Archive for the 'Opinion' Category

17
Dec
09

One week later

So it has been a week and a bit of patch 3.3. Is all looking well? Is everybody having fun? Are the new instances living up to their hype? Is 3.3 a fitting climax to Wrath?

First off, for warriors it has been a thoroughly uneventful patch. We’re not touched by the AOE nerf and we have had absolutely no changes to any of our abilities or talents. Judging from what I can see in instances and raids that is perfectly alright…we’re in a decent place just now. And for once, our tier chestpiece isn’t the most boring looking of them all.

I was originally going to do a long piece on the Frozen Halls, but then realised that by the time I had published it people would already have been running it for days solid. The big plot twist would be no surprise at all, nor would the cimactic battle at the end. Instead, here comes the shorthand guide to furying in Frozen Halls:

The Forge of Souls

  • Trash is perfect for furies, but do give your tank a chance for getting aggro
  • If possible help your tank out by interrupting the odd cast
  • At Bronjahm, hit the stolen souls
  • At the endboss, stop DPS when it mirrors a soul…everybody will be happier

The Pit of Saron

  • Stick close to the tank to avoid pulling patrolling mobs
  • On Garfrost, hide now and again if you get too many stacks of the debuff
  • On Ick, run from the nova
  • On Tyrannus it makes life easier if you stop DPS when youre branded
  • Oh…dont stand in white runic circles

The Halls of Reflection

  • Fury your heart out on the trash, but be mindful because the mobs do hurt
  • Interrupt is a good thing
  • Full on DPS on boss one
  • Full on DPS on boss two

That’s pretty much it.

Of course, the 5-man is only half the instancing madness in 3.3. The other, of course, is Icecrown Citadel whose first boss, Lord Marrowgar, already has caused enough problems for him to a)have his damage output nerfed and b)been made tauntable. I applaud the former since he hit jolly hard, at least in the 10-man version, but I have to admit that the latter has me thinking “oh, so people have really unlearned their raiding skills of ages past”. Yes, I know I sound like a grumpy old grandparent now, but back in the day it was not unusual to have taunt immune bosses, and we had 40 man raids back then.

I do appreciate that the transitions can go tremendously badly, but honestly I still think it is, to use a phrase, “dumbing it down” a tic too much. At least after only a week. Basically it appears to me that Blizzard have responded to complaints (and internal testing perhaps) by turning every knob in the house. Turn down his damage, by all means, because it was needed. But give it another week before you change anything else.

UNLESS (and this is a big one) it was never intended that he should be taunt immune.

Next up for me: Lady Deathwhisper.

How far are you along in 3.3?

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27
Nov
09

You are at the end of the road. Do you…

Patch 3.3 is coming, yay woohoo, all that jazz. By now we’ve all no doubt been following it meticulously. Or possibly not. In effect I am asking myself this question: is patch 3.3 just more of the same old grind that we got in 3.2? Or is it the spine tingling conclusion to 5 years of arch nemesis lore. Yes, I remember back in vanilla when Icecrown was only talked about in whispers, where Northrend was this forbidden continent to the far north, frozen and ancient, filled with horrors of the lich kings creation.

Now Kel’Thuzad, once the scourge of Lordaeron, is no more. Even the old god of death, Yogg-Saron is no more. And the valiant heroes of Azeroth have taken to slaughtering eachother in the arena, supposedly as way of selecting only the worthy people to go to Icecrown Citadel. Tirion does have a bit of explanation to do there in my opinion.

In short: Is Icecrown more of the grindy loot fest that the Argent Coliseum has been? Or is it actually going to be a climactic struggle, rivalling Ragnaros in epicness? Yes, ol’ Rag is a shade of his former self these days, but answer me truthfully those of you who witnessed it back then: Was it not epic when he burst forth from his pool of molten rock? TOO SOON EXECUTUS!

To answer the question, it may well be a climactic struggle, an epic ending to an epic expansion. But story and lore is but one part of the epic feeling. The other is…loot. And the third is: stuff to do that isn’t just dailies and more silly rep grinding.

I might’ve covered point 1 already. Let’s get right down to point 2 then, the loot, the reason we kill the poor bosses 10 times rather than 1. And with that, we have to mention the loot distribution system since its an integral part of the whole notion of loot. It is possibly here that we’ll see the crux of the matter appear.

Now, Blizz have already revealed the loot system, or rather it has been mentioned in various places by people who have experienced it on the PTR. The usual clause about subject to change will apply here of course. But judging from this description(link) we will have to first get the standard “hohum” version of the epic, only to upgrade it as we go along. Sound like a familiar system? That’s because it is…it’s a slightly altered version of the Zul’Gurub and Ahn’Qiraj loot systems. While those were perhaps based on rep it still amounts to the same thing; you have to grind the instance enough to get the loot.

In effect that places a brake on things, not the progress per se, but the loot progression itself. It would only hinder raid progression if it contained blocking mechanisms like FR or FrR or some other vanilla tactic, but it doesn’t. So why do it at all? Because it will extend the length of time that people will be interested in going back to the instance. Not that there will be anywhere better to go, but it seems simply like a delaying tactic. People are going to get their T10 no doubt, they just have to wait a tiny bit longer before they upgrade it.

The third leg is the “non raiding” bit of the patch. Realistically speaking, I doubt very much that we’ll get a departure from the Coliseum formula. The indications all point to more of the same, for better or worse. There is a new faction to grind for too (The Ashen Verdict). It is a tried and tested formula, but one can’t help but think that it starts feeling a bit samey by now. “Right-o, that’s one more faction to exalted. Next!”

It is the balancing act between the (perhaps) too hard reputation requirements for the heroics of TBC and the fact that immediate access, or “default key”, solutions are…let’s face it…boring. If anybody can just waltz in, a bit of the feeling of achievement does go away. For some that is no problem (yes, I’m looking at you “gief eipx n0w!” people), but for people whom might be a tiny bit interested in stories and lore it is unsatisfying. I could go on at length, but that would be a topic all of its own. The important point is to appreciate the tightrope that Blizz is walking.

So, all that said, will Icecrown Citadel be a fitting conclusion to the reign of the Lich King? From a game perspective seen, Blizzard are pouring all of their experience into making it the best raiding instance yet, and given their ability to walk tightropes, it is quite certain to be a good bit of fun. While Naxx might have suffered because it was essentially a pre-TBC refurbished to modern standards, Ulduar (and to a lesser extent the Coliseum) had very new and very interesting challenges. And most of all, it had a grand majesty about it…and is there anything better than to kill bosses in environments that look nice? I am confident that the raiding aspect will be good and that we wont be let down.

And just to reiterate it, yes I fully expect a new batch of dailies and new pets, and new tabards, and new bits and bobs to grind for. After all, we have to make money for repairs don’t we. While I don’t enjoy the grindy aspect of WoW, I am quite certain that we wont be let down here either.

That said however, in one way patch 3.3 is destined to fail.

Bringing closure to a storyline that began with the very launch of vanilla WoW 5 years of go cannot possibly live up to all the stories, memories and lore that comes before it. I still remember entering the Western Plaguelands, riding to Chillwind on my slow horse and taking in the destruction and desolation that the Scourge had brought with them. The names and the places of the past, when they were more than just places to grind runecloth for a tailoring alt: Andorhal, Corrins Crossing, Scholomance, Stratholme…

So when the Lich King finally dies, when Arthas and Nerzhul are finally destroyed…then what? Do we go back to the daily grind for the Ashen Verdict “to get that cool undead baby gryphon” or do we sit back and reflect upon the 5 years that have built up to this moment?

What will you do?

15
Oct
09

Looking for Dungeon?

So, Blizz are doing away with the heroic dailies, and good riddance. The concept is rather dated now, and I think something new is going to make a nice change. After having ground dailies for near on a year, I would imagine most people tend to see it that way.
Roll on patch 3.3 and its new hot item: Looking for Dungeon, and its partner, “random players”. It’s essentially a way to bring people to PUG. There is even an achievement (3 in fact) for grouping with many random people. So, all is well and good, isn’t it? Well yes, if you’re the type of person who jumps onto WoW and jumps into LFG to get the daily done prontolike. What, you mean some people aren’t?!
Now, this may be a “whine for the sake of whine” post, but even so I think it deserves to be said: The LFD is inadvertently punishing players who like to group up with people they know (guildies, friends, you name it) by rewarding people who sit in LFG more. Essentially, that is what is potentially going to happen: guilds not grouping up anymore since the rewards are greater for doing it with complete strangers.
At this stage it should be noted that the emblem rewards do not look to be affected (maybe?) by this; it is solely the monetary reward you get from the first instance run of the day. Big deal eh? Sure, if you don’t instance for the money that’s all hunkydory. On the other hand, why should people be reverse punished for preferring their guildies and friends?
I see this as Blizzards attempt to combat the waves of soloing instances that is going on these days. Or soloing quests. Or soloing anything. People solo whenever they can get away with it, simply because it’s more convenient at most times. However, MMO’s are all about grouping, so why not incentivise that…which is precisely what Blizzard have done.
Only, they’ve kicked the groups of friends or guilds a bit in the shins with this one. And before anybody says it: yes I’m shallow that way, that I would like to reap the maximum monetary benefit from the daily instance. So sue me. Blizz have always told us to play with our friends (but kindly reminded us that we should go outside Azeroth with them as well), except now they’re paying us not to.
Note: At the time of writing, there are a lot of unknowns in this equation. And I haven’t gone into detail about the finer workings of the LFD system, mostly beause it’s still being tested and is subject to change.

So, Blizz are doing away with the heroic dailies, and good riddance. The concept is rather dated now, and I think something new is going to make a nice change. After having ground dailies for near on a year, I would imagine most people tend to see it that way.

Roll on patch 3.3 and its new hot item: Looking for Dungeon, and its partner, “random players”. It’s essentially a way to bring people to PUG. There is even an achievement (3 in fact) for grouping with many random people. So, all is well and good, isn’t it? Well yes, if you’re the type of person who jumps onto WoW and jumps into LFG to get the daily done prontolike. What, you mean some people aren’t?!

Now, this may be a “whine for the sake of whine” post, but even so I think it deserves to be said: The LFD is inadvertently punishing players who like to group up with people they know (guildies, friends, you name it) by rewarding people who sit in LFG more. Essentially, that is what is potentially going to happen: guilds not grouping up anymore since the rewards are greater for doing it with complete strangers.

At this stage it should be noted that the emblem rewards do not look to be affected (maybe?) by this; it is solely the monetary reward you get from the first instance run of the day. Big deal eh? Sure, if you don’t instance for the money that’s all hunky dory. On the other hand, why should people be reverse punished for preferring their guildies and friends to completely random strangers, who might or might not be any good at what they do.

I see this as Blizzards attempt to combat the waves of soloing instances that is going on these days. Or soloing quests. Or soloing anything. People solo whenever they can get away with it, simply because it’s more convenient at most times. However, MMO’s are all about grouping, so why not incentivise that…which is precisely what Blizzard have done.

Only, they’ve kicked the groups of friends or guilds a bit in the shins with this one. And before anybody says it: yes I’m shallow that way, that I would like to reap the maximum monetary benefit from the daily instance. So sue me. Blizz have always told us to play with our friends (but kindly reminded us that we should go outside Azeroth with them as well), except now they’re paying us not to. Is there some backwards logic I am missing?

Note: At the time of writing, there are a lot of unknowns in this equation. And I haven’t gone into detail about the finer workings of the LFD system, mostly beause it’s still being tested and is subject to change.

24
Jun
09

Emblems, badges and raiders

Gather round for a story without novelty or shock value. It is by no means news to anybody that all the various badges and emblems will be turned into just one currency. Which will then be exchangeable for other currencies, to access the buyable loot from the old vendors. So effectively, we get the best badges and we will be able to downgrade them into the earlier versions, to access the earlier loot.

Statement the first: The change will make 5-man dungeon heroics viable again, and it will ease the gearing for the more casual of raiders

Statement the second: The change will water down the achievements of raiders, and will give people undeserved of the endgame gear a source of welfare epics.

These are essentially the two camps that we will find when looking at various fora and boards dealing with WoW. Whichever camp you belong to, there are many good reasons pro and contra, on either side. Most vocal are the hardcore raiders, who feel like Blizz have gone ahead and watered down their achievements as raiders. In other words…their hard won gear will now be every mans possession. So whats the point of even raiding, if you can sleep your way through heroics instead?

To that I say: Quit your self righteous drivel and get with the program.

Sound harsh? It possibly is, but so is your opinion that only the “true and worthy” deserve to own the nicest gear and see the nicest places. Essentially, you are advocating a tiered online community, where we have the “haves” and “have nots”. Oversimplified? It’s not as if the raiders who populate world first guilds are exactly sleeping their way through instances. While a very good point, it is an antiquated way of thinking in the current world of Achievements. You arent defined by gear anymore (and havent been since the Sunwell badge frenzy)…you are defined by the date on your achievement. If anything.

Back in the days of Vanilla, a full tier set was a status symbol, just like the rare mounts are today, and you’d see people in the capitals parading their armour for hours. And this tradition is still prevalent, even if it is on the decline. The emblems changes is a further nail in the coffin of the status-gear.

In its purest form: Blizzard have made a boatload of content, and a further boatload of gear in the content. What many people seem to fail to realise is, that gear is a means to an end, not the sole end itself. There’s no denying that we all want to be decked in epics, but epic gear should be a “cosmetic” status symbol rather than the status symbol.

Furthermore, the changes to emblems will resurrect the venerable 5-man dungeon as a worthwhile use of limited WoW time. They have been sidelined in Wrath, to a point where you currently only find alts in these, the most classic of WoW dungeons.

This has probably veered way off track by now, so congratulations if you’ve made it this far. As a conclusion, I shall return to the story promised in the intro to this post:

Once upon a time, there was a level 1 character. This was a young world, where the elementals below Blackrock, and the dragons above, were the biggest threat to the land. But even these creatures seemed far off and distant, mere  rumours and legends. But there were more immediate threats to be fought, communities to be saved, caves to be explored, cultists and criminals to be fought. And the call soon went out to the heroes across the land:

“Gather ye 4 companions, and venture forth into the dark places of this world, to bring justice and safety back to our lands.”

21
Apr
09

The triad of raiding, part 2

Yesterday, we looked at the first two legs of the triad of raiding, cohesion and planning. Today we’ll look at the third leg, momentum.

Momentum

I listed this point on top, since it is also the most important one of the three. It relates directly to the two other points. You cannot, however, influence it directly in a positive way. Unfortunately, you can very directly influence it in a negative way.

So what is momentum then? Like its physical counterpart, raid momentum is the amount of impetus a raid has. Picture the raid as a lorry…when it’s going, it really goes, but it can be stopped eventually, and it will take a while to gain back its lost speed. Especially if the ground it travels on is slippery or treacherous.

To translate it to WoW terms, picture two situations:
1) A raid who has oneshotted three bosses and are rapidly clearing trash towards the fourth.
2) A raid who has wiped four times on boss one, had to wait ten minutes for an afk at the second boss, and are now spending ten more minutes at the briefing of boss three.

Raid one has momentum working for it, whereas raid two is struggling to gain momentum. It’s not hard to imagine both situations, including which situation you’d rather be in. Raid momentum is that magical combination of concentration, feeling of “win”, progress through an instance and peoples self confidence. None of these factors can be directly changed by the RL, but you can indirectly affect them.

At its simplest: keep things moving along at all times, if you can. If it gets too choppy, or it starts heading towards a bad situation, stop for a moment, just long enough for the raid to right itself, then continue.

If you’ve just taken a wing of Naxx, dont call a 15 minute break before the next, and harder, wing. If you have to, call the shortest possible break, to avoid people losing their concentration. And yes, it’ll happen quicker than you think, so instead of 15 minutes, consider a 4-5 minute break. Conversely, if you’ve wiped 4 times on Kel’Thuzad, it might be an idea to take five minutes, for people to break out of their current mindset. In short, you want people to “lose” their current concentration, which is negative.

When you’re on a roll, people will be more upbeat, more positive, more concentrated and they will perform better as aresult. And the effect can amplify itself.

However, be mindful. Momentum is lost very quickly. Too long breaks will do it (as mentioned above), as will DC’s and AFK’s. Perhaps worst of all is the endless briefing.

While you, the RL, may have narrowed the incredibly complicated tactics of boss X down to what you think is a very short list, its still likely to be too long. Google have a point about their 28 words on a page policy. Peoples attention span when faced with many instructions is very short. Keep it concise, keep it precise, keep it simple.

Essentially, you want to describe a boss in the fewest possible words without the essential bits getting lost. Compare these Kel’Thuzad briefings:

“Phase 1: Kill things inbound. Abominations: melee, banshees: ranged, skellies: free for all.”

“In phase 1, we will stand in the circle. Ranged will kill banshees at a distance, since they do a huge knockback. The abominations need to be tanked or they will kill our healers. Tanks and melee will engage them. Skellies need to be killed before they reach the centre of the circle, where they will explode and damage the raid. So they are a free for all. If you see one, kill it.”

It may be a silly example, but the latter briefing will very likely kill your raids momentum, especially if the players know that two more blocks of text that size awaits them. The tank is already surfing the net, and the main healer went for coffee.The former doesn’t say why things need to die like they do, it just says “do stuff to things”, which essentially is the important bit. Leave all the abilities, that aren’t really important, for forums.

Another example of the right and wrong thing to do is the handling of trash by the tanks. Again, two situations that relate to planning (partially) and momentum:

  1. RL marks targets, says “go” before every pull
  2. Tanks mark and pull at their own pace

Situation 1 is, quite frankly, the worst possible thing you can do to your tanks. You stifle them to no end, remove any initiative that they have, and as a result you will at some point kill the momentum of the raid. A tank, a good tank, lives and breathes initiative. Since they are the ones who hold aggro, they are the ones controlling the engagements, period. They shouldn’t be held on a too short leash.

Let’s look at situation 2 to clarify. Here, the tanks are able to mark the targets they consider priority, and they can pull whenever they think it best. So, they can evaluate the situation, most likely quicker than the RL, and they will retain their control and initiative of the engagements. Initiative is, as said, vital, since it governs how well tanks respond to panic or unforeseen situations. The last thing you want is a tank who is too scared to act when a mob patrol appears.

So to put it simply: If you micromanage your tanks, you take away their ability to act independently. And by doing that, you open the door for every mishap to break the momentum of the raid.

Conclusion

A raid leader is like a captain of a ship. You steer the general direction, point out the obvious (“Avoid those bridge pylons”), and try to make sure that people are having a good time. Beyond that, you get your fingers off the controls. You are here to make sure that everybody is on the same page of the chart, not to decide whether the cook aboard serves rice or pasta.

It’s a lot easier to keep a snowball rolling than it is to get it moving after you let it stop. Keep it moving, keep the momentum up whenever possible. Most of all: know when to pull the brakes on a raid. Learn to recognise when momentum would just lead to a very quick wipe. There are exceptions to any rule.

If you’ve made it this far, there’s always the chance you think “gosh, what a load of rubbish!” And it may well be! If I’m dead wrong, please do let me know about it. Any other comments are of course happily accepted as well.

20
Apr
09

The triad of raiding

Most of us raid. Yup, you, me, that other guy. And we all know what a good raid is, and what a bad raid is. But if we want to quantify and describe what makes a good raid, how exactly do we do that? It’s quite simple to list things that we see as “good”, for example:

  • No deaths on trash
  • No deaths on bosses
  • Quick pulling
  • No excess damage taken from AOE
  • Achievements pop up for every boss
  • Loot drops
  • No waiting periods
  • No DC’s

Most of these are effects, symptoms if you want to compare to medecin. They are the “what”, rather than the “why”. The “why” is what the raid builds up over time, hopefully spurred on by the raid leader(s). It’s the “more than the sum of its parts” stuff. A raid can have spectacular theoretical numbers, but if it doesn’t come together, most people are going to be frustrated in the end, none more than the raid leader (RL in the following).

The RL has the best and worst of jobs. They get praise when things work out, but they are also the person to feel how cold it is on top when things go badly. The RL has the dubious honour of being responsible for everybodies good time, more or less. Essentially, the RL has to manipulate things, so as to create the “more than the sum of its parts” stuff and the “come together”ness of a raid.

How?

How does a person do that? How does a person manipulate the “why” of a “good raid”? And what does the “why” even contain?

  • Momentum
  • Planning
  • Cohesion

The triad of a raid, which a RL must know about, and must be able to manipulate to cause a raid to be successful. Most of them rely directly on the rank and file, and are only indirectly affectable. Let’s continue by examining what these three words, pulled out of the blue, mean. So, in the following, imagine that you are a raid leader.

Cohesion

A raid group is a team, with numerous small subteams. To be successful, a team needs to have a certain familiarity with itself. It’s not a strict requirement (or pugs would never work), but it helps. Furthermore, a team must feel like a team, have an esprit de corps. This is where the RL comes in…make people feel like part of a unit, rather than just some bunch of people hobbled together in a dank and dark place.

Essentially, building unit cohesion is the task of the RL’s people skills. Some have it, while others don’t. Much has been written, in many places, about leading raids, about officers in raids…I wont go into details here, since it’s a subject for a lengthy debate. There are as many ways of doing it as there are RL’s, and I can’t generalise, much less give any advice.

In general though, I find it pays off to be civil, nice, respectful and most of all, never let yourself get overtly annoyed or angry. It pays off down the line, even if it is at times hard.

Planning

Planning is a two edged sword. Too much of it will stifle freedom and creativity, and too little will result in 10 or 25 headless chickens. How much planning is needed? Just enough to be able to avoid chickens, which to many may seem like “not enough”, but “too much” information will suck the life and joy out of the people who prefer to wing it.

Again, much has been written in many places about it, so I’ll offer you a very general outlook on it all.

Planning is, in my mind, best done outside of raids. Post strategies on fora, link to other strategies or videos. Post the raid composition ahead of time, so that people, if they don’t already, know what they are doing. Use the pre-raid time, when people are getting fired up and waiting in the instance, for group dispositions. Let people with special jobs know, including pulling and tanking. Let them know about special mobs, if applicable. This is also the time to reiterate marking strategies, and to elect a marker.

However, too much of the above will be a point of annoyance as well as spam in an already busy raid chat (or Vent channel). Most hunters will use their mark without you saying. Many mages are able to figure out amongst themselves who needs to sheep which marks. Same for rogues, same for warlocks…same for people applying shouts or blessings. As a RL, you aren’t supposed to micromanage.

Let me say that again: Hands off the micromanaging.

As an overall leader, its your responsibility to say what needs doing. NOT to say who needs to do it, nor to do it all yourself. Yes, this needs raiders to be on the ball, but these are live people. Trust in their abilities as much as your own.

Now, some of you will say “yeah, that’s all well and good, but it’s a hippielike rosy-red description of utopia, real people are stupid and inanely so. So it wont work like that guv.” Correct, it wont work like that in every case. Some people do need handholding or pushing with a cattleprod. However, get one of their classmates or role-colleagues to do it rather than yourself. Or one of the officers. Or the tank. Just don’t micromanage it all.

So far so good, or not (depending on your views). If your views don’t match mine, and I’m not saying that they should, please feel free to comment. I’m by no means perfect, so healthy criticism is always welcome.

Tomorrow we will look at the last leg of the triad, and come to some sort of conclusion.

30
Mar
09

Steerage class raiding

Also posted on BigHitBox

This topic has been on my mind, subconsciously, for a while, and it was sparked into life yesterday. The basic premise is the question:

Has Blizzard created a classed society of raiders by making 10 and 25 man raids, and creating different loot tables therein?

The answer: yes

Hold on a minute…how can I state that so bluntly? Because, in my mind, that’s exactly what they have done. Now, many people will disagree, and many will also call me a whinger and QQ’er. Fair enough. Do me a favour then, and read this to the end before commenting “Less QQ plz”.

The facts then, or what may pass as facts:

  • Blizzard wants to support small raiding groups
  • Blizzard wants to support large raiding groups
  • Blizzard wants two parallel raiding progressions going on
  • It’s not Blizzards intention that you gear up in 10’s for 25’s (re the parallel progression)
  • Blizzard wants reward to match difficulty
  • It is generally agreed upon that 10mans were tuned harder than 25mans

If a normal and heroic raid are supposed to be tuned to be roughly equally difficult, why does the inclusion of 15 extra people yield significantly better loot? Blizzards intention of increasing difficulty via hard modes does nothing to alter that scenario really. Ghostcrawlers comment that hard mode 10-man loot is better than standard 25-man loot is a small pittance tossed to the 10-man crowd. The current situation is that you get better loot for the supposed extra headache of having 15 extra people to organise/control.

The result of that may well be that 25-man raiders do the 10-mans when fully geared, both for the achievements and for the loot, before heading back to tackle the 25-man hard mode. This leads to 10-man raids as nothing but achievement suppositories for heroic raiders. The normal raiders don’t get to do the reverse however, so if you’re solely a 10-man raider, good luck trying to get those extra achievement points.

Another point is that people who actively prefer 10-man raiding, for whatever reason, are forced to never be “the best they can be”, something that bothers many and ultimately leads to ambitious players migrating to the larger raids. Skill is worth nothing without gear.

Furthermore, you can argue that the 10-mans, if properly balanced, are going to become ez-mode raids when fully heroic geared people start running them. Even now we see this trend, where people gear up in the heroic raids, only to own the normals. Except that the normals currently are vastly harder than the heroics. When Blizzard fix that however, the end-user experience for a 10-manner is more than likely to be diminished if they have to bring heroically geared people. The challenge simply goes away…and some of us do like challenges.

In their attempts to incentivize both forms of raiding, they are setting the stage for 10-mans slowly bleeding to death as a separate entity. Instead, they’ll become the “kiddy pool” of raiding, where the undergeared or the “too casual” people hang around. Anybody worth their salt is in the “proper raids”. It might be painting a dark picture some will argue, and to a certain extent I agree. However, the question remains fully valid:

Why must I feel like a lesser raider, solely because I consciously choose to raid with my guild rather than a larger group?

While some of my guildies only raid 10 mans, others dont, and the gear disparity is visible, since heroic gear is better than normal gear period. So because I don’t PuG, or have a raiding group, I’m forced to perform less, to pull my weight less?

Quoth my favourite crab monster ( Bluetracker and full thread):

If your contention is that 10 player raiding is harder than 25 player raiding, then we disagree. The logistics of managing 25 players in our minds outweighs the “marginalizing individual effort” that you mention. I could see a way to have 10 and 25 drop the same loot but also share a lockout. Anything else will just kill 25 player raiding IMO, which is not something we want to do. We do however want to support 10 player raiding, and that means making the difficulty more appropriate for the rewards. If that isn’t challenging enough for you, we do have the 10 player hard modes.

The above is a Ghostcrawler quote. Here, he proposes a solution that would eliminate most of my problems with the current raiding situation. It has drawbacks as well of course, so let’s have a look at some of the pro’s and con’s:

A shared lockout will preclude people from raiding as much as they could possibly like. If you’ve done one, you’re out for the week. End of story. Critics will call this “enforced casualness”, and yes, that’s what it is. If you clear it all in two nights, you have nothing else to do for a week, and yes, with the current amount of content, that plainly sucks if you want to raid 5 days a week. However, there are quite a few more raids upcoming, so the raiding blight will not last forever.

A shared lockout will preclude the heaviest emblem farming, as well as shard farming. It’ll increase prices on shards, and it’ll mean less epics from emblems. So you can’t gear up your alt as quickly by being pulled through Naxx anymore. Big deal.

It’ll furthermore force people to actively make a choice with whome they raid. Yes, that’ll probably kill off a lot of PuGs off the bat, but in the end you’ll still be able to PuG your favourite raid.

The burning question is then: What incentive is there to continue doing heroic raids? Well, achievements for one thing. Titles another? A third alternative could be a cosmetic difference to the tier loot. 10 man is bluish and 25 is reddish perhaps? “My character looks horrible in blue, but red…oh yeah baby!” Vanity oh vanity…don’t we all love thee. Before anybody starts pointing fingers, look at the multitude of people who grind away to receive that title, or that mount, or even that special pet…I know, I’m one of them.

Ultimately, raiding should be about choice of format/people rather than a gear-choice. Bring the fun, not the gear. Currently, the normal raids are the “second class” of raiding, perhaps harder than the “first class” (though not by design), but always with worse loot. It seems the inevitable fate of every 10-man group to ultimately lose their best and brightest to the better rewards of the heroic raids.