There has been some noise out on the intertubes about whether Wrath has been a good or bad expansion, so I reckon it’s time to throw my hat into the ring. I started in WoW around patch 2.1 or so, and didn’t hit 70 on my first toon until sometime shortly before the Isle of Free Money dropped. We never pulled enough people together consistently to run anything more than dailies and the occasional 5-man (steamvaults blocked us for ages).
IoQD was vast amounts of fun, there was a real feeling of progress, in pushing back the forces opposing us to regain control of the Island. It rocked.
So, enter the Lich King, the call is made and we packed our thermals (well everyone else did, I’m a dwarf our home is permanently covered in snow, Northrend.. it’s bloody summer camp by comparision, cold weather my … I digress).
The guild as a whole was a lot more active which meant by the time we all hit 80 and decided to have a proper pop at dungeons there were sufficient warm bodies around. Of course we were inexperienced having run very few dungeons and went in with Team Tin Can (four pallies and a warrior), two of which were healing and three in prot spec, so killing things got “interesting”. We learnt a lot, we had (and this is important) fun learning.
Lessons were learnt, respeccing and gearing happened so we moved to a single tank and moved to a more normal tank,heal,dps setup, bosses died, badges dropped, gear dropped and the tarts of the group also …. pugged. As the druid hit 80 and dual-specced tree I moved to pugging VoA and Naxx, good experience, requiring a certain level of “patience” and thickness of skin, which I have in abundnace thanks to my day job. Ulduar came and with it full raiding.
So where does that leave us?
I think these worked well, gearing to the n-1 tier is simple enough and just requires time, there is no requirement to grind all the previous raids to gain enough gear to pull your weight in the current level of raiding. It looks like they’re taking this forward in Cata but in a cleaner form. There are plenty of people who complain about this approach “welfare epics” and so on, however Blizz understandably want the work they put into the raid instances to be available to a much larger pool of players, let’s face it when the focus of the major patches is the raid instance does it make any form of sense to lock 98% of your playerbase out of them?
They’ve taken a lot of flak for bringing back Naxx in 10 & 25 man form, “recycling content”, “taking the easy route” and so on, however that does ignore the effort which will have been put in to properly balance this raid for 10 & 25. That said it does look like the tuning was on the “easy” side with the content being cleared in double quick time, however it was cleared only by the top guilds who drive for those world first positions. For a lot of the playerbase it did cause some headaches and provided a challenge.
I have to admit I love the look of this raid, the bosses have some interesting mechanics, turning on hardmodes requires some extra thought and focus. The biggest gripe would have to be size of the raid (though this does help build the whole “epic titan” feel) and the limited number of optional bosses. Let me expand on that for a moment as it’s particularly important when a guild is working a specific boss or mode, there’s little as depressing or painful as wiping constently on the same boss for weeks, with little or no let up. One of the most effective ways of breaking this is to have enough optional bosses (or alternate raids) to use to “get something dead dammit!“.
More like this Blizz.
Trial of the Crusader
A disaster, nothing more, nothing less. No trash, speaking as a tank I love trash, it’s my warm up, it’s random, it remains a challenge, the dps love the pretty numbers from nuking stuff with complete unselfconcious abandon.
Trial… a circular room which contained bosses and no trash, it was boring.
I also do have a certain downer on the place thanks to the five (yes five) weeks wiping on Beasts Heroic, that was a major test for the guild.
Trial was simply put the worse raid in the expansion, I’ll leave other bloggers to comment on how it rates against pre-wrath raids.
I admit to liking it, not as much as Ulduar but it’s a fun place to tank, the artwork is darker but no less epic than the titan city. However we’ve been in there a long long time. ICC opened in December 2009, at the time of writing it’s been open for over eight months, current estimations put Cata dropping in November which will make near as dammit a year of a single raid instance (no I’m not going to count Ruby Sanctum, we had that down in two weeks).
So epic raid, good bosses, LK was a good solid challenge, but guys… we’re seriously starting to hate seeing the inside of that place.
Even those of us who never raided prior to wrath have seen her go down (four manning in heroic gear in her original form). A filler, nice but nothing special.
This was a challenge, the trash hurt and required some decent planning to get right. Halion is a good positioning and control fight in the twilight realm, however it’s nothing massively special and if it was meant to keep the players interested for a significant length of time it failed.
Raiding is too easy
Often heard from the lips of raiders who would prefer that to raid you must commit large amounts of time to a guild, and spend the time not raiding in preparing to raid. It is massively easier to get into raiding in Wrath, that is true. However looking at the ICC pug scene there are very few pugs which are looking at heroic, only a slightly higher number which get much further than 6/12 and most fall apart at Deathbringer.
What I take from that is the first bosses are ‘easy’ and accessible to a lot of players, however there are checkpoints within the raid. Each “mini-endboss” (Deathbringer, Putri, Blood Queen & Sindy) is a gear, skill and general raid competency check which weeds out the bulk of pugs. Personally I see this as a good balance. Let the casual raiders see the inside, while keeping a certain level of ‘hardness’ to keep the achievements and access to Arthas limited to those who can spend time and focus on reaching him.
As for those who want a return to raiding for the elite only, tough, it’s not going to happen.
Billed as a IoQD-alike it never really fulfilled it’s potential. There was no drive to go and work on the tournament and preparing to face the Lich King, IoQD had the gated opening of sections of the Isle based on the number of players going to do the dailies, whereas with the tournament we simply had to wait for the next patch to drop.
Ponies… this is possibly the single most hated part of the whole expansion as far as I’m concerned. Jousting felt like (and still does) something rammed in to make us love the vehicle mechanic. Combine ponies with lag and it becomes an exercise in futility and pain.
Please do not do that to us again.
Where does this leave us?
On balance I liked Wrath, there have been some things which were annoying (Ponies, Circular room of boredom, ICC being far far too long), other things have rocked (being able to raid, new 5-man instances and so on). Do Blizz need to tune things, of course, it’s in the nature of the beast, do I think they got it massively wrong. No.