Deathwing. Initially I’d said to the Lootmaster that I’d not take any loot from a regular raider, as they’re present every week, and we only have a handful of days before MoP anyway – so gear is somewhat of a moot issue.

I was very pleased when not one but two of the two-handed greatsword named Gurthalak, Voice of the Deep dropped. A Best in Slot weapon is very welcome, especially when nobody else in the raid had to miss out on anything.

a darn fine looking weapon fro a death knight

LFR Loot System

The new loot system gives an approx 15% chance to each participant to get loot. The “community” is happy, delighted, excited, angry, whingy, upset, and everything else.

Zarhym – The new system won’t have a record of your loot history or check your inventory. In your example, Bob might win the same item off of the boss every week (assuming he’s running as the same spec each time).

The only thing the system looks at is 1) if you are eligible for loot (have you killed this guy already this week?), and 2) what your current spec is.

It does not favour your current gear. It looks at the roll to see if you win something, and then gives a random item based upon your spec. This means that folks might have a slightly higher chance to get anything because you are not competing against the need/greed rolls of others; and the system cannot be gamed. Previously the system could be spun to try to get a specific item to a toon, or share an item between characters in the LFR.

It is as positive as it is negative, and it is designed to get rid of the selfish drama of need/greed. It introduces a new set of drama, as people get items they already have, or do not want.

Overall I think this is better because the asshats can’t spike my rolls.

Spectral Tiger loot cardThat one perfect item was a snowball’s chance in hell anyway – so what really changed except dumb luck not being influenced by other players? Nothing. LFR remains a once a week random small chance to get a better item, and a source of Valor/Justice points, and I’m fine with that.

My suggestion would be to alter the drop so that I am less likely to get an item I already have in bags, equipped, or banked. This favours removing unneeded gear, and means that each run will be more rewarding. I guess too that too many people have such a wide variety of wishlists when it comes to loot (for main, offspec, transmog, vendor) that anything except a basic approach will crate a whinge fest. Checking this at time of award is potentially a hassle which is perhaps why such an obvious tweak was not done.It will however be an irritation to people looking for two of the same weapon for dual wield or for dual specs.

The new system looks to be a quick and dirty solution to loot distribution in random groups, and I am confident that over time a better set of tweaks will be added; later rather than sooner.

(Ps. I’ve written heaps on gear, and a fair amount on new rules that would be handy).

A guilded alternative

Being social in an online game is valuable for increasing players and keeping them. My gut says that the more my friends play a game, then the more I will too. As I form friends it is good to provide a manner by which to sort and link them. We’ve seen the introduction of BattleTags to Blizzard games as an example of a development company linking their products internally, and an explosion/exploitation of Facebook and mobile games as examples of connecting different games though an information conduit. In a round about way we are seeing that the linkage between players is very important, and something that is valued by a developer as it is popular with the user base.

Right. So if you accept the spirit of that statement then you may also accept that a game dev should seek ways to enhance and innovate ways to be Social (see rant at end) as part of the game experience. Basically if one form of social linking is good, then a few more are better. In fact many many more might also be bloody brilliant, as long as they are optional and do not get in the way of the actual basic game experience the player was interested in.

Righto then. In that case can I suggest more than three ways to organise the player structures and relationships in World of Warcraft? Guilds, Pvp Teams, and Friends/Enemy lists are good, but not enough. The functions exposed under the Guild Structure are excellent, and the same features could be re-used with benefits.

But what could we have?

Companies / Platoons – an additional formal group established without a dependency on an existing Guild structure. For large guilds (like AIE) this might remove the need to have players switch sub-guild for raids too. It also creates the opportunity for guild alliances to be established and formalised.

  • Ownership is fixed to a character, akin to Guilds.
  • A member must be invited and accept.
  • Structure, officers, and ranks as per guilds.
  • Linkage can be across traditional server boundaries, to support random pvp battlegrounds, raid finders, roleplaying groups, etc.
  • Control and Calendar functions, etc as per Guilds.
  • Probably does not need banks, but an interesting consideration.
  • A player can below to as many as they wish, but perhaps a max of five per toon is reasonable to begin with.
  • Let the character show the Platoon name instead of Guild name?

Raid Teams / Kill Teams – within the existing guild system add a new informal sub-list to be used to create and manage raid teams. The use is pretty self explanatory, except to say that a guild should be able to have a large amount of these.

Collectives – a Guild like link across games, to establish linkage between BattleTag participants beyond basic friend list functions.

  • Extend the typical Guild event functions and calendar, and show Collective events within the sub-games.
  • Formal accept/reject membership, etc.

Happy teaming, TyphoonAndrew

Update: Something I thought about after writing this was a goal of keeping the concept of guild advantages and levels away from these additional structures. This is so they form the flexible and changable aspect of the game. Your “social” interaction structures should be able to switch according to need, rather than feeling like if you switch you will miss some side-benefit mechanically in the game. Just a thought.

<rant>I’m told by the media pundits that “social” is all the rage, and everything is moving toward/in/becoming more social. It’s a pet peeve of mine that all this stuff has been around for a very long time before the term was coined, and being social is about as new as being nice to people – the delivery has changed, not the attitude or goals.

Does it mean that before we discovered Social Media we were being Antisocial?

Social…balderdash I say. Release the hounds!</rant>

Freeloaders in SW ToR

Star Wars: The Old Republic

It’s old-ish news now that SW-ToR is going free to play, where a freeloader can get almost all the content, and the raiders pay our way. I started thinking about what it might mean. For me its a win-win that is very attractive – I plan to freeload on it.

As a positive the populations on the servers will increase, and that may assist with keeping a sense of community and an economy flowing. Having five times the players in a zone is a great thing when you are looking to “live” in a setting.

What I don’t understand is how the “all but raids” free play will generate revenue. Tobold posted a similar thought, and the comments seems to think this too. So what do the SWToR Devs know that we don’t?

My thought is perhaps the raid content will soon be the defining feature, and the next set of raids will be good enough to act as a revenue stream. If the devs can create compelling raids for raiders there is an angle. They might be so good that people play for fun for free, but pay for raids. That would be a big call. Raiding in WoW is considered good enough to generate revenue, and a segment of these serious raiders are likely to be targets for that strategy if it is right. An advantage is that money is no barrier to entry to the rest of the game right up to raids, so many people can have high level characters who are raid ready. A disadvantage is the raid history so far, so the content will need to be amazing, and then also well communicated to the wider community.

It does ignore though that there is an opportunity cost of a free game, where the time spent playing is not played elsewhere. Free is not enough for some players when they miss out on something that is valuable, even when it costs money (I’d rather eat good food that costs something, than free junk).

Or if not raids then what else? Vanity gear and pets? Rubbish. Sure they get money, but its still not enough to keep the game floating for 1-2 years.

Pay to win model where good gear is purchasable through a backhanded cash sale? Even worse, and would be a kick in the guts to the subscribers.

GuildOx Stats on WoW Raid Decline

GuildOx have used their outstanding stats to create a story around the frequency of raids being conducted by guilds. As could be expected, guild raids appear to be in gradual decline.

GuildOx (..) has discovered that raiding guild activity has fallen 50% since the beginning of 2012.

This is by no means a doom and gloom message for raiders. Most raiders would already accept a large drop-off in attendance and activity as a reality, and one that reflects the length of time in the game since the last content patch for Cataclysm. Not shattering news, except to see the an approximate value indicate the drop-off is around 50% since the start of 2012, and since mid April the figures really hit a steep decline.

raid graph decline from GuildOx

As the stats continue we’ll likely see the population drop far further, especially in response to a release date. In previous years my (various) guilds have taken the announcement of the release date as a point in time to decide our plans, and that typically calls for an ending to raids in prep for the new expansion.

The stats do not include LFR or include content which is not current, so while the graph is an indicator it should be taken with due consideration. The real message here is not new, it is one of understanding the degrees involved which is interesting; rather than worrying that a decline exists.

The guildox writers indicate that a jump start is needed when MoP is released, which is a fair expectation and fair desire. What is uncertain is how many raiders are needed to return to Warcraft when MoP is released so that the raid community can thrive again. Population doom and gloom abound in the blogs and forums, but MoP can still be expected to sell well, as it is a Blizzard product after all and many raiders return for the new game each expansion. Will the bounce be enough to ensure a thriving raid community? Not sure.

What I’d love to see is the same graph with all the expansions plotted to demonstrate the population behaviour from say 2006 to 2012. A holistic view, with the spikes for each batch of raid content would be interesting.

World of Warcraft Cosmic Map, showing Azeroth ...

Related articles

Banter about attunement

Aside

Chess Event in Karazhan

There are many blog posts at the moment about attunement; love it or hate it.

Like all things there is a benefit, and a cost to that choice – which changes as your playstyle and perspective changes. I like attunement as I can know that the player has at the very least done some content.

I dislike attunement as it means I cannot gracefully skip content to the stage my alt was/is at. There is no right answer, which is probably why attunements were removed. Too much of a grey area led to angst, which then absorbed far too much time.

Overall I like attunements more than I dislike them, and think that they could have a valuable place in world of warcraft.

While I agree that creating very large attunement paths is a barrier which is difficult for some, and could even be problematic for raiders who switch characters (or whatever) there was something great in the story aspects of the attunements.

eg. Getting the Karazhan key was interesting from a story perspective. It took a small amount of additional time and effort, but it was entertaining and interesting.

If the attunements were part of the general story, in content which was not repeat-gated (eg. one after another) then they could return with my support. Perhaps the attunement is for the 5man to raid step, rather than for each raid step?

Perhaps also start the stories and the attunement chains as the leveling experience (e.g. the Marshal Windsor UBRS key), and therefore the story plays through the experience, which leads into the raids.

Make it so that the players would be foolish not to take the opportunity (Wrath Gate questline, or the Battered Hilt quests) and you’ll see more game lovers than haters.

+100 Need rolls in Raid Finder

The Raid Finder will give Need rolls a +100 modifier if your Role in the instance matches the item. This is excellent. In fact, put that in the LFG system too please.

How do they tell what is a Tank item vs a Dps item?

Well they’d either classify each item which would take ages or they have an algorithm (a previous post about exactly that type of algorithm in April). Its like they’re reading the blog.

Raiding is a Party not a Sport

Maintaining the weekly raid roster is a bloody hard thing to do; just ask any recruitment or guild officer. With the holidays, life, and general grumpiness of raiders these days, there is little to do except be constantly supporting the ego and feelings of the current team, and potentially recruiting for replacements at the same time. WoW Insider has a post up that talks about the concept of rebuilding years, akin to a sports team that has an off year while they train up younger players.

The sports team analogy does not mix with WoW though, due to the expectation and flexibility that raiders have vs the sports teams. In fact I think the sports team example actually makes it worse for the players who are left behind because it might make them think the social mechanics are different to what they really are. Why?

  • Raiders are not in financial contracts, and nobody is being paid.
  • Raiders cannot be forced to login.
  • An off-season for a raid team is enough for many to leave, or slow further.
  • There is no glamor or praise for the bench & support roles.

So cut it with the sports analogies. Also the job/work comparisons are moot too for exactly the same reasons. You think I go to work for fun every day? I can see that the amateur sports team comparison as closer to the raiding structure, but it still misses the range of social & community aspects that MMOs teams often have.

Ok then, what would be a good comparison? Dinner parties.

  • You probably want to attend because its meant to be fun. The invite list is finite, but sometimes a bit of stretch can be accommodated.
  • If you’re invited regularly it means you’re probably in a core group of some sort who often catch-up.
  • You’d like to believe that the people are friends, or at least will be civil to each other. You also might not like your old friends new partner, but hey – its their mistake.
  • Real life or other events will get in the way and make you late or not attend. The importance of the person in your life will probably dictate if you go. If the devotion is akin to family you’ll probably go regardless and apologise, and might even ring ahead.
  • You’re meant to bring something to the party as a gift, but its ok if you don’t. The gifts are just like Pots, Food, and Flasks. Some people never bring anything, and everyone knows who they are, but its unlikely they’ll be abused for it.
  • Sometimes you’re a ring in that hardly knows anyone, and that is a double edged sword. You might end up standing in the corner (or dead on the floor) half the night.
  • God help you if its a date too – as you’ll be scrutinised the entire night by strangers.
  • Some parties suck and are a total waste of time. Other parties are good even if you don’t do a lot, as you just hang out with your friends.
  • There is a chance of meeting some new people, or knowing them better.
  • And if you’re desperate for people to attend the party you can just invite almost anyone and see what type of person you get. Generally that does not work very well though.

So what does that mean for raid composition? Well that is where you need to remember that just like the birthday party the participants are looking to have their expectations met, and the people running the party have a huge amount of work to do while its going on. They carry the balance of all these aspects with them.

They stress about it all through the process, and they plan all that they can before hand. Sometimes all the plans go to hell 5 minutes before the party should start, other times the party goes badly mid way through (anyone got a bad uncle or mom who drops in?). During the party they are the hosts who try to keep everything flowing. And afterward they are the idiots who have to clean up, and deal with any issues.

What can you do as a good Dinner Party attendee / Raider?

  • Don’t be an ass if you don’t get an invite. Sometimes there is just not room.
  • Bring a positive attitude, and bring a gift or two.
  • Respect everyone, and know when to keep your mouth shut.
  • Don’t expect that you can just turn up with two extras, even if they’re hot.
  • If you really miss out, get off your ass and organise your own party. Do that for 5 weeks and then talk to the normal leads – your attitude might have changed a bit.

As an aside, these comparisons come to mind too while I wrote this, and while they’re a tad odd they are still very demonstrative:

  • When the Fury Warrior throws up in the garden and needs to sit quietly inside for 5 minutes, its the raid leaders who arrange that break.
  • When the Princess can’t be happy until everything is just her way, everyone groans quietly but keeps on anyway.
  • When that loud annoying nerd won’t shut the hell up about Dr Who, its the team leads who must assign somebody to “handle” him.

In closing – respect the raid leaders and organisers, and try to have fun. They have far more to stress about that just one person. I hope all your parties are fun and you get a heap of gifts.

You want hardcore? Then burn

Divine Plea as a post about the QQ on Nurfs. I agree mostly. The qq on the nurf makes me mad too, especially when it comes from folks who were in no way even close to being negatively affected; so I commented:

How about this – Blizzard rolls back the nurfs on HMs, in fact they increase them. Make HMs so brutal that only 0.25% of the player base can stand it, and add a month long attunement to them as well. You want a way to prove how godlike you are, fine. I hope Blizzard gives it to you in spades.

You want hardcore? Where is the limit, and what about your neighbor’s limit? Oh, right, screw your neighbour…its all about you.

Mostly I mean that. But a little of me knows that there is a rational argument for why its not OK to just sweep the nurf bat around. I suspect it is mainly the timing and the lack of notice that is the real issue for some players. If they’d known about it sooner, or perhaps if it had happened at the same time as 4.3 they’d care a lot less. If their personal progression was a little faster, they’d be less bothered?

By no means am I having a bitch or rant, I’m actually finding this change to be a very interesting way to understand the players. People are coming out on all sides with great perspectives on the affects – this “drama” shows us more about the shades of grey.

Progression is somewhat an illusion. Some people fight to get 7/7, and others fight to get as far as they can, and others fight until they must sleep. It is relative. There are darn handy websites who track your exact progression relative to others, relative to every other bloody guild playing the game. You want an idea of your progression? Then track and measure yourself by your server ranking. Then Battlegroup, then Region, and then across the playerbase. Then you’ll know where you sit.

If you are 5/7 now, you’ll probably get 7/7 soon after the nurf, and if you are progressing based upon competition with others, or for some sort of experience validation – then this change should have no real affect.

…but then I know it will in the back of your mind, and I know that it still feels wrong somehow. Like an itch you just can’t scratch, it drives you to say and do things that are unusual. All I can offer to you folks is the advice that you’ll get another chance in patch 4.3.

All this talk of progression and difficulty also makes me think that along with an Easy mode for Raids, perhaps we could see a DEATH-MODE as well. There are the fights where the bosses are just bastards. They’d be like me as a DnD games master after too much sugar and not enough sleep. Giant blue lightning bolts from the sky…indoors!

Give me a Total-Party-Kill counter in the GUI.

A rolling debuff that must slay a team mate at a random time in the fight, so you don’t get to “save” a res.

An artificial latency increase by 500ms.

And fire…more fire than you’ve seen since the first rpgs were written.

and Burn.

I see nothing wrong with giving the really cutting edge guys quasi-impossible tasks that mere mortals are not meant to do. In fact don’t even give them a reward for it, the suffering and final completion are the reward.

Or just the suffering. Happy killing (now with 30% less hit points).

Easy mode raiding, why not?

Blessing of Kings has a nice post about a way to have more transient raiding – its a good read, and worth considering.The post is well thought out, comprehensive, and clear.

If not found in wow, it could be a feature of other MMOs that seek to entertain a more casual play style, which would be a draw card in my opinion. World of Warcraft has most of what would be needed already, or is coming soon in patch 4.3. Odd eh?

As an extension of BoK’s ideas – it would not be too much of a stretch to add Easy mode raids (let the hate fly!).

I know that people might hate the idea of dumbing down the content for casuals (just read the forums), and many raiders would be darn pissy with the idea. But think, if the rewards were less, achievements different, and the lockouts different – the easy mode raids would allow for learning, some side-grades, and a sense of theme and plot without a monumental increase in effort. Where is the difference between Easy mode, vs the Normal and Hard modes when the lockouts were separate for 10s and 25s. Some players thought 10 man fight on Normal were already easy mode. Same people probably hate this idea too – with potentially valid reasons from their perspective.

There would be no direct negative impact on the Normal and Hardmode raiders, except the nudge to their ego. To them the kids in the sandpit playing at war (and eating dirt) are happy, as they are playing a separate game. Yes, it would require tuning to make sure that easy was not trivial, but it would not impact the Normal and the Hard raiders.

An easier mode is different from the “Buff of Nerfage” that Icecrown had. That was an end of expansion way to ensure that everyone could play through content, and it was good too. The buff applied across all, whereas a Easy mode would allow more people time to fight and learn the bosses before the rush at the end. Some guilds may even just complete Easy mode and be happy – that content might be enough for some. For others it will be a step ladder into the content. It would also remove the need to add a “Buff of Nerfage” at the end of the content patches – why bother. If all you want to do is kill the boss, then switch to Easy mode and see the content’s theatrical style. No way in hell you’d be considered a Hardcore raider, but you’d still see it.

Even as I write this I have doubts too though. Who would use it? Would the achievement of Easy mode be considered more a brand of failure than none at all? Would enough people use it instead of Normal and Hard to justify the time investment?

The casualisation of wow has had an affect on a lot of players, and there are as many perspectives as there are players on what the right choice is. facts about subscriber numbers may influence the choices made in the coming patches and expansions too. We’ve already seen a change to threat that some folks don’t like, but others (such as myself) think are excellent. Is this casualisation? Probably, and it helps keep me paying my subscription every month.

One limiting factor that I don’t think was good in the end in Cata was the shared lockout for 10s and 25s. There were ways in Wrath to pug those odd 10s and 25s so that you had extra opportunities to gear. When the shared lockout was first described I thought it might have benefits, but I’ve come around to the opinion that having a wide range of options is actually better than having a strictly defined path. Perhaps the Easy offers a similar option, a separate lockout for Easy mode. This way a low geared toon (all those alts) would run the Easy mode to get basic rewards and confirm their literacy for their role, and then be able to migrate into Normals when they were ready.

For easy mode gear rewards it would make sense to me that the gear drops should not be any higher than the current 5 mans which are considered “hard”. As we’re in p4.2 that means 353 rewards if it existed now. The idea is not to use the gear as a reason to raid, but to offer alternatives to the basic 5 mans that expose the content. Training wheels? Yes, for sure.

I would also expect that Bind on Equip gear would not drop so as to not flood the market. And the gold rewards would be significantly reduced so that farming was not attractive at all. Likewise the quests that were needed for special story paths would not complete in easy mode either.

I would have also liked a Normal and Heroic mode for the ZA/ZG 5 mans too, but I guess the same time in tuning and scaling would have been needed – with a low potential audience. A scaled approach such as  ZA/ZG Normal offering 346 and Heroic with 353 is not a terrible idea. It changes nothing about the step up, but makes the ZA/ZG part of the runs that a PvE player uses to get geared.

So Easy mode raids…way off base, or something that you’d use? Let me know.