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Cataclysm Heroics – A Shot In The Foot?

If you’ve paid any attention at all to the WoW community in the last few weeks, you’ve probably heard how much more difficult the new heroics are. I’ve been in quite a few at this point, won some, lost some, and can say that I agree: we’re harder now than we’ve been since heroics first opened in TBC. For the first time in the last two years, LFD’ers who have spent the last year completely turned off are having to click in and pay attention again.

The results are incredibly polarizing. I’m not exaggerating when I say the LFD tool is about as hit or miss as any mechanic has ever been. Sometimes, you’ll get a group that’s, well, abnormal: they’re good players, communicative players, who aren’t afraid to own up to their own playstyles. The others are mass-pull, no speak, gogogo’ers. The latter fails.  Always.

But, why is that? These players are average, if not a little impatient, socially inept, and in need of babysitting. Who are we kidding, though. It doesn’t take Lance Charming to run one of these dungeons. It doesn’t take someone willing to min-max and know every other class’s CC.  All it takes is a basic knowledge of 5-10 tooltips, not to stand in the bad, and to stand in the good.

The reason everything seems so much harder is that each encounter is depends on every single member of the party. In many cases, one screw up can make the difference between life and death. Whether it’s lack of DPS, an interrupt, or even a slow, every player – good and bad – is more important now than they’ve ever been. And unfortunately, it seems like the weight of bad players is far heavier than it really should be.

The end result is players hitting a brick wall when they utilize they LFD tool. It’s Russian roulette with your lockout timer.

It’s also social conditioning. If players want to succeed, they have to talk. They have to be on the ball and not tuned out. They have to look after one another instead of just themselves. Coming from Wrath, all of this is foreign. Gogogo, sppeeed run plz, im just here for my emblems.

The player experience is also far less pleasant. A hunter fails to trap in time? Yell at them. Tell them they suck. Healers wastes mana keeping  a DPS alive? Fail healer.  Paladin without the right aura up? Alright, that is pretty bad, but still. EVERYBODY is being chastised more.

Is this how we come out of the Wrath hole and into the delightfully seared Cataclysm daylight? Is this how our one month respite before the raid grind ends, yelling at each other because, frankly, everyone’s frustrated and we need someone to blame?

Now, this post isn’t a roundabout way of calling for nerfs. For the love of God, I hope they don’t. If this is what it takes to restore WoW’s population to the level of actually speaking to one another, so be it. I just don’t see how this will not pre-emptively burn a bunch of people out. What DPS wants to go from Wrath where they felt like a king, to feeling like some mob’s meat rag and get yelled at for it? What tank or healer wants to take the brunt of the blame-game when runs are more often than not complicated by more than simple mana of HP?

I’m one of those tanks. I do it because I like the challenge. I like having to mark and pull carefully and strategize. I like having to work together and, yes, organize the group by calling kill-order.  I’m also not shy about defending myself – and others – when someone tries to offset the blame. I like the feeling that comes with knowing every dungeon and every encounter like the back of your hand, and then sharing that knowledge with others. Maybe it’s the teacher in me.

But that’s not everyone.

If the average player logs in for an one-to-two hours a night, every night, and spends that time solely in dungeons, they’ll have about 21 opportunities to get an upgrade. If every item has an 80-85% chance not to remain hidden, you have a recipe for a lengthy stay in random pick up groups.

The message from Blizzard is pretty clear: get a guild group or enter trial by fire. You will learn. Your group will learn. You’d better just plan on staying in that one instance for a while.

Right now, the general populace is *not* ready for the challenge these encounters provide. It’s getting better. My advice is that, if you’re not a raider and don’t feel like dealing with it, take a break for a few months. Level an alt. There’s no point in putting yourself through the frustration and repair bills unless you savor the challenge and the trial and error these encounters provide.

But if you do, get in while the getting is good. It will be another couple years before we see the community at this place again. Once this tier of raid content is set on farm, Cataclysm will never be so “hard” again.


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  1. Longasc

    The teacher in you also knows that kids only learn if they get a little challenged. And that they stay dumb and get dumber and dumber if you don’t.

    Maybe it is preference, but well… do people really want to randomly team up with anonymous people and faceroll an easy dungeon or rather cooperate with other players they get to know a little to overcome a moderate challenge?

    Questing got simplified and almost semi-cinematic. This seems to be the polar opposite to the Cataclysm dungeons!
    Quite fascinating.

    BTW, why do you recommend a break, how about asking guild mates to team up?

    1. Chris

      Right on. Learned helplessness is touching lightly on some player’s shoulders. The easiest way around that is accountability, which is definitely a part of the dungeon experience now.

      My issue with that is only with the hyper critical nature of LFD runs. It’s one thing to be accountable to people you know and trust. It’s also easier to own up when you’ve made a mistake and trust they’ll let you learn and get better. In randoms, it’s a group of strangers with little to no tolerance of this new design. It must be quite a shock to players who coasted along throughout the last year. When it takes so many to gear up, I have to think it’s only going to make it feel like a grind sooner.

      But, I only advocate taking a break if you don’t feel like dealing with things as they are now. You can be a great player and called a retard for an innocent mistake. As gear levels get higher, difficulty will naturally decrease and that kind of stuff will be less common.

      If you can, though, yeah, definitely, run with a guild over taking a break. I personally think this difficulty level is worth experiencing. What better way than with friends?

  2. Andrew

    I hated tanking in WotLK for the faceroll aspect of it all. As the expansion progressed, players got sloppier and sloppier because blizzard’s dungeon strategy was simply AOE-tank and AOE-nuke. Ugh.

    It’s nice to hear that they’ve restored some need for tactical decision making and planning in the game, even if I’m thoroughly done with it all.
    Andrew recently posted..Norman Peterkin- A Return to Battle

  3. Anjin

    I can’t help but wonder if people are preparing for heroics they same way they did back in TBC. I remember running normal dungeon after dungeon until I had enough gear (and the rep requirement!) to hang in the heroics. I’m still taking my time with the expansion, but my plan is to be as geared up as possible so that I only have to focus on execution in heroics.
    Anjin recently posted..News Filter- Champions Online F2P Starts January 25- 2011

  4. Green Armadillo

    It’s easier to take this view as a tank with instant queue times. On my DPS characters, queue times for normal dungeons are now three times as long as they were in Wrath. It isn’t possible to run ANY five man dungeon in that 1-2 hour session you’re talking about, regardless of your skill or your willingness to communicate, because there’s not enough time left when your queue finally pops. Though I suppose it’s possible that there are more DPS at the moment while they level, I think it’s more likely that the increased difficulty is driving down the numbers of tanks and healers willing to tolerate random groups (and/or the number of DPS capable of moonlighting in those roles on their off-specs).

    This isn’t the fault of tanks and healers – players should do what they find fun, and I can definitely see how the status quo isn’t fun. I’m just pointing out that the Crab says the village is saved, but the buildings where I’m standing look like they’ve been nerfed/burned to the ground.
    Green Armadillo recently posted..Guide To WoW Cataclysm Newbie Area Revamps

    1. Chris

      That’s a good point. It makes it much more difficult to gear up in a decent timeframe when you have to dedicate longer-than-your-average-Wrath-raid for even the basic heroic. That’s one of the reasons it baffles me so when DPS drop after one wipe.

      BTW, did you just call me a crab?

      1. Green Armadillo

        I’ve never dropped after a single wipe, but I will say that I had a tank the other day who seemed to think that they were supposed to be practicing their taunt skill on their party members. A DPS who tried this would be booted in a second and looking at another 45+ minute queue, but what does a tank have to fear if they’ll be back in as soon as they can convince the rest of the team to vote them out? (I ended up dropping that group after the Prima Tanka-donna declared that he was going to intentionally wipe the group until we got rid of the Warlock, who had displeased him. We were halfway through but it just wasn’t worth the 90 JP to me.)

        And no, my comment about the Crab nerfing something to the ground was not referring to you. 😛
        Green Armadillo recently posted..Guide To WoW Cataclysm Newbie Area Revamps

  5. Maxivik

    I personally strapped on a bunch of my lvl 80 gear and had friends drag me through the heroics… they are so easy … =P

    My point for being a jerk is to demonstrate the reality of the struggle that WoW has at balancing difficulty levels. In my opinion the best thing they’ve ever done, as annoying as it was, was to make attunments for nearly EVERYTHING. Its a pain in the ass, but if they want to reset the culture of the game from roflstomp to hmm lets think about this, then they need to do so in a way that doesn’t lend itself to head into wall over and over

  6. Xenovore

    I gave up on PUGs long ago. Dungeon-running with friends is fine — even when the crap hits the fan; friends are more willing to work together, help each other out, and forgive the screw-ups.

    PUGs, on the other hand, are — in my experience — typically filled with lazy, whiney, critical, know-it-all asshats. No thanks. (Maybe queue times wouldn’t be so bad if everyone knew they be playing with cool people…)

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