I think I’ve covered the majority of my Warlords of Draenor reactions in my two previous posts, about raids (obviously) and itemization. There are a lot of other things to talk about, but I don’t have particularly much to say about any of them, so I thought I’d stick them in a single post. :)

Garrisons

Well. It’s an interesting concept. I’m not thrilled yet. Cory Stockton seemed really excited about them. I’ve never really cared about player housing, so maybe it’s just something that eludes me as being SO COOL. It’s like the farm, but like, times a thousand or something, one of them said? I liked the farm, but more than one was difficult to do consistently. Are all of our characters expected to have a garrison? Isn’t that a LOT of garrisoning? I think someone asked if our alts could be our garrison followers and I think that would be a pretty awesome option.

I am a bit intrigued by the limited access to professions you don’t have through your garrison and followers, but obviously need more info.

The mini-game of setting up missions sounds cool, but some of them take days? A week? Not sure how I feel about that, although, at the moment, I’m not impressed. I haven’t really given it a lot of thought, though, so maybe it’s fine that they take X number of real-life days.

Inventory Updates

YAY FOR HEIRLOOM COLLECTIONS. And toys, I guess, although I don’t have many of those. Would LOVE to see tabards added to collections. Love that quest items won’t be stored in your bags. Love that you can craft directly from the bank! But will you need to have your bank open? Or can you do it anywhere in the world as long as the mats are in your bank?

Stacks upped to 100 items. Beautiful.

Level 90 Boost

Okay. Seriously. Is anyone else a little concerned about letting people loose upon the world (and LFG…) with a level 90 they’ve had extremely little experience playing? Anyone? I am petrified of the level 90 “tank” who shows up in LFG for an introductory dungeon who doesn’t know a damn thing about what they’re doing. The words I fear seeing as an excuse for poor play: “lol 90 boost lol”.

That said, I think it’s a good idea to bring back past players who stopped playing a while back. I’m pretty much buying the expansion (I still want to get a realm first skinning, dammit) so I’m wondering which character of mine I should boost to 90. Right now, I have my hunter, Kurn, at 90 and I also have my shaman alt at 90 (since he’s my miner/herbalist). If I’m remembering correctly, I have:

Madrana of Eldre’Thalas at 85
Madrana of Skywall at 85
Skywall mage at 85
Proudmoore druid… at 80? 85? I think 85.
Eldre’Thalas priest at 85
Eldre’Thalas warrior at 80
Eldre’Thalas mage… in her 50s, I think.
Eldre’Thalas rogue bank alt at 5
Eldre’Thalas horde druid at 8. (Yes, 8.)
Ursin horde rogue at … 15, I think?

I think the most hilarious thing to do would be to take my level 5 bank alt on ET to 90. Except I don’t like playing melee classes. But it would be pretty amusing to have my bank alt sitting at a level cap.

What’s interesting is that this could also be used on a level 1, newly created character. So if you’re looking for another profession alt… there you go. That’s also a possibility. I don’t actually have a blacksmith or engineer…

If I’m smart, I’ll resub a couple months prior to the expansion coming out (at the latest) and get Madrana of ET up to 90, along with the priest. And maybe get the warrior up as high as I need to in order to continue to max out inscription. Then I should start a new toon, boost to 90, make it an engineer/blacksmith and I’ll have at least one toon with each profession.

If I’m less smart, I’ll resub just before the expansion drops and waste the boost on Madrana.

Honestly, it could go either way. >.>

Heroic Upper Blackrock Spire

I’m worried that this will mean a complete revamp of LBRS as well. I love Blackrock Spire. Both Upper and Lower, plus Blackrock Depths. These are some of my favourite dungeons in World of Warcraft. Will using my Seal of Ascension still spawn Vael in the Rend fight? Will you still be able to see LBRS from UBRS? I mean, LBRS is a maze, a true labyrinth, but it’s MY labyrinth. I know that place! UBRS is a lot more linear. Will the Father Flame event still exist? Will we still kite Drakk to the Beast’s room? I mean, so much of both of the dungeons are completely outdated, but… still. I have spent the equivalent of DAYS OF MY LIFE in UBRS/LBRS. Days. Probably even a week’s worth of my life in there. This is definitely the curmudgeonly old Kurn talking, but don’t you fuck with my Blackrock Spire(s).

I disliked revamped Scholomance. True, I think I only ran it twice (on my level 50-something mage) or maybe three times (I have a vague recollection of running it on Kurn to see what had changed), but I really, really didn’t like it. Also important to note, I didn’t like the original Scholomance much, but at least I’d gotten used to it. I hope they don’t mess with UBRS too much. To see an instance I LOVED get messed with would make me very sad.

And if they get rid of Lord Victor Nefarius saying “Foolsss… Kill the one in the dress!”, then WoW is truly dead to me. Best emote ever.

Avoiding Breakpoints

And now, for something completely different: actual praise.

I love how they plan to tackle various loot/raid mechanic issues with flexible raid makeups. The way I understand it’ll work is this:

If, at 10 people, you get one debuff cast on someone, and at 15 people you get two debuffs, here’s how it breaks down for numbers in between:

10 people: 100% chance of 1 debuff
11 people: 100% chance of 1 debuff, 20% chance of a second debuff
12 people: 100% chance of 1 debuff, 40% chance of a second debuff
13 people: 100% chance of 1 debuff, 60% chance of a second debuff
14 people: 100% chance of 1 debuff, 80% chance of a second debuff
15 people: 100% chance of 2 debuffs

Beautiful, elegant solution. And if you have debuffs going out several times a fight, I’m guessing these chances are calculated per debuff, so you could end up with 1 sometimes and 2 other times. It’s great.

As to loot, if you get 2 pieces on 10 and 3 on 15, then you get the same chances as above per person (20%) to get that third piece of loot. Also elegant.

Brilliant solutions here, actually. Like, I couldn’t be more pleased with how that seems to be turning out.

Item Squish

Part of me is sad that we’re not going all the way back to Vanilla levels (hands up, all those who are shocked… yeah, that’s what I thought) but I think the amount of damage and such seems reasonable, from what I heard at the panel. In my hastily typed notes, I have:

1100 int, 2209 Fireball down from 20640 int, 47k Fireball

Should be interesting to see how that all turns out… and how quickly it ramps back up.

Lore & Story… and Stuff

Look, I’ll admit it: I started playing WoW for reasons completely unrelated to the story. I don’t tend to care too much about the lore, as long as the story interests me. Killing Illidan, even if I didn’t know who he was? Interested me. Killing Arthas, after having only a vague idea of who he was at the start of the expansion? Interested me. Killing Deathwing, after seeing him BURN AUBERDINE TO SMITHEREENS? Very much interested me. Pandas? Not so much.

I am on the fence about Warlords of Draenor. Here’s the thing: we’re obviously going to defeat Garrosh & Co. and the Iron Horde will not come through the Dark Portal to our version of Azeroth. I mean, when have we NOT defeated the bad guy, right? We’re heroes. That’s what we DO.

So if what we do in Draenor doesn’t affect our actual past (the devs have said it won’t have any effect on “our” history at all) and if we’re basically going to win anyhow… then what’s the point?

Plus, the fact that it won’t affect our past bothers me. Continuity and timelines and stuff is something I enjoy (and have enjoyed since the Back to the Future movies). If you go back in time and prevent your parents from getting together (like Marty almost did in BttF), there have to be repercussions to that stuff, you know?

Being a fan of Star Trek, too, I’ve had a bit of exposure to their ideas about timelines and time travel. And they state the same thing: you screw with the past, you risk screwing with the future. Picard’s instructions to his crew in First Contact were to settle down and keep a low profile.

I know that, reasonably, the reason Garrosh’s meddling in the past doesn’t affect “our” past is because that would be a stupid amount of work just in the name of consistency. But it still bugs me.

Also. Orcs? More Garrosh? Ugh. Almost makes me want to resub so I can go defeat his smug ass in Siege of Orgrimmar. I’ve wanted to bash his face in since Trial of the Crusader. Also, since I pay very little attention to the lore, I don’t really know all of these orc clans. I know OF many of these chiefs, like Ner’zhul, Grom Hellscream (Gromsblood, anyone?)… I love that I now understand why the Eye of Kilrogg is so named (Kilrogg Deadeye). I like that I know OF pretty much all the clans and stuff. But I don’t know terribly much about them. Honestly, a lot of these names are recognizable to me just because I know there are servers named for these characters!

That said, the BC-era player in me is excited at the opportunity to revisit a somewhat familiar land. When I heard that Karabor is the home city for the Alliance, I gasped and literally said “I love my Medallion of Karabor!”. I wonder if using my Medallion of Karabor in Warlords will bring me to Black Temple in Outlands or Karabor in Draenor. ;)

I love that Nagrand is there. I loved that zone. Apart from, you know, almost living there. Between killing clefthooves for leather and farming elementals up on the plateau, I spent a lot of time in Nagrand. It’ll be nice to take a look at another version of it. (I will die laughing if Elemental Plateau still exists! The existance of Pure Pools of Water is what got me fishing on Kurn beyond the ~100 or so points I had in fishing from random fishing as I had levelled.)

Flying in Draenor

The big news post-BlizzCon is that flight in Draenor is likely to be postponed until patch 6.1. I estimate this will be between 2 and 4 months after launch. Patch 4.1 was about five months after launch. 5.1 was was only two months after launch.

Frankly, I don’t care too much. The levelling process, to me, has always been on foot (Cataclysm excepted). I’m used to it. I’m a bit miffed that I have to wait until AFTER I’m level 100, in that even when I AM 100 I won’t be able to fly, but really, whatever. I get that they want to herd us carefully. I don’t mind too much. Besides, when’s the last time you spent quality time with your ground mounts? (Okay, I have the Baron’s mount, I have my epic pally mount, I have the Brewfest Kodo… I have fun ground mounts.)

That said, I understand that people are pissed. It’s always the same argument, though. When we couldn’t fly in Northrend ’till 80, it was the same thing. Couldn’t fly in Pandaria ’till 90? Same thing. After a certain time, you just don’t care about hearing the same pointless arguments. The devs don’t want us to fly, so we can’t fly. End of story.

Other Stuff

I’m looking over my notes and I don’t have a lot else to say… I guess I’ll just include a few things at random from the opening ceremony and Warlords announcement.

- Love that they’re porting Hearthstone to iPhone and Android. (Haven’t been playing. Should play more.)
- Although I probably won’t play, the Heroes of the Storm trailer was pretty awesome.
- Loved the memories that Rob Pardo showed. TM vs. SS, 40m Ony, Dark Portal, AQ gates, ZG’s corrupted blood (which is the whole reason I started playing!)
- I have a note here saying “for the motherfucking Alliance, yo”. I’m not sure what the hell that was for. Still, I just laughed as I read it, so I thought I would share.
- I do like that it’s 10 levels. These 5-level expansions make levelling weird.
- “Oh God, not the Arakkoa!” I don’t need a whole expansion of Majik (if he plays) yelling “KA-KAW!!!” at me.
- I like the ogres.
- Looking forward to seeing Hellfire before it became Hellfire.
- Love the Gronn! I miss Gruul and his sons.
- Looking forward to the pre-launch 6.0 event for sure. The Dark Portal. Man, such memories.
- Player models: Not a lot of stuff to say yet. Wait ’till we see the new humans and night elves. THEN I’ll have stuff to say. Although I will say I quite like the work they’ve done that I’ve see so far. The undead’s bones, the dwarves look great, love the orc, too.
- Upgrades to core spells rather than gaining new spells: I like. (Probably until they screw with my spells. We’ll have to see.)

Okay, I guess that’s it for now. What about you? What do you think about flying? The story? Are you as scared of level-boosted players as I am? ;)

(Oh, and before I forget, there’s a big post-BlizzCon sale going on over at Kurn’s Guides! Check it out!)

Warlords of Draenor Reaction: Itemization

Believe it or not, guys, I am going to try to leave my curmudgeonly “get off my lawn” self aside in this post. I may not entirely succeed, but I’m going to give it a shot. ;)

Removing All The Things!

One of the problems the developers have recognized is that getting a piece of gear kind of sucks, when instead it should be this great thing to get. Why? Because you get it, then you have to probably gem it, then likely enchant it, then you need to reforge it (and, let’s face it, most of the rest of your gear) and then you can upgrade it with valor.

That’s not REMOTELY intimidating, is it? Well, yes, yes it is. Intimidating to some, annoying to others and just a basic fact of life when it comes to high-end raiding. But still, it takes some of the joy away from getting the actual piece of loot.

So they’ve removed reforging entirely, which I think is a fantastic call. I didn’t like the reforging balance game and it still didn’t prevent people from wanting their supposed “best-in-slot” piece, despite the fact that you could change the stats on that item.

Not only that, but to prevent worries about caps and such, they have also removed hit and expertise.

I’m less sure about this move, but I think it’s more my old, curmudgeonly side that walked uphill, in the snow, both ways, that’s saying this. Maybe it’s because I clued in to the importance of hit rating when I was in Burning Crusade and, since then, have always taken care to be hit-capped on a DPS character. Or maybe it’s because I think it’s dumbing down the game. But having even a little bit of experience in having to juggle hit and expertise caps on my hunter, I can appreciate that this is quite a big quality of life change.

I wasn’t a fan of expertise being needed by a hunter in Mists of Pandaria, still seeing it as something “the melee” had to deal with and didn’t like that agility mail was really interchangeable between hunters and enhancement shaman, but again, that’s probably the grumpy side of me. So the removal of expertise doesn’t bug me. Hilariously enough, I still think of expertise as a “new” stat, although it’s been around since mid-Burning Crusade, if memory serves.

My question, and perhaps it’s been answered, is… are we always going to hit with our abilities? Our white attacks? I’ve seen people speculating that it means we’ll always hit with our specials and have a small chance to miss with our white attacks, which sounds reasonable to me. But how are they going to deal with level disparity? Hit has always been dependent on your level vs. your opponent’s level. Raid bosses are viewed as being 3 levels higher than you, which is why 15% hit (nowadays. It used to be 17% for casters.) was needed, while only 5% was needed for a player of equal level.

I think that they’ll need to somehow preserve the missing mechanic for level disparity, but I’m not sure how to do that. Like, if you’re 4 levels lower than a boss, is it going to be impossible to hit? What if you’re out in the world and you’re four levels higher than some toon you want to gank, is it going to be impossible for them to hit you? I’m hopeful that they’re already on top of this stuff, but a bit wary because, well, hit has always been in the game. (Really, as soon as they removed defense gear, removing hit had to be an option eventually because the entire combat roll table changes.)

And speaking of removing defense gear, now they’re removing dodge and parry.

I get it. These aren’t exciting stats for tanks. Aren’t prot pallies gearing for haste these days? To me, though, it sort of further consolidates loot. Will there be much, if any, gear that tanks will want that strength plate DPS or agi leather DPS won’t want? Will a ret pally need anything tankish in order to tank?

Well, judging by the other major change, possibly not.

Dynamically Changing Gear

The other major change is that gear is now going to change by specialization. That’s to say that if a pair of plate shoulders drop, with, I don’t know, 100 strength, if you’re a holy paladin, they will have 100 intellect instead of strength. But if you change your spec to say, retribution, they will turn into 100 strength. Without hit and expertise caps to worry about, armor changing based on spec seems like a really brilliant plan. No more “shoot, I left my tank gear in the bank”, because guess what? Your tank gear IS what you’re wearing (basically). All you have to do is change specs and voila, you have tank gear. (This is just for armor, of course, so rings, necks, cloaks, trinkets and weapons will be more specialized, but still.) Not only THAT, but if you have, say, 4pc tier as a holy paladin, your 4pc tier will become 4pc TANK tier when you swap specs.

Rohan says that this is a brilliant solution to the persistent Intellect plate problem, since there’s only one class/spec combination in the game (out of what, 34 specs?) that uses Intellect plate. (Having raided as that class/spec, I can’t say I was ever disappointed to see Intellect plate drop, but I understand other people not enjoying that.)

It also mostly solves a problem I know that we dealt with a lot in Apotheosis, back in BC and even in the newer incarnation: how to deal with offspec loot? Problem (mostly) solved now. You don’t have to “waste” DKP or EPGP priority or any of that for tier gear for offspec stuff because your main spec gear turns into your offspec gear (for the most part).

However, I have some concern over this. I’m really trying to leave my grumpy, cranky self out of this and I think I’m about to fail, but this touches on an issue I looked at a while back: the devaluation of gear. In that post, I talk about how the “magic” is gone from gear, that gear itself doesn’t really matter. That caused some confusion, so let me try to state it a different way:

The fact that gear can dynamically change based on location in the game (Challenge Modes, Proving Grounds) and now based on talent specialization just shows that gear is nothing more than a mechanic in the game.

I’m not sure that’s so much better than my other attempts to explain it, but let me try to expound on it a bit. Ghostcrawler said, at least twice, that gear/items are the best thing they can give to the players. They want you to care about it. But my question here is, how much meaning can be ascribed to a chestpiece that has intellect one minute and strength the next? That’s ilvl 500 one minute and ilvl 463 the next?

There have been pieces of gear I have chased after. It took me 28 runs of Scholomance to get my T0 helm. It took me sixty runs of UBRS to get my T0 chest and I only got it during Wrath of the Lich King. I worked hard for my Rhok’delar. I’ve helped others to get Atiesh, Dragonwrath, Shadowmourne, Val’anyr. I have resented bosses who haven’t dropped my preferred piece of loot (stupid Halion, stupid Saurfang, stupid any boss for the spirit/haste ring in Dragon Soul…). So I have chased loot, I’ve wanted loot in the past so badly that I could almost taste it. (And I’ve also just accepted that loot is a tool to help me and my raid group progress.)

But once Blizzard started messing with their tech and actually changing the gear itself, that’s where I got hung up on things. If a piece of loot is supposed to be a tangible reward (as tangible as anything gets in the game, anyhow), then how can the devs keep messing with it and expect us to still feel amazing about getting it? Does that make sense?

I wanted the Beaststalker Helm because it was a good helm for me and it was also part of my tier 0 set. I wanted my epic bow because it was the reward after a long, challenging quest. So let’s look at another piece of loot that I wanted, that had nothing to do with tier or being a reward for a quest.

Zod’s Repeating Longbow. In Wrath of the Lich King, I was doing the occasional PUG or GDKP raid on Kurn and I desperately needed a bow. The bow I was using was from heroic dungeons. It was tragic and sad. Zod’s, even the normal version, was basically the best bow I could hope of getting as I raided casually on my hunter while raiding much more seriously on my paladin.

Getting that bow was a huge boost to my damage, to my stats and to my viability as a player in a PUG or GDKP run, not to mention in my daily dungeon grind.

It was that bow in particular that I wanted, that I felt would really aid me in what I did as a player in the game. The stats were unchanging. It would always grant me 108 agility, always increase my DPS 561.4 (on average). This was a bow I absolutely coveted back in Wrath of the Lich King.

Would I feel that way about a bow today? Or in Warlords of Draenor? While an upgrade is an upgrade, the bow itself is not a static item upon which I can always rely. It’s that dynamic shifting that makes the loot feel, to me, less tangible. Less real. (Of course, “real” is a relative term, considering we’re talking about pixels on the screen.)

So when they talk about solving the Intellect plate “problem” and making primary stats change on gear, based on spec… I have to ask myself why should we even bother with gear? Why not just give everyone a base set of gear that upgrades by 1% or something every time that person kills a raid boss? There’s no need for gear to help us progress. They can automagically change our stats and, thus, our character’s strengths whenever they feel like it.

What about enchants, gems, reforging and upgrading? I would say that those actions (upgrading least of all) are enhancements because the player actually applies those items (or not) to the item in question. That makes it feel as though the player is enhancing the still-tangible item, rather than having things be changed for you.

I’m probably still not explaining it right, but this whole dynamic gear thing doesn’t sit right with me. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’ll solve more problems than it creates, I’m still a fan of removing reforging, all that stuff, but if things keep changing in various circumstances, why bother with them, you know?

(I know. Loot is something that a lot of people view as an end-goal. You have to have loot. This game is BUILT on loot. So while I may be going a bit far in suggesting that perhaps we have a base set of gear that upgrades itself over time, I still think it’s the same principle as what we’ve seen with scaling gear levels and what we’ll be seeing with dynamic gear stats.)

Tertiary Stats

Interesting. I don’t wholly know what to make of these, but I do enjoy the idea of movement speed as a tertiary stat on items. I like the idea of Cleave as a stat, though I’m unsure how that works (or would work) for a hunter. At any rate, it’s interesting and I’ll be looking forward to more information about them, for sure. I do worry that people will try to assemble whole gear sets with specific tertiary stats and that those will become “the norm”, but if they really do keep them rare, or on specific slots of gear (ie: movement speed on boots while cleave is on gloves, for instance), I think it could work out well.

All right. I’m done talking for now. Talk back! Tell me what you think about itemization stuff!

(And stay tuned, either on Twitter or Facebook: big stuff happening at Kurn’s Guides this week!)

Warlords of Draenor Reaction: Raiding

Ever since I learned what a raid even was, I wanted to raid. I went to great lengths to raid in my first real guild, Fated Heroes. Many people used Fated Heroes to level to 60 and then would bail and go to another guild to actually raid. At one point, I just flat-out asked the guild master why we weren’t raiding. Did we not want to raid?

Of course we wanted to raid, he said, but people just left as soon as they hit 60.

That’s when I started building the raiding culture of the guild. I did research on attunements, made that information available, helped people on quests leading to attunements and the like. By golly, I wanted to raid, so I was gonna raid!

Out of the seven years I played World of Warcraft, I spent six and a half of those years raiding, pretty much.

So, of course, having watched all the World of Warcraft BlizzCon panels from Friday, the biggest thing I want to discuss is, you guessed it, raiding.

Flex Takes Over, Heroic turns Mythical

There are two things I want to discuss here. The first is the flexible aspect of virtually any raid team going forward. The second is the new “mythical” raid type and size.

They’re renaming stuff and adding flexible raid sizes to things. Let’s look at how things look right now.

1) Looking for Raid/Raid Finder: Introduced in Patch 4.3, the Dragon Soul, LFR raiding is a group of 25 people put into the same raid wing via queueing. It is tuned for 25 people (2 tanks, 6 healers, 17 DPS), but it’s quite low on the tuning scale because they don’t assume that 25 different people from different realms, etc, are going to have the organizational abilities that a “normal” or “heroic” raid group does.

2) Flex Raiding: This is a new format, introduced in Patch 5.4. Flex is a difficulty that is below Normal raids but above LFR. It is tuned for 10-25 people and scales appropriately depending on the people in the group.

3) Normal Raiding: This is the “standard” difficulty level and, currently, is able to be tackled by two raid sizes: 10 or 25. It does not scale dynamically like Flex Raiding. Normal raids are also required to be completed by at least one member of a raid team that wishes to tackle current heroic raids. (Example: Your raid leader must have defeated Garrosh in Normal Siege of Orgrimmar to unlock heroic Siege of Orgrimmar for your group.)

4) Heroic Raiding: This is the “difficult” level of difficulty, which is also able to be completed either on 10 or 25, and nothing in between.

That’s how things stand right now. Technically, that’s 6 different raids: LFR, Flex, 10m normal, 25m normal, 10m heroic, 25m heroic.

In 6.0 (Warlords of Draenor), this is what they want to do:

1) Looking for Raid/Raid Finder: Same as LFR today, only flexible, meaning that if you’re waiting for six people to fill your LFR group after a wipe, you don’t actually need to wait — the encounter will have changed dynamically and you can just go with your 19 people.

2) Normal Raiding: This is what is currently known as “Flex” raiding, in terms of difficulty, it looks like. The size for this raid will be 10-25 people and will be flexible and dynamic. This is why they’re removing “flex” as a difficulty. Instead, they’re applying flexible raid technology to all difficulties of raiding. (Well, except one.)

3) Heroic Raiding: This is what is currently known as “normal” raiding, in terms of difficulty. Again, this raid size will be 10-25 people and will scale dynamically.

4) Mythic Raiding: Currently known as “heroic” raiding, Mythic raiding will be the “elite” raiding level. The raids will be tuned for 20 people and will not scale up or down, instead of the 25-man size raiders have been using since Burning Crusade.

To be honest, I’m still in a bit of shock.

What This Means

If your standard, 25-man heroic raid looked something like 2 tanks, 6 healers and 17 DPS, you’re now looking at something like 2 tanks, 5 healers and 13 DPS. How do I figure?

Well, you kind of need two tanks. I can’t imagine a scenario where just one tank is going to be required for everything.

6 healers divided by 25 raiders = 24%
20 raid members times 0.24 (percent) = 4.8 = 5 healers

17 DPS divided by 25 raiders = 68%
20 raid members times 0.68 (percent) = 13.6 DPS

Obviously, it’s not precise and I’m sure there will be times when you drop to 4 healers and go up to 14 DPS or maybe even drop a tank and go up another DPS, but, by and large, you’re looking at a 2/5/13 breakdown.

Many people expressed a sentiment along these lines on Twitter:

It’s an interesting problem that Blizzard is dealing with here, and they do not seem to have learned terribly much about the transition from 40-man raids to 25-man raids. Let’s look at this situation.

According to GuildOx, 77 total guilds (36 25m and 37 10m) have cleared Heroic Siege of Orgrimmar. 5612 of those have killed Heroic Immerseus, the first boss in the instance, with 831 25m and 4773 10m.

What this shows is that, after two months of the latest tier being out, over 5600 guilds are in heroic content. 831 of them have 5 people “too many” for Mythic raiding and 4773 guilds are missing 10 people off their roster to be able to do Mythic raiding. Mythic raiding, if it is actually intended to be the successor of current Heroic raiding, is going to be nightmarish for most of those 5600 guilds. Obviously, between now and launch (which is not yet announced, but my money is on June, 2014), guilds will split up, people will quit and all that jazz, but it’s clear that there’s a significant amount of people who would do Mythic raiding if it remained at the 10-man format, but they may not be able to do so at the 20-man format. And that’s JUST two months into a tier. Six months from now, those numbers will have gone up and more people will be trying heroic fights. If people want to maintain their 10-15 person roster AND challenge themselves with mythic content, uh, they can’t.

Oh my God, I’m worried about the viability of 10-man raiding. Who am I??? ;)

No, really, what I’m most concerned about is Blizzard’s statement about WoW being more fun with friends. That doesn’t work with their raiding plans for Mythic raids. It works great for people who want to do LFR, normals and heroics (in the new vernacular) but it completely falls apart for Mythic raids. Completely.

Check it out.

Say I have 32 raiders on my roster for a 25-man (present-day) heroic raiding team. Come Warlords of Draenor, I need to cut at least five, perhaps six, maybe even eight people from my roster.

If my breakdown above is pretty much on target (2 tanks, 5 healers, 13 DPS considered “standard”), then this is what I would want for a total roster:

- 2-3 tanks (2 tanks with one OS tank who is extremely comfortable either tanking or DPSing OR three tanks, all of whom can DPS if needed)
- 7 healers (or perhaps 6 healers with a solid OS healer who is extremely comfortable either healing or DPSing)
- 15-17 DPS

That’s like, 24-27 people or so on the total raiding roster in a guild that I would hypothetically be running. Too many more and swaps become a problem. Too few people and you start needing to have 95%+ attendance requirements.

So say I want to run with 3 tanks, 7 healers and 15 DPS on my roster. That’s 25. If I had 32 to start, that’s seven people to cut. How is that playing “with my friends”? I’ve just lost seven of them.

Conversely, if I’m coming from a 10m heroic raiding guild with, say, 2 tanks, 4 healers and 7 DPS, I now need to ADD at least 7, perhaps as many as 11 or 12 more people. How is that playing “with my friends” when I practically have to double my roster?

One might argue that the 25-man cast-offs may join up en masse with the 10-man guilds, but even if that happened, you’re still looking at a huge imbalance.

831 25m guilds have started heroic 25-man content today. 831 times 7 (the cast-offs, shall we say) gives us 5817 people who are potentially looking for a new home. Assume you need to add just the bare minimum of 7 people to those 4773 10m heroic raiding guilds to bring them up to 20. That’s only 831 10m guilds that are now capable of doing Mythic raids.

Know what that is? That’s crappy is what that is. In order to challenge yourself at the highest level of content, raiders are being told they must conform to the 20-man size, which screws over all current heroic raiding guilds. Even if this had just eliminated the 10s or the 25s in favour of one OR the other, at least some guilds would largely remain unaffected. However, Blizzard did not learn from their first attempt at changing raid sizes back in the Burning Crusade. Well, they did, but maybe not as much as they could have learned.

The Transition from 40-man to 25-man & 25-man to 20-man

Once upon a time, end-game raids consisted of 40 people. You had Molten Core, Onyxia’s Lair, Blackwing Lair, then the Temple of Ahn’Qiraj, then Naxxramas.

The devs recognized that putting together and organizing 40 people was, well, a logistical nightmare and, as such, lowered the required number of people to 25. Except, that’s not exactly what happened, because the first entry-level raid of the expansion was Karazhan, which was a ten-man raid. Raiding guilds, and I’m talking about successful raiding guilds who had progressed into Naxxramas at level 60, were cutting half their team and then had to split up the remnants into teams of 10 for the first bit of Burning Crusade! Ridiculous.

It doesn’t appear as though Blizzard is going to do something as ridiculous as making the entry-level raid a 10-man raid, but they are making similar mistakes to their transition from 40s to 25s with their change from 25s to 20s.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I basically grew up on 20-man raids. I loved Zul’Gurub. (I didn’t like AQ20 but that was more because I hate bugs.) I like the overall idea of 20-man raids and I remember the feel of them. They felt pretty great. Not as epic as 40-man raids, but not as tiny as 10-man raids. I think 20-mans are a good size, overall.

What Blizzard did back then was they broke away from the expectations that they, themselves, had set. “Serious” raids were 40-man affairs in World of Warcraft. ZG and AQ20 were often not even completed by well-progressed guilds because there was no incentive for them to do those instances, because they didn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. All the serious raiders were finishing AQ40 and dipping their toes into Naxxramas at the end of the original World of Warcraft game.

With everyone knowing that raids were 40-man events, Blizzard changed everyone’s expectations and released raids that required 25 people for the majority of the expansion.

They introduced Karazhan as a 10-man, of course, but also brought in Zul’Aman as a 10-man raid later in the expansion. Then, in Wrath of the Lich King, they made 10-man versions of every raid, but they weren’t quite as “serious” as 25-man raids, because they were generally a bit easier and the reward (loot) was definitely not as powerful as the 25-man versions.

It was only in Cataclysm that both 10s and 25s were treated equally. That’s a long road for 10s, to be honest. First, they were almost non-existant barring a couple of raids in Burning Crusade, then they were accessible for each raid instance and finally, they were given equal rewards in Cataclysm. But you see how gradual it was? That’s spanning nearly four years. Four years for another raid size to gain full equality in terms of reward and even respect. (Do you respect Paragon for being the first 10m guild to kill heroic Garrosh? I do.)

But the trouble with the original drop from 40 to 25 is being replicated in the drop from 25 to 20 (and addition from 10 to 20!): it’s a rapid shift in expectations. Sure, we have something like eight or nine months to acclimate to the idea, but knowing what’s on the horizon, how are people in any heroic raiding guild going to keep motivated? 10s are going to need to scramble to recruit or even merge with other guilds, while people in 25s are going to be living in fear of getting the axe. And how screwed over must the 10s really feel after being validated just two expansions ago only to be told that, for the peak of PVE content, they need to double their rosters? Ugh.

The social repercussions of this kind of “unknown” factor is not going to be easy for people to deal with.

Fallout

What’s going to happen? Well, realistically, here’s what I think are our main possibilities:

1) 25-man heroic guilds will come through relatively well, despite social issues stemming from roster issues. The 20-man raid format will probably be a bit more popular than 25-man heroic raiding is today, perhaps another 10%-15% or so, I’d imagine.

2) 10-man heroic guilds will have a tough choice: either recruit like crazy, merge with another guild or just content themselves with the “new heroic” raids, which will probably be about the same (or slightly higher) difficulty as normal raiding is today. I do think this will bring the numbers of 10-mans down, but not so much that it’ll be really felt. Still, that’s going to suck. (Believe it or not, I really feel badly for the 10s. And I personally really hate that raid size. A lot.)

3) Everyone else will enjoy the flexibility of their raid sizes and will take advantage of them in “normal” and “heroic” raiding.

Since, according to GuildOx, nearly 22,000 guilds have killed normal-mode Immerseus, the vast majority of guilds are going to be just fine in terms of raiding the new normals and new heroics. If the new heroics are about the same level as current normals, 22,000 guilds can still go in with their flexible raid size and kick some ass.

This problem really only becomes a problem at the Mythic level of raiding. Looking at the numbers of guilds at least 1/16H compared to at least 1/16N on any size, we’re looking at about 25-26% of the raiding population that even bothers with heroics (within ~2 months of the launch of a tier — so that’ll go up, but I’m not sure how much).

So it’s not a problem that’s going to affect everyone. The flexibility of the other difficulties will be great for everyone, but the people who are, arguably, the most dedicated to the PVE end-game are getting screwed over. All the heroic raiding guilds will be experiencing a major roster change. All of them. Some will merge, some will disintegrate, some will stop raiding the content they want to be able to raid because they’re constrained by their size. All I know about this, really, is that I am super happy that I am not a guild master or guild officer right now. Good luck, people. ;)

Despite the fact I’m not in a position of authority, in the coming weeks, I’m going to be writing a free guide on how to deal with cutting people or recruiting/merging — basically, on how to manage your roster for a Mythic raiding guild. I learned a lot from the Burning Crusade change in raid size and from a lot of guilds that dropped to 10s from 25s. The important thing, for now, is to not panic. There’s still plenty of Tier 16 left, still several months left before Warlords of Draenor comes out. The best advice I can give to anyone right now is to remind your guildmates that WoD isn’t even in beta and that you’ll cross the roster bridge when you come to it, but for now, not to worry.

Heck, there’s even a chance that they’ll reconsider the single Mythic raid size because they’re not even in beta yet. (I doubt they’ll go back on that, but you never know.) If the Mythic size has you troubled, you should post on the forums (and be polite!!!) and explain why it troubles you and what repercussions you foresee it having on your guild. Get them feedback. Be nice about it. But ultimately, don’t hold your breath. The game is geared less towards the min-maxing 40-man raiders of yesterday and more towards the “raiders” of LFR these days.

More This Weekend

Sadly, Real-Life has crit me this weekend, so I’m not even able to watch BlizzCon events live. I’ll have more to talk about on Saturday evening or Sunday, including my thoughts on the Level 90 boost, my Outlands/Draenor thoughts and more.

In the meantime, what are your thoughts? How will the changes to the various raid difficulties and sizes affect you?

Pre-BlizzCon 2013

I have a confession to make: I’ve never been to BlizzCon. And I’m pretty much okay with that.

I bought virtual tickets for BlizzCon 2010 and 2011 and that suited me just fine. I was really excited for the 2011 convention and actually got trapped in Twitter Timeout for an hour or whatever because I tweeted way too much about the announcement of Mists of Pandaria.

I haven’t played World of Warcraft for the last almost-year. November 10th marks the anniversary of my account expiring. (Exception: 30 minutes on a trial account, trying to figure out which Horde race can get to Trade Chat soonest. Tip: It’s the Tauren.)

And yet, I bought myself the virtual ticket this year. I won’t even be able to watch live on Friday, due to some pesky Real-Life things, but you can bet I’ll come home and watch the What’s Next session for World of Warcraft. Despite not having played in a year, despite all the issues I have with the game, which caused me to stop playing, I still care about the game. Weird, isn’t it? (Yes, yes it is.)

Anyhow, I’m sure I’ll be posting Friday or Saturday about BlizzCon and what’s next for WoW. As of yet, I’m undecided between the new expansion being The Dark Below or Warlords of Draenor or something else entirely. I don’t know if we’ll go to 95 or 100 for the level cap. I don’t know if we’ll have a new class or new race or new class/race combinations. I don’t know if there will be a new profession.

It’s a little strange to be so calm and sort of blasé about BlizzCon. For years, it’s been this treasure trove of information that I, generally, cannot wait to hear. And this year… I’ll see the panels when I get home from my real-life stuff on Friday evening. I’m going to try to stay spoiler-free until I do get home. For once, I will not be scrounging for every little morsel of information possible. It’s kind of nice, to be honest.

However, between you and me, I kind of hope that whatever they announce for WoW is something that’s really exciting to me. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to playing as much as I used to, I don’t think I’ll ever do organized, heroic-mode raiding again, but I’m sure I’ll take another crack at server-first skinning come the expansion (assuming professions aren’t completely reworked to the point where such achievements no longer exist!) and it’d be nice to dip my toes into WoW again. But none of this will likely happen before the new year. (And if I end up getting this one job that I really, really, really want, it might not happen until much closer to the launch of the expansion.) It’ll happen, though, even if it’s just for a month to see what’s happening in the game.

With BlizzCon happening, this is a busy weekend for me because I’m sure I’ll have to update Module 5 of my Kick-Ass GM Guide, which is all about expansion planning. So that’s going to be interesting. :) Check back here later this weekend (or on Twitter, or Facebook) because I will certainly have some BlizzCon-related stuff and sales going on at Kurn’s Guides!

Oh, and speaking of weekends, next weekend, Majik and his wife JD are coming up to Montreal and those two, plus my brother Fog, Fog’s wife (I) and myself are all going up to my parents’ cottage for a fun weekend of chilling out (literally), hanging out, doing some outdoorsy stuff if it’s not too cold and probably playing a ton of board games. It’s gonna be fun. And I may try to get Majik to sing for the Blessing of Frost listeners, at long last.

Anyhow, I hope that all those heading to (or already at) BlizzCon have a truly awesome time and that those who feel left out feel better by knowing that they are almost certainly not going to get “con crud”. ;)

Happy BlizzCon, everyone. Enjoy yourselves, no matter how you’re spending this weekend. :)

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