Heroic raiding as endgame for non-elite players like mePosted: July 12, 2012
There has been a lot of discussion over the past couple of weeks about things like attunements, nostalgia, hardcore vs. casual, new raids vs. the good old days, and things of that nature. And I find it very interesting to see what people have to say.
I’ve already started a couple of posts on the general topic, but I think I’m going to trash them because I don’t know if I can write a good argument about any of this.
However, I do have a perspective.
Over the past couple of months, I’ve had discussions with a couple of my friends on the merits of certain raids. In general, my feeling is that Ulduar was a raiding highlight for me, and although Icecrown Citadel was not perfect, it was pretty epic, and killing the Lich King in April 2010 was one of the most exciting raid events I’ve been a part of. Comparing ICC with Dragon Soul – those raids being the two end-game raids I’ve participated in when they were current – I have to say that downing Arthas was about as good as it has ever been for me as a raider, while killing Deathwing was pretty cool. But it wasn’t the same. It seemed quite a bit easier than ICC.
During this expansion, I’ve mainly raided with a 10-man team. That team is about one-half the same team that I was on for the Lich King fight, and the other half are generally people who have long raided with the guild we are a part of now. It’s a good guild atmosphere, and a strong team.
While talking with my raid leader about the issue, we came up with some reasons that could be.
One of them seemed to be Raid Finder: with people able to get two piece or four piece set bonuses more quickly, along with 390 end-boss weapons, the overall strength of what I think of as the middle class of progression and casual raiding seems to be stronger overall. In my case, I was able to start raiding T13 – joining the team at the beginning of April – doing heroic modes four months after the expansion dropped with an ilvl of 390 and my set bonus and pretty much all of my valor gear, and was able to contribute right away. If that had been the case in Wrath, with no RF, jumping into regular modes that late would have been a much more difficult proposition.
Additionally, the raid was just easier than ICC, and we didn’t see any of the gating that came with ICC’s rollout. All kinds of guilds cleared most or all of DS as soon as it was available, and heroic modes were underway right away.
One of the ideas that I’ve generally shared with my raid leader is that heroic modes weren’t something that we necessarily had to do. The motivation wasn’t there. And indeed, I had only killed a handful of heroic mode encounters before Tier 13. However, with Dragon Soul, it sort of became a necessity in order to get anything out of the raiding game.
I don’t consider myself to be anywhere close to an elite player. However, I’m a good player, at least with my hunter, and to me it seemed like heroic mode Dragon Soul fights were more like some of the fights in ICC than regular DS encounters were. And so we collectively – players at and around my level, on teams at or around my team’s level – were forced* to look at heroic Dragon Soul as the real endgame challenge. This was not the case in ICC – we had a good team, we worked hard for months, and we killed the Lich King midway through the buffing cycle. And as I said, in contrast, Deathwing died to many thousands of guilds in the few weeks after 4.3 dropped.
*I’m not saying that was a bad thing. I’m just saying it represented a shift in how we’d normally done things.
So anyway, that’s where my line of thinking is right now. Heroic modes were, in fact, the new endgame for players/teams of my/our caliber. In Tier 13, I almost doubled the number of heroic kills under my belt.
Now, a devil’s advocate could ask the questions: a) Have you maybe just improved? b) Is your overall team maybe just stronger than your Wrath team?
The answers to those questions are:
a) Yes, I’m pretty sure that I’ve improved as a player and raider – and I’m also playing a class that I enjoy more than before, and it’s a ranged class, to boot.
b) I don’t know. Perhaps I could say that our current team is stronger, but I tend to think that it’s roughly the same quality team as the the one from Wrath.
We have a strong healer, three strong DPS including myself, and a strong tank / raid leader from our old ICC team. Our other tank is also strong, perhaps a little better than the ICC tank, perhaps not. Our other healers are roughly as strong as the ICC healers. And the other two DPS on our DS team are awesome, but so were the other two DPS from the ICC team – in fact, they were both better than I was, and I did fine in ICC. So in my opinion, I don’t know that the quality of the people we play with has jumped significantly in Dragon Soul as compared with ICC.
Difficulty (again), and missing that ‘final-raid edge’
I certainly do get the nostalgia bug on occasion, and I admit to wanting to see a better raid in MoP. I loved the Ragnaros encounter in Firelands, and I generally liked Firelands anyway (although Rhyolith wasn’t a fave), and there were encounters in Tier 11 that I liked. But Dragon Soul, while a fine raid, didn’t seem to have that feeling and edge, that special something that combines with excellent quality design to make an end-raid spectacular, and the fights only got really interesting for me when we started working on Ultraxion, Zon’ozz, Yor’sahj, and Hagara, in heroic mode.
Personal philosophy shift to heroic modes as end game
My point is this: all things being relative, perhaps it’s time for people like me to consider – from now until Blizzard adjusts its raid design philosophy and raid-wide buff/debuff execution – that Heroic modes are the actual end-game. When we finished ICC back in April 2010, I was ready to take a break – a few weeks, a month – to cool down and recharge. External circumstances made it so that I ended up taking a break for most of the rest of the year.
But now, banging our heads against a real challenge in Dragon Soul didn’t truly begin until HMs started, so perhaps we (my friends and I) need to look at HMs as the goal, and not as just a bonus. Not that we have to consider ourselves failures if we don’t kill most or all of a tier’s heroic bosses, but that HMs become part of the conversation earlier.
Of course, that whole idea could be thrown out completely in MoP, depending on a host of factors including how many people come back for MoP, how raid difficulty vs. gear acquisition plays out, how well we play, things that Blizz does… there are too many for me to discuss right now.
As I said, this is just a thought – fell free to differ!
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