Tuesday, April 27, 2010

What Blizzard Needs to Do To Save 25 Man Raiding

So by now you've heard about Blizzard modifying raid lockouts so that 25 man and 10 man raids will share the same lockout, and both types of raids will offer the same exact loot.  In attempt to address the immediate obvious question, "why the hell would you run a 25 man raid?" Blizzard's response is:

We of course recognize the logistical realities of organizing larger groups of people, so while the loot quality will not change, 25-player versions will drop a higher quantity of loot per player (items, but also badges, and even gold), making it a more efficient route if you're able to gather the people.

I don't think I need to tell you why this is pretty laughable, and basically every WoW blogger out there has prognosticated the death of 25 man raiding.  10 man groups are a complete order of magnitude easier as far as organizing a roster, coordinating during the raid, and general camaraderie and enjoyment.  The only way 25 man raids will survive outside niche/novelty groups is if the bosses in 25 man are an order of magnitude easier.  Like, radically easier.  Like, so easy then the difficulty of grabbing 25 other people is offset because the 25 man encounters are so damn easy, the bosses just puke out loot and keel over and die as soon they see 25 snarling toons enter their room.

Ultimately, my hypothesis is this: fail-wiping actually has to be less likely in 25 man raids than 10 man raids, otherwise 25 man raiding will basically die.

The inherent challenge in any raid is the "fail-wipe."  If X raid members don't perform action Y within whatever painfully short time period, then the raid wipes.  Almost every single raid boss requires action 'Y.'  DPS bone spikes in Marrowgar.  Stack up to get spores in Festergut.  DPS slimes in Putricide.  None of these in isolation are hard to do, and as you outgear the encounter, failure to do Y does not necessarily lead to a wipe (e.g. a DPS dies on Festergut's first Pungent Blight because he didn't stack spores, but the raid has enough DPS to still kill him).

But even if you assume the an average raider has only a 5% chance to commit an error leading to a fail-wipe (ie. a 95% chance of doing everything right), this means that a raid of 25 average raiders only has a 27% chance of not having a single person fail during the entire fight (thus leading to a fail-wipe).  However a raid of 10 average raiders has just a hair short of a 60% chance of the same outcome.  And this is why it seems easy to get a group of well-geared, competent people with lots of raid experience in ICC and down several bosses, but to get the same caliber of people in a 25 man group, and you kill Saurfang, wipe a couple times on Festergut, and call it a day and disband.

This needs to go out the window in 25 man raids, to the point where the ratio needs to be reversed.  Not just evened out, but reversed entirely.  Instead of the base chance for a fail-wipe to be twice as likely in 25 man, it now needs to be twice as likely in 10 man.  This can either occur by tuning up the fail-wipe percentage in 10 mans, reducing the possibility of failure in 25 mans, or reducing the consequences of failure in 25 mans so that it doesn't result in a wipe (thus is not a fail-wipe).

If you were to apply this model to our current ICC bosses, you'd see:
- Marrowgar: Only bone spikes for one person in the 25 man version too.
- Deathwhisper: Mana shield has the same health in 10 man and 25 man.
- Saurfang: There are four adds in the 10 man version too.
- Festergut: Only need two stacks of innoculation to survive Pungent Blight.
- Rotface: The pre-nerfed 10 man version was actually a good example of this, as his health and the rate of the diseases made it considerably more difficult to maintain DPS while dealing with slime.

Think of it this way: I wasn't around for the vanilla days, but I heard that while Molten Core was a 40 man raid, you really only needed about 20 geared and competent people to complete it and everyone else could practically be AFK.  This is what 25 man raiding will need to turn into.  If you can't carry people, if you can't bring along people who even with a 100% failure rate won't cause a wipe, then it's simply too hard.  Because of the overhead in organizing a 25 man raid to begin with, it's not sufficient to just make the fail-wipe ratio the same.  Even if I could grab 24 random people and get just as far as grabbing 9 random people, it's so much easier to find 9 random people that I'd still do that.

Or as I mentioned earlier, they could go the other direction and make 10 man raiding needs to be the equivalent of 10 man heroic raiding now -- extra mechanics to deal with and higher boss tuning.  But I doubt they'll go in this direction because they'll be able to make less assumptions about raid class composition which limits the mechanics they can throw at us and they only want raiding to get more accessible, not less.

If this doesn't happen, then 25 man raiding will inevitably die.  It won't happen overnight.  25 man guilds will give Cataclysm the old college try, but the minute something goes wrong -- guild drama, attendance issues, progression stagnation -- it's going to be too tempting to break into 10 mans.  Because otherwise what's the point?  Why put yourself through twice the chance of failure when you can just get 9 people you actually like better, kick more ass, and get the same loot?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Gone But Not Forgotten

Today I transferred Justisraiser from the server Mannoroth to the server Malygos.  There are a few reasons why, and I'm sure I'll get into them in a future entry.  Not today, though.

Today I want to talk about the people I'm leaving behind.

Except for a brief two month period in August-September 2009 when I momentarily lost sanity and thought it would be a good idea to start my own guild, my entire raid experience has been PUG-driven.  This wasn't as bad as most people seem to think it is.  I quickly learned the warning signs of bad PUGs (another likely future blog post) and for the most part I had positive experiences.  I was never going to be on the forefront of progression, but I'm not good enough to join a guild on the forefront of progression anyway.  And I got to raid and experience content on my own time, with no guild and schedule to commit to.

If PUGs ever made me feel bad, it was actually because they were a *good* experience.  I'd join one, the other players would be cool, and we'd kill some bosses, get some loot, have a lot of laughs, and I realized I couldn't just log on next week at the same time and repeat the experience.  It was the equivalent of having a great first date with a girl and then her telling you she was moving to Austrailia that weekend.  All I could do was exchange numbers (ie. add them to my friends list) and promise to call, but chances are I'd never see her (them) again.

But there was always a possibility I could see them again, and occassionally when the stars aligned that would happen.  I'd get a whisper and they'd invite me to some other raid.  Sometimes I'd join a group and I'd see them say, "hey, this was that pro Holy Paladin I was telling you about."  Sometimes their guilds even tried to get me to join.  While that was always good for an ego boost, they always raided on some Eastern time schedule and it would never work for me.  Now that I think about it, I was always the one telling people I had to go back to Austrailia that weekend.

But now on another server, I'm not just moving to Austrailia, I'm going to a completely parallel dimension.  Even if my schedule never synchronized with someone I had joined a PUG raid with, they were always just a "/w" away from establishing any sort of communication, or even using using in-game mail.  But now I'm gone with absolutely no way of getting in touch with them.  I debated asking some of them for their e-mail addresses, but decided it was kind of pointless.  I know next to nothing about the personal lives about these people, so what kind of conversations could I even have with them?  Play any good videogames lately?  Oh, World of Warcraft, I think I've heard of that one...

So I didn't do much in terms of goodbyes and keeping in touch, but it's wrong to say that they're out of sight and out of mind.  Some part of me wonders if they'll ever realize I even left, perhaps when they realize Justisraiser has mysteriously vanished from their friends list, but I doubt I'll have even that much significance to them.  But they did have that much significance to me, and much more.

So to all you raiders in Mannoroth, it's been a lot fun.  Thanks for letting me into your raids and thanks for all the good times.  Best of luck, and may your loot always be epic.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Dude, It's Just a Mount

I admit it.  I bought the mount.

Yet I'm still a bit surprised at the sheer disappointment and disapproval (albeit sometimes comically stated) coming from the WoW blogsphere, as apparently my decision to spend my own money on something that increases my enjoyment -- in an activity I'm participating in for enjoyment to begin with -- apparently makes me a bad player, or an attention whore, or perhaps this kind of whore:

So here are some of my own thoughts on the mount, and why I bought it, why I don't think it's the end of the world, and why I think anyone getting their panties on a knot should relax and take a deep breath.

"OMG Blizzard!  Way to stab us in the back!  You said you'd never support RMT, what do you call this?  $25 for a reskinned mount?  You greedy bastards!  What's next, $50 to buy tier pieces?  $100 to buy a Gladiator title?  GrrraaauguguggugRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGE!"

My counter-argument is admittedly an anecdote, but I think it's a telling one:

My friend has had his eye on buying the Traveler's Tundra Mammoth since WotLK was released.  In December, he decided it was finally time to start trying to save up for it.  He always seemed to struggle making gold, doing dailies religiously yet just barely able to meet his raiding costs for flasks, repairs, gems, etc.  Meanwhile he saw that I never did a single daily but never seemed hard up for gold.  I wasn't exactly Gevlon but I did pretty well for myself.

He knew I primarily made gold by selling scrolls with vanilla enchants, presumably for twinks and alts and their heirloom items.  So we talked and put together a plan.  We'd do old school raids and rep grinds so I could pick up more vanilla enchants.  He'd farm annoying mats for me like Righteous Orbs and Golden Pearls.  We had another friend who was a scribe so he provided us with lots of Armor Vellum and Weapon Vellum at cost.  When the scrolls sold we'd split the profits.

In just a couple of weeks, but he got his Traveler's Tundra Mammoth and I had earned well over 15k for myself.

If the Tundra Mammoth was something that you could just buy at the Blizzard store for $25, then he may have bought it, and in the process, think about all the things that wouldn't have happened.  All the mats we bought on the AH for rep grinds, all the stuff we sold on the AH that we picked up rep farming, all the herbs we bought for our friend to make scrolls, and all those twinks and alts running around with their agility, crusader, or spellpower enchants.  The WoW economy runs on stuff like this happening, and throwing that all out so they can make $25 would quickly damage the fundamentals of the game.

That being said, RMT (Real Money Transactions) in WoW are not going away, and the success of the Celestial Steed is just going to confirm what the execs at Activision theorized: people will pay real money for this shit, just like they've been paying real money for years in games like Farmville.  Here are some ideas you could possibly see:
- Items with an "on use" like the Horseman's Horrific Helm.
- Shirts or tabards that have some sort of cosmetic effect.
- Items like the Toy Train Set.

Does any of this stuff put you at a mechanical disadvantage for any part of the game?  Will you think, "man, this guy has a fatter wallet than me, I can't even begin to compete with him"?  No, or at least, you shouldn't.  Skill and time will still be required to achieve almost anything worthwhile in the game, and as long as Blizzard keeps it that way, what exactly is the problem if some guy wants to blow part of his paycheck on some pixels that look cool to him?

"You attention whore!  You just got it because you want to be a beautiful unique snowflake!  I spent hard work for my character's accomplishments, you just spent 30 seconds with a credit card!  GrrraaauguguggugRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGE!"

Let's just get this out of the way: I definitely didn't get it because I wanted to be unique.  By the time I bought it and logged in to use it, Dalaran looked like Algalon took a dump on it and everyone was riding his turds.  Spending $200,000 on a Ferrari is a purchase that says, "look at how amazing and unique I am."  Spending $25 to have some extra glowing pixels in a video game is not.

I've tried to word this next paragraph as politically correct as possible, but I can't seem to say anything without coming off as blunt, so here it goes: if you're 'offended' by the mere idea of this mount, and if you see someone riding it and think, "I just don't have any respect for that person," then you're probably the kind of player that compares himself to others and justifies any shortcomings.  Someone in full ICC gear?  He's probably GM of his guild and loot councils everything to himself.  Someone with the Kingslayer title?  Well he has time for a raiding guild, you don't.  Someone with a Tundra Mammoth or Mechano-Hog?  They don't actually play the game, just rip off noobs at the Auction House.  Someone with The Insane achievement?  Well, there's a guy with no life!

If you disagree, if you really are offended by the mere idea that someone would purchase this mount but can give a reason besides, "I don't like that it reminds me that someone has allocated more of their disposable income to World of Warcraft than me," then please, I'd love to know what that reason is.

Because... seriously, guys.  It's just a freaking mount.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Facepalming Over the Paladin Preview

So the Paladin Preview was released today by the WoW developers.  Some interesting some stuff and I think the overall directions they're trying to take the class are good, but there are some suggestions that are just making me plain /facepalm.

Healing Hands (level 83): Healing Hands is a new healing spell. The paladin radiates heals from him or herself, almost like a Healing Stream Totem. It has a short range, but a long enough duration that the paladin can cast other heals while Healing Hands remains active. 15-second cooldown. 6-second duration.

So basically this is our "Consecrate as an AoE heal" that everyone has been suggesting since... oh, probably 2005.  But as has been outlined several times before, that idea has several limitations.  Unless raid damage is nowhere near as intense and spiky as it is now, this will be completely unfeasible to use proactively (ie. running up to a damaged group of people and using it).  So it'll probably only be useful for fights where the raid has to stack up together anyway for tactical reasons.  I'm hoping this eventually turns into a paladin version of Wild Growth, because right now I'm just seeing too many limitations.

Blessing of Might will provide the benefit of Wisdom as well. If you have two paladins in your group, one will do Kings on everyone and the other will do Might on everyone. There should be much less need, and ideally no need, to provide specific buffs to specific classes.

I hate the Blessing system with a passion, enough that I could probably write an entire blog post on this single subject.  This is a step in the right direction, but if the goal is to let us stop using PallyPower, this won't cut it.  Are they going to keep the talents that enhance these buffs?  And what about Blessing of Sanctuary?

Right now half the raids I end up in involve this dialogue:

Retribution Paladin: Holy Paladin, you do Kings, I'll do Might.
Holy Paladin: But I have Improved Might, I'll cast it on us and you kings us.
Warlock: I'm missing Blessing of Sanctuary.
Holy Paladin: Only Prot pallies have that.
Warlock: But we have a Prot pally in the raid.
Holy Paladin: But he's not prot this fight since we only need one tank.
Rogue: I don't have Blessing of Might.
Retribution Paladin: Hold on, we're working on it.  Protection Paladin, why don't you have PallyPower?
Protection Paladin: What's PallyPower?
Holy Paladin: /facepalm
Balance Druid: I need Wisdom, you gave me Might.
Rogue: Why does the Balance Druid get might?  I still don't have Blessing of Might.
Feral Tank: Why don't I have Blessing of Sanctuary?
Retribution Paladin: Okay Balance Druid, you have Blessing of Wisdom.
Balance Druid: Why do I only have the 10 minute version?
Retribution Paladin: Because I put the 30 minute version on our Feral Tank.
Balance Druid: Why does he get it?
Feral Tank: I'd rather have Blessing of Sanctuary.
Warlock: That's what I'm saying.
Rogue: Wow, three paladins and I can't even get Blessing of Might:
Retribution Paladin has left the raid.
Holy Paladin has left the raid.

If I still have to have some version of this conversation, then Blizzard has failed, and I will continue to want to punch a kitten in the face every time the raid leader says "okay everyone, raid buffs and let's pull."

Holy Shock will be a core healing spell available to all paladins.

No.  No.  Just... no.  This is stupid.  What the hell.  The whole article talks about how Retribution paladins are tough to balance because of all their defensive abilities, so they want to remove some of that and give them more offensive tools.  Well, part of the paladin defensive abilities are their heals, and right now the baseline Paladin healing kit is already too strong.  Almost every patch the players find some way to cheese talent trees and gear to get paladin specs that clearly weren't intended.  Remember the Sheathadin during beta? (Holy paladins going deep into Retribution for Judgments of the Wise and Sheath of Light)  Or the Protholy spec in patch 3.1?  (Protection paladins throwing on Holy gear so they could double dip in spellpower provided by the Touched by the Light talent).  Other classes QQ'ed, Blizzard changed up the talents, and we never get the offensive tools (snares, gap closers, etc) we so desperately needed in PvP.

So now they're giving every paladin two more heals, which means even more potential for PvP QQ and players finding clever ways to abuse specs, and Blizzard deathly afraid of giving us anything actually fun and useful.

We want to add to the Holy tree a nice big heal to correspond with Greater Heal. Flash of Light remains the expensive, fast heal and Holy Light is the go-to heal that has average efficiency and throughput.

Um... what?  As far as single-target heals, we're set.  We've been set since 2004.  Flash of Light is our cheap, small heal.  Holy Shock is our expensive, fast heal.  And Holy Light is our big, expensive heal.  We really don't need a "Super Holy Light," or whatever they're talking about.  We need something that targets people in an area, or heals over time, or heals the most damaged party member, or procs when something else happens, or ultimately does something besides transfer some percentage of my blue bar into a targeted single player's percentage of their green bar.

Beacon of Light will be changed to work with Flash of Light. We like the ability, but want paladins to use it intelligently and not be constantly healing for twice as much.

We all knew Beacon as we knew it was going to change, and limiting to what heals it can be used for is a good idea. 

Addendum: Looks like the devs have followed up to the preview.

Flash of Light remains a fast heal, but will be more expensive to justify the cast speed. Holy Light will be the go-to heal that has average efficiency and throughput. Beacon of Light needs to be changed so that its benefit is letting the paladin heal two targets at once, not letting the paladin get two heals for the mana cost of one. It’s intended to save GCDs and targeting time, not mana.

So we don't have a small, cheap heal at all?  What if we want to top someone off?  I either need to burn a ton of mana with Flash of Light or bomb a Holy Light on them?  Huh?

Also on the live realms currently, paladins have huge mana pools and massive throughput. The trade-off is that they are excellent single target healers and much weaker in other roles. We want paladins to be slightly more interchangeable with other healers. In Cataclysm, you should be able to have a Holy priest on the tank and a Holy paladin on the raid. We’re not sure we’ll back off of the current healing roles completely, but we definitely want to add more breadth to those whose roles are currently too narrow.

Nothing here indicates Holy paladins will have the ability to effectively raid heal.  We're apparently going to have four single target heals, a very limited AoE heal that's on a 15-second cooldown, and a "smart" heal on a 3-minute cooldown.  And we're supposed to raid heal with this?

Overall, some fresh and interesting ideas were presented by the devs.  But it's clear there's going to need to be a lot of iteration on these ideas to get all three specs to a good place, because otherwise a lot of these ideas either suffer from "more of the same" or "throwing out the baby with the bathwater."

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Long Live the King

I am Jack's raging bile duct.

So we didn't kill the Lich King, which is immensely frustrating on pretty much every level.  Our first attempt was great, we handled all phase 2 mechanics like pros (defile, val'kyrs) and got into phase 3, but then some confusion on tanking positions for the Lich King and Vile Spirits caused some deaths.  After that we just couldn't seem to get it together.  Phase 2 usually didn't give us much trouble but the phase transitions seemed to always cause problems.  Most often it was because a raging spirit would gank one of our DPS, or we'd have too many raging spirits alive and they'd blow up the OT.

Normally I wouldn't be too discouraged.  Literally 8 days ago I had just spent a weekend where I spent a combined four hours having my face wiped into the floor by Sindragosa, and this week we waltzed in and one-shot her.  And this is the Lich King, after all.  If he took less time to kill than Rotface and Putricide (both of whom I had also spent considerable time wiping to back in January), then that would've been pretty weak. 

But I'm a little worried about my future.  My ICC 10 group is basically a pseudo-PUG that one of us organizes every Saturday, inviting the same 10-12 people.  Usually enough of us show up, and if not we just try and PUG the missing spots and if they perform well we invite them next week.  But there's been talk about switching the PUG night to Friday, and if that happens I could be in a jam.  It won't be easy to find another PUG with confidence we'll kill all 12 bosses, including the Lich King himself, in a timely manner.  There's also the fact that except for the Lost Pavise of the Blue Flight from Sindragosa, ICC 10 normal has no gear upgrades for me.  The loot-whore in me really wants to start working on hard modes, except the easiest way to do hard modes is to trigger them yourself BECAUSE YOU'VE KILLED THE LICH KING... sigh.

This is the same feeling I had when my guild failed to kill Yogg-Saron almost a year ago.  But that's a story for another day...

Monday, April 12, 2010

Knocking on the Lich King's Door

I'm psyched.  Pumped.  It's impossible without the use of recreational drugs to be as jacked up as I am right now.  On my lunch break at work I jumped kicked some kid on the street and yelled "HOLY LIGHT!" in his face, that's how fired up up I am.

We're taking on the Lich King tonight.  My Saturday ICC 10 group steamrolled every boss, including that goddamn stupid cockblock Sindragosa.  We one-shot her without even thinking twice, and then I stood over her dead (undead?  re-dead?) body and then screamed "MMRRRRRRRRRRRRROAAAAAHHHHHHH" at her, just like she's been doing on my login screen for the past year and a half.

We got a handful of attempts on the Lich King, consistently making it into Phase 2 but we still need to work on our Valkyr CC/DPS and handling Defile.  So we're meeting up again tonight for a special extended session.  Hopefully a whole evening of attempts on the Lich King should lead to victory.  There's a little bit of desperation on my end, because I think our ICC 10 group may be disbanding soon, just due to Saturdays being a tough day for some people and having other real life issues come up.  So while this is going to be my first shot at taking down the Lich King, it may be the last one I get for awhile.

I've got more thoughts, but ultimately I don't want to jinx it.  It's go time.


Friday, April 9, 2010

Gevlon's Hubris

If you're familiar with the "WoW Blogosphere" then surely you've heard of Gevlon, who posts rather unconventional ideas trying to tie World of Warcraft to real life psychological and economics.  In general I find his ideas and projects very interesting, although occasionally he'll make some observation and then draw some incredible logical leap that he leaves me -- and I assume the vast majority of his readership -- wondering just what the hell he's babbling about.

Gevlon's latest project is "Gankers United," where he's starting an alliance PvP guild on EU-Magtheridon, a server where the Horde outnumber Alliance several to one.  His theory is that a small group of smart, intelligent players can fight back against the Horde and inconvenience them in ways they never thought possible.  It's "guerilla warfare" at the WoW level, which is an interesting an idea.  At first he refused to accept any level 80 transfer to his project because he wanted to prove leveling in such a "hostile environment" is possible.  Well, he now has twenty level 80s in his guild, and in his last post, he's argued the fact that the Horde 'let this happen' means they're all collectively morons and slackers. 

Well Gevlon, sorry to say, but they let this happen because they didn't give a shit.  And while you're going to counter with, "not giving a shit is what morons and slackers do," there was honestly nothing to give a shit about.  A handful of alliance players leveling in Desolace is not cause to drop everything you're doing in WoW and start ganking them.  Basically what Gevlon is doing is the equivalent of this:

Suppose I'm reading cnn.com and in the comments in one of the articles, I see someone say, "I am starting a new cult that will cause traffic jams for all Americans. I will get my legions of followers to take to all the freeways in America and drive exactly 5 miles below the speed limit. For every car we get stuck in a traffic jam I will earn 1 point, and every car that manages to drive past my traffic jam, I will deduct 20 points. But I will give you a chance, we will have to earn money to buy our cars first, we won't just use the cars we already may own."

(I'm using traffic jams are something that is very frustrating because not technically illegal, just like ganking).

Would you take to the streets and hunt him down? Would you immediately seek him out and drive past him to cause him to "lose 20 points"? Would you even know he existed?  I doubt it, unless you were reading the same arbitrary, obscure CNN article he posted in.  The idea that someone could get hundreds of people that would spend hours of their time clogging up roadways for any material impact is ridiculous. 

Four weeks later this same guy posts another comment.  He says, "Haha! I now have 20 followers and we have now all purchased large cars. Now anyone that already has a car can join us. The fact that nobody tried to stop us indicates just how M&S the American population are. They should be browsing every single piece of information on the web to find out about us. They should have harassed us at our jobs so we stopped earning money to buy cars. They should have found out where we drive and driven past us to get us -20 points. They'd rather do their jobs and see their loved ones than take action against us. They think in the worst-case they will still find ways to drive around us or just take side streets. Everyone is an M&S."

Nobody will spend any time trying to stop every crazy traffic-jam-causing cultist because the vast majority of them will have no impact on ANYONE'S life. Gevlon, have an impact. Make a difference. Cause them real, unbridled hardship and pain, and then judge their reactions.  Until then this is just another project like Ungeared -- amounting to nothing besides a handful of blog posts and accomplishments that nobody gave a shit about.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Sindragosa Is a Terribly Designed Fight

All right, I'm biased because I've spent a combined 8 hours wiping on her, but I seriously hate this fight with a passion.  I get really frustrated with raids that have some sort of trivial mechanic that can one-shot people in the first phase(s), and the actual execution difficulty is in the second phase which is fundamentally different than the rest of the fight.  If the second phase doesn't even happen until several minutes into the fight then it's even more frustrating.  I basically don't feel like I get the repetition I need to work on the fight and improve.

I'm not saying any fight with multiple phases is bad.  Kel'thuzad doesn't match this type of raid encounter because the first phase with the adds is only a couple minutes long and it's trivial to survive.  Professor Putricide doesn't match this fight because the execution is in the first two phases, not the last.  I used to think the quintessential offender of this type of raid encounter was Malygos, because getting to Phase 3 wasn't trivial and happened several minutes into the fight, and then all of a sudden you had to figure out how to use your drake on the fly.

But Malygos doesn't have anything on Sindragosa, which has two mechanics for one- or two-shotting players (the air phase and Blistering Cold).  Between Unchained Magic and air phases holding up DPS, usually even a flawless execution of Phase 1 still means getting to Phase 2 seven minutes into the fight, and that's where the actual hard part of the fight begins, where the raid needs to figure out iceblock placement and movement.

This fight would actually be easier if Phase 2 started earlier, because even though you would execute the iceblocks longer, you'd actually get more attempts to try it out.  As the fight is currently constructed, with some bad luck and/or raid brain-farts during attempts, it can be 20-30 minutes before your raid even gets to Phase 2, where they actually need lots of repetitions to get it down.

I'm not saying I want easy encounters or that Sindragosa shouldn't have a Phase 2.  But if you're going to make part of the fight hard, don't make it so agonizing just to even begin tackling those hard parts.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Why Not Just Delay When The Disenchant Happens?

Ever since Blizzard introduced the LFD tool in patch 3.3, there have been discussions over how to improve the Need/Greed/Disenchant system they imposed on everyone.  To me the problem comes down to that the system doesn't give you an option to say, "hey, I don't really NEED that, but I kind of want it, so even though you won the Greed roll can we make a deal for it?"  However if the player who did win chose Disenchant, then it's too late.

Almost every proposed solution I've seen typically involves adding a layer, or multiple layers, of additional mechanics.  Adding a fourth option called "Need off-spec," or an option that allows you to compensate everyone else, etc.  In my opinion this is completely unnecessary.  Players figured out looting conventions before patch 3.3 and they can certainly figure it out now.  The only problem is the Disenchant option prevents communication.  By the time that Boomkin can pipe up and say, "hey-wait-do-you-mind-if-I-snag-that-cloth-caster-belt," it's already sitting as a Dream Shard in the warrior tank's backpack.

So I propose delaying when the actual item gets disenchanted.  Maybe Disenchant means you have the option to right-click on the item and turn it into a shard, or maybe they get sharded when you zone out of the instance, or maybe there's some guy you can talk to at the end of the instance that will shard them for you.  It's good to have some safeguards to prevent ninjas, but I think Blizzard would find that if they gave us a chance to work out the edge-case loot scenarios on our own, we'd do just fine.